The Locker Room

August 2, 2010

Sales tax holiday this weekend

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 3:54 PM

The sham of a tax break that is the sales tax holiday returns for its annual appearance this weekend. The Tax Foundation in Washington, DC, explains again why tax holidays are a bad idea. We need a better sales tax and fewer distortions in the tax code.

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The next Alvin Greene?

Posted by David N. Bass at 3:40 PM

Only this time from Tennessee.

HT: Gary Pearce at

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Dems to U.S. Attorney: put up or shut up on Easley

Posted by David N. Bass at 2:45 PM

Democratic strategist Brad Crone has a message for Republican-appointed prosecutors in the Mike Easley scandal: put up or shut up.

As reports, Democrats say that U.S. Attorney George Holding should indict the former governor or drop the case:

"Bring the indictments. Let's see what you got," Democratic consultant Brad Crone said Friday. "If you don't have anything, tell the people of North Carolina that we don't have anything, and let the governor move on with his life."

Holding, a Republican appointee, has remained in office solely to complete ongoing investigations against Easley and former presidential candidate John Edwards. U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan said she wanted to hold off having President Barack Obama name a new U.S. attorney to avoid politicizing the two probes.

Crone said, however, that the Easley investigation will play a role in state politics if it isn't wrapped up soon.

"I just think it's unfair, as we get ready to go into a political cycle, to continue to have this cloud out there," he said.

If an indictment comes before November, it's possible Democratic candidates could feel a mild sting in the elections. But as many political observers have pointed out, corruption in Raleigh doesn't resonate demonstrably with voters outside the Triangle area. It's doubtful how much an Easley indictment in late summer or fall would influence the election's outcome.

That said, would it help Democrats? No way. That's why Crone is worried.

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The lost art of teaching English composition

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:41 PM

It's not hard to find evidence of the declining quality of American education.

R.V. Young, professor of English at N.C. State University and editor of Modern Age, chose focused on one example during his presentation today to the John Locke Foundation's Shaftesbury Society. Young discussed changes in the way universities teach students English composition.

In the video clip below, Young makes a broader point about the crisis in education.

3:15 p.m. update: Click play below to watch the full 56:21 presentation.

You'll find other John Locke Foundation video presentations here.

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Va's ObamaCare lawsuit can proceed

Posted by Rick Henderson at 12:30 AM

The Washington Post reports that U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson has rejected a motion by the Obama administration to dismiss Virginia's lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of ObamaCare. Denying that motion means that the lawsuit will go to trial in Richmond in October.

In other news, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper continues to refuse to participate in the lawsuits challenging the president's health care takeover filed by Virginia and roughly 20 other states.

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Baseball and Ethnicity

Posted by Daren Bakst at 11:30 AM

We don't often post on sports-related stories, but the following is a "race-baiting" and media-based story as much as a sports story.

It is quite amazing that a recent rant by White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen hasn't been destroyed by the sports media.  The substance of the rant is actually getting serious consideration.

This may have something to do with the quality and, in some cases, the politics of many in the national sports media.

Guillen argues:

Japanese players are treated better than Latino players because the Japanese players are given translators by  Major League Baseball (MLB).  In his example he then uses a Korean player.

The following is simple even for ESPN's talking heads.  There are numerous Latino players on baseball teams and there are numerous people on those teams who can speak both English and Spanish, including managers such as Guillen.  There's no need for personal translators.

On the other hand, an Asian player is usually the only Asian player on the team (or only Asian player from that specific Asian country on the team) and therefore is in need of a translator.

That isn't hard to understand.  ESPN should point out this obvious point and slam Guillen for his ignorant remarks, and then move on to real stories (which to ESPN includes doing specials on where a player is going to play in the upcoming year--how about a special where Favre tells us whether he is going to play for Minnesota?)

I say this all the time, but there are enough legitimate issues regarding race, ethnicity, gender, etc.  We need to call people out when they are creating make-believe issues.

