Archive for category Society
Excuse my logic but given the current crop of presidential candidates, namely Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump isn’t it time that we add a constitutional amendment that sets an age ceiling on someone’s holding the office of president of the United States.
Both candidates are approaching the age of 70 and there have been serious questions raised about both candidates’ health.
Their performance during this campaign seems to justify the concern over their age. Trump blasts everyone in sight like an angry old man.
In the case of Clinton she is caught in a classic catch 22. When people voice concerns over her health citing the infamous fall she took shortly before she was to testify in a Benghazi hearing her staff insists there’s no cause for concern. She used that fall and the ensuing “confusion” she claimed to be suffering as an excuse to dodge the hearing. Yet now her staff insists she is fine. If she didn’t fall at all, then she lied to the public several years ago. If she did in fact fall then there is good reason to believe that she may have suffered a concussion with long lasting repercussions.
Ronald Reagan was 70 years old when he took office. By the time he was well into his second term and now in his mid to late 70s I recall hearing stories that he would sometimes nod off right in the middle of Cabinet meetings.
In this author’s opinion both candidates seem to repeat the same tired ideas and the same boring rhetoric day in and day out. Furthermore the campaign has reduced itself to two candidates who spend most of their time chastising one another, sort of like two little kids each mad that they are not getting their way. It is a known fact that when people reach advancing age they often revert to behaving like children. The evidence that these two candidates are acting just that way is on daily display.
Given the complex problems of our country and the world, especially in areas of environmental destruction, terrorism, famine and economic instability we don’t need tired old hacks to run our country. We need the vitality, energy and imagination that comes with youth.
Let’s put a maximum age on serving as President of the United States NOW.
Excuse my logic, but with the way we humans have mistreated our environment, should we really be surprised in the huge increase in autism reported last week by the Center for Disease Control (CDC)? Studies have proven there is some correlation between environmental factors and the incidence of such conditions as Autism, Tourette’s Syndrome and Multiple Sclerosis.
By Federal Law, industries that use and release any of 682 toxic chemicals into the environment must account for them once a year to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The term release means chemicals either escaping from smokestacks into the air, discharged into rivers, lakes or streams or finally those that were land-filled. This blog concerns the latter.
Yes, we may get passing grades for regulating industrial dumping into landfills at the current time, but things weren’t always that way. However, there seems to be little regulation to what individual citizens dump everyday.
Consider this. In our country alone there are some 300 million people. If the average household consists of four people, that means we have 75 million households. For argument’s sake, let’s say fully half of those households are urban dwellers who use incinerators to dispose of their garbage. That leaves us 37.5 million households discarding trash that will end in landfills. I know in my household and some other households of people I am acquainted with we dispose of one 13 gallon plastic bag of garbage every day. So if we as a country are dumping 37.5 million 13 gallon bags of trash a day into landfills should be surprised by the illnesses that abound? Just to put this in perspective, I estimate that 37.5 million 13 gallon bags of trash would be about enough to fill Madison Square Garden. And we are filling our Earth with that amount of trash every day! Furthermore, that’s just what we throw out at our homes. This isn’t accounting for all the garbage we generate at work, school or other daytime activities.
No one regulates the individual and what he throws out everyday. Styrofoam cups, used oil filters, tin cans, disposable diapers just to name a few are all lethal to the ground we live on.
To examine the link between environment and autism consider the following. One area of the country that has emerged as a large spawning ground for autism is an 80 mile stretch of land on each side of the Ohio River betweenMount Vernon,IndianaandHawsville,Kentucky. In 2009, industries in this belt reported 166.8 million pounds of toxins released into the environment for that year alone. The literature that I have read suggests a strong correlation between that staggering statistic and the fact that in Evansville, Indiana, the state’s third largest city, 22 percent of public school children were receiving special ed instruction.
As mentioned previously, industries have not always been held accountable either. In my own state ofNew Jersey we have concentrations of ground and water pollution in many areas. Mahwah and Ringwood continue to be plagued by ground pollution that was discharged by the old Ford Motors plant in Mahwah. Pompton Lakes and vicinity were victimized by a DuPont munitions plant that generated decades’ worth of industrial pollution in that area. Bridgewater and the Raritan Riverwere systematically being polluted with benzene and other industrial chemicals by the American Cyanamid Corporation.
