Social Responsibility


If you’re considering law school, maybe you should read this take from the folks over at Big Debt, Small Law along with all those glossy law school brochures.

Consider the typical, hapless TTT[*] law school grad: First she invested 100 K in a worthless undergrad degree like English Lit or Poli-Sci, then compounded this initial mistake by piling on 120 K or more in non-dischargeable law school loans, bought hook, line and sinker the materially fraudulent salary stats of her law school, endured the BarBri blather-thons, walked the hot coal hazing ritual of the bar’zam, and now finds herself coping with $1500 a month loan payments and a total lack of job opportunities.

I commented on the bimodal nature of lawyer salaries back in the good old days (2007), and I can guarantee you that the top salary hump has gotten a lot smaller in the intervening years.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still believe that the law is (or can be) an honorable profession and that the rule of law is an absolutely necessary condition for a free and prosperous society.  I’m just reminding everyone that there is no such thing as a free lunch, no matter what the admissions office says.  I cannot comprehend how a fourth tier school like Pace University can justify $39K a year in tuition.   How would you ever pay it back when good students from top tier schools are out of work?

However, my favorite quote from the diatribe is a side note about pro bono.

Thanks to a generation of propogandist “college for everyone” drivel, there’s an acute shortage of HVAC repair techs, plumbers, electricians, and other skilled tradesman. Don’t believe us? Call a plumber and a lawyer and see who can get there first. By the way, ask the plumber if he’s willing to install your faucets “pro bono” because you have no money. After all, running water is surely as important as your legal problems (and plumbers are VERY expensive), so just tell him he should do it for free in the public interest. Try the same thing with your auto mechanic, roofer, HVAC guy, and electrician. You’ll quickly find that only the “law” is so fixated on the merits of giving expensive professional services away to deadbeats for free. Here at Big Debt we’ve long argued against any and all pro bono work. Why? Because by so doing, one reinforces in the public’s mind that the service provided is worthless. This is especially true when rendering an “intangible” product like law, one that looks to a layperson like nothing more than a stack of very boring paperwork.

Justice should be free, right?

For context, a good CNC technician can make six figures without the bar dues and malpractice insurance, and no one ever asks them to give their work away for free.

(*Note: TTT stands for third tier toilet.)

Mrs. Begum’s biggest challenge is not what the sea level may do in five or 10 decades. She has a more modest request: “It would be a heaven’s gift if a proper drainage system could be arranged in this area where all the drains are covered and do not overflow.”

Getting basic sanitation and safe drinking water to the three billion people around the world who do not have it now would cost nearly $4 billion a year. By contrast, cuts in global carbon emissions that aim to limit global temperature increases to less than two degrees Celsius over the next century would cost $40 trillion a year by 2100. These cuts will do nothing to increase the number of people with access to clean drinking water and sanitation. Cutting carbon emissions will likely increase water scarcity, because global warming is expected to increase average rainfall levels around the world.

For Mrs. Begum, the choice is simple. After global warming was explained to her, she said: “When my kids haven’t got enough to eat, I don’t think global warming will be an issue I will be thinking about.”

— Bjørn Lomborg, Global Warming as Seen From Bangladesh, WSJ.com

Harley Davidson today announced that it will begin production on a more environmentally friendly motorcycle.  

woodharley

Citing Harley’s already impressive mileage figures, a spokesman for the American icon said that Harley felt they could “make the most impact by using renewable resources in the construction of the motorcycle itself.”

The spokesman went on to describe the bike as a fusion of San Francisco sensibilities with Alabama know how.

Asked about the inspiration for the design, the spokesman said, “Well, we had some old pallets lying around, and one of the boys says, ‘Hey, wood comes from the environment.'”

(ht commentator Top Gear)

PETA has launched a campaign to rename fish “sea kittens.”  Apparently, fish are just suffering from some bad PR.

People don’t seem to like fish. They’re slithery and slimy, and they have eyes on either side of their pointy little heads—which is weird, to say the least. Plus, the small ones nibble at your feet when you’re swimming, and the big ones—well, the big ones will bite your face off if Jaws is anything to go by.

Of course, if you look at it another way, what all this really means is that fish need to fire their PR guy—stat. Whoever was in charge of creating a positive image for fish needs to go right back to working on the Britney Spears account and leave our scaly little friends alone. You’ve done enough damage, buddy. We’ve got it from here. And we’re going to start by retiring the old name for good. When your name can also be used as a verb that means driving a hook through your head, it’s time for a serious image makeover. And who could possibly want to put a hook through a sea kitten?

I’m thinking this could really go two ways.

green-daily-sea-kitten. . . . f-shark-cat-31361

Mike Luckovich had some ideas for other image makeovers.

lcrmlu090115

I have to disagree with PETA, though.  I like fish alot.  Anyone up for some kitten and chips?

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.

— Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (Book I, Ch. 10, ¶ 82)

This Adam Smith quote is often used to emphasize the evil and collusive nature of “big business.”  Unfortunately, like so often happens in these instances, everyone forgets the rest of the quote.

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary.

Smith wasn’t advocating for anti-trust legislation; he thought such laws were unenforceable and inconsistent with liberty and justice.  Rather, Smith cautioned against government mandated collusion.

Coyote Blog illustrate how we have quite ignored Smith’s admonition.

I can add a million examples.  Hair braiders are stepped on by the government in collusion with licensed beauticians.  Taxi companies get the government to quash low-cost or innovative shuttle transportation.  Discount casket companies are banned by government in collusion with undertakers.  Take dentistry.  Why do I need to go to an expensive dentist when 99% of my dental needs could be served by a hygienist alone?  Because the government colludes with dentists to make it so.  And don’t even get me started on medicine.  My guess is a huge percentage of the conditions people come into emergency rooms with are treatable by someone without a 4 year medical degree and 6 years of internship.  Does one really need a full medical education to stitch up a kids cut knee?  Well, yes, you do today, because doctors collude with the government to make it so.  Why can’t people specialize, with less than 10 years of education, on just, say, setting bones and closing cuts?  Why can’t someone specialize in simple wills or divorces without a full law degree?

As Adam Smith clearly saw, the real danger is not collusion between business men and business men, but collusion between business men and government.  Government is so much more dangerous because it is always done “for our own good.”

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies, The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

–C.S. Lewis

This quote:

The government, environmental groups and some of the Netherlands’ “green energy” companies are trying to develop programs to trace the origins of imported palm oil, to certify which operations produce the oil in a responsible manner.

From the New York Times article about the environmental horrors of “renewable” palm oil fuel, reminds me of this wonderful Dilbert comic.

Dilbert-19-02-2006-1

(HT Catherine H.)

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