Trump Wins Trade War As Global Markets Plummet

It is early July, well before this article goes online, yet the landscape is pretty clear from where I stand. The U.S. and China both raised tariffs on $34 billion worth of goods Friday, July 6. This did not deter the S&P 500 from continuing its charge up to the January 26 all-time high. To boot, unemployment is historically low and the Fed is set to raise rates twice before the year ends - all this amidst a stealth discretionary spending recession.

So, how about that trade war? Let's recap. Most folks would agree that the free trade of goods would be best for all concerned. Goods would be less expensive and those that could not compete on price would do so on quality, leading to a beneficial improvement of goods. All is well and good until protectionism and nationalism rear their ugly heads. Some nations have goods that find it difficult to compete on the basis of price and/or quality. Globally, world leaders of such nations are unapologetic in pursuing their nation's interests at the expense of others. In trying to avoid the image of the ugly American, we have often placed ourselves at a disadvantage. Nowhere is this more evident than in trade were our trading partners often have a clear advantage.

U.S. Census Data shows that we have a trade deficit with every trading region except for South and Central America and Australia/Oceania. At only $33.14 and $14.38 billion, respectively, the last four years and a combined trade of $310.44 billion this pales in comparison with the deficit for the rest of the world, -$844.66 billion, whose combined trade is $3.578 trillion. Below are 2014-2017 averages for most of the world in billions:
Canada: -$20.01
European Union: -$149.61
Asia: -$547.49
Africa: -$2.60

China is a case in point. Aware of the huge financial benefit that comes with their 1.38 billion consumers, they extract huge concessions from their trading partners, including the U.S. When they have not barred certain U.S. business sectors, they restrict or regulate business, place tariffs on goods, or coerce intellectual property release. Note this goes one way; there is no intellectual property sharing.

These noncompetitive business practices are not fair, but until now, U.S. companies have accepted them without much push back as the cost of doing business there. That is until Trump. What Chinese leaders need to realize is that they are not in a good bargaining position and the longer they hold out the more harm will come to their economy.

Here is why. Leaders of the government-run economy are well aware of their history and realize the huge Chinese population is not going to put up with poor conditions forever. To keep discontent at bay, they have a policy of inflated economic growth. According to Trading Economics, they have averaged 11.7% GDP growth for the past 10 years but chinks in their armor are showing. From the 2010-2011 heyday, where GDP grew 19% and 24%, growth has dropped steadily and sometimes precipitously. It was 5.56% and 1.14% in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Little wonder that worried central government figures have made a big push since then for increasing their global exports, including those to the U.S., resulting in a resumption of GDP growth to 9.35% in 2017. The prospect of increased tariffs, which would make their goods less competitive, runs afoul of those plans. China's economy is struggling and their stock market is testament to that. The smaller Shenzhen composite moved into bear market territory in February and the Shanghai composite closed in bear territory on Tuesday, June 27. The indexes went as low as -26.5% and -25.0 on July 5 but have recently recovered to -22.5 and -21.2%, respectively, as global markets have climbed in tandem with U.S. markets. That is still in bear market territory, which will curtail much need foreign investment. Meanwhile, U.S. GDP is growing steadily, the economy seems to be healthy, and the stock market is nearing new heights. Trump can ratchet up the tariff game longer knowing he has more economic wiggle room. Moreover, he can inflict more pain to the Chinese economy than they can to ours.

To see why, let's look at the trade numbers. The trade deficit with China has averaged -$358.68 billion the last four years in a rising trend. While U.S. exports have vacillated between $110-129 billion since 2012, Chinese imports have steadily increased from $315 to 375 billion. Last year the deficit was -$375.58 billion, of which $129.89 billion were U.S. exports to China and $505.47 billion were U.S. Chinese imports. Not only is trade unbalanced, so are tariffs. Prior to this year, U.S. tariffs on Chinese agricultural and non-agricultural goods were 2.5% and 2.9%, respectively, while Chinese tariffs on U.S. goods were 9.7% and 5% for the same. True, these had been going down from a 14.1% average prior to 2001 when China joined the World Trade Organization but that was part of the price and tariffs are much higher for some industries.

Below are the top 10 U.S. exports to China in 2017 according to the International Trade Centre Trade Map
Aircraft, spacecraft - $16.3 billion
Vehicles - $13.2 billion
Oil Seed - $13 billion
Machinery - $12.9 billion
Electronic equipment - $12.1 billion
Medical, technical equipment - $8.8 billion
Mineral fuels including oil - $8.6 billion
Plastics - $5.7 billion
Woodpulp - $3.4 billion
Wood - $3.2 billion
Total - $97.7 billion

Together they account for 74.8% of all exports that year. Note that except for oil seed, mostly soybeans, the rest are non-agricultural products. But their tariffs are not the same and depend on how strategic the product is. For example, Chinese cars cannot compete with American ones so the latter have duties ranging between 21% and 30%. Compare that to a maximum of 2.5% for Chinese car imports to the U.S.

Therein lies the rub. The Chinese can only raise imports so much more on these goods, some of which have few suppliers outside the U.S. As a result, some of the announced tariff hikes are empty rhetoric with few teeth. Just as an example, China announced 25% tariffs on aircraft, but not all aircraft - just those with an "empty weight" of 15,000 to 45,000 kilograms. While it may seem like China is taking aim at Boeing, it turns out the stipulations only target older 737's being phased out of production, while not touching the larger models comprising the bulk of Boeing's trade. China desperately needs to grow their airline industry. It is estimated 7000 new planes will be needed in the next 20 years. With Airbus working at near full capacity, there is no alternative but to turn to Boeing for the remainder.

The same goes for soybeans, the bulk of Chinese agricultural imports. China is the world's top pork market and they need soybeans for feed. It turns out Brazil and the U.S. are the top two global soybean suppliers. Brazil has been cranking up production for years and now constitutes 57% of Chinese soybean imports. This came mostly at the expense of the U.S., but Brazil does not have the capacity to make up for the remaining 31% in U.S. soybean exports to China. As a result, the planned 25% increase in tariffs will hurt Chinese pork farmers directly.

Ultimately, the sheer size of the trade imbalance will play in Trump's favor. With $500 billion dollars of goods at risk for China vs. only $130 billion for the U.S., China's fate is sealed. That is, provided Trump is persistent in raising the bar while keeping disgruntled American businessmen at bay. Historians may recall a similar unrelenting raising of the bar eventually caused Russia to capitulate during Reagan's tenure. It does not help China that it is already running up against its tariff limit.

