Friday, February 27, 2009


In the coming days, my posts may be a bit sporadic because I am moving today. It is incredible how much I depend on my computer; soon the movers will pry it from the wall and put it in a box. I will do my best to get some writing done on other people's computers until my stuff arrives, but please forgive me if I miss a day or two in the next week. By next week at this time, I will be firmly settled and the posts will resume with frequency. Trust me; I have not lost my inspiration, nor have I exhausted our society's supply for satire. I have a long list of issues to discuss, so never fear on that account. And my mind never rests.

Many thanks again to everyone who takes the time to log in and check out my writing. I genuinely appreciate your efforts; I know it can be difficult to sift through my irony. Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy what you find here every day. I will do my best to bring you more of the same.

Wish me luck with the move! I can't wait to get into a new environment. I need change. It helps me write.


Thursday, February 26, 2009



For the last two years, I have grappled with the concepts “fate” and “destiny.” I always heard these words in movies and on television: “It’s your destiny;” “I was fated to do this;” “You can’t escape fate;” “You were destined for greatness.” I never really paid much attention to them. They did not make any sense to me because I believed that I had total control over my life. I made decisions and those decisions led me places. I did not grow up with religion. My father was an engineer and I learned that reason solved problems, not faith. In fact, my family rejected churches and I cultivated a strong distaste for religious institutions. By the time I was 13, I was already calling priests hypocrites and laughing at invitations to “let us pray.” In my world, study and sense yielded real results. Life seemed to be discernible. I felt like I had control.

But things changed as I got older. Through no choice of my own, I met people who took my life in different directions. I created plans and abandoned them, even after I thought my plans would never change. Calamities struck with no reasonable explanation. When I was 28, my father developed cancer and died virtually overnight. A few months later, I lost all desire to practice law after I saw what really motivated lawyers. The next year, my life partner suffered a devastating accident and almost died, leaving me to care for him for the rest of his life. During these trials, I began to wonder whether reason and study really could affect my life’s course. After all, I felt that I always made reasonable decisions in life, yet these calamities struck anyway. I began to reflect deeply on my assumptions about life. Maybe I had been wrong all along. No matter the ultimate answer, my thinking changed. I still trusted my reason in many circumstances. But I did not give it full authority anymore. Life had shown me that things happen for no apparent reason. And I began to approach life with a new openness about truth.

“Destiny” refers to a belief that all events in life have been preordained. For example, if you get up one morning and meet the person with whom you will spend your life, a believer in “destiny” would say that the meeting was “destined;” your choices or “luck” had nothing to do with it. In “destiny,” nothing is incidental. “Fate” refers to a similar belief that events have been planned in advance, leaving us to experience them as the plan unfolds. To a believer in reason, these concepts sound absurd. Reason implies that all truth flows from human sense and the inferences we can make based upon our senses. A reasonable person would reject destiny because there is no way to verify whether some “higher power” planned or ordained events. Reason requires verification. When something cannot be verified, it cannot be believed. To that extent, reason and destiny cannot coexist. Destiny posits that something beyond our senses controls the course of our lives and the world. Reason cannot perceive this “controlling power,” so reason rejects destiny as “superstition” or “irrationality.”

Yet if something cannot be perceived, does that mean it does not exist? This is the core weakness of reason. Reason works only to the extent we assume that all truth must be perceptible to the senses. But suppose there are powers that cannot be perceived. Reason has nothing to say about them. Destiny is an appealing idea because the senses can neither prove nor disprove it. A reasonable man can freely say: “Destiny does not exist because I cannot perceive it.” Still, the same reasonable man cannot counter an argument that destiny exists beyond human sense. If human sense is the only language reason can use to counter arguments, then it has nothing at all to say about phenomena that may exist beyond human sense. That is the reason why I cannot confidently say that destiny is nonsense. I cannot say for certain whether it does or does not exist. My senses do not provide the answer. For a man who once fully trusted reason to answer life’s quandaries, this was a very disturbing thought.

My confusion deepens when I consider my life’s course. Looking back over the years, events seem to have occurred with seamless precision, as in a crafted theatrical plot. I met a person with whom I’ve spent my life. I studied law. I had encounters and experiences that changed my perspective, even though I did not choose to have them. My father died suddenly and I had to reevaluate what life really meant. My values shifted. I began to think that perhaps I really was not in control after all. Perhaps something planned this course beyond my knowledge. What did I know? My senses could not tell me one way or the other. Yet life keeps moving forward with some vague design. I like to think that my choices have an influence on its course. But how do I know whether I was not “destined” to make certain choices? I may or may not believe that. No matter what I believe, I cannot disprove it.

Destiny both comforts and confounds. It comforts because it removes our responsibility for choices. After all, if everything is planned in advance, then nothing we choose will alter the result. Thus, if we accidentally kill someone while driving, nothing we could have done would have changed the outcome. How can we be responsible if it was our “destiny” to kill this person? In a less severe example, suppose we do not get a job we want. How can we blame ourselves for the result if destiny mandates that we do not achieve the goals we intend to achieve?

Destiny confounds because it undermines responsibility and choice. Our society relishes blame. We constantly search for “culprits,” “wrongdoers,” “negligence” and “fault.” Yet fault implies that someone made an improper choice. Because he had the opportunity to choose correctly, we can justifiably punish him when he chooses incorrectly. But if destiny applies, then the “culprit” really had no choice at all; he was “destined” to make the wrong choice. How can we punish someone who simply does what fate intended? How can responsibility exist if a person is destined to be irresponsible? Destiny confounds social order. Social order depends upon enforcing “proper choices” that accord with dominant values. Yet destiny teaches that choice is an illusion. If people have no real capacity to make choices, then it would be perverse to punish them for merely following their allotted course. How could we justify condemning a murderer for “choosing to kill a man” if he really had no choice to make? He was “destined to kill that man.” That was his “allotted course.” Can we punish him for fulfilling his allotted course? Obviously our society cannot countenance this idea, even if it is true. For administrative convenience, the law punishes people for “wrong choices,” even though it cannot verify whether destiny controls people’s choices.

Destiny and fate leave us tantalized. The longer we live, the more it seems that our life’s course follows some prearranged logic. The longer we live, we encounter more and more unexplainable experiences. Why did we have an accident? Why did we meet this person? Why was I standing on that corner that day? Why did my father die? Why did this have to happen NOW? We cannot grasp the reasons. We may vaguely think we have an idea, but our reason cannot supply the answer. And it is difficult to reconcile destiny with social values that tell us we “are in control of our lives” and that we “are responsible for our actions.”

Commercial life embraces the notion that we are in control. Managers’ rhetoric encourages employees to “get out there and make it happen.” Commerce implies purposeful action. It implies that human volition can make a difference in events. On the surface, that appears true. After all, “successful people” all seem to work hard and force their way through to victory. But what about destiny? Was it really their choices that created the result? Or did they make their choices according to a higher power that arranged the sequence? Did they “make it happen,” or were things going to happen in their favor no matter what? Perhaps there was someone with as much drive, intelligence and spirit as Alexander Graham Bell, but destiny chose Bell to invent the telephone, not the unknown man who ended up lonely, misunderstood and forgotten. How do we know? Did Bell’s choices make the difference? Or did destiny intend his choices to make the difference?

Put simply, anyone who believes in destiny must reject the invitation to “go out there and make it happen.” If events and results are preordained, then no frantic effort will alter the course. A successful man may well say: “I got to my position because I worked hard and made all my own choices.” Yet can he also say that he was not destined to make those choices? What placed him in the position to meet the right people and say the right things? What caused his parents to meet and raise him the way they did? Did he control those things, too? In a word, he cannot disprove whether destiny played a role in creating the circumstances that led to his success.

These are truly elusive ideas. True, it is pure speculation whether destiny exists. On the other hand, speculation is our only tool when dealing with imperceptible phenomena. Many people squarely reject destiny because it is a dangerous idea. If they started to believe in destiny, they would lose their vigor for life. They would lose “control,” and people do not like losing control. People cling to the notion that their choices matter because they think their choices define them. Without the power to choose, people cease to be subjects; they become the objects of destiny. Nonetheless, renouncing destiny is more stubbornness than a categorically correct choice. One can reject destiny but not disprove it. By refusing to believe in it, an individual merely manifests his subjective impression that it does not exist; but belief alone does not objectively prove or disprove destiny.

If we even partially embrace destiny, life suddenly seems more bearable. We no longer must blame ourselves when our hopes and dreams do not materialize, for destiny intended a different result. Destiny obviates regret, since it makes no sense to second-guess ourselves for choices we really had no volition to make. Destiny removes the sting from life’s choices because we genuinely have no control over the outcome. If life’s course will be the same no matter what decisions we make, how can we feel bad about our decisions? In short, destiny comforts as much as it confounds.

It is impossible to refute destiny. At the same time, it is extremely difficult to fully embrace it. I try to steer a middle course. I like to think that my choices influence the general course of my life, even if some imperceptible power places me in situations where those choices can make a difference. On the other hand, life’s apparently irrational twists belie the contention that our choices have absolute control over events. Our choices will not save us from life’s inexorable course. Fortune and misfortune follow their own, unknowable path. Experience reveals that we do not have absolute control. And we never will, no matter who tells us to “go make it happen.” I think it best to have faith in our decisions, respect others and try to make ourselves happy, all the while remembering that there are some things we will never know. We can steer that course by at least winking at destiny. In other words, we need not take our hands off the wheel to believe that our final destination may be completely beyond what we reasonably envisioned.

