Speaking of America! December 21-2018

In the words of the great man of letters and philosopher, George Santayana, who sagely said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it!” It seems that each generation must pay the price when they fail to learn the hard lessons of reality.

I am always amazed by the folks who pine for the “good old days!” What were those legendary “good old days?” Was it the prosperity after WWI after 320,000 casualties and 116,000 dead which led to the Roaring 20’s which brought on the Great Depression that lasted from 1929 to the onset of WWII?  Or, maybe it was World War II, where America got off lightly, with only 1 million casualties and over 400,000, killed! Again, this time, the so-called civilized world was left prostrate and America could pick up the pieces, and be on top of the proverbial food chain for the next twenty years, when we got ourselves into another war. But, this time the next the next generation of draftees weren’t so happy fighting in some far off Asian war. At the same time, 20 million Blacks got tired of discrimination in every element of American life, women got fed up having unwanted pregnancies, being beaten by their loutish husbands and Gays were sick of being bashed at every opportunity. Were they any less human than the rest of us?

But, what have we learned since those halcyon days of the social revolution that was the late 1960’s? We learned that there was abuse of countless youngsters done by religious leaders we trusted. Was that abuse new? Hardly! It had been going on for countless years, but everyone victim was afraid to speak out. What did we learn about sexual harassment and abuse? We certainly didn’t learn that this was a new phenomenon. In fact, the proverbial casting couch went back as far as one could remember. But, was that only limited to Hollywood and Broadway? Hardly! In fact, sexual harassment, had been happening in offices and school rooms all over the country for generations. Has anyone ever considered the abuse of Native Americans in the era of the reservations and the Indian Schools, long after the closing of the frontier in 1890! Has anyone bothered to contemplate the abuse of the mentally ill and the elderly in the nursing homes, also known as the Medicaid Mills. Those certainly weren’t the good old days for millions!

But, what about the lives of immigrants who flocked here from the 1880’s until right after WWI. How were they treated? Has this generation read about the squalor of tenement life in the mean streets of the immigrant ghettoes? Has anyone really contemplated how the gangs (Irish, Italian and Jewish) in these ghettoes lived off and abused these folks through violence, extortion, protection, racketeering and terror! Was it any different than the KKK and the Night Riders of the South, who terrorized millions of Blacks for almost 100 years, resulting in over 2000 lynchings and countless other murders from 1865 to 1950.  Has anyone bothered to read about the work of the Muckrakers; Ida Tarbell, Upton Sinclair, Lincoln Steffens, Jacob Riis, or many others who exposed the malfeasance and criminality of the meat packing industry, the snake oil salesmen, the patent medicine frauds, the people who padded the Pure Food and Drug Acts, and demanded clean air and water? By the way, we had pollution (smog) in most cities of the United States up until the late 1960s and the amount of people who suffered from asthma, congestive lung disease as in emphysema and cancer, were in the millions.

By the way, we had a Civil War, because one half of the country rebelled over their right to enslave people. That war cost over 700,000 lives and destroyed the South for more than a generation. In today’s numbers, that would be equivalent to 7 million dead. But, how about crime in America! We have more people in jail in the United States than all the countries in the world, except China, and aside from that huge number of 2 million, there are four times as many on parole. Let’s understand these folks aren’t all minorities. In Florida, we have 1.6 million former felons, who do not have the right to vote. We just passed a referendum, giving them that right. Of that number only 24% are Black. By the way, though 64% voted to allow these folks to vote, the new Republican governor wants no part of the will of the people!

As for drugs and alcohol abuse, they have been around forever and the amount of deaths from those abuses were prevalent and monstrous throughout our history. Let us not forget the demands of the Anti-Saloon League, resulting in Prohibition, which failed miserably.

Without belaboring the point, we have had over 33,000 gun deaths, each and every, year for decades. In comparison, Australia with 1/14th of our population had 236 gun deaths in 2013. In comparison, with our 32,000 we had 135 times the amount of gun-related killings! The differential in Western Europe are pretty close to the same.

I could go on and on, but, who wants a regurgitation of our sordid history?

