February 2, 2009
More green for ACORN
Posted by David N. Bass at 4:47 PM
In case you missed it, the economic "stimulus" bill passed by the U.S. House last week would devote another $4.1 billion to Housing and Urban Development's Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Local governments, nonprofits, and finance/community development agencies are already vying for $4 billion in NSP funds allocated by Congress in July. Soon, they could have even more money to play with.
As described by HUD, the NSP is designed to "provide emergency assistance to state and local governments to acquire and redevelop foreclosed properties that might otherwise become sources of abandonment and blight within their communities." One of the nonprofits in on the deal is ACORN, a group notorious for its election fraud during the '08 cycle.
North Carolina got $52 million in grants under the program. The application deadline for the grants is tomorrow, and the N.C. Department of Commerce will decide in mid-February which local governments, groups, or agencies will get the funds.
More evidence that the "stimulus" plan is a kickback for liberal causes.
In Praise of Parties and Partisanship
Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 4:06 PM
A new Cato Unbound debate is started here today by Nancy Rosenblum the Chair of the Harvard Department of Government.
Lead essayist Nancy Rosenblum argues that political parties need a "moment of appreciation." Schemes to minimize, frustrate, or avoid party politics, and replace it with bipartisanship or nonpartisanship all seem founded, to her, on misconceptions that date to the Progressive Era. Among these misconceptions are the ideas that nonpartisan decisionmakers are impartial, well-informed, and above the corrupting influence of politics. Parties, meanwhile, serve many useful functions in politics. They reduce transaction costs to new political entrants (at whatever level). They encourage the formation of political communities, and they act to inform and supply coherent narratives about current events. Further, the need to maintain winning coalitions means that political parties actually foster, rather than impede, political compromises.
To this, I would add that the unforeseen development of parties is one of the few failings of the Founders. On the other hand, it is testimony to their genius that the system they designed successfully accommodated the development of parties.
But once again, the Progressives in their attack on the Constitution have distorted our thinking about parties and partisanship, especially at the local level. Non-partisan, at large elections in off-years were instituted by the Progressives to get partisan, often machine, politics out of local government. Instead, we have local school boards and city governments run by self-interested elites and professional bureaucrats. The advantages of parties that Professor Rosenblum describes in her essay are lost. It is not hard to demonstrate that democracy takes a back seat to elite politics in local government.
All right -- so what would you Austrians do about the economy?
Posted by George Leef at 2:30 PM
Bob Murphy answers that question here.
Leave a dead doctrine alone
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:25 PM
Reviving the Fairness Doctrine would create far more problems than the doctrine could solve.
That was a key theme in Raleigh-based media attorney Mark Prak's presentation today to the John Locke Foundation's Shaftesbury Society. Click play below to hear one of Prak's main arguments.
4:45 p.m. update: Watch the entire 56:15 presentation by clicking the play button below.
You'll find other John Locke Foundation video presentations here.
House Bill 2 is too dangerous
Posted by Becki Gray at 2:05 PM
Hood writes in his Daily Column today about the silliness of a proposed smoking ban in restaurants and he’s right. But the bill that was filed last week, House Bill 2 goes even further. In it’s present form, if enacted into law, the bill would prohibit smoking in ALL public and private workplaces, not just restaurants. It goes so far as to outlaw smoking in all workplaces, even if there is only one employee who is the owner of the business. It would outlaw smoking in any enclosed area to which the public is invited or permitted to go and in any enclosed area used for private employment - pretty much anywhere anyone works or sets foot on public property.
They would still allow smoking in a private home, unless of course that home is used to provide child or adult care commercially, then there would be no smoking. Tobacco shops are exempt to the ban (gee thanks) but only 20% of hotel rooms could be set aside for smokers.
The bill requires county and city governments to comply with the state wide smoking ban and encourages them to enforce additional, even more restrictive smoking ban ordinances of their own in buildings, on grounds (parks and walkways?) in publicly owned, leased or operated vehicles or in public places.
Hood visited the prohibition of smoking in all state vehicles as was considered by last year’s General Assembly urging lawmakers to be reasonable here, talked about the tyranny of public health imposed by the government here and explained why a smoking ban is an assault on personal freedom here.
Read it all and you’ll understand the dangers of the House Bill 2. It really is all about personal freedom.
Preventive care, RIP
Posted by Joseph Coletti at 1:38 PM
John Goodman points to this article that confirms my claim last summer: preventive care does not save money.
