From South of Left Field: Re-Union by Jimmie Galbreath

Unions, now there is something we aren’t taught in school. Try this on for size, in 1619 Polish craftsmen brought to Jamestown were not allowed to partake in the Virginia colony elections. They went on strike and due to their economic importance won the right to vote. Was this action justified?

This small action reflects the meaning of collective bargaining; people who lack a right they desire to resort to collective action to get it. In this case, the government wasn’t providing the right to vote, so they took action to get rights equal to the others. Later in history women collectively marched for the right to vote. Acting collectively can mean voting or striking, depending on who and what is the issue.

Here in the United States, two major examples of politically driven inequality can be found in women gaining the right to vote and the myriad racial inequalities addressed by the Civil Rights movement. Both were collective actions to gain a right or remove an inequality. Ideally, by voting and keeping politicians focused on the welfare of the common citizen, actions such as these would not be necessary. The government should work to limit abuses such as murder, enslavement, and suppression of the right to live a reasonable and safe life.

Unions? Well now, back in the day workers in factories could be under age 7 and work 12-18 hours a day around machinery that operated without guards to prevent injury or death. The owners lived in luxury and wealth unlimited by tax law or regulation. Abject poverty was the worker’s problem, not theirs. Worker health and safety, just be careful. Dangerous fumes or chemicals? Too bad. Injured? Fired! Ah, the good ole glory days of a Greater unregulated America. This was trickle down as it worked, and ‘trickle’ is the operative word.

Snide perhaps, but actually a fair representation of the way things were before citizens, workers, and reformers began to change the status quo to provide a more favorable life for everyone. The struggle to remove children from mines and factories and provide them schooling was waged for over a century by many organizations including Unions. Their primary opposition was from businessmen and corporations working with elected officials and police.

The introduction of regulations to provide better working conditions to improve health and safety was also an effort by many groups, notably Unions. Again the opposition was businessmen, corporations, and elected officials.

To quote a great man born here in Maryland, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Frederick Douglass.

Our nation has a long history of struggle to achieve equal rights from an unequal society. Perhaps we aren’t taught real history in our schools, because if we were the long struggle from one strongpoint of resistance to another, driving toward a more equal society would be apparent. Slavery, Women’s votes, Civil Rights, LGBT rights, all are just flashpoints of conflict between the oppressed and the oppressor stretching throughout our national history but glossed over (if taught at all) in our schools. We aren’t taught an awareness of why organizations such as the NAACP or Unions came to be.

The point I seek to make here is that the life cycle of the very organizations that rose from the common worker to demand better pay and safer working conditions, that fought to send our children to school rather than a factory or mine is dying. Not because they are no longer needed, but because they have been demonized and broken by our politicians. An outstanding example of this was Ronald Reagan firing the Air Traffic Controllers in 1981 when they refused to return to work from their Union’s strike. Not content with firing, he barred them for life from working for Civil Service. Recently many states under Republican control have passed laws preventing citizens from collectively bargaining for better wages or working conditions. For example, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Texas and Virginia won’t even let teachers bargain for better pay or working conditions.

These are dangerous trends because there is little difference between collective bargaining, collectively protesting, or collectively voting. Please pause and consider that this effort is one to limit or outlaw us from acting collectively. Politicians (the tools of wealth) start by demonizing Unions, using ‘shoot from the hip’ claims of Unions being controlled by organized crime, is made up of communists or socialists (they are actually different things), or of hurting business.

Unions were born because the wealth generated by an industrializing America was retained by the owners and little or nothing was shared with the workers. Unions were formed to free children from dangerous jobs. Unions were formed to improve safety in the work place. Unions were formed because the elected politicians failed to do any of this until their backs were pushed against the wall.

The bottom line is this, the time to begin to swing the pendulum away from government favoring the wealthy and back to government improving the lot of the general working population has arrived. Unions can help. Corporations will not.

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.

Letter to a Friend by Jamie Kirkpatrick

Dear Marty:

Sorry this is late. I wish I had sent it a week ago when you were still here. Better yet, I should have delivered it by hand—I would like to have been there to say goodbye in person. I’m glad Furry was able to visit and let you know how much we all love you.

I remember the first time I saw you: it was opening day in the Ponce de Leon league and you showed up ready to catch. You looked like a garden gnome in a Chicago Cubs uniform, but you sure could play. You knew how to call a game; you could block balls in the dirt. You could get a bunt down. Maybe you weren’t all that quick down the line, but you were always one step ahead of everyone else on the team. You were a strategist; you knew the game; you had baseball in your Scandinavian bones. You, Mike, and I had some good years on that team. We were in our forties but we felt like kids again.