We are already seeing that endgame play out. Just four days after both countries raised taxes equilaterally, Trump announced 10% tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods. There was no equilateral retaliation China could muster after the late Tuesday, July 10 announcement. Instead, China announced it would hit back in other ways - probably by selling U.S. Treasuries, which would flood the medium- and long-term bond market causing bond prices to fall and yields to rise.

Regarding the latter, Trump's victory will come at a cost. Bolstered by his success with China, Trump will continue to pursue his trade normalization agenda with other trade partners. Although trade is fairly balanced with the U.K., the European Union had a $173.58 billion trade advantage last year on a $839 billion trade. Not only that, but the E.U. has made it a habit to go after American tech giants it cannot compete with. Think Qualcomm in 2018, Google in 2017, Facebook in 2017, Apple in 2016, and Microsoft in 2013. Japan is on the same boat. Our deficit with Japan averaged -$68.59 billion from 2014-2017 and stood last year at -$68.88 billion on a $204 billion trade. Although government regulations have eased under Prime Minister Abe, Japan has a culture of impeding foreign investment, particularly in the financial sector. Moreover, they have high tariffs on dairy (up to 40%) and meat (38.5% on beef) products, which account for $6.1 billion of U.S. exports to the country. Trump has made it clear they are also in play and they have fired salvos in return.

Given the posturing by all parties involved, tariffs will be higher going forward than they were before. This will raise the price of U.S. goods abroad, making them less competitive. This will, in turn, impact earnings for our larger, international firms. Our stock market may be flirting with highs right now, but I believe this will be the catalyst to the market downturn as Investors, looking ahead, bid down these stocks. Moreover, tariffs on imports will inevitably lead to inflation. We are already at the Fed's 2% comfort level so any visibility on higher inflation will incite the Fed to head it off by hiking fed funds rates beyond their current path. Their incentive to do so will be bolstered if China retaliates with a Treasury selling program, as higher 10-year Treasury rates relieve the Fed of yield curve inversion worries.

A stock market downturn will reverse the wealth effect we have been seeing recently on our economy and combined with export losses, this undoubtedly will lead to job losses and higher unemployment. On top of all that, the stealth discretionary recession we have been experiencing, will make itself clearly evident as U.S. peak spender populations continue to decline all the way until 2023. This is not an incident unique to the U.S. World population growth increased from 1946 to 1968, peaking at 2.09% per year that year, coinciding with the bulk of our Baby Boomer bulge. Since then it has been steadily decreasing until it reached 1.09% at the beginning of this year. Peak spenders are those 46-50 years old and if we take 1968 as the mid-point of their population zenith, they topped out in 2016. That is a main reason populous nations, like China, have been concerned with slowing consumerism the past couple of years. The upshot is we will see a global drop in discretionary spending for at least the next five years. This will result in an accelerated global economic downturn for the next five years and plummeting global stock markets for the next few years.

I am an investor, two decades plus student of the market, professor, and author of "And Then the Tempest - The Imminent Financial Meltdown is Real and What to do About it." I was the founder and chairman of the Idaho State University Budget Committee in 2007. As such, I warned the university of the impending recession and real estate crisis and helped steer finances during those tumultuous years. Today, I warn folks of a coming economic storm, indeed, it's already knocking at the door and could prove more catastrophic than the Financial Crisis. Check out my website,, and posts at to find out more.

By Karl De Jesus

More Jobs Added, But Unemployment Goes Up? Welcome to Our New Reality

The U.S. economy added 213,000 jobs in June, more than the 195,000 expected. Job numbers for May were revised up to 244,000 from 223,00. How is it then that unemployment jumped from 3.8% to 4.0%?

Welcome to the new reality where job gains are undone by an increase in labor force participation. It stood at 62.7% in May and rose to 62.9% in June. That 0.2% increase amounts to 601,000 folks who decided job prospects had improved enough to make it worthwhile.

What is worrisome is that, although we are close to the average labor force participation rate, it has averaged 62.99% since data compilation began in 1950, levels were much higher until recently. Throughout the 90's and up to 2002, the average was closer to 67% and only dipped slightly, to 66%, with the advent of the Great Recession. Since then, however, labor participation steadily dwindled until plateauing below 63% since 2014. If labor participation was ever to normalize, i.e. get back to pre-Financial Crisis levels, it would mean a jump of 9.6 to 12.6 million new entrants into the job market. At the current job creation rate it would take 4.5 to 6.0 years to assimilate those workers with unemployment rates jumping to 7% in the interim.

So, maybe the job picture is not as rosy as it is currently being painted. Certainly, the wages side of the equation is not that alluring to prospective entrants. Hourly wages only rose 0.2% from the prior month and 2.7% over the year. They rose 0.3% and 0.15% in May and April, respectively, over the previous month and 2.7% and 2.4% over the previous year. If labor markets were tight, as many pundits claim, wage pressures should be much higher. Back in March 2000, for example, when labor participation was around 67% and the unemployment rate stood at 4.1%, average hourly earnings rose 3.6% on a year to year basis. Likewise, in 2008, when the labor participation rate was 66% and unemployment was 4.9%, average hourly earnings rose 3.7%.

While not gangbuster wage growth numbers, however, they should allay the Fed's fears that wage pressures will lead to inflation growth above 2% anytime soon. Nevertheless, the "real" unemployment numbers should give Fed members pause. Maybe the job market and the economy are not as healthy as they surmise and perhaps caution is merited as they consider further rate increases. Instead, the June meeting minutes indicate the Fed considers conditions robust enough to remove accommodative language in their policy statement and that they should continue undaunted in raising the fed funds rate above the neutral level by next year.

About the only concern the Fed had was the flattening of the yield curve. Historically this is a harbinger for recessions, which led to a discussion regarding a recession lurking around the corner and global trade tensions as a potential cause.

Personally, I feel there is some stealthy, nefarious force behind those labor participation and wage numbers. My suspicion is that the demographic forces I have previously written about are at work here. And we should thread carefully on the economy's brake pedal until we can be certain of those forces.

I am an investor, two decades plus student of the market, professor, and author of "And Then the Tempest - The Imminent Financial Meltdown is Real and What to do About it." I was the founder and chairman of the Idaho State University Budget Committee in 2007. As such, I warned the university of the impending recession and real estate crisis and helped steer finances during those tumultuous years. Today, I warn folks of a coming economic storm, indeed, it's already knocking at the door and could prove more catastrophic than the Financial Crisis. Check out my website,, and posts at to find out more.

