Let’s Give Our Farmers Another Shot At Diplomacy In Korean Crisis

A new year is just around the corner. But instead of tipping a celebratory glass of champagne on New Year’s Eve, a big tumbler filed with Maalox seems more appropriate this time. For all of the optimism that usually accompanies a new year, the arrival of 2018 is being dogged by anxiety about war breaking out on the Korean peninsula. Unlike in Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan, a war with North Korea seems almost certain to involve nuclear weapons and the tremendous loss of life that would accompany those weapons. We need the voices of reason to be heard now, but […]

This Big Entitlement Flies Under The Radar

Watching events unfold in Washington, D.C., these days is much like watching Wile E. Coyote pursue the Road Runner in the cartoons from years gone by. When the Coyote and the Road Runner were on the screen, you knew what was coming next. So it is with the federal income tax overhaul bill that Republicans in Congress are determined to approve this week and send to President Trump. We know what will be coming next: Federal budget-cutting. To hear supporters tell it, the tax changes will unleash dramatic expansion of the nation’s economy like we haven’t seen in more than […]

Don’t Forget The Stranger In Need On DACA Effort

Each summer at schools across Iowa, a new batch of kindergartners heads in the front door for the first time. Not surprisingly, there are occasional tears. Some flow from the new students who are apprehensive about what may await them inside. Some come from the parents who are emotional about this milestone in their young children’s lives. When the 2016-2017 academic year was concluding last spring, there were more tears, this time from an unexpected source — a 23-year-old man. The scene that occurred at Hilton Coliseum in Ames in May carries a special message that should remind us all […]

Simplifying The Big Numbers In Government Spending

Back in my working days, back when I supervised The Des Moines Register’s business news staff, one of the columnists confessed to our readers that he had trouble balancing his checkbook. My boss didn’t think a business columnist had any business making such a confession. But the columnist was only admitting what many people, if they are truthful, could admit — and that’s their own challenges with mathematics. The experts call this math anxiety. At the risk of sending you scurrying to get away from your own childhood phobias over long division, this is an excellent time to dig into […]

Congress Doesn’t Operate Like You And Me

If our households operated the way the United States does, members of our extended families would be planning an intervention to get us to see the error of our ways. Why? Fifteen years ago, our household was on track to pay off our assorted debts. We were doing that by spending less than the paychecks we brought home. But now our household finances are in shambles. We gave up our fiscal discipline two decades ago and decided we could afford to be more freewheeling with our money. For the past 15 years, we have lived off our credit cards, spending […]

Wrong To Keep Muscatine Taxpayers In The Dark

One of the nastiest controversies in local government in Iowa in many years was the impeachment in May of Muscatine Mayor Diana Broderson by the city council. I’m not here to pass judgment on the council’s decision. That’s something Muscatine residents can do in the city election. But I do know this: City Administrator Gregg Mandsager owes it to residents to be more forthcoming with public records. Those records would allow people to make informed judgments about the council’s actions, about money the city has spent on the case, and about discussions among council members and Mandsager leading to the […]

President Trump’s Lack Of Empathy On Puerto Rico Risking Lives

When you look at the world around us — with its hatred and bitterness, with its disagreements and divisiveness — the quality most lacking today is empathy. We find it difficult, if not impossible, to put ourselves in each other’s shoes and see events and issues from their perspective. Whether we realize it or not, all of us are guilty of this at some time or another — the D’s, the R’s and the independents. All of us have too much of the it’s-our-way-or-the-highway mentality. Some of us grumble about the football players taking a knee during the National Anthem. […]

Don’t Let Foolishness Get Us Into Another War

A scab on the memories of lots of Americans was yanked off the other week with the airing of the first segments of Ken Burns’ new documentary on the Vietnam war. The film brought to life the horrors and heartbreak of Vietnam and those events from 50 years ago that divided our nation like it has been divided few times in U.S. history. Each day’s installment of Burns’ history lesson — coupled with the headlines from that day’s news reports — had me reflecting on the current tensions with North Korea, on the rhetoric coming from our president and dictator […]

Equifax, Tell Us About Burdensome Regulations

The biggest under-reported news event from the past two weeks involves a crime of gigantic proportions that directly affects about half of the people living in the United States. Of course, Melania Trump’s choice of footwear for a trip to hurricane-ravaged Texas a few days earlier attracted as much, or more, media coverage. But I digress. Equifax Inc. announced on Sept. 7 that hackers had busted into its computer system. This isn’t just some random corporation, even though most people probably do not recognize its name. The company is the second largest consumer credit reporting business in the United States. […]

Iowa’s Problem With Openness And Public Records Law

When is Iowa going to catch up with the rest of the nation? Every week or two, another case makes headlines around the United States when a police officer acts in a way that many people find troubling. Typically, within a few weeks, police video of the incident is released so the public can evaluate the officer’s actions. The latest example occurred in Salt Lake City, Utah, when a police officer manhandled and arrested a nurse in a hospital emergency department. The incident was recorded on two police officers’ body cameras, and the video has triggered outrage across the nation. […]