The Locker Room

December 10, 2010

Photo ID Requirements for Voting

Posted by Daren Bakst at 5:04 PM

Should North Carolina pass a law requiring voters to show photo IDs at the polls?
I wrote about this issue in the latest Rights and Regulation newsletterSign up today to receive this groundbreaking newsletter!  It also makes a great Christmas gift!

The North Carolina GOP is apparently considering pushing legislation that would require photo IDs for voters.  I have no idea what the specifics of such a plan would be, but I'd expect (and recommend) that the legislation closely mirror the Indiana law that the United States Supreme Court already held to be constitutional (Crawford v. Marion County).

Here are some facts that opponents of such a plan seem to forget/ignore/not know about/lie about:

1) The idea of requiring photo IDs for voting isn't some wacky conservative idea.  Also, conservative jurists aren't the only ones who deem such a law as being constitutional:

Guess who wrote the Crawford opinion?  That's right, Justice Stevens, who was the most liberal justice on the court (or close to it).

Guess what former President has played an integral role in pushing photo IDs for voting?  That's right, President Jimmy Carter.  He led, along with James Baker, the 2005 bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform, which pushed for photo IDs.  Both of them later encouraged the Supreme Court to uphold the Indiana law. 

2) The IDs are free.  So much for excessive cost.

3) If you have an ID and don't have it with you at the polls, you still can vote!  You can vote by casting a provisional ballot and then going to the courthouse within 10 days of the election and providing a photo ID.

4) What about the indigent and those who object, on religious grounds, about being photographed?  What happens to them when they go to the polls without an ID?  They also get to vote.  If an individual doesn't have a photo ID because of indigent status or religious objections to being photographed, then the individual may still cast a provisional ballot and then must go to the courthouse within 10 days of the election to sign an affidavit.

5) At this point, most opponents run from the "poll tax" argument and try to claim that it still isn't necessary because there's no voter fraud.

This is objectively not true as the Supreme Court discussed with various examples.  The Court even explains how Indiana reportedly had thousands of registered voters who "had either moved, died, or were not eligible to vote because they had been convicted of felonies."

Further, there's no way to have a good sense of how rampant voter fraud is when states aren't properly looking for fraud in the first place. There are many ways fraud can and certainly does exist. For example, it's very easy to register to vote under fake names.

It is about time that North Carolina passes this common sense requirement.

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Don Boudreaux on Matt Miller's false choice

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 4:53 PM

Matt Miller is furious that Pres. Obama won’t raise taxes on any Americans.  The reason for Miller’s anger is, of course, the children – in particular, America’s K-12 students who perform poorly in math. Far better for the children, Miller asserts, that government raise taxes and spend the money improving education than to let that money remain with the people who earn it.

This thesis rests on several dubious assumptions, but none more questionable than the one that equates higher government spending on education with better education.

Over the past forty years, Washington’s inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending on K-12 education has more than doubled.  Yet as the Cato Institute’s Neal McCluskey reported last month, “There’s been essentially no change in high school math achievement for the last nearly four decades.

To shovel yet more lucre into public-school bureaucracies is to reward failure.  And to do so by raising taxes on income earners is to punish success.  That formula just doesn’t compute.

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Re: What's the value of freshman composition courses?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:30 PM


You'll remember that N.C. State English professor R.V. Young, editor of Modern Age, documented key problems with college-level English composition instruction during an August presentation to the John Locke Foundation's Shaftesbury Society.

He also discussed the topic with Carolina Journal Radio. You'll find a snippet below.

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Not taxing is not the same as giving

Posted by George Leef at 1:25 PM

In another of his wonderful letters that explain reality to statists, Don Boudreaux here writes about the difference between not taxing money someone has earned and a government gift. (I particularly like the reference to the divine right of kings.)

Editor, Los Angeles Times

Dear Editor:

You write that "Washington's compromise on estate taxes provides an unnecessary handout to a few thousand wealthy families" ("The state of estates," Dec. 9).

Whatever are the merits, or lack thereof, of a tax on estates, you are
deceptively wrong to call a decision not to raise that tax a "handout." Because
taxes are paid from resources created and earned by private citizens, resources
that are not taxed are not "handed out" to the people who created or earned
them; these people already rightfully own these resources.

