AllenN's blog

What should journalists do?

Journalism has taken several big hits over the last ten or so years, but none bigger than the seismic shift from being impartial observers to being filters that try to shape the outcomes rather than report on them.

This might make sense to individual journalists who study something and then have a point of view, and then try to communicate that point of view through their reporting, but it is a dangerous turn for the profession--and our free society--when this becomes the norm. And it apparently has.

Debt-free college

Today's Wall Street Journal has an article on Hillary Clinton's shift from trying to reduce public college costs to free public college education (or debt-free public college education) for all students except those from rich families. This shift in her position is explained by her deal to get Bernie Sander's endorsement and to appeal to the Bernie voters.

Ted Cruz and the Battle of Khitomer

Yes, it's that time of the month...time for another Star Trek reference.

It has been too long, hasn't it? And today's article is about the improbable rise of The Donald and what the Republican establishment did wrong to enable this outcome. And, of course, a lesson learned from a Star Trek incident that happened hundreds of years in our (possible?) future.

What's not to love about negative interest rates?

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported today that negative interest rates seemed to be depressing spending and increasing savings in countries that adopted them, contrary to what economists had predicted. Consumers seem to view negative interest rates as a sign of market distress which made them nervous about spending. Economists were puzzled.

Trying to outlaw discrimination

When did "discrimination" become such a dirty word?

The word discriminate has several positive meanings in addition to the most-well-known negative one.

Someone who is picky and looking for the best quality can discriminate between the available options. And a manufacturer can add features called discriminators to set his products apart from the competition.

What President Obama should have said

Yesterday, President Obama answered a question about Donald Trump at a news conference, declaring the Republican nominee unfit for presidential office. Here's what he should have said instead:

After serious reflection, I have decided to make my opposition to Donald Trump's candidacy public, using the office of the presidency to interfere in a political race in a partisan way. This is a break with the traditional decorum, I know, but this election is too important to stay silent when the future of our country is at stake.

Muslim father of dead soldier goes over the top

I didn't watch too much of the Democrat National Convention (DNC) but I've heard of the speech given by the Muslim father of the dead U.S. soldier, and have since watched the speech on YouTube. It is six minutes long and is available here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Xzkkk-oJ6bo

The speech is powerful and the Dad is obviously proud of his son and heartsick from his loss, as is his wife. But he was used as a partisan tool by the Shemailer, and his argument falls short, despite the powerful emotions of his son's and his family's sacrifice.

The Shemailer and socialism

The Democrat nominees, the Shemailer and Kaine, are going to continue and extend the socialist policies enacted by our current President. This would be an economic mistake as capitalism is what has made this country strong, and socialism will make it weaker.

"No more likely"

Statistics can be really fun. But the conclusions one reaches from them can be confusing or can be used to mislead people. I read a whopper of misdirection by Anglea Merkel just now, but before I get to that, let me recount a story I heard on the radio yesterday by a financial analyst.

How Obama incubated a more dangerous Trump

It is now official. Trump is running against the Shemailer.

I like that nickname. Perhaps Trump will find it and start using it.

Let's not turn the U.S. into Europe

I'm a big fan of science fiction. What I love about it is that it is often able to present moral dilemmas in a different context. Well, that and all the goofy aliens.

Why Republican leaders should not be boycotting Trump

Donald Trump is not the anti-Christ. He is not Hitler. His election will not lead to an American dictatorship and is not against Democracy. He is not a fascist. Our current occupant of the White House has taken actual steps to weaken our democracy and the rule of law, while Trump is a blowhard who says things off the cuff and is unlikely to do half of what he says when he finds out that he needs accomplices in the legislature to achieve his goals.

Republican Establishment dogma on trade

Republicans are generally for free trade. They supported efforts to make trade deals like Bill Clinton's NAFTA, because more trade reduces costs to consumers. There is really no question that in the short term, lower prices are a boost to our economy.

Acton Education Association of Socialists

I despise public-sector unions. They are socialist organizations whose sole purpose has become increasing the pay and benefits of their members.

