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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Coming down to the wire!

What's it like toward the end of campaign?   Busy, fun, windy!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

They want you to stay home on Nov. 2nd!

If you haven’t just turned off the TV and radio by now, you will have heard and seen a lot of very negative political ads this year.   While you may not believe the distortions and lies (yup, lies) that these ads are touting, while you may not notice that you have no idea who is paying for them (and if you tried you probably couldn’t find out), they have another, more insidious and dangerous effect.  You may be thinking, “This is so awful, I don’t even want to vote!”
BINGO!  The ads are working.  The cynical pundits who write op eds in the newspapers, the chattering talking heads on TV, they are celebrating.  They don’t want YOU in the political process, you, who is hanging on to middle-class status with your fingernails, you who really would like a break from the destruction and the obstruction that has left you wondering what your future and the future of your family could possibly be, they want you to stay home on Nov. 2nd.
They want you to stay home, because if you find out on Nov. 3rd that we are going back to the policies that created the mess we are in, in the first place, it will be too late for you to say, “Oh, wait, no, that’s not what I voted for.”  You didn’t vote.  The big money that paid for those ads did.  You lose.  You no longer have representatives that work for you, you have representatives who work for someone in another state, or maybe even another country, who paid big bucks to discourage you from exercising the ultimate right of an American citizen, the right to vote.
It’s your choice.  It’s always your choice.  See you Nov. 2. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Absentee ballots

Here's how to find an absentee ballot application.  You can mail, fax or drop off at your town clerk's office.

What I learned at a house party

What a really interesting group of people I met at the house party at Rebecca Hutchinson’s Sunday afternoon!  We talked about a wide range of topics, and I was left with the sense that if there are many more people with such a grasp of the real issues and commitment to their communities in our area, we are going to be moving forward toward a better future.

One was a gentleman who helped build some of the original passive solar houses in NH.  He told me that when they assess homes built with thick, super-insulated walls, they count the outside measurements and figure the inside dimensions, that is floor space, as if the building had regular walls.  This adds enough to the assessment that property taxes can eat up the efficiency savings the houses provide in terms of heating and cooling.  Maybe the legislature could look at that issue, since we should be building efficient, green buildings as part of our energy future, and that should be rewarded, not penalized.

We talked about expanding gambling as a revenue source, the pros and cons.  We didn’t really come to a conclusion on that one, which tells me that in this small group, there are still a lot of questions out there.  As far as other revenue sources, one idea that surfaced was an income tax solely dedicated to reducing property taxes on primary residences by a percentage, such as half.

The discussion of education really made me think again about exactly what we are doing and why.  Our public education system has a legacy of many different objectives, basic literacy, preparing the work force, keeping teens out of the job market, getting kids ready for higher education, making it possible for both parents to work, encouraging good citizenship, etc.  It’s an enormous system, with a lot of inertia, and my fear is that that inertia makes it slow to react to changing needs.  So how do we transition from a time when there were just some things that people really needed to learn, and the future, which I see as a time when critical thinking skills, the ability to know when one is being fed a line, ability to quickly change course and find new information when it is needed will be essential?  How do we build a flexible, efficient, timely educational system?

And I received an excellent analysis of where exactly the national debt comes from, with interest on the debt allocated properly to the party that ran up the debt on which it is being paid.  It’s a remarkable piece of work, and unfortunately for those who insist Obama is to blame, it shows that since the presidency of Gerald Ford, when the national debt left over from WWII mostly was $6.35 trillion dollars, Republican presidencies have added $6.75 trillion to the debt, and Democratic presidencies have added $0.1 trillion.

Here’s the breakdown:


The total US debt owed as of 6/30/10 was $13.2 Trillion.  Since Ford left office the total interest payments on the debt have amounted to $8.9 Trillion.  This shows how the debt has gone up or down with the yearly interest allocated to the Ford balance and to the deficit spending during each subsequent presidential administration.  

Debt Increase Without Interest
Interest Allocation 
Total Debt
Ford Balance
G H Bush
G W Bush


Ford Balance
Last three Dems
Last three Reps
Total Recap
Computations and analysis courtesy of a resident of Deerfield.  

Monday, October 11, 2010

Campaign money

One of the many things I have to do as a candidate for state representative is to file disclosure forms with the state about who is donating to my campaign and what I am spending the money on.  So I was very surprised when the US Supreme Court decided early this year that unlimited sums of money could be donated anonymously to groups who would use it to support or oppose candidates for office.

