Book of the Month

Ramona's picture

The Politics of Cruelty

I'm coming off of my Thanksgiving week high, settling down, and what's the first thing I think of when I get back to my desk to do some writing?  Cruelty. Institutional cruelty, at that.  Political cruelty.  The kind of cruelty that knows no bounds and fears no punishment.  A new kind of cruelty, right out in the open and expecting rewards.  The New America, courtesy of the Tea Party, the Koch Brothers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

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Doctor Cleveland's picture

The Long, Cold Christmas

My morning commute these days takes me through a shopping center; the train lets me off underneath it. It's been Christmas in the mall since the first day of November. That's no surprise. Christmas has become the crutch our retail economy leans on. Many stores run in the red for eleven months and see Christmas put them in the black for the year. A bad year calls for a big Christmas, and a string of bad years calls for bigger and bigger Christmases. If shoppers don't keep finding more and more money for Christmas presents, the whole economy shrinks. It doesn't sound sustainable, but I don't blame local merchants for wanting to start Christmas early and hoping to extend that sweet jolt of retail steroid. We are out of other ideas.
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Ramona's picture

On the Day When Turkeys Refuse to Give Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  Over the river and through the woods to grandson's house we go.  I wrote this last night, so if there's confusion about the time line, that's why.  Any Vegetarians in the crowd might want to skip this one.

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Ramona's picture

Daylight in the Garden of Good and Kowalski

Hamtramck is a tiny city completely surrounded by big Detroit.  It has almost nothing in common with Motown except that they're both temporarily under the thumb of appointed, not elected, em
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Michael Maiello's picture

The Retirement Crisis 2: Everybody Ought To Be Rich

Early in my career at Forbes an editor introduced me to the quotation, "Everybody ought to be right," attributed to a 1929 Ladies Home Journal article by John Jakob Raskob, a financier for General Motors and Dupont and a darned good boom times investor.  What Raskob meant was:

"...a man is rich when he has an income from invested capital which is sufficient to support him and his family in a decent and comfortable manner - to give as much support, let us say, as has ever been given by his earnings." [Read more]

Ramona's picture

On That Day We Lost JFK

On that day I was up in my sewing room, away from the TV.  My four-year-old son was napping, and my 7-year-old daughter was in school. My husband was at work.   It was early afternoon.

I heard the back door open and before I could start to the stairs, I could hear my neighbor, Gwen, shouting something, sobbing. I thought something must have happened to her mother, who had been ailing.  By the time I got to her she could barely speak.  "They shot the president!  They shot Kennedy!"
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Michael Maiello's picture

Yes, WaPo: There Is A Retirement Crisis

Back in 2005, when I was still a financial journalist, I attended the Investment Company Institute's annual gathering in Washington, D.C.  The end of retirement was a theme of the event. Ken Dychtwald of Agewave argued that the idea of retirement, wherein you stop working in your sixties and get to live a few decades in pursuit of your own ambitions before dying, was a post World War II prosperity phenomenon and that it played such a brief role in our history that you could count on it enduring no more than you could count on always being able to make money by investing in Internet stocks. [Read more]

Doctor Cleveland's picture

Jonathan Martin Does Not Need Your Nonsense

A few weeks ago, an NFL player named Jonathan Martin, offensive left tackle for the Miami Dolphins, walked off the team and sought counseling for emotional health issues. This has led to the suspension of his teammate, the incongruously-named Richie Incognito, on charges of outlandish workplace harassment; an official NFL investigation into the team, now reaching to behavior by the coaches; and the kind of publicity you just can't buy. Plenty of NFL players, sports pundits, and armchair tough guys have denounced the 6'5", 312-pound Martin as soft and weak and proclaimed that outsiders just can't understand what goes on in an NFL locker room. [Read more]

Ramona's picture

Walmart, the Benevolent Provides Bins for Low-Wage Employees Food Drive

 

Everybody knows the Walton family, the people who put the "Wal" in "Walmart", is the richest family in America.  They're so rich you would have to pile up more than 40% of the wealth in the entire United States to even be on the same level.  If each member of the family lived to be a thousand years old, they couldn't even begin to spend all of their fortune.  So asking them to pay their employees a living wage and a few measly benefits is like asking them to give up, say, 1/10,000th of their fortune.  (Don't quote me on that; I don't know that for absolute sure.)

But I'm ever the optimist, so I put these questions to them:
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Michael Maiello's picture

Public and Private Equity

Timothy Geithner is getting what some on Wall Street will jokingly refer to as his first "real job" as a President and Managing Director at private equity house Warburg Pincus.  At Business Insider, Joe Weisenthal's take is that it could have been worse from a conflict of interest standpoint -- at least he's not as a Too Big To Fail bank, lobbying against regulations. [Read more]

Ramona's picture

Protecting Wolves by Throwing Them to the Wolves?

