To The Daily Sun,
The Northern pass has been an issue with private land owners, environmental groups, National Forest, etc. I want to talk about the sad state that New Hampshire roads and bridges are in. Seems there is a state rep who wants to put a higher tax on gasoline to repair our roads. Aren't we taxed enough? Don't we pay enough for a gallon of gasoline? Again, our state reps and senators want to lay the burden of poor management on the taxpayers.
There is anywhere from 60 to 100 million dollars in revenue waiting for the DOT, it is the Northern Pass going underground along the state rights-of-way and abandoned railroad beds. When will the Statehouse wake up? The DOT already said that it's possible to go under state owned rights-of-way. The studies were done. Have you forgotten the 361 Commission? The surrounding states — NY, CT, VT, ME — all have the legislation for high voltage lines to go underground. Why is New Hampshire dragging their heels on this issue? Don't miss this opportunity the do what is right for New Hampshire and the people that put you in office.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 December 2013 11:27
To The Daily Sun,
In December 2007, I sat in front of my computer to compose my first holiday letter for Neighbors in Need. I had replaced Bob Decamp that year as president. Of course, no one could actually "replace" Bob, NIN's "founder," as he had spend 20 years of his life working to help families in need in the Lakes Region community. In looking back six years later, I realize that few knew what was to be forthcoming in terms of the worst economic disaster since the 1930s for our country and our local community.
I reflected on how these "hard times" had changed what we've done over the ensuing years. In looking at the "numbers," the first thing to meet the eye is the dramatic increase in the amount of assistance needed and rendered. Given the economic climate, this would seem obvious. Families and individuals who had never needed help before were now faced with much financial distress.
The number of local organizations rendering assistance to the community, especially churches, has also increased as more and more people seek help from the institutions that are closest to them. This has helped the Lakes Region immeasurably, as the need has grown so much. Neighbors in Need benefited from this increase in assistance providers, since we only work through and depend on other non-profits in providing help.
The type of assistance has also changed . Six years ago Neighbors in Need was hardly involved with child care or transportation costs. Now, with most adults in a household forced to work just to make ends meet, quality child care is now essential. Additional, as purchase of new autos becomes too expensive, folks retain their older automobiles, and car repairs become more burdensome.
The year-end holidays have themselves created additional needs to be addressed. More and more families depend on the Thanksgiving and Christmas food, toys, and clothing programs. Neighbors in Need has kept pace by providing financial help to keep these programs viable.
Finally, one of the most distressing change over the last six years has been the fall-off in contributions from our supporters. 2013 donations are half as much as 2007. This is not because the Lakes Region is less generous. However, as our long-time contributors "go to their heavenly rewards", there have been fewer new supporters as their incomes are themselves impacted by a slow economy.
So, this year, I'm appealing for more help from as many of you as possible. If you've been a supporter for these many years — our heartfelt thanks and a request to "dig a little deeper" if your financial situation permits. Also, please think about recommending us to your friends and family.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Holidays to all in the Lakes Region.
Bill Johnson, President
Neighbors in Need
Last Updated on Monday, 09 December 2013 09:59
To The Daily Sun,
I listened to a person telling us that while visiting Greece he experienced a supermarket waiting line of over an hour! What the heck? There were 12 checkout lines with only one open on a Saturday afternoon! What gives? The answer; the government raised the minimum wage to the point where it is prohibitive to hire. Hmmm, high minimum wage causes layoffs and diminished service? Who's surprised? Cause and effect right? Worse, the job loss impact is to the least prepared; people new to the workforce and those who are not ready for higher skilled work.
Makes sense to me, and I'm not a politician. But why then are the Democrats moving to raise the minimum wage if the result will be less opportunity and fewer entry level openings? Might it be that they're already past this effect and looking forward to more unemployed? More people forced onto the government dole? Increasing the minimum wage will force more people into the dependent class — a voting block the Democrat Party can depend upon. What a demoralizing, debilitating, demeaning strategy. Real leaders encourage and build independence, not dependence. Wealth transfer hurts everyone. This is not the American way! Vote conservative.
Last Updated on Monday, 09 December 2013 09:54
To The Daily Sun,
Whatever you want to call it, situation ethics, moral relativity or practicality, it seems to have generated some responses from — you guessed it — the "fringe". I am referring to my letter concerning "the end justifies the means", a title that I did not choose since this newspaper takes it upon itself to change the original titles not only with me but with everyone else who contributes. Of course they will choose a title that is the most inflammatory and provocative to get more readers and to generate responses.
Whatever, it's their paper and they can do what they wish. The title I submitted was: "Motive counts for something" which I wanted to be the central theme of the letter but since a few gullible contributors took the bait they failed again to see the overall focus. As I have said earlier, it is not my intention to debate, refute or mention anyone's name (again, it's still a sucker's game). The opinion pages are not the proper venue to discuss ethics. I would suggest that those who spend their time attacking academia could benefit from an ethics class. I'm sure Lakes Region Community college is accessible to all.
Since a few like to give results of polls here is the latest CNN poll concerning Obamacare. I'll summarize for you. The majority of Americans believe: 1. Obamacare's problems will be solved. 2. It's too early to tell if Obamacare is a success or failure. 3. The majority of Americans do not support Conservative critiques of Obamacare. Republicans have bet everything on "failure" and if they lose that bet it will be an absolute disaster for them in the next election — and deservedly so.
