June 18, 2009
So where's the emergency?
Posted by Rick Henderson at 4:58 PM
You probably noticed the breathless recent news stories (like this one from the AP) about the Obama administration's latest report on climate change and wondered what has changed, especially since, as AP reporter Seth Borenstein noted that "The document ... contains no new research, but it paints a
fuller and darker picture of global warming in the United States than
What's new is that the environmental community needs to scare lawmakers and the public as much as possible in hopes that they can shove the Waxman-Markey cap-and-tax bill through Congress before the opposition gets organized.
Say you're really convinced that the United States needs to do something now to curb greenhouse gases. Well, based on this post from Jim Manzi in The Corner (read the post and follow the links), you should consider Waxman-Markey a disaster.
As Manzi says,
The legislative strategy appears to be to cut whatever side deals are necessary to get the swing Democrats to support it. This mostly has meant giving away special allowances and spending programs to pretty much every industry or region that actually produces greenhouses gasses at sufficient scale to play the lobbying game.
There does not seem to be any line in the sand that they will not cross. At this point, the side deals seem to have consumed the cap. That is, when you look under the hood, there is not really a material binding cap in this bill for at least a decade. In fact, the bill would allow industries to increase greenhouse gas emissions until 2020 or later without penalty.
Moreover, the really scary White House report appears to rely on science about as sound as voodoo, according to Roger Pielke Jr., an environmental science professor at the University of Colorado.
[Why] is a report characterized by [White House] Science Advisor John Holdren as being the “most up-to-date, authoritative, and comprehensive” analysis relying on a secondary, non-peer source citing another non-peer reviewed source from 2000 to support a claim that a large amount of uncited and more recent peer-reviewed literature says the opposite about?
(Hat tip: the NYT's John Tierney.)
The goal appears to be to get some mechanism in place to some day tax the you-know-what out of energy-intensive industries even it does nothing to deal with the "imminent crisis" the Al Gore crowd won''t shut up about.
A story of Iranian government tyranny
Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 4:50 PM
A Canadian journalist tells how he was mistaken for a protester and dragged off by Iranian government thugs:
I was walking by a checkpoint and an officer grabbed me and forced
me onto a motorcycle. As soon as we stopped, I was grabbed from the
bike by another officer and slapped across the head. Seven officers ran
up to join in the slapping, and one punched me in the head. A large
officer, about 6 foot 4 and dressed in camouflage, grabbed me by the
neck, pinching my jugular but not my windpipe. His leather gloves cut
through my skin and I was pinned against a van, my arm bent high behind
I was then thrown onto a second motorcycle with one police officer
in front of me and another behind, slapping me more and cursing during
the quick ride around the corner.
For more go here.
Americans for Tax Reform Overview
Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 4:12 PM
AFT has put out a quick overview of the Obama Presidency so far. They call it Obama's First 150 Days: By the Numbers. It's a good thumbnail sketch of the damage.
Re: College Graduation Rates
Posted by Daren Bakst at 2:32 PM
Michael, you make a very good point about transfers.
It is very difficult to come up with data on the students that transfer and then graduate at another institution.
This transfer data is not part of the completion (graduation) rate because, in part, of the difficulties in securing an accurate number on transfers. The other question is whether an institution should be able to consider a student that doesn't graduate from its institution (but graduates somewhere else) as a graduate for graduation rate purposes? I don't think so--it would be misleading.
One of the chilling things that some states are doing is tracking students within their own state, and now states are trying to create multistate data networks to track students. The idea is to have this data to identify whether students eventually graduate. However, these data systems are used to track a lot more about students than just graduation rates.
Another point that isn't captured by a graduation rate number is why students don't graduate. There is an assumption (I think) that students don't graduate within six years because of academic reasons (or due to some failure on the part of institutions). There are many other reasons why students don't graduate within the six-year period, including financial reasons.
These other reasons don't make a difference in determining whether tax dollars to subsidize financial aid are worth the investment, however these other reasons do matter when evaluating the effectiveness of postsecondary institutions. I also strongly caution anyone against trying to make apples to apples comparisons across institutions. Institutions have a wide variety of missions and cater to different populations.
The Sotomayor nomination
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:03 PM
This forum has had no shortage of commentary about the nomination of federal Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.
N.C. State political science Professor Andy Taylor offered his thoughts today during a joint Federalist Society/John Locke Foundation luncheon. Click play below for a snippet of Taylor's presentation dealing with the high court's reaction to her appellate rulings.
2:35 p.m. update: Watch the full 55:44 recording by clicking the play button below.
You'll find other John Locke Foundation video presentations here.
re: College graduation rates
Posted by Michael Lowrey at 1:08 PM
Careful John. It’s useful data to be sure but there’s a big elephant in the room with this data set: transfer students.
