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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Abstinence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Refrain to-night, And that shall lend a kind of easiness To the next abstinence: the next more easy; For use almost can change the stamp of nature.
Hamlet, Price of Denmark, William Shakespere, 1646.

Sometimes, Porcupine gets out his sword, polishes the blade to defend someone, only to have the issue seemingly lapse. This appeared to have happened with Governor last week, but it appears that comment is instead warranted.

Last week, Governor Romney announced a program to add education in addition to existing education programs. Melissa Kogut of Mass NARAL and Angus McQuillken of Planned Parenthood immediately decried this as a fascist mind control program. “The Governor doesn’t seem to mind putting the children of Massachusetts at risk as he travels the country in his Presidential run,” sniffed McQuillken. Mr. McQuillken feels strongly that abstinence should not be part of sex education. It will lead to increased teen pregnancy by making them ignorant of proper birth control. The fact that it was to be in addition to existing birth control teaching is irrelevant. They might think it was the only way, or be absent on Condom Day, or something.

Porcupine was ready to defend the Governor’s common-sense stance, but the whole thing got only a half-paragraph in the Boston papers, and seemed to be on its way to a peaceful enactment.

Ah, but then there’s the budget process. The inimitable Ruth Balser, D-Newton, offered Amendment #219, which would scotch abstinence education in the schools. This was brought forward as part of a Consolidated Health Care amendment by Rep. DeLeo with a grand total of $71.3 million. Health Chairman Peter Koutoujian, speaking on behalf of the amendment said, “With this amendment we were able to do a lot of great things. We were able to add $300,000 family health programs, $500,000 for early intervention programs, $150,000 for school health services. These are targeted allocations that will impact our most vulnerable populations. Efforts will not only lead to long-term reductions in the cost of health care, but help those who need it most now. We have also included an $8 million increase in the salary reserve for direct care workers, raising it from $20 million to $28 million. We have $1.5 million for Project Bread. These are additions to an already generous House budget, such as $1 million for school health services. I believe this is an important step to protecting the health and safety of the public. I hope it passes.” It also includes $500,000 for a ‘dialogue’ on racial diversity in the City of Boston (who said talk was cheap?), $100,000 for Russian teens at risk in Boston, and over $4 million, primarily in Boston and Metro-West, for Boys & Girls clubs and YMCA/YWCA clubs – without a penny for Cape Cod. (We DO get $150,000 for rabies bait, $125,000 for a drug court and $100,000 for Lyme Disease). And of course, our friends at Silent Spring will get to blow through another $3 million trying to prove the military causes breast cancer in their ten year old ‘study’. The Town of Orange – by itself – gets $100,000 in teen pregnancy prevention money. That must have been some prom they had!

That is all fine and dandy, but the cessation of abstinence education is still included.

Minority Leader Jones said that, “Those on either side of the issue, we have decided to have a debate at a later date relative to whether the state ought to accept money from the federal government relative to abstinence education. Obviously the outcome of that debate has not been decided, but we will have the debate.” It appears to Porcupine that Rep. Jones has been snookered – the language striking the abstinence education is still in the Budget, and the debate will come over the inevitable veto by Governor Romney, which will likely be overridden. If he has not actually been snookered, the best that can be said is that he is not willing to extend himself to protect his Governor’s newly minted program in an election year. And if he thinks Sal DiMasi wants to hold this debate this year, without Democrats to hold his feet to the fire too, he’s crazy. Voice-vote override, here we come!

One thing that Governor Romney said when introducing the program stuck with Porcupine. “As I travel about the state and listen to parents, not one has ever said to me, ‘Gee, I don’t think my kids are getting enough sex education in school. What they HAVE said to me is, Gee. I wish my kids could get some support for the choice they’ve made not to be sexually active until they’re older’.

Indeed. The Koguts and McQuilkens can fume that these parents are delusional, and their kids are SO sexually active – but what does it hurt to remind them that this is a life defining choice, to begin a sex life, and there is no shame or harm in postponing it until they are older?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Carnival of Liberty XLII (42 to you Non-Classicists)

Welcome! Once again, Porcupine is proud to host the Carnival of Liberty, held weekly by the Life, Liberty and Property Community - a diverse collection of thinkers from across the ideological spectrum, all concerned with isssues of personal freedom.

