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Tom Purcell

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TOM PURCELL: How to rack up the debt

OPINION: Despite record income, federal government is not doing well financially

U.S. government debt is at its highest percentage of gross domestic product since World War II.

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TOM PURCELL: Consequences of short attention spans

OPINION: At least pay attention as well as a goldfish does

A report finds that “Heavy multi-screeners find it difficult to filter out irrelevant stimuli — they’re more easily distracted by multiple streams of media,” which explains a lot about the lack of critical thinking these days.

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TOM PURCELL: Free-range parenting getting costly

OPINION: Encouraging indpendence of children can run afoul of the law

If your kids are seen walking without adult supervision, somebody will call the cops, Child Protective Services will conduct an investigation and charges will be filed.

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TOM PURCELL: The importance of the Fourth

OPINION: Americans forget the true significance of Independence Day

A few years ago, a Marist Poll asked Americans which year the United States declared its independence. Only 58 percent knew that the answer was 1776.

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TOM PURCELL: Defaulting on personal responsibility

OPINION: Lee Siegel, in a New York Times op-ed piece, rationalizes why he defaulted on his student loans

Lee Siegel’s premise that he had to choose between being a writer and other vocations to pay off his loans is faulty. Writers, including greats like Faulkner, have almost always worked jobs they didn’t want, to pay the bills.

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TOM PURCELL: For Father's Day: Counting blessings

OPINION: Lately I've been overcome by strong feelings of nostalgia for my father

I am grateful for my good fortune. For reasons I can’t comprehend, God keeps blessing my family. My father is still here and doing well. And all of us are lottery winners.

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TOM PURCELL: Special-needs children honor veterans

OPINION: The students had spirited, insightful questions for the veterans

It was the most moving Memorial Day ceremony I’ve ever attended. The event took place at the ACLD Tillotson School in Pittsburgh, a special-needs school with a private academic license approved yearly by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

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TOM PURCELL: Where's Dad?

OPINION: Fathers were not considered buffoons when I was a young boy in the 1970s.

I didn’t know it when I was young, but I was one of the luckiest young men on the planet. I had a father who loved me and imposed his will on me.

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TOM PURCELL: Legal monkey business

OPINION: The issue of legal rights for animals has been a source of debate for some time

A few weeks ago, says the New York Post, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe “inadvertently bestowed human status on two chimpanzees being used for biomedical research at Stony Brook University on Long Island.”

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TOM PURCELL: A toast to long life

OPINION: A vice has become a virtue

A new study, published in the journal “Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research,” found that teetotalers are more likely to croak sooner than regular drinkers.

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TOM PURCELL: Oh, for those less taxing days gone by

OPINION: Even average Joes got breaks when filing income taxes in the 1950s

My father had his fair share of simple deductions in 1959, which helped offset his federal taxes. That helped him keep his total federal tax tab at a measly 5 percent. Better yet, his tax form was one sheet of paper printed on both sides. He had no calculator, nor did he need one.

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TOM PURCELL: Oh, the misery of tax time

OPINION: I owe the IRS again

The income tax code has grown from 16 pages in 1913 to 73,954 today.

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TOM PURCELL: No way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day

OPINION: St. Patrick's Day celebrations are getting a wee bit out of hand

The very first St. Patrick’s Day parade occurred in America, not Ireland. That happened in 1762, when Irish soldiers, serving in the English military, marched through New York City.

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TOM PURCELL: Even snow clouds have silver linings

OPINION: A few flakes make D.C. bureaucrats call for office shutdowns

I love how snow disrupts daily life — particularly in Washington, D.C.

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TOM PURCELL: Awaiting the next George Washington

OPINION: Division in America is nothing new

Here’s something we could use more of today: unity among the American people. Americans are so divided, though we’ve has worse division.

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TOM PURCELL: Valentine's Day advice for wary women

OPINION: Tips on how to woo the modern male

With Valentine’s Day upon us, female readers are again pummeling me with questions on how to woo the modern male.

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TOM PURCELL: The inside scoop from Punxutawney Phil

OPINION: A weathered prognosticator gives his views

Every Feb. 2, Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog, is pulled from a tree stump in Punxsutawney, Pa. If he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, spring is just ahead.

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TOM PURCELL: In praise of big families

OPINION: Pope says big families teach children selflessness and sharing

Despite me having no brothers, my father made me wear hand-me-downs. It wasn’t too bad most of the year, but Easter Sunday was unpleasant. Do you know how hard it is to outrun the neighborhood bully with your pantyhose bunching up on you and your bonnet flopping in the wind?

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TOM PURCELL: Thanks, North Korea, for the heads up

OPINION: The cyber attack on Sony may have awakened the American people

Americans are No. 1 at being indignant about a variety of perceived slights, but we’re not much good at understanding the real problems we face.

