The Locker Room

December 1, 2010

New CJO exclusive: Wake schools have no luck selling Jim Black's property

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:00 PM

David Bass' latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive recounts the Wake County public school system's unsuccessful efforts to sell land acquired in a deal that resolved a state fine against former N.C. House Speaker Jim Black.

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More GOP figures to watch

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:32 PM

While Fred Barnes is focusing attention on GOP rising stars who are not (yet) running for president, National Review's Duncan Currie is highlighting the potential impact of four newly elected Republican governors.

Since the Buckeye State's governor-elect was once my congressman (back when I was in high school), I'll excerpt this blurb:

Governor-elect John Kasich has signed Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge (thereby vowing not to support tax hikes), as has incoming Ohio house speaker Bill Batchelder. Both are rock-ribbed conservatives. Kasich, 58, first gained national recognition during his tenure as House Budget Committee chief during the Clinton years, and he later worked as a Fox News host. Addressing a luncheon of lobbyists and special-interest bigwigs just days after his election, he delivered a stern warning: “We need you on the bus, and if you’re not on the bus, we will run over you with the bus. And I’m not kidding.”

... Buckeye conservatives hope that Kasich will become Ohio’s Chris Christie: an aggressive budget-slasher prepared to confront the unions.

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Barnes looks ahead to the GOP contest in 2012

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 12:56 AM

Fred Barnes calls the potential Republican presidential contenders "duller and less interesting" than the current GOP stars. He discusses the issue in more depth for The Weekly Standard:

Ask yourself these questions: Would it be more illuminating to talk to Mitt Romney, age 63, or Representative Paul Ryan, 40, about cutting spending and reforming entitlements? Would it be more interesting to chat with Haley Barbour, 63, or Bobby Jindal, 39, about maximizing the power of states? Would it be more stimulating to meet with Marco Rubio, 39, than with any of the presidential candidates?


Those three aren’t the only Republicans who are overshadowing the presidential candidates, just the youngest. The most sought-after speaker at Republican events anywhere in the country is Governor Chris Christie, 48, who has mounted a popular assault on New Jersey’s tax-and-spend culture. The governor whose state has fared the best over the past decade is Rick Perry of Texas, 60, elected to a third term on November 2. The era of Texas as America’s most prosperous and influential state has begun, social critic Joel Kotkin wrote recently, replacing the era of California. It happened on Perry’s watch.

One thing Ryan, Jindal, Rubio, Christie, and Perry have in common is they’re not running for president.

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Sharp comment on the fetish over graduation rates

Posted by George Leef at 11:08 AM

At the EduBubble blog, there is a very sharp comment on the fetish over graduation rates. The supposition among many is that a high graduation rate indicates good educational quality, while a low rate indicates bad quality. The writer takes issue with that. I particularly like this paragraph:

Let me propose this theory: a low graduation rate is proof that schools are doing a better job of helping kids find a stable adult life. In other words, those who can do, those who can’t sign up for another degree program and abdicate responsibility to the education industrial complex. The schools are filled with rudderless grad students and Post Docs waiting for some school to give them another assignment. In contrast, the lists of drop outs from for-profit schools are filled with people who found gainful employment in air conditioner repair, retail, computer maintenance or any of the 90%+ of the jobs that don’t really require a BA.

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Free or equal?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:40 AM

The Free to Choose Network is releasing a documentary film tackling that question. Max Borders offers more detail:

Here are some points I'm particularly proud of:

  1. Our Producer and Director Jim Taylor worked very closely with Cato Senior Fellow Johan Norberg to develop the concepts and themes. Paradoxically, the collaboration shows off Jim as a classical liberal thinker and Johan as a writer for the screen. 
  2. The film is unashamedly pro-market while being fair-minded. That's a tough balance to strike. 
  3. Two important themes emerged during the film's development: the power of free markets and the limits of income equality as a social goal. Hence the title: "Free or Equal"
  4. Jim and Johan were able deftly to weave in relevant highlights of the original Free To Choose series both to celebrate the masterful insights of Milton Friedman as well as to expand on them. This never appears forced, in my opinion. It's seamless and manages to celebrate Friedman's legacy without over-sentimentalizing.
  5. Johan is a natural on camera. Though English is not his first language, he is a sympathetic host with an engaging mien. He has a bright future. 
  6. Jim and Johan got excellent feedback from our Executive Producer Tom Skinner, as well as our founder and President Bob Chitester (the man who made the original Free To Choose). I gave input at various stages, as well. I am proud to say I contributed to the creation of this project.

So here we are. The project is slated for release in Spring 2011. If ever a documentary was able both to pull out important concepts and frame our ideological battles, Free or Equal achieves this without being preachy. But then again, I am biased.

