An Education Second to None


My birth family what is referred to as land poor. We had a big house surrounded by a number of acres of both open fields and wooded areas. My family ancestry shows we were the second family to settle Andover, Massachusetts, which today is call North Andover after an 1855 split. For the most part we were farmers, sometimes minutemen, then factory owner and by the 20th century men who commuted to Boston to work.

 

My mother and father met by an arrangement between friends and it was probably love at first sight for both of them. Unfortunately, I never asked that question, but I know my mother adored my father and my father deeply loved her. I thought I had the most perfect parents any kid could want. It never occurred to me that relative to everyone else who lived in our neighborhood, we were quite poor. Each of my parents worked hard and my sister, brother and I were well taken care of. That gave us the illusion that all was well. And in general, it was, but I now know that my parents struggled mightily to keep things together.
I found out when I asked my parents for my first bicycle that the ability to afford things was rather restrictive. The bike they found cost $10, a large sum in the later 1950s. It was well-used, but I managed to get many many miles out of it before it literally fell apart.
I believe I was about six years old when a neighbor kid asked me if I wanted to make 25 cents shoveling snow. Now in those days, in my mind, 25 cents translated into 5 candy bars. My parents could not afford to give any of us an allowance, so I was introduced to getting what I wanted via work. Much of this early work was what I was already doing around my house, taking out the trash, shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, and raking leaves. In those days we could burn a pile of leaves alongside the road. In the country-side one of the harbingers of fall was the smell of burning leaves in the air. It was everywhere and something I miss.
The lady for whom I shoveled snow I offered my services of mowing her lawn which she accepted along with taking care of her flowers. My business spread to other people in the neighborhood and I always had money in my pocket at lease briefly. My weakness for chocolate what as great then as it is now and I saw no reason to resist. But I bought other things with my money, a wallet, a pair of boots, a speedometer for my bike and other things.
When I turned 12 I was old enough to work a paper route for the Lawrence Eagle Tribune. My first route was rather lengthy, but I learned a lot. When it came time, each Thursday, to collect from each person the tidy sum of 42 cents for a week’s worth of newspapers. They were 7 cent a day, six days a week. The blue-collar and middle-class people would always give me 50 cents, an 8-cent tip, which I always appreciated. But the wealthy people always waited for their change with the exception of one man, Sam Rockwell, who was a wealthy Boston banker and as kind a person a you could know.
At age 14 and 15 I work on a vegetable farm about a mile from my house. For my 8 hours labor in the hot fields, I received the tidy sum of 3 dollars a day or 15 dollars a week that first summer. The next summer I got a raise to 5 dollars a day. Farms were then, and I expect now, exempt from paying minimum wage which at the time was $1.25 an hour. The farm was run by two Italian brothers and the fields were always filled with their parents and grandparents. I know at least one woman was in her 80s, and because she was widowed, she dressed completely in black every day regardless of how hot it got, and you never heard a single complaint. There were a number of these older women who were dressed in black. It was very hard labor, very demanding, and I got another lesson in work that I feel proud about.
When I turned 16 I knew I could find a job that paid better than the farm. As good fortune had it, there was a man who lived a very short distance from my house. This man I knew owned a mill in Lawrence. I had no idea what was made in the mill, but I went to his house and rang his bell. He answered the door and I introduced myself and told him what I was looking for. A 16-year-old does not recognize when he is properly impressing someone with his industry. Mr. Segal did not even give it a moment’s thought. He simply told me to show up at the mill office and there would be a job waiting for me. I had no idea that this job, though it lacked excitement, would give me a life lesson that I carry in my heart to this day. Mr. Segal’s mill was named Service Heel Company. His factor produced women’s shoe heels which when finished were shipped off to another company, actually several of them, who would use the heels we made to finish their shoes.
The mill was what used to be referred to as a sweat shop. That simply meant, people worked in a place that was hot and un-airconditioned in the summer and cold and poorly heated in the winter. The mill building itself, originally the George Kunhardt Mill, was built around 1890 and was part of the giant woolen industry in Lawrence. I would like to say that the people who I worked with ran the entire spectrum of a community but in truth it had one small sliver. Most of the people employed their had an 8th grade education, if that, and had worked the same job, in exactly the same location for 30 years or more. I know that for fact because I asked that question of several people there.
