Saturday, November 30, 2013

* Like Henry David Thoreau; Refuse to pay a wicked tax.

If the Town of  Hartford uses  tax dollars to discriminate against people based on age, it would be appropriate to withhold payment of taxes in the same spirit as did Henry David Thoreau 160 years ago.


Ageism is the operative dynamic in the Hartford health care proposal precisely because, the MORE YOU AGE (number of years on the job) the closer you get to being segregated from the pool of  LESS AGED ON THE JOB  employees  and placed in a "separate but equal" health care plan which requires onerous paperwork and digital work which the LESS AGED ON THE JOB pool never encounters.

It is de facto  separate but equal segregation based on AGING ON THE JOB.

The most economical cure?  Give everyone the Vermont Health Initiative.  


It has nothing to do with age; these people don't work for us anymore. 

We cannot mandate it for everyone because we are not able to buy on the Exchange yet because we have over 50 employees. When we can, we probably will, because everyone will be on the exchange by 2017. Right now we really don't have any options, sadly.

F. X. Flinn
Board of Selectmen
Town of Hartford, Vermont |

Please note that any response or reply to this electronic message may be subject to disclosure as a public record under the Vermont Public Records Act.
On Sat, Nov 30, 2013 at 10:45 PM, Paul Keane ;wrote:

The ageism element needs to be removed from the equation. 

If your proposal for the 13 employees redounds to their benefit as you say, then MANDATE IT FOR ALL EMPLOYEES.  I would have no objection to that type of fairness (and according to your logic it would save the Town even more money). 

The Town  can then set Computer-Assistance Groups to try to help everyone with obstacles in  navigating the defective website.



On Sat, Nov 30, 2013 at 10:34 PM, Paul Keane  wrote:

The  actual age cut-off is irrelevant. 

It is the discrimination based on age that bothers me.

So according to you, retirees who have NOT reached the age of 65 are being offered a separate but equal plan. to the plan offered all other Town employees 

They must do the extra digital work themselves on a website which the Governor himself says does not work

and the security of which Vermont admits was compromised as of Nov. 26th

Since these retired employees are probably between 55-65 they may not have had the advantages younger employees have had to become computer savvy and we are saying to them: '


It's not our problem that you haven't had the same opportunities as younger employees. 

Fend for yourself.  This was the  1950's argument used against affirmative action. 

Separate but equal?  

It's the same sham that education was before integration:

 Separate but UNEQUAL.

If my tax dollars are used to create a segregationist system of  health care among town employees, I would consider their use unethical.

Henry David Thoreau had a good remedy for the unethical expenditure of government:: refuse to pay the taxes. 

Maybe taxpayers should set up an escrow account to put their taxes  in until this ageist discrimination is annulled.

Paul D. Keane

On Sat, Nov 30, 2013 at 10:10 PM, F. X. Flinn ;wrote:

The premium assistance account is being set up for Hartford retirees who are younger than age 65. Everyone who is 65 or older is on Medicare, not on a town plan. Making this change saves the town at least around 25K and potentially more, and doesn't change their access to health care. It may, in fact, improve it. Moreover, it frees the 13 individuals involved to select a plan that may be better suited to their needs and permits them to pay their portion of a premium for a policy their spouse may have. So it isn't what you are saying at all.


F. X. Flinn
Board of Selectmen
Town of Hartford, Vermont | 

Please note that any response or reply to this electronic message may be subject to disclosure as a public record under the Vermont Public Records Act.

On Sat, Nov 30, 2013 at 7:34 PM, Paul Keane; wrote:
I am sure there are taxpayers in Hartford, including myself, who would engage in the civil disobedience of withholding their taxes if they felt those  were being used for unethical purposes, just as Henry David Thoreau withheld his taxes  150 years ago in Concord, Mass.

On Sat, Nov 30, 2013 at 6:53 PM, Paul Keane wrote:
Select Board
Town of Hartford
171 Bridge Street
White River Junction, 
Vermont 05001

Dear Select Board

I am uncomfortable with the news that my tax dollars are going to be used to make retired employees of the Town of Hartford accept a health care program  separate but equal to the program of those retirees and employees under 65 years of age.

The arbitrary cut-off point based on age (64 years, 11months, and 30 or 31 days) amounts to de facto ageism.: 

 If you are on the 31st day or below side of that border, the Town will handle all your paperwork ( or digital work) for you. 

 If you are on the 3lst day plus one hour side of that demarcation, you are thrown overboard and will have to fend for yourself.  The town will reimburse you, but you must do all the work of deciding which options and policies to choose




 In addition,  the website has admitted a breach of security as of November 26.

Finally , the fact that an employee is  65 or over may mean that s/he has not had the same opportunities as younger people to become computer savvy. 

Too bad.  

You're on your own. 

 It's not our fault you haven't had the same opportunities as others. 

 Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

This, by the way, is the same argument that was used to keep minorities in their place for decades.  It was reversed by Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954 which said that government funds cannot be used to perpetuate systems which offer  people separate but equal services (education in that case; health care in this case). 

Government funds must be used to offer people equal services, not separate but equal services.  (Oh, I suppose you can get away with it because the tax dollars you are spending are local rather than federal tax dollars.  Yes, you can get away with it legally, but not ethically.)

As someone who is well over 65-years-old,  I am uncomfortable with the idea that the Select Board is proposing to use my tax dollars to create a separate but equal health care service for its employees based on  age, a service which requires the employees over 65 to do many times more paper and digital work than employees under 65 years of age,  to be able to use the health care insurance service they earned as a retirement benefit.

I think you might want to think this over before you proceed.  Even if it is not outright discrimination based on age  (and i suspect it is) it is a lousy way to treat people---especially with my money.

Give everyone the same opportunity------------either way: Full insurance or Vermont Health Exchange.

I doubt the Hartford Select Board  intentionally set out to create this form of age segregation, and I hope now that it has been brought to your attention you will move swiftly to nullify it.


Paul D. Keane
M.A., M.Div., M.Ed.

Friday, November 29, 2013

* Invulnerable

Never attacked, Salzburg Castle was so formidable a fortress that it has stood undefended for 1000 years.
Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger
and President Ronald Reagan
adopted the Salzburg strategy of invulnerability
by engaging in an unparalleled military build-up
which eventually exhausted the Soviet Union's attempts to keep pace with the United States' burgeoning military might.
Now vulnerable  . . .

* Ritualizing Violence

No Comment.

After watching the four-hour replay of the JFK funeral yesterday on CSPAN (50 years after the event) I am amazed at how even Mrs. Kennedy requested that the Irish Honor Guard perform its firearm choreography at the funeral, ten yards from her family and herself, so recently traumatized by a rifle's bullets.

In the intervening fifty years, individuals wielding firearms have taken from our midst not only her brother-in-law, Sen. Robert Kennedy,but also  Martin Luther King, Jr., the Kent  State Four, and the Virginia Tech students, and the Sandy Hook babes, among others.

Are we hopelessly addicted to the glamour of ritualized violence?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

* Gone : 1963- 2013

2 Samuel 1:25
How the mighty have fallen . . .

I have just watched the entire JFK funeral (all four hours of it) for the second time in 50 years, presented on CSPAN as a public service. 

The first time I was 18 years old and I felt like my heart had been ripped out.  Now i am about to turn 69, and I watched the entire four hours without a twinge, just a certain sadness at how death wipes people off the face of the earth, even the mighty, with an indifferent hand.

* ( Battling your Brain ): The Battle of Alzheimerberg

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

* CBS (Chest Baring Showmanship): Desperate much?

Charlie Rose dressed in his silly
CBS This Week Fountain-of-youth reincarnation

Walter Cronkite, dressed for work

Margaret Brennan,
dressed for who knows what.

* " better than Louis XIV." John D. Ogden

( Click for background music to this post.)
Louis XIV


Gratitude (Giving Thanks)

I had a doctor’s appointment in Windsor, Vermont this morning and drove the 20 miles listening to Bach's Oboe and Violin Concerto on public radio (click the video here) As I pulled into the parking lot the Bach ended its 13.50 minutes.  

I realized that I had just listened to musical beauty which at one time a few hundred years ago, was reserved for aristocracy and kings, now available free to anyone with a radio.

In the early 1940’s the conductor Leopold Stokowski, speaking about musical performances on radio, predicted that there would be a time when the average citizen was surrounded 24 hours a day by music of his/her choice.

That was before iPods and cell phones;  even before CD’s and walkmen.

Stokowlski the prophet.

A professor  of mine, John D. Ogden, who had a PhD from Yale in Romantic Literature, once said in exasperation when I was spouting off about poverty in America,  that " the average American lives better than Louis the XIV.”

I had to ask him “How?”

Central heat
Washing machines / Dryers
Permanent press clothing
Clean water
Health care
Lice control
Bedbug control
Personal hygiene
·        Soap
·        Deodorant
·        Mouthwash

* Happy Cooking !

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

* A Graver Error on Evil


                          Link to Mr. Graver's YDN article         
·                          _______________________________        
·                                 t 
"no community of any sort immune from the resolute, ever-marching ubiquity of evil."
In an otherwise articulate article by Mr. Graver, this phrase seems uncomfortably irresponsible, close to a vision of evil as a force with boundaries and a self-hood, an organizing principle, which moves through history as a knowable construct.
It is out of superstition that the vague belief in trans-epochal forces has been transformed into a specific personification of evil by biblical passages , literature and art.. That personification (e.g. satan, mephistopheles, lucifer) then takes on a shape which manipulates the vulnerable in destructive ways, a self perpetuating cycle of superstition.
Caution, Mr. Graver, caution:
Evil may be ubiquitous, but it does not march, is not everlasting or resolute, and has no organizing principle.
It is random.
Entirely random.
Paul D. Keane
M. Div. '80
M.A, M.Ed.

