Helen Neswald

A happier solution to our national debt

SAXTONS RIVER- As concerned as I am, along with many citizens, with our enormous national debt, I would like to point out that its growth in the past decade is a direct result of President Trump lowering taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations, and not, as is sometimes claimed, of the American public's demands for a "nanny" culture that addresses social needs with expensive services.

Not only is the United States the world's only developed democracy that lacks any far-reaching, national support for individuals' basic needs, but the 2024 World Happiness Report ranks us significantly behind countries with free universal health care, adequate housing, access to free or low-cost higher education, adequate infrastructure maintenance, more humane penal codes, and smaller defense budgets.

Such broad services are expensive, of course, but our position as the world's wealthiest large country readily lends itself to relieving the hardships of medical debt, inadequate housing, unsafe streets, and inadequate preschool childcare, among other sources of our national unhappiness, while diminishing the obscene wealth gap our culture fosters.

It might even make some billionaires feel proud to contribute to the national welfare, and consequently make them happier people!...

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How about an oath of poverty for the U.S. Supreme Court?

Following is an open letter to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vermont): While the debate rages over whether the U.S. legislature has the right and responsibility to impose the code of ethics that binds other government institutions on Supreme Court appointees, I have come up with a simple solution that...

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Coming to peace with Rooster

‘I became sufficiently uncomfortable in his presence to begin slinking around the outskirts of the yard, behavior that took its toll on my well-being’

Early in my egg-laying-chicken venture, I was told that roosters were tetchy creatures, often incorrigibly aggressive and valuable to humans only for their reproductive roles - unless you were a fan of cockfights. Hens, on the other hand, were docile food producers, and their egg-laying activity did not require...

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Our world needs to foster the means to plan pregnancies

Elayne Clift's recent revelations about women charged with homicide for fetal deaths, whether intentional or unavoidable, spiked my longstanding outrage at efforts to block women's sovereignty over their pregnancies. I share her interpretation that such punitive measures are acts of political dominance over women by men, as well as by women who have aligned themselves with that posture. Championing the “right to life” of the unborn might gain some legitimacy in my eyes if it included supporting the rights of...

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Home stretch

Worrying about dying has something in common with worrying about the sun burning out in five billion years: there's no way we can influence either event, so worrying is an an obvious waste of time. Worrying about growing old, on the other hand, seems to support our doing a good job in coping with the unique challenges of end of life. We owe it to ourselves - or so most of us think - to take special pains to conserve...

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October song

When my mother had become so shrouded in the mists of Alzheimer's disease that she could no longer leave her assisted-living residence, Dad began to visit us without her. Their D.C. residence, near to my sisters' homes, had been chosen to serve Mom's advancing needs, but over the years it had become obvious that Dad, too, was declining. In order to be part of his life while he was still capable of sharing it, I brought him to our home...

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Birds of a feather

Although raising layer hens was not in my family tradition, nor even remotely related to my life experience, when I, at age 50, along with members of my family still living at home, moved to rural Vermont, it was a role I slipped into almost by chance and adopted with both trepidation and eagerness. I later heard through the grapevine that mature women were known to have a penchant for raising hens - a somewhat demeaning characterization - but that...

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The real deal

In the middle of my village's quarter-mile-long Main Street stands an imitation Catholic church - imitation, in my eyes, because its street-facing colored windows are plastic, and, to me, a secular Jew with a passion for architecture, the word “Catholic” has always meant buildings of impressive stability reaching upward toward a heaven whose light shines through their tributary windows. Narrow-minded and irreverent, perhaps, but I have known many Catholics in the course of my 75 years, and most of them...

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