The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy announces the creation of a new event series, Civil Discourses, to promote public discussion of civics, policy and the humanities. The series will launch on Thursday, April 19 — the anniversary of the start of the Revolutionary War — with a lecture by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon S. Wood at the American Independence Museum’s historic Folsom Tavern.

“The social, cultural and technological trends of the moment are drawing us away from our founding promise of a nation shaped by civil discourse and toward tribal clustering, which breeds hostility, distrust and incivility,” Andrew Cline, president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, said. “As an institution dedicated to the free and open exchange of ideas, the Josiah Bartlett Center is creating our Civil Discourses event series to counter these corrosive trends and create new opportunities for Granite Staters to encounter, discuss and debate ideas.”

To launch its Civil Discourses event series, the center will hold a luncheon with historian Gordon S. Wood at Exeter’s Folsom Tavern at noon on Thursday, April 19. Dr. Wood, winner of the Pulitzer and Bancroft Prizes, will discuss his new book, “Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.”

“We could not imagine a better inaugural event for our Civil Discourses series than a talk about a deep and affectionate friendship between two of America’s most bitter political enemies, held at an authentic Revolutionary War tavern on the anniversary of the opening shots of the American Revolution,” Cline said.

Gordon S. Wood is professor of history emeritus at Brown University and a best-selling author of numerous award-winning books on the American founding. He won the Bancroft Prize for his first book, “Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787,” and the Pulitzer Prize for “The Radicalism of the American Revolution.” In 2011, President Obama awarded him the National Humanities Medal.

The event costs $25 per person and includes a catered lunch and a tour of the historic tavern by docents of the American Independence Museum. Copies of “Friends Divided” and other books by the author will be available for purchase and signing, with a portion of the proceeds going to support the Josiah Bartlett Center.

For reservations, go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/friends-divided-john-adams-and-thomas-jefferson-with-pulitzer-prize-winning-historian-gordon-s-wood-tickets-44713325761

Bartlett Brief

The Best Bet on FirstNet

Opting in is less risky for New Hampshire
December 19, 2017

 

On December 7, Gov. Chris Sununu announced his intention to have New Hampshire opt out of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet).  In theory, opting out of FirstNet would give the state greater control over its first responder radio network, a factor the governor mentioned in his announcement.  Unfortunately, because of the way FirstNet is legally structured, opting out creates numerous financial and operational risks for the state.  Given the risks that would be incurred by opting out — and only by opting out —  New Hampshire’s best choice is to opt in.  This remains a possibility because the Executive Council has to approve the final contract.

Formed by Congress to fulfill the final recommendation of the 9/11 Commission report, FirstNet’s mission is to create a nationwide broadband network so first responders will have a reliable and secure communications system from coast to coast.  An independent authority in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), FirstNet has contracted with AT&T to build its nationwide broadband network.  States that opt in will have their networks built by AT&T and funded by FirstNet and AT&T.  States that opt out will be legally responsible for building their own networks that meet FirstNet’s coverage requirements and are interoperable with the national network.

There is no financial risk to New Hampshire of going with FirstNet.  The FirstNet Opt-Out Review Committee’s report to the governor provides a good overview of the risks New Hampshire would shoulder should it opt out.  There are 5 points at which the state’s opt-out plan can trigger penalties or other financial risks.

  1. The state could fail the Federal Communications Commission’s review of the state’s Radio Access Network (RAN) interoperability.  The risk of failing this first review is considered small, and FirstNet can require AT&T to build a state’s network if it fails this first test.
  2. The state could fail the NTIA review that follows the FCC review.  At this stage, states apply to lease the spectrum from FirstNet and can apply for a grant.  As the FirstNet Opt-Out Review Committee noted, “unlike at the FCC level, there is no language in the Act providing for FirstNet to build out the network in the State if the State’s alternative plan fails to pass the NTIA review for funding and achieving a spectrum lease.”
  3. After NTIA approval, the state would have to enter into a spectrum manager lease agreement (SMLA) with FirstNet.  The state would lease the spectrum from FirstNet.  A state that opts out would be financially responsible for making those lease payments.
  4. The SMLA contains targets that a state would have to meet for first responder adoption and participation.  If those targets are not met, a state would be obligated to make “disincentive payments” to FirstNet.
  5. If the state terminates the contract or FirstNet terminates it for cause at any time during the 25-year term of the SMLA, the state would be obligated to pay FirstNet the full cost of building the state’s RAN.  FirstNet’s CEO testified that the bill would cover the actual cost of building out the state’s network, which could total more than $600 million in the worst case scenario.

