Jakob, 12, knows how to take matters to the top

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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I wish more adults were like Jakob Kincaid. The Lincoln 12-year-old wrote a letter to President Barack Obama 45 days ago about Jakob?s idea to combine the United States and Canada into one country. Two weeks ago, Jakob received a letter from Obama, saying that ?engaged young people like you gives me great hope for the future.? Jakob put much thought into his idea. Merging the two countries would benefit both countries in several ways, Jakob told me this week. Benefits would include more jobs in the United States, Jakob pointed out, which would help bring this country?s unemployment rate down. Plus this country?s reliance on oil from the Middle East would decrease and that would lessen American reliance on Middle East oil, according to Jakob. ?Other benefits ? you never know. For example, the U.S. and Canada are big partners in the United Nations,? Jakob explained. ?A lot of countries like Canada and others like Iraq do not like the United States but probably would like each other if we merged. Wars might stop.? Jakob is a seventh-grader at Glen Edwards Middle School. Never mind that the idea will probably never happen because neither country wants to give up its? separate identities. It?s still impressive that a 12-year-old spent months coming up with solutions to improve this country?s environment and economy as well as try to stop wars in the Middle East region. And his idea is not just kids? play. Jakob was very logical about it. He based his idea on the fact that Canada has adequate oil refineries and the United State?s oil refineries are not producing as much as they once did. ?Instead of getting oil from Liberia, Iraq or Afghanistan, we should get gas from Canada,? Jakob said. ?Gas prices are crazy; we?re fighting over there. Apparently, we?re getting oil and stuff from basically the Eastern Hemisphere. Canada has tons of clean air and fresh water we can use, Canada has tons of jobs to fill and not enough people; we have tons of people who are unemployed.? Jakob sounds like a politician or statesman-in-the-making. In fact, when I first talked to him over the phone, I thought he sounded like a 30-year-old. And yet I was talking in fact to a middle-school student, who in his spare time likes to play video games. Just like other students his age. Many youth throughout the country also correspond with the president. ?Children writing to the White House is not rare,? said Joanna Rosholm from the White House press office Friday. Although Rosholm said statistics aren?t available on how many children write or which state has the most letter-writers, Rosholm said the president ?gets millions of letters a day.? I then wondered how many Lincoln residents initiate written conversations with their council members. ?We receive about 10 to 20 e-mails a week and two or three letters a month,? said Lincoln Mayor Spencer Short. ?Sometimes, people don?t have a burning issue and we don?t hear from them. But if there are problems or issues, we?re happy to jump in.? When there?s a major issue, however, the correspondence piles up. ?For example, for the Safeway gas station opening several years ago, I received about 400 e-mails,? Short said. In case residents want to start writing to their councilmen, addresses are on page A5 in the officials? box. I was taught in civics and government classes to write our elected officials, from the federal to the local level. But I heard of only one or two friends following that advice. Fast forward to this generation of schoolchildren and Jakob is doing just that. Hopefully, we adults will follow his lead and start writing or e-mailing our elected officials. We might not always have the answers but at least we can have a voice in our government.