Monday, November 25, 2013

* Yale in Lockdown



Message sent to Yale Community, November 25 - 10:17 a.m.
New Haven Police have received an anonymous call from a phone booth in the 300 block of Columbus Avenue (between Howard Avenue and Hallock Street) reporting a person on the Yale campus with a gun. There have been NO confirmations or sightings of this person. Yale and New Haven Police are in the area. If you have information, please call 911 immediately.  The Yale Police Department advises those on campus to remain in their current location until there is additional information.


     LINK to YDN article:

The one thing I learned at Kent State in 1970 is that people act on incomplete information; and that the presence of people carrying guns (officially) and rumors of others carrying guns (unofficially), is no guarantee of safety.
Coolheadedness is at a premium in such a situation.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

* " Somewhere big and real". Duh.

Apparently Frank Bruni sees no irony in  ending his defense of the Common Core in  today's NY Times with a quote from David Coleman one of the Common Core's founders, which makes Mr. Coleman sound like a dolt
"  . . .somewhere big and real..."
This reminds me of a speech I heard Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (whose primary qualification for the job seems to have been his basketball chumminess with the President) deliver excoriating the low achievement of present day American students and extolling the virtues of the Common Core as a panacea for curing that achievement deficiency.  Throughout the speech Mr. Duncan used the word "infer" when he clearly meant "imply."

This is a distinction I was able to learn in tenth grade. (LINK)
"David Coleman, one of the principal architects of the Common Core, told me that he’s all for self-esteem, but that rigorous standards 'redefine self-esteem as something achieved through hard work.'
'Students will not enjoy every step of it,' he added. But if it takes them somewhere big and real, they’ll discover a satisfaction that redeems the sweat."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

* The Gun Century

* Contrition Ritual? Apologizing to Davis Nguyen , a Junior at Yale, for an Unnecessary War which was based on Lies

50th Anniversary of Gulf of Tonkin

Letter to the Editor
The Yale Daily News

Dear  Editor:

August 10, 2014 will be the fiftieth anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara clearly states was based on incorrect information, a euphemism for lies.  

That resolution became the 'justification' for the Vietnam War and 58,272 American deaths to say nothing of uncounted Vietnamese deaths.

Yale, a great anti-war bastion during the 1960's and 70's under the leadership of Chaplain William Sloane Coffin, now has an opportunity to join in recognizing the error of that slaughter.

In a recent Yale Daily News article [below] by a Yale Junior and Vietnamese-American, Davis Nguyen, honoring his late aunt,  I felt a spontaneous need to apologize on the YDN posting board for that unnecessary war.  I had never encountered an actual Vietnamese person before and the apology just erupted out of me.

I suspect that there are many like me at Yale who have never met a Vietnamese person, and who might feel a need to apologize ---or express regret --- similar to mine.

I would suggest that the 50th anniverary of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution might provide a formal occasion for such a ceremony of sorrow and regret.

Perhaps Vietnamese students on campus could help Yale organize it-------------- or maybe that would be asking too much.


Paul D. Keane, M. Div. '80

 a day ago
This is a beautiful tribute and now a family heirloom. You are following in your aunt's footsteps with these heartfelt words.
At 42, your aunt was born at the height of our own Viet Nam anti-war struggle in 1971. Adam Gopnik, the brilliant phrase maker and thinker, had the courage to call that war what it really was in an article in last week's New Yorker. about JFK.
Happy Thanksgiving and my condolences to you and your family not only for the loss of your aunt but for what we did to her native land and people.
I bow my head in shame.
Paul Keane
"The truth, that the fate of Vietnam, of crucial importance to the Vietnamese, was of little consequence to America, or to its struggle with the Soviet Union, was simply a taboo statement on every side [during the 1960's]."
(p. 107)
Adam Gopnik
The New Yorker,

Davis Nguyen  
Thank you Mr. Keane for taking the time to read my tribute and for your kind words.
I will make sure to add Closer Than That to my Thanksgiving reading list.

It was my honor, Davis.
And it provided me with the opportunity to do something I have never done before: Apologize to someone of Vietnamese origin for a war that was totally unnecessary and --as former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, admitted when he was 88 years old ------ " a lie.."
I am ashamed of myself and my country .

Davis Nguyen  
Thank you Paul. As my aunt would say you can't change the past, but you can choose what you do in the present.
I am glad you had the opportunity to get it off your chest Paul. It wasn't your fault.

I should have apologized for my country also, but I am not sure they are sorry or even aware---or care to be aware.

    It was my fault that I remained silent on the issue so long.