The Campaign Trail


Senator Nickel Calls On General Assembly To Increase Unemployment Benefits PDF Print E-mail
The Campaign Trail
By Administrator   
Friday, 14 January 2022 11:11

North Carolina has over $3 Billion dollars in the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund but continues to deploy meager benefits that rank among the worst in the country.

North Carolina ranks second in the country in total dollars in our Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund compared to every other state in the country, yet is among the worst when it comes to helping unemployed workers. A good place to start would be implementing a workshare program in North Carolina. Workshare programs allow employers to temporarily reduce hours for some or all of their employees. The employees then become eligible to collect partial unemployment benefits, enabling them to recoup some of the lost pay while staying on payroll with reduced hours.

Senator Nickel said, “This pandemic has highlighted the need to fix our state’s unemployment system. A workshare program makes sense now more than ever during these uncertain times.”

Senator Nickel authored Senate Bill 320 which would increase benefits and implement a workshare program for North Carolina. Republicans buried the bill and never allowed it to receive a vote.  The proposal follows Governor Cooper’s call to raise the maximum weekly benefit from $350 to $500 and extend the duration to 26 weeks. Attached are three charts showing:

  • North Carolina ranks nearly last in recipiency rate with 18%, the percentage of unemployed people in the state who receive benefits
  • Second largest Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund in the country
  • Ranking near the bottom in terms of benefits and duration

26 states have workshare which allows workers to stay on payroll but then get UI for reduced hours. A workshare program would be a net savings to the UI Trust Fund and would provide savings to employers and the UI Trust Fund by prorating an individual’s weekly benefits based on a reduction of hours.

Senator Nickel also said, “It’s shameful that in the middle of a pandemic, Republicans have failed to fix our broken unemployment system.”

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Dr. Mike WaldenYou Decide - How Deep Is Our Economic Divide? PDF Print E-mail
The Campaign Trail
By Administrator   
Tuesday, 11 January 2022 08:53

The term “economic divide” is commonly used today.  It can refer to several aspects in our economy, such as the economic differences between urban and rural areas, the widening income and wealth differences between high and low income households, and different views on public policy regarding the economy.

I will ill focus on the last type of economic difference.  For decades – including most of the four-plus decades I’ve been a professional economist - economists have largely agreed about key questions involving the economy.  Economists believed that private decisions over buying and work decisions, combined with businesses competing for buyers’ dollars and labor, led to several good things, like consumers getting what they wanted at the lowest price, and workers being paid for their skills and capabilities.   Also, those willing to take the risk for big rewards would constantly be motivated to improve products and develop better ways of providing what people wanted. 

Indeed, since the birth of this “free-market” economic system in the 17th century, the standard of living and the health and well-being of the average person has soared.  Even households in the lowest-income categories have experienced better living standards. Supporters of the free-market, including the majority of economists, used these results to – with a few exceptions – argue for limited government involvement in the economy. 

Why then, do more economists now support greater government intervention in the economy?  Why have many in my profession apparently changed their opinion about the benefits of the free market?

The answer was actually given by a famous economist from almost a century ago, Joseph Schumpeter.  Schumpeter clearly saw the benefits of the free market delivering tremendous economic gains for the average person.  But he also recognized that every person wouldn’t prosper to the same degree.  Some wouldn’t prosper at all.  Poverty would exist, and there could be large differences in economic outcomes within the population.

As the economy initially is expanding and improving, Schumpeter argued people would accept these economic differences.   But once an economy reached levels of sizable income and wealth, large differences in economic outcomes would become unacceptable to more people – including economists.  Also, even though Schumpeter didn’t include them, those living in wealthy economies are more likely to want to address big issues, like climate change.

If the situation I’ve described is the one we face today, then an important follow-up question is posed.   Should the economic system that developed our prosperity be discarded and replaced with an alternative?   Or, should the free-market system be kept but altered in order to address issues like income inequality and environmental pollution?

Before addressing this important question, let me assert that a free-market approach to the economy does not imply no role for government.  There are many important functions that only a public body like the government can address.   National defense, regulating monopolies (where only one producer exists), providing public safety and a court system, and maintaining competition between companies and preventing collusion are some examples.  Also, since the 1930s, there’s been some level of a social safety net provided for households.

