3/31/2010

Too Intelligent To Govern?

In light of my previous post about the burden of an elite education, a discussion following this WSJ piece about Sarah Palin by Norm Podhoretz brought up the subject of intelligence versus the ability to get things done. A number of those commenting posited that a high IQ does not automatically mean a person is capable of governing. That certainly seems to be the case with the present occupant of the Oval Office. He may have a high IQ (and there's quite a bit of debate about that subject in the comments), but he's shown he is in over his head.

Probably one of the best analysis I've seen on this subject, particularly in relation to Obama and Palin, comes from commenter Jake Peachy.

There is this problem of confusing smartness, IQ, and academic achievement with wisdom. There is no fool like an educated fool that does not have the correct big picture outline to properly organize information, and you cannot start with the details themselves to create big picture reference points.

What is so often missing with this contrived theoretical knowledge is that sense of three-dimensional understanding--- that intuitive depth perception called the wisdom, (a lot of which is formalized in religious and cultural heritage and tested by history) that gives you the big picture framework to properly place the details. The unwashed masses are more likely to sense intuitively the correct big picture framework because of a closer relation to real world experience.

Intellectual folks are enamored with a theory of knowledge used effectively by hard sciences. Since there is no concrete definitives in the so-called "social sciences", these definitives are then invented through the use of rigorous logic that seems airtight. From this base, a lovely complex edifice of theory appears that is erroneous at the base. The intellectual folks fall in love with their handiwork and think themselves wondrously wise because they understand it, using great words with mysterious meanings known only to the practitioners, while the great unwashed masses do not bother with it ----- because it is obvious to them that it does not square with reality, a reality that is vastly more complex than the most sophisticated theory of intellectual derivative.

Sarah Palin's real-world experience gives her that intuitive depth perception, that she may not be able to effectively articulate. In the microcosm of her experience with Alaskan government, she understands very well the greed of power, the sense of entitlement by the political class who do not see themselves as servants of the people, but their masters. This gives her the correct big picture outline in foreign-policy because the single biggest driver of history is about the intoxication of power, that drive and will to power with the development of a belief system that justifies absolute power. It is these belief systems that allow men to become as gods controlling the lives of millions. Thus the endless wars of unrestrained quest of power.

She also understands very well, from real-life experience, that the cycles of economic growth and wealth creation that comes from a free trade free market economy, where participants connect horizontally versus top-down control. As of yet, her ability to effectively articulate is not equal to the skill of Ronald Reagan.

If she does become president, I have full confidence in her perspective and if she surrounds herself with very able advisers, she would do very well. A presidential candidate doesn't necessarily have to have full experience when very able experience is available for hire. After all, we can only elect humans, not an omniscient all wise deity.

“After all, we can only elect humans, not an omniscient all wise deity.” Unfortunately it appears far too many of the Obama faithful seem to think he is a deity. But he is not. He is a man, and he is fallible, despite the Democrats claim to the contrary.

A side note: During the presidential campaign in 2008 the Democrats kept slamming Sarah Palin for her lack of experience. They made a bigger deal out of Palin than John McCain, not realizing they were not comparing between McCain and Obama, but between Palin and Obama. If one looked honestly at that comparison, Obama came up short in a number of areas.

Palin was a serving governor, meaning she was the commander-in-chief of the Alaska National Guard. It also meant she had some foreign relations experience, dealing with both Canada and Russia. Obama had only been in the US Senate for two years and had spent most of that time voting 'present' or running for president.

Palin cleaned house in Alaska politics, routing out corruption in state government wherever it was, not discriminating between Democrats or Republicans. Obama on the other hand is a product of the corrupt Chicago political machine.

Palin is a successful businesswoman. Obama managed to piss away $110 million of Annenberg Foundation funds with nothing to show for it.

Palin speaks plainly. Obama obfuscates when he orates.

Palin went to a state university (Idaho). Obama when to Columbia and Harvard Law School.

Palin is just plain folks. Obama is an arrogant elitist, condescending to us 'plain folk'.

All that being said, is Palin more intelligent than Obama? No, probably not. But she is smarter, and that's what makes the difference.

3/29/2010

The Burden Of An Elite Education

Originally I had every intention of including this as part of my weekendly Thoughts On A Sunday post. But after reading the original article in more depth I realized it would be better as a standalone post.

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It as been said by smart men and women through the ages that we should not cripple our children by making their lives too easy. Unfortunately far too many parents have ignored that advice to the detriment of their children. It's just as true to day as when the first wise parent uttered that truism.

We experience the effects of this every day, seeing people with elite educations being incapable of performing or understanding the simplest things most of the rest of us take for granted. Far too often they also have a sense of entitlement created by the educational institution they've attended as if merely by attending such a prestigious school automatically bestows it upon them.

It didn’t dawn on me that there might be a few holes in my education until I was about 35. I’d just bought a house, the pipes needed fixing, and the plumber was standing in my kitchen. There he was, a short, beefy guy with a goatee and a Red Sox cap and a thick Boston accent, and I suddenly learned that I didn’t have the slightest idea what to say to someone like him. So alien was his experience to me, so unguessable his values, so mysterious his very language, that I couldn’t succeed in engaging him in a few minutes of small talk before he got down to work. Fourteen years of higher education and a handful of Ivy League degrees, and there I was, stiff and stupid, struck dumb by my own dumbness. “Ivy retardation,” a friend of mine calls this. I could carry on conversations with people from other countries, in other languages, but I couldn’t talk to the man who was standing in my own house.

I've seen this on more than one occasion among acquaintances of mine. Fortunately none of my friends have fallen into a predicament like this as most of them grew up in the real world, having had worked in the trades, on farms, or served in the military long before getting their college degrees, most receiving them at less than elite institutions, though a few have gone to Ivy League institutions.

