Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thank God for Elizabeth Warren

By Victor J. Ward

I have been working on a piece regarding reparations. That, plus the general busyness of life has kept me from writing. But, a couple of articles on EPJ got me thinking about some things. One was Bob's post about Ron Paul's comment that people are born libertarians. The other was the post about Elizabeth Warren's 11 rules for Progressives.

I like to say that I graduated in the top 99% of my law school class. Some people get confused and think that that is really good. If you graduate in the top 10% of your class, that's really good. If you graduate in the top 25%, that's pretty good. If you graduate in the top 50%, you usually don't talk about it. If you graduate in the top 99%, well, enough said.

When I was in law school, there were many opportunities that I could have taken -- even for a poor student -- and those opportunities could have paved the way for my legal career. But, I did not know of said opportunities, and I was too ignorant or proud or embarrassed or some combination of the above to ask about said opportunities.

I took the Bar exam six times before I finally passed.

Before passing, I can remember driving around
the Marina District in San Francisco and driving on University Avenue in Palo Alto. These were (and are) the areas where the young, hip, wealthy individuals lived and socialized. You would find your lawyers, doctors, investment bankers, MBAs, and entrepreneurs hanging out in those areas.

I was driving a 1992 Honda Civic that needed a new alternator belt. For those who don't know, when a car needs a new belt, the car makes this high-pitched screech as it travels down the street.

I felt like a loser and a fool: I couldn't pass the Bar exam; I couldn't get a job; and I was hanging around people that I deemed smart and intelligent. These were people who went to your powerhouse schools: Harvard, Stanford, Yale, University of Chicago. They could talk about the law; they could talk about economics; they could talk about politics. When I would fellowship with these people, I just kept silent, usually out of intimidation.

There were a couple of things that helped change my thinking. First, when I was growing up, I loved sports, and I loved to win at sports. As both a participant and as someone who watched, I never wanted my team to be equal; I wanted my team to be better. I wanted to win. I did not grow-up in a time where everyone got a trophy. I grew-up in an era where people believed that as long as both teams operated within the rules, both teams were content to see who was better.

Second, when I was attending Business school at Santa Clara University, I had a professor who received his undergraduate degree and MBA from Chicago, and received a Masters and PhD from Harvard. He then taught at Harvard Business School for several years. I asked my professor what the difference was between Harvard students and Santa Clara students. He said, "Nothing, except that Harvard students typically have some experience because they have worked on Wall Street. And, you realize, Harvard students go there, not necessarily for the education, but to make connections."

When he said that, it was as if scales fell from my eyes. I no longer saw myself as someone who was inferior. I no longer felt intimidated by the degree after someone's name. I no longer looked at people in positions of power -- whether they were professors or politicians or judges -- as individuals who had superior mental ability.

I now saw the so-called powerful as just people, and I listened to the so-called powerful as I would any ordinary person. If these people were talking nonsense, I felt completely fine in calling them on their stupidity. Sure, people were going to have expertise in different areas. But, as someone once said, "You can use logic without statistics. You cannot use statistics without logic."

So, whatever a person was saying had to pass the test of simple logic.

Once the veneer came off, it was impossible to put back on. More importantly, stripping the veneer was such a freeing feeling. I was no longer imprisoned by my past, because I no longer felt intimidated by other people's past.

I recognize a couple of things about statists and those who love the establishment. First, a lot of these folks are behind the "every kid gets a trophy movement." They want to promote equality, but nothing shatters equality like competition. Do the Miami Heat feel equal to the San Antonio Spurs? No. Did Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos say that the Super Bowl was unfair because the Seahawks had faster, bigger, harder-hitting players? No. Did the Germans say it was unfair that they had to travel to Central America (where no European team had ever won the World Cup), play the host country, and then play one of the best teams with one of the best players? No.

Sports teach you to get an advantage, and then ride that advantage as far as you can.

Sports teach you to look at the scoreboard as a judge of how you did.

