The Locker Room

July 16, 2008

Transport people, don't seek to control people

Posted by John Hood at 3:32 PM

Earlier this week, when writing about the Triangle Transit Authority's options for spending its tax revenue, I cited a recent Randal O'Toole paper for the Cato Institute on the manifest failures of metropolitan transportation planning. There's a section on land-use regulation worth extensive quotation:

Although transportation affects land use, University of South California planning professor Genevieve Giuliano points out that the reverse is not true: “Land use policies appear to have little impact on travel outcomes.” This is partly because most urban facilities are already in place, so huge changes in density and design are needed to produce even small changes in mode shares or trip lengths. Few residents of Manhattan drive to work, but Manhattan is more than 20 times denser than most urban areas, and increasing the density of any urban area to Manhattan levels would be impossible.

Within the range of modern urban densities, the effects of land use on transportation are very limited. The 2000 census found that urban-area densities ranged from 850 to 7,000 people per square mile, a variation of more than 700 percent. Yet, outside the New York urban area, household auto ownership rates range from just 82 percent to 97 percent, a variation of only 18 percent. Moreover, there is little correlation between density and auto-ownership rates (correlation coefficient=0.10).

O’Toole goes on to discuss how dense land-use patterns also raise costs to consumer, not just for homes but for consumer goods (if you are expected to walk rather than drive to the grocery store, that necessarily reduces the number of stores competing for your business). As usual, insightful stuff.

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Want an economic boost? Have the government build some sound stages!

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:32 PM

An official with the N.C. School of the Arts is making that recommendation

Perhaps he's never read Karen Palasek's article, "Film Industry Flim-Flam." 

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JDIG report

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 2:20 PM

The Economic Investment Committee report on JDIG, the Job Development Investment Grant program, has some unsurprising information.

Of 14 grants made in 2007:

  • 9 went to Tier Three (i.e., 20 wealthiest) counties
    • 3 to Guilford
    • 3 to Wake
  • 3 went to Tier Two counties
  • 2 went to Tier One (i.e., 40 poorest) counties

The grants to the poorest counties equaled $3.1 million of $108 million in total grants.

From 2003 through 2007, 28 counties have received grants, but more than 21 of those grants have gone to Wake, Mecklenburg, or Guilford counties.

As many as half the disbursements between 2003 and 2007 in the report "have been reviewed and approved for payment but [for which] checks have not been cut." Not sure when those amounts will be reported.

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JDIG pig in a poke

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 12:39 AM

Senator Doug Berger has introduced a bill (SB2075) to redefine multi-county industrial parks and expand JDIG grants this year by $10 million per year in addition to the $15 million in budget bill that passed both chambers, bringing the total to $25 million per year or $300 million.

From past experience with Dell, Google and Goodyear, if there's an odd-sounding request for incentive money, there's a specific company that's asking. There's said to be a report floating around with details on the project, but many legislators are voting without this knowledge. A challenge to LR readers:

  • Who is the mystery company?
  • What multijurisdictional industrial parks might fit the definition in the bill?
  • There's some indication of this happening near Elizabeth City. Anything fit there?

1:05 Update - links for old incentives

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Re: shrieking authoritarians

Posted by Jon Sanders at 12:24 AM

George, apropos of your post:


Just as the communists wanted to change humanity so as to create "New Soviet Man," the environmentalists want to change humanity so as to create "Environmentally Conscious Man." Massive coercion was employed in the former effort and massive coercion is envisioned for the latter.

As Darío Fernández-Morera observed in American Academy and the Survival of Marxist Ideals, the New Soviet Man is not merely analogous to the "Environmentally Conscious Man," but a forerunner of him. The New Soviet Man was such a colossal failure that it required a complete rethinking of Marxist premises: either admit it was a colossal failure, or move the goalposts such that what then was regarded as failure — i.e., privation, economic devastation, the devolution of civilization back to a state of rutting nature — would be regarded as lofty goals.

Fernández-Morera called it the "Misery As An Ideal" approach.

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The greens are "shrieking authoritarians"

Posted by George Leef at 11:44 AM

So says Brendan O'Neill in this devastating piece.

Just as the communists wanted to change humanity so as to create "New Soviet Man," the environmentalists want to change humanity so as to create "Environmentally Conscious Man." Massive coercion was employed in the former effort and massive coercion is envisioned for the latter.