Elmwood Park’s High School in the 1960s and 1970s had a high incidence of Multiple Sclerosis due to dioxins from the Passaic River right across the street from it. In Garfield, cancer causing chromium had been leaking for years from a tank at the E.C. Electroplating plant and it spread underground and affected an entire neighborhood of citizens. Teaneck’s MiltonVotee Park had to be closed for a time last year due to highly contaminated soil.
Other sites reported in 2011 by the Bergen Record newspaper included Fair Lawn where it was suspected contaminated groundwater was seeping into homes from a Superfund site that had received little oversight for many years. In the Rutherford area Meadowlands, a dysfunctional EnCap project that was originally supposed to turn the area into a golf village left the sites more contaminated than before it started its ill advised endeavor.
This is just a smattering ofNew Jersey’s dismal list of more than 16,000 contaminated properties statewide.
When you stop to consider that there are many other states just as industrialized as our state of New Jersey is, the whole subject of our environment can be mind boggling.
I for one do have hope however. McDonald’s recently announced an initiative to replace Styrofoam cups with paper. Glad, the maker of those plastic trash bags now markets a line of Degradable Plus bags in four sizes. Furthermore recent regulations now require that a protective layer of non permeable material be placed at the bottom of a landfill to prevent ground and groundwater pollution. People like Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Redford lead a growing A-list of celebrities buying up tracts of land to preserve them in their natural state.
We as individuals, regardless of whether we are famous or not, can all do our share. Recycle whatever can be. In particular, oil filters, car batteries and all forms of electronics wreak havoc on the environment when discarded there. When you go to the supermarket, request paper bags instead of plastic. Instead of throwing out old bicycles, toys and other attic items have a garage sale. Or just rearrange the junk in your garage or attic rather than discarding it. Buy morning coffee from vendors who use paper cups instead of Styrofoam. If you must throw out garbage and we all must, place it in paper bags.
Another thing you can do to help curb ground and water pollution is to use organic fertilizers when fertilizing your lawn. Using these fertilizers helps avoid extensive runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus which leads to eutrophication of water and ultimately contaminates the food chain.
Also, if your favorite organization is involved in a neighborhood cleanup join in. It’s our Earth and we all have a vested interest in keeping it clean.
Copyright 2012; Greg S,
EXCUSE MY LOGIC BUT I AM FROM NEW JERSEY AND PROUD OF IT.
Now that that’s out of the way I’ll examine some of the crazier misgivings people have about our state and then follow that with the reasons I’m so proud to call the Garden State my home. Yes, this is my fluff post of the year but every post can’t be investigative or incendiary.
For starters there is this misconception. Take for example, a woman we know who came here from Chicago. She confided in us some years ago that upon moving to New Jersey she didn’t step foot out of her house (except maybe to do grocery shopping) for a full year. She said that she was THAT frightened of interacting with Jersey people whom she heard were very tough. Well talk about people in glass houses, isn’t Chicago infamous for being a tough city? Need I go any further than to say Al Capone aka “Scarface” called it his home? In later years, Mayor Richard Daley, the undisputed Democratic boss of the city who served as mayor for 21 years until his death rued the city with an iron fist. He has been called by Wikipedia, “The last of the big city bosses.”
Then you have people of the West Coast. As I former limo driver in this state I used to pick up my fair share of Californians and other people west. Often I was told by these clients that West Coast people hated to fly into Newark Airport because they were afraid there were riots going on there. I would remind these people that the riots occurred in the 1960s, many years ago and furthermore that the airport isn’t even in downtown Newark but actually neighboring Elizabeth, NJ. Again we have the glass house syndrome. Here we have Californians mocking our homeland when in fact the Los Angeles area was the home of raging riots in 1992 after the officers in the Rodney King beating case were acquitted. Furthermore, the Watts area had terrible riots in 1965.
Another one of the snubs to New Jersey that peeves me off the most are the famous signs that greet visitors entering the state of Pennsylvania.(see below).
If America starts in Pennsylvania, who are we from New Jersey, aliens from another planet? Or maybe we’re citizens of a third world state?