By Karl De Jesus

A Population Denied

As with all things seasons come and go and we all get old. Some age with dignity and grace while others succumb to illness or injury. It is these poor souls who suffer a more debilitating fate. In this the spring of 2018 when science and medicine have reached new heights there still remains an overwhelming urgency to stem the rising tide of all the inflections of so many.

In an age of unprecedented change the United States remains the last hold-out that will not provide adequate health insurance for all. Health insurance that secures the health and stability of a nation. If you are one of the overwhelming majority of impoverished the cold reality today is akin to a famous line from Charles Dickens " Scrooge." The life saving drugs, treatments and operations that should be available to all are reserved for those fortunate few that can afford them.

With the Republican mindset of today with too many elected officials still beholden to the insurance lobby our for profit health insurance policies have only put this nations health in grave jeopardy. When a nations health is as sick as ours while millions of dollars keeps flowing into the campaign coffers of our elected officials continues to be a recipe for disaster. It is a known fact that the United States spends billions of dollars in health care but, is by far one of the least healthiest nation. The death care policies of today has only shortened life spans for both men and women. Other countries especially Sweden or Norway have one of the healthiest populations in the world and spend far less than the United States.

It is unconscionable that millions of Americans continue to languish in dire need of medical or dental care. Health care that not only would greatly add to the quality of life but would produce economic results beneficial to the stability and growth of this nation. Too many times a bill has come before Congress that outlines Universal Health Care. From Truman to Ted Kennedy the passage of Universal Health Care that they so valiantly tried to pass died a tragic death on the floors of Congress. When Obama passed the Affordable Health Care Act in 2010 was a small step in the right direction but failed to adequately provide health insurance for all Americans. All that bill did was fatten the insurance companies wallets while depleting what ever disposable incomes too many Americans have.

The travesty in America today is that our elected officials no longer see themselves as employees of the public but see the public as their employees. And, as such the public continues to be denied the opportunities to lead richer and fuller lives. When the soap opera in the White House finally reaches the final act, I hope very soon, makes it essential that Congress passes Senator Sanders Medicare For All, a Universal Health Care bill.

The United States can no longer sit idle and let this country as sick as it is remain the only country that does not take care of all it's citizens. We have to always remember the health, vitality and stability of a nation depends on the health and vitality of all it's citizens. Only in this way can this nation have a longer and more productive future.

By Dr. Tim G Williams

The Danger of Losing Hope for Public Education

Currently, equitable education is not provided on a worldwide scale. Furthermore, the socioeconomic achievement gap is becoming wider apart than ever, leaving many bright minds undiscovered. This inequity in education is unacceptable, as it infringes not only on individual rights but also on society's morality and progression as a whole.

I find the issue of education especially personal, as public education was how I overcame my adversities, I grew up in a financially insecure, immigrant family in which I had many household responsibilities. I translated constantly for my parents, and I was expected to pay for my own financial expenses. However, as soon as I poured my energy into school work, I learned that knowledge was an equal playing field. It didn't matter who I was but only what I knew.

My free twelve years of schooling has allowed me to become a leader, serve others, and find my voice. I keep this constantly in mind, understanding I am beyond lucky to have had a public education. Without this education, I wouldn't be a Northwestern student. I would be a high school dropout, driving for Uber or working at a fast food restaurant like my parents who could not get a privilege to receive public education.

Because education is so important, students of all backgrounds should be able to attend school. Specifically, more focus should be on underprivileged school districts. Furthermore, it is essential to reinstate authority back to the teachers and students. This is to ensure that administrators spearhead education policy instead of uninformed government leaders. What is best for our students should no longer be overshadowed by politics. By listening to the people our legislation most affects, we can make better law.

According to The Atlantic, educators have criticized Trump administration's budget proposal detailing over $9 billion in education cuts, including slashes to funds for after-school programs that serve mostly low-income students. Moreover, these cuts came along with increased funding for school-privatization efforts such as school vouchers. United States Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos has repeatedly gestured her support for school choice and privatization, as well as her disdain for public schools, describing them as a "dead end".

Such cynicism suggests there is no hope for public education. However, this mindset is demonstrably false and even dangerous. Current discussion repeatedly ignores public schools' victories by trivializing their civic role. Our public-education system is about much more than personal achievement; it is about preparing people to work together to advance not just themselves but the whole society. Unfortunately, the current debate's focus on individual rights and choices has distracted many politicians and policy makers from a key stakeholder: our nation as a whole.

The Founding Fathers understood that a healthy democracy required education. Thomas Jefferson, among other historical titans, believed that a functioning democracy required an educated citizenry. Importantly, he viewed education as a public good to be included in the "Articles of public care," despite his personal preference for the private sector in most matters. John Adams, another advocate of public schooling, urged, "There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the expense of the people themselves."

In the centuries since, the courts have consistently affirmed the momentous status of public schools as a cornerstone of the American democratic project. In its vigorous defense of students' civil liberties, the Supreme Court has always held public schools to an particularly high standard precisely because they play a unique role in fostering citizens.

This role is not limited to civics instruction; public schools also provide students with crucial exposure to people of different backgrounds and perspectives. Americans have a closer relationship with the public-school system than with any other shared institution. But in the past few decades, we have allowed school system to grow more segregated, both racially and socioeconomically through privatization of such institutions.

Diane Ravich, an esteemed educational policy analyst, writes that "one of the greatest glories of the public school was its success in Americanizing immigrants." At their best, public schools did even more than that, integrating both immigrants and American-born students from a range of backgrounds into one citizenry. As an immigrant who moved to U.S without any prior exposure to its language or culture I can certainly affirm that my public education was a major factor that helped me to become a part of this society.

During times when our media preferences, political affiliations, and cultural tastes seem more disparate than ever, abandoning this amalgamating factor is a real threat to our future. And yet we seem to be headed in just that direction. The story of American public education has generally been one of continuing progress, as girls, children of color, and children with disabilities (among others) have redeemed their constitutional right to push through the schoolhouse gate.

Particularly, the courage that Ruby Nell Bridges displayed as the first black child to attend a white school continues to inspire people. During the process of racial desegregation in the 1960s, this six year-old activist became the first African-American student to integrate a white Southern elementary school, escorted to class by U.S. marshals due to violent mobs. It is noteworthy that the white school Ruby attended for her continued Civil Rights action was a public school. Out of all the school choices she had - charter school, magnet school, private school, or even homeschool - she chose a public school as a battleground to grant equitable education to everyone. This further emphasizes that public schools do not only foster youth to become responsible citizens or forge a common culture from a nation of immigrants; they also play a significant role at reducing inequalities in American society.

