Smith: Where are we headed?

first_imgby Mike Smith In national politics the only meaningful victory is one where you completely vanquish your opponent. A compromise is a defeat. An attempt to understand an opposing view is interpreted as lacking conviction in your cause, or, worse, disloyalty to a political party. One side is portrayed as always despicably wrong, while the other side contends it is always virtuous and right. Promotion of your cause must come at the complete denigration of your opponent’s view, or even the destruction of their character. There are no rhetorical boundaries. You say anything in order to win the debate.This is, unfortunately, Washington, D.C., nowadays and the reality of our politics. Nothing illustrates this more than the ongoing debate over the future direction of health care. This debate is emblematic of all that is wrong with our politics.Republicans want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as most call it; Democrats want it retained. Some Democrats have said that repeal of the Affordable Care Act will mean Americans will die. Some Republicans counter that retaining Obamacare is too expensive and will ultimately result in the collapse of our health care system — although they have yet to put forth an alternative plan. By design politicians want us to believe that we either will die or we’ll wind up destitute, depending on which political side of the health care debate we fall on. For the most part, both sides are engaged in rhetorical gamesmanship, where certain words are hyped to catch our attention — or perhaps to scare us — but with the ultimate goal of dividing rather than uniting us.Obamacare is indeed becoming unaffordable, and in many parts of the country options are limited. If trends continue, it is unsustainable in its current form. It is a broken system that needs to be fixed. Democrats must admit to this fact. But on the other hand, Obamacare has provided millions of Americans with health care coverage, and if you wish to replace it then you must provide details of what a new health care system will look like, what it will cost and who is covered. Republicans must admit to this fact.But in modern-day politics acknowledging these facts dilutes the message. So facts often become bothersome details, obstacles to the ultimate goal of winning. There has to be a conqueror and a conquered. It’s political warfare without any possibility of a truce. There are always opportunities for compromise, but both sides look past those possibilities because to do otherwise is a sign of political weakness. In the end, all of this frustrates most Americans. This should worry politicians of both parties. If Americans lose confidence in, and support for, our governmental institutions such as Congress, the presidency, and our court systems, then our political system could be in jeopardy.History has shown that a democracy is constantly vulnerable. As Americans, we think of our democracy as indestructible, even perpetual. But is it? The playwright Sam Shepard is quoted as saying, “Democracy’s a very fragile thing. You have to take care of democracy. As soon as you stop being responsible to it and allow it to turn into scare tactics, it’s no longer democracy, is it? It’s something else. It may be an inch away from totalitarianism.”The question that we must all ask ourselves is where are we headed as a country? But perhaps just as important is the answer to this question: Where are our leaders taking us?Mike Smith is the host of the radio program, “Open Mike with Mike Smith,” on WDEV 550 AM and 96.1, 96.5, 98.3 and 101.9 FM. He is also a political analyst for WCAX-TV and WVMT radio and is a regular contributor to Vermont Business Magazine, The Times Argus and Rutland Herald. He was the secretary of administration and secretary of human services under former Gov. Jim Douglas.last_img read more

