Archive for January, 2018

PROBLEMS IN BASKETBALL

Basketball season, one of my favorite sports to watch, is with us. Unfortunately, what is being revealed at the same time is corruption in sports in some colleges. The size of major university football stadia and basketball courts is an indication of the amount of money coming in through ticket sales and donations. The money brought in to sportswear producers through the sales of uniforms and sportswear equipment has to be enormous. And, beyond these sales are those to fans who turn stadia the color of their school on game days. The coach of one basketball team playing yesterday looked worried, and well he might since the president and director of sports of his university had already resigned over corruption charges.

The smaller colleges that don’t attract TV don’t show up in this business enterprise. Also, most private universities who, through belief system or lack of money, also stick with sports for the students. George Washington University acquired a new president in the 1960’s who came to the faculty with a recommendation that we abandon football. The faculty thought a medium size program was worth keeping and the President conceded. But, the coach changed, the philosophy about where we should be in the conference ratcheted up and the cost went up. The President came back to the faculty and this time they agreed. In this case, including the faculty has made the decision stick.

In primarily rural states, college athletics are unifying activities. Those who haven’t attended college are as caught up in the variety of sports at their universities as are the alumni. So cutting out football and basketball are not an option.

It is understandable that sports directors and coaches get caught up in the “professionalization” of their sports. But, upper level administrators are also attracted by money that is not controlled by state directives and laws. That money provides opportunity to create special programs, hire outstanding (and higher paid faculty) and maybe even provide a little improvement in their own remuneration.

This is why state supported activities need constant supervision.

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What’s Up With The New Feds

 

The present national administration, unable to get legislation protecting the environment started in Congress, is using other ways of cutting financial support for developing and supporting such activities.

The recent National Wildlife magazine carried an article about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its works. It’s worth our consideration that it is one of the Federal institutions that the Republican government is intent on “downsizing”. The agency was established by Congress in 1970 with the support of President Nixon. Over the next several years Congress passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act all in the early 1970’s. All of these pieces of legislation had the almost unanimous support of both Republicans and Democrats.

These agencies have reduced the production of contaminants throughout our economy. Cars produce 99 percent less nitrogen, children with elevated lead levels up to 88% have declined to less than 3%. The Clean Air Act has reduced the level of carbon monoxide by about 70% through the country. The list of activities goes on. But, so does the list of new contaminants.

Unfortunately, the administration of our present national government is committed to reducing the size and cost of government. But, it is government support for investigation and intervention that has gotten us to where we are living a better  life. Tearing down government support for a good life for all citizens has to be resisted

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Once Again, Ulysses Grant

Before I read this book, I did not know much about General Grant because he was on the wrong side. So was my great grandfather, but his reason was that he was a German immigrant sometime in the later years of the War Between the States. In any event, I finished the book, Grant, by Ron Chernow and found Grant not only to be a great general, but also to be one of our best presidents.

He was elected president in 1868. In the defeated South, the first problem he dealt with was the action of many whites to put freed blacks in their “place”. Grant fought to give the former slave population equal rights in political life, and got three civil rights acts through Congressional action. He got the Ku Klux Klan declared illegal through Congress and used the army and civilian agents to enforce these laws. Unfortunately, discrimination and violence against black Americans continued in the South.

He moved on to get a civil service commission created. No longer would civil service employees have to fork over part of their salary to political parties to get and keep their jobs. While there were other struggles over civil service reform, Congressmen were unwilling to hand over to a civil service commission their ability to make appointments to federal jobs. Grant was the first president to get the federal government involved in putting unusual parts of land under federal control. (Republicans should take notice that their man began the federal park system.)

This is not the extent of his efforts to make the federal government work for the people, but it does demonstrate his belief that he was president of all the people. As industrialization changed, the federal government was required to manage this change in support of all the people. He tackled this problem just as he did when facing the Confederates.

This is but a small portion of the activities facing him as President. But, what I have come to see is Grant leading us to develop interaction between economics (industrialism) and government. I have also come to see him as one of our most powerful and effective national leaders.

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