In 1960, I endured a terrible experience after my son was born and my wife nearly died due to complications of giving birth. I also found myself in a bad financial crisis. After paying rent, buying groceries, medications for my son and a sick wife, plus hospital and doctor’s bills I was left penniless after I cashed my check. Adding to my woes was the slow down of my job due to a slow down of the mobile home industry. Instead of working 5 days a week I worked 3. Things were tough for me. To proud to beg I resisted asking my parents if I could move in with them. And, I didn’t have the heart to ask my mother in law, Betty, a widow, for financial help. Back in those days there was no food stamps, rental assistance, etc. You either worked to earn money or you did without!
After struggling for several months I got a part time job in a packinghouse cleaning corrals. I remember getting $1.15 an hour, which earned me 30 to 35 dollars a week. That extra cash kept me financially solvent. It allowed me to buy groceries, put gas in my car, plus pay my medical bills and rent. Soon, my job as a mobile home builder picked up and things got financially better for my family. My wife used to beg me to quit my stinking part time corral-cleaning job but I was adamant to keep it to allow me to save enough money to buy a house instead of renting. After a year or so of saving my part-time job check I managed to save $1,400. It was at this time that I promised myself that I would never if possible, put my family through such a financial crisis by not saving part of my weekly check. Needless to say, that difficult time I experienced without any money taught me a lasting lesson to save part of my paycheck and never spend more than what I could afford.
At the young age of 24, I bought my first house for $6,600 on a 12-year loan. My down payment and closing cost totaled $800, which I had. After we bought our house I realized that we needed furniture. Luckily, Mundens, a furniture store, used to advertise, “Room Full of Furniture for $499.50!” With $600 still in the bank my wife and I quickly went to Mundens and bought a refrigerator, stove, bedroom set, dinette set, and living room furniture for $499.50! Though we were able to buy furniture and not get in debt, I was left with less than $100 in the bank. In time I invited my widowed mother in law to live with us, which she accepted and she offered to help me pay part of the utilities, which was a great help for my then young growing family and me.
Soon, I landed a part time job as a non-union typesetter, which paid me $2.00 an hour. With my day job and part time job I soon began to save money weekly. At the age of 30, after living 6 years in my house I withdrew money from my savings and paid the house note.
After I paid my house I focused on saving for the college education of my 3 kids. As most parents, I wanted a better future for them and college to me was their key to success if they wished to go. But, as most of you parents know, our kids sometimes don’t comply with parent’s wishes. My kids were no different. Though they all finished high school, only one, my youngest daughter, Cecilia, attended college and earned a Master’s Degree in Nursing. Having said that, my other two kids, Larry, my son, and Michele, my other daughter (who is single), are hardworking individuals I’m proud to say. Larry though he’s had issues with drinking and is now a recovering alcoholic is a license electrician and saves his money. My other daughter, Michele, is a Data Entry office worker and earns a good salary. However, Michele is a compulsive spender. This girl can’t keep a dollar in her purse without spending it! Michele spends money as the old saying goes like a “Drunken Sailor!” Usually on dining out, fast food goodies, clothes and more clothes! Her closet is packed with unused new clothes. To be honest, Michele’s bad spending habits are my wife’s fault and mine. During our working careers my wife and I made good money. Thus, we never asked her to help us with the utilities, groceries, taxes, or house repairs. And, we never asked Michele to pay us rent for living with us. Those bad decisions on our part as parents allowed Michele to spend her money like if there was no tomorrow. And to make matters worse, she never saved!
Two months ago, Michele’s wild spending spree came to a screeching halt! She was fired from her job due to some data entry mistakes she made at work. Getting fired made it difficult for her to get Unemployment Compensation. Devastated, without a job, no money coming in weekly and a mountain of credit card bills she came bawling to us for financial help. I then asked her if she had any savings and she replied, “no”. I then told her, “Michele, there is no reason why you shouldn’t have at least 10 to 20 thousand in the bank! You don’t pay rent, help us with the bills, nor help us buy groceries!” Feeling sorry for her, my wife got a loan to tie her over until she found a new job. I then reminded her that we’re getting old and after we’re gone she’ll probably end up homeless or living off the government in a shelter, if she didn’t start saving, which terrified her. Shortly, Michele found another job, plus a part time one. Rolling with cash again Michele sadly has resumed her bad and foolish spending habits.
