Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Pain of Loving a Loser

Tonight will begin another painful chapter in my life as a fan of the Miami Dolphins.

In 1975 I was a fourth-grader living in Southeastern Oklahoma.  That meant Dallas Cowboys country.  But, as a young person I was as anti-group as I am today so I was not about to go along with the crowd of Cowboy worshipers - at any cost.

I loved dolphins, the state of Florida (where my aunt from Marathon would send the most beautiful post cards), the ocean and the color aqua.    My parents took me to a park in Texas that summer where I got to see real dolphins for the first time.  These amazing mammals left such a huge impression on me that when August rolled around and football season began I picked the Miami Dolphins as my favorite team.  I did not even know that the Dolphins had won the Super Bowl two years earlier so I could not be accused of being a front-runner. 

I also did not know that this would launch what is now 37 years of suffering.  Massive suffering.

On Christmas day, 1975 I received a beautiful Miami Dolphins winter coat and wool cap.  The first time I wore it to school was on a day it was snowing.  Some jerk Cowboys fan yanked the cap off of my head and threw it on top of a tetherball pole.  I pulled his stinking Cowboys cap off and airmailed it on top of our elementary school.  Guess what our teacher, Mrs. Lambert saw?  Yep.  Just like a good referee, she saw the retaliation, not the original transgression.  I got a beating right after recess to go along with the snow in my hair.

Three years later I did get some measure of satisfaction when Miami beat Satan's team (the Cowboys) in a 1978 regular season game.  Having not learned about avoiding the fleeting joys of revenge, I used stencil art to write down the score of the game - in aqua and orange, of course - and handed out copies to all of the Cowboy fans in my middle school.  The Cowboy fans pointed out that Dallas had won the Super Bowl a year earlier and that I was still waiting to see Miami win one.

In 1983 I was walking home from school in my junior year with the Hugo Daily News.  I opened up to the sports page (there was no ESPN coverage of the draft back then) to see who the Dolphins had selected the day before.  I recall exactly where I was when I uttered the words, "Wow, they got Marino."  I was really excited at the prospect of Miami landing a great quarterback to follow in the footsteps of my childhood hero, Bob Griese (who sent me three different autographs while he was with Miami - a result of me calling him long distance back when unauthorized long distance calls would get you a beating from your mom...)

In 1984 the miracle seemed to have arrived.  Miami got off to an 11-0 start, eventually going 14-2 with Marino passing for 5,084 yards and an incredible 48 touchdowns.  The Dolphins destroyed everyone in the playoffs that year and caused me to lose my mind. 

I was a freshman in college, 92 miles north of my hometown, but still in Cowboys country.  Miami had beaten Dallas on Monday Night Football in December and I made sure when I got back to campus that all the Cowboys fans knew about it.   In January I was was totally insufferable in predicting Miami would win the Super Bowl against the 49ers.  People coming into my dorm room saw my bulletin board decorated as a shrine to Dan Marino, who, I was sure, could not be stopped.

49ers 38, Miami 16.

In about 7-degree weather my car broke down on the way back to my college.  Then, when I finally got to my room at about 2am I discovered that the Cowboys fans had pulled down all of my Marino photos and replaced them with Polaroid photos of a sheep "going number two" on my bed.

That's right.  They went out to the ag barn (my college was largely an agricultural one), stole a sheep, took him to my room, put him on my bed and... well, I guess he got scared because he proceeded to deposit his dinner - or maybe several dinners - on my bed.  I found his deposit, and my Marino photos under the deposit when I returned.  I guess this is where the "Pride cometh before a fall" thing could be found.

I was certain the Dolphins would be back in the Super Bowl following the 1984 season, but 15 years came and went and nothing.

In 2000, as a 34-year old grown man with a wife, a job, kids and everything, I sat in my car weeping like a baby listening to Dan Marino's retirement speech.

Now, 12 years after that, and nearing my 38th season as a Dolphins fan, I have had to endure Miami's collapse into what could only be called, "Laughingstock territory". 

Miami has been beyond horrible over the last 12 years.  Their owners now include Gloria Estefan and the Williams sisters of tennis fame.  Their primary owner, general managers, coaches and players have performed about like Gloria Estefan would perform if she were asked to play quarterback for the Dolphins.

Tonight, Miami is expected to draft a quarterback who has only played a year or so as quarterback, was not even the third or fourth best quarterback in his college conference and who used to be a wide receiver.  He is expected to be picked 8th overall, even though the experts say he should be picked around 40th overall.

