Thursday, June 22, 2017

Words Poorly Used #90 -- Words Used by Lawyers



In view of the recent surge of new persons of legal letters descending on Sodom-on-the-Potomac, perhaps we can stand on the shoulders of giants by reviewing a selection of notable quotations regarding the quarreling class.

It may be that the jury would incline to regard a practising lawyer as a man of probity whose word was prima facie worthy of belief. But the belief of lawyers in their own probity is not universally shared, and there are those who believe them to be capable of almost any chicanery or sharp practice.
-- Lord Bingham of Cornhill
We have the heaviest concentration of lawyers on Earth—one for every five-hundred Americans; three times as many as are in England, four times as many as are in West Germany, twenty-one times as many as there are in Japan. We have more litigation, but I am not sure that we have more justice. No resources of talent and training in our own society, even including the medical care, is more wastefully or unfairly distributed than legal skills. Ninety percent of our lawyers serve 10 percent of our people. We are over-lawyered and under-represented.
-- President Jimmy Carter
A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.
-- Robert Frost
The function of the lawyer is to preserve a sceptical relativism in a society hell-bent for absolutes. The worse the society, the more law there will be. In Hell there will be nothing but law and due process will be meticulously observed.
-- Grant Gilmore
Lawyer — One who protects us against robbers by taking away the temptation.
-- H.L. Mencken
Let's ask ourselves: Does America really need 70 percent of the world's lawyers? Is it healthy for our economy to have 18 million new lawsuits coursing through the system annually? Is it right that people with disputes come up against staggering expense and delay?
-- Vice President Dan Quayle
A common and not necessarily apocryphal example portrays a solo practitioner starved for business in a small town. A second lawyer then arrives, and they both prosper.
-- Deborah L. Rhode
About half the practice of a decent lawyer consists of telling would-be clients that they are damned fools and should stop.
-- Elihu Root
What are lawyers really? To me a lawyer is basically the person that knows the rules of the country. We're all throwing the dice, playing the game, moving our pieces around the board, but if there's a problem, the lawyer is the only person that has actually read the inside of the top of the box.
-- Jerry Seinfeld
The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.
-- William Shakespeare
Is it not remarkable that the common repute which we all give to attorneys in the general is exactly opposite to that which every man gives to his own attorney in particular? Whom does anybody trust so implicitly as he trusts his own attorney? And yet is it not the case that the body of attorneys is supposed to be the most roguish body in existence?
-- Anthony Trollope
[Lawyers] can make the worse appear the better cause, as though they were fresh from Leontine schools, and have been known to wrest from reluctant juries triumphant verdicts of acquittal for their clients, even when those clients, as often happens, were clearly and unmistakably innocent.
-- Oscar Wilde
An incompetent attorney can delay a trial for years or months. A competent attorney can delay one even longer.
-- Evelle J. Younger
When there are too many policemen, there can be no individual liberty, when there are too many lawyers, there can be no justice, and when there are too many soldiers, there can be no peace.
-- Lin Yutang
I do not say that all lawyers are bad, but I do maintain that the general tendency is bad: standing up in a court for whichever side has paid you, affecting warmth and conviction, and doing everything you can to win the case, whatever your private opinion may be, will soon dull any fine sense of honour. The mercenary soldier is not a valued creature, but at least he risks his life, whereas these men merely risk their next fee.
-- Patrick O'Brian
If there were no bad people, there would be no good lawyers.
-- Charles Dickens
No great idea in its beginning can ever be within the law. How can it be within the law? The law is stationary. The law is fixed. The law is a chariot wheel which binds us all regardless of conditions or place or time.
-- Emma Goldman
A lawyer is a person who writes a 10,000-word document and calls it a "brief."
-- Franz Kafka
A good lawyer knows the law; a clever one takes the judge to lunch.
-- Mark Twain
The minute you read something that you can't understand, you can almost be sure that it was drawn up by a lawyer.
-- Will Rogers
It is the trade of lawyers to question everything, yield nothing, and to talk by the hour
-- Thomas Jefferson
Lawyers enjoy a little mystery, you know. Why, if everybody came forward and told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth straight out, we should all retire to the workhouse.
-- Dorothy L. Sayers
A countryman between two lawyers is like a fish between two cats.
-- Benjamin Franklin
Lawyers are men whom we hire to protect us from lawyers.
-- Elbert Hubbard
I think we may class the lawyer in the natural history of monsters.
-- John Keats
There are three sorts of lawyers - able, unable and lamentable.
-- Robert Smith Surtees
The power of the lawyer is in the uncertainty of the law.
-- Jeremy Bentham
A chief called Lawyer, because he was a great talker, took the lead in the council, and sold nearly all the Nez Perce country.
-- Chief Joseph
As a lawyer, as a private citizen, you see a lot of injustice. You see a lot of people who should have been punished and are not, and people who were punished wrongfully are not vindicated. Fiction is sort of a way to set the record straight, and let people at least believe that justice can be achieved and the right outcomes can occur.”
-- David Baldacci
A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns.
-- Mario Puzo
The doctor sees all the weakness of mankind; the lawyer all the wickedness, the theologian all the stupidity.
-- Arthur Schopenhauer
I am sorry to say that sometimes matters of very small importance waste a good deal of precious time, by the long and repeated speeches and chicanery of gentlemen who will not wholly throw off the lawyer even in Congress.
-- William Whipple
An eminent lawyer cannot be a dishonest man. Tell me a man is dishonest, and I will answer he is no lawyer. He cannot be, because he is careless and reckless of justice; the law is not in his heart, is not the standard and rule of his conduct.
-- Daniel Webster
Of course, some would say if you have a performing inclination, then you should become a lawyer. That's a platform we use, or a priest. You know, anywhere you lecture and pontificate to people.
-- Rowan Atkinson
Maybe these gems will put you in a calmer frame of mind as we contemplate the perfect storm that is descending on the District. Special thanks to Wikiquote.org, AZQuotes.com, and IZQuotes.com









Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Influences 2

With every week that passes, I think of new names to add to my list of influences.  But the thinkers shown in today's effort are those with the names that I carry around in my head -- writing them down as a reminder is not needed.  Today, I will write about Dr. Robert Higgs, Henry Louis Mencken, and Mark Twain, whom I have mentioned, probably, in reverse order of each's world reknown.  Is there anyone on the planet who has not heard of Mark Twain?  He very well could be the most famous American.  H. L. Mencken should be known everywhere that humans engage in thought.  And I have a reasonable expectation that some day, Dr. Higgs, who is now slightly younger than I, will have fame among a wider scope -- he is currently well-known among most people who champion voluntaryist principles.

Robert Higgs


He lives now in Xcalak, Mexico.  I discovered him while he was still in Louisiana, USA before he retired.  But I follow him every day.  He posts regularly on Facebook.  Of all the current stars in the libertarian/voluntaryist/Austrian economist/anarchy firmament, his is the brightest, to me.  I'm talking about comparing him with Ludwig von MisesFrédéric BastiatMurray RothbardLysander SpoonerHenry MenckenHarry BrowneDon BoudreauxWalter WilliamsLew RockwellHenry HazlittSheldon RichmanScott HortonSkyler J. Collins, too many others to mention, ... even Tom Woods.  Bob Higgs is the man who writes among economists as Robert Penn Warren wrote among novelists.  He will be famous, if for no other reason, for his exposition of the Ratchet Effect.

The Ratchet Effect concerns itself with the idea that each time government finds an excuse to expand, when the excuse has expired the expansion remains (see Homeland Security).  The Pentagon is a monument to the Rachet Effect.  At any level of government, one can find a dizzying array of agencies that must have seemed like a good idea at the time.  The trouble is that these agencies never go away, remaining permanently and independently of the initial intent.  Can you name a compartment of government that has gone away?  Not so fast there.  It cannot just be subsumed into another agency.  We may have outlawed something like dueling, but if it had been regulated by an agency, that agency would have been a survivor of every duel.

Robert P. Murphy writes of Higgs as follows
One of economic historian Bob Higgs's outstanding contributions is the "ratchet effect." During a crisis, the size and scope of government grow tremendously. After the crisis subsides, government shrinks, but not to the precrisis level. In consequence, leviathan expands over the decades, leaping from one crisis to the next. ... We see Higgs's thesis of the ratchet effect on brilliant display with the Federal Reserve in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008.
More than anything else, Dr. Higgs has taught me proper disrespect for propaganda and political bloviation.  For instance, he writes
Every year, on Veterans Day, orators declare that our leaders have gone to war to preserve our freedoms and have done so with glorious success, but the truth is just the opposite. In ways big and small, direct and indirect, crude and subtle, war—the quintessential government activity—has been the mother's milk for the nourishment of a growing tyranny in this country, and it remains so today.

