The Locker Room

May 19, 2009

Whoa ...

Posted by Rick Henderson at 5:32 PM

Chancellor, provost summoned by feds

The N&O has it here.

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Sad irony at Notre Dame

Posted by David N. Bass at 4:49 PM

Crying Baby Interrupted Obama as He Justified His Abortion Position at Notre Dame

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Edwards and Easley

Posted by David N. Bass at 4:30 PM

My thoughts on the Tar Heel Boys.

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Obama's blood for MPG tradeoff

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 3:08 PM

In order to increase Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFE) to 35 mpg people will have to drive cars that are lighter and smaller--in other words, cars that are more dangerous and more deadly. Last year I recounted some of the findings related to this issue here on the Locker Room, but they clearly need to be repeated.

*     According to a 2003 NHTSA study, when a vehicle is reduced by 100 pounds the estimated fatality rate increases as much as 5.63 percent for light cars weighing less than 2,950 pounds, 4.70 percent for heavier cars weighing over 2,950 pounds and 3.06 percent for light trucks.  Between model years 1996 and 1999, these rates translated into additional traffic fatalities of 13,608 for light cars, 10,884 for heavier cars and 14,705 for light trucks.

*     A 2001 National Academy of Sciences panel found that constraining automobile manufacturers to produce smaller, lighter vehicles in the 1970s and early 1980s "probably resulted in an additional 1,300 to 2,600 traffic fatalities in 1993."
 
*     A 1989 Harvard-Brookings study estimated CAFE "to be responsible for 2,200-3,900 excess occupant fatalities over ten years of a given [car] model years' use."  Moreover, the researchers estimated between 11,000 and 19,500 occupants would suffer serious but nonfatal crash injuries as a result of CAFE.

*     The same Harvard-Brookings study found CAFE had resulted in a 500-pound weight reduction of the average car.  As a result, occupants were put at a 14 to 27 percent greater risk of traffic death.

*     Passengers in small cars die at a much higher rate when involved in traffic accidents with large cars.  Traffic safety expert Dr. Leonard Evans estimates that drivers in lighter cars may be 12 times as likely to be killed in a crash when the other vehicle is twice as heavy as the lighter car.    

Is there any doubt that the blood for gas mileage president will continue to transport himself and his family in large cars that get less than 35 mpg?

 

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Jackson County Greenway

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 1:02 PM

Jackson County's Greenway Committee has completed a Master Plan for greenways in the county.  The next step is implementation.   According to this press account, committee members are concerned about obtaining permission to use private land. "Of course, we would  rather have a voluntary agreement to cross a property." says the county's project manager Emily Elders.

The terminology is important. The greenway does not "cross a property," the greenway takes a 30 to 50 foot wide linear section of private property and moves it from the control and use of the landowner and gives it to government. Normally, government would use eminent domain to obtain this property and would have to pay the property owner "just compensation" as required by the Fifth Amendment.

But why use eminent domain and pay just compensation, when government has other tricks it can use.  The Greenway Committee is looking at the Tuckaseigee Water and Sewer Authority’s sewer easements.  If they can slap a greenway easement on top of the existing sewer easement, the greenway can built on private land without asking the landowner's permission or using eminent domain.

As with so many other well-meaning projects supported by activists at the local level, the end justifies the means.  If you can create a vocal minority that is able to convince a majority of the commission, you can disregard fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution, in this case the Fifth Amendment.

James Madison warned about the “tyranny of the majority” in Federalist #10.  When a government fails to provide constitutional protections for individuals and a common passion is felt by a majority, "there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual.” Such governments “have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

If the committee members, county staff and commissioners have not read Federalist #10, they should.

By the way, JLF research shows that people don't like being forced to have a greenway on or next to their property.

Raleigh’s Neuse River Greenway: Nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live next to it

 

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Oh, about that padded expense account

Posted by David N. Bass at 12:27 AM

From The New York Times:

After days of mounting pressure over Britain’s parliamentary expenses scandal, Michael Martin, the speaker of the House of Commons, announced Tuesday that he would step down — the first holder of the prestigious position to be ousted in more than 300 years.

“In order that unity can be maintained, I have decided that I will relinquish the office of speaker on Sunday, June 21,” he said. A successor would be appointed the next day. He gave no further details of his decision and went on to conduct normal parliamentary business.

...

In over a week of front-page disclosures, The Telegraph has cited official records of four years of expense claims to report that members of Parliament have charged — and been routinely reimbursed — for items like hedge-trimming, moat-clearing and tennis court repairs.

