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More And More Poverty In The United States—We Don’t Even Talk About Poverty Anymore

Poverty in the United States continues to grow.

From The New York Times—

“Another 2.6 million people slipped into poverty in the United States last year, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday, and the number of Americans living below the official poverty line, 46.2 million people, was the highest number in the 52 years the bureau has been publishing figures on it. And in new signs of distress among the middle class, median household incomes fell last year to levels last seen in 1997. Economists pointed to a telling statistic: It was the first time since the Great Depression that median household income, adjusted for inflation, had not risen over such a long period, said Lawrence Katz, an economics professor at Harvard.”

It should be noted that wages are stagnant all the way back to 1997.  The issue here is not just the recession. Our wages are stuck.

This concern is quite remote from all the debate we recently heard about the debt ceiling. Jobs and wages have been missing as big issues in Washington. President Obama’s current jobs bill is a start, yet at the same time the President is also talking about cutting federal health funds.

1 in 5 children in the United States live in poverty.

Here is the full Census report on poverty and also on health insurance coverage in the U.S. 

1 in 6 Americans do not have health insurance.

That these poverty numbers and health insurance numbers are not a source of national uproar, is a sign of the extent to which we have lost our way in this nation. President Obama never mentions poverty while the Republican Party takes every step it can to make the lives of the poor as miserable as possible.

These are moral questions. Budgets and our legislative priorities are moral questions.

Morality in this country as seen by the political right is a function of brutality and intimidation. It is moral to cheer about the death penalty and about uninsured people dying.

On the left morality is tempered by cowardice, and by the silent complicity of  many on the left who are fine with economic issues off the agenda. We don’t want to get at the core issues driving our politics and society today. We don’t see ourselves as tough enough and willing enough to fight on these questions.

Everyday people are going to have to decide what they want for our future. They are going to have decide that they care about the fates of others.

Every person who is able has the obligation to work. Most people want to work.

But what are people to do when you can’t get a job, and when the jobs that are available do not offer enough hours and money so that you can get by? What do we do when every effort to get people some health insurance is met with silly cries of socialism? What do we do when we can’t even raise taxes on the most wealthy at a time of debt and economic crisis?

We can’t keep going on like this. It won’t end well if we keep going on like this.

September 15, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

Houston, Texas Has Heat Wave, Drought, Ozone Alert & West Nile Disease—This Is The Rick Perry Texas Miracle

Above is a picture of the front page of today’s Houston Chronicle.

I took the picture outside on the hot and parched Texas grass.

It sure is hot.

The newspaper above reports that Texas farmers and ranchers have suffered major losses due to the current drought in Texas, while at the same time Texas Governor and Presidential candidate Rick Perry denies the existence of global warming.

While nobody can be sure that one cause of the terrible weather in Texas for the past few months has been global warming, it is quite possible that this is indeed the case.  However, of course, Rick Perry won’t even consider the very idea that this is possible.

No letup in the Texas drought is predicted in the months to come.

Three other stories in the Houston Chronicle today detail record heat in Houston, mosquitio spraying by Harris County out of concern that tropical West Nile disease may occur in the area, and the fact trees are dying in Houston due to the drought.

Here are facts about West Nile Disease. 

Also, an ozone alert has been declared for today in the Houston area. 

In Texas, the air quality is often so bad that it offends deeply conservative Oklahoma. 

Meanwhile, out on the Presidential campaign trial, the Republican field is bashing the EPA. 

In the end, people are just going to have to decide what kind of future they want. If you want Rick Perry and how he governs Texas for your future, then that is your call to make.

And–since I have you here–please also note that the Texas Miracle Rick Perry has been touting as his economic record, involves one in four Texas children living in poverty and the highest rate of uninsured children in the nation.

Rick Perry has called for prayer to end the drought. His prayers and the prayers of his supporters have not been heard in this regard. Under Governor Perry’s reasoning for why we are being afflicted with terrible weather, maybe the State of Texas is being judged for harsh treatment of the poor and neglect of those in need.

(Below—It is very hot in Houston, Texas. Both photos in this post copyright Neil Aquino 2011.)

August 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

With An External Foe Defeated, Obama Must Attack The Internal Foe Of Poverty In America

Now that we have killed a significant external foe in the form of Osama bin Laden, it is time to renew our war on the internal foe of the persistent poverty faced by many in our nation.

Can you recall the last time you heard Barack Obama mentioned poverty?

Any observant person knows it can be hard to get work in this economy. And if you get work, it can be difficult to get consistent hours and decent benefits.

