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Finally, Good News About the Economy

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

The January 26th issue of “The Wall Street Journal” finally provided some really cheery news about the economy with the joyful headline: “Recession Batters Law Firms, Triggering Layoffs, Closings.”

I’ve long advocated a government imposed one- to two-generation moratorium on lawyers breeding. It would certainly have the support of the vast majority of Americans, but it would raise some thorny ethical and legal issues. So this is the next best thing: a Darwinian thinning of the one herd that probably takes more from the economy than any other, and contributes little. Cannibals even refuse to eat lawyers. It leaves a bad taste in their mouths.

The article says layoffs at law firms are now “commonplace.” Wonderful. Is there any other population of workers in this economy that could be furloughed en-masse and do less harm by its shrinkage?

Yes, actually there is – Congress, which, not coincidentally, has a lot of lawyers in its ranks. If only we could lay off Congress for two or three years. If they’re all home collecting extended unemployment compensation, doing nothing, none of their legislation – or the president’s – can move. And the country will be better off.

After all, most of the blowhards now arguing over how to best spend a trillion or more to solve our economy’s ills are the same incompetents and bought-and-owned toadies who drove it off the cliff in the first place. Having Barney Frank and Chris Dodd engineering the repair of the banking system is like putting the navigator from the Titanic in charge of your cruise.

Every bit of meddling and blindfolded spending Congress has done so far has, by every possible measurement, made things worse, and there’s every reason to assume their next bumbling move will too. They are, at best, Inspector Clouseaus. Less charitable interpretations are easily justified. Either way, it’s impossible to imagine us winding up worse off if the whole bunch of them went on extended vacations.

Here’s a parallel for someone in the media to draw, if they care to: Members of Congress now bitterly complain that they voted for TARP #1 based on false information about a ginned up crisis. Just like they insist the Bush Administration sold them the Iraq War. And just like they’re now cooperating with their new president in selling both TARP #2 plus another 800-billion dollars or so of spending. Are they fools who can be easily, repeatedly fooled by the same trick, or co-conspirators in repetitive fraud? Either way, their absence would put the brakes on the headlong trebling of the accumulated debt, and that would be a good thing.

In Washington D.C., when it snows, the news broadcasts carry the government’s notice to all non-essential government workers to stay home. In a rare bit of honesty on its part, Congress usually does take those days off. In California now, in honor of its budget crisis, Arnold has ordered all non-essential government employees to take two days off each month without pay. If they’re non-essential, why are they there at all? In small business, we have no non-essential employees. Only the essential ones.

There is that Shakespeare quote: first, kill all the lawyers. And it must feel like death for them to get pink slips and the suggestion that they try their hand at earning honest livings. The economy is expanding these terminations to everyone and everything non-essential. It is right, and those trying to stop this shedding of its dead skin, wrong.

So, here’s what we do: cut all the non-essential spending that cannot be proven beyond shadow of doubt to be a stimulant from the stimulus package. Let all the non-essential employees in every place have their jobs eliminated, and let them make themselves essential somewhere else, doing essential work. Let the failed, functionally bankrupt companies disappear and we’ll discover none were essential. Let the economy cleanse itself of all the non-essential sludge and re-birth itself, shiny and new.

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