The thing with these people, almost without exception, is they were what was called “the salt of the earth.” If you worked there you were one of them and no one person was any better than another person.
I was a “floor boy” which meant I dragged boxes of unfinished heels to various stations where work was done on them. It being a union shop, I could work there for only 90 days without joining the union which was more than enough for me because it was only a summer job. Also, I was getting my $1.25 hourly wage which grossed me $50 a week, the most money I had ever earn. Those were the days that you had a time card which you had to punch in and out as you went. If you were one minute late you were docked 5 minutes of pay. That happened to me but a single time but that was enough for me to appreciate the idea of being somewhere on time.
The floor supervisor was a big man named Tony who had now problem rolling out his prejudices. Probably during my first week he took me to the rear of the shop and point out the window to the mill next to us. He said, “that’s where the spics work” and told me I had better not associate with them. In the early 1960s Lawrence already had a sizeable Puerto Rican community which some people like Tony could not tolerate for reason that make no sense. Ironically, I found none of that with the people who worked the stations in the shop. They were kind and very helpful. I got absolutely no training upon my arrival there and of course was quite lost with how to find what was needs and how to tell where I should be taking these boxes. It was the people who needed the boxes who train me of where to find things and how to get them to where they needed to be. They also made me aware that occasionally time sensitive heels would come through and I needed to be on the look out for them and drag the as soon as I saw them to the proper station. By the way, I actually had a metal rod with a hook on the end to drag these boxes around.
One of the stations was in a second building separated by a hallway and a large steel door. This was the paint shop where certain heels were spray painted. OSHA did not exist at that time and the man who worked the shop, alone, only had a face mask to protect him from the paint fumes. He did not have the oxygen mask that would be used today. I don’t know what, if anything, ever happened to him but considering the noxious fumes he inhaled, it is difficult to believe he was not damaged in some manner. But such were the mills back then.
I really do not remember the names of the people who worked there, some were but a few years older than me and others were easily old enough to be my grandparents. But to a person they were not but kind and considerate of me. I never heard them complain about anything. There was a level of respect between employees that was exemplary. I learned the life lesson of not judging people by their station in life. Rather look at the character of the person and you will know who you are dealing with. These people were of the best character.
The next summer I got a job at Raytheon Company in Shawsheen, MA, a part of Andover MA. I believe my basic title was clerk. I worked on the 9th floor of a 10-story building where there built radar systems to the US Army. I did not have a security clearance which occasionally got in the way of my job. The floor I worked on was concerned with completed radar components being properly finished and tested. It was the quality assurance section.
The job site, as opposed to the previous one, did employ a large spectrum of people. But there was something amiss with this group. There was lots of prejudice and angst between the various groups. People who worked in the metal shops and fabrication shops were looked down upon by those in the engineering department of which I was a part. Worse, this shop was also a union shop which had recently gone on strike. A number of men crossed the lines and of course became “scabs.” I had the bad manners to sit down and each lunch with one of the scabs and was told if I did that again I would be treated as he was, poorly. I hated that because I have never thought ostracizing anyone served any useful purpose.
I encounter one other type of prejudice quite unexpectedly. There was a young lady who I worked with, we both worked out of the same office but had different jobs but were otherwise equals. I found I that I was making 5-cents more than she because of my gender. I knew even than that that was wrong. I remember thinking that she had told me things about herself the left me believing that if anyone should be make more money it was her. It had to do with her background, but I do not remember exactly what.
I was glad to leave that job at the end of the summer. They offered me a full-time position with the added incentive of paying for my college education which I was starting that September. I turned down their offer, it was not a place I wanted to work.
And so there you have the first 18 years of my life and the informal, though extremely useful, education I received along the way. If you consider that I started work at the age of 6, I worked continuously for 52 years before I retired. I learned new things each of those 52 years but the best education I received were those years for age 6 to 18. They served me well and I am grateful for every person along the way who took a moment to show me something that was useful. God bless them all.

