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SeaViews: Insights from the Gray Havens 
October 2000

(formerly the _Rochester Rag_, formerly the _News from Detroit_)

Motto: The surest way to get a reputation for being a trouble maker these days is to go about repeating the very phrases that the Founders used in the struggle for independence.

-- C.A. Beard


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On last month's Fix;

the answer to last month's Fix,
"How do we convince voters that creating a new entitlement is not a good idea?"

The ladies in my van pool know I'm a Libertarian. As usual, with the imminant election, and the fact that they are all liberals, they ask how I cannot be for prescription drug support for Medicare. I pointed out that when FDR created Soc Sec, it was meant to be a a safety net for a small percentage of the US pop. that could not support themselves and had no family support. Payroll taxes were taken from the current workers to pay for those on Soc Sec. It amounted to less than 3% of the Federal budget, and the taaxes from 10 or 12 workers paid for each recipient. Today, with the addition of Medicaid and Medicare to Soc Sec, entitlement programs acount for over 2/3 of the Federal budget, and 3-4 workers pay for the recipient. When the baby-boom retires, 1-2 workers will pay for each recipient. By the year 2020, at current growth rates, over 80% of the Federal Budget will be for entitlements. People talk about sustainable agriculture. How sustainable is the growth of entitlements?

The American Revolution was fought, among other things, over taxation rates that were less than 5% of annual income. Can we expect peace to continue at the rates that will be required to sustain this system? Aristotle defined the free man as, "One who does not live for the pleasure of another." Based on that definition, can we consider ourselves free?

On the Election;
One of the things that I was reallly hoping GW Bush would bring up in the debates was the huge security weakness that the US is exposed to by having a 62% reliance on foriegn oil. Al Gore made a big deal about Clinton and he releasing 30 million barrels from the US Strategic Patrolleum reserve. The idea was that the increase supply would drop the US price. Some points

1. 30 million barrels is about 2-3% of the annual US use
2. The oil was sold to private oil brokers who were not contractually obligated to sell the oil to US refiners. In fact, 20/30 million barrels were sold to Europe refiners for consumption there.

During the Clinton years, oil exploration and development has stymied, NSF and DOE funding for alternative energy technologies have been cut, and environmentalist have been trying to dismantle much of the hydro dams in the American west. The Gore answer is to boost efficiency, and that is admitrable, but not sufficient. We need to have an agressive search for alternate energy sources - and implement them. We cannot be content to hang our economic survival on nations who want our destruction.

Guest Editorial:

What you must believe to vote for Al Gore
Mona Charen
October 20, 2000

To vote for Al Gore, you must believe: -- That to give people a tax cut is to "spend" their money. About 111 times in the course of the three presidential debates, Gore said that "Under Gov. Bush's tax cut proposal, he would spend more money on tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent than all of the new spending that he proposes for education, health care, prescription drugs and national defense all combined."

People who believe that all of their money belongs to the government, except that portion that the governing class
decides to "spend" on tax cuts, should vote for Gore. So, too, should those who believe that if the government
undertakes huge new spending programs, taxes will not increase.

-- That you can trust a man who swears his abiding passion is to "fight" for the little guy even though, in 1997, out of an income of $197,729, Gore donated only $353 to charity, and who, in 2000, had to be publicly shamed before having the toilet and sink in his tenant's house repaired.

-- That there is any such thing as a "lock box" in American political life -- presupposing that one administration
and/or one congress can bind another.

-- That pharmaceutical companies must be strong-armed to forego profits in the name of lower prices for seniors,
and that you can rely on the good faith of a man who casually asserts that "the big drug companies" are now
"spending more money on advertising and promotion than they are on research and development." Actually, a
Kaiser Family Foundation study released in July reveals that the drug companies spent between $5.8 and $8.3 billion for advertising in 1998, versus $21 billion for research and development.

-- That what this world needs, in the words of Al Gore's environmental manifesto "Earth in the Balance," is "to
establish a coordinated global program to accomplish the strategic goal of completely eliminating the internal
combustion engine over, say, a 25 year period."

