Monday, November 12, 2012

A House Divided

Today I was reading some posts on Facebook and found myself shaking my head and feeling both sad and astonished. Many years ago our nation divided itself along the lines of monetary and cultural differences. Now, I would never consent to seeing anyone enslaved in chains and their children sold out of their homes, but I am seeing something that looks decidedly similar in some respects. Once the industrial North declared that the South had to give up slave labor. The South was almost totally agrarian, so giving up their slaves meant that what they had depended on would no longer be there for their farms. And no, I would never want ANYONE to have to obey a "master's voice" out in the fields. But has anyone noticed that the fields have changed? Farms have tractors and huge plows, huge tanks of chemical fertilizers, and huge harvests--when there is rain. The back breaking job of hoeing out the rows is done either with chemicals or with cultivators on the back of tractors. So at least some things have changed.

The problems today that seem to divide our country again really have nothing to do with the color of someone's skin. For a while we saw some backlash for the reverse discrimination caused by the mandate to hire so many folks of color or of a particular nationality--whether or not those folks had the skills needed for the jobs. And the colleges accepted anyone who applied regardless of their SAT or ACT scores--but simply based on numbers, not even numbers of colored or national origin. In fact, many of the colleges were thankful to receive the applications of many of the Indian students who came here from India to take their tests to qualify for medical positions in hospitals and pharmacies--mainly because this nation has not taken the shortage of qualified physicians and medical personnel seriously. And now the shortage is at an emergency level!

But the problems that divided our nation and caused many of the problems that led to the Civil War the first time have reared their ugly heads again. In a nation that once claimed God as its guide, we seem to have lost the ability to follow His laws and His way of love. We cannot tolerate others' opinions, much less allow others the same rights that we would claim for ourselves. The national election consumed as much interest as any previous election in my memory, but the amount of rancor has not diminished. The financial straits have bound those with lower income into an uneasy existence, but those with a moderate income have nothing to expect but higher taxes and more governmental control. Those with higher income are doing their best to remove their money and their businesses from such a volatile market place caused by higher taxes and compulsory insurance rules. For years companies like Walmart have reduced workers' hours in order to keep from having to pay any benefits, but now almost all companies with more than two or three employees will be doing the very same thing. If a company actually keeps employees on at regular hours, the cost of the insurance with be charged to their customers. The point of all this worrisome financial control is the fact that our nation no longer will have a choice about whether or not to be our brother's keeper. And yet, the government is actually not prepared to be much of a "keeper" of those who need health care. Without a sufficient number of health care workers, our country will be in the same boat as India and other third world countries. Yes, health care is "free," but just wait your turn. IF you have money, and enough of it, you can buy your health care in those countries, too. Gifts to a doctor are a type of insurance.

A woman I know used a broad paint brush to say that all the states who did not recently vote for the Democratic candidate were also the ones that were racists. Now that just makes NO sense whatsoever. Just because I don't think that the government has the right to tell me that I HAVE to have insurance or pay a "tax" does not mean that I am a racist. It really does not matter WHY I voted as I did when it gets right down to it. Castigation of others due to their beliefs or their votes is pure insanity--whether I do it or whether my neighbor does it. In my beliefs, God Himself puts those in power who He will. He used Pharoah to destroy a nation; He used Balaam's ass to turn folks back to him; He can use any man to bring this nation to its knees before His throne. Sad to say, but that may be the next major move for us. Whether we are a nation or separate states is beside the point. We are not a people under God's rule now because of our disrespect or Him and of our neighbor. God forgive us.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Watching Work

It is SO neat to watch some folks work. They know what they are doing and get 'er done! This morning the crew who are paving our road are out there doing their thing and were here before I even got out of the shower at 7:15--early in our part of the world. The backup alarms, the thunder and rattle of big machines and all the rest of the attendant noise just tickles the fire out of me. I take a gleefully devilish delight in waking up the neighbor across the street because he and his visitors wake me up at all hours of the night. Turn about fair play, right?

For as long as the road has existed up here in front of this old house, nothing but dirt or dirt and gravel have been on the surface of the road. When Fang and I were able to afford a load of crusher run gravel, we got a friend in the trucking business to dump a load to put in the worst of the mud places and spread it out some. We had to get another neighbor, now deceased--Leroy Fox--to spread it out for us since at the time we did not have a tractor. Fang and I have talked--and talked--about getting something done to this road, but we just never did. He had his heart attack trying to shovel the gravel back up on the approach. Then Donnie Anderson had a heart attack doing the same thing. Time to do something about it before we all start having heart attacks!

The City of Wichita Falls would not let Mr. Anderson deed this street to them for whatever reason, so we are responsible for its maintenance. But you can bet the trash trucks will be going up and down just like before--wallowing out more depressions. We want the trash service, but those trucks are something else again. This pavement is only going to be 12 foot across, so let's hope the trucks don't destroy what we are trying to accomplish.

A city can only provide so much out of its budget for improvements, but Fang and his family lived here for 63 years. I have only lived here with Fang for nearly 44, so maybe I would not have as much right to gripe, but it does seem that taxes ought to count for something in the overall picture of things. I know that we are in Wichita County and that the county commissioner ONCE had our street graded for us. Wow. I am underwhelmed by that kind of service. Of course, at the time it was all mud and dirt, but still. A load of gravel costs? And what is strange is that the city resents any "infringement" by the county services. Go figure.

Making one's neighborhood look half way decent should not have to cost that much. But obviously someone has to start somewhere to get things going. When we had our second child on the way, we tore down a derelict house next door to us. Most of the lumber was salvageable so some of the family and neighbors took the lumber and siding out of the way for us. Then we hauled off as much of the roofing material as we could pick up and burned the little pieces of wood that no one wanted. For all these years we have maintained the area and kept it mowed, even putting a garden in most years.

I think of the areas up north and how much debris has accumulated just from hurricane Sandy and feel sorry for the folks up there. It is going to take some massive efforts to reclaim the areas hit hardest by that storm. However, this is a good time to clean up and rebuild on a better basis. Just like the area between our home and the highway, we keep it picked up, mowed, and maintained the best way possible. Some things are just not possible for someone my age to do, but when it can be done with a little help from the neighbors, it is worth the effort to make home and one's home street look decent.