The Locker Room

September 14, 2010

Full contact politics

Posted by David N. Bass at 3:33 PM

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White House balking at ObamaCare's 1099 mandate

Posted by Rick Henderson at 2:00 PM

For months now, conservatives and other critics of the White House's health care reform have pointed to a provision in the law requiring businesses to report to the IRS purchases from every vendor totaling $600 or more per year.

Karen McMahan reported on this for Carolina Journal in July.

The new law has been described in some quarters as the “Staples tax,” as it will force millions of companies to begin filing 1099 forms to every business selling them office supplies, snack foods, and cleaning products.

The Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based public policy research organization, says the new regulations will affect 40 million businesses, of which 26 million are sole proprietorships. Small businesses face the biggest threat because they lack the resources to track and manage this type of reporting.

It seems the Obama administration has gotten the memo. HHS Secretary Kathleen ("don't tell the truth about Obamacare") Sebelius and Treasury Secretary Timothy ("only the little people pay taxes") Geithner have written the Senate, urging it to amend the bill, boosting the reporting threshold from $600 to $5,000. Republicans are pushing repeal of that provision entirely. (At first. Repeal of the entire mess remains high on the GOP's agenda.)

Ed Morrissey at nails it:

Had this bill been processed normally through committees and debated honestly, this flaw would have gotten immediate attention. Instead, the ObamaCare bill got written in back rooms, rushed to the floor of both chambers, instead of developed in the normal process. The excuse was that it was too important to get vetted, and too time-critical to delay it or pass it in components. Well, this is what happens when Congressional leadership says that they have to pass a bill to find out what’s in it, and when they drop 2,800 pages of legislative text on members just 48 hours before floor votes.

UPDATE (2:08 p.m.): The Washington Examiner reports each party defeated the other's proposed fix in the Senate. Dems led a 46-52 vote against full repeal; then an attempt to increase the threshold to $5,000 and exempt companies with fewer than 25 employees went down 37-61.

It's gonna be a nasty fall.

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Census Bureau: Poverty rate will "increase" about 15 percent

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 12:32 AM

Dan Mitchell discusses the latest "increase" in the poverty rate here. As the graph illustrates, it all depends on the start date. 

But the real story should be the degree to which the federal government’s War on Poverty has been a complete failure. Taxpayers have poured trillions of dollars into means-tested programs, yet the data show no positive results. Indeed, it’s quite likely that the programs have backfired. As shown in the chart, Census Bureau data reveal that the poverty rate was steadily falling in the 1950s and early 1960s, but then stagnated once the War on Poverty began. It’s possible that there are alternative and/or additional explanations for this shocking development, but government intervention may be encouraging poverty by making indolence more attractive than work.



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Steep Slope Land Regulations Moving Again

Posted by Becki Gray at 11:40 AM

The Buncombe County Planning Board has submitted recommendations to the county commissioners that would impose zoning rules limiting the height of buildings, regulating plantings that might obscure views and mandating low-density development along ridge lines and slopes in Buncombe County. The rules would apply to over a quarter of the land in Buncombe County.

And why? Largely to protect the view. That’s right, government regulating what you can do on your land because someone else has decided their right to a nice view is more important than your property rights. 

Statewide regulations of land development of use on slopes have been debated in the General Assembly beginning in 2007 ,the debate continued in 2008 thru legislation proposed in 2009 and study committee recommendations, both of which died in committee.    

However a Mountain Resource Commission was created and is meeting to consider such things as planned growth in the mountain region. Their next meeting is Sept. 17 in Madison County.  Slope reports and landslide hazard mapping are on the agenda.

  Stricter land use regulations in Buncombe County are just another step towards more government regulation of private property across the state.   We’ve seen abuses of eminent domain and forced annexation.  Steep slope regulations are next.    


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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:16 AM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features David Bass' latest report on unusual travel charges associated with UNC-Chapel Hill's controversial Citizen-Soldier Support Program.

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Sowell discusses 'social justice'

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:41 AM

Combining elements of two earlier posts this morning — Thomas Sowell and social justice — Thomas Sowell's latest column posted at Human Events focuses on "social justice."

Warm, fuzzy words and phrases have an enormous advantage in politics. None has had such a long run of political success as "social justice."

The idea cannot be refuted because it has no specific meaning. Fighting it would be like trying to punch the fog. No wonder "social justice" has been such a political success for more than a century-- and counting.

While the term has no defined meaning, it has emotionally powerful connotations. There is a strong sense that it is simply not right-- that it is unjust-- that some people are so much better off than others.

Justification, even as the term is used in printing and carpentry, means aligning one thing with another. But what is the standard to which we think incomes or other benefits should be aligned?

Is the person who has spent years in school goofing off, acting up or fighting-- squandering the tens of thousands of dollars that the taxpayers have spent on his education-- supposed to end up with his income aligned with that of the person who spent those same years studying to acquire knowledge and skills that would later be valuable to himself and to society at large?

Some advocates of "social justice" would argue that what is fundamentally unjust is that one person is born into circumstances that make that person's chances in life radically different from the chances that others have-- through no fault of one and through no merit of the others.

Maybe the person who wasted educational opportunities and developed self-destructive behavior would have turned out differently if born into a different home or a different community.

