What do you call it when an armed gunman puts a gun to the head of an airline pilot and says “take this plane where I want or everyone will die?” What do you call it when a foreign government stores its weapons arsenals next to schools and daycare centers so any effort to destroy them will also kill innocent children? What do you call it when a small group of radical politicians force the entire federal government to shut down unless everyone else agrees to sabotage a law they don’t like and cannot get rid through the regular legislative process?
In research for my book “Why Lawyers Suck and What You Can Do About It” many people complained that lawyers have no conscience and also don’t know when to stop fighting. Gee, sounds a little like what is going on in the Congressional halls of this country in the past few days (and months).
I went to the Congressional Research Service website this morning to confirm the number of lawyers in Congress, but of course that site is shut down because of the government shutdown. However, other unofficial sources report report that out of the 535 members of Congress (House and Senate) 230 members (or 43%) are lawyers. Is it any wonder that the profession known for lack of conscience and inability to stop fighting is at the apex of the current events in our country?
Who is Ted Cruz? The senator from Texas leading the charge for this government shutdown? The junior senator from Texas who thought he was serving the public interest by reading Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” from the Senate floor, is . . . you guessed it . . . a lawyer, a litigator who worked for one of the nation’s large law firms, Morgan Lewis and Bockius. Did he come to Congress out of a deep love of this country and an interest in being a public servant? Hardly. This year he embarked on a campaign funded, via The Heritage Foundation, by the Koch brothers and other ultra-wealthy persons with the explicit purpose of defunding the Affordable Care Act and explicitly argued that a shutdown of the government would not be a disaster for America or the Republican Party. See http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/ted-cruz-obamacare-government-shutdown-94925.html Mike Lee? Another senator on the bandwagon with Ted Cruz’ quest to shutdown our government? He’s a lawyer and litigator too.
Look at the date of that article – July 2013. Ted Cruz was already lobbying to hold the Federal government hostage to his demands to defund the Affordable Care Act, and he was being bankrolled by some of the wealthiest Americans in that process.
And what has already happened today to our US economy which has been struggling for over a decade? Well, thousands of government workers are at least temporarily out of work, impacting their ability to pay their bills and pay taxes. Thousands of other workers and businesses who rely on the presence and spending power of those government workers or the agencies will immediately suffer reduced income, have to lay off workers, some may go out of business. That will help our economy, yeah. Oh yes, and in a final twist of irony, Ted Cruz’ former law firm who spends much of their time arguing cases before federal courts? I received an email from one federal court yesterday that read as follows:
In the event of a government shutdown on October 1, 2013, the federal Judiciary will remain open for business for approximately 10 business days. On or around October 15, 2013, the Judiciary will reassess its situation and provide further guidance. All proceedings and deadlines remain in effect as scheduled, unless otherwise advised. Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) will remain in operation for the electronic filing of documents with courts.
The federal judiciary handles major civil and criminal cases throughout the country and includes, you guessed it, the Supreme Court that held the Affordable Healthcare Act to be constitutional.
How is this different from the armed gunman or weapons caches in schools? As aptly stated by threat assessment specialist Gavin de Becker in his book “The Gift of Fear” –
When a person requires something unattainable, such as total submission to an unreasonable demand, it is time to stop negotiating, because it’s clear the person cannot be satisfied. Getting pulled into discussions about the original issue misses the point.
In the words of Ronald Reagan “There is no room worldwide for terrorists. There will be no negotiations of any kind with terrorists.” http://www.history.com/videos/reagan-dont-negotiate-with-terrorists Actions speak louder than words, especially when lawyers are talking.