Laura Nader - The Law as Solver of Social Problems

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Laura Nader, American anthropologist, speaking at Macalester College. Nader’s address was on the topic of community understanding, or lack thereof, law.

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This is a talk that I've thought about from a number of different angles and focused on different points at different times. I've given the talk a variety of titles when I gave it at the Texas law school. We subtitled at the law takes a holiday that tells you something about what happens to little troubles. Anyway, we've sometimes entitled at the law who needs it and at other times Law Without order, I think all of these things point out the observations that we've been making and looking at what Americans do and they run into Troublesome situations.Now I Came Upon This topic for research kind of inadvertently. I did my anthropological field stint in southern Mexico among a group of Indians the zapotec Indians while I was there. I observed and recorded and wrote about their legal system at the same time as I observed their their law. I talked about what alternatives to the law they had and there were several things that we noticed while while in the field one was that citizens had easy access to the law.They had a courtroom a one-room courtroom with a president and he listened to problems that people brought to him all day long. He solve those that he could solve and solve is the word they use he passed on those that he couldn't handle to the judge in the town. It was considered. Sort of it was considered too bad. If a president had to pass cases on that is a successful president would solve all of the cases but a few filter down to the judge and those that didn't get solved in the town got passed on to the district court where the national government law came into Focus now rather than go into any great detail about the zapotec. I want to tell you about an experience. I had in viewing a national educational television show entitled the city of Denver versus Lauren Watson. This was a film of a real-life court trial in Denver was filmed by and the narration was written by Harvard law professor. It was about a black panther who was tried in Denver presumably for resisting arrest. The trial lasted something like four days. It must have cost the city of Denver several hundred thousand dollars, perhaps least over a hundred thousand dollars and this man was acquitted after the four days. Now, the interviewer came up to the judge in the court and she was a lady judge and you really have to hand it to her that she allowed this case to be filmed. It's very rare that you get live cases filmed in this country. They went up to the lady judge and they said well, what do you think of the American legal system? And she beamed and she said I just think it's great. What we do in that courtroom is we solve social problems? And they went up to Lauren Watson who had been on trial several times before this was I think his fifth acquittal and they asked him what he thought of the American legal system. And he said I think it stinks. Literally, those were his words. He said those policemen should have been up there not me and the next time this happens and then he went on to threaten. What was what was going to happen the next time? Now when I look when I watch that those that movie that live live to filming. I ask myself is something something just struck me very odd and I thought now from Azam Patek point of view. Probably the only sane person in that courtroom is Lauren Watson. How does optic have handled this case differently? In the first place. The issues would not have been whether or not the defendant had or had not whether he had or had not resisted arrest. They would have been the visible social issues the relationships between police and the citizen tree. That's really what the case was partly about the relation between black and white populations in Denver. That's also what the case was about. The judge would also have considered the consequences of their behaviors on maintaining a kind of healthy situation in Denver between the citizen tree. The zapotec judge would have scolded Lauren Watson for not getting along with the police, but after hearing the case and deciding Upon A fifth acquittal, he probably would have find the police at least enough to cover taking up the Court's time. So that next time they would be more careful. And as I protect Court the case would have taken about four hours rather than four days social rather than legal problems would be up for discussion. And the aim of the proceedings would be to problem-solve rather than to find out whether someone in quotes did it or not. Now there are a number of things like that that began to strike me when I came back and was riding up my materials in the 1960s. And so I began to ask more questions about the American legal system. What's it like here? I began to ask questions that I asked among the zapotec who uses the courts. Turns out we don't know who uses the American legal system. We don't know who uses American Courts at least we don't have anything written about this. We found one article P practicing lawyers know something about who uses the courts. But they don't write about this. We asked questions like what does it cost to run the American legal system? And we found out that nobody had done a real economic analysis, which is sort of surprising since this is a country which focuses a fair amount on the question of money. Nobody had done an economic analysis of what of what it cost to run the American legal system. The one article we found on that subject showed that something like 60% was put into police enforcement 60% of the budget 20% into Corrections and 20% into the Judiciary now just think about those percentages and what they mean, and if you look at the percentages in the budget since the turn of the century, the increase is all been in the enforcement end of it and the money's that we've put for example into the Judiciary have barely kept up with the population growth. We found that there wasn't any there weren't any descriptions to speak of of what really happens in the American legal system. The practicing bar passes information around but