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Archive for November, 2013

Lufthansa stays in Charlotte — for now

And the duration of “now” may be rather uncertain. That’s what you should take away from this UPoR story that attempts to put a big happy face on the future of Lufthansa’s Charlotte-Munich flight. The story comes after Lufthansa CEO Christoph Franz said earlier in the month that Charlotte was “a smaller destination … that is heavily depending on the first-class feeder network from US Airways.”

Pressing Lufthansa on the subject, the Charlotte Observer came up with this:

Lufthansa spokesman Nils Haupt said that’s not the case. “We are committed to the Charlotte market,” Haupt said. “US Airways is helping us, admittedly, at the moment with the feed.”

The US Airways-American merger is on track to close as soon as early December.

But Haupt said “We’re pretty sure we can manage” to make the Charlotte flights work without US Airways feeding Lufthansa passengers. “There are no plans, on a short-term basis” to change the flight to Munich.

Short-term basis? Pretty sure we can manage? That’s really not very reassuring. Airlines will, of course, publicly state their commitment to a market until the moment come that they drop a market. That’s just common sense. And it’s also just common sense that the future of Lufthansa’s CLT-Munich flight is uncertain in the medium term despite those public reassurances, as what is now US Airways goes from being an ally of Lufthansa to an adversary.

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Another NASCAR capacity cut

This time at Talladega, where seating is being reduced to 80,000, down from 109,000 this year and from 147,000 (!) not that long ago. So it would seem that the good old days of NASCAR, at least as measured by actual race attendance, aren’t expected to come back ever again.

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Pat McCrory speaks

On the airport situation, saying on WFAE that the city of Charlotte should run the airport and Jerry Orr shouldn’t be in charge. Specific quotes:

Jerry Orr’s 71 (sic) years old. He’s been great for the airport, but it’s time to move on. I think Jerry could still add some value, but it’s time to move on. This is not about an individual.

And:

We need to get politics out of Charlotte’s airport. And that includes state politicians, and that includes city politicians, too. And we’re working to do just that.

Well, it’s nice of the governor to finally clear up where he stands. Interesting timing though. This mess of an issue is far from over, especially if the new Charlotte Airport Commission dumps Orr. I expect the General Assembly to do something about the airport, especially if the new airport board decides to get rid of Orr and then goes inactive while the legal situation is sorted out.

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The NSA: Still spying on you

Despite what its own rules and federal court orders say. Am I surprised in the least? No.

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More silly economic impact studies

My John Locke Foundation colleague Roy Cordato has a new column out on economic impact studies. In it, he explains why most such studies are worse than useless. A case in point, is a recent study on the impact of the nuclear power industry in the Carolinas, which generated considerable local media attention. Cordato writes:

The study uses a proprietary statistical package called IMPLAN. IMPLAN is widely used by consultants who are hired by industry groups to demonstrate the “benefits” of an industry’s economic activities in a particular geographic area. Studies using this package are quite common. They all suffer from the same flaw: They don’t actually measure economic impact.

IMPLAN’s attractiveness is tied to the fact that its users do not need to know anything about economics. They need to know only how to manipulate and make use of IMPLAN. Hence, it is almost always the case that when IMPLAN is used, the results that are reported say little about what an economist would describe as the real economic impact.

A calculation of the true economic impact of any investment activity has to consider both benefits of that activity and costs. The benefits arise from the productive output generated by the investment, and the costs arise from the use of resources that are employed in producing that output. The only kinds of studies that can measure actual economic impact are those that invoke cost-benefit analysis, in which the value of the productive output generated by the investments is balanced against the opportunity costs, i.e., the alternative uses of the resources that are taken out of the economy to generate that productive output.

This industry study, and the IMPLAN statistical package used to produce it, does none of this. First of all, there is no attempt to ask the most basic, freshman Econ class question: How else might the resources — land, labor, steel, energy, lumber, technology, etc. — that are going into the nuclear industry have been used? Indeed, if one simply reads through the study, it would be easy to conclude that all the resources used by the industry would have been sitting idle had it not been for these nuclear industry investments. In other words, the study seems to assume zero or close to zero opportunity cost.

