May 7, 2008
Re: The most predictable headline ever written
Posted by Daren Bakst at 7:03 PM
If the same category four cyclone (or "hurricane"
in the Atlantic) hit an industrialized country, the storm would have
been harmful but not even remotely close to the devastation that exists
today in Myanmar.
This tragedy doesn't provide ammunition for global warming
(category four cyclones aren't unique), but for the need for countries
and their citizens to develop better infrastructure, build better
buildings, have better emergency services, etc.
The only way
these changes will happen is if poor countries are able to generate the
wealth necessary to make the changes. The only way for the U.S.
to better protect itself against hurricanes is to ensure that we
continue to be a wealthy country.
Al and friends instead want to
tell third world countries that the single most critical factor to
develop wealth, low-cost energy, should be prohibited. They want
to adopt policies that would keep the poor countries poor and put
wealthy countries on a path to poverty.
The Beacon Hill Institute examined the impact that policies
being considered by the Legislative Commission on Global Climate Change
would have on NC. Please recognize that these policies wouldn't
even come close to what the zealots want in terms of reductions in
carbon dioxide. Policies include a cap and trade program, taxes
on driving, taxes on electricity use, etc.
From the press release: “By 2011, the state would shed more than 33,000
jobs,” according to the report from the Beacon Hill Institute, the
research arm of the economics department at Boston’s Suffolk
University. “Annual investment would drop by about $502.4 million, real
disposable income by more than $2.2 billion, and real state Gross
Domestic Product by about $4.5 billion.”
When the Beacon Hill Instutute presented this data to the
Commission, there wasn't a dispute about the numbers. Those
trying to argue weren't concerned with the actual loss of jobs and the
devastation on the economy, but instead were pointing out that this is
a price that needs to be paid.
NC, the U.S. and for that matter the entire globe have to make choices. We can choose to adopt policies that would have no effect
on temperature and have devastating effects on our economy and our
ability to prepare for major storms or we can choose to be sensible and
do all we can to ensure that public policy doesn't undermine countries
from having the wealth necessary to protect themselves from natural
I'm inclined to favor the latter option, but that's just me.
The most predictable headline ever written
Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 4:06 PM
"Al Gore Calls Myanmar Cyclone a 'Consequence' of Global Warming"
Posted by Daren Bakst at 4:04 PM
The Cato Institute held an event today on the REAL ID Act. You can view the event and see the text of one speech here.
is interesting that, according to the Cato event summary, "more than 17
states have passed legislation objecting to or outright refusing to
implement this national ID law."
Re: McGee's full comments
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:19 PM
The key factor to remember is that additional tax revenue always pays for the lowest-priority item that would not otherwise be funded.
That's why it's a good idea not to focus on "what the counties actually intend to use the revenue for." County officials will say the additional tax revenue is destined to pay for high-priority items such as new schools or library upgrades or law-enforcement projects. They probably believe that what they're saying is true.
But they're wrong. New revenue will actually pay for low-priority items that would face the budget ax under more disciplined fiscal management.
If your county manages your tax dollars wisely, then a new revenue stream might be justified. It's hard to argue that this scenario could be true for counties that offer targeted tax breaks, keep excessive fund balances, and continually increase their annual operating budgets at a rate that exceeds the combined rate of inflation and population growth.
Utilities Commission Approved Wind Power Plant
Posted by Daren Bakst at 3:00 PM
In case you missed it, like most people, the NC Utilities Commission decided
to grant (i.e. rubber-stamp) a certificate of public convenience and
necessity to the three turbine wind power plant in Carteret
County. This certificate basically is the green light to move
forward with the project. It still is subject to local zoning
restrictions, so it won't happen if Carteret County develops sensible
I'd have no problem with the Commission approving
the wind power plant if it didn't involve a mandate that the public buy
electricity from this wind power plant. Of course, if it were
really a private market-based venture, then the Commission shouldn't be
involved at all.
