Archive for February, 2006

A healthy climate

February 28, 2006

The Tax Foundation has a new State Business Climate Tax Index showing that Wyoming has the most business-friendly tax climate and, surprise, surprise, New York has the worst. If you go to the bottom and click on the attached pdf file, you’ll learn that Indiana is ranked No. 11, which ain’t bad. The better news (for us, at least) is that nearby Ohio and Kentucky are both in the bottom 10.

Examples of companies choosing states due to favorable tax systems are plentiful. A recent example, from July 2005, is Intel’s decision to build a multi-billion dollar chip making facility in Arizona due to its favorable corporate income tax system. California struggles to retain businesses within its borders because Nevada provides a low tax alternative. Anecdotes such as these reinforce what we know from economic theory, that taxes matter to businesses, and those places with the most competitive tax systems will reap the benefits of business friendly tax climates.

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Gone with the wind

February 28, 2006

Well, they’re dropping like flies, aren’t they? After the deaths of Don Knotts and Darren McGavin, Fort Wayne blogger Left of Centrist did a very nice post, with photos, of all the 1960s television stars who have died lately. And he did a new post to cover the loss of Dennis Weaver.

People die all the time — that’s our story, isn’t it? —  and one generation always gives way to the next. But it has affected us more since the dawn of mass communications. Our leaders and mentors and role models and entertainers don’t die alone, the dispatches making it across the sea in a few months or a couple of years. We are all part of each other’s lives. We’ve gone through the deaths of most of our first generation of mass-entertainment stars — the John Waynes and Bob Hopes and such who came up in the 1930s and ’40s. Now we’re in the middle of the second-generation deaths.

I hate to slam another hard-working local blogger, by the way, but if you read Left of Centrist, you’ll notice that he is somewhat obsessed with the Beatles (second-generation stars, half gone). When I was in high school, there was always one group that asked, as if it mattered, "John or Paul, who’s the best, John or Paul?" I ran with the crowd that usually answered either, "What does it matter on the planet where the Rolling Stones rule?" or, "The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind."

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The name game

February 28, 2006

Know a guy named Kweku Akan? Maybe you do, but just don’t know that you do:

Although his name change has been official for only about three months, Kweku Akan (pronounced kway-koo ah-kahn) knew years before he would leave behind the name Carl Johnson.

It was 1999, and Akan was walking through slave dungeons during a visit to the West African country of Ghana. He said this was the birthplace of Magualla May, the oldest traceable ancestor of Akan’s family, who was brought to America as a slave.

Akan, 50, director of the Weisser Park Youth Center and a Fort Wayne Community Schools board member, said when he returned home he announced he would change his name.

People will change what they feel they have to in order to align their self-image with the way they want the world to see them, whether it is habit or clothing or name. But I have to wonder if they aren’t sometimes trying to make the wrong point or make it in the wrong way.

One thing we all have in common is that none of us got to pick our names. Whether they were slaveholders who gave their own family names to abductees, or immigration officials who changed the names they couldn’t pronounce or spell, or silly parents who wanted to honor a nearly forgotten ancestor, our namers were dealing with their own realities in the best way they could, in the process sticking us with names we would have to cope with. And it is who we become and what we do with our lives that give our names meaning. "Kweku Akan" may feel at peace with himself and proud of his African ancestry, but it is Carl Johnson who has made his mark on Fort Wayne as director of the Weisser Park Youth Center and a Fort Wayne Community Schools board member.

I was born "Leonard" but sometime in high school decided I would like to be called Leo and, mostly, the people I know have gone along. My father never did get it, though, and I finally learned to stop correcting him. Half the people at my last high school reunion called me by the old name, and I cut them some slack, too. I have likewise stopped worrying about waitresses who call me honey, telemarketers who call me sir and blog flamers who say I am a real ass.

If you click on "About Leo Morris," you’ll see that I define myself a moderate conservative with strong libertarian tendencies and a few liberal skeletons in the closet. That doesn’t begin to describe my political complexity, but it’s a lot closer than conservative or libertarian or any other single term. It’s one thing to think about what you believe and say you might lean one way or another. It’s another to adopt that description — you then start looking at the world that way. What is the liberal answer, or the conservative one? The minute you label yourself, you have limited yourself. I am who I am, I believe what I believe, I do what I do. What you call me is your problem, not mine.

I had a friend in high school — his name was Jim Johnson, interestingly enough — who got deeply into Buddhism, even went back to school in his 40s and got a degree in it. He changed his name to something-or-other Raines as a way of celebrating the experience. I’m not really sure what he was trying to prove or whom he was trying to prove it to, but I’m pretty sure Buddhists worry more about their internal experiences than the external reactions to them. And he’ll always be Jim Johnson to me, whyever he was named that.