We can try our best to “go make it happen.” But if it doesn’t, we should not regret it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


By : Mr. Cleophas G. Hoistwell, Esq., L.L.M., National Association of Bar Examiners

Our Nation depends on skilled lawyers. We live in a constitutional democracy in which reasonable laws maximize the public good. We eschew arbitrary rule by individual men for rational, collective, republican government. The law orders our society. It gives predictability to our commerce. It provides a voice to express the majority’s morals. And it protects all good citizens from the violence of dangerous deviants. In short, the law both drives and guides our American civilization.

Lawyers serve the law in America. Without good lawyers, Americans would not be able to secure justice through the law. In less orderly societies, aggrieved individuals resort to private vendettas, feuds and crude revenge to win justice. But in America, citizens trust the law to exact revenge on those who act wrongly. Rather than seeking private revenge on a merchant who breaks his promise, a private seller in America goes to a lawyer to seek legal revenge for his injury. At the same time, the accused merchant seeks his own lawyer to advocate his perspective. A neutral court weighs both sides and decrees a just result. That is the heart of American justice: Fairness, impartiality and reason under neutral laws. In this country, creditors do not bludgeon debtors to death when they fail to pay their bills. Instead, they invoke fair legal principles to compel adherence to just rules. In the process, we give everyone a chance to be heard. Lawyers allow us to hear everyone’s voice. That, in turn, allows our courts to render fair, just decisions to resolve disputes.

Our society depends on skilled lawyers for the same reason it depends on an orderly legal system. An orderly legal system provides effective redress for public and private injuries in society. People trust lawyers to secure that redress. Throughout our history, lawyers have done an admirable job. With dogged advocacy, imaginative argument and courage, lawyers have done their part for justice in America. By zealously advancing their clients’ causes under law, lawyers have forged a pathway to truth; and truth illuminates the pathway to justice. We salute our legal profession for its commitment to justice. In even the smallest cases, a lawyer’s work reinforces respect for a legal system in which the People put their trust.

We live in rapidly changing times. Thankfully, the law stands as a familiar bulwark against the forces of change: What was larceny in 1800 remains larceny today. Nonetheless, there is a widening gap between legal theory and professional practice. In decades past, lawyers attended law school to learn legal principles that served them well in their professional careers. State governments recognized that the public needs good lawyers. For that reason, they conditioned a license to practice law upon proven legal ability through a Bar Examination. Bar Examinations serve as a gateway mechanism that assures the public that only skilled lawyers will represent them. For generations, this gateway mechanism proved successful: Lawyers showed their skill by answering essays and reciting legal rules, just as their fathers and grandfathers did before them. Upon passage, successful examinees joined the profession; and the State felt satisfied that its lawyers “knew the law.”

We support the Bar Exam tradition. Our legal system depends upon the past. Legal rules derive their strength from past decisions. Lawyers must constantly look to the past for guidance in the present. Their analytical work is backward-looking: They see what happened yesterday, then attempt to match their arguments to analogous situations today. To do this effectively, lawyers must know how to read rules and memorize them. After all, without an ability to rapidly memorize old rules, a lawyer could not effectively match his case to an old one. The Bar Exam is an excellent way to measure a lawyer’s ability to memorize thousands of ornate legal rules. Although many of these rules have no application at all to modern legal practice, lawyers demonstrate their mental devotion by learning them anyway. Furthermore, lawyers must respect tradition and order. By learning immense amounts of inapplicable legal doctrine before test day, they show that they are willing to accede to any demand made by the State. Lawyers must obey the State that sustains the law. The Bar Exam enforces obedience at the same time it tests loyalty and mental discipline. In short, we will never abolish the Bar Exam, no matter how inapplicable it may be. We believe that the Bar Exam trains lawyers to follow instructions and submit to authority. To that extent, it is eminently applicable: It cultivates values that drive the legal profession.

New lawyers must pass the Bar Exam because old lawyers passed the Bar Exam. It would insult past generations if we allowed new generations to escape this highly significant rite of passage. It does not matter that the legal rules at issue in the Bar Exam do not apply in professional life. Lawyers are a brotherhood with distinct traditions, ceremonies and hierarchies. It would undermine our values to abolish a tradition that forges identity from adversity. No one asks the Army to abolish boot camp. So too should no one ask the legal profession to abolish the Bar Exam. The Bar Exam is the ultimate challenge. It is the ultimate ordeal. It demonstrates the applicant’s endurance, dedication and courage under stress. By dutifully learning inscrutable legal formulas that mean absolutely nothing in everyday life, lawyers show their mental toughness. They show their willingness to do anything for the profession. They build their characters by confronting seemingly insuperable difficulty. We insist that our traditions remain intact. Ceremony matters in both law and life. If we abolish the Bar Exam, which ceremony will be next to fall? The Presidential Inauguration? The fraternity hazing? The first communion?

By passing the Bar Exam, lawyers prove their worth. And because the Exam ultimately protects the public by creating obedient, disciplined lawyers, it would be foolish to eradicate it. It must persist.

We recognize that lawyers must accommodate changing times. Critics say that the Bar Exam should adapt to test more “pragmatic” aspects of legal practice. Currently, the Exam only asks timed essay and multiple choice questions on subjects from every legal field. Some States also require the applicant to compose a “practice-oriented” legal scribbling, such as an office memo or contract. Yet nothing in the Bar Exam directly targets the practice experience. We believe that the public deserves lawyers who more effectively understand how to serve clients. To that extent, we support including new sections in the Bar Exam that test an applicant’s ability to handle “real-life” practice situations.

In practice, lawyers must speak on the phone. They must ask questions. They must gather facts to flesh out their legal theories. They must listen to their bosses. They must review millions of documents to search for damaging admissions or inconsistencies. We support new Bar Exam sections that test an applicant’s ability to handle such practice pressures. The National Association of Bar Examiners has established a committee to determine which aspects of everyday practice best typify the lawyer’s everyday existence. After many months of hard work, we have drafted a new Bar Exam section entitled: “Preparation for Professional Life.” Beginning in 2010, applicants to the Bar of each State will be required to pass the new section. It will comprise 25% of the total test score; failure to pass it will result in overall test failure. Below, we discuss the substantive material at issue in the new section.

In Bar Exam tradition, applicants must answer questions without really thinking about the answers. They must be reflexive. Analysis does not matter as much as rote response. If an applicant can answer a criminal law question about “voluntary intoxication” by immediately choosing an answer that involves “a defense to specific intent crimes,” he will have proved his worth. After all, the Bar Exam tests dedication and memorization. And when an applicant has memorized the material, he knows answers without even looking at the questions. It takes time to reach such automatic facility with material. That is dedication. And that is the mark of a good lawyer. The public does not want original thought; it wants reflexive, responsive service.

In the first new section (“The Drinking Ordeal”), the Association continues the tradition of reflexive knowledge under merciless time pressure. To pass the first part of the “Preparation for Professional Life” Exam, applicants must drink five (5) U.S. gallons of beer or wine within 90 minutes under close supervision by other licensed attorneys. By this ordeal, we will test the applicant’s ability to drink copious amounts of alcohol quickly: A true hallmark of professional practice. Lawyers not only know how to analyze statutes and draft wills; they also know how to imbibe more—and more efficiently—than any layman. By requiring applicants to drain five (5) U.S. gallons of beer or wine within strict time constraints, we also test effective time management. Lawyers must drink; but they also must find time to do so. As many practicing lawyers know, this is no easy task. The new section tests a future lawyer’s ability to drink quickly and efficiently while balancing other responsibilities. By requiring supervision by other attorneys, we guarantee that no applicant can get away with drinking less than the prescribed five (5) U.S. gallons. If an applicant fails to drink the prescribed five (5) U.S. gallons within the allotted time, loses consciousness, undresses, dances on a test table, wets himself, vomits or dies, he fails. The Association recommends that the Drinking Ordeal be administered before all other Bar Exam sections, so that applicants will be forced to write essays and answer multiple-choice questions while completely intoxicated. This mirrors professional practice. Lastly, applicants must pay the State Bar Examination Board for the alcohol used in this section. This not only generates extra revenue for the State Bar Examination Board, but it also teaches a valuable practice lesson: In professional life, you have to buy your own beer.

In the second new section, the Association tests applicants’ humility and obedience. In professional life, new lawyers start low—very low. They do not start out trying cases or meeting with high-grade clients. Rather, they join a hierarchy; more specifically, they join at the lowest possible rung. They may know legal rules. They may be enthusiastic and bright. But that does not increase their political status as the weakest of the weak. Additionally, new lawyers must know their place within the hierarchy. To do that, the second new Bar Exam Section (“The Emasculation Ceremony”) requires applicants to submit to verbal abuse at the hands of senior partners. Applicants will have 120 minutes to complete an impossible task, such as finding a case that does not exist or a statute that has been repealed. When they have exhausted every source to find the nonexistent law, they must go before the managing partner, who will loudly call them “idiots, morons, losers, disgraces” and “incompetent assholes” who “don’t deserve a cent of my money.” The partner will also yell at the applicants and explain that their failure is costing the firm money, and that they have committed legal malpractice. The partner will scream various personalized insults at the applicant, such as: “You fat ass punk, I wanted this shit done yesterday. And fuck you, too.” He will also falsely tell the applicant that every other associate in the firm does their job correctly, but the applicant does not. If the applicant becomes defiant, talks back, makes excuses such as “I’m new at this,” argues or cries during his Emasculation Ceremony, he will fail the section. If he agrees with the partner’s assessment, apologizes profusely and says: “It was all my fault; I will do better next time,” he will pass. This section tests the applicant’s ability to calmly absorb criticism and blame from superiors, an essential skill in professional life. In the Association’s view, defiant lawyers have no place in the profession. Rather, competent lawyers know their place and willingly accept treatment commensurate with their low station.

