My clock’s battery stopped working so I took it off the wall in order to replace it. It’s an oversized clock but it runs on two little AA batteries. I used a screwdriver to pry the back off the case and a few minutes later, I thought I was back in business.
But when I hung it back up, it was obvious I had a problem.
In turning the clock over, I damaged the mechanism. While the longer hand still counted the minutes, the smaller hand was not working. In fact, no matter where I’d place the hour hand, gravity would pull it to 6 o’clock.
It’s frustrating when you have a certain expectation and it doesn’t get fulfilled. I figured I would have to throw the whole thing away. But then I noticed something…
As the minute hand rotated around, it would hook the edge of the hour hand and, with incremental ticks, carry it to the top of the clock. At just a few minutes past the hour, the minute hand would drop its hold. Like a pendulum, the hour hand swung to and fro like some crazy time piece from Alice in Wonderland.
It was hypnotizing.
I kept it on the wall and found myself waiting for each hour to pass so I could see the arm make its wild swings and then come to a rest again. It was unexpected, this event, and it made me think of a poem I’d received from a mom of a special needs child years ago.
Both are reminders to enjoy the life you’re living, even if it’s not what you expected.
Welcome to Holland
BY EMILY PERL KINGSLEY
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this…
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.” “Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you never would have met. It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…and you begin to notice Holland has windmills…and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy…and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away…because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss.
But…if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to go to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things…about Holland.
©1987 BY EMILY PERL KINGSLEY.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
I grew up in Philadelphia where The Constitution was said with the same reverence as the Bible. We took school trips to the city, went on guided tours of historic buildings and memorized details for the test that would follow.
The Declaration of Independence was written in 1776 and was designed to justify our separation from British rule.
The Constitution was written in 1787 and was designed to be the law of our new country.
But, these facts held no importance to me, I was more interested in cell structure and mitosis. And I was working on the premise that these men had done a good job and created a timeless document that would serve us for all eternity.
But then I learned about Heidi Schreck and her Broadway performance of What the Constitution Means to Me. During her teenage years, Heidi toured the country speaking about the Constitution. In fact, she made enough money doing this that she was able to pay for her own college education. She’s been studying this document for a long time so I have to believe she knows what she’s talking about.
She points out that the Constitution has positive and negative rights. Negative rights protect us from our own government becoming too powerful. Positive rights, like the right to an education, help our citizens to succeed. Sounds pretty good, so what’s the big deal?
She explores the document and how it relates to her family, especially the women. She argues that women weren't always protected as well as they should have been.
The Equal Right Amendment was a proposed amendment that was supposed to give equal legal rights to all citizens regardless of sex. But it never passed. Alice Paul, a suffragist, initial wrote a version that said “Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.” Despite being in every Congressional session for the next 20 years, it never passed.
In 1943, the words were changed to: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” The ERA amendment was gaining traction when Phyllis Schlafy (1924-2016) stepped in the ring.
Schlafly was vigorous in her objection to the potential amendment and she was effective at bringing it to a halt. She claimed that if equal rights were granted women would be forced to go to war, they would lose their rights to child support and alimony and our society would collapse.
But not to worry. Surely there are protections for women in other places? The Fourteenth Amendment is supposed to allow equal protection under the law for all citizens.
An article from the Atlantic said:
In an interview with California Lawyer magazine, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia seemed to suggest that the Constitution does not protect women from gender-based discrimination. "Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn't. Nobody ever thought that that's what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that," said the famously conservative justice, adding, "If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws.
So should we be pursuing equal rights now?
Abigail Adams, in a letter to husband John Adams, warned “Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could.”
And what about RBG (Ruth Bader Ginsberg). What does she say?
You can hear for yourself here. RBG is famous for her support of equal rights...for everyone.
Years ago I decided that I wanted a pet, specifically a dog. But I also needed a pet that didn’t require a lot of care. So I opted to get a cat that was rumored to act somewhat like a dog.