It has gotten so bad I would not be surprised if Miami picked me in the second round even though I last played running back 28 1/2 years ago.

Maybe they will pick Serena Williams in round 3, Dan Marino's gardener in round get the idea.

My wife has asked me over the years why  I don't just change teams. 

I keep telling her my suffering will come to an end soon so I can't change. 

I am just not sure at this point if the end of my suffering will be the Dolphins finally winning the Super Bowl or me dying.

Thank you for your time.  As Barney Fife would say, it has been "therapetic".

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Joy of Grading Final Exams...

It is that time of year again.  The weather is gorgeous, the birds are chirping, flowers are blooming and I am stuck in my study reading what can only be called dreck.  I don't think "dreck" is a real word but I once saw an episode of M*A*S*H where Hawkeye threw a plate of terrible food across the room and said that he was tired of eating "dreck". I assumed that meant garbage, which is what I am reading.

Consider this.

One essay question on my macroeconomics final exam asked, in part, why the natural rate of unemployment is expected to rise over the next several years.

One student wrote (and for you newcomers, I never edit for grammar or spelling):

The natural rate of unemployment is expected to rise over the next several years because the economy is going down and will continue to go down.  There is no changement, no good news.  The prices are stay the same, or the price rise up again.  There is no job, and no business, or government is open new job.  All of these facts prove the natural rate of unemployment is expected to rise over the next several years.

No, this answer proves that way too many people think college is a rational option for them when in reality they would be better off learning a trade.  Our country has lied to millions of young people by telling them that everyone needs to go to college to have a good life. 

The person who wrote this scored an 18/100 on the first exam, 23/100 on the second exam and a 31 on the final exam.  Imagine what other things he/she could have been doing instead of working under the false hope that college was a good option.

Until we begin telling people the truth - that is that not all people can handle college and not all good jobs require college - we will continue to ruin  lives with debt and disappointment.

Friday, April 20, 2012

All you need to know about Barack Obama's economics

When Barack Obama became President of the United States he had to pick someone to head up the Council of Economic Advisors.  This very small group provides the president with the economic advice that eventually impacts our daily lives.

Mr. Obama picked Larry Summers to be his first Chief economic advisor. 

Larry Summers was once asked about his views of Nobel-prize winning economist, Milton Friedman who many of you know is one of my favorite free-market economists.

Here is a 33-second clip on what Mr. Summers thinks about Mr. Friedman.  In the next 33 seconds you will learn everything you need to know about why our nation is where it is today under the leadership of President Obama.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Taking bread from our mouths...

In a few minutes I will be in my town's post office mailing a check for $2,074 to the United States Treasury.  This may not seem like much to many of you but this is on top of the well into five figures in income taxes I have already paid for 2011.  According to the federal government I did not pay enough when I paid those five figures so I need to send in a little bit more. 

Today I am painfully reminded of the sage words of Thomas Jefferson the day he became President of the United States:

"A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."

From 1776-1913 there existed no income tax on anyone living in America.  During that time a system of sales taxes, tariffs and excise taxes led to the average American paying about $10-$20 per year in taxes.  Of course during that time we were also largely free of the massive welfare and crony capitalism state we now live in whereby economic parasites bleed our earnings in order to buy their bread (food stamps) or grow the wheat for our bread (farm subsidies for rich corporate farms). 

Today, more than 60% of every dollar we pay in taxes is simply a transfer to another human being who has successfully figured out a way to live off of the fruits of plunder.  In exchange for that 60% we do not get to have the welfare recipient or corporate thief come to our homes to mow our grass, wash our cars or even say, "Hey, thank you for your money...."  Nothing but the hand of greed in our pockets every day - unless we don't pay enough every day and then today we get to pay even more.

The reason we did not have income taxes from the founding of our nation until the 16th amendment was ratified is because the Founders accurately considered "direct taxes" to be a taking of private property without the consent of the governed.  Since the right to property was (and is supposed to be) a "natural" or "God-given" right in the Lockeian tradition, it was understood that income taxation would violate every principle our nation was founded on.  To Jefferson, direct taxation would make us slaves. Slaves? 

Well, yes.  Think about it.  If today I send the Treasury Department an envelope with no money but instead a note explaining my rights as a citizen of this nation, I will first be fined and ordered to surrender my property.  If I refuse, I risk losing my home (my property).  If I stand on my porch with a representation of my 2nd amendment rights the day Treasury officials arrive to take my home, I will be shot or arrested, or both. 

If you can arrive in jail or in the morgue for defending your property from government theft, what else are you but a slave to that government?  All slaves have learned over time that the best way to stay alive is to obey their master.

