The Locker Room

August 04, 2004

Re: Living in a Commercial World

Posted by Jon Sanders at 11:46 PM

Dang, Summer, looks like you won our little bet.

And I was so sure that it'd be Chad Adams to write the first blog about Count Chocula!

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Living in a Commercial World

Posted by John Hood at 9:33 PM

I just had a sort of commercial-culture harmonic convergence: I'm sitting at home, eating a bowl of Count Chocula cereal, watching reruns of Pinky and the Brain, humming along with its catchy theme song (you must scroll down to see the Pinky and the Brain version of Man of La Mancha), which are being broadcast on a brand-new Viacom/Nickelodeon cartoon channel on my trusty Direct TV satellite system.

I feel deeply, pathetically manipulated and oppressed by The Man.

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Re: NC Funding Motorsports Track

Posted by Paul Chesser at 3:37 PM

Jon's response reminds me of another down payment the state made on an unfunded, unlegislated "commitment" to Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte:

Black wrote in a letter May 23, 2002 to University President Jack Yena: “You have my personal commitment of support for a $10 million investment over the next five years by the State of North Carolina for this project.” Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight and Gov. Mike Easley also wrote letters of support to Yena.

In an interview November 2002 with Carolina Journal, Johnson & Wales spokeswoman Judith Johnson said, “Jack Yena has said that we would not come without the $10 million.” Asked what assurance the school had, Johnson said, “We believe in business by a handshake. The legal documents are being worked up.”

However, beyond the three state leaders’ personal letters of support, no legal documents committing the state exist.

Promises, promises. Do you doubt that the money will somehow be found?

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Bet they won't try something similar when they come to North Carolina

Posted by Jon Sanders at 3:31 PM

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I Hope It Doesn't Go to His Bobblehead

Posted by Paul Chesser at 2:56 PM

I found another opinion poll in which President Bush eeks out a victory over John Kerry.

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Re: An Invittion to Terrorists

Posted by George Leef at 2:31 PM

As another one who has spent many hours on Washington's Metro -- including nerve-wracking ones getting out of DC on September 11, 2001 -- I think that Jeff's explanation is probably correct.

Sooner or later, I'm afraid, terrorists will figure out a way to attack Metro with significant loss of life. There are just too many vulnerable points.

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Re: NC funding a motorsports track

Posted by Jon Sanders at 2:30 PM

So now we find out this (from Donna's link):

... the budget that legislators originally adopted included just $2 million for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to begin planning and design for the track.

But Sen. David Hoyle, D-Gaston, said that legislators had agreed to provide $4 million for the track. "We made a commitment," Hoyle said.

Legislators added $2 million from the state's fund for repairs and renovations to state buildings to the money for the track.

Oh yes, a typical use of that fund; we needed to "repair and renovate" the state's commitment to building [insert boondoggle here].

Well, back in 2000, NASCAR did a good turn for the universities in "Rev[ing] Up Its Engines In Support of Higher Education Bonds." Now it gets its turn at the trough.

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Re: An Invitation To Terrorists in Washington D.C.

Posted by Jeff A. Taylor at 1:54 PM

As an eight-year veteran of D.C.'s Metro system, six of those years spent traveling to the Shady Grove station in question, I'm pretty sure I know what happened.

The operator in question who left the train at 7:12pm no doubt was scheduled to end their shift at 7pm. Metro and its operators are hypersensitive about overtime. Big, public mass transit systems constantly fret about operating costs and relations with labor.

Operators hate, hate, hated to ride all the way out to Shady Grove, deep in the suburbs of Maryland, to end their shift if they lived back towards the other end of the line or if they had their car parked near downtown. For all I know, they are not technically off the clock until they exit the system.

Many, many times I would sit close enough to the operator's cab to hear radio chatter with central dispatch, much of it about when who's shift ended when. It was perfectly common for an operator to be told to hold at certain station so a replacement driver could board. Waits of 10-15 minutes for this process were a little long, but not unheard of. No doubt the localized terror alerts for DC spooked Metro riders into noticing and wondering what the hold up might be this time. Bomb? Ricin?

This all adds up to yet another reason why rail transit for the Triangle and Charlotte is such a horrid idea. Back in the 1950s and 60s when Metrorail was launched, one could reasonably say no one knew about the assorted disfunctions of fixed-rail transit. Everything was seen through a kinda World's Fair pair of rosy glasses.

