Tables, not walls
Late Sen. Hubert Humphrey once said: “The moral test of government is how that government treats ... children … the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
A recent TV news segment featured interviews with residents of an economically depressed, coal mining county in West Virginia. One resident said that both Republican and Democratic campaigns talked mostly about the “Middle Class.” Folks in his town, he said, were not “middle class,” they were “poor.”
While some middle class (income range in U.S. $50,000 to $250,000) stagnation may be real, an enlightened government’s foremost priority should be its neediest, not the already relatively secure.
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Preferential treatment in enacting legislation should be for the elderly, children, the hungry, the homeless, immigrants, veterans, refugees fleeing war, the sick, handicapped, uninsured, unemployed, racial, religious, ethnic and sexual minorities, and citizens re-entering society after serving prison time.
During Sen. Humphrey’s time in Congress hunger was virtually eliminated in the United States. For America to be “great” again we should focus on building longer tables not higher walls.
Light rail, heavy cost
Is your family ready to pay $7,124 for light rail?
If not, it’s time to speak up.The local portion of the bill for the proposed light rail project that Orange and Durham County will have to pay just increased to $748 million (N&O, Nov. 23).
There are approximately 420,000 residents in Orange and Durham County.
We can argue about who will actually bear the burden, but the bottom line is that the cost to our local communities for this light rail project is approximately $1781 per person, which comes out to $7,124 for a family of four.
That is a best-case estimate assuming that the costs don’t increase as the project moves forward. Optimistic proponents of the plan think that by 2040 there could be 26,000 passenger trips a day (or 13,000 round-trip riders), indicating that even 20 years from now less than 2 percent of the community is expected to use this service each day (N&O 11/23, http://ourtransitfuture.com/faq/).
The total cost for the project (federal, state, and local) is $1.87 billion – $143,800 per daily rider. I am all for efforts to reduce our impact on the environment and increase our ability to move people around the Triangle efficiently, but in time when money is tight this seems like an extravagant expense that few would support if they understood the real cost.
Familar ‘Face in the Crowd’
A movie that should be required viewing for all Americans is “A Face in the Crowd.” It stars North Carolina’s own Andy Griffith as a man in a drunk tank who gets interviewed by a local radio personality as a face in the crowd.
His opinions are so insulting, so embarrassing to everyone that he gains a following that elevates him quickly from complete unknown and unsuccessful drifter, to radio personality to television personality and finally to major political operative.
His insulting nature is finally exposed as the scam that it is when his closest aide gets a conscience and leaves the microphone on while he’s bragging about how his low-life mindless followers would follow him anywhere. When he insults his own followers, they abandon him.
The amazing thing is that the movie was made in 1957. It could have been made today after the election we just experienced during which the worse insults the higher the television ratings.
Let us now, as citizens, no longer fall for this form of policial professional wrestling and perhaps in the future, the media won’t lap up every outrageous thing a candidate says as if it were honey.
‘We Stand. We Matter.’
Studio Art Majors Seminar ARTS 300, a collaborative team of UNC undergraduates, announce the installation-performance of “We Stand. We Matter.” The artist-students are diverse in their approaches to art making, but share a commitment to revealing, questioning and representing the complex socio-political situation of our culture. Inspired by student Octavis Green’s project “Victims of America,” the students joined together to make 20 figures representing people from the Standing Rock and Black Lives Matter protests.
“We Stand. We Matter.” is scheduled to take place on Polk Place, Lower Quad, on the UNC campus from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1. During the installation, students will answer questions, stand in solidarity with these movements and observe people’s reactions. Addressing police brutality, racism, intersectional oppression, capitalism, ecological disaster, climate change, and the history of genocide and slavery that continues today in different forms, students attest to the power of art, protesting and linking different struggles. Following the installation will be a forum in Wilson Library that evening, 6 to 7 p.m., with student speakers from both movements, a spoken-word performance by EROT, and the artist-students for an open discussion about art, activism, Standing Rock and Black Lives Matter.
This performative intervention merges disciplines of sculpture, protest, painting, activism, current events, collaborative and interactive public and earth art. Students fused skeletons, clothing styled after Trayvon Martin and Standing Rock protesters, and painted banners to express empathy and solidarity through art and to provoke viewers to question and remember. We welcome engaged participation.
Both events are free and open to the public.
elin o’Hara slavick
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