January 10, 2007
Other comments from Hackney
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:41 PM
On immediate plans:
"Tomorrow I'm going to dedicate to Howard Hunter. Tomorrow I'm going to Howard Hunter's funeral and I may make a phone call along the way, but I intend to pay my respects to a departed member of our caucus."
On his expectations of working with new House Minority Leader Rep. Paul Stam:
"I called Rep. Stam when he was elected as minority leader to congratulate him. We agreed to talk further if I became successful in this effort, and we will do so."
On confidence level of a united Democratic caucus Jan. 24 (opening day at the General Assembly):
"I believe that every Democrat is united to vote for Rep. Wainwright (speaker pro tem candidate) and myself on the 24th."
"We are unified. I'm convinced we are. I congratulated all the other candidates. We had a very civil speaker's race. We're not going out of here angry with each other about anything, I don't believe. I think William (Wainwright) will verify that. It was spirited and in some ways aggressive, but civil. And I'm proud of that, on my part and theirs."
Joe Hackney elected Democratic caucus candidate for speaker
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:29 PM
The House majority leader won a race that came down to him and Rep. Jim Crawford of Oxford.
Five candidates entered the race. Successive ballots eliminated first Rep. Mickey Michaux, then Rep. Drew Saunders, then Rep. Dan Blue.
Blue says that third ballot was relatively close: Hackney had 24-25 votes, Crawford had 21, and Blue had 19. Once Blue was eliminated, most of his supporters broke to Hackney.
Here's what Hackney had to say as his colleagues surrounded him (including Speaker Pro Tem candidate Rep. William Wainwright and new House Majority Leader Rep. Hugh Holliman):
My vision for North Carolina is the same as House Democrats all over, and those who elected us to these offices across North Carolina. We want to improve education, create jobs, and get affordable health care to the citizens of North Carolina. I will make the House function fairly, openly, and with deliberation.
“North Carolina is a diverse state. This is a diverse caucus. I will make sure that all parts of the caucus are represented in the appointments that I make. This will not be a caucus that is not active in all its parts throughout the caucus.
“I look forward to a legislative session of great accomplishment. We will be setting out our agenda. We’re ready to get to work. And I want say one other thing about it. I look forward to a session with civility, with openness toward our Republican colleagues, working together for all the people of the state.”
I feel deeply honored as I said to have the support of House Democrats. We stand here united and ready to go to work.
Re: Cheeburger et al.
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:37 PM
One more insidious element of this whole minimum wage/living wage debate: The higher the minimum wage, the less incentive an industrious person has to seek a higher-paying job.
People who think workers with low-paying jobs deserve higher wages ignore the fact that employers set wage rates based on the expectation that a worker will produce work equivalent to the value of that wage plus benefits. If the worker proves more valuable than his wage rate, the employer will likely look for a way to employ his talents in a more productive job that merits higher pay. (Hence the promotion process.)
A skilled worker who does not advance within that company should look for higher-paying opportunities elsewhere that allow him to use his talents. Raising the minimum wage discourages that process.
It's not likely to make much difference as long as the minimum wage falls well below the level that would guarantee a worker a comfortable existence. But if the minimum wage ever approaches a level that guarantees a worker a wage that reduces his willingness to strive for more, we'll see the beginning of the slide toward mediocrity that is France.
Re: Cheeburger, cheeburger, cheeburger ... Pepsi
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:48 PM
Here's the main problem for those who take the long-term view on the minimum wage: You can't show people the tangible harm caused by a minimum wage increase.
The N&O ran a story recently (around the first of the year, when North Carolina raised its minimum wage) in which some food service worker who made more than $5.15 per hour but less than $6.15 was still in line to benefit from the hike. His boss decided he was a good enough worker that he deserved to make more money than an entry level worker who would get the mandatory $6.15 per hour pay.
People who favor the minimum wage -- and those indifferent to the issue -- can look at that story and say: "See, here's a great example of why we should raise the minimum wage. If business owners can afford to raise the wages, what's the harm in forcing them to pay people 'what they're worth'?"
Deep in the article, the story quoted Gregg Thompson from NFIB citing the number of jobs the minimum wage increase is likely to cost North Carolina. But where's his historical proof? Anyone looking for examples is not likely to find a case in which a minimum wage increase led to mass layoffs and terrible consequences for workers at the low end of the pay scale.
What the reporter and the people quoted in the story missed is the fact that the money for the pay increase has to come from somewhere. Customers might pay for the increase through a higher price for their meals. The business owner might not hire other workers who could help reduce the workload for the guy getting the pay raise. The business owner might not invest in equipment that would help improve the worker's productivity and generate an even larger pay increase in a year or two. A smaller profit margin might force the business to close -- placing more $6.15 per hour workers in the unemployment line.
