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Middle East friendship chart

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California topples a tyrant

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10 Things US does worse than Europe

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Corporations enriching shareholders

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Check video

- Intel tax abatements

- INTEL, come clean!

- Leashing INTEL  

- Free to Be Hungry

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Facts not fiction on universal gun background checks

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Sneaker Politics

Kitzhaber and legislators got rolled by Nike. 

More

 


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"Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere"

Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr.


The GOP - Not One of US.

Wall Street, our new criminal class...       

   Business in the USA is sitting on $2 trillion dollars refusing to invest their own funds in expanding and hiring workers.  

   When one adds to this the reserves that banks, equity firms and hedge funds have - the picture is clear - "capitalism in the USA is on strike." 

   The engine of our economy - the spirit of entrepreneurship is not in evidence today.  So much for business being dynamic and risk taking. 

   They hire K- Street lobbyists and their ilk at the state level because they are averse to risk taking - pleading for tax breaks, tax credits and endless loopholes. 

   The "business of business" in America today is not about job creation, it's about wealth hoarding and redistribution from the middle class to the top 1%. 

   So for those who claim government doesn't create jobs, my response is that business doesn't either until given "corporate welfare" by government.  The fact is that the private and public sector are highly integrated, something the anti-tax, anti-government Tea Party types don't understand. 

   Job creation requires public/private partnerships but the benefits of such collaboration should go to the 99% not just the 1%.  

 

RAD'S

WEBSITE PICKS: 


 

  • An Independent View

Oregon Outpost

  • A Middle East View      

Rami G. Khouri

  • RealClearPolitics:

Realclearpolitics

  • Jim Hightower:   

Jimhightower.com

  • Robert Reich:

Robert Reich

  • Thomas Friedman: 

Friedman Column

  • Nicholas Kristof: 

Kristof Column


Oregon's Motto: 

She flies with her own wings! 



Hard Times in Oregon: 

Hardtimes

The Oregon story - the rich get richer, the poor and middle class lose ground.  Check this front page Oregonian article out. 

Oregon wage gap widens

Homelessness in Oregon - a call to action

Chuck Currie The crisis of homelessness


  

      Oregon's coming 34th out of 41 states in the Obama "Race to the Top" illustrates the failure of leadership from Governor Kitzhaber and his predecessors as they have built an educational bridge to nowhere called high stakes testing.

   Instead of being in a race to the top we seem to be dumpster diving to the bottom despite doing education reform since 1991.  Insanity is termed doing the same thing over and over again.  When can we put a fork in this stupidity? 

   To confuse matters more the Oregonian's editorial board has pontificated that this was a lost opportunity to get federal funding for innovation.  How firing principals and teachers equals innovation is a mystery to me.   

   The way to reform schools is to reduce class sizes, to encourage teacher collaboration and to support their continued education.  High stakes testing and performance based assessment of teachers are NOT the answer!    

   If you want students to succeed you first have to resolve the issues they confront before they come to school.  Children who face poverty, hunger, homelessness, health care issues and family instability require wrap around services for them and their families, 24/7.   

   Every child needs a safe home of their own and parents who know how to be good parents.   

There is only one way to address this impending crisis.  Schools must have a stable source of funding. Until that happens - we will limp from crisis to crisis.   

 

Steve Duin Schools get the blame 

School Reform/slate.com 



    

    Why does the richest nation in the world have the moral blight of homeless people?

Invisible People

http://www.npr.org


 Homelessness

    Connecting the dots between homelessness, hunger & health care disparities in Oregon and Washington County: 

Homelessness:  

•    The faces of the homeless are families with children, single men and women, vets, and many who are impaired. It is estimated that in Washington County up to 56% of homelessness occurs to families.

Hunger:

•    Hunger is highest among single mother households (10%) and poor families (15%) as well as renters, unemployed workers and minority households. 

