Monday, May 31, 2010

Baldacci a bit “windy” on wind power….and “location”

You may have seen issues of “The Maine Democrat” distributed around town in recent years.  It’s now known as “Maine Insights.”

It’s an unabashedly partisan publication that usually averages one picture of Governor Baldacci per page.   If I was a lawyer, I’d muse on how it avoids being considered a campaign tool for Democrat officials as a group; but I’m not.

The periodical is published, written, and photographed by Ramona du Houx, whom I believe to be the mother of our own local state representative, Alex Cornell du Houx.

I usually pick up a copy and scan it to see what’s going on.  This month’s issue features an “exclusive interview” by Ms. du Houx with our governor, focusing on the alternative energy sector.

In it, this comment by the governor is cited:

“Key to it all is location. A company building a wind farm in New England doesn’t want to ship them from Iowa. Maine is the most North Easterly state in the United States. Everyone coming from overseas lands in Maine first. It’s all about location, location, location.

I could express astonishment; first, that the governor would say such a thing, and second, that the publisher/author would report it as such.

But what’s the use?  We’ll just have to assume they know a lot more about this than we do, just like on most other things the government gets involved in.

There’s got to be some great opportunities here for somebody….hot dog carts, souvenirs, you name it.  Perhaps even a latter day “Ellis Island,” figuratively if not literally.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A “Towering” Lake Basebegone Update, May 26, 2010

Things have been pretty quiet around Lake Basebegone, especially since last month when Lake Johnbegone began to suggest itself as a new name for the area.  We still have fond memories of that photo taken at Wild Oats where Johnny Protocols and his trusted adviser Barrister Bailey were seen not purchasing anything from an iconic local business while they discussed the former’s failure to follow Maine clean election funding protocols.

We’re still not ready to place any bets that the dynamic, if hapless duo are through with their plans to advance their goals in our midst.  Lucy never ran out of ideas, and inspiration is everywhere.

Now to the news of the moment.  Your correspondent, cursed with irrepressible intellectual curiosity, filed a Freedom of Access request with the MRRA a few weeks back, asking for information related to the Memorandum of Understanding and associated “due diligence” materials, associated with Oxford Aviation.  Side requested as well those documents relating to the subsequent F. Lee Bailey proposal, from which he withdrew in early February with great fanfare, with the most prominent notes blown by The Ostrich’s self-indulgent bugling.

As you might expect, the MRRA responded through their attorneys, essentially putting out the predictable stiff arm, claiming “confidentiality,” especially as it relates to “attorney-client” communications.  It’s abundantly clear that the MRRA has a nearly fool-proof way of protecting anything it deems problematic…simply have your attorneys involved in the paper trail.

Let’s put that aside for the moment; we’re letting our legal department study the ‘protocols’ involved to determine what actions we’ll take next.  For today, however, we can report that the MRRA did provide us with a copy of the letter by which Bailey withdrew his proposal to form a new business entity, in which he hoped to put a new face on the Oxford snafu.

You can read the entire letter at:

It is notable for a variety of reasons.  First, Bailey’s penchant for sweeping hyperbole and flights of fancy, reported on in the past.  To whit:

…which could morph Oxford Aviation’s towering world-wide reputation for skill and quality in aircraft refurbishing into similar results with business jets, for which there is a large and growing market.

Excuse me, Mr. Bailey, would that be the same Oxford Aviation shown in these photos?



Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ta Da! A milestone of sorts…..

Your correspondent just noticed that the most recent post marked the 300th since the founding of Other Side.   Some have been short, some painfully long, but all, we trust, have given you a pause, or a smile, or at the very least, a reason to visit again.

With a few weeks to go before we ‘celebrate’ one year in the books, this represents an average of about 6 items a week, which is a pace difficult to sustain.  At least if you want to have a real life.

But we’ll see how it goes.  When you’re fond of shooting your mouth off, and you’re in a target rich environment, sometimes you don’t have much choice.

