The Locker Room

May 31, 2005

Spooks R Us

Posted by Jeff A. Taylor at 8:40 PM

The NYT piece on CIA air ops out of Smithfield -- reprinted the world over, BTW -- reminded me just how dense NC is with fun little outposts.

For example, out Edenton way you'll find -- or more likely not -- the Harvey Point Defense Testing Facility. The CIA and DoD and everyone else has been blowing stuff up there for decades. The site is complete with a nice boat slip and an airfield, along with assorted bunkers and ranges. The site was expanded by 240 acres in 2002 to help cope with its booming business.

Ha, booming.

Up the road Moyock way, straddling the Virginia border, you'll find another dark gray, if not black site, a Naval Security Group listening post that seems to be transitioning to a military prison.

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Whew! No wonder UNC's "Edwards Center" will solve poverty by 2008!

Posted by Jon Sanders at 3:52 PM

I just went to UNC Law's Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity's web site and all I can say is, Whew! Just try to keep up with this busy staff and its hectic schedule! A few highlights:

"Poverty Center Staff": "John Edwards" (but "New Center Staff Members Will Be Posted Shortly")

"News and Upcoming Events": "The [sic] are no events posted at this time."

"Recent Events": "Edwards Receives Warm Welcome" (headline)

Never let them see you sweat.

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Re: Social Security reform

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 3:42 PM


The answer to your questions is "yes."

Trying to get all the way to strictly voluntary accounts in one step is far too much too expect and this is a preliminary step in that direction. As I've posted before in a slightly different context (courtesy of our search tool), converting some of the tax to personal accounts is also a way to make the necessary benefit cuts in traditional Social Security more palatable.

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Social Security reform questions for "classic liberals"

Posted by Jon Sanders at 1:59 PM

Zogby's poll on Social Security reform via personal investment accounts finds voters supportive of reform "when you use a positive approach on Social Security reform." I find the approach as I understand it (which I admit could be wrong now) attractive — rather than contribute to the current Ponzi scheme, an individual would have a choice of private account managers. I also like it for the total subversion of the socialist program it would represent: essentially, counter to Marx's animating assumption, all workers would be owners of capital.

Nevertheless, one thing still bothers me: it will still be a government mandate that workers set aside a portion of their earnings now for the future, will it not? Social Security reform will entail new choices, but not the choice of those who, for whatever reason, would choose to receive more of their earnings up front. The failing government system would be removed, yes, but still the nanny-state government making a decision for you (you will save for the future; it's for your own good!) would persist.

Would this be a case of the best being the enemy of the good, since it would perhaps be impossible to get people to think beyond the box of a governmental, "social security" mandate? Or would this represent incremental progress toward financial liberty, just as we have witnessed many incremental transgressions against it?

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The Positive Case

Posted by Hal Young at 1:06 PM links to an excellent article by Lawrence Reed on making the positive case for limiting government:

Someone once said that those of us in the business of free-market think tanks do a better job of describing Hell than we do Heaven.

As people who want to “limit” government, we are often perceived as naysayers. Thus, we must continually remind others that we are opposed to excessive government because we are in favor of some very positive, important things.

The prescription is almost worth committing to memory.

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Speaking of visionary ...

Posted by Jon Sanders at 12:59 AM

Those who expect gas prices to continue fluctuating and who like big vehicles ought to wait for gas mania to establish itself fully, then go into the used market for one of those big, comfy, beautiful "gas guzzlers" — you're likely to find excellent prices.

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Re: Rush, Rush, Eat, Eat

Posted by Hal Young at 12:48 AM

Sorry, I don't buy it. When I was in middle school, we had the same problem -- lunch one year was served at 10:20 a.m. On the other hand, when I got to high school, I just skipped lunch entirely and ate when I got home, after 3:00. Guess when I was more likely to overeat.

Without debating the merits of the timing problem and all, I immediately notice the presence of vending machines -- we didn't have 'em. So what did we poor first-lunch kids eat? Exactly what the cafeteria served, or else exactly what Mom sent from home.

Where are the grown-ups in this picture? The parents, or those in loco parentis?

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Danger, Danger: Special Hubcaps are Out to Get Us

Posted by Donna Martinez at 11:11 AM

Legislators in at least three states want to ban "spinners," the special hubcaps that look like they're still turning when the car is stopped. Why? According to this May 26 Wall Street Journal story, some lawmakers believe "that spinning accessories could deceive other drivers, say at stoplights or stop signs, leading them to misjudge the speed of spinner-adorned vehicles and react in ways that could cause accidents, such as slamming on the brakes."

