Sunday News: From the Editorial pages


COOPER'S BUDGET PUTS PUBLIC EDUCATION ON RIGHT TRACK: Teacher pay isn’t the only, the best or even most significant, marker for support for education. Cuts force teachers to turn to online fundraising or dig into their own pockets for basic classroom supplies. There’s a shortage of school nurses, guidance counselors and psychologists. Classrooms are badly in need of technology upgrades. Too many school buildings desperately need repairs and renovations. In many growing areas there simply aren’t enough classrooms to house students. Responding by providing pay bonuses to teachers who get trained and carry firearms in their classrooms – as proposed by state Sen. Ralph Hise of Mitchell County and backed by key Senate leaders – is a cynical, token and dangerous gesture.

TRUMP'S IMMIGRATION CRACKDOWN IS HURTING NC FARMERS: President Trump has declared an emergency at the southern border that many say isn’t an emergency at all. But the president’s alarm is creating an emergency in North Carolina. The problem here isn’t too many illegal immigrants, it’s too few. The lack of laborers has hit farmers whose crops can’t be harvested by machines. They need hired hands that can pick without damaging such crops as tobacco, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, lettuce, strawberries, blackberries and Christmas trees. But Trump’s demand for a massive border wall, his accusations that many Hispanic immigrants are criminals and the rounding up of undocumented immigrants by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents has dried up the supply of migrant workers. Wicker estimates that 20 percent of his association’s 700 growers will give up farming this year. “The all-time record high for farm income was in 2014. In 2018, it was half of that,” he said.

12 RIGHTEOUS REPUBLICANS (AND 41 COWARDS): “These are the reasons,” Tillis grandly concluded, “I would vote in favor of the resolution disapproving of the president’s national-emergency declaration, if and when it comes before the Senate.” That op-ed was published on Feb. 25. On Wednesday, the day before the Senate vote, The Hill reported that Rep. Mark Walker, a Baptist preacher and Trump loyalist, was mulling a primary challenge against Tillis. “North Carolina Republican primary voters have made their voices clear,” Walker told The Hill. “They stand with the president. Our senators should as well.” It’s remarkable how quickly principles become situational when a Senate seat is at stake. Remarkable, also, how completely the GOP is now defined by self-abasement. Tillis and Sasse (along with Colorado’s Cory Gardner), may have spared themselves nomination fights with their vote. But voters can always smell a sellout.

LET TEACHERS TEACH, AND NOT BECOME ARMED GUARDS: “This is an idea whose time has come,” Tillman told The (Raleigh) News & Observer last week. Well, no. It isn’t. Just ask the experts. “We are adamantly opposed to any plan that would put firearms in staff hands in our schools,” Mark Jewell, president of the N.C. Association of Educators (NCAE), told Joe Killian of N.C. Policy Watch last week. “It’s just a disaster waiting to happen.” James Martin, chairman of the Wake County Board of Education, agreed. “Arm teachers with books, arm them with professional development,” Martin told Killian. “Don’t arm them with guns.” Martin and Jewell are hardly outliers; 78 percent of teachers surveyed in an Elon University poll in 2018 said arming teachers was a bad idea. The problems with both bills should be obvious. Being a teacher is stressful and challenging enough in itself. So is being a law enforcement officer. And we’re asking that some teachers do both?

THE MORAL WAGES OF THE COLLEGE ADMISSIONS MANIA: I once asked a longtime guidance counselor about her least favorite part of the college admissions season, when students learn if they’ve been accepted by the schools of their dreams. She said that what pains her aren’t the rejections: There are so many of those, they’re an inevitable part of the process and the kids get into other colleges that are plenty terrific. What pains her is a reaction that some of those kids have. “I did all of this for nothing,” they’ll say, meaning the homework, the sports, the other extracurricular activities. And she’s kind of blown away by that. Getting an A in biology — and being awakened, in the process, to the wonders of the natural world — doesn’t matter if a committee of strangers at Stanford isn’t sufficiently impressed? For these kids, education isn’t an opportunity to wring more meaning from life and make a more constructive impact on the world. It’s transactional. It’s a performance. If the right audience doesn’t clap, there was no point in even taking the stage.