-- That it is possible to commit American troops to every trouble spot around the world while simultaneously
starving the military for funds.

-- That the creation of new federal programs to provide universal preschool, expand Medicare, provide prescription drugs to all of America's elderly (Bush proposes to cover only the poor), provide universal health coverage for children, fund Technology for Tomorrow Challenge and scores of other proposed initiatives will neither increase the size of the federal government nor eat up the surplus.

-- That a man who routinely breaks even the rules of a debate format should be trusted when he assures us that
throughout the campaign of 1996, he engaged in no illegal fund raising.

-- That President Clinton's policies, standing alone, have led to "instead of the biggest deficits in history, we now
have the biggest surpluses. ... Instead of quadrupling our national debt, we've seen the creation of 19 million new
jobs. Instead of a deep recession and high unemployment, America now has our strongest economy in the history of the United States."

Until a Republican Congress arm-wrestled him into accepting a balanced budget, President Clinton's policies would have created deficits into the indefinite future. As to the recession of 1990/1991, it was quite mild (not, as Gore always says, "the double dip recession," whatever that is, and the "worst recession since the Great Depression"). The recovery had begun before Clinton/Gore took office in January 1992.

-- That, once elected, NEA Al would actually implement his proposal for testing new teachers.

--That affirmative action does not mean quotas, merely attempts to provide opportunity where it has been lacking.

-- That Al and Tipper Gore have been consistent critics of Hollywood and the rock music industry, as the vice
president boasted during the third debate. In fact, Gore dragged his wife to Hollywood in 1988 -- the year he
invented the Willie Horton issue, no he really did -- and forced her to grovel before record company executives
promising to cease her campaign for music ratings. He was running for president and wanted the industry's financial support.

-- That Bill Clinton was "one of our greatest presidents."


1. Matt writes;

Date: Sat, 21 Oct 2000 11:45:27 -0700 (MST)
From: Matt Birkholz <>
Subject: lastcall

> Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2000 23:18:33 -0400 (EDT)
>   A reminder for letters for this this month's "News". Also,  in the
>   interest of maintaining a lighter tone, I'd also appreciate  any
>   humourous anecdotes from your respective locales.  Try to keep
>   them under 100 words each, if at all possible.
> "How do we convince the public that creating a new entitlement
> (ie drug prescriptions) is not in their long term best interest?

But it IS.  It is not in their grandchildren's long term best interest, but
it is easy to ignore that, especially with spin-meisters providing faux
logical arguments in the other direction.  There is plenty of wiggle room
and there are, as you delight in pointing out, outright lies.

I am "voting" FOR free drug prescriptions.  I am voting AGAINST fetal
tissue research.  I am voting FOR higher taxes, FOR a more intrusive
crackdown on drugs, abortion, tax-evasion, speeding, picking-your-nose here
AND abroad!  Murphy says "If it's stuck, force it.  If it breaks, it needed
replacing anyway."  I don't really see the tyranny of the majority
breaking; it serves too many too well.  But the harder it squeezes, the
more break-outs will occur.  The more break-outs the better.  Diaspora is
the HOPE of the dynamicist.  Maybe our ONLY hope against yet another New
World Order -- the yokes of the stasists.

"stasist" is from Virginia Postrel's book _The Future And Its Enemies_.
>From the dustcover:

    Postrel argues that [the] conflicting views of progress, rather
    than the traditional left and right, increasingly define our
   political and cultural debate.  On one side, she identifies a
    collection of strange bedfellows; Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader
    standing shoulder to shoulder against international trade;
    "right-wing" nativists and "left-wing" environmentalists opposing
    immigration; traditionalists and technocrats denouncing Wal-Mart,
    biotechnology, the Internet, and suburban sprawl.  Some prefer a
    pre-industrial past, while others envision a bureaucratically
    engineered future, but all share devotion to what she calls
    "stasis", a controlled, uniform society that changes only with
    permission from some central authority.

How are we doing on our break-out plans?


Quote(s) of the month:

"Bill CLinton will be remembered as one of our greatest presidents."
-- Al Gore

Fix of the month:

"IS the US energy policy sufficient?"



