From the state Republican Party, partly in response to recent news about depositions in a lawsuit filed against the Easley administration over e-mail records:
Fetzer Calls for Dismissal of Two High Ranking State Officials and for Perdue to Provide Easier Access to Public Records
“It’s time that ‘Business as Usual Bev’ started backing up her rhetoric when it comes to ethics and transparency.” - Tom Fetzer NCGOP Chairman
RALEIGH—NCGOP Chairman Tom Fetzer today called on Governor Bev Perdue to remove from their positions Alvin Keller, Secretary of the Department of Corrections, and Reuben Young, Secretary of the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety. Fetzer also called on Perdue to convene a panel of journalists to determine barriers to access to public records and have those barriers lifted immediately.
Fetzer referenced Young’s time serving as former Governor Mike Easley’s Chief Legal Council, saying that Young failed to properly investigate claims that the Governor’s office instructed employees to delete emails. Fetzer charged that “Young either orchestrated the cover-up or observed it with a casual indifference.”
Fetzer also noted Young’s inclusion in the recent Ruffin Poole indictment, where Young failed to properly investigate the Easley staffer about being taken on a private jet to New Orleans for a bachelor party thrown by an Easley supporter.
Fetzer said Young is a “holdover from the incompetence and corruption of the Easley administration” and that Perdue should dismiss him from his current post immediately.
Fetzer outlined Keller’s lack of results as the head of Corrections, including his poor handling of problems surrounding the state’s probation system.
Keller had made filling vacancies of parole officers his #1 priority; but the number of parole officers actually went down during his tenure. Recently, Keller has refused media requests to release records showing the details of supervision of those out on probation and backpedaled on his ordered to release prisoners who were sentenced to life in prison.
According to Fetzer, a lack of internal checks and balances has left it to the media and private “watchdog” groups to uncover corruption in state government. Fetzer said he believed even more problems would be discovered if access to public records was easier. He proposed that the Governor put together a panel of journalist and members of concerned citizens groups to identify the obstacles that stand in the way of access to public records.
“The governor should listen to common sense recommendations from those who know what the obstacles are and then, using whatever is within her power as Governor, implement reform by executive order.”
“Bev Perdue has called herself the ‘Education Governor’ and then promptly signed a budget that slashed education. She called herself the ‘Jobs Governor’ when unemployment increased on her watch.
It’s time ‘Business as Usual Bev’ started backing up her rhetoric when it comes to ethics and transparency,” Fetzer concluded.
The Washington Examiner has an excellent editorial dissecting the latest unemployment numbers. As we all know, January's unemployment rate fell to 9.7%. Of course these are preliminary numbers and it is clear from past experience that the truth is not likely to be so rosy. But assuming that this latest report is accurate, facts behind the overall number are not encouraging. According to the Examiner:
"The number of new jobs is actually declining. Total nonfarm payroll
employment, for example, dipped by an additional 20,000 positions after
a December decline of 150,000 positions."
"The percent of the unemployed who are out of work for 27 weeks or more exceeded 41%, an all-time high."
"the labor force participation rate is the lowest since mid-1985." And here's the kicker:
"The federal civil service is rapidly expanding as Obama increases the
size of government, with 33,000 new positions being added in January
alone. Only 9,000 of those new slots were for temporary census jobs."
As I have pointed out here and here, the stimulus package cannot create on net any new employment opportunities. All it can do is destroy jobs in one place and transfer them to another, i.e., to the government itself or to government subsidized industries (can you say green jobs?). So all this proves is that the Obama administration cannot defy gravity--or the economic laws of scarcity and opportunity costs.
As the American government erects new barriers for people who want to start businesses, countries like New Zealand take a different approach.
That was one of the messages Chad Adams delivered during his presentation today to the John Locke Foundation's Shaftesbury Society. Adams, a freelance writer and public policy consultant who's a former JLF vice president, discussed his recent trip to New Zealand.
In this video clip, he discusses that country's business-friendly economic statistics.
Longtime Newsweek columnist Robert Samuelson's latest piece does a masterful job of laying out the facts on the fiscal crisis facing the country and the massive “candor gap” afflicting leaders of both parties. Some key points:
First, from 2011 to 2020, the administration projects total federal
spending of $45.8 trillion against taxes and receipts of $37.3
trillion. The $8.5 trillion deficit is almost a fifth of spending. In
the last year (2020), the gap is $1 trillion, again approaching a
fifth: spending is $5.7 trillion, taxes $4.7 trillion. All amounts
assume a full economic recovery; all projections may be optimistic. The
message: There's a huge mismatch between Americans' desire for low
taxes and high government services.