As I reflect on Michele’s bad spending habits I come to realize that my wife and I are like working American taxpayers and Michele is like the U.S. Government and Obama Administration. These foolish government officials waste and spend out hard-earned tax dollars on untold useless government projects such as: bailing out unions, giving money to individuals who are here illegally, give money to countries who hate us, food stamps and money to those who won’t look for a job, fund useless and unproven workable energy companies many who have gone bankrupt and the list is endless! Our government takes our taxes like Michele takes from us and like her, never spends our taxes wisely. Like Michele, our government is in debt up to the tune of 16 trillion dollars and they still want more from us to keep on spending like fools! Folks, like Michele if she doesn’t change her bad spending habits, our country is heading towards a financial crisis that will eventually hurt all Americans!
There’s nothing better to get you in the mood for the holidays than the lavishly decorated stores, the inescapable Christmas music playing on the radio, and the beautiful Christmas lights up and down the street—unless you live in Denham Springs, Louisiana, that is.There, the Christmas spirit is hard to find in Sarah Henderson’s neighborhood.Apparently, the mother of four was involved in a year-long dispute with some of her neighbors, whom she accuses of spreading “vicious lies” about her.So, she deliberately fashioned her Christmas lights to look like a human hand with the middle finger extended in the gesture universally known as “flipping the bird.”The not-so-subtle message was received loudly and clearly by the neighbors, prompting a visit by the local police.They told Henderson that her display violated obscenity laws and she was ordered to take them down or face a $400 fine.Although Henderson complied, she’s not happy about it and now she has the support of the American Civil Liberties Union.The ACLU has contacted the Denham Springs police, saying that the city has no right to restrict Ms. Henderson’s First Amendment right to free expression just because some people find it vulgar or offensive.Bolstered by the support, Henderson says she’s thinking of replacing the middle finger with a swastika.So much for peace on Earth . . . .
Speaking of First Amendment rights, did you know you have a First Amendment right to dress up as Bigfoot?That was the recent ruling from the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which had to consider the strange case of Jonathan Doyle.One day in September 2009, Doyle decided to dress up as Bigfoot and wander around Mount Monadnock State Park, filming some of the encounters he had with passing hikers.When he returned a week or so later to do the same thing, a park ranger ordered him to leave because he didn’t have a “special use” permit (which, under New Hampshire law, requires 30 day notice and taking out a $2 million insurance policy as part of the application process).Doyle fought the special use permit policy in court, with the aid of New Hampshire’s branch of the ACLU, as violating his constitutionally protected right to free speech.The state Supreme Court sided with Doyle, finding the special use regulation to be unconstitutionally overbroad and unreasonably burdensome—thus safeguarding everyone’s right to walk around in a public park dressed up as Bigfoot.
The ACLU has been busy lately in Oklahoma as well, filing a complaint with the Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints against Muskogee County district judge Mike Norman.Last month, Judge Norman sentenced 17 year-old Tyler Alred to 10 years probation in connection with an intoxication manslaughter charge; Alred had been the driver in a December 3, 2011 crash that killed Alred’s friend and passenger John Luke Dum.As one of the conditions of avoiding prison time, Judge Norman ordered Alred to regularly attend church over the 10 year sentence.The ACLU considers this a violation of religious liberty and a “disregard” for the U.S. Constitution.Knowing that judges have considerable discretion in imposing sentences, I call it a good way to put a clearly troubled kid back on the right path instead of dooming him forever for a tragic and horrific mistake.
And if you don’t like creative sentencing, then you won’t agree with Racine County Circuit Court Judge Tim Boyle of Wisconsin, either.Judge Boyle was faced with the case of Corey Curtis, a 44 year-old man who has fathered 9 children with six different women, and who owes $90,000 in child support.After Curtis pleaded no contest to felony bail jumping and failure to pay child support, Judge Boyle imposed a condition on Curtis’ sentence of 3 years’ probation: no more procreating.“Common sense dictates you shouldn’t have kids you can’t afford,” Judge Boyle said at the hearing.“It’s too bad the court doesn’t have the authority to sterilize.”Actually, this isn’t the first time that judges have ordered a party to stop breeding; the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld it in a 2001 case in which the defendant couldn’t show that he was financially capable of supporting children.A Kentucky judge earlier this year ordered a father of 12 children (by 4 different women) who had failed to keep up with child support obligations to refrain from “any sexual intercourse” for the entire 1–5 year term of parole.And in 2008, a Texas judge ordered a 20 year-old mother who had failed to protect her daughter from abuse not to get pregnant while on probation.So, the whole “be fruitful and multiply” thing apparently only applies if you can afford the kids in the first place.