Remembering that the founding was at least in part inspired by the lack of accommodation in the traditional (and dying) local print media, it’s worth noting that over the same period, we could have had 12 letters and 12 commentaries published.

So for those who wondered, yes, it’s true.  The editorial standards here at Side are a good deal more loose and lax than those of The Ostrich.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Equity - a postscript

The first vote cast on the prior post on equity was for “idiotic.”

Bingo!  I think we have a winner!  Please contact Poppycock Media Enterprises to claim your prize.

Of course it’s idiotic; that was the point of the essay!  To show what happens when the self-anointed visionaries of fairness and justice decide to engage in social engineering to compensate for (if not outright repeal) the natural, if not fully predictable consequences of being of the human species in a free society.

This is what you get when you decide to make yourself feel good by pursuing the unnatural political and social correctness of the day….you open up a can of worms that looks innocent at first.  But that little can has more worms than you realized, and pretty soon they’re scrambling beyond your reach and into everything, becoming so troublesome you don’t know how to get them back in.


And you uncover some pretty glaring cognitive dissonance, like the inequity in teacher compensation.

For years, we’ve listened at budget time to heartfelt testimony about how wonderful and dedicated all our teachers are, as if there was a sound basis on which to believe that 250 or so classroom personnel could all be in the 95th percentile.

Fine; if our teachers are all ‘equally’ wonderful and dedicated, then why aren’t they all making ‘equally’ wonderful pay in a resounding show of employment equity and justice?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Equity; you say you want “equity?” Hey, I got your equity right here!

First, a brief quote to set the stage:

Free people are not equal, and equal people are not free.

In simple terms, this means those who have equality imposed upon them will by definition lack the freedom to find their own way, while those who are free to find their own way will not arrive at equal outcomes.  It is the nature of human individuality.

“Equity” is one of the great conversation stoppers in today’s political discourse.  Like “fair,”  “social justice,”  “community,” and “the common good.”

You don’t oppose equity, do you???

A fine example of “equity” is the campaign to ensure that women earn the same pay as men for equivalent work.  All sorts of social and psychic energy has been invested in this goal, not to mention untold millions in lawyers fees.  (Somehow the lawyers always make out, don’t they?)

Closer to home, you may recall that “equity” was emphasized by “for the children” advocates, or as we think of them here on Side, the ‘schoolies.’  They used equity as a major reason to build a new school, and to completely realign the grades allocated to the various schools.  They seek to minimize the inequities children experience due to physical plant differences and the happenstance of where they live.

The more I’ve thought about this, the more I’ve embraced this notion of equity forwarded by the schoolies.  How could one not; let’s see that every child has their 3rd grade experience in the same school so that none has any advantage from doing grade 3 in one school vs. kids doing it in a different school.

This is a profoundly egalitarian concept.  Accordingly, then, we might decide that all Brunswick children will henceforth do their 3rd grade year at the new school on McKeen.  Judging by current enrollment profiles, we could expect 180 students or so in the 3rd grade.  If the average is 20 children per class, we’ll need nine 3rd grade teachers.

But wait – there’s a little problem.  In the 08/09 school year, the pay for 3rd grade teachers ranged from a low of $33,125 to a high of $59,488, the latter number being 80% higher than the former.  Not quite a range of 2 to 1, but pretty close.

Presumably the highest paid teacher works harder and does a better job teaching the standard curriculum in the classroom when compared to the lowest paid teacher.  Or her students achieve at a much higher level than those of the lowest paid teacher.  Or both.

This has to be, because surely the Brunswick School Department espouses pay equity.  Perish the thought they would consider it equitable to pay one teacher 56% of what another teacher earns to do the exact same job with the same outcomes. I’m getting the vapors just thinking about the possibility.

Knowing our officials could never be so unjust, we’ll conclude that the teachers are paid based on their abilities, their responsibilities, and the results they achieve; there could be no other legitimate explanation for the wide disparity in pay for teaching the 3rd grade.

