The Locker Room

August 13, 2010

Friday Funnies from Reason.com

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 3:19 PM

 

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CJ exclusive on UNC abortion decision

Posted by David N. Bass at 3:15 PM

We have a new exclusive up at Carolina Journal Online discussing the latest developments in the UNC elective abortion controversy.

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The Future of Higher Education?

Posted by Jenna Ashley Robinson at 3:13 PM

There's been a lot of recent talk about how technology will revolutionize higher education. Online courses are just one possible way in which technology can bridge distances and save students time and money. But reports about the quality vary widely.

My Pope Center colleagues and I would like to know about your experiences with online education or distance learning. If you or anyone you know has taken an online course, please send your comments and opinions about the experience to me at jarobinson@popecenter.org .

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Economists: Keep all the Bush tax cuts

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 1:38 PM

Thirty-two of 53 economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal this month say all of the individual income tax cuts should be extended. Another 11 say just the tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 a year should be extended. More than half of those who supported extending the tax cuts said the lost revenues should be made up with spending cuts or other tax hikes. Lower spending and lower taxes sounds like a winning combination.

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Re: Krugman v. Ryan

Posted by George Leef at 1:11 PM

This is getting a lot of attention, none of it flattering to Krugman. Consider this piece by James Capretta.

Paul Krugman used to pretend that he was an economist offering his reasoned views on policy. This dust-up with Rep. Ryan shows him to be just a nasty, partisan cheap-shot artist.

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Transit facts that Triangle leaders continue to ignore

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 1:09 PM

Joel Kotkin hits another home run with this analysis of rail transit in LA, Charlotte and other major cities that are blindly following the rail transit fad.   What did LA and federal taxpayers get for their $8 billion investment?

  • the sad reality is that there has been no increase in [LA's] MTA transit ridership since before the rail expansion began in 1985.
  • Meanwhile, traffic has gotten worse, with delay hours growing from 44 hours a year in 1982 to 70 hours in 2007.
What are the nationwide trends?
  • ...the percentage of people taking transit to work is now lower than it was in 1980.
  • ... people who work from home now surpass transit users in 36 out of 52 metropolitan areas with populations over 1 million--and receive virtually no financial backing from governments.

Why have the billions spent on 19th century rail failed to produce results?

  • In the country as a whole barely 10% of employment is in the city; and in many cities that grew most in the 20th century, such as Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles and Phoenix, the central business district's share falls well under 5%.
  • ...more than 80% of all commuter trips are between areas outside downtown

Who is behind the push to spend billions on a 19th century technology that will not reduce congestion? According to Kotkin:

  • ...the choice to invest in new subways and light rail as opposed to buses reflects both a class bias and the agenda of what may best described as the "density lobby." 
Ultimately we need to ask what constitutes transit's primary mission: to carry more people to work or to reshape our metropolitan areas for ever denser development. As opposed to buses, which largely serve those without access to cars, light rail lines are often aimed at middle-class residents who would also be potential buyers of high-density luxury housing. In this sense, light rail constitutes a critical element in an expanded effort to reshape the metropolis in a way preferred by many new urbanists, planners and urban land speculators....

Clearly we should not spend our ever more scarce transit resources on a nostalgia crusade to make our cities function much the way they did in the late 1800s. Instead, we need to construct systems reflecting the technology and geographic realities of the 21st century and place our primary focus on helping people, particularly those in need, find efficient, economically sustainable ways to get around.

The Triangle's leaders--political, business, and planners--are rushing headlong for a tax increase to pay for a 19th century rail system that will serve the middle-class and a small group of land owners. These same leaders will not be caught dead riding the system except for the ribbon cutting and other photo-ops. 

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Sally Pipes targets the individual mandate

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:19 AM

The Pacific Research Institute's Sally Pipes — a former John Locke Foundation Shaftesbury Society speaker — explains in a new Human Events column why ObamaCare's "individual mandate" is especially odious:

During the run-up to Obamacare’s passage, the White House claimed that the individual mandate would lower healthcare costs by expanding the insurance pool. The young and healthy -- many of whom currently go without coverage – would be forced to buy into the system and would help subsidize care for the aged and infirm.

But most of the uninsured – particularly the young and healthy – don’t go without coverage because they’re irresponsible. They opt not to purchase insurance because it’s too expensive.

Obamacare does little to make insurance more affordable. In fact, with all its new mandates requiring no-cost preventive care, low annual deductibles, and coverage for adult children up to age 26, the health reform law will actually raise premiums. Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that individual insurance premiums under reform will be 10 to 13 percent higher by 2016 than they would be in the absence of reform.

By the time the mandate is in full effect, the average individual insurance policy is expected to cost about $5,000. For many Americans, it will make far more sense to forego insurance and pay a small fine than to fork over several thousand dollars for insurance they’ll never use.

Many residents of Massachusetts came to exactly that conclusion when the state mandated insurance coverage as part of its 2006 healthcare overhaul.

