The Locker Room

August 24, 2009

Climate gobbledegook

Posted by Paul Chesser at 7:27 PM

Her words are clear, but these comments from Gov. Bev Perdue following the Southern Governors Association conference this weekend made no sense and reminded me of a radio parody from the 1980s:


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Beautiful Views of the Mountains and the Coast

Posted by Daren Bakst at 4:03 PM

Courtesy of SB 3 (learn more):

- Future of the coast:  Click here, here, here, and here.   
- Future of the mountain ridges: Click here

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And what about Russian medicine?

Posted by George Leef at 3:23 PM

The Locke Foundation's friend Yuri Maltsev writes here about the glories of socialist medicine.

But of course, central planning under enlightened and well-meaning American bureaucrats and politicians will turn out much differently than in Russia.

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Mike Easley's Own Rose Mary Woods?

Posted by Jeff A. Taylor at 2:54 PM

Meet Diane Bumgardner, the secretary who deleted Mike Easley's travel records when told to do so by Highway Patrol Capt. Alan Melvin.

One big difference is that Bumgardner's account of how important info went missing is more believable than that offered up by Nixon's long-time secretary.

In fact, it is Melvin who has gaping holes in his story. To have no recall of what you did with data you expressly told a secretary to give you and then destroy -- no. Ditto Melvin's bosses at the Highway Patrol, who at this point are flirting with an FBI root-canal of their entire operation unless they come clean.

No longer is it possible to assert that there is "no evidence" that Easley's travel records as governor were destroyed, altered, or otherwise hidden. There is a cover-up in place, no doubt about it. Top Highway Patrol and civilian leaders must take responsibility for getting to the truth -- no matter where it leads.

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Russia's demographic decline

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:45 PM

An alarmingly low birth rate and high death rate are combining to cause major demographic challenges for Russia in the years ahead.

UNC-Chapel Hill historian Peter Coclanis discussed those challenges during a presentation today to the John Locke Foundation's Shaftesbury Society.

In the clip below, he discusses some challenges that will interest the outside world, including the United States.

3:20 p.m. update: Watch the full 50:04 recording by clicking the play button below.

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

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Fayetteville looking at hotel incentives

Posted by Michael Lowrey at 2:43 PM

That’s right, the powers that be in Fayetteville are upset that their city doesn’t have any four- or five star hotels. Apparently, it’s simply unacceptable that travelers can’t get room service and laundry service and it’s local government job to make sure that they can.

The justification given for this? The military demands it:

Higher-rated hotels have spas, laundry service, thicker sheets and towels, room service and catering - the kind of service the generals relocating to Fort Bragg from Atlanta will expect, according to a BRAC Regional Task Force report last year that says additional full-service hotels and convention space are needed.

Generals demanding spas?

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Kudos to DPI - state tests available online

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 1:40 PM

For many years, the John Locke Foundation has urged the NC Department of Public Instruction to release copies of state end-of-grade and end-of-course tests. Today, DPI officials did it.

Transparency makes everyone happy.

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Trying to debate a progressive

Posted by George Leef at 1:12 PM

Metro Magazine columnist Jim Leutze has a penchant for spouting clichés and making illogical arguments, always in the service of furthering statist control in the U.S. When challenged, his approach is to go on and on with irrelevancies in hopes that readers will forget the original point.

Here’s the exchange of letters in the current issue:

Leutze Misguided On Health Care

I’m glad that Jim Leutze had a nice trip to France (Editor-at-Large, July 2009 issue), but he’s jumping to an unwarranted conclusion if he thinks that his one satisfactory encounter with a nationalized healthcare system means that the United States should adopt some variant thereof. As a counterweight to his experience, I quote from Canadian doctor David Gratzer’s book The Cure.
“On a cold Canadian morning about a decade ago, late for a class, I cut through a hospital emergency room and came upon dozens of people on stretchers — waiting, moaning, begging for treatment. Some elderly patients had waited for up to five days in corridors before being admitted to beds. They smelled of urine and sweat. As I navigated past the bodies, I began to question everything I thought I knew about health care. … Though I didn’t know it then, I had begun a journey into the heart of one of the great policy disasters of modern times.”
The supposed upside of nationalized health care, universal access, is utterly swamped by the downsides of politicizing (or more accurately, much further politicizing) one of our most important industries. We’ll lose efficiency, innovation and freedom.
Gratzer convincingly argues that the cure for what ails health care in the United States is to increase reliance on free market competition, not to embrace government dominated systems such as that in Canada, Britain, France or elsewhere.
George C. Leef

Jim Leutze Responds:

