Navigation
More About This Website

Boot the pseudo deciders aka "TROIKA" out

Vote for candidates -   

Elizabeth Furse for County Commission, District #4

elizabethfurse.com

Allen Amabisca for County Chair

allenamabisca.com

Re-Elect Greg Malinowki to County Commission

Greg Malinowski

- Intel tax abatements

- The Knight fix - Brother can you spare...

- INTEL, come clean!

- Leashing INTEL  

- Free to Be Hungry

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

Facts not fiction on universal gun background checks

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

Sneaker Politics

Kitzhaber and legislators got rolled by Nike. 

More

 


"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: 


 

  • 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



ahomeoftheirown.com/  

    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

 

Boot the psuedo deciders aka "TROIKA" out

Vote for -

Elizabeth Furse for County Commission, District #4

elizabethfurse.com

Allen Amabisca for County Chair

allenamabisca.com

Re-Elect Greg Malinowki to County Commission

 Greg Malinowski

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

  

 


  

 

Tuesday
May232006

EIGHT MONTHS LATER

    RAD:  Below is Charlie Cook's account of his hometown, New Orleans 8 months after Katrina.  The normally cool and collected Mr. Cook let's his hair down showing the human side of a political pundit.  Good for him!   It's about time somebody cut through the BS factor that New Orleans is back.  It's also a comment on how incompetent the current administration is at addressing homeland issues and how out of touch the Congress is.  Things have got to change in '06 and '08.  Sadly, the hurricane season is almost upon us again. 

OFF TO THE RACES, "New Orleans, Eight Months Later." by Charlie Cook. Tuesday, May 23, 2006

    NEW ORLEANS -- On Friday morning, I took a cab from New Orleans International Airport to the French Quarter, and it was still obvious that the city had been hit by a hurricane.
    But, other than an unusually high number of "office space for lease" signs, there were few indications of Hurricane Katrina's magnitude until the Louisiana Superdome came into view. The building is still missing patches of its roof and the black lining underneath shows, as it did in the immediate aftermath of Katrina.
    In the historic French Quarter, some restaurants and shops have yet to reopen, while others have closed for good. I was disappointed as well to see that Gennifer Flowers' piano bar has become an Irish pub. Even the shuttered businesses in the Quarter mask the magnitude of the storm. The effects of the storm are still visible, but it is evident that life is returning, at least in this part of the city.
    On Saturday, I took another cab ride, this time into the now famous Ninth Ward, where I saw considerably more damage. Some homes and businesses are destroyed. Others are badly damaged, Most are unoccupied.
    But even this does not provide a real sense of the damage Katrina wrought.
    It wasn't until I crossed an overpass into the Lower Ninth Ward that I began to sense what happened when the hurricane hit on Aug. 29. Block after block after block, I saw nothing but total devastation.
    Off the main thoroughfares, the streets of close-in blocks were clear of debris, but there was no sign that anything had happened since the waters receded. All of the homes -- from the nice brick houses that were the pride of many working-class families to the classic Southern "shotgun" houses -- were devastated. Many front doors were left wide open and there were heaps of debris inside and out, pretty much the way the waters left them. It was clear, though, that the occupants, or others, had come in search of salvageable items.
    A typical residential block had at least five abandoned cars, many upside down or sideways. I saw a late model car that appeared to be in good shape, if not for the fact that it sat atop another car. There also was a mattress in a tree and a boat that had landed on a front porch.
    We drove perhaps 10 blocks without seeing signs of recovery. We then turned right and went another seven or eight blocks, and again saw no signs of recovery until we got within a block or so of a main street.
    It doesn't take long to realize that something is missing. In purely residential neighborhoods, there are no signs of life -- no people, no dogs or cats, not even birds. I had noticed the night before in the French Quarter that the pigeons looked skinny, anemic and very possibly sick.
    The ecological impact of the hurricane and the affects of the toxic substances that might have contaminated the soil, ground water and food supplies really hit me at that moment.
    If a tactical nuclear warhead had gone off eight months ago rendering the area uninhabitable for years, it would look exactly the way it did this weekend, except there would be debris in the streets.
    It was astonishing to me that all this happened eight-and-a-half months ago, but it looks like it occurred just a week or two ago. It was one of the most sickening and depressing things I have ever seen -- a significant part of a major American city totally destroyed, and after eight-and-a-half months, very few signs of recovery in the worst-hit areas.
    I wouldn't be surprised if this had happened in a third-world country, but I was speechless to see it in our country and in my home state. I wonder if the recovery might take as long if this tragedy had happened in Alaska or West Virginia. Unfortunately, Louisiana does not have senators like Ted Stevens or Robert Byrd to solve its problems.
    There is never a good time to have a natural disaster, particularly the worst one in modern American history. But this hit Louisiana at a time when its often all-powerful congressional delegation is younger, with relatively little seniority. What clout they do have is concentrated in committees that have little primary jurisdiction over spending and disaster relief.
    My cab driver said that while he and his two sisters returned to New Orleans, the rest of the family likely would not be coming back. He wistfully predicted that in 10 years, the city might return to something approaching normalcy, but it seemed more like wishful thinking than an actual forecast.
    Bourbon Street is still as loud, garish and -- if you are into that kind of thing -- fun as ever. The restaurants that have reopened are still the envy of any other city in America.
    But if you leave that corridor between the airport, the central business district and the French Quarter, you are in for as sickening and depressing a sight as you are ever likely to have in this country and a sense of outrage about how little has been done to rebuild.