As the report’s notes point out:
Unfortunately, given the way IPEDS collects the completion data, students who transfer out of their starting institution are counted as not receiving a degree in six years even if they receive a degree from the second (or subsequent) institution in six years. The graduation rate reported here is therefore the “institutional” graduation rate rather than the “total” graduation rate. The 1996/2001 Beginning Postsecondary Student Study, conducted by the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics, shows that many students switch institutions and then graduate, often taking longer than the six year cutoff. This survey
suggests that the “individual graduation rate” is about 8 percent higher than the average institutional graduation rate.
Oh, and of course, the transfer rate can vary by school.
BB&T investors lose $93 million to feds
Posted by Paul Chesser at 12:12 AM
Among the banks returning TARP funds to the federal government
this week was
BB&T, which considering the libertarian convictions of
recently departed president John Allison, surprisingly accepted bailout money even though
BB&T did not need it. In a December interview with The Charlotte Observer Allison explained why he took the funds:
ALLISON: We took it for two reasons. One, there was a lot
of regulatory pressure on the large banks to take TARP
(Troubled Assets Relief Program). They very strongly -- very
strongly -- encouraged banks our size to participate. And, if
you allowed your competitors to get it and you didn't, it would
hurt you relative to your competitors, so you had an obligation
to your shareholders to take it. ... It would be like the
original [economic stimulus] program, where they gave everybody
up to, I think, $600. Well, you could have been opposed to
that, but if they were giving everybody else $600, why wouldn't
you take yours?
However, we still would have rather there not been a
program. The net effect has been negative to us. A lot of banks
have been helped that otherwise we would have been able to
acquire. [The government was] supposed to give the money to
very healthy banks, but they're also giving it to banks that
are very marginal.
OBSERVER: What are you using your TARP money for?
ALLISON: Just for general purposes. We're still growing our
lending business, [but] we already had enough capital. The
other thing is, the Treasury is encouraging banks to acquire
marginally healthy banks, and TARP money could be used for that
purpose. [But] we already had enough money to do
Now upon repayment, it appears BB&T regrets it accepted TARP
Seven months after it accepted $3.1 billion from the
federal government, BB&T Corp. - a longtime opponent of big
government - repaid the money with interest Wednesday....
BB&T said it accepted TARP loans despite the bank's
philosophy because regulators strongly urged it to. The bank
said Wednesday that it had paid $93 million in interest on the
government loan and indicated that it wasn't happy about the
expense or the distraction.
"This was, in fact, an excellent investment for the
American taxpayer," chief executive Kelly King said in a
statement - subtly refuting critics who called the TARP loans a
Does the RICO Act apply to the federal government?
Cross-posted at American Spectator.
On average, about half of NC college students graduate
Posted by John Hood at 11:23 AM
The American Enterprise Institute has just published a new study that examines graduation rates in American higher education. The upshot:
At a time when college degrees are valuable--with employers paying a
premium for college graduates--fewer than 60 percent of new students
graduated from four-year colleges within six years. At many
institutions, graduation rates are far worse. Graduation rates may be
of limited import to students attending the couple hundred elite,
specialized institutions that dominate the popular imagination, but
there are vast disparities--even among schools educating similar students--at
the less selective institutions that educate the bulk of America's
college students. At a time when President Barack Obama is proposing
vast new investments to promote college attendance and completion, and
has announced an intention to see the United States regain leadership
in such tallies, these results take on heightened significance.
Duke University shows up as having one of the highest graduation rates (94 percent) among the nation’s most competitive universities. Here are the other North Carolina findings:
93 percent-Davidson College
89 percent-Wake Forest University
83 percent-UNC-Chapel Hill
73 percent-Elon University
69 percent-NC State University
63 percent-Appalachian State
62 percent-Meredith College
61 percent-Queens University
58 percent-Guilford College
57 percent-Gardner-Webb University
56 percent-High Point University
54 percent-East Carolina University
53 percent-Lenoir-Rhyne College
53 percent-Pfeiffer University
52 percent-Campbell University
52 percent-Salem College
51 percent-State Average
51 percent-Elizabeth City State University
49 percent-Belmont Abbey College
48 percent-NC Central University
48 percent-Western Carolina University
47 percent-Wingate University
45 percent-Warren Wilson College
45 percent-Winston-Salem State University
43 percent-St. Andrew’s Presbyterian College
42 percent-Catawba College
42 percent-Johnson C. Smith University
41 percent-Greensboro College
41 percent-NC A&T State University
40 percent-Methodist University
38 percent-Mars Hill College
38 percent-Barton College
36 percent-Fayetteville State University
36 percent-Shaw University
35 percent-Bennett College
32 percent-Livingtone College
31 percent-Lees-McRae College
31 percent-Saint Augustine's College
31 percent-Montreat College
30 percent-Mount Olive College
28 percent-North Carolina Wesleyan College
Forced Annexation debate begins in the House J2 Committee
Posted by Becki Gray at 11:14 AM
As the meeting continues, staff explains the new bill, incorporating
provisions from House Bills 524, 645, 727. First impression - the new
bill combines the worst of the proposals and does nothing to ensure
property rights for citizens being annexed against their will.
