Commentary & Opinion

On February 21, David Brooks wrote an OP ED for the New York Times entitled, “This Century is Broken.” 

Herbert London: Revanchism And Crisis Management

Mar 1, 2017

Revanchism, from the French revanche or “revenge”, is the will to reverse territorial losses following war or social movement. The dismantling of the Soviet Union, to cite one example, has led to a Putinesque policy of irredentism, the reclamation of territory once within the Soviet orbit. In a strange way revanchism has become the twenty- first contrary foreign policy perspective.

What If?

Mar 1, 2017

A while back, I told you that the Trump White House was on track to eliminate funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (the organization that provides some federal funds for public broadcasters like WAMC) and the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. We know that the Breitbart organization, formerly run by senior White House Advisor Steve Bannon, had called for the privatization of the CPB. When I mentioned that on WAMC, the money came rolling in and we made history. I suggested that each time we have a fund drive we tack on an extra $133,000 that would add up to the $400,000 CPB contributes to our $7,000,000 budget. You were smart enough to make sure we got it.

Stephen Gottlieb: Choose Life

Feb 28, 2017

I want to focus on a serious issue that is being ignored in favor of all kinds of fake news and grandstanding. In college, I took a course on demography. That means we were looking at the explosion of population in parts of the world, which then leveled off, but at much higher levels than before. Everything we are struggling with in this twenty-first century is related to that explosion of population.

Hilary Dunne Ferrone: Finding The Silver Lining

Feb 28, 2017

I consider this my “silver lining” segment. You’ll likely understand why in a moment.

Recently, a Congressional committee once again took aim at New York State Attorney General Schneiderman and his investigation of oil-giant ExxonMobil.  The action was a subpoena issued by Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas. Representative Smith is the chair of the United States House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.  His subpoena is to obtain internal records from the New York State Attorney General’s investigation of ExxonMobil, which may be intended as a way to derail any action.

Ben Downing: Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities

Feb 26, 2017

In the early stages of 2017, there is seemingly much to be happy about in Massachusetts. The state’s unemployment rate is at a very low 2.8% and a record numbers of Massachusetts residents have found work. More than many other states, our combination of higher education, healthcare and high tech institutions and companies has positioned Mass to thrive in the 21st century economy.

Ralph Gardner JR: Soul Of The Cat

Feb 25, 2017

Only once did a walk in the woods upstate disappoint me. It happened in the spring of 2015 shortly after my family and I returned from a safari in Botswana.

Karen Magee: Everyone Should Pay Their Fair Share

Feb 24, 2017

New York is a big, diverse state, with a long list of societal needs.

Judith Enck: Assault On Our Environment

Feb 23, 2017

It is hard to overstate the seriousness of the Trump Administration’s assault on environmental protection. 

Herbert London: Democracy v. Republic

Feb 22, 2017

Plato argued that democracy by its very nature cannot work. The direct involvement of the people in the affairs of state will lead to a situation where takers outnumber givers thereby rendering the economy precarious. But that isn’t the only issue the demos introduces. Direct participation can lead to the belief a majority rules denying the rights of minorities or there is justification for “the people” to take matters into their own hands.

Stephen Gottlieb: Investing In The Environment

Feb 21, 2017

The White House isn’t explaining government’s environmental options.

It’s budget season in Albany and higher education issues are getting lots of attention.  It’s about time. 

The governor has done a lot to promote the state’s program to boost breast cancer screening rates.  He spent considerable time advocating for the expanded program and made it a centerpiece of his 2016 State of the State address.  But cancer is not only a women’s issue, it affects all of us. 

David Nightingale: Smart Meters And Microwaves

Feb 19, 2017
Talbott/National Institute of Standards and Technology / Wikimedia Commons

This essay is about the 'smart' technology that many utility companies have introduced, and to which there is a degree of nationwide opposition.

Ralph Gardner Jr: A Walk In The Woods

Feb 18, 2017

Here’s a suggestion for unsettling times: take a walk in the woods. I notice I’ve been doing a lot more of that lately.

Bill Owens: A Positive Step With Canada

Feb 18, 2017

The atmosphere at the White House appeared cordial with the Prime Minister wearing a charming smile which appeared to coax the President out of his usual scowl.

Rogovoy Report 2/17/17

Feb 17, 2017

The cultural highlights in our region this weekend include comedy; chamber music; modern jazz; multimedia; new plays; vocal music; and a whole lot more.