Therefore, I now leave for the post office to send my master my property in exchange for one more year of "freedom" on his plantation. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Alexander Hamilton, Barack Obama and 'The General Will'

Part of what has been lost in the discussion of President Obama's economic agenda for America is the historical reliance on Alexander Hamilton's application of the Rousseauian belief that there is a "general will" within society that the ruling elite can accurately recognize and respond to - even if the masses do not clearly identify what the general will is.

Jacques Rosseau was a French philosopher who once said, "No aspect of human life is excluded from the control of the general will," and "whosoever refuses to obey the general will must in that instance be restrained by the body politic, which actually means that he is forced to be free."

Alexander Hamilton - one of the Founders who supported this view in his quest to create an American monarchy - frequently argued that the ruling elite in a centralized, powerful federal government were in the best position to understand what the masses needed in order to affect the happiness of mankind.

Of course Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and others vehemently disagreed with this concept that elected officials could centralize the masses and make decisions better than free individuals.  The argument that liberty - organized by self-interested pursuits - would serve mankind better than politicians pushing for the "public good" led to our nation becoming the most economically free and politically peaceful place in the history of the world.....for awhile.

Since the days of FDR our nation has increasingly, interrupted only by the 1980's, become one where Hamilton and Rosseau's political philosophy has gained ground as liberty has faded away.  Two recent events clearly illustrate this fact.

First, the $862 billion stimulus package created by the Obama Adminstration.  This law presumed that the federal government knew best how to manage the economic recovery.  This law assumed that the 'general will' was best served by having government take away $862 billion - plus interest - from the private sector so that professional experts could "plan" our lives for us.  Rather than lower taxes and regulations by a total of $862 billion and trusting that free human beings would know what to do with our own money (property), the ruling elite in effect said, "You do not know what is best for you.  We do.  We will spend your money on what we know to be best for the public good." 

Then came ObamaCare.  President Obama and his minions told us, "You do not know how best to spend your money when it comes to your own health.  Therefore, in order to satisfy the general will, we will force you to spend your money on a product you are currently not purchasing.  If you refuse to purchase the product we will fine you.  If you do not pay the fine we will jail you, ostensibly for the good of all."

What arrogance. 

In 1964 Ronald Reagan said that it is time to decide whether or not we should abandon the American Revolution and confess that an a little intellectual elite can plan our lives for us better than we can plan for ourselves.

He was right.  Barack Obama and our leaders daily plan our lives under the assumption that the ignorant masses cannot rationally plan our own lives.  This is not a new mentality.  Jefferson fought Hamilton (the Barack Obama of the 1700's) every step of the way in an effort to fight off the ruling elite who would ruin our lives with their plans and ambitions.

Hamilton is currently winning.  Whether he wins is up to you and I.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Ozzie Guillen and the First Amendment

I am often asked by my students why people can get fired for making outrageous comments when the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects "freedom of speech".

Ozzie Guillen, the manager of the Miami Marlins might be wondering the same thing right about now.

In case you missed it, Guillen has been suspended from his job for five days (costing him about $150,000 in income) for giving a Time magazine interview where he said he "admires" Cuba's Fidel Castro.   Guillen, a native of Venezuela, tried to crawfish his way out of trouble yesterday in a lengthy apology that included his assertion that he was stupid and naive. 

The Constitution protects the stupid and naive from being imprisoned by our federal government when they say things that reflect their stupidity.  Fortunately for Guillen he does not live in his home country of Venezuela where an equally stupid man (Hugo Chavez) would have no problem having him manage a prison baseball team if he said the wrong stupid thing and the right time.

Here in America, people like Guillen can rest in their beds at night knowing that any number of stupid acts, words, thoughts or deeds will not result in moving into a concrete bedroom so long as no other person's rights to life, liberty or property have been violated.

Yet, what Mr. Guillen has learned - and my Facebooking, party-loving students are also learning - is that the First Amendment does not apply to our employers, prospective employers or institutions of higher learning.

If those who pay our salaries or admit us into graduate school do not like the stupid things we say or do in public they do not have to employ us or accept us in any shape, form or fashion.    My students are learning this the hard way in some cases by rejection letters from universities that were not impressed by Facebook postings of lewd behavior under the influence of a bottle of Jack Daniels.

In a society armed with picture and video-taking phones and Youtube accounts it is not wise - if you are naturally an imbecile - to let people see how much of an imbecile you are.  The Founding Fathers would recommend that if you have something idiotic to say you might want to say it in a way, or in a place, or to a person that puts you at the lowest risk of becoming gainfully unemployed.

