The Locker Room

February 9, 2010

Re: Demand curves

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 4:56 PM

Jon--I'd say that when it comes to the minimum wage, except for a handful of deniers, there is overwhelming consensus among economists. In fact it's quite clear that the science is settled.

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What is Bev up to?

Posted by George Leef at 3:19 PM

Blogging on Squall Lines Bob Smith notes that Gov. Perdue has issued an order that state agencies are to meet with labor unions.

North Carolina is one of the few states that has never bowed to Big Labor's demand for public sector collective bargaining. Could it be that Bev is playing footsie with the unions in exchange for money and muscle to help the Democrats hang on to the General Assembly?

Anyone have any further information?

BTW, Bob graciously mentions my book on the history of the Right to Work Movement.

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Re: Why I am not a Republican

Posted by Jon Sanders at 3:05 PM

Roy, it sounds like a variant of that old "Government that wastes a dollar is a dollar that can't [be wasted by government on something else]" Republican idea.

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Why I am not a Republican--reason number 2010

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 2:35 PM

In an email message sent out by the NCGOP titled "Business as usual Bev," the North Carolina Republican Party complains that "Governor Bev Perdue called herself the “Education Governor” and shortly thereafter slashed the state’s education budget while continuing to fund pork projects." [Unfortunately there does not seem to be a link to the email message available.] First, it is not at all clear that being an "education governor" is inconsistent with cutting or even slashing the education budget. Conservatives--as opposed to Republicans--have been pointing out for years that there is no positive correlation between higher education spending and education quality. In fact research suggests that there may actually be a negative correlation.

If the governor had actually "slashed" education spending one would hope that a political party that claims to believe in limited government and school choice might actually applaud her actions. But the fact is that total spending on education, including the federal stimulus money, was increased by well over $200 million dollars by Governor Perdue.  I guess the NCGOP would really be upset with the John Locke Foundation's Can Do Budget from last year--we proposed to cut education spending by about $200 million dollars, and this is after the stimulus money is factored in.

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Demand curves slope downwards, even though raising the minimum wage is "compassionate"

Posted by Jon Sanders at 11:22 AM

Last July I finished a post on the minimum wage with the following summary:

So in two years, the federal minimum wage has been increased by nearly 41 percent. Such a massive increase in the price of low-skilled labor will lead to much fewer jobs for low-skill workers, the poorest among us. Demand curves slope downwards.

I revisited that post late last month to cite the US Census Bureau's finding of record low employment levels of American teenagers, with black youths and youths from low-income families the most adversely affected.

I revisit it today on the occasion of a new Ball State study:

Increasing the minimum wage was meant to raise the living standards of millions of Americans holding unskilled, entry level positions. But it may have led to the elimination of 550,000 jobs ...

"Minimum wage legislation has long been popular precisely because it holds the promise of helping low wage workers without an associated cost," Hicks said in a news release. "The truth has largely been that it has not helped workers because the United States had gone for two generations with the minimum wage largely trailing the hourly compensation of unskilled, entry level workers.

Edited to add: As Harvard economist Greg Mankiw showed, the proposition that "A minimum wage increases unemployment among young and unskilled workers" is one of the ideas upon which there is overwhelming agree among economists.

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Another setback for Obamacare

Posted by Rick Henderson at 10:37 AM

The death of Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Pa., not only leaves the House with (to not speak ill of the departed) one fewer interesting character. It also removes another "yes" vote from the House health care bill, which passed by a 220-215 margin.

Considering the resignations of Florida Rep. Robert Wexler (already happened) and Hawaii Rep. Neal Abercrombie (any day now), Murtha's death means that only 217 House members who supported the original bill remain in Congress.

Moreover, Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., vows to oppose any comprehensive bill that weakens the prohibition against abortion funding. And Rep. Joseph Cao, R-La., the sole GOP supporter of the bill, has suggested he may vote "no" next time.

The odds are getting longer that any major changes can sneak through Congress this year.


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Audi sees our eco-fascist future

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 10:16 AM

...and hopes to profit from it.

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Kissell getting challenger from the left

Posted by David N. Bass at 10:13 AM

Larry Kissell, a one-term Democrat from North Carolina's 8th congressional district, is getting a Democratic primary challenger.

As we reported in Carolina Journal last week, Kissell has gotten lots of friendly fire from the left because of his vote against Obama's health care reform plan in November. Now, they've decided to primary him.

The Fayetteville Observer has the details:

Nancy Shakir, a 70-year-old retired educator in Fayetteville, said Friday she will run against Kissell in the May 4 primary.

Shakir worked for his campaign in 2006, when Kissell lost by 329 votes to Republican incumbent Robin Hayes. She was a volunteer with a political action committee called Working Families Win, which had targeted the 8th District. The district stretches from Fayetteville to Charlotte.

In 2008, Shakir said she focused her efforts on the Obama campaign but still supported Kissell when he unseated Hayes.

Shakir said she didn't plan on running for Congress but grew increasingly concerned over Kissell's record, such as his vote last year against the health reform bill in the House.

"His voting record has been disappointing, to me and many others," she said.

Shakir also didn't like how Kissell voted against allowing bankruptcy judges to cut the mortgage debt of homeowners, and how he voted against giving additional federal funding to ACORN.

