Would capitalism survive if the majority of manufacturers turned away from planned obsolescence and focused on making only the highest-quality, longest-lasting products possible?

Cartwright-There was a day when manufacturers here in the United States made high quality, long lasting products, and it wasn’t that long ago. About three years ago, I renovated a property that was originally built in the early 1970s. When I acquired this property, it still had the original appliances, all of which were in working order and were of good quality. It would be unthinkable that current stoves, ovens, or refrigerators would last over forty years. You’re lucky to get a quarter of that time out of them and that’s if you give it little use. Capitalism seemed to do just fine back in the days when manufacturers made products that would last for forty years in a time when I’m not sure that manufacturers were thinking of planned obsolescence. They were more expensive products, yes, but they were built to last. Continue reading

As concussions in pro sports rise (especially in football), attendance seems to be falling across the board. Will football lose its rank as America’s favorite spectator sport because of the increasing violence and subsequent injuries?

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-Even though declining attendance at football games isn’t currently caused by fans not caring to watch an increasingly violent sport which causes too many severe injuries, fan interest may eventually decrease faster because of the injury issue. Because football athletes are bigger, stronger, and faster than ever, it’s a given that injuries will become more frequent and more severe. There is also a growing trend in sports toward more awareness about injuries, especially head injuries like concussions. In the forefront of that awareness is the discovery that many retired footballers from past generations are reporting severe brain issues such as Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Continue reading

According to experts, the US faces a massive infrastructure crisis that will require significant repairs and upgrades to our current infrastructure. How can this be achieved without crippling the economy with severe tax increases?

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-Remember the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis a few years back? An interstate bridge, something most of us drive over every day, simply…went away. The dead and injured were numerous, and it took months for traffic flow to be restored. Similar disasters are coming, and will become almost a commonplace occurrence if we don’t do something NOW about our crumbling infrastructure. Our rail system is a complete joke, our roads are crumbling and our water, sewer and electric systems are pitifully vulnerable to not only natural disasters but terrorist attack. Continue reading

How should large coastal cities deal with gradually rising sea levels?

Sheffield, Jamaica Correspondent-Once again, the world has turned to science to solve, or at least provide answers to the elephant in the room. Sea levels are rising and people want to know to what extent did climate change affect the rising levels. Climate change seems to be at the heart of everything.

Especially for large cities situated along the coast, the catastrophe would definitely be immense if these levels continue to rise in the future. What can officials do to allay the anxiety of the people living along these areas? Continue reading

Is “net neutrality” a boon or a curse for American consumers?

Cartwright-I’m not worried about it. There is plenty of competition in the market and if it becomes a problem more competitors will spring up. The cost of switching from one provider to another is relatively low, so if your current provider starts charging you for access to Google you’ll probably find a provider who doesn’t. If all the providers get on the same page, some new competitor will pop up with no fees or charges. Take a look at what happened in the cell phone industry and the effects of competition. Most providers used to give you so many minutes and then charge for extra and charge for text service, etc. T-Mobile came along and disrupted the industry by offering an unlimited plan. Who won out? In my opinion, the consumers did.

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-There has been no end of brouhaha and hand wringing over the end of “Net Neutrality” promised by recent changes in federal law. The circuit board-loving set would have us believe that soon we’ll be beset by fees and hidden charges for using everything from Google to Netflix to Facebook depending on which service provider we have. What they miss is that the internet is the Great Democratizer, which has brought the mighty low since the day the first email was sent. Continue reading

Will the electric car maker Tesla succeed in bringing electric cars to the forefront of the automobile industry? Why or why not?

Cartwright-I love Tesla’s concept, and I love what Elon Musk is doing. They’re making beautiful cars, and I want them to succeed. I love the fact that electric cars don’t emit the greenhouse gases that gas guzzling cars do. It’s a plus for the environment. Do I think we’ll all be driving electric cars anytime soon? No. The average consumer isn’t in love with the idea of electric cars and doesn’t want to be restricted to only going three hundred miles before you have to stop and recharge for an hour or whatever. It’s much easier to hop in your gas guzzler, hit the road, and stop every so often for five or ten minutes to fill up with gas then be back on your way. That’s just the reality of it. If Tesla, or anyone else for that matter, wants to bring electric cars to the forefront, they are going to have to improve the batter capacity and the charging times. More importantly, they are going to have to vastly increase the charging stations. As it is, if you have a Tesla and you’re traveling north and south on I-95, you have to map out when and where you’re going to stop to recharge. If you get off the main roads, you’re definitely going to have to plan your trip very well. The majority of people don’t want to have to worry about that; they want to get in their cars and go. If Tesla or another electric car maker can overcome this, good for them. The world will probably be a better place.

