To The Daily Sun,
I think it was very thoughtful for Chief Hempel's neighbor, Joanne Gianni, to write a letter in support of her friend. She made many "observations".
1. Why are the selectmen relying on a 10-year-old warrant article voted on in 2004? It's the job of the selectmen to follow the vote of the people. A few weeks ago the Firemen's Assoc. showed up in force against the new warrant article, so the selectmen deleted it from the warrant.
2. Does Mrs. Gianni think the selectmen would be foolish enough to set a policy that wasn't legal?
3. How does the $20,000 reduction cut services? Mrs. Gianni gives no example. The only affect it will have is on the per diem staff who will no longer earn $200 per day to fill full-time shifts.
4. I don't believe the policy change is an attempt to micromanage, it's just following the will of the people. Had the chief been willing to make the schedule change on his own, a policy would not have been necessary.
5. How is this a personal attack on the fire chief? Mrs. Gianni gives no example.
6. Why would this cause the personnel to feel undervalued? The Gilmanton FF/EMT's do a wonderful job serving the town's people and the selectmen have never said anything to the contrary. The chief should not be dragging down his department because he doesn't want to fill two shifts.
7. Mrs. Gianni states, "I believe that the new policy is detrimental and dangerous"? How so, she doesn't give any example.
Right now the chief is the only one enjoying every weekend off. He can still continue his weekends off and if he chooses to handle the scheduling change properly, each full-time employee could have four months a year with weekends off. The morale might improve with a schedule change. Each full-time employee would have a chance to work weekday shifts, not just the chief and one chosen employee (who had a fixed schedule) as had been practiced in the past. Maybe this is a little unknown fact that Joanne Gianni wasn't aware of.
Although I understand Mrs. Gianni's attempt at wanting to side with her neighbor's position, it appears she doesn't have any facts to support her stance.
EMT & Taxpayer
Last Updated on Friday, 10 January 2014 11:21
To The Daily Sun,
N.H.'s economy has changed significantly over the past 50 years. The textile mills are gone and the paper mills are shuttered. Tourism now generates over $1.2 billion in annual income and is N.H.'s second largest industry. N.H.'s tourism agency states, "A state blessed with unusual scenic qualities is bound to attract many visitors. N.H.'s mix of mountains, lakes , rivers, forests and a strip of beautiful New England seacoast brings tourists of varied interests all year long."
The energy needs of N.H., New England and the U.S. have also changed dramatically over the past half century. There is a major push to supplement or replace fossil fuel energy generation with renewable, sustainable, clean "green" energy. Oil and coal are in disfavor, natural gas "fracking" is suspect and nuclear is considered unsafe. This leaves solar and wind as the major "green" energy alternatives. Solar and wind farms are being built throughout the nation, including New England and N.H. While solar farms can be erected with minimal visual impact, the same can not be said for wind farms. Drive along Tenney Mountain Highway in Plymouth and observe the 24 400+ ft.-tall Groton Wind Farm wind turbines along the mountain ridge and the mammoth transmission line along the highway. A sight unlikely to attract tourists. Iberdrola Renewables, the Spanish energy company that built the Groton Wind Farm, is moving ahead to build the Wild Meadows Wind Farm consisting of 23 450+ ft. wind turbines along the mountain ridges overlooking scenic Newfound Lake in the towns of Alexandria and Danbury. Anyone owning property around the lake is obviously against this Green energy project. Unfortunately their objections fall into the category of NIMBI (Not In My Back Yard ).
Historically NIMBY objections end up as collateral damage, sacrificed for the greater good of the majority who will benefit from the proposed project. (Homeowners in the flight path of major airports, small towns in the river valleys of hydroelectric dams, land owners near major electric transmission lines like Northern Pass are all collateral damage). Will the scenic beauty of N.H.'s mountain ridges and lakes be collateral damage in pursuit of the States 25 in 25 Green Energy Goal? Will N.H.'s tourism industry be sacrificed for the energy needs of Massachusetts, R.I. and Connecticut? I hope not. The just released report on the State's Energy Facility Site Evaluation Committee (SEC), required by Senate Bill 99, contains many excellent recommendations including developing criteria on how visual impacts should be evaluated by the SEC. I hope the report itself will not be collateral damage.
Last Updated on Friday, 10 January 2014 11:17
To The Daily Sun,
As an Air Force veteran and the mother of an Air Force Captain, I fully support Christopher Boothby in his bid for Executive Councilor in District One. His experience at the county level and his vested interest in the economic wellness of the state are paramount. Furthermore, his unwavering support of our veterans and military is unsurpassed. Christopher's business acumen, fiscally responsible nature and accessibility to the geographically diverse district one will make him an invaluable member of the Governor's Council.
I look forward to that seat being filled by such a qualified young man.
I urge you all to get out and vote in the Special Election Primary on January 21. We have a wonderful opportunity right now. Let's not let it pass us by.
Last Updated on Friday, 10 January 2014 11:11
To The Daily Sun,
When people hear complaints about the U.S. health care system based on the World Health Organization (WHO) rankings, they should understand that the WHO rankings are not what most Americans assume.
The WHO rankings are based on criteria which is intended to justify big-government controlled, essentially socialist, health care so that politicians and bureaucrats can justify increasing taxes, allocating healthcare, and controlling citizens' everyday lives.
The complainers don't mention it, but in the one WHO criteria that most Americans would consider most relevant, "responsiveness", the U.S. health care system is rated best. Responsiveness measures how quickly the health care system responds to your problem, i.e., how quickly you can see a doctor and get treated.