Which takes us to the subject of equity “for the children.”  If all 3rd graders attend the new school, with nine different 3rd grade teachers, we’ve got an equity conundrum.  Who will study under the best teacher, and who will study under the worst?

If the teachers are as different in quality as their pay levels would imply, how do we make sure that “the children” do not have an inequitable 3rd grade experience?  We can’t permit some children to spend the year with the best teacher, some to spend the year with the worst teacher, and the rest to be sprinkled across the range of teacher qualities in between.

Oh, what to do?  How will we ensure that Marcellus has the same advantages as Amaryllis?  And vice versa.  And not a bit more.

Now that we think of it, we have to wonder why the lower paid third grade teachers aren’t demanding pay equity with the better paid teachers.  They’re doing the same job, right?  Aren’t they teaching the same aged kids to the same curriculum for the same outcomes?  Don’t they have equal responsibilities?

How can it be celebrating equity to pay them so differently?  How can town leaders and officials endorse such imbalance?  Don’t they believe in fairness and justice?

Or do the higher paid teachers get proportionately more kids in their class, or get handed the worst learners, while the lower paid teachers get smaller classes and the better learners?

I don’t know.  Perhaps you do.

Until we find out, though, it looks like we have to do the following.  On the first day of school, divide the 180 third graders evenly among the nine third grade teachers.  To make the equity thing work out, each month the students will have to rotate to a different teacher’s class room, in a sort of equity driven musical chairs protocol.

It may sound odd, but when your goal is equity, it’s worth the troubles.  If only one child overcomes what would have been teacher disadvantage syndrome, Brunswick, and the world, will be a better place for it.

Voila; now that’s equity.  We’ve solved the problem for the children, even if it does mean a new teacher each and every month.

Now if we could just do something about that pesky equal pay for equal work challenge, then equity would really have meaning in our schools. 

Instead of the shibboleth it usually is, especially among the education professionals, who aren’t setting a very good example ‘for the children.’  Or for us, either, come to think of it.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Teachers are “underpaid,” and other fantasies…

As often happens here on Other Side, one thing leads to another, and then another thing leads to a second thing.  And then the second thing leads to another thing….and then, well, you get the general idea.  Or you don’t.  Either way, here we are.

And that’s what happened in the last few days, which is why dedicated Side followers have had to endure several days without any new posts.  Oh, I suppose I could tell you that I’ve been busy revising our freedom of access request to the MRRA, which I have, but it’s more amusing to suggest that I’ve been intentionally teasing you.

Here’s how things have rolled out.  In this most recent post, I advised you of the message I sent to the School Board and the Town Council.  One school board member replied to my message, and among other things, asserted that teachers are “underpaid.”  I responded ‘au contraire’ – some may be underpaid, but some are surely overpaid. 

During these same few days, I happened upon detailed payroll information for the Brunswick School Department for the 08/09 school year, which is the prior school year.  I found it endlessly informative as I sorted, calculated, and otherwise examined it.

The more I studied it, the more astonished I became.  Especially when compared to the salary schedule for the town’s top officials.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Brunswick’s School Budget: False packaging, and so much more

Perhaps you saw the recent article in the Forecaster on Brunswick School Budget deliberations, or perhaps you didn’t.  The Ostrich followed, in typically distinguished form, on the same subject.

Your reporter, frankly speaking, was livid over the details disclosed.  And the Superintendent’s praise for the arrangement with the teachers’ union only added fuel to the flames.

"There was a lot of hard work on both sides," he said. "Everyone needs to take credit for it."

Rather than babble on and on as usual, I’ll cut to the chase and use an escape mechanism – playing back prior work.

In keeping with our full disclosure and transparency policies here at Side, we’re appending this missive which was sent to School Board members and Town Councilors earlier this week, prior to the meeting held by the former on Wednesday night.

