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Of wealth inequities, Wal-Mart wages, healthcare woes, Jim Jordanisms and Merry Christmas

The most significant thing the oligarchy (top one or two percent of the wealthy) that we now live under has achieved is pitting the rest of us against each other.

Instead of protesting and doing something about the worst income inequality in the history of the United States, we’re at each others’ throats over abortion, same-sex marriage, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the social safety net that has kept us from the abyss all along.

A sizable portion of our society has been convinced, or has likely convinced themselves that at least half of us are lazy louts.

It’s apparent to me that a lot of Americans want to believe this of their fellow men and women.

I’ve known plenty of folks — even those who should know better — espousing that nonsense.

If you listen long enough, a certain theme emerges: “I’m sick of my tax dollars going to bums sitting on their a----.”

Some Christian nation we have.

Those crooks on Wall Street, most of whom should be wearing prison garb by now, are full steam ahead from the recession of 2008-2009, which they largely created.

It’s the American people in general who have never recovered.

We’ve had over 40 straight months of job growth, but when you’re bleeding 700,000 jobs per month (as we were at the end of the George W. Bush presidency), we’re not really back to robust health.

Speaking of Wall Street, it endlessly intrigues me that critics of welfare programs are always crowing about “kings and queens” of that genre.

A person receiving welfare — even if doing it in a fraudulent manner — couldn’t damage us in a lifetime the way a Wall Street thief can in a day.

Are there people in this nation who won’t work and expect a handout from the government?

Certainly.

Are they now or have they ever been close to a majority of Americans?

H--- no.

One historical fact proves it.

For three to four decades after World War II, the unemployment rate in America seldom exceeded the five percent range.

If there were as many layabouts as some claim, what were all those people doing?

I once heard a woman say “men should be like salt and pepper shakers. You could take them off a shelf and put them back as you please.”

That’s essentially what has happened to the American worker since the 1980s.

For those recent decades, all we’ve done is fatten the bank accounts of the richest among us.

Since the last recession, for example, 95 percent of economic  gains have gone to the top one percent.

On the other side of the scale: One in six Americans lives in poverty and one in seven needs food stamps to get by. The jobs today often don’t pay a liveable wage and provide little or no benefits. We’re easily disposable parts.

With the decline of unions (around seven percent in the private sector and not much higher in the public sector), most of the chips (if not all) are in management’s hands. Never a good place to be.

If you know American labor history, you’re aware that most of our so-called job creators have to be dragged kicking and screaming into doing the right thing (good wages, benefits, etc.) for their employees. There are only a precious few today holding them accountable. It’s a woeful state of affairs.

A primary example is Wal-Mart, the leading private sector employer in the country, which has never been unionized. The median hourly wage (including part-time) is $8.80. Wal-Mart claims it’s closer to $12.67 an hour. Regardless, the only true beneficiaries is the family of the late founder, Sam Walton. Also, leading up to labor disputes in 2012, the National Labor Relations Board found that “Wal-Mart unlawfully threatened employees with reprisal if they engaged in strikes and protests.”

You can bet your life that Wal-Mart is not the only place American workers are treated that way.

The overall minimum wages of $7.25 is an obscenity.

Are we complete fools? This is what’s being done to us. We’ve been sold down the river (out of the country actually).

The redistribution of wealth is a nightmare scenario for conservatives. Funny, isn’t it, you never hear them admit what’s befallen us is that very thing. Robin Hood in reverse, that is.

What we get instead is a big segment of our population hurling invective at those helped by the government (unemployment insurance, food stamps, etc.). We’ve mixed victims of this vicious greed in with the real slackers. Go figure.

We’ve wasted our energies demonizing our collective selves rather than confronting those who are exploiting us.

It includes politicians on local, state and national levels.

Ironically, none is worse than the right-wing extremist — Jim Jordan, Republican of Urbana, who represents our 4th District in the U.S. House.

Jordan was front and center among the Tea Party faction who recently shut down the federal government. The U.S. economy took a $24 billion hit.

Jordan is a boot kicker for businesses and corporations. Their taxes are too high and regulations too stiff, he snorts.

When it comes to actual human beings, however, Jordan can be one very cruel customer. He even voted to slash $40 billion  over 10 years ($4 billion per year) from the nation’s food stamp program. It follows several billion in cuts to food stamps this year (the Senate hasn’t voted on the latter).