In conclusion, in this era of growing fragmentation, we urgently need a renewed commitment to the idea that public education is a worthy investment, one that pays dividends not only to individual families but to our society as a whole.

By Esther S Park

Who Cares? Some Questions for Our Social Care Industry

I write this in the hope that the reader like me would wish to draw attention to the plight of a group of people in our community. These people are amongst the lowest paid and often the lowest regarded while at the same time carry out an essential and vital service that the most vulnerable of us depend on. I speak of social care workers who work tirelessly to ensure that the disabled, the infirm, the elderly and those near to the end of their lives are comfortable, safe and cared for.

Social care workers are charged with massive amounts of responsibility, they are expected to understand and comply with the complex regulations and legislation that apply to social care. During the induction process of the company I work for we were addressed by the CEO who informed us that social care is the second most regulated industry in the UK, second only to the nuclear power industry. Of course this level of regulation is necessary to protect the vulnerable.

We can all look forward to the advancing of years and anyone of us can fall victim to debilitating disease, it's not just our parents or our grandparents that we need to consider but it is us as well. The care we give to those in need now will be the same care the we ourselves will come to need in the future. Will we be satisfied when we are in receipt of the care that our community has to offer? Can we be sure that the care that we want to receive will be as good as the care that we currently afford those in need?

What is it that draws people to work in the social care industry? Is it the financial rewards of being a care worker that motivates and inspires the industries workforce. With most social care workers being paid an hourly rate at or near the National Minimum Wage it would require a person to work eighty hours a week to earn what is currently our nations average income, when you add on the hours of unpaid travel time that most social care workers do. So perhaps it's not the money!

Is it the zero hours contracts, that are widely used in social care settings, that attract people? M'mm I wonder how mortgage providers view applications from people on zero hours contracts, even if they are working for eighty hours a week? Care company executives say their workers like these contracts as it gives them flexibility. What rubbish! What they do is provide a flexible workforce to companies at the expense of their low paid staff's security. Besides, since June 2014 when the Flexible Working Initiative was implemented all workers are entitled to apply to their employers for flexible working conditions. Employers can only refuse if they can prove it would damage their business.

Obviously social care workers are valued by their employers, or are they? The company that I work for are among many that say they value their staff but some of the employment practices they use bring this into question. I will describe below a number of examples:

Payment for sickness absence: Statutory Sick Pay is the norm here, which provides £88.45 a week to staff once they have been off for four consecutive days. Because it is paid on a daily rate and only for the days that a person normally works, not everyone will receive the full weekly allowance. A social care worker who continues to work while unwell and possibly with an infection would put their vulnerable clients at risk and is expected to absent themselves from work. Unfortunately a carers professionalism is not rewarded and it's not too difficult to envisage why someone would prefer to carry on working. I personally have picked up infections from clients which have resulted in me taking time off work to recover. Like all social care workers I am obliged to observe strict infection prevention and control practices but even with the best working practices infections and virus's put workers at risk. Instead of being compensated for the effects of a workplace hazard, social care workers are often penalised financially.

The law states that care workers time spent travelling between care calls counts as working time and should be used in the calculation to ensure all workers receive the National Minimum Wage. Very few care providing companies observe this ruling. My employer has introduced a policy that states if a worker has 30 minutes or more between clients they assume the worker has had time to take a break, irrespective of how long is spent travelling and is therefor not entitled to any pay for their time spent travelling. Unfortunately this policy was agreed by a HMRC National Minimum Wage Compliance Officer (who obviously didn't understand the rules). Discussions with managers has resulted in me being told by an executive that until the HMRC or a judge tells them differently their policy will stand. Does that support the view that I am valued?

A recent ruling by the European Courts on the Working Time Directive means that workers who travel to their place of work but don't have a regular office or workshop base have to be paid for the time spent travelling to their first call and from their last call back to their home. No doubt this will have caused the policy makers in Care Providers up and down the land to draft reasons why they should ignore this ruling. I believe the company I work for are to make an announcement on this sometime in the future.

Most community based social care workers need to own or have access to a motor vehicle to carry out their work. This wasn't a requirement in my terms of employment and I don't know of any other workers who have that in their contract. But in most cases it would not be possible to work without having means of transport. It is a company requirement however for me to have my car insured for business as well as pleasure.

My company pays me 35p per mile for using my car, yet it costs me 52p per mile to operate it (AA 2013 rates). The HMRC say I can receive 45p per mile tax free for using my own car and because of this I am able to claim tax relief on the difference of what I am paid and what the HMRC will allow. So, as I pay income tax at the 20% rate I claim 2p per mile back at the end of each tax year. The result is, I subsidise my employer by 15p for every mile that I use my car on their behalf.

My employer tells me that their mileage reimbursement policy is a generous one in comparison to what other companies pay. This is indeed a problem throughout the industry and is again something that questions the value placed on social care workers by their employers. Also the company I work for charges clients when we take them out in our cars on domestic and pleasure trips at the rate of 40p per mile but only 35p per mile is paid to the member of staff who buys, taxes, insures, fuels and maintains the vehicle. Does this help us feel valued?

I recently experienced another instance of feeling less than valued. This resulted from a letter from our CEO announcing what the new rates of pay will be after the increase to the National Minimum Wage hourly rate as from 1st October. This new hourly rate is 5p per hour above NMW, which is exactly the same as my hourly rate was two years ago before I did a Level 3 Diploma in Health & Social Care. It was a condition of my employment that I undergo NVQ training. I did this study in my own free time in the belief that I would receive an enhancement of 34p per hour on completion and receipt of my certificates. I don't regret studying for and gaining the qualifications I now have, I am however disappointed to discover that my efforts are not valued as much as I was led to believe they would be.

Do we now live in an age where it is unfashionable to value employees? Or is it simply that we can't afford to? Our government are on a programme of reducing costs, services and taxes in a determined effort to reduce our national debt. The wisdom of these measures and whether they will in fact prove effective will be for the future to decide. What is actually happening now, is having an effect now.

