Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, …

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

-William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming


Work has meant many things to many people.

With the advent of social media, we have seen a deep concern about bullying arise from a variety of quarters. But bullies, of course, aren’t a new phenomenon and they come in a variety of types.

“Fractured family structures don’t cause poverty. Poverty causes these [fractured] family structures.” Emily Badger, The Atlantic/City Lab.

The death penalty is back in the headlines. James Holmes, the man who killed 12 innocent victims in a Aurora, Colorado theater, was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole, instead of capital punishment.

Last fall an article in Forbes magazine asked “Can you retire on a million dollars?”

Unless a retiree decides to spend a substantial nest egg willy-nilly, why wouldn’t a relatively prudent retiree with a million dollars live a comfortable retirement?

 The world has no sympathy with any but positive griefs; it will pity you for what you lose, but never for what you lack.  – Anne Sophie Swetchine, Russian-French author (1782-1857)

Democratic presidents back to Harry Truman have pushed for universal health care in the United States. President Clinton made it his primary initiative back in the 1990s, only to have his efforts fall short at the hands of a Republican Congress. Considering that the U.S. is the only modern industrialized nation that does not have health care for all its citizens, policymakers in many nations have trouble understanding how the richest nation in the world could let tens of millions of its citizens become ill or die or become bankrupt because they can’t afford health insurance. Many in this country have been puzzled too.

“It was the delicate balance of individualism and the polis [sovereign state], the citizens’ utter devotion to its good, that made Athens unique.” – Joan Breton Connelly, The Parthenon Enigma

We are fortunate to live in the oldest democratic republic in existence. The freedom and individualism have provided a foundation for the highly touted American exceptionalism we frequently hear about.

If you have been to Williamsburg, Virginia, you may have an idea of how a quaint pre-industrial community looked on this continent 250 years ago. Picture the village surrounded by a few large plantation sized operations and many family farms.

Last month the world commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day to recognize the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the concentration and extermination camps operated by Nazi Germany during World War II. Civilized nations want to make sure that people don’t forget the atrocities that took place in those camps.

It wasn’t that long ago that most people died of infectious diseases, acute illnesses, and accidents.There was often little time between the onset of the problem and the person’s death. But clean water and air, and vaccines, and better understanding of what keeps us healthy has given us longer life spans on average. And today most are living long enough to be struck by cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases – many of which we refer to as age-related, although some strike occasionally at earlier ages. These problems can last ten, twenty, or more years, and are most often managed more than they are cured.

Back in the '40s, when I was growing up in Muskegon, there were two ways that my family used to visit Grandma and Grandpa in Detroit. The first was the family car, which my dad preferred. He would pile Mom, my sister and me in our old Chevy, and then embark on a grueling, and sometimes harrowing, six-hour trip on two-lane U.S. 16, with one stop around halfway. We all dreaded it.

We hear it from all quarters: our nation is deeply in debt. Our spending is out of control, certainly in Social Security, the big entitlement demanded by greedy older Americans.

Everyone should be married, ‘cause someday you’re gonna run into a problem that you can’t blame on the gov’mint.  – Unknown

In our nation, we have two avenues for citizens to improve their well-being. The first is the individual pursuit of private interests, including personal wealth. It has been the source of most of our national wealth, and the ready  availability of desired goods and services. It’s referred to as the free market, or capitalism in the U.S., and it elevates the individual and his or her self-interest as the primary force to maintain our national prosperity.

Remember North Central Airlines? If you’re over fifty, you may. North Central would bring to Ross Field each day a couple silver Convair 580 aircraft adorned with the blue goose on the tail to pick up Twin City travelers to take them to O’Hare Field to connect with flights beyond.

The local Rotary Club, of which I am a member, has instituted a policy of asking new members to tell the club why they chose to belong to Rotary. It’s a great way for new members, mostly younger, to share their perceptions of the community and of the service club community. They reveal solid insight on the problems facing our local community, and their concern is sincere and often inspiring. The local service club community is lucky to have these younger generations to draw from.

“A capitalist hires people only as a last resort.”  - Nick Hanauer, venture capitalist, on CNN

According to most surveys, the issue about which most Americans worry is the economy. But stocks are hitting record levels, profits are up, corporations are sitting on trillions of dollars, dividends are increasing. What’s to complain about?

A nation must have skilled plumbers, as well as skilled philosophers, or neither its theories nor its pipes will hold water.  – Unknown

Labor Day is almost upon us. It’s the day we set aside to salute America’s workforce, particularly those who build and maintain our homes, provide our infrastructures, transport us and our goods, clean up our messes, organize files, sell products, support those of us who need help.  How shall we celebrate? With huge rallies and parades? With high-flown speeches about the dignity of work? With fireworks?

Early in the Twentieth Century, most older Americans were at serious risk of poverty. Pension plans were unknown for workers. Few made enough to put substantial amounts aside to support themselves in their later years.

Life expectancy was lower than it is today for those managing to live beyond their working years, so many simply died before they exhausted their skimpy savings.

Yes, we’ve fallen in love with technology, and patients are crying out, saying, “Sit down and listen to me.” – Dr. Charles Hatem, professor at Harvard Medical School.

My first serious encounter with our nation’s medical system occurred when I was in the fifth grade. I had returned home from a happy Cub Scout meeting with a slightly upset stomach. A few hours later I was doubled over in pain, throwing up most of what I had eaten in the last two days.