I still remember the day. I signed my name for what felt like a thousand times and wrote the largest check I had ever written in my life. But, it was mine. And, when the agent put the keys to my new home in my hands I knew that I had grabbed my piece of the American dream.
Home ownership has always been a symbol of financial accomplishment in our country. Oftentimes it has marked a rite of passage into “finally becoming a grown up” when that purchase is made. Unfortunately for many, the American dream of home ownership is becoming more difficult to attain. It is especially hard for those just starting out on their own due to the challenges involved in saving up for the down payment. Despite all of the positive aspects and advantages of home ownership, affordability for first time homeowners continues to be a significant barrier for far too many New Jersey residents.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. It is a time when we pay particular attention to helping those who might be in trouble. The danger signs of a potential suicide are seldom as obvious as those with many other emergencies. If you grasp your throat, most people would conclude that you’re choking. If a person suffers a stroke, unmistakable signs that something is seriously wrong include a drooping face, inability to lift up both arms, or being incapable of completing a coherent sentence.
Suicides are different. Some victims exhibit few signs that something is amiss. Indeed, a potential suicide candidate might appear to be as normal as everyone else, until the tragedy happens.
On Monday, we will celebrate Labor Day. For many, it represents the “unofficial” end of summer. The day that follows this holiday also signals a return to numerous classrooms. Labor Day remains a punctuation date that some welcome and others treat with a touch of regret.
Being unemployed can be difficult for anyone, but it is particularly painful for one special group: our military veterans.
There is a saying that comes with those who have given of themselves to defend our country, “Some gave all, but all gave something.” This statement underscores the covenant that thousands of men and women have made with our country. An agreement that demands that we honor their service by treating them every day with the dignity and respect that these patriots deserve.
ABC’s “Wild World of Sports” was a popular TV program that ran for 37 years. It had a memorable intro, “The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat,” as it showed the spectacular wipe-out of a Slovenian skier, who was unhurt. That slogan remains in our lexicon to this day.
The show was wildly popular not only because it highlighted major sporting events, but also minor sports that seldom got any media attention. I also think then, as now, it allowed all of us a moment of vicarious pleasure to daydream about how it must feel to win or lose in pursuit of an athletic goal. That’s a feeling that many viewers must be sharing as they watch the Olympic Games.
As I watched the greatest sporting display on earth, I couldn’t help but wonder whether there weren’t lessons that we could pluck from the games by simply being an observer. The Olympics, like everyday life, is far from perfect. But mostly in this great competition the vast majority of competitors, with some notable exceptions, have taken the high road, looking for commonality and camaraderie in the pursuit of a common goal — victory — even as they compete against each other.
The difficulty with complicated economic issues is that many of us find it difficult to see the relationship between a major fiscal policy and its impact on our own pocketbook.
Rainy day funds are an exception. I believe we all fundamentally understand this concept.
Let’s assume that you’ve set money aside for a long weekend at the shore in late August. The day before you leave, your air conditioning unit breaks, and the HVAC technician comes out and quotes a $900 repair. Do you still go on vacation? If you’ve been prudent, you dip into your savings (You always keep the equivalent of three month’s living expenses, right???), write the check and enjoy your vacation.
But what if you’ve been imprudent? What if you haven’t been saving money or if all you’ve saved is $300? You have a shortfall, and the fiscal problem is apparent.
One of the earliest life lessons that my parents taught me was in the importance of the language we use in our interactions with others. So often, a word or a phrase can reshape a relationship or re-frame a moment if we are not careful in how we employ their usage. I was reminded of that lesson as I sat down to write this week and thought about the word “feminism”.
Having been exposed to many powerful strong woman over the course of my 43 years on this Earth, I believed I knew what the word meant. However, I don’t think I have fully considered what “feminism” means to me or as my parents taught me the importance of this word. I wonder if it’s the “ism” that becomes a jarring note. In some circles, it’s a proverbial red flag, used with the intention of conjuring up negative images of a stereotypical man-hating women bent on a tirade of anti-male criticism directed at men.
It would be difficult to volunteer a word that has more potential for raising a reflexive concern than the term nuclear.
While we know the benefits it provides — plenty of affordable, reliable energy to the world — we allow, privately at least, to fall into the valley of doubt, skepticism and fear.
For that reason, the role of energy and the environment both now and for future generations is an unending discussion. And if we are to offer our intelligence, creativity and problem-solving skills, then every possible answer is something we must carefully analyze. When it comes to solving the growing need for energy, while reducing carbon emissions to deal with climate change, then honest debate on the pros and cons of nuclear energy should be on our collective agenda.
Over the course of my two-year term in office, I like to update my bosses on the issues in Trenton that I am working on. I typically look at the term in four six-month intervals and seek to try and move initiatives forward along that timeline. That said, my main focus as it’s been since being afforded the honor and privilege of representing the Seventh Legislative District in 2011, is to seek to make our state a better place to live, work and raise a family. So, here are a couple of highlights that I wanted to share with you.
I was 17 years old and sat down at my family’s kitchen table with my father to have “The Talk”. Now this talk wasn’t about the birds and the bees but rather something more important. He said to me that now that I was driving he wanted to talk to me about my potential interactions with law enforcement. He never tried to scare me about what could happen if I get stopped, but rather how I should behave when I did. I remember this story because I recall having the same conversation with my oldest son when he turned the same age. The conversation centered around not making sudden movements or being combative on these occasions. No matter whether I thought I was in the right or not, the idea was to leave the encounter without it escalating into something far worse.