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Current Affairs

But, but, but, the economy is struggling!!!

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A survey of recent American news site headlines, via Google News:

USA Today, 5/6/05: Job growth explodes in April, up 274,000.

But then, we have:

ABC News/Reuters, 5/6/05: Jobless claims rise more than expected.

Ft. Wayne News-Sentinel/Knight Ridder/Dallas Morning News, 5/6/05: The wrong diagnosis: U.S. economy is slow, but this isn't stagflation.

Sioux Falls Argus Leader/AP, 4/29/05: U.S. economy slumbering.

Bloomberg.com, 4/28/05: U.S. Economy: 1st-Quarter Growth Slowed, Inflation Accelerated.

Then, you have: Washington Times, 5/6/05: Poll: Consumers dour on U.S. economy.

I wonder why? Do you suppose it might be in part because of the steady drip-drip-drip of negative news from our friends in the "mainstream media?" One of the most admirable things about "The Greatest Generation" was that, in the words of the song popularized by Bing Crosby, would "accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative."

It isn't that they had any fewer problems than we did, but it's about how they went about tackling them.

And before you go off about how naive they were back them, remember that when that song was popular, the world was in the midst of a war more terrible than anything happening today, coming on the heels of an economic depression the likes of which today's Boomers, Gen-X'ers, and Millenials can scarcely imagine.

Mad Ivan leaves Free Republic

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OK, you might file this under "Blognews" if I had such a section. "MadIvan," a fairly regular British poster of the FreeRepublic discussion board announced he was leaving that conservative site after one too many Brit-bashing posts. I had words to say about that and the general condition of political discourse (click "read more" to read my comments):

(p.s. here's a link to one of Mad Ivan's websites, and here's another one.)

Update:
MadIvan has been asked by the FR moderators and lots of others to reconsider his departure.

Studies Link Marijuana to Mental Illnesses

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"Federal Report: Marijuana Causes Mental Illness" screams one headline, WebMD.

But if you read the article, it talks about marijuana use by children under 12 years of age.

So, drug use affects the development of children.

Duh.

More Robert Pozen on Social Security

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In this editorial in the Wall Street Journal, MFS Financial Advisors Chairman (and Dem.) Robert Pozen answers some of the critics and nay-sayers of Social Security reform.

Some excerpts:
If the litmus test of a reform plan is not cutting scheduled benefits for any significant group of workers, then no viable plan to restore Social Security's solvency will pass muster.

. . . median workers would be able to buy 14% more in goods and services with their monthly checks from Social Security under progressive indexing in 2045 than they can with these checks today. That does not sound like a "benefit cut" in terms of real purchasing power.

And the money paragraph:
If Congress is attracted by a package of Social Security reforms combining a milder form of progressive indexing with a 2.9% surtax on earnings above $90,000, it must provide high earners with retirement benefits attractive to them. One possibility would be to devote 1.45% of the surtax to Social Security solvency, and to allow the other 1.45% to be allocated to a personal account invested in market securities. Since such an account would not divert existing taxes away from Social Security, it would not involve any increase in government borrowing. In short, the combined approach would let both parties win--Democrats would get a mix of higher taxes and progressive benefit changes, while Republicans would get personal investment accounts and constraints on benefit growth. And the solvency of Social Security would be restored for all American workers.

If you think you have an opinion on Social Security, you need to read and understand this article. It may change your perspective on the issue.

Runaway Bride

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First, as a matter of full disclosure, my revulsion to Julia Roberts began after I was subjected to the movie Runaway Bride both going and coming on Northwest Airlines during a business trip some years ago. I thought at the time that (on top of it being just a bad movie), the Roberts character was a contemptible serial emotional abuser that no self-respecting man with a lick of common sense would tolerate for five seconds.

So you can imagine my reaction to the news that Jennifer Wilbanks' week long deception of her fiance, her family, and the media. The only slack I will give her is that she only ran away once.

I'd even stop short of full condemnation if she hadn't reported her little bus trip as a kidnapping. She's quoted as "needing some time alone." It is my fervent hope that the judicial system gives her exactly that.

Meanwhile, her fiance and family try to pick up the pieces, and the emotional pornographers in the media move on to the next juicy tear-jerker.