We’ll discuss this – and much, much more – on tomorrow’s show.
This is huge (especially for being just under 16 minutes). Please watch Vox Day’s inaugural Voxiversity video:
You can tell it’s effective truth by the way the SJW Stasi attacked it immediately. Ignore the idiotic “warning.” And I hope you’re in an area where this can be viewed easily. (Banned in: Austria, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Czechia, Germany, Estonia, France, United Kingdom, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Croatia, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Martinique, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Poland, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Reunion, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, French Southern Territories, Wallis and Futuna, Mayotte). Hopefully there is a VPN or other workaround for that.
This is an outstanding work of history and philosophy drawing on the reliable past and exploring what it means for our present and for the near future.
Please spread the word. Learn more at Vox’s site; donate if you’re able.
Nisi Deus ad Plagam!
This morning I was lucky enough to get an email from James Altucher that I could turn into an easy post, here. Then, I got an email from Sergey with the Obama/Merkel transcript. Now, I have a trifecta.
Vox Day responded to a request for a philosophy book:
Musing on meditations
Someone on Gab asked me if I would write a book of philosophy, and suggested something similar to one written by one of my intellectual heroes, Marcus Aurelius. His Meditations have been a significant influence on my thinking since high school, particularly this deeply meaningful piece of advice, with which he began Book Two in the Staniforth translation:
Begin each day by telling yourself: today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness—all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil. But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness, and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother (not in the physical sense, but as a fellow-creature similarly endowed with reason and a share of the divine); therefore none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading.
That got me thinking about Meditations. If you’ve not read the Emperor’s notes, then you’re not really well-read in the classics. If that’s the case, take heart! The royalties on the old book ran out 1,700 years ago and there’s a free version available on Kindle (just click!)!
Amazon / Kindle.
Meditations contains some of the finest, calmest, well-bred Stoicism every written. And I’ve always been struck by the compatibility between the Stoics, including Aurelius, and Christianity. Simply put, not only will you enjoy the lessons, but you will be able to relate to most of them.
Many thanks to Vox for yet another excellent idea. And I hope he cranks his book out sooner than later. Thanks to Kindle and Amazon for a wealth of free classics. And thanks to all of you for reading this rambling. Now, click that link!
Sometimes one finds after trials that what one wants isn’t really what one needs. The unknown need is often what should be desired. So it is with both the lesson behind The Allegory of the Cave and in my method of discovering it.
Long ago I wandered aimlessly but unintrepidly into the University of Georgia. I was convinced I was destined to study business and become a real life Gordon Gekko or something similar. I have yet to make millions or be investigated by the SEC. I have experienced some very attractive women and sunrise on the beach, so it has not been a total loss. Whatever.
Back in Athens, entering my senior year, I found myself faced with a host of required elective classes. I had essentially finished my business education which did turn out to mostly be a total loss. Hoping to get out into the “real world” as fast and as easily as possible I signed up for what I thought would be the easiest classes offered. I loaded up on philosophy and classical studies.
These I did find easy and I earned above average grades. However, my ease of completion, my excellence, derived from my immense enjoyment of the subject matter. Only at the end of my tenure did I discover the misdirection of my education.
Plato, being one of the greatest minds of all history, was required reading in one or more classics courses. Plato’s thoughts and methodology have influenced scholars since, to include Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas, More and Kant.
Deep inside Plato’s Republic one will find The Allegory of the Cave. It is a metaphorical conversation between Socrates (Plato’s mentor) and Glaucon (Plato’s brother). Ancient philosophy frequently featured dialectic parables to stimulate thought about the conveyed concepts. The Cave is such a story about human experience and education.
Socrates and Glaucon discussed a cave where were chained a group of people. The prisoners sat in a row facing a smooth black wall at the back of the cave. None had ever lived outside; their imprisoned condition was all they ever known. However, they were not without entertainment.
