Whole Foods?

A recent story in Yahoo News tells us about one of the more interesting people making millions of dollars feeding people: John Mackay, founder and CEO of Whole Foods which is a “Green Company” that prides itself on paying its employees well and selling only foods that are safe to eat. Presumably. But Mr. Mackay has a tendency to put his foot in his mouth occasionally, as he himself admits. He appears to be a bundle of contradictions.

His commitment to the environment is coupled with a commitment to free-enterprise capitalism which he insists “can eliminate poverty on the planet.” He doesn’t say how this  can be accomplished, but magicians never reveal their tricks. Nor does he explain how he can reconcile his commitment to free-enterprise capitalism (which is a fiction) with the corporate attack on the planet. He is convinced that business has earned a bad reputation in this country due to its narrow focus on profits at the expense of a social conscience (duhhh); he thinks there needs to be a balance. He himself takes a salary of $1.00 a year and leads what he calls a “simple life.” But he is convinced that global warming is “not that big a deal,” and this is where we need to note the position of his foot vis-à-vis his mouth. He knows not whereof he speaks.

He seems to think that global warming is simply a matter of a few degrees of temperature which shouldn’t be too big a challenge for adaptable humans. But as noted in a previous blog a recent report from the National Climate Assessment that involved 300 scientists, including scientists from NASA, tells a disconcerting story of a warming planet that is already having serious repercussions. Climate change is a big deal and it is in large measure the result of human activity.

The report tells us that  “Certain types of weather events have become more frequent and/or intense, including heat waves, heavy downpours, and in some regions floods and droughts.” The Northeast has experienced an increase of 74% in heavy rainfall since 1958. The country is currently experiencing severe drought in 65% of the farming areas, which should prove a problem for sellers of foods, such as Mr. Mackay — not to mention those of us who will have to pay more for basic foods or watch items disappear from the shelves altogether. There have recently been record numbers of hurricanes and tornadoes and the Frankenstorm Sandy is regarded as one of a number of freak storms that are predicted to become more common.

The effects of climate change will not only be felt in food production and the increasing costs of repairing damage from freak storms, but it is already resulting in rising sea levels that have displaced entire island communities, melting ice caps, thawing permafrost, and reduced animal habitat. It will also take a toll on human life and health as the Assessment predicts “increased risk of asthma and other public health emergencies, widespread power blackouts, mass transit shutdowns, and [again] shortages of food.”

Mr. Mackay is wrong. Climate change is a big deal. And he is making a huge mistake to pretend it is not and ignoring plain facts while he insists that free-enterprise capitalism can “eliminate poverty” when corporate profits are predicated on the exploitation of workers, “downsizing,” and “outsourcing,” and while the typical corporate CEO makes 475 times as much as his employee. Mr Mackay doesn’t only have his foot in his mouth; he has his head up his butt.

Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing

A recent story in Yahoo News about Heidi Heitkamp, a newly elected Democratic Senator from North Dakota, is worth pondering. The story quotes Heitkamp as follows:

“I think, you know the one thing that has gotten lost by everyone is one of the best ways that we can perform here is by getting people back to work, making sure that this economic recovery, slow as it is, gets amped up and moves forward,” Heitkamp tells Politics Confidential. “It’s one of the reasons why I’ve been such a big proponent of the Keystone Pipeline. There’s a shovel ready, private sector jobs program, good paying jobs.”

775001_10151348877397708_697098527_o

Heidi is disconcerted that President Obama seems to be concentrating on gun control and climate change and (she says) ignoring the economy. Good grief, how thick are some of the heads in Washington? Here’s a Democrat spelled with a capital “R,” talking about the necessity to pollute the earth some more in the name of profits while we ignore the health and well-being of our children and their children for generations to come.  But then she comes from North Dakota which is a very conservative state and where the bulk of the wealth (and it is very great deal indeed) comes from oil. Gee, do you think she’s pushing the Keystone Pipeline because of a debt she owes to Big Oil? I’m just askin’.

In any event, Heidi is dead wrong about climate change and I really do get tired of the conservative mantra that drones on and on about how a commitment to the environment and the pursuit of clean energy will invariably cost us jobs — and, by implication, if we want to help the economy recover and create more jobs we must go the route of fossil fuels.  It is a false dichotomy and yet we continue to hear it repeated as though it is beyond doubt. The facts belie the claim: we can have it both ways — clean energy and jobs. In fact we are already on our way.