Second, almost $20 trillion of the $45.8 trillion of spending
involves three programs -- Social Security, Medicare (health insurance
for those 65 and over) and Medicaid (health insurance for the poor --
two-thirds goes to the elderly and disabled). The message: The budget
is mainly a vehicle for transferring income to retirees from workers,
who pay most taxes. As more baby boomers retire in the 2020s, deficits
Third, there is no way to close the massive deficits
without big cuts in existing government programs or stupendous tax
increases. Suppose we decided to cover all future deficits by raising
taxes. Taxes would rise in the 2020s by roughly 50 percent from the
average 1970-2009 tax burden.
That's the guts of it. At age 65, average Americans live for another
18 years. Government now subsidizes each of them an average of about
$25,000 a year (almost $14,000 Social Security, $11,000 Medicare). We
cannot sensibly afford all these subsidies without oppressive tax
increases (see above), deep cuts in defense and other programs or
immense budget deficits that someday might trigger another financial
FEE notes here an article in the Washington Times that states that 1.4 million workers will be hired by the Census Bureau to put their noses in your personal business. FEE also links an article by Larry Reed about the 2000 census. Larry notes the opposition to the intrusive questions in the modern census and that they are not required by the Constitution.
While Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt says it’s your “civic
duty” to complete the 2000 census form, not everybody thinks so. The
Libertarian Party captured some headlines when its national director,
Steve Dasbach, declared in January, “Real Americans don’t answer nosy
Census questions. You can strike a blow for privacy, equality, and
liberty by refusing to answer every question on the Census form except
the one required by the Constitution: How many people live in your
home?” Noting the real purpose of most of the long form’s queries,
Dasbach said, “Census information is used to forge the chains that bind
Americans to failed government programs, meddlesome bureaucracies, and
sky-high tax rates.”
I was selected for the long census form for the mid-term census in 2005. I completed the form with the number of people in the household and for good measure added our sex and age. (I was tempted to say "name, rank and serial number" because that is a more accurate description of the relationship between citizens and the federal government.) The remainder of the 20-page form I left blank and mailed it in. After months of letters and harassing phone calls, I told the caller that would fulfill the constitutional requirement and nothing more. He said that it was against the law to refuse to fill out the entire form. After a lengthy discussion of the constitutional purpose of the census and continued reminders that I was breaking the law, I finally said that he needed to do what he needed to do and I would do what I needed to do. I followed up with a letter that stated my constitutional reasons and for refusing to fill out all of the detailed questions. I stated that I was especially horrified by the racial questions because they were similar to the records kept by Nazi Germany. I copied my congressman and Senators McCain and Kyl. Since then I have not heard from them.
I wonder if it is illegal to urge people to fulfill their constitutional responsibility by giving the Census Bureau only the number of people in the household?
Indeed, something is broken, but as Sheldon Richman observes in this razor sharp column Obama can only imagine that "fixing" Washington means enabling the government to grow faster, taking more of our wealth and arrogating more power to itself.
Probably the most confused ad in last night's Super Bowl was the Audi "Green Police" commercial. It starts with a concept that is too realistic to be funny since it is already illegal in some places to choose a plastic bag or put a plastic bottle in a landfill, then shows that you can appease the green police by driving a clean-burning diesel. Even environmentalists have to go through logical contortions to find the positive message and they are the target market.
I can't see how the ad makes anyone happy. There's no clear indication that driving the car will get you a pass if you commit even a minor environmental crime/sin. Imagine Apple's 1984 ad being for IBM and the hammer thrower being the bad guy, though with a lighter tone. Watch the ad below and see for yourself.
A side-bar to the News & Observer's coverage of the John Edwards' sex tape scandal gives us a clue as to where Rielle Hunter might be.
Those who have followed this story will know that Edwards' had his aide, Andrew Young, ferry Hunter to various ritzy locales in an effort to keep her hidden from media scrutiny. It seems that's continuing:
As recently as last weekend, Hunter was in Blowing Rock at a mountain hideaway owned by retired Judge Bob Collier, a Statesville businessman chosen last month to be chairman of the N.C. Board of Transportation.
Collier, 79, said his son knows Hunter through the horse show circuit.
"She is a good friend of my son's," Collier said. "Not a romantic friend, but a platonic friend."
Collier said he had no idea where Hunter was Friday morning.
The latest TIMEprofiles Douglas Elmendorf, the Congressional Budget Office director whose staff — when doing its job correctly — spoils politicians’ recurring dreams of offering free lunches to voters.
Here’s one of the more interesting passages:
The latest dose of reality from Elmendorf's CBO: a forecast that the federal deficit will reach $1.35 trillion this year — $4,400 for every American. All that red ink means the overall debt will rise to $8.8 trillion by the end of 2010, or about 60% of gross domestic product — the highest level of public debt since 1952. "There's a fundamental disconnect between the level of benefits that people want the government to provide, particularly for older Americans, and the amount of resources that people want to send to Washington to pay for those benefits," Elmendorf says. "To make the fiscal policies sustainable will require some resolution of that fundamental disconnect."
