The Locker Room

August 11, 2008

McCain/Dole--drill for new oil but don't use it.

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 3:41 PM

The position held by John McCain and Elizabeth Dole on oil drilling is ignorant at best and dishonest at worst. Combined with the position that they hold on global warming policy, that is, they favor a federally enforced cap on CO2 emissions, the implication is that they are in favor of finding new oil but against using it. The cap and trade program that they both favor would put a limit on the amount of oil that Americans are allowed to use, and then force us to ration that amount through a government devised and enforced trading scheme.  At the present time we have a government created scarcity of oil due to legal restrictions on  oil drilling and exploration. Dole and McCain would eliminate those restrictions but continue the government contrived scarcity by limiting the amount of oil we can use. It should be made clear that Obama's position on these issues, from the perspective of consumers , is no better, but it is more consistent. Like McCain and Dole, he is in favor of a CO2 cap and trade plan, but he doesn't use slight of hand to try and make us believe that he really wants us to have access to more oil.

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Southern Governors solve the "energy crisis"

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 3:11 PM

Mitch and Jon,

You guys missed the best quote in the article:

As the association's incoming chairman, [Virginia Governor Tim] Kaine will lead the southern governors' initiative.

"We're beginning the dialogue today," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, everything's on the table."

I don't think the best option, the "do nothing" option, is on the table. 

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Program evaluation for NC government projects

Posted by Becki Gray at 3:05 PM

Open government and transparency is a good thing and an admirable goal. Any and all measures ensuring that government is easily accessible and accountable to the taxpayer should be encouraged. In 2007, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1132, sponsored by Don Clodfelter (D-Mecklenberg) and passed unanimously in both the Senate and the House.  The new law created a program evaluation division to evaluate whether public services are delivered in an effective and efficient manner and in accordance with the law. The findings and reports are to assist lawmakers with oversight of government program and reassure taxpayers that their money is being spent wisely. 

Just completed projects (with final reports found here) include:
1.  Evaluate the effectiveness of the State personnel administration system;
2.  Determine the appropriate organizational structure to most effectively manage state-supported agricultural research facilities;
3. Determine the most effective governance and state-funding structure for the seven regional economic development commissions; and
4. Evaluate the efficiency of enhanced mental health and substance abuse services by reviewing program costs and processes.  This is the first part of a multi-part study.  No report on this project has been posted yet.

Pending projects with final reports due in December 2008 (just in time for consideration by the new 2009 General Assembly) include:

1.  Determine the effectiveness of the current allocation system for state water and sewer infrastructure funding and identify permanent funding alternatives;
2.  Evaluate the effectiveness of private duty nursing alternatives under Medicaid;
3.  Evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the motor vehicle safety and air emissions inspection system;
4.  Evaluate the effectiveness of the Administrative Office of the Courts management of information technology resources;
5.  Evaluate the effectiveness of enhanced mental health and substance abuse services by reviewing service quality and outcomes.  Part II of the above referenced mental health project.
6.  Evaluate the effectiveness of the Alcohol Beverage Control System and identify improvement options, including privatization; and
7.  Conduct a policy analysis of education governance in North Carolina for Pre-Kindergarten through Post-Secondary.

An ongoing project, producing a comprehensive NC Accountability report is expected to take several years.  It will "develop a comparative inventory of individual services and activities of state government and quantitative indicators, including unit costs for measuring State activities. The pilot agency will be the Department of Transportation."

Transparency and real accountability in government will work only if it is consistent, complete and dependable. A program evaluation division looking at whether tax funded programs are working is a good start but it’s not enough.


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Re: Hide your wallets

Posted by Jon Sanders at 2:52 PM

No kidding, Mitch; from your link:

Many of the region's universities, including the University of Kentucky and Duke University in North Carolina, are eager to assist with research, officials representing both institutions told the governors.

As a friend put it recently, Two words:


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Hide your wallets

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:38 PM

Southern governors to develop energy plan

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A new blockbuster book from Charles Murray

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 2:30 PM

Real Education: Four Simple truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality, by Charles Murray (forthcoming) 

Don't miss the full book description here including the blurb from PJ O'Rourke 

From the AEI description:

With four simple truths as his framework, Charles Murray, the bestselling coauthor of The Bell Curve, sweeps away the hypocrisy, wishful thinking, and upside-down priorities that grip America's educational establishment.

