Americans have a curious notion: Everything that's good should be a right;
everything that's bad should be a crime.
The notion is probably more appropriate to a 3-year-old's worldview than the
running of a civilization. A 3-year-old has parents to help discover the
complexities of existence. We grown-ups have the government, that ultimate
definer, guarantor, provider, and enforcer of rights and crimes.
The problem comes when the government, in order to secure us more and more
rights, keeps coming up with more and more crimes.
Take healthcare. A century ago, doctors had little to offer besides bedside
manner and whatever nostrums they'd tucked into their little black bags;
people paid in cash or accepted the free treatment doctors provided as a
normal part of their practice. Now healthcare consumes nearly one-sixth of
GDP and, if you believe nearly everybody to the left of Dr. Ron Paul, it's
either already a right or should be.
A right provided by a government that seems to equate ever tighter
regulation and prosecution of doctors and other providers with the efficient
providing of that right.
We would never dare question the hundreds of thousands of pages of
ever-changing regulations, the ever-increasing criminalization of honest
mistakes, and the sovereign right of the government to determine who gets
what. All we ask is that the notion of rights, and the provisioning and
regulation thereof, be applied to that other great consumer of the GDP: law.
Since lawyer Hillary is again proposing national health insurance, it is
only fair that these physician writers suggest national legal care.
Proposed therefore: national legal care.
The principle is simple. Access to lawyers is a fundamental human right. You
are entitled to all you want, for any reason or for no particular reason at
all, subject only to the governmentıs willingness to provide it. In order to
make sure you get everything the government thinks you need, from routine
legal services to hit-the-jackpot lawsuits, the government will simply start
treating lawyers the way they treat doctors.
1. No American may be denied legal care, regardless of ability to pay.
2. There shall be tens of thousands of pages of government rules and fine
print regarding how to practice law. These will require hundreds of hours a
year to master, will change constantly, often without notice, and may result
in lawyers having to hire and pay employees who do nothing but puzzle over
rules of compliancy.
3. Failure to abide by these rules may result in harassment, fines or prison
4. Legal fees will be based on a relative value scale established in the
1980s, and will be cut back every year. Lawyers will simply have to handle
more clients for less.
5. There will be no referral fees of any kind. Million dollar kickbacks are
6. The government will not reimburse lawyers for "preventable errors" in
practice. The only acceptable standard is perfection.
7. Any lawyer losing a case will be deemed to have made "preventable
errors." This provision shall be waived upon appeal through a process not to
exceed three years. If the appeal is successful, payment will be made no
later than two years after judgment.
8. Any lawyer losing three or more cases will be deemed guilty of
malpractice and have his/her license revoked. Since losing is a preventable
error, there will be no payments to losing lawyers.
9. As we noted on Aug. 23, 2007, "Medicare announced that it will soon stop
paying hospitals for the extra costs of treating certain patients whose
illnesses are compounded by preventable errors." A similar provision for the
legal community should promote better legal care and, if expanded, could
reduce legal costs.
10. From time to time, at the discretion of the government, certain legal
specialties will be chosen for exemplary prosecutions.
Finally, the government will ensure that, in all cases, lawyers are held
accountable only by other lawyers.
Editor's Note: Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., penned this week's satirical commentary.