Thursday, May 29, 2008

Adam Smith and the Need for More Government

One of the most interesting things about Adam Smith's discussion of the wealth of nations in his book of that title is his look at contemporary examples of various countries. He divides the countries, in terms of wealth, into three categories, very, moderately, and not at all. The forefunner of our own country, the 13 colonies, is the example he chooses for the "not at all" category. His own country is the example of "moderate wealth", and, most surprising to me, was his selection of China as the example in the very wealthy category. I was surprised partially because I have always thought of China as being very poor. After all, as a youngster, I was always admonished to eat my vegtables with the information that children in poor countries would be terribly grateful to have such fare--unappetizing though it seem. If the countries of residence of these poor children were mentioned at all, it varied between India and China.

What surprised me most about Smith's discussion, is the fact that he makes it clear that he is perfectly aware of those starving children and still he lists the country as among the very wealthy. What makes his discussion most intriguing for me, is that in the three countries he has chosen as examples, wealth is inversely proportional to opportunity. Thus, in China, which is very wealthy, there is little opportunity and children in the lower classes suffer terrible privation. Children unwanted are simply put to death. In England, orphaned or abandoned children are taken care of, but barely. As I read his discussion, I could see in my minds eye, a picture of Oliver Twist pleading for "more gruel".

But most surprising was his discussion of our own country, or its forfunner, the American colonies. Here, he informs us, children were in such demand, that a widowed lady with a large number of children, but little else, was sought after in the same way that a widow with a fortune would be sought after in the other "wealthier" countries. In other words, our country, poor in other ways, was rich in opportunity.

One of the chief reasons given for this fact in history books is the availability of land. We were rich in opportunity, the reasoning is, because there was lots of available land. The fallacy of that argument is clearly seen in the fact that land was just as available in other parts of the world as it was here. The reality is, of course, that there never was, there is not now, and there probably never will be available land in exactly the sense that many of these historians convey the idea. It is easy for me, for example, to leave my comfortable home, or office; to travel up and down the freeway; to survey the buildings, the homes, and a few miles down the road, the mines, the farms, the orchards, and say to myself," all this land was available". But it was no more available when my great-grandfathers came here than the bottom of the ocean is available today. When they arrived, no one wanted this land. Not even the native Americans used it. Jim Bridger said he would give $1000 dollars--a present day equivalent of much much more, especially to Jim Bridger--for the first bushel of corn raised here.

The story is not much different for the rest of this country. We like to tell the story of the purchase of New York for a hand full of beads as an indication of how very available, very valuable, land was in this country. The reality was that it was available because it was not very valuable, even to the natives.

The reality is that we must look elsewhere to discover why there was in this land so much opportunity.
I suspect that one choice would be that our land had better government than most. My personal feeling is that it could, in a way, be said to have more government than most and that therein lies the key to opportunity.

A person could very well protest that compared with Europe and China, the America of Adam Smith's day could be said to have had very little government. The problem here, I believe, is that too often we confuse government with "the government". This is a confusion that is common in many different areas in our day. Hence, "labor" can mean, as it always has, "work","effort", or "diligence", or it can mean all the trappings, including the members, associated with labor unions. "Education" can mean "learning", discipline, and good manners or it can mean all the things associated with public schools. Fortunately, with the word government there is yet a distinction. When we speak of government as the way a society is ordered we use the single word, "government". When, on the other hand, we speak of the various means that are used to bring about order in society, we frequently use the expression, "the government". The latter refers to police and judges, lawyers and bureaucrats, buildings and machinery, weapons and tools. But government is the thing which all of these things are put in place to achieve. That is the thing, that in my opinion, America had more of than Europe and China. And therein lies the lesson.

I believe anyone looking around America today would recognize much of what Adam Smith says belonged to the "very wealthy" countries of his day, particularly China. The key here, and I think that this is critical, is that people who are not seen as having a guaranteed future are not particularly welcome. There is not the opportunity that we find Adam Smith describing. Immigrants are welcome only if they have a job skill we absolutely know we need. State and local governments throw out the welcome mat and offer bonuses and tax incentives to large, well-established, wealthy corporations; these same government entities use tax money for promotions and advertisements to attract wealthy residents and tourists; but most of them use every means at their disposal to discourage poor people or small struggling companies from coming into their jurisdictions. Worst of all, the infanticide which Smith said characterized the lack of opportunity in China, is very much with us in America. The homelessness we see in the England of Dickens, is also very much a part of the contemporary American scene. In short, the kind of wealth of opportunity that Adam Smith saw as characteristic of the American colonies is (or maybe already has) largely disappearing. I believe that the reason can be found in the lack of government.

In individuals we refer to government as self-government, or self control or self-discipline. This important quality in an individual creates opportunity. Lack of it quickly destroys opportunity. We have all heard of people who with very few personal resources in the ways of inherited wealth or good looks or remarkable intelligence or even good health or education are still able by dint of very careful governing of what few resources they did have to make remarkable contributions. On the other hand, we all know of individuals who have been blessed with abundant resources--have inherited large fortunes, or been very talented, or have been very attractive, and consequently, have seemed to have vast opportunites and yet have dissipated those opportunites by poor self-government.

One of the key differences in those who create opportunity for themselves by good discipline and those we speak of as being "dissipated" is the profound insight into the degree to which we are all personally responsible for so much that affects our lives. The dissipated seem to be full of excuses such as "someone else (sometimes even non-material beings such as extra-terrestrials or the devil are invoked for this purpose) made me do it" or "that's just the way I am", or "my family has always been that way".
Likewise, in states and nations, the chief ingredient for opportunity, it seems to me, is government. If there is government, then people can study the law and know that it will be enforced and direct their activities accordingly. On the other hand, if there is a weak government or no government, laws mean little and people are confused about what they can and cannot do. A great deal of energy and time are wasted in enterprises and undertakings that turn out to be not protected by law because there is none. This makes citizens of a nation reticent in making undertakings--they become passive.

A corollary to this is the fact that government is always very difficult. Self-government is, for the overwhelming majority of mankind, the most difficult task they can undertake. "He that ruleth himself is better than he that taketh a city" King Solomon is reported to have said--"or he that taketh a country", he might have added as the story of his own life, the life of his father, and the life of his father's predecessor all prove. The humility of King Saul, the courage of King David, and the wisdom of Solomon are proverbial, yet all three of these men failed in the critical task of self-government.

Likewise, the task of governing a group, a city, a state, or a nation is the most difficult task facing that group. The question of government is always the most critical.

