Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Conservative Viewpoint
- Is Being Judeo-Christian Politically Correct

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

My wife and I love to entertain and we recently invited an eclectic group to dinner. There was no assigned seating and after pulling up a chair at the head of the table, I observed something interesting: Seated to my right were conservatives, to my left, liberals. What happened next surprised me even more – a calm, intelligent, thought-provoking discussion on various politically hot topics.

To never talk about religion or politics socially is nonsense. There is nothing inappropriate in discussing these subjects. But only if we first are as willing to listen as well as to speak, and second, if we can all refrain from displaying a self-righteous arrogance in our opinions.

To be politically correct or “PC,” places people in a position where many feel they have to be so cautious about what they say, they end up saying nothing. Political correctness is defined as avoiding any language or idea that may cause offense. Society, thankfully, adheres to a certain degree of PC. Avoiding hate speech and racial epithets are two examples. But placing a social prohibition on discussing values, religion, or core beliefs is dangerous. The reluctance to speak up only emboldens the small, vocal, and media-savvy liberals in advancing their agenda.

Karl Marx spent much of his adult life in Paris. He was a 19th century philosopher, political economist and revolutionary. He supported displacing capitalism for communism. Marx was an advocate of a state free of religion. Economic analysis was less important than cultural analysis. Marx saw the need to control the media, arts, theatre, and film to achieve his ultimate “classless society.”

Marx’s model for his “utopia” failed. The U.S.S.R. crumbled, and the economies and societies of Cuba and North Korea have been rendered impotent. Yet the American left, like Marxism, continues its assault on Judeo-Christians by eroding their freedom of speech under the pretence that they’re not PC, thus narrowing the range of acceptable opinions to theirs. By injecting intense emotion and moral indignation into the discourse, they often grab the headlines. Judeo-Christians can also be guilty. But in spite of their oft misguided tactics, at least they’re seeking to preserve the historical values of western society, while the left is feverishly at work trying to destroy them.

Western civilization’s core is its Judeo-Christian’s beliefs. In America, the 92 percent of Americans polled believe in God, according to a recent Fox Opinion Poll. Other polls reveal similar numbers. God appears on our currency, our public buildings and historical documents, and His name is referenced at the beginning of every session of Congress. A 2005 American Defamation League Poll found 64 percent of Americans believe the Ten Commandments should be posted in the public square, and 51 percent believe the Bible over Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

Judeo-Christians have always believed in the sanctity of life. Yet each year life’s value is diminished. The left claims that most of the country is pro-choice. But today, 43 percent of Americans identify themselves as pro-life, up from 33 percent in 1995. The trend appears to be moving steadily toward a pro-life majority. In a recent Gallup Poll, 72 percent of Americans said they support a ban on partial-birth abortion.

There are those who have bought into the lie that faith is personal and thus should be left out of political discussion. Everyone needs to understand that there are those from Judeo-Christian backgrounds who believe faith is relevant and must be part of the public conversation.

In another example of the left using PC to intimidate, many Judeo-Christians, as well as others, oppose illegal aliens gaining access to our jobs, schools and other government benefits and are being told by the left that they’re mean-spirited or racist and reminded it was immigration’s diversity that made America great. Immigration did make this country great through legal, documented and controlled immigration, not the current chaos of open, uncontrolled borders. Protecting the homeland from the current invasion of illegal aliens is relevant, and Judeo-Christian’s see their views as essential in helping to find a solution.

Today in this country there are 26 percent of Americans who identify themselves as liberals, imposing their views of societal norms on the 74 percent of those who aren’t? Many Judeo-Christians believe the nation is being hijacked by the left and yet they’re letting it happen by adhering to the liberal’s standards of political correctness. It doesn’t have to be that way. At our dinner party, the evening’s dialogue among our conservative and liberal friends, Christians, Jews and agnostics, was one of mutual respect, absent of ridicule, argument and attack. Why can’t all of our hot-button discussions be the same?

