After raising the property-tax rate by 9 cents in the past two years — including a $1 million increase in the past year alone — Montgomery County commissioners want to pile on to the local tax burden with a sales-tax hike.
JLF researchers question the proposal. You'll find details here.
I highly recommend this essay by Robert Holland, published on Minding the Campus. He writes about various conferences where zealous teachers and professors share stories about how best to indoctrinate students in diversity, social justice, etc. The existence of these conferences reminds us that substantial numbers of academics see their job as that of "change agent" and they are eager to use the classroom to push their misty-eyed vision of society.
People across the political spectrum can praise wealthy donors' decisions to give to philanthropic causes.
But even the most well-intentioned donor or charitable group can make huge mistakes. Martin Morse Wooster, senior fellow at the Capital Research Center and contributing editor to Philanthropy magazine, chronicles some of the biggest doozies in the book Great Philanthropic Mistakes, recently revised and expanded for a second edition.
Wooster discussed the book today with the John Locke Foundation's Shaftesbury Society. In the video clip below, he discusses why the people who lead charitable groups often make mistakes.
2 p.m. update: Click play below to watch the full 44:25 presentation.
You'll find other John Locke Foundation video presentations here.
There's been a great deal of chatter coming from the pundit class over President Obama's admitting to the New York Times that there were really no "shovel ready jobs" waiting to be funded by his [anti] stimulus package. All of the discussion I have heard so far misses the point. The implication has been that Obama was wrong on the question of shovel ready jobs and this is why his plan didn't work. This, of course implies that if there were all these projects ready to go Obama's plan indeed would have given the economy the [language alert] kick in the ass that it needed. But in fact the reason why Obama's plan failed has nothing to do with a lack of shovel ready jobs. Shovel ready jobs or not, an economy cannot be stimulated by diverting money that would otherwise go to consumption, saving or investment in one part of the economy and dumping it on another--via the political bargaining process in Washington, of course. In other words, shovel ready jobs or not, what Obama called a stimulus plan was doomed to failure because it was impossible for it succeed, assuming, of course, that its goal was actually to stimulate economic growth and job creation. If, instead, its purpose was to increase the size and scope of government then it was a rousing success.
I've been spending some time at Tea Parties across the state and continue to be inspired, motivated, educated and motivated by the great folks I have met and with whom I share a commitment to limited and more responsible government. Others have weighed in as well.
Peter Berkowitz had a good commentry in the Wall Street Journal on the Tea Party movement explaining why so many liberals just don't get it.
Whether members have read much or little of The Federalist, the tea
party movement's focus on keeping government within bounds and
answerable to the people reflects the devotion to limited government
embodied in the Constitution. One reason this is poorly understood among
our best educated citizens is that American politics is poorly taught
at the universities that credentialed them. Indeed, even as the tea
party calls for the return to constitutional basics, our universities
neglect The Federalist and its classic exposition of constitutional
Hood had this to say about Tea Partiers accused of being extremists:
If you think average Americans informing themselves, exercising their
rights, and challenging the pretensions of the political class are
properly thought of as extremists, that says more about you than it says
about them. It suggests that you are the extremist.
And Mitch discusses Tea Party influence on the election here.
Writing at the Center for College Affordability and Productivity blog Christopher Matgouranis shows how badly we have oversold college. He points to Bureau of Labor Statistics data on the prevalence of college degrees among those working in jobs that most high school students could easily learn, such as installing cable TV.
It is worth noting that this is not a recent phenomenon. College grads have been spilling over into "high school jobs" for many years.
Obama wants to substantially increase the number of Americans getting college degrees, but what does he think they'll be doing?
Peter Berkowitz had an excellent analysis in Saturday's WSJ. Read his piece here.
One of his main targets is Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne, who looks down his nose at tea partiers because he thinks they exhibit a deranged mistrust of government power.
Now, I do not recall Dionne ranting against mistrust of government power when the left was skeptical about Bush administration arguments for the war against Iraq. That skepticism was entirely reasonable. But when people turn skeptical about the supposed good of having the government run the health care industry, about having it "stimulate" the economy through politically-directed "shovel ready projects," about federal favors for supportive interest groups such as labor unions, and many other parts of the costly, authoritarian Obama agenda, well, they're just being foolish.
Berkowitz argues that the reason why supposed intellectuals like Dionne can't understand the rising opposition to the mega-state is that they're lacking some key educational components. He's right, but doesn't quite put his finger on the gaping hole: they're unfamiliar with public choice theory. Public choice is the antidote for the mystical, childish, ideas about democracy that kids usually get in school. Once you grasp public choice, you give up the notion that democracy works for the common good because, among other defects, politicians are short-sighted (focusing mainly on winning the next election), they're subject to special interest group pressures, and they rarely suffer adverse consequences when they make bad decisions.
Dionne dismisses the Tea Party, claiming that its supporters don't rely on "facts." What baloney. How about the fact, Mr. Dionne, that federal policy engineered the housing bubble? How about the fact that ObamaCare is already causing health insurance costs to rise? Or the fact that government schools do a poor job of educating students, but do so at very high cost?
There are lots and lots of facts to justify mistrust of government.
Remember back to 2006 when Republican candidates were desperate for any issue to save themselves? Four years later, the tables have been turned and its the Democrats who are desperate. The red herring du jour is campaign funding, with cries of horror that some "foreign money" might be flowing into GOP campaigns. As this Breitbart piece shows, however, the Democrats themselves are happy to use foreign money.
The whole issue is absurd. Political ads do not suddenly become more effective merely because the funding source is to some degree foreign. People can and will evaluate the message in exactly the same way they do purely American-funded ads. If they think the argument sensible, they may be swayed; if they find it to be nonsense, they won't be.
