Original Commentary

Original Commentary

Top Story Weekly Briefing

North Carolina’s greatest scandal continues

UNC center’s latest report on poverty provides powerful reminder of the communities and individuals being left behind When you consider the matter for a moment, it’s really not all that surprising that conservative politicians in Raleigh have been so hell-bent for so long to silence Professor Gene Nichol and the colleagues and students with whom he works at UNC Law School. There are, of course, numerous critics of the reactionary policies that state leaders have been advancing for most of the past decade—many of them employed in state-funded universities—but when it comes to Nichol and his team, there are a couple of factors that have to drive the powers-that-be absolutely crazy.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

New report highlights General Assembly’s failed record on higher education

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), a nonpartisan organization that provides independent data and policy recommendations to its 16 member states in the southeast, has published new state-specific data on college affordability that paint a damning picture of the General Assembly’s record. The report shows that both cost of attendance and student loan debt have risen dramatically from 2008 to 2014. These increases disproportionately create barriers to economic advancement for students of color and students from low-income families.

North Carolina’s constitution places a very important responsibility on the General Assembly. State leaders are required to provide higher education for free “as far as practicable.” Article IX, Section 9 reads:

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

Monday numbers

4.4---percentage of the world’s population that lives in the United States (“Gun violence in America, explained in 17 maps and chart, Vox, October 2, 2017)

42---percentage of the civilian-owned guns in the world in the United States (Ibid)

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

The Follies (of the latest absurd special session)

Wednesday evening as a House committee met on the first day of yet another special session to consider a so-called budget technical corrections bill filled with policy and funding provisions that very few people had seen, House Budget Chair Nelson Dollar told Rep. David Lewis to present the bill to the committee “if you're finished being apprised of what's in the bill.”

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

Drinking water safety at stake in the latest absurd special session

Here we go again. Another special session of the General Assembly begins Wednesday at noon and no one other than a handful of legislative leaders is exactly sure what lawmakers will be discussing. That’s the way the legislature ...
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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The outsourcing of sacrifice

In 21st Century America, selflessness is mostly reserved for the hired help

This past weekend, a local college football game was billed as “Military Appreciation Day.” Throughout the game, retired, current and future members of the nation’s armed forces were ushered out onto the field during breaks in the play to enjoy a few moments in the spotlight and to soak in the applause of the thousands gathered. Time and again, the stadium crowd was exhorted to rise and express its collective thanks to the various servicemen and women for their sacrifice and dedicated efforts on behalf of the nation. Events like this have become commonplace in 21st Century America.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Gerrymandering is only the latest attack on North Carolina’s courts

The framers of the U.S. Constitution designed a system that helps insulate federal judges from political pressure. Federal judges are appointed and can only be removed by impeachment. Congress cannot even reduce their salaries. This gives judges the freedom to protect individual rights, even when their decisions might be unpopular with voters or politicians.

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

Monday numbers

5---number of days since the White House and Republican Congressional leadership released the outline of their major tax reform proposal (“GOP tax plan would provide major gains for richest 1%, uneven benefits for the middle class, report says, Washington Post, September 29. 2017)

30---percentage of taxpayers with annual incomes between $50,000 and $150,000 who would see a tax increase under the plan (Ibid)

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Why NC schools must get our kids moving

As a pediatrician, it is my job to advocate for the health of our children. It is also my job to promote and advocate for evidence-based programs and policies that work. That is why I believe so strongly that we must require high-quality, regular physical education in our North Carolina schools. There are three very clear benefits of physical education for our state’s youth.

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Original Commentary Weekly Briefing

Charity and other on-the-cheap solutions won’t get the job done

The Right’s latest cynical efforts to undermine government and the common good Many North Carolina conservatives have long pursued a cynical, ends-justify-the-means strategy when it comes to their ultimate goal of radically remaking the social contract. Here’s how it frequently plays out: First they complain incessantly that public institutions are inherently corrupt and inferior to the private sector; then they use this supposed “fact” as justification to slash public funding and/or sell off core public structures and systems to private interests. Soon, the whole process repeats itself as the self-perpetuating cycle plays out.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Why this pro-business advocate supports raising the minimum wage

When I began exercising regularly, I had a decision to make. Was I going to keep buying inexpensive sneakers and suffer through foot pain and high-cost medical care, or invest in a more expensive shoe that protects my feet and last longer? After wasting a lot of time and money on low-cost shoes, I finally got wise and chose the latter. Albeit small in comparison, my dilemma is similar to a more significant issue that many businesses face when considering whether to support raising the minimum wage.

In fact, the benefits for businesses of raising the minimum wage far outweigh the costs.

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Fitzsimon File Top Story

Monday numbers

5---number of years since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) was created by President Obama to provide work permits and deportation relief for young undocumented immigrants (“DACA has shielded nearly 790,000 young unauthorized immigrants from deportation,” Pew Research Center, September 1, 2017)

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Legislature creates school funding task force, but appears unwilling and unable to seriously examine NC’s school funding needs

Last week, the General Assembly announced which legislators will serve on the Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform. The Task Force, created via the 2017 budget bill, is charged with developing recommendations to radically overhaul North Carolina’s school finance system. A serious review of North Carolina’s school finance system could substantially benefit the state. School funding matters, particularly for students in low-income families. Unfortunately, early indications suggest that the Task Force is uninterested in reforms that would actually improve educational delivery in the state.

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