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The Right to Justice
Political Economy of Legal Services in the United States. The Locke Institute Series
'They have built a dam across the rivers of justice and then they complain of the drought in the field below.' - With these stinging words W. Clarke Durrant III, then Chairman of the Legal Services Corporation, admonished the American Bar Association in 1987 for its use of monopoly prices to exclude less affluent Americans from access to civil justice. The Right to Justice reviews the history of legal services in the US from its origins in the 1890s to the multi-million dollar Federal program of the late 20th century. But this is no ordinary text. Charles Rowley skilfully shows how government transfers tend to be dissipated in competitive rent-seeking by special interest groups, that much of what is left tends to be subverted to the agendas of the more powerful groups and that the residuals tend to be inefficiently managed by a poorly monitored and ideologically motivated supply bureaucracy. The upshot is that customer preferences play little or no role in the allocation of resources within the legal services budget.
In a veritable tour de force, Charles Rowley places the US Federal legal services program on the scholarly rack of public choice - which analyses individual behaviour in terms of universal self-seeking motivations in a political market. He offers a convincing unique explanation of the forces that have subverted a well meaning attempt to assist poor Americans into a co ordinated attack on the central institutions of the family, capitalism and of Madisonian Republicanism which together constitute the essence of the American dream.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'It is not often that an original work in economics can be read simultaneously by both the specialist and non-specialist with a general understanding of economics. As the first full-scale study of the Locke Institute, founded by the author to stimulate research into constitutional and legal economics to reach a wide public, the work sets a standard which future authors will find great difficulty in emulating.' -- Sir Alan Peacock, The David Hume Institute, Edinburgh, UK 'The Right to Justice is in a class by itself. Charles Rowley's attack on the Chicago School of Political Economy is all the more damaging because it shares much the same classical liberal perspective. Marshalling a vast amount of information and insights from different schools of thought, Rowley shows that US government's pattern of legal aid to the poor cannot be explained by the Chicago political economy model, and then goes on to provide his own original and perceptive explanation.' -- Mancur Olson, formerly, University of Maryland at College Park, US 'The Right to Justice is a masterful achievement. It deserves to be read widely.' -- William F. Shughart II, University of Mississippi, US 'Charles Rowley has done what few have been able to do: penetrate the fog in Washington with the clear light of reason in order to maximize justice for all.' -- W. Clark Durant III, Chairman, Board of Directors, The Legal Services Corporation, 1985-89 'The Locke Institute has started its series with The Right to Justice by Charles Rowley. The theme of this book is well scored by the picture on the cover which shows a well dressed lawyer gaining while two poor blacks are left out. Advocates of government aid to various legal programs assume that they benefit the poverty population when as a matter of fact they primarily benefit a special portion of the bar. Rowley clearly and definitely disposes of this myth.' -- Gordon Tullock, George Mason University, US 'This is an important book, for two main reasons... it provides a thorough analysis of the differences between the Chicago and the Virginia schools of political economy. Second, it shows that consumer preferences play virtually no role in determining the allocation of public resources to civil-justice access programs... Apart from providing a salutary lesson for those concerned with improving access to civil justice, the book should appeal to those interested in modern political economy.' -- Ian McEwin, Agenda