Watauga County voters will decide Aug. 31 whether county commissioners can boost the local sales-tax rate by 0.25 cents.
Even though county leaders say they would devote the $1.9 million generated from the tax hike to recreational facilities, Terry Stoops says voters should consider Watauga's track record with a newly opened high school. He explains here and in the video clip below.
There is a very good analysis of the tea party movement in today's Wall St. Journal by former Congressman Dick Army and Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of Freedomworks. I think one of the more interesting points they make relates to the spontaneous and unplanned nature of the movement and how this speaks to its effectiveness. Army and Kibbe note that:
The tea party movement has blossomed into a powerful social
phenomenon because it is leaderless—not directed by any one mind,
political party or parochial agenda...The
many branches of the tea party movement have created a virtual
marketplace for new ideas, effective innovations and creative tactics.
Best practices come from the ground up, around kitchen tables, from
Facebook friends, at weekly book clubs, or on Twitter feeds. This is
beautiful chaos—or, as the Nobel Prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek put
it, "spontaneous order."
not top-down hierarchy, is the best way to maximize the contributions
of people and their personal knowledge. Let the leaders be the activists
who have the best knowledge of local personalities and issues.
It is the leaderless and spontaneous nature of the movement that frustrates its opponents the most. It cannot be destroyed by cutting off its head. This is because the movement has evolved completely independent of any leader or any George Soros type pot of gold. It is united by ideas not by personalities. And it is the battleground of ideas that the left is most uncomfortable with. This is why they are always asking "who's funding them" or searching for personalities to discredit. What they don't understand is that, because of the movement's decentralized and spontaneous nature, these are tools that can't work. My concern is that their frustration will lead lead them to use raw power and coercion, most likely through the political process, to shut down their opponents. There is one lesson that progressives have learned well--state power can work quite effectively when goals can't be accomplished by voluntary persuasion and argumentation. Opponents, decentralized or not, can be snuffed out by the use of raw political power.
It could not happen to two nicer southern Arizona Democrats. In this corner Blue Dog Democrat Rep. Gabrielle Giffords trying to save her vulnerable seat and in the opposite corner Progressive Democrat Rep. Raul Grijalva who is so outraged with Giffords over her support of the new immigration law in Az that he attacks her at DailyKos.
For the view from North Carolina don't miss the JLF Headliner luncheon "2010 Election Preview" on September 29th
Giffords’ district – one with a significant Republican lean – is currently rated as vulnerable
by respected analyst Charlie Cook. For a Democrat in a conservative
state, representing a Republican-leaning seat, it is important to stake
out moderate stances on controversial issues. That’s particularly true
on a hot-button issue such as immigration, which is obviously very
important to Arizona voters this year.
That’s probably the reason
Giffords took to the airwaves to make clear that she opposes the
boycott favored by some liberals to pressure the state to rescind its
new immigration law. This was probably smart politics, but it put her
at odds with the liberal grassroots – and with Congressman Raul
Grijalva, who was an advocate of the boycott. Worse still, Giffords’
border district abuts Congressman Grijalva’s and the two share the
Tucson media market. It’s that market where her ads are airing.
...and private sector spending increases only 5 times. See the details from the Mercatus Center here.
Because state and local governments depend on the private sector for
their tax revenue, this path is not sustainable; state and local
government spending cannot continually outpace the wealth-creating
sector of the economy.
When going on a road trip from North Carolina, fuel up in one of our neighboring states, not North Carolina. Compared to our neighbors, NC is the most expensive state when it comes to prices at the pump. We also are pretty bad when it comes to the entire southeast.
Nationally, NC is actually pretty good (16th highest prices), but that has more to do with regional factors (such as distribution) than anything else (southeastern gas prices are inexpensive compared to the rest of the country).
*Numbers are rounded. Technically, two states don't have the same exact prices as listed above--the higher priced state is listed after the lower price state (for example, Arkansas is more expensive than TN)
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich's latest Human Eventscolumn presents a stark choice for voters:
In the 2008 campaign, President Obama gave us all a hint of his
socialist leanings when he promised to Joe the Plumber that he would
“spread the wealth around.” Last week, we found out that his policies
and those of the Democrats are delivering on that promise…although
probably not in the way they expected.
The use of food stamps hit a record high in May 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with 40.8
million Americans receiving Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program
(SNAP) subsidies for food purchases. This is more than one-eighth of
Worse, the USDA projects the number of Americans using food stamps will rise to 43.3 million in 2011.
President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are insisting that
the economy has turned the corner and things are getting better. But
how can the economy be getting better if the use of food stamps, a key
metric in gauging the health of the American economy, is projected to
increase over the next year?
A few weeks ago, in this newsletter, I wrote that the fall campaign
should be framed around a choice between job killers and job creators. Sticking to that theme, another way to phrase that clear choice for
voters is between policies that result in more Americans receiving food
stamps and policies that result in more Americans receiving
If you agreed with Randal O'Toole's arguments against high-speed rail for North Carolina, you might enjoy this update from Newsweek:
The Obama administration has envisioned a high-speed rail system to rival those overseas. But
despite $8 billion in federal support, U.S. rail remains the world’s
caboose. Most of the money has gone to projects in Florida, California,
and the Midwest, all of which have suffered setbacks.
