There can be no Social Justice Without Jobs and a Healthy Economy.

Republican state legislatures are adopting resolutions banning the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in public schools. The bans are a reaction to Democrats mandating CRT in public education and in other dimensions of public policy. Bans and mandates are two sides of the same coin. CRT is a bad penny, first because any version of history and sociology so controversial should not be taught in public schools. Let university intelligentsia debate such ideas until a consensus interpretation develops that is appropriate for young minds in elementary, middle and high school. Furthermore, the central precepts of CRT and its highly

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21st Century Economies are Hamstrung by 20th Century Infrastructures

In eight years, this is probably my fourth column focused on America’s deteriorating infrastructure with little done nationally or statewide to address the ever-growing problem. Unsafe, outmoded electrical grids, dams, tunnels, bridges and highways need immediate attention. Congested airports, seaports, truncated internet and railway lines demand sweeping plans for modernization, expansion and hardenings against cyber-attacks. Leaking and overwhelmed sewer lines and drinking water mains poison our cities with lead and other contaminants. Still, denial and hyper-partisan deadlocks between major parties kick the infrastructure can down the road. In 2016, Donald Trump pledged a $1 trillion national infrastructure program, delivering nothing.

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‘Rats’ Ride the ‘Implementer’; and Presto-Change-O: Equity!

What a mockery of democracy has been made by the Democratic majority in the General Assembly with its legislation “implementing” the new state budget. While the budget itself turned out to be bipartisan, drawing many votes from the Republican minority because it threw lots of federal emergency money around without raising taxes, the “implementer” is a partisan ram job. Worse than its partisanship, the “implementer” is practically a second legislative session stuffed into a single bill, going far beyond the technical language needed to put the budget into effect. The “implementer” incorporates legislative proposals that never got public hearings and

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Summer Road Trips

The summer travel season is starting with a vengeance.  After a year of quarantining, we’re all anxious to get back on the road again.  But where to go?  And what can you expect when you get there?  A recent mid-week mini-vacation to the Berkshires taught our family some important lessons. WHERE TO GO?    Like many vacationers we opted for a road trip instead of flying.  There are great destinations within two or three-hours drive.  But in deciding where to go, remember you’re not just going to see the sights or visit friends.  You’re relying on local services and the folks

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Two Hundred Years Ago, Deposed Autocrats Were Banished…

Two hundred years ago, deposed autocrats were banished to prevent their causing harm.Forced to abdicate his throne April 11, 1814 by the Treaty of Fontainebleau, NapoleonBonaparte was taken from Paris to Elba, largest spit of land in the Tuscan Archipelago.Allowed to retain his emperor’s title, Napoleon’s letters, published in 1954, revealed hiscolossal conceit, referring to handfuls of marines as his “Guard” and a few small boatshis “navy.” Months later, onboard Inconstant, he was ferried back to the mainland, wherehe gathered supporters for another European conquest. Elba wasn’t isolated enough tomake his earlier exile stick. Declared outlaw by the Congress of

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That ‘Transformational’ Budget Really Won’t Change Much at All

Some small good things were done by the session of the General Assembly just concluded, but the best things about the session may have been what it didn’t do. That is, it did not raise taxes much — mainly on heavy trucks — and thus did not disadvantage Connecticut more relative to other states and did not give the state’s taxpaying residents more reason to consider leaving for less expensive jurisdictions. The large far-left faction of the Democratic legislative caucuses wanted to raise taxes sharply on the rich, but with the state rolling in emergency money from the federal government,

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Connecticut Employment Has Plummeted… Will It Recover?

The pandemic is largely over. Now, the challenge is to revive the economy. In practical terms, that means transitioning from policies supporting people who are out of work to policies encouraging people to get back to work. There is a fierce national debate about how fast to transition. Connecticut is on the wrong side of the debate – and cannot afford to be. The number of workers in the state’s workforce has plummeted during the pandemic by 188,000 since February 2020, according to federal statistics. This is a drastic 9.7 percent decline, by far the biggest drop in the nation. 

