Fiscal conservatism comes naturally to me. After all, my middle name is McDonald.
“People generally quarrel,” G.K. Chesterton once wryly observed, “because they cannot argue.”
Now that Pat McCrory has passed the oh-so-important mark of 100 days in office, the political class in Raleigh feels obligated to offer a critique of his administration. The most common one is that Gov. McCrory is playing “small ball.”
For a group of people who claim to believe in empirical study and higher learning, liberal politicians and other critics of North Carolina’s new conservative leaders seem remarkably uninformed or contemptuous of the research basis for the policy initiatives now being debated in Raleigh.
There are many unknowns regarding the proposal Gov. Pat McCrory announced last week to use competitive contracting to reform North Carolina’s Medicaid program. But what I do know about it suggests the governor is heading in the right direction.
I’m a strong advocate for the user-pays principle in transportation. As much as possible, those who use a particular asset – be it roads, airports, seaports or railroads – ought to pay in rough proportion to the operating and capital costs they impose.
When Gov. Pat McCrory released his first state budget plan on the morning of March 20, I happened to be driving to Charlotte for a meeting. Perhaps it was my imagination, but at the precise moment his aides passed out the budget in Raleigh, I think I heard a loud crash as a teetering tower of political hyperbole and conspiracy theories suddenly collapsed in a heap of confusion.
Sometimes, despite good intentions, we just get things wrong. That’s what happened in 2007, when the North Carolina legislature enacted a bill to force electric utilities to buy “renewable” power from wind, solar and other expensive and unreliable sources.
Whether the setting is Raleigh or Washington, the tax reform debate will inevitably come down to one Big Question: Are you willing to trade current tax preferences for lower tax rates?
During the years that North Carolina was riding high, particularly the 1980s and 1990s, state policymakers wrung their hands about the problems associated with a fast-growing economy.
Do you take vitamins? You probably should. It ensures that even if you don’t always maintain a varied and healthful diet, your body gets the baseline level of nutrients.
But vitamins are worth taking only at normal doses. If you take three or four times the recommended daily dose, you don’t get three or four times as healthy. You just waste your money, give your bodily fluids an interesting hue, and in some cases risk a dangerous condition known as hypervitaminosis.
Now is the winter of our discontent.
Or so said Shakespeare’s Richard III, a fictional villain who may have borne at least some resemblance to the fellow just found buried under a parking lot in Leicester. The phrase opens the play, as Richard proclaims that the winter of discontent will be “made glorious summer by this sun of York” – not a reference to the Yorkshire climate but a metaphor for his brother Edward assuming the throne of England.
Now that the North Carolina legislature has sent a clear signal that it opposes both Medicaid expansion and a state-based health exchange, the state capital is abuzz with complaints and speculations.
If your tenure in our state stretches back no further than the early 1980s, you may not be aware of the fact North Carolina’s license plates used to say “First in Freedom” rather than “First in Flight.” So you may not fully appreciate why we chose the title First in Freedom for the John Locke Foundation’s just-published book of policy ideas for the new administration and legislature in Raleigh.
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