Guest Blogs

Thursday
Feb082007

THE REAGAN YARDSTICK

By Ed Mosca

Some conservatives contend that, among the Republican contenders for President, Mitt Romney is the most like Ronald Reagan because of Romney’s stands on abortion and gay marriage. For sure Reagan was opposed to abortion, and it’s safe to say that if Reagan were still with us today he would pronounce marriage the union of one man and one woman. And, unlike Romney, he wasn’t a flip-flopper on abortion. But if Reagan were running for President today, I don’t think that these issues would be the centerpieces of his campaign.

In Reagan’s first inaugural address he spoke these famous words: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” The “present crisis” that Reagan was referring to was the double-digit inflation and double-digit unemployment he had inherited from Jimmy Carter. Reagan was not proposing anarchy as he made clear later in the address: “Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it's not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work--work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.”

The problem with government in 1980 was that it had grown too big. Again quoting Reagan’s first inaugural: “It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government.” We had allowed government to grow too big because we mistakenly believed that limited government and free markets had become antiquated: “From time to time we've been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people.” Reagan rejected this view because he understood that America had achieved greatness “because here in this land we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before.” And so he cut taxes and he slashed regulations. And by letting us keep more of our money and have more control over our lives, he made possible the greatest economic turnaround ever seen.

Romney clearly doesn’t share Reagan’s view about the role of government. His signature achievement as Governor of Massachusetts was a universal health care plan that compels everyone that government deems can afford it to purchase health insurance. Government forcing me to buy health insurance when I would rather invest the money in the stock market is exactly the type of heavy-handed government intrusion in our lives that was anathema to Reagan. Romney’s plan would also be anathema to Reagan because it is based on the misbegotten notion that government can solve any problem. Romney claims his plan is not “Hillarycare,” and would simply insure the uninsured. However, as the Cato Institute’s Mike Tanner has pointed out, “compulsory, government-defined insurance opens the door to even more widespread regulation of the health care industry and political interference in personal health care decisions. The result will be a slow but steady spiral downward toward a government run national health care system.” Romney, therefore, is no Reagan.

Someone else who is no Reagan is John McCain. His signature legislative achievement is the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. This law involves government elites in Washington D.C. deciding who gets to run ads before elections and what these ads can say. This is precisely the sort of governmental arrogance and overreaching that Reagan abhorred. And, like Romney, McCain is a flip-flopper on conservative issues. In 2001, he opposed Bush’s tax cuts, perhaps the only Reagan-like thing Bush has done as President. Now he wants to make the tax cuts permanent.

Ironically, the candidate furthest to the left on abortion and gay marriage, Rudy Giuliani, is the candidate who most adheres to Reagan’s view of the role of government. As Mayor of New York City, he reformed a broken welfare system, opposed racial quotas, cut taxes and was an advocate for school choice. That’s a pretty Reagan-like record, if you ask me.

Of course, Reagan would part company with Giuliani over abortion and gay marriage. But under the federal constitution these are supposed to be state, not federal, issues. And Giuliani has said that he would nominate judges like Reagan appointee Antonin Scalia, who would return these issues to the states. So, for practical purposes, the difference between Giuliani and Reagan on the social issues may be less than meets the eye.

Monday
Feb052007

NO SHAME AND NO SENSE

By Edward C. Mosca

In an Op-Ed in the February 2nd Union Leader, ersatz Republican Mark Carter called for a grand compromise on education funding: a constitutional amendment that allows “targeted aid,” but that also “allows for legal action should the state ever abuse its obligation to our communities.” Now I’m just as opposed to obligation abuse as the next person, but think for a minute about what this lovely euphemism means. It means that whenever anyone doesn’t like the result produced by democracy, he can run into court and sue to get his way.

Ersatz Republican Carter claims that this “preserves the checks and balances power of the judicial branch.” What poppycock. The way that our system of government is supposed to work is that in matters of policy, and that includes education funding, we are supposed to attempt to persuade each other, and then decide the issue by voting. We are not supposed to sue each other.

Carter’s amendment would also write into the State Constitution the canard that the quality of public education is determined by the amount we spend on public education as it requires the State to provide financial assistance whenever a school district lacks the “fiscal capacity” to provide the “opportunity for an adequate education.” This myopic approach ignores that a variety of factors affect education performance besides spending. These include the competence of administrators, the quality of teachers, the talent and motivation of students and the involvement of parents. Because of these variables, the cost of an “adequate education” varies not just by school district, but by student. This means that in order to reliably calculate the cost of an “adequate education” the calculation must be done on a student-by-student basis and the calculation must account for the particular effect of non-financial variables on each student’s performance.

For this and other reasons, defining an “adequate education” and determining its cost is the proverbial fool’s errand. Yet Carter would make this fool’s errand a permanent part of the State Constitution. What Carter and his ilk apparently don’t understand is that the State does not have an education funding problem it has dysfunctional government.

We have thrown billions of additional dollars at our public schools since Claremont II was issued in 1997. According to the U.S. Census, on a per pupil basis we were the 17th biggest spending state in the country for 2003-2004. Yet there is no evidence that this spending has increased the quality of public education in New Hampshire, and we keep hearing that we need to spend more. Education funding is not a problem in the sense that the public schools are not getting enough money. They are getting more than enough by any objective standard. Education funding is a problem only in the sense that no amount of spending will ever satisfy some folks.

The real problem is that the members of the representative branches of State government have been running around like chickens with their heads cuts off for a decade --convening commissions, hiring consultants and holding hearings-- all because they have been told that the Supreme Court has said that it is their constitutional “duty” to do so. Have these folks no shame or sense?

