The Locker Room

January 25, 2007

Mix P.J. O'Rourke & Adam Smith ...

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 8:06 PM

... and you're bound to find humor in one of the most famous (and lengthy) texts in economic history.

O'Rourke's On The Wealth Of Nations (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2007) contains a number of passages worth noting. Among them:

Smith began by asking two very large questions: How is wealth produced, and how is it distributed? Over the course of the 250-some pages in book 1 the answers -- "division of labor" and "mind your own business" -- are explained.


In rural New England where I live, the conservative preservationist kooks, who want every 7-Eleven replaced with a collapsing barn, join amiably with the liberal back-to-nature dopes, who think highway potholes should be protected as wetland resources. Together they have ensured that it's an hour's drive to the nearest Wal-Mart. "The prejudices of some political writers against shopkeepers and tradesmen, are all together without foundation," Smith wrote. "They can never be multiplied so as to hurt the publick, though they may so as to hurt one another." The wise enemy of Wal-Mart wants one right in town -- with a Target next door.

Or how about:

Smith disposed of the physiocrats' theory in several dull pages. He could have saved himself the effort with one well-chosen word, but [a popular word for male bovine droppings] didn't come into use as an expletive until the early twentieth century.

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Forums Reschedule

Posted by Lindalyn Kakadelis at 3:57 PM

The Department of Public Instruction’s public forums regarding the new high school core course framework are back on track. Be sure to read my previous blog on these meetings before DPI delayed them.  Plan to attend the NEWLY scheduled meetings. If DPI wants our comments – let’s give them some. 

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UFO spotted in Queen City

Posted by Paul Chesser at 2:44 PM

The Charlotte Observer reports. Readers give their accounts.

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New Nonprofit Formed

Posted by Lindalyn Kakadelis at 1:28 PM

Today’s Charlotte Observer announced the board of the newly formed Mecklenburg Citizens for Public Education. For those holding the paper version you will see my picture and discover I have agreed to serve. Before anyone thinks my philosophical beliefs regarding K-12 education have changed, or that my serving on this board will stifle my opinions, I want to set your mind at ease.

Knowing my professional and personal views might differ greatly from a majority of those serving on this board, I rejected the invitation when first approached. However, after several conversations it was agreed upon I would at least give some time to this community endeavor.

In a letter from Dr. Woodward to myself, he wrote he recognized at times the positions of this group might be in conflict with my views and those of the Alliance. When this occurs, Woodward agreed my principal responsibility would be to the Alliance’s viewpoint. My responsibility to MCPE is subordinate to my professional responsibilities as the Director of the North Carolina Education Alliance.

While serving on the School Building Solution Committee, I had no problem working on a "Minority Report.”Common sense views regarding K-12 education need to be expressed whether the majority of committee members agree or not.

The Observer article’s headline states, “Group expected to aid campaign for bond issue.” Well, the Observer’s headline might be a little premature. This group has not had its first meeting, and no one knows the details of the bond proposal. In 2005, I debated against the school bond proposal and voters rejected these bonds. Concerns continue to exist regarding the priority of spending and the system’s status quo mentality. Time will tell if this committee is successful in moving CMS forward with reform. However, you can count on me being at the table presenting the philosophical views of the Alliance.

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Sustainable Clothing

Posted by Daren Bakst at 1:24 PM

Do you like to look hip and stylish in fancy new outfits?  Do you prefer cotton over polyester?

Well, you may just be helping to destroy the planet!

As this article discusses about a recent Cambridge University report:

"The global textile industry must become eco-conscious, the report concludes. It explores how to develop a more 'sustainable clothing' industry — a seeming oxymoron in a world where fashions change every few months..."

"It is hard to imagine how customers who rush after trends, or the stores that serve them, will respond to the report’s suggestions: that people lease clothes and return them at the end of a month or a season, so the garments can be lent again to someone else — like library books — and that they buy more expensive and durable clothing that can be worn for years."

Save the planet--lease all of your clothes! 


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An Anniversary, or, The More Things Change

Posted by Hal Young at 1:11 PM

As tax season is upon us again, I thought it worth mentioning, fwiw, that while the IRS mileage reimbursement for business travel has increased to 48.5 cents, miles driven for charity remain stable, solid, and predictable at 14 cents -- the rate that went into effect January 1, 1997, when business mileage was 32.5 cents.

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Common sense in South Carolina

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 12:46 AM

It feels like I have been writing about national board certification a lot lately. Sorry.

Anyway, Governor Mark Sanford recommended that state lawmakers discontinue pay incentives for teachers who have this meaningless certification. Gov. Sanford suggested that the funds ($55 million this year) should be set aside for a merit pay program that rewards teachers who improve student performance. Go figure. Currently, board certified teachers get a $7500 a year bump in salary.

Gov. Sanford's is on the right track. Unfortunately, South Carolina's legislators (on both sides of the aisle) do not have the courage to stand up to the teachers association/union. That sounds familiar.

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Re: Facebook Police

Posted by Hal Young at 12:42 AM

Should they expect Tarleton's quarter ?

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Doom-and-Gloom's Cure

Posted by Hal Young at 12:41 AM

As the party of nay-sayers has it, our country is in decline. For them, you have to look no further than Iraq to see that the country is going in the wrong direction. And of course, the rest of the economy goes as Iraq goes (this, despite numbers to the contrary).