I've cut lawns, milked cows, shod horses, worked as a bus boy and a server in a restaurant, driven a school bus, driven a forklift in a warehouse, worked on an ambulance as a driver and an EMT, been a track worker for NASCAR on the Speedy-Dry truck, a broadcast engineer and DJ, a land mobile radio technician, a radar technician, and an electrical engineer. I attended public schools and a state university. My friends are plumbers, carpenters, electricians, farmers, supermarket managers, butchers, mechanics, pilots, librarians, store proprietors, as well as doctors, lawyers, fellow engineers, bankers, academicians, and a whole host of other folks. As far as I know, none of them have been crippled by an elite education, having a good grounding in the real world and being able to rise above the brainwashing of such an education.

That being said, I'm not sure what needs to be done in order to break the grip of isolation and self-aggrandizement elite schools lay upon their students. How does one bring them to a realization that they really are no different, no better than those outside the ivy covered halls? I'm not sure there's an easy fix...or even a moderately difficult fix.

Being an intellectual begins with thinking your way outside of your assumptions and the system that enforces them. But students who get into elite schools are precisely the ones who have best learned to work within the system, so it’s almost impossible for them to see outside it, to see that it’s even there. Long before they got to college, they turned themselves into world-class hoop-jumpers and teacher-pleasers, getting A’s in every class no matter how boring they found the teacher or how pointless the subject, racking up eight or 10 extracurricular activities no matter what else they wanted to do with their time. Paradoxically, the situation may be better at second-tier schools and, in particular, again, at liberal arts colleges than at the most prestigious universities. Some students end up at second-tier schools because they’re exactly like students at Harvard or Yale, only less gifted or driven. But others end up there because they have a more independent spirit. They didn’t get straight A’s because they couldn’t be bothered to give everything in every class. They concentrated on the ones that meant the most to them or on a single strong extracurricular passion or on projects that had nothing to do with school or even with looking good on a college application. Maybe they just sat in their room, reading a lot and writing in their journal. These are the kinds of kids who are likely, once they get to college, to be more interested in the human spirit than in school spirit, and to think about leaving college bearing questions, not resum├ęs.

Too many of those leaving our elite institutions of higher learning figure they know everything worth knowing and believing they deserve success, whether they've earned it or not. After all, they went to all the right schools and have all the important social contacts. Never mind that they may not know anything important or how to actually talk to the plumber, electrician, carpenter, mechanic, or gardener.

And to think these people think they are the only ones capable of running the country when I doubt they could even run a day care center or convenience store.

I guess it takes all kinds.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)

3/28/2010

Thoughts On A Sunday

After the lengthy spell of late-spring-like weather reality reasserted itself as colder temps returned to New Hampshire, being a little below normal. Only a few days after the official Ice Out declaration for Lake Winnipesaukee a skim of ice has reappeared on one or two of the bays that were entirely ice free this past week, showing how cold it's been the past few days and nights.

The cold temps have also required us to fire up the Official Weekend Pundit Woodstove again, particularly in light of the trouble we had with the Official Weekend Pundit Propane Furnace the other day. (It's not like we use it all that often and that might be why we had a problem. And, yes, we will be having it serviced by a qualified service technician.)

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Also in regards to Lake Winnipesaukee and Ice Out, during our travels late this morning BeezleBub and I saw one boat out on Alton Bay and another being launched at the public boat ramp.

Neither of these boats were the first out on the lake, however. At least one boater was out last Thursday, checking out the ice damage to the dock at his island camp.

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Our local CongressCritter, Carol Shea-Porter, is holding a town hall meeting later this week right here in the Lakes Region. That might seem like a gutsy move considering the widespread anger at her vote for ObamaCare. But it isn't as gutsy as it sounds.

As Skip notes in his post linked above, there's a certain irony involved.

Here's the rub: I bet that she sent out HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of those cards shown above.

You know how many people can fit in the City Council chamber ????

60.

Yup, sixty. And if it works out like last time, I'm betting that a lot of Purple Shirted SEIU goons from outside the district will be there early, let in by a side door, and take up most of the seats.

Potemkin Town Hall, redux?

Her previous town hall meetings have been anything but open forums, with very limited time to ask questions and what questions asked were vetted ahead of time to make sure CSP didn't have to take any questions she didn't want to answer. Unlike her predecessor, Jeb Bradley, she doesn't believe in open and free discussion, particularly with people that disagree with her world view. But then she doesn't believe in free speech...unless it's her speech.

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Speaking of Carol Shea-Porter and the SEIU, a TV ad paid for by the SEIU has been running on the local station, praising CSP's vote for ObamaCare. The ad closes with the line “We thank Carol Shea-Porter for supporting us.” The irony? Almost everyone I've talked to - Left, Center, and Right – understood it to mean her support of the union and not her constituents in the First Congressional District of New Hampshire.

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Two accomplishments the Obama Administration can claim as all its own?

The destruction of the special relationship between the US and Great Britain and the purposeful alienation of Israel.

Obama did promise change by his administration. Little did we realize that the change would be the insulting of both the Prime Minister of the UK and the Queen of England as well as tongue-lashing of the Prime Minister of Israel when he visited the White House.

Obama promised smart diplomacy as part of his administration. So far he and his Secretary of State have a failing grade in this regard, pissing off our allies and cozying up to our sworn enemies.

(H/T Instapundit)

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Andrew Klavan tells us A Tale of Two Cities - Washington, DC and Hollywood, both of which are so out of touch with the rest of America that they are like totally alien cities, where every day sensibilities are sorely lacking.

Washington, D.C. and Hollywood are two cities suffering from the same condition: they’ve not only become completely alienated from the people they’re meant to serve, they’re bizarrely blind to the fact of that alienation. Like deranged narcissists in a hall of mirrors, both our lawmakers and our culture-makers blow kisses at their own reflections, see a million kisses coming back their way, and think, “Oh, look, they love me—love me!”

This would certainly explain a few things, none of it unexpected.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)

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An unexpected down side to one of the provisions of ObamaCare deals with seasonal businesses that hire workers for only a few months of the year. Here in New Hampshire one of the businesses that will be most affected by the provisions is the ski industry. Under ObamaCare, any seasonal business hiring on employees for more than 120 days must provide health insurance or pay a $2000 per employee fine.

