The announcement that former Rep. Bob Etheridge will lead the North Carolina Office of Economic Recovery and Investment proves that that politicians never fade away. They just move to another political job with a taxpayer-provided salary.
Writing in the Washington Times, economist Richard Rahn observes that those in power (or who have been in power and perhaps long for it again) are apt to whitewash government screw ups. The recent intellectually dishonest report on the causes of the financial meltdown is Rahn's first exhibit. How is it possible to discuss that event without acknowledging that federal housing policies created an enormous moral hazard problem?
Here is Rahn's conclusion:
Public choice theory explains why government officials and bureaucrats put their own interests ahead of the interests of those who they are supposed to serve. Those in favor of ever bigger government ignore this fundamental reality, which is demonstrated time and time again. The American Founding Fathers implicitly understood this, which is why they tried to design a system to protect people from government. Recent events have shown that their fears were all too justified.
Neither Fayetteville nor the company that installed one of the city's red-light cameras bears any legal responsibility in a death caused when a drunk driver hit a utility pole in 2007, causing the camera to fall on the car and contribute to a passenger's fatal injuries. A unanimous three-judge panel of the N.C. Court of Appeals issued that ruling this morning.
a unanimous three-judge panel affirmed the trial court ruling in a controversial case involving the Yadkin County jail.
a unanimous three-judge panel ruled against NASCAR's Brian France in a dispute over opening the courtroom during his divorce proceedings.
a unanimous three-judge panel ruled in favor of a Rowan County defendant in vacating District and Superior court orders forcing him to enroll in lifetime satellite-based monitoring for sex offenders. The Appeals Court ruled that neither court had "subject-matter jurisdiction" in the case.
a unanimous three-judge panel offered a mixed ruling in a Cumberland County dispute among lawyers who are trying to decide how to split up their firm. (An old saying declares that “the cobbler’s children have no shoes.” Lawyers may suffer from the same problem, if they are too busy dealing with their clients’ legal affairs to address their own. This case arises because the members of a law firm organized as a PLLC did not adopt an operating agreement or any other documents governing the operation of the PLLC.)
You believe that a court ruling declaring the federal regulation of non-commerce, fining people for refusing to make a purchase, to be an example of judicial activism, while simultaneously believing that the the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade was not.
Here's a crucial paragraph from Judge Vinson's opinion:
"It is difficult to imagine that a nation which began, at least in part, as the result of opposition to a British mandate giving the East India Company a monopoly and imposing a nominal tax on all tea sold in America would have set out to create a government with the power to force people to buy tea in the first place. If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain for it would be ‘difficult to perceive any limitation on federal power’ and we would have a Constitution in name only."
He might also have mentioned the Stamp Act of 1765. The colonists were outraged over the government's law mandating that they buy governmentally approved (stamped) paper IF they wanted to use paper. (To make the Stamp Act equivalent to ObamaCare, it would have to have mandated that they purchase the official paper even if they didn't want paper.) British officials charged with enforcing the law had to flee to avoid being tarred and feathered. Are we to believe that the same people who said No Way to the Stamp Act nevertheless meant to give the government power just a few years later to force people to buy whatever politicians said they must?
A couple in Laval, Que[bec] has sparked a fierce debate over how far schools should go to teach children about environmental responsibility after their six-year-old son was shut out of a kindergarten draw to win a stuffed animal because he had an environmentally unfriendly sandwich bag in his lunchbox.
Marc-André Lanciault said he hadn’t heard of the school’s draw or any environmental policy until his wife, Isabel Théorêt, was making their son Félix a sandwich and he begged them not to put it in a plastic bag.
“He said, ‘No mommy, you can’t do that. Not a Ziploc,’ ” Mr. Lanciault said.
Through tears, the boy told his parents that the school had held a draw to win a stuffed teddy bear and only children who didn’t have any plastic sandwich bags could enter. The family normally uses Tupperware, but it was all in the dishwasher, and so they had packed their son’s ham sandwich in a plastic bag.
When Mr. Lanciault questioned his son’s teacher, she confirmed the school had staged the draw at a lunchtime daycare and that any student with a plastic sandwich bag was excluded. “You know Mr. Lanciault, it’s not very good for the environment,” the teacher told him. “We have to take care of the our planet and the bags do not decompose well.”
Schools tread into dangerous territory when they start enforcing environmental messages without understanding the complex scientific arguments behind them, said Jane Shaw, president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in North Carolina, and co-author of Facts, Not Fear: Teaching Children about the Environment, which was adapted for Canadian audiences. For instance, she said, the debate still rages over whether reusable dishes are really more environmentally friendly than disposable ones, taking into account the water and energy used to wash them.
“In the background to this is the idea that somehow we -- meaning teachers and textbook writers -- know what the environmental impact of something really is,” she said. “Studies have shown it’s very difficult to know whether it’s better to use a china cup or a disposable plastic cup.”
