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DICK BAYNTON: Who is Uncle Sam?

Dick Baynton

The colloquial name ‘Uncle Sam’ is obviously taken from the first initials of ‘United States.’ However when many people think of Uncle Sam they are considering the three branches of federal government; Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches including the leaders and all staff members. Uncle Sam is looked upon as a metaphor or ‘catch-all’ for national safety and security.

We often look to Uncle Sam as the solution for all problems. Let’s start with shootings that result in injury and death such as Columbine HS (CO/1999/13 deaths), Virginia Tech (VA/2007/32 deaths), Sandy Hook Elementary (CT/2012/28 deaths) and Orlando Night Club (FL/2016/49 deaths).

The ongoing urban death count in our country is hellish; for example year-to-date 2019 homicides in Chicago number 380 and other cities such as Baltimore, St. Louis and Detroit are woefully high. Although the death tolls in urban areas receive scant inside page attention, mass shootings attract front page headlines. Immediately following these tragic events there are calls by individuals, organizations and political candidates to do something about guns in our Congress (Uncle Sam).

You may have heard that there are 11 states that now approve of marijuana sales and purchases and general use as ‘recreation.’ There are 33 states that allow the use of ‘cannabis’ for medicinal purposes.  Marijuana is considered a dangerous illegal drug by federal law. The dilemma is that in June of this year, the Democratic House of Representatives passed legislation blocking any effort by the DOJ to prevent states from allowing recreational use, cultivation and sales of marijuana and cannabis.

A recent fad called ‘vaping’ is growing rapidly and in many cases is considered a replacement for smoking. The ‘Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’ says that 530 people in 38 states and one territory have developed lung-related illnesses and eight people have died from use of E-cigarettes/vaping.

Federal government spent $4.6 billion in 2018 to fight the opioid crisis that took the lives of 42,000 U.S. residents in 2016. Federal government spent $27.57 billion to fight drugs in 2018 but the lost time by workers, illness, drug treatments and associated losses cost billions of dollars more.

Common sense tells us that we are losing the war on drugs. Equations have two sides and here they are in the USA realm: We are a severely divided nation for all the world to see on the one hand and on the other hand we have forgone our values delivered by our parents, our religious leaders, our teachers, our kinfolk. In many cases we have exchanged textbooks and pencils for guns and knives, our family structures are deteriorating leaving children without parents to emulate and we have switched our loyalty from our Constitution to avarice, egotism, wealth and power.

We ignore the fact that our nation has borders; we are a ‘sovereign’ nation yet we shower illegal entrants with benefits provided by the efforts of hard-working citizens. The original trail-blazer concept was that our citizens would be imbued with self-determination, loyalty to our Constitution, our flag and our fellow citizens.

We are a nation of laws and liberty but we are also a nation of individual achievement and concern. It is time now for each of us to step in when our 14-year-old niece or daughter becomes pregnant, when a son or neighbor boy acquires a firearm by theft or barter, when there is a change in attitude of a person who might be exploring the drug culture or becoming hooked on oxycodone (opioid) or when a youngster spends endless hours on their electronic device instead of studying.

Uncle Sam has no access to our bedrooms, kitchens or bathrooms. We, as parents, kinfolk and neighbors must stop wringing our hands and coalesce around those individuals whose mushy brains are making bad choices, and contact police, local healthcare professionals, pastors and reach out.

It is time for Uncle Sam to stop spending billions of dollars on drug interdiction, treatment and incarceration as we seize the reins of control; government creates laws, but we, as individuals create our culture of ‘pursuit of happiness’ as stated in The Declaration of Independence. The time is now, the actions are paramount.

Recent trends point toward free everything except freedom and liberty. Uncle Sam must work for us, not the other way around.

Dick Baynton

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