From Robert Whitcomb’s “Digital Diary,’’ in GoLocal24.com
As they did with gambling (which can be highly addictive), states, including Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut, are jumping into the marijuana business. Massachusetts (along with Maine and Vermont) has fully legalized pot use and Rhode Island and Connecticut have decriminalized its “recreational’’ use. Meanwhile, it’s full speed ahead for “medical marijuana,’’ which some truly sick people use, along with others who just want to get stoned.
For the states, it’s all about trying to find new ways of increasing government revenue without raising broad-based taxes, which is usually political poison. It’s a regressive way of doing it since those wanting to gamble and smoke pot tend to be in lower socio-economic levels. Some old-fashioned types might even call this addiction promotion immoral.
Pot promoters, for their part, have long asserted that it’s not a “gateway drug’’ – an assertion that has always struck me as dubious. Perhaps they should read a new paper, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in which researchers looking at states that enacted medical marijuana laws saw a 23 percent increase in opioid-overdose deaths. There are lots of people with addiction tendencies. And use of one drug leads, in many people, to a desire for stronger ones.
Other studies have shown a high incidence among opiate addicts of the use and abuse of other drugs, be they amphetamines, alcohol, nicotine or others.
To read the study, please hit this link.
One night a few years ago, my partner woke up delirious with fever, a bright rash, and joint pain so bad he couldn’t get out of bed without help. I was scared — mostly for his health, but also for our financial situation, which weighed heavily on me during our 4 a.m. ride to the emergency room.
As a freelancer, his catastrophic health insurance plan had an outrageously high deductible, and every day he couldn’t work was a day he wouldn’t get paid. I’d lost my job — and my own health insurance — earlier that year, and was still piecing together a livelihood from gig to gig. I didn’t know what we’d do if something went seriously wrong.
We left the hospital several hours later after an IV and a couple of ibuprofens — and no diagnosis. Even after insurance kicked in, we were billed about $1,000 for the experience. My partner’s joints hurt for months afterwards, but the already hefty price tag scared him off following up.
It turns out he’s far from the only one who looked at a bank statement before considering a trip to the doctor.
A recent study found that 65 million Americans had a health issue in the last year that they didn’t treat because they were worried about the cost. And 45 percent of Americans — including a third of households making more than $180,000 a year — worry they could go bankrupt over a major health issue.
Nearly half of those survey respondents said they thought U.S. health care was either the best or among the best in the world. But our actual health tells another story.
By a long shot, the U.S. has the most expensive health-care system among the 36 mostly high-income countries that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD. But for all that money, we rank just 28th in life expectancy and 31st in infant mortality.
Nothing about this system is healthy or caring. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
In 2014, the same year we worried about a $1,000 trip to the emergency room, our insurance company spent nearly $20 million executive compensation. More than $5 million went to the CEO alone.
What if our health care system didn’t allow people to make these exorbitant profits off our pain? What — and who — could we save?
By one assessment, a universal, single-payer system like Medicare for All could expand coverage to everyone while reducing the cost to American businesses and people by as much as $310 billion — primarily by cutting down on industry bloat and by negotiating fairer pharmaceutical prices.
While our monstrously expensive health care system is maddening, the harm done to people who can’t afford to participate in that system is what’s truly enraging.
Read the stories attached to the third of GoFundMes specifically devoted to crowdsourcing money for medical costs and I’m sure you’ll feel the same. Thousands of people in the United States die preventable deaths each year simply from lack of insurance.
Fortunately, there’s a groundswell of support for a publicly funded health care system. And researchers say one proposal — the Medicare for All Act of 2019 that’s in front of Congress right now — sets “a new standard for universally and equitably guaranteeing health care as a human right in the United States.”
No one should have to worry about bankruptcy before seeking out the treatment they need. Health care is a human right, and we deserve no less than a system that provides it universally and equitably.
Negin Owliaei is a researcher at the Institute for Policy Studies and a co-editor of Inequality.org.
Connecticut has been more surprised than it should have been by the announcement from United Technologies Corp. that upon its merger with Raytheon Co. it will move its headquarters from Farmington to Raytheon's outside Boston, in Waltham.
As much as some politicians feared and others hoped that the move was prompted by the state's awful economic conditions, it wasn't. Rather the move was just another natural step in the evolution of a company that began a century ago as the Pratt & Whitney machine tool shop in Hartford.