New Hampshire has chosen Rivada Networks to build the state’s RAN should the opt out become final.  Rivada is a new company that has never built a RAN.  It would have to build an entire network from scratch.  Where it does not build its own towers, it would lease space on another network’s towers.

Rivada proposes to finance its RAN construction and operation through dynamic spectrum arbitrage.  It intends to borrow the money to build the network, then sell the network’s surplus bandwidth on the wholesale market.  It would simultaneously be paying for the bandwidth while trying to sell it.

Rivada says this poses zero risk to New Hampshire because the demand for this bandwidth is so high and because the entire project will be bonded.  In theory, even if the company goes under or otherwise fails to meet its contract obligations, the bonds will protect New Hampshire by ensuring that the costs are covered.

For good reason, the state’s FirstNet Opt-Out Review Committee did not appear convinced that Rivada’s proposed measures for mitigating the risk to New Hampshire were satisfactory.  In addition to the confidential risk mitigation measures recommended by the state’s outside bond counsel, the committee recommended 13 additional conditions for any contract with Rivada.

Rivada’s proposal presents very real risks for New Hampshire.  If this untested business model fails, New Hampshire could be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars.  Beyond the financial risk, there are public safety concerns.  If Rivada is slow to complete its network or if the network fails, first responders will be left without a reliable, secure means of communicating.

By contrast, AT&T already has a network in New Hampshire that includes more than 300 towers.  It is reasonable to expect that it will be able to complete its network more quickly.  AT&T also operates on a proven business model that suggests it is less of a failure risk over the 25-year term of the SMLA.  Under the FirstNet contract with AT&T, the financial risks are borne by AT&T.  If AT&T fails to meet the terms of its contract, the company, not the state, would be fined.  By contrast, if New Hampshire opts out, the taxpayers are ultimately responsible for the costs if, for whatever reason (another recession, weak demand for bandwidth in rural New Hampshire, etc.) Rivada and its bond holders cannot cover them.

At the end of the FirstNet Opt-Out Review Committee’s public report (the bulk of its report was confidential), it concluded: “Pursuit of an alternative plan presents legal and financial risks to the State of New Hampshire.”  The seriousness of those risks cannot be precisely determined without access to information that remains confidential under the state’s Right to Know law.  But it is safe to say that the state takes on those potentially substantial risks only if it opts out of FirstNet.  For that reason, opting in is New Hampshire’s safest option.

CONCORD — U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan should explain why they voted against ending the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes, which aids high-tax states at the expense of New Hampshire, Andrew Cline, interim president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, said.

“Through the state and local tax deduction, Granite Staters subsidize the high tax bills imposed by neighboring Vermont and Maine as well as other big-spending states,” Cline said.

“The deduction also reduces the incentive for business owners, investors, middle-class families, and others to move to a low-tax state. New Hampshire has benefitted from a steady influx of tax refugees from Massachusetts. Our booming economy has generated a 2.7 percent unemployment rate, which means we have a strong demand for more labor. Why would senators who represent New Hampshire want to continue a system in which Granite Staters essentially pay to make life more comfortable for our high-tax neighbors? Granite State taxpayers deserve an explanation.”

Sens. Shaheen and Hassan voted Thursday against an amendment to allow the federal government to reduce the state and local tax deduction. The vote is here.

The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, is New Hampshire’s free-market think tank.

Save The Date!

2017 Libertas Dinner

featuring

Stephen F. Hayes

Editor, The Weekly Standard
Contributor, FOX News

 December 4, 2017

Reception 5:30 p.m.
Dinner 7:00 p.m.

Grappone Center
70 Constitution Avenue
Concord, New Hampshire

 

Mark your calendars for Dec. 4 and join us for the Josiah Bartlett Center’s annual celebration of free markets and free people.

We are excited to have Stephen F. Hayes, editor of The Weekly Standard, join us as our keynote speaker this year.

Hayes has distinguished himself as one of the most respected political reporters and commentators in Washington.  Come enjoy a great dinner and get an insightful update on U.S. politics.

The Libertas Dinner has been called New Hampshire’s best networking event of the year.  Save the date to be sure you don’t miss it!

 

Sponsorship Levels

Benefactor ~ $10,000
Patron ~ $5,000
Sponsor ~ $2,500
Table ~ $1,000
Individual Ticket ~ $100

More details coming soon!