The bill signed into law on Tuesday by President Barack Obama fines businesses that do not provide health insurance to full-time employees who work more than 120 days a year. The assessment is $2,000 per employee, which, according to SkiNH lobbyist Bruce Berke and group president Alice Pearce, could mean as much as $1 million in fines to the big ski resorts, some of which hire as many as 500 seasonal workers.

Pearce said the original Senate health care bill contained only a $750-per-employee fine, which kicked in after a worker was employed 150 days. That exempted most ski areas, she said.

But the House tightened it to $2,000 and 120 days.

If this can't be fixed what are the ski areas likely to do?

Either they will hire fewer workers or stagger their hiring and firing such that no employee will be on the books for more than 120 days, which means many seasonal employees will enjoy 30 days less employment and pay. Either way it will likely mean wait lines will be longer, lift ticket prices will be higher, and the skiing experience will be less enjoyable.

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Bogie reports her 7-year old TV has bit it, refusing to turn on any more. Considering the shakiness of the economy (and the stability of her Wonderful Spouse's job situation), replacing the failed TV any time in the near future is not likely.

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Tom Bowler gets into the reality of supply and demand under ObamaCare, and it's not good.

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As reported throughout the blogosphere, it appears CNN has problems with math, particularly when it comes to Tea party rallies.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where boating has already begun, thoughts of summer have started too intrude, and where the firewood pile is getting smaller.

3/27/2010

The Law Of Unintended Consequences - ObamaCare Edition

Reading and watching the reactions to the passage of ObamaCare has been educational if for no other reason that it illustrates the differences between those supporting the poorly thought out piece of legislation and those opposing it. Probably the biggest difference has got to be an understanding of economics in regards to the Law of Unintended Consequences. Those supporting ObamaCare (primarily the Left) apparently have a poor or non-existent understanding of economics or the effects of laws, taxes, spending, and mandates. Those opposing it (primarily the Right and the Center) understand economics all too well and particularly in relation to ObamaCare. They also understand the aforementioned Law of Unintended Consequences and how it is already coming into play.

The first and most profound effects will have far-reaching consequences, with large companies like Caterpillar, Verizon, and AT&T having to pay hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars they might have used for other purposes...like expanding their businesses and hiring more people. Of course I expect the Left to say it's all smoke and mirrors and that heartless businesses are just using this as an excuse to hurt their employees. (Yeah, like successful businesses will purposefully hurt the very people they need to remain successful.) They don't understand that when you take that kind of money away from businesses they'll have no choice but to react in ways that will allow them to survive.

Another unanticipated effect of ObamaCare: Retirees presently receiving prescription drug benefits from their former employers may lose that coverage and be forced to convert to Medicare Part D. Why? Because ObamaCare just made it far more expensive for the former employers to keep providing the benefits by adding over billions in new taxes on those benefits, which is one heck of a disincentive to keep doing so. By not providing this benefit they won't have to pay the taxes. It also means the government won't collect the billions in new taxes they expected and they'll have to spend billions more to cover the now benefitless retirees. Between the lost revenues and the new expenditures the government will come out the loser on this, meaning the rest of us will have to make up the difference. We just don't know exactly how it is we'll be paying for it but it won't be cheap.

Another not so unexpected unintended consequence: Some of the very people we'll depend on to provide all this health care will bail out of the medical profession because they'll be heavily taxed on their income, won't be the ones deciding what care their patients require, and won't be reimbursed enough by Medicare to cover their costs under the 21% cut in Medicare payments that are part of ObamaCare, just to name a few. This is the same thing that happened in the UK and Canada when their governments took over control of health care – doctors and nurses left the profession or left the country and practiced elsewhere...like the United States.

Will ObamaCare initiate a rebellion among health care professionals as has happened in Canada, where some doctors have refused to take 'national insurance' and opened private cash-only clinics? Some practitioners here in the US have already shed themselves of the headache of health insurance, taking cash-only patients and/or offering concierge medical services (patients pay an annual retainer in return for a certain number of visits and services, which in the long run can be cheaper and easier than insurance).

In light of this I have a question for the ObamaCare proponents – Just because an additional 30 million people lacking health insurance will get it in the not so near future, what makes you think there will be any doctors willing or able to take them on as new patients?

Some may claim the only reason doctors will do something like that is because they're greedy bastards who really don't give a damn about patients, only about money.

A lot of the times, they offer treatments and surgeries for cancer or whatever that might cost $200,000 and they KNOW that they will only help the patient live MAYBE 4 months longer. The doctors have seen it happen over and over. It sure does make you wonder if the doctors are offering these treatments more for THEMSELVES financially or for the good of the patient.

A response to this piece of ignorant crap came from Dr. Ann Contrucci, MD, a pediatrician in Atlanta, Georgia:

Mr. Foster, I don't believe I saw M.D. behind your name? For those of us real doctors who assess real patients and make decisions regarding their treatments, your comments are nothing short of arrogant and insulting. Did you look this stuff up on, I'm sure, a reputable medical website so now you "get" what a doctor does and understand how he or she makes decisions? Do you actually have ANY idea how we make medical decisions? Do you have any idea what kind of education, training, and experience makes up what we do? We are given one of the biggest, if not the biggest, responsibilities of any job known and that is to heal. Unfortunately, despite even our best treatments sometimes, that is not the case. That is because medicine is still an art and not 100% exact science...therefore, bad outcomes still result. What used to be accepted as part of the circle of life is no longer so. Now it is patients coming in demanding this or that test, this or that medication because they "saw it on TV" or read it on the internet. If something bad occurs, well it must be the doctor's fault. There is no trust in physicians and with the bottom dwelling plaintiffs' attorneys lurking, frankly there isn't much trust in the patients. If I had a dollar for the number of times I've heard, "if you don't do the CT scan, I'm going to sue you," I'd be one of those "rich doctors" I always hear about. Funny, none of the docs I know are those "rich doctors."

