The Locker Room

April 21, 2009

Re: The Wrong Eminent Domain Amendment

Posted by Daren Bakst at 6:19 PM

Jeff, you are correct.

The North Carolina Supreme Court, in an embarassing opinion, held that the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority (PTAA) could seize private property not because it met the requirement of a public use, but because it met the definition of a public purpose.

However, NC courts and the US Supreme Court haven't used "public use" for a long time.  The unique aspect of this case was that it was a taking for a private use.

PTAA seized private property for, as the Court acknowledged, "the exclusive use and benefit of Federal Express." 

So even though the taking was for a private use, it also was for the "public purpose" of improving airports.  According to the Court, the primary goal for the taking was improving airports (which benefits the public) and there was just an incidental benefit to FedEx. 

This is a great example of how:

1) As long as any type of public purpose (improving airports) is identified, it doesn't even matter if the government takes property from one private party and gives it to another private party.

2) This case is a great example why simply prohibiting takings for economic development isn't enough--this case had nothing to do with economic development.  An amendment needs to prohibit all seizures of property from one private party and transfer of the property to another private party, whatever the underlying reason.

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Two obviously brainwashed students!

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 5:00 PM

Bravissima to these two students--apparently from Hillsdale College. And Bravo to Frederic Bastiat. This is a must watch.

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You might be a progressive if...

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 4:27 PM

…you don't want to be called a liberal because it has too much negative baggage. On the other hand, you think to be labeled "progressive," tied closely to the early 20th century eugenics movement, is just fine. (Three prominent progressives who were supporters of Eugenics—Margaret Sanger, founder of planned parenthood; John Maynard Keynes, the Obama administration’s favorite 20th century economist; and Sir John Huxley, early environmentalist and founding member of the World Wildlife Fund--just 3 of many). Also click here.

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Re: The Wrong Eminent Domain Amendment

Posted by Jeff A. Taylor at 3:50 PM

How was the taking for the FedEx terminal over at the Triad airport justified a number of years ago? Wasn't it that is was a "public purpose" not even a "public use?"

As near as I can figure, the airport said it needed cargo facilities, the courts said that was "undisputed" and away we went.

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Obama's $100 million

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 3:32 PM

Building on Jon's math lesson, $100 million works out to about $0.33 per person. For crying out loud, where was Joe Biden to give the sage advice Number Two gave Dr. Evil?

On an unrelated note, I'm also astounded at the speed with which a children's book on the president's pseudonymous dog has hit the book stores. BO: America's Commander in Leash is available at Amazon for $14.95 - or roughly the amount of federal savings for 45 people in the president's plan.

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The Wrong Eminent Domain Amendment

Posted by Daren Bakst at 3:25 PM

I want eminent domain reform almost as much as I want the Dolphins to win the Super Bowl (that's a lot).  So when I tell you that the House's eminent domain amendment (HB 1268) is a cure worse than the disease, you know it pains me to say that.

The amendment would protect against the rare instance when the government admits it is taking property for economic development.

However, that's not how "economic development takings" happen.  The biggest source of economic development takings (and eminent domain abuse in general) is through the abuse of blight laws.  The government simply defines blight to mean virtually anything and that becomes the stated reason for taking property (even though its for economic development).

I have just written about the amendment here.

The proposed amendment would actually authorize the abuse of blight laws.  This problem by itself outweighs any benefits the amendment provides.

I'm thrilled that there is bipartisan support for an eminent domain amendment, but House members (that care about property rights) need to correct the problems with the amendment before it moves forward.

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You might be a progressive if ...

Posted by Jon Sanders at 2:44 PM

You think $100 million is "a lot of money" but $8 billion is "miniscule."

Progressive math:

80x < y


x = [a lot of money]


y = [miniscule]

Update: I decided to make this post the departure point of my next Townhall column.

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You might be a progressive if ...

Posted by Jon Sanders at 2:37 PM

To build on Daren's last, you might be a progressive if you think the government deserves or is owed the religious awe of faith.

Nice halo, dude!

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You might be a progressive if...

Posted by Daren Bakst at 2:26 PM

You want to improve faith in government by forcing taxpayers to subsidize speech and candidates they oppose, chilling First Amendment protected speech, and using taxes to help incumbents win re-election.

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You won't like me when I'm angry

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 1:42 PM

House Minority Leader Skip Stam is sponsoring HB 384: Fuquay-Varina Quick Take, which will be heard in the Committee on Finance meeting tomorrow.

JLF legal dude Daren Bakst has discussed these issues (and this bill) at length. Daren says,

Rep. Stam's bill, instead of getting rid of this abuse, would expand it so that the town of Fuquay-Varina could use the same quick take authority that the Department of Transportation has--so much for property rights.
Indeed, Fuquay-Varina officials desperately want to expand their municipal empire. Rep. Stam is feeding their "manifest destiny" mentality as F-V city limits creep east down highway 42 into unincorporated areas like Willow Spring (where I live) and into areas adjacent to the town of Holly Springs and the mighty empire of Cary.

