We the People decide what is normal not the government

One phrase that has been bandied about far too often during this Coronavirus crisis is “the new normal.”  It deeply disturbs me every time I hear an elected member from our government, at any level, declare that the end result of their plans for reopening our country will be a new normal. 

Whenever one of our elected representatives uses that phrase they are acting like a dictator.  They are treating us like subjects rather that citizens of a Constitutional Republic.  Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts acted like a dictator when he declared this to be phase four of  his torturously slow plan for reopening this state:

Phase 4 will be the “New Normal” – development of vaccine and/or therapy enables resumption of new normal.

The use the phrase “new normal” as the end goal is a sign of surrender to the virus.  It is defeatist.  It is not something we Americans should ever strive for.  The only acceptable end result for any challenge facing this country is a complete return to the normal we had before the challenge began.

When a  politician declares that the end scenario of any crisis will result in a new normal they are declaring that they want to fundamentally transform this nation in some way.  It is unacceptable to us Americans that our government will unilaterally transform this nation in some way. We the people must always be the the agents of change for any change no matter how small or local.

It also bothers me greatly that phase four of the Baker plan will only commence when a vaccine or therapy enables it.  There is no guarantee when that would happen.  Until then we are stuck in phase3 which is defined as “Phase 3 will be “Vigilant” – additional industries resume operations with guidance.”   It will mean nothing but government interference,

The entire Baker plan, as unveiled on this past Monday, is as slow and arduous as I feared when I wrote last week’s article.  I’m afraid that by the time we reach the end of it the economic devastation will be quite catastrophic. We need to let Governor Baker know that his plan is way too slow.

It looks like Massachusetts may not be opening any time soon

Governor Charlie Baker had originally announced that all nonessential businesses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts would remain closed until May 4th.  That date was later postponed another two weeks.  Most of us in this state were hoping and expecting that when that date is finally reached things would rapidly return to normal  I was one of them.  My hopes were rudely squashed when I saw this article on social media: Baker: Mass. Businesses Closed Due To Coronavirus Won’t Be ‘Off To The Races’ On May 18.

Here is how Governor Baker describes his plans for the opening process:

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said that while he hopes some businesses will be able to resume operations soon after May 18, he added it will be a gradual process and not “off to the races.”

“There won’t be anyone firing a starting gun on May 18 and saying everybody’s off to the races, but we do hope certain types of businesses and workplaces will be able to begin resuming operations, under the guidelines established through this process, and based on the fact that we will have hit certain triggers, with respect to the status of the virus here in Massachusetts,” said Baker.

Instead  of the rapid reopening we were expecting it looks now like it will be a long arduous process. According this quote from Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito the process might not even begin on the 18th.

“There seems to be some with an understanding that May 18 is a magical date. May 18 is the date that we said the report of this advisory board will be released,” she said, adding “It doesn’t mean that the economy across our Commonwealth will just reopen. It’s just not possible.”

How arduous will the process be? Check out this quote from Governor Charlie Baker.

“In the coming weeks we’re prepared to have more concrete plans on what each phase of reopening will look like, where certain activities and industries fit into which phase, general business guidance about social distancing, personal protection, and cleaning protocols that all businesses will need to adhere to upon reopening, and industry specific guidance and protocols for reopening safely,”

If Governor Baker’s reopening plan proves to be as slow and torturous as it seems from this article I’m not sure how many businesses will be left to open.  How many people will have their livelihood destroyed for good?  I believe the economic carnage by a painfully slow process will be staggering.  I don’t believe the people of Massachusetts will stand by and let such a slow process play out.  A major protest took place on this past Monday with at least a couple thousand in attendance.  The protests will soon spread and become larger,  Hopefully Governor Baker will listen.

Rather than relying on a committee of experts to come up with a plan which will be implemented by bureaucrats I believe Governor Baker should just let the business owners and the people of  Massachusetts come up with their own plan.  Decentralized decision making is always far superior to mandates from bureaucrats

Massachusetts’ draconian transportation funding proposals

Get ready to have your money sucked away rapidly by the Massachusetts tax man and be prepared to have Big Brother riding with you everywhere you drive because Massachusetts lawmakers are formulating a plan to raise more money to pay for transportation.  The current proposals have many odious provisions which are documented in this CBS Boston article Massachusetts Lawmakers Propose Expanding Highway Tolls, Charging Drivers By The Mile.

Several key House members have hinted that they are likely to include an increase in the state’s 24-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax in a transportation revenue bill that Speaker Robert DeLeo is eyeing for release next month, but other ideas put on the table during a Transportation Committee hearing on Thursday could supplement that revenue stream.

