Maybe we could credit the looming elections, but our politicians are on their good behavior out here. So, today, I visited the JLF web site and, for a change, found reports agreeing with the way I think cause and effect should work, human nature notwithstanding.

  • Over here, R. E. Smith, Jr. writes about what is done with tourist taxes as a bureaucratic waste, but for its comedic value. When was the last time a logo and a jingle inspired you to leave the office in charge of people who would make your life a nightmare, just for a couple days?

    Local application: Asheville and Buncombe County need new, regional logos.

  • In a similar vein, we find we just missed a luncheon where the guest speaker, Heywood T. Sanders, was to talk about all the synergy communities have been creating by investing tax dollars in convention centers. Evidently, the results, as measured in room nights and fortified tax bases, are as transparent, colorless, and odorless as the synergy itself.

    Local application: The newly-forming Enka Youth Sports Organization would greatly benefit from a very large building.

  • You have probably noticed I steer away from trying to decide scientific questions with government. It isn’t because I was the first person of whom I am aware to ask if the Scandinavian data showing non-monotonic temperature increases netting on the order of 1 degree Fahrenheit for about a century was the source of the global warming hysteria (gloat, gloat). It is because I harbor this insane wish that scientists would stick to science and politicians would stick to politics, but I have no desire to wield enough power to enforce my dreams.

    Anyhoo, Jon Sanders published a paper with a funny title, “The Chemicals In Fracking Fluids: Earth and Water, You’ll Find Plenty of Both down There.” It generates two un-progressive chuckles: (1) the obvious, and (2) a jab at Common Core for teaching only four elements.

    Local application: Let’s storm the next meeting of Asheville City Council to advocate for legalization of a fifth element, and partake liberally thereof before attending to make sure we don’t make sense. The less sense we make, the greater our probability of being heard. Was that enough idle prattle to make me matter? Hello?

  • More seriously, an article by Katherine Restrepo written in July is still on the JLF’s front page. I assume it is because the people who need to be reading it aren’t. Here are two “key facts” to perhaps help direct web traffic that way:
    • Each state’s federal share, their Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP), is renewed every year. Federal funding creates a strong disincentive for North Carolina to flush out waste in the system, since a hefty portion of any savings reverts back to the feds.
    • A prime example in which North Carolina uses Medicaid’s federal share to its advantage is its Provider Assessment Act of 2011, which imposes taxes on certain classes of medical providers. The state uses this revenue to shell out enhanced reimbursements to medical providers, which in turn pulls down more federal funds. The state can use these excess federal funds for budget purposes not limited to Medicaid.

    Local application: Move along. Federal and state money are “indeed free,” and all local expenditures are already budgeted, approved, and non-transferrable.