Saturday, July 30, 2011

Meredith Warren goes on NECN to talk about the debt ceiling debate

Meredith Warren took to the airwaves earlier today to discuss the ongoing debate over raising the nation's debt ceiling. Her interview with NECN's Scot Yount aired on the station's nightly news broadcasts.

During her interview, Warren said, in part, "Hundreds of thousands of voters sent Tea Party candidates and conservative Republicans to serve in Congress with a mandate to stop spending so much and stop having so much debt. And so now this is what's happening. There's pressure from those voters saying, this is what we sent you to Washington for, now do it."

You can see the full video here or by clicking on the link below (external link to

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Van Magness talks about debt ceiling on NECN's Morning Show

Fred Van Magness appeared on NECN's Morning Show this morning to discuss ongoing negotiations to raise the nation's debt ceiling and what it all means politically.

Please click here or on the image below to view the full video (external link to

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sizing up the national debt

Most of the political news these days is centered around talk of the national debt and raising the debt ceiling.

But, rarely is there much talk about exactly how big a problem this is given the enormous size of our national debt.

According to the U.S. Treasury, the official size of the Total Public Debt Outstanding as of July 11, 2011 was $14,342,977,065,892.73.

That obviously looks like a big number, but just how much money is that?

  • Using current gas prices, you could buy enough gas to drive a Toyota Prius to the planet Saturn and back 124,000 times – if there were a highway there. (And you'd still have enough money left over for snacks, tolls and souvenirs.)
  • Using 2010 attendance figures and average ticket prices, you could buy every ticket to every major league baseball game (all 30 MLB clubs), plus a hot dog, bottled water, peanuts and cracker jack at each game, for about the next 5,000 seasons.
  • If Mark Zuckerberg were to thank President Obama for using Facebook as a campaign medium by offering to pay off the national debt, he'd have to charge each of Facebook's reported 750 million users about $19,000 apiece for the privilege of having a page. (But, don't expect them to 'like' it.)
  • The state budget recently signed into law here in Massachusetts is worth $30.6 billion. If we had the national debt as a funding source, we could run Massachusetts tax-free until the year 2479 or so.
  • According to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, the equalized valuation of all taxable property in Massachusetts is about $1.024 trillion. So, basically, you could use the national debt to buy Massachusetts and you'd still have a cool $13 trillion or so left over to start buying up other states.

You can find more staggering figures in this recent article from the Daily Mail.

American needs to get immediate control over its burgeoning national debt, with all sides participating in solving the problem long-term.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Why Beacon Hill is broken

We never thought we'd say it, but...

If you want to know why Beacon Hill is broken, read the Boston Globe today. Reporter Noah Bierman has a great story about the closed-door process that routinely keeps information from public view.

Legislators’ vital work veiled from public’s eye

We could go on and on about this, but suffice it to say the article basically speaks for itself and says it all.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

A culture of violence

(A true story from earlier today. - Fred Van Magness)

It was early, very early this morning.

I was about halfway done with my morning walk when I saw her. A nice older lady, out watering her lawn and enjoying her morning cup of coffee.

"Good morning," we both said at almost the same time.

"Nice day today," I offered.

"Yeah, gonna be a hot one," she answered politely. Bad day for the lawn.

"Yeah, really," I said.

And thus, like most such encounters, this one appeared to be over. I continued on my walk, never breaking stride. She turned her gaze back to the grass, as if to silently reflect on the blazing heat that lay in store for the lawn.

Then, something unexpected happened.

"Hey," I heard her call out suddenly, looking up excitedly and gesturing toward me. "What do you think of that murder?"

In a moment of bleary-eyed naivety, all I could come up with to say was, "Which one?"

I guess it actually wasn't that naive. She could have been referring to the brutal murder of an 18-year-old girl in Wayland, or one of the four murders in Boston over the July Fourth holiday weekend. (And, that's not even counting the 15 shootings in Boston over that period, or the recent shooting of a four-year-old boy, etc.)

The news is full of murders. But, of course, these weren't the crimes on her mind.

"That one in Florida," she said, turning my attention back to the obvious, the trial of Casey Anthony that resulted in a 'not guilty' verdict yesterday. "Unbelievable," she said, shaking her head in disbelief. "I can't stop thinking about it! Those people [the jurors, I understood her to say], they must be crazy. Who do they think killed that kid? I can't believe it."

And so it went on for a few more minutes, both of us volleying back and forth about how amazing it was that a two-year-old child could die under suspicious circumstances and that no one would be brought to justice.

The sad part is, this sort of thing is happening all across America these days, and it is actually becoming less surprising each day.

An entire generation is under siege. Young people across the country are dying in acts of violence, many of them perpetrated by other young people, and it only seems to get worse.

America needs to get its act together and stop the violence. It's a problem that starts in each household across America, the places where young people must be taught by family that it is unacceptable to tolerate, much less perpetuate, the culture of violence that awaits them when they leave their house each day. It's also a problem that must be addressed by government. Our criminal justice system needs better resources and more oversight to get its job done. And, our elected officials need to get tougher on crime and the criminals that commit violent acts. It's a burden shared equally by all of us, no matter what our party, our background or our station in life.

We might never know what really happened in the case surrounding Casey Anthony and her daughter. We have our own opinions, but that is a question of legal intrigue likely to be bantered about by experts on television for weeks and months to come. But what we do know is this: a two year old girl named Caylee Anthony isn't here to see it. She is a victim. And, she is unlikely to be the last victim of such a crime unless we act as a society to call for an end to the senseless violence.