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Archive for December, 2010

An Incredible Story About Doing the Right Thing

Every day we read and hear — and blog — about people and bureaucracies that do the wrong thing. But today comes this story about a young man who saw a need and didn’t wait around for someone else to do the right thing. He simply did it himself. Break out the tissues for this one. I guarantee you will cry tears of sadness and joy.

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Big, Bad Mega-Businesses At It Again

John Calfee of the American Enterprise Institute has a great reminder about the value of international business and the unintended consequences that come when profit-seeking firms do business. He illustrates both in his analysis of a story about Pakistani women who are working in low-level jobs at places like McDonald’s. The jobs, which they take at great personal risk in some cases due to societal mores about women, provide much needed income, skills, opportunity, and freedom for these women. He concludes with this:

It remains to be seen how well things will go for the young Pakistani women venturing to work for McDonald’s and Makro in Karachi. But much good may come of it. If so, that good is unlikely to be the result of government programs, mandates, or benchmarks (whether Pakistani or American), or the result of work by international agencies or non-government organizations. We probably cannot even give much credit to anyone’s “bully pulpit” or to corporate “social responsibility,” to use the standard term for do-goodism by profit-seeking firms. The truth is simpler. These crucial improvements for women seem to be a routine byproduct of the search for new profits by international firms. Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” is once again providing unintended benefits from business enterprises, benefits that may well eclipse the intended benefits from just about everything else.

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UNC Takes On Grade Inflation

A parent of a college-aged kid recently told me her son was making nearly straight A’s in his freshman year and that she was surprised college-level work seemed no tougher for him than high school work. For her, the jump to college work had been tough.

I thought of this situation when I read this WCHL story about UNC taking on the problem of grade inflation. I’m glad to see it. Grade inflation stymies the maturation process. We do young men and women no favors by failing to challenge them academically and continually feed their egos. I’m concerned that we’re not teaching them to deal with adversity and — dare I say it, failure. Life is filled with ups and downs and unless we prepare them for the tough times and self doubt that will, at times, come their way, we haven’t done our job.

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Suspended For Having Dad’s Lunch Box With Knife to Cut Apple

More evidence that common sense among bureaucrats is increasingly in short supply. This time the story comes from Big Education in Lee County, where, according to this story, a high school student has been suspended for the rest of her senior year after school officials found a paring knife in her lunch box. Ashley Smithwick says she and her dad’s boxes look alike and she accidently took his to school. He says he carried the paring knife to cut his apple into pieces.

Lee County Superintendent Jeff Moss told the Sanford Herald that he couldn’t discuss the specifics of Ashley’s case, but that under school policy principals can determine discipline on a case by case basis and that discipline is usually less severe if a student who accidentally carries a weapon to school reports it rather than having a teacher find it.

“When the principals conduct their investigations, what typically is fleshed out is the true intent,” he told the paper. “Bottom line is: We want to ensure every child feels safe on our campus.”

Even more silly than Ashley’s suspension is that what’s in bold above. Let me get this straight: a student who realizes he/she has a “weapon” and tells a teacher still gets in trouble? So exactly what is the lesson here? Be honest and get in trouble?

Ridiculous.

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How Long Has This Over-Staffing Been Going On?

The Herald-Sun reports that Orange and Chatham counties are reducing the ranks of magistrates in anticipation of state budget cuts. The story notes that because of this, local police agencies are now coordinating their staffing plans to ensure coverage should any entity need help while an officer is traveling the extra distance to/from a magistrate. What’s more, they’re also going to start using video conferencing for some of the work before magistrates.

In other words, the agencies are being more efficient. Good. It’s amazing what happens when the money flow is turned down. So why haven’t these local agencies been doing this all along? And how many more examples of this kind of over-staffing exists in local and state government?

When the legislature and governor begin looking at ways to make state government more efficient, they should start by reading these recommendations on agency consolidation.

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How to write snotty editorials

In journalism schools across the country they should create a course called “How to Write Snotty Editorials,” and use The News & Observer as the prime miscreant of this kind of journalistic malfeasance. There are certainly plenty of examples to fill out a semester-long syllabus.

