Last week, the New York Times took aim at the Old North State with their editorial “The Decline of North Carolina.” The first few lines set the tone for the rest:
“Every Monday since April, thousands of North Carolina residents have gathered at the State Capitol to protest the grotesque damage that a new Republican majority has been doing to a tradition of caring for the least fortunate.”
The first mistake in their piece was calling the Moral Monday protestors simply North Carolina residents. As we now know, the Moral Monday protestors have been organized by groups who have received upwards of $100 million in state funds for non-profits. In other words, they have been the beneficiary of Democrats who have spent other’s money on them, a trend which could soon end. It is in their interest to negatively impact the national image of the new, more fiscally conservative control in Raleigh.
Secondly, in what was clearly a biased statement, the Times referred to “grotesque damage” and the undoing of “a tradition of caring for the least fortunate.” Translation: Republicans hate under-privileged people. This appears to be a well-formed argument based in lengthy research on Republican destruction of low-income earners. No wait, it is simply an opinion based on, well, an opinion.
The rest of the article continues on the same path of statements based on opinions. The Times, which once upon a time had journalistic routes, fills up its pages with a tirade against a state that, for the first time in 150 years, is controlled by Republicans. What is amazing, is that this apparent “decline in North Carolina” has happened in a brief six months since Governor McCrory took office. Their opinions lead the reader to believe that North Carolina was the model state prior to this Republican coup.
Let’s look at the state of North Carolina circa 2009, when Democrats were still in their 150 years of control of both houses of the General Assembly and the Governor’s mansion. North Carolina public schools ranked in the “5th 10%”, or somewhere around the middle of the road on a national scale. In Business Tax rankings, it was ranked 38. In personal income taxes, it was ranked 41. Individual capital gains, 43; Corporate income tax, 26; Corporate capital gains, 27; Unemployment taxes, 37; State gas tax, 38; (At the same time, NC roads ranked 21. With 30% less gas tax, Texas, with the same amount of road to maintain, ranked 13).
In no category did North Carolina lead the way. In fact, the middle of the pack at best is where NC landed. If in the course of 150 years, mediocre is the best a state can do, perhaps the only option is for a state overhaul.
Grover Norquist writes, in comparing NC to Wisconsin’s recent reforms under Gov. Walker: “Take tax reform, the issue that has been the top item on the docket this year — and drawn the most ire from Democrats. North Carolina has the highest income tax and unemployment rates in the South. This is no coincidence.”
He continues, “Since Walker signed these reforms, the state’s unemployment rate has dropped from 7.6 percent to 7 percent — below the national average. Walker has taken the $3.6 billion deficit that his Democratic predecessor left him and turned it into a $419 million surplus…Two years later, it is clear that not only were Walker’s reforms good policy, they were good politics.” To which he cites a large increase in Walker’s approval rating.
All the Times did was fuel a false outrage incited within the party that has now lost control of an entire state. What is a scathing opinion against would-be reforms, the Times must have forgotten they were a newspaper and instead just a mouthpiece of some child who lost their toy. Temper-tantrums are not fitting of a respectable news organization. However, as Bob Dylan once said, “the Times they are a-changing.”
Whether or not these reforms in North Carolina will be beneficial is still to be determined. Six months is no time period to see what long term effects all of this will have. That being said, it is childish and embarrassing to see Democrats kicking and screaming as if now that Republicans are at the helm, poor people will die in the streets. If they were doing such a good job for a century and a half, they would still be in charge. Not to give them advice, but instead of whining, perhaps they should wait and weigh the outcomes for their elections in coming years. If these reforms are as bad as they say, they will easily win reelection. Otherwise, they might just want to join the movement sweeping the nation.