The Florida line, which would link Tampa to
Orlando, has been diced up by designs for five station stops; a bullet
train would beat a car by only 30 minutes. Californians have sued the
state to keep special elevated tracks from becoming a “Berlin Wall”
through their neighborhoods, while gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman
wants to shelve the idea until better economic times. And Ohio’s leg of
the Chicago hub—where trains would reach a sedate top speed of 79mph and
between-city averages as low as 39mph—has become a political whipping
post. Gubernatorial frontrunner John Kasich has pledged to divert train
funds to roads—a move that drew a rebuke from Transportation Secretary
Ray LaHood, who remains optimistic. “We’re in the be-ginning stages,” he
At times like this, governments tend to champion particular sectors like
manufacturing, or industries like green technology. But true dynamism
flows from continuous innovation, experimentation, adaptation, and
change, all of which raise productivity over time. Those productivity
gains, in turn, lift incomes and drive consumption. This fuels more
innovation—and a dynamic economy thus expands in a healthy, sustainable
How exactly do we foster economic dynamism? Twenty
years of McKinsey Global Institute research shows that the mix of
sectors within an economy explains very little of the difference in a
country’s GDP growth rate. In other words, dynamism doesn’t turn on
whether an economy has a large financial sector, or big manufacturers,
or a semiconductor industry, but instead on whether the sectors are
competitive or not. Instead of picking winners and funneling subsidies
to them, countries must get the basics right. These include a solid rule
of law, with patents and protections for intellectual property,
enforceable contracts, and courts to resolve disputes; access to
finance, particularly for startups; and an efficient physical and
Once the basics are in place, the key is ensuring
strong competition within sectors. Governments can encourage this by
minimizing the barriers to entry and exit in an industry, opening their
markets to trade, repealing subsidies and regulations that favor
incumbents, and breaking up monopolies. They can create greater
transparency in heavily regulated sectors such as health care and power
generation. They can also nurture human talent by providing workers with
the ongoing education and skills needed to adapt to 21st-century jobs.
In his latest column, Washington Examiner senior political analyst Michael Barone notes that government — despite getting bigger — seems less capable of completing big projects quickly.
Today government takes longer to do things. The Obama Democrats' stimulus package was passed by Congress in February 2009. Of the $140 billion authorized for infrastructure spending, less than $20 billion had been disbursed 12 months later.
The $8 billion of stimulus money set aside for high-speed rail won't be used for years in the Northeast Corridor, the busiest passenger rail artery in the nation, because the Obama administration ordered a strict environmental review.
[Pentagon construction supervisor Gen. Brehon] Somervell and his WPA boss Harry Hopkins would have had things moving a lot faster than that. Of course they didn't have to deal with the intricacies and incrustations of federal procurement policy that have been built up over the years.
They didn't have to get clearance from environmental agencies and then prepare for the lawsuits that in our time area are inevitably launched by environmental advocacy groups (part of the Pentagon was built on mud flats; any endangered species there?).
They didn't have to engage in endless negotiations with state and local agencies. In New York, Somervell settled his disagreements with Mayor Fiorello La Guardia in brief shouting matches, after which everyone quickly went to work.
A case can be made that some of these changes are beneficial. Recent reconstruction of the Pentagon showed that some of the cement that was supposed to be poured never was. A nearby semi-shanty town inhabited by blacks was ruthlessly torn down. We do want to protect the environment more than Americans did in the 1940s.
But even those conservatives who don't want government to do much do want government to do the things it should be doing reasonably rapidly.
When three days after the BP Gulf oil spill the Dutch government offered its oil-skimming ships and oil-cleansing technology, the Environment Protection Agency rejected them for weeks because the cleaned ocean water would contain more than 15 parts per million oil. Gen. Somervell wouldn't have taken five minutes to make the opposite decision.
Big government has become a big, waddling, sluggish beast, ever ready to boss you around, but not able to perform useful functions at anything but a plodding pace. It needs to be slimmed down and streamlined, so it can get useful things done fast.
That's the strategy Obamacrats are using in their efforts at keeping voters aboard their sinking ship. So writes John Stossel in his latest column.
No matter how awful the mess the mega-state makes, those who benefit from it will always say that more freedom would be too terrible to contemplate. More state control over society is always the right thing.
No one destroys economic nonsense so common in the media in fewer words than Don Boudreaux. Here is his letter to USA Today. I call it his "local government" edition.
Here’s a letter to USA Today:
Observing that suburban lawns consume land as well as other resources, Laura Vanderkam concludes that lawns are wasteful and environmentally destructive (“Out of fashion: Green lawns,” August 17). Never mind that lawns are attractive and that they provide safe havens for children (and adults) to play in. Ms. Vanderkam has divined that suburbanites unthinkingly overvalue these benefits.
Newspapers – such as the one that Ms. Vanderkam writes for – consume trees, petroleum (in the form of ink), electricity, and numerous other resources. Were I as confident in my knowledge and speculations as Ms. Vanderkam is in hers, I might divine that newspapers are an unfortunate “fashion” that we would be wise to avoid.
At any rate, anyone who did conclude that newspapers aren’t worth their environmental costs would stand on intellectual grounds just as sturdy – and just as barren – as those that Ms. Vanderkam stands on when she criticizes suburban lawns.
Sincerely, Donald J. Boudreaux
As my colleague Tom Hazlett asks pointedly (in a private e-mail to me), “Are ‘Green Belts’ and ‘Open Space’ socially and/or environmentally progressive only when held by the state?”
And as Division of Labour‘s Frank Stephenson notes, also in a private e-mail, “Just call lawns ‘rainwater runoff reduction areas.’ Problem solved.”