George, George, George — I should have been foresighted and sent the column directly to you knowing that you would not be able to resist rising to the bait.
I know nothing about the veracity of the incident you cited, but I am just going to guess, and this is a wild one, that you and your doctor-source are also against healthcare reform. Please write and verify my hunch.
Now, as to the uniqueness of my wife’s experience in France. I have enjoyed the fruits of socialized medicine in England, Germany, Finland, Japan and Thailand. All of those experiences were similar to what I saw in France. But more importantly, you need to know that I was weaned on socialism. My father was a career Marine Corps officer, so consequently, I was raised, in part, by his retirement. When I went to college, I joined the ROTC and Uncle Sam was kind enough to help pay for my last two years of undergraduate school. As a result of my service in the US Air Force, I was eligible for the GI Bill — one of the greatest government giveaways, which has just been re-enacted for Gulf War Vets — which I used to attend graduate school. Several years ago I became eligible for one of the great products of the Franklin D. Roosevelt era — Social Security (isn’t it too bad that George Bush’s plan to turn Social Security over to Wall Street didn’t materialize). Now comes the best part — I get Medicare. What a wonderful opportunity to enjoy Federal largess.
So, I don’t have to go to France for my socialized medicine, I can get it at Duke.
Jim Leutze

There's so much baloney here, starting with that condescendingly informal address, that it's hard to know where to start slicing. Here are a few cuts.

1. Does anyone believe that Leutze wrote the column in question, thinking that he was setting some sort of trap for me or others who oppose further government intervention in our health care system? What's the point of making a bad argument to "bait" a response?
2. What does a faithful leftist do with evidence opposed to his beliefs? Why, just breezily dismiss it by saying that he knows nothing about the author's "veracity." (But Leutze wants Metro readers to accept his statements as true, no doubt.) Of course, he doesn't know that the opposing evidence is not true, either. An individual interested in the truth would at least think it worth investigating since this is a pretty serious allegation -- that government control will mean long waits for care. He could start by reading Dr. Gratzer's book and then books by other people who have (or at least claim they have) seen the downside of politicized health care systems. I'd bet my right arm, however, that Leutze has never read anything critical of government intervention in health care.
3. I am indeed in favor of reform, but not further politicization. Many people have advanced ideas for improving our system without subjecting it to endless bureaucracy and political tinkering. Dr. Gratzer, for example, advocates changing the tax laws so we aren't tied to health insurance through employment and don't rely on insurance for every little expenditure, something that drives up costs greatly. Reform does not have to mean increasing federal control. In fact, the term "liberal" comes from reform-minded thinkers in the 18th century who understood that vast social improvement was possible by getting rid of authoritarian government controls. Their insights are every bit as pertinent today as back then.
4. Leutze confuses a "socialist" system with one where government pays for some things. The feds give out food stamps to enable poor people to buy more food, but that is not the same as a socialist food system. Similarly, the government buys medical care for some people, but that is not the same as having a government-run medical system. And more to the point, it makes no sense to argue that because the status quo is all right, arguments that increasing government intervention would be harmful are amiss. Most Americans are satisfied with their current health care arrangements; the point that critics of the various ObamaCare bills in Congress are making is that the great increase in federal control they mandate will make things worse in the future. Satisfaction with the status quo is irrelevant to that.

Other comments welcome.

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Another "antigovernment ideologue" at work

Posted by George Leef at 12:25 AM

This time it's Professor Steven Horwitz who explains in this article that the increase in government spending that Obama zealots always call "stimulus" must actually make the US less prosperous in the long run because it diverts resources from capital investment and productive enterprise into government projects that do neither.

Now, Horwitz's argument might look like an application of basic economics, but obviously it's more of that "fishy" stuff meant to lure gullible people into the "astroturf" movement against the regime.

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Liability on the Golf Course

Posted by Daren Bakst at 11:20 AM

When people play golf, they are not only having a fun-filled day of frustration, they also are the potential victims of getting hit by golf balls.

Usually, when someone is on the golf course and he gets hit by a golf ball, he won't be able to win a lawsuit against the person hitting the golf ball. Why?  Because the person getting hit assumed the risk of getting hit when he stepped onto the golf course.  It is no different than going to a baseball game and getting hit by a foul ball--I knew or should have known that foul balls go into the stands.

There's an interesting case though in Pennsylvania featured on

It may be one of the few golf cases where a plaintiff that got hit by a golf ball may not have assumed the risk.  It is good example of how slight differences in the facts of a case can make all the difference in the world.  You can be the judge in the case.  Personally, I agree with the Pennsylvania appellate court in this case.