That would of course be more just. But now we are no longer talking about "social" justice, unless we believe that it is all society's fault that different families and communities have different values and priorities-- and that society can "solve" that "problem."

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Higher ed's "precarious hold on consumer confidence"

Posted by George Leef at 09:44 AM

National Association of Scholars president Peter Wood has written an excellent, synoptic essay on the prospect of a higher education "bubble" and I commend it to all Locker Room readers.

Peter covers the arguments raised by the establishment against the idea that higher ed has been oversold -- that its enormous costs are warranted, that getting a college degree is still a good investment, that the nation needs to increase the number of people getting college degrees to keep up internationally, and that the system will easily adjust to the changed circumstances in which if now finds itself -- and gives solid refutations to each. I wonder if any of the people who keep advancing the notion that the nation should "invest" more resources in higher education will take the essay seriously. Overwhelmingly, they have either ignored or misrepresented the case against them in the past.

As the National Association of Scholars, has amply documented, one of the great new fads on college campuses is "sustainability." The trouble is that no one is asking about the sustainability of higher education if it stays on its current course of rising cost but declining educational value.

But if all he says is true, why is it the case that college enrollments remain high? The answer Peter gives is this: custom. Over the decades, it has become a custom for most parents to put their children into college if at all possible. The higher ed system is coasting along on that custom, but it can't last forever.

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Latest dispatches from the campaign trail

Posted by David N. Bass at 09:18 AM

  • U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-1st, defends his taxpayer-funded per diem spending on foreign travel.

  • Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee plans to spend $1 million defending U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell, D-8th.

  • The New York Times' FiveThirtyEight blog gives the GOP a two-in-three chance of taking over the U.S. House this November.

  • Barry Smith: GOP expects its own change this year.

  • House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman, D-Davidson, blasts the statewide advocacy group Real Jobs NC.

  • Some GOP’ers organize “Republicans for Mike” group to support McIntyre in the 7th Congressional District.

  • U.S. Sen. Richard Burr is hitting the airwaves and beginning to move his numbers in a more favorable direction.

  • Democratic-aligned polling firm finds that Democrats are anything but energized in 2010.

  • Libertarian candidate disappointed that he won’t be in the debate line-up alongside Burr and Elaine Marshall.

  • N.C. GOP steels itself for Steele.

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Lady Gaga or Barack Obama

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 08:00 AM

Does this line from a new biography describe the pop queen or the president?

___'s posited ___self as none of ___ peers have: a blank slate, a creature of self-invention, an object of emotional projection and wish-fulfillment.

Answer: Lady Gaga

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A good take on ‘social justice’

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:08 AM

In the latest dead-tree version of National Review, Loyola (Maryland) political science professor Diana Schaub reviews Kenneth Minogue’s book, The Servile Mind.

Among Schaub’s most interesting observations is her take on Minogue’s dissection of a particularly overused — and misused — word:

Minogue points also to the ubiquity of the adjective “social,” as in “social justice,” “social capital,’ and “social responsibility.” In the case of “social justice,” the qualifier upends justice, reversing its meaning. Justice involves respect for legal ownership (your right to the bread you earn by the sweat of your brow). Social justice, however, is radically redistributive; it operates by the formula “You work, I’ll eat” — a formula that Abraham Lincoln decried as the epitome of despotism, whether practiced by masters who live off the unrequited labor of slaves or by the many poor who expropriate the few rich through confiscatory taxation.

Regular readers in this forum know Minogue isn’t the only person who’s highlighted the problems associated with the notion of “social justice.”

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Sowell reflects on the Duke lacrosse case

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:07 AM

The last thematic section of Thomas Sowell’s Dismantling America focuses on “legal issues,” and he includes four of his columns on the famous Duke lacrosse case.

In a new preface, Sowell explains why he devoted so much attention to the issue:

This extensive coverage was because that case revealed a moral dry rot that extended far beyond the legal system and included both the media and academia as major contributors to a frenzied lynch mob atmosphere, in which anyone who dared to doubt the guilt of the three accused young men was treated as a moral leper. Yet the strange procedures of the prosecutor from the outset gave ample evidence of the fraudulence of the case, as I pointed out in my first column on this case, a year before the multiple layers of fraudulence were exposed by the state attorney general, forcing the resignation of District Attorney Michael Nifong and his subsequent disbarment.

This is not just the story of one man’s misuse of the law. It is a story of whole institutions and movements that generated a lynch mob atmosphere which threatened the integrity of the law itself, in addition to threatening to ruin the lives of three young men, who could not be guilty of a crime that had not been committed. Among the most disturbing e-mails I received during the year that I wrote about the Duke “rape” case were e-mails that asked why I was so concerned about “three rich white guys.” That attitude is more of a threat to the integrity of the law than even a corrupt prosecutor. Indeed, it is a threat to a whole society, for a society cannot remain a society if it degenerates into a war of each against all.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:56 AM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Rick Henderson's report about an ethical dilemma linked to UNC Public Television's coverage of the state's property-rights fight with Alcoa. 

John Hood's Daily Journal urges you to join the club — literally — to help Carolina Journal keep up its good work.

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