Pragmatism over principles - must be an NC Republican!

P.S. I'll be voting for the other guy.

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"Best in the galaxy"

Posted by Dr. Karen Y. Palasek at 1:41 PM

Terry: Re: your post on full-time piano tuners and Wake County Public Schools' PR efforts...It takes a large staff to convince people that Wake County has one of the best school systems in the galaxy. Sadly for Wake County Public Schools, the entire state of West Virginia was (literally) decades ahead of Wake in its "best in galaxy" planning.

Consider the following from the Inaugural address of Governor William B. Conley of West Virginia, March 4, 1929:

"I call on the citizenship everywhere to come to the aid of the officers they have chosen and help them make West Virginia the best in the galaxy of all the states in the Union."

And Conley was no pushover to special interests, nor willing to pad the public budget, as his remarks and warnings on fiscal restraint demonstrate:

"There is a tendency in recent years for government to engage in certain lines of business in competition with its citizens. Such competition is unfair, tends to socialism, and means more and higher taxes." Unfortunately, what happens next in WV is that some morons at the federal level use the Great Depression as an excuse to unfairly engage in certain lines of business in competition with private citizens, initiate programs and policies that lead the country toward socialism, and justify the creation of more and higher taxes.

The Conley inaugural address is a fascinating read, and for the most part, well worth shamelessly copying by some (morally upright--?) future governor or politician.

And finally, while I'm not certain that having piano tuners-as-public-employees inexorably leads to civic perdition, the address offers this comment on tax reduction:

"Instead of studying new methods of spending more money, let us study new methods of spending less." Light-years ahead of our present policy approach. corrected

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Federal bailout for states requires "shadow budget"

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 1:40 PM

Gov. Perdue, via Binker

He [state stimulus tsar Dempsey Benton] tells me something that I didn't know until yesterday, that the rules are such that the money cannot be co-mingled ... with state funds...All 50 states will almost have to set up a shadow budget. So if I'm going to use federal recovery funds for daycare slots or for job training, then I'll have to have two separate accounts. I'll have to have a North Carolina account and an account that's unique to the recovery dollars. The strident and stringent requirements ... are as complex and convoluted as I've ever seen.

Federal money is temporary and comes with strings? Who would have guessed? It is, however, more transparent to have a separate accounting for federal dollars.

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Chavez-brand socialism in America?

Posted by David N. Bass at 1:18 PM reports:

Inspired by his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the Americas Summit, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez declared on Sunday that Venezuelan socialism has begun to reach the United States under the Obama administration.

“I am coming back from Trinidad and Tobago, from the Americas Summit where, without a doubt, the position that Venezuela and its government has always defended, especially starting 10 years ago, of resistance, dignity, sovereignty and independence has obtained in Port of Spain, one of the biggest victories of our history,” Chavez said.

“It would seem that the changes that started in Venezuela in the last decade of the 20th century have begun to reach North America,” he added.

My only remaining question: are Obama and Chavez friends on Facebook?

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Of faulty signage, Indian place-names, and the last words of Joseph of Arimathea

Posted by Jon Sanders at 12:12 AM

There was some debate over whether the castle's name was really Auuuuuuugh, or whether the guy "died while carving it" (or was taking dictation to the point of faithfully presenting the strangled death-cry as the very last word of Joseph of Arimathea), but regardless, a similar quandary presented itself to my mind upon reading of the signage difficulty of a particular Massachusetts lake.

The lake is called by its Indian name "Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg," but I cannot say for sure whether that was indeed its original name or if the native relaying it to the English had drowned while telling it.

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You might be a progressive if...

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 11:55 AM're simultaneously in favor of passing laws to preserve open space and giving government subsidies for wind power plants, which use 150 times as much land per kilowatt of electricity generated as coal fired plants.

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Debunking fake history

Posted by George Leef at 11:35 AM

Economist Robert Murphy has a new book out that debunks the fake history the big government zealots have been telling about the Depression and the New Deal for many years. You can read about it here.

It's very important to the statists to keep people believing that the Depression was caused by capitalism, that it got worse and worse because the laissez-faire President Hoover did nothing about it, and that finally FDR came along to rescue the country with his visionary New Deal programs. That set of beliefs helps support their gigantic array of interventionist policies and gives them an excuse to increase federal spending whenever unemployment starts to rise.

If we could get large numbers of Americans to understand the truth about the Depression and the New Deal, it would be like taking the opponent's queen in a chess game.

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WRAL reports on Easley car deal

Posted by David N. Bass at 11:34 AM

To complement today's latest development about former Gov. Mike Easley's car deals, WRAL offers a video report on the story here.

