Summer musings, happy and sad
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, July 23, 2015


Still enjoying the lazy, hazy days of summer, spent last weekend lounging on my screened porch reading a novel and sipping Chip’s excellent ice caramel coffee. I could do that for the rest of the summer.

However. Other people are very busy doing good things, and I decided to talk about them with Salem State’s Explorers Club on Monday. It seemed a good time to give a positive speech and I did my best, though I think the audience sensed my ongoing pessimism about the way things are going in America.

In no particular order, as I think of good activity:

The Salem News published a story about a hearing last week on a bill filed by state Representative Colleen Garry, D-Dracut. that, according to the State House News Service, would allow authorities to charge anyone who blocks “access to or upon the public highway or roadway for any purpose other than road construction, maintenance or official traffic direction by a public safety official” with attempt to murder, carrying a sentence of up to 20 years.

The highway protest last January, I don’t recall what it was about, blocked people from chemotherapy and dialysis appointments, as well as their jobs, connecting with small children, and just getting through their day. H 1335 would apply to all demonstrations regardless of the subject matter.

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My own state representative, Lori Ehrlich, along with many other legislators, has signed on to a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to die with dignity. This is something I, who believe in choice in all arenas, have long supported. H 1991 hasn’t had a hearing yet, but the issue came to mind this week when Medicare announced that it is considering allowing physicians to be reimbursed for discussing end-of-life care with their patients. I already carry my living will in my purse, but want even more control.

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Speaking of choice, Massachusetts has been ahead of the curve in supporting parental choice with its charter schools. Gov. Baker has placed raising the legislative cap on charter schools on his priority list, and I hear some citizens are planning a petition drive to let voters do this if the Legislature won’t.

Other citizens are planning a petition drive if necessary to stop Massachusetts involvement in Common Core, the federal takeover of education testing that would replace our existing MCAS standards. Local activists have been addressing this issue with their own school boards, notably in Peabody.

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One longtime advocate for education reforms, the Pioneer Institute, has just published a paperback book titled “Agenda for Leadership, Increasing Economic Mobility & Civic engagement in Massachusetts.”

I just got the book and haven’t read it yet but I’m sure by “economic mobility” they don’t mean recent manifestations of it, i.e., productive citizens moving out of Massachusetts to states that don’t have an income tax. Pioneer wants to bring back the American Dream of rising higher, earning more than in the past, right here in Massachusetts.

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To the contrary, a group calling itself Raise Up Massachusetts a coalition of community, religious and labor groups is working on language for a ballot question that would create a higher tax rate for wealthiest Massachusetts residents on income above $1 million. This is a fun image: constitutional amendment passes on Election Day Tuesday in 2018, millionaires start packing on Wednesday, Massachusetts no longer gets the 5 percent income tax rate, never mind a higher rate, applied to their money. What makes liberals economically ignorant?

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Here’s another fun thing, happening tonight at 8 when local Fox 25 is sponsoring an hour-long debate between supporters of Boston 2024 Olympics and the opposition group No Boston Olympics. The well-spoken leader of the No group, Chris Dempsey, and a partner will be debating two leaders of Boston 2024 for an hour, followed by media questions.

A different group, which recently repealed the automatic gas tax, is planning to collect signatures on a ballot question that would protect taxpayers from having to pay for the Olympics. For some reason Olympics proponents are planning their own petition drive.

I prefer to concentrate on a no vote, but the groups proposing ballot questions help to give the International Olympics Committee a sense that the public support may not be here and they might want to look elsewhere.

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Next I must mention a national story that is scary/infuriating but finally being addressed. The Washington Post reports that “between fiscal years 2010 and 2014, the Obama administration had released 121 unique criminal aliens who had an active (deportation) case at the time of release and were subsequently charged with homicide-related offenses.”

One murder we know about was the shooting of 32-year-old Kate Steinle by an undocumented immigrant, a repeat felon who had been deported five times to Mexico, according to immigration officials. Over the weekend I heard the Obama administration arguing that the border is secure, the number of illegal immigrants is down. How then is it possible for one felon to be deported and return five times?

This last time he returned, the felon admits heading for a “sanctuary city,” whose governments protect illegal criminals. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez was hanging out on the pier in San Francisco, where he murdered Kate as she was walking with her father. To my theme: Congressional hearings are being held on “Kate’s Law” to end the revolving door of deportation her killer benefited from, and on defunding sanctuary cities. We can all call our congressmen to support these laws. Meanwhile, Massachusetts has three “sanctuary cities” of its own: Cambridge, Chelsea and Orleans. You might want to avoid them if possible.

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Finally, some good summer news that I forgot to mention to the Explorers Club: the number of honeybee colonies in this country is on the increase. Beekeepers have taken healthy hives, split them, and brought in healthy queens from professional breeders and without a multimillion dollar stimulus from Congress. I’m still worried about the white nose fungus that has been attacking our North American bats, though.

Don’t have anything really positive to tell you about the 2016 presidential campaign, except that if laughter is the best medicine, we should all be having a healthier summer than we expected. On to the first debates!

Barbara Anderson of Marblehead is president of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a Salem News columnist.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

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