Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Battle of The Super Rich

by Madeleine Kando

Romney is rich. He is very rich. He is fifty times richer than Obama, ten times richer than George Washington and 1,800 times richer than me. He also pays less taxes than you or I. How is that possible? Don't we live in a country with a (somewhat) progressive tax code?

I know what you are going to say: it's because he gets his income from dividends rather than from honest, hard work. Thanks to former President George W. Bush, the capital gains tax was lowered to 15%. If paying 15% taxes instead of the usual 30% isn't bad enough, Romney accuses people who are not in his league of suffering from envy. ** Read more...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Racism: The American Variant

By Tom Kando

Madeleine wrote a fine piece about Eugenics. Eugenics and racism are indeed ugly blemishes on America’s past.

Yes, America did participate in the racist Eurocentric oppression of “the other” of the past 300 years. Yes, America was guided by its belief in “Manifest Destiny.” Yes, America committed genocide against the native Americans. However, I think that America differs in significant ways from the other major perpetrators.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

If we Reject High-speed Rail, at least Let’s Know the Facts

By Tom Kando

The January 15 issue of the Sacramento Bee contains an excellent article, “Spain’s Trains Hold Lessons for California.”

Clearly public opinion, aided by the likes of Dan Walters (otherwise usually a reasonable man), has turned against the project. Chief Executive Roelof Van Ark has resigned from what increasingly appears to be a losing battle. The handwriting is on the wall.

The main reason for the project’s probable failure is ignorance - among the public and among opinion leaders. The ignorance stems from Americans’ increasing insularity. Most people in this country are unaware of the fact that the rest of the world is moving forward, because they do not visit or give a damn about the rest of the world.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Eugenics: A Dark Page in America's History

by Madeleine Kando

I recently heard an announcement on public radio that the victims of forced sterilization in North Carolina were going to be compensated. That made me curious about the subject because I had not known that, until fairly recently, forced sterilization had taken place on a nation-wide scale in the Unite States. I assumed those were things that happened in other countries, like Nazi Germany.

Forced sterilization was part of a wider movement called ‘Eugenics’, a bio-social movement which advocated the use of practices aimed at improving the genetic composition of a population. The word ‘Eugenics’ was coined by Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin. He reasoned that, since many human societies seek to protect the underprivileged and weak, those societies are at odds with the natural selection responsible for extinction of the weakest. This movement, which started in England as a subject of scientific curiosity, soon found its way across the ocean, and became very popular in America in the early 20th century. Read more...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Who Will Save the World Now, If Not America?

By Tom Kando

I was just re-reading the history of World War One. It’s clear that from 1917 onward, the world took a new turn, due to America’s entry into that war.

Until then, history was largely the history of Big Power Politics. These were primarily European. the UK, France, Germany, Austro-Hungary, Russia - plus two newbies: the USA and Japan. Most other countries were either colonized, or otherwise less powerful.

For some reason, the Big Powers decided to commit collective suicide. It was largely Germany’s fault, but that’s irrelevant here.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Who Needs the Post Office, DMV and All the Other Services?

By Tom Kando

This picks up where I left off a year ago: Then, I questioned the near-universally accepted cliché that the private sector does everything better than the public sector. The perception that government is the problem, not the solution; that government is exceptionally corrupt; that public pensions with defined benefits are ruining the country, and that everyone should switch to defined contributions instead (i.e. stock market-based) retirement plans; that unions are much too powerful.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Kando's 2012 NFL Playoff Prognostications

By Tom Kando

Dear Readers: Now that the regular NFL season is over, I offer you Kando’s 2012 post-season predictions:

1. Wild-card round (Jan. 7-8)
Houston vs.: Cincinnati: Houston.
Pittsburgh. vs. Denver: Pittsburgh.
New Orleans vs Detroit: New Orleans.
Atlanta vs. Giants: Atlanta.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Pragmatism and Idealism

by Madeleine Kando

Ever since my oldest daughter’s visit last week,I have been obsessed with the concept of ‘pragmatism’. If I had to choose one word in the English language to describe her personality, that would be it. My husband likes to describe her personality as ‘Dutch’, as if she was a piece of cheese, but that does not do justice to her OR Dutch cheese. There are hundreds of types of Dutch cheeses, just as there are many flavors of pragmatism and calling someone pragmatic is just as vague as calling someone 'Dutch', but for lack of a better word I will stick to that description. Read more...