Thursday, March 31, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Author's Note: I wrote this a year ago after a winter trip to Yellowstone. It was a fabulous adventure, and I highly recommend you put it on your bucket list.
We had two guides who cooked our meals, cleaned up afterwards, and took us on ski tours. During the week we were at the yurt camp, there was only one other “camper”. Oregonian Peter Reader was 71 years old and a veteran of 32 marathons, so his overused knees would not allow him to ski. Consequently, we had a ski guide all to ourselves while Peter took to the snowshoe trails with the other guide. In Yellowstone in the winter, the roads are groomed, not plowed, so that only snowmobiles and motorized snow-coaches can travel the roads. Snowmobiles are limited to no more than ten in a group, with a licensed Yellowstone guide in the lead. They are not allowed to travel anywhere except on the roads. Snow coaches are regular vans fitted with skis and tracks similar to snowmobiles, and as a result, they can only go about 35 m.p.h.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
This is pure nonsense. The empirical evidence is incontrovertible. In every single economic sector where government has tried to regulate costs, costs have skyrocketed. And in every sector where government has abandoned its regulatory effort to control costs, costs have declined, often dramatically.
Remember the Interstate Commerce Commission? Established in the 1880’s, its purpose was to control costs in the trucking and rail industries. When the commission was scrapped by the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, trucking and rail costs plummeted, resulting in lower costs in every other economic sector that was dependent on rail and truck deliveries.
Similarly, the Civil Aeronautics Board regulated the cost of airline tickets. When the Airline Deregulation Act was passed under President Carter in 1978, plane fares were cut dramatically, and the American public took to the air in unprecedented numbers.
The Federal Communications Commission regulated the telephone monopoly, AT & T (“Ma Bell”). The Commission, far from representing consumers, protected Ma from anyone who tried to improve telecommunications service. For example, in 1957, a young entrepreneur tried to obtain permission from the FCC to market a product called a “Hush –A-Phone” a plastic device that made phone calls more private. With AT & T opposing the device, the FCC would not allow it to be marketed. It wasn’t until Ma Bell was broken up and the telephone industry de-regulated that rates went down dramatically, and as a result of competition, telecommunications technology took off. Today the quality and variety of telecommunications bears no resemblance to Ma Bell and her black rotary phones.
In each industry, labor and management opposed deregulation. Why? Because they both had a cozy relationship with regulators, and they preferred to retain that relationship rather than risk competition with customers they could not control. It is much easier to hire lobbyists and lawyers whose job it is to get to know the regulators and their staff and to persuade those regulators that proposed price hikes and stifling any competition both benefit the public.
Health care “reform” panels will not contain costs. The health care panel will end up operating like any government commission formed to control costs, no matter what their good intentions. The “experts” with whom the panel will deal will be from those sectors which are regulated. The public will not have an adequate voice in the process. The result will be higher costs, lack of innovation and lower quality health care.
What has been proven to lower costs and increase quality? The deregulation of airlines, trucking, rail and telecommunications provides the answer. Competition will lower the cost of health care and enhance the quality of health care. The Vermont legislature should be providing incentives for competition, like my earlier proposal, rather than trying to regulate costs with a system which has repeatedly been proven a failure.
Friday, March 25, 2011
- Stop the mortgage buyout program. Let the market do its job.
- Maintain mortgage guarantee programs that help low income households through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac but reduce the percentage of the mortgage guaranteed from the present 95% to a more realistic 85%, so that buyers have to put a realistic down payment on a home, and reduce the maximum guarantee amount from $750,000 mortgage to $300,000. There is no need to continue subsidizing people purchasing high priced homes.
- Continue low income housing tax credits.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
We visited my 96 year old Aunt, and she is an inspiration to women everywhere. She still has blonde bouffant hair, and is impeccably made up. Until a few weeks ago, she was driving her 1973 Mustang...and she is now reluctantly selling it to an enthusiastic 14 year old from California. She has a crystal clear memory, and a mischievous sense of humor. Fun to visit her and her family!
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Japan: Our ally is in a deep crisis. There is not enough, food, shelter or water. It would not be uncalled for, for the President to direct U.S. resources to organize a small-scale Marshall Plan and get food and water in there and direct our nuclear technicians to come up with a plan to help with the nuclear crisis. The President, instead made an offhand comment while making basketball picks, that while the rest of us were picking basketball brackets and were on the internet anyway, maybe we could go over to USAID and figure out how to help. I'm sorry, President Obama, I am too busy to worry about basketball - and you should be, too. It seems President Obama has moved on.
Libya: After several days of rebellion, the President announced that Quadafi should step down and he pledged support to the rebels. There was even talk of a no-fly zone. Now Quadafi has gained the upper-hand and is slaughtering the rebels and the U.S. and its leadership are no where in sight. President Obama has moved on.
Haiti: The media heralded Haiti as an opportunity for the President to show everyone that he was engaged and was going to handle the situation better than Bush handled Katrina. He made a statement about how the United States stood ready to help. Yet what have we done in Haiti? It is a year later and rubble still lines the streets, a million are homeless and they are still pulling bodies out of the rubble. President Obama has moved on.
Unemployment: President Obama on numerous occasions has said that unemployment was his number one focus. He said that the stimulus package would ensure that unemployment would not go over 8%. Yet here we are, over two years after that announcement with unemployment persistently above 9%. President Obama has moved on.
BP Oil Spill: The President pledged to do everything he could to prevent the devastation and damage, but when the governor called for permission to install booms, the President failed to respond and moved on.
Deficit reduction: President Obama pledged to work with Republicans and Democrats to focus on the fiscal crisis. However, he has yet to meet with Republicans and Democrats and even members of his own party are begging him to lead.