Mark Twain

Following the Equator is not Mark Twain's best book.  It would be hard to pick one, and even harder to not pick Huckleberry Finn.  But I think the passage that most affected me in a Twain book was his account of the genocide, the total annihilation, the complete eradication, the wholesale murder of the natives who lived on the islands of what are now called Tasmania.













In a few short paragraphs, Twain said everything there was to say about one class of humans presuming to be the betters of other humans,
These were indeed wonderful people, the natives. They ought not to have been wasted. They should have been crossed with the Whites. It would have improved the Whites and done the Natives no harm. 
But the Natives were wasted, poor heroic wild creatures. They were gathered together in little settlements on neighboring islands, and paternally cared for by the Government, and instructed in religion, and deprived of tobacco, because the superintendent of the Sunday-school was not a smoker, and so considered smoking immoral. 
The Natives were not used to clothes, and houses, and regular hours, and church, and school, and Sunday-school, and work, and the other misplaced persecutions of civilization, and they pined for their lost home and their wild free life. Too late they repented that they had traded that heaven for this hell. They sat homesick on their alien crags, and day by day gazed out through their tears over the sea with unappeasable longing toward the hazy bulk which was the specter of what had been their paradise; one by one their hearts broke and they died.
In a very few years nothing but a scant remnant remained alive. A handful lingered along into age. In 1864 the last man died, in 1876 the last woman died, and the Spartans of Australasia were extinct. 
The Whites always mean well when they take human fish out of the ocean and try to make them dry and warm and happy and comfortable in a chicken coop; but the kindest-hearted white man can always be depended on to prove himself inadequate when he deals with savages. He cannot turn the situation around and imagine how he would like it to have a well-meaning savage transfer him from his house and his church and his clothes and his books and his choice food to a hideous wilderness of sand and rocks and snow, and ice and sleet and storm and blistering sun, with no shelter, no bed, no covering for his and his family’s naked bodies, and nothing to eat but snakes and grubs and ‘offal. This would be a hell to him; and if he had any wisdom he would know that his own civilization is a hell to the savage—but he hasn’t any, and has never had any; and for lack of it he shut up those poor natives in the unimaginable perdition of his civilization, committing his crime with the very best intentions, and saw those poor creatures waste away under his tortures; and gazed at it, vaguely troubled and sorrowful, and wondered what could be the matter with them. One is almost betrayed into respecting those criminals, they were so sincerely kind, and tender, and humane; and well-meaning. [from the Gutenberg Project PDF file of the book, Following the Equator: A Journey Around The World]
 Mark Twain was anti-imperialistanti-interventionist.  It was through my lifelong reading of his works that I developed his sense of the absurd when it came to man's inhumanity to man.  Most stories about genocide of a small but valiant vestigial remain, are absurd.  One subspecies does not need to wipe out another subspecies for the latter's survival.  At worst there may be a semi-important difference of economic schema -- a clash between styles of possessing.  But it is absurd that one element must obliterate the other.

Henry Louis Mencken

 I cannot remember when my favorite saying, of all of those of all of the wits in the world, became H. L. Mencken's observation that " ... there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong."  But I do know it was the day on which I changed my view of the world.  It was also the day upon which I became an avid reader of  Mr. Mencken's work.

Henry Louis, this great titan of journalism from Baltimore, seemed then and seems still among the brightest human minds, ever.  If a gigantic reason such as that held by this man saw many problems as too complex for neat and plausible explanations, then life must really be about complexity.  Life is not simple, humanity is not straightforward, human nature is not easily unpacked, and human error has confounded for ages.

Some will say that Mencken was just a cynic.  But there is not a hopeless misanthropy here (a trait he shares with Twain), how could anyone write so eloquently of the endless pageant, as beautifully and as long as did Mencken, and not in the end be guilty of holding out infinite hope that someday we would catch on?  Could it be that on some bright day we would stop being so half-baked about everything?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Words Poorly Used #89 -- Loyalty

Every definition of the word, loyalty, that I find suggests that the loyalty arises for cause.  Why do people who ask for loyalty seem to be holding a mental post-it note that adds "forever and in all events?"  Why did one minion want to qualify the idea by insisting on "honest loyalty?"  Was that an oxymoron to the requester?

-- Kilgore Forelle

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Re: What's with IP?

Nobody asked but ...

