Tag Archives: North Carolina

Views from a happy California expat

Thank you to Richard Eber, frequent contributor to California Political News & Views, for his article on reasons people are leaving California, and for including the Just Vote No Blog editor’s views. Actually, the article wonders why anyone would choose to stay in the once Golden State.

Certainly, there are reasons not to join the California exodus — family ties, a good job, balmy weather, lovely scenery, world-class art and music venues, health constraints, dependence on California’s generous welfare, or reliance on bountiful flow of drugs. However, as Richard Eber’s article points out, the reasons to leave are mounting.

Although Californians are leaving mainly because of exorbitant taxes, housing prices, and living costs, many are rejecting the principal underlying cause of those costs – the all-enveloping far-left one-party rule.

The resulting inefficiencies of the one-party rule make California less desirable than, say, North Carolina, one of the destination states mentioned in Eber’s article. Sure, there are Republicans, Greens, and Libertarians in California. But they have descended into near irrelevance given the power of the Democrat machine. Power of such magnitude, regardless of what party or faction holds it, empowers, and inspires extremes.

Richard Eber’s article is reproduced below:

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Leaving California, by Richard Eber, published September 22, 2022, in California Political News & Views

It’s no secret families of all economic classes from the poor to the super rich are leaving California in droves. From illegal aliens to billionaire Elon Musk folks of all backgrounds are quickly putting the former “Golden State” in their rear view mirrors

Libertarian types like me would like to attribute the migration of about half a million people each year to Texas to be politically motivated. In reality this is not the case. Spurred by the socialistic government headed by Governor Gavin Newsom, high taxes, housing costs, energy costs, crime, and poor schools, are more important than politics.

Migrating businesses are following as well. Texas has been the main beneficiary of what amounts to a wealth transfer of billions of GNP each year welcoming 500,000 new residents. It is no coincidence Austin is quickly gaining the reputation of becoming the Silicon Valley of the South.

Typical is the family of my daughter’s best friend and her family who packed their life and moved to Texas after Lexi graduated from high school. Despite both of her parents having decent jobs, they could not afford to purchase a house in the Bay Area.

This soon changed in Texas when they bought a 2500 square foot home for less than half of what it might cost in California. If Lexi’s family would have stayed, it is doubtful they could even have purchased sardine like dwelling in a Priority Development Area (PDA) Sacramento believes people prefer to single family homes.

Prospering with an upper middle class standard of living, my daughter’s friends have never regretted bolting California. They are pretty much apolitical believing their standard of living and lifestyle is more important than living under expensive Progressive social values.

The truth of the matter is Bill Clinton’s campaign advisor James Carville’s remark in the 1992 Presidential election “It’s the economy stupid” is in the forefront of the exodus of folks departing for greener pastures. While this phenomenon has been partially balanced by immigrants settling in California from South of the border, there is major disparity in tax revenue being taken in.

Last week it was reported government revenues declined 11% in the last quarter. While Sacramento might sugar coat these statistics blaming Covid-19 for the drop, many economists believe this will be a preview of coming attractions as the land of Hollywood is fast losing its luster.

Apparently, Gavin Newsom with his fixation with promoting the use of electric vehicles doesn’t care if it costs up to $35.00 dollars more to fill up ones tank compared with several other states. This is but a tip of the iceberg families pay to live in a so called sunny paradise.

If those departing California were really interested in staying rather than being fitted for PF Fliers, they would try to change the Progressive agenda which dominates politics in all but a few rural communities. What then prevents voters from supporting more rational policies that would lower their cost of living?

There is no clear answer for middle of the road and conservative individuals who might want to change the current system. There doesn’t seem to be a clear path for those who wish to slow down going all in on climate change, Sanctuary Cities, defunding the police, reducing the influence of public employee labor unions and paying for costly social programs.

Apparently, this growing group of disenfranchised citizens doesn’t feel the Republican Party of California has the ability to elect candidates to carry out their wishes.