for the most part lawyers hardly write about what they what is really interesting. We have an example lately man named schrag wrote a book on his experiences and consumer law in New York City. The book is entitled Council for the deceived. It reads like a mystery story. A lot of lawyers do interesting work, but we hardly ever hear about it. We don't certainly hear about it in school. Unfortunately, we found that the state of research in the law was really shocking. We had statistics on Lower Class crime and absolutely no numbers on upper-class crime. So if you as a citizen for example were to hear President Nixon giving his speech on Law & Order, whereby he asked the citizen tree to please, you know, we've got to put more tax money into solving crime on the streets problem. Let's say that you weren't sure whether that's where you want to put your money and so you went to the local library and he said to the librarian well now why don't you bring me on statistics on American Crime and she brought out the FBI reports. And you said well, this looks like volume 1 it deals with crime in the streets. How about volume to she says there is no volume 2 Because we only keep records of the crimes that are committed by lower-income people in this country. We don't have a vertical picture. In other words. We do not have a vertical slice and what's going on in some respects. I began to realize that the state of research on law. Among the Booga Booga was a lot better than the state of research on law in the United States. That is the amount of detail descriptive material of what actually went on in a society anthropologists had done a much better job of describing this other places than here. And I think the reason we assume that it was done here is that lawyers are so defensive about people encroaching on their territory. And so we thought that since they thought this was a territory, undoubtedly they'd been working in it, but apparently they had not Let me just list one by one some more of the obvious contrast that I encountered and then focus on one for discussion During the period of time we have tonight. As I mentioned, I believe we found that use patterns were different among the zapotec in here. That is if you had troubles there you could walk into a court at any time and you could have access access patterns in this country are for the most part closed as will see a little later. We found that you could stop a zapotec any time of day or night. I need any zapotec you happen to want to stop and you could probably get a pretty good idea from him of what is legal system looked like you could not get a comparable idea of what the American legal system looked like by stopping anybody on the street. In fact this education problem so bad that we've had a number of people's law schools develop across the country first one started in San Francisco, and it's interesting to look at their catalogue of courses. They talk the following kinds of subject matter. Political analysis of the American legal system alternative legal systems health and the law Street survival and criminal procedures women in the law how to delay evictions grand juries how to get unemployment. How do you small claims courts how to fight a wage garnishment landlord tenant law and they put out a book called beat the heat a radical Survival Handbook. Why is that radical we might ask and why is this People's Law School considered radical? It's simple fact that in this country. We can go through school. In fact didn't go all the way up and get a PhD and not have any idea what your legal system looks like and yet in a democracy, of course what the legal system looks like it's very important to you. If you want to know what your rights are and protect them and in fact maintain the kind of system we have We found that that sanctions among the zapotec. We're relatively lenient compared to sanctions in this country that in fact our sanctions are vindictive. We put people in jail. We say we want to rehabilitate him, but with percentages of recidivism up to something like 85% in most of our institutions, you can't really argue that we are rehabilitating. So there must be a punitive element and and putting people in jail on the other hand. If you compare the zapotec system with upper-class law in this country, we found that they would compare as both lenient upper-class law in this country is characterized not by Zero Sum game win or lose. It's characterized by compromise and arbitration and mediation. We found that in this country. We for the most part ignore pluralism that we had. We had swallowed it Hook Line & Sinker the idea that somehow the United States was a homage homogeneous culture that we had in fact succeeded in are Melting Pot concept and so we have examples such as I talked about in one of the classes yesterday of San Francisco murder trial where you have three languages beings being spoken in the courtroom, legally Standard English and black English and nobody but the bailiff realizing that there are totally incomprehensible one to the other certain critical points in the trial so that when they asked the defendant, have you ever been in a Penitentiary? He would answer no sir, but I worked on a boat once and they say but have you ever been at says here you were at San Quentin and he'd say yes, sir. I was at San Quentin and the jury upon the number of these things happening pain being interviewed by the Anthropologist who was working as a bailiff didn't know whether this And was an idiot or whether he was lying or what but regardless it was certainly important in terms of what was going to happen to his life to have known that he couldn't understand the questions. We have the kind of segregation in this country between professionals and the clients or the people that they're supposed to serve that makes it all so incomprehensible, the the whole picture of pluralism is ignored. This was best exemplified by an experiment that was Ron with a group of judges and in Reno Nevada where the judges were busted on try on a trumped-up charge and they were put into a police wagon and and pushed and and rolled off to the court to the police courts. And then put through into the drunk tank that night. Now the response of those judges was absolutely fascinating because the first