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Pat Buchanan - WIll the West wake up?

After a British soldier wearing a Help for Heroes charity T-shirt was run over, stabbed and slashed with machetes and a meat cleaver, and beheaded, the Tory government advised its soldiers that it is probably best not to appear in uniform on the streets of their capital.
Both murderers were wounded by police. One was photographed and recorded. His message: "There are many, many (verses) throughout the Quran that says we must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. I apologize that women had to witness this today, but in our land women have to see the same. Your people will never be safe."
According to ITV, one murderer, hands dripping blood, ranted, "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you."
Both killers are Muslim converts of African descent, and both are British born.
Wednesday also, Stockholm and its suburbs ended a fourth night of riots, vandalism and arson by immigrant mobs protesting the police shooting of a machete-wielding 69-year-old. "We have institutional racism," says Rami Al-khamisi, founder of a group for "social change."
Sweden, racist? Among advanced nations, Sweden ranks fourth in the number of asylum seekers it has admitted and second relative to its population. Are the Swedes really the problem in Sweden?
The same day these stories ran, The Washington Post carried a front-page photo of Ibrahim Todashev, martial arts professional and friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who, with brother Dzhokhar, set off the bombs at the Boston Marathon massacre. Todashev, another Chechen, had been shot to death by FBI agents, reportedly after he confessed to his and Tamerlan's role in a triple murder in Waltham, Mass.
Though Tamerlan had been radicalized and Moscow had made inquiries about him, he had escaped the notice of U.S. authorities. Even after he returned to the Caucasus for six months, sought to contact extremists, then returned to the U.S.A., Tamerlan still was not on Homeland Security's radar.
His father, granted political asylum, went back to the same region he had fled in fear. His mother had been arrested for shoplifting. Yet none of this caused U.S. officials to pick up Tamerlan, a welfare freeloader, and throw the lot of them out of the country.
One wonders if the West is going to wake up to the new world we have entered, or adhere to immigration policies dating to a liberal era long since dead.
It was in 1965, halcyon hour of the Great Society, that Ted Kennedy led Congress into abolishing a policy that had restricted immigration for 40 years, while we absorbed and Americanized the millions who had come over between 1890 and 1920. The "national origins" feature of that 1924 law mandated that ships arriving at U.S. ports carry immigrants from countries that had provided our immigrants in the past. We liked who we were.
Immigration policy was written to reinforce the Western orientation and roots of America, 90 percent of whose population could by 1960 trace its ancestry to the Old Continent.
But since 1965, immigration policy has been run by people who detest that America and wanted a new nation that looked less like Europe and more like a continental replica of the U.N. General Assembly. They wanted to end America's history as the largest and greatest of Western nations and make her a nation of nations, a new society and a new people, more racially, ethnically, religiously and culturally diverse than any nation on the face of the earth.
Behind this vision lies an ideology, an idee fixe, that America is not a normal nation of blood and soil, history and heroes, but a nation erected upon an idea, the idea that anyone and everyone who comes here, raises his hand, and swears allegiance to the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights becomes, de facto, not just a legal citizen but an American.
But that is no more true than to say that someone who arrives in Paris from Africa or the Middle East and raises his hand to declare allegiance to the Rights of Man thereby becomes a Frenchman.
What is the peril into which America and the West are drifting?
Ties of race, religion, ethnicity and culture are the prevailing winds among mankind and are tearing apart countries and continents. And as we bring in people from all over the world, they are not leaving all of their old allegiances and animosities behind. Many carry them, if at times dormant, within their hearts.
And if we bring into America — afflicted by her polarized politics, hateful rhetoric and culture wars — peoples on all sides of every conflict roiling mankind, how do we think this experiment is going to end?
The immigration bill moving through the Senate, with an amnesty for 11 to 12 million illegals already here, and millions of their relatives back home, may write an end to more than just the Republican Party.
(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 May 2013 11:36

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Froma Harrop - World of rotten tax laws

