Letter to Editor: Time to Wake Up our Gateway

With brilliant autumn colors of the Eastern Shore giving way to the somber approach of winter, gardeners are putting their plants to bed. We trim and mulch, add leaves and compost to feed the soil, and await the wonder of warm weather and spring blooms. Does anyone remember when the three traffic islands at the intersection of St. Michaels Road and the Bypass had plantings?

Some years ago, the State Highway folks decided to remove the plants and install grass. What we have been left with is dull, often dead, and uninteresting streetscape at a prominent point of entry to both St. Michaels and Easton. Surely this gateway deserves a more welcoming and attractive statement.

While not a safe area for local gardeners to tend, because of the traffic, the state should do better. Many diverse plants can tolerate the environment of this intersection. Perhaps too dangerous for attracting some pollinators, like butterflies, the location could still showcase native plants with color and interest.

The Eastern Shore has amazing biodiversity, and promoting it at this unique site would cheer residents as well as the many visitors passing through. I have found only deaf ears.

Ann Hymes
St. Michaels

Letter to Editor: Harris Flip-Flops on Deficit-Spending to Support Corporate Tax Giveaway

Talbot Rising, an Eastern Shore nonprofit progressive group, is demanding that Rep. Andy Harris (MD-01) explain why he is flip-flopping on deficit-spending to support the new House tax plan that raises the deficit by an estimated $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years while enriching corporations and hurting local taxpayers.

“Congressman Harris is betraying his constituents by supporting a corporate tax giveaway at the expense of Maryland residents. Who is he really representing? His constituents – or the big-money donors to his campaign? ” asked Robert Tiernan, a spokesman for Talbot Rising. “The House GOP tax bill hurts middle-class taxpayers by eliminating important deductions for college loans, medical expenses, and most of all state and local taxes. The bill would also damage the housing market on the Eastern Shore and hurt the construction industry with changes to mortgage deductions and property taxes.”

For years, Harris has presented Powerpoint slides complaining about the deficit, but now Harris has sold out to corporate interests to explode the deficit. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, in fact, says many middle-class families will end up paying more taxes.

In this Republican plan, corporate taxes are slashed. The estate tax is whacked, benefiting only the very wealthy. The alternative minimum tax, designed to make sure the wealthy pay their fair share, is gone.

Rep. Harris owes the 700,000 people of the First District a full explanation instead of a 100-word statement.

Here are some questions Harris must answer:

Why is he supporting a bill that bestows on companies a huge tax cut with no assurance it will be used to create jobs at home instead of providing smart research and employment-growth incentives?

Why does he support raising the bottom tax rate from 10 percent to 12 percent and eliminating medical expense deductions — while cutting the estate tax and AMT for wealthy families?

Why is Andy Harris selling out local Maryland communities by getting rid of the deduction for state and local taxes? In Maryland, state and local income tax totaled more than $8.5 billion, 10 times the amount of property taxes, which also faces limits.

Rep. Harris owes the 700,000 people of the First District a full explanation instead of a 100-word statement. In a town hall meeting nine months ago, his only one on the Eastern Shore this year, he promised to hold another general meeting on any major legislation.
We’re waiting, Congressman.

Bob Tiernan
Talbot Rising
Talbot County, Maryland

Letter to Editor: Thinking Twice About Senior Centers

Dear Greatest Generation, Silent Generation, Baby Boomers,

First, allow me to apologize about my opinion of senior centers. To be honest, I really wasn’t quite sure what happened behind the secret walls of such an organization but the name “senior center” allowed me to form an opinion and one that wasn’t very vibrant. I have great respect for my seniors but a senior center didn’t spawn any excitement for me.

I had never known any seniors to go to a senior center. Because of that, I was under the impression senior centers might be a bit stagnant. About three years ago I was visiting a dear friend from high school and her mother came by to say hello (as I knew her mother from “back in the day”). Her mother, Michelle, was sharing with me all the time she spends at her local senior center. I didn’t think to ask more questions relating to what she would do at the center or how she would spend her time, rather I took the opportunity to privately think to myself, “That’s odd, I’m amazed that someone like Michelle goes to her local senior center.” Michelle was active, educated, and was always up for a good debate. What would “she” be doing at her local senior center? My attention was redirected to something else so I did not continue to explore this private conversation with myself.

