Editorial: Hodgepodge

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

When sitting down to write my editorial for the week, the word "hodgepodge" came to mind. Then I wondered: do people use that word anymore, or even know what it means?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines hodgepodge as a mixture of dissimilar ingredients: a jumble. It's from the Anglo-French word "hochepot" which is loosely translated as "stew."

That's exactly what I had in mind. I wanted to touch on a few unrelated issues, but combine them in such a way as a cook puts together an array of ingredients for an old-fashioned beef or vegetable stew.

So here I go with the ingredients of my stew. Cover and let simmer:

On National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month - Please don't forget that March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Last week I challenged readers to make an appointment for a screening. That's especially important to folks in my age category, age 50 and older. However, you don't have to be old to get colorectal cancer. I recently read where the American Cancer Society estimates that about 143,000 new cases will be diagnosed by the end of 2013; and, colorectal cancer is expected to cause nearly 51,000 deaths in this year alone.

When it's diagnosed early, it's survivable. When diagnosed late, it's far less survivable. Screenings can make the difference between life and death. Call your doctor or health care provider to learn more.

On Katoen Natie – Last week I posted an article on Twitter announcing that Katoen Natie USA is bringing a $150 million petrochemical storage and processing facility to Baton Rouge. A follower asked me it would benefit the environment. I think that's a fair question.

So I said I would look into it, but as someone sensitive to the fact that we need jobs. We can't negate that fact; and, I won't take sides without having all the facts. It's an occupational hazard.

At the same time, I'm very sensitive to environmental issues. In fact, on Feb. 28, I wrote about the collapse of honeybee colonies - the phenomenon known as CCD. In my column I told of a leading university study which linked specific pesticides with the demise of the honeybees. I also mentioned Bayer as one of the huge multi-national companies profiting billions from the use of these pesticides. These are proven facts.

But too often, it's like the saying goes: Money talks … Since the study has been published nothing has been done to halt the use of these pesticides. In fact, Bayer rallied its team of scientists in an effort to keep the status quo.

On democracy – While I was traveling home from my son's baseball tournament Saturday, I listened to an interview on NPR. Former Vice President Al Gore was talking about his new book: "The Future." During the conversation Gore said something that stuck with me. He said our democracy has been hacked by big business, big money and special interest groups.

I liked his use of computer jargon because it perfectly illustrates what's happened. Just like a computer hacker takes over the use of someone's computer, special interests have taken over our country.

Gore said this has happened in recent years as television advertising has become an important medium for candidates seeking election to office. He said television advertising is expensive, so candidates spend a lot of time fundraising – asking people for large checks.

Special interests with deep pockets get results. That is the way it is now, according to Gore.

I appreciated the way Gore, a Washington insider, stated it so bluntly.

Of course, these same special interest groups were running the show when he was in office; they were running the show during the Bush years; and, they are running the show now. Nothing much has changed.

Once I chastised young people for being apathetic, but maybe they understand computer language better than the elders: Our democracy has been hacked.

Lisa Yates is the editor of Gonzales Weekly Citizen. Follow her on Twitter @Lisa_editor.