Friday, October 28, 2011

On Income Inequality and Work

Ladies and Gentlemen, a news flash for everyone--this is going to be shocking news for everyone who has spent the past few weeks occupying Wall Street, Washington, DC and all those other places--on the issue of income inequality

I will admit it it--income inequality exists. I can't deny it, I won't deny it and I am certainly not going to apologize for it. Income inequality exists because we live in a, nominally, capitalistic society. Oh, and income inequality has always existed. Income inequality will always exist in one form or another. Get used to it. Get over your whiny little envy. If you want some money--I have a solution for you. Get to work!

But the fact is that probably won't happen. The Occupy Wall Street crowd isn't so much about income inequality as much as it is about income envy and a sense of entitlement. NOTE: Yes I know that the OWS crowd has other concerns, which I think are more legitimate, i.e. the too close relationship between big government and big business, although I think they have the causation direction wrong.

As the class warfare heats up (and make no mistake the OWS crowd has bought into the class warfare hook, line and sinker without actually asking why), the income inequality argument is going to be brought up. When we talk about income inequality, we need to be clear about the causes of that income inequality and the number one reason for the inequality is a function of talent and drive--that is those intangible attributes, along with luck and a lot of work, that determine how "successful" we are in life.

First let us dispense with the notion that the poor in this country are anything like being truly poor, that is so poor that they live in a 1 room shack, or have not shelter at all, wonder where their next meal is coming from etc. As James Pethokoukis notes in 7 reasons why Obama is wrong on income inequality, even the poorest among us is far better off today than they were 30 years ago. But while the rich have gotten richer (again, not going to deny it or apologize for it), the poor have gotten richer also, just not at the same pace that the rich have:
Liberals frequently claim the average American family has been losing ground for the past three decades—or at least since Ronald Reagan took the presidential oath in January 1981. (As if the 1970s with its sky-high Misery Index was a great economic time.) The CBO refutes this. Its data show real median after-tax household income (half of all households have income below the median, and half have income above it) grew by 35 percent over the past three decades.
Those are hard numbers issued by the CBO in the same report that talks about the income growth among the top 1% and it means that even the poorest  Americans are generally far better off than they were 30 years ago. As my father has noted to me several times in his volunteer work for Cathlic Charities, there are a great many people coming to Catholic Charities for help with electric, water, mortgage bills where both adults and their three kids all have cell phones, have cable TV, and a roof over their heads. The poorest in other countries don't have the latter luxury, let along TV and a five cell phone plan.

Nor are people stuck in their position as "poor," which, as Rick Moran notes "a Treasury study on income mobility found that starting in 1996, half of taxpayers who started in the bottom 20 percent had moved to a higher income group by 2005." So we have income mobility and just because you are poor now, doesn't mean you have to remain poor, if you are willing to work. 

Recently, the President touted some numbers in a recent Congressional Budget Office analysis of income inequality. The CBO report states that average after tax income for the top 1% grew by 275 percent between 1979 and 2007. Looked at in isolation, that certainly looks bad. But Pethokoukis posits that there is some reasons for some of the disparirty between the 1% and the 99%The first addresses that 1%:
One potential explanation from CBO: ”The compensation of ‘superstars’ (such as actors, athletes, and musicians) may be especially sensitive to technological changes. Unique characteristics of that labor market mean that technical innovations, such as cheap mass media, have made it possible for entertainers to reach much wider audiences. That increased exposure, in turn, has led to a manyfold increase in income for such people.” The CBO also mentioned ”changes in the governance and structure of executive compensation, increases in firms’ size and complexity, and the increasing scale of financial-sector activities” as possibilities.
In a nation of 340 Million people, 1% is still 3.4 million people. The CBO and the White House have placed a lot of emphasis on technological change as the driver of wealth and income. While it may be a factor, it is not the end all be all. It is true that those on the cutting edge of technology stand to make a lot of money, but I don't hear anyone from OWS or the White House complaining about the money Steve Jobs or Bill Gates made by being on the forefront of technology. Yes, technology can make lots of money--but it can lose a lot of money too--the reward is proportional to the risk.