But, you may say, if anything, the American colonies could be said to have hardly any government. They were, after all, as Adam Smith pointed out, poor--almost desperately poor. They simply could not afford much government. Europe, and apparently, China, on the other hand, were comparitively very wealthy. They could, and did, afford a great deal of governemnt.
The problem here, I believe, is the tendancy to confuse the thing with the agent, i. e., to confuse the government with the agent of the government. We are confusing the law and its enforcement with the various people, buildings, tools, and other means used to create and administer the law. In a word, we are confusing government with "the government".

The American colonies had very little of "the government", but it had a great deal of government. In his famous speech in parliament, trying to reconcile the Bristish government with its rebellious colonies, Edmund Burke tells us that amongst our forefathers, their chief passion was freedom, but it was a passion for freedom not grounded on any abstract formulation, but on the solid footing of law. He quotes General Gage as saying that all the people in the colonies are lawyers. Burke notes that in the American colonies there are as many copies of Blackstone--the standard law text of the day--as in Britain, although, the latter had many times the population and many many times more wealth. Compare that situation with our own day when ignorance of the law is almost as widespread as indifference toward it.

Their respect for law was such that if a law threatened to abridge a cherished right or freedom, they acted vigorously--even violently, at times--to have it changed. Even when they felt themselves forced into the ultimate illegal act--rebellion against "the government"--they sought justification in reference to a higher law. And it was that respect for law and government that kept the American revolution from becoming a riot followed by a tyranny, as happened in so many other countries.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Freeman Essays--III Dickens and the Two Faces of the Law

I wrote this essay and submitted it to The Freeman shortly after the death of Howard Hughes, when it looked very much that like the estate in litigation in Dickens' novel was used up in legal fees, that of Howard Hughes would also be considerably reduced thereby because of the various conflicting wills that were surfacing.

Charles Dickens' "Bleak House" and the Two Faces of the Law

Long before Bastiat wrote his famous treatise on The Law, it was known that the law could be used for good and evil purposes. It was Bastiat's genius to show that the law becomes evil, even when its intentions are for good, if it attempts to go beyond the basic functions of protecting men from theft and fraud and use of force against their persons.

It is doubtful that Charles Dickens, the great English novelist, ever read Bastiat's treatise, or that he even thought very deeply about theory of the law. But he wrote a great deal about the law. While Bastiat struggled with the law in a parliamentary setting, Dickens observed its workings by mingling with the common people. He spent innumerable hours wandering through the back streets and alleys, sitting in the pubs and music halls, talking with the street vendors and urchins of London and other major cities of England. In recording those observations in a fictional setting, Dickens demonstrates the basic truths of Bastiat's writings in the practical everyday experiences of ordinary people.

One of Dickens' books in which the workings of the law figures most prominently is Bleak House; indeed, its sub-title is,"On the Slow Workings of the Law". Like all of Dickens great works, this work features a host of plots and sub-plots with a cast of dozens of characters. Their lives and the various sub-plots are related by the fact that they are all affected some way by a court case,"Jarndyce vs Jarndyce", which has been dragging its way through the English courts for years.

One of the great themes of the book is the deterioration of body, mind, and soul that occurs in those who hope to enrich themselves, without compensatory effort, on the workings of the law. Early in the book, the nominal hero of the book--or at least, the character introduced with all the characteristics of the hero--young, handsome, strong, vivacious, enthusiastic, and, of course, in love--finds that if the case of "Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce" is decided in a certain way, that he stands to become a major beneficiary in the huge estate being litigated. The hope that a favorable decision of the law may make him forever financially secure is a siren song that our young hero cannot resist. The case becomes an obsession that vitiates his every faculty.
Near the end of the book, the case reaches a conclusion that should have a very familiar ring to modern Americans. The lawyers, clerks, witnesses, legal authorities, litigants, and other interested parties come pouring out of the courthouse when it is discovered that the entire assets of this vast estate have been used up in lawyer fees and other legal costs.

My personal favorite character in this book is the embodiment of the law--the policeman, Inspector Bucket. Inspector Bucket is often proclaimed as the first of a long line of distinguished English literary detectives, that was later to include Sherlock Holmes, Father Brown, Lord Peter Wimsey, and many others. Unlike these more famous detectives, Inspector Bucket is more true to life, in that, he shows us in his work both faces of the law.

The face or side of the law that we admire and generally think of as "the law" is, of course, the prevention and punishment of crime; i. e. assaults by violence or fraud upon other people's persons or property. Inspector Bucket is at his best in this novel as he fulfills this function. His main task is to discover who murdered a Mr. Tulkinghorn and bring him to justice. In this capacity we see Inspector Bucket indeed as the worthy forerunner of Sherlock Holmes. In gathering clues, and checking out suspects, he is as clever and indefatigable as his famous successor. Also in this capacity he is thoroughly likable and admirable. He plays with children, encourages the downtrodden, helps old ladies, but never once losses sight of his main objective--justice.
But in one capacity in which Dickens portrays the otherwise good man, Inspector Bucket is neither likeable nor admirable--other than the fact that he could (or at least, would) say of himself, "I was merely doing my duty."

To portray this other face of the law and of its embodiment, Inspector Bucket, Dickens created what was probably the most pathetic of his child sufferers. Although, not nearly so famous as Oliver Twist, Little Nell, or Tiny Tim Crachet, the boy he created for Bleak House, named simply "Jo", is, in many ways, more admirable than those other, more famous, characters. Dickens makes it clear that even in his name--two letters with no descriptive adjective--we see the terrible poverty and bleakness of the child's prospects. He is an orphan who is both mentally and physically retarded. He is assisted in the business of living by associates barely more capable than himself. He manages to keep himself clothed and fed because, in spite of all his handicaps, he has learned a trade. He is a crossing-sweep.

Apparently, the streets in Dickens' day were very dirty. Besides paper and debris, there was the even more unpleasant, everywhere-present, horse manure. Jo had been taught by his associates to clean a path through this garbage for people--especially well-dressed people--as they approached his street corner. As they crossed, they would frequently--partially, no doubt, out of pity for his condition, but partially, out of real gratitude for the service rendered--leave him a tip.
Dickens tells us, however, that the presence of Jo and his associates was an embarrassment to the local politicians. He was a constant reminder that they were not living up to their responsibility to keep the streets clean. So they sent Inspector Bucket to gently, but firmly, move Jo and the others to a less conspicuous part of the city.

I suspect that many would say that what Jo needed was a government handout. It is clear that in Dickens' mind what Jo needed from the government was protection, but nothing else. It is clear that Dickens' admired the freedom and self-sufficiency Jo's cross-sweepings gave him, but it is obvious that someone like Jo cannot easily and quickly retrain for a new way of making a living.