The local authorities who are the main commissioners of social care have seen year on year reductions in the central grants that they receive from government. In other words central government is squeezing local government. As a result local authorities have less resources to direct towards social care, the rates they are prepared or in fact can offer to care providers are affected by this. The effect of this is the local authorities/commissioners in turn are squeezing the care providers.

I understand from senior managers that more and more the local authorities offer lower hourly rates for care than the actual cost to the company for providing that care. So then, it's not too difficult to conclude that the care providers in turn are squeezing their social care workers in order to survive. Yes, that means me; I am being squeezed. Why don't they simply say to the commissioners 'no, we can't do that'? I suspect that if they did there would be no shortage of other companies that would say 'we can do it'. Perhaps there are too many care provider companies.

The effect of being squeezed is that I feel less valued than I did. The knowledge that my employers are now taking on work that costs them more than they receive for doing it does not give me confidence or indeed job security. Central government have made laws and regulations that stipulate that I should be paid a minimum for each hour that I work, yet it seems that they contribute to the reasons that in real terms I get less than my entitlement.

This debate is not just about how we as a society treat low paid workers. The fact that low paid workers are valued less than they should be by this continued 'squeezing' is a symptom of the problem which we have to address.

I think it's now an accepted fact that all developed nations have ageing populations. Advances in medical sciences mean that we can all look forward to living longer both when we are in good health and also when we require looking after by others. What we have to decide is, how important is good social care, how do we want to fund it and how much are we prepared to spend on it, simple!

The difficulty, is getting us all to agree. Our politicians, when they want us to vote for them, tell us that they will make sure that our health and social services will be funded so that we get the best care. After the election the government tells us that they have to make difficult decisions that result in cutting the budgets on care. The parties in opposition say they would do it differently but their debating doesn't change anything. Meanwhile the budgets continue to be cut, the services in turn are trimmed and some stopped altogether which doesn't improve the care for those in need or the plight of the social care worker. So perhaps we can't leave it entirely in the hands of politicians. What can we do?

Given that all the influence, control and squeezing is from the top downwards isn't making life any better for social care workers and the people they look after, can we start creating pressure from the bottom and push it back up? I think we can. We can tell our employers that it is no longer acceptable to squeeze us, that we have no one to squeeze. We can tell them that it is their responsibility to manage the company well and not accept work for less than it costs. OK, so they may choose not to listen to us and carry on squeezing and being squeezed. But, if we keep applying the pressure contra to the pressure we are under they may get annoyed enough to start pushing the pressure back up the slope. Then and only then will we have a chance of reversing what is more and more becoming inevitable.

If we don't start doing something about this now the quality of social care will degrade instead of improve. Care providing companies will be forced to cut corners as well as continuing to squeeze their workers. It may be that as a nation we don't want to spend any more on looking after the people who have care needs. What I feel we do need to do is have the debate not just in Parliament or the local council chambers. We all have the responsibility to get involved, say what we want for our future and that of our families and yes we have to decide if we are willing to pay for it.

Can we afford to ignore the problems? I am of the view that we can't, it simply won't just go away. Things will change however, next April with the introduction of the National Living Wage will bring another round of squeezing. How long will it be before the unprofitable care providing companies decide it's simply not worth it and close down. This will happen if we don't do something to prevent it. Perhaps it needs to happen for the industry to rationalise and reform, forcing us to face and make the decisions that have to be made.

We can no longer leave this issue in the hands of politicians and risk an outcome affected by what they think will get them re-elected. We have to decide if we want our parents and grandparents, our brothers and sisters and our children to be able to access care services when they need them and if we do, we have to pay for them.

As a social care worker I have a voice and a vote. I will make sure my employer and the candidates who want my vote know my views. I will be asking my employer, local councillors and my member of parliament to consider them. I will also ask them to consider and seek the views of all the people that depend on the input of their social care workers, they have a voice too.

I would like to invite all my colleagues in social care to express their views, tell their employers and elected representatives what they want social care to be like in the future.

By Ed McMullan

Apologia For Discrimination

How does one describe a prejudiced mind? To me, I have visions of a garage full of old junk piled up high to the ceiling, nothing can be moved therein nor can anything be placed in addition to. Upon opening the garage door, everything begins to flow out as the much needed exhale of breath.

Prejudiced minds leave little room for outside influx and interpretations and ergo, growth is stagnant, logic is deemed illogical and even if one were to find logic in an argument, it wouldn't make an iota of a difference. People, by default, are prejudiced in many categories of life, be it religion, philosophy, a particular economic system, a political party or race. It's quite understandable then, that xenophobia be part and parcel of the package. If a person hates Muslims there's little one can do to change that inbuilt perception. You may fight the good fight by producing ample reasons to like them, to tolerate them, you may even resort to screaming on their behalf but all those pleas of justness and justice would be moot.

Our prejudices, and let's be fair, we all have them, constitute a huge fraction of our personalities, should we openly concur to have them or not. It's but a general fact of life. The issue is that sometimes they may lay innate, lurking at the bottom of some mental lagoon wherein through only osmosis does it gradually begin to lain waste upon the surface of our psyche. Many reasons could account for us developing prejudices; growing up with a cruel or neglectful father, a sick mentally deranged mother, one's own terror, from undertaking loathsome tasks or even from enduring unnecessary punishments. The prejudice can even assert itself from being brainwashed with the lye of hatred. Much like phobias, they are so deeply rooted that if by chance we were to become acutely aware of them, we'd only be at their mercy and be rendered helpless to do anything by way of curing them.

The wise question to ask is not whether we are prejudiced but rather what our numerous are. Reasonably, we're against the word 'prejudice' itself as it has been ingrained into us that it is both socially and politically incorrect to be biased about anything. I, like many folk, am prejudiced against racists and bigots. Deeply, I'm not ashamed to admit that I have a loathsome view of lawyers and on a lighter note, pork. As far as lawyers are concerned, I'm aware I'm not alone in harboring a negative opinion towards them as they are not only snooty and arrogant figures of society but rather, seem inept at pursuing anything that doesn't have a dollar bill hovering over its head. Now about the my attitudinal bias; they represent only interests of people and corporations without really caring who they are, what they did, what harm was caused or how reprehensible they are. Cronyism runs today's law firms and because of this "I scratch your back, you scratch mine" routine, gender and color neutrality is crushed. Furthermore, the justice system serves and oils the hands of a few white men who influence business and politics in a way that often resonates to being hostile to more than half of the general populace. Can you catch the stereotypes that I've come to place due to my own prejudiced mind?