In contrast we have my friend Marcy Berry who recently departed San Francisco to live near her daughter’s family who relocated to North Carolina. As a Libertarian, she has been delighted with the political environment there. After a few months, here is her report from the land of Tar Heels and Blue Devils:

Hello from a transplanted Californian in North Carolina. Why are y’all still in California? Family ties, great job? Legitimate reasons. Barring that, anyone who stays must love California’s all-enveloping progressive reign. Just sayin’. And here are some more unsolicited opinions:

California’s all-enveloping progressive reign is the state’s most salient characteristic, and is what makes California so politically different from North Carolina, a swing state. Folks in a swing state just behave differently than those in a dominant regime.

North Carolina has a Democrat governor, and a majority-Republican but not veto-proof state legislature. Governor Roy Cooper navigates a peaceful balance, without the histrionics that Governor Gavin Newsom can perpetrate in his all-Democrat dominion.

Voter profile in North Carolina is currently 34.6% Democrat, 30.3% Republican, 1% Libertarian, and a whopping 34.5% unaffiliated. The unaffiliated contingent could account for the majority-Democrat voters and majority-Republican legislature. Let’s see what happens in the 2022 midterm elections, with unaffiliated voters residing mostly in the most populous counties.

North Carolina, not having (yet?) a dominant political party, is awash in both right and left-leaning voices. The local newspaper in my county leans left, my neighbors lean right, I am told that transplants arriving daily from California due to North Carolina’s rapidly expanding technology sector lean semi-left (they are aware of the mess they left behind but are not sure how else to think).

Unlike Republicans in California, Republicans in North Carolina are vocal and determined. Current and aspiring political candidates know they matter. They know they have a shot at making the state legislature veto proof and of turning the U.S. Senate majority-Republican.

Is there still hope to bring the two-party system back to California? Will the domination of the three quarters Democratic legislature and all State office holders continue indefinitely? The answer to this question is unequivocally “yes”. My only regret is wondering if such a change might occur in my lifetime.

I would suppose GOP State Chairwoman Jessica Patterson and her inept followers will eventually be replaced (if there is still a Republican Party). In a similar vein it is likely if Gavin Newsom and his successors continue to run the State into ground with their Marxist-Lite policies, needed changes will eventually occur.

There are so many “could have should of” scenarios to contend with in predicting California’s future. All we can do is hope.

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Picture: Meme from Babylon Bee, a publication that never tires of having fun at California’s cost.

Election signs

How Refreshing to have political choices!

After living in California, a state forced into a progressive political bubble by the populous coastal region, it is refreshing to now call North Carolina home. This state has strong voices in both progressive and conservative camps.

Even within camps, there are divergent voices. In the conservative camp there are the Trump-anointed vs. establishment. In the progressive camp there are reformers vs. centrists. The libertarian camp is not as visible, although several libertarians are on the upcoming elections ballot.

This mishmash of sides will thin out on May 17, when voters choose who will represent them in the General Election.

The stakes are not insignificant.

North Carolina has maintained a workable political balance with a Republican-majority state legislation and a Democrat governor. Although most voters seem content with such arrangement, activists are not.

At the more contentious Federal level is where swords are drawn. The U.S. Senate is divided 50-50, with the Vice President, a Democrat, being the tie breaker. U.S. Senator from North Carolina, Richard Burr, a Republican, is retiring. His successor, depending on affiliation, can help either maintain or upset the 50-50 balance.

Then there is the Trump Effect. Former President Donald Trump won in North Carolina in 2016 and in 2020. Some say Trump’s influence in North Carolina will be determined if his endorsed candidates do well in the May 17 primary. Others point that the leading contender in North Carolina’s important U.S. Senate race is Trump-endorsed Ted Budd.

On the other side of the coin is the Millennial Effect. Liberal states like California are emptying out, and the bulk of the out-migrants are young professionals. Wake County, N.C., for example, is full of them, since the burgeoning Research Triangle offers well-paying jobs and pleasant low-cost living. Wake County is politically blue, and locals say that Cary stands for “Concentrated Area of Relocated Yankees.”