Behind the chained men burned a fire. Someone would regularly hold in front of the fire but behind the prisoners a series of shapes and models. These forms were representations of real things from the outside world. The shapes cast shadows on the wall. These were viewed by the captive audience. The shadow figures were the only substance ever viewed by the captives. As they viewed the apparitions the men would murmur sounds. Over time they came to assume these sounds came from the images and, thus, emanated from them. This spectacle provided a multi-dimensional element to life in the cave.
Still it was a false life, a fantasy. None had ever experienced reality. What they knew were only representative approximations of actual reality. Immersed in this setting the men assumed the shadow forms to be all of existence.
Suppose one of the captive viewers broke free and ventured back to where the models resided. Suppose he escaped the cave entirely and saw, for the first time, the real world. Given his shadow education he would eventually correlate those images to their real forms. Given a little longer he might come to appreciate his whole world view had been a mere theatrical production, a myth.
Initially, such a man would experience confusion and perhaps fear. Then what? Depending on his disposition, intelligence, and fortitude he would either become ecstatic in his newfound freedom or else he would shun reality in favor of his former imaginary life.
Suppose this escapee went back to the cave to teach the other prisoners about the truth. How would they receive his message? If history is a guide, then the reception would be cool at best. Intelligent people are frequently seen as crazed by their simple contemporaries. The ignorant are generally suspicious of the enlightened. Sometimes they persecute them. See the examples of Socrates, Archimedes, Galileo, and Jesus.
Art imitates life. The Matrix movie is the space age telling of Plato’s Cave. Neo barely overcomes his desire to remain in fantastic perfection over entering the more sober real world. He needed convincing too.
Life imitates art. Today many live out the allegory, not in a cave but in the comfort of their homes. The chains are mental rather than physical. Modern electronics have replaced the fire and shadow show. The allegory of the television.
In a way, by taking those elective classes I stumbled out of my own cave. What’s that? The allegory of the allegory? Years have passed and I still battle to convince myself of reality. It’s not always the most pleasant of places. I imagine you, dear reader, face similar dilemmas. Realization does not, by itself, breed happiness. It is however close kin with freedom. I’ll take that over being chained in the cave.
Alan Watson, anarchy, attorneys, chaos, crime, education, evil, freedom, Golden Rule, government, J.R.R. Tolkien, law, legal theory, libertarians, life, Natural Law, Natural Rights, Perrin Lovett, philosophy, political science, politics, UGA
Some years ago I landed in what for me was probably the perfect legal position of employment. I took a job out of law school as a law clerk with a Georgia court. Law clerks review case file, do research and make recommendations to their judges.
My tenure went far beyond the norm. I was afforded the opportunity to wear many hats – each of which fitted me perfectly. I was able to indulge in a great breadth and depth of research with some publication to boot. I was granted the more prestigious title of Staff Attorney. I was also a registered lobbyist, working occasionally in pursuit of projects concerning the judiciary. I even filled in a few times on the bench.
Gravitating naturally towards research and writing and having almost total freedom with my time I began to explore additional opportunities of academic nature. My great interest is in freedom in and out of legal and political systems. I am a theorist. I learned towards some hybrid between legal theory and political philosophy.
The American Bar Association views a J.D. as the equivalent of a PhD for teaching purposes. Most non-law schools hold a different view. I realized I might benefit from another, specialized graduate degree. My choices as I saw them were either a Master of Law or LLM (in law a Master’s degree comes after the doctorate – yes, backwards) or a PhD in poly sci.
My school of choice, based on both reputation and logistics, was the University of Georgia. I had my own strict criteria concerning any entry into these programs.
The only LLM program in the world which interested me was at UGA. It was a directed study of comparative legal theories under the esteemed base master of such philosophy, Dr. Alan Watson. The only PhD I would consider was in political theory or philosophy and, with a concentration in natural law and libertarian/anarchist views.
I demanded, or would have, freedom to explore my own paths. I also included teaching experience as a must have.
My quest never got very far. In short order life dictated I abandon my beloved job and move to a less than desirable locale, practicing less than desirable law. Thus began my professional “downfall.” I ended up, for a brief time, a miserable prosecutor. When I could no longer stand that I entered private practice. Several were my shinning moments but I never regained even a shadow of my former fit and happiness.