Bob is making an idealistic point. Political correctness has itself been a major part of the confrontation between conservatives and liberals for a few years. One Conservative Writer, Ann Coulter, has actually become famous for using a reverse PC standard. She simply attacks liberals with the same ferocity that liberals attack others and with the same goal they have; intimidation. What annoys liberals is that Ann is smart enough she usually can get them outraged and win the argument. That is not what they consider to be a fair fight, losing. They immediately equate losing to fighting dirty and intimidation.

After all, that is really all that PC is about. Intimidating the other side into walking away from the discussion and conceding the point by default.

A part of their tactic is to insist that any label of them is an ad hominem attack. If you call someone a liberal they denounce that as an ad hominem attack. Claim they are advocating socialism and they insist you are using ad hominem attacks. Any label is denounced as an ad hominem attack no matter how accurate.

However they have a great number of labels that they hurl with no attempt to defend them. Racist. Mean spirited. Intolerant. Christian.

This double standard allows liberals-progressives-socialists to win any argument.

It is interesting that we even have one part of the social conservative element within the Republican Party that is adopting their tactic even as they adopt socialism as a part of the new agenda of social conservatives. Here is a link to an article by a socialist writer who is a social conservative Republican. He is mad at what he calls the leadership of the Republican Party for rejecting socialism as a part of our agenda. He threatens to leave the party unless we concede to his views.

As you can see from my comments on his article my reaction is to ask such people to leave our party. Good riddance. I have no plans to become a socialist or allow them in the Republican Party. Part of the intensity of my reaction may well be a lot of practice in what has come to be called “flame wars” on the Internet. No matter what you say, there is an element on the Internet that will immediately attack you and try to get you angry. The game becomes one in which you keep chatting about the issues while dropping insults along the way until the other person becomes so angry they stop thinking clearly. The person who becomes the angriest always loses. I think it is fun and have gotten a lot of practice at it. Part of the problem with conservatives is that most don’t like the game.

I found the coincidence of Bob addressing this issue the day after I found myself in a "flame war" with a social conservative to be interesting. It appears that we not only can’t have a non confrontational discussion between liberals and conservatives, we are starting to have a problem having a non confrontational discussion between different flavors of conservative.

It would be interesting to live in the polite world that Bob admires. However the double standard of the left, where attacks on conservatives are okay but anything Ann Coulter says is considered horrible and intolerant, does not give me much hope we will return to such a reasonable standard of discourse. Bob’s polite friends are rare in today’s world. Those of us practiced in the "flame wars" of the Internet joyfully engage in verbal warfare even with some of our friends.

The answer to Bob’s title is an unequivocal “not a chance”.

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Conservative Viewpoint
- An Early Prediction In The Race For President

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

There are two jobs that would drive me crazy: a pollster and a campaign manager. With the 2008 elections less than a year away these folks are working overtime trying to make some sense of a diverse electorate. Candidates today depend on polls to assist them in developing their message so that it sells- perhaps too much so. It is no longer enough for candidates to be themselves. Voters are fickle. Someone that supports a candidate one day may oppose them the next. No wonder a candidate’s survival often depends on double-talk, amnesia, and evasiveness.

There are three distinct groups of political ideologies in America today: conservative, moderate and liberal. Thirty- six percent of Americans identify themselves as conservatives, 35 percent as moderates, and 26 percent liberals. There are approximately 72 million registered Democrats, 55 million Republicans and 42 million Independents. To capture a national or statewide election a candidate must have crossover appeal. For regional and local candidates, incumbency is difficult to overcome. Crossover plays a smaller role. The voter base is more stable. It’s easier to define a message that resonates.

There are five groups of conservative voters:

Enterprisers: consist of primarily patriotic, affluent, white men who favor an assertive foreign policy and limited social welfare.

Social Conservatives: A broader group, they support some government intervention, especially concerning the environment. They are primarily white Southern females.

Pro-Government Conservatives: very religious and socially conservative.

Upbeats: the name speaks for itself- don’t necessarily identify with any party but overwhelmingly supported George Bush in 2004.

The Disaffected: cynics unhappy with their own financial situation. Many don’t vote.

