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What Is It They Didn’t Want The Public To Hear Them Discuss?

It’s called the Mayor’s Innovation Project, and it was held recently at the Carolina Inn. This story says about 70 mayors from North Carolina and around the country attended. Check out this comment attributed to managing director Satya Rhodes-Conway.

Local leaders and staff members, including Town Council member Sally Greene and Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle, helped lead workshops on affordable housing, land use and transportation, among other topics.

Other local leaders joined the visitors for after-hours social gatherings. The public and media are traditionally not invited to the event, Rhodes-Conway said, but Chapel Hill officials negotiated to keep Friday’s incubator tour accessible to local media, she said.

Limiting access leaves mayors free to suggest innovative ideas without worrying their comments might be taken out of context in the newspaper or cause a public backlash at home, she said.

“We want to keep it small and intimate to have a really good, in-depth conversation,” Rhodes-Conway said.

Wow. I understand the idea of wanting to brainstorm and discuss ideas freely. But what in the world did this gathering discuss that the organizer deemed had the potential to, as the writer put it, cause a public backlash back home? And backlash of what sort? Policy? Politics?

I suggest this group focus on bolstering opportunity and prosperity in their communities by following some basic principles in dealing with local issues. They will find excellent ideas and suggestions in JLF’s City and County Issue Guide 2014. 

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‘Fairness’ Not Synonymous With Equal Outcomes

Critics often label capitalism as unfair. They say a system based on free markets and limited government control leads to wide disparities among the rich and poor. David Rose, professor of economics at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, challenges that argument. Rose discussed the fairness of capitalism with a John Locke Foundation audience earlier this year. He also spoke with Mitch Kokai for Carolina Journal Radio. Here’s part of what Professor Rose had to say.

Kokai: Is it safe to say that by opening the doors through capitalism to people making lots of money, that we have greater opportunities to help those who are at the low end because of all that money that’s flowing to the people who are making a lot of money?

Rose: Yeah. I mean, there are positive things for people at the lower rungs going on in several directions. First of all, you can’t give away money you don’t have. And a system that allows people to make a lot of money produces a surplus that they can then use to, literally, directly help poor people in a way that we normally think of.

Now, that’s important. But I don’t think that’s anywhere near as important as the less-direct approach or less-direct effect, I should say, which is that in a capitalistic society, the economy is growing rapidly. People have very strong incentives to come up with new and better ways to do things. So total output per person rises more rapidly than under any other kind of system.

What that means, then, is that people who are able to capture a lot of those rents are very highly talented people. They have skills that are highly sought after. Those people don’t want to make that money and then bury it in their backyard. They want to buy stuff. They want to go places. They want to do things. Well, all of those things increase the demand for labor of people who do things like run hotels or own restaurants and so on and so forth.

And, you know, if you go back 50 years, 100 hundred years, many of these jobs would’ve been pretty unpleasant kind of jobs. But today, they’re really not. And as long as a person is paid really well to wait tables or paid really well to be a cook in a nice restaurant, or paid really well to work behind a desk at a fancy hotel — these are not bad jobs. And people can have a good life doing the kinds of things that, you know, depends upon each person’s personality, but some people are very personal and like those sorts of things.

… I don’t want to get into what’s best for people, but my point simply is that the kinds of things that the people who make a lot of money in a capitalist system, that they want to do, they’re willing to pay other people to do it, and as other people — poorer people — get more money, their willingness to do these things goes down, which means you have to pay them ever more.

Which is one reason why if you go to a place like the United States and walk around in a poor neighborhood, you don’t see a lot of agony. Many people are actually having a good time, doing things they want to do. I’m not making light of poor people, even in America, but my point is they are not to be confused with poor people in truly impoverished countries.

Capitalism is about opportunity, not equal outcome.

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“It’s very good news for taxpayers.”

You wouldn’t know it from mainstream media coverage of the state’s new 2014-15 General Fund budget, but North Carolina’s new budget plan is “very good news for taxpayers.” Find out why in this brief interview with Becki Gray, John Locke Foundation vice president for outreach. She offered these comments during our recent interview for Carolina Journal Radio

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“EPA’s own estimates are that compliance with this standard would cost the country over $90 billion.”

The air quality in North Carolina is improving — good news. And yet, if the EPA gets its way, a proposed regulation could throw virtually all of North Carolina out of compliance with air quality regulations. JLF’s Roy Cordato explains what is amiss and what it will cost us.