I say we ban speedometers, too. It's too scary to see how fast I'm going. It's distracting and could make me react in ways that could cause accidents, such as slamming on my brakes.

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Chad Adams a Visionary?

Posted by Donna Martinez at 10:40 AM

For months now we've been bombarded by doomsday stories about the high price of gasoline that's supposedly destined to send us to the poor house. Meantime, our own Chad Adams has been driving his cute little hybrid (the Blue Bird as I call it) and laughing at the rest of us as he enjoys 50+ miles per gallon. Now I'm no fan of paying more, rather than less, to fill up my Tahoe, which I love, but those who've been crying about gas have refused to recognize that consumers will adjust behavior -- as Chad has -- and the market for gasoline and cars will, once again, react to those forces. A Bloomberg News story published May 27 provides evidence that the Chads of the world are having an impact.

"Nissan will build gasoline-electric Altima sedans at a U.S. plant starting in 2006. Japan's second-largest automaker plans to build the hybrid version of the Altima at either Smyrna, Tenn., or Canton, Miss. Toyota said last week it will build hybrid Camry sedans in Kentucky."

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Just learned of a new "studies" department

Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:27 AM

Back when UNC-Chapel Hill Women's Studies professor Karen M. Booth was countering my Christmas Carol column in favor of a Western Civ program with the notion that UNC needs a "disability studies" program to "make our education more accessible" to the likes of Tiny Tim, I thought she was proving Cordato's Law once again. She was, but to a greater extent than I first thought — it turns out that not only was she thinking of a more absurd discipline than I would have conceived, but also that UNC is behind the curve on it, as several other institutions of "accessible" ed had already created programs on "disability studies." Like all other "studies" departments, of course, this one merely studies the "intersection" of race, gender, sexuality, etc. in the context of [disability].

Today I learned that UNC needs to catch up with its "peers" on another useless "studies" area: "Working-Class Studies." (I was invited to join a listserv from Youngstown State University.) What is Working-Class Studies? Well, according to Youngstown's Center for Working-Class Studies (which is the top link on the Google search), the "discipline" is about "working-class life and culture and its intersections with race, gender, and sexuality ..."

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Obesity considerations

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:42 AM

Paul Campos, in an interview with Tech Central Station, gives a few points to ponder on the obesity obsession.

1. Weight gain tracks well with the decline in smoking.

2. There were no stats on Type 2 Diabetes among children until recently, so we can't compare how much worse the problem is.

3. The median weight gain is just eight pounds.

Of course, he gets the definitions of overweight for children wrong, but it gives more reason to pause.

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Re: Shhhh...

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:33 AM

If it put CIA agents at risk for Valerie Plame's name to become public, even though her front company only became known because she donated money to Al Gore in 2000, how many more people are at risk by the NYT's story about Aero Contracting? Of course, now that reporters face jail, they acknowledge there was no crime related to Plame, but this story really begs the question why there was such a furor in the first place. 

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Rush, Rush, Eat, Eat

Posted by Paul Chesser at 09:14 AM

Overcrowded schools lead to childhood obesity.

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Posted by Paul Chesser at 08:56 AM

...secret CIA operations are going on (NYTimes registration required) at Johnston County airport.

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The resemblence is entirely intentional

Posted by John Hood at 07:59 AM

It looks increasingly like Germany will have a new head of state after elections this fall: a female leader of the nation’s conservative coalition of the Christian Democrats and its sister party in Bavaria. Angela Merkel is a physician from the former East Germany who wants to cut taxes, deregulate the labor market, and oppose European centralism. A hawk, she also supported the Iraq war.

Sound a little like a certain former British prime minister? Yep:

Mrs. Merkel, who has frequently been compared to Margaret Thatcher, lacks the charisma of the former British prime minister, but her reform agenda is more radical than the measures undertaken by Mr. Schroeder over the past two years.

"Labor needs growth and growth needs freedom," Mrs. Merkel said. "If we understand freedom and competition are the levers of people's chances in life, we'll end up creating more solidarity and justice."

I am just wondering if there are any emigres from formerly communist countries here in North Carolina who have the political urge.

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