Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What Does The Law Mean To You?

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The Fairness of Limited Liability

Limited liability is one of the most successful commercial creations of all time, almost singularly responsible for the growth and expansion of capitalism. Encouraging risk and promoting successful enterprise through both small and large businesses alike, limited liability has been the driving force behind economic success in the Western world and is one of the most celebrated legal creations of all time. But what is it about limited liability that makes it so successful? Indeed, is the structure of limited liability fair as regards creditors, who ultimately bear the brunt of this mechanism?

Limited liability in general means a sacrifice of privacy in return for the benefit of limited personal liability. In layman's terms, this means that the company promoter is not personally liable for any of the company's debts, thus encouraging risk and promoting enterprise. For most small businesses, it is a lifeline, and without it the economy would level out and stifle with fewer new start-ups each year. At the back end, however, these businesses leave behind a trail of debts that ultimately result in financial loss for lenders and those that operate on credit terms. This raises the general question of whether limited liability as a creation is fair for the creditors it so apparently prejudices?

Limited liability has given life to companies across the world, by providing the reassurances necessary to entrepreneurs to take the risk, safe in the knowledge that personally speaking they should come out unscathed. From this, more companies have grown and flourished, which has led to more jobs and better state welfare for virtually all capitalist economies. The strength of this function has gone a long way towards building the great superpowers, and is seriously underestimated as a legal construct.

Limited liability leaves a gap in the pockets of those companies that lend money or offer their customers credit terms during the course of their business. As a consequence of the promoter's ability to walk away with his hands clean, many businesses find the squeeze of bad debts too severe, and end up having to take on credit of their own to meet the shortcomings. In theory, limited liability leaves creditors in a weak situation, with relatively limited powers to regain the full amount of any monies due.

In reality, limited liability doesn't operate in that way. Of course, many businesses go under every year as their owners walk free of encumbrance, but generally speaking the economic world does not work between insolvent companies. However, the flexibility allowed by limited liability has meant debt in a sense has become effective currency, and has helped businesses to survive during tough times, and to seek the financial help necessary without the appropriate risk.

Limited liability might be seen as slightly unfair at the razor's edge, but it works all round to ensure that everyone has access to credit and the benefits of limitation of damages when it is necessary. Ultimately, it promotes a more competitive, lower-risk environment within which business can flourish and economies can grow and multiply, providing jobs and economic strength to nations embracing its basic form. As legal fictions go, the limited company has undoubtedly prove itself to be one of the most popular ever created, and its growth looks set to continue as it is developed and refined across the world.

The INS, Role, and Responsibilities

In the days following the 9/11 attacks there have been many changes in the organization and how the government handles the flow of people coming into the country. The INS was first started as the organization that was responsible for handing the people who were applying for citizenship and residency. INS stands for Immigration and Naturalization Service, the organization charged with respecting the safety of the USA.

The INS is now responsible for many tasks that it never had before, including inspecting travelers who are entering and exiting the United States gates through more than 300 points of entry nationwide. Whether you are coming or going from the United States, you are likely to be passing through an INS worker who is responsible for helping make sure anyone who is wanted by the law is not able to gain entry to the country. Although largely a precaution, it is thought that this will be most helpful in preventing possible threats to national security.

Other tasks of the INS include handling the residence status of all who apply for residence and citizenship. They also handle and seek to regulate the status of all permanent and temporary immigration requests. The INS. also handles tourists, and students, as well as those coming for conventions, special classes, visiting family and all other business.

The INS has also been given the tasks of controlling all of the borders into the United States, especially the borders between Mexico and the United States and Canada and the United States. This is an extremely large task since the United States shares such large land borders with two other countries. This allows for an almost daily flow of people trying to enter the country illegally.

INS workers are also responsible for handling and removing all people who have no legal rights to be in this country. They are responsible for removing the parties in accordance with the laws, and by following all of the standards that are set in place for obtaining temporary status, or returning the person to the country where they came from.

In a report the INS released in 2001, there was 31,971 employees on staff. This resulted in a rate of 24,233 of these employees being classified as enforcement personal were used to enforce the laws, rulings and policies of this country. The INS today is a function of the Justice Department and serves mostly as an investigative unit, unlike many other departments, which serve as law enforcement units instead.