The reason why there has been little or no discussion of smog this season is that on 45 monitors throughout the state there have been, so far, no high-ozone days this season. And the latest report, which includes data through Aug. 24, continues the trend.

In this case, no news for the last 41/2 months is good news. It should be noted that last year there was only one high-ozone day for the entire season.

But don’t get too comfortable; all this could change very soon. Over the next few years, nearly all regions of North Carolina could start to experience dozens of high-ozone days and be thrown out of compliance with EPA standards.

This could result in tens of millions of dollars in costs for these localities and businesses, workers, and consumers throughout the state. And, believe it or not, none of this will have anything to do with air quality getting worse. In fact, it is quite likely that air quality in the state will continue to improve as it has for the past three decades.

The reason for this possible coming hardship is that the EPA is threatening to tighten its standards dramatically — from a maximum of 75 ppb to possibly as low as 60. For some locations, this may be below natural background levels. (That’s right, certain background levels of ozone occur naturally.) In the next few months, the EPA is expected to come out with a new standard, and it is eyeing 60 ppb as a possible maximum.

As reported by Daren Bakst, writing for the Heritage Foundation, the EPA’s own estimates are that compliance with this standard would cost the country over $90 billion. Given the source, this should be taken as an “at least,” not as an “at most.”

A report by NERA Economic Consulting, commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers, looks much more dismal. It argues that this would be “the most costly regulation in history.”

To follow environmental news, sign up for Roy’s weekly e-newsletter here. 

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Board Of Governors Requiring More Accountability From Tenured Professors

Tenured professors in the UNC System have nearly permanent job security. Now the UNC Board of Governors has adopted a plan to ensure that tenured professors are performing as they should, and to reward those who consistently exceed expectations. Jesse Saffron of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy writes about the change in this piece.

The UNC system’s Board of Governors in June amended its post-tenure review policy. The amendment was the result of a working group created in January at the behest of board member John Fennebresque, who now serves as chairman of the full board.

What makes this post-tenure review policy different is that it will bring the process outside the control of close-knit faculty groups by requiring a series of evaluations.

“Both the department chair/unit head and the dean must conduct an evaluative review in the cumulative review process,” says the policy.

Previously, tenure reviews were conducted predominantly by the professors’ peers. Debates frequently are aired in publications such as The Chronicle of Higher Education over whether these reviews are meaningful due to a perceived culture of mutual back scratching — faculty members who satisfied modest publication requirements seemed to receive tenure as a matter of routine. Requiring deans also to provide evaluations adds another layer of oversight to the process, one that the working group hopes will give tenure review more teeth.

Furthermore, university provosts must certify that reviews are in line with the new policy. UNC General Administration will be responsible for conducting systemwide audits to ensure compliance.

The working group has created three assessment categories: meets expectations, exceeds expectations, and does not meet expectations. Going forward, the Board of Governors and the universities in the system will look at providing extra compensation to professors who regularly exceed expectations. The designers of the plan see this provision as the starting point for encouraging and incentivizing better teaching and research performance.


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Disappointment Ahead For Both Parties?

In today’s journal, JLF’s John Hood assesses the political landscape as we head into the final two-month sprint toward Election Day. His first point is to focus on “likely voter” surveys rather than registered voters. His conclusion after averaging several major polls:

Based on these data, you could say that the two sides have been in a marathon and are entering the homestretch neck-and-neck. Or you could say that the two sides have only been warming up and are now at the starting line. Either analogy works. Republicans counting on a gigantic, 2010-style wave to wash over the state are likely to be disappointed. Democrats counting on a gigantic backlash against the Republican legislature are also likely to be disappointed.

Whoever wins the Senate race will probably do so by a small margin. In General Assembly races, I’d be surprised if Democrats didn’t gain some seats. There is a regular ebb and flow to state politics, particularly when a new set of leaders implements a new policy agenda. In modern times, all North Carolina governors have seen their party lose legislative seats in their first midterms. It happened to Jim Holshouser, Jim Hunt (twice), Jim Martin, Mike Easley, and Bev Perdue.

The average loss, believe it or not, is a combined 22 seats in both chambers (out of 170 total members). If that were to happen, you might end up with something like a 27-23 Republican edge in the Senate and a bare-minimum 61-59 Republican edge in the House. But few political pros on both sides think Democrats will perform at even that average level, given their manifest electoral and organizational disadvantages. The probable outcomes are smaller but still solid GOP majorities in both chambers.

