Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cage Free Eggs Revisited

Earlier I wrote about cage free eggs with a rather sarcastic tone. I assumed caged in this context meant the chickens were confined to a chicken house but able to walk around. This morning, the Diane Rehm Show had a guest who talked about cage free and what it meant.

Here's a link to a video showing hens in laying cages. Apparently, they're confined like this most of their laying life.

Commercial Chicken Laying Cages

Monday, April 25, 2016


If you try hard enough,

you can convince yourself

of anything.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


The other day, we were down at Texas Medical Center and while I waited for my wife to bring the car around I noticed all the plaques and pictures on the wall in the lobby remembering those who'd gone ahead of us and reminding us that they helped create that facility. The buildings have names that enshrine their memory, too. Like Brown, Alkek, Fondren, Dunn, Smith, Scurlock, and Mary Gibbs Jones. And that's just the part at Methodist Hospital. Other areas of the Center have their own memorials.

With Tax Day falling in this month, many have no doubt expressed their disdain for paying taxes. That sense of frustration is understandable. It's quite an eye-opener to see how much money the government gets from our hard-earned income. But this week I've also been thinking about another aspect of the tax system. The Estate Tax and all of those plaques on the wall in the hospital lobby.

Under US law, a federal tax of forty percent is imposed on all estates valued above five million dollars. That's a much higher rate than the federal income tax, but there are ways to legally avoid that tax. One of those ways is by giving everything above the five million dollar limit to a qualifying institution or entity - a charitable cause, your alma mater, the church you attend, or by giving it to a foundation of your own.

As I thought about that and the plaques on the wall in the hospital lobby I realized the federal tax code actually pushes us to give away our wealth. The law forces us to think about our estate in terms of others. To address those needs, issues, and causes that are dear to us. To start or join a work that takes more than a single generation to accomplish.

Texas Medical Center was started by Monroe D. Anderson, a cotton broker who created a foundation to avoid federal taxes on his estate. The money that went to that foundation after Mr. Anderson died bought the land for the Center and helped fund construction of its first hospital. His vision was an inspiration to those who carried out the mission he started and that vision still drives the current generation of leaders who manage the Center today.

Yes, the federal government takes a big chunk of our income. And, yes, the federal government is far more intrusive than our Founders ever imagined. But the Estate Tax is one thing the tax code gets right. It encourages us - forces us - reminds us - to think of others. To build toward a future with dreams and visions bigger than we can accomplish in our lifetime. To join with those who've gone before us. To add our efforts to their's and to remind those coming after us that caring for others is their responsibility, too.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Aspire to goals and dreams that are bigger than one could achieve or complete in a single life.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

The Smartest Places On Earth

 If you're interested in our economy - where it's headed and what's really happening - you need to watch this webcast from Brookings Institute.

The Smartest Places On Earth - Brookings Institute

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Cage-Free Eggs

Caught a blurb a moment ago about a grocery store that will move toward selling 100% Cage-Free eggs soon. Cage-Free eggs. Hmm.

Now, Cage-Free Chicken - I see that. A way for some to feel good about eating chicken. At least it wasn't confined to a cramped coop and force-fed steroids to make it grow into a giant chicken breast with a beak before someone killed it, plucked it, gutted it, and wrapped it for display in the store.

But Cage-Free eggs

When I was a boy I had a dozen yard hens and a rooster. They wandered free and wandered everywhere. So did their nests. And when I found their nests, I gathered their eggs and took them in the house to the refrigerator. When we cooked them, they tasted like whatever the hens had eaten - bark from the camphor tree is the flavor/scent I remember most in the scrambled eggs - there was a camphor tree behind the garage and they routinely pecked at its roots.

So, if you like Cage-Free eggs, help yourself. I prefer the consistency in flavor of whatever's in the bright white cartons with the brand logo stamped on each clean, smooth egg. But I do wonder how they get the eggs so uniform in size and shape.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Health Care

I don't know the total number of people living in the United States who do not have medical insurance coverage, but I know this - whatever the size of that group might be, it's large enough and pervasive enough that doctor's offices and related businesses (medical imaging, testing facilities, etc.) have self-pay (cash) fee schedules.