There Is No Free Pony

Early in our parenting my wife and I taught our daughter about the difference between wanting something and needing something.  She might want a pony but did she need one?  And most importantly, what was she willing to do to get that pony.  “Ponies aren’t free,” we would remind her. The same things are true for transportation, our climate and our health. A recent poll was released, commissioned by the Transportation Climate Initiative.  The name explains their mission: saving our climate by encouraging increased use of mass transit, electric vehicles and less use of fossil fuels. We all know that

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Snow Obsession isn’t News; More Taxes Aren’t ‘Reform’

Government in Connecticut is often mediocre but it usually excels at clearing the roads during and after a snowstorm like last week’s. Maybe this is because while some failures are easily overlooked or concealed, there is no hiding impassable roads. They risk political consequences. So people in Connecticut can have confidence that even the heaviest accumulations will not cause catastrophe — that their road crews will defeat the snow before anyone starves to death. Then what explains the obsession of the state’s news organizations, especially the television stations, with celebrating the obvious when there is going to be snow? First

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Make ‘99% Herd Immunity’ Our Battle Cry

Disasters are usually avoidable. Weeks before Mount Vesuvius buried Pompeii and Herculaneum (A.D. 79), Bay of Naples sea floors boiled and bubbled, streams and wells near the volcano went dry, and rats and other animals left both cities in droves. In 1985, a year before it exploded, engineers at Morton Thiokol warned about Challenger’s O-rings. At temps below freezing, they insisted, O-ring rubber could stiffen and rocket booster sections might not seal. When Bob Eberling, Roger Boisjoly, Arnold Thompson and Allan McDonald asked to delay the space shuttle’s launch for warmer weather, they were overruled. Bending to press and political

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Did Journalist Report Crimes?

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This reporter claims she was given information about illegal activity on behalf of cops in Old Saybrook. Did she report these crimes to the state’s attorney as she should? Did either of the ex-cops sign an affidavit or contact the state’s attorney as they would legally be required to? Does this report realize she published confessions from those 2 cops where they admitted they did something illegal? Crazy that all this was published without any fact-checking Jim BartellOld Saybrook

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50 Years of the EPA

Congratulations to EPA on 50 years On December 2, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) celebrated its 50th anniversary. Created by President Nixon in 1970, EPA consolidated the environmental responsibilities of the federal government into one agency to more effectively address environmental concerns. Over the past 50 years, the agency has set a worldwide standard for using scientific consensus as the foundation for regulations.  As the head of the trade association representing the pesticide industry, I know all too well how complex and divisive regulatory decisions can be, yet I cannot overstate the importance of the work that EPA scientists have done

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Clean Water and Affordable Housing — a Problem and a Fix

It’s not zoning, or angry crowds, it’s sewers that may put the kibosh on a plan for 67 units of affordable housing in Old Lyme – part of a 224-unit 11-building residential complex proposed for a 20-acre site on Hatchetts Hill Road. The fact is, it’s nearly impossible to build dense housing of any sort without sewers. You might recall, the proposed Hope Partnership development on Neck Road in Old Lyme would have provided just 37 units of affordable housing on septic and still required a loophole and a subdivide to get around Connecticut’s stringent environmental laws. But here’s the

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State’s Tax, School Policies Produce 40 Years of Failure

Now that the Democratic majorities in the General Assembly are increasing as a result of last month’s election, visions of sugarplums dance again in the heads of those who think that “property tax reform” and spending more on municipal schools can save Connecticut’s cities and their poor students. It’s a reminder of the popular definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Of course that could double as the definition of persistence — persistence being, as Coolidge said, the prerequisite for problem solving. But even for the persistent there comes a time to

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Just in Time

Notice anything missing on your store shelves?  Maybe paper products or your favorite canned soup?  Given that the pandemic has been raging for over nine months, why aren’t the shelves full again?  Why isn’t the stuff we want “getting there”? Well one of the reasons is because a Japanese engineer visited an American supermarket in the 1950’s and noticed something he thought was wrong… and we’re still paying for his astute observations. It was Taiichi Ohno, industrial engineer at Toyota, who noticed the American stores had weeks of inventory in a back room, waiting for customers purchases to allow quick

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American Consumers Deserve ‘Best Price’ for Prescription Drugs

President Trump finalized a “most-favored-nation (MFN),” or “best-price,” prescription drug pricing rule on Nov. 20. The goal of the MFN concept is to deliver fair prices to Americans without diminishing drug company profits that fund the all-important research and development that leads to life-saving new drugs. While there is controversy as to whether the final rule genuinely implements the concept, the MFN approach should be followed. Opponents of the rule should improve it, not oppose it. The MFN best-price concept mandates the same price for Americans and wealthy Europeans, who have been paying about one-third of what Americans pay. The MFN

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A Rational Middle Ground For Today’s Global Crises

In America’s Coming-of-Age (1915) Van Wyck Brooks famously divided American culture into “high-” and “low-brow.” He imagined, however, a rational middle ground, an organic common sense which combined the passion and practicality of the low with the intelligence and foresight of the high. In my lifetime, the closest we’ve come to that ideal was the environmental movement of the 1960s. It combined self-preservation with realistic views that humans and other elements of the biosphere are roughly equivalent; that living and nonliving members comprise a single, moral, ecological community. So polarized are we now between intellectual and tribal extremes a cultural

