- Monday, 28 January 2019
- Written by MARGARET DICKSON
Almost 50 years ago, “Deep Throat” gave Washington Post investigative journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward advice so fundamental that Americans, both journalists and ordinary citizens, have found it useful ever since. “Follow the money,” whispered the thenanonymous source in the murky depths of a Washington, D.C., parking garage. His admonition resulted in the only presidential resignation in American history, at least so far.
Money both ebbs and flows, so let’s take a look at some that is flowing — or soon will be.
China, with whom President Donald Trump and his family have conflicted relationships, has granted Ivanka Trump preliminary approval for five additional trademarks. These involve sunglasses, child care centers, wedding dresses and brokerage, charitable fundraising, and art valuation services.
Ivanka’s supporters argue the trademarks are necessary to protect her famous name from others who might seek to capitalize on it. Critics say that a Trump asking a foreign government for valuable trademark rights opens the door to pressure from that nation in all sorts of government negotiations. It unquestionably lays out the welcome mat for lucrative business possibilities in the future.
That money faucet is poised to flow.
Money also ebbs, even disappears, for both individuals and entities. The Public School Forum of North Carolina, a nonpartisan advocate for public education, charged this month that reduced funding to traditional public schools in favor of charter and private schools has undermined public education for millions of North Carolina students. The vast majority of our children are in traditional public schools. The group urged the General Assembly to “renew North Carolina’s commitment to public schools for the public good.”
Said Lauren Fox of the Public School Forum, “Recent policy decision have served to discredit, defund and devalue our state’s public education system.”
Rural North Carolina also suffers from a money flow that has morphed into a money trickle from both public and private sources. Some small towns and rural areas are highly creative in making their communities unique in some way to combat the increasing concentration of resources — cultural, educational and monetary — in growing urban areas. Others are flattened by the lack of opportunity that sends their young folks to “the big city,” be it in North Carolina or somewhere else.
Our state, once known as “Variety Vacationland,” is blessed with one-of-a-kind nooks and crannies from Murphy to Manteo and Tuxedo to Turkey. Our travel dollars would be well spent giving ourselves special memories and helping prime our small towns’ money faucets.
And, money does indeed grow, even if not on trees. Increasingly, in the United States and other developed countries, wealth is concentrating in the coffers of the few while the many accumulate debt.
Statistics abound and vary, but virtually all find that the richest are getting richer. CNN reported last year that the top 1 percent of Americans now hold 38 percent of the nation’s wealth, up from just under 34 percent a decade ago, while the bottom 90 percent holds about 23 percent of the wealth, down from 28 percent.
Within those numbers are significant racial and ethnic gaps. The Pew Research Center reports that since the Great Recession of the last decade, white families continue to hold more wealth than other demographic groups.
In addition, while we may not know the exact numbers ourselves, we do understand our economic system is not working for many of us. The World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, this month released polling results. They reveal that Americans, along with people in other developed nations, are losing faith in capitalism. Nearly two-thirds of Americans surveyed no longer believe our economic system is a path to upward mobility.
“Deep Throat” steered the intrepid reporters toward criminal activities that changed the course of our nation and made millions of Americans distrustful of our government. The ebb and flow of money is not usually criminal, but it affects all of us, and we should be aware of when and how. We should also press for policy changes when we believe they are needed.
- Monday, 21 January 2019
- Written by KARL MERRITT
Outrage seems to be constantly present in today’s American society. No matter how insignificant or lacking in justification, a group of people will be outraged at almost every occurrence. Not only is there outrage at the insignificant and unjustified events; more importantly, outrage is too often misplaced. That is, it is directed at one component of a situation when other, deserving components are met with little or no outrage.
As I write this on Jan. 10, a glaring case of misplaced outrage is reflected in what is happening regarding President Trump’s call for improved security on our southern border. His insistence on funding for measures to secure that border, including walls in some areas, has resulted in a partial government shutdown. That shutdown is continuing because Democrats will not agree, or even negotiate, to provide funding for walls.
Trump argues that there is a crisis at the border. What follows are some statements from his Jan. 8 Oval Office speech that define the crisis. Fact-checkers have challenged several of his statements, but I believe these survive the challenges:
“But all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled, illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African-Americans and Hispanic Americans.”
“Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs, including meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl. Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across from our southern border. More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.”
“In the last two years, ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records, including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes and 4,000 violent killings. Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country, and thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now.”
“Last month, 20,000 migrant children were illegally brought into the United States — a dramatic increase. These children are used as human pawns by vicious coyotes and ruthless gangs. One in three women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico. Women and children are the biggest victims, by far, of our broken system.”
“America’s heart broke the day after Christmas when a young police officer in California was savagely murdered in cold blood by an illegal alien, who just came across the border. The life of an American hero was stolen by someone who had no right to be in our country.”
