John Hood's Syndicated Weekly Column | 2014 Archive


October

Oct. 20th — State Will Keep the Change
From 1963 to 2013, average per-capita incomes in the Southeast rose by precisely the same rate — 164 percent — as in North Carolina.

Oct. 15th — Stimulus Story Reveals Much
The state can and should make effective use of private vendors and grantees to supply legitimate public services. Retrofitting private buildings for private use isn’t one of them.

Oct. 13th — Changes Won't Decide Election
Don’t expect North Carolina’s election-law changes to have a decisive effect on the 2014 elections. The candidates, campaigns, and overall political and economic climate will determine the outcome — as usual.

Oct. 8th — Spending Has Diminishing Returns
Additional progress will have to come largely from productivity gains, not from simply spending tomorrow’s money on yesterday’s terms.

Oct. 6th — Good News on Taxes
North Carolina’s corporate tax rate is dropping. That will bring more jobs and higher incomes for North Carolinians, as well as greater transparency in taxation.

Oct. 1st — Give Polls a College Try
On the FiveThirtyEight.com letter grading system, Survey USA is one of the few pollsters to get an A. Elon University gets a B. High Point University, PPP, and National Research get B-minuses.

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September

Sep. 29th — Picking News Like Cherries
Voters deserve a full and fair account of economic news — especially if, as happened last month, the news resists simplification into a single, blaring headline.

Sep. 24th — Borrow When It Saves
Fiscal conservatives tend to look askance at large issuances of public debt. In this sentiment, they are in good company.

Sep. 22nd — Regions Cast Different Votes
If Republican Thom Tillis were running for the U.S. Senate from the state of North Piedmont, he’d be clearly favored to defeat incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan.

Sep. 17th — State Raised School Spending
To say that Republican legislature actually reduced state appropriations to North Carolina’s public schools is to misstate the facts. I’m just old-fashioned enough to believe that’s still a no-no.

Sep. 15th — Workers Gain from Freedom
State governments certainly provide valuable services. But there is a point of diminishing returns to state taxes, spending, and regulation.

Sep. 12th — Consensus Requires Solid Data
If you want to know how North Carolina’s public schools are really faring, the best measures are external.

Sep. 5th — UNC System Makes Progress
North Carolina has traditionally subsidized its public universities to a much greater extent than most states have. But this practice does not appear to have generated better outcomes.

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August

Aug. 29th — Candidates at Starting Line
In the U.S. Senate race, the average result is 44 percent for Hagan, 44 percent for Tillis, 4 percent for Libertarian Sean Haugh, and 8 percent undecided.

Aug. 22nd — Stick With the Winning Playbook
North Carolinians have no need to look north, west, or south for advice on how to recruit businesses or promote economic growth.

Aug. 15th — Pay Reform Meets Student Needs
Across-the-board raises for teachers would have been simpler. But that doesn’t mean they would have been the best policy.

Aug. 8th — Time to Rebuild State Reserves
There is nothing wrong with playing it safe — particularly when the game is played with other people’s money.

Aug. 1st — Budget Was Worth The Wait
The stage is now set for the legislative and executive branches to continue the reform process by differentiating teacher pay in relation to student performance gains, hard-to-fill jobs, and hard-to-staff schools.

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July

Jul. 25th — Credit Claims Are Poorly Scripted
When liberals debate tax policy, it can be hard to keep track of their current positions. They keep changing.

Jul. 18th — Plant The Seed for Fruitful Debate
In inflation-adjusted, per-student terms, North Carolina spent about twice as much on public schools last year as it did in 1983-84.

Jul. 11th — What Largely Explains the Drop
The next time you see or hear a politician, policy analyst, activist, or journalist say that North Carolina’s unemployment rate has fallen “largely” because of workers dropping out of the labor force, ask for a definition of the term.

Jul. 4th — Serve a Different Plate
While the story of the Halifax Resolves isn’t controversial, the same can’t be said of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.

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June

Jun. 27th — Economy Boosts GOP Prospects
However messy politics in Raleigh may look at the moment, the economic trends don’t portend electoral calamity for the party in power. And Republicans know it.