There have been other slights to New Jersey. People call the area bordering the New Jersey Turnpike “Cancer Alley.” There was that recent sensation on the internet, “A Viral Map of New Jersey” which stereotypically delineated Poor Minorities in Bayonne, Hipsters in Hoboken and Russians, Polacks and Toxic Fumes just north of Perth Amboy to name a few.
Furthermore travelling back several decades was the rumor that former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa was actually buried under the old Giants Stadium. It was rumored that he was whacked by orders of Anthony Provenzano of Teamsters 560. Years ago, New Jersey’s Teamster’s 560, the local branch was labeled by author Steven Brill as the most dangerous and ruthless labor local in the entire country.
People also love to diss our state for its high auto insurance rates and property tax rates.
So after all this, why do I love New Jersey?
Well start with a biggie. We almost never have tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes or other horrible wraths of Mother Nature. Our four seasons run a complete course. It’s not like we have a short winter but a long spring. In Jersey we get a full three months of each season, mostly. This winter has been an exception.
Sticking with environmental and nature oriented plus sides for the state, our beaches are wide and pure white. I have been to Malibu Beach in California and I swear, our sand is whiter, and you get more beach for your buck.
As mentioned above, Cancer Alley, the land abutting each side of the New Jersey Turnpike can be grotesque. However, if you head west, say on I-78 or I-80, you will be treated to rolling hills, and picturesque farms. At night, take a ride to Clinton, NJ and look straight up at the heavens. You will see as many stars in the sky as anyplace on earth. It is that clear.
Californians love to brag about places like San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury as a mecca for incubating music and artistic talent. Well consider this partial list of New Jersey born and raised artists: Jack Nicholson, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Jason Alexander, Susan Sarandon, Shaq, Dionne Warwick, Whitney Houston, Eddie Money, Jerry Lewis, Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis, Lauryn Hill, Ice-T, Danny Devito, Joe Pesci, John Forsythe, Meryl Streep, Paul Simon, Kevin Spacey, John Travolta, Kelly Ripa and Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra. I’d say artistically speaking, New Jersey is fertile ground.
Another reason I like New Jersey is its size. You can travel from any one point in the state to any other point in the state in three hours or less.
I like that we are the Diner Capital of the world. Our diners run the gamut in size from giants like the Arlington Diner in North Arlington or the Tick Tock Diner along Route 3 in Clifton, to the microscopic but incredibly popular White Manna Diner in Hackensack which boasts about 10 seats. I also like that many people will tell you we have some of the best pizza in the world. Also on the subject of food, I love that you can drive down the garden State Parkway to exit 131 and a few hundred yards off the exit ramp is an entire community of India people with a host of Indian restaurants. Similarly if you like various ethnic foods, many are offered in various communities such as Cuban food in Union City, Middle Eastern food in Paterson, etc.
While we don’t have our own baseball team, we have teams in the other three major professional sports including the New Jersey Devils who have won several Stanley Cups in the past 15 years and The “New York” Giants who play in New Jersey and have won two Super Bowls in the past 5 years.
We have the first ever built tunnel under a river (The Holland). We have the most shopping malls in one area with seven major ones located within a 25 square mile radius.
Menlo Park,NJ was the home to that prolific inventor Thomas Edison who invented the phonograph, motion picture projector and light bulb while living there.
The largest seaport in the country is located in Elizabeth NJ and nearly 80 percent of what our nation imports from overseas runs through that port.
I could go on more but you get the point. In conclusion, I am proud to be an American and equally proud to be a Jerseyite. Or Jerseyan. Or well you know.
Copyright 2012; Greg S.
Excuse my logic but is it a crime to be poor? For many of my fellow Americans they must think it is. This blog is about neglect of people by our own political and government systems. This neglect touches people here from many different nations and of many different, colors, and creeds. The one thing they all have in common is they are low or lower middle income.
I’ve been meaning to write this particular blog for many months now but always had it on the back burner. Then today, someone I was speaking to asked me a rather obvious question, one I’ve asked myself countless times.
Why do we let people remain living in substandard or even dangerous living conditions which could actually cause their death in a country as prosperous as ours?
