Commentary & Opinion | WAMC

Commentary & Opinion

Blair Horner: The Legislature May Be Starting Up

May 11, 2020

In March, the Legislature granted Governor Cuomo unprecedented power to make laws.  No New York Legislature had ever granted its executive the power to change and make new laws without legislative consent. 

POTUS and the head of the Federal Reserve, Mr. Powell, are now proposing negative interest rates which means, in effect, Banks would be paying customers to borrow.  It also means that if you have a positive checking or savings balance you may be being charged that negative interest rate as well to maintain your money in the Bank.  This  nuance of negative interest rates  is unlikely to be disclosed by the Trump administration as POTUS tries to pass off the blame for the result on the Banks.  This is clearly complex economic theory, but this theory does have claws that might scratch you.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Columbia County's Family Meal

May 9, 2020
Chefs Jaime Parry (left) and Jon Carr
Carole Clark

One of the most compelling but I suspect overlooked reasons that people enter the cooking profession and the restaurant world is because they’re drawn to doing things for other people; to give their guests an experience that might bring a little joy to their lives.

At a press conference this past weekend, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a stern warning to those gathering for social events in the city: “"We will take you to jail, period."

Stephen Gottlieb: The System Subverts Our Values

May 5, 2020

This virus has been bringing out how much we depend on each other, rich and poor, black and white, men and women, immigrant and native. We used to talk about brotherhood and I’ve never found a good substitute for the vision of mutual concern and respect that people in my generation meant by brotherhood. Now two people who shouldn’t be named claim that Blue states don’t deserve help though we do a lot for the rest of the country, through our taxes, the business we generate and by repeatedly jumping to the aid of people all over this country when they suffer from natural disasters. What they’re really saying is that they feel no responsibility for those among us who need help, especially if they don’t have the skin color and ancestry that they honor.

New York State has flattened the curve of new coronavirus infections. Entering the final week of April, the daily totals of new hospitalizations and deaths have significantly declined.  Shutdowns of “non-essential” economic activity and social distancing are having the desired effect by reducing the spread of the virus, though those same shutdowns are wreaking havoc on both private and public sector finances. 

As the nation struggles to deal with the COVID pandemic, it's clear that "essential workers" are carrying the load on behalf of the rest of us.  Our health care workers and first responders often have to deal with incredibly sick and contagious people; others considered "essential" have to continue to go to work to keep our transit systems running, lights on and grocery store shelves stocked, even if it means potential life-threatening exposure.  Many of us continue to work, but from the relative safety of our residences.

Commentator Bill Owens shares his thoughts on the headlines of the past week. 

David Nightingale: The Dalai Lamas

May 3, 2020

During this COVID-19 era there’s time, for some, to catch up on books. One of the unread books [ref.1] I took from my shelf recently is about the present Dalai Lama – which takes us to Tibet.

Ralph Gardner Jr: Doing Well Making Due

May 2, 2020

Some important instructions to follow to ease the pain of the current moment. The first, obviously, is to stay home if your life and work allows, so that you reduce your risk of exposing yourself or others to the virus. Another is to support your favorite local merchants so their businesses don’t go under.

In a recent Commentary, I argued that the Democrats in Congress needed to stand strong against Republican efforts, led by Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, to push through bills that bailed out the giant corporations leaving ordinary people to fend for themselves.   To a certain extent, they were able (by standing strong in the Senate) to force compromises on the last two bills passed. 

Rogovoy Report 5/1/20

May 1, 2020

I’ve always believed in the wisdom and power of positive pessimism. Over the years, I have adopted it as something of a creed, a belief system, a world view, and a healthy approach to life. Plan for the worst and you will never be disappointed. If all hell breaks loose, you have the satisfaction of having been proven right, of having had the foresight and wisdom to correctly predict the outcome. If things go better than you expect, you will be relieved at the very least, or even possibly made happy that the disaster for which you had planned was averted.

Blair Horner: Earth Week 2020

Apr 30, 2020

Last Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.  For five decades, the world has marked Earth Day as a time to reflect on the state of the environment and to debate how best to improve the only habitat we have.

Stephen Gottlieb: No Time To Be Stingy

Apr 28, 2020

There’s no good time to be stingy about public health. It costs more, and it kills our own.