But, as I’ve said, that’s my problem, not his.

Be who you are, Carl/Kweku, and do what you do. Just don’t let a label define you.

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Look it up

February 28, 2006

If you do research on the Web and want to get beyond basic googling, here’s a site you should bookmark. Compiled by Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute, it’s a wonderful list of hot links to research sites and tools. It’s being used by a lot of journalists to do research, and now you have it, too. Don’t go there if you’re easily sucked in unless you have a lot of time to kill.

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My land is my land

February 27, 2006

Maybe the eminent-domain backlash from the Kelo decision is only the beginning:

Tempers also are growing short over the use of “regulatory takings” – government-imposed rules that deprive owners of the full use of their property without compensation. Such takings, which amount to eminent domain by the back door, were in the spotlight at the Supreme Court last week, where oral argument took place on a pair of cases emanating from Michigan.

The first involves a Midland developer, John Rapanos, who has been fined millions of dollars for filling in three parcels of property alleged to contain wetlands. The second involves developers June and Keith Carabell, who were prevented from building a 112-unit condominium complex in suburban Detroit after regulators determined it might jeopardize the “navigable waters” of the United States.

Is it possible? Could the concept of private property be resuscitated?

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Dirty politics

February 27, 2006

I guess there are worse things our legislators could be wasting time on than direct wine shipments:

Georgia has an official amphibian, crop, folk dance, insect, peanut monument, ‘possum and vegetable.

This year it might get an official type of dirt.

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Snappy slogans

February 27, 2006

Both Indiana and Fort Wayne are spending money to come up with snappy slogans in order to entice the tourists. Doubt that either one will top Australia’s:

Australia launched a new A$180 million ($133 million) advertising campaign on Thursday which seeks to attract international tourists by swearing at them.

"Where the bloody hell are you?" asks the new campaign launched by Australian Tourism Minister Fran Bailey.

Bailey said the campaign will target potential tourists in China, Japan, India, the United States, Germany and Britain and would be rolled out in the next few weeks.

Australia’s last highly successful tourist magnet was the "throw another shrimp on the barbie" campaign. So, what do you think? Throw another meatloaf in the microwave? Or, Why the —- do you keep driving around us?

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It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad wayne

February 27, 2006

Today’s quiz: The great American director Raoul Walsh suggested a new name for actor Marion Morrison because he had just been reading about which American Revolution general?

Answer: "Mad" Anthony Wayne, for whom the second-largest city in Indiana was also named. For reasons that aren’t recorded, "Anthony" was replaced with "John," and The Duke and Fort Wayne became forever entwined.

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Another stupid dead kid

February 27, 2006

Some people will attribute this death to the dangers of air-guitar, some will call it yet another side-effect of the worry about secondhand smoke. I say a mattress manufacturer needs to be sued.

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Another life salvaged

February 27, 2006

I know some of you rightwing, fascist, law-and-order types out there will be in a snit over this decision:

ALAMOGORDO, New Mexico (AP) — A 16-year-old convicted of killing his family on newsman Sam Donaldson’s ranch was sentenced Thursday as a juvenile and ordered held in state custody until he turns 21.

State District Judge James Waylon Counts ruled that the state failed to prove Cody Posey could not be rehabilitated — the overriding factor in sentencing him as a juvenile.

Prosecutors had wanted the teen sentenced as an adult, which could have put him behind bars for 50 years.

But stop and think a minute. There is a 100-percent chance of rehabilitation. This young man will never, ever kill his family again — guaranteed.

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Vote early and often

February 27, 2006

If you can’t wait for the May primary, Indiana Parley has some reporting from the Allen County Republican Convention (including some audio posts) and is running a straw poll on the sheriff and commissioner races.

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Doctor dilemma

February 27, 2006

We should be allowed to expect certain standards of behavior from the professionals we depend on. Our accountants should not declare bankruptcy. Our lawyers should not end up in jail. Our mechanics should not get stranded and have to call AAA. Our therapists should not be caught naked in the middle of Main Street babbling about the Martian invasion.

Our physicians should not die.

Mine has — Dr. Daniel Tritch, of a heart attack at 63. It happened a week ago Sunday, but I was out of the office and not looking at obits last week; I just learned about it when I got home yesterday and found a letter from his medical practice. To say it was a shock is putting it mildly. For one thing, he’s the only primary-care physician I’ve had since I moved back to Fort Wayne more than 20 years ago. For another, he was a good guy.

Among his many other fine attributes, Dr. Tritch had the decency to be older than me. When you start noticing that certain people are routinely younger than you — doctors, police officers, teachers — it upsets your notion of how you fit into the delicate balance of life. Dr. Tritch’s practice sent me photos and short bios of three doctors who are accepting patients, and naturally they are all noticeably younger than me. The one I eliminated right away from consideration was the one whose photo looked like it belonged in a high school yearbook. Call me an age chauvinist, but I imagined myself being examined by him and wondering if he was rushing me through it so he could go home and get ready for the junior prom. One down, two to go.