Four years later, 168,000 Bay State adults still don’t have health insurance. More than half of them -- 97,000 – did not buy insurance even though they could afford a policy, according to the state Department of Revenue. Of those, 86,000 paid the penalty, and 11,000 appealed it.

Clearly, many in Massachusetts bristled at the notion that the government could force them to buy an expensive product that they may not have wanted. Residents of the other 49 states will no doubt feel the same way – particularly when the U.S. Constitution does not grant the federal government the power to force people to purchase goods and services from the private sector.

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Cancel my subscription to the NYT

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 09:27 AM

Or so writes Joseph Epstein in the Weekly Standard here.  

The New York Times used to be called the Gray Lady of American newspapers. The sobriquet implied a certain stateliness, a sense of responsibility, the possession of high virtue. But the Gray Lady is far from the grande dame she once was. For years now she has been going heavy on the rouge, lipstick, and eyeliner, using a push-up bra, and gadding about in stiletto heels. She’s become a bit—perhaps more than a bit—of a slut, whoring after youth through pretending to be with-it. I’ve had it with the old broad; after nearly 50 years together, I’ve determined to cut her loose....

...Every so often I check to remind myself that Maureen Dowd isn’t amusing, though she is an improvement, I suppose, over the termagantial Anna Quindlen, whom I used to read with the trepidation of a drunken husband mounting the stairs knowing his wife awaits with a rolling pin. I’d sooner read the fine print in my insurance policies than the paper’s perfectly predictable editorials. Laughter, an elegant phrase, a surprising sentiment—the New York Times op-ed and editorial pages are the last place to look for any of these things. 

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On the departure of Thomas Frank from the WSJ

Posted by George Leef at 09:27 AM

On Wednesday, the columnist I have called the village idiot of WSJ's writing crew, Thomas Frank, revealed that he has done his last piece for the Journal. That elicited a number of letters. Here's the one I particularly like:

"Goodbye and good luck," writes Thomas Frank in his last weekly column for the Journal ("The Economic Crisis: Lessons Unlearned," Tilting Yard, Aug. 11). On the surface, this conservative libertarian might feel exuberant, but as I rethink the matter it appears the readers of the Journal's editorial pages will suffer a loss that would occur with the disappearance of no other contributor.

Mr. Frank taught us ideas, economic fantasies and a degree of political hostility that we will only be exposed to if we elect to read other publications. His political/economic perspective was misinformed enough to keep those of us with a different viewpoint aware of what was going on in the minds of our most misguided leftists. It is ironic that he despairs not only with middle America, he also has lost faith with our most leftward president and his administration.

I will miss him.

Alan Berenson

I'll only add that Frank's invincible ignorance in the realm of political economy would have been tolerable if it weren't for the fact that his writing often had a nasty, vindictive tinge to it. Like Obama in the White House, Frank was out of his league at The Wall Street Journal.

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Latest dispatches from the campaign trail

Posted by David N. Bass at 09:03 AM


  • Republicans have a huge generic ballot lead in the South, but are lagging elsewhere in the country, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.

  • Democrats tout their party as the best option for voters in the upcoming midterm elections.

  • THe N.C. Free Enterprise Foundation’s latest About the Capital report analyzes second quarter fundraising numbers for both parties.

  • In a press release, 7th Congressional District GOP candidate Ilario Pantano praises Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

  • U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-1st, won’t return cash from Congressman Charlie Rangel's political action committee, or recuse himself from an ethics investigation into the Harlem Democrat.

  • Poll finds that voters favor Republicans to lead the state Senate.

  • PR firm CEO to host fundraiser for state Senate Democrats.

  • Writing at TalkingAboutPolitics.com, Democratic strategist Gary Pearce says that his party needs to step it up in the war of perceptions.

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Remember the promise that all stimulus money would be spent wisely?

Posted by George Leef at 08:54 AM

Then you'll enjoy this video done by a former GMU economics student.

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This weekend on Carolina Journal Radio

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:58 AM

A federal appellate court ruling recently stymied North Carolina’s efforts to fight the Tennessee Valley Authority over air quality issues. What’s the long-term implication of that ruling? David Bass explores that topic in the next edition of Carolina Journal Radio.

Roy Cordato discusses the basic elements of real sales tax reform, while Terry Stoops responds to comments from Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and others supporting early-college programs as a tool to help reduce North Carolina’s high school dropout rate.

Rep. Dale Folwell will explain how the new Safe Schools Act will help keep bad-apple teachers out of the classroom, and economist Richard Stroup of N.C. State University will discuss the biases that help convince some people that global warming constitutes a monumental man-made disaster.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:47 AM

This week's Carolina Journal Online Friday interview features a conversation with N.C. State professor Robert Clark about the future of North Carolina's state pension fund. 

Melissa Mitchell's guest Daily Journal examines why so many young people seem to have positive attitudes about socialism.

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