Social Work Caucus Denies Failures of Juvenile Justice

Legislators belonging to what might be called the General Assembly’s social work caucus gathered at the state Capitol the other day to insist that there really isn’t much wrong with juvenile justice in Connecticut but that, of course, it always could use more social workers and “programs” to help keep young people out of trouble. The social work caucus members insisted that while some car thefts and other crimes lately committed by juveniles have been brazen and atrocious, the recent increase in car thefts is a national phenomenon and over the long term car thefts have actually declined. But the

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Transportation Scofflaws

What do Metro-North and the Merritt Parkway have in common, I mean, aside from often crawling at a snail’s pace?  Well, both seem to be hotbeds of unenforced safety rules. Anybody who has driven the Parkway knows that its 1930’s design cannot accommodate trucks, but they are there all the time.  Tom Lombardo, a fellow Board member on the Merritt Parkway Conservancy, recently conducted an unscientific survey to quantify the problem. In a single hour one weekday morning he logged 212 trucks, buses and commercial vehicles traveling in both directions on the highway. That’s more than three per minute.  Now compare

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The Charmed Life of Connecticut State Employees… Amid Devastation
in the Private Sector

Connecticut’s privileged state employees and its downtrodden private sector workers might as well occupy different planets. Hundreds of thousands private sector workers lost their jobs during the pandemic. State workers have enjoyed a decade-long no-layoff guarantee, so not one was thrown out of work. While private sector workers struggled to get by during the pandemic, state workers got two 5.5% pay raises, one eight months before and the second four months into the pandemic. Local police and firefighters and predominantly private sector health care workers manned the frontline jobs during the pandemic, as did essential retail workers – in grocery

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State Police Integrity Fails; And State Ignores Voter Fraud

Accountability and integrity are slipping badly with the Connecticut state police. The agency has failed to complete an investigation of trooper misconduct arising from a retirement party at a brewery in Oxford 22 months ago. Security video reported last week by the Hearst Connecticut newspapers shows that state police Sgt. John McDonald drank heavily for five hours at the party. Leaving in a state police car, McDonald drove about three-quarters a mile before smashing into a car carrying a woman and her daughter, pushing them off the road and seriously injuring them. McDonald was charged with driving while intoxicated, reckless

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Avarice, not Pride, Precedes the Fall.

With inflation uncomfortably high, climate change causing Northern Hemisphere disasters and the Delta variant undermining economies here and abroad, an indecisive Federal Reserve Board scheduled meetings this week to rethink its ultra-low interest rates. Policymakers considered putting the brakes on a $120 billion-a-month bond-buying spree designed to keep long-term lending rates miniscule. As usual, the Fed’s intention was to incentivize borrowing, spending and debt-accumulation during the COVID crisis. This comes at a time experts insist the U.S. economy is gradually recovering from post-pandemic recession and jobs, ostensibly, are on the upswing. But a bold new era has dawned in America’s

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Juvenile Crime Forum Avoids Relevance and Accountability

Last week’s well-attended forum on juvenile crime and justice, called by Glastonbury’s Town Council, was illuminating, just not so much about juvenile crime and justice. Dozens of people expressed their anger about the inability of state and municipal government to curtail the explosion of car thefts, burglaries, and other misconduct by young people who have realized that there will never be any punishment for them, just therapy, now that political correctness controls juvenile justice. Mostly the forum illuminated Connecticut’s social contract, whereby the Democratic Party is permitted to operate the cities as poverty and patronage factories, with their daily murders

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Science, Above All, Should be the Guiding Principle in which we Unify and Trust

Science has unparalleled potency validating facts and deriving truths because its well-defined methods makes reality tangible. Where philosophy relies solely on logic, reason and thought experiments, science primarily collects data through empiricism ─ testing, measuring and compiling evidence obtained from direct observation. Science is thusly independent of belief.  It assumes hypotheses under investigation are false until rigorously proven. And standards for rejecting “null hypotheses” are high; only 95-99 percent statistical confidence bounds give assurances correlations aren’t chance. Non-reproducible single occurrences are valueless to scientists. Stray contradictory claims, oft-repeated conspiracy theories, and targeted disinformation won’t induce rejections of theories or hypotheses

