Don’t let roads become racetracks

4 During the early stage of the COVID crisis in 2020, my daily commute got super easy. Then it got scary hard.

While my staff and I worked from home for a few weeks, we soon concluded that some of our tasks could only be performed effectively in the office. So we resumed normal operations, albeit with some precautions.

At first, my springtime commutes from southern Wake County to my Raleigh office were delightful. The highways I traversed were lightly

Then the speed demons took over. Whether they had always been would-be racecar drivers, or were just tempted into it by wide-open roads, I can’t say. But as early as seven in the morning, I regularly encountered motorists traveling 15 miles-per-hour or more above the speed limit on Raleigh’s Beltline and elsewhere, often dodging and weaving around slower-moving cars like mine as if they were playing some video game.

In many cases I witnessed two or more drivers clearly racing each other, oblivious to or unconcerned about the lives and property put at risk by their recklessness.
Today, almost three years later, I still witness the same behavior once or twice a week — only now the traffic is heavier and the hazards far greater.

Are bad driving habits fostered during pandemic lockdowns the sole reason North Carolina’s roads are becoming less safe? No.

After falling fairly consistently since the late 1960s, highway deaths per capita started rising about a decade ago. From 2011 to 2021, they went up 33%. More than half of that increase, however, happened over just two years: 2020 and 2021.

Although the number of people killed in car crashes in North Carolina in 2021 was the highest since 1973, we are a more populous state with more drivers on the road.

Despite the recent increase, our death rates remain far below the carnage of the 1960s and early 1970s. Our vehicles are better designed and maintained. Most of us wear seatbelts. Laws against drunk driving are clearer and more consistently enforced.

Moreover, while North Carolina’s recent uptick is worrisome — and our rate of 1.45 deaths per 100 million miles traveled is higher than the national average (1.34) — some of our nearby states are worse off, including Tennessee (1.59), Florida (1.60), West Virginia (1.66), Kentucky (1.68) and especially South Carolina (1.97).

In other words, there’s nothing unique about the recent increase in reckless driving on North Carolina’s roads and streets. It’s a broader phenomenon.

Nevertheless, we clearly have a serious problem. In most columns about such a problem, the author would conclude with a list of recommended policy changes to “fix” it. I’m not going to do that.

For one thing, it’s not clear to me that our current laws against speeding and reckless driving are inadequate, though I’m open to the possibility that we may need to hire and deploy more police officers and state troopers to enforce them. As New York police administrator John Hall observed in a 2021 Manhattan Institute paper, there is “considerable evidence that police traffic enforcement reduces crash injuries and fatalities.” (Hall also argued that increased use of automated enforcement such as traffic cameras won’t do as much to help, because there isn’t as much of a signal to passing motorists to slow down and because officers are more likely to detect and deter misbehavior such as late-night racing.)

Nor do I think North Carolina’s current messaging on highway safety necessarily needs an upgrade. The Governor’s Highway Safety Program, housed within DOT and ably directed by Mark Ezzell, already operates a range of awareness campaigns such as Booze It & Lose It and Speed a Little, Lose a Lot.

Rather than pinning our hopes primarily on legislation, I think all of us should accept a share of responsibility for combating the problem.
Let’s teach our young people to take driving seriously, control their tempers, and stow their devices. Let’s set a good example. Let’s show we know our roads aren’t racetracks.

Editor’s note: John Hood is a John Locke Foundation board member. His latest books, Mountain Folk and Forest Folk, combine epic fantasy with early American history (

Life is just a bowl of country music

Pitt sad cowboy IMG 4904Are you troubled? Confused? Drinking too much? Your Magic Eight Ball lost its Mojo? No worries. You have come to the right page. Today we explore the wonderful world of country music wherein one can find the answers to life’s mysteries.

I have been listening to country music so you don’t have to. Our country station has a rotation of about 15 songs that repeat endlessly. Within those songs, lies the wisdom of the ages.

The songs focus on economics, lost and found love, pickup trucks, and drinking. Ponder the immortal lyrics of Merle Haggard who sang: “It’s a big job just getting by with nine kids and a wife/ But I’ve been a working man dang near all my life.” Merle is not complaining. He gets up and goes to work. He is not concerned about his feelings. He just wants to feed his family.