Fast forward three years. A woman I had known while working on a volunteer board from years prior contacted me. Childlene Brooks was now the manager of the local senior center, Brookletts Place – Talbot Senor Center. She reached out to me as her Center was needing some marketing and PR support to get the word out about a significant fundraiser campaign, raise awareness in general about the Center, and to report to an advisory committee to complete marketing items needed for a national accreditation in which they planned to apply.

I had never been in Brookletts Place – Talbot Senior Center but knew where it was and appreciated the manicured exterior. I was happy that Childlene had reached out to me for both professional and personal reasons and I was excited about the project – although I didn’t know what to expect. I did think that we might do a brochure or two for them and spruce up their website but nothing “high level.”

WAS. I. WRONG. Brookletts Place has a number of advisory committees, staff, volunteers, strategic partnerships and relationships, members, and many, many moving parts. The marketing and public relations that Brookletts Place required was equal to that of a medium-sized business my agency would serve. I was truly amazed.

I would like to state at this time that as of the date writing this blog, I have only experienced one senior center, Brookletts Place – Talbot Senior Center. I know I can’t assume that all senior centers are the same and I am sure different levels of funding for respective senior centers greatly affects available programs and services. However, I would like to assume that although all senior centers might not mimic Brookletts Place, I think that the energy, camaraderie, and overall spirit are similar as other senior centers around the nation.

Brookletts Place – Talbot Senior Center has greatly changed my opinion about senior centers to the extent that I look forward to aging gracefully and becoming a member of the senior center near where I am living in my early 60s. I would hope to participate in the line dancing classes, listen to thought-provoking lectures, and be a volunteer at that center for many years thereafter.

Two things have fascinated me about the senior center. First, the plethora of programs and services offered to the members was actually overwhelming – in a good way. I absolutely couldn’t believe the breadth and depth of options available to a member. Want to go on a cruise to Alaska? No problem! Want to play Wii Bowling? Come on in? Want to try Tai Chi? Just sign up! Want to help volunteer to deliver meals on behalf of the local Meals on Wheels program? We would love to have you! Need help with some legal issues? We can direct you to the right session, person, or group that can help! The list goes on. My agency designed and developed the Center’s new website (www.brooklettsplace.org). The number of pages dedicated to describing all the details relating to meals, services, programs, resources, events, trips, and classes was 30 pages – 30 PAGES!

The second thing that amazed me was entering an organization where I was the minority and one that was able to observe the membership. My only other exposure to observing a group of seniors is when I would visit family in the convent. I recognize the group of nuns I would observe weren’t in a senior center but nonetheless it had been my only exposure of observing a group of seniors. What I have learned through my many visits to the senior center to participate in meetings, make deliveries, pick up materials, etc. is that the seniors as a group are just as wild, crazy, intelligent, mischievous, passionate, warm, and welcoming as I imagine respective collective groups of Generation X’ers, Millennials, or Generation Z’ers would be.

I shall close this letter to you repeating my apology. I apologize 1) for creating an uniformed opinion of senior centers prior to stepping into one and 2) pre-judging how members of a senior center would conduct themselves, act, or behave in what I thought used to be a “secret society.”

I was completely incorrect on both fronts.

Mary Ann Henker
Talbot County

 

Letter to Editor: But How Did We Get Here?

Despite the hardships they may have faced, our nation’s settlers could be compared to lottery winners. Land ownership was a measure of our wealth, and the Land Ordinance of 1785, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, and the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 promoted “an empire of liberty” through broad land ownership at bargain prices. The Homestead Act of 1862 offered land at no cost, and the Enlarged Homestead Act of 1865 doubled the acreage.

Opportunity was ours, and we owe our forefathers a large debt of gratitude. Aristocrats claimed title to the land settled in South America. Our founding fathers revolted not only against taxation without representation, they made a revolutionary departure from a tradition of aristocratic oligarchy, and the United States of America would become the greatest nation on earth.

