On The Observer’s issue of August 29, 2012, the Belleville Center landlord’s name was misspelled, his name is Charley Patel.
Category: Opinion & Reader Forum
What we need, ladies and gents, is a true world leader
A gentle reminder: Tuesday, Nov. 6, is Election Day – when Americans get to choose the next occupant of the White House.
This year, citizens can vote for the incumbent, Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee; or for the Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts.
This time around, there’s no third-party candidate of the stature of Ralph Nader or Ross Perot, for example, who’s thrown his or her hat in the ring.
And that’s may be our loss, since neither of the major party candidates has articulated – at least in the view of this writer – a clear vision of America’s future.
Instead, we’ve heard each candidate bash his opponent with the typical pronouncements of liberal and conservative rhetoric. We’ve heard Obama champion the role of government in helping rescue our sagging economy and, from Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, attacks on government spending and debt.
But there’s been little discussion about how America can be a player for good in a world beset from every angle with Herculean problems ranging from war to climate change to hunger to pollution, and beyond.
America can ill afford to stand alone on the global stage and our next leader must find a way to rally both parties and citizens of all stripes behind a movement aimed to uniting all nations in a common cause: cooperation for survival of the planet.
Pride in country can only go so far. America needs to broaden its horizons to win global partners for peace and prosperity for all.
– Ron Leir
“Things aren’t always as they seem.” I don’t know who first coined this phrase but in many instances it’s apt. It certainly rings true on the Passaic River, a place where a person can easily misread the waterway’s health based upon the time of their visit.
To wit: There are periods during the day that the Passaic River appears clean, and times that it looks like a cesspool. The difference between the two can be quite shocking.
Most everyone knows that the Passaic River has its problems. At various times, it has ranked amongst the most polluted rivers in America. Nasty chemicals like dioxin are embedded in its muck – insidious contributions from an unchecked industry that once ran roughshod over the region, using the river as its toilet.
But the Passaic River is supposed to be changing.
America’s “green” movement has ushered in protocols, laws and policies intended to clean up our waterways. These protective measures have never been more stringent, and the Passaic River was reportedly benefiting as a result.
If that’s true, it appears that our Passaic River never got the memo.
Many months back, as I was driving on River Road just north of the Belleville Turnpike, I saw a vile sight that reminded me of the focal point of a 1970s commercial where a Native American man tears up after witnessing a dying river.
Here, right before me, was a vast scene of floating filth. Plastic bottles, cups, plates, you name it, choked the river, for as far as my eyes could see. Not being an expert, I reckoned that the mess might have resulted from a recent storm. I’ve read that polluted tributaries and feeder creeks occasionally introduce such garbage into the Passaic. Was this an isolated incident?
I decided to keep an eye on the river to see if this was the case. Sadly, it wasn’t. In fact, seeing this mess seems like a 50/50 proposition; one day it will be there, the next it won’t.
I’ve noticed that the “plastic invasion” happens mostly during the morning hours. Later in the afternoon the crud forces mysteriously retreat. Tidal changes likely account for the timing element (the Passaic is tidal in nature from Newark Bay to Wallington), but this doesn’t hint at the origin of the filth.
If anyone knows anything definitive about this, I’d be interested in hearing from you.
Watching the Kearny rowing crew slicing through the water was a picture-postcard moment for me. It had me convinced that the Passaic River was on the mend. Is this true, or is my faith stream also polluted?
– Jeff Bahr
School lunches: food for thought
With the new school year just around the corner, parents’ attention is turning to school clothes, supplies, and lunches. Yes, school lunches.
Traditionally, USDA had used the National School Lunch Program as a dumping ground for surplus meat and dairy commodities. Not surprisingly, its own surveys indicate that children consume excessive amounts of animal fat and sugary drinks, to the point where one-third have become overweight or obese. Their early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising their risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Gradually, the tide is turning. The new USDA school lunch guidelines, mandated by President Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, require doubling the servings of fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less sodium and fat, and no meat for breakfast. Still, food lobbyists have prevailed on Congress to count pizza and French fries as vegetables, and fatty mystery meats and sugary dairy drinks abound.
Parents and students should consider healthy school lunch as a work in progress and insist on healthful plant-based school meals, snacks, and vending machine items. Guidance is available at www.fns.usda.gov/ and at www.healthyschoollunches.org, and www.vrg.org/family.
“Getting hosed” is a slang term popular in the American vernacular. I don’t suppose I have to explain it, but for those that insist, let’s just say that the term symbolizes a wrongdoing perpetrated upon someone or something.
The oil companies have introduced their own form of this injustice to society, and a nasty one at that. Here it is in a nutshell: They want you and I, John and Jane Citizen, to believe that they really have no control over oil prices; and that they, pray tell, are really struggling despite the fact that their industry continually registers record profits.
They’d also like us to feel sorry for the “hapless” Wall Street speculators that have helped to turn the price of oil into something so volatile, it makes nitroglycerin look like tap water in comparison.
Another older saying goes something like this: “Don’t pee in my face and tell me it’s raining.” This one is self-explanatory, but for those that insist on an explanation, here’s its definition.
The colorful term is used when a scam artist, charlatan, criminal, or other ne’er-do-well is discovered telling outright lies to earn the confidence of their prey before they “take them to the cleaners.”
Sorry about that. I simply couldn’t resist. Definition? Being taken to the cleaners is akin to being bamboozled, lied to, ripped off, made into a chump, etc. Sort of like “big oil” does to us on a regular basis.
Oil prices are on the rise again (surprise!) in the Kearny area. You’ve probably been led to believe that this occurs solely as a result of supply and demand fluctuations. To that, allow me to say to the oil companies, “Don’t pee in our faces and tell us it’s raining!”