judge that went into the drunk tank was yelling at the top of his lungs. Where is a chair? Where is the goddamn chair? And the next morning I said to him. What did you learn after 20 years on the bench. I said, what did you learn last night except that there weren't chairs in jail besides that they weren't chairs in jail. And he said well was a very interesting thing. He said those people kept coming up to us and saying what are you guys doing in here? You got money. So somehow it had never entered this judge and all the other judges Minds although they'd been on the bench that long that the only people that end up in the drunk tank and not all are not all the intoxicants and not all the drunks in the United States. They're only the drunks that can't pay bail. And is this Bradley of your campus has shown there's some very very sad consequences that occur as a result of not making these things better understood by judges. We also found that that although we talk a lot about the American legal system that there was very little that was systemic about it. And I was we even I would even question as to whether we have a legal system because the system suggest that there's some integration involved and there are too many crazies as I call them involved in this and in the American legal system for us to even begin to think of it as a system. For example Spradley found in Seattle at something like I can't remember the exact percentage. I think it was 70 percent of police time was spent on processing drunks isn't that right? 70% of police time was spent in Seattle on processing drunks was that because Seattle didn't have any more serious problems for the police. That's rather extraordinary use of police time in a country like this. Now we found that that in the in this year 1969 the state of California. We spent 70 million dollars enforcing marijuana laws. During that same year the total budget for the federal Judiciary with a hundred and twenty eight million. That's very odd very odd and you wonder again whether there's anything systemic about this we found that seventy percent seventy six percent of the arrests in San Francisco for last year were non-preferred on victim crimes. Such as prostitution drunkenness homosexuality Etc. Alright further observations led us to conclude that for the most part especially when you're dealing with courts in this country the law serves to punish rather than to solve problems. And I think there's no clear example than the Denver case if judges had had the ability would they would they do other things with the people that are coming before them over and over again? We can we can talk about that in the in the question period now the general picture that I got from this kind of sloppy contrast that I was making General survey was it there seemed to be a breakdown in Law and Order in this country when you have something that doesn't fit together any more. Neatly than this does when you have all of the other things that we began to notice that people were complaining about such as non-enforcement of Health codes non-payment of property taxes by Elites large landlord corruption Loan Sharks consumer abuses and the areas of cars medicines rents Foods Etc. You seem to have a state of what I would call de facto Anarchy. If you looked at the access patterns and coupling it with these observation. It turns out that the law is irrelevant to most of the people in this country. We're speaking here of a mass phenomenon. We're speaking of of the fact that in this country people with their with everyday problems have nowhere to go with those everyday problems. Now, where do we get our information to come to these kinds of conclusions apart from intuition. We started to analyze complaint letter sent to a consumer Crusader Ralph Nader. We had about 5,000 them in Berkeley and it was quite clear that many of these problems they involved big and little problems and they involved for the most part. What would be considered by any lawyer legal problems, but somehow the people who were writing these letters didn't conceive that they could take these legal problems anywhere. The the interest in question of big and little troubles is something that has not concerned people for a long time partly because these are troubles that are low profile there undramatic they involve Petty exploitation. And if you were to add up the dollar total it it doesn't seem to be anything. That's that's too that's too shocking the exploitation out this the dollar total per individual. For example, if you add up the dollar total that an individual in the United States is likely to use because lose because his landlord doesn't give his refund back his deposit back. It's may not be terribly much. But if you if you look at this across the United States, then you've got to quit a situation of massive larceny going on. The trouble with lawyers one of the trouble with lawyers is that they have never learned to survey the case method has its has it's good points, but one of the bad things that it's really that's resulted from training lawyers on the case method model is that they never learn to survey across the board. So while you can have a problem that will lose you $50. It doesn't seem like much but if you realize what $50 means to you vis-à-vis the income you've got and and if you find that all of those losses of fifty dollars are in a lower income bracket than it than the meaning of something else. There is a study done recently called little injustices. It's done by a group of of inform citizens. Some of them are academics met most of them were Housewives people have volunteered their services and it was based at Quincy house in at Harvard University. These people concluded after looking at the situation of little injustices in this country that in the matter of the delivery of Professional Services in America. The high cost of litigation is rivaled as a national Scandal only by the high cost of Medical Services the person of modest income barred from seeking redress for real grievance by the cost of legal assistance. They say may feel a sense of powerlessness just as great as the unattended patient. Has nobody been interested in the question of of. of the these little injustices And should we be we can continue to ask or are there other