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Ladies, Do You Really Want To Be A Quota?

Carrie Lukas of the Independent Women’s Forum takes a look at Germany’s new draft law that would force companies to appoint women to three of 10 supervisory board seats.

I find it highly offensive that in 2014, this patronizing action is even considered. Are women so weak, so incapable, so in need of special treatment? Why aren’t women shouting from the mountaintops that this is offensive? Are we really content to be treated as “little ladies” who need help? Are we not willing to earn our position and our respect?

Many European countries, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, have adopted variations of a corporate board quota, albeit too recently to rigorously assess. A better test case is Norway, whose board quota law, passed in 2003, has required qualifying publicly listed companies to meet a 40 percent threshold for women since 2008. Studies of the Norwegian mandate offer little cause for optimism, however.

One study by two University of Michigan economists, published in 2012 in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, concluded that, while Norway’s quota policy raised female representation on the corporate boards to which it pertained, it ultimately “imposed significant and costly constraints on Norwegian firms.” The women who were brought on to corporate boards were younger and less experienced than their male colleagues; the economists found that those firms forced to increase women’s representation experienced a statistically significant loss in market value compared with other companies that year.

The German automakers Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler and Opel have threatened to move production out of the country rather than comply with the quota. Norway’s experience suggests they might not be bluffing: According to the 2012 study, numerous Norwegian corporations changed their legal structure or incorporated outside the country to avoid compliance. In 2009, the number of public limited firms in Norway was less than “70 percent of the number in 2001,” the economists found, while the number of private limited firms, which were exempt from the quota, had increased by more than 30 percent.

Ladies, it’s well past time to reject this offensive quota nonsense. Work hard. Earn your spot. Earn respect. Deliver results. In other words, perform like a professional and you will be rewarded.

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What Burgers and Schools Have In Common

Infuse an industry with competition and you’ll quickly find that businesses have to improve their game. McDonald’s is having trouble — big trouble — with sales. So what has the CEO done? He’s working his you-know-what off to find innovative products that appeal to more people and to compete with companies like Panera and Chipotle, which are snagging his customers. Enter a pilot program for build-your-own burgers and chicken sandwiches.

For decades, fast food’s central success has been built around serving customers their orders within a few minutes. That’s impossible when customers — particularly those in the 14 to 24-year-old range — demand customized meals that are served fresh, appear healthy and don’t cost too much. The wait-time for a burger from the new platform at McDonald’s is about seven minutes — an eternity in fast-food land.

But the chain needs to take risks. It recently reported its worst same-store sales decline in more than a decade. McDonald’s stock has lagged its peers. CEO Don Thompson knows that if results don’t improve sooner rather than later, his job could be on the line. In the third quarter, when McDonald’s earnings plunged 30%, Thompson conceded that the company had lost relevance for key young consumers like Slade.

The same dynamics apply to education. Infuse the traditional public system with competition — public charters and Opportunity Scholarships for example — and you’ll get improvement all around. Sadly, defenders of the Big Education monopoly continue to oppose wide-scale competition — even suing over a scholarship program that gives vouchers to low-income kids whose parents believe the traditional classroom isn’t meeting their needs.

What’s so threatening about helping a child succeed?


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Reality Bites: Job-Killing EPA Regulations Lead To Plant Closures

Think it’s rhetoric when we talk about the job-killing impact of over-regulation? It’s not, and here’s a prime example. Thanks to the EPA’s rules, power plants are closing. What does that mean for the workers? It’s obvious.

The Institute for Energy Research, in its latest report, predicts more than 72 gigawatts of “electrical generating capacity” are going offline. “To put 72 GW in perspective, that is enough electrical generation capacity to reliably power 44.7 million homes – or every home in every state west of the Mississippi River, excluding Texas,” IER report says.

The EPA has received hundreds of thousands of comments on the proposal as it pushes to finalize the rules.

The agency calls it a “commonsense plan” that will tackle the health and economic risks of climate change, including avoiding thousands of premature deaths.

But as the agency claims to be giving states flexibility, those trying to meet the new eco-friendly rules say they are up against unrealistic standards.

In Wyoming, for example, four coal-fired power plants are set to be prematurely shuttered because they fall short of the requirements imposed by the Obama administration to curb carbon emissions.


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How About Fewer Regulatory Hoops For All Of Them?