In the final new Bar Exam section, applicants must demonstrate their ability to accomplish tedious, time-intensive tasks. In modern-day professional practice, law firms achieve financial success by billing as many hours as they can on particular matters. The Association decided that it would test applicants’ ability to practice that skill. To do this, the third new Bar Exam section (“The Sanity Test”) requires applicants to sit alone in a small room in front of a computer screen for 12 hours straight without rising from a very uncomfortable, hard-backed office chair. All the while, rotating supervisors will enter the room to ensure that the applicant does not get up. If an applicant gets up, speaks, turns around, falls asleep, cries out or urinates, he will fail the test. This section tests an applicant’s mental determination to methodically attend to the most mind-numbing tasks for long hours. In the Association’s view, modern legal practice involves many such time-consuming, apparently pointless tasks. Yet these tasks are very important to the firm, because they form the basis for robust billing. In the end, lawyers must understand that they are economic entities, no matter how many legal principles they memorize. The Sanity Test drives that message home.

In sum, the Association believes that these new sections will adequately prepare new lawyers for their careers in the legal profession. As lawyers, we respect tradition and we draw our strength from the past. At the same time, we recognize that we live in a changing legal climate that demands more from practitioners than ever before. By requiring new applicants to pass the new Bar Exam sections on Drinking, Emasculation and Sanity, we are confident that future lawyers will be better prepared for professional life. They will not only master timeless legal esoterica such as third-party beneficiary law and the Rule Against Perpetuities; rather, they will also effortlessly learn to balance alcohol with work, absorb punishing workplace abuse and resolutely attend to the most inconsequential, counterintuitive and meaningless tasks for hours on end. By mastering such technical skills, lawyers will better represent clients. And when lawyers better represent clients, justice prevails.

We are fully confident that the new Bar Exam will secure justice for all by producing perpetually drunk, abusive legal technicians who can stare at computer screens longer than any layman—for reasonable fees. And they will know how to recite the Holder in Due Course Rule, too. If that does not secure greater access to competent legal counsel in America, nothing will.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


By : Chancellor Otto von Bismarck (deceased 1898; resurrected 2009), Imperial German Parliamentary Leader; Inventor of Modern-Day Pension Fund System; Statesman; Critic of Weak and Vacillating Political Action

I am here at the request of the so-called “American Treasury Secretary” named Geithner. According to my preliminary briefing, I understand that your Nation faces a financial crisis. I am informed that your securities markets collapsed following a widespread public credit deterioration (weitverbreitetes öffentliches Kreditverderben). Please forgive me if I sometimes use German constructions to explain myself. Your weak and insubstantial English at times does not possess the conceptual clarity to correctly analyze the problem. In such situations I will also write in German to express my true meaning.

Let me say first that I am glad to be here. I promise to bring effective German solutions to your American crisis. We will overcome this crisis with discipline, sweat, toil, strength and determination. I will not stand for anything other than total victory (Endsieg). In Germany, I united a Nation and forged the greatest economy ever seen in Europe. I have encountered worse problems than yours. I will restore your Nation to prosperity. And I will punish the falsifiers (Verfälscher), rogues (Schurken) and banker terrorists (Bankier-Terroristen) who brought this calamity upon you. None shall escape my justice.

I understand that your financial markets collapsed because you extended too much credit. Your Geithner tells me that any peasant could obtain a loan to buy a mansion or a plasma screen television. Then your banks were surprised that these peasants could not pay back their loans. Why? Your banks should have known that these people could not pay their loans. In Germany, the Staatskasse does not give loans to people who cannot pay them back. If a German cannot afford a television, the Staatskasse does not give him money to buy it. Your American banks did not have discipline. They loaned money so they could boost their stock values and conceal their liabilities. They acted like banker terrorists and scoundrels (Lumpe). In Germany, I made sure that banker terrorists did not rule our people. I firmly brought them under my control. Under my plan, I will carefully monitor banks to ensure that they are honest. I will create a Bank Supervisory Committee (Bankaufsichtsvorstand) to carefully check their books every month. I will tolerate no fraud or misrepresentation. If I suspect that a bank is loaning money to boost its own accounts despite a borrower’s poor financial health, I will call that bank before the Bank Discipline Board (Bankdisziplinaufsichtsrat). I will impose fines on these scoundrels and publicly declare them Banker Terrorists. Borrowers do not deserve to suffer for the machinations of Banker Terrorists. Under my regime, aggrieved borrowers will have a right to cancel unfair mortgages with Banker Terrorists.

I will take swift action. Your so-called “Congress” takes far too long to act. I will immediately discipline the banking industry. We do not have time to debate. We must advance all along the line. We will not retreat. You rapacious Bank Terrorists (Ihr raubenslustigen Bank-Terroristen)! You deserve to be disciplined. How could you let your greed blind you to the good of this Nation? Didn’t you see that the People could not afford the homes you sold them? Instead, you thought about yourselves. Yes, the government now gives you bailout money. But you will not get away so easily under me. You will publicly appear before the People on national television and beg forgiveness for your greed. I will personally reprimand you for being undisciplined rogues and have you whipped for insolence. We will not solve this crisis unless you Americans change your greedy ways. I will make an example out of these greedy Banker Terrorists and ruthless Money Pirates (willkürliche Geldpiraten).

In Germany, I invigorated the economy by intertwining government aid with economic enterprise. I knew that I could not allow private labor barons (Arbeitsbarone) to do what they wanted all the time. That is why I instituted rigorous government oversight in business. I imposed minimum wage and child labor laws. I permitted collective bargaining and I even provided State health insurance because I knew that private business would not. I created a government pension fund in 1884 so that old people would not go into poverty. The Imperial German government understood that it represents the People; and we had an obligation to care for the people. Yet here the government does not do enough to care for the people. You let businesses run free and let workers go without medical care. You merciless industry captains (Ihr unbarmherzigen Industriehauptmänner)! You wonder why the Nation is in crisis. I will tell you: Because you only thought about yourselves! You have no discipline. You did not consider how your actions would affect the People. You have no sense of honor or shame. Yes, the government needs you. But you also have obligations to the government and the People. Under my regime, I will scrutinize you. No longer will you be concerned solely with profit. Now you must publicly account for yourselves. If you do not, I will have you paraded shirtless in front of your workers and flogged. That will put some discipline into you, you greedy scoundrel (Du gieriger Lump)!

Recently your government agreed to pay $782 billion to help floundering banks and companies. You also allocated funds to provide for increased government health care and unemployment insurance. This is a good step, but you must do more. If you had been more disciplined in the beginning, you would not have been in this position. But there is no use debating the past. Today we confront a Depression and we have no time to bicker. We will overcome this mess with blood and iron. That means we must stand up to the problem and bravely fight it. That means the government must spend money in order to save the People from ruin. What good will your government be if the People are destitute? They will overthrow you unless you do something now.

Your Republicans do not seem to understand that. Are you mad? You do not want the government to take action to confront this economic crisis? You do not want to spend any money? How do you propose that we rescue banks and employers? By sitting around and talking about tax cuts? You cowards! I do not like spending money, either. But in these circumstances we do not have the luxury to fantasize about unbridled free market virtues. Yes, it would be nice to cut taxes to allow more enterprise. Yet if we do that now, the People would starve. I believe in reason. Reason dictates that we take immediate, reassuring action to help the People. The People must believe in their government again. You, on the other hand, want the government to do nothing to ease the People’s plight. Rather, you want to send a philosophical message that spending is bad and tax cuts are good. You idiots, this is no time for abstract philosophizing! We must act. I did not philosophize in the War with Austria or France. I did what was necessary. Furthermore, I understand that at times we must spend money even if we do not wish to spend money. This is no time to advocate small government. Small government allowed these Banker Terrorists and Money Pirates to ruin your economy. Surely you do not advocate allowing them to do it again? Step aside, you unreasonable cowards. I have a Nation to save.

I have a conservative reputation. You Republicans probably cannot believe that I am siding with your President Obama on these matters. I may be a conservative, but I am not stupid. In fact, I believe that your President must go further to clean up this wretched free market mess (unverschämte Freimarktschweinerei). In Germany, I created a large, activist government. I introduced government spending programs that would make your conservative blood boil. I did this because I understood that government does not rise and fall with the wealthy; it rises and falls with the entire population. Not everyone can succeed in a free market economy. That is why the government must provide a safety net to protect those who fall through. If the government does not care for its People, Depressions like this will shake popular support. Why do you think I allowed for pension funds, health care, unemployment insurance and welfare? I hated to spend money, but I did not want a revolution on my hands. Capitalism is a good system, but unless you mix some socialism in with it, your government will fall with the stock market. By caring for the People, you can immunize your government from popular dissent. And why is the government here if not to represent and defend the People? Don’t you Americans believe that? I will force you to start acting like you do.

I will restore public faith in the government through discipline and strength. You summoned me to help save you. I will root out the Banker Terrorists and greedy Money Pirates who advanced themselves at your expense. I will harshly discipline dogs like Bernard Madoff who destroyed your faith in the stock market. Put simply, I will bring order to your lawless financial markets. You have seen what happens when you allow Banker Terrorists to police themselves. Never again. Under my regime, I will swiftly bring these pirates to justice. With discipline, you soon will be able to borrow money without fear. You will again be able to shop for items you can afford. You will be able to pay your rent and go to the doctor when you must. And through wise government intervention, you will have employment.

Do not fear government intervention. I have the strength to do what must be done in this crisis. Unlike your slow-moving Congress, I will scrap ideas that do not work. Unlike your Republicans, I will not cling to free market aspirations because those aspirations almost sank the whole ship. If government must spend money to rescue the Nation, then I will spend money. This is not undisciplined; this is reasonable. I may be harsh, but I am fair. To business owners, bankers and commercial men, I say you have nothing to fear. You will still make your profits. I will simply closely watch you to make sure you do not pillage the People. Finally, if your Supreme Court tries to stand in my way, I will discipline each Justice by forcing them to stand before the Nation and individually explain why they are obstructing our recovery efforts. This is a life-or-death struggle; we do not have time to ruminate. We must act now without worrying about what some American jurist has to say about it.

