Inconsistent paternalism

Robin Hanson conjectures:

we are much more paternalistic toward the low in status. We allow rich people to invest in most anything they like, but limit poor people to investments approved by regulators, and we are far more concerned about alcohol and illegal drug use by the poor than the rich, even though both groups use them at similar rates. An inner city activity with a similar mortality rate to BASE jumping would be illegal so fast it would make your head spin.

Rings true to me. The evidence he offers isn't knock-down but is suggestive, and we can pile up examples.

There is the similar phenomenon of the rich getting away with murder or other offenses (real or just legislated), or actually being found innocent when they're innocent, in part because they can afford competent lawyers who are actually motivated to defend them in court.

A low status person with no political pull and no other defenses can be more safely used by the police to meet their quotas or to exercise petty authority, and more easily manipulated by the government without ramifications to show that it is doing something, and more easily toyed with by the voters who want to express their personal commitment to virtue by imposing rule after rule on total strangers.

One stark example of the rich being better able to fend off government: when Castro overthrew Batista and imposed totalitarian communism on the Cuban people, it was the rich Cubans who managed to get to Miami in time. The poor were trapped, and now live under the dictator's thumb.

Generally, yeah, the rich do get more respect. Reminds me of the old saw - goes something like, "the poor are insane [lock them up], the rich are eccentric [leave them alone]."

If there's a take-home lesson here: don't be poor.

The resourcefulness of the rich does have its uses for the rest of us. After all, it was the barons who forced King John to sign the Magna Carta and started that ball rolling. 

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But were is the inconsistence you promised in the title ?

Robin's fault

Blame Robin Hanson, because I ripped off his title. How about inegalitarian paternalism?

It's more coherent but

It's more coherent but tautological, paternalism is intrinsically inegalitarian.

value of lawyers.

If you have a court appointed lawyer, you will go to jail, regardless of guilt or innocence, and there is a fair chance you will go to jail for a good long time. One very serious problem is that jails are often centrally paid for, but locally filled, so some counties in California have perverse incentives to jail people. Everyone they jail benefits the local economy, provides jobs for the boys, jobs that are allocated by the political machine. So if you are an outsider, wrong skin color, or funny accent, and you are passing through Yolo county . . .

In big cities, however, there is often the reverse problem - that prison time, like most things provided by government, is under supplied, with flagrantly criminal people just not being dealt with. Indeed, it is a general rule that if something is supplied by government, there will be both shortages and excess, and frequently both at once.

Justice,Myth and Reality

“There is the similar phenomenon of the rich getting away with murder or other offenses (real or just legislated), or actually being found innocent when they're innocent, in part because they can afford competent lawyers who are actually motivated to defend them in court.” Constant
“If you have a court appointed lawyer, you will go to jail, regardless of guilt or innocence, and there is a fair chance you will go to jail for a good long time.” James
Blink, blink. Am I waking up in lefty land? That is where these ideas come from? Society gives people a raw deal. Screw society.
Here are a few points aimed in the opposite direction,complete with fun gender reversals. Is paternalism aimed at poor? Sure, the rich do generally get more respect than the poor. They should be admired because they are luckier, harder working or smarter than average. The libertarian usually only asks to be allowed to compete fairly with her own resources so she has the chance to get succeed too.
If libertarianism is valid, many of the rich would naturally use some of their smartness and luck for the benefit of others, not as a cover for evil deeds. If they do abuse their good fortune we have just laws to prevent this from getting out of hand.
For example, a just society would not allow a rich woman to molest children but punish a poor person for the same deed. Arguments that this injustice is inevitable due to inequality of wealth are like the leftist arguments used to justify government redistribution of wealth. Then the people who seized the wealth of others by making this argument are the ones who run the government and are free to molest children and everyone else.
The only difference in the arguments is that leftists say “redistribute the oppressor’s wealth.” Libertarians instead say “Get rid of abuse by getting rid of government.” This is a sort of baby with the bathwater argument,but my purpose is not to develop this argument but to look at the argument that justice being limited to the moneyed.
If is they are true, then so be it. There may be many reasons to reduce or eliminate government,but we need to see if this complaint is valid.
The example that “Base Jumping” not being forbidden since the poor don’t participate in it is not a good example. Can you name any example of well known persons dying of during base jumping? On the other hand, I can give examples of well known, rich persons dying of drugs that have stoked the “war on drugs.” Have you ever heard of Elvis, Len Bias or John Belushi? Besides, deaths during physical activity or even automobile crashes are kind of heroic. Drug overdoses are considered sick and depraved.

The point about legal representation of poor vs. rich is a typical example of what “they say” that is counter to my experience. There are many examples of this type of common knowledge that are either false of more complicated than what is commonly perceived.
I am kind of old and live in Florida. I am not a lawyer, but in my work, have been testified in numerous depositions and trials. With the caveat, that thing could be different in different times and locations, I think what is described by Constant and James is a paranoid version of reality. I don’t have the space to detail all the data so you will just have to trust me. If you have any personally observed data you can sight,
I will trust that your observations are accurate.

Most people who are arrested for violent crime are poor. As a result most of the people who defend the poor are public defenders paid for by taxes. We have two private attorneys who handle most of cases of violence in town brought against who have the money. They are both fine attorneys but they lose almost every case. What they try to do is find procedural errors since their clients are all guilty as hell. The fact is the state just doesn’t bring cases of murder against people without good evidence. Why should they? To fill the prisons? The public defenders office has absolutely no interest in building the population base of the corrections department. It is not true that the attorneys who defend the public are the dregs of the legal profession any more than the prosecutors are. Neither one of them are the high profile or high income type. Many spend their lives in anonymity doing competent if uninspired work, like most people. Some of the people in both the State Attorneys office and the Public Defenders office are on the way up. The chief prosecutors who handle murder cases often become judges or go into private practice. The same is sometimes true of the public defenders office, though less often.
I have never witnessed any blatant miscarriage of justice in many years. If so I would have done something about it. If there is any injustice is occurs at the enforcement level. Even here it is not blatant. It is just true that there is more police vigilance against some persons than others. This does not mean that charges are trumped up against some people. It just means some people who could have potentially been nailed get lucky.

The trouble is that there are too many laws and too many felonies. Chances are that everyone is a felon so persons under greater scrutiny have a greater risk. Here is where the injustice lies.

As for differences in the vigor of the defense vs. prosecution, the difference lies at the level of torts vs. criminal justice. Torts are where the money is. Both plaintiff and defense tend to be far more aggressive and well paid than the criminal attorneys. Depositions and trials in torts tend to be prolonged and excruciating as befitting the fact that huge amounts of money are often at stake. So, I don’t think you guys are entirely wrong, just aiming in the wrong direction.