I canNOT believe you would actually think that "doctors are offering these treatments more for themselves financially..." If you actually think that most physicians are of this mindset, you are a sick, sick man and there is no hope for you. Thank God you didn't go into medicine!

Here's the "DIRTY LITTLE SECRET" - physicians want to do the right thing for our patients, we do our best every day under, oftentimes, extreme circumstances and in stressful, chaotic environments with a risk to benefit ratio that is nearly always not in our favor. We do all of this while being held to an impossible standard of accountability while the politicians who are making all the decisions have none whatsoever. Perhaps your time would be better spent looking into those dirty little secrets...

By the way, I truly hope that you or no one in your family every needs a physician's services for anything - you really wouldn't want to have to trust one of us to help you, would you? If, God forbid, you or someone you love has to be rushed to the ER for, say, a heart attack, what dirty little secret do you think your ER doctor will be harboring? Hmmm, I would bet that you will be given any and every treatment there is to SAVE YOUR LIFE! But that's just a guess...

Unfortunately the attitude of the first commenter, Dan Foster, is all too common, particularly among supporters of ObamaCare. As Dr. Contrucci says, too many people like Foster have no idea what is involved in becoming a physician and the pressure they're under every single day they're treating patients. The problem is there are far too many others out there with the same attitude as Mr. Foster, which might be why they support ObamaCare – pure ignorance. It would also explain why they have overlooked the unintended economic consequences of ObamaCare.

3/23/2010

ObamaCare - Another Trojan Horse

Now that I've had a chance to cool down a bit and think more upon the effects of ObamaCare, I can see my initial thoughts about it were, if anything, far too optimistic.

While masquerading as a health care reform bill, ObamaCare is nothing more than yet another means to slowly achieve the socialist revolution rather than having to fight a bloody insurgent campaign. It's kind of like the old saw about boiling a frog – Don't drop the frog into the boiling water because he'll hop out. Instead, put him in a pot of cold water and slowly raise the heat. By the time he realizes the water is boiling he's already been cooked. And that's what ObamaCare is really all about, boiling the frog (or in this case the American people, our freedoms, and the Constitution).

Am I being paranoid? Could be. But the question I pose to myself is, am I being paranoid enough? Because when a bunch of progressive jerk with little true understanding of the American people, the American economy, or of the Constitution of the United States start dictating to us what is good and bad for us, it's time to take up arms, figuratively speaking, and disabuse them of the notion that they are somehow our betters. And if they still don't get it, then it may time to take up arms, literally.

The Democrats in Congress ignored the wishes of a majority of Americans. They only paid lip service to bipartisanship. (Their definition of bipartisanship is to tell the Republicans to sit down, shut up, and vote the way the Democrats tell them to vote.) While many on the Left will cite Social Security and Medicare as social programs people said wouldn't work and would severely damage the economy (which they both will unless both programs are revamped top to bottom), both of those programs had true bipartisan support. ObamaCare had absolutely none.

Well, maybe I should clarify something about that last statement. In actuality there was bipartisanship in regards to ObamaCare. Unfortunately for Obama it was bipartisan opposition to the bill.

Across America the response to the passage of ObamaCare was one of dismay, shock, and anger. Some few applauded its passage, loving the idea of a massively dysfunctional budget-busting government-run health care system. One commenter to this WSJ piece is not one of them:

I’m sure most Americans, or at least thinking Americans, those that considered their heritage one of freedom and liberty, had already condemned Obamacare on a gut level from the start, as they should, but probably few know the exact details of this gross unconstitutional intrusion into their lives and what it will mean to them. Here are the highlights divided into three lamentable categories: increased taxes and fees, spiraling costs, and reduced services.

Marc's comment, which is excerpted above, is rather extensive and covers the salient points of ObamaCare and its major downsides. As the saying goes, Read The Whole Thing.

3/22/2010

Another Nail In The Coffin....

It isn't that I don't have anything to say about the debacle that took place Sunday evening in the Capitol. Rather that it's I have too darn much to say about passage of Obama's Health Care Destruction Bill, and very little of it polite.

So instead of resorting to invective and a lot of obscenities, I figured it was a good idea to put off until tomorrow my thoughts on this socialist piece of crap foisted upon the American people against their will by other people without a shred of intelligence, integrity, or honesty.

3/21/2010

Thoughts On A Sunday

It's ironic the first day of spring was the last day of late spring-like weather, with temps in the 60's and low 70's. Today cooler, but still above normal temps arrived, along with some occasional rain. BeezleBub and I made use of the good weather to move more firewood from our stacks outside to the garage, where it will finish drying in preparation for next winter's heating season. (The garage gets very warm in summer, speeding the drying process as long as we leave the windows open.)

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The first day of spring also brought a change in BeezleBub's activities at the farm. Instead of splitting more firewood for next winter or working at the sawmill to finish sawing timbers for new construction at the farm stand, he spent the day working in the greenhouses, getting pots ready to take transplanted tomatoes and peppers. Farmer Andy got the wood-fired boiler used to heat the greenhouses going, burning the first of the 80 cords of firewood he harvested for that purpose. (He used to use oil to heat them in the past, but changed over to wood when he realized it would cost far less to use his own renewable resources. The wood-fired system paid for itself in the first season, eliminating the need to buy 11,000 gallons of oil he usually used to heat the greenhouses.)

The greenhouse growing season has started.

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The House vote on ObamaCare is slated for today. While some members of the MSM are already crowing about success of passage (Bill Weir of ABC being one of the worst, not bothering to hide his liberal bias), others are saying it's too close to call and are unwilling to predict the outcome of the vote.

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Glenn Reynolds has a round up of yesterday's anti-ObamaCare protests.

While claims of racism have been leveled against the protesters, primarily TEA party supporters, it's been the anti-TEA party folks slinging the sexual and racial epithets towards TEA partiers. It's the old double standard being applied...again.