Jordan is a posterboy for the Republicans’ arrogant and insolent you’re-on-your-own party. One of his favorite talking points is “the government is taking your money.” Those are code words for “it may be helping someone less fortunate than you.” Heaven forbid.

The reason that Jordan and his anti-government crowd hates it so much is simple. The federal government, in particular, has frequently been a financial and legal friend to those they scorn: The poor, down on their luck, minorities and the disenfranchised.

Much of what has gone wrong for us in America stems from our own complicity and apathy.

Take our very conservative county and area, for instance. Jim Jordan is as likely to lose a general election as we are to have a blizzard on the fourth of July.

At a recent meeting of the Bellefontaine Rotary Club, Jordan spoke to a group Examiner staff writer Reuben Mees called “100 of Logan County’s brightest teenagers.”

 I can only hope that at least some of them disagreed with his ideology. In this county, however, you could never be sure.

Jordan ranted against the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act (Obamacare), which seeks to provide 30 million Americans with health insurance. At one point he said, “The only solution to Obamacare is to repeal it short of that we can only delay it.”

What about all the people who don’t have health insurance, or it’s inadequate to their needs. What’s the alternative? It’s been bankruptcy and death in many cases.

Our health is a roll of the dice, and luck can’t be the option for our care, Mr. Jordan. We should have had universal health coverage in this nation for decades. It’s inexcusable that we don’t.

Jordan, of course, involved this mantra: “But when you get married and raise a family and watch the government take your money, you do get concerned.”

He tacked on “never forget, you live in the greatest country in the world.”

Yes, but in spite of people with attitudes like him.

Imagine, cheerleading for something as vital as health insurance — peoples’ lives really — to fail.

It doesn’t strike me as an American virtue.

Rampant economic inequality and lack of health care are surely moral issues.

Like slavery and segregation, we’re either on the right or wrong side of history — and humanity. There’s no in between.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone.

Jerry Turner
Quincy

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 December 2013

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The Midnight Council Fire still burnsdirected by ultimate Scoutmaster

Somewhere ...way up above the clouds ...under the Great White Oak ...in the Deep Woods ...behind the Great White Throne on High ...burns the Midnight Council Fire.

Three men from our community have recently been ushered in, to take their seats in the circle; Soapy Green, from Troop 70, in West Mansfield, Andy Stoner, from Troop 51, at Rushsylvania, and Curt Collins, from the old troop at Lakeview.

Out of the assembly, one man rises to greet them. He is a short, stout fellow. He is dressed in a faded blue work uniform. The name “Jim” is sewn above his left pocket. In that pocket are: a steel ruler, a soap stone, a couple burnt welding rods, a small screwdriver, and a couple pencils. His bald head is covered with an old Hobart skull cap. Under his wire rimmed glasses a warm smile fills his face. He reaches out a hand of welcome. One of his fingers is missing. It’s Jim Seeley. “Welcome, Fellas, have a seat.”

Next to Jim sits a small wiry man strumming a guitar ...With his head tilted to one side. He looks up through squinted eyes, “Did you do your best?” It’s Otis Cooper.

Out in the center of the circle, in front of the fire, Don Mears and Dale Huber are trying to lead the group in a song. Most of the guys are still laughing at a joke Bill Price just told. On the far side of the circle, near the trunk of the Great White Oak, Turley Lamberson and Les Born are planning the next Camporee. Kenny Nichols doesn’t like the location. Glen Zell says, “come on, give it a chance.”

Four men sit on an old hickory log, under a low hanging branch of the Great White Oak. Steve Skidmore, in a dark green vest, wearing his three cornered hat, is absentmindedly polishing the stock of his Brown Bess. Sam Doak is practicing an arm sling on Charlie Rinehart. Jack Young stands up, walks to the fire, stirs the ashes with a stick, then lifts the burning stick to light Andy’s pipe. “Good to see ya.”

Behind the fire, Rev. Guy Furby in full uniform, with his “Smoky the Bear” hat, sits on an old Coleman ice chest preparing to read the evening Scripture lesson. Don Geist stands over his shoulder with a flashlight, to illuminate the pages of the Book.

