Letters to the Editor - Lakeville Journal - 1-10-19

As the poet said, ‘Something there is that doesn’t love a wall’

This quote from Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” is particularly resonant at this moment in American history. The caravans from Central America are not a threat to our country. However, their very existence provides President Trump with an opportunity to create an “enemy” so that he can stir up xenophobia and racism. This is wrong.

The “national emergency” that Trump declares is the chaos that he himself has contrived. Indeed, he appears to be our real national emergency. 

On the other hand, there is a real humanitarian crisis on the Mexican side of the border. Food, shelter, medical care, toilet facilities, warm clothing, safety and psychological counseling are in short supply. 

There is also a real crisis on the American side of the border. Immigrant families are separated and scattered; tens of thousands of detainees and their families struggle with a judicial system that is overwhelmed and drastically understaffed. Many detainees wait months if not years to have their cases adjudicated.

Suppose the $5 billion-plus that the president wants for the wall were designated for providing more judges and public defenders, for improving the conditions in which asylum-seekers could enter the country legally to have their cases assessed with civility, efficiency and humanity. 

The “national emergency” is a huge illusionist distraction. 

There are few if any “terrorists” attempting to cross the border. There is no national security crisis there. The president’s raging passion for a proposed wall is a wakeup call to return to the deep American value and tradition of welcoming the stranger. 

It’s time to take an honest look within.

“Before I built a wall I’d ask

What I was walling in or walling out,

And to whom I was likely to give offense.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That wants it down.”

Excerpt from the poem “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost

John Carter



We need to implement a carbon tax

The world is changing. Hurricanes and drought and weather extremes have always been with us but the world that we are heading towards is very different.

The flooding of coastlines where billions of people currently live, will force those people to migrate. Long lasting droughts will likely cause food shortages or famines. Famines, and migration will likely destabilize societies around the world. There are already places such as Syria and Northern Africa where such instability has led directly to chaos and war.

This is real. The science that is involved in understanding what is happening is not complicated. Carbon dioxide traps heat. We are adding tremendous amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. A warmer world results in more violent weather and different coastlines. We are beginning to see the world changing already but it is the planet that our children will inherit that will be dramatically different. How can we ignore this?

Alternative technologies exist, and if we were to phase in a carbon tax, the marketplace itself would produce the changes we need to see. Despite what those opposing change say, this is not a hoax or an effort to get rich by researchers. It is real and it will be an immense challenge to our nation and the generations that are coming unless we change course. 

Our federal and state legislators need to hear that we want immediate action to devise and implement a fair and effective carbon tax.

Chris Regan



Article was mainly just a rehash

Your front page took the New Year’s wind right out of my sails. Accented in blue, to capture our attention, was an article with the headline “Sex abuse accusations continue.” After several lines describing a newly reported incidence unrelated to prep schools, the remainder of the article was yet another rehash of previously published stories and decades-old old news involving two local schools.

I do not mean to minimize the horror of past incidents of abuse or the pain and trauma inflicted upon the victims and their families. I strongly believe   that justice must be served. But revisiting those incidents without new allegations, and publishing when there is essentially no “news,” is unfair to new generations of students and teachers who were not even born during that era.

Continuing to publish these front page stories can needlessly shake the confidence of present and prospective parents. It can break the stride of students who are otherwise enjoying a fruitful year, and burden diligent faculty members who have the safety and best interests of their students at heart.

Sheryl Kennedy




Hospital merger plan falters

Unable or unwilling to answer the first and most imperative question about their proposed merger, Western Connecticut Health Network and Health Quest have, as I see it, stumbled badly right at the very outset of seeking state approval.

At the first public hearing, the hospital group was challenged to show how people would benefit, a primary prerequisite, it would seem, in an application for a Certificate of Public Need. 

At the hearing in Danbury, the hospital group cited “new efficiencies” as a benefit of a merger. Are we to assume, then, that there now are inefficiencies in the Danbury, New Milford and Norwalk hospitals, which comprise the Western Connecticut group, and Sharon Hospital, currently the only Connecticut hospital in the New York-based Health Quest? Probably not.

No, efficiencies more likely would show up in operating costs for merger or acquisition participants. Would savings in the hospitals’ balance sheet be passed on to patients? Thus far, the hospital group has failed to provide even a hint of how or if there would be any patient savings.

Obviously, patient savings, not corporate operations, would be of primary concern to the State Office of Health Strategy as it considers an application for the requisite Certificate of Public Need.

The hospital group contends that a merger would enable it to attract more medical talent. All hospitals already have an obligation to fully staff all departments with the best expertise available.

Hospitals that are close to their communities rather than distant corporate headquarters always serve those communities best.

Ed Chrostowski



Nature vs. nurture in human intelligence

It comes as both a surprise and a profound disappointment to hear in the new 2019 documentary “American Masters: Decoding Watson,” that famed scientist James Watson, co-discoverer with Francis Crick and Rosalind Franklin of the “double helix” structure of DNA in the early 1950s, still claims that “black people are intrinsically less intelligent than whites.”

In the late 1980s, the World Health Organization came under pressure for no good reason from acolytes of conservative guru James McGill Buchanan to spend World Health Organization (WHO) funds on scientific research to prove the Watson thesis about race and intelligence. As general legal counsel of WHO, I had to push back, responding that to waste money doing so would do nothing for grass roots, self-reliant, cooperative primary health care and education development in Africa or anywhere else.  Besides, the existing scientific evidence pointed overwhelmingly toward the opposite conclusion.

The sole statistical evidence in favor of the Buchanan-Watson view of racial inferiority is that on average blacks score somewhat lower on IQ tests. However, further research has shown that  (regardless  of race)  differences in culture, education and wealth (i.e., nurtured environment) have far greater, overwhelming  impact on IQ scores. Thus the director-general of WHO and the director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health have both formally concluded that, “Any average black-white differences in IQ testing arise from environmental, not genetic, differences.”

Where nature (e.g., genetics) may outperform even the best of nurture (e.g., a good education) is when it comes to individual (not average) exceptional performance in science or any other intellectual discipline. Highly talented persons (such as Bach, Beethoven, Leonardo da Vinci, Newton, Franklin, George Washington Carver, Einstein, Marie Curie, Mandela, Watson, Crick, Hawking) are all individually unique. You cannot predict them by any test, much less create them by genetic engineering. 

The scientific and moral truth is that, at an individual level, all men and women of every race are potentially equal. Let’s not allow brainless political and racist bias to obfuscate or outweigh the actual science. 

Tony Piel



A suggestion for Sharon

With all of those other Silver Lakes in America, we in Sharon can proudly claim the one and only Mudge Pond, given to us hundreds of years ago by a miller named Ebenezer Mudge. It’s a beautiful body of water, the glory of Sharon and northwest Connecticut.

Why not honor old Ebenezer with a bronze plaque at the town beach? Huh? I can’t imagine any objections to this suggestion.

Bill Lee

Sharon and New York City