Today that view cannot be sustained. It is no longer rosy -- more like certifiable.

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Moore Manipulation

Posted by Paul Chesser at 1:50 PM

"Fahrenheit 9/11" is now playing in the Middle East, and some Arabs wonder, "What really struck me is how the American administration was able to manipulate the American people. How can a government do that?"

We were wondering the same thing...

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Why NC Shouldn't Have Funded the Motorsports Test Track

Posted by Donna Martinez at 12:54 AM

There's so much private-industry money vying to get into NASCAR that drivers in victory lane are now knocking off sponsor signs and merchandise I.D.s from their cars in order to give air time to other brands. Jimmie Johnson was fined $10,000 yesterday in what has become an ongoing situation in NASCAR -- an embarrassment of riches. Literally. Seems Johnson has his own endorsement deal with Pepsi, but NASCAR has a deal with Coca-Cola. It was a pesky PowerAde bottle (made by Coca-Cola) that Johnson hid from the cameras Sunday with, you guessed it, yet another sponsor sign, this one from Lowe's, the primary sponsor of Johnson's car. This is just one day's example of an incredibly successful industry that is attracting tons of private support. Good for NASCAR. And good for the companies who clearly see it as a worthwhile business investment. NASCAR's growth is an amazing success story. Problem is, North Carolina's legislators seem to be the only people left who don't realize it. They're clinging to the misguided belief they can stop natural market demand and business expansion with a $4 million taxpayer subsidy for a test track. No doubt, there will be calls for more money later, and you can bet NASCAR will say thank you very much and continue with its business plan -- as it should. The losers, of course, will be you and me.

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An Invitation To Terrorists in Washington D.C.

Posted by Donna Martinez at 11:28 AM

Absolutely unbelievable.

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Re: Lessons from Missouri

Posted by Paul Chesser at 11:04 AM

Oh, and there was another big decision voters made in Missouri yesterday.

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Business-license tax postscript

Posted by John Hood at 11:02 AM

My “Daily Journal” column yesterday over at Carolina Journal Online about regulations left me thinking about the privilege-license tax imposed by most North Carolina localities, which I argued against. Then I saw a piece in The Freeman by my friend Larry Reed, who runs the Mackinac Center for Public Policy up in Michigan. He visited Vietnam in February and noted that “when over a hundred business licenses were abolished in 2000, more than 10,000 new companies were registered within months.”

Reduce the cost of creating businesses, and you got more of them — even in “communist” Vietnam, which as Larry says is growing increasingly capitalist.

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Liberals condescend to blacks

Posted by George Leef at 10:47 AM

That's what Walter Williams says here.

A delightful column.

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Lessons on taxes and politics from Missouri

Posted by John Hood at 10:44 AM

Missouri Gov. Bob Holden’s loss in his Democratic primary Tuesday showed the continuing importance of fiscal issues in state-level politics. Holden tried repeatedly to pass a tax increase to balance the state’s budget but was rebuffed by an increasingly Republican state legislature. Then he withheld state funds to localities until after many of them raised their property taxes to compensate, after which he released the money. State Auditor Claire McCaskill questioned Holden’s leadership and fiscal decisions and said that she would use her experience to find wasteful and duplicative spending to cut to balance the budget without tax increases. Aided by strong turnout among conservative rural voters — who didn’t like Holden on tax or highway issues and were likely in favor of Tuesday’s successful constituational amendment banning same-sex marriage — McCaskill won the Democratic nomination despite being outspent by nearly two-to-one.

This is basically good news for fiscal conservatives, who should welcome the emergence of Democrats promising not to raise taxes (as the new Democratic governors in places such as Illinois and Tennessee did in 2002). Of course, it isn’t particularly good news for Republicans in Missouri, as it would have been easier for GOP nominee Matt Blunt to defeat Holden in November.

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Science and Facts.

Posted by Kent Lassman at 10:40 AM

Anne Applebaum has a column in today’s Washington Post on stem cell research. Her concluding sentence is an admonition (of sorts, if you look for it, at least to me) to take part in the upcoming Shaftsbury discussion.

An excerpt from the column:
“it's important to be pretty clear about what that national policy actually is, and how it got to be that way. Stem cell research is not, in fact, either illegal or unfunded: The federal budget in 2003 included $24.8 million for human embryonic stem cell research -- up from zero in 2000. Private funding of stem cell research, which is unlimited, runs into the tens and possibly hundreds of millions of dollars. The current, admittedly hairsplitting policy came about because Congress in 1995 passed a ban on federal (but not private) funding for any form of research that involved the destruction of human embryos, because it is a form of research many American voters dislike and don't want to pay for. After some important (privately funded) breakthroughs, the Clinton administration began looking for legal ways to bypass the ban, but never got around to paying for any actual research.