The Utilities Commission, in its findings,
basically failed to address any of the well-documented problems with
wind power, including the reliability issues. It just assumed
that there would be environmental benefits ignoring massive evidence to
the contrary. It also just ignored the concerns of individuals
living near wind power plants.
Richard Morgan for Insurance Commissioner
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 1:51 PM
Yes, that Richard Morgan is the Republican nominee for NC Superintendent of Public Instruction, but he seems more interested in insurance matters.
From the Morgan campaign website:
We must realize that our state and our world is changing, and we must respond to that change by insuring our children are provided the education they need to compete in a world-class economy.
We're Right, and We're Happy
Posted by Hal Young at 1:08 PM
A new study by the National Science Foundation finds that conservatives report greater life satisfaction and well-being than liberals.
Maybe that explains Michelle Obama.
HT: Melanie and Lucianne
More taxes, more organized crime
Posted by Hal Young at 1:04 PM
Due to recent tax increases starting July 1, New Yorkers will pay almost $9 for one pack of cigarettes. Patrick Fleenor, chief economist of the Tax Foundation, writes about the result of the taxes increases, documenting several decades of cigarette smuggling and organized crime in New York.
McGee's full comments
Posted by David N. Bass at 12:18 AM
Piggybacking on Chad’s previous piggyback, you can view a video of Todd McGee’s full comments on the local-option tax increases here. McGee’s response when reporter Debra Morgan asked him what options a county has if voters refuse to approve the tax increases:
The only other flexible option for revenue that they have is of course the property tax. So what they can do is either take the projects they were going to use this money to fund and either not do those projects or fund them in another way. And the only other way, of course, is a property tax.
Later, he said:
I think what we’re seeing tonight is, again, there is too much focus on the tax and not enough on what the counties actually intend to use the revenue for, because it’s very hard to support a tax without knowing exactly where the money is going to go. When there is so much focus on the tax itself, that kind of detracts from what you need it for.
The effects of public employee collective bargaining
Posted by George Leef at 12:18 AM
Not healthy for taxpayers, as this report from the Evergreen Freedom Foundation in the state of Washington points out.
One of the reasons why North Carolina fares as well as it does economically is that it has never caved in to the demand from unions that the state allow public sector collective bargaining. Big Labor has been trying to create the conditions for a reversal of that. It's a stealthy campaign that will have to be watched closely.
Raleigh prefers current system
Posted by David N. Bass at 11:52 AM
The City of Raleigh has come out in support of Wake County’s district-based system of electing representatives to the county school board. The city council yesterday unanimously passed a resolution in favor of the current system.
"Balanced" Wind Power Meeting
Posted by Daren Bakst at 11:40 AM
As I write this post, the renewable energy committee of the Environmental Management Commission (EMC) is hearing presentations on wind power.
you are not familiar with the EMC (like 99.9% of North Carolinians), it
is the commission that adopts the environmental regulations for the
state--not exactly an unimportant role.
Here is the "balanced" list of presenters:
Mr. Larry Shirley
NC State Energy Office
Mr. Sam Watson
NC Utilities Commission
Ms. Blayne Gunderman
Ms. Erin Kimrey
NC Conservation Network
Mr. Paul Quinlan
NC Sustainable Energy Association
BTW: Acciona Energy is the largest wind farm developer in the world.
question that needs to be asked is why the committee even needs
presenters--it clearly already has made up its mind on wind power as
evidenced by the list of these presenters.
It is bad
enough that the EMC in many ways works in the shadows, but at least it
could make an effort to take wind power and renewable energy issues
seriously enough so that it considers perspectives that don't just come
from a wind power developer, envrionmental groups, and other wind power
Is there any question as to why North
Carolinians have such little respect for the state government?
This meeting demonstrates everything that is wrong: poor public notice
of the meeting, special interest presentations, and apparently
commissioners whose minds have been made up.