A few years later, you showed up again in my life. At Landon. The boys were in the Upper School, both fine baseball players and worthy young men. I was Drew’s assistant on the varsity then so I got to watch them develop their skills. Carl was a crafty pitcher with a nasty curveball; Neil anchored the team at shortstop. Both could hit. Before a game, I would hit fungos to the outfielders and you would catch me up. You were always loose and we would make bets on whether so-and-so would catch the next one. Sometimes, you would go warm up the pitcher or just sit in the dugout sharpening your pencils and arranging your yellow highlighters. The scorebook you kept was beyond accurate; it was an encyclopedic work of art—every pitch, every out recorded and rendered with detail and precision. I loved sitting with you, Charlie, and Furry down at the end of the bench, watching the boys play, thinking up the next prank, caring deeply about what we were doing but not taking it all to seriously. After all, it was high school baseball.

(Hey: do you remember the time when Charlie got under Drew’s skin and Drew actually threw him off the bench? His own father! OMG! Every time I think about that, I start to laugh so hard the tears come again. Even now.)

After the boys graduated and went on to college, we remained buds. I had been sent down to the JV, but you still showed up for games, keeping the book, hitting fungos, bouncing balls at the catcher in blocking drills. Thank you for doing all that. It just felt good knowing you were still there. But I wondered how you did it: after all, you had a big time law practice to tend, students of your own to teach down at Duke. I mean, really: how did you do it? How did you juggle all the big-time stuff and still find time to be fully present in my little high school life?

You were never a laugh-out-loud guy. More of a smirk and a twinkle-in-your-eye boy, but God, you were funny. Road trips with you were hysterical. More than once, we kept Drew from driving the bus off the bridge, made him laugh when he was deep in his you-know-what. You were the perfect foil; he had too much respect for you to stay mad for long even after a close loss.

As the years rolled along, we didn’t see each other as much, but we remained close. When my son came to you for advice and legal mentoring, you gave it thoughtfully and generously. I was always invited over for one of Neil’s healthy and delicious meals, followed by a wee dram or two of your good single malt from the top shelf. We’d sit around the kitchen table and it was like we were back in the dugout. Andrea would roll her eyes, but we knew she was amused. She loved you so much; hell, we all did.

So now you’re gone, but don’t worry: Charlie and I will get together and raise a maudlin glass to you soon. By now, I imagine you’ve looked up Buddy and the two of you are bantering each other again or having another fungo competition up in heaven. Your family and friends and colleagues down here miss you dearly. So do your students at Duke Law School, as well as the countless kids you coached with Dave in summer league ball over at St. Albans. If legacy is memory, yours is legion. You are an All-Star, a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. I’d give a lot for one more extra-inning game on a warm spring day in May, sitting next to you on the bench with Furry and Charlie, teasing you while you bone your old fungo with a Coke bottle, laughing so hard that I cry.

With so much love from so many of us,

Jamie

Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy magazine. “A Place to Stand,” a book of photographs and essays about Landon School, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015.  A collection of his essays titled “Musing Right Along” was released in May and is already in its second printing. Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.com.

Op-Ed: Back to School, Back to the Problem of Rural Broadband Parity by Josh Hastings

As students return to school, we are all reminded of the challenges created by gaps in broadband access in Maryland’s rural areas and beyond. The issue is not only important as we try to educate our students and future workforce, but as we try to close the prosperity gap among our rural and urban communities.

According to the Education Superhighway, a nonprofit that supports proper online learning tools, 21 million students in America’s K-12 public schools are being left behind in the ability to receive digital learning content. Twenty-three percent of U.S. school districts do not have enough bandwidth to meet the current needs for digital learning and it’s much worse for rural or low income areas.

As we strive to close that “last mile”, connecting the end-user to nearby services, let’s not forget how important broadband truly is to a thriving community.

Today’s economy is based on information and services. If we want to encourage economic development, we will need to ensure the flow of commerce and services. It will be essential to continue to expand and maintain the utility infrastructure – including broadband.

Access to information is now dramatically making the difference between a growing economy and a retracting economy – a better quality of life and a poorer quality of life – an engaged society and a divided society.

Many of us take for granted the services and amenities that accompany living in the 21st century, in a developed country; services such as the distribution of power, fuel and water, but also increasingly, access to the internet. The internet has opened up opportunities for economic growth and will continue to do so in the future.