To sidetrack for a moment. Did I say we are a prosperous country? Damned right. I recently read somewhere that our GDP or GNP is seven times that of China, the country that everyone runs around saying will one day own us. If these figures are correct it looks like that time is a long way off.
So with all the money we have for bank bailouts and corporate CEO buyouts and new multi billion dollar sports stadiums that are dripping with opulence, we allow many of our country folk to live on the precipice of serious injury or downright death.
Cases in point:
Hurricane Katrina – A year before that tragedy, people were already talking about a possible breach of the levies. Nineteen hundred lives lost. Most or all of those people could have lived if appropriate precautions had been taken.
This year’s tornadoes across the Midwest and Southeast – Hundreds or maybe even thousands have perished. Why in the world in this great nation of vast economic resources, do we allow people who live in these regions to live in mobile homes or homes with no foundations? Against a powerful hurricane or tornado, if you live in this type of dwelling you might as well live in a cardboard box. Let me expound on this point. Some years ago, a powerful tornado swept across a town in Florida known as New Smyrna Beach. I am familiar with the goings on there because I have a relative who lives nearby and I at one time lived there myself. This tornado hit two cement condominium buildings known as Diamond Head straight on. It blew out windows, but not one person perished. The point is that these buildings were strong enough to protect their occupants. Can the same be said for a mobile home? Of course not.
Locally to myself, New Jersey to be exact, I watch with sadness each year as the Saddle River in Lodi, NJ and surrounding communities overflows its banks and destroys peoples’ basements, automobiles etc. It is well documented that even before Hurricane Floyd way back in 1999 the Army Corps of Engineers had been warning the Federal Government, namely Congress, that work needed to be done on that river to prevent drastic flooding. Still every year it floods. I don’t know if any work has been done, but it’s a low income area, so as I asked in the beginning of this blog, does that make these people criminals, unworthy of even some consideration by Washington, DC?
Also local to myself is the town of Lincoln Park in Morris County, NJ. The Morris Canal zigzags its way through a hodgepodge of low lying streets in the area close to Wayne, NJ.
Some of these houses are one story affairs, so their gutters may be estimated to be ten feet above ground level. I have seen that canal, so docile looking in fair weather, swell up so deep in bad storms that the water reaches the gutters of these homes.
Needless to say, every time this happens, many possessions are ruined and many peoples’ lives are turned upside down. Once again, many of these peoples’ only crime is that they are low income. This is their best shot at home ownership – buying houses that can probably be purchased at bargain basement prices (ie. under $150,000 in a county known to feature high home prices).
When these homes flood out, disaster lurks in several corners. People could drown. People could be electrocuted as water floods over active power lines.
This is not just rhetoric designed to instill unjustified fear. When the above-mentioned Hurricane Floyd hit, the downtown section of South Bound Brook, NJ was inundated with flood water. The downtown caught fire and basically imploded. One news caster termed the downtown of that city as a “write off.”
What are we to do? One possibility lies in massive relocations of people from danger zones to safe zones. A November 17, 2010 article entitled “Seven Towns Where Land is Free” by CNBC.com writer Colleen Kane is just one example that comes to my mind. Yes, there are places in this country where they will give you land to put up a home, free, with few or no strings attached! I would bet the farm that the government has many habitable land areas beyond just these that could become sanctuaries for displaced homeowners.
I would also not be surprised to find that there exist even now 15 years later, huge amounts of unoccupied condominiums and other domiciles in multi-family buildings leftover from the infamous S&L crisis of the 1980s and 1990s. I can remember driving the coastline in parts of Monmouth County, NJ back in the early 1990s and being absolutely awestruck by the thousands of empty condominiums that had been put up in this era of reckless financing.
Similar overstock of unsold condominium housing may exist in many areas of the country. Isn’t it better to put people in these units than to leave them gathering dust and rotting from the inside?
I don’t have all the answers. However I do know that in this so called “land of opportunity” we need to get back to recognizing the sanctity of each human life.
Copyright 2011; Greg S.
Excuse my logic but isn’t it irksome the way some rich and famous people invent fictitious Horatio Alger type stories about their rise to the top?
Just to refresh your memory, Alger (Horatio Alger Jr.) was a prolific writer in the 1800s who wrote more than 100 books for young working class males that in many instances championed the concept that a person born into a meager existence could parlay hard work and ambition into success. He was the ultimate American dreamer.
