Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Friday, September 11, 2009

Think Twice, Post Once

Heh. Megan McArdle:

...[T]he argument that consumers find it hard to make informed decisions on healthcare is true of many services, particularly professional services. Do you know whether your lawyer is doing a good job? If so, how? Unless he's actually dozing through the trial or forgetting your name and the pertinent details of your case, you don't have any very good way of evaluating his work. Is the house you're buying going to be snug or drafty? Did your auto mechanic do a good job on your car? In most cases, the answer is . . . shrug.

Yet most lawyers could readily explain why trying to pay every lawyer in the country on a flat-fee basis based on what some bureaucrat thinks it should cost to take a case would probably not result in optimal outcomes. Indeed, most every professional, from engineers to journalists, would reject such a scheme for their own profession in short order. So why do these things sound so sensible when the target is wearing a white coat?

Indy September 11, 2009 11:49 AM
The funny thing is - this description of legal compensation is not far from how the criminal justice system works in some parts of the country. Judges and Prosecutors get a fixed salary. In many counties public defenders for the indigent are compensated in a way that is either like Medicare (mandatory uniform fixed-fees for paperwork and time), or even within a very narrow range of compensation per case unless it presents some rare and extraordinary demands.

Come to think of it - isn't free indigent defense kind of like a "public option"? You can't afford the going rate for a private practitioner and so you have to settle for what the government is willing to pay for. It's of acceptable quality, but almost no one who could afford a private attorney would choose a public defender.


Megan McArdle (Replying to: Indy) September 11, 2009 12:07 PM
And most liberals would agree that this system is terrible, provides low-quality services that are only acceptable because they go to a poor underclass that doesn't vote, and are responsible for an overlarge conviction rate for indigent defendants.


TomO (Replying to: Megan McArdle) September 11, 2009 12:34 PM
Well arguably, but only in the sense that you should pay them more and let them have a larger budget for investigation resources. Please show me where there are any liberals that don't support a "public option" for indigent defense as a matter of principle. Hell I haven't even seen any one argue a different fee system for indigent defense than either a public defender's office or set fee rates for panel attorneys.

So, no, your point fails, this is pretty much how we want to provide the legal services that we deem important enough for a government guarantee.

Doesn't she ever feel embarrassment?


Unknown said...

And indigent defendants would be better off . . . what, not having a lawyer? What is the libertarian solution to this problem?

Susan of Texas said...

Jail. It's a matter of personal responsibility!

Mr. Wonderful said...

"So why do these things sound so sensible when the target is wearing a white coat?"

Perhaps because when you're dealing with someone in that white coat, what is at stake is your physical wellbeing, if not actual survival. Which is a necessary precursor to any and every "freedom" these libertarian debate-club posturers think they're promoting.

tigris said...

A terrible system is acceptable because the poor don't vote? Hmm, that doesn't actually sound like something most, or even any, liberals would say.

Euripides said...

Ah, but you're just used to 'actual' liberals, tigris, not the special imaginary ones that 'talk' to Megan (or magical 'readers' who just so happen to have no self awareness and send her an e-mail just in the nick of time) and say stupid things that just so happen to confirm that she is always right.