Ability varies. Children differ in their ability to learn academic material. Doing our best for every child requires, above all else, that we embrace that simplest of truths. America's educational system does its best to ignore it.

Half of the children are below average. Many children cannot learn more than rudimentary reading and math. Real Education reviews what we know about the limits of what schools can do and the results of four decades of policies that require schools to divert huge resources to unattainable goals.

Too many people are going to college. [George Leef will love this] Almost everyone should get training beyond high school, but the number of students who want, need, or can profit from four years of residential education at the college level is a fraction of the number of young people who are struggling to get a degree. We have set up a standard known as the BA, stripped it of its traditional content, and made it an artificial job qualification. Then we stigmatize everyone who doesn't get one. For most of America's young people, today's college system is a punishing anachronism.

America's future depends on how we educate the academically gifted. An elite already runs the country, whether we like it or not. Since everything we watch, hear, and read is produced by that elite, and since every business and government department is run by that elite, it is time to start thinking about the kind of education needed by the young people who will run the country. The task is not to give them more advanced technical training, but to give them an education that will make them into wiser adults; not to pamper them, but to hold their feet to the fire.

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Re: Climate change

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:51 PM

A key message of Robert Ferguson's Shaftesbury Society presentation was the fact that North Carolina can take no steps to have any noticeable impact on the climate.

4:25 p.m. update: Watch the entire speech here.

Click here to see a list of other speeches available as video downloads. 

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Climate Change

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 1:45 PM

Today's Shaftesbury Society luncheon featured Robert Ferguson, Founder and President of Science and Public Policy Institute, speaking on "Observed Climate Change and the Negligible Global Effect of Greenhouse-gas Emission Limits in the State of North Carolina"

After the speech, I found this article from Cato Unbound on climate change in my email inbox:

Keeping Our Cool: What to Do about Global Warming

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This isn't our first real estate bust

Posted by George Leef at 12:33 AM

Historian Robert Higgs points out here that during the 1920s the U.S. went through a real estate boom that had started to crash prior to the stock market crash in October, 1929. The cause? As always, it was government economic tampering.

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School choice in full bloom

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 11:41 AM

Read this Tucson Citizen article and dream about the day that you, like the Joyce family, will be able to enjoy school choice.

TUSD (Tucson Unified School District) began a campaign last school year to keep students and entice hundreds of charter students back to the district.

The effort didn't keep the Joyce family from leaving.

"TUSD has been cutting back on programs . . . but Tanque Verde [Unified School District] is still offering art, music and Spanish," at the elementary school level, said Barb Joyce, the boys' mother. "At Soleng Tom (Elementary, where the boys had been), the PTA bought a mobile computer lab for the school. There was not enough room for a whole computer lab.

"But at Tanque Verde Elementary, there is a permanent computer lab, a science room. I just think it will be a better, less stressful education for them and they will get the extras TUSD is not able to offer anymore.

"They also will have smaller class sizes and that all adds up to teachers who aren't as stressed and to a better education..."
The interesting part is that TUSD is not getting the message. TUSD officials have increased advertising efforts, but seem to be doing little to improve classroom teaching and improve access to instructional resources. Perhaps that is why TUSD has lost more than 4,000 students to district, charter, and private schools.

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Let North Carolina decide

Posted by Becki Gray at 10:33 AM

As the energy crisis continues, so does the debate about off shore drilling.  From Charles Krauthammer’s editorial yesterday,

“…drilling requires no government program, no newly created bureaucracy, no pie-in-the-sky technologies that no one has yet invented.  It requires only one thing, only one act. Lift the moratorium. Private industry will do the rest. And far from draining the treasury, it will replenish it with direct taxes, and with the indirect taxes from the thousands of non-subsidized new jobs created.”

Any lift on a drilling moratorium would allow each state to decide how and where and even if to drill.  In the last days of the North Carolina General Assembly, forty five representatives sponsored House Resolution 2806 which would allow North Carolina to determine whether offshore exploration and drilling should be allowed off our coast. Unfortunately the bill was sent to the House Rules Committee and did not get a hearing or a vote.

