• The Bailout Dilemma

    Civitas Institute, a Raleigh think tank, has two of its policy analysts, Brian Balfour and Max Borders, tackle the economics behind the bailout.

  • Corporate Welfare Bill Moves Ahead Despite Public Opposition

    In spite of overwhelming public opposition to corporate welfare, the North Carolina General Assembly is trying to slip in a bill as the 2008 session winds down that would increase the amount of government handouts to specific companies.

  • Gas Prices, Profits and a Silver Lining

    At the Shell Station on Sherron Road in Durham, N.C., you would have paid $3.91 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline this week. Many in the Triangle are wondering: “How can oil companies justify record profits when I have to sell a kidney to fill up?” Somehow, they believe, that’s just not right. But isn’t it? There is a silver lining to high gas prices. And there is a modicum of right in the profits they’re earning, too. But allow me to back up.

  • Culture of Goodie Chasing is Bad for Business

    Governor Easley believes his recent wooing of a Kansas-based aerospace company to the cobweb-covered Global TransPark will "silence" critics who have called the $80 million project a boondoggle for over a decade. Now that we've slept on the news, allow me to break the silence.

  • N.C.’s Sizable Safety Net

    What could your family do with an extra $22,000 per year? Spend it on health insurance? Groceries? Day care? As you daydream about how you'd spend an additional $1,800 per month, think about all the rhetoric this political season from those who have bought into the notion that North Carolina needs to expand its "social safety net" via higher taxation and bigger government.

  • N.C. Business Climate Unworthy of Praise

    In a recent meeting of the N.C. Chamber’s Government Affairs Conference, House leaders made the claim that North Carolina consistently ranks among the nation’s best business climates. This claim, and the “evidence” used to support such a claim, does not stand up to scrutiny.

  • Corporate Welfare Crash Lands in Triad with Skybus

    Imagine. You get a call from your stock broker. He says he's got a line on a can't-miss opportunity: a startup in a hyper-competitive industry, one in which the costs of doing business (inputs) are going up fast, and the failure rate is as bad as the restaurant industry. They're burning through cash. They're burning through credit. Meanwhile their revenue per transaction is among the lowest in the industry. Do you pull out your checkbook? Or do you hang up and fire your broker?

  • Will N.C. Learn From Past Mistakes?

    While it is up for debate whether a full-blown recession will hit North Carolina, early signs of slowing tax revenue have already surfaced. North Carolinians would be wise to remember how our state leaders reacted the last time a recession occurred in 2000-2001, and ask themselves, “Is history about to repeat itself?”

  • Teacher and State Employee Retirement Benefits At Risk

    Shortsighted lawmakers, more concerned with funding pork projects and winning the next election, have put healthcare benefits for future state retirees in jeopardy. Consider that since the inception of the current system in 1978, the state has increased spending by more than 720 percent. Yet during the same period, the General Assembly refused to set aside any funds for future state retiree health benefits. The result has been an ever-mounting unfunded liability that now stands at $23.8 billion.

  • Can N.C. help the poor without making them dependent?

    Supporters of poverty fighter John Edwards are still coping with his exit from the presidential race. We can speculate endlessly about his loss – about Obama’s star quality, or Clinton’s experience-by-proxy. But one fact stands out: voters were not swayed by Edwards’ anti-poverty populism. Why? Maybe people know intuitively that there is only so much government can do about the poor.

  • The Next Nobel Laureate in Economics?

    He hasn't won yet, but should. He should have won before Mohammed Yunus, but certain before Al Gore (who should not have won at all).

  • Tax Handouts to Business Unfair

    North Carolina's political leaders evidently spent $1.2 billion last year planning the state's economy, according to the "Economic Development Inventory" recently released by the General Assembly's Fiscal Research Division. The report outlines the myriad cash awards and legal manipulations used by lawmakers to "stimulate" the economy -- all at taxpayers' expense.

  • Calming Subprime Overreaction

    Just as Sarbanes-Oxley was a draconian and overzealous reaction to Enron and Worldcom, so also is Congress gearing up to bailout borrowers and regulate the mortgage industry unnecessarily.

  • Are Our Schools Swelling with the Poor?

    Shame on the Raleigh News & Observer. A headline story on October 30th declared, “South’s schools swell with poor kids” and later stated, “49 percent of the state’s school children live below the poverty line” was irresponsible journalism.

  • Charge Full Cost for Water

    The closest thing in the Carolina mind to manna from heaven is water from the garden hose. People have long thought that since it falls from above, it ought to be cheap and free-flowing. Our fescue needs a drink. We like our cars squeaky clean. Long showers wake us up in the morning. But as soon as a drought hits, we are forced to implement water restrictions, bans and other Soviet-style rationing schemes. Isn't there a better way?

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