Commentary: Some questions without easy answers

The Kansas City StarMarch 4, 2013 

The Dept. of Awkward Questions has been working overtime recently.

Please try to keep up.

Does adding government jobs — paid for with tax dollars from the private sector — really boost aggregate demand in the economy? Or does it just shift demand from the private sector to the government sector?

If the government is powerful enough to be the problem, why can’t it be part of the solution?

Given globalization, wouldn’t an international tax system with a level corporate tax rate stop companies from shifting income around to avoid taxation?

Isn’t knowing when to quit one of the best decisions a person can make?

Is it time to recognize we won’t meet President Barack Obama’s repeated goal to put a million electric vehicles on the roads by 2015?

Did you know that, because of fuel efficiency and, unfortunately, the recession, the U.S. is likely to reach Obama’s goal of cutting its 2005 greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020? And that the U.S. is beating the Europeans in reducing carbon emissions?

With the energy boom in the U.S. and world crude oil prices dropping, why are gasoline prices so high?

Isn’t ethanol a really bad deal?

Has WWIII already started, with cyber warfare?

Is Iran, with its unclear nuclear ambitions, just trying to drive us nuts?

How long will it be before interest on U.S. government debt surpasses annual defense spending?

Why does anybody still smoke?

What does it mean that in the U.S. the average family size now is down to 1.9 children, below the 2.1 needed for population stability?

Aren’t Ben Bernanke’s low interest rates, by boosting the prices of equities already owned by the well-off, just an example of trickle-down economics?

Why do some analysts think that mergers automatically lead to price increases?

When will more liberals wake up to the fact that the growth in entitlements for the elderly middle class is beginning to squeeze out progressive programs that would help younger families and children?

When will more conservatives realize that waste, fraud and abuse in government programs account for a tiny slice of our spending problems compared with the growth in entitlements for the elderly middle class?

Why aren’t the many low-tax states out there filling up with millionaires fleeing high-tax states?

Why isn’t this seen as a national tragedy? In November 2007, the U.S. labor market reached a peak of 139,143,000 jobs; now there are only 132,705,000 jobs.

In the State of the Union Address two weeks ago, can you remember a substantive proposal on jobs from the president?

Can you remember anything serious on jobs from GOP Sens. Marco Rubio or Rand Paul in their State of the Union replies?

Just why do Hollywood moviemakers get tax breaks?

Does economist Larry Summers have a point when he contends that not fixing our infrastructure now will be worse for succeeding generations than increasing the debt to repair the infrastructure?

Why don’t our politicians realize that, as Summers says, confidence is the cheapest stimulus?

Did anybody forecast just how fast cloud computing would take over our lives?

When will the beef industry realize consumers don’t want beef packed with drugs just so they can fatten steers faster?

Why do people excuse or even applaud unsavory political tactics used by the political party they agree with but condemn them when used by the other side?

Outside of urban schools, why don’t people realize that outside of urban schools we have a pretty good education system?

Did you know that mobile internet devices will outnumber humans this year?

Under a Republican president, wouldn’t The New York Times be calling for impeachment over the U.S. drone policy?

Why is it so hard to find out the costs of common health procedures such as hip replacements so we can comparison shop?

Is the Affordable Health Care Act too complicated?

When you’re in the hospital, do you really want to be taken care of by a nurse making little more than the minimum wage and working at the end of a fourth straight 12-hour shift?

Why is Jack Lew, who, as The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank pointed out, “received a big corporate payout for dubious work and who socked away money in the Cayman Islands,” going to be the next Treasury secretary?

Will the Republican base ever accept a path to citizenship by undocumented immigrants?

Did you know that just 21 percent of Americans own guns?

Isn’t New York City’s practice of locking up gun law offenders and throwing away the key the most effective gun control?

Aren’t people who ask so many questions irritating?

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