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Zombie tells us why most of America hates ObamaCare: no one wants to pay for the medical care of those unwilling to take responsibility for their own actions in regards to their health.

As Zombie writes:

A built-in false assumption with the health-care debate is that sickness is always no-fault sickness. It’s never socially acceptable to assign blame for people’s medical problems — especially blame on the patient.

But I’m not afraid to confess that I’m a judgmental person. And I’m pretty confident that most Americans who oppose socialized medicine share this same judgment: that some people are partly or entirely to blame for their unwellness.

Zombie also provides a number of telling examples, showing us some patients are entirely at fault for their condition, but blame their doctor for telling them the truth.

(H/T Instapundit)

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Bogie lays a twofer on us, giving us a view of a “real hardy New England gardener,” and reasons why riding season hasn't started yet in her neck of the woods.

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Rocketman shows us a visual guide of how Obama's politics work, including going outside constitutionally defined means to get his way on a host of issues. Then again, he's never really liked the Constitution because it limits what he can and cannot decree, meaning he can't just proclaim himself President-for-Life like so many of his socialist friends and allies.

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Right Truth offers some interesting health care statistics that should give anyone supporting ObamaCare some pause.

But then ObamaCare has never really been about health care reform, has it?

(H/T Pirate's Cove)

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Powerline reports the latest Rasmussen poll shows a majority of Americans (54%) are still against ObamaCare. This despite all of Obama's appearances - primarily in Democrat strongholds - to push this steaming pile of manure.

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David Starr has important advice for hand tool manufacturers, specifically those making screwdrivers, chisels, and scribes.

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One of the biggest lessons learned by the US Army in Iraq and Afghanistan?

The traditional physical training used by soldiers needed to be changed to reflect the realities of combat.

Heeding the advice of Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans, commanders are dropping five-mile runs and bayonet drills in favor of zigzag sprints and exercises that hone core muscles. Battlefield sergeants say that's the kind of fitness needed to dodge across alleys, walk patrol with heavy packs and body armor or haul a buddy out of a burning vehicle.

Good training always increases the prospect of survival in combat.

(H/T Granite State Pundit )

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Let this example be a cautionary tale when it comes to refinancing your mortgage, particularly when the 'refinance' offer comes from someone you don't know.

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Topless gardening? Oh, yeah, bring it on!

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Is New Hampshire in danger of becoming a welfare state like California, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York?

Yes, if the state legislature keeps adding all kinds of 'essential' services - essential being defined purely by the Democrats – and boosting taxes and fees to unsustainable levels. The legislature seems incapable of learning lessons from our surrounding states, all of which have expansive welfare systems and below par economic performance in relation to New Hampshire. They haven't made the connection between welfare benefits and economic performance, where as one goes up the other goes down.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where spring as arrived, planting has started, and where preparations for the coming boating season have begun.

3/19/2010

Health Care Versus Health Insurance

It seems Nicholas Kristof is confused about health care reform, thinking it's all about making sure everyone has access to health care. Obviously he has not been paying attention to the debate or the proposed legislation.

Poor Nicholas. Apparently he can't tell the difference between access to health care and health insurance.

Everyone in America has had access to health care by law since the the 1980's. No one needing care can be turned away, even if they can't pay for it. ObamaCare has nothing to do with access, at least not directly.

According to the Democrats ObamaCare is all about is health insurance, something entirely different. Of course once everyone has insurance there will be an effect on health care access, just not the one they expected – there will be less of it. Doctors will be unwilling or unable to take on new patients, just like in Massachusetts under RomneyCare. So even if you have insurance there's absolutely no guarantee you'll be able to find a doctor to take you as a patient.

See the difference now, Nicholas?

3/18/2010

States Rebelling Against ObamaCare

In light of the increasing pressure from the President and the Congressional Democrat leadership to pass the overreaching and economy-busting health care destruction bill, a number of states have been proactive, working to short-circuit the Left's attempt to grab even more power over the lives of their citizens.

Idaho took the lead in a growing, nationwide fight against health care overhaul Wednesday when its governor became the first to sign a measure requiring the state attorney general to sue the federal government if residents are forced to buy health insurance.

Similar legislation is pending in 37 other states.

Constitutional law experts say the movement is mostly symbolic because federal laws supersede those of the states.

With Washington closing in on a deal in the months-long battle over health care overhaul, Republican state lawmakers opposed to the measure are stepping up opposition.

[Idaho Governor] Otter, a Republican, said he believes any future lawsuit from Idaho has a legitimate shot of winning, despite what the naysayers say.

"The ivory tower folks will tell you, 'No, they're not going anywhere,' " he told reporters. "But I'll tell you what, you get 36 states, that's a critical mass. That's a constitutional mass."

Considering Congressional Democrats and the President have been ignoring the will of a large majority of the American people, is it any wonder state legislators are taking measures to send a message to them, telling them we won't stand for having this version of health care reform shoved down our throats? The states are rebelling against the Left's arrogant belief that they know better than we what it is we need.

Throughout history such belief by the self-proclaimed elite has always led to grief, misery, and tyranny. They can justify any action as being for “the good of the people” even when it was only good for the elite. And so it is with Obama, Pelosi, Reid, and the other members of the Leftist cabal. They do not believe we are capable of running our own lives, that we aren't smart enough to make our own decisions, that if we don't follow their leadership that we must be deranged and need to forced to surrender our will to the State.

That's what this whole ObamaCare kerfuffle is all about – Power.

3/17/2010

A Bad Model

Following up on this post, particularly the additional information about ObamaCare Lite (also called MassHealth and RomneyCare), it this op-ed piece from the Wall Street Journal, covering the abject failure of 'mandatory' and subsidized health insurance in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. ObamaCare used this as a model. Unfortunately it's a bad one.

