Never Ask Me About My Business

Sonny CorleoneIn my last poll, I asked people to choose which Corleone they’d most likely be–Michael, Connie, Sonny, or Fredo.

The answers were pretty surprising to me for several reasons. First of all, someone actually chose Fredo. I had a suspicion that my friend Rooster may stop by this blog, but I didn’t think he actually read it. I figured he just looked at the pictures. Thanks for stopping by!

Secondly, there are several women who read this blog, but no one chose Connie. Not one. Hmmm.

Most surprising was that almost everyone chose Michael. Hmmm…draw your own conclusions about these people.

As much as I wish I were like Michael, I had to be honest with myself and choose Sonny.

This week’s poll should be a little easier to answer.

School Choice Has No Impact. And Your Point Is..?

Steven D. Levitt writes about some of his cohorts whose studies indicate that sending kids to “better” schools doesn’t guarantee better results.

Part of the answer is likely that the definition of “better” is based on outputs, like how high the test scores are at the school or what fraction of its students attend good colleges. That sort of metric ignores the fact that “better” schools tend to attract “better” kids. These are kids with strong families and good academic backgrounds. So even if the school is not at all good at adding value, it will still have the best outputs, because it had the best inputs. If the school does not have high value added, there is no reason to expect that a child who transfers there will do better than she did at her previous school. Parents don’t have good information on the inputs to a school, only the outputs, so it is difficult for them to accurately assess value added.

If this is an argument against school choice, it is a weak one. Parents should be able to choose what school their kid attends not because of the expected outcome, but because he is their kid!

In thinking about the broader implications of this research, it is important to bear in mind that the school choice program that Julie and Brian analyze is just one kind of school choice (albeit the most common one), operating within a single public school system. It differs from voucher programs or school choice across school districts, and increased competition may be more effective in those settings.

It is a very slippery slope to decide policy based completely on the predicted outcome without regard for the rights of the individual to choose. Here’s why…

In Levitt’s conclusions in his book, Freakonomics, he contends that the drop in crime rate of the 1990s was a result of Roe vs Wade. Essentially, many would be criminals from difficult socio-economic backgrounds were never born, and therefore never grew up to be criminals two decades later.

Assuming this is true, would it be a valid policy to require all mothers in stressed economic conditions to have ablortions? Would we set a policy to kill all babies born into difficult socio-economic conditions in order to reduce the crime rate later on? Of course not.

No matter the expected outcome, it is wrong to violate the rights of the individual to choose, so long as the choice does no harm to anyone else.

Sorry, but where we send our kids to school is none of anyone else’s business. Period.

Loving The New Smoking Ban

Today is such a great day. This new smoking ban is absolutely amazing and has enriched my life in ways I never thought possible.

Water tastes sweeter, the air smells cleaner, and my wallet is fat the sun is shining bright, but not so bright that it is causing unnatural warming–that’s coming from somewhere else.

It’s not that I’ve changed my dining, shopping, or work habits that makes today so great. It’s the fact that thousands of businesses across our great state have been forced to bend to my personal wishes.

Finally, popular opinion has won out over individual property rights, and people no longer have the power to decide what types of otherwise legal activities they will allow on their own property. What a great day for individual liberty!!!

And how lucky are we that we no longer have the right responsibility to choose what business we want to patronize based on their smoking policy. The State made this decision for us. One less thing to worry about. What a relief!

I have to ask again, how will this affect the number of DUI arrests?

I Hope Southwest Rethinks Their Policies

If they insist on continuing to refuse service to attractive chicks I’ll have to adjust my travel strategies.

Not that I really care about their stupid policy–they should be free to turn away whatever business they wish. But I’ll definitely think twice about driving all the way to Nashville to jump on a Southwest flight. I’m safe with my ugly ass friends, but traveling with the missus is risky because of her high level of hottivity.

If Southwest sincerely wants to go after the hot not market, they need to find the right celebrity spokespeople. Maybe Bea Arthur or Rosie?

New Aggregator at KnoxNews

This is cool, and needed. The News Sentinel continues to be way ahead of the curve as far as newspapers go when it comes to embracing its local blogging community. Not at all a bad business decision either, since they will be hosting blogs (and advertising) for others there. The site itself has a lot of features, but I doubt I’ll be using many of those. The aggregator is nice though.

I’m a big fan of aggregators for two reasons. First, they bring readers to your site that you may have a hard time reaching otherwise. Secondly, they are a great way to find new blogs and get a good sampling.

Luckily, I have the perfect spot for it in my theme. As soon as the bugs are worked out, I’ll be including it.

I Hate Powerpoint

And I hate Powerpoint presentations. I love the idea of Powerpoint, but its misuse/overuse disgusts me. There is waaaaay too much time spent making something look pretty for a presentation when the idea could easily be conveyed in a two sentence email.

If everyone felt this way, things may be different:

Tell me a problem that can’t be outlined in six minutes and I’ll show you a problem it’s probably not worth having a meeting about.

I’ll take that one further. Meetings should not be used to discuss and describe problems in an organization. That’s what email, intranets, wikis, blogs, reporting tools, etc. are for.

Intraorganizational meetings should be used to resolve problems that aren’t being resolved elsewhere. Period.

