Connecting the Population-Climate Change Dots

Starving children in Budapest. But let’s have more!

Why would anyone want to force a woman to give birth to a child she doesn’t want? Don’t we have enough problems? It’s not like we’re running out of people. The U. S. population currently stands at 331.9 million and is expected to reach nearly 370 million in the next thirty years. Tired of traffic? Crowded city streets and sidewalks? Having to wait in line for what you need?

There is a direct correlation between population and pollution: more people, more trash, more car exhaust, more use of chemicals to produce food. There’s also the increase in taxes required to support social programs that keep people from starving. Homelessness isn’t a result only of mental illness or addiction, but also the need for affordable housing in a competitive culture where there aren’t enough houses for all the people. More population, more homelessness.

But wait! There’s more!

The global population growth rate is around .8% per year. That might not sound like much, but it translates in real numbers to an additional 67 million people PER YEAR, increasing by nearly 2 billion persons in the next 30 years, from the current 8 billion to 9.7 billion in 2050. And while we might feel briefly smug that this mostly isn’t happening in the United States, the fact is that it IS happening on our southern border.

It is only logical to acknowledge that an increase in the world’s population will cause additional strains on resources. More people means an increased demand for food, water, housing, energy, healthcare, transportation, and more. And all that consumption contributes to ecological degradation, increased conflicts, and a higher risk of large-scale disasters like pandemics. 

Throw into that mix the effects of climate change.

  • Climate change is one of humanity’s most critical challenges. The warming of the planet threatens food security, freshwater supply, and human health. The effects of climate change, including sea level rise, droughts, floods, and extreme weather, will be more severe if actions are not taken to dramatically reduce emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. While the link between human action and the planet’s recent warming remains an almost unanimous scientific consensus, the links between population growth and climate change deserve further exploration.
USA Today
  • With 2 billion people to be added to our human ranks by 2050 and an additional 1 billion more by 2100, demographic trends and variables play an important role in understanding and confronting the world’s climate crisis. Population growth, along with increasing consumption, tends to increase emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases. Rapid population growth worsens the impacts of climate change by straining resources and exposing more people to climate-related risks—especially in low-resource regions.
  • Including population dynamics in climate change-related education and advocacy can help clarify why access to reproductive health care, family planning options, girls’ education, and gender equity should be included in climate interventions. Increased investment in health and education, along with improvements in infrastructure and land use, would strengthen climate resilience and build adaptive capacity for people around the world.[1]

These facts are ignored in the evangelical push behind rightwing politics that have terminated U.S. efforts to promote birth control in Third World nations and continue to attempt to enact similarly restrictive laws in the U.S. After steadily declining for a decade, world hunger is on the rise, affecting nearly 10% of people globally. From 2019 to 2022, the number of undernourished people grew by as many as 150 million, a crisis driven largely by conflict, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the scale of the current global hunger and malnutrition crisis is enormous, with more than 345 million people facing high levels of food insecurity in 2023 – more than double the number in 2020.

And, the policy change backfired.

  • In countries that depend heavily on U.S. support for family planning and reproductive health programs, contraceptive use decreased 14 percent, pregnancies rose 12 percent, and abortions climbed 40 percent when the policy was in effect relative to countries less reliant on U.S. support. The evidence suggests that the policy leads to a reduction in contraceptive use and increased pregnancies and abortions.[2]

Wake up time! Despite FOX News propaganda, the crisis at our border is not created by drug cartels pushing fentanyl. It is about the same issues that have driven people to leave their homelands since prehistory: the need for opportunity to obtain food and safety. If economic conditions are unfavorable and appear to be deteriorating further, an increasing number of people will migrate to countries with a better outlook.

As noted in this 2022 report from the National Academy of Sciences:

  • Although family planning services are crucial for global health and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, their funding remains controversial. We document the health consequences of the “Mexico City Policy” (MCP), which restricts US funding for abortion-related activities worldwide. Since its enactment in 1985, the MCP has been enforced only under Republican administrations and quickly rescinded when a Democrat wins the presidency. Our analysis shows that the MCP makes it harder for women to get information on and support for reproductive health and is associated with higher maternal and child mortality rates and HIV rates worldwide. We estimate that reinstating the MCP between 2017 and 2021 resulted in approximately 108,000 maternal and child deaths and 360,000 new HIV infections.


We have yet to hear a definitive solution from conservatives who seem to prefer an unlimited number of births even if such population growth exacerbates climate change and its many effects on humanity. What do they propose to do about people starving? Nothing? Just let them starve? What about people driven from their homes by rising sea levels? That is already a big problem in low-lying areas which are home to over 900 million people. What do we do about all those fetuses and babies, not to mention half-grown children, women and men?

The United Nations warns:

  • Between 250 and 400 million people will likely need new homes in new locations in fewer than 80 years, [the UN President] also warned of devastating impacts for the world’s “breadbaskets,” especially fertile deltas along the Nile, Mekong and other rivers.

Apparently this won’t be a real problem until people can’t live in U.S. coastal cities. Oh, wait…

Flooding in Florida 2023 Photograph: Orit Ben-Ezzer/ZUMA Press Wire/Shutterstock



Climate Wars

War still edges out climate change as the current greatest cause of starvation. It’s an ouroboros (snake eating itself, i.e. vicious cycle) wherein the more devastated a landscape becomes and the less food it can produce, the more people fight over it. Which leads to more conflict, etc. It is important to note that climate change alone has not been proven to increase the likelihood of discord; however, climate change compounded with challenging economic, political, or social conditions can heighten the risk of conflict.

Evidence links rise in temperature to a rise in civil war. Researchers at Princeton University and UC Berkeley found that a rise in average annual temperature by even 1° Celsius (1.8° Fahrenheit) leads to a 4.5% increase in civil war that year. There has been a global increase in the incidence of civil war following World War II, with civil wars even having a greater number of casualties than international wars. Civil wars are dangerous, and climate change is making them more common.[1]

In 2022, the five regions with the highest number of hungry people as a proportion of population included:

  • Middle Africa: 31.8%
  • East Africa: 28.1%
  • Western Africa: 18.7%
  • Caribbean: 16.1%
  • Southern Asia: 15.8%

The Sahel, located between Sudan and the Sahara (West Africa) and regarded as the most vulnerable area to climate change, is a semi-arid region comprising some of the world’s poorest and most fragile states (e.g. Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Mauritania).[2]

Darfur, a region in the Western part of Sudan, has been in a state of emergency since 2003. “…The general notion is that the decline in rainfall and land degradation increased and intensified already existing violent struggles over pastures, water and farmland, proportionally resulting in a large scale civil war.”[3]

Population growth, along with increasing consumption, tends to increase emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases. Rapid population growth worsens the impacts of climate change by straining resources and exposing more people to climate-related risks—especially in low-resource regions. There has been a reluctance to integrate discussions of population into climate education and advocacy. Yet climate change is tightly linked to population growth.

Top 10 Countries with the Highest Fertility Rates (by births per woman) – World Bank 2021 (2019 data). If these country names look familiar, check the list above of nations with the greatest rates of starvation.

Niger – 6.8 (West Africa)

Somalia – 6.0 (East Africa)

Congo (Dem. Rep.) – 5.8 (tie) (Middle Africa)

Mali – 5.8 (tie) (West Africa)

Chad – 5.6 (Middle Africa)

Angola – 5.4 (West Africa)

Burundi – 5.3 (tie) (East Africa)

Nigeria – 5.3 (tie) (West Africa)

Gambia – 5.2 (West Africa)

Burkina Faso – 5.1 (West Africa)

As the U.K.-based charity Population Matters summarizes: “Every additional person increases carbon emissions—the rich far more than the poor—and increases the number of climate change victims—the poor far more than the rich.” At the national level, there is a clear relationship between income and per capita CO2 emissions, with average emissions for people living in industrialized countries and key oil producing nations topping the charts. High-consuming lifestyles and production practices in the highest income countries result in much higher emissions rates than in middle and low-income countries, where the majority of the world’s population lives.[4]

Sadly, the people suffering the most from climate change are those least responsible for the problem. For example, the United States represents just over 4% of the global population but accounts for 17% of the world’s energy use. Per person carbon emissions are among the highest in the world. People living in the United States, Australia, and Canada, have carbon footprints close to 200 times larger than people in some of the poorest and fastest-growing countries in sub-Saharan Africa—such as Chad, Niger, and the Central African Republic. In the middle of the spectrum are the middle-income economies, home to 75% of the world’s population. In these places, industrialization will increase standards of living and consumption patterns over the coming decades. Without changes to how economies tend to grow, carbon emissions will rise.[5]

As there is no panacea for combating climate change, a wide variety of options needs to be exercised. An integrated approach includes educating girls and empowering women to make their own decisions about reproduction.

