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June 28, 2002

Changing the Rules in the Middle of the Game

I thought the test was silly. It was fourth grade and the teacher had handed out some paper with story about a kid who visited a planetarium, that included "reading comprehension" questions. Except one of the questions weren't answered in the story. I did the best I could, but there were only 4 questions and the one I missed was the one that wasn't in the story. That made my grade on the paper a D, not something I was willing to passively accept. I mean, come on, a D for missing one question? The question, as I remember it all these year later, was something about when the lights were turned on in a planetarium, something of crucial importance in the broad scheme of things I'm sure. The teacher acknowledged that the answer wasn't in the story but everyone should have known the answer already. I pointed out that I'd never been to a planetarium, and therefore I shouldn't be penalized for not knowing the particulars about their procedures. She shrugged it off and said not to make such a big deal about it. (You can see why I have so little regard for the charade of grades, and also why my kids are homeschooled). Well, that was bad enough, but this teacher happened to have been fairly lazy, so she gave the class the same assignment several months later. Having remembered, vividly, the offending question, I made sure that this time I'd get it right, after all it was a true/false question so I had it in the bag, right? Wrong. When I got my paper back, it, again had a D. The same question was marked wrong. I gently (right, lol) reminded her that the last time she was adamant that it was the other way, and had given me a bad grade. She said she changed her mind and the answer was really the other way around. I insisted on knowing how we were supposed to read her mind, but by that time she'd had enough of my "impertinence" and told me it didn't matter. Except both papers counted for my grade, and I was constantly being told by her and others that my grades were important.

That was one of my earlier introductions to the idiocy that substitutes for actual thinking in many people's heads. It also illustrates the current idiocy that the media froths when whining about the Enron/WorldCom scandals. Back in the eighties when so many Savings and Loans went under, the blame was placed squarely on Reagan. We heard it repeatedly that he was to blame, that his attitude of greed set the stage for such a massive scandal. That both houses of Congress were controlled by the Democrats for most of that time was deemed irrelevant. That the misdeeds were individual decisions, and not caused by Reagan or any official was also deemed irrelevant. Reagan was to blame, and the media took great delight in reminding us of that repeatedly.

Now we have the Enron/WorldCom scandals, also the acts of individuals within the respective companies, but this time perpetrated during the Clinton administration, but we are now told that it's the fault of Bush, the president when the companies were caught, who wasn't the president through the bulk of their misdeeds. Here again is that illogical changing of the rules in the middle of the game. The nonsensical short circuit of rational thought that makes one rule for a Republican President, and reverses it for a Democrat President.

Neither Enron or WorldCom (or the Savings and Loan failures in the eighties) collapsed our economic system. In the case of Enron, the biggest losers were employees who for the most part were aware of the financial deceptions Enron was perpetrating, and even participated in defrauding investors, yet now crying over lost retirement funds. The only real victims were the investors, and investment is always inherently dangerous. If you want to make sure your money stays safe you invest it in Mutual Funds or some investment that is diversified so that no one (or even two or three) company can cause a great loss. My wife's 401k is automatically put in the company she works for. But we have access, online, to the stock, and can move it with a few clicks of the mouse, and it is divided among several diversified investments, and not left in the stock of one company. Anyone working for Enron or WorldCom would have had access to tools for managing their pensions and had no one to blame fro their inaction.

It's looking more and more like the public is not swallowing the lie that Bush is to blame for Enron and WorldCom, or that even his policies had much to do with their problems. The involvement of Democrats and specifically Clinton is all that clear, and the bias of the media is also becoming as clear as the absence of the Emperor's New Clothes.


Posted by Jack Lewis at June 28, 2002 09:49 AM