As for moral relativity let's examine briefly if the question is as simple as my detractors imply. If you think the ratification of the 18th Amendment did not justify the ends then your beef is with the Temperance League, John D. Rockefeller and Henry Ford, not with me. Case #2: The U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to force Japan to surrender rather than invading. If you don't believe that the means justify the end in this case then your beef is with the U.S. government — not with me. Case #3: Politicians using all kinds of nefarious means to get elected. If you don't believe that the means justify the end in this case then your beef is with them — not me.
And of course the classic Robin Hood who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. If you don't think the means justify the end then your beef is with Hollywood — not with me. I defy anyone that has seen that film to tell me they were rooting for the king! Of course conservatives can be magnanimous when it comes to the "make believe" world but in reality they would prefer that the rich steal from the poor as is the case today in this country. And lastly we have the "good book". If you think that all the horrors and atrocities perpetrated in those pages justify the end then your beef is with your priest, minister or rabbi — not with me.
If one persists in seeing the world in black and white, then I will reiterate my suggestion to take that ethics class. One of the requirements to gain full benefit is to have an open mind, which might eliminate a few. Personally, I would recommend PSU. Don't count on seeing me there since I've been retired for 13 years. By the way, healthcare.gov is working now. You might want to contact Senator Forrester and ask her why she voted against Medicaid expansion while Texas, with all its money, is choosing to negotiate Medicaid expansion.
So in the final analysis — to answer the question about the ends justifying the means — it appears that it all depends on the situation and who you're talking to. I'm sure the citizens of Nagasaki would have a different answer than the more dense contributors to this paper. Lastly, some fatherly advice to a few of the people who contribute to these pages. Try to control your rage. It's becoming a hobby like needlepoint with you guys. Not good for the heart.
Last Updated on Monday, 09 December 2013 09:47
To The Daily Sun,
I have been online chatting with my Norwegian relatives (in Norwegian) about their government and its highly successful health care system. Before I enumerate the numerous differences in the two systems, we need to compare the two countries and their comparative abilities to support such an endeavor. A good comprehensive measure would be the Legatum Prosperity Index (check it out online), which measures such things as national wealth and economy, entrepreneurship and opportunity, governance, health, safety and security, personal freedom and social capital. Each category has a number of criteria to meet and all point to a measure of quality of life and well being within a country. Norway is ranked #1 in the world, the U.S. #11. Norway has held steady at #1 for the last five years.
Now for a comparison of fiscal management. Checking the U.S. debt clock website (it contains an amazing display of running data), the U.S. has a national debt of $17.1 trillion. That comes to over $54,000 for every man, woman and child among our population of 317 million people. Norway has a SURPLUS of over 800 billion U.S. dollars, which is about $160,000 for each of their five million people. With a gross domestic product of about $15.7 trillion, our national DEBT is 1.1 times GDP. Norway's GDP is about $500 billion so their SURPLUS is about 1.6 times GDP. To get a grip on the enormity of this, consider that if our nation had a national surplus of 1.6 times GDP, that SURPLUS would be 25.1 trillion dollars. Norway has displayed a long history of fiscal responsibility and has maintained an average yearly surplus of about 13.5 percent over expenditures for the last dozen years. The surplus was not built overnight. Norway wisely did not join the European Union or else this little country would have been bled dry propping up the several fiscally irresponsible and much larger EU nations. Norway can afford full uniform (meaning it is the same for each and every person) healthcare to ALL of their people. Their government has managed their wealth in an entirely different way than our government has managed ours.
Now for the comparison of health care plans. Norway has a single pay system with the government reimbursing the health providers DIRECTLY. The U.S. system must utilize the trillion dollar plus insurance industry as an intermediary that stands between the government bureaucracy and the health care providers. This intermediary is a big fat cat that must be fed. All these insurance companies add another massive bureaucracy and expense that the Norwegian system does not have. All the many different insurance companies involved must pay for their operations, their management, their employees and show a profit for themselves and their stockholders. If they are not profitable, our system provides for a subsidy at taxpayer expense. The whole scenario is a bonanza for the insurance industry. Participation is mandated (except for those politically granted exemptions) and federal subsidy is provided for those who can't pay.
The Norwegian system is uniform and nation-wide in its application and the U.S. system is a patchwork of an uncountable number of different and complicated non-uniform insurance policies, with fines for non-compliance. The Norwegian system covers everyone, the U.S. system does not.
Here are few other related facts you may consider important relating to the way our government and our nation functions. The Forbes Happiness Index, just out this past week, puts Norway #1 in the world, the U.S. #11. The United Nations Human Development Index has ranked Norway #1 for the last three years running. The U.S. trails but is presently a respectable #3. Norway's life expectancy is listed at 81.3 years and the US 78.7. The Democracy Index, compiled by The Economist Intelligence Unit (google it), ranks Norway at #1 in the world and the U.S. #21. The land of the free has suffered setbacks in our First Amendment rights of free expression and speech at the hands of executive actions and court rulings (legislation from the bench by politically appointed judges) that bypass the electorate and the will of the people. We have a two party system (in function, but not constitutionally mandated), which limits representation choices, and the parliamentary system has room for multiple parties and a better chance for diverse expression at the top. The Scandinavian countries are at the top of the democracy list. Also it is obvious that the functionality of our government at present is not what it was created to be and should be.
In summary, several things stand out. First, we are in such a financial mess that we are not in a position to afford the health care system we (our elected representatives) have voted in. Secondly, the system we have voted in is too expensive and inefficient due to the unnecessary addition of insurance companies and their bureaucracy. It is an unfair patchwork of non-uniform insurance policies that do not cover everyone equally and some not at all. The system is flawed.
George Eric Brunstad
Last Updated on Monday, 09 December 2013 09:43