The Judicial Decline of America and How to Profit from it
September 23, 2009 by John Myers
“The Boomer generation represents one of the weakest cohorts of politicians America has ever produced.”–Thomas P.M. Barnett, Great Powers, America and the World After Bush.
Mismanagement in Washington is punishing the dollar. Continued incompetence puts all dollar-backed assets at risk.
Meanwhile, gold prices are once again back over $1,000 per ounce. Yet for gold to reach its inflation adjusted 1980 price it would have to trade at $2,500 per ounce. Impossible you say? Not given the current crisis in leadership.
On Sept. 8, at Wakefield High School in Virginia, President Obama gave a speech to students across the country about the importance of their education, and their responsibility as American students to work hard.
Certainly hard work is needed. Two weeks before Obama spoke it was announced that high school students’ performance on last year’s Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) college-entrance exam fell yet again.
Average scores for the class of 2009 in reading dropped to 501 from 502, in writing to 493 from 494, while math managed to hold steady at 515. The combined scores are the lowest this decade. Furthermore, these SAT scores follow more than 25 years of trying to improve U.S. education.
"This is a nearly unrelenting tale of woe and disappointment," said Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank. "If there’s any good news here, I can’t find it."
In fact the news is dismal. SAT scores have been in an overall decline for almost 40 years. Meanwhile a new wave of nations are producing another generation of smart kids with a global economy itching to buy up their services.
Hopefully the President has not inspired another generation of wanna-be lawyers. America has more than enough of them. In 2007 the American Bar Association (ABA) counted 1,143,358 in all. That is one lawyer for every 265 people, twice the ratio that Germany has and five times as many as France.
It is interesting to note that last year plans for a new generation of nuclear power stations was put on hold by its own inspectors because of a shortage of skilled engineers.
That’s bad news for the lawyers because no new nuclear plants mean no new litigation against nuclear plant designers and owners. Not that there isn’t plenty of work to keep lawyers busy.
The U.S. tort system cost more than $250 billion in 2007. That is up from less than $43 billion in 1980.
In total, tort costs translate to about $850 per man, woman and child. And get this, since 1950 growth in tort costs has exceeded gross domestic product (GDP) growth by an average of 2 percentage points. Even during recessions, Americans spend more in legal costs. It’s too bad you can’t buy shares in the ABA.
This is not to suggest that we are not heavily vested in lawyers. Some of the very “best” of them are running our nation. Today 46 percent of our government branches are in the hands of lawyers. That includes, of course, the President and the First Lady.
A founder of the Constitution, James Madison, understood that the checking of each branch by the other made for a less effective government. Madison wrote that the sacrifice was worth it to prevent tyranny by a government “in the same hands.”
“No political truth is certainly of greater intrinsic value or is stamped with the authority of more enlightened patrons of liberty than that . . . the accumulation of all powers legislative, executive and judiciary in the same hands, whether of one, a few or many, and whether hereditary, self appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” (Federalist No. 47)*
Whether the federal government is tyrannical can be debated, but you don’t need an MBA to see that it is damned inefficient. Last month the Obama Administration announced its estimate for the budget deficit at $1.58 trillion. That is a trillion dollars larger than last year’s deficit and represents the largest percentage share of GDP in more than 60 years.
Why would we expect anything less? If you have ever been on the “clock” with a lawyer you probably realize how much it costs and how little actually gets accomplished.
Now before I get a rash of comments from lawyers, let me say that I am not alone in my criticism. Way back in the February 1987 Ruff Times, Robert Ringer wrote: “I abhor overgeneralizations. Fairness compels me to point out that only 97 percent of the attorneys in the U.S. are lazy, incompetent, negligent and greedy—yet they give the entire profession a bad name.”
The truth is our government is rife with lawyers and they have been doing a rotten job. An even more alarming truth is that they hold our future and our finances in their hands.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke mans the printing press. Despite the recession, new money is pouring into the economy. Since 2000, M2 money supply has more than doubled, rising from $4 trillion to $9.5 trillion.
One of Bernanke’s first speeches was entitled “Deflation: Making Sure It Doesn’t Happen Here.” On that front he is doing one heck of a job.
What people need to fear from the firm of Barack & Bernanke is the unprecedented amount of new money coming on-stream. The creation of all this cash out of thin air will inevitably be inflationary. That impacts the purchasing power of every dollar instrument you own.
You can protect yourself from dollar inflation by owning gold. I recommend you put at least 10 percent of your investment assets in physical gold. I like 1-ounce U.S. American Eagle coins as well as 1-ounce Canadian Maple Leaf and South African Krugerrand coins.
Call your local coin dealer or if you need one, call Asset Strategies International in Rockville, Md., 800-831-0007 or 301-881-8600 or go to www.assetstrategies.com
Yours for real wealth and good health,
Myers’ Energy and Gold Report
PS. I will agree with the President that our kids have to get serious about their education. Perhaps they should read Shakespeare. In King Henry VI he wrote: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers."