Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

As Other Jobs Shrink, Lawyers Find Ways to Resist Downsizing

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

As Other Jobs Shrink, Lawyers Find Ways to Resist Downsizing

Article excerpt

What a difference nine months makes. Just last January and February, presidential politicians were bemoaning the jobs crisis and The New York Times was running a banner front-page series on "The Downsizing of America."

Now The New York Times is running op-eds hailing a recovery in which 1.5 jobs were created for every one lost, and President Bill Clinton is boasting about 10 million new jobs.

To the economic Neanderthals who wanted to stop the so-called "downsizing" that allowed corporations to shed unproductive positions and so create new and better-paying jobs, investment banker Steven Rattner poses this pointed question: "Imagine where we would be if we had tried to stop the assembly line, which displaced the craftsmen who had previously made cars. Or suppose we had fought the replacement of telephone operators by automatic dialing equipment?" The creative destruction of capitalism works its wealth-building magic only for a people daring enough, resilient enough and self-reliant enough to trust the fruits of their own free enterprise, rather than crying for government intervention at each bump along the road. There is one sector, however, that has been largely exempt from the competitive pressure to downsize and become more productive: lawyers. For an instructional tour of how lawyers manipulate laws to their advantage, at our cost, take a look at the cover story in Worth magazine, by consumer advocate Andrew Tobias, called "Ralph Nader's Betrayal." Tobias ran smack up against the power of the lawyers' lobby when he tried to propose true auto insurance reform in California. In California, lawyers scoop off 35 percent of the $7 billion drivers pay for auto insurance. Meanwhile, California car accident victims recoup through the insurance system, on average, just 9 percent of the losses they sustain. Except for Michigan, which has true no-fault, most of our states have car-insurance systems very much like California's: one big lottery that enriches lawyers and yet fails to compensate most people injured in car accidents for their injuries. …

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