I am not saying that someone cannot learn other great things apart from how to win. I am saying, however, that looking at the score and winning is a great thing, for it teaches you about life. In life, there are going to be winners and losers. In life, you will have advantages and disadvantages. In life, some things will be "fair," and some things will not be.

Deal with it if you want to succeed.

I also recognize that professors at establishment schools have to continue trumpeting their degrees and criticizing the free market because that's all these professors have.

When a person gets their PhD, they must defend their thesis/idea in front of their dissertation committee. This committee is comprised of other people who have a PhD. If unsuccessful, the candidate gets to try again. If successful, the candidate gets to join the club.

In the free market, the committee is comprised of the innumerable consumer. If the real-world committee gives you a "No" vote, you lose your money, and you may lose your livelihood. The stakes are extremely high.

I know of several people who got a degree -- undergraduate, graduate, doctorate, or professional -- from an Ivy League school or something of that ilk, but, when they tried to start a business, they failed miserably. The free market does not care where you went to school. The free market does not care if you believe your idea is going to help them. The free market does not care if your idea is new. The free market is all about results.

The free market is all about the scoreboard.

But establishment professors don't want to participate in the no-holds barred sport of the free market because they can't hang. No one would pay for any of their ideas.

Consider Elizabeth Warren's 11 commandments. Remember, she is a United States Senator. She was a professor at Harvard Law School. Some want her to run for the POTUS. Personally, I hope she does, because I want her ideas exposed to more and more light. I want people to see that the intellectually elite are really a bunch of fraudsters.

For instance, she says: We believe in science, and that means we have a responsibility to protect the earth.

Huh? The scientist reveals test results and truth. He/She makes no judgement about what to do with said truth. That comes from the poet and philosopher. So, in effect, she is saying, "Because we believe in something that is value neutral, we are going to champion something that is value based."

Senator Warren, you may not know this, but fresh water cannot flow from a salt water source.

Warren says: "We believe the internet shouldn't be rigged to benefit big corporations, and that means real net neutrality."

She cannot be serious. The biggest thing that is rigged is the government. How can a rigged government be neutral towards anything?

Warren says: "We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage."

Do you know what Warren taught at Harvard Law School? Bankruptcy Law. If Warren had ever operated a business, she would understand Bankruptcy in a completely different light. But, because she has never been an entrepreneur, because she has never had to make payroll, because she has never had to navigate the minefield of federal and state regulation, she only knows Bankruptcy from the sterile and, in some ways, meaningless point of view of the Bankruptcy textbook.

One would think that she would have some basic understanding of what a minimum wage does. Unfortunately, she simply shows that she is bankrupt in thought. Just once, I would like one of these minimum wage advocates to explain why they don't want the minimum wage raised to $100/hr. Or $1000/hr.

My father used to always say, "If something is a principle, then you can stretch it to ridiculous ends and it still holds true."

When you stretch Warren's statement, it rips into thousands of little pieces.

I would be happy to go over each statement, but we all know that everything she said lacked a little something called logic.

But, I want and need her to keep talking, for she helps to reinforce the truth that the elite are nothing but people. Their comments are neither better nor worse because of who they are or where they work or where they went to school. We owe them nothing. We must question them, and when we find them wanting, we must call them on it.

The more they talk, the more ammunition they give us.

So tonight, whether you are a believer in God or not, thank him for the gift that is Elizabeth Warren.

Victor J. Ward  first came across libertarianism by reading Murray Rothbard's Ronald Reagan: An Autopsy and Walter Block's Defending the Undefendable. He holds a law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and an MBA from Santa Clara University.


