Paul Little: Don't play cute with your vote

Trump supporters. Photo / AP
Trump supporters. Photo / AP

It has been quite the week for wacko decisions. Take the University of Auckland, whose council has voted to increase the number of places for second-year students at its - I suppose for marketing purposes they'd like me to say "internationally renowned" - law school.

The numbers are to go up by nearly 20 per cent, from 320 to 380.

This is despite pleas from those who actually have to do the teaching at the world-famous law school not to do so.

At the same time other universities around the country, ones that do not enjoy Auckland's global reputation are cutting back on teaching the humanities.

Yet, as is the case with many other career-focused courses of study, we are already producing more lawyers (and journalists and sound engineers and film editors) than we need.

In defiance of the laws of economies, the demand for this supply does not exist.

One can only presume that the university, despite its interplanetary renown, needs the money that 60 more stage-two students would bring in.

What we actually need is people who can think, reason and argue in the sort of creative ways that are not necessarily encouraged at Auckland's Law School even if it is an interstellar byword for excellence.

We are short of people with the kind of outlook that comes from studying subjects that come under the heading of humanities.

And, yes, at Otago, which is leading this charge, that includes cuts to anthropology, English and linguistics, history, language and cultures and music, and all the other nancy subjects that are being thrown under the academic bus.

The net result of these two parallel movements will be to create fewer well-rounded humans and more lawyers, hardly a desirable outcome.

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To the great American showman, entrepreneur - and, for four terms, a Republican legislative representative - PT Barnum is attributed the observation "No one ever lost money underestimating the gullibility of the American people".

Or, we might, add an election.

Appropriately for a discussion of this particular US election result, he never said that, but everyone believes he did.

Donald Trump is the PT Barnum of our day - a ruthless exploiter of others who was much more talk than pants.

In August, tired of the attention being given this screeching popinjay I wrote "Most Americans - although clearly not all - are good people with fully functioning hearts and minds. They are generous and sensible. There aren't tightly bound bundles of hatred. They don't stand around in T-shirts emblazoned with guns yelling racist slogans into the air."

This was incorrect and I am happy now to set the record straight.

Most Americans - although clearly not all - are not good people with fully functioning hearts and minds.

They are neither generous nor sensible. There are tightly bound bundles of hatred. They stand around in T-shirts emblazoned with guns yelling racist slogans into the air.

Good to have that cleared up.
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The precedent of Brexit has been invoked to explain Trump's victory.

The electoral tide was turned by a wave of voters who had been planning to vote for him all along but had either not shown up in polls or lied to pollsters.

Comment on this has overlooked the other half of the Brexit example - that many of those who voted to leave the European Union did so as a protest vote against the status quo in the belief that they could rely on others to vote for the right result because that's what the polls said would happen.

That was the real lesson of Brexit - don't play cute with your vote because democracy does work.

- Herald on Sunday

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