I hope this
meeting was just a fluke. The renewable energy committee could
easily redeem itself by making an effort to stay open-minded and
immediately hear from presenters with different perspectives.
UNC During WWII
Posted by Dr. Troy Kickler at 10:51 AM
Read this commentary essay to learn how the university and its students contributed to the war effort.
The tax vote numbers
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:43 AM
Nearly half of North Carolina's counties (46) have now asked voters to consider a sales tax increase, land-transfer tax increase, or both. Voters in eight counties have approved tax increases (always the sales tax), while 38 counties have rejected them.
Voters have faced a total of 57 votes on these issues. (Some counties placed both ideas on the ballot in November. Some asked voters who rejected a tax in November to reconsider it Tuesday.)
Votes on the land-transfer tax are 0 for 20. Nineteen counties have considered and rejected it. (Gates County has rejected it twice.)
Votes on the sales tax are 8 for 37. Because Cumberland voted against it before voting for it (why does John Kerry come to mind?) and because a couple of other counties have rejected the measure twice, a total of 26 counties have rejected the sales tax any time it's been placed on the ballot.
Is it too easy to borrow for college?
Posted by George Leef at 10:23 AM
Despite all the hand wringing over a supposed "college loan crisis," it may be the case that politicians have made it too easy for students to borrow and spend more than they need.
That is exactly what Jenna Robinson contends in this week's Clarion Call.
She's writing from personal experience, not just speculation.
Rephrasing the headline
Posted by David N. Bass at 10:15 AM
Seems to me the NCACC's headline from January is best rephrased thusly: "Local-option revenues proving popular with county commissioners, not voters, in '08."
Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:12 AM
His answer was rather bizarre, but typical. It wasn't that the voters had spoken or that tax increases were being rejected, it was simply that counties will have to raise revenue through property taxes.
Chad, that sounds like yet another sterling example of the answer depending upon whom you ask.
Posted by Chad Adams at 09:41 AM
Piggybacking on Hood's comment below. Todd McGee,
Communications Director at the Association, was on WRAL last night when he was asked about the defeats of the tax increases. His answer was rather bizarre, but typical. It wasn't that the voters had spoken or that tax increases were being rejected, it was simply that counties will have to raise revenue through property taxes. In fact, his actual response was, "Well counties only have one other revenue option and that would be property taxes."
No Means No
Posted by Jon Sanders at 09:31 AMJohn Hood concludes his column with what I think one of the most important results last night: high taxes, even given a highly motivated Democrat turnout, is a losing proposition:
despite a massive turnout to nominate the most liberal senator in Washington as the next Democratic candidate for president, North Carolina voters didn’t suddenly lose their fiscal conservatism. Out of 24 county votes to authorize higher sales or real-estate taxes, the local-government lobby won only two votes: sales-tax hikes in Haywood and Cumberland, the latter by a fairly close margin. It wasn’t just small, rural counties saying no to higher taxes. Major counties such as Guilford, Nash, Gaston, Randolph, Orange, and Onslow rejected their tax proposals, usually by overwhelming margins.
Mitch Kokai provided the numbers on those votes.
Unfortunate wording department
Posted by John Hood at 09:22 AM
A headline from a January release by the NC Association of County Commissioners: “Local-option revenues proving popular in ’08.”
What a commencement address!
Posted by George Leef at 09:14 AM
What if a college, instead of selecting some hack politician or preening moralist to give its commencement address, asked P.J. O'Rourke? Then you'd get a talk like this.
I suspect that the students, rather than dozing off, would love it. Much of the faculty would walk out in protest, though.