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TOM PURCELL: Praying for a white Christmas

OPINION: The merriment of Christmas was missing, then the snow began to fall

The snow gave us humility. Once humbled, the confinement that had agitated us on the drive to my aunt’s house had allowed a serenity we forgot was possible.

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TOM PURCELL: The downside to living alone

OPINION: The percentage of Americans living alone has grown from 5% to 27% in eight decades

Why are more people living alone? Because they want to. The more their economic means have allowed it, the more people have chosen to get their own digs. As someone who lives alone, I’m just not so sure this is a good thing.

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TOM PUCELL: A 2014 Gift of the Magi

After losing their penthouse and summer home in the economic collapse of 2008, a couple bemoan the inability to raise a few tens of thousands on Christmas physical enhancement surgeries.

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TOM PURCELL: The Charlie Brown Christmas miracle

OPINION: Almost rejected by CBS, A Charlie Brown Christmas is still a popular classic

The overt Christian theme, complete with the telling of the Christmas story from Luke, brings a simple message that has resonated with audiences for 50 years.

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TOM PURCELL: Hold your taters there, buddy

OPINION: For Thanksgiving, pass the civility

It’s bound to happen at Thanksgiving tables across America: A progressive liberal Democrat discovers he’s sitting next to a conservative Republican. There’s no need for mashed potatoes to fly.

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TOM PURCELL: Smokers become social pariahs

OPINION: Once fashionable, smoking is now seen as vile and ugly

I admit it: I feel sorry for cigarette and cigar smokers these days. But changing fashions and the results of the recent election may offer them hope, at least for those who prefer something other than tobacco.

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TOM PURCELL: Braving a hurricane for a fallen comrade

OPINION: Not even Hurricane Isabel could deter sentinels at the Tomb of the Unknowns

I”m confident America’s best is yet ahead. I believe this because virtue still lives in America. Honor, sacrifice and duty are still alive and well.

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TOM PURCELL: Trick-or-treating, '70s style

OPINION: Halloween was, above all, a candy quest

A well formulated plan and taking a casual attitude toward the deadline for wrapping up trick-or-treating contributed to the haul of goodies each year.

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TOM PURCELL: More private contractors needed

OPINION: The self-employed are humble and motivated to do good work

Being self-employed makes people intimately aware of the negative impact of government regulations and policies.

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TOM PURCELL: What women want -- column edition

OPINION: Grievance community launches full assault on Jeopardy

We are becoming masters at responding with indignation to matters that are small as we lose the ability to distinguish small matters from those that are truly large.

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TOM PURCELL: Obama learns of Pearl Harbor

OPINION: Imagining the Obama approach to World War II

Would America have gotten involved, or sit back to see how things would develop?

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TOM PURCELL: Hovering over college kids

OPINION: Semester starts with helicopter parents in full flight

Ironically, the parents who are hovering over their children now grew up two or three decades ago under parents who raised them in an opposite manner.

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TOM PURCELL: It's good to have to get things done

OPINION: Deadlines and pressure are stressful, but succeeding is uplifting

Robert Rector, a poverty researcher at The Heritage Foundation, says the census accurately reports there has been no improvement in self-sufficiency for the past 45 years — even though self-sufficiency was LBJ’s primary goal when he launched his war on poverty.

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TOM PURCELL: When telecommuniting doesn't actually 'work'

OPINION: Once there's a new federal program, it's only a matter of time before it's abused

The Commerce Department’s inspector general issued a report that found 19 paralegals within the Patent and Trademark Office were given so little government work to do that they “watched television, surfed the Internet, used Facebook, performed volunteer work for a charity, washed laundry, exercised at home, read books and magazines, shopped online or cleaned dishes.”

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TOM PURCELL: Lower expectations, live happier

OPINION: Low expectations may be the key to happiness

Research indicates that when your expectations are low, you are much more likely to exceed them, which will make you happy. Likewise, when your expectations are too high, they are less likely to be met, which will make you unhappy.

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TOM PURCELL: Let boys be boys this summer

OPINION: Summers a great time for boys to read The Dangerous Book for Boys

We have in our population too many males, now in their 20s or 30s, who were not permitted to be boys this way when they were lads.

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TOM PURCELL: Teens not working does not work for America

OPINION: The numbers of teens 16-19 with summer jobs has dropped 35 percentage points in 20 years

Work is good for teens. It exposes them to how industry works. It teaches them the value of a dollar. It gives them the dignity of exchanging their labor for money that they can use to support their education or maybe buy their first junker car. But most of all, teens who don’t work are missing out on some incredible growth experiences.

