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Forum, Dec. 29: Hidden in Your Electricity Bill


Thursday, December 28, 2017
Hidden in Your Electricity Bill

I know that most of us tend to just glance at the fliers included with our utility bills before tossing them. I suggest looking more closely at the ones with your latest electrical bill.

Mine included a notice of changes to the energy efficiency charge, which all users get charged. Of the five categories of users, only the residential rate increased, while all commercial, industrial and municipal rates decreased. I’d love to hear our Public Utility Commission’s reasoning for that. If any change was deemed neccessary, why shouldn’t it be equal across the board? On the face of it, it appears like another case of saving costs for business owners, and putting the expense directly on individual users.

Stephen Raymond

Sharon

A Threat to Public Schools

SB 193, the bill in the New Hampshire Legislature that would create Educational Savings Accounts, also known as school vouchers, will be voted on by the House on Jan. 3. This legislation would undermine public education in New Hampshire by channeling taxpayer money to private schools, religious schools, home schooling and tutoring. It should be defeated.

Here are some of the reasons why: The bill would take money from already strained public schools and channel it to private schools with little accountability. Special education students would be especially at risk because they would have to waive their legal protections if they use the vouchers. New Hampshire families would likely end up paying more in local property taxes to make up for the loss of funds and ensure that their public schools are adequate.

Passage of this bill will probably mean additional costs for the state because of the likelihood of a court challenge to the constitutionality of state aid for parochial schools. In addition, while SB 193 includes “stabilization grants” to ease the burden on local districts that lose state funds, the bill does not fund this option. If 3 percent of eligible students select a voucher, the state will need to raise and appropriate at least $31 million in additional funds over the next five years. I do not believe that the legislators who have promoted SB 193 have answered the question of where these additional funds would come from.

Public money should be spent for public good. That is, public money should be spent for all, not some, of the people. Please ask your representative to vote against this bill. Ask now, because the vote is soon.

Margaret A. Campbell

West Lebanon

You Get What You Plant

Our white, male, one-party government seems to be in the clutches of a fear of anybody-not-like-us. This would be the logical product from years of planning and vision by billionaire-funded think-tanks and training institutes. You get what you plant. The first seeds were likely sown by the colonial mindset that stole this land, demonized its natives to death, then worked the soil with centuries of slave labor, which we have yet to face and repair. But I think we will.

The roots of respect and listening are setting — what happens when people miss equality and democracy for too long. May I recommend my favorite lines for our times, from the chorus of a song written by Nerissa and Katryna Nields.

Won’t you keep me company?

Ask your enemy to tea?

See the criminal in me

And stay anyway.

Robert Spottswood

Norwich

It’s a Great Time to Be Wealthy

Wealthy interests have cashed in political IOUs for a tax windfall — courtesy of their Republican minions — in a process that was rushed and in no way transparent. As though the rich need more money: Corporations are already sitting on $2.3 trillion in cash reserves, and the richest 1 percent of Americans hold 40 percent of the country’s individual wealth.

Life is good at the top. Citizens United removed the cap on money that wealthy interests can spend to get their candidates elected. Paid lobbyists “guide” legislators and use the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization with ties to the Koch brothers, to write legislation. Now the wealthy have even more money to invest in government.

Champagne corks are popping in corporate boardrooms. Net neutrality is history. Protections for consumers, workers, the environment and fair competition (aka “regulations”) are being swept away. The revolving door between businesses and the agencies that oversee them further makes the notion that there is “oversight” laughable. Billionaire Cabinet members subvert their office missions. Unions have been neutered. The fiduciary rule has been put off — Wall Street trumps Main Street again!

Their world-class propaganda includes such self-serving terminology as “job creators,” “death tax” and “trickle down.” Don’t you marvel at their successful promotion of voter suppression laws (targeting minorities, students and the poor) with no evidence of voter fraud, yet are able to stop action on global warming despite overwhelming evidence?

Yes, wealth will continue to flow upward, and thanks to good tax lawyers, to offshore tax havens. Thanks to a gutted estate tax, it will stay there. No perceived need to pay their fair share to the country that made their wealth possible.

But sacrifices must be made. So-called “entitlements” for the middle class and the poor (i.e. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, health care subsidies) will have to be cut to compensate for the deficit-creating tax cuts. Health care will return to being a privilege for those who can afford it.

What should we call our nation’s new brand? Do you favor oligarchy, plutocracy or corporatocracy?

Allan MacDonald

New London