lastcallmarcoAccording to the MacArthur Foundation, by 2050 the world’s oceans will contain more plastic than fish — based on sheer tonnage. And it’s not just in the ocean: Recent reports have found microplastics in our bodies and the air we breathe. How did we get here? 

marcfIn these “modern” times, discerning the truth seems more challenging than ever. 

I analyzed why this appears to be the case and list the main facts that I believe contribute to this perception: 

DrRaymond LCoxI was in 10th grade when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Five years later, in 1968, I was in college when Dr. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated within two months of each other. I saw firsthand the profound unrest sweeping America as we grappled with the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and societal upheaval. 

But as a nation we were able to maintain the beliefs and values expressed so eloquently in our Constitution and Pledge of Allegiance. There was a sense that we would, eventually, find a way to accept everyone and to peacefully coexist.  

Feeling drained these days is easy. Despite a robust economy, we subliminally know there are bigger challenges that need solving and that we need to find the true American spirit again to focus our energy on positive outcomes. To this end, we asked our Last Call contributors to give us their personal takes on optimism.

There was a time when the California coast was full of sea life. 

In the 1950s, free-divers (divers not using oxygen tanks) collected generous amounts of huge lobsters off the state’s shores and routinely spear-fished big white sea bass in kelp forests. They also often caught less common blue water pelagic species such as deep Pacific wahoo, blue fin tunas larger than humans; broom-tail grouper weighing up to 207 pounds; hammerhead sharks; and black sea bass tipping the scales at more than 450 pounds. 

Not that long ago the answer was obvious. But today, with the advent of face recognition technology coupled with artificial intelligence, it’s not that clear anymore. 

Cameras can recognize our face, match it to an existing database, and then match all the personal data that has been collected about us (a lot more than we dare to admit). In the past we typically would only have given the Department of Motor Vehicles the permission to take a picture of our face in order to issue a driver’s license. But now any number of corporations will do the same without our permission in order to benefit from the data. 

marc frWe talk a lot about the value of education in the U.S. Every South Carolina governor’s commencement speech ever given contained a promise for better education, according to NPR.

But little is actually accomplished. And as a result, South Carolina still ranks 45th in the nation when it comes to education, according to the U.S. News & World Report.


The economy is doing well, unemployment is low, and yet I get the uncanny feeling that there is more tension in the air than I can remember since coming to America 40 years ago. A general feeling of unhappiness has creeped in, and it is starting to deteriorate one of our most important aptitudes: the ability to think positive.


Like the rest of the country, South Carolinians often disagree: on politics, on the environment, on education. But it seems we’re all on the same side when it comes to solar energy — and competition — being good for our state.

In May, in front of media, renewable-energy activists and solar-industry entrepreneurs, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster signed into law the Energy Freedom Act, a rare example of bipartisan cooperation.

im MacleodAt risk of ruffling some feathers, we need to look at income inequality in America.

Income distribution in America changed significantly after 2008’s Great Recession, leading to a decrease in the number of families who describe themselves as “middle class.” Consider these 2018 statistics about wealth distribution in the U.S.: the top 1 percent of all households earned 20 percent of the nation’s pre-tax income. The bottom 50 percent of households earned just 13 percent of the nation’s pre-tax income — down from 20 percent in 1979, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The 40 percent of households in the middle of the income distribution today earns less than 40 percent of the nation’s pre-tax income, down from 45 percent in 1979.