And the article does not address the fact that workers unqualified to acquire a minimum wage job at $5.15 per hour will be no more likely to enter the labor force at $6.15 per hour.
These are all factors that are hard to fit into a news story. But they constitute the unseen consequences of the minimum wage and other government price controls. People will accept the harmful nature of the minimum wage only when they're willing to look for and accept the unseen consequences of government actions.
10,000 Meaningless Credentials
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 3:28 PM
North Carolina recently surpassed 10,000 National Board Certified teachers. We have 1/5 of all teachers with a National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) credential.
For the truth about National Board Certification, here are a few useful links:
Cheeseburgers and Minimum Wage
Posted by Chad Adams at 3:00 PM
Ok, so the economists have proven that minimum wage does little to help anyone out. And Mitch even had a great post here about the cost of production and minimum wage.
Now the Dems have decided to push through their campaign promise to increase minimum wage by $2.10/hr. That would take it to over $7/hr. But does this really help anyone out?
Yes, those earning minimum wage will have a bigger paycheck. But the inherent cost or anything we purchase is the result of the cost to produce it. When the cost of producing a cheeseburger goes up as a result of the cost of labor to produce it, has the person receiving the raise really increased their purchasing power?
If raising the minimum wage increases the cost of production, those in poverty will still be there, but the cost of their necessities will have also increased.
In Costa Rica, the daily and/or hourly wage is far less than it is here, but the costs of living is also much lower therefore those earning it can still buy necessities. If you raise the cost of labor, you also increase the costs of everything that results from it. But it sounds good and feigns sincerity well to say you support minimum wage.
Input for Education
Posted by Chad Adams at 2:47 PM
Interesting request in light DPI's public desire to change the curriculum YET AGAIN. The input should be pretty simple. You guys have failed us in NC, who is accountable, when will their resignations be turned in and when will you push for more choices in education? At least that would be a start. Changing the curriculum yet again only postpones the accountability of those implementing the changes.
I was having a discussion with an administrator in a Christian school in my part of the state, whose school performs well across the board. During that discussion he was asked how long it had been since the school had substantively changed the curriculum. Interesting answer, "I think we made some changes in 1975."
Learning hasn't changed all that much, but those running the show have.
Thank God for San Francisco
Posted by Jon Ham at 2:39 PM
Most Southern states used to say "Thank God for Mississippi" because Mississippi kept them from being at the bottom of most national quality-of-life statistics. Now it's Durham that can say "Thank God for San Francisco" because as long as the city by the bay is in the mix Durham isn't the wackiest left-wing city in America. To wit.
DPI On The Road Again
Posted by Lindalyn Kakadelis at 2:01 PM
The Department of Public Instruction is asking for public input. Let’s give it to them! DPI will be holding 8 regional meetings wanting to hear opinions regarding the implementation of a new high school core course framework. So look at the schedule details, and plan to speak!
This is a move from the current multiple diploma tracks to one track for everyone. North Carolina’s association with the American Diploma Project surely facilitated these changes in the core course framework.
I don’t have a problem, but unless TRUE reform occurs I suspect one of two things will happen. Either the courses will be dumb down so everyone can pass, or there is going to be more frustrated students dropping out. Capacity for learning happens at the elementary and middle school levels. DPI currently struggles with success at the high school level, what will happen expecting all students to take more courses?
Don’t forget to look at the fine print in DPI’s press release:
“The core framework of courses will not be one-size-fits-all. Students will select specific courses within the 21 requirements and there will be opportunities for course substitutions in some cases where appropriate. Details about how course substitutions will be allowed, how second language instruction will be provided, and the particulars of the AP/IB endorsements, as well as other issues, remain to be answered.”
Again, the devil will be in the details! Wonder if our state will ever really reform its K-12 education? Until the money follows the child, and parents are given choices to choose other options, the GOMs (Gatekeepers of Mediocrity) are still in charge!
Best Value Not So Great?
Posted by Jane S. Shaw at 12:38 AM
Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine has again named UNC-Chapel Hill the "best value" in U.S. higher education. In fact, six campuses in the UNC system made the top 100 "best value" universities this year. The publication commented that a Chapel Hill student receiving the typical amount of financial aid pays $2,799 per year for tuition and fees -- about the cost of a “50-inch plasma TV.”
Before North Carolinians start gloating, they should consider that relatively low tuition at North Carolina’s public universities means high costs for the taxpayer.
Second, the “quality” part of the ranking does not measure the quality of education; it primarily measures the caliber of the students going in and the level of expenditures by the state.
