People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Wal-Mart 1, Morons 0

From James Taranto, "Best of the Web Today":
Jobs? Keep Your Stinking Jobs!
The Chicago Sun-Times reports on the Windy City's War against Wal-Mart:

Eighteen months after the Chicago City Council torpedoed a South Side Wal-Mart, 24,500 Chicagoans applied for 325 jobs at a Wal-Mart opening Friday in south suburban Evergreen Park, one block outside the city limits.

The new Wal-Mart at 2500 W. 95th is one block west of Western Avenue, the city boundary. Of 25,000 job applicants, all but 500 listed Chicago addresses, said John Bisio, regional manager of public affairs for Wal-Mart.

As blogger Steve Bartin notes, "The morons who run Chicago don't appear to want jobs in the city of Chicago." (link)
Or the wad of tax revenue.

Idiots. The city of Chicago is run by idiots.

Why SW Virginia Is Losing Jobs To China

If I were to throw out the term Sarbanes-Oxley, the average reader would think I'm referring to some fungal growth that appears in the armpit that might need excising. It is that, and more. It is a parasite of Congressional creation that sucks the lifeblood out of Southwest Virginia's publically-traded businesses - and adds to the burden companies bear in their efforts to turn a profit.

When we talk about all the reasons we lose jobs here, we usually focus on the disparity between prevailing wages in the USA and those in, say, Honduras. What we don't often think of, and should, are the many hidden costs that companies bear in their attempts at complying with the law: Fees. Mandates. Regulations. So many regulations.

Like Sarbanes-Oxley.

And it's doing great harm.

Even Wall Street's best and brightest don't understand this. From Arthur Levitt, Jr. in this morning's Wall Street Journal:
A Misguided Exemption

Small businesses employ a majority of private-sector workers and create 60% to 80% of net new jobs annually. This economic might, combined with the sector's political muscle, has kept policymakers vigilant in spotting impediments to small-business growth. Currently, the focus of many small-business advocates is the perceived burden placed on them by Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which requires companies to assess and report the status of their internal controls. They worry that the cost of compliance is onerous, inhibiting their ability to access capital markets and grow.

The debate until now has centered on who should be exempted, not on how to ensure that companies have the internal controls needed to prepare reliable financial statements. This focus is unproductive since it is clear from a reading of SOX that Congress wanted all public companies to assess internal controls and have an outside auditor test them. Instead of defying Congress and provoking costly litigation, we need to work within the law to find ways to make compliance easier and less expensive for small businesses.

To start, we need to recognize the difficulties in compliance that turned up in the first year of 404-compliance. Many companies were ill-prepared for an audit: Their internal controls either were not in place or not documented, and many lacked accounting and finance staff able to do this work. At the same time, many of the audit firms lacked the tools, expertise and training to assess the internal controls of smaller companies. (link)
Mr. Levitt goes on to proclaim Sarbanes-Oxley to be a wonderful success because it restored investor confidence and argues, for that reason, that it needs to be strengthened.

Based on results thus far, most of that investment and those investors, it seems to me, are in China, where there is no transparency - and no Sarbanes-Oxley - whatsoever. And that's where the thousands of jobs that had belonged to workers here in Southwest Virginia now reside.

Some day people like Arthur Levitt Jr., with their best-of-intentions, are going to wake up to the fact that (... all of America's manufacturers have disappeared and that ...) there is a horrific cost associated with their swell ideas like Sarbanes-Oxley. That day will be too late for the employees at Lear Corporation and Bristol Compressors and Celanese and Tultex and all the other area employers that have closed their doors in the last few years.

We need to lessen the burden. We need to free up our employers so that they can compete in the global marketplace.

John Kerry Gets No Respect

Perhaps it was the story told about the young Lieutenant in the Mekong Delta who managed to wound himself in the backside when he threw a grenade at a threatening pile of "captured" rice. And then begged for a Purple Heart for his heroic action. Or, who knows, maybe it was our finding out that he calls his wife "lovie." And she lovingly refers to him as "you wienie; you poor substitute for a real man, John Heinz." Who really knows?

Whatever the case, John Kerry gets no respect these days. Even within his own party:
Kerry Urges Alito Filibuster, but His Reception Is Cool

WASHINGTON, Jan 26 — Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts could not attend the Senate debate on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. on Thursday. He was in Davos, Switzerland, mingling with international business and political leaders at the World Economic Forum [he better not have taken time out to go down to the topless bar; more on that in the next item].