The Tent Is Heavy For The Camel's Nose
Posted by Hal Young at 09:06 AM
Clayton Christensen and Michael Horn see online education as the wave of the future, predicting that 50% of high school courses will be delivered online by the year 2019. Their article in Education Next reflects on the way producers, providers, and promoters of this concept can overcome the institutional resistance to the change - by introducting their product in a non-competitive path:
That schools have gotten little back from their investment in technology should come as no surprise. Virtually every organization does the same thing schools have done when implementing an innovation. An organization’s natural instinct is to cram the innovation into its existing operating model to sustain what it already does. This is the predictable course, the logical course—and the wrong course.
The way to implement an innovation so that it will transform an organization is to implement it disruptively—not by using it to compete against the existing paradigm and serve existing customers, but to let it compete against “non-consumption,” where the alternative is nothing at all.
In other words, the programs shouldn't go head to head with classroom instructors -- they should be developed for and marketed to homeschoolers, rural districts, and tutoring services first, and when they are fully accepted in those markets, traditional schools will be more likely to embrace the possibilities that the technology affords.
Unfortunately, the one issue they tiptoe around is the true Achilles heel to the proposal -- how do you sell the idea of replacing career teachers in physical classrooms with a system that allows a single instructor -- living, dead, or even computer-generated -- to deliver the course content to millions of students.
The technology is here, and in use in North Carolina -- my homeschooled son is taking an Advanced Placement course online, from a private instructor who just moved from Pennsylvania to Israel -- but the institutional nut will be very, very hard to crack. Short of pandemic or some other national emergency that cripples the brick-and-mortar education facility, I don't see this taking root nearly as quickly as Christensen and Horn predict.
Re: Contested N.C. House primaries
Posted by Hal Young at 09:04 AM
District 18 Democrats: Appointed incumbent Sandra Hughes wins (75 percent). Former Rep. Thomas Wright wins 10 percent of the vote from his prison cell.
Mitch, Mitch, check your style manual -- you forgot you're not supposed to associate corruption or incarceration with Democrats.
A good night for JLF board members
Posted by John Hood at 08:44 AM
Current board member Carl Mumpower, an Asheville city councilman, won his party's nomination to take on Rep. Heath Shuler in the 11th District. Former board member Robert Pittenger, a state senator, won the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor. And the polling firm of former JLF board chairman Scott Rasmussen (yeah, you read that right) pegged the NC and Indiana results better than most public pollsters did, as it turns out.
By the way, poll junkies might enjoy looking at this online rating of the public pollsters based on election results from the past three cycles. Rasmussen looks very good. Survey USA is #1. North Carolina's own Public Policy Polling is about average. The common denominator? All three use automated rather than live calling.
The McCrory Crescent
Posted by John Hood at 08:20 AM
WRAL-TV has a cool feature on its political page that allows you to quickly pull up the county-by-county results for president, governor, and U.S. Senate. In the GOP governor's race, there is a striking visual pattern: Pat McCrory won a swath of counties in the Piedmont and High Country, with one exception, while Fred Smith won eastern and far-western North Carolina, plus the Triad region's Virginia border counties, with two exceptions.
The exceptions are interesting. The only McCrory loss in the center of the state was, actually, smack dab in the center of the state: Randolph County. Perhaps that would have been rectified with an extra high-profile visit to the county. For Smith, a solid east was interrupted only by Halifax County, and there by a small margin. Perhaps a few local Smith supporters there heard that their candidate had been traveling with a country-music singer, had Randy Parton flashbacks, and headed home to sleep off their headaches rather than heading to the polls. In the west, Bob Orr won a single county, Yancey, by an earthquake-like 286 votes.
The McCrory pattern looks a bit like a crescent. It starts in the High Country of Ashe and Watauga counties, comes down the mountain through the Catawba Valley to Charlotte and the Triad, and then curves around to the Virginia border through the western portion of the Triangle. He won Durham and Orange but lost Wake. One reason Smith fall short, however, is that he only won Wake by 930 votes.
Initial analysis of local-option tax results
Posted by David N. Bass at 08:12 AM
It looks like a heavy Democratic turnout for the Obama/Clinton race did little to bolster support for local-option tax increases (a quarter-cent sales tax and 0.4 land transfer tax) on the ballot in two-dozen Tar Heel counties.