questions that are more important? Let's just contrast it again with the medical model. What would it be? Like if everyone with a problem under $200 couldn't go to a dentist? What would happen if mathematical Services Center system refuse to handle a ten dollar cut or $20 burn? This is exactly what happens in the legal profession here and yet I'm told that the economics of the profession of such that it can only take cases that are worth something over $200 the legal profession. In fact, it's probably the only professional group in this country that repudiates most of its customers. Why is this so and to what degree is the fact that it is so related to increased professionalization of the bar. That is the more professionalized. Our lawyers have gotten the the greater the the decrease in access to the law. It's interesting because we always assume that the more professionalized we get The better things get I think there are a lot of common people in this country that are beginning to question that but it was apparent in a discussion. We had in a meeting at the international Legal Center last year when we were talking about problems of Law and Africa. and of course an African, I've got a situation where she's in transition from very traditional means of handling handling legal cases to rather modernized means I kept pointing out that from a from an economics point of view. It might be very smart to maintain some of the traditional because they were serving an important function at least until the national got to a point where it could incorporate them in the way that they ought to be incorporated. There was a tremendous exasperation with that point of view and finally one Ivy League Eastern law professor said to me Laura what you don't understand is how primitive these people are and he said, let me just give you an example. So take Ethiopia. They've got 1,500 judges in only three of those judges have ever been to law school. So I said to him, do you have any evidence to suggest that if all 1500 been to law school, they'd be better judges. In fact, do you have any evidence to suggest that with the increased professionalization of the barn United States? We've got better law better access. Turns out nobody has studied this question. The legal profession or people outside the legal profession if not evaluated or analyze the effect of professionalization and the services that result and we might do this not only in the legal field but in the medical field because there's some people that suggest that that services do not improve with professionalisation now, we're not only speaking here about small claims and dollar amounts. We're talking about all kinds of problems that can run up into into large amounts and people find kind of intriguing ways of solving these problems if they can't use the legal system or if they've been burned by the legal system. Let me just tell you this case of Aunt maleva and her husband Floyd who lived in Fresno area and they were farmers and they had a crop to sell and somebody came along and offered him $5,000 for their Cropper $6,000 for the crop. I guess it was. And I sold it but when it came time to pay the fellow wouldn't pay them. So they did what you would normally do. I suppose in a situation where you wanted $5,000 back 6,000 dollars back you go to a lawyer. So she went to a lawyer at maleva and she said to me it cost me $5,000 to get my six thousand dollars back. So several years later, she warned her husband. If you ever sold anything this manner ever had any dealings with him. She divorced him several years later. They had a bumper crop and this man came along and offered to sell it to buy it at a good price and she said to her husband listen a few if you buy if you sell it to that gentleman by we're going to get a divorce and he argued with her and said he checked his bank account and everything was going to be fine this time and he would pay him and so on and so forth. So same thing happened man took the crop and he refused to pay up. So at maleva said Floyd she's a second-generation Yugoslavia. She said Floyd this time we're going to do it Yugoslav style go next door and get a pistol and get yourself gussied up. So he got himself gussied up. He went next door and got a pistol and he went down to the downtown offices gentleman walked in the office sit down Floyd sat down. What can I do for you? I want my money. And he said well, you know soon as I get some I'd be delighted to pay you. It's just that I'm having trouble meeting my payments on such and such and so Floyd pulled out his pistol. He said I want my money he said okay Floyd. He gave it to him and she said to me with a smile on her face you go soft style. It didn't cost me a cent. Now it seems to me it's a rather shocking occurrence in the United States that the only way you could get that money back without having to pay a tremendous amount would be to to have to resort to such Shenanigans. Some people would call it. Now the observation that our law is unresponsive is not a new one. We've had a sprinkling of law review articles least since the turn of the century that have made this observation in 1906 Rosco pound of the Harvard Law School elaborated the dangers of ignoring these little injustices and every single major revolution of the century, Russia China Cuba, Salon Tanzania and up until now Chile has been accompanied by a clamor for and a creation of people's courts courts that are responsive to the needs that people speak that we were speaking about in the United States. There have been two major solutions that are suggested for handling problems of access particularly with regard to little injustices. The first solution was small claims court and the second solution was Prepaid Legal Services. No, although the idea of a Judah care or Prepaid Legal Services is several years old has been very slow to move. Some of the bar are less than enthusiastic the bar reports that I reviewed of 1971 and 72 are certainly unimaginative not only out of date. They refer to Medicare and like medical insurance is pioneering without any adequate analysis of the problems that Medicare and and the medical insurance of had but worse than all of this the reports are completely out of touch with the people. They know nothing about their potential