I suspect that Dickens, in his wanderings through England's large towns, observed many men, women, and children, who, like Jo, had been forced, through government edicts of some kind, from constructive work. Of course, only careful observation or thoughtful deduction can detect lost opportunity. For example, only someone actually seeing Jo before and after Inspector Bucket had moved him, would actually know that he had been excluded from the cross-sweep way of earning a living. Someone observing him in his new situation, begging or stealing, or both, would probably assume that that had been his way of life all his days.

As I see people in our own cities begging, and read of the growing numbers of people living by crime, I often wonder how many of these people are, like Jo, driven from something they have done, or potentially could do, because America's Inspector Bucketts--mostly good men who sincerely want to see justice done--are forced more and more to put on the ugly face of the law and undermine, or even destroy opportunities for those who need them most.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Freeman Essays--II--Sir Walter Scott on Lawyers

If you have read any of my previous blogs, you know that my father was a lawyer. Lawyers have always fascinated me. What fascinated me about my father and the other lawyers I knew as a child was their confidence in the power of law to achieve good ends, independent of the laws consonance with Natural Law. I wrote the following essay during a period of my life when I was deep into the novels of Sir Walter Scott. I will discuss some of the lessons of his better, Scottish novels later, but having just written about my father, I felt this one most appropriate.

Lawyers as Knights--A Look at Scott's Ivanhoe

In 1819 Sir Walter Scott, the great Scottish novelist lay dying. He called his family together and said his last farewell and prepared to depart this world. During the long and painful illness that had preceded this farewell, Scott had dictated, often between screams of pain, the novel The Bride of Lammermoor. His condition during this dictation was so near the level of unconsciousness, that in later reviewing the text of the novel, he claimed that he did not recognize a single line!
After saying his farewell, he began a miraculous recovery. His joy at living and being free from the agony of constant pain, so buoyed his spirits that he wrote, almost joyously, the novel for which he is best remembered, Ivanhoe. Scott had been very careful about historical details in his earlier Scottish novels, but in this romp through Merrie Old England, he allowed himself great license. Historians love to point out the many inaccuracies, anomalies, and anachronisms that occur, but accuracy was obviously not his purpose. He wanted to tell a good story and in that, as generations since have attested, he succeeded magnificently.

One of the most interesting things that casting the story into the middle ages allowed him to do is to give a very accurate description of his fellow lawyers--something he would hardly have dared do in a story set closer to his own time. Scott was by day a lawyer himself, but his heart was in the heather, and according to his biographers, while the proceedings dragged on in his courtroom, he was using the incidents and characters that were playing themselves out before him to weave stories of the past.

In this instance, rather than cast his fellow lawyers as lawyers at all, he cast them as knights. Knights were, after all, the agents of justice and redistribution in Medieval England. They were essentially to Medieval society what lawyers are to modern society.

Just as lawyers in modern society recognize that their power is privileged and must, therefore, be closely regulated, so also with the knights. They had codes of honor and ethics, just as our modern lawyers.

By examining the role that Scott's knights played in medieval society, I believe, we can better understand the role of lawyers in our own. After all, Scott is really describing lawyers, and they haven't really changed that much since his day. It might also help us to understand what we can do to make our society a freer and happier one.

Like most great novels, Ivanhoe has a cast of dozens of characters, but Scott paints a vivid portrait of six knights. Of these he clearly has little admiration for three, mixed feelings toward one, and great admiration for two. Let us look at each in turn.
At the bottom of the heap, as far as honor is concerned is Reginold Font de Bouf. Here is a knight who is kept from wholesale rape and rapine only by the strictest censures and almost overt threats. He wants, of course, to have the privileges of knighthood, but it is clear that he intends to use and abuse those privileges as much as he possibly thinks he can and still get away with it. In the novel he attacks a defenseless party of travelers and takes them to his castle to demand a ransom for them. He is the kind of knight that is an embarrassment and shame to the order. One wonders which of his colleagues, Scott had in mind when he created Font de Bouf. My own feeling is that one reason for the increased dislike for lawyers in our society is that the number of Font de Boufs amongst them is swelling. The tragedy is that the rack and ruin they bring through their own actions is minuscule compared to what they bring about by condoning, defending, and even, encouraging poor behavior in others.

For my part, when I think of him, I think of a lawyer who told a good friend of mine all the things he could do to continue to push illegal drugs and not be brought to justice. My friend went to jail and the lawyer, for different reasons, was himself convicted of a felony, but his friends at the bar rallied round him--as so often happens with lawyers--and his sentence was suspended.

In Ivanhoe, Font de Bouf is finally brought to justice by one of the knights Scott admired, King Richard the Lion-hearted, acting in concert with the outlaw, Robin Hood. But Richard dared do it only because he was incognito as "the Black Knight".
The second knight, obviously not particularly admired by Scott, was Miles De Bracy. De Bracy was a knight who used his knighthood as a vehicle for advancement by attaching himself to the party in power. In our day he would represent the kind of lawyer who offers his services as a support bureaucrat. De Bracy obviously has no political convictions, or indeed any convictions at all, other than the fact that Miles De Bracy, having achieved knighthood, deserves to live well. While Prince John is the ruler, he is his faithful servant, but the moment he discovers that King Richard has returned, he offers his services to him, fully aware that John will shortly be deposed. Scott depicts Richard as far too noble a person to accept the services of such as De Bracy, even when his need was really desperate.

It seems to me that the tremendous growth of the government at all levels has produced a veritable army of De Bracys--men with almost no real personal political conviction, but who are eager to use their training as lawyers to assure themselves a prime post in the burgeoning public sector. They are adept at mouthing the sentiments that they think will bring them into the service of whoever happens to be in power at the moment, but those sentiments are subject to change at a moments notice--a single election result, or even a new Gallup poll is frequently all it takes.

The third knight--also not much admired by Scott--is Lucas Beaumanoir. Scott pictures him as the hard-bitten old idealogue whose self-righteous zeal for the cause has made him blind to every real human consideration. He reminds me of a cartoon character I saw many years ago who proclaimed, "I love mankind, it's people I can't stand." Years of single minded devotion have resulted in his being chosen Grand Master of the Knights Templar. He is discouraged that so many of the knights in his order have used their position to further their own personal ends. He is sure that he knows exactly what is right for everyone and is ruthless in his determination to see that his vision of good is enforced.

The fourth knight is Brian de Bois-Guilbert. In many ways he is the central character in Scott's romance. He is a brilliant and accomplished knight. In terms of battle strategy and prowess, he is clearly second only to Richard, and possibly Ivanhoe. He is beaten by Ivanhoe at a tournament early in the book but it is clear that the two are very nearly equal.