On the other side liberals, with their 26 percent of the electorate, are less diverse in ideology than some of their Democratic brethren. They’re generally well- educated, affluent and highly secular. They’re liberal on social issues like abortion and gay rights. They oppose an assertive foreign policy. They’re strong environmentalists and solidly support giving to the poor. Their passion provides an effective, united voting block. Eighty one percent of this group supported John Kerry.

Conservative Democrats: religiously and socially conservative. Often have a more moderate approach to foreign policy. Sixty- five percent voted for Kerry.

Disadvantaged Democrats: primarily minorities and heavily female. They don’t trust government or business, yet support programs for the poor. Eighty- two percent supported John Kerry in 2004.

What do Republicans need to do to hold the White House in 2008? The four major candidates- John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee- can’t win without first capturing the conservative vote.

For Huckabee that doesn’t appear difficult. He’s a Southern Baptist minister, attractive to conservative voters and Evangelicals. Assume he’s the nominee and gets the bulk of the 36 percent of the conservative vote. He still needs to draw moderates from both parties. Social conservatives appear to be his best opportunity. They’re extremely concerned about the growing immigration problem and Huckabee offers a plan that, while strict, may reverse the tide of illegal aliens entering this country. On the flip side, being an ordained minister might turn off some secular voters.

Conservative Christians have a problem with Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith. Even though this shouldn’t be a litmus test, with much of this block of voters, it will be.

Giuliani also has difficulties convincing this group that he’s the real deal. He’s pro-choice, has had three marriages and an on- going public feud with his children. His poll numbers are dropping.

That leaves McCain. He’s experienced and has had a resurgence in the polls. He must avoid scandal to keep moving up. A decorated war hero, he may be someone conservatives can live with. He could appeal to enough Democrat Conservatives to put him over the top on Election Day.

Who can capture the White House for the Democrats?

The leading candidates are Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama and John Edwards. Edwards and Obama would carry the majority of votes from the 26 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Liberal.

Clinton, less than appealing to this group because of her stance on the war, will, as the nominee, bring those voters home to roost. She must hold her base and capture a significant portion of the social conservative vote to win.

Edwards and Obama oppose the war. They are betting that will bring them the nomination and then victory in November by tapping into the anti-war sentiment. Obama’s “fresh face” appeal may get him the nomination, but his inexperience will keep him from being elected. If Hillary stumbles and experience becomes an issue, Edwards will be the nominee.

So here’s my non-professional early prediction: Hillary Clinton vs. John McCain. McCain wins.

Bob Steinburg is a good writer. However I am not sure he is a good predictor. This prediction will certainly be interesting if it comes to pass.

Since I generally don’t like to make predictions I have to express some admiration for Bob’s willingness to go out on a limb like this. However I think it important to summarize some of the attributes of the two candidates he sees as winning their party's respective nominations.

Hillary Clinton - Democrat. An extreme liberal who sees taxing you more as the proper role of government; and yet she has convinced a large portion of the populace she is moderate. She failed her bar exams the first time she took them; and yet she has convinced much of America that she is not a devious person who takes credit for the ideas of others but is the smartest woman in America. She knew her husband was cheating on her; and yet for political gain managed the “bimbo eruption” process to defend him, cynically enabling him to cheat on her again and again. This is the woman who just this week put out a flyer attacking Barack Obama using quotes from John Edwards as if he put it out. This is a person who has abused power on so many occasions using arrogant duplicity that the idea she will have the power of the Presidency is frightening to anyone who believes in our system of government.

John McCain - Republican. Graduated at the BOTTOM in his class at Annapolis. Has never held any significant position of leadership. Has a reputation for having rages and throwing temper tantrums if anyone questions his decisions. He has contempt for anyone who wants our borders protected. He is loved by the press because he is condescending and contemptuous of his party’s base, conservatives. He led passage, in McCain-Feingold, of the most damaging subversion ever to the right of free speech, especially the political speech that was at the heart of first amendment rights, and as usual had nothing but disdain and contempt for anyone who expressed concern. Many will never forgive him for undermining the appointment of conservative justices with his “Gang of 14”, a blatantly arrogant move to subvert a President he still hates. A blogger Publius has posted “There are plenty of people that . . . dislike him, and among them are bloggers who will help crucify him.” [I am one blogger who will help.] The one issue on which he reliably agrees with conservatives is the surge in Iraq. He led that battle.