Heath Care Disparities: 

•    Adults in Oregon without insurance represent 22.3% of the state’s population compared to 19.7% of the nation.  In Washington County approximately 


A RAD rhetorical question - Were Madison & Marx "Marxists"?  

 

"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments."   

- James Madison

 

"Philosophers have only interpreted the world in different ways. The point is, however, to change it. 

- Karl Marx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RAD Lines

SIP contract online

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Oreaviationwatch

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Mourning for a Judaism Being Murdered by Israel

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Taking on the Pro-Israel Lobby 

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Kansas' ruinous tax cuts

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Sign the petition ►

Walgreens - pay your fair share of taxes!


"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild



Check video

Miguel de Cervantes, from The Duke - "I accuse you of being an idealist, a bad poet and an honest man."  Cervantes' response - "Guilty as charged, I have never had the courage to believe in nothing."   from Man of La Mancha

 Sign the online petition on Intel emissions in link below:  

Intel failed to report fluoride emissions for almost 30 years   

     Why do Intel employees who are house hunting in Hillsboro, Aloha or Beaverton refer to an area within a 5 mile radius of Intel plants as "the dead zone?"  

      Do they know something we don't?  QuestionIntel.com  We couldn't trust banks "too big to fail," so why should we trust Intel?

Rediscovering Government

Is the US #1? 

 

Professor Kingfield, from the Paper Chase

   "I'm not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you." 

- George Bernard Shaw

 

BLOGS:

From the Left Wing:

Paul Krugman 

krugmanonline.com 

 

Democracy Now
democracynow.org

The Daily Kos

dailykos.com

Blue Oregon

blueoregon.com

 

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." 

- Emilie Buchwald 

 


    "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." 

- Justice John Paul Stevens, Bush v. Gore, 2001


    The state of our union - check out the map, it's a reality check for those who can't figure out why people are so ticked off... 

americanobserver

    Here's Garrison Keillor's rap on the rightwingnuts:   

GarrisonKeillor

 

  

     Garrison Keillor - "...The Founding Fathers intended the Senate to be a fount of wisdom... but when you consider...  moon-faced Mitch McConnell, your faith in democracy is challenged severely. Any legislative body in which 41 senators from rural states that together represent 10 percent of the population can filibuster you to death is going to be flat-footed, on the verge of paralysis, no matter what. Any time 10 percent of the people can stop 90 percent, it's like driving a bus with a brake pedal for each passenger. That's why Congress has a public approval rating of [11] percent...." 


"Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war"

- John Adams

 

"Loyalty to country always.  Loyalty to government when it deserves it."  

- Mark Twain  

 

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  

- George Santayana 

 

"The love of one's country is a natural thing.  But why should love stop at the border?" 

- Pablo Casals

 

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." 

- William Butler Yeats  

 

"You see things; and you say, 'Why?'

But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?" 

- George Bernard Shaw, "Back to Methuselah" (1921)

 

"...the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society...  The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government..."

- James Madison, Federalist Papers #11


"Why … should we have government? Why not each individual take to himself the whole fruit of his labor, without having any of it taxed away?”  

The legitimate object of government, is to do for the people whatever they need to have done, but which they can not do, at all, or can not do, so well, for themselves – in their separate and individual capacities … There are many such things … roads, bridges and the like; providing for the helpless young and afflicted; common schools … the criminal and civil [justice] departments."

- Abraham Lincoln

 

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society

- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

 

"Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests, which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates, but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole..."

- Edmund Burke 

 

“It is a maxim among these lawyers that whatever hath been done before may legally be done again, and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice and the general reason of mankind.  These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities, to justify the most iniquitous opinions.”

- Jonathan Swift

 

" Every satirist who drew breath has flung pots of ink at this parade of tooting lummoxes and here it is come round again, marching down Main Street, rallying to the cause of William McKinley, hail, hail, the gang’s all here, ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay."

- Garrison Keillor


 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

  

 


  

 

Saturday
Aug092014

AND YOU TRUST STATES TO DO THE RIGHT THING?  

