Category Archives: Blog

DISPATCH FROM THE CORONA HIBERNATION

BillO’Reilly.com – The Second American Civil War

Well, the second American Civil War is now underway.  It began when a Minneapolis police officer brutally killed George Floyd.  So far the radicals have taken the offensive, creating a scenario that the United States is a racist country that must be dismantled and replaced by a new woke power structure.

The traditional forces, understanding that reform should be implemented, nevertheless despise the radicals for their psychic and physical violence.  Traditionalists don’t want to “defund” the police and watch criminals run wild.  They don’t want statue destruction, corporate boycotting, and everything else the radical left is trying to impose.

Rodney’s Weekly Wrap – July 2, 2020

The U.S. Economy Regained 4.8 Million Jobs in June…The unemployment rate dropped from 13.3% to 11.1%.

What It Means – Bill Cosby claimed his grandmother had the best answer to the question of whether the glass is half full or half empty.  She explained that it depended on whether you were pouring or drinking.  It’s all about context.  Gaining almost five million jobs is fabulous, including the two million in leisure and hospitality.  But now we’re shutting down parts of the economy again, so how many of those jobs will remain?

Anderson Economic Group Estimates Damage From First Week or Vandalism and Looting at $40 Million…Protesting and vandalizing or looting aren’t the same thing.  Protestors can shot down businesses by blocking access on roads or sidewalks, but they don’t break glass, spray graffiti, or steal stuff.  Those activities are criminal.  The Anderson Economic Group estimates that looting and vandalism between May 29 and June 3 in the 20 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. cost about $400 million, including property damage, lost inventory, cleanup, reconstruction, and closure-related lost wages.  This was for just one week, and the estimate was certainly on the conservative side, because the group only included verifiable instances of unlawful activity.  The group assigned no cost to lawful protests.

Union Bank – Protect Yourself or Someone You Love

We are all vulnerable to financial exploitation, and seniors especially so.  Always stay on alert for common scams like offers that are too good to be true—usually money you supposedly won—or a “technician” calling out of the blue to fix a non-existent problem on your computer.

Whether you are enjoying your golden years, know an older adult or are caring for a loved one, a few preventive measures can make a big difference.

6 tips to stay protected:

  • Shred receipts, bank statements, and unused credit cards before throwing them away
  • Lock up your checkbook account statements and sensitive information when you have visitors
  • Never provide your Social Security Number, accountant numbers, or other financial information over the phone unless you initiated the call and the other party is trusted
  • Assign a trustworthy person to act as your agent in real estate matters
  • Check references and credentials before hiring anyone to help with chores in and out of your home

Warning signs to watch out for:

  • Sudden changes in bank accounts or banking practices, including unexplained withdrawals
  • Abrupt changes in a will or other financial documents
  • Unexplained disappearance of valuable possessions

If you suspect someone is being exploited

  • Talk to their friends and/or loved ones to find out what is happening
  • Report the exploitation to the Adult Protective Services in your area
  • Call 911 or your local police if you think they are in immediate danger

The Economy May Not Survive Lockdown 2.0

  • The government’s crisis stimulus is expiring this month. Can the economy survive without it?
  • The Fed is committing to lubricating the economy for now, but people and businesses are wary about borrowing money.
  • John Ross shows you what will happen next.

“Dear World,

“Tens of millions of Americans are set to lose $600 per week of income after July 31.

“That’s when the unemployment benefits supplement expires.

“And the timing couldn’t be worse.

“Unemployment benefits were boosted in March.  The federal government wanted to help bridge the temporary economic black hole caused by the pandemic lockdown.

“And $270 billion of stimulus checks were written to ensure Americans could weather the storm.

“One estimate says this added $3 of extra income for every $1 that was lost to the economic lockdown.

“That’s crazy.  And it was welcomed by many.

“But that money is almost gone, and it threatens the economic recovery investors have banked on.

“This breakdown of American incomes from January through May shows the looming problem:

“Americans’ incomes jumped by 10.4% in April due to stimulus checks and unemployment benefits.

“But income dropped 4.2% in May.  That’s even with many of those benefits still in effect.

“That’s a dismal indicator for the months ahead.

“Those stimulus checks have been cashed and spent.  And when the supplement expires at the end of this month, unemployment benefits won’t make up for lost wages.”

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HAPPY HALF YEAR

It’s great to have a New Year’s celebration on January 1st each year, but it seems to me to be appropriate that (in this troubled year) we give some notice to the halfway point and start over.

So to start a new tradition of acknowledging the halfway point each year, I am presenting a few thoughts to spread the cheer.

