HORIST: Lawyers: The American ruling class
We generally use the term “ruling class” in reference to aristocratic and authoritarian governments – and for good reason. It properly implies that there is an elite group within society and maintains control of the masses.
In the United States, we have one of the most powerful and entrenched ruling classes in the world, and it is eroding our personal freedoms every day. It is why we have so many people in jail. It is why we are the most litigious societies on earth. It is why fear of liability has ended so much of our enjoyment – from the absence of diving boards to rare hamburgers. They are one of the reasons we have such exorbitant health costs, such high insurance premiums and even the high cost of food.
I am sure by now you know I am referring to lawyers.
Lawyers come in a variety of flavors – and most serve good purposes for the most part. We need them to help write up contracts, for example. But they are also the reason contracts have become so long and complicated – engaging in language that must be translated by … yep … a lawyer. I purchased my first house by signing three pieces of paper and had no need to hire a lawyer. When I sold my last house, I had more than 50 documents to read and sign – most of which had to be translated and explained at $150 per hour.
There was a time when it was unethical for lawyers to advertise or to engage in “ambulance chasing.” Today the airwaves are filled with solicitations to sue doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. One television spot solicits anyone who has had a “slip and fall” accident – a type of civil suit that is fraught with fraudulent claims.
It was not so long ago when a person could represent themselves in court. Today, the rules of judicial justice have been jerry-rigged so that it is impossible for a non-attorney to traverse rules and procedures that makes Dungeons and Dragons look like Chutes and Ladders. Facts, testimony and common sense have been replaced by a maze of legal technicalities. There is a reason that it is the “best lawyer” who too often wins the case, not the best case based on the merits.
Perhaps the greatest threat to personal freedom is the pervasiveness of those legislator-lawyers. Since they dominate our Congress, state legislatures and our major city councils that enact our laws, they can and do expand the market for lawyers and pass the laws that protect the profession from accountability.
When considering this issue, it would be good to ponder what America would be like if we were ruled over by doctors, teachers, military officers or car dealers. As worthy as each of those professions are, we would immediately see how they could … nay, would … get corrupted and tilt legislation and regulation to their professional benefit.
Lawyers are protected from the very civil liabilities that they impose on the rest of society. What happens if you want to sue a lawyer for malpractice? In many areas, you need to have an “independent” attorney attest to the fact that your case is reasonable. It is sort of a pre-trial trial. Of course, you need to hire an attorney to take up your case – and most attorneys, especially the better one, will not do it. Of course, you can file an ethics complaint. That will be reviewed superficially by a board composed of … lawyers. The outcome is almost always in favor of the lawyer.
If you find it necessary to take the issue to court, and have gotten a lawyer, your case will be decided by a lawyer in a black robe – otherwise known as a judge. Now, if you think the laws protecting lawyers should be changed, you can always lobby your legislature to change the law, but that will require you to convince a lot of those lawyer legislators who benefit from the law you want to change.
Think of it this way. What if you wanted to sue your local car dealer, and you had to have a car dealer representing you in court – and your case would be decided by another car dealer. Would you expect justice?
And it is not just the legislators, but all those other government officials who are lawyers – governors, lieutenant governors, mayors, treasurers, county clerks and on and on. There was a time that practicing law did not require a formal law degree. Abraham Lincoln was considered a brilliant attorney even though he learned the law by on-the-job training. We have had Supreme Court Justices without law degrees.
Over the years, the law profession has tightened its grip on government offices. As a purely administrative position, a state attorney general did not need a law degree. Now it is required in many states, either by law or through public persuasion. The same is true of many sheriff’s offices.
The legal profession has fought against and decreased the number of elected judges – replacing the voice of the people with selections made by panels of lawyers. It was lawyer legislators that gave us the self-benefiting “retention ballot” – for all practical purposes ensuring the “retention” of incumbent judges. As an election process the retention ballot is a sham.
When we talk about the increasing reach and power of our government bureaucracies, we are looking at the many lawyers who head all those bureaus, department, agencies and commission. The lawyer dominated bureaucracies – with their ever-expanding regulatory (law-making) authority — derives their power from the invisible umbilical cords that connect them to their legislative colleagues. One might even refer to them as some sort of “deep state.”
Contrary to what our Founders’ had in mind, we have become a uni-profession nation. Our government is no longer represented by merchants, doctors, professors, accountants, farmers or school teachers. While we talk about Congress, boardrooms or even Hollywood as “not looking like America” because of a lack of broader representation, we assume that the business of politics is merely an extension of the law profession. If you look at our tens of thousands of senior government officials from a professional standpoint, we do not look at all like America.
The unfortunate assumption that the law degree is the ticket to a political career was seen in a recent tweet by showboat attorney Michael Avenatti in which he criticized Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley for not being a lawyer. He tweeted: “Am I correct that @ChuckGrassley never attended law school? How is it possible that the Senate Judiciary Comm Chairman has no legal experience?” In other words, in Avenatti’s arrogant mind, a United States Senator must be an attorney.
I am also concerned about the legal professions encroachment into the new industry. Many of those talking heads you see on television are not trained journalists, they are lawyers – and like so many of their political counterparts, they are former prosecutors. It is one of the reasons, I believe, that so many of the news programs tend to be prosecutorial in nature rather than balanced and informative as journalists are supposedly trained to be. Chris Cuomo, Michael Smerconish, Ari Melber and Joe Scarborough just a few of the hosts who hold law degrees. And check out how many of those bobble-headed panelists are listed as “former federal prosecutor.” Such federal prosecutor positions have long been a stepping-stone to high public office – and now media careers.
At times in the past, I have written how our lawyer ruling class has significantly harmed America’s once competitive advantage on the world stage. I have pessimistically proffered my belief that China will become the number one economy in the world – and it is because of the difference in ruling classes. Just as our ruling class operates behind the façade of two different parties, the Chinese Communist Party is the vehicle through which their ruling class rules.
Our ruling class encumbers progress at every turn. The cost of every good and service is significantly impacted by legislation, regulation and liability. Ubiquitous lawsuits slow down the development of new business and the introduction of new products. Despite the Constitution’s demand for swift justice, the law profession drags out cases – requiring more fees on all sides – for decades in many cases.
In China, the ruling class are engineers. And just as our ruling class produces a groundswell of lawyers, the Chinese ruling class produces a generation of engineers of all kind. Just try to find a young Asian student who is not studying engineering.
Engineers, unlike lawyers, invent things, produce things and commercialize things. You need look no further to understand why China has become a manufacturing powerhouse for the world.
Having negotiated and signed scores of agreements, contracts, memoranda of understanding and letters of intent in China, I can personally affirm the Chinese aversion to lawyers. It would be rare to have a Chinese lawyer involved in the process. In fact, they have openly said that they would not want lawyers to take over China like they have the United States.
Make no mistake about it. A free society needs lawyers – civil and criminal. But we do not need any professional establishment as a ruling class – especially lawyers.