Probably the most significant aspect of the American form of government is the importance placed on the rights of each individual. The whole basis for America's success has been faith in the individual, and, when need be, the faith in the individuals to cooperate. Thomas Edison, Howard Hughes, and John D. Rockefeller were all men who made contributions to the success of America through individual achievements. They could not have done this if they lived somewhere such as Russia or Great Britain, whose governments believe if one individual benefits too much someone is suffering because of it.
But now, to keep up with the rise in technology and growth of bureaucracy, our government has seen fit to create all sorts of hellishly complicated laws. That's why law school is so hard, and why lawyers are so expensive. As a result, it is impossible for average people to keep up with all the laws created, unless they hire lawyers. And lawyers aren't cheap. Big companies can afford lawyers, though. Big companies can also afford to drag things out in court, which most individuals can't. Most people don't have extensive legal departments, or the resources to acquire them. As a result, most individuals cannot afford to protect their rights.
In the end it all comes down to money. Faced with the overwhelming number of unintelligible laws, and the unaffordable cost of a lawyer, individuals turn to the government, the creator of the law. Unfortunately, the federal government, and a growing number of state governments, only listen to the businesses' spokesmen presenting new opportunities to improve the economy of the area. The supposedly representative democracy has grown blind to the problems of the people which provide its mandate. Situations in which people suffer or are killed or injured because of the negligence of a major company (or even worse, several companies) are rarely settled fairly. A good example is the recent scandal surrounding Bic lighters. Several people were seriously injured or killed as a result of the lighters' exploding. No one was arrested or held responsible for the injuries. The cases were settled out of court. What choice did the victims or survivors of the victims have?
The bottom line in these type of cases is that a large corporation can afford a legal firm which will tie up whatever case the individual or inept and overburdened government agencies can put together. Companies manage to weasel out of any offense, including the atrocities which result from the negligence of chemical companies in the United States alone, where thousands of groundwater sites are deemed hazardous. These offenses are a threat to our lives, yet they go unchecked.
The recent trade embargos against Japan further demonstrate the federal government's attitude toward the individual in comparison with businesses. Reagan was quick to point out how the Japanese products would undercut American business, but neglected to mention that we'd be paying higher prices to save those firms. Someone over here ended up paying for it in the end anyway. It just wasn't a business.
Probably the saddest thing of all is that when a business actually loses in court, they just tack it on to what they charge the rest of society. So when someone receives just compensation because his car blew up, the company just raises the price of next year's model to recoup the difference. They don't pay for their mistakes - we do. Just try to tell your employer you want a raise because your neighbor took you to court after you beat his toy poodle to death with a baseball bat because it wouldn't stop barking.
America was not founded on principles placing businesses above the rest of society - and especially the law. Our laws are supposed to protect the rights and encourage the growth of the individual, not the economy. A country will prosper when one provides for the growth and safety of the individuals. The government obviously needs to be reminded just for whom it exists - the majority which elects it, not the businesses that buy it.
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