A current song examines money troubles with the lines: “If the Devil danced in empty pockets/ He’d have a ball in mine.” Another song combines the Protestant work ethic with parental love, pointing out that “Hard work won’t kill you but her Daddy will.” A chronologically gifted worker sings: “I ain’t old/ I’ve just been used rough.”

Country music offers sound advice regarding love. Lost love is a most favored topic: “In the corner of my mind stands a juke box/ It’s playing all my favorite memories.” Another ditty goes: “It’s a little too late/ She’s a little too gone/ She’s a little too right/ I’m a little too wrong.”

Another poor fellow: “Lost my wife and my girlfriend somewhere along the way/ Amarillo by morning.” A footloose lovelorn dude sings: “There’s just one place I haven’t gone/ I’ve moved everywhere but on.”

Country singers are resilient, a fellow who lost his wife sings: “I ain’t got to see my ex-future Mother-in-Law anymore.” A gent who is fed up with the ladies and romantic issues sings: “The only BS I need is Beer and Sunshine.” Hit the beach!

It’s not just men who lose love. Ladies feel heartache too. One lady person sings: “I got a heart like a truck/ It’s been dragged through the muck/ Runs on dreams and gasoline.” The lady has been knocked down but she pops back up. Another gal reminds her errant boyfriend that: “I’m every thing she is and every thing she ain’t.”

Truck references abound. One guy sings: “Got your picture up in my new pickup truck.”
Another fellow has to sell his pickup because it housed too many memories of his lost baby doll. He sings: “I need a new truck/ I need one she ain’t climbed up in/ That ain’t played her favorite song/ Need some glass we ain’t fogged up/ That her bare feet ain’t been on.”

A vigilante truck song is “Wait in the Truck.” A driver picks up a battered woman hitch hiking in the rain. He finds out where the old boyfriend lives and drives there to shoot him. He tells her to “Wait in the truck/ Well, I knocked and knocked and no one came/ So I kicked in his double wide door/ I let the hammer drop before he got/ To that 12 gauge he was reaching for.” She comes to visit him in prison from time to time so it’s a happy ending for everyone except the dead guy.

New found love brings happier days: “Last night you took my breath away/ And I ain’t found it yet.” Another song deals with lust delicately: “Your body makes me weak/ You are a Mozart between the sheets.” A gentleman swaddled in the coils of new love sings: ‘I thought of love as a prison/ A place I did not want to be/ I’m guilty of love in the first degree.” Touching.

A guy with a new gal sings: “Every time you kiss me/ It’s like sunshine and whiskey.”

Another guy uses a great pickup line: “I can take the blue out of your brown eyes.” A one-night stand is saluted: “By the dark of the moon/ There’s a fire in the night.” Occasionally love reaches the point he wants to get married so he sings: “You name the babies/ I’ll name the dogs.” Touching romanticism.

Alcohol is big in country music. One fellow sings about his gal when she gets a snootful: “Tequila makes her clothes fall off.” Another guy who is a dumpee sings: “Here I go again/ I’m drinking one/ I’m drinking two/ I got my heartache medication/ Tear drops turn into bubbles.”

A wife whose husband has a drinking problem sings: “Whiskey, if you were a woman/ I’d drive you from his tangled mind for good.” Unfortunately, whiskey wins out.

It is generally acknowledged that the perfect country song was written by Steve Goodman and sung by the Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy, David Allen Coe with the immortal lyrics: “I was drunk the day my Mama got out of prison/ And I went to pick her up in the rain/ But before I could get to the station in my pickup truck/ She got ran over by a damned old train.”

Sadder words have never been warbled. Mr. Goodman, I salute you.

Country music lyrics share the wisdom of the ages: love, loss, trucks, dogs, and evidently, inebriation. (Hand-drawn illustration by Pitt Dickey)

Advisors can assist with the process of selling a business

selling your businessAs a business owner, you have likely spent hours, days, months or even longer agonizing over whether to sell your business.

While in a perfect world the hard part would be over, the reality is that making the decision to sell is simply the first step in a complicated process.
Fortunately, there are ways to simplify the experience. To start, it’s a good idea to have a checklist of what steps to expect.

While each business may be different, when it comes to selling a business, the basic preparation will be the same.

It can also be helpful to have a seasoned business broker or advisor to aid and support you in the sale. Business advisors have the experience and know-how to navigate the sale of your business, making the experience easier on you and maximizing your return.

