The Civitas Institute has helped with the pre-Christmas news doldrums.

In one article, they criticize Governor Bev Perdue’s attempts at downsizing government. Although she was lauded for requiring departments to provide a constitutional justification of their existence, Perdue’s concept of the role of government is broad. Two instances involve whether or not government should have a monopoly on vice. She is waiting for the results of studies before she will determine whether or not the government should remain involved in the liquor sales business. She also sent her chief of staff to a video poker parlor to determine if that practice should be outlawed, as some believe the North Carolina Education Lottery is the only justifiable form of gambling. A third concerns whether or not it is proper for government to collect taxes from all to bestow on a few of its favorite sons, a practice that often takes the form of corporate welfare, a.k.a. crony capitalism.

In a second article, the ARRA is criticized for giving North Carolina $800 billion to fail to create private-sector jobs. It hasn’t even created “substantial” public-sector jobs. The Stimulus Act went into effect in February 2009. State unemployment rose through May and then leveled out. The only time job growth was observed was for a moment when extra federal money from the last Census infused the government with a little more. Even all the bureaucrats hired to administer ARRA funds could not compensate for job loss. Even if giving federal dollars to good grant writers was a proper role of government, Civitas observed that a lot of money went toward encouraging people to loaf: $660 million for unemployment insurance, $173 million for food stamps, $84 million for public housing, for example. (The federal government gave NC $412 million for Social Security, and then decided to cut FICA contributions.)

In a third, Civitas lists how much each federal legislator has earmarked for his district. It also lists earmarks by location. Commendably, Walter Jones, Virginia Foxx, Howard Coble, Sue Myrick, and Patrick McHenry earmarked nothing for 2011. Kay Hagan requested 338 earmarks totaling $724,277,278. Expenditures include $1 million for a soccer program to prevent childhood obesity as well as various stormwater mitigation, anti-gang mentoring, and biometric activities. Richard Burr requested 82 earmarks totaling $287,194,440. A lot of his expenditures went toward protecting beaches and other natural resources. A couple climate change education programs were included.