For the People

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Although the quote goes back into the 1300s, we know best the phrase “of the people, by the people, for the people” from Lincoln’s Gettysburg address.

If we look back to the occasion of the Gettysburg address, you might remember that he was talking that day because they were dedicating the battlefield to the fallen soldiers of the civil war.  He was admonishing those gathered to work hard so that the loss of those fallen would not be in vain.

Just like at Gettysburg, it often feels today that it is uncertain if our democracy will survive.

Just like at Gettysburg, the only way this will happen is if all of us work to ensure we have a democracy “of, by and for” the people.

Of the People-–  This means that the people who make up the government come from the people. That people like you run for office or serve in appointed roles to make the government work.

By the People- This means quite simply, that the people vote. To vote for representation, to vote for leadership, to vote to settle issues.  If the people are not informed and making decisions, democracy fails.

For the People – There is an implied “the benefit of”.  As in “For the benefit of the people”. Too often today, people read “for” and think – “instead of me”.  This is not “here- let me do that for you”.  As the first two clauses try to make clear, the people must act- Sometimes within the government and sometimes outside of the government- to get things accomplished and keep democracy healthy.  This was a warning not to let the interests of other entities come before the interests of the people.  Instead, what has too often evolved out of this means that people have great ideas and then try to find the person/department in the government to do it “for them”, instead of acting themselves.

What steps are you taking this fall to ensure that our democracy thrives and government stays “of the people, by the people, and for the people”?

‘Bama Said

Mama Said has been a hit for lots  of recording stars over the years from The Shirelles and the Chiffons to Dionne Bromfield and Amy Winehouse. Last night, a version of the song popped nearly whole into my head and I just know it could be a hit for me… If only I could sing….

‘Bama said there’ll be days like this, 
There’ll be days like this ‘Bama said 
(‘Bama said, ‘Bama said) 
‘Bama said there’ll be days like this, 
There’ll be days like this O’Bama said 
(‘Bama said, ‘Bama said) 
I went walking the other day, 
Everything was going fine, 
I met a little boy named Muammar
And then I almost lost my mind 
‘Bama said there’ll be days like this, 
There’ll be days like this ‘Bama said 
(‘Bama said, ‘Bama said) 
‘Bama said there’ll be days like this, 
There’ll be days like this O’Bama said 
My eyes are wide open 
But all that I can see is, 
Fine new jobs  are callin for everyone but-a me 
but I don’t worry cause 
‘Bama said there’ll be days like this, 
There’ll be days like this ‘Bama said 
(‘Bama said, ‘Bama said) 
‘Bama said there’ll be days like this, 
There’ll be days like this O’Bama said 
And then he said healthcare will come to me 
to ease my aches and woes one day, 
then I might find 
I don’t want it any old way, 
so I don’t worry cause 
‘Bama said there’ll be days like this, 
There’ll be days like this ‘Bama said 
(‘Bama said, ‘Bama said) 
‘Bama said there’ll be days like this, 
There’ll be days like this my ‘Bama said 
‘Bama said, ‘Bama said 
Hey! Don’t you worry, 
‘Bama said ‘Bama said 
Hey! Don’t you worry now. 
‘Bama said ‘Bama said, 
Hey! Hey!

Celebrating Independence Day

Independence is not a gift, but something we have to work towards every day. It is a state of mind, an approach to life that must be maintained as well as a status.

Kids grow to independence, but only if they and their parents work toward it every day of their life until they are adults.

Students become independent thinkers, but it takes work and preparation- on the part of the student as well as the teacher.

Citizens have independence from tyranny, but they must work to preserve and deserve status. It rarely comes without sacrifice and compromise.

As you gather with friends and family on this US Independence Day, take a moment between the burgers & beer and the fireworks to think on the sacrifices that allow you to gather in this way and speak your mind. Think on the freedoms you are most thankful for, and what you would compromise or give up to maintain them. If you think none of them are at risk and those freedoms are guaranteed, think again. Our freedoms are constantly at risk of erosion from people who want to take the safe and easy route. Be prepared to work hard and speak out so that your children and grandchildren can continue to enjoy those freedoms you cherish most.

Happy Independence Day to all my freedom loving friends around the globe!

