October 31, 2007
Who's been working on the railroad?
Posted by Becki Gray at 4:47 PM
According to a report in the Greensboro News and Record, the North Carolina Railroad, which is owned by the state (i.e. taxpayers), has commissioned a study to look at the costs of building a commuter rail line between Goldsboro and Greensboro. The study will cost
about $400,000. The study however, will not include estimates for ridership or operating
In the meantime, a Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation was appointed yesterday. They are charged with studying the condition and needs of NorthCarolina's transportation system. Perhaps they should start with the North Carolina Railroad's disregard for the taxpayer.
All children become Milton Friedman on Halloween
Posted by Dr. Karen Y. Palasek at 2:08 PM
Well, not necessarily Uncle Miltie. It could be Friedrich Hayek or Ludwig von Mises (but most definitely not J.M. Keynes). Here's why I think so.
Time is of the essence; Halloween night falls in just a few hours, so be prepared.
What is government all about?
Posted by George Leef at 12:23 AM
The following answer, more than three centuries old, is quite accurate:
There is not perhaps in human affairs anything so unaccountable as the indignity and cruelty with which the far greater part of mankind suffer themselves to be used under pretence of government. For some men falsely persuading themselves that bad governments are advantageous to them, as most conducing to gratify their ambition, avarice, and luxury, set themselves with the utmost art and violence to procure their establishment: and by such men almost the whole world has been trampled underfoot, and subjected to tyranny, for want of understanding by what means and methods they were enslaved. For though mankind take great care and pains to instruct themselves in other arts and sciences, yet very few apply themselves to consider the nature of government, an enquiry so useful and necessary both to magistrate and people. Nay, in most countries the arts of state being altogether directed either to enslave the people, or to keep them under slavery; it is become almost everywhere a crime to reason about matters of government. But if men would bestow a small part of the time and application which they throw away upon curious but useless studies, or endless gaming, in perusing those excellent rules and examples of government which the ancients have left us, they would soon be enabled to discover all such abuses and corruptions as tend to the ruin of public societies. It is therefore very strange that they should think study and knowledge necessary in everything they go about, except in the noblest and most useful of all applications, the art of government.
Andrew Fletcher, A Discourse of Government With Relation to Militias 
Such An Understanding County Commissioner
Posted by Chad Adams at 11:33 AM
Chatham County has long abandoned the quest to be a reasonably taxed county. They have enacted a $2900 per new home impact fee (to run off low income home buyers) and are now pushing for a land-transfer tax. This is addition to moratoriums and countless cries to stop ALL development adjacent to roads in the county to protect the "view" thereby diminishing the value of property for land owners adjacent to roads.
But this quote from WRAL really goes to show how poorly some elected officials understand taxation and home buying.
"What is 0.4 percent of $100,000? It's $400. If $400 is going to
stop you from buying a house, you don't need to buy a house,"
Commissioner Patrick Barnes said.
Chatham County officials said
they expect a close vote next Tuesday, but if the transfer tax fails,
they vowed to continue putting it on the ballot until it passes.
In other words, they don't really care what the citizens have to say and if they had the power, they'd simply pass the tax increase. Attention Commissioner Barnes, the $400 is paid by the seller, but it's nice to know that you understand it will be passed along to the purchaser in addition to the $2900 you also support and the $200 they will already pay per $100k. And where are the $100k homes in Chatham???
IKEA goes green
Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 10:22 AM
Take the bus and get a 10 percent discount at IKEA. The only problem is lugging that sofa back home on the bus.
Help reduce CO2
emissions by using public
transportation! Bring your
monthly bus pass to the AS-IS
department & you’ll receive
an additional 10% OFF
discount on AS-IS purchases
of $20 or more.
Cannot be combined with
any other offer.
See store for more details.
Excellence in Higher Education
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 09:21 AM
If you missed Saturday's Pope Center conference (or want to relive the memories), you now can watch each presentation in its entirety.
Why aren't our electricity rates going down?
Posted by Paul Chesser at 08:39 AM
According to long-ago settled rate cases with the North Carolina Utilities Commission, Progress Energy and Duke Energy are allowed only a 12.5 percent rate of return on equity (Progress's may be slightly off that mark). So when the two utilities reached an agreement in 2002 with government regulators and legislators on the Clean Smokestacks law, which requires them to add emissions-reducing "scrubbers" to their coal-fired power plants, they accepted a rate "freeze" even though they would each have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the pollution controls. This raised suspicions here at the Locke Foundation and at places like the Carolina Utility Customers Association, who thought that somehow Progress and Duke were really earning more than the legally-allowed rate cap.
Well, now The News & Observer reports today that the costs of adding the scrubbers is even higher than the utilities originally thought:
Progress Energy's cost to clean up coal-burning power plants in the
Carolinas could top $1.35 billion, company officials told the N.C.
Utilities Commission Tuesday.
Customers could end up paying $542
million of the total cost of complying with a 2002 environmental law,
according to Progress Energy's estimates. Customers' share would range
from $1.25 to $1.50 more for the typical household's monthly bill.
the Raleigh-based electric utility says it doesn't expect to raise
rates. Progress Energy rates, last set in 1988 in North Carolina, have
allowed the company to spend more than $4 billion on power plants,
transmission lines and other system upgrades without having seeking
"We have no plans for a rate case in the foreseeable future," said Progress Energy spokesman David McNeil.
How can this behavior be explained, when your costs skyrocket yet you don't pass it on to your customers? Can you come to any other conclusion than that the rate "freeze" was a fraud, and that if the Utilities Commission was doing its job, Duke and Progress would have had another rate case more recently than 19 years ago and everyone would have lower electricity bills as a result?
Pay all you want, Warren
Posted by Joseph Coletti at 08:24 AM
Warren Buffett is asking for higher taxes again. Yes, he has admitted, the Gates Foundation will use the money better than the government, but the tax rate he pays is lower than anyone else in his office.
During an interview with NBC television, Mr Buffett brandished an informal survey of 15 of his 18 office staff at his Berkshire Hathaway empire. The billionaire said he was paying 17.7% payroll and income tax, compared with an average in the office of 32.9%.
Buffett's point seems to be that the tax system is regressive, but maybe he should return to that question about who is a better steward of his money. In the meantime, he can always donate the amount he thinks he should have been taxed. As a reminder, the address to give money to the federal government is:
Gifts to the United States
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Credit Accounting Branch
3700 East-West Highway, Room 6D17
Hyattsville, MD 20782
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