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America’s Political Landscape Stalled by Public Apathy

In Business, Economy, Jobs, Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics, State News, Uncategorized on February 21, 2012 at 10:42 am

By Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines


When considering the country’s currents political and economic state a great deal hinges on some pretty ignorant, uninformed and out of touch people – the American voters. People sit and blame the president, congress and their neighbor’s dog for just about everything that’s wrong with our country, but the best place to start looking for problems is in the mirror. After all, it’s the public who voted them in and only the voters can change the political landscape.

There is an unfortunate tendency in our country (and it’s growing) to want someone else to solve our problems for us. I’ve written countless times on the subject of self-accountability but people still want bailouts and tea parties to make the world right. And if you’re unhappy with what’s going on, but refuse to vote or choose to ignore the facts about candidates and issues, your problems are your own making.

When considering election issues or choosing a candidate, we tend to go with our heart, not our head. I realize that touchy and deeply personal issues like abortion, religious freedom and marital regulation are important to some people but I don’t believe they should be the leading factor that determines which lever to pull on Election Day.

Moral issues, while significant, affect a smaller percentage of the population at any given time than would the economy, civil rights or tax concerns. And, despite White House reports to the contrary, we’re still in the midst of continuing economic troubles and we would be better to first focus on potential solutions for those tribulations.

For example, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels recently signed the first right-to-work law enacted in the area known as the Rust Belt, a stronghold for union-represented work forces. The new law makes it illegal to force employees to join a union or pay union dues. Twenty-two other states have similar laws already on the books – andOhiomay be next.

The concept is an effort to make it easier to get a job and for companies to be able to afford to pay workers instead of being strong-armed by over-reaching unions. Some see it as an attack on unions and an attempt to diminish wages and benefits.

Whatever your point of view on the subject, right-to-work legislation is one of those issues that can affect a great number of people and in more ways than people realize at first. The trickle-down, economic and political repercussions from laws like this can impact entire communities, even the whole state.

At the water cooler, discussions about these issues tend to segue into confrontational debates over ineffectual politicians. Ironically, with all that debate, most people never learn one thing more than they’ve already decided about a candidate right up to the time they walk into the polling place.

Many people are voting for the lesser of, “who cares,” but in fact, we need to be more choosey about who we are sending toWashington. While Democrats are stuck with President Obama in the fall, Republicans should have stood up to demand better options than mud-slinging hairdos like Romney and Santorum. In my amateur opinion, none of the Republican frontrunners carries a strong challenge to the president in November.

Each of us needs to make the effort to separate our feelings from the facts and do our best to approve issues and candidates that will best serve the greater good, not just those that pander to the Left or Right to get votes.

In the end, the fate of the country depends on the voters; those diligent, savvy individuals who, more times than not, make the choice in the voting booth based solely on a commercial they saw on television the night before. Could it really be that apathetic a decision for some people? I think it is and that’s why we can only blame ourselves.

Appreciating the Buckeye State

In Local News on February 8, 2012 at 12:53 pm

By Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines


Because of the different kinds of work I do, from writing to my involvement in film and television projects, I am asked regularly why I remain in Ohio, rather than moving to New York or the West Coast. The way people ask, it’s almost as if my skills aren’t worthy of recognition or my work’s value is somehow reduced because I choose to live where my family has its roots. In fact, if you pay attention to how Ohio is treated by Hollywood, one might think all we produce here are backwoods rednecks and serial killers. Of course, that perception couldn’t be further from the truth.

My diverse career has taken me from the stages of Las Vegas resorts to the decks of oil tankers. I’ve seen Hollywood Blvd. at midnight and worked alongside stars like Bonnie Hunt and Steve Harvey. I’ve watched as cranes placed the giant Oscar statues and workers rolled out the red carpets outside the Kodak Theatre the day before the Academy Awards. Suffice to say, I’ve seen a lot. But nothing has ever made me want to leave Ohio permanently.

I’ve known people living in the Buckeye State who can’t wait to get out of it, longing for the greener grass somewhere else; Florida, South Carolina, California. But they never seem to go. They just continue to complain. In fact, most of the people I know who behave this way have never really been anywhere else.

Most people forget what Ohio has produced since it was added to the Union in 1803. Even if we overlook the obvious contributions Ohioans have made, like powered flight, the advancement of minority rights, the first electric starter for automobiles and more U.S. Presidents than you can shake a buckeye branch at (8 in all), Ohio still has much to offer.

While we may not be surrounded by oceans or have perfect weather year around, Ohio offers some of the most amazing country anyone has ever seen. The name “Ohio” comes from an Iroquoian word meaning “great river” and that would certainly be hard to argue. The Ohio River connects the eastern states to the Missouri and finally the Mississippi, making it vital to trade and commerce for many regions. Other major waterways such as the Scioto and Great Miami Rivers also provided opportunities for growth to Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus.

