Civitas Review

Waste of the Week: UNC-TV


This week the Civitas Institute's "Waste of the Week" spotlights North Carolina's taxpayer subsidized television station: UNC-TV. Here is a slice:

State tax dollars provide about half of the annual revenue for UNC-TV’s operations, and in addition UNC-TV received $78 million in taxpayer dollars for capital expenses from 2000 to 2011, according to news reports.

UNC-TV had been receiving annual operation support of about $12 million per year for several years, until FY 2012-13 when its funding was reduced to about $9 million per year.

For almost 60 years, scarce tax dollars in the state budget have been diverted to a TV station. Every one of those hundreds of millions of dollars throughout the years is one less dollar for teachers and public safety or, most importantly, one additional dollar taken from taxpayers.

CFO's Confirm the Obvious: Minimum Wage Hike Will Cost Jobs


This Triangle Business Journal article confirms the obvious:

Chief financial officers in the United States say a minimum wage increase to between $10 and $15 per hour would cause immediate harm to the economy.

According to a survey of chief financial officers from global companies, a minimum wage increase “would result in immediate layoffs and significantly curtail future hiring at firms that would be affected by these wage hikes,” as reported in the Duke University/CFO Magazine Global Business.

In the survey, CFO's also confirm that the higher the minimum wage hike, the more layoffs would occur; and the slower growth of future hiring. And of course, it is the very people that minimum wage hikes are allegedly supposed to help that will be the ones disproportionately effected.

Among firms employing these low-wage workers, the expected effects of proposed minimum wage hikes are dramatic. According to CFOs at these firms, the low-wage employees that increases are designed to help will also bear significant employment risk, potentially losing their jobs as firms implement labor-saving technologies.”

Demand curves slope downward.

UNC Board of Governors to Review Research Centers and Institutes


Per the N&O:

The UNC Board of Governors has launched a review of the more than 200 centers and institutes housed at North Carolina’s public universities.

UNC board members said there is no immediate plan to eliminate or cut any of the largely research-focused institutes, which brought in $556 million in federal grants and other external funding in 2013-14.


There are 237 centers and institutes across the UNC system, with most at the largest research campuses. UNC-Chapel Hill has 80 and N.C. State University has 48. Of the 237, 116 receive state appropriations totaling $68.9 million; 41 others receive some type of support from the state, totaling $14 million. Eighty receive no state support.

This year's state budget included instructions to the UNC system to consider redirecting some of the funding for these centers to other purposes. Civitas has written in the past about these UNC centers and how many of them could be considered duplicative or highly politically partisan in nature.

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You Lose If Mudcats Grab $1.5M Scoreboard


baseball scene

Once the game was enough for baseball fans. Now the Mudcats say a new scoreboard is needed.

What would you say to an investment adviser who said, “I want you to invest some money in a failing enterprise”? Especially if she added, “You’ve already put a bunch of money into this, so you’ve got to put in more to keep from losing all of it!” You’d fire her on the spot.

Or, worse, what if a thief grabbed your wallet? Would you think it any excuse if he said your money would pay for putting on a show other people would enjoy?

Sadly, that’s what going on right now in Wake County. According to the News & Observer, the Wake County commissioners are planning to spend $1.5 million for a new scoreboard at Five County Stadium in Zebulon, where the Carolina Mudcats play — and sell tickets, hot dogs and more.

I’m so old that I can remember when the best way to draw fans was for the home team to put more runs on the scoreboard. But times change. Mere baseball isn’t enough. Without a glitzy new scoreboard, the ball club says, fans will stay away in droves.

The team says it can’t afford to pay for a scoreboard itself. Mmm. So the Mudcats are such a failure they can’t afford to pay for a basic part of their facility? That’s not much of a sales pitch.

But if the new scoreboard will succeed in drawing more paying customers, why can’t they pay for it? Why should money be taken from people who don’t go to the games so that Mudcats fans will have something to entertain them when the action on the field slows up?

Yet news account says the Mudcats will pull in more than $140,000 in ad revenue every year from the scoreboard. Why should the Mudcats get such help, while the county lets Joe’s Hot Dog Stand and Mary’s Gift Shop struggle along on their own?

If you're keeping score at home, this is one more example of why crony capitalism is both foolish and wrong.

Waste of the Week: Taxpayer-Funded Museum for Banjo Player


In the second installment of the Civitas Institute's new feature entitled "Waste of the Week," we spotlight the new Earle Scruggs Center, a museum dedicated to the deceased banjo player that received $250,000 in taxpayer dollars in this year's budget.

The funds were directed to the Scruggs Center via a “state aid” appropriation from the Commerce Department. After months of negotiations and haggling over big-ticket items like teacher pay and Medicaid, state budget writers decided that a quarter-million taxpayer dollars should be instead redirected to a museum dedicated to a banjo player.

The museum reportedly cost $6.2 million and is housed in the restored Cleveland County Courthouse. It had its grand opening in January of this year.

Attractions such as these should be funded voluntarily, not through taxpayer dollars that are collected through the threat of force.

Or do you think state budget writers should continue to divert tax dollars to the museum in the future?