The Locker Room

October 24, 2006

WRAL/N&O Poll Finds Little Support for Bonds

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 11:14 PM

The poll of 600 likely voters found that 54 percent oppose the $970 million school construction bond and 35 percent support it. A majority opposed tax increases, impact fees, transfer taxes, and a half cent sales tax.

Ann Goodnight, co-chair of Friends of Wake County (FOW) said, “It's frustrating to me that people don't get it. ... We're supposed to be the third most educated city. It shouldn't be an emotional issue." Nice. I guess those of us who do not support the bond are just stupid and emotional.

Just for good measure, WRAL reporters toured Lacy Elementary School with the Citizen's Facilities Advisory Committee this evening. This was nothing more than a cheap stunt. WRAL attempted to portray the CFAC as a bond oversight committee, a strategy employed by FOW for months now.

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Hard to find a good commission

Posted by Paul Chesser at 9:02 PM

Members of the North Carolina Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform today announced in four cities their latest advocacy effort: to create an independent bipartisan redistricting commission. Several states have such a commission, but as I wrote 2 1/2 years ago, such panels are rarely the silver bullet that prevent redistricting lawsuits and remove partisanship -- with the possible exception of Iowa.

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Obama's "compelling life story"

Posted by Jon Ham at 8:01 PM

That's what Mara Liasson of Brit Hume's panel on Fox said last night. Big Lizard, however, recounts the compelling story in hilarious fashion. For example: 

Obama was born in war-ravaged Honolulu in 1961 (what did I tell you?) His father was a Harvard economist, while his mother was an anthropologist from Kansas; yet despite this deprivation, Obama has gone on to be one of the most celebrated men of recent history.

There's much more.

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More Halloween in Eco Looney Land

Posted by Jon Sanders at 7:17 PM

Boo! "Humans living far beyond planet's means: WWF"


Humans are stripping nature at an unprecedented rate and will need two planets' worth of natural resources every year by 2050 on current trends, the WWF conservation group said on Tuesday.

"For more than 20 years we have exceeded the earth's ability to support a consumptive lifestyle that is unsustainable and we cannot afford to continue down this path," WWF Director-General James Leape said, launching the WWF's 2006 Living Planet Report.

"If everyone around the world lived as those in America, we would need five planets to support us," Leape, an American, said in Beijing.

I have one question: why is the WWF talking all this neo-Malthusian nonsense instead of just whacking Bush?

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More "Well DUH" research

Posted by Jon Sanders at 6:58 PM

In the grand tradition of federal grants paying to "discover" things that most people take for granted comes this:

A study released Tuesday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists found 54 percent of men and 19 percent of women admit they think about sex every day -- or several times a day -- in a society where they are bombarded with subconscious erotic images. ... Researchers also found sexual orientation often determines how the brain reacts to erotic images. Heterosexual women, for example, were more tuned in to pictures of naked men, the same reaction exhibited by homosexual men.

No doubt they used some poor, put-upon TA's to help them select the nudie pics. "No, no, not good enough, got get me some more ..."

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Re: WNC Update

Posted by Michael Moore at 5:10 PM

Jon,

It's been a while since a First Lady has been to that part of the State, I think a proper expression for that area is:

"Yee-Haw!"

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Re: WNC update

Posted by Jon Sanders at 5:04 PM

Well, whoop-ee-doo.

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Laura Bush coming to WNC.

Posted by Michael Moore at 5:01 PM

The Asheville Citizen-Times has just reported that Laura Bush will be making a stop in the Asheville area next week.  She is going to be stumping for Charles Taylor and making a few stops, and some say she  will be making a stop at the Western North Carolina Ag Center, Home of the North Carolina Mountain State Fair!  Well, as John Hood said just LOOK WEST!

   

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Marquette responds: "Oh, Dave Barry. Our bad."

Posted by Jon Sanders at 4:23 PM

To update my post from last week, FIRE is still not making this up:

Marquette President Robert Wild ... writes, "the original difficulty arose out of a misunderstanding ... [W]hen the quotation cited was posted, it was without attribution; therefore, someone reading the quotation may not have understood the humor/satire of Dave Barry."

Oh, um, ha ha ha ha now I get it.

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Animal/Human Rights

Posted by Jon Sanders at 4:14 PM

Roy,

In an essay "Gaps in the Mind," Richard Dawkins, noted evolutionist and the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University (whatever that is), has an interesting theory about evolution and human/animal rights.

