I'm happy to say that I have a new blog published by the New Conservative Movement: https://www.newconservativemovement.us/blog/2018/11/10/disagreeing-and-staying-friends
Wouldn’t it be nice if political decisions were based on knowledge of the issues involved? Or perhaps more importantly, wouldn’t it be nice if voters and those in the media understood accepted knowledge about significant issues?
A majority of Americans, according to polls, do not approve of the current administration’s tariffs, at least not tariffs on our allies. Most people assume trade wars will result that will increase prices here and reduce the ability of Americans to sell exports abroad.
They are right. But that is not all. An article by Greg Ip in the July 10 WSJ shares with us established and proven theories that an import tax is equivalent to a tax on imports. This is true for several reasons.
When we shut out imports from trading partners, we essentially deprive them of money to buy exports. So our tariffs cause more than a trade war or a matter of tit for tat. He states, “If the U.S., for any reason, cuts its imports from a trading partner, that country’s economy and currency both weaken, so it buys less from U.S. companies.” If, by any chance, the tariffs increased demand for our products, “the resulting boost to prices and jobs would put upward pressure on inflation, interest rates, and the dollar, further hurting exports.”
This year, Ip says, “The dollar has risen sharply . . . , mostly because of rising U.S. interest rates but also because U.S. tariffs have weighed on the currencies of Canada, Mexico, and China.” So we are on the way to hurting exporters already.
“America First” is not America first if our businesses and agricultural enterprises who export to other countries are seriously damaged. Voters need to know that. It is the obligation of politicians and the media to be informed and to inform.
Voters have a hard time knowing and understanding the ramifications of the health insurance market and its relation to health care costs. It seems that being allowed to buy insurance across state lines should provide price competition and lower costs. We know that employer benefits can provide cheaper options for people lucky enough to be working for large enough employers, although some benefits are gold standard and a little more costly. And the seemingly free employer-provided health care enables doctors, hospitals, and drug companies to keep prices high and provide services that aren’t even needed in some cases. So some think that allowing small business to group themselves to buy insurance will work. There is talk of sending the problem to the states in the form of Medicaid grants instead of modifying or eliminating the Affordable Care Act.
On July 2, Regina Herzlinger and Joel Klein published an opinion piece in the WSJ proposing that the IRS help solve the problem by giving all workers, not just employers, the right to use pre-tax dollars to purchase health insurance using Health Reimbursement Arrangements. This would enable them to choose from tighter provider networks that can negotiate cheaper prices. They claim Congress doesn’t even have to pass this proposal because the IRS can simply adjust its technical definition of Health Reimbursement Arrangements.
All branches of government have complicated our health insurance and health provider markets for going on 100 years. It didn't start with the ACA. An article last year in the Chicago Tribune tells how extensive employer-provided or group insurance got started: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-obamacare-health-care-employers-20170224-story.html. Basically, wage controls after World War II with a loophole allowing employer-provided benefits jump-started the group insurance concept that was used to compete for workers and it is still with us today.
Today, Congress—or the IRS—will have to sort out all the contortions in the health care market that have been introduced by government over the years in order to move us back towards a free market. And they have to do it without getting themselves voted out of office. We shouldn’t hold our breaths.
I know a man who was walking in the woods when a tree fell nearby. He now won’t walk in the woods if there’s a wind. I can’t agree with this conclusion. However, I do try to stay inside during a lightning storm. My chances of being hit by lightning are not great, but I would be a potential receptor, and people do get struck by lightning. My practice is based on my understanding of probability and frequency.
It’s human nature to attribute causation to preceding events. I got a new CPAP machine and then I got pneumonia, so the new machine must have caused pneumonia. In actuality, there’s no proof of this, and even if there were a connection, there are many other variables.
My question is, when are people taught about probability, the significance of frequency, the post hoc propter hoc fallacy, and the basic scientific process of considering and eliminating variables when evaluating results of an experiment or event? Is it in public school or only in some college classes? (I used to teach reasoning in freshman English, and I think I first learned about the scientific method in high school science, but then I’m a member of the first wave of baby boomers.) It’s important to identify when and whether reasoning is taught in our country, because our ability to be fair and to discriminate among good and bad news stories and Twitter or Facebook posts depends on our ability to reason.