But late Thursday afternoon, Mr. Kerry began calling fellow Democratic senators in a quixotic, last-minute effort for a filibuster to stop the nomination.

Democrats cringed and Republicans jeered at the awkwardness of his gesture, which almost no one in the Senate expects to succeed.

"God bless John Kerry," said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican on the Judiciary Committee. "He just cinched this whole nomination. With Senator Kerry, it is Christmas every day." (link)

If a Lieutenant leaps up, turns to his underlings and screams "Charge!" and nobody follows, is he still a 2008 presidential contender?

Poor Lurch. Perhaps its time he joined Al Gore in the business of making cartoons for little kids and simple-minded adults.

These People Must Live In a Closet

I have a confession to make. When I travelled to Columbus, Ohio this week on business, I had dinner at Damon's downtown. New York Strip. Carrots. Salad. Washed down with Kentucky's finest bourbon.

When I visited San Antonio a while back, I must confess to going down to an indoor rodeo honky tonk and watching the drunkards ride the mechanical bull.

In El Paso I played golf.

In Bristol I went to a NASCAR race.

Detroit - a Pistons game.

And I won't even put in print what I did at the Circus in Cleveland on numerous occasions.

I did all this while on company business. And I find out from the New York Times editorial staff that I was not supposed to have done any of it.

Or so they would have us believe:

Justice and Junkets

Justice Antonin Scalia certainly has poor judgment when it comes to vacations.

Justice Scalia was apparently unchastened by the criticism of his 2004 duck-hunting excursion with Vice President Dick Cheney, one of that term's most prominent Supreme Court litigants.

Last September, he skipped the swearing-in of Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. because of another ethically dubious trip, this time to the posh Ritz-Carlton at the Beaver Creek ski resort in Colorado.

He was there to teach a 10-hour seminar over a couple of days for a conservative group, the Federalist Society.

"Nightline" recently reported that the gig had left Justice Scalia plenty of time for tennis, fly-fishing and socializing with seminar participants, some of whom may have business before the Supreme Court.

Justice Scalia's travel is part of a broader affliction on the federal bench. (link)

How dare Justice Scalia travel to Denver and teach a class for free? (his travel and accommodations were paid for by the Federalist Society). And tennis? What's he thinking?

These people at the Times always crack me up, in this case feigning indignation over Antonin Scalia going fly-fishing. "Socializing with seminar participants." Shoot the bastard.

And they can count on their useful idiots to ... well, to react idiotically:

Three Democratic senators with a longstanding concern about this problem — Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Russell Feingold of Wisconsin and John Kerry of Massachusetts — are readying provisions to ban junkets and other compromising gifts for judges, which they hope to make part of their party's lobbying reform proposal.
I'm going to google Ted Kennedy later when I have the time. I remember seeing a photo of him struggling mightily to hoist his fat ass up the ladder of his sailing ship (yes, folks, he was in swimming trunks; a haunting experience), a "junket" that I'm sure I'll find referenced in some Times editorial denunciation.

So was that bourbon I consumed taboo? I get so confused trying to understand and adhere to the edicts that emanate from the cloistered monastery - otherwise known as The New York Times editorial boardroom - these days.

Oprah Ain't No Fool

Realizing her reputation was taking more of a pounding than was that of the lyin' connivin' author she had made famous, Oprah unceremoniously but confrontationally threw him over the side yesterday:
Live on 'Oprah,' a Memoirist Is Kicked Out of the Book Club
By EDWARD WYATT, The New York Times

In an extraordinary reversal of her defense of the author whose memoir she catapulted to the top of the best-seller lists, Oprah Winfrey rebuked James Frey, the author of "A Million Little Pieces," on her television show yesterday for lying about his past and portraying the book as a truthful account of his life.

"I feel duped," Ms. Winfrey told Mr. Frey. "But more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of readers."

It was a stunning bit of drama that had people throughout the publishing industry glued to their television sets yesterday afternoon.

The confrontation on Ms. Winfrey's show was the culmination of events that began with a report on Jan. 8 by The Smoking Gun, an investigative Web site, that found multiple discrepancies between Mr. Frey's life and his account in the book. (link)
Damage control at its finest.