Since we read from Left to Right, Porcupine has decided to line up this week's posts from the ideological Left to Right as well.

First up is a submission from
The People's Republic of Seabrook entitled Does God Really Vote Republican? which details the disrespect deserved by the President for his conservative religious views, or as Jack put it in his submission, "Man, it is NOT easy being a heathen these days".

Next, the squib writes a parable (possibly in the dialect that Democrats use to communicate with one another?) called Thag do Revolution about a prehistoric clan and its treatment of ancient conservatives.

New World Man is fuming about Something That Will Never Be Discussed With Intelligence Or Clarity Anywhere - although he makes a pretty good stab at it - the issue of policing the Internet in the name of saving us all from pornography. Porcupine especially liked a joke he made about the ACLU.

OK, So I'm Not Really a Cowboy! writes about The Cage of Human Rights, and the choices we all make in curtailing our liberty on behalf of others.

Another curmudgeonly rebel like Porcupine, the Liberty Cadre grouses about the good ol' days in What Has Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n Roll Come To?

Radical Libertarian writes that Freedom Ain't Easy, and brings us a slightly different Four Freedoms than the ones FDR talked about.

Next, from
Teapot Tantrums, we have Happy Earth Day! (Unless You're Al Gore....) with some shrewd observations on raising green, by being green.

Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds, we have Ten Terms and Phrases to Be Wary Of. While it remined Porcupine in a way of a political version of George Carlin's Seven Dirty Words You Can't Say on TV, it is an insightful dissection of the ways in which language can be used to disguise and mislead.

On a more practical and less theoretial level,
Pacesetter Mortgage submitted a post on The FHA Modernization Act, which would help end predatory lending (hear that, Deval Patrick?) While we often drift away into the political and theoretical in the LLP, it is important to remember that the protection of Private Property is one of the important missions of the Community, and after reading this, Porcupine thinks President Bush has come up with a new solution to one of the problems of home ownership.

Searchlight Crusade submits The Perfect War. This is an intricately argued piece, and Porcupine suggests that you read it right after you go to see 'United 93' - showing that tragic day with all its complexity and terror in real time - and appreciate better the argument that "Once you begin a war, you are in it until the end."

Spank That Donkey! we have a post called The Epitome of Disrespect which the details the disrespect that the President is treated with in some quarters.

Once again, the Carnival of Liberty has spaned the ideological spectrum
, all points of view welcome and all points considered. Indeed, that may be what Liberty is really all about.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Mark Twain was Right!

There are Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics.
Mark Twain

Porcupine ADORES the Sunday papers. In addition to the varied sections, there are coupons and the Coloured Comics (while Porcupine laments the passing of Pogo and Judge Parker, he still has Mary Worth, Shylock Fox and Prince Valiant – any tampering with THEM, and it may be time to go on-line altogether!). The Cape Cod Times also carries Parade Magazine, a glossy feature supplement full of celebrity trivia and some ‘serious’ articles. This Sunday brought us, “Is the American Dream Still Possible?” (Parade seems doubtful about it) with the sidebar shown below – as edited by Porcupine:

The Stressed Middle Class – always a popular theme right around tax-time

National statistics show the increasing pressures on middle-income Americans:

The real median household income declined 3% from 2000 to 2004. Good grief, that includes the period when the national economy went off a cliff after 9/11! With a margin of error of +/- 2%, as it says in the VERY fine print – that’s a NEGLIGIBLE decrease – the economy is doing better than Porcupine thought!

The percentage of households earning $25,000 to $99,999 (roughly middle-income range) shrank 1.5% from 2000 to 2004. – and that 2% margin during that VERY bad time frame?

Last year, real average weekly earnings actually fell 0.4%. – again, with a margin of error of 2% - did we actually see an increase?

