Letters to the Editor - Millerton News- 1-10-19

We must eliminate poverty

It does not benefit a culture to be lax in its response to continuing and unremitting destitution. Poverty is the most powerful predictor of disease, disorder, injury and mortality. One-third of our economy could be set aside so education, health care, some services and some utilities could be made public, alongside our extreme for-profit sectors. Europe has known this for decades. Its policies are based upon an existential acceptance of human vulnerability: Children cannot earn for themselves, raise themselves to stay healthy and safe, women must be able to control their reproduction and easily enter the workforce as an option, aging cannot be avoided or be provided for with just a “nest egg” and the ill and disabled (a priori) cannot provide for themselves without support. (Environmental disaster — a result of our disregard of vulnerability — is a topic I cannot address here).

Perhaps because the U.S. has never been reduced to rubble, except in parts (the Civil War), we have not had to make public health and welfare needs a priority. We monetized or philanthropized our response to human need until the Depression and Roosevelt’s New Deal, and this with vigorous national opposition. Today, in the face of the catastrophic failure of government (our declining life expectancy, our failing environment, our ranking of 27th in health and welfare in the world, our criminalization economy, our suicide rates and drug addiction), we have a chance to think about welfare, and well-being in human terms. We can now admit that we have become intentionally and institutionally blind to human need. We have become a cruel culture. (Only our unions have maintained a focus on human need). 

We live in hybrid communities in upstate New York that are a combination of wealthy individuals (often with homes in NYC) and rural populations that are increasingly without jobs, affordable housing, public transportation and health care. With a Democratic majority in ascendance, we will need to work on our denial of the poverty that surrounds us locally. We have to figure out a way, together, to acknowledge the undocumented, the precariously housed and those without decent education or futures beyond under-paid labor on farms, gardens, merchandising. 

As we build a democracy of equality and justice, the right to health care is a critical start. Infrastructure development, and greening industries, will be a boon for job growth, but we also need to think about jobs for childcare, for home and long- term care, for primary and secondary education that reflect the value of respect for the vulnerable. Our drug addiction system is largely for-profit and highly varying in its effectiveness, as is our health care system. Ditto our long-term and home care. We must do better than pour public money into corrupt programs where pay is low, training is skimpy, and the work is heartbreaking. Responsiveness will require close and local participatory regulation of different systems of care, in education, public housing, public transportation and available and nourishing food. 

How do we start in our localities? 

Nancy F. Mckenzie 



Face up to change

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 new congressman  Antonio Delgado and our senators need to hear that we want immediate action to devise and implement a fair and effective carbon tax.

Chris Regan



Voting reform in New York

To vote is a hard won American right that is the foundation of our republic.  Unfortunately, our state is ranked 41st in the nation for voter turnout at elections as announced by the New York Senate on May 1, 2018.

A few changes listed below could be made by the New York Legislature to make voting much easier and encourage more people to participate.

Allow Early Voting: Thirty-four states plus the District of Columbia are able to begin voting before election day. The average starting date for early voting across the United States is 22 days before an election. New York Legislature could enact voting to start 14 days before the election; 14 days allows voters two weekends.   Some after work hours should be included too.

Allow No-excuse Absentee Voting: Twenty-seven states allow voting by absentee ballot with no excuse needed. New Yorkers should be able to request an absentee ballot for whatever reason.

Allow Preregistration for young people: In 30 states and the District of Columbia, young people preregister to vote at ages 16 or 17.   Preregistration could happen in high school history or civics classes and will help young people learn about participating in the American process.

Allow Automatic Enrollment to Vote: Thirteen states plus the District of Columbia have enacted automatic voter registration, which registers a voter whenever he or she interacts with a state agency. 

Please contact our representative in the Assembly, Didi Barrett, at 845-454-1703 and our state senator, Sue Serino, at 845-229-0106 and ask for their support for the four ideas listed above.

Matthew Hartzog, Trustee