The Census Bureau says that 43.6 million Americans lived in poverty in 2009. That was two years ago in this time of enduring recession. That raw number of 43.6 million translates into 14.6% of all Americans.

Here are Census Bureau statistics on poverty in America

20.7% of American children lived in poverty in 2009. How is this acceptable? Is America a first-world nation anymore?

The President merits his share of the credit for the capture of Osama bin Laden.

Now let’s ask and expect the President to take on a foe as deadly as any terrorist.

We seem to have forgotten the poor in our nation.

It’s a given that the powerful will celebrate military truimphs and hope we forget those having the roughest time in society.

Many of us in America go along with that kind of thinking even though any one of us could face poverty in this current ecomomy.

Without for a moment losing sight of the brutality and menace of the modern Republican Party, we must always insist that our leaders who at least pay lip service to decency actually deliver on what they are saying.

It is up to us to demand more of Barack Obama. I’m glad that Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat. But many other battles remain as the President marks his recent victory.

May 3, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Candidates For Governor Of Texas Debate Education–An Eyewitness Report

I attended the League of Women Voters of the Houston Area Texas Governor’s race debate held on Sunday, October 3 here in Houston.

The debate was held at the Harris County Department of Education building you see pictured above. As you will note in the picture, this education building is named after Ronald Reagan.

That would be funny if the joke were not on all of us.

Three of the four candidates for Governor of Texas took part in this debate.

The three in attendance were—

Democratic nominee Bill White.

Green nominee Deborah Shafto.

Libertarian nominee and scary person Kathie Glass.

Not attending the debate was incumbent Republican Governor Rick Perry.

Governor Perry does not believe that the people of Texas merit the chance to see and compare all the candidates in one place and at one time.

The focus of the debate was education. There was a warm-up panel of three Harris County school superintendents to discuss education issues in Texas.

So the event was really something of a double feature.

(Below—Double Feature.)

The three local superintendents all agreed that educating kids is a challenge. They all agreed that kids must take many standardized tests, but that they sought to educate kids beyond the tests. They all agreed that money is tight. They all agreed that they agreed.

A top Houston and Texas education blogger is Martha Griffin who writes musings.

As for the debate, here are some observations—

Bill White spoke to the fact that anybody born in the U.S. is a citizen. This was in response to a question about if the children of undocumented persons should get government services.  Mr. White’s stand is clearly the correct Constitutional view.

Deb Shafto said she would be willing to raise taxes to support education. This is a good position that puts the long-term interests of Texans ahead of short-term politics. Texas has one of the worst drop out rates in the nation.

Angry Kathie Glass said that the number of immigrants coming across the border represented an “Invasion.” If you hold this to be true, it seems to me you’d be justified to do just about anything to repel an “invasion.”

(Below–Invasion.)

Mr. White did not at any point mention poverty or the large number of poor Texans. He may have alluded to the fact of poverty, but he made repeated and clear mention of the middle class. The middle class does indeed need a government that is on their side. Yet at the same time, it is frustrating that in a state as poor as Texas, the former Democratic Mayor of a city with a near 50% child poverty rate did not discuss attacking poverty as an important way of improving education. We need a root and branch approach to education because as it says in Job 18:16

“Their roots will dry up, and their branches will wither.”

Ms. Shafto said that she has been a union member and that she supported teacher’s unions. She said that while she has seen these unions at times pursue things she did not fully agree with, that people have a right to organize and that teachers unions are often good advocates for education.

Extreme Ms. Glass said that she would get rid of truancy laws and that if kids as young as 14 wanted to drop out that they should be allowed to do so.

That is just what she said.

Mr. White said the cost of attending our Texas state universities has gone up a great deal while Rick Perry has been Governor. This is a correct assertion by Mr. White and it is not clear what Governor Perry is going to do about this problem.  Maybe if the Governor had been at the debate, his views on the matter would be more clear.

Ms. Shafto used the analogy of a “jump ball” in basketball to describe how Texas teachers are competing for bonuses. I enjoyed this metaphor. As Sojourner Truth knew, we must sell the shadow to support the substance.

(Below–Jump ball)

Far Out Ms. Glass said that local government control of schools was okay, but that Austin should stay out of the picture to the extent possible.

Yet if the issue for libertarians is the place of government in our lives, local government is still government. If any level of government can be trusted to run something as important as are our schools, why can’t government be trusted to handle a number of responsibilities? Libertarians live in a fantasy world.

All in all, the debate served a useful public purpose. I urge folks to consider all the candidates. In my view, either Mr. White or Ms. Shafto would do a good job for Texas. I will be voting for Mr. White because he will be a far better Governor for the future of Texas than Mr. Perry. 10 years of Rick Perry so far is more than enough.

