We must end the greed of Shaker schools to fix our tax burden

To The Daily Sun,

Thank you, Belmont selectmen for having the guts at a recent meeting concerning a position with the Public Works Department, and though I do agree that the position needed to be filled I commend the fact that you had the guts to ask, etc.

You are also right that taxpayers are fed up with the current tax rate in the town, and Mr. Pike was also correct in pointing to the School District as the main reason for our tax problems. We must end the greed of the School District if we are ever to fix this problem.

Don Irvin

  • Category: Letters
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Farce to say founders didn't want Christian values to be of influence

To The Daily Sun,
I appreciate Steve Earle (letter May 12) for setting up James Veverka (letter May 13) for my response. I know that wasn't his purpose, not withstanding, thank you Steve.

Now let's get this discussion to where it belongs. First off, Jim's writings are merely a smokescreen to take the focus off of the government oppression going on right now, coming from liberal administrations. Yet seeing that Jim put it out there and I do love history, I'll take the bait. Which brings us to, secondly, what the discussion of the U.S.A.'s Christian roots should be about. Jim gives us a bunch of sources but has no idea of their significance or what they mean. Again his intent is not to understand history and to learn its lessons, but to rip off quotes that he figures will buttress his world view.

Jim talks about Constantine the Great and Theodosius making Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire. That's what Roman emperors did. Before these, Christians were martyred for not participating in emperor worship. But this change took place to fulfill the prophet Isaiah, "enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited." (Isaiah 54:2-3)

Tyranny is a temptation for humans in authority. Our Founding Fathers understood that. Jim would have you think that it is a Christian virtue or un-virtue. He consistently wrongly attributes human vices and usurpations as coming from Christ's teaching or the influence of Christianity on government when the issues actually spring from human weakness and all humans' inclination toward sin. In fact in the millennia that he refers to, relief from oppression actually came from the church through the Chivalric codes, the Peace and Truce of God and some righteous men.

Jim cites violence between Protestants and Catholics during the reformation as evidence against the Christian religion. In doing doing so he leaves the path of trying to understand the causes in history to promote his anti-Christian agenda. To be honest the history of war and the history of mankind are almost synonymous. War and violence are a human thing, not a Christian thing. They stem from our sinful human nature not the Christian religion.

Here's an experiment in critical thinking. If you will, look at this as a technician troubleshooting an automobile or a electronic system. Examine war and violence in the world. If you find that it only comes from Christian or for that matter religious populations, then it would be reasonable to assume that Christianity or in the broader argument religion is the problem; but if it is present in non-Christian and non-religious systems and populations as well, then it is a human problem and stems from our humanity. I will not get into spiritual entities here as Jim does not believe that they exist.

I wish well meaning people would stop trying to present our constitution as a Christian document it really is a secular document — though it could be argued that a Christian understanding of human nature lead the framers to see the wisdom in the separation of powers — yet its framers never intended it to be used to stamp Christian influence out of the public sphere. You see, our Declaration of Independence clearly shows us to be in the dept of the providential care of the Judge of the whole world, our creator.

Jim throws around the enlightenment as though you can assume anything that came out of it was anti-Christian. This was not the case. I think he under estimates the influence of the Reformation on enlightenment thought. Nor was every idea that came out of the enlightenment good. Neither is the study of Greek and Roman thought foreign to Christians. Christian doctrine is not based on them, but they serve as a rich source for political thought for one who studies and understands it.

If Jim was trying to understand the sources he quotes, he would understand that our Constitution was written for a religious people with a common set of values, a people who understood the importance of Christian virtue — for we were a Christian nation — for the survival of our republic. Jim's own evidence for Christian Sharia testifies that our nation was a Christian nation. State and local laws reflected the Christian nature of our republic. The First Amendment was added in response to a fear that the new federal government might interfere with the free exercise of religion. (The free exercise of religion is the freedom to act out your faith not merely the freedom to believe what you want.) The federal government was already secular.

It's a farce to suggest that the founders did not intend Christian values to inform federal policy, let alone state and local governance; that divorce of Christianity and state was an evolution, a corruption that grew out of, the then as yet to be established public school system. This evolution has lead us to where we are today, with a government that more and more makes moral judgements from the point of view of a non-ecclesiastical religion and is now seeking to use the force of law to coerce compliance to this new "morality", and seeks to restrict the free exercise of true religion.

John Demakowski

  • Category: Letters
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Lawmaker's actions aren't even 'penny wise', just 'pound foolish'

To The Daily Sun,

Much is said about the New Hampshire Advantage. We attribute many of our successes to our frugality and willingness to take care of our own communities while living within our means. But as much as we talk about it, sometimes we don't pay enough attention to what it really means, think about its components, and take proactive steps to preserve it.

Protecting our natural resources and cultural heritage lies at the heart of "Live Free or Die", and is an important component. Here in the Lakes Region we particularly value our mountains, lakes and rivers, the most visible components of our natural heritage. Our richly diverse communities and magnificent geography clearly identify us as the center of New Hampshire.

Hardest to see and measure, though, are the contributions of our people and the decisions we make. People here in the Lakes Region are strong and resilient and we embrace our neighbors and visitors alike. These define our character and enrich us as well as the entire Granite State, to say nothing about attracting abundant tourists to enjoy our hospitality.

When viewed through this prism, the choices some of our legislators are making are baffling. We know that investing in the New Hampshire Advantage pays dividends, yet we see aggressive, crippling cuts being made to programs — including some which return more than $8 for every dollar we spend.

