The Tax Foundation just released this study which adjusts the value of $100 in various parts of the country to account for different states’ prices. Due to higher price tags for the same goods, this $100 buys less in expensive states than in states where items cost less. It probably won’t come as much as a surprise that you should look no further than the Beltway for the priciest spot. A $100 bill in the District of Columbia will only buy $84.60 worth of items
UD is now restricting the use of e-cigarettes on campus, essentially treating them equivalently to real cigarettes. We don’t use e-cigs, but the policy seems to us an unreasonable imposition on those who do.
The Student Government Association supports changing UD’s policy to include e-cigarettes. In an informal Academic Senate survey of faculty representatives, the majority of respondents expressed support for the revised policy. The Human Resources Advisory Council also reviewed the proposed change.
A few faculty and staff expressed concern that some use e-cigarettes as a cessation device. Others questioned the risk of second-hand e-cigarette vapor, but the majority expressed no objections to the policy revision.
Count us among those who question the risk of second-hand e-cigarette vapor. What’s the scientific evidence that such trace amounts of vapor pose a health risk? Zero?
We also couldn’t help but notice that the policy was approved by the Student Government Association. Ah, there go those young millenials again demonstrating their rebellious and untamed spirit by…falling right into line with establishment doctrine. Next, they’ll assert their unique individualism by getting a tattoo just like everybody else.
Are we discouraging faculty, staff and students who are using e-cigarettes as a cessation device?
E-cigarettes are not an FDA-approved cessation device, and the health consequences of inhaling the nicotine vapor are not known. We are not restricting the use of other cessation devices found in nicotine replacement products such as patches, gum, lozenges, an inhaler and nasal spray. The Office of Human Resources offers periodic smoking cessation classes for those who want to quit.
So we guess the answer is, yes, UD is in fact discouraging faculty, staff and students from using e-cigs as a cessation device. They’re not discouraging the methods they prefer, like patches and gum, just the e-cigs. Of course, people use all kinds of methods to quit smoking. Some even use hypnosis. We would have thought that free-born citizens could decide for themselves which method they’ll use. But UD presumes to know better. This is what lack of respect for liberty looks like.
Why are e-cigarettes being added to the smoking policy?
The majority of our campus community supports this amendment to the policy.
How do they know this? We don’t recall voting on it. In any event, majoritarianism is not a moral argument. There was a time in American history when a majority approved of slavery.
Our faculty, staff and students are accustomed to working and learning in a smoke-free environment.
E-cigs don’t burn anything. They produce no smoke.
We want to maintain a healthy workplace and do not want to create a perception that smoking of any form is condoned.
The perception of insipid nannyism they’re less worried about.
The manufacturers of e-cigs really should have called them e-vaporizers or something other than cigarettes. Calling them cigarettes just opened the door to status-jockeying busybodies to restrict them.
If a colleague is smoking an e-cigarette in the office, what do I do?
Please advise your colleague to move to a public roadway, sidewalk or one of our 14 designated outdoor areas.
Let’s say we’re alone in our office and we indulge in an e-cigarette. Would someone from student government or the Human Resources Advisory Council please explain to us why that’s anybody’s business other than our own?
Back in January, in “Then and Now, Part Trois,” we contrasted contemporary militarized policing with the policing depicted some 50 years ago on The Andy Griffith Show. This week, rioting occurred in the St. Louis area, and the police response inspired Mike Luckowich, a Pulitzer-winning cartoonist, to make essentially the same comparison that we made. We suspect, however, that readers have to be above age 45 or so to appreciate the point (Luckowich is 54).
As peace officers, Andy and Barney never resorted to force or intimidation except as a last resort, and they always treated the public they served with kindness and respect. They possessed no military gear. Barney carried an unloaded revolver, with a single bullet kept in his breast pocket. Of course, Andy and Barney never faced the challenges that today’s police officers often do. But the way Andy and Barney approached the job should still serve as a worthy, if not fully attainable, ideal. The public they served were their friends, neighbors and, as taxpayers, their employers–not their enemy. Maybe today’s police could benefit from watching reruns of the show.
We’re not sure we’d feel totally secure driving over the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, which opened last year.
“The bridge is safe,” California Department of Transportation officials intoned Tuesday at a state senate transportation committee hearing, so many times that chairman Mark DeSaulnier asked them to stop. The Concord Democrat was willing to concede that the stylish new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, ten years late and $5 billion over budget, was safe enough.