On the land-transfer tax, the results are similar to last year when 11 out of 11 counties rejected the hike by an average three-fourths margin. Counties went 0-for-4 in approving the real estate tax in yesterday’s primary. Even though the percentage of voters going against the land-transfer tax in each county was lower than last year’s average, the numbers were still solidly against the increase.
The quarter-cent sales tax hike actually performed worse than last year, with Cumberland and Haywood the only counties approving it out of 20 total counties that placed it on the ballot. In contrast, five out of 11 counties approved the sales tax last year.
One interesting tidbit: five counties placed one of the tax increases on the ballot for the second time yesterday after unsuccessfully trying to pass one of the increases last year. Of those five, only Cumberland was successful in passing the quarter-cent sales tax (Cumberland voters narrowly shot down the sales tax increase last year 52-to-48, but it passed yesterday with 53 percent in favor).
Gates County tried for the second time to pass the land transfer tax, but voters rallied against it by an even larger percentage than last year (59 percent voted “no” last year compared with 70 percent this year).
War is peace, love is hate and less carbon dioxide is green
Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 06:55 AM
Have people noticed that nowadays when it is said that an organization such as a business or a branch or department of government is "going green" it means that it is taking steps to reduce its emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere? The environmental movement has brought Orwell to science. An atmosphere richer in CO2 will undoubtedly bring about a greener earth. Not only is CO2 an airborne fertilizer that promotes more lush vegetation but it also allows plants to utilize water more efficiently. This is, or at least used to be, grammar school science. And yet, the enviros have some how turned the science on its head. My guess, if you asked most adults and school kids if more CO2 in the atmosphere would bring about a greener planet, they would say no. But science tells us that if we truly want to "go green" we should increase our CO2 emissions not decrease them.
Today's Carolina Journal Online features
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 02:03 AM
In today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive, Karen McMahan reports on some possible drawbacks from so-called "smart metering" technology that could be headed to your homes.
John Hood's Daily Journal offers a first look at Tuesday night's election results.
Contested N.C. Senate primaries
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 01:59 AM
District 3 Democrats: Incumbent Clark Jenkins wins with 51 percent of the vote.
District 5 Democrats: Don Davis (36 percent) and Kathy Taft (24 percent) advance to a runoff.
District 12 Republicans: David Rouzer wins (68 percent).
District 12 Democrats: Kay Carroll wins (69 percent).
District 13 Democtrats: Incumbent David Weinstein wins (61 percent).
District 14 Democrats: Incumbent Vernon Malone wins (73 percent).
District 16 Democrats: Josh Stein wins (49 percent) three-way race.
District 20 Democrats: Incumbent Floyd McKissick wins (77 percent).
District 21 Democrats: Incumbent Larry Shaw wins (81 percent).
District 22 Republicans: Incumbent Harris Blake wins (59 percent).
District 23 Democrats: Incumbent Ellie Kinnaird wins (64 percent).
District 25 Democrats: Incumbent Bill Purcell wins (64 percent).
District 28 Democrats: Incumbent Katie Dorsett wins (65 percent).
District 36 Republicans: Incumbent Fletcher Hartsell wins (68 percent).
District 36 Democrats: Jim Johnson wins (51 percent).
District 39 Republicans: Robert Rucho wins (52 percent).
District 42 Republcians: Incumbent Austin Allran wins (65 percent).
District 44 Democrats: Jim Cates wins (64 percent).
District 45 Republicans: Jerry Butler wins (54 percent).
District 46 Democtats: Keith Melton wins (65 percent).
Contested N.C. House primaries
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 01:38 AM
District 3 Republicans: Norman Sanderson wins with 58 percent of the vote.
District 5 Democrats: Appointed incumbent Annie Mobley wins (59 percent).
