The Locker Room

February 2, 2010

Davie County voters reject sales tax hike again

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 9:42 PM

Two years after their last attempt to boost the local sales tax by a quarter-cent, Davie County commissioners were handed another defeat. Just 10.6% of voters made it to the polls, but the measure lost 1,749 to 1,051. Voter turnout was actually lower than the county's 10.8% unemployment rate.

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Prez offends Las Vegas, taxpayers

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 6:59 PM

Las Vegas folk are not happy about the "cash on Vegas" remark, but the comment about tightening belts is the real kicker.

During the president's town hall meeting in Nashua, New Hampshire, he discussed the need to curb spending during tough economic times. "When times are tough, you tighten your belts," the president said. "You don't go buying a boat when you can barely pay your mortgage. You don't blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you're trying to save for college."

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Re: A weak defense

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:29 PM

Good points, George.

Those who haven't watched might enjoy the video of the public panel discussion associated with the Pope Center report.

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Is Tebow ad pro-choice?

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 4:07 PM

Sally Jenkins puts the Tim Tebow Super Bowl commercial and its critics in the proper light.

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A weak defense of the School of the Arts status quo

Posted by George Leef at 3:23 PM

Today's N&O includes a weak defense of the status quo with respect to the UNC School of the Arts by Chancellor John Mauceri. You can read his piece here.

In his Pope Center paper released last December, Max Borders argued that the School of the Arts, like almost every other fine arts school in the nation, could be and should be privately funded. Why? Because taxpayers, most of whom receive no benefit at all from the arts training provided by the school, should not be compelled to pay for it. Furthermore, institutions that have to rely on voluntary fundraising have a strong incentive to operate more efficiently than do institutions that depend on state appropriations. On those arguments, Mauceri has nothing to say.

Mauceri devotes several paragraphs to defending his school against criticisms that were not made. Borders did not contend that the arts are not valuable; nor did he criticize the quality of the programs at the school.

Mauceri takes issue with Borders on the question of what percentage of UNCSA graduates remain in North Carolina, saying that the figure is 50 percent rather than 15 percent. I say that's entirely irrelevant because no one who goes to fine arts performances knows or cares where the performers were trained. There is a national market for artistic talent and organizations in North Carolina have to compete for it just the same as do organizations in the 48 states that don't have a state-funded school.

Lastly, Mauceri argues that we should keep the status quo because UNCSA accounts for only 1 percent of the UNC budget. Again, that's irrelevant. The state should not spend money on anything that can be provided by voluntary means, no matter how great or small the amount.

This piece was just a song and dance meant to distract people from the real issues.

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Hayek, Friedman, Keynes

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 2:10 PM


If you want to hear some of the debate between Hayek and Keynes, beyond this video, check out Russ Roberts' conversation with Larry White on EconTalk.

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Re: Kissell lags

Posted by Paul Chesser at 1:24 PM

Charlotte's Mike Tuggle writes today at American Spectator Online about the candidacies of Kissell's two GOP challengers.

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No Dogs Allowed

Posted by Daren Bakst at 1:06 PM

The North Carolina Commission for Public Health has just proposed a statewide ban on dogs (and all pets) in outdoor dining areas of restaurants.

The language of the proposed regulations (see page 1249) has a general rule that live animals are not allowed on the premises of food service establishments.  There are a few exceptions, such as for service animals for the disabled.  The exception of interest is this one that allows:

pets in outdoor dining areas; provided that pets shall not pass through any indoor areas of the food service establishment and shall not come into contact with employees engaged in the preparation or handling of food, utensils, or other items that may result in contamination of food or food contact surfaces.  Nothing in this Rule prohibits a food service establishment from prohibiting pets in outdoor dining areas.  [Emphasis added].

Since wait-staff handle utensils, this exception is extremely limited.  It would only cover outdoor areas where employees in no way handle utensils ("or other items that may result...").  So maybe this would cover a restaurant where a customer goes to a counter, picks up the food, and sits down outside to eat the food.

This issue is far from unimportant.  It is another attack on property rights, grounded in the same logic, as the smoking ban.  Instead of telling property owners they can't have smoking in their establishments, an agency is telling property owners they can't have pets in (or outside) their establishments.

For more background on this issue, I highly recommend this column by Jenna.

