On Government’s Duty to Secure the Right to Free Speech

I see a lot of people say that free speech is only about what the government does. That is wrong. The First Amendment limits the ways in which government can restrict free speech. But it is not the limit of the right. Private actions can be contrary to free speech, and if we as a society believe in free speech, we need to condemn such actions. And in certain circumstances, the government has a duty to take action to halt or punish acts that interfere with the speech of others, or with the exercise of other fundamental rights. The founding document of our country states the case very clearly: government is established “to secure these rights.” That means more than government not actively interfering in the exercise of those rights. It means taking action against non-government people who unlawfully interfere.

There are, of course, situations where no such government action is appropriate. If two groups are in a public park and one out-chants the other, obscuring the quieter group’s message, then that’s simply free speech v. free speech. But in a situation where a group has legally acquired the right to a forum—by reserving an auditorium or buying a bus ad, for example—we should not countenance people who try to restrict that right, and the government should defend that right. Continue reading

Ode to Macaroni and Cheese

In the last elimination challenge before the finals in the first season of Top Chef, a panel of judges including some of the most accomplished and discerning chefs in the country chose Dave’s truffle & cognac cream macaroni & cheese, filet of beef, and collard greens & radicchio as the winning dish. The filet and greens were criticized for being “afterthoughts” to the macaroni & cheese, which itself was the favorite dish of all the judges. Why did macaroni and cheese capture the imagination of experienced chefs and critics of high-end cuisine? Continue reading

Calculating your Net Worth

I’ve helped quite a few people get a handle on their finances. It can be a big job. But the starting place is always the same: calculate your net worth. What is your net worth? It’s what you have minus what you owe. Why do you start with your net worth? Because you want it to go up, and the only way to tell if it’s going up is to keep track of it.

Whether you’re in debt and trying to get out, doing ok but want to know if you’ll be able to retire, or just starting out on your own, knowing your net worth and being able to easily keep it up to date is essential to understanding your finances. And it’s easier than you think. Continue reading

Black Bean Sauce over Pasta

I like to cook. Really, I do. It’s just that I don’t seem to actually do it very often during the week. I come home late from work and don’t feel like making anything more complicated than a hotdog or peanut-butter sandwich. And when I do come home ready to cook, I often have nothing to cook, because I haven’t gone to the grocery store. I was looking through the cupboard trying to find something other than pasta and tomato sauce to eat when I noticed a can of black beans. I like refried beans, and thought a smoother, more liquidy version would be good as a pasta sauce. Then I ordered a pizza.

But I eventually came back to the idea, and here’s the result. It’s low fat, yet tasty and satisfying. With the beans and whole wheat pasta, it’s a good source of fiber and complete protein. Everything except the yogurt can keep for months, so it’s forgiving of my grocery shopping lapses. Continue reading

Motivation at the Margins

If you’ve read anything about retirement planning, you’ve probably seen the “skip the latte” example. The numbers vary, but it goes something like this: Assume you buy a latte every day at work for $5. If you skipped that latte and invested the $5 in an account that averages 4% return per year, you would have over $95,000 after 35 years. The example is meant to inspire you to make small changes in your spending habits to secure a glorious retirement. If you are capable of absorbing the example and using it to alter your spending habits in one fell swoop, congratulations. You don’t need to read the rest of this article. But I wasn’t able to do it so easily. And I couldn’t figure out why $95,000 was not sufficient motivation to get me to make such little changes until I realized buying coffee isn’t a $95,000 question. It’s a $20 question. Continue reading

Welcome to the new Prince Clan

Welcome to my new blog. You should visit here if you want to subject yourself to my thoughts on the legal system, personal finance, cooking, and anything else that strikes my fancy. For now, the site contains the recipes from the old Prince Clan Recipe site and not much else. You can find recipes using the search box in the upper right corner or the list of categories in the sidebar on the right side of the home page.