Oregon among biggest gainers in health insurance coverage, Gallup poll shows
Oregonian
"Despite problems with its health insurance exchange, Oregon ranks among the top 10 states for a drop in the number of uninsured, according to a new Gallup poll. A telephone survey showed 14 percent of Oregonians were uninsured through midyear 2014, compared to 19.7 percent uninsured last year. That drop, of 5.4 percentage points, ranked Oregon 7th among states, according to telephone interviews conducted for the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Arkansas ranked first, with a drop of 10.1 percentage points, and Kentucky second at 8.5 percentage points."

     RAD:  We're supposed to be happy?  The need was to cover 600,000 Oregonians, we've only covered 300,000 mostly already enrolled in Medicaid.  So in truth we've gained nothing in the past year due to the failure of the website roll out.  And as we move to a federal application process everybody enrolled will have to re-enroll.  How many will be lost in the shuffle?   Why should Oregonians be happy about the gross incompetence of Governor Kitzhaber and his team?  

Kansas bond rating downgraded after tax cuts
Washington Post
"An ambitious plan to cut income taxes in Kansas will end up costing the state more money than it initially estimated after a key ratings agency downgraded the state’s debt on Wednesday. Standard & Poor’s cited structural imbalances created by the tax cut in its decision to slice Kansas’s bond rating from AA+ to AA. That means Kansas will have to offer a higher interest rate to lenders when it issues new bonds. The package of tax cuts, backed by Gov. Sam Brownback (R) and his conservative allies in the state legislature, was never offset with equal spending cuts, S&P said Wednesday. The lost revenue is expected to eat up much of Kansas’s budget reserves during this fiscal year; S&P said it expected the state to face a $333 million budget shortfall this year."

      RAD:  Serves Kansans right!  Eating up budget reserves is asinine.  It's like eating your seed corn.  I thought Kansans were farmers!  They should understand this was a stupid decision by an ideologically blind governor.  What's worse is cutting programs that help people in human services, education and other state functions - roads, corrections, higher education and the environment.  You don't get more by doing less, you get less!  Where's the Wizard of Oz when you need him?  

Koch brothers begin Oregon ad blitz attacking Jeff Merkley for debt limit, budget votes
Oregonian
"Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce -- the Koch brothers' group reportedly planning to spend $3.6 million trying to unseat Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon -- opened a three-month advertising campaign Wednesday with a TV commercial attacking Merkley's votes on government spending. The group is funded by large, undisclosed donors who have joined the political network established by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, who in the last election cycle orchestrated some $407 million in political spending for conservative causes. The commercial makes no mention of Merkley's Republican challenger, Portland pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby.  She has welcomed the advertising campaign while making it clear that she didn't work at all with the group -- which would be a violation of federal election law."

     RAD:  The Koch brothers live in Texas so why are they poaching in Oregon politics?  Sure Monica Wehby and the Oregon GOP are clueless.  If you believe this I have a CRC bridge plan to sell you!  This negative ad independent expenditure is unregulated and the donors unknown and thanks to the Supreme Court it's perfectly legal.  While you have a vote, Koch, Inc. are betting the house they can buy an election in Oregon.  Well their track record in 2012 was poor.  House money doesn't always win in Vegas and it won't in Oregon.  Consider a Koch brother's economic stimulus package for local TV stations!     

Washington's primary system means 2 Republicans will go tête-a-tête in 4th District come November
AP via Oregonian
"For the first time in Washington history, two candidates from the same party will face off in a general election for a U.S. House seat. Republicans Clint Didier and Dan Newhouse advanced Tuesday from a crowded field of candidates in the open 4th Congressional District primary election. Since 2008 Washington has had a top-two primary system, meaning that the top two vote-getters regardless of party affiliation advance to the general election. Didier, a former NFL star, and Newhouse, a Yakima Valley farmer, drew the most votes in early returns, setting up a showdown between Newhouse, a mainstream conservative, and Didier, a tea party favorite."