(Below— The debate stage. This is an approved LWV picture. I followed the rules and did not take any pictures inside the debate hall.)

October 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What Will Houston Mayor Annise Parker Say And Do About 47% of Houston Kids In Poverty?—Where Are The So-Called Progressives And The Democrats?

A few days ago the office of Houston Mayor Annise Parker offered up the following status update on Facebook–

“Forbes Magazine says, “if you want to see a successful 21st century urbanism, hop down to Houston and the Lone Star State.” What do you think?

Here is the link to the article that the mayor was referencing. The Forbes article was written by Joel Kotkin.

Here is one thing the article says—

“Although it also attracts a large number of low-skill migrants, Houston has considerably expanded its white-collar workforce. According to the Praxis Strategy Group, Houston’s ranks of college-educated residents grew 13% between 2005 and 2008.”

Don’t worry folks—Those low-skill migrants are so busy doing our dirty work for us for low wages, that they don’t have time to bother you in any other regard. That is unless you are one of the folks obsessed with the immigration status of the people you exploit.

Houston has good points. There is a feeling that you can come here from someplace else and make a life for yourself and your family.

There is, however, another side. It is a side of Houston that Mayor Parker has never addressed  since she became Mayor earlier this year.

Here is what  a May 27 report from Houston Public radio station KUHF says about the free school meal program in Houston schools

Their (The Houston Independent School District) statistics show 47-percent of Houston children live at or below the poverty level. They say that means more of them are likely to go hungry. However there’s no poverty requirement to receive food with the summer program. They say any child can just show up and he or she will be served. When you combine the parks and school locations, there were 430 sites that served free lunch last summer. They say Texas ranks lower than most states when it comes to feeding its children and they’d like to add even more sites….”

47% of kids in poverty. I’d say that this number is an everyday crisis. We (try to) address an oil slick when it befouls the Gulf of Mexico. We make our dirty air in Houston an issue.

What about nearly half our kids living in poverty? Isn’t that a big crisis?

Mayor Parker must be a public advocate for our City of Houston, yet she must also acknowledge that we have many terrible problems in Houston that go beyond drainage and budget issues.

Mayor Parker is a Democrat who began her career in politics fighting for the human rights of gay folks. Where is her commitment to the best ideals of the Democratic Party and to the betterment of all citizens in Houston regardless of how much money they make?

It is up to liberals, progressives and Democrats in Houston to demand more of Mayor Parker.

The future of Houston involves more than pushing for more bike trails and urban rail lines.

June 2, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Houston Mayor Annise Parker Is “Happy” With Houston Economy Even As Many Live In Poverty—She Says It Is The Best Economy In The Nation

Houston Mayor Annise Parker, a Democrat, has offered up the City of Houston budget for the fiscal year ahead.

(Above–Mayor Parker)

Here is a Houston Chronicle story on the proposed budget.

In her remarks on the budget, Mayor Parker said the following—

“I’m happy that our economy is still better than that in any other part of the country, and that decisions that we’ve made over the years have kept us from the financial straits that many other cities are facing,”

That is an interesting viewpoint.

There are facts on the Houston economy and related social conditions that the Mayor left out of her assessment.

For example—

The Census Bureau estimates that as an average between 2006 and 2008,  20.5% of people in Houston lived in poverty against a national average of 13.2%.

The same data shows a child poverty rate of nearly one-third of all children.

Houston has attracted national attention for the number of people we have without health insurance. Yet while Mayor Parker has spoken out about clean air standards and NASA job cuts as federal issues that impact Houston, she had nothing to say about President Obama’s health care reform. This reform will extend coverage to millions of Americans–most of them employed but without coverage–including many people in Houston

Houston has a high dropout rate. While the numbers are disputed, as many as 47% of kids who enter Houston high schools do not finish within 6 years. Even if the numbers are not this bad, they are still bad. Is this graduation rate, and the bleak economic prospects for dropouts, part of a strong economy?

There is often high student turnover in Houston classrooms as families move from one apartment to another looking for the lowest rent.

This is an economy Mayor Parker is “happy” about? Is an economy that has higher rates of poverty than many other places one “that is better than that in any other part of the country?

What passes for liberalism in Houston often seems to ask nothing more of Mayor Parker that she be progressive on some social issues and that she talk about clean air and making Houston more “green.”

While these things matter, so do economic issues.

You can get a sense of where the Mayor is coming from her campaign web site.

Here is what Ms. Parker says about the economic history of Houston–

“Houston was built by innovators and entrepreneurs – from the oil and gas industry and the Port of Houston to NASA and the Texas Medical Center, the city’s largest provider of jobs.”