I will not allow this Nation to disgrace itself. Rather, I will break it back into line like an unruly soldier. Americans, this financial crisis will not destroy you. With blood, iron and effort, I will establish a new financial order. This is no longer about petty profits and free market excess. This is about total victory for all (Endsieg für alle). Achtung! Ein neuer Tag dämmert auf! (A new day is dawning!). Are you ready for it? I am here to crush the Banker Terrorists and Money Pirates who ruined your lives. Rally behind me for discipline and German solutions that work. Would you rather suffer with half-measures, political bickering and vacillation? Certainly not. You want jobs, health care and a stable stock market. I will give them all to you—quickly. And I will punish all who threaten to undermine the new economic Reich.

Enough discussion. We must get to work now.

Monday, February 23, 2009



At Reason, Commerce, Justice and Free Beer, we take our commitments seriously. We are committed to helping you find a job, even when other sources tell you it is a hopeless cause. According to some gloomy reports, unemployment has passed 10% in some areas. Furthermore, these reports only account for unemployment. They do not discuss the fact that job quality among employed people has drastically declined as well. In order to avoid losing their jobs, workers increasingly agree to reduced benefits, lower pay, weaker contractual bargaining powers and legal protections. The unemployment rate does not tell this story. Yet we understand that you know about it. To those who have kept their jobs in this economy, we salute you for making compromises and tightening your belts.

We constantly offer hope to job-seekers. At Reason, Commerce, Justice and Free Beer, we say: “YES! You can get a job!” As we have always said, getting a job is a technical skill. One must master several key techniques in order to fulfill the requirements. One must learn how to write a resume, a cover letter, a curriculum vitae and to purchase suitable clothing for an interview. One must learn how to select certain grammatical structures during interviews. One must also learn how to combat bad breath and body odor, either of which can reduce even the best job search to stinking ruin.

Beyond these purely technical skills, one must understand the employer’s mind. After all, a job-seeker wants a relationship with an employer. To that extent, a job-seeker must comprehend some basic psychology about employers. First and foremost, job-seekers must understand that employment relationships are not equal; they are hierarchical. Not everyone in private business earns the same salary, nor does everyone in private business perform the same function. Rather, everyone plays their position, from the mail room clerk to the senior staff manager to the calendar organizer to the data entry supervisor and the company president. Certain jobs pay more than others. As a job-seeker, you must remember that you are a mere applicant. Someone will judge you, then decide whether to extend an employment offer. In short, you must remember that you are not equal when you search for a job. To the contrary, you are inferior. As such, you must tailor your behavior to suit your mean status. When you interact with a prospective employer, maintain respect, much as a solider would respect an officer, or a lawyer would respect a judge. You cannot join an institution without submitting to it.

In England, commoners follow strict protocols when interacting with nobles. Although America is a democracy, private employers represent our proto-nobility: They have the power to determine whether you earn a living—who can deny that this is true power? When you interact with employers, accord them the respect that they deserve. After all, they have what you want. Do not condescend toward them; they are the ones who have a right to condescend, not you. You must not take condescension or judgment personally; this is what employers do. It is your lot to accept their judgments. Yet if you follow our guidelines, you can maximize your chances to win their approval. And that is what is all about. At the end of the day, does it really matter how much dignity you sacrifice? It is better to be employed, paid and undignified than unemployed, broke and dignified.

Today, we are pleased to highlight another job-seeking skill: The employer thank you letter. In a tight market, there are more applicants than jobs. Hiring managers see hundreds of resumes. They cannot possibly interview everyone. Even when they do interview candidates, they still face difficult choices. In this context, it is important to stand out in the crowd. To stand out in a crowd of eager applicants, one must know how to attract an employer’s attention. To do that, one must understand how employers think. As mentioned, employers want the respect they deserve. They do not want bragging, snide self-praise, arrogance or willful intelligence. They want humility, modesty, loyalty, work ethic and a quiet respect for order. You can attract attention if you can tap into the hierarchical thinking that drives every employment enterprise. With a personalized thank you letter, you can show just how grateful you are that a noble employer agreed to meet a commoner like you. That is precisely the attitude employers want to see in their applicants. They do not want defiant smirks; they want respectful bows and curtsies. If they do you a favor, you must thank them for it.

Below we print an actual thank you letter from a job-seeker who got the job she wanted. We encourage you to study the techniques this job-seeker used to stand out from the crowd. We also encourage you to note the writer’s subtle understanding of employer-employee relationships. By absorbing the writer’s techniques, you can dramatically increase your chances to win employment. As always, we wish you all the best in your employment search. Good luck; and never forget to say thank you to your superiors.

February 23, 2009

Dear Mr. Dickerson,

Thank you so very much for interviewing me last week at your office. Spendwell Financial Associates, Inc. is a magnificent organization. I could tell immediately that you run an efficient, client-oriented operation that specializes in dazzling customer satisfaction. I know that you have a busy schedule. You have no idea how grateful I am that you took twenty minutes to talk about my enthusiasm for the Junior Sales Associate position at your office during a workday. After all, you chose to speak to me when you could have attended to phone calls and office correspondence. Thank you for making the sacrifice; it means so, so much.

It was a real charm to speak to you. Your office was extremely well-decorated and you have a beautiful family. How is your son Mike doing? It was so kind when you showed me those pictures of him at the Little League game. You must be so proud that he ranked Fourth in the Town T-Ball Tournament. I have no doubt that you are a great father and a caring husband. As we spoke about office computer programs, lunch breaks and minimum salary options, I saw that you were a good, strong man. Put simply, it was a privilege and an honor to spend time with a man as distinguished as yourself. Not everyone can be an Intermediate Collections Specialist at Spendwell Financial Associates, Inc. You are one in a million. Please forgive me if I stammered or stuttered at all during our conversation. It’s just that I never have spoken to a man of your caliber ever before. It was exhilarating!

You run a spectacular office. I am still amazed that you had a chance to speak to me, especially when you had data spreadsheets to organize and phone calls to make. I wish I could be as special as you. Of course, I have no illusions that I will ever work in anything like your stately semi-cubicle. I would be happy to work in a tiny, unheated, damp basement cell. But I am pleased to know that I may one day have the opportunity to learn from someone as intelligent, experienced and gracious as you. Your explanation about company flex-time, copy vendors and the employee probationary period thrilled me more than you can know. I still get chills when I recall your passionate thoughts on document cold storage. If only all financial service agents could be so wise. I fully agree that companies waste too much money on old documents. I share your view that old papers should be discarded, not stored. Like you, I believe in saving company money, no matter the cost.

Please take as much time as you need to consider my application. If you do not get to it, it is absolutely no problem at all. The fact that I met you face-to-face was satisfying enough; if you actually extended me the honor to work for your organization it would be a dream come true. I would go to the ends of the earth for Spendwell Financial Associates, Inc. I truly mean that. If I receive a magnetic employee ID badge from Spendwell, I will wear it always, even in the shower. I will dedicate my life to the company. I will serve you in whatever capacity you require. Your will is my command. I would willingly accept any position you choose to give. I would happily take instructions from every other employee in the organization. Quite simply, I am forever in your debt.

By interviewing me, you won my deepest admiration and gratitude. I do not know if I can ever repay you. Last night, I thought about the singular mercy you showed me. You could have chosen to interview anyone, but you chose to interview me. What did I do to deserve this honor? How can I, a mere applicant, ever bestow upon you what you have already given me? With a wave of your hand, you brought light and grace into my life. Before our interview, I was an unemployed applicant with a worthless college degree. But after our interview, I was blessed. Thank you for exercising your power to save a pathetic wretch like me. Without your grace, I would have been lost. I would have been condemned to unemployment and ignominy. But through your gracious hand, I felt life stirring within me. Even if you do not choose to hire me, I will remain eternally grateful for the tender mercy you showered upon me last week.

Thank you so much for your time, energy, caring, grace, wisdom, character, prudence, judgment and humor. Your jokes amused me more than I can tell. I smile about them even now: “Hot Dog, I’m on a roll; I relish the thought of that.” Mr. Dickerson, you could have been a successful comedian. As an Intermediate Collections Specialist at Spendwell Financial Associates, Inc., is there anything you cannot achieve? I am simply in awe. Please do not hesitate to let me know if there is anything I can do to prove my further dedication to your company. I will do anything—that means anything. You name it; I will do it. I am here for you. Always. It is the least I can do for the tremendous favor you have already done me.

Your humble, respectful and subservient applicant,

Ms. Griselda E. Barebox, B.A. (Oral Studies) (The Elliot Spitzer Junior College, Staten Island, N.Y.)

Sunday, February 22, 2009


By : Michael A. Schlafmeister, M.S., Chairman and Marketing Director,

At some point during your busy life, I’ll bet you’ve felt disappointed. Maybe you’re pressing 40 and you still have not gotten that big promotion. Maybe your dream girl slipped through your fingers and now you’re stuck in a loveless marriage. Maybe you have chronic kidney disease and you are in constant pain. Or maybe you just missed winning the lottery—for the sixth time. At, we understand that life isn’t fair. We know that joy never seems to materialize. And we know it hurts.

Mom and Dad never told us how tough life would be. When you were a child, I’ll bet you had some really fun times. You probably even thought that life would continue to be fun. After all, kids always want to be like grown-ups because it looks like grown-ups can do all the fun things that kids want to do. But no one told us about creditors, loans, debt, dishonesty, competition, anxiety, depression, humiliation, bum jobs and disenchantment. When we were kids, it was a joy to wake up every morning because there was always something fun to do. No one told us that one day we would dread getting out of bed to face the world. Grown-ups never mentioned these things. We only found out about them once we got older.