The tool shop became a manufacturer of aircraft engines, merged with the predecessor of Boeing to become United Aircraft and Transport Corp., started making airplanes as well as their engines, was broken up by New Deal-era antitrust legislation, kept growing anyway, and became a conglomerate -- United Technologies -- that was heavily dependent on government contracts. As such UTC came to need political support outside Connecticut, so it diversified operations into other states and even other countries.
As a result UTC's employment in Connecticut, around 19,000, has declined to a fraction of what it was a few decades ago, and state government could have done little to prevent it. For these days no conglomerates and big government contractors are going to stick to one state. It's not just their need for national political influence for securing federal government business. It's also to avoid becoming hostage to any one predatory state government.
So Connecticut's economic future does not depend on the big companies already here. For the same reasons motivating UTC, they are more likely to expand out of state. Instead Connecticut's economic future depends on growth by smaller companies already here and entry here by companies elsewhere.
But good luck drawing or keeping anyone here while the most important thing state government has to offer anyone is the duty to share the burden of $70 billion or so in unfunded state and municipal employee retirement obligations -- that is, the duty to pay more in taxes every year [ITALICS] forever [END ITALICS] to sustain a pension-and-benefit society.
SLUSH FUND MAY EXPLAIN IT: Maybe there's a good case for giving an exemption from state freedom-of-information and ethics laws to the Partnership for Connecticut, the entity just created by billionaires Ray and Barbara Dalio and state government in the name of improving public education. The Dalios are donating $100 million, state government is appropriating an equal amount, and more donations will be sought from other wealthy people.
But if there is a good case for the exemption, nobody is making it.
Spokeswomen for Governor Lamont and the Dalios insist that the partnership should be exempt from the accountability laws because it's not really a state agency. But it was created and funded by the new state budget, a majority of its board will be state officials, and it will dispense public money to public schools. Private entities don't need any provision in the state budget exempting them from FOI and ethics laws, since those laws apply only to government agencies.
So the budget writers thought the partnership would be considered a state agency subject to the accountability laws unless another law asserted, against the evidence, that it wasn’t a state agency.
Why did the budget bestow such an exemption and exactly who asked for it and why? The spokeswomen for the governor and the Dalios were asked about this more than a week ago but have declined to provide an answer. So here's a guess: The partnership will make a great slush fund.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.
From Robert Whitcomb’s “Digital Diary,’’ in GoLocal24.com
Vermont is doing what some other states with slow or nonexistent population growth, including Rhode Island, have talked about – bribing people to move there. In the Vermont plan, The Boston Globe reports, those who qualify get up to $10,000 over a two-year period to pay for their “moving and home-office costs, and in return, the state gets additional taxpayers to help fund schools and roads and social services.’’
Joan Goldstein, Vermont’s economic development commissioner, told The Globe: “The population needs to grow in order for the economy to grow.’’ It’s the mantra that everything must always grow.
Vermont, generally a very congenial state and one with an astonishingly low 2.3 percent jobless rate, would seem to already be doing quite well. I think that Ms. Goldstein is repeating the mantra that economic growth per se is the be-all and end-all of public policy. But economic growth per se doesn’t necessarily mean a higher quality of life.
To read The Globe’s story, please hit this link:
From ecoRI News (ecori.org)
Robert Lamb, as a Ph.D. student at Brown University, saw firsthand the “incredible diversity, breathtaking plant life, and healthy fish populations” that call Cashes Ledge home.
Lamb recently told ecoRI News that this pristine ecosystem is unlike anything else in the Gulf of Maine. That’s why he was part of a team that worked to permanently protect the 550-square-mile area that is 80 miles off the coast of Gloucester, Mass.
Led by Brown University Prof. Jon Witman, a team of divers from the Providence university, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the University of New Hampshire, and the National Park Service worked with the Conservation Law Foundation to document the bounty of marine life that exists at Cashes Ledge — a 22-mile-long underwater mountain range with average depths of 90 to 130 feet — and assess its vulnerability. This 4-minute video highlights some of that work.
The team’s efforts of four years ago, including holding roundtables and giving talks across the region, were undertaken in hopes that Cashes Ledge would be awarded a monument designation. The effort failed, but it did play a part in the creation, three years ago, of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, the only national monument in the Atlantic Ocean.
Lamb, who now works with the Witman Lab and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on various marine issues, believes that Cashes Ledge deserves the same protection, especially since the Gulf of Maine is one of the fastest-warming bodies of salt water in the world. He said the destruction of such an important underwater habitat would be devastating.
