Florida’s New Welfare Law Disregards Simple Human Decency

For probably four thousand years, people have had to deal with addiction. Drug addiction and alcoholism are two of the most misunderstood issues in today’s society. And until the late 1930s people probably had good reason to believe those issues were of a moral nature. Then a man named William Wilson and his friend, Dr. Robert Silkworth, took a different view of the issue. Dr. Bob, as he was known, defined alcoholism, and by default addiction, as a medical issue and not a moral issue.

The start of both alcoholism and addiction is a matter of choice. But there is a marked difference between the alcoholic to be and others in taking their first drink. The alcoholic to be uses a drink as one would take aspirin for a headache, to him it is medication. The same is true for the addict to be. And this means that there is far more to this disease than meets the eye. It means that absent an historical view of the individual, it is easy to lay blame at the feet of the alcoholic or addict. But that is simply not the case.

Alcoholics and addicts share common traits: past traumas, untreated psychological issues, and sometimes other medical issues. Taking the last first, it is not uncommon for a person who is prescribed one of the opioid medications to become addicted through long-term use. This means that once the physical necessity has passed a psychological necessity kicks in. Where a well-grounded person will overcome this short-term addiction, the psychologically damaged person will not even try. Or if he does try, will give into temptation.

One of the most common expressions in use in our society today is: “After that, I need a drink!” Or, “If you had to put up with that, you’d need a drink too.” The simple fact is, there has never lived the person who truly “needed a drink.” What such people are seeking is an escape. Most of those people will not become alcoholics but some will. But our society does not challenge the idea of a drink of alcohol as ever being a necessity.

For the most part, alcoholism and drug addiction starts at a young age. In meetings of alcoholics anonymous the story of getting drunk in the early teen years is quite common. But even though nationally the drinking age is 21, underage drinking is not only common but accepted. That being true, the fault lies in our society’s mores. With society allowing teens to have parties with alcohol, they are not considering that the use of drugs in such parties becomes quite possible. It is well-known that alcohol and drug addiction usually starts at a young age. This means as a society, we can do something about it by become vigilant and not turning our heads to underage drinking.

Medical research has shown that the brain is not fully formed in females until about their 21st birthday and for males it is even later. Research at the University of Rochester suggests that full development for everyone is about the 25th year. (https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=3051)

It is also well documented that the use of alcohol and drugs retards the growth of the brain as-well-as a person’s psychological growth. Sadly, the incident of alcoholism and drug addiction by age 25 is extremely high relative to other age groups after the 25th year. But this same research has shown that the person who becomes the alcoholic or addict has his ability to choose against drinking or drugging taken away. Alcohol and drug use has gone from choice to necessity. This, by definition, puts it into the category of a medical disease.

This all brings me to the law the state of Florida just passed requiring drug screening of welfare applicants. If a person tests positive for a banned substance, they are denied access to welfare. The problem with this approach is that is simply exacerbates the situation. It seems the rationale behind such a law is to curb the use of illegal drugs by welfare applicants. But that of course ignores the fact that these are sick people who need to get well and not bad people who need to become good.

It is time we all become “our brother’s keeper.” I mean that in the sense that we as a society must become responsible for all those suffering from alcoholism, drug addiction and all forms of mental disease and disorder. A disease of the mind is difficult to both understand and treat but it is none the less a disease just as getting the flu, cancer, or malaria is. We do not stigmatize, for the most part, people who contract diseases in the rest of the body, why must we continue to stigmatize those with diseases centered in the brain?


Ten of the Nicest Small Cities in America

I have not been to every small city in America nor am I any sort of a travel guru.  However, I have been to a lot of small cities having been in 44 of our 5o states.  The following is an entirely subject view of what I believe to  be 10 American cities that should be on anyone’s list of must see destinations.  I do not  believe that any of these cities exceeds a million people in population.  Some, however, do exist in extended areas of over one million.  Excepting the first entry, they are in no particular order.