Dear School Board Members:

I am writing because of serious concerns about the state of Brunswick School Department finances as expressed by the current budget proposal, and the pending Teachers' Contract you are being asked to approve.

First, the budget.  Last week, when the Superintendent briefed the town council on the budget, he pointed out that Brunswick is more or less in the middle of the pack on per student spending.  The larger context is that Maine spends 25% more than the national average, yet test scores have dropped.  And that Maine's student-to-teacher ratio is 11 to 1, compared to a national average of 14 to 1.

These details are from a study reported in a published article that you can find here:

And the last time I saw comparative figures in state, Brunswick was among the lowest in student to teacher ratio state wide.  Surely that is even more pronounced given our 20% enrollment loss in the last few years.

Spending per student compared to other districts is only cited when it provides a sympathetic view, and ignores variables like district size, etc.

I believe the change in Brunswick's (year over year) per student spending is far more telling, and rings the alarm bell for decisive intervention.  The figures I use are determined by dividing the total school department budget by the enrollment reported to Maine's DOE.

Here they are; the first column is the school year; the second column is the proposed budget; the third column is the reported enrollment; the fourth column is the enrollment decline; and the last column is the spending per student.

05-06 29663 3,355   8,841
06-07 31587 3,333 -22 9,477
07-08 32735 3,201 -132 10,226
08-09 33621 3,101 -100 10,842
09-10 33471 2,746 -355 12,189
Apr 10   2,655 -91 12,354
10-11 32800 ??    

In other words, in just four years, spending per student has gone from less than $9,000 to more than $12,000, a nearly 40% increase.  This is unreasonable under any scenario, and no explanation or justification has ever been given to those who pay for it all.

It remains to be seen how many more students will be lost over the summer and what the cost per student will be in the coming year.  If we lose another 100, the cost per student will approach $13,000, and that's with the various "concessions" that are being publicized, all of which we can be sure will be recaptured and re-instituted, leading to a major budget spike next year.

It's time the School Board, acting on behalf of your constituents, treat this cost growth as an unsustainable and unwarranted profile, and demand a complete analysis and plan for mitigation from the Department staff.  Anything else amounts to forsaking the Board's fiscal oversight responsibilities and fiduciary obligations to town residents.

Which takes us to the second subject.  It is well known that the single largest component of the School Department budget is teacher pay and benefits.  And it's also well established that teachers get generous pre-approved annual salary increases regardless of their individual or the schools' overall performance, and that merit is specifically avoided in any and all ways as a salary determinant.

As publicized, the contract proposal now before you makes no sense from a fiscal responsibility standpoint; it is, in so many words, a "variable rate contract" with an undefined "balloon payment." To be frank, it is a shamefully transparent publicity stunt that simply defers a confrontation, delays an unavoidable budget crisis, and backs the School Board into a corner with an undetermined plan for getting out.

While I object with the overall approach and philosophy to such contracts, I will limit my comments here to a few specifics.

1)  The "concession" is being publicized as "teachers are accepting a pay freeze."  That is a certifiable lie.  Each teacher will get the step increase they would ordinarily get in the coming year, and these increases average about $1,500, or about 3% for most teachers.  That is not a "pay freeze" by any stretch.  And we can be certain that the cost of their benefits is increasing as well.  What they are accepting is the lack of a "general increase" to the overall salary tables, which generally run around 2% on top of the step increases.

2)  Also proposed is a "two year moratorium" on course work reimbursement.  There should be little doubt this means teachers will not be taking courses for the duration of the moratorium.  This is not a concession as reasonable citizens would understand the term.

3)  And then the balloon payment and variable rate nature of the contract: it is for a two year term, but with the terms of the second year to be defined later by going "back to the table."  In other words, it kicks a very large can forward, and will result in a major financial challenge in less than a year, with unknown consequences.  Is there any doubt that the union negotiators will demand that the "foregone" general increase be recovered, and more?  And that they will use their "good-faith pay freeze" concession as a publicity weapon?