In recent years, the borders have had more illegal entry than previously, which has resulted in larger amounts of staff being added to help secure the borders and protect our country. Without being able to know who is entering our country, we are unable to truly protect our citizens and other people. Border patrol agents is the one largest area where the INS has seen growth in jobs available. Due to the increase of jobs in the border patrol, we are able to see much fewer illegal entries into the country.

As we progress into a country that is, more accommodating of people from various cultures it will be quite interesting to see how the INS is changed to adapt and become more friendly to the needs of all people, even those entering the country.

The Scope and Nature of the Criminal Law

In our private lives, the area of law we will experience the most, either directly or indirectly would have to be the criminal law. Not necessarily through contravening its principals, the individual citizen will more commonly encounter its breadth in the course of their everyday lives, considering as a factor the legal ramifications of any desired conduct or decision in the decision making process. For most of us, we tend to live our lives within these predetermined boundaries with no second thought or question as to the morality of the prohibited option nor the moral authority behind it. In this article, it is proposed to look at the nature and scope of the criminal law in our society, and to discuss whether as an entity it is too intrusive, or whether it is naturally a required aspect of regulating society.

It is often said academically that the citizen enjoys freedom to act as he wishes in his life, subject to the regulatory provisions of the criminal law and the criminal justice system. It is thought that as citizens of a particular country, largely at freedom to choose where we live in the world, we impliedly accept the authority of the relevant legal provisions which, for the most part, regulate on a moral level. Of course there are exceptions, i.e. criminal laws of a regulatory or secondary nature which do not directly bear any moral message, such as speeding limits or parking restrictions. So, then, to what extent does the criminal law reflect morality, and further from what source is this morality derived?

The criminal law is said to operate in mind of the public good, and the benefit of society. It could, therefore, be argued to be crossing the boundaries into serious restrictions on liberty when it regulates personal conduct like drug use which may not have any wider impact than on that of the person indulging accordingly. Why should the criminal law impose restrictions on what a person can do with his or her own body? Surely our own freewill is a good enough justification for acting outwith the scope of the law in these types of scenario?

Furthermore an interesting area of the criminal law is potential liability for omissions. In this sense, the citizen can actually be punished without acting at all in a specific way. This takes the criminal law beyond a regulatory framework for the public good into an actual coercive force to make people positively act in a certain way. For example, in some jurisdictions there is a legal duty to report a road traffic accident. This means a citizen who is aware of the occurrence of such will have committed a criminal offence where he does not act in the prescribed manner. Again, this is surely affording a broad scope to the criminal law, which may be seen by some as intruding on the fundamental freedoms and values upon which most modern nations were built.

It is interesting to consider the real impact of the criminal law, and the sheer breadth of conduct it regulates. From the objectively morally wrong to the less obvious cases of imposition of liability, the criminal law places severe restrictions on the general principal of absolute liberty, which is clearly the subject of much academic and philosophical debate.

The UK Constitution: Does it Exist?

The UK is one of the few developed countries in the world without a written constitution. Despite this, its economy is prospering as it strengthens its position as one of the richest nations in the world. On top of that, it is pivotally located within the European federal framework in spite of its comparatively small geographic land mass and population. This raises an obvious question as to the mechanisms of governance: if there isn't a constitution, how has the UK survived in this form, and how can it continue to prosper in a modern era without any distinct definitively specified legal order?

The United Kingdom is unlike most other nations in the world in that it has not suffered any major constitutional change since the Middle Ages. Since that time, it has been predominantly governed by a monarch in conjunction with his or her parliament. That said, it has proven to be of continuing success throughout the ages without the strict written form that many countries have adopted. From this has sprung an unprecedented flexibility, and the UK has effectively developed its own (non-binding) constitutional conventions to keep the country running smoothly. Additionally, the bi-cameral (or dual chamber) parliament plus the necessary monarchical ratification serves to provide a comprehensive set of checks and balances which would otherwise be provided through a written constitution.

The statement that the UK is lacking a constitution is misleading. Of course there is no written document, but the UK has a rich and diverse legal tapestry that works fluidly and has so for centuries. This fluidity has allowed for adaptation when necessary, and has allowed the UK to flourish and develop where others didn't have the chance. Behind the scenes is an equally strict and wrought-iron code of conduct, which can partially be derived from codes of practices, Acts of Parliament and other 'bits and pieces'. Although there may not be a constitution present in the sense of a single definitive document, the UK most certainly operates on the foundation of a constitution that keeps the country running smoothly on a daily basis.