A hearing on the proposed rule is February 16, 2010.  Comments are due April 5, 2010.

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Kissell lags his challenger in money on hand

Posted by David N. Bass at 12:58 AM

The N&O's Under the Dome reports that one of Larry Kissell's challengers has more money in the bank than the one-term incumbent does.

Kissell, a Democrat representing North Carolina's 8th congressional district, has $318,000 on hand. One of six Republicans mounting a challenge, Tim D’Annunzio, has $372,500. D’Annunzio has poured reams of his own cash into the race.

Although the 8th is staking up to be the most competitive congressional race in North Carolina this year, the funding difference isn't too big a deal. Former 8th District Congressman Robin Hayes out-raised Kissell two-to-one in 2008, but Kissell ended up offing him by a comfortable 55 percent to 45 percent margin.

Kissell did benefit from substantial support from out of state — and, of course, Obama's coattails. But the money race, while important, is less important than the national political tide and local anger, as proven in 2008.

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Sex Sells at College

Posted by Jenna Ashley Robinson at 11:17 AM

On February 15, the UNC-CH College Republicans are bringing Stephen Moore to campus to speak on a very non-sexy topic: "The End of Prosperity." In order to get students to attend, they intend on doing extensive advertising, campaigning on campus, and informing professors. (It's at the Kenan Center #2250 at 7:30pm, by the way.)

Two other speakers at NC schools probably won't have any trouble attracting a student audience: Dr. Ruth (at Duke) and Larry Flynt (at UNC-CH).

UNC anticipates that the Larry Flynt speech, entitled "Sexually Explicit Speech and the First Amendment," will be so popular that it is being held in the Great Hall and requires advanced tickets.

Dr. Ruth's speech "Sexually Speaking" garnered eight cosponsors: Jewish Life, Rubenstien Silvers Hillel Student Board, DUU Major Speakers, Duke University Athletics, Student Health, SOFC, the Women's Center, and Baldwin Scholars. I've never seen so many co-sponsors for anything academic, and certainly never for anything even slightly conservative.

Apparently sex and controversy sell--even in our hallowed halls of learning.

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Like a Rotting Orange

Posted by Becki Gray at 10:43 AM

We know the unemployment rate has grown to record highs and this map is a great illustration of the deterioration of the nation’s economy.  Kind of like a rotting orange.  It was created by LaToya Egwuekwe while she was a graduate student at American University.  She got an A.  


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Obama's new math

Posted by Rick Henderson at 10:23 AM

Remember the brouhaha about the estimated 3.5 million jobs that were going to be "created or saved" by the stimulus bill? Since that PR campaign landed with a thud, the Obama folks have arrived at another way to sell the stimulus: Stop pretending to count those phantom jobs. From The New York Times:

From February to September, the administration had said, more than 640,000 jobs were saved or created. But in the final quarter of 2009, the administration no longer asked recipients whether all of those jobs were actually created or saved by the stimulus money or whether some of those jobs might have existed without the stimulus money.

Instead, it now simply counts all existing jobs paid for with stimulus money as saved jobs, whether or not they would have been lost without the money.

The new, more expansive definition will make it more difficult to isolate the effects of the stimulus law ... .

Carolina Journal's Sara Burrows found federal stimulus dollars that were sent to phantom ZIP codes in North Carolina here and here. To its credit, I suppose, the administration claimed this $2.5 million created only 0.5 jobs.

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This is a good pair of videos from NR

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 10:12 AM

This pair of videos from National Review TV's Uncommon Knowledge features University of Chicago legal scholar Richard Epstein and former Under Secretary of the Treasury and Stanford Economics Professor John Taylor discuss Keynesianism vs Milton Friedman's monetarism and the causes of our current economic problems. They are the first two parts in a series of 5 with the other 3 still to come. My only complaint so far is that the discussion has ignored Mises, Hayek and the Austrian contributions to this entire debate which are distinct from Friedman's arguments. And historically the great debate was not between Friedman and Keynes but between Hayek and Keynes. But there are still three segments to come. We will see if the conversation shifts. Here are the links to segments one and two.  

