Why Does Daycare Cost So Much?

Good question.  Especially if you live in the United States, one of the few developed countries that does not provide any daycare benefits.  Some larger or more enlightened employers have daycare on premises and, although this may be considered a benefit, most of the cost is borne by the employees who have children enrolled there.

I have three children, all grown.  I stayed home with them for 15 years because by the time I added up daycare costs (not to mention the hassle), I found that, as an office worker, I could not make enough money to even consider daycare.  Once I returned to the work force, I had to start all over again.  Believe me, there’ s nothing like being treated like a 22 year old when you’re 45.  The dirty little secret?  You never make up for lost time, unless you somehow make a magical leap into a new managerial level career.  Good luck doing that without work experience.

You say I should have tried to work from home.  Doing what?  Secretarial services are largely unnecessary these days, it is very difficult to break into any sort of writing in this blog heavy world, and the Etsy thing, i.e. labor intensive crafts, only provide so much interest and not a lot of income.   Most work-at-home schemes are blatant ripoffs.  At the time, I was advised to provide daycare myself or, once the kids were older, work for the school system.

My daughter and her husband are now the proud parents of twins.  I once counseled my daughter not to leave the workforce should she have children.  She would do better to work part-time and/or subsidize her own job than to stay home.  She now works part-time and depends on a network of relatives (including me) for her daycare needs.

My daughter avoided daycare but most parents are stuck with it.  Why does it cost so much?  According to Forbes, a stand alone daycare requires at least 80 children to get off the ground.  The provider will have to take over and probably renovate a facility, which will cost at least $30K, although I figure in my area it would cost more like $70K.  Equipment (which must be new and up to stringent safety standards) will cost between $300 and $400 per child.  That would be bare bones equipment, by the way.

According to Forbes, the biggest daycare line item is employees, i.e. payroll.  In my area, stuffed with highly educated people who struggle to maintain a middle class lifestyle (the rich don’t bother with daycare, they use nannies), daycare workers get minimum wage; that’s $7.24 an hour. (To put this in perspective, grocery store clerks around here start at $8.25 an hour.)  You don’t need any special qualifications to be a daycare employee, other than passing a background check and being relatively reliable.  For full-time work, that would get you, before taxes, about $20,800.00 per year.  The U.S. federal poverty level for a three person household is about $20K per year.  Most women (there are almost no men) who work in daycare are therefore working at poverty level. If the worker is lucky enough to not be supporting anyone but herself, she’ll be making gobs of money, as the federal poverty level for a single person is only about $12K a year.  Good luck finding a place to live.

In short, people with barely a high school education who are poorly trained both by the local educational system and the daycare provider, are not going to provide optimum care for children.  They can barely take care of themselves.

How much does daycare cost?  Usually about $1000 to $1500 per child per month.  My daughter’s twins would cost her $2000 per month, optimally.  That does not include extra clothing and diapers (all non-potty trained children must have their own supply of diapers) and extra money for food.  If your child is on formula or breastmilk, that must be provided as well, properly bottled and labeled.  If you child is sick, he/she cannot come to daycare that day.

Daycare centers in my area only run when the schools are open, with an exception for summer holidays, when the prices rise.  Thus, if the schools are not open, daycare is closed as well.  This includes teacher workdays, spring break, winter break and other assorted days off.  To get an idea how many days the schools are closed, go to your local elementary school website and look at the calendar.  You’ll be amazed how many days children do not attend school.

Additionally, if there is a behavioral problem, as often happens with older children, you will be told you must pick up your child immediately and the daycare may suspend your privileges.  This would include children with social skill problems (autism), developmentally delayed children or just the average kid having a bad day.

Also, daycare centers will charge large sums of money (say $50) for every minute you are late picking up your child in the afternoon.  This is why parents prefer daycare facilities near where they work and not where they live.  Once the children get to school age, however, this can become a problem because before and after school care does this as well.  If you live far from where you work you should keep this in mind.