During the many dives the researchers and scientists took, censuses they conducted, and comparisons they made between Cashes Ledge and exploited coastal areas, such as the Isles of Shoals and Star Island, they found that fish biomass was about 500 times greater there than anywhere in the near shore and kelp biomass was also significantly greater, according to Lamb.
He noted that Cashes Ledge’s dense kelp forest is the most productive one in the North Atlantic.
The peaks and canyons of Cashes Ledge create nutrient- and oxygen-rich currents that support diverse habitats. The area is home to Atlantic wolffish, cod, cusk, sea stars, sea squirts, sea pens, horse mussels, anemones, rare sponges, and the largest continuous kelp forest along the Atlantic Seaboard. It also acts as a migratory pass for blue and porbeagle sharks, humpback and right whales, and bluefin tuna.
The value of Cashes Ledge has been recognized by the New England Fishery Management Council, as it has designated a large swath of the area as “essential fish habitat” for American plaice, Atlantic cod, haddock, halibut, monkfish, pollock, white hake, and witch flounder. The area is currently restricted, meaning most forms of fishing are prohibited.
Those protections, however, are “too little,” according to Lamb.
“It’s one of those places that is so unique and so beautiful … a treasure,” he said. “It merits protection for that reason alone, if not for the fisheries benefits. If you have a place where fish are allowed to grow unchecked and unimpeded by fishing, that creates a surplus of individuals that will swim, or disperses larvae, to other places that then can he caught, so it indirectly benefits fisheries.”
The partially protected area is also home to Ammen Rock, a peak so tall that it disrupts the Gulf of Maine current and creates upwellings of cold, nutrient-rich water which sustains the ledge’s vast variety of life.
Noted marine biologist Sylvia Earle has called Cashes Ledge “the Yellowstone of the North Atlantic.”
Modern commercial fishing technologies, however, make Cashes Ledge susceptible to damage. A bottom trawl, for example, could strip clear the kelp forest on Ammen Rock and completely alter the ecosystem, according to the Conservation Law Foundation. The Boston-based environmental advocacy organization has noted that some anemone populations could take up to 230 years to recover from a single drag of a bottom trawl.
Protected areas also have been shown to be more resilient to climate change, and provide sea life places to adapt to warming and acidifying waters.
Frank Carini is editor of ecoRI News.
From The New England Journal of Higher Education, a service of The New England Board of Higher Education (nebhe.org)
A shared challenge for our higher education institutions and employers is the large number of students graduating high school unprepared for success in college and the workforce. It leads to lower-than-acceptable college completion rates, particularly for our most disadvantaged youth, and a broken workforce pipeline that threatens economic growth and opportunity.
The lack of skilled workers to fill open positions is a growing concern for our economy. The talent search firm Korn Ferry has estimated that the U.S. could face a deficit of 6.5 million highly skilled workers by 2030, and the skills gap could cost the country $1.75 trillion in revenue by that same year. More important, our failure to better connect k-12 education to college and workforce success translates into lost opportunities for students. Put simply, we need to do more to help young people seize the many excellent opportunities our economy creates.
A proposal we have introduced and are championing in Massachusetts aims to do just that. House Bill 567 would expand opportunities for high school students to earn industry-recognized credentials (IRCs) that data confirm are of high employment value. The proposal will fuel a diverse, highly skilled workforce pipeline that is the engine of growth and prosperity and provides students with opportunities for upward mobility.
Many students in our vocational technical schools are already earning IRCs in information technology, welding, construction, healthcare and other fields. We can and should make these available to students in our traditional high schools as well. IRCs certify the student’s qualifications and competencies and are often “stackable,” meaning they can be accumulated over time to build the student’s qualifications to pursue a career pathway or another postsecondary credential. Some IRCs also earn the student college credit.
For students going directly into the workforce from high school and for those who enter but never complete college, credentials can be the difference between low-wage positions and better paying jobs that offer opportunities for growth. Earning credentials in high school can also lead to stronger preparation for higher education. Students who earn them are exposed to career pathways before entering college and deciding on a major. In Florida, students earning credentials in high school were more likely to take Advanced Placement or dual-enrollment courses and to go to college.
We heard from students at Greater Lowell Technical High School in Massachusetts who have earned multiple web development, programming and IT credentials that having those credentials will help them secure the higher paying jobs they need to help them afford their college education and in the fields they plan to ultimately pursue.