At, we stand for people like you. We stand for people who have suffered disappointment in life. When it comes to disappointment, we have a simple motto: “Haven’t we all been there?” We understand that your life is definitely not a box of chocolates, even if you have money. Even rich people get jealous and hate the way their children turned out. Money will not save you from cancer or backstabbing, estranged relatives who eagerly await their inheritance. When it comes to disappointment in life, we are all equal. And we understand your pain.

In our culture, no one tells us that anxiety lurks around every corner. We simply learned to study hard, work hard and do our jobs. We found out later that life is a cruel race in which luck is as important as skill. Only a few win; the rest simply flounder in a losing contest. Throughout our lives, we receive rejection letters from employers and schools. We hear the word “No” far more than “Yes,” and we never truly get what we want. We simply compromise for what we can “realistically” achieve. And even then, we stand at the mercy of our friends, families and acquaintances. They lie to us more often than they tell us the truth; we come to expect more betrayals than loyalty. We manage to find some happiness in relationships with people who do not hurt us, but they are the exceptions. By and large, we expect rejection and disappointment. Meanwhile, we work away at jobs that seem to offer no meaning; but we must work away, because creditors demand money from us at every turn.

It is a cruel, unforgiving race. There is never time to relax. We know it is hard. We are there for you.

At, we offer quick and easy solutions to life’s problems. Our personalized euthanasia services proceed on a simple assumption: That problems only cause stress to the living. By draining life from our bodies, we deny problems the hosts they require to survive. After all, money problems inflict emotional pain because a living person worries that he will not pay a bill. His brain releases chemicals that cause him to feel “bad.” But if this person were dead, his brain would no longer release chemicals at all. No matter how many past due bills this person receives, he will feel nothing, even if he has no money to pay them. In the same way, relationship problems hurt when a living person confronts difficulty with another living person. When his mate acts in an unfavorable way, he suffers emotional turmoil. But death eliminates the brain’s chemical capacity to feel heartbreak; indeed, it eliminates the capacity to feel much anything at all.

Naysayers claim that death is not an effective solution to life’s problems. Rather, they say that it makes no sense to throw the baby out with the bathwater. According to this logic, death may avert physical pain and the stings of disappointment, but it also forecloses good feelings in the future. In other words, “life is worth living” because there is always a potential for good feelings. This argument misses the point. For some people, there is no realistic possibility to ever experience good feelings again. Consider a client who lost all four limbs in an accident, became blind and his wife left him because he could no longer engage in sexual intercourse. This client also lost his job because he could not render effective customer service without vision or limbs. He had no health insurance, and his medical treatment bankrupted him forty times over. For these reasons, this client realistically believed that life held nothing more than pain and disillusionment. If he went on living, he would simply torture his body and mind with endless pain. provided an effective alternative; he decided to get out of the race. We believe he made a rational choice.

We recognize that every person is different. Everyone has different tolerances for disappointment and pain. Yet everyone experiences disappointment and pain. They are unavoidable. We do not question anyone’s claim that life proves too difficult to bear. True, not everyone faces challenges as severe as the blind and limbless client’s, but we all have problems. Our problems dominate our lives like no others. We may recognize that others have more objectively “bad” problems, but that does not make us feel any better about our own. For example, we see that there are homeless people on the street without food, money, shelter or hope for survival. Yet we still feel bad about our low pay, our treacherous boyfriends, our overbearing parents, our arthritis, our health insurance and our debts, even though we have homes and food. The homeless man may face terrible adversity, but so do we—in our own way. Problems are personal. They torture the strong along with the weak. At, we do not judge your problems. We simply recognize that everyone’s problems are unique; and they cause unique stress, no matter how objectively “severe” or “minor” they are.

Have you had enough? Are you tired of getting up in the morning to be scolded by a brutal employer? Are you sick of running behind on your credit card bills and begging banks for loans, only to be rejected? Have you been passed over for a job one too many times? Did the love of your life cheat on you then dump you? Do your own children lie to you and steal from you? Do you spend more time in the hospital than at your home? Does your spouse abuse you? Is your wife having an affair with a tennis player? Do you suffer from debilitating injuries? Are you addicted to medications? Do you cry from morning to night? Did the sheriff just evict you from your house? Never fear. You are not alone. We know that life seems bleak. That is why you should log onto

Talking and therapy can only take you so far. Mental gymnastics can only partially palliate your pain. No matter how many times you sing kumbaya, creditors will still garnish your wages and your girlfriend will still cheat on you. When it appears that only pain and disappointment await you in life, do the reasonable thing. Spite your problems. They are like parasites. They roost in living bodies. Do not give them a body to infect. It is easy, quick and affordable. Can it really be that bad? Think about it. Our euthanasia methods are safe, painless, user-friendly and FDA-approved. We offer payment plans. There is no credit check. No animals were harmed in testing our euthanasia methods, and we use only organic materials. We proudly sponsored the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team. If you can go to sleep, you can use our services. Wouldn’t you rather just go to sleep than face a lifetime of agony, torture, humiliation and rejection? At, you truly can take a vacation: You will never have to return to your vindictive spouse, your moronic boss, your abusive parents or your emasculating, petty job. You will no longer feel pain or worry. You will never need medical treatment again. You will never receive another bill. No one will ever ask you for money again. You will not grow older and you will not face derision, insult or scorn. If you have not already gone gray, you never will.

Isn’t it about time to decide your own destiny? Haven’t you exhausted yourself enough serving others’ whims? Haven’t you expended enough worry and fear attempting to mold yourself to others’ expectations? Aren’t you fed up with pain, rejection, grief and disillusion? Treat yourself for once. Take a break. Check out of town. Start living a little. What do you have to lose? Euthanize yourself today at for just one easy payment of $29.99. Can it really be worse than what you’re going through now? What have you got to lose? Your unhappiness and pain? Try our product. We guarantee you won’t complain if you do. It’s our promise™.

Saturday, February 21, 2009



I resist traditional employment. From my youngest days, I knew that would not fit easily into conventional existence. Still, I was a diligent student because I loved to learn. I broadened my perspective with knowledge and foreign languages. Knowledge excited me because it covered such a broad field; no two questions were ever the same. But then I learned that I needed a “career.” Even in college, I had no idea what I would “do” after my studies. I remained fixated on learning for its own sake. I did not care what I would “do” with my knowledge afterward. I was content merely to learn.

But learning is not enough to survive in America. I soon saw that you need a “career” or a “craft” in order to pay the bills. I set about looking for a “career” and soon discovered—to my horror—that most “jobs” did not involve—or even require—the spirit of learning that sustained me through my childhood. Instead, I saw that “careers” involved narrow attention to a single company’s economic mission and ruthlessly attending to all the everyday challenges confronting that mission. Worse, as a young man, I did not even have an opportunity to participate in a company’s more cerebral undertakings. I could simply apply for “entry-level” positions performing petty office work. Neither knowledge nor intelligence was necessary; the employer simply needed a warm body to fetch things around the office.

“So this is what it’s all about?” I thought to myself. “I spend twenty years learning the virtues of knowledge and learning; and now they just want to know how fast I can type?” I felt hopelessly disillusioned. I could not really put my finger on why; it just all seemed so petty. And this was supposedly what life was all about: Finish school, then get a “career,” get rich, retire, collect pension money and shrug off. I said to myself: “If this is what ‘career’ is all about, I want no part in it.” I worked when I had to in order to survive. But I never stopped criticizing the American fixation on “career.” In my view, traditional career paths eschew knowledge and learning for shortsighted, private loyalty to an employer’s economic mission. All the things I learned to cultivate in school—intellectual curiosity; critical thinking; careful analysis; uninhibited theorizing; freedom to express my opinion—simply did not apply anymore. In a “career,” critical thinking and voicing your opinion can actually get you in trouble. That gravely disappointed me. That is why I determined to live my life without surrendering to the “career program.”

I studied law partially to escape career pressure. True to my natural inclination to learn, I wanted to spend three years soaking in meaningful knowledge rather than advancing an employer’s economic interests for poor pay. For many people, law school is simply a “career springboard.” It is a preparatory institution for economic “success” later in life. That attitude blinds most people to the tremendously valuable intellectual rewards that flow from studying law. In law school, I learned strict academic discipline. I learned how to tear arguments to pieces with methodical precision. I also learned how to commit myself to positions in speech and in writing, then substantiate those positions with rational support. I trained myself to read, organize and absorb complex information for hours on end. Beyond the technical skills, I also made philosophical discoveries. In the law’s substance, I saw American society’s deepest values. I saw what makes Americans “tick.” In the main, I saw that Americans live for money, property and bodily comfort. But I also detected a tension between the quest for private gain and larger, abstract principles. After all, our laws flow from our Constitution and founding ideals. Those sources voice support for ideas far more compelling than mere private enrichment. During my final year in law school, I began to feel that my new legal knowledge was actually leading to a better place. I was beginning to believe in things larger than my own needs. Specifically, I began to believe that our Constitution was a force for good in America because it stood for noble principles that acted to prevent tyranny. I loved reading judicial opinions in which individual right triumphed over government power, or cases in which the court criticized economically powerful people for tyrannizing the weak. In short, I began to admire principles because principles transcend mere economic expediency. I saw that government could be a force for good, even when it is not profitable to be good. That impressed me.