Bob, you may be right. I know you are smarter than I. These two may be the finalists we have to choose from. However neither is someone I can vote for with an easy conscience. I sure wish you hadn’t ruined this Christmas by making these predictions. If they really are the finalists that is surely going to ruin next Christmas too.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Conservative Viewpoint
- A Christmas Wish-List For Eastern NC

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

As a child, I couldn’t wait to open my gifts on Christmas morning. I would send my wish- list off to Santa Claus and then wait to discover if my letter really made it to the North Pole. Sure enough, on December 25th most of my wish- list items “magically” appeared under the tree.

Today I have a Christmas wish-list for eastern North Carolina. Unfortunately it’s going to take more than a note to Santa to have this request filled.

In the 1960s there was a region of the country that lagged behind the rest of the nation in income, education, health care, efficient transportation and other infra-structure needs. Parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina (western), Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia were known as Appalachia. Their needs then are consistent with our needs now.

In 1965 Congress passed the Appalachian Redevelopment Act, establishing a commission made up of governors from each state and a state representative. In addition the president appointed a co-chairperson. Counties within these regions needing economic development would be identified. Upon project approval the federal government would provide 50 percent of the funds needed to underwrite the cost, matched equally by the states.

Over the years this program has helped transform economic depression into economic prosperity. Eastern North Carolina needs a similar initiative.

Last January, the U. S. House of Representatives introduced a bill that would establish the Southeast Crescent Authority. Eastern North Carolina and regions of other southern states not eligible for assistance from the Appalachian Regional Commission would qualify for assistance. The intent is to spur economic development by approving grants to states and public non-profit entities. This bill has been referred to a subcommittee for further study and consideration.

Meanwhile our region has pressing needs. Many of our water and sewer facilities are operating at full capacity and some systems are deteriorating. There are areas in our region that couldn’t handle another residential sub-division, let alone commercial and industrial development. Establishing a regional bond authority to address these needs would be a viable solution that would spread the cost only among those impacted. This could be accomplished without raising taxes by re-prioritizing county and town budgets and cutting out the fat and duplicity.

Our region lacks major highways needed to attract business and growth. Highway 17 should be expanded to four lanes from north to south. Highway 70 needs to be four lanes as well, from Raleigh to the ports at Morehead City. One of the major reasons for the disappointing results in the Global Transpark in Kinston can be attributed to a lack of adequate development of this roadway.

Raleigh needs to immediately take action to reverse the number of failing students and dropouts in our public schools by removing the cap from the number of charter schools currently allowed, and establishing a voucher program to bring school choice to those who need it most. Return control of the public schools to local school boards who can better discern their student’s educational needs.

Raleigh must cut the state corporate and individual income tax rates, currently the highest in the Southeast. And Congress needs to extend President Bush’s tax cuts set to expire in 2010. These actions alone will help stimulate business investment.

Once these problems are addressed, diverse economic development will follow. Because of our high water tables, our rivers, our sounds and our closeness to the ocean, environmentally friendly businesses should be encouraged. These businesses would spawn a plethora of support enterprises like banking and shipping, as well as providing a huge shot in the arm to residential and commercial building.

Envision a research development area similar to the Research Triangle that would run from Elizabeth City to Rocky Mount, to Greenville and Morehead City. Building upon our base of existing colleges and the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, we can become a leader in education and a reservoir for economic opportunity and development. Good paying jobs will surface, driving wages in all sectors upward. Individuals should no longer need two or three jobs just to make ends meet. The region’s unemployment numbers will fall and eastern North Carolina will become a destination for more than tourists and retirees.

A child’s Christmas fantasy, you say? It can’t happen here, you quip? I disagree. Eastern North Carolinians are hard- working, God- fearing people who only seek opportunity to improve their futures. Perhaps Santa can’t provide it, but someone can.

