The Locker Room

January 3, 2011

Hood documents state budget crises for latest issue of National Affairs

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:08 PM

North Carolina's budget situation is bad, but John Hood explains in the latest issue of National Affairs that 2011 marks a "year of reckoning" for most state governments across the country.

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In favor of the "Repeal Amendment"

Posted by George Leef at 1:02 PM

Professor Randy Barnett has advanced the idea of a new amendment to the Constitution to provide that if enough states concur, federal legislation will be repealed. This editorial in the Washington Examiner makes a good case for it.

About a week ago, the New York Times ran a piece on Barnett's proposal and it drew the usual demented letters from its readers. One accused "tea party types" of hypocrisy for favoring the amendment, claiming that they're supposed to be crazy about the Constitution -- so how can they be in favor of this amendment?
The obvious answer is that part of the Constitution is its provision for amendments. The Founders understood that in the future the people might find it necessary to change their governing charter. Since it has become crystal clear that the Founders' plan for limited government based on enumerated powers and checks and balances against overreach and usurpation has been wrecked, it is entirely appropriate that we should amend the Constitution to remedy the problem.

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Rucho, Hartsell to lead N.C. Senate's tax-writing committee

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 12:21 AM

From Sen. Phil Berger's office:

Rucho, Hartsell Will Chair Finance

Raleigh, N.C. – Senate Republican Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) announced today that upon convening the 2011-2012 session of the General Assembly he will name Sen. Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg) and Sen. Fletcher Hartsell (R-Cabarrus) as Co-Chairmen of the Senate Finance Committee. The Finance Committee oversees the state’s tax system and controls the way in which state government collects revenue.

Sen. Berger said, “Senators Rucho and Hartsell are both capable, experienced legislators ready to lead the Senate Finance Committee with a clear vision for putting our state’s economy back on firm footing.”

“Ensuring that we have a tax system in place that encourages growth in the private sector and does not antagonize businesses who want to find a home in North Carolina is our number one priority,” said Sen. Rucho.

Sen. Hartsell said, “If we are going to get our economy moving in the right direction once again and awaken job creation efforts in the private sector, we have to improve our state’s business climate.”

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On the origins of RTP

Posted by George Leef at 12:03 AM

In today's Pope Center piece Jay Schalin explores the origins of RTP.

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Dewey the Dupe, one of many

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 11:01 AM

This is an excellent review of Paul Kengor's book Dupes: How America's Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century from the folks at What Would the Founders Think?

The goal, from the early days of the Revolution, was to spread Communism by using influential elites in other nations.  The American effort started in 1919, only months after the establishment of the Comintern in Moscow.  (The Communist International (Comintern) was centralized under Moscow leadership and had “uncontested authority” over the Communist Parties established all over the world.)

The author chronicles the progressives – educators, academics, journalists and union organizers — eagerness to come and view the wonders of Communism. And come they did, by the boatloads.  The puppet masters prepared lists of liberal university professors and college presidents likely to carry a positive impression back to the states. Documents in the Comintern archives spell out the strategies used on these “arranged” tours.

One of the most important dupes imported to Moscow was the renowned educator John Dewey.  Dewey, during his long tenure at Columbia University, influenced the training of generations of public school teachers, and not for the better.  Kengor quotes Georgetown University political theorist George W. Casey who observed, “We cannot come close to understanding why our public education system is in such a wretched state without examining John Dewey’s philosophy.”

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ObamaCare apologists sing the praises of the Filburn case

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:07 AM

Explain the details of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1942 decision in Wickard v. Filburn to most people, and you’re likely to encounter either disbelief or outrage.

The nation’s highest court really ruled that a farmer could not grow wheat on his own land for his own consumption because that act would have an impact on interstate commerce? Yes.

As a new Bloomberg Businessweek article demonstrates, some of those promoting the constitutionality of ObamaCare are pointing to Filburn as a worthwhile precedent. Perhaps these advocates would benefit from reading The Dirty Dozen. a recent account of the worst decisions — including the Filburn case — that the Supreme Court ever perpetrated on the American people.

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When one bad idea just isn’t enough

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:06 AM

We know government-owned, taxpayer-subsidized convention centers generally turn out to be “money pits.” It’s becoming increasingly clear that government intervention into the health care sector leads to plenty of negative unintended consequences.

So leave it to the city elders of Cleveland — “Hello, Cleveland!” — to attempt to boost the city’s economic fortunes through a $465 million Medical Mart & Convention Center.

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Is ObamaCare constitutional?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:05 AM

Peter Coy makes the case for the affirmative in the latest Bloomberg Businessweek, ignoring the argument that an individual mandate that “attempts to regulate commercial ‘inactivity’” opens the door for Congress to mandate anything and everything.

For an alternative view, watch Daren Bakst’s recent presentation to the John Locke Foundation’s Shaftesbury Society.

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Barone on personal well-being and income inequality

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:03 AM

Michael Barone's latest Washington Examiner article attempts to answer the question: Why are Americans seemingly unconcerned about growing income inequality? 

One reason is that economic statistics can miss important things that affect people's lives. Wages may not have risen much since 1973, but that's partly because the tax code encourages increased compensation in the form of benefits, including health insurance. And it's partly because the Consumer Price Index overstated the effect of inflation in the 1970s, making 1973 wages look higher in "real dollars."

Another is that inflation indexes can't fully account for product improvement and technological progress. I bought my first electronic calculator in 1970 for $110. Today you can buy the same gadget for $1.99 at your local drug store. The consumer electronics widely available today at declining prices simply didn't exist in the 1980s.

In addition, as George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen writes in the American Interest, "The inequality of personal well-being is sharply down over the past hundred years and perhaps over the past twenty years as well." Bill Gates may have a bigger house than you do. But you have about the same access to good food, medical care and even to the Internet as he does.

Or consider something as prosaic as food. The supermarkets of the 1960s and 1970s didn't come close to matching the amazing selection of produce, meats and exotic foods as you find in supermarkets today -- and not just in high-income neighborhoods but in modest-income places all over the country.

Or clothing. Stores like Walmart, Target and Kohl's sell good quality clothes at astonishingly low prices; you can outfit a kid in school clothes for $100 or so a year. Presidential candidate John Edwards claimed to have seen a little girl shivering in the winter because her parents could not buy a coat; you can get one for $5 at the Salvation Army.

It's a widespread assumption in some affluent circles that ordinary Americans are seething with envy because they can't afford to shop regularly at Neiman Marcus or Saks Fifth Avenue. My sense is that most Americans just don't care. They're reasonably happy with what they've got, and would like a little more.

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Another great letter to the editor by Boudreaux

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 09:04 AM

Here’s a letter to the editor of USA Today:

You quote the parting words of several “retiring” or fired U.S. Senators (“Retiring members of Congress bid adieu,” Dec. 31).  Each is too verbose.  The most appropriate parting message goes something like this: “For years I’ve spent other people’s money and butted into other people’s business.  I return now to spending only my own money and minding my own business.”

Donald J. Boudreaux

Alas, too many of these self-important clowns will become highly paid human corridors to the new gaggle of self-important clowns officially officed on Capitol Hill….

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