Sina-cism: It’s the economy, smarty, so get to work

Cook cited the ratio of 1:2:7 in the popular video “Success in the New Economy” — for every job requiring a master’s degree there are two requiring a bachelor’s degree and seven requiring a certificate or training program that might take just one or two years.
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

If you are still blaming racism, Russia or Viking runes for Donald Trump’s victory, let me remind you of James Carville’s phrase that helped Bill Clinton unseat President George H.W. Bush in the 1992 election: “The economy, stupid.”

In spite of all that was said and done over the last year, the 2016 election was tipped Trump’s way by blue-collar voters in Middle America dissatisfied with the nation’s overall economic growth and frustrated by the stagnation, decline or disappearance of their wages and jobs.

The narrowness of Trump’s win — and Hillary Clinton’s loss — had something to do with their personal shortcomings. It had far more to do with the uneasiness of voters who wanted change, but who were not fully convinced Trump can deliver that change.

After all, the U.S. economy is complex beyond imagining, its course determined by more factors that any single person — or presidential Cabinet — can hope to comprehend. At best, leaders can take a few modest steps in what they hope is the right direction.

More Sinacola: Some of last year’s top Sina-cism

Sina-cism: When Nikola Tesla didn’t come to Worcester

“In hopes of tracking down evidence of Tesla’s Worcester visit, I scoured microfilm for September 1931. I read about a great many horrific car crashes, some sensational murders, and the Worcester County agricultural fair section.”
Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

I recently read Marc J. Seifer’s disjointed and suspect “Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Telsa, Biography of a Genius.”

Through more than 400 pages of Seifer’s speculations and demonstrably shoddy research, I sought to better understand one of the most inventive and imaginative minds of the last century. Alas, I learned very little about alternating current, Tesla coils, or exactly what the Serbian-born genius contributed to science.

Then, on page 419, I found a potential Worcester connection. If nothing else, Tesla could take his place in Central Massachusetts history!

Sina-cism: Muzzling the First Amendment on campus

When I last took the temperature of free speech in America about a year ago, the nation was running a slight fever.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

A year ago, there was discussion about — and some support for — the University of Chicago’s January 2015 statement on behalf of intellectual liberty on campus. The nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) had noted a slight decline in the number of colleges and universities earning “red light” ratings because of speech codes or other restrictions on what students may think, say, write and do.

On the other hand, we were already well into the 2016 presidential campaign, during which partisans on all sides would plumb previously unexplored rhetorical depths. Many a hyperventilating columnist would come dangerously close to wearing out the H, I, T, L, E and R keys on their laptop.

The news reached such heights of erudition that I canceled cable.

A year later, as the nation heads for a close encounter of the Trump kind, it’s time for our annual free speech checkup. The news is not great.

Sina-cism: Time for Jill Stein to go back to Town Meeting

As a fundamentally friendly and open-minded guy, I really wanted to like Jill Stein and her Green Party. I favor competition, whether in business, life, sports or politics. Many, myself included, had hoped for a viable third party in the recent election.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

Moreover, I view candidates and parties as continuing forces whose fortunes and ideas rise and fall. Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater stood no chance in 1964, for example, but played a huge role in shaping Ronald Reagan’s victory 16 years later.

But I am done flirting with Jill Stein — and I’ve never even met the woman. At least, I don’t think I have. At some point during my tenure as a mild-mannered reporter, columnist and editorial writer for a once-great metropolitan newspaper I may have crossed paths with her. If so, neither database nor diary hints of it.

The end of the would-be intellectual affair was confirmed by the recount debacle that Stein engineered in the wake of the 2016 election. But the warning signs have been there for some time.

Sina-cism: DACA is no way to reform immigration

The current debate over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — called into existence by a whim of President Obama in 2012 — illustrates the confusion many Americans have regarding civics.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

DACA permits illegal immigrants, including many who were brought to the United States as children, to remain here, provided they pay an application fee, have completed high school, are not convicted of felonies or serious misdemeanors, and meet several other requirements.

Many of those who qualify happen to be college students. And since president-elect Donald Trump has expressed opposition to DACA, there is a growing chorus of support for the program being heard on college campuses.