While the United States is best equipped to address the issue of reproduction, Republican lawmakers have systematically gutted programs which offered reproductive health care to these places. President Ronald Reagan first enacted the global gag rule—also known as the Mexico City Policy—in 1984. Every president since Reagan has decided whether to enact or revoke the policy, making NGO funding vulnerable to political changes happening in the United States. The rule forces organizations to choose whether to provide comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care and education without U.S. funding, or comply with the policy in order to continue accepting U.S. funds.

Used by U.S. presidents since 1984 to signal their stance on abortion rights, the rule has been backed by Republicans – including Bush from 2001 to 2008 – and revoked by Democrats.

When the policy was in place in the Bush era, modern contraception use declined by 14% and pregnancy rates rose 12% in Sub-Saharan countries most reliant on U.S. family planning aid, a study found. When the policy was rescinded by Democratic President Barack Obama, the pattern reversed, with higher contraceptive use and fewer abortions.

Former President Donald Trump reinstated the rule in 2017. The evangelical-backed ban on funding for reproductive care extends beyond reproduction. Nearly 50 percent of global HIV and AIDS funding comes from the U.S. government. Under President Trump’s expanded global gag rule, the quality and availability of HIV services, including treatment, testing, and prevention, began suffering dramatically—more than previous iterations of the rule. The policy under Trump undid decades of work to integrate sexual and reproductive health services with HIV services. Vulnerable populations, and men who have sex with men in particular, began experiencing significant health service disruptions as a result of the global gag rule. Clearly, the evangelical-condoned ban isn’t about brotherly love.

Meanwhile, multiple studies have shown that the global gag rule has not decreased rates of abortions but instead has increased the number of unsafe abortions.

U.S. funding for family planning/reproductive health care is governed by several other legislative and policy requirements, including a legal ban on the direct use of U.S. funding overseas for abortion as a method of family planning (the Helms Amendment, which has been in place since 1973) and, when in effect, the Mexico City Policy (reinstated and expanded by President Trump as the “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance” policy but rescinded by President Biden upon taking office).[6]

In the situation where Republicans routinely disrupt the best efforts of U.S. progressives to reduce human suffering around the world, we can expect more war, more starvation (especially for mothers and children) and much greater human suffering all around.







The Tragic Trajectory of the “Freedom” Party

In political science, a reactionary is a person who holds political views that favor a return to the status quo ante, the previous political state of society, which that person believes possessed positive characteristics absent from contemporary society.

Increasingly since the 1960s, terrified conservatives and the power brokers behind them have pursued increasingly extreme political efforts to turn back time. What terrified the people were the changes wrought by new technologies and ideas of personal liberty. Suddenly women had legal access to effective contraceptives and by 1973, to abortion. To many, even more upsetting were the ramifications of the Civil Rights Act.

What terrified the power brokers were the Baby Boomers who rejected corporatism and the war machine. Young people from all kinds of families turned to the counter-culture in its denunciation of the war in Vietnam and the draft, its embrace of psychoactive substances that expanded consciousness, and a revolutionary denial of consumer culture.

The shock and horror was met by a series of efforts meant to reclaim the past. Called everything from the Silent Majority, Tea Party, and now the so-called “Freedom” Caucus, these political mavens proclaim their ‘freedom’ to not accept progress, to hang by their fingernails clenching the coattails of a vanishing way of life.

The effort puts the nation and humanity at risk.

Fundamentally, the resistance stems from love of money coupled with extremist religion (always a useful tool). Only God knows how viruses work. God doesn’t want people to question His will. God will take care of us. Et cetera. Fear drives these knee-jerk reactions, fear of learning enough to question certain religious beliefs, fear of having to think for oneself. Fear of personal responsibility.

Fear incited by behind-the-scenes power brokers.

Take, for example, the reactionary refusal to vaccinate. Science tell us that the availability of unprotected humans gives viruses fresh grounds in which to breed. And clever viruses reproduce with slightly altered offspring (mutations) that make them more likely to succeed—more virulent, or more resistant to medicine, or less likely to be stopped by the vaccine. Sadly, many reactionaries are unaware of this because they are not well informed on the nature of viruses, or of the nature of biological entities overall.

That’s because many reactionaries resisted the lessons of science that were offered in public schools. Either underpaid, overworked teachers failed to connect with the student or, more often, the student refused to allow the information to process in his/her mind. The resistance had been long taught at home through parental dismissal of science, passed on through generations.

Yet, remarkably, the same reactionaries usually turn to science when they fall ill. Vaccine refusers end up in hospitals partaking of the latest technologies and therapies science has to offer. And it doesn’t take a virus to incite their embrace of the latest scientific-medical interventions. Or take cancer, for example. Few if any persons facing a cancer diagnosis are interested in waiting for God to heal them. They rush to embrace chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.

But perhaps I overstate the point.

Reactionaries’ views on the financial world progress much faster than their views on advances in the social order. The proliferation of the extremely wealthy resonates in reactionary minds as a promise of what they might themselves gain if they play their cards right. Conditioned by clever propaganda put forth by the rich, the reactionaries wait for the ship to come in, much as a serf waited for the lord of their domain to grant a favor, perhaps by granting an extra field to plant or a new wagon in which to haul the harvest–which coincidentally largely lined the lord’s pockets, not their own.

This faith in the wealthy stems from several religious concepts, that God grants wealth to the virtuous and that people who are rich are God’s favored children. Therefore, in reactionary logic, by accepting and respecting the excessive wealth of a few, they are acknowledging God’s plan. If they’re extra good, God might also reward them with a windfall.

Never mind that the same teachings embraced by reactionaries state that wealthy men cannot expect to be accepted by God.

A darker side of this primitive thinking is the compulsion to protect those things so honored by God. If material goods of the wealthy are threatened by angry mobs, the appropriate reaction by God’s people is to kill the mobs. Hence Kyle Rittenhouse. Hence the thousands who believe young Kyle did the right thing. But this is apostasy: valuing material things over human life is a big NO in Scriptural teachings.

Another favorite mindset among reactionaries is the accumulation and embrace of multiple prejudices. Supported by twisted interpretations of Biblical bits and pieces, the religious reactionary becomes a racist, sexist hater ready to take up arms against any effort to bring them in closer, more accepting contact with people of different color, ethnicity, or gender. The actual cause of these prejudices is not religion but rather fear—fear of the unknown, the Other–as well as the urgent need to cling to what is known.

Ironically, eliminating fear is a fundamental objective of religion. Except, of course, fear of God. In theory, if a person is suitably fearful of God, and therefore religious in following God’s rules, then God will take care of everything else. This is called faith.

For many people, this narrow faith doesn’t quite get them past that man’s dark skin or that woman’s clever mind or that ‘person’ who pretends he’s a woman when he’s probably a man. Faith doesn’t provide any assistance in dealing with people who don’t have the same religious beliefs, or who speak a foreign language.

Faith has no suggestions on how to deal with sexual desires toward a person of same sex, so the default response is to call it sin and try to ignore it. But the desire never goes away and to compensate, the person in this quandary may direct his sexual frustration in other ways, such as child molestation.