Their malevolence against the destitute reflects their own deep, abiding, ugly favoritism. A lawyer or an elitist would pass a starving man on the street but will never turn down a fundraiser or benefit committee where they can hobnob with their own pretentious friends. To digress a little, I am against pork as my religion forbids me to be but also because I hate the smell of bacon. This in turn has created a prejudice against pigs and I'm blown away as to how anyone could eat anything that feeds on filth and refuse. As we have confirmed already, prejudices grow out of early experience and can be blamed largely on our parents' hate towards a certain race or people of a certain vocation, like lawyers. We inherit these like recessive genes. Our own life experiences also pave the way to our prejudices. Like for instance, if we were mugged in New York City by a black man, throughout our lives we would never live it down and would grudgingly begin to hate all blacks due to that one lone incident. The problem is, that people who are prejudiced are often not only ignorant but find a comfort zone in that very attitude. They see it as nothing but the truth.

Perhaps it is in the way they live that I find blemish. If you know a lawyer, you can be sure that he won't be driving a hatchback, nor would he be living in the ghetto and likely never did, will probably be not affiliated with any church and you'd be safe in assuming none of his friends are part of the Communist party. Likes of him would never have had the misfortune to spend a night on the streets, would come from affluent families and have graduated from an Ivy League university. His suits would be tailor-made and he would most likely vote the Republican ticket. A thought provoking poem would be unheard of, as would be a painted portrait coming from him. I give you free reign to point to the exceptions of the above biased yet totally generalized statements, for there are always and certainly many.

People like him continue with the thought that if you're not working, then you're obviously incompetent or a lazy git. He views the black community as the main reason for disruption in the streets and gang related violence. Of course, through a sly smile he will try to convince you that he is solely without prejudice against the blacks, but upon probing him will soon discover he serves and caters to only a small fraction of their community. Delightedly he'd agree that the government should extend the death penalty and not eliminate it, thereby adhering to the view that society should kill off more people who show the slightest tendency towards delinquency in their youth.

Notably, it is dangerous and immoral to lump members of society into categories by race, ethnic background, economic status or profession like I just did, but we live in a culture that encourages it, which is an ill-fate, mind you. It might be self-serving and politically incorrect but it's significantly better than what's on the other side of the pulpit. The youth often wonder what it takes to be a killer shark or any other calling, but shouldn't they need to learn what it is to be human first? If we want to be successful in any field, it's my opinion that we ought to be proficient in understanding our fellow man. Unfortunately, we do not learn how to behave this way by going to school. Even those lucky enough to come from moneyed parents, given the opportunity to attend private schools where they soak up Latin and the arts, sadly only know the ways of the elite and are immediately at a disadvantage when it comes to comprehending a simpleton. The point is, our perception of the people who we meet along the way, depends largely upon who we become ourselves; who we are.

The working man understands his fellow working man better than a scholar understands the working man, you see? Perhaps it's life's little irony which makes it so amusing to hear a lawyer argue in front of simple ordinary jurors. His vernacular, his approach in choosing words, the metaphors used and the design in syntax; basically all his ideas which to him seem persuasive and skillful, often come off as snobbish, hubristic or patronizing. The people aren't familiar with his type and so to empathize and trust him becomes rather difficult. To take a step back, anyone who wishes to be successful, must learn as much as they can about the human condition, hopefully through experience. It should be a rite of passage for young individuals to work as tirelessly as they can in their adolescence so they may educate themselves with the general republic and how best to prepare for running alongside it in their future lifetime. Wiser still, for them to learn the value of money, the arduous labor involved and to worry about where next month's bill is coming from. They should write poems, play in a band, acquaint themselves with what it means to be a free human, to have and try all the options in front of them that our forefathers strived so hard to get. Dream during the days and daydream in the nights but at the same time understand what pain is, what loss is, how it's like to be underprivileged with a wide range of responsibilities. From a being who understands, prejudice is unlikely to be borne.

So having discovered how prejudice works in society through my own biased opinion, we ought best to recall what we have already learned; that arguing and confronting a prejudice or a preconceived notion is nothing except futile. Not only does it promote stereotypes but also begins to represent the negative practices against the humane condition. Adopt and build upon inclusive communities while fighting the various discriminations that exist in our society. It is in this that bewildering lawyers after having lost, would understand that their failure was not in the art of expression but rather in their inability to uncover a prejudice residing in the people and learning how to deal with it. Changing people's attitudes and practices is difficult and requires dedicated work so look upon it as investment for our future generations and toil hard.
Mahak Malik

Has The Internet Killed Our High Streets?

In 1993 I visited County Hall in Durham with my family to take part in a science exhibition. I have always been interested in computing and remember being fascinated by an enthusiastic postgraduate student who demonstrated that he could connect his computer to a machine in Moscow and download data. How right he was. In the future, I was told, thousands if not millions of computers would be connected on a worldwide network and would exchange data freely across the world. We were informed that everyday tasks like banking, shopping and communication could and would be transacted through your home computer. It all seemed a bit far-fetched as only wealthy families even owned a computer at the time.

Fast forward to just after the millennium and these predictions proved to be a conservative estimate of how computing technology developed. The world had been permanently changed with infinite opportunities being made possible by the Internet. Royal Mail panicked over the use of email and Napster revolutionised music forever. Microsoft had seized the moment and tapped into the insatiable demand for home computers and families were quickly buying computers to get hooked up to the internet. Everyone wanted a piece of the action and it was only a short time until the multi-computer family became the norm rather than the exception. The revolution continued.

Moving to the present and the pace of change on the Internet shows no sign of abating. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are now such a fundamental part of online culture that we can scarcely imagine a world without them. All television adverts now come with details of the Facebook page, complete with blue 'F' logo and website details. Not to do so would look silly. Internet users want more interactive ways of communicating and interacting online and we are at the precipice of the next major development online with the development of 24/7 mobile computing. Either through a tablet computer, mobile phone or even the new product Google Glass the internet can be with us wherever we go.

The world of ecommerce drove development online and it is this globalisation of business that is a contributing factor to what I believe is a permanent change in the composition of our high streets. Customers can now shop from home for everything they need, accessing the full market to find the best deal. Those who do venture into the high street can download a free app for their iPhone which scans the bar code of a product and immediately offers price comparisons to the deals available for the same product online. As the use of such technology widens businesses must face the reality that there competitors are potentially every seller of their product in the world, rather than just their town or region. Margins that were already tight, particularly in these tough economic times customers want the best value for money.

