Welcome to this blog which is dedicated to providing a forum for a civil discourse on a variety of issues to try and make our society a truly better place for all. While the views expressed are strictly my personal opinions, please feel free to join in on these conversations accepting the premises that every attempt will be made to ensure that nothing but the truth be spoken and the truth be heard.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Potpourri II

For a second time I find my "out basket" overflowing with items to the extent that just presenting random topics in shotgun fashion for comment is the most expedient way to purge that list, thus  enabling more directed and focused commentary in future blogs.  With rapid fire, multi-faceted news cycles being the order of the day, I suspect this will not be the last of my POTPOURRI postings, but here goes.

1. UPDATE OF HEALTH CARE EXPERIENCE:  One of my readers called me to task for labeling our health care system as "the finest in the world" two weeks ago while relating my personal experience with a cut finger which required four stitches and over four hours to fix.  Among other things she cited was the high incidence of staph infection that occurs in our hospitals, as well as the general level of care patients receive while admitted.  While I have no statistics on either and additional information would be appreciated, I was mainly referring to the number and quality of the medical facilities themselves.

2. KUDOS TO LITTLE ROCK CENTRAL HIGH:  Once again Little Rock Central High School led the state in the number of National Merit Semifinalists with 15 out of a total of 142.  Congratulations to those students, their teachers, the staff at Central and the Little Rock School District for this stellar achievement.

3. ELECTRIFICATION OF CITY AND STATE:  With the advent of electric vehicles the challenge for cities and states across the nation will be to provide a sufficient number of electrical power grids to the many stations that will be required to recharge these vehicles, as revealed in a recent article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.  Nationwide we are operating at 50% of generating capacity, and one power plant in the southern part of our state is operating at only 24% capacity (re: ON THE HORNS OF A DILEMMA dated March 28,2010).  Consequently, Arkansas, as well as the City of Little Rock, may well be in a good spot to capitalize on this potential demand.

4. "MEANEST CITY IN AMERICA" TAG AGAIN?:  Several years ago Little Rock was labeled as the "Meanest City in America" as a result of its push to shut down all of the homeless camps that existed.  Thankfully, after a hue and cry from many homeless service providers in the city, that push was quickly abandoned.  But now there seems to be a move afoot to pass a series of controlling ordinances that are directed specifically at the homeless including where they go, whom they encounter, what they drink and how they are fed.  The real solution has been, is and always will be providing the much talked about resource center which again is the subject of an article in our local newspaper today.  We will soon celebrate the tenth anniversary of the much touted 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness without achieving its main recommendation - that resource center.  How much longer is it going to take?    

5. WHY CAN'T WE LEARN FROM HISTORY?:  As the votes continue to be counted in the recent election in Afghanistan, we learn of increased violence, voting irregularities and prevailing corruption with little assurance that things will markedly improve between now and next year when a proposed draw down may begin.  With its many tribes, conflicts, warlords and increased Taliban presence and influence, is it realistic to think that Afghanistan can be converted into a centralized modern democracy from our mold even with the might of our military?  I have listened to the many explanations of why our policy there is justified, but I remain unconvinced given the horrendous cost in terms of lives and treasury.

6. MADE IN AMERICA POST SCRIPT:  It was with some feeling of validation that I read in the September 10th issue of the New York Times Digest provided daily by a friend (thanks Tom) that President Obama was quoted as saying "We've got to go back to making things" (re: Blogs of 08/01 and 08/20).   To that end he has appointed a Harvard MBA, Mr. Ron Bloom, as a special adviser to help address the problem by creating tax credits and subsidies (the subject of a future blog unto itself) to kick-start the private sector to manufacture a wide variety of new clean energy products like wind turbines, solar panels and electric car batteries (see item #3 above).  The main obstacle will be to overcome China's alleged practice of illegally subsidizing those very same products to gain an unfair competitive advantage.

7. SUPPLYING SKILLED WORKERS TO MEET DEMAND:  In that very same issue of the NYT Digest mentioned above was a column by David Brooks that focused on how we have become what he terms "The Genteel Nation".  While 65% of Americans think we are a nation in decline, his take is that it is a structural problem due in large measure to a seismic (my term, not his) shift in our work force leaving industry in favor of the service, professional and financial sectors to find the holy grail.  The effect is a large gap in the need for skilled machinists in manufacturing relative to the supply that has exacerbated the unemployment situation.  Otherwise, the rate would be 6.5%, not 9.5%, a fact substantiated just this morning by former President Clinton on Meet the Press.  This is just another piece of that Made in America puzzle that must be found.

8. WHAT ARE THESE PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT?  As I listen to all of this rhetoric and posturing about "taking back our country", "getting government off our backs", "eliminating taxes" and "reclaiming our freedoms", I would just like to know what they are talking about.  We live in the most free, affluent, idolized and sought after country on earth, so just exactly how would these angry people change things if they had "our country" back; how would they pay for the many conveniences, necessities and services we all need and enjoy; and just what freedoms have they lost?  If we do not represent all of the good that defines us a democratic nation (what Michael Shermer of the Los Angeles Times described back in May as "the best of times"), then why are we trying to impose our model of democracy on other countries at great cost (see item #5 above)?  And for one pundit in particular to say we as a people did not vote for the massive programs enacted this year (e.g. bail out, GM take over, health care reform, etc.) as he did on one of this morning's TV programs is somewhat disingenuous.  We didn't vote for two wars either.     

Current United States Debt still at http://usdebtclock.org

Laura Raborn at http://paintingsofhome.com and http://claygifts.com 
Jim Johnson at http://yessy.com/jimjohnson/gallery.html 
Russ Powell at http://powellphotos.com 
Linda Flake at http://lindaflake.com 
Tom Herrin at http://tommysart.blogspot.com 
Matt McLeod at http://matt@mattmcleod.com 
Artists Registry at http://www.arkansasarts.org/programs/registry/default.aspx
Sandy Hubler Fine Art at http://sandyhublerfineart.com
George Wittenberg at http://postcard-art-gallery.com 

Local Colour Gallery at http://localcolourgallery.com
Chroma Gallery at http://chromagallery.com
Cantrell Gallery at http://cantrellgallery.com
Greg Thompson Fine Art at http://gregthompsonfineart.com
Red Door Gallery at http://reddoorgalleryonline.com 
M2 Gallery at http://m2lr.com
UALR Gallery Program at http://ualr.edu/art
Gallery 26 at http://gallery26.com 

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