On February 11, the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Wake Education Partnership released a proposed assignment plan formulated by consultant Michael Alves.
Eleven days later, the NAACP of North Carolina, Great Schools in Wake Coalition, Mayor Charles Meeker, NC HEAT, and their comrades have not said much about the proposal. Perhaps the good folks from GSIW will come out of hiding after their March 15 discussion with Tim Simmons of the Wake Education Partnership.
At an Education Appropriations Committee Meeting this morning, State Rep. Paul Stam asked members of the OSBM and Fiscal Research Division to end a tradition of having legislators make budget decisions "blindly." As it stands now, many explanatory budget documents, such as money reports and committee reports, often fail to include any mention of a program's current appropriation. Instead, they only show the change in appropriations, making it difficult to determine just how much money the program or agency was getting from the state without making special requests. This practice of making budget decisions with incomplete information generally leads to bigger government.
Stam suggested that future appropriations documents show the current appropriations of programs along with the recommended changes, including any changes made by administrators of the programs during the fiscal year.
Just imagine--legislators knowing the full amount of state-financed programs before legislating or commenting on them. This sort of thing must be stopped, before it catches on! I mean, what's next, full government financial transparency? And you know where that could lead--to honest, limited government! The horror, the horror!
Maybe what we need is a protest (with all the usual suspects) before this transparency thing catches on.
Thomas Sowell's latest column posted at Human Events pans the plan to boost high-speed rail through the United States:
However little President Obama knows or cares about economics, he knows a lot about politics-- and especially political rhetoric. "High-speed rail" is simply another set of lofty words to justify continued expansion of government spending. So are words like "investment in education" or "investment" in any number of other things, which serves the same political purpose.
Who cares what the realities are behind these nice-sounding words? Obama can leave that to the economists, the statisticians and the historians. His point is to win the votes of people who know little or nothing about economics, history or statistics. That includes a lot of people with expensive Ivy League degrees.
To talk glibly about spending more money on "high-speed rail" when the national debt has just passed a milestone, by exceeding the total value of our annual output, for the first time in more than half a century, is world-class chutzpa. The last time the U.S. national debt exceeded the value of our entire annual output, it was due to the cost of fighting World War II.
Want to know more about the utility of pursuing "fast" trains for North Carolina? Start with Randal O'Toole's John Locke Foundation Policy report on high-speed rail.
Max Borders' latest Ideas Matterupdate includes an item focusing on the use (and flagrant misuse) of statistics regarding the rich and poor:
This great little video makes three points we shouldn't forget:
* It may not matter what share of total income the poor have today -- even if it's less -- because the income pie may be much bigger than in the past (and so the poor's income still bigger). Over time, the pie usually does get bigger (absent government doing dumb things like stimulus packages). So the income of the poor today is probably better today than in the past despite an increased share of total income for the rich.
* It is also not appropriate to take statistical snapshots of populations because individuals experience income mobility. Most individuals get richer over time. When we track them, we can see that much of the rich/poor mythology is based on statistical artifacts.
* New poor people - the young, immigrants, etc. -- are constantly coming online to replace those who have become upwardly mobile -- which tracks the "American Dream"' story, i.e. starting out poor, but working hard and getting richer with experience and effort.
I'd add a fourth bullet to this list: income is not necessarily wealth. A minute of work today buys you a whole lot more than a minute of work did 20-, 50-, 100 years ago. Poor people enjoy cellphones, TVs, inexpensive food, and a far higher standard of living because their purchasing power is so much better. By historical standards, our poorest quartile today are much better off than any time in history.
President Obama has a way of getting under the skin of our judiciary. The latest example is Judge Roger Vinson, who declared the entire health care bill unconstitutional because of the unconstitutional individual mandate. As The Hill reports
In the order, Vinson seemed somewhat miffed by the administration’s request.
“Because I determined that the individual mandate could not be severed from the remainder of the [law], it was also necessary to declare the entire statute void,” he wrote. “The defendants have now, two and one-half weeks later, filed a motion to ‘clarify’ that order.”
A man who notes how long it takes to be asked what he meant and who puts "clarify" in scare quotes seems pretty sure that he was clear the first time.
A section of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) started out as a standalone bill with a better acronym. The CLASS Act was supposed to lower the cost of long-term care, but Shawn Tully explained to readers of Fortune in September 2009 that the CLASS Act would do just the opposite and collapse under its own weight. By the time the PPACA passed, premium projections had already risen to $123 a month from $65 a month.
A year later, the New York Times has finally gotten around to reporting HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' admission last week before Congress that the CLASS Act is “totally unsustainable.”
Maybe the Times should change its masthead to "Everything others figured out long ago."
Disturbing reflections from physicians on the fraudulent physicians' notes from Wisconsin:
Physician Paul Hsieh on the fake sick notes: “Although this might seem an outrageous breach of professional ethics, it is actually entirely consistent with the new brand of ‘progressive’ medical ethics currently taught to medical students. And these apparent breaches of professional ethics displayed in Wisconsin may be an ominous foretaste of future problems Americans can expect under ObamaCare.” And physician Ford Vox asks: “What puzzles me most is how in the world three of the four physicians I can identify from these videos and other media reports are faculty members of UW’s Family Medicine department, and one is a senior resident in that same department. ... It teaches professionalism, and its faculty are supposed to model integrity. What were they thinking?
Byron York's latest Washington Examinerarticle analyzes the fight over collective bargaining rights for public-sector workers in Wisconsin:
For the lawmakers themselves, at least Republicans, this whole controversy has led to a surpassingly weird impasse. A number of them have known their Democratic counterparts for years. Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald speaks by phone with the hiding Democratic Minority Leader Mark Miller. And Hopper has been on the phone with Democratic Sen. Lena Taylor, a colleague from Milwaukee. "I offered to give her a ride to work," Hopper says, "but she said no."
Hopper says he reminded Taylor that Republicans were out of power not too long ago, when Democrats controlled the state Assembly, Senate and governor's office. "There were bills I was adamantly opposed to," Hopper says, "and we didn't run away."
At the heart of all this, Republicans and Democrats are realizing there might be a gap between them that is bigger than they realized. To Republicans, the budget fight has involved the widespread shirking of responsibilities: teachers walking out on students, legislators running away from their offices, even doctors abandoning medical standards to make excuses for perfectly healthy teacher/protesters. To Democrats, the fight has touched a core issue; anything is justified to preserve union benefits.
At some point, the battle will be over. But it's not clear Republicans and Democrats will ever look at each other quite the same again.