Internet access dramatically affects commerce. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, nearly 8 out of every 10 Americans has made at least one recent online purchase and online commerce is only continuing to increase. Across the U.S., broadband connectivity is a critical component to a number of services – most notably health care. Telemedicine, being able to connect rural patients to doctors, is particularly important in areas where few physicians or specialists exist and chronic disease prevalence is high.

Our cities and rural towns are still recovering from the loss of good-paying blue collar manufacturing jobs, but what should replace those lost jobs and how do we create new ones for the economy of tomorrow? Studies show the positive impact of broadband expansion on the economy. Workers can develop new skills, children can learn, and seniors can receive better medical care. Each of these will require an accessible and reliable internet.

In a recent presentation at the 2017 Regional Rural Broadband Forum, held in Annapolis, Robert Puckett, of the New York Telecommunications Association, spoke about expansion of their infrastructure, which also included very strong pricing structures. Increasingly, the higher cost of the higher speeds present a burden to startup businesses, to large producers, and to individual residences alike.

Unfortunately, many of our underserved communities are being left out of the 21st century. Internet providers are ready to build, but can’t service households without a return on investment. Whether through government incentives or regulations, the state’s policy must address this market failure. Public private partnerships, such those that have developed in Garrett and Kent Counties, are good examples of positive approaches to this challenge and a recently created state task force will be investigating this issue in the coming months.

As obviously important as connectivity is, it’s not easy to do without greater commitments, investments, or partnerships. Let’s not leave our students, healthcare workers, small businesses, seniors, and broader rural communities behind. Let’s work together to find solutions now and let’s close the prosperity gap.

The Rural Maryland Council looks forward to working together on collaborative solutions so that broadband access will be a part of all citizens being able to live in healthy, connected, and thriving communities.

Josh Hastings
Chair, Rural Maryland Council

 

Resisting the Democratic Agenda on Higher Education: A Hill Worth Dying On by Joseph Prudhomme

I just returned from a panel discussion in San Francisco on the Republican Party in the era of President Donald Trump. A seasoned colleague on the panel mentioned that the Democratic Party increasingly sees the New York governor Andrew Cuomo as the torchbearer of progressive reform, a political maestro in the spirit of Bernie Sanders—yet a salable Sanders, a nimble politico unburdened with hoary age, a socialist self-identity, and a checkered past (of honeymoons in Communist Russia and rape fantasy porn fiction). Cuomo, my colleague averred, is a younger and fresher champion of the policy perspectives espoused by the Warren-Sanders wing of the Democratic establishment.

A core of the appeal of Cuomo is the New York policy on higher education he shepherded through the state assembly: free college education for all, an agenda the national Democratic party hopes to adopt across the country. Sounds great, right? Not so fast. There may well be genuine downsides to this new policy: quality could soon be sacrificed as the system becomes bloated, regulations could prove excessive, and the taxes needed to support the program could prove detrimental in a myriad of ways. These are each worthwhile questions and deserve our serious and careful review.

However, I hold what I believe to be a sufficiently damning critique on its own, a criticism that becomes apparent once the fine print of the New York statute bubbles to the forefront: this government give-away is only for students attending not merely in-state colleges and universities (a sensible proviso since the tax burden is borne only by New Yorkers) but for those attending a state college or university: no in-state private college or university is supported by the Governor’s vaunted legislative victory.  

This will cause a wave of destruction of small denominational colleges who simply will no longer be able to compete in a crowded higher education marketplace.  It can only lead to a tremendous “crowding out” (a term economists use to refer to state funding displacing private capital). Indeed, crowding out is precisely what happened in the United Kingdom and on the European continent. There are no longer any small denominational colleges in these regions—they are impossible to run in light of state-funded secular education.

A string of corpses will litter the New York landscape in the wake of Cuomo’s legislation. For how can Hilbert College, Canisius College or Iona College (all Catholic), or Davis College (non-denominational Christian), or Concordia College (Lutheran) survive Cuomo’s tidal wave of undercutting competition, his brutal battery of what trade economists call unfair dumping?  Many simply can’t. All will struggle.

I do not know whether the end result on denominational colleges was intended —although I would not put it past the Democratic party which labored for the bill, given the stentorian secular voices in the party’s political base. But whether intentional or not, the net result is the same: a government war on religious higher education.

A simple solution to this egregious problem is voucherizing any subsidized higher education program.  Students could receive a grant (equal to the average cost of in-state tuition) and they could apply this amount to attend any accredited in-state college of their choice. This, in fact, was precisely what was good enough for the Greatest Generation through the much-celebrated GI Bill. I hazard to say, it should be good enough for us, too. Furthermore, such a policy would leave unscathed America’s rich ecosystem of denominationally grounded college education.  At least, common sense would seem to say so.   

