School Choice Leaders Respond to the NAACP

Here is a great video courtesy of my friends at Choice Media.

About that snake ad

“It’s called the snake — a long, skinny congressional district drawn along I-85 to segregate African-American voters. The snake, and others like it, were drawn by state legislators as a partisan power grab.”

That’s the script from the first half of a new television ad running in North Carolina. And it’s true.

Unfortunately, the rest of the ad is false. The rest of the ad suggests that Republicans drew the “snake” and that N.C. Supreme Court Justice Bob Edmunds helped them get away with it.

But the “snake” first surfaced in North Carolina elections in 1992. Democratic legislators drew it in an attempt to maintain Democrats’ majority within North Carolina’s congressional delegation. Bob Edmunds did not sit on the N.C. Supreme Court at the time.

But state and federal courts did approve the snake for 1992 and for every other election through 2014, including the elections that followed election redistricting in 2000 (by Democrats) and 2010 (by Republicans).

While the ad’s writers have missed the mark in accuracy, it’s likely that they relied on faulty source material. The state capital’s leading newspaper gets this story wrong as well.

Some Class Actions Aren’t Very Classy!

Josh Blackman, who teaches constitutional law at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, was a plaintiff in a class action lawsuit that accused a fitness center operator of overcharging its customers. When the attorneys representing the class entered into an agreement under which the fitness center operator paid almost $1,000,000 more to the lawyers than to the clients they represented, Josh filed a lawsuit of his own. In a recent blogpost, Ilya Shapiro explains why the Cato Institute has filed an amicus brief in the case:

Class actions play a vital role in our legal system. These lawsuits are often the only vehicle for injured plaintiffs to receive compensation when a defendant’s wrongs are widely disbursed and it would be impractical for a single individual to sue.

Yet the process of settling these suits is subject to perverse incentives on the part of the lawyers representing the injured parties. Class counsel often will seek the largest portion of the settlement award for themselves—structuring the settlement to maximize attorney fees—at the expense of class members.

Sadly, this sort self-dealing on the part of class counsel is exactly what happened in Blackman v. Gascho…. A group of plaintiffs sued Global Fitness over the fees, and the parties entered into a “claims-made” settlement.

This type of settlement allows the defendant to make a large amount of money “available” to class members, but in order for the members to collect, they must jump through the hoops of correctly filing claims. Because of the low response rate in such settlements, the defendants will end up paying much less than the funds made available. Indeed, of the $8.5 million made available to the class members, Global Fitness only paid $1.6 million—a payout of approximately 10 percent of the settlement funds. Despite this low payout to plaintiffs, class counsel are still paid a certain rate based on the funds that were made available—not the funds that were actually paid out—in some instances giving them attorney fees larger than the class members’ damages award!

The class counsel here were paid $2.4 million, nearly $1 million more than the class members collected. Josh Blackman … challenged the settlement, arguing that the agreement was giving the class attorneys preferential treatment over the class members who did not collect. The district court approved the settlement, however, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit agreed with the district court by a 2-1 vote.

Cato has now filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to review the case. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e)(2)—and fundamental tenets of due process—require that a settlement that binds class members be “fair, reasonable, and adequate.” In this case, the Sixth Circuit upheld approval of a settlement that provided zero compensation for over 90 percent of class members, and in the process broke with the Third, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits.

The Supreme Court will likely decide by the end of the year whether to take up Blackman v. Gascho.

NC’s sunset and periodic review of rules — more encouraging news

Here are the latest numbers on the progress of the periodic review and examination of existing rules:

  • 8,017 total rules reviewed so far
  • 4,850 rules to remain unchanged
  • 2,296 rules subject to the readoption process
  • 871 rules to be removed

This reform is from the landmark Regulatory Reform Act of 2013. Sunset provisions with periodic review was a policy that, based on my study, I thought would be good for North Carolina.

Why did I think that? For starters, the bulk of economic literature demonstrates regulation’s harmful effects on the economy. Cutting red tape and clearing out overregulation would therefore have beneficial effects for economic growth.