Let’s look at this from the consumers’ point of view.  You pay say, $2,100.00 per month for twins, about $1,100.00 for a single child.  The caregivers are people with barely a high school education who live, most likely, in poverty.  They would make better money at the local grocery store.  You must provide all changes of clothes, diapers, formula/breast milk and food or, for older children, pay for food the daycare provides, which you can bet will be the cheapest it can get away with.

Be warned. Daycare centers are cesspools.  The children are sick all the time, sicknesses they bring home; therefore, you will be sick all the time.  I worked with a woman who had a six month old enrolled in on-site daycare; she had pneumonia twice along with a constant case of bronchitis, in addition to a couple of bouts with a very bad gastrointestinal bug.  When she finally quit, she had been sick for over a year.

The District of Columbia, in an effort to improve its abysmal daycare, has begun an initiative to require daycare workers to have an associates’ degree.  People currently employed in daycare are now required to be working on such a degree or face being fired.  That’s all fine and dandy, but once they get that associates’ degree, they’re outta there. The District, of course, will not reimburse said workers for getting the required degrees.  So, the next crop of minimum wage workers will come along and do the same.

Ivanka Trump, who assuredly employs a nanny, or perhaps more than one, is said to be bending the President’s ear on women’s issues in the workforce, one of which is daycare.  So far I don’t see much improvement, but then I’m not hopeful.  Looking after children is not remunerative work.  To the American business world, glaring at that bottom line, children are just a bother, unless they’re their own children, in which case they are God’s gift.  The only time the business world likes children is when it markets to children.

As a society, Americans do not value children.  Don’t believe me?  Look at the way we treat them.  We put them in daycare centers to be cared for by those who, for all intents and purposes, have very little education and make less money than the wait staff at McDonalds.  We have the audacity to charge an arm and a leg for the service.  We put them in overcrowded schools we refuse to fully fund, so much so that teachers give out lists at the beginning of every school year that include school supplies to be pooled for the use of the entire class. We make families pay for extra curricular activities, particularly those that do not involve some sort of sport;  even then many sports are fully supported by harried, volunteer parents.  We plant children in front of TV sets, computers, phones and gaming consoles, leave them there and wonder why they won’t talk to us.  We require a college level education to be qualified to do just about anything but make it so difficult to attain, both educationally and materially, that many young people drop out or end up with crushing debt at the beginning of their working life.

Of course, they can always become daycare workers.

Failure is an Orphan

The Donald Administration is nearing the 100 day benchmark.  Personally, I think this is a media construct, but it does serve as a place to take stock.  That is, if you can bear to look.

Where to begin?  We’ve had the immigration non-ban, the “We’ve Been Wiretapped by Those Obama Meanies!” controversy, the ACA repeal and replace drama, not to mention the Russia connection story (aka the story that won’t die) and the folksy Gorsuch confirmation hearings.  Meanwhile we continue to be subjected to badly worded statements badly read aloud by the combative Sean Spicer.

One at a time, shall we?

The immigration non-ban.  This is still tied up in the courts.  Most of these federal judges are Obama appointees and thus are not inclined to give the Trump people a break.  Look for this one to continue into oblivion and/or the Supreme Court.  I’m not betting on this horse to even make it across the finish line.  This is partially the Donald Administration’s fault; shoddy legal work done on a self-imposed and impossible deadline is never good when you’re arguing delicate stuff like the appearance of religious discrimination with judges who have a liberal bias to begin with.  Note to the Donald Administration:  stop confusing political stratagems with good legal work.

“We’ve Been Wiretapped!”  Right.  This engendered hours of retired CIA/NSA people relating foreign wiretapping rules and regs to confused if perfectly coiffed cable news presenters.  This also suffered from the FBI’s Comey’s non-answers with regard to potential wiretapping of any installation, much less Trump Tower.  I would point out here that, considering Mr. Trump’s tweeting habits (4:00 AM and out of control), such wiretapping would not be entirely necessary.  The news people, half tongue in cheek, have as of yet found no evidence of such wiretapping.  Representative Nunes’ news conference regarding surveillance of the Trump Transition Team made no sense; the information he had turned out to be either untrue, of no consequence or was too classified to discuss.  Meanwhile, the ultra right wing conservatives are talking Deep State Conspiracy  (I’m looking at you Mark Levin).  I’ll let Mr. Levin explain that one.