It would be very interesting to know who Scott had in mind when he painted de Bois-Guilbert. Here is clearly the lawyer who started out his career with the determination to use his considerable talents for the furthering of justice, but at some point became embittered and cynical. In the novel, de Bois-Guilbert sees only two roads for the knight. Either he becomes the hardened old idealogue and fanatic, like the Grand Master of his order, Lucas Beaumanoir, or he sinks into the self-serving debauchee, like Font de Boeuf. Of course, he never really sees himself sinking that low. He intends, like his friend, Albert Malvoisin, to keep up the appearances of nobility, but such as de Bois-Guilbert are not very adept at hypocrisy. In the novel he is kept from sinking either to the level of Font de Boef, or to the hypocrisy of his friend, by his association with a beautiful Jewess, Rebecca.

Rebecca is the one person in the novel Ivanhoe whom critics say sounds the depths of character for which Scott is famous in his greater Scottish novels. When she and Brian first meet, she is a prisoner in Font de Boef's castle, and Brian de Bois-Guilbert attempts to violate her--an indication how much he was becoming like his host. In a justly famous passage, she jumps to the window of a turret and says she will cast herself down rather than submit to his advances. He approaches her just enough to realize that she is being truthful and retreats. Her nobility of character grips him so much that at the end of the novel, before she is to be tried by combat, he offers to flee with her and make her his wife. She refuses. For no consideration, not even for saving her life, will she consent to become the wife of a lawyer--that is a knight. One can't help but feel that the world would be a much better place if there were more women like Rebecca. Of course, in many of the dramatizations of the play, she actually does become the wife of one--Ivanhoe, but Scott would have nothing of that, and even if he did, it is much different, as we will see when we discuss Ivanhoe.

One of the criticisms leveled against Scott is his use in this novel of a Trial by Combat--a concept they claim had disappeared much earlier. Of course, in that concept, a person is judged guilty or innocent depending upon the performance of his or her champion and the champion of the opposition. That Scott believed in it is clear. That lawyers believe in it, or at least give it lip service, is also clear by the fact that they allow lawyers to withhold material evidence from trial. The idea is that if it was really meant to be brought forth, the opposition will somehow find out about it.

Of all the knights in the story Brian de Bois-Gilbert is the one most frequently involved in the action. But he is not the hero. He is trapped by his own cynicism. He has all the making of a truly great knight, but he has arrived at the point where he can really see no value in knighthood. Because he is locked into the system, he arrives at the point where using his skill as a knight will take the life of the only person he really cares about--Rebecca.

It is clear that although he did not particularly admire de Bois-Guilbert, that Scott was fascinated by him. He probably saw many of his colleagues start out with high ideals, only to sacrifice them and become cynical and begin using his great skill for purely personal ends. Hence, because he was skilled the innocent are imprisoned and the guilty set free. This character, more than any other in the novel, shows the terrible limitations on achieving good ends through the use of violence and argument--even when they are backed by a high code of ethics. To see the real limitations, however, one must go to the Knight Scott clearly greatly admired and look at him from a perspective that Scott--in this novel at least, chose not to see.

That character is Richard, the Lion-hearted. Scott actually featured Richard in prominently in two novels--Ivanhoe and The Talisman. In the latter he is actually out-done by his Muslim opponent, Saladin, but he is obviously admired in both. In Ivanhoe, however, he is unbeatable. He is the knight's knight. He is perfectly strong, clever, brave, just, compassionate, and everything else you could possibly want a boy scout, a knight, or even a lawyer to be. Against incredible odds, he saves Ivanhoe at the tournament of Ashby, he conquers Font De Boeuf, who is protected not only by an all-but-invincible castle, but also by some of the best knights in England, and he does it with the help of a few rag-tag outlaws; he refuses the services of the servile De Bracy; finally, he hastens to the rescue of the helpless Jewess, Rebecca.

Although I would hesitate to name a modern archetype for the other characters, I have no hesitation in naming one that I think many in our society who is seen in the same light as Scott saw Richard--that is John F. Kennedy. He is widely viewed as a person who accomplished wonderful things for the poor and down trodden, who used his law training and his skill in politics to serve the ends of social justice. And I think the results are exactly the same as those for King Richard.

Scott, as I said, clearly admired Richard. He is certainly not alone. Winston Churchill in his History of the English-Speaking Peoples says of Richard in obvious admiration--even envy--"His life was one glorious pageant." But as other historians, not so taken by the charisma of his character have pointed out, it was a pageant paid for dearly by the common people of England. Richard Adams, for example, in The Land and Literature of England titles his discussion of this period with "Two bad kings: a hero and a villain." Richard, of course, is the "hero" and his brother, John, the "villain". But, terms of being a blessing, neither was better than the other. The problem with Richard was, according to Adams,was that he "was a fighter and nothing else." Unfortunately, therein lies the problem with both knights and lawyers--very few of them recognize how very limited the possibilities are for obtaining any really good end by arguing or fighting. To see the possibilities in that area we have to look to the final knight in our discussion--Ivanhoe.

If you have ever seen a dramatization of Ivanhoe and compared it with the book, you know that faithful dramatization is almost never attempted. The reason is that in the book, Ivanhoe, the nominal hero of the book, spends most of the novel in bed recuperating from the wounds he suffered at a tournament at Ashby. Lying in bed is not a particularly favorable place for the hero of a sword-and-shield swashbuckler to show off his talents. Nevertheless, Ivanhoe is the hero and by making him such, Scott shows us his own insight into real life. Ivanhoe is the hero not for any great thing he does on the battlefield in the tournaments, great and important as that may be. In that area he is clearly excelled by Richard and equalled by de Bois-Gilbert. He is the hero because of the quality of his character, something hard to portray in a swashbuckling drama.
After the main events detailed in the book, we are told that he retires to his father's estate where he takes over the management of the estate; in other words, he ceases to spend his time as a knight and becomes a farmer and landlord. His experience with lance and battle-axe probably did little to increase the quality of crops and livestock on his land, but it probably did help him to resist the encroaches of the likes of Reginold Front de Boef and Miles de Bracy. It was probably men like Ivanhoe who made Magna Charta possible.

In our own society it is often men like Ivanhoe, who have studied argumentation and law, many of whom who have actually practiced for a while, but who decide to move on into more productive pursuits, who are among our most important contributors in science, medicine, business, and religion. I don't know what your church is like, but almost half the leaders in mine are men that somewhere along the line have decided that saving souls is more important than winning arguments, even if those arguments are in court and winning them (or even losing them) is highly profitable.

For me the lessons in Ivanhoe, are first the terrible limitations to violence and the threats of violence in achieving good ends, and second, the terrible temptation to those who do use them under license from the government for clearly defined ends, even under the restraints of codes of ethics and honor, to subvert its intended aims for their personal ends.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The "Freeman" Essays I--O.Henry retells Cinderella.