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You might be a progressive if...

Posted by Jon Sanders at 11:25 AM

You think that cigarettes should be taxed to fund increases in children's health insurance, and then people should be forbidden to smoke them.

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All aboard the federal gravy train

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:16 AM

That's one of the subheadlines in Chris Edwards' latest Cato Institute fiscal bulletin (pdf link here).

It marks a sad milestone: the number of federal subsidy programs now tops 1,800. 

By 2008, there were 1,804 different subsidy programs in the federal budget. Hundreds of programs were added this decade—ranging from a $62 billion prescription drug plan to a $1 million anti-drug education grant—and the recent stimulus bill added even more. We are in the midst of the largest federal gold rush since the 1960s.

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Just say no, kids!

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 11:12 AM

The United States Department of Education released a new report, Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2008. One statistic stands out. North Carolina had a high percentage of students in grades 9–12 who reported that drugs were made available to them on school property during the previous 12 months.

Specifically, researchers found that 28.5 percent of public school students in North Carolina were offered drugs in 2007, the tenth highest percentage in the nation and the second highest in the South. (The national average - representing 40 states and D.C. - was 22.3 percent. Georgia had the third highest percentage overall and highest in the South.) Nearly 38 percent of North Carolina students admitted to using alcohol during the previous 30 days (in 2007).

At least US ED did not release the report yesterday.

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GOP legislative leaders tackle health plan, sex ed, taxpayer financing, estate tax, and more

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:07 AM

Republican legislative leaders used this week's regularly scheduled news conference to highlight some issues that have distinguished the GOP from the Democrats.

House Minority Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake, and Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, focused specifically on the State Health Plan "bailout," changes in the public schools' sex education curriculum, and taxpayer financing of local election campaigns. Sen. Eddie Goodall, R-Union, also discussed a proposal to kill the estate tax, while Rep. Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, answered questions about state use of federal stimulus dollars.

Click play below to view the entire 21:28 news briefing.

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Re: I don't mean to be mean

Posted by Jeff A. Taylor at 10:39 AM

Well, I do.

Maybe it is the splitting headache I've had since reading Ann Helms' solid account of CMS' zig-zag capital plans which ran yesterday. Here again we find complete idiocy from government flunkies.

CMS building czar Guy Chamberlain advances the exact same static world-view as Raleigh's Lynn Raynor. Namely, "Gee, with construction prices down, wouldn't it be great to have more money to spend?"

Except even when Chamberlain had more money to spend he wound up speculating in a temporarily hot real estate market. How'd that turn out?

To get land in the booming Ballantyne area of south suburban Charlotte, CMS agreed to buy 39 acres from a developer who already had it zoned for a small subdivision. The plan was for CMS to build roads and lay utility lines, get the lots ready for construction and sell them to a company that would build the houses.

Ballantyne Elementary opened in August, and in September CMS staff told the school board there were interested buyers. But the board held off, asking officials to explore whether the district could require developers to include affordable housing.

Since then, the housing market has plummeted even further. The potential buyers lost interest, says Chamberlain, the administrator in charge of construction. Mecklenburg County now has a two- to three-year backlog of developed lots, he said.

That means for the foreseeable future, the school will continue to nestle among empty roads bearing such names as Knowledge Circle and Great Future Drive.

Yet I guarantee that Chamberlain retires from CMS in good standing -- and then probably comes back to consult, a la the city of Charlotte's Stanley Watkins, last seen losing thousands of taxpayer dollars in "neighborhood development" schemes.

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You might be a progressive if...

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 10:30 AM

You think the way to help a small, unfunded government program for a few people is to make it a massive, unfunded government program for everyone.

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You know you're a progressive if...

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 10:00 AM believe waterboarding a terrorist who's suspected of murdering thousands of American citizens is inhumane but think that partial birth abortion is reproductive health care.  Here is a link to "A Victim's Description of Waterboarding." I couldn't find a similiar link for partial birth abortion, so here's a third party account.

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A time limit to work in Thomasville?

Posted by Michael Moore at 09:43 AM

You can't work past 11pm, well at least according to this article.

Edwin Hardee, who operates a hot dog stand on Saturday nights outside a popular Thomasville pub, said he would have to give his permit back to the council and move his business to another town if the time restraints were approved.

“I’m one man,” Hardee said. “I’ve done everything required of me to get this permit. I jumped through all the hoops and I was happy to do so. But if I can’t stay open past 11 p.m., I’ll have to pack up and go somewhere else.”

Councilman Scott Styers argued in favor of the time constraints, citing pubic safety issues for the vendors.

“I worry that because these merchants deal primarily in cash, having them on the street late at night could provoke higher risk for possible violence,” Styers said. “We just want to keep everybody safe.”


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Don't drive drunk around a wildlife officer

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:54 AM

The N.C. Court of Appeals also ruled this morning that a state wildlife officer can make an arrest for driving while impaired.

