OCTOBER 2, 2017
The Marietta Reading Club inaugurated its 154th session on October 2, 2017, at the Betsey Mills Club hosted by Wes Clarke and his mother, Argyle Clark. Newly elected President Richard Murdock called the meeting to order . Minutes of the 12th meeting of the 153rd session of the Marietta Reading Club were presented by former and longtime Secretary Mark Miller. The topic of the evening’s meeting was mental health in Washington County. Readers were Miller and Gwen Banziger. Miller read excerpts from a novel titled Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, detailing the horrors of cold-turkey withdrawal from heroin and codeine-based cough medicine. Banziger read from Mad in America, by Robert Whitacre, a history of treating mental illness in the United States in the 20th century, including the use of neuroleptic drugs. The first critic, Karen Binkley, is president of the Washington County Behavioral Health Board. Binkley discussed new therapies for treatment of those with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems, many without use of drugs. The second critic was Jim Raney, also a member of the WCBHB. He noted that untreated mental health problems and substance abuse affect not just the individual, but their families and friends, their schools and places of employment, from absenteeism and accidents, declines in productivity, and increasing insurance costs. In Washington County, public assistance is inadequate; state and federal funding have been cut and are at risk of further cuts. The behavioral health board is seeking a ½ mill levy on real estate in the county that would yield $737,000 annually for five years, doubling the current level of resources available. These resources would help the county economy, reduce incarceration, increase public safety, Raney said. The campaign to support the levy aims to inform and educate the public on why we need more resources. Raney encouraged reading club members to visit wcmhl.com to watch a video in support of the levy.
OCTOBER 17, 2017
The second meeting of the 154th session of the Marietta Reading Club convened October 17, 2017 at the Betsey Mills Club. The topic of the evening’s presentation was The Electoral College. Ed and Karen Osborne were the readers. The first reading was a New York Times editorial from December 19, 2016, titled “Time to End the Electoral College.” The second reading was an article in the New York Times by Nate Cohn, also published on December 19, 2016, titled “Why Trump Had an Edge in the Electoral College.” Trump won, Cohn says, because the Electoral College “gives a lot of weight to the battleground states, which are generally whiter and less educated than the country as a whole.” There aren’t many justifications for letting a few states decide a close national election, Cohn wrote. Roger Pitasky served as critic for the meeting. He noted that the U.S. was founded as a republic, and so elect senators and representatives. Some countries elect their leaders in a direct popular vote; others use their legislative bodies, as we do, and still others choose a body specifically to elect a leader. Several countries have switched between direct and indirect electors. Both major U.S. political parties use an indirect election system to choose their candidates. Pitasky foresees little hope for the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, and predicts nationwide dissatisfaction with revised voting district boundaries following the 2020 census.