In the holiday film classic “It’s A Wonderful Life,” Jimmy Stewart played the role of George Bailey, president of the Bailey Savings and Loan. He believed in the people of Bedford Falls and risked his bank to help his friends and neighbors in need. Eastern North Carolina needs visionaries like George Bailey in government today.

First let me applaud Bob's support for Charter Schools and vouchers. These competitors for education dollars will do miracles for increasing the effectiveness of our overall education system. I also love the image that comes from the movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Christmas is a great time for people to come together. However . . . .

Bob, I think your "conservative" credentials are looking rather shaky. Are you encouraging the development of say, a "Randy Parton Theatre" for Eastern North Carolina? That was a recent "development" of the North East Partnership, our current local redevelopment agency. You might check out how that is working before you recommend another redevelopment agency!

I also oppose your suggestion of widening highways before we are connected to the outside world with freeways. I believe we can benefit greatly from freeways and would love you to support those. Here is why:

Widening an existing highway to four lanes is at most a temporary very expensive local solution and poor at that. Region after region has discovered that unless you connect a town or region with freeways (limited access highways that do not allow driveways to slow traffic and kill people) first, development will lag. The widened roads rapidly get congested near towns and the speed limits lowered, driving off long distance traffic and growth. Unfortunately our local governments in Eastern North Carolina have fought freeways again and again. The small business owners and government officials simply do not understand the dynamics. They oppose the freeways that would bring people here and demand that we widen existing highways instead with whatever money we can get access to.

Freeways use on-off ramps so people can move quickly to where they want to go. They bring people to us from long distances away. They keep trucks and through traffic off local streets minimizing the need to widen them. Building a freeway near a town never causes businesses to move on to the freeway, since they can't. Making a highway four lanes usually results in businesses relocating and leaving the downtown area, harming the community, not helping.

I am not a fan of government "development" commissions as they usually do more damage than improvement, wasting tax dollars in the process. However the incredible success of the Interstate Highway system should be lesson for our region. Connect us to other areas with freeways and it will drive growth. The current work on U.S. 17 should be done as freeways parallel to the existing roads and not widening of the existing roads. We even need to get the state to rework some of our existing four lane highways into freeways to make sure they do not degrade with development and driveways. The "expressway" sections between Willamston and Edenton would be a great candidate.

I concur with infrastructure upgrades like these. I even concur with water and sewer system upgrades. However much of so called "development" is disasters like the Randy Parton Theatre. How are you going to keep these from happening? Government redevelopment agencies traditionally oppose the tremendous help to the poor of cost effective retailers like Walmart. Studies have proven that every poor family in the area of a Walmart benefits annually in the amount of $500 to $1000 in cost savings (even if they don't shop there) due to the reduced prices forced by the competition. Show me a poor family that can't use an extra $500 a year! Yet governments all over our area are fighting Walmart at every turn. Government should never be in the business of determining what businesses succeed or fail. They don't have a clue!

Sort of like their lack of understanding why we need freeways and not widening of existing highways.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Conservative Viewpoint
- Rising Taxes - How Fed Up Are We?

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

Don’t buy into that myth that the Republican Party is the party of the rich. If true, I certainly wouldn’t qualify for membership – or many of my Republican friends. There are rich, poor, and middle class members of both parties and there always have been.

Widening philosophical differences, not wealth, are what make it easier to distinguish one party from the other. Republicans emphasize accountability and initiative while nurturing and promoting the free enterprise system. Republicans stand for lower taxes. Democrats see government as the solution to any problem. In the process they create a costly, cumbersome, and inefficient bureaucracy that continues to consume more of our individual wealth each year through higher taxes. Will further increasing taxes risk a full-fledged taxpayer revolt? The seeds for such an event may already be sown.

The Republican Party paid a huge price in 2006 by forgetting why people sent them to Washington. Their “Contract with America” in 1994 gave them control of the House and Senate for the first time since 1952. It was a mandate for change. Voters sought and were promised fiscal responsibility and accountability from this new regime. In the beginning that’s just what they got. But by the turn of the century Republicans were stricken with “spenditis,” a contagious disease that seems most prevalent in areas where legislative business is conducted. This disease is also referred to as the “arrogance of incumbency.” Reckless spending cost Republicans control of the House and Senate.