A major aspect of the UK constitution is the thorough legislative process required for legal enactment. Any bill must firstly be proposed to the House of Commons, an elected body of representatives empowered with the power of legislative initiative. The first chamber proposes legislation and debates the provisions in depth, before agreeing on a final draft to pass to the second chamber, known as the House of Lords. The House of Lords are largely un-elected, with 'membership' passed down from generation to generation, or new members proposed by the House of Commons. They then have the right of veto, and an ability to refer back to the first chamber their proposed changes to any bills. This ensures no rushed legislation passes, and in theory should cover all eventualities. After passing both Houses, it is referred to the monarch, who has a personal responsibility to ensure any legislation is in accordance with the will of the people, and is morally justified. Although the monarch hasn't used her power of veto since the 17th century, it is still an important constitutional safeguard in the UK.

The UK constitution might not seem obvious initially, but there is most certainly an intricate web of governance and practice lying underneath its blank exterior. It has been described as the most successful constitution in the world, and this is bolstered by its perpetual success and lack of problems since its early evolution.

Washington D.C. in the House

After being told no for the last 200 years, the House of Representatives have okayed a bill that would allow a House of Representatives position to be created for the residents of the District of Columbia. This is a complete shock to some, who analyze the situation and state that technically the District of Columbia is not a state and has no right to a representative in the house.

Along with adding a member of the house for the D.C. area, Utah has been given a fourth seat. Now the bill is passed along to the Senate to have a final approval but with the District of Columbia not being a true state, many are expecting the bill to be squashed. Some may not have realized but 200 years ago it was determined that the District of Columbia would be banned from a seat in the House since it was not a state.

Utah was declined an additional seat in the house after falling shy of the required residents to acquire a fourth seat after the last census. However, since they are in the process of adding additional seats and Utah is so very close to the requirements it is expected that by the next election they should have the required number of residents to justify the additional seat.

This is a major milestone in the House of Representatives, which has sat at 435 seats since 1960; it has been over 45 years since additional seats were added to the house. Opponents of the new bill have all been quick to point out that while it's wonderful that the House is looking to grow, the Constitution clearly states that the members of the House are chosen by the people of the states, which since the District of Columbia is not a state, causes a major snafu in the plans of the Democratic majority House.

The House is slated to keep the 437 seats even after the 2010 census, which is when Utah is slated to be expanding to a 4th district. While this is the first time this measure has actually passed the House, it is not the first time it has been discussed, nor debated. Back in 1978, it was mentioned that the District of Columbia should be given a vote in the House of Representatives; however, the amendment was discarded after it was unable to be ratified by a quorum three-fourth majority of the states.

Once again, the measure was attempted in 1993; however, this attempt was focused around moving the District of Columbia into statehood and transforming the District into a full-fledged state of the United States. This proposal was also rejected, so this is a major victory that has been attempted several times previously. Whether it will pass through the Senate, and ultimately receive legal effect, is still left to be determined.

Many have argued that the District should be allowed a seat in the House, since the residents of the District pay taxes and fight in the wars of this country just like residents of any other state. The debate and battle rages on, and it will be a rather interesting experience to see if the District is able to win their bid to a permanent seat in the House.

What Does The Law Mean To You?

Although we all have an understanding of what law is, and generally why it's appropriate that it should be in place to serve and regulate our conduct in society, we seldom think of what law actually means in an everyday context. What is law for the average Joe in the street? How does law impact on our lives from day to day? Indeed, is the law a distant concept with which we find it hard to relate? In this article we will look at some of the fundamental ways law operates in society, in addition to the nature of the law as we know it.

For some people, they feel as though the law is there merely to protect their interests, and that they have no need for daily interaction. However, they assume that if the day comes where their behaviour is called into question, the law will operate, the course of justice will be run, and the will of the people will be fulfilled. This is perhaps a naïve interpretation of the function of law, and indeed the way it operates in our lives throughout the day. For instance, at the top level we have the constitution, establishing parameters within which the government can and cannot act to protect the citizens of our nation. That has an overwhelming effect on the way in which our government and indeed our country is run, which has a knock on effect on everything we do throughout the day and how we do it. Even at a local level, the law interacts with the services we are provided, the jobs we work and pretty much everything to do with the lives we lead. A distant concept? I don't think so.

