March 15, 2007

People Seen As Mean to Green: Why What They Say Isn’t What They Do

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:14 pm

The next time you hear that there is not only a scientific consensus on globaloney (phooey), but that people are eager to learn how to conserve energy so they can “do something” about it, remember this lesson from Down Under:

Viewers keen to save planet, but not during favourite show
March 8, 2007

The green conundrum is affecting many products, not just TV, writes Paul McIntyre.

TEN NETWORK’s programmers are baffled. With so much attention on climate change and consumer research indicating viewers were keenly interested in a 2½ hour feast of practical advice on how they might save the planet, Ten’s ratings for the Cool Aid blockbuster on Sunday night were still a disaster.

Viewing numbers peaked at 618,000, compared with more than 1.6 million each for Grey’s Anatomy and CSI on Seven and Nine respectively, and averaged just 464,000 people across the country.

“Truthfully, we’re confused,” says Ten’s network head of programming, Beverley McGarvey. “They didn’t come. It’s not like they came to the show, sampled it and went away. They didn’t come.

“We had study guides in schools, we had the full support of the print media, both editorially and with advertising, and an extensive [Ten Network] on-air campaign with a number of different creative treatments and different stances.

“We spent a fortune to get the audience there and it didn’t work. We’ve talked about it quite a lot internally. We’re disappointed.”

Ten isn’t alone. Despite the focus on climate change, the green conundrum is alive across myriad product categories, including toilet paper.

The reason that the expectations of globaloney programmers, like the purveyors of “green” toilet paper, are being, uh, wiped out is because they believe their market research.

In this case, it’s a big mistake. No one except a person spoiling for a fight is going to tell a survey-taker that they don’t care about being green; of course they’ll usually say so, either because they want to be seen as having “good” intentions, or just to keep the politically-correct furies off their backs. But when it comes time to spend a little more hard-earned money on green products, it’s generally not going to happen, not unless there’s a specific payback. Nor are TV viewers going to leave their favorite programs for a lecture on “the cause.”

Consider it enlightened self-interest, with a smidgen of passive resistance.

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UPDATE: Tim Blair had more to say last Friday.

Carnival Barking (031507)

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 1:20 pm

Newshound’s 63rd Carnival of Ohio Politics is here.

Boring Made Dull’s 36th on Econ and Social Policy is here.

The Washington Ratings Game, Part 5: American Conservative Union

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:11 am

The American Conservative Union’s 2006 Congressional Ratings home page is here. The site has complete rundowns of all House and Senate members.

ACU picked a certain number of key votes in each chamber (25 in both the House and the Senate), but unlike other scorecard groups, it weighted each vote equally. There are pros and cons to the equal-weighting approach, but worst thing you might be able to say about ACU is that they were biased in which votes were selected. With many of the others (National Journal, National Taxpayers Union, and Club for Growth), vote-selection and vote-weighting bias could both be present.

Here’s a summary what the ACU found:

Overall, the House produced 186 members with an ACU rating of 80% or higher—our definition of a conservative, all Republicans. The two Democrats with the highest rating were Dan Boren (OK) and Lincoln Davis (TN), each with a 64% score. At the other end of the spectrum, 155 members rated a liberal rating of 20% or less, all of whom were Democrats except Christopher Shays (CT)…..

In the Senate, 12 GOP Senators received a perfect 100% conservative rating in 2005, compared to eight in 2004, and none in 2003.

I’m going to hold commentary until the weekend, when I’ll do a post digesting the five ratings I have posted on. I was also going to include Citizens Against Government Waste, but their report appears to be at least a couple of months away.

HOUSE — Local

Scores are in the following order: 2006; 2005; Lifetime.

