The Locker Room

January 15, 2010

Commissioners, courts, or consumers

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 3:43 PM

Coastal communities are having their day in appeals court, trying to overturn higher homeowners insurance premiums for coastal residents. The higher rates were agreed in 2008 by then-Commissioner of Insurance Jim Long and the North Carolina Rate Bureau. It sounds like the judges are sympathetic to the counties (not that they are thinking of their own ability to vacation at the beach).

"Suppose the commissioner gets it wrong?" Judge Linda Stephens wondered.

"I don't know of anywhere else where an order can be issued and there's no right to appeal that," Judge Martha Geer said.

Judge Stephens is right to wonder what happens if the commissioner gets the premium wrong. She should recognize that the risk is two-sided. Counties think the commissioner is wrong and has raised prices too much on their property owners. But the commissioner could just as easily have underestimated the cost of insuring coastal properties, which is why the Beach Plan needed to be rescued with higher premiums this year. The problem is coastal communities are more vulnerable to hurricanes and rates there should be higher than in the mountains - Frances and Ivan notwithstanding - so hurricane coverage at the beach should be more expensive.

Fair insurance premiums should not be decided by lone commissioners or three-judge courts, they should be decided by insurers (with help from their actuarials) and consumers.

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Re: Most influential

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:34 PM


Remember what the "most influential" conservative said in 1994 about the John Locke Foundation?

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Catholics need not apply

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 2:03 PM

Why is Martha Coakley in trouble in Massachusetts? The latest reason is her statement that Catholics should not work in emergency rooms if they have a conscience: "You can have religious freedom but you probably shouldn’t work in the emergency room."

Read and listen to the whole exchange here.

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The Medicaid Opt-Out Option

Posted by Geoffrey Lawrence at 1:56 PM

The health care "reform" bills making their way through Congress would expand the number of people receiving government-funded medical coverage in two major ways. First, they would provide federal subsidies to individuals living at up to 400 percent of the federal poverty line for them to purchase private insurance plans on newly-created "exchanges." Second, there would be a massive expansion of Medicaid eligibility - shifting 15 million more people onto Medicaid, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

This second component will have a major impact on state governments because Medicaid is funded, in part, by the states. In fact, this is the very reason why congressional leaders are using a Medicaid expansion to fulfill their vision of expanding government-funded health care. This strategy allows them to off-load the costs of a federal policy initiative onto hapless state governments. According to the Heritage Foundation, states would face a new $32.2 billion burden by 2019 under the Senate bill and of $60.1 billion in the same time frame under the House bill.

However, if states were to opt out of the Medicaid program entirely, they could realize a combined savings of $652 billion with no change in state spending on long-term care. (For North Carolina alone, it would be $21.2 billion.) Moreover, it's possible that the final version of the health care "reform" bill would have no lower bound for eligibility for the federal subsidies - meaning that individuals currently on Medicaid could simply be shifted into the exchanges with Congress picking up the tab. In fact, under such a scenario, these individuals would likely have greater access to care because Medicaid's low reimbursement rates often results in doctors turning away new Medicaid patients.

I recently proposed the idea of a Medicaid opt-out here in Nevada and the governor's office has picked up on it. He has instructed the state Department of Health and Human Services to examine the feasibility of an opt-out. Legislation on the issue would likely be proposed in an upcoming special legislative session.

If Nevada opts out, I'd expect to see other states follow suit. Uncle Harry won't be pleased.

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Re: Lessons from the Past: North Carolinians Creating Jobs in Difficult Economic Times

Posted by Jeff A. Taylor at 1:51 PM

Please, no more posts about economic history. You are making me hungry.

You know they are making a three-times hotter Texas Pete?

Wonder how it tastes on a donut.....BRB......

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Most influential liberals and conservatives

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 1:25 PM

As a gimmick* to get more visits to their website, the Telegraph ranked the top 100 most influential liberals and top 100 most influential conservatives in the United States.

