Letters to the Editor, May 19

May. 18, 2014 @ 12:14 PM

They’re back; so’s Moral Monday

They're b-a-a-ck.  Republican state legislators did their utmost last year to undermine the well-being of teachers, kids, women of reproductive age and anyone who's fallen on hard times.  Now they've returned for their short session, to continue pandering to the wealthy and doing damage to the rest of us.

Of all the awful things they've done, rejecting Medicaid expansion is the one that I, as a retired health professional, find most reprehensible – and most incomprehensible.  Health care is a human right, and 500,000 more North Carolinians would have health coverage right now if our legislature had not chosen, in a senseless political gesture, to turn down federal funding that would have paid for this expansion entirely for three years, and almost entirely afterward. 

That funding not only would provide health services for those who need it; it also would create thousands of jobs in the health care sector:  good, long-term, satisfying jobs.  That's real job creation, not the fantasy “job creation” used as an excuse for lowering taxes on the rich.  It's not too late to stop the insanity, accept federal Medicaid funding, and do the right thing for our state. 

They're back, and so are we.  Moral Mondays resume Monday, 5-7p.m., on Jones Street.  Y'all come on out.  Let's let them know this isn't the way we want our state run, and let's support our good Durham legislators who are fighting the good fight over there, despite the odds.

Joan F. Walsh


Googling to stupidity?

I heard a disturbing statistic recently regarding what has to be a trend indicating the dumbing down of society.  Seems 25 percent of high school graduates cannot read at the appropriate level, and around 38 percent of those same graduates cannot do basic math.

Keep in mind -- these are “graduates.”  Our phones are getting “smarter,” but our brains appear to be going in the opposite direction.  We can access the answer to almost any question via Google, but can’t process basic skills required for productive living.

Although the Bible doesn’t actually state, “man will get wiser and weaker,” the context of that statement is regrettably becoming a fact.  Sure, there are likely contributing factors aside from smart technology that add to this dismaying formula, however, when someone has to be told they can’t drive safely while looking down texting, something has gone very much astray.

The United States is no longer the leading hub for intelligence, and no matter how “smart” our devices become, they can’t and shouldn’t ever be relied upon or substituted for old-fashioned reasoning, computation and communications skills.  (I wouldn’t be surprised if the next stat informs us “we are able to compose and send text messages at amazing speed, but are not able to spell adequately.”)

Life and true progress require thinking -- individual thinking, not “social thinking.”  Spending a lot of time on Facebook won’t fill your brains with facts.  Googling the answer doesn’t mean you know the answer.

John I. Mayo


Protect farm-worker children

I am writing in response to the recent report released by Human Rights Watch entitled “Tobacco’s Hidden Children: Hazardous Child Labor in U.S. tobacco farming.” I agree that it is time for U.S. law to protect farmworker children just as it does for children working in every other industry.

I come from a tobacco farming family in East Tennessee that farmed burley tobacco. I still even have a few pictures of me at 11 or 12 riding on the back of a planter. However, working at 12 on my family’s farm is much different than working on a corporate farm as the children in the report were doing. Corporate farms use more pesticides and grow more acreage than a family farm. Also, children working on such farms do not receive the training or supervision necessary to perform this hazardous work. I assure you that my granddaddy and uncle watched over my cousins and me while we were working. Not only that, but I remember being taught how to perform the work, and I was never allowed to top the tobacco until I was much older.

Children working on big N.C. tobacco farms are allowed to work during each step of the tobacco harvest. They are being exposed to high levels of nicotine and pesticides, which is damaging their developing bodies. It is time our child labor laws protect farm-worker children from hazardous work. This is 2014, not 1930. It’s time that our law looked like it.

Rachel  L Wright