Well, the construction phase, at any rate, was delayed ‘only’ about six years. Back in the 1930s, the original Bay Bridge required 3 years and 4 months to construct. The new Bay Bridge took 11 years and 7 months, or about three and a half times as long. Would it be too pessimistic of us to regard the delay as an indicator of the diminished vitality of our civilization?
At an earlier hearing in January, witnesses told DeSaulnier in considerable detail how Caltrans bosses, pushing to complete the project, compromised public safety by ignoring problems with welds, bolts, and rods. Fabrication manager Keith Devonport, Skyped in from England, testified about flawed welds and “willful blindness” on the part of Caltrans managers “looking for ways not to look at some of the issues.” Caltrans geologist Michael Morgan testified that safety problems were kept secret, ignored, and covered up. Morgan was among the first to call for a criminal investigation. He brought his evidence to several state audit agencies, but none took action. So Morgan told his story to the Sacramento Bee, which published a series of investigative articles by Charles Piller highlighting the safety concerns.
Several storms in recent years exposed parts of the bridge to flooding, and corrosion was evident even before the span opened to motorists. A few months before the bridge was scheduled to open last year, dozens of long metal support rods snapped. Metallurgical engineer Lisa Thomas testified that this was due to “hydrogen embrittlement,” a problem Caltrans invited by opting to use Grade BD steel, rather than the more robust Grade BC. Thomas says that hydrogen is to this type of steel “as Kryptonite is to Superman.”
Caltrans also outsourced work to China, where workers produced cracked welds. Nathan Lindell, a former quality-assurance manager, testified that “the project was not built under the same rule book” as other California bridges. Chinese welders, he says, slept through training sessions. Caltrans engineer Douglas Coe noted that every one of the bridge’s 750 Chinese-made panels had to be repaired. After Coe raised concerns about defective welds, Caltrans project manager Tony Anziano—a lawyer, not an engineer—reassigned him.
Back in the day, a construction project of this scale would have been headed by an engineer. Now, a lawyer. Is that a symptom or a cause of the problem? Or some of both?
Since 2011, DeSaulnier has introduced six bills to reform Caltrans, including the creation of an independent inspector general. But Governor Jerry Brown vetoed them all. Referring to the bridge-safety concerns last year, Brown told reporters, “I mean, look, shit happens.”
Great Moments in Leadership
The buck stops here.–Harry S. Truman
I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.–Winston Churchill
Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.–Abraham Lincoln
I mean, look, shit happens.–Jerry Brown
The Department of Homeland Security is a vast and sprawling federal agency that was created allegedly to protect Americans from another 9/11. Instead of catching terrorists, however, DHS has taken America in the direction of a squalid and arbitrary police state. DHS couldn’t manage to catch up with the Tsarnaev brothers who blew up the Boston Marathon, and they can’t stop Hondurans with tuberculosis and other communicable diseases from illegally entering the country. But DHS does manage to terrorize Americans with SWAT-like raids to enforce petty regulations. Let’s just take a look at a few of DHS’s recent operations in the news.
1. DHS conducted raids around the country to seize 40 Land Rover vehicles that allegedly do not meet EPA emission standards. At the home of Jennifer and Bill Brinkley in Statesville, N.C., agents showed up in six official vehicles. A government awash in red ink has the resources to send six vehicles because a Land Rover might have a little too much nitrous oxide in its exhaust. Why did they need to use so many agents and vehicles? Because the feds realize that citizens might balk at seeing $60,000 worth of property taken without compensation. The agents don’t want to face any resistance, so the cowards try to intimidate the citizens by making a show of overwhelming force. Cowards, yes, we said it.
Jennifer and Bill Brinkley were satisfied that their $60,000 dollar purchase of a Land Rover Defender on eBay complied with regulations because it fell into the exemption category of a vehicle 25 years or older.
However, when DHS agents turned up at the property, they compared the car’s Vehicle Identification Number to a list and immediately seized the Land Rover. The couple were not given “a chance to debate the issue.”
WBTV’s Steve Ohnesorge said DHS agents conducted “almost like a raid to get the car.”
“It’s just unnerving the way they did it,” said Bill Brinkley.
About this incident, Mark Steyn had a few choice comments.