Tuesday
May232006

THE GREAT COMMUNICATOR

Bush Explains Medicare Drug Bill

WOMAN IN AUDIENCE
: "I don't really understand. How is the new plan going to fix the problem?"

PRESIDENT BUSH (Verbatim response):  " Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculated, for example, is on the table. Whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to that has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, supposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red."

RAD:  Understand now? 

 

Tuesday
May232006

POLITICAL POTPOURRI

    K-12:  Monday’s Oregonian editorial said it best.  K-12 graduation standards “…only work when they’re connected to a fully functioning school system – one with qualified teachers, defensible class sizes and adequate funding.  If Oregon wants to have any real standards for its graduates, it needs to reinvest in its public schools…”  
    How true.  Unfortunately the editorial writers of our state’s paper of record are still transfixed by the idea of high stakes tests, including proficiency tests for graduation.  And our state board of education wants to add to the list of required courses in English and math while considering tiered diplomas.  
    Again, the cart is before the horse in these discussions.  If you have high quality teachers, small class sizes and adequate funding – you will get good educational outcomes – just as the post WW II generation did in most cases.  We met the challenge of Sputnik not by high stakes testing but by investing in K-12 education and higher ed.  
    What we need is a governor who will to make such an investment in our future.
    Now which one of the three in the arena do you think is up to that task?  Democrat Ted Kulongoski, Republican Ron Saxton or Independent Ben Weslund?  
    Here’s the choices:  an incumbent who has been saying for 4 years – wait until my second term.  The past chair of the Portland Public school system that is barely on life support?  Or a state legislator who has chaired the Joint Ways & Means Committee and is willing to think outside the box about funding?  
    Autocracy:  Syndicated columnists, Robyn Blumner and George Will offered contrasting views of the state of the nation in Monday’s Oregonian.  Blumner rails against the current administration’s seemingly inexorable increase of power while the Congress slips into oblivion.  
    She argues that the Congress is “…MIA.  They have handed the game board to Bush and he has taken it and gone home.  He now controls his pieces and theirs.  But it wasn’t their game to give away.  It was ours…”  
    She reminds us that the Founders reasoned that liberty could only be protected by a system of checks and balances system where as Madison said “ambition would check ambition.”  Well somewhere along the post-9/11 roadmap, the Congress had a testosterone loss. It's lost its will to perform its constitutional duty. 
    We live in an Orwellian society of warrantless wiretaps and a nationwide system of data mining with no clear restrictions except the assurances by the former head of our top spy agency NSA, soon to be the head of CIA – that “probable cause” determines how far the government snoops.  
    Now isn’t that reassuring?  When the fox is in the hen house, he then warns the assembled masses that only if “probable cause” exits will he eat you!  Question, whose “probable cause?”  I thought that was for the courts to determine, not the NSA, CIA, FBI…  
    But dear old George Will assures us all is well with the Republic.  In a column titled “Liberalism’s new civil war” he waxes eloquently about the latest power struggle within the ranks of modern liberalism.  Funny, Will is not a liberal, unless you’re talking about the 18th century version thereof.  So why does he care?  
    He talks about some obscure fellow, Peter Beinart, editor at large of the New Republic – once a bastion of 20th century liberalism but more recently a captive of more centrist DLC types.  According to Will, Beinart “excavates” how a virile liberalism can win the war of terror and make the USA stand tall again.  
    Beinart argues that muscular liberalism that took the USA through the Cold War era began in 1947 when “liberal anti-totalitarians convened at the Willard [a famous hotel and watering hole in downtown DC] to found Americans for Democratic Action.”  
    According to the Beinart thesis, the ADA mission impossible was to rescue liberalism from the clutches of what Arnold would term “girlie man” libs like Henry Wallace and other progressives at the time who were not too hot to engage the Soviets in the so-called Cold War.  
    Beinart according to Will then connects the dots between mamby pamby libs of the ‘40s to their ilk today – the George McGoverns to the Michael Moores.  These “doughfaces” (a term attributed to historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr.) flinch from the ‘fact’ that “…America could not have built schools for Afghan girls had it not bombed the Taliban first…”
    Ironic factoid. NPR interviewed two male teachers in Afghanistan this morning whose lives have been threatened by the “remnants” of the Taliban for teaching ideas antithetical to the Taliban’s restricted version of Islam. If the USA “kicked butt” so well 3 years ago, why is the Taliban so robust now?  Afghan girls and boys are not that safe and neither are their teachers!  