There were bumps in the road. From the ashes of our Civil War, we would transition from a predominantly agrarian society into an industrialized society. Our wealth doubled during the Industrial Revolution, but fewer winners made it into our Gilded Age. Labor unions gained ground following WWI, but market speculation ended in the Crash of 1929. We suffered our Great Depression.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal of 1933 included public works and financial reform. There were objections to government intrusion and an 8 percent increase in government spending, but WWII would increase spending by 52 percent. We also experienced levels of economic growth only dreamed of today, and would elect more Democrats and only a Democratic Congress over the next 3 decades.

Our veterans worked hard and pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, but were offered a hand up at the starting line. Their education was free. VA mortgages made homes affordable, and wages supported a family. Our middle class became the wealthiest on earth during our nation’s Golden Age.

We were also paying down an enormous war debt, and likely complained about taxes as we piled our families into our new cars and headed out to dinner and a movie. I had wondered at this phenomenon at a family gathering, but those taking these complaints seriously had Frederich Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom.” The “conservative bible” warned against government intervention.

Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead” soon followed, also rejecting “collectivism.” Rand Paul was named for Ms. Ayn, but by 1973 journalist Irving Crystal had become the “godfather of neoconservatism.” Embracing supply side economics and the concept that tax cuts pay for themselves, he would later acknowledge a “cavalier attitude toward budget deficits,” but prioritize “political effectiveness over government accounting deficiencies.”

In other words, trickle down hadn’t worked, but one might claim it does. That message would persist, and the party that had led us into our Great Depression would create 2.5 times more debt as a share of our economy, advise us “deficits don’t matter,” and lead us into our Great Recession.

Since WWII Democratic administrations have, without exception, reduced budget deficits. Yes, even President Obama.

Jobs and wages top our list of concerns, though. Plowing through government data, we also find that since WWII nearly 3 times as many jobs have been created during Democratic administrations, wages and median household incomes increased more and faster, and minimum wages were up 16 cents annually versus 6 cents.

We’re all about business by now, and our bottom line is that our economy has grown more and we have all done better during Democratic administrations. Economists Blinder and Watson made our job easier by presenting undisputed government data, acknowledging economic cycles, and confirming that since WWII our economy has performed better by every positive economic measure during Democratic administrations.

This outcome may have been foretold in 1792. Record keeping was spotty then, but we chose the “tyranny of democracy” over the tyranny of aristocratic oligarchy, and our bill to revive our cod industry required everyone from the cabin boy to the captain to share in the profits.

Examining the eternal struggle between personal freedoms and a civilized society, William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” was published in 1954 and remained on required reading lists in 1980; yet we would be led into the Republican Revolution. We got tax cuts, and while our government is spending less as a share of our economy than other industrialized nations, it is not yet “small enough to drown in a bathtub.” We are being promised our “biggest tax cuts ever.”

As CEO compensation is reaching hundreds and even thousands of times the wages of average employees, and McDonald’s CEO recently tripled his multi-million dollar compensation package in just one year as taxpayers supplement employees’ wages, it’s hardly surprising to find that the 1 percent of us that amassed 40 percent of our nation’s wealth heading into our Great Depression is closing in upon than level once again.

We’re angry, and perhaps understandably have elected a president who is embracing the politics of division, tweeting “alternative facts,” and taking credit for deals made before he took office, magazine covers that don’t exist, phone calls he hasn’t received, and a nation called “Nambia.”

President Trump has advised, “When the president says it, that means it’s true.” We have no idea how frequently his “great friend” Carl Icahn is visiting, though. The White House visitors’ log has been done away with.

President Obama apologized for his misstatement, the one quoted so frequently, and advised, “Democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency.” We have his birth certificate, his White House visitors’ log, records of those meetings, his tax returns, and millions more of us are at least seeing a doctor.

Accountability would be timely. William Jennings Bryan observed over a century ago, “There are those who believe that if you legislate to make the well-to-do prosper, their prosperity will leak through onto those below. The Democratic idea, however, is that if you legislate to make the masses prosper, prosperity finds its way up through every class.”

