Archive for August, 2019

268 “Metal Urgent”

Friday, August 16th, 2019

By Hetty Gray

# 268 “Metal-Urgent”

August 16, 2019

I take license with the standard metallurgy to pose a question to all of you despite your state of residence.

Harken back to World War II. American households from coast to coast began to donate metal toward the war effort. Vintage newsreels show housewives of all ages dragging everything from old beds to hubcaps… pots and pans to floor lamps… They carried their bounty to waiting trucks that plied the streets of towns and cities across the United States gathering precious metal for the war plants.

A treasure trove of metal reposes across this nation — spied among hills and valleys, backyards and vacant lots, alongside main roads and dirt roads. It sits. It rusts. It decays. Why aren’t those who push for environmental cleanup going after the metal before it loses its value to recycle?

Disregard what we once called “junk yards” or today’s popular “scrap yards.”
Businesses such as these have provided spare parts for us as far back as anyone can remember. Sometimes the inventory comes from wrecked vehicles or commercial demolition. Yet, I would hazard to guess that the smallest percentage of their worn wares comes from people bringing it in for its cash value.

Can you fathom the amount of metal that lies about around this country? It would boggle the mind to even begin to try to figure out the tonnage, but I would bet it is considerable —even shocking!

What if our service clubs, 4-H and youth groups volunteered to gather up the metal and take it to a central hub for shipment to companies ripe for raw materials? What if monetary return were enough to more than tempt people with the stuff on their property to haul it out for cash?

There will always be “collectors” (?) who amass junk vehicles and farm equipment and let it sit idle for years. I guess some folks just can’t part with things. Yet, it makes more sense to accrue a little income from unused items. True, the current values are low. You can expect a low price of around $200 for a 1.3 ton vehicle according to .

In truth, even farmers cannot expect a high value for idle, rusty old farm equipment. Yes, even with the booming world demand for scrap metal, farm machinery that commands high prices is of the old, heavy variety dating back at least a generation or two. The focus here is not “antique” farm
equipment. That’s another story entirely, centered on enthusiasts for things like oil pullers and steel wheeled harvesters.

I just wonder what would happen if we spurred those intent on cleaning up the environment to attack the problem of rusty clutter awash in America.
If the enthusiasm equaled the supply, you could envision stake truck after stake truck lumbering down the back roads and highways carrying their bounty to strategically located collection hubs.

Instead of going out for a leisurely drive only to have the landscape marred by piles of rusting “stuff,” why not anticipate seeing a cleaner view? It is disgusting to think that an entire group of farmers were deprived of making a living to save some little “snail darter” fish; yet, rusting hulks sink into the ground without so much as a second thought from those who clamor for a “cleaner America.”

Scrap yards and junkyards have fences. Open spaces that are cluttered with rusting hulks constitute a blighted landscape. Urban or rural, accumulating junk is unsightly and unworthy of a country steeped in pride and tradition. Metropolitan cities often sponsor clean up taken of Baltimore, Maryland? A lot of that trash it is plastic, but a lot is metal, too. Department of Corrections work details routinely clean up along highways, but those efforts pale in comparison with cleaning up the junk seen off our roads. Granted, rural areas would pose security and escape problems, but why not have corporations and foundations sponsor clean up crews staffed by unemployed men? Jobs equate to money. Money incentivizes upward mobility.

Trash as a step up? Yet, we do have a crisis, one that I dub “metal urgent.” The longer metal sits unused and in the open, the less value it has and the more unsightly it becomes. Face it: there is a lot of junk out there.

If we really attacked this problem, we might be very surprised at the result. Think about it.

267 “Means” August 6, 2019

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

By Hetty Gray


“The Best Means”

It doesn’t take a lot to spark my angst at the slide of today’s society compared to years of my youth. Quite often I take zest in filing a column allied to a historical date or a treasured American holiday and attendant celebration. However, beginning anew with a slightly different take on today, I submit a topic for your assessment.

Columbine, until April 20, 1999, brought to mind a beautiful flower variety. After that date the name linked to a beautiful high school at the outskirts of Denver, Colorado. From that day forward, Columbine became a term recalling fear and death — fear and death at the hands of classmates. The fifteen dead included the two perpetrators.

Video games fueled their fervor for killing and honed shooting skills to effect the highest possible number of casualties. Those of us who live in Indiana remember vividly that teacher Dave Sanders, a Hoosier native, sacrificed his life by using his own body to shield students from the onslaught of bullets.

People have had guns for centuries, but the mindset is different today. No, I do not refer to the ongoing battle over gun laws. Laws only restrain law-abiding citizens. Criminals do not obey laws. In the end, taking guns away from law-abiding citizens will never stave off a mass shooting. A miniscule number of gun crimes are committed by licensed gun owners. Criminals will get guns no matter what laws are on the books.

When you add one more ingredient, the result is ghastly. Mental illness is not a new malady and can be traced as far back as any written history. Mental illness and weapons do not mesh. They constitute a recipe for disaster.

My generation was not privy to the mentally ill awash within the wider society. Physicians and family members saw to it that those so afflicted were put in a facility where they could live in safety and not pose a threat.
Every state had mental hospitals, and I can site one specifically.