Yesterday I wrote about Opening Day for Michigan’s deer hunting season.  But yesterday was also opening day for a hunting season not seen in Michigan for almost 50 years.  Despite pushback from many different organizations, and petitions set up on a whole lot of petition sites, our grand Poobahs in Pure Michigan caved once again to special interests and instituted a hunting season for wolves.

Yes, wolves.
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Ramona's picture

Run, Bambi, Run! Man Is In The Woods

Today marks the opening of hunting season here in Michigan’s north woods.  The schools are closed in most upper state communities, including ours.

Opening Day is an annual holiday for the kids, even though only a small percentage of them will be out in the woods with guns. For many of them, today will be their initiation in deer camp, and it’s a day they’ve been waiting for all year.   I don’t quite know when it started but I do know that up here it’s one of those holidays that is so sacrosanct nobody questions it.

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Michael Maiello's picture

The Plight Of The Ultra Low Affluent

In The New York Times today, Lori Gottlieb, a bestselling author, practicisng psychotherapist and contributing editor to The Atlantic Monthly worries, "Has Obamacare made it un-P.C. to be concerned by a serious burden on a middle-class family’s well-being?" [Read more]

Ramona's picture

Feeling Good in Detroit

They’ve elected a new mayor in Detroit, which, in other circumstances, might be a big deal, but since Detroit is under the thumb of a state-appointed emergency manager (who promptly–and probably unconstitutionally–took away all authority from every elected city official), the new mayor, Mike Duggan, will likely be mayor in name only.  He’ll be invited to be in the first car in Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and, as the city’s Goodwill Embassador, he’ll be entrusted with handing out city souvenirs [Read more]

MrSmith1's picture

America ala Carte

ocean-kat’s recent blog about secessionists, struck a chord with me and reminded me that I needed to finish writing this piece.  It is a topic which has been tumbling around in my mind for a long time.

I was on Facebook a while back, having a discussion with a friend. She is a single mother living in the UK, and doesn't like being told she must get her child vaccinated.  [Read more]

Ramona's picture

Why Do we Plebians keep blaming the Super-rich? Because, Dammit, They're to Blame

We're an odd bunch, we Americans.  We've had a hate-hate relationship with the very rich for as long as we've existed as a country, but, damn their black hides, we can't stop taking care of them.

After all these years we've become used to sparring with the super-rich over how much they get to keep and how much they should share.  They want to keep it all, and we know that.  We want them to behave like responsible citizens, and they don't think they should have to.
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Go Vote!

Due to apathy, off-off year elections (i.e., elections on odd-numbered years) tend to have lower voter turn-out than even off year elections. The bad news is that, for whatever reason, Republican-leaning voters tend to be less affected by apathy than Democratic-leaning voters. The good news is that this low turn-out means your vote counts more than it would for even-numbered years. So, go vote! [Read more]

Moscow's Voice of Truth

From Edward Snowden's Manifesto for the Truth from his residence under the protection of Vladmir Putin and the decidedly not free and open Russia:

....Sometimes the agencies even deliberately try to hide their surveillance of high officials or the public. While the NSA and GCHQ seem to be the worst offenders – this is what the currently available documents suggest – we must not forget that mass surveillance is a global problem in need of global solutions..... [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

Dear angry American who has to pay more for better health insurance,

Bummer. I know the premiums are steep. I've been there. I remember when I moved from Philadelphia to New York City, and my rate jumped from $200 to $800--without even changing my plan. I received a letter saying that my premium might rise. The next thing I knew, boom, $800 charged to my credit card.

At least you get better coverage out of the deal. I still had to pay for my ER visit because it fell under my $3000 deductible. But what could I do? This America. Private companies are supposed to wring people out like dirty washcloths. It's called a free market.

But this is different, isn't it? It's not the free market that's squeezing you dry. It's the government. Government isn't supposed to squeeze people. It's supposed to get out of the way and let the free market squeeze people. [Read more]

Michael Maiello's picture

Insurance Coverage You Can Drive A Truck Through

Coming back from the gym this morning, I encountered an 18 wheeler with a flatbed trailer, stuck on a narrow West Village street, trying to navigate between the fancy cars parked on both sides.  I asked the driver if eyes outside the truck would help.  He was happy to tell me where to look while he steered the truck back and forth in an effort to straighten out the trailer without smooshing anybody's fine examples of German luxry auto manufacturing.  [Read more]

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