Everything happens for a reason. Today, through my writing, I am finally able to pick up where I left off nearly a decade ago. This time, it’s my way on my own by necessity. One, I doubt there is any organized poly sci department in America which would or could house me. That’s fine – times have changed. Today we have YouTube and Udemy. Two, Alan Watson retired and took with him the last vestige of true legal study in the country. Again, I’m on my own. Autodidact or die …
I visited Watson’s office a few times back the. It was my intention to interview him and to be interviewed myself to check compatibility. Per my usual laziness I always showed up unannounced. He was never in. I have never met the man. Perhaps that all was a sign. My little daughter did accompany me on one visit – we had a great time – as such the trip was anything but a waste.
The political science department did receive me for an arranged visit. I toured the facility and we had a good discussion. There was a real chance things might have worked out. Nearly all the faculty members were “liberals” but they seemed to tolerate my extremism rather well. They were open to my ideas of a very loosely structured curriculum and my desire to teach while I worked. They also deemed an attorney in the department a plus. But, as I said, life intervened.
On my afore-mentioned tour I passed many faculty office doors. Many were closed. One was covered in signs and stickers. One of the stickers read: “Anarchy is better than no government at all.” That stuck in my jumbled mind. I think I used it as a title once …
“Anarchy” has various meanings to different people. Of late the term has been used to describe somewhat disruptive protestors of modern socio-economic life. These, to me, appear more like pro-communist or anti-capitalist activists than anything else. Communism is in my mind the polar opposite of anarchy. Then again, I don’t have a monopoly on the word. I suppose this crowd is descended from the mad bomb throwers of yesteryear.
Tolkien, a hero of mine, described his own political philosophy as anarchism. The specifically rejected the bomber disposition; rather, he merely wanted to leave others alone in exchange for equal treatment. This position is as close to my own as any.
Anarchy and “no government” as the door sticker alluded are often used synonymously. However, I don’t think they are one and the same.
Many consider anarchy the equivalent of chaos. To them it is the complete absence of any controls, political or societal, and could only lead to pandemonium. Their views are understandable. For 10,000 years we have been trained to accept some degree of authority outside of ourselves and over us. As society has evolved (or fallen) government and society have also become synonymous. They are not.
One can speak of the American or French or Japanese cultures and traits without the slightest regard for their respective governments. Government did not create the beauty of the natural world. Nor does it bring happiness to small family gatherings. Though they might claim otherwise, politicians had nothing to do with the development of symphony, football, pizza or the quiet enjoyment of an evening cigar.
Anarchy does represent a form of governance. It is one that stems from the natural freedom of association between civilized people. Heavy-handed policies, tactics, and laws are most unnatural. Too many repeat the phrase “government is a necessary evil.” At least they acknowledge the evil but the institution is just that – evil but unnecessary.
Think of anarchy as “Golden Rule” government. Each affords the other respect and vows not to violate the other’s rights and freedoms. Anarchy is freedom. Freedom is happiness.
Yes, not all people are civilized. Criminality is a continuing cost of original sin. Somewhere in time someone postulated the state’s main purpose was to protect the good people from the bad. History shows this premise is a total failure. Governments are typically the worst violators of freedom and dignity. They also have the nasty habits of coercing decent people into supporting and paying for their depravity and of criminalizing private attempts to disrupt real criminal activity.
In the absence of such retarded controls the free would be able to – individually or in concert – using their strength and conscious – shame, disrupt, or terminate undesirable elements.
Other things government is supposed to do, but which it can’t do well and did not invent, are better left to private cooperation. Roads, schools and defense are all possible without state intervention. And they all predate government.
Many a good, libertarian man I know have said to me (almost in desperation) “you have to have some government!” No, I do not. I have reached a point where I am content to manage my own affairs and relations. Perhaps they real mean “they have to have government.” They don’t. It’s the conditioning of 10,000 years at work which convinces them otherwise.
Anarchy isn’t better than no government. It is the best government.
Note: I realized upon finishing this one that it’s as much about me as my pet philosophy. The two seem intertwined. Funny. I don’t care much for structure and tend to live out a life of personal anarchy. I have to admit that for all the foibles it works out pretty well.
