Monday, March 4, 2019

2 PARAGRAPHS 4 LIBERTY: #206 "SYNCHRONIZE OUR TRAFFIC SIGNALS"

      Okay, do you want to know how we could lower our overall gasoline consumption, improve mileage in vehicular transportation, reduce lost time in commuting and increase the air quality all around us – all at the same time?  Synchronize our traffic signals!  We certainly have the technology.  In fact, when my family took a vacation to New York City, way back in 1957, the taxi driver was able to travel about 30 miles per hour through the city streets without stopping because, as he explained it, the signals were synchronized at that speed.  So why has this not occurred in every town and city in our country!  This is a ridiculous situation!

         Yes, I understand, the bane of this approach is pedestrians, whose needs are inconsistent and who obviously take longer to clear an intersection than does a vehicle.  But surely this is something that today’s engineers can figure out.  As you know, I am not a fan of the federal government intruding into many of these areas.  But maybe just this once, the feds could come up with a workable set of specifications, and even some funding, to get this plan in operation.  The government wastes so much money on other things, maybe we could actually benefit from some of these expenditures!  If you agree with me, let’s get on this!

Quote for the week:  “If we can send a man to the moon, why don’t we send all of them?”  Anon

Judge James Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President




By the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, Twitter at judgejamesgray, and wordpress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com.  Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty.

Monday, February 25, 2019

2 PARAGRAPHS 4 LIBERTY: #205 "LIBERTY IN ELECTION CONTRIBUTIONS"

     Okay, we now have passed all of these election maximum donation laws which have really not particularly helped things, but have made things much more confusing, bureaucratic and, in my view, more harmful to our system of democracy.  I start with the premise that wealthy people who want to donate money to their favorite candidates or issues will, as a practical matter, virtually always be able to do so.  Maybe not directly, but through PACs, (supposedly) independent expenditures or other means.  In addition, if wealthy people are candidates themselves, they can make unlimited contribute to their own campaigns.  So what have been the results?  Much chicanery by wealthy people, unfair advantages for the wealthy as candidates and it has required most candidates who are not wealthy themselves to spend much of their time trying to raise small donations from lots of people.  And how does one raise money?  Often by direct mailers that attempt to appeal to the recipients on one particular emotional issue and also to vilify their opponents on that issue.  And those approaches to fundraising have strongly contributed to the polarization that has now prevalent in our country.

       So what should be done?  If Bill Gates could spend as much money as he would want on his own election campaign, he should also be able to spend all he wants for other candidates or issues of his choice!  It is a matter of free speech – and Liberty!  However, all contributions above a certain threshold amount should immediately be disclosed both to the government election commissions and on the internet.  So then if voters think that a particular recipient candidate is in Bill Gates’ “pocket,” they can always vote for that candidate’s opponent.  But no non-human entities should be allowed to contribute to any candidates or initiatives whatsoever.  Why is that?  This is also a matter of Liberty.  If corporations contribute money, they should first get the unanimous consent of their shareholders because they are spending their shareholders’ money.  And often those shareholders do not support that particular candidate or cause.  Of course, corporations would always be free to appeal to their shareholders to contribute their own money if they wanted, but that would be all they should be able to do.  The same thing would be true for labor unions or any other entities.  This approach engaging Liberty would reduce the chicanery, unfairness, polarization and frustration that is heavily present in our elections at this time and increase freedom of choice.  So, once again, Liberty works!

Quote for the week:  “If you ain’t where you’re at, you’re no place.”  Colonel Potter in MASH
                                                                                                                                                    Judge James Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President
                     


                                                                              
By the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, Twitter at judgejamesgray, and wordpress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com.  Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty.

Monday, February 18, 2019

2 PARAGRAPHS 4 LIBERTY: #204 "THE GREEN BOOK"

        Easily one of the best movies I have ever seen is The Green Book, and I strongly recommend you see it as well.  The story is about a working-class Italian fairly racist bouncer (Viggo Mortensen) who becomes a driver on a concert tour from New York City through the Deep South for a truly refined and gifted African-American classical pianist (Mahershala Ali).  The title comes from a book called The Negro Motorist Green Book, which listed facilities like motels and restaurants in the South that would accommodate African Americans and, by 1962, it had a circulation of 2 million people.  But, as one reviewer said, this movie has family, culture, honesty, dignity, genius, respect, stereotypes, racism, music, class, friendship and fried chicken.  What I say is that it has character development almost beyond belief, and that it is simply laden with human and socially-redeeming value.  And, by the way, I understand that the fantastic piano playing was actually all performed by Mr. Ali, and who was born in Oakland!
        But why talk about a movie in this 2 Paragraphs 4 Liberty series?  Because it simply would never have been made except in a free society.  Repressive regimes like in Cuba, China or the former Soviet Union would never have allowed a movie depicting their police or people acting in such a racist and inhumane fashion!  Only with Liberty can artists truly create, publish and thrive in accordance with their own inner drives and desires, and we are all so much better off for it.  Only with Liberty would a film like this ever be allowed to be shown and openly discussed.  I’m sure that each one of us could come up with other similar examples, but my strong example is “The Green Book.”  If you don’t see it, you are missing a rare masterpiece! 