Trapped in their unquestioning religious beliefs and narrow-minded view of the world, these folks hardly experience the ‘freedom’ their mantras espouse. And the power brokers don’t hesitate to play on their ignorance to enhance their financial opportunities. Not only are conservatives bound up in their tunnel vision of the world, their every effort is to restrict the freedom of others—banning books, restricting speech to avoid words they don’t like, forbidding medical care to women—there’s a long list of freedoms the Freedom Party would eliminate from American life.


Upon reading stories about people serving forty (or more) years sentences in prison for the crime of selling marijuana, one is left with the uncomfortable feeling that something is missing from the picture. People who commit rape or murder serve less time.

What was/is so terrible about selling marijuana? Especially now that multitudes of people are making lots of money selling marijuana LEGALLY.[1]

At least in the 22 states that have legalized marijuana, shouldn’t all the previous such ‘crimes’ be dismissed and their ‘criminals’ be pardoned?[2]

Why is the boot of the government still on the necks of marijuana users and traffickers?

Historically, the first notable enthusiasm for marijuana prohibition came from law enforcement.[3], [4] It was no accident that the big push to criminalize marijuana came exactly at the moment alcohol prohibition ended. It gave fresh hope for employment to all the ‘revenuers’ who’d been busy tracking down and destroying bootleg stills. After Nixon declared a war on drugs, particularly marijuana, pot users became a nest on the ground for police looking to boost their arrest numbers, hence the money they could gain for the department. It didn’t hurt that arresting a pot head meant, in many places, police pocketing whatever money the hapless victim might have had in his pocket, even if it was his week’s pay meant to cover rent.

Seizure/forfeiture proceedings also led to police profiting from taking the car in which said culprit had been driving, or if at home, the house, land, equipment on the land, as well as jewelry and other valuables in the home which could be claimed as implements of a crime and therefore suitable for forfeiture to the state. The thing about seized assets is that the victim doesn’t have to be found guilty of a crime; the assets are guilty separately, and public defenders are not appointed to defend property. If the victim, now penniless, can scrape up enough money to defend his property, he might stand a chance of having it returned to him. But in many cases, his rights regarding his property are obscured in an Orwellian maze of legal procedures designed to profit the state and the arresting police department.[5]

There has never been a calculation of the loss to individuals, families, and society resulting from these prohibition tactics—loss of employment, loss of opportunity to parent children and preserve home and wellbeing for a family (and the family’s subsequent need for welfare), disenfranchisement not only from citizenship, but also from community standing—a permanent blow against that person for getting high on marijuana instead of beer.

Jobs and money were not the only motivations for marijuana prohibition within the nation’s criminal justice system. Most state inmates are required to work at jobs within the prison system. In Arkansas, much of that labor was/is in prison farms which produce millions of dollars’ worth of crops which does not necessarily end up on prison cafeteria tables but rather is sold to profit the system.[6] Other types of prison jobs pay a minimal wages, which benefit whichever corporate employer is able to gain this work force. The growth of for-profit prisons has increased exponentially, with states giving up their prison industry for a package deal with the corporates. [7]

More to the point, the lingering extremism of marijuana prohibition has been a half-assed effort to stop the awakening of an entire generation. Amid the civil rights movement whereby former enslaved persons and their descendants might gain their rightful place in society and the growing outrage over the war in Vietnam, the Baby Boom generation came of age as if awakening from a 1950s dream where their parents and America were right in the world. Slowly, as the scales fell from their eyes, facilitated by the enlightening effects of marijuana, young people were shocked then horrified by the catalogue of wrongs unfolding on their television screens and in their city streets. Police were beating people over the head for protesting. Young men of the generation were dying by the thousands in an unwarranted ‘war’ no one authorized or understood.

Slowly, the awakening of the generation produced a new vision of a righteous society. Women’s rights, minority rights, gay rights, rights for the handicapped. Organic food and natural medicine including natural childbirth. Protection of the environment. Free sex for the pleasure of it now that women had gained the right to control their bodies. These were topics of conversation among the thousands of young people as they sat in circles passing a joint. Their awakening sent shock waves through the established culture as Boomers turned their backs on corporate jobs and material consumption to live in teepees and grow their own food (and marijuana), as they joined with minorities and war veterans to demand justice. More importantly, they didn’t keep quiet about their awakening, but took to the streets to force institutions like universities and government to hear the good news.[8]

Therein lies the slavering hatred against pot dealers/traffickers/users that has permeated American culture in the ensuing 60 years. Not only did a generation of well-fed, highly educated 1950s youth turn their backs on all their parents and grandparents held dear, they had the gall to demand those folks accept revolutionary change. Perhaps most outrageous to the older generations was the embrace of alternative spiritual belief, practices like meditation and non-violence, or the growing movement toward no adherence to religion whatsoever.

This fight is far from ending. Presidents Nixon then Reagan came to power in a backlash against this revolution. Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh recognized an opportunity to motivate their audiences through hateful rhetoric, forging a new kind of political mood that empowered religious extremists. Today, the rotten fruit of their blind self-aggrandizement is harvested almost daily in mass shootings and a population at war with itself as Republican powerbrokers use these differences like a cudgel to drive hysterical evangelical voters to the voting booth.

The misguided effort to put the genie back in the bottle has led and continues to lead to the legally-sanctioned crucifixion of entrepreneurs who dare to meet the market demand for marijuana. It is capitalism turned on its head. The cost of imprisonment in 2015 averaged an annual cost of $33,274 per inmate. Best estimates for the current marijuana prison population comes in around 40,000. A quick moment at the handy calculator shows that taxpayers of the United States are spending $1.33 billion dollars annually to punish the users and purveyors of this modest weed.[9]

Alongside the drug war and all its collateral damage has come the arming of local police forces with weapons of war and the glorification of guns. As citizen petitions slowly win some degree of sanity in nearly half our states, prisoners of this war still languish in prison cells.[10]

What ‘they’ fear is change. When will this tragedy of fear and loathing come to its rightful end?




[4] man behind the marijuana ban for all the wrong reasons” by Cydney Adams, November 17, 2016 / 5:45 PM / CBS News

If you look for the roots of America’s ban on cannabis, you’ll find nearly all roads lead to a man named Harry Anslinger. He was the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which laid the ground work for the modern-day DEA, and the first architect of the war on drugs.

Anslinger was appointed in 1930, just as the prohibition of alcohol was beginning to crumble (it was finally repealed in 1933), and remained in power for 32 years. Early on, he was on record essentially saying cannabis use was no big deal. He called the idea that it made people mad or violent an “absurd fallacy.”

But when Anslinger was put in charge of the FBN, he changed his position entirely.

“From the moment he took charge of the bureau, Harry was aware of the weakness of his new position. A war on narcotics alone — cocaine and heroin, outlawed in 1914 — wasn’t enough,” author Johann Hari wrote in his book, “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.” “They were used only by a tiny minority, and you couldn’t keep an entire department alive on such small crumbs. He needed more.” 

Consequently, Anslinger made it his mission to rid the U.S. of all drugs — including cannabis. His influence played a major role in the introduction and passage of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which outlawed possessing or selling pot.

Fueled by a handful of 1920s newspaper stories about crazed or violent episodes after marijuana use, Anslinger first claimed that the drug could cause psychosis and eventually insanity. In a radio address, he stated young people are “slaves to this narcotic, continuing addiction until they deteriorate mentally, become insane, turn to violent crime and murder.” 

In particular, he latched on to the story of a young man named Victor Licata, who had hacked his family to death with an ax, supposedly while high on cannabis. It was discovered many years later, however, that Licata had a history of mental illness in his family, and there was no proof he ever used the drug.

The problem was, there was little scientific evidence that supported Anslinger’s claims. He contacted 30 scientists, according to Hari, and 29 told him cannabis was not a dangerous drug. But it was the theory of the single expert who agreed with him that he presented to the public — cannabis was an evil that should be banned — and the press ran with this sensationalized version.

