Austerity Myth and Public Safety Reality

Is it austerity thinking that prevents us from preparing for natural disasters? Or is the simple arithmetic of limiting taxes on corporations and investors bankrupting our ability to make or execute public safety plans?

safety first

June 1 is the first day of hurricane season. Emergency management officials caution that a “below average” year does not mean that the one that hits your community will not be THE BIG ONE.

Dr. Rick Knabb of the National Hurricane Center: “None of the forecasts, warnings, and emergency evaluation instructions will be as effective as they need to be if individuals, families, and business owners have not prepared in advance for what they need to do.” (1) And what about the preparation that governments need to do?

In the April Think Progress article, “ Big Insurance Companies Are Warning the US to Prepare for Climate Change” by Emily Atkin (2) reports on the SmarterSafer report that was painfully accurate in predicting current events.

“With the federal government taking on such an enormous share of the financial burden and nearly all recovery responsibility, there is little incentive for disaster-prone states to take action to reduce risk,” the report says. “For example, disaster-prone states like Texas and Louisiana are among those spending the least of their state budget on emergency response and mitigation programs that can reduce disaster costs.”

It is true that the cost of preparation can be formidable but certainly less than not preparing. The difference: who pays.

In example, The Las Vegas Valley Water Authority has spent millions on infrastructure designed to manage flash floods in the Valley and Clark County. This kind of activity is a logical part of a comprehensive water management program. So why do so many areas at risk not prepare?

It is my opinion that as long as multinational corporations and their investors consider themselves citizens of a world economy and NOT citizens of this country, state, or community, they will feel no obligation to contribute to the collective ability to prepare for and respond to natural disasters. And they will continue to use the austerity myth to convince us that it is always someone else who should pay – even if it means paying with their lives.

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(1)http://abcnews.go.com/topics/news/hurricane-season.htm

(2)http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/04/21/3649244/insurance-climate-change-disaster-relief/

TPP is a Dealbreaker

TPP is a dealbreaker

After 15 years of platitudes about job creation, I doubt that any magic pill supported by multi nationals has anything in it for me. This proposal appears to treat Corporate Officers and Investors as citizens of the world economy whereas you and I barely have the rights of an American citizen. I refuse to support this culture of financial privilege any longer.

What They Are Not Saying About the Decision to Invade Iraq

I am concerned about what I am not hearing from presidential candidates when asked if they would have invaded Iraq “knowing what we know now”.

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No one is talking about how “what we knew then” included hundreds of thousands of The People, demonstrating in hundreds of rallies across America. Add to that the hundreds of thousands that demonstrated around the globe, and regretting having ignored the public is a big missing in the answers.

No one is talking about the plethora of polls, op-eds, blogs, letters to the editor and petitions that questioned the case for weapons of mass destruction (WMD). It is as though the only information available was given at the podium at the United Nations by a man who is now publicly upset by how he was misled.

No one is talking about the interpretation, ‘we found no WMD, therefore there must be WMD’. Somehow blocking inspectors was the equivalent of a guilty plea. Those who called for enforced inspections are not included in the answers.

No one is talking about the member of the diplomatic corps who had intelligence debunking the “yellow cake” threat, and that his CIA operative wife (and her entire cover organization) was outed in the process of making a case for ignoring his input. The fact that he was correct goes unaddressed.

Perhaps you can add to the list of “facts” ignored in the answers given. It does not appear that any presidential candidate will do so any time soon.

Image thanks to:  http://www.commondreams.org/views/2013/02/15/february-15-2003-day-world-said-no-war

Irony: We Mourn As We Demand Better

Why we mourn.

An Amtrak train traveling from Washington D.C. to New York City derailed as it rounding a curve in Philadelphia shortly after 9 p.m Tuesday night. Five crew members and 243 passengers were on board. Seven are dead and countless are injured. Officials will investigate, but the speed of the train and the condition of the tracks are the leading contenders for the cause of this tragedy.

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What we demand.

Long on the schedule for May 13th has been a Rally to Rebuild America. #RebuildRenew is a public request for government spending on our disintegrating infrastructure.

RebuildRenew

From the Facebook event page: Federal transportation funding, including America’s Mass Transit Account, runs out starting May 31. Another short-term fix is not the solution! Be part of the solution by helping us reach our goal to send 10,000 letters to members of Congress.  http://voicesforpublictransit.org/actionalerts.aspx

I’m writing a letter. And you?

Image thanks to WGAL News 8.

The Original Mother’s Day Proclamation

Before it was a greeting-card-holiday, Mother’s Day was a call for peace “…originally started after the Civil Was, as a protest to the carnage of that war, by women who had lost their sons.” This is the kind of day I want to honor.

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Mother’s Day Proclamation: Julia Ward Howe, Boston, 1870

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of fears!

Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.

