Your Summer Assignment


Schools at all levels try to project themselves into July and August by giving students reading assignments over the vacation months. Why shouldn’t we adults also be asked to do some serious thinking during this same period of relative leisure? Here’s a starter list of questions worth pondering, discussing – even debating. Honor system – There’ll be no exam come September.
• Are we just going to throw in the towel on climate change, await the inevitable consequences, try to adjust and avert major destabilization?
• Can we somehow arrange matters so that most of the 80% of us can share in the comforts and security enjoyed by the top 20% of Americans?
• Are we capable of restoring the roadways, bridges, tunnels, airports, water systems, i.e. the basic physical infrastructure of our society?
• Can we devise a way to finance our health care system that contains costs and provides proper care for most everyone, or are our current arrangements so riddled with entrenched players and inflexible structures so that they can neither be reformed or replaced?
• Can we devise immigration regulations that sensibly resolve our undocumented population, bolster our economy, while maintaining America’s reputation as a beacon for those seeking to improve their condition and escape oppression? Is this too much to ask or expect?
• How should we respond to the fact that our economy can get along rather well with fewer workers and, even when jobs are created, most do not pay well?
• “Big money” is restricting and distorting efforts to reform our political system and advance social justice for the majority of Americans. Will we just have to suck it up and acknowledge that money will always “talk?”
• Can we get comfortable with a shrinking white majority? Can the race issue ever recede and become an inconsequential factor in our society?
• Will gender struggles continue on indefinitely? Will men ever relinquish their privileged status?
• Are we destined to continue shooting and killing each other at ever higher levels?
• Will increasingly sophisticated data technology turn us all into “open books?”
• Has Donald Trump so defied existing arrangements and violated long-standing norms and traditions to the point that they can no longer be restored?

Weighty issues all (as are so many others not mentioned here). Have a “go at” at least some of them: mindless summers won’t get us anywhere. But, also, don’t neglect getting out to enjoy these “lazy days.”

Richard Skolnik

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