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TSA pre-screening arrives in Hawaii this week

For almost a full decade after 911, what you submitted to in the interest of airport security was what the Transportation Security Administration told you to submit to. You took off your shoes, and often your belt, and removed computers from bags, and bought expensive food at the airport instead…

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Will falling unemployment re-elect the president?

Osama bin Laden and binders laden with women notwithstanding, all politics is economic, so every economic indicator has been presented as a political indicator for some months. But I’m not sure if the people who read the economic tea leaves know how to read the political ones. On Friday morning…

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Planes, buses and trains: Why we’re conflicted about being railroaded

An Amtrak train hit 111 mph Friday between Chicago and St. Louis, renewing hope among supporters of high-speed rail between certain U.S. cities, but there continues to be a curious battle between Republicans and Democrats over any sort of passenger rail. It’s curious because it’s an American phenomenon, and the…

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What banks can do to spur the economy

Many thanks to Ben Bernanke and the Fed governors for doing their part to goose the economy, especially that bit about agreeing to buy mortgage-backed securities. The idea is that banks will have fewer qualms about lending if they know there will be a market for those mortgage notes when…

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Music Post: When there’s more than one soloist

Classical music lovers who enjoy their piano concertos and violin concertos and cello concertos are aware that Brahms wrote a Double Concerto – violin and cello featured – and Beethoven wrote a Triple Concerto – featuring violin, cello and piano. Few people would rank these among the finest of the…

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Report from the interisland airline war

The history of Hawaii airlines is a history of a two-carrier market periodically shaken up by the entry of a third carrier that triggers a fare war. All the airlines then lose money until one goes broke. That was always the new player until last time, when Aloha Airlines died…

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The scariest thing about the coming election

My formula for addressing local groups, something I do a lot, is to offer an update on the economy that is (1) up to date through that morning, (2) tailored to that particular group, (3) uses no PowerPoint or other media aids of any type, so I don’t get tied…

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Low inflation and other economic indicators

There are 25,000 people in Hawaii who get Social Security checks, including 5,000 on the Big Island, 2,000 in Maui County, and almost 1,000 on Kauai. Washington sends them an average $14,000 a year in benefits. Next year the government will send them more, but not much more. The annual…

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What makes a saint?

Since Hawaii is abuzz with the idea of having two saints from Kalaupapa, I noticed while working on this week’s day-in-history segments that Mother Teresa, perhaps the most famous saintly person of my lifetime, isn’t a saint, having not yet satisfied a requirement for a second miracle. What is a saint? One…

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An economic sermon

Two of my relatives have had an interesting exchange on Facebook concerning the idea that if some people are prosperous it will ultimately be good for the rest of us. I see a teaching moment. One of my sisters – I have a large quantity of sisters, each one better…