1. Seattle, 30 OCt: Consumer activist Ralph Nader wants to end all commercial  logging in national forests.   Vice President Al Gore says he'll protect old-growth trees.   Texas Gov. George W. Bush wants to harvest more timber from  federal land.

 From the left to the right, each presidential candidate's environmental agenda grows progressively less protective, right?  Not so fast.

Natural-resource management is riddled with political and scientific minefields, as divisions within the environmental  movement itself suggest: Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, is stumping for Gore. David Brower, founder of the group, is backing Nader. And a vote for Nader, both admit, could help elect Bush.

 Bush, who in May held a $1 million-plus Portland fund-raiser with  timber officials, isn't saying how much more logging might occur if he were president. Rey said that if he were appointed, he would likely recommend opening up the plan.  Tim Hermach, director of Oregon's Native Forest Council, and an environmentalist who has long been disappointed with Gore, said,  "When Bush is going to ruin the environment, at least he'll be  honest and tell you. I'm surprised people don't just flat-out laugh at Gore. Fewer trees will come down, but we'll be less critical of the sellout."

For his part, Nader hasn't said how he would prevent acongressional logjam over his plan to end all timber harvests on public lands, or precisely what he would do to prevent the collapse of economies dependent on timber. Asked how Nader would change the forest plan, Nader's staff members were flummoxed.  "We don't have any of that stuff quite worked out yet," said David    DeRosa, Nader's environmental adviser.

2. Olympia, 1 Nov.: Junping o nthe bandwagon for his relection for Govr, Gary Locke promotes cheap drugs for seniors. At first blush, it seemed the governor's plan would require the state to negotiate a discounted price from drug manufacturers, a  favorite whipping boy of both parties this election season. Seniors would get a buyers-club card, entitling them to a "discount."

As it turns out, the discount in Locke's plan, scheduled to begin after the first of the year, comes not from drug companies but from pharmacies.  Around the state, pharmacists are complaining that they'll be paying the same wholesale prices but selling to the governor's buyers-club members - rich or poor - for less.

  "This issue is huge with pharmacy owners worried about their survival," said Don Downing, pharmaceutical-care coordinator for the Washington State Pharmacists Association. Pharmacists, he  said, are in effect being asked to "fund this program."

 Locke has issued an executive order to establish the plan - known   as the AWARDS program. It would allow residents 55 and over to join a buyers club that would entitle them to discounts already  negotiated for state employees with some 900 pharmacies.


1. Chicago, 30 OCt; Citing the nation's history of racial  discrimination, black members of the City Council are blocking a proposal to require the panel to recite the Pledge of Allegiance before every session.

  Invoking the pledge's final phrase, "liberty and justice for all," Alderwoman Freddrenna Lyle said, "Unfortunately, this country has not embraced all of those concepts."

The opposition surprised supporters and delayed action on the proposal. "It seemed to me to be a no- brainer, something that would be passed almost without discussion," Alderman Bernard Stone said.

  The pledge, written as part of a Columbus Day commemoration in 1892   by Francis Bellamy, a socialist and Baptist minister, has aroused objections for a variety of reasons, including its mention of God.  The Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that requiring anyone to stand for the  pledge or to recite it is a violation of First Amendment rights.


1. Dallas, 1 Nov; A 15-year-old boy had a loaded 9 mm automatic handgun and set off  fireworks inside the classroom but never fired the gun, said Carrollton police spokesman David Sponhour.

 The boy was charged with delinquent conduct, which under Texas   juvenile law is punishable by imprisonment or confinement in jail. If  certified as an adult, he could face charges of aggravated assault or kidnapping.

   ``Apparently there was some type of homework assignment that the  teacher asked him for and he said he didn't have it and she said she was going to send him to the office,'' Sponhour said.

Washington D.C.

1. OCt. 30; Another series of short gap spending measure have been required by Clinton's veto of next year's budget. Clinton has now triggered a lame duck session - that is the Congress will have to return after the election, and try to settle the Fiscal 2001 budget - although with the likely outcome of a Bush presidency and a Rep Congress, chances for a smooth budget plan are slim.

© Steve Langer, 1995-2000