The Locker Room

January 06, 2011

New Carolina Journal Online exclusive

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:47 PM

Anthony Greco's latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features new lawmakers who plan to take their oaths of office in hometown ceremonies before the Jan. 26 opening of the new legislative session.

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Basnight championed open government?

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 3:33 PM

News & Observer before:

This inglorious tradition also is open to abuse by powerful legislators with pet causes who seem to think they should be able to treat the state budget as if it were a personal checkbook. Governor Hunt would put his veto pen to good use if he made it clear that he will not sign a budget that has unrelated laws in it. Better, though, would be a law sponsored by Senate leader Marc Basnight and new House speaker Jim Black to guard against the excesses and secrecy found in the use of special provisions.

Budget flimflammery
24 February 1999
What is not justified is Basnight's position that he can make decisions by himself, involving the possible expenditure of state money, that ought to be made by legislators collectively. The legislative process may be frustrating and unwieldy at times, but it is the only way for projects large and small to be debated in the public arena. To avoid setting a troubling precedent, Basnight should immediately put the aquarium matter back on the legislative agenda where it belongs.

A senator's say-so
10 November 2003
When push comes to shove, here's how the final push to assemble a state budget works these days: Several lawmakers sensitive to the wishes of Senate leader Marc Basnight, House Speaker Jim Black and Governor Easley -- all Democrats -- cloister themselves on the sixth floor of the Legislative Office Building. They decide what will go into the annual revenue and spending blueprint and what won't.

Budget secrecy
3 August 2005
Not to mention that the budget was crafted largely in secret and that a final version wasn't released until Monday night -- giving the General Assembly at large only a small window of time to study it. In the end, House Speaker Jim Black and Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight decided what was to be what. Not a pretty sight, and not an appropriate one. Black and Basnight should have seen to it that the budget was fully debated, front and center, in both chambers and at length.

Good, bad, ugly
10 August 2005
The fact is, if Basnight really favors more open government, a goal he has indeed championed in the past, then he ought to help end special provisions. Having budget items out there in public, subject to debate and review, is part of openness -- rather than having them slipped into the budget by a leader in the dark of night.

Editorial/Opinion, says he
25 May 2006
News & Observer after:
To his credit, another cause Basnight championed was open government. And North Carolina's good public records and open meetings laws are a testament to the wisdom of transparency. In that and other areas, the wisdom of Marc Basnight was evident as well.

Basnight's long trail
5 January 2011

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Quote of the day

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 2:53 PM

"Once the majority of the governed becomes convinced that it is necessary and possible to change the form of government and to replace the old regime and the old personnel with a new regime and new personnel, the days of the former are numbered...The force to which the government resorts in order to make refractory spirits compliant can be successfully applied only as long as the majority does not stand solidly in opposition."--Ludwig von Mises, Liberalism, 1929.

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Biden's fetish

Posted by David N. Bass at 1:31 PM

Conservatives, apparently, have a U.S. Constitution fetish. But Vice President Joe Biden, apparently, has a no-dates-until-you're-30 fetish with young, blonde women. Which is weirder?

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New Carolina Journal Online exclusive

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:30 PM

Anthony Greco's latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features incoming N.C. Senate Finance chairman Bob Rucho's comments about efforts to speed the resolution of the state's tax refund backlog.

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Making History

Posted by Amanda Vuke at 12:41 AM

The 112th Congress has already made history on the day after their swearing-in. They read the entire Constitution aloud. Something that has never been done before. It took them less than and hour and a half. Not bad, especially considering every paragraph was another "I now yield the floor to Gentleman/woman ____ from _____." Of course, hopefully the House wasn't just going through the actions in an effort to appease Americans with words they have no intention of keeping. Hopefully, the new rule that legislation must be shown how it is Constitutionally justified before Congress will consider it will help keep a check on things. No matter which way things go - whether they keep their promises or not - will certainly prove to make an interesting session.

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Our latest Prohibition

Posted by George Leef at 12:17 AM

It's that horror the incandescent light bulb. Read the Washington Times editorial here.