That’s what we have experienced in the United States of America. We all do better when we all do better, and achieving the highest level of income disparity in the industrialized world isn’t serving us well.

Thomas Jefferson feared an “aristocracy of our monied corporations,” and advised us to “leave no authority existing that is not responsible to the people.” He may have sensed that while capitalism is vital to our economy, working together for a strong middle class nets positive results, while moving in the opposite direction results in the dysfunction we’re experiencing today.

Our forefathers did their part to promote the general welfare. Now it is up to us.

Carol Voyles
Treasurer, Talbot County Democratic Central Committee
Board member. Talbot County Democratic Forum

 

Letter to Editor: Concerns over Darby Farm Future in Royal Oak

I am writing on  a matter that carries potentially grave consequences to the neighborhood in which I live. I refer specifically to the village boundaries plan, the subsequent zoning and potential development on the Darby Farm property in Royal Oak.

The potential for substantial development of the 35 – 40 acres of property, if not more, in question is truly a game changing prospect for our community. You have undoubtedly heard all of the cogent arguments and I will not reiterate all of the details of each of them in this correspondence. But I will say that it would be incredibly unwise to set the stage for the development of that particular property for a number of critical reasons:

Edge Creek has been determined to be the most polluted creek in the County, with fishing restrictions already in place. Unless the County is willing to simply write off this beautiful waterway, the last thing it needs is significant development just yards from the Creek’s headwaters, further threatening its very survivability. People in our neighborhood are already asking questions like “Should we not be eating crabs caught off of our dock”, “Why is our Creek so polluted”, and “Isn’t there something we can do to improve the condition of the Creek?” And we are seriously considering setting the stage for potentially major development so close to its banks? We need to be focused instead on getting those still on septic to convert their systems, eliminate the run-off from Darby Farm and other properties along the banks, and otherwise seeking to save the Creek rather than further degrade it.

And safety of residents and visitors remains a huge issue. With single lane roads and compromised (or no) shoulders throughout the continuous area, the eventual development being considered will seriously increase the risk of more serious accidents in the area, especially for bikers and pedestrians.

The quality of life for those residing in and around the Village is the third concern I wish to highlight. Some have questioned the “right” of current residents to restrict development after “they” arrived in Royal Oak. To that I say that we welcome others to our neighborhood; it is the type of development and density that is being considered by some that concerns us. I understand that the boundaries plan itself is actually favorable in this regard; it is the potential future development at 4:1 on that certain portion of the property that concerns us. I can’t even imagine the level of our angst if more than the 35 – 40 acres could be zoned at 4:1.

In conclusion, allow me to request that you not recommend or support any plans that are likely to set the stage for the catastrophe of converting Royal Oak into everything it is NOT today. I do so on behalf of so many other residents that are less vocal, but no less outraged by the prospect of the life changing developments being considered by some for the future of Royal Oak.

Thank you so much for your patience and consideration in reading this lengthy email, and for your dedicated and ongoing service to our beloved County and community.

Len Wolf

From South of Left Field: Racist much by Jimmie Galbreath

From South of Left FieldRacist much

Truth is often unpleasant. Having grown up in the heartland of Jim Crow, the innate racism of the region was woven into me in ways that decades later I am still striving to unravel. The journey and struggle will last the rest of my life. Our society, America, is also faced with this same struggle. The evolution of any society requires factual information combined with critical self-examination.

Emotional responses will occur in reaction to new knowledge or awareness, and this is the moment where new understanding can be forged. Growth happens when the emotional response is examined with brutal honesty, and that which embarrasses us is accepted as being a part of who we are. Only then can we change and grow.

The Confederate States of America is such a journey for me. ‘Common knowledge’ reinforced by our limited teaching of history built a myth about the Civil War for me as a child. A genteel plantation based society of grandeur fighting nobly to continue its way of life. Great Generals and soldiers strode the field of battle against the odds, outnumbered but gaining many victories before being overwhelmed by superior numbers. They fought for ‘States Rights’ to continue self-government rather than being told how they must live by Washington.

This vision was reinforced and anchored to my reality by the monuments, flags, and celebrations. The problem was, none of it was true.