 

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The True Opioid and Alcohol Crisis


Our country has taken to heart the “opioid crisis” as it should. But there is nothing new about this crisis as it has been around for at least 100 years. What they are really saying, but won’t, is that the prescription opioid has gotten out of control. People are prescribed an opioid based medication for pain relief and soon find themselves addicted. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control there are approximately 11,000 opioid deaths per year. The notion here is that either doctors are over-prescribing opioid-based medications or that the addict is easily finding the same medications on the street.
But the real addiction crisis in America is alcoholism. According to the CDC approximately 88,000 people die annually from alcoholism. That’s an 8:1 ratio making alcoholism something greater than a crisis if we are going to apply that apelet to opioids. But I have heard nothing on the news or elsewhere that this crisis is getting much attention.

 
The problems with treating either addiction starts with the insurance companies. Most, if not all, insurance carriers provide very little assistance in this area. What they are willing to give is a 2-week in-patient treatment followed by out-patient treatment. There is one very simple problem to this approach. The alcoholic and the addict each need at least a 90-day in-patient program to stabilize them. And even that may not be enough as relapse among even those who have been in a 90-day program is high. Both the alcoholic and the addict tend to need long-term treatment, the length dependent entirely upon the individual.

 
The underlying issue for most, if not all, alcoholics and addicts, is unresolved serious issues earlier in their lives which leave them feeling “less than,” suffering from depression and/or a myriad of other psychiatric issues. But the way the insurance industry followed by the medical community, is to treat the symptom without even evaluating the patient for the real underlying issues.
I was recently hospitalized for a possible heart issue. I had a heart attack 20-years ago and am always considered an at-risk person. While in one of great Boston’s excellent hospitals, I struck up a conversation with the man in the other bed in my room. As it turned out he was an alcoholic. One of the consequences of untreated alcoholism is liver failure. As the liver fails fluid collects in the abdomen causing it to bulge. I found out that this man had had 3.5 liters of fluid removed but still had at least another 10 liters needing removal. He was given the medication Ativan because he was detoxing and without that medication he was likely to experience the delirium tremens, DTs, of withdrawal.

 
For reasons I could not be privy to, the hospital was only treating his liver issue, the fluid. Although he had a good insurance plan, the hospital, a fairly large one, did not have a detox facility and no program to treat an alcoholic on an in-patient basis. This brings us back to the money issue, insurance. Hospitals cannot survive giving the addict and alcoholic the treatment they desperately need and not get paid for it by the insurance companies.

 
The National Institute of Health estimates that there are more than 15 million alcoholics in the U.S. today. That comes to about 5% of the entire U.S. population. Other studies have suggested that upwards to 10% of the population suffers from alcoholism. Most, unfortunately, are untreated. And there is the crisis. What I said about alcoholism equally applies to addiction, be it medical based opioids or street drugs.
Right now the number of facilities that are prepared to properly treat the alcoholic or addict is low. The alcoholic or addict who applies to get into one of these facilities is usually greeted by the statement that there is no bed available. At that point the alcoholic gives up and goes back to drinking.

 
I suspect that in the era of modern medicine, there has never been a concerted effort to treat alcoholics and addicts. These people who suffer from an identified medical, and frequently a psychiatric, illness fall victim to the insurance industry which simply is not interested in dealing with alcoholics and addicts. The irony in all this is that the insurance companies end up paying for alcohol and drug induced ailments over long periods of time which is always very costly. These costs are easily reduced by proper treatment of alcoholics and addicts. The question is: when are the insurance companies going to come to this realization and when is the medical community going to start pushing back at the insurance companies to compel them to act in a more responsible manner?

