Hanson examines lefties’ love of government coercion

Victor Davis Hanson‘s latest column at National Review Online delves into the role of government coercion in advancing the political left’s policy goals.

What happens when the public does not wish to live out the utopian dreams of its elite leaders? Usually, the answer for those leaders is to seek more coercion and less liberty to force people to think progressively.

Here at home, President Barack Obama came into power in 2009 with a Democratic Congress, a sympathetic press, and allies in Hollywood, academia, unions, and philanthropic and activist foundations.

Yet all that support was not sufficient to ensure “correct” public attitudes about Obama’s agenda on health care, entitlements, taxes, guns, abortion, and cultural issues.

In the 2010 midterm elections, the Democrats forfeited their majority in the House. In the 2014 midterms, they lost their Senate majority and also lost ground in state legislatures and with governorships across the country. Since early 2013, President Obama’s approval rating has been consistently below 50 percent.

How, then, do politically correct planners force the people to think and act properly when they push back?

Extra-legal executive orders can help a president bypass supposed troglodytes in Congress and among the public.

This weekend on Carolina Journal Radio

Volvo’s recent decision to site a new manufacturing plant in South Carolina has helped spur increased interest in the future of targeted tax incentives in North Carolina. Roy Cordato makes the free-market case against incentives during the next edition of Carolina Journal Radio.

Terry Stoops discusses regulatory obstacles standing in the way of new charter schools in North Carolina, plus you’ll hear complaints about one of those obstacles from Marcus Brandon, the former Democratic state representative who helped start a charter school in High Point.

Nationally recognized pollster Kellyanne Conway analyzes key factors in the 2016 presidential election. You’ll also learn why state lawmakers offered a lukewarm response to the recent report from Gov. Pat McCrory’s NC GEAR government efficiency program.

New Carolina Journal Online features

This week’s Carolina Journal Online Friday interview features a conversation with Nick Dranias of the Compact for America about state-based efforts to balance the federal budget.

Katherine Restrepo’s Daily Journal assesses the potential impact of a pending U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare subsidies.

How to Pick a President

Ray Gronberg of the Durham-Herald Sun has an insightful report on the May 20 meeting of the search committee for the next president of the University of North Carolina. The members heard from three consultants who want to be headhunters.

Jerry Baker of Baker and Associates was the most inadvertently amusing competitor. He said that the committee should be open to a variety of candidates, including Obama administration officials who are likely to leave the administration in 2016.

Whom did he think he was talking to? If there is anything that would not characterize this Board of Governors is eagerness to hire someone from the Obama administration.

Baker also said the university needs a “miracle-worker.” This is about the worst advice that can be given to a committee, at least according to a book on presidential searches by former George Washington University president Stephen Trachtenberg. Why? Because there have been few miracle-workers in the past 2000 years, and most of them are not in the higher education business. The committee needs to be realistic and look for someone who can handle the job, not a savior.

A board member, Raiford Trask, responded to Baker by suggesting that the committee might be “concerned that this is your search and not ours.”

To be fair, though, Baker did oversee the selection of past president Erskine Bowles.

The committee will hear from one more consultant next week.

Saudi-led oil price war impacts N.C. offshore drilling

Saudi Arabia’s unwillingness to follow its longstanding policy of propping up oil prices means North Carolina might have to wait for offshore energy exploration.

That’s the assessment of Daniel Fine, associate director of the New Mexico Center for Energy Policy and project leader of a group developing New Mexico’s state energy policy. Fine described a Saudi-led oil “price war” during a presentation to the John Locke Foundation’s Shaftesbury Society.

In the video clip below, Fine explained how falling oil prices tied to Saudi Arabia’s new policy affect North Carolina’s energy options.

2 p.m. update: Click play below to watch the full 55:08 event.

You’ll find other John Locke Foundation video presentations here.

Academic Progress in the House Budget

The NC House budget has been roundly criticized for its large spending increase and provisions for special interests, but at least one new program in the bill will actually save the state money.