16th Amendment, abortion, activists, America, anarchy, Anti-Federalists, Articles of Confederation, attorneys, Bill of Rights, case-law, Coca-Cola, commerce clause, Congress, Constitution, Constitutional Law, Courts, dissent, Dred Scott v. Sandford, drones, due process, equal protection, Federal Reserve, First Amendment, freedom, General Welfare Clause, Germany, government, Jacobson v. Mass., Japan, John Marshall, judges, law, law school, legal education, Liberty, liberty interests, Max Tucker, McCulloch v. Maryland, Michael Bloomberg, murder, National Security, Natural Law, Necessary and Proper Clause, New York, Ninth Amendment, ObamaCare, patriotism, philosophy, professors, Rand Paul, republic, rights, Roe v. Wade, science, scrutiny, Second Amendment, slavery, States, stict construction, students, Supreme Court, tariffs, taxation, taxes, Tenth Amendment, The People, United States, voting, War Between the States, Washington, wheat, Wickard v. Filburn, World War II
This article is an extension of my recent columns on The Constitution, https://perrinlovett.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/the-united-states-constitution/, and Legal “Education,” https://perrinlovett.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/legal-education/. One would think that the matter of Constitutional law would have been covered in my article on the Constitution itself – unless one also read my treatise on law schooling.
Oddly, in my experience, the Constitution itself is not required reading for Constitutional law classes. Rather, some imported parts of the document are set forth in the text-book used by the professor. This strikes me as intellectually dishonest and unwise, akin to using a dangerous power tool without first reading the directions. Herein, I briefly cover the usual course material from such as class. The professors, many of whom have never been in a court, let alone argued for or against the Constitution, regurgitate the rulings of different courts regarding a limited number of subjects. While there is an occasional discussion of the reasoning behind the opinions, they are generally viewed as sacred, unswerving law. Rare instances where history has determined the rulings to be invalid (i.e. Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857)– slavery is okay pre war between the States) are swept under the proverbial rug, written off as mistakes made due to the prevailing thoughts of the cases’ times.
(Prof. Laurence Tribe’s ConLaw Book. Google Images.)
As I have written elsewhere, no reference to Natural Law is made and no critical thought is given to the “why” behind the laws. As Max Tucker wrote recently, any student who dares to pose dissenting views or arguments is detested noticeably by the other students and the faculty. Rarely, student are given the opportunity to delve into the deeper meanings of the cases they study. I was fortunate to be able to write a short essay on the effects of Scott, in which I decried its universal sadness and the role it played in the schism in our nation circa 1861. Part of my essay was read aloud to the class by our professor – another rarity, a former practicing attorney. My points were well accepted. Of course, I had the benefit of over a century of progress on my side. Other topics, which require hypothetical deconstruction, are roundly ignored.
As with all other areas of the law, Constitutional law has degenerated into a study of the constantly shifting case-law which arises under the Constitution. By the way, I always capitalize the “C” in Constitution out of reverence for the document and its place in our Republic (I do the same for “Republic” too). I have explained my philosophical troubles and doubts about the Constitution but, due to my sworn allegiance to it, I am honor-bound to defend its ideals.
Case-law study is important and has a valid place in the legal practice. After all, most attorneys make a living pushing various issues in courts through individual cases. Each provision of any law is subject to some interpretation as part of its application to the circumstances of the real world. The trick of “strict construction” application of the Constitution is to adhere as closely as possible to the text and plain meaning of the old parchment. I follow strict construction as my approach to most laws, in and under the Constitution. The first fork of any analysis is to determine if the issue scrutinized is compatible with the underlying law. If the two are compatible, then the analysis shifts to application of your set of facts to the law. If there is an incongruity, then it is necessary to decide whether the law is improper or if the facts are insufficient for action.
