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Short takes

THE Spectator, a weekly British magazine, reviewed 2012 and found it the best year. It turns out the world has less hunger, less disease and more prosperity than ever before.  

Not only has the spread of communicable diseases been placed in check but "the death toll inflicted by war and natural disasters is also mercifully low," the magazine reported.

The world may be in a golden age.

"Take global poverty," the magazine opined. "In 1990, the UN announced Millennium Development Goals, the first of which was to halve the number of people in extreme poverty by 2015.

"It emerged this year that the target was met in 2008. Yet the achievement did not merit an official announcement, presumably because it was not achieved by any government scheme but by the pace of global capitalism.

"Buying cheap plastic toys made in China really

is helping to make poverty history. And global

inequality? This, too, is lower now than any point in modern times.

"Globalization means the world's not just getting richer, but fairer too."

We live in great times — but not necessarily because of governments.

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RAISING taxes is no way to balance a budget. Higher taxes simply mean the government will spend more and that those taxes will drive people and businesses away.  

David Trabert and Todd Davidson of the Kansas Policy Institute in Wichita reviewed spending and population trends in the 41 states that have an income tax and the nine that do not.

"States with an income tax spent 42 percent more per resident in 2011 than the nine states without an income tax," they wrote in a column in the Wall Street Journal.

This extra spending did not improve the gross

domestic product of the states.

"States without an income tax have significantly better growth in private sector GDP (59 percent

versus 42 percent) over the last 10 years," the pair wrote. "They increased the number of jobs by 4.9 percent while jobs in the rest of the states declined by 2.6 percent."

West Virginia should consider whether it wants to remain among those 41 loser states.

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EDISON Mission Energy of Santa Ana, Calif., filed a reorganization plan in bankruptcy

court this week to settle $3.7 billion in debt with creditors and its parent company, Edison International.  

Edison Mission owns, operates or leases more than 40 electricity generating plants across the nation, including a 50 percent share of a waste coal plant in Grant Town and 100 percent of the Pinnacle wind farm in Keyser.

The problem is low natural gas prices.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the alternative energy and coal industries are having a tough time competing with the natural gas industry, whose supplies are suddenly so large that prices have dropped from nearly $11 per thousand cubic feet in the spring of 2008 to around $2 today.

While consumers are enjoying low prices now, an increase in demand and eventual restrictions on fracking could drive that price back up to $11.

Investors are told not to put all their eggs in one basket. So it goes with national energy policies.

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ONE of the most respected justices in the state, Thomas McHugh, will hang it up this year — 15 years after he retired in 1997.

McHugh, first elected in 1980 was re-elected in 1992. He retired in 1997. But when Justice Joe

Albright fell ill with esophageal cancer in 2008, McHugh came out of retirement to finish the term.

Justice Margaret Workman, who served with him in both his stints on the Supreme Court, was among those who spoke at a ceremony honoring him last month.

"I guess we will continue to function, but I can tell you this: We will not function at the level we functioned with him here," she said.

McHugh set a high standard. When he came out of retirement, he refused to double-dip and stopped collecting his pension — unlike some other judges in the state who used a loophole to collect both the pension and the judicial salary.

The bar he set should be the one all abide by.


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