According to the newspaper’s account, legislators have put manure, massage chairs and pornographic videos on their expense accounts. They have charged for flat-screen televisions and bathrobes, and for workers to change their light bulbs and show them how to operate their washing machines. They have used their expense accounts to pay off their mortgages and to renovate houses that they then sold at huge profits. Some billed for mortgage repayments on home loans that had already been paid off.

Forget about Wall Street ... public service seems to be the ticket to easy street.

It's easy to pile on over the demise of the traditional newspaper, but how would scandals such as this come to light without the presence of a strong, free press? Rick Henderson has some good thoughts on the challenges and opportunities of media here.

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On the other hand ...

Posted by Rick Henderson at 12:15 AM

Also from the Bloomberg story on the Senate plan I cited below (my emphasis):

Other possible tax increases include an extension of the Medicare payroll tax to all state and local government employees, and new limits on -- or outright repeal of -- the flexible spending accounts that allow individuals and their employers to set aside tax-free income to pay for some out-of- pocket medical expenses.

 Offer one consumer-friendly reform while taking away another. As they say about laws and sausage ...

 

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"That was then, this is now"

Posted by Rick Henderson at 12:04 AM

One piece of the health-care reform package taking form in the U.S. Senate is a plan to end some of the favorable tax treatment for employer-provided health insurance, perhaps by subjecting benefits above some threshold to the federal income tax.

For a couple of decades, the free-market community has called for easing or eliminating this distortion in tax policy, which shields consumers from the true cost of health care and discourages patients from shopping around for less-expensive treatments.

It was also a centerpiece of Sen. John McCain's health-care reforms, for which he was demonized by the Obama campaign and other Democrats:

Said candidate Obama in September 2008:

I can make a firm pledge: under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 will see their taxes increase – not your income taxes, not your payroll taxes, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes. My opponent can't make that pledge, and here's why: for the first time in American history, he wants to tax your health benefits Apparently, Senator McCain doesn't think it's enough that your health premiums have doubled, he thinks you should have to pay taxes on them too. That's a $3.6 trillion tax increase on middle class families. That will eventually leave tens of millions of you paying higher taxes. That's his idea of change.
Good to see the president (or at least key Democrats in Congress) may be open to this sensible idea now that he's in office. 

In March, Dr. C.L. Gray, founder of Physicians for Reform, outlined this and other consumer-friendly changes for health-care policy in this CJTV video: 

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Majority disapprove of Perdue's performance

Posted by David N. Bass at 11:04 AM

As reported by the Asheville Citizen-Times, Public Policy Polling finds (PDF download) that a majority of North Carolinians now disapprove of Gov. Bev Perdue's performance in office:

For the first time in Bev Perdue’s tenure as Governor, the number of North Carolina voters who disapprove of the job that she is doing outweighs those who approve, Public Policy Polling finds.

51% of those polled said that they disapprove of Gov. Perdue’s job performance, while only 34% approve.

One of the main reasons for such a drop in her approval rating has been her initiative to help balance the budget through pay cuts to teachers and public employees. 53% of those polled said that they do not support this measure, whereas only 36% said they do.

Meanwhile, Obama enjoyed an average 63 percent approval rating during his first quarter in office, according to Gallup. His ratings spiked at 69 percent shortly after he was sworn in and bottomed out at 59 percent in February.

It's hard to believe, but Bush enjoyed a 90 percent approval rating in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. His rating was just 22 percent when he left office.

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No tax hike for Newton Grove, but hike in town’s fees likely

Posted by Michael Moore at 10:50 AM

No new taxes but if you use the town services your fees are likely to go up in Newton Grove. 

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GOP legislative leaders want outside investigator to probe for 'lost' Easley records

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:29 AM

The N.C. Senate and House Republican leaders are urging Gov. Beverly Perdue to call for an independent investigator to look into missing travel records from 2005 associated with former Gov. Mike Easley.

Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, House Minority Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake, and Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, discussed the issue during a morning news conference. Click play below to watch the 17:58 briefing.

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Survey on support for increased school funding

Posted by David N. Bass at 10:28 AM

A new study from Education Next concludes that the more people know about how much is spent on public education, the less likely they are to support increased spending on schools:

The average per-pupil spending estimate from respondents to the 2008 Education Next/PEPG survey was $4,231, and the median response was just $2,000; but for these respondents, local average spending per pupil at the time exceeded $10,000. When told how much the local schools were spending, support for increased spending dropped by 10 percentage points, from 61 percent to a bare majority of 51 percent.

Howell and West [authors of the study] find that these differences in opinion based on exposure to key information are consistent across a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds, views about the local public schools, and political ideologies.

“It’s clear that the American public is quite willing to update its views in light of new information about public schools,” Howell and West said.