Guy writes a film script full of four-letter words. But when the actors repeat them, he gets all huffy about the dirty language. An absurd reaction, wouldn't you say? But it's not so different from the scene in which our lawmakers scold corporate chieftains for exploiting tax loopholes their legislatures helped create.
There was no little "theater of the absurd" in calling Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook on the senatorial carpet to explain himself. Apple's clever tax lawyers had created a scheme whereby the company managed to declare itself almost stateless when it came to paying taxes. The strategy let it shuffle revenues to offshore tax havens and escape paying billions in taxes at home.
Here's how it worked in a nutshell: Irish law says taxes are paid where contracts are signed, even if the actual sales take place in other countries. So Apple booked worldwide business at Apple Operations International in Ireland.
Meanwhile, Ireland's corporate tax rate of 12 percent is lower than America's top rate of 35 percent. And Apple managed to extract an even lower 2 percent rate from the Irish government. Though AOI was controlled from the United States, Apple used it to dodge $9 billion in U.S. taxes last year.
As Cook told the senators: "We pay all the taxes we owe, every single dollar. We not only comply with the laws, but we comply with the spirit of the laws."
It's not alone. Google, Amazon and other famous American brand names have their own tax avoidance strategies.
Would the world's business media please stop using terms like "legal but ethically dubious" to describe such practices? Now, a company marketing its products as "designed by Apple in California" might blush a bit over its herculean efforts to avoid supporting the civilization that made its success possible.
Let's not pin a medal on Cook's chest. But law, not ethics, governs the payment of taxes. A company has no moral duty to pay taxes it can legally not pay. Same goes for individuals. I think the deduction for mortgage interest is unfair and ought to go. But do I take it? As long as it's legal, you bet.
Cook was right to call for ending the loopholes and lowering America's corporate tax rate. That would be good for the U.S. Treasury, good for most companies and good for the civic health of the country.
This ancient idea has gone nowhere for a simple and depressing reason: We are asking our Congress to fix a tax code off which its members raise tons of money in campaign contributions and secure future employment.
Other countries can join us in closing the international tax loophole bazaar. Britain, France and Germany are likewise angry at tax avoidance deals — not only that offered by Ireland, but bank secrecy services provided by Austria, among others. Europe loses an estimated $1 trillion a year from tax dodging.
Britain's conservative prime minister, David Cameron, has vowed to discuss such concerns at the Group of 8 meeting scheduled next month in Northern Ireland. Google is under fire in Britain for selling almost $5 billion in product in 2011 while paying only $9 million in corporate taxes — thanks in good part to its use of the Irish tax refuge.
Exotic tax avoidance schemes flourish in chaos. To make the world fairer for companies that don't game the tax laws and workers who can't, our lawmakers must cooperate with each other and with foreigners to clean up the debris.
Can we expect them to pass up lobbyist checks and do what's right for the country? Yes, if the voters start paying attention.
(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 May 2013 09:38

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Roy Sanborn - Going to the dogs

