The Locker Room

August 14, 2008

Putting the “private” in private energy enterprise

Posted by John Hood at 8:23 PM

Jon Utley has an excellent piece over at Reason about the argument that offshore and ANWR drilling can't be helpful for many years in easing pressure on world oil prices. The biggest elements of the delay, it seems, are not the technical challenges but the political and environmental barriers:

In fact, the world oil shortage is political, not geological. In the U.S., the government prohibits drilling offshore. In Nigeria, civil strife has shut down major production. In Libya and Iran, Washington effectively blockaded and isolated the nations for years to inhibit new production. In Iraq, of course, the U.S. destroyed much of the infrastructure since the first Gulf war in 1991 and then blockaded reconstruction. In nations such as Russia and Mexico nationalism and corruption curtail increased production.

Outside of developed Western countries, the single largest reason for oil "shortages" is government incompetence and ownership of the subsoil rights so that landowners don't benefit from oil discoveries. In Patagonia, Argentina (a nation with abundant oil), I was told how it was common for landowners to try to hide any evidence of oil seepages from underground, lest the government oil company come in and ruin their lands with no benefit to themselves. Private mineral rights ownership is the reason some 90 percent of all oil wells drilled have been in the U.S. Scientific advances and innovative engineers keep coming up with ways to both discover new fields and keep old ones in production almost indefinitely.

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Oh, what super news out of Washington

Posted by John Hood at 5:01 PM

Before leaving for its August break, the United States Congress went on another spending spree:

From new entitlements such as a GI bill for military veterans to recent federal commitments to shore up a troubled housing market, Washington is taking on obligations with long-term consequences for taxpayers. At the same time, critics say, lawmakers aren't exercising the oversight needed to keep these commitments manageable.

"In the last three or four months, the momentum has really built up for more spending," says Michael Franc, vice president of government relations for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington. "Congress has moved a whole range of bills that take the problem up another notch."

Here are some of the items.

• A new housing law, signed last week, commits the government to backing some $300 billion in troubled mortgages.

• A higher education bill adds $169 billion over the next five years.

• The GI bill that extends education benefits to veterans or their family members will cost $62 billion over 10 years.

• Congress boosted the statutory debt ceiling by $800 billion to $10.6 trillion. That's $4.8 trillion more than it was at the end of 2001.

As a cost-savings measure, I suggest that we not allow Congress to return to Washington until, say, 2010.

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Bad news for news business

Posted by Becki Gray at 4:50 PM

There is more bad news this afternoon for the newspaper business.  Raleigh News and Observer’s parent company, McClatchy Company announced today that they’ll freeze employees' wages for a year.  Gannett Company, which owns 85 newspapers across the US including the Asheville Citizen-Times, is cutting 1000 jobs according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.  Triangle Business Journal reports that Cox Enterprises, which owns the Atlanta Constitution is hoping to sell its daily newspapers in Greenville, Rocky Mount and Elizabeth City.

 Thank goodness we can still count on Carolina Journal.

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The graying N.C. population

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:28 PM

A new report suggests seniors will make up about 17.5 percent of North Carolina's population by 2030.

Carolina Journal Radio explored this issue in its most recent program, highlighting the bills lawmakers pursued during this year's legislative session to help North Carolina adapt to a graying population. Among the ideas? Urging North Carolinians to take more steps on their own to prepare for their long-term care needs.

Click here to listen to the entire program. 

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Stalled project draws more scrutiny

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:06 PM

Carolina Journal's Don Carrington isn't the only one drawing attention to the problems that have plagued the government-supported N.C. Center for Automotive Research. 

This report details the taxpayer funds already committed to the project. 

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Latest dispatches from the political trail

Posted by John Hood at 12:59 AM

• Beverly Perdue no longer seems to be implacably against deep-sea drilling off the NC coast. Could have something to do with Pat McCrory's new ad on the subject, which began running this week. Both candidates say they opposed to the state community college system allowing illegal aliens to enroll in degree programs.

• Though technically on vacation, Perdue takes a break from her break to campaign in Northeastern NC, emphasizing her personal and legislative experience on such issues as education and health care.