Why in the world are we letting five lawyers in black robes drive the State’s education policy? They have no special training in setting education policy or budgets and far less regular exposure than elected officials to the conditions in the public schools. They must wait for the appropriate lawsuit to set education policy, whereas legislative bodies can change education policy as often as necessary. They are limited to listening only to the litigants’ hired-gun “expert witnesses,” whereas legislative bodies can listen to anyone who might be helpful. Most importantly, unlike elected officials, judges in New Hampshire are unaccountable to those affected by their decisions.

There will always be those, like ersatz Republican Carter, who maintain that the democratic process hasn’t produced an adequate education. But even assuming this is true, there is no reason to believe, as Carter and his ilk assert, that making education policy in the courtroom would improve things. As Churchill said, democracy is the worst form of government, except for all others that have been tried. Making education policy in the courtroom, which is all that Carter’s grand compromise would accomplish, is as likely to give us an adequate education as Soviet style central planning is likely to give us an adequate economy.

 

Friday
Feb022007

Its About Freedom

by Bill McNally

HB58 is really about Freedom.  Rep. Timothy Robertson introduced HB58 "requiring municipalities to establish volunteer civilian police review boards". Public hearings were held on 1/18/07 in LOB Room 301. Only ONE civilian, yours truly, was present to testify in opposition.  

I found a general lack of knowledge from police officers regarding 'police review boards'. During my testimony in Concord I suggested to the Committee that they take a look at "Behind The Big News" video tape I submitted.  "Mr. Chairman and members, let me provide two (2) sounds bites to encourage you to watch this video.

First incident on tape shows ABC News filming a GM pick-up truck exploding on impact and an un-named fireman at the scene contacts GM and told them ABC had placed incendiary device under the GM truck, punctured a hole in the gas tank and installed an undersized gas cap. ABC was forced to admit this 'criminal' reporting but only said "It was a bad idea from the start and that is our new policy". Hello? 

Second incident was the Rodney King 'beating' by the LAPD. This committee will see what happened  prior to what the general public and you saw on National Television - to wit - that Rodney King was hit by a stun Gun and tackled by four police officers and he threw them off and rose up off the ground and attacked the police - the rest is history.  The jury saw what the News Media failed to show and acquitted all police officers.

The committee was fortunate to have Rep. Mark (Captain, Salem Police) Pearson as a committee member having been recently elected. My sources tell me he gave a masterful testimony to his Committee in closed session in opposition to HB58 - the Bill was voted down by an 18-0 vote as "inexpedient to legislate" which effectively kills HB58.

Friday
Jan262007

It's A Civil Matter!

by Tom Suteliffe

I don't know if you have experienced this or not, but likely you will.  When you ask your local police to enforce a civil law of some sort, for trespass or such, and they advise you that "It's a civil matter, you''ll have to get a court order!" Does this ring a bell?  Have you heard this before?  It seems that this is the way to pass the buck of inaction.  It seems that this virus has infected the entire municiple police forces statewide.  Not only that, but the Sheriff's departments as well don't enforce civil law .  In fact you can't get any civil laws enforced in New Hampshire by anyone.  Why, because they only enforce criminal law!  

But wait, now you go to court and get an order..... but they still won't enforce the order..... why, because the order doesn't state specifially how they are to enforce the court's order!  I guess this is their way  of looking out for the public by keeping down your tax rate for their services.  Can you believe it?  Well, that's the way it is.  There are no laws on the books presently, that specifically state who is to enforce any of the civil laws!  Most citizens think that the police are there to enforce the laws, but they aren't.  They are there to enforce criminal law only.  Same goes for the Sheriff's Department. 

Now, is your chance to help change this.  The Criminal Justice & Public Safety Committe is conducting hearings to rectify this.  If you have had any of the aforementioned experiences with enforcement of civil law in New Hampshire, they want to hear from you.  HB 187 is an act establishing a study committee to determine which law enforcement agencies are responsible for enforcing civil judgements.  The hearing will be in Room #204 in the Legislators' Office Building in Concord January 30th, 2007 @ 1:00pm.  Your input will help to correct this untenable condition.  Remember, be civil!

Wednesday
Jan242007

THE MYTH

By John Clark

The "Pledge" and the "New Hampshire Advantage" are a steady drumbeat every two years, and at every other opportunity, repeated 'ad nauseum' to a point of total ignorance. As several recent letters appearing in the newspapers have pointed out, even basic knowledge of tax structures clearly indicate the fallaciousness of the premise for either notion.

Federal Income tax is paid by everyone in these United States of America based on annual income, and on a sliding scale increasing as income increases. Other taxes such as State Income tax and local Property taxes are "offsets" or deductions from the Federal Income Tax liability. Put very simply, a State Income tax would not affect the "after-tax" pocket book of either individual or business tax-payers. The Federal Government would be the big loser.

Another loud cry heard whenever School spending is questioned, is that whilst "the Feds" mandate so-called education programs, the funding does not follow. So, if a State Income Tax were to be called a State Education Tax, and the raised amount was really spent ONLY on schools as direct education, then that "bogeyman" could finally be put to rest. The State Constitution would need to be amended to ensure that Property taxes receive total benefit of such an Education tax.

At least twenty six percent of people do not pay Federal Income Tax, various deductions move them below the threshold, All New Hampshire residential and commercial property owners pay Property taxes, Tax-Exempt properties do not pay either local or federal tax. The burden on home -owners in New Hampshire is reaching a crisis for all levels of income.

This question has nothing to do with Republican or Democrat, Thinking people must agree that a better balanced tax system is urgently required. A State Education tax based upon a percentage of Federal Income tax would enable the "New Hampshire Advantage" to be neither a State Sales Tax, or having to sell your house to buy food !