Top 5 Conservatives

1. Dick Cheney
2. Rush Limbaugh
3. Matt Drudge
4. Sarah Palin
5. Robert Gates

56. Alex Castellanos
(Political media strategist; grew up in North Carolina and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill)

97. Marc Thiessen
(Republican speechwriter and long-time aide to Jesse Helms)

Top 5 Liberals

1. Barack Obama
2. Hillary Clinton
3. Nancy Pelosi
4. Bill Clinton
5. Rahm Emanuel

100. John Edwards

* Telegraph reporters divided the list into five with 20 people in each installment and published it over five successive days. The suspense was killing me.

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New Carolina Journal Online exclusive

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:18 PM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features David Bass' report on a conservative Wake County parents' group's complaint that the public school system released too much information about a private check linked to one of the group's members.

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MD says ObamaCare will mean worse care

Posted by George Leef at 12:06 AM

In this Washington Times piece Dr. Hal Scherz argues that ObamaCare will lead to deteriorating patient care.

He also notes that the bill has been a feeding-frenzy for lobbyists. Remember when Obama promised that he'd pay attention to the people and not to lobbyists?

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Climategate Comes to the US

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 12:03 AM

John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel, did a special report for KUSI TV out of San Diego earlier this week showing how two key US climate data centers, including the center located in Asheville NC, has been manipulating temperature readings and thermometer data to show warming where there may be none. This was part of a one hour program on global warming. Here is the segment where he and his guests explain what's been going on. This is the link to the entire one hour show.

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Lessons from the Past: North Carolinians Creating Jobs in Difficult Economic Times

Posted by Dr. Troy Kickler at 11:36 AM

Even during difficult days of the Depression, innovative North Carolinians started several businesses and created new consumer products and jobs.  Among them were  Texas Pete and Krispy Kreme.  During the decade, Cheerwine was distributed widely and became a household name in the Southeast.  

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Massachusetts Miracle?

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 11:08 AM

This short YouTube video compares the beginning of the American Revolution in Massachusetts with Tuesday's senatorial election Massachusetts to replace Senator Kennedy. This election could be the "shot heard 'round the world" and the first step in defeating the tyrannical government in Washington:

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Ignorant but expensive blather at ECU

Posted by George Leef at 11:08 AM

In this piece the Pope Center has released today, Professor Anthony Papalas of East Carolina comments on the lecture given last November at the school by Gloria Steinem. She got ten grand; the audience got a lot of preposterous baloney about how what she calls capitalism is responsible for the world's woes and especially the oppression of women.

If ECU had brought in a speaker to talk about astrology that would have been just as academically indefensible, but it would have done less harm. Propagating false ideas about make-believe is merely a waste of time; propagating false ideas about the real world is the exact opposite of what a university should be doing.

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New Carolina Journal Online exclusive

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:03 AM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Sara Burrows' update on efforts to track federal stimulus dollars that appeared to head to phantom ZIP codes.

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Paul Chesser on Stossel's "crony capitalism" program

Posted by George Leef at 10:53 AM

A tip of the hat to Paul Chesser for this post highlighting a good example of crony capitalism.

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Head Start: Not effective

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 10:50 AM

University of Arkansas professor Jay Greene explains the results of a rigorous study of Head Start:

As I described last week, the Department of Health and Human Services has been sitting on an evaluation of the Head Start government run pre-school program. Well, today the study was released (and it’s not even a Friday!).

As the leaks suggested, the study found virtually no lasting effects to participation in Head Start. The study used a gold-standard, random assignment design and had a very large nationally representative sample. This was a well done study (even if it mysteriously took more than 3 years after data collection was complete to release the results).