But let’s also consider the impact of more people going to electric cars. They use electric, right? They have to be charged and pull electric from the power grid, right? As more and more people hook up their electric cars to the grid, the strain on the electric grid increases and the power companies must generate more electricity. We know the power grid has some serious weaknesses and needs significant attention and investment. If there’s a large increase in demand and the capacity isn’t there, we’re in trouble. Remember the brownouts in California in the late 1990s and early 2000s? How are the power companies going to generate more power for the increased demand stemming from electric cars? More nuclear power plants? More coal fired plants? More wind or solar? Hydroelectric? It will take substantial investment in more electric generating infrastructure and that can also have an impact on the environment. Something to think about.

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-I see an unlimited top end for Elon Musk’s wild child of a carmaker, Tesla. One of the reasons is that while other carmakers that have dabbled in battery-powered vehicles have largely used existing technology without really trying to improve upon what’s available, Tesla is putting significant funds into research into battery technology that have already dramatically increased the range of the company’s vehicles between charges. Continue reading

The recent smog in New Delhi, India is said to be the worst and most dangerous air pollution ever. Is it just a confluence of coincidental factors and bad timing, or is climate change directly to blame?

Cartwright-I’ll simply defer to my earlier comments regarding climate change. India is a vastly overpopulated country accounting for about one fifth of the world’s total population. They do nothing to help the environment. They are a net negative to the environment. Perhaps they should start population control measures.

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-New Delhi’s reputation as a polluted city has been one of the worst in the world for many years, so the city’s recent toxic smog can’t be blamed solely on a confluence of coincidental factors and bad timing. But neither should it be blamed on climate change directly. Other cities—except for Beijing, China—haven’t made world headlines by suffering an air pollution crisis second to none. Continue reading

US employment continues to grow while unemployment continues to shrink, but wages have been stagnant for more than a decade. What’s the reason, and is there a solution to the middle-classes declining standard of living?

Sheffield. Jamaica Correspondent-That question has lingered on my mind for years. Sadly, that condition doesn’t only exist in America, but is a global crisis.

Regardless of how the employment figure looks – whether it increases or decreases – wages will remain the same. It all boils down to one word – greed.

Corporations and big businesses are so driven and filled with greed, that they are willing to keep wages stagnant irrespective of how affluent and profitable their business becomes. Continue reading

President Trump has decided to pull the US out of the Paris Climate accord, the treaty designed to combat “climate change.” Will those who want to work toward solving the problems associated with global warming be more effective or less effective without the participation of the US government?

Myrtle Beach Correspondent-Even though Trump has pulled out it seems as though many US based businesses have not. I’m not convinced on Global Warming one way or another. I do believe it is important to start finding alternative solutions for energy. We do need to work on emissions as well, but why can’t we just plant more trees? This is a whole different argument so I digress. Will the accord be as effective without the US? Yes, I believe it will. I’m not really well educated on this accord; but I think every other country has agreed to participate, and I believe the US still will if some specific changes are made. Continue reading

The Republican tax bill passed and was signed into law by President Trump, which means the US debt may grow by another 1.5 trillion dollars. Can we avoid having this skyrocketing debt load cripple our economy? If so, how?

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-The current Republican tax bill is the biggest batch of big-business sops, sham “benefits” for the middle class that will end up costing them and social engineering camouflaged as financial policy ever put forth. The GOP is trying to foster its spurious “business-first” agenda by giving gigantic tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy, while stripping the middle class of things like the state and local income tax deductions. Yes, there’s a short-term tax cut for the middle class, but that will expire…and the loss of the deductions won’t. Continue reading