I Publius: Taking notice of the things that matter

Have you ever noticed that … no matter how hard the highway engineers try, they just can’t seem to get it right? When you are approaching Great Barrington from Pittsfield, you have to be Einstein to know where the turn toward Stockbridge is. After the new, improved construction, things are worse then ever. Ditto on the turn from Route 102 onto Route 22 in “NewYorkState” (that’s one word in the Berkshires). Try making a left turn coming back to the Berkshires from 22 onto 102, and you’ll ask yourself, “What could they have been thinking?”

There are some people who are incapable of compromise? Here is President Obama, fighting for his life to give the American people a decent health care plan. I did a call-in segment on WAMC recently and was struck by both the right-wing callers, who just hate the idea that this democracy would assure everyone the right to see a doctor, and the left-wingers who all demanded single-payer Medicare for all, which I am for. They said that if they couldn’t have it all, they didn’t want any of it. Will someone give me a break? My bet is that both set of callers can afford to go to a doctor and may not be part of the estimated 50 million who cannot. I hope these people will take some anti-bile pills and chill out. If Obama doesn’t do it now, he will have used up his political capital. He was honest about what he was going to propose and now he’s doing it. If he brings it off, he will be known as a great president. If he loses on this, he will suffer a great defeat. His polling numbers are going down among Republicans (do you think they have doctors?) but not among Democrats. Some Republicans are framing this as a “program for the poor,” trying to alienate the American middle class. It’s an old trick and it’s disgusting.

A lot of people are still speaking on their hand-held cell phones while driving? Now the New York Times reports that an ambitious federal effort to document how dangerous this can be was never undertaken because it would have ticked off members of Congress. Hey, people love their cell phones and members of Congress do not want to alienate their potential voters. Better people should die on the roads? As for me, I have a hands-free device.

More people are choosing to be buried in their backyards? I like it. However, I don’t think the funeral directors like it and a few states like New York demand that funeral professionals must be involved in the process. Those are your lobbying dollars at work. I know people bury their pets in their backyards and I’d like to be buried in mine. When our dogs died, we cremated and put a sign on a bench memorializing them. Seems like a good way to be remembered. I mean, imagine, a headstone right as you come in the driveway. Then put a codicil in your will and in the sales agreement that they can’t disinter you. Every time the stranger living in your house comes home, there you are. Beautiful! See what you would have missed if newspapers were dead?

Businesses that do good things are not given enough credit? Legacy Banks has been holding a lecture series featuring some of the most distinguished educators in the country, if not the world. The first one was with Howard Gardner, and coming up is Richard Levoie, a renowned specialist in special education. You would be astounded by the stats on how many kids there are with learning problems. This is one not to be missed. It’s Oct. 21 at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield. Next time you see any of the folks from Legacy, give them a shout-out for what they are doing for their community.

And speaking of doing good for the community, Jane Iredale of Jane Iredale Cosmetics, Dick Sullivan of Legacy, John Law of the Williamstown Savings Bank and Bill Booth of Country Curtains were all at WAMC discussing a new cooperative venture linking the four theaters in Berkshire County. You go to one and pay full price. If you go to the second, you get a serious discount, likewise to a third and a fourth. Williamstown Theatre Festival, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Barrington Stage and Shakespeare and Company are all in on it. They all realize that a high tide floats all boats. This is thinking with their collective noodle. This is business at its best. Good for them.

Originally Published in the Berkshire Eagle, 7/25/09

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