Thus, battles between factions rage

In his speech marking the anniversary of the January 6 debacle President Joe Biden said,

“I have said it many times. It’s no more true or real than when we think about the events of January 6. We are in a battle for the soul of America.”

A bit melodramatic but apropos. Today’s battle is not over one or two issues, like The Vietnam War or the New Deal. The battle, daunting and relentless, is over a wide range of subjects that are sometimes lumped together in phrases like “our democracy” or “make America great.”

At its core, the fight is about preserving our Constitutional Republic or abandoning it in preference of a Marxist-based democracy. States like California or New York have already chosen Marxism, so there is no real battle there. Residents of swing states like North Caroline, Florida, and Texas are still waging war.

Good to be where political choices still exist.

Marcy Berry
Editor
Just Vote No Blog

Research Triangle

North Carolina’s Dr. Ralph Baric, Virologist

North Carolina’s Research Triangle is home to world-class institutions. The Triangle gets its name from Research Triangle Park and three Tier 1 research universities—Duke University, North Carolina State University and University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Thus, it is not surprising to find North Carolina scientists on the forefront of coronavirus research and pharmaceutical development.

One such person is Dr. Ralph Baric, distinguished researcher and professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Recognition for his contributions to coronavirus research and vaccine development abound. Among his accolades in 2021 are the O. Max Gardner Award which recognizes faculty within the UNC System that make “the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race,” and the News & Observer Tar Heel of the Year award given to North Carolina residents who have made lasting contributions to their community and state.

Acknowledgement of individuals in any cutting-edge endeavor never comes without controversy. In today’s hyper reaction and response to the corona virus pandemic, Dr. Baric’s virus engineering is especially controversial. Dismissing concern about his work as conspiracy theory does not help, since it detracts from the immense complexity of such work. Some of the arguments are worth repeating.

The Lab-Leak Debate

In its September 2021 issue, the Atlantic carried an article about a proposal presented by Peter Daszak, President the EcoHealth Alliance, to DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) in 2018, describing a $14.2 million project to defuse the threat of bat-borne coronaviruses. Here is an excerpt from The Lab-Leak Debate Just Got Even Messier, the Atlantic, 09/26/21.

The document seems almost tailor-made to buttress one specific theory of a laboratory origin: that SARS-CoV-2 wasn’t simply brought into a lab by scientists and then released by accident, but rather pieced together in a deliberate fashion. In fact, the work described in the proposal fits so well into that narrative of a “gain-of-function experiment gone wrong” that some wondered if it might be too good to be true.

Central figures in the coronavirus-origins debate were involved. Among Daszak’s listed partners on the grant were Ralph Baric of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an American virologist known for doing coronavirus gain-of-function studies in his lab, and Shi Zhengli, the renowned virus hunter from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Risks vs. Benefits of Virus Engineering

In June 2021, MIT Technology Review discussed the risks of bat-virus engineering that need to be weighed against the urgency of emerging pandemics. The article quoted Dr. Ralph Baric’s assessment of risk vs. benefit. Here is an excerpt from Inside the risky bat-virus engineering that links America to Wuhan, Technology Review, 06/29/21

His 2015 paper, “A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence,” was a tour de force, utilizing bleeding-edge genetic technology to alert the civilized world to a looming danger on its periphery. It also revived concerns about gain-of-function experiments, which Baric had known it would.

In the paper, he spelled out the extra precautions he’d taken and held up the research as a test case. “The potential to prepare for and mitigate future outbreaks must be weighed against the risk of creating more dangerous pathogens,” he wrote. “Scientific review panels may deem similar studies building chimeric viruses based on circulating strains too risky to pursue.”

The NIH decided the risk was worth it. In a potentially fateful decision, it funded work similar to Baric’s at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which soon used its own reverse-genetics technology to make numerous coronavirus chimeras.