Eating outside of the box

Todays article on the choices being faced by the unemployed to eat or to pay other bills got me thinking that maybe it was time to tackle the problem with a little outside the box thinking. There is no doubt that the food stamp program does unimaginable good for the recipients. The editors of the NYT Times recently pointed out that not only does the food stamp program feed people, but it also does direct good to assist with stimulating the economy as well. While there are a lot of people starting to emphasize with those struggling to make ends meet, including a CNN reporter trying to live on the SNAP ( food stamps) budget for a month, I have not seen many people trying to address the problem raised by one woman in the CNN article:
“Sears stretches her food budget by buying cheap and sometimes fatty meals. She said she doesn’t like doing that but can’t avoid it. With food prices high, she said, grocery shopping is stressful.

“We get like the mac and cheese, which is dehydrated cheese — basically food that’s no good for you health wise,” she said. “Everything is high in sodium and trans fats … and that’s all we basically can afford. There’s not enough assistance to eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight.”

Advocates for the hungry say many people on the food stamp program opt to buy less-healthy foods because they can’t afford fresh fruits and vegetables on such a tight budget.”

What if we look at other method for getting food into people’s hands and on their tables instead of just looking to spend more money at the grocery stores ? We are lucky to live in a nation with a long growing season and lots of good soil. Even in the depths of cities, there are many gardens and green areas. Because of this, the American Community Garden Association lists 120 community vegetable gardens in New York City alone. What if we added funding and support for gardening to the fod stamps program? Let the program help pay for staff that can assit, mentor, and administrate the gardens (people need jobs, right?) and people who volunteer in the gardens get a portion of the harvests. They get fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs for a few hours of work each week. The peak growing season is summer- when students are out of school. This would also provide and activity that even younger kids can participate in and they will learn useful life skills as well.

Don’t live in an area with a community garden? Allow food stamps to pay for seeds, basic gardening tools and items that individuals in rural and/or suburban areas could use to plant provate gardens. Allow regional areas to purchase and loan out garden tillers that folks who want to plant in their yard can use. If we are worried about enough people being able to use a tiller, or the tillers getting abused or stolen, then again- hire people who can travel the rounds of food stamp recipients’ houses to till a garden.

Want to make the impact really lasting? Build a social media site and some print pamphlets with gardening tips, cooking tips, recipes and information on canning and preserving food. It would need to have some non-online resources as not everyone can afford to be online, or has the time to cruise the net at the library every week.

Want to really surprise people? Make it easy for home gardeners to band together to sell excess food in small farmer’s markets, or to trade zucchini that they grew for carrots that someone else had success with.

This is not an unprecedented idea. During World War I and II, the Victory garden program called for people to grow food at home or close by to assist with the conservation of oil being used by the war efforts. Today, the Liberty Garden program also calls on individuals to grow food in backyard gardens to help conserve energy and to make eating more eco friendly.

By implementing a “garden growing” portion into the SNAP program, we will not only alow people to eat in a more healthy way, we will also add jobs and be more eco friendly. Seems like a certain win on all facets.

The insanity of DST

I grew up with DST. In Maryland, barely on the eastern-most edge of the time zone, you were glad for those days of a little bit of stretched sunlight in the evening. The sun rose very early in the morning, so pushing it an hour later was never an issue. When I moved to Indiana, not having DST was an odd thing, but not really much of an issue. Located at the very far west edge of the Eastern Time Zone, summer evening were bright even without DST. I did not miss it at all. As a matter of fact, switching back and forth seemed fairly silly, and I quickly got used to staying on one time all the time. Then Indiana, rather than sticking up for a reasonable- though unpopular- stance finally gave in and went to DST.
It has only been in the last week or so that it is reasonably bright out by 7:15 am and I do not need all the outside floodlights turned on for my 8th grade daughter to catch the bus to school. Shifting to DST this weekend will mean that for at least another month it will be dark for another hour, pushing us back to fighting the darkness to get up and moving in the morning and having all the lights on while waiting for the bus. We could banish DST entirely and I would be perfectly happy. Still, when I see studies like this reported, it makes me laugh on the inside, knowing that even a somewhat scientific study showing that switching to DST actually cost us millions of dollars is unlikely to allow politicians to back down and change their position now.

Who’s answering the phone

I was so glad to see someone do this twist on the Hillary campaign ad. It was the first thing that popped into my mind when I heard about the ad. I am to the point of almost ready to give up on having anyone worthwhile to vote for this year. Sadness.