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Voters Hiding From the World

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 02.08.2016 | Politics
Robert Whitcomb

The insularity of that minority (i.e., "the base'') of the electorate that tends to dominate presidential campaigns' first innings explains much of the current nasty race, especially on the Republican side.

A Half Century of Lessons

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 11.11.2015 | HuffPost Home
Robert Whitcomb

Everyone is a different genome against which life throws stuff, painful and pleasant. With some of my best friends from school dead at early ages and now contemporaries dying at an accelerating rate, I'm pleased that I'm still here to contemplate the vivid colors of life in a high-school reunion book.

We love the Amazon jungle, for now

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 09.05.2015 | Business
Robert Whitcomb

Amazon is an impressive if rather creepy company, with its style set by its cold, "data-driven'' founder/CEO, Jeff Bezos. An Aug. 15 New York Times p...

The return of private rail passenger service?

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 09.05.2015 | Travel
Robert Whitcomb

Since the disappearance of private-sector passenger rail service decades ago, intrepid entrepreneurs have tried to bring it back. None have succeeded...

As Gas Tax Revenues Fall, Infrastructure Crumbles

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 06.08.2016 | Travel
Robert Whitcomb

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo is focusing on long-term projects that would help most people in the state, rather than "government by deal'' wherein powerful groups seek taxpayer help for their special projects.

Better and Cheaper Medicaid

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 05.25.2016 | Politics
Robert Whitcomb

Unsurprisingly, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo is getting pushback from interest groups against her goal of "reinventing Medicaid'' - the federal-state program for the poor. The Ocean State's Medicaid costs are America's second-highest per enrollee (Alaska is first) and 60 percent higher than the national average.

Another Stadium Scam; Dog-Human Co-Evolution

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 06.26.2015 | Business
Robert Whitcomb

Do we go with baseball-stadium scams or jobs? Let's watch what's happening in Rhode Island. There, Gov. Gina Raimondo is right to focus a lot on job training. You repeatedly hear from business executives that there aren't enough people in the state with adequate literacy and numeracy.

Save the Small Liberal-arts College

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 06.06.2015 | Education
Robert Whitcomb

That fiscally anxious Sweet Briar College, in rural Virginia, will close demonstrates the challenges facing liberal (in the nonpolitical sense) higher education in our harsher, more competitive times.

Consolations of a New England Winter

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 05.06.2015 | Good News
Robert Whitcomb

First, of course, there's the beauty and quiet. For brief stretches, all seems sinless, albeit with intimations of a monochromatic death. Of course, you might also hear cursing as people fight over a parking lot's sole remaining space amidst six-foot-high piles of dirty snow.

Hospital Systems Should Be Insurers, Too

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 04.28.2015 | Business
Robert Whitcomb

Let's hope that state and federal regulators don't put too many roadblocks in the way of many more hospital systems becoming insurers. Extending Medicare to everyone might be the most cost-effective reform but Washington will prevent that, at least for the foreseeable future.

Deregulation Despair at 35,000 Feet

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 04.03.2015 | Business
Robert Whitcomb

We're all hearing more and more complaints about bad airline service. But then, flying has been miserable for years, except for some of the relatively few folks who can afford business or first class.

Madness of Paying Ransoms; Christmas Cards and Skulls

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 03.09.2015 | Politics
Robert Whitcomb

Of course, these stories of Americans and other Westerners who go to the Mideast for humanitarian, journalistic and other reasons and then are kidnapped by the likes of IS are horrific. But for the U.S. to pay ransom to get them back will create many more such cases.

A Little Nuance With Frats, Please

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 02.10.2015 | College
Robert Whitcomb

Individual fraternities vary about as widely as humans do. As with any organization, it depends on who is in them, particularly their leaders.

Of Immigration, Brooklyn, A Bridge, 'Royalists' and Rockefeller

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 01.25.2015 | Politics
Robert Whitcomb

I wish that President Obama were not using an executive order in seeking to protect millions of illegal aliens from prosecution. The situation doesn't justify acting in legally dubious, delegitimizing ways that will tend to give a green light to more people to come here illegally, with economic and national-security implications.

Republicans Bother to Vote

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 01.09.2015 | Politics
Robert Whitcomb

The politicians elected Nov. 4 to new jobs will soon be blamed for doing the same sort of things that their ousted predecessors did as they tried to mate good governance with reality and ambition with idealism.

Hospitals Must Establish New Community Linkages

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 01.05.2015 | Healthy Living
Robert Whitcomb

Health-system markets are being pushed toward a volume vs. value-payment tipping point. This is driven by the confluence of states moving Medicaid and...

Returns of the Day with Coffee and Doughnuts

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 01.02.2015 | Politics
Robert Whitcomb

In November 1970, the old Boston Herald Traveler sent me to Pittsfield, Massachusetts to get the election returns from Berkshire County. It wasn't a presidential-election year but there was plenty of excitement about close New England races.

Move New England's Time Zone

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 12.23.2014 | Science
Robert Whitcomb

Going on Atlantic Time would raise the spirits and mental and physical energy of more New Englanders than not, by alleviating the late-afternoon grimness of late fall, winter and early spring.

A Civic Celebration and a Cruise

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 11.29.2014 | Travel
Robert Whitcomb

I enjoyed a piece of small-town Americana on Sept. 17, when I gave a talk at a luncheon meeting of the Bristol (R.I.) Rotary Club. Oh, for a renaissance of such civic organizations!

Newspapers' Going-Public Problem

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 09.15.2014 | Media
Robert Whitcomb

The Internet has long and glibly been cited as virtually the only reason for the sector's decline. But in fact, business reporters (they fear antagonizing their bosses) generally fail to note the huge and destructive impact (to journalism anyway) of public ownership.

Instead of Banning 'Inversion,' Try This

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 11.02.2014 | Business
Robert Whitcomb

The aim should be to help streamline and detoxify our tax system, encourage economic growth and at least mildly mitigate the growth of a permanent plutocracy based on inheritance.

Push the Pipeline: Noisy Fun

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 09.20.2014 | Green
Robert Whitcomb

Because of pollution, global warming and global geopolitics, we obviously need to move away from fossil fuels, especially coal and oil, but also natur...

The Delights of Urban Density

Robert Whitcomb | Posted 08.26.2014 | Healthy Living
Robert Whitcomb

Providence, a medium-size city (with a metro area of about 1.3 million), has not destroyed so much of its dense urban built environment fabric that it cannot again achieve a thicker, healthier density. It's the sort of density whose attractions draw so many people to put up with the high costs of living in such dense cities as New York, Boston and San Francisco.