Let’s think differently in 2012


Time again to fess up. Newspaper editors are less successful at predicting the future than telephone psychics. Best not to try.

Editorial powers of moral and political suasion are (mercifully) regarded as considerable by a sizable population of cherished readers who (happily) have forgotten the frequency with which they have carefully studied the editorialist’s adjurations, and, with a cheery sort of heedlessness, done other than was proposed. Or taken no action at all. (Bless them.)

The editorialist’s ability to discern trends in community behavior, to know the public mind, to unmask the scoundrelly public officials or exalt the diligent ones, may be sometimes regarded as uncanny, but it is really just luck. Luck and the happy fact that sitting to one side closely observing the activities of one’s neighbors is the newspaper’s job. (What a job.)

But editorialists are endowed with a constitutionally unlimited resilience. They will form and deliver opinions long after the digital revolution has overcome that resilience and cast us ink stained wretches on the landfill of history.

Like the unmentionable insects that will survive us all, the editorialist will endure even when the mysterious, merry, heedless forces of evolution have deleted the newspaper reading gene now (thankfully) persisting, though waning in humankind.

So that even today, at the end of 2011, at the innocent opening of 2012, you are welcome to a choice few observations, on topics of general and vital concern.

The roundabout will survive its legal challenges and the antipathy of some significant portion of the Island electorate, though its financing may not survive the delays that now seem likely. And, if it does get built, it is not likely to be either the traffic-freeing experience its supporters say it will be, or as damaging to the Vineyard aesthetic as its critics promise.

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission, which failed us all by not attending to the development of the roundabout early on as it ought to have, will redouble its efforts – now bent on getting right in amongst our family planning – to tell us how big our houses must be, and no bigger.

By the way, The Times remodeling project, announced in a news story on mvtimes.com this week, has been referred to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. Preliminary discussions with the powers suggest that the model that was displayed in the announcement will need to be significantly revised.

The Steamship Authority will continue to do less each year, as customer demand falls, and spend more – just because, on account of its legislative monopoly, it can. Consequently, fares must rise.

As to freedom, we will continue to relinquish it, in the names of so many greater goods, all of which dilute the vital human sap and then themselves give way. The politically pious, the preachers, the regulators, the sanctimonious, and the economic seers will enlarge their sway over the lives of us all – because we acquiesce.

Oh, and, finally, government. We waste so much time and so many resources, preserving the old ways of governing ourselves. The school system needs streamlining. It, not only the students it serves, needs to be tested. The county government needs pruning. No, it needs extermination. Or, if not, it needs something to do. Ah, but the list is a long one.

In 1862, Lincoln wrote, “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves.”

He was speaking to us, who are so enthralled with ourselves and our place.

Let’s rise to the occasion in 2012, and think anew.