Today’s editorial on incoming Wake County Schools superintendent Anthony Tata reaches new heights in snottiness:

Tata’s appearances on TV and his blogs tend to lean toward the Republican-conservative philosophy. He also has made pointed criticisms of President Obama, explaining that he wanted to exercise his right to free speech. Such criticisms are permissible on the part of a retired general officer, but they’re not likely to be helpful coming from the head of North Carolina’s largest school system, a nonpartisan post. And it’s as a school superintendent that Tata’s duty now calls.

Just what would a former brigadier general, and a key administrator in the administration of one of the nation’s best reform-minded school superintendents, do without The News & Observer‘s professional chin-strokers and cluck-cluckers to tell him how to do his job?

This condescending and insufferable approach to editorial writing is nothing new to the N&O, but it has reached new heights since the voters of Wake County elected a Republican majority to the Wake County School board. That must be as hard to take for the N&O as Republicans taking over the legislature for the first time in a century.

After all, the N&O editorial writers have stuck by Democrats through many permutations, including the party’s white supremacy period, decades of corruption, and its current nanny-statist rendition, so it’s hardly surprising they would do the same during this latest bit of inconvenience.

My guess is the general’s affiliation with Fox News has more to do with putting the editorial writers’ BVDs in a bunch than whatever blogging he might do. As my colleague Rick Henderson pointed out the other day, it’s the height of hypocrisy for the N&O’s editorial page to be lecturing anyone about partisanship and political bias.

It’s probably not a problem, anyway. Somehow, I don’t think a retired Army general will give much credence to the sage advice coming from South McDowell Street. At least I hope not.

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Chad Adams & Perry Woods, 2 to 5PM Tuesday on NewsRadio 680 WPTF

You can hear conservative activist Chad Adams duke it out with Democratic political strategist Perry Woods today from 2 to 5 p.m. when they fill in for Bill LuMaye on NewsRadio 680 WPTF.

You can hear the show at 680 AM on the dial or online at www.wptf.com. Click on Listen Live.

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About That Soda Tax Idea: D’oh!

From Duke University researchers comes this research data that will, no doubt, have the soda tax lobby wringing their hands. (emphasis is mine)

As some fans of sugary soft drinks have already heard, health policy makers and government officials are considering additional taxes on sweetened drinks.

And although a “soda tax” could generate billions of dollars in tax revenue each year, a new study finds it would have virtually no effect on America’s bulging waistline.

A fuller story is here.

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A “moral voice for the country”?

The Washington Post reports here on President Obama’s phone call to the Philadelphia Eagles owner to praise the decision to give dog abuser and dog killer Michael Vick a job in the NFL after his release from prison.

I find Vick’s dog fighting, abusing, torturing, and killing absolutely monstrous. I would never hire the man, but others have to make their own decision and the Eagles owner has made his.

But then, the Post writer concludes the piece with this passage. (emphasis is mine)

Obama’s supporters welcome his interest in matters beyond the customary arenas of policy and politics.

“He’s not only leader of the government but also a role model and a moral voice for the country,” said Neera Tanden, a former Obama adviser who is now chief operating officer for the Center for American Progress, a liberal Washington think tank. “And that is why he’s discussed the role of parents as their children’s first teachers, chastised absent fathers, as well as commented on issues that raise ethical concerns in the culture, outside of politics.”

A “moral voice for the country?” The president’s “moral voice” speaks only for those who agree with him. Thus, Mr. Obama’s moral voice echoes those who support abortion on demand and who believe that government knows what’s best for us all, particularly the “fat cats” who, as the president has said repeatedly, don’t need the money they’ve earned.

When President Bush was in office, was he a “moral voice” for the country?

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Pill Popping Kids

Stunning data in this Wall Street Journal piece — 1 in 4 kids and teens are on prescription drugs. What’s more, researchers say the long-term impact of drugs on kids isn’t clear. First and foremost, this raises all sorts of questions about why this generation’s parents are so willing — even pleased in the case of several parents I know — that their child has been diagnosed with ADD and more than happy to put the child on a lifelong path of pills. And then there are the legal implications over unknown long-term consequences. Can you say lawsuit?

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