Here's a brief, woefully incomplete list of the things I can't help people with: access to abortion services, school desegregation, any sort of a voting-rights case, any labor group trying to organize, and moving your couch this Sunday (that last one's just a personal preference).
"No, no, this isn't my pickup truck, I ... uh, just thought I'd take a load off ...
I own Mini Cooper. A compact Mini Cooper."
Oh, and we can't do class action lawsuits, either. That's right! No taking part in class action suits whatsoever. So, say a company's eviction process violates federal law, and several thousand people are affected. Normally, that'd be a class action lawsuit -- everyone merges into one giant legal Voltron, sues together, and hits the company hard enough that they actually suffer a consequence. But these are poor people, hence the eviction thing. And the only lawyers they can afford are free. So I have to sue on each client's behalf, one at a time, litigating the same case over and over again. Now, rather than one big lawsuit that takes 12 months, I spend three years grinding the legal system like an RPG.
Andrew Butko/Wiki Commons
Class action is basically the other, much cooler kind of RPG.
So how did we get to this point? Well, back in 1995 the American Farm Bureau Federation was sick of poor immigrant laborers suing farmers for silly things like "not paying them." The Christian Coalition didn't like us for, in their words, "subsidizing divorce and illegitimacy." Congressional Republicans also opposed us, and in 1996 they cut the LSC's budget by a third, then added in all those restrictions I mentioned above. And that's why we are where we are now: helping some of the people a little bit, but legally unable to help most of the people who need us.
Picturenet/Blend Images/Getty Images
The system works!
I suppose it's not terribly surprising that the government binds the poor up in so much red tape it's like a Christmas-themed bondage porn, but maybe it's a little shocking just how graphic the fucking really gets.
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Robert Evans runs the Cracked Personal Experience team, and he also has a Twitter.
For more insider perspectives, check out 5 Ways America's Justice System is Designed to Screw You and 5 Things I Learned as a Cop (That Movies Won't Show You).
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Check out Robert Evans' A Brief History of Vice: How Bad Behavior Built Civilization, a celebration of the brave, drunken pioneers who built our civilization one seemingly bad decision at a time.