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OPINION
By GEORGE MICHAEL | July 12, 2013
There is a Jewish proverb attributed to Solomon that says, “A sound heart is the life of the flesh, but envy the rottenness of the bones.” Envy and greed, words often used interchangeably, are not synonymous. Envy is a serious problem. Greed, not so much. Greed, when kept in appropriate bounds, can serve a useful purpose. Greed can motivate people to better themselves, work harder and take risks, and often results in serving the needs of others. Does the owner of a restaurant who makes a profit gain something only for himself or does he provide a service for others?
OPINION
By GEORGE MICHAEL | October 14, 2011
Pity Leonard Pitts, the syndicated columnist who offered up another hatchet job on the tea party in The Herald-Mail (Oct. 3). For someone who recently suggested civility in public discourse, his extreme rhetoric attacking the tea party is pretty uncivil. His perspective of political reality is so skewed it defies rational analysis. In case you missed it, Pitts characterized tea party members as having a “pitchforks-and-torches mentality” who are “virulently anti-government, anti-Muslim, anti-gay, anti-science, anti-tax, anti-facts” and who practice “the politics of panic, paranoia and reactionary extremism.” Pitts said some other things, too, but you get the idea.
OPINION
By GEORGE MICHAEL | January 6, 2012
New Year's Day is the time we make our plans for the coming year. What are some things I want to accomplish? What do I want to work on, to see, to experience? This focus on the year ahead is often accompanied by what are known as "New Year's resolutions. " Many of us have given up on such resolutions. We have disappointed ourselves too many times. Making changes is great in theory but hard to put into practice.  We like the familiar, the comfortable. We tend to resist change. We go so far as to sit in the same seat each Sunday in church, unless some visitor gets there first.
OPINION
By GEORGE MICHAEL | December 23, 2011
My wife and I had the privilege of hearing a masterful presentation of Handel's “Messiah” last week at the Kennedy Center. The soloists were solid, the University of Maryland Concert Choir did a splendid job, the musicians from the National Symphony were excellent, as to be expected, and the enthusiastic standing ovation with two curtain calls at the end gave witness to the great impact of the performance. It made me wonder if Handel ever considered that we would still be listening to his masterpiece 270 years after it was first performed.
OPINION
By GEORGE MICHAEL | February 15, 2013
Dr. Ben Carson's speech at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., last week has elicited more reactions than any time in the 61 years of the event. What he accomplished in his 25-minute speech was nothing short of sensational. Videos of it drew more than 1 million hits on YouTube by Monday morning, with many more viewings of excerpts on countless other outlets.  Sitting just two chairs to Dr. Carson's right were President and Mrs. Obama, who gave Carson a standing ovation at the end of his speech.   Carson is the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and the author of several books, including “Gifted Hands.” If you don't know his story, it is worth learning about.
OPINION
By GEORGE MICHAEL | June 13, 2013
There is a deep and pervasive disease in the current presidential administration. Hope and Change has turned into Hype and Chance. In last Saturday's Herald-Mail, an AP article recounted the president's defense of our government's massive sweep of phone calls and Internet information. The article even took pains to refer to Obama as “a constitutional lawyer.” And I thought he was only a community organizer. It turns out that not only is he the president, but “a constitutional lawyer” to boot.
OPINION
By GEORGE MICHAEL | August 2, 2013
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Kevyn Orr, the City of Detroit's appointed financial czar, recently announced the city was declaring bankruptcy. What happens in Detroit in the next few months will be very significant. Detroit is a microcosm of issues facing many of America's big cities. Detroit is the largest city to declare bankruptcy to this point. The obligations that the city cannot pay are about $19 billion. What are the reasons for Detroit's demise? Some have suggested that Detroit's economic woes result from the decline of the auto industry, loss of business enterprise and the flight of citizens to the suburbs or to other states.  But this is confusing cause and effect.
OPINION
By GEORGE MICHAEL | September 1, 2012
School is back in session. It seems to happen earlier every year. Elementary, high school and college campuses are full of expectations. Many of last year's high school graduates are now enrolled in programs of higher education. America's four-year schools expect as many 15 million in attendance this year as with another 8 million or so in two-year post-graduate schools. But is college worth it? Have we been oversold on the idea that college is the path to a better future or are we simply turning out more candidates to join the Occupy Wall Street movement?
OPINION
By GEORGE MICHAEL | May 18, 2013
According to one national leader, Obamacare is “a huge train wreck coming down.” You might be tempted to dismiss this quote as another tea party attack on the president's health care law. But you would be wrong. This statement was made last month by Max Baucus, D-Mont., the powerful chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Baucus, you might recall, was the lead sponsor in the Senate for securing passage of the health care law in 2009. To top it off, Baucus announced a week later that he would not be running for re-election in 2014.