Quote for the week on a Father’s Day Card sent to me by my daughter: “Dad.  No matter what life throws at you, at least you don’t have ugly children.” 

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President


By the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, Twitter at judgejamesgray, and wordpress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com.  Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty.

Monday, February 11, 2019

2 PARAGRAPHS 4 LIBERTY: #203 "COMPENSATION PACKAGES FOLLOW-UP"

     Last week’s edition brought up the dilemma of the Increasing disparity of compensation packages of high-ranking executives of public companies as opposed to the company’s lowest-paid workers, and requested a response from our “2 Paragraphs” Family as to how to address it (if it should be addressed at all).  Several of you responded, and I am following up this week with some of the thoughts expressed.  For background, one reader pointed out that CEO pay in the US was documented in the year 2000 to be 376 times the pay of the typical worker. In 1995, the ratio was 123-to-1, in 1989 it was 59-to-1, in 1978 it was 30-to-1, and in 1965 it was 20-to-1.  So the disparities have increasingly been wider over time.  (See [https://www.forbes.com/sites/shelliekarabell/2018/02/14/executive-compensation-is-out-of-control-what-now/#754ff6c0431f]).  So what were the suggestions?  One was to have governments implement higher marginal income tax rates for the very top public company earners, which would have a dampening effect upon increasing packages.   A second was to set high corporate tax rates for firms that have very high CEO-to-worker compensation ratios.  A third was for shareholders themselves to vote upon the compensation packages of high-ranking executives.  A fourth was for the law to direct public companies to have these compensation packages set by truly independent boards of directors.  And a fifth was to require public companies to disclose the range of the highest and lowest compensation packages so that the customers could use their inherent power to decide whether to purchase that company’s products and services or not.
     Personally, I think taxes are already too high even for high-ranking executives, and increasing them further would both produce even more “creative” chicanery in the corporate world, as well as having more of our companies take their business operations off shore.  And besides, sometimes these packages result in more innovations and productivity for companies, so society does not want to discourage those results.  The third suggestion has some superficial attractiveness, but the problem is that shareholders would mostly both be acting upon imperfect and incomplete information, and would also be easily subject to manipulation.  So that option is more likely to hinder than help.  And, although it certainly would be a good idea to have a truly independent panel set these compensation packages, probably based upon comparisons with similar executives in other companies, implementing the appointment process would almost be impossible from a practical standpoint.  (Not only is every company different, but imagine how many lawsuits would be filed contesting whether the boards were really independent or not!)  So all of these four suggestions would result in major unintended consequences.  That leaves the fifth suggestion, which rightly relies upon the Free Market for relief.  But to a large degree laws and regulations already require these packages to be publicly disclosed.  The problem is that no one really is digging into and widely publicizing the information, so the beneficial effect of this approach has been minimal.   Accordingly, other than renewing attempts more broadly to disseminate this information in the marketplace, and even though the status quo does sometimes give us some obscene results, I recommend that we leave this problem alone.

Question for the Week: How do billboards communicate?  Answer: In sign language.

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President



By the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, Twitter at judgejamesgray, and wordpress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com.  Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty.

