Chairman Mao had his Red Brigades -- hordes of young people who unquestioningly believed his assertions that certain people were "class enemies" and thus justifiably treated with hatred and violence.
The American Left has similar hordes. Those people have been told that certain Americans are their enemies and they dutifully hate and evidently relish the possibility of doing violence them. For evidence, check this out.
A dumbed-down education system combined with a hyper-politicized country is dangerous.
You might be a progressive if you believe that the wealth you want for social programs simply materializes for politicians to send where it's needed.
This column by Victor Davis Hanson observes that such a belief is false. He writes, "We have forgotten what wealth is -- and how tenuous our grip on the good life is. Riches are created by educated and skilled workers who directly translate natural resources into commodities that make life easier."
I'll add that if people manage to do that efficiently, they earn wealth for themselves, but then make themselves the targets of politicians who want to exploit their wealth to gain votes.
Yesterday, a letter writer in the N & O expressed concern about a judge being able to shoot down ObamaCare all by himself. He asks:
How can an individual, judge or no judge, declare this to be
unconstitutional? No person should have that much power in this
country. Why do we need a legislative branch in our government if a
judge can strike down whatever does not appeal to him or her?
I see this letter as an important teachable moment in how our government works:
1) There are three branches of government designed to provide checks and balances over each other. This ensures that one branch doesn't become too powerful.
2) The judiciary has something called judicial review, which gives it the power to interpret laws and to declare laws unconstitutional.
3) We certainly wouldn't want Congress to decide whether laws it has passed are constitutional. That would be a pointless exercise and grounded in politics, not an impartial interpretation of the Constitution.
4) The legislative branch has the power to makes laws (that's a good reason to have them), but if they go too far and pass a law that is unconstitutional, the judiciary can step in and declare that law unconstitutional.
5) One judge won't be the final decision-maker as to what is constitutional. Cases can be appealed to federal courts of appeal where multiple judges hear cases, and the Supreme Court may hear an appeal too (Although it is rare for the Court to hear appeals. When it comes to the ObamaCare case, the Supreme Court certainly will hear the case).
The Obamacare litigation is an example of why the judiciary is so important in this country. Further, it shows why the judiciary must interpret laws not based on personal preferences but on the law. While some may dispute the definition of judicial activism, to me, it is a judge developing an opinion not in any way grounded in the law but out of personal policy preferences. This is why it is very important for judicial activists to be excluded from the bench. If ObamaCare is shot down, it should be based on its constitutional flaws, not on policy problems with the bill.
Meanwhile, Becki, the state director of Americans for Prosperity is taking Golden LEAF chief Dan Gerlach to task for his efforts to save foundation funding.
Here are excerpts from an e-mail AFP state director Dallas Woodhouse has sent to legislators:
Here is a person paid with taxpayer money from the tobacco settlement, engaging in a high priced game of taxpayer funding lobbying. He is attempting to “sick the dogs” on you because on behalf of the taxpayers of North Carolina you dare to protect core services by intercepting the tobacco settlement funds.
The past 24-48 hours have made me sick to my stomach as Mr. Gerlach, has tried to cut any deal, fund any program and do anything he could so save the Golden Leaf slush fund. I am sure Golden Leaf has funded some worthwhile projects, (projects that could have, and can be in the future funded directly by the General Assembly through the normal funding process) but no one person should have this much control over hundreds of millions dollars.
It seems to me in laymen’s terms that the Golden Leaf Foundation is attempting to persuade (or bribe) you with taxpayer money.
It is an offensive and a corrupt process. Several lawmakers held “big check” delivery events in the months leading up to the November elections. With the election returns, it appears the projects have shifted in priority. I personally believe that since the November election, Golden Leaf has been scrambling to spend as much money as possible in republican held districts to shore up support for the foundation.
The Golden Leaf Foundation operates too far out of public sight, lacks transparency and accountability.
As the budget, debate moves forward I hope you will pay close attention to this unfair process of taxpayer funded lobbying by the Golden Leaf Foundation.
Senate takes up SB 13, Balanced Budget Act of 2011. Details on the bill were reported in CJOnline.
Senators Richard Stevens (R Wake), Neal Hunt (R Wake), and Peter Brunstetter (R Forsyth), the Chairs of Senate Appropriations Committee sponsored the bill.
