AllenN's blog

Error-prone Acton Town Meeting

Let's say you are sent to the store to pick up some groceries, including milk. There are several choices of milk: skim, low-fat, or whole. You get down there and you can't remember which milk to buy. You left the list at home.

Let's say you have a feeling that you are supposed to be getting skim milk, so you grab a gallon of that and bring it home. Unfortunately, there is a full gallon of skim milk waiting for you in the refrigerator. $2.99 (or $3.99, depending on where you shop) wasted. Did you make a "mistake" or an "error"?

Some of the seniors have spoken

Last night's Special Town Meeting approved the lease for a new Senior Center in South Acton, in an industrial building behind a car dealership on Route 62. Most speakers acknowledged the poor location but offered various justifications for approval. The one that seemed to resonate most was that it was long past time to do "something," and this was the only alternative being presented.

Town wins first round on CPA-church funding

Note: I am one of the 13 Acton taxpayer plaintiffs suing to stop the Town of Acton from funding religious organizations under the Community Preservation Act (CPA), so am extremely biased on this topic. These views are mine alone and do not represent the position of the plaintiffs or their counsel.

The Town of Acton won the first round against 13 local taxpayers, represented by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, when a preliminary injunction against spending Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds to restore "historic" church properties was denied.

The double standard

The news today is that candidate Hillary Clinton has adopted the Bernie Sanders proposal to tax large estates at a 65% tax rate upon death, up from the current 40% tax. These "tax the rich" proposals are unfair and should not be part of our campaign debate, but unfortunately and divisively, are.

Let's say you are rich, and have always wanted to own a classic Rolls Royce. So you find the car of your dreams and pay $1,000,000 for it.

The money you spent is yours. It is after-tax earnings.

Special Town Meeting's Senior Center proposal

If you didn't know it, there is a Special Town Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, October 5, 7 pm, at the ABRHS's upper gym (enter near the parking lot up the hill from the auditorium, where the meeting usually takes place.)

I went to the Town's website yesterday to confirm the date and look at the warrant. Nothing posted in the calendar for the meeting and no warrant, despite the meeting being just two weeks away. (Today, the warrant is available:

Town argues in favor of public funding for churches in court

By Allen Nitschelm

Note: I am one of the 13 Acton taxpayer plaintiffs suing to stop the Town of Acton from funding religious organizations under the Community Preservation Act (CPA), so am extremely biased on this topic! Below are my impressions from the court hearing on 9-14-16. These views are mine alone and do not represent the position of the plaintiffs or their counsel.

Currency manipulation

I read in today's Wall Street Journal (9/6/16) that the European Union's Central Bank is considering buying stocks instead of bonds, because they are running out of bonds to buy in their stimulus program.

The article, which sounded very supportive but also not alarmed by this suggestion, then gave some examples of countries that were already investing in the stock market. Switzerland, for example, has about 20% of its foreign reserve invested in stocks, with a value of around $1 trillion.

Jamie, leggo my wallet!

Senator Bernie Sanders made a fairly big splash this year, partly due to the energy of young, idealistic Democrat voters, and partly due to the toxic nature and many scandals of the leading candidate for the Democrat nomination who is now the nominee.

The snake, the farmer, and the epi-pens

There is an old tale of a farmer who finds a half-frozen snake in the field and takes pity on the poor, nearly dead creature. To warm it up, he puts it inside his shirt. When the snake revives it bites the farmer on the chest. The farmer is now going to die, but he asks the snake why he did it, after that act of kindness? And the snake replies, it is just doing what it does according to its nature.

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:

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?