It makes no more sense to describe government's (non-)act of not raising taxes
as a "handout" than it does to describe my (non-)act of not stealing your purse
as a "handout." Failure to understand this fact creates the mirage that
government is the source and original owner of all wealth. Not only is such a
notion of the state utterly false empirically, it is also - because it is a
close cousin of the notion of the divine right of kings - the seed of tyranny.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University

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North Carolina least friendly southern state for entrepreneurs

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 1:21 PM

The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council released its latest small business survival index. North Carolina was 38th (13th worst) based on taxes, insurance mandates, energy costs, crime, and regulatory burden. It is far and away the worst state in the Southeast, however one defines the region.

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New CJO exclusive: WSSU professor uses university e-mail to promote federal DREAM act

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 12:36 AM

Sara Burrows' new Carolina Journal Online exclusive focuses on a Winston-Salem State University education professor who violated university rules by using his e-mail account to promote the federal DREAM act, a measure designed to boost illegal immigrants who go to college or join the military.

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You might think she'd just retire quietly...

Posted by George Leef at 12:16 AM

I'm talking about Michigan's outgoing governor, Jennifer Granholm, under whose leadership the Michigan economy kept getting worse and worse. Granholm, a progressive Democrat who puts her faith in governmental programs rather than allowing the free market's processes of competition and discovery to find the best uses of resources, leaves office with Michigan in the doldrums, despite all of her efforts. Nevertheless, as we learn in this Cato@Liberty post she has written a Politco piece telling politicians to keep going with their central planning.

It's not a mere coincidence that heavily politicized states like Michigan and California have high unemployment and out-migration, while states with relatively little politicization like Texas enjoy economic growth, low unemployment, and in-migration.

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Please stop with the climate change conferences

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 11:55 AM

It seems every time there is a conference or hearing to combat the dangers of global warming, we get colder temperatures and snow. This may be part of the plan to combat global warming, but it's a bit inconvenient from a PR perspective and awfully cold to boot. Please stop. It might be nice to have normal temperatures again and it might rebuild the credibility of global warming activists.

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What a dull university Cal Tech must be

Posted by George Leef at 11:09 AM

Russ Nieli, who has written some excellent papers for the Pope Center, has a splendid essay today at Manhattan Institute's Minding the Campus. It's about Cal Tech, a university that eschews preferences for applicants based on their ancestry (that is, "diversity"), based on athletic competence, and based on prior family ties to the school.

Now, if I were a college admissions officer, I'd be thinking, "What a terribly dull and ineffective university Cal Tech must be. The admissions officers don't try to build a diverse and interesting student body. How do the students ever learn about people who are different from themselves? How do they ever overcome their biases and learn to celebrate diversity?"

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You might be a progressive if...

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 11:02 AM just can't figure out what economist Don Boudreaux is getting at in his letter responding to an article in the LA Timesis when he says:

Whatever are the merits, or lack thereof, of a tax on estates, you are deceptively wrong to call a decision not to raise that tax a “handout.”  Because taxes are paid from resources created and earned by private citizens, resources that are not taxed are not “handed out” to the people who created or earned them; these people already rightfully own these resources.

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Burn Down the Ed Schools!

Posted by Duke Cheston at 10:59 AM

What does it say about university schools of education when students who have spent a couple years taking classes in them are inferior teachers compared to a group that only received five weeks worth of training?

Needless to say, it doesn't speak well for them. Here's an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about a study showing Teach for America teachers are more effective than graduates of education schools.

On a related note, here's an interesting debate between the Washington Post's Jay Mathews and Valerie Strauss about the value of Teach for America.

And from the vaults of Pope Center research, here's a report George Cunningham did for us about how education schools don't focus all that much on actually teaching children, focusing instead on making students into advocates for "social change." If you haven't read it before, I would highly recommend reading it and sharing with your friends. Ed schools are the source of much mischief in today's society.

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Teacher effectiveness in high and low poverty schools not all that different

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 10:01 AM

A new CALDER/Urban Institute report, "Value Added of Teachers in High–Poverty Schools and Lower–Poverty Schools" compared the effectiveness of teachers working in high-poverty and low-poverty schools in Florida and North Carolina.

So, how do we improve teacher quality in low income schools? The authors argue that school systems should bus wealthy students to high poverty schools. Just kidding.

According to researchers,

The results show that the average effectiveness of teachers in high-poverty schools is in general less than teachers in other schools, but only slightly, and not in all comparisons.


The observed differences in teacher quality between high-poverty and lower-poverty schools are not due to differences in the observed characteristics of teachers, such as experience, certification status and educational attainment.


Taken together, results from the two states cast doubt on the conventional wisdom that teacher quality in high-poverty schools is uniformly worse than in lower-poverty schools.
The explanation offered by the researchers is somewhat complicated, but they argue that the key is the "setting in which the experience is acquired." My takeaway is that policy makers should pay more attention to in-school, rather than between-school, differences in teacher quality.