HHH…HAPPY HALF YEAR

  1. My husband and I divorced over religious differences. He thought he was God and I didn’t.
  2. I don’t suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.
  3. Long ago when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks it was called witchcraft. Today it’s called golf.
  4. According to Parkinson’s Law, companies with a multitude of employees can provide enough work for themselves.
  5. Higdon’s Law – Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.
  6. An optimist believes we live in the best of all worlds; a pessimist fear this is true.
  7. A woman might as well propose. Her husband will always claim she did.

Thoughts on exercising after 50:

It is well documented that for every mile you jog, you add one minute to your life.  This enables you at the age of 85 to spend an additional five months in a nursing home at $5,000 per month.

My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was 60.  She’s now 97 and we don’t know where the heck she is.

I have flabby thighs but fortunately my stomach covers them.

The advantage of exercising every day is that you die healthier.

The only reasons I would take up jogging is that I would hear heavy breathing again.

I joined a health club last year, spent 400 bucks, and haven’t lost a pound.  Apparently you have to show up.

  1. An older gentleman was on the operating table awaiting surgery and he insisted that his son, a renowned surgeon, perform the operation. As he was about to get the anesthesia he asked to speak to his son.  “Yes, Dad, what is it?”  “Don’t be nervous, son; do your best and just remember, if it doesn’t go well, if something happens to me, your mother is going to come and live with you and your wife…”
  2. Restaurant menu entry: “T-Bone: $.59.” “With meat, $17.95.”
  3. Charlie Chaplin once entered a Charles Chaplin look-alike contest in Monte Carlo. He placed third.
  4. 71% of waterbed owners say they’re more fun than ordinary beds; 68% say more sensual; 57% “everything is better.” The main benefit (sleep) was never mentioned.
  5. If you arrive at work one hour earlier every day for one year, you’ll add a month of extra work.
  6. Good phrase to remember to combat emotional upset: “It’s not Nuclear War.”
  7. Counteroffers to employees to get them to stay usually don’t work. Most execs who accept leave within 18 months.
  8. Success of new products introduced by top companies like 3M, Microsoft, Proctor and Gamble, is less than 25%.

Psychiatric Hotline:

Hello, Welcome to the Psychiatric Hotline.

If you are obsessive-compulsive, please press 1 repeatedly.

If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2.

If you have multiple personalities, please press 3,4,5 and 6.

If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a little voice will tell you which number to press.

If you are manic-depressive, it doesn’t matter which number you press.  No one will answer.

If you are paranoid, we know who you are and what you want.  Just stay on the line so we can trace the call.

Wisdom in songs:

  • Don’t let the sound of your own wheels make you crazy…Eagles
  • Nothing left to lose..Janis Joplin

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SCHOOL CHOICE – A PATH TO A BETTER EDUCATION

According to U.S. News & World Report, “National tests show little to no gains in math or reading for US students.”  The state of American education is in complete disarray.

You might think I’m talking about the fallout from the coronavirus crisis—schools canceled, parents being forced to teach and work at the same time, confusion everywhere.  But it’s not just that.  I’m writing to you about something that goes much deeper than that.

Whether you are single or married, whether you are a parent or a grandparent, you and every American have a giant stake in how well our nation educates the next generation of our citizens.

If you accept that premise, then I urge you to read my letter, because it details the serious decline in American educational achievement—and what that decline portends for our nation.

But, importantly, the educational disruption caused by COVID-19 also offers a remarkable opportunity.  It lays bare both the problems of the present and new ways of doing things.  It also describes the exciting movement to expand school choice opportunities for American families, a movement that is already bringing about positive reform in education.

The biggest threat confronting school choice for our children is the constant, aggressive legal attacks launched against popular school choice programs by defenders of the failed educational status quo.  And even before the global pandemic forced schools to remote, teachers’ unions were walking off the job, leaving our children to fend for themselves.

The express purpose of these lawsuits and walkouts is to deny children the chance to access an education that meets their individual learning needs.  What millions of parents are seeing, right now, in their own homes, is how many schools are failing to meet those needs.

As support for school choice grows from the public and lawmakers—both Democrat and Republican alike—the pushback from unions and special interest groups is the same: lawsuits and intimidation, their only weapons for slowing the expansion of school choice.

We must fight off these opponents to school choice—and ensure that our nation’s students have the freedom they need to flourish?

As I am sure you know, every year, hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars—federal, state and local—are poured into America’s public-school systems.  The best estimate we have is a staggering $621 billion!  That works out to an average of more than $12,000 per student.

Yet despite this enormous investment, we see consistent underperformance on standardized tests and other performance metrics.

For example, in April 2016 the results of the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress for high schoolers were released.

  1. Scores on the 2015 reading test for high school seniors showed a five-point drop since 1992 (the earliest year with comparable scores).
  2. High school math scores remain unchanged during the past decade.
  3. While 82% of high school seniors graduated on time, the report suggests that only 37% of them are academically prepared for college coursework in reading and math.

