EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 14, 2013

Editorial roundup: What others are saying

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Here’s a look at editorials from other papers across New England:

Pay it forward

The concept of paying it forward, performing random acts of kindness for the simple sake of doing so, has been with us for some time. But the idea of seeking out 25 opportunities to make the lives of others just a little bit better is one worth pursuing in 2013.

Provincetown resident Ellen Rousseau decided to take the 25 days leading up to the Christmas that have been co-opted by the American advertising machines and devoted herself to performing 25 acts of kindness for those around her. She said her Buddhist beliefs helped inform her decision to do so.

Buddhism is just one of many faiths that espouse the concept of making connections to the world through actions. Most of the world’s religions and beliefs advocate making a difference in the lives of others. Even secularists have adopted the so-called golden rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.

It is a strikingly simple concept — so simple that perhaps it becomes easy to forget. Fortunately, it is also easy to remember, although sometimes more difficult to manifest in our daily lives. We seem to encounter so much negativity on a daily basis. Television, the Internet and newspapers are filled with stories about the less savory aspects of mankind. We learn about death and destruction as part of the 24-hour news cycle, sometimes hearing the same bad news repeatedly through different formats until we reach a point of emotional saturation.

This is perhaps the most dangerous aspect of the steady litany of sad news; we become inured to it and we no longer experience the same degree of pathos or empathy that is so crucial to being a part of the world in which we live.

Rousseau’s suggested approach may not stop the bad news from dominating the news, but it could provide a desperately needed bulwark against the seemingly endless onslaught.

— The Cape Cod Times of Hyannis (Mass.)

Deeper in debt

Early reports put the price tag for the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 at a collective $10 billion in added debt. That’s on top of the estimated $50,000 per head debt each one of us is already carrying as the result of government overspending. And because Congress chose not to renew the Social Security tax holiday, even many low-paid workers are seeing their paychecks lightened.

According to The Associated Press, households making between $40,000 and $50,000 will face an average tax increase of $579 in 2013. Households making between $50,000 and $75,000 will face an average tax increase of $822. This analysis, from the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan Washington research group, projects 77 percent of American households will face higher federal taxes in 2013.

But wait; it gets even better — or worse, depending on your perspective.

The compromise bill passed by Congress does not scuttle the sequestration of $1 trillion in spending cuts, scheduled to be shared between domestic and military spending. It only delays the cuts by two months, hoping the new — but still divided Congress — can do better. In addition, any decision on raising the debt ceiling has been put off to another day.

None of what is written here is to deny Congress needed to do something with the Bush era tax cuts expiring and the pending financial damage hanging in the balance. But, at first reading, we have to wonder if more damage has not been done over the long term for a short-term fix.

— Foster’s Daily Democrat of Dover (N.H.)