It’s Time to Bring the MBTA Into the 21st Century


The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) (the T) is broken, but no one at the state house, governor, senate, house, cares to address the real problems the T has. At present, the governor and the T are both hailing the arrival of new Red Line and Orange Line cars. But this is little more than a PR stunt meant to divert the public’s attention away from the MBTA’s more pressing issues. The T did need to replace the Orange and Red Line cars but it also has issues that will leave customers sitting disgruntled on these new cars.
Much of the T’s rapid transit system needs to have its signaling replaced. At present the T is only replacing that equipment after a catastrophic failure which gains the public’s ire. This band-aide approach only puts the entire signaling system into a sort of whack-a-mole status. A properly running signaling system is not just an operational issue, it is a safety issue as well.
A transportation system is only as good as its ability to handle the heaviest of rush hours. At this, the MBTA fails on all fronts, rapid transit, bus, and commuter rail. The MBTA is wont to restructure the bus routes for fear of angering the public. I suggest, however, that a phased restructuring would alleviate most of that concern. The Route 39 bus is an example of one problem. The T’s schedule for this route guarantees 8-minute or less headway. But ask anyone who uses this route and the reality is far different. One of the biggest problems is that the busses cluster along the route with one bus directly behind another which will be followed by a 15-minute wait for the next bus. Such occurrences happen on most of the T’s most heavily used routes.
Many of the T’s bus routes are the remnants of the Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway which it took over in 1968. These routes performed well under the old Eastern Mass but have languished under the T. The route runs through heavily populated portions of Woburn, Winchester and Medford. The schedule, however, shows a less than desirable frequency. This route is also an example of the MBTA’s penchant for being reactive than proactive. Their claim is that as demand climbs so will the level of service. But demand will not climb if the route’s frequency is viewed as less than optimal by the public. This mean, to attract more customers the T needs to increase service first. Ironically, this is the only route assigned to both Woburn and Winchester. It would seem that a second route through these towns which ends at Harvard Square would make a lot of sense.
Another issue with the rapid transit system is portions of it cannot handle rush hour traffic effectively. Anyone who has ever ridden on the Green and Red Lines knows how mind numbingly slow these lines can be. The issue with the Green Line is that of four lines, B, C, D, and E feeding into one tunnel. That singular tunnel is a choke point. It is nearly at capacity during off-peak hours which means it is far over capacity during rush hours. The only reasonable solution here is the building of a second tunnel parallel to the first from Kenmore Square to Government Center. This solution is extremely expensive but is the only reasonable one.  Additionally, many routes needs to be extended.  The 85 route is an excellent example.  At present it runs from Kendall Square Cambridge to Spring Hill in Somerville.  This route would serve the public much better if it started at Lechmere, continued through Kendall Square and Spring Hill to Davis Square Somerville, less than a half mile from Spring Hill.
Finally, the best way to lure commuters out of their cars which now clog the Southeast Expressway, the Mass Pike, Route 93 and Route 1 into Boston is to increase the frequency of the trains, add stations a certain key points and run multiple express trains during rush hour. First, the MBTA would need to construct stations everywhere a commuter rail line passes under either an Interstate Highway or Route 1 and then offering express trains into Boston. Additionally, the T needs to totally rewrite its commuter rail schedules discarding the idea that it must stop at every station on every route during off-peak hours. For example, on the Haverhill line there are four station stops within a 2-mile stretch, Wyoming, Melrose, Melrose Highlands and Greenwood. Two other problems with this route are that it runs too few trains between Boston and Reading, and, that it is still single tracked between Reading and Wilmington Jct. which creates scheduling issues. Additionally, many, if not most, commuter rail stations lack sufficient parking for the potential demand. For example, Andover, a heavily used station, has only 150 parking spaces. Reading, also heavily used, with great potential, has only 71 parking spaces. If the MBTA truly wants to get people out of their cars and onto the T then they must have a place for people to park their car.
As it stands now, the MBTA is a less desirable mode of transportation for the Metropolitan Boston area and beyond than the car. The solutions I have suggested above would cost many billions of dollars but that would be funds well-spent. The MBTA must become a far more attractive system than it is now, which is actually a very unattractive system. Massachusetts politicians must come to grips with the idea that the rapid deterioration of our state’s roadways is in no small part due the almost constant heavy traffic they must contend with. But if the cost of maintaining our roadways at present is compared to the suggested upgrade of the MBTA, it then becomes quite easy to justify the outlay of huge sums of money to modernize the MBTA.

