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CONSUMERS PAY 50% MORE FOR FOOD TODAY THAN IN 1972 BUT FAMILY FARMERS SEE A LOSS UNEQUALED SINCE 1933 Inflation keeps up . . . Farm prices keep going down. THE COS PRICE WE’D LIKE TO CHANGE THAT TO KEEP EVERYBODY EATING Texas cf-s Farmers L AMA Union M. IF YOU ARE an occasional reader and would like to receive the Texas Observer regularlyor if you are a subscriber and would like to have a free sample copy or a one year gift subscription sent to a friendhere’s the order form: SEND THE OBSERVER TO name street city state zip this subscription is for myself gift subscription; send card in my name sample copy only; you may use my name $12 enclosed for a one year sub bill me for $12 MY NAME & ADDRESS \(if not shown THE TEXAS OBSERVER 600 W. 7th, Austin, Texas 78701 majority of lawyers and Texans who are not lawyers would be better served by new Bar leadership. Paul Taparauskas, 1311 Story Ave., Murray, Ky. Policymakers The Observer’s special issue on lawyers was generally excellent and enjoyable. It is vital that laymen understand the impact of lawyers and their profession on public affairs, and your Feb. 25 effort should prove useful to any student of American politics. I would like to expand on a point made by two of your contributors, that the power lawyers exercise in this country is 016 best reflected in the disproportionate numbers of them serving in local, state and federal legislative bodies. The lawyer-legislator is an honored figure in our political history, and it would be both foolish and difficult to underestimate his role in the order of things. But it isn’t enough to note that a lot of lawyers, probably an undesirably high number of them, are officeholders. Too little attention has been paid to the politically connected lawyer of a more recent vintage, the lawyer who serves as public and private advisor to government. City councils and school boards everywhere routinely turn to a lawyer for answers to ticklish problems of policy or administrative detail. In Texas, the attorney general’s opinion has assumed almost legislative force as more and more state laws are challenged by people in and out of government. Reliance on legal opinions by officeholders and poli 24 The Texas Observer cymakers is a time-honored means of avoiding tough issues and shifting responsibility. Lawyers recognize full well the role they play in relieving public and private clients of judgmental burdens. Increasingly, legal advisors are becoming policymakers. We confront a variety of opinions in the course of our daily lives whether it will be sunny tomorrow, whether Dolph Briscoe will run for re-election, whether Pearl is a better beer than Lone Star. While we recognize opinions rendered in such questions as the views of individuals, we rarely regard lawyers’ opinions similarly. Typically, the opinion issued by a lawyer-advisor on behalf of a public body becomes de facto law. The opinion isn’t engraved in stone anywhere, but it might as well be because the officials who sought it come to rely on it in executing policy. I wish to argue that lawyers exercise an influence on public policy all out of proportion to their numbers in society, and that such an imbalance is unhealthy. If I am correct, the only antidote is a heightened public awareness of the roles lawyers play in shaping governmental policy. Recognition of the pervasive influence of lawyers is one thing, but the elimination of the myths attending their pronouncements is something else again. Lawyers are skeptical about the value of one another’s opinions as a matter of course. This skepticism should be shared by everyone so that when a lawyerad visor writes an opinion for a public official, both the public and the official understand that the opinion represents only a view of reality, and not reality itself. The lawyer’s trap for the unwary is the substitution of words for ideas; although words are supposed to serve ideas, the converse holds true in the lawyer’s dialogue with the public, and words become the master rather than the servant of thought. David Richards, 600 West 7th, Austin. Declines election The best efforts of Wood County voters that I not be a legislator in 1936 has been libelled by your characterization of me as an ex-legislator in the Feb. 25 issue. Their good judgment in refusing my offer to reform Texas government was a blessing to me as well, so we both beg a correction. Otto B. Mullinax, 11806 Cheswick, Dallas. Postmaster: If undeliverable, send Form 3579 to The Texas Observer, 600 W. 7th, Austin, Tex. 78701