ACA Repeal and Replacement.  The next time these guys party I want to know what they’re smoking; it’s got to be good stuff.  Repeal and Replace came up for vote twice in two days in the House, hitting the failure cliff both times.  Mr. Trump, with help from the lovely Mr. Bannon, personally bawled out the Freedom Caucus which responded, point blank, that it would not be voting for the bill.  No dissent, no waffling, no histrionics. Just no.  I got the feeling this was Mr. Ryan’s baby and that Mr. Trump was a fellow traveler on the issue.  The House, dominated by conservatives, could only be trusted to come up with something stupid in the first place, et voila!  These guys hate Obamacare and have since it was forced down their throats in 2010.  To come up with a bill that promoted universal healthcare was beyond the pale; there was no way they were going to vote yes.   We were then treated to the spectacle of the Speaker of the House and the President, two of the most powerful people in the land, walking away from the issue.   Freedom Caucus (and the Democrats): 1.  Paul Ryan, Moderate Republicans and the Donald Administration:  0.  For a  zero sum guy like Mr. Trump this defeat has to stick in his craw.

The Russians.  Democrat noises regarding Trump’s Russia ties are becoming more than just political flack.  Now that Trump has left the moderate members of his party, not to mention Mr. Ryan, hanging out to dry, I figure the Russia story will gather steam.  Despite several good Republican foot stampings, the story will not disappear.  This one has the seeping quality that the Watergate break in had way back when.  Never a good sign.  We’ll see if Mr. Manafort pleads the 5th in next week’s hearings.

The Gorsuch Hearings.  These were overtaken by events.  First there was the attack on the Westminster Bridge in London and then the ACA drama.  What little I have seen proves that Mr. Gorsuch knows his stuff, that he wants to be independent of the Donald Administration (but then, who wouldn’t?) and can discuss mutton busting with the best of them.  (Look it up on CSpan.)  He seems like a nice guy, I guess. His record is reliably conservative, otherwise he wouldn’t be there in the first place. Beyond that he, like all Supreme Court nominees, is a crap shoot.

In summary:  Immigration Ban:  look for more arcane judicial arguments flavored with glacial courtroom proceedings.  Trump’s justice department was never completely behind it anyway.  Wiretapping:  Unless some investigator comes up with something real, this one is just embarrassing.  Look for Mr. Trump to ignore his claim or simply state that it’s too classified to discuss in public.  ACA/Obamacare:  It’s the law of the land.  The Russians: perhaps Mr. Trump will blame Mr. Bannon for that one; he will disavow Mr. Manafort.  Gorsuch:  the revived Democrats may filibuster this one; if so,  look for Goodnight Moon to be read aloud on the Senate floor not to mention granny’s recipe for yummy chocolate chip cookies.

Come on, all you orphans; time to troop down to the mess for milk and cookies before bed.  Maybe we can get that senator to print up that cookie recipe for us.

Whither St. Patrick?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day for all you wanna be Irish out there.  Of course, as the New Yorkers say, everybody’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, usually right before they upchuck green beer into (hopefully) the gutter.  Lesson:  do not drink green beer.  Ever.

In America, St. Patrick’s Day  started out as an affirmation of an Irish minority pinioned in an Anglo culture that denigrated the Irish as shanty – backward Catholics who had lots of children they couldn’t support and who drank a lot.  The Italians got the same treatment.  Loud, bold cultures, both; nothing to lose immigrants who worked hard, sometimes at the all the wrong things. It took a presidential election (1960) to blur that line; now they’re just white people. Go figure.

