Wishes for a happy — and prosperous — new year
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, January 7, 2016


Happy New Year. It’s so nice to have a greeting that isn’t controversial, like Merry Christmas/happy holiday. Except of course, for those who think those of us who are happy should be busy deploring “the globalization of indifference” to the poor, refugees and other victims of “throw-away culture.” I am quoting Pope Francis here.

Now I’ll quote Jesus, from Mark 14, as this woman anointed him with precious oils, to the indignation of some of his disciples, who thought the oils should have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus said, and I quote from the King James Bible, “Let her alone; why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will, ye may do them good.”

In case anyone doesn’t know about the globalized misery, just follow the news about ongoing war in the Middle East, connected to news about the misery of refugees, which will get worse as overwhelmed European countries begin to close their borders: women refugees being raped, even enslaved by the refugee males they travel with; radical Muslim terrorists beheading Christians; Burundi in Africa on the verge of a civil war that some fear could become a genocide like Rwanda; women and gays mistreated, even killed in some Muslim countries; women assaulted in supposedly modernized India. This along with the usual extreme poverty, ongoing hunger, disease…

As Jesus asked, when we can, we should do them good: America does more good than any other country in the history of the world, both as a generous nation and with individuals who send donations, even go to danger spots as volunteers, though I wouldn’t recommend it. This was the point of America: Create a country where people can be happy in each new year.

Here’s a resolution for us: Don’t let any religious or political leader make us feel guilty about our good fortune, to have had ancestors who got out of those hellholes and found us a free country in which to live.

I’m not one of those who make fun of New Year’s resolutions, not that I’ve ever kept one. Mine this year was to take “the news” with equanimity, not get angry ... Wait! Watching the news Monday night on PBS, feature story about veterans who, because of war injuries, cannot father children. In order to create a normal life after serving their country, they and their wives are using in-vitro fertilization, which is very expensive, especially when the process has to be repeated several times before it takes.

A pending bill to cover this procedure has not been passed by Congress: There seems to be two reasons. One, the cost is too much. Two, there is resistance from anti-abortion groups, which oppose in-vitro fertilization because when too many fertilized eggs are created, some are destroyed.

OK, resolution fails, fourth day. Is my Congressman Seth Moulton and/or his staff reading this column? Though I didn’t vote for him, I liked the idea of having a veteran who pledged to make it a priority to address the problems at the Veterans Administration.

Yes, the federal budget, and the national debt, is too large. However, the main reason we have a federal government is national defense, which certainly should include taking care of our veterans when they return injured from war. So drop some welfare programs for able-bodied non-veterans and pay for the in-vitro programs.

Veterans who agree with the anti-abortion groups don’t have to participate; they could be helped to adopt some of those poor, “throw-away” children who have been abused, abandoned or orphaned. But why should other veterans have their happiness held hostage to radicals in the abortion lobby? Please fix this, Congressman Moulton.

Deep breath, back to resolution, might be easier with commonwealth news. The Massachusetts House has passed the bill to outlaw hand-held phones; the Senate is expected to debate it later this month. As a libertarian who believes both in personal freedom and personal responsibility, I ask: Could we please use some common sense for a change? Two hands, one brain: focus on driving, use one hand to steer the car, the other to flick your turn signal which seems to have become a lost art.

Considering the concentration it takes many of us to hold a phone conversation, I’d outlaw all but emergency phone calls while driving, but one step at a time. Of course the one-step, slippery slope argument is used on other issues. This week President Obama is once again bypassing Congress to pass a law/regulation on “gun control,” i.e., closing the gun show loophole and requiring more background checks.

This entry-level gun control has already been accomplished by many states, including Massachusetts; has the president ever read the Constitution, not just the Second Amendment but the Tenth about states’ rights? Not to mention the separation of powers? Do we even need Congress as long as we have a self-imposed monarch? Who would fix the VA? Not an Obama priority, I’m sure, deploring as he does our country’s military culture.

Not complaining, though; every time the federal government goes after guns, more Americans run out and buy them, while stocking up on ammunition. One thing I know: the Second Amendment will never be repealed. Americans won’t be defenseless as are the people in some of those other countries, with strict gun control, when terrorists show up, or the government goes bad.

The government also goes stupid -- the best movie so far this year, “The Big Short,” playing now at the Liberty Tree Mall. You may need to have followed the 2007-08 almost-worldwide economic meltdown to really appreciate it. I laughed out loud at the absurdity of what happened; one friend hated it because he “couldn’t follow the plot.”

Of course the best movie of 2015, “Spotlight,” is still available. “Downton Abbey” is back on public television; I sent an appreciation check. Also sent end-of-year checks to various charities, without prompting from the pope. Paid for calendars, one from Boys Town, one from Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Followed Salem News request to support the Salvation Army and the USO. Usual checks to Northeast Animal Shelter and Animal Rescue League of Boston; I do appreciate Pope Francis’ choosing the name of the patron saint of animals.

See, I’m not indifferent to suffering; I just express gratitude for my good fortune first. Happy, happy New Year.

Barbara Anderson of Marblehead is a weekly columnist for the Salem News and Eagle-Tribune Publishing Company.

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton's response

Barbara's reply to Congressman Moulton

The Salem News
Saturday, January 9, 2016

Columnist's call for IVF for vets attracts congressional support
By Ethan Forman

MARBLEHEAD — They may not agree on everything, but Salem Congressman Seth Moulton and anti-tax crusader Barbara Anderson see eye-to-eye when it comes to having the Department of Veterans Affairs pay for expensive in vitro fertilization (IVF) for veterans wounded in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan to help them start new families.

A bill to do just that has been stuck in Congress due to concerns about cost and opposition from pro-life advocates to the treatments.

Anderson wrote a column on Thursday, Jan. 7, calling on Congress to pass a bill allowing the VA to pay for IVF treatments for wounded veterans.

"Is my Congressman Seth Moulton and/or his staff reading this column," wrote Anderson, who, while she didn't vote for Moulton, nevertheless likes that he has made it his priority to focus on veterans' care in Congress.

Anderson's column indeed caught the eye of Moulton, a Marine Corps veteran who served four tours in Iraq.

"I read your column, B.A., and am now a co-sponsor of a bill to provide our wounded warriors access to IVF," Moulton, a native of Marblehead, replied via his Twitter account on Friday. He also included a link to Anderson's column that appeared in The Salem News.

"It's a great issue," Moulton said in an interview. "It's a great point. I am glad she raised it."

While he does not know anyone personally seeking IVF treatments, Moulton said, he knows veterans who lost legs or suffered lower extremity injuries in Iraq.

"I am delighted," said Anderson, who has yet to take to Twitter. "I would respond with a tweet thanking him."

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

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