Monday, November 26, 2012

The Real Reason We Face the Fiscal Cliff

There are many issues with Congress justifying why they have approval ratings in the low teens. To me, the most glaring issue is the professional background experience of Congressional leaders. Only five members of Congress have a background in math, science, and or engineering. And there are a total of 7 accountants. In all, there are 12 members out of 535 Representatives and Senators with a math or science background (just a little more than 2%). Congress is dominated by one profession – Lawyers. There are 222 Lawyers in the House and Senate (over 41%). And believe it or not this number is down from 277 lawyers forty years ago and 257 lawyers 30 years ago. And what’s worse, the executive branch is usually occupied by lawyers with limited math experience. In fact, Obama makes fun of his math skills which he rates at the 7th grade level. Yet, this is the same president who said Romney’s budget math was wrong and his administration is responsible for setting graduating standards for high school level math.

What are the biggest problems facing our country today? They are complicated fiscal issues. Yet, year in and year out, the electorate reinstates over 90% of incumbents (most of whom are lawyers) who continue to push the country towards fiscal oblivion or the fiscal cliff. Our government has failed to pass a budget in nearly 4 years. Congress does not seem to understand or comprehend that if the U.S. had a balanced budget the country would operate more efficiently and consequently allow the economy to expand and grow. Simply put, this creates less uncertainty for business owners.

There is a need for lawyers, but for the most part the profession is overrated and there are too many of them in the United States. I blame too many lawyers for creating a society which is lawsuit happy and this is a big reason for inflation. For instance, one reason medical costs are soaring is because of frivolous lawsuits which subsequently cause the price of medical malpractice insurance to skyrocket. Frivolous lawsuits against any company will drive up the cost for goods and services. In fact, lobbying for businesses, groups, and organizations is big Washington DC business and is made up of thousands of lawyers who carve special deals for their clients and simply put, complicate legislation. This is why ObamaCare is over 2000 pages long and why our tax code is over 4 million words – lawyers make legislation convoluted, ambiguous, and abstract. It is no surprise that tort reform of any kind is never brought up in Congress.

We have a branch of government that is chartered with upholding the law of bills and legislation – the Supreme Court. So why then do we need hundreds of more lawyers in other branches of government? The law is abstract and ambiguous and therefore, each person can have a unique interpretation of the constitution – and there are no right answers (although we all think we know the right answer). Whereas, math and engineering solutions are exact – there are right answers. Engineers are technical writers which is a more direct, easy to understand, and a less convoluted way to write legislation then laws written by lawyers filled with confusing jargon open to multiple interpretations and hence, different implementations of the law. Good engineers can explain solutions to complicated issues in terms the common man can understand.

In 2011, the government granted 85,000 H1-B visas (equivalent to 1 month of job growth under Obama) to foreigners to do for the most part engineering, math, and science jobs. Yes, Americans trained to do technical jobs is a dying breed in the United States. These are high paying jobs and these jobs are the ones that generate the most proprietary information and patents. The people doing these jobs are the inventors and innovators which are necessary to create new business ideas and products that will keep the U.S. a global economic leader. Foreigners get educated at our universities, get trained at our companies, and then go home to create a business to compete against U.S. companies. This is why America and the U.S. economy are losing ground to China and other countries around the globe. We need math and science professionals in Washington to correct this glaring problem. Lawyers do not understand this problem – in fact their solution to the problem is to generate more H1-B visas instead of correcting our educational flaws.


  1. Great post again, Patrick.

    It is astonishing to learn the extent to which lawyers are running this country. In fact, if I were queen I wouldn’t allow lawyers in the government at all.

    There are two major problems with lawyers. First, they are trained to lie. That is what they do. They argue whatever side they are paid to argue and they try to win at any cost. Secondly, they never create anything. All they do is figure out ways to take money from one person’s pocket and put it in someone else’s pocket (especially their own). That’s the last kind of skill we need in Washington.

    I hate to say it because I have a beloved nephew who is a lawyer but it’s the truth.

    1. Well, I too know lots of lawyers and my older brother is one. But no worries, he is a liberal and would never read anything I wrote.

      I have the same problem with financial people as lawyers. As you say they simply distribute money and do not create anything tangible. Pretty sad.