The Locker Room

July 23, 2008

Obama and taxes

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:31 PM

Among the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee's tax proposals is a plan to extend Social Security payroll taxes so they apply to income higher than $250,000.

In the video below, Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute argues that change would increase the top marginal tax rate by about 12 percentage points. That's a far larger hike than the 4.6 percentage-point increase tied to Sen. Barack Obama's more highly publicized support for ending the 2003 Bush tax cuts.

Mitchell's video — distributed by the Center for Freedom and Prosperity — suggests raising America’s top tax rate to French and German levels would undermine economic performance and reduce U.S. competitiveness.

Click here to learn more from Dan Mitchell about the way the economy works.

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The history of birthright citizenship

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:20 PM

If you've ever wondered why the United States ended up with a policy that grants citizenship to anyone born in this country, you might appreciate Edward Erler's comments on the subject.

The Cal State San Bernardino political science professor's speech to a Hillsdale College seminar earlier this year highlights the latest edition of the school's Imprimis

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Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and David Murdock

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 1:01 PM

Greg Mankiw quotes from the New Yorker:

Making Fannie Mae private moved its liabilities off the government’s books, even if, as the recent crisis made clear, the U.S. was still responsible for those debts. It was a bit like what Enron did thirty years later, when it used “special-purpose entities” to move liabilities off its balance sheet.

In North Carolina the analogy is to TIFs, such as the city of Kannapolis and Cabarrus County took out for projects related to the North Carolina Research Campus.

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A "must read" book: The Dumbest Generation

Posted by George Leef at 09:55 AM

In this week's Clarion Call, I review Professor Mark Bauerlein's new book The Dumbest Generation, an unflattering look at America's youth today.

While it has always been the case that adults tend to look askance at the younger generation, in the past the kids, for all their outward strangeness, had the mental toolkit to learn and become serious adults. The trouble now is that so many of the rising generation -- due to their online lifestyle and ridiculous educational theories -- are missing many of the tools, especially the ability to read challenging material. That, Bauerlein argues, bodes ill for our future.

I strongly recommend the book.

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Crony capitalism and Fannie Mae

Posted by George Leef at 09:43 AM

In what must surely be the most satisfying piece he has ever written for the Wall Street Journal, Paul Gigot here reflects on the history of his paper's efforts to show that trouble was brewing at Fannie Mae years ago. Fannie's political henchmen (mostly Democrats) labored feverishly to discredit the Journal's reporting and silence politicians who wanted to turn over the rock and see what was really going on.

This sort of crony capitalism enriches a few well-connected people at the expense of the rest of us. If you've ever wondered why so many rich people are willing to make huge political donations, that's often the reason. Politics enables them to feed gustily at the public trough.

There was never any reason for the feds to subsidize home ownership. All of this waste and folly would have been avoided if the federal government hadn't gotten into this area (and so many others) where it has no business intruding.

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How is the Great Depression like today's mortgage crisis?

Posted by George Leef at 09:37 AM

Answer: Both were the result of political meddling with the economy. Thomas Sowell explains here.

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Have you seen my Congressman?

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:17 AM

If you've been to Hawaii for a conference with a theme of "enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue," you may have seen Rep. David Price, thanks to the Aspen Institute.

Aspen also accounts for $207,000 worth, or more than one-third, of the travel taken by North Carolina’s delegation.

Half of that was spent on a single congressman, Rep. David Price, D-4th. Price has taken 11 trips on Aspen’s tab, including a $17,000 fact-finding trip to China in 2002 and a $14,000 trek to London and Berlin last year. Other trips reported as “fact finding" took Price to Honolulu, Puerta Vallarta, and British Columbia. The total cost of his Aspen-funded trips since 2001 totals nearly $103,000.

David Bass highlights privately-financed Congressional travel in Carolina Journal this morning and notes that Price now does his travel in an official capacity, meaning with tax dollars.

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Preventive care or evidence-based medicine?

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:04 AM

Two popular progressive prescriptions for lower cost and higher quality in health care are preventive care and evidence-based medicine. When confronted with the evidence that preventive care is often wasteful, they often retreat and say that clearly some expert panel would have to decide which types of preventive care make sense.

D.G. Martin enters the fray by citing one of the Left's authorities on wasted care, UNC's Nortin Hadler, in a recent column. According to Hadler, statin drugs, mammographies, and PSA exams are among the preventive treatments that waste money.