Yes, judges have a lot of discretion in the sentences they impose. Sometimes, though, all that weighty responsibility gets to them and they just want to have a little fun.Such was the case recently with U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa of the Southern District of Texas (Victoria Division).Judge Costa was faced with a breach of contract case over the sale of Akaushi cattle (native to Japan and renowned for the high quality of their meat).Earlier this year, Bear Ranch LLC filed suit against Heartland Beef (which claims to be the sole source of Akaushi cattle in the U.S.) over the restrictions imposed in a sales contract Bear Ranch entered into when it purchased Akaushi cattle from Heartland.Then another company, Twinwood Cattle Company, tried to intervene in the lawsuit.In a November 1, 2012 order, Judge Costa denied Twinwood’s motion to join in the lawsuit, but he had a little fun with his opinion—liberally sprinkling it with Western-flavored, cattle-ranching references.Pointing out that both Bear Ranch and Heartland had “momentarily ceased stomping their hooves at each other to join forces in opposition to Twinwood’s motion,” Judge Costa ruled that Twinwood’s motion to “join the rodeo” “must be put out to pasture.”Although he acknowledged Twinwood’s attempts to “beef up its argument,” the judge ultimately denied the company’s efforts to join the ongoing lawsuit since “some culling of the herd is appropriate.”
This is the last time I will be addressing this Texas Workforce Conference as a Commissioner of the TWC.
I am particularly pleased with two initiatives we have launched here at TWC during the past four years: the Texas Veterans Leadership Program and the Texas Back to Work Program. TVLP is run entirely by our veterans who served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan to help their fellow veterans make a successful transition to civilian life. Headed by Jason Doran initially and Bob Gear now, TVLP has done a terrific job in getting our returning veterans back to work. So far, our TVLP veterans have provided assistance to more than 9,700 returning veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan war. Just like Texas is the number one state for business, we need it to be the number one state for veterans. To our TVLP leaders – thanks for what you have done to bring our veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan home the right way.
The Texas Back to Work program was designed to get Texans back to work by providing incentives for companies to hire unemployed workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. This is a win-win proposition – it takes people off the unemployment rolls -- thus saving the Trust Fund money -- while getting Texans back to work in gainful employment. To date, we have helped over 30,000 Texans get back to work. Thanks to our local workforce boards and businesses who made all of that possible.
The Texas Back to Work program even received the 2010 Unemployment Innovation Award from the U.S. Department of Labor and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies.
Unfortunately, when Congress passed legislation allowing states to initiate or expand programs like Texas Back to Work, top officials at the U.S. Department of Labor issued onerous regulations that effectively blocked the implementation of innovative programs like ours. Hopefully, those roadblocks will be removed now that the election is over so that this initiative can go forward.
We are fortunate to live in Texas which continues to lead the nation in private sector job creation. Over the past year, we have added 269,000 private sector jobs and more than a million over the past decade. The energy discoveries and development here in Texas, and elsewhere in the U.S. are a potential economic game changer for our state and nation. As reported by Floyd Norris in the New York Times, the International Energy Agency has forecast that, “by around 2020, the United States could surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer.” This is not only good news for our energy industry; it also is a huge plus for our manufacturing sector. The ready access to energy, particularly natural gas, and the lower prices here relative to energy costs in the rest of the world will allow our manufacturing sector to be more competitive with manufacturers elsewhere. Now, if we would just change our national tax policy to one that is friendlier to capital investment and employment, then we would be off to the races in getting the private sector moving again at the national level.
But, more about that in a moment.
The question that looms over everything in the wake of the Great Recession of 2008 is: How do we ensure that the economic opportunities that have been there for previous generations of Americans will be there for our children and grandchildren? In times like this, we can’t just muddle along and hope that, somehow, everything will work out in the end.
Some pundits have even gone so far as to proclaim that America’s best days are behind us. Prominent Financial Times correspondent Edward Luce has written a book entitled, “Time to Start Thinking: America and the Spectre of Decline.”