My new legal knowledge shed new light on my suspicions about careers. After all, a traditional “careerist” does not care how he advances. If the goal is company success, then a true careerist will adopt any means to achieve it. He will not adhere to larger principles if principles obstruct the path to success; he will “flexibly” adapt his behavior to reach his goal. In return, he receives accolades from his employer, encouraging him to be even more unscrupulous in the future. In short, traditional “career thinking” involves expediency. In commercial life, private businesses constantly compete for maximum gain. They have only one motivation: To make more money this year than they did last year. To reach that goal, they will shift policies and approaches to address new challenges. They do not adhere to a policy if it impacts profits, even if it is theoretically a “good” policy. In commerce and careers, no policy is “good” unless it gets results. This is what bothered me, for I saw that true principles endure because they do not change with the wind: They apply whether times are good or bad, results or no results. A principle would not be a principle if managers could discard it as soon as their quarterly balance sheets showed a small loss.

Without principles, what are we? We are simply commercial chameleons who change from hour to hour to maximize profit opportunities. Nothing guides us or sustains us. Nothing gives us deeper meaning or satisfaction in life. In short, without principles, we have no abiding belief. True, the commercial man says that he “believes” in business success, but when I say “belief,” I mean belief in something more substantial than expediency. Belief means an individual understanding that something is true. Belief does not make the believer “right;” it simply expresses his own, subjective understanding about events, ideas, thoughts and conditions. It is a question of conscience; no one can force another person to believe anything. When we believe in principles, we believe in ideas that transcend the crass expediencies of economic existence. When we adhere to principles, we do not yield to the “profit urge.” We hold to our beliefs, even if they cost us money.

I do not subscribe to the traditional “career path” because it does not give me anything in which to believe. If I can believe in something, I will work doggedly to advance it. If there is a job that stands for principle rather than profit, I can support it. But I cannot support an enterprise that has no goal other than petty private profit. How does profit transcend? When we die, who will remember how much money we had in the bank? This is the reason why I have such a hard time taking a “traditional job.” There is nothing to believe in. It is nothing but a compensated quest to make money for someone else. What larger principle does that serve? I can see none.

Recently, I thought about words that describe my feelings on this issue. For years, I knew that I could not live a life dedicated to private profit. But only in recent months have I really tailored my language to match my thoughts. When I write, I often criticize commerce because it prizes expediency over principle. I often saw that there is “nothing noble” about such pursuits, and that commercial activity is “not memorable.” I extend these ideas to criticize “traditional career paths” because they, too, are hardly noble or memorable. What does this all mean? What words truly express these sentiments? Is it a fruitless enterprise?

No. Two words sum up how I feel about careers, commerce and principle: “Honor” and “noble.” These are common words; we hear them in numerous contexts. When we first hear them, they conjure up anachronistic images from the Middle Ages: We see “honorable,” chivalrous “noblemen” on horseback who occupy a lofty station above the petty masses. “Noble” has an especially condescending ring, since “nobles” occupied a higher social class than mere “commoners.” And we hear “honor” in extremely varied contexts, muddling its true meaning. We have a sense that “honor” is a catchall phrase for “good.” That is why we call judges “Your Honor;” we do not know exactly why they deserve that epithet. We give it to them because we want to show respect. They are supposed to be “good,” even if they are fools.

I am not satisfied with linguistic generalities. By investigating the meanings and etymologies embedded within these words, a much clearer picture emerges. According to Webster’s New College Dictionary (4th Ed.), “honor” means: “2. a keen sense of right and wrong; adherence to action or principles considered right; integrity; 4. high rank or position; distinction; dignity; 7. a person or thing that brings respect or fame to a country.” These are all strongly positive descriptions. Interestingly, we see that “honor” involves “adherence to principles;” later, we see that “honor” means “integrity” and “dignity.” It even brings “respect and fame” to those who have it. Does this mean that “adherence to principles” gives us “integrity,” “fame,” “dignity,” “high rank,” “distinction” and “respect?” I would say yes. In other words, adhering to principles despite changing circumstances makes us “honorable,” and that in turn entitles us to the richly positive connotations enshrined in the concept.

But this begs a question: If we do not adhere to principle, are we then “dishonorable?” If we constantly shift our beliefs and policies to meet business expediency, do we have “honor?” In my view, it appears that commercial men can scarcely claim honor. I reject the idea that “private profit” is a “principle” to which a person can adhere for honor’s sake. It is not honorable to dedicate oneself to personal wealth. It may be prevalent, but that does not make it honorable. Rather, honor requires adherence to larger principles. Still, to be successful in commerce, one cannot truly adhere to larger principles, because profit must take precedence over other considerations. In these circumstances, I would venture that dedication to private profit makes it impossible to have honor. After all, honor requires adherence to transcendent principles such as human dignity, justice, fairness, equality, charity, goodness and caring. If a commercial man commits himself to these principles, he will not be successful. In that light, he cannot have honor. He may have honor in his personal life, but his professional life is about profit, not honor. Put simply, the two concepts do not mix. One involves unswerving commitment to principle. The other involves unabashed, expedient flexibility.

“Noble” complements “honor.” Webster tells us that “noble” means: “1. having eminence, renown, fame; illustrious; 2. having or showing high moral qualities or ideals or greatness of character; lofty; 3. having excellent qualities; superior; 4. grand, stately, splendid, magnificent.” Webster’s New World College Dictionary (4th Ed.). Although this definition does not explicitly mention “adherence to principle,” it comes close. “Noble” describes character. Specifically, a “noble action” implies “high moral qualities or ideals.” Much like principles, ideals are individual beliefs that transcend everyday expediency. In that sense, “noble” pairs well with “honor.” “Greatness of character” and “high ideals” bespeak “noble,” just as “adherence to principle” animates “honor.” As with “honor,” “noble” is a strongly positive concept. It implies “greatness,” “splendor” and “magnificence” because the actor follows “high ideals.” His conduct sets him apart; it makes him “lofty.”

Again I ask the question: Is shortsighted dedication to private profit a “high ideal” that entitles us to claim “nobility?” Again, I venture that crass commercialism does not constitute a “high ideal,” just as it does not constitute a “principle” for honor’s sake. There is nothing noble about running a business for profit, nor is there anything noble about pressing forward a career to enrich yourself.

Yet this is precisely the goal in a “traditional career:” Get a high-paying job, make loads of money and enjoy all the earthly pleasures that flow from it. This may satisfy the vast majority in America, but it does not satisfy me. I do not believe in it because I do not see the honor in it. I do not see how it is noble to show up to work and toil all day for a private business that profits from my labor. I recognize that this is an unpopular—and at times, untenable—position. For when the bill collector knocks, we do not have the luxury to think about honor. Or do we? It all depends on what we seek from life. Do we want to take a stand for our beliefs? Or do we just want to “get with the program” and be comfortable? Dedicating ourselves to honorable purposes is never profitable; at best we can hope to be honorable while serving ourselves. But I think it is possible to live for honor. After all, if we “adhere to principle” all the time, we give force to our own beliefs. We decide which ideas are important and we form our lives around them. Our own personality dictates the path, not the pressure of expediency. If we live for honor, no economic power can constrain our minds. This probably sounds like hopeless daydreaming. But I would much rather be remembered as a man who believed in something than a man who had a normal job.

When I believe in something, I work hard at it. I believe in principles beyond private profit. That makes me a bad fit in the American employment world because most employers eschew any principle inconsistent with private profit. There are exceptions to this rule. I am searching for them. When I find something in which I can truly believe, I will give it all my strength. I believe in learning and knowledge because they are transcendent. That is why I study hard.

I want to believe in something more than commerce. When I find it, I will never let it go.

Friday, February 20, 2009



At Reason, Commerce, Justice and Free Beer, we believe in employment for all. We have long supported your efforts to find a job, even when times are hard. Still, we recognize that finding a job is never easy. Employers do not hire as many employees as they used to; there is simply not enough money to go around. Employers have enough trouble making their own payrolls, dispensing dividends and paying executive bonuses; they cannot worry about whether they hire a 22-year-old office clerk. Despite this, we salute job seekers who remain confident in such a bleak market. You can find a job. But it is a delicate business. It is not enough to merely want to work; you have to advertise yourself. You have to know how to make yourself conspicuous on paper to a harried hiring manager. To do that, you must master some technical skills.

No one will deny that a good resume is essential to a successful job search. We have written at length about effective resumes. Today, however, we are pleased to discuss an oft-overlooked job search craft: Writing a cover letter. Many job-seekers believe that a resume renders a cover letter superfluous. This is a grave—though understandable—mistake. Job-seekers tend to be self-centered. They think their resumes say everything about them, and that anyone who receives their resume will instantly see that they are the best choice for the job. But this overlooks the fact that hiring managers are busy. They receive hundreds of resumes every day from desperate job-seekers. They have no way to know which resumes are worth examining. In short, without some extra pizzazz, even the best resume can elude a hiring manager’s view.

Cover letters supply that extra pizzazz. A well-written cover letter can catch a busy hiring manager’s attention. It can convey your genuine enthusiasm for the job. And it can give special voice to the skills you describe in your resume. You might even display a personal touch that will charm a hiring manager, even if your credentials do not suffice. Hiring managers routinely advise us that a personal, handwritten caption above a cover letter can go a long way, such as: “I am sooooo interested in this job; I get excited just thinking about it!” In short, cover letters give you an opportunity to tap into the employer’s values. It is your chance to shine.

We care about your job. We want you to work. Without work, you cannot make money. Without money, you cannot pay your bills. Without paying your bills, you will go homeless and starve. If you are homeless or starve, you will not be happy. Thus, by supporting your job search, we support your quest for happiness. We are pleased to share the technical expertise you need to win employment in today’s competitive market. Below, we print a sample cover letter by a recent college graduate for an entry-level position at a brokerage house. This young lady got the job because she knew what employers were looking for. We sincerely hope you can learn from her success. Remember: Employers want hard work, selflessness, alacrity, dedication, charm, positive attitude, self-effacement, efficiency, youth and tirelessness. Tell them that you possess all those virtues; and tell them you will work hard for less. In today’s economy, low bids win the auction. Always bear that in mind as you write your cover letter.