Several years ago I wrote, and submitted, a number of essays to the Freeman magazine. They were, for the most part, essays on literary topics relating to economics. One of these, an essay on Jane Austen, was actually published, but the others were not. I finally got a note from Sheldon Richman, who was most generous. He said of the essay he was returning that it was "very good" but "not the sort of thing for the Freeman". So I will publish them here in my blog.

The first was written shortly after the Disney Co. redid "Cinderella" by Rogers and Hammerstein for a TV series they were doing. Because the production had a multiracial cast, e.g. even Cinderella's family consisted of different races, the production was much commented on.

Cinderella, O. Henry and Freedom--A Discussion of the Role of
Government in Achieving Happy Endings

Since the Walt Disney Co. recently produced a multi-racial version of Cinderella, there has been much discussion about what really makes for a happy ending, particularly in a girl's life. One commentator claimed that in spite of it all, "the prince is in charge of the happy ending." Such comments, it seems to me, show a complete missing of the point. Even worse, some feminists seem to imply that access to government grants and government jobs, indeed, any high paying, high profile job, will mean a "happy ending" and without the burden of a prince or a marriage.

Of course, it is true that Cinderella takes place in the middle ages. At that time, about the only way to get much money was to inherit it or steal it, or both. Indeed, those who inherited it had worked out an elaborate rationale that allowed them to use the government to steal it for them. This was the process referred to by Bastiat as 'plunder by government". In those days, to work, to earn, to save, to serve, were definitely not the ways to get ahead, not financially, at least. People who tried that route were very carefully and closely regulated. Politicians--and in those days politicians all inherited their positions--wanted to make sure that people born on the wrong side of the track stayed there. Of course, there were people who managed to change their inherited positions in life, as anyone who has visited a couple of Shakespeare festivals knows, but they did it with a knife or a bottle of poison.

So if you happened to be a meek, mild mannered young damsel who would not hurt a fly--or a mouse--it would certainly take someone's help to get you ahead--in a financial way, at least. So a prince who could enlist the assistance of many men not above using a little violence or the threat thereof would certainly be of assistance. And so too would a fairy god-mother, since she had the ability to turn rather ordinary, plentiful things, like rags, pumpkins, and mice, into valued, rarer things like beautiful dresses, carriages, and draft horses. Of course, people who work,earn, save and serve, do the same sort of thing, but fairy god-mothers have the advantage of being able to do it in such a manner that it is difficult for government bureaucrats to regulate very closely.

Of course, those who think--and apparently most of the commentators I read do so think--that princes and fairy god-mothers are necessary to true happiness, have missed the whole point of the story.

It is also true that for such people the original story is much maligned, as is much of our folk and traditional literature. For one thing, it is hard in this day of modern technology, to believe in fairy god-mothers. For that reason, my own favorite "Cinderella" story is a short story by O. Henry entitled "The Trimmed Lamp". O. Henry showed in this wonderful story that where people are truly free, there is absolutely no need for a fairy god-mother, or more accurately, I suppose, that freedom is a sort-of fairy god-mother.

The story is about two roommates who have come to New York City to earn a living and in other ways "make their way in life.". Times have gotten tough back home. And of course, therein lies the first lesson. In a truly free society, when things get tough at home you don't hang around waiting for your step-mother to force you to sit in the corner by the cinders or until your step-sisters rip up all your nice clothes, you simply take off. In a free society, the one thing that is always available is opportunity. Of course, the society of O. Henry's day, wasn't really free. In fact, one very careful observer, William Graham Sumner, said that it wasn't all that much better than medieval society in terms of the amount of government regulation. But apparently, it was enough better that people could, like the two girls in the story, leave home, and survive.

One girl, the heroine, named Nancy, has decided that she will only marry a millionaire--O. Henry's equivalent of a Prince. The other girl, Lou, will be happy with any half-decent prospect that comes along. For her, the whole marry-a-millionaire mentality is so much pie-in-the-sky idealism. She views herself as the practical realist.

O. Henry was known for his surprise endings, so the outcome of this situation will come as no surprise--especially, since Hollywood has done about a dozen movies with this theme and the same ending. Of course, you guessed it. Nancy marries the ordinary Joe (in this case, "Dan"), and Lou snags the millionaire. There is, however, at the end of the story, a little bit of a double twist that gives the story much of its meaning. Unlike the Hollywood versions I have seen, where the outcome is a matter of luck or deception, or both, O. Henry, in his story, makes it clear that Nancy probably could have snagged a millionaire. In fact, she does, on a couple of occasions, reject opportunities from men who turn out to be just under the requisite million, which, by today's standard would put them well into the millionaire category.

What gives this story a great deal of its charm, is the fact that O. Henry has foreseen modern skeptics. To counter their cynicism he has made his story into a miniature how-to-do-it manual. He has given us a step-by-step and dollar-for-dollar account of how Nancy did it. Of course, he does not include the exact pattern of the millionaire's wife--Mrs. Van Alstyne Fisher's--jacket or dress,which Nancy very carefully imitates with cheaper material, nor does he lay out in great detail the exact menu Nancy maintains-- that would have dated the story too much. But he does give us the exact prices and the income required to achieve the results. Of course, a person would have to make some allowance for inflation, Social Security deductions, sales and income taxes, and deductions for benefits, but other than that, it is all there. The exact steps necessary to marry a millionaire. In this marvelous manual, O. Henry has removed all of the guess-work out of becoming a "Cinderella".

And then we get the one-two punch at the end. The first punch tells us that it just isn't worth it. That was the message in the Hollywood movies. That's what all the commentators were saying that I read in commenting on Disney's new version. After all, it is the government that can do it for us if they really want to. Where did the Prince get his money but from the government? How Charming would he be without that money, anyway? And then O. Henry delivers that second punch. It is that punch that tells us that maybe, just maybe, it would be worth it after all. It is in the delivery of the second punch that the government is helpless. O. Henry knows exactly what he is doing, when at the end of the story, he has a policeman come to assist. After all, the policeman is the embodiment of the government. But he is a policeman, not a politician. He recognizes that there are inherent limitations to what the government can do. And he walks away knowing that in this case, he can not help. The government cannot really help a girl who has not "trimmed her lamp." It can, of course, furnish a prince, or transfer enough resources to a person to make them relatively wealthy, but it can never give the clear triumph of real happiness.

This fact is, in a way, acknowledged in the much-maligned Disney cartoon version of Cinderella. There is much of the O. Henry ethic in that film. It is an ethic, I believe that springs from the profound conviction that men and women are the makers of their own destinies. In a free society, this is a truth perceived by most people. In a tightly controlled society, it is an insight requiring incredible perception, and hence, perceived by very few.

