Schools Put It All On Black 31

A Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel watchdog report finds that some school districts have been funding pension plans and whatnot with risky investment schemes:

    Five Wisconsin public school districts have made an investment gamble that could force taxpayers to finance multimillion-dollar bailouts.

    The districts – Kenosha, Kimberly Area, Waukesha, West Allis-West Milwaukee and Whitefish Bay – have piled up debt in deals to help fund health insurance and other non-pension benefits for retirees. But as global financial markets have seized up, the districts have been told the value of their investments has fallen so much that they might need to come up with a combined $53 million to avoid default.

Ah, what the heck, it’s funny money anyway, right? The taxpayers always have more.

A Comparison Brett Favre Could Have Done Without

Uno the beagle retires from the show ring:

    He was one of the greats in his sport, an underdog who was bred in Belleville and lived in a small Southern town who became a most popular champion. He thrilled fans by running around like a playful pup, until there was nothing left to prove. Last week, he bowed out.

    So long, Uno the beagle.

    Less than a month after winning best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club, his team made it official: America’s top dog has retired.

    “If anyone could bark out signals like Brett Favre, it’s Uno,” David Frei, host of the Westminster television coverage, said Friday. “Like Brett, he did it all.”

Post-Dispatch Finds a Rezko Angle It Likes

Not that he has ties to Obama; that Republicans may be involved: Corruption May Prove Bipartsan in Illinois:

    Illinois businessman Stuart Levine, an associate of Republican former Gov. George Ryan, had dinner one evening in 2004 with fellow businessman Antoin “Tony” Rezko — an associate of Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich — at the Standard Club, a ritzy members-only hotel near Chicago’s downtown financial district.

Meanwhile, the Post-Dispatch continues to endorse the consolidation of power into political hands that makes this sort of corruption possible.

Faulty Random Number Generator

Hidden in this story, which has a positive result of finding a fugitive murder, we have this disingenuous nugget:

    On Sunday, a police officer in Eureka, Mo., was randomly running license plates in a Days Inn Motel parking lot when the officer came across Newman’s vehicle.

Mmm-hmm. Somehow, I think the fact that this officer was in the parking lot of a motel running the plates diminishes the “randomness” of it, and I would question his sample size–I suspect it was less random than thorough in the selection of plates to run.

Otherwise, it sounds a little totalitarian, does it not? Stay in Eureka, and the police will know who you are.

Making Britain Satire-Proof

You know how some of us like to make a little ad absurdum fun about the nanny state bubble-wrapping everything for the safety of its citizens adult children?

Britain is removing satire from our repertoire:

    Britain’s first ‘Safe Text’ street has been created complete with padded lampposts to protect millions of mobile phone users from getting hurt in street accidents while walking and texting.

    Around one in ten careless Brits has suffered a “walk ‘n text” street injury in the past year through collisions with lampposts, bins and other pedestrians.

There’s a picture at the link.

History repeats itself, the first time as satire, and the second time as just good sense according to British government officials.

Coming soon: buddy bumpers to keep you out of the street.

(Link seen on Outside the Beltway.)

America Works Best When We Say Unions, Make Our Military Decisions For Us

Perhaps that wouldn’t be such a winning slogan, but the Boeing machinist union wants to overturn the decision making apparatus of the United States Air Force:

    Furious over the potential loss of tens of thousands of American aerospace jobs, a major union representing Boeing Co. workers intends to press Congress to overturn the military’s awarding of a tanker contract to Northrop Grumman and its European partner, European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co.

Before you let those fellows go all American Pie on you, don’t forget they like to strike at inopportune times.

Be hell of a thing if our Air Force planes couldn’t reach their targets because the Air Force had tankers on back order because machinist strikes pushed their delivery dates, ainna? Guess that’s not going to happen unless our elected betters in Congress will it.

Sad Day for a Wisconsin Boy

Brett Favre Set to Retire After 17 Years.
Report: Gary Gygax, ‘Father of D&D,’ Dies at 69.

Seriously. What’s left for a Wisconsin boy? Governor Doyle and high tax rates? The Aaron “Mr. Glass” Rodgers era in Packers football?

You know, I once met Gary Gygax when GenCon was still in Milwaukee, as nature intended it. It was after TSR sued Game Designers Workshop into oblivion for including trademarked properties like elves and hit rolls into the Dangerous Journeys system. Gygax looked like an old biker and regaled me and a couple of friends with some stories about another system he was developing and some weird role-playing anecdote about carnivorous trees.

I never met Brett Favre, though, and I actually foolishly turned down a chance to see him play the last year. However, I think that the conversations would have been similar.

Brian Needs Google Hits

In case anyone wants to know, if you’re about 5’11” and a size 5/6, your inseam could be about 33″. Difference in your trunk vs. leg length could make for variation.

Apparently, someone does want to know, so I asked my sainted mother, who has those dimensions.

Also, please note that my sainted mother wouldn’t mind a whole box of Ho-Hos, if you’re sharing, but they nor the copious amounts of junk food she already consumes seem to alter her basic mathematics. Fortunately, I inherited something of that metabolism myself.