Rep. Thomas Stanley warned his colleagues that over the long term the gas tax will be insufficient to meet roadway and public transit needs. Rising fuel efficiency in vehicles, he said, means that even the same frequency of driving will result in motorists purchasing less gas, generating less revenue for the state.

Instead, Stanley suggested Massachusetts embrace legislation (H 3010) he co-filed with Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier to create a pilot program to test fees based on the miles people travel rather than the amount of gas used.

As if all of these driver fleecing proposals aren’t ridiculous enough, there are more being investigated.

The first bill (S 2060) would instruct the Department of Transportation to report on the feasibility of implementing all-electronic tolling on state and interstate highways “not currently subject to a toll,” taking a look in particular at tolls along the state’s borders.

The second (S 2062) would expand tolls to stretches of Interstate 93, Interstate 95 and Route 2 in an attempt to apply equal charges to drivers across the greater Boston region. That bill also calls for implementation of dynamic “peak pricing” where the toll varies based on roadway conditions.

As a libertarian who values personal freedom and privacy very deeply, Massachusetts Bill H3010 really bothers me on a fundamental level.  Here are the details:

SECTION 3. PILOT PROGRAM.

(a) The department of transportation shall develop, implement and oversee one or more statewide pilot programs to assess owners of motor vehicles a user fee that is based on the number of miles traveled on roads in this state by those motor vehicles.

(b) The pilot programs shall include at least 1,000 volunteers across the commonwealth who are representative of drivers of trucks, passenger, and commercial vehicles and throughout the commonwealth, who will have on-board vehicle-mileage-counting equipment added to their vehicles, administered in a manner the department of transportation deems appropriate.

(c) The pilot programs shall test the reliability, ease of use, cost and public acceptance oftechnology and methods for:

(1) counting the number of miles traveled by particular vehicles;

(2) reporting the number of miles traveled by particular vehicles; and

(3) collecting payments from participants in the pilot programs.

(d) The pilot programs shall also analyze and evaluate the ability of different technologies and methods to:

(1) protect the integrity of data collected and reported;

(2) ensure drivers’ privacy; and

(3) vary pricing based on the time of driving, type of road, proximity to transit,          vehicle fuel efficiency, participation in car-sharing or pooling or income of the driver

The freedom to travel wherever we wish is under assault by this bill.  The government will be punishing us for traveling too far by taxing us on every mile we wish to drive.  That is unacceptable.  The technologies to implement this will result in Big Brother riding with us in every vehicle.  That kind of government surveillance is beyond unacceptable.

Massachusetts New Across the Board Pay Cut

Two days at work there were passing out a sheet to employees to read and sign. Since almost the entire workforce is Spanish speaking they only had one English language copy so I didn’t get the form until yesterday.

Apparently Massachusetts with it’s veto proof Democrat majorities in both the house and senate decided that having NY & CT nextdoor is enough to keep business in the state so they passed a law mandating PAID leave, Up to 20 weeks for having kids and up to 26 weeks for a medical condition, up to a max of $840 a week (That’s $42K a year). Under the law the employer is responsible for 60% of this dough while the state is responsible for the other 40%, but where does the state get this money?

Well it gets it from workers. A deductions of .75% from your paycheck will be starting shortly to pay for this and oddly enough, the deduction is coming two years before this goes into effect (I suspect to make it look like it covers the costs) so you get to pay for this plan for over a year before anyone gets a penny.

Now when I read this aloud and mentioned what it actually involved the people around me seemed to think it was a good idea. The chance to get a full paycheck for 20+ weeks without working sounded really good, at least they did until I pointed out some basic math that I did in my head.

The current minimum wage in MA is $12 and goes to up .75 each Jan 1st till it hits $15 an hour. Because of the Trump economy and the difficulty in getting workers the temps are getting as much as $13 an hour. So here is the math:

$13.00 & .0075 = .0975

When people hear “three quarters of one percent” they think less than a penny, but oddly enough when I told the person working next to me that thanks to this new law he would now be making .10 less an hour he attitude toward the new law changed dramatically. People understand the difference between getting ten cents an hour less than not.

He objected to the boss who reiterated that the cost was only three quarters of one percent which seemed to placate him even though that amount was still the same .10 an hour less.

I wonder how many tens of thousands of people in the state never even thought about how much that pay cut is, or more importantly how much that pay cut is going to become once people start making claims in two years.

Closing thought: In a Trump economy that’s booming, a state like Massachusetts and the business located there might, just might be growing enough to absorb all of these costs. What happens when he and the policies that have produced all this growth are gone and these bills still have to be paid?