My own favorite scene in that movie occurs when the ugly step-sisters are being given music lessons. While they warble away painfully, Cinderella begins singing. Her singing is, of course, as beautiful as she herself is. But the message of that version is that the sweetness of her character, like the sweetness of her voice, has been developed because of, rather than in spite of, her challenges. Her great love of the downtrodden springs from her own struggles.

Can anyone seriously believe that she lives "happily ever after" because of the Prince? She is remarkable because she is cheerful and productive in the face of great adversity and challenge and even injustice. I cannot help but believe that she would be happy only as she continued to do the same. The message of many of the detractors is that she can now be happy because she is greatly honored and little challenged.

Of course, that is what Nancy wanted for herself when she came to New York. She felt that by marrying a millionaire--a prince, so to speak--she could join the ranks of the fabled "happy" i.e. those who are greatly honored and little challenged. It is said that O. Henry loved to watch the people of New York. He could see that for four million people living together in comparative freedom, life was full of little surprises. It is in the surprises, and in the growth that comes from adjusting to them, that real happiness lies. O. Henry tells us in a single punch at the end of his story that to be ever and always and forever as graceful of manner, as light of heart, as charming of speech, as well-gowned and well-groomed as Cinderella--or even as Mrs. Alstyne Fisher--at the ball; and to do it all on $8 a week is real happiness--a happiness you may not want to exchange--even for a crown.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The "Freeman" articles

For my next entries into my blog, I will be reprinting articles I submitted to the "Freeman" magazine, the magazine for the Foundation for Economic Education. These are mostly articles that relate literature to economics. One of these, an article on Jane Austen was actually published, but the others were not. The editor, Sheldon Richman, was kind enough to say that they were good articles but "not for the Freeman". The first will be about that most popular of all stories, Cinderella, and what O. Henry did with that story.

Monday, May 5, 2008

On Dad and the Law--Epilogue

In this final, and rather more serious, installment about my dad's experiences with the practice of law, I explain how we came to leave Pocatello. I hope at some future date to return to my Pocatello experiences, telling more about growing up there, especially, my experiences in Jr. High and High School. But for now, I am going to leave Pocatello and start using this space to post other experiences and ideas.

Well, it was clear that Dad was getting discouraged. He had been successful at so many things, but never, I feel that he thought, at his practice of law. He started to say how badly he wanted to be a judge. "Why?" I asked him. "Because," he explained, "everyone hates lawyers." "I would think that they would hate the judge even more." I responded. "Oh, no, no matter what happens, even when it is really the judges fault when something goes wrong in a case, no one ever blames the judge. They always blame the lawyer. If he loses the case, it's his fault and his fault alone, they feel. If he wins the case, the client is still unhappy because he(the client) is convinced that the lawyer should have won more, or even if he wins all he asked for, the client then thinks he should have gone for more in the first place." In these articles I have made fun of two local attorneys, Mr. Barton and Mr Swapp, who brag in advertisements about how much they win for their clients. Of course, unlike what I said in an earlier article, they do not always win one million dollars, or even claim that they do, but I have always suspected that the people on the adds, are not really their clients. I have suspected that they are probably actors. The reason is that they are so happy. "Oh, Mr. Swapp" (and their manner and facial expressions imply, "that wonderful, wonderful man") won me X amount of dollars." Unless Mr. Barton's and Mr. Swapp's experience is vastly different than my dad's, those people are not really happy, no matter how much they (Barton or Swapp) won for them.

At any rate, Dad was really, really tired of being a small town attorney. And so, he ran for judge. In the entire history of Idaho, a challenger had never unseated a sitting judge (or so Dad said), but he was convinced that he would provide the first exception. One of the district judges, (whose name eludes me) was, Dad claimed, an alcoholic. Dad could not, of course, state that in his campaign. That was unethical and besides, The Bar would not allow it. But he could, and did, point out that the man's court record was not good. He was constantly missing court appointments and postponing trial dates and in other ways, not meeting his obligations. Well, anyway, Dad lost the election. Within a few years, the judicial commission felt obligated to ask the man to retire, so Dad felt that he should be appointed, having run for the position, and actually, done quite well. But no, in what was probably intended as a slap at my dad, the judicial commission appointed his partner, George Hargraves, instead. Why they did that is anyone's guess, but many saw it as an attempt--a successful one--to humiliate Dad. For one thing, George's heart had never been in the law. He had a number of hobbies that were his real interest. According to my dad, long before the judge thing ever came up, Dad had had to help George in almost every case he had attempted. To now make him a judge in Dad's stead, was an almost unbearable insult.

It was at this point that Dad remembered, that he was, after all, a bureaucrat at heart. He went with his hat in his hand, after more than 20 years, back to his former employer, the Social Security Administration. A few years before he had been appointed by the church as Stake President, the lay administrator over several congregations, the one obligation that he felt would keep him in Pocatello. He was on his way out the door late Friday afternoon, headed for Salt Lake City for General Conference, when he got a phone call from Social Security, offering him a job as a Federal Administration Law Judge, if, and only if, he could come almost immediately. It seems they had a large backlog of Black Lung cases that required immediate attention and a new judge was needed to handle the load. He promised to call first thing Monday morning with a response. While in Salt Lake, he spoke with Elder Boyd Packer, the church leader who had called him to be Stake President. Elder Packer gave him his blessing about accepting the new job, so Dad did and in a couple of weeks, he was gone, leaving Mom behind to close his law practice and to make arrangements for the house and other things that needed to be done.

During all this, I was away at college, as was Gavin. Erin was in Italy eating spaghetti, soaking up culture, and hopefully doing a little missionary work on the side and Loni was in Rexburg at Ricks college where her husband, Allen, was a professor. We were all, (except Erin, of course, who was too far away and too busy soaking up culture) to gather for one last big Thanksgiving dinner in the old house. After Thanksgiving dinner, Dad and Mom would drive back to Virginia with a trailer full of furniture and other things, and the rest of us would go our separate ways. I was really looking forward to this last time together in the house that carried so many fond memories. But the night before Thanksgiving, it began snowing and was a regular blizzard. Dad said that he and Mom could not wait for dinner, but had to leave early in the morning. So everyone dispersed, leaving me alone with a sleeping bag in an otherwise empty house. Dad came up to me before he left, handed me $5, told me to go to a restaurant and get Thanksgiving dinner and asked me to stay the night and meet with the real estate agent the next day and give him the key to the house.

