It is that time of year when I begin to think about what I want for Christmas. I know that Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves are working extra hard to make this a good Christmas for all of us.
In past years, I have wished for peace. I know Santa hasn’t been able to deliver on this wish, but I ask him to try harder. While world peace continues to elude us, there’s a new urgent problem where we need his magic.
I’m sure that news has reached him at the North Pole that our beautiful blue Earth is in peril. The problem is climate change.
Climate change is melting the glaciers and polar ice caps. The warming of the Earth will cause sea-levels to rise, bad weather events to become more frequent and violent. Millions of people will be displaced from their homes. Even Santa and Mrs. Claus might find themselves to be climate refugees.
Fortunately, we have some very clever elves down here who say we can stop and, perhaps, even reverse climate change, if we switch to using God-given renewable energy sources, such as the sun and the wind.
For Christmas, I ask Santa to put more policies and funding into his bag of goodies that will phase out fossil fuels and spur the development of clean, renewable energy and a dependable power grid. Along with that, I would like support for electric vehicles and electric fueling stations.
We also need to clean up our water and make sure our children don’t get a dose of lead in their drinking water. We know that exposure to lead can lead to brain and nervous system damage in young children. I would bet that Santa and Mrs. Claus make sure the elves have clean water.
I also would ask Santa to look around and see what policies we need to clean up old industrial sites, shuttered coal mines and abandoned gas wells. Hopefully, he’ll bring us a billion trees to plant in their place and some powerful good will for a cleaner 21st-century economy. And, oh yes, don’t forget broadband for our rural communities, to connect families to online schooling, shopping and doctor visits. Rural communities also need broadband to be economically viable.
Some of us in Appalachia think an idea from the 1930s for a modernized Civilian Conservation Corps could help restore the environment and provide jobs for those who have been left behind in our current economy.
We also think the ability of workers to form unions, negotiate pay and benefits will revitalize the middle class. Whatever gifts Santa brings should have protections for workers.
I’m sure Santa agrees that every part of the economy — labor, capital and government — is as important as every other. Each plays an essential role in our economy. I bet it’s not a coincidence that the Nordic countries close to the North Pole figured this out decades ago. Did one of Santa’s elves sneak across the border and bring them this wisdom? Please open the eyes of our leaders this Christmas and let them see the light.
While Mrs Claus and Santa don’t have children, they have a great family of darling elves and magical reindeer. They know what it takes to support them and provide for a good education. They know that, for families to prosper, they need some basic things, such as a living wage, medical and family leave, child tax credits, affordable higher education, health care and quality child care.
Could Santa put that all in his sack and deliver in time for Christmas? It would make so many families very happy.
I have to ask Santa for one more thing, and this might be the hardest of them all. I know he has the ability to change hearts and minds. I remember what he did for greedy, mean Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge.
Santa doesn’t always act directly, but I suspect it was he who sent the three ghosts to Mr. Scrooge, to help him find the key to his heart.
Could he send some ghosts to billionaires like Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos and remind them that all the wealth they have gathered would be better spent here on Earth than to have a blastoff-joy-ride into space? They deserve no more than a lump of coal. Musk wants to establish consciousness on Mars but doesn’t have the conscience to see what needs to be done right here on Earth.
I would especially ask Santa to send some ghosts to our West Virginia congressional delegation. For Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., I wish a midnight visit to remind him of what he owes to family and can do for the families of West Virginia. A young child, dressed as the ghost of Christmas future, could guide Joe around a cleaner, more prosperous West Virginia, where children thrive and families have the support they need.
For the rest of the West Virginia congressional delegation, perhaps Santa could just hang a picture of Bob Cratchit holding Tiny Tim on their Christmas tree.
Happy Holidays, and thanks for the gifts that the Build Back Better Act will mean for West Virginia.