U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-7th, insists he’s his own man.
In North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race, Democrat Elaine Marshall’s campaign says she raised $1.2 million in the third quarter compared to the $1.6 billion Republican Richard Burr’s campaign says he raised
Politico: GOP challengers outraise 40-plus House Democrats.
If you followed the “government collusion ” link in the previous entry, you had a chance to read Roy Cordato’s thoughts about the argument that President Obama is anti-business. Follow this link to read George Leef’s take on the same topic.
These are important observations to keep in mind as you read about Obama’s attacks on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as described in the latest TIME. Michael Crowley notes that there’s more to Obama’s fighting words than meets the eye:
[W]hat's really inspiring the White House assault may be less obvious: turning out the Democratic base. For weeks, Obama has been warning disaffected Democrats that not voting on Nov. 2 will ensure Republican gains likely to squelch the liberal agenda. Obama's 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, says Democrats are showing signs of an enthusiasm surge. Others are more skeptical of the chamber bashing. "It's pretty thin stuff," says one Democratic strategist. But with few popular achievements to brag about before the election, invoking the specter of secret corporate money might be Obama's last, best hope of showing liberals that he's made the right enemies — maybe not abroad but certainly at home.
The latest Bloomberg Businessweekcover story makes the case that business leaders are shying away from political candidates with Tea Party ties, even a low-tax, small-government, former business owner like South Carolina Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley.
But the big businesses’ fear should not be too surprising when one considers that Tea Party activists tend to support free enterprise, not government collusion with entrenched business interests.
The article quotes former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey on the subject:
"Big Business is sitting there on fat, pushy duffs looking for government to keep them in business," said Armey in an August interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. Only "incompetent" companies needed bailouts, he added. "People who run corporations are basically taking care of themselves. They're not very reliable people, and they're very comfortable with Big Government that greases the skids for them."
In an issue devoted to “giving back,” U.S. News & World Report features a pro & con discussion of compulsory national service.
The Heritage Foundation’s Matthew Spalding offers the following remarks in opposition to forced service:
Volunteerism, what Alexis de Tocqueville called our “spirit of association,” is in the national DNA. Policymakers have long recognized the importance of citizen engagement and philanthropic volunteerism to a thriving civil society.
But government should not attempt to compel its citizens to engage in these worthwhile endeavors. It proper role is merely to energize a culture of personal commitment to those in need as a way of strengthening the natural grounds of citizenship and community.
The goal of citizen service should be to protect and strengthen civil society. Tocqueville observed that one of American society’s great virtues is its tendency to create voluntary associations to meet the most important needs of the people. Other nations handled these needs through and by government; but in the United States, private individuals of all ages, conditions, and dispositions formed associations.
It’s her commitment to “service” that helped Gov. Beverly Perdue attract attention in the latest print version of U.S. News & World Report. (It’s interesting that the only two governors from whom the magazine solicits input are one of the nation’s least popular governors and the one with the nation’s worst unemployment rate.)
But aside from the comments about the joys of service, the remarks that attracted my attention were those dealing with economic development.
Every so often, though, you enact a law or close a deal that delivers a positive impact that you can see and feel right away. In these difficult times, there is nothing more rewarding than convincing a company to move to, or expand in, North Carolina and create jobs. When I recently announced Caterpillar’s expansion at not one but two plants, the audiences exuded both excitement and relief. It was the best payback you could hope for.
It’s nice to read near the end of her column that the governor is willing to take a “barrage of attacks” for her focus on ribbon cuttings and press releases, rather than real policies focusing on economic growth:
[I]f that’s part of the cost of advancing my ideas, of landing that next corporate relocation and raising the quality of life for folks in my state, then it’s more than worth it.
A recent issue of Hillsdale College’s Imprimis features Amity Shlaes’ thoughts about the importance of good economic “rules of the game” in contributing to economic recovery.
In returning frequently to the metaphor of the Monopoly board game — which developed during the Great Depression — Shlaes decries a government that shoves other players aside to “monopolize the board”:
It is not hard to see some of today’s troubles as a repeat of the errors of the 1930s. There is arrogance up top. The federal government is dilettantish with money and exhibits disregard and even hostility to all other players. It is only as a result of this that economic recovery seems out of reach.
The key to recovery, now as in the 1930s, is to be found in property rights. These rights suffer under our current politics in several ways. The mortgage crisis, for example, arose out of a long-standing erosion of the property rights concept—first on the part of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but also on that of the Federal Reserve. Broadening FDR’s entitlement theories, Congress taught the country that home ownership was a “right.” This fostered a misunderstanding of what property is. The owners didn’t realize what ownership entailed—that is, they didn’t grasp that they were obligated to deliver on the terms of the contract of their mortgage. In the bipartisan enthusiasm for making everyone an owner, our government debased the concept of home ownership.
Property rights are endangered as well by the ongoing assault on contracts generally. A perfect example of this was the treatment of Chrysler bonds during the company’s bankruptcy, where senior secured creditors were ignored, notwithstanding the status of their bonds under bankruptcy law. The current administration made a political decision to subordinate those contracts to union demands. That sent a dangerous signal for the future that U.S. bonds are not trustworthy.
Three other threats to property loom. One is tax increases, such as the coming expiration of the Bush tax cuts. More taxes mean less private property. A second threat is in the area of infrastructure. Stimulus plans tend to emphasize infrastructure—especially roads and railroads. And after the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision of 2005, the federal government will have enormous license to use eminent domain to claim private property for these purposes. Third and finally, there is the worst kind of confiscation of private property: inflation, which excessive government spending necessarily encourages. Many of us sense that inflation is closer than the country thinks.