Archive

December 8th

How to weave a 21st-century safety net

    Modern American capitalism is not working for many Americans. That's why, no matter what your political leanings, fixing an economy that can no longer be counted on to create steady, well-paying jobs for all has to be our top priority.

    Whether you were heartened or heartbroken by the election results, millions of American voters have made one thing clear: There is a widespread belief that our once great institutions are unable, or at least unwilling, to work together to address today's economic challenges.

    Job creation has continued for 73 straight months. Wages are beginning to rise. Still, the populist tide we've seen all year is fueled by Americans who continue to white-knuckle it every day, believing they are just one or two paychecks away from disaster. Indeed, too many of them are.

    Democrats and Republicans in Washington largely have failed to respond adequately to the seismic shifts that have been occurring for some time across our economy, many of them triggered by increased automation and global, competitive pressures.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Gifts With Meaning

    Sure, you can buy your uncle a necktie that he won’t wear, or your niece an Amazon certificate that she’ll forget to use. Or you can help remove shrapnel from an injured child in Syria, or assist students at risk of genocide in South Sudan.

    The major aid organizations have special catalogs this time of year: You can buy an alpaca for a family for $150 at Heifer International, help educate a girl for $75 at Save the Children or help extend a much-admired microsavings program for $25 at Care. But this year my annual holiday gift list is special. I’ve tied some items to the election of Donald Trump, and I’ve looked for organizations that you may not have heard of:

    — One battle over the coming four years will involve family planning, because of Republican efforts to defund Title X family planning programs and repeal Obamacare, which provides free birth control. So consider a donation to one of the most effective counterforces: the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, thenationalcampaign.org.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Forget 'identity politics,' think 'coalition'

    Should political candidates appeal to particular racial, ethnic or gender groups? Or should they broaden their message to appeal to all groups?

    Such are the questions that presidential campaigns ask themselves in the circular firing squad of blame and finger-pointing that follow a big loss.

    Four years ago, the big word for Republicans after President Barack Obama's re-election was "diversity." After losing the popular vote in five of the previous six presidential elections, the Republican National Committee's "autopsy" report called for aggressive outreach to blacks, Hispanics, Asians and other growing nonwhite demographic groups that were not voting much for Republicans.

    Alas, that outreach approach evaporated with the Grand Old Party's nomination of Donald Trump. Result: The GOP now has lost the popular vote in six of the past seven elections -- and yet bagged enough electoral votes to win the White House this year.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Finally, A Debate About Identity Politics

    Amid the climate of disbelief and fear among Democrats following Donald Trump's election, a fascinating debate has broken out about what's called "identity politics" on the left, "political correctness" by the right.

    And about damn time, I say. The kind of race- and gender-based moral bullying prevalent on many college campuses and in certain media outlets has been extremely damaging to the Democratic Party.

    My only fear is that the argument will be too polite. Sometimes, people just need to get smacked right between the eyes. Anyway, the whole thing was started by an essay in The New York Times by Columbia University historian Mark Lilla called "The End of Identity Liberalism."

    "In recent years," Lilla writes, "American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism's message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing." Instead of the Democratic Party's core message of inclusion -- all for one, and one for all -- we're fed a seemingly endless list of grievances and a litany of blame.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Donald Trump's conflict of interest problem isn't going away

    For the first time since being elected president three weeks ago, Donald Trump on Wednesday appeared to acknowledge major concerns about potential conflicts of interest between his presidency and his vast business empire.

    In a series of tweets, Trump didn't provide much detail about his plans except to say that he'll hold a press conference -- with his children alongside him, importantly -- on Dec. 15, and that "legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations." Trump's tweeets:

    "I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my . . .

    "great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! While I am not mandated to . . .

    "do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses. . .

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Count Those Votes! Again!

    Presidential recount underway. What’s your take on it?

     — This is a plot to distract the country from the stupendous Election-Day fraud in which millions of dead people cast their votes for Hillary Clinton. 

     — Is it going to get rid of Donald Trump? If it isn’t, I don’t care. I don’t care about anything. Excuse me, I’m going back to bed.

    Wow, happy holidays.

