The North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE), one of Raleigh's most powerful and well-funded special interest groups, hates the idea of giving block grants to districts. It is easier to control teacher salaries from Raleigh than lobby for changes in salary schedules used by school districts.
Oh, the hysterics over Obama's piddling cuts! All of Washington and their media amplifiers have been apoplexed. Meanwhile, the blogosphere has been straining at gnats (hey, there's a good one!) trying to illustrate just how exceedingly miniscule these supposedly horrific cuts are. Here's my favorite example so far:
How small? Well, consider that the budget the President submitted for 2011, the one with these bowel-loosening cuts in it, clocks in at about $3.83 trillion. The President's cuts come to a smidgen over 0.0002 of that amount. Yep, you read that right — the President's deep, tough cuts are two ten thousandths of the total, or two hundredths of one percent. ...
Maybe it'd help if we visualized the President's "difficult" cuts in relation to his overall budget. Let's think in terms of pennies. Ten thousand dollars is approximately one million pennies. That's a stack of pennies almost a mile high ... Take two pennies — two ten thousandths of the whole — out of that pile of almost one million and you’ll have Barack Obama's cuts.
Ouch. The pain, it is unbearable.
Gruesome. It has all the makings of a tremendous horror film. Imagine:
Last week, the the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Wake Education Partnership released a proposed assignment plan formulated by consultant Michael Alves.
Suddenly, those groups and indviduals who protested the loudest - NAACP, Great Schools in Wake Coalition, Mayor Charles Meeker, etc. - are mostly silent about the plan. Sure, the NAACP took their cheap shots at selected school board members during Saturday's HK on J rally. We've heard it all before. The conversation has changed.
The latest Ideas Matter update from Max Borders includes an item on William Easterly, the economist who has shed light on the problems associated with traditional foreign aid:
Easterly has his own of messages, which I will paraphrase crudely:
* You cannot view resources as a fertilizer than can simply be dropped from the sky. When you do, all you end up with is a desert full of s--t. [Kokai's edit.]
* If Aid organizations have a role, it's to help countries develop institutions in which their basic markets can flourish.
* Prosperity (and complexity) emerges from the bottom up. But emergence can't happen unless countries get the institutions right.
* Rain money on bad institutions and you get bigger, more formidable bad institutions.
* Rain money on corrupt people and you get more powerful, more corrupt people.
* Rain money on a bureaucracy and you get a bigger, less flexible bureaucracy.
* Rain money on technical assitants and you'll get more technical assistance -- despite the fact that their knowledge is seldom local, and their presence is often artificial (thus ineffective).
I think Easterly would agree with my favorite socio-economic metaphor: the ecosystem. You can't fix or design an ecosystem like a machine. You can't grow an ecosystem like a garden. And you can't treat an ecosystem like a hive. And, indeed, as much as we ache for poor people in far-off places, societies are not families either. Families, hives, gardens and machines are all bad metaphors used by the Aid community. And we need to scrap them.
A unanimous three-judge panel of the N.C. Court of Appeals has reversed a lower-court ruling and has ruled against Speedway Motorsports' effort to have North Carolina courts decide a complicated 2007 dispute with a foreign bank involving jet fuel contracts. But a separate unanimous opinion affirms the trial-court decision that the dispute should not be bound for a Swiss court.
In a separate case, a unanimous three-judge panel upheld a trial court ruling favoring Cabarrus County in a property tax valuation dispute.
You'll find new N.C. Court of Appeals opinions by clicking "2011" here.
Today's WSJ contains a letter from a union apologist who tries to make an argument against right to work laws. Here's the letter:
Unsurprisingly, your editorial "Giving Workers a Union Choice" (Feb. 2) supports Republican attempts to destroy unions in Indiana and Wisconsin just as they've been crippled throughout the South. Voters want politicians to help create jobs and raise wages, but the corporate CEOs who put millions into the last election are looking for something else— political payback against a Democratic constituency. They want a misleadingly named "right-to-work" law passed to make it illegal for employers and unions to agree to require every employee who gets the benefit of union wages and benefits to help pay the costs of negotiations.
Right-to-work laws do not create jobs, but they do weaken unions and lead to lower pay and reduced pension and health-care coverage. Businesses seeking cheap labor will eventually move to Mexico or China, even from "right-to-work" states.
Attacking political opponents is a lot easier than creating middle-class jobs.
Economic Policy Institute
Eisenbrey can't or won't tell the truth. A right to work statute does not "weaken unions." It allows individuals who don't want union representation or don't want to pay for the union's use of their dues money for purposes having nothing to do with the job an escape hatch. They can stop paying without losing their jobs. If a union does not want to lose those members, it can do what every other sort of voluntary organization does -- work to persuade them that it is worth what it costs. Suppose we lived in a country with an established church and someone proposed allowing people the freedom to leave the church and not be taxed to support the established church. Would Eisenbrey gripe that such a law would "weaken the church"? Perhaps, but most of us can see that institutions that derive their strength from coercion are often corrupt and ought to be weakened.
Obama's budget calls for the hiring of an additional 5,100 IRS agents and the agency gets a budget increase of 9.4 percent. As today's WSJ editorial (subscriber content, alas) comments, "This is the same mentality that gave us the IRS Form 1099 small business harassment as part of ObamaCare, a provision that 81 Senators voted last week to repeal."
The US has a gigantic and growing debt that requires us to borrow as if money were free and inexhaustible, and the Obama regime wants to borrow still more to hire people who might otherwise be creating value, so they can instead seize money that would otherwise be spent or invested productively by individuals and businesses. This is how nations go downhill, by draining resources from the productive sector to enrich the unproductive.
Williamson also explains how socialists of all stripes go wrong:
”In the United States health care is a big business commodity with a big price tag, comprising 14% of the US GNP. Removing profit from the Wall Street-controlled health industry can fully fund a system that puts health before profit.” That’s from the 2010 party program of the Communist Party of the United States of America, … but it could as easily have come from the mouth of Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi.
For our current purposes, it is sufficient to note that all the central planners — from Marx himself to Lenin to Wilson’s rationalizers to the CPUSA to the health care crusaders — see profit as something extraneous and exogenous to the economy, by which we mean the process by which goods and services are created, developed, and delivered. Profit, under all these models, inhibits efficiency and the rational distribution of goods, services, and capital.
The truth is precisely the opposite: the search for profit and the competition it leads to are what create efficiency and police the rational deployment of resources.