Swickard: The history of changing history

© 2012 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. History is a strange subject because it depends on perspective and each of us has a different perspective. Plus, history is dynamic in that it changes with changing perspectives and those changes happen right when you think something so fixed cannot change. Much of what we think is history is not.

Example: there is a widespread notion of the warm welcome American fighting men got when they came home from World War Two. In fact, most citizens today will say that the fighting men of WWII came home to thunderous applause and unconditional love. Our history books today proclaim it. They were the greatest generation.
However, this is an example of revisionist history. One of the most revered men in WWII was a sergeant who drew cartoons of the men at the front. Bill Mauldin created his “Willie and Joe” cartoons from the front lines and it captivated America as much as the writings of Ernie Pyle. Both told and showed a side of the fighting men that was funny and tragic at the same time.
Bill Mauldin was born in Mountain Park, New Mexico near Cloudcroft and enlisted in the Army in 1940. He had always liked to draw so he started drawing what he saw in his spare time as a soldier on the front lines. After a while his drawings got more and more compliments. Eventually he ended up on the staff of the military newspaper, Stars and Stripes.
In 1944 his cartoons were put in a book, Up Front, which won the 1945 Pulitzer Prize. Fast forward to the year 1947 when newly civilian cartoonist Bill Mauldin is back home and publishes his next book, Back Home. Among other things it tells about the way returning soldiers were treated by the folks back home. It was not, according to Mauldin, the way we now think of how those soldiers were treated. They were not treated well.
If you are interested in seeing the returning soldiers through the eyes of someone in 1947, get his book. The poor treatment of returning soldiers made Mauldin mad at an ungrateful nation. We have no sense of his and others outrage now. Again, our history books do not tell that story. Rather, we read about how well soldiers were treated. Who are you to believe, the history books now or Bill Mauldin’s book printed in 1947?
While I have an affinity for stories of the past, I recognize the bane of history, modern revision to make the story, “Politically Correct.” Sometimes as more data is available it is appropriate to rewrite history somewhat, but those instances are few and far between. More often history is changed when there is a change of perspective. History is conditional based upon the needs of that generation. Read full column

Spence: The Good Old Days

Commentary by Jim Spence, News New Mexico Contributor - Technology may have made information easier to come by, but we Americans still have many problems to solve. Our banking crisis has morphed into a structural dilemma. Unemployment is now officially stuck at high levels. Millions of college graduates have no skills. The nation’s labor participation rate reveals a woeful lack of incentive to produce. In the last twelve years the number of Americans on food stamps has increased by more than 30 million. Filing disability claims has become a cottage industry. The number of Americans permanently on the government dole is now at epidemic levels. K-12 academic achievement is declining. Athletes at all levels are taking more performance enhancing drugs than ever. The healthcare system is totally stressed with more and more people demanding services that others must pay for. Trial lawyers manipulate juries in ways that have turned personal injury litigation into one of the largest growth industries in America. Nearly every form of liability insurance suffers from rocketing premiums. For the first time in U.S. history living standards are declining.
 You don’t have to watch television news to determine what elected officials think the solutions are to this large list of problems. Pick your most hated dilemma. Think healthcare reform is the key to turning things around in America? The solution is to make government bigger. Think violence in society is a huge problem? Let’s give more power to government. Disappointed in the performance of K-12 students? Add a lot more government. Tired of seeing high profile athletes admit to drug use? Mandate more government authority over sports. Think joblessness is a huge problem? Give government a stronger hand with all job creators. Don’t like the way the banking system operates? Give government regulators more authority to demand more lines be filled out on more forms by ALL bankers. That’ll take care of it.
It seems that it does not matter what the problem is. President Obama and Joe Biden will work hand in hand with Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and all those who caucus with them in Congress to make government bigger so all of our problems can finally begin to be solved.
You can mute the news coverage on your television and take your newspapers straight to the bottom of the bird cage. Every solution to every problem is anchored in one simple concept. Government needs to get bigger and exert more control over every aspect of our lives. It is the only way to proceed if we ever expect to solve our problems. It is so simple. Stalin and Mao were well on their way to creating a utopia for their people. The problem was they were simply not given enough time and resources to pull it off.
Wait just one second. What about those who disagree? Brush them off! Anyone who thinks more government is unlikely to help us with unsolved problems in America has to be a right wing, tea party-loving, Sarah Palin- stupid, greedy-rich, extremist. Any other questions?


Janice Arnold-Jones on News New Mexico

Janice Arnold-Jones, former state representative will be on News New Mexico Friday morning at 7:00 a.m. to speak about the upcoming legislative session and politics in the state. She has been on News New Mexico many times in the past and is one of our most valued commentators.
Janice served four terms in the New Mexico Legislature and this last year ran for Congress on the Republican ticket. Her husband John had a career in the Navy and after he retired they returned to Albuquerque. She is a graduate of Albuquerque High.


State senator wants smaller class sizes

A New Mexico senator is fighting for smaller class sizes in New Mexico public schools. 
Senator Tim Keller has a resolution to reduce class sizes by 10 to 12 over five years beginning in 2015-2016. He said the resolution, if approved by the legislature and voted on by the public in 2014, would add $60 million to state public education over the five years.
 Governor Susana Martinez gave her State of the State address Tuesday and stated public education would be a major priority of her administration. 
 Sen. Keller said his measure has to make it through several senate committees before it can be approved, then it goes to the state representatives for their approval. 
If that works, the measure would be voted on by the public in November 2014.


Santa Fe increasing minimum wage

Workers making minimum wage in Santa Fe will get a 2 percent raise come March. 
The city says the minimum hourly rate that businesses can pay their workers will increase from $10.29 an hour to $10.51 effective March 1. 
Under the city's Living Wage law, the minimum wage is tied to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Santa Fe wage increase must increase anytime there is an annual increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers for the Western Region. That index increased 2 percent last year. 
Mayor David Coss says the cost-of-living increase "ensures that we will not leave the lowest paid workers behind."


Newsbreak New Mexico 12pm Webcast 1/17/13

Newsbreak New Mexico 12pm Newscast with Vanessa Dabovich

                                     Listen here:

NM has unbalanced checkbook
WSMR installs army's largest solar array
NM's unemployement affected by migration 


WSMR installs army's largest solar array

A missile range in southern New Mexico is now home to the U.S. Army's largest solar energy-producing system. 
Army officials gathered at White Sands Missile Range on Wednesday morning to dedicate the $16.8 million array of more 15,000 solar panels spread across 42 acres. 
The system is capable of producing 10 million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. That's enough to meet about 10 percent of the military installation's electricity needs. 
Garrison Commander Col. Leo Pullar says New Mexico, with its sunny climate, is an ideal site. He says the project is part of the Army's commitment to go green. 
Federal directives call for at least 7.5 percent of an installation's total electricity consumption to include renewable energy. The Defense Department has also set a voluntary goal of 25 percent by 2025.


State has unbalanced checkbook

State government hasn't properly balanced its checkbook for more than six years, and officials in Gov. Susana Martinez's administration are warning lawmakers that New Mexico's cash surplus is from $70 million to $460 million less than what been anticipated . 
Officials stress there's no immediate risk of New Mexico being unable to pay its bills because of the problems in the state's computerized accounting system.
 However, the state will have a smaller financial cushion in case of unexpected budget problems and less surplus cash to spend on projects such as capital improvements.