Given the circumstances, this may just be the second dumbest campaign commercial Diaper David Vitter has ever run, especially since he tried to carry water for BP after the spill via limiting their liability for the damage they caused.
I’ve come to realize the danger of ideology when ordinary folks allow themselves to become unwitting dupes to those with higher personal aspiration that inhabit the political world, especially those that hold elected office. As a young CPA I was privileged to be broke in by a guy who not only held the credential but was also a superlative businessman and of all the lessons he taught me, the why he was in business instead of politics was the one that stuck with me forever.
…..some people like money and some people like power. I like money because money rents power……
Without knowing when he spoke those words, a man who by all appearances was a simple county CPA was explaining what academia now terms Public Choice Theory. I view it as a branch of behavioral economics, a topic of which I’ve written extensively about here at Slabbed. There are two points about Public Choice Theory I need to make:
- Politicians and high level government officials are self-interested agents like everyone else. Recognizing that fact explains how they react or interact with the social system. Along those same lines those that perceive their interaction with government as key to their own self interests are the type that become involved in the process. We know that group as “special interests”.
- Whenever the actors are motivated by self interests and benefits are to be had at little to no personal costs you can bet your sweet bippy the concept of “dispersed costs/concentrated benefits” comes into play. Here is a blurb from a libertarian think tank which explains that concept within what they call the “welfare state”:
Besides being able to hide what they are doing, the policymakers and their clients have other advantages too. As the public-choice theorists have long taught, in the political arena the small, well-organized group almost always can have its way over the mass of citizens. That seems paradoxical in a democracy, where votes are supposed to count. In a country where sugar consumers far outnumber sugar producers, why is there a sugar program designed to keep sugar prices artificially high? That same question can be asked about any number of products and commodities. Why don’t the users outvote the producers?
The paradox is resolved by the concepts of “dispersed costs” and “concentrated benefits.” The price of any single government program, such as the sugar program, is small for any individual consumer. If he could compute the additional amount he has to pay because of the program, it would probably seem too small to justify active opposition. Most people are busy making a living and raising their families. The opportunity costs of organizing against the sugar program would outweigh the benefits even if there was a good chance the program could be abolished. A fully informed citizen would probably shrug his shoulders with regret and a sense of futility. That is the effect of dispersed costs.
While the expense to any individual is small, the total cost for all citizens is huge. That reverses the incentives for the relatively small group on the receiving end of the program. Those large benefits are divided among that small group. Since each member of the group stands to gain a great deal, it is worth his time to actively lobby for the program, or more precisely, to pay dues to a trade association that will set up shop in Washington, D.C., and look after his interests. That is the effect of concentrated benefits.
It is no mystery, then, that special interests prevail over the vast majority of citizens. Most of us have too little to gain materially from trying to stop individual welfare-state programs. Maybe that’s what Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he said that there is a natural tendency for government to grow and for liberty to yield.
The logic is clear cut here and very applicable to the Jefferson Parish River Birch landfill, for instance. When the actors are self interested all sorts of whacky stuff can happen and that brings us to Magnum and the recent soirees he hosted for GOP stalwarts Billy Nungesser and Bobby Jindal. You see folks, cavorting with trial lawyers is like cavorting with whores used to be with the GOP: strictly prohibited. In the GOP world, trial lawyers are the bad guy and trial lawyers like Magnum JD are of the kind that gives the entire profession a bad name. In fact the demonization of the consumer side of the legal profession got so bad the trials lawyers even changed their name. Even worse for the local trial lawyer bar is that as a group they do not consider Magnum to be one of their number despite the first sur name listed on Magnum’s firm because he has little to no court room experience. My experience is those that knew the late, legendary litigator/trial lawyer Wendell Gauthier seem to harbor the most animus for Magnum as they could not be more different professionally but that is a different post.