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TOM PURCELL: The right to paid vacation

OPINION: Should we make paid vacation mandatory?

It is true that the United States is the only advanced economy that does not require employers to provide paid vacation time.

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TOM PURCELL: Eddie made the Fourth of July a blast

OPINION: There was no better place to celebrate Independence Day than in Eddie Gabors backyard

Eddie threw his last Fourth of July party in 1993, five years after my grandmother died. He died the following winter. Our sadness at the loss of both hit hard the next Fourth of July when we could no longer gather at Eddie’s to celebrate.

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TOM PURCELL: Sentinels brave hurricane at Tomb of the Unknowns

OPINION: Ignoring a contingency plan, the Tomb guards kept watch in 2003

The sentinels are specially trained soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). They watch over the Tomb 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As each solitary guard paces before the Tomb, his movements are precise, his dress impeccable.

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TOM PURCELL: Home ownership is for the birds

OPINION: House is under assault from creatures surrounding the property

The fact of the matter is that owning a home in the country — heck, owning a home anywhere — can be a real hassle and a great expense. It is not for everyone.

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TOM PURCELL: Phone addiction not so smart

Get this: People are becoming addicted to their smartphones.

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TOM PURCELL: Longing for tax freedom

OPINION: Americans spend more on taxes than their food, clothing and housing combined

It takes about a third of Americans’ income to satisfy their collective tax bill, which doesn’t cover repaying the money that the federal government borrows each year.

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TOM PURCELL: Privacy? Surely you jest

OPINION: There is nowhere to hide in the digital age

Every website you visit, every online purchase you make, every email, text or online comment you make leaves an incredibly rich electronic trail that defines who you are and what you do.

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TOM PURCELL: Obama confesses

“Pope Francis, I have never been to Catholic confession before, but I have a few things I have to get off my chest.”

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TOM PURCELL: A plea from a dieting cookie addict

OPINION: Word is getting around in local Girl Scout circles that I am an easy sale

Who among us has the power to say no to any young girl raising money for charity who offers to sell us a legal product that’s so addictive?

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TOM PURCELL: It’s later than men might think

OPINION: Latest study findings a bummer for middle-age guys

Life was a lot cheerier for guys before the constraints of the male biological clock were known.

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TOM PURCELL: An elegy for the incandescent bulb

How many people does it take to turn off a light bulb for good? Find out at the end of this column.

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TOM PURCELL: Barack Obama channels Richard Nixon

OPINION: When your poll numbers are low, who are you gonna call?

When losing America’s trust, there’s no better expert for a president to consult than the spirit of Richard M. Nixon.

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TOM PURCELL: The key to keeping new year's resolutions

OPINION: Too often resolutions are made without any actual resolve

Leaders need to make some serious New Year’s resolutions to fix our country next year — resolutions that go well beyond partisan politics to get to the root cause or our problems, so they may fix them.

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TOM PURCELL: Looking forward this Christmas

OPINION: Christmastime can be somber with memories of people and things no longer here

Looking forward this Christmas, wishes are for good health, a nation that will come together, and money spent on the needy, not gifts.

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TOM PURCELL: Get back to the basics with Christmas toys

OPINION: The gift of imagination is too seldom given

Sticks, string and cardboardboxes can be transformed into hours of play with a little imagination.

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TOM PURCELL: There is a lot to be thankful for today

OPINION: The country is not doing so well, but there are reasons to be thankful this year

For so much of the year, we focus on what is wrong. Thanksgiving is the day to focus on what has been done right.

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TOM PURCELL: Bill Clinton perfect to be Americas first guy

OPINION: As spouse of the president, Bill Clinton would be open to all kinds of mischief

While Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office is worrisome, Bill Clinton would be great as America’s “first guy.”

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TOM PURCELL: Uh, what did they expect to happen?

OPINION: The Affordable Care Act was the most partisan bill to pass Congress in a century

The backlash against Obamacare continues and it is likely to get worse.

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TOM PURCELL: Veterans Day and quiet sacrifice

OPINION: Family at home know about the sacrifices of war, too

Veterans Day is also a time to pay homage to the families who support their soldiers and wait for their safe return.

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TOM PURCELL: Reality is scarier than Halloween costumes

Opinion Column: Satirizing American civilization, one costume at a time

'Game of Thrones' may be the ultimate choice for costumes designed to satirize U.S. civilization.

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PURCELL: Fidel Castro goes to confession

After celebrating his 87th birthday last week, semi-retired communist dictator Fidel Castro did something nobody expected him to do: He contacted Pope Francis to hear his confession.

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Why I Sometimes Long For The Cold War

Opinion column

I’ve been thinking about the sorry state of American culture, and that made me reminisce about the Cold War.

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