The second component to Anslinger’s strategy was racial. He claimed that black people and Latinos were the primary users of marijuana, and it made them forget their place in the fabric of American society. He even went so far as to argue that jazz musicians were creating “Satanic” music all thanks to the influence of pot. This obsession eventually led to a sort of witch hunt against the legendary singer Billie Holiday, who struggled with heroin addiction; she lost her license to perform in New York cabarets and continued to be dogged by law enforcement until her death.

“The insanity of the racism is a thing to behold when you go into his archives,” Hari told CBS News. “He claims that cannabis promotes interracial mixing, interracial relationships.”

The word “marijuana” itself was part of this approach. What was commonly known as  cannabis until the early 1900s was instead called marihuana, a Spanish word more likely to be associated with Mexicans.

“He was able to do this because he was tapping into very deep anxieties in the culture that were not to do with drugs — and attaching them to this drug,” Hari said. Essentially, in 1930s America, it wasn’t hard to use racist rhetoric to associate the supposed harms of cannabis with minorities and immigrants. 

So as the nationwide attitude towards cannabis began to fall in line with Anslinger’s, he testified before Congress in hearings for the Marijuana Tax Act. His testimony centered around the ideas he had been pushing all along — including a provocative letter from a local newspaper editor in Colorado, saying “I wish I could show you what a small marihuana cigaret can do to one of our degenerate Spanish-speaking residents.”

All these years later, many of the threads in Anslinger’s arguments are still present in the American conversation about legalizing marijuana. The act was passed in 1937, and the rest, they say, is history.

[5] It was not until the year 2000 that Arkansas instituted a system requiring police to record seizure of any asset including cash and vehicles, and establishing a method of tracking the distribution of those assets . See




The Rage Unifying Boomers and Gen Z, By Ronald Brownstein, JUNE 18, 2020 The ATLANTIC

The 1960s have achieved almost mythic status as a hinge point in American history. Both those who welcomed and those who feared the convulsive changes the decade brought can agree on one thing: Socially, culturally, and politically, the nation was a very different place when the ’60s ended than when they began.

This could be another such moment.

The ’60s watershed moments—the civil-rights campaigns in Birmingham and Selma, Alabama; Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington and the anti-war March on the Pentagon; the outpouring of demonstrations following the shootings at Kent State—can seem in retrospect like towering peaks of transformative activism far beyond any contemporary experience. But history may look back on this period as a comparable transition in the nation’s politics and culture, driven primarily by the largest generation of young Americans since the Baby Boomers who flooded the streets decades ago.

Enormous differences separate the two periods. But they may ultimately prove united by the magnitude of the change they impose.

The 1960s saw the emergence of social movements around civil rights, opposition to the Vietnam War, feminism, Mexican American activism, and environmentalism, as well as the first stirrings of gay rights. The past decade has seen youth-led movements around climate change, gun control, immigration, and inequities of gender (#MeToo) and race (Black Lives Matter).

Seen as one long wave of change, modern activism “has the sweep of the ’60s,” says Todd Gitlin, a historian (and veteran) of those protest movements and a sociologist at Columbia University. And just as the 1960s triggered big changes in American attitudes on issues from premarital sex to trust in authority, the past few years have also witnessed big shifts toward greater support for gay rightsmore agreement that human activities are causing climate change; and recognition that systemic racism remains embedded in American life, a consensus that has rapidly solidified since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Young people have been at the forefront of each of these changes.

Today’s long wave of protest shares one other quality with its predecessor: It has changed popular culture and the contours of public opinion more quickly than it has public policy or the nation’s electoral landscape. Now, as then, an electoral system that favors older generations—through structural imbalances that favor rural states with older and less diverse voters—is responding slowly to calls for change from younger Americans.

And yet, just as with the Baby Boomers before them, Millennials, Gen Z, and the generation following them will eventually define the new American mainstream through their priorities and viewpoints, as over time they become a majority of the nation’s population. In that way, the huge number of people on the streets of America’s major cities this month may offer a preview of how profoundly these younger generations may reshape the country’s politics once they vote in numbers that more closely approximate their growing presence in the population overall. “This transition is inevitable,” says Ben Wessel, the executive director of NextGen America, a group that organizes young people for progressive causes. “The question is: How quickly is it going to get here?”

The differences between Baby Boomers and today’s young people are easy enough to see. Younger generations now are far more diverse: White people made up four-fifths of the Baby Boom (defined as those born between 1946 and 1964), but represent only three-fifths of Millennials (born 1981 through 1996) and only a little more than half of Gen Z (tentatively defined as those born from 1997 through 2014).Allen Matusow, the author of The Unraveling of America, a seminal history of the country during the 1960s, noted another key difference in an email: Back then, many of the protests grew out of an assumption of abundance after two decades of the nation’s post–World War II boom; young people today face more precarious prospects. While the white, college-attending component of the ’60s generation “assumed unending growth, abundant consumption, and good jobs when they were ready to take them,” young people now face “environmental degradation, rising sea level, [and] concentrations of wealth that threaten democracy,” among other challenges, said Matusow, who is also a fellow at the Baker Institute of Public Policy at Rice University. Put another way: One movement was a revolution of rising expectations; the other is a struggle to gain a foothold.

And while the great social movements of the 1960s and early 1970s had clearly identified leaders who became iconic figures—King and Malcolm X for civil rights; Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and Tom Hayden for the anti-war and student movements; Cesar Chavez for farmworkers; Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem for the feminist movement—today’s activism is largely leaderless, notes Kirsten John Foy, the founder of the Brooklyn-based activist group The Arc of Justice. Particularly within the Black Lives Matter network and the broader uprising against discriminatory policing, Foy says, “We have moved beyond this messianic notion of leadership, even in the black community. It has democratized the movement and it has reenergized the movement.”

In both decades, the fulcrum of change was the emergence of a vast new generation determined to question the rules and priorities that it inherited. Young people were hardly the only voices agitating for change during the 1960s, just as they are not the sole source of activism now. But in each case, the sheer bulk of the rising generation provided a critical mass for social movements.

At its peak in 1964, members of the Baby Boom represented 37 percent of America’s total population, according to Census figures provided by the demographer William Frey. Frey calculates that, at their peak in 2015, Millennials constituted a little less than one-fourth of the population. But Frey projects that, combined, Millennials and Gen Z will exceed two-fifths of the population from 2013 to 2035. They’ll fall only to slightly below that level through 2050. (Surprisingly, there were about 11 million more births during the Gen Z years than during the Millennial years.)

In the ’60s, the huge pool of baby boomers receptive to change provided the infantry for the succession of protest movements. “The rise of organized movements among previously marginalized groups was indeed contagious in these years,” wrote the historian James T. Patterson in Grand Expectations, his sweeping history of America in the first decades after World War II. The visibility and impact of the early movements—those in support of civil rights and against the war—encouraged the development of those that came later: for environmental protection and rights for women, Chicanos and farmworkers, and, finally, the gay community. Each helped clear the path for the next.

Although today’s social movements have largely been viewed as independent, even isolated, efforts, a similar progression is visible over roughly the past decade.

  • The Black Lives Matter movement coalesced in 2013 after George Zimmerman was acquitted for shooting the African American teenager Trayvon Martin, and the movement took a huge leap forward in public consciousness following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.
  • Young people brought to the country illegally by their parents—the so-called Dreamers—have kept up a steady drumbeat of protest throughout the decade to achieve, and then protect, their legal status.
  • The women’s marches against Donald Trump’s administration in January 2017 brought out massive crowds in cities across the country.
  • The #MeToo movement that grew rapidly in fall 2017 after exposés on the sexual-harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein and other powerful men has forced sweeping changes in Hollywood, the restaurant and fashion industries, and other institutions.
  • Students who survived the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, organized mass marches for gun control in Washington, D.C., and hundreds of other cities in March 2018.
  • Protesters likewise turned out that June in Washington and cities across the country to oppose Trump’s family-separation policy at the southern border.