Incidentally, everyone who just cleaned up after a Superbowl party owes a world of debt to the never-ending ingenuity of Ohioans. If not for Dayton engineer Ermal Cleon Fraze, your guests would still have been fighting over the can opener! On a sleepless night in 1959, “Ernie” Fraze invented the pop-top opener, now common on beer and soft drink cans.

With the Oscars coming up, it wouldn’t be right to ignore Ohio’s contribution to Hollywood, seeing as how that’s where most of the glib remarks about our fare state originate. Oscar winners Paul Newman and Halle Berry both called Ohio home, as did MASH’s Jamie Farr, comedian Drew Carey, film director Chris Columbus (Harry Potter),  Jerry Siegel and Joe Schumacher (the creators of Superman),  and Jack Warner, founder of Warner Brothers Studios. My father even grew up with country and western star Bobby Bare, not far from Roy Rogers’ childhood home near Portsmouth, on the banks of the Ohio River. The list is practically endless.

No place is perfect and, like anyone else, I have my share of complaints about how things are run here. In my experience there is far too much small-town, good old boy politics, and little doubt that the people we have sent to Columbus need to be reminded that they work for us, not the other way around, as seems to be the case lately.

But in spite of these shortcomings, Ohio is a good place to call home. We have weathered floods, tornados, a Great Depression and numerous recessions. But Ohioans are of America’s most creative, innovative and intelligent people and we always seem to come out on top. So the next time you start your car, pop open a soda or fly away to your favorite vacation spot, give a little nod to the Buckeye State, truly, the Heart of it All. 


Prayer Is Meaningless Without Action

In Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, Religion, Uncategorized on January 17, 2012 at 9:30 am

Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines


I have known people in my life who are very religious, counting on and crediting God for every positive thing in their lives. I’ve also known those who have no god at all – relying entirely on practical indecision to produce the same unpredictable outcome to a situation. While polar opposites in belief, these people are actually different sides of the same coin.

Anyone who depends on prayer or supernatural intervention to solve every problem is doomed to a lifetime of disappointment. The same can be said about someone who continues to make bad choices on their own, letting an indecisive nature create self-doubt and shadow individual common sense.

While it appears nowhere in the Bible, there is an old saying. God helps those who help themselves. The saying is attributed to Benjamin Franklin but probably originated much earlier in Ancient Greece.

Even though some Christians have criticized the expression as being contrary to the Bible’s message of God’s grace, but I disagree. Indeed, for the faithful, I think it may be the quintessential stepping stone to that enlightenment.

Some argue that this statement nullifies charity and faith. Instead, it implies a common sense approach to helping others and ourselves. After all, before we can help anyone else, we must stand on solid ground. Every structure needs a foundation.

The phrase also illustrates that each of us must take action to be successful in our endeavors or improve our situation. We can’t depend on others – God or otherwise – to solve our problems.

Of course there are times when we must make decisions for which we need guidance.  In those instances, a prayer, a talk with a friend or family member, or just quiet meditation can help. But, in the end, we must still act on our own accord to bring about the desired outcome. Dependence solely on prayer may do far more harm than good.

There is an anecdotal story about a very religious man who was seriously ill. Friends and neighbors begged him to seek medial help, but he just insisted he would pray and God would save him. After a few weeks the man finally died, never having seen a doctor. He is said to have had a simple case of pneumonia that could have been easily treated with antibiotics.

One interpretation of this story is that the man didn’t recognize God was, indeed, sending him help – in the form of friends and neighbors who were trying to get him to a doctor. So how do we know when and how to act? Good question, to which we all have to look inside ourselves for the answer.

Regardless of the denomination, to the devout, understanding what their god wants of them is rarely clear but all important. Even when the opportunities are placed in front of us, sometimes our own interpretations can get in the way of taking the action necessary to solve the problem for ourselves.

Even more confusing, however, is the realization that there are times when inaction is the best action to take. And, for some people, one of the hardest things to do is nothing. I’m one of those people.

As my mother’s Alzheimer’s disease exhibited more symptoms and complications, sometimes there was nothing to do but wait and watch. Nothing could have been more frustrating. Still, we all made the decision to wait and see what happened. But even in our day-to-day lives, sometimes we have to decide what to do, take whatever actions we can and then wait.

Whatever we are faced with, we each have decisions to make every day that determine the outcome of our lives. Should you have turned left instead of right, zigged instead of zagged.

There is no way to know for sure what to do. Whether we are guided by prayer, an inner voice or a Magic 8 Ball, how we act on those decisions is what really counts.


Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist based in Jamestown. More at http://www.deerinheadlines.com.