But reality is a bitter mistress, and common sense her hapless victim far too often.  It is just very hard to stop the government from giving people “freebies.” And the Left is culturally and politically ascendant (sensing blood in the water from a weakened president, and seeing a rapidly diversifying and secularizing society erode core foundations of the Grand Old Party); a common sense voucher program might no longer carry the day—given the identification of vouchers with the now reviled Religious Right, and a lack of concern for religion skyrocketing among core components of the Democratic political establishment.

My common sense proposal, therefore, may well prove to be a last stand, indeed.

The Democratic party’s educational policy, however, is just so plainly wrong–and a voucherized alterative just so plainly right—that I am led merely to proclaim in the words of a great man who inspired the founding of so many now-beleaguered, regional liberal arts colleges:

“here I stand; I can do no other.”

Joseph Prud’homme is a professor at Washington College, and founder of the school’s Institute for the Study of Religion, Politics, and Culture. He lives with his wife and family in Easton, Maryland. 

Op-Ed: If EPA is Prevented from Enforcing Clean Water Laws, States must Step Up

Why do we have laws? The simplest answer is to ensure order in society, where lines are drawn to govern things one cannot do, for the good of all.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “laws without enforcement are just good advice.”

Shoplifting would be rampant if there were no punishments for stealing. In the same way, we cannot expect to keep making progress in cutting pollution without implementing effective pollution control laws. Our environmental and public health safeguards are worth nothing if they are not enforced.

Even as the states face their own enforcement challenges, the Trump administration is waging an assault on the main federal agency tasked with implementing and enforcing the laws designed to protect the environment and public health. In his budget proposal for the next fiscal year, the president proposed a drastic 31 percent cut to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, including the complete elimination of funding for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup.

Many lawmakers have called the president’s budget “dead on arrival,” and the Chesapeake Bay cleanup enjoys broad public and bipartisan support. But we should not take too much comfort in that. The administration has made it abundantly clear that it intends to roll back environmental protections, and funding for programs — including millions for enforcement — is on the chopping block. In the Chesapeake Bay watershed, these actions threaten to undo much of the progress that has been made working together to reduce pollution.

That’s why, now more than ever, states need to shore up environmental protections. Fortunately, Maryland continues to push aggressively to maintain the progress that has been made. As the General Assembly wrapped up last month, lawmakers designated $400,000 in the state budget to hire inspection and compliance staff at the departments of Agriculture (MDA) and Environment (MDE). This means more funding to enforce the laws we need to restore local waterways and the Bay.

This funding is sorely needed. The MDE’s own reports show that their Water Management Administration lost more than one-third of its overall inspection staff between 2000 and 2016. Personnel resources within the MDA’s Office of Resource Conservation have remained stagnant, despite its growing obligation to make sure its crucial Bay cleanup programs, like the new phosphorus management tool, are working and on track.

The MDA’s nutrient management program had just seven inspectors in 2015 tasked with inspecting more than 5,300 agricultural operations across the state’s 12,400 square miles. It is unreasonable to expect seven people to cover all of that ground while also properly providing all of the required inspection and technical assistance services.

Without sufficient staff, the MDA and the MDE simply do not have the capacity to ensure that programs are working, that sites are inspected and lawbreakers are held accountable. It’s not good policy and it’s not fair to the taxpayers who have invested so much in cleaning up the Bay. Enforcing the laws we already have on the books is the most cost-effective way to meet the Bay states’ collective goal to reduce pollution. Maryland officials like to point to Pennsylvania and the pollution it sends our way — but if Maryland isn’t enforcing its own laws, how can it complain?

The Chesapeake Legal Alliance has provided legal support to groups fighting for clean water since 2009. With so much at risk for the Bay and its lands and waterways, local action empowered with legal support has become more important than ever. And with the halftime for the Bay cleanup upon us, the Center for Progressive Reform is working to ensure that Maryland and the other Bay states maintain their commitments to each other and to the state’s waterways.

Both of our organizations, and others, are urging the Maryland General Assembly to recognize the importance of funding inspection and compliance staff. And we’ll continue to do so as we track what the MDA and the MDE do with additional funding and pressure these agencies to meet the mandates of the environmental laws that they are tasked with enforcing.

Thanks to efforts across the watershed, the Bay is starting to show signs of improvement. Now is the time to double down – not wring our hands. If the president will not allow the EPA and other federal agencies to do their jobs and play their essential role as partners in the Bay cleanup, then states must rise to the challenge. We applaud Maryland’s lawmakers for beginning to restore funding for clean water enforcement resources and we encourage other Bay states to do the same.

