NC can save $383 million in its budget

The state can save up to $383 million in its budget if it uses a spending technique proposed by the John Locke Foundation in their latest Spotlight report. The technique is called “reverse logrolling.”

“Lawmakers can achieve these additional savings by using a technique called ‘reverse logrolling,'”  “It flips traditional budget logrolling on its head,” said Sarah Curry, JLF Director of Fiscal Policy Studies, the report author. Logrolling is a budget practice in which negotiators for both legislative chambers agree to accept higher spending levels for each chamber’s budget priorities.

“This practice often results in a poor outcome for average citizens, as lower-priority or so-called ‘pork-barrel’ items are funded and mediocre legislation enacted,” Curry said.

Budget negotiators should take the opposite approach, Curry said in a press release. “Rather than one set of budget negotiators accepting particular programs or higher levels of spending from their counterparts, with the expectation that those counterparts will do the same, legislators should agree to accept the lower spending numbers for each departmental budget,” she said. “After all, a majority in at least one chamber already has decided that the lower spending figure will satisfy citizens’ needs under current budgetary constraints.”

She outlines how these savings can be achieved in the report, included a spreadsheet of potential department-by-department savings.

This is a commendable effort, which Libertarians support. The greatest obstacle we see is to get Republican and Democratic legislators to kick their spending habit.

JLF Press Release

JLF Spotlight Report

Libertarians seeking new executive director

The Libertarian Party of North Carolina is seeking a replacement for executive director Brad Hessel, who will step down June 30 to pursue other business interests.

“We’ll be focusing our search on candidates here in North Carolina,” said J.J. Summerell, LPNC chair. “We’re looking for someone with strong managerial and communications skills, preferably with experience in politics or non-profits.”

“Hessel will be a tough act to follow,” he added. “But if we have to make a change, on off-year in the election cycle is a good time to do it.”

“We’ve achieved much in the last 18 months,” Hessel said. “Individual contributions were up 81 percent in 2014 and are up again so far in 2015. Last year, Sean Haugh’s U.S. Senate campaign garnered the most votes and highest percentage ever for a Libertarian running a statewide race in a non-Presidential year. And our candidate lineup for 2016 is shaping up to be very strong.”

He noted that the party now has affiliates in 21 counties, including all of the ten most populous, up from 16. More and more voters are registering as Libertarian or unaffiliated, a clear sign people are dissatisfied with the old parties.

Hessel, whose knowledge management consulting firm Intelledgement, LLC was contracted to provide his services part-time as executive director, will continue to perform limited volunteer work for the LPNC. He will be appointed IT manager for the party effective July 1.

“I wish I could continue to do more, but I’ve got bills to pay and the LPNC is not yet at the point where they can afford a full-time executive director,” he added. “Evidently if my objective were to make money in politics, I would have had to work for the Republicans or the Clinton Democrats.”

Prospective applicants should contact J.J. Summerell at chair@lpnc.org for more information.

Republican, Democratic voters ruled by fear of the other

The most important factor in the 2016 presidential election won’t be the candidates but the fact that the American electorate is now divided into two warring partisan camps. Moreover, this blind party allegiance won’t be based on support for “their” candidate, but on fear of the “other “ party – and its members.

That is the conclusion of an essay “The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is the Other Party,” by Alan I. Abramowitz and Steven Webster of Emory University.

“In the seven decades since the end of World War II, Democrats and Republicans have never been as divided as they are today,” they wrote. “Intense dislike of the opposing party and its candidates by supporters of both parties means that party loyalty and straight-ticket voting are much more prevalent than in the past.”

Abramowitz and Webster discount the 10 percent of Americans who identify as independents, concluding that their vote will almost evenly divide between the Democratic and Republican candidates.

Their essay notes that the rise of “negative partisanship” has drastically altered the nature of electoral competition in the United States. This is part of “a vicious cycle of mutually reinforcing elite and mass behavior” and negative views of the other party “encourage political elites to adopt a confrontational approach to governing.”

This essay reinforces some of the points made by political analyst John Davis in his “Strike While the Ire is Hot” presentation to the 2015 Libertarian Party of North Carolina Convention.

Legislators should uphold governor’s vetoes

by Brian Irving
Vice Chair, Libertarian Party of North Carolina

We commend Gov. Pat McCrory for courageously vetoing both Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 405 and we hope a sufficient number of state legislators have the equal courage to sustain these vetoes.

HB 405 was called the Property Protection Act, but it was clearly intended to provide cover for business owners who allowed unsafe or inhumane conditions in their businesses, and to punish anyone who took a job to expose the practices.

SB 2, with the equally disingenuous title Magistrates Recusal for Civil Ceremonies, would allow magistrates to refuse to do a job they were hired for, under the cover of claiming “any sincerely held religious objections.”

Both bills passed with bipartisan support, another proof that when it comes to expanding government power at the expense of individual liberty, both Republicans and Democrats find common ground.

Nor was either bill the result of any grassroots effort. They were pushed through a sham legislative “process” by those select few legislators and special interest groups who hold the real power in the General Assembly. What little debate there was consisted of straw-man arguments promulgated on both sides of the issue.