One of the many benefits of the Internet is that it empowers the customer to find the best deal. The mass supply has seen prices move towards a wholesale prices than retail prices we find in shops. The cartel of the high street has been broken as we have access to almost infinite choices. A business in a small rural town now has to ensure they are competitive compared to their entire industry niche. Some would say that this ensures ethical pricing, others would say it places small to medium sized businesses (SME's) in a very difficult position to survive in today's business environment. When I was a child I remember my mother was keen on knitting clothes. In our small rural village of Lanchester in County Durham, there was a wool shop which was well-used and valued by the local residents. This business closed many years ago through retirement of the owner, however, I doubt that such a business would be viable on our high street today.

Bricks and mortar businesses must still pay wages, insurance, utilities and the biggest drain of all for an offline business, commercial unit rent and business rates whilst the online enterprise exists with no overheads which allow their pricing to reflect their reduced costs. Shop frontage does remain desirable and gives you footfall to turn into customers on the high street but it comes at a price. There is a strong argument that investing in a branded website, integrated ecommerce facilities and a search engine optimisation program is more useful in today's business world, but spare a thought for the empty shop units that are becoming a relic to a bygone era where people browsed the high street rather than Amazon or Google to shop.

In your own town you will notice there are increasing numbers of empty shop units which show the battered remains of a once proud business. Empty shop units constantly appear and at present they can sit empty for years. I always take note of the empty unit, complete with broken shop sign and the "Come to the Circus" poster that seems almost obligatory and I am reminded of a once ambitious business that the owner invested many hours, months and emotion into growing. Unfortunately many businesses fail and I do not envy the ambitious and proud business owner having to tell a loyal worker who earns a small wage in the hope of a better tomorrow that unfortunately the realities of the balance sheet means the business has failed. Small to medium sized enterprises could be the biggest casualty of the Internet. Now look at your large buying history on Amazon or eBay, do you feel guilty yet?

Business owners do not expect any sympathy and I would get short shrift if I attempted to lament their plight with colleagues of mine who are self-employed. Lord Sugar would be the first to say that business owners must adapt to the world around them rather than lament that in different conditions they would succeed. However, I would argue that having a healthy number of SME's remaining viable businesses on our high street is vital to resisting the financial redistribution to the wealthiest in society. If SME's leave the high street we get more empty units and only the largest companies offer the goods we can buy. We never see that money again. For business owners there is the incentive of social mobility for the upwardly mobile wealth creators. Unfortunately a by-product of the Internet and the tough economic times we are enduring is that small businesses like shoe shops, sandwich shops, family butchers, wool shops, electrical shops find it almost impossible to exist in today's market, even if they utilise online sales to help their revenue.

Taking advantage of the void are large companies who have began to set up business on our high streets, offering loss leaders to compete for customers. This retail behaviour prices out smaller businesses that cannot compete. In tough economic times, customers are forced to buy food and important life items as cheaply as they can. Years ago smaller retailers like Spar, Presto, and Co-op were the high street food outlets but now large companies like Tesco are a common sight with their Extra stores which can be no larger than your corner shop or newsagents. This increases the amount of revenue generated by the huge retailers like Tesco, hitting the black hole of their bank accounts and only paid in dividends to already very successful and wealthy directors.

The ongoing evolution of our high street presents different and equally worrying problems for society, namely the increase in the number of bookmakers and cash converter businesses that have popped up everywhere in recent years. Unfortunately whether we like it or not these industries are massive growth industries, but they offer society an easy route to very bad decisions. Within a two minute walk from my place of work, there are two cash converter businesses, four bookmakers and a product rental outlet that offers goods on a rental basis targeted at capturing benefit claimants who cannot buy the goods outright. Reinforcing a previous point I made, even the bookies in the town used to be owned locally, but they were bought by a national brand who knows that it is money in the bank.

Whatever our feelings towards these companies if they were not there then we would have empty shop units. I'd rather have the shops filled by someone, just not by businesses that either give people a bad deal or sell opportunities that are not really opportunities. It is tough enough for the consumer as it is. Larger retailers are doing very well from the changing face of our high street and our government must address the farce that is corporation tax and ensure that these companies pay the correct amount of tax. Labour can make great strides to economic credibility by demonstrating and following through on a tough line to combat tax evasion. Voters will remain disillusioned as they are continue to pay lots of money for petrol, food and even bedrooms whilst the wealthiest companies manage to evade paying anything with the political system apparently complicit in this evasion, whilst talking a tough game. The current system is not fit for purpose and needs urgent attention and the HMRC, albeit overseen by government, must share the blame for this debacle.

This article should not be read as a technophobe rant on the Internet. I would happily join whatever petition or campaign you liked if there was an attempt to save the high street by taking my Internet away. But I will pledge to try and spend at least a little of my money in local businesses rather than falling for the seductive comfort of online shopping and home delivery. I hope you will do the same. Business people don't need your sympathy, you should only buy from good companies that offer a good service and competitive prices. However, keep in mind that great companies exist that might not necessary have the modern flash websites and one-click purchasing options, they might have a till and, god forbid, shelves and items. The development of mobile technologies may break the shackles of the consumer to the home computer allowing even the most hardened Internet addict to leave their home and explore the many businesses that are worthy of your consumer support and at least a cursory glance into their shop.

They will be pleased to see you.

Malcolm Clarke

The Cost of Victory

Has Israel accomplished its goals and objectives? The last real victory was the 1967 War and unless Israel's military echelons instill that victory "cost something" there will be continued bombing from Gaza. Israel must destroy every element of Hamas and this includes those who support them. When Israel listens to public opinions, policies of the US and Europe and makes decisions based on those opinions then Israel will surely fail. The axiom "What will the international community say" strikes a chord. Israel must ruthlessly destroy the enemy stronghold expel the population and then annex it. A plan of removing the Palestinians from Gaza should be implemented quickly.

In a recent survey conducted by an Israeli firm on August 1, 3,450 people were surveyed and the results were astonishing. A whopping 97.2 percent wants the government of Israel to completely destroy Hamas. This staggering number shows that there is no room for neutralizing Hamas by just destroying tunnels. The survey crossed all sections of Israeli population from the left to the center and the right. This clarion call of destroying Hamas proves again that Israel is united in ending a terrorist organization in their mist. Since this is the desire of Israeli citizens every effort should be made to implement the wishes of her citizens. Anything less than the complete removal of Hamas will embolden more attacks against its citizens.

