Don’t know what is going to happen with the Alabama prison system’s plan to lease three ultra-modern prisons from private companies. A plan to build two of them collapsed recently when funding for the projects fell through – largely because of political pressure from citizens (bank customers) and residents near the two sites announced for construction. Governor Kay Ivey was rumored a couple of weeks ago to be about to call a special session of the Alabama Legislature for later this month, but recent comments from her indicate she has no set date for that special session. Probably smart, because opinions by lawmakers over how to solve the prison overcrowding issue are all over the map, with no one plan getting anything close to a majority support. Politics being what it is, we doubt any plan that doesn’t upgrade and keep most of the existing prisons across Alabama will fail. The communities with prisons want to keep the steady jobs in their area. Most of those areas without a prison don’t want a big jail in their backyard. Thus the governor must bite the bullet, agree with lawmakers to spend whatever funds can be mustered and add capacity to those prisons already functioning in Alabama. Then maybe the threat of a federal takeover of the Alabama prison system will subside.

Any news headline that mentions “Alzheimer’s medicine” naturally grabs our attention, having recently been down that road with our wife and years earlier with two other close relatives. During the weekend the internet offered up one such news article. Of course, anything that will successfully tackle this attack on the brain should be welcomed. However, we swallowed hard with the comments that not all experts support the “new” drug, named Aduhelm as being effective. Some tests have shown almost zero benefits and others somewhere in the 30% - 35% range of benefits. We think that is a good start on a disease that has a 100% fatality rate. Then the second shoe dropped when Biogen, the developer of this disease modifying treatment, projected a $65,000 annual price tag . . . per patient! Even if insurance companies pick up part of the cost, it will still be ultra expensive to patients. That price means many potential patients will not have the chance to be in that winning 30%.

A couple of weeks ago we had a short chat with Elba native Bob Inman. He was on a ‘zip in and zip out’ trip to Elba. Local fans of the array of books he has authored will be pleased to know that he expects to have another book on the market early next year. We resisted the urge to ask any questions about the setting, the story line, etc. and will wait until this new book hits the bookstores to find out what it is all about. Stay tuned for any new developments.

We just finished rereading Walter Cronkite’s story of his storied life, first as having a paper route as a child to his career as a reporter during WWII and later as a TV anchorman and being classified by many as “the most trusted person in America”. It was published some 20/30 years ago and it is amazing that some of the predictions he made back all those years ago about the direction journalism/radio/newspapers and TV were going are now reality . . . . unfortunately.

The national news media exploded Tuesday afternoon with a story indicating that the 25 richest Americans including Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, and Elon Musk paid relatively little — and sometimes nothing — in federal income taxes between 2014 and 2018, according to an analysis from the news organization ProPublica that was based on a trove of Internal Revenue Service tax data. The report showed that the nation’s richest executives paid just a fraction of their wealth in taxes — $13.6 billion in federal income taxes on $401 billion of their wealth.

Now, before someone starts advocating hanging those ultra rich guys from the closest oak tree, ponder the fact that most of their wealth gain was in the increased price of stocks they own . . . . . the same place millions of regular Americans also invest their lifetime and/or retirement savings. If you monkey very much with the tax code to “get those guys”, you might also be creating a disaster situation with your own retirement fund’s assets!

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