Forum, Dec. 2: Ignorance or Fabrication?

Friday, December 01, 2017
Ignorance or Fabrication?

I’ve always assumed that knowledge of history provides a guide to the present and foresight into the future. What surprises me is the persistence with which our political leaders fail to acknowledge past evidence relative to the issue at hand. Does this reflect a denial, ignorance or fabrication of history?

Issue — Tax Bill: The Senate bill incorporates supply-side economics, which assumes that taxing the rich has terrible effects on economic growth, and conversely that income gains from tax cuts for the rich will trickle down to the middle class and grow the economy. At a White House briefing, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin promised the plan will not make the deficit worse.

History: Republicans predicted disaster when Bill Clinton raised tax rates on high incomes. Instead, the economy had the best run since the 1960s. When George W. Bush cut taxes on the wealthy, Republicans predicted a “Bush boom.” What followed was a mediocre expansion followed by the worst slump since the Great Depression.

Issue — Global Warming: Many lawmakers in Congress continue to claim that climate warming is not real or is the product of a global scientific hoax.

History: Scientists say that recent back-to-back heat records are due to global warming caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases. As ice on land melts the world over and heat absorption causes ocean water volume to expand, the sea level rises, endangering coastal communities.

Issue — Health Care: Republicans believe that privatization and the empowerment of consumers using vouchers to purchase health insurance would keep costs under control and health care affordable.

History: Government insurance via Medicare is more cost-effective than private insurance. The Affordable Care Act has cost taxpayers much less than expected — about 20 percent less, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Issue — Paris Agreement: Donald Trump has complained that the Paris Agreement “gives foreign bureaucrats control over how much energy we use on our land, in our country. No way.”

History: In fact, the Paris Agreement involves voluntary pledges by the governments of over 190 nations, laying out plans to lower emissions. No government has control over the emissions-reduction plans of other governments.

Bob Scobie


Lessons from ‘Peanuts’ and Snoopy

I have enjoyed the Peanuts strip since I was a kid, and that’s a long time.

Lately I notice a number of Peanuts strips in which the male Snoopy surprises various females, calls them “Sweetie” and aggressively puts his lips on their face or head. Snoopy then reassures us or himself that this is in the girls’ best interests. They will have a better day, feel cheered up, got just what they needed, etc. While we never hear the girls’ rebuttals — must be in the fifth panel — the male always seems to be getting his kicks.

I understand all Peanuts strips were drawn before Charles Schulz died in 2000. I think it helps remind us that Schulz’s generation — like Cosby’s generation, like Trump’s generation — used the “cute” or “just kidding” or “what’s the big deal?” excuse to never deal with the legacy of males treating females as objects to control. Because none of them dealt with it, we are still dealing with it today. I appreciate the Peanuts strip reminding us that this issue has historical roots.

Robert Spottswood


How Much Do They Need?

How many yachts, mega-mansions, cars, limos, private planes, swimming pools, exotic vacation homes, cashmere items of clothing, multi-carat diamonds and millions and billions of dollars do the super-rich need to feel happy and fulfilled?

It’s obvious that for many of them, the answer is they can never have enough. Their addiction to money and power makes the opioid crisis look small. If only there was a drug to awaken them to their pure greed that is turning our once-great country upside down.

However, there are more of us, the working class, than there are of them, the super-rich who pay penny wages on the dollars we earn for them. As hotel heiress Leona Helmsley once said, “We don’t pay taxes. Only little people pay taxes!”

Sen. Bernie Sanders is right. We need a living wage for all workers ($15 per hour). We need college and vocational education for our kids without crushing debt. We need universal health care because all humans get sick. Put up a yard sign supporting Sanders and call Congress and demand that they absolutely vote no to Trump’s tax bill to give billions more to those who already have billions — enough to last them several lifetimes.

Jackie Smith


Overdue or Not, Please Donate

In October, the Bradford Public Library kicked off its Annual Drive to raise operational funds. Members of the board of directors sent letters to faithful donors as well as some potential ones.

One donor sent the following note along with his check: “In memory of Miss Dickey and the book Moby Dick that I believe I took out in 1957. I haven’t finished reading it quite yet. Sincere apologies.”

Even if you do not share the burden of an long-overdue book or cannot remember a former librarian that you once admired, please join this “contrite” donor by becoming a donor yourself.

Donations can be sent to the Bradford Public Library, P.O. Box 619, Bradford, VT 05033, or use Paypal. The success of the Annual Drive makes the difference between a good library and a great one.

Tony Brainerd, president

Bradford Public Library Board of Directors