The Locker Room

October 07, 2009

An idea of how doctors' offices will look under Obamacare

Posted by Jon Sanders at 9:30 PM

Don't look now, but the Democrats have hatched a plan to force Obamacare through without any input from the awful, awful public. In the meantime, news from Detroit illustrates how people act when a good is offered for free:

Scuffles erupted as several thousand Detroit residents jockeyed, pushed and shoved Wednesday to get free money being offered to only 3,500 of the city's recently or soon to be homeless.

Several received medical treatment for fainting or exhaustion while frantically trying to obtain the applications for federal housing assistance. The long lines and short tempers highlighted the frustration and desperation that Detroit residents feel struggling through an economic nightmare. ...

Before Wednesday, Detroit Planning and Development workers already had spent two days handling long lines at City Hall and other locations. Rumors that $3,000 stimulus checks from the Obama administration spurred heavy turnouts. ...

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Barone says conservatives need policies that target the young

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:54 PM

Younger voters chose Barack Obama over John McCain by a 2-to-1 margin in the 2008 election.

Fox News and Washington Examiner political analyst Michael Barone says that margin suggests to him that Republicans need to find a message that appeals better to the young.

Barone discussed that theme during today's Headliner luncheon presentation in Raleigh. Click the play button below to hear Barone describe an alternative to big-government policies from the Democratic Congress and administration.

Watch the full 1:08:02 recording by clicking the play button below.

You'll find other John Locke Foundation video presentations here.

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Re: Dell is Done

Posted by Becki Gray at 3:50 PM

According to the Greensboro News and Record, the Dell deal is over.

In July 2004, the Golden Leaf Foundation got a whiff that Dell may be looking for a deal and fired off a recruitment package to lure them to NC. 

The incentives bidding game with Dell started in Nov. 2004 with $242.5 million in state money to be distributed over 15 years passed the General Assembly.   Later that month, Guilford County offered over $7.1 million in local tax money if Dell would come there.  To sweeten the Guilford Co offer, in December 2004, Greensboro City Council approved giving Dell cash and incentives worth $5.3 million in city tax money, bringing the total Guilford offer to $12.4 million in local taxpayers’ money.  Later in December, Forsyth County jumped into the game offering $14.8 million in cash and services.  Not to be outdone, Davidson County offered $23.1 million from their taxpayers.  

 As an early Christmas present (or curse), on December 22, 2004, Dell chose Forsyth County as the site for it’s new plant.  What a deal.  The state ponyed up $225 million to be distributed over 15 years, Winston Salem kicked in $18.9 million and cash, services and free land worth $18.3 million were handed over from Forsyth County bringing the total tax payer funded payoff for Dell to more than $300 million.  

 Now, not five years later, Dell announces it’s shutting down the Winston Salem plant, taking 905 jobs and millions of dollars in tax payer money down the tube– money that could have been used for schools, roads, police officers or heck, put back in the pockets of tax payers – the folks paying this very silly, very wasteful bill.


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New CJ exclusive explores Wake school board election results

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:31 PM

David Bass takes a closer look at last night's elections, which turned out well for foes of the Wake County public schools' assignment policies.

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Layin' the smack down!

Posted by Geoffrey Lawrence at 3:13 PM

Last week Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post accused free-market economists of being the "most spectacularly wrong" group of professionals in known history. Today I respond in both the DC Examiner and the San Francisco Examiner.

The smack down hath been laid!

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It's hip to be cool but it's cool to be hipper than Charlotte

Posted by Becki Gray at 3:04 PM

Creative Loafing reports today that Charlotte has lost its edge. 

Apparently the Wall Street Journal recently conducted a study of the most youth-magnet cities in the country. Charlotte was bumped off the list this year, in part because  

“they jacked taxes through the roof to the point that we will now struggle to recruit the businesses that will create the jobs people want and need…..   Meanwhile, the big civic debate here (in Charlotte)  is whether we should jack up the property tax rate again to pay for a $450 million streetcar that will generate $112 million in property taxes over 20 years. (No, the math on that doesn't make sense.) And should we spend millions more turning Eastland Mall into a tourist destination? Millions more for a baseball stadium?  …..they belong in the trash bin for now.”  