The massive nationwide demonstrations since Floyd’s death in Minneapolis have provided a kind of culmination for these disparate strands of activism. The protests have been notable for the racial diversity of their crowds. A poll released Thursday by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that while young people ages 18 to 29 account for 52 percent of all adults who have protested—more than double their share of the overall population—participants closely tracked the nation’s overall racial breakdown. “All of those things are coming together in this moment,” Foy, a Pentecostal reverend, told me. “You have not just black people on the streets … You have all of diverse America on the streets.”

Despite the legendary status of the ’60s demonstrations, recent protests have likely involved more people. King’s March on Washington attracted 200,000 to 300,000 people to the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963; the anti-war March on the Pentagon brought probably 50,000 to 100,000 people in October 1967. Although exact numbers aren’t available, millions of Americans may have participated in protests since Floyd’s death. In the Kaiser poll, 10 percent of American adults say they have joined in the demonstrations, a result that would translate to some 25 million people.

The women’s marches the day after Trump’s inauguration also brought out millions, but only for a single day. The ongoing Floyd protests may represent the most Americans who have protested in the streets on a sustained basis since the demonstrations that followed the killing of four anti-war protesters at Kent State University in May 1970, when about half the nation’s college campuses erupted in discontent.

Nor have the current protests shown any sign of flickering out. Foy’s group, for instance, is organizing motor caravans in 33 cities on Juneteenth to demand independent investigations into people who have died at the hands of law enforcement and call for sweeping reforms in police procedures. One distinctive element of the project is that the local groups will also be encouraging participants to register to vote.

That latter focus represents one of the biggest uncertainties about the current wave of protest. The ’60s movements were divided between those who wanted to influence elections and engage with elected leaders (an instinct strongest within much of the civil-rights movement’s leadership) and those who disdained traditional politics as unlikely to produce fundamental change (a tendency strongest in the initial years of the anti-war and student movements). “There were very few people who came out of the new left who were ready to plunge into electoral politics,” says Gitlin, who served as president of Students for a Democratic Society during the ’60s and later wrote a classic history of the period, Years of Hope, Days of Rage.

Reporters following the current protests have found no shortage of local activist leaders equally suspicious of mainstream electoral organizing. One of the pivotal questions of American politics over the next decade may be how quickly, if at all, the young people now protesting in the street develop electoral clout comparable to their numbers. While the Baby Boomers changed social attitudes and popular culture relatively quickly, they did not elect one of their own as president until Bill Clinton, in 1992. In fact, with only one four-year interruption (Jimmy Carter), Republican presidents who largely positioned themselves against the cultural changes that the ’60s unleashed occupied the White House from 1968 until Clinton’s victory.

While the ’60s movements contributed to important changes in law on issues from civil rights and voting rights to the environment and decriminalizing private sexual behavior, their supporters’ failure to win subsequent presidential elections is the reason why Gitlin summarized their impact this way: They were “a great political defeat and a great cultural success. That’s how we ended up with the left marching on the English department while the right took Washington.”

The next decade could produce a similarly bifurcated outcome for Millennials, Gen Z, and the even younger (and more diverse) cohort following them. Their preferences already dominate popular culture, and their tolerance of diversity has lit the path for broader changes in social attitudes, such as public support for gay marriage.

But their electoral impact remains less defined. There’s widespread agreement among activists and observers alike that the election of Trump—a candidate who overtly defined himself in opposition to racial and cultural change—has created a sense of embattlement that’s fueled the expanding protest. “We are seeing those accomplishments, the things that people died for, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X died for, literally being stripped from us,” Foy said.

But, despite their animosity toward Trump, only about half of eligible Millennials and Gen Zers voted in 2016. And while turnout among younger voters was much higher in 2018 than in the previous midterm election, in 2014, many surveys have found only modest enthusiasm among them for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Significant numbers of younger voters say they are considering either voting for a third-party candidate or not voting at all.

The energy coursing through the current protests—as well as Trump’s decision to position himself against them—might offer Biden a new opportunity to engage younger voters who have been cool to him so far. The payoff would be enormous if he can: Frey calculates that Millennials and Gen Z will comprise almost exactly as large a share of eligible voters in November as Baby Boomers and their elders do now (just under two-fifths in each case). By 2024, that balance will tip toward the younger generations, and the gap will widen steadily after that.

“Millennials are a bridge between the white-baby-boom-dominated culture of the past and the diverse America that will define the nation in the 21st century,” Frey told me. “I think these protests, made up of multiethnic Millennials and Gen Zers, are the tipping point of this shift.”

While the past decade’s social movements focus on discrete issues, all of them, as Wessel notes, are drawing on “the same frustration: We have an unequal society that benefits the few—the old, the white—over the many: the young, people of color. That is the crux of all these conversations.” Trump’s political strategy relies on mobilizing the Americans on the winning side of that contrast. Like the Baby Boomers during the 1960s, the younger generations dissatisfied with those arrangements have demonstrated, year after year, that they can fill the streets in protest. Their next test is to do what the baby boom could not: tip the outcome of national elections while they are still young.

Ronald Brownstein is a senior editor at The Atlantic and a senior political analyst for CNN.



Adventures in Real Estate:

A Ridiculous and Mostly Rewarding Journey from Tenant to Landlord

What began as a quest for a larger yet affordable shop space for a small-town repair business turned into a thirty-year adventure in the ups and downs of real estate ownership with detours into such unexpected crises as adverse possession, lawsuits, evictions, city ordinance violations, easements, and endless tenant drama.

The author of this blow-by-blow account offers helpful hints based on hard-earned lessons about ownership of commercial property in a rapidly growing part of the country, Northwest Arkansas. Perhaps even more helpful to anyone interested in dabbling in this particular type of investment opportunity is the entertaining narrative tracking one person’s struggle to learn, adapt, and survive in the onslaught on unexpected legal, construction, and tenant challenges while raising three children and surviving a failed marriage.

Will the story end in despair and bankruptcy? Or will the investment pay off with retirement income sufficient to keep body and soul together into the twilight years?

Author of “how-to” books and over a dozen studies of local history, Campbell’s incisive observations about her adventures in the local real estate market offers a treasure-trove of advice to anyone contemplating investing in commercial real estate. This richly-told story is a profile of how to get in cheap and make it work for anyone looking to provide a decent return on almost zero dollars and a lot of sweat equity.

Paperback, $11.95, Amazon

Progress or decline?

It should be obvious that everyone in the nation—everyone in the world—benefits when Americans go to college. Americans have earned a reputation for inventiveness and technological advances. Are we ready to give that up?

From James Webb telescope

Back in the day, when the average U.S. worker did just fine with a high school education (or less), the few who went to college were easily subsidized by state taxes up to 80% of the cost. But as the world became increasingly technological, as science became multiple branches of study of everything from our genetic code to the finer points of interstellar rocketry, more and more young people wanted to know more than what high school could teach them.

Few among us want to go back to time when our food supply depended on a plow and a mule and day after day of unrelenting labor, when lights went out with sunset, when one out of every one hundred women died from childbirth. We may feel stressed with the pace of life, but we cannot turn back the tide of progress. The alternative to progress is stagnation, or at worst, destruction.

The United States is slipping behind other nations in the educational achievements of its young people. Rather than analyzing and correcting the reasons behind this decline, our elected leaders succumb to the easy way out which is to facilitate the transfer of tax dollars to private schools and relegate college funding to high-interest loans.

The reluctance, and in many cases the angry protests, of conservatives to support reduction of student loan debt is yet another example of the shortsightedness of this particular slice of our population. These same folks are eager to take advantage of the latest pharmaceuticals, the newest technology in cell phones and digital conveniences/entertainment, as if it all sprang fully formed from the head of Zeus. News flash: These and the many other advancements we enjoy every day are the result of people going to college.

Why would we want to strangle the future our young people can offer?