If Congress does not have constitutional authority to compel us to buy products we don't want, why does it have the authority to prevent us from buying products we do? The light bulb ban would cause Madison to turn over in his grave just as much as the insurance mandate.

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Senate agriculture, environment chairs named

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:54 AM

From Sen. Phil Berger's office:

Rouzer, East to Chair Committee on Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources

Raleigh, N.C. – Senate Republican Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) announced today that upon convening the 2011-2012 session of the General Assembly he will name Sen. David Rouzer (R-Johnston) and Sen. Don East (R-Surry) as Co-Chairmen of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources. Sen. Brent Jackson (R-Sampson) will serve as Vice Chairman. Additionally, Sen. Rouzer and Sen. East will serve as Co-Chairmen of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources.

Sen. Berger said, “I am proud to announce we will have strong leadership in the Senate for this crucial aspect of our state’s economy. Senators Rouzer, East, and Jackson have the right ideas for shaping policy on agriculture, the environment, and natural resources.”

“Agriculture is North Carolina’s number one industry contributing more than $74 billion to our state’s economy and accounting for approximately 17 percent of the labor force. Every citizen of this state benefits from our agriculture industry and the proper stewardship of our natural resources,” said Sen. Rouzer.

Sen. East said, “Wisdom and vigilance will be necessary to ensure that we preserve both the industries that have traditionally made our state strong as well as the natural resources that have made it a wonderful place to live.”

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Obama: OPEC's cartel enforcer

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 09:50 AM

The per barrel price of oil is over $90 and headed north. And as is being reported in the Wall St. Journal the global oil cartel known as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has something to do with that. OPEC has not increased its output quotas since January 2009. The key to any successful cartel is control of supply and the key to controlling supply is keeping competition out of the market. In this regard OPEC has it made. President Obama has, either intentionally or unintentionally, become OPEC’s cartel enforcement agent. By banning nearly all new oil exploration in the United States, both on and off shore, from Alaska to the Gulf, the Obama Administration is sheltering OPEC from competition and allowing it to restrict supply and raise prices. Coincidentally, or maybe not, this policy dovetails almost perfectly with the President’s radical environmentalist agenda. He gets the effect of a CO2 tax, namely higher gasoline prices, while not having to take the heat for directly raising taxes. In turn this translates into an implicit subsidy for electric and hybrid vehicles and fuels like ethanol. In the mean time the President will get to point his finger at the greedy, money grubbing oil companies. All-in-all it’s a win-win-win situation—OPEC wins, Obama wins and the environmental pressure groups win. Heck, it looks like the only losers are the economy and American consumers.

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Dean gets it completely wrong

Posted by George Leef at 09:44 AM

Howard Dean may be able to diagnose medical ailments, but his diagnosis of the "tea party" is laughably mistaken. He claims it's the "last gap of a generation that can't deal with diversity."

Excuse me, Dr. Dean, but that's pure blather. What we have a problem with is political authoritarians (of all parties) who constantly whittle away at our liberty and property. Diversity has nothing whatsoever to do with it.

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Elizabeth leaves John nothing

Posted by David N. Bass at 09:20 AM

Elizabeth Edwards made no mention of John in her will. I'm shocked.

In a last will and testament filed Dec. 22 in Orange County Superior Court, Elizabeth Edwards named Cate Edwards, a lawyer and her eldest child, executor of her estate.


"All of my furniture, furnishings, household goods, jewelry, china, silverware and personal effects and any automobiles owned by me at the time of my death, I give and bequeath to my children," the will states.

I'm equally shocked that former Edwards' slave (err, aide) Andrew Young was cut out of the will, too.

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Is education in for revolutionary change?

Posted by George Leef at 09:15 AM

In this thought-provoking essay Gary North argues that our massive public education systems are in for dramatic change. He likens them to print newspapers.

Education, North says, was initially "small" (family-centered) then it went "big" with government involvement, and will go "small" again as people realize that "big" education is extremely costly and ineffective and discover that there are more effective, lower cost options.