    Beinart argues, according to Will that “…liberals have lacked a narrative of national greatness that links America’s mission at home and abroad…”  The McGoverns and Moores like isolationists of the right in the ‘30s want to distance themselves from the world.  
    But Beinart admits he was wrong about supporting the invasion, wrong about Saddam, wrong in giving up on containment of Iraq and wrong about the Bush team’s competence.  Bush et al are guilty of hubris and impatience.  
    Echoing Blumner, Beinart argues that Bush “…has stripped away the restraints on American power, in an effort to show the world that we are not weak.  And in the process, he has made American power illegitimate, which has made us weak…”  
    But Beinart worries that today’s "doughfaces" in the Democratic party will repeat the errors of ’72 – ’76 in ’06 and ’08 given the rise of the Deaniacs. Will cites the famous line of McGovern’s ’72 acceptance speech during the "sunrise service" in Miami – “Come home, America”.  
    Will misrepresents McGovern’s message in doing so.  McGovern was not embracing retreat from the world, he was simply asking Americans to return to basic principles of governance – respect for the loyal opposition, quit spying on Americans, quit lying about the reasons for war, quit spending our human treasure and money in a war that was a quagmire.  
    It’s time we again, came home America.  Beinart and Will misread history.  But then again, that’s what neo-cons do even when they admit their mistakes.  They keep on making them!  Funny, George Will never went to war, George McGovern did.  McGovern was a decorated bomber pilot in WW II in the German theater.  
    Talk is cheap for George Will, just like it is for Dick Cheney.  
    Nonpartisan Primaries:  The public commission on reforming the legislature is cranking out its recommendations.  They’ve officially endorsed moving to annual legislative sessions; adopting open primaries, which allow independents to vote; and/or having a non-partisan primary.  
    The problem is that open primaries and non-partisan primaries are two different types of primary elections.  Oregon’s two major political parties can opt for an open primary any time they want to.  Both have played the game of allowing, then disallowing (a closed primary) independents to vote in their primary.  
    However, a non-partisan primary is a radical change.  It pits all candidates for the same office at all levels – local, state and federal against each other.    
    If a non-partisan primary had been in effect several weeks ago – Ron Saxton, Kevin Mannix, Jason Atkinson, Ted Kulongoski, Peter Sorenson, Jim Hill and Ben Westlund plus minority party candidates from the Libertarian, Green and Reform parties would have all been in the race for governor.  
    The top two candidates would emerge from the field for the November runoff election.  Theoretically, two Ds or two Rs might face off in the general election. It’s all about the math of plurality voting. Given the anemic turnout in May, this might have added some zest to the contest.
    Who do you think would have won such a wide-open election this time around?   
    However, there is a downside to non-partisan elections (though RAD has reluctantly thrown in the towel because things are so dysfunctional is Salem and favors them).
    Candidates with name familiarity and big money will have an advantage. Organization will also be important. This naturally gives PACs a huge roll in the game.  The unions that didn’t engage in May would be forced to pick a winner then and hope their guy is among the top two. There will be nothing cheap about these non-partisan battles.  
    RAD hopes that if we do pass a non-partisan primary that the ballot will show the party affiliation of the candidates as well as which candidates have secured a party endorsement (if any).  Removing party labels denies voters important information or cues. 
    Finally, while the intent of the proponents of non-partisan primaries – former Secretary’s of State Norma Paulus (GOP) and Phil Keisling (Dem) et al – to bring more moderates into the legislature – the challenge of leadership in such a legislature will be daunting.  
    You will still have party caucuses and partisanship factored into the organization of the legislature as the leadership is chosen and committee assignments are made.  That inevitable and necessary.  But hopefully, the politics of this will be less poisonous that it has been in recent years.  
    But parties will be weakened and with that the institutional memory of the legislature will shift to the lobby, agency heads and the erstwhile media who cover Salem inside the beltway. The hope is that with moderates in control, ideology will decline and comity will rule.  Gridlock will end.  We’ll see when the new reality hits Salem, if it passes the voters sniff test in November.  
    But there will be winners and losers in this game. As with past reforms business interests will see their already sizeable political stock go up, unions will lose.  The upper middle class voters will gain, working poor will lose.  Why – because money talks in elections. And those who have the money to spend will be rewarded, as they always are.  
    Reforms always have their costs.  
    

