Guest Commentary

Guest Commentary (48)

Government regulates business for public good

Government regulation impedes the free market economy and stifles the growth of business, both small and large. At least that is what business would have you believe. When I think of government regulation, I can't help but remember my days serving on the New Jersey Grand Jury and listening to case after case of illegal dumping by "business" into our rivers and lakes and the Environmental Protection Agency regulations that were violated for the sake of profits. Rather than as a nuisance that serves only to impede the growth of business, having spent my entire career with the federal government, I recognize the need for government to regulate the excesses and abuses of capitalism to protect the public good.


Comptroller advocates competition

Comptroller Peter Franchot spoke to a half-filled room with the Civic Federation on Nov. 9 at the County Council Building. Speaking of his role on the Maryland Board of Public Works, which he said has approved 18,000 contracts accounting for $85 billion in state spending since he rose to the position from being a delegate from Takoma Park, Franchot emphasized his independence from partisan politics as comptroller.


Franchot portrayed the Board of Public Works as a “court of last resort” against “machine politics,” citing his ability to stand up to the Democratic Party in Baltimore County as a champion of Dundalk Citizen groups regarding a development proposal that he voted against.


The comptroller continued to paint himself as the champion of taxpayers and consumers in the face of stifling government overreach. Consumers of education, he said, will support his proposed one-year standardized testing moratorium that prevents “teachers from doing what they’re good at; teaching,” and adding that many subjects have no application in life, recalling that he “took algebra, trigonometry, and calculus and [has] not used [those subjects] since [he took the courses in school].” He emphasized his plan to require financial literacy instruction for all Maryland students, depicting such instruction as a “civil right for how to acquire wealth.” And his plan to push the school start date beyond Labor Day will not only generate additional tourism-related tax revenues, but is a plan that vacationing families support across the state that is only opposed by “about forty people” in the teacher’s union and Board of Directors.


Montgomery County, he said, could benefit from the establishment of a similar model to the state’s BPW, which could be composed of the County Executive, an individual elected by the Montgomery County Council, and an “elected taxpayer watchdog” to mirror the BPW’s three votes: Governor, Treasurer elected by the Maryland General Assembly, and himself, the Comptroller of Maryland. A local BPW could exercise oversight of the Department of Liquor Control’s competition, which currently does not yet exist but which he proposed would benefit consumers throughout Montgomery County. According to Franchot, 75 percent of Montgomery County citizens do not support the DLC’s liquor distribution monopoly and routinely buy their liquor across state lines, where vodka is sometimes 42 percent less expensive than Montgomery County.


His proposal to introduce competition to the liquor business in Montgomery County comes at a time when the County Council and County Delegation have both introduced similar proposals that differ in degree and which Franchot characterized as insufficient, “piecemeal reform.” Franchot argued that his proposal to allow private enterprise to compete with the DLC will result in consumers voting with their feet and their pocketbooks and predicted that if his proposal were to become law, the DLC would see decreased business due to competition. Legislation will be introduced by request of the Comptroller in the 2016 Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly in January.


ATF, time to do your job on guns!

It is estimated that approximately 40 percent of gun sales in the United States are not subject to background checks.  Most point to gun shows and the Internet as the loopholes in the existing background check law thus necessitating the need for additional legislation from Congress to close this universal loophole.  Although it may be true that the 40 percent figure is a result of gun show and Internet sales, the real loophole, call it a glaring pothole, is the result of the vagueness in the language defining "engaging in the business of selling guns".  It is this lack of specificity regarding what constitutes "engaging in the business of selling guns" that has made it so difficult for ATF to enforce existing background checks requirements for gun sales at both gun shows and via the Internet.


Rain Tax Part II

Residents of Montgomery County pay multiple taxes justified in the name of the Chesapeake Bay, including a “bag” tax, a flash tax and water quality charge. Well-intentioned residents who genuinely would like to preserve the bay would be hard-pressed, however, to explain how all that money has made a difference.


The price of Global Warming and us

Everything does, indeed, have a price and climate change is no exception. The question is: Who is going to pay for it? In Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen's recently proposed bill on combating climate change, The Healthy Climate and Family Security Act of 2015, the answer is: Those who are the primary contributors to carbon emissions in our air, namely the fossil fuel industry! Based on the polluter pay principle, it will be the coal, oil and natural gas companies who will bear the cost of reducing carbon pollution and the damage it does to our environment.


Presidential debate finesse rules

Maybe it took experiencing the first two Republican presidential candidates debates to be able to gain an appreciation for what transpired on the debate stage when the Democratic presidential candidates held their first debate on CNN on October 13th in Nevada. Gone was the immature sniping among the candidates replaced by a discussion of relevant issues, positions and experience.


Gun ownership should require liability insurance

It is common sense that ownership of an item brings with it a degree of responsibility to use the item both thoughtfully and safely. I can't imagine too many disagreeing with that general premise although I am sure there are some. The requirement to carry mandatory liability insurance by those who own automobiles is an example of state government acknowledging that ownership brings with it that level of responsibility.

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