I got a call from an agent last week that was concerned that the last article I did called "Home Thefts Increase in the Lakes Region" might be misconstrued by the general public. The article was as a tongue in cheek recap of some really, really great deals that happened in April. She was very concerned, however, that people might think that there was some hanky-panky going on with some of the transactions that occurred either on the part of the agents or lenders and that someone wasn't doing their job. Trust me, that definitely isn't the case and it was not the point of the article.
If any of you have bought or sold a house in the past year, you understand that you'd have a better chance of stealing the Mona Lisa today than pulling off some kind of shady real estate transaction. Things are just that strict right now in the real estate world. All of the transactions were at arm's length and the agents involved are some of the very best and knowledgeable professionals in the business. These "deals" or "steals" are just a function of where we are in the market place today. My point was that now is the time to take advantage of these great prices and great financing opportunities. I apologize to anyone that might have thought otherwise.
We got a new Boxer puppy this week to keep my older Dobe company and it got me thinking. Mostly about, "what was I thinking?" But what if things take a turn for the worse and my wife throws me out with the dogs. Where would I go? She loves the dogs as much, if not more than I do, but after a sleepless night with a 12 week old puppy anything could happen. It's more likely that she would throw me out before the dogs, but I am considering the worst case scenario here. Anyway, as we always have had a dog and sometimes two or three. We have always put our critter's interests at the very top of the list when we were looking for property. If you love dogs, you know what I mean. You truly believe that a house is not a home unless you have a dog. And, more importantly, you understand that your dog is gracious enough to allow you live with him (or her) as long as you bring home the bacon, so to speak.
For us, a home has to have an adequate yard for the dogs to run and have relative seclusion or privacy. The biggest thing is that the yard has to be fenced and that's hard to find. While an invisible fence works fine for many people, I like to keep the other critters out of the yard. I'm not saying that you should rule out a property that is not fenced if everything else works, but fencing in a half acre or an acre of land can get a little expensive.
So, what's out there for property that you could consider "pet ready?" The open concept ranch at 35 Regan Way in Laconia does have a nice, but small, fenced in back yard. This place is probably more suitable for miniature and small breeds of dogs. Mastiffs should look elsewhere. I mentioned this property a few weeks ago as it is in "move in ready" condition for humans, too. This 1,560-square-foot, three bed, two bath home was built in 2007 and features hardwood and tile floors, cathedral ceilings, an eat-in kitchen, a deck, full basement, and a two car garage. This home is offered at $269,900. I showed the MLS sheet to my Dobe and she rates it Two Bones Out Of Five. Our new Boxer has not seen enough property yet to rate anything.
A truly pet ready property is located at 200 Parade Road in Meredith. It is so ready that you can run your own pet boarding and grooming business there. Currently operated as the Four Paws Pet Inn, this property consists of a 1,248-square-foot, open concept three bedroom, two bath home on four acres. It has a converted 800-square-foot horse barn serving to keep fido comfy and three fenced in play yards. This contemporary style saltbox has a large great room with vaulted ceilings and stone fireplace, hardwood floors, a nice kitchen with granite countertops, a screened porch, and a sun deck. This sounds like a great opportunity for someone to take over a going concern and make a living off us crazy dog lovers that think nothing is too much for our furry friends. This property is priced at $315,000 and is rated Four Bones.
My Dobe really liked the property at 241 Intervale Road in Canterbury as it is on a five acre lot with about an acre fenced in. She also liked the fact that it is an energy efficient, Crockett panel, log home with post and beam construction. I had to explain that it was not the Davy Crockett she saw on NetFlix the other day. But the house looks fantastic with 2,684-square-feet of living space, three beds, three baths, great room with cathedral ceilings and stone fireplace, kitchen with granite counter tops, three season porch, and separate guest quarters. There's also a kennel, but she thinks the guest quarters are more appropriate. We'd rate this property at Four Bones. It is on the market for $339,000 so take your pup for a ride and go take a look.
Lastly, there's a Five Bone home located at 261 Clough Hill Road in Loudon. This property has 164 acres with 20 acres of pasture for the pups to roam on, a nine stall dog run, in-floor heat so they stay toasty warm, and a gas fireplace to curl up to. The high quality house was built in 2004 and has 4,328-square-feet of living space, five bedrooms with a first floor master suite, four and a half baths, a custom kitchen with granite counter tops and stainless appliances, library, a sunroom, and even a 48' x 48' four stall horse barn for what my Dobe thinks are very, very tall dogs. As this property is on the market for $995,000 it is obviously not in every dog's price range. Do you know how many bags of dog food you can buy for that much money?
Please feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data was compiled using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System. Roy Sanborn is a REALTOR® at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at 603-455-0335.

Last Updated on Friday, 24 May 2013 10:46

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'Skinny' health insurance isn't really insurance at all