Our legislative proposal would require the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development to provide the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education with an annual list of high-need occupations that require an industry-recognized credential, ranked by employment value. The top 20% of the list will be credentials that lead to occupations with annual wages at 70% of average annual wages in the Commonwealth. The idea is to ensure we’re sending the right signals to schools and students about where the opportunities lie. The district would get a financial award for each student who earns a credential that has high employment value, is recognized by higher education institutions and addresses regional workforce demands identified by the local MassHire Workforce Board. To ensure that all districts have equal opportunity to participate, the bill includes start-up funding for implementation to encourage less well-resourced districts to get the programs up and running. The funds can support teacher training or cover assessment costs or equipment needs.
This proposal dovetails and complements several state and regional initiatives already underway, including the New England Board of Higher Education’s High Value Credentials for New England initiative launched last summer that is identifying high-value credentials in key growth industries and making that information more easily accessible to the public. The ultimate goal is to enable students to make informed decisions about their course of study and future employment opportunities.
Several other states have adopted similar incentive strategies or integrate credentials into the school curriculum and career preparation activities like work-based learning and internships. In Ohio, students can earn industry-recognized credentials in one of 13 career fields with a choice of more than 250 in-demand credentials. Students in any district can sign up for an industry-recognized credential course. Florida, Wisconsin and Louisiana provide a financial incentive such as the one we propose. Students enrolled in the program in Florida demonstrated higher GPAs, graduation rates and postsecondary enrollment rates.
Massachusetts can provide these important opportunities to students in our traditional and comprehensive high schools by providing the right incentives to our schools. It is an important step in addressing our urgent need for a highly skilled workforce and ensuring our education system is creating pathways to economic opportunity and success.
Jeffrey Roy is a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and chairs the Joint Committee on Higher Education and the Legislature’s Manufacturing Caucus. Edward Lambert Jr. is executive director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education.
This is from The New England Council (newenglandcouncil.com)
“The New England Council is calling on Congress to approve the US-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA), a free trade agreement that makes critical updates to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In a letter sent on June 10, 2019, to members of the region’s House and Senate delegations, the Council stressed the importance of free trade with these two key trade partners for the region’s continued economic growth.
“Canada and Mexico are two of New England’s top trading partners, and it is vital to our region’s economic wellbeing that we continue to have free trade with our neighbors to the north and south,” said James T. Brett, President and CEO of The New England Council. “We have heard from Council members throughout the region, representing a wide array of industries, that they support the USMCA and the important updates it makes to NAFTA by addressing such issues as digital commerce and intellectual property protection. We are hopeful that Congress will take action to approve the agreement in the near future.”
In its letter, the Council noted that Canada is a top export market for New England businesses, with nearly $8.8 billion in goods exported in 2018 alone, plus another $3.3. billion in services exported. The letter also noted that and that more than 430,000 jobs in New England rely on trade and investment with Canada. With regard to Mexico, the Council noted in its letter that exports from the six New England states to Mexico totaled nearly $4.2 billion in 2018, and in five states Mexico is a “top ten” goods export market. The Council expressed its belief that these numbers will only be bolstered by the USMCA, as the U.S. International Trade Commission recently estimated the agreement will increase U.S. national employment by upwards of 176,000 jobs and raise U.S. real GDP by $68.2 billion.
The USMCA was signed by the three nations on November 30, 2018, following months of negotiations. On May 30, 2019, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer sent a letter to Congressional leaders to begin the approval process and allow for the President to send the agreement to Congress within 30 days.
The New England Council has a long history of support for free trade. In recent years, the Council endorsed legislation to allow for Trade Promotion Authority, supported free trade agreements with such nations as South Korea, Panama, and Columbia, and called for multi-lateral trade agreements with important trade partners in Europe and Asia.’’
From ecoRI News (ecori.org)
Think of invasive species and Canada geese and knotweed come to mind. But wild boar and elk could join that list, if Rhode Island allows trophy hunting, according to critics of the practice.
Opponents of so-called canned hunting are worried that these and other popular hunting animals could be brought to Rhode Island to populate enclosed, private hunting areas. The animals may eventually escape and destroy wildlife and introduce disease.
“It has the potential to devastate the hunting community, as well as native wildlife populations,” said Arianna Mouradjian of the Wildlife Rehabilitators Association of Rhode Island, a wildlife rescue facility in Saunderstown.
