EDITORIAL: Antidote for ignorance

NEWS OF THE NEW CORONAVIRUS is scary enough, even though no cases have appeared yet in this region. But we are already seeing another contagion related to the illness: online misinformation and disinformation about the virus.

Misinformation is spreading fast through search and social media. It doesn’t target us specifically, but you don’t have to search long (less than 30 seconds on Google) to find a “Natural Remedy” for a viral infection that does not yet have any known cure. What we face is a simultaneous outbreak of a new sickness coupled with the old epidemic of ignorance. Fortunately, we have tools to counteract ignorance if we agree to support them.

The remedy requires both access to accurate, understandable information as well as a willingness to learn. That second part presents the bigger challenge. Conspiracy theories and phony remedies naturally command our attention. Who doesn’t want easy answers? But let’s assume people do want to know more. When that’s the case where should we turn if we’re not scientists? Read more…

EDITORIAL: The ‘aliens’ among us

IMMIGRATION IS A PROBLEM for states on the border, like Texas and California, which is to say, that other border that connects us with Mexico and, in effect, Central America, too. Our border is the one a few hours north of here. Why would Canadians want to leave their country for ours?

So you can understand why the news that migrants, most likely from the southern border, were going to be housed and cared for in the Town of Canaan drew a crowd of local residents to Town Hall last week. People wanted to hear what’s going on.

They learned that the federal Department of Health and Human Services is working with the Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth, which straddles Route 22 at the intersection with Queechy Lake Drive. The center will temporarily house migrants labeled by the federal government as “Unaccompanied Alien Children.” Read more…

EDITORIAL: 30% is not enough

BLAME THE DELAYED VOTE count for distracting attention from the real story of the Election of 2019. The shaky introduction of early voting was newsworthy, but that told us about the mechanics of the democratic process, not what the results reveal about the future.

That’s changed over the last couple of weeks as a picture emerged of who was taking the oath of office. Start with the fact that seven women are now supervisors in Columbia County. If that’s not a record, it’s got to be close.

Do you recall ever answering a test question from kindergarten through 12th grade that asked how local government functions? If not, here’s some of what you missed. This county has 18 towns and one city. The voters in each town and in each of the five wards of the City of Hudson elect a supervisor. In the towns, supervisors chair their Town Boards and act as general administrators. Read more…

EDITORIAL: This is not progress

BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS (after Iran appeared to be “standing down”) the latest conflict in the Middle East might look like it’s cooling down. Don’t count on it.

Global media tell us what did or didn’t happen in Iraq, Iran and a wider geography of mayhem. As readers, viewers and listeners we rely on them to piece together some sort of narrative about how this latest confrontation is unfolding. For more than that, a little history might help.

History tells us that the assassination of a high-ranking official in a remote and unstable part of the world can trigger wars of previously unimaginable scale and ferocity. Think of World War I. Other conflicts involving this nation are different. For example, the U.S. government had scant evidence to hold Spain responsible for sinking one of our battleships, but that pretext ushered in our empire in the Caribbean and the Philippines. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Read all about it

NEWSPAPERS LIVE IN THE PAST. Something happened. We reported it. We stray sometimes into the present tense as a way to make a news story sound livelier. But it’s still information reassembled after the fact, with names, dates and sources. Beware the “news” that assures you of what lies ahead. That’s what you get from faith, luck, good judgment and con artists. It’s not news.

So with that disclaimer in mind, step right this way for a few thoughts about stories we expect to follow in 2020.

• The chatter from Albany is that the state faces a deficit of roughly $6 billion in the budget due April 1. That’s a lot of money even in New York State and it’s likely that education funding will be targeted for cuts. The state’s 2% cap on tax levies will make it hard for school districts to do anything but cut staff and programs. But this is an election year for the entire state legislature, and here in Columbia County each state lawmaker represents multiple school districts. Read more…