As one commenter put it:

That RomneyCare is no better than ObamaCare should be undeniable. The chief problem with health care is COST. The second and third most significant problem with health care is COST and COST. Litigation drives cost, defensive medicine drives cost, bureaucracy drives costs, a price regulated public marker drives up costs in the private market, shortages of primary care physicians and nurses drives up costs, complex regulations which prevent an emergency room from sending a non-emergency patient to urgent care or a retail clinic drives up costs, mandates drive up costs…

The other problem with ObamaCare is that no one knows what the real goal is. At first it was the uninsured, then it was health care itself, then it was insurance reform. Not once has one elected member of government said in once concise statement what the goal is. Not once, and I think this is totally doable, has congress or the white house gone to the private market and said, price out the rates and benefits for the policies you intend to sell.

If the goal was reasonable access to quality health care at an affordable price that limited government and insurance company bureaucracy and maximized choice of plans and providers…then we could have a discussion…for example, what is reasonable access? What determines this? Most certainly it is not 44 days to get an appt with a primary care doctor!

'Nuff said.

3/16/2010

Democrat Contempt For The American People

The machinations of the Democratic leadership has made me realize (yet again) that they truly have contempt for the people they profess they represent.

Rather than submit the Senate version of ObamaCare to a vote in the House, where every vote aye or nay will be recorded and become part of the public record, they want to use the so-called Slaughter Rule to avoid actually having to show their constituents whether or not they voted in favor of the Obama Health Care Destruction bill.

They must believe we won't figure out this bit of legislative legerdemain and know who really supported this piece of legislative manure. It's not like it will save them from the rage of those of us who voted them into office. We're already pissed off enough at them that we'd like to fire them now. (This means you, Carol Shea-Porter.)

Nancy Pelosi is crowing as if she's already won, claiming ObamaCare will cure the lame, allow the blind to see, all while costing us less money, and raise Obama to the level of deity and shepherding the Democrats to permanent power. (Well, three of the five are hyperbole...maybe, but I know she believes the last two.)

But there are far too many examples to illustrate that government control of anything is fraught with corruption, fraud, and endemic institutional inefficiencies. Health care will be no different, claims by the Wicked Witch of the West notwithstanding.

Before casting “yea” votes in favor of a government health care grab later this week, wavering House Democrats may want to struggle out of the left’s ideological fog for a moment and consider the sad, but instructive, tales of the U.S. Postal Service and the city of Detroit. Both are poster boys (excuse me, poster persons) for how government can get almost anything gloriously wrong.

That the U.S. Postal Service is swimming in red ink isn’t news. The important news to Americans as they follow Washington’s three-ring health care circus is that U.S. Postmaster General Joe E. Potter wants to drop Saturday mail delivery as a cost-cutting measure.

Imagine a hamburger joint announcing to its customers that it plans to stop selling hamburgers a day or two a week to cut costs. Of course, a hamburger joint wouldn’t limit the sale of hamburgers to keep its costs down. The guy who owns the hamburger joint would get creative in his marketing and pricing to sell more hamburgers. He might trim costs operationally but not at the expense of selling as many hamburgers as he and his help could flip. Why the difference? The hamburger joint can go out of business. The U.S. Postal Service, being immune to risk, cannot.

Just like the nation’s postal service, if enacted, government-run health care will eventually have to limit access to services in an attempt — however vain — to contain costs.

There are plenty of other examples showing why government shouldn't be running anything as important as health care. Two quick examples: Medicaid and Medicare.

If we need another example, all we need to do is look at Detroit, a shining example of decades of liberal Democrat policies.

It's an economic basket case, much like Michigan, only more so. It's population is half what it was at its peak. Entire neighborhoods are abandoned, like modern day ghost towns. While some might blame the downturn in the economy, and particularly the auto industry, for its decline, plenty of other American cities have seen their primary industry or industries disappear, but they have thrived in spite of it. But Detroit's government has made sure that wouldn't happen, killing off any chance for economic revival.

Detroit is a sump of corruption, high taxes, and tangles of red tape. Public schools are mostly warehouses for poor minority kids (provided those kids even show up for school). Crime, principally drug-fueled, is endemic. The middle classes — mostly white, but not all — have long voted with their feet, seeking safety and stability in Detroit’s suburbs or by scooting off to Sun Belt locations.

Consider the universals in government failure. The order will vary from failure to failure, but here goes: 1) corruption; 2) waste and fraud; 3) ballooning costs, higher taxes, and mountains of red tape; 4) sorry management with little or no attention to the bottom line; 5) few (if any) penalties for failure; and 6) big time union involvement, which factors adversely into any of the first five elements.

With all the manifest failure, what’s Detroit’s liberal establishment’s response? Does the establishment make a mea culpa, renouncing the policies and programs that have laid low Detroit? Is pro-growth/pro-family reform — not the cockeyed liberal variety — on the lips of Detroit leaders? Where are the big brooms to sweep corruption out from every nook and cranny of government? Why aren’t Detroit’s leaders standing up to the unions and telling them in no uncertain terms that their days of privilege are over?

And just like Detroit, when government-run health care begins to fail, how will Democrats respond? Will Democrats own up to their failure or will they concoct a bunch of government-centered fixes? When those fixes don’t work, as liberal fixes haven’t worked in Detroit, then what will remain for Democrats to do? Smartly manage government-run health care’s decline and failure?

Despite this and plenty of other examples, the Democrats insist only their way – the Big Government way - can possibly 'save' health care in the US. Never mind that a large majority of the American people don't want this monstrosity, though they do want some kind of health care reform. Never mind that government has a very poor track record managing anything. And the bigger the thing it manages, to poorer the job it does. Since health care is one-sixth of our economy, I expect it to do an exceptionally poor job of it. All we'll get out of this deal is poorer quality health care at many times the existing cost.

How is it again the Democrats expect us to be happy about this? Actually, they don't. They want us to stay home, shut up, and do what they tell us to do because they're the only ones qualified to make our decisions for us.

Yeah. Right.

