Storms, Baby Boxes, arms in airports, big government, Trump and Hitler

John Hunter Blog 74

Satellite Image of the ‘Storm of the Century’

   NASA posted a satellite image of the giant snow storm that hit the East Coast on January 22nd and 23rd.  The NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite took the image using a visible infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite in the Day-Night Band. Cool stuff. To see the image click on http://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/blizzard-bears-down-on-us-east-coast.

A Finnish Baby Box in Your Future?

   Leave it to the Scandinavians to invent a better mousetrap. The trap in this case is a baby box that holds a newborn plus everything needed to take care of the child during the first weeks of life. Beginning in the 1930s, the Finnish government has issued to all new parents a baby box for every birth. Finnish infant mortality rates have plummeted since then. The box contains the following: clothes, a towel, a quilt, diapers, bibs, a book and a toy. The program success rate recently prompted the Canadian government to study whether Canadian parents will benefit from a similar program. To read more about this unique approach to providing new parent support, click on http://www.upworthy.com/canada-is-adopting-one-of-finlands-greatest-ideas-baby-boxes/.

More People Bringing Guns to Airports

   The Transportation Safety Administration, TSA, reported recently an increase in the number of travelers bringing firearms in carry-on luggage to airports. What’s more troubling is that the agency reports 83% of the weapons were loaded. The TSA report indicated that 2015 saw a 20% increase from 2014 in airport weapons confiscations. Since statistics are what we make them, the fact that 40 million more passengers faced TSA screening in 2015 over the previous year, the increase in weapon carrying may be due in part to better screening. But skeptic that I am, I note that the TSA also reported only a five percent success rate in finding contraband weapons during airport security checks at 50 US airports in another recent news release. To read more about air travel security, click on http://www.govexec.com/technology/2016/01/tsa-americans-are-trying-bring-lot-more-loaded-guns-planes. Do you feel safer traveling today?

Big Government at Work

   Conservative critics of government size seem to ignore obvious government program successes. According to the Center for Disease Control, CDC, 86 million Americans suffer from type 2 Diabetes. Currently, this number constitutes more than one in three Americans. The agency reports also that more than 90% of individuals showing prediabetes symptoms don’t know it. The good news:  prediabetes symptoms are reversible with easy lifestyle changes. Prediabetes is serious because it can cause heart disease and stroke as well as diabetes. To see how you and your loved ones can avoid diabetes, visit http://www.cdc.gov/features/diabetesprevention/index.html. Now, no one likes to pay taxes, but sometimes tax dollars pay for necessary services. Should we allow small government proponents to eliminate CDC research programs just to lower taxes? What is your take?

Are Donald Trump Supporters Proto-Nazis?

  Maybe, says Matthew MacWilliams writing in www.politico.com. Political observers typically note that Donald Trump’s supporters exhibit certain characteristics. They are white, blue collar, earn lower incomes and have less education than supporters of other candidates. MacWilliams says this picture fails to recognize a more important element in Trump supporters.  More important, MacWilliams argues, is that Trump supporters exhibit authoritarian inclinations [think Nazis].

Since the end of World War ll, social scientists have studied the social inclinations possessed by former Hitler supporters to explain the size of such support for a clearly evil political figure. MacWilliams posits that because many Americans tend to support authoritarian ideas, Trump’s support may fall across the whole political spectrum which includes Democrats as well as Independents.

To support the claim, MacWilliams  references research conducted by political scientist, Marc Hetherington in 2008. Hetherington’s research found that authoritarianism mattered more than income, ideology, gender, age and education in predicting voter support for a particular candidate. To read this thought provoking article, click on http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/01/donald-trump-2016-authoritarian-213533.

If MacWilliams’ argument is correct, then the supporters of Donald Trump may pose a greater threat to American society and values than the candidate himself. Wow!    And so it goes.