Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Well, they didn't fail for everyone

If Congressional Republicans believe the 2009 stimulus program was a failure because it didn't create enough jobs, how did the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts become a hill to die on? Didn't those also fail to create jobs, for more than half a decade longer?

From The Washington Post:

From Mother Jones:

From 60 Minutes:
Nationwide, 14 million children were in poverty before the Great Recession. Now, the U.S. Census tells us its 16 million - up two million in two years. That is the fastest fall for the middle class since the government started counting 51 years ago.

One of the areas suffering the most is otherwise advertised as "The Happiest Place on Earth," the counties around Disney World and Orlando. Just on Highway 192, the road to Disney World, 67 motels house about 500 homeless kids. ...

Ashley Rhea raised her hand to add something that we didn't expect: "I kind of feel like it's my fault that we don't have enough money. I feel like it's my fault that they have to pay for me. And the clothes that they buy for me."

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Slavery: More illegal than drugs?

In the promo a few minutes ago for tonight's installment of CNN's series on human trafficking, Mira Sorvino said the United States government has spent "in 10 years on human trafficking what we spend in a month on the war on drugs."

"Let's wage a war on slavery," she said.

I'd actually like to hear the argument against reworking those two budgets.

My wife tells me that Sorvino, an actress, has been working against human trafficking for a while. "I'm sure she has her facts straight," Marilyn says.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Gallup: Little trust for Congress, church influence on a 40-year wane

Gallup put out some interesting, if unsurprising, poll numbers yesterday: Americans Most Confident in Military, Least in Congress.

A little more surprising is the nearly continual wane in confidence in churches, given that something like 80 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Column: Govt. apologies cost money

My employers over the years have thanked me for my hard work. And there's a value to that. It means something.

But I always thought, "You know how businesses say thank you? With money."

How does government declare intent? Through tax policy and spending.

If I'm the N.C. GOP, I budget $105 million next year for a eugenics apology. That's $35,000 for every living victim, which I'd split over two years.** I'd seriously consider a joint hearing, go quickly to the floor concurrently in the House and Senate and ask the governor to join in from the beginning.

I'm fighting a Democratic argument that I'm callous, and that I'm for the rich. This sounds like a bargain $52.5 million answer to that problem, and North Carolina would be the first state to do it.

I'd also argue this will produce a positive, if small, economic effect. Many of these North Carolinians were targeted for sterilization because they were poor and considered "feeble minded." How much of that money, do you figure, would be spent on food, medicine and medical care in North Carolina?

And that's all beside the fact that the state of North Carolina had these folks cut open and sterilized to improve the human race.

** I must admit not knowing enough about the state's budget rules, but I suspect this General Assembly cannot easily commit money for the 2013-14 budget, because there's an election before then. Something to work around, perhaps.

Update: I didn't know it when I wrote this column, but writers for the John Locke Foundation, a fairly conservative think tank, have argued in favor of sterilization compensation for years. They published a fresh paper on it July 6.

Said John Hood, the Foundation's president:
"I don't understand, honestly, what the contrary argument is. These were state actions taken on behalf of the stat of North Carolina ... that for decades violated the basic rights of nc citizens."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

NC & Ga., shameful eugenics records

From the Winston-Salem Journal:
"My grandmother and great aunt were victims of the North Carolina eugenics. For years they lived inside the mirrored walls of shame and guilt erected by this state. But here's the irony. Those walls the state built? They don't reflect on my grandmother, or my great aunt. Those walls reflect only on the state of North Carolina."

Image: Charles Holt, sterilized as an N.C. teenager, with ex-wife Janice Hedgecock.

North Carolina and Georgia: The two U.S. states that sanctioned eugenics the longest. You thieving, callous, arrogant fools.

An estimated 7,600 sterilized by the government in North Carolina alone, and as late as 1974. Yet the most enduring thing at today's hearing for North Carolina victims wasn't the sheer, shocking existence of these programs. It wasn't that each victim had such a similar story of lies, depression and difficulty finding a spouse.

It was that the children they did have were such obvious proof that man does not get to decide these things.

Victim testimony excerpts from the hearing:
"That's the only thing I hated about being operated on is I couldn't have kids. ... It's always been in the back of my mind."
- Willie Lynch, sterilized at 14, now 77.

"I couldn't get along well with others because I was hungry. I was cold. ... I was a victim of rape. ... My body was too young for what they did to me."
- Elaine Riddick, labelled difficult, promiscuous and feeble-minded, then sterilized after a Caesarean delivery at age 14.

"You harmed my mother and you killed her womb. Quite frankly, North Carolina, it's premeditated murder. ... You deserve to be punished."
- Elaine Riddick's only child, Tony.

"My momma could read. She could think. She loved her children. She taught school in the neighborhood. ... She was not feeble minded. She was not crazy. She was none of the things that people want to say. ... But she was sick. She was disabled by postpartum and depression. ... She was a victim of domestic abuse, and as she was taken to Cherry Hospital she was welcomed, because they needed a guinea pig. ... We took care of the shell that they sent back to us."
- Australia Clay, daughter of a woman sterilized at 40.

"Dottie and Flossie were just kids. They were people just like you and me and everyone else. They were little girls who would have played mommy if they'd had dolls. ... They were poor people judged unfit to reproduce. ... In a way my family is lucky. My grandmother's rape produced my mother, who grew up ... married my father and gave birth to four children. We are my grandmother's legacy."
- Karen Beck, whose grandmother and great aunt were sterilized.