Jacqueline Guild is executive director of the Chesapeake Legal Alliance. Evan Isaacson is a policy analyst for the Center for Progressive Reform. Their views do not necessarily reflect those of the Bay Journal.

From South of Left Field: Weather or Not by Jimmie Galbreath

A lifelong love of science in all forms can cause problems. As a child, it fascinated me and sadly resulted in a great deal of bullying from the other students in the rural schools I attended through junior high school. What strikes me as ridiculous and a bit confusing is that while traveling along that path I also got the idea that America as a whole respected science.

At 14 I was given a job working at Uncle Eugene’s Texaco station in Port Gibson, MS. Between time spent pumping gas, washing windshields and checking oil I began trying to total up how much gas I pumped in a day. That was the price of boredom I guess. Little did I realize the trap I was walking into.

As time progressed, my totals weren’t enough. I wondered how much the station pumped in a day or week, followed by how much was pumped in all of Port Gibson, then how much in the state? As the years rolled by into college, those questions led me to wonder how much crude oil was being produced (I was studying Petroleum Engineering toward the end), how many cubic miles was removed and on and on. Why revisit this repeatedly over the years? The driving question was how much were we doing and how big the impact because of it. I was curious.

There were other things I noticed during this same span of years. It seemed the weather was changing. As a child winter had plenty of cold days and a dusting of snow was not too uncommon. The start of school required flannel shirts with long pants. Slowly as the years rolled by, it seemed that flannel wasn’t necessary for the start of school and I still recall the profound sense of shock as first Thanksgiving then later Christmas rolled by with short sleeve weather. The first frosts came later and later over the years and snow became less frequent. Being a contrary child who from birth loved cold weather, rain, snow and fog I noticed this. Everyone else seemed fine without it.

It was geology (part of the Petroleum Engineering curriculum) that began to connect these two threads for me. Much to my surprise many of the theories of changing climate were born long ago. The earliest theory of people changing local environment is attributed to Theophrastus, a pupil of Aristotle! Weather plays a big part in forming geology, and my personal side interest in weather went there too. Having bored the reader to tears, it is time to cut to the chase and declare two firmly held beliefs. The climate is changing and we humans are driving it. The more years of interest and reading the pros and cons, the more it scares the bejesus out of me.

It is no wonder so many folks want to turn away from accepting this. What sold me on all this was the combination of personal experience and hard science. The hard part to arriving at a place like this is the internal struggle that is created. An awareness that rears its head nearly every time I drive my car or take out the trash and pokes at me saying ‘look what you are causing.’ It is so much easier to say the science is wrong or I can’t change the whole world.

So how do I handle this? First off, ‘I’ am not all that. Neither are you. If I dropped dead today the science says the changes would not stop so ‘I’ alone cannot stop it nor am I causing this. What I am doing is contributing and that I can change to reduce my impact. Being aware and caring causes me to make small changes. Living with awareness is the same as sharing awareness through actions and occasional words. Like so many unpopular endeavors climate change may be best shown in this way to those with closed attitudes toward the science.

In my new home in Maryland when I get a chance to talk to those with life long experience here I often hear similar observations. The fall and spring is warmer and shorter than decades ago. These changes span the globe and can be seen in photographs, graphs, and satellite pictures.

Does it really matter if we believe in human driven climate change? Well, the science, the weather, and the earth itself don’t care what we think about it. Opinion does not change the inevitable march of nature and there will be a reckoning for the changes we are making. There are measurable changes on land, sea and in the air whose ultimate consequences we can only guess. Every time I listen to the remake of ‘The Sound of Silence’ by Disturbed this entire issue comes to mind.

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 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.

Op-Ed: The Right Solution to Our “Talbot Boys” Problem by Dan Watson

The “Talbot Boys,” standing tall in front of our Court House, loom over Talbot County fraught with symbolism that divides us.

This statue is indeed part of our history and heritage–and as it is tied to race, it is especially important that this statue remain at the Courthouse, to remind us how central race relations are to our local community. We forget history at our peril. I agree with those who say we must keep it, because we can not and should not erase history

And we also know this statue it is a deeply offensive symbol of slavery and racial dominance, paying homage to a particular group of men (some who were even “come heres” after that War) who fought against our Nation in support of slavery and human bondage. Honoring these men today, and indirectly honoring the cause for which they took up arms, is morally offensive, and by no means only to our black brothers and sisters.