February 20, 2009

Dear Mr. Cobalt, Hiring Coordinator,

Hello! My name is Candy Puckmie and I am responding to your ad posted in the Los Angeles Employment Pages for administrative assistants at your Cherrywood location. I am extremely excited about the prospect of working for your organization. I have attached my resume to this letter. I know you are busy, but I hope you have time to consider it.

I recently graduated from Merrywether College with a degree in Social Studies. I had a strong grade point average and I was a letter player on the Ladies’ field hockey team. My sports experience taught me how to work well on a team. I learned how to pass, hold, shoot and score without seeking recognition for myself. It felt great to be on a winning team. I think I can help the Cherrywood branch office win, too!

Although I do not have any corporate work experience, I am a fast learner. I possess essential office skills, such as the ability to answer phones, send and receive facsimile transmissions (also known as “faxes”), make photographic duplicates, brew coffee or tea, welcome clients and fill out lunch break spreadsheets. I can type 65 words per minute, and I can take dictation. I am familiar with Microsoft Office 2007®, Lotus Notes® and Internet Explorer®. I can also perform a variety of sexual functions, including erotic massage, manual manipulation, fellatio, cunnilingus, analingus, girl-on-girl and yoga-influenced maneuvers. References and performance scores are available upon request. I am also qualified to provide full service to senior managers and clients alike.

In 2007, I was voted “cheeriest sister” at my school sorority (Lamda Delta Sigma). I smile a lot and I respond well to instructions. Basically, I do what I am told. I do not question or think about my instructions; I just get things done fast. I do not have a husband and I am willing to work nights, weekends and holidays if needed. I would be happy and honored to serve your organization and your managers. I believe I would make a strong addition to the team because I am productive. Last year, I won an intra-school award for best yearbook paper collating production. That shows how productive I am. If you need 25 brochures mailed by 5 PM, I will have it done by 2:45 PM. I promise to bring my spirit of hard work, dedication, productivity, spectacular company service and loyalty to your organization. I really want to start working for you! Seriously, I want this job. I mean, I really want it.

I am willing to work for very reasonable rates. I realize that this is a difficult economy and that you will receive many applications for this position. But unlike my competitors, I am willing to go the extra mile. I am so eager to serve you that I will work for nominal or symbolic pay. Unlike my competitors, I do not expect to receive the $24,500 offered in your advertisement. I will work for free. I want to be an employee and I want you to treat me like one. If you want to give me a $5.00 bill once in a while, I would take it, but you do not have to. You could even pay me 10 Vietnamese Dong per year; I would not object. I do not need health benefits, either; your company is under enough stress as it is without worrying about my health. I will be fine; it will take a lot more than illness to keep me away from work. Only death or total physical and mental incapacitation will keep me out of the office. As explained, I just want to work to satisfy you and your company’s interests. Despite my lack of experience, I believe that my dedication, spunk and willingness to learn will go a long way to please you. I was born to serve. I want to do what I was born to do, even if I do not get paid for it.

Thank you for reading my cover letter. I am ready to do anything you ask for no pay and no benefits. I know that makes me a much more attractive candidate than those who demand salaries and health insurance. I am also patriotic, smart and enthusiastic. I know what it means to play on a winning team and I know how to serve my betters. I sincerely hope that you enjoy my resume. I look forward to serving you and your company. Let’s stop talking; let’s start working! I’m ready to go!

Thanks a million,

Ms. Candy Puckmie

Thursday, February 19, 2009



WASHINGTON, D.C. – Reason, Commerce, Justice & Free Beer has just learned that the United States Supreme Court has issued a dramatic opinion striking down the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution. In Sons of the South v. United States, No. 08-1762, the Court, 5-3, per Justice Antonin Scalia, held that the so-called “civil rights amendments” are invalid because the States did not properly ratify them. “Our Constitution prescribes a specific procedure for ratifying amendments. In the aftermath of the Civil War, aggressive northern radicals illegally coerced southern legislatures to ratify amendments. Because the North procured ratification by duress, the amendments cannot stand,” he wrote. Legal scholars call the ruling “significant.”

Sons of the South v. United States originated as a claim by the descendants of slaveowners who argued that the federal government seized their ancestors’ property without just compensation. In 2003, lead plaintiffs James A. Longstreet IV of Virginia and James T. Pickett III of Georgia, brought their action in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. In their complaint, they charged that: “The Federal government conspired to and did deprive former Confederate States of their ability to fairly consider the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution, with the result that countless southern slaveowners lost their property without just compensation.” The plaintiffs argued further that: “Article V of the Federal Constitution provides that at least three-quarters of every State legislature must pass constitutional amendments after passage by two-thirds of both houses of Congress. By force, fraud and coercion, the Federal government induced hostage southern State legislatures to ratify amendments that abolished slavery, guaranteed voting rights to negroes and promised ‘Due Process’ and ‘Equal Protection’ to every ‘person’ in America. No reasonable southerner would ever have voted for these amendments. This represents a naked Federal power grab. If the Court allows these amendments to stand, it sends a message that American citizens have no right to fairly consider changes to their fundamental charter. These amendments stand for duress and compulsion. And they must be reversed.”

United States District Judge Clarence B. McFarlane, appointed by President George W. Bush in 2002, agreed with the Plaintiffs and declared the amendments invalid. He ordered slavery restored, and directed the Federal government to pay $500 billion compensation to the descendants of slaveowners who lost their property following ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in December, 1865, plus interest. “It would have outraged our Founders to know that the Federal government forced States to accept changes to the Constitution without knowing, voluntary consent thereto. On the record before me, it appears beyond doubt that the Federal government installed military governors in conquered Southern States, filled their State houses with Federal cronies and forced resistant southern representatives to pass these amendments at gunpoint. It would eviscerate the voluntary nature of our federal system to allow such a lawless procedure to gain the force of constitutional law.”

On appeal, the United Sates argued that every Southern State “knowingly and voluntarily” ratified the amendments. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, sitting en banc, reversed the District Court and concluded: “Whatever historical evidence appellees may have submitted to show duress in the ratification procedures surrounding these amendments, we hold that any aggrieved slaveholders have long since waived any right to contest their validity. From a practical standpoint, since 1865, our Federal government has proceeded on the assumption that the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments are sound. Virtually all significant legislation since that date draws its constitutional authority from these amendments. To hold them invalid would cast the entire Federal administrative state into chaos. Although we sympathize with appellees’ plight—and our opinion should in no way be construed to disparage this Court’s great respect for all property rights—we simply refuse to reverse 140 years of history for practical reasons.”

Longstreet and Pickett appealed the Court of Appeals’ ruling in 2007. The United States Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments. In January 2008, the Court heard oral arguments. Justice John Paul Stevens recused himself from the case in a public statement. He explained: “I fought for the North in the Civil War. I fought against slavery and secessionism. My heart still beats for the North and my home State of Illinois—the land of Lincoln. I simply cannot be impartial when considering the issues involved in this case. I morally loathe any person who contends that slavery has a place in our American order.”

During oral arguments, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Samuel A. Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas favorably questioned Sons of the South’s attorneys. At one point, Roberts remarked: “Your historical research is impeccable. It looks pretty clear that the North really did force southern legislatures to adopt these amendments.”

Scalia voiced similar praise: “You know, it was implicit in the Founding that slavery should remain undisturbed. The word is not even mentioned in the original Constitution. The South had a legitimate reason to leave the Union in 1860 because it tacitly understood that the Federal government would not move against slavery based on assurances made in 1787. I mean, slavery was the core of the southern economy. Why would you ever join a government that had the power to totally wipe out your economy?”

Alito said: “What gets me is how much needless legislation has flowed from these amendments. You have the Civil Rights Acts, the Voting Rights Act, even the Americans with Disabilities Act. These acts consume enormous judicial energy and they cost businesses billions. There is nothing in the Constitution that promises ‘equal protection’ or ‘voting rights,’ especially when it comes to State power. You’ve got the Fifth Amendment protecting Due Process from Federal intrusion, but nothing in the original document binds the States except Article I, §10; and that says nothing about slavery. The States joined this Union on the understanding that they could police themselves. These amendments destroyed that understanding. Sure, you might argue that the Declaration of Independence implies a sort of ‘equality’ principle in American government. But the Declaration is not our governing document; the Constitution is. And I think the Framers constructed the amendment procedure in order to prevent precisely the kind of federal coercion that you’re alleging. Amendments should not pass unless everyone voluntarily consents to them. That apparently didn’t happen here, right?”

Thomas said: Nothing. He just nodded and muttered to himself: “When is lunch?”

Several justices spoke vehemently against Sons of the South. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was visibly angry when she said: “You’re asking us to reinstitute slavery? Are you insane? Did you know it is 2009? What planet are you from, sir?”

Justice David Souter remarked: “Look, there may have been some coercion in order to get these amendments passed. But it had to be done. The country just went through the bloodiest war in its history. Slavery caused it. The Constitution had a fundamental flaw and it had to be corrected in order to secure America’s place in the modern world. Every other European country had abolished slavery long before 1865. These amendments dramatically improved our constitutional order. It may have made life more complicated by guaranteeing new rights for all our citizens, but isn’t liberty supposed to advance under our Constitution? If we invalidate these amendments, we step back two centuries.”

Justice Stephen Breyer almost lost his composure while responding to appellants’ arguments: “Do you have any idea what you’re saying? Without the Fourteenth Amendment, there is no protection from State action. You could have the KKK come knocking at your door and the State would be powerless to stop it. And without the Fourteenth Amendment, there is no right to marry, no right to procreate, no right to vote and no right to educate your children. Do you have any idea what will happen to the country if we strike down this amendment?”