There appears under Kenny Kelly's byline, at Everything-Voluntary.com, a piece named, "A Conversation Between Voluntaryists: What’s with IP?"  It is actually a joint production between Kenny and me.  I appear first as Verbal Vol then as Kilgore Forelle.  I learned a lot about intellectual property (IP) problems.  I believe you will, too, when you check it out.

-- Kilgore Forelle

Dead Spot

Nobody asked but ...

Peter Suderman writes at Reason (http://reason.com/archives/2017/06/13/young-men-are-playing-video-ga/amp) that one specific video game occupies users in what amounts to 48 million person hours per day.  If, at the height of US slaveholding, there were 3 million slaves, and they were forced to work 16 hours per day per person, we are talking 48 million person hours per day cast into the oubliette of lost opportunity.  One game accounts for 100% of that number.

-- Kilgore Forelle

Thursday, June 15, 2017

What's with IP?




[Kenny's Intro]
Kilgore Forelle and I have had another discussion. This time about intellectual property (IP) laws and their role, if any, in a free society. This EVC is not as much of a debate as the last, but still worth having.

[Verbal's Intro]
Kenny Kelly and Kilgore Forelle got together, again -- this time to discuss the thing inadequately labeled as intellectual property.

As H. L. Mencken once wrote, " ... there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong."  He must have been addressing the statist response to 'IP,' copyright, and patent.

[Kenny's] thesis: Intellectual property (IP) is defined by Merriam-Webster as that which "derives from the work of the mind or intellect; also :  an application, right, or registration relating to this."

In other words, IP is intangible property that an individual has yet to mix labor with land to make an actual thing. "Property rights," as understood by libertarians, are claims to ownership of tangible objects. Not ideas.

[Kilgore:] Kenny, it looks as though we are going to agree, but perhaps for different reasons -- not that the reasons are incompatible.

I take the very empirical view that an object has to occupy a distinct locus on a space-time continuum.  I would state it this way -- ideas do not occupy space and cannot be a thing until they do.  An object is a person, place, thing, or event.

Although an idea could be called a thing, it is an abstract thing until it is connected with something concrete.  Often the concrete association is achieved by monetization.

If you can get someone to pay you for the right to use your idea then it has taken its place among the set of things that occupy unique addresses in time and space.



For example, the Beatles had an idea that became "Back in the USSR."  It is ironic that Paul decided to borrow ideas from Chuck Berry (Back in the USA)


and the Beach Boys (California Girls),


but to craft these into a third, unique product.  So, who owns this musical gem?  It is the belonging to an association that makes it an owned combination of things, a thing itself.  It is owned by Chuck Berry, one or more of the Beach Boys, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, the Studio, the minions, the recording company, the crafters of the Beatles' instruments and equipment, and anybody who bought an instance of the song (ie a track on the "White Album").  The free market took care of those single relationships that needed more defining.

[Kenny:]  Yeah not incompatible, because I agree. I guess the question is: do you believe IP should be abolished or reduced?

[Kilgore:]  I believe that IP cannot be codified by the fictions of legislation or regulation.

As we see from the Beatles example, relationships are 1-to-1 but can become very complex.  We cannot devise a one-size-fits-all model.  The voluntary, individualist market arrangements that arise naturally for the least complex part will suffice to self-govern that part.  Complexity only accumulates one relationship at a time.  Each relationship has simple self-governance, or else it is a complex relationship where all objects do not have natural, balanced participation.

I don't intuit that we need IP.  An idea that is just a thought exists only within 1 person.  It is not shared.  Until it is shared, the question of ownership does not arise.  When the first question of ownership arises, it is within a 1-to-1 relationship, therefor voluntary agreement can take place, without compulsion.  Added relationships may bring complexity, but if each relationship is voluntary 1-to-1 the complex will be simple in principle.  Any addition of unagreed rules adds complexity, necessarily.  It does not simplify the complex, rather it confounds.

[Kenny:]  I agree. I mean, ideas are finite and are not subject to "stealing."

[Kilgore:]  Ok, so where does this leave us now?  I think we are both opposed to locking down the access to an idea.  But don't we also respect the person who has committed his idea to a form that can be transferred.  Do we, as free marketers, tell anyone that they cannot offer an artifact for sale on the open market?  Isn't that free marketer also entitled to say, "Pass on by if you do not value my product enough to pay an agreed upon price for it.  The seller can only create a small monopoly within the bounds of his marketed goods.

Where I have a problem is when middle men become involved, to create an artificial scarcity where one would not naturally exist.

