Does the Rule of Law Still Matter?

One of the not so secret reasons the United States has thrived is its adherence to the rule of law.  In layman’s terms, we are all subject to the same laws and same interpretation of those laws in our judicial system.  Regardless of your political power (or who is in power), we are all treated the same by the law.

Recently, many statements and actions by politicians and business leaders are putting the rule of law at risk.  Consider the following:

  1. Several state legislatures are proposing bills that essentially re-write insurance contracts.  Many businesses carry business interruption insurance.  Business interruption insurance pays cash when a business is unable to operate.  Most policies are specifically written to define the interruption must include physical damage.  In other words, I get paid business interruption insurance if something happens to my building and I cannot operate my business in addition to my property being replaced.  Politicians want policies to pay for business interruption due to coronavirus.  Most business interruption insurance policies specifically exclude coverage of viruses or other illnesses.
  2. Seemingly every politician has encouraged landlords to “work with tenants” on rent payments.  Leases are contractual obligations.  I understand the politicians want to be helpful to people impacted by coronavirus and it sounds like they are looking out for the little guy.  That’s all fine and dandy but our economic system relies on trust.  If I don’t trust that I am going to be paid, I won’t do business with you.  That fear will create lasting repercussions we cannot even imagine.
  3. Perhaps the most egregious danger I have seen was the CEO of an oil company in Texas asking his competitors to “reduce production to better balance supply and demand and improve pricing” ON NATIONAL TELEVISION.  A month ago, that would have been considered collusion and he would have been arrested. 

I know we are living in an unprecedented time.  I also know adhering to the rule of law got us through every other unprecedented time our forefathers faced.  I fear the long term consequences of short term thinking.  The rule of law must be protected. 

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