Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thank You Dunwoody!

Local businesses would like to thank the voters of District 1 for ensuring that "Don't Ask-Don't Tell" has retained her role of protecting our freedom to ignore what you seem to think are your laws. Silly you.

Remember, it is NOT ticky-tacky if we say it isn't.

Oh, and our trucks? Well you can expect them to continue to barrel thru "your" school zones.

Thank you. Thank You. Thank YOU!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Is It Really Charity?

When you must be paid to do it?

Any number of groups are hating on tax reform. It is only a bit surprising that some vocal hating is coming from "charitable organizations" who otherwise self-profess to do all manner of good things for all manner of people. Just not interested in helping people who pay taxes.

As currently proposed, changes to the tax laws would raise personal exemptions and lower incremental tax rates. Charitable organizations see this as an existential threat as they are convinced that donations come not from recognition of and support for their good works but because their kind of American gladly gives them a dollar to screw the feds out of twenty eight cents. The AJC has the cat far removed from their bag:
Someone with a tax rate that goes as high as 28 percent could give a $100 donation to a charity, but they’d see a $28 drop in taxes with the deduction. Which means that $100 donation ultimately only cost them $72.
What better reason to give? While Habitat for Humanity, a local fave, touts their good works, they fall just short of demanding direct public funding by insisting that the government incentivize taxpayers to divert taxes to H4H:
“Habitat for Humanity has serious concerns about the proposed tax bill’s impact on charitable giving,” Chris Vincent, a vice president for the organization, said in an emailed statement. “Habitat strongly urges Congress to preserve and enhance charitable giving incentives, to preserve the vital work that organizations like Habitat do with low-income families across the country.”
Just because these organizations are not for profit does not mean they are not all about big bucks. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Let No Entitlement Fail

No matter how few are affected or how minor the impact (to the individual or society) any aspect of any tax plan negatively impacting an entitlement seems DOA. The AJC recently reported that a tax loophole in place for graduate student stipends might close and the beneficiaries of public largesse are furious.

There is the not-so-subtle subtext of "this is for the children and their education" but the chicken-little hyperbole from "student leaders" is almost unbearable.
“Many current graduate students will be unable to afford this new tax, and would fail to finish their programs as a result.... Universities would suddenly produce fewer graduates, and would be left with fewer instructors for undergraduate courses.”
Really? Wow? They get paid THAT much? So much that they would clear the limit to pay any income tax at all? Honestly, in some fields PhD candidates do get a stipend and generally tuition is waived (you're still on the hook for books and fees) but this doesn't rise to a level of burdensome or even any, income tax.

Then there is the loss of cheap labor complaint noting that fewer grad students, supposedly forced out due to this onerous though unsubstantiated tax burden, would mean fewer graders thereby driving down the quality of undergraduate education. They seem quite ignorant of the quality of graders and missed the memo from the IRS indicating excluded income was for work required for the degree. Grading homework in no way clears that bar. Are they cheating on their taxes? Are they saying it is OK? Sure. Why not? It IS an entitlement, isn't it?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Beggars ARE Choosers

It is rumored that yellow corn is unpopular in Africa because it is associated with foreign food aid and indicates poverty. Yet no one is discarding yellow corn whilst demanding white corn or brown rice.

Puerto Rico is a completely different disaster. Chronic financial mismanagement has driven the territory to insolvency with this man-made disaster fostering a culture of dependency. That's why we've heard the increasing demands for financial relief. That is until recent natural disasters brought poignant hardship to each and every resident. No power. Limited communication. Water and food in short often non-existent supply.

And yet.

They turn their noses up at freely offered food, brought to them by Uncle Sam's foreign aid version of Uber Eats. Why? Because it is not acceptable to the delicate, refined palettes of the Puerto Rican gourmet.

What was this odious fare? Potted meat.

Many a nanny-stater agrees with the not-so-famished in Puerto Rico turning their noses up at a meat spread requiring no refrigeration. Or so we hear from their tweets, bandwidth limited not by character restrictions but the time demands of debating which is the better pinot, noir or gris, between sampling canapés. But here in the Southland, where these food packages originated, many a callous handed redneck has made a working lunch of potted meat on saltines. Many dismiss this as folklore or nostalgia gone the way of peanuts-in-the-Coke and certainly those hardworking rednecks have been displaced by hardworking slave-wagers from much further south. Nonetheless...