Bengal cats are the result of the successful pairing of a wild cat (Asian Leopard) and domestic cat. They have broad heads, high cheekbones and the tips of their ears are rounded. The best part is the spotted or swirled marble patterns on their fur, reminders of their wild ancestry. Available information on this cat said they were supposed to go on walks, fetch toys, give a high-five and even swim in the pool with their owners. Practically a dog.
Tass is short for Catastrophe. Soon after she arrived, she climbed up the drapes and couldn’t get down. Next she disappeared into the fireplace and then ran around the house scattered soot all over the furniture and rugs. My husband started calling her Tass-hole.
I’ve not been successful in any training or dog-like activities. When I put a leash on her, she rolled on the ground like she was demon possessed. When I throw something to fetch, she pounces on it, covers it with her body, and then casually licks her paws and looks bored.
I’m not doubting that Bengals are smart, however. Tass learned to flush the toilet by herself. The first time she did this, it was nighttime and my husband was traveling. I can’t tell you how unnerving that was. I’m alone, there’s a stranger in the house…and he’s using the potty.
Tass has spent considerable time training us in her routines. In the mornings, she likes to be fed, receive a back rub, and then let outside to our small backyard. She walks the perimeter of the patio surveying her kingdom and monitoring the birds. Monday was a bit different. Seconds after she went outside I heard her screeching.
I flew out the door and was shocked to see two foxes attacking her. (To be honest, she probably instigated it, she’s pretty territorial and she’s been watching a lot of nature tv shows lately)
Tass was displaying some ninja-like moves that were faster than my eyes could follow but I could certainly hear her. Being a professional and trained to deal with emergencies, I did as you’d expect. Ran outside in my bathrobe, screaming loud enough to wake the neighbors while waving my hands up in the air to look intimidating. It worked. The foxes disappeared and I carried Tass inside.
She had blood on her paws but not a single scratch. Ninja Cat.
Now Tass is on quarantine for rabies.
Rabies is some pretty serious business. Raccoons, skunks, bats and you guessed it...foxes are carriers and it’s universally fatal. Symptoms start with fever, headache and confusion. As the victim worsens, they experience hallucinations, paralysis, hypersalivation (over producing saliva) and hydrophobia (fear of water).
Tass has to get a series of shots and she’s on house arrest. She’s bitter about her incarceration and spends a lot of time meowing her frustration. It’s gonna be a long quarantine. Meanwhile, the city put out a cage to catch the culprits but we caught this guy instead.
Look at the teeth on that handsome guy!
I went to the Tulsa Ballet last weekend and saw Tchaikovsky: The Man behind the Music.
You remember him, right?
He’s the Russian composer who created the music for The Nutcracker and Swan Lake.
Before the actual show, they had an informal question and answer period where the choreographer, Ma Cong, described how this particular ballet came to be. It was fascinating.
Pyotr LLyich Tchaikovsky’s life was complicated, just a quick glimpse on Wikipedia confirms that. And the history written about him is not always accurate. In some accounts, his mother was cold and uncaring while in others, she was devoted to him. What a majority of biographies agreed upon was that Tchaikovsky was a homosexual. This was so unacceptable in 19th century Russia that the Soviets erased or changed a lot of the references of same-sex attraction in their literature. (and you thought the censorship in George Orwell’s 1984 dystopian book was far-fetched)
A team was formed and was responsible for bringing the story to life. A composer, Oliver Peter Graber, chose music from what was mostly Tchaikovsky’s own works, with the goal of matching the theme of each act. Tracy Grant Lord designed peacock-hued shimmering dresses and buttoned jackets with rows of shiny buttons—all reminiscent of the time period. A Russian historian acted as a consultant and the artistic director, Marcello Angelini, developed the concept and brought it to life.
The lead was a male and I realized that I’m used to seeing ballerinas being in the limelight. I learned that we don’t even have a term for a ‘star’ male ballet performer. In Italy, A ballerino is a term used for a male lead but as far as I know, we don’t have a similar title to recognize a male with exceptional talent. This guy deserved a title—he was brilliant.
