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Recent Comments

Re: “Roy Reed hospitalized, in coma

Oh my. I wish for the best outcome for him and his family. Mr. Reed is a no-shit guy. He was a clarifying, stern teacher of journalistic standards and deeply influenced his students. I very much appreciate his post-retirement work (there is so much of it!) that have given us deep perspective on Arkansas and national history. His wife is a wonder unto herself. I'm pulling for you, Mr. Reed.

11 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by mag on 12/10/2017 at 2:10 PM
Posted by mag on 12/08/2017 at 11:06 AM

Re: “Arkansas in spotlight on HBO in documentary on meth scourge

Side note, slightly off-topic, to Louie There's a hidden way to exploit employees that I became aware of several years ago one that many employers appear to know. Let's say you run a copy shop such as a Kinko's. Your employee, Bud, is a regular pot smoker. Bud abstained for a while five years ago so he could pass your mandatory drug test and get hired. Then he resumed his daily pastime of smoking, after work. But if he loses this job, he'll have to deny himself that pastime for long enough to pass a drug test again at a new workplace. (Bud's co-worker who DRINKS a case of Bud every day after work doesn't have a problem at all.)

The employer doesn't have to go to the expense of drug testing his existing work force. The company only has to state that it can if it wants; anytime. Bob gets to calculate the risk of continuing to smoke pot.

Now tell me, once the boss catches on to who uses pot, who gets to take the shit hours such as opening and closing or working on a holiday? Right, it's Bud. Bud never complains. He works the hours given him. He's consistently willing to please. His after-work habit doesn't seem to impair his job performance, so the boss just gains the advantage of knowing he can get Bud to do just about anything needed. The company doesn't have to give many pay raises because Bob won't complain. He also knows that if the company doesn't want to give Bud a raise or it wants to get rid of him altogether, all it has to do is surprise him with a drug test.

Don't get excited. I know Bud has made a choice to smoke pot and knows the consequences thereof. I just found it an interesting dynamic in the workplace, once it was told to me, that gives an employer one more tool with which to leverage advantage over his employee. The only way this could be unfair under our present laws is if Bud is using pot therapeutically, as an alternative to pain medication. I hope all Buds can get a medical marijuana card (even if they're just recreational users) and ask for a raise or change jobs. I hope workplaces do make an exception for medical marijuana use but I don't know if those laws have even been anticipated.

By the way, I'm management, not labor; but the hypothetical Bud doesn't work at my workplace. And I don't smoke pot but I don't mind if other adults do.

19 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by mag on 11/27/2017 at 7:10 PM

Re: “Mass killings and domestic violence, a correlation

The Air Force is going to have to answer for this: According to NYT just now, the killer, while in the Air Force, assaulted his stepson so severely that it fractured the child's skull and then "pled to doing it intentionally." He also assaulted his then-wife.

He was sentenced ... to 12 months' confinement and reduced to the lowest possible rank. After his confinement he was discharged from the military with a bad conduct charge. (NYT)

A Dishonorable Discharge is a felony. The USAF did not give him one! They gave the lighter Bad Conduct discharge. This masked the domestic violence conviction. Such a domestic violence conviction, under federal law, would have prevented him from passing a background check to buy a gun.

So - what the hell, Air Force? By any lights, this man committed a felony crime that should have been on his record and followed him all his life!

I know that he could have obtained an AR-15 another way (thanks, NRA). I know that the USAF actions did not CAUSE or ENABLE this mass murder. But let's start with branding a felon with a felony record!

3 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by mag on 11/06/2017 at 2:42 PM

Re: “Happy cities list: No Arkansas winners but a big loser in Fort Smith

Follow the money, I say.

Nowhere can I find the full, actual list of survey questions asked in this particular ranking. National Geographic used the data collected by a Gallup poll and "indexed" it for 15 criteria to determine "well-being." Max has quoted some of the criteria above.

I'm not sure how those criteria were weighted, but surely financial security of the individual is one of the most important factors.

Refer to the U.S. Census and the far more frequently updated Bureau of Labor and Statistics for job/income statistics and they will show great changes in the last 10 years in the kinds of jobs on offer in Fort Smith; namely the decline in what were reliable manufacturing jobs. Huge factor: the 10-year, gradual and then complete departure of Whirlpool (a unionized plant), once the region's largest employer. In 2006 Whirlpool employed about 4,600 people. By 2012, 0. This departure also wiped out many related supplier companies and jobs.

Currently the top five employers in Fort Smith, ranked, are
Sparks Health System - 2,400
Baldor Electric Company - 2,393
O.K. Industries - 1,800
Fort Smith Public Schools - 1,783
Mercy Hospital Fort Smith - 1,487

Seen any volatility, lately, in 3 our 5 of those biggest employers' categories, healthcare and manufacturing? Any reason to feel shaky, uncertain?

Let's throw numbers 6-9:
Rheem Manufacturing - 1,157
University of Arkansas - Fort Smith - 951
ArcBest Corporation (ABF) - 936
City of Fort Smith - 900

Down the list, the number of employees per company drops under about 1,000 but are mostly either manufacturing or healthcare related.

Now, consider that the median household income currently, is
Fort Smith $36,777;
Little Rock, $62,561;
Arkansas median household income is $40,531 (IN A RANKING THAT INCLUDES WALTONS);
U.S. $59,516.

So in the 49th-poorest state overall (including with Waltons), second-largest city Fort Smith has a mean income slightly under the whole state's.

Arkansas as a state overall ranks 49th in U.S. state median income (thank God for Mississippi) once again.

MSA size:
1. Little Rock-NLR-Conway
2. Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers (plus bordering Missouri county)
3. Fort Smith (3 Arkansas counties plus two bordering Oklahoma counties)

Which one of those areas is a unicorn compared to the whole nation? NWA. Home of the world's most ambitious and successful retail monster corporation, NWA kicks the ass of the whole state for opportunity, population growth and, likely, "happiness."

On the same list this news story is about, here are the national rankings of those three areas:

29. NWA or Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Lowell, Bentonville
174. Little Rock area
189. Fort Smith area
There's the gap between NWA and the rest of us.

State rankings of "happiness" in the same survey:
46. Arkansas
(Thank god for)
47. Indiana
48. Oklahoma
49. Kentucky
50. West Virginia

"Happiness," I posit, is very, very related to income and income opportunity.

12 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by mag on 10/29/2017 at 2:40 PM

Re: “Judge orders state to provide information, legislative testimony in Fayetteville civil rights suit

Justice! It's so heartening to see it in process.

11 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by mag on 10/16/2017 at 5:54 PM

Re: “Puerto Rico: Trump's Katrina

You've got to love the logic. Had Puerto Rico possessed a modern electrical grid, the hurricane would still have destroyed it. The end result is the same.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by mag on 10/01/2017 at 6:55 PM

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