 Many who today want an alternative economic system favor socialism.  A socialist economic system moves many – if not most – economic decisions away from individuals and companies to the government.  The allocation of resources, the setting of wages and prices, and decisions about what innovations to pursue and fund are handled by the government, especially the national government.

Supporters of socialism argue the system will more equally allocate resources and income, thereby dramatically reducing income inequality.  With guaranteed incomes, families will not worry about the needs for them and their children.  Economic advantages to those with large incomes and wealth won’t exist.  The system will be “fair’, say backers.

Yet doubters of socialism see big problems. Why should elected officials or government bureaucrats know better how to allocate resources than the millions of decision-makers in a free market?   Will politics interfere in these decisions?  And what about the rewards to private initiatives that motivate hard work and innovation?   Will those be lost in socialism?

 Fans of the free market want to keep it, but make changes to the foundation.  Renewed efforts and additional resources to make sure everyone has the opportunity to develop their talents is at the top of the list.  So too is support for wealth development through broader homeownership programs and other wealth-building methods.  A re-examination of the social safety net to fix gaps and strengthen support is recommended, yet all the while making sure the help still leaves incentives for self-improvement and financial independence.

 So yes, we do have wide differences in ideas about how the economy should operate and what fixes are needed.   These differences are apparent in the public discourse and increasingly are reflected among economists.  The differences lead to one key question – what kind of economic system do we want?  Y

You decide.

_______________

            Walden is a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at North Carolina State University.

    

Last Updated on Friday, 14 January 2022 11:18
 
Congressional Candidate Nickel Touts Fundraising PDF Print E-mail
The Campaign Trail
By Administrator   
Tuesday, 04 January 2022 11:14

Sen. Wiley Nickel, Democratic Congressional candidate for NC-06 blew past the $500,000 fundraising mark in the fourth quarter. Nickel is running a campaign focused on building a broad coalition of support, and talking about issues that matter for North Carolina’s working families. The campaign will report over $515,000 as of the fourth quarter filing, making Nickel the top fundraiser in the race by a wide margin.

“Our team is thrilled by the level of support we’ve received over the past few months,” said Abby May, Campaign Manager. “The voters truly appreciate Wiley’s hard work during his two terms in the North Carolina Senate, and they want him to fill David Price’s shoes in Congress. Wiley has raised far more than any other candidate in this race. It’s really incredible to see.” 

Wiley Nickel is a former Obama White House staffer. He serves in the North Carolina Senate representing District 16 in western Wake county. He has a record of strong engagement on environmental issues, voting rights, wealth and income inequality, and social justice.

“We’re going to keep working hard to earn every vote in the May 17th Democratic primary,” said Nickel, “I’m humbled by the depth of our support. With this level of fundraising, we’ve been able to get a big head start on having meaningful conversations with Democratic primary voters. These fundraising numbers show that our positive campaign for change is catching on with the voters.”

 

 
Supreme Court Justice Hudson Will Not Seek Re-Election PDF Print E-mail
The Campaign Trail
By Administrator   
Tuesday, 07 December 2021 13:13
North Carolina Associate Justice Robin Hudson does not plan to run for re-election in 2022. Justice Hudson, who will be 70 in February, would be required by North Carolina law to retire at the end of the month she reaches age 72 – serving only 13 months of an eight-year term.
 
“It doesn’t make sense to spend more than a year running in order to serve only thirteen months of a new term,” said Hudson. “It also wouldn’t be fair to my family, my colleagues and supporters to raise money and campaign under these circumstances. I would much prefer to spend my time devoted to the work of the Court, without the distraction that a re-election effort requires.”
 
Justice Hudson, who has served on the Supreme Court since January 2007, is the senior associate justice on the court. She also served as a judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals from 2001 to 2006.
 
Since 2015 she has been Co-chair of the Committee on Judicial Independence for the National Association of Women Judges. “As in many states, North Carolina elects justices and judges to its courts. Voters must do their homework to choose judges who will be fair and impartial, rather than bringing a political agenda. The future of our courts is in their hands,” she said.
 
“I am extremely grateful and honored by the voters of North Carolina for electing me to serve on the courts since 2001 and will continue to contribute in other ways.” 
 
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