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Meliora Moments

Jeff Durbin ’88S (MBA)

Alumnus – Simon Business School

I was in Cliff Smith’s finance class when he told us this story about his days as a PhD student in Chapel Hill.

It was in the 1970s and a handful of hippies were selling homemade sandals out of the back of a VW microbus in the town square. The town fathers were trying to run them out of town so they decided to require sidewalk merchants to get a permit from the city hall. One of the city council members objected by pointing out that his wife liked buying fresh cut flowers from the African-American women. As a compromise, they agreed to require a permit for anyone selling anything except fresh cut flowers.

The following week, Cliff saw the same hippy setting out his sandals next to his microbus but he was putting a flower with each pair of sandals. Cliff asked him what he was doing. The hippy replied, “The sandals are free but the flower will cost $5.” It was a great example of the futility of government intervention and so typically Cliff.

Also, I remember struggling through statistics with Dr. Shlomo Kalish, who had been an Israeli fighter pilot in an earlier life.

During a lecture on the Durbin-Watson Statistic, he turned to me and asked, “Are you related?” I replied, “No!” with enough emphasis that the class burst out laughing, knowing that even if I was related to Dr. James Durbin very little of his statistics knowledge rubbed off on me.