But let's look at one segment of that 1%, the entertainers/athletes of one sort of another. But those few professional athletes and top entertainers do very well financially. We hear of athletes making $20 million plus a year plus endorsements, or movie stars making millions per movie, plus royalties and a share of the merchandising, and musicians raking in millions in album sales, iTunes sales, concert tickets, merchandising etc. Thus, even among the top 1% of the top 1%, there are massive income disparaties that no one talks about. The President has spoken of taxing people making more than $250,000 per year, something that many liberals champion. But consider, I hear no one in the Occupy Wall Street crowd complaining about the injustice to some average worker in relation to the minimum salary of an NFL player, which. in 2011 is $340,000 for the year. An NBA player minimum salary for a rookie is $457,588 and a 10 year NBA veteran's minimum salary is $1,306,455. Even the lowest paid athletes in the two biggest revenue sports in America are well into the top 1% of the top 1% of America. If the OWS crowd acknowledges that, no one seems to be clamoring for those people to give up their money or that they don't deserve that kind of pay.

But while a football player or basketball player, even a rookie who has not proven himself in his profession, make have unique skills that are compensated on a different scale that us average athletes, are not people with special skills likewise rewarded in our culture. But on a lesser physical scale, the others in that top 1% have no doubt done something that a vast majority of the OWS crowd has not done, cloaked as they are in a sense of entitlement, worked their butts off to succeed. Success is not given simply because someone has a college degree (as I have seen some demonstrators talk how they went to college and still don't have a job). Success is a function of talent, training, effort and perhaps some luck. Of these four, only training is something the government can "give." But just because training is available, it still takes effort, energy and desire to make it useful. The other three factors, effort, luck and talent, cannot be given out. Thus, there are inherent inequalities of talent and ambition among us (the things we are told to celebrate because it creates a diverse community) that ultimately lead to income inequality. Those who have a special talent or are willing to work harder than the next guy are almost certain to succeed financially.

But like the NFL or NBA player, those people possessing in demand or unique skills are compensated better because precisely because they are in demand. Which by the way, iis a function of a capitalist society--paying those with in demand skills more. And those in demand and unique skills do not necessarily come from a college degree. One of my criticisms of Pethokoukis' piece and many other commentators is that we think of technology as the only way to a better life. As technological change accelerates and becomes more pervasive, the market will reward workers with more education and skills. As Pethokoukis notes:
Numerous researchers have concluded that, on balance, the technological changes of the past several decades—and perhaps the entire past century—increased employers’ demand for workers with higher skills and more education. That increase, along with a smaller increase in the supply of workers with higher skills and more education, generated substantial gains in the relative wages of more-educated worker. In the past decades, inequality has been going up everywhere.” It is a global phenomenon.
But in a society that has, as the Obama Administration is fond of pointing, crumbling infrastructure, there is a need for people who are not necessarily better educated in terms of the degrees they hold or colleges they attended, but skilled workers none-the-less. I would wager that in 25 years, a skilled plumber, electrician or welder might be making more--without a college degree--than half a dozen bachelor degree holding college graduates put togther. Why? Because they have skills that are in demand and people are willing to pay for those skills.

As our colleges and universities churn out young men and women specialized degrees in ever increasingly esoteric subjects, they have not learned any of the basics of caring for their own homes, let alone their community. But as we have begun to fetishize education, putting so much stock in a college degree, we have neglected the basic needs of our society and have made second class citizens of blue collar workers, portraying them, for the most part, as uneducated buffoons who are incapable of being successful or rich and of course demeaned because they don't have a college degree. But when my plumber charges almost as much per hour as a lawyer or doctor--you tell me who is smart and who is not.

We know that not everyone can be an NBA point guard or center, nor can everyone be a NFL linebacker.   At the same time, not everyone has the skills or knowledge to be the CEO of a car company or bank. Those are unique skills that require alent, training, effort and a little luck. But that position also comes with a price, in terms of time spent at work, cost in human terms like time away from family and friends, or damage to one's health.

Similarly, not everyone has the talent or drive to go to college, yet they can become comfortable, if not well-off, by being that person who can fix my air conditioning or plumbing because I have neither the skill nor the time to do so. And given that we have made blue collar, skilled labor a "second" choice instead of a viable alternative, there is a labor shortage for those skilled workers.  And as capitalism tells us, if something is in short supply, people will pay more for it.  But even among skilled workers some people are going to make more money because they are willing to work harder.

But the key fact is work or effort. If a person is willing to work, at what ever their chosen occupation, they will be rewarded and compensated. If a person wants to make money, they have to work harder. That is something that the average clue collar worker understands almost intuitively, but something that a degree toting dilettante fails to grasp.

Two facts remain:

  1. So long as people are born with different talents, there will be income inequality because some talents and skills will be able to command better pay because fewer people have that skill.
  2. So long as some people are willing to work harder, work longer and sacrifice somethings that the rest of us are unwilling to do, they will make more money than the rest of us.