Troubling statistics like these are nothing new.

One recent survey of 15-year-old students in 34 countries showed that Americans ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in mathematics.

And 25 of the nations surveyed also had higher graduation rates than the United States.  We are falling behind the rest of the world.

Money is certainly not the problem.

Because even as the measurable “outputs” of American public education consistently decline, the per-student cost burdens of American public education consistently increase, putting enormous financial strain on already stretched state and local finances.

Why are the costs of a declining public education system continuing to increase?

One reason can be found here: the U.S. Department of Education has reported that since 1950 the number of K-12public school students in the United States increased by 96%.

At the same time, the number of public-school teachers increased by 252%…

And the number of “full-time equivalent” public school employees (meaning administrators and other employees who are not classroom teachers) literally exploded…increasing by a whopping 386%.

In fact, the underlying problem with American K-12 education today is our antiquated system of harnessing the funding of education to the administration of education in our public-school system.  Fold an unanticipated nationwide shutdown into the mix, and the organizational inefficiency and curricular failures just become that much more obvious.

Now that I’ve gotten the bad news out of the way, I want you to know that we are optimistic that our work to advance educational choice is counteracting administrative waste—and achieving real and significant opportunities for students.

Contrary to the frequently hysterical assertions of defenders of the educational status quo, the founders of EdChoice strongly supported America’s historical commitment to using public funds (taxes) to support education.

But EdChoice parted company with the current system of public education when it came to the public administration of schools.

Instead of requiring that tax dollars, and students, follow a single path to public schools, EdChoice believed that the funds earmarked for education and generated by taxes should be directed by parents to the schools of their choice.

“Vouchers” is the word used as shorthand to describe this means of letting parents direct the public funds designated for their children’s education.

Centralized government, with its big bureaucracies and its inherent predisposition to stagnation, is not good at providing the diversity of educational opportunities and choices that a nation as big and diverse as America needs and that American children deserve.

Government monopolies in public funded education—which is what our public-school systems are—operate like nearly all other government monopolies: poorly.

When the Friedman Foundation came into being twenty-three years ago, there were only a total of 6 school choice programs in the United States.

Today, despite bitter and unyielding opposition from defenders of the failing educational status quo, 65 school choice programs are on the books in 29 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

A more important statistic is that today approximately 1.5 million American children are making use of a variety of private school choice programs to choose a school that meets their learning needs!

Over the course of the past twenty-three years, EdChoice has become the acknowledged national leader in the school choice movement, and the go-to resource center for parents and activists who want to learn how to make educational opportunity a reality.

We carry out our mission with the following activities:

  • Research and Thought Leadership—EdChoice is a national leader in school choice research. We publish dozens of studies, surveys, legislative analyses and blog posts each year to help the public, the media and key stakeholders understand how school choice is affecting families and students across the United States and internationally.  Our premise is simple: The more people know about and understand educational choice, the more they can help advance the movement.
  • Training and Outreach—For too long, parents have been told to sit down, be quiet and let the professionals handle their kids. Policymakers have similarly been bullied by those who seek to protect and preserve an educational system that has chronically failed many of whose who most depend on it as their pathway to a successful life.  We offer a variety of trainings to help school choice supporters learn how to advocate for high-quality programs that put students first.
  • Focused State Advocacy—We know from experience that bringing new school choice programs to fruition takes a lot of hard work. We also know that educational decisions should be made by those closest to it: at the local level.  That’s why we’re focused on engaging at the state level where it makes the most sense while supporting school choice efforts more broadly with our research, outreach and trainings.

Since 2010, the number of school choice programs has more than doubled, from 27 to 65.  Today, with school choice programs now on the books in more than half the states, and a pro-school choice presidential administration directing federal education policy in Washington, D.C., I believe that breakthrough has occurred!

And let me make a bold prediction: as things get back to normal after the coronavirus crisis, there will be a groundswell nationwide for greater educational freedom.

Why do I say that?  Because millions of Americans are experiencing in real time, the failures of the current education system, and the need for greater choice and flexibility in their children’s education.

And another reason: While a great many public school systems have floundered and failed their students, in spite of their massive taxpayer-funded resources, other private and charter schools have responded to the crisis nimbly and creatively.

At EdChoice, we see firsthand how such schools—ranging from a group of Montessori preschools in Houston to a network of Catholic Partnership schools in Harlem and the South Bronx—have found innovative ways to keep their students (and parents) supported and engaged in the learning process.

But maybe most importantly of all, parents and students are realizing that the public school system doesn’t have a monopoly on education.  The “one size fits all” style just might not, in fact, fit them.

But this doesn’t mean everything will change overnight.