My family used to think we were Irish.  Now we think we’re Welsh and Scottish.  St. Patrick, according to the New English (aka BBC), was a Welsh missionary.  Or perhaps Cornish, or something like that.  As an American with a foggy geographic knowledge  of Great Britain (where the heck is Midsomer anyway?), I am easily confused by the whereabouts of traditional Celtic minorities in what is now Britain.  I note that my family all immigrated before 1850, so they weren’t all that attached to wherever they were in the old country.  People didn’t immigrate at the drop of a hat, considering the difficulties of 17th, 18th and 19th Century travel, not to mention the effort involved in taming a savage wilderness.

For the sake of historical accuracy, I come from a long line of Protestants so St. Patrick was not high on the list of celebratory occasions, all the more so because no one in the family moved off the farm until about 1920 or so.  Nearest I can figure, celebratory occasions were almost non-existent.  The work load was too heavy and even if there was a church nearby, it certainly wasn’t the Catholic sort; not that my ancestors would have been caught dead in such a place.  As my great-grandmother said to my father when he was sent to help out on their southern Kentucky farm, no one  had time for “sech foolishness.”

The fact that my Scottish grandfather’s people regarded his marriage to my shanty Welsh grandmother (about 1922 or so) as a mixed marriage tells you something about the prejudices of the day.  My grandmother never had much respect for the Scottish side of the family, which evidently regarded her as an interloper.  Thing is, the Scottish side was gone by about the late ’20’s.  Only the Welsh side of the family lived on, casting a long, southern Kentucky Celtic shadow over my childhood, albeit a fiercely Protestant one, but then, they were all fiercely Protestant; my grandparents would never have married otherwise.

This has absolutely nothing to do with current St. Patrick’s Day, aka All Things Irish, celebrations.  These have  more to do with greeting card/cookie merchandising and early spring pub crawls than anything else.  It’s amateur hour as a Boston Irish friend used to say; an excuse to get drunk at lunch and ditch work for the rest of the day.  It’s a cubicle dweller’s slacker excuse, an American Civil Religion holiday of the highest order.

So, raise your glass. I will ignore the green beer, just this once.  Here’s to St. Patrick, who brought Christianity to the heathen Irish and drove out the snakes, as celebrated by churches in both Irelands and perhaps, some in the Northeastern United States (where we still have snakes).  Meanwhile, the amateurs will head for the bars which are decked out for the occasion in green, grinning leprechauns, those malevolent representatives of Fairie.

Great grandmother Roberts, had she ever sighted such a far-fetched thing as a leprechaun, would have put it to work making lye soap without so much as a by your leave.  No time for chasing rainbows on the farm. That would have been foolishness indeed.

 

 

Funeral for a Friend

Yesterday we found ourselves driving through the hills of south western Pennsylvania and western Maryland.  A snow storm blew through overnight, shutting down the schools in the remote Youghiogheny Dam area.  The hardy schools down along the Route 21 corridor, however, only gave the kids a two hour delay.   We decided to have a leisurely breakfast before attempting the roads. When we got into the mountains we found wet roads coated with heavy gravel brine and the sort of snow traced woods one only sees on old fashioned Christmas cards.

The day before, the day of our arrival, had been pleasant and unseasonably warm.  The country church, nestled next to a closed coal-fired power plant and a deserted logging/landfill road, stood sentinel over the winter brown river,  gazing down big limestone cliffs, half hidden by resurgent underbrush and depopulation.  The cemetery was filled with the people we used to know.  After the service we wandered, reading the flat headstones in a haze of sorrow and discovery, greeting old friends. Their spirits whispered through the breeze, bidding welcome and long time no see as we walked among the graves.

