Barak Lurie followed up on last week’s discussion, that similar to a fish that doesn’t know a life beyond the water, we are not aware of our own environment. In this week’s Lurie Law segment on AM870, Barak delves further on how this applies in law and the entire judicial process:
Last week I talked about how a fish doesn’t know he’s in water. We humans know it, but he doesn’t. Yet in other ways, are we living in our own “water,” but just don’t recognize it? It applies politically, religiously, and personally.
If you look at history, the only way people thought of governance at one time was through kings, who ruled their people as subjects to please him. The notion of freedom and accountability to the electorate was an aberration. And so America is an aberration. As our friend Dennis Prager has repeatedly pointed out, the norm is tyranny and chaos.
This week, I took this notion of being a fish not knowing he’s in water in a different direction -- how this applies to the law.
We live in the “water” when it comes to the law. First, we take for granted the rule of law when it comes to our society. We hear grumblings that there are too many lawyers, court systems have run amok, and that we’re a litigious society. But we forget that it’s the rule of law – and its enforcement -- that is instrumental to the fabric of society itself, and that without a robust legal system, America could not accomplish 1/100th of what it has.
We observe laws because we feel comfortable that the courts will enforce them. When that sense is gone, you get chaos. Sadly, now the media and much of the general population not only trivialize the court system, but actually demonize it.
Perhaps as a result of this decreasing stature of the courts, the state is actually pulling money from the courts – as though it were some discretionary “pork” government program. It is not. Not by a longshot. It is one of the 3 essential limited roles of government.
The water is that everything will be OK even with the absence of law. The state of California is pulling $30 million of funding from the Los Angeles Superior court system. This has resulted in thousands of layoffs, and overworked judges. Judges are overwhelmed and you can see it when you go to trial. Their workload is doubling and they cannot devote the same attention to each case. And it’s happening statewide.
We’re not realizing how dangerous this is. We think things just work out without the rule of law. It won’t. This should be so obvious, but apparently it is not.
The second area of issue is Regulations. Show me any regulatory scheme that has not backfired. Take the minimum wage. The original intention of that regulatory scheme was to help ensure people have a decent “liveable” wage. It sounds nice, but who decides what that wage is? Some may say a minimum hourly wage of $10 is reasonable, but who says so? And why does it apply equally across the nation, where income levels are quite different anyway?
But all the minimum wage does is cause employers to lay people off, or at least not hire more people. And so the unemployment rate goes up. Employers also then seek cheaper labor from illegal immigration, which only exacerbates that problem as well.
A backfire, you might say.
People think that things only work when the government is regulating, and somebody needs to be in charge. That’s the “water” I’m talking about here. But it just ain’t so.
I remember learning as a young boy that Soviet Union communist officials were flabbergasted when they visited the United States – flabbergasted – when they learned that soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, and other amenities somehow became available without someone managing and orchestrating all the supplies and distribution. It was so ingrained into Soviet thinking. Then Communism collapsed when its economy collapsed. The truth is, if you really want results like efficiency, innovation and wealth creation, you need to give it to private enterprise. This explains the American success story more than anything else.
A caller from Los Angeles argued that the FDA is doing something positive because it ensures products brought to market are safe. But there are no statistics on that, or anything to show that the FDA somehow prevented health problems or created greater safety. It’s only an assumption, or even a desired perception. But the FDA, like all government agencies, are inherently inefficient, pick “winners” and “losers”, are susceptible to lobbying, have their own agenda (political and otherwise), and are corruptible. It is easier to show how the FDA actually stifles bringing good drugs and good foods to market. Here’s this governing agency that decides what’s going to be good for you, but it takes a lot longer for us here in the US to receive good items than other countries. Sometimes these involve life-saving drugs that people need, now.
Delays and politics help no one, and regulatory schemes actually hurt the people they’re intended to help. We don’t need the FDA to enforce this. If we didn’t have the FDA, and a company produced a dangerous drug, what would happen? A lawsuit – or event the threat of a lawsuit – would address the wrong. And a court looks at the totality of circumstances, not just whether a drug company complied with this or that regulatory step.
Obamacare is another example of the “water” in which we view the law. The water there is that many assume that unless we have the government takes over health care, people will not have access to healthcare. Yet to work, everything in this 2,400-page plan has to work just so. If one thing fails, the whole scheme collapses. And the most pathetic thing is that very few people – even the legislators who voted for it -- actually know what the entire 2,400 page law contains. Virtually no one has read it in its entirety. Obamacare must fail under its own enormous weight, and because government will be responsible for administrating it. That’s all you need to know. And not one industry in the history of America (or the world) – not even one -- has fared better under government control.
Already, insurance premiums are going way up – despite the administration’s promises to the contrary. We all knew it was nonsense. Obamacare also premises its platform on having the same amount of doctors, but we actually need an exponential growth in doctors if we’re insuring more people -- as is the alleged purpose of Obamacare. And we’re certainly not going to get that if we pay doctors less, and regulate them more. Maybe we’ll bring them in from other countries?
Another regulatory scheme where we don’t recognize the “water” we’ve lived in is airline regulation. A long time ago, people thought that the only way to get an airline to fly from Los Angeles to Boise, Idaho (for example) was by the government requiring it – through regulation. The theory was that the airline would have no incentive to fly an unprofitable route, so the airlines won’t fly to all these smaller cities. So let’s make them.
Yet when deregulation happened in the early 1980s, an organic solution arose: the “hub and spoke” concept. People could fly to a main city (the “hub”) and then to the smaller city (the “spoke”). It was cheaper, far more efficient, good for the airlines, and many more flights filled the skies. It was good for everybody.
Mike, a caller from Santa Monica, argued that possibly another regulation that has worked are food handling processes, which he believes led to decreased food-borne illnesses. Yet no one can present meaningful evidence showing that these regulations result in any greater cleanliness in food. It did, however, create a lot of busy paperwork and bureaucracy. In fact, with regulations, you send the message to food suppliers that all that he needs to do is follow certain regulations. But you can do anything else then, correct?
Yes, there are regulations in place but private organizations have every incentive to ensure that their food is handled better than anyone else’s. They want to be good corporate citizens. People again fail to realize that the reason why people want to provide clean food is not because regulations instruct them to so, but because it’s good for business.
Remember: there is no regulation that requires a plane not to crash. But an airline will do everything possible not to crash. Get back to me when you figure out that mystery.
The naiveté is simply staggering, despite all that history has shown us about government inefficiencies and its inherent impediment to business. Yet many still believe government knows better than the private sector how to handle food, how and when to provide flights to which cities at what price, how much you should pay your employees, and how to provide health care.
The discourse among us reflects this “water” in thinking. But it fails, just as the understanding of the Soviet representative who believed only the government could orchestrate the flow of supply and demand.
So step outside of yourself. Get out of your “water,” as it were, and test your assumptions. You’ll see much more clearly what works.
Join me next week for more legal insight on Lurie Law: A Big Picture Look at the Law. Every Sunday Morning at 10am on AM870.
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About Barak Lurie
Barak Lurie is the managing partner of the law firm Lurie & Associates located in Los Angeles, CA. Barak practices primarily in litigation, with an emphasis on business and real estate legal matters. He also has substantial experience in bankruptcy work, representing creditors. Barak’s clients include businesses and individuals defending or pursuing claims for breach of contract, fraud and commercial disputes.
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