I have Facebook friends who post singular and terrible incidents of injustice, and news media do this as well. Since the majority of my FB friends are African-American or liberal, the posts I’m talking about usually portray racial injustice. (I have no doubt that if the majority of my FB friends were, say Trump supporters, they would be posting their own, totally different, singular cases of injustice.) The cases posted are, many times, singular occurrences, not representative of a wave of injustice. However, as Sen. Tim Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio have testified, and I also can testify, white police do rather frequently harass young black males, pulling them over and worse. The number of young black males who were not committing crimes or even threatening the police, but who were shot by white police, may be too great to be considered unusual or an aberration. So at some level of frequency, individual injustices add up to a bigger social problem just as the frequency of lightning strikes leads to the admonition to stay in during a thunder and lightning storm.
When we listen to the news or see news on Facebook and Twitter, we really must ask ourselves if each report represents a probable concern, a concern that occurs frequently, a concern that is widespread. To get to the bottom of things or work towards a better future, we must be able to tell the difference between probable, provable causes and red herrings. If we draw premature conclusions and react to every news article or post we read, we will fan the flames of hatred and fear. But we should not close our eyes to social problems. Or go outside when there’s lightning out there.
I’ve had cats as pets all my life, starting with our Siamese, Holly, when I was four; her son, Stinky; Piño, who came with my college apartment; Pokey and Lai Fu (Mister Fu), a Siamese and Tankanese bought at a pet store when I was in college; the cats who volunteered when we lived in the country: Whiskers (intelligent orange cat #1), Patch the calico, Tabby, and Shadow (a sweet black cat who moved with us to our new house in Fort Valley); Sassy II, a fat Siamese from the Humane Society; and Willie, intelligent orange cat #2, who came to us after having been practiced on by students at the university’s vet tech department.
But my recent cats all have come from the woods. First there was Jeff, an old gray tabby who never let us pet him, who ate outside our door, and who apparently fathered a litter. From that litter, we got two of the kittens. First, Corey (“Wrong Way Corrigan”) was left behind and cried in the woods until our son rescued him by trapping him with tuna. Then mama cat returned (more interested in being fed by us this time) and nursed the rest of her litter in our yard. All disappeared except Sister. We managed to get her spayed, and she was very friendly, but she refused to come in because Willie kept smelling her behind. After Sassy and then Willie passed away, Sister deigned to come in. She is extremely loving and wants a lot of attention. She tolerated her brother Corey.
But then, mews and meows emerged from under my car that had a car cover on it. It was a tiny gray tabby. We fed her, and a neighboring cat seemed to check in on her regularly. One day when the porch door was open and Corey was calling out, she dashed inside. After much patient talking and waiting, she let me touch her, and then, of course, she had to be spayed. She had a hard time eating with the cone when she got back and was isolated on one room, so I went in there and fed her with a spoon. She would lie on my lap afterward, glad to have a friend. She gradually adapted to being a house cat, but she goes outdoors every night and sometimes in the day. She and Corey have bonded, though she jumped on him constantly when she was a kitten, thus the name Pounce.
Now, Sister is not happy. She still comes in the house, but she hisses at Pounce and sometimes at Corey, too. Still, I managed to feed them all by placing one bowl strategically away from the others. Until, . . .
Corey, who already was a nervous cat and scared of everyone but me, developed stomatitis. Luckily, Dr. Hodges, our vet, caught it early. But it required giving Corey an antibiotic and my catching him then bringing him in 12 times for laser therapy to heal his gums. He had stopped eating due to the pain caused by the sore gums resulting from an autoimmune reaction to his own tartar and plaque and had lost 8.5 pounds. The laser therapy gradually worked, except now Corey only can and will eat soft food.
Well, you can’t give tasty, fragrant canned food to only one cat. So now we have a new dance at feeding time. I’m realizing that the love they give me is more than half the time a request for more food. But Sister hisses at everyone when they are fed at the same time. This chases the others off most of the time, sometimes leading Pounce to go back outside and return later. Meanwhile, Corey is still highly suspicious that I might grab him and put him in the cat carrier again and scared of my husband, so he runs off easily. If I manage to get bowls strategically placed so all three can eat, Sister sits and looks grumpy while the others go at it. They all are messy and leave lumps of canned cat food outside their bowls.