The savings rate for Americans is the lowest it has been in 73 years. – And the fault of that would lie with….self-indulgent Americans, who have redefined ‘necessity’ to include cellular phones, cable television, and a week in Cancun as a bare MINIMUM of livability?

Credit-card debt is at an all-time high, averaging $9,312 per household. – Porcupine didn’t think it was THAT low!

The average cost per year of a public college (in state) is $12,127, a 25% increase since 2001. – since the pool of available applicants is declining since the Baby Boom was educated, and the colleges are making no effort to curb the salaries of tenured professors – why are we surprised by this?

A private university costs $29,026. – likewise, the sweetheart deals that academia was able to negotiate twenty years ago when classrooms were full are coming home to roost.

So – it’s officially an election Year! Time to convince the Middle Class that they are badly off, when the NYSE is only a few hundred points off of its all-time high, despite $70 per barrel oil! Yes, if the new Consumer Confidence Index is up despite a Republican Presidency, it’s time to let people know how badly off the really are! Let’s find SOMETHING to convince them!

Mark Twain was correct in his analysis; every statistic can be used or twisted to reflect a certain agenda, which demonstrates the futility of Governing to the Poll, the civic equivalent of Teaching to the Test. That is why Porcupine is so bemused with the constant hawking of Approval Ratings – the only ones that matter are taken every two years in November. They are the only ones worth getting excited about.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

NOW Do You Believe It?

Toleration is the Virtue of People who Do Not Believe in Anything.
G.K. Chesterton

The defense has begun in the death penalty phase of the trial of Zacharias Moussaoui, the Taliban conspirator who worked with the team of terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11. We are being asked to show toleration and understanding for Mr. , a comprehension of his life and putative mental illness.

When asked by a lawyer whether he would be prepared to kill Americans, he said: "Anytime, anywhere."

"You are the head of the snake for me. If we want to destroy the Jewish state of Palestine, we have to destroy you first," he went on to say.

Zacharias Moussaoui was born to a 14 year old mother, who was abandoned by his father. She raised him while working as a cleaning lady in Paris, and later in other Muslim ghettos in France. His life experience and attitude towards western culture is not uncommon, as shown by the Parisian riots of last summer.

As the attorneys bob and weave, proffering his upbringing, his alleged mental illness and his desire to become a martyr before the jury as mitigating factors, one fact emerges ever more clearly.

Zacharias Moussaoui believes intently in radical Islam and jihad. His contempt for his lawyers and their stratagems, and his outbursts of indignant rage, demonstrate that his belief in the necessity of the destruction of Western culture is real and sincere.

Why is that so hard for us to comprehend? Our various attitudes are all equally ignorant of Muslim culture and sincerity. We are a young nation, thinking we know best in a conflict that is milleniums old - that of Issac and Ishmael. We are like a toddler standing between two prizefighters in the ring as far as understanding is concerned.

So we say - We shouldn't give in to him. Since he wants to be a martyr, we should keep him in jail at taxpayer expense for the rest of his life. Or, he was driven to his terrible acts by poverty and rage. We should reach out to the little ones in the Middle East, and educate them and teach them tolerance and brotherhood, possibly by expanding Head Start. Or, the anti-Semitism expressed by some alleged terrorists is just a negotiating ploy to gain a real homeland for the Palestinians. The suicide bombers are desperate patriots, and we should tolerate their views.

How disrespectful. How condescending. How destructive. How foolish.

The religious zeal of Moussaoui is real, sincere and deadly. If we fail to execute him, it will be perceived as a signal of our inherent weakness in the Muslim world, much as the disputed election of 2000 and its ugly and disrespectful sloganeering was, and will ultimately cause the death and destruction of millions. We may have had a Reformation or Enlightenment in western culture, but Islam is a different path. It is worth noting one of the first acts was to blow up ancient Hindu statues of Buddha in Afghanistan, as they were graven images and an affront to Allah. The combined appeals of the world for tolerance, understanding of another faith, and respect for artistic heritage all fell on deaf ears.

There is no God but Allah. There is no solution but jihad. There is no tolerance of infidels.