But states have tried many approaches to cutting red tape. Sunset provisions with periodic review, however, is the only state rules review process to have a “robustly statistically significant” effect in reducing red tape. That’s according to a study of state regulatory review processes from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, which also found sunset provisions to have a significant, positive impact on the states economy as well.

Results show that this reform is working. Over one-tenth (11 percent) of the rules reviewed so far are now slated to be removed. Another nearly 29 percent must return to the rule adoption process as if new. Over half (60.5 percent) of the rules reviewed so far were retained without change.

What’s wrong with NASCAR?

The Charlotte Observer has a longer article out looking at why NASCAR attendance is tanking. The problem:

Speedway Motorsports, based in Concord, International Speedway Corporation and Dover Motorsports are three publicly traded companies that own and manage racing facilities that host NASCAR races.

At SMI, which owns nine tracks including the one in Charlotte, revenue from admissions fell 28 percent from 2010-2015. At ISC, which owns 13 facilities, admissions revenue fell 19 percent over that time. At Dover, which owns four tracks, admissions revenue fell 51 percent.

The companies cite a host of factors, including weather and competition from other sports, for the decline. But the struggling “middle class,” also a talking point in the current election cycle, has also started popping up in SMI’s and ISC’s securities filings as a reason.

I’m sorry, but I’m just not buying it. When your revenues are down substantially compared to the depths of the Great Recession in 2010, then your business has a much, much larger problem than whether the state of economy is a bit overstated. No, the real issue is that far fewer people are interested in NASCAR in general, and in see a race in person in particular. Which gets us to:

SMI Chief Executive Officer Marcus Smith notes how capacity at other sports venues has similarly fallen over the last two decades. The emphasis has turned, Smith told the Observer in a recent interview, to building stadiums more for their experience, rather than just for the sport itself.

At Charlotte’s BB&T Ballpark, for example, instead of remaining in their ticketed seats, people are often standing and socializing, grazing through the various local food vendors and craft beer stands.

The same sentiment is true at NASCAR races, Smith said. People are there to enjoy themselves as well as to watch the race. That was one reason for adding the a carnival-like “fan zone” with food and beer stands and games outside the Charlotte track.

“With stadiums that aren’t as modern and that don’t have as much public funding as other professional sports, it’s taken more time to get that kind of infrastructure that’s more modern,” Smith said.

So might we see more NASCAR tracks asking for government money to help keep up with the times in the future? Probably, especially if NASCAR ever decides that it needs less than 36 races plus two big special event race weekend a year.

N&R endorses Davis in 13th; Walker in 6th

The Greensboro News & Record issued its endorsements for local Congressional office today. In the realigned 13th, the N&R endorsed Democrat Bruce Davis over Republican Ted Budd:

Davis is a well-known personality in Guilford County politics. He was a county commissioner for 12 years. He also was the board’s chairman in 2005.

Davis, who operates a day care center in High Point, won the Democratic primary in the district by 112 votes over a Greensboro developer, Bob Isner.

Davis, a former Marine, says he owns several guns and fully supports the Second Amendment. He would tweak but not repeal the Affordable Care Act. He also disputes that Clinton would do anything to infringe on the right to bear arms. Generally speaking, he hews about as closely to most standard Democratic policies as Budd does to Republican ones.

Meanwhile— somewhat of a surprise here—the N&R goes with incumbent Republican Mark Walker over Democrat challenger Pete Gildewell. A somewhat left-handed endorsement, however, especially considering Walker’s support for HB2 and Donald Trump:

Walker gave a warm-up speech for Donald Trump in Greensboro Oct. 14 — despite the accusations by women about Trump’s inappropriate conduct. A month earlier, when the NCAA moved championship events from Greensboro in response to House Bill 2, Walker attacked: “We will not be intimidated by elitists who are attempting to extort and embarrass North Carolina for defending its citizens,” he said in a statement.

HB 2 only defends citizens who want to discriminate against LGBT people. And extortion is a crime. Walker should hope the NCAA returns events to Greensboro after HB 2 is repealed, but casting insults won’t help.