Here’s a brief, over-generalized example, ripped from the recent headlines!: Mary lives in New York City; she is an avid consumer of Coca-Cola beverages, particularly in large volumes. Mary went to the corner store in Hell’s Kitchen and ordered a 40-ounce frozen Coke treat. She was informed by the clerk that a drink of such heft was just outlawed by the wise and magnanimous mayor of NYC, Michael “Soda Jerk” Bloomberg. Mary, offended and hurt, contacts an attorney in order to take action against the mayor and the city. Her attorney files a lawsuit seeking an injunction or some other remedy to force the city to curb its policing of soft drink size. Upon reviewing the case, a judge decides that NYC’s ordinance is too vague to be enforceable and strikes it down accordingly. Mary happily continues on her guest for obesity. This represents proper application and analysis of the law and the facts – in this case Mary’s freedom to drink liquid sugar in peace.
Had Mary had a more pressing cause – say a desire to legally and permanently rid herself of a troublesome in-law and she requested her attorney file a similar action to invalidate New York’s statute against murder, her attorney would have likely declined the case. If he was a fool, and filed an action anyway, the attorney would lose as any court would side with the law irregardless of Mary’s malicious desires. While it is proper to allow peaceful people to purchase and consume products of their desire, it would be improper and an affront to Natural Law, to allow someone to kill another person without good cause (i.e. self-defence).
These examples are extremely simple, but they demonstrate my core points. The problem in the law has arisen from the over deference to certain laws as applied to the real world. Today, the Constitution is not interpreted as strictly dictated by its own terms or by my previous explanation of the powers it grants. As I noted before, a few select clauses have been given immortal omnipresence to the extent the entire document has been rendered a nearly lost cause. All of these clauses give extra, unintended authority to the government to regulate and control everything. Through various cases over the years, the courts have essentially made up the law or, at least by their interpretation of the laws, have allowed over-reaching actions of the government to stand as legitimate.
Popular of late is the criticism of “activist judges” who take on the role of a legislator in their quests to rewrite the laws of Congress. Some courts have gone so far as to divine new rights and powers mentioned nowhere in the Constitution. Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) is a poster case for such activism. In Roe, the Supreme Court opined that abortion of unborn children is a right of pregnant women. This right stems, allegedly, from the women’s “liberty interest” in their own bodies. While not found in the text of the Bill of Rights (or elsewhere), this right does exist and should be protected. However, the right, like all rights, has limits. The high Court did not adequately consider the rights of the unborn children to be secure in the integrity of their own bodies during its decision. Instead, the Court issued an incomprehensible psuedo-scienticifc approach to determined when a life becomes a life. Medical science has definitely answered any related questions in favor of the unborn. However, as is, about 1 Million children are murdered every year thanks to the Roe decision. This was a case of improper balancing of competing interests under the umbrella of the law.
I do not roundly condemn “activists.” Sometimes it is advantageous for a jurist to heavily scrutinize the law if the law actually impinges on protected rights. The New York soda decision is a good, if oddly worded, example. Problems happen when judges do not universally review the impact of a law, standing or undone. It is also impermissible in a Republic for a court to institute new law – the domain of the legislature only.
I will herein briefly explain a few of those key clauses and ideas of the Constitution which have given the federal government unlimited power over your lives. These are the basis for Constitutional study in law schools. In summary it suffices to say that they can and do anything they please, without hinderance.
The General Welfare Clause
This clause purportedly allowed Congress to use its defined powers for the betterment of all people. It has been held it “has never been regarded as the source of any substantive power conferred on the Government of the United States or on any of its Departments.” Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905). However, in conjunction with other provisions, the clause has been used to justify countless spending sprees directed towards the profit of a select few, often at the expense of the People.
The Commerce Clause
Congress has the power “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.” Courts and commentators have tended to discuss each of these three areas of commerce as a separate power granted to Congress.” Constitution, Art. I, Section 8, Clause 3. Rather than regulating commerce between the listed entities, this clause has been egregiously abused to empower Congress to regulate anything which can conceivably occur wishing any of the stated territories. The poster case of the clause is Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942) in which the Supreme Court declared that wheat grown by a farmer may not necessarily be used privately by the farmer because such use (bread baking) might negatively affect interstate commerce, the ability of bread companies to sell the farmer bread. While defying belief, this case and its ilk are recited as if dictated by Jesus by law professors coast to coast. The Commerce Clause saw minor setbacks in the 1990s but it remains as the basis for most criminal and civil statutes enacted by Congress. Arguing against commerce connections in court is as successful as herding alley cats. I know this from personal experience.