Tuesday
May232006

NORTH OF THE BORDER

Canada failing to care for poor, disadvantaged: UN report, Mon May 22, Yahoo News..

    RAD:  Not everything north of the USA border is all sweetness and light.  The contradictions of welfare state capitalism - classism, sexism and racism et al. appear to be alive and well in the Provinces?  And with a Dubya clone in office - nothing will change.  I vividly remember visiting Ontario the summer week in '67 while living in Minnesota, during my grad school era.  We were enjoying the beautiful boundary lakes region camping in our tent and fishing for walleye pike.  Upon visiting Kenora, Ontario we witnessed the most egregious example of racism toward Indians I've ever seen, there or down in the South 48.  Apparently little has changed.  Now will Canada like the US, ignore the UN or will it take heed and mend its ways?  Of course, in the South 48 plus 2 - the gap between rich and poor increased despite the roaring '90s and since 9/11 the USA has become a pariah state using torture and abuse on detainees from the war on terror.  So our hands are not clean either.  Add to that the level of violence in American life and you get a pretty dark picture on both sides of the northern border! 

    Canada is neglecting its poor and disadvantaged, a UN watchdog group charged Monday.
    The report comes after an examination earlier this month of Canada's compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, an international treaty that protects such rights.
    The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights notes that Canada ranks at the top of the UN Human Development Index and praises it for improving equal pay for equal work, extending maternity benefits and plans to improve health care.
    But it scolds Canada for failing to heed recommendations in two earlier reports aimed at improving the lives of aboriginals, youth, single mothers, African-Canadians, people with disabilities and women.
    Poverty rate considered high
    Despite Canada's economic prosperity, the report says, roughly 11.2 per cent of the population lived in poverty in 2004. That is a drop from 13.7 per cent in 1998.
    It says "... poverty rates remain very high among disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups such as Aboriginal peoples, African-Canadians, immigrants, persons with disabilities, youth, low-income women and single mothers."
    The report also criticizes Canada's Employment Insurance program, saying in 2001, only 39 per cent of unemployed Canadians were eligible for EI benefits. Many groups have a difficult time getting benefits even though they pay into the plan, including migrant workers, and part-time workers, especially women, the report says.
    Social assistance levels
    The committee says federal transfer payments to the provinces for post-secondary education, social assistance and social services are lower than they were in 1995.
    "Social assistance benefits ... do not provide adequate income to meet basic needs for food, clothing and shelter," the report says.
    More than half of the food bank users in the country did receive social assistance benefits, but said the benefits weren't enough to prevent them from having to use food banks, the report noted.
    It recommends raising minimum wages and urges Ottawa to rethink its levels of federal transfer payments for social programs.
    Aboriginals
    There are "significant disparities" between aboriginals and the rest of the population in areas of employment, access to water, health, housing and education, it says.
    Aboriginal women still face discrimination when it comes to property, Indian status and band membership, the report continues. It recommends amending the Indian Act.
    The report also urges Canada to repeal section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which prevents First Nations people from filing complaints of discrimination before a human rights commission or tribunal.
    Children
    Children from families that are low-income, single-mother, aboriginal or African-Canadian are "over-represented" in foster care, the report says. Many women are forced to give up their children because of inadequate housing.
    Children make up 40 per cent of the country's food bank users, the report says, while criticizing the deduction of child benefits from welfare cheques
    Canada must take heed: advocate
    A representative from an advocacy group says Canada must give this report serious attention since its recent inclusion in the new UN Human Rights Council.
    "It really needs to take a look at its own human rights record before starting to criticize others," said Emily Paradis, with the Feminist Organization for Women's Advancement of Rights.
    Paradis agrees poverty has increased among certain disenfranchised groups and that the gap between rich and poor has increased.
    She blames cuts to social assistance, cuts to employment insurance and a low minimum wage," she said.
    "All were taken in the last decade in spite of annual growth and annual budget surpluses."