Wind energy alone, as my blog buddy BTG recently pointed out, is currently employing 75,000 workers (more than the coal industry) and could employ 500,000 by 2030 if this Congress would get its collective head out of the sand (or wherever they have it at present) and commit the country to the pursuit of sustainable energy where we can be assured not only of more jobs, but also a cleaner environment, better health, and general economic recovery. Consider the fact that the solar industry also currently employs over 100,000 workers and could also take on more with a commitment from Washington. And we haven’t even begun to tap the potential energy from the ocean tides. Sustainable energy is the energy of the future in a world where we have become almost totally dependent on finite resources that pollute the air and raise the temperatures on the planet.

The old environment versus jobs argument simply won’t wash. It is a worn record and it flies in the face of every fact available to anyone who doesn’t happen to be in the pocket of the oil and gas industries. But that includes Senator Heitkamp, it would appear, who will continue to push for dirty energy while the rest of us wonder what it will take to wake up those closed-minded politicians in Washington who have lost sight of what really matters in this country — which is the health, well-being, and prosperity of ordinary citizens. What really matters is certainly not more obscene profits for Big Oil, though they play the tune and the politicians dance the dance.

Like Minds

I sat captivated by the sights and sounds of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton being interviewed on “60 Minutes” the other night. The two are most impressive and their artful dance away from some most interesting questions was fascinating to watch. It was a lesson in the art of political palaver at its best. A follow-up news story from HuffPost gives us the gist of the interview and it begins as follows:

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama lauded Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as one of his closest advisers and said their shared vision for America’s role in the world persuaded his one-time rival – and potential successor – to be his top diplomat while he dealt with the shattered economy at home.

During a joint interview that aired Sunday, Obama and Clinton chuckled as they described their partnership and stoked speculation that Obama may prefer Clinton to succeed him in the White House after the 2016 elections. Clinton is leaving Obama’s Cabinet soon, and speculation about the former first lady and senator has only grown more intense after a heated appearance last week on Capitol Hill.

The contrast between Hillary’s relaxed, almost off-the-cuff demeanor and the President’s careful, guarded approach to the good questions asked of them both was most interesting — as was the body language of the two main characters. The President sat cross-legged with his hands carefully folded on his lap, for the most part — clearly a man who knows that anything he says can and will be used against him. Hillary sat in a relaxed posture with a smile on her face much of the time, seemingly in the company of good friends and unconcerned that something she might say could come back to bite her.

The two are most impressive and despite the fact that the President smiled his way around the question of whether or not he was endorsing Hillary Clinton for the next run at the White House, the format and the obvious friendship between the two sent a clear message: if Hillary wants to run, she’s got the President’s full support.

The woman is solid, no question. She handles herself well in the public eye — though I did have reason to question one of her outbursts recently before the Senate Committee that was pushing her for evidence of spilled milk over the death of four Americans in Benghazi not long ago. She had reason to lose her cool momentarily as Republican Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin was relentless in his determination to find fault with the Obama Administration and the way it handled a dangerous situation. The Republicans are determined to show that this Administration is weak and unable to respond properly to an international crisis. They seem to prefer the approach of John Wayne or Clint Eastwood: shoot first and ask questions afterwards. Freud would have a field day with some of those people.

In any event, Hillary has come through her last weeks as Secretary of State with shining colors and has emerged as a very strong contender for the Presidency the next time around — should she choose to run. I dare say there will be considerable pressure brought to bear to see to it that this happens, including pressure from Barack Obama who clearly admires and respects the woman who gave him a run for his money in his early attempts to gain the White House himself. Here’s hoping!

The Cost of Defense

This country was founded on the principle that a standing army should never be necessary; under the Second Amendment a militia made up of ordinary citizens would be guaranteed the right to bear arms to protect their country from tyranny. Even after the First World War we had no standing army, though in 1911 the concept of a militia was laid to rest. After the War to End All Wars, the country’s military might continued slowly to grow, and in the 1930s our government had a standing committee in Congress to oversee the military; in 1934 Congress passed the National Firearms act designed to keep the production of weapons of war in the hands of the government — and such weapons as machine guns out of the hands of civilians. In 1939 the Supreme Court upheld the Firearms Act insisting it was entirely consistent with the Second Amendment.