Rep Earl Jones (D Guilford) expresses concerns about the annexation of
dough nut holes (cities exclude low income pockets in an annexed area
because there is low revenue but high cost to provide services). Under
the new bill, if 75 percent of the property owners in a low income area
the city is required to annex. If 75 of residents want to be annexed,
the city can but doesn't have to.
Rep Folwell (R Forsyth) asks about oversight - it is provided by LGC
not county commission. He argues that oversight needs to be by a body
that is accountable to voters - a county commission is a better choice.
Anything in the bill that would make people being annexed who do not
want water and sewer pay for it anyway? Yes.
Rep Pat Hurley (R Randolph) expresses concerns as well about Local
Government Councils (LGC) oversight as they are not elected and seem to
have an interest in cities expanding their revenue in conflict with
Rep Hugh Blackwell (R Burke) has concerns about abated taxes when
services are not provided. Would they be prorated until services are
provided? Summary of the annexation process and remedies are required
per the bill. What are the remedies? Appeal to LGC then file in court.
Plan for the rest of the day:
Session at 1:00, will meet again 10 minutes after session, he will
keep the meeting to 2 hours. Speakers will have 3 minutes only. He will
hear amendments that have been submitted prior to session. Vote on PCS
will be this afternoon.
Re: Annexation Reform Debate
Posted by Daren Bakst at 11:09 AM
The current "combo" bill being considered ignores the provisions of HB 645 (the only bill that addresses anything substantive).
The J-2 Committee was barraged by the grassroots to fix the original proposed committee substitute bill (PCS) that was a combination of the League's bill and an equally bad bill, HB 524. The PCS took the worst parts of those bills and then added even worse provisions.
On Monday, despite the intent to push through this PCS bill, the J-2 Committee switched gears and seemed to be concerned about real annexation reform. There was hope that the J-2 committee might actually fix the "combo" bill to include real reforms.
Instead, the current "combo bill (the new PCS) is even worse than the original PCS bill that already was a disaster.
The question now is whether amendments will be considered in the committee later today, and whether any of them will pass. If not, I believe (not sure though) that the grassroots will strongly oppose passage of the bill out of J-2.
Here's the lowlights of the new PCS:
- Allows municipalities to provide services to areas that don't need services
- Expressly allows (for the first time ever) municipalities to duplicate existing services. Example: A city could contract with the county to provide one extra sheriff to an area that has excellent police service and the city could then say: "We provided police protection."
- Municipalities could annex even if they couldn't provide police protection, fire protection, AND water and sewer.
- Directs the LGC to provide meaningless oversight. The LGC isn't exactly a neutral-body: there are five appointed members to the LGC--four have direct ties to municipalities.
- The LGC isn't particularly adept at overseeing anything beyond limited debt issues (See the Randy Parton Theater for its ineptness when it tries to do anything more)
- Ignores the call for counties, which can at least provide a representative voice, to provide the oversight.
- The PCS continues to force property owners to pay for the costs of getting the water and sewer lines to their properties--the same water and sewer services they didn't want or need in the first place. These costs can easily exceed over $10,000.
- There's no vote.
The J-2 Committee has a chance today to fix these problems. Some members on the committee need to start showing some leadership.
Annexation Reform debate continues today
Posted by Becki Gray at 10:21 AM
House Judiciary 2 Committee chair, Rep Rick Glazier (D Cumberland) answers a question from Rep Dale Folwell (R Forsyth) on the plans for annexation reform today. The committee substitute bill that combines provisions of the three annexation bills will be voted on this afternoon. It has to get through the House Finance Committee, then the House floor. The bill would then go over to the Senate, through their committees and floor vote. Possibly come back to House for concurrence on any changes. Glazier indicates the session will be wrapping up in 3 to 4 weeks. If anything is going to be done this session, it has to be done now.
About that "45 million Americans lack health insurance" claim
Posted by George Leef at 09:51 AM
That is one of the selling points Obama and his socialist allies are using in their effort to yoke Americans to his plan. In this column, Larry Elder takes a close look at that figure and shows it to be thoroughly misleading.
More "first seen in CJ" moments
Posted by Rick Henderson at 09:25 AM
The front page of today's N&O reports on the N.C. Revenue Department targeting large families to verify the exemptions they claimed on income-tax returns.
Regular readers know that this story was first reported by Carolina Journal Associate Editor David Bass in an exclusive pubilshed May 14.
Read the exclusive here.
The "Under the Dome" post about former Gov. Mike Easley's marina deal that Mitch Kokai highlighted yesterday also made the N&O's front page today.
Speaking of the governor's pursuit of higher taxes ...
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:04 AM
WTVD sought the John Locke Foundation’s comments last night on the advisability of $1.5 billion in additional tax hikes. We’re supporting instead a no-new-taxes alternative Can-Do Budget.
Today's Carolina Journal Online features
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:55 AM
Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Jeff Taylor's report on the strange math associated with former N.C. House Speaker Jim Black's payment of a $500,000 fine.
John Hood's Daily Journal examines the politics associated with Gov. Beverly Perdue's call for up to $1.5 billion in new taxes next year.
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