It’s been a few weeks (over a month, really). I did start getting a list ready last weekend, but it never made it to posting. Hence, there are a couple of two-fers this time out. And this was supposed to go up last night, but Coco was too engrossing. If you haven’t seen it (and I highly recommend you do), it’s all about family and community and how individuals fit into these complex relationships. If there’s a theme to this week, it’s about taking big topics/problems/issues down to the personal level … starting with the economy.
First up – The G7 met this weekend. Globalization and trade policies involve all kinds of complex interrelationships. What counts as an American-made product? Anything made here, even if components of that final product came from elsewhere? What counts as an American job? Do Americans working at facilities here in the US count, even if the company that owns and operates the facility is based outside of the US? These questions, and the two stories from this week below, demonstrate why trade policy is complicated and co-operation with other nations on the world stage is essential. What if what you’ve been told (sold) as being “good for you” turns out not to be? (Note: even those supportive of the tariffs acknowledge they will not be able to bear the negative consequences for more than a brief time)
Secondly, the common mantra is that we should trust these policies on tariffs, tax cuts, etc. to get us where we need to be … just give it time. But how much time can we afford to wait? There was news this week about Social Security and Medicare going through money faster than expected. (This news was reported in multiple forms by multiple sources, but it’s the first story in the first link, the Marketplace Morning Report from Wednesday.) We’ve known for some time now this day was coming and none of the suggested changes that could help have been made. It might be getting too late to solve it; that’s the second link below. And yet, there were statements from the various administration officials not to worry because economic growth from tax cuts and tariffs will fix all this. But if that’s really the case, how come things are worse — not better — after almost a decade of economic improvement and growth? Bottom line: the younger Boomers and all other generations after that point should not be planning for the current standard model of retirement … and places building their business plans around that ideal might want to rethink things.
Third, to further complicate the issue, the Minneapolis Star Tribune ran a series this week on the burden borne by family care givers, often uncompensated … which costs in plenty of ways … and would cost our health care system a lot more if it were compensated appropriately (like $470 Billion more). And then where would we be? This is part of why people are struggling to save for their own retirements and other future needs — and why Medicare is running out of money faster than expected (health care needs at end of life or for chronic conditions). While compensation might help the finances of the family members doing the care, it will make costs even higher for Medicare recipients.
A lot of attention was on a certain Supreme Court ruling this week concerning free speech and business owners…
[Digression: if someone runs a business attractive to couples planning their weddings and that someone doesn’t want to become involved in a same-gender wedding, that person should collect the names of the couple, date, time, etc. up-front and then “check the calendar” to see if the schedule permits; then come back and tell the couple that the date is booked and the request cannot be accommodated. That’s strictly business; there’s no real business need to say anything more. Turn away enough couples and word will spread far enough that only an equally selective clientele will find its way to the door.]
… A far more potentially pernicious case involving business owners and free speech rights started brewing a couple weeks ago – the decision by NFL owners regarding players’ presence and posture during the pre-game patriotic ceremony (sponsored by the US military), which includes a display of the American flag that is actually in violation of the uniform flag code. If you don’t think this issue is all that important, consider these points:
Let’s remember why the players are kneeling – to call attention to the reality that our nation is failing to fully live up to the ideals embodied in symbols like the flag and the pledge and the anthem. (And as a practicing Christian and pastor, I really want to know when and how kneeling became disrespectful, since we kneel a number of times in church.) Add this episode to the ever-growing list of lack of accountability when police officers act as judges, juries, and executioners of black men who were, at worst, guilty only of misdemeanor offenses that never involve the death penalty:
Finally, a long form piece from The Atlantic (which will take an hour or so to read) exploring the “the 9.9%” … who, although they lack the financial leverage of the 0.1% to buy politicians, elections, or set policy, nevertheless cooperate with policies and help build the walls that ensure wealth and privilege accrue to them and theirs only, while loudly and proudly proclaiming it’s all about personal merits … as though anyone and everyone could earn a place … if only he (or she) would try hard enough. This has generated some push-back by those who want to focus only on the 1% or just the 0.1%. But household wealth covers a wide spectrum; there aren’t sharp breaks between one layer of income ranges and another … and there is still some wiggle room over the course of a person’s life. But the blend of analysis, observation, and family history in this is worth consideration. Read it and weep – or get angry. Anger is a sign that something needs to change; this will give you ideas about what needs changing.