So what in the hell is Jindy and his boy Nunny doing rubbing elbows with Magnum? There is no ideology here folks because the color is green and the rea$on $o $traightforward no one $hould have been $urprised. Going a step further I’ll add if Magnum had stepped up for David Vitter he too would be taking campaign checks from trial lawyers just as he does from the corporate defense bar. Ideology is well and good but political campaign$ run on ca$h, which ironically is the reason GOP stalwarts hate trial lawyers as they give overwhelmingly to Democrats. Our readers should notice that no where in here is the public interest being served.
That said the more idealolgically pure of heart on the political right immediately cried foul at Jindy including our own IMA who was the earliest of innovators since we broke the news. Next up is John Maginnis over at Louisiana Politics who wrote:
Business supporters of Gov. Bobby Jindal are questioning why he is raising money from trial lawyers, their traditional adversaries in politics. Invitations have gone out for a Sept. 29 fundraiser for Friends of Bobby Jindal to be hosted by the Gauthier Williams Houghtaling law firm, which handles major class-action cases. The New Orleans firm was established by the late Wendell Gauthier. The event will be held at the Brown Mansion on St. Charles Avenue, the site of frequent GWH firm fundraisers, held for Democrats mainly. “Governor Jindal is seeking support from everyone in Louisiana,” says Jindal’s press secretary Kyle Plotkin. “Contributors to the governor support his agenda for reforming Louisiana and moving our state forward—not the other way around.
(That Plotkin name is familiar to me from way back. Perhaps our readers can fill in that blank for me.)
With due respect to Maginnis it was conservative media vet Scott McKay who took this topic to an entirely new level with his post on this subject over at the Hayride, which copiously linked Slabbed and ironically, some of the posts on the old Folo blog about Calvin Fayard and his role with Charlie Foti when Foti was AG. Fayard is a compelling character in Louisiana politics (almost exclusively mainly behind the scenes) who used to frequently team up with now convicted felon Hugh Sibley, a Denham Springs lawyer who plead to laundering money for mexican drug cartels here in the US. I’ve seen enough to be convinced there is a much larger story on Fayard, who is currently class lawyer in Consolidated Canal Breaches (CCB) along with his longtime friend, Judge Stanwood Duval, who is presiding over the case. I’ve seen enough of CCB to ascertain that the class council will make good money but the folks whose houses were flooded due to the engineering problems with the NOLA area levees that failed during Katrina are probably SOL IMHO. I’ll add such is part of the reason we stopped covering the case here on Slabbed.
I for one hope Scott keeps digging on Magnum and Calvin Fayard as it is fertile ground. For our part we’ll continue to highlight how the problem with a corrupt judiciary as illustrated by the recent impeachment trial of Tom Porteous cuts across party lines. I hope I’m right when I say that it appears Scott gets it as he ran with our tip on Orrin Hatch and added a good bit of meat to that Porteous bone. It is so good we’ll repeat it here:
To be donating to Jindal all of a sudden seems more than a little strange; what’s stranger still is a $1,000 donation to Orrin Hatch from 1999. We noticed in yesterday’s research that both Calvin and Caroline Fayard had made donations to the Utah Republican, and we found that peculiar as well.
Turns out that Hatch’s vote on legislation affecting tobacco lawsuits may have had something to do with that. At least that’s one theory. Another turned up at the Slabbed blog – looks like there was a connection with a bunch of trial lawyers, John Breaux and Hatch with respect to the appointment of one Thomas Porteous to the federal bench. Porteous got confirmed, Hatch landed a huge windfall of donations from Louisiana lawyers – including nine different $1,000 donations from members of the Fayard family – and everything went swimmingly until the judge turned out to be one of the most famously corrupt in the history of corrupt judges and ended up getting impeached this year.
We’ll talk ideology once the entire swamp is drained, not just the portion which benefits one political party as both parties drink from these toxic waters. Operators like Rowan Drilling outside lawyer Dick Chopin is just as bad as Fayard and Magnum IMHO. They all exist because the system insures hogs like Tom Porteous end up on the local federal bench here in the deep south.