 And to add insult to injury, Raleigh scored higher on the study due to

 "A relatively low cost of living and a highly educated population help make this Southern city appealing. Raleigh has job opportunities in tech and research and a strong university presence. It offers outdoor recreation and a lively music scene. 'Raleigh's future is so bright that it ought to wear shades,' says one panelist."

The article cites our colleague Jeff Taylor over at the MeckDeck, purveyor of all that's cool in the not so cool Queen City.

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Walking and chewing gum, or eating and driving

Posted by David N. Bass at 2:45 PM

From Rasmussen Reports:

Adults are almost evenly divided over whether people should be allowed to eat fast food while driving. Forty-five percent (45%) say people should be allowed to eat while driving, but 43% don't think so. Twelve percent (12%) are not sure.

A better option: ban drive-through windows that feed this vicious pattern of burrito toting automobile operators.

Egads. Soon, you won't be able to put on your sunglasses while driving without seeing blue flashing lights in your rear-view mirror.

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Dell is done.

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 2:22 PM

Breaking news from the Winston-Salem Journal:

Dell to close Forsyth County plant

Dell Inc. announced today that it will close its plant in Forsyth County by the end of January, cutting 905 jobs overall, including 600 in November.

The decision comes just two days after the plant turned four years old.

The plant is considered as the largest and highest profile incentive project in Triad history, with Dell eligible for up to $315 million in local and state incentives.

Dell said in a statement that it will continue to fully comply with the terms of incentive agreements with the citizens of North Carolina.

Employees said they were told of the decision just after lunch time.

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Is Cooper's office lying about TVA expenses?

Posted by David N. Bass at 2:02 PM

Yesterday's Under the Dome devoted some virtual ink to remarks by State Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry about Roy Cooper's use of taxpayer dollars to pay two Washington, D.C., law firms millions in legal fees to litigate against the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Berry highlighted one expense -- $5.50 for a beer -- that ran afoul of state law, and also unused hotel fees (see a Carolina Journal story on that here). These expenses, though, are only a microcosm of the amounts Cooper has devoted to these firms for the TVA case (more details here).

The Council of State ended up approving an additional $103,771 in new expenses for the law firms. Berry voted against it, according to the N&O.

The interesting part is Cooper’s defense of the expense, and particularly the bolded statement below from his spokesman:

”Those invoices were scrubbed a long time ago," Cooper said. "The state did not pay anything it was not supposed to pay. The bottom line here is that we have succeeded in forcing TVA to significantly reduce pollution coming in to North Carolina. The people of North Carolina are big winners as a result of this lawsuit.”

Cooper's spokesman later said the state never reimbursed the firm for the beer, nor did the firm ever submit the beer as an expense. [Emphasis mine].

That stands in direct contrast to documents I have and previous statements made to me by Cooper’s spokesperson. According to an expense reimbursement form marked July 13, 2007, the law group in question did request to be reimbursed for the beer (PDF download). The expense report even includes a check mark next to the beer expense, which was included on a receipt with a $17 seafood cobb.

Additionally, back when I wrote the first story on the TVA expenses and sought comment from Cooper’s office on the beer expense, this was the answer spokeswoman Noelle Talley provided:

Alcoholic beverages are not reimbursable by the State and the State will be reimbursed by the law firm for this purchase.

So, either the N&O misquoted Cooper’s spokesperson or Cooper’s office is lying about the expenses.

Adding insult to injury, there still has been no explanation from Cooper for why his office reimbursed a law firm $4,000 in unused hotel room fees.

I’ve put in a call to Talley for an explanation but haven’t heard back yet.

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Behind closed doors health overhaul

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 10:57 AM

Is a Senate health care bill a fait accompli because of backroom deals? Have moderate Democrats followed orders and put aside their deep concerns about state and federal budgets, a public plan, and taxes on the middle class? I think Chait is missing the crucial caveat to the moderates' willingness to go along. It's on as long as "they are presented with a bill that can withstand public scrutiny in their home states." I don't think either the Hagan bill or the Baucus bill does that.