Ohio:
- Chabot — 96; 96; 97.5
- Boehner — 88; 100; 93.63
- Schmidt — 88; 88; 87.75
- Tiberi — 84; 88; 91.25
- Gillmor — 84; 82; 81.34
- Oxley — 83; 91; 87.52
- Turner — 80; 80; 85
- Hobson — 76; 83; 81.2
- Pryce — 72; 83; 78.11
- LaTourette — 72; 71; 72.05
- Regula — 71; 76; 68.72
- Ryan — 28; 25; 24.5
- Brown — 25; 4; 9.41
- Kaptur — 21; 24; 15.64
- Strickland — 18; 28; 18.15
- Jones — 4; 4; 3.88
- Kucinich — 4; 0; 10.3

Kentucky:
- Davis — 84; 88; 86

Indiana:
- Pence — 100; 100; 100
- Sodrel — 88; 92; 90

HOUSE — Other Notables
- Tancredo (CO) — 92; 100; 97.75
- Hunter (CA) — 88; 92; 92.02
- Paul (TX) — 76; 76; 82.26
- Mollohan (WV) — 46; 52; 33.09
- Murtha (PA) — 28; 40; 33.25
- Pelosi (CA) — 8; 0; 3.1
- Conyers (MI) — 4; 13; 4.99
- Hoyer (MD) — 4; 12; 8.19
- Rangel (NY) — 4; 0; 3.94
- My quick eyeball count indicates that 5 House members, all Democrats, had scores of zero in 2006.

SENATE — OH-KY-IN
- DeWine (OH) — 72; 56; 79.8
- Voinovich (OH) — 56; 68; 74.8
- Bunning (KY) — 96; 92; 94.9
- McConnell (KY) — 84; 100; 89.7
- Bayh (IN) — 16; 20; 20.8
- Lugar (IN) — 64; 88; 78.6

SENATE — Other Notables
- DeMint (SC) — 100; 96; 98
- Coburn (OK) — 100; 100; 97.8
- Dole (NC) — 96; 96; 91
- Santorum (PA) — 96; 92; 88.1
- Hagel (NE) — 75; 96; 85.2
- McCain (AZ) — 65; 80; 82.3
- Kerry (MA) — 12; 8; 5.6
- Clinton (NY) — 8; 12; 9
- Obama (IL) — 8; 8; 8
- Biden (DE) — 4; 8; 13.4
- 7 Senators, all Democrats, had scores of 0 in 2006.

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Previous Posts:
- Part 1 — National Journal Has Some Local Surprises
- Part 2 — National Taxpayers Union Notes Little National Improvement
- Part 3 — Americans for Tax Reform — Local Congressional Delegation Gets Straight A’s
- Part 4 — Club for Growth
- Consolidated Rankings for All Five Sources

Hard to Believe I’m Reading This

Filed under: Business Moves,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:52 am

Just got this in an e-mail from Money/CNN:

GM says lack of controls over financial reporting could make turnaround difficult. Details soon.

Who’d have thought….? ….. and how does this happen at what was long considered one of the best-controlled (note that I didn’t say best-run) companies anywhere?

UPDATE: Here’s a quick hit:

General Motors warned investors Thursday that its internal controls over financial reporting are ineffective and could make a turnaround of the troubled automaker difficult.

The company made the statement in its annual 10-K report of results for 2006, filed early Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. GM said in the filing that management has recognized the problem and is taking steps to correct them.

The filing showed the company making money in the fourth quarter and 2006, with its global automotive operations returning to profitability. But a financial hit from its the subprime mortgage business left results short of forecasts.

The Smashing Success of an Island Economy with Supply-side Econ

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:48 am

BESIDES Hong Kong and Ireland, from a Wall Street Journal editorial (requires subscription):

The benefits of low taxes are on full display in Iceland, which provides an almost perfect demonstration of the Laffer Curve. From 1991 to 2001, as the corporate-tax rate fell gradually to 18% from 45%, tax revenues tripled to 9.1 billion kronas ($134 million in today’s exchange rate) from just above 3 billion kronas. Revenues have more than tripled again since 2001 to an estimated 33 billion kronas last year. Personal income-tax rates were cut gradually as well, to a flat rate of 22.75% this year from 33% in 1995. Meanwhile, the economy has averaged annual growth of about 4% over the past decade.

It seems pretty obvious that the relevant range where tax cuts will increase tax revenues is well below our current 35% top individual and corporate rates. Yet we in the US are worried about merely keeping those rates from increasing, while there are object lessons aplenty (Hong Kong, Ireland, Iceland, and Australia, to name a few) that we should be lowering rates to grow the economy more quickly, and possibly get over the long-term deficit hump we face down the road.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (031507)

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:19 am

Viacom v. YouTubewhat he said (may require free registration).

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Periodic Quagmire Reminder — We still have troops in Kosovo, with no realistic chance of getting them out soon.