In today's world our handouts are supposed to be culturally appropriate, by which the nanny means "sensitive to the culture of the recipient, not the giver" and should be quickly withdrawn and replaced with something more desired if any recipient finds the gift "demeaning." Maybe so, but it sounds like there are a lot of folks in Puerto Rico who aren't very hungry and have plenty of time to complain and demand entitlements. Or maybe they are nostalgic too.
"Ev'rything's free in America!"

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Geese And Ganders

As sure as the sun rises in the east there is one thing that comes around every so often in public school: dress codes and whiny students who don't like them. The AJC recently devoted way too much ink to the issue spotlighting 10-year old Falyn Handley and her fifth grade cohort Ruby Segerman styling selections from their vast collection of leggings, the fashion faux pas du jour. Logic has never been commonly associated with 10-year olds and Falyn sets the stage, beginning with "my leggings are your problem":
"I do not believe that clothing is a distraction. It is just the reaction that matters. I should not be punished for other people’s behavior. I am not a distraction.”
Those are some skilz, slickly laying out an article of faith as a matter of fact, seamlessly transitioning to deflection. But then Ruby offers a logical chop block calling the play back:
“I don’t believe that leggings are a distraction. I would be very annoyed and embarrassed to be called a distraction.”
The faith-fact conflation remains intact but Ruby invokes the pot-kettle paradox. If being "distracted" is a reaction owned by the distracted and not the distractor then maybe, just maybe, you own your own annoyance and embarrassment.

One good point was raised at the APS meeting: maybe the schools have some things to address that are more important. The need for education was clearly on display.

Monday, November 13, 2017

New Censorship

The anger from last year's stunning electoral upset still resonates throughout parts of America with current aftershocks around the epicenter of "The Russians Are Coming!" The narrative suggests that Hillary lost because Russian operatives used new media to disseminate Russian propaganda intended to influence the election. In some bubbles it is the only acceptable explanation for the resounding defeat of the Democrats' Heir Apparent.

And they must be punished.

Some have taken a direct approach, calling for social media platforms to police users according to a provided agenda much like mainstream media curates letters to the editor. Vox Populi is lifeblood of populism who, with her sister nationalism, is not goose-stepping to the New World Order. Others have called for an end to anonymity, not because it unleashes inner angers but because it allows creation of false and apparently credible personas. That this comes from the political wing heavily supported by Hollywood actors and actresses is an irony (hypocrisy) lost on no one. A radical fringe has even suggested requiring proof of citizenship or national affiliation but was quickly squelched as this might silence the voices of illegal aliens. Well monied and left tilting Silicon Valley has generally said "No!" to all these efforts.

Saving face demands something be done, so the Coastals have found something politically, if not practically, possible. Restrict Russian Olde School Media, specifically RT, a Russia-based news outlet. This is a bit like limiting Al Jazeera, politically correct after Al Gore cut ties, in that it is basically political grandstanding. Having a news outlet "register as a foreign agent" is pretty meaningless since the only folks who do not know the background of RT are those who've never seen it or heard of it. Would that we had as much information about the "agency" of CNN, Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS as with RT. Would that these outlets provided news or sent their news staff to journalism school instead of clown school. [ed: different rant]

And this is a slippery slope. Who else is impacted? How about France 24? How about the BBC? After all, the dreaded disease of populism is sweeping Europe. What about Asian news outlets from India, China or Japan? They have certain unaligned nationalistic tendencies. And what are the triggers? What line must be crossed to get on their list or is that a secret? And what media? RT isn't broadcast over the air, it is streamed over the internet. Do these ivory tower elites not understand that a VPN bridges their moat? New world globalism except for the most global technology of all--the internet? Would it extend to media formats a bit newer than "television," even if streamed? What about podcasts? WSB is quite proud of theirs and make no mistake the content is well aligned with their philosophy and world view. But it is the BBC's Hard Talk podcast that offered the best, most insightful interview with Bernie Sanders, and some suggest Bernie's refusal to toe the Hillary/Party line was key in their failure.

