“Will all of those who feel powerless to influence events please signify by maintaining their usual silence?” — Ashleigh Brilliant.
When I read the newspaper or watch TV, I often cut articles out of the paper or jot down something I’ve seen to possibly use as a basis for a column. Then sometimes I’ll forget about them until I go through the files looking for something else. Such was the case recently.
First, I found a very important article about artificial colors in foods. As I read it again, I wondered why they haven’t been outlawed in the United States as they have in Europe where only natural colors are allowed. “In fact,” wrote the author: “The U.K. branches of Wal-Mart, Kraft, Coca-Cola and Mars have removed artificial colors, sodium benzoate and aspartame from their product lines as a result of consumer demand and government recommendations. In the United States, however, the Food and Drug Administration continues to allow these toxic ingredients in countless popular foods, including those marketed directly to children.”
I had listed some of the reasons these additives should be banned. First, they’re made from chemicals derived from petroleum. They have also been linked to long-term health problems, like cancer. They have been shown to cause an increase in hyperactivity in some children as well as a negative impact on their ability to learn. This is a perfect example of how our FDA is largely controlled by corporate interests. Go figure!
Next, I remembered a column I once wrote about concussions suffered by football players when I saw the newspaper article about another good reason that, ideally, the game should be outlawed, or at least altered considerably. Now the NFL is being sued by many former players because they were dangerously overdosed with potent painkilling drugs so they could stay in the game, though sometimes seriously injured, and are now suffering the consequences. The suit claims: “Team doctors … are disregarding American Medical Association ethics standards that require considering their patients’ welfare above their employers’ financial interests.” Last year, the NFL settled for $765 million for more than 4,000 former players who complained that they weren’t adequately warned or protected against the risks of concussions and brain injuries. … Additional claims are pending.” Let’s hope so.
I found a column by Robert Reich — “Exposing Right Wing Lies.” He listed the four “biggest right-wing lies about inequality.” The one that gets to me most is the one they use to justify their refusal to support government programs to help disadvantaged kids: “Anyone can make it in America with enough guts, gumption and intelligence.” As Reich wrote: “We’re the only rich nation to spend less educating poor kids than we do educating kids from wealthy families.”
Add an article about President Obama’s visit to Wal-mart in Mountain View to bring attention to the importance of solar energy. Of all places, he goes to Wal-Mart. It makes you wonder if he is aware of the fact that Wal-Mart is the epitome of greedy, acquisitive, exploitative corporations that care about nothing but increasing profits and show no concern for their employees or suppliers, shamelessly using them for whatever way necessary to advance its interests. Reminds me of what Robert Reich wrote in another column: “America’s largest employer, with about 1.4 million workers, refuses to provide most of them with an income they can live on. The vast majority earns under $25,000 a year, with an average hourly wage of about $8.80.” Shame.
On the lighter side, I came upon a note that I had written on the back of an envelope. “What is it with most women? Do they want to be taken seriously or not?” On the other side I found, “Or do they want to be considered airheads who go along with the latest fashion because everyone else is doing it?” I recalled that what got to me was that long straight hair that hangs all over the place and causes girls and women to have to continuously brush it out of their eyes. Well, even though I admire women who pay no attention to such style trends and do their hair in a way that best suits their lifestyle, I don’t think that this will develop into a column. Not for a while, anyway.
Then I looked up at the TV and there was the news story about the cat that saved the little boy from the vicious dog. “So there is some good in this world, after all,” I thought, “even stemming from the actions of a brave and loyal pet.” That made my day. And it was a reminder that if we want to change things we have to act even though “Normal times may possibly be over forever.” — Mr. Brilliant.
Since 1984, Dorothy Dimitre has written more than 750 columns for various local newspapers. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.