The Locker Room

May 11, 2004

More prevalent than not

Posted by Chad Adams at 1:15 PM

Unfortunately, the following story that ran in the Kannapolis Independent today will be prevalent across the state. I'm not hearing a lot of optimism at the local level, nor are we seeing much creativity. But gnashing of teeth is becoming popular.

In the first proposed budget of the post-Pillowtex era, Kannapolis’ city manager has asked for higher property taxes, an increase in sewer and water fees, an increase in the cable franchise fee and more money spent on economic development.

So, we are to deduce that raising fees and taxes will lure new businesses to the area if we have incentives that are created due to the increases. Somewhere, somebody in an elected office is actually buying this logic.

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The Benefits of Citizenship

Posted by Paul Chesser at 12:16 AM

ESPN's Peter Gammons wonders: Will the presidential election come down to (the Boston Red Sox') Manny Ramirez's vote in Florida?

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A Tragic, Uplifting Story

Posted by John Hood at 11:00 AM

Here’s a tragic yet simultaneously uplifting story out of Hickory about a mother who accidently backed her lawn mower over her five-year-old son.

He's lost most of his intestines and has other injuries from which he is recovering. The uplifting parts are at least two: 1) he is now waiting for a “bowel transplant,” which I’ve never heard of, glad to hear of, and confident would seem like a fantastic miracle to people just a generation ago; and 2) the mom is urging other parents to pay more close attention to where their children are while mowing, surely good advice.

The point is that no one is calling for a new round of government regulations or for suing the mower’s manufacturer. And as long as we don’t saddle our health care system with new mandates or taxes, the kind of innovation that will give this boy “a normal life” will continue.

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small claims court -- NC among nation's worst

Posted by George Leef at 10:35 AM

The Washington-based organization H.A.L.T. (Help Abolish Legal Tyranny) has just released its report card on the small claims court systems of the states. North Carolina was the eighth worst in the nation, earning a D based on HALT's six criteria. You can read what they have to say about NC here and then clicking on NC on the map.

Why does it matter? Because small claims court is the only way for many people to obtain justice. When the amount in question is fairly small, it just doesn't make sense to hire an attorney since the cost of doing so is often greater than the damages. The state ought to make the justice system more open and friendly to ordinary people.

In HALT's ranking, no state received an A grade, but Georgia earned a B and South Carolina a C. Our low D minus (60 percent of the criteria were Ds and 40 percent Fs) leaves a lot of room for improvement.

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The benefits of higher taxes

Posted by John Hood at 10:30 AM

The city manager of Charlotte has “floated” the idea of a property tax hike, illlustrating the “benefits” the additional revenue would bring, including more “arts projects.” She pointedly did not provide information on the costs to the local economy and citizens’ freedom, though fortunately some elected officials did in response.

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Health caring

Posted by George Leef at 09:54 AM

Hillary is back pushing her federalization of health care plan, the monstrosity that would entitle Americans to stand in lines for surly service just as Canadians and Brits do. Read this article for the scary details.

The best line is former Senator Phil Gramm's -- the Left hates individual health care accounts because it knows that once people get a taste of real freedom, they won't want to go back to dependence on government.

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The benefit of lower taxes

Posted by George Leef at 09:26 AM

While several of the larger (and formerly regarded as "free") nations of Europe languish with high unemployment and microscopic economic growth rates, quite a few of the smaller (and often formerly Communist) nations are enjoying robust economic growth thanks in large part to their low tax rates. You can read about it here.

It's too bad that Governor Easley insists on playing the role of Chancellor of Germany rather than the leaders of Estonia, the Czech Republic, or Ireland, just to give three examples, with regard to taxation. A growing government always gets in the way of prosperity.

