Sunday News: From the Editorial pages

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RURAL BROADBAND NEEDS A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD IN NC: Broadband access is a critical resource for all Americans to participate in today’s technology-driven society. Access to educational information is vital. It is imperative for educators, students and parents to have reliable broadband or a creative approach to ensure students in rural areas have a level playing field with high speed broadband and access to the world. At issue is who will build the infrastructure to accommodate rural communities lacking access. Local governments that cannot legally build their own systems are challenged with convincing private sector companies to invest in rural areas. In 2008, Wilson built its own high speed broadband network. But a federal appeals court reinstated a 2011 North Carolina law that blocks local governments from building their own broadband service in competition with telecommunications providers.
http://www.wral.com/carolina-commentary-broadband-needs-a-level-playing-field/17253393/

On the dire need for an overhaul of Minimum Wage

Times have changed, for the worse:

Only one-in-five workers earning minimum wage are teenagers now, and about the same percentage of people are married. About 60 percent of workers earning minimum wage or less are working part-time, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to work. Many want but can’t find full-time work.

Most of the others are constrained by child care, health problem, or school schedules from working more. If we think about those individuals who would see a benefit from an increase, the average worker is older, less likely to be working for discretionary income and more likely to be supporting a family.

Bolding mine. Not trying to insult your intelligence, but since I've had to explain the meaning of the word "discretionary" to college grads about six times in the last few years, I might as well do it again here. It dates back to the 14th Century, and denotes somebody has the power to "judge or choose" courses of action. Often tied with "age of ascension" in certain cultures granting adult status. But in this context, it means you have the freedom to decide how to spend the money you've earned. And when your rent, utilities, and food requirements outpace your earnings, that choice has already been made for you. I know that's long-winded, but I've heard too many Democrats parrot that "just for teenagers" meme lately when minimum wage comes up, and I wanted to drive a stake in that meme's heart. Something I've also heard, which makes sense on a certain level: "We need to bring back the EITC to give these folks a boost." Yes. But not as an alternative to a minimum wage increase. Why not? Because the EITC is taken from tax revenues, and not from the private-sector employer who *should* be paying better. And before you say that next thing:

Saturday News: Charter pirates

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NEW STUDY SHOWS NC'S CHARTERS TAKING SIGNIFICANT FUNDS FROM TRADITIONAL SCHOOLS: The paper, released in December, found that charter schools had “significant negative fiscal” effects on Durham Public Schools, the Orange County school system and four other North Carolina districts studied in the report. In the case of Durham, the study found that charter schools are creating a fiscal burden for the district between $500 and $700 per student. “(North Carolina) is imposing additional costs on local districts by authorizing charter schools,” Duke University professor Helen Ladd and University of Rochester professor John Singleton wrote in the study. “As we have shown, the negative financial impacts are large, particularly in the urban and densely populated district of Durham but also in some of the non-urban counties as well. Moreover, the continued expansion of charter schools in non-urban districts is likely to impose an increasingly large fiscal burden over time.”
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article194381019.html

The difficulties of getting young people engaged in political activism

Answering the question that has been circulating lately:

As Women's March organizers prepare for another round of events on Jan. 20 and 21, research shows that few young people share Hahn's excitement for political activism and public protests. Americans ages 15 to 24 are still figuring out their preferred approach to politics, according to the PRRI/MTV 2017 National Youth Survey, released this week.

"A majority of young people describe recent protests and marches negatively, as 'pointless' (16 percent), 'counterproductive' (16 percent), 'divisive' (12 percent), or 'violent' (11 percent.) Only about one-third ascribe positive value to them, saying they are 'inspiring' (16 percent), 'powerful' (16 percent), or 'effective' (4 percent)," the survey reported.

Some of these findings are not really surprising. As much as I hate to use the term "woke," that transformation did not really happen to me until I was in my forties. I may have voted regularly since my late teens, but my knowledge of what I was voting for (or against) was pretty thin, to say the least. At our County Party meeting last night, aside from a couple of small children, the youngest people there were in their thirties, and they were a distinct minority. But before we launch into a "What are we doing wrong?" exercise, it may be them and not us:

Friday News: Racist-In-Chief

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TRUMP FACING INTERNATIONAL BACKLASH OVER REFERRING TO AFRICAN COUNTRIES AS "SHITHOLES.": The U.N. human rights office says President Donald Trump's reported use of an expletive to describe Africa and other countries could "potentially damage and disrupt the lives of many people." Repeating the term attributed to Trump a day earlier, spokesman Rupert Colville says that "you cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as 'shitholes'." Colville said Friday that the comments, if confirmed, were "shocking and shameful" and "I'm sorry, but there's no other word one can use but racist." People briefed on the extraordinary Oval Office conversation confirmed the remarks, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss it publicly. White House spokesman Raj Shah did not deny them when asked.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/nation-world/world/article194333599.html

Robin Hayes says NC's districts not gerrymandered because they don't look like monsters?

I think he might have fallen during a shuffleboard mishap:

According to the leader of the North Carolina GOP, detecting gerrymandering should be as easy as checking under your bed at night. If you see something that looks like a monster, you’re in trouble. Robin Hayes, chairman of the NC Republican Party, is among many Republicans upset that a panel of federal judges on Tuesday struck down North Carolina’s election districts for U.S. Congress as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.

“A ‘gerrymander’ is by definition and common understanding, a strange looking ‘monster’ drawing. This map is clearly not that,” Hayes said. He noted that the maps kept 87 of North Carolina’s 100 counties whole and divided only 12 precincts.

Right, because Elbridge Gerry's map was made to look like a dragon by a clever 19th Century political cartoonist, that is now the standard we're supposed to use. The Monster standard. I think Hayes has gone around the bend, hopped on a unicorn, and rode hard for the border between eccentric and bat-shit crazy. But never fear, NCPOL folks are ever ready to jump on an opportunity for a few laughs:

Thursday News: Heartless

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TRUMP MOVING TO REQUIRE SOME MEDICAID RECIPIENTS GET A JOB OR LOSE COVERAGE: In a major policy shift that could affect millions of low-income people, the Trump administration said Thursday it is offering a path for states that want to seek work requirements on Medicaid recipients. The administration said 10 states — mostly conservative ones — have applied for waivers involving work requirements or community involvement. They are: Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin. Advocates for low-income people say they expect Kentucky's waiver to be approved shortly. "It is a very major change in Medicaid that for the first time would allow people to be cut off for not meeting a work requirement, regardless of the hardship they may suffer," said Judy Solomon of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which advocates for the poor. The Obama administration would have never approved such waivers, she added.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/article194107449.html

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