The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy’s Andrew Cline took to the pages of the Concord Monitor on Labor Day to rebut U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ anti-capitalist populism.

http://www.concordmonitor.com/Bernie-Sanders-Labor-Day-fantasies-12233000

Bernie Sanders’ Labor Day fantasies

By Andrew Cline

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, America’s most popular advocate of socialism, is in New Hampshire today to blame free-market capitalism for the economic struggles of America’s lower and middle classes. Unfortunately for Bernie, most of us will be too busy enjoying capitalism’s bounties to listen. 

As Sanders mumble-shouts his blame-the-rich populism, tourists from around the world will be packing up and heading home, having dropped millions of dollars at New Hampshire restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and other businesses. It wasn’t the victory of international socialism that brought them from Boston to New Boston, Berlin to Berlin. It was free-market capitalism. 

On Labor Day weekend, as many as half of the guests at some New Hampshire inns are international travelers. Mostly they drive down from Canada or fly in from Europe. It is doubtful that many Venezuelans sailed Lake Winnipesaukee or climbed Mount Monadnock, though. Venezuela’s poverty rate hit 82 percent this year, compared to 48 percent when Socialist Hugo Chavez came to power in 1998.

Nor will many Cubans be found at at Castro’s Back Room, the excellent New Hampshire cigar shops named after the man who turned Cuba from a popular resort destination into an island prison. If you’re a Bernie fan, you should consider Cuba doubly blessed. It’s got a socialist government and no international trade with the United States to take away Cuban jobs. 

Yet Cuba’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person is just $6,445. Nearby Puerto Rico’s per capita GDP is $25,967. Cuba’s per capita GDP is just slightly higher than where Puerto Rico’s was in 1970. Clearly, capitalism and trade stink.

Socialist sympathizers often blame Cuba’s economic woes on the U.S. embargo. If only Cuba could trade, its economy would thrive. Trade does help economies grow. But Sanders isn’t a fan.

In his 2014 Labor Day speech in Manchester, Sanders noted U.S. factory losses since 2000 and got a standing ovation when he denounced international trade, yelling, “I have never voted for one of these trade agreements, and I was right!”

Except, he was wrong. “Most US manufacturing jobs lost to technology, not trade,” the Financial Times reported in December. A report by Boston Consulting Group noted, “a human welder today earns around $25 per hour, including benefits, the equivalent operating cost per hour for a robot is around $8.”

In the first quarter of this year, U.S. manufacturing output was 80 percent higher than it was three decades ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. One reason that U.S. factories produce more with fewer people is that unions drove the price of labor prohibitively high. 

Sanders in that same speech railed said the United States would bring back good jobs by raising taxes on the wealthy and financing massive jobs programs. Wrong again.

A 2008 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development study titled “tax and economic growth” concluded that “lowering statutory corporate tax rates can lead to particularly large productivity gains in firms that are dynamic and profitable, i.e. those that can make the largest contribution to GDP growth.”

Regarding personal income taxes, it concluded that “a reduction in the top marginal tax rate is found to raise productivity in industries with potentially high rates of enterprise creation.”

In other words, lowering corporate and personal income tax rates can stimulate the capital investment needed for both job creation and economic growth.

If labor were the driver of economic growth, Americans would be migrating to India, which has 1 billion more people than the United States. But Indians are migrating here. Why?

In 2011, the average income in India was $1,500 U.S. dollars (or $4,800 if adjusted for purchasing power). The average U.S. income was $50,000. India has a lot more labor, but a lot less capital, so its labor is less productive. To generate the most robust levels of productivity and growth, market capitalism is essential.

As Harvard professor of political economy Benjamin Friedman put it, “ever since the Industrial Revolution, de-centralized market economies have had a proven record of delivering rising living standards over sustained periods of time.” 

It has become a New Hampshire ritual for Bernie Sanders to cap Labor Day weekend with a resounding denunciation of the economic system that lifted humanity out of abject poverty, transformed subsistence farmers into industrial laborers and gave their employers large enough surpluses to finance the material comforts they eventually demanded. 

It must be a lot of fun for Bernie. Just remember that he has the leisure time to harangue us with socialist fantasies only because of the prosperity generated by free-market capitalism. 

Andrew Cline, is interim president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank in Concord.

 

 

 

CONCORD — The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, New Hampshire’s free-market think tank, today named former New Hampshire Union Leader Editorial Page Editor Andrew Cline the Center’s Interim President.

Cline, a writer and communications consultant, will take on the role previously held by long-time President Charlie Arlinghaus, who left earlier this year to become Commissioner of the NH Department of Administrative Services.