The Bush administration thought about it, too, and came up with a solution: Federal funding could be used for research on stem cell lines already in existence. In practice, this means scientists who get their funding from the government are restricted in which materials they can use. Although this compromise will soon become a real obstacle to research, for the moment the irritant is largely philosophical. "What hampers people is the concept that there is a lack of freedom to operate," one scientist told me.”

Russell Roberts noticed the same essay and has a post over at CafeHayek.

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By Now, Shouldn't It Be Called a Splat...

Posted by Paul Chesser at 10:33 AM

...instead of a "bounce?"

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JLF alumnus strikes again

Posted by John Hood at 10:31 AM

Former Carolina Journal managing editor Andrew Cline, now with the Manchester Union Leader, has another good piece on National Review Online today that is well worth a read.

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California Blamin'

Posted by Paul Chesser at 10:12 AM

Wal-Mart has been victimized by another ludicrous study, this time out of (surprise!) the University of California at Berkeley:

Wal-Mart's wage and benefit policies cost California taxpayers $86 million a year to provide health care and other public assistance to the retailer's underpaid workers, a new study says.

UC Berkeley's analysis is based on the premise that Wal-Mart's low pay scale forces the retailer's workers to supplement their incomes with Medicaid, food stamps and other such programs at an unusually high rate.

Strangely, the company is trying to defend itself on the "academics'" terms rather than on common sense terms:

Wal-Mart maintained that its wages are similar to those of its rivals. And it said 90 percent of its workers have health insurance, either through the company or coverage provided by the employer of a spouse or parent.

How about Wal-Mart just move out of oppressive California altogether, and see what effect all those unemployed people have on the state's taxpayers?

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Re: Hollywood Generates Good Spin

Posted by Paul Chesser at 10:00 AM

So, Troutman's "Christian values" taught her not to pass judgment? Then I guess she won't be passing any judgment on President Bush's or Robin Hayes's records.

I always laugh when people say that their Christianity prevents them from judging others. The Bible teaches that you should remove the log from your own eye, before you remove the speck from your brother's eye. It doesn't say not to remove the speck.

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Hollywood generates good spin

Posted by John Hood at 09:32 AM

New Democratic nominee Beth Troutman in North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District was recently presented with a challenge. Planned Parenthood has been selling t-shirts with the words “I had an abortion,” the goal being apparently to demystify the procedure and reduce the stigma attached to it. Lots of folks, Republicans and quite a few Democrats, have criticized Planned Parenthood for exhibiting at least a lack of taste.

Troutman, daughter of a prominent Cabarrus County Democratic politician and currently working on the production staff of “The West Wing” out in Hollywood, has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood’s political arm in her race against Republican Rep. Robin Hayes. So will she disavow the group or its t-shirts?

Here’s the clever response spin from Troutman, who says that the shirts are in poor taste but that:

“. . . I was taught Christian values growing up, and my Christian values taught me not to pass judgment, so I'm not going to pass judgment on those who choose to wear the T-shirt," Troutman said. "The T-shirts that I'm more worried about are the T-shirts that aren't being made in the 8th District right now."

She indulges protectionist demagoguery, asserts her Christian values, and seems to separate herself from Planned Parenthood’s decision without truly separating herself from Planned Parenthood. Call it an act if you want to — but that’s Hollywood.

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Bad News for "Smart Growth" Supporters

Posted by Donna Martinez at 08:55 AM

Supporters of high density developments within a city's core should take note of a story about the national real estate market in the July/August issue of American Demographics magazine. The piece "The Math of Moving" discusses the results of a new survey from AD and Synovate's eNation online polling system. The two teamed up for an Internet-only survey of 1,277 people on the subject of moving plans around the country. The story reports that 28.5 percent of respondents said they plan to move at some point -- with 13 percent planning to move in the next year. Of particular note is that almost three out of four movers surveyed said they plan to move to the suburbs, the country, or a small town. Based on this data, who will be moving into the high-density developments "smart growth" proponents say are so critical to preventing what they call "sprawl"? Doesn't look as if it will be newcomers.

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