Keith Chrostowski

At the end of the year, a time for wondering why

Updated: 2013-12-17T23:25:18Z

By Keith Chrostowski

The Kansas City Star

A questionable column: Serious or simply silly queries from a mind at work.

On the economy ...

Does the improving economy show that government shenanigans — the budget sequestration, the debt ceiling battles, gridlock and shutdown — don’t have that much effect?

Isn’t it laughable to see Washington politicians who may finally have worked out a budget compromise patting themselves on the back for just doing their jobs?

Taxes? Fees? Taxes? Fees?

Don’t those politicians who want to end long-term jobless benefits realize that, as Ron Fournier of the National Journal pointed out, we’re “in the midst of a once-a-century economic shift that makes it extraordinarily difficult for some workers to adjust”?

Are people being left behind in the economy because of globalization, technology and governmental policies tilted toward the wealthy? Or because of cultural factors, such as the breakdown of families and weakening of community institutions?

Is Washington Post economics columnist Robert Samuelson right in calling our economic condition “affluent deprivation”?

Do you realize that income inequality in the U.S. is at its highest since 1928?

If we can’t solve the jobs problem, what makes us think we can solve income inequality?

Would a higher minimum wage do all that much to ease inequality?

Do you agree with Pope Francis? What good is an economy that showers wealth on a relative few?

1 percent? 99 percent? 1 percent? 99 percent?

On health care …

Will those who supported the Affordable Care Act feel, as one commentator said, like chumps if it doesn’t work?

Wasn’t President Obama smart enough to realize that saying you could keep your health insurance if you like was a big fib?

Will high deductibles kill Obamacare?

Do Republicans really want to take us back to the rickety health insurance system in place before the ACA?

When will people realize that health insurance, whether from the government or from a private company, doesn’t really make health care less expensive to society as a whole?

On local matters …

Why won’t the streetcar line in Kansas City be a success?

Is KCI really worth saving?

Will SoftBank come to regret its purchase of Sprint? Or will Sprint come to regret its purchase by SoftBank?

Doesn’t the resurrection of the Chiefs show the importance of good management?

Why does the education establishment deserve yet another chance to save the Kansas City School District?

Why was the St. Louis Machinists union local so open to the effort to land the Boeing 777X plant? Won’t it just take work away from union brethren in Washington state and further weaken union solidarity?

Why not move the state line west past the Kansas Speedway and the Sporting Park soccer stadium and rename the entire metro area Cerner City?

With so many good barbecue joints in Kansas City, isn’t the question of who has the best barbecue beside the point?

And this and that …

Because women play such a big role in the car-buying decision, isn’t it nice to see a woman CEO at GM?

How come I’m not surprised by a recent study contending that your major is more important to your earnings than the prestige of your college?

Why not replace handshakes with fist bumps?

Will it be cool or spooky to have a book delivered to your front door by an Amazon drone? Who will be the first guy to shoot one down with a 12-gauge? Or will an angry bird be the first to take one out?

Big data? Small data? Big data? Small data?

Do anybody really understand how Bitcoins work?

When does a corporation deserve to be treated as a person and when as an institution?

A Pew study shows that MSNBC is 85 percent opinion and only 15 percent news. The other cable networks are about half and half. Does this explain MSNBC’s low ratings?

To bankers discomfited by the tough Volcker rule: Why are you surprised after your industry helped crater the economy?

Isn’t the Dodd-Frank financial reform act a failure for failing to solve the too big to fail problem?

Shouldn’t boomers be embarrassed that just 52 percent of their generation are on pace to save enough to meet at least basic retirement costs?

To those folks running Detroit the last three decades: What were you thinking?

Why isn’t interest on the U.S. debt mainly a huge transfer of money to the wealthy?

Will the presumptive new chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, be naughty or nice to the economy?

Taper? Tapir? Taper? Tapir?

To reach business editor Keith Chrostowski, call 816-234-4466 or send email to Follow him at

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