Thursday, February 27, 2014

Michael Josephson: Are cynics right? Is lying really necessary?

  What do you think? In today’s society, does a person have to lie or cheat at least occasionally to succeed?

  The question isn’t whether occasional liars and cheats sometimes get away with dishonesty; we all have to agree with this. The question is whether you believe people can succeed if they are not willing to lie or cheat.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Jacob G. Hornberger: The times just might be a’changin’

  The New York Times is reporting that most Americans, including a majority in Florida, favor normalizing relations with Cuba, which would mean a lifting of cruel and brutal economic embargo that the U.S. government has been enforcing against the Cuban people for more than 50 years.

  It’s about time.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Alabama's House delegation

  Last week’s column expounded on the two different styles that members of congress perceive their roles to be in Washington. Our two senators are classic but different examples. Jeff Sessions is the quintessential ideologue and Richard Shelby is the classic caretaker.

  What about our seven members of congress? We have seven congress people, six Republicans and one Democrat. All seven pretty much toe the party line. All six Republicans vote straight down the party line and our lone Democrat votes with the Democratic leadership. Therefore, you would have to classify them all as ideologues.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sally Steenland: Family values versus the corporate bottom line

  Two recent stories in the news have put a spotlight on the ways in which blind corporate allegiance to the bottom line can harm working families. The first story concerns the multibillion-dollar supermarket chain Whole Foods, which fired a female worker for taking a day off to care for her special-needs child during a snowstorm that closed Chicago schools. Forced to choose between going to work and leaving her child alone, Rhiannon Broschat did what any good parent would do—and lost her job.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Katherine Green Robertson: The debt bomb and other election year problems

  "If you want to tackle a tough issue, wait until after the election."

  This is one of the most understood ‘rules’ in politics. Unfortunately, elections never stop and oftentimes, the "tough issues" just get set aside in hopes that the problem will go away—at least until after the next election.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Jacob G. Hornberger: Embracing nonintervention and open immigration

  One of the libertarian positions that scare some Americans is open immigration. The thought that millions of people from around the world would be free to come to the United States to tour, work, invest, open businesses, or visit people frightens them to death.

  Actually, however, it’s an irrational fear.

  Today, there are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. As a practical matter, what difference does it make, since nobody knows who is legal and illegal?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Michael Josephson: Testing your integrity

  In the past year, did you keep the money if a cashier gave you too much change? Did you lie to your boss, a customer, or a significant other? Did you use the Internet for personal reasons at work? Did you distort or conceal facts on a resumé or in a job interview? Did you inflate an expense or insurance claim? Did you make unauthorized copies of software or music?

  Have you ever lied about your child’s age to save money or provided your youngster with a false excuse for missing school? If it was the only way to get your child into a better school, would you lie about your address?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Carl Chancellor: Of Beatles, boomers, and black history

  It was 50 years ago this week that the Beatles taught us how to play. In case you missed it—as if that were possible with the wall-to-wall media hoopla—four mop-top lads from Liverpool made their audacious U.S. debut in February 1964.

  Just as Cassius Clay, soon to be Muhammad Ali, would do two weeks later in Miami, the Beatles "shook up the world"—particularly the world of this then-11-year-old black boy—when they appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show" on February 9, 1964.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: A tale of two senators

  There are two schools of thought as to what role a U.S Senator should play on the stage in Washington. One model is called the caretaker. This senator believes that he or she should bring home the bacon. If there are any pork projects for roads, schools, bridges, universities, parks or any grant money in the annual federal budget then that senator’s state should receive its share or more.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Crushing cost of climate change: Why we must rethink America’s infrastructure investments

  The mega-drought squeezing Californians’ water supply and the state’s $45 billion-per-year agriculture industry is just the latest example of how climate change is threatening to drain state and local government budgets and hurt consumers’ pocketbooks and businesses’ bottom lines. Lasr week, President Barack Obama’s State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience met in Los Angeles to tackle a big question: How can the federal government help communities upgrade the United States’ infrastructure to withstand more frequent and severe heat waves, storms, floods, and other climate-change-driven events? On Capital Hill, lawmakers were seeking answers to similar questions last week at the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s hearing on "Extreme Weather: the Costs of Not Being Prepared."

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Craig D. Graham: Top 6 international consequences of the Syrian civil war

  The conflict in Syria has obviously had extremely devastating effects on the domestic population. However, there have also been significant consequences for the international community. Wars rarely stay within political borders and the Syrian conflict is no exception. Here are the six most destructive effects of the Syrian civil war on the rest of the world.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sam Fulwood III: What will be the political discourse post-Obama?

  During his largely insipid Super Bowl Sunday interview with President Barack Obama, a preening Bill O’Reilly played to his audience of know-little Fox News watchers by pretending to ask the president tough and probing questions.

  What a joke! All O’Reilly accomplished was to reload the ammunition for the wingnuts who continue to believe the president is a Marxist, socialist Kenyan bent on destroying their beloved nation. And, in the process, drive up the Fox News ratings to a 10-month high, allowing it to demand higher advertising revenues.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Michael Josephson: The pressure to cheat

  What’s causing the growing hole in our moral ozone? Why are cheating and lying so common in schools, on the sports field, and in business and politics? Apparently it’s a thing called pressure.

  Kids are under pressure to get into college, athletes and coaches are under pressure to win, and, according to a survey by the American Management Association, the pressure to meet business objectives and deadlines is the leading cause of unethical corporate behavior. The desires to further one’s career and protect one’s livelihood are the second and third reasons people lie or cheat.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Jacob G. Hornberger: Trade-deficit nonsense

  Do you ever wish that the federal government would stop publishing data on the so-called trade deficit? It would be one of the best things the government could ever do. At the very least, it would bring an end to the nonsensical obsessiveness over the trade deficit that characterizes so many mainstream economists.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: The strange office of secretary of state

  Usually gubernatorial years are marquee political events in Alabama politics. However, this year is shaping up as a mundane affair. Not only is Gov. Dr. Robert Bentley headed for a cakewalk coronation, so are all the other four incumbent constitutional officeholders. Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, Attorney General Luther Strange, Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan and State Treasurer Young Boozer, all appear to have smooth sailing in their reelection bids.

Monday, February 10, 2014

With only $93 billion in profits, the big five oil companies demand to keep tax breaks

  The 2013 profit totals are in for the big five oil companies—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Shell. Their financial reports indicate that they earned a combined total of $93 billion last year, or $177,000 per minute. After years of oil production declines, the big five oil companies actually increased their total production in 2013, predominately due to BP and ConocoPhillips almost doubling their total production. The companies’ higher oil production yet lower profits indicate that it is becoming more expensive to produce oil as the number of newer, easier, and cheaper fields shrink. This is why, despite their outsized earnings, the oil companies are not only fighting to keep their tax breaks but also lobbying to lift the crude oil export ban. But doing so could hurt working families, our economy, and our energy security. Instead, we need to invest in cleaner transportation alternatives.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Michael Josephson: I’m only a one-star

  Years ago I was talking to a group of Army generals about the way politicians often treat the defense budget as an all-purpose public works fund to help bring money into their districts. One general admitted, "Yes, if the chairman of the Appropriations Committee comes from a place that makes trucks, we’re probably going to buy those trucks. That’s the way it is, the way it always was, and the way it always will be."

Friday, February 7, 2014

Jacob G. Hornberger: Nice job, conservatives!

  When Barack Obama was elected president, the chickens came home to roost above the sordid nest that conservatives made for us after the 9/11 attacks. It was after those attacks that conservatives, quivering and quaking in their shoes over the thought that the terrorists were coming to get us, traded away the freedom of the American people to the federal government in the hope of gaining safety and security from the terrorists.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sally Steenland: It’s time to talk

  All too often, abortion debates focus almost exclusively on the potential life growing inside a pregnant woman, rather than on the woman herself. It sometimes seems that a woman, upon becoming pregnant, ceases to be a full and complex human being. Instead, the fertilized egg, zygote or embryo in her uterus is valued more highly than her actual life.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Andrew Kinnaird: Keeping better track of Alabama’s state property

  Supposedly the State of Alabama owns 6,560 individual pieces of real estate. The state "supposedly" owns them because the database from which this information comes, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (DCNR) "State-Owned Land Registry," is replete with low-quality information.

  For instance, 1,957 of the 6,560 property listings have no explanation of how they are used by state government. 1,597 have no name or description. If the state entities which own and manage these properties don’t have the self-discipline or resources to even report the use and description, how can they be expected to properly manage the very same property?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Role of the filibuster

  Over the years some of you have inquired about the use of the filibuster in the halls of the U.S. Senate. The word itself is not something that the average citizen is familiar with. A filibuster is simply a fancy word for talking a piece of legislation to death. It is a dilatory tactic that senators use to delay a vote on a bill and hopefully tire out the proponents of a prospective law.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Adam Hersh: Stable economic footing should focus agenda on inclusive prosperity

  Economic growth is returning the United States to more stable footing, but stronger growth is not translating into the dream of widely shared prosperity and opportunity for all Americans, articulated last week by President Barack Obama during the State of the Union address. U.S. gross domestic product, or GDP—the sum total of goods and services produced by workers and equipment in the United States—grew 3.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, following growth of 4.1 percent in the third quarter, according to new Bureau of Economic Analysis, or BEA, data.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Step in the right direction on retirement

  In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama announced MyRA, a new initiative to help Americans save for retirement. Under the president’s proposal, workers would be able to automatically save for retirement through U.S. savings bonds.