I love these crazy kitties from the woods, but someday, I’d like to get normal domestic cats again!
My mother, who graduated from high school, could read music and sing the alto part on her own. I’m basically an alto, too, but even though I learned to play the violin, which required reading music, I usually haven’t been able to know what key my voice might land on when I start to sing, and I definitely can only sing the part when next to a good, confident alto. Even with the soprano part, if two notes are far apart on the sheet music, I’m never sure I will hit the second one right.
Mom complained frequently that I was playing the violin out of tune, and my dad scolded me for singing too timidly when at church. So even though I had a good experience in seventh grade chorus, I definitely had no confidence as a musician or singer. I quit the violin after eighth grade since my double joints wouldn’t let me play vibrato.
I liked to sing, though. We did sing songs in the car as a family, like “A Bicycle Built for Two,” “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain,” and “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” and I loved the Christmas carols we sang in the auditorium at my elementary school in Wheaton, Illinois.
The matter became serious when we had our first child. My husband bought a guitar and began practicing songs, especially, “Here Comes the Sun.” I bought the music and lyrics for Beatles’ songs. (Now where did I put those?) I also got the music for the Doxology and discovered I’d been singing one or two notes wrong all these years.
I sang lullabies to both sons, and Beatles’ songs, and sang Christmas carols with them (now carols were no longer allowed in the schools). I learned from Mr. Harleston, a vocal instructor at the college where I worked, that I could sing soprano better if I used my nose more instead of my throat. This was handy when encouraging my sons to sing hymns in church before their voices changed.
One day our church's choir director, Mr. William Mathis, asked if I would consider joining the choir as a soprano. I didn’t do it, but the very fact that he would ask made an impression on me. So when our little church got a new choir director with the hope of improving our services and he asked for more members to join the choir, I considered it. As soon as I retired, I did it. I started out timid, but soon, unless my voice was not so good that day, I tried to sing heartily since we are such a small choir.
When my first grandchild was born and a bit colicky, I was back to singing lullabies again, and “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain,” and many more songs since, including “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”
Then at my church, we had morning prayer, with no choir director or musician present, and I ventured to lead the few church members present by singing acapella. I did it with no embarrassing wrong notes! Now our musician has been out sick, and last Sunday I was the only one who knew how to start off one of the hymns (“Lead on, oh King, eternal”). I did it again!
I love singing traditional hymns with our choir, both from the Episcopal hymnal and from the African American Heritage hymnal. It seems to exercise my heart and clear out my emotions.
Isn’t it amazing that through a life’s journey of sixty to seventy years, an insecure singer can become confident enough to sing out loud?
I'm entering the HGTV Dream Home contest every day. And why not? It's true that I don't believe in gambling. I firmly believe that, when possible, we should work for the money we get because the value to self of doing the work is worth as much as, if not more than, the value of the money.
But this dream home is in St. Simon's Island, Georgia! I live in Georgia. And I wrote a whole romance novel once--and even found an agent to read it--all because I dreamed of a home on the next island, Jekyl, for our family. I'm from the Midwest, so I've been awed by and in love with the ocean since I got here in 1968.
I've also dreamed of being published as a writer. My successes at that have been minor. But back then, in the early 80s, I decided that being a success as a romance writer could get us that ocean-side house. I had a plot and characters in mind already, so I read a bunch of romance novels and went to work. The agent said it didn't quite fit the genre since it was set in 1948 and the hero was paralyzed. So it was a no go.
Since that time, I've completed a career as an English professor, learned a bit about editing and publishing, gotten a few poems published, and completed the second draft of a memoir. I got closer to my ocean-side house by helping one of my sons and his wife as they purchased a house near the coast in Panama City Beach. I have a novel started that I will work on in earnest once the memoir is completed.
But it sure wouldn't hurt if I won that beautiful waterside house in St. Simon's, Georgia.