This development is doubly significant because the 8th congressional district is the most competitive in the state and the most likely to switch parties this November. A tough primary fight for Kissell would weaken his prospects of staving off a Republican challenger in the general election.

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Re: Curriculum changes getting pummeled

Posted by Jenna Ashley Robinson at 10:09 AM

The "History Did Not Begin in 1877!" Facebook group isn't the only place where people are expressing their outrage. There's also a petition, a survey, and a feedback form that you can send to DPI at

You can read about the proposed curriculum changes here.

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ASU's Screaming Weasel

Posted by Daren Bakst at 10:06 AM

This is a small 100 KW wind turbine that Appalachian State University has on its campus. Given the extraordinary amount of annoying noise, it has received the nickname the "Screaming Weasel." Amusingly, ASU says this wind turbine doesn't make much noise. I'll let you decide. BTW: Industrial wind turbines would be much bigger and much louder.

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Another Super Bowl ad

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 08:58 AM

Not sure if this one ran in Raleigh, but as the Washington Examiner noted it at least doesn't use the wrong message to sell its product.

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More accessible dental care

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 08:50 AM

Sarah Avery at the Raleigh News & Observer has a terrific story this morning on ideas from dentists and dental hygienists that could improve access to dental care throughout the state without creating a new government program or spending another tax dollar.

Dentist Steven Slott wants to create a sub-dentist "mid-level worker" and dental hygienist wants to create a "superhygienist," but the idea in both cases is the same: somebody in the dental field who is trained to do more than clean teeth but less than root canals, like a nurse practitioner.

I hope we can build support for both ideas. Too many people in the state have little access to dental care. Dentists cannot afford to be everywhere. Dental hygienists are not allowed to work on their own. The state needs to ease the restrictions on practice and licensing.

This new model is not a threat to dentists, but an opportunity for those without access to care.

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Short is sweet

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 08:37 AM

In January, the Civil Rights Project at the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies released a new report on charter schools. They concluded that charter schools have been a civil rights failure because charters are more likely to be nearly all black compared to district schools. Opponents of North Carolina's charter schools follow the same line of reasoning.

The report has been panned by the left and the right. Democrats for Education Reform released a two sentence statement.

"The UCLA Civil Rights Project seemingly wants to block minority parents from choosing to enroll their children in better schools simply because it feels those schools aren't white enough. What's up with that?"
Kevin Carey of Education Sector concluded,
If nothing else, this report will stand as a kind of reductio ad absurdum example of blindered anti-charter school propaganda.

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Barone crunches the numbers of Murtha's district

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:12 AM

As you'd expect from the man who assembles the Almanac of American Politics, Michael Barone has some interesting insights about the district of the late Rep. Jack Murtha.

Among his peculiar tidbits:

This is the only district in the nation that voted for John Kerry in 2004 and John McCain in 2008. You might want to explain that as an affinity for Vietnam veterans. The better explanation is that it is part of the Jacksonian belt that starts in southwest Pennsylvania and extends along the Appalachians and southwestward to Tennessee and Texas—an area where Barack Obama ran very poorly in both the primaries and the general election in 2008.

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Miranda rights for terrorists? Seriously?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:05 AM

Byron York's latest piece for the Washington Examiner explores the political impact of Obama administration efforts to treat terrorist threats as a law-enforcement issue. 

While Obama hints at changes, he and his administration are still trying to justify their actions in the Detroit case. "They're changing their story constantly to try to defend their tactics," says a knowledgeable source on Capitol Hill.

For example, we know that the FBI interrogated Abdulmutallab for just 50 minutes before Attorney General Eric Holder decided to advise the suspect of his Miranda rights to remain silent and to have a court-appointed attorney. After that, Abdulmutallab shut up.

Republicans hit the administration hard on that point, especially when the White House made the unbelievable claim that agents had gotten every last bit of valuable information from Abdulmutallab in that brief talk. In response to GOP criticism, administration officials leaked the story that Abdulmutallab actually stopped talking before being read his Miranda rights, meaning Holder's decision was not to blame for cutting off the brief flow of intelligence.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, say knowledgeable sources on Capitol Hill. "It is totally false that he had stopped cooperating and then they made the decision to Mirandize him," says one GOP source. "They made the decision, and then they weren't trying to question him any more."

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Curriculum changes getting pummeled

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:59 AM

From an article in today's News & Observer,

The recent uproar over proposed changes to the history curriculum in North Carolina public schools is not a conservative-vs.-liberal issue, said N.C. State University history professor Holly Brewer.
Dr. Brewer's Facebook group "History Did Not Begin in 1877!" now has over 1,500 members and continues to grow. At this point, the only proponents of the curriculum change seem to be the NC Department of Public Instruction, the NC State Board of Education, and Stephen Jackson from NC Policy Watch. Dr. Jackson recently observed, "It is tough to see how students are shortchanged by the proposed changes." Who are we to question the "experts" at NC DPI?

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:54 AM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Michael Lowrey's report on a recent N.C. Appeals Court ruling granting Cherokee Indians the exclusive right to operate video poker in the state.

John Hood's Daily Journal dissects claims about the sluggish economy's impact on the UNC system.

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