Congress and the President cannot legislate talent and motivation. So if you envy that 1% and you don't have the unique talent to do something, my best advice is start working----hard.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

As Rhode Island follows the Greek model, what states will be next?

As Rhode Island follows the Greek model, what states will be next?

For years and years, state and local governments have promised generous benefits to their workers without real regard for where the money would come from in the future to fulfill those promises. If these governments pay all that they've committed to pay for retired workers, they soon will be in the position that they will be spending all their money on workers who aren't working and have nothing left over for schools or prisons or roads or any of the other functions for which people look to their state and local governments.

When I hear public sector union leaders state they will block any reform, I am led to question, why in the heck do our elected leaders give them such power? Union leaders are elected officials.

So elected officials, you need to grow a spine and realize that no matter where you got your campaign money from, you have a duty to act in the best interests of the state.

Ohhhh, wait...............that is not what elected leaders believe any more. The concept of statesmanship has taken a back seat to getting and keeping power.

Check out my soccer blog at Nutmegs and Stepovers

Abortion And the Republican Party

For a very long time, the issue of abortion has divided the nation and it has divided both political parties, although you don't hear much about such a division among Democrats although it does exist. But quite frankly, the GOP is and probably always will be sharply divided by the issue and in a recent campaign event in Iowa, the issue came up again at Iowa Forum for Republicans.

Not long ago, Herman Cain made the statement that he is personally pro-life, but felt that government should not be involved in that decision.
“It is a liberal canard to say I am personally pro-life, but government should stay out of that decision,” Mr. Perry said, drawing enthusiastic applause from a crowd of social conservative voters. “If that is your view, you are not pro-life, you are pro-having your cake and eating it too.”
To me this is a perfectly legitimate and quite libertarian position to take. I understand the moral outrage that social conservatives have about abortion. But I also understand that some people believe it should not be the role of government to get involved in the decision. What I find appealing about Cain's initial position (since he is now starting to walk it back) is that it makes a moral sense. So, like Herman Cain, I am am pro-life but believe that government should not be involved in the matter because the government and the courts have have already stepped into this quagmire and muddled it up. Essentially what Herman Cain and I have in common on this issue is that government is that the issue is so muddled that the only place left that is logical is to stake out a personal position and then step back and say that government shouldn't be involved But Rick Perry, in an effort to make his social conservative bona fides took Cain to task.

But certain segments of the GOP are ready to kill their own on this matter because they have a position, Pro-Life or nothing, that leaves no room for the gray areas that accompany this issue. For example, there are very, very few Republican candidates who will say "No abortion, doesn't matter what the circumstances are." If you talk leading GOP candidates there are always "exceptions" that they are willing to accept, such as life of the mother, or a child conceived through rape or incest. So what does such a willingness to accept "exceptions" do to the moral "clarity" that social conservatives want to have in their candidates. The fact is that abortion is such a murky topic that any clarity is impossible to achieve, so why do social conservatives demand such clarity of their candidates when most cannot maintain that clarity in their own mind.

If we are looking for honesty and clear conviction in our candidates, then isn't Herman Cain being honest about a personal belief (at least before he started walking it back in order to avoid getting trounced). A president has almost no say in abortion "policy" in America, so why do we care? How can Rick Perry stand up at a campaign event and call someone who has declared himself pro-life a liar. Just because Herman Cain, at one time, believed that government shouldn't be telling people how to live their personal life doesn't make Herman Cain any less pro-life.

In fact, I could argue that Cain's position is more pro-life than Perry, because at least Herman Cain believes that you should be able to live your own life with government saying what you can and cannot do in your personal life.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Good Question

Does killing a dictator make an illegal war legal?

Methinks no, but then again, I have a pretty principaled stand when it comes to the use of military force...that is the President needs Congress's approval before doing so.

So that Libyan resolution? Still waiting.

That Ugandan resolution or authorization? Not a peep.

Just because the results are good (if they are good) doesn't validate the fact that the process was violated.

Check out my soccer blog at Nutmegs and Stepovers

Occupy Wall Street Crowd Wearing Out Their Welcome

New Yorkers rage over ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protestors. Can't say that I am surprised.

While the fundamental purpose of the Occupy Wall Street protest was to draw attention, the problem with an "Occupation" as opposed to a kind of rally type protest, even a rally that occurs on a daily basis, is that an occupation carries the risk of wearing out your welcome and then instead of building support, the protest tends to lose support at best and generate outright opposition at worse.