But even keeping them out of the hands of the citizens didn’t keep the production of weapons of war from making some people in this country very wealthy, despite the fact that in 1934 the Senate Munitions Committee was headed by a Republican, Gerald Nye of North Dakota, who famously said “The removal of the element of profit from war would materially remove the danger of more war.” Not long after they were uttered, these prophetic words were soon drowned out by the sound of bombs dropping on Pearl Harbor. By the end of the Second World War a standing army was a matter of course. And with the Cold War ongoing the power of the military grew — as did the wealth of those companies providing the military with weapons and armament, resulting in President Eisenhower’s famous warning against the “military-industrial complex.” That warning has also been drowned out, this time by the sound of the cash registers ringing up huge profits for munitions companies like Lockheed Martin, a firm whose contracts with the Pentagon amount to some thirty billion dollars annually. This company alone spends fifteen million dollars a year to persuade members of Congress that we need a strong military presence in all parts of the world and that the military needs the very latest in weapons. No conflict of interest here!

Photo from The New Yorker magazine

Photo from The New Yorker

It is well known that members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, are beholden to the “military-industrial complex,” that entity that has morphed into a hydra-headed monster now in control of Washington. Lockheed Martin has contributed to the election of three hundred and eighty-six of the four hundred and thirty-five members of this Congress. In the distance you can hear (if you listen very carefully) the fading words of President Eisenhower:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who are hungry and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This is a world in arms. This world in arms is not spending money alone; it is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. . . This is not a way of life in any true sense.”

Jill Lapore, the author of a most interesting article in the January 28th issue of The New Yorker tells us that “The United States which was founded on opposition to a standing army is now a nation engaged in a standing war.” This, of course, is the so-called “war on terror,” which is not a war at all. She quotes Colonel Andrew J. Bacevich, a West Point graduate who fought in Viet Nam in 1970 and 1971, who warns us that we “have fallen prey to militarism, manifesting itself in a romanticized view of soldiers, a tendency to see military power as the truest measure of national greatness, and outsized expectations regarding the efficacy of force.” Bacevich is now a professor of history at Boston University and he had some profound remarks to make about the war in Afghanistan, which he likens to the War in Viet Nam. “The mystical war against Communism,” he says, “finds its counterpart in the mystical war on terrorism.. . .[mysticism] prevents us from seeing things as they are.” This from a man who knows whereof he speaks. And it should make us ponder the real costs of what is euphemistically called “defense.”

Scientific Ignorance

The new chair of the House Science and Technology Committee is Rep. Lamar Smith. He’s a Republican from Texas so that pretty much tells you what you need to know about Mr. Smith. Texas is the state, you will recall, where a recent survey revealed that four out of ten high school science teachers think that humans and dinosaurs walked the earth at the same time. It’s also the state where creationism is routinely taught as a science.  So it makes perfect sense that we would want such a man to head up this science committee where the first order of business, we are told, will be to convene a hearing to determine whether or not the globe is in fact warming. The fact that these men might not know a fact if it bit them in the britches is apparently not to the point.

Heading up the House Science Subcommittee is Representative Paul Brown (R-Ga) who famously said “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell.” I wouldn’t know if this is true because I have never been to Hell, but I will take Mr. Brown’s word for it; I assume he knows whereof he speaks. But it still makes me nervous to think that men of this caliber are leading this country. Madison and Jefferson must be turning over in their graves.

In any event, I shall pass over the irony that stares us in the face to address the comment of Representative Brown which shows an alarming ignorance about just what science is. Because science, if it is properly understood, does not allow an intelligent person to accept or reject its conclusions at will. Those conclusions demand our attention and acceptance — whether we like them or not. And I assume that Mr. Brown would prefer to think of himself as an intelligent person — even if we find it difficult to agree with him.