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About admin

A lifelong New Yorker, who now lives full-time in Palm Beach County, Richard was raised in Mount Vernon, New York and he was educated in the Mount Vernon public schools He graduated from Boston University with a BA in American History. After spending a year on Wall Street as a research analyst with Bache & Co., he joined a manufacturing and importing firm, where over the next twenty-five years he rose to the position of chief operating officer. After the sale of that business, Richard entered into the financial services field with Metropolitan Life and is a Registered Representative, who has been associated with Acorn Financial Services which is affiliated with John Hancock Life Insurance Company of Boston, Ma. Today, he is a retired broker who had specialized in long-term care insurance and financial planning. One of Richard’s recent activities was to advise and encourage communities to seek ways to incorporate “sustainability and resiliency” into their future infrastructure planning. After a lifetime in politics, with many years working as a district leader, which involved party organizational work, campaign chair activity and numerous other political tasks, Richard has been involved with numerous civic and social causes. In recent years, Richard served in 2005 as the campaign coordinator of the Re-Elect Paul Feiner Campaign in Greenburgh, NY and he again chaired Supervisor Feiner’s successful landslide victory in 2007. Over the next few years, he advised a number of political candidates. He has served as an appointed Deputy Supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh, with responsibilities regarding the town’s “liaison program.” He was a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board of the Town of Greenburgh, NY. Richard has lectured on FDR, The New Deal and 20th century American history in the Mount Vernon schools, at the Westchester Council of Social Studies annual conference in White Plains, and at many senior citizen groups, which include appearances at the Old Guard of White Plains, the Rotary Clubs of Elmsford and White Plains, and various synagogue groups around Westchester. In the winter of 2006 Richard was the leader of the VOCAL forum, sponsored by the Westchester County Office of Aging, which addresses the concerns of Westchester County’s Intergenerational Advocacy Educational Speak-out forums for senior citizens. Richard has given lectures for the Active Retirement Project, which is co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Center on the Hudson, the Greenburgh Hebrew Center, and other groups around Westchester County. Richard also is the founder and Chairperson of the Jon Breen Memorial Fund, that judges and grants annual prizes to students at Mount Vernon High School who submit essays on public policy themes. He also sponsors the Henry M. Littlefield History Prize for the leading MVHS history student. Richard serves on the Student College Scholarship Committee of Mount Vernon High School. In past years Richard chaired and moderated the Jon Breen Fund Award’s cablecast program with the Mayor and local and school officials. Richard has been a member of Blythedale Children’s Hospital’s Planned Giving Professional Advisory Board, and was a founding member of the committee to re-new the FDR Birthday Balls of the 1930’s and 1940’s with the March of Dimes’ effort to eliminate birth defects. Their renewal dinner was held at Hyde Park on January 30, 2003. Richard is currently an active contributor to the Roosevelt Institute, which is involved in many pursuits which included the opening of the Henry A. Wallace Center at Hyde Park, and the Eleanor Roosevelt – Val-Kill Foundation. In 2007, he proposed to the City of Mount Vernon an effort to develop an arts, educational, and cultural center as part of a downtown re-development effort. Richard was a team partner with the Infrastructure & Energy Solutions Group. IEFG which has developed innovative strategies for the 21st Century. Richard hosted a weekly program on WVOX-1460 AM radio, called “The Advocates,” which was concerned with “public policy” issues. The show, which was aired from 2007 until May 15, 2013, has had amongst its guests; Representative Charles Rangel, Chairperson of the House Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, along with hundreds of others. All the 300 shows are archived at http://advocates-wvox.com. Richard currently gives lectures on Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, FDR and the Jewish Community, The New Deal, FDR and Douglas MacArthur, 20th Century American Foreign Policy Resulting in Conflict, and Israel’s Right to Exist. Richard lives in Boynton Beach, Fl, with his wife Linda of 44 years. They have two married children. Their daughter Dana is a Rutgers College graduate, with a MS from Boston University, and is the Assistant Director of Recruitment at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Their son Jon is an electrical engineering graduate of Princeton University and a senior software architect at NY/Mellon Bank in NYC. Richard J. Garfunkel rjg727@comcast.net Recent Appearances: KTI Synagogue, Rye Brook, NY- Long Term Care & Estate Conservation- Anshe Shalom Synagogue, New Rochelle, NY- Long Term Care- American Legion Post, Valhalla, NY- Long Term Care and Asset Protection- Doyle Senior Ctr, New Rochelle, NY-Long Term Care and Asset Protection- AME Methodist Ministers, New Rochelle, NY, LTC and Charitable Giving- Profession Women in Construction, Elmsford, NY, LTC and Business Benefits- Kol Ami Synagogue- White Plains, NY, Long Term Care and Disability - Beth El Men's Club-New Rochelle, NY-Long Term Care-Is it Necessary- Greater NY Dental Meeting Javits Ctr, NY, NY- LTC and Disability- IBEW Local #3 , White Plains, NY, Long Term Care and Asset Protection, Health Fair -Bethel Synagogue, New Rochelle, NY-LTC and Disability, Heath Fair- Riverdale Mens Club CSAIR- Riverdale, NY- LTC- Life Weight Watchers of Westchester and the Bronx-LTC and Tax Implications Sunrise Assisted Living of Fleetwood, Mount Vernon, NY-LTC Sprain Brook Manor of Scarsdale-LTC- November 15, 2001 Sunrise Assisted Living of Stamford, Connecticut, February 2002 Kol Ami Synagogue, White Plains, NY, February, 2002 The Old Guard Society of White Plains, NY, April, 2002 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY August, 2002 Kol Ami Synagogue, White Plains, NY, October, 2002 JCC of Scarsdale, Scarsdale, NY, November, 2002 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY, January, 2003 The Rotary Club of White Plains, NY January, 2003 The Westchester Meadows, Valhalla, NY April, 2003 Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, NY January, 2004 Mount Vernon High School, Mount Vernon, NY March 2004 Kol Ami/JCC of White Plains, NY November, 2004 The Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, January 2005 The Sunrise of Fleetwood, Mount Vernon, April, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, November, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, December, 2005 The Woodlands of Ardsley, assisted living, January, 2005 Rotary Club of Elmsford, April, 2006 Kiwanis Club of Yonkers, June, 2006 Greenburgh Jewish Center, November, 2006 Temple Kol Ami, White Plains, February, 2007 Hebrew Institute, White Plains, March, 2007 Temple Kol Ami, White Plains, NY, April, 2007 Westchester Meadows. Valhalla, November, 2007 Hebrew Institute. White Plains, November, 2007 Art Zuckerman Radio Show- January, 2008 JCC of the Hudson, Tarrytown, February, 2008 Matt O’Shaughnessy Radio Show, March, 2008 WVOX –Election Night Coverage, November, 2008 WVOX – Inaugural Coverage, January 20, 2009 The Advocates-host of the WVOX Radio Show, 2007- 2010 Rotary Club of Pleasantville, February, 2009 Hebrew Institute of White Plains, May, 2009 JCC Hudson, Tarrytown, December, 2009-10-11-12 Brandeis Club, Yonkers, March 25, 2010

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