"The state needs to reward us. 'Cause we got to carry on."
- Lela Dunston, sterilized after "somebody else signed my name."

"You have told these people that they mean nothing. ... It's still being said to my mother 47 years later. ... (My mother) taught me that no matter what was going on in my life, she always had my back. I have never been arrested, I don't use drugs and I have never been on public assistance. I purchased a house and I bought my mother a car and myself one as well. I pay my taxes and I love my family. My mother has everything to do with what I am."
- Deborah Chesson
From an NC writer on Twitter:
Give the survivors ALL the lotto revenue for the next 12 mnths. Deal? Cuz I prefer full Nuremberg for any surviving perps #ncga
I must admit, that sounds more like justice than an apology.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Perdue: A veto, because NC is better

Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed the N.C. state budget today. From the tone of her press conference she may not think very much of you, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee. Mississippi? North Carolina Democrats are constantly saying, let's don't be like Mississippi.

The governor:
"For generations, we North Carolinians have distinguished ourselves from other southern states as a place of opportunity, and a place that understands the value of investing in our people.

Education has been our hallmark – the one area that set us apart from our neighbors and it's propelled our economic success. ...

By extending less than a penny of your sales tax, North Carolina could have avoided these severe cuts. ... I believe (legislators) chose to risk our children's future and our state's brand, around the country and the world, for less than a penny. ...

Folks are saying, quite simply, this is North Carolina, what in the world is going on? That's generational damage. This kind of discussion about North Carolina, who we are as a people, will last long after this budget."
Some of that is from the governor's statement, some from her q&a period. North Carolina's brand came up twice.

Full emailed statements from Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger and Speaker of the House Thom Tills are below. They've both talked this session about bringing North Carolina taxes in line with its southern neighbors, emulating solid GOP states, to a certain extent.

Spkr Tillis:
“We’re disappointed in the Governor’s veto today. Gov. Perdue has had access to this budget for almost two weeks, and she should have made this decision days ago to help provide certainty to counties and school boards across the state. She has shown no leadership on this issue and no willingness to work with the legislature, choosing instead to veto a budget that protects education and creates jobs. We look forward to overriding the Governor’s last-minute veto very soon.”
Sen. Berger:
“The same governor who claims to champion job creation and public education has vetoed a bipartisan budget that does more for both causes than her own proposal. The only explanation for this veto and her statewide media campaign is that the governor believes it is more important to energize her liberal base than to govern responsibly. By placing politics ahead of the public interest, she engages in obstruction of the worst kind, and we will act quickly to move North Carolina forward.”

Macon: Alone in thinking

I'd forgotten this until a friend of mine running for the Macon City Council, Chris Horne, reminded me that the voter registration deadline for the Macon's July 19 elections is a week from Monday.

This surprised me, again, because qualifying closed Wednesday. Then I remembered: That's because Macon is the only city in Georgia with partisan City Council elections.

At least, as of May 2007 it was:
Of Georgia's 534 municipalities, only Macon holds partisan city elections, according to the secretary of state's office.
A six week campaign left after qualifying — without counting early voting. That is brisk.

Some times you need to ask yourselves: Is everyone else really wrong about this?

Note: The article linked above is an Associated Press rewrite of a piece I did for The Macon Telegraph. I pulled the quoted from the original.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

On not believing the hype

Boy, it really did not take long to go from this:
Great meeting with Speaker Tillis & Rep Holloway - thoughtful & honest conversation. Met w NCAE Char/Meck for nearly 2 hours.
To this:
"(NCAE stafers) don't care about kids, they don't care about classrooms, they only care about their jobs and their pensions," Speaker of the House Thom Tillis said.
How did that relationship sour so fast? Apparently talking the talk is different than walking the walk. Who knew.

From Brian Lewis, the NCAE's chief lobbyist, via email this week:
The turning point seemed to be when teachers and educators began pointing out that (Tillis') budget does not protect the classroom. When we pointed out in private to his office they ignored us. When we began telling the story to parents, as we are doing now, that started the vendettas and the pettiness.
When I get a chance, I'll ask Speaker Tillis the same question and update, but it's safe to say he disagrees.

Update: I spoke to the Speaker's chief of staff, Charles Thomas this evening. Yes, they disagree. And they don't think much of the NCAE.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Big change for NC's E-verify bill

From a series of bill blurbs I'm working on for The Indy:

House Bill 36: This bill used to crack down on illegal immigration by requiring government agencies and their contractors to use e-verify, a federal program that tracks the citizenship of would be workers.

But a new version of the bill, introduced Wednesday morning, would expand that requirement to every large business in the state, whether it works with the government or not.

Businesses with fewer than 25 employees would be exempt — unless they get a government contract. There's also an exemption for businesses that employ seasonal workers for 90 days or less, which would give farms an out. Beyond that, employers would have to use the system to make sure they don't hire illegal immigrants.

The new bill got a hearing Wednesday morning, but not a vote at the request of the speaker's office, sponsoring state Rep. Harry Warren. Warren said he expects plenty of amendment suggestions between now and Friday, when he predicts a committee vote.

"Everything seems fluid," he said.