The Locker Room

September 22, 2008

Save the Lunch Hour!

Posted by Becki Gray at 4:48 PM

According to a new report in the Triangle Business Journal, the lunch break is dwindling to only 35 minutes in many companies and many managers are working through their lunch hour more than half of the work week.

All the more reason to stop by the John Locke Foundation's Shaftesbury Society lunch meetings on Mondays where we know how to multitask and make the most of a lunch hour – feed your brain and your stomach. Visit here for details.  Plan to join us soon and save the lunch hour!


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Is he planning to bomb it first?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:46 PM

The featured quote on the "Under the Dome" blog at this moment comes from Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama:

"If we can rebuild Baghdad, we can rebuild Charlotte."

Does Charlotte need a rebuilding comparable to the rebuilding of bombed-out Iraq? Really?

If so, I hope the rebuilders will consider doing something about the area's roads

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Football at UNCC?

Posted by George Leef at 3:24 PM

UNCC Chancellor Phil Dubois argues in this Charlotte Observer piece that it would be a good long-term move for the school to begin a football program.

He says that at other major NC schools, sports have strengthened their academic reputations. I think you only strengthen you academic reputation by doing academic things.

He also says that football would "enliven school spirit" (very nice, but not worth spending millions to get) and would help with student retention. The problem with that argument is that it's hard to believe that if a student were thinking of dropping out (which isn't always a bad move -- a college degree isn't necessarily a good investment), the presence of a football team would make the difference in deciding to stay.

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Washington to the rescue!

Posted by George Leef at 3:08 PM

The folks up in D.C. want us to think that their big bailout is going to save the economy from crashing. Frank Shostak argues on the other hand that all the bailout can accomplish is to further weaken wealth producers, making matters worse and setting the stage for worse things in the future. You can read his piece here.

Remember that at the beginning of the Depression, (before it turned into the Great Depression), Andrew Mellon urged inactivity -- let the bad investments fail. Herbert Hoover ignored him. In trying to prop up the economy, he set in motion the disastrous chain of events that created the Great Depression and stuck the nation with FDR and the New Deal. The latter is still a millstone around our necks.

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Re: Topsy-turvy

Posted by George Leef at 2:28 PM

Bravo for Kevin Hassett and the many other writers who have attempted to give Americans the truth about the financial crisis -- it would not have happened but for politicians monkeying around with the financial (and especially mortage) markets. The gold star goes to the person or group that manages to clear away all the blather and communicate that to the electorate.

The Democrats prance around saying that they are the party of "the little guy" while the Republicans posture as the party of fiscal responsibility and free enterprise. The fact is that both are captive to interest groups that rely on politics to get what they can't get through voluntary action. Both are mostly syndicalist parties, with considerable overlap in the interests they favor.

A most enlightening book in this regard is Timothy Carney's The Big Ripoff, which I reviewed here. The author surveys the landscape of government programs backed by Republicrats, including Fannie Mae. "Little guys" and free enterprise proponents alike should applaud if any politician said, "Let's get rid of all this stuff."

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Pay for performance in the public schools

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:33 PM

A forthcoming report from the John Locke Foundation will detail the positive signs Guilford County has seen from Mission Possible, a pay-for-performance program targeting teachers and administrators.

Report author Terry Stoops discussed his findings during today's meeting of the John Locke Foundation Shaftesbury Society.

4:20 p.m. update: Watch the entire presentation here.

You'll find other John Locke Foundation video presentations here.

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Who's more negative?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:50 AM

Joe Klein's latest TIME column takes John McCain to task for running a more negative campaign than is warranted under the normal circumstances of a political battle.

Not so fast, says Michael Barone. A recent Barone blog post is titled "Obama's campaign is more negative than McCain's":

Interestingly, despite the meme of liberal commentary that McCain is running a scandalously negative campaign, the Obama campaign is running more negative ads than the McCain campaign.

North Carolinians will have a chance to hear Barone's analysis in person this week. He'll deliver a John Locke Foundation Headliner address at noon Wednesday in Winston-Salem.

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The meaning of 'campaign'

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:39 AM

Since we're in the midst of many heated election campaigns, I thought you might like to read a portion of William Safire's definition of "campaign" in Safire's Political Dictionary:

Campaign comes from the French word for open, level country and evolved from there into the military vocabulary, where it was first used to denote the amount of time an army was kept in the field; later it denoted a particular military operation. In seventeenth-century England, the term was extended to politics and usually meant "a session of a legislative body." The meaning further evolved in transatlantic passage as the business of getting elected to public office grew more complex. But the idea that politics is a form of combat remains. 