customers. They're now beginning a survey by the way to find out what people do with their legal problems that they don't take two lawyers because they're trying to drum up business for the future and they they it was a beautiful quote in this a be a report that says we have to train Americans to use lawyers for handling of legal problems, and they say that this as if the absence of the Habit was somehow do this Century now there is more of a history for small claims court and we can just summarize this. Briefly a small claims court in this country were inspired mainly by Norwegian courts of conciliation, which were first established in Norway something like 1797 and they were established by the monarch of that country who wanted to find a form of Common Sense unfettered by legal fictions and technicalities and he also said in a statement that he wanted to find a place where a citizen tree could get Justice without having to be trapped by the by the shenanigans of lawyers. The first successful small cake claims court in this country was set up in Cleveland 1913 1915. We had one in Chicago then it came to Minneapolis. This was an early place for small claims court then to New York City, Philadelphia and on is spread around the country. It has not spread and every major city in the country, but it's pretty widespread. Until about nineteen forty the reformers behind the small claims court movement made substantial progress and promoting the idea of small claims a place where you could go without a lawyer to have your case heard if it were under certain amount of money after about 1940 the small claims court movement slowed down you had very few new quartz occurring developing in the 50s and in 1959, you had a study which showed that collection agencies were the predominant users of the court so that a court that was that was started with the idea of people in mind ended up serving business critics came out in the 1960s and we began to get statistics in Dane County, Wisconsin, 93% of small claims plaintiffs were business. Alameda County California 60% of all actions were by business and government bodies. It was clear that the people were unaware of the courts 1969. I believe there was a quote for Washington that had something Washington DC 98% of the plaintiffs in small claims court were business people and then you began to get these criticisms began to develop until this little Injustice. He's booked actually it's not it's not a published book. It came out and pre-publication form came out with the first survey the first national survey was done by a political scientists economists Housewives and so on which suggested that the the first attempt to solve the small problem the small truck small troubles problem for people had in fact been a failure. We even found in my looking through all these articles on small claims court. I found that in one County in Texas, the principal user of small claims court like 99.9% of the cases with the Bell Telephone Company. Now again, let's underline. The the quality of life is affected by how the most frequent grievances are handled how these little injustices are handled effects and shapes attitudes towards the law. The ghettos we might say are indeed law less that is they are without access to law and without access to law by which their rights can be secured and you might say that the middle class is without law and in some ways if you say it's without law its without order. I want to to get into the question of Of performance test for the law just to just to mention and then and then find a report to you a little bit on what happens when people don't have access to the law. I think that again in terms of young people looking for new professions, you ought to realize that we have never developed a performance test for law. We just have no way of evaluating whether it's doing whether they're doing a good job. In fact, you could say this for almost any bureaucracy in the United States which includes University bureaucracies. We have no way of evaluating the performance at least we have not exercised and we have some ways we have an exercise the ways we know of evaluating performance of people that are in the service business. In fact, you forget that they're in the service business. So you take administration's of universities for example, administration's are supposed to serve the teaching-learning process, but you'd never know that if you are a faculty or a student in most of ministration, excuse me for saying that this this McAllister must be an exception. Because I have a feeling more and more as I work in teach at the University of California that I'm working for them. And that makes me very uncomfortable. So the whole area of service, I think it's something that we need to look a little lovin of of evaluation as a sum is an area that young people ought to be getting into more and more. All right what happens if people don't have access? Now we documented that for the most part. They don't have access. We got a strong hunch. Anyway, that that soil first thing that they could do is they could lump it. And Americans are very good at lumping it. You swallow you endure it you pay for it. One of the things that that happens is that with with this this enjoyment is that you don't get very activated about the about losing your rights. That's very dangerous in a democracy. All right, the second thing that has happened is that some people don't lump and they complain and there has been a response to complaining. One of the responses has been by business. And you've had business take an interest in self enforcement. And so some years ago. You had the Better Business bureaus develop and you had better business bureaus taking all kinds of complaints and the numbers of complaints that they receive are absolutely phenomenal. There are something like a hundred thirty-nine Better Business bureaus in the United States in 1970. They receive more than 8 million telephone and mail complaints. The evaluation that was done of the Better Business bureaus which was published in the Congressional Record in December 1971. Had the following to say about their success. The quality of Better Business Bureau reports is very low the assistance they give to complaintants is week. They they are very unsuccessful