Now, we must decide if we value our own culture enough to defend it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Well, Aren't WE Special?

What Happens to a Dream Deferred? Does it Dry Up Like a Raisin in the Sun? .....Or Does It EXPLODE?
Langston Hughes (1902–1967),

Porcupine is grateful to be writing this on April 18th. You see, Porcupine actually pays taxes, and our almost unique status gives us one more day before the butcher’s bill falls due. The only other state to celebrate Patriot’s Day is the State of Maine. Between April 15 falling on a Saturday and the Monday Patriot’s Day holiday, residents of Massachusetts and Maine have until midnight tonight to file taxes.

As always, Tax Day brings to mind the disregarded will of the electorate to lower the Mass. Tax rate to 5%. In 1989, Dukakis pleaded for a ‘temporary’ hike to 5.95%. All through the boom years of the 1990’s, the Legislature refused to lower the tax rate, as Governor after Governor filed legislation to do so. In fact, once in the late 1990’s as Governor Cellucci testified for his petition o the matter, then-Chair of the Taxation committee, Rep. Paul Casey, asked why Gov. Cellucci referred to it as ‘temporary’. Nothing in the Legislation said it was! A long term Democrat member of the Committee shamefacedly said that he had been present when Dukakis testified, and he did refer to it as a temporary, emergency measure. His attempt to re-write history precluded, Rep. Casey still muttered that there was no sunset in the bill.

All through the 1990’s, the Legislature could easily have afforded to keep their word and lower the rate. Tax receipts from dot-coms were at historic highs, the Rainy Day and Unemployment funds were bursting, and there was no place to hide the money. Ah, but the League of Red-Headed Men, or the Indigent Mothers of Five-Toed Cats came, and begged for funding for their most worthy causes. So, the Legislature rolled merrily along, taxing at 5.95% and spending like a clipper hand in port for the week.

In 2000, fed up with the solons, the electorate utilized their right of Free Petition, and Question 4 was overwhelmingly approved. STILL they fiddled and used every form of casuistry (Porcupine wonders – what would have happened to Prop. 2 ½ if it had been brought forth in the days of a single party Legislature? What would property taxes look like now?). Then, after 9/11, the economy went lemming-like over a cliff and real cuts had to be made, not only to the Red Headed Men but to those in genuine need.

Had the Legislature kept its word in, say, 1996 and reduced the tax rate – then the citizenry would have understood, and perhaps would have OK’d a another temporary increase. As it is, they do not and will not trust the Legislature to keep its word, and they mulishly want the rate reduced to 5%, as they voted 6 years ago.

Local Aid? Schools? Social Services? Those who natter about them have the option of paying at the 5.95% rate – and out of the millions who pay, they have yet to break 500 souls paying the optional higher rate. In our neck of the woods, we receive scant local aid, lottery money or school aid – so it behooves us to keep our own money close, in order to pay our own property taxes when the time comes.

An example? Carl Stevens of WBZ reported this morning that doctors at the Codman Sq. health clinic were upset that they had to ask the homeless for birth certificates to try to enroll them in MassHealth. It embarrasses them! Besides, it costs $30,000 to perform an amputation of a foot due to diabetes, as opposed to the meager cost of the medication – so these good doctors will continue to dispense medicines without asking for birth certificates. Take that, sirrah! Of course, asking them where they were born, and obtaining a duplicate on their behalf for $7 never even occurred to them. And who will subsidize this high-minded and compassionate stance on behalf of the homeless of Boston? Why, you will through your Public Health tax dollars!

A dollar sent to Boston is a dollar lost to Cape Cod forever.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

First Blogoversary!

A little over a year ago, Porcupine received a phone call from Walter Brooks, whom he knew as a news editor from the Register years ago. He was seeking to exapand his on-line paper, and would Porcupine like to write a blog?

Porcupine had read blogs, and enjoyed them, but had no more idea of how to start one than to build his own aeroplane. Ah, cried the Blogfather, I shall take care of all that. Don't you have things you'd like to say? You were always good for a letter or two, or three, or...