Historically, the greatest opposition to school choice has come from the leadership of public teacher unions.  Sadly, the union leaders are more committed to preserving their influence as funders of politicians who will dance to their tune when it comes to negotiating lucrative contracts for their members.  They believe that any redirection of public funds designated for education away from the public-school systems (to parents, for example), represents a threat to their power.

The union leadership has been helped over the years by groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, who believe that permitting parents to direct the funds set aside for their kids’ education to religiously-affiliated schools will be counterproductive.

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12 COMMANDMENTS FOR SENIORS

#1 – Talk to yourself. There are times you need expert advice.
#2 – “In Style” are the clothes that still fit.
#3 – You don’t need anger management. You need people to stop making you mad.
#4 – Your people skills are just fine. It’s your tolerance for idiots that needs work.
#5 – The biggest lie you tell yourself is, “I don’t need to write that down. I’ll remember it.”
#6 – “On time” is when you get there.
#7 – Even duct tape can’t fix stupid—but it sure does muffle the sound.
#8 – It would be wonderful if we could put ourselves in the dryer for ten minutes, then come out wrinkle-free and three sizes smaller!
#9 – Lately, you’ve noticed people your age are so much older than you.
#10 – Growing old should have taken longer.
#11 – Aging has slowed you down, but it hasn’t shut you up.
#12 – You still haven’t learned to act your age, and hope you never will.

And one more:

“One for the road means going to the bathroom before you leave the house.

Some Thoughts to Make You Crazy:

• Atheism is a non-profit organization.
• Where do forest rangers go to get away from it all?
• If man evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes?
• I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, “Where’s the self-help section”? She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.
• If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages?
• Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?
• If the police arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?
• How do they get deer to cross the road only at those yellow road signs?
• What was the best thing before sliced bread?
• How is it possible to have a civil war?
• If you ate both pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry?
• Is there another word for synonym?
• If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?
• Don’t worry about old age, it doesn’t last that long.
• Life is sexually transmitted.
• Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.
• Men have two emotions: hungry and horny, and they can’t tell them apart. If you see a gleam in his eyes, make him a sandwich.
• Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach a person to use the Internet, and he won’t bother you for weeks, maybe months.
• Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in the hospital, dying of nothing.
• All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.
• In the 60s, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird, and people take Prozac to make it normal.
• Life is like a jar of jalapeno peppers. What you do today may burn your ass tomorrow.
• Death is the number one killer in the world.

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AMAZING TOWN TO VISIT

I love Washington, D.C—no, not the government; not the politicians—I love the buildings, the history, the sense of purpose, and the pride it generates that we are a strong, knit-together democracy of tolerant factions.

One of the newest additions to the scene on the mall is the National Museum of the American Indian, a key part of the Smithsonian Institution.

Kevin Gover, the director, says: “Please consider joining us to help bridge the gap between misconception and truth, shatter stereotypes, and forge a path of healing and understanding for all people, Native and non-Native alike.”

Here are a few examples of the museum’s work on producing factual work about three Native American icons portrayed very inaccurately in many popular publications.

Pocahontas, 1595-1617 – Historic Figure

Pocahontas was the nickname of a young Powhatan woman, born Matoaka, who is a pivotal figure in world history. Her father was the leader of the powerful Powhatan Confederacy, which dominated the coastal Atlantic region when English colonists established the James Fort (later Jamestown, Virginia) in 1607. Pocahontas often accompanied her father’s men to the fort on what they considered peaceful missions. But English colonists abducted her in 1613 and held her hostage for a year.

Pocahontas later married the colonist John Rolfe. In 1616 she traveled to London with him, her infant son, and an entourage of Powhatan. There she was received in the court of King James as the daughter of a “Mighty Prince Emperor.” Within a few years of her death, Pocahontas was well known to literate Europeans. Associated with the success of Jamestown—and a reminder of the deeply entangled history that Americans and American Indians share—Pocahontas has remained an indelible part of the American national consciousness for more than four hundred years.

Geronimo, 1823-1909 – Apache Leader

A symbol of Native American resistance and warrior spirit, Geronimo acquired a reputation as a fearless fighter while wreaking vengeance on Mexican troops who had murdered his wife, children, and mother. When U.S. miners, settlers, and soldiers intruded on Chiricahua Apache lands in Arizona, Geronimo and his people resisted the newcomers, rejected U.S. efforts to settle his people on reservations, and were denounced as murderous renegades by angry whites. Hunted relentlessly by U.S. soldiers and Apache scouts, Geronimo was finally persuaded to surrender in 1886, and was shipped as a prisoner of war to internment camps in Florida, Alabama, and finally Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In his later years, Geronimo converted to Christianity, sold autographed photos of himself, and rode in President Theodore Roosevelt’s inaugural parade. Despite his notoriety, the old warrior was never allowed to return to his tribal homeland. He died a prisoner of war at Fort Sill in 1909. Yet Geronimo’s legend as a warrior survived. In 2011, the U.S. military operation that eliminated Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was code-named “Geronimo.”

