Monthly Archives: March 2013

Study Hard

In response to our recent post on FAU, a reader sent this photo from the web site of another Florida college.  One of the perks of attending FGCU is that they have their own beach!  We presume these kids are resting up for the LSAT, or – maybe Trevanian was right about “four year intellectual vacations designed to prolong adolescence.”


One of the best lawyers we know majored in math.  Why math?  What does that have to do with law?  “Because it’s hard,” she said.  When you interview with a big firm, they want to know that you worked hard in college – and everybody knows math is hard.

“We choose to … do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

Fortunately, we have President Kennedy on film.  Note that he begins by praising America’s then strong capacity for hard science.

We have written before about the futility of America’s overpriced universities, and we offer this piece of advice to today’s undergraduates.  If your coursework doesn’t feel like real work, then you need to change your major.


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The Bottom Rung

FreedomThe Supreme Court is finally going to hear a challenge to California’s Proposition Eight, which explicitly forbids gay marriage.  Anti-gay activists say their law should stand, because it was duly enacted by majority vote.  Here is a civics lesson for both left and right.

Majority vote, or “democracy,” as they like to call it, is not the guardian of freedom.  In fact, the majority will always vote to deprive a minority of their rights.  This is precisely why we have the Supreme Court.

It is important for both sides to recognize this defect in democracy, and not trust it to resolve their disputes.  In this case, the right has an anti-gay majority.  We can just as easily see a majority vote to take away property rights, gun rights, abortion rights, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion.  You can go straight down the Bill of Rights, and find a majority to vote against each one.

California is ungovernable because they have “direct democracy.”  Voters make law directly by referendum.  So, one day they vote never to raise taxes, and the next day they vote never to cut spending.  The solution is representative democracy, wherein the majority selects reliable people from each district to go to Sacramento and make laws on their behalf.

We like to think that an emerging country is “free” once they hold an election.  This belief does nothing but promote election fraud.  Does anybody really think Russia is free?  Egypt?  Freedom means civil rights, property rights, and the rule of law.  Democracy is a rung on the ladder of freedom, but it’s the bottom one.

See also:  2013 Index of Freedom

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Do the Jesus Stomp

We understand there is a “university” in Florida granting credit for stomping on the name of Jesus.  This is a real disappointment.  Jeremiah’s kids were all stomping well before college age.  Plus, we understand the job market for stomping on religious icons is pretty slim right now.  Maybe class time would be better spent learning tax fraud, say, or urban camping.

Seriously, though, you spend good money to send your kid to college.  If FAU is teaching a lot of bullshit, then you are wasting your money.  Junior is not going to get a job in “Intercultural Communication.” Sorry.  He is better off learning an honest trade than a four-year degree in bullshit.

See also:  Don’t Go To College

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Power Play

imagesWe just ran Jeremiah’s piece on the war with China, and this brings up a general observation.  North Korea’s provocations are not down to one wild and crazy dictator.  Terrorists do not attack America because they just plain hate us, or because of Palestine, or – despite what Safari Montage says – because of our own poor decisions.  This is a child’s view of history.

Geopolitical actors have definite plans, based on power.  If you’re not clear on this, read Machiavelli – or Kissinger.  America has real enemies, and they want power.  They want control of resources, like land, food, energy, and people.

American hegemony lasted about 100 years, depending on how you count it.  The British Empire lasted about 200 years.  Suppose you were the leader of a nation or a movement.  Wouldn’t you like to have 100 years of world domination?  Could you play an inside game for 50 years, to get 100? Could you bankroll some zealots to fight your war?

The next time you hear we have been provoked by some madman or some “splinter group,” look for the hand pulling the strings.  This goes for the crazies in Washington, too.  No one is just crazy.

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Daring Daylight Bank Robbery

Banks in Cyprus are closed this week, while the government helps itself to depositors’ savings.  No kidding.  They plan to confiscate roughly 10% across the board.  The actual confiscation will be quick, but they are still deciding how much to take.  Cypriots are queuing up at the ATM.  Good luck!

Frances Coppola describes the process in technical terms.  Apart from the fact that the government is robbing its own citizens, the novelty is that they’re robbing the small, “insured,” depositors before wiping out the shareholders, bondholders, and large, uninsured depositors.  You know that FDIC sign in your bank branch?  It says that if the bank goes bust, your money is protected.

Robbing insured depositors seems like a surefire way to start a bank run right across Europe.  Anybody with money in a wobbly Greek or Spanish bank has to be stuffing it in a suitcase right now.

So, could it happen here?  The Boston Consulting Group recommended just that, in 2011.  Their report is here.  No dithering about for a week, either –  they have calculated exactly how much “haircut” the depositors will have to take (26%).

Jeremiah often calls inflation a hidden tax on people with money in the bank.  Maybe that wasn’t so bad.

See also:  Save the Savers

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Korean War Resumes

Last week, Kim Jong-Un tore up the 1953 ceasefire agreement.  This week, using computer hacking “weapons” from China, they attacked South Korea.  If you are not already aware that China has an ace computer hacking “cyber warfare” unit, you need to read the Mandiant report.

The Korean War, like the Vietnam War, was a proxy war between America and China.  We lost in Vietnam, and Korea was a draw – resulting in the present standoff between north and south.  Years later, relations with China have improved, but a proxy is still useful.  Suppose military leaders inside Unit 61398 wanted to test American cyber defenses?  What better test than a sponsored attack on an American ally?

Exactly two years ago, North Korea sank a South Korean cruiser.  Note that the Security Council resolution refers to the now-defunct ceasefire.   America responded with a demonstration of naval force, but:

South Korea had wanted to hold the joint war games in the Yellow Sea, near where the Cheonan sank. But China said it opposed them, so the exercises were moved.

So, China learned that they do indeed control the Yellow Sea.  In both cases, China used North Korea to test American resolve and American capabilities.  You have to admit this is a clever strategy.  If things go too far, China can always disavow North Korea’s actions.  Kim’s “crazy dictator” image is part of the act.

See also:  North Korean torpedo sank South’s navy ship

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Pick a Number

The abortion debate has inflamed a lot of hate, and murder, which is sad because most Americans would be okay with some kind of compromise.  The Arkansas legislature has recently introduced a bill which would limit a woman’s access to abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy.  It includes an exception in case of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life.  This is pretty much the normative position of the anti-abortion camp, except for extremists who believe life begins at conception.

The Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, ruled that a developing fetus does not have civil rights until it is ready to survive outside the womb – roughly 24 weeks.  As long as it depends on the mother for survival, it’s her decision.  Read the complete ruling here.  This is pretty much the normative position of the pro-abortion camp, except for “partial birth” abortion, which we can’t imagine unless it’s really a medical necessity.

So here is an opportunity for compromise.  A developing fetus becomes a new baby citizen sometime between 12 and 24 weeks.  As a practical matter, this is plenty of time for a woman to schedule the procedure.  You pretty much want to get it done before 15 weeks, using local anesthetic.

State by state, lawmakers should be able to find a number that suits their constituents.  This is a prime example where a one size fits all, federal, approach won’t do.

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