OPINION
By GEORGE MICHAEL | May 3, 2013
A recent article in the real estate section of MSN.com, written by Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes Magazine, was titled “America's Most Miserable Cities of 2013.” The article ranked American cities based on metrics that included violent crimes, unemployment, property tax burden, the exodus or net out-migration rate, foreclosures, falling home prices, traffic (long commutes) and weather. The most notable thing in reviewing the list is to see that all of the cities in the top 10 were in blue states.
ARTICLES BY DATE
OPINION
August 11, 2013
Greed and envy both listed as sins To the editor: George Michael's recent column about greed takes us back to when this country, and certainly the conservative media, idolized tycoons who, in the name of greed, nearly bankrupted the United States. He equates greed with ambition. They are not synonymous. Ambition is the desire to succeed, whether that is in earning power or in creating innovation. Ambition doesn't require damaging the competition, and certainly not the customers.
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OPINION
By GEORGE MICHAEL | August 2, 2013
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Kevyn Orr, the City of Detroit's appointed financial czar, recently announced the city was declaring bankruptcy. What happens in Detroit in the next few months will be very significant. Detroit is a microcosm of issues facing many of America's big cities. Detroit is the largest city to declare bankruptcy to this point. The obligations that the city cannot pay are about $19 billion. What are the reasons for Detroit's demise? Some have suggested that Detroit's economic woes result from the decline of the auto industry, loss of business enterprise and the flight of citizens to the suburbs or to other states.  But this is confusing cause and effect.
OPINION
By GEORGE MICHAEL | July 19, 2013
The Washington, D.C., city council voted 8-5 on July 10 to require Walmart to pay a “living wage” of $12.50 per hour for all employees at the six new stores that Walmart is preparing to open in our nation's capital. Three stores are under construction and three more have been approved. This living wage is nearly 50 percent higher than the current D.C. minimum wage of $8.25 per hour.   This move by the council puts Mayor Vincent Gray in a bind. He worked out the deal to get Walmart to take a chance and invest in the city.
OPINION
By GEORGE MICHAEL | July 12, 2013
There is a Jewish proverb attributed to Solomon that says, “A sound heart is the life of the flesh, but envy the rottenness of the bones.” Envy and greed, words often used interchangeably, are not synonymous. Envy is a serious problem. Greed, not so much. Greed, when kept in appropriate bounds, can serve a useful purpose. Greed can motivate people to better themselves, work harder and take risks, and often results in serving the needs of others. Does the owner of a restaurant who makes a profit gain something only for himself or does he provide a service for others?
OPINION
By GEORGE MICHAEL | June 28, 2013
A recent front-page story in The Herald-Mail reported that a Hagerstown pharmacist pleaded guilty to writing prescriptions for powerful narcotics for hundreds of clients who drove here by the “van loads” to do business.  This story is shocking on several levels. It's bad enough that people were coming to Hagerstown from out of state to get their needed fixes. But the worst part of this story is that the pharmacist was billing Medicare and Medicaid for some of these painkillers.
OPINION
By GEORGE MICHAEL | June 13, 2013
There is a deep and pervasive disease in the current presidential administration. Hope and Change has turned into Hype and Chance. In last Saturday's Herald-Mail, an AP article recounted the president's defense of our government's massive sweep of phone calls and Internet information. The article even took pains to refer to Obama as “a constitutional lawyer.” And I thought he was only a community organizer. It turns out that not only is he the president, but “a constitutional lawyer” to boot.
OPINION
May 25, 2013
It is a sad day in America when using the word “patriot” results in extra scrutiny and harassment by the IRS. Could it be illegal to educate people about our history and Constitution? We are expected to believe that the misuse of IRS powers was the work of a few “low level bureaucrats” at the Cincinnati IRS field office who acted without authorization. My guess is that the employees doing the harassing are surprised about the recent turn of events. And I am willing to bet that these nameless, faceless bureaucrats were expecting commendations, awards and promotions, not questions about their operations.
OPINION
By GEORGE MICHAEL | May 18, 2013
According to one national leader, Obamacare is “a huge train wreck coming down.” You might be tempted to dismiss this quote as another tea party attack on the president's health care law. But you would be wrong. This statement was made last month by Max Baucus, D-Mont., the powerful chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Baucus, you might recall, was the lead sponsor in the Senate for securing passage of the health care law in 2009. To top it off, Baucus announced a week later that he would not be running for re-election in 2014.
OPINION
By GEORGE MICHAEL | May 3, 2013
A recent article in the real estate section of MSN.com, written by Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes Magazine, was titled “America's Most Miserable Cities of 2013.” The article ranked American cities based on metrics that included violent crimes, unemployment, property tax burden, the exodus or net out-migration rate, foreclosures, falling home prices, traffic (long commutes) and weather. The most notable thing in reviewing the list is to see that all of the cities in the top 10 were in blue states.
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