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On Wuhan and COVID-19

Because Donald Trump repeatedly used China to deflect criticisms of his own pandemic errors, conspiracy theorists abound. To them, a biosecurity-level 4 facility in Wuhan, where COVID first emerged, is too coincidental, even though the mission of the laboratory is to prevent zoonotic transmissions of potentially deadly diseases from other animals to us. As a bsl-4 lab, Wuhan’s Institute of Virology has high security clearance to genetically map and identify airborne pathogens for which vaccines have yet to be developed. If only to exorcize political demons here and abroad, Wuhan and the WIV should be epicenters of investigations into the

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A linear, Disposable Economy Designed to Generate Waste

The fundamental equation in thermodynamics for predicting spontaneous reactions and equilibrium in biological and chemical processes is G = H – TS. That is, energy available to do work or “Gibbs free energy” (G) equals “enthalpy” or the heat of the reaction (H) minus temperature (T) times (S) the degree of systemic disorder or “entropy.” The relationship of Gibbs free energy to enthalpy, entropy and temperature measures the inefficiency of energy transfers and transformations in the universe. When energy changes from one form to another, entropy (i.e. disorder or chaos) inevitably increases in closed systems. Energy lost by natural systems

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Can UConn Really Economize? And Social Promotion Wins

Congratulations may be in order for the University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees for discovering, upon the abrupt resignation of Thomas C. Katsouleas after less than two years on the job, that the university doesn’t really need its own president. For last week the board announced that Andrew Agwunobi, chief executive of the UConn Health Center in Farmington, will serve simultaneously as president of the whole university for the time being, continuing to receive his $709,000 annual salary at the health center while the board negotiates his pay for doing both jobs. Agwunobi’s appointment suggests two things. First, that Agwunobi

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CTDOT Fare Hearings

Our state government certainly moves in mysterious ways. The Connecticut legislature seems unable to even discuss the crucial replenishing of the Special Transportation Fund to keep mass transit rolling… but they found hours to debate the merits of declaring pizza the “official state food”.  Really? Kudos to the nine lawmakers who voted “no”, not because they don’t like pizza but because they saw this issue as a waste of time. Also in the “waste of time” category were the recent series of virtual public hearings (May 18, 19, 20 & 25) by the Connecticut Department of Transportation.  The topic… service

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The Triad of Radical Ideas Behind the Anti-Racism Crusade

Reverend Steven R. Jungkeit, a white minister in the small all-White (99.8% non-Black) Connecticut town of Lyme-Old Lyme (pop 10,000) claims to be collaborating with the local school system “to teach the history of racism and enslavement in the area” as one part of a social justice project launched by his church last summer. Another part involves police accountability. Surely the nation has been seized with the issues of racism, social justice and policing, if such a project has been launched in this unlikeliest of places, one with a population of only about 25 Black people.  Ian Neviaser, the school

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Military Spending Goes Unchallenged, as Fiscal Conservatives Grouse About Lesser Costs

Values and prevailing attitudes of America’s big three service branches are reflected in their military academies’ chapels. West Point’s grey stone gothic exudes permanence, immovably connected to the land, anchored atop the same basalt bluffs forming nearby Hudson River Palisades. The Navy’s chapel in Annapolis is much more ornate, its dome inspired by Beaux-Arts architecture with lots of interior marble and brass. The Air Force Academy’s cadet chapel, tellingly, is intimidating. Seventeen leak-prone spires of shiny aluminum, glass and steel project skyward. Their jagged rows resemble Nike-Hercules and Ajax missiles emergent from silos ready to launch, a high-tech, razor-sharp shredding

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UConn Prez’s Resignation is a Spectacular Embarrassment

Long having been shameless because the governor and General Assembly never call it to account, the University of Connecticut probably won’t show any embarrassment over last week’s abrupt resignation of its president, Thomas C. Katsouleas, who was not even two years into the job. But Connecticut might be mortified. Of course no official explanation has been given, but news reports say Katsouleas quickly alienated the university’s Board of Trustees by announcing major initiatives without the board’s approval. Having eagerly danced to every politically correct tune that was played for him on campus, Katsouleas shouldn’t be missed — and indeed as

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Progressive Taxation Can Help, but Taxing Wealth is the Ultimate Solution

Needs for infrastructure modernization and hardenings against “ransomware” are stark. Last week’s cyber attack by Russian gang DarkSide shut down Colonial Pipeline’s conduits from Texas to New Jersey, interrupting 2.5 million barrels daily flow of gasoline and other fuels. That’s 45 percent of East Coast supplies, more an annoyance than an obstacle but for predictable panic buying. Instigated by social media disinformation, people waited in gas lines to fill guzzler SUVs and pickups the way they hoarded toilet paper last year. DarkSide’s stated purpose is capitalistic, not ideological, interested only in extorting money, not “creating unrest.” Evidence Putin or other

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Do You Feel Safe Riding Metro-North?