We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says “Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”

Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

See more about his at http://www.peace.ca/mothersdayproclamation.htm

Image thanks to http://anothermother.org/

A Magical MLK Day!

My Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Washington DC has been magical. A friend (just back from Africa) and I (from Oregon) crossed paths in the nation’s capital. We decided to mark this day by watching the sunrise from the Lincoln Memorial, the site of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

Imagine our surprise to hear young voices as we approached the monument. Students on a field trip had our same idea – to watch the sun rise in this special place on this special day. And they were singing.

MLK Lincoln singing

The innocence of the moment was transforming. These young people were not a choir, but classmates who love to sing together. There were no news crews in attendance to turn their celebration into a “clip”. All of us who just happened to be there – the joggers, the dog walkers, and the sunrise watchers – were captivated by this happy accident.

After a few songs the students, all from First Christian Schools from many cities, gathered in a circle, arm in arm, and led by an adult leader, read the speech aloud.

While they were reading they welcomed us into their circle. A smart phone with the words to the speech on the screen was being passed, student to student, as each read the next paragraph. The phone came to me and I was so moved by the moment I could not speak. They waited, and I read:

When we allow freedom to ring – when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, We are free at last.”

freedom hands

We walked as a group to Dr. King’s. Memorial. We listened to speakers. We paid our respects at the grand carving of the man who inspired our day. My heart was filled with hope and joy as I watched the students leave for their long trip home.

I was their age when Dr. King became important to me. They brought life back to my memories of The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the iconic images of humanity stretching the length of the reflecting pond, and the off-script speech that still moves me to tears a half a century later. Dr. King won my heart that day. And today it was as though he replied in the voices of young people, “I love you, too”.

MLK Hug

First photo by Jeanene Louden, second and third photos by Cheryl Hatch.

The 5th anniversary of the Citizens United decision is a call to action.

On January 21st I will be at Lafayette Park in Washington DC across the street from the US Chamber of Commerce. Many people representing many American walks of life will be there, and together we hope to bring LIGHT to the issue of DARK money.

I am a spark in the dark

We live in a time when a powerful few, using money as speech and hiding behind corporations as people, are influencing our elected and our judiciary to support a financial agenda in pursuit of unlimited wealth. They leave a wake of social and economic injustice that, with our without intent, cripples our nation as it tears her People apart, and threatens our very existence with indifference to consequences of their actions.

Standing up for The People is a job from which we cannot be laid-off or fired. It is, however, a job we can quit. I will never quit. The fate of this republic’s democracy is in my hands as it is in yours. If you have quit, tear up your resignation. If you have not quit, take heart. WE see the truth hidden by the smoke and mirrors of mindless media and disguised by overly clever use of the language of the law. WE are the spark that will light the fire that will create “liberty and justice for ALL”.

BE a spark in the dark

 The Chamber of Commerce is the country’s leader in dark money politics, having laundered over $31Million in the recent mid term elections to support candidates that become beholden to the wealth builder agenda. We need to let them know the time for dark money is over. Join us in Washington, DC. Or, join us by making a statement in your community. Be a spark in the dark.

Window of Opportunity

When it comes to the possibility of pandemic, to prepare ourselves at home is wise, but to take the fight to the source is brilliant. Today affords a window of opportunity to do both.

The weak first-world response to the Ebola epidemic in west Africa has been criticized since mid summer by apolitical groups like Doctors Without Borders. The case of the late Mr. Duncan has America reeling, and today’s announcement that a health care worker in the hospital where he died having been diagnosed with Ebola has escalated the talking point politicalization of this public health issue.

We still have a window of opportunity to use our collective assets effectively. Let’s get smarter here and more aggressive there. This is a “war” worth fighting. NOW. We cannot wait for the Congressional lobbyists to figure out where the profit lies in this call to medical combat. This window of opportunity to “fight it there” will close. Soon.

window of opportunituy

Another Inconvenient Truth

You may not approve of how Mr. Duncan arrived in Texas, but you can join me in thanking him for exposing our disjointed public health system. He died this morning. But our collective concern about a less than impressive response to communicable disease is NOW alive and well, in part because of the risk he brought home from west Africa. Influenza (now linked to CNS damage in children), dengue fever, and yes, ebola, are all public health risks. There are many more.

The days of ‘government small enough to drown in a bathtub’ spawned mischief like the sequester cuts and the bumper sticker notion that there is ‘no such thing as a good tax’. County health departments across the nation, our first line of defense from and response to public health threats, have been cut or eliminated as a part of the clever crusade of “right sizing”. While it may be fashionable to think public health is not really a public concern worthy of public funding, the predictable outcomes are the result of neglect.

IMHO a ‘good tax’ is one that is an efficient and effective use of our collective resources. I think it is time for the no-good-tax people to ante up.

another inconvenient truth

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