[FoRK] Challenge for Zee and Stephen

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Mon Jun 30 10:29:17 PDT 2008

Jeff Bone wrote:
> On Jun 30, 2008, at 11:03 AM, Jeff Bone wrote:
>> Let's turn this around.
> BTW, this part of the whole platform is at a point of diminishing 
> returns;  I'd happily accept the status quo here in exchange for 
> consideration of various other concerns.  I've asked my (mostly 
> rhetorical, though I'd be interested in answers) questions, and I 
> don't see much point in arguing this one particular item much further 
> if at all.
> The interesting thing about this point being particularly 
> controversial is that I believe that Zee and Stephen --- and most of 
> the people who object to the proposed system --- may actually be 
> revealing a fundamental bias that they may or may not be aware of, but 
> that is critically important to questions of social justice.  That 
> bias is this:  a preference for systems which are weighted in the 
> favor of those without vested interest over those that have vested 
> interest.
> Z / S:  could that in fact be the case?  
No.  Everything I've said so far is consistent also with my situation 
which is that I will likely never hire a lawyer again and do everything 
my self, "pro se".  I will always have a vested interest.  I generally 
don't wrong other people, especially not on purpose, and I've been 
wronged plenty of times.  Only one of those was I finally able to do 
something about, even though it was just a little case of someone who 
had been breaking the law by overcharging and other aspects for the 
whole time they were in business.  I was ripped off by Verizon in two 
ways, one by thousands the other by hundreds.  I was dissuaded in those 
older cases from taking them to court by lack of familiarity, time, 
etc.  There is at least one thing recently that cost me a few hundred 
recently where a company representative told me one thing, repeatedly, 
in writing, and their billing department charged me for an additional 
final month anyway.  I hate to let those things go because I know that 
they are doing it to many others, and I at least know / can learn enough 
to take them to court.  In those kinds of cases, it is, to some degree, 
a public service to push back at bad practices.  There is no lawyer, 
most of the time, who will take such a case.  There are no plaintiffs 
who would find it worth their time to bother.  I can, or at least I did 
in one case, rationalize it as inexpensive legal education, even if I 
were to lose.  In my case, I would never bring a frivolous case, letting 
gray areas slide generally.  I should not be penalized by bad actors.
> Perhaps you recognize that the system as constructed is not "fair" in 
> the sense of providing equal protection / balanced risk-reward to both 
> the plaintiff and the defendant in any given case, but rather you 
> regard the system as "fair" in that it provides what you see as a 
> desirable *imbalance* in favor of the little guy.  I.e., gov't 
> establishment exists in part to flex its muscles on behalf of the little
I don't see how there is an imbalance in favor of the little guy.  
Identify a wrong you have experienced and just try to take it to court.  
It's a long, slow, expensive, and highly risky venture.  The guys with 
the deep pockets and many customers can run rings around most people, 
filing motions, discovery, subpoenas, requesting depositions, etc. until 
you are bankrupted.  The only time that I see that defendants have an 
advantage is when A) they are attorneys and B) they aren't attorneys and 
are acting pro se anyway.  The latter case is fraught with danger.  
Lacking a real, certified legal education, it is likely that you will 
get into deep water in many kinds of cases without having happened onto 
the legal background, standard court practice, and case law needed to 
combat an expensive legal team.  The only help in that area, and I 
suppose what attorneys use to solve a similar problem, is that all legal 
arguments are supposed to be on the table before you get to court.
> guy, and if the effect of that is a more-than-is-otherwise-fair 
> monetary flow from the wealthy to the not-so, then so be it, that's 
> fine;  and the creation and enrichment of a whole class of social 
> parasites as a side effect is deemed an acceptable cost for that 
> "beneficial" redistributive effect.  Or perhaps to put that less 
> dismissively;  systematic advantages to a given side of an issue are 
> acceptable as long as that side is the otherwise in some sense weaker 
> side;  the system should comprehend and endeavor to offset various 
> weaknesses among its participants.
I don't really know what you are considering to be a statistical anomaly 
here.  Sure, weaker parties sue stronger parties more.  There are 
multiple reasons that is true, starting with the concept of being 
judgment proof.  People with no money, and no significant promise of 
money, pretty much never get sued for money because it is a waste of 
time.  People who own things, employ others, sell to others, etc. get 
sued when they make mistakes or are negligent, etc.  They also typically 
have insurance for that kind of thing.  In fact, most people have some 
degree of general liability insurance tacked on to other insurance.  
They generally know when they are wronging people.  When it is a 
surprise, they usually correct it.

The people wronged are not social parasites.  Attorneys who help people 
who have been wronged are also not social parasites, even if they 
advertise and work on commission.  On the one hand you may have a person 
who is wronged and can't find someone to help them vs. finding an 
attorney that will work on commission.  Just because the latter results 
in a lawsuit where the former doesn't, isn't an indication that 
something is wrong.  On the contrary, the former unaddressed wrong is 
the problem, and it happens very often now.  People should be taught how 
to deal with small claims court.  It should be part of high school 
civics, start to finish.  5 minutes of "the court's" time is not the end 
of the world in terms of government services.
> I strongly suspect that's at least part of the story for many in terms 
> of unexamined preferences, though perhaps not the case w/ Zee and 
> Stephen.
> jb


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