Civitas Review

Ninety-nine People Issued Free Voter Photo IDs


According to the State Board of Elections, as of last Thursday, 99 people had been issued a free ID "for the purpose of voting" by the DMV.

Not until 2016 will voters be required to show an ID in order to cast a ballot. The new law states that in primary and general elections beginning in 2014, voters will be notified that ID will be needed to vote in 2016. If a voter indicates that they do  not have one of the types of approved identification for voting they will be asked to sign an acknowledgement form and be given a list of the types of of photo identification needed for voting and information on how to obtain an approved ID.

The last line of the provision on voter ID in the new legislation reads: "The list of names of those voters who signed an acknowledgment is a public record."

This is important because its being reported that groups around the state are ready to help voters who do not have an approved form of ID for voting. Here is an article from the Asheville Citizen Times that quotes representatives from the Democratic and Republican Party who are (separately) organizing efforts to help voters get an ID card.

Another Obamacare Application Nightmare


The Winston-Salem Journal documents the trials and tribulations of a local woman trying to sign up for health insurance coverage through the government exchange website. Thanks to the Unaffordable Care Act, her current insurance plan is being cancelled and her new plan would cost roughly double what she is paying now. This left her little option than to log on to to search for alternatives. The W-S Journal article sums up her nightmare experience:

Here’s the synopsis: Instead of finding a better policy, Sauers wound up with an application for a Medicaid program that she neither wants nor needs and cannot cancel. Nor can she appeal the decision.

And before she can get a subsidy to help offset the cost of a private insurance plan she didn’t want to begin with, Sauers has to apply for — and be denied from — a government health insurance program she knows she’s not eligible to enroll in.

Here's the kicker, even if this woman ends up successfully signing up for a policy, there remains serious concerns that the insurance provider will not receive her information accurately (or even at all), and her personal information will be exposed to significant security risks.

War on poverty is deadly


America's half-century long War on Poverty has been a failure. How the war was lost is the topic Robert Rector describes in an insightful piece  in this morning's Wall Street Journal.

Rector writes:

Do higher living standards for the poor mean that the war on poverty has succeeded? No. To judge the effort, consider LBJ's original aim. He sought to give poor Americans "opportunity not doles," planning to shrink welfare dependence not expand it. In his vision, the war on poverty would strengthen poor Americans' capacity to support themselves, transforming "taxeaters" into "taxpayers." It would attack not just the symptoms of poverty but, more important, remove the causes.

By that standard, the war on poverty has been a catastrophe. The root "causes" of poverty have not shrunk but expanded as family structure disintegrated and labor-force participation among men dropped. A large segment of the population is now less capable of self-sufficiency than when the war on poverty began. The collapse of marriage in low-income communities has played a substantial role in the declining capacity for self-support. In 1963, 6% of American children were born out of wedlock. Today the number stands at 41%. As benefits swelled, welfare increasingly served as a substitute for a bread-winning husband in the home.

Isn't fifty years enough time to render a judgment on a failed plan?  Perpetuating trillion dollar social programs that don't eradicate poverty and tear apart the social fabric is no an act of compassion and no way to help the poor.

Sowell: The Biggest Lie in Politics


Thomas Sowell writes about what he labels "the biggest lie in politics," that is, the constant accusation of "trickle-down economics" by leftists to smear opponents' economic policies.

Statists will mischaracterize their opponents' views as being, in the words of new New York mayor Bill de Blasio: "that the way to move forward is to give more to the most fortunate, and that somehow the benefits will work their way down to everyone else." They will then attack this position that they completely conjured up in their own imagination as if they were having an actual debate.

While there have been all too many lies told in politics, most have some little tiny fraction of truth in them, to make them seem plausible. But the "trickle-down" lie is 100 percent lie.

It should win the contest both because of its purity — no contaminating speck of truth — and because of how many people have repeated it over the years, without any evidence being asked for or given.

Years ago, this column challenged anybody to quote any economist outside of an insane asylum who had ever advocated this "trickle-down" theory. Some readers said that somebody said that somebody else had advocated a "trickle-down" policy. But they could never name that somebody else and quote them.

Such "debate" tactics are all too frequent coming from the "progressives." Construct imaginary straw men to slay; then smear and name call these imaginary villains, then claim intellectual superiority. All this obfuscation by the left underscores the great lengths to which they will go in order to avoid the true nature of their political ideology, because they know any true, honest exchange in the marketplace of ideas will not end well for their collectivist and authoritarian vision for society.

SEANC Hires Investigator to Examine State Treasurer Cowell for "Conflicts of Interest"


Due to growing concern over State Treasurer Janet Cowell's decision to shift a larger share of the state employee's pension fund into "alternative" investments that carry higher consultancy fees, the State Employee's Association of NC (SEANC) has hired an investigator to look into potential conflicts of interest.  As reported in the N&O:

The State Employees Association of North Carolina announced Monday it hired a forensic investigator to look at the state pension investments for “conflicts of interest related to TSERS investments and potential violations of the federal securities laws.”

SEANC will pay Edward “Ted” Siedle, a Florida-based consultant who is known for investigating pension investments, $65,000 for the report.

I will humbly offer SEANC and Mr. Siedle this friendly reminder of research I produced in late 2012 spotlighting a serious potential conflict of interest by Cowell. A sample:
Records from the National Institute on Money in State Politics show that Cowell’s 2012 campaign has received more money from out of state sources than from North Carolina backers, and in 2008 she received $225,000 in New York-based contributions alone. Why so much financial support from far-away places?

As you may already know, the pension fund is aggressively pursuing lead plaintiff status in one of many class action lawsuits against Facebook and its IPO underwriters. Which leads us to the issue of the pension fund’s choices to represent the fund in this lawsuit – a position if attained would be quite lucrative. Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann (Bernstein) is a New York based law firm specializing in securities class action suits. Labaton Sucharow (Laboton) is also based in New York and has the same specialization.

Something else they have in common: Both are donors to Janet Cowell.