I will be the first to defend the rights of the occupiers to make their protest even if I think much of their message is silly. But like with all long term protests, there takes a bit forethought and cooperation with the locals to makes sure basic things, like hygiene are considered. As one story I have seen discusses, protesters are defecating on private property. Furthermore, locals are being harassed while going about their daily business and the protesters are apparently making noise at all hours of the night.

Manhattan is a particularly difficult area to protests. Unlike a lot of "business centers" in major cities, Manhattan is also a very residential place, making clashes with local residents much more likely.

Protest all you want, but when you start disturbing the rights of others, there has to be some limits, even if it means disbursing every day.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fetishizing Education?

Charles C. W. Cooke has looked at the Occupy Wall Street crowd noted that a great many of them are unemployed. Cooke is not surprised that people are miffed about that (I am upset about it and I have a job), but Cooke was incredulous at their non-sequiter, "And I went to college!" Cooke then asks, "so what?"

Now what I am about to say I say as a guy with a bachelor's degree and a law degree. There ain't nothing magical about have a degree and there is certainly no magical connection between having a degree and having a job. Outside of a few professions (like the law or medicine) you don't need a specific degree to have a job in that field. A good case in point is my friend with a zoology degree who owns and operates her own successful web development company.

Cooke goes on to write:
In the West, we are hard at work establishing a culture that fetishizes education, and instills the belief that college — regardless of its content or application — will, and should, inexorably lead to a better job, or a better life, or even a better America. Worse, that one has a right to these things. In doing so, we have created a Potemkin aristocracy, one based upon the erroneous and tragic conceit that having letters after one’s name intrinsically confers excellence. We are happily encouraging our children to join its ranks, regardless of whether there is any evidence that to do so will be in their interest. This is supremely ironic, given that so many of America’s billionaires — i.e. those who pay for more educations and create more jobs than anyone else — are college dropouts. Indeed, both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates failed to finish college. Can we say with a straight face that this has adversely affected them, or America at large?
Indeed, being an educated person is not just about degrees and one can have a bunch of letters after their name, have formal education and lack any sense of what is real in the world. Having spent four years in the Navy before returning to complete my degree, I can tell you that my first job out of college was less technically and intellectually demanding than the work I did in the Navy.

Indeed, we have so elevated the "need" and insistence that going to college is the way to the "good life" that we have forgotten, as Cooke points out, that a fair number of wildly successful people don't have a degree other than some honorary degrees bestowed later in their lives.

Having a degree, or multiple degrees, does not equate to the right to a job. Just because you are in possession of a piece of paper that says you went to college and graduated does not mean anyone has to "give" you a job as if it were your birthright. A person still has to go out a "get" a job.

Check out my soccer blog at Nutmegs and Stepovers

Is This NASA Document Saving or Killing Manned Private Spaceflight? - Popular Mechanics

Is This NASA Document Saving or Killing Manned Private Spaceflight? - Popular Mechanics
For the past few years, NASA has been funding private space companies in the hope that they can build spacecraft that will carry astronauts to orbit. This is a historic change: Until now, every NASA craft has been designed and wholly owned by the agency. Now, industry would build and operate rockets and spacecraft, and it would do it more quickly, cheaply, and flexibly than the government could, opening a new era of spaceflight.

But not so fast.

This month, NASA released the first draft of the document that describes how it plans to ensure the privately built spacecraft they will use will be safe. The document will define America’s future in space, because it sets the rules private companies will have to follow, though few seem to have read it. But we read through the dense language of the contract, called the Commercial Crew Integrated Design Contract (CCIDC), and found that it sets terms that keep NASA very much in control of the design and timeline of the next astronaut-carrying spacecraft and launch vehicles.

Space companies are quietly pushing back against parts of the contract. Officials complain that the terms leave open questions over who has final say over the engineering. There are new government review boards that can reject hardware designs.

Hey, just as a reminder--spaceflight is dangerous, it doesn't matter who designed the spacecraft. I would bet that the astronauts understand that.

Also, private spacecraft will have to be safe in order to make any money--that is the point.

Check out my soccer blog at Nutmegs and Stepovers

Dems' 900 Days Of Irresponsibility

Investors Business Daily:
Over the weekend, Senate Democrats passed a dubious milestone — going 900 days without fulfilling their legal obligation to pass a budget. Worse is the fact that this gross dereliction of duty has gone largely unnoticed.