Have females always dominated ballet? Nope.
In Renaissance times, only men danced. This is not surprising because only men performed as actors too. When women did show up on stage, heavy full skirts impeded their ability to perform some of the dance moves. Men, in their breeches, had more freedom. Jean Balon, a ballet virtuoso, was known for his ability to ascend without effort and land gracefully. The word balloon, meaning springiness, was derived from his name.
It wasn’t until the 1800’s that female dancers started to become more popular. (Coincidentally, that was about the same time that their skirts were shortened.) Women were considered to be more ethereal and ballets such as Giselle and La Sylphide highlighted their dancing styles.
Female dancers have continued to be the focus of a host of popular ballets like Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty. But maybe that’s going to change and we will see more male dominated ballets that allow more demonstrations of technical prowess and strength. Times are changing…
So what happens next to this new ballet?
Videos of the production were sent around the world. Representatives from different troupes will watch the same show I did. And then they will decide whether to bring the show to their own troupe. Ma Cong, the choreographer, would go to each city and help cast from their own dancers for each role.
And that’s how a new ballet is born!
image from Tulsaballet.org.
We have it wrong.
We bide our time waiting for that special moment...
The job promotion.
Life events that we believe will lead to idyllic happiness. And somehow, magically, we expect that feeling will freeze and stay with us forever.
I learned about the notion of Mono no Aware when I went to see the Japanese Garden in Fort Worth. I’ve consulted many sources on the internet trying to understand the concept and here is what I’ve come to understand:
It’s an awareness, a sadness or deep emotion, felt when we recognize the transient nature of people and things around us.
Japanese gardens are known for the serenity they create in us. They are simple and deliberate in their design, featuring maples, magnolias, bamboo and bridges over koi ponds. Instead of merely observing these gardens, they’re meant to be experienced and they’re known for instilling a tranquil mood in the visitor.
Various shades of green leaves soothe and rippling water pacifies. Flowers, with their bold bright colors, are not welcome here. Cherry blossoms are an exception. In the spring, for two weeks only, these pale pink flowers bloom in abundance. And when people describe what Mono no Aware means, they point to this flower and its short season.
Our lives change constantly and most of us live in denial, believing that we can reach a state of happiness once some event occurs or some person enters our lives. Mono no Aware is a acknowledgement that suffering occurs because we fail to recognize that things and people that we love will leave us.
It’s a declaration that fragility and brevity are fundamental to our appreciation. It’s a bittersweet feeling, a recognition that our time with our friends, family, is short.
What if you knew, and accepted, that every relationship, every job, every object had a ‘expiration date’.
Your favorite car will eventually fall apart.
Your college friends will lose touch with you.
The blossoms from your beloved cherry tree will fall to the ground and drift away
Your loved one will die.
Everything comes to an end.
So shouldn’t we love more extravagantly?
Wildly appreciate our friends?
Derive the greatest joy from our treasured possessions?
It’s a lesson and the cherry tree blooms every year to remind us.
In medical school, professors rolled their eyes as they explained historical cures that were once used to treat patients. Blood-letting, leeches, maggots, even packing a woman’s birth canal with dirt and leaves after childbirth.
It sounded horrifying. Luckily, we’ve abandoned those medieval remedies, right?
There’s the condition called polycythemia vera…
It’s when your body produces too many red cells. The blood gets too thick and can cause a ‘traffic jam’ in your blood vessels which can lead to a stroke. The primary method of treating this condition is phlebotomy.
Otherwise known as blood-letting.
And you’ve probably heard that doctors are using leeches and maggots again.
Leeches act as an artificial vein, removing old or excess blood that would interfere with a delicate surgery like a finger implantation after an amputation.
And maggots? They clean wounds, removing decaying tissue and sparing the healthy, better than any surgeon can.
But dirt? Surely, there’s no need for that in modern medicine?
Let me tell you about some special dirt. It’s found in the Boho Highlands of Fermanagh in Northern Island and it’s been known to cure some infections.
Let me give you some background.