It could be that there’s a subconscious inclination among conservatives to dig in their heels and not go into that promising future. Maybe the reluctance to facilitate college education is a rejection of modern life and its collection of pros and cons, and instead nostalgia for a long-lost past where completing 8th grade was the biggest accomplishment anyone could expect. That wasn’t so long ago, back when most families lived on a farm and grew most of their own food, when telephones and electricity didn’t exist. But not even the most radical conservative is ready to give up the morning shower, or their cell phone, or the motor vehicle that takes them wherever they want to go.

Progress means finding solutions to problems large and small, problems like Covid 19 (SARS-CoV-2), a virus that so far has left a million Americans dead. In less than a year, our college grads developed a vaccine that provides protection from death and, in most cases, protection from infection, by this virus. Are we ready to give up that kind of science?

The U. S. has to choose whether to continue to lag behind other nations in supporting the education of its young. President Biden and Democrats in general have supported this modest reduction of student loan debt. But over half of student loans will remain to be paid, racking up compound interest that increases the amount owed faster than payments can be made.

It’s a rigged system. Student loans, unlike any other loan, cannot be written off in a bankruptcy, so even when illness or other tragedies of life crash down on a person’s shoulders, those student loans still must be paid. The cost of higher education continues to increase as colleges try to accommodate the loss of state funding while still providing the advanced education students need.

Higher education is the path to future successes for our nation, not only in medicine but in every other aspect of our civilization. Our supply of food and water will increasingly depend on how well we can mitigate the damage caused by climate change. Our health depends on our ability to stave off more exotic viruses. We need to know more about the causes of diseases like cancer, tuberculosis and Alzheimer’s. When we encourage the pursuit of higher education, we not only address future needs for food and medicine, but also provide for an endless advancement of every aspect of human existence.

We need to move our thinking away from the idea that college is ‘extra.’ While we will always need workers skilled in certain trades that are better taught through vocational schools and apprenticeship, increasingly we need people who can program software, refine microchips, and analyze the human genome. And never forget the thousands of college graduates we rely on every day: doctors and dentists, lawyers and judges, engineers and architects, chemists and researchers, managers and accountants, historians and diplomats, psychologists and psychiatrists, and teachers—to name a few.

It is past time for our educational system to provide affordable college education. One way or the other, a student’s cost for college has to return to a reasonable amount—if not free. States need to shoulder more of the burden, as they did before Reaganomics took effect. Lenders for student loans need to be limited to a one-time charge of interest. Colleges need to find ways to reduce costs.

We face a national emergency in education. Public school teachers need much better pay. Taxpayer funds must never be diverted to private schools which don’t have to accommodate special needs students or which promulgate narrow belief systems. As long as our brightest minds are handicapped by the cost of college education, our nation suffers.

The proud image of our nation, which conservatives love to flag-wave about, is not only about those hardworking linemen, farmers, plumbers and other ‘blue-collar’ jobs, but also about the college grads who figured out how to engineer a tractor that can be operated from an air-conditioned cab while pulling a ten-row cultivator, or who calculated the weight and conductivity of wires to carry our power grid, or who invented flex lines and connector glue to replace labor/cost-intensive copper pipe fittings. It takes all of us.

Thinking of investing in real estate? A cautionary tale

Dragging a building back from the brink–rotted roof, sagging floor joists, and years of sheltering homeless people were just a few of the tasks waiting this new owner.

What began as a quest for a larger yet affordable shop space for a small-town repair business turned into a thirty-year adventure in the ups and downs of real estate ownership with detours into such unexpected crises as adverse possession, lawsuits, evictions, city ordinance violations, easements, and endless tenant drama.

The author of this blow-by-blow account offers helpful hints based on hard-earned lessons about ownership of commercial property in a rapidly growing part of the country, Northwest Arkansas. Perhaps even more helpful to anyone interested in dabbling in this particular type of investment opportunity is the entertaining narrative tracking one person’s struggle to learn, adapt, and survive in the onslaught of unexpected legal, construction, and tenant challenges while raising three children and surviving a failed marriage.

Will the story end in despair and bankruptcy? Or will the investment pay off with retirement income sufficient to keep body and soul together into the twilight years?

Author of “how-to” books and over a dozen studies of local history, Campbell’s incisive observations about her adventures in the local real estate market offers a treasure-trove of advice to anyone contemplating investing in commercial real estate. This richly-told story is a profile of how to get in cheap and make it work for anyone looking to provide a decent return on almost zero dollars and a lot of sweat equity.

Grab your copy today!

Why We Should Be Afraid of Bernie

My Berner friends may become incensed with what I’m about to say, but I have to say it. It’s not that I don’t like almost everything Bernie promises. It’s that I’ve learned in my 72 years to be suspicious of someone who offers everything I might want, especially when it’s free. What’s the catch?

I believe he promises far more than he can deliver. Obama managed to get the Affordable Care Act passed but with massive compromises even though Democrats held majorities in the House and Senate. Yet to hear Bernie tell it, he’ll wave his magic wand and give us Medicare for All.

Same thing with his talk about taxing the 1% to pay for all his promises. It sounds great to hear him talk of free college, free childcare, ending fossil fuels, etc. but – as my grandmother used to say – “It’s too much sugar for a dime.”

Immigration policy changes advocated by Sanders are extensive. Good ideas include his commitment to “ensure customs and immigration agencies have the funding and personnel necessary to eliminate the backlog of pending applications and cut wait times for immigration applications and to work with Congress to provide funding to swiftly unify families stuck in pending backlogs.”

But I’ve seen little if any analysis of the social, financial, and security costs to allow unlimited immigration. Just his Medicare for All policy for immigrants raises red flags for a lot of voters — that he would “provide comprehensive care to everyone in America, regardless of immigration status” and his plan to “provide year-round, free universal school meals; breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks through our school meals programs to all students regardless of immigration status.[1]

And how much is enough? One million immigrants? Five million? We already know that climate change will marginalize increasing areas of the planet. Is it our plan to let them all move here until we’re as crowded as China?

Bernie’s embrace of the Green New Deal includes statements like “Save American families money with investments in weatherization, public transportation, modern infrastructure and high-speed broadband.” And “Invest in conservation and public lands to heal our soils, forests, and prairie lands.”

Who is investing?

Short answer: the government. “Directly invest an historic $16.3 trillion public investment toward these efforts, in line with the mobilization of resources made during the New Deal and WWII, but with an explicit choice to include black, indigenous and other minority communities who were systematically excluded in the past.” And he goes on to promise “We will guarantee five years of a worker’s current salary, housing assistance, job training, health care, pension support, and priority job placement for any displaced worker, as well as early retirement support for those who choose it or can no longer work.”

Sanders vows to make “the fossil fuel industry pay for their pollution, through litigation, fees, and taxes, and eliminating federal fossil fuel subsidies” yet doesn’t hint at what this would do to fuel prices. He promises to “End the greed of the fossil fuel industry and hold them accountable,” what every environmentalist has wanted for 50 years. But how do you end greed?[2]

His plan to end right to work laws alone will roil through state governments—where such laws are passed—and spark enormous resistance. Program after proposed program relies on taxing the 1% — but Sanders provides no numbers of how much tax the 1% and many others earning above $29,000 per year will actually be expected to pay.

Believe absolutely that Republicans will make those calculations and blanket the campaign with them.

These proposed policies and much more are outlined at Sanders’ campaign website and are worth a read by voters before charging off to put him into the running against Trump. To me, much of Bernie’s platform is pie in the sky without any acknowledgment of the role of Congress in passing legislation or the overall impact on American lives.

There’s a strong sense of individualism among Americans. We believe in hard work and earning what we have. It’s not going to sit well among many voters for the government to take what is earned and give it to someone else. It’s one thing to send a contribution to a request for money by someone we know or to a legitimate charity and quite another to set up massive programs where everyone can get freebies even if they’re slackers. We already have plenty of evidence that people will believe the worst about welfare recipients, some of which is well proven.