Is it safe to get back on the train to New York?  Casey (not her real name) thought so when, a couple of weekends back, she wanted to see some millennial friends in Manhattan for brunch.  But boarding the Saturday morning train she immediately started to worry and texted me. The train was jammed, she said.  Very few empty seats.  No way to “socially distance” and many people were not wearing face masks. Looking around, she saw large groups of NY Yankees and NY Rangers fans.  Sure enough, both teams had home games that afternoon. The fans were tailgating their

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Should Government Take Over the Nursing Home Business?

Nursing home workers in Connecticut long have been essentially state government employees because most patients are technically indigent and their care is financed by state government’s Medicaid program — for nearly $1.2 billion per year, half reimbursed by the federal government. The euphemism for this is “estate planning.” When people who have assets reach a certain age they are advised to squirrel their assets away where government can’t get at them — reliable family members, trusts, and such — so if someone needs round-the-clock care, he can go on welfare. It’s a demeaning system and no longer saves much money

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After Pandemic, More Homeschooling?

A year ago when the reopening of schools for the 2020-2021 school year was in doubt, I realized that I had to step into the breach. So did many parents. I started my own version of homeschooling for my soon-to-be-kindergartner. We did “numbers” over breakfast, “letters” before dinner, and I read to him at bedtime. It was nothing sophisticated; it took only about an hour in total, before and after my workday; but it worked.  By summer’s end, my youngster was already proficient in numbers beyond the level expected at the end of kindergarten, and he knew the alphabet, more

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A Permanently Altered Society

Without question climate change and the pandemic have permanently altered society. At some point, if we approach 85 to 90 percent herd immunity (an unlikely scenario in the U.S. given its intellectual and vaccine resistant laxities) mask-wearing might become an elective again, even in crowded venues. As COVID cases decline, however, were wisdom and ethics heritable memes in our culture, we’d still be donning masks in highly infectious settings, such as theaters and bars, sports arenas, public transit, grocery and department stores, hospitals and nursing homes. It’s been a hard lesson to learn, but Americans should by now be attuned

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Big Dreams Distract Dems; And All Could Be ‘Doctors’

Democrats in the General Assembly are busy with big plans for transforming Connecticut. Though state government is rolling in federal cash, the Democrats want to tax business and the wealthy a lot more. They want to overthrow suburban zoning. They want state government to start selling medical insurance to small businesses. They would legalize and commercialize marijuana and erase thousands of criminal records. They seek a vast expansion of state-sanctioned gambling. But that’s all in the future. What Democratic legislators don’t want to do is take responsibility for running Connecticut in the present. Instead once again the Democratic legislators want

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Righteous Stupidity is now more Harmful than Wickedness

Luckily, in the 1950s, fostering knowledge was a promotional hook luring parents into stores. Drugstores sold Classics Illustrated and, around 1959, grocers began selling weekly/bi-weekly installments of reference books for students. Among them were Golden Book’s Encyclopedia, its subsequent Home and High School Encyclopedia and an Encyclopedia of Natural Science. To say they were transformative is understatement. My parents shopped at the participating First National Store, and each week I couldn’t wait to pick the latest Golden Book out of its bag. The introductory volume, covering “aardvark to army,” sold for 49 cents. I was age seven. As I turned

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Invest in Rail Freight

How would you like a plan to remove thousands of trucks from Connecticut highways, clean up the air and create new jobs? Who wouldn’t?  It’s a win-win-win plan that you’d expect Governor Lamont to embrace, especially in this time of TCI (the Transportation Climate Initiative). The solution?  Invest in our state’s freight railroads. Yes, there are still freight trains in Connecticut, just not very many. But there could be more. In its earlier days as a profitable, private railroad the New Haven ran hundreds of freight trains each day.  But today the railroad is too crowded with (relatively faster) passenger

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Connecticut Progressives Should Jump Off the Biden Bandwagon

The Biden administration is on a massive spending spree. Connecticut progressives want to follow suit. Last week, Biden released a “trial balloon” proposing how to pay for his spree. Unsurprisingly, the idea is massive tax increases for corporations and upper income individuals, including a near doubling of the top capital gains tax rate from 23.8% to 43.8%. Connecticut’s progressives have proposed more than a billion dollars of new spending, primarily on vague social justice goals (“building wealth in underserved communities” and “reducing income inequality”), all to be funded by new taxes imposed exclusively upon upper income taxpayers, including a capital