• National media and commentators take note of the Survey USA poll showing Elizabeth Dole with a five-point lead over Kay Hagan. Newsweek picks up on the flap over Hagan's age-themed ad against Dole, while Bob Dole campaigns in Eastern NC, touting his wife's experience and urging GOP candidates to return to their roots.

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More criticism for Edwards

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 12:03 AM

It's not exactly a "man bites dog" story when John Hood criticizes John Edwards. But the John Locke Foundation President never wrote:

Earth to John [Edwards]: The National Enquirer now officially has more credibility than you do.

The author of that line is Democrat Gary Pearce, who called Friday night's ABC confession a "spectacular failure." 

Linkable Entry

Extra security for Democrats, GOP?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:28 AM

The murder of an Arkansas Democratic Party official is prompting both major N.C. parties to consider extra security.

Linkable Entry

More from Michael Barone on the N.C. presidential race

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:12 AM

In an audio interview on the U.S. News Web site, Michael Barone expands on his assessment of North Carolina's electoral competitiveness.  

For Obama, states that are in play are obviously Virginia, where the polling has been showing him running neck and neck with John McCain, and North Carolina. Four years ago, North Carolina — even though Democrats had John Edwards from North Carolina as their vice presidential candidate — was something like a 12-point victory for George W. Bush. It wasn't seriously targeted. Recent polling has been showing Obama within a couple of points of McCain, and the Obama campaign is putting a lot of effort into North Carolina.

Barone also suggests that a stronger effort to increase turnout among black voters could help Obama.

You'll have a chance to hear Barone's opinions in about a month. He'll speak to a John Locke Foundation Headliner audience Sept. 24 in Winston-Salem.

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Enough already!

Posted by Becki Gray at 11:00 AM

I keep looking at the budget passed by the General Assembly and think, $21.3 billion?  For what?  Seems like a lot of money for poor roads, a dangerous mental health system, a failing education system, tons of new debt and more government intervention in my life.  To support this spending, every person in North Carolina has to pay in $2,237.92 for our state government.  For a family of four, that’s almost $9 grand this year.  Well actually that’s an average.   Some of us will be paying a lot more, some will be paying next to nothing.  And of course, this is only for state government.  In addition, we’re also paying for federal, county and city governments.  When is enough, enough? 


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Community college decision on immigrants expected soon

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:45 AM

The Associated Press reminds us that the state community colleges board is discuss the issue of enrollment for illegal immigrants.

Meanwhile, North Carolina's debate over education of illegal immigrants drew national attention this week from U.S. News & World Report.

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Raleigh seeking to bring Affordable Housing more crime, drug- and govt.-dependency to Glenwood South

Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:38 AM

Let's cut to the chase; that's what it would do.

If the City of Raleigh wanted more affordable housing, then city leaders would stop hyper-regulating the housing market and overtaxing the public for projects that have nothing to do with necessary functions of government.

Linkable Entry

Re: City of Raleigh seeking to bring Affordable Housing to Glenwood South

Posted by Jenna Ashley Robinson at 10:01 AM

Despite its being called a "non-profit group," CASA (Community Alternatives for Supportive Abodes) is more like a government entity: CASA obtains funds from federal, state and local sources to develop its projects, including U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the N.C. Housing Finance Agency, N.C. Division of Mental /Developmental Disabilities/Substance Abuse Services, Wake County Housing and Community Revitalization, City of Raleigh, Wake County Human Services, and the NC Office of Economic Opportunity.

Instead of simply purchasing the property, CASA plans to use $1.2m in Raleigh and Wake County money to complete the deal.

Linkable Entry

City of Raleigh seeking to bring Affordable Housing to Glenwood South

Posted by Michael Moore at 09:46 AM

The City of Raleigh and the tax-payer funded group CASA are pushing to take over the George’s Mews Apartments in the Glenwood South area of Raleigh.

Could this be a possible brewing violation of the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution?


Linkable Entry

Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:36 AM

Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Don Carrington's report about potential ethical conflicts involving UNC president Erskine Bowles and the review of N.C. First Lady Mary Easley's 88 percent pay raise.

John Hood's Daily Journal dissects this week's Superior Court ruling that N.C. public schools are owed nearly $750 million in proceeds from fines.

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