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Posts Tagged ‘privileges’

Previously, I wrote the article, “The first step in health care reform: recognizing that health care is not a right.”

Health care, at least, is related (though not equated) to the life of a person, one of the enumerated rights in the Declaration of Independence.

As an example of how radically the Western understanding of rights versus privileges has changed since 1776, Canada’s national broadcaster, CBC, featured an episode entitled “A/C as Human Right” on The Current on July 16, 2010.

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Once, in a law class I was attending, the instructor, a lawyer, asked the class what groups had a disproportionate influence on the law.

Predictable responses include: men, Anglo-Europeans, the wealthy, and those with a higher than average number of years of formal education.

Growing bored, I put up my hand and said, “Lawyers,” at which point, the instructor took obvious personal exception with my answer, and asked me to give an example.

I gave the example of the disproportionate number of lawyers who are elected representatives, and, therefore, responsible for drafting, debating, voting on, and oversight of, legislation.

He then proceeded to ask the class what were the reasons for that. Something he curiously found no need to do with all other responses given.

Someone responded by saying that, naturally, lawyers have a disproportionate influence on the law, since they’re “experts” in it.

However, the law holds a special place in our society. Governments exercise their just powers by the consent of the governed, and have a monopoly on the lawful use of organized violence.

Computer programmers also have a disproportionate influence on today’s society, given the increasing importance of technology in all aspects of our lives. However, they aren’t members of a self-regulated profession with special privileges, as lawyers are.

For example, only lawyers can argue in front of the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, the court of last resort.

Given the increasing importance of the law in all aspects of our lives, with the ever-growing reach of government, I believe the disproportionate influence of lawyers on the law deserves increased scrutiny.

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