Friday, April 27, 2007

embracing mediocrity

From the desk of Superintendent Propaganda:
This week we announced that 77 percent of our eighth graders had “met” or “exceeded” expectations on a new statewide writing test. At first this may sound like a rather average percentage, and not much to brag about, but this is a brand new statewide writing test. Students typically do worse on the administration of a new test, especially one that has toughened its standards. So, 77 percent was not unexpected. But it gets more interesting when you compare the performance of Cobb’s students to the passing percentages of metro Atlanta school districts (69 percent) and the statewide average (67 percent). Suddenly, you begin to see what an outstanding performance it really was.
Oh yes, it is absolutely outstanding. Thanks for the pat on the back. Only 77% of our students could pass a test that has been so watered down so that illiterate people could pass it. No, really, I've seen the rubric. If I can manage to get a copy into pdf format, I'll include a link.

To be honest, if you consider that probably more than 23% of the students in the county are non-English speaking then having some of them that can pass it is actually somewhat astounding.

Friday, April 13, 2007

nappy-headed ho

Here's your real nappy-headed Ho!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

liquor in the front, poker in the rear

Excerpt from today's AJC: (story here)

The raid on a home on Nesbit Ridge Drive near Centennial High School capped a six-month investigation into the operation, which police said charged players $10,000 to enter the weekly, Monday night games of Texas Hold'em and other games.

Roswell police Sgt. B.C. Brackett said that when officers entered the house overnight, they found players gambling around three tables in the basement of the house.

Those arrested were "from all walks of life," Brackett said. At least two men arrested were from out of town, one from Savannah and the other from Macon, he said.

Two women hired to serve drinks were among those arrested.

Officers also impounded more than 20 cars parked along the street outside the house. The investigation began after neighbors complained about traffic in the otherwise quiet neighborhood.
Oh my God! Did you make sure you read what the police discovered when they came in?

"when officers entered the house overnight, they found players gambling around three tables in the basement of the house"
Holy craps table, Batman! I hope they brought the SWAT team in for this one! (Sadly, they probably did.)

I enjoy a good poker game with friends from time to time. We tend to put up $10-20 to buy in, mostly because people bet somewhat more cautiously than when there's no money on the line making it a more realistic game. It's somewhat less fun when someone goes "all in" with a pair of five's and could care less when they get booted from the game. I guess that's all going to end the moment the fuzz finds out.

How is having a high-stakes poker game at your house the business of the government? No business is making money. Everyone has likely already paid taxes on the money that is exchanging hands so the government has gotten "their share." (Actually, the gov't lost tax expenditures, but this isn't a lesson in accounting/econ.)

Seriously, what's the big deal? So John came with ten grand, left with 100 big ones. Why is this anyone's business besides that of John and the poor saps who lost 10k?

It's not. Plain and simple.

But the real issue for government is that they're not getting their share of something that has been deemed a vice. And as we all know, vices must be taxed to hell. God forbid anyone have any fun in this country without paying their dues.

For example, did you know that in many states, especially Georgia, a beer/wine/liquor manufacturer may not under any circumstances sell any of their product to consumers? What!? Can't sell to the people who want to buy it? No. In Georgia and other states, it seems that the distributors have the politicians in their back pocket to ensure that they have a "monopoly." But surely there must be multiple distributors? Yes, and no. You are only allowed to do business with one distributor, they get to distribute your product as much or as little as they would like. See Atlanta Brewing Company as an example. After much struggle they were finally allowed to sign with a new distributor and now they are finally gaining a bit of traction in the local market. What could be the reason for what most economists would consider really bad marketing strategy?

It's for the kids! We have to protect the children! OMG, what if a child consumed an alcoholic beverage? They'd probably end up autistic (everyone's favorite pet disease for their children these days, along with all of it's derivatives like Asperger's, etc.) or they might get behind the wheel of a bicycle and do some real damage.

No, the real issue is that distributors have a guaranteed job and government gets to tax every drop of sweet nectar that's sold. The manufacturer has to pay taxes on the ingredients, on the income from the sale, on hiring labor; the distributor pays taxes at least on labor and income if nothing else; so does the retailer; and finally, the consumer pays a god-awful liquor tax when they purchase it. How many different taxes end up being paid on the same damn item? The short answer is too many. And to be honest, no one really pays the taxes but the end consumer. From the retailer all of the way up to the ingredient supplier, all of the taxes get rolled into the next guy's price until there is no next guy. That'd be you Mr./Ms. Consumer. So how much tax ends up getting paid by the consumer? Once again, the short version is too much, mostly because anything they earned as income from working to buy the 6-pack already got taxed to hell to begin with.

So at the end of the rant, what's the message? Is it that poker games between friends should be perfectly legal? Yes and no. Is it that alcoholic beverages should be taxed less? No. It's really an issue of pointing out that there is an easier way for government to make sure they get their money. A method that doesn't make criminals out of honest friends, doesn't end up totally screwing the end consumer, and one that practically eliminates government's need to know everything about everyone's business to begin with.

Well, cross off that last one, I don't think we'll ever get that lucky even with the FairTax. There's always fetuses to save, gay sex to stop, and more money in your wallet than the gov't knows what to do with.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

ha ha, april is here!

When I got around to logging into gmail to check my e-mail today, I actually took a second to pay attention to what was to the left of the login box. Gmail is always touting their new features and some of them have actually been somewhat useful, in some cases almost as useful as 2GB of free e-mail storage space. But I am absolutely ecstatic about the newest addition to the offering lineup! Check it out, it's Gmail paper! Remove the impersonality of e-mail by having them all printed and shipped to you, completely free of charge! Google always has the cure for what ails ya'! Now only if I hadn't been an idiot thinking $100/share was the most retarded IPO asking price for an internet company since 1999.