at their handling of complaints. They do not alert the FTC to abusive practices. They have been in opposition to Consumer legislation. There is an absence of consumer representation within the BBB. They do not educate consumers their potential is exciting. As a result partly of this and other criticisms made of the Better Business Bureau the Council of Better Business bureaus got together and they really are trying now to to reactivate and get this organization moving so that they are something more than than a cover-up. Now we had an anthropology student at Berkeley do a study of the Better Business Bureau and it's not a graffiti of the bureau first one probably ever done and she found that that for the most part they were busy trying to get people to believe that all of the business businesses that are fraudulent are somehow fly-by-night. If you're a fraudulent business is to your a passerby they have not really concentrated on the businesses that are stable and they're all for a long amount of time that that people have to deal with all the time. But anyway, that is an attempt we Did such organizations Telephone Company in Berkeley and I didn't know what I was talking about. When I asked him to if they we could have somebody go down and describe their complaint system. They had absolutely no records of complaints made about Telephone Company what a time it historian would have 19 if you were near 2,000 you wanted to know if there are any complaints against Telephone Company. You went through Telephone Company records, of course, you found nobody complained. They kept a few the complaints that came through the regulatory agency. They did keep record up. Now this whole attempt by business is burgeoning right now. And in fact, it could be an important an important Problem Solver you have corporate ombudsman. In a variety of places, you've got the appliance industry with Mac app in Chicago that's trying to handle consumer complaints. You've got the movers in New York, which are we think a pretty good model of business trying to regulate itself. We had the first meeting. I believe of corporate Executives on the complaint handling problem in Anaheim, California last May to which we sent one of our one of our students but time will tell whether they are going to do something or whether they're simply going to turn the PR department into a complaint handling Department. Now they really have a chance to do something and I would like to think that that they're that they're going to we're focusing on trying to find in this study of ours the best examples of business complaint management. We got a lot of examples of bad ones, but we're looking for good ones. And if any of you know of any appreciate knowing about it, we have government agencies that are in this business offices of Consumer Affairs all around the country 23 or 25 States now have consumer protection offices. We're doing a study of what they're doing for the most part our preliminary findings suggest that the main thing these offices do is to siphon the complaints to what they think of the right places. So if you write The Virginian are her and it deals with an FTC problems, you'll send your letter over the FTC if a deals with auto she might send it to Nader's Auto Center and that seems to be a major role now whether that's something Want to we want to encourage or whether it will have an important function is something we're going to have to wait on there's some private initiative in all of this private Enterprise in Cleveland. For example, we've got a group of of students students consumer Advocate Group their law and political science students. They're working for the most part at Case Western Reserve and Cleveland and they've developed a guide for processing consumer audio complaints and they are trying to develop a nationwide network of in quotes aggressive student initiated and student-run consumer Advocate projects lending weight in order to to abandon and quote The Reckless course of white quite collar criminality that student organization is really something to watch and I believe it's being studied now, but they've done an amazing job at getting Auto complaints process. Now we have other things that have happened here one of which in the kind of private Enterprise area. One of which is is the role of the media. Now you have here some action line people in Minneapolis. I guess they are the first Action Line that we've been able to locate it started in Texas something like 1961 the Houston Chronicle with a column called watch him. They process numbers of complaints. We did a survey of all the action line columnist. These are newspapers that we could find and we ask them all kinds of question. One of the questions we ask them is what are the priorities whereby they deal with people who come to them with troubles. And for the most part the answer is read as fouled the poor the old and the sick. First priority problems that are seemed that seem prevalent in the population whether the Press can help problems relating to rights and 50/50 on reader interest priorities. Compare that to if you were to ask a lawyer in this country if you get more cases and you can handle and what priority do you take those cases? You think he would answer you the poor of the old and the sick first priority? We found that their functions are variable. They see themselves as Watchdogs. They in fact are the modern counterpart of the Philippine. If allow go-between, they are the public opinion that used to be present in the villages in the small face-to-face populations. They make businesses aware of their customers problems. They are aware of business ethics. They make citizens aware of their rights and they communicate between citizens and large-scale institutions that those citizens don't understand they make citizens aware of the routes by which their disputes can be settled in some has one action liner put action lines solve problems cut red tapes get answers investigate complaints and stand up for your rights. Now if you tell them do you they all deny of course they do anything in the way of legality because they've got an awful lot of trouble if they did and the other hand some attorneys who don't want to handle these less than $200 problems. Send them to these Action Line