The Locker Room

May 3, 2010

The facts vs. the hype regarding climate change

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:50 PM

Even the most well-intentioned climate scientists can produce bad policy recommendations, since they often focus solely on the importance of their own work.

That was one of the key points Richard Stroup offered during today's presentation to the John Locke Foundation's Shaftesbury Society. Stroup, an adjunct professor of economics at N.C. State University, worked with his colleague Eric Alston of the Political Economy Research Institute to develop the presentation on the science and history of climate change.

In the video clip below, Stroup explains how experts' tunnel vision can lead them astray.

4:20 p.m. update: Watch the entire 53:01 presentation by clicking play below.

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

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State screws up high risk pool

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 3:18 PM

Gov. Perdue did not take my advice and you and I will pay the price.

Instead of rejecting another unfunded federal program, North Carolina will expand its high risk insurance pool. This pool, called Inclusive Health, helps those with pre-existing conditions purchase insurance at rates 50% higher than the average person. The new health care law lowers the premium to patients to the same rate as the average person, which means the insurance companies need more money from the government to cover their costs.

The federal government will provide cash to cover this amount. That money was supposed to subsidize premiums for people with pre-existing conditions until the health insurance exchanges start in 2014, but federal officials admit there is only enough money to last until 2012. So the state will be back on its own for two years, paying higher subsidies than if it had kept its current program unchanged and let the federal government pick up the rest.

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Latest dispatches from the campaign trail

Posted by Sara Burrows at 11:32 AM

  • The Charlotte Observer makes its endorsements for area races.
  • Dem candidates in Senate-3 continue to jab one another leading into the
  • Charlotte Observer endorses Lou Huddleston.
  • Sanderson raises $12,000 in attempt to unseat Underhill.
  • Basnight and other incumbents lead fundraisers in eastern North Carolina.
  • Basnight speaks about illegal immigration. 
  • Underfunded Dems fight to challenge Rebublican Sen. Richard Burr.


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Charter school group calls for 'intelligent increases'

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:57 AM

The N.C. Alliance for Public Charter Schools is calling on the General Assembly to eliminate its statewide cap of 100 charters.

In a morning news conference, the alliance also unveiled "The Intelligent Increase Initiative," which outlines three potential exemptions to the existing cap. Click play below to watch the 19:53 news briefing. 

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Big Hospital collusion under investigation in Massachusetts

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 10:44 AM

The problem with regulations is that they give more power to a few people and raise costs for the rest of us. Certificate of Need (CON) in North Carolina limits competition from new hospitals that could challenge existing players and reduce costs for insurers and patients. A federal investigation of hospital-insurer negotiations in Boston illustrates the problems with overly powerful hospitals and provider networks.

Our new health care law will all but ban physician-owned specialty hospitals and so limit further the market's ability to restrain health care price inflation.

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I guess it does pay to do your homework...

Posted by Amanda Vuke at 09:59 AM

Peggy Lucero was nabbed by a speed camera in a 30-mile-per-hour zone on Route 355 in Gaithersburg. Instead of paying the $40 fee like most Maryland motorists, Lucero dug up records on camera maintenance and asked the State Highway Administration to validate the area's speed limit.


Maryland law requires police to test speed cameras for proper functioning daily. But Lucero discovered the camera that ticketed her wasn't tested the day it photographed her license plate.


She brought the camera logs and speed study to court, and the judge promptly tossed her ticket.

"I devoted five months of my life to unearthing the contradictory and circuitous path of trying to find justice in this mess," Lucero said.

That's some dedication. Read the full story here.

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Picking Winners & Losers

Posted by Jenna Ashley Robinson at 09:32 AM

The federal government has decided that alternative fuels are the next big thing--so NCSU is getting in on the action (read: government largesse).

According to an NCSU press release:

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) has awarded a grant for more than $2.7 million to North Carolina State University to support research into the creation of biofuels using microbial organisms, called extremophiles, that live in high-temperature environments.
I'm not saying that extremophiles won't revolutionize energy--they might. But, given government's track record, I wouldn't bet on it.

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Casual smokers pay higher cigarette taxes

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:21 AM

Authors of a new paper on cigarette excise taxes find that people who smoke more -- the authors call them "consumers who undertake more price search" -- pay less of the excise tax than people who smoke less. The heavier smokers purchase cartons or purchase multiple cartons from lower tax states. This behavior can leave states with less revenue than expected.

If the goal of higher cigarette taxes is to help people quit smoking, it might only help the people who would have found it easiest to quit anyway -- "non-daily smokers, less addicted smokers, and smokers of light cigarettes." Those who start in one of these categories and decide they like or need the tobacco more may find it to be perversely cheaper to smoke more.

This, again, is why the state might reintroduce tobacco stamps.

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North Carolina cop Scott Hunter “nanny of the month"

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 08:20 AM Nanny of the Month for April 2010: Anti-Flag N.C. Cop Scott Hunter

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JLF first to discuss study of busing in Wake County

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:37 AM

Keung Hui of the News & Observer writes,

Wake County's schools became more racially segregated over the past decade as the number of high-poverty schools increased despite the school district's nationally recognized diversity policy, according to a study presented Sunday at a national conference.

