September 19, 2014
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My Take on the News
The land of lobstuhs and mobstuhs?
Lonnie Barham

John Galt Lives! Kudos to Quantas Airlines, the largest in Australia, for shutting down all operations in response to the Australian Government’s foot-dragging on Quantas’ request for relief from labor unions’ over-the-top demands. Just as Ayn Rand’s fictional John Galt did in her great novel Atlas Shrugged, Quantas said “I QUIT!” Its implied message, “If government-supported labor unions can force me to run my business into the ground by forcing me to give most of the results of my hard work to them, then I quit! You – labor unions, and you – government, start your own airline. See how well you can run a difficult business! I quit!” Faced with massive loss of tourist income, the Australian government relented and gave Quantas some relief, thus prompting the airline to resume operations. The salient question: Where are the John Galts in the United States?

AARP Director Wrong: The Director of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) in RI, Kathleen Connell, has clearly overstepped her bounds! Without consulting the AARP membership, Connell is using her AARP position to lobby in opposition to pension reform while implying the entire membership is behind her. They are not! The majority of RI’s AARP members did not retire from public service jobs; most retired from the private sector or continue to work there. They do not have the lavish retirement plans enjoyed by state and municipal workers in the debt-ridden state pension plan Connell is trying to protect. They only wish they had such benefits! Yet, these AARP members are paying huge taxes so public service employees can enjoy excessive retirement benefits. Ms. Connell is a retired public service employee who draws $46,000 per year in retirement income. Her personal stake in defeating the reform bill poses a giant conflict of interest. AARP members need to throw her out, and right away!

Pension Reform. Treasurer Raimondo gave an example this week of what a public service employee who, under the current plan, is eligible to collect 75% of his working pay in retirement would collect under the new pension plan. He would collect 40% of his working pay plus, on average, another 33% of working pay from social security, and 38% of his working pay from the 401(k)-type investment plan the reform envisions. This retiree would collect 111% of his working pay in retirement! Every private sector worker in Rhode Island would jump through hoops to have this kind of retirement. Yet, the unions, AARP, and other special interest groups want RI taxpayers – mostly private sector workers, to increase their taxes to pay for public service employees’ current gold-plated retirement plan. The taxpayers just can’t do it!

Iraq Withdrawal: More evidence has been uncovered that shows how amateurish President Obama’s diplomatic efforts were during the Iraqi government’s months-long decision making regarding the forced ending of U.S. military involvement in its country. Though U.S. interests were clearly at stake since continued U.S. military presence would have deterred civil war and discouraged Iranian meddling, White House logs show Obama did not call the Iraqi president at all between February 3rd and the date last week when Iraq made its decision to throw us out! Eight months of complete silence by our president on a matter of such urgent diplomacy shows Obama is just as inept at guiding our foreign policy as he is at improving our economy!

Union Threat: Lynn Loveday, Vice President of Council 94, AFL-CIO, observing EngageRI rally support at the State House for pension reform, voiced a threat to defeat Governor Chafee and State Treasurer Raimondo in the next election. “We have the votes!” she said. Don’t be so sure, Ms. Loveday! Will you have the votes of private sector workers who make less than public servants and who look forward to pension checks with no benefits or COLAs? Will you have the votes of retired private sector workers who have never had a COLA? Will you have the votes of taxpayers who financed your members’ lucrative salaries for the past decades and who now finance your excessive retirement benefits? Most likely not! Perhaps you should take heed of the old saying, “It’s better to be a willow and bend with the wind but survive, than to be an oak that resists the wind but breaks.”

Patriot Act: Last week marked the tenth anniversary of passage of the USA Patriot Act, an act whose name has become an egregious misnomer since it is hardly patriotic to violate the Bill of Rights as the law authorizes our government to do. Key parts of the act were necessary in response to the 9/11 terrorists attacks on our country. However, the “emergency” act was intended to be temporary. Such acts have been invoked before during periods of war but none were allowed to last even close to ten years. Presidents Bush and Obama convinced Congress to keep renewing the act to the point it is now virtually permanent. And, instead of renewing only those necessary portions, Congress renewed almost the entire act – allowing government to conduct unconstitutional searches, invasions of privacy, warrantless wiretapping, etc., against law abiding Americans on our own soil. Are we becoming an Orwellian society with “Big Brother” watching our every move? Remember Ben Franklin’s caveat, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety (and will likely lose both).”

Criminal Promoted! Yes, sadly, the National Education Association of RI has promoted convicted cyber stalker, John Leidecker, to Deputy Executive Director. Every teacher in Rhode Island should be totally embarrassed and should demand the resignations of NEARI’s Executive Director Bob Walsh and its President, Larry Purtill. It’s no wonder most Rhode Islanders no longer support the teachers’ union?

Brown Hypocritical. Doesn’t it seem ironic and hypocritical for Brown University to embrace its historic military connections in its attempt to recover an old military sword it says was stolen from its archives, while simultaneously rejecting any modern military connection as it bans ROTC from its campus?

Obamacare. Polls published this week show the majority of Americans are now opposed to the Obamacare law that forces robust young people to purchase health insurance against their will. Only 34% of us support Obama’s seemingly unconstitutional legislation. Americans are sometimes slow to see the light but, fortunately, once we shake off the hypnosis cast by Obama’s smooth oratory, we eventually come to sane conclusions. The conclusion here: Obamacare is a bad pill for our country.

Politicians or Crooks? Most police officers will tell you that for every person arrested for any particular crime, there are another 10 who are not caught. So, what’s the story with our General Assembly? One nailed for drugs; one caught embezzling funds; another charged with assault; one arrested for rape! Although the sample size doesn’t meet the standard for rigorous statistical analysis, if the arrested vs. not-caught formula applies to the General Assembly, then there are around 40 more legislators who use drugs, embezzle, commit assault, or are otherwise engaged in abhorrent and illicit activities that have remained under the police radar. Yep, that’s Rhode Island – “the land of lobstuhs and mobstuhs!”


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1 comment on this item

Most people plan to retire between 62 and 66. The Raimondo plan presupposes that a worker will stay for 40 years,hence the 40%.Will employees be given the option of reduced benefits at 62? Just about every reasonable person in R,I. agrees that radical changes need to be made,particularly the absurd wrongly described COLA,which is in fact an automatic 3% raise. For the Treasurer to suggest that the new plan is comparable in worth to the existing plan simply is not accurate. It requires working longer,and getting a return on the 5% {matched by 1%} that can not be guaranteed.

We could stay in Iraq for 100 years,and the same internicine battles would be going on. Ask any of the Reublican candidates if they would send troops back in if they are elected. Herman Cain didn't even know that China had the bomb.Where did you get access to White House logs?

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