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'Minimum wage workers to benefit from pay raise'

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:12 AM

Had the Rocky Mount Telegram headline writer been allotted more space, she might have added "if their work is productive enough to allow their employers to keep them on the payroll. Meanwhile, potential workers whose productivity does not merit pay of $6.55 per hour will not be able to find employment because of a counterproductive government mandate."

Click here to learn more about the "benefits" of a higher minimum wage.

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That isn't the Iraq issues campaign page he knew

Posted by Jon Sanders at 09:25 AM

The New York Daily News reported:


Barack Obama's campaign scrubbed his presidential Web site over the weekend to remove criticism of the U.S. troop "surge" in Iraq, the Daily News has learned. ...

"The surge is not working," Obama's old plan stated, citing a lack of Iraqi political cooperation but crediting Sunni sheiks - not U.S. military muscle - for quelling violence in Anbar Province. ...

Obama's campaign posted a new Iraq plan Sunday night, which cites an "improved security situation" paid for with the blood of U.S. troops since the surge began in February 2007.


See for yourself. Obama's (current) Iraq web page is here (by way of comparison and to show the Feds that this post isn't about promoting the Obama campaign by virtue of linking only to the Obama campaign web site, here is presumptive opponent John McCain's Iraq web page).

Here is the Internet Archive's cache version of that same Obama campaign web page circa May 9, 2008.

John Maynard Keynes famously quipped that "When the facts change, I change my mind." Apparently when the narrative changes, Obama changes his web site.

He hopes this is a change you can believe in.

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Where to get a $60 burger

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:20 AM

Turns out Gov. Easley was right about the cost of burgers in some parts of Europe. From the New York Times


Some of the most celebrated chefs in the city [Paris] have taken up the challenge. Yannick Alléno, who earned a third Michelin star in 2007 for his precise, rarefied cuisine at Le Meurice, serves a thick, succulent hamburger at his casual restaurant, Le Dali. Mr. Alléno’s baker, Frédéric Lalos, a winner of one of the country’s fiercest cooking competitions, makes the buns. With smoked bacon, lettuce, dill pickles, mustard, mayonnaise and fries, the burger at Le Dali costs 35 euros, about $56.

And that's without onion rings.

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Latest dispatches from the political trail

Posted by John Hood at 07:15 AM

• Kay Hagan, Beverly Perdue, and other Democratic statewide candidates are scheduled to attend the 30th annual North Carolina Senior Democrats Convention on July 26 in Clemmons, near Winston-Salem. For Perdue, a more-immediate campaign stop will be an appearance Friday before a N.C. Press Association meeting in Asheville. Pat McCrory will also address the association, but this will be a series of speeches, not a debate.

• McCrory's fundraising base is, not surprisingly, chock full of Charlotte-area donors, which make up more than half of the total to date. Perdue's donors are more widely distributed.

• Elizabeth Dole is the only senator from the Carolinas to join the majority in overriding President Bush's veto of a Medicare bill.

• PPP's Tom Jensen observes an eerie stability in poll numbers for NC races.

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Everyone knows it’s windy

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:46 AM

As T. Boone Pickens pushes for more taxpayer funding of inefficient wind power, he explains to Newsweek that any new wind-power operations will have to bypass his ranch:
"There are no turbines on my ranch, because I think they are ugly."

Nice. For more reasons wind power is objectionable, see Daren Bakst’s work on the topic.

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How about school choice?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:44 AM

The poor state of American public education draws attention from two Newsweek columnists this week.

The subheadline of Anna Quindlen’s latest column notes: “A teacher who is psyched about engaging struggling students learns that bureaucracy is more important than pedagogy.” The actual column about fired Indiana teacher Connie Heermann also includes this summary:

[I]t's really a cautionary tale about what's too often the ruling principle in American public education: the timidity and inefficiency of powerful bureaucracies far removed from the daily lives of either teachers or kids.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Alter aims his literary assault at “Paleolithic” teachers’ unions, “ready to pounce on any challenge to the failed system they dominate.”

[T]eachers unions, for all their lip service, don't believe their members should be judged on performance. They still believe that protecting incompetents is more important than educating children.

Alter’s on the right track when he recommends steps that would stop teachers from blocking necessary accountability measures. But neither Quindlen nor Alter addresses an even better idea: allowing more parents to vote with their feet through school choice.

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:36 AM

Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Michael Lowrey's report on a state Supreme Court ruling in Henderson County's dispute with a widow over back taxes. 

John Hood's Daily Journal critiques the poorly named Employee Free Choice Act. 

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