I’m sick of “agents” and “raids”. These guys are not agents; they’re low-level bureaucrats. America is unique in the developed world in turning minor officials from the Department of Paperwork into “agents” and letting them run around pretending to be James Bond. And, by the way, the point about 007 is that it’s a very low number, because there are supposed to be very few of them. If you’re wondering why America is the Brokest Nation in History, with a national government that has to pay back $18 trillion (which is more than anyone ever has had to pay back) just to get back to having nothing, well, consider this: They sent six SUVs of trained agents to check the vehicle identification number on the imported 1985 Land Rover of a respectable, law-abiding couple no threat to anybody. That total waste of resources is repeated a bazillion times a day across the land – and, like Iran’s room-service bill in Vienna, you’re paying for it.
2. DHS’s mission creep has extended as far as protecting Americans from knock-off merchandise.
Brockton cops and Homeland Security raided a strip club authorities say was peddling fake Red Sox and Patriots gear in exchange for lap dances and seized the counterfeit goods — part of a growing problem that one expert says is not necessarily a victimless crime.
Employees at the Foxy Lady Brockton were wearing some of the knock-off sports teams shirts when investigators showed up for the strip club sweep Friday afternoon and found about $10,000 worth of counterfeit gear, said Brockton police Lt. Paul Bonanca.
Wonder how many agents and vehicles were involved in that raid. Cracking down on knock-off sports gear–good to know there is no serious crime in America. But what do knock-offs have to do with ‘homeland security?’
3. Detaining a van filled with boy scouts and pointing a gun at a boy scout’s head. No, really.
A central Iowa Boy Scout troop just returned from a three-week trip they will likely never forget.
About 10 days into the trip, an innocent action by one of the nearly two dozen Scouts at the Canadian border into Alaska set off a chain of events that lead to a U.S. border official pointing a gun at a scout’s head.
Boy Scout Troop 111 Leader Jim Fox spelled out what happened to him and the Mid-Iowa Boy Scout Troop 111 as four van-loads of Scouts and adult volunteers tried to drive from Canada into Alaska.
Fox said one of the Scouts took a picture of a border official, which spurred agents to detain everyone in that van and search them and their belongings.
“The agent immediately confiscated his camera, informed him he would be arrested, fined possibly $10,000 and 10 years in prison,” Fox said.
Fox said he was told it is a federal offense to take a picture of a federal agent.
Not wanting things to escalate, Fox said he did not complain.
Another of the Scouts was taking luggage from the top of a van to be searched when something startling happened.
“He hears a snap of a holster, turns around, and here’s this agent, both hands on a loaded pistol, pointing at the young man’s head,” Fox explained.
Fox said that had them all in fear.
Ultimately no one was hurt or arrested, and after about four hours they were allowed to continue their trip into Alaska.
Pulling a gun on a boy scout. Like we said, cowards.
And that part about how it’s “a federal offense to take a picture of a federal agent?” Not true, as Mark Steyn explains.
[N]othing that Agent Bozo threatened is actually true. “Federal agents” routinely tell people they’re not allowed to take photographs, but there seems to be no – oh, what’s the word? – laws that actually support this, and courts have consistently ruled that government employees have no expectation of privacy when conducting public business in public. There is a federal “regulation” governing photography on federal property for “news, advertising or commercial purposes” but that doesn’t cover a boy scout in a van taking vacation souvenirs.
Is there a $10,000 fine and ten years in prison for taking a holiday snap? No. Even for taking photographs of “certain vital military and naval installations”, the guilty party shall be “imprisoned not more than one year”.
So this agent is either extremely ill-informed, or simply bullying a kid because he knows he can.
These are American boy scouts trying to enter a part of their own country, Alaska, and their own government puts them through the ringer. But simultaneously, the government can’t manage to do anything about tens of thousands of alien minors crossing the southern border illegally. Priorities.
This is the evil of a dying republic – waving through gangbangers at the southern border, but at the northern border detaining boy scouts for four hours. No novelist or movie director would attempt that contrast – it’s too pat, too neat. But it’s somehow become American reality in the 21st century.
And that’s not the end of the border follies, as shown by the next item on our list. This one also comes from Mark Steyn.
4. Seizing vintage bagpipes and striking fear in the hearts of bagpipers.
Webster comes from a long line of bagpipers: his father Gordon was pipe-major for the 1st and 2nd Batallion the Scots Guards and personal piper to the Queen. So he passed on the 1936 family bagpipes to his son, and young Campbell uses them to play in pipe championships in North America and around the world. So this weekend he was returning to New Hampshire from a competition in Canada, which is how a newspaper story comes to open with a sentence never before written in the history of the English language:
BAGPIPERS have expressed their fear over a new law which led to two US teenagers having their pipes seized by border control staff at the weekend.
