- January 26, 2022
Cliches are useful, but sometimes contradict one another. For example, the former U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill coined the phrase, “all politics is local,” noting that a politician’s success is directly tied to their ability to understand and influence the issues of their own constituents. This is certainly true with our county government
Cliches are useful, but sometimes contradict one another. For example, the former U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill coined the phrase, “all politics is local,” noting that a politician’s success is directly tied to their ability to understand and influence the issues of their own constituents. This is certainly true with our county government officials, as they must wrestle daily with the local concerns of those they govern.
Yet, another cliche challenges this one, known as the “butterfly effect.” Explained in various ways, the most famous was in the film “Jurassic Park” where the scientist played by Jeff Goldblum explained this phenomenon, “when a butterfly flaps its wings in Peking, and you get rain in Central Park rather than sunshine.” What this implies is that the world is so interconnected; what happens on the other side of the world impacts us here in Lycoming County as well.
The COVID virus is a living, breathing monster that exemplifies this notion vividly. At the same time, as Tip O’Neill reminds us, these global impacts must be dealt with at the local level. So, what are some other things that we might expect to impact us that are floating around the globe as we speak?
In the United States, the opioid epidemic shows no signs of abating. As much concern as there is over the deaths due to COVID, the ongoing plague of drug deaths reached over 100,000 last year, a significant spike. And unlike the COVID pandemic, which hit elderly Americans the hardest, researchers found drug deaths have risen fastest among the young and middle-aged adults struggling with addiction.
Unfortunately, Lycoming County has been a crossroads for both drug and sex trafficking because of the intersection of the major highway routes, making it a convenient rendezvous for drug dealers from New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and others. Our local law enforcement officials have done a herculean job against the drug trade, but as long as the supplies continue unabated, our county will continue to suffer.
From a global perspective, the nations of Russia and China have not changed their spots, although their communist governments are not what they were like decades ago. However, some things do not change, and one of these is that these two monoliths never seem to be comfortable with their own boundaries — they always desire more. The rumblings going on with Russia threatening Ukraine and China’s growing encroachment toward Taiwan are in direct proportion to the weakness they perceive in the military strength of the United States that has traditionally supported these two countries.
If these encroachments become military engagements, the USA will respond in some way, although what that would look like is very difficult to figure out right now. But if it results in a military response, then it would not be surprising to see an uptick in the number of young men and women in Lycoming County enlisting, given that this area has traditionally been a very patriotic region. If this would happen, the result could also impact the local economy to some degree as this would mean a loss of workers (at a time when businesses are desperate for employees) and consumers.
The miserable conditions in Central and South America fueled largely by socialist governments, combined with the lifting of all restraints on illegal immigration, has led to an incredible flood over our nation’s southern border. These immigrants have been disbursed beyond the southwest states, as far as Florida, New York, and (wait for it) Pennsylvania! The New York Post recently noted that at least five flights carrying the illegal immigrants landed at airports in Scranton and Allentown late last month from Texas. Lou Barletta, who is running for governor, and a former GOP Congressman, confronted the Biden administration on these secret flights. Was this just the beginning for the Keystone State? Stay tuned.
When illegal immigration went from 400,000 in 2020 to over 1.6 million in 2021, the highest annual total on record, it can’t but somehow impact our country. These people will live somewhere, and we should not be surprised if our federal government does not eye the sleepy upstate Pennsylvania counties.
It was exactly this logic that led the federal government to impose public domain to seize 25,000 acres in the White Deer Valley (southern Lycoming County/northern Union County) and evict hundreds of farmers and village residents from their ancestral homes to build a TNT plant in 1942. This happened as a response to a decision made in Tokyo in the 1930s that led to the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, which resulted in the U.S. declaring war against Japan. One of those families that were evicted from the White Deer Valley to make way for the munitions plant for the United States war effort just happened to be my own mother and father.
Sometimes I can almost feel those butterfly wings flapping on the other side of the world.