Paul Weyrich, chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation, feels candidates who oppose new taxes increase the likelihood of their being elected. Most Republican candidates for president have signed the Americans for Tax Reform “No Tax Increase Pledge.” Democrats have not. Democrats know this will be a hot issue in ‘08, but are muzzled by organizations like, heavy contributors to the Democrat Party and advocates of bigger government and more spending.

Local government is no better. These politicians have joined their counterparts in Washington and Raleigh in increasing the intensity of their menacing tax bite on the very people they are supposed to fairly represent. Voters here and elsewhere are beginning to bite back.

In November, North Carolina rejected an increase to the real estate transfer tax. Sixteen county referendums were overwhelmingly defeated.

In Indianapolis, a political neophyte, Republican Greg Ballard, made incumbent Bart Peterson’s increasing taxes the central issue in his campaign. In spite of little money and no major endorsements, Ballard won the race for mayor.

New Jersey voters defeated ballot questions for the first time in 17 years, rejecting a “property tax reform fund” and one where they would have picked up the tab for a questionable form of stem cell research.

In Wisconsin, a state known for spending heavily on education, voters soundly defeated a referendum to authorize the largest school bond issue in state history.

It appears there is a trend. The middle class, squeezed by escalating costs in housing, food, gasoline, utility costs, health care, their children’s college education, and ever increasing tax burdens, have had enough. While tax cuts might help, they are not a free lunch. We need to first decide what government should and shouldn’t be doing for us. Government must maintain a delicate balance to help insure our nation’s economic engine keeps humming while providing us an equitable tax structure.

To get government to cut taxes they must first eliminate waste. As the bereaved widow in “Death of a Salesman” says, “Attention must be paid.” There are billions of dollars in government waste. Federal, state and local—it’s at every level of government. Incredulously some politicians tell us they are doing all they can to control spending. Yet if we look beyond the rhetoric we can find waste and duplicity everywhere. Here is one example.

In Washington County the tax department used to be run by two people. This was before computers and when the county had a larger population than today. Everything was done manually. Now armed with modern, efficient computers this same department employs five full-time personnel. After voters rejected the land transfer tax referendum this November, county officials stated they now have no choice but to raise property taxes. Really?

This is only one of thousands of examples of fiscal ineptness in county and local government. Imagine the waste in state and federal spending. No wonder voters are saying “Whoa Nellie” to tax increases.

Taxpayers of all stripes have run out of patience with their elected officials. I know I have.

They say in life timing is everything. If that’s true, than the Republican Party needs to successfully articulate and sell their vision for less government, fiscal responsibility, lower taxes and renewed financial accountability before the November 2008 elections.

Good article Bob. The image of Republican "fat cats" is becoming a thing of the past. The term "limousine liberal" has become the reality. Whether they are registered as Republicans or as Democrats . . . . today the rich give their money and their allegiance to Democrat politicians, who are all too often corrupt. More Republicans need to say loud and clear, effective government is limited government. We are not against government. We simply believe that all society, including government, should be run as well as most business is run. That will not happen as long as Republican "fat cats" talk a good story but give money to Democrats. We don't even hold Republican leaders to that accountability. We are the party of principaled middle class, hard working and moral. We need to run the rich out of the Repubican Party.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Conservative Viewpoint
- North Carolina Needs Less Legislative Pork

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

There is an obesity epidemic in the U. S. and North Carolinians are among the most significantly overweight. Perhaps the steady diet of pork we’ve been fed by our Democrat- controlled state legislature over many years has contributed to our declining physical and fiscal health. We North Carolinians need to consider changing this steady diet of fat to something leaner.

The phrase “pork barrel spending” originates from the Civil War era when slave owners dipped into the barrels of cured pork to feed their slaves. Today it is the taxpayers who are being fed from the pork barrel.