Here is the right solution: we keep the Talbot Boys statue on the Courthouse grounds, but present it in a totally new manner, as part of a dignified and honest display of the racial history in Talbot County. Being quite serious about this proposal, and notwithstanding that I am no landscape architect, I want to lay out this concept in some detail.

There is a walkway heading south from Federal Street, along the back side of the Court House. Along that path, we install seven small exhibits (maybe just an informative plaque with a photo or two, and maybe a single artifact at each stop). illustratively, I’d suggest these as appropriate chapters telling all so briefly an accurate story of race relations in Talbot County:

1636-1861: Slavery…and Free Blacks. We tell of bondage and suffering, our nation’s original sin if ever we had one. Mentioned also is Easton’s Hill District, where free blacks built a small community. Links of chain are not too harsh to represent this darkest of chapters.

1861-1865: War, Blue and Grey. We tell of men from Talbot County who went to war, mostly for the Union, a sizable minority for the Confederacy. Artifact—perhaps a cannon.

1865-1895: Recovery. We tell of the quiet spell, the hangover, as rural Talbot adjusts—or not—to a new basis of relations between whites and blacks. Is an old plow an appropriate fixture?

1895-1960: Jim Crow and Resurgence of The Lost Cause. We tell the truth of the rise of de jure alongside de facto segregation, and the extreme social, political, and cultural dominance of whites in this era. The proper artifact for at this stop, of course, is the Talbot Boys statue, presented anew as I’ll discuss below, and perhaps the story of how it came to be erected. The Talbot Boys, of course, is all about 1914, not 1865.

1960-1970: Civil Rights Ascendant: Explain how the civil rights movement was manifest in Talbot in the context of the nation’s experience, and our neighboring town of Cambridge. Artifact? A stool from a soda fountain works for me.

1970-2018: Progress and Tension: The hardest chapter to write, as we’re too close. Without question enormous progress has been made in race relations over a half-century. Some are pleased and self-satisfied, claiming things are fine. Most others know that daily injustices and race-based problems remain. What is the right artifact for this era? I’m not sure.

2018-________: The Future–Black and Brown and White Together. I think this starts by recounting the removal of the Talbot Boys from the place of honor in front of the Courthouse to its proper spot along “the path of race relations” in Talbot. It is an event of significance and promise. And importantly, we need to tell of the relatively new members of our community from Latin America and elsewhere—a new thread in the tapestry. Then we just leave the rest of this plaque blank, so our children have someplace to write the story of how they saw us live our lives among people of different colors.

All this is done in brief of course, and refers visitors to other resources around the County, like the Talbot Historical Society and the library right across West Street.

Now, as to the Talbot Boys statue itself. The problem in my opinion is not with the thing per se; it is that it stands in a place of honor, public honor. That is fundamentally what must change. The thing needs to be desanctified, made secular. (And that is not an act of disrespect to descendents of those families, whose sensibilities do not in my opinion trump the public’s need to get this right in any event.)

The statue is comprised of 3 elements. The 2’ high base stays where it is, and is repurposed—and not for statuary. The pedestal and statue are moved to the right spot along the pathway described (set far back against the wall perhaps), and the statue comes off the pedestal. Keep the large stone with the names—those men were who they were. And keep that boy and his furled flag, but at ground level, not raised in glory. Let folks take note how those in power in 1914 wished to glorify the past, perhaps to assert a renewed confidence in their own dominion.

A couple of final thoughts. I think this installation would be a boon. Talbot County is a great place, and it’s not just the land and the water. While other towns and cities are removing statues in the dark of night, or providing backdrop to riot and violence, Talbot County can make a different statement. We embrace our history, we are truthful and respectful of our history, and we’re moving forward, not stuck in the past. And we know how to compromise, in order to reach workable solutions.

As to the cost of all this? Well, this County Council has so far been unimaginative, embarrassingly unable to deal with the Talbot Boys. So I have little confidence they can find a way to finance it, even though grants should abound. If they can’t come up with the money, you know others in the community can.

Dan Watson, a 20 year resident of Easton, operated a small commercial real estate development in Baltimore and also was the major financial backer and CFO of a successful healthcare IT company. He serves on the boards of Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy and Talbot Mentors. Dan graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in American Studies and received his MBA from Wharton.

Upcoming financial issues best handled by Congress, not Wall Street by Robert Ketcham

Events this September will be a key test for our Republican Congress—the land of Oz needs them to step up and shoulder the burden of governing.