Even using the WHO's criteria which gives greater weight to factors other than "responsiveness", the U.S. ranks 15th. But because the U.S. spends the most on health care, the WHO drops our ranking to 37th.
The U.S. health care system is unjustifiably downgraded because most insurance policies require co-pays and/or deductibles and because of the total cost of our health care system. But with 85-90 percent of Americans covered by insurance and with hospitals required to treat people regardless of ability to pay, American health care is available to all and affordable by most.
The WHO unjustifiably downgrades the U.S. health.care system for things that our health care system doesn't control, e.g., murders, accidental deaths, and the results of perhaps the most unhealthy lifestyle in the developed world. Use of such criteria is only relevant for justifying increased government controls over our lives... so we live "healthier".
Do we really want bureaucrats controlling what we must and cannot eat or drink, requiring specific amounts of exercise, and preventing behaviors the bureaucrats consider risky (perhaps skiing, motorcycling, fireworks, hunting, driving over 55, etc.)? Think of the U.S.'s experiment with "prohibition" and apply that to every aspect of your life that a bureaucrat decides is relevant to your "health".
The WHO ranks Columbia, Morocco and Saudi Arabia above the U.S., but the world's rich come here, not there. Canada is ranked above the U.S., but many Canadians come here for health care, often so they can get treatment before they die.
Because the WHO's criteria has been hotly disputed, the WHO has not rated national healthcare systems since 2000. Nothing should be based on the WHO's health care rankings.
Americans who cite the WHO report to denigrate our health care system and justify government control of health care such as Obamacare are either ignorant of the WHO's criteria and objective or supporters of socialized medicine, increased taxes, and the loss of personal freedom that results from increased government controls of how we live our lives.
Last Updated on Friday, 10 January 2014 11:06
As Barack Obama scrambles to eviscerate key sections of his own signature health care law, he and other Democrats are trying to shift voters' focus to another issue — income inequality. Unfortunately, the solutions they advocate are pitifully inadequate or painfully perverse.
Start with the minimum wage, which some Democrats see as an election-winning wedge issue in 2014.
True, raising the minimum wage polls well. But does anybody really care much about it? Few minimum wage earners are heads of households; many more are teenagers earning spare cash.
Most economists agree that a higher minimum wage costs some low-skilled workers their jobs. And the economic redistribution it produces, from fast-food consumers to fast-food employees, is pretty minimal.
Another Democratic policy is to continue extending unemployment benefits. The intellectual argument for this is stronger. Ordinarily, extended benefits tend to discourage the unemployed from looking for work. Their skills atrophy, and finding a job later gets harder.
But in the current new-normal economy, with record long-term unemployment, there simply haven't been enough job openings for many of the unemployed. Many Republicans look open to a compromise on this issue.
In any case the redistributionist effect will be only minor and, if robust economic growth returns, temporary.
One Democrat who argues for greater change is University of Arizona political scientist Lane Kenworthy. He believes the nation is and should be headed to a European-style welfare state, with the government taxing and spending 10 percent more of gross domestic product than at present.
Kenworthy would transform unemployment benefits into wage insurance, would start early education at age 1 and would vastly expand the Earned Income Tax Credit.
That's progressive economic redistribution, but with a catch. For as Kenworthy admits, you can't get the money for this just by raising taxes on very high earners: "The math simply doesn't work."
So he looks to a federal consumption tax, like Europe's value-added taxes. That would mean shifting from the current progressive income tax toward a more regressive European-style tax regime, with middle-income workers subsidizing non-workers.
Other proposals floated by Democrats, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren's call for substantially increased Social Security benefits, would have similarly perverse effects. Social Security is already on an unsustainable trajectory. Increased benefits would, in time, require higher taxes on the young, who have negative or minimal wealth, to finance payments to the elderly, who tend to have significant net worth. This echoes the Obamacare provision that limits premiums on the old and sick to no more than three times the premiums on the young and healthy. Is it really progressive to have the young subsidize the old?
Another left-wing Democrat, incoming New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, wants to raise income tax rates on those earning $500,000 to pay for universal preschool for the city's children. That would certainly amount to economic redistribution, but to whom? Research over the last 50 years shows that Head Start and other publicly financed pre-school programs have no lasting positive effect on learning.
What de Blasio's proposal would do is to put a lot more unionized teachers on the city payroll. The redistribution here goes from the very rich to the public employee unions and their allies in the Democratic Party.
Liberal pundits are hailing de Blasio and his politics as a harbinger of the political future and a return to the liberal tradition of Franklin Roosevelt and his political ally New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. But in 1944, the heyday of FDR and La Guardia, the five boroughs of New York City cast 7 percent of the nation's votes. In 2012 they cast only 2 percent of the national vote.
It's interesting that New York, which has had more liberal and redistributionist public policies than almost anywhere else in the nation over those 68 years, also has one of the nation's highest rates of income inequality. High tax rates and high housing costs (exacerbated for many years by rent control) have squeezed middle-class families out of New York. They have migrated in the millions to lower-tax, lower-housing-cost places such as Florida and Texas.
The Obama Democrats did reduce economic inequality somewhat by raising the top income tax rate back to 39.6 percent. The proposals they're talking about now are either small potatoes, or moves to have the working middle-class subsidize non-workers or the young to subsidize the old — redistribution, but not very progressive.
(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