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Connecticut’s Big Problem Isn’t Higher But Lower Ed

As was inscribed on the pedestal of the statue of college founder Emil Faber in the movie “Animal House,” “Knowledge is good.” But knowledge can be overpriced, as the growing clamor about college student loan forgiveness soon may demonstrate. President-elect Joe Biden and Democrats in the new Congress will propose various forms of forgiveness, and this will have the support of Connecticut’s congressional delegation, all Democrats. Student loan debt is huge, estimated at $1.6 trillion, and five Connecticut colleges were cited last week by the U.S. Education Department for leaving the parents of their students with especially high debt. There

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Mail-order Drugs Aren’t Always what they Seem

During these Covid times we’re all looking for convenience and value for money as we’re told to stay at home and avoid spreading or catching Covid-19 If you’re one of the millions of Americans that regularly take prescription medications not only do you know they seem to be getting more expensive each year, but you also have to get your refills and that can be a headache if your pharmacy is miles away or maybe you’re without transport or immobile. So, how wonderful when you see these companies on the Internet that can send your drugs through the mail and

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With Journalism Faltering, Courant Prepares for Sale

America’s oldest continuously published newspaper is now the country’s newest paper without an office of its own. The Hartford Courant announced last week that it is terminating its lease on the building it has occupied for 70 years just across Broad Street from the state Capitol, the building from which the paper once dominated the news of state government and all Connecticut. The Courant’s employees will keep working from home, as many journalists have been doing during the virus epidemic. The Courant already had arranged to shutter its press and have its printing done by the Springfield Republican in Massachusetts,

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White Privilege is No Rapunzel

Like fossils of dinosaur tracks in ancient riverbeds the first Gilded Age and Victorian era left lingering imprints. White opulence, once hidden at English manors, Rockefeller’s Kykuit or Hearst’s “Xanadu,” became overt consumption of goods, in higher quantity or greater expense than practical, to display social status. Thorstein Veblen described such behavior as “conspicuous consumption” in The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899). Expensive goods not only provided “serviceability,” but “honorific” value as well, the kind of outward display of wealth formerly reserved for aristocrats, nobility and religious leaders, virtually all white. Once corporatism, capitalism and oligarchy morphed into parasitism,

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State Just Has to Tough it Out and Empty Trains Won’t Help

While Governor Lamont remarked the other day that state government doesn’t have enough money to rescue every business suffering from the virus epidemic and the curtailment of commerce, most people think the federal government has infinite money and can and should make everyone whole. Sharing that view, Connecticut U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal this week went to the railroad station in West Haven to join Catherine Rinaldi, president of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, in calling for an emergency $12 billion federal appropriation for the MTA, which runs the Metro-North commuter railroad line from New Haven to New York City. Metro-North has

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Epidemic Ideas Miss Target; UConn Evades on Race

Again last week most of the coronavirus-related deaths in Connecticut — 70 percent — occurred in nursing homes. What was the policy response? The teacher unions demanded that all schools terminate in-person classes and convert to “remote learning,” which for many students– those who need schools most — means no learning, and which for most other students means much less learning. And New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker called for the state to retreat to stricter closure of commerce. These responses were plainly irrelevant to what has always been the epidemic’s primary threat — to the frail elderly and the chronically

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Freedom of Speech isn’t a License to Deceive

Leadership, above all, is acknowledging reality. When politicians play fast and loose with facts, they immediately disqualify themselves from public service. When Apollo 15 landed on the moon, astronaut Dave Scott, paying homage to Galileo Galilei, dropped a hammer and falcon feather to test whether objects in free fall accelerate from gravity independent of mass. In a near-zero atmosphere, as Galileo predicted in the 17th century, they did, hitting the lunar surface at the same instant. Years ago, a forgery of “Sidereus Nuncius” deceived the world’s foremost bibliophiles. Galileo wrote the astronomical treatise in 1610, using his newly invented telescope

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Marijuana Legislation Suggests House Dems Already High

With Connecticut sure to struggle with the virus epidemic for many more months and state government sinking deeper into the financial disaster caused by the epidemic and government’s response to it, it is amazing that the most urgent objective of the enlarged Democratic majority in the General Assembly is to legalize marijuana. It’s another trivial distraction for legislators, like the renewed campaign of state Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, to compel schools to teach American Indian history when they can’t even manage to teach the language students are supposed to learn everything in. Why the urgency about marijuana? The drug is

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A True Measure of a Country

To the Editor: A true measure of a country, and its people, is how it handles a crisis. The American people in 1941 faced their greatest crisis and challenge since the Civil War. Japanese aircraft attacked us on our own territory in Hawai’i. Hitler had already overrun most of Europe. Whether we liked it or not, the United States was being pulled into the raging global conflict. Would the American people rise to the challenge? Of course we did. People volunteered to serve in the armed services and many took jobs in factories and businesses to support the war effort.