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Considering the Supreme Court

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) usually argued for lengths of elected service determined by the people. If constituents wanted to re-elect the same “public servant” time and time again, and he (or she) received enough ballots, Franklin didn’t object, even if tenures of presidents were long. When it came to appointing judges, however, Franklin adamantly argued for a Scottish-style legal system where lawyers, not holders of high office, designated judges. James Wilson (1742-1798), who signed both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution before becoming a Supreme Court Justice himself, strongly disagreed. Wilson favored court appointments by authorized individuals, feeling collectives of peers

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Biden’s Infrastructure Plan

Hurrah!  It’s finally “infrastructure week” in Washington.  In his first 100 days as President, Joe Biden has delivered a plan that his predecessor just kept teasing us with for four years:  a complete rehabilitation and expansion of the nation’s infrastructure. Of course, Biden’s “American Jobs Act” goes way beyond just rebuilding roads, bridges and rails.  It also covers our water supply, electrical grid, internet, sea and airports, our housing stock and our very jobs. It’s too much and way too expensive ($2+ trillion) for conservatives but hardly enough for progressives.  That sounds great to me. With plenty for everyone to

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Our Duty is to Recognize Gaps Between the Idealized and Reality…and to Close Them

It should not have taken AAPI rallies, spa shootings in Georgia, and sidewalk beatings of elderly Chinese to draw our attention to new and savage synergies of resentment and violence against Asian Americans. Coactive xenophobic elements were everywhere. For over a year, people of Asian descent and Pacific Islanders endured pandemic scapegoating and slander, suffering nearly 4,000 reported hate crimes nationwide. Most undoubtedly were instigated by Trump calling SARS-CoV-2 “the Chinese virus,” emboldened racists reiterating his “kung flu” slur, and continua of flagrant name calling and condescension online. When asked about motives for the March 16th murders in Atlanta, local

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Eventually We’ll All be Paying and Young Car Thieves Laugh

Nearly everyone except government employees has suffered financial losses during the virus epidemic, and since those losses were caused more by government’s closure of much of the economy than by the epidemic itself, everyone wants reimbursement from the government. There’s some justice in this, especially in the requests from businesses in Connecticut for state government to use its federal epidemic relief money to cover the $700 million the state borrowed from the federal government to pay the huge and unexpected unemployment benefits claimed during the epidemic. Otherwise unemployment insurance taxes on businesses may have to be increased for years, weakening

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A Threat By Any Name is the Same

Upon his inauguration, President Biden issued a flurry of executive orders related to climate change, including one designating climate change a national security threat, one rejoining the Paris Accord, another halting the Keystone XL pipeline and yet another freezing petroleum leases and permits on federal land for 60 days. The primary security threat by this new climate-change name looks the same as the leading national security threat in traditional terms: China. The totalitarian Communist dictatorship is responsible for 30% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the EDGAR database. China’s emissions are not only the world’s most, but they

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Lamont Probably Won’t Mind Denunciation as a Moderate

Many liberal Democratic officials around the country and especially in the Northeast, including Governor Lamont, are looking hypocritical for urging President Biden to help repeal the federal government’s limit on the deductibility of state and local taxes — the “SALT” tax deduction cap. Liberal Democrats usually advocate more progressive taxation — that is, higher tax rates on higher incomes — and progressive taxation is exactly what the cap on SALT deductions is. It limits to $10,000 the deduction taken by federal income taxpayers for the state and local taxes they pay. Anyone who pays more than $10,000 altogether in state income and municipal property taxes is probably doing well financially. Liberal and conservative tax analysts agree

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It’s About Time CEOs Assumed Such Progressive Mantles as Upholding Voters’ Rights

A spate of voting restrictions, disproportionately and negatively impacting people of color, has reemerged in the South. In Florida, Republicans are plotting to constrict mail-in voting, even eliminating drop boxes, proven helpful and secure in 2020. In Arizona and Texas, Republicans hope to narrow ballot submission times, dropping names from early-voting lists if a citizen votes less often. The first salvo, however, of what President Biden calls “21st century Jim Crow” was recently fired in Georgia. Advocates call their new law, which suspiciously looks like voter suppression, a necessary prevention of fraud. Maybe Georgia’s intentions are good, but one has

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