Step 1 — Determine your reason for selling

People decide to sell their businesses for a variety of reasons. Some may do so because they are ready to retire and leave the working world. A serious illness or death may require someone to step away from their business. Others may need a way to extricate themselves from a partnership dispute. Some simply become bored and decide to seek out new opportunities and challenges in their work life.

Whether you are considering selling for these reasons or others, the decision to sell a business is personal but should be acknowledged.

Step 2 — Confer with experienced professionals

Perhaps the single most important step of all, in terms of making the sale of your business easier, is selecting an experienced business advisor to guide you through the sale process.

A business broker or advisor can help you get everything in order while screening qualified buyers and ensuring you get the highest possible price for your company, all while keeping the sale as quiet as possible to avoid upsetting your employees, vendors, and clients.
Best of all, an advisor frees up your time so you can continue to keep your business up and running.

Step 3 — Organize your finances and properly package your business for sale

Part of the assistance provided by an experienced advisor is connecting you to other professionals who can help you organize your business’ financials for the upcoming sale.

It’s important for you to understand the financial position of your business, which requires knowledge of financial statements, projections, and key metrics for your industry, such as:

  • What’s the company’s relative growth in gross sales and net income?
  • What adjustments need to be made to normalize earnings?
  • Do you own or lease the property where your business is located?
  • What is the customer base and do you have any concentration issues?
  • What about the value of the tangible and intangible property?
  • What equipment and inventory will be included in the sale?
  • Are there any outstanding liabilities or legal issues?
  • Who are your key suppliers and vendors?

Answers to these questions are needed, as well as ensuring your books are in order. Do you have your latest tax documents? You may want to consider an independent audit of your financials just to be certain.

Step 4 — Understand the value of your business

To sell your business, you need to understand how much it is worth. Remember valuation is an art, not a science.
Multiple factors will come into play as you determine what your company is worth such as the business’s financial health, industry trends, the current market demand, and the location of your company.

Step 5 – Confidently market your business

The final step in selling your business is to get the word out albeit confidentially. But successfully marketing a company for sale has many nuances.
Business advisors are experts at creating competition for your business thanks to our ability to advertise your business to our worldwide network.
They have access to thousands of buyers, and we spend more money on advertising than anyone in our industry.
Selling a business can be an exciting but long and stressful time. Seek out a business advisor who can help you navigate the challenge.

Editor’s note: Ashley Kelsey is a Business Broker at Transworld Business Advisors of Eastern North Carolina. For more information call 910-302-6447 or visit

Photo: Deciding to sell a business is only the first step in a complicated process. Seek out a business advisor who can help navigate the process and maximize your return.

There’s no place like home

RepHudsonRibbonCutting It’s been a busy start to the year under a new Republican majority in the U.S. House. Yet last week, it sure was good to be home.

It’s so important to travel across this district and hear from you about issues facing our community and nation. One thing is for sure — Washington needs more common sense and less government bureaucracy. Each week, I try to bring some of that North Carolina wisdom back to our nation’s capital.

In order to best address the challenges you and our communities are facing, I stayed busy over the work period and held roundtable discussions with elected officials and folks across our district.

In Asheboro, I met with the Mayor, County Manager, members of the Randolph County Board of Commissioners, and the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce. We discussed economic development in the area, needs of our towns and county, and projects I can fight for in Washington.

These discussions included water and sewer issues impacting portions of Randolph and Chatham County, and the necessary funding needed to further expand the Asheboro Regional Airport. We also discussed the recent substation attacks in Moore and Randolph Counties and the need to increase security and resiliency measures for our energy infrastructure. My family lost power like so many others in Moore County and I want to stop similar attacks from happening again.

In our discussion, I listened to our local leaders and shared my ideas.

In addition, I visited with our local 9-1-1 telecommunicators at Randolph County Emergency Services Center to learn first-hand about the critical role they play as lifelines between you and first responders when an emergency strikes. As the co-chair of the Congressional NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus, I am actively working on bipartisan legislation to update our nation’s 9-1-1 infrastructure.

I was honored to recently receive the Leadership in Legislative Service Award from the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International for leading these efforts. It is a privilege to be the voice in Congress supporting our dedicated telecommunicators, medical professionals and law enforcement. I will continue working to provide them the resources and tools they need to keep you and your family safe.

In Sanford, I met with members of the Sanford Area Growth Alliance to discuss the recent economic growth in Sanford and Lee County and future economic opportunities for the region. In order to sustain and increase economic growth in our community — we must ensure a strong labor force with the tools and training they need to get a good job. Good news: We’re ahead of the game.