     RAD:  Anyone familiar with the conservative politics of Eastern Washington won't be shocked by the results of the primary, it reinforces the point that in the 4th Congressional District race to replace Congressman Doc Hastings (R), no Dem need apply.  To be fair a state House race in Seattle ended up with two Ds paired against each other - so it all balances out.  Yes and No.  This is akin to playing the Apple Cup with only one team, the Huskies or the Cougs but not both of them on the field.  Just a scrimmage between the first team and the second team.  Democracy, don't you love it?  

Saturday
Aug092014

IRAQ IMPLODES, DOES ANYONE IN THE USA GIVE A DAMN?  

     I've been reading online articles of how Obama risks leading us into "mission creep" by authorizing bombing ISIS targets in Iraq.  Others defend the administration by saying this is not a new war but limited, strategic hits meant to stop a humanitarian bloodbath among the Christian and Kurdish communities or worse ISIS blowing up the largest damn in Iraq which would wipeout Baghdad. 

     Either way, the risks of escalation are there but so too are the risks of the US doing nothing while the neo-cons on the right including John "Wayne" McCain use ISIS as a pretext for going back into Iraq with boots on the ground.  Is ISIS McCain's WMD?  In Iraq nothing is ever what it seems to be.  The lesson I draw is that it feels like deja vu 2003 all over again!  God forbid. 

     If the Obama strategic hits are proportionate to taking ISIS out and a response to a temporary humanitarian crisis, so be it.  But one is reminded of how we and the Euros got involved Bosnia trying to stop ethnic cleansing.  Did we stop it, yes.  But NATO's, not the USA's, continued presence on the ground suggests in the former Yugoslavia that once the allies leave the hellish ethnic demons will break out again. 

     The rhetorical question is what does President Obama mean by a "limited" air campaign which might expand "if" the various factions in Iraq can form a viable coalition government.  Good luck on that pipe dream?  

     If one is inclined to cynicism like a J-school dean, we're back in the game because of the politics of oil.  It's all black and white.  Question - would things be better if ISIS had control over Kurdish oil fields to fund its Caliphate?  Ask the "locals"...  

     On Saturday morning, President Obama delivered an update on the situation in Iraq from the South Lawn of the White House. The President detailed the progress of current American operations in Iraq, and spoke about what the operations mean for our country.

     This brings me back to the cliche that nothing will be solved in Iraq, Afghanistan nor elsewhere in the Middle East until the parties to the conflicts arrive at a "politial" settlement.  But in the emotionally over charged atmosphere which took centures to create thanks to British colonialism in the Middle East and festering hatreds between Muslims and Christians in Yugoslavia which go back to the Ottoman Empire, it's hard to keep hope alive!  

     When people are used to the violence of the gun, politics is their last option - if one at all.  Look at the NRA's gun violence fetish here in the USA!  And imposing a political solution from 30,000 up in a bomber is even more unlikely even if one takes out the bad boys.  Keep in mind before there was ISIS, there was the Taliban and al Qaida.  Terrorists is a growth stock - morphing into more terrorists not "no" terrorists.  

     In Vietnam General LeMay wanted to bomb the Vietcong back into the stone age!  Well guess what - that's exactly what's happened in the Middle East with terrorists whose pre-historic values keep coming back like a bad penny or like Tiger Wood's terrible swing making him a pitiful figure on the PGA tour despite his remarkable career.  One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again!  God forbid.  

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     Thanks to the "CC" here's some point/counterpoint articles on this issue.  My takeaway is that most American's don't give a damn one way or the other - they have their own demons to contend with at home...   Iraq et al are in a galaxy far far away but not for a POTUS in a second term where foreign, not domestic, policy becomes the main way of being presidential:        

 

Wednesday
Aug062014

THE POLITICS OF K-12 ED

     I taught a course entitled “School & Society” for 13 years in Pacific University’s School of Education 5th Year MAT program. 