Older and better educated now, it is clear that economic self-preservation by the rich upper class that populated the state governments and wealthier professions drove us to rebel in an attempt to protect their power and wealth. A wealth-based entirely on slavery. The slaves were considered little more than animals and were treated as such. This view was reinforced from the pulpits throughout the South. I have provided a snippet from three articles of Secession laying out the reasons for leaving the United States of America.

Georgia – “For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States concerning the subject of African slavery. ”
Mississippi – “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. ”

Texas – ” She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery– the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits– a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time. ”

Now a small example from the Confederate Constitution itself – ” Article IV Section 3(3) – The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have the power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several states; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form states to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory, the institution of negro slavery as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress, and by the territorial government: and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories, shall have the right to take to such territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the states or territories of the Confederate states.”

How can there be any doubt that the Confederate States fought to preserve slavery? Because I thought of the Confederacy as a part of my heritage this hurt. Was I calling a war fought to keep slaves something I was proud of? A heritage is something of pride, a source of identity held up to honor who I was. I found nothing here deserving of honor or pride but rather regret. No wonder the claim of fighting for ‘states rights’ was used as a reason to try leaving the United States. Leaving to protect slavery was too shameful to be claimed or admitted.

Now the luster of the genteel plantation society began to show it’s an ugly truth. Human slavery was the foundation; filled with beatings, children sold out of the arms of their parents, degradation, and rape when it suited the owners. To claim this as my heritage, even though my family was not from that class, is to say this is a source of pride for me. It isn’t now.

The people whose statues are at the center of the latest tumult rejected citizenship; they were no longer citizens of the United States of America. Those generals commanded armies that fought and killed US soldiers by the hundreds of thousands. They killed American soldiers for the right to keep slaves. They were not soldiers of the United States of America.

These people and ideals should not be a source of heritage but rather a history. They belong in history texts, museums and battlefield parks. To improve us all this history needs to be displayed as the dark chapter in my family history just like it is the dark chapter in American history. Taught and displayed to encourage us all to lay to rest the roots of racism that stalk our streets today.

To many, this likely sounds harsh, but it is a literal truth. Strange as it may sound I am still subject to sudden flashes of resentment when the subject of the removal of Confederate statues comes up. Intellectually, I know the statues must be removed to a purely historical setting or melted down. They do not reflect the United States of America. They are not soldiers of the United States of America. Emotionally this child of Jim Crow has still got some growing to do.

A final note; I am disappointed to learn that the Talbot Boys retain enough support to continue to survive. It is a symbol glorifying the fight to protect slavery, lifting those who fought and killed American soldiers up as people to be glorified for their actions. The presence of this monument on county property clearly states to one and all that Talbot County as a whole has chosen to honor the effort to continue slavery by honoring those who fought to protect it. Talbot County displays no other message here.

Jimmie Galbreath is a retired Engineer originally from a small family owned a dairy farm in Jefferson County, MS. He earned a B.S in Petroleum Engineering from MS State University, accumulating 20 years Nuclear experience at Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station and Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Station. Along the way, he worked as a roustabout on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, served three years active service as a Quartermaster Officer in the US Army, Supervised brick kilns first in MS than in Atlanta GA and whatever else it took to skin the cat. He now lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Letter to Editor: The Importance of Purple in Talbot County

Over the past few months, we’ve seen tremendous enthusiasm and support for Talbot Goes Purple, our substance abuse prevention initiative. We’ve visited more than 50 community groups across Talbot County, talking about the project and spreading awareness about the dangers of recreational use of prescription painkillers.

Our stark reality is that we’re in the middle of the deadliest drug epidemic in our history and much of it starts with improper use of prescription painkillers. We’ve got to start teaching our kids these bills are basically synthetic heroin and misuse WILL lead to heroin dependency.

The good news is that our community has rallied together for Talbot Goes Purple, with hundreds of people ready to stand up against substance abuse. Countless people have reached out asking how to get involved.