He was a man who lived his entire life in the parish.  He toiled with grace and dignity, a man of his time and place.  He was a pillar of that industrial/rural congregation, the only parish he had ever known.  He was baptized there, married there.  A young man in the early 60’s, he was a marine and a college graduate who returned to live in and serve his community. He was  raised by no-nonsense immigrants who took advantage of their opportunities.  His Balkan father, after a spell in the mines, went into the cattle broker business, something he passed along to his two sons.  This turned out to be a good bet.  Cattle brokers are doing about the same as they always did in western Pennsylvania.  The coal mines, coke ovens and steel mills are gone.

We spent the night in a resurgent shopping area, something that had not been there thirty years before.  The hotels were all new, glossy Hiltons and Holiday Inns. A flashy Walmart and Super Target lined the newly widened roads, moated by huge parking lots.  There were acres of ultra modern urology and dialysis clinics, doctors’ offices and rehab facilities.  The usual national food chains peppered the wayward strip malls along with the venerable Eat ‘n Park, that Pittsburgh area favorite.

The day before, not knowing how long it would take to get through the awful DC traffic, we left home before sunup.  Dawn rose over South Mountain as we tracked the sharp hills and steep grades and the world widened around us, long, low valleys tracing up into forested hills.  Radio stations faded, only NPR and trucker country strong enough to dip into the hollows.  The Washington Bubble vanished over the eastern hills and we found ourselves in the real world.

Arriving too early, we ended up getting coffee at the local Panera.  It was full of old guys, all dressed in fashion discredited track suits and discount athletic shoes, drinking coffee and talking politics, regulars, their bright eyes intelligent and sharp under silver hair, accentuated by bushy, old fashioned mustaches.  The help, a mix of teens just out of high school and women in their 60’s, knew them by name, greeting each with sharp grins and good words.

The church was small, attracting less than 25 parishioners on any given Sunday and perhaps a 100 people at Easter and Christmas.  It was dying even when we were there, now a generation ago.  We were young then, new parents, our lives ahead of us.  The man who died was a surrogate uncle, a steady, soft spoken man, classy, intelligent, hardworking, modest.  His fault was that he did not take care of himself and even as early as the mid-1980’s he was already taking handfuls of pills everyday, washed down by gallons of Pepsi.  He did not drink, at least not much by the hard drinking standards of his family and friends.  He refused to exercise. His marriage to a local woman was a lifelong love, one that produced no children.  Instead they gave their lives to their families, their friends and their church. They were the class act, ready to give, to listen, to advise.  No judgment or recrimination.

The area, forgotten even thirty years ago, is now on the edge of a crumbling cliff.  Jobs are hard to come by. The coal trains rumble past, fewer than before. The power plant stands a rusting testament to something that once provided good livelihood to the local population.  It was closed by EPA regulations, the company walking away.  The landfill up the way closed.  The place has returned to its country silence, relinquishing Springsteen anthems for trucker country, old country folk music and the dead language hymns of eternal rest.

This man, one of the classiest I have ever known, gave his life to this place, his place.  He was a pillar of the community and the shock of his passing fades even now to hallow emptiness.  Even as we stood in that sunlit cemetery, listening to the choir sing the ancient graveside service, the present became the past, gravediggers standing by, shovels in hand.  He was not important or well known except in his own community of forested foothills and dying townships. In the big picture, the one that pretends Congress, the White House and Wall Street are important, he was nobody.

You shrug.  Life goes on you say.  Flyover country, you say.  The land time forgot.  Time, however, never forgets anything.  It remembers all, holds all in its grimy, irrevocable hand, vise-grip fingers pressing unceasing until life is drained.  Our beloved friend lies now in that country graveyard, surrounded by wild turkey, red foxes and cautious, silent deer.  The church holds to its ancient ritual, outlasting landfills, power plants and coal trains.  Bells ring across the cemetery and the woods beyond, solid and somehow harsh, tolling eternity.

 

 

Interims:  A – Acceptable (With a Warning)

The news people tell me it’s been a month since the Donald’s inauguration.  Already?  Time does fly.  At any rate, time for an interim grade. Should be mid-terms in about, say, May or so, right before Memorial Day.