Sitting Bull, 1831-1890 – Hunkpapa Military, Religious and Political Leader

Sitting Bull was a stalwart defender of his people’s lands and lifeways, which were threatened by the intrusion of white settlers and miners on treaty-guaranteed tribal territories, and by U.S. government efforts to concentrate Indians on reservations. These violations provoked war in 1876, in which Sitting Bull and other war leaders masterminded the defeat of U.S. troops at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Faced by a massive U.S. military counteroffensive, Sitting Bull and his 4,000 followers fled to Canada, but returned in 1881. After two years as a prisoner of war, Sitting Bull settled on the Standing Rock Reservation in present-day North Dakota, where he became a successful farmer, and later toured with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Yet he remained a staunch critic of U.S. Indian policy, and became an apostle of the Ghost Dance—an Indian religious revival movement, which spooked white officials at the Standing Rock Reservation. In 1890, Indian police stormed his cabin, sparking a bloody shootout in which Sitting Bull was killed. He was buried at Fort Yates in North Dakota.

The National Museum of the American Indian is one of the many outstanding sites to visit in Washington, D.C.

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GUIDE DOGS CREATE NEW WORLDS

May has long come to symbolize graduation and new beginnings. And you are helping us create new beginnings at Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) with every guide dog team we graduate.

How? Your generous financial support makes everything we do here possible!

GDB graduations are joyful occasions, marking the beginning of new, life-changing partnerships that commemorate our graduates’ accomplishments after successfully finishing two weeks of intensive training.

In the past 78 years, GDB has graduated more than 15,000 guide dog teams. Watching the bond that is forged between our clients and their new guide dog is truly magical.

And today, as our country manages life with the coronavirus, I am sure our clients are particularly grateful to have their trusted guide dog by their side.

In addition to the enhanced mobility and independence our graduates experience, their dogs provide much needed companionship and emotional comfort in these challenging times.

Jane Fowler has enjoyed three graduation days since she graduated with her first guide dog, Ari. She recently described what the day feels like from a graduate’s point of view:

“Graduation day is such a unique experience. Family and friends are there to celebrate with you and you actually feel like a celebrity,” she says.
Jane was born legally blind and, at the age of eight, was diagnosed with a retinal degenerative eye disease.

How did a guide dog change her life?

“Someone once said that the dogs guide you back into society and that’s so true. I used to be very shy, but Ari brought people to me and helped me be more sociable. It brought me out of my shell.”

Now a self-described “extrovert,” Jane is enjoying life with her third guide dog, Pilaf. She tells us that, as her vision has declined, Pilaf has scented the need to be more helpful.

Recently, she wrote to us: “Thank you for all of your love and dedication to GDB. I am so blessed to have this sweet little girl who works so hard for me. She has never met a person or dog that she doesn’t love. And she is that guide that will walk through a movie theatre lobby and ignore all the popcorn on the floor. Good girl! She makes walking out the door every day more fun and a lot less stressful.”

You make all of this possible. As you know, we receive no government funding and all of our services, including room and board, veterinary financial assistance if needed, training, and ongoing support are provided to our clients free of charge.

Thank you for opening up a whole new world for our graduates today as well as our future graduates. I hope you will continue with us on this transformative journey by sending a generous gift today.

It is hard to imagine how limiting and hopeless it must feel to have eyes that work only in small ways…and then teaming up with a trained guide dog to open up a new world.
A friend and a companion indeed. Guide dogs are great!

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“GOING ALL IN” WITH CAPITALISM

The following is an excerpted article David Brooks wrote for the N.Y. Times.

“When Arthur Brooks was 24, he was playing the French horn in a chamber music concert in Dijon, France. He noticed a beautiful woman smiling at him from the front row, so, after the recital, he made a beeline for her and introduced himself.

“Within seven seconds he came to two realizations. First, he was going to marry this woman. Second, she didn’t speak a word of English, and he didn’t speak a word of Spanish or Catalan, which were her languages.

“When he got home, he realized that if he was going to have a chance with Ester he was going to have to show commitment. So he quit his job in America, moved to Barcelona and went to work with the Barcelona orchestra. Over the next few years, he learned Spanish and Catalan and Ester learned English. They have been happily married for 22 years.

“‘Sometimes you just have to be all in,’ says Brooks (who is no relation). ‘You have to go beyond cold utilitarian analysis.’

“Brooks later became a social scientist and is now president of the American Enterprise Institute, probably the most important think tank on the American right. He has emerged as one of the most ardent defenders of the free enterprise system. But the humanist that he is, he has primarily defended capitalism on moral terms. He’s criticized Republicans for defending capitalism on materialistic grounds—because it makes some people rich. Republicans, Brooks says, have an overly small-business focus. They talk as it everybody should become an entrepreneur.