It simply defies reason to enter into such an agreement in the course of fulfilling your obligations to the town.  Would you do it in your personal financial life?  If not, how can you sign up everyone else in town for such a one-sided document, with such a clear trap?

The coming year and years will only make things worse.  Our enrollment will continue to decline, putting negative pressure on GPA; federal impact aid and Durham tuition must zero out; and it is apparent that Maine's economy, especially in the local region, will likely decline and suffer for a lengthy period.

It is very obvious that the state has major revenue problems, and that revenue comes from two major sources: personal income taxes, and the sales tax.  The clear decline in both sources is unmistakable evidence that the average Maine resident is being forced to live on less income, and is spending less because of it.

Under these circumstances, more-so than ever, the School Budget profile and especially the teachers' demands are an insult to local taxpayers and responsible governance.  In effect, the School Department, and most especially the teachers' union, are asking beleaguered taxpayers to fork over a larger portion of the smaller pie they are forced to live on.  All with the force of law.

This is unconscionable, and is symptomatic of the financial crises we see at every level of government, and now on a worldwide basis.
It calls for deliberate and brave action on your parts, and I implore you to begin that process now.  If you don't, it will only be worse next year.

Pem Schaeffer

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On friendliness, environmentalism, and the “future”

(Which is to say, reflections from a stroll moments ago with Sweety-bitch and Boo-Boo, who, not surprisingly, could care less what I reflect on or have to say about things.)

I’ve read more than once over the years that the environmental activism of today, especially that focused on conservation, is the old population control wolf of decades ago dressed up in new sheep skins.  And that in many cases, it adds a commitment to collectivism into the mix.  Think “the woods belong to all of us” as I read a few years back in a letter to the editor.

Let me save some time here by “bullet listing” the pretexts for this brief essay:

  • Recent kerfuffles over whether Brunswick and the region are “business friendly.”
  • This recent post in which your ever-so-thoughtful correspondent ruminated on The Ostrich’s printing of a commentary in praise of childlessness.
  • This more recent post in which The Ostrich  innuendoized (my new word) about the social injustice of women bearing children they conceived, and then unwisely delivered on suspect moral or religious grounds.

These provide a salient backdrop for another item on The Ostrich Opinion page this week, submitted by, of all people, a Reverend, a man of the cloth.  Which only adds to the possible interpretations of the activist thrusts of our day.  It’s well reported that the greens are doing whatever they can to co-opt “religion” as commonly understood in this age. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Base, the School, and ‘design guidelines’

For months now, we’ve been driving past the new school construction site at Spring and McKeen, struggling to figure out what the finished edifice will look like, and wondering how it will ‘fit in’ with the surrounding neighborhood and its existing structures.

Convinced that careful renovation of the original section of the Old High School and preservation of the gym would have had a remarkable effect on the neighborhood, we confess that we have yet to come around to believing that the new school will be a net positive architecturally speaking.

But as you know, we come from the engineering view of life, not the ‘creative’ side, so our credentials and tastes in such matters are suspect.  Even so, the depictions available, such as the one below, are not encouraging.

We note that this week the MRRA revealed its design guidelines for the base.  Reporting by The Ostrich included these passages:

the design standards aim to ensure that buildings on the base property mesh with the “look and feel” of the surrounding areas.

Our overall vision was to reflect the theme of the communities we’re in,” Levesque told those in attendance. “If you’re on the base or the Topsham Annex, you’ll see some of the same characteristics as you’d see in the downtowns.

We’re not exactly sure what this means, but we’re pretty sure that if you look at the graphic above, these were not the guidelines applied in the design of the new school.  It lacks the “look and feel” of the surrounding area; it doesn’t reflect the “theme of the community;” and you won’t see the “same characteristics” as you’d see downtown.

