Wednesday, February 26, 2014


We get up in the mornings and turn on a faucet and water comes running out. How often do we think about where it comes from and how much there is?

Our bodies are strange things when it comes to nutrition, we can live several days without food but we can survive only two days without water.

What if we ran out of water? Think about it.

Most of our lakes, rivers, and streams have been polluted to the point that it is not safe to drink and the fish that live in them are not safe to drink.

For centuries raw industrial waste has been dumped into waterways, raw sewage joined it along the way. Things got so bad that at one time Lake Erie was declared dead and the Cuyahoga River actually caught on fire.

Some improvements have been made in the partial clean up of direct outlets of industrial waste, however, the agency charged with enforcing the Clean Water Act has neither the financial or manpower resources to monitor the polluters.

Cities have done a better job of cleaning up the sewage before dumping it into waterways. It is all too little too late and there are so many new threats that before this century is over, there will be no safe drinking water available to households anywhere in the world.

Every year farmers and gardeners, and folks treating their lawns use tons of fertilizer, insecticides, and herbicides. Not all is absorbed into the product nor is it retained in the plot of ground where it has been applied. A large percentage runs off into our waterways. There is no plant that cleans those items from the water.

The newest threat to our waters comes from drug pollution. There are several sources including drugs used for farm animals that get into the water supply via animal waste and run off. No treatment plant in the world is capable of cleaning out the pharmaceutical drugs that people put into the water supply through our waste or by the medications we flush down throw toilet.

Many of our aquifers have been polluted or are in danger due to the sources mentioned above and because of the many pipelines crisscrossing the country carrying everything from crude oil to gasoline, and natural gas.

The supply of water is dwindling because we are using more that nature is replacing. In California today, many communities have been shut off from the Central Valley Project. The drought continues to get worse as rain fall is at the lowest level in over a century and the snow pack in the Sierra Nevada, where the water for the Central Valley Project comes from, is less than twenty-five percent of normal.

At the same time, areas that have not yet faced severe shortages of water continue to water their lawns and hobby gardens. Let faucets run when not necessary, and fill swimming pools each year. Just flushing a toilet wastes, on average, six gallons of water. Surly there is a more efficient use of water to wash away our waste.

There are a few large companies coming to our rescue. They are buying large chunks of land that are located over fresh water supplies (aquifers) and drilling large wells with the ability to pump water from any depth.  Since many states have a law that basically that the guy with the biggest pump gets the most water. So, while the water table is being lowered and wells in the area are drying up, those few companies are pulling the water from the ground, trucking it to a processing plant, bottling it and selling it back to the same people that they just screwed. Company cost is about eleven cents a pint that they sell to the customer for one to two dollars for the same pint.

Do you think it is time to start conserving the water we do have and cleaning up what we can? There are many things we can start doing at once. More about that another day. For today, just give our water problem some thought.

I will write more about water in the coming days. I will keep you posted on what may be in store for all of us someday soon.

For information about what you can do right now, visit the following page:



Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Recently I watched a program on the local PBS station.  The program, “John Sebastian Presents: Folk Rewind” was the backdrop for the PBS fund drive.  As I watched, it became evident to me that the program meant more to me than the PBS telethon and brought back memories and stirred deep emotions, some caused me to face very disturbing questions.

So that you understand my need to look in the mirror and ask questions that may not have an answer, I was born in 1944.  I grew up during the most volatile and rapid change in the psyche of the nation and, in my opinion, the world.  I refer to myself as a child of the sixties because, even though I, and most people of my age, had thought about and discussed the future, who we were going to be in that future and how we would fit into that future, before the sixties arrived, it was during the 1960s that we put into practice those things we said we believed, those things we said were important to us and to the world, those things we wanted to pass on to our children, if and when they came along. We marched, we sang, we protested, we testified, we loved, and we changed the world. We helped, along with those brave men and women who had battled for so many years, to bring about equality for all. We helped, along with those who went to fight on the battlefield and those who fought in the courts and by leaving their country, homes, and families behind, to stop a war. We helped, along with millions of Americans, to force a corrupt president from office. For the record, I served our country during the turmoil in Southeast Asia and earned the right to protest, but everyone in this country, regardless of their service had and still do have, the right to protest.

