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Archive for November 12th, 2012

It hurts to see this

Many of you in Durham will remember the ground-breaking news website that our team at The Herald-Sun developed in 2000 (see below). It won many awards, and, I have to say (and not just because I directed the work on it), was then the most innovative newspaper website going, and was better than most operating even today. Too bad it doesn’t exist anymore.

I can understand the Paxton Media folks wanting to put their mark on The Herald-Sun in print and online, but I can’t understand the deletion of so many fine features of that original website, ones that could be operating today and adding value to the Paxton brand. I am thinking of the many fine multi-media features by Joe Weiss, the VoteBook portion of the site that included a highly popular citizenship test, and the 360-degree virtual tours of all the Triangle’s college sports venues, just to name a few.

OK, so fine. It’s their website and they can keep any or none of the stuff we designed 12 years ago that is still fresh today. But some things are just required on a website, like a byline, like something to tell the reader if they’re reading a letter to the editor, a staff column, or an editorial. And even a headline would be nice. None of those are present here.

A reader coming to this Herald-Sun page is completely in the dark. Even more confusing is the fact that the story/column/letter is run twice on the same page, back to back. It’s clear that the Paxton Media Group doesn’t see online as the future.

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Politico: Thom Tillis Or Renee Ellmers V. Kay Hagan?

Interesting speculation about the 2014 cycle. Expect to see Sen. Kay Hagan step up her public profile in 2013.

North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis is the early Republican favorite to mount a bid against the first-term Hagan because of his fundraising ability and close ties to Gov.-elect Pat McCrory. But if Republicans want to make a concerted effort to close the gender gap, they may turn to Rep. Renee Ellmers, who just won a second term.

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Hey, No Big Deal, It’s Only Another $15 Billion

While the lame-duck Congress faces the so-called “fiscal cliff,” there’s another boondoggle crying out for action. The US Postal Service is about to post a $15 billion loss for fiscal year 2012. 

On Nov. 15, the mail carrier will release its final financial results for fiscal 2012, with predicted losses in the $15 billion range. Since July, the Postal Service has defaulted on $11.1 billion in legally required payments to a future-retiree health care fund. It has also hit a $15 billion borrowing ceiling with the U.S. Treasury, raising the risk of a cash-flow crisis.

In an email, USPS spokesman Dave Partenheimer acknowledged that many issues are competing for lawmakers’ attention, but added that it is “extremely important” that comprehensive postal reform legislation be addressed “as part of our plan to return to long-term financial stability.”

The way to solve this problem for the long term is to end the monopoly and infuse the mail delivery system with competition.

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Hey, No Big Deal, It’s Only Another $1.1 Trillion

This Wall Street Journal piece is a real kick in the gut. Problem is, the majority of Americans just voted as if it’s no big deal. For those who care, we added another $1.1 trillion to the deficit for the fiscal year ended September 30. In the piece, WSJ looks at the revenue and spending numbers.

Note, however, that federal spending remains at a new plateau of about $3.54 trillion, or some $800 billion more than the last pre-recession year of 2007. One way to think about this is that most of the $830 billion stimulus of 2009 has now become part of the federal budget baseline. The “emergency” spending of the stimulus has now become permanent, as we predicted it would.

When Beltway politicians claim they want a “balanced” approach to reducing the deficit, what they really mean is raising taxes to finance this new higher spending level. And the still-higher level that is coming with ObamaCare.

The reality is that the fastest way to raise revenue is with faster economic growth. To the extent that raising tax rates will reduce the rate of growth, it will slow the flow of tax revenue and increase the deficit.

Brace yourself for another four years of irresponsible decisions.

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Another Company Preps for Obamacare: “That’s what I call lose-lose”

From John Schnatter, founder and CEO of Papa John’s, comes the harsh reality of Obamacare for employees and owners.

Under the Affordable Care Act, full-time employees — those working 30 hours or more per week — would have to be provided with insurance at companies with more than 50 workers. Schnatter said it was likely that some franchise owners would reduce employees’ hours in order to avoid having to cover them.

“That’s probably what’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s common sense. That’s what I call lose-lose.”

Schnatter is certainly not the first – nor will he be the last – to be forced to make an ugly business decision in response to the government takeover of health insurance/health care.

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