Colleges in Crisis: Who Is Responsible?


I read the Sunday Boston Globe (April 1, 2018) today and there was a front-page article regarding the declining enrollment of many Boston area colleges. Without going into the specifics of the article, it centered around the declining enrollment of these colleges, one had lost 90% of its students over the past decade. How did this happen?
I am part of the baby boomer generation who filled college classrooms everywhere to capacity and beyond. Many colleges were founded during that era. But since the 1980s, college enrollment had been declining. The only colleges immune from this have been the Ivy League colleges and other top tier colleges such as M.I.T., Cal Tech, Carnegie Mellon and some small but very highly regarded colleges such as Amherst, Wellesley, and Bowdoin. And because of this, you see colleges who used to have a full enrollment advertising on television in an attempt to attract students. In my area it has been the Massachusetts state schools.
Certain colleges, smartly, have seen the writing on the wall and have combined with other colleges. The fact is, not only do we have fewer students desiring to go to college, but we also have fewer students who belong in college.
Another problem is students are graduating with degrees for which there are very few openings. I recently ran across a young woman who had a degree in Fine Arts from a very good college but had been unable to find a job in that field. She had resorted to being hired by the Audubon Society and giving yoga lessons. But her cumulative pay is far below what someone with her level of education in another field could expect to get. So where does this problem begin?  It begins with high school students not getting sufficient advice on their future prospects.  It continues with student enrolled in fields which see 5000 graduates a year who are competing for 50 jobs.
I put this on the high schools of the United States. I tell people all the time to chase the passion. My qualification to that is, make sure it is a vocation that both has room for you and from which you can expect an income commensurate with having a college degree.
In my case I got a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science with a minor in business. Eventually I got a Master’s of Art degree which looked great of my resume but which in fact I never used. Both fields were then, and are still now, in high demand. It is my belief that every high school guidance counsellor should have in his possession a chart detailing both the demand for any degree desired and the pay a person can expect to start.
Colleges need to reconsider their viability going forward and the sorts of degree programs they offer. They also need to offer counselling services to advise students on their ability to afford the college. Too many students find themselves living hand-to-mouth each semester as they scramble to find the funds to pay for tuition, housing and basic needs. Many fail.
The United States Federal Government in recent years has seen fit to reduce the amount of funding available to college students. Because of this, students are forced to find funding from private financial institutions who change high interest rates and demand the student start paying on the loan shortly after he receives it. This means a student must find employment to cover that debt. This, of course, impacts the student’s ability to focus on his studies.
The answer to all these questions is quite easy in each case. Than manner in which they are resolved, however, is complex and requires a level of effort from our educators and elected officials to find answers.

Who Will Write Planet Earth’s Obituary?


This morning I told my wife our next car will be a hybrid. Knowing me, you would have thought I would have gone that route much earlier. The trouble is my gender. I’m a guy and you know how we like our cars to have a big engine. Well, two years ago, when I went to buy a new Ford Fusion, I asked for their V-6, previously the most powerful engine they offered for such cars. The salesman informed me that Ford no longer had a V-6 version and sold me on a turbo charged 4-cylinder engine. It got only slightly better gas mileage than my previous car and allow me to believe that I had the best engine available.  I have altered my thinking.  I am an excellent recycler but have not taken other issues to heart as I need.
I am a baby boomer which means I was raised in the era of muscle cars and cars we derisively, even then, called tanks. Most often we were referring to the big Buicks and Cadillacs. You need only go back to the 1960s and 70s to see the truth of such a statement. Then in 1974 OPEC came in to being, the U.S. immediately had a gasoline crisis and suddenly car manufacturers were shedding those tanks for smaller cars. But if you look more closely at such cars they were only marginally more fuel efficient than their predecessors.  The requirement for better fuel efficiency was years away although new strict emission standards were put into effect.
But as the years passed, people forgot their history, and the era of the SUV entered. I named the Japanese versions of the crossover SUVs, the Acura MDX, the Infiniti QX70, and the Lexus RX as “a penis on wheels.” SUVs have exploded in the U.S. and both Japanese and U.S. manufacturers have done well with such vehicles. The problem is simple. Most SUVs are in the truck category which makes them exempt for two federal regulations, emission standards for automobiles and fuel standards. Detroit and Tokyo found the loophole and exploited it. Nothing has been done to close this loophole. And the most baffling product to come out of Detroit was General Motors version of the military HUM-V which the dubbed the Hummer.
This brings me the latest issue to rear its ugly head. The United States has the largest coal reserves on the planet and Pres. Donald Trump wants coal to be king again. In the short term, probably very short term, this would breath economic life back into the coal regions of the United States. But the trade-off is painfully obvious. Coal fired plants push extremely large amounts of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. The former creates a warming blanket in the earth upper atmosphere while the latter creates acid rain.