Although Kiplinger’s doesn’t reveal its methodology this year (possibly due to a computer error), it gave the basics in its 2003 listing. The ranking starts by identifying the top 200 public universities based on the SAT scores of incoming students. Thus, it measures student quality, not the quality of education students get once they arrive. So does another criterion, the university’s admissions rate (percent of applicants accepted).
Beyond that, most of the factors are “inputs”: student-faculty ratio (not necessarily a guide to how much the faculty are teaching), dollars spent on per-student instruction, dollars spent on libraries, and the percentage of faculty with Ph.D.s (or the highest degree in their field). To my mind, the only real measure of educational success identified by Kiplinger is 4- and 6-year graduation rates.
UNC schools may cost students less than other public colleges, but what students actually receive remains something of a mystery. For a sobering look at what colleges are failing to provide, see George Leef's commentary, "The Skills College Graduates Need."
Internet advertising gaining major ground
Posted by John Hood at 12:23 AM
An interesting fact gleaned from a Wall Street Journal piece today on the decision of the nation's three largest newspaper chains — Gannett, McClatchy, and Tribune — to jointly market web space to national advertisers:
During the first nine months of 2006, Internet ad revenues including search ads rose 35 percent to $12.1 billion, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers data compiled for the Interactive Advertising Bureau. During that same period, the local newspaper industry's ad revenues slipped 4 percent to $17.5 billion, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
A philosophe insufferable
Posted by Jon Ham at 10:37 AM
Bernard-Henri Levy calls himself a philosophe engagé, an involved intellectual. He's written about his typical day as only a French intellectual could. Read his London Times piece and then read James Lileks' hilarious sendup.
I wake up at 5.30am. I have no problem getting out of bed. The first
thing I need is a cup of tea, usually lapsang souchong. I dress as
lightly as possible. I often wear a shirt open down to under my chest,
but not out of vanity. The truth is, I find clothes suffocating.
I awake, as is my preference. My waking had, as usual,
the pleasant quality of surfacing from one world to another, with the
gradual abandonment of one state for another, a trading of realms whose
various attributes have merits in eternal opposition.
Commissioners vs. School Board
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 10:34 AM
I find the feud between the Wake County Commission and the Wake County Board of Education enchanting and it keeps getting better. Although the mandatory year-round school issue is one of the sticking points between the two groups, it seems that the school renovations planned by WCPSS are also back on the table.
In my policy report on the Wake school bond, I noted that most of their planned school renovations would add few seats. The county commissioners are now raising doubts about planned renovation projects at Lynn, Lacy, Poe, Root and Smith elementary schools, East Millbrook and Martin middle schools, and Enloe High School. Renovations at these schools would add 717 seats at a cost of around $145 million or $202,000 a seat. To put this in perspective, $145 million could build six elementary schools of 800 students, which would accommodate 4,800 students.
It is not clear how this will play out, but I appreciate the boldness of the magnificent three and Tony Gurley. Just kidding, homie.
I'm just getting my feet wet
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 10:20 AM
Hi, I'm Becki, latest addition to the JLF staff, and I'm just posting this to get my feet wet in the Locker Room (which sounds like a recipe for athlete's foot). Thanks for making me feel welcome.
I'll be posting from the General Assembly a lot in the coming weeks. Please bear with me as I get the hang of this.
Re: Wal-Mart fights back
Posted by Hal Young at 08:48 AM
Meanwhile, the same magazine reports a print media whiff:
An in-house spot trumpeting the latest new design seems almost designed to fail, essentially offering no reason to take the [L.A.] Times except for its spruced-up graphics, which the commercial barely shows.
The spot is done from the point of view of a newspaper vending machine, as seven diverse but uniformly uninteresting Angelinos approach it to peer in. Maybe they're peering in to see one of the suddenly sensationalistic headlines, or maybe to steal a peek at a photo or to ogle the new layout. It's unclear. What's clear is that, for 25 of 30 seconds, the focus of the ad, through a wide-angle lens that makes everyone look unattractive, is not the L.A. Times but them.
By the time the product shot comes on we're averting our eyes from the fish-eye view of humanity. If anyone does hang around to see the payoff, they may observe that only one of the seven actually stuffs quarters in to buy a paper.
His later observation that "worth the price in grocery store coupons" would be a more effective appeal hits the nail on the head. Certainly that's about 75% of why the News & Observer still lands on our driveway. And more and more of those coupons are available online, too.
Wal-Mart fights back
Posted by Jon Ham at 08:25 AM
Wal-Mart defends itself against irrational critics with a slick political-style ad. Says AdAge magazine:
The new national push represents a dramatic shift away from recent
campaigns focused on the retailer's merchandising efforts to woo more
affluent shoppers. These ads instead aim to appeal to working families
by promoting a study financed by Wal-Mart that finds the retailer saves
the average family $2,300 a year.
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