First thing’s first:  interim grade.  I had some trouble with this one.  I have done no research on what other new administrations have accomplished in their first 30 days, so I have no context in which to judge the Donald Administration.  There are conflicting reports (read:  opinions backed up by cherry picked facts).  Some say that most administrations hit the ground running; some report that it takes six months or so to get things going.  I could do the research but, really, I have better things to do, besides people will not be persuaded one way or the other once they’ve made up their minds.

Rather than following the British method (levels) or the American method (A, B, C, D, F) I prefer the Hogwarts grading system:  O – Outstanding, E – Exceeds Expectations, A – Acceptable, P – Poor, D – Dreadful and the feared T – Troll.

 As it stands now, I figure it’s somewhere between Acceptable and Poor, with a dose of Dreadful.  We haven’t had enough time to fall to Troll and the Donald Administration is nowhere near Exceeds Expectations.  No one gets an Outstanding in the first 30 days, nor would it be fair to slap a T on the whole thing and call it a day.

So, how does the Donald Administration? 

I’m going for an unenthusiastic Acceptable, I guess.  The immigration ban muddle, Mr. Spicer’s rough start, the muzzling of a runaway Conway, the funny business Flynn thing and Donald’s chaotic news conference of last week are not encouraging.  Add the fact that the Cabinet is full of last century’s military/industrial complex in addition to some Congressional Republican side eye, and you’ve not got a recipe for long-term success. 

Donald, weary of unrelenting nit-picking and yelling critics, rallied his base in South Carolina and Florida soon after, to a sneering national press which, unfortunately, provided a much too clear picture of the chattering class’ mindset.  My point?   Let’s leave Professor Snape to his dungeon for the time being and go with the hopeful if stern Professor McGonagall.  Perhaps Donald J. will grow into it.

 

New York, New York, It’s a Wonderful Town. . .

Another long week of, if not exactly surprises, then at least interesting stuff.  The Donald Administration is busy crashing into the White House furniture (somebody needs to find the light switches) and the press is in full hue and cry.  We’ve had visits from Canadian and Israeli bigwigs.  President Trump put Netanyahu on the spot there for a moment, but I wondered if that was staged.  Netanyahu, who had little or no relationship with President Obama, looked remarkably overjoyed anyway.

We had the Flynn thing (was that a debacle or just a change of heart?).  We witnessed the sudden disappearance of Kellyanne Conway, erstwhile spokesperson.  We’ve watched Mr. Spicer plough through that devastating SNL Melissa McCarthy impression.  (The press was so in love with this skit that it received political analysis.) We’ve seen a former Navy seal decide he would rather not participate in Donald’s reality show rendition of the National Security Council.  I have a feeling Donald’s romance with the military might have taken a step back on that one.  Finally we got varying breathless impressions of Donald’s press conference yesterday.  Even right-wing Fox was taken aback.

Pure, unvarnished Donald.  You can’t say that there’s Obama PR gloss, Bush broad shoulders militarism or Clinton charisma going on here, folks. This is honesty.  For the first time since, well I’d have to look it up, we have a President who doesn’t hold back, no matter what the situation is, public or private, sensitive or not.

The press, our lens to these things, loved/hated it.  Loved it because spectacle makes for good ratings, as does conflict.  Hated it because the press regards Trump as a doofus, the idiot who somehow got into the White House, voted in by those doofuses who live in flyover territory.  They’ll soon learn, the press bigwigs think; we’ll show them just how stupid President Trump, and they, are.

With that attitude, no one’s going to be showing anyone anything.  Contempt is not a good starting point for incisive reporting.

President Trump is a throwback to some of your more colorful politicians who let it all hang out.  President Johnson wasn’t exactly a nice guy, despite his wife’s attempt to turn the District of Columbia into a garden.  (She was remarkably successful.)  President Kennedy, despite his sterling reputation, was a womanizer who abused prescription drugs, his marriage was a sham; if he had run in this last election cycle, he wouldn’t have made it through the primaries.  You could say President Clinton was somewhat like Trump, but Clinton is a lot like Paul McCartney.  Both are tremendously talented, smart and have good PR instincts; both are also very good at glossing over obvious difficulties and deflecting hard questions.  Mr. Trump is not gifted with this sort of gloss.