Here’s where the N&R gets it wrong, however–many citizens who support HB2 don’t want to discriminate against LGBT people. They simply believe government shouldn’t dictate bathroom policy on people’s private property that they maintain with their money and their sweat.

Corruption is king

Mark Steyn ponders the role of corruption in American politics.

As I’ve said for years – on radio, TV and in print – for me the overriding issue in American politics is the corruption. In the Obama era, we have seen the remorseless merging of the party and the state – in the IRS, in the Justice Department and elsewhere. Whatever one feels about, say, Scandinavia, they at least come to their statism and socialism more or less honestly. Not so the United States.

It’s bad enough that Democrats aren’t agitated about this corruption – but then it works to their advantage. Slightly more mysterious is why so many of my friends on the right aren’t incensed by it. For months, conservative commentators assured us that, when it comes to straight arrows, no arrow is straighter than FBI honcho James Comey – non-partisan, career public servant, will follow the evidence whereso’er it leads; why, “no one in law enforcement” is “more capable of navigating through a political maelstrom” and any attempts to politicize the outcome will ensure that “Comey will resign in protest, and other high-level FBI officials could follow him out the door”.

All bollocks. Bollocks on stilts. Like everything else the Clintons touch, Comey’s FBI is hopelessly corrupted – and certainly more corrupt than J Edgar Hoover’s FBI, at least in the sense that Hoover was independent enough not to get rolled. The revelations of what happened reveal Comey to be a hack and a squish: he offered immunity to Hillary’s aides not to facilitate his investigation but to obstruct any further investigation; he allowed witnesses to Hillary’s crimes to serve as her “lawyers”; and he physically destroyed the evidence – that is, the laptops. A 6′ 8″ gummi worm would be more of a straight arrow. …

… So, to add to the corrupt revenue agency and the corrupt justice department, we now have a corrupt national law enforcement agency and a corrupt foreign ministry – willing, indeed, to subordinate national security and its own diplomatic policy to the personal needs of Hillary Clinton. Needless to say, if you get your news from ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times, etc, etc, you will be entirely unaware of all this. Which is the way they plan on operating for the next eight years.

A small but telling point: Wikileaks’ Julian Assange has lived in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for over four years. But not until he leaked against Hillary was his Internet cut off. Hillary, out of office, has a swifter and more ruthless global reach than Hillary in office on the night of Benghazi. And, should she win, her view of her subjects is that we should have the same information access as Ecuadorian Embassy refugees.

Prepare for a sexism ‘tsunami’

Heather Wilhelm warns at National Review Online that we’ll soon be hearing a lot more complaints about sexism, thanks to the Hillary Clinton campaign for president.

Say what you will about Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, but it’s done a heck of a job of feeding various ideological hobgoblins across the United States. Some will fade away after November 8; others, alas, will quickly shoot up some proverbial post-election steroids and haunt us with madcap vigor for years to come. When it comes to pure staying power, however, I’d cast my chips on one hobgoblin in particular, no matter who wins the election. That would be the “sexism is everywhere” trope, long beloved by the Left.

Let’s not kid ourselves: Any of this year’s GOP hopefuls would have faced a barrage of accusations of sexism, misogyny, and general monstrous behavior when running against Hillary Clinton. Even if Donald Trump had not decided to take the GOP on his own tawdry, NC-17 version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride — numerous women have lined up to accuse him of sexual assault, and his Access Hollywood comments bragging about doing just that still light up the press — there would still have been talk of “the sexism inherent in all that interrupting” (that’s from the Washington Post) and the woes of “debating while female” (that’s NPR).

The only Republican presidential hopeful who might have dodged this, in fact, was Carly Fiorina, since she is, after all, a woman — but even then, I’m not so sure. Who knows? Maybe her stance against Planned Parenthood would be rendered “sexist.” Maybe she would have made the fatal mistake of referencing something bone-chilling and horrifying, like, say, “binders full of women.”

But enough with the alternate histories: The GOP nominated Donald Trump, he of “grab them by the you-know-what” infamy, and here we are, and it’s almost over except for the crying — and, of course, the rise of a new, improved, never-say-die “sexism is everywhere” narrative.