A technical glitch with the latest jobs figures…

first_imgI had hoped to bring you news and a view on the latest jobs figures for construction, but a technical glitch (no more detail available from the press officer I quizzed) meant we will have to wait a further month before the data on construction jobs to March are released.So as I had set aside some time to discuss the latest employment figures, what do we think of the broad numbers?I was a bit disappointed to see the BBC reading (rapidly I must say) the data the way it did and suggesting unemployment was on the rise and up 23,000.Because if we look at the data on a rolling three monthly basis the numbers suggest unemployment fell in three months to April compared with the three months to March by 28,000. And on that same basis employment has risen for two months in a row with 41,000 more people employed.What’s more, the figures suggest that the state had already shed 7,000 public sector jobs in the first quarter of this year, so on the face of it the improved picture is down to a bounce back in the private sector.I’m being a bit naughty there because 10,000 went from the “Other (including financial corporations)” column, which includes are state-owned banks.Perhaps I should also point out that the growth in employment is from part-time work and self-employment. The numbers of full-time employees continues to fall.But for those still obsessing over immigration, the employment figures split down by nationality (running up to March) show that foreign nationals are shedding jobs far faster than nationals.If you want to get hot under the collar about foreigners stealing our jobs based on these figures, perhaps you should rail about the growth in workers from the USA. There was a near 50% rise in non-nationals from the USA employed in the UK in the year to March – no doubt a response to the financial market upswing.Still, I suspect there is enough here for Alistair Darling to be arguing: “Look what we achieved with our response to the crisis, we now have rising employment and falling unemployment. You Mr Osborne will be putting that at risk.”Let’s wait and see if he does say that.But there is, lest we forget, the small matter of the public sector budget deficit. And, it is fair to say, that whoever took the reins after the General Election would make cuts which would threaten at least some jobs in the public sector and within firms heavily supported by public funds such as construction.And here I suspect the picture when we see it next month will not really enlighten us that much. Because, while construction employment up to March was probably heading down, the real challenge is yet to come as the axe sinks into the public sector capital budget.Oh there was on construction related revision: 1,000 more redundancies than previous estimated in the first quarter of 2010. But the good news is that there were 3,000 fewer in the months April to June last year.last_img read more

Koga defends title as Fudo blows it again

first_imgMIYAZAKI – Miho Koga benefited from another late meltdown by Yuri Fudo to successfully defend the season-ending Japan LPGA Tour Championship on Sunday, clinching the money rankings title in the process.Koga overturned a five-shot deficit to beat Fudo by two shots here last year and the 26-year-old was unable to conceal her shock as Fudo lost the plot again on the 18th to hand Koga her fourth title of the season. Koga leapfrogged South Korean Lee Ji Hee and Sakura Yokomine to finish top of the money list for the first time after a 4-under-par 68 saw her win the 11th tournament of her career with a 6-under 282 total.Fudo finished a shot back alongside South Korea’s Jeon Mi Jeong, who was also guilty of squandering a great chance to claim the ¥25 million winner’s check.Teeing off three shots off the pace, Koga made four birdies against two bogeys before finishing her round with birdies on the 17th and 18th at Miyazaki Country Club.But she was forced to endure a nervous wait as the drama unfolded with Fudo and Jeon still on the course.Jeon saw her lead cut when she bogeyed after finding the trees on the 17th and then got into trouble in a bunker and double-bogeyed the 18th to blow her chance of the title.Fudo was then left with the routine task of finding the cup from just under four feet for birdie on the last but was left to rue what might have been as the six-time money title winner made a hash of it and three-putted for bogey.“This feels like a miracle,” said Koga, who could not bring herself to watch Fudo on the 18th green. “I feel like there was some other force at work out there. I am so lucky.”“I did my best in the belief that I would be able to turn the deficit around and win but I really didn’t actually think it would happen. I have never felt so excited in my life and this has not sunk in yet,” she added. Oda wins first title GEISEI , Kochi Pref. (Kyodo) Komei Oda earned his first career title and Ryo Ishikawa etched his name in the history books once again by becoming the youngest golfer on the Japanese tour to reach ¥100 million in single-year winnings at the Casio World Open on Sunday.Oda, playing in his sixth season on the tour, shot an even-par 72 in the final round as he coasted to a wire-to-wire victory at 11-under 277 at Kochi Kuroshio Country Club. IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5 RELATED PHOTOScenter_img Miho Koga | KYODO PHOTO GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMESlast_img read more