     My main message was that teachers cannot shut themselves off from the world of politics but must be prepared to be “political.” 

     It looks like somebody agrees with RAD!  My oh my!

     My “CC” sent me this link below as possible blogging fodder.  Rather than paraphrase the comments, I’m just going to pass it along.  

     As the new President of NEA indicates the battle lines in K-12 education are not just over misguided high stakes testing but about the future of public education itself.  

     There are incompetent teachers and coaches who need to be weeded out and all too often they are protected by a code of silence from their peers. 

     But most teachers work hard at their jobs while facing larger class sizes, less public support and a political class who want to marginalize them. 

     It’s way past time they reach out to their fellow union colleagues, to parents and to other progressives because without quality education, we won’t have a quality society. 

     All the evidence is clear – when kids do poorly in school, they become a drag on the larger society as they move from schools to the corrections system or an unemployment line.  

     Decades of high stakes testing have not ended the drop out rate nor the achievement gap.  What is required is a new social contract with Americans to rebuild the middle class.  

     The place to start is to require corporations and the 1% to give up their tax loopholes and to pay their fair share in local, state and federal taxes as they did in the ‘50s.  

BLOG: The Income Inequality Oath: First, do no harm
Blue Oregon

     There is no free lunch in this increasingly absurd game of denying the realities of educational truth and consequences.  If we want a quality society we must invest in it! 

     The NEA president needs to visit Oregon to provide a wake up call for her peers and our educational bureaucrats! 

     Oregon's vacuous K-12 CEO, Nancy Golden, claims that "Schools can spend less money and get dramatically better results" in upping attendance rates and reading proficiency.  I've seen her testify in the Puzzle Palace, she's a placeholder nothing more!  

     She's just trotting out the party line from Kitz that we can do more with less when the evidence is contrary to this Puzzle Palace mythology.   How about less SIPS, less ConnectOregon for corporate Oregon and more for schools?   

NEA President on the problem with Arne Duncan

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     News Flash - another dropped Kitz ball - something smells from the Guv's office to Quack Attack U - again!  

University of Oregon President Michael Gottfredson resigns

Tuesday
Aug052014

OREGON MEDIA GOING DARK? YES & NO...  

Defying trend, newspaper companies launch new Salem bureau:   

     “A recent study by Pew Research shows that Oregon, in comparison with most other states, has very few news reporters focused on state government.

     Two Oregon newspaper companies — the Pamplin Media Group and the EO Media Group, which together own 35 newspapers — are launching a joint venture to improve the level of coverage in Salem.

     The two companies have combined their resources to create a Salem bureau that will offer timely and in-depth news about state agencies, the governor’s office and the Oregon Legislature.” 

     RAD:  The trend of less and less coverage of state government has accelerated in Oregon as local newspapers and broadcast media have been bought out by out of state chains. 

     Before buyouts of local papers became the trend in the ‘80s, Oregon had local owners who lived in the communities their papers or stations served.  So the commitment to Oregon news was a central focus. 

     As the USA Today and online publishing came into dominance, local and state coverage has declined precipitously both in newspapers as well as on local TV and radio.     

     Both have bought the outside consultant’s mantra that a story has to “bleed to lead” which is why so much headline news focuses on gang violence, car crashes and scandals. 

     This trend was cited in a chapter on the media RAD co-authored with Jim Moore and Bill Lunch in Oregon Politics & Government, Progressives versus Conservative Populists (U of Nebraska Press) edited by Clucas, Henkels & Steel. 

      It’s gotten worse since the book came out in 2005 according to a recent Pew report: 

     Pew found reporters assigned full time to state capitols nationwide declined 35 percent in the past 11 years. Oregon, has one of the smallest statehouse reporting contingents. 

      This trend has accelerated with the downsizing of The Oregonian to a 4-day paper and an increasingly conservative bias by an out of state owner from San Diego. 

     The unOregonian had 3 fulltime Capitol reporters.  All are now gone (see link below).  This leaves Jeff Mapes, senior politics reporter, to cover the beat solo voce.  This trend is also evident in the ranks of TV and radio too. 

