Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lawyers and libertarians

I like the movies that have been made of Agatha Christie's mysteries, especially Death on the Nile. There's one scene where the heiress is getting ready to sign some legal papers but wants to read them over first. Her lawyer, Uncle Andrew, doesn't want her to read them because he has slipped a document in among the mergers and other legal papers that absolves him of stealing her money. He's been embezzling from the heiress's riches since her father died and now that she has come of age and married, she will be in control of her fortune and is going to notice that good old Uncle Andrew has been stealing her blind. She still has enough money to buy a country, but not five countries as she could have before Uncle Andrew's fingers got stuck to her money.

The heiress's new husband says he never reads what he signs and urges his wife to just sign the papers so they can continue having their honeymoon fun, at which point, Colonel Race, Hercule Poirot's best friend and sleuthing colleague, butts into the conversation to tell the heiress she is right and she should read all legal documents before she signs them. Colonel Race knows old Uncle Andrew is up to no good. Old Uncle Andrew tells the heiress she can look at the papers later. There's no rush, old Uncle Andrew, the shrew lawyer knows, because his time will come . . . very soon.

Let the murders begin.

If it isn't lawyers out to trick you into signing the papers before you have the time to read the small print, then some smart college student still wet behind the ears who knows how the world works gets a taste of her own medicine.

A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat, and was very much in favor of the redistribution of wealth.

She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch Republican, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures that she had participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the addition of more government welfare programs. The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the truth and she indicated so to her father. He responded by asking how she was doing in school. Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go out and party like other people she knew. She didn't even have time for a boyfriend, and didn't really have many college friends because she spent all her time studying.

Her father listened and then asked, "How is you friend Audrey doing?" She replied, "Audrey is barely getting by. All she takes are easy classes, she never studies, and she barely has a 2.0 GPA. She is so popular on campus, college for her is a blast. She's always invited to all the parties, and lots of times she doesn't even show up for classes because she's too hung over."

Her wise father asked his daughter, "Why don't you go to the Dean's office and ask him to deduct a 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend who only has a 2.0. That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA."

The daughter, visibly shocked by her father's suggestion, angrily fired back "That wouldn't be fair! I have worked really hard for my grades! I've invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work! Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played while I worked my tail off!"

The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, "Welcome to the Libertarian Party."

That is all. Disperse.

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