Basically, Dawkins asserts that we shouldn't divide animals up into discontinuous species. Since we're all related, it's hard for us to accurately delineate the moral worth of a human and an animal that isn't too distant from us. Just because we can't accurately trace the link, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

Conclusion:


I have argued that the discontinuous gap between humans and 'apes' that we errect in our minds is regrettable. I have also argued that, in any case, the present position of the hallowed gap is arbitrary, the result of evolutionary accident. If the contingencies of survival and extinction had been different, the gap would be in a different place. Ethical prinicples that are based upon accidental caprice should not be respected as if cast in stone.

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There is hope for college students

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 3:35 PM

My daughter just emailed me information from a Face Book group called "Proud Carnivores Against PETA Fascism." Unfortunately Face Book sites are pass word protected, so I'll highlight some of the juicey parts. The group discription states that "PETA and its terrorist "animal rights" allies are all jokes, maniacally bent on depriving YOU of something we've all taken for granted: our fundamental right to control our own diets and to choose which kind of food we want to eat, including animals. Now, I wonder who else deprived people of basic rights? Oh, that's right: HITLER." The site then goes on to list dozens of quotes from pro animal rights/anti human rights advocates. Here are a few:

"We feel that animals have the same rights as retarded children."
-Alex Pacheco, Director, PETA, New York Times, January 14, 1989.

Regan when asked which he would save, a dog or a baby, if a boat capsized in the ocean: "If it were a retarded baby and a bright dog, I'd save the dog."-Tom Regan, Q&A session following a speech, University of Wisconsin-MadisonOctober 27, 1989.

 "To those people who say, My father is alive because of animal experimentation,' I say Yeah, well, good for you. This dog died so your father could live.' Sorry, but I am just not behind that kind of trade off."

- Bill Maher, PETA celebrity spokesman

"An animal experiment cannot be justifiable unless the experiment is so important that the use of a brain-damaged human would be justifiable."-Peter Singer, Animal Liberation: A New Ethic for Our Treatment of
Animals, 2nd. edition, 1990.

 "Six million Jews died in concentration camps, but six billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughter houses."
-Ingrid Newkirk, President, PETA, The Washington Post, November 13, 1983. 

"It is time we demand an end to the misguided and abusive concept of animal ownership. The first step on this long, but just, road would be ending the concept of pet ownership."-Elliot Katz, President, In Defense of Animals, "In Defense of Animals," Spring 1997

"Arson, property destruction, burglary and theft are 'acceptable crimes' when used for the animal cause."
-Alex Pacheco, Director, PETA
 


 

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Why I'm still skeptical about UNC's "Edwards Center"

Posted by Jon Sanders at 3:07 PM

The Daily Tar Heel pegged me, and on this Right Angles post I go into more detail.

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Separated at birth and and at maturity

Posted by Paul Chesser at 2:35 PM

Bideford, England and Manteo, N.C.

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Speak, don't bash

Posted by Paul Chesser at 2:16 PM

A Currituck County commissioner criticized a Corolla resident for airing his complaints about a proposed Outer Banks trolley during a public comment session, The Daily Advance reports:

Corolla resident Herb Robbins is used to getting a frosty reception from the Currituck Board of Commissioners.

But even the outspoken critic of the commissioners seemed stunned when a board member berated him at last week's commissioners meeting, accusing him of using the session "to bad-mouth the commissioners."

Commissioner Eldon Miller Jr. chastised Robbins for using the Board of Commissioners' public comment session to air his grievances....

Robbins tried to pose those questions at the commissioners meeting, but Miller accused him of using the comment session to make the board look bad.

"It seems to me that you guys are taking this (comment session) to use as a bashing tool for the Currituck County commissioners," Miller said.

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Welcome to the right-wing

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 2:10 PM

Scott Mooneyham yesterday wrote:

[C]onservative wags everywhere are yapping about a budget deficit, a budget shortfall.

You'd hardly know there is none.

There is, however, a budget surplus, just as there was a budget surplus during the previous fiscal year.

Despite the hype from the right, state government in North Carolina is currently well in the black.

I'd like to welcome Chris Fitzsimon and Elaine Mejia to the right. I look forward to their calls for spending restraint and tax relief to help low-income North Carolinians.