Now don’t get me wrong: I am not a devotee of science. I am not a true believer. I think there are things science does not know and there are limitations to the scientific method. There are things in literature and poetry, for example, that are profoundly true but which cannot be known by science or reduced to scientific formulas. But this is because science relies on mathematics and it insists on quantifying data in order to measure and calculate. In its proper domain, however, when it follows the correct procedures and presents its findings to the scientific community — which then has the opportunity to test its findings — it makes no sense whatever to contend that science is “straight from the pit of Hell” (no matter how familiar we are with that part of the cosmos.)

Representatives Brown and Smith will be involved in the search for what they regard as truth with respect to the warming of the globe. This despite the fact that the government they are a part of recently completed a study involving 300 scientific experts (including NASA) who agreed overwhelmingly that the earth is warming at an alarming rate and that humans are very much a part of the cause. So the globe will continue to heat up, our weather will become more and more freaky with “events” like hurricane Sandy becoming more common, the drought in the Midwest will continue and crops will burn up in the fields while forests are increasingly engulfed in flames. At some point even people like these two men will have to admit there is a problem.

In the meantime they (and 74% of their fellow Republicans in Congress) continue to deny the obvious. They put me in mind of a group of morons sitting around a table in a cabin perched on the side of a mountain ignoring the increasingly loud noise from the approaching avalanche as they discuss whether or not they should (maybe?) shore up the roof.

Who Will Annihilate Whom?

This HuffPost story caught my eye:

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) warned fellow Republicans this week, saying President Barack Obama’s inaugural address had convinced him that the president was undertaking an effort to “annihilate” the GOP.

“Given what we heard yesterday about the president’s vision for his second term, it’s pretty clear to me — should be clear to all of you — that he knows he can’t do any of that as long as the House is controlled by Republicans,” Boehner said during a speech at the Ripon Society on Tuesday. “So we’re expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party.”

The story struck me because I had been thinking that the Republican Party was doing a pretty good job of annihilating itself without help from Barack Obama — or anyone else for that matter. Clearly there are deep divisions within the Party among the far right spiritually certain and Tea Party types, the mainline Republicans, the intellectual conservatives (with whom I share many values), the moderates, and the left-leaning Republicans who are open to antithetical points of view (a rare thing these days on both sides of the aisle). There’s even a group of Republicans that has started to pull away from the Party. Given those divisions and the recent failed attempts like those of candidate Romney to please them all, the Party could be said to be on the brink of annihilation.

It is true that Barack Obama has said publicly that he will no longer be “Mister Nice-Guy.” He spent four years trying to reconcile conflicting points of view and play the compromise game — playing it a bit too enthusiastically for my blood. It didn’t work. Now he says he will take off the gloves and get serious. We shall see. It could get interesting.

Consider the fact that a recent report indicates that when Barack Obama was elected to his first term a group of Republican politicians (and their sponsors, I dare say) met in Washington and swore to oppose anything the President attempted to do. For the most part the strategy worked, though the Affordable Health Care Act slipped through the cracks. But the sort of opposition that denies the possibility of compromise a priori makes it impossible for anything to get done — as we have seen first-hand. This last Congress was the least productive on record and the newer version will continue to be unproductive until or unless those who are elected to public office recall that their ultimate responsibility is to further the common good — not special interests or their political party.

But that may never happen. In the meantime, the Republican Party will continue to overwhelm us with its many divisions within its own house and its leaders like John Boehner will continue to point in the wrong direction in his effort to determine the cause.

Sorry, Hillary

Please understand that I am a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter. I think she is a bright and very capable woman and I would dearly love to see her take a run at the Presidency in 2016. At the same time, as a teacher of logic for 42 years and a responsible blogger who tries hard to see both sides of complex issues, I must point out that Hillary wasn’t thinking clearly earlier this week when she testified to a Senate committee about the killings in Benghazi last September. Facing an angry Republican Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin, Hillary apparently lost her cool and pounded the table as she said:

“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans,” Clinton responded, suggesting that Johnson was focused on unimportant semantics. “Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk last night who decided to go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.”

Now think about it: if we want to “figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again,” don’t we have to think about the possible causes? It does matter whether the cause was a planned attack or a simple, spontaneous outburst over a low-budget film on U-tube that angered Muslims all over the world. That is, it does matter whether it was a “protest or…because of guys out for a walk last night who decided to kill some Americans.” What matters is why this happened, and Johnson was right to pursue this line of questioning and Hillary seems to have lost her presence of mind (and her cool) in the heat of the moment. I don’t judge her in this case because I can only imagine the pressure she was under, but I do point out that her response makes no sense. Figuring out why it happened requires an examination of possible causes. It’s simple logic.

