November 20, 2006

Andy Vance Is ‘Honored and Humbled’ — And Deserving

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 5:59 pm

Andy Vance of SOB Alliance member Andy’s Angle “was recognized as the National Association of Farm Broadcasting’s Horizon Award Winner at this year’s convention.”

Andy received his award this past Friday at the 62nd Annual National Association of Farm Broadcasting Convention in Kansas City at the NAFB’s Awards Luncheon. The award is noted at Program Page 13 – since Andy’s name isn’t listed there, I’m guessing it was a surprise.

Not bad for a year’s work, almost to the day. On November 14 of last year, Andy and his partner Lindsay Hill launched the Buckeye Ag Radio Network (BARN), “the first new farm radio network in Ohio in over 30 years, ….. taking a risk by focusing on a business that most marketers assume is mature and fading.”

What a great example of from the ground up (excuse the pun) entrepreneurship.

Heartiest congrats, Andy, Lindsay, et al, and may it be only the beginning.

The Economy: By All Means, Let the Good Economic News Roll

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:21 pm

Mark Trumbull of The Christian Science Monitor has noticed something I mentioned last week, but had to try to get a dig in while doing it (bold is mine):

American paychecks are rising again at a pace not seen since the 1990s.

The pay increase amounts to 4 percent on average over the past 12 months, and it comes at a very helpful time for millions of households.

For three years, pay increases haven’t kept pace with the rising cost of living. Then came this year’s housing slowdown, which has further squeezed family finances.

Those setbacks, however, are now being offset by rising income. Four percent may not sound like much, but you have to look back to 1997 to find a calendar year with a gain that big.

First, a correction: Trumbull’s statement about pay increases not keeping pace with inflation “for three years” is incorrect. Start with this chart from the Census Bureau (go to the bottom half of the link for the “real income” version):

RealIncome2000to2006

By “cleverly” referring to three years, Trumbull is conveniently able to ignore the fact that real incomes went up in every quintile in 2005 to levels that were in almost every case above those of 2003.

Second, Trumbull’s argument doesn’t even fly if you play the game on his three-year turf and look at what people really receive (i.e., take-home pay, also known as disposable income).

The 2005 real income figures are slightly lower than 2002 for all but the highest 20% of earners. But, as the Census Bureau’s overview page relating to its income reports states, these figures are essentially what most of us would call gross, or pre-tax, income. The Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 (5% of gross pay in the lowest tax bracket, and at least 3% in every other bracket), along with the more generous Earned Income Credit that also took effect, mean that in reality every income group had a higher real disposable income during 2005 than it did in 2002. (Class-envy holdouts should also note that the households that took the biggest income hit before taxes from 2001 through 2004 were those in the top 20%, and especially those in the top 5%.)

(Aside: How the housing slowdown has “squeezed family finances,” except of course for those in the housing industry, is a mystery to me. Lower or stable prices for homes make them more affordable to those who are in the market. Increases or declines in the value of homes are not considered part of “income.”)

Maybe the press thinks it’s safe to trumpet good economic news now that there’s a divided government with Democrats in control of Congress. I should caution suddenly optimistic WORMs (members of the Worn-Out Reactionary Media, formerly known to most as the Mainstream Media) who might be eager to finally report the economy’s good news, after all these years of ignoring it, of four things:

  1. Wage increases tend to be greater the deeper you get into an economic prosperity — like the one (ahem) we’ve been living through during the past four-plus years.
  2. The rise in real income that Trumbull is citing has taken place in the past year, while you-know-who has controlled the White House and Congress.
  3. The GOP will have control of Congress until roughly January 15, 2007, so no good news can conceivably be attributed to the change in congressional control until then.
  4. Finally, and most importantly, the most recent budget passed by Congress covers the fiscal year that will end on September 30, 2007. Almost any fiscal measures passed by the new Congress when it convenes in January, unless they are retroactive, will not have any effect on the economy until the next fiscal year that begins in October 2007 (except for tax increases, which would in all likelihood cause a negative reaction in the stock market and the investment community). Therefore, almost any economic good news that is reported until the end of September, 2007 should properly be attributed to actions taken by Congress and the President in 2006 and previous years.

So, since Bush and the previous Congress get to take credit for the next 10 months or so of positive economic news, I say: Let the Good Times, and the Good News, Roll.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

______________________________

UPDATE: Consistent with the BizzyBlog blame/credit assignment logic (actually logical not matter who is saying it), the Clinton Administration is mostly to blame for the steep declines in real income that took place in 2001 (while, as you’ll notice, the very-rich got richer), since the first Bush budget didn’t kick in until October 1 of that year.

