CRANSTON PRAYER BANNER: In support of teen Jessica Ahlquist and her courageous actions in helping keep “freedom of religion” and “freedom from religion” in our schools, and with acknowledgement to the late Francis Church and the defunct NY Sun, here is a short and very different version of the 1897 editorial, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” –No, Jessica, there is no Santa Claus. He doesn’t exist because love, generosity and devotion no longer need the support of fantasy to give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary the world would be if these most worthy human attributes depended on belief in a round, jolly man for their existence. There would be scant poetry, little romance, and a dearth of caring and love to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment in sense, sight and sound, only in mental abstractions. The eternal enlightenment of human accomplishment and man’s belief in human goodness that childhood so clearly demonstrates would be extinguished. For those who dislike this adaptation of Mr. Church's response to Virginia, whether they be Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or whatever -- please remember that your feelings are exactly those felt by Ms. Ahlquist as she was forced to view the prayer banner every day at her school. And that's exactly why we need to keep religion out of our schools and, instead, in our homes and our houses of worship where it belongs.
BROWN vs. PROVIDENCE: Brown University President Ruth Simmons, in her refusal to pay the city of Providence an additional $40 million in voluntary contributions, told Mayor Taveras, “Universities take a long view … with funding streams that insist on thoughtful, comprehensive, and long-term approaches … Elected officials tend to think in much shorter time frames – generally tied to election cycles.” Dr. Simmons laid out the whole problem and its solution in her two short sentences! In line with the national “99% vs. 1%” argument, Providence is the 99 percent while Brown is the 1 percent. Brown planned well and closely watched its spending, while Providence failed to plan properly and spent its treasure with little thought of the future. Now, the 99 percent is trying to intimidate and “guilt” the 1 percent to give it an additional $40 million over 10 years, even though Brown agreed to an additional $10 million over five years. Wrong approach! What Providence needs to do is mirror Brown’s approach by looking to the long-term financial health of the city instead of concentrating on short-term fixes that make politicians look good. Without doubt, Brown would be happy to assist Providence with its financial planning. Otherwise, instead of threatening and cajoling Brown, Providence should go to the General Assembly and seek changes to the laws governing taxes on currently exempt organizations.
ACHIEVEMENT FIRST: Union leaders and some of their political and media supporters oppose the two charter schools sought by Providence Mayor Tavares and other mayors. Achievement First, the charter schools’ proposed operator, runs 20 such schools in Connecticut and New York that clearly outperform their peer public schools on standardized tests. They perform well for the very reasons teacher unions oppose them – longer school days, longer school year and teacher practices not restricted by union rules. If we truly want education in Rhode Island to succeed and to allow poor and minority children to escape the seemingly endless cycle of poverty, we must support these charter schools.
RI OFFICIAL DECALS: Let’s not beat around the bush! These silly decals are desired simply because some drivers think they may influence a police officer not to issue a ticket. Those who slap RI Official decals on their cars with this hope in mind may end up with the opposite result. Many police officers have related that they are more likely to issue a ticket to such vehicle operators because the officers perceive the drivers are trying to threaten or intimidate them. Further, “decal saturation” is likely to cause police to lean more toward enforcement than toward leniency. Those foolish enough to affix these decals doubly deserve a ticket when they violate traffic laws.
JOHN LOUGHLIN’S WITHDRAWAL: Unlike Republican presidential candidates who seem hell-bent on destroying their party’s chance to defeat President Obama, RI Republican John Loughlin has chosen to drop out of the congressional race to defeat the weak incumbent, David Cicilline. This leaves retired State Police Colonel Brendan Doherty an unencumbered path to the November elections. Many believe Loughlin would have been the stronger candidate; however, in the name of party unity and to ensure Cicilline’s defeat, he has opted to withdraw. A courageous decision by a courageous man!
OBESITY AND GOVERNMENT: For those of us who think the government always knows best, the alarming increase in American obesity should dispel that belief. Thirty years ago when the U.S. obesity rate was only 14 percent, the government published its Food Pyramid to guide Americans’ food consumption. It called for seven daily servings of carbohydrates. Our feasting on carbs played a large part in the obesity rate climbing to 34 percent today! We now know the government’s advice was terribly wrong. The lesson: government is not always right; and the bigger it gets, the more likely it will get things wrong!