people to to saddle their style according to themselves is not too different from that which I observed among the zapotec to make the balance. They would sum it up as a font and the following get the action confirm it then write it we don't settle for promises or maybe there are no sides to what we do. Everyone must agree a hundred percent on what needs to be done and then pull together and do it. Everyone wants to see that everyone gets treated fairly. It's dangerous to act like a judge. So here you are you've got these Action Line people that are in the middle in a sense between the complainant and the large-scale institutions which are the majority of complaints and they're trying to play the go-between role because one buys his newspapers and the other one advertisers in it. And so he is very interested in trying to get the two of them together in some kind of a settlement and there are tremendous variation summer terrific one very successful action liner. We found in Atlanta Georgia, I believe it was was taken over by. Oh it was so successful and then there's some that are clearly there to sell newspapers. But whether they're there for straight or or other purposes clearly, they're serving the function because we're the first one started and 61. We've got something like 350 today and they're very often put on the front pages of newspapers, which suggested indeed they do sell and we might think about why it is that they sell No, there's some people that responded that they don't believe the newspaper should be in the Action Line business the media in general and they said this because they think that action lines delude people into thinking the system does work one person said, I think there are a disservice. This is not proper work for reporters who should take a problem analyze its causes explore its Solutions and report back to readers on the larger issues involved. Now what we really what we found was indeed happening was that these action liners wrote it up in the columns, but when they got something very hot, they often turned it over to the editorial section of the of the newspaper. Now we've doing the media and we've we've been describing also department store complaint mechanisms. We've got some very interesting reports on department stores. We were surprised to find out that nobody had ever studied how department store settle settle our problems. We thought that they might have some solutions that other people hadn't thought of simply because when you got a woman is really mad coming in about a product you got to have an answer for her right then and there and in fact for the most part, they're pretty successful at handling product return and product Effectiveness kinds of complaints what they're not very good about handling is people that complain about about high prices and things that are that they can't handle in the same ways to handle product return we found interestingly enough that the most successful complaint managers and department stores were those in department stores that sold very expensive. And those that were at least successful were on our survey those that that dealt with department stores that sold cheaper Goods. Now. The reason for that is unclear except one very expensive store in San Francisco explain to us. When we asked how come they had such a successful thing going and the lady looked at us and said honey. There ain't nothing in this story that you couldn't live without. Alright now let's just pull this a little bit together and conclusion and talk about what are the consequences of not detecting and not re dressing the problems of everyday life in this country. It's easy at this point to get into the area of solutions, but I'm not going to I'm going to talk about the the question of consequences of a mass denial of Justice. Now when I first got into this as I say I started with with Consumer complaint letters and I was very much interested in the mental health consequences. The hardest thing to measure but it's clear that they're there you may not be able to see it. But it's it's a clearly there the overall question we started with is there a relationship between an individual's ability to influence the institution affecting his life and is degree of Mental Health. This question was repeated over and over in my mind as I read the letters. The grievance has written about in those letters are everyday problems the attempt to redress them as a great deal to do we thought with whether people feel powerless or powerful whether they feel active agents controlling their own Destinies or whether they're oppressed exploited victims. The Harvard small claims court study pointed out the outcome that people seek for their problems often lies in the realm of the psychological a chance to tell their stories to express their indignation to gain attention from a third party to act in a role as defender of principle or to gain some other form of emotional or intellectual gratification. all right, when we looked at the letters, we asked specific questions how and what available alternatives to the legal system are Americans aware of What do Americans complain about what are they? What are they conscious of losing time with regard to what are the consequences of consumer frustration? Anger fear bitterness helplessness outrage is the image of the American a silent impatient disorderly represented in the letters. What evidence is there that the little guy tries to manipulate the system to get desired results. And what evidence is there of the individuals knowledge of potential for solving the problems he addresses as I say the problems of measuring mental health effects are immense, but somehow sort of like pornography hard to Define, but you can tell it when you see it. Most of the letters are sane quiet strong angry and sometimes sarcastic. They manifest a deep frustration. Most people had tried a number of Alternatives their problems range, but you do get a redundancy in problems dealing with warranty shoddy products paying for medical care that they don't get complaining about dehumanization of Institutions, like hospitals complaining about packaging appliances and you get the linguistic cues. I have been deeply hurt written to a total stranger in quotes. This didn't hurt me. But what if my