Amazon-mania

Amid frenzied speculation about Amazon’s search for a so-called “second headquarters” (HQ2) beyond its mothership in Seattle — 238 cities and/or regions are bidding — the data point emphasized repeatedly is 50,000. As in 50,000 Amazon jobs materializing to boost the economy of the winning applicant. (Charlotte, Hickory, Raleigh and the Triad are North Carolina’s candidates).

But job creation is only one variable in the high stakes scenario. The quest to win over Amazon requires far more than producing slick chamber-of-commerce video presentations. The corporate welfare phenomenon, nothing new, is about behemoths shamelessly plunging cities and states into a cash incentivizing orgy, which is precisely why organizations like Generation Opportunity cast a skeptical eye on Amazon mania.

GO’s North Carolina state director, Anna Beavon Gravely, in an op-ed published by North State Journal, does the math on the Amazon gambit:

Away from the spotlight you will find the losers of corporate welfare: the small businesses struggling to stay afloat, the young entrepreneurs who can’t compete with established interests, and the taxpayers who are forced to pick up the tab.

Gravely notes that under the first-year administration of Gov. Roy Cooper, North Carolina has handed out $125 million as suitors of insurer AXA and financial giant Credit Suisse, among others. Cooper (and governors nationwide) are quick to give themselves credit for thousands of incoming jobs, 1,200 at Credit Suisse and 550 at AXA. But the financial incentives that brought them here makes the creation of one job a very pricey investment. A single job created at Credit Suisse’s Raleigh campus cost taxpayers $33,500 because it received $40.2 million worth of incentives.

Corporate welfare enthusiasts like Cooper will always try to justify it as “creating jobs.” But as we’ve seen here in North Carolina, lowering and simplifying taxes for everybody does far more to create jobs than special handouts for the few.

Just look at the extraordinary progress our state has made in recent years. Since 2011, the General Assembly has lowered personal and corporate income tax rates, eliminated the estate tax and simplified other business taxes. This year, lawmakers overrode Cooper’s veto to enact even more tax cuts for North Carolinians, which will result in $476.4 million in savings for businesses over the next five years.

Amazon is the standard bearer of no-hassle e-commerce deliveries, but it’s proving to be more than capable of receiving. New Jersey has offered Amazon a mind boggling $7 billion across the next decade. Irvine, Calif., took a straightforward approach. Amazon estimates HQ2 will cost $5 billion, so Irvine suggested its taxpayers underwrite the entire project.

Gravely and her colleagues at Generation Opportunity believe future economic growth will be driven by millennial entrepreneurs, who are launching new businesses at twice the rate of their parents’ generation. If Amazon decides that North Carolina is an ideal place to go forward with HQ2, roll the red carpet but not at the expense of small businesses, the engines of the state’s booming economy.

The 2018 challenge

It is no secret that North Carolina will be targeted by outside Democrat funding in next year’s mid-term elections. In their quest to retake a majority in the U.S. House and state General Assembly, Democrats need to shake up North Carolina. But there also is a not-so-well-kept secret that will confound this effort. Like many thriving states governed by Republican-controlled legislatures, North Carolina’s economic engine is roaring and it’s prospects for growth are soaring.

In 2011, when Republicans won their General Assembly majority, North Carolina’s unemployment rate exceeded 10 percent, House Speaker Tim Moore recalled during a recent address before the Moore County Republican Men’s Club in Pinehurst. Moore’s message certainly resonates with Republicans, who have seen that rate plunge to around four percent, but it’s difficult to comprehend how Democrats will be able to disparage this and other economic data points on the 2018 election stump. But disparage they will.

Listening to Moore’s summation of the state’s dynamic economy, we could not help feeling a tinge of melancholy as well. This same story of prosperity and growth was making headlines in 2016 but Republicans and, specifically, Governor Pat McCrory’s re-election campaign, managed to underplay it. This is mind boggling in retrospect.

Let’s not repeat this mistake during the 2018 campaign. If the campaign narrative is about the economy, N.C. Republicans should continue to be well represented in Raleigh and Washington. But messaging discipline and clarity can’t be taken for granted. The key points shared by Speaker Moore are these:

  • The state’s tax structure and regulatory environment are attracting new businesses and encouraging established businesses to expand.
  • 89,000 new jobs were added during a 12-month period ending September 2017.
  • North Carolina has seen a $4 billion swing from debt to savings in six years and has achieved a Triple-A bond rating from the three major agencies. Only 11 other states share this top rating.
  • The state’s unemployment insurance tax fund carries a surplus, which is part of $1.8 billion in “rainy day” reserves.

Strong economic data, while difficult for Democrats to refute, is frequently misrepresented by Democrat Governor Roy Cooper, and others, as resulting solely from the repeal of the so-called “bathroom bill” (HB2) after Cooper was sworn in last January. A complicit mainstream media is more than willing to let them get away with overlooking the fact North Carolina has been turning around since 2011 under Republican majorities in the state House and Senate. Consider this exchange between Cooper and CNBC after the network said Amazon should select multiple North Carolina markets as the home of Amazon’s planned HQ2 headquarters.

