President Donald J. Trump

We have just watched his very gracious acceptance speech. Who would ever have thought that Donald Trump would be President Donald Trump? Who would ever have thought that he would sweep the country? As the Washington Post has just said “he did it by completely blowing up the electoral map and all of our projections and expectations of it.” More than one pollster and their fancy programs are wondering just what happened and how it was that they got it so wrong. No doubt long analyses will follow and we’ll learn just how all the models were so far off. What a day!

Equal opportunity

I was chatting to a young relative recently about politics and economics and felt inspired, as a result, to try to gather my views into one coherent whole — not that my views are necessarily coherent! I realized as I began to gather my thoughts that I am an idealist at heart. I have a vision in my head of how things “ought” to be and my politics and beliefs about appropriate economics flow from that vision. I think I can sum up my ideals in one small phrase: equal opportunity. I believe at some deep level that everyone is entitled to an equal start in life. Most of my politics flow from that simple, yet profound, vision. I shall try in subsequent posts to embroider on where that vision takes me.

Painkillers

I am an avid reader of New Scientist and was caught by their recent article on the problems with paracetamol known to us Americans as acetaminophen or more commonly by its brand name Tylenol. The article is entitled What’s wrong with the world’s favorite painkiller?. The answer it turns out is a lot! Apparently in the United States some 80,000 people each year visit emergency rooms because of poisoning from “Tylenol” and some 16,500 people with arthritis die each year from this supposed painkiller and its related forms. Taken over a period of time it can apparently cause internal bleeding and severe liver problems. To make matters worse research studies show that it is only marginally better than a placebo. Who knew?!

Blogging

One of the problems with blogging is that one throws out a thought on a particular day only to see it vanish under a cloud of thoughts as day succeeds day. So, I am going to experiment with keeping my blogs on my website michael.vanbreda.org. In future, I will offer thoughts on this blog but link them to my website.

Why educate?

Why do we bother to educate our young? Or put alternatively, why do our young bother to get educated? The discussion revolving around the Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action at the University of Michigan seems to muddle those two questions. Do we, as a society, have an interest in educating our young? Or is education a purely private affair? More sharply put, is education all about “me” or is it about “us.” Those who oppose affirmative action seem to be arguing that “I” am being denied an education because someone else was given preference over me; those who favor affirmative action seem to be suggesting that society has an interest in how people are educated. Continue reading

America falls behind

The New York Times has a fascinating article titled “The American Middle Class Is No Longer the World’s Richest.(http://nyti.ms/1juH6YE) It points out that average per capita income in the United States continues to lead the world but that average conceals the fact that the rich have become very much richer while the rest of the country has become poorer. Both the middle class and the poor have fallen behind compared to similar groups in other countries such as Canada.

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