Given the number of dumb people I hear talking every day, I would say that the resulting silence would be a welcome change.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Good Capitalists you should give your money to

All of us have had experiences where we voluntarily give our money to businesses who end up being liars or cheaters or lazy or all of the above.  Since I have no way of using Facebook or Twitter to tell you about some of the good guys out there I will use this blog instead.  What follows is a brief list of businesses that I would highly recommend you use if you are ever in need of home repair, car repair, coffee, food or other stuff.

1.  Kalos Services  for home repairs, air conditioning and other construction.
These folks are very professional, extremely honest and do a fabulous job in a wide array of home services.  It is very hard to spend the kind of money that the free market has established for repairs to A/C units, electrical issues, etc.  You can trust this family-owned business to be on-time, honest, reasonable in their fees and friendly.  Located in Clermont, Florida but available in many Florida locations for service.

2. Hudson Tire & Service 10 W Story Rd Winter Garden, FL 34787.    Another family owned business that will give you super fast car repairs and tire services for very low prices.  They do a great job and will not cost you what a dealer would charge.  You can usually have your car back the same day - even on major repairs.  I will never go to a dealer again after having these folks work on my vehicles.

3. Axum Coffee.  O.K., how does coffee fit in right after home and car repairs?  I don't know, but this is my list so coffee is next.  Started by the pastor of Mosaic Church in Oakland, Florida, this downtown Winter Garden, Florida coffee shop gives 100% of its profit to charitable causes in Africa.  I was very skeptical at first that this concept would work - and even told people I did not think it would - but I was wrong and Adam Smith was right. 

Rather than begging people to give money like many charitable causes, Axum gives people something of value first - the best coffee you will ever taste in your life - then uses this voluntary exchange that enriches the consumer and the producer - to help those in need.

4.  Some corporations that are doing right by Adam Smith:  Samsung (we love our television and dishwasher..), Timberland (great hiking boots), Columbia outdoor clothing, Chick-Fil-A, Whole Foods and Stihl (chainsaws and other yard equipment).
Please post your suggestions for others to read.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

All along, I was wrong...

My dad once told me, "Don't think, every time you do, you weaken the nation." 

I think my dad was right.

I have come to realize that many of the ideas that I have held dear to my Libertarian, free market Hayek-loving heart are simply.........wrong.

I have come to realize that raising taxes is not always a bad thing.  In fact, Matt Damon and Warren Buffett are right.  They don't need the money, so why not put it towards things like hunger programs and global warming initiatives?  I am sure rap artists, bench-warming millionaire athletes, the Google guys, billionaire social-media businessmen, lottery winners and a whole bunch of other people don't need all that money either - especially when we have an underemployment rate near 20%.  Putting the money into retraining for those who are structurally unemployed or into hiring more teachers and police officers would be, I am not convinced, marginally better than letting Brad Pitt have another mansion.

I also think the drug war should be fought with greater vigor.  It is morally wrong to subject other people to the disgusting things people put in their bodies.  Who wants to see junkies in the street or our backyards or in the dumpters of our favorite restaurants?  This goes for gambling, prostitution and country and western music too.  I say ban all of these things that make us poorer, degraded or dumber.

Speaking of dumber...we need to ignore the calls of people like me who have argued for the abolishment of government education and instead create smaller class sizes and enhanced funding for public education.  I have been told by teachers that if they made even a tenth of what athletes make our schools would be the best in the world.  Hey, money buys quality so lets do that and watch our kids come to my classes ready to get to work.

Speaking of my classes, I have decided that the students who fail or drop my class (a lot of people) are probably right.  I require too much work, too much reading, too much thinking, tests that are too long, too hard, the wrong color paper and I am sarcastic, rude, too critical of politicians and too steeped in the traditions of free market economics.  From now on I pledge to not let anyone fail, since if they fail it is because I failed them.  When you take my class all you will have to do is show up for most of my lectures, look like you care a little, try your best and you will get at least a C.  After all, the customer is always right.

I also pledge to stop calling Republicans moral statists.  I pledge to stop calling Democrats well meaning, accidental evil socialists.  I pledge to smile more when I am lecturing on John Maynard Keynes, Obamacare, the spending record of George W. Bush, the spending record of Barack Obama, eminent domain, property taxes, Alexander Hamilton and the fairness of income redistribution.

I feel much better.  I can now enjoy the rest of April Fool's Day with a relaxed heart and mind.