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Froma Harrop - Thatcher would have been labeled 'European socialsit' by today's Republicans

In honoring Margaret Thatcher, some of her greatest fans complain, "They don't make conservatives like that any more."
But they do. Problem is, the Republican right wing now running the party primaries would chew a Thatcher-type politician into unelectable shards.
It takes a brave conservative to engage in detail-oriented fights over what government should and shouldn't do. How much easier to draw simple-minded cartoons of bloated government and condemn any public program as "socialism." Ideological purists may shudder, but this hard process is called governing.
Thatcher would have laughed at when Obamacare foes' called the reforms "a government takeover of health care." Recall how, in the heat of battle, the right waved Britain's National Health Service as a warning of terrible things awaiting American health care under the Affordable Care Act.
But here is what Thatcher wrote about the NHS in her memoir, "The Downing Street Years," after she had left the thick of politics: "I believed that the NHS was a service of which we could genuinely be proud. It delivered a high quality of care — especially when in it came to acute illnesses — and at a reasonably modest unit cost, at least compared with some insurance-based systems."
In Britain, doctors work for the government, making the NHS truly socialistic. As for government control of health care, Obamacare doesn't come close. But had candidate Obama likewise praised NHS to the skies, his consultants would have passed around smelling salts.
As prime minister, Thatcher raised the value added tax — a kind of national sales tax — to help pay for cuts in income tax rates. (She wasn't into borrowing money for tax cuts.) When Mitt Romney said he'd consider a similar tax during the Republican presidential primaries, Newt Gingrich called him a "European socialist."
Note that the founder of free-market economics, Adam Smith, regarded such taxes as a swell idea. "Taxes on consumptions are best levied by way of excise," he wrote in his 1776 classic, "The Wealth of Nations." "They have the advantage of 'being paid imperceptibly.'"
Another Thatcher hero was the late conservative economist, Milton Friedman, hailed as Smith's spiritual heir. Conservatives often cite Friedman's view that the bigger the share of government spending in a national economy, the less free the people are. But, hmmm, at what point would government's share set off an alarm that freedom was really in peril?
Friedman offered a number: 60 percent of the gross domestic product. Right now our government spending — federal, local and state put together — accounts for about 35 percent of GDP, well below the panic point.
Thatcher revered Friedrich Hayek's "Road to Serfdom," a book conservatives raise high as the great repudiation of socialism. One hopes but can't assume that their praise extends to the parts where Hayek defends a minimum wage, guaranteed health coverage and other government programs. Hayek wrote that "there can be no doubt that some minimum of food, shelter, and clothing, sufficient to preserve health and the capacity to work, can be assured to everybody ... Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist the individuals in providing for those common hazards of life against which few can make adequate provision." For insurable risks, he added, "The case for the state's helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong."
However one feels about Thatcher's politics, there's no question that she chose crusades and framed arguments with great care. She didn't talk of drowning governments in bathtubs. For her pragmatism, much of today's Republican right would have panned Thatcher as "socialist," "statist" and, heaven forfend, "European" — though they now hail her.
(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 Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

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I was treated with professionalism and spirit by LRGH staff

To the editor,
I recently spent four days in Lakes Region General Hospital for a back problem. I have to say that I have never been anywhere to be treated with the professionalism and spirit that exists at LRGH. All of the staff were pleasant, professional and caring and all seemed to really enjoy their work as they smiled and were pleasant all the time. I also found the hospital food to be fully as good as the local restaurants.
Following my time at LRGH I was set up with the Visiting Nurses in Meredith and found her to be as professional and efficient as the hospital staff. All of my care was done with efficiency and attention to detail that far exceeds any medical care I had had prior to this.
Thank you LRGH and thank you VNA.
Harry Welch

Last Updated on Friday, 05 April 2013 12:37

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We're paying the principal to hold freshmen's hands? Come on!

