Commentary & Opinion

Michael Meeropol: Required Reading

Jul 3, 2015

I would like to strongly recommend that everyone listening to this broadcast immediately go out and buy a short book (you can read it in one sitting) called THE COLLAPSE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway.  (NY:  Columbia University Press, 2014)  They had previous collaborated on a highly regarded book MERCHANTS OF DOUBT (NY and London:  Bloomsbury Publishing, 2011) in which they investigated the ability of large corporations (initially tobacco companies) to sow doubt about strong scientific findings that would, if followed, cut into their bottom lines.  In the case of tobacco, the companies were able to stave off the day of reckoning for decades.  Their success literally killed people. 

Sean Philpott-Jones: A Glossip v Gross Injustice

Jul 2, 2015

After years of disappointment, political progressives like myself had a lot to cheer about this past week. The US Supreme Court, which in recent rulings has struck blows against organized labor and exempted some for-profit businesses from the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act, handed the left wing a number of stunning victories.

Herbert London: What We Will Do For A Deal

Jul 1, 2015

Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei publicly rejected a key component of the nuclear deal when he said: “We don’t accept a 10 year restriction” on the development of nuclear weapons. Moreover, he noted, “all economic, financial, and banking sanctions implemented either by the United Nations Security Council, the United States Congress or the administration, must be lifted immediately when the deal is signed.” Both of these unequivocal statements clearly challenge understandings in the framework.

I’ve been celebrating like many of you over the marriage equality and Obamacare decisions last Thursday and Friday. But my own celebrations are tempered by the realization that these two cases don’t symbolize any shift on the Court. Kennedy’s libertarian philosophy has paid dividends in the gay rights controversy for years. But the decision last November to hear the case challenging whether federal health exchanges could provide subsidies to those without the money to buy a health plan unassisted, turned into a trap.[1] The scale of damage that would have been done by blocking the subsidies made it impossible even for opponents of the program to shut it down. Nothing in the decision suggests that Kennedy had a change of heart about having wanted to declare it unconstitutional, and nothing suggests that Roberts had a change of heart about narrowing the commerce power, even though he had approved the individual mandate in the statute as a tax. Twenty years ago, Thomas wrote he would consider going back to the Court’s very restrictive definition of federal powers before 1937 when President Franklin Roosevelt’s appointments changed the Court’s philosophy. Apparently Scalia and Alito are on Board with him.

Bill Owens: An Angel Fund In The North Country?

Jun 30, 2015

In the nearly thirty-five years that I have been involved as an attorney, bank director, member of Congress and volunteer in economic development, one of the most pressing issues by business consistently is the lack of startup capital.

The 2015 legislative session wrapped up last week, one week later than scheduled.  During the last 2 weeks of session, nearly 540 bills passed both houses.  But the big story was the last bill approved – the “Big Ugly.”

David Nightingale: Franklin's Electricity

Jun 28, 2015

At the time of the Declaration of Independence it wasn't known what electricity was. A fluid, perhaps? Or a fire?

Herbert Wolff Reviews "The How and the Why"

Jun 26, 2015

Friction and discomfort are apparent from the moment Rachel tosses her backpack on a chair in the classic Ivy League office of Professor Zelda Kahn.  They are meeting for the first time, on the eve of a major biology conference.  The edginess on the part of both women continues throughout The How and the Why – the play now on stage at Shakespeare & Company.  This tension colors and, indeed, “grows” the play.

You Make It Happen

Jun 26, 2015

As we enter the summer months, our gardens are flourishing, our children and grandchildren are swimming and the programming on WAMC changes ever so subtly. For example, WAMC is proud to play every Boston Symphony Orchestra concert from Tanglewood. What could possible be better than sitting under the stars, listening to the best music ever composed?

Two words — “sharp dissent” — are not normally used in the same sentence as “New York State Board of Regents.”