Mr. Trump is, on the contrary, very New York.  New Yorkers take things head on, calling a spade a spade, as it were.  They cut through the crap.  They figure out where you’re coming from before you’ve finished your convoluted question and provide an answer, cutting through reporter grandstanding. They also refuse to answer the same question over and over again.  They tell you to shut up and sit down.  If you hesitate,  you’re dead  in the water.  They respect hard headedness and, most of all, fearlessness.

That’s the way the city is.  And that’s Trump.  The DC press, having been alternately courted and spurned by the Obama Administration’s smooth spin, is not used to this sort of bare bones treatment.  Did Donald answer all the questions?  No.  Did he go back to subjects better left alone?  Yes.  Did he rant?  Yes.  Was this ill advised? How the heck should I know?  The press is telling me it was a disaster, but I am suspicious of them, as well.  You can’t trust anybody these days.

Obama, too, danced around difficult questions.  Would he, for instance, speak out against Anti-Semitism?  How?  Give a speech?  Play nice with Netanyahu? Tell the Palestinians to stop throwing rocks at Israeli border guards?   Obama, if memory serves, pretty much ignored Israel and the Middle East in his second term.  Many major news outlets laid the rise of ISIS and the escalating civil war in Syria/Iraq at his doorstep.

It’s a different style.  The point is that the press needs to calm down, go back to reporting and stop speculating. Stop with the partisanship and the grandstanding.  Pretend you’re on the tough streets of New York.  New Yorkers demand that you earn their respect.  It is obvious that Donald does not take the White House Press Corps seriously; it’s going to have to earn his respect.

 

 

Who, What, When, Where, Why

The fundamentals of journalism.  In fact, the fundamentals of writing.  I have avoided network news for a while now, since the primaries when the major news outlets rushed to interview the Donald over the telephone.  Notably absent was Hillary.  There was industry blowback, especially when Trump started winning, but the news people said that Trump’s phone convos not only brought in ratings, they were important to their coverage of the primaries.  This silver platter stuff stopped after the conventions. By that time it was too late.

The major news outlets are now shunning the Donald Administration, doubling down on his spokespeople if any should be so foolish as to show up for an interview.  I note that there are no more phone interviews.  These outfits have become so biased that I can’t watch them for more than five minutes anymore, should I happen upon a panel-free moment.

This leaves the local news,  good for traffic, weather and  whether the schools have closed.  The local guys, relieved of  Donald duty, cover the nuts and bolts of the passing parade, murder, robbery, kidnapping, missing persons, school board meetings, man bites dog.  In the DC area, we are fortunate to have a local all news channel, part of the ABC affiliate.  This outfit puts on local news at 10:00 PM, right after it rebroadcasts ABC’s national news at 9:30.

One evening last week found me reluctantly watching the ABC Evening News rebroadcast.  The fact that the powers that be at ABC have given up on complete sentences is profoundly irritating. Amidst all the gabble, however, I gathered that a young woman was found dead at a “popular tourist destination.”  The newscast sped through its grisly story, with pictures of the young woman in better days followed by video of men in t-shirts scouring an unidentified jungle.  This, unfortunately, is not an unusual story.  The problem?  The newscaster (David Muir) never said where this happened.  “Popular tourist destination” doesn’t tell me much.  Where was it?  Thailand? The Caribbean?  Hawaii?  Where?

I had to look it up on Google.  “Popular tourist destination” turned out to be Panama, or an island belonging to Panama.   If we can’t trust a national news outfit to give us even the basic facts of a tragic murder, what else do they leave out?  Curb your outrage, guys.  Do your job.  It’s time to go back to basics which, hopefully, includes using complete sentences.