For example, for every dollar we put into promoting our state's tourism industry, our state and local governments take in more than eight dollars in revenue. At the same time, spending by visiting tourists help fund more than 68,000 jobs in our state.

One of the smart decisions we made a few years ago to ensure this continues, was to dedicate a small portion of rooms and meals tax revenue specifically to tourism promotion. The House Republican passed budget is poised to suspend that action — a cut of nearly half of the budget for promoting our state's tourism industry. Again, for every dollar we spend on tourism promotion we get eight back. This cut of more than $3 million could result in real revenue losses of more than $20 million, and deliver a long term domino effect in job losses and business contraction.

Research in other states has shown that even temporary reductions in promotional marketing of tourism can have a lasting impact on the state's economy. Why would we want to risk that?

The Lakes Region that so many of us call home would suffer mightily if these illogical cuts aren't reversed. We aren't just talking about the loss of seasonal jobs, we are talking about small businesses we've known for years, even decades, disappearing. Hardworking Granite State families, people that have supported their communities and our state for generations, facing hardship over bad business decisions made by legislators more concerned about campaign slogans than the strength of the communities they represent.

When we look at the states that have come out of the recent economic downturn the strongest, the common element has been investing in themselves. If we don't do the same, the New Hampshire Advantage will be something we tell stories about, "remember when. . ."

The actions of the current legislature aren't even penny-wise, they are just pound-foolish. We should be investing in the preservation of the New Hampshire Advantage. These cuts aren't the right choice for our state, we owe Granite Staters better decision making than that.

David O. Huot

  • Category: Letters
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State pension system must be brought under control before raises

To The Daily Sun,

This next week in Concord the Legislature will take up the contentious issue of approving the funding for possible wage increases for N.H. public employees. While we realize it has been tough sledding for these employees vs. increases in take home pay, they have been taking the taxpayers to the woodshed over he last three years with near 20 percent annual average increases by the employer to the State of N.H., to their previously grossly underfunded pension plan in exchange for the retirees giving up COLAs in their entirety. So with a compromise worked out by former N.H. House Speaker Bill O'Brien in a previous legislative session, N.H. state reps agreed to these funding INCREASES to try and get this pension fiasco out of the hole with these significant annual increases to the state employee's TOTAL BENEFIT PACKAGES. Unfortunately some of the new fundings that have contributed to that pension trust rising from less than a 56 percent funding, ending in 2012, to at least some progress toward the 60+ percent funding ratio most recently reported by NHRS, have come from the state growing active participants by near 10 percent over the last five years. So while against AARRs this is a small positive, it also significantly increases the out years liabilities.

I would urge our Belknap County legislators to take a very hard look at funding a settlement with the state employees on wages from a TOTAL BENEFIT PACKAGE increase perspective, and how much we are proposing increasing THAT, so that the constituency does not get the same old bamboozling about how woefully underpaid state employees are. I would also point out that while progress is being made on NHRS Trust funding, the fund still remains woefully under funded vs. the 80 percent funding most think tanks (i.e. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College) regard as the minimum funding ratio to give a pension trust a healthy rating. Beyond that the OPEBs medical benefits etc. for retirees are still not even 10 percent funded.

I would also appeal to Senator Hosmer to examine the inherent fairness and propriety of the top 20 percent pensioners by pension amounts taking more than 50 percent of the gross annual distributions from NHRS whilst those lesser paid with generally smaller pensions in the public education industry continue to be providing the lion's share of NHRS funding and that financially unhealthy underfunding continues on at NHRS. Given that situation, it is time For Senator Hosmer, his Democratic allies in the state Legislature, and State Employee's SEA/SIEU President Gulla to step up and propose and back legislation to cap NHRS future distributions to NEW pensioners at near $90K/Yr with a 2/3rds of the cost of living incremental increase to administering such a cap. That is, create a cap and then raise the cap by a COLA and not provide any restitution of general COLAs which are COLA CREEP raids on the NHRS trust by those in the top 20 percent by distribution amounts. The portions of pensions that are attributable to failed AARR's simply are not portions of pensions earned by defining them beyond what is earned over and above the contributions inside these retirement trust funds. Once we get this pension situation under control and financially healthy we can then consider "more fair "salary increases in the total benefits increases for state employees.

Tim Sullivan


  • Category: Letters
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Center Harbor Food Pantry is just too important for us to lose

To The Daily Sun,

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am writing today to pass along some information about a local necessity that is in jeopardy of shutting its doors. The Center Harbor Food Pantry has served over 400 families a month for close to 18 years. It was recently brought to my attention that after decades of service, the pantry will close its doors unless it can come up with close to $90,000 to repay loans taken to stop the auction of the property a year ago.

Pastor Bob, still very active at the young age of 76, has worked tirelessly to provide this service and has dealt with more than his fair share of roadblocks. The services provided by the food pantry go beyond simply food on the table, though that itself is something we all take for granted. Pastor Bob has helped people to receive basic toiletries, clothing, and furniture, and does so free of charge.

I have volunteered with the Center Harbor Food Pantry for about a year now. It can't be explained as to how important this pantry is to the Lakes Region and if it were to cease how many families will be looking to other already overloaded food pantries further away. What we need is money. What we really need are ideas to save this diamond in the rough so that those affected by this economy can find the supplies they need to continue on.

New Hampshire takes care of its own. We need you, your donations, your ideas to keep the Center Harbor Food Pantry going along.

State Rep. Glen Aldrich
Gilford & Meredith

  • Category: Letters
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