Ben Downing: Democratic Strategy In The Trump Era

Feb 16, 2017

Much has been made of how Democratic elected officials are pushing back against the Republican administration’s agenda. Whether it’s Attorneys General filing suit around the President’s executive order banning refugees or Senators pushing back against irresponsible cabinet appointees; all of these actions are necessary, but they are not sufficient.

If one relies on Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy In America, the great strength of the U.S. in the nineteenth century was its mediating structure that maintained social equilibrium. By that, Tocqueville meant the family, the church, the schools and the alliances – institutions that created coherence and solidarity without reliance on government.

Stephen Gottlieb: Labor Economics

Feb 14, 2017

The White House isn’t explaining what’s happening to jobs. I once taught labor economics, an issue close to my heart. To some extent, labor is like any other commodity and that’s the problem. Jobs go wherever business can find all the things it needs – the land, transportation, materials, markets, reliable legal relations, at the right prices. And it keeps changing.

On January 31, there were two articles about Donald Trump that had him saying two diametrically opposed things. The topic was whether or not Medicare should be able to negotiate the price of drugs bought for the Part D insurance program. Under the 2003 law which set up Medicare Part D, Medicare is explicitly barred from negotiating drug prices with their suppliers. The Veterans Administration, by contrast, is permitted to do so and saves about 40% compared to Medicare, Part D. For details see “What if Medicare’s drug benefit were more like the VA’s” at http://theincidentaleconomist.com/wordpress/what-if-medicares-drug-benefit-was-more-like-the-vas/

It’s not only winter in Albany, it’s budget season—arguably the biggest and most important job for the Legislature each year.  Once the governor proposes his budget, it’s up to the Legislature to decide how to react.  Every year, both houses of the Legislature hold joint hearings to look into what the governor has proposed.  This year is no different.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Valentine's Chocolates For Men

Feb 11, 2017
Valentine's Day Candy
John Hritz from Ann Arbor, MI, USA / Wikimedia Commons

I’ve got a confession to make. I buy Valentine’s candy. For myself.

No, of course I’m not talking about those large, red velvety, heart-shaped boxes filled with assorted chocolates.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Valentine's Chocolates For Men

Feb 11, 2017

I’ve got a confession to make. I buy Valentine’s candy. For myself.

No, of course I’m not talking about those large, red velvety, heart-shaped boxes filled with assorted chocolates.

I purchase those for my wife and daughters. And I buy local, by the way. At Vasilow’s an old-time candy store in Hudson, NY.

But if I did acquire for personal consumption a box bursting with raspberry crèmes, sea salt caramels, and chocolate covered cashews, so what? Who came up with the dorky notion that the bounty of Valentine’s Day should be reserved for the female sex?

Paul Caiano's Midday Forecast

Feb 10, 2017
Newschannel 13 Meteorologist Paul Caiano
WNYT

Newschannel 13 meteorologist Paul Caiano delivers the Midday Weather Summary for Friday, February 10, 2017.

Hilary Dunne Ferrone: Nonprofit Special Events

Feb 9, 2017

Recently, I attended a local arts organization’s annual fundraiser. The night started with a fun cocktail party which included an inspiring and gracious speech by the board chair, followed by a wonderful dinner.  It made me think about what makes a successful event, why events miss the mark, and what fundraising alternatives could be more effective.

Sean Philpott-Jones: Put Your Hands Up And Drop the Kleenex

Feb 9, 2017

For the past week, mainstream, alternative, and social media outlets here in the United States and abroad have been consumed with discussion and debate about the legality and morality of President Trump’s recent travel ban. However, the so-called Muslim travel ban is not the only set of potentially controversial restrictions put into place recently.

Herbert London: Fading U.S. Influence In Asia

Feb 8, 2017

If one requires any evidence that the United States is a fading power, the recent events in the South China Sea offer ample evidence. Two Chinese fighter jets intercepted U.S. military reconnaissance aircraft and, to add to the humiliation rebuked the Obama administration for any surveillance near China. The incident took place in international airspace on what has been described as a “routine U.S. patrol.” This latest encounter comes on the heels of another interception in which Chinese jets mimicked an all-out attack on a U.S. naval vessel that sailed close to a disputed reef. These are merely two recent war like actions by the Chinese in a series of interception since 2014.

Stephen Gottlieb: Pledge Drive And Public Radio

Feb 7, 2017

I wrote this commentary assuming it would be extra incentive to contribute. Instead it is a time for celebration and appreciation. A one-day fund drive – WOW. So let me say a bit about some of the things that your contributions accomplished.

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