They've noticed that there is an election coming up, and they would like me to respond on behalf of the Libertarianz to the issues that concern them this election year, especially Libertarianz's "policies in relation to the law." Foolishly, I began thinking what I could say about our support for the Rule of Law and of slashing legislation to make the law more simple and more accessible, of our enthusiasm for Common Law and its principled protection of property rights, and of our proposed Constitution protecting individual rights ... I say "foolishly" because reading on it quickly became apparent that none of these things are of any interest to the Assistant Editor of "the official publication of the NZ Law Society."
What he is specifically interested in is our attitude to legal aid. Specifically, he is asking me for our attitude to the following: 1) "changes to eligibility ...so that more people can obtain representation through legal aid"; 2) an increase in rates for legal aid; 3) a bigger budget for legal aid; and 4) more experienced lawyers needing to submit bigger legal aid bills if they're going to be interested.
Put simply, what Mr Frank Neill, Assistant Editor of LawTalk, (04) 915 1282 (give him a call, I'm sure he'll be delighted to hear from you) wants to know is this: Are we promising to to give lawyers more money if elected? That's it really. Are we promising more for all the snouts in the legal trough, and a bigger trough for all those snouts to go into? That's the substance of the "election special" in Frank's upcoming issue -- and you can bet all the parties bar Libertarianz will be falling over themselves to promise increased gobs of your cash to be handed out to lawyers, who as we all know are in a parlous state nationwide, poor dears.
Take poor Deborah Manning for example, whose law firm McLeod & Associates have only manage to pull down a paltry $2 million or so from the taxpayer in defending Ahmed Zaoui's bid to stay in New Zealand. Surely we can help Deborah and McLeod & Associates, can't we? She herself might question "the importance of money as a motivation to succeed," but you can be sure the rest of her partners aren't complaining about the largesse being flung their way.
So on reflection, the best answer I can give to Mr Frank Neill (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) and the readers of LawTalk -- "the official publication of the NZ Law Society" -- is to point him to the Libertarianz Unemployment Policy:
With some very few noticeable exceptions, the more I see of lawyers and their venality, the more I find myself in favour of nationalising the lot of them. Put that in your official journal, Frank. Or maybe just print these two quotes from H.L. Mencken for your members and see if they get the point: 1)"An election is an advance auction of stolen goods"; and 2):
Unemployment under Libertarianz would increase dramatically: among politicians, lawyers, accountants, resource management consultants, iwi consultants, town planners, arborists, politicians, bureaucrats, tax collectors, WINZ staff, and salaried busybodies of every stripe. With the dead weight of these parasites out of our way the rest of us can get on with our lives, while the moochers re-educate themselves for life in a world that no longer owes them a living.
All the extravagance and incompetence of our present Government is due, in the main, to lawyers, and, in part at least, to good ones. They are responsible for nine-tenths of the useless and vicious laws that now clutter the statute-books, and for all the evils that go with the vain attempt to enforce them. Every Federal judge is a lawyer. So are most Congressmen. Every invasion of the plain rights of the citizens has a lawyer behind it. If all lawyers were hanged tomorrow, and their bones sold to a mah jong factory, we'd be freer and safer, and our taxes would be reduced by almost a half.Should there be any further questions after that, Frank, then please do not hesitate to write them on a small piece of stiff parchment, fold it until it's all sharp corners, and then insert it where the sun doesn't shine. It's an exercise lawyers such as those you represent should do more often.
[UPDATE: Here's an interesting update -- Deborah Manning, star of the Ahmed Zaoui travelling circus and recipient of that $2 million of legal aid, is herself on the Auckland Law Society's Legal Aid Committee. Can anyone spell 'conflict of interest'?]