UPDATE: Maybe I was a little optimistic. More details of secret plans in Congress.

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Unions are so good for the economy

Posted by George Leef at 10:08 AM

In his WSJ column today, Holman Jenkins writes about the decision by Toyota to close its plant in California called "NUMMI" (New United Motor Manufacturing Inc.). NUMMI was, Jenkins explains, a joint Toyota-General Motors venture dating back to 1984 as a way of commingling Japanese auto production efficiency with the UAW, that bastion of inefficiency.

It never worked out for Toyota since, Jenkins writes, "Even in recent years, Nummi employed twice as may workers as it really needed." Toyota's decision wins Jenkins' praise for "hard-headed unwillingness to keep playing sugar daddy to the UAW."

The union has tried all sorts of political maneuvers to keep the plant open. Toyota doesn't want to keep paying for inefficiency, so American taxpayers should be compelled to.

As Bastiat wrote, the state is the great fiction whereby everyone tries to live at everyone else's expense. The UAW (and other unions) would have the government keep supporting them at taxpayer expense indefinitely. The taxpayers are pretty much captives, but investors can and will go elsewhere. More and more UAW members are discovering that the union's short-sighted antagonism to efficiency has cost them their jobs.

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Like this? Hear more today at lunch

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:47 AM

Michael Barone says the standard narrative for the Obama surge and Republican failure is running into a lot of trouble explaining events this year.

So it may be time to advance a Narrative B. It goes something like this. George W. Bush's inability to produce progress in Baghdad and New Orleans, along with floundering by congressional Republicans, led voters to give Democrats majorities in Congress in 2006 and the presidency in 2008. But the huge flow of dollars designed to staunch the financial crisis (the Troubled Asset Relief Program), finance bailouts and fund the stimulus package raised fears that government would crowd out private-sector growth.

Read the rest here. Join us for lunch today and you can ask Barone whatever questions you might have, too.

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"I'm not sure where she is"

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 09:37 AM

Cathy Truitt and John Tedesco, candidates for the District 2 Wake County school board seat, seem to be headed for a runoff, so expect another month of debates over the Wake County busing program.

The headline quote is from Keith Sutton, chair of the Wake County Board of Education, referring to Cathy Truitt's contradictory position on the busing issue.

From Truitt's website:

- Cathy Truitt’s Education Agenda for District 2: "Work to bring better socio-economic balance to District 2 schools."

- "It is unthinkable that in a free country...that we take a forced approach to assigning students to schools."


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Obama the communitarian

Posted by George Leef at 09:20 AM

That's how David Kelley labels our Beloved Leader in this excellent essay. You'll especially like Kelley's twisting of the knife on Obama's call for greater "responsibility" since the thrust of his entire program is to transfer authority from individuals (who might, at least, act responsibly) to politicians who will almost certainly act irresponsibly.

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I've found a book from that alternate Star Trek world

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:57 AM

You know the one. Spock sports a goatee, and the Enterprise crew consists of a bunch of bad guys. (I'm sure John Hood knows the episode title.)

Surely Kevin Mattson's 2008 book, Rebels All! A Short History of the Conservative Mind in Postwar America, crossed over from that alternate universe.

In Mattson's version of history, conservatives are the radicals of American society and have been since at least the 1960s. OK.

To Mattson's credit, he's not a Michael Moore type who's looking to throw bombs at conservatives every few words. Though his book is short — about 140 pages — Mattson appears interested in approaching his subject with scholarly discipline.

Still, anyone looking for a better take on the conservative movement's history might want to seek out books by George Nash, Alfred Regnery, or Lee Edwards instead.

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RE: Insults

Posted by Rick Henderson at 08:19 AM

Mitch, Lyons has a big problem here. The fellow he holds out as the paragon of intellect with a string of highfalutin academic credentials, John Holdren, is a bit of a kook. Or at least we can say he readily embraces apocalyptic predictions that wind up wildly, even laughably wrong. And yet he learns little from his previous failures in judgment.