The North Carolina Guaranteed Admission Program (NCGAP), which the Pope Center recommended here as a replacement for summer bridge programs, will divert $13 million dollars from the UNC system to North Carolina community colleges, where the money can be used much more efficiently. The House Budget directs schools in the UNC system to defer enrollment for 1305 academically weak students until after they have earned an associate’s degree at a community college. Those students will then be guaranteed admission to UNC schools as juniors.

As Jesse Saffron explained last year, the program saves money, but it also helps students:

Yes, the state’s taxpayers would be better off. But students—especially those from academically inferior K-12 environments—would be the big winners. Rather than go directly to a four-year college and be in over their heads, they could build their skills and study habits, obtain a two-year degree, and then transition to a four-year university. By that time, they will have proved that they have the skills, motivation, and desire to succeed.

To be sure, there are more than 1305 academically weak students at UNC. But this provision could be the beginning of a new, streamlined, and efficient route to educational success for North Carolina’s unprepared students.

The proposed budget can be found here. Scroll to page 72 to read about NC GAP.

Govt. programs return ‘almost all’ their investment? No wonder solar is fighting so hard to keep THAT going

Do this math:

  • 30% federal investment tax credit
  • 35% state investment tax credit
  • 30% federal depreciation
  • 5% state depreciation

Or, as described by the N.C. Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources in its March 2015 Energy Report,

Solar energy investors with sufficient tax liability may combine the 35 percent state ITC with the 30 percent federal ITC and the bonus accelerated depreciation schedule to return almost all of their investment within six years and may receive 57.8 percent of their investment back through tax credits and depreciation deductions within 12 months of placing into service. For an investor subject to a 35 percent federal tax rate and a 5 percent state tax rate, the [following] demonstrates how much of the solar energy investment is returned each year through tax incentives.

NCDENR solar tax incentives
Source: N.C. Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources

It’s no wonder they act as if any change in their tax credits and REPS purchase mandates would devastate them. They aren’t self-supporting at all.


Despite decades of promises to the contrary, they have no plans to be a self-supporting, real industry.

Theirs is an industry whose business model is proudly based, not on capturing customer loyalty and winning investors banking on solar being a competitive industry in its own right, but on capturing legislators’ favors. Their long-term goal is to remain on perpetual government life support.

The solar lobby is like an anti-Pinocchio: it gets no penalty for telling whoppers, and it has no intention at all of ever being a real boy.

More strings, more!

Impact of $4 billion federal ag program: Who knows?

Elizabeth Harrington documents for the Washington Free Beacon a disturbing assessment of a multibillion-dollar federal agriculture program.

The federal government has no idea whether a $4 billion U.S. Department of Agriculture initiative for beginning farmers has worked at all, according to the Office of Inspector General (OIG).

“USDA agencies provided significant financial and technical support to beginning farmers and ranchers, totaling approximately $3.9 billion in FYs 2012 and 2013,” according to an audit released Tuesday. “However, the Department lacked effective performance goals and measures, as well as direction, coordination, and monitoring to ensure that this initiative was effectively accomplished.”

“USDA can neither ensure that the $3.9 billion of beginning farmer assistance in fiscal years 2012 and 2013 has achieved effective and measurable outcomes nor determine if three decades of beginning farmers assistance has resulted in sustainable farming operations,” the OIG added.

A spokesperson for the USDA said that the department had made progress in addressing the concerns raised in the report. “Many of the activities described in this report happened several years ago,” said Wendy Wasserman, the spokesperson. “Since then, the Department has made significant investments to support our nation’s next generation of farmers and ranchers.”

“We are fully committed to supporting the next generation of farmers and ranchers and to taking action on the recommendations included in this report,” she added.

The audit pointed to a report from the Government Accountability Office in 1982 that urged the USDA to accurately measure whether the program was beneficial to Americans. Subsequent reports found the agency has not corrected the problem.