Dave Richards' Weekly Column in The Woonsocket Call





Dave Richards for November 18th.

--Is everyone done panicking about Ebola yet? No. I don’t suppose they are. Yes, Ebola is serious. But it is also just another in a long line of subjects which have become the focus of undue public hysteria over the years.

Remember S.A.R.S.? It was “going to get us all” a while back. Now, few people can even spell it. Swine flu? H1N1? The Y2K bug? And before that it was a communist on every corner, the comet Kahoutek threatening earth, and people being hit by the SkyLab satellite when it fell out of orbit.

Yes, it seems that if we don’t have a real danger to face humans will make one up. I don’t know why. And I don’t subscribe to it.

Seemingly to fan the flames of this hysteria, United States officials have added yet another West African nation to the list of nations from which travelers will be especially scrutinized when they arrive here. Mali is the new nation. They join visitors from the countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone which are undergoing heightened screening at five major U. S. airports.

I have a friend who this week is on a cruise vacation in the sunny Caribbean. He told me the cruise line queried him if he’d been to any of the countries on the list in the last month before they’d let him on the boat. He just shook his head and answered politely. But he told me the cruise lines would do better to fight the battle, not against Ebola, but against norovirus. Just as my friend was boarding his ship in Florida came news from California of a cruise ship which returned with 172 very sick passengers suffering stomach troubles blamed on norovirus.

You may say, “well, if the government is worried about Ebola, I should be, too.” I don’t see it that way. I think it is the other way around. Government officials will worry about what you are worried about. Why do they do this? Well, a quick answer is that is the government of the United States is of the people and by the people. So it will naturally be concerned about whatever people are concerned about because they are us. We tell our government what to be concerned about. And for better or for worse, they react to us.

All I can say to the Ebola scare is to quote my late friend Salty Brine. “Brush Your Teeth and Say Your Prayers.” That just about covers it.

--We are preparing for the annual Milk Fund appeal here at the radio station. Our volunteers are phoning area businesses and professionals soliciting donations and gift certificates which we’ll auction off daily on the air in December. A number of Milk Fund events are already scheduled and are posted on our website. We hope this year, as in the past, you will remember The Milk Fund.

--Progress continues slowly and surely in the government takeover of the Internet in our country. In fact, so much progress has been made that President Obama has openly spoken of his support for the next phase of the takeover. Mr. Obama says he thinks Internet Service Providers should be regulated like public utilities to prevent them from cutting back Internet service to companies or groups that they either don’t like or that don’t pay enough money to them.

Internet Service Providers were never allowed to do this before. But a recent turn of events in our government removed those regulations which prevented it and protected us. Congress is debating putting those regulations back in. They’re calling it Net Neutrality. Everybody’s got to have a snappy name for their cause, you know. But the fact is what they are now calling “Net Neutrality” was the way it always had been. The government caused this threat by allowing the original regulations to go away. Now they’re going to come to our rescue and regulate those who are no longer regulated in a very special way, putting all the power in the hands of…………the government.

Ugh.

--I received some rather negative comments on my words in these pages last week. I was criticized for not ‘naming names’ of city councilors and also for suggesting our Woonsocket city council meetings could be a bit shorter. I appreciate these comments, even if I don’t agree with them. And I’m bringing them up here this week in case some of you reading this had the same thoughts but didn’t express them to me. I will tell you what I told those who did.

The people I talked about last week, our city council, don’t need more confrontation in their lives. They get enough of it. I don’t need more drama in my life. I have enough of it. I believe smart people can discuss issues as issues without getting rude, aggressive, or personal. This was a major point of my comments last week. I also think the people we have elected are smart people.

So it comes down to Civics 101. If I see something I think can be improved in the way our government works, it is my duty to bring it up for discussion. It is not my duty to pass judgment on people or confront them or tell them they are awful or even to tell them in detail what to do about it. It is their duty to receive my comments and decide what, if anything, to do about them. If they agree with me, they will prescribe the course of action, not me. That is their job. If they disagree with me, they will take my comments under advisement and do little more. I can live with that, either way. I mean, who says I’m right all the time? Not me. I’m just giving my opinions.

--That's what I think. What do you think? Comments to dave@onworldwide.com or mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332. Thanks for reading.

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