The Locker Room

June 17, 2004

Scheherazade didn't know the half of it

Posted by John Hood at 9:59 PM

I posted something yesterday about the fictional Sinbad the Sailor, but now I read that some believe the stories were based on the adventures of the real-life Chinese navigator Zheng He, who may have visited America before Columbus.

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Never Let ’Em See You Sweat

Posted by John Hood at 3:19 PM

I’m not sure precisely how these two news headlines from the Business Journal today tie together, but at least for poetic reasons they must, somehow:

“Raleigh ranked as 40th sweatiest city in U.S.”

“Study ranks Raleigh 11th in kid-friendliness.”

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Corporate tax foolishness

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 11:20 AM

The Democrats in the Senate are proposing cuts in corporate income taxes. This proposal is a great example of how something that is a good idea in principle can be crafted in such a way that it makes no economic sense at all, and in some ways may be harmful. While this bill will save smaller corporations (actually their customers, employees and shareholders) some money it is constructed in such a way that it will have no stimulative effect on corporate investment and in some cases may act as a disincentive for corporations to grow.

If the plan is passed, in certain situations smaller corporations, the group that the cut is supposed to help, will actually find themselves facing higher not lower marginal tax rates. The proposal will exempt the first $25,000 from the 6.9% corporate tax for businesses earning up to $100,000 and the first $15,000 for businesses earning up to $200,000. Once a company earns more than $200,000 all exemptions are lost. This sets up a situation where the marginal tax rate, i.e. the tax paid on an additional dollar earned, jumps up well above the standard 6.9% when companies pass the income thresholds of $100,000 and $200,000. This is because of the lost exemptions.

Once a company earns a dollar over $100,000 it not only pays the 6.9% rate on that dollar but it also pays 6.9% on the $10,000 worth of exemptions that are lost. Similarly, once a company earns a dollar over $200,000 it will pay not only 6.9% on that dollar but also 6.9% on the $15,000 exemption that is lost. For example, what this means for a small corporation considering new investments that would take them from $100,000 to $150,000 in income is that the marginal rate on that extra $50,000 will not be 6.9%, but 8.28%. For a $200,000 company deciding to expand in order to earn an additional $50,000, that marginal rate would be nearly 9%. Because of this, for certain small companies the Democratic proposal to cut corporate taxes for small corporations may, ironically, actually discourage some of those corporations from expanding.

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Re: Facile Conclusions

Posted by Paul Chesser at 11:12 AM

Speaking of Karen Palasek's unlevel-headed and uncautious husband...his loose cannon nature is revealed about halfway down this linked article.

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The government's postal monopoly

Posted by George Leef at 11:12 AM

Few people pay much attention to the US Postal Service, except when they're standing in line waiting for some, uh, service. Most politicians don't want to say anything critical, for fear of riling up union opposition. The inescapable truth is that USPS is monstrously inefficient and ought to be sold off to private enterprise. In this article you can read about a small but revealing bit of waste--USPS's sponsorship of cycling.

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Spot the bad news — Protestants make great fathers; women, children hardest hit

Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:50 AM

Ever since I read that appalling story highlighting the coming burden on China's health-care system now that people aren't starving to death anymore, I've grown attuned to news stories reporting on good news in such a way as to appear desperate to find some little nugget of bad news to highlight. Optimists can find the silver lining in the dark clouds; their opposites work in the media and academe.

Here's the latest. USA Today reports on research that shows "Religious men, especially evangelical Protestants, are more involved and attentive husbands and fathers than men who are not religious."

University of Virginia sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox found that

"evangelical Protestant men are more likely to expect their school-age children to tell them where they are at all times and more likely to hug and be affectionate toward their kids than religiously unaffiliated men. They also spend more time in youth activities with their kids."

Great news, right? Well ... nah, it can't be. So USA Today finds some doofus at the University of California-Riverside to carp that "because some evangelical Protestant churches promote strict patriarchal values, they might do more harm than good to family structures" (emphasis added).

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Western NC’s secession from the secession

Posted by John Hood at 10:20 AM

Those interested in the Civil War history of North Carolina ought to be reading a series of columns in the Hendersonville Times-News by freelance writer Stephen Black. Here are the first three of the installments, with two more to come.

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Skip to my lou

Posted by John Hood at 10:11 AM

Who’s that Triangle-area state legislator pictured so prominently on the front page of the Richmond County Daily Journal down in Rockingham? He looks like he’s actually studying something before voting on it, so that narrows it down a bit.

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My Usual Song and Dance

Posted by John Hood at 09:32 AM

A couple of stray comments I’ve made over the past few days prompted several questions from JLFers and others about a musical production I’m involved in next week, so rather than answer them all individually, here’s the skinny:

Some close friends and I created a program back in 1991 called the Teen Arts Program, or TAP. It was first housed at Raleigh’s Theater in the Park for several years, then at Meredith College, and is now part of the summer offerings at Cary Academy. TAP holds auditions for teenagers from across the Triangle area during the spring, and then convenes a roughly two-week camp in the summer during which the students receive vocal, dance, and acting instruction and learn an entire, original musical they then perform for the public. The program is obviously intensive and demanding. But its unique twist — we never do stock shows, only original musicals — and the talented staff of artists that run it have made it one of the most popular theater programs for teenagers in the region.

My role has usually been limited to writing songs and lyrics for the shows, though in one case (of insanity) I wrote the entire show. I don’t know why they won’t let me do more, given my huge amount of free time, but whacha gonna do?

This year’s production is Jackpot, and is particularly neat because it was written by one of the students, a longtime participant in TAP who is now a freshman at UNC-Greensboro. The story involves a family who lives in a trailer park and then wins a sweepstakes. Amusing complications ensue, naturally. And there’s a romantic subplot, naturally. Rumors of something called a “Casserole Hoedown” and a country/funk fushion number are as yet unconfirmed.

And, no, this isn’t an endorsement of a state-run lottery. The sweepstakes is entirely private and voluntary. And I’m not at all defensive about that.

The performances will be held on Friday and Saturday, June 25 and 26, at Cary Academy’s beautiful Fine Arts Center at 1500 North Harrison Drive. Click here for more details.

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On not jumping to facile conclusions

Posted by John Hood at 09:21 AM

An uncommonly good and balanced article in The Charlotte Observer Thursday discusses an apparently level trend in private-school enrollment in North Carolina‘s most populous county. While potential explanations are offered, including a statistical error, there is no clear “spin” put on the numbers.

Maybe that’s because one of the sources tapped for the story was our own Karen Palasek, who properly counseled folks not to jump to conclusions about a short trend in a sector where students are moving in and out of various schools for various reasons.

Now, if only Karen’s level-headed and cautious nature would rub off on her husband. . .

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Too many college students

Posted by George Leef at 09:15 AM

Don't you just love it when other people write things that support your own conclusions? For a long time -- since day 1 of my college teaching career in 1980 -- I have thought that higher education in America has been terribly oversold. Too many kids go to college who are not interested in or prepared for serious intellectual work. They spend several years on campus, wasting a lot of their parents' and taxpayers' money and winding up (maybe) with a piece of paper that only signifies the completion of a certain number of credits.

On the JWR site today, Dr. Marty Nemko says that, yes, we do have too many college students. You can read what he has to say here.

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