A very recent University of New Hampshire study of sea levels expects there to be a 1 to 1.5-foot rise in sea levels by 2050 (Boston Globe, March 31, 2018, p. 4). Another study of the polar ice caps, and in particular the North Pole:

“The Arctic climate is changing rapidly, breaking at least a dozen major records in the past three years. Sea ice is disappearing, air temperatures are soaring, permafrost is thawing and glaciers are melting. The swift warming is altering the jet stream and polar vortex, prolonging heat waves, droughts, deep freezes and heavy rains worldwide.” (Francis, Jennifer A.; Scientific American, April 2018, p. 50)

I find it alarming the American conservatives are so caught up in their political ideology that they cannot listen to the well-reasoned and heavily researched conclusions of the highly respected scientist who have sounded the alarm. Many have labeled these findings as pseudo-science and that their findings are questionable. Such a statement is difficult, if not impossible, to defend given the overwhelming majority of scientists around the world agree with these findings.
The hard fact is that we are bequeathing our children and grandchildren a planet in its death throws. We could easily be looking at widespread famine, large new deserts, and a world in which people go to war over food and water.
In 1960 a woman named Rachel Carson published a book named Silent Spring in which she predicted everything that is happening today. Now, scientists everywhere are sounding the alarm. The question is an easy one: Why is the Congress of the United States deaf to these warnings?

 

Why Has The Catholic Church Deserted Me And Millions of Others?


The Roman Catholic Church has to change, particularly in America. It needs to allow women to become priests and it needs to allow priests to marry. Up until 1139 priests were allowed to marry. The idea behind it was to separate priests from a sinful world. The hypocrisy there was that priests were, and still are, sinful themselves. They are human, they screw up, the have to go to confession. At the time it was meant to insure the morality of the priesthood.
That worked up until the mid-20th Century when those men entering the priesthood declined. And the decline continues. There are places in America where churches have no priest permanently assigned, the duties being taken over by a deacon or by a priest who travels from one parish to another.
The American Catholic Church is so arrogant that when Poland offered to send priests to cover parishes in American they were declined! Maybe they were embarrassed that the word would get out that most Sunday masses in America are only lightly attended.
This brings me to my issue with the Church. I am a divorced Catholic and have been so since 1988. Because I am now remarried I cannot receive communion, central to the Catholic service. Curiously, I have been told by more than one priest that were I to stand in front of him to receive communion, and he knowing I was divorced and remarried, he would not deny me. I mention that because there appears to be a large group of priests who believe the prohibition is ridiculous.
There is a remedy according to Rome. A divorced Catholic must petition the Pope to have his marriage annulled. Now understand, an annulment, according to Catholicism, means no marriage occurred in the first place. I have three beautiful children by my first wife. I refuse to insult them, or my former wife, by getting an annulment. But I want my church back.
I firmly believe that were Jesus to come back just to visit the Pope and his college of cardinals, he would have some very harsh words for them. I think they need to read that part of the Bible which speaks of the shepherd who leaves 99 sheep in search of the mission one.