Those of us that grew up in that period had high ideals, many will not see it that way, but we were out to build a better world.  Each of us, no matter our political ideology, social class, or race felt that we were contributing to the future as we envisioned it.  For some reason, I was part of what you may consider to be the more radical segment of the Post World War II Generation.

I grew up in North Eastern Ohio.  The Civil Rights Movement was just gathering steam and we did not understand what it was all about.  Where we lived, there was no race problem, at least to our young eyes.  Black and white lived near each other, we went to school together, played sports together, hung out together after school, some of us Do-Wopping, hoping that we were going to be the next Dion and the Belmonts or The Drifters.  As I got older, and after my excursion into the heart of the activity, I noticed that blacks lived near whites, but not like next door.  I realized that, even in Ohio, there were places where black people did not go and I realized the degrading nature of some of the names that were used in reference to black people.  By the time I left home, I heard young people, my age, using the very words we hated so much when we heard them form our parents generation. Either those who chose that road were too ignorant of what they were doing or hate is passed from generation to generation. Looking around America today, we see the voting rights that so many had fought for so long to see enacted, trampled under the feet by those who do not want everyone to participate in the democratic government that our founding fathers gave to us. In the last year alone, years of work has been tossed under the bus by people who want power at any cost. Why have we allowed that to happen?

We had such high ideals and such high hopes of changing the world, and then we were gone.  We were still here physically but most of us had to change our focus from changing the world to putting food on the tables of our young families.  Advancing in our jobs so that we could make more money and have more things became more important to us than the billions of our tax dollars that were being spent around the world influencing governments so as to shape them into our vision of what they should be.

Suddenly one day, we looked around and discovered that we had become the very thing that we had fought so hard to destroy.  We had become them.  We were part of the establishment, living our lives of affluence, always wanting more and not caring about the suffering that many may have endured to bring it all to us.

We want cheap clothing, people in Bangladesh will make it for us two cents an hour. We want a cheap TV or computer, people in China will make it for us for a few cents an hour, a dorm to live in and the right not to be shot. We don't care, we just want. We want what we want, when we want, and at the price we want and we don't care about the cost to people who make it for us. We don't care about the cost to the environment. We don't care about the cost to our grandchildren who will be living in third world conditions so we can have what we want, when we want it, and at the cost we want to pay.

In America, the greatest threat to the health of Americans is the epidemic of obesity. In the meantime one third of the world is starving to death.

We dreamed, and fought for real education, education that would prepare students for the world they would someday enter.  The two sizes fits all educational system of the 1950s needed to be updated with more individual attention for those with learning difficulties and curricula designed with the person in mind rather than the cookie cutter systems we had all grown accustomed to.

We dreamed of, and fought for equality.  Not just for the word but for the meaning.  We wanted every person in America to be afforded the same right to a good education as his or her neighbor.  We wanted every person of legal age to participate in the election of government officials and to vote on issues and to run for and be elected to government offices.  We wanted any person with the means to pay for a home to be able to buy a home in any neighborhood and to live in harmony with their neighbors as part of the community.

We dreamed of, and fought for peace.  Peace, in our community, in our country, and in our world.

What happened?  Where and when did our dreams get derailed?  To where did we, and our big dreams of a better world disappear?

Today, the poverty we dreamed of eliminating encompasses more of our countries citizens and is deeper than any time since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  To add to the despair of those in the most need, members of our congress are fighting to eliminate the very programs put into place, during and after that Great Depression, to ensure that the basic needs of all American Citizens would be met.