    Yes, it’s true the postelection nation is still divided, this time between the folks who don’t want to believe Trump is going to be president and the ones who don’t want to hear that more people actually voted for Hillary.

    But about the recount: The star of this show is Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee for president. On Wednesday Stein’s lawyers filed paperwork to force Michigan to recheck its vote tallies. She’s also getting a recount in Wisconsin and she’s working on Pennsylvania.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Can we stop pretending that Trump is a 'populist' now?

    Donald Trump has named Steve Mnuchin - a Goldman Sachs alum and hedge fund manager - to be his secretary of the Treasury, in keeping with his repeated promise to take on Wall Street and the powers-that-be on behalf of the little guy.

    So can we stop pretending that Trump's campaign "populism" was anything other than just one more con?

    It isn't just the next Treasury secretary. This morning on CNBC, Mnuchin outlined his people-centered plan for the country's economy.

    "Our number one priority is tax reform," he said. "We think by cutting corporate taxes we'll create huge economic growth and we'll have huge personal income so the revenues will be offset on the other side."

    At last, a Republican administration that believes in the wonder-working power of tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy! If only George W. Bush had known about that, we would have had spectacular growth through the 2000s and the Great Recession never would have happened. Oh wait - this is exactly the economic program Bush pursued, to such disastrous effect.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Americans don't sleep enough, and it's costing us $411 billion

    Myriad business executives and heads of state have said they get by on little to no sleep. President Barack Obama told Vanity Fair in 2012 that he didn't shut off the lights at the White House until 1 a.m. and rose each morning before 6. Internet pioneer Vint Cerf made his thoughts on the topic clear: "Sleep is a waste of time." And President-elect Donald Trump, who wrote in his 2004 book "Think Like a Billionaire" that he sleeps only about four hours per night, recommended "don't sleep any more than you have to."

    Such messages are not supported by substantial research that documents the health dangers of sleep deprivation. Our latest research - "Why Sleep Matters: Quantifying the Economic Costs of Insufficient Sleep" - goes a step further and puts a price tag on sleeplessness around the world.

    Lack of sleep exacts an economic toll of more than half a trillion dollars per year in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Japan alone. The lack of sleep in these countries and across the globe affects work, business and, as a result, the world's economy.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Why we can't - and shouldn't - ignore Donald Trump's tweets

    For the second time in two weekends, President-elect Donald Trump stirred controversy, bigly, using only his thumbs.

    With a trio of tweets Sunday alleging millions of fraudulent votes and "serious" fraud in three states, Trump effectively hijacked the news cycle for the next 24 hours with baseless conspiracy theories. A week prior, it was Trump's tweets demanding an apology from the cast of "Hamilton" for disrespecting Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who was in the audience the previous night.

    It can all feel pretty small and sideshow-y at times. Some have a prescription: The media should resist the urge to cover Trump's tweets as big news. Others even say we should ignore them altogether.

    But both of those are fantasies. And we'd be doing readers a disservice if we tried either.

    Undergirding the idea that Trump's tweets shouldn't be big news is the theory that he's manipulating the media into focusing on small things to cover up less sexy but more important things - conflicts of interests and possible corruption, in particular.

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!

Trump's disastrous pledge to keep jobs in the U.S.

    One of Donald Trump's most consistent campaign promises has been to prevent U.S. businesses from moving good jobs to Mexico -- whether through taxes, jawboning, or more drastic means such as an outright prohibition. Economists might regard this as a misguided form of protectionism, but in fact, it's worse than that: If instituted, it could prove a major step toward imposing capital controls on the American economy and politicizing many business decisions.

    Let's consider how such a policy would be enforced in practice.

    When an American company "moves jobs to Mexico," it doesn't disassemble a factory and load all of the parts onto border-crossing trucks. That might be relatively easy to stop. Instead, the company closes or limits some U.S. production while expanding or initiating new production south of the border. Given that reality, how is government supposed to respond?

Full text and e-editions are available to premium subscribers only. To subscribe to the digital edition, please visit subscription page. If you are already a subscriber, please login to the site.

We'd be happy to set up login information for a free week of the Liberal Opinion Week website for you. Please email liberal@iowaconnect.com with your request. Thanks for your interest in the Liberal!