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The Burning of Washington DC

Posted by Dr. Troy Kickler at 11:15 AM

On August 24, 1814, British troops invaded Washington, D.C., and burned down the White House.  You can learn more about North Carolina's role in the war by learning more about Governor William Hawkins.   During the conflict, North Carolina provided some of America's greatest naval commanders:  Otway Burns and Johnston Blakely

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Is he intellectually dishonest, or just lazy?

Posted by George Leef at 10:54 AM

I'm referring to the Washington Post's E.J. Dionne, who regularly writes columns indicating that he is either intellectually dishonest (saying things he knows are not true simply to help out the left) or lazy (saying things he could easily discover are not true, but doesn't bother to). Most recently, it's his assertion that only "antigovernment ideologues" doubt that government spending is necessary to stimulate the economy. Books and articles abound by scholars who maintain that government spending can have no benefit, but in fact further weakens the economy by misallocating resources to favored government projects and constituencies. Why does Dionne refuse to recognize that fact?

Don Boudreaux takes Dionne to task in this letter.

Editor, Washington Post
1150 15th St., NW
Washington, DC 20071

Dear Editor:

E.J. Dionne suggests that only "antigovernment ideologues" doubt that
"If governments around the world, including our own, had not acted
aggressively - and had not spent piles of money - a very bad economic
situation would have become cataclysmic" ("Why We Didn't Crash," August

He's mistaken. Earlier this year three Nobel laureates along with
nearly 350 other professional economists - employed by institutions
such as Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Harvard, Johns
Hopkins, Northwestern, NYU, Penn, Rutgers, UCLA, and the National
Bureau of Economic Research - signed an open-letter contesting the
alleged need for stimulus spending.* Of course, Mr. Dionne might
respond by accusing these economists of being antigovernment ideologues
- an accusation that, should it be made, would demonstrate only that
Mr. Dionne is a progovernment ideologue.

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

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U.S. average on international assessments of student performance

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 10:15 AM

A new report released by the National Center for Education Statistics reviewed student performance on math, reading, and science assessments.

The bottom line is that the U.S. hovers around the international average on most international tests. Researchers concluded,

The performance of U.S. students neither leads nor trails the world in reading, mathematics, or science at any grade or age.
I won't bore you with the details. I want to -- I really do. You can follow the link above to see a summary of the results.

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Want to end the controversy over large-scale wind turbines in the N.C. mountains?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:40 AM

If that's your goal, then you ought to support efforts to scrap the renewable energy mandates included in Senate Bill 3.

Daren Bakst explains.

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Speaking of death panels …

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:38 AM

TIME’s similarly named — but much more amusing — columnist Joel Stein makes light of the concept in his latest piece.

Amid the yuks, though, Stein throws in an important point:

But if Americans would rather take a phony moral high ground instead of admitting that there are a limited number of organs, specialists, equipment, medicine and money, then I'll have to live with not being a panelist.

Stein doesn’t follow this point further, but he recognizes a fact some people refuse to see: any health care system involves rationing, regardless of what the Obama administration says.

The question is: Who should do the rationing?

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Why Joe Klein will never get it

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:36 AM

Joe Klein’s latest TIME column offers more evidence that he’ll never understand the political philosophy that values individual liberty and personal responsibility and fears an overly powerful government.

In criticizing those who believe Obamacare would lead to “death panels” to decide who’s worthy of taxpayer-funded health care, Klein relates a personal story about a conversation with his dad:

It wasn't easy. My dad is very proud and independent. He didn't really want to talk about what came next. He was pretty sure, but not certain, that he'd signed a living will. He was very reluctant to sign an enduring power of attorney to empower me, or my brother, to make decisions about his care and my mom's if he were incapacitated. I tried to convince him that it was important to make some plans, but I didn't have the strategic experience that a professional would have — and, in his eyes, I didn't have the standing. I may be a grandfather myself, but I'm still just a kid in my dad's mind. Clearly, an independent, professional authority figure was needed. And this is what the "death panels" are all about: making end-of-life counseling free and available through Medicare. (I'd make it mandatory, based on recent experience, but hey, I'm not entirely clearheaded on the subject right now.)

In other words, Klein would rather avoid a tough and uncomfortable conversation and leave his dad’s decisions about the future in the hands of a government bureaucrat, one with “strategic experience.”

I’ve discovered that I have at least one thing in common with Joe Klein’s 89-year-old dad: Neither one of us wants Joe to have any kind of power over our lives.

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:28 AM

The first Carolina Journal Online exclusive of the week features Joe Coletti's reaction to the news that North Carolina's unemployment continues to linger at 11 percent.

John Hood's Daily Journal flashes back to an earlier discussion of Chinese philosophy and killing copperheads ... with a soundtrack from TV's Benson. 

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