01-18-2018 Letters and Commentary

CRUDER AND RUDER TIMES… none of us should be surprised at President Trump’s vulgar comments when speaking of immigration issues last week… calling some countries “s***holes.” Our language has “devolved” to communications filled with expletives and disparaging comments towards other people. I wonder where that turning point came; it can’t all be due to social media, nor can it be blamed on the schools entirely, nor television. Social media has its own code of abbreviations; “Oh my God” is OMG. “Laugh out loud” is LOL and so on. It does have its own lexicon of foul and obscene phrases. While our President will go down in history as the first Twitter President, his tweets are not as foul as his speech. It’s been some time since I warmed a school desk, so I’m less an expert on the language of the day in the classroom. What I picked up over the years came from communications with my own kids and then grandkids. While sometimes unintelligible, most of the commentary could be figured out with a little careful listening, attending events and from watching early evening TV. That widespread use of obscenity seems to have arisen out of its own cesspool without any help from the schools, social media, or the TV set. Somewhere along the line, perhaps the last 20 years or so, the public use of crudities has become acceptable. I’m pretty sure it didn’t start with the parents mimicking their kids. Harkening to the “good old days,” teachers would pounce on any miscreant misusing the language “there is no word as ain’t” and promptly report any use of a “four letter” word to the principal and parents. Those days are long gone and the toothpaste is out of the tube. There is no going back to more polite conversation and “cleaner” language, especially as the example is set by our leaders. Sadly the responsibility for “bad language” falls on us parents. We are the ones that sent our kids off to school without insisting they learn anything. We didn’t insist the school teach them anything either. In the interest of fewer taxes (less cost), we didn’t support millage programs to keep the schools in top shape, educationally and physically. We didn’t protest when art classes, votech classes, and fine arts programs were cut. When we did protest it was to keep the school buses on the road and the high school sports programs on the fields. Early on in a Karl’s Kolumn in a Capac Journal issue, I used the word “darn.” Retired school teacher Hazel Higgins fired off a note (that archaic form of communication before email and tweets) that read (something like)… I’m sorely disappointed that an educated man such as yourself would attempt to disguise such a disgusting word as damn by misusing the word darn. It was many a column later that I ventured anything like the same. Thankfully, language guardians such as Hazel and all others like her, have gone to their just reward before the current torrent of crudities became commonplace. I was amused by the painful contortions news commentators went to describe what the President actually said. Print media relied on the tried and true asterisk to block the offending word s***. The broadcast media used a “smudge” to hide it. The folks reading the actual tweets skipped the word or used “expletive deleted” to jump over it. One commentator on Morning Joe just plowed onward, reading a report and probably expecting a sharp producer to “bleep it.” There was no bleep and s***hole and s***house were aired on live morning TV. The most memorable was one I heard Tuesday morning; the news commentator replaced the President’s word with “open latrine.”

ONE-DAY THAW… It was hard to believe last Thursday dawned warm and rainy and by day’s end all the snow was gone that had accumulated since Christmas. We had nearly 3 feet on the deck and on the corner, the overhang from the eaves nearly met the snow on the deck. By Friday, the cold returned and with it, some more snow. Those of you heading out of town in the hopes of warming your toes south of here might have to go all the way to the gulf. Most of the country shivered along with us, north to south and east to west. Like many, I took advantage of the thaw to get the last of the decorations off the house and the little tree in the back yard. Then I drove around town with them in the back seat of the Jimmy all weekend, waiting for the opportunity to get them put away in the basement of the Record.

HEY SNOWBIRDS… now that the mass exodus is underway, please be reminded to give us your winter season address or hold your paper until your return. The Post Office will only forward your newspaper mail for a month, after that it is tossed out, but the meter is still running. Please let us know where you are so we don’t get an extra postage bill. And, there will be no delay in the delivery if we have the correct address.