Local GAA fixtures – Sunday

first_imgINTERMEDIATEClonmel Commercials go up against Borrisokane in the County Intermediate football Quarter Final this afternoon.Tom Maher – CCC Secretary – feels Borrisokane as a dual-club could struggle.Throw in in Boherlahan is at 2pm.Then in the County Intermediate football group 2 playoff Moyne Templetuohy play Moyle Rovers at the changed venue of Cashel at 2pm.++++MINOR FOOTBALLThe county minor A football final line up will be decided this afternoon.The second of the two semi finals is down for decision.Galtee/Golden take on Cahir in New Inn at 12noon.CCC secretary Tom Maher is expecting a tough battleThe winner will meet JK Brackens who beat Inane Rovers in yesterday’s semi final.Inane Rovers led Brackens at the break but were unable to maintain their lead to the full time whistle, the final score in Moneygall, 2-10 to 1-08 for Brackens.+++MINOR HURLING (South)There’s a double header of minor hurling action in Cahir this afternoon, with two South finals down for decision.Up first it’s the B final between Mullinahone and Kilsheelan KilcashThat throws in at 2pmThe A final throws in at 3:30.That pits Moyle Rovers against Skeenarinky-Clonmel Og. Lots of local GAA action today, with Senior, Minor and Intermediate Football matches down for decision alongside two Minor Hurling finals.In the West Tipp Senior football championship Galtee Rovers take on Eire Og Annacarthy in Cappawhite at 11.30.++++last_img read more

Mounting support for Brexit reflected in the odds

first_img Related Articles Share Submit (Image Credit) Share StumbleUponcenter_img Ben Keith, Star Sports: racing must be diverse, fun, and welcoming January 22, 2020 On-course bookies rail against ‘severe’ age-verification penalties January 29, 2020 Countdown to Cheltenham: Star Sports on why they ‘do not bet on an opinion’ March 10, 2020 This week has seen substantial alterations in the odds on a Brexit with the potential for a Leave vote reflected in the odds as they’ve moved from 3/1 to a 6/4 average across bookmakers.Jamie Loughead, Star SportsJamie Loughead an Entertainment and Politics Trader at Star Sports discussed his views on the market’s fluctuation, and why he remains certain that Brexit won’t happen, with SBC News. Here’s what he had to say.I find the polling at this stage utterly incredible. The Leave campaign fought a weak battle up until the end of May where it failed to land any major blows on the Remain campaign – on the economy, sovereignty, or TTIP. In recent weeks Leave has banged the drum of immigration, immigration, immigration and it appears to be working. Whether there really are secret EU plans to look to make Turkey a member state after the referendum is almost irrelevant, the public seem to be responding to it.I remain of the view that while immigration is an important issue to about 30% of the population, I can’t believe that the critical floating voters will side with Nigel Farage in the polling booths. Voters traditionally gravitate towards playing safe, picking the nearest thing to the ‘status quo’ as a referendum approaches so while the polling looks very positive for Brexit, Leave support ought to ebb away before the vote.Are there shy Remain voters who don’t want to admit to pollsters that they’re siding with Cameron and Osborne? I think there could be, we’ve certainly not seen any betting money for Remain in the last week just relentless money from Brexiteers.In recent weeks we’ve also seen a big increase across the industry in the prediction for turnout in the EU Referendum. In April bookmakers expected turnout of about 61%, but now we’re expecting around 68%. This was largely due to a big uptake in late registrations to vote, but which way these latecomers will vote is likely to be crucial. The higher the turnout the less likely Leave are to defeat Remain, another reason I remain convinced that Brexit won’t happen. I personally expect a turnout of around 65% but Leave’s only real hope still lies in sub-60% turnout, which looks very unlikely.So on that basis I continue to offer best price in the industry for Leave (currently 7/4), dodge laying Remain wherever I can and pray the polls are wrong for the second year running.last_img read more

Crafty kids ensure nothing goes to waste

first_imgBy ANEEKA SIMONIS RECYCLABLES make for great art supplies, according to a handful of creative kids who made the most…[To read the rest of this story Subscribe or Login to the Gazette Access Pass] Thanks for reading the Pakenham Berwick Gazette. Subscribe or Login to read the rest of this content with the Gazette Digital Access Pass subscription.last_img