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Buying Achievement

Posted by Lindalyn Kakadelis at 1:30 PM

My parents awarded me for studying hard and making "A"s. Is it bad for a business leader to give cold cash  for good grades?
I have no problem if that is what someone wants to do with their money, I believe in freedom! However, mark my word, someone will decide to make this a new government incentive. Expecially since data reveal students are achieving more.
I can see it now! A new line item in the Department of Public Instruction's budget for "Student Incentives."  We can start in the lowest performing schools, then tax our way to all the schools. 

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Be careful where you send this candidate

Posted by Jon Ham at 1:30 PM

The handlers of Democrat Steve Kagen in Wisconsin better hope their tin-ear congressional candidate never has to visit Harlem. No telling what he might say.

(link via Michelle)

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Did they lie then or are they lying now?

Posted by Jon Ham at 1:13 PM

Newsweek's Jerry Adler tries to explain why all that hysteria in the '70s about "global cooling" was not inaccurate: 

How did NEWSWEEK—or for that matter, Time magazine, which also ran a story on the subject in the mid-1970s—get things so wrong? In fact, the story wasn't "wrong" in the journalistic sense of "inaccurate." Some scientists indeed thought the Earth might be cooling in the 1970s, and some laymen—even one as sophisticated and well-educated as Isaac Asimov—saw potentially dire implications for climate and food production.

And this from the same people who can't understand that President Bush was not lying when he quoted intelligence reports that said assertively that there were WMD in Iraq.  

(link via Sister Toldjah

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Howard Dean and gladiators?

Posted by Jon Ham at 12:33 AM

He doesn't like "gladitorial, er, gladiatorial conference, er, combat." What is it about that word that makes him stumble and stammer?

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Questions Concerning Wilmington's Proposed Convention Center

Posted by Jon Ham at 12:32 AM

The Wilmington Star-News has been covering the City of Wilmington's proposed convention center. The project has been plagued with uncertainty. This uncertainty has lead officials to make some questionable decisions for the sake of the center. First, there was the new taxing district that had to be passed by the state to allow for the funneling of a higher-than-usual room/occupancy tax to cover the convention center's build expenses. Then there were questions, eventually answered legally, about the agreement between the developer and the city. In the wake of this agreement, more concerns have arisen, this time over a development fee that was claimed by opponents of the project to have been added as a subsidy for the project. Despite this concern, the city council passed the new resolution.

Even though the Star-News has done a good job following this, they've failed to identify a few key questions about the agreement. Some of which are quite easy to find. From the most-recent development agreement – not the one just voted on, but this one (.pdf) – the city council lists the exorbitant cost of the convention center to be "up to $50 million." The council goes on to explain in this document why this estimate is above the initial $32-35 million dollar figure. But according to newspaper accounts, the proposed convention center cost is at $52 million. The difference here (more-or-less) can be made up with the addition, and contended, $2.2 million in developer's fees.

Also included in the new agreement between the city and the developers, is the option to buy a portion of the land designated for the parking deck for condominium development. According to the document:

A declaration of condominium (the Parking Declaration) will be recorded by the City converting the Parking Garage Site into two condominium units; . . . one Residential Unit to accommodate the final design of a residential condominium project to be designed at the sole expense of the Developer.
Further,
After subdivision of the Land and creation of the condominium units . . . the City shall obtain an appraisal of the present value of the Hotel Unit and the Option [Residential Unit purchase]. (pg. 15,16 of the City Council's agenda, item 15)
Even though the Developer must incur costs for the development of the condo project, keeping the Garage Project in line with cost projects won't hinder it's ability to purchase the land later. How much do you want to bet that the expected appraised value of that land equals $2.2 million?

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I love Alabama politics

Posted by Jon Ham at 12:19 AM

Only in The Heart of Dixie would someone run using a poster like this:

According to the AP story, Libertarian candidate Loretta Nall says:

"It started out as a joke, but it blew up into something huge," said Nall, a 32-year-old with dyed blond hair.

Her campaign is offering T-shirts and marijuana stash boxes adorned with a photo of her with a plunging neckline and the words: "More of these boobs." Below that are pictures of other candidates for governor - including Republican incumbent Bob Riley and Democratic Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley - and the words: "And less of these boobs."

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Re: Declining enrollment

Posted by Hal Young at 12:13 AM

As an indicator of whether schools are delivering on their promised educational services, market share may be an indicator, as Lyndalyn says. Where parents have opted for public schools over other alternatives, there is evidence that some expectation is being met -- though it may be price or convenience rather than quality or service.

