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Who Let Loose The Clowns Of Plunder?
by R.A. Hawkins
6 July 2003R.A. Hawkins

Let me give you a few examples you may not have heard about in the area of stupid lawsuits.


During the late sixties a debate began regarding allowing doctors and lawyers to advertise. I can't really see where much harm has come from doctors being allowed to advertise, but the lawyers?! People keep complaining about rising prices and don't seem to understand why they keep going up. A hidden cost has been added to all products under the sun; this is the cost of insurance to cover legal fees in case of a lawsuit. It seems these days you can't do anything without risking a lawsuit from someone you've never even met. Without going into specifics, let me give you a few examples you may not have heard about in the area of stupid lawsuits.

One prime Darwinian example was that of two neighbors who, between the two of them, had neither a hedge trimmer nor -- apparently -- the time to buy one. These two icons of IQ decided to use a rotary mower, running that sucker down the hedge with one person on either side of the hedge holding their side up over the hedge to trim it level.  Unfortunately one of them tripped and got eaten up by more than a serious case of The Stupids. They sued the lawnmower manufacturer for not putting a label on the mower stating clearly that it isn't to be used as a hedge trimmer. Because this is clearly a no-brainer, except for some people, I didn't bother to follow the rest of the proceedings to see how it eventually turned out.  I can all too well imagine.

There were also a few particularly stupid cases involving people committing illegal acts who successfully sued their intended victims because of personal injury or trauma to themselves during the commission of the crime.  One woman tripped over her own out of control child and successfully sued the owner of the store she was shopping in for her injuries. Then there was that delightful woman who slipped in a puddle of soda on the floor of a fast food restaurant and successfully sued the restaurant, even though the drink she slipped in was the one she had just thrown at her boyfriend during an argument.

As if the above situations aren't bad enough, the Bar has managed to lower the bar even further over the years. These days you can find yourself the victim of a sexual harassment case for having done nothing, literally. I was at a seminar on this exact subject once and was quite amused to discover the predicament we all find ourselves in. It was explained that even ogling a member of the opposite sex could get you involved in a harassment suit. One of the poor attendees stood up to ask a question or two.  His countenance was graced with that deer-in-the-headlights look after he received the answer to his questions. His first question was "How do we avoid getting caught up in one of these lawsuits. Does looking away from a certain person who might be likely to try this protect you?" The facilitator calmly explained that doing that could get him in more trouble because he is now giving that person discriminatory treatment. He then asked how best to handle people who are likely to pull this kind of a lawsuit. The answer was "Treat them like anyone else." The poor guy just sat down shaking his head.  Immediately prior to all of that the facilitator had explained that not everyone is the same and harassment means different things to different people.  You can see the dilemma, I'm sure.

Of course not all harassment or discrimination cases are frivolous. However, enough of them are that we need a clear definition of what each and everything means legally. Today simply telling someone you don't want them around because they have sued other people for stupid things can get you sued for hurting their feelings, and making them feel diminished.

One can't help but wonder how people can allow these ridiculous sums of money to be handed out to people who are clearly a few tacos short of a full combo plate, lazy, unwilling to work and blaming someone else for their errors. A lack of personal responsibility is the root of all of this. It seems that we also have a lot of people on juries who haven't a clue as to what that is.

The Founding Fathers of this country warned about the social levelers and the damage they can do to a society. The social levelers are very much at work in our society right now and we know who unleashed these clowns of plunder.

Ayn Rand referred to the Bolshevik Revolution as the 'Idiot's Revolution,' and this is no different in any way. Here we have a collection of suit and tie barbarians who have the power to strip the productive members of society of what they've earned, in favor of a collection of people who tend to pour coffee in their own laps and go nuts. Quite clearly we have a bunch of people getting ruined economically by the lowest common denominator in our society.

Bastiat's essay 'The Law' has quite a bit to say about legalized plunder, although he was referring to taxes. Here we have something far more insidious than a simple tax. Here we have legalized plunder that has been taken to new extremes. One of the largest groups of donors to the liberal cause is trial lawyers. The trial lawyers are robbing Peter to pay Paul because they know they can continue to count on Paul's support.

Oh, by the way, the debate regarding allowing lawyers to advertise was started by the Democrats. They were the ones who opened the flood gates for all of this legal plundering of your pocketbook. Remember that during the next election!

R.A. Hawkins is the author of "Through Eyes of Shiva," available through www.amazon.com. His website is Entropical Paradise.

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