We might even go so far as to say the design expresses the sort of non-descript, faux modern style that typically looks dated in a decade or two, and was common in the 60s and 70s, especially in public structures.  The municipal building on Federal Street is a fine example of this school of design.  Virtually no discernible character, totally undistinguished, and completely inconsistent with its surroundings.

Which is to say the architectural distinction of the A-B and C-D wings of the now demolished “Old High School” that made them so beloved by our citizenry.

Perhaps they were the inspiration for the new school’s design.  Here we worried that the old landmark was being wiped from our community memory.  Leave it to our inspired “visioners” to see that we never forget the “themes” of our community.

Neighborhood residents must be thrilled, and who could blame them?

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Speaking of reasonableness……

Along those same numeric lines, the Ostrich opined earlier this week about a Steve Abbott commercial, giving it a big fat down arrow in their “Monday meter.”

While I haven’t seen the ad, the Ostrich editor says the ad states “Maine added a net of 56 jobs during the last 10 year (sic), at the same time the state’s welfare rolls increased by 109,000” and that it “raises some questions.”

Side has no stake in the candidacy of Steve Abbott, but we will go out on a limb and give him the benefit of the doubt on the figures; we believe anyone with his experience in politics knows the importance of using figures from credible, independent sources.

We will point out that the ratio here is 195 new welfare recipients for each net job added, and any way you look at it, that is a very troubling figure at any level.  And believable, given the exceptionally perverse economic and regulatory policy our public stewards in Augusta embrace.

We wish here to highlight the Ostrich’s completely predictable attempt to rationalize away the figures, since they could mount no challenge to them.

First, they wondered:

“How many of those new welfare recipients sought public assistance because they lost jobs during the financial meltdown precipitated by the Bush administration’s failed fiscal policy?”

To which we respond how much longer are you going to blame everything and anything on ‘failed Bush policies?’  Especially since job growth during the first seven years of his administration was continuous and sizable?  And didn’t you notice how our current potentate is ‘tired of the finger-pointing’ and won’t tolerate it anymore?  If this is the best you’ve got, don’t even address the subject; it only shows how bereft you are of critical thinking.


How many are parents whose jobs were shipped overseas and whose Unemployment Compensation ran out?

I don’t know, but my guess is not too many.  And if you want to be our informer and government watchdog, you should have been able to dig into things and come up with an answer, rather than toss out an innuendo.

Now a conversation stopper:

How many are disabled?

Anyone who questions this inference is mean-spirited by definition.  Again, the editors probably could have spent a few minutes on research and come up with an answer to their own question.  Maybe they did, and it didn’t help, so they went with the charge instead.

My intuition is that while some significant portion may be “disabled,” a goodly portion of those so designated are not ‘disabled’ as reasonable people think of that term.  Being declared disabled under current rules and regulations is far different from actually being disabled. 

Anyone who’s seen the videos of ‘disabled’ government employees playing golf knows what we mean.  Hell….I have no doubt that hundreds in this town consider this correspondent to be mentally deranged.

Here’s another ‘in your face’ conversation stopper:

How many are parents who for religious or moral reasons chose to bear a child that they could not afford without public assistance?

Take that, pro-lifers!  It’s your fault we have so many new welfare clients!  The other side, of course, is that welfare policy almost always increases benefits for additional children.  In other words, most of our policies incentivize having more children.

Looking into such details is a bridge too far for the Ostrich, though.  Far better it is to blame the huge growth in government dependency on….wait a minute… seems like the issues raised are all functions of government policy!

How could that be?  Isn’t the government here to make things better?

And isn’t the free press here to make sure we are better informed, instead of willfully misinformed?

I just wrote my answers on a little piece of paper that I’m hiding in my hand.  You show me your answers first, and then I’ll show you mine.

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What are they smokin’ at the Coastal Journal??

Its failings notwithstanding, there is much to be said in favor of journalism in that by giving us the opinion of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.
                                                        -Oscar Wilde

I’ve made sport of Gina Hamilton and The Coastal Journal on more than one occasion.  And in each case, I thought it was well deserved.