Here’s how you can join us as we stand up against substance abuse:

Have the ‘new conversation’ with your kids.
Learn about the Good Samaritan Law and tell your kids about it.
Get trained on Naloxone, a life-saving medicine that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.
Share our educational messages on Facebook.
‘Go Purple’ with us on Sept. 1!

Talbot Goes Purple focuses on creating purple clubs in our high schools, through which our teens will learn they don’t need drugs or alcohol to meet life’s challenges. The project encourages our youth and our community to ‘Go Purple’ as a sign of taking a stand against substance abuse.

Purple lights are available at ED Supply in Easton, and we hope everyone can display purple lights starting Sept. 1.

To kick off the project, we invite you to our ceremonial lighting at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 18 at the Talbot County Courthouse. The following evening, Chris Herren speaks at a FREE event starting at 7 p.m. on Sept. 19 at Easton High School.

You can find more information on our website, www.talbotgoespurple.org. We hope you all join us in this fight!

Joe Gamble, Talbot County Sheriff
Lucie Hughes, Tidewater Rotary

Letter to Editor: Faith Community of Talbot County Condemns Violence in Charlottesville

We, leaders of Talbot County’s faith communities, condemn, in the strongest terms, the racism, the anti-Semitism, the anti- Muslim and the xenophobic hatred and violence brought to Charlottesville, Virginia this past weekend.

The bold actions of neo-Nazi, KKK, and other white supremacist groups were evil as measured by any standards in our diverse religious traditions.

We will not be silent. We are called to affirm the inherent worth and dignity of all, to love our neighbor, and to strive for true equity. We denounce the cowards who spew hate and who advocate against these universal values. The actions of these white supremacists, many of whom are young white men in their 20s and 30s, are destructive to the very fabric of our community and nation.

Bigotry cannot go unchecked. We call on the citizens of Talbot County to join us in condemning the actions of these individuals and these organizations. We call on elected officials to publicly and explicitly condemn white supremacy and the organizations that advance sick ideologies and practices. 

Rabbi Donald R. Berlin

Rev. Sue Browning
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Easton

Molly Burgoyne-Brian
Clerk, Third Haven Monthly Meeting

Rev. Roland C. Brown
Pastor, Union Baptist Church, Easton, MD

Fr. Kevin Cross
The Church of the Holy Trinity, Oxford

Pastor Rusty Curling

Nancy M. Dennis
Pastor, St. Stephen’s African Methodist Episcopal Church

Rev. Duke Dixon
Presbyterian Church of Easton

Michelle Hammond
For The Love 4 Health Outreach 

Rev. Dartanyon L. Hines

Rabbi Peter E. Hyman
Temple B’Nai Israel, Easton

The Right Reverend Joel Marcus Johnson
President, The Oaks of Mamre Graduate Center

Walter Johnson

Walid Kamsheh, M.D.
Islamic Center of Delmarva

Rev. John F. Keydel, Jr., Interim Rector
Christ Church St. Michaels

Vy. Rev. James Nash, V.F.
SS Peter and Paul Parish

Rev. Missy Rekitzke

Rev. Nancy Sajda, Interfaith Minister
President. P.E.A.C.E.

Rev. Dr. Flavia Skilbred
St Paul’s Lutheran Church, Cordova, MD

Rev. Dr. Wm. T. Wallace, Sr.

From South of Left Field: Shaking the Ground by Jimmie Galbreath

Lets pick up where ‘Definite Problems’ left off last week. From the chart in ‘Definite Problems’ over the last 30 years the bottom 80% of us have experienced continuingly falling income. This decline has occurred under both the Democrats and Republicans; the D-R Axis or DRAxis. Finally re-electing the DRAxis or doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is a good definition of insanity.

If you are like me the idea of being in numerous mass protests waving signs or trying to run for office is too overwhelming. Leading a political charge is just not my cup of tea, although I am anxious to vote for it. Right now it seems all the new energy is out protesting after the elections are over. This ‘after the fact’ burst of activity makes a big splash and feels good for those engaged in it, but the real power lies in what befalls down the road at the polls. So how do we take the DRAxis out behind the woodshed?

