mourningdovemotherhood

Archive for the ‘Great Recession’ Category

Time to Pass Jobs Bill!

In Great Recession, inequality, Politics, Social Change, Worker's Rights on September 9, 2011 at 12:17 pm

I just had a conversation with a young African American man* that illuminates why we need bold action on jobs, and now! The man asked me for bus fare, and we started chatting. He asked if I was in school and I said yes, law school. Turns out he at one point was pursuing a degree in criminal justice with hopes of becoming a policeman or attorney. He couldn’t afford to finish his degree.** Today he had the unpleasant job of having to ask a stranger for a few quarters so he could ride a bus.

Our country can do better.

*I highlight his race because our country is failing black males the most. Of all racial groups, they face highest rates of unemployment as well as highest incarceration rates.

**I never used to understand why people could not afford college. You can get loans, right? Turns out financial aid policies hurt low income students in disproportionate ways. I will write a post soon about why this is and how we might better support those who don’t have the means to attend college.

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Frances Kissling’s Thoughts on Social Change

In Great Recession, inequality, Politics, Poverty, Social Change, Worker's Rights on August 18, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I just listened to a fantastic interview with Frances Kissling on American Public Radio’s “On Being” program.  The interview concerned Kissling’s work as a pro-choice activist, and in particular her experiences sitting down at the table with those who think very differently than her about reproductive choice issues. Kissling’s viewpoint on this issue was a breath of fresh air. She talked about how it may not be possible for Catholic bishops and pro-choice feminists to find common ground, per se, but that does not mean we should not understand where the other is coming from.

Many moons ago I was a political organizer with NARAL Ohio, and while I’m familiar with the work of Catholics for Choice (which Kissling used to lead), I was not particularly familiar with Kissling. Needless to say, I was very impressed by her.

The interview is worth a listen if this is an issue you care about. While I won’t rehash it all here, I was struck by her response to the question posed about what she has learned over the years about working for social change. Kippling said there are two main lessons: Change begins at the margins, and you must see the good in the other.

I wholeheartedly agree. I’ve been thinking a lot about social change in general, not just with reproductive choice issues. We cannot expect our leaders in the moderate-mushy-middle to suddenly wake up one day and say, “Wow this economy is really not working for most people; let’s stick it to the man!” We need to pressure our government to change, and that might start small and at the margins. But you gotta start somewhere, right?

Oh, and that part about seeing the good in the other? That part I have to work on. I will admit: I have a hard time seeing the good in Bachman or Perry. Patience, grasshopper. Maybe someday soon.

Two Reasons Why the Bush Tax Cuts Should Expire

In Great Recession, inequality, Politics, Social Change on August 3, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Photo courtesy flickr user Great Beyond

Two Reasons Why the Bush Tax Cuts Should Expire:

  1. The ultra-rich can afford to send their children to summer camp–aboard private jets.
  2. The ultra-rich can afford quarter-million-dollar houses–playhouses for their children, that is.

Youth Continue to Fight For Their Future | The Nation

In Great Recession, Social Change on July 19, 2011 at 12:11 pm

I really enjoyed this article, Youth Continue to Fight For Their Future, in the latest issue of The Nation. First of all, it is rare for magazines to cover voices of young people, and The Nation consistently makes an effort to include those voices. But I also like how thoughtful the article is; I find that older activists are quick to say “the youth don’t care!” but seldom do they dig beneath the surface to find out why.  There is usually a reason why young people’s voices are not heard, and I find that it often has nothing to do with complacency. The Nation agrees:

When we take these things into consideration—cost of tuition, cost of living, in addition to possible at-home issues like helping their family with cost of living arrangements, health care payments, insurance—suddenly, it becomes clear that we shouldn’t be disappointed that American youth are “lazy” but rather amazed that so many students continue to fight for a better future despite having the deck stacked overwhelmingly against them.

read the full article here.

Ohio is Broke…So Why are We Forfeiting $176.3 Million in Federal Funds?

In Great Recession, Politics on July 14, 2011 at 10:03 am

From (full disclosure: my employer) Policy Matters Ohio:

Ohio now has less than two months to take steps to modernize its unemployment compensation system, or it will forfeit $176.3 million in federal funds.

Call me crazy, but it seems kind of irresponsible for lawmakers to forfeit this money at a time when the state is so broke.

update: the issue is featured on the Columbus Dispatch.

Out of Touch

In Debt Ceiling, Great Recession, inequality, Politics, Poverty, Uncategorized on July 8, 2011 at 4:09 pm
Update (7/26/11): I posted this July 8th and Congress still has not reached a deal. For the record, still angry.

I am angry. So angry that I spent the entire evening furiously weeding the garden and muttering under my breath.

Letter to FDR asking for his support of "old age pension"

Why am I so upset?

I’m angry because Washington is seriously out of touch. No, not the normal “hey we’re a bunch of millionaires, but we’ll still throw you a bone” out-of-touch.  More like the, “Hey, let’s punch people while they are down! Whee isn’t this fun!”out-of-touch.

Of course I’m referring to the reports that Obama is putting Social Security and Medicare on the table for negotiations regarding this deficit bruhaha. Ok, before you’re all like, “Hey Sarah, get off your liberal high horse and admit these programs are broken/bloated/unsustainable and can afford to be trimmed a bit” you need to know that I probably (somewhat) agreed with you two months ago.  I’ve heard the reports about how unsustainable social security is. I’ve seen the news coverage about Medicare waste and fraud.

But I’ve also spent time at my summer job researching and writing on a report about our country’s safety net programs. While I am no expert by any means, I have done a ton of reading about social security, Medicare, etc. What I’ve learned is that these programs have already been cut beyond belief and are all that stand between someone just getting by and someone living in poverty.

Would you believe me if I told you that without social security, nearly fifty percent of the elderly would be living in poverty? (Last time poverty was that bad among the elderly was  in 1935, before the Social Security was enacted.)

Know what else? These social programs are not the source of our troubles. All that fuss about how the “sky is falling” with social security?  Entitlement programs are not in a dire crisis. To quote Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

“Social Security can pay full benefits through 2037 without any changes, and relatively modest changes would place the program on a sound financial footing for 75 years and beyond.” (CBPP)

I am old enough to know better than to expect politicians to do the right thing just for the heck of it. However, I was under the mistaken belief that the Democrat party was wise enough to understand that a) the public (presumably the Democrat’s base + moderates + swing voters–basically everyone but tea party) overwhelmingly support Medicare and Social Security and b) many of them rely upon it, especially during the Great Recession. (Currently One in six Ohioans receive some form of Social Security benefit.)

Politically, Democrats are fools to ignore these facts.  But more than that, what exactly is it that you are standing up for when you throw low and moderate income folks under the bus? Does our government simply exist to channel the people’s funds to benefit for-profit companies, or does it exist to promote the public good and provide for the safety and well-being of it citizens?

Washington, it is time you wake up. The rest of us non-millionaires are not surprised by June’s employment numbers.  If you stepped outside of the beltway, you might realize that a lot of people are barely getting by, and even then mostly on crumbs.  And you want to take those crumbs away, so you can keep your corporate jet tax loopholes?

That is a disgrace.

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.

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?