Preserve the last resort
In response to Barry Benepe’s letter about my pro Second Amendment statement: I appreciate the desire for peace of the pacifists. I and other constitutional supporters also hate violence and war. Yes we have learned from the bloody conflicts of the past. I have children. I don’t want to see them dead or fatherless. The point of the Second Amendment’s organization of citizen militias is as a last resort when ballots and courts have failed and the government repeatedly crosses the line drawn by our Constitution. We hopefully are not at that point. Plan A is our vote. Plan B is the courts, etc., and plan C, or perhaps I should say plan Z, would be use of the Second Amendment. But being the last resort, it is crucial that it not be undermined for sane, honorable and responsible citizens.
With all the corruption we have seen of our elections and courts, I have to ask some questions:
Do our votes still count? Are districts carved up to keep incumbents in power? Do corrupt people in our system sign up ineligible people by weakening voter ID laws? Do the dead vote? Do our votes get counted by mysterious “black boxes” vulnerable to manipulation by insiders? Do the corrupt uber powerful choose our corrupt candidates for us before we can get honest ones in? Are corrupt officials given boatloads of money by their puppeteers to win elections? And when an election is obviously rigged, do corrupt officials block any investigation without consequence? The answer unfortunately is that all of these have occurred, God knows how many times. I don’t mean give up voting, because sometimes the good guys still win. I believe in ballots not bullets but it is getting harder to believe all the time.
And to clarify, I do not mean that all government officials are corrupt or evil. I’m sure many are honorable. But we need to remain vigilant of the tentacles running down through the local level thru federal funding, grants, campaign contributions, initiatives, mandates, etc.
And don’t believe it when they say they support our constitution, the only document preserving our freedom. They secretly hate it because it limits their power. And lately it is being ignored like never before.
Real education reform
In the domain of public policies bearing on education, we must begin to assert control over a system that to all intents and purposes now runs itself, and is fast running itself into the ground, carrying our future with it. Despite the investment second only to our national defense budget, public education in the United States is a failure.
Consider the facts from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, in Chester Finn’s “We Must Take Charge.” Sixty-three percent of those ages 18 to 24 cannot find France on a map, less than half can find New York State, 94 percent of 11th graders cannot compute simple interest, in tests comparing math and science skills with those of five foreign countries and four Canadian provinces, American 13-year- olds finished last. Verizon found that only 2,000 out of 117,000 applicants pass its employment exam and 80 percent of applicants fail Motorola’s exam based on seventh grade English and fifth grade math. Yet, in spite of the facts, aptitude tests continue to satisfy the desires of most Americans; the illusion of living in a town where “all the children are above average.”
The first step toward solving a problem is to acknowledge and define it. Administrative policies dictating how teachers should teach or how they should grade is taking the initiative out of the profession. This dysfunctional custom only inhibits one’s capabilities and aspirations. We begin to realize then that passing grades do not necessarily translate into satisfactory levels of actual learning.
Consequently, no data exists to supply facts about the quality of what children learn. We are able to learn about school buildings, costs per pupil or find out how many years children stay in school, but we have no way of assessing whether the time spent in school is effective.
To quote Finn, “there are greater, more certain, and more immediate penalties in this country for serving up a single bad hamburger that for repeatedly furnishing a thousand schoolchildren with a bad education.”
Hein and the Park Point PILOT
The following comment was posted in response to Hugh Reynolds’ column last week outlining the county executive’s connection to the developers of Park Point, a student housing project in New Paltz.
pilots are nothing more than government granted, taxpayer-funded, slush funds to be returned in part to those individuals that allow the projects to save millions in taxes. Why should developers pay off county and local politicians with their own money when those bribes and palms to be greased can be paid for with taxpayer money? sWhat you see in the political campaign donations is nothing compared to the cold hard cash that changes hands under the table.
These pilots and all the “shenanigans” that go with them are a prime reason when you ask the county exec what he is doing to lower your taxes all he can say is “everything I can” while flashing you a cheesy grin and no one’s taxes ever go down. If truth be told and every dollar of taxes were collected and these developers actually had to make their projects profitable the old fashioned way the average citizen’s tax bills would be significantly lower. These revelations are no consolation to the thousands of homeowners and business persons who are struggling to find the money to pay their personal obligations. –Brian Collins
Fracking’s false promises
The ravages of Pennsylvania frack county including ill, bald dairy cows which are documented in the new movie, “Triple Divide,” reminded me of an acquaintance in Broome County who leased her horse farm to a gas company. I asked, “What will you do if/when your water is contaminated?” She said she will sell the place and move to Florida.
Sorry, Charlie. In the first place, banks are not offering mortgages in the counties of PA with fracking well pads. Homeowner insurance companies do not take stupid risks. Secondly, with methane release from all the shale gaslands accelerating ocean rise, Florida will be a salt water lake soon enough.
And do see “Triple Divide” at the Rosendale Theater Feb 26 at 7 p.m. The people of Pennsylvania did not have an excellent responsible documentary before their governor and legislators gave the state away to the gas industry with its “clean energy” lies.