Let’s discuss what needs to happen around the backside of the woodshed. Our current existing gaggle of miscreants lives for the financial support and the wealth that they get by selling their elected power. The key words here are ‘elected power.’ As long as we can be lured into voting the DRAxis by slick media and PAC ads, then we have no power. If we don’t vote at all, we have no power. The only way to take the DRAxis behind the woodshed would be large numbers of us refusing to vote for DRAxis candidates. This approach would have a dramatic impact. Chaos would ensue even greater than the Tea Party in the Republican henhouse. The more incumbents toppled, and the more people coming in from outside the DRAxis, the harder it would be for money to get what it wants. The DRAxis would fight back of course, and there would be plenty of stalemates and raging in the press. Like any path to real reform, it would take time, stubbornness, and pain. Is anyone salivating at the thought of this fight like I am?

It is true that the fundamental structure of our Government as laid down by the Founding Fathers will always resolve itself into a two party system. There is nothing about the structure that prevents new parties from gaining power and struggling with the two parties we already have.

At least one of the existing parties has to go! The internal structure of the DRAxis has proven itself highly capable of smothering any effort at internal reform. What will not bend must be broken.

Behind the real woodshed, there will be no votes for anyone with an (R) or (D) behind their names. It doesn’t matter if the new candidates are wing-nuts as long as they are not DRAxis. Until we pave the road outside of DRAxis with votes, no quality people or parties are going to be out there for us. Set your jaw, keep casting the votes, and in time better candidates will come. Keep doing this until they do.

The thing to remember is that wing-nut laws and tax codes can be reversed and failed policies overturned. Don’t let the fear of them stop you from paving a new path for new candidates and new parties. Until we are willing to provide a path to office for better candidates, there will be no better candidates. DRAxis will not change, we must. This is especially important for those who have stopped voting. Find your rage, turn your disillusionment into rage if you need too. Don’t wait for others. Pull the lever! Fire the shot! Keep doing it!

If there are only DRAxis candidates then utterly reject the incumbent. DRAxis uses polished spin doctors to sell these people, so reject every effort to paint them as being for you. If they were, we wouldn’t need to do this. Thirty years of data does not lie! Go to the primary of your choice and fire the first shot, it is the only bullet we have in this fight. Go to the general and fire another! As an example for us here in the First District

I currently have my hopes for Ben Jealous for Governor and Michael Pullen for The House of Representatives. I happen to personally know both and trust them. Their choice to run within DRAxis is unfortunate, but like Bernie Sanders, the current landscape drives them into the DRAxis meat grinder where money and tremendous pressure has successfully co-opted so many well-meaning people before. My choice will be very hard if a non-DRAxis candidate pops up, but the road to reform must be paved with votes to defeat the DRAxis. Nothing less will do. Good people like Ben and Mike who want to support us don’t see another path because we have not been paving another path with votes.

The choice I face will be faced by a lot of us. DRAxis will not reverse our falling standard of living because they are supported, elected, and ultimately paid by the wealth. It is our own fault that this has happened. We let them buy our votes with empty promises and slick advertising.

The DRAxis committees, DNC and RNC, are funded by the wealthy. They will continue to support the wealthy gathering ever greater income at our expense. Don’t let poverty and want swallow us slowly. Don’t turn away from those already swallowed, because if this decline is not reversed, it will swallow us all.

Let’s keep taking the trip to the woodshed, year after year until….

Jimmie Galbreath is a retired Engineer originally from a small family owned dairy farm in Jefferson County, MS. He earned a B.S in Petroleum Engineering from MS State University, accumulating 20 years Nuclear experience at Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station and Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Station. Along the way he worked as a roustabout on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, served 3 years active service as a Quartermaster Officer in the US Army, Supervised brick kilns first in MS than in Atlanta GA and whatever else it took to skin the cat. He now lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

From South of Left Field: Definite Problems by Jimmie Galbreath

“People with definite plans and definite expectations have definite problems.” My Dad drove me crazy with this little gem in my early years. I still have no idea where he got it. Somehow today it seems appropriate to our fractured nation.