It must be repeated that screenings and preventive treatment do have benefits, even if the costs generally outweigh them. Unfortunately, expert panels tend to make sweeping judgments that preclude individual choices, and most studies that look at forgone treatment do not look at health outcomes as the RAND Health Insurance Experiment from 30 years ago did or as a recent study by Janet Currie. At some point, however, the Progressives will have to decide whether they value prevention or evidence. As for me, I value individuals.

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Private money could never work

Posted by George Leef at 08:28 AM

Oh, but it did. Read here about University of Georgia Professor George Selgin's new book Good Money.

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Latest dispatches from the political trail

Posted by John Hood at 08:05 AM

• Calling herself a "coal miner's daughter” at the press association meeting in Asheville, Beverly Perdue argues for higher teacher pay and state efforts to build new biotechnology and aerospace industries. She and Pat McCrory continue to disagree on energy policy, with McCrory blaming a “small power elite in Raleigh” for inaction on a variety of issues.

The Hill newspaper reports that Elizabeth Dole is casting more votes against the Republican Senate caucus in 2008 than she did last year. Gary Pearce believes that the potential $6 million ad buy from national Democrats to boost Kay Hagan's fall campaign is not a bluff, and could “put a big hole in Senator Dole's boat.” Dole will visit Mars Hill on Saturday. Meanwhile, an ad from the GOP Senatorial Campaign Committee questions Hagan's record on bipartisanship.

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State ignores teacher-student sex problem

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:50 AM

Perusing the Bad Bad Teacher website, I was shocked to learn that, between May 2007 and July 2008, approximately 44 teachers from North Carolina were arrested for inappropriate sexual conduct with school children. That puts North Carolina in the top 10, according to website statistics.

California (111)
Texas (98)
Florida (80)
New York (71)
Ohio (56)
New Jersey (49)
Illinois (48)
North Carolina (44)
Virginia (39)
Colorado (32)

The General Assembly, Department of Public Instruction, and State Board of Education have done nothing to address this serious problem. I suppose they believe that protecting children from sexual predators is just not important, even though the rest of us recognize it as one of their basic responsibilities.

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PEFNC responds to No Child Left Behind developments

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:41 AM

From Parents for Educational Freedom North Carolina:

Test Results Raise Questions about State School Board's Request for School Transfer Waiver
Citizens Urge Local School Systems to Allow Student Transfers at Failing Schools
RALEIGH, NC (July 22, 2008) – On July 2, less than three weeks before the release of testing results statewide, the North Carolina State Board of Education requested a waiver of the transfer option under No Child Left Behind. 
Under the law, if a school receives Title I federal funds and fails to meet assessment goals, then it must offer parents the option to transfer to another school before providing paid tutoring services if standards are not met for a second consecutive year. 
If the state's request is granted, North Carolina school systems could limit parents' options by offering students tutoring at low-performing K-12 schools before allowing them to transfer from the failing schools.
In light of preliminary testing results released Monday, which revealed that more than half of Triangle schools failed to meet targets for student performance, parents are expressing concern. 
"We are hearing from our network of parents in the Triangle and beyond, and they are appalled by the State Board's apparent lack of accountability in this regard," said Darrell Allison, President of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, a statewide nonprofit that supports greater educational options through parental school choice. "The declining results show that school systems no longer have the luxury to pick and choose which option under No Child Left Behind to offer, but that they need to provide parents in those failing schools every available option."

Deanna Boothe, a Durham County parent, feels fortunate that her child's school is not among those failing to meet standards this year.  "Thankfully, I am not in the same situation as many other parents," she said.  Expressing concern about the broader impact of the state's request to waive transfer options, she asked, "But what about those families who are not so lucky?"

As the state pushes to offer increased tutoring services in lieu of transfer options, some educational resource workers are left to wonder how needs will be met.  Shelia Jones owns and operates the J.T. Locke Resource Center, which provides supplemental educational services to underprivileged public school students in Southwest Raleigh. "Most of our children are sent to us on referral from area public schools, and demand from those schools continues to grow," said Jones. 

"We already have 217 children on our waiting list for the beginning of the next school year, and that was before test results were released," she said.  "I simply can't imagine how the state expects schools to offer enough tutoring services to realistically meet the needs of every student affected.  Parents deserve more options." 

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:35 AM

Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Hal Young's report about private individuals and groups funding travel for the N.C. congressional delegation.

John Hood's Daily Journal outlines the links between political campaign spending and the election calendar.

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