Archive for April 4th, 2010

I don’t know what’s more laughable, the fact that some EU bureaucracy is creating an 80-minute poem (with dancing, no less), or that the “low-grade bank clerk” who masquerades as the European Council President is going to publish a a book of haiku poems. But only one item is objectionable, and that’s the latter since it represents a mind-boggling waste of tax dollars. The EU Observer reports:

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) wants the EU’s human rights charter recast as an 80-minute-long epic poem, accompanied by music, dance and “multi-media elements”. …The Vienna-based agency has opened a process of contracting a poet to devise a composition based on the articles of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and hire a company of performers to accompany a presentation of the poem with music, a dance interpretation of the piece and “multimedia elements”, as well as what the tender refers to as “etc.” …Since speaking with the FRA, the page advertising the tender has since disappeared from the agency’s website. A copy of the tender document has however been saved by EUobserver. The development comes as European Council President Herman Van Rompuy announced this week he is to publish in April an anthology of his three-line Japanese haiku poems.

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Teaching Math in 1930:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1950:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

Teaching Math in 1970:
A logger exchanges a set “L” of lumber for a set “M” of money. The cardinality of set “M” is 100. Each element is worth one dollar. Make 100 dots representing the elements of the set “M.” The set “C”, the cost of production contains 20 fewer points than set “M.” Represent the set “C” as a subset of set “M” and answer the following question: What is the cardinality of the set “P” of profits?

Teaching Math in 1990:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

Teaching Math in 2010:
By cutting down beautiful forest trees, the logger makes $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the trees? There are no wrong answers.

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My previous post dealing with whether citizenship should be automatic for babies born to illegals generated a lot of commentary, so it is with some trepidation that I wade back into the issue. But the Wall Street Journal column excerpted below seems to strike exactly the right chord and should (at least I think!) meet with approval from both sides of the immigration debate. And by “both sides,” I’m referring to the debate on the right (with some conservatives and libertarians on both sides of the issue) regarding the benefits of immigration generally and the treatment of illegals specifically.

…a larger welfare state is not conducive to comprehensive immigration reform. If foreigners start coming for handouts instead of economic opportunity, tighter restrictions will be justified. … A 2005 World Values Survey found that 71% of Americans see poverty as a condition that can be overcome by dint of hard work, while only 40% of Europeans share that viewpoint. …Belief in social mobility has informed welfare and immigration policy from colonial times. In 1645 the Massachusetts Bay colony was already barring paupers. And in 1882, when Congress finally passed the country’s first major piece of immigration legislation, it specifically prohibited entry to “any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge.” A problem that immigration reformers face is the public perception—fed by restrictionists and exacerbated during economic downturns—that the U.S. welfare state is already a magnet for poor immigrants in search of government assistance. It’s true that the U.S. attracts poor people, but it’s also true that they come here to work, not to go on the dole. We know this because the data consistently show that foreign nationals in the U.S. are more likely than natives to be employed and less likely than low-income natives to be receiving public benefits.  …While there’s no evidence that immigrants come here for public assistance, that could change as the U.S. welfare state grows. And one consequence could be less-welcoming immigration policies. The European experience is instructive. In countries such as France, Italy and the Netherlands, excessively generous public benefits have lured poor migrants who tend to be heavy users of welfare and less likely than natives to join the work force. Milton Friedman famously remarked, “you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state.” There is a tipping point, even if the U.S. has yet to reach it.

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