Over on the left side, Claude Wesser sits on a 10 gallon milk can. He holds a small boy wrapped in a blanket. Claude comforts the tenderfoot, who has never been away from home before. Every once in a while, the Big Guy comes down off the Great White Throne, and strolls down the path towards the Great Oak, and the Midnight Council Fire. As He enters the circle, He reaches to His back pocket, and pulls out His blue bandana. With it, He squats down to the fire, and picks up the coffee pot. He pours a dose into the stainless steel Sierra cup, that hangs from His belt on a thong. He takes a sip, then reaches over and fills Cedric Braden’s up. He rises to His feet, stretches His back, and stares up at the stars. “It sure is a beautiful night, boys.”

Yes, Father, it sure is,” they all reply.

You see ... God too, is a Scoutmaster.

Ronald Irick
West Liberty

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 December 2013

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County loses a pillar

After he retired, Tom Notestine  spent his summers fishing at Lake Erie and his winters enjoying the warmth of Florida. Always, however, his heart was in Logan County, which he claimed is the greatest place in the country to live.

His recent death has created a big void — for his wonderful family and for our city, county and country (Navy during WWII) where during his professional life he was innovative and influential in business and banking and, more importantly, helping hundreds of people in their quests for success.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote of success:

To laugh often and love much;

To win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children;

To earn the approbation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty;

To find the best in others;

To give of one’s self;

To leave the world a little better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation;

To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived;

This is to have succeeded.

As I said, Tom Notestine was a success. A successful person in every way. We shall miss him.

Gene Marine
Bellefontaine

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 December 2013

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Reaching out for campaign help

Donnelly-Jim UnitedWay

JIM DONNELLY

It’s not about meeting a goal; It’s about meeting a need; Today we need your help! At this time of year one of the most asked questions that I receive is: How is the United Way campaign going, how close are we to the goal and do I feel comfortable that we will make it? My normal response is: “We’re getting closer and I’m optimistic that we’ll make it.” But today my response is a little different: “As we approach the final weeks of the 2013 UWLC campaign I’m concerned that we may not be able to meet the growing needs of our community.”

While several contributors have provided an increase over last year, for a variety of reasons many of our business and workplace campaigns have come in lower than anticipated. This leaves a void that will be extremely difficult to overcome when we begin the 2014 allocation process. During my two years as the executive director of the UWLC I’ve had a front row seat and was able to experience firsthand just how important the UWLC funded agencies and the programs that they provide are to many residents within our county.

I’m concerned for the 22 non-profit United Way funded agencies that count on our financial support to provide programs that are extremely important to our community. Several are struggling due to the numerous funding cuts from federal, state and local grants. The programs provided by these agencies help people from all walks of life; rich, poor, young, old, educated, uneducated, employed, unemployed. With almost one out of every three residents in our community having a need for the help and support of one of these agencies, it’s possible that someone in your family, a friend or neighbor has been touched and helped by one of the programs that they provide.

A recent USA Today/Bipartisan Policy Center poll reflects that, “Americans by more than 2-1, say the best way to make positive changes in society today is through volunteering and financially supporting non-profit organizations.”

The United Way of Logan County works extremely hard through its 22 funded non-profit agencies to give hope and effective compassion to many local children, adults and families struggling with the cycle of poverty, poor preventative health care and inadequate education among other issues running rampant in our community.

It’s a nostalgic time of year, and many of us can remember a time when we took care of our own, family took care of family and friends helped friends. While times have changed one fact remains: For more than 56 years, the United Way of Logan County has helped to create lasting change in our community by helping children succeed in school, ensuring that basic needs are met and by helping families become self-sufficient, providing local people with opportunities for a better life.

Best of all, 100 percent of funds raised by the United Way of Logan County stays in our community. What better way to invest than to support an organization focusing solely on local needs and local problems?

I’m asking that you join Janet and myself and embrace our best hope for community improvement by supporting the United Way of Logan County and our local nonprofits whose mission it is to take care of the special needs of our families, friends and neighbors who have fallen onto difficult times. While I would like to meet this year’s $700,000 goal before I return to retirement, to me it’s far more important that I’m able to leave my position knowing that I did my best in helping to keep our community healthy by meeting the needs of its residents.

I want to thank everyone who has already made a donation to the 2013 UWLC campaign and pass on my appreciation to each of you for the support that I’ve received during these past two years and I ask that you provide your continued support as Heidi Reser takes over for me. I’m leaving feeling good that I was able to contribute and play a role in our success.

For those who have not yet made a 2013 donation, I’m soliciting your help.

