Tobacco is back in the news again, with the $375 million pledge by billionaires Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg to help curb smoking. In my lifetime — I am now 96 — the story of tobacco has undergone a profound change. At one time, the smoke-filled room was an ever-present mark of social and political gatherings. Nicotine was imbibed in many ways in addition to smoking. It was chewed in the form of gum. It was inhaled and called “snuff.”
Right now, in scholarly circles, there is a search for the true author of what has come to be known as the “Serenity Prayer.” The prayer reads, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
From a multitude of sources comes the disturbing news that far too many of our soldiers are committing suicide upon return to the United States from Iraq, or while still in country. We ought to ask why.
In order to kick-start the sluggish economy, the federal government has decided to spend billions of dollars on tax rebates — that is, giving out cash to the public. The expectation was that with their newly found dollars, families would start buying things at the stores, putting money into circulation and stirring companies to hire more and produce more. This was supposed to give the economy a badly needed boost. But it is not happening. Why?
The Bible says that the sins of the parents will be punished on the children, yea unto the seventh generation. The “sins” we are committing are embodied in the ever-mounting debt that our generation is incurring that will have to be paid off by our kids and their kids and so on and on. The debt is accumulating at an incredible rate.
The American economy is in trouble. It is not the first time. In the 1930s, the American economy sank into a depression. As a candidate for president, Franklin D. Roosevelt described the situation with “one third of the nation ill fed, ill clothed, ill-housed.” He took steps to revive the economy by creating jobs. They were jobs that needed doing but were not being done because, at the time, the private sector of the economy did not find them profitable.
“I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family and that violates my — or any — sense of right and wrong,” Eliot Spitzer said.
The latest trend among tourists is the Arctic Circle. Why? The answer may perhaps be found in a quatrain we recall from childhood.
Once upon a time when the sun never set on the British Empire, the crown jewel in the imperial crown was a country called India. There were many agricultural products that the empire derived from India, including opium. When the power loom for weaving textiles made its appearance, the native Indians started up a lively business. To the British Empire this was a direct threat to their textile trade. So the Brits proceeded to destroy the power looms.
For many years, Uncle Sam was the big buyer in the world market. In part this was due to a “strong dollar ” A big buck could buy foreign goods inexpensively. It was also due to the outsourcing of production in countries with cheap labor. The finished product found a heavy market in the United States.