Jun. 20th — Government Spending Remains High
Total state spending adjusted for inflation and population growth reached its highest point in North Carolina history in 2011-12, at about $5,350 per person.

Jun. 13th — Waging a War on Social Science
North Carolina now features a shrill and relentless rhetorical war on social science by political liberals and Democratic politicians.

Jun. 6th — To Pay More, Employ Fewer
North Carolina governments have long been above average in staffing levels and at or below average in employee compensation.

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May

May. 30th — Who Really Opposes Free Speech?
Those who assert that liberals revere free speech more than conservatives do are making a phony claim. I’ll still defend their right to make it, however.

May. 23rd — Set Higher Standard for NC
Think that the quality of political debate is low and declining? Consider the debate about North Carolina’s participation in Common Core.

May. 16th — Reality Isn't So Discouraging
Is North Carolina’s dramatic decline in unemployment a statistical quirk that reflects a growing number of discouraged workers dropping out of the labor force? No.

May. 9th — The Play's Not the Thing
Puzzled by the past several months of histrionics about North Carolina’s election-law changes? You’re hardly alone.

May. 2nd — Pay Teachers for Results, Not Degrees
State lawmakers should hold firm. They got the issue of pay supplements for graduate degrees right the first time.

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April

Apr. 25th — Putting NC Growth in Context
Even if you account for people dropping out of the labor force, North Carolina’s labor market has improved faster than those of most other states.

Apr. 18th — Choice Program Deserves Defense
Liberal activists may fume, and left-wing editorialists may grind their teeth, but legislative leaders are going to defend their 2013 opportunity scholarship bill.

Apr. 11th — FCC Should Let Markets Work
If the FCC wants to do something constructive about telecom innovation and competition, it should focus on freeing up spectrum for new entrants and investment.

Apr. 4th — Start Up the Rural Economy
Rather than simply embarking on a new “buffalo hunt” for industrial prospects, North Carolina’s small towns and rural communities should focus on cultivating entrepreneurs.

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March

Mar. 28th — Give the President More Power
North Carolinians are capable and willing to embrace the realities of the 21st century — including the demands of an increasingly global market.

Mar. 21th — Look Before You (Statistically) Leap
In late February, some 44,000 discouraged North Carolina workers suddenly disappeared. Relax. It’s not as mysterious as it sounds.

Mar. 14th — Will NC Make Par in 2014?
Based on North Carolina’s modern political history, what would really be surprising is if Republicans didn’t lose seats in 2014.

Mar. 7th — NC Is Boringly Average
According to standardized test scores, the average North Carolina student performs better today in reading, math, and science than ever before.

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February

Feb. 28th — NC Doesn’t Pay More For Less
If you thought North Carolinians paid more for transportation and got less value for it than the residents of other states do, you were mistaken

Feb. 21th — NC Politics and the Bard
Right now, “a pox on both your houses” pretty much sums up the way many North Carolinians feel about their elected officeholders.

Feb. 14th — Conservative View of Moral Monday
Any political movement that can turn out tens of thousands of protesters on a chilly morning in February must be deemed impressive.

Feb. 7th — New Data Clarify Jobless Trends
The decline in the labor force from June 2013 to December 2013 was not large enough to be statistically significant.

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January

Jan. 31st — NC Got Broad Tax Cut
Did Gov. Pat McCrory and the North Carolina legislature raise taxes on poor and middle-income families to give tax breaks to the wealthy?

Jan. 24th — Hunt Got It Wrong
Whatever you think of the virtues of Smart Start and the Excellent Schools Act, you cannot argue that they increased the rate of educational improvement in North Carolina

Jan. 17th — Freedom Leads to Growth
While Washington (maybe) gets its act together, state and local governments will have to take the lead in helping to reverse the trend away from economic freedom.

Jan. 10th — Smaller Can Be Better
Taxpayers don’t save money from consolidating school districts, not when the costs are fully identified and accounted for.

Jan. 3rd — Time to Employ Common Sense
Critics predicted economic disaster from ending extended UI benefits in North Carolina. Some claim to see it now. But that’s not what the preliminary evidence shows.

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