Carolina Journal’s Barry Smith reports on a regulatory fight that’s brewing over new, technology-based competition for rides and rooms. Taxi drivers, for example, face regulatory hoops. The new competitors don’t face all the same rules and costs. Predictably, some are calling  for the new services to be brought into the regulatory scheme.

Frustrated by their lack of authority to police upstart businesses in the “sharing economy” — a marketplace relying on direct negotiations between providers and consumers — some North Carolina municipalities are asking the General Assembly for permission to regulate businesses such as Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb.

Uber and Lyft are smart phone app-based ride-sharing services that have begun operating in a handful of North Carolina cities. Airbnb is an online service that allows people to rent a room, apartment, or house from the owner, bypassing real estate brokers or apartment management companies.

A Charlotte municipal official as well as competitors of sharing economy businesses approached the General Assembly’s Revenue Laws Study Committee in November, asking lawmakers to authorize more regulations on these businesses. The committee meets when the General Assembly is out of session to recommend changes in the state’s tax code.

Rather than ensnaring more people and businesses, a more reasoned approach is to use this as an opportunity for a thorough review of the current regulations. In doing so, we can take the opportunity to pare them back so that consumers enjoy many choices that competition brings, and people who want to earn cash can do so.

Katherine Parsons of Wake County, a driver for Lyft and an Airbnb host, said the two ventures help her earn a few dollars to supplement her family’s income.

“I’m a part-time driver; I might drive two hours a week,” Parsons said. “If you overlegislate this, if you make it difficult for me to do this kind of thing, if you make it expensive … I just won’t do it.”

Said David Hippensteel, an Uber driver, state employee, and U.S. Navy veteran, “If you want to regulate me, you need to regulate family and friends as well. What Uber and Lyft does is no different than if I had 50 friends that at any given time would call me up and say, ‘Hey, can I get a ride someplace. And at the end of that ride, they’d say, hey, here’s $10 or $15 for gas.’”


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“students are likely to mistake historical interpretation for historical consensus”

The latest education controversy in our state involves the AP History course that was revised recently by the College Board. Critics say  it’s biased and doesn’t adequately explore the principles upon which our country was founded and/or the historical documents that reveal those principles. This week the controversy came to two consequential bodies: the state Board of Education and a state legislative committee. JLF’s Terry Stoops gives us a thoughtful look at the debate over the AP History course in his weekly newsletter. 

Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute provides an overview of those concerns in a thoughtful blog post titled “10 Thoughts on the New AP U.S. History Framework.” Hess reviewed the new course framework and discussed its development and content with a representative of the College Board. He dismisses unfounded conspiracies and rumors about the revision process, but that is not to say that he was pleased with the current product.

Hess observed that the new AP U.S. History curriculum pays “remarkably little attention to America’s motivating ideals or to the resulting governing institutions.” In addition, he finds that “the [ideological] coloration is especially evident when things get partisan, as in the treatment of prominent Democratic and Republican presidents.” In other words, the course miscasts conservative leaders and shortchanges conservative ideas. Opponents of the redesigned course share Hess’ concern. Whether it is by design or coincidence, the course veers left, sometimes radically so.

That is not to say that the authors of the revised course offer an invalid interpretation of American history. Professional historians and educators widely acknowledge the legitimacy of the authors’ identity politics-based and internationalized interpretive frameworks.

The problem is that high school students often do not appreciate the nuances of historical interpretation. Except in those rare instances when the instructor highlights those differences explicitly, students are likely to mistake historical interpretation for historical consensus. As a result, those who ask different questions about the past are considered outside of the “mainstream” and, in the eyes of students, should not be taken seriously. At this point, the process of inculcating our nation’s highest-performing students with a liberal worldview is well underway.

This controversy brings up a larger point. Those who believe in founding principles must realize that the vacuum created when they fail to choose teaching as a career is/has been filled by others. We’re now experiencing the results.

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This Won’t Go Over Well With Defenders Of The Education Status Quo

At sister blog The Locker Room, JLF’s Terry Stoops reports on impressive new data about the performance of North Carolina public charter schools. DPI reports:

Eighty-four schools were at or above the district level accounting for 67.2%. This is an 8.4% increase from the preceding year. Fewer schools performed below the district. These numbers become more impressive when it includes an additiona19 [sic] schools. New schools typically struggle academically in their first three years.

