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A lesson in local governance on Independence Day

Although the Declaration of Independence depicted him as a despot, the real conflict between England and her American colonies was not between King George III and Democracy but between the rights of the British people represented as they were by their own Parliament, and the rights of the American colonists represented as they were by their own colonial assemblies. In this conflict no one was a greater supporter of the rights and authority of the British Parliament than the King.

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Despite the deaths, the U.S. healthcare system is doing a good job

If writers like David Holahan want to blame President Donald Trump for the coronavirus death toll, it would only be fair to blame other politicians like Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, and Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut as well. The death toll per capita in both these states is well above the national average. Rather than placing blame on politicians, it would be much more productive to look at the facts that show that the U.S. health care system has done a very good job.

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Impeachable offenses

The impeachment trial of President Trump seems to be coming to an end. The House impeachment charges did not include treason or bribery and no “high crimes and misdemeanors” were alleged. The President has merely been accused of misuse of power, and obstruction of the efforts of the House of Representatives to impeach him.
But it appears as if the Democrats have really lowered the bar for what constitutes offenses worthy of impeachment. Using their new standards, a number of actions of President Obama and his administrators were far more serious and worthy of prosecution.  

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Marijuana — maybe legal, but not that glamorous

The widespread use of marijuana and its growing social acceptability has now led to a political movement to legalize its use all over the country. Recently neighboring Massachusetts has legalized the sale and use of recreational cannabis. Politicians have been quick to see the possibilities of tax revenues from legalized pot sales, and neighboring states like New York and Connecticut are thinking of getting in the game.

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On Newtown, gun laws, violent video games and censorship

The recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton have once again led to the same kind of debate that followed the terrible massacre of 20 children and six teachers in a kindergarten classroom in Newtown seven years ago. At that time, the governor of Connecticut led the charge for stricter gun control laws but others argued that the focus should be on the mentally ill young killer who wielded the weapons. At the time, I wondered why people on both sides of the issue preferred to “demonize” each other instead of working together. I still feel the same way seven years later.

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Warnings of income inequality are nothing new

Income inequality is going to be one of the top issues in the 2020 Presidential campaign. For many, income inequality is a new issue that has taken root because of the seemingly increasing gap between the rich and poor in the past few years. However, the issue goes back in time to an earlier period in American history. The origins of the issue have more to do with ideology than with any current economic statistics.

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Equal Pay Day next year should be April 1

Equal Pay Day arrived for women on April 2 this year. According to gender rights advocates, the average woman must add to her 2018 income three months of work in 2018 to make as much as the average white man made in 2018. In other words, a woman in Connecticut only makes 83 percent of what a man makes in income. Black and Latina women are even more disadvantaged compared to white men. Oddly, the wages of black and Hispanic men seem to be excluded from the calculations for black and Hispanic women.

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Life expectancy: Hope and despair

Recently the Wall Street Journal headlined a report from  the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that claimed a slight decline in life expectancy in the USA in 2017 from the previous year. On average someone like my first great-grandchild, who was born about two months ago, can expect to live for 78 years and six months, a loss of about a month from the previous year.

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Reform for Connecticut’s pension system

Recently I wrote about the difficulty, even impossibility, of funding Connecticut’s ever-growing pension liability. The article elicited a number of comments, and all agreed that something must be done. Here are my own recommendations for reform. First, a relatively small but significant first step in reforming the system would be to freeze pension benefits for all existing state employees not covered by union contractual obligations. These employees would include non-union members and employees of the state’s executive, legislative, and judicial branches. It would also include all administrators in the University of Connecticut system.

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The state’s pension plans as configured are doomed to fail

States all over the country are grappling with ever-increasing unfunded pension liabilities. My home state of Connecticut trails such pension liability behemoths like Illinois and New Jersey, but still ranks high on the danger list. In June 2010 the Connecticut public pension fund had $9.3 billion in assets but its actuaries calculated that the state still needed an additional $21.1 billion to meet all its pension obligations. It was only 44 percent funded.

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Trump is changing foreign policy toward Saudi Arabia

President Trump has begun the slow process of changing the course of American foreign policy. Interestingly, in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, John Bolton, a foreign affairs guru, argued that so far Trump has followed the same basic course as his two predecessors, Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
However, the recently concluded visit to Saudi Arabia marked a real turning point. It is obvious that the visit had been well planned. No one makes a $100 billion-plus arms deal on the spur of the moment. But there was more to the visit than a deal that might bring jobs to Connecticut companies like Sikorsky.