There is truth in what the Mayor says. It is also true that Houston was built by any number of low wage—and in some cases no-wage—workers. This low wage economy is still very much a part of Houston today.

In the past, Ms. Parker has advocated for Houston janitors looking for fair wages and she has advocated for better banking services for the poor.

Where is this Annise Parker? Where is the Annise Parker who started in politics as a fighter for human rights?

Better yet, where are the liberals and progressives in a Democratic city demanding that the needs of all people in Houston be part of Mayor Parker’s agenda?

May 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Jarvis Johnson For Real As He Discusses Poverty In Race Against Sheila Jackson Lee?

Houston City Councilmember Jarvis Johnson sent out the numbers you see below about the 18th Congressional District of  Texas. Mr. Johnson is running in a Democratic primary in this district to unseat incumbent Sheila Jackson Lee.

(Above–The 18th was once represented by Barbara Jordan.)

(Here is a profile of this race from the Houston Chronicle.)

From Mr. Johnson about the 18th

151,855 (23%) residents are in poverty,

66,238 (35.4%) children are in poverty

25% of women are in poverty

28 % of African Americans are in poverty

25% of Latinos are in poverty.

From the 2006-2008 American Community Survey Census

67% are high school graduates or higher compared to the 85% national average.

17% have a Bachelor’s degree or better compared to the 27% national average.

50% of housing units are owner occupied compared to the 67% national average.

50% of housing units are renter occupied compared to the 33% national average.

$37,133 is the median household income compared to the $52,175 national average.

Here is a map of the 18th District.

Okay– I’m glad Mr. Johnson is discussing poverty. Poverty is an issue that should have mattered in the race for Mayor of Houston last year. Houston is full of poverty and misery.

The question is—What is Mr. Johnson going to do about any of this?

Here is something of an issues platform on Mr. Johnson’s campaign web home. I think it has a measure of substance.

However, nowhere on Mr. Johnson’s web home can you find a detailed explanation of what he would propose to help fight poverty in the 18th district.

I think many people are tired of Congresswoman Jackson Lee’s endless publicity seeking and are open to change.

Earning the trust of voters is difficult when minority voters and urban Democrats of all kinds vote for Democrats year-after-year and our cities only seem to get worse.

Imagine if state legislators and Congressional representatives in electorally safe urban districts devoted some of their campaign war chests to voter registration? Imagine if they began to really speak the truth about the problems facing the poor and the problems facing urban America?

Here’s an article recently published in New Scientist magazine about the impact of stress, poverty, and crime on breast cancer rates of women in American urban neighborhoods.

From the article—

“But according to a novel collaboration between sociologists and biologists, the strain of living in some of the toughest neighbourhoods in the US may cause biological changes that lead directly to earlier deaths. Results from the collaboration indicate that social isolation and a fear of crime cause an overload of stress hormones that can change cell biology, sending tumours into overdrive. “We’re showing that your social environment can affect your health directly,” says Suzanne Conzen of the University of Chicago. “It goes into gene expression. That concept is really new.”

Science is finding new ways to report a story that anyone could guess—Poverty kills.

Republicans seem lost to any measure of decency on this issue. What is so frustrating is the silence of so many Democrats on the question.

I’m going to listen to what Mr. Johnson says on these issues of poverty as the campaign moves on to the March 2nd primary Election Day.

Hopefully he is for real.

Despite many disappointments with politicians,  I like to “Keep Hope Alive” as Jesse Jackson often urged folks to do.

(This is the Texas Liberal “*Texas Primary Post of the Day.* Posts do not appear each day.)

January 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Real St. Nicholas—A Friend Of The Poor And Opposed To The Death Penalty

(Blogger’s Note—This is a post from two years ago that seems worth another posting. Thanks for reading Texas Liberal.)

December 6 is the Feast Day for St. Nicholas. This is the same St. Nicholas who has become our Santa Claus.

St. Nicholas was the fourth-century Bishop of Myra. Myra was then in Greece. It is now in Turkey.

Not much is known of the life of St. Nicholas. He is said to have been generous to children and to the poor. St. Nicholas is the patron saint of children. Here is a link to a list of Saints.

St. Nicholas is said to have been born into a prosperous home. His parents died when he was a young man and he was left an inheritance. Nicholas used this inheritance to help a poor man support three daughters who otherwise would have been sold into prostitution to support the family home.

It was this gift giving that is the connection between the St. Nicholas of old and the Santa of the modern day. In the spirit of the gifts for the three children, people in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands began to give each other gifts at Christmas. Santa Claus is, after a few mutations, St. Nicholas.

