Bad News vs Christmas Cheer?

Somehow this December, as people seek to make “peace on earth, good will to men” into more than a haunting refrain, bad news is spreading like the frost–surrounding us, settling into crevices of our lives, and lasting longer as the sun’s visits grow shorter.

This past week, with peace on earth so obviously a fantasy, I accepted that things were not getting better. But wouldn’t it be great if they stopped getting worse?

The price of insulin increased again–now up 64 percent since 2014. Can it just stop now? Or is greed truly insatiable? .

And with a judge in Texas ruling that last year’s Congressional revisions made the entire Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, is it too much to hope a higher court will disagree–or that Congress will create a new plan far better than the  “Trumpcare” of 2017 that threatened to triple costs for people in their 60s and end coverage for preexisting conditions?

Will disagreement over the border wall lead to closing down the government? The threat has been out there so long, employees may have enough vacation time saved up, but will employment offices, veterans services, or national parks still function?

After the forced resignation of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, could we just get a successor who isn’t as devoted to opening public lands and waters to gas companies?

We have little but hope and prayers left to prevent Hilcorp from destroying part of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge with spills similar to their earlier ones that released natural gas into the Cook Inlet for four months and left 850 gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

And not even hope and prayers will prevent the suffering of Atlantic marine mammals now that the Interior Department has approved seismic blasts every 30 seconds all day, every day, for weeks and months.

After the United States recently championed coal and oil at the U.N. climate meetings in Poland, I’m not sure that we could be shamed more. Still, we could hope to slow our pollution. . After no growth in carbon emissions in 2015 and 2016, we’re now setting new records. And the administration seems set on allowing higher methane emissions near well heads.

And what is this about the government planning to deport 8,000 Vietnam refugees who entered the country prior to 1979?  Many acted as translators, drivers, and aides for our troops. Now the government plans to separate them from children and grandchildren who are U.S. citizens.  We will violate former guarantees and cause great pain, but gain nothing.

Admittedly, that’s more than enough despair for any one week. Let me finish up with some things that may actually be getting better.

A court has ruled that the Department of Education must help those with student loan debts for fraudulent schools the Department should not have approved.

A reconciliation of the farm bills passed by both houses of Congress should pass this week. It has problems, but it saves some programs from extinction and shows that Republican and Democratic factions in Congress can compromise.

And the bipartisan First Step Act seems headed for Senate action.  The bill would ease the mandatory sentences now required in Federal courts and allow prisoners to earn time off by participating in vocational and rehabilitative programs.  It passed the House in May, 360-59. It will not only help Federal prisoners, but will be a model for future changes in state laws.

May we each cherish some good will–and actions–toward all this holiday season.

Note this editorial by Judy Ferro published by Idaho Press – 2018

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