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November 2008

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November 25, 2008

When the Constitution was written, March 4 was specified as the date when a President and a Vice President would be inaugurated. That made sense given the modes of transportation available in the 18th Century and the general pace of life then. An amendment which took effect in 1937 advanced that to Jan. 20 in belated recognition of the acceleration provided by railroad travel. It's time to take another look in view of the fact it is possible now to travel to any part of the county well within a day and communication is instantaneous. Given the economic crisis in which we find ourselves, the interregnum is far too long. The Electoral College should meet in the several states in November and the new administration should take office in early December. With all the comparisons being made with the Great Depression, that should be clearly obvious. Just as President Roosevelt was called upon to deal with a disaster so too is President-elect Obama. Much to his credit, President Bush has chosen not to emulate President Hoover and to provide for a transition as nearly seamless as can be possible. Unlike Roosevelt, Obama has accepted the initiative while responsibly espousing the 'one President' reality. Still, there is the inevitable uncertainty which cannot avoid proving harmful during the two months remaining before the transition is complete. It would be awkward, to say the least, for Vice President Dick Chaney to step aside so Bush could appoint Obama as his replacement and then resign. Nevertheless, such a course would serve the nation well until the constitutional process can be used to avoid there being a similar situation in future years.

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November 20, 2008

We'll probably have to turn in our 'Native Delawarean' badge after this. But, in light of the dire financial straits in which the governments of both the state and New Castle County find themselves, it needs saying. It's time we at least think about withdrawing from the quintet of states which boast the absence of a sales tax. That's right -- the sacred sacrosanct ban on sales tax should be placed on the table. Even Delaforum is not so crass as to suggest going cold turkey. On a recent visit to New England, we stopped to have lunch in Portsmouth, N.H. When the check arrived, it had an entry on the line labeled 'tax'. When we asked why our taxless sister would do such a thing, we were informed that it wasn't a 'sales' tax but a 'hospitality' tax. New Hampshire is still without a sales tax, our hostess proclaimed while dusting off her 'Native Hampshireite' badge. Pass by any Delaware eatery on a Friday or Saturday evening and you'll find the parking lot full. We N.D.s and later arrivals love to eat out. Our own 'hospitality' tax wouldn't be a cure-all, but it would make a significant dent in the problem. But, we're told, it will kill the restaurant business. We’ll bet that, once the novelty wore off, no one would even notice. Remember the similar tales of woe while Governor Minner pushed through her smoking ban? The sky didn't fall then and the parking lots are still full. Why not give it a try -- if needs be with a 'sunset' provision to guarantee a second look -- when the General Assembly returns in January? Like the real estate transfer tax, revenue generated by a state levy can and should be shared with the counties and municipalities. (For the record, the other taxless states are Alaska, Montana and Oregon. We don't know if any of them resort to taxing hospitality.)

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November 12, 2008

A week after the historic demonstration that American democracy can be what we've always said it was, it's still hard to find a news article that doesn't make it a point to remind us that Barack Obama will be our "first African-American president." He'll actually be our first bi-racial president. We've had two vice presidents who were part American Indian, but no bi-racial chief executive that we know of. But that's not the point. Enough already with racial references not germane to the subject under discussion. Mr. Obama has long since transcended race as a defining characteristic -- either a plus or a minus. Hopefully his example will now extend to society as a whole, both black and white. While we're not naive enough to think that it will end racism in this nation, there's a good possibility the next four or eight years will go a long way toward reducing it to more rational proportions.

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