Instead, she said, schools should focus on teaching kids the fundamentals of science so that they can explore environmental issues themselves and draw their own informed conclusions as they get older.
“They’re getting a lot of pabulum about recycling and what is green and that kind of thing,” she said. “They’re not learning the basics of science, which in the long run is much more important.”
One of the harmful notions that many Americans accept is that government (politicians and their minions, the bureaucrats) can manage the economy through wise laws to make people do good things and prevent them from doing bad things. It can't work because politicians and bureaucrats have neither the knowledge nor the right incentives to make better decisions than people who have a direct stake. Having millions of laws and regulations is thus far inferior to our original system of profit and loss backed up by the common law.
Political scientist James Payne discusses the belief in government economic management in depth in this Freeman article today.
Daren Bakst has explained for us why North Carolina would benefit from regulatory reform.
His research came to mind when I read the following blurb from the latestNational Review:
Pres. Barack Obama, whose signature achievement in office has been dropping a 1,000-page package of regulations onto the American health-care market, has now decided that there are too many federal regulations, and, with an eye on job growth, has ordered regulators to study the problem. There is a kind of genius at work in that: The regulators already are regulated under regulations derived from the Regulatory Flexibility Act, which requires that regulators, before regulating, study a proposed regulation’s impact on small business. To that regulator-regulating regulation, President Obama has added an additional regulation, stipulating that regulators “reduce regulatory burdens on small business.” What obviously is needed here are additional regulators to regulate the enforcement of the regulator-regulating regulations, which is to say, regulator-regulating-regulation-regulator regulators. Who says Obama doesn’t know how to create jobs?
Derek Scissors and Nick Loris of the Heritage Foundation explain in the latest print version of National Review that the idea of emulating Chinese energy policy makes no sense for the United States.
The U.S. is already vastly more energy-efficient, and its efficiency is improving at a faster rate than China’s, despite the latter country’s “far greater scope for improvement.”
Despite all the money lavished on green energy by China, the Europeans, and the United States, none of the favored alternative-energy sources is becoming any more economically viable, and none would survive without a government crutch. Nobody knows this better than the renewable-energy lobby itself, which is why it constantly clamors for subsidies, special tax credits, and guaranteed market shares. If the technologies were commercially viable, such handouts would be unnecessary. In truth, Americans pay twice for green energy: Not only must their fork over taxes to subsidize dubious projects, they also have to pay bigger bills for the pricier energy those projects produce.
This theme will be familiar to those who have followed Roy Cordato and Daren Bakst’s criticisms of Senate Bill 3, North Carolina’s 2007 renewable-energy mandate.
Regular attendees of the John Locke Foundation’s Shaftesbury Society meetings might remember Steven Hayward’s October 2009 presentation on the second volume of his Age of Reagan political history.
The two-volume set helps correct the historical record of Reagan’s impact, as does Hayward’s latest article for National Review. In that new magazine piece, Hayward is particularly interested in pointing out how Reagan’s views differed from those of today’s liberals:
[H]e explained his use of [quotations from Thomas] Paine in conservative terms way back in his 1965 autobiography, Where’s The Rest Of Me? “The classical liberal,” Reagan wrote, “used to be the man who believed the individual was, and should be forever, the master of his destiny. That is now the conservative position. The liberal used to believe in freedom under law. He now takes the ancient feudal position that power is everything. He believes in a stronger and stronger central government, in the philosophy that control is better than freedom. The conservative now quotes Thomas Paine, a longtime refuge of the liberals: ‘Government is a necessary evil; let us have as little of it as possible.’”
Reagan’s mixture of the revolutionary or progressive Paine with the Jeffersonian limited-government Paine is a potent formula in American politics that liberals have abandoned. Regardless of the tensions in Reagan’s version, it exposed liberalism as a pessimistic and increasingly reactionary faction.
Hayward also discussed his research into Reagan’s record during an interview with Carolina Journal Radio.
When the government gets involved in bailouts, it’s not always easy to identify all possible negative consequences. Sure, there’s the moral hazard, and the fact that resources are seized from productive members of society to prop up those who’ve failed.
One of the little-noticed rocks I've looked under recently: the government's rescue of GMAC, now Ally Financial, which has given its old shareholders a multibillion-dollar windfall.
These folks thought they had a great deal in 2006. General Motors, which had owned GMAC (the name I'm using throughout this column for simplicity's sake), was thrilled to have investors led by Cerberus, the big, smart Wall Street house, fork over $7.2 billion for a 51% stake. Oops. The ink had barely dried when GMAC's mortgage business, much of it subprime, turned from a crown jewel into toxic waste. The world financial system began imploding. GMAC ran out of borrowing power and got government help to stay afloat in late 2008, the first of several bailout infusions. Without the bailout, GMAC would have gone broke, and the old holders' stake would have been worth zippo. What's that stake worth now, mostly because of taxpayer support? Would you believe more than $3 billion?