The Locker Room

October 30, 2006

Regulatory takings

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 9:02 PM

Some of the major news magazines are offering an interesting take on the "regulatory takings" measures on the ballots of four western states.

When I say interesting, I mean the articles offer a conspicuously statist perspective.

For those unfamiliar with the votes planned in Arizona, California, Idaho, and Washington, the idea is relatively simple: if the government makes a decision that cuts your property values, you deserve compensation.

The Kelo case served as the spark for the debate, but the measures cover more than just eminent domain cases.

U.S. News describes the "regulatory takings" measures as supporting a "radical property-rights agenda." Meanwhile, TIME raises its own concerns:

California's Proposition 90, says Chris McKenzie, executive director of the California League of Cities, "is designed to eliminate virtually all government regulation." Environmentalists say that if it passes, California's coastal commission, unable to compensate everyone who wants to build along the oceanfront, would no longer be able to protect it from ugly McMansions and ensure public beach access. And developers could build homes on dangerously steep slopes or plop factories into residential neighborhoods. More imaginatively, the nonpartisan California Budget Project argues that because Prop 90 applies to consumer-protection laws, if the state restricted ATM fees, it would have to compensate banks for the revenue they would lose because of the capped charges.

Sounds bad, doesn't it? But wait:

Many of the claims are "hysterical gibberish," maintains Prop 90 spokesman Kevin Spillane, noting that compensation would be required only for "substantial" damage to property values. The initiative exempts health and safety regulations, he points out, and current zoning laws would still apply, protecting beaches and steep slopes, for instance. As for future laws, he argues, "if you own a piece of property that's zoned one way, then it is unfair for the government to change the rules."

The story's last paragraph is its best:

For Robert Blue [a Hollywood shop owner targeted for an eminent domain taking] ... the issue is fairness, whether the government seizes land or merely passes a law affecting the value of a home or business. "If you make an investment and the rules change," he says, "you should be compensated." It's up to his fellow taxpayers in California and the three other states to decide whether they are ready to pay up. 

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The wild world of ballot initiatives

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 8:27 PM

Lest we think that Election Day is all about deciding which party should control Congress, TIME reminds us of some other weighty measures on the ballot across the nation. 

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News from the Gizz-ette

Posted by John Hood at 6:58 PM

John Gizzi, reporter for Human Events and one of the panelists at the John Locke Foundation's upcoming post-election luncheon, is predicting that Republicans will hold on to a narrow majority in the next U.S. House. He expects a 12-seat gain by Democrats.

Yes, one of the Republican incumbents Gizzi expects to be defeated is Rep. Charles Taylor, R-11th.

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'Everyday people with jobs and careers'

Posted by Paul Chesser at 1:52 PM

'Marie,' a misunderstood Wiccan, would certainly find love and acceptance in the North Carolina General Assembly, don't you think?

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The cost of college keeps rising

Posted by George Leef at 1:44 PM

Today's New York Sun has a splendid op-ed by Rich Vedder and Bryan O'Keefe of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. You can read it here.

They point out that although the average increase in tuition at four-year state universities rose somewhat less last year than the previous year (according to new figures from The College Board), that is still substantially above the rate of inflation. In fact, the cost of college has been rising faster than inflation for many years.

There is lots of hand-wringing over the affordability problem, with the higher ed establishment usually looking to government and saying, "You've just got to do something to make college more affordable." As Vedder argues in his book Going Broke by Degree, very few institutions of higher education have any incentive to keep costs down for students and naturally turn to government to subsidize students so more of them can attend. Hardly ever do we see college administrators taking serious steps to get more educational value for each dollar spent. Consequently, we find the country spending more and more on higher education, but students on the whole seem to learn less than they did 30, 40, 50 years ago.

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Most Americans agree

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 1:39 PM

CNN even buries its own poll results. The network's latest poll was released last Friday with two stunning results:

Queried about their views on the role of government, 54 percent of the 1,013 adults polled said they thought it was trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Only 37 percent said they thought the government should do more to solve the country's problems.

and

A slight majority -- 51 percent -- said they thought that [promoting traditional values] was an appropriate activity for government, while 43 percent said it should not favor any particular set of values.

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Abe able to reform

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 1:18 PM

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering school vouchers.

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A Jihad Christmas

Posted by Jon Ham at 11:49 AM

Kim Priestap at Wizbang links to a video sendup of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" that you could never show in Denmark. Or France. Or Germany. Or Britain.  See it while you can. YouTube has already flagged it as offensive so it may not last.

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Wal-Mart and the minimum wage

Posted by George Leef at 11:30 AM

Writing on the website of The Foundation for Economic Education (now there is a truly Sisyphean task), Professor Gary Galles examines the apparently odd fact that Wal-Mart has come out in favor of a higher minimum wage. Read it here.

