Murch: Changing topics as quick as the weather changes

You don’t have to look any further than the last three days to understand what our spring has been like this year. As such, my mind has wandered around a bit:

You have to choose: Which would you rather have, unemployment around 5 percent with inflation around 3 or 4 percent; or unemployment around 6 or 7 percent and inflation around 1 or 2 percent? Obviously we’d love to have both of them low, but which scenario would you choose?

I’m certain that your decision will be influenced by your personal experience. If you have a job and your family and friends have jobs, then you likely would prefer the lower inflation. If you don’t have a job, or your family and friends don’t have jobs, then you probably would prefer lower unemployment. And, if you are retired you most likely want the inflation rate to stay low.

Regardless of the choice it really does become a bit of a double-edged sword. If we all have jobs and inflation is high, then the price of goods and services is going up. At what point do we quit buying those goods and services? And if so, when does the decrease in purchasing cause companies to start laying off people – driving up the unemployment rate. Also, if unemployment is high and the inflation rate is low, how do we purchase things that will result in employers hiring more workers to handle the increase?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We have become so adept at getting more done with less – and advanced technologically to completely eliminate jobs – that we will never again see really low unemployment numbers.

My typical lunchtime is reading down at Mich-e-ke-wis before I come in to work. It also coincides with high school lunches, so there are several high school students who are down there as well.

I’m amazed at how many of them smoke. I have read the same proclamations as you – though I’ve never seen the data – that Alpena has a higher percentage of smokers than the state and national average. I will say, however, that I believe it whenever that is said or written. It’s troubling that there are so many of our smokers who are under 18.

My question is: Where are all the non-18-year-olds getting their smokes (and believe me, I’ve seen some of them smoking cigars, so don’t think it’s just cigarettes)? While some are getting them from their peers who are 18, and some are likely stealing them from mom and dad, I’m willing to bet that many parents are willingly purchasing or providing their kids with the cigarettes.

Smoking is your choice, no doubt. But at what price? And should we do everything we can keep young people from smoking until they are of age – if ever?

What’s the over/under for candidates running for presidents in 2016, at least in the early stages? The Republicans will be eight years removed from their last president and the Democrats won’t have an incumbent. So what’s a safe bet for those running in both parties combined, 8? 10? 12? I’ll set the over/under at 9.5. Yes I know you can’t have a half person, but for those of you who don’t understand gambling, this way you have to choose over/under. And no, I’m not taking odds.

How many of the Republicans who ran last time will run this time? How many people in both parties will be repeat candidates?

The quote of the week comes from a story Friday about how the Green Valley High School choir in Henderson, Nevada, is going to sing on stage with the Rolling Stones. The choir will be on stage with the Stones at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Saturday for the encore of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

The quote?

“When I announced it to the kids, I think their parents were more excited than they were because some of them didn’t even know who the Rolling Stones were,” choir director Kim Kitzer told KLAS-TV.

I can see it now, the choir gets backstage, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards walk past a choir member and Jagger accidentally bumps him. The kids says “Hey, watch it grandpa.”

Steve Murch can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5686. Follow Steve on Twitter at sm_alpenanews. Read his blog, Pardon, Me But … at