Don’t get me wrong. I fully support higher taxes on the super-rich. We might hope that some of these changes could be enacted soon, no matter who the president or members of Congress. But each member of Congress has to answer to their constituents including local businesses and people who worry about having to pay even more taxes. Waving your arms and making promises doesn’t end the human desire to earn more money (i.e. greed) or the very real limits on what we can have.

Promises unfulfilled leave a bad taste in the mouths of voters who might naively elect someone who says all the right things and then can’t deliver. Sanders could set up Democrats for losses far into the future, not only of the White House but Congress and state races as well.

To the more pressing point, if we don’t get Donald Trump and his coterie of criminals out of power, we will have a majority of right wing nuts on the supreme court (much as we love her, Ginsberg can’t live forever), continued degradation of our ethical and social standards, and the risk of losing our entire democracy. Why should Democrats take the chance that Sanders with his wild promises might go down in flames and leave Trump in office another four years? Can’t we recognize the risk and choose a less extreme candidate?

I believe if Sanders becomes the Democratic nominee for president, the Republicans will mop the floor with him and his massive tax plan.

Yes, Republicans will attack any Democratic nominee. That’s what campaigns do. But Bernie is a grenade waiting to go off in our hands. I want change. I’ve been a progressive all my life and have worked hard on issues from women’s rights to the environment. I’d like to believe that Sanders can win the presidency and deliver on his promises. But I don’t believe.

Bernie scares me. He should scare you too.




NO! to a 5-Story Hotel in the Heart of Dickson Street

Residents and visitors of Fayetteville might want to pay close attention to the issue currently facing the city council, that of a proposed ‘arts corridor’ and parking deck at Dickson and West. Several aspects of this project don’t quite pass the smell test and once it’s done, it’s done.

No one seems to know how the idea of an arts corridor got started. According to one council member I consulted, “The story I’m being told is that one of our planners, Leif Olsen, who has no expertise in arts and culture, drafted the grant proposal to the Walton Foundation. I can’t discern who directed him to do that, if anyone with appropriate expertise consulted with him, or if he worked with any stakeholder group.” So far the biggest champion of the art corridor is the Walton Arts Center CEO and president, Peter Lane. Hm.

In order to gain the coveted arts corridor, the city must convert the WAC parking lot into a park with a civic forum space, which in turn requires the construction of a parking garage to offset the loss of parking for the WAC. The mayor has determined that such a parking facility must be no more than 1000 ft. from the WAC, no doubt after consultation with the WAC.

The project has progressed to the point that only three possible locations will be considered. One is the place now known as the Nadine Baum Center, which would be torn down and replaced with a garage and some liner buildings that would supposedly offset the loss of current art studios in the Nadine Baum Center. Another is a city-owned space on School Avenue, immediately east of the current Spring Street garage. The third, and current favorite of Peter Lane, the mayor, and certain other development-happy folks, is a space smack in front of Arsaga’s Depot along West Avenue. About half of that land is privately owned by developer Greg House.[1]

A fascinating bit about the preferred lot is that House plans to build a 5-story hotel immediately adjacent to the parking garage. The hotel would take pride of place at a landmark corner of Dickson and West, removing the train bank and looming over the 1882 depot building. We must ask whether any study has discovered the remaining number of parking spaces for the WAC once the hotel’s employees and guests have parked there. Hm.

Also fascinating is that in April 2019 when voters were asked to approve a $31.5 million bond issue for a cultural arts corridor, the bond issue included a parking deck for $10 million to replace the 290 spaces lost when the Walton Arts Center parking lot becomes a green space. (One must ask why one of the most trafficked spots in town must suddenly become green space, when most people patronize parks near their homes. Oh, yeah, the arts corridor…) What the bond issue also covered was a group of improvements for streets, police, the fire department, and other civic concerns which might be more appropriately labeled ‘bait’ to assure the approval of the arts corridor.[2]

But hey, just asking questions here.

Apparently the clock is ticking on how long this issue can be batted around before the money time frame runs out. That is, the time frame for the $1.7 million Walton Foundation grant to help fund the arts corridor. Thus the hurry-up among council members as well as interested parties in the refusal to take a step back and think about the big picture before rushing into an irreversible decision.

So to get the $1.7 million, we’re going to spend somewhere near $30 million. Fast, before we have time to really think about it.

Big picture considerations include the historic tradition of Dickson Street. As I’ve ranted before, once Dickson Street’s charm is pockmarked with big shiny boxes, the charm leaks away. At that point, the only reason to go there would be the WAC. With structures built as early as 1882, the street has been a treasure to alumni, residents, and visitors not to mention entrepreneurs who find small individual buildings more affordable housing for their dream enterprises. Slick new buildings such as The Legacy and The Dickson cost a lot more per square foot and offer ZERO charm. But hey, they’re new and shiny.

Some people don’t care about historical. Remember when they wanted to tear down Old Main?

If the city has determined on its own aside from Walton influence that an arts corridor is truly going to be an asset, something the city needs, then why not take half the current WAC lot and make it a park/arts corridor and use the other (west) half to build a parking garage. Simple. Just because this wasn’t considered in the original conceptualization of the project doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

Currently, the reason it ‘can’t’ be done is: “We spent about $350,000 on a schematic design,” [the city’s director of sustainability and parking] Nierengarten said. “A schematic design that does not show a parking deck on the civic plaza is what the citizens of Fayetteville voted on as part of the bond last April.” So let’s rush right out and spend $10 million building a deck that will primarily benefit a private developer and add one more nail in the coffin of one of only two historical areas left in Fayetteville.

Who first had the idea of a cultural arts corridor? Or a ‘civic plaza’? Why was the ‘study’ funded by a Walton Foundation grant? Why was a study of the area’s arts community, also initiated by unknown parties, contracted out to a Minnesota company named Artspace that developed a “Creative Economy Map” for the NWA region, also funded by a Walton Foundation grant? In this map, significant portions of the Fayetteville creative community fails to appear. (The map is heavy with Bentonville locations.)[3]

I agree that NWA and Fayetteville in particular is home to a large contingent of richly creative people. In the 1960s, Dickson Street became the town’s entertainment district because there was affordable commercial space where creative people built popular music venues that hosted talented musicians plus art studios and art galleries (now mostly priced out), and pursued skills as varied as tie-dye, jewelry, poetry readings, one-act plays, sculpture, metal work, and even outdoor gear that later became famous (Borealis). The result was a vibrant part of Fayetteville that attracted the Walton Arts Center.

In the tradition of The Little Shop of Horrors, the benefit of Walton money for the arts center (and so much more) is countered by the need to please the Waltons. As we’ve seen on multiple occasions, the money comes only when Fayetteville does what they want. For example, the outdoor concerts that started at the Fayetteville mall parking lot grew in popularity but now operate at the Arkansas Music Pavilion, otherwise known as the Walmart AMP, in Rogers, moved under Walton threat of withdrawing funding if they didn’t get their way.

No question that an arts corridor across from the WAC would primarily benefit the WAC but arguably, also the city. But the corridor will also infect the city’s trail system from Lafayette Street down to Center and then south to Prairie with a ‘cleanup’ of unsightly undergrowth and removal of wild aspects of those surroundings including partly channelizing the stream. Okay, the stream has been channelized for at least 100 years, rising from a big spring currently hidden under the WAC parking lot. That spring originally served as a water source and cooled produce and meat in the earliest industrial area of the town. From the WAC lot, the stream flows through underground ditches to Center St. and then comes into view for the distance to Prairie.

The rushing stream and the wildness of that stretch of the Frisco Trail has been a primary attraction to hikers and bikers. Now, as part of the arts corridor, that section of trail will suffer the imposition of installations of ‘art,’ as decided by various persons. Why, in the midst of our downtown, can we not have some unadulterated natural areas?

By the way, the rationale behind this concept is the same as the rationale allowing the natural woodland of Markham Hill to come under bulldozers, concrete, and x-number of persons per square foot in order to satisfy the bottom line of out-of-town developers. But that’s another story of greed, insider capitalization, and lack of spine/vision by the city government. The excuse is that there are only a handful of reasons city government can refuse a developer, none of which are impassioned pleas by neighbors, preservation of natural areas, or historical importance.