Re: Obama boys and their taxes
Posted by Hal Young at 12:00 AM
More than the car and driver, Joseph, I'm irked at the unreported consulting income.
A close member of my family, retiring from a career teaching elementary school, had an error on her income tax return, and the IRS attached her final paycheck for $600.
On the other hand, former Sen. Daschle (D-SD), simply ignored reporting $83,333 in consulting income, and only 'fessed up and paid his taxes when he was nominated for a Cabinet position.
This isn't business as usual. It looks worse, to me.
More at Four evaluation released
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 11:53 AM
Kids in the More at Four pre-kindergarten program appear to "improve language and literacy, math, general knowledge and social skills," according to the latest evaluation of the MAF program conducted by the FPG Child Development Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill.
That's all well and good, but what happens to these students when they enter 2nd grade or 5th grade? Do these improvements remain? The latest MAF evaluation cannot answer these important questions and that's a problem.
Posted by David N. Bass at 11:25 AM
As discussed last week on this form, President Obama likes to keep the thermostat on the high side, wasting all that energy generated, primarily, by (evil) coal and/or (evil) nuclear. Most media outlets have somehow missed this.
Now, we have yet another example of the president’s duplicity. Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act last week. Its goal is to prevent pay discrimination based on gender in the workplace. But CNSNews.com reports this inconvenient little fact:
Women who worked on Obama’s Senate staff last year … were themselves paid on average 78 cents for every dollar a man was paid, according to data last year from the Report of the Secretary of the Senate.
The data, analyzed by CNSNews.com, showed that in the period from Oct. 1, 2007, through March 31, 2008, Obama paid women on his Senate staff an annual average salary of $44,953.21. That was $12,472 less than the $57,425 average annual salary that then-Sen. Obama paid men.
Darn those statistics.
Gates schools are not working
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 11:04 AM
Between 2005 and 2008, Governor Easley worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to secure millions of dollars to create small, autonomous public high schools. The schools, known as Learn and Earn high schools, became the centerpiece to Governor Easley's education efforts. The state now has dozens of these schools, and taxpayers are footing the bill.
In a statement released from the Gates Foundation, they acknowledge that "Many of the small schools that we invested in did not improve students' achievement in any significant way." That's two billion dollars down the drain. Now, the Gates Foundation is changing its strategy.
Based on what the foundation has learned so far, we have refined our strategy. We will continue to invest in replicating the school models that worked the best. Almost all of these schools are charter schools. Many states have limits on charter schools, including giving them less funding than other schools. Educational innovation and overall improvement will go a lot faster if the charter school limits and funding rules are changed. The new direction is encouraging, but the problem is that North Carolina continues to invest heavily in the Gates small school model.
Not the smartest move on Scott's part
Posted by David N. Bass at 10:03 AM
John Drescher, executive editor of the News & Observer of Raleigh, here pays tribute to the investigative journalism of Pat Stith, a reporter for the N&O who retired in October.
The column describes an investigation by Stith regarding $4,000 in unreported campaign contributions to former Gov. Bob Scott, who passed away recently. From the column:
A previous N&O report said the Internal Revenue Service was investigating corporate contributions to Scott's campaign. Among other things, Stith wanted to ask Scott what happened to the $4,000.
But Scott's aides said he wouldn't talk with Stith. So Stith wrote Scott a note reminding him of his campaign pledge to be "open, honest and frank at all times."
Stith received a handwritten reply from the governor. "I am aware that you are having pressure brought on you by your editor to dig into this," Scott said. "But you can tell him to go to hell as far as the subject of my personal affairs is concerned." It was signed, "Cordially, Bob."
Obama's Keynesian mistake
Posted by George Leef at 09:31 AM
Cato's Ike Brannon and Chris Edwards write about Obama's erroneous belief in Keynesian economic theory here.
The trouble is that Obama is unaware that there is any school of economic thought other than Keynesian. There are some prodigious gaps in our erudite leader's understanding of how the world works.
Obama boys and their taxes
Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:00 AM
First, we learned that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner failed to pay taxes he apparently knew he owed. Now health-tsar-designate Tom Daschle has acknowledged that he had to pay over $100,000 in back taxes and interest for a car and chauffeur he had after leaving the Senate - seems he was so used to having a driver, he just thought it was part of life.
No wonder the people who like big government always want higher tax rates - they have problems paying the taxes they owe, let alone voluntarily paying more.
