The Great Legal Society

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Every year, law professors guide their students through the thicket of U. S. laws and even show them how to make more. Few question whether this enterprise contributes to “the common good.”

“What makes a country rich is private, not public, enterprise, and what private enterprise requires is a legal system that protects and encourages private ordering through stable property rights and enforceable promises,” F. H. Buckley writes in the September issue of The American Spectator. Buckley teaches at the George Mason School of Law.

“For the 60 years prior to 2007, America enjoyed GDP [Gross Domestic Product] increases of 3 to 4 percent a year,” Buckley writes. “From 2008-13, however, we’ve seen average increases of 0.73 percent.” Buckley is the author of The American Illness: Essays on the Rule of Law, which was published by the Yale University Press this year. His article in The Spectator was excerpted from that book.

He notes that in the Cato Institute’s Economic Freedom in the World survey, “On its metric for ‘Legal System and Property Rights,’ the U. S. is 33rd in the world today, down from number one in 1980.”

“’We’re number 33!’ doesn’t have much of a ring to it but even that might be too generous.”

Additionally, the according to the U. S. Department of Commerce, “many foreign investors view the U. S. legal environment as a liability when investing in the United States.”

“That helps explain why U. S. multinationals shed 864,000 jobs in the first decade of this century,” Buckley observes. “The jobs are coming back, mind you, just not here.”

“During the same period, U. S. multinationals increased employment overseas by 2.9 million.”

Another significant change occurred over the past decade. “A decade ago the New York Stock Exchange launched half the world’s new public companies,” Buckley notes. “By 2006 this had dropped to one in 12, as firms moved to the London Stock Exchange and other venues.”
“Much of the blame lies with Paul Sarbanes and Mike Oxley, sponsors of the [federal] Sarbanes-Oxley corporate reform legislation (‘Sarbox’), whose photographs (as their favorite Americans) are displayed by London brokers.”

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail


Leave a Reply

(*) Required, Your email will not be published