Those representatives sponsoring the resolution: Stam (R-Wake), McGee (R-Forsyth), Folwell (R-Forsyth), Justice (R-Pender) (Primary Sponsors);  Avila (R-Wake), Barnhart (R-Cabarrus), Blackwood (R-Union), Blust (R-Guilford), Boylan (R-Moore), Brubaker (R-Randolph), Clary (R-Cleveland), Cleveland (R-Onslow), Current (R-Gaston), Daughtridge (R-Nash), Daughtry (R-Johnston), Dockham (R-Davidson), Dollar (R-Wake), Frye (R-Mitchell), Furr (R-Stanley), Gillespie (R-McDowell), Gulley (R-Mecklenberg), Hilton (R-Catawba), Holloway (R-Stokes), Holmes (R-Yadkin), Hurley (R-Randolph), Justus (R-Henderson), Killian (R-Mecklenberg), Kiser (R-Lincoln), Langdon ((R-Johnston), Lewis (R-Harnett), McElraft (R-Carteret), Moore (R-Cleveland), Neumann (R-Gaston), Pate(R-Wayne), Ray (R-Iredell), Samuelson (R-Mecklenberg), Setzer (R-Catawba), Starnes (R-Caldwell), Steen (R-Rowan), Thomas (R-Buncombe), Tillis (R-Mecklenberg), Walend (R-Transylvania), Walker(R-Wilkes), West (R-Cherokee), and Wiley (R-Guilford). 


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Conservatives are happier,... than liberals

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 10:28 AM

NCPA summarizes Peter Schweizer's new book Makers and Takers here.

Schweizer's book "explores why conservatives work harder, feel happier, have closer families, take fewer drugs, give more generously, value honesty more, are less materialistic and envious, whine less and even hug their children more than liberals." 

For example:

  • Some 71 percent of conservatives say you have an obligation to care for a seriously injured spouse or parent versus less than half (46 percent) of liberals.
  • Conservatives have a better work ethic and are much less likely to call in sick than their liberal counterparts.
  • Liberals are two and a half times more likely to be resentful of others' success and 50 percent more likely to be jealous of other people's good luck.
  • Liberals are two times more likely to say it is okay to cheat the government out of welfare money you don't deserve.
  • Some 55 percent of conservatives say they get satisfaction from putting someone else's happiness ahead of their own, versus only 20 percent of liberals.


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Oil speculators? Who are they?

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:59 AM

Alvin Rabushka has a good idea for the next round of Congressional hearings - have the members explain why gas and oil prices are falling despite speculators and greedy oil companies?

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HSAs cover the uninsured

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:52 AM

Via NCPA: "One in three individuals purchasing HSAs did not have health care coverage in the prior 12 months; many of these uninsured reported they did not see prior health care offerings as cost effective, but stated the retirement funding option with an HSA powered their decision."

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Shuler for veep?

Posted by David N. Bass at 08:07 AM

U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, D-NC, is being suggested as a possible running mate for Barack Obama. From the column:

[The] quarterback-turned-politicians could help Obama and the Democrats overcome the image of Chablis-sipping, Brie-munching elites who appeal to urban denizens, college graduates, and minorities but strain to “connect” with small farmers, coal miners, and blue- and pink-collar voters.

In April the Illinois senator belittled small-town residents when he told a San Francisco audience that “it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

In contrast to Obama’s condescension and extremely liberal voting record as a state legislator and senator, Shuler opposes abortion, favors gun owners’ rights, and believes that newcomers seeking to become citizens should obey U.S. laws rather than sneaking across the border and throwing themselves into the arms of immigration lawyers.

What's overlooked here is Shuler's lack of experience, which wouldn't combine well with Obama's own newness to the national stage. Shuler has been in office less than two years. He's even younger than Obama.

Aside from having more moderate positions on several issues that would technically "balance out" the ticket, I don't see Shuler helping Obama much. Seems to me Obama would benefit from an older, more experienced running mate, although picking one from the South or Midwest isn't a bad idea.

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Latest dispatches from the political trail

Posted by John Hood at 07:59 AM

• Elizabeth Dole and Kay Hagan continue to debate energy policy.