You have to go all the way back to April 29, 2009 — just three months after President Obama took the oath of office — to find the last time Senate Democrats managed to discharge their legal obligation to produce a budget plan.

That's right — legal obligation. It says right in the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 that the Senate must produce a budget resolution by April of each year.

Dear Senate Majority Leader Reid, don't lecture any company, business, or individual about fiscal responsibility if you can't even pass a non-binding budget resolution.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Zbigniew Brzezinski: Make Public Rich People's Charitable Giving

Stupidity of the week:  Former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski things that published lists of wealthy people's charitable giving is a good idea.

Seriously, you can't make this up.

First, Brzezinsky has how much credibility on this topic?  He is a national security expert (at best--having served in that position some 30 years ago), not on fiscal, tax, finance or economic matters.

Second, the last time I checked, what a person does with their money is their own business.  Who I choose to give to or not give to is my business and I am not rich.  If a person is rich and they don't want to publicize their giving--that is their right--it is an extension of the freedom of speech and of association.

Third, I am pretty sure that most charitable organizations are not and should not be required to disclose the identity of their contributors.

Fourth, how long before this idea is extended to the next step.  The next step will be a determination of whether such groups are worthy of money or a public shaming if a person gives to an unpopular group.

I wish this was made up, I really do, but follow the link and hear for  yourself.

Um....Not so sure about this:

Saw this pic on a post about the Occupy [Insert City here] movement.  Among the various signs you see here expressing various platitudes, take a look at the sign second from the right.

"Student Loan Debt==Indentured Servitude without Job Security"


The last time I checked college was not required in this country so you didn't have to incur the student loan debt.  Also, I believe that the taking of student loans was likewise voluntary, you could have worked your way through school or tried to get scholarships (and if you think you got it bad Ms., I suggest you try finding scholarships for white men).  I also note that there is no right to job security in this country--ever.

The problem is that people expect all jobs to pay equally.  They don't and I am not sorry about it.

Check out my soccer blog at Nutmegs and Stepovers

Is our "Science Deficit" a function of our Education Deficit

Last night I saw a show on CNBC called Meeting of the Minds: The Business of Science, a panel discussion featuring such science luminaries as J. Craig Ventner (the DNA sequencing guy), Dr. Mae Jemison (a former astronaut), Dr. Michio Kaku (physics professor and author), Jim Simons (mathematician and investment firm leader) and Bill Joy (former chief scientist at Sun Microsystems and now partner in a greentech practice), and Bob Hugin (CEO of Celgene). The discussion and format of the show is pretty wide ranging.

But about 30-35 minutes in there was a discussion about science literacy and how political decisions affect and alter research and development. I thought it was fascinating how these scientists with undoubtedly great access to political and regulatory leaders complained of how little our political leaders knows. Dr. Kaku also complained of the growing loss of leadership in basic research areas occurring in the United States, losing the leadership in physics and genetics and other fields mainly to Europe.

Dr. Jemison noted that the science fields still tend to be dominated by whites and Asians and largely male in nature. She also (I believe it was her) briefly noted that science education is lacking which in turn leads to a lack of science illiteracy. The science illiteracy is compounded by the practical flood of information readily available, much of it highly technical, but difficult to understand without further explantaion.

The discussion on science literacy touched briefly on the subject of failure in the scientific process. Mr. Hugin noted that venture capital is reticent to get invovled in pure research, looking instead to a minor tweak that might lead to a marketing bonanza. Another of the panelists then noted that most of them got into science because it was fun and they liked it, but they learned that part of the scientific process of discovery was failure and then trying something different.

Something clicked at that moment that brought all of these little threads together. Venture capitalists refraining from backing pure research or long-range development, the lack of science literacy among our political leaders, and our lack of science/technology education of our children are all related, in my mind to something more fundamental--our desire to avoid seeing our children fail.

That's right, the coddling of kids and the helicopter parent phenomenon is destroying America's leadership in science and technology. It is a pretty brash statement, I know, but some of the faults that we have in our education system will do doubt lead to a more dire science illiteracy in the coming generation.

Science education is not just about learning the periodic table or the parts of a cell or the anatomy of a frog or the laws of thermodynamics or any of the hundreds and thousands of topics out there for exploration. Science education is partly that, but it is also about DOING. Science is hands on, it is experiments, it is dissection, it is mixing chemicals and Bunsen burners, its about getting dirty and yes, it is about failure. Failure is as much a part of the scientific process as making an observation. But failure can be heartbreaking if it is not taught as part of the process. Failure, however, is what pushes us beyond what we know, it drives us forward, making us, both the scientist and the society, better.