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Conductor Writes Tell-All Book

Are you nostalgic for the “good old days” on Metro-North… the crowded trains, the inevitable delays, your often-times crazy fellow passengers?   If so, you’ll want to check out former conductor Michael Shaw’s great new book, “My Rail Life”. Shaw has just retired from a 36 year career as a conductor on the New Haven line.  His father also worked for the railroad as do 5 of his siblings.  And he clearly loved his job. He once told passengers on a standing-room only train: “OK, folks.  We are half way to Grand Central.  It’s time for everyone who’s been seated to

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Residents Deserve a Vote

There is no rule requiring that the Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education win the approval of local residents before committing them to plans for a new multimillion-dollar sports field. The nine-member board could vote on the project as soon as Wednesday. In fact, school Superintendent Ian Neviaser, with the support of the board, has been salting away money for the project – to the tune of $2,107,873 — in an “undesignated” fund for years. Clearly, in the short term at least, the cost of the field is unlikely to explode budgets. But whether this amounts to fiscal prudence or fiscal

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Are You Being ‘Steered Away’ From Your Local Pharmacy?

A recent survey by the National Community Pharmacist Association, found that almost 80% of their community pharmacist members say they’ve lost patients because of unfair steering in the past six months by other larger pharmacy chains and that CVS Health is most often reported as the biggest culprit. “Many members have been telling us their patients are being transferred to larger competitors and in many cases the patients don’t know when, why or how. This survey sheds some light on the problem and the results are very disturbing.” According to Doug Hoey, CEO of the National Community Pharmacist Association. According

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Overlooked Telling Details Invite Virus Policy Rethink

Amid the growing panic fanned by news organizations about the rebound in the virus epidemic, last week’s telling details were largely overlooked. First, most of the recent “virus-associated” deaths in Connecticut again have been those of frail elderly people in nursing homes. Second, while dozens of students at the University of Connecticut at Storrs recently were been found infected, most showed no symptoms and none died or was even hospitalized. Instead all were waiting it out or recovering in their rooms or apartments. And third, the serious case rate — new virus deaths and hospitalizations as a percentage of new

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Diverse Cargoes at State Pier is Common Sense

To the Editor: The long term consequences and costs of the CT Port Authority’s plan to redevelop State Pier in New London are being overlooked.   The capacity and flexibility of the current two pier design provides competitive advantages that will be lost by filling 7 acres of deep water between the piers.   In this 2004 article from The Day, New England Shipping Co. Vice President Joe Ciccia explained the real dollar value of being able to dock two ships at once at State Pier.  New London — For the first time since the state completed renovations at Adm. Harold E. Shear State Pier last fall, two ships

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The ‘Great Reset’ is knocking on our door

To the Editor: The Coronavirus has invaded America, and Americans have experienced what life would be like living under socialism.  Whether over the top or not, the reaction to the virus has thrown the blinds wide-open and given Americans a stellar glimpse of Socialist Rule. We have, for the time being, lost many of our civil liberties and Freedoms.  We now know first-hand how house arrest orders would affect us; weeks without intimate social contact has taken its toll on many already.  We have seen drones, a thunder-bolt to our civil liberties, flying overhead to control crowd size.  The Feds

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Even Hospital Capacity Can’t Be State’s Primary Objective

Maybe it will turn out to be only a fluke, but amid the renewed panic about the virus epidemic there is some interesting detail in the monthly death statistics of the state Department of Public Health. In the first three months of the epidemic — March, April, and May — there were 4,174 more deaths in Connecticut than in those months last year. Many if not most of these deaths were those of frail residents of nursing homes, which were unprepared for the epidemic. But as precautions were imposed by the extraordinary orders of Governor Lamont — business closures, mask

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With End in Sight, Don’t Give Up Fight on COVID

Now in its ninth month, the COVID-19 global pandemic continues to rage, though there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. Pfizer and Moderna recently reported early figures regarding their COVID-19 vaccines, reporting them to be more than 90 percent effective. In addition to this reported success, several additional vaccines are deep in late-stage studies, and researchers continue to test other treatments. This is fantastic news. Assuming a smooth rollout of vaccines when they’re made available, several successful products would quash COVID-19’s pervasive ability to spread freely. After an arduous, difficult year, this is welcome news that should

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American Privilege

As Americans, we live in a country with a foundational belief that all people are created equal.  The specific purpose of our Constitution is to protect our Natural Rights. We are encouraged by the Declaration of Independence to pursue our own individual visions of happiness; whatever those might be. People, unfortunately, are flawed, and since nations are made up of people, all nations are flawed. In America, we still have much work to do to live up to our ideals. Historic wrongs were done to Native Americans and enslaved Blacks. Later more wrongs were inflicted with Jim Crow laws and

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Rebates Raise Drug Costs 30 Percent

Direct and Indirect Remuneration Fees, yes, I know you’ve never heard of them and you’re saying, why should I be interested? The simple reason is this – every time you get your prescription drugs filled at your local pharmacy, you’re paying far more than you should for your drugs and that adds up to hundreds of dollars every year and your pharmacy is having to pay for those drugs as well and BOTH of you have no say in the matter. And who’s behind all of this? Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM’s), you’ll recall we discussed them is a previous article

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