My view is that the media narrative of widespread anger and disagreement with the Republican-led General Assembly is a misrepresentation that is a reflection of Raleigh-centric anti-Republican sentiment. I believe the anti-Republican narrative is consistent with what the media told us in 2012: that the electorate was outraged over the Marriage Amendment and would head to the polls in droves to defeat it. That narrative was wrong of course. 

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The Government War On Women: Orange County Pushes Victimhood Narrative

The progressives who run Orange County have chosen to further the tired old leftist narrative that women are victims. Read the press release the county has distributed. Never mind that the next president could very well be a woman, that some of the wealthiest, most successful business people on the planet — Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Sandberg, and Martha Stewart to name a few — are women. And no matter than in a county dominated by a major university, the chancellor is a woman and women dominate the classroom. And of course, women have been earning more degrees than men for years. Despite it all, Orange County pushes the women-are-victims narrative.



ORANGE COUNTY, NC (August 26, 2014)—The Board of Orange County Commissioners has issued a proclamation, declaring today as Women’s Equality Day in Orange County.

In recognition of this day, the Human Relations Commission (HRC) is revealing the name of the book selected for the next Community Read. This is an invitation for the community to read a book on a selected social justice or human rights topic and convene to discuss the book.

The book, Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy by Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild, takes a look into the oppression of female migrant workers in the U.S. and what has been called the “western feminism’s dirty little secret.”

The book discussion is moderated by a subject expert. The next Community Read is scheduled to take place during Women’s History Month (March 2015). The actual date will be announced at a later date.

To coincide with the Community Read, the HRC will host its annual Human Relations Month Forum on Sunday, January 25, 2015. The topic of the Forum is “Voting Rights to Equal Rights: The Continuing Struggle.”

The Forum panelists will include Orange County Commissioner Renee Price and Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle. They will discuss the struggle for women to obtain voting rights 95 years ago and the continuing struggle for equity. Other topics of discussed will include female trafficking in North Carolina and unequal wages.

For more information, please contact the Human Relations Commission at 919. 245. 2488.


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Why Rich People Should Be Emulated, Not Maligned

They’re rich, successful, and savvy. And they want you to be rich, successful, and savvy as well. I’m talking about the “Shark Tank” investors. In this Wall Street Journal piece, the investors give great advice for making a business pitch and snagging the capital investment that could launch your idea from crazy dream to monster success. Here are two recommendations.

Why You? Spunk and a perky presentation won’t cut it. Participants need to prove they can run a successful business. Ms. Corcoran invested in Cousins Maine Lobster because the owners convinced her they had the salesmanship and perseverance as well as the business plan to make it work. “It was not because they invented lobster. It was the work ethic,” Ms. Corcoran says. (Representatives of the company didn’t respond to requests for comment.)

Show Your Toughness. It’s fine to acknowledge failures. “Businesspeople understand you will fail, it’s not all sunny,” says shark Daymond John, who works in fashion and branding. The sharks look for entrepreneurs who can take a hit. “A good entrepreneur keeps coming back,” Ms. Corcoran says. She invested in Pork Barrel BBQ after co-founder Heath Hall was unfazed when she compared his appearance to the company’s pig logo. (“I felt she was testing me to see if she could get a negative reaction out of me,” Mr. Hall says. “So I chose to go with the flow and let her know I could take a punch and stay on my feet.”)

Great advice for business people — and great advice for living life in general — offered by some of the most successful people in business.

The piece makes me shake my head over why the rich are routinely maligned by the Left. They could simply hide their cash under the mattress and sip cocktails on the beach. But they don’t. Instead, they choose to help others find similar success. There is much they can teach us. What’s more, we should be grateful they are willing to offer so much opportunity, whether from the capital investments they make, the jobs they create in our communities, or the commitment they show to helping people in need.

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Very Cozy Indeed

The U.S. House Committee on Government and Oversight Reform issued the following press release Monday.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) today sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder reiterating bipartisan calls for the appointment of a special counsel for the Administration’s Justice Department investigation of Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) targeting of conservative groups after new documents obtained by the Committee showed additional conflicts of interest within the Justice Department. Among other examples, a current Justice Department attorney who represented the IRS in litigation relating to the IRS’s targeting of conservatives was in fact previously an IRS employee and was involved in the IRS’s scheme to target conservatives.