When Holdren was picked by Obama in December, Ross Douthat (who's hardly a raving right-winger) noted Holdren's long-running collaborations with Population Bomb scarifiers Paul and Anne Ehrlich, who were, in Douthat's words, pitching "a mix of hysteria and moral idiocy."

Holdren was also a key player in the famous bet between Paul Ehrlich and economist Julian Simon. Simon bet Ehrlich, who was predicting that the 1980s would bring mass famines and a total scarcity of basic commodities, that human ingenuity would triumph over shortages. Simon bet $1,000 that the price of any natural resource would go down over time. Holdren picked five precious metals, and over a decade -- the agreed-upon timeline -- Simon won on all five.

If Lyons wants to pick an example of a smart guy who can run circles around the presumed mouth-breathers, he'd do better to select someone who has a track record of occasionally being in the same time zone as reality.

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'Weak himself, Obama draws strength from Bush'

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:07 AM

That's the headline for the new Washington Examiner piece from Michael Barone, who's set to deliver a John Locke Foundation Headliner presentation at noon today at the North Raleigh Hilton.

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Worse than a Quindlen column?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:13 AM

For years, I would cringe each time I saw Anna Quindlen’s column on the last page of Newsweek. (This was a biweekly occurrence, since Quindlen traded back-page space with George Will.)

Now Quindlen is gone, Will has moved closer to the front of the magazine, and Newsweek’s new “back story” usually offers some graphic-heavy feature.

I couldn’t find this week’s feature online, but the headline says it all: “Was Russia Better Off Red?” Comparing pre- and post-1991 statistics for population, life expectancy, and nine other measures, the magazine suggests that communism might not have been such a bad thing after all.

That sound you hear is Alexander Solzhenitsyn spinning in his grave, along with the millions slaughtered in the name of communism.

Anna Quindlen's cluelessness would be a welcome alternative to this piece.

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Another sign of the changing media landscape

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:09 AM

This forum has explored repeatedly the decline of traditional media. The latest Newsweek touches on one aspect of the subject as well, with an article focusing on bloggers who run rings around traditional media outlets in covering local news:
Millburn is ground zero in what is fast becoming America's first post-newspaper media war. Dailies like the nearby Newark Star Ledger or The New York Timesonce had local reporters who'd cover places like Millburn, but as newspapers' finances have unraveled, coverage of outlying villages has shrunk: in April the Times cut its news sections for New Jersey, Connecticut, Long Island, and Westchester County, N.Y., to one page. In the last year, however, a group of community-focused blogs, run by journalists but relying heavily on citizen-commentators, have risen up to take their place. For them, no event is too local.

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When the science doesn’t work for you, insult your opponents

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:08 AM

That’s the lesson Newsweek’s Daniel Lyons has learned in the debate about global warming. In his latest column, Lyons bemoans that fact that “brilliant” scientists who push the alarmist line haven’t yet won the fight:
[L]ook at what they're up against: a noisy babble of morons and Luddites, the "Drill, baby, drill" crowd, the birthers, and tea-party kooks who have done their best to derail health-care reform and will do the same to any kind of energy policy. [Science czar John] Holdren has an undergraduate degree from MIT and a Ph.D. from Stanford; he has won countless awards for his work on nuclear proliferation, climate change, alternative energy, and population growth. But now he must sell his ideas to people who couldn't pass high-school algebra—and who believe they know more than he does.

One suspects that Mr. Lyons would shy away from a comparison of his own intelligence — or even academic prowess (a very different characteristic) — with those of climate skeptics Richard Lindzen, John Christy, and Roy Spencer.

I also wonder what he would make of Christy’s science-based rebuttal of the alarmist arguments William Schlesinger offered earlier this year in the John Locke Foundation debate captured in the video below.

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:58 AM

This morning's new Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Sarah Okeson's report on the increases in investment fees charged to the state's pension fund during the past year, when the fund was losing money.

John Hood's Daily Journal analyzes the impact of last night's Wake County school board election results.

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