“Over the last several years, I’ve met with dozens of families whose loved ones were stolen by illegal immigration. I’ve held the hands of the weeping mothers and embraced the grief-stricken fathers. So sad. So terrible. I will never forget the pain in their eyes, the tremble in their voices and the sadness gripping their souls.”
The president made a solid case. Even beyond what he presented, there are reports of new caravans forming in Honduras. This is beyond the few thousand people already waiting in Tijuana, Mexico, for asylum screening at the U.S. border entry point. One forming caravan is estimated at 15,000.
The border situation is further complicated by the shift in who is crossing illegally. This from an article by Miriam Jordan titled “Eight-Year-Old Migrant Child from Guatemala Dies in U.S. Custody.”
“The Border Patrol apprehended 25,172 people in family units in November, compared with 7,016 the same month a year earlier.”
This dramatic increase in the number of persons illegally crossing in family units complicates processing these immigrants. A court ruling requires that children be held no more than 20 days. The facilities where illegal immigrants are held were built when most illegal immigrants were adult males. Consequently, these facilities are not suitable for holding children. Since a court ruling also prohibits separating children from parents, children are temporarily held in these facilities. There is also insufficient space for housing the numbers of illegal immigrants entering across the southern border. These conditions necessitate “catch and release.” That is, illegal immigrants are released into our country to await a hearing, before an immigration judge, regarding their asylum request. All of this speaks to migrants who are apprehended. Clearly, many more are not apprehended and go on to live in America illegally.
There is outrage from Democrats and their cohorts because of what they see as inhumane conditions under which children are held. Their outrage was intensified by the deaths of two children who died in the custody of the Border Patrol after being apprehended crossing the border illegally.
One was a 7-year-old girl and the other was an 8-year-old boy. The girl, with her father, made the 2,000-mile dangerous and demanding trip from Guatemala. The boy made the same trip with his father. Reports indicate both fathers brought their child on the arduous trip because they understood having a child with them would make it more likely that they would gain entry to America.
What has been described to this point is a crisis. Now consider how the Democrats are responding to this crisis and to what Trump proposes to do.
First, they call for investigations of the deaths of the two children and how illegal immigrants are being treated. Second, they want extensive medical examinations of children who are apprehended crossing the border illegally.
Third, Suzanne Gutierrez wrote this in an article titled “Congressman Castro demands top border official resign after migrant girl’s death.” It reads, “Democratic Rep. Joaquín Castro issued a call for the head of Customs and Border Protection to step down for failing to speedily report the death of a 7-year-old girl while in border officials’ custody.”
Fourth, Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House, and Chuck Schumer, senate minority leader, both Democrats, refuse to negotiate with Trump on wall funding.
Finally, in one meeting with the president, Pelosi and Schumer refused to listen to a presentation by Kirstjen Nielsen, Homeland Security secretary, in which she would detail border conditions. In a second meeting, when Nielsen presented facts, Pelosi said she did not trust the facts.
The Democratic response to this crisis is wrapped in outrage. As of today, following the president’s Oval Office address, they have labelled his actions and position as a “Manufactured Crisis.” Note that in all of their outrage, none is directed at those fathers who brought children, for the personal benefit of the fathers, on that dangerous journey. Further, Democrats and their cohorts, especially in the liberal media, express no outrage in response to the harm, and negative impact, of illegal immigration on bona fide Americans.
The president, in that Oval Office address, painted a clear picture of the negative impact of illegal immigration on American citizens. Among what he presented was the case of Cpl. Ronil Singh. He was a police officer in Newman, California, a husband, the father of a 5-month-old son and a legal immigrant. After stopping a suspected drunken driver, Singh was shot and killed. A few days after the shooting, Gustavo Perez Arriaga, an illegal immigrant, was arrested and charged with killing Singh.
I contend a statement by Pelosi reflects the attitude and priority held by most Democratic members of Congress — and by liberal media. The following is from an article by Kerry Picket titled “Pelosi says stories like Ronil Singh’s are ‘tragic,’ but not enough to call a crisis.”
“The Daily Caller asked Pelosi at her weekly presser if she would still describe the border issue as a ‘manufactured crisis’ to people who have lost relatives to overdoses from the drugs flowing across the border, or to families that have lost loved ones to crimes by illegal immigrants, like Corporal Ronil Singh’s.
‘“What I would say to families like that is what I would say to the president regularly,’ Pelosi replied. ‘These are tragic situations. There’s a tragic situation at the border. Two little children died in the custody of Border Patrol, but the plural anecdote is not data.’”
There is burning outrage in defense of people who break into this country, but pure calm when bona fide Americans are abused, killed, suffer in employment and are made to financially support people who break our laws and force their way into our country.
This is misplaced outrage, and Americans better respond with appropriately placed outrage that produces responses that are reasoned, legal, civil and effective.