In Defense of Trees

Look out your window and count the trees. Now visualize that landscape with every other tree removed. It’s a sad picture.

In the early 1930’s, due to major deforestation, our nation faced that problem. Franklin Delano Roosevelt fixed it. According to Douglas Brinkley’s new book – Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America – FDR’s Civilian Conservation Core (CCC) planted fifty percent of America’s current tree population. Unemployed men planted 3 billion – yes billion – trees across the country. Today’s federal and state governments are too polarized to address such important issues.

FDR wasn’t without opposition. The Republican Party hated The New Deal. They argued the Federal government overreached and invested in programs they shouldn’t be concerned with, though the CCC uniquely enjoyed bipartisan support. FDR’s CCC was successful because the majority of Congress and Americans agreed that trees are generally good and deforestation is generally bad. Both parties understood the negative impacts of deforestation and the positive impacts of putting young men to work.

If introduced in today’s politics, a program like the CCC would be doomed. The prevailing political climate – especially on the right – demands candidates do more than oppose government spending on issues like the environment. Candidates and representatives must disagree with science, with math, and – in many cases – with common sense. Regardless of how learned our society has become, the halls of Congress drain this knowledge from our leaders’ minds and force them to contradict basic principals taught in middle school texts.

Issues are so polarized that voters take nonsensical positions for the sake of opposition. In time, they start believing their nonsensical positions are factual. Greenhouse gases are fine. Pollution is okay. Math is wrong.

With such polarization, could today’s 114th Congress and our voters agree that trees are generally good? I doubt it.

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Please, Act Like Children

When I started writing 12 years ago, I promised myself I’d never compose anything political. Aside from Flyers hockey, politics is one of the few topics that get me fired up. Afraid emotions would cloud my judgment, I stayed away. The current presidential campaign goads me.

In my lifetime, most presidential campaigns hit a period pundits call “silly season”. Candidates promise the undeliverable. Mud slings. Ads bend the truth. Never in my lifetime has a campaign been described as dangerous. For now, disregard the events in Chicago. First, lets focus on one of the last GOP debates. Fox News asked their viewers to describe the debate in one word. Their answers – Disgusting. Childish. Fifth Grade level. The next day, prominent papers also used the terms schoolyard and grade school. Now this campaign has offended another group. We’ve insulted Mexicans, Japanese, Muslims, African Americans, and now grade school kids. If I was ten-years-old, I’d be pretty upset if someone pointed to Trump’s or Rubio’s behavior and said, hey you act the same way.

Are our kids really that bad? Even wild kids have downtime. Many kids have periods of acting out or bad moods, just like any adult can be moody. And a few show a pattern of misbehavior. They prove their disposition is to be irritable, combative, and mean. But are most kids like this now? With two daughters under the age of three, is this what I have to look forward to? Is grade school going to be unbearable?

Then, the other night, my wife had on MasterChef Junior. It showcased kids from all walks of life and all races in a cooking competition. As the show went on, it struck me. This group of ten-year-olds genuinely cared for one another, even though they were after the same prize. As they finished that episode’s challenges, they hugged. They cried when one of the kids was cut from the game and sent home. There was no anger. There was no hate. They recognized they were different, but they talked about how that made them interesting, not scary.

The pundits are wrong. The comparison is wrong. It would be a welcome change to see the candidates act like children.

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Vote for my Lil

Shameless plug and I know I haven’t written here in a while.

Take some time to vote for my Lil.


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