Later that night, as I looked out over the valley, I wept, knowing that I would not likely ever live in so beautiful a place again. In front of the house was a small forest of junipers with a stream running through them. Across the street was a golf course with the Portneuf River running behind it and beyond that was Pocatello overlooked by the black lava cliffs and rising above them the mountains that surrounded the valley. As I looked, I reflected on all the things Dad had done. When we first came back from Germany, he had gotten involved with the campaign to eliminate gambling. He had been the chairman of the Pocatello School Board. He had served as a trustee of the state and national school board association. He was a major in the local Civil Aronautics Patrol, he had been president of the Community Concert Association, a popular speaker and singer at both church and civic events. His Lion's Club Quartet had won national recognition. He had started and directed numerous choirs for civic and church events, all this and much more that I can't remember and probably things I never knew about. But in spite of this, I don't think he ever really felt successful as a lawyer.

It was just before Christmas a couple of years after we were back from Germany. Dad gathered us around the kitchen table. "I don't want you to expect anything for Christmas this year," he had announced. "Business has not been good this year, and we have no money." "Don't worry Dad," I said. "Santa will bring us some nice things." Mom cried, but Dad just lowered his voice. "Sometimes", he said solemnly, "Santa doesn't bring things to poor people." It was at that instant that I realized something very important about Christmas and Santa. Well, we got some very nice things. I got the big red bike I had asked for as well as some nice clothes. After Christmas I asked Mom how we could afford this. She said, "I really do not know." And so for weeks, every time a police car came by, I expected him to stop and take back the bike, or worse, to take Dad to jail for non-payment of debts. After a few weeks, I realized it was ok and began to enjoy to bike. Years later, I asked Dad, "Why did you tell us there was no money and then get us the nice things." "You know, it was the most amazing thing," he said. "A client who owed me money and who I had pestered for months for some sort of payment, and on whom I had really given up all hope of ever receiving anything, came up to me a couple of days before Christmas and paid his bill in full."

Several years later, Dad had brought me into school. I was student body president of Pocatello High School and thought, therefore, that I was Someone and that I needed to look like Someone for the Homecoming Events, so I asked Dad for a new suit. Dad got really quiet. "Son," he said after a pause, "I have not made any money this whole year. We have lived entirely on savings for over a year. I cannot buy you a suit now or probably anytime soon. I wish with all my heart that I could." And he began to sob. I had never, in my whole life, heard my dad cry, so I said,"I don't really need a suit." and cried myself. What had happened was that Dad had signed a petition to place the "right to work" on the ballet in Idaho. He claimed later that he did it because he was a Democrat, like almost everyone else in Pocatello, and that Democrats believed in giving the people the right to vote on important issues. He quickly learned that, although there were a great many Democrats in Pocatello, there were very few democrats in that sense. Eventually, his practice picked up and he was able to do better, but that was really the blow that resulted in his leaving town. For my part, although I didn't get my suit then, when things did improve, especially after Dad went to work as a Federal Judge, he would buy me a new suit on every occasion and several non-occasions, until I finally protested that I had more than enough suits to last me the rest of my life.

As I lay in our empty house thinking about the years I had spent there and guessing, correctly it turns out, that it would be my last night as a resident of Pocatello, I couldn't help but ask myself, "What if Dad had succeeded? What if he had become the Idaho equivalent of Barton or Swapp or the San Francisco lawyer who dropped amputated legs into the laps of the jury? Or what if he had been like Seigfried and Jensen and had over 20,000 clients pounding on his door to win their law suits? Or what if he had become "Merrill K. Gee and Associates" with law offices all over the state of Idaho? What if he had actually done any or all of these things and become rich and famous? I paused and pondered, "What more could he have possibly given us than he had, in fact, actually given us?"

Thursday, May 1, 2008

On Dad and the Law--Part VI

There was one lawyer in our new neighborhood that Dad admired, even envied, and that was Jayson Holladay. The reason was that Jayson never went to court. "He has never had to go to court in his whole career. How on earth has he managed. He always gets his clients to settle out of court." Of course, that wasn't actually 100% true. Sometimes, and even Dad admitted this to be the case, after I started dating Jayson's extremely attractive daughter, Dawn, and found out from questioning her that it was the case, i. e. it was the case, and it had to go to court. But even then, when it went to court, that is, Jayson didn't go with it. He would hire another attorney to take it to court. But although, my dad couldn't figure out how Jayson did it, I figured it out without any trouble at all, because, long before I, or for that fact any of my friends, thought that Dawn was attractive at all--in fact, we wished that she and all the other girls would stop coming to church altogether, because we figured that if no girls came to church, they could never make us have dancing lessons again. At any rate, when we were of that frame of mind, which is the frame of mind we were of from the time we were about 10 until we were 15 or so, we pretty much that none of the girls who came to church were much to look at, but after I turned 16 or so they all started to look better, and Dawn especially so, but I digress. Anyway, long before Dawn started to be so pretty and all, we all admired Jayson because he was such a wonderful tennis player and had such a good tan. Of course, working on Ed Bullock's farm, I had a pretty good tan myself, as did most of the other boys at church, since most of us worked on the farm, but none of us had as good a tan as Jayson, because we stopped working on the farm as soon as school started in the fall, but Jayson didn't stop playing tennis. Of course, the other reason we envied Jayson is that he managed somehow to convince his wife that playing tennis was more important than going to church--or, at least, most of church. He would come and teach the Priesthood class (for those of you who went to Gary Hoff's Congregational Church, that is the equivalent of the Men's Auxiliary), and then before Sunday School, he would simply go out to the parking lot, jump into his little sports car, not even bothering to open the door, just jumping directly into the car, thus practicing in case he should ever lose a tennis match and have to jump over the net to congratulate an opponent, which he did not have to do often, if at all, but as I said, he liked to keep in practice by jumping straight into his sports car, and driving off to spend the rest of the day playing tennis, leaving most of the other men in the congregation looking enviously after him while their wives looked very sternly at them and sort of sent the signal, "Don't even think about it!" I often wondered how it went when Jayson had to teach his lesson on "Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy". It seemed to me that someone would very slyly and with very smug expression on his face, after Jayson had said that you should never shop or go to the movies on Sunday, say something like, "Or play tennis!" But, of course, in our church we were supposed to be big on obeying the Golden Rule, which, I suspect, in Jayson's class, at least, probably meant essentially, "I won't mention your weakness, if you don't mention mine."

