More Columns

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North Carolina’s state and local governments will likely overspend their projected revenue this year by billions of dollars. So far, few public officials seem panicked about the prospect.

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You may recall that back in early April, a panel of health analysts presented Gov. Roy Cooper with two forecasts: 250,000 COVID infections by June 1, if Cooper’s initial lockdown orders were kept in place, or 750,000 infections by June 1 if the orders were lifted.

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When I began my syndicated column in 1986, politics in North Carolina, and in America more generally, was strikingly different from today’s political scene in many ways. How voters get and process political information has changed, for example. Campaign strategy and tactics have adjusted acc…

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As soon as he heard the news that a mob had torn down statues on the grounds of North Carolina’s State Capitol on the evening of June 19, Gov. Roy Cooper realized his mistake.

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If most Democrats truly believe the proper response to the George Floyd case — and that of others killed during interactions with law enforcement — is to “defund the police,” they are dangerously out of touch with reality.

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The gruesome death of George Floyd, captured on video in vivid and revealing detail, will revolt and enrage anyone with a moral conscience. You witness one human being mistreating another with either actual malice or callous disregard. You witness the tragic result.

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Over the first two months of the coronavirus crisis, our labor-market cratered. The number of employed North Carolinians dropped by 820,000, or 17 percent. Only 56.3 percent of working-aged residents were either employed or actively looking for jobs. That’s the lowest rate of labor force par…

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Our elementary and secondary schools will reopen this fall. During these past months of disruption, dismay and despair, I have never once doubted it. There really is no practical alternative to reopening schools. Life, work and education must proceed.

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So far, the federal government has agreed to borrow some $4 billion and then transfer the money to North Carolina state and local governments to address the health, education, and economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis.

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The precise course of the COVID-19 outbreak and its medical, social, and even political consequences are impossible to know at this writing. But there is at least one thing state lawmakers and other policymakers can take for granted: North Carolina’s economy is in recession.

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Over the past two weeks, Gov. Roy Cooper and local officials have imposed a regulatory regime of increasing severity on North Carolinians. Their stated goal is to slow the spread of COVID-19 so the number of cases requiring hospitalization won’t shoot far above the maximum capacity of hospit…

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I am a conservative who seeks to expand freedom and limit government. In most circumstances, there is an inverse relationship between the two. When government grows in size and scope, it must either collect more taxes or issue more regulations. Both restrict the freedom of individuals to mak…

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President Donald Trump’s latest budget contains some conservative proposals to save the taxpayers’ money. But it relies on an unconservative practice — one that North Carolina’s legislature has wisely chosen not to use.

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Everyone knows that North Carolina is a closely divided purple state. Everyone knows that in 2020, many statewide races and control of the state legislature will be hotly contested. And everyone knows that with Democrats increasingly dominant in urban areas and Republicans in rural areas, th…

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I gather from my social-media feeds and hate mail that North Carolinians are supposed to be infuriated at the way things are going in our state. I have my frustrations with certain politicians, to be sure, but I’m not infuriated. Nor am I alone.

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“Prudence,” wrote the British statesman Edmund Burke, “is not only the first in rank of the virtues political and moral, but she is the director, the regulator, the standard of them all.” Quite right. Unfortunately, prudence has been sadly lacking on the issue of voter identification. It’s r…

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It requires a certain kind of person to think that a 300-page policy report could ever resolve a longstanding political dispute. I fear that, in my early days as a journalist and think-tank analyst, I may have been one of those persons.

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While the health care debate has usually focused on questions of insurance coverage and finance, the composition and delivery of medical services have been changing significantly. Some of these changes are worrisome. Others are promising.

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About this time last year, progressive activists and Democratic politicians were trumpeting the news that North Carolina was 49th in the country in friendliness to teachers, according to a study by the website WalletHub. The state’s low ranking proved that Republicans disliked public educati…

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During the 1990s and early 2000s, urban elections were an arena of robust partisan politics in North Carolina. Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and other major cities elected Republican mayors — although usually these were officially (read: nominally) nonpartisan races.