3/14/2010

Thoughts On A Sunday

Heavy rain arrived last night, bringing with it high winds and rapidly melting snow. Some of the Weather Guys™ have predicted as much as 4 inches of rain in the southern part of New Hampshire and 3 inches expected here at Lake Winnipesaukee before it's all over.

With the above average temps we've been seeing the past week or so and the rains expected over today and tomorrow, I expect Ice Out on Lake Winnipesaukee to be early this year. But there's at least one person disagreeing with me.

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You did remember to set your clocks ahead, didn't you?

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Constitutional questions about the so-called “Slaughter Rule” have been raised, meaning the machinations of the House leadership to shove ObamaCare down the throats of the American public may come to naught. In effect the rule would allow the House leadership to declare, without a vote by the House members, that a bill has been deemed to have passed. But under Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution a bill must be passed by a recorded vote.

But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. (emphasis added)

It is apparent to anyone watching the Democrats are willing to do anything they need to do to pass ObamaCare, even if it means violating the Constitution to it. I have a feeling they believe the ends justifies the means, even if the means comes down to violating their oaths of office and, in effect, flipping their constituents the bird.

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You have got to be kidding me.

“I thought hand-knit items were supposed to be warm.”

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Wizbang shows us an indisputable act of honor.

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Skip reminds everyone that New Hampshire is a hot bed of retail politics at the local, state, and federal level. For dyed-in-the-wool Granite Staters politics is a participant sport, one to be avoided by the politically uninformed.

Every four years those aspiring to the presidency find that out the hard way, being forced to go out among the voters here if they want to even have a chance of gaining support and votes. The 'modern' method of lots of media buys with slick TV and radio promos, pretty campaign signs and billboards dotting the landscape doesn't work here.

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The trusty Ford F150 4X4 made a trip to the dealership yesterday to have a dragging rear brake replaced. They took care of it quickly (and under warranty) and I was back on the road in only two hours. It would have been even shorter but they had to wait 90 minutes for the new caliper to arrive from the parts depot.

(Shameless Commercial Plug: The Ford F150 is now the Official Pickup Truck of Weekend Pundit.)

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How stupid is this?

The New York state legislature is moving to ban restaurants from using salt in cooking. Oh yeah, like that's really going to set well with chefs and patrons. What's next, red meat, nuts, and sweeteners?

(H/T And Rightly So)

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Eric the Viking has more thoughts and links about the Democrats' end run around the Constitution in trying to promote the so-called “Slaughter Rule” in an effort to push through ever more unpopular ObamaCare.

As Eric comments:

What does it mean for the country when one party, working against the will of the people, decides to change the rules as they go along? It's the seed of tyranny.

Of course they'll use the excuse that it's for the good of the people, even if the people are too stupid to know it. But that excuse has been used by political elites for thousands of years to justify imposition of dictatorial rule.

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Cap'n Teach asks the question that must be asked: “How'd those coffee parties go?”

My take on them? Classic FAIL.

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I've always found this misunderstanding of statistics to be indicative of the ignorance of too many of the people we elect.

There’s an old story — not apocryphal, unfortunately — in which a politician is heard to moan:

50% earn less than the median income. Something needs to be done!

The median income is the point at which 50% of people earn less, 50% more. The median household income in the United States is roughly $50,000. Half of all households make more than this, half less.

And no matter how high household incomes rise, 50% of them will earn less than the median and 50% more. But somehow President Obama seems to think he can change that.

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Color me unsurprised.

Europeans don't like President Obama. Considering he has a knack for insulting our allies and pandering to our common enemies, it's no wonder he isn't well liked. I wonder if any Europeans find themselves missing Dubya yet?

(H/T Pirate's Cove)

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And that the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the rains are falling, the snow and ice are melting, and where winter is slowly fading away.

3/13/2010

How To Fix It

Being an engineer and a long time amateur radio operator I have always liked seeing an interesting innovation used to fix a problem, whether the fix is temporary or permanent. I've used unorthodox fixes in both my vocation and avocation over the years. It's also fun seeing how others have dealt with solving problems with only the materials they had on hand.

That being said, I found a blog devoted entirely to showing interesting jury-rigged fixes to everyday problems.

(A big thanks to Eric the Viking)

3/11/2010

Another Verizon Deal That Should Be Turned Down

It appears Frontier Communications has fallen further under the spell of Verizon's sales pitch, with the sale of Verizon's Oregon assets to Frontier being OK'd by Oregon's PUC.

But not everything is rosy. At least someone in one state is questioning the wisdom of the sale in light of the fate of other small rural-service telcos that bought what Verizon was selling.

The State Journal-Register newspaper in Springfield reports that [Administrative Law Judge] Lisa Tapia said in a 46-page report that allowing Frontier to purchase the Verizon lines in Illinois “will diminish Frontier’s ability to perform its duties to provide adequate, reliable, efficient, safe and least-cost public utility service.”

--snip--

Unfortunately for Frontier, they are caught up in the back wash of Verizon’s other local exchange divestments. Both FairPoint and Hawaiian Telecom completed similar transactions, and are both now in bankruptcy.

Both FairPoint and Hawaiian Telecom paid far too much for the assets they bought.

In northern New England FairPoint bought an increasing share of a decreasing market, always a formula for disaster. Wireline customers have been shedding themselves of traditional landlines and using either cell phones or VoIP services from their local cable companies for some time, both of which have been competitively priced compared to FairPoint. FairPoint lost over 13% of their customers since they took over operations from Verizon. And because of FairPoint's financial difficulties, its promise to expand broadband service to at least 95% of its service area has fallen by the wayside.

The best thing Illinois could do for telephone customers is to run from the Verizon-Frontier deal. In the end the only one such a deal helps is Verizon. Everyone else will be screwed. Frontier doesn't have the financial wherewithal to handle such a deal and will end up in the same situation as FairPoint and Hawaiian Telecom – in bankruptcy. That helps no one...except the lawyers.