Former U. S. Senator Everett Dirkson from Illinois said “A billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” North Carolina’s $205.4 million in new pork barrel spending for fiscal years 2007-09 is real money too and state taxpayers are often clueless where these tax dollars go. One thing is for certain-- excessive pork consumption has contributed to North Carolina’s unenviable distinction of being the highest tax state in the southeast.

Pork barrel spending are payouts benefiting a legislator’s district and can be in the form of slush funds given to preferred groups to be spent at their discretion. It can also include money for nonprofit organizations that should really be raising cash on their own. The Democrats who have controlled Raleigh for years have used this spending as a tool to insure they remain in power by delivering the bacon to their districts. This often flies in the face of fiscal responsibility.

The Civitas Institute, a research and public policy organization in Raleigh, provides some examples of the millions of taxpayer dollars wasted on pork barrel projects in the new state budget:

· $ 25 million on a public-private partnership for the N.C. Research Campus at Kannapolis.
· $14 million for the “One North Carolina Fund,” that critics have labeled Governor Easley’s “walking around money” used for special handouts to preferred corporations in his business recruitment efforts.
· $14 million from the highway fund for an “economic development fund” that is basically a slush fund for the 14 members of the Board of Transportation who each receive $1 million to spend as they see fit.
· $3.5 million for a vaguely described N. C. Center for Automotive Research.
· $1.2 million to provide chauffeured limousine transportation for trade shows of “international significance.”
· $250,000 for the non-profit Jewish Heritage Foundation to produce a documentary on Jewish life in North Carolina.
· $2 million to Johnston & Wales University-a private university in Charlotte. This fulfilled a promise made by Democrat House speaker Jim Black who resigned earlier this year for political malfeasance.

Examining the entire earmark (money requested but not actually spent) last session, submissions totaled $1.49 billion dollars and by a ratio of 6 to 1 those were made by Democrats. The Democrat spending requests amounted to 86 percent of the total dollar amount considered by the legislature, compared to Republicans 14 percent. It appears Democrats have more of a taste for pork than Republicans.

There is also recurring spending in our state budget for items that can also be considered pork. Unlike the aforementioned, which needs legislative consideration and approval for each budget period, recurring items, once passed, never need to be voted on again.

A glaring recurring waste item is the millions of dollars being dumped into Lenoir County’s Global Transpark in Kinston, which has never lived up to it’s mission. It was envisioned as a tool to bring jobs to economically depressed eastern North Carolina from new global or domestic industry. It also was designed as a launching pad for our state’s agricultural exports abroad. While a grand idea on the surface, there was one basic ingredient missing that would have increased the probability of the industrial park’s success: highway access. Highway 70 is simply inadequate to handle the trafficking for the likes of a UPS, Volvo, or BMW. It’s time to pull the plug and put this dog to rest.

A union leader once told me that even though he knew the management of his company was in extreme financial peril he could not convince his fellow union members. The membership said if he wanted to remain president he had to press for more wages and benefits or else they would strike. He did. The company closed its doors.

Unlike those unrealistic union members we must realize we are paying a heavy price for our legislature’s excessive pork spending projects, much of which never sees the light of day. Not all pork is bad, but like everything else in life, moderation is the key to healthy living.

A related problem with pork barrell spending is the corruption that usually accompanies it. There is little surprise that the more pork barrell spending that you get, the more illegal campaign contributions you will see. Or even "legal" contributions that would have been called bribes in earlier years. It is not a fine line between "free speech" and supporting a political candidate for having shared values. However it is a fine line in discerning the motivation of someone who gives the contribution.

In the Republican Party there are a number of wealthy people who give signficantly more money to Democrats than to Republicans. Check the campaign contribution lists. And the wealthiest people in our country are now usually Democrats, not Republicans. They too shower the Democrats with campaign contributions. The reason is simple. Wealth goes where power is, and Democrats have most of the power in a government dominated state. Today, America is rapidly closing in on being a socialist state. Dispensing pork, both big pork (organizational subsidies) and little pork (welfare handouts) is the method by which socialists assure both the rich and the poor support their war against the middle class.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Edenton Christmas Parade