They can chisel that on the tombstone of the republic. On the northern border, bagpipers are “expressing their fear”, while on the southern border gangbangers have no fear and stroll through the express check-in. Putin has no fear of American power, the mullahs have no fear of American power, the Chinese politburo has no fear of American power, ISIS has no fear of American power, but the world’s bagpipers fear it, and with good reason.
The figleaf of a pretext for seizing Messrs Webster and Bean’s bagpipes is what The Scotsman (as usual, any real news about America has to be gleaned from the foreign press) calls “new laws” introduced a month ago. By “laws”, they don’t mean something passed by the people’s representatives in a legislature – there’s not a lot of that going on these days – but a little bit of regulatory fine-tuning by some no-name bureaucrats at the Department of Paperwork. The upshot of which is that, if you own a vintage bagpipe containing ivory and you wish to take it to a competition in Montreal, you have to get a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) certificate from the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
Got that? You have to get your musical instrument approved by Fish & Wildlife.
Guess these poor guys should have let Fish & Wildlife know about their bagpipes. Wait, what?
Oh, but Messrs Webster and Bean were on top of that. They’d gone to Fish & Wildlife, gotten their CITES certificates, and presented them to the US Customs & Border Protection agent upon returning to the United States via a Vermont border crossing (presumably either Highgate or Derby Line, both of which I use frequently).
At which point the Commissar of Bagpipes said, “Ah, yes, the CITES certificate is valid but…”
Here it comes, boys and girls! Stand well back; it’s the Bollocks of the Day from your friendly all-American Bureau of Compliance:
“The CITES certificate is valid but…it’s only valid at 38 designated ports of entry.” And this wasn’t one of them. So he confiscated the bagpipes.
Why don’t they just put a big sign up on the border? “US Government Paperwork Not Accepted At This US Government Border Post.”
So Customs & Border Protection will wave through “unaccompanied minors”, but if the minor’s accompanied by a bagpipe the guy in the full Robocop will seize it and tell the kid he’s “never going to see them again”. And then the Robocop goes home having done a full and rewarding day of work.
Yeah, bet that border agent was satisfied with himself. These petty government dysfunctionaries really do believe they’re the thin blue line separating civilization from anarchy.
5. Conducting a massive raid in the tiny town of Livingston, IL. In an “impressive show of force,” the operation involved several federal, state, and local agencies, a mobile command center, multiple armored vehicles, choppers, and at least 10 police cars.
And the reason for the raid?
Robert E. Godsey, 34, was charged Friday in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis with a slew of child pornography offenses, the Belleville News Democrat reported…
They reportedly recovered roughly 600 videos and more than 1,000 images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct from Godsey’s home.
In a healthy polity, they would have just apprehended the creep by sending a couple of sheriff’s deputies with a warrant.
So what’s the justification for the massive show of force?
“It’s better to be over-prepared,” said Jim Porter, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois.
Like we said, cowards.
6. Showing up for no good reason at all.
GREENVILLE, N.C. – Several Homeland Security cars were stationed outside of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Greenville today, sparking some concern there might be danger.
But Homeland Security officers told 9 On Your Side they were there as part of their community outreach to let people know they are in the area.
Nothing personal, but living in a society with a constant heavy-handed police presence actually does not make us feel secure.
The foregoing list of DHS depredations all occured in just the last few weeks. The list is surely not exhaustive, and goodness only knows how many enormities occur over a whole year.
The video below might be the best thing to come out of Canada since French toast with peanut butter. The narration skillfully uses logic, facts, science, and humor to explain why speed limits do not contribute to safety. Paradoxically, safety can be improved by raising speed limits.
Noteworthy in particular is the scene starting at 7:50 where the Vancouver-area cop, observing a busy roadway, claims that “everybody’s been speeding.” Well, a couple of points about that.
First, if a law is broken by literally everybody, that means it’s a bad law. Second, a message for the cop. All those people who you say are behaving badly and unlawfully are the ones who pay your salary through their taxes. That means that you work for them. They are your boss, not the other way around.
These days, we’re seeing more and more disdain for the public by pampered government employees. Their attitude reminds us of Bertolt Brecht’s famous quip that “the people have lost the confidence of the government; the government has decided to dissolve the people, and to appoint another one.” Yeah, if only that Vancouver cop could find some worthy drivers!