“The real moral health of an economic system, he argues, can be measured by how well it helps all people make an enterprise of their life. Whether they work at odd jobs or at a nongovernmental organization or at a big company, do they get to experience the joy of achievement? Do they know that their work amounts to something?

“He’s pointed out that the percentage of people in the world living on $1 a day has declined by 80 percent since 1970s, adjusting for inflation. That’s the greatest increase in human possibility in human history. The primary cause is globalized capitalism.

“But capitalism now faces its greatest moral crisis since the Great Depression. The nature of that crisis can be captured in two statistics. When Facebook entered a deal to buy WhatsApp, it agreed to pay a price equal to $345 million per WhatsApp employee. Meanwhile, the share of the economic pie for the middle 60 percent of earners nationally has fallen from 53 percent to 45 percent since 1970.

“This economy produces very valuable companies with very few employees. Meanwhile, the majority of workers are not seeing income gains commensurate with their productivity levels.

“This puts a strain on the essential compact that you can earn your success. As Joel Kotkin has argued, the middle class is being proletarianized, and the uneducated class is being left behind.

“To his credit, Brooks is responding aggressively to this moral challenge, in a way that is providing a needed jolt to Republican circles. Over the last two days, for example, he had the Dalai Lama, a self-described Marxist, over at the American Enterprise Institute to discuss the morality of capitalism. Jonathan Haidt, of the Stern School of Business at New York University, challenged the mostly Republican audience to invent a new capitalist narrative, going beyond the simple demonization and celebration narratives.

“Brooks recently published a daring piece in Commentary magazine on a conservative social justice agenda. It was called ‘Be Open-Handed Toward Your Brothers.’

“He pointed out that conservatives love to talk about private charity, but, if you took the entire $40 billion that Americans donate to human service organizations annually, it would be enough money to give each person who receives federal food assistance only $847 per year.

“Instead, Republicans need to declare a truce on the social safety net. They need to assure the country that the net will always be there for the truly needy. Then they need to point out that it is the web of middle-class entitlements, even the home mortgage deduction, that really threaten benefits to the poor.

“The big new problem, Brooks writes, is that labor markets are sick. Fewer people are working and enjoying the sense of reward that is a key to happiness. Democrats embrace a raise in the minimum wage that could drive another half-million workers out of the labor market.

“Much better, he says, would be to expand the earned-income tax credit or maybe use direct payments or loans to help people move to opportunity.

“The big story here is that a major pillar of the American right is leading his institution to fully embrace capitalism, but also fully embrace government policies that will help the broadest number of people earn their own success. In this era, the invisible hand may not be enough.

“Sometimes you have to go all in.”

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DISPATCH FROM CORONA HIBERNATION – LEXOPHILES AND TRAVEL PLANS

A few non serious thoughts to break the monotony of being sequestered for two months.

For all Lexophiles; i.e., Lovers of Words

1. A bicycle can’t stand alone because it is two-tired.

2. What’s the definition of a will? It’s a dead giveaway.

3. Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

4. A backward poet writes inverse.

5. In democracy, it’s your vote that counts; in feudalism, it’s your count that votes.

6. A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

7. If you don’t pay your exorcist, you get repossessed.

8. Show me a piano falling down a mineshaft and I’ll show you A-flat minor.

9. When a clock is hungry, it goes back four seconds.

10. The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.

11. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

12. Local Area Network in Australia: the LAN down under.

13. He often broke into song because he couldn’t find the key.

14. Every calendar’s days are numbered.

15. A lot of money is tainted. ‘Taint yours and ‘taint mine.

16. A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.

17. He had a photographic memory which was never developed.

18. A plateau is a high form of flattery.

19. The short fortuneteller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

20. Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.

21. When you’ve seen one shopping center, you’ve seen a mall

22. Those who jump off a Paris bridge are in Seine.

23. When an actress saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she’d dyed.

24. Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.

25. Santa’s helpers are subordinate clauses.

26. Marathon runners with bad footwear suffer the agony of defeat.

Travel Plans for 2020

I have been in many places, but I’ve never been in Kahoots. Apparently, you can’t go alone. You have to be in Kahoots with someone.

I’ve also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognizes you there.

I have, however, been in Sane. They don’t have an airport; you have to be driven there. I have made several trips there, thanks to my children, friends, family and work.

I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I’m not too much on physical activity anymore.

I have also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go, and I try not to visit there too often.

I’ve been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.

Sometimes I’m in Capable, and I go there more often as I’m getting older.

One of my favorite places to be is in Suspense! It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart! At my age, I need all the stimuli I can get!