The oil industry casts its umbrella over the most profitable companies in the world – companies that reap record profi ts whenever prices are raised at the pump.
In 2011, the big five (BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell) pulled in a record profit of $137 billion! During the fi rst quarter of 2012, when struggling families in Kearny, Lyndhurst, Belleville and countless other communities wondered how they’d make ends meet, CEOs from the big fi ve saw their compensation grow by 55%!
Remember, these “struggling” companies also receive $10- 40 billion a year in tax breaks and direct subsidies by the U.S. government. These are monies that are provided by our taxes, even as we wonder how we’ll pay our mortgages.
To use a new catchphrase, I guess you could say we’re “getting gassed” by big oil. What’s that mean? Jeepers, if I have to tell you …
– Jeff Bahr
When President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered the above words during his 1933 inaugural address, he was reinforcing his belief that widespread fear, coming as a result of an enduring economic depression, was a crippling force.
Roosevelt hoped to convey how unreasoning fear could be an obstacle in efforts to move the country forward.
The President’s statement came nearly a decade before the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, and generations before the 9/11 terrorists’ attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. Still, Roosevelt’s words carried an interchangeable quality that could and should be applied to the American psyche today.
Less than two weeks ago our country was thrown into a tailspin when a crazed gunman killed 12 people and injured dozens during a shooting spree at a Colorado movie theater.
In a cruel instant this seemingly benign setting – a place that people regularly flock to in order to escape the shackles of reality – had been turned into a killing den. Not surprisingly, this prompted the question: Is any location truly safe?
The short answer is that there really is no answer – there is only our perception of that answer.
Philosophers, pragmatists and others have long argued whether human beings are subject to an inalterable fate bestowed upon them, or are captains of their own ships – able to change course midstream to avoid unwanted outcomes.
Many of us believe that there are things in life that simply cannot be avoided. Consider the unlucky victims of the now infamous Colorado movie theater attack. Not one of them knew the cruel fate that awaited them when they plunked down their money to buy a ticket. How could they? In this regard, they were no different than moviegoers in Kearny, North Arlington, Lyndhurst, Belleville, or anywhere else.
Put simply, life is a crapshoot. You pay your money and you take your chances, as the saying goes.
This philosophy squares perfectly with Roosevelt’s assertion. Since no one knows what comes next in life, what’s to be gained by fretting over it? Fear will only stymie our efforts at living a happy, productive life, and none of us wants that.
Additionally, this takeitasitcomes outlook robs terrorists and wouldbe terrorists of the very response that they seek, so that outcome, too, is a major selling point.
“Que sera sera, whatever will be, will be, the future’s not ours to see…” go the lyrics to a popular song that might just be the ideal anthem for our times. See you at the movies!
– Jeff Bahr
Dealing with our tragedies
Could the media please give us a break with endless grisly accounts of the Aurora killings? I understand it was a tragedy, and our sympathies lie with the 70 innocent victims. But, we also need to appreciate that 86 Americans are killed by firearms every day, and nearly 4,000 are killed prematurely by chronic diseases linked with consumption of animal products and lack of exercise. (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/ data/nvsr/nvsr60/nvsr60_04. pdf)
So, let’s replace the vacuous hand-wringing over the Aurora tragedy with constructive personal steps to lessen the greater tragedies facing us every day.
With the upcoming departure of Roche Pharmaceuticals, Nutley will lose its largest single taxpayer as well as some 1,000 jobs. Township planners are scrambling to find a suitable buyer for the 127-acre property. They certainly have their work cut out for them – especially if they intend to keep job replacement as high a priority as their ever-pressing need to secure a ratable.
If recent history is used as a predictor, however, those 1,000 jobs have likely gone the way of the Dodo. When a major concern like Roche packs it in these days, the search for a replacement is often a fruitless one. When and if another business supplants it, it’s all too often in the form a storage firm – the one industry where large vacant buildings aren’t perceived as losing investments or “white elephants.”
The trouble is such businesses employ very few people. In this regard, they represent a microcosm of the U.S.A. in 2012. Production and manufacturing jobs have all but left America – that’s no secret. So it will take an extraordinary effort, and more than a little creativity by Nutley’s Board of Commissioners to turn this thing around. Are they up to the task? For Nutley’s sake, I certainly hope so.
The Fourth of July has always been a huge holiday, with millions across the nation enjoying summer weather and barbecues. This year, the big summer holiday has thrown everyone for a loop, falling on a Wednesday.
If there was any indication that many were thrown for a loop with the day of the week the Fourth falls on, many towns celebrated the Fourth of July as early as June 29. Fireworks could be heard going up all over the area throughout the weekend. A week before, I overheard one man say, “Why are they celebrating it so early? It’s not celebrating the Fourth of July if it’s held on June 30.” At that moment, I explained to him that many towns in the area were probably trying to ensure themselves that residents would go out for the multi-million dollar displays if they weren’t held the night before they had to go to work.
Now… I sort of agree with him.
The Fourth of July isn’t like Thanksgiving, where you celebrate it on different calendar days of the year. It’s the Fourth of July and the birthday of America. You wouldn’t tell someone Happy Birthday a week and a half before it occured. If so, can someone please start wishing me a Happy Birthday two months ahead of time?
Regardless of the original subject of this rant, the purpose of the Fourth isn’t to celebrate a day off, it’s a day to celebrate all the freedoms living in this country has given us.
With that in mind, let me wish a Happy Fourth of July from all of us at The Observer to you and your families.
– Anthony J. Machcinski