In short, a demonstration of everything that’s corrupt and dysfunctional in our legislative process.

Voter suppression or voter apathy?

Progressives, and the News & Observer, are up in arms again over another alleged attempt at voter suppression. This time they claim the Republicans have deliberately prevented people from registering to vote. The basis for the charge is that the number of people registering to vote while applying for public benefits or a driver’s license has decreased.

Under the federal National Voting Registration Act of 1993, state agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Motor Vehicles, in addition to boards of elections, must give anyone who uses their services the opportunity to register to vote.

Groups including Democracy North Carolina, Action NC and the A. Philip Randolph Institute claim applications at these agencies have dropped more than 50 percent in the last two years.

While admitting that the reason for the drop was unclear, a May 17 News & Observer editorial concluded, “The likely explanation is that when the McCrory administration took over, new leaders at DHHS, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the State Board of Elections simply overlooked the requirement.

Oddly, the editorial notes this has happened before – ten years ago when Democrats controlled state government. So it appears such manipulation of the electoral process may be a bipartisan practice – like gerrymandering and restrictive ballot access barriers.

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Libertarian gubernatorial candidate speaks out on Baltimore violence

The recent violence in Ferguson, Mo. and Baltimore may be setting the stage for another summer of civil unrest, similar to 1968, a candidate for the Libertarian nomination for N.C. governor said in a statement.

While Ken Fortenberry, a former investigative journalist and newspaper editor, condemned the violence he said our nation and leaders have learned nothing from the past.

ken-web-12-19“Instead of solving the problems of nearly 50 years ago, they have created laws and policies that have woven those very same problems into the fabric of our social, economic and political system,” he said.

“As a teen-ager in the summer of 1968, I watched the evening TV news in horror and read the morning headlines in shock as our nation seemed to be coming apart at the seams,” he recalled. Back then he said rioting mobs were angered by an unwinnable war in Vietnam, joblessness, ugly racial discrimination, and police who took the law into their own hands and injured and killed at whim.

Fortenberry said the Ferguson and Baltimore unrest is similar. Politicians have created an weak and unsustainable national quilt, “where the fibers of the citizenry itself are disconnected instead of bound together for the common good.”

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Libertarians call for pardon of medical marijuana dealer

The Libertarian Party of North Carolina passed a resolution calling for the governor to pardon Todd Stimson, who was convicted of marijuana trafficking, at its annual state convention in Durham April 11-12.

Simpson openly ran a medicinal marijuana operation in Henderson County, had a business license and paid taxes on the plants he purchased. He was sentenced to up to 39 months in prison.

The resolution notes that Stimson “is a peaceful, honest family man, and has helped many in North Carolina and victimized no one” and that “no public safety interest is met by sending peaceful, honest people to prison.”

Stimson was arrested despite the fact that he’s paid for a business privilege license for the art of healing from the state Department of Revenue, has articles of incorporation from the N.C. Secretary of State explaining his business and its educational and scientific goals, and has paid for tax stamps on the plants he’s purchased.

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Show Up. Be Nice. Win!

The formula for Libertarian candidate success is rather simple: Show up. Be nice. Win. That will be the message of Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark in his keynote address to the Libertarian Party of North Carolina State Convention April 11.

sarwark_nicholas.pngSarwak said that when Libertarians run for office consistently, it shows people who aren’t libertarian that we’re a political party that’s here to stay, and will be here when they need us.

When we do show up, we should be nice. The means focusing on finding areas of agreement with people, rather than trying to win arguments. This builds relationships that will last long after the election.

“If we do these two things, and keep at it, we can win in the short and long term.” he concludes.

Join us April 10-12, 2015 at the Hilton Garden Inn on Miami Blvd (just off I-40), Durham.

Libertarians should ‘Strike While the Ire is Hot’

A confluence of factors may present an opportunity for electoral success for Libertarians and the party needs to be prepared to “Strike While the Ire is Hot.” That will be the message renowned political analyst John Davis will present to the Gala Banquet attendees at the 2015 State Libertarian Party Convention April 11.

John-Davis-Pix-e1420343258854Davis will argue that the American political system is undergoing a demographic revolution which is disrupting the status quo. The dominant voter profile is no longer an older, white male. Hispanics, Asians, women, and millennials are becoming significant factors in most elections.

Davis says that the demographic revolution is occurring at the same time voters are increasingly frustrated by dysfunctional government caused by the polarization of the two major parties. To illustrate the polarization of the two parties, Davis’ presentation includes the results of a study by the National Journal showing that the nation’s “political middle” has all but disappeared.

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Keeping North Carolina a one-party state

“There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters”― Daniel Webster

Daniel Webster could have been talking about the Republican majority in the 2015 N.C. General Assembly. Not only do they mean to govern, they also mean to insure that only they can govern. Having the most restrictive ballot access laws in the nation isn’t enough. Nor is gerrymandering electoral districts to guarantee Republican victories.

The Republicans want to make GOP stand for Grand Only Party. They’re perfectly content with keeping North Carolina a one-party state, as it was for many years under the Democrats. They just want it to be their party. Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev would be proud.

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