A good example is Central State Hospital, Indiana’s first state psychiatric institution, located on West Washington Street in Indianapolis. In 1844, the famous reformer Dorothea Dix inspected almshouses and jails near Indianapolis that housed mentally ill paupers. The hospital served the entire state until 1905, by which time additional hospitals had been constructed in Evansville, Logansport, Madison, and Richmond leaving Central State with patients from 38 counties in central Indiana.

The state recognized that the mentally ill deserved good care and provided it for 150 years. It served the state well, but with the onslaught of people who saw no need for facilities of its kind, Central State Hospital closed its doors for good in1994. In my opinion, Hoosiers are no better for its closure.

The nation’s oldest surviving facility of its kind, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and now houses the Indiana Medical History Museum.

The numbers of mentally ill veterans among the homeless population complicate the problem even more. Sometimes I wonder if there is another ingredient, too. I wonder if we have demanded so little of our youngsters in the last fifty years that they expect life to be easy.

It’s not an idle comment either. Most of my generation had a first job at about 12 or 13 years old. We delivered newspapers, swept floors, car-hopped, washed cars, pumped gas, stocked groceries or bussed tables and washed dishes in restaurants. A very few ever had a car. In fact, most families when I was a teenager had just one car.

Parents expected their teenagers to work, and it wasn’t unusual that the teenager’s wages helped to support the family. At some point that firm parental direction changed. People wanted for their kids to have it “easier” than they did. Yes, teens work today, too, but not in the numbers of decades ago.

When you remove discipline, expectation and faith from the scene, you are left with a grim picture. Low energy? Try an energy drink! Feeling low? Take a pill to feel better. Create an artificial reality.

When things were tough emotionally, a family leaned on both the medical community and the church. There was an iron triangle that held together very well: parents, school, and church. While non-denominational churches grow at an unprecedented rate today, organizers push athletics on Sunday, robbing many families of worship services.

Now, consider prescription drugs. Not oxycodone or hydrocodone or narcotics per se, but anti-depressants. Ever notice the advertisements for anti-depressants? You recognize them, the people who hold up a cardboard face wearing a smile to mask their emotional condition?

Commercial advertising for drugs is a sore point with me. Aside from the ridiculous disclaimers at the end of each ad warning of the possible side effects — including death — is the entire problem of suggestion. How many of these disturbed children have had any real supervision at home?

Combine the demise of the mental hospital, the availability of anti-depressants and the explosion of violent video games that extol killing and desensitize youngsters to any kind of compassion for their fellows, and you seed a nasty result.

A truly worrisome sign of disintegration among young people is the wide use of technology. Sure, cell phones save lives; but they also cost lives. Computers bring the world to the kitchen table, but they also provide a remote platform for pure hatred. We saw bullying in schools during the 1950s and 1960s, but that bullying was up close and personal — face to face — or at least across the playground or the street! Today, children and teens commit suicide because of online bullying.

Cowards fully utilize social media. For years I never used the text function on my phone. Is it handy? Sure it is, but it also represents a real danger for the younger generation. Why? They no longer actually talk to one another. We had a telephone at home, but my folks had rules. At first it was a party line, so more than one family had the same number. Only the number of rings was different. No long conversations and the phone sat in the hall. Privacy? Forget that!

When people lose the skill of talking with one another, they lose the ability to empathize with one another. A person is not a person anymore. The text world is sterile and limited —absent emoji — to 26 letters and 10 numbers.

I am convinced that our schools should teach American history and patriotism from kindergarten. If ignored, history repeats itself. Studying history provides warning signs. With no sense of history, we are doomed.
Today’s problems are complicated and dangerous, but nothing short of a return to ethics and values will solve them. The Bible tells us from its earliest texts what happens when a nation turns its back on God. It bodes ill. Well, America is on that sad road now.

Man can solve just so much. God can solve everything. His ingredients? Love. Hard work. Caring. Sharing. Kindness. Peace. Not a bad recipe, is it?

The final nail in the coffin is the pervasive preaching of gloom and doom. The constant banter of no hope for the future is robbing kids of dreaming and living the American dream. The prime reason for the elections of both Ronald Wilson Reagan and Donald John Trump is that they held out high hopes for the nation. Without that hope, why should our young people have any interest in success or contributing to the society as a whole? The non-stop litany of victimization is useless. They need an entirely new message. How about this one? “When you see a problem, work on how to fix it!”

We are at a tipping point in this society today, and we need a return to faith and family in order to turn things around. Change comes from hard work, and hard work is what we should be expecting, not “freebies.” There is no free lunch and there never will be. Someone pays for it. Likely, you.

The shooter in Dayton was a supporter of Elizabeth Warren. The shooter in EL Paso had expressed his anti-Mexican sentiments long before President Trump took office, yet the wider media focused on the latter not the former. It’s as if the young man in Ohio didn’t exist.

Nothing is solved unless the whole truth is out in the open. It’s been said for as long as I can remember, and it holds true today. “Actions speak louder than words.” Pray for those in El Paso and Dayton. Pray for our President. Detractors are attempting to lay all these deaths at his feet. Nonsense.

President Trump is not anti-immigrant. He is anti-illegal immigrant, and so are the majority of Americans. Support him as he comforts those in Ohio and Texas. We have the means. Do we have the will? Think about it.