The first agenda item is the debt ceiling. It needs to be passed by the end of September. On Monday, August 21st the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there was “zero chance—no chance” that Congress would fail to raise the debt ceiling although he offered no clues about how that would be achieved. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has requested a “clean increase”- a bill similar to what has been passed as many as 80 times since 1960.

The debt limit was first established in 1917 to facilitate Congress’ ability to raise money on the eve of America’s entry into WWI. Before that short-term debt instruments had to be specifically legislated, even for specific appropriations. From the time a debt limit was first established the members of Congress have understood that the debt limit was a legislative act required to ratify the debt that their previous legislative actions had obligated the country to pay. These amounts are contained in the Budget that has been approved, in Appropriations bills passed and signed into law, and in “Entitlements” like Social Security and Medicaid that have already been voted on.

For a few years now the vote on the debt ceiling has been mischaracterized by some feckless Republicans as a vote to add more debt obligations, a statement that is simply not true. Since 1960, whenever the debt ceiling bill was brought up in the House or Senate there were usually partisan votes, mostly predicted by the party affiliation of the incumbent president. But it was well known to be a legislative charade without consequences since it was understood by whichever leadership was running the show that they had the votes to pass it when the vote was called. Members have a history of posturing during debate on both sides of the issue. Congressional leaders such as Nancy Pelosi, the then Senator Barack Obama, John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell each engaged in their own political debt ceiling drama.

But things changed starting in 2011. At that time Republican obstructionists decided to create legislative havoc and terrorize the Obama Administration by demanding unilateral policy changes in return for preserving the full faith and credit of the US. Some readers will remember the name Eric Cantor, the former House Majority Leader from Virginia who sought radical policy changes with his threat: to either cave into House Republican demands or there would be a default.

Last Monday’s statement by Mitch McConnell, the very leader so maligned by President Trump, is a hopeful sign that the Republican Congress is planning to get its act together and carry out its legislative duties in a responsible adult manner. If this turns out to be so, it will constitute a major policy shift. It should be noted that Democratic members also will be put on the spot. It is my hope that they will act in a bi-partisan manner and vote for the debt limit, and honor their obligation to continue funding for programs already legislated.

Republican leaders have their work cut out for them. A real leadership test is coming up. The Senate Majority Leader has stepped up, and the Treasury Secretary. House Speaker Paul Ryan, whose support is essential, has been around long enough to have been involved when former Speaker Boehner had his troubles with Eric Cantor and other conservative House Republicans. Ryan will also be tested. On Thursday, August 24, Speaker Ryan stated “there are many different options in front of us on how we achieve that,” he added. “We pay our debts in this country. We will continue to do so.”

The Republican congressmen who previously adopted or supported the tactics of obstruction will have to change their stripes. It is their party which is in power now, and with that power comes responsibility to govern. Not only should it dawn on these congressmen, but it surely will also be a standard that their constituents will require—just look what happened to Eric Cantor who went from being Majority Leader to losing his next primary!

Thus the first test for the Congress in September, as I see it, is to pass the Debt Ceiling bill, and get that business out of the way. Armed with that first success, they must then tackle the budget itself and several key pieces of legislation that are required for immediate action. Stay tuned. September will be a busy month for the Congress even without President Trump’s twitters and speeches. It remains to be seen if Congress can pull off the needed success in spite of him. It’s a tall order. And, waiting in the wings is the Republican’s stated interest in tax reform. If the Republican Congress demonstrates it can work together with Congressional Democrats to accomplish its key legislative business this fall, then this path will open up the possibility of tackling the issues involved in tax reform.

Reforming the United States tax code is an enormous undertaking even in normal times; the complexity of the task is usually stated as the reason why it’s been some twenty years since it was last accomplished. So many competing interests have a stake, therefore taking on tax reform requires an enormous commitment of time and hard work. To do it right will require regular legislative order, with many many hearings, followed by many many markups, then floor consideration, including amendments, passage in both houses then a House-Senate conference, and then the final passage in both houses. This kind of legislative hard work to produce good legislation has been sabotaged for the last eight years. Ironically, the last time Congress took on anything nearly this complicated was the Affordable Care Act, which may be no model at all since in the end it was adopted without bipartisan support.

In this first year of a new Republican administration, everything hangs in the balance until something positive happens in the Congress. Timely passage of the Debt Ceiling can get things started. At present we have to hope that our elected legislators in the Congress will find a way to work together for the common good to fill the leadership void, and by their actions provide the needed proof of who we really are as a nation.