  1. Nicely done yet again Vic.
    Btw, there was a point in my life in my early 20's where I had to charge a car on my credit card, that I bought from a semi-friend, that needed in a four wheel brake job(that I did myself, charging the parts also) so I could get to work on my own while living in the basement of a good friend who had no money himself and a new child and needed my paltry rent money. I finally got my self a place a few months after, by working for his step father during the day, eating dinner, then doing gardening for his wife at night. Even then, for years I had to tell my landlord of my 1 bedroom, very inexpensive apartment, that two times a year I had to pay the rent late and that I would pay the penalty($35 on a $435/mo rent-this was in the late 90's)....he waived the penalty after the first time thankfully.
    I negotiated tuition to college to be payed for by my employer(my friends step father) and worked during the day while going to school at night for years. (in the end college was a big waste of time for me personally, the only course I can say that legitimately helps me now and then was my 100 level accounting class-which I received in "A" in)
    I routinely budgeted down to $5-10/month in my account for the first couple of years working for him until I worked into higher level sales and had a mixture of hitting the right industry of the right time(getting lucky) and being competent at my job....making both him and me a pretty good amount of money for a good year plus.
    Anyway, even though I grew up dirt poor, I always worked hard even though I had nothing compared to many around me in Detroit, then SoCal, wondering if I would ever get ahead..
    I wear it now as a badge, see it as part of my valuable life training, giving me advantage. I actually had some financial success before having to move into my buddies basement in my early twenties(an even longer story), but my point is that I moved beyond embarrassment(maybe success helps that) during times that were challenging.
    It did take me a while though, because I didn't have the character necessary when I was younger, especially in my teens when my Mom did her best(as a single Mom with three kids) even though it wasn't always sufficient.
    The most embarrassing things to me at the time of 10-15 years old:
    Living in low income housing just outside of Detroit proper and being on Welfare/getting food stamps.(and my Mom didn't have to do that)
    I particularly remember at the time the looks of disdain(rightfully so) from people in line behind us at the old Farmer Jack grocery stores as she fumbled around for her food stamps(they were actually stamps at the time) to buy food. I was 10 at the time, I stopped going to the store with her because of the stigma. Also, my Mom having a car in Detroit that was so rusted out that the driver door had to be welded on because the hinges rusted out and it fell off with all of us in it(Mom, brother, sister), that was a pretty big embarrassment.

  2. cont.

    That same car, which was our lifeblood(and old AMC hornet station wagon), was eventually impounded during a Michigan blizzard on a trip from the same Farmer Jack because my Mom couldn't afford tags. When a police officer pulled my Mom over, he became angry that she couldn't open the welded door and "did her a favor" by pulling the groceries out and dropping her off at home after having her car towed, leaving us carless...suddenly at 12 I realized that embarrassment was better than having no car.
    All my clothes at the time had holes in them or didn't fit(I was teased for having "floods" for jeans), so I was made fun of from time to time in public school as a result. Despite the welfare stamps, there were times we briefly ran out of food(another long story) as a kid....
    It all contributed in positive ways to who I am today, even though I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I started making money at 10 years old by collecting aluminum cans on the side of the road and other place(in Michigan, $.10 each, which at the time was good money). At 14, when I first entered high school, I worked in the school cafeteria to pay for my lunch. I also worked on the weekends washing cars for people in our apartment complex. Basically, I never stopped working for the most part from 14 on....which is what "saved me".
    So embrace the noisy alternator belt. Embrace the embarrassment you felt for the difficult situations you were in, because they will all contribute to your success as you persevere.
    You are so right on the mark in regard to Warren, because her intellectual bankruptcy needs to be made clear, and the failure of her ideas will make it so to everyone...we can't turn the ship around at this point so let them put the throttle down and hit the iceberg.
    Her message is "You can't do it, but we'll help." when the message should be "You can do it and should do it, without anyone's help."

  3. Nick, you should write more. I've always enjoyed your replies. Knowing some backstory helps me understand, even better, where you're coming from.

    Victor, once again a stellar post.

  4. In "I Can See Clearly Now" Dr Wayne Dyer (PHD) mentions that his first book for the public "Your Erroneous Zones" was serialized in the National Enquirer. He was on track to making tenure at St Johns University at the time. He was teased by fellow professors about the National Enquirer and his department head even threatened to cancel his chance at tenure if he didn't stop the excerpts from being published in the rumor rag. He told them all to stick it. "Your Erroneous Zones" went on to sell 100 million copies in 47 languages. Dr Wayne quit his job at St Johns before making tenure.