Whenever the topic of failing schools is raised, the education establishment invariably proffers more money as a solution. In response to which I would offer this analogy: eventually, sinking more and more money into repairing that 15-year-old clunker car is useless. It's time to get a new one.

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Drought Lessons

Posted by Daren Bakst at 10:17 AM

As the Charlotte Observer article discusses, a bill in the legislature (HB 1101, SB 907) would require large water users to apply for permits before being able to use water.

A couple of key passages from the article:

___________

The measure also places a new burden on permit applicants to prove that their withdrawals won't hurt anyone drawing from the same water supply...

The N.C. Farm Bureau, which represents a half-million families, calls the bill extreme...

Some of the state's largest industries are wary, said Preston Howard of the Manufacturers and Chemical Industry Council of North Carolina.

“We're not opposed to having to get a permit to do this, that or the other,” he said. “But the way the language is drawn, what industry is going to come into this state and make a multimillion-dollar investment on the promise of a five-year permit?”

_______________ 

Lesson One: Required reporting of water use (or reporting of anything) will lead to the regulation of water use.  This is why reporting requirements should be fought from the very start (see last year's drought bill that was supported by the special interests).  Now that reporting requirements for large water use are in place, the government will know if you need to get a permit to use your own water.  Industry and farming representatives only have themselves to blame for this (see lesson three).

Lesson Two: The legislature will continue to ignore water supply issues when it can simply restrict water use.  The discussion needs to be changed and the focus needs to be on water supply--what is the government doing to make sure that water sources not currently available, are made available?  What laws are blocking perfectly good water sources from being accessed? 

Lesson Three: Preston, you need to start opposing permits.  Industry, in general, has to stop playing political games (and being politically correct) by giving in on these critical issues because once you do give in, even a little, you have already lost.

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Queen's University study flawed

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 09:52 AM

A new study released by Queen's University in Charlotte purports to show that Wake County is producing students that are better prepared for college than students from Durham, Forsyth, Guilford, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Don't believe the hype. The study does not control for demographic variables, particularly key variables like income level and educational attainment of parents. None. That puts the nail in the coffin of this study.

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Appeals court rules against state in tobacco suit involving Indian tribe

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:59 AM

A unanimous three-judge panel of the N.C. Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court ruling dismissing the state's attempts to force the Seneca-Cayuga Tobacco Company to comply with terms of the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. (That was the deal most state attorneys general struck with major tobacco companies in 1998 to avouid future lawsuits.)

The Seneca-Cayuga company contended its Indian tribal ties exempted it from state litigation.

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Appeals court rules in complicated case of fired 'lateral-entry' teacher

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:49 AM

If a "lateral-entry" public school teacher — one who enters the profession from another field, rather than the typical college education training program — fails to pass a state-mandated test to keep her job, can she collect unemployment when she's fired?

That's the complex topic an Appeals Court panel addresses in a ruling issued this morning. In the particular case, the Scotland County school system says no. The Employment Security Commission says yes. The Superior Court said no. Now a split appeals panel is sending the case back to the commission for further hearings, after affirming part of the Superior Court ruling.

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Appeals court upholds ruling in favor of state trooper in fatal crash

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:39 AM

A three-judge Appeals Court panel unanimously upheld this morning a ruling from the N.C. Industrial Commission involving a state highway patrol trooper involved in a deadly crash connected with a 2003 car chase in Cherokee County.

The ruling means the trooper cannot be held grossly negligent and liable for damages in connection with the fatal collision.

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Appeals Court sides with tax man in Wal-Mart dispute

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:29 AM

A unanimous three-judge panel of the N.C. Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower-court ruling against Wal-Mart in a tax dispute with the N.C. Department of Revenue.

The state is seeking about $30 million in taxes, interest, and penalties.

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Steyn versus the statists

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:47 AM

The latest edition of Hillsdale College's Imprimis features a recent speech from Mark Steyn, who offers valuable insight to those who wonder why America's political Left often appears to endorse causes diametrically opposed to their stated beliefs:

When I ran into trouble with the so-called "human rights" commissions up in Canada, it seemed bizarre to find the progressive left making common cause with radical Islam. One half of the alliance profess to be pro-gay, pro-feminist secularists; the other half are homophobic, misogynist theocrats. Even as the cheap bus 'n' truck road-tour version of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, it made no sense. But in fact what they have in common overrides their superficially more obvious incompatibilities: Both the secular Big Government progressives and political Islam recoil from the concept of the citizen, of the free individual entrusted to operate within his own societal space, assume his responsibilities, and exploit his potential.

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:41 AM

Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Hal Young's report on a bill to provide new education tax credits to families who move their children from public to private school.

John Hood's Daily Journal invites you to watch Carolina Journal TV.

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