Only Justice Anthony Kennedy maintained a relatively neutral stance at the argument. He said very little. “Obviously the Constitution would mean very little if strong States could compel weak States to ratify amendments that would undermine the weak States’ economies and values. On the other hand, uprooting the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments would dismantle Federal power as we know it. I think the Federal government is much stronger than it should be. Still, I hesitate before taking any action that could result in confusing administration. How would you recommend dealing with the administrative burdens that your argument will inevitably cause?”

After more than a year, the Court rendered its opinion. Justice Scalia wrote for Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Scalia, Justice Thomas and Justice Alito. “Today, we end an era of Federal usurpment,” began Justice Scalia. “While we recognize that our Nation has come far in the years since the Civil War, we cannot countenance amendments to our Constitution procured by force. To allow the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to stand is to sully the voluntary nature of our Federal system. We hold them invalid.”

Below, we print important passages from Justice Scalia’s opinion:

“This case is not about the morality of slavery or equality under law. This case is about power and procedure. Our Constitution limits power by spreading it evenly between the branches of the Federal government and between the States and the Federal government. Any action that impinges upon this careful power distribution threatens to undermine our Republic’s very foundations. The Constitution keeps power balanced between strong and weak States, as well as between the Federal government and the States. That is why the Framers made it exceedingly difficult to amend the Constitution.

“Constitutional amendments represent an overwhelming democratic consensus that the Nation should travel in a new direction. The Framers assured consensus in amendments by requiring supermajorities both in Congress and in every State legislature. In essence, they assured that the fundamental charter would not change simply because one party gained a temporary majority. Rather, they guaranteed that the Constitution would not change unless virtually everyone agreed to the proposed changes. These measures protect the rights of the minority as much as they allow for reasonable, democratic change. And they imply that only voluntary, informed consent to constitutional changes will prevail.

“Here, appellants provide compelling evidence that the North undermined the voluntary spirit behind the amendment procedure. The record discloses a calculated northern effort to intimidate, coerce and browbeat southern State legislators to ratify the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. We observe that these Amendments were passed in 1865, 1868 and 1870, respectively. At that time, Federal troops occupied half of all States eligible to vote on the amendments. By Congressional act, the Federal Congress installed military governments in occupied southern States. Soldiers forced compliance with federal edicts. They stood guard in State houses. They threatened to shoot legislators who did not vote ‘yes’ on the amendments. When legislators spoke out against ratification, they were imprisoned, removed from office and replaced with northern puppets. These amendments passed because the North forced the defeated, war-weary South to comply at gunpoint.

“In short, this ratification procedure was not voluntary. As a matter of constitutional law, we hold that Article V requires voluntary supermajorities in both houses of Congress and every State legislature. It would mock our constitutional system to sanction hostile amendments procured by force or fraud. Just as force or fraud in contract formation invalidates the contract, so too does force or fraud in Article V’s amendment procedure invalidate the amendment. Here, we are convinced that the North unfairly used force to compel Southern legislatures to adopt the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. We therefore hold the amendments void.

“The United States argues that Article V imposes no ‘voluntariness’ requirement on constitutional amendments. It tells us that the text simply requires that both the Senate and House of Representatives pass the proposed amendment by a two-thirds majority, and that three-quarters of State legislatures pass the proposed amendment by a majority vote. They point out that Congress passed each amendment by the requisite two-thirds majority, while every State passed the amendments by the requisite majority vote.

“We fail to see how this is significant. The United States did not contest appellants’ evidence that Federal troops compelled Southern legislators to ratify the amendments. If we accept the United States’ argument, we certify coercion and duress in constitutional law. We refuse to do so. We repeat our holding that Article V requires not just supermajorities in Congress and the State legislatures, but also verifiably voluntary consent to the proposed amendments. Any other rule would sanction lawlessness by federal agitators. We rebuke in the strongest possible terms the conduct of federal occupation forces during the Reconstruction era. They substituted force for fairness, and arbitrariness for procedure. Our Constitution does not tolerate brute force. It is a Constitution of legal principle, not powerful men. Without voluntary consent to the provisions housed in our fundamental charter, liberty means nothing.

“The United States further argues that even if there were flaws in the ratification procedures between 1865 and 1870, southern slaveholders long ago waived any right to contest them. A waiver is an intentional relinquishment of a known legal right. In these circumstances, we are unwilling to say that the slaveholders waived their rights to contest ratification because they never had a fair opportunity to exercise them. Northern occupation forces suppressed any effort to voice opposition to the amendments. Slaveowners who resisted the amendments were imprisoned or fined. In such a climate, it was impossible to waive because the North forbade the underlying rights. Waiver only applies when there is a reasonable possibility to assert the underlying right. In this case, disgruntled slaveowners had no reasonable possibility to assert their rights because northern military governors ruthlessly punished any attempt to do so. On that basis, we conclude that waiver does not apply. We further conclude that the slaveowners’ legal rights passed to their heirs. Appellants here have proven their ancestry to bona fide slaveowners and therefore have standing to press their forebears’ rights.

“We note that our opinion will significantly change our Nation’s legal landscape. We make several observations in this regard, and we order certain injunctive relief. At the outset, we express a collective sense of relief as federal judges because we will no longer need to consider whether the Fourteenth Amendment applies to constrict State governments. No longer will federal courts entertain claims that State action ‘deprives citizens of life, liberty or property without Due Process of law.’ This was a horrendously uncertain doctrine, and we are glad to abolish it. Further, we are glad that we no longer must contend with racially charged claims that State action deprives black citizens of ‘Equal Protection of the laws.’ Now, there is no more Fourteenth Amendment. States may freely discriminate on any basis, whether by race, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, wealth, mental illness or marital status. No longer will federal courts lend a sympathetic ear to bitter minorities who feel they are being treated unequally. Without the Fourteenth Amendment, federal courts will have no basis to hear such nonsense. Additionally, there will no longer be claims for employment discrimination, sexual harassment or police brutality. The Fourteenth Amendment undergirded all these claims, and now it is gone. Federal judges will now have a much easier workload; and there will be far fewer dumb cases to hear, especially the ever-repeating ‘He-fired-me-because-I’m-black,’ or ‘He-arrested-me-because-I’m-black’ scenarios. Never again will federal judges be forced to sit through such unfounded, time-consuming racial venting.

“By invalidating the Thirteenth Amendment, we restore slavery to the United States. We believe this is a prudent choice. Our Framers intended to preserve slavery in the Constitution. Our federal Union would never have emerged if the Northern States had not assured the Southern States that they could retain slavery. Without slavery, the southern economy would have been worthless. Our Constitution specifically protects property rights against Federal encroachment. See Amendment V (“No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.”). Furthermore, State laws in the South specifically allowed for property in slaves. The Thirteenth Amendment, however, summarily deprived every slaveowner of property without due process. No southern slaveowner had a chance to contest this sweeping federal encroachment. And in light of the historical evidence suggesting federal coercion in the amendment ratification process, we are energized in our conclusion that slaveholders suffered an immense historical wrong. Our entire social order depends upon stable property rights. If the Federal government can seize property by forcing State legislatures to comply with unjust constitutional commands, where is liberty? We restore slavery because we believe that property is the essence of American liberty.

“We are confident that the American people will respect our decision. Americans must be safe in their property rights, and they must be safe in the knowledge that their Constitution will not change unless every State has a fair chance to voluntarily consent to amendments. We are also confident that the American people will welcome our principled stand against bloated Federal powers and intrusive Federal courts. Now, neither the Federal Congress nor the Federal courts will have constitutional authority to interfere in State prerogatives concerning criminal law, race relations, employment or ‘fairness.’ No longer will arrogant Federal judges lord over State practices as roving ‘due process monitors.’ Our ruling will reassure States that they may rule themselves as they please, as long as they do not violate the explicit commands housed in Article I, § 10.

“From an administrative perspective, we order Congress to establish a Slavery Compensation Board (“SCB”) through which the descendants of slaveowners may seek fair market compensation, plus interest, for the unconstitutional losses caused by the Thirteenth Amendment. We further order the SCB to establish procedures to return the descendants former slaves to a condition of servitude. We leave it to the SCB to promulgate evidence requirements under which the descendants of slaveowners may prove their claims. Only those descendants truly entitled to compensation for lost slaves—and new slaves—may petition the SCB. We will not tolerate fraudulent attempts to obtain compensation or free slave labor.

“We express no judgment on the morality of slavery. As mentioned, this case is not about abstract justice or administrative convenience. This case is about constitutional procedure. The North abused constitutional procedure by enacting the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. No length of time can cure that injury. That is why we take a principled stand today to correct it. As a substantive matter, we hold that the North abused property rights by forcing the South accept amendments that wrested slaves from law-abiding owners without compensation. The South never voluntarily consented to these amendments. As jurists, we do not express opinions about whether slavery is ‘naturally wrong.’ We merely follow written law; we do not write our subjective notions of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ into the Constitution. Here, we observe that Article V clearly requires voluntary consent to constitutional amendments. We need no further basis to hold that the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments cannot stand. Any other result would disparage the fundamental, mutual consent between Federal and State authority upon which our Republic depends for continued strength.

For the foregoing reasons, we conclude that the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution were not properly ratified under the procedures enumerated in Article V. The amendments are therefore void. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is hereby REVERSED, and this case is REMANDED with instructions to reinstate the order of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, McFarlane, J.

“It is so ordered.”

Following the ruling, Federal agents announced that President Obama is the property of one Mr. T. Jeff Tarrelton of Pine Nut, Arkansas. “My great-great-great-granddaddy owned that negro’s great-great-great-great-granddaddy. So I’m a comin’ back to get what’s mine,” said Mr. Tarrelton.

No claim has yet been made on Justice Thomas.