Be sure to take the time to read Terry’s full post on the data.

The Big Education status quo views public charters as a threat to the system. What a shame. Public charters are an option for parents who don’t believe a traditional public school classroom is serving their child well. Charters are only a threat to those fear they won’t measure up and that will parents will leave the traditional classroom.

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Is This How You Want Your Tax Dollars Spent?

Carolina Journal’s Don Carrington reports on a failed North Carolina project funded by a federal “stimulus” grant – a project that leaves a lot of unanswered questions about how the money was spent and why this went forward in the first place.

Yancey County resident Melissa Graham’s stimulus-funded project converting a former blue jean factory into a mixed-use commercial facility failed, and Graham did not pay tens of thousands of dollars to a subcontractor, but a report from the N.C. Department of Commerce viewed the project as a success, and Commerce says it “met its responsibilities in evaluating the satisfactory completion of all projects and the awarding of the associated grant.”

Graham, who is in her late 30s and lives in a remote area of Yancey County, received the $378,000 stimulus award in 2011 to pay for wall insulation, skylights, a solar water-heating system, and a solar electric generating system at the 60,000-square-foot building in Micaville. She never has owned the facility — which she renamed the Mountain Heritage Expo Center — nor has Carolina Journal been able to locate any formal lease she has signed to occupy the building.

Graham was unable to secure permanent tenants for the center, and had refused to pay $60,000 to one contractor who worked on the building. Sometime in 2013, the building’s owner put the facility up for sale. Graham then tried to get rid of the solar panels, initially posting them for sale on Craigslist before donating some of them to a nearby private school.

Your federal tax dollars at work.

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“protectionism for established providers against competition from new entrants and new ways.”

JLF’s Jon Sanders discusses the burden that overregulation places on the economy.

A common theme — as it is so often with regulation — is protectionism for established providers against competition from new entrants and new ways. Hurdles, red tape, compliance costs, meddling, and so forth all work in effect to stifle and end economic activity.

They are small takeaways compared with the estimated $1.86 trillion annual cost of federal economic, environmental, health, and safety regulation — but they are additional costs that add up. Empirical studies of state regulatory burdens were even more likely than studies of state tax burdens to find negative economic effects. That is why state regulatory reform is so important.

Econometric studies can at least estimate the consumption by Nothing. Appalachian State’s John Dawson and N.C. State’s John Seater recently found that the growth of (just federal) regulation since 1949 has reduced the national GDP down to about one-fourth of where it could be.

That’s why it’s so important that the fiscal reformers in our state legislature have focused on paring back the web of state regulations. By doing so, we are on the track to unleashing the potential of this state once again.

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Such a Sad Reality For These Young People

JLF’s Terry Stoops reports here on the sad fact that huge percentages of incoming freshmen to North Carolina’s community colleges don’t possess basic skills and, thus, enroll in remedial classes.

While the NCCCS should be congratulated for their efforts, they ultimately have little control over the underlying cause of the problem — recent graduates from North Carolina high schools that lack basic literacy and math skills. Ultimately, the remediation rate is a reflection of the quality of a broad and vital segment of the state’s high school graduates. And taxpayers should be troubled by the fact that over 14,000 of them enrolled in one or more remedial courses in a North Carolina community college during the 2013-2014 academic year. NCCCS officials report that their colleges set aside approximately 10 percent of their respective budgets for remedial courses.

Finally, the remediation rate should call into question another indicator of student performance, the graduation rate. Last year, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction announced that the statewide graduation rate was 83.9 percent, the highest recorded rate in the state’s history. Fortunately, there is broad consensus among lawmakers, state education officials, and taxpayers that our public schools must focus on increasing the quantity and quality of high school graduates. The vitality of our state’s economy depends on it.

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JLF Promotes Kory Swanson as 25th Anniversary Approaches

News from the John Locke Foundation.

As the John Locke Foundation prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary with new programs and initiatives, the free-market think tank is also announcing the promotion of Executive Vice President Kory Swanson to the post of president and CEO.

Longtime president John Hood is taking a new job as president of the John William Pope Foundation, a Raleigh-based grantmaker, but will remain chairman of the JLF board of directors. Hood helped found JLF and has served as president for most of the organization’s nearly 25-year history.

More details here.

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