And befitting the subject of speed traps, Brecht also said, “You can’t write poems about trees when the woods are full of policemen.” Maybe not, be we can still retain our sense of humor. Indeed, we particularly like the way the video cleverly interjects humor at various points. As a wise man once said, big government will be brought down not with a bang, but with a laugh.
It’s true that if current policies are continued with no change, we’re highly likely to face an unsustainable fiscal gap — a gap that can’t go on forever — if we look far enough away. Stein’s Law therefore applies: if something can’t go on forever, it will stop. Sooner or later, we will have some combination of benefits cuts and/or revenue increases.
Saying that this means that the United States is bankrupt is hyperbole; more important, it’s not helpful. What, exactly, should we be doing right now?
The answer all the deficit-panic types offer is basically that we must cut future benefits. But why, exactly, is that something that must be done immediately? If you state the supposed logic, it seems to be that to avoid future benefit cuts, we must cut future benefits. I’ve asked for further clarification many times, and never gotten it.
It’s funny that there is never any discussion of CURRENT cuts. So Krugman seems fine with future generations getting the shaft. But how is that fair? Why is it OK for the current generation to pass debts down to the unborn? We would really like some “further clarification” about that.
One of the most popular buzzwords on campuses nowadays is sustainability. Professors label activities they consider bad for the environment, like burning fossil fuels, as ‘unsustainable,’ and their preferred activities as ‘sustainable.’ But when it comes right down to it, none of these environmentalists really knows what he or she is talking about, as evidenced by the fact that they can’t even define the term. Try it. Ask your environmentalist professors to define ‘sustainability.’ They can’t provide a definition that withstands logical scrutiny. As a result, the sustainability ‘issues’ they rant about are mostly mythical, and their proposed ‘solutions,’ such as wind farms, are boondoggles that do more harm than good.
There does exist, however, one genuine problem of sustainability, and that is the financial sustainability of the government budget. Unlike environmentalists and most professors, economists can in fact rigorously and precisely define financial sustainability. And it turns out that the federal government’s current budgetary path is utterly unsustainable. Writing in the New York Times, Tony’s favorite economist, Laurence Kotlikoff, points out that the size of the problem is measured by what economists call the ‘fiscal gap.’
I calculate that the “fiscal gap” — a yardstick of total government indebtedness that I’ve worked on with the economists Alan J. Auerbach and Jagadeesh Gokhale — was $210 trillion last year, up from $205 trillion the previous year. Thus $5 trillion was the true deficit.
The fiscal gap — the difference between our government’s projected financial obligations and the present value of all projected future tax and other receipts — is, effectively, our nation’s credit card bill. Eliminating it, would require an immediate, permanent 59 percent increase in federal tax revenue. An immediate, permanent 38 percent cut in federal spending would also suffice. The longer we wait, the worse the pain. If, for example, we do nothing for 20 years, the requisite federal tax increase would be 70 percent, or the requisite spending cut, 43 percent.
The real problem of sustainability isn’t the fact that you drive a car or plug in a hair dryer. It’s Social Security, which
takes in money, via payroll taxes, while promising hefty retirement benefits in return. Dig deep into the appendix of the most recent Social Security Trustees Report, released on Monday, and you’ll find that the program’s unfunded obligation is $24.9 trillion “through the infinite horizon” (or a mere $10.6 trillion, as calculated through 2088). That’s nearly twice the $12.6 trillion in public debt held by the United States government.
Neither the campus sustainability crowd, nor America’s decadent Political Class, wants to talk about financial sustainability. And the longer they ignore the problem and indeed divert the attention of the public to phony issues, the worse the problem grows, until the point when the nation ultimately is facing a full-blown financial crisis.
Next time anyone on campus uses the term sustainability, students should ask them about financial sustainability.
The political left likes to flatter itself as being pro-science while labeling their political opponents as being anti-science. For instance, one of the first hits to pop up after Googling the term ‘antiscience’ is a CNN headline that reads
Green billionaire prepares to attack ‘anti-science’ Republicans.
As Robert Bork said, however, “The left is not known for telling the truth.” The fact of the matter is that leftists themselves are particularly anti-science. For the left, politics and ideology trump all, and if science gets in the way of political correctness, science gets shoved aside.
The truth of this statement can be supported through innumerable examples. The left, for instance, engages in scaremongering against products shown by science to be quite safe, such as pesticides, genetically modified crops, and nuclear power.
Just the latest example involves the liberal stats guru Nate Silver, founder of the FiveThirtyEight website. Silver made uncannily accurate predictions of the 2012 election, and as a result, attained near cult status on the left as a premier prognosticator.