The Necessary and Proper Clause
This clause, known also as the “elastic clause,” appears in Article I, Section 8, Clasue 18. It provides that Congress can authorize the steps required to implement their other enumerated powers. The Anti-Federlists argued against this provision, fearing it would allow the central government to assume endless power in the name of affecting those valid programs instituted under the named authorities. Turns out they were right. In conjunction with the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper clause has been used to justify federal intrusion into everything. It was necessary and proper to prohibit farmers from utilizing their own crops to preserve commerce, and so forth.
“Patriotism” is regarded as the last refuge of a scoundrel. Frequently, it is the first. There exists an idea that an allegation that a legal measure is warranted in order to preserve security or defeat some enemy regardless of any other factors. Frequently, the government will assert this as a defense in a court case in order to avoid any discussion of the underlying subject matter (torture, internment of citizens, etc.). This tactic usually stops the case dead in its tracks. In a true emergency such a policy might serve a valid purpose. However, as we now are told we live under perpetual threat of all sorts of impropriety, the argument is used as a universal repeal of our rights. History indicates that “emergencies” never go away. For instance, 68 years after winning World War II, we still station troops in Japan and Germany. We also have a portion of our incomes withheld prematurely for taxation purposes – this was supposed to be a temporary war-time measure of WWII. History also shows that a government will do anything to maximize its power under a security “threat,” including the manufacture of threats from nothing.
“That the power to tax involves the power to destroy; that the power to destroy may defeat and render useless the power to create….” Chief Justice John Marshall, McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. 316 (1819). Governments have proven themselves able to destroy just about anything, they create next to nothing. Originally, our government was funded by tariffs and import fees and simple requests to the States for assistance. The advent of the 16th Amendment gave Washington awesome power to take as much money as the need from the people’s labors. The illegal Federal Reserve scheme allows them to create additional monies at will. The courts have constantly upheld the power of taxation even when Congress didn’t know they were implementing a tax. See: The Obamacare decision, Slip Opinion 11-393, June 28, 2012. Taxation gets its own law school class – where it is worshipped like a god. Dissenters are frowned upon as heretics (I know…).
A Few Rights
Over the years, several levels of scrutiny have been assigned to several pet rights. I am suspicious of each of these levels and will not bore you with their application. For the most part they apply rights based on classification of persons and against the backdrop of government “interests.” It is interesting that usually deference is given to a particular law; the law is presumed Constitutional absence some showing that it is an abuse impermissible under one of the abstractly devised levels of scrutiny. I would prefer deference to the Liberty of the People, with the government left to prove conclusively their law does not infringe that right or that any infringement is necessary in order to secure greater liberties for all.
Most Constitutional law teaching about “rights” center on the First Amendment. There is usually a class devoted singularly to the subject. The First is worthy of great attention. However, too often the cases studied thereunder tend to regard outrageous acts. Rather than securing rights to fundamental speech for example, such as protesting abortion, educating potential jurors, and protecting free speech during an election, the courts have wasted much time protecting things like naked dancing and wearing offensive sloganed t-shirts.
Voting rights, due process, and equal protection in general have also received great review. However, given the steady deterioration of fundamental due process and equal protection, it is obvious there is a systemic bias towards the government over the free people. For example, Rand Paul’s protests aside, next to nothing has been done in response to the President’s plan to murder Americans in America using drones and no legal process. The scheme is likely to survive (hopefully unused) due to deference to vague assertions of “national security.”
The rest of the Constitution is left in the dark void of undecided law. It is either taken for granted that such matters will be resolved in due course by the courts or simply that the provisions have no effect. In law school I was bluntly told that the Second, Ninth and Tenth Amendments didn’t exist. I found this hard to believe. Now, with several positive court cases to lean on, the Second has been given some legitimacy though many “scholars” still remain grounded in the ancient, misdirected past. On Tuesday, March 19, 2013 I will attend a symposium on the Second Amendment, replete with reference to these lost interpretations. I have several questions sure to generate discussion and maybe laughter among the gathering. Join me if you will.