Would you like to have a "skinny" health insurance policy? Probably not. But if you're employed by a large company, you may get one, thanks to Obamacare.
That's the conclusion of Wall Street Journal reporters Christopher Weaver and Anna Wilde Mathews. They report that insurance brokers are pitching and selling "low-benefit" policies across the country.
You might be wondering what a "skinny" or "low-benefit" insurance plan is. The terms may vary, but the basic idea is that policies would cover preventive care, a limited number of doctor visits and perhaps generic drugs.
They wouldn't cover things such as surgery, hospital stays or prenatal care. That sounds similar to an auto insurance policy that reimburses you when you change the oil but not when your car gets totaled.
You might ask how Obamacare could encourage the proliferation of such policies. It was sold as a way to provide more coverage for more people, after all. And people were told they could keep the health insurance they had.
As Weaver and Mathews explain, Obamacare's requirement that insurance policies include "essential" benefits such as mental health services apply only to small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.
But larger employers, they write, "need only cover preventive service, without a lifetime or annual dollar-value limit, in order to avoid the across-the-workforce penalty." Low-benefit plans may cost an employer only $40 to $100 a month per employee. That's less than the $2,000-per-employee penalty for providing no insurance.
"We wouldn't have anticipated that there'd be demand for these type of Band-Aid plans in 2014," the Journal quotes former White House health adviser Robert Kocher. "Our expectation was that employers would offer high-quality insurance."
Oops. It turns out that Friedrich Hayek may have been right when he wrote that central planners would never have enough information to micromanage the economy.
It's probably true that businesses trying to attract and retain high-skill employees for long-term positions have an economic incentive to offer generous and attractive health insurance. Otherwise they'd lose good people to competitors.But the kind of businesses mentioned in the Journal story — restaurants, retailers, assisted-living chains — tend to employ lower-skill workers who typically work there only temporarily.
In a high-unemployment economy they may not need to offer gold-plated health insurance to get the workforce they need.
Such employers would have to pay a $3,000 penalty for each employee who buys insurance on Obamacare's health insurance exchanges. But it seems likely that many workers, especially young ones, would opt not to pay the hefty premiums for that.
The problem here is that Obamacare's architects seem to misunderstand the concept of insurance.
People buy insurance to pay for low-probability, high-cost and undesirable events. It doesn't make sense to hold onto enough cash to replace your house if it burns when you can buy an insurance policy that will cover that unlikely disaster.
But Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has a different idea of what insurance is.
In response to an American Society of Actuaries report that health insurance premiums would rise 32 percent under Obamacare, she said, "Some of these folks have very high catastrophic plans that don't pay for anything unless you get hit by a bus." Her idea apparently is that insurance should pay for just about every health care procedure.
In her defense, the World War II decision to make the cost of health insurance deductible for employers and nontaxable for employees has moved things in that direction. Many people have come to expect that. But as the Daily Beast's Megan McArdle commented, "Coverage of routine, predictable services is not insurance at all; it's a spectacularly inefficient prepayment plan."
Some Obamacare architects, including its namesake, want to move toward a single-payer system in which government would pay all health care costs.
Many Obamacare opponents want a bigger role for markets, allowing consumers to choose insurance that covers catastrophes and paying for routine costs with tax-free (and in some cases subsidized) dollars.
But if large numbers of employees are enrolled in "skinny" health insurance plans, as the Wall Street Journal article suggests, Obamacare will have produced an unanticipated outcome no one wants. People stuck with these policies will have insurance that pays for the equivalent of oil changes (up to six a year!) but not for the equivalent of wrecked car. Just the opposite of real insurance.
(Syndicated columnist Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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Henry Limpman - An open letter to our Belknap County House Delegation

As a community, we Granite Staters can do better when it comes to balancing our state budget and improving the communities we live in. Typically, efforts tend to get stifled by ideological positions in our Legislature that discount the reality of New Hampshire's condition and how public policy affects it. The needs of our communities that can be addressed by additional state revenue must be balanced with the concerns raised by a casino. It is understandable why the House has concerns with the Senate version of the casino bill, but rather than nix it, the House should fix it. I am calling for the Belknap County Delegation to move beyond their current positions and face the reality of where we are as a state; it is time to govern!
It is no secret that for some people, casinos carry a stigma. Furthermore, it is understandable that some could feel that gambling will tarnish the image of New Hampshire tourism. However, we have many problems afflicting our communities that truly tarnish our state's image. Homelessness is on the rise in many communities, signifying our failure to care for those in need, especially the mentally ill. This shortcoming is of further concern when it involves children, which has increasingly become the case. We simply do not have the resources to adequately care for these people who need and deserve our help, and revenues from a casino could contribute to improving our capacity to do so. It would also help the county government avoid the costs of a broken mental health system which end up being down-shifted into our local property taxes.
Another objection to casinos is derived from their capability of possibly inflicting social damage via gambling addiction. This is worth considering, but it is also worth considering where else the state already generates its revenue. Tobacco and alcohol, as well as the lottery, have high potentials to be abused. Yet, we rely on those vice-based commodities to generate a large amount of the state's revenue. I would argue that profiting off of a casino is in a similar vein.
An additional concern is that the Senate version of the casino bill predisposes a specific casino license. Although a single license poses a legitimate concern for the Belknap County Delegation, there is much more at stake, such as the mental health crisis and the capacity to absorb more state budget down-shift. Revenue from a casino could help address these issues as well as the state's reliance on the Medicaid Enhancement Tax which contributes to health insurance inflation and the undermining of health care access.
Lastly, there is the perspective that businesses that rely on tourism and entertainment as part of their business model will be hurt. This is a rather pessimistic stance that implies a certain level of scarcity in the consumer market. Another view is that a high-end destination casino will bring more people to our state, much like the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
In the end, the question really becomes whether it is a bigger "gamble" to govern and get something done to help people in need and deal with the budget down-shifts, or do nothing once again to solve our problems, allowing them to fester.
(Henry Lipman represents Ward 3 on the Laconia City Council. He is senior vice president for Financial Strategies and External Relations at LRGHealthcare of Laconia.)

Last Updated on Friday, 17 May 2013 11:55

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