Howdy 2018 – How’s it going so far, this New Year’s Day?

Is it just another day? Just another year? What’s changed, other than numbers on a calendar, our age and how long we have lived on this rock? The Beat Goes On…

Turning on the TV to local news, national news, world news . . . not much has changed in the past 24 hours – more of what was already happening. Change the channel. New Year’s Day parade. Later, a football game. “Marathons” on a few cable TV networks. Some good movies, perhaps.

“New car, caviar, four star daydream,
Think I’ll buy me a football team.”
– MONEY, Pink Floyd.

“White House officials said Trump wants to rein in the threat from North Korea and list four top domestic priorities on his 2018 agenda: Repealing and replacing President Obama’s 2010 health care law, welfare reform, immigration, and a new infrastructure plan.” – USA Today…

North Korea continues to threaten nuclear war. Maybe Trump can teach them how to play golf instead of war.

In his 2018 budget proposal, Trump sought $200 billion over 10 years to spend on infrastructure, leveraging private-sector spending to focus federal dollars on “transformative” projects seen as priorities at both the federal and regional level.  That went nowhere in 2017, as Trump and the GOP-led Congress focused instead on trying to repeal Obamacare and enacting tax cuts. But the president plans to rev up that push early in 2018, with the hope that Democrats will cooperate. I believe infrastructure should have been first priority in 2017, to create new jobs, to in turn have more revenue from income taxes, to have more money for other needs and wants.

Trump insists he has not given up on his goal of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s health reform law, even though Republicans in Congress could not muster enough votes to deliver on that long-promised goal this year. As long as it is about money and not care then health care will never be fixed. As is, it is about money care. If health is put first, then there will be more money – a healthy person works, pays income taxes, from which the government can put money into health care, and so it goes full circle. As if, if you can’t come up with the money then your health will not be fixed so that you can earn more money to maintain a healthy life.

Congress has a March deadline to decide the fate of the so-called DREAMers, the approximately 700,000 immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally when they were children. Trump nixed an Obama-era program that shielded the DREAMers from deportation, but he also said Congress should figure out a legislative fix so the young people aren’t sent back to countries they did not grow up in. What a nightmare. The solution might be in using the infrastructure issue to create more jobs not just in the United States but in other countries so some of them will stay where they are instead of coming here for jobs.

In announcing a new major legislative priority following the tax cut bill, Trump said welfare reform is “desperately needed in our country.” A Trump budget proposal last year called for adding work requirements to some government programs and tightening eligibility requirements for low-income tax credits. “We want to get our people off of welfare and back to work,” Trump said. “So important. It’s out of control. It’s out of control.” It’s a backwards solution like health care putting money first and care last if any at all. Jobs have to be created that people on welfare can do. Again, back to the infrastructure issue and solution.

Trump announced in October he would no longer certify that Iran is in compliance with an Obama-era deal, in which Tehran pledged to give up the means to make nuclear weapons while the U.S. and allies ease economic sanctions. Instead, Trump called on Congress to improve the agreement, and the fate of the Iran nuclear deal is likely to come to a head in 2018. Supporters of the agreement fear Iran will walk away from the agreement and pursue nuclear weapons anyway, triggering a dangerous arms race in the Middle East. Trump is all talk and no action, and his talking and bluffing will make it all worse. This will tie in with the North Korea issue, China’s aggression, and Russia’s aggression, as well as ongoing conflict between Pakistan and India.

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” ― Albert Einstein.

The U.S. Treasury will run out of money to pay its bills sometime in the spring — unless Congress and the president agree on legislation to raise the nation’s debt limit. The Treasury Department lost its authority to borrow any new money to pay the government’s obligations on Dec. 9. Officials are currently taking “extraordinary measures” to keep from defaulting on the government’s current obligations, including Medicare benefits and the interest on the national debt. But the agency will run out of those accounting gimmicks in late March or early April, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office. That could lead to a round of partisan fiscal brinksmanship—with threats of defaulting on the government’s debts. Conservatives have generally opposed increasing the nation’s borrowing authority, so Trump will likely have to negotiate with Democrats to come to an agreement.

Money, get away
Get a good job with more pay and you’re O.K.
Money, it’s a gas
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash…
Money, get back
I’m all right, Jack, keep your hands off of my stack.
Money, it’s a hit
Don’t give me that do goody good bullshit…
Money, it’s a crime
Share it fairly but don’t take a slice of my pie
Money, so they say
Is the root of all evil today
But if you ask for a rise it’s no surprise that they’re giving none away…
– MONEY, Pink Floyd.

Twas the night before payday and all through the wallet not a dollar was stirring not even a dime.

11:59 p.m. – counting down the final minute. Then instead of 12:00 a.m. – a new day, a new year, the clock claims 11:60 p.m. then 11:61 p.m. – with Rod Serling showing up to remind all of us where we really are. A never ending day and night in The Twilight Zone.

When I started this new day, this new year, this morning, it was 6 degrees outside with a wind chill of 6 degrees below zero. Not overly concerned about doing all of those things I said I’d do when hell freezes over.

It’s a human thing. Humans do this to themselves, for better or worse. A holiday. A day off for most, or night off for some. Just another day and night for others, whose day-to-day living does not include a work schedule – a paying job, or volunteer work, and those in school or attending college. All the days, weekends and holidays, could be the same for people who have disabilities or are retired. More so for those mostly alone, without living relatives or anyone else to celebrate a holiday with. Maybe celebrate with a pet or talk to the plants. However, life, as we know it, other than us, is unaware of our calendar and such dates, could not care less if caring at all.

My favorite holidays have been July 4 Independence Day and New Year’s Eve more so than New Year’s Day. Why? For the fireworks. Born in 1956, I grew up during a time when most kinds of fireworks could be shot off nearly everywhere. For the family, July 4 was not just an Independence Day celebration, but the date for family reunion – relatives coming to our home from all over the United States, and if a few came from other plants it would not have surprised me. Surely at least one aunt was from Alpha-Centauri. The fun one, of course. My mother, her sisters, and her mother would prepare many dishes for the holiday dinner and snacks. My father prepared and shot off a massive fireworks display at night lasting at least an hour. We also made use of daytime fireworks. A few would be saved, set aside, for shooting off at midnight New Year’s Eve and during the day, but not as many as for Independence Day. With most fireworks banned now, my focus has been more on holiday food, sometimes ordered from Omaha Steaks (.c0m), consumed while watching movies and sports on TV.

Deeper and deeper into adult life, the so-called “family holidays” have become my least favorite. Especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. It usually rains on Memorial Day – images of people standing under black umbrellas at funerals. Labor Day? Is that an Orwellian joke on everyone? Other holidays are more for banks and government and mail delivery to take the day off, so not for everyone. There should be a holiday for singles. Not Valentine’s Day.

Some months have no holidays. A few holidays are recognized and celebrated on the nearest Monday to give some people a 3-day holiday weekend. Maybe we should replace Mondays with a day named Holiday, and give everyone that day off every week. If I were still working, or in college, I’d favor a 4-day work week anyway – 40 hours – 10 hours per day, and for school kids whose parents work those hours.

 ~ Jim Lantern

LANTERN TIMEGLASS JOURNAL

Norman, Oklahoma 

1 January 2018

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