If you teach Constitutional law, incorporate the actual text into your class. It could be a prerequisite, covered at the beginning of the semester and then referred to during the subsequent discussion of cases. Attorneys need to familiarize themselves with the text of the Constitution, everyone else should too.
Together, each of us acting as we may, we may be able to slowly restore a rational teaching and application of the Constitution. Perhaps someday we will return to the looser confines of the Articles of Confederation, allowing the member States of the Union (closer to their respective citizens) to affect policies towards the People. With an eye towards ultimate freedom, I can envision an even less restrictive society. I am reminded that “anarchy is better than no government at all.” I’m not sure society is ready for that level of responsibility yet. Someday…
academic, accounting, Athens, business, career, CEO, classics, college, corporations, deception, Donald Trump, education, failure, finance, GA, interests, law school, lay offs, lies, MSU, muddles, old people, people, philosophy, racket, real estate, scholarship, the American dream, The Time Given, Trammell Crow, truth, UGA, UVA, What Will They Learn, youth
Given the popularity of my postings on the law, generally and regarding specific topics, and given the inclination of so many people to ask me about becoming a lawyer and what it’s like, I thought I would write something about legal education in America. It won’t be pretty but it will paint a good overall picture of the modern training lawyers undergo. First, however, I thought I would write something about the undergraduate experience which precedes law school. That’s what this article concerns. It is mainly drawn from my experiences at the University of Georgia in the early – mid 1990’s.
As my personal collegiate experience is somewhat dated (ugh….), I have tried to incorporate a little news concerning more modern college education as well. So, this piece is really about my personal muddling with an updated, universal background. I hope it serves as a guide of sorts for those entering college or already there and struggling to decide what to make of the situation. For those you who have already completed your formal education, I hope this resonates with you. It’s up to us to enlighten the younger generations so that they may achieve their full potential.
College today is much the same as it was back then. Modern students have a wealth of on-line information to assist them in picking the right school and program for them. I wished we had had that. I recently stumbled across a fantastic website that goes beyond the normal rankings and summary guides. Check out this site: http://www.whatwilltheylearn.com/. It’s an initiative from numerous alumni to assess what, if anything, colleges teach these days. The results are eye-opening. Of the 1000 or so schools surveyed only 21 got an “A” based on required core curriculum. I’m proud to say my alma mater was among them. Several famous and pricy schools did not fare so well. Watch their video too.
Back to yours truly. I started college in 1993 immediately after graduating from high school. I applied to and was accepted to three colleges (I think it was three, I’m lazy). I got accepted to Mississippi State University (in my original home town) and the University of Georgia, where many of my relatives attended. I think the other school was UVA; I attended classes for a week as a high schooler and was most impressed.
MSU offered me a scholarship, I think it was a full ride. My dad had been a professor there and apparently they needed someone from Georgia. I probably should have accepted but, given my poor choices in college, I would have likely lost the scholarship anyway. In the end, I went to UGA. The Georgia HOPE scholarship was recently enacted at the time. My high school grades were excellent and so I would have qualified. Unfortunately, my parents made something like 50 cents over the family income maximum. The next year they raised the maximum but by then my grades were so dismal it didn’t matter. I must say I had a great time in Athens. The city is overrun with bars and hot girls and there is always something to do. Oddly, none of that matters looking back.
I have since analyzed why I did as poorly as I did in the early half of my college career. I used to blame the school and several professors in whose classes I did poorly. I have come to the conclusion though that any failings (pun intended) were my fault only. I had considered that perhaps I was not ready for college. Then again, I’m not sure what I would have done instead at that time. I wanted to continue my formal education, I just went about it all wrong. I was not true to myself.