Porcupine leaned back and considered. There was much he would like to say, and Walter made it all sound so easy. He consented, and on April 12, 2005, the
first post was made.

Between the regular blog (which Walter first set up and Porcupine has maintained ever since) and the Cape Cod Today posts, Porcupine has had over 20,000 distinct and individual readers. Even now, when he knows about enormous traffic blogs like Hugh Hewitt and Little Green Footballs, Porcupine still regards his own readership as a remarkable achievement.

During this past year, Porcupine has become a Large Mammal in the Ecosystem of the Blogosphere, has been elected to The Wide Awakes, is part of two webrings and is a member of the Life, Liberty and Property Community which hosts the Carnival of Liberty. The most recent development is the one he is proudest of. It is gratifying, but not astonishing, to be recommended by like-minded souls and peers, but after some correspondence with Charley on the MTA, he is now also featured on the ultra-liberal Blue Mass Group on their 'Differently Winged' blogroll, and has set up a reciprocal 'Differently Winged' blogroll on his own site. (Len Stewart, are you listening? Cape Cod Works belongs there!).

Worst moment? When a post about Islamic extremism was featured on a white-power web site, bringing some extremely questionable traffic. Proudest moment? When a poem written to memorialize Sen. Eugene McCarthy was read not once, but twice, on the computer in the Cloakroom of the United States Senate (I emailed that hit to Walter!).

Porcupine still has amititons. He has never had an 'Instalanche' (a single mention by Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit can trigger over a thousand hits in a single day!). He looks forward to developing ties with other political blogs during this election year. But mostly, Porcupine would like to recognize a few cyberfriends who are not on his blogroll, as they are not at all political. These are blogs Porcupine reads all the time:

Eccentric Father - Porcupine is so caught up in the continung adventures of Lumpy and Bombaloo, and their eccentric dad, Ken, that he got their actual address and sent them Christmas presents.

OneManBandwidth - Dr. Lonnie Hodge is a classic Berkley liberal, teaching in China. He has to risk a great deal to even read other blogs, much less write one, and his perspective on that country is fascinating.

Random Thoughts from Marybeth - Housewife, receipe collector and amateur foreign poicy analyst, Marybeth is a great writer and a regular treat for Porcupine.

Waking Ambrose - Doug Pascover's homage to Ambrose Bierce and language in general.

The Frog Blog of Louis LaVache - Louis and I met through the Roger L. Simon blog, and while we email about French foreign policy, the blog is about history, painting and patisserie in Paris.

These five are only a small slice of Porcupine's burgeoning Favorites bookmarks, but for all of you, please - visit a strange blog today!

Walter, thank you for the opportunity and the beginning. Last March, I was truly afraid that I would run out of things to say after a month or so. Now, Porcupine will now continue into the second year with undiminished zeal, always on the lookout for the next bright thing.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Town Meeting Trickery

As dearly as Porcupine loves Town Meeting (see HERE), he is annoyed by the recent addition of inappropriate citizen petitions to its agenda - by people mostly from away who manifestly have their own agenda! Last year, it was to repeal the PATRIOT Act. This year, some towns like Wellfleet wish to continue their involvement in foreign policy, and ten-plus Wellfleetians have placed an agenda item to withdraw from Iraq. While these items are annoying and incongruous, they are not actually harmful.

However, as you attend Town Meeting this year, one proposal will be before many of us which does have the possibility of harm. This is the Cape Cod Universal Health Care article which will be on the agenda in many towns. The trickery is in the writing. Porcupine has posted the complete language HERE.

The first several paragraphs go into a presentation of opinion as fact, stating that the lack of health insurance is a literally life and death issue, and a grave threat to out collective welfare. Here is the section that should be looked at very carefully:

We petition our County Government to support the development of a proposed regional universal health care program, known as Cape Care, which would, at a minimum, meet these criteria:

Not 'explore'. Not 'investigate'. Support. County Government will SUPPORT. These games have been tried before, most notably in the first Land Bank, when everybody was told that it was just a non-bringing, sample of how a Land Bank could work - and once it was passed, it was pointed to as the unchangeable will of the people. Until the people voted it down. We may not get a chance to vote on this, if they learned thier lesson.