There is no question that America faces serious challenges. From 2001 to 2010, we lost one-third of our U.S. manufacturing base – that’s 5.5 million generally good paying jobs that were shipped overseas, outsourced, or simply went away. The late German economist Kurt Richebacher warned of the consequences of our massive trade deficits and the hollowing out of our U.S. manufacturing base when he wrote, “Essentially, all job losses are high-wage manufacturing and most gains are in low wage services. In essence, the U.S. economy is restructuring downward, while the Chinese economy is restructuring upward.”
A major cause of this is that the U.S. has the most onerous business tax system in the world -- with a 35 percent tax rate plus a 7.65 percent employer portion of the payroll tax. We are exporting prosperity and American jobs abroad. Ironically, even with our manufacturing decline, we have a shortage of skilled workers in Texas as we have neglected the importance of career and technical education opportunities at the secondary and post-secondary levels.
Nonetheless, I am far more hopeful for our nation’s future than I was four years ago. Why do I say that? Because good ideas and sound policies that can reverse these negative trends are beginning to garner the kind of broad-based support necessary to win the day.
More and more Americans are realizing that you can’t have a strong economy without a strong manufacturing base. Manufacturing has provided good jobs and stable incomes for generations of Americans, and we need more of it at home. The time has come to fundamentally change a tax policy that exports prosperity and American jobs aboard and replace it with one that encourages capital investment and employment here at home.
Growing up as a kid in Texas, I still remember the time when “Made in Texas, Made in the USA” was the norm, not the exception. With good leadership and common sense solutions, we can rebuild our manufacturing base. If you don’t think we have any hope of changing the mindset of Washington policymakers on that issue, just look at the headway we have made recently here in Texas when it comes to education. Elected officials are beginning to recognize the importance of career and technical education for young Texans at the high school and post-secondary levels.
The need is obvious. We have a greying workforce and a shortage of skilled workers on many fronts. Just to cite a few examples: the average age of a welder is 55, a plumber 56, a stone masonry craftsman is 69.
What happened to our pipeline of skilled workers? Somehow, over the last two decades, certain political elites decided that everyone should be prepared to go to a four year university. I call it a “one size fits all” approach. In an attempt to make every high school student “college ready,” our state has come to rely on a so-called 4-by-4 curriculum and an expensive high stakes testing system. First, there was the TASS test, then the TAKS test, and now we have the STARR test. So much of our educational system is driven these days by a “teaching to the test” mentality from the third grade through high school. In many ways, test learning has replaced real learning. Meanwhile, in this quest to push every student to go to a university, we have deemphasized our Career and Technical Education programs at the high school level. And, we are paying a heavy price as we have choked off the pipeline of skilled workers by the neglect of vocational education at the high school level. A lot of young people are falling through the cracks and dropping out of school who otherwise might have thrived had they been given more opportunities for vocational education.
Frustration on the part of parents, employers, and educators with the current system has built up for years. Change is long overdue, and we need to have the courage to propose bold, meaningful solutions to these issues, rather than just tinkering around the edges. And, that is just what we are doing. A growing coalition of legislators, business and labor leaders, school board members, parents, other community leaders, and educators recognize that this is a serious issue and are working to fix it. The solution is simple, if not easy. But, we can solve this problem!
We need to allow for multiple pathways to a high school degree. One academic pathway would emphasize math and science. Another, the humanities and fine arts. A third would focus on career and technical education. All students would get the basics, but there would be greater flexibility than under the “one size fits all” existing system which pushes everyone towards a university degree.
This is a common sense approach to preparing young Texans to be college-ready or career-ready. It is time to end this “teaching to the test” system that isn’t working for either the kids interested in going on to a university or for those more oriented towards learning a skilled trade. Let’s replace it with one that focuses on real learning and opportunities for all.
I’d like to leave you with one parting thought -- our politics has become way too politicized and too many of our politicians on both sides of the aisle seem more interested in sound bites, PR gimmicks, and short-term fixes to long-term problems than in making decisions for the good of the country. Those politicians remind me of a certain style of “leader” as described by Charles Malik. Those are the kind of politicians who see the crowd running in a certain direction and rush to get ahead of them in order to tell the public what they think the people want to hear.
That is not real leadership. Writing long ago in a paper entitled “The Challenge to Western Civilization,” Ambassador Malik had this to say: “If Western civilization goes down, it will be only because its leadership has failed to show it the way. There is no impersonal law of growth and decay here at work whatsoever. There is the very personal moral failure of the leaders to show the way. And a real way out most certainly there is. The actual, ready potentialities of this civilization, in every sphere, are so tremendous, so overpowering, that with the proper co-ordination and the right voice of leadership it can rise to any challenge. The greatest danger today is that either this leadership is not forthcoming or its voice will come too late.”