Shady real estate brokers and their equally shady Wall Street cohorts cheated the process of home sales and the handling of the subsequent mortgages so severely that they have sent this country’s and the world’s economies to near total collapse, and profited from the whole mess.  As their empires began to disintegrate, we, the taxpayers, were forced to bail them out of their troubles and save their companies.  They used our tax dollars to pay themselves, the very people who destroyed our economy, put millions on the unemployment line, caused thousands of businesses to close, pension funds to shrink to such a level that made retirement for most a forgotten dream and destroyed the lives of many already counting on their pensions to live, multi-million dollar bonuses.

We have engaged in two wars lasting a decade and financed by raiding the Social Security Trust Fund and borrowing money from China.

As these events unfolded and continue to unfold, our national balance sheet presents us with a deficit so large it is hard to comprehend.  The answer for many of our members of congress is to eliminate the programs that assist the poor and elderly while refusing to allow a slightly higher tax rate to be levied on the richest, very small, segment of our population.  Our country has become populated with people whose motto seems to be, “I got mine, screw you.”

Somehow and by someone, a determination has been made that our public school systems are failing students.  There seems to be two main reasons cited for this situation; the failure of some students to pass a standardized test and the fact that teachers belong to a union and therefore get paid too much.  The resolution; get rid of the public schools, except to serve the poor and basically disenfranchised students, and use our tax money to fund private schools, catering only to those students the private, for profit, school operators deem worthy of their particular school and whose parents can pay the additional tuition.  This plan will, as it is intended to do, leave the children with the most need stuck in the remaining public schools with very limited resources, like books, teachers, chalk, you get the picture!

I do not have enough years left to list all the wrongs I see in this once great country.  What disappoints me most is my generation, including me, that gave up the fight far too soon and then failed to pass the torch.  The Occupy Movement is far to disorganized and lacks the commitment, and intestinal fortitude, to bring this country back to its senses.  What we need is another round of “children of the sixties” to wake us all back up before it is too late.  It may be too late now!  Think about it!

The following was written by a nineteen year old young man in 1965.  This video is one of many.  Some show scenes from the 1960s, some, like this one are updated.

Same old world, only worse


Monday, February 24, 2014


On December 29th, 1890, when my grandmother was a young woman of twenty, at a place near Wounded Knee Creek on the Pine Ridge Indian Agency in South Dakota, in what has been called the last battle of The Indiana Wars ,about five hundred soldiers, members of the 7th U. S. Cavalry, because they could, massacred ninety men and two hundred women and wounded fifty other people, members of the Miniconjou and Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux tribes.

Actually, there was one more battle. The day after the carnage at Wounded Knee, a group of Native Americans from the Brule Lakota Sioux Tribe from the Rosebud Indiana Agency in South Dakota engaged with troops from 7th Cavalry who were aided by troops from the 9th Cavalry, The Buffalo Soldiers.

The battle erupted as some of the Lakota were trying to enforce some of the terms of the treaty, which they were forced to sign, with the United States Government. They, along with the Cheyenne Tribes were starving, having had their rations cut and because of outright theft by the suppliers. They were desperate.

And that was it; the Indian problem was over and out of the hair of those who claim “ownership” of what is now called “The United States of America.”

I guess it would surprise many of you to know that the U. S. government still treats Native Americans like they were the intruders, intruders in the land that rightfully belongs to them. If you would like evidence, take a vacation sometime and drive to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

I hope you will be shocked and ashamed with what you see.

The United States is comprised of over 3100 counties. The counties that make up The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation are the poorest of all those. They share, and sometimes trade positions, that title with the two other reservations in South Dakota, The Rosebud and Lower Brule.

Some members of my family tree lived in the coal mining regions of  the Appalachia region. I traveled through that part of our country a couple times and was shocked at the level of poverty that existed in my country. Though conditions have improved somewhat, thanks to the efforts of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Clinton, people still live in a poverty ingrained in the culture of the people. They have been taken advantage of and abused by big corporations for generations and most have come to accept their place in the world.

