Black Backs the Bad Guys

Jim Black (D),leader of the NC House, apparently finds it near impossible to stay out of trouble. While Atty. General Roy Cooper (D) was trying to shut down "payday lenders", Black and another NC House Democrat were taking more than $10,000 each from the lenders.

In case you didn't know, a payday lender is the same as a check-cashing service is the same as a legal loanshark. You bring them proof that you've got a job, and they'll give you a 30-day loan to cover you until your next paycheck. The problem is the interest rate. If you annualize the interest you pay on the short-term loan, the rates are outrageous -- I've heard 200% to 400%. Paying this kind of interest while pre-spending your next paycheck is a quick way into bankruptcy for many. Meanwhile, many banks and credit unions quietly offer the same service at much more reasonable rates. "Payday" = predatory.

Richard Moore Campaigning for Governor: Calls for Increase in Minimum Wage

Democratic State Treasurer Richard Moore is beginning to signal that the unofficial race to replace Mike Easley is already started. The issue he is pushing right now is an increase in the minimum wage. From the Charlotte Observer:

At a luncheon packed with bankers and businesspeople, Moore said the minimum wage is worth less than in 1997, when adjusted for inflation, and said an increase would help more than 100,000 N.C. workers.

"North Carolinians who work hard and play by the rules should be able to make ends meet," Moore told the audience at an economic forum hosted by the N.C. Bankers Association and N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry.

A Dollar is a Start

State Treasurer (and likely gubernatorial candidate) Richard Moore is calling for a $1 increase in North Carolina's minimum wage. (A little quick math: $5.15 x 40hours = $206 a week; throw in a little vacation and that's $10,300 a year; does anyone really think that's enough to live on, much less raise a family on?)

Moore made the call at a meeting of the North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry, a pro-business lobbying group that styles itself the state chamber of commerce. What's the word for that: chutzpah? meshuggener? Or is Moore's read of the land that NC businesses are ready to support a modest minimum wage increase? Stay tuned...

Oh six

There's nothing like a trek through the Andes to get help you get your head on straight. That's where I've been over the past ten days. No internet. No phones. No news. No Bush. No lottery. No war. No North Carolina.

It was a blessed break from all of the things that have come to occupy my life and my mind 24/7 for the past few years.

Most of my Peruvian encounters involved people living on the edge . . . in conditions we'd all consider intolerable. Outdoor toilets, cooking with wood, eating guinea pigs that scurry around the kitchen. Moving rocks, digging holes, planting potatoes and corn. Herding llamas.

Study on Economic Impact of Hispanics in North Carolina

With all the huffing and puffing about the services that we need to pay for immigrants in North Carolina, which around here really means that there are too many "Mexicans", we should remember that Hispanic individuals greatly contribute to our economy. In fact, a recent UNC study pegs their impact at $9 billion and growing. From the Triangle Business Journal:

North Carolina's growing Hispanic population contributes more than $9 billion each year to the state's economy, a figure that could double by 2009 if current trends continue, according to results of a recent study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Finally Some Sensible Reporting on the Gas Tax

There has been a lot of excited talk about the horrible oppression of the 2.8 cent increase in the tax on each gallon of gasoline. The media has been reporting ad nauseum on the possibility of a special session that will address the increase. The increase was not brought about by any legislation but the fact that the tax is a percentage of gas prices. Since prices spiked in the last six months, the tax "increased". Finally, the N&O is asking the relevant question:

How bad is your gas pain?

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