It is not about Republican vs. Democrat, or Right vs. Left; it is about up or down. Will the people and our political leaders have the courage to make the hard decisions that are necessary to get our nation back on the right track, or will we go the way of so many other great nations which rose to power and then declined -- never to return to previous greatness.
The choice is ours. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, let’s make the right one.
Tom Pauken is the Commissioner Representing Employers and author of Bringing America Home. This is a condensed version of his speech to attendees of the TWC annual conference.
Well, my conservative 1st Republican friends it’s time to face reality — WE LOST! I, like so many of you here in Texas thought this was a win, win situation for us to regain the White House. Man, were we wrong. As Rush, so states, “You can’t vote against Santa Claus!” Which rings so true as Democrats painted the Republicans at heartless, money hungry evil rich people who hate the poor, women and minorities? No longer does hard work, study hard to get a good job, open up a business to make money and save and invest your money wisely ring true with most Americans. As it stands Democrats and the Obama Administration frown upon those who hold dear those values of my just aforementioned attributes of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” and expression that is meant to imply something like “improving oneself by one’s own efforts”. But sadly, it seems that Democrats seem to want every American to depend solely on the government to provide for their personal needs such as: food, housing, soon in 2014 medical insurance, iPhones, welfare checks, etc. by doing absolutely nothing but vote for them to keep on getting their freebees at someone else’s success in business or by earning a good living in a well paying job.
Really folks, what good does it do to tell our kids and grandkids to get a good education in order to be successful in this once great Nation when others will frown upon you if indeed you land a good paying job or open up a successful business. Most will call successful people and those who earn a good living as evil, greedy, money hungry, and Lord knows what else! I guess that most of us to be liked have to be on welfare and sit on our butts at home watching TV and waiting for a welfare check. Really, what good is it for us to go get a job if one can stay home and let the government provide for our needs for years on end!
I guess I, as a practicing Catholic and Christians of other denominations have to learn to love to be poor in order for God and others to like us. No longer should we strive to work hard to donate to our church, provide clothing, shelter, food, pay our bills and utilities to keep our families warm and comfortable because we will be tagged as greedy and money hungry. Instead, we should let the government provide for all our family needs. To confirm that God seems to love poor people more than us hardworking and successful folks here’s some biblical passages: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” “Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the Lord your God.”
But wait a minute my friends, in order for God and others to like us should we then aligned ourselves with a government party (Democrats) who support killing the unborn, support marriage between two men or two women, tell religious organizations that they will have to provide contraceptives and abortions on demand regardless if their church teachings and God’s as well are totally against it? Do ya’ll think God likes and is in step with a political group that espouses those government-mandated policies He’s stated he is totally against? Here’s some biblical statements about a fetus in the womb: The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” Here’s how the Bible condemns homosexuality as an immoral and unnatural sin. Identifies homosexual sex as an abomination, a detestable sin. Declares homosexual desires and actions to be shameful, unnatural, lustful, and indecent. States that homosexuals are unrighteous and will not inherit the kingdom of God. It is clear that homosexuals “marrying” is not God’s will, and would be, in fact, sinful. So there you have it my friends, should I a conservative Republican Catholic embrace wanting not to work and be poor, plus wanting the government to provide for me and my family and should I throw under the bus, the teachings of my Catholic church not to kill the unborn nor support same sex marriage?
During this last election I lost a lot of Hispanic Catholic friends because I’d challenge them in our church’s stance and teachings against abortion and same sex marriage. They would get incensed when I’d posted on Facebook biblical passages about killing the unborn and same sex marriage, which their Democrat Party supports. They simply responded that they were against abortion and same sex marriage but were still voting Democrat. My response to them was, “Ya’ll are like Jews voting for Hitler!”
One bright side in all this mess: Thank God we live in Texas, a Republican run state that just elected a Latino Senator (Ted Cruz)!
As readers of “Legally Speaking” know, I frequently report on some of the more bizarre lawsuits out there. Sometimes—like this week—there are so many out there they warrant their own column.