What happened in Benghazi was terrible and it does demand answers to the question why. This is especially so given the current unrest in that part of the world — and the attitude of the radicals in Libya toward all Westerners. And if that answer suggests that the State Department was remiss in not responding to requests for increased security, or if perhaps it was indeed a spontaneous outburst over a  hateful movie, we need to know. The Republicans typically tend to make hay even when the fields are wet  (it’s hard not to look for hidden agendas), and during the campaign when this story broke I thought it was just another political ploy designed to garner votes for candidate Romney. But in this case they are right to seek answers so that, as Hillary correctly points out, this sort of thing doesn’t happen again.

Orchestrated Confession

Following the release of a 100 page document by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that Lance Armstrong is an inveterate liar and a cheat, the man confessed his sins in a two-part interview with Oprah that has caused no end of ripples in the media pool. In a word, after getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar he has shed some crocodile tears and “confessed” that he was indeed stealing cookies. Among the other sources that have found Armstrong’s confession of interest is USA Today which led its January 19th edition with a story that asks the question whether or not Americans will forgive the man for his many sins.

The article contends that forgiveness is in the American character — “especially if you can throw a ball, sing a song, make a speech, coach a team, or hold a camera.” I would add that it helps if you can manage a tear or two.  A number of examples are mentioned, including such infamous types as Tiger Woods, Michael Vick, Martha Stewart, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton, and Bernard Madoff. But Armstrong may be a horse of a different color: he lied so convincingly and for so long the author concludes that he may have a difficult time.

What Armstrong must do, apparently, is work his way through a proven procedure that includes public confession, contrition, conversion, and atonement. It’s not at all clear, however, that Armstrong has made it over even the first hurdle, given the staged format of his “confession” on the Oprah show. But in the end, the article concludes he may be forgiven because he has done so much good with his fight against cancer, his involvement with the culture of professional cycling which makes him only one of many rule-breakers, and the fact that “he didn’t hurt anyone.”

This is where I part company with the author and begin to wonder about the thoroughness of his research. He seems to ignore the people that Armstrong hurt in so many ways, including other cyclists whose careers he destroyed and whose lives he almost certainly destroyed as well — not to mention the people he took to court and collected money from because they supposedly slandered him. He was nothing if not a bully and a master at intimidation and it took years for people around him to have courage enough to speak up. So when the author says he “hasn’t hurt anyone,” he is clearly wrong, and this makes me wonder if we can believe anything we read — even if it is written in what is generally regarded as a reliable source. It’s enough to make one a bit cynical — even if Armstrong’s behavior hadn’t already accomplished that.

What About Lizzy?

I’m sure you have heard more than you want to about Manti Te’o and his make-believe girl friend. The story has been told again and again about the fictional girl the Notre Dame linebacker fell in love with online whose “tragic” death inspired the man to play at the highest levels — and thereby (coincidentally) improve his chances of winning the Heisman trophy and going higher in the NFL draft. In any event, the story has been beaten to death — which is not to say we have heard the last of it. But one very interesting feature of that story was brought out by Christine Brennan in USA Today on January 20th when she noted the amount of ink that has been spilled telling Manti’s story while at the same time the story about the death of Lizzy Seeberg, a former (real-life) Freshman at St. Mary’s College, is widely ignored.

It turns out that Lizzy was assaulted by a Notre Dame football player in 2010. She filed a formal complaint with authorities against the advice of a friend who warned her that she shouldn’t “mess with Notre Dame football.” Her complaint was ignored and the football player was never even contacted by campus police; a week later Lizzy committed suicide. Her written complaint was later regarded as inadmissible: since she was no longer alive to testify it was mere hearsay. The player has never been charged. Further, the story was completely ignored for 2 1/2 months until it came to light as a result of a Chicago Tribune story. And yet we still hear nothing from the University about Lizzy’s death and the events that might have brought it about, while we hear endlessly about the death of a fictional girl who may well be part of a hoax designed by Te’o and even condoned by the University — which has been very public in defending the football player while it kept mum about Lizzy’s death.