Recently, Silver hired Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. to write for FiveThirtyEight about environmental issues. Pielke’s very first article for the site got him in trouble. The problem was that the Pielke’s article contradicted the political agenda of ‘climate change.’ And since the left has a lot riding on the climate change gravy train, Pielke had to go. The Climate Cathedral attacked Pielke for heresy.
As for Pielke himself, he was re-excommunicated with extreme prejudice. “Disinformer!” the Daily Kos screamed. “One of the country’s leading tricksters on climate change,” charged the Huffington Post. “Inaccurate and misleading,” was ThinkProgress’s measured verdict. Even that doyen of professionalism and sworn enemy of hyperbole, Michael Mann, weighed in, knocking his foe for his “pattern of sloppiness.” The pile-on was as predictable as it was unjust. At root, Pielke’s biggest crimes are to have walked at slightly different pace than his peers and to have refused to bow to the president. Pielke accepts the IPCC’s view of the climate-change question but suggests in parallel that man’s response is unlikely to have a “perceptible impact on the climate for many decades” and that civilization should thus adapt to, rather than attempt to prevent, change. Elsewhere, Pielke has corrected Barack Obama’s “science czar,” John Holdren, who has recently taken to claiming that everything under the sun is the product of global warming — droughts, hurricanes, wildfires — and who never misses a chance, in Pielke’s words, to “[exaggerate] the state of scientific understanding.” For this unconscionable resistance to fashion, Silver and his hire were marked for destruction.
Dr. Judith Curry, who is an actual, for real, climate scientist, was appalled by the attack on Pielke.
RP Jr’s post at 538 has elicited what is probably the most reprehensible and contemptible smear job that I have ever seen of a scientist, at least from an organization that has any pretense of respectability.
Silver is supposed to be a wonky science guy, but in response to the attack, Silver never again published a piece by Pielke on climate. We agree with Kate McMillan that this incident tells us everything we need to know about Silver and his site.
Thank you for this, Nate Silver… It’s helpful to know that Fivethirtyeight is just another product of spineless pc conformity before I waste any time with it.
Pielke himself summed up the experience this way.
Of course, I do wish that 538 had shown a bit more editorial backbone, but hey, it is his operation. If a widely published academic cannot publish on a subject which he has dozens of peer-reviewed papers and 1000s of citations to his work, what can he write on? Clearly Nate is a smart guy, and I suspect that he knows very well where the evidence lies on this topic. For me, if the price of playing in the DC-NYC data journalism world is self-censorship for fear of being unpopular, then it is clearly not a good fit for any academic policy scholar.
That last sentence is especially damning: “[T]he DC-NYC data journalism world is…clearly not a good fit for any academic policy scholar.” But that “DC-NYC data journalism world” is precisely the authority that so-smart liberals follow unquestioningly.
We note in closing that one of those establishment figures who piled on Pielke was the ever-deplorable Paul Krugman. He seems determined to make society pay a heavy price indeed for the fact that he was not popular in high school.
UD Professor John Rapp passed away Saturday morning at the age of 77. John was Emeritus Professor in the Department of Economics and Finance, where he previously served as chair of the department. He also served for many years as Associate Dean of the School of Business.
John was known as an excellent teacher with a gift for communicating complex economic concepts in understandable terms. He taught for more than 40 years, often in large auditorium classrooms, and over those many years he must have taught economics to more than 10,000, perhaps more than 20,000, students. Indeed, his students can be found almost anywhere, all around the country, spanning multiple generations, often in the same family.
We recall an incident from last summer, when we were sitting with John outside a restaurant, and some sort of outdoor festival was taking place nearby. Suddenly, a young man emerged from the crowd and rushed toward us. He strode up to John, his face beaming and his hand extended, and exclaimed, “Professor Rapp! You were my professor back in 20_ _.” That sort of thing happened a lot, since John touched so many lives.
We were fortunate to work with John for the last 14 years of his career. Despite working in a profession–academia–that attracts more than its share of schemers and backstabbers, John was notably trustworthy and a straight-shooter. In a profession with more than its share of eccentrics, John was normal and down-to-earth.
As an administrator, John consistently displayed equanimity, and treated people with fairness and decency. Experience taught him which battles were worth fighting and which were not, and his decision-making reflected prudence and good judgement.
As an economist, John staunchly defended free-markets and human liberty.
He will be missed.