Opinion: Let The People Decide!

dsc_0046Every election cycle, we say: “This can’t get any worse.” And, by golly, every election cycle, it gets worse.

By Don Corrigan (West End Word)

A couple of weeks ago, I really had just had enough of email dumps, nasty women, bad hombres and making America better again. We packed up the car and headed up Highway 79 to Hannibal to hide out in Mark Twain’s Cave and to see some fall leaves fall.

Except, there were very few fall leaves to fall. Most everything was still green. The temperatures were in the 80s. The only cool spot in Hannibal was where Injun’ Joe cooled his heels in Twain’s cave and went toes up from starvation before anyone found him.

Here we were in the 4th weekend of October, with everything still green, and folks running around in gym shorts. I’m sorry, but when I was a boy, the first frost had passed by the 4th weekend of October and colorful leaves were on the ground, turning brown.

So what gives? Plant Professor Howie Neufield of Appalachian State University says climate change is now delaying the fall season, dampening the foliage, bleaching out the red tones and ushering in invasive species.

According to Neufield in an article in LiveScience: “The trees say, ‘It’s not getting colder, so I’ll just keep my leaves.”

Pretty red leaves may not seem to be a big deal compared to the more ominous warnings about the effects of climate change, but the impact on fall foliage tourism could be formidable.

Neufield notes that “leaf peepers”  generate more than $25 billion a year in travel tourism in 25 states in the country, from the Midwest to New England. Never mind the potential financial losses, Neufield observes: “A tree stressed is a symptom that something larger is wrong in our world.”

Forget symptoms, it’s easy to diagnose what’s wrong with our politics. Climate change didn’t get a mention in one of our three presidential debates. Instead, we heard about email dumps, nasty women, bad hombres and making America better again.

  Election Time: Days Away

We are just days away from the 2016 Election. The Nov. 8 ballot is packed with state issues, from cigarette taxes to voter photo identification requirements. I will definitely vote for Constitutional Amendment 2 limiting campaign contributions.

Big money has trumped the will of the people in Missouri. Legislators pay attention to their mega-donors in this state, not their constituents – donors like Rex Sinquefield and David Humphreys who have already poured $20 million into this election cycle.

Voters actually approved campaign cash limits back in 1994. Our state lawmakers then went to work to undo the will of the people. Our legislature has a history of crushing the will of the people after votes on concealed weapons, puppy mills, renewable energy, minimum wage hikes and more. Who exactly do these lawmakers represent?

I think we know. Can you say  NRA, puppy mills and gun industry mega-donors? I have soured on voting on state ballot issues. However, if  the amendment limiting campaign contributions passes, then I will advocate for more votes by the people. Two measures come to mind that state voters ought to have a right to vote on to nullify the stupidity of our legislature.

GUN SAFETY. Polls show 85 percent of Americans favor background checks and limiting the sale of high-capacity bullet clips and assault weapons. My hunch is Missourians aren’t that far out of America’s mainstream on this issue, if properly informed.

Law enforcement supports these measures for our protection – and for their own. Do we really care about our cops? I think we do. Our lawmakers don’t. It’s obvious. They don’t listen to these experts on issues like arming kids on college campuses or enforcing training provisions for gun permits.

MEDICAID. Another issue that I would like to see on the state ballot is expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This expansion is supported by such radicals as former Missouri Gov. Kit Bond and the state Chamber of Commerce. It would bring $2 billion into the state economy, cover 300,000 Missourians and end rising hospital closures in the state.

I’ve talked to GOP lawmakers who say they’ll okay expansion after cleaning up fraud in the system. They have had six years to do this. Does partisan peevishness explain their pigheaded ways? Time to let the people decide!

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