Enjoy Your Fake Wealth

     Sheesh. And I thought I was cynical.
     Check out this rant – issued as a press release – from something called the National Inflation Association.
     If you can’t click on the link or you don’t feel like wading through the thing, here are just a couple of lines from the statement:
     “Lawyers are non-producing workers that do nothing to create any real wealth for society.”
     “The reason we have so many lawyers in Washington is so that they can pass as many new harmful laws and regulations as possible, in order to provide enough work for all of their lawyer friends.”
     And
     “Many law students got suckered into going to law school due to deceptive marketing practices.”
     And this was all from a press release that was supposed to be about college tuition. (Headline: “College Bubble Set to Burst in 2011, Says NIA.”)
     OK, the NIA and its website look like the work of some guy in his pajamas with a computer and no one to keep him company. But that doesn’t mean we can’t at least think about some of these assertions.
     How do you lawyers out there respond to someone saying you don’t produce “real wealth?” Do you get satisfaction spending all that fake wealth you’ve been amassing? Don’t you feel guilty being lumped in with all those other non-wealth producers like column writers, pizza delivery guys, and doctors?
     I’ve noted before that law firms have been diversifying. (The trend, by the way, is toward adding lobbying services, presumably to make sure legislators keep passing new harmful laws and regulations.) Perhaps they’re not diversifying the right way.
     What we need to make this country great again are law firm steel mills. And law firm farms.
     
     INTERESTING COUNSEL. I overhead this exchange in a courthouse elevator last week between what looked like a client and her lawyer:
     “I don’t see how they could take it to a higher court.”
     “Well, there are people who see it as they see it. You know, the three blind mice and the elephant.”
     For some reason, this didn’t seem to puzzle the client. If you’re paying somebody by the hour, you’ve to figure they know their clichés.
     And, yes, I did Google it later. Apparently there are seven blind mice (in one book, anyway) that check out an elephant. It’s amazing what you can find out by eavesdropping on other people and then figuring out where they went wrong.
     
     RULES ARE MADE TO BE AVOIDED. I’ve never quite understood why business people claim they don’t like regulation. What could be more fun than figuring out ways to get around it?
     Americans can pride themselves on the ingenuity of financial professionals when it comes to skirting rules.
     I have to admit I was a little disappointed a while back when the news broke that Goldman Sachs was setting up a private fund to buy a chunk of Facebook and then turning around and selling shares of the fund to investors without having to do all that annoying disclosure that goes along with a regular public offering.
     It just seemed a tad heavy-handed – a little too obvious. I thought some prosecutor would challenge it.
     So I wasn’t surprised to read last week that Goldman Sachs announced it wouldn’t be selling any of the Facebook fund to Americans. Only foreigners not too worried about legal niceties would get to invest.
     Heh, heh.
     Want to bet the next thing we hear is that Americans do get to invest in foreign companies that, oh maybe, park some of their money in a Goldman Sachs placement.
     Regulation is so much fun.

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