Richard Barnes

A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government. – Thomas Jefferson



Harry Potter Mania Comes to NH

This week I find myself completely geeked out in the whole Harry Potter mania between the new movie that just came out last week and the last book in the series coming out this coming weekend.

I must confess I am a little embarrassed by my excitement but I find that I'm not alone.  One of my co-workers was wearing her Harry Potter quditch jersey the other day, while others have been discussing the finer details of the new movie.  A political forum for the Free State Project that I read frequently has a very active thread discussing theories of how the series will end.  Even the Nashua Telegraph has Harry Potter contests on their Forum and 96.9 FM talk radio has turned to the topic of Harry mania.  It seems everyone young and old is hung up on Harry.

Given the hype I thought I would try to get a conversation going to address a couple questions...

A) Where is the best place in NH to go for the book sale party?

B) What speculations does everyone have regarding what will happen?

C) Why has the Harry Potter series become such a cult phenomenon?


Types of Laws

In a recent discussion about speeding laws it was brought up whether or not we should be able to choose which laws we follow and which we do not.  Clearly the answer is no, we should follow ALL laws.  But as in the case of speeding there are laws we just can not safely follow.  In my article "I Can't Drive 55" I posted a link to a video showing a group of people who did actually follow the speed limit on a 5 lane highway.  The result was a dangerous situation which actually caused at least one accident.  Laws if followed should not create danger, they should prevent it.

In the discussion it came up that there are several different types of laws... good laws, bad laws, stupid laws etc.  I would like to examine this theory and try to identify examples of each.

1) Good Laws - These laws are laws most if not all of us agree with.  Outlawing murder for instance is something we all agree is a good thing hence a good law.

2) Bad Laws - A bad law could be viewed by some as a good law but others disagree with it and see no reason for it.  Outlawing minor drugs such as marijuana for instance.  Pot does no harm to those around you (especially if you swallow it in food) so the only "victim" in such a crime is the one who willingly broke the law.  In other words it is a victimless crime.

3) Stupid Laws - The blue laws on the books in many towns would fall into this classification.  Outlawing selling alcohol outside of certain hours for instance.  In NY when I worked as a cashier we could not sell beer before noon on Sunday and it was based off the register's clock since that is what would be audited.  I actually had to make customers wait 5 or 10 minutes standing in the front of the store with their purchases because they wanted to buy a 6 pack of beer as if that 10 minutes really made some difference somewhere.

4) Laws that cannot be followed - A perfect example of this are speed limits.  No one drives under the posted limits nor can you safely drive under the posted limits.  I actually tried driving the posted limit on the Turnpike this week and was nearly run off the road by people cutting others off to get around me and I was a single car in the "slow" lane.

I suppose you could add a number 5 to this list in regards to laws such as the income tax which people question whether or not truly exist.  I would call those X-Files Laws.

If I had my wish I would love to see the government just for a single year instead of putting their attention to new laws, focus solely on either repealing laws that fall under 2, 3 and 4 or at the very least correcting them and cleaning them up.


Top Ten Reasons to Support Ron Paul

I've been "unofficially" supporting Ron Paul for a while now but I've decided to come out so to speak and announce my support.  In reading up on the candidates I found more and more reasons to support Ron Paul while other candidates in either party have been demonstrating more and more reasons not to vote for them.

What I'm also amazed at are those I've spoken to who are publicly supporting other candidates, most others seem very uninformed about who they are supporting or where their candidates actually stand on most issues.  I would think if you were going to hold a sign for someone or march in a parade on their behalf you would take the time to read more then just the buzz words on a campaign site and know who it is your supporting and why. 

Without getting into the negativity I will focus on the top ten reasons I'm supporting Ron Paul in the Primaries.

1) Ron Paul is fiscally responsible.  The  non-partisan group The National Taxpayers Union have voted him as a "Taxpayers Friend" multiple years and has their highest rating on over all political careers.  Of those running in 2008 only three candidates even made their list in their last rating and they were Ron Paul at 84%, Tancredo 80% followed by John McCain rated 78%.  In their most recent ratings only Congressman Flake 91% and Senators Sununu 91%, Kyl 87% and Demint 85% scored higher.  So of those running you cannot find anyone more fiscally responsible then Ron Paul.

2)  He doesn't support debit spending.  His record speaks for itself in that he has NEVER voted for an unbalanced budget.  Every year Ron Paul has returned a portion of his own annual budget to the US treasury.  How many other members of congress and senate can say that?

3) He has integrity.  While we see others in congress continue to vote themselves raises year after year, Ron Paul has NEVER voted to raise congressional pay.

4) He's never flip-flopped on Iraq, he voted against it from the start.  I will admit I supported the war to begin with as did most of America based on the belief that Iraq had WMDs.  Once it was proven they didn't we lost any true justification for being there.  Ron Paul believed from the start that they were of no threat to us based on the evidence he was given (which I would believe to be more than you or I would ever see) and has voted to keep us out from day one.