For more information about United Way or to make a tax-deductible gift before the end of the year, call 937-592-2886, mail a check to our office or donate online by visiting www.uwlogan.org.

“Together” we are making a difference!

James Donnelly is executive director of the United Way of Logan County through the end of the year.

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 December 2013

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Adriel is an asset to the West Liberty community

Channel 7 News recently ran a rather shallow news episode on issues surrounding Adriel a school for troubled children which has been located in West Liberty, Ohio, for the past 113 years.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 November 2013

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Ben Logan levy would repay debt

The goal of my AP Government class is to increase the voter turnout by discovering the facts and informing the voters.

My issue is the Benjamin Logan Emergency Levy. When I asked if the money would be used to hire staff or what the money would be used for, Superintendent Lori Lytle said, “The purpose of the levy is not to hire staff; it is to pay back the money that the Benjamin Logan School District owes in credit card debt. Right now, that number is a relatively low number. However, if Ben Logan doesn’t do something to take care of it soon, the number will continue to grow instead of being eliminated. Benjamin Logan needs to pay off this debt in order to remain fiscally responsible. This levy will eventually have to be passed; the number cannot just continue to grow.” When asked if the quality of education would go down should the levy not pass, Mrs. Lytle responded, “Benjamin Logan always strives to keep the quality at all costs. It would be more likely that the amount of class offerings would decrease, the class sizes would increase and the debt would increase.” When I asked if cuts would have to be made in the event that the levy did not pass, Superintendent Lytle replied, “In order to stay fiscally responsible, Benjamin Logan previously cut everything they could cut. So, no further cuts can be made immediately. Our staff is down to the bare bones; therefore, further cuts would decrease the quality of education.”

This tax would be a property tax. The taxes would begin being collected in January and the school district would begin receiving them in March or April. The increased cost to each taxpayer is $70 per $50,000 house value.

Camille Watson
West Liberty

Last Updated on Friday, 01 November 2013

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Indian Lake levy would make up for lost revenue

As the November elections come around, local schools are again reaching out to citizens to assist with financial aid. Indian Lake is one school that has proposed a levy for this upcoming ballot. I have been researching the current issues on the ballot for my AP Government class.

In 2012, Indian Lake purposed a new levy that would generate 7.35-mills over the next 10 years, however, it failed. Since 2009, Indian Lake has had to reduce, “17 general education teachers, four reading specialist teachers, two intervention specialist teachers, five educational assistants, two custodians, and 64 supplemental contracts, (just to name a few),” says Superintendent O’Donnell. Indian Lake has endured a “loss of state revenue” of $1,158,000 since 2010.” The levy is said to cost $56 a year for properties valued at $100,000. Superintendent O’Donnell says the money collected from the levy is needed for, “all operations of the school system.” When asked about the recent scores on the school’s grade card and the correlation to this levy Mr. O’Donnell replied, “as funding continues to decrease then the board has to decrease expenditures by cutting staff. Then, test scores will suffer.”

Ian Fogle
Bellefontaine

Last Updated on Friday, 01 November 2013

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Jeff. Township levy would support library

Hello, I am a student of the AP Government class at Benjamin Logan High School and we are researching local issues, levies and elections. I researched the upcoming Jefferson Township issue of maintaining and operating the Sloan Library. The projected voter turnout is only 11 percent. As students in the AP Government class were challenged with the task of motivating people to vote in the upcoming local election on November 5th, Jefferson Township officials are asking for a levy to fund the maintaining and operating of the library.

In my research I have found that if the levy is passed, there will be an increase of 0.5 millage on property tax for all residents living in Jefferson Township. There are on average 2,028 annual visits to the library as well as 624 visitors on their three Internet computers. The library currently has 7,980 print materials and 136 audio materials. The library is a non-profit organization. The library’s total operating revenue is $114,824 and the total operating expenditures are $55,106.

The library hosts various activities in Jefferson Township. Some of the activities include the toddler and preschool storytime and crafts and Library Club for kids ages 7-13. They also host an annual book sale during the Logan Hills Festival on Memorial Day weekend. The library also from time to time hosts the meetings of the Logan County Mayors Association. I would like to encourage all eligible voters to vote on this issue. You can vote at Tri-Valley Fire Department in Zanesfield. The address is 2568 Sandusky St., Zanesfield, OH 43360.

Brady Alexander Bechtel
Zanesfield

Last Updated on Friday, 01 November 2013

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