At the end of the day we now live in a culture where the end justifies the means and when the end is popular and hash-tag fueled any means will do. Even censorship. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Shorter College Department

From the outset let there be no doubt about the seriousness of sexual harassment in the workplace nor any less about the serious of charges leveled from one worker against a co-worker. If we'd taken this half as seriously in the late nineties as we do in these hashtag fueled times, Al Gore would have been president if only for a while. But that was then and this is now and the case at hand is projected thru the distorting lens of Ivory Tower Academia.

What could make this more bizarre than real-world accusations with defamation lawsuits in response? The Media! Combine academia with mainstream media and you are guaranteed a special kind of silly. This time, as usual, they do not disappoint.

The basic accusation is pretty straightforward with one colleague allegedly making unwanted advances and clearly inappropriate physical contact with another. Here is where the media sprinkles their own silliness with a WSB-TV interview where the accuser (shown below) "said she didn't want her face shown, but wants everyone to know about what she says happened to her on campus."

Perhaps only the accused have a right to face their accuser but it does seem odd that someone appearing in a local news report with a photo would not show their face. Was this to lend an air of gravity? Perhaps allowing the casual viewer to infer that bad things might happen if anyone recognized her?

And this is where it gets really odd. Her photo is on a Shorter Department webpage. Why? Because she is the Director of Campus Safety. The accused, Shorter VP Corey Humphries' official Shorter webpage has been removed like bleaching your four-year-old's sheets to remove that nasty urine stain. In academia it is called "Do Process" not due process.

On the one hand if this can happen to the Director of Campus Safety, it can happen to anyone. On the other hand someone who thinks not facing the camera somehow enhances the impact of the moment might have offered an opportunity to upgrade the position.

Monday, November 6, 2017

It's All About You

They say all politics is local, certainly true with tomorrow's elections for Dunwoody City Council and local taxes.

All council races are contested offering some hope for change, perchance to improve. In one case the incumbent said one thing and immediately did exactly the opposite. But instead of yielding an obvious preference for the opponent, very often the electorate choses the devil they know, fearing the unknown even when it offers clear improvement. All too often these choices put popularity over principle.

On taxes the county would like you to look past their Charlie Brown tree and the broken ornaments and grab the shiny new Christmas Pickle. As Vernon Jones famously said they are "going to pay your property taxes." But that IS only the county taxes, leaving you to pay the education and city taxes comprising the lion's share of the bill. With the next car you buy the requisite bump in sales tax will leave you in the hole. But that pickle sure is shiny.

The politicians know all this and they think they know you--or at least how to manipulate you to their will. And in that regard tomorrow really is all about you. Will you be what the ruling class thinks you are or will you be what this Country's Founders hoped you would be?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Mayor Can't Get Rich...

...but the Mayor's friends and family can.

It's a political cliché believed to have originated in the heyday of Chicago's politically corrupt machinery of the last century. Rather than disappearing with the machine this practice has become standard operating procedure throughout politics in America. Dunwoody is no exception.

Some is institutionalized. There seems no end to the number of authorities, bureaus, committees and administrations. Not that those appointed to positions with these rather suspect groups receive enormous paychecks. At least not directly. But they wield power and to the point of the cliché politicians and their appointees are well versed in monetizing power.

Sometimes it is fairly direct. Favor is curried by those who need a favor, say a custom ordinance, and manifests itself as campaign donations. Down the road, perhaps when a friend or relative of the pol or appointee needs a job, a well paying position appears. Or maybe it is a charitable organization dear to the pol. Perhaps it is a good one that does much for the community at large and society in general. The pol makes their support known thereby encouraging support by those who seek a closer relationship to the pol and the power therein entrusted.

Or it may be a rather narrow, targeted organization, like say the booster club for a local school. And perhaps the pol, in order to expand their reach and increase the impact of their outreach uses communication tools of their official position. Some see no problem with this. Ethics officials often disagree.

Think this could not and does not happen in Dunwoody? Then you'd be wrong.