District 7 Democrats: Appointed incumbent Angela Bryant wins (76 percent).
District 8 Democrats: Incumbent Edith Warren wins (61 percent).
District 14 Republicans: Incumbent George Cleveland wins (55 percent).
District 15 Republicans: Incumbent Robert Grady wins (63 percent).
District 18 Democrats: Appointed incumbent Sandra Hughes wins (75 percent). Former Rep. Thomas Wright wins 10 percent of the vote from his prison cell.
District 22 Democrats: Incumbent William Brisson leads (60 percent).
District 25 Republicans: W.B. Bullock wins (58 percent).
District 25 Democrats: Randy Stewart wins (61 percent).
District 40 Democrats: Stan Morse wins (54 percent) despite sending his concession speech to reporters the day before the election.
District 43 Democrats: Challenger Elmer Floyd unseats incumbent Mary McAllister, 51 percent to 49 percent.
District 47 Democrats: Incumbent Ronnie Sutton wins (59 percent).
District 52 Republicans: Challenger Jamie Boles wins (46 percent) three-way race. Incumbent Joe Boylan (25 percent) finishes third.
District 61 Republicans: Incumbent Laura Wiley wins (52 percent).
District 65 Democrats: Incumbent Nelson Cole wins (76 percent).
District 67 Republicans: Challenger Justin Burr (37 percent) and appointed incumbent Ken Furr (33 percent) appear headed toward a runoff.
District 68 Republicans: Incumbent Curtis Blackwood wins (65 percent).
District 76 Republicans: Incumbent Fred Steen wins (70 percent).
District 78 Republicans: Incumbent Harold Brubaker wins (80 percent).
District 82 Republicans: Incumbent Jeff Barnhart wins (58 percent).
District 83 Democrats: Barry Richards wins (60 percent).
District 92 Republicans: Darrell McCormick wins (71 percent).
District 94 Republicans: Shirley Randleman wins (51 percent).
District 95 Republicans: Challenger Grey Mills unseats incumbent Karen Ray, 51 percent to 49 percent.
District 99 Democrats: Challenger Nick Mackey unseats incumbent Drew Saunders (53 percent to 47 percent).
District 100 Democrats: Appointed incumbent Tricia Cotham wins (79 percent) the first election in this district since former House Speaker Jim Black went to prison.
District 103 Republicans: Incumbent Jim Gulley wins (49 percent) three-way race.
District 107 Democrats: Kelly Alexander wins (63 percent) the race for an open seat.
District 110 Republicans: Pearl Floyd leads with just 35 percent of precincts reporting.
District 119 Democrats: Incumbent Phil Haire wins (72 percent).
Tax vote details
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 00:38 AM
While Terry offered the most useful analysis, here's more information about the local tax votes.
No North Carolina county has endorsed the land-transfer tax. That tax went 0-for-4 tonight.
- Ashe (55 percent voted "no.")
- Gates (70 percent)
- Orange (66 percent)
- Tyrrell (55 percent)
Counties went 2-for-20 in seeking local sales tax increases.
Cumberland voters endorsed a sales tax increase with 53 percent of the vote, while Haywood voters endorsed the quarter-cent tax increase with 57 percent of the vote.
Meanwhile, voters in 18 counties said no.
- Duplin (59 percent voted "no.")
- Edgecombe (68 percent)
- Gaston (64 percent)
- Greene (63 percent)
- Guilford (75 percent)
- Henderson (63 percent)
- Hertford (71 percent)
- Lee (55 percent)
- Lincoln (74 percent)
- Moore (63 percent)
- Nash (61 percent)
- Onslow (74 percent)
- Randolph (70 percent)
- Rockingham (69 percent)
- Stanly (66 percent)
- Wayne (82 percent)
- Wilkes (65 percent)
- Wilson (73 percent)
Based on unofficial election night returns, 66 percent of the 536,805 votes cast in local tax referendums opposed tax increases.
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