In January 2012, when the ill-fated Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground and 32 people died, most of us expected there to be lawsuits filed. We just didn’t expect that one of those lawsuits would be a wrongful termination claim by the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino. After all, Schettino currently faces criminal charges of manslaughter and abandoning his ship, and he was fired for pretty much doing the opposite of what a ship captain ought to do. He brought the cruise ship too close to shore, causing it to hit a rock; delayed evacuation of the ship; abandoned ship and took a lifeboat while passengers were still trying to escape (Schettino later claimed he tripped and fell into the lifeboat); and then refused Coast Guard orders to return to the ship. Yet, somehow, he feels he’s been wrongfully terminated. His lawyer says “It is the right of every worker to appeal against his dismissal and Captain Schettino has done no more than exercise that right.” Spoken like a lawyer . . . .
A wife could blame a number of people if she found out her husband cheated on her and had a threesome. For starters, she could blame her husband and his two sexual partners. But what if he died during the act—who does she blame then? Well, if you’re the widow of 31 year-old William Martinez of Lawrenceville, Georgia, you sue your husband’s doctor for malpractice. Confused? Join the club. The widow got a lawyer and sued Martinez’s cardiologist, Dr. SreenivasuluGangasani, claiming that the doctor failed to warn Martinez (who had a history of high blood pressure) to refrain from physical activity like sex. The day before he was scheduled for some medical tests in 2009, Martinez had a tryst with a friend and a woman who was not his wife, and died of cardiac failure during the encounter. As incredible as it sounds, when the case went to trial in 2012, the jury found Martinez’s doctor liable and returned a verdict of $5 million (because the jury assessed 40% of the fault against Martinez himself, the verdict was reduced to $3 million). The cardiologist’s lawyers said they would appeal.
David Hoogland of Perth, Australia claims he is the victim of discrimination—hair discrimination. Mr. Hoogland, you see, was thrown out of Point Hall, a popular Perth bar, because of his mullet. Yes, in 2012, Hoogland is still rockin’ the “business up front, party in the back” hairstyle made famous by Billy Ray Cyrus. Hoogland may be a victim, all right—a fashion victim.
As humiliating as it must be to be a grown man beaten up by a child, it has to be even worse when you draw attention to that fact by filing a lawsuit over it. Yet, that is exactly what happened with New York elementary school teacher John Webster. Webster, a 220-lb. former college football player, claims to have suffered permanent injuries when he tried to subdue first-grader Rodrigo Carpio (who Webster describes as “very very strong”) when the student began acting up. Webster claims to have suffered a broken ankle and a right knee injury requiring surgery, and he is seeking money damages from the school district. There is no word on how much the injury to Webster’s dignity might be worth.
A judge in New Zealand has thrown out a case brought by someone who evidently never heard the old adage “Never speak ill of the dead.” A New Zealand government ministry brought charges against South Korean fishermen Soon Ill Hwang and Dae Jun Lee of illegally dumping dead fish at sea. However, shortly after the charges were made, Soon died in a car accident. Despite this, the ministry’s lawyer argued that there were still reasons for the prosecution of Soon to go forward—a position Judge Gary MacAskill found “absurd.” Said the judge, “It reminds me of Monty Python and his dead parrot. I would have thought that the death of the accused is pretty fundamental.” Judge MacAskill even sarcastically suggested that the only way to obtain testimony from the accused would be to hold a séance.
A Staten Island, New York pastor and his wife, Michael and Angela Nwadiuko, recently fell short in their effort to change their names to “Mr. and Mrs. ChristisKing.” Civil court judge Philip Straniere cited separation of church and state as the reason for denying the unusual request. Straniere wrote that if he approved the name change, “many people would not only not be comfortable reciting the petitioners’ proposed name but that in doing so would be violating that person’s religious or lack of religious beliefs.” The pastor and his wife had previously (in another state) changed the names of their two children to “JesusisLord” and “Rejoice.”
In Texas, we live by a simple rule: you mess with the bull, you get the horns. And if a mechanical bull is involved, don’t count on a windfall. That’s the takeaway from the Austin Court of Appeal’s August 2012 opinion in Thom v. Rebel’s Honky Tonk. In the case, a man who consumed alcohol, failed to disclose a prior back condition, and signed a release of liability tried to sue for injuries sustained when he fell from a mechanical bull at the honky tonk. The court held that the plaintiff had assumed the risk and released the bar from all liability. C’mon, this is Texas—what did you expect would happen when you mounted a bull, mechanical or otherwise? You get thrown off the bull, and thrown out of court.