The Committee has learned that Andrew Strelka, currently an attorney at the Justice Department’s Tax Division, worked from 2008 to 2010 at the IRS in the Exempt Organizations (EO) Division, formerly headed by Lois Lerner. Emails show that Strelka was directly involved in the IRS targeting of conservative tax-exempt applicants. In March 2010, Strelka received an e-mail from IRS manager Ronald Shoemaker directing him to “[b]e on the lookout for a tea party case.” Shoemaker directed Strelka: “If you have received or do receive a case in the future involving an exemption for an organization having to do with tea party let me know.” Strelka also received an e-mail in June 2011 about the crash of Lois Lerner’s hard drive. Until recently, Strelka represented the IRS in civil litigation relating to the IRS targeting.

The Chairmen also expressed concern that Nicole Siegel , current employee of the Office of Legislative Affairs, which is charged with the Department’s response to congressional oversight of the Department’s interactions with Lerner and the IRS, appeared to have maintained a close relationship with Lerner and previously worked for a political action committee to assist political fundraising for Democratic candidates.

“This new information about additional conflicts of interest within the Justice Department shows that almost every facet of the Department with an interest in the IRS targeting investigation is compromised,” the Chairmen wrote in the letter. “From the Civil Rights Division to the Public Integrity Section and the FBI, from the Tax Division to the Office of Legislative Affairs, the Justice Department has serious and wide-ranging conflicts of interest in its handling of the IRS targeting matter. With these startling revelations, we reiterate the bipartisan calls for the appointment of an independent special counsel. In addition, to better examine the actions and experiences of Andrew Strelka and Nicole Siegel at the IRS and the Justice Department, and for other relevant matters, we request that you make Mr. Strelka and Ms. Siegel available for transcribed interviews with Committee staff.”

In June, the Oversight Committee released a staff report finding that the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section met with Lois Lerner to discuss potential criminal aspects of nonprofit political speech in 2010. The report also found that the IRS sent 21 disks containing 1.1 million pages of nonprofit tax-return information – including confidential taxpayer information – to the Federal Bureau of Investigations in advance of the meeting. The Justice Department and the FBI have continued to discuss potential criminal investigations of nonprofits engaged in political speech.

Jordan and Issa requested in January that the Justice Department remove Democratic political donor and Civil Rights Division attorney Barbara Bosserman from leading the DOJ’s ongoing criminal investigation after Federal Election Commission records revealed that Ms. Bosserman donated at least $6,750 to President Obama’s election campaigns and the Democratic National Committee.

The House voted on May 7th to approve House Resolution 565, requesting the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS targeting scandal, on a vote of 250 to 168, with 26 Democrats voting yes.

Read the letter here. 

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No To Expansion, Yes To Reform

JLF’s Health and Human Services Policy Analyst Katherine Restrepo takes on the Left’s talking point that North Carolina should have expanded Medicaid under Obamacare. In her weekly newsletter, Restrepo writes:

This month, the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a report assessing the financial impacts of North Carolina’s decision to forgo the Affordable Care Act’s optional Medicaid expansion.

Extending eligibility rolls of our broken — yes, broken — medical assistance safety net would cost state taxpayers an additional $300 million per year, amounting to $3 billion to the General Fund books over the course of a decade. But because Medicaid is jointly funded by the state and federal governments, advocates brush that aside and are instead fixated on North Carolina losing out on $40 billion of federal funds over the next ten years.

The argument goes that our citizens’ federal taxes are now paying for other states’ Medicaid expansions, without any benefit coming to those citizens themselves. Is North Carolina really “losing out”? The influx of federal funds is borrowed money. What’s really happening here is that future generations are being taxed to broaden the safety net of our current generation, all the while adding to our national deficit.

Furthermore, the study projects an expansion would insure over 400,000 North Carolinians in 2016. However, a portion of this population would no longer qualify for subsidized private coverage under the federal health law. Essentially, these individuals would be pulled away from private coverage to a public assistance program where accessing care proves to be more difficult. In North Carolina, approximately one in every four physicians does not accept new Medicaid patients.

A central question to consider is this: Will consuming more money generate better patient health outcomes?

Read Restrepo’s entire analysis here. 


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