The fundamental problem in these analyses is the assumption, deep down, that the children belong to the public school systems. Why else would we speak of children being "lost" when they go somewhere else? Is the tax-funded school system entitled to a certain population of students?

If we saw the public schools as a government service for those who did not have access to private alternatives, we'd see the whole thing very differently. We wouldn't fret that usage of the government service is declining -- we'd rejoice that more and more families are finding ways to take care of their own needs. I simply can't believe that a society with the resources to build public facilities to educate 85% of the children can't find the wherewithal to do the same in the private sector, given the taxes were returned to the families and businesses now funding the schools.

And I have yet to see a government service do a better job than private providers except in those things which are inherent functions of the state -- to establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, and provide for the common defense. (Promoting the general welfare, to me, means basically the government mostly just stays out of the way -- and nowhere is this more true than in education!)

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Define Music and Dance?

Posted by Michael Moore at 11:47 AM

The John Locke Holiday Gala is coming up and it states Music and Dance, I wonder if it's like Flatt and Scruggs and the Beverly Hillbillies?  

Goodness Gracious, it's Good!

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Enrollment Declining

Posted by Lindalyn Kakadelis at 11:31 AM

Today’s column from www.Governing.com written by business consultant Otis White, elaborates on why public school enrollments are plummeting in cites along the “left” coast.  California’s government schools lost 10,000 students this year. Seattle city schools lost 400 students.
White tributes some decrease of enrollment to major demographic shifts, but also acknowledges the fear and prejudice of families seeking private school options. He recommends the government educational system address these issues by giving families better quality, and provide more choices. He suggests the government system learn a lesson regarding the importance of “market share.” Urban systems should be measured not whether enrollments are growing, but the share of school-age children attending. 
Someone might want to look at the growth of Mecklenburg, Guilford, and Wake counties in our state.  While enrollments are increasing, the market share continues to decline. Enrollment for home schools, charter schools and private schools continues to boom. These families are NOT affluent, nor are they “prejudice.” They simply want the best education possible for their children. Read about this family in Smithfield, N.C.  Those who say they care about ALL children ought to care enough to support school choice.
White concludes by stating, “If the market share is increasing, we can be reasonably sure that the schools are doing something right.” I agree with him, but without school boards looking at a profit/lost statement there is NO incentive to be bothered about “market share.”  When money follows a child instead of a system, government schools will reform themselves, or go out of business.  I expect they will reform!
Remember, when schools compete, kids win!

 

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Tax exempt status for college sports may be challenged

Posted by Shannon Blosser at 11:16 AM

George Will writes an excellent column today where he examines an effort by Rep. Bill Thomas to challenge the tax exempt status of college athletics. Thomas, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, has sent a letter to the NCAA where he asks several questions including how athletics enhances the educational purposes of each institution.

I'd be interested in seeing the NCAA's responses. My guess is that when you look at the entire picture of college athletics, including the current contract CBS has with the NCAA to televise the men's basketball tournament, it could be time to take a serious look at the tax exempt status.

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US Department of Education blows some more money

Posted by George Leef at 11:02 AM

It's only $65,000 (for now), a tiny drop in the barrel, but still it's money the federal government has no business ladling out. I'm talking about a federal grant for a wine program at Appalachian State University. Story here.

Just because some wine is produced in western North Carolina, why is it necessary that a state university nearby must have a wine program? Apparently, NC wine producers have somehow managed to find the knowledgeable people it needs up until now by hiring them or simply training them. The notion that universities need to train people in the making of wine feeds the credential inflation beast.

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Who's being racist here?

Posted by Jon Ham at 10:27 AM

Ali Bubba deconstructs the hilarious Republican National Committee ad against Senate hopeful Harold Ford Jr. in Tennessee. Watch the video and see if you can find any racism. After watching, be sure to read in his post how Democrats and liberals are making the claim that the ad is racist. Then ask yourself, just who's being the racist here?

(h/t MK)

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The next stage of capitalism

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:07 AM

Robert J. Samuelson offers some interesting thoughts on the topic in the latest Newsweek. 

