The Arkansas Legislature does something right

By Ethan Nobles on 11:41 PM

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Whenever the Arkansas General Assembly is in session, the best advice for those of us in the Natural State is to pray hard that they don't screw anything up too badly.

The Legislature, as usual, made its typical array of tax-levying, budget surplus-wasting decisions. However, it did do one thing right -- HB 1339 got hung up in a Senate committee and never emerged. The legislators have all gone home now, so the session is over and it appears HB1339 is finished, too.

What is (or, actually, was) HB 1339? Part of the national movement by that National Popular Vote bunch to do away with the Electoral College. Under the terms of HB1339, Arkansas would be required to cast her votes in the Electoral College for the presidential candidate that won the popular vote.

The Arkansas House passed the bill (no surprise, really -- that group would pass legislation to build reeducation camps for conservatives if the national Democrats said it was a good idea), but got nowhere in the Senate. Yay for the Senate!

This most recent move to render the Electoral College moot goes directly back to the Bush/Gore election in 2000. It seems a lot of people are upset because Al Gore won the popular vote, but George W. Bush carried enough Electoral College votes to get in office.

The funny thing about all that outrage is that it's pretty circumstantial. John Kennedy (the secular saint of the Democrats) lost the popular vote back in 1960 but wound up in office, anyway. Yes, Richard Nixon carried the popular vote but couldn't hack it in the Electoral College. Was that result fundamentally unfair? I can't help but think the folks pushing for abolishing the Electoral College would find some rationale for that election being fine and dandy while the Bush/Gore one was an outrage in that the will of the people was flaunted.

Frankly, I'm fine with both of those contests and any presidential election resulting in the winner of the popular vote not getting in office. Why? Because abolishing the Electoral College dilutes my vote. That rotten old Electoral College was developed in the first place to give those of us in more rural states at least some ability to keep from getting run over by people in larger, urban areas.

Look at it this way. Every state sends two senators to Washington, D.C., and a number of representatives based on population. The purpose of limiting the number of senators to two per state rather than tying the number of senators a state could elect to strictly population was the notion that their is merit in a system that protects local interests. California and New York, for example, have much more sway in the House of Representatives than does Arkansas, whereas the field is leveled considerably in the Senate.

The Electoral College was developed along those same lines. Further, presidential candidates do bother to show up in smaller states such as mine and campaign and concentrate instead on those states that have larger populations.

The Electoral College, then, brings a bit of balance to the system -- larger states do have more influence in electing presidents, but the rights of voters in smaller states are protected, too. The system has worked out very well in most elections.

Is it worth throwing out the Electoral College in favor of going strictly with the principal of "majority rules" rather than recognizing those of us in smaller areas ought to have some influence, too? What Arkansan wants a law that states his or her state will simply cast Electoral College votes in favor of the majority regardless of how we actually voted?

I have a feeling this wouldn't be an issue at all had the tables been reversed in 2000 and Gore lost the popular vote but carried the Electoral College. I'm sure this issue will come up again and again until it passes the Arkansas Legislature. When that days come, those of us living in smaller states will come to regret that decision.

Viva la Revolucion!

By Ethan Nobles on 12:41 AM

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Our comrade and member of the All Arkie Army (New Jersey Division), the Crotchety Old Man, has made mention of a "Drop Free Friday."

To be fair, this Entrecard boycott was called for by Laane in this post right here (hey, let's give credit where credit is due). Regardless, the word's getting around as a lot of people are mad at the new paid ad policy put in place by Entrecard.

So, Crotchety is joining in the boycott by refusing to drop any cards today (Friday, April 10) as part of an effort to demonstrate just how irate some of us Entrecard members are. I'm good and mad, too, so I'll follow Crotchety over the cliff by refusing to drop any cards for this blog or the other two I've registered at Entrecard -- The Natural State Hawg and Straight Shooting Real Estate.

I'd encourage all furious Entrecard members to join the boycott. Gabba, gabba hey! Viva la revolucion!

Yes, you may be asking yourself, "What's all the fuss about?"

About a week ago, Entrecard unveiled its paid ad program. For those who are unaware of it, what that means is that people who pay for Entrecard ads share a widget with those who bought them with credits.

Take a look at that Entrecard widget on the upper, right-hand portion of this blog. If an Entrecard member "drops" a card there, we both get a credit. If that member then clicks on the ad there, he or she will pay a visit to the site that reserved that spot.

Until a week ago, the game was to save up credits and purchase an ad on Entrecard members' widgets so as to get more traffic. And the system has worked very well. I've met a lot of great bloggers through Entrecard and -- what's more -- I've been able to locate a lot of great, entertaining blogs in one spot.

"But, The Hawg," you might say. "Entrecard is selling paid ads because the company must make a profit to survive. What's the problem with that?"

In theory, there's no problem with that. Entrecard should be able to make some cash and pay the bills. However, the problem is that paid advertisers share that widget with the people who have done everything right. The people who have dropped cards, saved up credits and bought ads will now be rewarded with a reduction in traffic. Ads purchased with credits, after all, are only on Entrecard widgets half the time when it comes to those blogs that are accepting ads (The All Arkie Army accepts paid ads, whereas The Natural State Hawg and Straight Shooting Real Estate do not).

Ah, but there's more! Entrecard will start buying up credits with cash money, but the powers that be over there have let it be known that the good soldiers who accept paid ads will be given preference when it comes to selling credits.

In other words, the Entrecard folks are persuading people to accept ads. What will happen to the members that don't? Will they be unable to sell their credits? Will they be marginalized by Entrecard? That, folks, is anyone's guess.

I'd argue that the solution to this mess is simple -- Entrecard should develop a dual widget. One half would go for ads purchased with credits, whereas the other one would be for ads only. That suggestion has been made many times and I'd argue that it would allow for the best of both worlds. Members wouldn't be so reluctant to accept paid ads if they knew they weren't stiffing the loyal members who buy space with credits. Entrecard, meanwhile, would be able to boast about a higher ad acceptance rate and raise their rates accordingly.

Asking Entrecard to design a dual widget isn't asking for much under the circumstances. Perhaps a boycott is just what Entrecard needs to realize that a lot of members are upset and the service simply won't work without the support of bloggers.

There are other ways to get traffic, you know. Entrecard will be in a world of hurt if loyal members start searching around for alternatives.

A bunch of real estate articles...

By Ethan Nobles on 7:24 PM

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As I've harped about before, I was a newspaper reporter once upon a time.

Public relations might be more lucrative, but being a reporter had its merits. I miss it, in fact.

Luckily, my old friends at the Daily Record in Little Rock gave me the chance to freelance -- to write three real estate stories a week. I jumped at the chance. After all, how could I pass up the opportunity to make a little extra cash and get to use that long-dormant reporting skill?

"Oh, no," I can imagine you saying as your roll your eyes and groan. "That The Hawg fella is going to torment us with his latest batch of articles."

And you are absolutely right. Oh, don't groan too loudly. You might learn something. You might rub your chin and go, "Well, I'll be." You'll never know until you click, click, click those links and find out, will you?

Here they are:

* A profile of Benton Realtor Denise Hyde.

* An article on deed in lieu of foreclosure.

* An article on how county reassessments don't necessarily reflect the true market value of a home.


Want more real estate goodness? Click right here!

Y'all have probably heard about this, but...

By Ethan Nobles on 11:07 PM

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Here's one that's worth mentioning just in case someone missed it. Yes, the "ShamWow" guy got arrested for beating up a hooker.

That only gets funnier the more times you say it.

Enjoy the video and ask yourself, "What the hell was that guy thinking?"