Every now and then, I feel inspired to cut her and the CJ some slack, which, it turns out, must be an omen.  Next thing you know, here comes a hanging curve ball about 12 inches in diameter, traveling just fast enough not to hit the ground before it crosses the plate.

Gina is a one girl journalistic band: editor, columnist, editorial writer, policy and economic “analyst,” and anything else that she feels moved to undertake.  Under the circumstances, we should expect her to exhibit some basic competencies, and she should expect even more of herself and her publication.

As a multi-degreed engineer, I learned early on in a variety of classes that there is something called a “test of reasonableness.”  It’s an instinct you develop, an intuition, that allows you to assess whether the answer you have calculated to a complex problem is, in fact, ‘reasonable,’ as distinct from ‘correct.’ 

If the answer does not seem reasonable to you, chances are very good that you screwed up somewhere.  Generally speaking, we’re talking about magnitudes, not accuracy.  $10, $1000, $1,000,000.  That sort of thing.

Let me give you an example or two.  If you go to lunch at McDonald’s and pay with a $100 bill, and you get $47 in change, you don’t have to do the math to know that something is wrong.  The change amount is not ‘reasonable’ on its face.  Or if you go to buy four new tires for your car, and the bill is $119, most of us would know immediately that the figure is wrong, even if we choose not to tell the employee.

Based on her “Drug policy and immigration control” editorial in this week’s edition, it’s clear that the otherwise cute and perky Gina suffers from  RID (reasonability instinct deficiency.)  And the magnitude or the errors in this week’s offering are sufficient to render her unqualified to engage in economic policy analysis on our behalf. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ostrich: Let’s worsen the demographic winter by advocating “family unfriendly” views

Recent events have spurred a good deal of discussion as to whether Brunswick, in any form you choose to think of it, is “business unfriendly.”  The Ostrich, ever seeking to build loyalty among its potential readership, chose to skewer selected town officials on the subject, while having ignored the subject of economic development approximately 99.44% of the time.

Now, if we are to judge by an item they ran last week, the Ostrich is advocating for a family unfriendly world view.  We are completely flummoxed as to how they see this as contributing to a “sustainable” future for those of us still left here.

Why do we say this?  Because of a “featured” commentary they ran this past Wednesday (May 5, 2010) that praised the concept of childless marriage (or women, to be more specific.)  What a delightful column to run as we approached Mother’s Day. 

Sometimes we think they’ve lost their bearings over there; other times we’re absolutely sure of it.  We have no doubt that numerous readers were offended by the column, and that others in our region cheered it.  Count this reporter as offended on behalf of his wife and his two children.

The commentary was supplied by a non-profit organization called “Blue Ridge Press,” which from all appearances operates a good distance away from Brunswick.  The author similarly lacks local reader credentials.

So we must assume that Ostrich editors chose to run the item because it reflects their views, just as when they choose to run syndicated columns by NY Times columnists like Paul Krugman.  Or when they lift work by others with whom they agree and run them in the editorial position.

You won’t find the commentary to which we refer on the Ostrich web page.  But you can find it here.

A few years back, this reporter authored a lengthy “report” on the circumstances surrounding the plans to build a new elementary school in Brunswick.  It included discussion of Maine demographics, and that section is appended below for the interested student.  (Or, for the really interested student, you can contact us by email, and we’ll forward you the entire report.)

In discussing worldwide demographics, this pithy comment by noted author Mark Steyn in his extremely insightful book “America Alone” was cited:

“There is no precedent in human history for economic growth on declining human capital – and that’s before anyone invented unsustainable welfare systems.”

We provide these two passages from the ‘BlueridgePress” item for your edification:

At fifty-something I am an adult, but not a mother. And though some will gasp in horror, I consider that to be my greatest achievement as a conservationist, although finding the first saw-whet owl ever reported in my part of Virginia ranks pretty high, too.

