The value of values: The economics of freedom

My mother died last October at 93. She taught English and social studies (history and civics) at E.C. Goodwin Tech in New Britain, retiring in 1989. Recently my sister and I were packing her books for donation. I found a monograph among them. The year was 1978 and this was a mailing sponsored by the Standard Oil Company. It was the start of a propaganda and indoctrination campaign in support of Milton Friedman’s supply-side/trickle-down, neo-liberal economic policies implemented by President Ronald Reagan and utilized by both parties since. Here is a quote from the monograph that is the philosophical foundation of trickle-down:

Infrastructure needs are obvious; funding for them not so much

Once again Connecticut legislators are scouring every crevice for new sources to cover our over-budgeted projects. Monday multiple House Democrats yet again purpose the installation of tolls. State rep. Tony Guerrera , House chair of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, states “I promise you if we do this, this state will thrive.”

Three new ‘R’s for Connecticut education

A “minimally adequate system of free public schools” is the new court standard for State education funding. Town and School leaders are stunned by the recent CCJEF v. Rell ruling. Unless reconsidered, the responsibility of moving our state education system forward rests with state elected leadership. We hope they accept this challenge and adopt a higher standard. Our state’s future depends on making this the top priority and working together to provide more than a minimally adequate education system.

The federal tax cut is not the problem. The budget is.

This week it was announced that Gov. Malloy, along with Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Phil Murphy, is joining a lawsuit challenging the new federal tax laws that put restrictions on state and local tax deductions. Malloy argues the new tax laws discriminate against mostly blue states that voted against President Trump. However, what has these Democrats quite obviously excited is a cut to tax deductions unearths how poor these states’ budgets and taxes are.

For community health centers, a catastrophe in the making

As the daughter of an immigrant who raised his two daughters to believe that this is the greatest country in the world, I have always been proud of what our country stands for. That’s why when the call came asking if I would attend this week’s State of the Union Address, I felt an odd mix of excitement and sadness. Excitement to be a part of an American tradition taking place in the history-ladened halls of our national Capitol; sadness because I knew why I was being singled out for this honor and opportunity. I am the CEO of Fair Haven Community Health Care, a community health center in New Haven, which provides care to over 18,000 low-income residents of our community. Community health centers in the U.S. are currently under siege, due to the chaotic bipartisan bickering that has come to be the hallmark of my beloved government. Congresswoman DeLauro’s choice for her guest is one way she can shine a spotlight on the plight of Community Health Centers.

Connecticut is still a great place to live, good place to work

Connecticut’s attractiveness as a place to work and a place to live is because of our region, not just the individual townships.  Lacking real functional counties to tie our regions together is a weakness, but the townships can overcome this by recognizing their interdependence.

We in Connecticut are tending to focus on our weaknesses, but should recognize that overall Connecticut is a great place to live and a good place to work, for many reasons, and we should all work together to make it even better.

New reality: Changing cities and burbs can thrive together

The likelihood of Hartford, the lynchpin of this region, snatching victory from the jaws of near-bankruptcy is too-often viewed skeptically, even as adjacent suburban communities gain notice as up-and-coming places to be. Evidence suggests that our habitual reactions are selling the region, and the city, short.  Urban communities and the suburbs that surround them can thrive together.  In fact, that may be the only way for either – or both – to sustain and spread economic progress.

The Asian Registry is an American issue

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamt of a day when Americans would “not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Remembering his wise words on the day dedicated to his memory inspired me to address a current issue that most have never heard about: The Asian Registry.

Let’s talk about real issues, not Trump’s mental health

The Connecticut Mirror covered the invitation issued by Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) to a Yale psychiatrist, Bandy X. Lee, to her Washington home to discuss the sitting president’s fitness – or lack thereof – for the office he holds. The first time I saw the story, I scrolled by. The second time, I clicked on the link.  By the third or fourth time, I responded with a short series of tweets expressing my profound disappointment. By the third or fourth time I did this, I was invited to write an op-ed. That was last week. So much has happened in the intervening days, as has seemed to be the case since January 2017, that I, myself, questioned whether it was worth my time to write this, and your time to read it. But here we are.

Push for carbon-free and other climate-change legislation

The article published in the Connecticut Mirror on Jan. 18, “Sandy + 5; Irene +6: Coastal resilience still elusive and expensive,” highlighted the need for Connecticut’s coastal towns to develop plans to become more resilient to hurricanes and rising sea level, yet it made no mention of the need to address climate change, the consequences of which include coastal flooding and more extreme weather events.

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.

Closing Simpson-Waverly School will do more harm than good

The superintendent of Hartford has proposed to close two schools and consolidate others mostly in the poorest and most segregated areas of the city in order to cut cost and avoid costly building renovations. The vote will take place in the next Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 16. As professors who worked in the past several years in partnership with Simpson-Waverly Pre-K-8 school, we would like to suggest that such closure will do more harm than good and will be much more costly in the long run for the city of Hartford.