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When it comes to North Carolina redistricting, the handwriting is on the wall. The old system for producing legislative and congressional districts is going away. But we still don’t have agreement about what happens next — how to interpret that handwriting, in other words.

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Most North Carolinians think it is reasonable for voters to show identification before casting a ballot. A solid, although not overwhelming, majority voted last fall to place a voter-ID requirement in the state constitution, although a vocal minority continues to see it as dangerous and disc…

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When State Treasurer Dale Folwell took office in early 2017, he found North Carolina’s state health plan to be in even worse shape than he originally thought. Costs were soaring. The terms of the plan’s contracts with medical providers were unclear. And the unfunded liability for retiree hea…

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It began with flubs. It ended in fury. And it made North Carolina politics even more rancorous and destructive. I’m referring, of course, to a 55-9 vote in the House last week to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget veto.

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The latest ratings of highway systems are out — and for North Carolina, the news is mixed. In general cost-effectiveness, our state’s roads and bridges rank a bit better than average. We fare well on some measures. But when it comes to the safety of rural roads, North Carolina comes in next-…

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The political temptation to protect “domestic” industries from “foreign” competition is strong, persistent, and understandable. But for the vast majority of North Carolina workers, their interests would best be served if politicians resisted the temptation rather than yielding to it.

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Roy Cooper didn’t run for governor in 2016 as a hard-left progressive. He won the election — one of the narrowest gubernatorial contests in American history — by convincing ticket-splitters who voted for Donald Trump and Richard Burr that Cooper would be a reasonable, consensus-building lead…

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North Carolina’s state government entered its 2019-20 fiscal year on July 1 without a new state budget in place. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and the Republican-led legislature haven’t agreed to one, yet. But unless you work for the state, work closely with state-funded entities, or follow sta…

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Many political and education leaders in North Carolina say that our economy would be better off if our level of educational attainment was higher. They’re probably right about that, as long as their definition of “educational attainment” is sufficiently broad.

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Our immigration system is clearly broken. The consequences are evident on our borders, in our judicial system, and right here in North Carolina. Unfortunately, Gov. Roy Cooper, Democratic lawmakers, and progressive activists are making it more difficult to reach a consensus on reforming the system.

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Although policymakers sometimes portray increasing access and reducing cost as separate objectives for health care reform, the two are closely related. When North Carolinians lack immediate access to primary care or mental health services, they bear the cost either of waiting for an appointm…

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In any human enterprise as complex, varied, and challenging as education, we shouldn’t expect a great deal of consensus, much less unanimity. Politicians, educators, parents, and citizens debate education policy constantly not only because it is of crucial importance to our shared futures bu…

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At a recent North Carolina Department of Transportation committee meeting, my John Locke Foundation colleague Joe Coletti offered this blunt assessment to state policymakers: our system of road financing isn’t sustainable.

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Although the North Carolina House has approved its version of a biennial budget, there’s a lot that North Carolinians can’t yet know about how much will be spent, and on what, over the next two years. But here’s something we can assume with near-certainty: Gov. Roy Cooper will veto it.

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In the twilight of his political career, Ronald Reagan made the media rounds to discuss his administration, legacy, and unfinished business. During several of these interviews, Reagan went out of his way to criticize the longtime practice of gerrymandering electoral districts for partisan ad…

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Remember when Democrats and progressive activists warned that ending the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate would “deprive” 13 million Americans of their health coverage? Based on a Congressional Budget Office estimate, this claim helped Democrats defeat a Republican repeal-and-replace…

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Arguing that GOP-tilted districts had rendered elected lawmakers “usurpers” who “did not represent the people of North Carolina,” Wake County Superior Court Judge Bryan Collins has struck down two constitutional amendments approved by state voters last fall: one requiring a photo ID to vote …

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While the term “whataboutism” may be relatively new — coined within the last few decades, and newly prominent in the age of Donald Trump — the logical fallacy it denotes is as ancient as politics itself.

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North Carolina Republicans lost their General Assembly supermajorities in the 2018 midterms, and the GOP nationally lost ground in both legislatures and governorships after years of dominance in state capitals.