Streptomyces is a bacteria. (Even though it looks quite a bit like a fungus)
It turns out to be quite old, evolving over 450 million years ago.
It’s also quite special. Streptomyces is the source of many antibiotics. This bacteria secretes antibiotics to protect itself from a bacterial invasion during its growth cycle. Fascinating, right?
Antibiotics that we use today, like chloramphicol, rifampicin, vancomycin, daunomycin and clavulanic acid, come from streptomycetes and their close relatives.
We all know the importance of antibiotics in fighting infections. And most people realize that we’re facing more drug-resistant bacteria. We’re waiting for some company to create new antibiotics to fight those superbugs. But we might have a long wait.
It’s related to the finances of developing a new drug. (It’s always about money)
It takes about ten years to develop a drug and then do rigorous testing of that new medicine. That’s a lot of money tied in research. Now imagine that your new drug, a splendid shiny new antibiotic, is released to the world.
Infectious disease experts are impressed and excited about this new cure. What do they do? They immediately shout out: “Don’t use this antibiotic!”
Here’s why. They want to save this impressive new cure for the worst of the infections. If everyone takes this new antibiotic for their sore toe or red throat, the bacteria will become resistant to it, too. It will no longer be as effective as it once was.
But what company would invest in a medicine where the experts advise the primary care doctors not to use it? It make far more financial sense to develop a medical solution for high blood pressure or acid reflux. A drug they can make lots and lots of money on.
So, we're running out of antibiotics. And that’s a big deal.
And we may have to go back to how we treated serious infections centuries ago.
Surgery--A surgeon cuts out the infection.
“A chance to cut is a chance to cure,” I learned in medical school.
Oddly, A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure is also a music album. It features sounds from surgeries—liposuctions and bone saws—mixed in with electric guitars and synthesizers. It actually received good reviews…
Here’s an example of their music.
Here's another one...but it's only for the brave (and not squeamish)
Back to the subject at hand. I’m hoping we don’t have to revert to ‘cutting’ out infections.
In Ireland, the land of leprechauns and four-leafed clovers, they’ve found something in the soil that may be helpful against our fight against the super bugs. A new species of Streptomyces, one that stops the growth of 4 of 6 of the ESKAPE bacteria (the first letter of their name=ESKAPE)
These bacteria: Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and species belonging to the Enterobacter genus are known for being highly resistant to our current antibiotics and are the leading cause for hospital acquired infections around the world.
I’m not sure who thought to look in the dirt for a solution to our dire need to fight resistant bacteria but I found a quote that helps put it in perspective….
I'm Irish. We think sideways. Spike Milligan
Raising a teenager is hard work.
It’s a training ground for adulthood with children who feel that since their bodies have expanded to grown-up proportions they've, therefore, earned the rights of their elders.
I wished that someone had taken my children aside and explained some things…someone like Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)
“Always obey your parents — when they are present. Most parents think they know more than you do, and you can generally make more by humoring that superstition than you can by acting on your own better judgment.”
I did my best with their life lessons.
Like the time I tried guiding my son through his first argument with his girlfriend.
“She’s not speaking to me,” he said.
“Apologize,” I advised.
“But I don’t even know what I did wrong.”
“Give her flowers,” my daughter chimed in, “and then ask her.”
Driving had its challenges too. But it wasn’t just speeding, or icy roads, that I wanted to warn him about.
Before even allowing him behind the wheel I advised him, “If you see a woman with a stroller or holding a toddler’s hand, bring the car to stop far away from her.”
My son drew his brows together. “But, why?”
“Because they’ll assume that you’re threatening their children and death rays will fly from their eyes.”
“That’s stupid, mom.”
It happened just as I foretold.
We were in the Target parking lot and my son pulled to a stop to allow a mother to cross with her children. But the distance was not great enough.
The woman’s hands never left the stroller but her head pivoted to identify the threat. With eyes that could tear holes into a brick wall, she pinned my son to the back of his seat…daring him to move one inch closer to her babies.
My son swallowed hard.
“That was it, wasn’t it?”
