November 6, 2011 |
Aging members of America's middle class worry about retirement, and for good reason. When the TV talking heads aren't reminding us about plummeting house prices, they're speculating about not whether but by how much politicians will cut Social Security and Medicare benefits. And the financial and economic crises of the last several years have left the country 10% poorer, obliterating $6.1 trillion in wealth, a healthy chunk of which was in retirement savings. The country's financial crisis came at a particularly bad time.
August 8, 2012 |
The U.S. Postal Serviceis in trouble, and there's no telling whether it will survive. It's been battered by the Internet and a dragging economy, besieged by commercial competitors and stymied in its efforts to trim a costly web of post offices and delivery routes. On Aug. 1, it defaulted on a $5.5-billion payment to the U.S. Treasury for future retiree health benefits. Some think that it's time to privatize the service, bringing an end to one of our oldest federal institutions. The outlook is grim, though the crisis is not unprecedented.
December 27, 2010 |
Article 1 of California's Constitution broadly declares that privacy is among our inalienable rights. But the laws enforcing this right are from another era, and our constitutional protection is being undermined. For example, the law requires the consent of both parties before recording telephone calls and restricts official snooping in our private business. Yet some of California's biggest companies, such as Google and Facebook, violate our privacy daily by tracking us online and collecting massive amounts of private information without our explicit consent.
April 16, 2010 |
Kerry Killinger, the deposed head of Washington Mutual, was in Congress this week protesting that the seizure of the Seattle-based bank on Sept. 25, 2008, was not only premature, it was "unfair." Had WaMu only been placed on the "do not short list" and thus protected from those nasty Wall Street speculators. Had WaMu only been allowed to live a few weeks longer, it could have benefited from the increase in federal deposit insurance (the per-person limit was raised to $250,000 from $100,000)
May 5, 2013
Re "Obama vows alliance with Mexico ," May 3 In trying to reduce the violence in Mexico, President Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto are doing a hat dance around the obvious solution. As repugnant as it may be to some, decriminalizing drug use would quickly accomplish a number of goals: Drug cartels would lose billions of dollars, hampering their ability to corrupt public officials; law enforcement on both sides of the border would gain much-needed man-hours for use in fighting serious crimes; and billions of dollars wasted annually on a fruitless drug war could be recouped for use in bolstering the economy.
November 14, 2011 |
Last year, the medical technology firm Numira Biosciences packed its bags and left Irvine for Salt Lake City. When asked about the firm's departure, its chief executive praised Utah's quality of life but also blamed California's business environment for the move. "The tipping point was when someone from the Orange County tax [assessor] wanted to see our facility to tax every piece of equipment I had," Michael Beeuwsaert told the Orange County Register. For years, California could rely on its temperate climate and a talented workforce to attract and keep businesses even as taxes and regulations increased.
February 9, 2011
For years it was a bogeyman for those discomfited by immigration, particularly from Mexico: The United States was evolving into two nations, only one of which would speak English. If it was ever true, which is doubtful, it isn't now. A 2007 report by the Pew Foundation found that, though only 23% of Latino immigrants spoke English very well, the figure rose to 88% for their adult children and 94% in the third generation. Time is the ally of assimilation, not segregation. That hasn't stopped the anxiety about non-English speakers, reflected in the applause Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo received during the 2008 campaign when he complained about having to "press 1 for English.
July 31, 2011
Jonathan Turley is probably not the most popular man right now with supporters of same-sex marriage. The George Washington University law professor has filed a suit challenging the constitutionality of Utah's anti-polygamy laws — and his argument is based on a landmark 2003 Supreme Court gay rights decision. That's not good news in the view of most gay rights supporters, who don't want their cause linked to that of polygamists any more than they want to see parallels drawn with people who engage in incest, bestiality and other taboo sexual practices.
August 13, 2012
In the pantheon of life's annoyances, there's nothing quite as expletive-inducing as hitting a pothole. Potholes jar the psyche as well as the car, the bicycle and, occasionally, the feet, leaving behind a trail of broken axles, flat tires and sprained ankles. No wonder some residents of Holmby Hills were so frustrated by the craters on their streets that they threatened to secede from Los Angeles and annex themselves to Beverly Hills. A blight as well as a safety hazard, a pothole seems so simple to fix. It's not like carving into the Sepulveda Pass to widen the 405 Freeway.
February 3, 2012 |
Last fall, Los Angeles took a hard line on school nutrition. In an attempt to mold better eating habits in kids, the Los Angeles Unified School District eliminated flavored milk, chicken nuggets and other longtime childhood favorites. But instead of making kids healthier, the changes sent students fleeing from school cafeterias. There have been reports of a thriving trade in black-market junk food, of pizzas delivered to side doors and of family-sized bags of chips being brought from home.