Watch the preview video clip below.

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Need more proof that Keynesians are wrong?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:30 AM

Roy Cordato has offered us plenty of evidence of the fallacies inherent in Keynesian stimulus proposals, but you can find more evidence in the Center for Freedom and Prosperity video below from Hiwa Alaghebandian:

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More Sowell on taxes

Posted by George Leef at 10:24 AM

In his Town Hall column today, Thomas Sowell comments on the demagoguery of the leftist argument that we must increase taxes on the wealthy.

I would add that this claim is based purely on the political gains that come from appealing to envy. Many people are attracted to the idea of taking more money away from those who have a lot of it and therefore regard as their friends politicians who promise to increase taxes on the rich. (As the Labor Party used to say in Britain, "We'll tax the pips until they squeak.") Sadly, few of those envious voters ever stop to ask, "How will it make me any better off if the government takes more money away from rich people?" A tiny reduction in the vast federal budget deficit does them no good, while investments the wealthy might make could lead to more job opportunities and production of goods and services they might choose to purchase.

The political gratification of envy is one of the greatest obstacles to economic and social progress. The US was fortunate in its formative years because a) envy was regarded as a bad characteristic and b) the powers of government were so limited that taxing the wealthy just to make them somewhat poorer was not possible. Imagine where we'd be today if going back to 1789, Americans had been smitten with egalitarian envy and we had allowed progressive income taxation. We would be a much poorer, strife-ridden nation.

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Sowell rebuts Reich on 'tax cuts for the rich'

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 09:21 AM

Thomas Sowell's latest column at Human Events tackles an argument from former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich about the relative merits of extending tax cuts and extending unemployment benefits:

Reich advocates "extending unemployment benefits for struggling families without a breadwinner" because "These families need the money. The rich don't."

This is the Democrats' argument in a nutshell.  It seems very persuasive on the surface, however shaky it is underneath. But cuts in tax rates do not mean cuts in tax revenues, as Reich assumes. How the tax-rate battle in Congress turns out may depend on how well the Republicans answer such arguments.

These are not new arguments on either side.  They go back more than 80 years. Over that long span of time, there have been many sharp cuts in tax rates under Presidents Calvin Coolidge, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. So we don't need to argue in a vacuum. There is a track record.

What does that record say?  It says, loud and clear, that cuts in tax rates do not mean cuts in tax revenues. In all four of these administrations, of both parties, so-called "tax cuts for the rich" led to increased tax revenues—with people earning high incomes paying not only a larger sum total of tax revenues, but even a higher proportion of all tax revenues.

Most important of all, these tax-rate reductions spurred economic activity, which we definitely need today.

These are the facts.  But facts do not "speak for themselves." In terms of facts, the have the stronger case. But that doesn't matter, unless they make the case, which they show little sign of doing.

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Virginia judge echoes Michigan judge in expanding federal power

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 07:40 AM

Far from ‘inactivity,’ by choosing to forgo insurance, Plaintiffs are making an economic decision to try to pay for health care services later, out of pocket, rather than now, through the purchase of insurance. As Congress found, the total incidence of these economic decisions has a substantial impact on the national market for health care by collectively shifting billions of dollars on to other market participants and driving up the prices of insurance policies.

-Judge Norman Moon, yesterday

It's not your imagination. You have read this before.

Far from inactivity, by choosing to forgo insurance, plaintiffs are making an economic decision to try to pay for health care services later, out of pocket, rather than now through the purchase of insurance shifting billions of dollars, $43 billion in 2008, onto other market participants.

-Judge Caram Steeh, October

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Debate highlights contrasting views of improving America's health care system

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:53 AM

How does America achieve affordable, accessible, quality health care?

The Duke University Medical School's new chapter of the Benjamin Rush Society sponsored a debate Tuesday evening designed to address that question. The society is tied to the San Francisco-based Pacic Research Institute.

PRI President and CEO Sally Pipes and Dr. Hal Scherz, a pediatric urological surgeon and founder of Doctors 4 Patient Care, argued in favor of solutions that minimize government interfence. Dr. Peter Kussin, associate professor of medicine at Duke, and Dr. Gustavo Montana, professor emeritus and radiation oncologist at Duke, defended solutions that give government a greater say than insurance companies in health care decisions.

Click play below to watch the 1:21:06 event. (Note: Audio levels improve several minutes into the presentation.)

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:33 AM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Karen McMahan's report on the likely influence of N.C. Republicans in the new Congress.

John Hood's Daily Journal focuses on the importance of ideas — not just power — in political debate.

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