As I get older, it has become my general custom as each July 4th rolls around to spend some time reflecting on the nature of patriotism in America. Sometimes my reverie on the topic is rather technical and academic, but more typically it is commonsensical. Like most people here, I do consider myself a patriot in a broad sense. I mean I like it here, right? I could have moved elsewhere - with some great difficulty - but chose not to. Regular viewers of this publication are quite well aware that I have a great many criticisms of American public policy at the federal, state and local levels.
Well, the outcome predicted by progressive critics since the Massachusetts Chapter 58 health care "reform" plan was passed into law in 2006 is now getting closer and closer to becoming reality as the board of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority voted to cut $115 million from the program's 2010 budget this week.
As is our custom at Open Media Boston when events occur on the global stage that have a direct impact on our fair metropolis, it seems important to signal our strong support for the popular democratic uprising sweeping Iran since the contested re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The movement that has crystallized around opposition candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi clearly has less and less to do with the man himself, and more and more to do with overthrowing the repressive theocratic regime that has held sway for most of the last 30 years in that country.
There's been a fair amount of happy talk about the Massachusetts economy in the local news media in the last few weeks. Mostly of the "glass half full" variety ... like, "sure most major industries are in free fall round these parts, but biotech is doing fine!" However no single industrial sector or small group of industrial sectors is going to assure an upswing in our economic fortunes. Nor is any erstwhile solution that doesn't create good public sector jobs and rebuild the tattered state and federal social safety nets.
Nashville, IN - The world looks a bit different from here in Brown County. This entirely rural area of southern Indiana has its own subtle pleasures. Beautiful rolling hills studded with cedars, sycamores and poplars. Working farms that dot the landscape- not as large as they get north of here in the plains, but helping feed the nation now as they have done for several generations.
So here's the deal. For the first time in over two years your faithful Open Media Boston Editor/Publisher is traveling - in this case through the midwest over the next several days - on the closet thing to a vacation I've had in quite a long time. This fact, combined with the long Memorial Day weekend, means that we've got a light edition for you this week. However, we've got plenty of stuff in the pipeline over the coming weeks; so please maintain a state of catlike readiness until our next action-packed edition.
In a completely unsurprising move, the Mass. Senate passed a big hike in the state sales tax from 5% to 6.25% - following on the heels of a recent House vote. With veto-proof margins in both chambers, this regressive tax boondoggle is shortly going to sail across Gov. Deval Patrick's desk ... whether he's against the increase or not.
Since the May 8th crash on the Green Line T that injured 50 people - some seriously - and trashed 3 trolley cars, Bostonians have been understandably outraged that the accident was caused because now-fired driver Aidan Quinn was allegedly texting his girlfriend while running a moving vehicle. However, yesterday the Boston Carmen's Union announced that it was not supporting Mass. Bay Transit Authority leadership's new order banning all electronic devices from the workplace - which currently include stiff penalties for even possessing such a device on the job.
When we last took a look at the state budget debates a few weeks ago, Massachusetts was projected to be $3.5 billion in the hole for the FY 2010 budget - due to ongoing drops in tax revenue as the economy continues to slow. Now that number has increased to about $5 billion, according to the latest briefing by the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.
Today is May Day. There are many Americans, including many on the American left, who have a somewhat skewed view of the history of May 1st as a workers' holiday.