Manhattan Contrarian Updates

Time to check in on what has happened in some of the big news stories since my recent posts on these subjects. 

The Contest For The Eliot Spitzer "Worst Prosecutorial Shakedown" Award 

In a post on June 25, I nominated two candidates for the 2013 Eliot Spitzer "Worst Prosecutorial Shakedown" prize:  One was Eric Schneiderman, current New York AG, who had just been characterized by Charles Gasparino in the New York Post as heading "possibly the most politicized law enforcement outfit in the country," for his continuation of the Maurice Greenberg case long after any utility had gone out of it.  The other was Benjamin Lawsky of the New York Department of Financial Services, who had just hit up Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ for a $250 million payment somehow related to alleged dealings involving Iran occurring some six and more years ago, a subject seemingly totally outside Mr. Lawsky's legitimate jurisdiction (although a great subject for the generation of headlines).  Well, Lawsky immediately set out to put some daylight between himself and Schneiderman in the race for the award.  He wants that coveted Spitzer Prize all for himself!

On June 30 the Wall Street Journal reported that an investigation by Lawsky's office of three foreign reinsurance companies has uncovered evidence that one of them, based in Europe, allegedly insured a shipment of alumina from Iran to Germany on a date not specified.  Now there's a core function for the New York insurance regulator to be getting into!  Based on uncovering that transaction, Lawsky, according to the Journal, has now sent letters to some twenty domestic and foreign reinsurers demanding to know everything about their insurance relationships involving Iran.   The basis for the inquiry is stated to be a Federal (not New York) law tightening the regulation of dealings with Iran, and taking effect on July 1, 2013.  Lawsky's letters went out on June 25, even though the (Federal) law whose violation is being investigated only took effect on July 1.  No way is Lawsky going to let those pesky Federal prosecutors get ahead of him and steal his headlines on this one!

All I can say to Schneiderman is, you'd better get moving if you don't want to see the Spitzer Prize slip away from you this year.

 The Obamacare IQ Test For The Under 30 Crowd

In posts on May 6 and May 14, I set forth what seem to me to be the obvious reasons why young healthy people with few assets should not let themselves get tricked in the Obamacare scam of getting them to pay for health care of others.  On July 2 the editors of Investors Business Daily picked up on my theme with an editorial titled "ObamaCare's Success Depends On The Young Being Stupid."  IBD succinctly describes the nub of the problem:

The problem is that ObamaCare depends on getting the young and healthy to sign up so it can subsidize premiums for the sick. Otherwise, the insurance pool will get sicker and more expensive, causing a premium "death spiral."

And then the key question: 

How long will it take for the young to figure this out, and tell all their Twitter pals how to game the Obama-Care system?

The answer is, not long at all.  It's remarkable how few people are yet on to this issue.  It's like there's just some willful blindness, a desperate need to believe that the world can be perfected by thousands of pages of law and regulations telling people what to do. 

Some Push Back Against The New York Pro Bono Reporting Requirements 

In a post on May 3 I reported on the new pro bono reporting requirements that had just been adopted by the state court system, and I criticized those rules as a beginning step toward mandatory pro bono.  I also quoted the sniveling support immediately expressed for the new rule by the President of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Carey Dunne of Davis Polk, before even having had the opportunity to consult with his membership.  He had little to worry about -- you can always be sure that the City Bar membership is in favor of any coercion, so long as the big firm partners can comply by either counting what they are already doing or assigning the work to associates.    

Well, in a move that has surprised me, the State Bar has now come out against the requirement, and also has criticized Lippman for promulgating the rule without any consultation with the State Bar.  For those unfamiliar with the ins and outs of our local bar associations, the City Bar is the home of the Manhattan elite of the legal community, while the State Bar includes the suburbs, upstate, Long Island, and lots of small firms and solo practitioners.  On June 26 the New York Law Journal reported that substantial opposition had been expressed at the meeting then occurring of the State Bar House of Delegates.  That was promptly followed by a letter expressing opposition to the requirement.  There may yet be some hope!

Meanwhile back at the City Bar, their Pro Bono and Legal Services Committee took some time to consider the actual text of the new rule, and discovered to their horror that it may not be so easy for big firm partners to meet the new 50 hours per year standard of pro bono service by just continuing to do what they are already doing.  Thus a letter from them to Lippman on May 24 containing this gem:  

The Committee enthusiastically supports the adoption of the pro bono reporting requirement and views it as having tremendous potential for increasing the amount of pro bono legal services provided to deserving and underserved individuals and nonprofit organizations.  However, we are troubled that the laudable goal of encouraging an increase in pro bono work through the reporting requirement has been jeopardized by fashioning the Rule in such a way that only pro bono service defined as "unpaid pro bono legal services to the underserved and to the poor" is included, importantly excluding legal services provided to nonprofit organizations that offer non-legal assistance to poor people or communities.

Translation:  You mean that my service on the board of the soup kitchen isn't going to count?????  Well, you people made the dirty decision to go along with this guy, and now you may have to live with the consequences.

Here at the Manhattan Contrarian we realize that the best service we can do for the poor is to advocate for the shrinkage of the government and the lessening of handouts and giveaways that trap people in poverty.  That's this blog!  Plenty more than 50 hours per year going into that.