Friday, July 14, 2017 1:00 am
Let's fix Obamacare
Whatever its problems, Obamacare is BETTER than TRUMPCARE. We must have better health insurance. Support improving Obamacare and urge the Republicans to improve it given the shambles of Trumpcare.
Michael J. Obringer
Three questions frame debate over tax increase
An enlightening discussion broke out at my council meeting this week. John Crawford challenged Jason Arp to say how he would have cast a hypothetical vote in the past. “Answer the question,” Crawford repeatedly demanded, trying to pin Arp as being against a popular civic venue, a baseball stadium.
Arp responded that it was easy to hold up “shiny new objects” as successes, but it was difficult to see how their funding had been stolen from other “unseen” efforts. The discussion then moved on, and the tax increase was approved.
The councilmen had broached an almost 170-year-old concept, one that forms a basis of modern economics. First stated in Frédéric Bastiat's 1850 essay, “What is Seen and What Is not Seen,” it entered the popular American discussion with Henry Hazlett's 1946 work, “Economics in One Lesson.” Hazlett reduces economics to one paragraph:
“The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.”
That was important in advance of this particular vote. To be decided was whether the council should impose a tax increase to finance a riverfront development and promenade that promised to make the city a tourist “destination point.”
Nobody, of course, can be against being turned into a destination point. However, Bastiat, Hazlett and Councilman Arp first would have wanted to know: 1. compared with what; 2. at what cost; and 3. on the basis of what hard evidence.
Those questions were unanswerable, or at least unanswerable in the time the council members had allotted. Now it is Arp who will be demanding, “Answer the questions.”
Seek end to 'paper charge'
I recently decided to review the billing column from a local soft water company and discovered a line entitled “paper billing charge,” followed by “2.00.” I wondered how long I have been paying this ludicrous fee.
As a senior citizen, I have absolutely no idea how to pay a bill electronically. I called about this, and the lady kindly explained that they can exempt some people, such as the Amish and senior citizens, from paying this extra fee. Obviously, all we have to do is call and explain our circumstances.
That's a nice enough policy, but how many people know to make a call to see whether they qualify for this exception, and what about people who can't afford a computer – even for their children who are in school?
I want to alert neighbors and friends to check all your bills, line for line, to see whether you can also qualify for exemption from paying such a discriminatory and ridiculous fee.
I had a Sunday-only subscription to this newspaper. I realized that I was reading maybe only six or 10 pages of it and often completely ignored the advertisements and inserts; it just didn't seem worthwhile.
It seemed that, as inexpensive as it is, I was ending up with a lot of unused paper that I could do without, so I let the subscription expire. And then Maine Gov. Paul LePage opened his big mouth. I have resubscribed. Newspapers are important.
Franklin T. Hoffman