Editorial busts Berger’s mythmaking about Apple’s decision to come to NC

Sen. Phil Berger

Be sure to check out this morning’s Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial on WRAL.com, which delves into the real and imagined reasons that Apple Computer selected the Triangle for its big new campus.

As is explained in “Why did Apple pick N.C.? Investments, not tax cuts,” the truth isn’t what state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and his ideological allies would have us believe. After highlighting the rare show of solidarity Gov. Cooper and GOP legislative leaders displayed in and around the Apple announcement, the editorial observes:

Still amid the exhibition, Berger could not resist partisan boasting: “We’ve worked to move North Carolina from the bottom of the pack in business climate ratings to near the top.”

That is a myth, fostered by some partisan thinktanks and with little basis in reality. For a decade before 2011 when Berger started his reign as Senate President Pro Tem, the non-ideological Site Selection Magazine ranked the state’s business climate tops in the nation 9 of the 10 years. From 2011 through 2020, North Carolina ranked first only twice – though it’s been among the top 3 for all but one of those years. Since 2006 when Forbes Magazine started ranking best states to do business, North Carolina has never been lower than fifth.

So much for bottom of the pack.

Berger further sought to suggest that the General Assembly’s business tax and regulation cutting binge somehow was a lure. “We’ve spent 10 years enacting responsible budget, lowering taxes and making regulations reasonable the winning formula for job creation.”

But that’s not what experts say. When the experts who do the Site Selection Magazine rankings rate their top criteria, most important were: “1. Workforce skills 2. Workforce development. 3. Transportation infrastructure.” Taxes, incentives and legal climate are lower in their top-10 criteria.

The editorial then goes on to rightly explain the real reason Apple is coming: sustained investments in things like education, infrastructure and innovation — things that Berger and his pals have neglected and endangered over the last decade.

As the essay rightfully concludes:

North Carolina cannot afford to live off of a legacy that it does not continue to support. Failure to adequately invest jeopardizes the ability to attract new and expanding companies that spread jobs and opportunities to overlooked or missing out parts of the state.

If North Carolina aims to attract businesses that have plans for their future than the state must also demonstrate the same.

Legislative leaders need to take their finger off the PAUSE button and make the strategic investments beyond merely OK enough to get by. If North Carolina seeks to attract businesses that are focused on achieving excellence, it must also to demonstrate the same.

If there’s anything the legislature needs to pause it’s inane legislation like HB 2 and the recent nonsense directed at attacking transgender people.

Maybe Apple boss Tim Cook or one of his aides can take Berger aside and explain this at some point.

Click here to read the entire editorial.

Don’t miss Thursday’s online conversation with Pulitzer-prize winning author, David Zucchino

Join us Thursday, May 6 at 3:30 p.m. for a very special (and virtual) Crucial Conversation:

Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Zucchino on his new book, Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy

Click here to register.

For many decades, what little most North Carolinians knew of the events of 1898 in the port city of Wilmington was that the town had been the site of a memorable and destructive “race riot.”

In recent years, however, this characterization has been demonstrated to have been an absurd and destructive whitewash. In fact, what took place was a brutal insurrection and a rare instance of a violent overthrow of an elected government in the U.S. It halted gains made by Blacks and restored racism as official government policy, cementing white rule for another half century.

In Wilmington’s Lie, Pulitzer Prize-winner David Zucchino uses contemporary newspaper accounts, diaries, letters and official communications to create a gripping and compelling narrative that weaves together individual stories of hate and fear and brutality. This is a dramatic and definitive account of a remarkable but forgotten chapter of American history.

Join us for a special Q&A with the author.

David Zucchino is a contributing writer for The New York Times. He has covered wars and civil conflicts in more than two dozen countries. Zucchino was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his dispatches from apartheid South Africa and is a four-time Pulitzer Prize finalist for his reporting from Iraq, Lebanon, Africa and inner-city Philadelphia. He is the author of Thunder Run and Myth of the Welfare Queen.

Click here to register.

Don’t miss this very special event.

When: Thursday May 6 at 3:30 p.m.

Where: Online; pre-register from the comfort of your home, and remember to social distance!

