For those of you who are celebrating the Christian holiday of Christmas...may you have a wonderful event. May your days be filled with fantastic memories of family and friends. Take advantage of the peace the day will bring. Meanwhile our nation is in chaos and some folks are just fine with that. Welcome to Sunday Morning Coffee my weekly look at some of the news stories you've seen or, perhaps, missed. All laced with my commentary. Let's go...
Why It Matters
Let this set in for a moment: When the Dow opens on Monday, and unless there is a major reversal, December 2018 will go down as the worst performing month for the index since (get ready) 1931. For those of you who might not be aware that was in the midst of The Great Depression an event that touched every person in America and ushered in World War II.
Some would indicate the markets are in correction because of over-valued stock. Some will suggest that it is an over-reach of investors because the Fed is "normalizing" monetary policy. Allow me to offer another reason you have lost thousands of collars in your 401k: Chaos. Think of it for a moment. We are experiencing record employment, an economy that, for some, is humming along at over 3% GDP. This should not be happening...but it is. Why? The United States is no longer seen as a nation of stability and leadership. Want some examples?
- We have hung our allies out to twist in the wind;
- We set policy in 280 words on Twitter;
- We have picked economic suicide and trade wars that cripple expansion;
- We have a healthcare system that is the most expensive and least effective among the industrialized nations;
- Income inequality continues to dog our citizens, some working two and three jobs to stay afloat;
- Our national debt is skyrocketing to a point where future generations will be hamstrung with massive tax increases;
- We have embraced nations that are wicked and brutal toward the freedoms we once espoused;
- We demonize people who are brown, black and seeking legal protection under our laws;
- Our national infrastructure is crumbling and nobody seems to care;
- And, we shut down our government over a "vanity wall".
Is it any wonder? And, what is stunning is that roughly 36 percent of the electorate are just fine with all of that.
In case you've run out of things to worry about major drug companies are set to increase prices on a host of drugs that Americas take in their ever failing attempt at getting healthy. Novartis, and Bayer are among nearly 30 drugmakers that have taken steps to raise the U.S. prices of their medicines in January. Other drug makers set to raise prices early next year include Allergan, GlaxoSmithKline, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Biogen and the list goes on...and on. True "45" has said he would force drug companies to the table but, they too, recognize that he holds little power as he fights battles to save his own skin and says the hell to you and your family.
Let Them Eat Cake
It would be nearly laughable if it were not so cruel. Here in Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and her crowd have just responded to the American Federation of State and County Municipal Employees (AFSCME) with a proposal that calls for a one percent raise. One percent while the GOP controlled legislature is set to convene and dole out even more gifts to already wealthy corporations. Business groups across the state are already at work seeking to pad their member coffers with even more tax incentives that they say will grow jobs and income levels in Iowa. And, it will....IF you are fortunate enough to be at the top of the income level.
Money Magazine just ranked West Des Moines, Iowa as the best place to live in the Hawkeye State. The findings tell us that the median household income there is $77,923 and the median home costs $350,000. No doubt that is a place where many, many AFSCME workers reside because, as we all know, union workers get paid way too much for the little work they actually...do. What is stunning about the report is as you sift through the 50 states some stunning numbers pop out. Median incomes that range between $100,000 and $102,000 where the price of a home comes in at $450,000 and up. Talk about tone deaf... Here is a link to the story.
A recent study tells us that one in six working Iowa households can not meet basic needs. One...in...six. What are those "basic needs"? Oh, little things like rent, food, health care, transportation...taxes. But it gets worse. The United Way ALICE report (Asset-Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) including all Iowa households with at least one full-time worker says that 457,044 households or 37 percent of the state's total, are unable to meet basic needs.
But, never mind....Money Magazine and the Governor of Iowa says we're doing just fine..thank you very much.
We Don't Get It
I was having a conversation with a white friend the other day that centered on how great things are in America. And, to his point, compared to the standard of living in say...Bangladesh things here are pretty damn rosey. The conversation drifted into law enforcement and our treatment of people who are not...white.
He told me that people who are stopped by the police should just comply with an officer who stops a person on the street and demands identification. "Look, I would have no problem in offering the police officer my ID because I respect law enforcement."
"So do I", I replied. "But, what if you were asked to produce identification simply for walking down the street?" He suggested that doesn't happen and that there must be some justification for the stop. When I mentioned that, in at least two cases in the Greater Des Moines Metro, a person in a predominantly white neighborhood called the police because a man of color was seen going door-to-door prior the the recent election working on behalf of a candidate and in one of those stops resulted in a black man being arrested he said, "So, what did he do to provoke the officer?"
Uhm...walking down the street in a white neighborhood and the officer in question, rather than de-escalating the confrontation did the opposite...
Nope, we don't get it.
Hey, thanks for reading and, again, may you and your family have a peaceful and meaningful Christmas. Not sure about you but I've not come face to face with the "War on Christmas" but maybe you have. So, let this Jewish person with you a Merry Christmas...and let is go.
But, remember that at your holiday party include some veggies and non-pork items. You never know who might be attending. Right?
Thanks for reading...