Exile on Jones Street: Leading from behind

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kirk rossby Kirk Ross

They’re spinning in Raleigh. Spinning real hard. Weaving an amazing tale of a Southeastern state buffeted by a deep recession and tied a feeble nanny-state regime and how it was saved, rescued if you will, by the heroics of smart, limited government and an unfettered market.

This is the Carolina Comeback, my friends. And we are legendary. Just ask the governor.

In recent remarks, the governor told a group of bankers and business types that the Tar Heel State is showing the rest of the states just how it’s done.

Now, some liberals in the press have twisted his words a bit, but dammit, this time Pat is right. Apparently, the current fuss, penned by WRAL’s Mark Binker, is over the governor claiming credit for innovations in unemployment compensation that have spread nationwide.

Those innovations were the result of a massive debt to the feds that built up because 1) the state had fairly progressive unemployment compensation maximums, 2) employer payments were set too low for too long, and 3) there was a really bad recession.

Now, some Keynesian fancy-pants might tell you that when you need a counter-cyclical stimulus there are few vehicles as efficient as unemployment compensation, because that money goes flying back into the economy for stuff like food, rent and utilities. Forget that.

North Carolinians are bootstrappers. And so the governor and the legislature worked together to pay down that debt. To get the money, they had to increase the payments into the system (and the heartless federal government). But with a recession still roaring it was going to be hard for our businesses to shoulder that burden alone. So they sliced the benefits and looked for ways to kick people off the rolls as quickly as possible. That’s leadership.

This got the attention of the feds, who said, “Oh, that’s too much leading,” and kicked the state out of the system, freeing thousands of unemployed North Carolinian’s from the bonds of the federal Assistance for Unemployed Workers and Struggling Families Act.

That act would have keep unemployed workers and their struggling families nestled in the warm bosom of socialism for another six months or so.

In the end, the feds, with the help of a recently defeated senator named Kay, granted a few more months of suckling, but then something miraculous happened. The entire federal government ground to a halt and decided to chuck the whole program. That freed more than 1.3 million unemployed people.

You may credit Ted Cruz or some other prima donna for this, but I’m with the governor: The rest of the states came around to our way of thinking.

Binker, who is rumored to keep a picture of Elizabeth Warren in his wallet, says the other states had no choice but to follow North Carolina’s lead since the program wasn’t reauthorized by Congress. But that doesn’t rule out the governor’s claim that the brilliance of this state’s approach simply changed the paradigm in DC.

There are far too many examples of this state taking the lead to be overlooked. The left wing sneers and calls what states like ours are doing a “race to the bottom,” and they’re right, but not in the way they think. Everyone knows that the bottom land is the land of opportunity, and everyone knows that there is no state that knows how to race better than the home of NASCAR.

I challenge anyone to find a state that’s done more to lower the cost of education to taxpayers or freed up so many positions for new teachers. Find me a commonwealth that’s done more to reduce the burden of regulation to industry. You smell those nitrates and particulate matter? That’s the smell of capitalism in full flower.

We’re going down, friends, and that’s why so many look up to us.

Who knows, maybe in this era we’ll even have a new motto befitting of our leadership role. North Carolina: Y’all Comeback Now, Hear?