Sen. Doug Berger (D Franklin) presented an amendment to protect corporate welfare and Golden Leaf. The amendment takes Golden Leaf, One NC, and JDIG out of the bill. Berger claims that we need the money to create jobs. Sen .Walters (D Robeson) and Clark Jenkins (D Edgecombe) joined in sponsoring the amendment. They said this $75 M goes to create jobs. They also expressed concern about a raid on Golden Leaf - never thought the new majority would do this. (seriously? Did they sit out the Nov election?). Jenkins claimed we need bi-partisan support for job creation.
Sen. Stevens says phooey, defeat the amendment.
Sen. Jenkins (D Edgecombe) says Golden Leaf has balance of $600 M and the projects have been good - in his county, Edgecombe, every high school student has a computer that were provided by Golden Leaf. No surprise then, he supports the amendment.
Sen. Walters (D Robeson) talks job development - funds critically important. Sen. Pete Brunstetter (R Forsyth) says that to say this grinds economic development is untrue. Different philosophy – Republicans serious about getting the state finances in order.
Sen. Josh Stein (D wake) talks about global economy, commitments that Commerce Dept. has made, trust of long term deals. Sen. Dan Blue (D Wake) says he doesn't like incentives but thinks its a way to provide jobs. Says all of this is one time money (I would anticipate a regular diversion of the annual $70 M going to Golden Leaf. - an ongoing diversion until Golden Leaf is dissolved)
Sen. Harry Brown (R Onslow and Senate Majority Leader) says nobody feels good about this list but we have to start somewhere to bridge the $3.7 B shortfall. Tough decisions have just begun. Growing jobs is about de-regulating business. Sen. Floyd McKissick (D Durham and recently elected chair of the Legislative Black Caucus) says "we" have to replace all these jobs we've lost. Small businesses have grown to large businesses and we have to have incentives. All the other states have them. We are No 1 in Site Selection Magazine . These are not the places to look to save money. Need this $75 M to grow the economy.
Sen. Bob Rucho (R Mecklenburg) says good to know "our friends on the back row" are now interested in jobs. The democrats were the ones who led the state down this road – who spent us to death. A good incentive is lower tax rates, create a fair playing field is what will create jobs. This is a pathway to see how to put an economy together. Really gives it to the former majority party's reckless spending for years. Quit crying now. We were elected to put this state back together and that's what we're doing. Sen. Martin Nesbitt (D Buncombe and Minority Leader). He'll turn the other cheek for now but he's ready to lead this state forward. Says this amendment is a very small piece and will cost us millions in economic development.Sen. Doug Berger said his counties were smoking/tobacco dependant counties and this is raiding Golden Leaf. Penny wise and Pound Foolish.
President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R Rockingham) says the debate has been about whether we should have incentives. The amendment does not eliminate Golden Leaf or incentives. Can lawfully divert the diversion in an emergency and that's what the bill does - doesn't take any money that is encumbered. Need to do it now. If payment goes into Golden Leaf it's a different story. Have to do it now $75M will go along way. Freshmen Sen. Buck Newton (R Wilson) said we have to make these tough decisions and Sen. Gladys Robinson (D Guilford)
supports economic structure in place.
Doug Berger Amendment fails:18 yes; 30 no
Debate on bill continues with Sen. Dan Clodfelter (D Mecklenberg) who likes the bill and agrees we need to start attacking the budget shortfall. Doesn't like giving authority to executive branch.
Vote on bill: 30 yes, 18 no
Stevens objects to 3rd reading for technical changes and possible late report that one of the line items may be encumbered. Bill will be taken up again Monday night to cleanup those changes.
Here is what Cato's Roger Pilon answered Politico's question about the claim that this winter's blizzards and cold support the global warming hypothesis (excuse me -- consensus!):
A scientific hypothesis that's essentially unfalsifiable -- cold corroborates "global warming," heat corroborates it, nothing really falsifies it -- is worse than useless. It's a scientific poseur, properly classified as a belief system, like religion. And the implication that there's an optimal earth temperature, or range of temperatures, or that global warming is destructive, not possibly beneficial, is just further evidence that there's more going on here than pure science.
Throw in beliefs about the human contributions to "global warming" and the policy recommendations that follow -- massive shifts toward wildly expensive command-and-control energy systems, the effect on the world's poor notwithstanding -- and the politics of the matter come into view. Let's remember that Al Gore, who never missed an opportunity to expand government, was once an ethanol evangelist, a posture he's recently admitted was connected mainly with presidential politics in Iowa -- now that ethanol has been shown to have negative environmental consequences. Frankly, I'll stick with Punxsutawney Phil.
