May 22, 2008
Re: Farm Bill $70 Billion Giveaway
Posted by Donna Martinez at 3:59 PM
Just how pork-laden is the farm bill? You'll find the ugly details in this op-ed column by Rick Martinez in the Raleigh News & Observer. Full disclosure: he's my husband. Here's a sample of the pork:
More than $40 million will go toward building rural day-care centers. Apparently, raising kids on a farm isn't as beneficial as it used to be. In fact, it's downright stressful. This bill directs the Agriculture secretary to establish the "Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network," which will provide behavioral (read mental) health programs.
We're also going to shell out $15 million annually to help "geographically disadvantaged farmers." That means we pick up part of the freight for growers in Hawaii and Alaska.
The artsy crowd also gets a slice. Funds will be provided for the preservation of historic barns. Centers for artisanal cheese, a classification that includes Brie-types and other cheeses I can't pronounce, will be established.
At least these provisions are tangentially related to agriculture. Some that aren't include income averaging for people who received settlements from the Exxon-Valdez oil disaster and the elimination of the private payment test for professional sports facility bonds -- items no farm bill should be without.
Can't get enough Locke Foundation wisdom?
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:38 PM
Then take a stand with Matt Mittan. JLF analysts will be sharing their expertise with the syndicated western North Carolina radio host for the rest of the afternoon. Click the "listen live" option at this link.
Can Health IT save money?
Posted by Joseph Coletti at 3:24 PM
I've had my own reasons for doubting all the demands for government-mandated Health IT initiatives, but the Congressional Budget Office's latest offering suggests they might not provide the hoped-for cost savings, either.
Barnes calls 2008 'a different year' for Republicans
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:41 PM
Fox News political analyst Fred Barnes offered to a John Locke Foundation audience today his take on the Republican and Democratic vice presidential options, the arithmetic of congressional control, and the likely election scenarios in November.
Barnes covered much more in the hourlong presentation.
4:15 p.m. update: Watch the entire speech here.
Bad omen for 2016!
Posted by Jon Sanders at 2:10 PMOriginally story linked on Drudge; click the image for a larger, viewable size:
A clear-eyed view of the political struggle
Posted by George Leef at 11:01 AM
Sheldon Richman gives us a clear-eyed view of the battle between Clinton and Obama here.
It's all about who gets to wield power over the rest of us. Believing that there will be any meaningful change to come from the forthcoming election is about the same as if an English peasant had believed that it really mattered which contending side won the War of the Roses. Most of them were too sensible to believe such nonsense, but many Americans are all hyped up about a Hillary presidency or an Obama presidency. But all they want to do (McCain, too) is to increase the extent to which we are subject to commands and prohibitions dictated by the State. No good can possibly come from that.
Farm Bill, $70 Billion Giveaway
Posted by Chad Adams at 09:42 AM
In an election year, nothing makes the left prouder and the right more nervous than subsidies and giveaways. So, both Dems and the GOP in the House will override the Bush veto of the pork heavy Farm Bill. (Kind of embarrassing to them when 34 pages of the bill disappeared before the House voted to override the veto and thus had to be rewritten and re-voted upon after extending the current farm bill, such is the Pelosi run House.)
It will be interesting to see how our presidential candidates (McCain, Obama, or Clinton) vote on it in the Senate
About two-thirds of the bill would pay for nutrition programs such as food stamps, about $40 billion is for farm subsidies and additional $30 billion would go to farmers to idle their land and to other environmental programs.
Pork barrel funding at its finest. Will update the Obama, Clinton, McCain vote soon. Of note, Con. Etheridge and Con. Price support the bill. Congressman Etheridge often exhibits a total lack of fiscal knowledge, but his quotes on the matter are pretty funny.
“By vetoing the farm bill the president is standing against rural America and families in need.”
Etheridge defended the bill, saying the “safety net” helps keep farmers afloat in uncertain times.
What Etheridge is saying is that in uncertain time, HE should take YOUR money in the form of economic incentives to farmers, oops, I mean subsidies. But Etheridge using tax money, $70 billion, to idle land and grow unnecessary crops is hilarious or maybe sad.
Bills, bills, bills
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 09:34 AM
Not only did Sen. Hillary Clinton get trounced in the North Carolina Democratic Party presidential primary, her campaign still owes some money in this state.
As for the final resolution of that Democratic campaign, look forward to some discussion of the topic at lunch today with Fred Barnes.
