Lawyer Politicos Know Best … How to Violate Our Rights

Fréderic Bastiat, who penned <em><a href="" target="_blank">The Law</a></em>, was born 214 years ago on June 30. (<a href="" target="_blank">The Blaze</a>)
Fréderic Bastiat, who penned The Law, was born 214 years ago on June 30. (The Blaze)

EspañolLife, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.
—Frédéric Bastiat

A study of 5,000 government leaders of Europe and the United States conducted by The Economist revealed that 20 percent of presidents and prime ministers were lawyers.

Since Argentina’s return to democracy, only lawyers have been heads of state: Raúl Alfonsín, Carlos Menem, Fernando de la Rúa, Adolfo Rodriguez Saa, Eduardo Duhalde, Néstor Kirchner, and Cristina Fernandez. Fidel Castro, a lawyer, ruled Cuba for 40 years, and US President Barack Obama, also has a law degree.

Perhaps there is a natural tendency for lawyers to enter politics, or perhaps their success is due to their persuasion and speech skills when it comes to promoting their candidacy. It could simply be that lawyers are more capable of navigating the intricate labyrinth to power.

The reason why heads of state are oftentimes lawyers is not clearly understood. But that every leader aforementioned has left, or is leaving a legacy of economic, political, or social crisis in their wake is evident.

Whether by ignorance, or contempt for individual life, liberty, and prosperty, all lawyers-turned-leaders have demonstrated a complete disregard for “individual rights.” And that is not surprising.

While economists, engineers, and doctors who were elected to government offices have caused similar problems. However, what is particularly alarming is that those who have dedicated years to the study of law have used their influence to oppose individual rights.

It is important to understand why.

Were we so blind as to vote for men and women of the law with such low self-esteem that they saw legalized theft as the only way to get of money? Or was it just bad luck that we turned to lawyers with resentment issues, who had seen the power on offer to lord over citizens?

Perhaps, the problem lies with law education. As they turn their attention to Hans Kelsen, they leave the writings of John Locke and Frédéric Bastiat untouched.

There is clearly an essential incompatibility between individual rights and the so-called entitlements. The first are negative rights, which compel society and the state to not encroach on them. The second are positive rights imposed on society as a whole to provide for the purported common good.

The rights to life, property, or liberty (individual rights) impose restrictions on government’s reach and dictate they must not be infringed upon. In contrast, rights to a job, the right to housing, minimum wage, monthly family allowance, and many other so-called “rights,” require someone to provide them. This dependency requires government to take from the individual, ultimately assaulting on his property and liberty.

Argentinean economist Roberto Cachanosky wrote that “the seizure of savings, arbitrary redistribution of wealth and inheritances, haphazard and confiscatory tax codes, and a tax authority violate essential rights, as do a long list of examples of anti-republican actions taken under attorney headed governments.”

As lawyer-led governments continue to prosecute those exercising individual rights, we, in turn, continue to suffer under governments that are variations of democratic tyranny.

Character flaws or psychological issues that affect those who wield power are impossible to fix, but the least we can hope for is that lawyers rediscover the simple and time-honored book The Law, by Bastiat. If they did, we would see a major advancement.

Translated by Thalia C. Siqueiros.

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