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Spending has diminishing returns

One of my favorite modern historians, the late Rufus Fears at the University of Oklahoma, was fond of saying that “ideas make history.” University of Chicago professor and North Carolina native Richard Weaver expressed a similar view in his famous 1948 book Ideas Have Consequences.Sounds obvious, I know, but both men were challenging the orthodoxy of scholars, usually but not always Marxists, who believed that inexorable social forces determined the outcome of history. ...

21 hours ago | | | Email

We simply must do better

Officials from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction will present an alarming report on the educational performance of students with disabilities at today’s State Board of Education meeting that calls into question the quality of education the state’s most vulnerable children receive.Only 9.9% of high school students with disabilities scored proficient on the state’s end-of-grade math assessments during the 2012-13 school year – compared to 45%...

2 days 21 hours ago | | | Email

Court ruling on election law reignites a timely debate

The decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to suspend two key parts of the sweeping voter suppression law passed by the 2013 General Assembly may not hold given the leanings of the U.S. Supreme Court, but it does put the issue of voting rights back in the news less than five weeks before the election.In an opinion written by Judge James Wynn from North Carolina, the appeals court partially reversed a lower court ruling this summer and the decision means that for now the ...

3 days 21 hours ago | | | Email

Good news on taxes

Except when complaining that North Carolina isn’t giving enough targeted tax incentives to Hollywood studios, solar-panel manufacturers, and commercial real-estate developers, liberals contend that cutting taxes on business has no effect on business starts, corporate relocation, or job creation.They are mistaken. Fortunately for North Carolina’s economy, lawmakers are properly ignoring their mistaken views.

4 days 21 hours ago | | | Email

Inmate’s death the result of a cascading series of mental health system failures

There has been a lot of media coverage about the death of Michael Anthony Kerr, an inmate with schizophrenia at Alexander Prison. His personal story is heartrending but sadly familiar. After being in and out of jail, Mr. Kerr was sentenced to prison as a habitual felon. He was incarcerated far from his family. In prison, the symptoms of his mental illness triggered disciplinary actions which eventually landed him in segregation. Any reasonable person hearing the facts of his death – fro...

5 days 21 hours ago | | | Email

My response to ‘I can’t help but wonder’

First of all, contrary to what was stated in a Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014 letter to the editor, my opponent Phyllis Critcher has NEVER worked in the Ashe County Register of Deeds office. She also caused hardship on the office by requesting emails from Jan. 1, 2010 through June 6, 2014.I worked 79.5 hours compiling this information for her when I could have been helping my staff as I do every day.The Register of Deeds office Revenues and Expenses are part of the county budget....

6 days 21 hours ago | | | Email

Debate over gun laws

Sometimes the news of the day begs for a broader discussion of important issues. That happened one day last week on an always polarizing topic.Scrolling through Twitter, news websites and emails that day, it didn’t take long to identify a common thread among many of the breaking news stories — guns. That morning, we learned that a student at a high school in Albemarle near Charlotte shot a fellow student outside the school. The teenage shooter reportedly turned himself ...

7 days 21 hours ago | | | Email

Give polls a college try

The first and only time I ever helped take a political survey was during my undergraduate days at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill back in the 1980s. I was one of many journalism students who made phone calls on behalf of the Carolina Poll, a regular survey of North Carolinians on political and social topics.During the ensuing three decades, the polling industry underwent dramatic growth and change. Here in North Carolina, several different groups now commission or cond...

9 days 21 hours ago | | | Email

A more interesting Senate race, in fiction

While you are watching U.S. Senate campaign television ads, occasionally interrupted by brief segments of programming, do you ever wonder what goes on inside the candidates’ campaign organizations?For instance, what if you could take on the role as the top aide to an incumbent North Carolina U.S. senator running for reelection against a top state official who has a full war chest of campaign funds? Interesting? Challenging?

10 days 21 hours ago | | | Email

Education debate is not just about the numbers

The propaganda outfits on the right are doing all they can this election season to distort the numbers about the recent cuts to education made by the folks currently in charge in Raleigh.It seems like every day brings another report or column or chart from a think tank or advocacy group claiming the General Assembly has actually increased education spending in the last few years and given all teachers one of the biggest raises in history.Neither claim is true of course. ...

11 days 21 hours ago | | | Email

Picking news like cherries

How is North Carolina’s economy doing? That is always an important question. During election season, however, it takes on added significance. Fairly or not, voters often hold incumbent politicians responsible for the condition and performance of the economy.While voters know their own situations better than anyone else could, they typically rely on news coverage of government statistics to draw conclusions about the broader economy. So releases of such data as job creation, u...

12 days 21 hours ago | | | Email

I can’t help but wonder

“Why do we have a net loss every year in the Register of Deeds Office? Why did we go nearly $110,000 in the red last year?”That’s a question I’ve been asking myself.Isn’t it time to cut our bloated budget and stop the financial bleeding?In other North Carolina counties, the Register of Deeds office is an asset. Why did it constitute a drain on Ashe County’s scarce financial resources year after year?Comparing our ...

13 days 21 hours ago | | | Email

N.C. making strides in voter registration numbers

North Carolina is home to 9.8 million people and more than 6.5 million registered voters. According to the N.C. State Board of Elections, that means approximately 90 percent of eligible citizens are registered to vote in our state.The state’s voter registration numbers have increased by nearly 1.5 million over the past 10 years. That’s an impressive rise in registered voters, which can be attributed to North Carolina’s booming population growth along with back-to-...

14 days 21 hours ago | | | Email

Letter to the editor

On Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, the Ashe County Board of Commissioners will meet to hear a proposal from the Town of Lansing for a loan to help cover the cost of purchasing land to expand the Creeper Trail Park.As a property owner and small business owner in the town of Lansing, I am writing to express my support for the Town and the creation of what will become a magnificent park.This park, when created, will be one of the largest parks in Ashe County, and the only park to abu...

16 days 21 hours ago | | | Email

Borrow when it saves

Fiscal conservatives tend to look askance at large issuances of public debt. In this sentiment, they are in good company. “I go on the principle that a public debt is a public curse,” wrote James Madison, “and in a Republican Government a greater curse than any other.” His mentor Thomas Jefferson agreed. “We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt,” he said. George Washington warned against “throwing upon posterity the burden which we ours...

16 days 21 hours ago | | | Email

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My response to ‘I can’t help but wonder’

First of all, contrary to what was stated in a Tuesday,...

6 days 21 hours ago | | | Email

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