Our Nobel Prize Winner For Literature Recognizes Change

Ed Raymond

I have to write this column a day before the election in order to make a publishing date, so it will be interesting on November 10 to see whether Americans voted for “change” or not. Both politicians were running to make changes in our society, believe it or not. Republicans wanted to go back to a time before same-sex marriages, Rose v. Wade, affirmative action, income tax, ObamaCare, Social Security, OSHA, EPA, FDA, Brown v. Board of Education, and mini-skirts. Democrats wanted some controls on Wall Street, improved ObamaCare or single-payer healthcare, solutions for climate change, protections for gays and minorities in the workplace, a higher minimum wage, and a tax code that makes individuals and corporations pay their “fair” share, whatever that is. I wonder how it will turn out.

  I was surprised for about three seconds that Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature because I have always hated to listen to him. A gravelly voice in a rain barrel. But he writes beautiful poetry. In the third stanza of his famous “The Times They Are A-Changin’” song he has a warning for politicians and society:

“Come senators, congressmen/ Please heed the call/ Don’t stand in the doorway, Don’t block up the hall

For he that gets hurt/ Will be he who is stalled/ There’s a battle outside/ And it is ragin’/

It’ll soon shake your windows/ And rattle your walls/ For the times they are a-changin’.”

I have been a news junkie since voting for Dwight Eisenhower for president, but I have never seen a presidential election like this one. It’s worse than politics in the third world. I think it’s the first time that a major newspaper from one state actually endorsed an incumbent governor from another state. Governor Pat McCrory and the Republican Legislature passed the famous “bathroom bill” requiring transgenders to use the bathroom of the gender listed on their birth certificate. Attitudes about gays and religion nationally have been “a-changin’” so much over the last decade that the outrage was immediate. To add insult to injury, the Legislature passed a law banning local governments from passing LGBTQ anti-discrimination policies. Businesses have boycotted North Carolina, sporting events, concerts by world-renown entertainers, and national conventions have cancelled out. The state has already lost about $400 million in income, but the pullout of CoStar Group, a real estate research firm, when it decided on Richmond, Virginia,  instead of Charlotte, North Carolina, for their head office (730 jobs), seemed to arouse the interest of Virginia in keeping McCrory in the NC governor’s seat. The Roanoke Virginia Times thought it would be good to keep the bigot McCrory in power in North Carolina—so it endorsed him!! Weird stuff happens. McCrory is trailing his Democratic opponent today. I wonder……..


The KKK Crusader, A White “Christian” Newspaper, Endorsed Donald Trump For President


The Ku Klux Klan and other white nationalist groups were revived and exhilarated by the hysterical rants of Donald Trump. If Trump has won, will American whites try to make the United States a White “Christian” Republic again?  The KKK’s major newspaper, the Crusader (“The Political Voice of White Christian America”), adopted Trump’s campaign pitch about making “America Great Again.” The Crusader’s website says its main goal is to “stop white genocide.” Has the KKK forgotten that its white-sheeted, hooded terrorists lynched an estimated 3,496 blacks and 1,297 whites for supporting blacks over a period of 86 years---trying to make the United States a white “Christian” nation?

In its endorsement of Trump, the paper editorially rhapsodized: “But can it happen? Can America be really great again? This is what we will soon find out. …What made America great in the first place?...America was great not because of what our forefathers did—but because of what our forefathers were. America was founded as a White Christian Republic. And as a White Christian Republic it became great.”  The Kluxers and white nationalists seem to forget that many of the “Founding Fathers” were actually Deists, according to reputable historians. And why did the Pilgrims and Puritans risk life and limb crossing the Atlantic? To escape religious harassment and persecution in England and Europe. Read about the effects of the Thirty-Years War. True believers should also read Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson essays about religion.


The Country Is “A-Changin’”


While Congress has been sitting on its elite, well-paid fat butt for the last eight years trying its best to destroy the black witch doctor from Kenya Barack Obama, the country has been “movin’” on. Because of ballot initiatives I’m guessing medical marijuana will be available to a majority of the country. Recreational marijuana will probably be available in four more states. Americans are finally learning that for-sale-or-rent Congresspersons have taken enough money from Big Pharma. How many people have died from an overdose of pot? None. How many die from an overdose of alcohol?  Thousands each year. How many women die every day from opioid prescription painkillers peddled by Big Pharma by the ton? Eighteen. How do tons of opioids such as oxycodone, codeine, and morphine derivatives end up on the streets? Big Pharma makes opioids available to all drug dealers—hospitals, doctors, or  dealers on the streets. Big Pharma operates on a 23% profit margin. So this is the land of $1,000 pills for cancer, 400% increases in insulin for diabetes, $600 EpiPens for toxic reactions, half of U.S. bankruptcies created by high medical costs, $10,000-a-day hospital rooms, $1,000-an-hour surgeons, and double the healthcare costs of other industrialized nations. If Clinton is elected, will the Republican House try another 55 times to repeal ObamaCare?