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The union scam

Posted by George Leef at 09:56 AM

Labor unions are businesses and the people who run them desire to maximize the inflow of dues. Often, they are not much concerned about the ethics of the tactics they employ to do that. Consider this letter in today's Wall Street Journal:

Wal-Mart Union Posse Is Chasing Us, Too
In regard to your Oct. 18 editorial "The Wal-Mart Posse": Wackenhut Services Inc. has been battling a similar campaign to the one Wal-Mart is facing. You hit upon the real purpose for both of these "corporate campaigns" -- money.Wackenhut is already 85% represented by unions. In fact, we have agreements with 10 different unions and have good relationships with all of them. We also pay between 85% and 90% of our employees' health-care costs. Our pay and benefits are among the best, if not the best, in the security industry.

Nevertheless, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has targeted Wackenhut with a smear campaign designed to get us to give in to their demands or have our reputation systematically ruined. This is the same choice SEIU and other unions have given to Wal-Mart. It has attacked both Wal-Mart and Wackenhut using false information. Both have also been attacked by outside groups funded by SEIU. And both have been battered by people seeking political office who do the union's dirty work in hope of gaining political support.

The assaults are thinly masked behind what your editorial called "rhapsody-for-the-common-man" slogans. In Wal-Mart's case it is the union claiming to help "working families." In Wackenhut's case, the union claims they are concerned about national security.

The campaign against Wal-Mart is not about working families -- it's about union membership and the millions of dollars that come with increasing that membership. In the same way, the campaign against Wackenhut isn't about national security -- it's about breaking down obstacles that stand in the way of SEIU gaining thousands of new members and millions in new dues by organizing security officers.

James L. Long III
Vice Chairman and CEO
Wackenhut Services Inc.
Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


There are a lot of politicians who will gladly fly air cover for Big Labor in return for hefty donations of union cash for their campaigns. American politics is rife with nasty little operations like this that rip people off to benefit well-connected interest groups.

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The vote fraud problem

Posted by George Leef at 09:41 AM

Today's Wall Street Journal has a good editorial on the great difficulty in clamping down on vote fraud. Read it here.

We have seen evidence of fraudulent registrations here in Raleigh, but the problem is nation-wide. Some people are serious about protecting the integrity of elections and others want to make excuses for doing nothing.

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Sam Taylor Speaks Truth

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:32 AM

Previous attempts to raid -- sorry, re-route -- escheat funds have failed, but new efforts keep springing up. The TBJ article John Hood wrote about this morning has one line that sums up every move to tap government funds. We all owe Sam Taylor, president of the North Carolina Entrepreneurial Association, a debt of gratitude for being honest about the reason for the popularity of escheat fund raiding parties like the current Capital Access Workgroup, controlled by State Treasurer Richard Moore:

He sure has a lot of money over there.

Willie Sutton would be proud.
 

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At Least Wake County is Not L.A.

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 09:15 AM

This Los Angeles Times article highlights L.A. Unified School District's school construction woes.

Like all public school districts, L.A. Unified complains of a funding shortfall for school construction, but the issue goes beyond funding. Bids for new schools are coming in at $500 to $625 per square foot. That is more than twice the average square foot cost of new school construction anywhere else in the United States.

Clearly, it is time for the school district to implement serious alternatives to conventional construction and student assignment arrangements. To complicate matters, enrollment is declining. Thus, voters may be reluctant to approve additional funding if they perceive that demand for school facilities is decreasing.

What can the Wake County Public Schools learn from this? Not much. Instead, they should read my new policy report on school construction in Wake County.

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Tax cuts and the size of government

Posted by George Leef at 08:58 AM

Representative Ron Paul, one of the Republicans who has never danced with the K Street Gang, tried to earmark money for pet projects in his district, or voted to expand the federal government into areas that the Constitution places off limits, writes here about the need to cut taxes and to reduce government expenditures.

What the people who are always complaining about tax cuts don't understand (or choose for personal reasons to ignore) is that the more the government spends, the less is left for individuals. Big government diverts resources away from the choices of taxpayers to spend, save, and invest and puts them in the hands of politicians. If we have learned anything about Washington, it's that political decision-making is putrid with corruption, special interest dealing and waste.

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George's Golden Oldie

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 08:47 AM

George Leef's 1978 Freeman article on zoning made FEE's "In Brief" today. Read it here.

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"House flipping" and the need for political issues

Posted by George Leef at 08:20 AM

Wofford College economics professor Tim Terrell writes here about "house flipping," which amounts to buying low and selling high in the real estate market. Naturally, some interventionist politicians are trying to make an issue out of the supposed unfairness of earning quick profits in real estate deals.

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