How much of that happens now? Does our schools' fears of liability prevent this hands on aspect of science? Do parental worries that little Jane or John is going to get hurt prevent kids getting their hands dirty? Do parental fears of their child failing contribute to a lesser emphasis on science education? Nobody wants to assuage broken hearts when an experiment fails and expectations are not met. So do parents avoid the problem by subconsciously steering kids in a way that won't challenge them or set them up for failure.

I believe all of these factors are contributing to the general problem of science illiteracy. Science is not cheap, it is not clean, it is not flashy, and it is often more about failures than it is about successes. Science sometimes has those occasional small steps forward and even more rarely giant leaps ahead. But mostly science is a grind, it is the little steps and the failures, that teach us things. But because science is often a large collection of failures that litter the pile of progress it is fraught with disappointment, with failure and that can be disheartening.

But we must teach our children that failure in science, failure in anything, is not a bad thing. It is a good thing if we learn something from our failure, even if it is just one small thing that we learn. Failure is part of the process of discovery. But if we as a society shield our kids from all failure, we shield then from the wonder that is science.

I am not a scientist, I am a lawyer. But I see my own daughters filled with excitement about science, and I want to encourage that. I don't want them to fail miserably--but they do need to fail occasionally in order to understand how to learn from failure. What better place to learn how to fail and how to learn from failure than in science.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Recession Nightmare: From Unemployed to Unemployable

Recession Nightmare: From Unemployed to Unemployable

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Getting It Right: Dean of George Mason Law Sets Excellent Example - FIRE

Getting It Right: Dean of George Mason Law Sets Excellent Example about Free Speech:

Courtesy of F.I.R.E., a groups whose mission I fully support and endorse, here is the story:
Recently, two student groups at George Mason University School of Law, the Federalist Society and the Jewish Law Students Association, have taken heat for inviting controversial activist Nonie Darwish to campus for a lecture. Specifically, the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on the school to disinvite Darwish because of her past statements regarding Islam.

Here is the Dean Daniel Polsby's response to calls to disinvite Darwish in its entirety. (Again, comlpiments of F.I.R.E.)

It appears that there is need to clarify the policy affecting speakers at the law school.

Student organizations are allocated budget by the Student Bar Association in order to allow them, among other things, to bring speakers to the law school. Neither the law school nor the university can be taken to endorse such speakers or what they say. Law school administration is not consulted about these invitations, nor should we be. Sometimes speakers are invited who are known to espouse controversial points of view. So be it. So long as they are here, they are free to say whatever is on their mind within the bounds of law. They cannot be silenced and they will not be.

Just as speakers are free to speak, protesters are free to protest. They must do so in a place and in a manner that respects the rights of speakers to speak and listeners to listen, and that is in all other ways consistent with the educational mission of the university. Student organizations which hold contrary points of view have every right to schedule their own programs with their own speakers, and these speakers' rights will be protected in just the same way.

The law school will not exercise editorial control over the words of speakers invited by student organizations, nor will we take responsibility for them, nor will we endorse or condemn them. There has to be a place in the world where controversial ideas and points of view are aired out and given space. This is that place.

Daniel D. Polsby
Professor of Law, Dean

Bravo Dean Polsby, Bravo sir.

Check out my soccer blog at Nutmegs and Stepovers

Bank of America Should Sue Dick Durbin

On Monday Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) took to the floor of the Senate and said “Bank of America customers, vote with your feet. Get the heck out of that bank. Find yourself a bank or credit union that won’t gouge you for $5 a month and still will give you a debit card that you can use every single day.”

Now, you can bet that Bank of America is going to look at every customer and wonder, are they leaving because we are now charging them $5 for a debit card or are they leaving because some blowhard U.S. Senator said they should leave.

If I was Bank of America, I would be thinking about a tortious interference with contract claim against the Senator.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A good idea on many levels

From Jerry Pournelle:
Mission for NASA: Become the national Space Prize organization. Congress appropriates $2 billion a year, relatively trivial amounts; NASA sets up prize committees, stores up the money, and gives it away as prizes. It doesn’t fund anything, it doesn’t need large staffs, it needs some bright people to come up with prize objectives and definitions, judges to determine that the prize objectives have been met, and someone to sign the checks for winners. Nothing else.

Unleashes innovation, spurs development, oh and saves a few billion dollars a year in government spending.

I like it.