- provide broad health care coverage for ALL residents of the Cape and Islands, to improve individual and community health; and

No mere piking emergency coverage - BROAD health care coverage

- control health care cost inflation by reducing excessive administrative expenses, as well as through bulk discount purchasing of necessary medications and medical supplies; and

Porcupine remembers when HMO's were going to eliminate health care price problems by making wellness a priority, and reducing administrative expenses. It reduced some rates for about three years, and then the necessary cost of administration pushed HMO's right up there where the fee-for-pay companies had been. And where will this bulk purchase be stored? At the old county jail? And who will decide what is necessary?

- shape health care delivery to meet community needs for appropriate care, through a representative policy-making board of community members and health care providers; and

Ah! THIS is where the 'jobs for the boys' will come into play!

- strengthen the ability of our existing network of health care providers and institutions to provide high-quality care, by assuring adequate funding for necessary services.

Oh! ASSURE funding? How? Through the County levy on the towns, which the County will support?

We call for a public hearing process in Barnstable County, to include analysis of the proposed plan's organization and governance, its expected effects on community health, and its financial modeling, to be initiated by the end of the year 2006.

Gee - that doesn't sound like too much work for six months does it - especially if you just happen to have this keen plan all ready in your back pocket....

Massachusetts has just passed a compromise version of a state-wide health care plan. As Porcupine said upon its passage, nothing but universal single-payer will satisfy the pseudo-Eurpoean social engineers among us. The County does not want to be in the health insurance business, thank you very much, but it will be wished upon them with the passage of this plan.

It deserves a hearty 'Nay!' and Porcupine hopes it will be rapidly consigned to the dustbin of history.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A Healthy Diference of Opinion

A healthy man, indeed, is the complement of the seasons, and in winter, summer is in his heart.
Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

Porcupine dislikes it when authorities and sources he respects and enjoys take stances at odds with his. In the case of the Plan, it is so, and Porcupine feels moved to discuss the plan as the Governor ponders it. Caveat - Porcupine has not read the entire 750 page confernece report, but is instead relying upon published accounts of how it would work.

Porcupine's friend Mr. Ogre is a full-out raging Libertarian, nay Social Darwinist, who is moved to fury by the new plan. His florid post (
here) details his disgust with the health care package, and is mirrored in the stands of many other social conservatives. Porcupine gave him some background about the plan, and said that for once the solution wasn't higher taxes or soak the empoyers. Ogre countered, "By what right does the state claim my money at all? Why is it my obligation to take care of everyone else's medical care? You do not have a right to medical care, free or otherwise, in any free society, period. To claim that you have that right means that you have the right to the labor of another man -- and that's just completely wrong. If you take care of yourself, eat right, exercise, avoid smoking and high risk activities your whole life; but I do everything poorly, including many high risk activities, how it is right for me to force you to pay for my medical care? The people who are good and right are being forced to pay for those who are not -- and that's utterly and completely wrong."

The National Review Online (article
HERE) echoes Ogre with more - um - restrained prose, and says, "Conservatives mostly understand the problems associated with the direct government provision of products and services — poor quality, shortages, high taxes, and shoddy service. What they must also understand is that forcing an individual to purchase health insurance is merely a rest stop on the journey to the same destination [of universal single-payer alencompassingg government care]." They suggest that making insurance more affordable is the true answer, and then everybody would buy it. Porcupine thinks that a twenty-something with delusions of invincibility wouldn't buy a plan if it was as cheap as a mocha latte.

Both Ogre and the National Review are theorizing in a philosophical universe, rather than a real one. Ogre decries the plundering of the populace to pay for insurance - yet the populace is paying for that medical care now through the Uncompensated Care Pool. And while Ogre's remarks about fitness are certainly germane, they do not acknowledge the broken leg with the bone through the skin, or the lupus that strikes the vegetarian gymnast, or the virus that is transmitted by a person walking down the street - indeed, the scaffolding that falls and crushes a passing pedestrian as happened this week.