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Amazon

These days “Getting There” doesn’t just mean moving yourself from point A to B, but the logistics of moving stuff from dozens of locations to your doorstep.  And nobody does that better than Amazon. Want a new pair of jeans? Click once and they’re delivered the next day.  Need a new printer?  Maybe a couple of days because they’re still scarce, thanks to the home-office explosion.  Your favorite ointment out of stock at CVS?  Save yourself a trip, click here and apply twice daily. In his 2013 book “The Everything Store” (yes, available on Amazon), business writer Brad Stone chronicle

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State Employee Unions Help Lamont as They Criticize Him

Connecticut’s state employee unions may be rendering great service to Governor Lamont’s probable campaign for re-election by complaining about him. This service may be greater than their usual provision of manpower to Democratic campaigns. For their complaining suggests that the governor isn’t their tool as most Democrats are. Last week the unions protested the governor’s recalling their members back to work at state government offices. Among other things the unions argued that by working from home they are reducing carbon emissions. Yes, the unions are always looking out for the planet first, not themselves. Then the unions held a rally

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‘Disaster Capitalism’ is as Old as Capitalism Itself

The idea crises can be used to disorient, manipulate history, and cultivate societal change is nothing new. “Disaster capitalism” is as old as capitalism itself. Baron Rothschild, 18th century British nobleman whose banking family loaned money (at huge interest) to warring factions, including Lincoln’s Federals and Davis’ Confederacy, put it bluntly. “The time to buy,” he said. “Is when there’s blood in the streets.” Taking the same robber baron approach, Wall Street, U.S. CEOs and industrialists routinely hedge bets by investing in crises and exploiting despair. In his last presidential address, Dwight Eisenhower warned against the military-industrial-political complex and risks

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Right to Read or a Better Way?

The “Right to Read” bill — HB 6620 section 1 — passed this session, represents a failure to think outside of the box in response to the literacy crisis in Connecticut. “As measured before the pandemic in the statewide assessment of English Language Arts, nearly half of Connecticut’s public school students fell short of grade-level reading expectations, and outcomes were significantly lower for students of color,” according to State Senator Patricia Billie Miller. Connecticut is not alone in its literacy crisis. On June 11, 2021, the Economist reported that “Less than half (48%) of all American adults were proficient readers

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Jahncke: Connecticut is in a Full-blown Jobs Crisis.

The state workforce has shrunk by about 160,000, or 8.2%, from its pre-pandemic level of 1.93 million in February 2020, the worst decline in the nation. Only three other states have experienced drops of more than 5%. Of Connecticut’s remaining workforce, about 140,000, or 7.9%, are unemployed – the highest unemployment rate of the 50 states. Combined, 300,000 people, or 15.5% of the pre-pandemic workforce, have dropped out or are currently unemployed. The next worst level is 10.9% in Hawaii. Being last is one thing that Connecticut is accustomed to, but to trail 49th place by a huge 4.6% margin

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Colleges Serve Themselves; and Expose Juvenile Courts

Enrollment at Connecticut’s community colleges has been collapsing, probably because the state’s economy is weak and most students being admitted are unprepared for higher education, having never mastered high school work but having been promoted anyway. So what are the colleges doing? The Connecticut Examiner says that instead of cutting staff, the colleges are hiring 174 advisers to help boost enrollment and student performance. This isn’t to benefit students as much as the colleges themselves — to preserve their jobs when the billions of dollars in emergency money from the federal government runs out and state government has more incentive

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Insect Populations in Decline are Yet Another Invitation to Disaster

In the early 20th century, when asked if anything about “God” could be concluded from studying natural history, scientific polymath J.B.S. Haldane famously responded “he has an inordinate fondness for beetles.” Currently, more than 380,000 catalogued species of beetles in order Coleoptera make it the largest subset of the most species-rich and successful class of animals on Earth ─ insects. This may be the Anthropocene epoch because of our negative impacts on the planet, but an estimated 10 quintillion insects may inhabit the biosphere at any given time. In fact, however much it affronts our human arrogance, causing us to

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Is It Finally ‘Time For CT’?

