September 1, 2014
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My take on the news
Dangers when majority awards benefits for selves at expense of minority
Lonnie Barham

CALIFORNIA'S NOT "BACK ON TRACK":  Contrary to an editorial in last Friday's Providence Journal entitled "California back on track," that left coast state is far from back on track.  The editorial praised the state for passing a referendum that raises state taxes by $6 billion a year. Voters also gave Democrats two-thirds super-majorities in both houses of California's legislature, giving them the power henceforth to raise taxes even more and continue to increase spending without voter approval.  Governor Jerry Brown, in a statement many believe reflects his self-doubt that perhaps he has pushed a bit too hard for tax increases, urged the legislature to "show restraint out of respect to the voters who have just agreed to raise their own taxes."  

Does anyone really believe voters "agreed to raise their own taxes"?  California's tax hike referendum approval was a classic example of the majority of voters awarding benefits to themselves at the expense of the minority of voters.  When any voting population reaches the point where those benefiting from government spending outnumber those who are paying for those benefits, the obvious result will be approval of referendums that benefit the majority.  With the majority of Californians now in the "beneficiary group," the minority in the "paying group," and the legislature so strongly in the hands of tax and spend Democrats, the tipping point has been reached.  Flight has already begun; it won't take long for California to chase away most of that minority that is contributing to the state's economy.  Far from being "back on track," California will then slip off the metaphorical edge and disappear into an ocean of economic despair.

GROSS STATE INEFFICIENCY:  Over eight years ago, the Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Court ruled against the Derderian brothers, owners of the ill-fated Station nightclub, and levied a penalty of just over a million dollars against the brothers for their failure to carry required workers’ compensation insurance.  A few months later, a three-judge panel conducted a hearing on the brothers' appeal but never issued a ruling.  The brothers filed for bankruptcy hoping to eliminate the penalty through that route, but in 2007 the bankruptcy court ruled the penalty could not be erased.  Still, the appeals panel did not issue a ruling.  So, did the state move to either collect the penalty or push the panel to issue a ruling? No!  The Department of Labor and Training, the agency responsible for pursuing such matters, dropped the ball and allowed the issue to lie dormant for the past six years, while the Workers Compensation Court sat on its hands in silence without issuing a decision on the appeal.  How could two state agencies just forget to pursue the largest workers’ compensation penalty in Rhode Island history?  Certainly, the Derderian brothers were not going to bring it up.  They must have thought they were sliding by for free.  That is until the Providence Journal began inquiring about the case late last month.  Suddenly, after six years, the state has resurrected the matter with the court's chief judge simply saying that the appeal "got off track" - the understatement of the century!  This is perhaps the worst case of state agency inefficiency ever suffered on our taxpayers.  Except in size, it even rivals the EDC's malfeasance in the 38 Studios fiasco. 

R.I. GUN VIOLENCE LEGISLATION:  The R.I. House is considering several provisions to be included in proposed gun violence legislation.  A House spokesman listed several possible provisions, to include "bans of certain weapons and high-capacity magazines, increased background checks, and strengthening sentences for certain gun-related offenses."  Seemingly an afterthought, the spokesman added that also being discussed are methods to report to a national database the names of individuals who are dangerous to themselves or to others.   Massacres such as the one in Newtown, CT will happen again and again so long as lawmakers place mental health reform as the last priority in gun violence legislation.  Demented individuals will always find access to a gun, knife or other instruments of violence.  Only when we better identify, treat, and track the mentally ill will we lessen the chance of another Newtown.  

LANGEVIN WANTS TO PROTECT "CYBER SEAS":  With the Pentagon and other government facilities having already been attacked by foreign hackers, primarily cyber terrorists in China who are likely a part of, or supported by, the Chinese government, and numerous large U.S. companies having also fallen victim to such attacks, it is time for our government to get tough on cyber terrorists who are restricting digital shipping across the "cyber seas".  Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that a "cyber Pearl Harbor" is coming, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proclaimed that we have to begin making it clear to the Chinese that we will not tolerate their continued cyber piracy.  Our own U.S. Congressman, James Langevin, has been at the forefront pushing our government to adopt more stringent anti-cyber crime policies and to create more effective cyber intrusion countermeasures.  It's high time the rest of Congress gets behind Congressman Langevin on this.  Just as President Thomas Jefferson sent military forces to clear the Barbary Coast of pirates who were obstructing American ships on the literal seas, it is now time for our country to take whatever steps are necessary to stop cyber pirates from restricting American digital commerce on the cyber seas.    

MEDIA BIAS IN FAVOR OF GUN RESTRICTIONS:  Wandering far from their ethical responsibility to pursue unbiased, objective journalism, most news media outlets are incredibly biased in their reporting and editorializing in favor of proposed restrictions on Second Amendment rights.  The Providence Journal, in an egregious example of this bias, used an excerpt from an anti-gun story in the Arab News of Saudi Arabia to further its argument for gun-rights restrictions.  Of course, Islamic dictators and kings oppose gun rights.  After all, how could they impose their cruel, draconian, undemocratic decrees upon their citizens if those citizens were armed?  Would Syria's Bashar Assad have remained in power so long had Syria's citizens individually possessed the means to resist his bloody dictatorship? Quoting an Islamic newspaper to support an argument against an American institution that is embedded in and protected by the U.S. Constitution constitutes an abrogation of a newspaper’s obligation to report the news objectively.  Frankly, it's an insult to readers!       

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:  In last Sunday's Wall Street Journal, columnist Joe Queenan outlined how some of our venerable institutions are going the way of the dodo bird and the eight-track player - for example: Saturday mail delivery, gerrymandering, Muzak, the Canadian penny, etc.  Admitting these "institutions" are antiquated and useless, he nevertheless laments their passing from our culture and wonders what might be next.  His wondering includes Rhode Island as a possible throwaway since, in his opinion, it is "Exactly like the penny: cute, pocket-size, but way too expensive to maintain."  The way our elected leaders have made our state “way too expensive to maintain,” it’s no wonder “we just don't get no respect!”  


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