All this negativity is getting me down. Hearing it so often has gotten me in a funk.

But, there's a cure; a musical cure.

*Musical cure provided by Glorydive.

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Global Warming, Italy and Suicide

Posted by Chad Adams at 12:35 AM

Now, being from Italy might be bad enough, but to have the added stress of dealing with Global Warming appears to be too much.  I wish I could make this stuff up.

From the University of Cagliary, Italy.



The global increase in surface temperature (known as global warming) was found to impact on mortality through ill health, particularly among the elderly and in summer. This study sets out to explore the impact of global warming on suicide mortality, using data from Italy.



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More Facebook Police news

Posted by Jon Sanders at 12:26 AM

The student head of a collegiate NAACP chapter went snooping on Facebook for offense, and he found some. Now several students are being investigated by Tarleton University officials for being racially insensitive in the confines of their own apartment. Per the AP:

Authorities at Tarleton State University said they plan to investigate a Martin Luther King Jr. Day party that mocked black stereotypes by featuring fried chicken, malt liquor and faux gang apparel.

"I feel like there is no excuse for this type of ignorance," said Donald Ray Elder, president of the Stephenville school's chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Photographs posted on social networking Web site showed partygoers wearing Afro wigs and fake gold and silver teeth. One photo showed students "mocking how African-Americans do step shows," Elder said. In another picture, a student is dressed as Aunt Jemima and carries a gun.

"That upsets me," Elder said. "That's someone who knows nothing about Dr. King, because Dr. King was totally about nonviolence."

Wanda Mercer, the school's vice president of student life, said an investigation was planned into the Jan. 15 party.

The photos are viewable at The Smoking Gun, which explains:

Photos of the January 15 event were discovered on a page by a Tarleton State University sophomore who heads the school's NAACP chapter. A selection of party photos can be found on the following pages. When he discovered the images, Donald Ray Elder told TSG, he sent an e-mail to Tarleton student Jeremy Pelz, on whose Facebook page the photos were placed in a folder titled "MLK." In a reply e-mail, Pelz (seen in the picture at right) told Elder that he would rename the folder in which the photos were placed "so it does not bring any disrespect to Mr. King." Pelz noted that the party was started a few years earlier "because one of best friends is black or African American, whichever you deem politically correct, to be his day not to dishonor him." He added, "So I do apologize if you felt any disrespect because none was intended." School officials have launched an investigation into the party and the university's president, Dennis P. McCabe, has denounced the photos as despicable. In a subsequent post, Pelz--who has yanked the party photos from his Facebook page--stated that the party was not meant to be "racist or discriminating."

Let's assume the worst. Let's assume the party was meant to be racist and discrimination. So what? What business is it of the school or the snoop?

As I said in a previous "Facebook Police" entry, American academe continues to make Orwell seem as if he were soft-peddling that "Thought Police" stuff.

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Lottery Funds

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 12:03 AM

One of the first bills filed by the Senate was a bill to change the way the state allocates lottery funds for school construction.

Four senators from western North Carolina want to eliminate the "high tax bonus," that is, the additional lottery funds given to counties that have an effective tax rate above the state average rate. If passed, this bill would allocate lottery funds based solely on the number of students enrolled in each school system. Right now, only 65 percent of the funds for school construction are allocated in this way.

Last year, I recommended changing the formula in a similar manner. Our largest school systems have needs that warrant a greater share of lottery funds for school construction. (Of course, some large counties make out well under the current formula.) In addition, the state should not reward counties that have an above average tax rate.

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Keep clicking, you'll eventually find the end

Posted by Paul Chesser at 11:30 AM

Ugh. The News & Observer has adopted the practice of carrying its feature stories over two Web pages, rather than keeping them contained on one. Just what I need in life: More clicks.

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Union decline continues

Posted by George Leef at 11:01 AM

No wonder that Big Labor is desperate for legislation designed to grease the rails for unionization (the so-called "card check" procedure) -- the new figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that unions continue in decline:

--Overall density drop from 12.5% to 12.0%
--decline of 326,000 workers
--Private sector decline from 7.8% to 7.4%
--Public sector decline from 36.5% to 36.2%

--Union density fell in 31 states

--Only four states (NY, NJ, HI, AK) have union density over 20%

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Webb's baloney

Posted by George Leef at 10:33 AM

Alan Reynolds easily refutes Senator Webb's populist baloney about how unfair the US economy is here.

Read and enjoy.

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Lets run to the KK!

Posted by Michael Moore at 10:22 AM

We have a lot of things to be proud of in North Carolina.  This week the State Legislature is getting fired up and underway, but this Saturday a host of folks are going to be running through downtown Raleigh to get to the Krispy Kreme.  I thought a run to the Krispy Kreme was a daily thing in downtown Raleigh? 

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100 years of Montessori

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:11 AM

My son attends a Montessori charter school in Morrisville. Maria Montessori opened her first school 100 years ago this month and the learn-by-doing method still works well. I've grasped concepts better in the past year with some of the classroom objects than I had even after years of using the concepts.

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Habeas hocus pocus

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:40 AM

For those of you who enjoy legal debates, check out this Weekly Standard discussion of the writ of habeas corpus -- a matter of no small importance in the future detention of terrorists. 

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