A bill (H5849) that would allow canned hunting in Rhode Island was introduced by Rep. Stephen Ucci, D-Cranston, but a hearing scheduled for March was postponed. The bill was also introduced last year at the behest of the exclusive The Preserve at Boulder Hills Club & Residences in Richmond. The bill allows hunting of game animals and birds on shooting preserves of 500 acres or more.
Although the prospects for this year's bill are uncertain this late in the legislative session, a hearing was recently held in the Senate for a bill (S880) that would outlaw importing wild animals for the practice of captive hunting.
Mouradjian testified at the June 4 hearing. She said importing animal for trophy hunting only benefits the small number of wealthy people who own and visit game-hunting ranches.
Michael Woods a hunter and board member for the New England chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers spoke about the devastation and millions of dollars other states have spent to mitigate the impact of imported wildlife, such as old boars, that have migrated from hunting facilities and started breeding.
“How are we going to come up with the resources to manage them and what are we going to do with a Department of Environmental Management that’s already strapped with financial resources and personnel?” Woods asked.
No one spoke against the bill.
Even importing native animals such as white-tailed deer can spread illnesses like chronic wasting disease (CWD), a contagious and fatal brain illness that infects deer, elk, reindeer, and moose. There are no treatments or vaccines. The disease first appeared in Colorado and Wyoming in 1967 and can be fund in 25 states. CWD hasn’t been found in New England but is endemic in New York. A new study found that the disease could spread rapidly in the Northeast.
Connecticut and Massachusetts have laws that prohibit importing wild and domestic game. Maine imposed new restrictions on wild game imports after CWD was discovered in the province of Quebec.
Members of the Senate Judiciary didn’t comment on the bill and held it for further study. A House version of the bill (H5130) had a hearing in February and was held for further study.
Tim Faulkner is an ecoRI News journalist.
Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well than where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
Me myself in the summer heaven godlike
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths—and then I lost it.
Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.
— "For Once, Then, Something,’’ by Robert Frost
Year after year most Connecticut high school seniors are graduated and given diplomas without ever mastering high school math and English, and year after year most of those who are admitted to a community college or a regional state university have to take remedial high school courses. The problem is social promotion.
So what did the General Assembly do about public education in its session just concluded? Both houses appropriated more money for teacher salaries (called "aid to education"). They both passed legislation requiring high schools to offer a course in African-American and Latino history. The House passed a bill that would have required elementary schools to teach climate change.
State Sen. Douglas McCrory, D-Hartford, argued that minority students are discouraged in school by the supposed lack of attention to the history of their ethnic groups. But what of the discouragement they may suffer when they discover that they haven't learned to read and do math at an adult level?
As for the climate change bill, introduced by state Rep. Christine Palm, D-Chester, state Education Department standards already called for incorporating the subject in science curriculums, making the bill unnecessary. Further, this subject too can hardly be mastered if reading and math aren't mastered first.
Of course the objective of these bills wasn't to teach students anything but to let legislators strike politically correct poses and pander. After all, what legislator would be re-elected if he told his constituents that their kids are goofing off in school and if he scolded their teachers that they should stop being silent about it?
* * *
WHAT 'PRIORITY' FOR DEPORTATION?: Maybe it would be too punitive to deport Sujitno Sajuti back to Indonesia. Sajuti, 70, had been living in West Hartford but for 19 months until last week he claimed sanctuary in a church in Meriden because federal immigration authorities had told him to leave the country. Now, because many years ago he was the victim of an assault in Hartford, Sajuti has been granted a waiver and can stay indefinitely.
But the protests by Sajuti's supporters that he is the victim of the excessive zeal of the immigration authorities are also too much.
State Atty. Gen. William Tong declared, "There is something horribly broken with our immigration system when this 70-year-old man who has lived peacefully here for three decades was deemed a priority for deportation."
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal called Sajuti "a man who spent decades in this country causing nobody any harm, doing nothing wrong, committing no violations of law."
A priority for deportation? No violations of law? But Sajuti has been living in the United States illegally for nearly 25 years after overstaying a visa.
Tong and Blumenthal imply that there should be no consequences for violating immigration law, that if one breaks it long enough, it should be forgotten -- and the news reporters who quoted them failed to ask them about that.
Nullification of federal immigration law and open borders seem to be state government's policy now that the General Assembly and Governor Lamont have enacted a law forbidding municipal authorities from cooperating with immigration authorities in almost any way.
