When I was a child I became enamored of coins. I had inherited from my father a few large U.S. one cent copper coins dated from the early 1800s. In those days money was made from copper, silver, and gold. These early coins were beautiful objects. The interesting thing and what is pertinent here is that they were decorated with images of “Liberty”, a female head of various styles, or later, a seated Ms. Liberty. Somewhere on the coin was the word “liberty”. The point being that from 1796 to 1909, there were no presidents on our coins. In 1909 the new copper penny bore the image of Abraham Lincoln which is still with us today. We are now following the examples set by Roman emperors and other despots and rulers who wanted their subjects to know who was in charge. read more…
Those who had lauded the expansion of executive powers when Barack Obama was president perhaps now see the dangers of an imperial presidency with Donald Trump as president. It doesn’t matter if you are Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, because we all know what Lord Acton said about the corrupting influence of power. read more…
I told you so. I am not gloating but I have been quite correct about Donald Trump in my prior articles. I wish it were not true, but he is living up to my early assessment of what his presidency would look like. Also see here and here. His defenders say that he has accomplished a lot. Politifact, a site which keeps track of what politicians say and then do, has given him credit for accomplishing these campaign promises: read more…
Congress, in recognition of the national food crisis, has enacted the Affordable Food Security Act (AFSA), popularly known as “Foodcare”. The leaders of the Senate, the House of Representatives, key Congressional representatives, and the President gathered in the White House yesterday for the President’s ceremonial signing of the Act. With the stroke of 22 pens, he enacted a sweeping law to reform America’s broken food production and distribution system.
Wars are battles of ideas, which is why ideas matter. This concept was brought home in the recently released movie, “Dunkirk” which I strongly urge you to see.
The movie is based on real events, events that threatened the very existence of our modern western civilization and its values.
For those of you who ditched your history classes, let me give you a synopsis. read more…
A California state senator, Hannah-Beth Jackson, a prominent Progressive, has proposed yet another bill in the California Senate, SB 203, to protect our children from fake news. Jackson, a prolific legislator, introduced the bill because she was “concerned about the recent proliferation of fake news during the Presidential election …” She said,
This legislation is about ensuring we have an informed citizenry. The role of the media and technology is only growing. The skills we teach kids today about critical thinking, the role of media in their lives and how best to interact with social media, fake news and technology will help keep them safe and serve them into adulthood.
Fortunately, her bill, along with a more draconian bill (AB 1104) making it a crime to publish “false or deceptive statements on the Internet about a political candidate or ballot measure”, have been sidelined because of objections from pesky advocates of free speech (like the Electronic Frontier Foundation). Political speech is speech and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees us the right to speak freely no matter how wrong we may be. Politicians are fair game and the courts have given us much leeway to criticize them.
A Letter From Santa Barbara
My wife and I attended the Santa Barbara’s Music Academy of the West’s Academy Festival Orchestra’s performance of Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring. We were dazzled. I am not a critic, but I thought they were spectacular. To think that a local, but famed, music organization can gather here in Santa Barbara the best and brightest young musicians from America and the world and hone them into a world-class orchestra in a matter of week is, well, world-class. read more…
Every year the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) comes out with a report card on the condition of America’s infrastructure. We got a D+ this year. According to them, “Deteriorating infrastructure is impeding our ability to compete in the thriving global economy, and improvements are necessary to ensure our country is built for the future.”
They calculate that every family in America will lose $3,400 a year because of infrastructure deficiencies. If the problem isn’t fixed, they say, GDP will lose $4 trillion a year by then (2025) and 2.5 million jobs will be lost. They recommend an additional $1.1 trillion of spending on transportation (roads and bridges) over the next 10 years to correct this problem.
President Donald Trump says that we need to spend $1 trillion to “transform America’s crumbling infrastructure into a golden opportunity for accelerated economic growth and more rapid productivity gains.”
Liberals and conservatives alike get teary-eyed when they hear this. They think that massive spending, especially on roads and bridges, will “put people back to work” and make America more productive.
Here is the reality: America’s infrastructure is not crumbling, massive spending won’t create any permanent jobs, and productivity is not suffering because of our infrastructure. These are economic myths that lobbyists, infrastructure contractors, and the ASCE perpetuate to get fat contracts. read more…
Bankrate.com’s most recent survey on savings reports that only 41% of Americans had enough savings to cover a $500 unplanned expense. Which means 59% didn’t. Before you jump off a cliff, this doesn’t mean they can’t pay their bills—many have access to credit in one form or another. And, it doesn’t necessarily mean these people are poor—but they are spending more than they make and are struggling to maintain their lifestyle.
The issue here is not wealth inequality. There always has been and will be “inequality”. The fact that some people are wealthier than most people is not relevant. If the top 1% are living fabulously well that doesn’t mean they are doing so at the cost of the rest of us. It means they are better at creating wealth and jobs than the rest of us. This is about how bad economic policies are hurting Main Street.
Cottage Hospital and Sansum Clinic, Santa Barbara, California’s two largest health care providers, gave up on their proposed merger because of regulatory delays and a lack of clarity from the Federal Trade Commission, the government agency that protects us from uncompetitive trade practices and monopolies. Cottage is now our only remaining hospital and Sansum is our largest medical clinic. Both are large, state-of-the-art providers.
After almost four years, Cottage and Sansum called off their attempt to create cost savings from a more efficient organization. In a fast-changing health care world, the uncertainty of their status made it difficult for them to plan for the future.
It is likely that the FTC believes that these kinds of vertical mergers in the health care system will give the resulting organization “monopolistic” pricing power because a lack of competition which will lead to higher costs for consumers of health care services.
That may be correct, but it is not what is driving up health care costs and the problems with our health care system.