For students who were randomly assigned to Head Start or not at the age of 4, the researchers collected 19 measures of cognitive impacts at the end of kindergarten and 22 measures when those students finished 1st grade. Of those 41 measures only 1 was significant and positive. The remaining 40 showed no statistically significant difference. The one significant effect was for receptive vocabulary, which showed no significant advantage for Head Start students after kindergarten but somehow re-emerged at the end of 1st grade.


The long and short of it is that the government has a giant and enormously expensive pre-school program that has made basically no difference for the students who participate in it. And folks are proposing that we expand government pre-school to include all students. Those same folks have some bridges they’d like to sell.

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Take THAT, Martha Coakley!

Posted by George Leef at 09:26 AM

In one of the greatest in-your-face slam dunks of all time, Dorothy Rabinowitz lays bare the ugly history of Massachusetts candidate Martha Coakley. Read all about it here.

Rabinowitz won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on the astounding Fells Acres Day Care case where prosecutors eager to make names for themselves relentlessly pushed a case alleging child abuse. Eventually, appellate court judges in Massachusetts would ream out the prosecution and several of the defendants were released -- but not Gerald Amirault. Evidently, keeping some member of the family behind bars was important to the prosecutors who wanted to save face and continue to look tough. So Martha Coakley went ballistic to keep him from being released from prison after the parole board had voted 5-0 to release him.

What kind of person does that?

Someone so intent on keeping up her public image that justice for an individual does not matter.

Hmmmmmm..... You might be a progressive if you declare your commitment to "social justice" but couldn't care less if you let an innocent person rot in jail.

Coakley is a great role model, though. FDR kept the Japanese-Americans in prison camps long after it was evident that they posed no threat to national security. (Actually, they never did.)

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Kissell and Health Care

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 08:44 AM

From Kimberly Strassel's latest column in the Wall Street Journal:

They hadn't caught a new poll that is all the congressional gossip right now, showing that North Carolina freshman Democrat Larry Kissell remains relatively popular in his conservative district and easily leads potential Republican opponents. Mr. Kissell was a no vote on health care. What makes the poll particularly relevant is data that shows that among the 44% of voters who incorrectly believe Mr. Kissell voted for the bill, the matchups are tied. Among the 29% who correctly understand he voted against the legislation, Mr. Kissell wins huge. [emphasis added]

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OPM and the "public option"

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 08:19 AM

A little discussed aspect of the health care bills being debated in Congress is the new role for the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM).  In brief, OPM would create a public option by expanding the current health care program that it administers for all federal employees.  

 The Heritage Foundation is sponsoring presentations by two former OPM Directors including my old boss Don Devine who headed OPM in the Reagan administration (1981-1985).  See the details here.

No longer an umpire in the annual competition among private health plans vying for federal workers’ business, OPM would become the official sponsor of at least two national health plans that would compete against private health plans in every state in the union. What impact would OPM have on the nation’s health insurance markets? How much authority would OPM have? What special regulatory powers would OPM exercise as the sponsor of the federal government’s select insurance plans?

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This weekend on Carolina Journal Radio

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:09 AM

Now that the U.S. House and Senate have approved competing versions of ObamaCare, what happens next? What is the final deal likely to mean for taxpayers, patients, and the uninsured? John Hood addresses those questions in the next edition of Carolina Journal Radio.

Meanwhile, Michael Sanera will join us to explain how governments misuse the concept of “blight” to seize property through eminent domain. Terry Stoops will tackle misconceptions about the value of nationally board-certified teachers in North Carolina classrooms.

Wake Forest University political scientist John Dinan will discuss the importance of state constitutions. Plus Alan Gura, lead counsel in a landmark federal gun-rights case, will offer his thoughts about a North Carolina Supreme Court ruling addressing gun rights for nonviolent ex-felons.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:00 AM

This week's Carolina Journal Online Friday interview features Donna Martinez's conversation with Daren Bakst about controversy surrounding proposed wind power projects.

Troy Kickler's guest Daily Journal focuses on the way historians have reacted to the story of a 19th-century North Carolina Muslim slave.

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