Opinion

Wineke: Let's start by putting first things first

Three million American citizens living in Puerto Rico are without electric power and many are without clean drinking water, access to medical care or most of the other standard attributes of civilized society.

I'm not sure that President Donald Trump really deserves the criticism he is receiving because it is taking disaster specialists longer to resolve the island's problems than anyone would like.

Though, when he keeps saying his administration deserves an “A+” for its efforts when those efforts clearly are not sufficient to the crisis, he does lead with his chin. They might be doing their best, but their best is not good enough.

What I do fault the president for, however, is that stupid tax cut proposal he and his colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives are now touting. And what I do fault him for is that stupid controversy over the National Football League and the national anthem.

This is a time of major crisis for millions of our citizens and, by extension; this is a time of major crisis for the entire country.

Natural disasters have devastated not only Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands, but also large portions of Texas and Florida. Residents there may have access to shelter, food and water but their homes and places of business are gone.

We, as a nation, need to focus on what's important. We also need to focus on what's coming down the road.

The effects of global climate change are no longer a matter of possibility, they are a matter of contemporary reality. We may debate policies to minimize those dangers in the future, but we also have to deal with their impact here and now.

Dealing with those changes is going to take money, massive amounts of money.

It's not just a matter of rebuilding streets and airports. It's a matter of American citizens who no longer have homes but who no longer have jobs and who, quite sensibly, might decide to exercise their constitutional rights and move to the mainland.

We like to argue about how many foreign refugees we will admit to our shores. We might want to start worrying about millions of our own citizens who need to start over.

This is not the time to be diverting our attention to tax plans that won't be adopted, health care repeals that have failed repeatedly, and especially not to organized football.

This is a time for our president and our Congress to recognize a crisis and to sit down together and find ways to meet the challenges it presents.


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