Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Silly Issues

The 24/7 news cycle and the pressure for pundits and operatives to produce content leads to the raising of increasingly silly issues. Here are a few.

1. Scott Walker didn't finish his last year of college. For the life of me, I can't understand why anyone who has actually experienced the last year of college would find this persuasive. Would Walker be more qualified had he spent one more year of his life doing beer stands and acing "The Goldberg Canon: Making Whoopi" and "Underwater Basketweaving."

2. Ron Johnson liked Atlas Shrugged but Ayn Rand Was Creepy Yes, she was and Bill Douglas was a jerk, Margaret Sanger favored eugenics and Clarence Darrow bribed jurors. So if you believe in the penumbral right to privacy, support Planned Parenthood or liked Inherit the Wind, don't be running for office.

3. Ron Johnson invited Charles Murray to speak about education in Oshkosh. Murray was to speak about a recent book in which he argues that education of the academically gifted in the US is deficient and that many students who are encouraged to go to college might be better served by technical education. To even suggest this apparently gives some people the vapors. So much for free inquiry and discourse.

4. Ron Johnson won't sell his BP stock. Because if he would now sell low after he bought high, that would mean that the Deep Horizons accident ... didn't ... or wouldn't ... happen or won't happen again ... because ... otherwise it's been a good deal for BP. Or maybe BP stock has the cooties. Let's all lose money on BP stock. That'll show Tony Hayward.


Nick said...

Scott Walker not finishing his last year of college can't be that silly of an issue. After all, there are plenty of companies out there that *require* a college degree.

Is the last year of college stupid? If you answer yes, then that says more about the college you attended, than the actual act of completing a degree.

My last year at MSOE was very rigorous, and challenging. It also says a lot about a person's desire to follow through on a goal to completion.

While we can debate how much it really says, and exactly how important it is... I don't think it can be called silly. Silly implies the issue is of zero worth.

Anonymous said...

Search this blog for Jeremiah Wright.

Rick Esenberg said...

Companies certainly do require a college degree but the Constitution does not require one for the office of Governor and I can think of few private companies who would refuse to hire someone who successfully ran another company. I don't think we would want to say that Bill Gates is incapable of running a software company or lacks "desire to follow through on a goal to completion" because he never finished college.

Nick said...

The Constitution doesn't say that someone has to believe in God to hold office either, but plenty of people will refuse to vote for someone who doesn't.

Does that make religious belief a silly issue?

It's fine to argue that in Scott's case it doesn't matter... I'm not sure it does myself. But I think its a valid argument to say that it does matter.

It certainly isn't silly to argue that it matters.

Display Name said...

HR people will question anything. If you've been running your own company, they'll ask you if you'll like having a boss again. If you're chasing the CEO slot, they'll ask you if you can get along with the Board.

Surely you aren't pretending they weren't complaining about Murray's other previous books. That's what Johnson was pretending.

Nick said...

And one more thing...

Scott Walker is no Bill Gates.

Anonymous said...

Did I read over the weekend that Scott Walker admitted his cumulative GPA at Marquette was 2.59 -- in other words, a C+ average? Contrast with Tom Barrett, who did well enough at the state's top-rated university to get admitted to (and graduate from) the state's higher-rated law school.

Many of the right wingers are after the President to release his Harvard Law School transcript. Apparently these people would support asking Mr. Walker to do the same.

Is it an issue? It is as long as there is no transparency. Perhaps it goes away if additional information is forthcoming.

Somewhat odd for a law school professor to argue against the value of a college diploma. Sometimes you try to hard to toe the party line, Professor.

Anonymous said...

TOO hard to toe the party line.

Anonymous said...

Well of course the Shark would poo poo Walker not finishing his degree--what does it matter? And this from an instructor at Marquette!

It would be nice if Ron Johnson to stick to something he says, but alas, typical for a GOPer.

Rick Esenberg said...

The point is not that education doesn't matter, but that, twenty years after the fact, whether Walker finished the last year of school or what his grades were aren't that relevant. Walker has a track record as a politician and the chief executive of a large unit of government. While most people who have achieved his level of success (or Bill Gates')have one - and probably more degrees - the fact remains that there are (relatively few) people who manage to go very far without a degree. When we are faced with one of these people, it seems to me that the fact that they have built a dominant software company or successfully managed Milwaukee County government dwarfs the significance of whether they took another 30 credits or didn't get good grades twenty years ago.

By the same reasoning, President Obama's HLS grades are irrelevant to assessing his Presidency. Grades are a measure of certain forms of competence and a predictor of certain forms of success. But once you have actual performance, there is less need to rely on a predictor.

Anonymous said...

"successfully managed Milwaukee County government"

I thought we were talking about Scott Walker.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

This can be simply a matter of having to finish it later.

Many people had to work rather then go to school and many others had to drop school to work.

Life throws many curves at us and we must deal with it the best we can. I've also seen many people that were book dumb but life smart and visa versa.

I think the real issue here is if Walker is sharp enough to use this to his advantage or if he'll let it bury him.

Clutch said...

I can't understand why anyone who has actually experienced the last year of college would find this persuasive. Would Walker be more qualified had he spent one more year of his life doing beer stands and acing "The Goldberg Canon: Making Whoopi" and "Underwater Basketweaving."

Is this a comment on what Walker would almost certainly have done, in your opinion, had he completed a college degree? Or just your general sense of what 4th-year studies comprise?

In my non-trivial experience, 4th year is really the only time that undergrad studies get serious. You start choosing your own research topics, take more seminars, write a few sustained pieces of work... in short, it starts to show the difference between plodders (some of them hard-working and sharp nevertheless; some of them just C+ completers) and those with some gifts. More to the point, it's where those who might have latent gifts get a chance to really have their horizons expanded and acquire some intellectual skills of note.

If you actually meant something different than what you said -- for instance, that Walker stands on his own track record, rather than that college is bogus and he wouldn't have learned a thing there anyhow -- then maybe details about that track record rather than contempt for undergraduate education would have been the thing to evince.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he just didn't want to have to admit that his degree was in the liberal arts, so he didn't finish...

Seriously though, I think clutch has it right. Last year was my most challenging year and if you meant that experience is what matters 20 years after the fact, trivializing both your role in the future Scott Walkers and the kids of today was a less than optimal argument.

Anonymous said...

Here's what I don't understand about Walker. He's been sitting in the Courthouse for what, 8 years? He is in walking distance of Marquette. If he was close to a degree -- aa he says -- why didn't he take a class a semester and get 'er done?