“Yes.” I patted his arm to let him know that he’d be okay.
“Don’t mess with moms, sweetie. Ever.”
My daughter’s lessons were different and often felt more like negotiations.
“If you can go an entire year without buying any new clothes, I will let you get that tattoo. Prove to me that, in a year from now, you will still like to wear the same outfits and I will pay for it myself.” I promised her. “Think of it this way, a tattoo is a permanent fashion decision.”
She lasted two weeks. And she never asked for a tattoo again.
She outfoxed me, fair and square, when it came to the nose piercing. A small gemstone followed her past high school and through college. It didn't disappear until she entered into her career.
When she went on her first official date, I was honest with her and did exactly what my mom did on my first date.
“Invite him in,” I requested, “And then distract him for a moment. Get him a drink or something.”
“I need time to slip out the back, go around the house and jot down his license plate. In case I have to talk to the police.”
She rolled her eyes and shook her head.
But she did it.
There are some lessons that we teach and we don’t even know it. Last weekend I learned about one of them.
The pastor at my daughter’s church asked everyone to close their eyes and think back to a time when they felt unloved. She called me and told me about it.
“Never,” she said. “I’ve lived my entire life and have never experienced a single moment where I didn’t feel loved.”
“That’s right,” I said with a throat that felt suddenly tight. “And you never will.”
Greta Thunberg is a fifteen year old Swedish girl who has given a TED talk about climate change. She’s influenced other kids to skip school on Fridays to raise awareness about the problem. I wrote about her here.
Now, I want to tell you about Kelsey Juliana. She’s a University of Oregon student who’s one of twenty one kids (ages 11-22) suing the US saying that the government knowingly failed to protect them from climate change. They come from ten different states and the youngest is in sixth grade.
The plaintiffs (the children), led by a legal team, are arguing that a safe climate is a civil right. They want clean air and water and would like to avoid the famines, floods and fires predicted if we don’t start changing our ways. I can’t blame them.
There has actually been multiple climate change lawsuits already. So, why is this one different?
First- They’re not seeking money for damages. They’re trying to force the government to make changes in order to decrease our CO2 emissions.
Second- They’ve already survived several legal battles and motions to dismiss and gone further than other similar lawsuits in the past.
The lawsuit was filed in 2015 and initially the fossil fuel industry intervened, joining the US government in an attempt to get the case dismissed. They failed. Later, in 2017, the fossil fuel defendants asked to be released from the case.
Why would they do that?
A Washington Post article explained that it was likely to avoid “questions about the industry’s position on the effects of climate change on water supplies, agriculture and other natural systems, as well as the ability of human societies and natural ecosystems to adapt.”
They would be forced to tell the truth, in court, about the effects fossil fuels are having on our world.
The government has tried to prevent this lawsuit from ever coming to court. In an article on forbes.com, Jame Conca wrote reported that one of the 19 year old plaintiffs said: “The lengths my own government is going to to get this case thrown out and avoid trial is absurd and offensive. This case is not about money. This is not about the 'harms to the government' or how much money the government has paid its experts or how many hours their lawyers have to work. This is about my future and the future of our youngest generations. This is about fundamental constitutional rights of children. We are simply asking for our right to be heard.”
Since 2017, the courts have been ruling on motions causing a delay from the original trial date of Feb 5, 2018. But why delay it?
Julia Olson, an Oregon lawyer, explained in a Sixty Minutes episode. The US government admits “that the government has known for over 50 years that burning fossil fuels would cause climate change. And they don't dispute that we are in a danger zone on climate change. And they don't dispute that climate change is a national security threat and a threat to our economy and a threat to people's lives and safety. They do not dispute any of those facts of the case.”
So, if you don’t believe in climate change, I have news for you. Our own US government recognizes that climate change will be catastrophic problem. For fifty years, since President Lyndon Johnson was in office, both Democrats and Republican presidents have known that burning fossil fuels was causing climate change. And they’ve failed to address it.