Monday
May222006

IMMIGRATION: THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX

    RAD was in Seattle this weekend to see the Ms play the Padres.  Hey, the Ms swept the Padres in 3!  Got a chance to read the Seattle Times.  Sunday's edition had two excellent articles on immigration, both which went beyond the cliches and simplistic answers by advocates of throw 'em out or those 'libs' in the Senate who are creating a modern-day Rube Goldberg plan.  Guest columnist Carlos B. Gil, emeritus professor of history at the UW, who like RAD has his own website, Diversity.Central.com (that's what modern retired profs do!) - offered these comments -

"Coming to America"

By Carlos B. Gil
    "...When my parents immigrated to the United States, crossing the border at Nogales, Ariz. — my dad in 1917, my mom in 1922 — the world was a very different place. Their native Mexico was in the midst of a historic, 10-year civil war and many middle- and upper-class Mexicans had already fled to the U.S. for safety.
    My folks were not so concerned about losing wealth or property, because they had none. They just wanted to get away from patriarchal plantation owners who treated dark-skinned peasants like chattel. They were looking for better opportunities elsewhere. Cotton-grower agents met my family at the border, ready to sign them up for work in the fields of Southern Arizona. Thus, their formal entry into the United States came with minimal attention or ceremony. About a million Mexicans similarly crossed the border between 1900 and 1930 — to escape civil war or revolution, or to get away from oppressive landowners..."
    RAD:  My paternal grandfather came from Italy (@ Genoa) in 1904  for similar reasons.  But his route was by boat entering via New York's famous Ellis Island.  Lucky for him and millions of immigrants from Ireland, Central and Southern Europe at the time - immigration laws were fairly unrestrictive unlike today.  After all America needed workers to work in the garment district of New York, the steel mills of Pittsburgh or on Minnesota's Iron range.  If immigration laws not been so lax - a lot of  we "Americans" would have been born in the 'old' country, if at all.  Did my grandfather have a passport?  I have no idea, but the ethnic slur applied to Italian immigrants, WOP means "without passport."  So the locals must have assumed the worst just like today!  I'm just glad he got in along with my grandmother and unlike many immigrants our family name was not brutalized by the INS types of that era. 
    "...Today, some 80 years later, thousands of Mexicans, along with increasing numbers of Central Americans, continue to cross the border annually, but for slightly different reasons. Instead of fleeing the turmoil of revolution that afflicted Mexico in my parents' days, these modern-day men and women are risking their lives to work in the U.S.
    It should not come as a surprise. The American Dream has been beckoning them every day, from the American programs aired on Mexican television to the goods promoted in U.S.-style commercials to the retail outlets in Mexico that are looking more and more like Sears or Wal-Marts, if not the actual stores themselves. Before they ever set foot in this country, their families and communities already were strongly intertwined with the U.S. economy.
    The Mexican migrants of today also have older relatives who, beginning in the 1940s, spent most of their adult lives working in communities like Pontiac, Mich., Yakima, Wash., or Delano, Calif. Nowadays, add New York City and Washington, D.C., to this list. Stories about working in America have been passed down through the generations..." 
    RAD:  Let's keep in mind that the term America refers to both North, Central and South America.  We are all Americans!  The so-called borders which separate each nation of this vast region are legal and historic fictions created by old world colonialism.  The reality is that the USA has been deeply enmeshed in the business of The Americas since the days of the Monroe Doctrine!  Our mutual history in the New World and now a global economy has made cross-border immigration inevitable. 
    "...On a recent bus trip through Mexico, I sat next to an 80-year-old man who regaled me with his knowledge of the many towns and cities in the American West he had become familiar with from years of work as a bracero. He said his experience in America encouraged him to become a businessman, and now he was making sure his daughters enjoyed a better life.
    As further testimony to the fastening of our two countries, the sons and daughters of Mexican families are nurturing the economies back home with U.S. earnings. I know of people working in New York who sent not only money but also architectural plans to relatives in Oaxaca over several years, and now the family proudly owns a large home in that southern state — something it never could have done otherwise.
    And I have visited back-country grocery shops in Mexico whose inventories were secured with dollars repatriated by one family member or another in the U.S. My own relatives maintain intimate connections between their hometowns in Mexico and their new hometowns in the United States, as do thousands of other Latino families..." 
