By CHRIS PACKHAM
Wal-Mart has pulled its annual convention of flabby, middle-management retail drones out of Kansas City because we don't have a hotel that can accommodate 8,000 people in the continental breakfast/complimentary body-wash manner to which they've become accustomed. Apparently, this represents a loss of 8 million imaginary Americos to Kansas City, some of which local businesses had already factored into their budgets.
For dismayed business owners rebalancing their books, here's a hardcore accounting tip straight outta the Compton of auditing methodology: Those dollars are just as imaginary now as they were last week. As long as your budget includes anticipatory fantasy dollars, I say why not imagine even more pretend money? If anything, a pleasant reverie involving fat stacks of spendjamins, flashy private jets and lowriders with expensive height-adjustable hydraulic suspension systems will stave off depresson, or — best-case scenario — make them magically appear, à la The Secret. Other than that, I've got nothing. The wondrous Middle Earth alternate universe of your small business' finances is foreign to me, like Dungeons & Dragons.
After the jump, some stuff about Missouri prisons, and some area teens learning important lessons about recreational drinking. Click here, or on this Ronnie James Dio album cover that appeared when I typed "elf accountant" into Google Images:
The beer bong is for mature adults only: Forty percent of teens get alcohol from adults they know, according to a survey of underage drinkers. But considering that the grown-ups are the ones who make, sell and regulate all of the liquor, they're ultimately responsible for all the teenage drinking, if you think about it. The 60 percent of teenage drinkers who are able to eliminate the adult middleman in any transaction aren't distilling their own grain alcohol. Sure, for the right price, I'll bring some eighth graders a six-pack of Keystone. But I actually do think it should be the responsibility of the parents — who, if they host, will "lose the most," according to a rhyming billboard I saw on the way to the airport. If kids don't get their Mike's Hard Lemonade from their own mom and dad, they're just going to be getting it from the MySpace predators, so it's really for their own safety, like seatbelts and not huffing Pledge lemon-scented wood polish.
A whole lot of holes behind a whole lot of Rita Hayworth posters: The Justice Department reports that Missouri is the only state with a prison population decline over the last 18 months. That's either great news or a harbinger of society's impending descent toward a dystopian omega point of Bartertown fights to the death. I don't have children, so I really don't give a damn which way it plays out, frankly. And considering that the approximately 2.3 million inmates trading one another for cigarettes and fermented toilet-tank pruno in America's prison system represent less than one percent of the total population of the United States, I say: Just go ahead and release all of them, and let's spend the money we would have blown on their three-plates-a-day of saltpeter and rudimentary health care on something really fun and irresponsible, such as exciting underwear or a new bathroom.
Turning our attention from Missouri's prison population decline to media coverage of Missouri's prison population decline, public radio is, predictably, all over the story — it's got everything an NPR producer could dream of: people so downtrodden that they had to be locked up in jail, agonizingly dull statistics, a Europhile's reflexive observation that America is responsible for a quarter of the entire world's prison population. And yet the story Dan Verbeck filed at KCUR 89.3 is so aggressive in its syntactic and grammatical slop that I wondered momentarily if he'd run it back and forth through the Babelfish French-English translator a few times. Look, I'm not just trying to be mean — the disfigured second paragraph begins, "One thrust changes data given judges about an offender's risk factors, judges who will sentence them." Also, according to this one totally OCD copy editor I know, quotes from interview subjects are generally enclosed in quotations marks. But Dan Verbeck is a rebel, and he rejects your precious rules, AP Stylebook.