It seems odd that some unknown corporation or individual far away from NH, maybe even overseas, can give enormous sums of money to a group with a nice name and that group can buy ads in NH that don’t even have to have any connection with the facts about a candidate’s positions or character.  Meanwhile I have to list every person who gives me more than $25!  And may I say I am very grateful to those who have supported my campaign.

We are all going to see a lot of TV ads in the next few weeks.  We all know the candidates have to approve their ads, but we don’t know much about who approves these attack ads.  Some of the campaigns have estimated that up to $10,000,000 will be spent in NH this fall!  That’s a lot of money for a small state.  I really would love to know where that money comes from.

We’ve all heard about “buying votes.”  This takes it to a whole new level.  Is your vote for sale?  Do you know who you are selling it to?  What do you think you will get in return?  Will you be represented by the candidate you support, or will the deep-pocketed donors in another state get the ear of your Congressperson, Senator or Governor?

Monday, September 27, 2010


Thoughts on DIRT, THE MOVIE

Our planet has a skin, and just like our skin it is necessary for the proper functioning of the organism as a whole.  We can look at the living world and understand it as a complex organism, much more complicated than a human being.  To predict the future of our tenure here, this idea works much better than simply seeing the planet as a lump of inanimate matter for us to use and misuse. Since all life on earth depends on the ability of plants to use sunlight, water, carbon dioxide and minerals to make the food the whole chain of life depends on, we would do well to make sure we keep the dirt plants grow in available and healthy.

Recently I attended a showing of “DIRT, THE MOVIE,” presented by the Northwood Area Land Management Collaborative (NALMC) and the Deerfield Conservation Commission at Camp Yavneh in Northwood.  It’s a fascinating and emotionally draining movie, uplifting, scary, painful, hopeful.  KInd of a metaphor for our times.

It is easy to forget when we shop in a modern supermarket that ALL that food is dependent for its production on that layer of dirt that covers much of the land masses of the planet.  Nor do we usually consider that the quality of nutrition we get from our food is dependent on the health of the soil in which it grows.  To make sure we can continue to feed ourselves, we need to make some changes in how we treat “dirt.”

To illustrate how we can make changes, I am going to look at a local phenomenon that appeared in the last couple of years in our area, the explosive growth in the number of farmers markets. Those of us who take time out of our already busy lives to get farmers markets started, who support local agriculture and local small-scale food processors, are looking for several advantages to eating and shopping “local.”  One thing is quality, knowing the person who grew or made the product, and often being able to visit the places where the food is grown or the kitchen where the bread is baked.  Another is sustaining the environment that supports us.  A third is to provide local jobs, to promote economic development on a scale that suits smaller rural towns.

Perhaps, most of all for me, local food provides some security. I am more comfortable if I know I don’t have to depend on almost all my food coming from far away, subject to sudden rises in transportation costs or interruptions in supply from natural disasters.  While I don’t expect we will produce all the food we need here in New England, we could produce a lot more than we do.  John Carroll at UNH says, in his book Pastures of Plenty, that we have some wonderful grazing land in New England, and we could branch out from dairy farming to grass-fed beef, sheep, pigs, and other livestock, with breeds which do well in our climate.  We can grow many things in greenhouses and other protected growing areas, as well as in open fields.

Small scale agriculture preserves the soil.  The demand for organic food, or even food that isn’t grown with a lot of chemicals, increases every year.  A farmer learns quickly that having healthy dirt makes much less work, and is less expensive than trying to fix it once it is leached of its nutrients and filled with toxins.  There is more to food than volume and cheapness.  Better to eat less and eat better.

There are many, many more issues concerning dirt, from mountain-top removal and associated poisoning of water supplies, to deforestation, from drought associated with climate change to erosion that carries the soil away into the oceans and resource wars as people migrate to escape starvation.  It all seems overwhelming, but the movie ends with the reminder that if each of us does a small part, we can accomplish things that seem impossible at first.  However, this does require some changes in attitude, the ability to see that no particular way of doing things needs to be the end all and be all forever, a willingness to work together, rather than each of us grasping for our own at the expense of others, and leadership in our communities.

I singled out the local agriculture movement as an example of working in a small way to solve a big problem because we are all familiar with it in NH now.  It is part of a response to a major issue that will take many different approaches to solve.  There are no magic bullets for the big problems we face, we need to be creative, and find things to do that, added together, make the difference.  This is actually a good thing, because it gives us all a part to play, and getting involved in the community is a lot of fun.  You meet the best people if you will give it a try.