The University of Georgia professors who worked on the study tracked how the number of schools not meeting the district's diversity goal has more than tripled. They found that lack of political will and explosive growth limited the district's ability to carry out the policy.

"The people who moved into the area were not as committed to the diversity policy," said Sheneka Williams, who co-authored the study. "The political will wasn't there."
I do not buy the thesis that carpetbaggers were to blame for the districts inability to maintain busing targets. The researchers fail to make the case that the "people who moved into the area" actively opposed busing efforts. After all, voters continued to elect pro-busing candidates throughout the high growth years.

Anyway, I mentioned the above study in October.
In a September 11, 2009 memo from Assistant Superintendent David Holdzkom to Superintendent Del Burns, Holdzkom lists external research projects approved and not approved by his Evaluation and Research office. Holdzkom's office did not approve a project on race, class, and student assignment proposed by Sheneka Williams of the University of Georgia.
Did you really think Holdzkom would approve any study of the so-called "successful" busing policy?

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Barack Obama’s ‘neosocialism’

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:44 AM

Jonah Goldberg takes for granted the notion that President Obama’s policies represent a form of socialism. The question Goldberg poses in the latest Commentary is: what kind of socialism?

His “perhaps too playful” suggestion is “neosocialism.”

In many respects, Barack Obama’s neo-socialism is neoconservatism’s mirror image. Openly committed to ending the Reagan era, Obama is a firm believer in the power of government to extend its scope and grasp far deeper into society. In much the same way that neoconservatives accepted a realistic and limited role for the government, Obama tolerates a limited and realistic role for the market: its wealth is necessary for the continuation and expansion of the welfare state and social justice. While neoconservatism erred on the side of trusting the nongovernmental sphere—mediating institutions like markets, civil society, and the family—neosocialism gives the benefit of the doubt to government. Whereas neoconservatism was inherently skeptical of the ability of social planners to repeal the law of unintended consequences, Obama’s ideal is to leave social policy in their hands and to bemoan the interference of the merely political.

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Silent Cal's broad appeal

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:43 AM

One suspects Houston Mayor Annise Parker made the list of TIME’s “100 Most Influential People In The World” for reasons other than her citation of Calvin Coolidge. Still, it’s nice to read the following:

It's not every Democrat who quotes Calvin Coolidge after spending 100 days in office as mayor of Houston. But then Annise Parker, 53, has never fit the mold. She's a demure, pearl-wearing lesbian businesswoman with three kids and a longtime partner. When she quoted Silent Cal in her first state of the city address, in April, saying, "There is no dignity quite so impressive and no independence quite so important as living within your means," it was a sign she would focus on her city's $100 million budget shortfall during her time in office. And so she has. The fourth largest city in the U.S. is having its belt dramatically tightened.

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Even the sports scribes aren’t safe

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:42 AM

If you’re a frequent reader of this forum, you’ve seen frequent references to the decline of traditional print news media and the possibilities for future alternatives.

Now there’s word in Bloomberg Business Week of a related trend that could free up seating in sports venues (and cause substantial damage to the bottom line of comfort-food buffet caterers across the country): sports stories can write themselves.

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Don’t just do something …

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:41 AM

James Warren of Bloomberg Business Week decries the U.S. Senate’s record of inaction this year. More than 300 pieces of legislation have cleared the House and sit in limbo in the Senate.

Warren doesn’t seem to recognize that if the alternative is bad legislation or no legislation, the latter choice looks pretty good. Thomas Woods discussed this issue in addressing federal stimulus spending.

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Constitutional challenges

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:40 AM

The latest edition of Hillsdale College’s Imprimis features comments from Michigan state Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman, a former Reagan administration assistant attorney general.

Markman discusses a half dozen problems associated with the notion of the “living Constitution.” Among them is “the prospect of transforming the Constitution from a guarantor of ‘negative liberties’ into a charter of ‘affirmative government.’”

As various advocates of a 21st century constitution have urged, a privilege or immunity might be interpreted to allow the invention of a host of new “rights,” and thus be construed to guarantee social or economic equality. However pleasing this might sound to some people, there should be no mistake: adopting this interpretation will supplant representative decision-making with the decision-making of unelected, unaccountable, and life-tenured judges. Should the privileges or immunities clause be used in this way, as a charter of positive rights, ours will become an America in which citizens are constitutionally entitled to their neighbors’ possessions; in which economic redistribution has become as ingrained a principle as federalism and the separation of powers; in which the great constitutional issues of the day will focus on whether porridge should be subsidized and housing allowances reimbursed at 89 or 94 percent of the last fiscal year level; and in which a succession of new “rights” will be parceled out as people are deemed worthy of them by berobed lawyers in the judiciary.

For an alternative to the “living Constitution,” you might appreciate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s remarks from a 2007 speech in Cary on originalism.

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In case you missed him ...

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:39 AM

Terry Stoops critiqued North Carolina's "High School Turnaround" efforts for a WTVD report over the weekend.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:23 AM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Don Carrington's update on the likely demise of a controversial "eco-farm" project in Macon County. 

John Hood's Daily Journal reminds us "what politics is really all about."

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