Forum, March 6: Co-op Food Stores board seeks input on plastic bags

Tuesday, March 05, 2019
Co-op Food Stores board seeks input on plastic bags

A debate is underway in the Upper Valley and the country at large over the appropriate use of plastic items, including plastic shopping bags. Some community members have expressed a desire for the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society (the Co-op) to stop making plastic bags available to Co-op shoppers at checkout. The board of directors is studying this topic and would like to invite Co-op members and non-member shoppers to provide feedback on the issue. You can share your preferences by completing the board’s survey, available at www.coopfoodstore.coop (click on “Survey” at the top right of the webpage). Paper copies of the survey are also available at the customer service desk at the Co-op food stores in Hanover, Lebanon and White River Junction. The survey is open until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

The board thanks everyone who has taken the time to respond so far, and looks forward to studying the results of the survey.



The writer is a Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society board member.

Catholic Church should ordain women, allow priests to marry

As the parent of a child who, at the age of 13, was sexually molested by a Roman Catholic priest, I took a particular interest in the recent Vatican Summit on Child Protection. It appears that the issue the summit addressed, sexual molestation, is systemic and has been a part of the culture of the institution for a century, possibly many centuries.

The most effective action that could be taken would be to allow priests to marry and to ordain women. No organized Christian church is entirely guiltless regarding this issue, however none has witnessed nor condoned such egregious behavior as has the Roman Catholic Church. While embracing a beautiful faith, it has become corrupted, an institution dominated by single males.



Data shows marijuana danger

It’s no surprise that the temporary mental health facility in Middlesex, Vt., is failing. Vermont has the highest per-capita mental health burden in the country; its entire mental health system is stretched beyond its means. Vermont also has the second-highest rate of marijuana use in the country, and these statistics are connected.

As former New York Times journalist Alex Berenson describes in his new book, Tell Your Children, dozens of studies over three decades in Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and elsewhere have shown that marijuana use can cause psychosis and schizophrenia in some users.

Marijuana lobbyists have tried to discredit these findings and Berenson’s book, but the science is solid. Even U.S. researchers agree. In the Chapter Highlights of its 2017 report on cannabis, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine stated, “Cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use the greater the risk.” A new meta-analysis from Oxford and McGill universities found that marijuana use can also cause depression and suicidality. While use during adolescence is a key factor, even adults can be affected, and we have no way of predicting who is at risk. Genetics play a role, but people with no family history of mental health problems have developed them after using marijuana.

The experience of states that have commercialized marijuana shows that commercialization makes it cheaper and easier to obtain, complete with advertising designed to attract young people. Colorado’s use rate jumped from sixth in the nation to first after one year of retail sales. Thirty percent of current users report symptoms of cannabis use disorder, and they account for 80 percent of sales. Meanwhile, total tax and fee revenues (medical plus commercial) are plateauing at less than 1 percent of the state’s budget, but the black market has soared.

Vermont doesn’t need a system that encourages more use, creating more addiction and mental illness, while collecting barely enough income to cover administrative costs. That’s not progressive, it’s crazy.


Thetford Center

Emulate the bipartisan spirit

I commend former Hartford Selectwoman and now state Rep. Rebecca White for choosing not to spread herself too thin in her decision not to pursue another term on the Hartford Selectboard to devote full energy to her state-level responsibilities. I have often been concerned about her lack of maturity and the platforms she has espoused, but perhaps she will pleasantly surprise me by honorably representing all the constituents of the Windsor 4-2 district, and not just those she considers her base. She would do well to emulate the bipartisan spirit of some veteran Democratic representatives whom I consider good friends.

One thing I hope she does not do is emulate U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., whose ignorance is exceeded only by her arrogance. I say this because there are some disturbing parallels between these two women as to both ideology and inexperience in the positions to which they’re elected.

One politician who would do well to emulate White’s example is U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who has launched another quixotic campaign for the presidency that even many Democrats do not support because of his age and extremism. Sanders raised $6 million within 24 hours of announcing his candidacy, part of which he should use to support himself in lieu of accepting his Senate salary, since he will be the equivalent of a lame-duck senator for the next year and a half. Or even better, he should resign from the Senate. It is the honest thing to do, and would be an excellent test of whether Sanders has the moral and ethical scruples he has often accused the president of lacking.



The new American nightmare

The re-emergence of socialism as a political force in the U.S. has been met with a return to McCarthyism and red-baiting. Progressives and socialists are under attack with decades-old tactics facilitated by the bourgeois mass media and betrayal of centrist Democrats.

While addressing the U.N. General Assembly in September 2018, President Donald Trump highlighted the supposed failure of socialism and communism, emphasizing that “all nations of the world should resist socialism and the misery that it brings to everyone.”

During the 2019 State of the Union address, Trump said, “tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.” This is connected with the manufactured crisis orchestrated by the United States and its neo-fascist allies, like Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, against the “troika of tyranny.” On Feb. 18, Trump said, “The days of socialism and communism are numbered, not only in Venezuela, but in Nicaragua and in Cuba as well.” Trump even said that, “Maduro is not a Venezuelan patriot, he is a Cuban puppet.” Cue the Monroe Doctrine, Reagan and the dirty wars of the 1980s.

The imperialist drumbeats to war are echoed in unison once more by the capitalist media. The neoconservatives of the Project for the New American Century, including war criminal Elliot Abrams and John Bolton, are now in command.

The re-emergence of socialism is a direct result of the terminal crisis of the capitalist system. Neoliberal economic policies have brutally dismembered the welfare state, plunging the working class into poverty. The 2019 Oxfam report titled “Public Good or Private Wealth?” shows that 26 people now own the same wealth as 3.8 billion people. This is the barbarity of capitalism. Only progressives, socialists, communists and anarchists are fighting against it. As Malcolm X once said, “I see America through the eyes of the victim. I don’t see any American dream; I see an American nightmare.”



The president fails this test

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, take note. Like yourself, President Donald Trump recently took a DNA test. The results are now in, and Trump has been shown to be: 100 percent mendacious, 100 percent lascivious, 100 percent bully, 100 percent racist, 100 percent white supremacist, zero percent competent, zero percent trustworthy, 100 percent phony.

Of course we already knew this. The test just confirms it.