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Archive for June 24th, 2009

When did Chris Matthews lose ALL his marbles?

There was a time when Chris Matthews’ schtick was entertaining. Like, say, 1998, latest. It really started to come unraveled for Matthews in 2004, when he was such a jerk that Zell Miller wanted to challenge him to a duel.

But lately, he is completely around the bend. If you think South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is a flaky, Chris Matthews is a Pillsbury crescent roll. From the Obama thrill up his leg, to his latest assertion that the cost of a war has the same moral imperative as a cost for health entitlements, Matthews has made himself a national joke, a bizarre caricature of a TV pundit.

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Munger on Bullying Bill: Teachers Now Required to Learn Vulcan Mind Meld

As always, North Carolina’s funniest and smartest libertarian — Duke professor Mike Munger — creates a laugh-out-loud moment when he explains the folly of the state’s new bullying bill.

Can we clone this guy? I’m sure there must be stimulus money sitting around in a bucket somewhere, marked “shovel ready science projects.” And if there’s not, then let’s just print some more money. I think my idea would save or create two jobs: the mad scientist and the printing press operator.

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Was Mark Sanford’s Argentina trip self-sabotage?

I’m not a psychiatrist, but Mark Sanford’s Father’s Day run to Argentina for an affair has all the earmarks of intentional self-sabotage. I wonder if he knew the pressure to run for president would overwhelming and he didn’t have the fire in the belly for it. Well, now he doesn’t have to worry about that, does he?

LATER: I meant to add, how else can you explain such a dumb move?

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Today on WPTF with Bill LuMaye: Consumer Driven Health Care

WPTF’s Bill LuMaye is devoting today’s show to health care reform. He’ll look at consumer-driven care vs. proposals for more government intervention.

You can hear the program from 3 to 6 p.m. at 680 AM, or online at www.wptf.com. Click on “Listen Live.”

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Orange Official: $4M Soccer Complex Will Never Break Even

Orange County’s new six-field soccer complex will officially open later this summer. The $4 million facility — funded by a bond referendum passed in 2001 — is an excellent example of superfluous spending that has helped drive the Orange property tax rate into the stratosphere.

The county has sold the naming rights to Eurosport, a Hillsborough based maker of soccer merchandise. But Lori Taft, Orange County parks and recreation director, acknowledges in this Herald-Sun story what opponents of this facility argued all along — it will never make money and, thus, will always be a cost to Orange taxpayers. (emphasis is mine)

Although there is widespread interest in the soccer complex before it opens, and though it will generate revenue from league rental fees, Taft said it is unlikely it will be self-sustaining.

It never will achieve that, we don’t think,” she said of a break-even financial picture.

For that reason, money from the sponsorships is vital to help offset operational expenses.

Much of the expense will be from care of the Bermuda grass.

“It’s a highly intense grass, it requires a lot of maintenance” such as expensive fertilizer and mowing the 20 acres the grass blankets. A larger mower already was purchased for that task.

“We hope to recover the cost of lighting with the field rental fees,” Taft said.

Orange County certainly isn’t alone in spending public funds on these types of facilities. Many other local governments have, unfortunately, fallen into the trap of draining the public coffers for golf courses, convention centers, etc. JLF’s Michael Sanera has looked into this misguided spending around the state. For example, Goldsboro has ventured into the golf business , as have Burlington and Wilson.

Is this really the appropriate role of local government? Are soccer and golf real “needs” of the community? I say no.

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Brilliant Innovation in a Down Economy

The mark of true entrepreneurial spirit is desire, brains, and the willingness to take risks when others are burying their heads in the sand. Once again, Wal-Mart leads the way by creating a win-win during a recession: customers get lower prices on a wide range of products, and Wal-Mart turns a higher profit. From the News & Observer (emphasis is mine):

Wal-Mart executives say 17 percent of its traffic growth in February was from new customers, and more than half of those live in households that take in more than $50,000 a year.

While that may not be considered affluent, it’s a big departure from Wal-Mart’s core customers, of whom one in five does not have a bank account or has limited access to financial services.

To keep prices low while offering better products, Wal-Mart is slashing its own costs in little ways. The Angus ribeye steak being sold at Sam’s Club at 25 percent below competitors’ prices is paid for in part by a switch to shorter straws at its cafe, saving $52,000 a year, says spokeswoman Susan Koehler.

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