Wal-Mart doesn't want the interference of labor unions in its management, but sees nothing wrong with the feds interfering in the pricing of labor, which will have little or no impact on it, but could be detrimental to some smaller competitors. Same old nasty game of trying to use government for your own benefit.

Galles makes all of the good, usual arguments against raising (or even having) the minimum wage except this. When government dictates minimum or maximum prices for anything, it intrudes on what ought to be a completely private matter. The government has no more business deciding what the minimum wage will be than it has in coming around to people's yard sales and deciding that their posted prices are too high or too low. Whether people want to transact and what values they come to assign to the goods or services exchanged should never be a matter for coercive interference by third parties.

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How will investors vote next week?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:24 AM

U.S. News asks that question this week.

I found especially interesting the following passage:

Democrats will correctly point out that stocks have historically done better when their party has controlled the White House than when the GOP has. So why do investors keep favoring Republicans? A recent study offers this possible explanation: While past Democratic presidents may have pursued market-friendly policies, investors stubbornly expect future ones not to. One reason may be that the GOP tends to aggressively support more favorable treatment of capital gains and dividend income. Rates for both were cut in 2003.

By contrast, Kerry vice presidential candidate John Edwards, a possible 2008 White House contender, has advocated raising capital-gains rates for wealthier investors. 

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RE: So long....I hope not

Posted by Dr. Karen Y. Palasek at 10:45 AM

Hopefully, some enterprising soul will recognize the inherent cultural and educational value of these endangered birds, and rescue them from oblivion. My graduate school economics education would have been entirely different, for example, had I (and cohorts) not been able to extract several flamingoes from their assigned task—demonstrating 'pride of ownership' for insurance purposes on the front lawn at one professor's run-down home—to arrange them artfully on the front lawn of another professor's upscale property (to early morning horror of he and his neighbors). The economic lesson in this adventure? Value is subjective. Yes, it certainly is.

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So long, plastic pink flamingo

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 09:49 AM

It's the end of an era

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Liberal vs. conservative

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:57 AM

You might remember reading this passage earlier this year:

John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation, a free-market-loving conservative think tank, wouldn't mind being called the dreaded L-word -- liberal.

That sentence helped open Jim Nesbitt's May News & Observer story about political labels.

That discussion rattled around my brain as I read the entries on "liberalism" and "liberalism, classical" in American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia (ISI Books, 2006).

Peter Augustine Lawler's discussion of liberalism focuses on Locke's liberal theories:

[T]he foundation of all human obedience is consent; the individual agrees to be ruled in order to have his rights protected better than he could protect them on his own.

The individual is the basis of liberal or limited government. The purpose of such government is the protection of rights, no more and no less. The individual consents to that government not as a member of a race, class, gender, or religion; the government views him as being free from all such oppressive attachments. Government protects the economic, religious, and intellectual liberty of this individual.

Later, Lawler writes:

Franklin Roosevelt successfully renamed laissez-faire liberals -- those who opposed the New Deal regulations of the economy on behalf of the unfortunate -- conservatives. Nineteenth-century liberalism then became, in large measure, twentieth-century conservatism.

I've oversimplified his argument by quoting that paragraph alone, but you get the sense that the terms "liberal" and "conservative" have had changing meanings.

Meanwhile, Ralph Raico writes in a separate entry:

"Classical liberalism" is the term used to designate an ideology advocating private property, an unhampered market economy, the rule of law, constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and of the press, and international peace based on free trade.

One can see from this description similarities (but not total agreement) between classical liberalism and the most common forms of present-day conservatism. 

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Cary Among Safest Cities in America

Posted by Geoff Lawrence at 08:49 AM

According to the annual report recently released by Morgan Quinto Press, Cary, NC is the eight safest city in America.  Charlotte doesn't rank as well, however, and is rated the eighth most dangerous city with a population over 500,000.  A summary of Morgan Quinto's findings is provided here.

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Speaking of global warming...

Posted by Jon Ham at 07:46 AM

A GM of a TV station in Maine sees the global warming story for what it is:

Michael Palmer told the joint news staff of WVII and WFVX in an e-mail that global warming stories are like "'the killer African bee scare' from the 1970s or, more recently, the Y2K scare when everyone's computer was going to self-destruct."

Further:

Palmer called the news report a commercial for Gore. He said the global warming issue had "evolved from hard science into hard politics" and "this science is far from conclusive."

Predictable that some staffer at the station immediately emailed The New York Times. Now, if the GM had ordered them to print classified material that endangered American servicemen, the staffer would have sat on his hands.

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