    RAD:  One of the saddest legacies of the immigrant experience of the early 20th century is that family connections, language, history and religion atrophied in many cases.  The children of immigrants were made to feel ashamed of their non-English speaking parents by their peers or by their teachers.  As a result the 'old' language and with it the customs of the old country were lost - not merely to the children of the immigrants - but to generations of children later on.  Only after my own father died did I find out from his birth certificate that his real name was not Charles Albert Dondero - but Carlos Alberto Dondero.  Along with that I never heard Italian spoken at home, I never travelled to Italy, nor did I ever attend a Catholic service until I was an adult. 
    "...Today, however, U.S. leaders in Washington, D.C., and other large American cities view this phenomenon of Mexican, or Latino, immigration through a different prism. Now, they speak of legal and illegal immigration. And they talk of building a wall along our borders.
    A wall is not only preposterous and a waste of U.S. dollars, it sends the wrong message of what America is all about. And, it simply will not work, unless we build an Israeli-type barrier stretching from sea to sea, for 2,000 miles. We must do better. I am confident we can..." 
    RAD:  A 'wall' echoes the Soviet's Berlin Wall.  Do we really want to erect another wall of shame, only to have a future president of Mexico on a state visit to the USA to say someday - "Mr. President tear down that wall!"
    "...An effective and truly comprehensive immigration program cannot be achieved unless it is built on a broader foundation than what we've been looking at. We must think outside the box — way outside the box. The following points should be considered.
    • The legislation endorsed by the Senate Judiciary Committee addressed three critical areas: the unauthorized migrants already working in this country (seeking to legalize 11 million workers); the would-be migrants who are waiting to enter the U.S. lawfully as guest workers; and re-enforcement of the border with more guards and additional equipment.
    But similar measures have been enacted before — the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 — and obviously they have not been enough.
    Our government leaders need to think beyond traditional responses.
    • Migration, especially from Latin America, is fueled primarily by economic incentives. As long as these incentives remain, migration will take place. Restrictive legislation will not stop it. When my own parents came to the U.S., job agents met them at the border. Cotton companies needed workers. My folks were willing to work — even though they had never picked cotton before..." 
    RAD:  The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Why don't we drop the fiction that immigrants come here only to escape political oppression in the old country.  It was more complicated than that when the occupants of the Mayflower arrived, when the slave ships arrived and in the early 20th century.  Economic oppression is as real as religious, political and/or ethnic oppression.  As the famous political philosopher Isaiah Berlin noted the "freedom from" (oppression in its myriad forms) is as powerful a motivator as the "freedom to" (live in a democracy). 
    "...Today, the biggest incentive we have rolled out to the Mexican people is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and its effects have been powerful. (So, too, the Central American Free Trade Agreement.) Why? Free trade opens international borders to capital, goods and services. Why would Americans think workers could somehow be left out of this equation?
    With the U.S. and Mexican economies already joined at the hip even before 1994, NAFTA merely completed a full-body union, yet the U.S. government would egregiously punish Mexican workers for following these connections..."
    RAD:  We live in a global economy of goods and labor.  Why do we incentivize the former and punish the latter?  You can't have the free flow of goods across borders without ultimately also having the free flow of labor.  It's time we get real about the new global economy! 
    "...In striking contrast, the framers of the European Union in the 1980s knew that they couldn't exclude workers from their budding economic community. The 1986 Single European Act included workers in the common-market agreements, so that they, alongside capital, goods and services, could move across European borders, free of the restraints we place on Latino workers.
    We must evaluate the forces unleashed by the free-trade agreements we have signed with Mexico and the Central American countries and see how the pacts' frameworks can help us regulate the flow of economic-driven migration.
    • The United States cannot effectively resolve its immigration problems by itself. The phenomenon of migration always involves two or more countries as the migrant is pulled and pushed simultaneously by the economic forces linking those countries..."
