Archive for April, 2018

251 – Closed Minds or Open Mines

Sunday, April 29th, 2018

By Hetty Gray

April 27, 2018

# 251

“Closed Minds, Open Mines”

Accustomed to writing a column once a week for decades, I find myself writing when a topic strikes me as particularly germane. Not one to shy away from politics given my background as a history and government teacher, determination tops reticence when the situation demands it.

I have friends from West Virginia. I remember when coalmines splashed across the front pages of widely read newspapers (nearly extinct) to cover a mine disaster. Lives cut short deep underground and the anguished waiting as families gathered to learn if their loved ones were dead or alive. Banner headlines and broadcast news reports kept the public up to speed on the turn of events.

Mining is a hazardous business. I can appreciate that because my husband is a farmer and farming ranks high among dangerous occupations. Although mining losses come in high numbers when a disaster strikes, farm deaths continue to mount one by one over time. More often than not, one can chalk many of the deaths up to inattention. The old saying that a “careless farmer is a dead farmer” rings true yet today. Safety, you see, is job one.

There is a gentle charisma among miners. Loretta Lynn brought the close family life to America in her poignant ballad, “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” With technology front and center on the job front, younger Americans have lost the respect for hard work. Hard work. Dirty work. Needed work. Families are close. Families cling to faith. Never take electricity for granted. Miners began the wattage you use. They move the gears of this country. Far too often, we fail to remember that.

The industry cites a great supply and the federal government affirms it. The U.S. Energy Information Association gives the following facts. “Based on U.S. coal production in 2016 of about 0.73 billion short tons, the recoverable coal reserves would last about 348 years, and recoverable reserves at producing mines would last about 23 years. The actual number of years that those reserves will last depends on changes in production and reserves estimates.” The map that follows illustrates just where those reserves are.

Yet, it was not so long ago that one of the most contentious political discussions in the 2016 presidential campaign hinged on coal. One candidate pledged to “put coal companies out of business.” And, as if that were not enough, the public was encouraged to believe that coal was the worst possible source for power. Clamoring for renewable sources is fine, but there are drawbacks. Remember, please, that wind is highly subsidized. Without subsidies, wind would not be affordable.

We evolve. With every generation we see great strides in energy. Just consider energy early in the 20th century and compare that to what we use today. Even with all the computer savvy jobs, the nation requires affordable transportation and electricity.

Enter a president who understands business and resources. Donald Trump followed through on his campaign promise to remember the coal miners. He recognized the importance of coal production.

Once hobbled by government regulations and restrictions, the clean coal industry (yes, clean!) is once again working away below ground to claim the fuel to generate the electricity that fuels our economy. The widely dispersed comments masked a hidden political goal — government-run lives. A public without choice is crippled.

Our government holds the reins to the economy, and when it unleashes the ingenuity and determination of the American worker, literally nothing is impossible. In the 1970s some began to issue warnings about “global cooling.” Few bought the line, so their tactic changed. “Global warming” became the mantra.

Odd situation. You see, those who push the dangers of fossil fuel fly around on jets but want us to drive electric cars. Nice logic, huh? They pocket huge sums of money and solicit donations from the public convinced that we are fueling our own demise. With hundreds of years in supply and better and better mining techniques, their message should fall on deaf ears. But it doesn’t. Reminds me a bit of the snake oil salesman in the 1800s American West.

It will be interesting to see what happens in West Virginia this year. Their democratic senator is up for election. Yet his party is the one that threatened mine closures. Coal remains a mainstay for his state.

Will this be the triumph of closed minds over open mines? It is hard to predict the effect that all the anti-coal press could have on national voting, so the West Virginia vote might not give us an accurate picture. What we need is solid education based on fact not emotion, based on accurate assessment and not on assumption.

Senator Joe Manchin voted with President Trump to block regulations that would have killed coalmining jobs. So, too, did Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul of Kentucky, plus West Virginia’s other senator, Shelley Moore Capito. In November, Manchin faces a competitor. Just who it is will remain up in the air until voters go to the polls on May 8th. I doubt if they will reflect mainstream media and its minions. It is easy to see that both coasts constitute the bulwark of rampant liberalism. These liberals consider those of us in “fly over country” rubes and hillbillies. Well, we common folk make this country run. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the West Virginia elections this year.

Americans who yearn to see a government run like a business — not operating in the red — shudder to think that poor civics education given our youth might sway power back to the poor management seen in the last administration. Sacrifice is never popular. The men and women who won World War II are disappearing daily. With each succeeding generation, we seem to have lost the importance of loyalty to country and faith in God. If it continues at a rapid pace, it could be our undoing.

