8 / CHRONICLESnpopulation explosion of academics innthe 50’s and 60’s operated along thenlines of Gresham’s law: bad mindsndrove out good. The real problem withnuniversities is the degree to whichndisgruntled semi-literates take out theirnfrustrations on their students. In thisn”revenge of the nerds,” anti-Americanndiatribes play a prominent part. Wencan remember any number of studentsncoming up shyly after lecture and confessingnthey were fed up with leftistnprofessors who liked talking dirty innfront of kids. Worse, the students saidnthey told the professors what theynwanted to hear. They had to, if theynwanted to get better than a C in thencourse.nFrankly, we are not worried aboutnAIA. Neither is the American StudentnAssociation, which “strongly supportsnthe concept of academic rights fornstudents” and regards AIA as a step innthe direction toward truth in advertising.nThis good old consumerist approachnto higher education is nothingnnew. Medieval university studentsnpaid their fees directly to the professorsnand were concerned to get their money’snworth. When they didn’t or whennthey felt the faculty was acting contrarynto the students’ interest, theynrioted. Petrarch became involved in anfamous student riot in Bologna.nIf a vigorous and obnoxious studentnbody can result in another Petrarch orna St. Thomas, then no one shouldnhave anything to fear from a responsiblenand orderly outfit like AIA; not thentaxpayers, not parents, and not thenmany good and honest intellectualsn—liberal and conservahve—left onnthe campuses. As for the scruffy littlencharacters that got stuck in a timewarpnback in 1969, they’ve alwaysnbeen afraid of everything, includingnfreedom. Even if they had “academicnfreedom,” few of them would knownwhat to do with it.nThe litigation explosion is sendingnShockwaves through American life. Inn1984, one out of every 15 Americansnfiled a lawsuit, and the trendline isnupward. Going to law may soon replacenbaseball as the national pastime.nBecause of the skyrockehng numbernand size of liability claims, insurancencompanies have lost billions in recentnyears—$1.5 billion in 1984 alone. Innan effort to cut their losses, insurancencompanies have been frantically raisingntheir rates or reducing their liabilityncoverage. A study last year showednthat American manufacturing companiesnalready pay 20 to 100 times morenfor liability coverage than their Europeannand Japanese competitors, a disparityncited by some business leaders asnone reason for the trade deficit. Somenbusinesses—from roller-skating rinksnto vaccine manufacturers—have beennforced to close their doors because ofnliability claims and costly insurance.nAfter watching the rates for malpracticeninsurance climb off the chart,nsome doctors have opted for early retirement;nothers are avoiding riskynprocedures — like delivering babiesn—while the rest pass on the increasesnto their patients. Taxpayers in manynstates and cities face much higher taxesnbecause of the escalated insurancenrates and because of liability awardsnagainst the local bus system, highnschool football program, or streetnsweepers.nThe only group benefiting from allnthis litigation is the lawyers themselves.nEven successful plaintiffs receivenonly 37 cents out of every dollarnawarded in the average liability case,naccording to a recent Rand study; lawyersntake the rest. No wonder publicnesteem for attorneys is at an all-timenlow, and “Kill all the lawyers!” isnreplacing “To be or not to be” as thenmost quoted line from Shakespeare.nIn many statehouses, lawmakers arenlooking for a vaccine against this epidemicnof litigation. In California, newnlaws cap contingency fees for lawyersnand set limits on the “pain and suffering”nawards that courts may award.nSome state legislators are also rethinkingnthe “joint and several” or “deepnpocket” liability laws that make richncorporations and individuals suchntempting legal targets. Last year fivenstates (Illinois, Florida, Georgia, Kansas,nand Utah) also passed laws designednto protect doctors from frivolousnmalprachce suits.nThe legislative efforts to reign in thencourts and lawyers are understandable,neven laudable. It remains to be seennhow well they will actually work. ThenCalifornia Supreme Court recentlynupheld the new cap on lawyers’ contingencynfees—to the outrage of trialnlawyers. But in Illinois, a circuit judgennnhas already struck down the state’s newnmalprachce law as an unconstitutionalnabridgment of plaintiffs’ rights. Similarnchallenges may be expected elsewhere.nEven with the help of sympatheticnjudges, the new legislation may accomplishnless than its authors hope.nFew state legislators and even fewernFederal judges are willing to view thenupsurge in litigation as symptomatic ofndeeper cultural discontents. A shot ofnlegislative cortisone may suppress thensymptoms for a time, but it will notncure the disease.nAmong the root causes of the litigationnexplosion, few are more importantnthan the erosion of those loyaltiesnthat once made it possible to resolvendisputes within the family, neighborhood,nor community, without runningnto a lawyer or a judge. It was not justnthe bar association’s idea to increasenthe number of divorce lawyers innAmerica from 700 in 1975 to J J,000nin 1985. Not long ago. The New Republicnfound it ironic that “insurancenand litigation—social institutions intendednto produce economic stabilitynand social justice are producing instabilitynand chaos instead.” TNR notednthat “the ironies are particularly apparent”nin the day-care business, wherenthe increased cost of liability insurancenis hampering the growth of “a crucialnindustry … at a time of unprecedentedndemand.” But it is hardly annirony that the dissoluhon of familynintegrity — nowhere more apparentnthan at a day-care center—has led tonlawsuits. Litigation was rare in thendays when mothers cared for their ownnchildren and when the only insurancenpeople needed was the knowledge thatnif a husband died or a home burned,nrelatives, neighbors, and communitynwould all be there to help. The sunderingnof the ties of family and communitynhas left loose ends, some ofnthem temporarily secured in the weaknknots of business relationships, the restnhopelessly snarled. Lawyers multiplynrapidly in the confusion.nAccompanying the decline in familynand community loyalties has been anperilous slide in voluntary ethicalncommitment at every social level. It isnbad enough that many judges andnlawyers now seem to have no consciencennot spelled out in the statutenbooks (two years ago, a Federal appealsncourt ruled that the Constitution re-n