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Offer A Splendid Lesson - 05-21-09
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Me? A Grumpy Old Man?
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Top Athletes Should
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Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08
"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" - 2-27-08
"Nosy Congress Makes
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"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL" - 10-12-07
"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07
A number of you have told me that you don’t look forward to reading the column on your computer screen. That’s not necessary if you have a printer. Print out the column and take it with you to the breakfast table or wherever else you choose to read printed material. (You can also call up past columns in case you missed them.)
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April 30, 2008
If the deal sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.
That time-tested bit of wisdom occurs to me as I read more and more stories about the more than a million homeowners who have lost or are in danger of losing their homes because the mortgage loan interest rates—which could and should have been expected—increased beyond their ability to meet the monthly payments.
Most of the criticism of the so-called sub-prime traditional mortgage rates has been directed at lenders who knew—and should have avoided—that non-fixed mortgage interest rates would increase substantially, beyond the homebuyer’s ability to pay.
But occasionally a voice has been raised to point out that the homebuyers—in their zeal to move from rented quarters to houses or from their present home to substantially more expensive home—should have remembered the commonsense adage with which I started today’s column: If the deal sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.
Predictably, politicians in both parties are falling over each other in their efforts to provide bail-out funds—one proposal would guarantee $300 billion of new home loans at lower interest rates.
Washington Post columnist Robert J. Samuelson pointed out that of the many millions of homeowners who have mortgages, only one million to two million of them are the “weakest, most careless borrowers”—the ones who would be bailed out by the federal subsidies. Samuelson wrote:
“Government, under this plan, would punish prudence and reward irresponsibility.”
* * *
This year brings new reminders that decisions by University of Nebraska-Lincoln administrators, paying obeisance to the great goddess Gender Equity, is discriminating against male Nebraska high school graduates who have excelled in swimming or soccer.
A recent World-Herald headline read “Omaha’s place in the spotlight.” The story told of three star graduates of Creighton University men’s soccer team heading for major league soccer team rosters. One of the three is a graduate of Omaha Skutt High School. Another is a product of Omaha Burke. The third played high school soccer at Millard South.
One might wonder why none of these high school stars, products of the state’s booming high school boys soccer program, played for a team representing the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. They had no chance. UNL discriminates against male soccer players by not fielding a men’s soccer team as it does a women’s soccer team.
Please understand that I am not begrudging Creighton the services of three outstanding products of Nebraska’s boys high school soccer program. All three might have gone to Creighton anyhow. But I feel it would definitely be appropriate if Nebraska high school soccer players had a chance to at least consider competing on a team representing the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
UNL administrators have contended for years that they must field more women’s intercollegiate athletic teams than men’s teams to comply with what university officials contend are the requirements of Title IX of the Federal Civil Rights Act.
In interpreting Title IX, federal officials and the National Intercollegiate Athletic Association have chosen to push universities to field more women’s teams than men’s teams to offset the inescapable reality that there is no women’s intercollegiate athletic program that comes close to a men’s football program in terms of large numbers (84 in Division I) of athletic scholarships.
Regulations imposed as a result of Title IX provide that a school must offer non-discriminatory treatment of men and women athletes, but the regulations allow this exception: A school can be held to be in compliance with the regulations if its women’s athletic program is meeting the expressed desires of female students capable of intercollegiate athletic competition in a sport where there is such competition between schools.
But for some reason, UNL and most other universities disregard this “expressed desire…in compliance” provision and choose instead to discriminate against male students in the number of sports in which scholarships are offered. The result, it seems to me, is that UNL and other collegiate institutions are violating the spirit as well as the letter of Title IX in that they are discriminating against male athletes by, in UNL’s case, sponsoring only women’s teams in four sports—soccer, swimming, riflery and bowling.
Drawing renewed attention to what UNL did to the men’s swimming program is the increasing focus on the coming summer’s Olympic swimming trials which will bring to Omaha the best collegiate swimmers in the United States. Isn’t there considerable irony in the fact that the Olympic swimming trials are being held in a state whose principal university eliminated the men’s swimming program and retained the more expensive women’s swimming programs?
Incidentally, if someone tries to tell you that the women’s soccer program at UNL was started in response to an expressed desire from talented soccer players then in attendance on the UNL campus, remind them of the facts:
The first University of Nebraska-Lincoln women’s soccer team was recruited largely from members of the Canadian national women’s team along with the Canadian team’s coach.
And if in starting riflery and bowling (bowling, for heaven sake) teams was in answer to the expressed interest and abilities of women students then on campus, why did—and does—the UNL athletic department recruit bowlers and rifle team members from other states?
An example of what I’m talking about: At season’s end in one recent year, considerable news and attention was given to the fact that the Husker women’s bowling team had two of the world’s top amateur bowlers—one from Arizona and the other from Indiana.
But maybe those world’s-best bowlers weren’t recruited by UNL athletic staff. Perhaps they were walk-ons.
* * *
How are we supposed to interpret a report that black drivers in Douglas and Lancaster counties during 2007 were stopped by law enforcement officials at about twice their proportion of the population?
According to the Nebraska Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, those figures do not necessarily mean racial profiling but they do point to areas that agencies can look at more closely.
I would certainly agree that those figures do not mean disproportionate numbers of traffic stops of black drivers. One would have to know the circumstances of each stop to reach any valid conclusion.
Consider the other side of the racial coin. The commission noted that the number of Nebraska State Patrol stops involving Asian, black and Hispanic drivers was lower than the proportion of those groups in the general population, a first-time finding that Executive Director Michael Behm called encouraging.
But look at it this way: If the State Patrol figures are accurate, it would follow that state troopers—since they stopped a lower percentage of black drivers than the percentage of blacks in the general population—must have stopped a larger percentage of white drivers than the proportion of whites represent in the general population. Would this suggest consideration of the possibility of racial profiling discriminating against white drivers?
I certainly believe this is not the case, just as I believe you can’t use raw statistics to suggest the possibility of racial stereotyping of black drivers.
My bottom line: If there are specific instances of any kind of racial discrimination in traffic arrests on city streets or on state highways, proper authorities should take appropriate action. In this connection, I would note that of 11 allegations of racial discrimination in traffic stops in 2007, all of the complaints were found to be invalid.
* * *
In case you missed it when first published, here’s an item especially for golfers - - and possibly golfers’ non-golfing spouses. It’s a story told in a Hagar the Horrible cartoon in The Sunday Omaha World-Herald comic pages.
Hagar is shown huffing and puffing as he climbs a mountain to seek wisdom from one of those fictitious wise men who so often supply the punch line in jokes. They customarily reside at the top of a mountain somewhere in Asia and wait for wisdom seekers who come and sit at their feet. In this case, Hagar finally puffs his way to a mountaintop and asks: “Are you the one they call ‘The Wise One’”?
“Yes, my son,” The Wise One replies. Hagar says that he has traveled many miles to ask one question. “How can I eliminate stress and frustration from my daily life? How can I achieve inner peace and tranquility?”
The Wise One replies that the answer is simple. Hagar presses: “What is it, O Wise One? What is it?”
The Wise One’s wise answer: “Sell your golf clubs.”
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