AllenN's blog

Which political party is more corrupt?

Which political party is more corrupt? Republicans or Democrats?

Before you answer, be careful: It is a trick question.

The answer is both of them. More accurately, it is all of them.

The communists are corrupt, the fascists are corrupt, and the socialists are corrupt. The federalists and the whigs were corrupt. Royalty is corrupt.

Politicians aren't the only ones. We know many business leaders are corrupt. Lawyers, accountants, doctors and dentists can be corrupt. People we trust with our lives and our life's savings can be corrupt.

Acton Needs an Endowment

Acton’s budget system is a mess. As a town, we rely on property taxes, which is a stable source of revenue, but we also depend on fees and state aid. State aid is particularly fickle. Every few years, there is a statewide crisis and that trickles down to us, which causes a local crisis.

And in a downturn, like we have now, we choose to spend reserves instead of cutting back expenses. This sets us up for an override in a future year. These overrides are divisive and cause catastrophe if they don’t pass. This is a terrible way to manage long-term finances.

Revenue versus Overhead

When President Obama says that his economic stimulus package is creating jobs, that is true. Several million jobs were created or saved by that spending.

When Senator Brown says that no jobs were created, he is also speaking a truth. If you create or save 2 million jobs here, but you lose 3 million jobs there, then your net is a loss of 1 million jobs.

But both politicians miss the point. It is very important what type of jobs you create (or save). We need to grow jobs that provide income, not expense. Let me explain.

Tim for Trouble

I am a believer in the two-party system of government. This belief was formed during a long-ago political science class which proposed the premise that in order to be legitimate, elected officials had to receive over 50% of the vote. This bedrock principle could be violated when you have a viable third-party candidate and the system allows someone to win when they have a plurality but not a majority. Electing candidates without majority support is fraught with danger for democracy.

Gov. Patrick announces new Auto Buying Initiative

April 1, 2010

(BOSTON) - Gov. Deval Patrick, citing the rising cost of automobile ownership in the Bay State, has announced a new program to allow "every working family access to a brand new vehicle at a reasonable cost."

Citing his recent decision last February 11 to cap rising health insurance premiums for small business, Patrick said this is the next logical step. "Getting to work is a right that every working family has. And we need to get our citizens back to work. If having a new car is necessary to achieve that goal, then I'm all for it."

Can we reduce Acton's labor costs?

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has entered into a Faustian bargain with the public-sector employee unions, and that decision is going to cost taxpayers in Acton (and around the Commonwealth) a bundle.

State law gives public employees the right to negotiate their own union contracts so long as they agree not to strike. (Introduction to the law is here: The full explanation is here:

Brother, Can You Spare a Cup of Joe?

Health Insurance Reform, Part 2

In the first post, we discussed the so-called "death panels" and how the government would have to get involved in individual health-care decisions that are now made by patients, their doctors, and their insurers. We also talked about the potential demise of the best care available in the world when government mandates and cost-controls are imposed on doctors' salaries.

In this part, we will examine what happens when additional mandates like mandatory health insurance are added to the burden on business.


Is Health Insurance a Right?

From President Obama on down, we have heard repeatedly in the healthcare debate that Americans have a "right" to affordable health insurance. In my view, this is the critical issue and perhaps the reason why Democrats and Republicans have not been able to (and perhaps never will) reach a compromise.

Deficit Spending makes a comeback

About six or seven years ago, in what I remember was my first Acton Town Meeting, I was in the audience when someone got up to complain about the budget being presented that night.

"This budget is out of balance. You are using one-time revenues, called Free Cash, in order to fund operations. This is unsustainable."

That statement seemed self-evident. I knew from "Accounting 101" that one-time revenues shouldn't fund recurring operations. It leads to overspending.

The Beacon on the Ropes

The Beacon, Acton’s weekly newspaper, is clearly suffering.

For this political observer, it takes about 2 minutes to read through the paper these days.

There are no compelling “letters to the editor,” unless you want to read "thank you" notes.

The news articles typically rehash what has happened at this or that local committee meeting. Nothing is covered consistently.

Individuals versus Institutions in U.S. Healthcare Debate

With the surprising results of the latest election cycle, where Republicans won the New Jersey governorship (beating incumbent Jon Corzine), perhaps some voters are getting a bit more suspicious of President Barack Obama's message of change. Perhaps some are beginning to wonder if change is always good, even when you don't know what the change is going to be. Many of the proposals we've been hearing lately from Washington are downright scary.

Massachusetts' Unfair Taxes and Mandates

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has taken many steps that have foreseeable results that are detrimental to the citizens and businesses in the state, yet our leaders seem oblivious to the logical results from those actions. Our politicians don't care when they make decisions that have a net-negative effect, so long as their constituencies are protected.

The issue we are all paying for now is the increase in the state's sales tax, from 5% to 6.25 - 7%. This is a 25% - 40% increase and is going to prove detrimental to all of us, directly or indirectly.

Government Spending Run Amok - Part Two

PART TWO: Government-employee unions are initially to blame; secondary blame goes to voters.

Massachusetts is leading the nation in its support for the Democratic Party and President Obama. And these guys are endorsed and supported by labor unions, which in the public sector are paid for by the government using tax dollars. These generous salary and benefit increases are obviously payback for their electoral support.

Government Spending Run Amok - Part One

PART ONE: Unbelievable deficits and obligations.

There was an eye-opening article in the Wall Street Journal this past week (9/5/09, p A11), entited "Warning: The Deficits Are Coming!" (with shades of Paul Revere warning about the British invasion....) The alarm is being rung by David Walker, an economist and former head of the General Accounting Office (GAO) under President Clinton, who was responsible for auditing the government's books. He now works for the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which educates the public about the need for fiscal prudence.

First Blog

Welcome to the Acton Forum! I am happy to introduce our new "Blog" feature.
This will allow residents who have something to say to write about it and