Kay Yow's funeral
Posted by Paul Chesser at 08:42 AM
If you missed Friday's funeral of legendary North Carolina State University women's basketball coach
Kay Yow, make sure you catch this 20-minute
video she made for the ceremony when she knew her time was
short. Amazing, humble, and God-honoring.
Why Has President Obama Abandoned the White People of Kentucky?
Posted by Jeff A. Taylor at 08:11 AM
Overwhelmingly white areas of Kentucky remain without power days after a huge ice storm killed nine and left 700,000 without power. Hundreds of thousands remain without power as the National Guard mobilizes and local officials complain about a lack of response from FEMA.
Obviously, Barack Obama does not care about white people. Otherwise, he would fixed all this by now. It is the iron law of Katrina: The federal government, marginally competent in the best of times, assumes super-human powers in times of natural disasters. Ergo, any lack of relief is the direct result of a lack of compassion, probably racially motivated, on the part of the occupant of the White House.
With that settled, we can note that actual, on-the-ground help is arriving in the form of quick-thinking, hard-working entrepreneurs. One is already known as the "generator man" for delivering portable power to the backwoods at a $50 to $100 mark-up. His customers call him a "godsend" although he prefers "hustler."
As if by an invisible hand.
How is Keynesianism like smoking?
Posted by George Leef at 07:48 AM
In this devilish piece, Jeff Tucker argues that today's mania for Keynesian "fiscal stimulus" policies is like the notion popular back in the 1950s that smoking was good for you. Both ideas were wrong and damaging, but lots of people wanted to smoke and lots of politicians want to spend unlimited amounts of money, hence the phony cover that both are really good.
Since Republicans have chosen him to lead their party …
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:44 AM
… I thought you might like to revisit Michael Steele’s 2008 presentation to an Americans For Prosperity North Carolina rally in Raleigh.
Liberating home workers
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:43 AMIf last month’s snow or the flakes in this week’s forecast have you thinking about doing more of your work at home, you might be interested in John Hood’s latest contribution to the print edition of National Review.
In a symposium focusing on a dozen conservative ideas that would help the middle class, Hood writes a piece titled “Liberate Homeworkers.” He advocates changes that would benefit the 30 million Americans who own home-based businesses or work at least part of the week at home:
Despite endless political blather, policy has failed to accommodate the expanding ranks of home-based entrepreneurs, flex-timers, and freelancers. Governments at all levels tax them punitively, obstruct their opportunities, and make their lives unnecessarily complicated.
You’ll have to pick up the magazine to read Hood’s Homworker Liberation Agenda. In the meantime, you can check out some of his other recommendations for government here, here, and here.
Proving Mises correct again
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:41 AMA new TIME magazine profile of Obama economic adviser Lawrence Summers includes this assessment from new Treasury Secretary Timothy “Taxes? What taxes?” Geithner, a Summers ally:
”His solutions tend to be government-led, progressive structuring of the market for what he perceives as the greater social good. …”
This reminds me of a classic line from Ludwig von Mises: “Every socialist is a disguised dictator.” We’re in trouble when we allow politicians of any stripe to decide they should impose their ideas of the greater social good on the economy.
In case you missed him this weekend …
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:39 AM
… on UNC TV’s “Legislative Week In Review,” you can see Joe Coletti by clicking play below.
Click here for more of Joe’s thoughts about the impact of government overspending on today’s budget woes.
Think the economic mess points to a need for more regulation?
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:37 AMThen you might be interested to read Columbia Business School professor Amar Bhide's commentary in the new Business Week.
Economists on this forum will likely different with Bhide's prescriptions, but they might appreciate at least some of what he suggests in this passage:
Here is my modest, quasi-libertarian, proposal: To prevent future meltdowns, let's revive the radical idea of narrow commercial banking. Let's tightly limit bank activity to taking deposits and making loans—loans that bankers and regulators who aren't theoretical mathematicians can monitor. (Simple hedging to reduce the risks of making long-term loans with short-term deposits would be allowed.)
Anyone else—investment banks, hedge funds, trusts—would be allowed to innovate and speculate, free of additional oversight. But they wouldn't be permitted to trade with or secure credit from regulated banks, except through prudent, well-secured loans. None of this would require new agencies or more regulators.
For some other recent Locker Room commentary on our current economic woes, click here, here, and here.
Today's Carolina Journal Online features
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:32 AM
The week's first Carolina Journal exclusive features Karen Welsh's report on some disappointed attendees of the recent presidential inauguration.
John Hood's Daily Journal critiques the new smoking ban proposed by some members of the General Assembly.
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