child had eaten the wood splinters in the oatmeal nothing happened this time, but the whole family could have been burned when the TV shorted my husband a veteran is sick and these frustrations caused him grief. He can ill afford and doesn't deserve and we get expressions of futility to whom it may concern if anyone I hope this gets to you because no one else seems to care about my problems. Now the number of CCS we took that is carbon copy sent to other people as an indication of power the power Dimension and with the on come of Xerox as I've said, you got a lot of people sending cc's to all kinds of people and they're aware that they're trying to push the system. Let's just take a look at The Economic Consequences. You have an enormous waste of resources. If anything that characterizes our civilization. It's probably waste an economy should allocate resources according to volitional expenditures of consumers when people are cheated We spend 2 billion dollars a year on car bumper repairs when people are cheated than people's volitional spending is restricted. So solving economic grievances would carry the message. It doesn't pay to be careless or Criminal. Price fixing is a crime and price-fixing another anti-competitive practices cost the economy. I'm told something like 45 billion a year frauds and consumer crimes distort the use of a consumers income the richest country in the world and yet we have a chain reaction of cheapening the dollar lowering the standard of living and flowing from this demands for higher wages more government more services Etc. If peoples grievance if economic grievances were heard and read rest, then presumably peoples incomes would be better protected. Let's remember that the current or commission found in 1967 that found that consumer problems were among the most intense grievances underlying the Riots of that year. And further consequence has to do with institutionalizing economic crime if consumers are not heard. If we don't use the law as a detector to either prevent or redress this may result in institutionalizing economic crime, for example, the US Department of Agriculture now permits adding of water to meat and poultry up to 12 to 15% Bad Business drives out good business. It's a long neglects detection redress and prevention then they're encouraging the dishonest or orange juice producer and Philadelphia are encouraging him to put 10% water in there orange juice to make more money those who don't wish to do this are competitive disadvantage when rampant fraud is permitted. Let me just end with one Final Consequence that we've been looking at and this has to do with political consequences the social costs of not having a system of dispute settlement that works for everyday problems are massive in the political Arena because these so-called little injustices are ignored by the courts and because they are so personally important to people They're terribly important to people. Paying attention to them has become the prime currency of politics in this country at the federal level has been documented and gellhorn's book when Americans complain and by the recent Nader Congress study that the settling of disputes eats away the time of us congressman and their staffs approximately one-third of their time. Congress has harassed with people's personal problems. Usually in Block areas Social Security Veterans Administration draft bureaucracies that generally there are generally heavily complained about now why why don't they just change these institutions that are constantly year after year being complained about They don't change it because handling these problems personally pays off, even if at a they only have a 10 percent success rate people appreciate a letter from a congressman saying I've looked into this and can't do anything about it. They'll vote for him at least because he wrote him a letter saying he looked into it. He listened to him. That's how bad off in a sense we are so that our congressmen get people to vote for them on the basis of favors and attention rather than on the basis of their record in the legend legislative reform which would get it the structural aspects of the claims were disputes. This is maybe a good politics but it's bad government. This is a very expensive use of us Congressional time in 1972. Then it still pays off in a country of over 200 million people to handle complaints one by one. There are some congressmen one that we found is a result of the Congress the nadir Congress study who goes home every night from Washington DC to his district and he sits from 9 to 12 and listens to people's complaints and they vote for him because he listened to their problems and not because of any record that he has in Congress. Most of them don't know what his record in Congress is So is the pressure for the resolution of personal problems will absolutely not be denied. And will therefore people will therefore find their way into the legislative political Machinery if we look at local governmental Machinery such as the daily machine in Chicago, we find that the formation of such machines is built on the very stuff of dispute settlement and grievance handling. The social costs are high the absence of conflict resolving disputes settlement mechanisms eats away into the political structure and into your pocketbook. The psychological costs. We can only guess that the response of the citizen tree today is a renewed interest in small-claims courts and Ombudsman and people's law schools and action lines in Municipal grievance office has all of this interest could result in a major drift in the law that has been observed in Norway over the past hundred years from the use of quartz as a zero zero sum game forum to problem-solving devices whose success is measured by performance. Or these efforts could all Peter out as did the earlier small claims courts reforms and then the cost will continue to be great. What is crucial for researchers is to democratize and broaden the Empirical research domain regarding law questions. And we have to do this in order to raise a popular curiosity about a segment of 20th century life that is increasingly affecting the choice patterns of people and cultures all around the world. Thank you.


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