It took decades for us to pile up the national debt. It will take decades to get back to solvency. Sadly, today’s young people seem to think everything happens quickly. The one worry many of us have is that too many among us are impatient. They have been taught that government is the answer to everything. It is not. Oh, my, it is not….

Consider the wisdom of President Ronald Reagan: “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” That still holds true today. Humor is the soul of wit. Reagan exuded both. I close with another Reagan quote.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

As I see it, there is no better way for this nation to lose its freedom than to keep the public uneducated and dependent. We are well on our way to both. Think about it.

250 – Culture Change

Sunday, April 29th, 2018

By Hetty Gray

# 250

February 15, 2018

“Cultural Change: Deadly”

It’s a given. I am a senior citizen. As such, on many occasions I have seen more of life than I needed to see.

Yesterday is a prime example. I remember Columbine. All of us do. I remember the Hoosier native, a teacher, who gave his life to protect his students. I remember it all.

Since that time, we have witnessed twenty-four more school shootings. How has this happened? It is a question many of us ask.

Well, turn back the clock — culturally. I am a child of the 1940s. Our parents’ generation fought and won World War II. Our grandparents endured World War I. The world they bequeathed to us gave my generation a stable start in life. Their sacrifice and hard work rubbed off on us. They knew the value of human life. They had seen too much of it destroyed. We learned respect for our elders, a strong work ethic, and the value of a good education, whether in the trades or via a college or university.

Our main entertainment was radio, and even today Radio Spirits, and similar companies, broadcast the old shows much to my delight. Movies featured violence, but it was quick and far less vivid than today. True, Edward G. Robinson was a gangster and his movies had guns involved; but there was a difference. The good won out over the bad. Bad was seen as bad.

And then there were the westerns, or “oaters.” Directors like legendary John Ford captivated America with his western movies. We watched Gary Cooper, Gene Autry, John Wayne, Walter Brennan, Tom Mix, Allen “Rocky” Lane, Andy Devine, and Chill Wills. One handsome actor reminded me of our neighbor across the street, local surgeon Norm Richard. That actor? Swashbuckling Glenn Ford.

Good guys wore white hats. They valued liberty and stood for truth. They used their guns to defend the weak and enforce the law. The bad guys, attired in dark colors, earned their names: bad guys.

My memories of those days flash vividly. We watched the “shoot ‘em up” films, but none of us took them too seriously. But, then again, we were not bombarded with violence from every corner. Our games were Monopoly, card games, and checkers. A few of our brighter peers played chess.

Guns were a fact of life for rural kids. Townspeople kept guns at home. In fact, it was not unusual to see guns in the back windows of pickup trucks in high school parking lots. In the 1930s high schools had shooting clubs around the state. Students brought their rifles to school and kept them in their lockers until they went to the shooting range with an instructor.

Yes, our high school experience was far different from today, but a gentler one in many ways. The occasional fight might break out among a few crude teenagers, but those were very rare. Discipline was not questioned. It was reality.

When Principal Jim Sharp walked down the hall of our high school, he parted the students like Moses did the waters. A swish and a clunk in the hallway meant that a cantankerous student was held, feet off the floor, up against a locker. He had rules. He enforced them. None of us got angry and went home for a gun either. And plenty of our houses had guns. I know mine did.

I graduated in 1961 before the hippie era. Our generation saw no drugs. We only read about “opium dens,” and that was in world history. We didn’t see illegal drugs or anyone that might have frequented them. We took drugs (medicines) only when we were sick. To do otherwise was unknown.

Once the specter of drugs, love children, and open sexuality hit the streets, the game was all but over. The transformation of entertainment nailed the coffin of American teenage innocence shut with a bang — no gun pun intended. When our youth became obsessed with games lionizing death and crime, seeds were sown more widely than a thunderstorm dumping Canadian thistle on an Indiana cornfield — easily sown, a constant battle to eradicate.

The evolution of movies from wholesome to insulting only added to the problem. Thugs wreaking havoc and carnage on city streets replaced strong male role models in actors like Robert Young, Ray Milland, Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart, and Joseph Cotton. The number of youngsters living in single-family homes began to skyrocket. None of us is better for that.

In the wake of Broward County Florida’s terrible events of Valentine’s Day, some will scream “gun control!” Well, guns don’t kill people. People kill people. A gun left alone in a room is harmless. In the hands of an evil person, a gun is a weapon of unimaginable damage. And so what do we do? Well, why not adopt the Israeli system?

Israel’s schools remain secure. Building security is high, and unidentified teachers carry concealed weapons. Despite the Palestinian rocket attacks on innocents that have gone on for decades, no school is Israel recorded a live shooting incident. True, Israel is a tiny country, and their culture is homogeneous; but their basic plan is solid.

