That’s government for you

WHAT’S THE MOST dysfunctional, disheartening and downright disreputable place on the face of the Earth? Mogadishu? Baghdad? Albany? Nah. Must be Washington, DC. 

Seems like there isn’t anything the federal government gets right. Just take Cash for Clunkers, which, okay, did make money for car dealers, who employ folks around here, and gave some workers their manufacturing jobs back and made a tiny but important contribution to reducing air pollution and global warming. But look at how the government screwed up. 

Just like the auto industry, Washington failed to read the collective public mind, didn’t anticipate how eager consumers were to buy new, more efficient cars. So now the program’s bogged down in paperwork meant to prevent unscrupulous dealers from ripping off taxpayers who are paying to bail out, um, taxpayers who are actually spending their money on private businesses and increasing economic activity, which might just get the country out of this recession. There has to be something wrong with that, doesn’t there?

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Does town need a new hall?

NOBODY VOTES IN SUMMER, do they? Okay, maybe in Afghanistan; but Hillsdale? And yet, there’s a special townwide election to consider a proposition next Friday, August 28. The ballot question asks voters whether the town should buy the Roe Jan Library building in the hamlet and make it the new town hall. 

The town has the $245,000 to buy the building and has squirreled away enough tax money so that it also has the additional $205,000 officials estimate it will cost to remodel and upgrade the vintage 1925 structure. The property is already tax exempt, so it would have no effect on the tax rolls.

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Tea Party? Not here

ANYBODY LOOKING FOR A DRAMATIC confrontation last Saturday at the Golden Harvest farm store on Route 9 in Kinderhook went away disappointed. It was mostly talk and very little shouting, and probably didn’t change anybody’s mind, either. 

If Saturday is any indication, that’s the way the debate over healthcare reform is shaping up. There are two sides separated not by a middle ground or even uncertainty. The gulf is filled instead by rancor, mistrust, propaganda and ignorance. 

The occasion was Congressman Scott Murphy’s meet-and-greet with constituents of his 20th District, in sessions now called Congress on Your Corner. For his predecessor, Kirsten Gillibrand, audiences for these events were largely local residents. So it was a little unusual to find people at Saturday’s event who came from Albany suburbs, from Dutchess County and a few from outside the district. But they have a right to talk to a congressman just like every other citizen.

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Tea Party? Not here

ANYBODY LOOKING FOR A DRAMATIC confrontation last Saturday at the Golden Harvest farm store on Route 9 in Kinderhook went away disappointed. It was mostly talk and very little shouting, and probably didn’t change anybody’s mind, either. 

If Saturday is any indication, that’s the way the debate over healthcare reform is shaping up. There are two sides separated not by a middle ground or even uncertainty. The gulf is filled instead by rancor, mistrust, propaganda and ignorance. 

The occasion was Congressman Scott Murphy’s meet-and-greet with constituents of his 20th District, in sessions now called Congress on Your Corner. For his predecessor, Kirsten Gillibrand, audiences for these events were largely local residents. So it was a little unusual to find people at Saturday’s event who came from Albany suburbs, from Dutchess County and a few from outside the district. But they have a right to talk to a congressman just like every other citizen.

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Storms pack a message

LIKE POLITICS, ALL WEATHER is local. It’s what happens here that matters. This year that has become more evident than ever with grumble so often heard: Look at all this cool weather and rain—so much for predictions of global warming.

Experts warn that science can’t yet attribute individual weather events to the effects of a warming planet, even though the Earth’s climate is changing at a rate without precedent in recorded human history. Not even the sudden five inches of rain that submerged parts of northern Columbia County last week qualifies as proof positive.

But scientists do say that such events are consistent with the theories of how warming will change our lives, and that reminds us that government and individuals need to make some plans, if only because the transition to a warmer planet looks like a bumpy and expensive ride.

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