A CNBC reporter sat down with Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday to ask about (HB2 repeal). Cooper said moving beyond HB2 and his election a year ago demonstrates to the business, sports and entertainment sectors that North Carolina is a welcoming state.

“We’re sending a strong message we’ve taken a big step,” Cooper said. “That’s why these companies have come back on my assurances that North Carolina is moving in the right direction.”

My assurances? Absurd, of course. But look-ahead polling earlier this year suggests Democrats are eager to give Cooper and their 2018 candidates credit for, well, everything. Democrat enthusiasm is partially fueled by Donald Trump backlash.

In the May 18, 20-21, 2017 Civitas Institute Political Parties NC poll (N=600) — the most recent statewide poll — when asked, “If the election for North Carolina State Legislature were held today, would you be voting for the Republican candidate (32%), the Democratic candidate (47%), Neither one/Other/Independent (8%), or Don’t Know/Undecided/Need More Info (13%). These are the highest percentage for Democratic candidates (47%) for the State Legislature and the lowest percentage for the Republican candidates (32%) in the 34 polls conducted for Civitas since October 2010.

The stakes in 2018 are staggeringly high. That, too, is no secret.

 

States: Take the 10th

Individuals protect themselves from incrimination by “taking the 5th”, exercising rights granted in the Bill of Rights by the Fifth Amendment. It appears the time has come for states, including North Carolina, to protect their rights by “taking the 10th”.

The Tenth Amendment is a beautifully crafted sentence, if only because it is a case study in word economy. It reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

While the subject of North Carolina’s voting district map, as legally drawn by a Republican majority, is mired in court rulings and shrouded in uncertainty ahead of the 2018 elections due to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling related to a similar legal challenge in Wisconsin, an informed citizen already knows where things are headed.

In this era of monuments to American patriots being taken down, of professional athletes declining to stand in respect for the flag, and core American Judeo-Christian values being dismissed as offensive, who can be surprised by a movement to deny states the right to conduct their own affairs in matters of drawing up voting district maps?

North State Journal political columnist Frank Hill provides useful historical perspective on the evolution of district gerrymandering from an accepted, if not messy, norm left up to individual states, to the current hand-wringing about racially motivated mapping that, suddenly, needs to be taken up by the courts and, ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court. It is no coincidence that this arises at a time when Republicans have a stronghold on statehouses and Governors’ mansions.

A Wisconsin group that recently navigated a redistricting case to the Supreme Court (a ruling is expected next spring), bases its argument on the premise that redistricting had been “too extreme” and for partisan political purposes. This prompted Hill to ask a question: what is too extreme?

How about a congressional district that was drawn in North Carolina that was 91 percent Democrat by registration in 1984? That was the makeup of the Second Congressional District I ran in during the 1984 campaign as a Republican. Sadly, the same masses of lawyers and advocates who are today running to the Supreme Court to declare gerrymandering as “unconstitutional” in any way, shape or form were not as concerned about it in 1984.

It is no longer 1984, to be sure, as we find radical judges and courts more than willing to dispute what has always been a “specific constitutional duty given to state legislatures,” Hill writes.

Back in June, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling on 28 North Carolina legislative districts. The lower court said these districts had been re-drawn to achieve illegal racial gerrymanders, diluting black votes, reported the Raleigh News & Observer. Which has led to the latest, even more disturbing, development in this story. In late October, a three-judge federal court panel announced it will appoint a Stanford University law professor to review nine legislative districts emerging out of a second re-districting effort by N.C. lawmakers in August.

Naturally, the far-left Southern Coalition for Social Justice applauded the decision to rob state legislators and their constituents of a constitutional right. Its executive director was quoted in news reports actually defending the idea that insertion of a voting rights scholar from California would “result in fair districts for all North Carolinians.”

Hill properly turns to an inconvenient fact to highlight the hypocrisy of Democrats condemning the evil partisan gerrymandering by the Republican majority. His point will be the basis for what should be vehement opposition to allowing a Stanford professor to influence North Carolina’s redistricting.

The North Carolina General Assembly has a long and proud history of drawing partisan gerrymandered districts at the federal and state level long before the Republicans took over control in 2010. All of it by Democrats since at least 1898.

Now that the Supreme Court has waded into debating the merits of gerrymandering, it seems inevitable that the body ultimately will be forced to do something it has expressly avoided for more than 200 years. It will have to decide if the Tenth Amendment still matters.

 

Milestone year for NC GOP

The current frenzy of hyper-political correctness targeting statues, monuments and other images honoring major Confederate figures, including Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, is fueled in part by an agenda-driven, left-leaning media that craves any opportunity to associate Republicans, especially Southerners, past and present with slavery, bigotry and racism.

This attempted connection is flimsy at best because it is historically inaccurate. It arose simply because Republican President Donald Trump condemned a white supremacist rally (organized in support of preserving a Lee statue) in Charlottesville, VA, in strong terms, while simultaneously condemning violent “antifa” protestors who arrived to disrupt the rally. In no time, statue preservation was re-defined by the media as slavery glorification. Continue reading “Milestone year for NC GOP”