Try to get into a courthouse or federal building in the United States. If you carry legally, your weapon will remain at the entrance under guard. You may be frisked or go through a metal detector. If we keep political and administrative offices safe, shouldn’t we do the same for our schools?

Just how much are our kids’ lives worth anyway? Are they worth a secure building with only limited entry? Are they worth anonymous conceal carry teachers? It’s only common sense, but — then again — that is nearly nonexistent today. Would that it were different….

I do not speak without experience. A 73-year-old grandmother with a lifetime permit to carry, I received my gun training at the FOP firing range by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department when I worked for then Prosecuting Attorney Jim Lisher in the early 1980s. Once in a great while mainstream news will air a story of a person carrying a gun who thwarts a robbery or worse or a mother who defends her home, but — sadly — the news usually concentrates on gun criminals, not citizens defending themselves.

The five million plus members of the NRA stand for personal protection guaranteed by the right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment is sacrosanct to them, and to me. It should be to you, too.

The Florida school shooting will bring out slings and arrows from both sides of the gun control issue. However, we do need to remember that the once widespread system of mental health hospitals so common in the United States was dismantled decades ago. Moreover, child rearing became a sporting event for litigious parents who threatened lawsuit if a child was reprimanded.

Once a strong social triangle existed, and it forged an important relationship key to a child’s success. As you know the triangle is the strongest form in geometry. The best example is a pyramid. Think Egypt….

That once strong triangle consisted of the school and the parents for the child. It has morphed, much to society’s loss, to the parent and the child against the school. With the school leg gone, the triangle collapsed — and with it the once strong bond that held the whole relationship together.

However, we cannot ignore the violence to which our children have been exposed. I shudder to calculate the number of murders and violent scenes today’s elementary school children have seen. Now extrapolate those numbers they have seen by the time they reach high school. Constant exposure to violence desensitizes. Empathy and sympathy evaporate. Jaded attitudes reign. Reality falls by the wayside. Everything begins again after the lights go up in the theatre or the commercial ends the episode on TV.

And what of the responsibility legitimately shouldered by video game manufacturers and Hollywood? Oh, celebrities are right up there on their pedestals when it comes to telling us how to live; yet, their medium erodes the very foundation upon which this nation was founded.

Oh, dear. God is the first in line here.

Talk show hosts and anchors mock faith in God as a weakness or as if it is a dread disease. Far from it, faith anchors your life when all else around you collapses. Trace the school violence back to the time when we took God out of the schools.

Exposure breeds mimicry. Undoubtedly, superhero movies will remain popular, but they are pure fantasy. In contrast, gang movies and gratuitous violence offer absolutely no redeeming social value.

Without moral guidance and authority, anarchy looms. When you add the problem of edited textbooks and leftist instructors who paint America as the pariah of the world, the recipe is nothing short of disaster. We teeter on the edge of just such a disaster today.

Prayerfully remember the families of students and staff murdered on February 14th. Each of the murdered went to school yesterday morning expecting to go home. They did not. Each of you has a local school board. Make your concerns known. Insist on security. Every school, large or small, is at risk. Big cities are not alone in their vulnerability. Sad, but true….

Think about Israel. Israelis are determined to keep their freedom and they are prepared to defend it. They safeguard their children and tell them the truth about the world around them. We sugarcoat it here. While it does take away a part of innocence that should be inherent in growing up, informing children about dangers around them is critical.

Every technology has within it an element of danger. The Internet we view as a wonderful tool, the criminal sees as a fast method of communicating evil. For all its good points, it harbors evil within.

Leadership does not end in the home. It extends to the federal level, or one would hope…. I fear that we have become a nation without moral clarity and respect for law. Cities and states that refuse to obey the law are criminal entities and should be treated as such. This bent view of authority must be nipped in the bud, to quote Deputy Barney Fife. Press your elected officials to support federal law. Don’t just sit in the kitchen and complain about it to one another. Voters have impact. Make yours known.

How much are 17 lives worth? Locked doors? Full time security guards? Contrast these costs with school athletic budgets. Today, speaking to a group of Sheriffs from around the country, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made this statement: “The right to remain safe is the number one right of every American and the responsibility of every one of you.” (Audience was made up of law enforcement officials.) He is right.

A lack of safety costs precious lives, lives to be forever unfulfilled, we must face a sobering fact. School safety is the seminal issue of our time. As a parent and grandparent, I want to see something done to assure that children are safe. Do you? Think about it.

Well, not today. Don’t just think about it. Find a way to do something about it. All politics is local. Every locality has a school. Starting small is still a start.