     The reality is that state government does not stop when legislators leave Salem but who covers the business of state government when the legislature is not in session?  Mostly nobody!   

     In the hearing of the Oregon Transportation Commission, which I attended and reported on there was only one reporter in the Salem Convention Center, Peter Wong from the Pamplin Group! 

     The hearing drew 300 hundred citizens, lobbyists and legislators from around Oregon testifying on proposed ConnectOregon projects including funds for infrastructure upgrades for oil/coal trains. 

     The public’s need to know costs to taxpayers and consequences to the public of oil/coal trains moving along the Columbia River corridor to Astoria is important.  But what if nobody knows? 

     If nobody is around to hear a tree fall in the forest has it really happened?      

     As a housing and land use advocate, it’s crucial to have media covering these issues so you can get your message out.  But in a constricted media environment this becomes a huge obstacle. 

     While business interests or unions with their 24/7 lobbyists lurking in the halls of the Capitol or county court houses, their backs are covered, not so for citizen activists who are making it up on the fly.  

     Checkmating a powerful legislator like Senator Betsy Johnson (D, Scappoose) or the Troika in Washington County is hard work and they are just the tip of the iceberg of the power elite.  

     As Watergate proved, an inquiring media is a necessary tool for keeping citizens informed and the powers that be accountable.  That takes media boots on the ground in Salem and Hillsboro et al. 

     While Eric Snowden is data-dumping NSA files from Mother Russia – who’s minding the store back on the home front in state and local government and politics beyond feeding frenzied news? 

     The Oregonian has lost an excellent reporter on the Intel emissions controversy front, Katherine Drisesen who is headed for Houston.  The loss of media institutional memory is a loss to the public. 

     So one hopes the Pamplin Group’s commitment to having a more robust presence in the Salem will increase public awareness of what their state government is doing to and for them!  

     It would be a bonus if other media outlets joined them as once was the case.  But right now when I visit the media basement office area of the Capital it’s like visiting a tomb.  

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Late breaking news from WW: 

The Oregonian's state politics desk loses another reporter

    

     “The Oregonian has lost another state politics reporter. Yuxing Zheng is leaving for Metro...   Her leaving also continues the rapid devastation of The Oregonian's state politics desk. Reporters Christian Gaston and Harry Esteve left earlier this year. That leaves Jeff Mapes as the sole veteran of the state politics team.”   

 

Tuesday
Aug052014

"PARENTING" IS A VERB FORM, NOT A NOUN

EDITOR'S NOTE:  I found this commentary by Robert J. Sameulson who writes for the Washington Post

     My children are pre-Millennials born in the '70s and now 35 and 41.  My experience and that of my similarly aged friends in their early '70s to '80s, is that one never stops being a parent and that often leads to grand parenthood which is a joy except when they share their cold germs with you! 

     Children recycle in and out of your life on a regular basis regardless of their generational niche.  In my own case, I kept coming home for the summers to work throughout my college years and well into grad school until I was married.

     In the traditional American family of the 20th century it was the norm for the extended family to live in close proximity if not in the same house with dad, mom, the kids, grand parents and uncles and aunts. 

     That's why The Walton's resonated so well with many Americans for so long even now on re-runs.  My wife's Japanese-American family kept those strong ties which is how as a kid from a broken home I slowly learned the concept of "family." 

     Rather than chartering new territory perhaps like families of the Great Depression to WW II, the post-Great Recession family is repeating a family tradition with deep historical roots.  The idea that after the kids go off to college mom and dad can reclaim their rooms is a myth more than a reality.  I say this with my computer room being in my older son's room which still has his Blazer, Giants and Mariners banners. 

     As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  But in our case, the kids have homes of their own but with one in Seattle and the other in Portland, they are only a cell phone or e-mai click away.  And when in need of the "old folks" they manage to find us except when we steal away to Maui or San Francisco.