Steve Kroft (Sixty Minutes) summarized why its a big deal to keep it out of the courts, “You're talking about a case that could change economics in this country.” Without a doubt, addressing climate change would be a massive financial endeavor. But what if, like the FDR’s New Deal and the war that followed, this serves as an economic stimulus to our government?
And more importantly, do we even have a choice? Don’t we owe it to our children and grandchildren to make changes to protect their world?
Julia Olson says that the government does not want to go to court “Because they will lose on the evidence that will be presented at trial.”
As usual, I stand on the side of the kids...the one's fighting to save us all.
If you’re a kid and want to add your name to the list of those concerned about the climate and in support of Kelsey Juliana, you can do that HERE.
Have you heard about the Green New Deal?
I wanted to review the “old” New Deal before I started on the new version. You can read that in my blog here.
I ended my blog by saying that with the previous New Deal, the government accepted responsibility for our welfare, not just our protection. Here’s a definition for you.
Welfare: social effort designed to promote the basic physical and material well-being of people in need. That's important to know because that's what this proposal is all about.
The title “Green” implies that this document is solely about climate change but that’s not correct. It’s much broader than that. The Green New Deal isn’t just about preventing droughts, floods and hurricanes. It’s a vision to address the collapse of the middle class, the escalation of healthcare costs, the stabilization our economy. It proposes to rein in the military, protect our personal liberties and support the local media.
Where did the term New Green Deal come from?
According to Wikipedia, Thomas Friedman was one of the earlier users of the term. He was a journalist for The New York Times and The New York Times Magazine. In 2007, he wrote, “If you have put a windmill in your yard or some solar panels on your roof, bless your heart.” He went on to explain that it will take more than those minor adaptations and that we needed a New Deal but a green version.
Different organizations took up the charge and the concept grew more popular. But, on February 7, 2019, things got really interesting. New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced her Green New Deal in the House and Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey introduced the companion resolution in the Senate. What they introduced was a resolution, not a bill.
What’s the difference?
A resolution is a vision statement... a call to action.
A bill can become a law.
So what was the big deal? This resolution was the first time this list of goals, modeled after the New Deal, was formally introduced in Congress. And boy, did it get everyone’s attention.
The Green New Deal (GND) has several goals.
As expected, everyone has an opinion about the resolution.
First, President Trump tweeted:
“I think it is very important for the Democrats to press forward with their Green New Deal. It would be great for the so-called “Carbon Footprint” to permanently eliminate all Planes, Cars, Cows, Oil, Gas & the Military- even if no other country would do the same. Brilliant!
Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the House) called it "a green dream".
And imagine what those disbelievers in climate change think....
Ocasio-Cortez addressed that issue in a video…“At this point, we don’t even have to prove it. Just walk outside in the winter in a lot of places, and its either way worse than you’re used to or way warmer than you’re used to.”
The New Deal was costly and this Green New Deal sounds even more expensive. Some people have expressed concern that it could bankrupt us. Jeffrey Sachs, in an article on Feb 26, said, “These claims are dead wrong. The Green New Deal agenda is both feasible and affordable. This will become clear as the agenda is turned into specific legislation for energy, health care, higher education, and more.”
A lot of articles have been written both in support and opposition. That happened as FDR was unrolling his New Deal too. But this proposal is bigger and more wide-sweeping. The whole plan is wildly audacious, even to those that support some of the principals. And that makes it likely to fail. Bipartisan support for all of those issues?
So, was the whole thing a waste of time. ...Maybe not.
If the idea was to point attention to the climate, it worked. Prior to now, there hasn't been much discussion and that meant a lot of people didn't take the subject seriously. But, it's a Big Deal.
Senator Tom Carper said, "Climate change is real, human activity during the last century is the dominant cause of the climate crisis: and the United States and Congress should take immediate action to address the challenge of climate change."
Diane Feinstein wants to introduce her own alternative proposal and Nancy Pelosi believes that a resolution is not the best way to handle this situation and instead it should be a law.
I'm keeping my eye on this Green New Deal!
Have you heard about the New Green Deal?