While the Trump administration is deficient and sometimes hateful, controlling immigration is a crucial function of the federal government, and hindering it is a form of secession.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.
May 24 - September 12, 2019
Location: University Art Gallery, Star Store Campus, 715 Purchase Street, New Bedford, MA
Reception: Thursday, AHA! Night, June 13, 6-8.30 pm
7 pm: Artist Talk
7.30 pm: Summer Winds concert with musicians Laura Pardee Schaefer (oboe) and Daniel Beilman (bassoon) from New Bedford Symphony Orchestra
Interactive Shadow Drawing: July 11 & August 8, 6-8 pm
Closing Reception: Thursday, AHA! Night, September 12, 6-8 pm
Contact : Viera Levitt, Gallery Director and Exhibition Curator, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hours: 9 AM to 6 PM daily, closed on major holidays. Open until 9 pm during AHA! Nights (the second Thursday of every month)
The UMass Dartmouth University Art Gallery presents four projects connected to the theme of wind throughout the Star Store Campus in Downtown New Bedford. Inspired by the inaugural Design Art Technology Massachusetts (DATMA) festival, titled Summer Winds 2019, visitors can experience various installations and video projects from different artists: Rhode Island's Elizabeth Keithline presents a site specific installation (The Air) As it Moves at the University Art Gallery; Spencer Finch, a well-known New York City artist exhibits Wind (Through Emily Dickinson's Window) in Gallery 244; videos by Renee Piechocki and Brandon Forrest Frederick play at the Bubbler Gallery. Lastly, a project Whispers by Canadian based Light Society will be projected on the Lecture Hall wall only during AHA! Nights, and is not to miss.
(The Air) As It Moves is a site-specific installation by Elizabeth Keithline that uses hanging wire objects to create a play of light and shadows as it moves in the air. These abstract shapes have a “memory” of suspended skeletal, swaying wire beams and rafters that invite viewers to contemplate the invisible forces at work in our lives. We see these forces only because of their ancillary activity, never directly. Viewers are invited to move through the gallery and, by doing so, gently activate the installation.
Throughout the sumer, the walls will become populated by additional shadow drawings, which will make it hard to distinguish the real shadows from their drawings, creating a disorienting and off balance feeling. On July 11 & August 8, there will be a family-friendly interactive shadow drawing from 6 to 8 pm.
Artist Elizabeth Keithline’s work focuses on human self-extension and its effects on contemporary society. Born in Connecticut in 1961, Keithline has been a weaver since she was 14 years old. In 1996, after moving to Rhode Island, she invented a sculpture technique wherein wire is woven around an object and then burned out, leaving behind a wire “memory”. As the installations grew, she began to cut away and re-mend parts of the wire, rather than burning it out. The “spines” that the repairs incorporated became part of the work's content area. She has installed public art projects in Boston, Paxton, and Oxford, MA. A current project, "The Shadow Tree" is installed in the Art & Nature Center at the Peabody Essex Museum through March 2021.
Keithline’s work has been reviewed in the New York Times, Sculpture Magazine, the Boston Globe, the Hartford Courant and others. She is also the consulting director for the Rhode Island State Council On the Arts Percent For Art Program and the State’s Cultural Facilities Grant and serves on the advisory committee of Public Art Review.
In response to the picture, another New England Diary friend sent part of the first stanza of Maine native Edna St. Vincent Millay’s (1892-1950) poem “The Leaf and the Tree’’:
“When will you learn, my self, to be
A dying leaf on a living tree?
Budding, swelling, growing strong,
Wearing green, but not for long,
Drawing sustenance from air,
That other leaves, and you not there,
May bud, and at the autumn's call
Wearing russet, ready to fall?’’
This is a version of an article that first appeared in Cape Cod Life.
He sold books and bravado. He relished humor and history. And he peddled curios and curiosity. He was one of Cape Cod’s most memorable characters.
Noel W. Beyle, who died on June 14, 2017 at 76, was a writer and historian. He was also husband to Sue, whom he always referred to as “my bride.” The self-proclaimed “Mayor of West Eastham” lived on a dune overlooking Cape Cod Bay in a home constructed of three one-story Army barracks during World War II and known to locals as West Eastham Town Hall; during the summer a sign warned passers-by of a poison ivy yet encouraged them to “pick what you want.” In his later years, he drove a white delivery truck bearing the custom-made corporate logo “Viagra Oyster Company.”