• A visit by an Beverly Perdue aide to the state ethics commission lies at the bottom of a dispute that has triggered a probe by the state auditor. Perdue offers comments about the news that the Bladen County schools are going tobacco-free.

• Statistics show that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department is using force more than it used to, but Pat McCrory urges caution in interpreting the data. During a Kinston appearance, he discusses the effects of energy prices on agriculture, as well as economic development and immigration. The Alliance for North Carolina, a Democratic group, sparks criticism of Perdue from the Republican Governors Association.

• The state treasurer's race appears to be surprisingly close, with Bill Daughtridge outperforming other statewide GOP candidates by running strong in his Eastern NC home base.

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Digging a little deeper into Western history

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:37 AM

Most of us know that the Founders feared tyranny and also feared unchecked democracy. But why?

Carl J. Richard’s new book, Greeks & Romans Bearing Gifts: How the Ancients Inspired the Founding Fathers, attempts to answer that question. Richard reminds us that the Founders spent much of their time learning lessons from classical writers such as Herodotus, Thucydides, Cicerro, Plutarch, and Livy. Especially influential were works that praised the Roman Republic.

The founders’ immersion in the history of the late Roman Republic had a profound effect on their style of thought. They developed from the classics a suspicious cast of mind. They learned to fear conspiracies against liberty. Steeped in a literature whose perpetual theme was the steady encroachment of tyranny on liberty, the founders became virtually obsessed with spotting its approach, so that they might avoid the fate of their Roman heroes. In 1767 John Adams declared regarding the “spirit of liberty,” “Principiis Obsta [‘resist the beginnings’ of tyranny] is her motto and maxim, knowing her enemies are secret and cunning, making the earliest advances slowly, silently, and softly.” The following year his cousin Samuel used the Latin motto “Principiis Obsta” as a pseudonym for an essay warning against a British military dictatorship over America. John Dickinson echoed the sentiment, quoting Cicero: “Even though the ruler may not, at the time, be troublesome, it is a sad fact that he can be so, if he takes the fancy.” Dickinson added that the smaller the illegitimate tax the greater the danger, since the more easily it would be accepted by the incautious, thereby establishing a precedent for greater encroachments. Dickinson concluded, “Nations, in general, are not apt to think until they feel…. Therefore, nations in general have lost their liberty.”

For more on the founders and their thought processes, one could do worse than starting with Richard Brookhiser’s witty take on the Revolutionary period.

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National attention North Carolina would have preferred to avoid

Posted by Chad Adams at 06:36 AM

No, I’m not talking about John Edwards-related news.

The latest issue of National Review includes the following blurb, which is sure to be included in the next travel and tourism brochure:

A factional battle involving as many as 300 combatants left several injured but resulted in no fatalities. Not in Fallujah, but at the Triangle Town Center, a shopping mall in Raleigh, N.C. The fighters were members of rival gangs fighting about … whatever morons fight about. Time for a surge at the mall?

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One of the funniest lies I’ve ever read

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:34 AM

I wish I could have seen the look on the face of Billy Gaines, co-founder of, when he described for a TIME reporter the appeal of beer pong:
"It's a sport. It just happens to involve alcohol. People are not playing the game to get drunk but because they love the challenge of throwing a table-tennis ball into a cup with some type of liquid in it."

Yeah, sure.

Regular Locker Room readers will recall that beer has provoked some interesting observations in the past.

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Unintended consequences

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:33 AM

In the stating-the-obvious department, TIME’s latest issue mentions a key problem associated with African food-aid programs:

Nearly a quarter-century ago, an outright famine led to Live Aid, an international fund-raising effort promoted by rock stars, which produced an outpouring of global generosity: millions of tons of food flooded into the country. Yet, ironically, that very generosity may have contributed to today's crisis.

Over time, sustained food aid creates dependence on handouts and shifts focus away from improving agricultural practices to increase local food supplies.

Now that TIME has discovered the law of unintended consequences in the case of food aid, perhaps its reporters can tackle the same phenomenon as it’s applied to government meddling in biofuels, state regulation of health insurance, misuse of red-light cameras, and many other aspects of public policy.

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:27 AM

The week's first Carolina Journal Online exclusive features David Bass' report on the abnormally high level of new debt associated with the new state budget.

John Hood's Daily Journal offers his perspective on the John Edwards mess.

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