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"Christian socialist" rebuked

Posted by George Leef at 11:23 AM

Jim Wallis is a Christian socialist and recently issued a screedy attack on libertarianism, saying that it's "un-biblical" to believe in strictly limited government. In this Daily Caller piece Doug Bandow annihilates Wallis.

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Lying to save Keynesian face?

Posted by George Leef at 10:54 AM

In this devastating article Bob Murphy points out that Paul Krugman, in his incessant efforts at trying to prove that the Keynesian theory of recessions is correct, has resorted to lying to save face. He keeps yammering that under Hoover, the federal budget was "slashed" and that made the recession into the Great Depression. Murphy presents facts that are available to anyone, even NY Times columnists, proving the precise opposite. Under Hoover, federal spending rose greatly.

If you think that's an inconvenient fact, here's another. The short-lived 1920-21 recession was so short because under President Harding, the federal budget really was slashed.

Here's the takeaway: government spending just wastes resources on politically-attractive frills. That's always a bad idea, but especially so when the economy is struggling to recover after the distorting effects of federal meddling.

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Soak-the-Rich Fallacy, Again

Posted by Dr. Karen Y. Palasek at 10:38 AM

Read Arthur Laffer's piece on the fallacy of soaking the rich in today's Wall Street Journal.

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Civitas: Shuler, Miller in dead heat in 11th Cong Dist

Posted by David N. Bass at 09:50 AM

The race for North Carolina’s 11th district Congressional seat is a dead heat (45 percent-44 percent) between Democratic incumbent Heath Shuler and Republican candidate Jeff Miller as the unaffiliated vote looks to become the deciding factor according to a new SurveyUSA poll released today by the Civitas Institute.

According to the poll of 400 registered voters in that district, when asked who they would vote for if the election for United States House of Representatives were today, 45 percent of voters said they would vote for Shuler. Forty-four percent said they would vote for Miller, and 11 percent said they were undecided.

“Despite Shuler voting against many of the unpopular bills that have been passed by Congress, the unpopularity of President Obama and the Democratic Congress is making this a competitive race,” said Civitas Institute Senior Legislative Analyst Chris Hayes.

More here.

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N&O editorial: Federal education dollars, yay!

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 09:49 AM

The editors of the News & Observer give a half-hearted endorsement to North Carolina's application for Race to the Top dollars from the federal government. The editorial concludes, "Certainly the state's track record in recent years of focusing on improving its public schools - improvements that surely were called for - ought to help. All states are in need. North Carolina has a good plan and a good case."

Of course, part of the case comes down to the willingness of federal education officials to participate in the state's game of make-believe education reform.

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The best 37 seconds you will see all week

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 09:46 AM

Thanks to our friend Steve Hayward over on the Ashbrook Center blog, No Left Turns.

"Deepak Chopra, one of those self-levitating frauds so common in our age, gets schooled."

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It is all about the credentials

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 09:31 AM

Laid-off teachers resent Teach for America recruits. According to the Charlotte Observer, "While career educators are pushed out by budget cuts, enthusiastic newbies who see the classroom as a short-term crusade keep arriving. CMS has about 250 Teach for America cadets assigned for 2010-11."

A comment from "unctchr" explained the resentment.

As a teacher, and former cms [sic] teacher, I understand the resentment. Teach for America teachers have NO teaching certificate! They take classes and "learn as they go," but what other profession allows you to do so? and [sic] at the sake of children's futures?? I certainly don't want my accountant or money manager "learning as they go..." Bottom line is that while some are great with kids, anyone without a teaching certificate does not know how to truly teach as effectively as possible.
In North Carolina, approximately 94 percent of our teachers have a teaching certificate (i.e., fully licensed). According to unctchr's logic, 94 percent of our teachers know how to truly teach as effectively as possible.

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Latest dispatches from the campaign trail

Posted by David N. Bass at 09:23 AM

  • Ilario Pantano, GOP candidate in the 7th Congressional District, brings in “Fraiser” star to raise campaign cash.