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It is not money nor uninformed reform that makes schools better

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 09:20 AM

The Economist explains,

For starters, McKinsey [& Company] says, throwing money at education does not seem to do much good, at least in those countries that already send all their young people to school (see chart). America, for example, increased its spending on schools by 21% between 2000 and 2007, while Britain pumped in 37% more funds. Yet in this period, according to PISA, standards in both countries slipped.

Many school systems that were not showered with extra funds did much better. Schools in the state of Saxony, in Germany, in Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia and Poland have all raised their games. Even poor countries such as Chile and Ghana have made progress.

What separates the big spenders from the improvers, McKinsey found, is the awareness that different types of school system respond to radically different types of reform. In countries where schools mainly seek to teach pupils to read, write and grasp some basic maths, centralisation seems to work. All teachers should be directed to teach the same lessons from the same textbooks.

Once the school system can teach to basic standards, it should pay more attention to collecting detailed data on examination results. This serves not just to make schools accountable, but helps to identify the best teaching methods.

Countries where schools have already attained a higher standard should become pickier in choosing teachers. Another study by McKinsey in 2007 concluded that making teaching a high-status profession was what boosted standards. For instance, schools could recruit teachers from among the best university graduates, an idea that was part of a series of measures published in England on November 24th.

At the very top of the global educational league table—where only a handful of countries or systems within them manage to attain really high standards—decentralisation is the name of the game. The authorities hand control over to teachers, most of whom are highly educated and motivated, so they can learn from each other and follow the best practices. When it comes to getting the very best grades, it seems that teacher still knows best.
Let's review: 1) teach basic skills well; 2) learn from test results; 3) maintain high standards; 4) raise teacher quality; and 5) decentralize the system.

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What's the value of freshman composition courses?

Posted by George Leef at 09:12 AM

There are no doubt some freshman composition courses where the students have to do a lot of serious writing and that writing is subjected to careful scrutiny by the professor. That kind of course seems to be a vanishing breed, though. The norm today is probably closer to the course described here by the Pope Center's intern, Ashley Russell. Her composition course at the University of North Carolina was, she says, a waste of time.

Would students who wanted to improve their writing buy a course like this in a stand-alone, free market transaction? I don't think so. The waste of time and money occurs because universities sell bundles of courses and many students focus on the end result -- the degree. And our heavy reliance on third-party funding for college further erodes the connection between the value of the service and compensation for the work. Adam Smith once noted that when professors were paid directly by students, they did a much better job than when paid by the school. If we want more educational benefit for the time and money spent, don't we need to get back to such arrangements?

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Combining agencies

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 08:59 AM

It's not deja vu, you really have seen Gov. Perdue's idea of moving Corrections, Crime Control & Public Safety, and Juvenile Justice into a single Department of Public Safety before. Most recently in Agenda 2010, but also in previous editions of the Agenda book.

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This weekend on Carolina Journal Radio

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:16 AM

He’s $1,000 poorer and a convicted felon, but what’s the long-term impact of former Gov. Mike Easley’s recent guilty plea to a felony campaign-finance charge? Rick Henderson addresses that topic in the next edition of Carolina Journal Radio.

Roy Cordato will explain key provisions of the John Locke Foundation’s policy prescriptions for the General Assembly’s First 100 Days. Speaking of legislative policy, Rep. Marilyn Avila, R-Wake, will share her ideas about approaching the state’s $3 billion budget hole.

You’ll hear expert analysis of the 2010 election results from Michael Barone of the Washington Examiner, and Charlotte Observer banking reporter Rick Rothacker will share key themes from his book Banktown. It chronicles the impact of the financial crisis on North Carolina’s Queen City.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:03 AM

Anthony Greco's latest exclusive focuses on Gov. Beverly Perdue's release of a state government reorganization plan on the same day the State Board of Elections levied a $150,000 fine against a campaign donor who supported Perdue and other Democrats. 

This week's Carolina Journal Online Friday interview features a conversation with Daren Bakst comparing the costs of nuclear and solar power.

Joseph Coletti's guest Daily Journal advises state government to "go barefoot."

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As the warmists meet in Cancun..

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 06:53 AM

As the global warming alarmists are meeting in Cancun, Great Britain is suffering through the coldest December in 100 years. There have already been seven deaths attributed to the cold weather. By the way, there's been no global warming in 15 years.

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