When they came for the hair braiders, I did not complain because I did not braid hair. When they came for the hot dog vendors, I did not complain because I did not sell hot dogs....
Traffic signals in Raleigh seem deliberately timed to cause the most aggravation and frustration for drivers. I have no desire for more traffic signals. But if I try to do some work to confirm my views, I might be accused of engineering without a license.
David Cox probably does not agree with me on the question of traffic lights, but he is facing sanctions because he tried to prove his case for two new traffic signals to accompany expansion of Falls of Neuse Rd. The News and Observer
After an engineering consultant hired by the city said that the signals were not needed, Cox and the North Raleigh Coalition of Homeowners' Associations responded with a sophisticated analysis of their own.
The eight-page document with maps, diagrams and traffic projections was offered to buttress their contention that signals will be needed at the Falls of Neuse at Coolmore Drive intersection and where the road meets Tabriz Point / Lake Villa Way.
It did not persuade Kevin Lacy, chief traffic engineer for the state DOT, to change his mind about the project. Instead, Lacy called on a state licensing agency, the N.C. Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors, to investigate Cox. ...
Cox has not been accused of claiming that he is an engineer. But Lacy says he filed the complaint because the report "appears to be engineering-level work" by someone who is not licensed as a professional engineer.
DOT's complaint does not appear to be that Cox and company performed inadequate work or did not prove their point. It is an attack against Cox for questioning the work of government employees and intruding on a protected class.
Tom Woods has become one of the most effective libertarian critics of our bloated and increasingly tyrannical state. Jeff Tucker of the Ludwig von Mises Institute comments here on his new book Rollback. I haven't yet gotten a copy, but I have a strong feeling that the book delivers a crushing blow to the mythology that keeps so many people in the thrall of big government.
Students of North Carolina history — especially those who’ve participated in the Citizen’s Constitutional Workshops developed by the John Locke Foundation and N.C. History Project — know that North Carolina initially rejected the U.S. Constitution. This state accepted the document only after the federal government considered the amendments that later came to be known as the Bill of Rights.
Among the factors Maier identifies is North Carolina’s Regulator movement, and its “fight against corrupt county officials who were appointed by the royal governor and his council and whose ‘highest Study,’ critics charged, was ‘the Promotion of their Wealth.’”
Though the Regulators’ battles had predated the Revolutionary War, many North Carolinians still remembered them by the late 1780s:
North Carolina’s relatively democratic 1776 state constitution did much to address the insurgents’ demands for greater control over those who ruled them, and its declaration of rights affirmed the right of the people “to assembly together, to consult for their common good, to instruct their Representatives … to apply to the Legislature, for redress of grievances”; it said the people “ought not to be taxed, or made subject to the payment of any impost or duty, without the consent of themselves, or their Representatives in General Assembly, freely given.” Still, memories of the Regulation — or, more exactly, the grievances that prompted it — made many North Carolinians acutely conscious of how much their welfare depended on being governed by officials who were accountable to the people, under laws written by legislators who knew the circumstances of their constituents and who might even be, as the Regulators had insisted, farmers themselves. Having suffered from the twin scourges of corruption and collusion, the people of the Piedmont understood with particular force the need to prevent them in the future. And having had more than enough experience with litigation, they also grasped the importance of juries drawn from the local population and a ready access to the courts. The Regulators had managed to secure the creation of four new western counties mainly to make trips to county courts less long and onerous. The Constitution too often ran up against those sensitivities.
Regular readers of this forum know that taxpayer-funded high-speed rail makes no sense for North Carolina.
Michael Barone assures us that the idea hasn't worked for the Chinese, either. Barone quotes an American economics professor working in Beijing:
“The problem is that high-speed rail is expensive both to build and to operate, requiring high ticket prices to break even. The bulk of the long-distance passenger traffic, especially during the peak holiday periods, is migrant workers for whom the opportunity cost of time is relatively low. Even if they could afford a high-speed train ticket — which is doubtful given their limited incomes — they would probably prefer to conserve their cash and take a slower, cheaper train. If that proves true, the new high-speed lines will only incur losses while providing little or no relief to the existing transportation network.”
Jon Ham is asking why a state struggling with a multibillion-dollar budget hole would hire a recently unemployed congressman to oversee an office that had completed 95 of its work by the time its previous boss stepped down last November.