  • CNN profiles the Kissell-Johnson matchup in the 8th Congressional District, says Kissell faces a “tough” re-election fight.

  • U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and Elaine Marshall spar over small business bill, the News & Observer of Raleigh reports.

  • Despite facing opposition from tea party candidates in the primary, U.S. Rep. Howard Coble, R-6th, joins the House Tea Party Caucus.

  • N.C. Democrats brace for midterm elections.

  • Perdue at Democrats' convention in Fayetteville: We have reason to be confident going into the midterm elections.

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Putting the BP oil spill in perspective

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:46 AM

You might wonder why TIME magazine devoted three pages in its latest issue to the “psychic toll” associated with this spring's high-profile oil spill.

The answer looks a little clearer if you read the next article, a one-page “viewpoint” piece from Michael Grunwald, who’s not known for his conservative or libertarian tendencies. Grunwald tells us “so far, the predictions of ecological catastrophe on the Gulf Coast seem overblown.” In other words, the spill’s real toll doesn’t match the rhetoric from environmental extremists.

That’s good information to keep in mind as those extremists and their statist friends try not to let a good crisis go to waste.

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From the man who brought you Mike Easley

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:45 AM

Sure, he was great as the sheriff of Mayberry (and pretty good as the lawyer Matlock), but those inclined to assign some positive view to Andy Griffith’s new endorsement of ObamaCare might want to consider the results of his last two political picks: the administrations of Mike Easley and Beverly Perdue.

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Economic uncertainty? Let’s blame executive stock options instead

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:42 AM

A brief item in Bloomberg Business Week explores the causes of the nation’s job woes. It starts well, echoing a theme mentioned in this forum: the role of economic uncertainty:
The general explanation for this stubbornly high rate is that companies face an unprecedented era of uncertainty, with questions on the impact of health-care reform, the strength of the real estate market, and the cost of financial regulations all remaining unanswered. Until companies get clarity, they will be reluctant to hire new full-time employees.

It’s too bad writer Christopher Power didn’t stop there. Instead he attempts to deflect blame from activist government:

"Stocks always respond positively when head count is permanently reduced," says [economist Allen] Sinai, "because profits are then expected to come in higher. We are the only country where the mantra of maximizing shareholder value is so intense." Sinai figures that reducing the role that stock options play in compensation could make executives less likely to shrink payrolls so much. Until these pay incentives are changed, and until U.S. workers become less expensive, high unemployment could be a chronic problem.

What Power doesn’t explore is the fact that a job is a cost for business. Businesses don’t exist to create jobs. They create jobs to help them provide goods or services people want. The byproduct of the effort to maximize profits is new and improved goods and services — generating the need for new jobs.

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Business Week pushes cap-and-trade, green jobs silliness

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:41 AM

Two articles in the latest Bloomberg Business Week push the argument in favor of federal cap-and-trade legislation.

In the first, Eric Pooley sells the story that cap-and-trade provisions wouldn’t necessitate much change in people’s lives:

[K]ey Democratic senators had no appetite for a bill that might cause a modest, short-term increase in electricity prices—potentially endangering some 20th century manufacturing jobs—even if it helps create many more 21st century jobs by making clean energy competitive with coal.

Later in this issue, Jim Snyder and Kim Chipman lament that carbon limits are not driving people toward less-efficient energy sources:

Encouraged by the White House, clean-energy advocates like [biofuels company CEO Jack] Oswald had expected that Congress would also pass a bill putting a limit on carbon and authorizing the trading of emission permits. The trading system would have the effect of generating higher prices for carbon, making clean-energy companies more competitive, and producing "green-collar" jobs, according to its backers.

What’s wrong with these arguments? I’ll focus on just two. First, there’s the myth that cap and trade would lead to little sacrifice. Second, there’s the myth that Americans benefit when government artificially raises prices on energy sources.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:31 AM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features David Bass' report on questionable projects bankrolled by North Carolina's Tobacco Trust Fund.

John Hood's Daily Journal details the "blunders" associated with ObamaCare.

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