After eight years of Republican domination of the General Assembly, Senate Leader Phil Berger nailed it when he crowed recently, “the financial and economic state of our state is the strongest it has ever been.”
Just look at the numbers. The state’s Department of Commerce announced in January that “North Carolina’s total private sector year-over year wage growth rates have exceeded those of the nation nearly every month since June 2015 – the exceptions being July and September of 2018 when they were approximately tied.”
This echoed the government data crunched by the Department of Numbers website which reported that Real Median Household income rose 9.32 percent in North Carolina, a significantly faster clip than the 8.49 percent rise for the entire country.
The website also reports that real median family income grew faster in our state – up 10.92 percent for the three year period, compared to 8.17 percent nationally. Per Capita income has also risen far more sharply – by 10.65 percent in North Carolina and 8.2 percent in the United States.
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Or consider unemployment. Our large rural population and dependence on manufacturing jobs gave the Great Recession an extra wallop in North Carolina: During the period 2009-12, our unemployment rate averaged 10.2 percent while the national rate was 8.9 percent.
In 2018, the unemployment rate in North Carolina matched the national average of 3.9 percent.
You’d think this broad evidence of success would translate into a big plate of crow for Democrats and their allies. After all, they predicted ruin when the GOP began implementing its program of tax cuts and deregulation in 2011.
Instead, the party that claims to embrace facts, evidence and “real news” doubled down on phony claims and fuzzy math. When their doomsday predictions failed to pan out they began crediting President Obama for our growth, claiming that North Carolina was simply benefitting from a national recovery.
Of course, they never explained how we could enjoy the blessings Obamanomics – which led to historic routes of Democrats in North Carolina and much of the country – given the GOP’s disastrous policies.
Maybe President Hillary Clinton has the answer.
That specious argument has been debunked by the data showing we’re growing faster than the rest of the country. Still, the left continue its push to argue away reality. Now they declare that our state’s growth has merely kept pace with the rise in population. Among other things this ignores the fact that businesses and skilled workers keep moving here in part because of our pro-growth policies.
Those results won’t surprise anyone who isn’t blinded by ideology. Decades of empirical research demonstrate that low taxes and reduced regulation spur growth. Centuries of human history show that free market capitalism is the greatest engine of wealth and freedom.
We might dismiss this misinformation about North Carolina’s economy as typical political blather if it wasn’t connected to a far more dangerous trend: the politics of fantasy and fear, of resentment and victimization now embraced by too many Democrats who are determined to make capitalism a dirty word while raising the banner of socialism.
Given socialism’s track record, from Mao’s China and the Soviet Union to the present-day catastrophes in Cuba and Venezuela, it boggles the mind that this is considered a serious position. Europe’s continuing economic problems – low-growth, little innovation – show the perils of “democratic socialism.” In time, these imagined paradises smack against an unyielding reality. As Margaret Thatcher observed, “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”
The antidote to this left-wing fever is an honest accounting of what works, what doesn’t. A good place to start is North Carolina’s record these last eight years.
Contributing columnist J. Peder Zane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.