December 25, 2014
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My Take: One Man's View on the News of the Week
Change laws [that’s pension benefits] to keep RI functioning successfully
Lonnie Barham

About 80 people gathered last week at Burnside Park in Providence to “protest,” mimicking the much larger gathering near Wall Street in New York City. Like the NYC group, the Providence group articulated absolutely nothing specific it wishes to change to make America better – no ideas to curb “corporate greed” or “elected misrepresentation.” The 80 seemingly protested for the sake of protesting, not to help engineer change. Indeed, one protester would like to see an “alternative power structure” to represent Americans. Does this group, which also wants to rename Burnside Park “The People’s Park,” want to destroy our representative democracy? What kind of government would they replace it with? Beware of Utopians who seek to change the form of government to “better serve the people.” That’s exactly what Lenin and Marx intended at the outset of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. What came from that bloody social experiment? Decades of Communism!

Believe it or not, Council 94 President Michael Downey’s statement about Rhode Island’s broken public service pension system, “Four decades of a free ride are coming home to roost,” was directed at state government and not at his fellow union members whose decades of a “free ride” of excessive benefits and relatively small contributions caused the majority of the problem.

Neighbors on Daboll Street in Providence are opposed to the Providence Rescue Mission opening a women’s and children’s homeless shelter in their neighborhood. This is the kind of necessary enterprise Daboll Street and all Rhode Islanders should support wholeheartedly! It was built and will be operated solely with charitable donations without a penny of taxpayers’ money. From all accounts, the Mission’s operating history on Cranston Street has been sterling and has added great value to that neighborhood. Hey, Daboll Street! Let’s shelve the NIMBY attitude and give this worthwhile cause a fair shot.

Can the General Assembly change or overturn a law passed by a previous General Assembly? Of course it can! That’s its whole purpose, to pass laws that keep Rhode Island society functioning successfully. So, since the General Assembly can change laws, how can any law it previously passed be considered a never-changeable, implied contract as Judge Taft-Carter ruled in the case brought by unions to enforce pension benefits passed by a previous legislature? The judge’s decision seems to be entirely contrary to common sense. Fortunately, the Rhode Island Supreme Court will weigh in on this with presumably better legal reasoning than that used by the lower court.

More projections have been released on the cost of Obamacare. Families of four with annual net income under $89,400 will get an average of $5,000 in health care subsidies. This means that a family of four making $120,000 per year in gross income (before deductions) could qualify for a subsidy. Who is going to pay for this? How can the federal deficit not grow even larger because of Obamacare? Yet, Obama claims the law will save money! Remember the pejoratives pinned on former presidents to call attention to their slippery, deceptive rhetoric? Nicknames like “Tricky Dick” for President Nixon and “Slick Willie” for President Clinton? Should we now say hello to “Buttery Barack?

State Treasurer Gina Raimondo is close to unveiling a plan to restructure the state’s public service pension system that is $7 billion in debt. Our major cities, however – including Providence, Warwick and Cranston – have their own pension systems that, combined, are in debt to the tune of another $2 billion. These cities should pass resolutions now that will bind them to implement whatever measures Raimondo presents that are passed by the General Assembly. Otherwise, these cities will have to endure months or years of strife and political wrangling to reach a point of pension viability. With local political consensus reached now, even though Raimondo’s plan is not yet known, it will commit the cities to viable recovery measures and will avoid future political finger pointing when austere measures must then be taken.

Activists for illegal immigrants used young children with white roses at the State House in an attempt to push Governor Chafee further along the path to making Rhode Island a sanctuary state for illegal aliens. Shame on these activists for using children to push their ideology! They were clearly trying to deceive the public into thinking it is this age group that most citizens oppose being educated at taxpayers’ expense. It is the education of college-level illegal immigrants at taxpayer expense that is at issue – not the education of doe-eyed young children in angelic white bearing roses. Even Rhode Islanders in favor of in-state tuition for illegal aliens should be offended by this deceptive tactic.

President Obama is planning to issue an executive order requiring corporations to divulge their political contributions for the past two years before they can compete for federal contracts. This is an egregious attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case, the decision that declared it unconstitutional to require such disclosures, and is also an outright attempt to bring politics into the procurement process – a move that will surely corrupt it. Do we want our soldiers using equipment that was manufactured based on a corporation’s politics instead of on its ability to produce quality products? This is another example of the arrogance that makes Obama think he can circumvent Congress and the Supreme Court. The American people need to decide whether they want a president or a king.

How will the $600,000 removal of the Pawtuxet River dam increase the migration of anadromous fish as the DEM and marine biologists contend? These fish are genetically marked to return to their birthplace to spawn. If the dam prevented such fish from swimming up the river since it was built in 1924, then none of the fish currently alive were spawned there. So why would fish not spawned in the Pawtuxet River choose to use it to spawn instead of returning to their own birth rivers?

Lastly, the past week marked the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the war in Afghanistan. Since the Vietnam War, America’s veterans have pledged “never again!” That never again will there be war without end and never again will troops come home to anything other than a welcome home and a thank you. Certainly, the welcome home and thank you part has been honored. The unending war piece? Not so much!


Comments
2 comments on this item

Wow!

I am not an attorney and certainly not a legal scholar, but I would think that there must be laws made by a contractual agreement between individuals or legistrative bodies that cannot be broken. Doesn't the term "Breach Of Contract" apply ? Certainly the General Assembly can and does change laws that it has made, but if the laws are binding through contract I would think that only a court can make the change.

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