In 1955 a New Haven Railroad commuter train could run non-stop for the 36-mile distance from Stamford to Grand Central in 48 minutes.  Today that Stamford to NYC run takes 59 minutes at best, despite Governor Lamont’s long-promised dream of a 30 minute trip time.   But now there’s a new effort to speed up the New Haven line: CDOT’s ambitious “Time for CT” $8-10 billion plan.   It promises 10-minute faster running times from New Haven to NY by next year and a 25-minute quicker run by 2035. While some dream of a new high speed rail system running from

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With Taxes in Connecticut, ‘Fair’ Always Means ‘More’

So much in government in Connecticut is euphemism. Political patronage is called “equity” and “social justice.” Increasing the compensation of teachers is “aid to education.” Raising gasoline taxes is a “climate initiative.” And now the new state budget, at the instigation of the House chairman of the General Assembly’s finance committee, Rep. Sean Scanlon, D-Guilford, is directing the Lamont administration to undertake another study of how “fair” Connecticut’s tax system is. “Fair” is almost sure to be defined again as something that raises more money for state government. That is the only possible purpose for such a study, since the

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Pandemic Issues Created Fertile Ground for Surge in Gun Violence

Crime is the term we humans use to describe unfair competition, deception, theft or threats of violence to deprive someone of something to which they’re entitled. Other animals steal, philander, commit acts of aggression and hoodwink one another as humans do. Phototropism enables hardy plants to flourish while others, beneath their canopy, starve for sunlight. Vast adaptive repertoires for concealment, enticement and mimicry fill ethological textbooks, making natural selection and co-evolution (to borrow P.T. Barnum’s and Richard Dawkins’ phrasing) The Greatest Show on Earth. Most other animals ─ mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish primarily ─ to solve territorial or

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Progressive Dogma Collides with Reality

Now, there’s real evidence to begin to resolve national controversy surrounding two critical issues, policing and jobs. Eric Adams’ apparent victory in the Democrat primary election in the New York City mayoral race reveals what people of color think about the police. According to an article in The New York Times, they do not want to “defund the police” as progressives demand. Adams “rejected calls to defund the Police Department and pledged to expand its reach in the city.” “Black and brown voters flocked to his candidacy…” On the economic front, President Biden seems to think he is riding to

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Discipline for Police Fails Amid Secrecy, Union Clout

Connecticut’s most important journalism last week was the study produced by Bill Cummings of the Hearst newspapers about the weakness and secrecy in discipline of misconduct by municipal police officers in Fairfield and New Haven counties. While police are far more sinned against than sinning, sensational cases of misconduct, however unrepresentative, heighten the need for accountability, especially since police departments are in charge of policing themselves, at least until a lawsuit is brought in court. Perhaps what was most inexcusable in what the Hearst report found was the refusal of many police departments to disclose disciplinary records in a timely

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Pandemic May Have Enabled Americans to Distinguish Between Glitter and Gold.

Nations are doomed when existential threats, moral imperatives and self-preservation become culture wars. In America, we could have treated COVID vaccinations, accurate depictions of U.S. history in schools and mitigating climate change as calls to greatness, staying logically and factually centered and united. Instead, nonconformist radicals and cultists broke ranks. Hyper-partisan dissociation replaced science and fundamental tenets of mutual protection and public safety. Example: how do I stay alive and protect others during a pandemic? With over 2 billion doses of sera successfully administered in 212 countries and territories around the world, those “politically red” among us still resist shots

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New Commuter Alternatives

Not with a bang, but a whimper.  That’s how commuters seem to be moving, albeit in small numbers, back to working in-person in their NYC offices. Leaving the comfort of your home office and Zoom-nasium won’t be easy, as many of us have found ways to be so much more productive without wasting hours commuting.  But when the boss says “jump” you got to ask yourself (and her), “how high?” when you really want to say “but why?” I hear anecdotes of some employers being persuaded (or forced?) to offer work-from-home alternatives two or three days a week just to

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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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