    RAD:  We need to re-examine our trade policy, especially our protectionist agricultural subsidies to big agriculture which penalize family farmers on both sides of the Rio Grand.  We need to replace petro-based corporate agri-business with sustainable agricultural practices which not only protect labor from exploitation but also save the environment from degradation. 
    "...In order to prevent another bursting point (as in 1986 and 1996), we need to enlist the help of the other governments involved in the process of migration. 
    The Mexican government so far has been unable to stem the tide of young and restless Central Americans along its southern border. The Suchiate River separating Mexico from Guatemala is virtually open to anyone wanting to cross it. The Guatemalan-Honduran-Salvadoran borders, for all intents and purposes, are porous.
    Moreover, as with the hundreds of would-be workers who have died crossing the Arizona desert, the experience of migrants traveling from Honduras or El Salvador through Guatemala to get into Mexico has been both terrifying and inhumane..." 
    RAD:  If the local economies in Central America provided good jobs for their workers, they wouldn't come north.  But since the middle of the 18th century the USA has been meddling in these so-called banana republics - changing governments willy nilly while pursuing the interests of US corporate giants like United Fruit and its modern counterparts.  We are simply reaping the seeds of our own neo-colonialism. 
    "...Guatemala's border-enforcement capabilities are nil, practically speaking, and its police agencies have not yet been able to control, much less eliminate, the so-called Mara gangs that operate the border areas ruthlessly, robbing and even killing the migrants.
    Our leaders need to end this dreadful chaos. In order to relieve the pressure along the U.S. border, it is necessary to help the other governments exercise greater control over their own borders. More than a million Central Americans were apprehended inside the United States between October 2004 and September 2005.
    International bodies like the Organization of American States could be enlisted to help. OAS helped us accomplish many other objectives in earlier decades; why not now with this very vexing matter of economic-driven migration?..."   
    RAD:  The problem is that we've used the OAS when it suits us (e.g. to embargo Castro's Cuba) but to ignore it when it doesn't.  As a result democratically elected regimes in Venezuela, Bolivia and Chile have come to power evidencing little respect for El Norte!  I wonder why? 
    "...• Let's dismiss as specious the argument that Latino workers hurt the American middle class because they, especially the undocumented ones, are willing to work for less and drive down wages.   
    The real reasons are the economic policies that outsource good, solid, middle-class jobs. Latinos have nothing to do with U.S. manufacturing going offshore. They are the wrong target.  
    • What about the claim that Latino immigrants, especially those who are not documented, cause government agencies to spend precious dollars on them for medical care and other needs?   
    Here is another example of how we need to think outside the box.   
    If we already are in negotiations with the governments of countries from which undocumented workers come pell-mell into the U.S., there is nothing to stop us from also negotiating with those governments to find a way to offset our public-sector costs from that in-migration.   
    If their local economies are bolstered by worker remittances, why shouldn't those governments begin to share the costs of, say, hospitalizations or incarcerations, should their countrymen become ill or break our laws?   
    The point is, we need to think beyond the obvious.   
    The Europeans created a social fund for worker-retraining programs after they opened their national borders and created one single market. Why can't we look for similar approaches?  
    Clearly, there are many possibilities that our national leaders can pursue to better handle migration flows from the south while at the same time ending the human suffering connected with it.  
    People are getting hurt trying to reach the U.S. Our economic policies attract them, but many of our leaders simply react by closing down the hatches.  
    We surely can do better than this. We need new leaders with fresh solutions. We need to go beyond the obvious to reduce the pressure on our borders..." 
    RAD: 
But we must do better than the Europeans have done.  Yes, the Common Market has made for a relatively easy transparency of goods and labor across once rigid borders of the 'old' Europe.  However, the ethnic unrest we've witnessed this past year among Muslim and African immigrants in Europe show the downside of a policy of partial inclusion.  The power of the American Dream is that when you come you will also be welcomed to join "in" the "beloved community" - that shining city on a hill.  It's time we made good on that part of the promise for our newest immigrants. After all, many of them can trace their lineage to the New World a long way beyond we Anglos!