Quest for the Universal Remedy

As arguments pro and con COVID-19 vaccines rage, scientists on the fore front of vaccine development will inevitably receive both accolades and criticism. Again, dismissing all con arguments as conspiracy, anti-science, or anti-vaxxer is unhelpful. More rational and helpful would be to acknowledge that, as human beings, none of us produces perfect solutions, free from human limitations and frailties. Picking a best balance between risk and rewards is perhaps the best any of us can do.

The MIT Technology Review article quoted earlier mentions Dr. Baric’s efforts to develop “universal drugs and vaccines against the full spectrum of SARS-like viruses.” A breakthrough came with his collaborative work in 2013 with Dr. Shi Zhengli, the virology at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Shi had detected the genome of a new virus, called SHC014, that was one of the two closest relatives to the original SARS virus, but her team had not been able to culture it in the lab.

Baric had developed a way around that problem—a technique for “reverse genetics” in coronaviruses. Not only did it allow him to bring an actual virus to life from its genetic code, but he could mix and match parts of multiple viruses. He wanted to take the “spike” gene from SHC014 and move it into a genetic copy of the SARS virus he already had in his lab. The spike molecule is what lets a coronavirus open a cell and get inside it.

The resulting chimera would demonstrate whether the spike of SHC014 would attach to human cells. If it could, then it could help him with his long-term project of developing universal drugs and vaccines against the full spectrum of SARS-like viruses that he increasingly considered sources of potential pandemics.

From Splicing to Vaccination

Dr. Baric holds Patent number 9884895 Methods and compositions for chimeric coronavirus spike proteins, among his many other scientific papents. As the inventor of this product (with Drs. Sudhakar Agnihothram and Boyd Yount), Dr. Baric can claim a major contribution to the development of COVID-19 vaccines.

Risks Necessitate Free and Informed Choices

Identification and manipulation of viral spike proteins entail serious risk. But so is being exposed to the coronavirus without the choice of protection via a vaccine.

Researchers in the life sciences are the primary line of defense against organisms that harms us. Polio and smallpox are no longer the scourges they once were. Hopefully, soon SARS-CoV-2 will also be tamed in a collaborative approach that allows for rational and free assessments of risks and benefits.

Skyline in Charlotte, North Carolina

Hello North Carolina

Greetings from North Carolina. The Just Vote No Blog just moved here. Therefore, the Blog now has a new page dedicated to the state. Here is an overview of JVN’s new home.

Population and Growth

North Carolina is one of the fastest-growing states, along with Texas and Florida. People are moving here seeking economic opportunities — especially in the expanding technology field — affordability, and open spaces. In 2020 there were 10.4 million people living in North Carolina, making it the ninth largest state in the nation, and one which gained an additional congressional seat in the 2020 census. Net migration in and around the state’s largest cities has been a key component of North Carolina’s growth.

The state’s most populous and best-known cities are,

  • Charlotte, population 912,096, is a business and financial center. Bank of America headquarters are in Charlotte, and Wells Fargo Bank has a large presence in the city.
  • Raleigh, population 483,579, is the state capital. The city is known for financial, educational and cultural facilities.
  • Durham, population 283,506, is the principal city in North Carolina’s famous Research Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill). Duke University and Duke University Health System are Durham’s largest employers.

Despite growth, North Carolina’s rural population remains significant. In 2019, 40% of the state’s population lived in rural areas, and 85% of North Carolina’s municipalities had less than 10,000 residents. Residents of the more suburban areas enjoy tree-lined streets, large leafy backyards, and lots of open space.

Major Industries

North Carolina is home to 13 Fortune 500 companies. Major industries with headquarters or business presence in the state are:

Aerospace and defense: Lockheed Martin, Honeywell, GE Aviation and Spirit AeroSystems.
Automotive and heavy machinery: Bridgestone, Caterpillar, Borg Warner, Freightliner, and Thomas Built Buses.
Food processing and manufacturing: Campbell’s, Butterball, Smithfield, Sierra Nevada, Texas Pete (known for its Louisiana-style hot sauce) and Mt. Olive (known for its pickles).
Information Technology: Google, IBM, Cisco.
Biotechnology and pharmaceutical: Bayer, BASF, LabCorp and Novo Nordisk.
Furniture: Ethan Allen, Ashley Furniture, Lexington Home Brands and Sealy.