Have Americans Lost Control of Their Government?


The current state of our government and, in particular, the chasm that exists between Republicans and Democrats, seems like a child’s food fight rather that an ongoing adult conversation. Each side is doing what is called, “right fighting.” That is, each side is so convinced that it is right that the art of compromise seems to have gone out the window. An old cliché says that a fish stinks from its head down. Our government right now is exemplifying that more than ever.

Our government was via the Constitution set up with three branches, none of which was supposed to have more power than the other. But our present Congress is so fearful of doing the next right thing, and its job, has abdicated in favor of the Executive Branch. Article 2 of our Constitutes delineates the powers granted the President. What amazes me the most is that Article 2 section 3 clearly states that the President “. . . from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient . . . “ The framers of the Constitution left many parts of it vague as they judged that with the passage of time necessary changes to the Constitution or different interpretations of It would be necessary. But it is my opinion the Article 2 Section 3 is rather clear in its intention; that being that changes to law and policy may be suggested by the President and that Congress would then act upon them. The Constitution is also repeatedly clear that a 2/3rds vote should be the standard for passing any legislation.

Over the years, however, Congress has made changes to what is necessary for certain measures and that being a simple majority favor the law.

Most recently, President Trump made the unilateral decision to scale back some remote (Utah) national monuments at the behest of industry. He has also charged his Interior Secretary to find other locations to which he can to the same. The idea of National Parks and National Monuments was the idea of President Theodore Roosevelt when he created Arcadia National Park and Yosemite National Park. “The Antiquities Act is the first law to establish that archeological sites on public lands are important public resources. It obligates federal agencies that manage the public lands to preserve for present and future generations the historic, scientific, commemorative, and cultural values of the archaeological and historic sites and structures on these lands. It also authorizes the President to protect landmarks, structures, and objects of historic or scientific interest by designating them as National Monuments.” (Public Broadcasting Service, https://www.nps.gov/subjects/legal/american-antiquities-act-of-1906.htm). The law is quite specific in saying that the President is obligated to preserve “objects of historic and scientific interest. Pres. Trump has chosen to ignore this law and turn over these precious lands to commercial interests, destroying artifacts that favor the public interest and the scientific community.

The Constitution, and all its framers in their writings, made very clear that the first job of the Federal Government is to act in the best interest of the people. But for decades now our Congresses and Presidents have only too frequently done the bidding of powerful interests and PACs. It would be only too easy to show how the Republicans Party over the past 6 years or so has worked mostly in a self-serving manner. But that would less than truthful. The fact remains that the Democrats are equally responsible in bending to the will of powerful and well-monied interests instead of the people. The Democrats have not had control of Congress for many years now and the Republicans have been able to run rough-shod over them by passing bills that make a simple majority vote the rule of Congress. No Democrat has been able to find the inner fortitude to challenge such bills in front of the US Supreme Judicial court.

Time-and-again the Republican Congress has passed bills which are clearly unpopular with the people of the United States. The most visible action at present has been their persistent attempts to gut and eliminate the Affordable Care Act. Their most recent move has been to tied changes to the ACA to the government funding bill now in Congress. Such actions are referred to “rider bills.” It is the blatant attempt to circumvent the proper way to have a bill passed, a “clean bill.” That refers to a bill which has no riders and is voted up or down on its own merits.

Both parties in Congress are not doing the “right thing” but rather doing the most self-serving thing. That has never more true when Senator Mitch McConnell declared that he would not allow then President Obama to seat a new Supreme Court justice when Justice Scalia unexpectedly died two years ago. Not only was that self-serving but it went entirely against the spirit of our Constitution and the manner in which all justices have been confirmed since 1789. Such actions must stop. This means that U.S. Citizens, regardless of political favor, must make Congress accountable for its actions.

A majority of U.S. citizens of both parties has said they do not trust congress to do the right thing. There is an easy solution to that; stop re-electing your representatives and senators.

There is an old saying, “nothing changes if nothing changes.”