So even though the birthrate in America is historically low, curbing it further would be a good place to begin when trying to save the world. I am pleased to do my part.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Budget Season Redux: IED’s deployed, as per usual

It’s budget time again.   Slap!


It’s budget time again.   SLAP!!!



Yup; it’s time for the same old, same old, or as some think of it, silly season.

We have the hordes who moved to Brunswick “because of the library.”  I don’t suppose they’d be impressed if I said I moved here because of Frosty’s Donuts.  The difference between us, however obtuse it may seem, is that I don’t believe others have an obligation to keep Frosty’s operating so I can be happy.

Then we have quotes like this:

"In difficult times, how a community treats the library is an indication of what that community wants to be," Goodwin said.

Call me a goofball, or worse, but as I see it, in difficult times, how a community treats those compelled to pay for the library is an indication of what the community wants to be.  Maybe a subtle distinction to some, but a major one to this observer.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

“This and That” – May 1, 2010

A brief collection of items worthy of your awareness:

Traditional Media Circulation Continues To Slide

According to “media-mutt” Al Diamon, Maine’s established print media are continuing to lose circulation.  While the Press Herald and some others have declined to submit their recent figures, those that have show a consistent loss of readership (paid, at least.)

Brunswick’s revered Ostrich continued to demonstrate the wisdom of editorial policies that cater to less than half of their potential readership.

The Times Record in Brunswick was no exception to the trend. It went from a daily circulation of 8,673 a year ago to 8,091 now, a loss of 6.7 percent. The weekend edition dipped from 10,366 in 2009 to 9,583 in 2010, down more than 7.5 percent.

For the rest of the story, look here.

Public Sector Getting Rich on the Backs of the Middle Class

Got your attention there, didn’t I.  Regular readers know we’ve reported on the excesses of “public sector” unions before.  You may want to grab your ankles, or at least your knees, before you read further on this report though.

A periodical that we subscribe to recently carried an article that included this citation:

In Contra Costa, California, the final salary of one fire chief, 51, was $221,000. He was given an annual, guaranteed pension of $284,000. Another chief, 50, whose final salary was $185,000, got a pension of $241,000. Credit the Contra Costa Times with uncovering this.

You can read the entire article here.  And check out a referenced source here.

Too bad you didn’t take that job as a California fireman when you had the chance.  And 250 million Americans are thinking the same thing.

Coastal Journal – Government “Rescues the Economy”

Is your back hurting from bending over to absorb the last little snippet of good news?  Poor you; you better get used to it.

The Coastal Journal, which as we’ve opined before is the vehicle by which Editor Gina Hamilton earns a living while spewing collectivist and liberal orthodoxy, carried her “analysis” of the Obama administration’s plan for “Rescuing the economy” here.

I’ll spare you the gory details, other than to report that her review of the plans includes intentions to create a lovely array of new government agencies to oversee and improve our lives. The items below combine the “best ideas” of the house and senate versions of the bill.

Consumer Financial Protection Agency: Creates an independent agency with scope over financial products such as deposit accounts and loans.

Systemic Risk: Creates a new agency, called the Financial Services Oversight Council, which identifies threats to the stability of financial markets.

Investor Protection: Strengthens the SEC, and orders a study of the securities industry that will identify needed reforms.

Insurance: Creates a federal Insurance Office that will monitor all aspects of the insurance industry, including identifying gaps in regulation. (Or, if you prefer: Creates an Office of National Insurance in the Treasury Department to monitor insurance industry issues, coordinate international issues, and provide information and recommendations.)

Credit Rating Agencies: Creates the Office of Credit Ratings in the SEC.

Well!  I hope you feel better, because we certainly do.  How could we not when our aristocracy plans to create so many new agencies to look after our interests?  In all likelihood, the new government jobs will knock a tenth of a percent or two off the unemployment rate.  How could this not be good for us?

And now you know the Other Side of the story.

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