The trouble with unions
Posted by George Leef at 08:28 AM
I'm copying in two letters that appear in today's Wall Street Journal regarding the consequences of unionization. The first letter warns that states and municipalities that allow unionization of their workers will find that it costs a great deal of money. The second letter explains that unions trample on the rights of individuals who don't agree with the politics of the union bosses.
I'm glad the Journal ran these letter, but I object to the headline, which asserts that there is a conflict between collective and individual rights. Nope. There are only individual rights. Groups don't have rights.
When Workers Collective, Individual Rights Conflict
Coming from a state where police and fire employees have had collective bargaining since the 1980s, I can certify the anticipated results from federal legislation granting such bargaining rights nationwide as predicted in your May 12 editorial "The Union Police." Ohio has arguably one of the most pro-labor public sector bargaining laws in the country, and a tax burden to prove it.
Ohio's system places the critical financial resources of local governments into the hands of a state-appointed "neutral" conciliator, who steps in at impasse and issues binding agreements upon the parties, overriding the will of local elected officials. Furthermore, state policy bars any comparison of public employee pay or benefits to comparable positions in the private sector -- placing these employees in a protective bubble that prevents any rational alignment between public and private sector compensation schemes.
Though the dedicated men and women serving in these safety forces deserve competitive pay and benefits, Ohio law has handed over to them a blank check and tipped the scales enormously against governing bodies. Be assured that a federal law will not only nationalize and perpetuate this system, but will serve to escalate the cost of public employment across the board.
Your reports on political pushes for unionization remind me how little the public knows about the civil rights consequences of forced unionization. I am the victim of a teachers union. Unlike my union's supporters, I and others must relinquish one set of civil rights to defend another. If we don't support the union's political activities, we pay fees instead of dues. Our fees cover all the union's representational expenses, yet we are denied the right to vote on labor contracts and union leaders.
We only get to vote if we are willing to subsidize someone else's political views. When I asked my union local to give us the vote, they wanted to know my political preferences and they assured me that I ought not to feel deprived because they were "listening" to me. I'm ashamed that a Congressional majority would deprive workers of such fundamental freedoms.
Santa Cruz, Calif.
Social promotion in Arizona
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:29 AM
The Arizona Daily Star has an excellent series on the problem of social promotion in Tuscon-area public schools. From Part 1:
In the 2006-07 school year alone, nine in 10 students were moved to the next grade level, but data show that nearly a third of them failed basic courses in English, math, science or social studies. At least 94,000 students failed essential classes during the past six years. I am confident that we would find similar statistics among North Carolina's school districts, but little has been done to address the problem. Social promotion and low standards is clearly not on the General Assembly's radar.
HT: Joanne Jacobs
A blast from the U.S. News past
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:51 AMThe magazine’s 75th anniversary issue celebrates the work of founder David Lawrence, though it’s likely few of the current writers would have nice things to say about him if he were working today.
At its height, his column appeared in more than 300 newspapers. Lawrence expressed his views on states' rights, small government, and a fiercely anticommunist foreign policy. And while his columns were shaping public opinion, he founded publications that came to shape and define modern journalism.
Lawrence deplored the expansion of the federal government that accompanied the election of Roosevelt — "stumbling into socialism," he called it. ("I'm the only Democrat left in this town," he once told Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.) He opposed the federal government's forays into labor relations and the increased regulation that resulted from the interstate commerce clause, both of which he regarded as unconstitutional. The United Mine Workers dubbed him "Popgun Lawrence" for his relentless sniping at rules that strengthened the position of organized labor.
Today U.S. News gives us a different perspective, as evidenced here and here and here.
Proof that not all publicity is good publicity
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:45 AMThe latest issue of U.S. News shines a light on North Carolina’s high school dropout problem.
An article from Eddy Ramirez focuses on dubious graduation numbers pumped out of states across the country, but the Tar Heel State earns special mention:
Education Trust was one of the first groups to show how states were padding their graduation numbers. North Carolina, for example, reported an almost perfect graduation rate in 2003 even though the rate of students who actually finished high school on time was closer to 64 percent. How? State officials counted only students who had earned diplomas and ignored everyone else. Now, the state makes calculations based on the number of students who start in the ninth grade and finish four years later—a more accurate standard.
The Education Trust pointed to another problem in a recent presentation to state legislators: lax standards that present an overly rosy picture of North Carolina student performance.
Today's Carolina Journal Online features
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:39 AM
Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features David Bass' report about the impact of new federal standards on North Carolina's "high-ozone" days.
John Hood's Daily Journal takes a closer look at the impact of education on economic growth.
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