--------------------------------

By Robert J. Samuelson, The Millennial Parent Trap

     "You could hear the tension in his voice. His 20-something daughter was living at home. She had a graduate degree from a good university that, in times past, would have led to a solid job. But she had no job and no prospect of one. He worried and wondered how long this would last.

     He has plenty of company!

     We are, I think, a new silent minority: parents of millennials, those born roughly from 1980 to the mid-1990s. Much has been written about their problems; little has been written about ours. I have three 20-somethings, and although all are now gainfully occupied in jobs or school, I am awash in anxiety about their future. Will jobs be there? Will they be stable? Will they pay enough? Will they encourage our children to start families of their own? 

     Everywhere I go, I meet parents — the man referenced above is typical — with similar doubts. Some of this is normal parental worry, but much is the product of this economic cycle, whose destructive effects have fallen disproportionately on the young. As parents, our sense of self-worth depends heavily on the success and happiness of our children. These seem increasingly imperiled. 

     I confess that the reporter in me wants to dismiss all this as claptrap: another case of media and political hype that, with a little time and perspective, will self-destruct of its own simplicities. Maybe that will happen; I hope so. I also admit that sweeping generalizations about generations normally offend me. The differences among individuals — in economic class, geography, religion, schooling and much more — usually dwarf any imprint left by collective experiences and common beliefs.

     I searched for evidence to debunk the conventional wisdom. I found a thoughtful speech by Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, that I suspected would assuage my fears. Unfortunately, it didn’t. Reviewing various statistics, Furman delivers a somber assessment of how poorly many of the young — not everyone, to be sure — have fared.

     The job market inflicted the worst damage. Among 18- to 34-year-olds, unemployment peaked at 13.9 percent in 2010 and was 9.1 percent in June (Furman’s speech predated July’s jobs report). This was much higher than the 7.2 percent average of the 2001-2007 economic expansion. 

     More discouraging is the U-6 measure, which includes the officially unemployed, part-timers who would like more hours, discouraged workers and others “marginally” attached to the labor force.  In June, the U-6 for this age group was 16.7 percent, down from a peak of 21.8 percent but up from the 12 percent 2001-2007 average. (Even in good times, job turnover among the young — and hence their unemployment — exceeds the average.)

     Compounding poor job prospects are high debts. In early 2014, student debt totaled $1.1 trillion and had more than doubled since 2005; about 11 percent “has been categorized as seriously delinquent,” said Furman.” With high debts and fewer jobs, more young people have retreated to their parents. In 2013, nearly one-third of 18- to 34-year-olds were living with parents, up from about a quarter in 2005.

     I would qualify Furman’s analysis in one important respect: A Pew study notes that millennials “are the most racially diverse generation in American history, a trend driven” largely by Hispanic and Asian immigration. Some “generational” trends also reflect the differences of economic class and ethnic background.

     Still, none of this can please parents, who desire to see their children independent. Instead, many millennials aren’t self-supporting and are postponing conventional life decisions: getting married, having children, buying a house. It may make sense to return home — saving rent they don’t have or building a small nest egg — and some parents may enjoy having their children around again. But neither can be happy that these decisions are largely involuntary.

     What has emerged is a large class of people — mainly parents of millennials — who increasingly judge the economy not by how well they’re doing (because many are doing okay) but by how well their kids are doing. The unwritten social contract of their era presumed that the economy would be strong enough so that when children reached a certain age, they could be “launched” into the adult world and would not crash. It’s this contract that has now broken down. Many launchings are aborted.

     Perhaps setbacks are temporary. The children of the Great Depression, who might have expected continuous want and insecurity, generally enjoyed prosperous lives. The July jobs report (209,000 added payroll jobs) suggests an improving economy. Also, the retirement of baby-boom workers will open up many job opportunities even if total employment grows slowly. Surveys show that the young remain confident. Maybe millennials’ fortunes will soon reverse. If so, no one will be happier than their parents.


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