I may have been in Continent, but I don’t remember what country I was in. It’s an age thing. They tell me it is very wet and damp there.

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DISPATCH FROM THE VIRUS HIBERNATION

I didn’t suffer much during the hibernation. I ate well. As a matter of fact, I ate a little better with daughter-in-law Julie cooking meatloaf, banana nut bread and a few other specialties she cooked up to keep from getting bored. I probably gained a pound or two. I had all the comforts of my home. I just didn’t have the freedom I was used to. That was true to a great extent even before the virus finally got our government officials to catch up with what was needed to help slow the spread of this unwanted visitor.

Being in the most vulnerable group of potential virus victims, I was personally very cautious.

My life changed only slightly and in a few strange ways. Writing my blogs was difficult and my interest in finding new material for blogs was down to zero.

The other strange thing was I kept thinking—as soon as this is over, “we can move back to our old neighborhood in our own country.”

Contrary to logic, I was convinced we were in a different country. I know that wasn’t literally true, but it seemed right.

So let me share with you just a few of the things that did catch my interest in the virus fog.

The Mythology of Inequality: Debunking the Wealth Inequality “Crisis”

Many political leaders and pundits consider wealth inequality to be a major economic and social problem. They complain about a shift of wealth to the top at everyone else’s expense and claim that plutocrats dominate policymaking in Washington.

This is an oft-repeated refrain, especially among Democratic presidential candidates—but is it true?

Cato’s Chris Edwards and Ryan Bourne examined the truths and falsehoods surrounding the wealth inequality narrative in their latest policy analysis, “Exploring Wealth Inequality.”

The authors focused on six aspects of wealth inequality, discussing the evidence for claims that wealth inequality is drastically increasing. They found that wealth inequality has changed surprisingly little given the large economic changes in recent decades driven by technology and globalization.

Moreover, Edwards and Bourne identify several shortcomings of current wealth inequality data, which provide no information on levels of poverty or prosperity and are not useful tools for guiding public policy.

The study also debunks the claims of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren that most top wealth was inherited, not earned. Among the Forbes list of 400 Americans with the highest net worth since 1982, only 40 percent were self-made. By 2011, the share of self-made billionaires on the list rose to 69 percent.

Edwards and Bourne also point to the biggest contributor to wealth inequality in the United States: cronyism and regressive government regulations that undermine wealth-building.

As talk turns to the future of Gaza, these haunting words of Golda Meir are as current as today’s headlines. She could have been talking about Hamas,

“We can forgive [them] for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with [them] when they love their children more than they hate us…” – Golda Meir (1957)

How JFK Censored Right-Wing Radio

In the early 1960s, President Kennedy’s administration launched one of the most successful censorship campaigns in U.S. history. The subjects of Kennedy’s ire were conservative radio broadcasters, who constantly attached the administration’s policy proposals. Worried about his reelection chances, Kennedy instructed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to target the offending broadcasters with tax audits and heightened regulatory scrutiny. Within a few years, this censorship campaign had driven conservative broadcasters off hundreds of radio stations; it would be more than a decade before the end of the Fairness Doctrine enabled the resurgence of political talk radio.

To give a sense of the scale of what I call the “Radio Right,” consider that the single 1960s broadcaster with the greatest reach—a fundamentalist preacher from New Jersey named Carl McIntire—had a weekly audience estimated at 20 million, which is comparable to the number of listeners that Rush Limbaugh could claim at his height decades later. McIntire’s show had gone from airing on just two radio stations in 1957 to airing on more than a hundred stations in 1960 and surpassing 475 stations in 1964. But McIntire was only one of a dozen conservative broadcasters who aired on at least a hundred stations nationwide.

An Honest Politician

Harry Truman was a different kind of president. He probably made as many, or more important, decisions regarding our nation’s history as any of the other 42 presidents preceding him. However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.

The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence, Missouri. His wife had inherited the house from her mother and father; and other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there.

When he retired from office in 1952, his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an “allowance” and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year.

After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves. There was on Secret Service following them.

When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, saying, “You don’t want me. You want the office of the president, and that doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it’s not for sale.”

Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, “I don’t consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise.”

As president, he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food.

Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the presidency, resulting in untold wealth. Today, many in Congress also found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Political offices are now for sale.

Good old Harry Truman was correct when he observed, “My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference!”

I say dig him up and clone him!

Enjoy life NOW—it has an expiration date!

The Future After the Pandemic

In 1970, a book called “Future Shock” sold six million copied by basically saying innovation would change the world.

Shocking? Not so much.

Today a real future shock is forming because of the contagion and all of our lives will be affected.

Let me give you one example of the coming changes: Jobs.

