Commentary

So-called “libertarian” group endorses religious right’s pro-discrimination law

It’s bad enough that North Carolina elected officials are enshrining discrimination and ignorance in state law today at the behest of the theocratic far right, but now comes word that the inhabitants of the John Locke Foundation — an group that likes to fancy itself as “libertarian” and that has long bragged that it stays away from divisive “social issues” like reproductive freedom and LGBT equality — has cast aside all pretense and is now on board with the scheme.

Today, the Locke people distributed an essay about the subject of the special session in which the author endorsed striking down the Charlotte nondiscrimination ordinance because it constitutes an assault on property rights. We are not making this up. This is from today’s Locke Foundation “Economics and Environment Update”:

“What is overlooked is that the the primary targets of this ordinance are privately owned businesses that offer bathrooms or other facilities — possibly showers in the case of fitness centers — for their customers’ convenience. The decision of how to structure access to these bathrooms may, for some, be based on their religious beliefs.  For many others it is a secular business decision. Their goal is customer satisfaction driven by the desire to make a profit and earn a living.  The property that they use is privately owned, the investments that they make come from private funds, and those who reap the rewards or suffer the losses are private entrepreneurs. The bathrooms in their establishments are part of the product that they provide.

In a free society based on property rights and free markets, as all free societies must be, a privately owned business would have the right to decide whether or not it wants separate bathrooms strictly for men and women biologically defined, bathrooms for men and women subjectively or psychologically defined, completely gender neutral bathrooms with no labels on the doors, or no bathrooms at all.“(Emphasis supplied.)

Did you get that and the implications of where the author is headed? According to the Locke people, all of those 20th Century civil rights laws and Supreme Court decisions outlawing discrimination in public accommodations were a monstrous overreach and an infringement on that most holy of all things in life: private property rights. By the “logic,” employed in this essay, this is how that last paragraph would read if the troubled souls in Locke Land had the guts to fully admit in public what they really mean:

“In a free society based on property rights and free markets, as all free societies must be, a privately owned business would have the right to decide whether or not it wants separate bathrooms strictly for WHITE PEOPLE AND PEOPLE OF COLOR biologically defined, bathrooms for WHITE PEOPLE AND PEOPLE OF COLOR subjectively or psychologically defined, completely RACE NEUTRAL bathrooms with no labels on the doors, or no bathrooms at all.”

To which, all a caring and thinking person can say in reply is: Well, at least everyone now knows where things stand and where the people driving policy in our state really want to take us.

News

Several face fines for late state ethics forms , including two mayors and top official at John Locke Foundation

The N.C. Ethics Commission opted Friday to levy fines against 20 people serving on state boards who filed their annual statements of economic interest late.

The forms, which required individuals to divulge the financial interests of themselves and family members living in their home, are supposed to be filed by April 15. The N.C. Ethics Commission, which met on Friday in downtown Raleigh, received more than 6,000 forms this year, which are available via the Internet this year through a searchable database. (Click here to access.)

Among those fined were Atlantic Beach mayor A.B. “Trace” Cooper III; Elbert Richardson, the mayor of Troutman in Iredell County; and Kory Swanson, the president of the John Locke Foundation, a conservative think-tank.

No statewide elected officials or lawmakers faced fines.

Cooper and Richardson were both fined $500 each, for delinquent filings of both their economic interest forms as well as a disclosure form for real estate holdings required for those who sit on regional transportation boards. Cooper, who filed his forms on Aug. 6, is a member of the Down East Rural Transportation Planning Organization. Richardson is a member of the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization and has yet to file his required ethics forms.

State law also required the ethics commission to refer the cases of Cooper, Richardson and four others on regional transportation boards to the State Bureau of Investigation.

Swanson, the John Locke Foundation president, serves on the state’s Seafood Industrial Park Authority, which requires him to file an annual statement of economic interest. Records with the state ethics show he filed a “no change form” on June 24, more than two months late. He was fined $250.

Others who filed their forms late included members of the environmental management commission, N.C. Medical Board, Board of Opticians and two superior court judges.

The ethics commission opted to waive fines for several people who filed late, but who had contacted the Ethics Commission and explained extenuating circumstances, like illnesses or extensive out-of-the-country travel.

 

Commentary

The crazy company they keep

Conspiracy kooksThe folks over on Right-wing Avenue — yeah, you know, the supposedly nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organizations that have been acting as virtual auxiliaries of the campaign of one of the two main U.S. Senate candidates in recent weeks — have a lot of troubling friends and allies on the fringe.

Take, for instance the website “Triad Conservative” (to which one can link directly from the Locke Foundation’s “Piedmont Publius” blog). This is from an article that appeared on the site over the weekend entitled “Time to Entertain Secession?”:

“Matthew Staver of Liberty Counsel argues that we are witnessing the end of Western Civilization.  He is essentially correct.  Western Civilization over the last two millenia has been intrinsically Christian.  Our national government is now post-Christian, post-modern and indeed anti-Christian.  And Greensboro’s own Kay Hagan has been at the forefront of this change.

The United States is no longer a fundamentally good country.”

The post concludes this way:

Read more

Uncategorized

Is state program devoted to fighting inefficiency and redundancy redundant?

NC GearA friend of NC Policy Watch points out that a new and controversial $4 million McCrory administration program to fight inefficiency in state government may itself be an example of inefficiency and redundancy.

As WRAL reported earlier this week, the head of the NC Government Efficiency And Reform initiative (NC GEAR) — a former John Locke Foundation staffer — got a fairly skeptical reception at a joint legislative committee on Monday.  Senators and representatives both voiced concern that $4 million was a lot to spend on an ill-defined initiative that has thus far produced very little of substance.

Even, however, if one sets aside the output from NC GEAR thus far (i.e. not much), it’s also worth noting that North Carolina already has a similar program in place called NC Thinks.

Thus far, the main evident function on the NC GEAR website is a virtual suggestion box for improving government efficiency. But, as a our friend points out, NC Thinks already does that!

Here is the website description for that initiative: Read more

Uncategorized

Art Pope’s big, happy conservative family

Dallas Woodhouse2You may have trouble enduring all 50 minutes and 40 seconds, but today’s weird valedictory farewell by departing Americans for Prosperity director Dallas Woodhouse at the Locke Foundation’s “Shaftsbury Society” luncheon provides an interesting and, at times, surprisingly unfiltered window into just how closely coordinated the right-wing world of charitable 501 (c)(3)’s, (c)(4)’s and various explicitly partisan political and candidate-specific organizations really is. (Woodhouse is leaving AFP to become a campaign/political consultant).

Woodhouse addresses the matter (explicitly and implicitly) several times during the talk — most notably about a quarter of the way in when he explains that  conservative “accomplishments” of late in North Carolina are the result of “the efforts of our candidates, with the effort of our network here through the Locke Foundation, Civitas, the Pope Center for Higher Education, the Center for Constitutional Law, and Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Prosperity Foundation…” and then goes on to thank Art Pope for making it all possible.

To help complete the big, warm and fuzzy picture, the first question at the conclusion of the talk is posed by Woodhouse’s former colleague Jeff Mixon, now of the Governor’s office.

In short, those who watch this video will get a quick, powerful and sobering lesson about who it is that’s driving the policy and political agendas in North Carolina right now (and how, in their troubled worldview, they’re just getting started).