What would it take for Israel to dismantle Hamas completely? It takes a willingness to lose soldiers and sacrifice their lives for the good of the nation. Here lies the problem. Israel's reluctance to lose soldiers in order to halt the bombing is the "real issue". The second issue is what to do with a hostile population? What is Israel left with? The complete destruction of its military apparatus and its terrorist network is the key to victory and expulsion of the entire population. If Israel expels the population they would not have to worry about administering the 1.8 million hostile pro Hamas inhabitants.

If this sounds drastic it is not. There is precedent it expelling populations. In 1970 Jordan expelled 200,000 Palestinians. In 1994-95 Libya expelled thousands of Palestinians and demolished their homes. In Kuwait 400,000 Palestinians were expelled during the Iraq war. The demilitarization of Gaza is not the answer because it still allows the population to remain in Gaza. The government of Israel must act quickly the citizens of Israel have spoken they don't want rockets and missiles looming over their communities. With the influx of Jews coming from France, Great Britain and other parts of the world, these new arrivals can settle in Gaza and make it a flourishing economic oasis.

Spinning Yarns About Genetically Modified Crops

A compelling narrative often makes a good engine to pull public policy. Unfortunately, this means we are sometimes unwilling to let facts get in the way of the story we want to tell.

Consider, for example, the science and pseudo-science behind the ginned-up opposition to genetically modified crops ("organisms" in the parlance of critics who want to skip past the detail that crops are useful for feeding people), or GMOs.

Out in the real world, genetically engineered crops are helping to boost yields, reduce pesticide spraying and its associated runoff, improve product quality and conserve water and soil. Farmers, agronomists and biologists know this. But their voices are often drowned out by critics whose main objections appear to be economic and political (some people just don't like it when other people make money), but who wrap their agenda in claims of health problems, genetic contamination and "superweeds" whose actual existence is about as well documented as Sasquatch.

But don't take my word for it. Lest you dismiss me as some sort of profit-loving, coldly logical Republican CPA (charges to which I would mostly plead guilty), let's look at a recent story in the eco-sensitive columns of The New York Times. A story, as it happens, that is about the investigative activities of a councilman in the Democratic island paradise of Hawaii. (1)

The Times focused on Greggor Ilagan, a member of the County Council on Hawaii Island (known as the Big Island). When the Council considered a measure to ban most GMOs from the island last year, Ilagan set out to try and verify or debunk the various claims the measure's supporters used to argue for such a ban. To his initial surprise, the councilman found that most reputable scientists agree that genetically engineered crops are no riskier than others. The American Medical Association has stated that "there is currently no evidence that there are material differences or safety concerns in available bioengineered foods." (2) A group of prominent scientists wrote an editorial for Science Magazine last fall standing up for the benefits of GMOs.

Yet the accepted wisdom on GMOs among many of its opponents is that such crops are big agriculture's attempt to maximize profits at the expense of public safety. When Ilagan and others trying to get at the truth of GMO research have pushed such claims, they have found that the evidence is disputed, when it exists at all. Though certain future GMOs, just like future non-engineered crop breeds, might be dangerous, the evidence so far that genetic engineering is itself a dangerous process is vanishingly slim.

Jon Suzuki, a molecular biologist at the national agriculture research center in Hawaii, told Ilagan that genetically engineered food had so far proved safe. "With scientists, we never say anything is 100 percent certain one way or another," he said, according to The Times. "We weight conclusions on accumulated knowledge or evidence - but often this is not satisfactory for some." (1)

Nuance and uncertainty are hard sells. It is easier to demonize the process than to discuss the actual results of decades of GMO use. Moreover, objections to GMOs are a true "First World problem." Wealthy people can afford to pay double for organically grown food and whatever is left over after yields are reduced by a variety of diseases or pests. Yet for many in the developing world, crops modified to grow in less than ideal circumstances or to resist blight can mean the difference between nourishment and hunger.

There are 7 billion people on the planet, all of whom need to be fed. We have finite supplies of fertile land and usable water, and these resources must be employed efficiently if we want to succeed at feeding our planet's population. Such efficiency is what GMOs are all about. It is what selective breeding has been about it for centuries, too. Genetic engineering is not totally new, but rather a new advance in an existing process.

The consequences of rejecting this progress are easy to imagine, and in some cases may have already arrived. Citrus crops, especially oranges, are threatened by a greening blight spreading among producers via insects. If unchecked, such fruit may revert to the luxury it was in medieval Europe. Agricultural threats spread at the speed of jet planes, and this one is no exception. Citrus greening disease now threatens the $9 billion Florida citrus industry, and has shown up in Brazil, an even bigger producing region. California is at risk as well.

Even if a team of scientists announced tomorrow that they had engineered a blight-resistant orange, the demand would far outpace the potential supply. Still, introducing a resistant strain could preserve a larger, heartier population than would be possible without it - much as Hawaiian papaya farmers said an engineered version of the fruit saved their crops. It would be a travesty to ban or reject outright new citrus breeds that could resist this threat.

Invasive species are a fact of modern life. They travel with us wherever we go. Crops and other native species have had no chance to develop resistances against them at a natural pace. GMOs are a way to fight back against an existing problem, and to use our resources efficiently. Banning GMOs will not leave us in a natural state. It will simply leave us in a contaminated state, complete with crop failures and dangerously unbalanced ecosystems. I only wish we had genetically engineered chestnuts and American elms in time to resist the blights that virtually wiped out these beautiful trees during the past century.

On the surface, it seems odd that so many people who accuse climate-change skeptics of being anti-science have jumped on the anti-GMO bandwagon, while many of those who fall into the climate-skeptical camp (and I consider myself a skeptic of conjectural computer modeling and breathless climate hype) tend to be more accepting of genetically altered crops. Psychologists might say we are all just exhibiting confirmation bias, in which we accept only the facts and arguments that support our pre-existing conclusions. Let's grant that the psychologists could be right.

But it could also be the case that the climate skeptics want hard evidence for their views. It's difficult to point to specific weather and say it was caused by man-made climate influence. But we can point to scientifically modified crops that grown for decades all over the world without ill effects, yet remain the targets of bans like the one that passed in Hawaii, despite councilman Ilagan's efforts.
We all love a good story. It seems we hate to let facts ruin one for us.

1) The New York Times, "A Lonely Quest for Facts on Genetically Modified Crops"
2) Los Angeles Times, "GMO foods don't need special label, American Medical Assn. says"