PETER DIMEO: DON'T PUNISH TILLIS FOR DOING HIS JOB: (This letter is a prime example of needing to wait until the flip-floppers have flipped, or flopped, before writing your LTE) Rockingham County Republican Party chairwoman Diane Parnell believes Sen. Thom Tillis should be “primaried” for not blindly following President Trump to support his emergency order regarding the border wall. Inexplicably, she seeks to punish Tillis for doing his job. To be clear, his job is not to mindlessly do the bidding of the president, rather, it is to represent his constituency – the people of North Carolina. Polls tell us a majority of the population is not in favor of the president’s end-run around the constitutionally mandated role of Congress: budgetary appropriations. Further, Tillis has made it clear that his vote is to specifically protest the shifting of funds from military construction projects at installations like Fort Bragg to apply them to the fulfillment of Trump’s campaign promises to build a wall. A senator’s job is to fly in the face of any president if that president’s policy proposals are contrary to the interests of the senator’s constituency. History is replete with examples. The man’s doing his job.

MARK SCHLEUTER: THIS COUNTRY IS GOING SOFT ON TAX EVASION: The Paul Manafort sentence should not be a surprise. Judge Ellis gave Manafort 47 months for tax and bank fraud crimes. Dan Horsky, a retired college professor from the University of Rochester, was sentenced in 2017 by Judge Ellis to just seven months in prison. Horsky failed to disclose $200 million that was hidden in a Swiss bank account and failed to report $64 million in taxable income on his U.S. tax returns. Horsky paid the IRS $135 million in taxes, interest and penalties, plus he provided invaluable information to the government. Manafort did not provide the government with any meaningful information and suffered the consequences with a far longer prison sentence than Horsky. Beginning in 2009, the IRS started the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Initiative, which gave amnesty to taxpayers with hidden offshore assets and unreported income. More than 56,000 taxpayers have come forward to date and paid in excess of $11 billion in back taxes and penalties. It is obvious that the government has given up on offshore tax enforcement.

MICHAEL EISENBERG: MAKE THE MUELLER REPORT PUBLIC: Why in my opinion the Mueller report needs to be public: I’m truly amazed at how the times and the Republicans have changed. In the 1970s we had Sens. Barry Goldwater, Hugh Scott and John Rhodes find the courage to tell President Nixon that he was a bringing down the country and dividing it to the point that he needed to resign. Today, in the Republican Party we don’t seem to have anyone with the same courage to step up and tell President Trump this is not who we are and we will not stand idly by and watch you destroy this great country of ours. Do you hear me Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr? Therefore, we need to make the Mueller report totally public with the necessary redaction for security purposes. “We the People” need to know if we have a Russian asset residing in the White House.



From the dark side

J. Peder Zane has fallen of his rocker, and the porch:

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.”

Wage growth is an even less accurate assessment of economic well-being than Median income growth, because the top-tier skews the results. But also, comparing NC to the rest of the nation is also a Pyrrhic victory sort of thing, because the nation has been mostly stagnant:

In 2015 and 2016, low inflation contributed to strong real wage growth, which in turn supported household income growth.

In 2017, and thus far in 2018, inflation has been higher, and while nominal wage growth picked up some, it has not increased enough to offset higher inflation. Thus, real wage growth has been close to zero, providing almost no boost to incomes.

In 2018, increasing hours worked have been contributing to income growth.

Whatever the case, NC's economic outlook is roughly similar to the nation as a whole, which means the trickle-down nonsense that Republicans like Berger espouse have done nothing but make the rich even richer.

And flogging this dead horse makes the author look more like a partisan fool than usual:

Decades of empirical research demonstrate that low taxes and reduced regulation spur growth.

In fact, decades of experience demonstrate otherwise. Reagan nearly destroyed our economy by cutting taxes and deregulating, and George W. Bush actually did destroy it. Both Clinton and Obama nursed those economies back to health, but (once again) we are being plagued by a snake-oil salesman.

More nonsense:

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--

I'm gonna stop you right there, because you just warned about "fantasy and fear," and then immediately launched into a diatribe about Socialism, raising the aura of the Red Menace. There are so many logical fallacies in play I don't know where to start. So I'll just stop.