The Growth Alliance shared with me the great work Central Carolina Community College has done to partner with Caterpillar to establish the Caterpillar Clayton Apprenticeship Program designed to continue developing a talented pipeline of skilled employees.

This highly competitive program provides high school students the opportunity to take classes while also working as a part-time Caterpillar employee, developing skills for a career immediately after graduation.

We also discussed major infrastructure projects that would increase accessibility across Lee County, including the potential expansion of current Highway 421 to Interstate-685 that would run from Greensboro all the way to Wilmington.

Finally in Moore County, I’m excited to share that we opened our new flagship district office in Southern Pines.
I am happy to now call Southern Pines home for both this new office and my family. Thank you to all the local elected officials, community leaders, members of local law enforcement and residents from across Moore County who helped us celebrate our grand opening. Renee, Lane, and I are thankful for the warm welcome from the community and are excited to be here for a very long time.

The dedicated staff in our new district office in Southern Pines is here to serve you. Whether it’s requesting a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol, providing assistance with federal agencies such as the Social Security Administration or the VA, making service academy nominations, or even helping with federal grants. I am committed to helping you cut through government bureaucracy.

My goal is to continue to provide you with high quality constituent service and be accessible to hear your needs, thoughts and concerns on key issues facing our community and nation.

As Fort Bragg’s Congressman, helping our active duty military, their families and veterans deal with the Department of Defense and the VA is especially important, as many military families call Moore County and our district home.

In addition to the new office in Southern Pines, my office in Fayetteville will remain open and available to serve folks across the region. To find out our exact office locations and office hours, please visit or call us at 910-910-1924.

Responsive constituent services, accessibility and a focus on policies that give you and your family a better tomorrow is my mission. Stop by our new office to say hello, we would love to see you. Now as I head back to Washington this week, rest assured I’ll be bringing your wisdom, and some Cheerwine back with me.

Congressman Richard Hudson cuts the ribbon on his new district office in Southern Pines. Rep. Hudson's office in Fayetteville will remain open.
(Photo courtesy Rep. Richard Hudson)

How diversity benefits businesses

18b In recent years, many businesses have made a concerted effort to create more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces.

Those efforts have thus far met with mixed results. An analysis of more than 1,000 large firms in 15 countries conducted by McKinsey & Company found that one-third significantly improved their diversity between 2015 and 2020.

Though that's good news, it also means two-thirds did not improve significantly, which underscores how much more work must be done to create more diverse workplaces across the globe.
Efforts to build more diverse workplaces may prove more successful if companies revisit the many reasons why the pursuit of such a goal is worthwhile.

Diverse workplaces impress employees and prospective employees. A 2021 CNBC/SurveyMonkey survey found that 80% of workers want to work for companies that value diversity, equity and inclusion. Companies that gain a reputation for such values may be more successful at retaining their existing employees, thus driving down costs associated with hiring and training new employees, and be in better position to attract qualified candidates who prioritize positive culture when looking for new opportunities.

Diversity benefits the bottom line. The positive impact of diversity on the bottom line provides more motivation for businesses to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive. In a report released in May 2020, McKinsey & Company found that firms in the top quarter of gender diversity on executive teams were more likely to experience above-average profitability than peer firms in the bottom quarter. Firms in the top quarter of ethnic and cultural diversity also outperformed fourth quarter firms by 36% in regard to profitability. Such data supports the notion that investing in a more diverse workplace is a sound investment that's likely to produce a strong and quantifiable return.

Multicultural diversity can facilitate expansion. Firms looking to expand into new overseas markets can benefit from a culturally diverse staff. Such staffs can provide invaluable insight and experience regarding local laws and regulations. Familiarity with overseas cultures, including local languages and cultural practices, also can help companies attract qualified local candidates and become competitive more quickly.

A diverse staff can lead to a more diverse offering of products. It makes sense that a more diverse staff can contribute to a more diverse offering of products. A more diverse staff increases the likelihood that a company will have a wider range of skills at its disposal, and such a staff also provides companies with a more expansive range of perspectives reflective of a wider customer base. Companies can utilize such diversity when developing new products and adapting to ever-shifting markets.

A more diverse workplace is a goal for many companies. Accomplishing such a goal can help companies in numerous ways, each of which can ultimately benefit the bottom line.

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