Pandemic layoffs give companies the chance to clean house. Any employee deemed unnecessary or a nuisance is in the kill zone. By mid-summer, it is likely that 40 million Americans will be unemployed.

That’s staggering!

Companies understand that laying off older workers with good salaries can get them sued for age-discrimination. Fire a woman, don’t be surprised to see a “misconduct” allegation. There are legions of “protected” folks in the workplace only they are suddenly unprotected. The virus gives license to kill jobs.

So, the employment picture will be drastically altered. And there will be millions of folks looking for work. Therefore, companies both large and small will be looking to upgrade their workforce.

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FINDING A NEEDLE IN A DATING HAYSTACK

This is an article I drafted first for a lifestyle magazine and then for the L.A. Times back page of the Saturday section. Neither one eventually decided to use it, but I thought you might enjoy it nevertheless.

Here it is!

Finding a needle in a dating haystack is tough for everyone, but just maybe a little harder for mature couples.

We met in the olden days; it was early in 1996. It was at the tail-end of the bar scene and blind dates, but before the internet, which was still about three years from popular and extended use. The arena for introductions at that time was the widespread use of personal ads in the print media, newspapers and magazines

In order to get out of the hospital over Thanksgiving, I promised the doctor I would stay home, elevate my foot and use ice bags all day. That’s another story and only minimally related to this one. As you can imagine, staying home with an elevated foot gets boring pretty quickly and there’s only so much daytime TV you can tolerate. To pass the time I started reading the Los Angeles Times, cover to cover, and discovered, with great surprise, several pages of personal ads.

The way this worked was each ad had a box number. After calling the main phone number, you dialed in the specific box number. The ad writer left a message amplifying their ad or just inviting you to leave a message.

After a week or so I said, “What have I got to lose”? I answered a few ads and got some responses. One response seemed worth following up. We met for a cup of coffee. A glass of wine was the only other alternative. We each drove to our meeting so we had our own escape. Dinner would take too long if it wasn’t working out.

The first meet-up was okay, so we arranged a date after Christmas for dinner and then followed up with another date to see the “Waiting to Exhale” movie and dinner.

That seemed about as far as it needed to go.

As you can see, answering ads was pretty much the same as it is today with internet dating sites.

Knowing that answering ads was a numbers game, I kept reading and considering which ads to follow up with. In mid January, this ad appeared and stood out like a flashing red light at K-Mart.

One word demanded my attention!

It was a pretty standard ad in many ways, but what popped out for me was her inclusion of the word “INTELLIGENT.” That is not a description you generally see in many personal ads, particularly from the distaff gender.

I had to find out more. I called her box number and her greeting amplified her ad’s description to tell me, among other things, she liked ballet and opera.

By the way, at that point I was fast approaching age 65 and still working in the marketing arena.

Now it was my turn. I told her I was a little over her age requirement, did not like ballet or opera (but would be happy to buy tickets for her and a friend anytime). I was not sure about her definition of financially secure, but I was interested in the rest of her description and left my phone number.

She did call and we ended up exchanging a number of messages and calls. She worked downtown and I worked in West L.A. so we had some difficulty finding a time we could get together for coffee.

We knew we would be violating one of the basic rules of personal ad introductions, but the calls were interesting enough, so we said, “What the hey, let’s have dinner.”

We met at a local restaurant in the Marina. It was like no other introductory meeting I ever had. Usually at these introductions I had to carry and nurture the conversation with questions to draw my “date” out.

Not this time. She gave me the third degree for over two hours. It was hard for me to get a question in. This was new and different, so I said to myself, “Let see where this goes.”

She asked me about everything in my life. We talked about my background, my business, my priorities, what I was looking for. It was an interrogation; almost like a verbal Rorschach Test.

Her business background was in the apparel industry, but she could have been an FBI or CIA interrogator.

We found a lot similarities and common areas in our background and business experience. We were able to click on a number of different levels.

When dinner was over, we both obviously enjoyed the encounter. We exchanged a hug in the parking lot and agreed we wanted to see each other again.

She claims she called her daughter that night and said, “I found the guy. He was very honest in answering my ad, which doesn’t always happen, and he could be the one.”

Going through a nasty divorce, I was a bit more cautious. I’m not sure I felt as strongly as she did, but I certainly wanted to explore this further.

…and explore we did. A year later, we bought a condo, somewhat later we got married, and have visited 81 countries and all seven continents. It has been an exciting adventure; a truly successful adventure.

This wasn’t the first movie for either of us. So based on past experience, we were able to communicate very openly right from the start and although we were both controlling personalities, we ceded authority alternately on major relationship responsibilities.

The avenue for older couples may be a little harder. As you age, you have more baggage, more habits and become a little more fixed in ways you’re somewhat set in.

It’s never too late, however…but you need to take it one step at a time and be willing to be open to flexibility and change.

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