I think we have fallen off a precipice - graduating too many law students and too few scientists. Lawyers now control all of the modern debates in our society while scientists remain quiet and their influence discounted.
And debate is exactly the right word to describe how our society is handling problems. The use of data and science is no longer part of the equation. Global warming is the primary example here, where the greatest propaganda war of our time has subdued the (lack of ) scientific facts to back up the hysteria. Politicians (i.e. lawyers) speak in terms of "consensus" - not facts. Communication is based entirely on emotional appeals rather then looking at data.
Businesses don't make decisions about how to bring to market products that will save lives or make our quality of life better. Instead, Boardrooms decisions are controlled by fear of lawsuits. As a business owner myself, I spend hundreds of dollars buying liability insurance, establishing Trusts and LLC's to hide my assets from scavenger lawyers. The damage the lawyers did to Dow-Corning in regards to false data regarding silicone breast implants is one glaring example of the damage lawyers do to society.
And lawyers create dumb laws because they focus on winning debates rather than using science and data to create good laws based on facts. The current "energy" bill that just came out of committee is full of idiotic regulations. Some, like the ethanol incentives, will actually harm the environment, hurt the poor (higher food prices) and make us less prosperous. The banning of DDT has led to the death of millions from malaria - but, hey, what do they care about Africans, when they can get cash from the environmentalists?
Even our war against the Islamofascists is being squelched by lawyers who advise the CIA and military about how to fight the war. So we fight a war of timidity to avoid scandal rather than fight to win.
People (lawyers) that think that they are right because they know how to debate are filled with righteous smugness that disgusts me. But our society is reaping what it sows. Science is not taught well or emphasized as a way to success in our country. But become a lawyer and you can be like John Edwards and live in the rich America. Who would want to struggle as a scientist when you can do that?