There are several ancient cultures that have very few drinking related problems such as Italians, Greeks, Chinese, and Jews. The youths of these cultures are taught by their parents and other adults how to handle alcohol in a responsible way. So why is it such a problem here?
At 18 years of age we are viewed as adults. We can get married, are encouraged to take part in our government and community by voting and join or be drafted into the military to defend our great nation and yet we are denied the right to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, why?
We have fewer young workers
According to a writer from Nisswa, a replacement rate of 2.1 is too high. The lowest possible replacement rate would be 2.0 (one child to replace the mother and one to replace the father) and this would require all children to live to adulthood, which we know isn't the case.
Why, then, is our population growing if we've only hit replacement fertility levels once since 1971? Because the "growth" is the legacy of greater-than-replacement-rate growth rate that occurred in the late 1940s through the middle 1960s (the baby boom). In other words, our population growth is not due to birth rates being too high currently, but to birth rates being high post-World War II. Since most of the baby boom generation are still with us, and will be until they start dying off in about 23 years, the large quantity of baby boomers in the population pipeline provides a very misleading picture of our future growth if one is looking strictly at near term gross population numbers.
It should be self-evident that a growing population with a median age of 18, and a growing population with a median age of almost 40 (the projected median age of Americans by the middle of this century) are very different. In the first case, the bulk of the population has most of its productive work years and reproductive years ahead of it. In the second case, the bulk of the population has reached the peak of its productive work years, is largely past its reproductive years, and is about to enter a "dependency" stage.
A call for more public works to solve our future, catastrophic, social welfare problems forgets one important thing: the key, defining feature of an aging population is an ever-shrinking population of young, able-bodied workers.
Sick leave can make you ill
As our nation wonders what happened to family values, have you ever noticed how sick leave makes you ill? Here are the facts. If you are among the privileged and have accrued employer paid sick leave, you can miss work due to your own illness or injury and still be paid. You can also be paid when you miss work to care for your child due to an illness or injury. However, if your elderly grandparent needs your care due to an illness or injury and you are among the privileged that have accrued employer paid sick leave, you can miss work, but you better think again if you are expecting a paycheck in your mailbox. If you need to care for your aging parent or stepparent due to an illness or injury, don't even bother checking your mailbox. No paycheck will be waiting. After all this, if you've been fooled into thinking you might be able to care for your spouse or partner due to an illness or injury, forget it. Even the privileged who have accrued employer paid sick leave are laughing at the thought.
Right now a legislative proposal in the House (H.F. 219) and Senate (S.F.1128) would expand the use of employer provided sick leave benefits when a spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent, stepparent or domestic partner; is included in the first engrossment of (H.F. 219) is ill or injured, requiring the employee to care for the related person. This is an opportunity for employers, employees and relative members to collaborate and unearth our nation's receding family values. Acknowledge the possibility. Think about the consequences. Act to make a difference. Now, let your legislators know how sick leave is making you ill.
Vox Pop is a plus for the community
This letter is in response to an open forum letter published March 11, 2008, by A. Martin.
Although, I agree with much of what Martin writes, I really think that there is considerable value in unsigned letters. There was a time I felt the same way about unsigned letters and in particular to the Vox Pop section of the Brainerd Dispatch. The value in these letters is that, they are a form of communication, and if encouraged on a regular basis might have prevented the need for a referendum!
There is a weakness in your community, even if there is one person who feels that their opinion is not important. I think our Dispatch is a better paper, and our community is a better place to live, because of the Vox Pox mentality.
We need a knowledgeable president
In his commentary (McCain misses his chance in Iraq, 3/23), David Broder laments McCain's failure to insist that Iraq leader Maliki resolve the Shia-Sunni conflicts and straighten out the various crises confronting Iraq's government. Since the Shia-Sunni animosity in Iraq dates back about 90 years, and most of the remaining crises result from our invasion, Broder fails to explain how Maliki is to achieve this miracle.
At the end of his commentary, Broder does note that McCain "twice mistakenly" didn't know which insurgents Iran was aiding, and appeared not to be able to distinguish Shia from Sunni. We can hardly expect Maliki to take seriously a man who needs correction from Sen. Lieberman, and whose "claim to expertise in the region" has been seriously dented.
Dealing with the Iraq catastrophe will require a serious and knowledgeable president when we can finally get one in 2009. A Bush clone will not meet that need.
Rolf E. Westgard
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