At any rate, Jayson was very good at tennis, if not the best in the state of Idaho, among the very best. He even had his own court, and so when Dad would wonder out loud how he could get his clients to always settle out of court, I got to thinking about it and in my usual fashion, I figured it out quicker than anything. A client would come up to Jayson and say, "Mr. Holladay I want to sue my neighbor (or best friend, or employer, or whoever people always want to sue) Mr. Smith and I want you to be my lawyer in the suit." (Lawyers call a suing case a "suit", a practice that goes back to medieval times when instead of going to court when you wanted to sue someone, you donned a suit of armor and went after the chap with a lance or a spear or a sword, like in Ivanhoe, and so they started calling what you did a "suit" because you needed one in order to do it, but I digress). Well, after his client said that, Jayson would say, "I'm very glad you have decided to sue Mr. Smith. I have felt myself for a long time that he deserved to be sued so I will be glad to represent you in the case." (This, by the way, is a good way to tell whether you have a good lawyer. If he says, "I want to be your lawyer.", he isn't, but if he says, "I will be glad to represent you in this case" you know he paid very good attention at law school). But then Jayson would add, which no other lawyer in town would, "why don't we discuss your suit over a game of tennis?" Well, they would go out to Jayson's house and get on his tennis court and after they had hit the ball back and forth in a friendly fashion and Jayson had actually let them return a ball or two so that they thought they might actually do ok in this game, he would say, "Let's start the game and while we play I'll discuss what we should do." Jayson would then begin playing his best, which meant that his client was doing little other than chasing balls, which can get very tiring in a hurry. All the while he was doing this, Jayson was also explaining why the very best way to handle the "suit" was to settle it out of court. Well, after a couple of games, the client would cry "Uncle" (this is a sophisticated way for those of us who are well read to say essentially, "I give up.") But then Jayson would explain that if you once started playing tennis, the law required that you play at least two sets, or even three, if the first two resulted in a tie, which, of course, in Jayson's case, it almost never did, but anyway, the client, would get very discouraged, having chased so many balls and being, therefore, very tired and all, and would say, "Isn't there any way we could legally stop sooner?" and he(or she, and I don't mean to be politically incorrect, but it was especially true if it were "she") would say this in a most pathetic and even desparate tone of voice. "Well," Jayson would say triumphantly, "I think I can find a legal loophole to the two-set law, if you agree to settle your case out of court." And that is how he did it.

Of course, this strategy didn't always work. If the client turned out to be pretty good at tennis or in such good shape that they didn't mind chasing balls, they might insist on taking the case into court, in which case, Jayson had no choice but to hire another lawyer. Dad always wondered why he never hired him. Generally, he hired someone like Rolly Phillips father. I figured that out too. To understand it you have to realize that Rolly Phillips was far and away the best student in my class at Pocatello High School. She was, using the very sophisticated expression that some of us who went in for sophisticated expressions were want to use, "one smart cookie". Whenever she was in a class, you knew that she would get the highest grade in the class, with the possible exception of Lowell Turner, who would occasionally give her a bit of a run for her money. Of course, we might as well be up front about this, being the smartest in the class in subjects like Math, English, History, and Chemistry, was no great shakes in Pocatello, because no one (or, at least, almost no one) in Pocatello cared about those subjects. This was especially true of chemistry. I know this because I was the first in my class in chemistry--my father having bought me a genuine "Chemcraft Jr. Chemistry Set when I was in 7th grade. But, of course, neither Rolly nor Lowell was in my chemistry class, in which case, I'm not sure the chemistry set would have helped all that much. But anyway, almost no one cared much about those things. As further proof I point out that the English teachers awarded an award called the English Council of Teachers Achievement Award for writing an essay, but I was the runner-up winner (I'm not sure where Lowell was on the day we had to write that essay) because I was the only one in the class who spell Achievement correctly. And, I must admit it was a bit of luck. I was debatting for a long time whether the rule was "i before e except after c" or "e before i except after y" but, fortunately, when I finally decided to flip a coin over it, I came up with the correct answer. It would not surprise me if Rolly even actually spelled all the words in her essay correctly. But there is one subject about which everyone in Pocatello cared, and cared a great deal, and that was Physical Education, which we, in Pocatello, spoke about so frequently that we even had a handy abreviation for it. We called it "PE". Well anyway, when Rolly gave the valedictorian speech at our graduation (and by the way, she gave a wonderful speech, much better than the CEO, despite all his money and experience and all), but, as I said, Rolly was very smart), they announced that she had gotten a 4.0 grade average, and we knew there was something terribly fishy afoot. Now if I was not fast enough or strong enough to pass all the requirements to get an "A" in PE, in spite of having worked so hard and lifted so many heavy hay bales on Ed Bullock's farm, you know--everyone knew--that there was absolutely no way in (well, as I said earlier, you know where there is no way you can do something) that Rolly Phillips could do it. Of course, (and I have to make this perfectly clear), this was different times, so none of us boys--and I do say None of us--knew exactly what went on in girl's PE because we were all too much the gentlemen to ever peek, or even ask, but we did know that whatever it was, Rolly couldn't do it--not well enough to get an "A" or even a "B" for that matter. For one thing, whatever you might say about Pocatello girls, there were an awful lot of them that very very fast out of the chute and very strong. I know that they were strong for a fact because I have many friends (I not having learned this personally you understand, but I had friends who told me) who learned the hard way that when you kissed a Pocatello girl when she didn't want to be kissed, you knew she was very strong indeed. Now all of us knew, and we knew it perfectly well, that if you kissed Rolly Phillips when she didn't want to be kissed, the only thing you had to worry about was being sued by her father for Breach of Habeus Corpus, or whatever lawyers sue boys for who kiss their daughters when they don't want to be kissed. At any rate, when Rolly gave her speech, she sounded very nervous in spite of the fact that it was a wonderful speech (ask anyone who was there--and there were a good many, relatives being so proud and all of their kids having done so well in PE), and we all knew that she was nervous because she knew that we all knew that there was some real hanky-panky about that PE grade and most of us assumed that Mr. Phillips had bribed her PE teacher.

Anyway, I bring all this up, because it explains why Jason Holladay gave his cases to Rolly's father. He undoubtedly came up to Jayson with tears in his eyes and said, "Jayson, is there any cases you have that you can't settle out of court." and he responded with, "As a matter of fact there is. Mr. Jones wants to sue Mr. Smith, who certainly deserves to be sued, but Mr. Jones being as how he was runner-up in the state tennis championship last year, refuses to settle the case out of court." And then Rolly's father, (Mr. Phillips to you if you didn't come in as runner-up in the English Coucil of Teachers Achievement Award) said something like, "Is there any way you could give me the case. I have to bribe Rolly's PE teacher so she can get a 4.0 and therefore, I need the money.) Well, I'm sure, what with teaching classes in church and all, that Jayson was not normally in favor of giving bribes, but he recognized that in this case it was a worthy cause, so Dad didn't get the case.

At any rate, Dad, not being much in the way of tennis, never did figure out how to settle all of his cases out of court, and as we will see, if I get around to the writing the last part of his experiences, it was getting very discouraging for him.