To the editor,
I went to Laconia High in the late 40s and early 50s. We just went from the 8th grade to the 9th Grade — just down the hall. We did not have any one hold our hands. Most of us turned out okay. Now it is going to take the principal one year to figure out which hand to hold. Of course our hands did not have cell phones, i Pads, smart phones, etc. If you got to the next class late you got marked late.
What is next, holding there hands when they go off to college? Dad just put me on a bus to college.
Sorry this is not as long as those long winded Dear Editor letters, which I do not read any more, but you get the point. Paying the principal to hold their hands. Come on — time to grow up. And this is HEADLINE NEWS?
Kirk Dougal

Last Updated on Friday, 05 April 2013 12:34

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Let's come together in support of better health for all of us

To the editor,
Communities from coast to coast observe National Public Health Week every April, celebrating the work of public health and coming together in support of better health for all.
The value of a strong public health system is all around us — it's in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the places where we all live, learn, work and play. It's in the thousands of people whose lives are saved by seat belts, the young people who say "NO!" to tobacco and the children given a healthy start thanks to vaccines. These are examples public health's return on investment.
Good health doesn't happen by chance. Good health is shaped and nurtured — it's connected to the environments in which we live, learn, work and play. Personal responsibility and better access to quality medical care play a critical role in our good health . But that's not enough to turn around health care spending, curb disease rates and continue to move toward a healthier future. For example, while diabetes and obesity can be treated inside a doctor's office, the costly and preventable conditions won't be solved there. Tackling obesity and diabetes will take increasing access to affordable healthy foods; providing opportunities for physical activity in our community through smarter transportation and land use planning; educating the public on the science of nutrition, working with industry, schools and employers on common solutions; and collecting the data to see what works. These are the roles of public health.
By adequately funding public health and prevention, we can transform a health system that's now focused on treating illness to one focused on preventing disease and promoting wellness. And we all have a role to play. By taking small actions, we can help our communities, friends and families see the much larger benefits of prevention: Make just one positive change a day to improve your health. Small things such as eating healthy foods, engaging in regular physical activity, avoiding tobacco and staying up to date on vaccines can make a big difference in helping you live a longer, healthier life.
You have the power to make positive preventative changes in your community. Think about what your community needs most-more bike lanes, increased access to healthy foods, safer places to play outside-brainstorm solutions. Tell others about your ideas and take action!
Please join our staff and our partners in our desire to better understand the health problems confronting our citizens and in the development of strategies to respond to the public health needs of our community. Visit our website (www.lrpph.org) and others to learn more about public health issues such as obesity prevention, emergency preparedness, healthy aging, family caregiving, substance abuse prevention, access to area services and other relevant public health issues. Here's to your health!
Lisa Morris, Executive Director
Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health

Last Updated on Friday, 05 April 2013 12:32

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71% of all winter emergency calls were answered by one LFD vehicle

To the editor,
It was a busy winter in Laconia for the Fire Department. We responded to 1,163 emergency calls in the four-month period. An average winter is 1,089 emergency calls. So this is a 9 percent jump in call volume. There were 425 simultaneous or back-to-back emergencies.
Response time to high-risk emergencies was 63 percent within four minutes and 80 percent within five minutes. These are very respectable response times. Seventy one percent of all calls were handled by one emergency vehicle (two firefighters); 18 percent required two vehicles (four or five firefighters); 11 percent of the calls required three or more vehicles, or the entire work group (eight or more firefighters).
There were nine major emergencies: three "all hands working"; four first alarms; one second alarm; and one third alarm. For fires requiring suppression efforts we had a 75 percent control rate with the first alarm assignment. There were 33 fires in buildings, which is well above the average of 25 fires. Preliminary fire loss is $822,000 and $920,000 in property saved.
There were 22 high-risk, high-priority emergency medical patients.
Seventy two percent of all emergencies were in the central area of the city; 10 percent were in Lakeport; 10 percent were in the Weirs; 3 percent were in north Laconia; and 2 percent were in the south end.
The 11 a.m. time period was the busiest with 8 percent of all emergencies. 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. were all tied for second busiest hour.
Twenty-five percent of all emergencies were between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m.
Chief Ken Erickson
Laconia Fire Department

Last Updated on Friday, 05 April 2013 12:28

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