Randy Evans's blog

Why my journalism ulcer works overtime

Last week was a time for setbacks in the United States. The only question is which setback was greater.

Was it President Donald Trump’s standing in the eyes of the American people, with a book filled with fresh allegations about chaos inside his White House?

Or was it American journalism’s standing in the eyes of the American people that suffered the most?

Let’s give our farmers another shot at diplomacy

A new year is just around the corner.

But instead of tipping a celebratory glass of champagne on New Year’s Eve, a big tumbler filed with Maalox seems more appropriate this time.

For all of the optimism that usually accompanies a new year, the arrival of 2018 is being dogged by anxiety about war breaking out on the Korean peninsula.

This big entitlement flies under the radar: federal crop insurance subsidies for U.S. farmers

Watching events unfold in Washington, D.C., these days is much like watching Wile E. Coyote pursue the Road Runner in the cartoons from years gone by.

When the Coyote and the Road Runner were on the screen, you knew what was coming next.

So it is with the federal income tax overhaul bill that Republicans in Congress are determined to approve this week and send to President Trump.

We know what will be coming next: Federal budget-cutting.

Iowa leaders have been dithering too long

You’ve got to hand it to people along America’s Gulf Coast who support their families as commercial shrimpers and fishermen.

They certainly are patient.

For the past 25 years, the challenges they face in finding an adequate supply of shrimp and fish have grown larger and more expensive.

And Iowans are a key factor in this problem.

We should not forget the strangers in need

Each summer at schools across Iowa, a new batch of kindergartners heads in the front door for the first time. Not surprisingly, there are occasional tears.

Some flow from the new students who are apprehensive about what may await them inside. Some come from the parents who are emotional about this milestone in their young children’s lives.

When the 2016-2017 academic year was concluding last spring, there were more tears, this time from an unexpected source – a 23-year-old man.

We need common sense about huge numbers

Back in my working days, back when I supervised The Des Moines Register’s business news staff, one of the columnists confessed to our readers that he had trouble balancing his checkbook.

My boss didn’t think a business columnist had any business making such a confession.

But the columnist was only admitting what many people, if they are truthful, could admit – and that’s their own challenges with mathematics.

The experts call this math anxiety.

At the risk of sending you scurrying to get away from your own childhood phobias over long division, this is an excellent time to dig into people’s anxieties with math. You can’t follow the news these days without be bombarded by many, many millions, by bunches of billions, and by tons of trillions.

Don’t look at sexual abuse through a political lens

Years ago, somewhere around 1990, my wife and I and our two daughters visited my Aunt Elnora, who lived in Arkansas.

Last week, I found myself remembering that trip – especially the Arkansas newspaper article I read while my aunt was doting over the Evans girls.

The article dealt with the popular Arkansas governor at the time, Bill Clinton, who was being mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for president. In the article, Clinton told reporters that if he decided to run, he would not be addressing rumors that he had engaged in extramarital affairs and sexual encounters.

I knew nothing of the rumors until then. But I knew it would be impossible for Clinton to stick to that I-won’t-comment position if he decided to jump into the presidential race. The public generally doesn’t accept silence from government officials or would-be government officials when shenanigans are suspected.

Congress doesn’t operate like you and I do

If our households operated the way the United States does, members of our extended families would be planning an intervention to get us to see the error of our ways.

Why?

Fifteen years ago, our household was on track to pay off our assorted debts. We were doing that by spending less than the paychecks we brought home.

But now our household finances are in shambles. We gave up our fiscal discipline two decades ago and decided we could afford to be more freewheeling with our money.

For the past 15 years, we have lived off our credit cards, spending more each year than we brought home in income. Those credit cards now have astronomical balances.

It’s a tragedy what is NOT happening since Vegas

The funerals are over, all 58 of them.

But the mourning goes on, as it has since that horrible night and as it will for countless nights to come.

The injured are slowly mending, an eye-popping 540 people.

But for some, they will never fully heal. Even if they do, many will be financially crippled for years to come.

It’s been one month, and that’s where things stand after that night of music and jubilation in Las Vegas was transformed into a nightmare in a matter of a few minutes and many hundreds of bullets.

There’s one more update you need to know about, too:

The Republican majority in Congress has, for all practical purposes, moved on and is letting the tragedy of Las Vegas slip into the dust bin of history.

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