Well, we continue to keep our heads above water here at WAMC. When I say “we,” I mean it. We have been saying, “We’re all in this together” forever. So now we have a fund drive coming up.  Most of us are at home. We don’t venture out without PPE, masks and gloves, and frankly, we are all pretty scared. One thing that I do know is that an awful lot of folks are listening to WAMC for longer periods of time than ever before. Maybe some of them aren’t driving to work and listening in their cars, but people are listening. We know how many of you are writing to the Panel and, anecdotally, how many people are in touch with each of us.

Oil prices plummeted on Monday to zero and below. The industry was in free-fall and panic. Amongst the causes of this, was the drop in gas usage and pushed further down by the flooding of the market with Saudi Arabian and Russian oil production, the level of supply is so high that there is essentially no future’s market for oil. That stabilized somewhat as the week wore on. What is really interesting is the two countries involved, Saudi Arabia and Russia are purportedly friends of Mr. Trump. Looks to me like their friends who want to destabilize our economy and potentially the world economy for who knows what nefarious reason.

Nils Strand / Wikimedia Commons

WAMC listeners had quite a bit to say this week. Let's take a listen. 

Paul Caiano's Midday Forecast

Apr 24, 2020
Paul Caiano

Newschannel 13 meteorologist Paul Caiano delivers the Midday Weather Summary for Friday, April 24, 2020.

Andrew Pallotta: Navigating Uncharted Waters

Apr 23, 2020

As the coronavirus threat continues, we find ourselves in uncharted waters. Our lives and our communities are at a standstill. People are losing their jobs at unprecedented rates. And, of course, our friends and neighbors are becoming ill and some have passed away. None of us have lived through anything like this.

If America is increasingly looking to determine how much bigger we should grow the government, big-government China should be the most alarming possible outcome.

Stephen Gottlieb: Trump’s Malfeasance Goes Viral

Apr 21, 2020

I read the Times’ description of the Administration’s snafus through my tears because every snafu meant a large number of unnecessary deaths.

What did Artur Berlinger say to God in his makeshift synagogue at #17 Dlouha Street, in the Terezin concentration camp? 

As the discussion moves forward to reopening the country which, in reality, means reopening businesses, there have been many suggestions with the most reasonable being the following:

Ralph Gardner Jr: Koreatown On My Mind

Apr 18, 2020
Korean dishes on display in Koreatown of Manhattan, New York City
Alexisrael / Wikimedia Commons

It took me a full month upstate before I started to feel homesick for New York City. It happened when I searched the Internet for a recipe for tofu dressing. Don’t get me wrong. Given the choice between a strip steak and a hunk of tofu, no matter how artfully garnished, I’ll take the steak every time.

On April 10, 2020, Senator Bernie Sanders (I, Vermont) teamed up with Representative Pramila Jaypal (D. Washington) to introduce the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act.   The point of the bill is to make sure that until the FDA certifies that there is a well-tested vaccine for COVID-19, the coronavirus that is causing the current pandemic, not one penny of out of pocket medical expenses will be charged to any individual seeking medical care or prescription drugs.  In short, health care will become a right at least temporarily.

John Faso: The Federalism Dustup

Apr 16, 2020

On Monday, President Trump asserted he has the power as president to order the reopening of the economy.  He also issued a tweet whereby he stated that his power as president supersedes the authority of governors of the respective states.

Ben Downing: Choosing To Become Stronger

Apr 14, 2020

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” I have read those words thousands of times. They ring through my head as all our worlds break. I hear them and I remind myself that being strong at the broken places does not mean better, but it does mean different. Nothing good will come out of COVID-19. The vast majority of the death and pain was avoidable. But the blessing in grief, in suffering is that we choose how we respond. We can honor the memories of those we lost with our response. We can choose to become stronger. But it is a choice we must make, individually and as a society.

Stephen Gottlieb: What Lessons Will We Learn?

Apr 14, 2020

I’d like to look beyond this epidemic, beyond the people telecomputing and those taking bicycles to work instead of busses, beyond our fears of going to meetings to see and greet each other and work together, beyond elbow bumps at funerals as I had to recently, and think ahead to a better future.

Blair Horner: NY Allows "No Excuse" Voting By Mail

Apr 13, 2020

As the pandemic rages, the impact it is having on all aspects of our lives becomes clearer.  Take for example, voting.  We saw the stunning scenes in Wisconsin where partisan differences blocked a voting-by-mail reform that would have allowed Wisconsin residents to avoid the risk of contagion at polling sites.

Politico observed in recent article that the US is viewed as the culprit in the global scrum for personal protection equipment (PPE).  A recent order directed DHS to prohibit the export of PPE to Canada and South America in particular which is further evidence of the short-sighted view of the Trump administration.