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Simon/Ehrlich Wager, Redux

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 09:10 AM

Don Boudreaux has challenged UC-Berkeley professor Brad DeLong to a wager similar to the famous 1980 Julian Simon/Paul Ehrlich wager.  (See his letter below)

Simon bet Ehrlich that the prices, adjusted for inflation, of five metals would decrease over ten years. Simon won that bet because he knew that price increases cause conservation and substitution that lead to price decreases.  For example, a lot of copper has been replaced by fiber optic cables made from sand.  (See the wikipedia entry here and the link in the "P.S." to Don's letter below.)



I wonder if Delong accept Boudreaux's challenge? 

Prof. J. Bradford DeLong
Department of Economics

Dear Brad:

Happy 2011!

I write to you as one of your recent nominees (the others being my former student Mark Perry, and New York Times‘s science writer John Tierney) for “stupidest man alive.”  (I win this contest, by the way, because I’m certain that both Mark and John are a heckuva lot smarter than I am.)

Being stupid, I’m an easy financial mark for persons smarter than myself.  So here goes: let’s make a bet very much like the famous bet that Julian Simon and Paul Ehrlich made in September 1980.

Because of inflation, I propose that the wager be larger than the Simon-Ehrlich amount.  How about $2,500?  And I offer to you terms similar to those that Julian offered to Ehrlich.  Like Ehrlich, you can choose whichever bundle of five or more raw materials you like, and choose which (professionally respected) means to be employed for adjusting nominal prices for inflation.

The bet will be for a duration of at least ten years, but no longer than 15 years.  (You choose.)

If I win (fat chance, I know, given the pinto beans I have for brains) you will contribute 2,500 (tax-deductible!) U.S. dollars to the Department of Economics at George Mason University.  If – er, when – you win, I’ll mail you a check for $US 2,500.

Shall we wager?!


P.S.  I add here, for the record, that I agree fully with my colleague Alex Tabarrok’s assessment of the Simon-Ehrlich bet.  Still, I’m willing – as was Julian – to bet on real prices as a good-enough proxy for human well-being.


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The silly "eat local" crusade

Posted by George Leef at 08:17 AM

Recently I was behind a vehicle sporting a bumper sticker that admonished readers to "Eat Local!" Another way of putting that is that people should discriminate against food producers who happen to be located somewhere that isn't "local." Well, the driver of that car ought to be free to practice such discrimination if he wishes (as well as to advocate that others do so), but I refuse. I'll go right on purchasing food that wasn't produced in Wake County.

Liberty Fund has just published this essay which explains why the "eat local" crusade -- and some want to extend it beyond mere admonitions with legislation -- is foolish.

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York compares Pelosi's, Boehner's introductory speeches

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:09 AM

Byron York's latest Washington Examiner article documents the different approaches John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi took when given the opportunity to turn power over to the opposing party in the U.S. House:

A look at the two speeches -- Pelosi introducing Boehner and Boehner introducing Pelosi -- shows striking differences.  Boehner's 2007 speech, coming after Republicans were trounced at the polls in November 2006, was self-effacing, gracious, and non-partisan. Pelosi's 2011 speech, coming after Democrats were trounced at the polls in November 2010, was self-serving, sharp, and partisan.

Start with Pelosi introducing Boehner.  The outgoing Speaker began with some boilerplate about the importance of the occasion and then turned to a subject she has addressed many times in the past four years: herself. ...

Contrast that with Boehner's speech introducing Pelosi on January 4, 2007. It was about 40 percent shorter and began with Boehner celebrating Pelosi's achievement as first woman Speaker. "Today marks an occasion that I think the Founding Fathers would view approvingly," he said.  "And my fellow Americans, whether you are a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent, today is a cause for celebration."

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:56 AM

Anthony Greco's new Carolina Journal Online exclusive describes a "perfect fiscal storm" that could lead to major changes in property tax rates. 

John Hood's Daily Journal explains why North Carolina needs "no more Marc Basnights."

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