Archive for March, 2018


Thursday, March 15th, 2018


The Supreme Court has upheld the right of an individual to own a gun. They have also upheld the right of communities to place reasonable limits on gun ownership.

I am grateful to all those who make our highways safer by controlling the deer population. I have no problem with target shooters either.

My dad for a short while owned a German Luger. I’m not sure why he owned it other than that fact that at the time he was a small business owner in Omaha. Maybe he felt he needed protection at his shop. The reason I know he owned it was because when I was about 8, my younger siblings and I found the gun one afternoon in his dresser drawer. We took it out and started to play with it. I don’t know whether or not it was loaded. Nothing terrible happened, except that my mom found us playing with it and I never saw another gun in the house.

All of my friends and I owned BB guns growing up. None of us put an eye out. We all belonged to a gun club at the local community center. During the winter we all practiced target shooting there. During the summer, we would shoot at the pigeons roosting on the back of the local drive-in movie screen. They were far enough away that even if we managed to hit one, the BB would likely have just bounced off.

The father of one of my best friends in grade school killed himself with a gun at their home when I was maybe 14. We spent a lot of time at each others homes. His family didn’t seem any different from mine. But after his dad died, my friend changed and we drifted apart. I can’t imagine what he must have gone through. I wish I could have helped him more than I did.

I understand the fascination that some people have with guns. I also understand how dangerous they are. I appreciate how fortunate I was to escape with just a scolding when I found my father’s gun. I have also seen first hand how a gun can change someone’s life forever.

There are certainly stories about good people successfully using guns to defend themselves from bad people with guns seeking to harm them. Those instances, unfortunately are the exception rather than the rule. Most of the time, guns either kill the owner, someone in their family, or some other innocent person by accident or mistaken identity. Your odds of winning the Powerball are 15x higher (.000003) than your risk being killed by a home invader (0.0000002).

According to numerous reliable studies, 60% of gun deaths are suicides. 79% of the victims are white men, like my friend’s dad. Gun suicides have touched everyone. Having a gun in your home triples your risk of suicide.

Keeping guns in your house, regardless of how they are stored, not only increases the odds of suicide, but also domestic abuse and accidents. Owning a gun triples the risk of homicide in your home. Gun mishaps are the third leading cause of death among children in this country. Kids aren’t supposed to die. In most other civilized countries some kids get sick and die. Some kids die in auto accidents or drown. It’s only in this country where our kids get killed because they came across a loaded gun.

Statistics prove that more guns make communities more dangerous. Guns are most dangerous to those who own them. A combined analysis of 15 different studies in 2015 found that those who had access to a firearm in their home were 15x more likely to be murdered as those who didn’t. The majority of those murders were committed by a family member or a close personal acquaintance.

As our population ages, crimes of all sorts are down. That’s because the vast majority of crimes are committed by males between 15-29. The best way to make communities safer is not to give everyone a gun. It is to give everyone a job. The safest communities are those with the lowest populations of young unemployed men and the fewest guns.

Let’s make every community one of those safe ones. Our businesses need workers. Let’s make it easy for everyone to find a good job. Getting everyone a good job will make every community more prosperous and safe. It will also reduce the need some feel to own a gun for protection. Reducing the number of guns in our community will save lives.

Waffle House Economy

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

The difference between fantasy and reality is that in the real world real stuff actually happens to real people.  If you live in a fantasy world, you have lost touch with reality.  You have not, however, escaped reality.  Reality will, sooner or later, assert itself.  At that point, you will suffer a rude awakening.

Our country is poised to experience several rude awakenings as we discover that our President and those supporting him have lost touch with reality.

We now know that the Russians have been and are continuing an effort to disrupt our democracy.  We know the who, the why, and even the where.  Some of those who worked on disrupting the 2016 election, have since come forward to provide detailed accounts of what they did and how they did it.  Facebook and twitter have identified the accounts that they used.  Mueller has the evidence and indicted some of the perpetrators.  Our intelligence community has documented the hacking that occurred to voter records and electronic voting machines.  Our intelligence community continues to sound the alarm that these attacks are expanding and becoming more sophisticated.

Our President and the party that supports him live in the fantasy world that the whole Russian effort is a partisan witch hunt intended to discredit Trump’s election.  They attempt to deflect blame to Clinton, the Democrats, or the media.  The REALITY is that concerted efforts by the President and his supporters to discredit the media left us vulnerable to Russian spreading REAL fake news.  Conservatives were eager to spread whatever stories they read that confirmed their fantasies about Clinton and the Democrats even though they were fantasies.

The reality is that we have been attacked in no less a real way than we were attacked on 9/11.  Why hasn’t our President and our government responded?

According to Tom Friedman, there can only be two answers.  Either Trump is simply delusional or the Russians DO have something on him that he does not want others to know.  Neither choice bodes well for the country.

Tax Cuts and Government Spending and Economic Growth
We have never provided this large a stimulus to an economy that was this robust.  We are in completely new territory as far as what is going to happen.  The tax cut and the associated budget bill killed off the “Trump” stock market rally because of concerns about the Fed raising interest rates to combat inflation.  More concerning is this massive reduction in government revenues is happening at the same time as costs for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are rising because of the baby boomer retirement.  The fantasy is that the tax cuts will pay for themselves, but even the Trump budget shows they don’t believe it.  The claim is that we will see 3% growth as far as the eye can see.  The reality is that there aren’t enough workers to support that sort of growth.  The worker situation grows worse each day that we actively discourage immigrants from coming here to work.  The second fantasy is that corporations will invest the tax cut in higher wages.  Wages are going up, but it’s because unemployment is so low.  Corporations have spent $6B in bonuses and wage increases.  They have spent $170B in stock buy backs.  That’s reality.

This is a terrible idea.  It based in Trump’s fantasy that trade is some sort of mano-a-mano wrestling match.  It’s not.  Even if other countries don’t retaliate, which the very likely will.  It will be a net looser for the economy.  Just like the tax cuts, nobody has tried to impose tariffs at time of very low unemployment.  That’s because the whole design of the tariff is to use price to replace imported products and services with domestic products and services.  The problem is that we do not have the employees to ramp up domestic production of much of anything.  How are steel producers and aluminum producers going to expand, if they can’t find skilled workers?  The result instead will be more pressure on wages AND more pressure on prices.  What’s that spell? INFLATION.  What happens when inflation goes up?  The dollar goes up.  What happens when the dollar goes up? Exports go down.  That’s why tariffs went out with the cold war.  The news suggests that Trump’s about face on tariffs was driven more by his frustration with his administration than a careful analysis of the subject.

So where does this leave us?

SNL said it best.  We hired a businessman to run the economy, and he’s running it like a Waffle House at 2AM.