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

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as published in the Concord Monitor

Arthur Warren Mudge, age 84, died Friday, May 23, at Kendal in Hanover.

Born in Andover, Mass., Arthur attended Choate school, Class of 1947, then Princeton University, Class of 1951.

While preparing for war service in Korea, he met Mary Ann Cadwell, a Minnesota schoolteacher working for Sen. Hubert Humphrey. They married upon his return in 1953.

After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1956, Arthur practiced law in New Hampshire for 10 years, including serving as a clerk for federal appellate Judge Peter Woodbury, and as a partner with Sulloway and Hollis of Concord. Arthur joined the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1966, overseeing economic development assistance programs in Panama, Peru, Bolivia, Guyana, Nicaragua and Sudan, serving as USAID mission director in the last three posts. In 1979 he was invited to serve as a fellow at the Harvard Center for International Affairs. In 1984, he resumed his law practice in Hanover and served as an international consultant in Africa, Latin America and the former Soviet Union. In his retirement, Arthur provided pro bono legal work and served on boards of educational and environmental organizations. In his spare time, Arthur hiked mountain ranges all over the world (Andes, Appalachians, Himalayas and Mount Kilimanjaro) and was a dedicated bird watcher.

Arthur is survived by his wife, Mary Cadwell Mudge of Kendal; his sister Nancy Mudge Sycamore and Hubert Sycamore of Hebron; and his daughters and son-in-laws: Becca Mudge of Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.; Susanna Mudge and Raul Sanguinetti of Bethesda, Md.; Sarah Mudge and Clarke Havener of Arnold, Md.; and Katy Mudge and Arturo Valenzuela of Washington, D.C. Arthur was adored by his five grand children: Noah, Mariah, Ari, Ethan and Adelina, as well as his step-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, and will be greatly missed.

Two memorial services will be held. The first will be in the Gathering Room at Kendal, 80 Lyme Road, Hanover, at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. A second service is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 4, time and place to be determined.

Memorial donations may be made to: New Hampshire Audubon, 84 Silk Farm Road, Concord, N.H. 03301; the Circle of Hope Scholarship Fund at Camp Onaway, P.O. Box 4064, Albany, N.Y. 12204.

Published in The Concord Monitor from June 1 to June 2, 2014

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May 14, 2014

Josiah Bartlett Center President Charlie Arlinghaus today thanked Governor Hassan for following his advice and taking the first small step in starting to admit to and deal with the state’s fiscal crisis. Since April 16, Arlinghaus has warned of the crisis and called on the governor to issue an executive order curtailing spending.

Arlinghaus said, “As I’ve been suggesting for the last month, the governor has finally taken the first small step to deal with the looming fiscal mess. When I said ‘The governor can under state law (and should immediately) start cutting back on the state’s budget,’ (New Hampshire Union Leader 4/30/14) I hoped for both the routine hiring freeze every governor does and the additional spending reductions most governors make. Today’s actions are the first small step to respond to the problem but she should also make real spending cuts by executive order as recent governors have done. In the last two decades, itemized spending reductions have accompanied freezes nine times. Nonetheless, I want to thank her for listening.”


April 30, 2014 (New Hampshire Union Leader, “The State’s Fiscal Crisis Can’t Be Ignored”): Arlinghaus: “The governor can under state law (and should immediately) start cutting back on the state’s budget.” And also: “Start cutting spending now as the first fiscal year winds down and before managers are inclined to ‘spend it so they don’t lose it.’ A crisis isn’t coming, it’s already here. The time for acting isn’t soon it’s now.”

May 14, 2014 (New Hampshire Union Leader, “A Budget Crisis in Need of Leadership.”) Arlinghaus; “The one thing that is clear is that there is in fact a gathering budget storm. Under our laws, when the governor determines that revenues will be insufficient to maintain a balanced budget, she is empowered to make reductions in expenditures. Every governor in recent has done this by executive order – in most cases multiple times. The problem is there and has been there for more than a month. No solution is going to be budget neutral. With six weeks left in the fiscal year, time is running out to make reductions in the current fiscal year. With the legislature set to go home June 5 the time to get them to act on changes that need legislative approval is now. Leadership requires action.”

Executive Orders: Orders are posted on the Secretary of State’s website. Hiring freezes were accompanied by itemized spending reductions in 1996, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, Three times in 2008, and in 2010.

Watch the video below from CSPAN of Charlie on Washington Journal discussing the NH Primary and taking questions from callers across the country.

Senator Rand Paul sat down with Charlie Arlinghaus as part of the Josiah Bartlett Center’s “Substance Over Soundbites” Series to discuss Ron Paul’s Presidential campaign, how to deal with Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon, monetary policy, and reducing the size of the federal government.

Paul says it’s not enough for the next President to be a Republican

Paul argues that eliminating federal departments is necessary in order to reduce federal spending.

Paul on the need to tackle entitlement spending and reform Medicare

Paul says we need more capitalism in health care

Paul explains how he thinks Ron Paul is different from the other Republican Presidential candidates.

Paul says there are better ways to contain Iran and prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons than bombing

Paul argues that the United State can draw down its troops deployed around the world

Paul discusses the debt ceiling, a balanced budget amendment, and term limits

Paul talks about monetary policy and reforming the Federal Reserve

Paul concludes by arguing that Ron Paul can be effective as President, and Charlie asks him if he would run for President in four or eight years.


President Bush Salutes Gov. Sununu