The unanimous three-judge ruling reverses a lower court decision.

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Appeals court sides with Revenue Department in sales tax dispute

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:46 AM

A unanimous three-judge panel of the N.C. Court of Appeals has ruled this morning in favor of the N.C. Revenue Secretary in a sales-tax dispute involving N.C. IDEA, a group that promotes "microelectronic, wireless, networking, and related technology businesses in North Carolina."

The decision reverses a lower court ruling that would have allowed N.C. IDEA to get refunds for the sales and use tax it paid.

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I don't mean to be mean

Posted by John Hood at 08:41 AM

But this is the kind of stuff that makes one doubt whether government officials have sense enough to come in out of the rain.

The News & Observer reported this morning that, not surprisingly, the recession has led to lower construction costs as firms are willing to offer lower bids to get a share of declining business. After making the observation that the lower costs accompany tight budgets for public construction, the paper offered a quote:

"It's a strange dichotomy," said Lynn Raynor, a senior project engineer with the city of Raleigh.

Huh? It's not a dichotomy — there's a causal relationship between smaller capital budgets and contractors submitting lower bids — and it's hardly strange. It’s just basic supply and demand. 

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Maybe they all need smaller offices

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:33 AM

It's too bad that Sen. Kay Hagan finally has a nicer office. Perhaps if more of her colleagues had been "stranded in a windowless basement office," more would have faced this restriction:

The basement office also held Hagan back, since she did not have the room to hire issue experts and other staffers who could bring her up to speed on the ways of Washington.  

We know our government is too big when senators of any political persuasion need staffs of issue experts and people well-versed in the ways of Washington.

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Wow! Now Obama's going to cut the budget!

Posted by George Leef at 08:27 AM

In case you missed the announcement, Obama has told his cabinet officers to find ways to cut $100 million from the federal budget. (But wouldn't that spending help to stimulate the economy?)

Responding to the U.S. News story on this breathtaking development, Professor Don Boudreaux makes it clear that this is just a disgusting bit of political theatrics.

Editor, U.S. News & World Report

Dear Editor:

You report that President Obama today "challenged" his cabinet to "cut the
budget by $100 million" ("Obama to Cabinet: Cut $100 Million from Budget," April

What courage. A President who proclaims the importance of making "hard choices"
calls upon his government to trim away a whopping one thirty-six-thousandth of
its projected expenditures for the year - or, alternatively reckoned, one
twelve-thousandth of it projected budget deficit.

To put this budget "cut" in perspective, suppose that the typical American
family, earning $50,000 annually, plans this year to run a budget deficit
similar in proportion to its income as the deficit that Uncle Sam will run in
proportion to his tax take. Such a family would plan to spend $75,000. Now
suppose that this family, seeking to signal its commitment to financial
prudence, promises spending cuts equal in proportion to its budget to the cuts
that Mr. Obama announced today.

This family would declare – surely with much fanfare - that it will reduce its
planned expenditures by $2.09! Perhaps it might promise to survive the year
with one less gallon of gasoline or with one less cup of coffee.

Who would take such a gesture to be anything other than audacious sarcasm by the
chronically irresponsible?

Donald J. Boudreaux
Chairman, Department of Economics
George Mason University

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Smaller government means less corruption

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:20 AM

The latest video from Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute tackles the link between the size of the federal government and the growth of government corruption.

Click play below to watch it.

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Does the Wake County school system employ a full-time piano tuner?

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:59 AM

It looks that way.

According to the WRAL public records site, the Wake County Public School District employs a full-time piano tuner at a salary of $42,040.56 a year, roughly the average salary of a Wake County teacher. The piano tuner position falls under the Curriculum and Instruction department.

In other news...

In his presentation to JLF's Shaftesbury Society, Wake County school board member Ron Margiotta mentioned the district's large PR staff.

According to the WRAL site, the Wake County Schools Public Information department has a staff of 16, including six senior administrators, a mail clerk, a communications coordinator, and two of each of the following: administrators, customer service representatives, graphic designers, and secretaries.

It takes a large staff to convince people that Wake County has one of the best school systems in the galaxy.

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Poor Richard on helping the poor

Posted by John Hood at 07:50 AM

Benjamin Franklin is quotable on so many matters, large and small, that delving into his writings is a treasure trove. While looking up something else this morning, I ran across this gem, from a 1766 essay:

I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.

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In case you missed her

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:01 AM

Becki Gray helped News 14 Carolina grade Gov. Beverly Perdue’s first 100 days in office.

Click play below to her what Becki had to say:

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:59 AM

Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features David Bass' report about the number of families applying for free or reduced-price school lunches for their kids despite their ineligibility for the program.

John Hood's Daily Journal takes aim at state officials' continuing efforts to promote some types of gambling while banning others.

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