What we have here is a combination of two things: (1) a new double standard which demands that college athletes be treated differently from other students, and (2) the culture of secrecy that surrounds and protects major college football and which came to a head recently in the Penn State scandal. It is clear that football players and even the coaches themselves, are held to different standards of conduct from the rest of the student-body at the major colleges. Football and basketball programs prefer it if the administration doesn’t get involved in their business, and they pretty much get their way.  After all, they bring in huge amounts of money and that is rapidly becoming the name of the game — if it hasn’t been right along.

The double standard we are all too familiar with encouraged many to brag about men like Magic Johnson and Wilt Chamberlain who had illicit love affairs with hundreds of women — or so they claimed — and those same people would tar a young woman and cover her with feathers if it was said that she had slept with half that many men. Martina Navratilova pointed that out at the time and she was spot on. But while we still seem to expect women to behave better than men, the old double standard has been largely replaced by the new one that is seen mostly on college campuses, but is also evident in the culture at large. It reflects the hero-worship talented athletes enjoy as the law seems always to allow them more leeway than the rest of us. In our colleges and universities it translates into the high comfort-level enjoyed by the athletes as they are assured the protection of their coaches and administrators no matter how outrageous their behavior.

So in the end Lizzy’s death goes unnoticed while the airwaves are filled with the gossip about Manti Te’o and his fictional girlfriend. It’s enough to make a person take up strong drink — if he hadn’t already done so long ago.

Phil Is Troubled

I was struck by the following story on Fox News about golfer Phil Mickelson’s tax problems:

For golf legend Phil Mickelson, the low 60s makes for a great score on the links — and a lousy tax rate in his home state of California.

Mickelson said “drastic changes” are ahead for him due to federal and California state tax increases that have pushed his tax rate to what he figures adds up to “62, 63 percent.” The left-hander will talk more about his plans — possibly moving out of California or even retiring altogether. . .

I must confess I didn’t read about this problem at Fox News. I don’t make a habit of watching that TV “News” program or reading their drivel. But I had heard about Phil’s problems and checked it out and was (not surprisingly) directed to the Fox News item. It is being carried there, I suspect, because it is a story about an American icon who is being burned by the terrible tax burden he is now under as a result of the recent events in both Washington and California. Fox’s readers and viewers are expected to sympathize with Phil. Phil’s taxes are going up and he is distraught. Poor Phil.

Consider the fact that Phil makes an estimated $48 million a year, $43 million in endorsements alone. This puts him in a very high tax bracket indeed, not only from the Fed but also from California which recently passed Proposition 30 that raised taxes on the wealthy — which Phil certainly is. In any event, Phil will now be left with a meager $18 million to somehow try to get along on. I must say, I think I could manage, but then I am not accustomed to living the lifestyle Phil undoubtedly lives. I suppose he may have to buy a smaller plane. But, seriously folks, doesn’t that still seem to you to be an incredibly large annual income?

I heard about Phil’s plight on the Golf Channel while I was watching “The Morning Drive.”  The talking heads on that show were disappointed that Phil would drag out his dirty laundry in public. They didn’t comment on the obscene amount of money Phil would still be left with, but they thought it would have been best if he had kept this sort of thing between himself and his wife or his accountant. Good point. I give them high marks for that — though as you can imagine I would have gone a bit further. They did point out, however, that the average bloke out there who is  having trouble putting food on the table probably doesn’t want to hear a millionaire piss and moan about the fact that he has to pay higher taxes this year. Indeed.

But the larger point here is the lack of perspective of the very wealthy — which we saw in many of Mitt Romney’s comments during the recent campaign. They just don’t get it. Most people would have no idea what to do with $18 million in a lifetime, much less in a year. And yet Mickelson is now threatening to leave California or retire from golf because he is miffed about the fact that he will have to share a great deal of his money with those less fortunate than himself. After all, that’s what taxes are about: promoting the “common good.” And it might be wise to remind ourselves (and Phil) that this country enjoyed its greatest prosperity right after the Second World War when the wealthy in this country were paying taxes at the rate of around 90%. It might also help if we all think about the fact that Norwegians are taxed at a rate of 45% of their income and according to a recent study they are the happiest people on earth. Be cool, Phil.