Opinion & Commentary

OPINION: Government Shouldn’t Set Prices

June 16, 2021

by John Hood RALEIGH — I once found a $20 bill on a sidewalk in Washington, D.C. I picked it up, thus ruining the punchline of an old joke. Two economists are walking along when one points to a $20 bill. The other shakes his head. “That’s not really there, because if it were someone would already have picked it up.” They keep walking. The joke works on two levels. For certain advocates of the “efficient markets” hypothesis, which argues that professional money managers can’t outperform market averages over time, the joke satirizes the idea that any chance of making…

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OPINION: Cutting Corporate Tax Helps Consumers

June 10, 2021

by John Hood RALEIGH — With negotiators for the North Carolina House and Senate confirming that they’ve agreed on the broad outlines of a state budget for next year, the prospect of ending the state’s 2.5% corporate income tax is one step closer to becoming reality. A phase-out is already in the Senate’s budget plan, and key House members have endorsed the idea. North Carolina consumers should be cheering that prospect, because the corporate-income tax makes many goods and services they buy more expensive. Taxing corporate income has always been a convoluted, unfair, and inefficient way to raise government revenue.…

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OPINION: Will Hybrids Drive the Economy?

June 3, 2021

by John Hood RALEIGH — Plenty of politicians, planners, and business folks think they know what North Carolina’s post-pandemic economy will look like. But few seem entirely sure. They are noticeably hedging their predictions, which I consider to be a wise precaution. They ought to be hedging their bets, as well. There are unanswered questions across multiple economic sectors and time frames. For many decisionmakers, however, perhaps the single most important questions involve the fate of hybrids. I’m not talking about motor vehicles. I’m talking about work schedules. With so many North Carolinians having experienced months of doing their jobs…

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OPINION: Unemployment News Isn’t So Rosy

May 27, 2021

by John Hood RALEIGH — The latest estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show about 251,000 North Carolinians unemployed as of April, down about 58,000 since the beginning of 2021. Alas, the news about our labor market isn’t as good as you might think. Of those 58,000 fewer unemployed North Carolinians, some 31,000 actually found jobs. The remaining 27,000 stopped looking. Our state’s labor-force participation rate has steadily dropped over the first four months of the year. Here’s another way to think about the trends. North Carolina’s “headline” unemployment rate is 5%. If those 27,000 were still counted in…

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OPINION: Still Room to Improve on Regs

May 19, 2021

by John Hood RALEIGH — When it comes to our business climate and economic prospects, North Carolinians are used to receiving accolades. Let’s add another to the list. The Cato Institute just released a study of regulatory barriers facing entrepreneurs. North Carolina fared well in the analysis, ranking 12th-best in the nation. No, we weren’t in the top-10. More on that in a bit. But first I want to underline the ways in which North Carolina policymakers have made it easier to start and grow businesses in our state. First and foremost, our lawmakers have not set a minimum wage…

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OPINION: Enforce Rules to Ease Labor Shortage

May 13, 2021

by John Hood   RALEIGH — President Joe Biden wants you to believe that there is no relationship between the extra $300 a week many are receiving in enhanced unemployment-insurance benefits and the shortage of workers now manifest in stores, restaurants, hotels, and other businesses here in North Carolina and across the country. But doesn’t paying lower-skilled workers more to stay on the sidelines than they could earn on the job make it more likely they’ll remain unemployed? “We don’t see much evidence for that,” the president said May 10 at the White House. Biden’s claim isn’t quite as ridiculous…

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OPINION: Race Theory Is Dangerous Nonsense

May 10, 2021

RALEIGH — According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans of Filipino descent had a median household income of just over $100,000 in 2019. The median household income of white Americans that year was about $66,000. Based on these two facts, should we conclude that our society is pervasively biased in favor of Filipino immigrants, or of Americans whose ancestors once immigrated from the Philippines? Should we draw the same conclusion about Americans with ancestral ties to India (their median household income is $136,000), China ($85,000), or Nigeria ($69,000)? No, we shouldn’t. That would be an exercise in bad math and…

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OPINION: Conspiracy Theories Damage Democracy

May 3, 2021

by John Hood  RALEIGH — For weeks after the ballots were counted, supporters of the defeated presidential candidate insisted the election had been stolen. Some alleged a shadowy conspiracy to rig vote-counting machines, throwing out just enough legal votes and manufacturing just enough illegal ones to decide the outcome. I heard these conspiracy theories many times, and not just from folks on the political fringe. I heard them from prominent North Carolinians who supported the defeated candidate. They were Democrats. It was 2004. No, voting machines from the company then known as Diebold were not rigged to deny John Kerry his rightful…

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OPINION: Resist the Temptation to Coerce

April 29, 2021

by John Hood RALEIGH — The problem with freedom is that other people may do things that trouble, annoy, or even anger you. In a free society, you have no authority to stop them. Strictly speaking, that’s not a problem. It’s a solution. Throughout most of human history, much suffering has derived from a lack of freedom. One faction obtained government power, wielded it to impose its moral, social, or political values on others, and then either successfully or unsuccessfully made its imposition stick with violence or intimidation. Another faction, aggrieved, eventually obtained power of its own and then retaliated.…

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OPINION: Nationalizing Politics Was a Mistake

April 21, 2021

by John Hood RALEIGH — If Californians want to make their government the monopoly payer of all medical bills, why should North Carolinians be able to tell them they can’t? In a federal republic populated by 330 million people spread across some 3.5 million square miles of sprawling territory, we should be asking precisely this kind of fundamental question — rather than the screaming at each other across partisan and geographical divides about such public-policy issues as education, health care, public assistance, and pandemic response. I know that’s not the way most of us are primed to think about politics…

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