He was also a prolific collector and seller, ranging from vintage postcards (at one point he owned nearly 60,000)) and an eclectic collection of antiques -- not to mention calendar art, nostalgic signage and kitsch junk. Many likely knew him from his decades-long presence at the Wellfleet Flea Market, where, with a wool hat, purple crocs, glasses and mustache, he sold memorabilia by the boatload.
He was featured many times on Channel 5’s (in Boston) Chronicle program. In one memorable segment he was golfing on Cape Cod Bay ice in the middle of winter.
He wrote columns on local historical stories and for many years put together the Cape Cod Five Cent Saving Bank’s calendar of vintage photographs and commentary. He was a lover of dogs (he had one in the 1970s named -- of course! -- “Kitty Kitty,” just to see people’s reaction when they called “here, kitty, kitty…”) and a philanthropist. Many local charities benefited from his quiet generosity.
Foremost, though, he was a storyteller. For more than 40 years Beyle was a local fixture who scoured the peninsula in search of a good story. He canvassed, cultured and composed stories. Even when he sang, lectured and performed standup comedy, he was telling stories. Driving on Route 6A in the mid-1970s, he surmised once that “there is a story almost every four seconds here if you’re observant.”
Beyle seemed to many of us a member of a lost breed: a charming eccentric.
But his qualities– an intense love of history and a playfulness, combined with a strengths in marketing, moxie and mischief -- produced one of the greatest collections of publications about Cape Cod.
From 1976 (Entering Eastham) to 1987 (“Fishy” Stories of Cape Cod) and beyond 2000, (assorted cookbooks and photo-journal texts) Beyle published 40 booklets ranging from weather oddities to the old Target Ship and everything in between the Bourne Bridge and Race Point, including Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands.
In 2011, he estimated that he had sold nearly a million copies of his pamphlet-sized books, which ranged from 50 to over 100 pages. Editions from the 1980s sold originally for under $1. Today, however, virtually every edition is out of print and many are offered online for 25-50 times their initial sale price. Most of the work was published by the Beyle-conceived First Encounter Press. The Cape Cod Times believed that this was “probably (Eastham’s) first publishing firm.” Before “local sourcing’’ became synonymous with farming, Beyle was ahead of the curve. All of his booklets were printed on the Cape.
Today, reading and rummaging through the entire catalog is revealing and great fun.
The four booklets written in 1979 -- Cape Cod Off Season, 6A All The Way, The Cape Cod Lampoon and The State of Cape Cod -- are marvels of style, wit and personality. Beyle worked with a number of talented illustrators throughout the years, including James E. Owens and Kathryn M. Meyers. But the accompaniment of William Canty in Off Season (and others) is the hilarious literary equivalent of a Frank Sinatra/Nelson Riddle collaboration from their monumental concept albums during the early Capitol Records years.
There is a lyrical and luminescent quality to his writing. Take 6A All the Way, for instance. It is a kind of whimsical retrospective as Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” was a metaphorical one. Turn to page 53 and see the Brewster General Store over the course of over 150 years.
A hallmark of his work is that it reflects who we were and what we have become.
Beyle employed a trademark technique that creates a striking impression of time and space and emotion -- the recurring interaction of the silly and the serious; the flow of advertisements for local businesses that blend in seamlessly with pictures and graphics. In many ways they are part of the story itself. Evidence of this technique abounds in Cape Cod to the Rescue. This 1984 story about the grounded merchant ship Eldia (pages 24-25) showcases dramatic pictures of the crippled vessel along with recipes for shrimp scampi and ads for a dry cleaner and photography studio. Such an idiosyncratic presentation could have easily degenerated into a hopelessly tangled mashup. But it didn’t.
Stylistically, Beyle was slightly diabolical, if not contumacious. He wrote with a nod to the classic Cape novelist Joseph C. Lincoln combined with an attitude recalling Monty Python and Mark Twain. ]
He inhabited a retrospective universe of black and white images and silent history, but his unique storytelling brought Technicolor of insight and appreciation to the subject matter. That may explain his appeal. His stories talk back. And laugh back, too.
He took some time in late 1979 to reflect on his methods. In an interview of Beyle by Samuel Howe in The Register, Beyle said “the concept is simple: to make sure that some of the old and new about Cape Cod is caught and put down on high-quality paper -- whether it takes just the right typewritten word, an old scrapbook picture, or a catchy cartoon.” He didn’t have to go looking for humor. Invariably, it found him.