5) He doesn't believe the Federal Government should put a corporation in charge of our money.  The Federal Reserve is an outside corporation in charge of our nation's money which we pay them to borrow increasing our national debt.  Our Constitution (Article 1 Section 8) gives the Federal government the exclusive power to coin our money so we have no reason to essentially indebt ourselves to a corporation as we currently do, not to mention it is unconstitutional.  Ron Paul has proposed legislation to get us back to the gold standard and end this cycle of increasing debt to a corporation.

6) He believes in states rights.  On many issues our federal government has overstepped its bounds.  Ron Paul believes in giving the power back to each individual state to allow the people (not the government) to have more control over issues they feel are important.

7) Ron Paul supports the 2nd amendment and has never voted in support of unconstitutional gun restrictions.

8) Ron Paul is a good honest person.  He and his wife have been married for over 50 years and his personal life is very respectable.

9) He doesn't walk the party line.  Ron Paul ran for president as a Libertarian in 1988 against George HW Bush because he disagreed with the loose fiscal retraint of the Republican party at that time.

10) He has mass crossover appeal with supporters coming from all types; male/female, black/white, young/old, straight/gay, rich/poor, Democrat, Republican and Independent alike.  I was a little surprised showing up at a sign holding for Ron Paul when I saw someone I knew from Merrimack who is what I would consider a very left wing person.  He's registered Democrat, works a government job etc.  Yet, there he was holding a sign for Ron Paul.  He, as I, sees Ron as a person of integrity who has true values and morals and he agreed that Ron would be a great choice to have as president.

I would be interested in hearing the opinions of others, both positive and negative in regards to Ron Paul.


Note: The views expressed here are my own and may not represent the views of Ron Paul or his campaign.


Health Care Debate - What is the problem

I've been watching various discussion about health care with interest even though until now I've been fairly silent on the matter.

Dave Jarvis for instance wrote a couple interesting pieces such as the one found HERE.

The one thing I seem to notice in most of the discussions however intelligent they may be is that they lack one fundamental step... analysis of the problem itself.

Let me diverge from the topic for a moment to share a story with you.  I'm a computer programmer by trade and I occasionally have to troubleshoot errors in code.  Recently the team I work with was looking at a problem and were so focused on solving what they saw that they didn't step back and look at the whole picture.  A process that had been running fine for months suddenly started failing.  The reason they saw that the it was trying to pull down a huge file over the network and it only allotted fifteen minutes for the file to copy.  The proposed solution was to extend the amount of time it waits to process.  I had to put the breaks on this fix and ask everyone to look further at the process with me as it never occurred to them to question why suddenly the file it copied down was so big.  It turned out that a previous process in the chain broke causing duplicating in the data and the result was a file much bigger then it should have been.  Fixing the problem at the source corrected the resulting problems further down the chain of processes.

Getting back to health care that is what I think we've been missing.  Everyone sees little problems here and there and look for solutions to those individual problems but no one is looking at the entire picture.

In trying to determine the over all problems with our health care industry I was able to come up with a list of 7 key problems.  A 8th was later suggested to me as well.  They are as follows:

1) Prescription drugs sell for more money here then in other countries such as Canada.  In looking at this further we find that countries like Canada have government controls which fix the prices.  Drug companies as a result need to increase prices in the free markets to help recoup their initial investments into the research and development of these new drugs and treatments.  In other words, the actions of other countries create increased costs on us.  Now it may be suggested that we simply turn around and enact the same government policies restricting the costs companies can charge for the drugs.  I would ask you to think about that one a bit however.  Drug companies are no different then any other business in that their goal is to make money for themselves and their investors.  If a company after investing millions in research and development is told they have no markets in which they can recoup their investment then I would expect fewer and fewer would even attempt to do the initial research to begin with.

2) FDA restrictions increase the initial cost of a drug making it to the market.  It costs millions on top of the research and development costs to get a drug approved for sale in this country.  It also takes sometimes years before getting approval through the process.  These restrictions our government has put in place is why you often see life saving drugs for sale in other countries long before they become available here in the US.

3) FDA requires us to get prescriptions for many drugs that you can buy over the country in other countries.  This leads to higher costs because instead of being able to simply walk into a drug store and buying the pills you need you must see a doctor (added cost), then the doctor must file the correct paperwork, you then need to go to the pharmacy with that paperwork for a pharmacist to process and fulfill (additional added costs).