Suggested contribution: $10 (click here to support NC Policy Watch)

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or [email protected]

Watch author Thomas Healy and Floyd McKissick, Jr. discuss “Soul City: Race, Equality, and the Lost Dream of an American Utopia”

If you missed Thursday’s fascinating and informative discussion of the new book, Soul City: Race, Equality, and the Lost Dream of an American Utopia that featured the author, Seton Hall University law professor Thomas Healy, and the son of the man behind the Soul City experiment, former North Carolina state senator and current state utilities commissioner Floyd McKissick, Jr., don’t despair.

The Zoom recording of the entire 75 minute conversation, including comments from Floyd’s sister, Prof. Charmaine McKissick-Melton, and questions from the audience, can be viewed by clicking here.

New mapping provides county-by-county profile of NC’s low-wage uninsured workers

Image: AdobeStock

Researchers at the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families have published a new report that profiles the hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians attempting to survive without health insurance.

North Carolina, of course, is one of 12 states that has not yet taken up Medicaid expansion, thus denying a huge number of working adults access to quality, affordable health care. If the state expanded Medicaid coverage, Georgetown experts estimate that at least 372,400 uninsured adults, or one-third of the state’s uninsured population, could gain health insurance. Other estimates place the number even higher.

According to the Georgetown research, “42 percent of those working without insurance are employed in the hospitality, retail, and construction industries. These are cashiers, cooks, freight and stock laborers, waiters/waitresses, and even nursing assistants who earn too much to qualify for current Medicaid coverage and too little to buy private insurance.”

The report also offers the following demographic breakdown:

Our analysis finds that women make up a disproportionate share of low-income, non-elderly North Carolinians (58 percent). In North Carolina, 59 percent of uninsured, low-income non-elderly citizens are White, 32 percent are Black, and the remainder describe themselves in other categories including American Indian, Asian/Pacific Islander, or multi-racial. Approximately 6 percent of uninsured, low-income non-elderly citizens are Latino.

The map below shows that the uninsured rate for all non-elderly adult workers varies considerably across the state, ranging from 5.8 percent in Gates County to 27.2 percent in Avery County. While uninsured working adults live in communities across the state, the 14 counties with the highest proportion of uninsured working adults are in rural parts of North Carolina.

Hover over the map to check out the uninsured rate for working adults in your county. Click here to explore the rest of the report.

GOP state representative tries to have it both ways on Apple’s new plan to come to NC

Rep. Jason Saine

There is, of course, nothing particularly new about politicians talking out of both sides of their mouths. One of the favored hypocrisies of conservative Republican elected officials, for instance, involves railing on a daily basis about the evils of big gummint spending and then making a beeline to the latest ribbon-cutting announcement of a new military installation, school, agricultural center or some other public work in their district.

In these instances, the basic rule is a simple one: when public tax dollars come to your district, they prime the economic pump and help create jobs. When they go to another district, it’s a matter of wasteful bureaucratic spending. If North Carolinians had $1,000 for every time Senators Burr and Tillis went down this road, we might have enough to cover the cost of the new public incentive plan the state will provide to Apple Computer to locate its big new campus in Wake County.

All that said, most politicians usually try to provide some kind of plausible buffer between their statements. Rare is the lawmaker who both praises and criticizes the same deal.

And then there’s North Carolina State Rep. Jason Saine of Lincoln County. Saine, a Republican currently serving his sixth House term and who chairs the powerful Appropriations Committee, offered two very different takes on the big Apple announcement today.

At 10:03 this morning, Saine went on Twitter to “like” the tweet posted by John Locke Foundation President and Chief Strategy Officer Donald Bryson in which he blasted the deal.

Thirty-nine minutes later, Saine issued his own tweet in which he, in essence, claimed credit for the announcement:

Of course, Saine will probably try to argue that it was all his and the GOP’s doing that Apple is coming to North Carolina and that the incentive dough played no role (never mind the destruction he and his colleagues have wreaked on our schools, environment and public infrastructure). But that is, by any assessment, slicing the baloney pretty thin.

None of this is to say that incentives are always good or that the Locke people haven’t issued some valid critiques of the idea from time to time. It is to say, however that conservative politicians who tend to parrot the group’s positions ought to try and at least get their stories straight.