Robert Ketcham served as the chief of staff of the US House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology and staff director of the Fossil and Nuclear Energy Subcommittee during the 1980s and 1990s. Prior to those positions, he was Special Counsel to the House Select Committee on Committees chaired by Richard Bolling (D-MO).  He holds a BA and JD from Washington and Lee University as well as a SG from Harvard University’s Senior Managers in Government Program. He has lived in Easton since 1999 with his wife, Caroline.

 

Joy and Certainty by Craig Fuller

Seems like the certainty of experiencing a joyful moment has been in short supply in recent months. Perhaps this explains why so many of us were moved as we experienced the total solar eclipse this week.

While many experienced it in groups and crowds (the NEW YORK TIMES captured some great examples)  others watched with a few friends and family. Our choice was to travel to the Tred Avon River, anchor and enjoy lunch while experiencing the eclipse over about two hours. Yes, my wife and I had the special glasses and watching was part of the experience. But, so was feeling the breeze cool and the river gets a little darker.

The whole event was more moving than I expected and more of a national experience based on the extensive news coverage than I would have imagined.

As I thought about this, it struck me that thanks to science we had been told what would happen, when it would happen and where it would happen. And, it happened just the way we’d been told. And, that simply no longer happens very often!

Then, there was a pull to actually go experience it. This was a case where just watching on television was not going to be sufficient. So, people flew and drove to areas where the eclipse would be total and we marveled at how the last time people stood (or, in our case floated) and shared the experience was in 1918.

All of these factors combined to make a moment simply joyful. Whether watching alone or amidst hundreds, even thousands, a joyful moment moved millions to smile, cheer and, I suspect, reflect on a few universal thoughts.

As we returned, my thoughts went to how in these very uncertain times one still finds certainty and joyful moments are available to be cherished. Whether dining with friends or a loved one; or, enjoying the greeting you get from a dog when you enter the house; or, just watching a sunrise or sunset here in Talbot County, these moments are certain to bring a measure of joy. I pledged to myself to be more mindful about seeing the joy in each day if only to provide more balance to the chaos and uncertainty that visits us.

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.

The Sounds of Racism by Fran White

The sounds of Racism resounds in the image above and if we add lyrics to this depiction of rage and racism, the following words from the production, SOUTH PACIFIC, could accompany the horrific concerto that was heard:

You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught as sung by Ensign Cable in his role as the conflicted lover of a young Polynesian girl in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s production; You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear. You’ve got to be taught from year to year.”

These very enraged people in the photo, members of the KKK and other supporters of racism have been carefully taught to hate and fear others of different races, facial features, religion and sexual orientation. They are demonstrating a legacy passed onto them from their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and on and on in the family tree.

Racism cannot be eradicated by legislation, nor the destruction of Confederate statues and monuments since these beliefs are so ingrained into the soul and collective unconscious of these racists. Only through their awareness of such destructive beliefs and the motivation, on the part of the racist, can this cancerous, destructive and hateful legacy be finally destroyed. This is a daunting and, perhaps, an unrealistic expectation since racist are so conditioned to believe and follow the expectations of generations of their families who have rewarded their behavior with love and encouragement.

Perhaps, if some of those photographed racists would be aware of the destruction of lives impacted by their irrational behavior and subsequently take ownership of the death of that beautiful young woman in Virginia who was attempting to peacefully change their generational beliefs, their hate, and fears. This quest to eradicate this embedded cancer of racism appears to be almost impossible since this evil has been with us since the beginning of time when human enslavement did accompany racist ideology, and this identical evil was exhibited in the concerto of rage orchestrated in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The cure for this social cancer is for each one of us to attempt to peacefully and cleverly teach, one racist at a time, one despicable deed at a time, not to fear and hate. Yes, this is a monumental task to “unteach” generational ideology and emotionally imbedded beliefs. We must first examine our own beliefs, words, and actions that may reflect unconscious suggestions of racism inherited from our own family of origin. Next, we must target those in our social or professional circles and gently open the channels of awareness within these observed and identified racists.

Change in behavior will never occur unless one is aware of that action or belief and is sincerely motivated to eradicate such offensive and destructive actions. The motivation to change that behavior which deeply offends you is dependent on the value that racist places on your friendship or professional association. Indeed, this is a daunting, overwhelming and highly time-consuming task but street demonstrations and protesting is risky and does not effectively change one racist at a time for a cumulative elimination of racism.

Dr. Fran White is a psychologist and marriage and family therapist who has been in private practice for over three decades. She was a columnist for her regional newspaper and has written about human behavior and problem-solving. Fran resides on the Eastern Shore with her husband, Tom, and is a grandmother of nine grandchildren.