Odds and ends

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The General Assembly and Gov. Roy Cooper deserve an attaboy for passing and signing North Carolina’s first state budget since 2018.

But they also deserve a few raised eyebrows for some of the pork that taxpayers will have to fund. Cleveland County, for example, is getting $59 million for a new courthouse.

In Harnett County, when we built our new courthouse about 20 years ago, we had to borrow the money.

I checked with Teddy Byrd, the county chairman at the time, to confirm my memory on that. And he confirmed with Neil Emory, the county manager at the time, that the only thing the state gave us was the telephone system (because it had to be tied in with the state system).

It’s not fair that all counties aren’t treated alike.

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As of the middle of September — the latest tally from the Competitive Enterprise Institute in Washington — there had already been nine “economically significant” federal rules enacted this year. (“Economically significant” rules are those that cost $100 million or more.)

By comparison, there were five such rules in 2020, and four in 2019.

Remember when Bill Clinton said “the era of big government is over”?

It wasn’t.

• • •

At the risk of sounding like an alarmist, public schools are increasingly becoming ideological battlegrounds.

Here’s what Betsy McCaughey, a writer for the Daily Signal, a site affiliated with The Heritage Foundation in Washington, shared this week:

“… the Hartford Courant reported that West Hartford, Connecticut, elementary school parents are in an uproar. They’re complaining that teachers are putting words such as ‘nonbinary’ on the chalkboard and telling kids, including kindergarteners, they can live life as a gender different from what they were assigned at birth. Parents were told by school authorities that they can’t opt their children out.”

Ms. McCaughey says this falls under the heading of “social and emotional learning.”

“It sounds beneficial,” she wrote, “but that’s a disguise. In truth, social and emotional learning indoctrinates kids with extremist ideas many parents don’t condone.”

Is Ms. McCaughey overstating her case? I don’t know. But parents would be wise to make sure they know what their kids are being taught.

• • •

Conservatives tend to distrust Big Tech because our voices are often squelched. And Twitter’s incoming CEO offers no hope that things will get better.

Based on his own words, Parag Agrawal, who will soon replace Jack Dorsey as head of the company, is not particularly fond of free speech.

“Our role is not to be bound by the First Amendment,” he said during an interview last year, “but our role is to serve a healthy public conversation and our moves are reflective of things that we believe lead to a healthier public conversation.”

He’s also probably not a fan of George Orwell, who wrote, “If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

I know, Twitter is a private company and can censor all it wants. But when nearly all public discourse takes place on a handful of websites, we can only say what those sites allow. That’s not freedom.

Contact Bart Adams at badams@mydailyrecord.com.

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