John Hood will continue to follow the political combat in North Carolina in his Daily Journal.

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Is The Government Serious About Fuel Efficiency?

Posted by Chad Adams at 10:22 AM

Over the past two years we've been barraged by politicians championing higher fuel efficiency, alternative energy and hybrid technology.  And Ford Motor Company has produced a 65mpg sports car, but it runs on diesel. . .

Ford's 2009 Fiesta ECOnetic goes on sale in November. But here's the catch: Despite the car's potential to transform Ford's image and help it compete with Toyota Motor and Honda Motor in its home market, the company will sell the little fuel sipper only in Europe. Automakers such as Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz have predicted for years that a technology called "clean diesel" would overcome many Americans' antipathy to a fuel still often thought of as the smelly stuff that powers tractor trailers. Diesel vehicles now hitting the market with pollution-fighting technology are as clean or cleaner than gasoline and at least 30% more fuel-efficient.  Taxes aimed at commercial trucks mean diesel costs anywhere from 40 cents to $1 more per gallon than gasoline.

If politicians were truly serious about the price of fuel and fuel efficiency, they should consider reducing taxes so that clean fuels can be used by Americans at a market price.

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Topsy-turvy economic analysis gets straightened out

Posted by John Hood at 07:53 AM

Kevin Hassett of AEI has just written a must-read commentary on the Wall Street mess for Bloomberg. It's an excellent response to the past week or so of preposterous analysis in the media that blames the mortgage crisis on the free market, despite its origins in the massive government manipulation of the mortgage market. Hassett explains:

Enough cards on this table have been turned over that the story is now clear. The economic history books will describe this episode in simple and understandable terms: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac exploded, and many bystanders were injured in the blast, some fatally.

Fannie and Freddie did this by becoming a key enabler of the mortgage crisis. They fueled Wall Street's efforts to securitize subprime loans by becoming the primary customer of all AAA-rated subprime-mortgage pools. In addition, they held an enormous portfolio of mortgages themselves.

In the times that Fannie and Freddie couldn't make the market, they became the market. Over the years, it added up to an enormous obligation. As of last June, Fannie alone owned or guaranteed more than $388 billion in high-risk mortgage investments. Their large presence created an environment within which even mortgage-backed securities assembled by others could find a ready home.

Efforts to rein in the government-backed mortgage companies faltered in 2005. That is most unfortunate. Washington has now taken over both monstrosities, and it would be most fortunate if they were eventually to be whittled down and sold off. As for this week's mania, I find myself hoping that Nancy Pelosi, Mike Pence, Ron Paul — somebody — will, in George Jetson's words, “Stop this crazy thing!”

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Latest dispatches from the political trail

Posted by John Hood at 07:52 AM

• Southern Political Report profiles the presidential, Senate, and gubernatorial contests in North Carolina. The newsletter takes note of the fact that McCain is spending ad money in the state. Sources say Pat McCrory is running the strongest GOP candidacy for governor since Jim Martin's. Video of Friday's Perdue-McCrory debate on education is available online.

• McCrory continues a focus on energy and offshore drilling, while speaking about government power and humility at a Salisbury church. At Winston-Salem forum, he promises to bring a mayoral approach to the office, emphasizing openness.

• Young and new voters may boost the prospects of Kay Hagan and other Democrats in the state, reports the Asheville Citizen-Times. A new PPP poll has Hagan up 5.

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Pitiful Pittsburgh Public Schools

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:45 AM

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Pittsburgh Public Schools officials say they want to give struggling children a chance, but the district is raising eyebrows with a policy that sets 50 percent as the minimum score a student can receive for assignments, tests and other work.

The district and teachers union last week issued a joint memo to ensure staff members' compliance with the policy, which was already on the books but enforced only at some schools. Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers President John Tarka said the policy is several years old.
You know that when the district and union issue a joint memo, the situation cannot be good.

Worse yet, the district recently launched an "Excellence for All" campaign.

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Business Week questions utilities' 'eco-friendly' programs

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:33 AM

The magazine's latest issue questions the benefits of programs such as N.C. Green Power.

I'm guessing that Daren Bakst is not surprised, given his research into renewable energy and the misguided energy-efficiency programs utilities have developed in response to government mandates.

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:29 AM

The first Carolina Journal Online exclusive of the week features Michael Lowrey's report about a recent N.C. Court of Appeals ruling involving a violation of the Constitution's guarantee of a speedy trial.

John Hood's Daily Journal uses recent news about state campsite reservations to muse on the proper role and efficient operation of state government.

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