The internet abounds with funny, comforting little memes suggesting simplistic solutions to issues that are interconnected and complex. Build a wall, ban gays, kill someone with bombs or drones, $15 minimum wage, the simple solutions go on and on. Like a child’s mobile no one part can actually be touched without every part moving as a result. Not that leaving it alone means nothing changes, everything changes as time passes.

We live in a complex ‘system’ that changes over time. No company, no government, no economy and certainly no society is ever unchanging. Even religion changes over time. Otherwise, the Crusades, witch trials and the Inquisition would still be with us. When an imbalance in our ‘system’ rises to the point of becoming a definite problem such as police violence, mass shootings, income inequality, lack of medical care and so on the social discourse settles onto some simple solution or particular plan. These definite plans come with a definite expectation of quick resolution that is seldom met.

Let me paint a picture and see if it makes sense to you. A stable ‘system’ would have the wealthy (corporate) and general population both exerting a fairly balanced influence on the government. The government should function to regulate the opposing desires of wealth concentration on the corporate/wealthy side and a reasonable standard of living on the population side. A good measure of whether this balance exists is the degree of income inequality. After all, more income for a few equals less income for the many. If in fact jobs are being created for the betterment of the many then we should see balanced income growth with all income levels increasing about the same.

Houston, we have a definite problem. Looking at these charts, it is apparent that since about 1980 increases in income have been largely confined to the upper 20% and the rest of us have been losing income. Now comes the definite expectation, the belief that the answer to this starts with an increase in the minimum wage. Folks I hate to point this out but the minimum wage is not why the increases in income are going to the top 20%. Government guides income increase through the tax codes, not the minimum wage! This doesn’t mean the higher minimum wage is a bad idea; it means it doesn’t do anything to address the actual problem.

Here’s another definite expectation, the belief that this can or will be addressed by one of the two existing political parties. The truth is that the tax codes and laws that have tilted the ‘system’ to favor those already wealthy were enacted by these two parties. Like everyone in a capitalist economy, the Parties work for money. That is why the Democrats push for the $15 minimum wage and the Republicans push for tax breaks for business. These things don’t change the cause of the ever increasing inequality; it is just a pretense at change that has no real impact.

The existing political parties are graveyards of popular political movements from both the right and left. Don’t believe it? Ask the Tea Party where the ACA repeal is. Watch as the Democratic Party slowly tries to absorb the Bernie folks and smother them in useless quibbling and ineffective goals like the minimum wage. All the while the wealthy grow ever richer, and we grow ever poorer. The function of the Republican and Democratic Parties is to smother popular will and continue to empower the upper class. The ONLY tool left to us other than open violent revolt is our vote.

So long as we continue to vote for the same old people and same old Parties we will get the same old results. It is insanity to expect anything different. Until the angry and disaffected finally begin to vote and refuse to vote for anyone with an (R) or (D) behind their name nothing is going to change. Think the Green, Independent or Libertarian is a nut? Look at the graph again. Look at our current President. A new Party is needed, one that does not have an existing bureaucracy which is paid by the wealthy and serves to smother the popular will.

The race is on, conditions are not and will not improve so long as the Republican and Democratic Parties have the power. Wealth demands ever more wealth and will rely on the police and military to control us. Over 1,000 citizens a year are already dying under the guns of the Police. That is more than any other country on earth! We have more citizens in prison than any other country in the world and the second highest incarceration rate in the world. These things are not accidents; they are the result of desperation and oppression in a population whose standard of living is falling.

The only way to shake the foundations and hopefully usher in real change is to reject the Republican and Democratic parties completely, shatter them and throw open the doors to new blood. Take risks, seek the people who will enact law and tax code to suppress excessive wealth and rebalance the life of all Americans. If we want America to be Great again, we must create an environment that allows Americans to become Great again. Let’s level the playing field.

Jimmie Galbreath is a retired Engineer originally from a small family owned a dairy farm in Jefferson County, MS. He earned a B.S in Petroleum Engineering from MS State University, accumulating 20 years Nuclear experience at Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station and Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Station. Along the way, he worked as a roustabout on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, served three years active service as a Quartermaster Officer in the US Army, Supervised brick kilns first in MS than in Atlanta GA and whatever else it took to skin the cat. He now lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.