$4.00 Gallon Gas: The President has lamented the gas prices, but continues to fail to act on drilling permits in the gulf as directed by a federal court. Shell Oil has given up on drilling in Alaska due to regulatory delays. Another opportunity to lead, lost.
Healthcare overhaul: Even with his signature plan to overhaul the nation's healthcare system, the President was detached. He directed Congress to come up with a plan instead of proposing his own plan. As a result Obamacare is an incoherent mess.
What is the reason for the President's detachment on critical issues? Perhaps he enjoys the trappings of being President but not the work involved. Perhaps he is frustrated by the fact that he has to make decisions? Perhaps he doesn't like the fact that he has opposition in Congress. Perhaps he would rather be President of China. Whatever the reason, these critical times call for leadership and he is in a position to lead. The country needs him to lead and the world needs him to lead.
Then I came home and found a public television station broadcasting old footage of the folk singers of my youth singing freedom songs. I looked at those young people on the TV, now old and wrinkly like me, and wondered what they would think of their older selves supporting such constraints. To be sure, the members of the public service board and the soon to be created health care reform board are mostly well meaning and honorable. But it is government restraint on our freedom nonetheless.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
What effect will Sanders' campaign against the Smithsonian have on his Vermont constitutents? None. But that is not Bernie's goal. He wants his name in the media because he has already started his 2012 campaign, even if his name is attached to a silly subject. Vermonters deserve better than Silly Senator Sanders.
Friday, March 11, 2011
To be sure, there were other factors, including the recession, which suppressed demand, but the price of a barrel of oil, as demonstrated by the last month's spike, is based in part on psychology, and traders who realized the US would be drilling more oil domestically helped to drive down the price of oil so that it was only $35.00 a barrel when Pres. Obama was inaugurated. Pres. Bush's change in policy on oil drilling helped consumers at the gas pump. Pres. Obama should follow Pres. Bush's example, and open up more areas for oil exploration and drilling.
WEC has for years eschewed the use of inexpensive, reliable, and clean power from Vermont Yankee and instead has opted for more costly sources keeping rates high for its customers. The Coventry REC debacle is an example. The Public Service Board is conducting an investigation into this rate increase and will hold a public hearing on March 15 at 7:00 at the Old Brick Church in E. Montpelier. I hope the public will be there in force to demand that the rate increase be reversed. WEC should seek lowest cost sources of power for its customers.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
"Let me be clear. Although I heartily disagree with the action taken by the Wisconsin legislature, they were duly elected in the November election and are thus called to make difficult decisions. The way we make policy changes in America is through the democratic process of voting - not by violence or threats of violence. If the people of Wisconsin disagree with the actions of this legislature they may exercise their civic responsibility by voting in the next election."
This is an opportunity for the President to rise above partisanship and become the leader he was elected to be. Standing up for civility and democracy should not be a difficult decision.
Oh, for the days of the real flush. Who would have guessed thirty years ago that I'd be pining for the old days of the toilet? Fast forward to today. I have twins (aka the "twinkies") -- who are two and potty-trained -- and the two of them jockey over who gets "the Flush". Well, one day we were visiting a ski shop, which was really someone's office with a counter and stuff piled everywhere in apparent disarray. Of course the twinkies needed to use the potty and the man at the ski shop offered his bathroom. He warned, however, that the toilet was "cleaner than it looks". With that warning, I braced myself for the latest potty visit. Well, the toilet was indeed frightening looking, coated with black something -- not sure what it was. But little did I know the joy that was to come. When it came time for "the Flush", we were rewarded with a really satisfying forceful swish, swirl and resounding "glug", like the end of a sentence, and everything was gone -- just, plain gone. Oh, yes, now I remembered the toilet of yore. Those were the good old days -- back before the environmentalists' cry for less water, for the "efficient" toilet -- back when the toilet flushed and we didn't give it a second thought -- when we didn't even keep a plunger in the bathroom. When toilet troubles were rare, if unheard of. I would have happily taken that toilet home, black coating and all. Because today, in our modern house, I battle daily with our toilets. Gross, gross, gross, but a reality of my life. I have taught the children "one square is all you need, dearies". Oh yes, we are very conservative with those toilet paper squares. But it's all for naught with today's toilets. Every day I find myself with the plunger, plunging away (a fascination for the twinkies -- who knows what their memories will be when they grow old...) -- and incidentally -- old-fashioned plungers are completely ineffective with the modern environmentalist's toilet. Sadly, the toilets, and multiple flushes -- I am sure we use at least as much water on these flushes in the end -- occupy too much of my thoughts every single day. My husband Paul has had to purchase various advanced plumbing tools, which he often has to use on his arrival home from a long day at work. ("Welcome home, dear!"). So, I will gladly surrender my modern role of toilet-babysitter. For Mother's Day, we can skip all the niceties of flowers and chocolates. Just give me three old-fashioned toilets. Then I can get out of the plumbing business and get back to the job of mothering.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Here is what Mr. Schiller said about the Tea Party:
--"The Tea Party is fanatically involved in people's personal lives and very fundamental Christian--I wouldn't even call it Christian. It's this weird evangelical kind of move."
--"Tea Party people" aren't "just Islamaphobic, but really xenophobic, I mean basically they are, they believe in sort of white, middle-America gun-toting. I mean, it's scary. They're seriously racist, racist people."
This is yet another hilarious example of the Left behaving as they believe "strangers" i.e. the Great American Unwashed, behave. Trouble is, the vast majority of Tea Party folks have been far more polite and civilized than say, the "mostly white" protesters in Wisconsin.