I confess, I was feeling like I should review the old one before I spent too much time on the new one. It’s pretty interesting stuff and it all started with Mark Twain (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer).
Samuel Clemens, also known as Mark Twain, wrote about the river pilots forcing the steamboat owners to meet their wage demands and recognize their union in his memoir Life on the Mississippi. It was a pivotal experience and he wrote about it again, this time in fiction, in his book A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court:
“…here I was, in a country where a right to say how the country should be governed was restricted to six persons in each thousand of its population…I was to become a stockholder in a corporation where nine hundred and ninety-four of the members furnished all the money and did all the work, and the other six elected themselves as a permanent board of direction and took all the dividends. It seemed to me that what the nine hundred and ninety-four dupes needed was a new deal.”
Twain was a supporter of workers and unions. At his regular Monday Evening Club, Twain gave a speech praising the Knights of Labor (KOL). Founded in 1869, the KOL was was the first labor organization in the United States. It originated in secret and was designed to protect its members from retaliation from their employers.
From that day on, Labor leaders used Twain’s quote from his Connecticut Yankee book as an inspiration to union members.
Did I mention that Connecticut Yankee was one of Franklin D Roosevelt’s favorite books?
Let's fast forward to when FDR accepted the Democratic nomination for the President of the US. According to independent producer John McDonough in The Birth of a New Deal, in his final paragraph of his acceptance FDR said:
I pledge myself to a new deal for the American people.
So, now you know where FDR got his inspiration. But where did the concept for the New Deal come from?
Let me tell you a little about his wife, Eleanor.
Elenor was orphaned at a young age, married FDR against the wishes of his mother and then her husband had an affair. Her home life sounded pretty miserable and as Wikipedia says, “she resolved to seek fulfillment in a public life of her own.”
She was an outspoken woman who gave speeches and made public appearances. Even worse—sometimes she publicly disagreed with her husband. In short, she was not the typical First Lady.
Eleanor was a great supporter of civil rights for African-Americans, Women’s rights…in fact, all Human rights. (She served as the first chair for the United Nations Commission on Human Rights)
Eleanor, along with several other women (Nancy Cook, Marion Dickerman and Caroline O’Day), opened up Val-Kill Industries in 1926, a non-profit furniture factory in Hyde Park, New York. The goal of the business was to employ young men and supplement farmer’s incomes by making early American furniture replicas.
They created jobs in order to help those in need. Interesting, right?
The stock market crashed in 1929, losing 90% of its value. Unemployment was sky-rocketing, the economy was failing and the financial system was in danger of collapse. Franklin Roosevelt had to do something. During his first one hundred days in office, he:
Held fireside chats and urged people to put their money back in banks.
Stopped Prohibition. (Thank you, sir)
Enabled the federal government to build dams to control flooding and provide power to rural areas in Tennessee. (TVA)
Gave commodities to farmers to end surpluses and boost prices.
The economy increased but it was not enough. The country was still in a depression.
So he launched even more programs:
The Workers Progress Administration (WPA) created jobs building bridges, schools and highways. (Thank you, Eleanor)
Social Security was created to provide pensions to workers and federal government support to dependents and the disabled.
Loans were made to farmers.
Public housing was created and the US minimal wage was increased.
Did it work to pull us out of the Great Depression?
Historians still debate this. Those that supported it (Liberals) felt that it did while those against (Conservatives) disagreed.
It’s hard to say because in 1941, Pearl Harbor was bombed, and our country was thrown into a war. And war means lots of jobs and lots of money spent on industries supporting the war—so our country recovered.
What is the legacy of the New Deal?
Many may argue about how effective the New Deal was in restoring our country but most historians agree that the New Deal instituted the following changes:
-The New Deal dramatically increased the power of the federal government and the President.
-It made a commitment to the people to attend to their welfare, not just their safety.
What is welfare anyway?
Definition: statutory procedure or social effort designed to promote the basic physical and material well-being of people in need.
I bet that last part’s important when we consider the New Green Deal.