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Choose your expert, choose your poison

Posted by John Hood at 09:15 AM

• According to the experts, the 2004 presidential race is John Kerry‘s to lose. As pollster John Zogby put it on his website, President Bush’s re-elect numbers are in dangerous territory and there are surprisingly few undecided voters to woo during the remainder of the campaign:

My most recent poll (April 12-15) shows bad re-election numbers for an incumbent President.  Senator Kerry is leading 47% to 44% in a two-way race, and the candidates are tied at 45% in the three-way race with Ralph Nader. Significantly, only 44% feel that the country is headed in the right direction and only 43% believe that President Bush deserves to be re-elected – compared with 51% who say it is time for someone new.

In that same poll, Kerry leads by 17 points in the Blue States that voted for Al Gore in 2000, while Bush leads by only 10 points in the Red States that he won four years ago.


• According to the experts, the 2004 presidential race is George W. Bush’s to lose. As economics columnist Bruce Bartlett put it in a recent column, there seems to be a clear relationship back in time between economic performance and presidential elections:

For months, economists have been predicting that solid growth in the gross domestic product would translate to a comfortable victory for Bush on Election Day. The economy has now averaged 5 percent real growth over the past year. Experience shows that this is well more than enough to ensure victory for the incumbent party in the presidential election.

With the April 29 announcement that the economy grew 4.2 percent in the first quarter, Yale University economist Ray Fair raised his prediction of President Bush’s share of the two-party vote in November from 58.7 percent to 60.4 percent. Either figure would constitute a blowout victory.

Other economists are not quite so optimistic, but nevertheless show Bush with a large and growing lead. In an April report, Global Insight, the giant economic forecasting company, has him winning 55.8 percent of the two-party vote this year.

Economist Robert Dye of Economy.com, looked at economic growth in individual states in an April 21 report and did an electoral analysis on a state-by-state basis. Overall, he sees Bush with 54 percent of the vote and carrying every state except California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. This translates into an Electoral College victory for Bush of 373 votes to 165 for John Kerry.

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Unemployment insurance

Posted by George Leef at 09:09 AM

Although it isn't the looming train wreck that Social Security and Medicare are, our system of government unemployment insurance (UI) also is badly in need of reform. Both Don Carrington and I have written in the past about this issue and here two economists from Central Michigan University arrive at the same conclusion we (and others) have: workers ought to set up their own accounts to cover periods of unemployment.

Currently, states are pretty much locked into our antiquated, New Deal-era system thanks to a federal tax that is mostly refunded to the states as long as they maintain a UI system that conforms to federal guidelines. That prevents state governments from improving on the status quo. Therefore, the first order of business is to push for federal waivers (or a repeal of the Federal Unemployment Tax Act) so that states can move away from forced socialization of the risk of unemployment and into individual responsibility.

As with Social Security, the transition would pose some problems, but it's better to deal with those problems than to live indefinitely with a system that wastes resources, unjustifiably transfers wealth from workers who have stable employment to those who don't, and encourages laid-off workers to remain unemployed longer than they would if they would drawing on their own money.

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Correcting a certain administration correction

Posted by John Hood at 09:06 AM

Remember the furor that erupted earlier this year when it came to light that President Bush‘s Council of Economic Advisors had predicated its economic forecast on a projected 2.6 million increases in jobs during 2004? “Rosy scenario!” screamed the Washington establishment. “Cooking the books!” screamed the press corps. By February, Bush was reportedly backing off the 2.6 million figure.

Only, now it’s May, we have the jobs reports for the first four months of 2004, and the data show an increase of 867,000 jobs nationwide. At that rate, the U.S. economy will produce — get ready for this — 2.6 million jobs by the end of the year. I’d like to know who came up with this projection, so I can track which Wall Street firm he or she eventually joins and bet some money with them.

Actually, the job-expansion rate might be higher or lower than that through 2004, but at the very least the Bush administration deserves an apology from all those who maligned them. Fat chance. Also, don’t buy the spin that these jobs are of the low-wage, hamburger-flipping variety. In April, reports The Wall Street Journal, manufacturing and service-sector jobs were roughly comparable in hourly pay.

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