Income, Housing and Employment

Real median household income is $60,266 (U.S. $67,521; California $77,358).
Average listing price of homes is $513,120 (U.S. $710,321; California $1,554,478).
Unemployment rate is 4.1 (U.S. 4.6; California 7.3)

Note: When we speak of homes in North Carolina, especially in southern counties such as Holly Springs or Apex, we are talking about relatively large residences. Neighborhoods with few, if any, homes smaller than 3-bedrooms 3-baths are not uncommon.

Politics

Republicans outnumber Democrats in the state’s General Assembly, but do not have veto-proof majorities. Thus, Governor Roy Cooper, Democrat, uses his veto power prolifically. This arrangement satisfies the majority Democrat voters for now. Libertarians and Greens do not comprise a share of the voting public significant enough to affect political outcomes.

History and Culture

North Carolina was one of the original 13 British colonies. Despite hardships and disease, the colonies grew and prospered along the Atlantic coast during the 17th and 18th centuries. Growth was mostly the result of migration of free and indentured people fleeing war, persecution, or lack of opportunities in Europe; convicts sent to America by the European courts; and Africans sold to slave traders.

Climate, soil, natural resources, and proximity to the sea determined how the colonies developed. New England Colonies — New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut — flourished with fish, whale products, ships, timber products, and furs. The Middle Colonies — Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, and New Jersey — with vast fertile ground, were the “breadbasket” of the colonies, where farmers produced corn, wheat, beef, and pork. The Southern Colonies — Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia – had hilly coastal plains with good soil to grow large tracks of cash crops like tobacco, rice, cotton, sugar cane and indigo.

The large, labor-intensive cash crop plantations of the Southern Colonies encouraged the adoption of cheap labor. Slavery was the cheapest form of labor. After the initial outlay for the purchase of a slave, a plantation owner spent little more in food and shelter, and garnered the benefit of subsequent generation of slaves. Slavery did exist in the Northeast and Middle Colonies, but not to the same extent, since the economies of those colonies did not depend on sizeable manual labor.

Slogan and Motto

On April 12, 1776, North Carolina’s Provincial Congress met in Halifax and passed a resolution calling for independence from Great Britain. The Halifax Resolves made North Carolina the first state to call for independence.

By that time, the colonies had developed some form of self-government. They also had developed sustaining trade both with one another and with Great Britain. So the time was ripe for independence, which formally came with the 1784 Treaty of Paris.

Today, North Carolina motorists can choose to have the official slogan “First in Freedom” on their license plates to commemorate the Halifax Resolves.

Obviously, that slogan did not come about without controversy, since antebellum North Carolina was heavily dependent on slave labor and joined the Confederacy in 1861. The state was not readmitted to the Union until 1868, after it agreed to ratify the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Given North Carolina’s slogan, the state’s motto seems almost chiding: Esse quam videri, “To be rather than to seem.” The phrase is from Cicero’s essay On Friendship chapter 98: Virtute enim ipsa non tam multi praediti sse quam videri volunt, “Few are those who wish to be endowed with virtue rather than to seem so.”

Pictured Above

Skyline of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Pictured Below

Fuquay-Varina is one of the fastest-growing towns in Wake County, North Carolina, but visiting Fuquay is like stepping into a quiet past. Fuquay’s Christmas Parade was on Sunday, December 5. It was a pretty relaxed, fun event, with lots of cheering for the marching local groups. Pictured is the enthusiastic brass band.

A parade always shows what is important to residents. This parade was led by police and firefighters in uniform. North Carolina is host to several military bases; thus, unsurprisingly the state National Guard and other military contingents rode their military vehicles or marched. The Fuquay Cruisers showed off their pre-1970s classic cars. High schoolers, home schoolers, ROTC, and Scouts were all there.

One had to wonder how many of the happy people lining up the parade route were transplants from California and other states.

Brass band in parade