I have devoted a whole chapter in The Time Given (not long now….) to being true to yourself. My understanding of the concept comes from my own self-betrayals. In high school and for the first few years I was at UGA I was under the delusion of the great “American dream.” George Carlin once said, “it’s a dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.” I know what he meant. The dream went something like this: You go to college to get a valuable degree. The degree gets you a ticket to work for a big corporation for 30 or 40 years. By working hard for your employer you get rich and enjoy a comfy retirement. You can vacation in Destin, Florida and such.
I tried to take the dream to its extreme conclusion. I just knew I had to major in business in order to get that golden job ticket. I started out as a general business major and then switched to a speciality in real estate. UGA’s real estate program is excellent and I did learn some things in my concentration classes which came in handy at Trammel Crow and in my brief real estate sales career. I also found some of my advanced economics classes fascinating – but only from an academic standpoint. The rest of the core business classes bored the ever-loving hell out of me. My grades reflected this. I recall mornings when I remembered I had to drop classes I had not attended all semester – on the last day possible. Still figures into some of my nightmares. I recall passing finance my reading the booklet for my fancy calculator the night before the final exam. I wasted a semester in a business MIS class that covered things like floppy disks and the new-fangled internet, whatever that was. That all says something – I’m not sure what…
The “hard” problem I found with an undergraduate business degree was that you studied based on scenarios only a CEO would encounter. Then you get into the job market and discover only entry-level jobs are available. It’s kind of depressing. I really lucked out with Trammell Crow and it took me months of interviewing for scores of other positions to find. Another problem is that once you’re on the job, they retrain you completely. I’d say only 10% of what I managed to learn ended up being useful on the job.
If you want to enter business, I think it’s best to get an MBA. It also helps to study something you have connections to (the family business, etc.). Otherwise, you’re wasting your time. I wasted a lot of the stuff.
The “soft” problem I had was that I didn’t really want to be a business major. I look like a businessman but I have the heart of a history professor or a latter-day dragon slayer, neither of which benefit from a class in marketing. This was made clear to me during my senior year. For whatever reason I finished most of the required classes and had an abundance of electives to take. Out of curiosity I wound up in a number of classics (ancient Greece and Rome) and philosophy classes.
Suddenly, I was immersed in subjects that spoke to me about eternal issues I could relate to everyday American life. I also got “A” after “A” and it wasn’t hard to do. I liked the programs. I identified with the programs. I dig ancient wisdom and logical discourse more than ROI statements and accounting baselines.
It occurred to me a little late in the game to change majors and stick it out. I probably should have done that. At the time though, the same stubbornness that got me into my plight held me there. I made excuses like “I’m almost done. I need to settle, get out, and get that dream job.” Ha! The job I got was great. I foresaw myself rising in the ranks and becoming a developer, another Donald Trump. I was good at it. I thought I could even open my own business and build skyscrapers. Then, they called me one day and thanked me profusely for my hard work. I smelled a raise. Then they said the division was closing and I was no longer needed. More depression followed. This is the real American dream – you lie to yourself, waste time and money, and end up getting laid off after giving 150%. Well, it was the dream. I think most people have to settle for permanent unemployment or food stamps these days.
After a year of flopping around I headed to law school. It was my attempt to right my ship. It almost worked. I know now that while I love the concept and theory of law, present and historical, these are not good reasons to go to law school. I’ll have more on this in my coming column on the legal education racket.
I should have gotten a Ph.D. in political theory or history. Then I would have been primed for a happier career in higher education, pondering the big ideas and helping young people seek questions and answers. I’m currently trying to re-route myself that way. This blog is a grand outlet for my academic pursuits. I’m delighted by the support I have received so far. I plan to press forward regardless of what kind, if any, formal institution I end up in. I don’t mean an “institution” where I weave baskets…
Counting the four years I was locked up in high school, it’s been about 24 years getting around to being honest about my ambitions. I have been extremely lucky in the alternative. I’ve had the opportunity most people don’t get in the business and legal fields to interact with academics, statesmen, titans and ticks of all stripes. I have also been able to strike a few blows for freedom over the years. Everything happens for a reason and I have accepted my long way home.
I hope you, dear readers, find and accept yours too. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you. I genuinely like helping people. It’s really why I’m here.