Given the efficiency of today’s digital world, the quality and prodigious output Beyle achieved in the analog world he worked in is hard to believe. He began writing in 1962 on a then state-of-the-art IBM Selectric typewriter and never looked back. He had an email address but rarely used it. He had a beguiling distain for cell phones. And Web site? -- not on your life!
Much of his success can be attributed to an old-fashioned idea: an indomitable work ethic.
In June 1979 he told The Cape Cod Times, “A lot of people don’t think I work… I run around trying to be funny -- I’ve been doing that all my life.” He was 38 then and worked 12-16-hour days. Back then, it was customary for him to type 150 or so personal letters to those on his “Friends” list, alerting them to new booklets and thanking them for their financial support. One letter, dated Feb. 24, 1982, wished the addressee a “much-belated new year.” That was quintessential Noel Beyle.
Pat Mikulak noted long ago in Cape Cod Life that “Beyle is zany…” and that his “forte is play on and with words, so if you’ve gotten to taking life too seriously, we’re sure he’d suggest that you go out and get a Beyle of his books.” =
Each quirky one of them is worth a reread or first read in 2019.]
James P. Freeman, a former banker, is a veteran New England-based writer, including as a former columnist with The Cape Cod Times and New Boston Post. His work has appeared in The Providence Journal, The Cape Codder, golocalprov.com, nationalreview.com and insidesources.com, as well as Cape Cod Life and New England Diary.
By 2035, seniors are projected to outnumber children in the U.S. population.
Maybe then we’ll look back and credit Washington State activists for being on the forefront of tackling America’s elder-care crisis. On May 13, the state became the first in the nation to adopt a social-insurance program for long-term care benefits.
“This is a huge victory for organizing and people power, for care and caregiving, and for older adults and people with disabilities,” said Josephine Kalipeni, of Caring Across Generations, one of more than 20 groups that formed Washingtonians for a Responsible Future to push the path-breaking legislation.
Nationally, our long-term-care financing “system’’ is broken. Medicare doesn’t currently cover home care or nursing facility care, while Medicaid coverage varies widely by state. To qualify, you have to meet poverty criteria, which requires people to spend down nearly all of their savings before getting coverage.
So what do people do?
For the richest 1 percent, there’s a growing market for luxury care communities. Vi Living, for example, has 10 facilities across the country that feature 24-hour valets, gourmet meals, indoor pools, and other amenities. At their Palo Alto development, in California, entrance fees run as high as $6.5 million.
Most families obviously can’t afford that. Even typical out of pocket costs for professional home care, which run about $46,000 per year, are often out of reach. Many people who need care end up relying on family members, primarily women.
In fact, an estimated 60 percent of unpaid caregivers in the United States are women, and they pay much higher economic costs for taking on this role than men. More than a quarter of women caregivers who work are forced to shift to less demanding positions, or else give up their jobs entirely.
Even with support from family and friends, the lack of a strong long-term care system leaves many elderly and disabled Americans suffering a severely reduced quality of life. One survey found that nearly 60 percent of seniors with seriously compromised mobility weren’t able to get out of their house. Another 25 percent said they often remained in bed, while 20 percent went without getting dressed.
The new Washington State program will use a paycheck deduction of 58 cents out of every $100 in income to pay for care in people’s homes or nursing facilities, as well as other services like wheelchair ramps and rides to the doctor. Starting in 2025, eligible participants will receive up to $100 per day, with a lifetime maximum benefit of $36,500.
Caring Across Generations, a national campaign co-chaired by Jobs With Justice and the National Domestic Workers Alliance, had already notched a long-term care victory in Hawaii.
While not an insurance trust like the Washington State model, the Kapuna Caregivers program, launched in 2017, provides subsidies of $70 per day for people who are both taking care of family members and working outside the home at least 30 hours a week. The funds can be used for services for the elderly, including professional home care.
At the national level, Senators Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren have all endorsed the Bernie Sanders Medicare for All plan. It includes long-term care coverage and provisions for assistance with daily activities, such as eating, bathing, preparing meals, and housekeeping, whether provided by nursing homes, professional home care workers, or a family caregiver.
Now Caring Across Generations aims to help build campaigns in more states for Washington-style insurance programs, as a way to help build momentum for federal reforms like these. As Kalipeni put it, “One state down, 49 to go!”
Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-edits Inequality.org, where an earlier version of this op-ed appeared. Fr