Monday, February 4, 2019

2 PARAGRAPHS 4 LIBERTY: #202 "A COMPENSATION DILEMMA"

     One of the issues today that appears mainly unfixable but also eminently unfair and even infuriating is the disparity of compensation paid to the lower working classes versus that sometimes provided to some senior employees and officers of some public companies.  For example, when I read about severance packages in the tens of millions of dollars for some senior executives, it feels obscene.  Why should any such person ever be in the position to receive any such payout?  It is simply too much money!  I know that life is often unfair and it is certainly complicated, and that compensation is also often reduced by a progressive income tax system, but this still bothers me.  But the problem is, what can be done about it, if anything? 
       For the government to reach in and put limits upon compensation packages in the private sector both strongly violates my libertarian philosophy as a clear violation of Liberty, and is also impractical.  It is clear that private competing companies must be able to attract and retain gifted, experienced, creative and insightful leaders, and one effective way to do that is to offer attractive compensation packages.  For example, most people probably agree that people like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Thomas Edison should be well compensated by their companies.  The problem is that the compensation packages of most CEOs and other high officials are mostly set by the board of directors.  But, as a practical matter, most of the members of the boards have their positions at the pleasure of those same officials.  So the relationship can be incestuous and often hollow.  An alternative would be for there to be a law that everyone’s compensation package be capped at something like ten times that paid to the lowest-paid worker.  But formulas like that can bring both substantial philosophical and practical problems of their own, depending upon many variables.  (Remember the Law of Unintended Consequences?)
         I don’t have a proposed resolution for this nagging and sometimes even galling problem, but instead bring it to you for your thoughts and suggestions.  Please respond as to those thoughts.  It is an important issue that bothers many people in our country in a time that we need both to heal many wounds and also have people believe that they are being addressed and healed.  Do you agree?  If so, what should be done about this issue, if anything?

Quote for the week:  “Dreams are not so different from deeds as some may think.  All the deeds of men are only dreams at first.  And in the end, their deeds dissolve into dreams.”                                                                                          Theodore Herzl:  Old New Land (1902)

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.) 
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
 Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President



By the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, Twitter at judgejamesgray, and wordpress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com.  Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty.

Monday, January 28, 2019

2 PARAGRAPHS 4 LIBERTY: #201 "UNALTERABLE LAWS"

        Regardless of what legislatures, courts or juries say, there are some laws in life that always affect human conduct that are unalterable.  One of these laws is the Law of Supply and Demand.  This law certainly can be affected by other laws, regulations and mores, but it can never be repealed.  One explanation for this is that, to the degree that people have Liberty to make choices, they will always consider their own self-interest when it comes to spending their money, time or labor.  Of course, some of those self-interests can be altruistic, but at least to some degree, this law always affects human conduct.  And no educated person is unaware of this reality that Incentives Matter! 
  
            The second is the Law of Unintended Consequences.  This law demonstrates that, no matter what the good intentions are of the people making rules or passing laws, there are often to even a great extent other consequences that provide results that are unforeseen and frequently negative.  Dr. Milton Friedman proposed the best antidote to this law by suggesting that we should judge programs by their results, not their good intentions.  Some good examples of those results are minimum wage laws that purport to want to increase wages for low-paid workers.  But the blunt reality is that some people’s labors, most often those of young people and other unskilled laborers, simply are not worth the increased expense to their employers.  So, as a result, they lose their jobs or don’t get hired in the first place.  Is this a bad thing?  Actually, most sociologists would agree that it is far better for society, for example, to have 100 people at work earning $10 per hour than 65 people earning $15 per hour.  Other similar laws of purportedly good intentions are rent-control laws, which attempt to keep rents below market rates.  Those laws work fine, at least temporarily, for the fortunate few people who already have apartments at the lower rates.  But landlords mostly will do anything they reasonably can to maximize their profits.  (Remember, Incentives Matter!)  So they will attempt to evict lower-paying tenants, or convert their apartments into condominiums or even parking lots that will bring a market rate of return on their investments. And they most certainly will not invest in building new apartments.  So all of this results in a decrease in the supply of apartments, which further exacerbates the problem.  And this is normal human conduct.  So listen to Milton Friedman.  Regardless of good intentions, and even voters’ perceptions of those intentions, the only fair yardstick of good laws is their actual results.  If people were to understand this basic concept, this would be a positive revolution in our country.   
  
            Quote for the week:  “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”  Thomas Paine


Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President



By the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, Twitter at judgejamesgray, and wordpress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com.  Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty.

Monday, January 21, 2019

2 PARAGRAPHS 4 LIBERTY: #200 "OUR MOST IMPORTANT JOB"

     This is the last in my non-expert series about parenting and mentoring our children, which are probably the most important jobs that most of us will ever have.  We have already covered many important aspects of raising children, such as loving them and setting boundaries and expectations.  So this edition will wrap it up with a few more abstract thoughts on these important subjects. 