Sunshine Go Away Today

In a stunning turn of events, governments have thought to use the Kirkwood shooting as an excuse to cloak themselves in greater “security” by persecuting dissident citizens and offering a show of force to intimidate citizens. After Kirkwood shootings, gadlies [sic] under the microscope:

    Dienoff, who denies he would ever hurt anyone, is among a small number of people who rarely miss the opportunity to attend local government meetings, where they raise the hackles of officials over issues from taxes to traffic tickets.

    Often called gadflies, they see themselves as champions of freedom and watchdogs of local government.

    But post-Kirkwood, a conflict has arisen between security and First Amendment rights. Where these critics may once have been seen as annoying, if sometimes right, some are now being looked at as possible threats.

    Some cities have moved to install metal detectors and to have armed officers on hand. At least one, Pine Lawn, has voted to bar anyone it deems disruptive from public meetings.

Fortunately for those entrenched in local municipal power, the Kirkwood shootings have a ready-made racial template so that citizens and their leaders don’t have to think of it in terms of a small government throwing its weight onto a single citizen, pricking him and then silencing him until violence is his only possible expression.

No, it’s racial. Kumbaya, have some harmony-building meetings, and then take exactly the wrong steps.

Because silencing the disenfranchised faster and moving into micro-sized totalitarian city states more quickly isn’t going to ensure safety. Limiting the government’s influence and not running cities like fuedal fiefdoms might.

Once You Start Nannying

Once an organization finds success in its push to rule citizens’ lives (namely, through regulating corporations and the citizens they serve), that organization often likes to turn its prowess at ruling to other endeavors. Another case in point:

    The Dodge pickup has rust on the tailgate and a Harley-Davidson sticker on its back windshield. Beside it sits a Honda Accord with a big, white butterfly on the windshield and American flag butterflies on each side of the trunk.

    There’s the minivan sporting a tattoo parlor bumper sticker and a miniature San Francisco football jersey suctioned to a window of a red Cougar with a scuffed-up driver’s side.

    They all have one thing in common: Their owners didn’t pay off a car title loan, and now they’re getting ready for auction.

    For years payday lenders have been the bad guy in the predatory lending debate while their close cousin, car title lenders, have cruised along unnoticed – and perhaps more disturbing for some – unregulated in several states. Many efforts to regulate the industry have failed as the lenders pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into legislative campaigns.

Sadly, the totalitarian impulses of the news media continue to cast organizations who offer services as the bad guy, not the ill-informed or naive sheep who get into bad situations and clamor for the government to save them from their decisions.

Comforting Thoughts

By the time my sons are teenagers, Hannah Montana and Avril Lavigne will be out of fashion and trying desperately to hang onto their fame.

Unfortunately, Britney will be more popular as a martyr to the music, a la Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix.

Meterologists Predict 80% Chance of Government Payout to Fools

Spring flooding possible after heavy snow in upper Midwest:

    There’s a good chance of flooding on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers this spring because of soggy landscapes and a heavy snowpack in the upper Midwest, according to the National Weather Service.

So I guess that means I’d better plan on having my tax dollars spent to fix the leaky basements of recent development on flood plains, eh?

Which is worse, the fool who builds multi-million dollar mixed use developments on land that gets submerged, or the fools who suffer a government that feels compelled to bail that fellow out with buckets of cash?

The Business of Government Is Business

Two things from the SunCrest Call, a local free paper I pick up whenever the OB pats my beautiful wife on the belly and says, “Good job.” The first, an insert by the mayor of Sunset Hills:

Letter from the Mayor
Click for full size

The mayor took office in Sunset Hills after the previous administration approved a redevelopment proposal that would have depopulated a subdivision. Many of the residents bought new houses before the actual buyout occurred, and when the funding for the project collapsed, ended up with double mortgages. They were not pleased and threw that bunch out, but now the new bunch wants to redevelop a different area using all of its coercive government powers, and the mayor wants to let you know he’s a better big Keynesian wheel than the last guy.

Meanwhile, a columnist in the paper lauds another mayor for using coercive government power–the power to tax some, but to not tax others–on something the columnist likes:

    “There comes a time when you have to back off on your principles and do what’s best for this community.”

    We commend Crestwood Mayor Roy Robinson for putting aside his former blind hatred of TIF and trying to ensure that the city has all of its economic-development tools available.

    When Crestwood Mayor Roy Robinson made this statement in January 2006, some of us held back laughter, wondering how this was possible.

    But two years later, Robinson has shockingly lived up to this creed.

    On Feb. 12, the mayor who once ran for office opposing tax-increment financing broke a tie vote among aldermen to protect the use of TIF and, in our opinion, also protect the city’s best interests.

That is, the government can give unfair advantage to new businesses in the region and can soak existing, loyal businesses who have been part of the community for years. And principles get in the way of doing what a select set of businessmen and newspapermen want.

Because those new businesses would buy ads in that same paper, don’t you know? Well, hopefully, anyway.

Lazy fare capitalism, it’s called. And it’s close enough for the Call Newspapers.

See also Krauthammer’s bit on rent seeking at the Federal level.