Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Groupthink & Hagel

Here is a piece occasioned by the firing of Chuck Hagel

 Metrowest Daily News

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Cautionary tale about voter suppression

At MetroWest Daily News

Monday, October 27, 2014

Romney as Precedent

The Globe Editors must have a very short memory.

In the dim and distant part, an attractive Republican with known managerial experience and progressive social values presented himself as a candidate for governor. He was elected and reelected for a second term.

However during his second term he developed national ambitions and shifted from his pro-choice, pro-gay position to the opposite end of the spectrum so as to appeal to  Republican voters in Red states..

Does the Globe really want the risk of history repeating itself.

Sent to Boston Globe

Sunday, October 26, 2014

CEO Compensation

The best way to close the divide between CEO pay and that of ordinary workers (Efforts to regulate CEO pay gain traction. Boston Globe, October 25th., 2014. G1, G3)  is to share the bonuses. After all, every employee from janitor to CEO has contributed to the firm's success, so they should all share the rewards.

Set up a salary system with appropriate differences between each level in the organization then, at year's end, give everyone the same percent of salary as bonus. CEO's will still get more money than janitors but all will get a compensation boost.

We don't need legislation; his is the fair way to do it.

Sent to Boston Globe

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The next war: Financing

Linda Bilmes is right -- we do not have a game plan for the financing of the next war on evil. We need one. I would suggest a surcharge of ten percent on all income taxes. This will have minimal impact on the poorest among us but will raise an adequate amount of money from those able to afford the extra taxes.

Alternatively, we could make the surcharge refundable when the payer pasees 70. This would enforce saving for ones old age but that would not amount to much for the poor who need it most. So it is not quite a win-win.

Sent to Boston Globe

CEO Compensation

Mr Sirota (letters, October 8th. 2014) links two things that do not need to be linked at all.

The first is the pressing need for the public sector to afford all the things hat we, as citizens, have demanded that it do. This means more income for government. Higher taxes on income might be one way of doing that. Alternatives include taxing financial transactions which I support, or changing the expenditure side by cutting back on subsidies to corporations (which I might support)) and entitlements like Health Insurance or Social Security, which I do not support.

The second is the ratio of an employees wage to that of the top executive. Mr. Sirota is right, the CEO is not in the set of people to which the ordinary worker compares his or her self. However, he ratio has got out of hand. One solution to reducing the inequality would be for firms to adopt a policy in which when bonuses are issued to top managers an equal percent bonus also be issued to all employees. After all, each in their modest way has contributed to the overall success of the firm.

Such a policy would, I believe, enhance morale in the firm.

Sent to New York Times

Friday, September 26, 2014

Governors Race 2014

So Martha Coakley and Charlie Baker are running neck to neck in the latest polls.

We Massachusetts liberals need to beg the President to do two things:
-- Nominate Martha Coakley to be Attorney General of the United States. She would do a terrific job.
-- Reappoint Steve Grossman as Chair of the Democratic National Committee. He's a terrific fundraiser.

This would give Donald Berwick, the democrat with the best chance of beating Charlie Baker, the opportunity to run against Baker.

If only .....

Sent to Boston Globe

Friday, August 1, 2014

Adjunct Facukty

There is a role for adjuncts in the academic community. When the University's local environment contains a person with a special expertise. In such a case, the education experience of the students is deepened by having such a person teach a course in her/his specialty.

However the practice of employing adjuncts as major contributors to the University's teaching function is appalling. I agree that they should unionize. As well as the economic and psychological divide described by Professor Rotella (Boston Globe,Aug 1, 2014)  there are two other dysfunctional consequences.

First there is a smaller pool of talent on campus to draw on for administrative duties. Perhaps this is why there has been a proliferation of full-time administrators -- there just aren't enough full time faculty to take on portions of those roles as part of their service contribution.

Second, the University is in the business of creating as well as disseminating knowledge. Having a large number of faculty members whose responsibilities do not include research diminishes the research production and hence the development of intellectual seed corn for the nation's future.

We must return to the days of specialist adjuncts rather than those who are generalists hired to provide lecture fodder for introductory courses.

Sent to Boston Globe

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

GMO Labeling

GMO labeling is not only about Science (GMO labeling bill lacks a scientific justification. Boston Globe, July 30, 2014: A10). It is also about economics.

Efficient markets require informed buyers and sellers. The labeling of GMO products helps informs the buyers as to what they are purchasing.

Having these labels will also encourage scientists to provide convincing evidence that GMO products are harmless; or, at least, to communicate that evidence effectively.

Sent to Boston Globe

Monday, June 30, 2014

It was fascinating to read that a majority of members of the Supreme Court support a single payer system for contraceptive coverage for the employees of for-profit companies with closely held ownership whose owners hold sincere religious beliefs..

I hope they will expand that view and insist on single payer insurance coverage for all ailments for all Americans.

Sent to New York Times

Illinois Personal Assistant Case

The Supreme Court in its recent decision,, affirms that " no person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party.

However, there was no subsidizing of speech. the non-members of the SEIU were paying a "fee for services" to the Union for collective bargaining services and not paying to support the broader political aims of the Union.

We have come to a pretty pass when a majority of the members the Supreme Court of the United States cannot (or are unwilling to) make this distinction.

Sent to Boston Globe

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

In Favor of an Anti-Lying Law

I disagree with Tom Keane that forbidding a lie has no place in politics (Boston Globe, June 22, 2014.
I sympathize that some hyperbole and exaggeration are inevitable in political campaigns. However lies can be damaging and if repeated over and over again become utterly believable so that attempts to correct the lie become viewed as incorrect.
I would suggest that it is time to amend the First Amendment. We need a mendacity amendment. 
This would not prevent politicians from lying -- after all in the heat of the moment a little exaggeration can be expected. 
However, once a statement had been judged to be a lie by independent observers, the politician who had uttered the lie would be prohibited from repeating it: in person, over the airwaves, in newspaper reports, in fliers. Surrogates and the politician's allies, party and campaign staff, as well as friendly PAC's would also suffer this prohibition. 
The Federal Elections Commission would be responsible for enforcing this rule.
This would allow for exaggeration but forbid it becoming institutionalized.

Sent to Boston Globe

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

In Massachusetts, Politics Trumps Science

Representative Capuano and Senator Warren should be ashamed.

The scientific consensus was that the MIT fusion lab was less effective than the two other fusion labs in the nation.

The politicians overturned that scientific decision and released funding for the MIT lab. Where will that money come form? What more promising scientific endeavors will be truncated because of this political interference.

We decry the behavior of the politicians from the coal and oil states who prevent us from acting on the scientific consensus on climate change. It seems that when Massachusetts' interests are at stake, our politicians are no better.

This event was not a cause for celebration. It shows once again that politics trumps science.

Sent to Boston Globe