I don’t have a therapist, by the way, though this could well drive me to it. Assuming, of course, it is possible to find one who takes the Martian threat seriously.

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Punch drunks

February 27, 2006

Say I have myself a little vegetable garden, and I want to make a little money from it. I can’t compete with the mega-farms, so I decide to specialize, getting really good at, oh, tomatoes and cucumbers. I set up a stand at the farmer’s market, developing a mailing list of my best customers. I start shipping to some of them directly. Then the Supreme Court comes along. Some tomato- and cucumber-growers in Ohio, forbidden to ship to customers in Indiana, have cried discrimination. You’re right, the court says. Out-of-state tomato and cucumber growers can’t be treated differently from in-state ones. The state now has two choices. It can forbid all direct vegetable shipments or permit them all. Though it has a long history of letting Hoosier gardeners do direct mailings, for some inexplicable reason it goes the other way. The gardeners sue.

The legislature is persuaded to intervene on behalf of all backyard tomato- and cucumber-growers, which would also benefit the lazy pea- and onion-growers who haven’t been paying attention, but never mind that. But at this point, the vegetable wholesalers speak up. If backyard gardeners are allowed to ship directly, Wal-Mart will come along and snap up all those vegetables dirt cheap, allowing Wal-Mart customers to get such bargains that all those tomato and cucumber middlemen will be out of jobs. The chief vegetable-watcher in the legislature, otherwise known as the Senate president pro-tem, suddenly realizes that there is pending litigation and kills the bill.

Now, should we consider all the convoluted maneuvering over this issue any less silly and oblivious of common sense because it is about wine instead of vegetables? It isn’t only Hoosier legislators who seem punch drunk on wine — they’re going through it in Kentucky, too.

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JonRod

February 24, 2006

You think it’s kind of scary that a lot of people get their "news" from the late-night comedians and "The Daily Show"? You don’t know the half of it:

CBS) CHICAGO Gov. Rod Blagojevich said that he didn’t realize it was all a big joke when Comedy Central’s "The Daily Show" came to do a segment on him recently, a segment that, among other things, made fun of his last name and suggested he might be gay.

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Cartoon cowards

February 24, 2006

William Bennett and Alan Dershowitz, who probably don’t agree on much else, join forces in a column calling the American press’s reluctance to print the Muhammad cartoons an abdication of responsibility:

What has happened? To put it simply, radical Islamists have won a war of intimidation. They have cowed the major news media from showing these cartoons. The mainstream press has capitulated to the Islamists — their threats more than their sensibilities. One did not see Catholics claiming the right to mayhem in the wake of the republished depiction of the Virgin Mary covered in cow dung, any more than one saw a rejuvenated Jewish Defense League take to the street or blow up an office when Ariel Sharon was depicted as Hitler or when the Israeli army was depicted as murdering the baby Jesus.

So far as we can tell, a new, twin policy from the mainstream media has been promulgated: (a) If a group is strong enough in its reaction to a story or caricature, the press will refrain from printing that story or caricature, and (b) if the group is pandered to by the mainstream media, the media then will go through elaborate contortions and defenses to justify its abdication of duty. At bottom, this is an unacceptable form of not-so-benign bigotry, representing a higher expectation from Christians and Jews than from Muslims.

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Parents of the year

February 24, 2006

My first inclination was to call this another piece of evidence on state-sanctioned gambling’s weakening of our morality:

EAST CHICAGO — The father of her children was inside the casino and Keisha Clark worried he was going to gamble their money away.

That was why Clark parked her car at the Resorts Casino garage and left her three children in it, the 24-year-old mother told police later.

She believed she was away from them for only 20 minutes.

But Sunday was one of the coldest days of the year.

I suspect, however, that this mother and father would have found a way to screw up even without those particular dens of iniquity.

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Cheese with the whine

February 24, 2006

State Senate President Pro Tem Robert Garton, after killing the wine-shipment bill because it is a matter of litigation: “We just try to avoid creating winning and losers,” he said. “We are not the judicial branch of government.” Ha, ha, ha, ha, ho, ho, ho, ho, heh, heh, heh, oh, please, stop it, you’re killing me. Cheese and rice, what a comedian.

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Pretty ugly

February 23, 2006

We celebrate beauty all the time, so it seems only fair to saulte 10 of the ugliest things ever created by human beings. I was especially struck by this one:

6) Ugly Sculpture – I had to Google heavy duty for this one. No matter what variable of the words ugly, horrible, unsightly and sculpture I used in the search, I kept coming up with this one. Once again, it’s a product of those silly 20th century socialists trying to prove how superior their society was, this time in Slovenia.