"Sorry, Peter, you're falling into that same liberal trap -- the trap that says government is good, no matter what it does, so if there's a problem, the solution MUST be more government -- and that is bad. No, armed robbery of citizens is NOT a good solution at all", wrote Ogre.

Sorry, Mr. Ogre, but YOU are falling into the conservative trap that any government mandate is in and of itself wrong because of the source. You can still make choices, but those choices will be made in a real world. You can buy insurance. You can buy insurance and have some premium subsidized if your income is low, with the subsidy dropping away as income rises. You can flat out refuse to buy insurance, in which case you must deposit $10,000 in an interest bearing escrow account with the state - the same way you can with auto insurance now - to cover hospital debt in the event of illness and inability to pay. If you do not have $10,000 and refuse to buy insuance anyway, your income tax refunds will be intercepted and placed in escrow until you either have the $10,000 or can demonstrate that you have coverage. You call it armed robbery - Porcupine calls it protection for the taxpayers from the feckless among us.

There is imagination in this. It is not a single payer plan (which is the only thing that will satisfy some pseudo-European social engineers among us), but it allows individual choice and requires individual responsibility. Porcupine hopes that Governor Romney will quickly sign this bill, and make us all look into the mirror, and make our own choices according to what we all see.

Monday, April 03, 2006

How Sharper than a Serpent's Tooth

We seldom find people ungrateful so long as we are in a condition to render them service.
François, Duc De La Rochefoucauld (1613–1680)

It would seem that County Commissioner Bill Doherty is the exception to M. le Duc’s cynical rule. While still advocating for the human services community, and their myriad wants and needs, Mr. Doherty has been castigated for abandoning them and called to task for not furthering the most extravagant items of their expensive agenda.
At issue last year was the sum of $685,000. That was the amount sought by the human services advocates for various committees and good causes from county funds. This amount was appropriated for human services at great political cost to Mr. Doherty. You see, the towns felt that the surplus amount should be returned to them, during a tight local aid year, when school budgets and municipal expenses were demanding override votes in several towns – recall the brou-ha-ha in Harwich, or the Dennis-Yarmouth funding crisis as two examples of how the towns could claim to need this money especially. The Assembly of Delegates voted with the towns to lower the assessment, and it was vetoed by the Commissioners – including Mr. Doherty.

Porcupine is familiar with Republican circles, and knows that Mr. Doherty faced opposition, and a potential primary challenge, as a result of that veto. Indeed, Porcupine is not certain that he even agrees with Mr. Doherty’s stance on the matter – but, he does respect his political courage in expending personal popularity in support of human services, and concedes that he is well studied and hence perhaps better informed than Porcupine.

Now, about $400,000 in new initiatives are being proposed, and Mr. Doherty is not supporting them. While those in government circle are well familiar with the concept that a failure to increase is a cut, the average taxpayer does not see it that way. Mr. Doherty, who was very candid with these activists last year about the potential lack of future funding, had some right to expect a lack of attack, if not actual support, from these agencies. Instead, like many moderates, he is attacked for not providing more from the liberals, and despised for every providing anything at all from the conservatives.

Any dunce knows that there has been an increase in interest rates and a general cooling off in Cape real estate. It was the hyper-driven real estate market and refinancing that created the artificial and temporary surplus through County deeds fees in the first place. The towns wanted to take a share of this bounty last year, but the Commissioners felt that since their assessment had remained stable, they were not being taxed too much by the County, and chose instead to expend the money on human services, with a warning to those who received the funds that the golden goose was looking a little peaked.

If you fail to take the warnings you are given, you must accept the consequences.” Mr. Doherty wrote in the Cape Cod Times on March 30. He writes as if he is addressing adults who can compromise and comprehend instead of professional advocates who routinely behave like recalcitrant children, romping behind Mr. Bernardo as their unlikely Democrat savior. It is to be hoped that their sharp teeth will not inflict a fatal wound.

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