Here's an example.  As a software engineer, I specialized in usability.  But an overwhelming part of the research literature was hidden from the public, because it was being held hostage by the two largest research organizations for the purpose of selling annual dues agreements.  I was a student at the University of Kentucky (UK), and as such, I could tap both of these sources by going in person to the Engineering School Library.  I could not access them at my own school where I worked because the Library at Kentucky State University (KSU) would not pay the steep institutional price.  I personally felt that the price for an individual membership was astronomical (probably done to maintain the lucrative major institution gravy train).

The upshot was that I was not a subscriber to either source of material.

I am struggling with isolating the principles that are involved here.

[Kenny:]  The "monopoly" isn't the issue. The issue is how that monopoly is formed. If it's from a producer, that's okay. If from the government by force, then not so much.

[Kilgore:]  How do you address the example I gave?

[Kenny:]  As long as the organizations didn't have government protection then it's a free market thing. If they did, then it's an artificial monopoly that ought be ended.

[Kilgore:]  Weren't the teeth behind their withholding of ideas supplied by governments' willingness to enforce copyright laws?

[Kenny:]  In this case, I don't know. If so, then it's an artificial monopoly. If not, it's the free market.

[Kilgore:]  I think the question is:  if there were no government threat of violence would copyright and patent be implementable?  A following question is:  would civilization disintegrate?

[Kenny:]  No and no. People would have to learn to be more strategic with their work.

[Kilgore:]  So what I'm hearing is that people who learn would become more strategic.  It is like the market itself -- it changes to fit the situation.  If copyright and patent are not there as artificial protections, then creative people will arrive at creative solutions to derive value from their labor.

It sounds as if it could be self-organizing, without threat of government enforcement.

In a voluntaryist society people would either make person-to-person agreements to exchange money, goods, or services for creative artifacts, or the creator who wanted to sell to mass consumers would have to accept the risks of putting a copyable format out there in the big world.

[Kenny:]  Exactly. Rothbard talked about how IP can be protected without government.  Rothbard wrote a lot of articles about it. This is one that's easier to read. http://cdn.whipups.net/uploads/236/7patents_copyrights.pdf

[Kilgore:]  That's an excellent reference, Kenny, wherein Rothbard emphasizes the organic nature of property holding in an open market with polycentric law.  If the property exists concretely it can only change ownership through voluntary transaction or theft.  The most basic, natural laws against theft will suffice.

Apart from that, a second market principle applies.  A creator must consider comparative advantage when deciding how to protect his own interests.  Is it more effective to pursue the casual copier/downloader or the for-profit pirate?  Is it more rational to pursue the pirate in the bigger market or the smaller?  Does one get more bang from chasing the pirate in the market at hand or in the distant one.

Someone once told me that he was advised to protect all frontiers of copyright or risk being deemed to have waived the copyright.  Is this a thing?  If so, wouldn't it make far more sense to rely on common law relating to theft?

[Kenny:]  I don't know, IP laws are based on coercion. That's why in today's market if I record or publish anything I'd put it in public domain so no one can claim ownership of it.

[Kilgore:]  Public domain it is.  Anything I do is in the public domain.  The fictional legislative interventions bring on a market response -- it is too costly in terms of time, effort, and hassle to use copyright procedures.

If I suffer insupportable damages, ie. a real crime has been done, then I can avail myself (having awaited an actual event) of ancient common law, natural law and ethics as they apply.  This is an instance of observing Ockham's Razor.

[Kenny:]  In conclusion, IP laws would be unnecessary in a free market. If you take pride in your work it would be prudent to be patient and form a business strategy. IP laws seem to be supported by impatient people or those who lack business savvy, from the average Joe to corporatists.

Words Poorly Used #88 -- Should



Today I heard an otherwise voluntaryist podcast, but it had far too many instances of the use of the word "should."  There were too many because "should," in an independent clause is only another baseless assertion.  The only way a "should" is permissible is in the first person when the speaker understands "why."  Whenever "should" is applied to the second or third person, the premises are flawed.  There is no way to establish the authority of the first person relative to the other person.  Since "should" can be unspoken, in the first person, there is no particular need for it in explicit expression.  The exception is, however, that "should" can be used to state probabilities among things, for instance, "whoever partakes of dihydrogen oxide should eventually perish," (coincidental) or "whoever bets on a horse race should either win or lose." (causal)  My head feels like exploding when I hear a voluntaryist say should in an authoritarian context.

 -- Kilgore Forelle