James Sununu, Chairman of the Bartlett Center’s Board of Directors, said “We are thrilled that Drew has agreed to take the Josiah Bartlett Center’s helm and help us continue the work of New Hampshire’s premier free-market institution. As a small but critically important part of the New Hampshire public policy landscape, the Center was looking for someone with deep policy knowledge, communication expertise, and proven leadership abilities. Fortunately, we did not have to look far.”

Before coming to the Union Leader in 2001, Cline served as Director of Publications for the John Locke Foundation, North Carolina’s free-market think tank. As Interim President of the Josiah Bartlett Center, Cline will focus on organizing the center’s upcoming events, improving fund-raising, and setting the organization’s policy and communications goals for the coming year.

In addition to his work as a journalist and communicator, Cline brings to the position valuable experience as a community volunteer and non-profit leader. A former Cub Scout leader, he currently serves as Chairman of the State Board of Education and Chairman of the Board of the Educational Farm at Joppa Hill in Bedford.

CONTACT: James Sununu, 603-658-0602

Charlie Arlinghaus

June 17, 2015

As originally published in the New Hampshire Union Leader

As public policy, politics, and elections slowly degenerate into a circus aimed at playing a game, calling names, and merely attacking another person, let me offer you Steve Forbes as an example for today of what the political world ought to be about and too often isn’t. Though Forbes ran for office himself, he was and continues to be an antidote to the superficiality gradually infecting the body politic and instead works not to achieve power but to “encourage and full and reasoned discussion of the issues.”

My organization, the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, is honoring Steve Forbes tonight with our Libertas Award. The award was named after the Roman goddess of liberty. Jefferson used the word when he wrote to Madison and said he preferred the “tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.”

A constant theme in our Libertas Awards is that ideas matter more than personalities. We intended to establish a theme when we underscored the first award to Gov. John Sununu as “an example of the kind of public service that focuses not on winning the right office but on achieving the right policy.”

Steve Forbes personifies this ideal better than almost any national figure of our time. He talks about ideas, insists that criticisms be based on policy not personality, and is one of the foremost defenders of the system we might call capitalism or free market economics.

He ran for office but in a way that seems strange today. His advertising and speeches were not about life stories, log cabins, or personal achievements. Instead, he launched a blitzkrieg of ideas that caught all the typical politicians flat footed. In their feeble minds, elections were meant to be about larger than life personalities not the battle for ideas.

But for Forbes, politics was not a synonym for elections but a battle of ideas. It is his example not the example of the superficial egotist that we should follow today. The great economist Friedrich Hayek, whose portrait watches over my every work day, encouraged us to “make the philosophic foundations of a free society once more a living intellectual issue, and its implementation a task which challenges the ingenuity and imagination of our liveliest minds.”

Hayek’s phrase, written fifty years ago, might as well have been written about Steve Forbes directly. This is a man who responded to the late fiscal crisis (narcissistically called the Great Recession by people with no sense of history) by issuing a spirited, articulate, and readable book called How Capitalism Will Save Us: Why Free People and Free Markets Are the Best Answer in Today’s Economy. That short phrase could well be a summary for my organization, its philosophy, and our mission. It is certainly a call to all of us to remember first principles.

As world leaders and professional pontificators on the right and left were busily equivocating and feeling ashamed of market support, Forbes issued a full-throated defense of the sort to make Adam Smith proud.

His commitment has always been to ideas and the strength of policy not personal aggrandizement. It was years after his runs for president that he wrote The Flat Tax, the insightful and very accessible study written “to get beyond the sound bites, the political agendas that so often color day-to-day reporting and, instead, encourage a full and reasoned discussion of the issues.” That phrase again is a guide for all of us and explains why Steve Forbes might be considered the patron saint of the power of ideas.

When politics is about the person and the office, the power and the fame, it is inevitable that battles become personal, politics becomes vapid and violent. It is no longer imperative to win a debate, it becomes necessary to destroy a person because the personal is all that matters.

But the Steve Forbes vision is very different. Moving beyond sound bites and attack phrases — the gotcha politics of today — he envisions “a full and reasoned discussion of the issues.” Today’s blown-dry politician has an insipid book ghost written for him before he runs for office. Forbes has written five books on ideas since he ran for office, the most recent on monetary policy.

Forbes’s belief in the power of ideas should remind all of us not just to read his books as spectators but to join his fight for the foundations of a free society.