·         The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.
·         Teach children not to cry or whine when things go poorly, but instead to use words.
·         If children fall down, teach them to get up – on their own.
·         When looking for a mate, project who you would like to be the mother/father of your children.  That approach alone has changed numbers of lives – for the better.
·         Within reason, if someone is “bullying” your children, give them some advice, but let them deal with it themselves.
·         The classic father is gentle beneath his firmness, and the classic mother is firm beneath her gentleness.
Finally, although it may for some people not be politically correct to discuss this issue so bluntly, one of the best things that parents can do for their children is to be married to each other.  How and with whom people live if they are not parents I leave to their own sense of morals and views of Liberty.  But if people have children they owe it to their children to be legally as well as morally committed to each other in marriage.  Without this commitment, in so many ways the children of those parents are virtually condemned to having lives of substantially reduced opportunities!  And, tragically, today’s social mores appear almost routinely to accept this as the status quo.  For example, if Google is accurate, something like 39.8 percent of ALL births in the United States come to unwed mothers, with a breakdown of 29 percent for Caucasians, 53 percent for Hispanics, and 71 percent for African Americans.  So what can we do about this?  We should hammer this thought into children we can influence from an early age, and when we hear laudatory reports about male celebrities who have children “with their girlfriends,” we should respond with sadness and even shame.  This issue should not be left to religious and spiritual leaders alone, each of us must all vocally do our part. Liberty comes with responsibilities, and where better to place our efforts than the future of so many of our children?  

Quote for the week:  “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”  Margaret Mead

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.) 
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President



By the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, Twitter at judgejamesgray, and wordpress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com.  Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty.

Monday, January 14, 2019

2 PARAGRAPHS 4 LIBERTY: #199 "CHILDPROOFING THEIR CHILDHOOD"

     The response to last week’s 2 Paragraphs edition about the parenting and mentoring of children was gratifying, but I received only a few additional suggestions to pass along to you.  Nevertheless, it’s not too late.  So if you have additional thoughts about what works and what doesn’t, please don’t be bashful.  But one more thought occurred to me after the column was distributed, and it came from the DEA agent on the first narcotics case I tried as a federal prosecutor.  The agent told me that the prime defendant had been his friend when they were in high school together.  But the huge difference between the paths they chose was caused by their mentors: the agent had been mentored by his basketball coach, and his friend had been mentored by a drug dealer.  “There but for the Grace of God” the situations could and likely would have been reversed.
       And to follow up on last week’s concept, what many parents are doing too often today is childproofing the development of their own children.  What does that mean?  Because of fears that our children will be hurt or harmed, we don’t allow them to walk to school by themselves, play unescorted in parks where they can make up games to play with their friends, go to a market or travel on public transportation unchaperoned, climb trees or generally learn how to take care of themselves until dark when it’s “time to come home for dinner” – which was the rule when I was growing up.  Furthermore, during my childhood there were no terms like “Helicopter Parents,” and my friends and I were not protected by a “safe space” or from “trigger words” so that we could be kept from being confronted or otherwise forced to think on the spot for ourselves.  Yes, we certainly want our children to be safe, but many too many ways we have overdone it!  Not only do these “protections” breed a lack of ingenuity, creativity and independence, they also develop in many children a fear of life itself unless there is plenty of structure and supervision.  So what good is Liberty if people are too fearful even after they have “grown up” to give it a try?  Yes, Liberty can be scary in lots of ways, but it still is the best and most productive and gratifying way to live our lives!!

Quote for the week:  “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”  Abraham Lincoln

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.) 
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President



By the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, Twitter at judgejamesgray, and wordpress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com.  Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty.

Monday, January 7, 2019

2 PARAGRAPHS 4 LIBERTY: #198 "THE PARENTING/MENTORING OF CHILDREN

There are many things where I am not an expert, and parenting and mentoring children is certainly on that list.  But taking from my experience both as a parent and as a judge on the Juvenile Court and with Peer Court, I have gathered some thoughts over the years as to what works in that regard.  So with the New Year now with us, I thought that, in addition to loving our children, which is probably the most critical element in their positive  development, I would share some of those additional thoughts with you:


·         Teach our children the critical lesson that: “It’s fun to learn!”  Once they start to appreciate that fact, they will see that everything is interrelated.  So learning about one thing teaches them about many others.  And that makes life much more fascinating.

·         Another critical guideline to teach our children is to “Eschew Mediocrity.”  (I know this word is pompous, but I used it for emphasis in my high school musical “Americans All,” and it worked.)  Make excellence a pattern so if people know that, for example, Ellen did the job, they would know that it had been done right.  Thus “Good Enough” seldom is good enough.  One way to accomplish that outcome is to require all children to have regular chores to do from an early age, and be sure they are consistently done and done well.  Once again, excellence is a learned pattern of conduct.