The law does not just operate in criminal spheres, nor is it confined to merely constitutional matters and the distribution of power. Law is a significantly more sophisticated tool in the orchestration of the day-to-day organisation of society, through regulating not only personal conduct but also the way we act in business situations. Take for example the everyday task of boarding a train. The law regulates many aspects of this feat: (1) the criminal law and the constitution permits us to board public transport. (2) The constitution permits us to make contract with another. (3) The laws of contract permit us to form a contract for transport with the train company, and ensure that that contract is fulfilled. (4) The laws of contract and tort allow us to board without fear of injury, or with remedy should the worst happen. Finally the law of ownership and currency allows us to hand over money in consideration for this service, which is of value to the other contracting party. In fact, the law regulates just about everything we do, and is vital in doing so to ensure the smooth running of community and every aspect of our lives.

The law is not some abstract notion that can and will protect us when we need to rely on it. The law is an integral part of democratic life, and something which regulates our conduct, and in essence allows us to act according to our own desires within reason. Some may think the law is too restrictive in certain areas, but it works. The law serves its function as regulating our behaviour very well, and if it doesn't? We can change it.

The fact is, law has been an important part of society since it began, with implied legal and social orders and boundaries that could not be crossed. Today, it is a sophisticated network of guidelines and regulations which is adapted to shape the way we live our lives from one day to the next. There is no doubt that the law is important to the citizen, and plays a profound impact on the lives of the people on a daily basis.

Women's Rights

In previous years, generations ago women were considered property of the husband or father to whom they belonged. Now as we have progressed into the 21st century women have stepped up to the plate and are an integral part of society and politics, on an entirely equal footing with men. In the past, women were considered as belonging to their husbands or fathers, now they are the CEO's of major corporations. Women today are a very important part of society, with women in jobs such as judges, Senators, Congress, and even Governors - a feat that would have been highly surprising even twenty years ago.

These positions were not possible previously, with widespread social reform needed to bring about this change. In previous years, women were only allowed to work on the family farm, or be a teacher, rather than being afforded experience in practical situations. Women were expected to be married by the end of their teenage years, and were overlooked in conversations as being unable to contribute anything valid. When elections were first started, women were not allowed to vote, they were barely allowed the right to run their own homes.

As society has progressed, we have seen women moving from the back of the line, to the front of the public eye, occupying more and more positions of authority and respect. More women now than ever are working outside the home, and proving their own worth without a man to hold them up. Many women are even choosing to not get married, as well as not have children, although experts are suggesting this will have implications for future generations.

With the push towards women's rights, there has also been pushes towards expanding the rights for the lesbian community. More women are stepping forward to fight for the rights that they are owed and due, alongside those already afforded to the male homosexual community. Women have been taxpayers for as long as men have, at the same rates, and there are daily battles and struggles to overcome the problems and oppression that women are faced with, especially within the homosexual community to level this unfairness.

Even in today's society and the move away from sexism there is still a notable difference in the amount of money a man earns compared to the amount of money a woman earns for the same job. This is regardless of experience, training, and education, as many employers still feel women lack the competence to work within a competitive environment. There are always major differences in the way issues are handled and there seems to be new differences appearing each and every day.

How society adapts is the important part, we are on the brink of the first woman in history winning a democratic party bid for the Presidency and this makes a wonderful time for women. We are in the days, weeks, months and years following the Clinton presidency, and since then, Hillary Rodham Clinton has set an exception example for women by stepping out from behind her husband's shadow and making a name for herself in the political arena. With her impact on the forthcoming Presidential elections still unknown, it will be interesting to see the effect this has on women's rights both domestically and across the world.

Women are fighting and struggling each and every day to prove their worth, but with each day that passes a small victory for women's rights, we are proving each and every day that we are a force to be dealt with. Many people are eagerly awaiting the day when men and women are truly treated as equals. It might be 2 days from now or perhaps 20 years from now, but it is a work in progress and will be accomplished. By working together with the community as a whole, and avoiding a destructively defensive view point, women can promote their interests, as can men, to create a truly equitable environment.

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