There’s still time to save what’s left of Dickson Street from any additional high rise buildings. (Too bad there wasn’t any protection of Dickson before The Legacy and The Dickson were built. And yes, big bucks can buy anything and do what they want in private ownership, but there can be city codes requiring that anything built in a historical area must meet historical design standards.)

A greater understanding of what voters want remains to be seen because the city didn’t fully inform voters of what the arts corridor et al would entail. No one is going to die if this project comes to a full stop right now and renewed efforts are made to educate the public about the ripple effects of the project – including the destruction of Dickson Street’s unique historical flavor.

Notice that only the depot out of the surrounding historical structures is shown to scale. If they were, viewers could more fully appreciate how the development would overpower its surroundings.





Why Are We in the Middle East? A quick take.

US military bases in the Middle East. Afghanistan is not considered part of that region.

For a long time, oil was the lure to involve the U.S. in the affairs of the Middle East. An equally important factor in our presence there was to protect the newly established state of Israel. But since the end of the Cold War in 1980, the Middle East has become the battleground in our proxy war with Russia.


About 20% of the U.S. oil supply comes from the Middle East, largely Saudi Arabia. You can fill in the blanks about how that fact has affected our foreign policy—trillions in military spending, nearly 40,000 American deaths, and moral compromise are just a few.

Consider the outcome of walking away from the Middle East’s oil. At the worst, we’d lose 20% of our oil supply, although other suppliers wait in the wings making such an outcome rather unlikely. But let’s consider it.

Reduce your travel by 20%. Reduce your consumption of goods and services by 20% because these items are dependent on vehicles fueled by oil. Reduce your travel by common carrier such as busses, airplanes, boats. Reduce your use of plastics, since virtually all plastic currently produced derives from petroleum. Reduce your use of chemicals from prescription drugs to fertilizer.

Ethylene and propylene are the two dominant petrochemicals: in 2016, the U.S. produced over 26 million tons of ethylene and over 14 million tons of propylene. Ethylene is primarily converted into polyethylene (the most common plastic, used in thousands of applications), but is also used to make other plastics such as polyvinylchloride (PVC, for pipes and home siding) and polystyrene (used as a general plastic and as Styrofoam for insulation and packaging). Propylene is mostly converted into polypropylene for fibers, carpets, and hard plastic; some propylene produced during oil refining is used to make compounds that are added to gasoline to improve performance. Both ethylene and propylene are used to make many other chemicals and materials with many uses, including specialty plastics, detergents, solvents, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, synthetic rubbers, and more.

Fertilizers – hydrogen derived from methane (the main ingredient in natural gas) is combined at high temperatures with nitrogen extracted from air to make almost all of the ammonia in the world (a small amount of ammonia is produced using other sources of hydrogen such as propane, naphtha, or gasified coal). About 88% of U.S. ammonia consumption is used as the nitrogen source for fertilizer. Other important uses of ammonia include household and industrial cleaning products, refrigerants, and in the manufacturing of plastics, dyes and explosives.

Pharmaceuticals – almost all pharmaceuticals are made from chemical feedstocks manufactured from petrochemicals and their derivatives.

Many detergents and other cleaning products are made from petrochemicals.  Similar cleaning products made from plant oils are now widely available, although these products are often also produced using substances made from petrochemicals.

Road asphalt consists of roughly 95% crushed stone, sand, and gravel; the remaining 5% is a thick, dark oil known as asphalt or bitumen, which occurs naturally in some rocks but is also produced by oil refining.[1]

Other sources of oil to take up the 20% loss from Middle East oil? Consider Venezuela, where U.S. meddling in their political affairs has reduced the government to chaos and the people live in desperate poverty. [This is the Middle East of the future, complete with terrorists who hate us and don’t have to travel far to find us.] Oil supplies in Venezuela are estimated to last another 350 years. Surely that’s enough to get the U.S. through another fifty years or so, enough time for us to figure out viable alternatives to oil.


As for Israel, currently U.S. taxpayers are spending over $3 billion a year in support of Israel. Most assume this is to provide security for a small Jewish nation in the face of threats from the Muslim nations surrounding it. But that’s not it.

Were Israel’s security interests paramount in the eyes of American policymakers, U.S. aid to Israel would have been highest in the early years of the existence of the Jewish state, when its democratic institutions were strongest and its strategic situation most vulnerable, and would have declined as its military power grew dramatically and its repression against Palestinians in the occupied territories increased. Instead, the trend has been in just the opposite direction: major U.S. military and economic aid did not begin until after the 1967 war. Indeed, 99% of U.S. military assistance to Israel since its establishment came only after Israel proved itself to be far stronger than any combination of Arab armies and after Israeli occupation forces became the rulers of a large Palestinian population.

…In the hypothetical event that all U.S. aid to Israel were immediately cut off, it would be many years before Israel would be under significantly greater military threat than it is today. Israel has both a major domestic arms industry and an existing military force far more capable and powerful than any conceivable combination of opposing forces. There would be no question of Israel’s survival being at risk militarily in the foreseeable future.

…the continued high levels of U.S. aid to Israel comes not out of concern for Israel’s survival, but as a result of the U.S. desire for Israel to continue its political dominance of the Palestinians and its military dominance of the region.

There are other reasons than military for the billions of dollars sent by the U.S. to Israel each year. At the top of that list is religion, specifically evangelical Christians who believe Israel plays a pivotal role in the ‘second coming.’

Based in part on a messianic theology that sees the ingathering of Jews to the Holy Land as a precursor for the second coming of Christ, the battle between Israelis and Palestinians is, in their eyes, simply a continuation of the battle between the Israelites and the Philistines, with God in the role of a cosmic real estate agent who has deemed that the land belongs to Israel alone–secular notions regarding international law and the right of self-determination notwithstanding.[2]

Compared to the influence of the Christian Right, the role of Jewish interests is minimal but not without power. Not to discount the lobbying from the arms industry, which contributes five times more money to congressional campaigns than pro-Israeli groups. Those who argue for a continued close relationship with Israel cite trade benefits to both nations, but there’s nothing in that trade which requires a continuing U.S. payout of billions of dollars in foreign aid annually.

Military Presence

The U.S. role in the Middle East has become increasingly intractable and tenuous, with no end in sight. Virtually all the terrorist hatred of the U.S. leading to acts like 9/11 and their determination to destroy our nation results from our overwhelming presence in their backyards.  We might point to groups like the Kurds whose existence is under threat from Turkey as justification for our continuing military occupation of Middle Eastern nations, but is that really what it’s all about?

No, I don’t think so. Consider the money.

According to data compiled by the Forum on the Arms Trade from the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program, some $25.5 billion in deals have been agreed with nine countries around the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) so far this year (2019). That compares to just $11.8 billion in 2018, marking a 118% year-on-year rise. …Globally, U.S. arms sales have increased by 42% this year, to a total of $69.7 billion, the highest level since 2010.

Arms sales are often an issue in Congressional deliberations, but the current president encourages it. Over half of those sales goes to the Middle East, often ending up in the wrong hands.

President Donald Trump has often made arms sales a central element of his relationship with Gulf rulers and has vetoed Congressional moves to block the trade. This is despite evidence of how arms sold to the UAE and Saudi Arabia have at times ended up in the hands of Washington’s opponents. Analysts say the large arms sales of recent years from the U.S. and other suppliers have been a critical factor behind the rising instability around the Middle East.[3]

The role of the U.S. in military activities, foreign aid to Israel, and arms sales is responsible for the current trillion dollar deficit and an unconscionable moral failure in our nation’s leadership regarding the Middle East. We need to get out of our proxy war against Russia and stop the flow of money and arms. Our role in North Africa, Afghanistan, and other foreign hot spots also deserves strict reconsideration.