AsculptureThis is what the world’s ugliest sculpture looks like. If you want to see the runner-up, just drive around the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. If you don’t think the white one out front qualifies, just keep driving until you see the orange one they’ve tired to hide.

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Port noise complaint

February 23, 2006

Though I’m still trying to make up my mind on the controversy over a United Arab Emirates company being allowed to manage six U.S. ports, I have to say I’m inclined to support the Bush administration. I’ve had a lot of problems with Bush, especially his decidedly unconservative approach to domestic policies, but his commitment to the security of the United States has always been and always will be his strong suit. We’re now going to start listening to his critics on security issues? Please. Just read these editorials in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times and decide which one sounds the most sensible. The very fact that Tracy Warner and Cal Thomas agree that it’s a bad idea ought to worry us just a little bit.

Certainly the administration’s handling of the issue, as with Hurricane Katrina, Cheney’s hunting accident and so many other things, demonstrates a certain political tone deafness. But keep your eye on the ball. Some are, some aren’t.

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Terror’s shift

February 23, 2006

Some clear thinking on what we need to think about in the war on terrorism:

The premise of his book is that in this age of terror, there is a potential need for such devices as profiling, preventive detention, anticipatory mass inoculation, prior restraint of dangerous speech, targeted extrajudicial executions of terrorists and preemptive military action including full-scale preventive war.

In his own words, from his Introduction: "The shift from responding to past events to preventing future harms is part of one of the most significant but unnoticed trends in the world today. It challenges our traditional reliance on a model of human behavior that presupposes a rational person capable of being deterred by the threat of punishment. The classic theory of deterrence postulates a calculating evildoer who can evaluate the cost-benefits of proposed actions and will act — and forbear from acting — on the basis of these calculations. It also presupposes society’s ability (and willingness) to withstand the blows we seek to deter and to use the visible punishment of those blows as threats capable of deterring future harms. These assumptions are now being widely questioned as the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of suicide terrorists becomes more realistic and as our ability to deter such harms by classic rational cost-benefit threats and promises becomes less realistic."

The book, believe it or not, is by Alan Dershowitz.

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March of freedom

February 23, 2006

Well, this doesn’t bode well for our efforts to marginalize tyrants and encourage democratic movements, does it?

Nearly half of South Korean youths who will be old enough to vote in the country’s next elections say Seoul should side with North Korea if the United States attacks the communist nation, according to a poll released Wednesday

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A big, old happy world

February 23, 2006

I’d like to see a variation of that "first baby of the new year" feature newspapers are always running to honor the 6,500,000,000th person born on Earth Saturday. How many people can the Earth support? Short answer: As many as there are. Every since Malthus, various "experts," such as Paul Ehrlich, have been predicting that overpopulation would eventually exhaust the world’s resources. They’ve been wrong every single time, but people still keep paying attention to them.

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Fat chance

February 23, 2006

Has anyone else noticed all the Bariatric-surgery ads on TV? It’s apparently big business, with central Indiana hospitals in the forefront:

The number of obese in the United States continues to rise and so does the popularity of surgical weight loss options. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that in 1998 surgeons performed 13,365 Bariatric procedures. By 2010 it’s predicted that surgeons will perform 218,000 Bariatric surgeries.

"The surgeries are profitable. There is no question about that but as a non-profit hospital they take that revenue and put it back into other programs," said Kim Peters, St. Francis hospital program manager.

I understand that gastric-bypass surgery might be the best or even only option for some morbidly obese people. But, still, there’s something creepy about the growing popularity of a procedure that basically reroutes the body’s internal processes as a sustitute for diet and exercise. For some reason, I’m reminded of all those "get your house in order" shows my sister likes to watch on the Home & Garden Network. These organizers come into a messily out-of-control house and show people what they can throw away and how they better store what’s left, resulting in a showplace home with lots of walking-around space. Then the organizers go away, congratulating themselves on a job well done. Every time, I think, "But you’ve left the same messy people there, who will make the house a wreck again in two weeks."

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In plain view

February 23, 2006

This seems like a no-brainer to me:

Police investigating a credible report may legally enter outdoor private property and seize evidence of a crime if it is within public view, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled.

The ruling Tuesday stemmed from an animal neglect case but could have wider implications.

The U.S. Supreme Court does not prohibit "reasoanble" warrantless searches, so I not sure what new ground the "wider implications" refer to. Here’s the Indiana Law Blog’s report of the case, which includes a link to the decision.

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Our own

February 22, 2006

How many stories did you read or see on TV about the 13 miners traped in West Virginia? How many have there been about the 65 in Mexico? Just asking.

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