4) Government programs grossly over pay wasting money and increasing costs.  A friend of mine with a severely disabled child turned to the government for assistance with some of the costs associated with treatments and care of her child.  During which she began looking at the amounts they would cover for things like his wheelchair and other medical devices and then she priced how much it would cost her if she purchased the items herself directly.  In many cases she found she could get the items cheaper then what the government was paying.  As a result she started a group which monitors spending of Medicaid and Medicare programs to make sure they don't over spend.  Her reasoning was that if they spend $100 when they could have only spent $50 then that additional $50 isn't going to be available for someone else who many need it.  In reality we know when it comes to government they'll just take that additional $50 needed for someone else out of the pockets of the tax payers without much though. 

5) Drug companies after finding new life saving drugs apply and receive patents which prevent other companies from reverse engineering and selling cheaper generic versions of those same drugs.  This is a protection granted by Article 1 Section 8 of the US Constitution which states "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;"  Due to this clause in the Constitution we would be left with only two options to solve this.  Either lessen the amount of time drug companies are given exclusive rights or amend the Constitution.

6) Americans as a whole lead unhealthy life styles compared to most other countries.  We don't eat as well.  Our kids sit inside playing games instead of taking part in sports or other physical fitness activities.  Our obese society leads to more health problems.

7) Is an extension of 6, since fat unhealthy people have higher health risks they also have higher health costs.  The problem with this is that we don't want to discriminate so insurance companies rather then charging fat unhealthy people higher rates, instead spread the costs out to all of us.  Those of us who do eat well and do try to stay physically fit pay more.

8) As health care improves people are able to live longer resulting in more of a need for health care.  Where as a stroke or cancer would more likely have killed someone 50 years ago more people survive but in surviving need more treatments and rehabilitation.

But instead of looking at these core problems we look at offshoot problems such as the increasing medical insurance costs impacting our town budgets (which is a topic in and of itself that I will try to dive into over the next week or two) etc.   And solutions being proposed such as the communistic approach of HR 676 which is being sponsored by Kucinich among others do not truly look at all the problems.  It pushes to have the government seize all medical businesses in this country and convert them to non profit government entities.  Since the US government continues to prove it cannot handle education in this country I shiver to think of what it will do the the health care industry.  Not to mention that if I were the stock holder in a drug company I would be very concerned that the government could just strip me of my investment.

Look at the problems and really take a moment to think about them.  Government is the CAUSE not the solution for many issues we see here.  I'd be interested in hearing others thoughts on this as well as any additional root problems you may think I missed. 

*NOTE:  I worked in the Health care industry doing risk management and Medicaid and Medicare data analysis prior to moving to New Hampshire in the late 1990s. 


I Can't Drive 55

I started watching my speed recently in relation to the posted speed limits and I've grown ever more confident that speed limits as they stand now are ridiculous.  I would bet a nice steak dinner that not a person reading this actually drives the posted speed limits 100% of the time.  In fact I would like to share a couple observations...

Let's start by pointing out people do not drive the posted speed limits.  For instance, today I was riding down DW Highway in Merrimack in an area posted at 30 MPH during a high traffic time so the road was fairly bumper to bumper.  The car I was in was keeping pace with the car in front of me who in turn was keeping pace with the car in front of them and so on.  I even noticed a police cruiser traveling at the same pace as he too was within the pocket of traffic.  At that point I looked down to the speedometer and it read 45 MPH, 15 miles per hour over the speed limit yet every car on the road was going that rate.

On another occasion I was riding in a car backed up in a line of traffic because the leading car was going so slow on the one lane road.  The car I was in was already 4 cars back and there were more cars lining up behind me.  Again I looked to see how fast we were all traveling to led to such a "slowdown", the speedometer read 35 MPH... the posted speed limit was 30 MPH.

I also question why I-93 drops to 55 in Salem just before it switches from a two lane highway to a 3 lane highway which I would think could even more safely accommodate higher speed traffic, not to mention this is roughly 4 miles before it crosses over into MA which has their limit set back up to 65 MPH.  What is the logic other then creating an unnecessary speed trap to help generate revenue for the state?

In a video found HERE  a group of students actually choose to enact a case of civil obedience and on a five lane highway got five cars to actually drive the posted speed limit.  The reaction was people illegally passing in the breakdown lane (in one case actually hitting a broken down car to get around them).  Obeying the law created dangerous situation!

One driver, Larry Lemay is no longer willing to put up with this foolishness has filed a lawsuit against the state of NH.  His lawsuit is asking the state to actually do its job and research what a safe speed would be on all its highways and set it's limits appropriately instead of keeping them artificially low for the sake of having a cash cow which they can use to extract money unjustly from people.

My hat is off to Larry and I wish him the very best in his efforts!  In the meantime I am publicly requesting that people act out in civil obedience and FOLLOW THE LAW.  Maybe after enough of our state politicians find themselves stuck behind people actually following the law they will understand the need to increase the speed limit.

 This is nothing more then Government making criminals out of good honest people!