According to an article on Wikipedia, a number of notable writers and scholars including filmmaker Michael Moore, the late journalist Hunter S. Thompson, noted Economist Max Sawicky and Yale University Law Professor Harlon L. Dalton have dismissed Alger as a Pollyanna, or even harmful to society.
Moore may have put it best back in 2003 when he succinctly observed “So here’s my question: after fleecing the American Public and destroying the American dream for most working people, how is it that, instead of being drawn and quartered and hung at dawn at the city gates, the rich got a big wet kiss from Congress in the form of a record tax break, and no one says a word? How can that be? I think it’s because we’re still addicted to the Horatio Alger fantasy drug…”
I think whatMoorewas driving at is that the politicians and others who control the taxation system are forever trying to sell a Horatio Alger bill of goods to the middle class and poor that no matter how much of the tax burden they bear, they can still succeed if they just work harder and believe. If you believe these politicians on this theory you might as well continue believing in the tooth fairy.
Fast forward to October, 2008 inToledoOhio, when then unknown Samuel J. Wurzelbacher (a.k.a. Joe the Plumber) asked Barack Obama very simply if he believed in “The American Dream?”
During the hard fought presidential race of that year, both Barack Obama and John McCain made countless references to their desire to help “the man onMain Street.”
What did it all mean? Were both candidates just empty suits?
Now getting back to Horatio Alger, I have always considered myself an optimist and admittedly I usually bought into the allure of Alger that one could go from rags to riches. I was not born into a poor family but it wasn’t a rich one either. My dad worked three jobs just to afford all the advanced medical care it took to keep me alive in my childhood years due to an acute asthma condition. I have lived at times in luxury and there have been times in my life where my family and I family lived on a street filled with crack houses and gangs.
I do believe that with hard work you can achieve a modicum of financial success. But let me put it quite simply. In many cases to reach the level of great financial success, it takes more than just hard work. It takes a whole lot of luck and in some cases breaking the rules.
There was a documentary made by Rhonda Byrne in 2006 called “The Secret.” In it she conveyed the message over and over again that in order to achieve success you needed to hold fast to a certain type of “I can win no matter what” attitude which she said was the secret. A similar message is put forth in the book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” by Robert Kiyosaki.
In the case of Byrne’s documentary, I once asked a psychotherapist I knew what she thought of the filmmaker’s concept. She said quite simply to me that it’s all fine and dandy to tell a person that they can win no matter what adversity they face, but she added, “try telling it to a person with terminal cancer.”
It is also interesting to note that Byrne’s financial dealings themselves were brought into question when Drew Heriot, director of “The Secret” and Dan Hollings, an internet maven whose viral marketing propelled Byrne to fame claimed that the think positive superstar owed them $300 million.
I am not one to say there’s a conspiracy behind every success story. However, in the current economy which we are constantly reminded is bad, a worker earning minimum wage cleaning toilets or some similarly menial job will constantly be told, almost mantra-like ”to just be glad they have a job.” This is how the rich keep the proletariat in check.
Yet if you took a multi-millionaire athlete or television star and suddenly told them that for the rest of their life they would have to work one of those minimum wage jobs would they express gratitude “at just being lucky to have a job?”
Now, I have been dancing around but not touching on the main point yet. Alger told us to believe that with hard work and persistence we could rise from any abyss. Some fantastically successful people have done just that.
Yet there are others who are playing a big con game with the public. They will tell us that they were born in a cold water flat in theBronxand later we will find out that they actually grew up in a nice upper middle class neighborhood. They will tell us they were abused as a child and later we find out it was all just a publicity grab to boost their sagging career. I will not name any names but the public is smart enough to know some of them.
People of my generation will remember the famous political phrase “trickle down economics.” It basically proffered that if you protected the wealth for the rich, some of their money would trickle down to the middle class and poor.
That phrase was big in the 1980s during the Reagan era. Thirty years later it seems we’re still being told the same and yet it seems that the trickle has become a drip. I’ll remain an optimist and keep saying the glass is half full. But then you always have to account for evaporation.
Copyright 2011; Greg S.