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Just how serious is the Federal debt ceiling crisis?

The United States, for all the woes of our current economy, for all the worry we have about China eclipsing us as a world power, is still, going away, the world’s largest economy. We employ over 139 million people and generate a staggering Gross Domestic Product of $14.8 Trillion. These are encouraging numbers. But behind this massive economic engine is a government that is very close to defaulting on its own financial obligations.

If the government were a business, we might be able to work out a deal with our creditors or perhaps even declare bankruptcy. But that’s not an option. Our creditors are far too numerous, our debts too big, and as for bankruptcy, we can’t do that either. Even states hardly ever do that. In fact, only one state in our nation’s history, Arkansas, during the height of the Great Depression, has ever declared bankruptcy. For governments, it’s just not an alternative.

So, what exactly do we do when the debt ceiling, our own internal permission to borrow, runs out? The logical course might be to extend that limit and cover your bills. But that’s not the way this is playing

Read more: Just how serious is the Federal debt ceiling crisis?

Is there a Mormon issue in the 2012 election?

Historically, religion and Presidential politics have never been that far apart.  Thomas Jefferson, never one to follow the crowd, took some heat for his views on religion.  In fact, he was so free thinking, that he even wrote his own version of the Bible.

 Abraham Lincoln, while a deeply religious man, was criticized for not aligning himself with a particular denomination.  In his era, to many, this was deeply disturbing.  A century later, John F. Kennedy, a Roman Catholic, had to convince a still skeptical America, that, “…he wouldn’t be taking his orders from the Pope.”

In 1976, Jimmy Carter introduced America to yet another religious phenomenon.  Carter was a born again Christian.  35 years ago, for many, particularly the media, this was a new concept.  Now, in 2012, there is a new religious twist in American politics.  Two of the leading

Read more: Is there a Mormon issue in the 2012 election?

In a small, scale model: A long ago ship come to life

As I write this I am looking at one of the most unusual and now most treasured gifts I could have asked for.  It’s a small, finely detailed model of a ship.  And no, it’s not an aircraft carrier, a battleship, a destroyer, or a minesweeper.  It’s a survey ship called the U.S.S. Sumner.  My Dad served on it during World War II and his memories of that ship, and his time as a member of its crew, were some of the most precious of his life.  My Dad died 25 years ago and I have tried over the years to keep some of the memories of this quirky, but beloved little ship alive.

 Of course, there isn’t much left to go on.  The post war draw down was fast and the Sumner was scrapped in 1946.  Save for some photos, and a wonderful ship’s

Read more: In a small, scale model: A long ago ship come to life

You don’t have to be out of work to be living on the edge

There is one stark reality about our current economic situation. Namely, that you don’t have to be out of work to be living on the edge. And what’s more, the number of people teetering on that edge seems to growing larger and larger. True, the economy may be recovering, but for many, the normal sense of security that comes with an improving economic situation remains elusive.
For some, living on the edge has been “situation normal” for most of their working lives. Often, they’re simply called the working poor. Most are hard to count since few are on any kind of relief or assistance. Many work at jobs that pay more than minimum wage, but not much more. They

Read more: You don’t have to be out of work to be living on the edge

Goodnight, Marshall Dillon: Gunsmoke actor dies at 88

Like most boys in the early 1960s I loved westerns. And, oh by the way, at age 52, I still do. But in days gone by my affection for the genre was rather intense. I was very proud of my toy six shooter and its accompanying Winchester rifle. I wore my cowboy hat everywhere and I had a host of “Johnny West” action figures. I was hooked and fortunately the major television networks were ready to comply. In 1965, while Peyton Place may have brought in record audiences, it was the TV western that dominated network programming. And at the top of the list, as something of the jewel of the TV westerns of the era, there was Gunsmoke.

It starred a strong-willed, straight-talking sheriff named Matt Dillon, his love interest, but not quite love interest, Kitty, the always wise “Doc,” and of

Read more: Goodnight, Marshall Dillon: Gunsmoke actor dies at 88

Medicare deserves a bi-partisan solution

During the debate over health care reform, one of the cries from its opponents, and at times, from its supporters, was that we simply couldn’t have a direct payer system. Words like un-American, anti-free enterprise, and oh yes, dangerous, were repeatedly tossed about. But many Americans are often surprised to know that America has had a classic, almost European style direct payer system for 46 years. It’s Medicare and it’s the primary source of medical coverage for Americans over the age of 65.

It’s a complicated system, and I don’t begin to fully understand it. Most recipients, as I have found, don’t understand it either. And doctors are only a

Read more: Medicare deserves a bi-partisan solution

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