Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Let's Make a Deal

This morning's Democrat & Chronicle had a few items regarding health care reform that I found interesting.

The big headline story was that NY may benefit from the health care reform. The story outlined Senator Schumer's "behind the scenes efforts" to get some breaks for NY seniors. I guess the Senator was stung by criticism that other Senators had gotten breaks for their states, while our Senators sat on their hands. Still, one wonders if so many Senators sought relief from the provisions of the bill, is it a good bill and who is actually paying for it?

There was a smaller story about the inquiry by a number of State Attorney's General, regarding the constitutionality of the deals that several of the states received in order to secure the votes of Senators from those states. This story dovetailed with a LTE from a former teacher who also questioned the constitutionality of the deals. He pointed out that he had always taught his students that the Constitution required [taxes] to be levied uniformly across all of the states. It does make you wonder how people in states which did not get any breaks will feel about the whole exercise.

I guess we should be happy that our Senator sought his bribe "behind the scenes" instead of openly and, apparently, shamelessly, like Senator Nelson did. Although, according to Majority Leader Reid, it does not speak well of any Senator who did not get whatever goodies they wanted added to the bill.

I am beginning to think that our current government is reminiscent of the court of Louis XVIth.

Note To Readers

I have been getting some automated "spam-like" comments on the blog posts. I believe this is done with automated software, apparently in the hope that someone will try the links that are included in the "comment".

As such, I added word verification. It is a small added step that requires you to retype a word on the screen to have your comment posted. Because this requires human intervention, it should stop the automated spam.

I'm sorry for the inconvenience.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Health Care Reform Question

The Senate Health Care Bill appears to be a Saturday Night Live caricature of legislation. It appears that there were goodies added on to it (or subtracted from it) to make enough sure that there were 60 votes to get it through.

As a New Yorker, I do have one question. I understand that there were "carve outs" (which will allow states to avoid the new costs of this bill) or other "sweeteners" (you and me would call them bribes) for states like Nebraska, Louisiana, Montana, Vermont, Louisiana, and Florida. So, what's up with our Senators? Why didn't they hold out for some kind of break for New York?

Maybe that's what Chuck Schumer was trying to do when that "*****" made him get off the phone!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Post Newspapers Follow D&C Lead

It appears that the Messenger-Post Newspapers are headed in the same direction as the D&C. First the D&C got smaller and cut its op-ed pages in half. Now the Messenger-Post has followed suit. Too bad, the op-ed columns were the main reason to read the paper.

From the looks of the latest edition of the Gates-Chili Post, the MP papers are also following the D&C in another way, namely as GOP bashers. Between the guest essay by Democrat County Legislators Esposito and O'Brien and Mark McIntee's partisan LTE, it seems clear that the tone of the editorial page at the MP Newspapers is headed decidedly anti-GOP.

Its OK by me though. The all-out effort by the D&C to keep "GOP scandals" in the paper and the Democrats one issue campaigning was totally ineffective. I guess they did not learn any lessons.

I'm a little surprised at the Post, however. If they took a more balanced approach, they might actually attract some of the readers fleeing from the D&C in droves. Instead they have chosen to be D&C lite. I'll keep reading....for the cuopons.

More Hot Air

The big Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen ended without any real agreement (thank goodness). The Club For Growth blog expressed satisfaction upon hearing President Obama declare the "agreement" the US reached with China, India, and Brazil as "meaningful". The CFG blogger noted that when politicians say that something is "meaningful" it means it really isn't.

But the real prize for telling it like it is goes to Mark Steyn for this article from the National Review Online. Steyn's takedown of the "climate hypocrites" is hilarious at the same time it is enraging.

Here is one excerpt:

"[The Prince of Wales] was also in Copenhagen last week, telling delegates that there were now only seven years left to save the planet. Prince Charles is so famously concerned about the environment that he’s known as the Green Prince. Just for the record, his annual carbon footprint is 2,601 tons. The carbon footprint of an average Briton (i.e., all those wasteful, consumerist, environmentally unsustainable deadbeats) is 11 tons. To get him to Copenhagen to deliver his speech, His Highness was flown in by one of the Royal Air Force’s fleet of VIP jets from the Royal Squadron. Total carbon emissions: 6.4 tons. In other words, the Green Prince used up seven months’ of an average Brit’s annual carbon footprint on one short flight to give one mediocre speech of alarmist boilerplate."

Steyn has many more examples. Read it all.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Value For Our Dollars

The three or four of you who read this blog know that I am a bit of a critic of government spending. For many years, the GOP has been hanging its hat on being the party which will cut taxes. It is the party of smaller government, less entitlements, etc.

Still, as I have written a few times before, what we need most is smart government, not small government. We need to cut taxes but we also need to remember that taxes are the price for the things we get from government. And, by the way, there are some very good things that some of our governments give us. What ought to be every politician's goal is to get government to spend money only on the things it should legitimately do and to tax and spend only those amounts which are reasonable and proper to provide those vital and/or desirable services.

One of the products/services provided by government which is of vital importance is education. Unfortunately, school spending is completely out of control. Education is vital, but the results we get do not appear to match the money we spend. My kids are students in the Gates-Chili School District. I am a fairly satisfied taxpayer and customer of the District. Yet I know that the price I pay for what my kids are getting is higher than it should be.

I attended my daughter's band concert on Wednesday. It was wonderful, as usual. The music programs at Gates-Chili are high-end, and the music directors and instructors there are first-rate, dedicated educators. I am not so convinced about all aspects of the operation, however. Every organization can stand some retrenchment. But, to hear teacher's union representatives speak, you would think that they would almost prefer exile to Siberia than to endure their daily unappreciated and allegedly, underpaid toil. Still, good teachers are worth a lot. The trick is to encourage the good ones and only get rid of the under performers.

All of us in government should strive to give value to the taxpayers for their dollars. The G-C music department should be an inspiration. I am confident that the tax dollars that go to music education at G-C are well spent. I also know that when cuts come, it will be programs like music that are often first to go, even though they are high on the value added scale.

We all as taxpayers should demand responsible spending, but we should also be willing to pay the fair price for the services we want. We need to avoid painting with too broad a brush. Its not correct to say vote against every incumbent and to vote against any spending. We need to take the time to find the good guys and reward them and to identify the bad guys and weed them out. We can't just throw up our hands and say a pox on them all.

If we want responsible spending, stable taxes and quality government services, we have to take action to get them.