John Seven: Trump budget, ACA repeal threaten North Berkshire

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NORTH ADAMS — There are many aspects of the Trump agenda that are too abstract to be grasped simply, but the recently released budget is etched in hard reality.

It can be tough to see connections these violent economic slashes have with your everyday life, and for some it's easy to latch onto the spectacle of draining the swamp without actually understanding that swamps are vibrant ecosystems, and to drain one is to destroy all life within it.

But Trump's America rejects science, and so rejects the concept of ecosystems where everything is connected. So when supporters hear a proposal to destroy the National Endowment for the Arts, they applaud, because they see money being taken away from liberal elitists who have nothing to do with bringing manufacturing jobs back.

However, NEA money is all over the Northern Berkshires, much of it in the form of educational programs, particularly through KidSpace at Mass MoCA, which regularly received it. The Williams College Museum of Art and the Clark Art Institute also receive NEA grants. Destroy the NEA and the children of the Berkshires suffer. And tourism: For instance, the current Nick Cave show at Mass MoCA received an NEA grant.

That's just an example. Much has been made of the Meals On Wheels issue, but less of the entire threatened block grant programs, which would be devastating to the Berkshires. As an example, last year North Adams received $825,000 in block grant funds that went toward improving the city in ways that could not be done otherwise — community property improvements and social services. Anyone who supports the end of block grants is essentially cheering on the decimation of your city.

The same goes for Trump's proposed elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Parents of North Adams, keep your eyes on that after-school program that you and your children depend on — but don't blink, because they are going to disappear under Trump's plan.

For the last 16 years, North Adams has depended on the 21st Century grants to run these programs and make life better for working families. That will come to an abrupt end.

Adding to this is the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which would have a huge negative impact on Northern Berkshire. As many as 44,000 Berkshires residents will feel the sting of its disappearance. One-third of Berkshires residents are dependent on the ACA for their health care and Trump wants that to disappear. And the proposed replacement puts in severe jeopardy those with autism and other disabilities, as well as the elderly, the mentally ill and people struggling with substance abuse. This spells devastation for North Adams.

There's always been an irony to Massachusetts Republicans, living off liberal systems while screaming liberalism is destructive.

But Massachusetts may not be able to cushion its people like it has been able to, since the Trump budget strips away $1 billion from the state, including slashes to the National Institute Of Health that will make millions of dollars disappear from the biotech, research and clean energy industries that are center to our economy and our future.

The science will go elsewhere, probably overseas, as will the jobs. Massachusetts will be trapped in the American sinkhole like any other state.

People who support this budget are betraying the working people of Massachusetts and want to destroy places like North Adams. Trump only cares about himself and his own profit, as this budget proves.

If it and the ACA repeal pass, the only work available in North Adams and towns like it will be the construction of giant gravestones to place on top of them to hide Trump's carnage.

Contact John Seven at mister.j.seven@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @damnjohnseven. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of The Berkshire Eagle.

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