It’s time for Puerto Rico to become the 51st of the United States of America. It’s time to put this particular remnant of American colonialism to rest and give the millions of citizens of Puerto Rico a full voice, the full benefit, and the full responsibility of statehood. Of course, this begs the question of what to do with other territories, like Guam and the US Virgin Islands, to name only a couple, but their populations are vastly smaller than Puerto Rico’s. In fact, if Puerto Rico were a state, it would rank between Connecticut and Oklahoma by population. I can’t imagine Nutmeggers or Okies being willing to settle for second-class citizenship; why should Puerto Ricans? And in the wake of the most recent election, though we have many other issues – like the fiscal cliff – to deal with, now seems to be a as good a time as any to have a broader discussion about what citizenship really means, not just for the residents of Puerto Rico, but for all of us.
For those of us in the United States (including those citizens who are overseas serving in the military or for other reasons) today is Election Day. No news there.That the campaign, not just for president, but for just about everything else, has gone on far too long, been far too expensive, and far, FAR too divisive? Well, no news there, either. Goodness knows there’s plenty to be dissatisfied with, and cynical about, and much about the system needs fixing. But today, as I have nearly every Election Day since I turned eighteen, I went to the polls, stood in line, gave my name, filled out my ballots and put them in the ballot box. It’s a ritual, one I feel should not be passed up by using absentee ballots (unless really necessary), standing shoulder to shoulder with people with whom you may agree or may not and being part of the process.
For all of you who have voted, and for all who will work long hours today making sure we could, thanks! And for those of you who have not yet voted, please make the effort.
So all up and down the East Coast people are preparing for or, by now, feeling the effects of Hurricane Sandy. By the time the storm reaches northern New England it will be a tropical (or post-tropical) depression, but I expect it to cause plenty of headaches anyway. In our area we are expecting rainfall of 2-3 inches with locally higher amounts and winds of 40 mph with gusts to 60. Local weather forecasters have said we may see gusts as high as 70 mph, not hurricane force, but strong enough to cause trees to lose limbs or fall altogether.
Even though it’s late October in southern Maine, a lot of trees still have their leaves, which may result in more downed trees and limbs and more power outages. Power outages, along with some localized flooding, are our primary concern. We’ve already gotten our local emergency response team up and going, and tomorrow morning we’ll assess conditions and decide whether to activate our local emergency shelter.
It’s tempting to pooh-pooh a lot of the hype. Goodness knows there’s plenty of it, but there’s no sense in ignoring the weather forecasts and taking sensible precautions. So part of our day has been taking things down outside, putting porch furniture away, and finally putting the storm windows down (oh, the joys of an old house). Oil lamps are full, we have water and non-perishables should we need them, and are otherwise just expecting a couple of really wet and windy days.
Tomorrow morning: Coordinate roadside cleanup
108 hours from now: Drive to Baltimore
7 days from now: Drive home
9 weeks 2 days from now: 24th wedding anniversary
11 weeks from now: Tour Maine and New Brunswick by motorcycle
12 weeks from now: Turn 49 years old
4 months 1 week from now: Go to my second ever Rush concert
7 months 8 days from now: World ends, at least according to the Mayans.
Oh, right, there’s a presidential election in there somewhere. So much for ending on a high note.
The city of Biddeford, Maine has been trying to get rid of the Maine Energy Recovery Corporation (MERC) waste-to-energy plant and out of its in-town location for years (or, for those of you from away, that’s pronounced “yee-ahs”), practically since it opened. Most recently the city came up with a way to purchase and close the darned thing and get rid of the garbage smell, which is only a problem if you happen to be downwind, once and for all.
Apparently this won’t happen right away, however, because the Legislature killed a bill that was needed to allow the deal to go forward. Maybe they can find a Pink Floyd tribute band to do a benefit concert of “Animals” to help raise the several million it will cost. There is a little resemblance to the Battersea Power Station, don’t you think? Just a little?
Last fall we spent the long Columbus Day weekend in Baltimore and Washington (see here and here). The purpose of our visit was twofold, to visit our daughter at Goucher College and take our youngest daughter on a couple of college visits. After our visit to Johns Hopkins Saturday morning we met our middle daughter and drove down to the Inner Harbor for the afternoon.
Walking from the garage near Camden Yards to the Inner Harbor we passed the Occupy Baltimore encampment. Just kitty-corner from the Harborplace Mall and the USS Constellation Museum, you could look across and see the marina and the new Ritz-Carlton Residences. As we were walking along I said to our middle daughter, pointing first to the Occupy camp and then the marina, “99 percent, meet 1 percent. 1 percent, meet 99 percent.” Seeing the two so close together really brought home the stark differences between them and a couple of recent columns (1 and 2), along with another installment in my friend Brian’s “Capitalism Destroys Everything” series of posts got me thinking about this again.
When we visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial last fall I was struck, not only by the symbolism of the “stone of hope” coming “out of a mountain of despair,” but by the figure of Dr. King himself. To me the look of determination on his face and the unfinished nature of the statue say that the work is never done. While progress has been made overcoming official inequality there are still other ways inequality threatens America’s place as a “land of opportunity.” It’s not about envy, it’s not about division, it’s about real opportunity in the long term best interest of us all.