·         “You Show Me your Friends, and I’ll Show You your Future!”  For example, if you hang out with colleagues who ditch school, smoke marijuana, talk back to their teachers and don’t apply themselves in their studies, the odds are overwhelming that you will do the same.  So, to pursue that thought, ask teenagers to close their eyes and think about the three people they hang out with the most.  And, without telling you who they are, ask the question: “Do you think they will be successful in their lives?”  If not, maybe you should hang out with a different group of people.   Another approach is to ask the question: “What is a friend?”  Does someone who encourages you to shop lift a CD, be truant or lie about your conduct really a “friend?”  Maybe that person is just a former friend, or maybe has always just been an acquaintance

·         Children should know where their boundaries of conduct are, and that those boundaries will be enforced – and then they will thrive within those boundaries.  Teenagers expect their parents to parent – and are inwardly disappointed when they don’t.  (Some parents are amazed at this thought, as they have instead simply tried to be their children’s “friends.”  But that is not the same thing!)

·         Ask teenagers how old they are right now, and then how old they will be ten years from now.    (I only had one young man get the wrong answer to this question.)  Then ask them what they want their lives to look like ten years from now.  (We all know that those ten years will go by quickly, but for a teenager it will seem like an eternity.)  So if you want to be an engineer, attorney, mechanic or medical doctor, what are you doing right now to further those worthwhile goals?  And will shoplifting at Target help you achieve them? 

·         “Your Dreams Don’t Work Unless You Do.”  Another way to drive home this thought is for a parent, teacher or other mentor to say: “I help those who help themselves.”

·         Teach children to question information, regardless of its source.  For example, one of my triumphs of parenting occurred one day when my three children, then at ages 9, 9 and 6, were driving with me through an area where there were sheets of plastic on the ground to nurture the growth of young strawberry plants.  So I said casually, “Look kids, this is where they grow plastic,” to which they responded: “Oh really Daddy, oh really?”  I said nothing.  But after we had driven another five miles down the road one of my children piped up and said: “Oh, come on Dad.”  I still see that as an important lesson for them.

·         Teach children that it often pays to postpone gratification.  People who can do that are much more likely to be successful than those who cannot.

·         Of course, grandparents should strongly to assist in the development of children, but it is also their obligation to spoil the grandchildren.  So do it without apology!
Okay, this edition has been much longer than I was expecting, but if even some of these thoughts make sense and are helpful, please use them and pass them along to other parents, teachers, coaches, scout leaders and other mentors as well.  It is hard for me to come up with a more important subject.  And if you have some other suggestions for successful parenting and mentoring, please pass them back to me.  If there are enough suggestions, we can revisit this issue in a future edition of 2 Paragraphs.

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President


Thought for the week:  “I ordered a chicken and an egg from Amazon.  I’ll let you know.”
                                                                              
By the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, Twitter at judgejamesgray, and wordpress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com.  Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2 PARAGRAHS 4 LIBERTY: #197 "SOME REFLECTIONS DURING THE CHRISTMAS SEASON"

     As this Christmas and Holiday Season is upon us, please join me in two reflections.  The first is: “We should pause to consider how our lives have been enhanced by some other people, and be grateful for them.”  And the second is: “We should pause to consider how we ourselves have been able to have enhanced the lives of others, and be grateful for those opportunities.”  For me, these reflections both originated from Frank Capra’s classic 1947 film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and in many ways they embody the Christmas Spirit.  So I wanted to share them with you.
        As to the first reflection, and as I wrote in the first sentence of the Introduction of one of my books,* the best decision I ever made in my life was choosing my parents.  And this is simply true.  Being born to the loving, wonderful and supportive Elizabeth and William Gray provided me fantastic benefits that many people have never come close to receiving.  And, to my everlasting gratification, they knew I loved and appreciated them!  (Don’t let you or anyone close to you leave this earth without ensuring that they also know that you love and appreciate them!)  And there were many others as well, such as my wonderful wife and children; my sister and her loving and supportive husband; several good and close friends (one of whom helps by giving me suggestions and criticisms of most of my writings, including this 2 Paragraphs series); several former teachers and mentors (some of whom I have subsequently written to express my appreciation); and many more, many of whom I recognize and some of whom I will never know.  Imagine how my life would have been different had they not been in it!  But also don’t forget to include in your reflections how you have made positive differences in the lives of others – whether they have realized and expressed appreciation for them or not.  It brings genuine gratification just to know that a few things you have done have brought happiness, opportunities and warmth to others – and that should be enough.
                

So I hope you savor and bask in this Give and Receive Christmas Spirit with me.  Life is Good!

Wearing the Robe: the Art and Responsibilities of Judging in Today’s Courts (Square One Press, 2009)


Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President




Question for the week: What did Adam say to his wife on the day before Christmas?  “Merry Christmas Eve.”
                                                                              
By the way, these columns are now on Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, Twitter at judgejamesgray, and wordpress at judgejimgray@wordpress.com.  Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty.