It's been quite a week. The most gun deaths since records have been kept. A child dying in federal custody. A president awash in legal and moral issues. A first lady complaining. Another cabinet member, and a cowboy at that, riding out of town. A job opening in the White House that nobody really wants. And, that's just at the federal level. Meanwhile a congressman from Iowa gets schooled about the iPhone and the failure of our health system gets placed front and center. Welcome to Sunday Morning Coffee...where to start.
A Dead Child
Just, for a moment, try to understand why a father and his seven year old daughter would travel from a remote area of Guatemala to the U.S. border with Mexico. No doubt it was for the same reason many of your ancestors left their world in Europe for a new beginning in America. We can quibble about legal or illegal all day but the fact that people from outside of our borders see the United States as a place of refuge and opportunity is not in question. If there is anything that is illegal about the humanitarian crisis on our southern border it is that the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has decided that following U.S. law when it comes to asylum seekers should be put aside. Why? Because they are brown people who do not speak English and that works with his base.
And then, when a tragedy like this unfolds, blame the father of Jakelin Caal Maquin for having the audacity to seek a better life. Meanwhile new reports quoting the father indicate Jakelin did drink and eat during their journey and that the journey was mostly by bus. An investigation is on going. Meanwhile, the lamp has been dimmed.
That is the number of deaths, attributed to guns, in the United States for 2017. The vast majority of those deaths (23,854) came from suicides and of that number white men and white women contributed to a total of 21,740 of deaths. However it is white males that dominated the statistic as 18,759 of them took their own lives with a firearm. Might that say something about our focus on mental health or a widening gap in our society awareness or on our fascination with gun ownership? I dunno...but it is frightening.
Meanwhile of the 39,773 people who lost their lives due to guns 7,661 black men died as a result of homicide. White men number 4,289 and white women 1,395 while the number of black women killed numbers 843.
Plainly put 109 people died every day of the year in 2017 due to gun violence. And we do...nothing.
I remember the debate well. My Father z'l worked in the auto industry in Detroit. It was 1968 and the automakers were fighting to keep the United States from mandating seat belts in vehicles. For years lobbyists from Detroit descended on Washington D.C. to plead their case saying that seat belts would prove to costly, would not cut motor vehicle fatalities, that had risen to over 52,000 deaths that year alone. The federal government, that year, mandated seat belts and in coming years automakers have worked on creating safer vehicles including over the shoulder belts, air bags and headrests.
In other words...we actually did something and last year fewer people died in vehicles than died due to guns. So, don't tell me we can't enact sensible gun laws even when the minority says we should not.
Health Care Insurance
The debate continues over the Affordable Care Act which, in the end, is not so "affordable" and getting worse. The recent ruling by a judge in Texas saying that the ACA is unconstitutional, which of course will be appealed, may shine a light once again on the horrible condition of health care in the United States. We live in a nation where spending on health care is out of control and the outcomes continue to go south. Our health care insurance system is a model of inefficiency and a disaster for our national productivity. It is, in a word, unsustainable.
If you are fortunate enough to have health insurance from your employer consider yourself lucky...for a bit longer because it is not going to last. Your employer has been getting rate increases of 10, 15, 22 percent every year. Some take the hit but a growing number of employers are passing those costs on to you in increased payments and deductibles. At some point, and in the very near future, business is going to say, "Enough! We have had enough!" and you, my friend, will be faced with finding your own way forward.
It is time to give the health care insurance industry the boot and demand that the federal government offer a plan that covers each and every American. It works in other nations and it would work here too. However, way too many of our political class are groveling at the feet of the sinful insurance industry. It's time to change direction.
The state budget will be stretched even further as this past week we learned that the cost of insuring children in moderate income households here will go from $7 million a year to $37 million a year in the next two years. Meanwhile the revenue estimating committee says state income will start to shrink during that same time period as revenues from tax dollar decrease.
The buzzards have come home to roost. I have written, for what seems like years, that continued financial gifts to already successful companies combined with the insanity of lowering taxes on corporations and the wealthy, combined with shifting taxes from corporations to individuals, combined with continued attacks on workers rights to organize and bargain would...at some point...come back to haunt us.
That time...my friends...is now.
In less than a month the GOP will come back to the Iowa Legislature and demand more cuts in taxes, more cuts in education, more cuts in health care. At the same time they will attempt to pass legislation that will do more harm to Iowans. Every lying Republican that ran for election said mental health was important. Said education was important. Said jobs and wages were important. They are lying to you because their actions, clearly, do not match their words.
Those three issues, if the Democrats pound on them every day of the session. At every community meeting. At every town hall. At every meet and greet. At every event where a presidential wanna-be comes sashaying into our midst. Jobs, Education, Healthcare...three simple yet effective topics Democrats win with. Why...because actions speak volumes. Best of all by sticking to finding logical solutions to those three issues our friends in Rural Iowa will come to understand that it really is people over corporations and that when we all win...we all win.
There was half a day last week when I had a taste of "retirement". For some reason is was a particularly quiet day. There were no deadlines, my broadcast interviews were already "in the can", I didn't have any pressing meetings. Nada...I sat in my office, feet on the desk and thought, "Hmmmm...retirement?".
Nope. That lasted exactly sixty seconds and the next thing I knew I was writing a new blog post for a client, researching a topic on the economy and making notes for the next broadcast. Maybe it was all a reflection on the fact that a long-time friend, Dave Busiek the News Director over at KCCI-TV8 hung up his career after nearly 40 years in the business. He had been news director there since 1990. Times change but Dave's commitment to his craft never wavered. So, I thought about that a bit...and then went back to work. I wish him well but decided I'm not there yet. Way too much to do.
Besides, in a poll out today Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden lead all contenders in the 2020 race. Retirement? Nah...
Thanks for reading and have a great Sunday!