Timing is everything, and the arrival time of your monthly payment from Social Security can be key to keeping your financial house in order. As you budget to pay your bills and save for future needs, keep in mind that your monthly Social Security benefit will be paid at the same time each month. To see your next payment date, create or log on to your my Social Security online account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount and go to the “Benefits & Payments” section. In general, here’s how we assign payment dates: If you were born on the 1st through the 10th of the month, you’ll be paid on the second Wednesday of the month; if you were born on the 11th through the 20th of the month, you’ll be paid on the third Wednesday of the month; and if you were born after the 20th of the month, you’ll be paid on the fourth Wednesday of the month. There are exceptions. For example, children and spouses who receive benefits based on someone else’s work record will be paid on the same day as the primary beneficiary. For others, we may issue your payments on the 3rd of each month. Among other reasons, we do this if: You filed for benefits before May 1, 1997; you also receive a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment; your Medicare premiums are paid for by the state where you live; or you live in a foreign country. Individuals who receive SSI payments due to disability, age, or blindness receive those payments on the 1st of each month. If your payment date falls on a federal holiday or weekend, you can expect to receive that month’s payment on the weekday immediately prior. You can see a current schedule for Social Security and SSI benefit payments in an easy-to-read calendar at www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10031-2018.pdf. Social Security is with you through life’s journey, helping you to secure today and tomorrow through important financial benefits, information, and planning tools. To learn more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov. Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan. You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov.

As I sit here writing this article I see the first sunshine I’ve seen in many days. It’s very refreshing. There are places in the world where there is no sunshine for extended periods of time. Places like Thule, Greenland, where the sun is up for three months in the summer and is nowhere to be seen for the other nine. Thule’s beautiful sunset lasts for weeks as the sun travels lower and lower around the horizon, but many find the nine months of darkness that follows difficult. Depression becomes an issue. Some people try to deal with the darkness resorting to alcohol to dull the sense of hopelessness that extended darkness creates. Full spectrum lighting can sometimes help. Physical activity can also help. But nothing replaces the encouragement of real sunshine. There are other kinds of refreshing sunshine we all need in our lives as well. Not the Sol-type, but the soul-type. Real sunshine for the soul. We all deal with times of discouraging, extended darkness. Times when we can’t see the light at the end of this tunnel we’re traveling through right now. Times when even the full spectrum lighting of positive-thinking can’t replace the real thing. We need real reason for hope – real soulshine. When the sun is missing we need to look to the Son – The faithful Son of God who promised to never leave us or forsake us through all of our dark times. He’s there when the sun shines and He’s there when it doesn’t. Unfortunately the only way we find His sufficiency in the dark times is to actually have those dark times. Jesus was “…led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 4:1), but He was helped by angels when He was there (Matthew 4:11). He made it through. He will lead us through too.


Did you know that Michigan has an extremely high rate of human trafficking?

Two Covert students in the Early Childhood Careers and Education (ECCE) program at the Van Buren Technology Center are hosting a movie event, “Break the Chain” at the Van Buren Conference Center on Thursday, January 25 at 4:00 p.m. Refreshments will be available by donation. The conference center is located at 490 South Paw Paw St. in Lawrence. Cathy Knauf of the Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force presented to the ECCE program about human and labor trafficking in SW Michigan. The Covert seniors, Jennifer and Anahi, are trying to raise money to rent billboards along I-94 in Berrien County this summer to raise awareness on human trafficking in SW Michigan.

Beginning farmers stand to benefit from proposed act

Dear Editor, The average age of today’s farmer is 58 years old. Over the course of the next five years (the duration of the next farm bill), nearly 100 million acres of farmland are predicted to change hands. Some retiring farmers and ranchers will pass their land and operations to their children or other relatives; however, many are heading toward retirement without a succession plan in place. Today’s beginning farmers juggle a great deal in raising and marketing crops and livestock. We need to support policies that ensure they have the necessary tools and resources to be successful. In November, congressional lawmakers introduced the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act to ensure the 2018 farm bill focuses on the future of American agriculture. The bill provides for programs and policies that would create opportunities for the next generation of farmers and ranchers. The bill expands beginning farmer and rancher access to affordable land; empowers producers with the skills needed to succeed in today’s agricultural economy; ensures equitable access to financial capital and federal crop insurance; and encourages commitment to conservation and land stewardship. We stand with congressional sponsors of this legislation in supporting beginning farmers and ranchers. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act should be included in the 2018 farm bill. Anna Johnson, Center for Rural Affairs

USDA investing millions in wildfire mitigation and water quality projects through Joint Chiefs partnership

“Projects will restore healthy forests on private and public lands in 24 states” The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest nearly $32 million this year to mitigate wildfire risk, improve water quality and restore healthy forest ecosystems in 24 states and Puerto Rico. Since 2014, USDA has invested $176 million in 56 Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership Projects, which focus on areas where public forests and grasslands intersect with privately-owned lands. “Through Joint Chiefs, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) works with agricultural producers and forest landowners to improve forest health using available Farm Bill conservation programs, and the Forest Service enhances forest health on public lands – stitching together a lar