April 17, 2014

Two deaths

I had unexpected news of two deaths today. One was in the extended family that will no doubt have many rippling effects. He was a good man who was like another father to my children and another grandfather to my grandchild. A Vietnam veteran, a Democrat and a quiet decent man from southern West Virginia respected by all who knew him.

The other was that of the great Latin American author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Marquez is best known for his style of magical realism, which he believed only told the truth about the Caribbean world. I've often thought that the truth about Appalachia could best be told that way as well. I am in awe of his One Hundred Years of Solitude, which recounts the creation and dissolution of an entire world.  In my dreams, I'd write a book about this place as baroque and layered as his. But only in my dreams. Who but Marquez would begin a novel thus:

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

It kind of makes you wonder what kind of random thoughts will float through our heads when we face our own (metaphorical, one hopes) firing squad.

I am not fluent in Latin, alas,  but  I like the sound of some phrases I know. Like this one, which wishes that the dead may rest in peace: Requiescat in pace.

At times like these, I love the words of the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, in which I was steeped from my infancy: "Give to the departed eternal rest. Let light perpetual shine upon them."

April 16, 2014

Stating the obvious

This is pretty much what one would expect, but these days stating the obvious isn't that obvious. States that have embraced the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare, although it was really the US Senate's bill) have seen their rate of uninsured residents go down.

I'd give WV a pretty good grade. As far as expanding Medicaid and helping to enroll newly eligible people, an A+ for sure. As for encouraging people to sign up via the marketplace or exchange, not so much. Still, I estimate that the percentage of uninsured West Virginians has dropped by around 60 percent since Jan. 1 of this year, all due to the ACA.

April 15, 2014

Through the roof

It's no secret these days that the ratio of income between corporate CEOs and workers is growing by leaps and bounds. Here is an op-ed from the NY Times about it and a pretty slick graphic feature on the same from the AFLCIO.



April 14, 2014

Happy 75 to a great book

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, a true American classic. Ironically, I recall reading somewhere that Ayn Rand aspired to be the anti-Steinbeck. I'd say she succeeded in that one anyway.

IT'S NOT ALL BAD NEWS. First, it looks like the cost of the Affordable Care Act is going to be lower than expected.

NOT ONLY THAT, but more West Virginians are taking part in the farm to table movement.


April 13, 2014

It's working

The last couple years in El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia, believe it or not, have been pretty successful in terms of progressive public policies. We've expanded Medicaid coverage and early childhood education, raised the minimum wage, and created a Future Fund. One other success was the passage last year of the Feed to Achieve Act, which is aimed at improving child nutrition in West Virginia. From today's Gazette, here's some evidence that it's already starting to work.

This is an issue near and dear to me. My employer, the American Friends Service Committee, first came to WV in 1922 to work on child nutrition--specifically, to help feed the children of unemployed coal miners. It's kind of sad that we're still working on child nutrition over 90 years later--but I'm hopeful we're gonna get it this time!