SarBox Changes: Be Still, My (Nevertheless Troubled) Heart

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:08 am

From Investment News (paid subscription required):

‘Significant changes’ for SOX, says Cox
By Riva Froymovich
November 17, 2006

Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Christopher Cox said he “will unveil significant changes” in the Sarbanes-Oxley law, according to published reports.

In a speech yesterday in London, Mr. Cox said the revisions seek to diminish the cost of compliance for companies, and assure investors protection.

The changes are expected to be adopted at a public meeting on Dec. 13, reports said.

Many companies have complained about the cost of the law’s compliance requirements and say that the rules are driving companies away from the U.S. across the Atlantic Ocean, where rules are weaker.

While this is welcome news for the country and the economy, it is still deeply troubling. That’s because it’s yet another instance in an endless stream of examples where a bureaucrat (never mind that he’s a smart one, or that in this case he appears to be doing the right thing) is deciding how laws are to be carried out. That is supposed to be Congress’s job. But Congress has esssentially abdicated the day-to-day operations of the federal leviathan to legions of unelected bureaucrats, both by writing vague laws that the bureaucrats then get to interpret, and by avoiding the dirty work of oversight that is among their most important constitutional duties. This is bipartisan legislative negligence of the highest order that has been allowed to go on for decades; the fact that few seem to mind doesn’t change that reality.

If you want to argue that the government is too big for the kind of legislative oversight we have a right to expect and that our congressmen and senators have a constitutional duty to provide, what you’re really telling me is either that you’re okay with the soft tyranny of a whimsical bureacracy, or that the government needs to be radically shrunk to the point where effective legislative oversight is again possible. I’m not okay with the former, and don’t understand how any reasonable person can be. I’m a big fan of the latter. Who will force a change? This guy tried; many more need to.

Target-Disney Feud: Dinosaurs Hold Out

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy — Tom @ 8:06 am

The dispute almost escalated to open warfare:

Target Backs Off in Online Movies Feud
Nov 17, 7:32 PM (ET)

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Discount retailer Target backed off plans to pull in-store promotions of products from Walt Disney after Disney threatened not to ship DVDs of hit movie “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” a person familiar with the situation said Friday.

The companies are at odds over The Walt Disney Co.’s decision to sell movies online through Apple Computer Co.’s iTunes store for less than it charges Target and other retailers.
The dispute is part of a feud between a number of major retailers and Hollywood studios over online movie sales.

Target Corp. (TGT) stores had removed signs promoting the DVD of the Disney-Pixar animated film “Cars” and other Disney products, according to a person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to speak for either company.

The two sides are discussing their differences after resolving the standoff, the person said.

The message from Target to the rest of the studios is: Don’t even think about it.

That’s fine for the very short-term. But the message from the marketplace to the studios who don’t take advantage of the online opportunity: Other studios will, even if they end up being ones you haven’t heard of yet or that don’t even exist yet. Adapt or die.

And the long-term message to Target, Wal-Mart, and the rest is this: Get used to the idea that you’re eventually going to have to devote that DVD store space to selling something else.

Arthur Brooks: Conservatives More Generous Than Libs

Filed under: General,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:01 am

From Beliefnet.com (HT NewsBusters), about the Syracuse University economist’s upcoming book, “Who Really Cares?”:

The book’s basic findings are that conservatives who practice religion, live in traditional nuclear families and reject the notion that the government should engage in income redistribution are the most generous Americans, by any measure.

Conversely, secular liberals who believe fervently in government entitlement programs give far less to charity. They want everyone’s tax dollars to support charitable causes and are reluctant to write checks to those causes, even when governments don’t provide them with enough money.

Such an attitude, he writes, not only shortchanges the nonprofits but also diminishes the positive fallout of giving, including personal health, wealth and happiness for the donor and overall economic growth.

All of this, he said, he backs up with statistical analysis.

“These are not the sort of conclusions I ever thought I would reach when I started looking at charitable giving in graduate school, 10 years ago,” he writes in the introduction. “I have to admit I probably would have hated what I have to say in this book.”

Still, he says it forcefully, pointing out that liberals give less than conservatives in every way imaginable, including volunteer hours and donated blood.

In an interview, Brooks said he recognizes the need for government entitlement programs, such as welfare. But in the book he finds fault with all sorts of government social spending, including entitlements.

This shouldn’t be a total surprise. Annual surveys of giving by state tell us that Red Staters are more generous than Blue Staters as a percentage of income. The latest evidence of that is 2005′s Generosity Index (HT Willisms). Nine of the Top 10 are red: WY, UT, TN, TX, AR, MS, AL, OK, SD, NY.

But the myth will persist that those who want to force people to be “charitable” through the tax system are somehow more “compassionate.” Go figure.