1.  Savannah Georgia — I consider Savannah to be the nicest small city in all of America.  When you drive into Savannah you cannot help but notice the Spanish moss hanging from the trees.  Although this is not unique to Savannah, when coupled with the beautiful old homes and parks of the city, it may be singular in that respect.  The downtown portion of Savannah can be walked, entirely, in about 15 minutes.  It is only about two blocks wide by 8 or 9 long, and sits next to its large port facility.  Just outside of the commercial portion of Savannah sits most of its stately homes which have frequently shown up in Hollywood movies, “Forest Gump” and “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” were each shot there.  Renown for its friendliness, Savannah is a delight to all who visit there.  If there is not other small city in America that you make a must see, make this the one you do see.

2.  Portland Oregon — Portland sits on the Columbia River when it makes a sharp turn northward on its journey to the sea.  It is a very modern and very clean city that is steeped in the logging history of the northwest.  You drive 5 minutes from downtown Portland in any direction and find yourself in the gorgeous Oregon countryside.

3.  Oklahoma City Oklahoma — Oklahoma City is a sprawling small city.  If for no other reason you have to visit OKC for the food.  There are many many restaurants that serve either Mexican food or steaks that would put to shame similar restaurants in just about any other city in America.  It is also the home to the cowboy museum, a place where the old west is put on display and its history explained.  If you happen to go there during the summer, OKC has its own minor league baseball team which plays in a beautiful little stadium referred to as “the Brickyard.”

4.  Honolulu Hawai’i — This seems like a no-brainer right?  Waikiki is incomparable to its beauty and shops.  Waikiki boasts a large number of high-end stores that those of us of modest means can peer into.  But it is also rich in cultural history.  The Queen Iolani Palace, the cultural center, and even the pineapple field tours speak to its rich and long history.  Of course, there is also the Pearl Harbor memorial, an emotionally moving place to reflect on the tragedy of World War 2 as you stand a few feet above the sunken hulk of the USS Arizona.

5.  Sacramento California — Sacramento, like Oklahoma City, is a sprawling city that sits at the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers.  While the city itself is slightly over 100 square miles in size, the downtown portion is just a little over one square mile.  The capitol building and surrounding grounds may be the most beautiful of any of the 50 states.  The is also a portion, just a short distance from downtown, know as “old town.”  Old Town sits on the bank of the Sacramento River and is the oldest portion of Sacramento.  The building of this area are maintained to reflect an old west flavor.  Also here is the California Railroad Museum.

6.  Nashville Tennessee —  This, like Honolulu, seems like a no-brainer.  How can anyone not like the home of the Grand Old Opry.  Though rich in country music history, the city also boasts a lively blues music venue which has to be enjoyed.  But Nashville is more than just that offering a good selection of restaurants that serve a variety of southern cuisine, ribs, catfish, and grits have got to be tried here.

7.  St. Augustine Florida — St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States.  It Spanish heritage can still be found in its architecture and food.  It also has long stretches of beautiful beaches that are not congested with the crowds of Floridas more southern cities, and yet rival them in beauty.

8.  Santa Fe New Mexico — Santa Fe is a beautiful combination of Mexican adobe architecture and native American culture.  The city sits in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains amidst the scrub pine.  It is a quaint small city of just under 70,000 people where you can lose yourself in its tranquility and beauty.

9.  Salt Lake City Utah — Salt Lake City sits snugly between the towering Rocky Mountains to the east and the Great Salt Lake to the west.  Founded by the Mormons in the 19th Century, located in its northern portion is the huge Mormon Temple, a beautiful cathedral-like structure that is central to the religion.  During the late spring the city has a stunning vista of the still snow-capped Rockies.

10.  Burlington Vermont — The largest city in Vermont at about 43,000 people, Burlington sits on the shores of the gorgeous Lake Champlain.  The city is the center of commerce for what is called Vermont’s “Northern Kingdom.”  Its downtown area has a large collection of quaint shops and small comfortable restaurants.  The lakeside portion of the city boasts a nice combination of boat rentals and tour boats.

I also want to offer ten other cities, without comment, that I consider worthy of visiting.  1.  Portland Maine, 2. Louisville Kentucky, 3. Charleston South Carolina, 4. Bar Harbor Maine, 5. Gettysburg Pennsylvania, 6. Laramie Wyoming, 7. Richmond Virginia, 8. Napa California, 9. Lake Tahoe Nevada, 10. Provincetown Massachusetts.