These organizations (of police, fire, and teachers) could actually be fantastic groups helping to improve public safety, fire safety, and education, among other things. They could also bring issues and awareness to management and become public policy experts to help our country move forward. Instead, they do the exact opposite.

Canadian rule-followers

I'm up in Canada (Quebec City) on vacation, and am doing a lot of walking around for fun and exercise. I have my headphones on, but no Acton Forum t-shirt! And as I get around, I have been witnessing a subtle but dangerous mind-control experiment that the Canadian government is performing.

If I am assuming too much, please forgive me. But I have witnessed this behavior so many times up here that I doubt it is a coincidence. And what is troubling is that this same mindset is moving south across the border, and I have witnessed it in Acton often, too, although not to the same degree...yet.

The value of the Pet Rock

People who believe in socialism around here are very quick to draw a line between socialism and communism. Socialism, they say, is really just a benign system that is fairer than capitalism, sort of a compromise between the two systems...and who doesn't like to compromise?

Taking a stand on the separation of church and state

Acton Town Meeting has a sorry history of approving Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds for questionable purposes, from rehabilitating old pianos with no historical value to transferring public funds into private pockets under the guise of "historic preservation." But perhaps no CPA spending is more odious than using public funds to directly support private religious organizations.

The death of bipartisanship

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) had an opinion piece published in the WSJ today (http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-the-senate-is-supposed-to-work-1464643132) which clearly explained his vision for how the Senate should work in our government system. He talked about reaching consensus, building coalitions, and giving the system time to make changes that both parties can, eventually, support.

Qualified or disqualified?

Fiscal Conservatism 707

Lots of presidential news, some of which deserves some comment.

First, let me state up front that I am not a Donald Trump supporter. I will vote for him, but he wasn't my pick among the Republican candidates. That being said, nobody was up to par this cycle...not even up to the Mitt Romney level, in my opinion. Still, I would vote for The Donald "every day plus Sunday" over Hillary or Bernie.

Sharing and socialism

Fiscal conservatism 706

As kids, we are taught about the virtues of sharing. Let's take that lesson to its logical conclusion. Let's pretend that sharing becomes the norm and the goal in our society. What happens?

People who "have" are strongly encouraged to share. Pretty soon, this morphs into a social if not even a legal obligation in some form.

Self-interest voting

Fiscal conservatism 705.

Life imitates Acton Forum

Fiscal conservatism 704

My favorite column in The Wall Street Journal is called Best of the Web, written by James Taranto. (See the author's page here, with a link to some columns: http://topics.wsj.com/person/T/james-taranto/5474). If you read the Journal regularly and you skip this because of its title, please reconsider. It is topical and very funny.

Senior Center proposal raises questions

Warrant Article 26 requests the authorization by Town Meeting to allow the Selectmen to enter into a lease for the purpose of "serving as the location of the Acton Senior Center."

For about 10 years, there have been attempts to build a new Senior Center. This year's push was abandoned because people were concerned that the targeted location, on Arlington Street, was in the middle of nowhere. So instead of asking for millions of dollars, the Town looks like it will try to lease space instead.

What is the only town to have a decrease in property taxes over the last four years?

According to the Boston Globe West (3/27/16), Boxborough's property taxes are lower this year than they were in 2012. The average bill dropped $99, or roughly one percent, even though the average assessed value climbed eight percent to $548,9090. This was the only town in the Globe study that had a decrease in property taxes over the four-year period.

"'That mostly has to do with the conservative approach the Finance Committee and Board of Selectman take,'" the Globe quoted Ruth T. Anderson, Boxborough's assessor.

That would be incorrect, Ma'am. Close, but no cigar.

Planning Dept. spends taxpayer funds to influence Town Meeting vote

Over the past several years, Acton Forum has dissected many instances where Town Meeting presentations contained inaccurate or misleading information leading to ethically challenged decisions. Unfortunately, there are many people who believe that the end justifies the means. If the end result is favorable, they are willing to look the other way as to the bad process because they support the outcome.