Thursday eve and Friday are the most important days of the year to a great many of us in the lake country who are of Christian faith. It is a celebration and commemoration that has repeated itself for over 2,000 years. Let us observe it, celebrate it and enjoy it. Let us also remember, during this week that is so significant to many of us, that there are more people in this world who are of other faiths, who do not believe nor hold the Christmas tradition.
Most people will receive and read this the day after Veterans Day. For a lot of wrong reasons, Veterans Day tends to get downplayed in our present society. There isn't near as much hoopla nor genuine recognition of Veterans Day as there is with Memorial Day earlier in the year. That is probably due to Memorial Day getting a whole weekend versus the single day. My first strong memory of what was then called Armistice Day was the infamous Armistice Blizzard of 1940. I would have been 5. What I remember is that I was home from school.
At the end of this month, approximately 50 prisoners are scheduled to be released from the two federal correctional facilities in Minnesota. That is not very earth-shattering in and of itself. The number seems less significant when one is informed that it is just Minnesota's share of the 6,000 who are expected to be released nationally. That can also be compared and considered, in that some 45,000 to 50,000 federal prisoners are released annually. The publicized releases are taking place pursuant to a federal punishment reduction plan.
I think most of us were surprised last week by the sudden resignations of John Boehner. The congressman from Indiana, just two steps from the presidency, resigned not only from his powerful Speaker of the House position, but also his congressional seat, effective at the end of this coming month. I have little reason to either like or dislike the man John Boehner, but he apparently has quite a clean personal life record and is known as a personable man. Predictably, I haven't liked or agreed with his political stances very much.
Like many other things, the word "old" is in the eye of the beholder. Not too surprisingly, as we get older, our concept of "old" increases as well. Most of the time I feel old, almost as old as I am, and far from young or new. But, as I look around, I sense and observe a new kind of "old" persons. Most all of we aging people, who tend to repeat ourselves repeatedly, comment about how our perspective as to what constitutes "old" has changed over the years.
So far I've consciously avoided most of the hoopla over the dentist from Minnesota causing the death of one lion in Africa. I've considered it one of myriad things I do not need to know. That single lion killing is another minor event where the reporting thereof is running rampant - no, amok. As I started this column last week, I hoped it would die down by the time you read this, but didn't count on it.
As we get older, we spend more of the little time we have left on this Earth looking for things - things we used to keep better track of, at least, most of the time. Examples are car keys, eyeglasses, hearing aids, purses, caps, gloves, boots, fishing gear, earrings or other jewelry, and the list goes on. The listings of frequently forgotten items vary according to our gender, habits and needs. But, the general forgetfulness problem seems the same.
Our great country has some of the finest health care imaginable - for those who can afford it. By the time you read this, our U.S. Supreme Court likely will have issued a decision that will have a monumental impact on where our nation goes with health care in the immediate coming years. For many reasons and excuses, our highly developed country, in many areas, remains sadly lacking in providing adequate health care for all of its citizens.
In the convoluted system we have created for higher education, private for-profit colleges have sprung up all across our nation. Before, we depended on our public universities and colleges for most students, together with a collection of excellent private colleges of nonprofit nature, often supported by a certain religious affiliation or other positive purpose. As costs escalated dramatically at existing educational institutions, our federal government expanded its student loan program.
As the Legislature opened its session earlier this year, most of us hoped for the near impossible. We hoped that the partisan bickering and political posturing would disappear. We hoped the Legislature would proceed through the early months of the year, considering and passing constructive bills aimed at long-term solutions of long-term problems affecting Minnesota. That didn't happen. Republicans are too anxious to paint themselves as tax cutters and government "waste" cutters. The Republican House majority would decimate our human services programs.