What Box?

“Thinking outside the box”

One of the more annoying phrases used in business, and a personal irratant for me. Jack Lail describes how the process usually progresses at a newspaper:

Some suggest a meeting. Others say do market research and analysis. Still others suggest a focus group. And before proceeding, we must review the potential impact on anything and everything else. After a near-endless series of meetings, task forces and planning scenarios, the thought of stretching passes and life continues apace in the box.

That pretty much sums up the way I’ve seen it work everywhere I’ve been, small companies excluded. As far as my personal opinion of outside the box thinking goes (at least at my current job), I’ll be happy when I see some thinking inside the box.

Anyone who is truly thinking outside the box doesn’t even realize the box exists.

In the KNS Today…

There is some pretty good stuff.

More of the same from Knox County Government with dissolved entities being funded by the County.

The state’s Charitable Solicitations Act mandates that all nonprofit organizations register — or file for a state-approved exemption — before seeking donations or grants, including government grants.

According to state records, there is no history of Knoxville Neighborhood Housing and Commercial Services Inc. registering or seeking an exemption to solicit donations or grants in the state of Tennessee, said Todd Kelley, director of the Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming.

Did the KNS have to dig through records to find this story, or do they have a source? Interesting. Like sands in an hour glass…

Illegal Immigrants are being unlawfully evicted from an apartment complex in Blount County.

Ramirez is pastor of the Church of God, Mountain Assembly in Maryville and a member of an ecumenical group of clergymen who minister to Blount County’s growing Latino community.

Hmm. Word on the street is that this may be only a partial job description. I’ll leave that up to the investigative reporters.

Someone is lobbying the federal government to save the penny for all of us who love it so.

Weller also said past polls have shown a majority of Americans favor the coin, which was first produced in the United States in the 1790s.

And just who does he happen to work for? A company with merely a passing interest…

The nation’s sole supplier of zinc “penny blanks,” Greeneville, Tenn.-based Jarden Zinc Products, is lobbying the federal government to protect its interests.

Yet Another Dead Wrestler

This time it’s Brian Adams, who was known as Crush when he was part of the tag team Demolition. This is happening way too frequently. The powers that be in pro wrestling have a reputation of chewing guys up and spitting them out–not really caring about what happens to them afterwards, but sooner or later this is going to come back to haunt them.

This is just bad marketing.

It’s sad that they will only be able to see the business side of what all of these deaths mean, but if those are the terms that get them motivated to try and change things, so be it.

Liberalism, Evolution, and Free Markets

A show of hands–who believes in evolution? Of those of you with your hands in the air, do you consider yourself liberal?

I’m talking about current day liberals here–those that consider themselves Democrats, or “on the left”, not classical liberals. Actually, I’d toss most of you Republicans into this group as well, although you can’t admit to yourself just how liberal you really are. But then again, you are, in general, less likely to support the idea of evolution.

Anyway, if you still have your hand up, I’m curious about something. I’ve wondered for a long time how liberal thought reconciles its unwavering belief in evolution with its political agenda.

I’ve noticed a lot of people with “Darwin fish” on their cars tend to have liberal themed bumper stickers on them as well. I’ve never quite understood how people who believe in evolution could be so supportive of subsidies, controlled markets, and nationalization (socialization) of services by the government.

A true free market economy is a perfect example of evolution in action. You can actually see the market evolve in the short term instead of over thousands of years. Without intervention from subisidies or market controls, businesses and people in a free market are forced to either adapt to current conditions or perish, just as lifeforms do according to the laws of nature. It truly is survival of the fittest.

In contrast, the liberal political agenda is centered around an attempt to constantly level the playing field. They have an overwhelming desire to make life fair for everyone, and to do so not by their own choices, but by requiring everyone to participate in instituting their idea of fair and equal.

So why do so many liberals have such a problem with free markets if they are so high on evolution? I’m guessing that their answer is that, as humans capable of rational thought, we should be above the laws of nature and able to institute structures that buck this system. But this answer relies on the assumption that present day is the ultimate species–the one that is finally able to control not only himself, but the entire world around him. If you believe that, then you believe we have stopped evolving and that evolution is a thing of the past and no longer exists.

You also haven’t been paying attention.

A quick look at the hours and days following Hurricane Katrina are all the evidence we need to realize that any such attempt to buck the system is only temporary and can become irrelevant in a very short time. The entire New Orleans economy became based on clean drinking water, food, etc. Suddenly, people were living in the real world, where the basics of survival took precedent over money, possessions, and social status. Remember, this was on a relatively small scale.

My belief in evolution is the number one reason I believe in free markets. The way I see it, we are going to be subject to this system at some point anyway–naturally. Any attempt to operate in controlled markets is a temporary and futile attempt at circumventing evolution. Whether the opponents of the free market like it or not, it is inevitably going to take control.

And it probably won’t be pretty. We’ll probably be trading for water, food, and medicine when it finally happens. And what of the people who have no direct access to these items and feel the situation isn’t fair? They will either adapt to their environment and find a way to procure what is needed for survival, or they won’t get the opportunity to pass along their genes.

I know that sounds mean and cruel, but that’s nature’s law, not mine.