That assessment makes sense. It’s unfortunate that statist politicians are unwilling to allow political debate to focus on the choice Elmendorf’s statement implies: the choice between an expensive government with lots of “benefits” and a leaner government that offers fewer “benefits.”
One suspects that most people place a higher priority on spending their own money in ways they choose than on funding government programs that sound good only when someone else is footing the bill.
Roy Cordato has discussed the “cruel hoax” associated with efforts to raise the minimum wage. The latest print version of National Review includes an excellent article from Kevin D. Williamson explaining how — like other Democratic Party policies — the minimum wage “stands between its most loyal constituents and the jobs they need.”
Who are those most loyal constituents? The article’s headline is “Keeping Blacks Poor.”
Here’s one of Williamson’s most compelling arguments, which references young black man named Will who spent three hours selling candy on the New York City subway to clear a $20 profit:
[I]’ts not just that the minimum wage prices so low-productivity workers out of the labor market: It’s that it prevents entry into the labor market in the first place for the most marginal would-be workers. If Will the candy hustler’s real economic output is worth $6.67 an hour, his implied wage on the subway, he’s unemployable with a $7.25 minimum wage. He can sell candy on the subway, but he can’t sell candy for Big Camdy Corp., make connections, learn what it’s like to go to an office every day and have a boss, get references, get promoted, and sign up for the tuition-reimbursement program. And that, not the paltry lost income of a minimum-wage job, is the price he pays. Very few American workers actually earn the minimum wage — about 1 percent, in fact — but the minimum-wage job is a gateway into the labor force for many young workers. The value of your first job isn’t the money you earn from it: It’s your second job, and your third. With the right experience and network, a candyman like Will can do well fr himself. But without that first job, he has a much higher chance of becoming a statistical blip on the long-term unemployment charts than a middle manager at Hershey or a salesman at Cadbury.
It’s no surprise that an article in the latest print version of National Review paints an unflattering portrait of the “progressive” political orientation.
But Matthew Spalding’s piece doesn’t engage in pointless name-calling. Instead Spalding explains why the siren song of progressivism offers such a strong appeal to those who believe government initiatives can counteract or even overcome human nature:
Progressives viewed the Constitution as a dusty 18th-century plan unsuited for the modern day. Its basic mechanisms were obsolete and inefficient; it was a reactionary document, designed to stifle change. The believed that just as science and reason had brought technological changes and new methods of study to the physical world, they would also bring great improvements to politics and society. For this to be possible, however, government could not be restricted to securing a few natural rights or exercising certain limited powers. Instead, government must become dynamic, constantly changing and growing to pursue the ceaseless objective of progress.
The latest Business Week features an article that demonstrates clearly why increased government control over our health-care decisions should scare us.
As the subheadine in the print version of the story declares: “Washington wants to pump big money into so-called disease management, though there’s scant evidence that it works.”
Here’s a key passage:
A decade ago General Electric experimented with a promising approach to employee health care known as disease management. It hired a company to talk with workers in North Carolina who suffered from heart disease. Nurses called to encourage them to take their medication and get moderate exercise as a way to avoid expensive hospital stays. Around the same time, large corporations in many industries began paying for similar disease-management programs to keep employees healthier and cut costs. "It seemed too good to be true," says Dr. Robert S. Galvin, GE's chief medical officer. And, he adds, it was.
During the trial, GE didn't see any compelling evidence that disease management saved money or substantially improved worker health. Galvin decided against expanding the program.
In exercising that caution, he is a lonely figure. Disease management—despite a series of studies finding that it doesn't deliver what it promises—has caught on throughout the business world. Employers and government agencies are spending a total of $2.5 billion a year on the services. Aetna, Cigna, and other insurance giants sell disease management. Healthways, the leading company in the field, has seen its share price double over the past year, as Wall Street anticipates health reform legislation that will provide incentives to adopt the approach.
Even with serious doubts hanging over the Obama Administration's campaign for change in the insurance system, Congress is expected to approve some kind of slimmed-down bill that will promote disease management. That perplexes Galvin and other skeptics. At GE, a company known for savvy management of employee benefits, "the idea that you are going to save enough on hospitalizations to save money over and above what the [disease-management] program costs just didn't pan out," he says.
Want a better idea? Get the government out of the business of choosing health-care ideas that sound good and allow consumers to drive the decision-making process.
Former N.C. Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr cites courage as a key component of leadership.
The executive director of the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law expanded on that theme during a presentation Friday night in Durham to the E.A. Morris Fellowship for Emerging Leaders. (Watch the entire event here.)
In the video clip below, Orr describes what he calls “disciplinary courage.”
The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Donna Martinez's report on one state lawamker's request that North Carolina abandon its global warming commission and pursue offshore drilling options.
John Hood's Daily Journal tackles the myth of the "Prevention Legend," the idea that increased taxpayer spending on various types of prevention efforts will end up saving money in the long run.