Category Archives: In the News

The elusive and infinitesimal “cause” of gun violence – part 1

Despite being an advocate for serious gun law reform, I do have to say that there is one approach from my fellow advocates that often fails upon examination, and the “2A” defenders like to make hay of it. A lot of media attention is directed at “one cause” propositions like “mental health” or particular registration laws. But upon examination of… Read more »

Acceptable carnage: the gun deaths that are easily preventable

Per-day gun violence

Whenever I review the updated numbers from the excellent Gun Violence Archive project, I am struck by the unrelenting “randomness with predictability,” in effect the cruelest of lotteries, that are the rates of gun violence casualties in the United States. You just don’t find any numbers like these anywhere else in the developed world. And note how little these per-day… Read more »

Picking half a trillion dollars up off the ground

The Democratic Primary debates have begun and only one candidate, Elizabeth Warren, appears to be seriously talking about where to come up with the money to fund the many spending proposals on the table. By my count, this leaves 23 candidates who need a serious tax revenue plan, so please send this post to your favorite candidate. I can tell… Read more »

Throwing “math water” on “minority-majority America”

You can pick your numbers as to when it occurs, but the impending demographic changes in the United States under which white Americans become the numerical minority in the country may either strike fear in your heart or hope for societal improvements, depending on your ideology. Despite the headlines, however, the math and associated politics do not support as radical… Read more »

Your “existential” birth lottery ticket revisited

What if I were never born? This is one of the “big questions” in life that can lead to unresolvable human angst. Some recent articles in the New York Times on the subjects of abortion rights and in vitro fertilization (IVF), resulted in a published selection of letters to the editor in which this theme bubbles up a repeatedly, including… Read more »

Waste, fraud, abuse, and orders of magnitude

Federal Budget

I never cease to be amazed at how petty and venal the level of corruption is inside the Trump Cabinet. The most recent example is HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s $8,812 dishwasher. And who can forget EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s use of staff to search Washington for his favorite body lotion? From the point of view of basic math, however, this… Read more »

Magicians don’t believe in magic

      1 Comment on Magicians don’t believe in magic

What do magicians Penn and Teller have in common with many politicians, psychics and preachers? Well, they don’t really believe in the “magic” they are selling. The difference is that Penn and Teller have always told us exactly this upfront, and then fool us anyway. The performances of Penn and Teller are an interesting contrast to those of illusionist and… Read more »

A refresher on Trump real estate finance

With the recent New York Times publication of an investigation into Donald Trump’s early-1990s taxes, a lot of bad information has bounced around social media from both Trump’s supporters and his detractors. I wrote a four-part “primer” about how Trump real estate finance works last April, plus a follow-up in May, but this post is a “TL;DR” for those who… Read more »

Stop calling them “healthcare insurance companies”

If we are really going to make improvements to healthcare system in the United States, let me suggest that we start by stopping something. We are obscuring a huge reality when we refer to Aetna, Cigna, United Healthcare and their ilk as “healthcare insurance companies,” and we need to change that terminology in order to really understand what is going… Read more »

Why you don’t want “across-state-lines” health insurance

One of the first recommendations Republicans typically make in their “Replace ObamaCare” proposals is to give the health insurance companies the ability to “sell across state lines,” which they are convinced will drive down premiums. Insurers are already free to do this, but they need to live by the local regulations in each state in which they sell. There’s the… Read more »