Coloradans voted on creating a single-payer system in the election. The system would pay for the healthcare coverage of all citizens with a 10% payroll tax. It’s such an interesting proposition all hospital associations and insurance companies are opposed to it. Can you imagine a government controlling doctor, hospital, and prescription costs—like every civilized country in the world does, except for the United States? Kaiser Foundation research reveals that premiums for employer-sponsored insurance programs have risen more than three times faster than wages, and now total $18,000 a year—for fewer services. For every dollar an employer spends for an employee’s health plan, one dollar is removed from that employee’s take-home pay. An employee in France or Germany pays half that. It’s time for a makeover. I think a Florida mom who delivered her baby in the hospital parking lot after a fast drive would agree.  She was charged the full price of $7,000 and she never used the delivery room!


Didn’t The Republican Supreme Court Say There Was No More Racial Discrimination In The US?


Race was a big thing in the 2016 election. It was basically the White Male Party v. Everyone Else Party. Hopefully it was the last battle of the American Civil War. Having lived in Washington, D.C. for a year while stationed at Quantico, Virginia back in 1954, Corky and I have experienced Jim Crow and “Separate but Equal” in the old South. We observed the deprivation and poverty in the many black sections of D.C. proper.  Their economic situation has not changed much. It could be a major task of the next administration, depending on who is elected.

A study by the Urban Institute indicates the net worth of white households in the D.C. region is 81 times that of black households. In the Bush recession of 2007-09 black and Hispanic households lost half of their wealth. In 2014 white households had a net worth of $284,000 compared to black households of $3,500. Net worth is the value of assets minus debt. Laws established as early as 1840 banned blacks from owning and operating restaurants and taverns. The present Forbes 100 billionaires are as rich as all 46.3 million black Americans. Black farm and domestic workers were excluded from Social Security until the late 1950’s. Over a 30-year period starting in the late 1960’s only two percent of FHA and GI Bill home loans went to black families. Government programs helped create a white middle class—but not a black one. Get real. Slavery and Jim Crow is still with us in the study of black family wealth. A study by Brandeis sociologist Thomas Shapiro reveals that, because blacks have so much less wealth to start with, a dollar increase in income for a white family yields an increase of $5.19 in wealth, a dollar increase for black families increases their wealth by only 69 cents. Black unemployment rate is twice that of whites. Blacks with education experiences equal to whites earn as much as 22% less than whites in similar jobs. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts made the statement in 2013 that racial discrimination did not exist in the United States any longer in his 5-4 majority opinion gutting voting rights laws. It was pure racial politics, not a judgment based on precedent or historical facts.


What Will The Next Administration Do About Our Firearm Deaths?


Will the new administration do anything about the fact that practically every street in the U.S. has an OK Corral? The last October weekend in Chicago saw 17 killed and 40 wounded in its corrals. Great Britain had 574 firearm deaths in 2014. We had over 33,000 with over 100,000 wounded. GB has a population of 65 million; we have 326 million. If we had the same firearm death rate as GB we would have only 2,870 firearm deaths instead of 33,000. Are we that different? Do we have the Hatfield-McCoy radical gene?  Why should Americans be ten times more likely to be killed by guns?

A survey of 23 modern, civilized, industrial, Western nations with a total of almost one billion people reveals the U.S. accounts for 82% of all firearm deaths within that group. We kill 90% of the women within that group. We kill 91% of the children under14 within that group. We kill 92% of young people between the ages of 15-24 within that group. Murder is the second leading cause of death among Americans aged 15-24. Murder is the third leading cause of death among those aged 25-34. Americans aged 15-24 are 49 times more likely to be the victim of firearms. For ages 25-34 that number is 32 times more likely. Suicide rates among all age groups are tremendously enhanced because of the number of available firearms. A barrel in the mouth is a surefire method. When will the administration and Congress challenge the National Rifle Association and the gun manufacturer’s lobby to change the Second Amendment Syndrome? Aren’t they getting tired of changing their underwear after each encounter with a gun lobbyist?


A Changing Culture: When Will Religions Lose Their Grip On Politicians?


When will the new administration realize that the largest “faith” group is now the “religion” of “other” in the U.S.? The three largest faith groups now are “nones” at 25%, Roman Catholics at 21%, and white evangelicals at 16%. The rest range from Tennessee Snake Handlers to voodoo chicken sacrificers, Mormons, Catholics turned Episcopalians and Anglicans, atheists, members of the Great Spaghetti Monster Church, deists, agnostics, and about 30,000 other faith groups. If we examine young adults, over 40% of them are “nones.”

Pope Francis helped the Vatican commit religious suicide right in front of young adults by proclaiming women would never be in the pulpits of Catholic cathedrals saying mass. But he added: “But women can do many other things better than men.” Yes, they can. Thinking is one of those things. The poor guy is fighting a losing battle. Six of ten American Catholics think women will make great priests. Some in favor have to be men. And then he has the contraception battle with Catholic Melinda Gates providing birth control pills and devices to 120 million poor women around the world so they can get out of poverty. Yes, the world is “a-changin’.” For the good.