Japan and America may seem like yin and yang, or "in" and "yo" in Japanese, but there are striking similarities.
In the 1990s, soaring debt and a sinking housing market led to deflation and halt of growth in Japan. The nation responded with austerity. Middle class families washed clothes in bath water, and skipped vacations all together. That period is known as "The Lost Decade."
Now, history could repeat itself in the West. Americans are saving more and spending less, and new leaders in Washington hope to slash the mounting deficit.
It's good to be frugal, but a consumer culture is built on...well...consuming.
Like yin and yang, economists say we need a healthy blend of debt AND spending .
American policy makers should look to lessons from the East...to keep the sun from setting in the West.
That's a page from my notebook.
If you haven't heard of Norman Rockwell, surely you've seen his work.
By the same token, if the name Ruby Bridges doesn't ring a bell, maybe her portrait looks familiar.
Before I moved to New Orleans, you could count me in the category of "doesn't ring a bell." That is until a colleague of mine, the now famous Hoda Kotb, told me her story. She herself had just met her and was amazed by her steely reserve: a woman, who as a young girl, lived through a sea of hatred and seemed to escape unscathed.
Norman Rockwell painted Ruby in 1964, four years after the six-year-old integrated New Orleans public schools. His picture shows a sprite, neatly dressed little girl, flanked by federal Marshalls as she faced hostile crowds outside of Frantz School.
"I didn't know what all the fuss was about," Bridges told me last week. "I was going to a new school and I was so excited."
Bridges was among the first to integrate an all-white elementary school in the South. There were three other girls who broke the barrier at McDonough 19, a few miles away.
"But they were together, they had each other," Ruby said. "I was all alone."Perhaps for that reason, the famous painter felt compelled to illustrate Ruby's experience.
In 1963, Rockwell left the Saturday Evening Post, home to his cover portraits of idyllic American scenes, to explore some of the problems afflicting American society. He began working for Look magazine, a publication that gave him the opportunity to express his social concerns.
His first painting, Ruby's portrait, was "The Problem We All Live With". It led to some of Rockwell's most graphic and emotional work of the decade. Then came "Southern Justice," a haunting illustration of the murder of three civil rights workers for their efforts to register African-American voters.Continue »
On this day we remember and celebrate all the heroes...and she-roes, as Maya Angelou once said...who fought bravely to defend our nation and our way of life.
Sadly, the signing of the armistice in 1918 did not end all wars.
Today, at least 22 million Americans among us have served. Two million of them, the newest veterans, fought in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past decade.
The number of young vets returning injured and in need of care and counseling is growing. A new study found more than 40 percent of ALL veterans who need a caregiver are between the ages of 18 to 54.
The writer Eve Merriam wrote, "I dream of giving birth to child who will ask, 'Mother what was war?'"
A more immediate goal is for the nation to provide all the resources and care our veterans deserve...and not at the eleventh hour.
That's a page from my notebook.
It doesn't seem fair, but that's what happened at a Tennessee auto parts plant.
As a pair of lawsuits in this case play out, the debate is raging. Some employers argue they need to test for prescription drugs. They say it's a safety issue. No one wants a truck driver nodding off because medication made him drowsy ... and abuse of prescription drugs is a growing problem.Continue »
Picture this: You've just ordered dinner at your favorite Italian restaurant, but as your waiter approaches, you notice he has a red nose and a crumpled tissue in his hand.
Then he sneezes all over your fettuccine.Continue »
The year of the woman it was not.
Though high-profile female candidates dominated headlines for months, they didn't dominate at the polls.
Mama Grizzlies Christine O'Donnell and Sharron Angle won't be roaring into Washington, and big bucks didn't mean big wins for Meg Whitman or Linda McMahon.Continue »
Winston Churchill once said, "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."
With all due respect, maybe he should have tried talking to the average voter for 15...or even 30 minutes instead.Continue »