I had heard that the people living on Indian reservations had it rough. I had lived near both Pima and Paiute Indian reservations over the years but never realize that severe poverty existed that close to me.

As part of a longer vacation, my wife and I planned to visit The Pine ridge Indian Reservation. As we were traveling there, we entered the Badlands. A large part of the badlands are on the reservation. It was an unusual experience to say the least.. Our car’s compass did not work, our GPS system did not work and we could not get connected to our ONSTAR system operator. I stopped the car to look around at the massive rock formations and the trails that ran through them. As I was standing there, the air itself spooked me. It was like it was singing and had color to it, like the colors in a science fiction movie.

We finally arrived at our destination, after getting directions from nearly every person we could find. We stayed at The Lakota Prairie Ranch Resort. If you think resort means some fancy place with a casino and all, forget it. It was a bare-bones place to stay and had a great restaurant attached. The people there were a great source of information and directions around the Pine ridge area. They discussed the history and culture of the Lakota with us. Just as an aside, the Lakota do not have a casino on the reservation.

What we found out while we were there was that 1 in 4 infants are born fetal alcohol syndrome and that Alcoholism rate is about 80%. Until 2013, when the members of the Lakota Nation voted to repeal the ban, Alcohol was not sold on the reservation but nearby merchants build alcohol stores just outside the boarders and it was easy to smuggle it onto the reservation.

We found out that many of the houses we saw had no floor and that most did not have beds. If a family was lucky enough to have a mattress, as many as five people may be cuddled up on that one mattress trying to keep warm. Many homes have no running water or sewage. Heating oil is expensive and many cannot afford to have it delivered to their homes. Some have no electricity or telephone service.

I learned that the unemployment rate was between 80% and 90%, and that the U. S. Government uses its power to keep it that way.

In the early part of the new century, The Lakota began growing industrial hemp to be used in brick making. The level of THC in the industrial hemp is so low and of so poor quality that one could never make a “joint” from it. They could, however, make bricks. This project would provide industry and jobs to the Lakota nation. The government stopped them, with force, in direct violation of the 1868 treaty the Lakota made with the United States. This helped to keep the per capita income of the residents of Pine Ridge at about $4000 a year.

In another wonderful show of faith, the U. S. government confiscated a large chunk of the Badlands, belonging to the Lakota, to use as a bombing range during WWII. In the first two decades of the 2000s, they are still clearing unexploded ordinance so that the land can be returned.

With abject poverty comes an issue like Diabetes, which is about eight times the norm on Pine Ridge.

Other distressful issues on Pine Ridge include:
More than twice the national rate of suicide and you can double that for teens

Infant mortality rate on Pine Ridge is three times the national rate

Twice the national rate of heart disease

The second lowest life expectancy in the western hemisphere

Cervical cancer more than five times the national rate

If, as some people say, the United States is turning into a third world country, just go to The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to see what you will become.

Most of you cannot even imagine living in those conditions, yet we turn our heads and pretend not to see as the government continues to massacre the Lakota.

I visited the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre and stood on the hill where the Hotchkiss cannons (Gatling guns) were fired. Right behind me stood the mass grave that the men, women, and children that were chewed up by the Hotchkiss guns were unceremoniously buried.

I have read several books, articles, and papers and looked at many maps concerning the events of 12/12/1890 and as I stood on that hill, looking across the field where so many would needlessly die, it all came to life. In my minds eye, I could se everything. I hope never to see an event in reality that is so horrible and so heartbreaking.

The Wounded Knee Massacre did not end that day in 1890, it continues today as “We The People” allow our leaders to continue to persecute the very people to whom this land rightfully belongs. Columbus did not discover America; it was never lost. It was inhabited by many nations with trade routs going from New England to South America. It had a thriving economy and one that practiced conservation of resources centuries before the term was invented. But that’s another story.

For now to learn more about the Lakota and to help their situation, visit one, or more, of the sights below.