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Panthers get some respect

The Carolina Panthers’ Sunday, December 8 road game against the New Orleans Saints has been moved to an 8:30pm start time. Yup, Sunday Night Football on NBC. Doesn’t get much better than that.

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NASCAR seeks a series sponsor

Nationwide is dropping out as the sponsor for NASCAR’s number two series after next season. So how much money is NASCAR looking for from a replacement? Try a total commitment of over $30 million a year. As the SportsBusiness Journal reports:

NASCAR is asking $12 million to $15 million a year for title sponsorship of its secondary series, which has been held by Nationwide Insurance since 2008.

NASCAR’s asking price is a minimum 20 percent increase above the $10 million in rights fees that Nationwide now pays. The insurer is dropping the title sponsorship after the 2014 season.

In addition to the rights fee, NASCAR executives are telling potential buyers they want a 10-year deal that includes a media commitment of more than $10 million and an activation commitment of more than $10 million, putting the overall annual spend at more than $30 million a year.

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The GOP and immigration reform

The (Raleigh) News & Observer’s Rob Christensen has a column out on Republicans and immigration reform. In the last three sentences, he offers up what he sees is the political calculus of the issue:

But the issue is a difficult one for Republican House members. While GOP lawmakers understand both the practical issues (businesses’ need for workers) and the politics (the need for Republicans to reach out to the nation’s largest minority), it doesn’t look that way in their own districts.

Because of redistricting, most Republican House members represent districts that have few Hispanic voters. But they do have to worry about their right flank in GOP primaries.

That’s why if there is any movement on the immigration issue in the House, it is likely to come after next spring’s primaries. And it is more likely to come in piecemeal changes in the law, rather than in any overall comprehensive reform legislation.

That’s an accurate description of the political thinking as of a year or six months ago. Recently though, there’s been considerable push back on the Right against the idea of reaching out to Hispanics (or blacks, or younger voters). The argument being advanced by Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review, and William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard (among many others) is that immigration reform is ultimately irrelevant to the Republican’s chances. Why? Because it’s argued implicitly or explicitly that Republicans can win the White House in the future simply by getting enough white votes.

Yup. You read that right. The fact that American is becoming less white doesn’t matter because the GOP can win without getting many minority votes. To do so requires the GOP regularly win as large a percentage of the white vote as it did during the 1984 Reagan 49-state landslide. Not a problem.

Except that it is a problem. The National Journal offers up a very nice 5,000 word (!) analysis explaining exactly why the Republicans’ Great White Hope won’t work. The short version: Minorities will continue to vote at high rates, the GOP can’t consistently get white votes at the rates they need, and younger voters won’t automatically start voting Republican as they get older.

Change is difficult. There are many on the Right who’d like to believe that the political strategies and policy positions that they’ve helped craft in the past remain correct. Immigration reform is unlikely until many on the Right get over their denial of reality and accept the world as it is and not as they’d like it to be.

Bonus thought: Have I mentioned that you really should read that National Journal article?

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The latest in sports coverage

Or, really, the next step in both both our splintered popular culture and the the great (sports) cable/satellite television bubble. As Sports Business reports:

TruTV will carry the semifinals of the NCAA Final Four in April. So will TNT. TBS, too.

In an unprecedented move, Turner Sports and CBS will produce three different telecasts for each of the two national semifinal games, each with its own set of announcers. The traditional national telecast will run on TBS, while TNT and truTV will carry the same games at the same time with announcers and camera angles customized to each specific team.

Is this a surprising development? Not really.

H/t: JAT

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NASCAR HOF voting to change

So reports the Associated Press, which says that “‘significant changes’ to the Hall of Fame selection process and eligibility rules” are coming for the May 2014 vote. What these new procedures will be won’t be announced until next month, though NASCAR did say today that the reigning Sprint Cup champion will have a vote on who gets into the hall. (That brings the number of voters to 56.)

Here at the Meck Deck we’ve long expected that NASCAR would have to make significant changes in the selection process. NASCAR racing is a rather concentrated sport, with a relatively small number of individuals having won a large percentage of races. At the rate at which the HOF has been electing top-series drivers, enshrinement would soon not be that much of an honor. Voters have also so far been uninterested in selecting people of the business side of NASCAR (series officials, race owners, promoters) for the hall.

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