Assumptions significantly overstate revenue
Josh Elliott-Traficante, Josiah Bartlett Center policy analyst covering transportation policy, commented on the Capital Corridor study released today. Elliott-Traficante described the study’s revenue estimates as rosy and out of line with the experience of every other commuter rail system in the country:“The study paints a rosy picture but its revenue assumptions are significantly overstated. No other train in the country has achieved that level of revenue no matter how close to the central city its route.”

Elliott-Traficante added, “The study guesses that this train would manage to recover 64% of operating costs and lose only $3 million per year. That rosy estimate would make it the best performing line in the country. For example, the supposedly very successful Downeaster manages to recover only 53% of operating costs, the MBTA Commuter Rail system as a whole covers 49%, and MetroNorth which serves Connecticut from NYC covers 58.5%.”

“It’s hard not to see these unrealistic assumptions as an effort to pretend the costs to the taxpayer are much smaller than a realistic estimate would show”

Charlie Arlinghaus

December 18, 2014

As originally published in the New Hampshire Union Leader

You’re reading the wrong books. Actually, maybe you’re okay but your friends or your kids need some help. Have no fear, I break from policy today to offer you some Advent reading advice in the final eight days before Christmas.

To begin with, I will presume that too many people who actually stop at this page and read this column are at least a trifle obsessed with politics and that whole bizarre universe. Please stop. Give no books by an “author” who has a radio talk show or is an elected official. Instead read history and economics with a healthy dose of a fiction mixed in.

I have greatly enjoyed Anne Applebaum’s Iron Curtain about the slow crushing of Eastern Europe after the war. It is an intimate, balanced, and remarkable explanation of how a society can be systematically transformed in the traumatic aftermath of the war and then slowly crushed. The minutiae and psychology of how that transformation is possible is fascinating.

Some of the best economics is historical, makes no assumptions about our own knowledge of jargon, and doesn’t use language designed to exclude us. Almost every year, I give at least one person Niall Ferguson’s brilliant The Ascent of Money. Ferguson is an engaging writer and has presented the book as a six part television series. There are wonderful explanation of the historical origins and development of major economic concepts like money, insurance, stock, bonds, banking, and home ownership. A brilliant book that is eminently readable ought to be the starting point for anyone seeking to understand the financial world at all.

At the end of the day, I think we all read too much non-fiction. There is some bias that tells us the thicker and more boring a book is, the more noble and valuable it must be. Hogwash. This sort of drivel makes both books and people more boring.

Good fiction includes books that tell a truth more clearly and compellingly than any non-fiction ever could. But good fiction can also be escapist, entertaining, or mind clearing. Read for enjoyment and you will enjoy reading.

The best writer of English prose of the 20th Century is P.G. Wodehouse. If you disagree you have simply never read him. His are the most amusing and charming books ever written and find their perfection with the stories about Jeeves and Bertie Wooster. The best introduction is Carry On, Jeeves, the stories that introduce Jeeves to Bertie and us to the characters and their world. Start there and you’ll never stop.

Wodehouse’s writing is brilliant in the best way. You don’t sit back and admire it. Rather, it takes you in and envelops you without you noticing. Stephen Fry, a famous admirer, said “you just bask in its warmth and splendor.” Indeed you do and reading Wodehouse is an act in and of itself that makes life worth living. Read it and you will experience the healing power of the best fiction.

I have fourteen more suggestions but lacking in space we must move on to children. If there are children for whom you might buy a present, you wrong them if you don’t get them books. Reading can be cultivated at an early age and nothing is more valuable. To read is to explore the world we could never see, we meet people on a page we might never encounter in person, and gain experiences beyond our normal capacity.

Please branch out from movie and TV characters. Let their imaginations run rampant rather than skim movie plots. Start with Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner. Set and written in pre-war Germany, Emil is a 12 year old who has all his money stolen on the train and works to get it back with the help of a dozen new friends.

Substitute pigs and farms for Germany and kids and you have Walter Brooks’ Freddy the Detective about a porcine Sherlock Holmes. This too dates from the 1920s. Freddy learned to be a detective from reading Sherlock Holmes, as one might expect from a pig in upstate New York.

I reread both of these in the last two years and found them as pleasant now as I did when I was eleven. The same holds true, by the way, for Wind in the Willows or The Phantom Tollbooth. Classics don’t diminish as one ages.

I need to stop writing and you need to go buy some books.

Invite 6

For sponsorship opportunities, contact Charlie Arlinghaus at arlinghaus@jbartlett.org

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Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy

7 South State St.

PO Box 897

Concord, NH 03302

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