3/10/2010

...Until You Run Out Of Other People's Money

It is quite obvious the one course University of California students protesting against tuition hikes have not taken but desperately need is Economics 101. The UC system-wide protests highlight the financial crisis facing California, a state verging on being forced into federal receivership because every effort to resolve the its financial problems has failed.

Taxes are sky high and getting higher. Revenues are falling off. Unemployment is over 12%. Taxpayers and businesses are leaving in growing numbers. Union compensation and pensions have reached unsustainable levels and are still climbing. Is it any wonder California has become a financial basket case? How can the students of the UC system expect the state to be able to fund the system when they don't have the money to do so? Do they really believe that just by making demands and throwing mass temper tantrums the state will somehow find a source of funding they haven't already taxed to death? Obviously they do. And by doing so they have displayed their economic ignorance. They don't understand: Their politicians have sold them a bill of goods and the time to 'settle up' has finally come.

3/08/2010

What A Scumbag

People like this deserve to be horsewhipped.

[W]hen I see a story like this, I don't want to hear about a "plea bargain." I don't want to hear about "parole." I don't want to hear about "what a good mother she is."

I'd rather hear about to which part of the Gates of Hell she'll be chained.

From the NY Daily News:

A heartless Queens woman was arrested for crippling her 11-month-old English bulldog after witnesses caught her on video beating the pooch with a shovel, officials said.

The young bulldog, named Spike, had been abused repeatedly over the past few months.

During his short life, Spike has sustained a hip fracture, a broken leg, three broken teeth and injuries to his ears, according to ASPCA Assistant Director Joseph Pentangelo.

The pup, which is being treated at the ASPCA hospital, is also virtually blind in his right eye.

ASPCA investigators were called to Aguilar's house on Feb. 24 after witnesses reported hearing a dog crying.

One of the witnesses used a camera phone to tape the abuse, also capturing Spike's howls of pain. Aguilar is seen throwing Spike to the ground and then slamming him with a snow shovel.

[The ASPCA] discovered her husband had taken the dog to veterinarians 12 times in the past seven months for treatment.
If you get a pet, and you have no intention of treating it with kindness and getting any self-fulfillment out of it, then, WHY. GET. A. PET?

The story also includes the video of Spike being beaten by his owner.

I could not bring myself to watch it.

The thought of anyone abusing any of the feline members of this household makes me want to reach for the Mossberg 930 12-gauge Autoloader.

3/07/2010

Thoughts On A Sunday

It's hard to believe that only a couple of weeks ago ice fishing bobhouses dotted the lake. On Saturday I saw only one between Alton Bay and Governor's Island. Today it was gone. The ice is looking mushy and dark blue here and there, a sign that the ice is thin. A view from one of our favorite hilltops showed a lot of blue ice across the lake.

Yesterday's and today's temps in the mid-50's and temps in the mid to upper 40's over the next few days or so will speed the melting and break up of the ice. If the weather holds I expect Ice Out will be declared early this year, occurring in late March or early April. (Ice Out is defined as when the M/S Mount Washington cruise vessel can make all five ports of call on the lake – Weirs Beach, Alton Bay, Wolfeboro, Center Harbor, and Meridith – which usually occurs in mid April.)

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BeezleBub was back at work at the farm for the first time since vacation, working at the farm's saw mill cutting timbers for a new pavilion at Farmer Andy's farm stand. Construction will start next month, meaning BeezleBub will then use the timbers he cut this weekend to assemble the post and beam frame of the pavilion.

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It seems the Left is trying to link just about anything bad that happens anywhere to the TEA party movement, including the Pentagon shooter, Amy Bishop, and the Chilean earthquake.

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As the saying goes when it comes to scandal or corruption, follow the money. When it comes to AGW skeptics, they receive a small fraction of the funding of the AGW faithful receive, and from the same sources.

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Speaking of following the money, we should look closely at the Tides Foundation, “which is one of the original “philanthropic” donation launderers for donors who don’t want to be tied to fringe activist groups.”

The list of donors and recipients is illuminating and makes one wonder how some of these organizations and businesses can support organizations that do not have our country's best interests at heart and are working to damage as much of our economy as they can, all in the name of 'fairness' and 'justice'.

(H/T Instapundit)

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A comment to neoneocon's post about whether Obama has already done irreversible damage to America brings up a point that few may have thought about.

Neo’s point is valid but Obama damages us in a more insidious direct fashion. At the end of the day what constrains both foriegn and domestic policy is money. Nothing new, that goes back thousands of years.

Obama is removing future options by burning up our capital actively managing the private sector’s participation in the economy and racing through our credit by ramping up the deficit.

If he wants to remove any possibility of America doing anything here or overseas all he needs to do is bankrupt the nation, and that appears where he's leading us.

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Here's yet another preview of what we can expect in the way of health care if Obama gets his way.

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The Weekly Standard has their own take on the AGW crowd being in denial about ClimateGate and the continuing disintegration of AGW theory. (I particularly like the magazine cover illustration, finding it appropriate.)

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Now I'm off to watch the Oscars.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the ice is melting away, the bobhouses are gone, and thoughts of boating now intrude.

3/06/2010

Town Meeting Season Winding Down

Mid-March is usually the end of Town Meeting season here in New Hampshire.

Here in our small town Tuesday is the second session of our town meeting, where residents will vote on list of warrant articles that cover everything from town and school district budgets, capital reserve funds and bond issues, to zoning changes and voter petitions. It's also town elections, where a number of citizens, including yours truly, are seeking offices ranging from cemetery or library trustee, road agent, school board, to selectman.

Many towns have tried to hold the line on spending, keeping both the town and school portions of their budgets under tight control. Some have even managed to cut their budgets, like our town, knowing that with today's economy their residents are struggling to make ends meet. Unfortunately a few towns are acting as if the good times are still here, attempting to expand their spending despite the poor economy.

Regardless, the people will be speaking, letting their town leaders know what they think via the ballot box and whether they really want to spend the extra $20,000 for the chihuahua dog park.

As the saying goes, if you don't attend town meeting or vote, you have no right to complain about your taxes.