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Individual policies > COBRA

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 10:10 AM

When people who purchase insurance on their own become unemployed, they are three times as likely to remain insured than those who were insured through their employers, even with COBRA. But COBRA is expensive and entails a big jump in premiums, so just 19 percent of unemployed people had purchased coverage that way. John Hood comments today on the coming end of federal subsidies to make COBRA more affordable. Those subsidies doubled the percentage of unemployed taking up the continuation of coverage benefit as they cut the cost to individuals by 65 percent.

Recent research goes further still, and finds that the benefits from individually-based insurance more than offset any cost savings from getting insurance in a group plan.

Individual policies provide more choice, more security, and cost less for the unemployed without raising cost to taxpayers. Why do Republicans and Democrats alike want to build on the current employer-based system?

cross posted at

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Re: How to Make a Weak ...

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 09:41 AM


Folks can follow this link for a transcript of Amity Shlaes' Carolina Journal Radio interview on The Forgotten Man or click play below to watch her John Locke Foundation Headliner speech on the same topic.

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How to Make a Weak Economy Worse

Posted by Dr. Karen Y. Palasek at 09:31 AM

That's the title of the op-ed piece by Amity Schlaes in today's Wall Street Journal. Telling how Obama's administration has set in motion programs and attacks on economic recovery engines that parallel the ones used by FDR to extend and deepen the Great Depression. The full telling of the history is in her 2008 book "The Forgotten Man."
corrected: it's "Weak" Economy not "Bad" Economy as first posted.

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ABC monopolies make more money

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:24 AM

No surprise that the nine Brunswick County ABC boards say they can be more profitable if they eliminate competition, or in their word "consolidate." Hurting the consumer has been the standard procedure in Brunswick since the county returned to the alcohol business in the early 1990s.

Fearing competition from the new county stores, the towns persuaded the legislature to forbid the county system to place a store within seven miles of a municipality that already had one.

Daren wrote about similar anti-consumer regulation in the auto industry.

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New Court of Appeals opinions

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:52 AM

In the latest batch of opinions issued from the N.C. Court of Appeals this morning:

  • A unanimous three-judge panel rejected Winston-Salem's attempt to throw out a lawsuit linked to the 2006 death of a 7-year-old bicyclist struck and killed by a drunk driver. The boy's mother can continue to pursue her claims of city "negligence in violating various safety statutes and municipal ordinances regulating the maintenance of its streets, obstructions to vision and traffic, and parking regulations." 
  • A unanimous three-judge panel upheld a 2008 trial court ruling favoring the City of Charlotte in a development dispute involving homeowners in Coventry Woods and Cedars East.
  • A unanimous three-judge panel upheld a 2008 trial court ruling in a fight over development of the "old Babies hospital" property in Wilmington. 
  • A unanimous three-judge panel upheld a 2009 trial court ruling in favor of Winston-Salem State University in a legal fight over the firing of an untenured assistant professor.
  • A unanimous three-judge panel threw out an appeal from Craven County Schools linked to a worker's compensation dispute.

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Charter op-ed gets response

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 08:50 AM

I am pleased that Dr. Helen Ladd of Duke University responded to my recent op-ed in the News & Observer. I have a lot of respect for Dr. Ladd and her superb record of research. She introduces a number of interesting arguments into the discussion.

She argues, "Implicit in his argument are the assumptions that charter schools are effective in raising student achievement." But my argument was about politics, not student achievement. Here is my thesis statement,

Education leaders and elected officials in North Carolina would rather appease special interest groups than follow President Barack Obama’s efforts to increase educational options for parents.
We could have a productive debate about student achievement. For example, I would be interested in hearing Dr. Ladd's take on the recent CREDO report that concluded "the presence of caps puts significant downward pressure on student results."

But my op-ed recounts the special interest groups that cut the charter school reform off at the knees, as well as the irony of the state using a term like "charter-like schools without charters."

My guess is that the special interest groups that stifle charter school growth in North Carolina are not doing so because of Dr. Ladd's research. They do so because monopolies dislike competition. In the case of Race to the Top, they do so regardless of the direction of the Obama administration or the consequences for North Carolina's Race to the Top application.

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What's the most toxic asset of all?

Posted by George Leef at 08:24 AM

A politician's tongue when he's deceiving people. Alvaro Vargas Llosa makes that point here in a piece on Obama's populist anti-banking rhetoric.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:51 AM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Lee Raynor's report about an SBI investigation focusing on the Duplin County schools.

John Hood's Daily Journal tackles the problem of health-insurance portability.

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