Inmates Test Asylum; Asylum Wins (for Now)

Filed under: Business Moves,Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:56 am

Go to Interested-Participant; you’ll see what I mean.

Al ‘I Got Mine’ Franken Leaving Bankrupt Air America?

Brian at Radio Equalizer has sources that say so.

Franken may be a moonbat-level leftist but he played the capitalistic side of his Air America Radio (AAR) gig pretty smartly:

June, 2004 Wall Street Journal investigative report on Air America stated Al was making “over $1 million a year”. That was accurate, but not for long.

Despite mixed reviews, low ratings and a perpetually shaky cash outlook, Franken was handed a virtual blank check by Piquant. Even as the extent of the Gloria Wise crisis became clear to an ever-changing series of managers, Franken pushed ahead anyway with an eye-popping 2005 compensation package.

Included was a staggering base salary boost to $1,725,000, plus fringe benefits and potential bonuses, after less than a year on the air. Nor was his bloated staff left out. The result: what is quite likely talk radio’s largest-ever and most overpaid entourage, mostly from the ranks of Al’s Harvard research team.

The kicker: Franken successfully insisted the entire base sum be paid in advance, during the first week of January, 2005! According to his contract, only death, disability or resignation would lead to any repayment.

Worse, Billy Kimball, his senior producer, also enjoyed a $275,000 early payout.

….. when it came time to negotiate for 2006, Al was instead willing to take his base pay, now bumped up to a cool $2 million, in $500,000 quarterly chunks. And earlier in 2004, he frequently spoke of receiving paychecks like everyone else, including to the Journal.

Only during the period where the company was sweating out the possibility of having to repay Gloria Wise did Al Franken demand it all at once. Coincidence?

Don’t get me wrong. Franken is free to negotiate the best deal he can get. But the whining about “capitalist greed” rings more than a little hollow from someone who was so clearly willing to make sure he got his, even if it might have compromised the ability of AAR to pay its bills during 2005 or to pay back the money ripped off from the Gloria Wise Foundation. Even the insistence on (presumably upfront) quarterly payments in 2006 is interesting, given that AAR filed for bankuptcy on October 13. Did Franken get his 500 grand in early October before they pulled the plug? The bankruptcy filing indicates that Franken is owed almost $361,000? Is that salary, or other things (expense reimbursements, merchandise royalties, etc.)?

All of this leads one to question whether Franken really believes what he says on the air and puts in his books, or whether, as appears to be the case with many other liberals when you compare their words to their deeds, it’s all a bunch of business opportunism engaged in by “Do as I say, not as I do” types, ignored by WORMs (Worn-Out Reactionary Media members) who don’t seem to object to greed very much when people who agree with them engage in it.

John Bolton’s Makes News, But Only in Calcutta

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 7:46 am

John Bolton made an extraordinary speech at the UN on Friday after a resolution condemning Israel passed. It got covered by the press ….. in Calcutta (HTs Democracy Project, Lucianne, Atlas Shrugs).

The WORMs (Worn-Out Reactionary Media, which used to be known to most as the Mainstream Media) wouldn’t want to do anything to make him look good — which is why it has received no notice.

Positivity: Sharonville (OH) student to be honored for saving friend’s life

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:01 am

The story is from November 9. Lamar Williams will be honored tonight:

Last Updated: 5:31 am | Thursday, November 9, 2006

Lamar Williams, a seventh-grader and quarterback of the Princeton Community Middle School football team, will receive the Dream Keeper Award Nov. 20 for his efforts to help save his friend’s life.

The incident happened during lunch on Oct. 19, when the cafeteria was filled with 450 kids.

Austin Booher, Lamar’s friend who also plays on the football team, began choking on a piece of meat. He raised his hand for help, but most students nearby were not aware of what was happening.

Lamar, who sat across the table from Austin, asked him if he could speak. When Austin shook his head, Lamar knew he had to act fast.

He came across the table, administered the Heimlich maneuver, and dislodged the piece of meat.

Students Jeffery Bolah, DeShaun Whaley and Rassan Mack then recognized what was going on and summoned help.

Lamar said he learned about the Heimlich maneuver in Douglas Tucker’s sixth-grade health class last year. He said he remembered the picture in the book, demonstrating how to perform the maneuver.

The procedure involves placing one fist just above a person’s navel with the thumb side facing the abdomen and using a quick squeeze against the abdomen to dislodge an object and clear the airway.

Lamar is being called a hero. When asked how he felt, he said, “It feels great, and people know me now.”

He will receive the award at 7:15 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Princeton school board’s regular meeting in the library at Princeton High School, 25 W. Sharon Road, Sharonville.

Lamar lives in Sharonville and Austin lives in Springdale.