Related Sina-cism: The real line on immigration, and how Obama crossed it

More than 500 college presidents nationwide — including the presidents of Clark University, WPI and the College of the Holy Cross — have signed a letter to leaders in Washington, D.C., declaring in part:

“Since the advent of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, we have seen the critical benefits of this program for our students, and the highly positive impacts on our institutions and communities. DACA beneficiaries on our campuses have been exemplary student scholars and student leaders, working across campus and in the community … To our country’s leaders we say that DACA should be upheld, continued, and expanded. We are prepared to meet with you to present our case. This is both a moral imperative and a national necessity …”

Sina-cism: Do ballot questions matter much?

There wasn’t much drama in Massachusetts on Election Day. As expected, Democrat Hillary Clinton easily won our deep-as-the-deep-blue-sea state. No incumbent state representative or state senator, Democrat or Republican, was unseated.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

About the only excitement was generated by four ballot questions.

About $50 million — much of it dark money, and from out-of-state — was spent on those four questions. About 80 percent of that, some $40 million, was spent on Question 2, which would have allowed for an increase in public charter school enrollments. Another $5 million or so was spent trying to persuade or dissuade voters on the legalization of marijuana for personal adult use. A little more than $1 million was wasted in a doomed effort to obtain a slots license for one particular proposal associated with Suffolk Downs — an obvious abuse of the initiative process. And about another million dollars was expended on Question 3, regarding the treatment of certain farm animals.

So, $50 million spent, and for what? Not much.

Chris Sinacola

Sina-cism: In Millbury, addicted to the wrong fight

Four hundred years after Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra wrote his final words, his greatest fictional creation — Don Quixote de la Mancha — lives on in those among us whose nobility of spirit compels them to fight seemingly hopeless battles for truth, justice, community or love.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

Then there are those who fight obviously hopeless battles because they don’t want certain people in their backyards.

Such a battle is happening in Millbury, where Worcester-based Spectrum Health Systems Inc. plans to open a methadone clinic in an industrial zone at 50 Howe Ave., where a staff of 12 would help as many as 175 people each day.

Sina-cism: Alexander Hamilton’s message for those Worcester Trump protesters

On the Saturday following Election Day, hundreds gathered in downtown Worcester to protest President-elect Donald Trump. They marched about, spoke with the press and expressed their displeasure.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

I’m sure the participants and organizers, the Worcester Socialist Alternative, found the event therapeutic and helpful. I’ll grant that the amalgam of liberal, humanitarian and ecological causes that flavored the event won the popular vote, so to speak.

But speaking of popular votes, I took exception to the words of one protester, 31-year-old Terrance Ford, who told the Telegram & Gazette, “… it’s repulsive we have the Electoral College where the popular vote doesn’t matter.”

This is akin to saying that it’s repulsive that we have a bicameral legislature, or three branches of government, or that Marbury v. Madison secured the principle of judicial review.

The Electoral College (EC) is simply how we elect the president. It has been so, with slight amendment, from the moment the Constitution was ratified. In this nation, “winning the popular vote” is an empty phrase.

The right stuff: A year of Sina-cism in the Sun

It’s been about a year since we brought the band back together, convincing award-winning observers Chris Sinacola and David Hitch to dust off their considerable skills and join the Sun family. To celebrate the milestone, join us in taking a look back at some of the best stuff they’ve delivered to our lucky members. Top Spots: Hitch’s greatest hits [from Nov. 16]

Salt and capitalism, starring BirchTree Bread Co. “Naturally, when vendors are invited into the BirchTree forest of wonders, they aren’t just any vendors.

Sina-cism: An exceptional nation will endure together

Election 2016 is over. The republic endures. And we now turn to the real issue. No, not economics, the Supreme Court or foreign policy, but this: Has the best of American exceptionalism survived this election?

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

By American exceptionalism I mean the idea that our nation, founded upon equality and liberty, plays a unique role as the bearer of freedom’s torch, and an inspiration to peoples everywhere. And while secularists may shudder at the thought, that exceptionalism has long carried religious connotations: America as the chosen people, a second Israel.

Take Worcester native George Bancroft. His “History of the United States, from the Discovery of the American Continent,” published in 10 volumes between 1834 and 1874, was the most comprehensive, widely taught and influential account of the nation’s history in its day, shaping Americans’ views well into the 20th century.

Donald Trump

Wikimedia Commons / Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump

Chris Sinacola’s first Worcester Sun column [which appeared Nov. 22, 2015] warns liberals to not underestimate Donald Trump or his supporters