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In the Peoples Republic of Toledo, the City is skimming the cream (HT Right Wing Toledo) off of what is currently a totally privatized situation with ambulance runs, and wonders why the private companies are balking at the idea of only getting the marginal leftovers. I would think that a city takeover (“city-ization,” I suppose) has to be all or none, AND that the city should be compensating the businesses for what they are forfeiting. In the situation that’s occurring in the Glass City, even ignoring the cherry-picking, you have an entity that doesn’t have to pay many kinds of taxes (the city) in essence competing against those that do (the private companies). That’s clearly unfair.

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751 French Quagmires Alert — That’s how many police “no-go” zones there are in France. Really (HT NixGuy). As Gates of Vienna says, “France has lost sovereign control over large swathes of its urban territory.” This, of course, is a complete non-story to the Formerly Mainstream Media in the US. Y’know, wouldn’t want to make Old Europe look like anything less than a utopia we should imitate. Update: No-gos in Holland too (HT Fausta via e-mailer Larwyn).

AARP’s New Deal with New York Life

Filed under: Business Moves,Consumer Outrage,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:14 am

This is yet more evidence that AARP is a financial-services firm that is a lobbying organization. The conflicts of interest at AARP are rife. Its credibility should have begun taking big hits long ago, and its tax-exempt status should be open to serious question.

Ho Hum Hiring Headline (031507)

Filed under: Business Moves — Tom @ 6:09 am

From Chandler, Arizona:

Go Daddy to add 500 jobs
Mar. 9, 2007 12:00 AM

It continues to be go, go, go for the Go Daddy Group Inc., the world’s largest domain name register, which announced plans Thursday to hire an additional 500 people this year, mostly for its new Tempe office.

“We double our staff about every seven months,” said Bob Olson, vice president of business operations for the Scottsdale-based company.

These Two Fact Sets Should Not Be in the Same Room Together

Filed under: Economy,Education,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:04 am

But they are, as Debra Saunders noted at Townhall last week.

Fact Set 1:

After all those years of educators focusing on improving the basics in public schools, how is it possible that the National Assessment for Educational Progress just gave America’s high school seniors their lowest score for reading since 1992?

Students in elementary school have improved their skills in reading, writing and math, but the improvement “stops in middle school and completely stops in high school,” answered Jim Lanich, president of California Business for Educational Excellence in Sacramento and a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, who called me from a NAGB meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

The new NAEP report found that the percentage of high school seniors who read at or above basic levels decreased from 80 percent in 1992 to 73 percent in 2005. A mere 23 percent of seniors were rated as proficient in math, even though students were allowed to use calculators for one-third of the test.

Fact Set 2:

….. Grade inflation could be a culprit here. Another report released last month, the Nation’s Report Card on high school graduates, found that seniors’ overall grade point averages for 2005 had risen one-third of a letter grade since 1990. Also, high school graduates reported that they were taking more rigorous courses — but if the courses were more rigorous, their reading and math skills should have improved.

Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools Dave Gordon, who is also a NAGB member, sees a “rigor gap” and an achievement gap. The NAEP report found students who ostensibly are taking calculus, but “are not even at the top of proficient range” in the NAEP math tests. African Americans in calculus classes often score below proficient.

And you can’t say the problem is that the NAEP test underrates students — not when universities are admitting top students, only to find that they’re not prepared for college course work. Last year, the California State University System found that fewer than half of its freshmen were proficient in both math and English — with about one-third of freshmen were forced to take remedial courses.

So we have kids who are demonstrably less proficient than they were 15 years ago who are in general more unprepared for college or the labor force than ever — graduating from high schools with better grades. All of this occurs while spending on education continues to increase at twice the rate of inflation, as it has for decades.

This does not compute. This is not acceptable. In Ohio, the Governor announced yesterday that he wants to abandon the ideas that have a chance of turning things around. That is not acceptable either. One hopes, probably in vain, that Ted Strickland will at least spare us the “caring about the children” cliches.

Positivity: Dylan Desilva Update — Honored at the Boston Garden

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 5:59 am

Dylan’s work as the 14 year-old founder of Cape Cod Cares 4 the Troops was previously noted at this Positivity post back in August.

Dylan was honored last night by the Boston Celtics as a Hero Among Us.

Go to this Pundit Review post to see the YouTube video of the standing O he received, plus a lot of great pics.