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Opinion

A well-known psychological test that can be viewed on the internet involves a video that has people dressed in black and others dressed in white passing a basketball around. The stated objective of the test is to count the number of passes made by those in white. The real purpose of the experiment is to see if you notice the person in the gorilla suit who mingles with the group. For about half the people who take the “Invisible Gorilla Test,” the gorilla is in fact, “invisible.” Psychologists label this phenomenon as “inattentional blindness,” resulting from focusing on something too hard.

The concept of inattentional blindness reminds me of those who argue for protection of second amendment rights while ignoring the erosion of others. For some, the only metric that matters is the possession of firearms. Somehow, as long as you are armed, you are free, because if government totally trashes the concepts of Jefferson and Washington, you have Smith & Wesson to back you up. Of course, the firepower and resources of the government are a bit more extensive than that of its citizenry.

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Long-term farm bill would boost N.C.’s largest industry

Every year, Larry Bailey mows hay and grows 100 acres of soybeans on his farm in Rutherford County. Nearly 300 miles across our state, in Duplin County, third-generation farmer Larry Shaw tends to hundreds of acres of corn. And in Halifax County, near the Virginia border in northeastern North Carolina, Jerry Hamill grows peanuts that Americans enjoy in ballparks every summer.

Each of these farmers contributes to a bedrock institution of our North Carolina culture and economy. I believe it is imperative that we support this key North Carolina industry so that it can thrive for generations to come.

 

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There is an old saying, “A real leader faces the music, even when he doesn’t like the tune.” After years of mismanagement, our state’s economy has been weighed down by $2.5 billion owed to Washington for our unemployment insurance debt. We were forced to borrow this money from the federal government during the Great Recession. We incurred this debt because the General Assembly’s prior management team gave the most generous unemployment benefits in the southeast and never bothered to save adequate rainy day funds for a potential economic downturn that was bound to occur.

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I asked my son Nick if what he learned from MBA school was necessary for doing his job well. Somewhat surprisingly, he said, no. The knowledge gained during the two additional years of college wasn't essential to job performance. In essence, he paid for a very expensive screening mechanism – something the school and the bank were better off for.

Unfortunately, many graduates don't end up with a high-paying position to offset their high student loans. Nationally, student loan debt is estimated at a trillion dollars, or nearly $30,000 a person on average. No doubt, there are those who would be thrilled if they only owed the “average” amount. The mind may be a “terrible thing to waste,” but somewhere along the way it has become a very expensive thing to educate.

Many economists predict that student debt will be the next financial bubble. However, unlike a house or a car, a college degree can't be repoed. Most student loans are not forgiven by filing bankruptcy. You may forget what you learned in school, but the loan officer isn't going to forget what you paid for it. The economic impact transcends into other areas. Debt-strapped individuals find it harder to buy a home or start a business, further hampering the general economy as well as their general wellbeing.

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