Archive for June, 2011|Monthly archive page

Even Ron Swanson Would Disapprove of Ohio Republicans

In Midwest, Politics, Poverty, Worker's Rights on June 30, 2011 at 10:45 am

If you are a fan of Parks and Recreation, then you are probably familiar with meat-eating-Libertarian Ron Swanson. As much as Ron Swanson and I might disagree about the role of government, I think he would agree that the Ohio Legislature is currently violating several of the cornerstones of the Pyramid of Greatness.


Faith Community Steps Up

In Great Recession, Midwest, Social Change on June 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm

I am currently doing some research on the decline of the social contract and how we can improve America’s safety net. It doesn’t take long to discover that faith communities are increasingly the ones filling the gaps for families in need, often stepping up to provide vital services for those whose unemployment has run out or are not eligible for other social programs.

I often think of faith communities as kindly social service providers. What I forget is that they can also be agents of social change. What would the civil rights era have been without churches and faith leaders?

Enter the Greater Cleveland Congregations, an interfaith coalition working for change in the Cleveland community. I am blown away by their vision. Just take a look at their mission statement, which includes the word POWER!

According to the organizers,

The mission of GCC is to work together to build power for social justice. GCC unites people across lines of race, class, religion and geography to promote public, private and civic-sector actions that we believe will strengthen and improve the quality of life of our neighborhoods.

Maybe the Great Recession will create the catalyst needed to mobilize our communities. Research seems to back up this idea; according to a study released by UC-Riverside, the economic crisis has inspired or revived campaigns for economic justice among consumers, homeowners, and unemployed workers, as well as among a variety of public sector workers and their clients.”

Our elected officials act as though they are powerless to solve the problems of the day. It is easy to feel powerless just watching them drone on and on about deficits and budget cuts while ignoring the economic suffering going on across this country. This coalition reminds us that we are not powerless. It is time people to reclaim their power, roll up their sleeves, and get to work.

Points of Agreement

In Debt Ceiling, Politics, Social Change on June 6, 2011 at 12:36 pm

My in-laws visited this weekend and we had lively debates about all things political.  My Father-in-law in particular loves to discuss the merits of conservative-ism, and even said he hopes that one day ‘we wake up and decide to become a republican’ (though I’m not sure he should hold his breath on that one)! I was surprised, however, to discover our many points of agreement, one being that we both support closing corporate tax loop-holes. This only confirms what I read today on the Spotlight for Poverty and Opportunity’s blog. Their blog post discussed the results of an effort to discover how six different groups would tackle the budget deficit problem. The findings are fascinating:

As expected, the recently released plans differed substantially. As the Wall Street Journal notes, “The big takeaway is this: The debate over how to reduce the deficit is truly a philosophical one about the size of government.”

Yet the real surprise was the areas of significant agreement. According to the Journal, “All six would curb tax income-tax breaks, loopholes, deductions and credits, a.k.a. ‘tax expenditures’ or ‘spending through the tax code’ because Congress uses them as alternatives to explicit spending.” In addition, all six plans took aim at farm subsidies.

–Excerpt from Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity Blog

At a time in our country when corporations are making record profits, while ordinary Americans are suffering tremendously, President Obama and Congress would be wise to stop giving corporations a break and start making them pay their fare share.

If Joe and I can agree, then there is certainly the public support for such an effort.

Why the Recovery Isn’t Working

In Great Recession, inequality, Poverty on June 3, 2011 at 11:45 am

I was fortunate enough to hear Harold Meyerson speak yesterday at the National Employment Law Project’s “Transforming Communities” conference in Flint, Michigan. For those not familiar with Meyerson, he is an Editor-at-Large for American Prospect and columnist for the Washington Post (more on his bio here). I was blown away by his speech and how eloquently he articulated why the economic recovery is failing and what we need to do fix it. I will write more on this later, but for a great summary of his major points and ideas, check out a fantastic piece he wrote for the American Prospect entitled Business is Booming. Of course, as he told the audience, he likes to kibbitz about the economy with friends at lunch and is constantly told he is too much gloom and doom. This article confirms that–no sunshine and rainbows here–but can really afford not to face the music?

Off to Flint, Michigan

In Poverty, Social Change on June 1, 2011 at 12:36 am

I’m headed to Flint, MI for theTransforming Communities; Creating Jobs and Restoring Opportunity  Transforming Communities Conference. Even though Flint might not be everyone’s favorite place to visit (see Flint’s recent appearance at the top of a stupid crummy FBI list), I happen to like the fact that I will be learning more about how to reinvent a community that has a lot of history for my mother’s family. Plus if I’m lucky I’ll get a coney too. 🙂