Here is a link to the website of Adbusters. Adbusters suggests you should buy as little as you get away with at Christmas and offers often insightful critiques of consumer culture.

It is said Nicholas brought back to life two or three boys who had been cut-up and tossed in a brine-tub by an innkeeper. The innkeeper was going to sell the boys as pickled pork. It is not known how Nicholas performed this feat.

It is claimed God himself indicated to the people of Myra that Nicholas should be selected as Bishop. It is not clear what type of signal was sent.

Nicholas was renowned as a champion of the falsely accused. He saved the lives of three men who were going to be put to death based on a sentence that had been made on this basis of a bribe. That account is the basis of the picture above.

Many falsely accused people are put to death and placed in jail in the United States in the current day. Please click here to read about The Innocence Project.

Nicholas is the patron saint of prisoners and prostitutes. All people merit concern.  Here is a list of the many groups that can claim Nicholas as patron saint.

I notice “consumers” are not on the list. Caveat emptor!

St. Nicholas is said to have stopped a raging storm in Greece and in so doing saved the lives of many mariners. In Greece, he is the patron of sailors. Here is a link to a story about a United Nations treaty meant to protect the rights of the commerical sailors who help ship goods around the world.

Santa is about more than gift giving.  I don’t think St. Nicholas would have lined up at Best Buy at 5 AM the morning after Thanksgiving to get a bargain on a laptop.

One source for this post was The Oxford Companion To The Year—An Exploration Of Calender Customs And Time-Reckoning. It’s a great book

December 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Greenpeace Chief Naidoo Moves Focus To Climate Change And Global Poverty

Recently on Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now program, I heard an interview with the new Director of Greenpeace.

Kumi Naidoo, of South Africa, is the first African to lead Greenpeace since it was founded in 1971.

(Above is a picture of Mr. Naidoo. I don’t know who that young person is next to him.)

Here is the Democracy Now interview.

Here is a profile of Mr. Naidoo from the BBC.

The BBC story says Greenpeace is shifting its focus from whaling and nuclear power to issues of global poverty and climate change.

Mr. Naidoo asserts that climate change is a matter of basic justice and human rights.

Mr. Naidoo says wars take place because of resources depleted and shifted by climate change, and some are forced to become refugees because of changing conditions on the Earth.

Here is an excerpt from an article Mr. Naidoo wrote for the BBC—

“I have been an activist for the majority of my life, and my personal journey began at the age of 15 in apartheid South Africa where I was involved with the liberation struggle, eventually having to flee to the UK in 1987. After the release of Nelson Mandela, I returned to South Africa and was involved in strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world, both through Civicus – the global organisation aiming to boost citizen involvement in issues – where I served as secretary general for the past 10 years, and through the Make Poverty History campaign of which I was one of the founders in 2003….I have always personally connected the poverty movement with stewardship for the environment; and having served for the past year as chair of tcktcktck, the global campaign for climate action, it felt like a natural progression to move to Greenpeace… I see a need to bring together the poverty movement and the environmental movement as we face up to the greatest challenge of our time: climate change….Climate change is real and happening now. It already accounts for over 300,000 deaths throughout the world each year, according to the Global Humanitarian Forum. Not only that, but I am aware that time is very much against us. We must take radical action, and I believe that the work that Greenpeace does across the globe is vital in our understanding of climate change and also the actions that are needed.”

Science Daily writes that climate change could worsen poverty in developing nations.

Here is the Greenpeace USA web home.

I enjoy the article on the Greenpeace site called “Hounding Obama in Oslo.”  It is about Greenpeace in Oslo asking President Obama to take the lead on climate change as he accepts the Nobel Peace Prize.

Greenpeace merits our attention and support. This new focus on global poverty and climate change addresses some of the most pressing issues in our world.

( Below–The Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior.)

December 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

15.8% Of Americans Live In Poverty—This Should Be A Focus Of President Obama

The Census Bureau says 15.8% of Americans live in poverty.

This is up from a 13.2% “official” estimate that the Census Bureau announced last month.

The difference is that the new number reflects medical expenses, transportations costs, child care costs and geographical differences in the cost of living.

From the Christian Science Monitor—”Here are the alternative poverty rates, followed by the official rate in parenthesis, for groups where the gap is significant:

• Single dads: 19.8 percent (versus 14.2 percent)

• Hispanic Americans: 29 percent (versus 23.2 percent)

• People in the West: 19 percent (versus 13.5 percent)

• People in the Northeast: 16.1 percent (versus 11.6 percent)

• People age 65 and up: 18.7 percent (9.7 percent)

The poverty jump for the West and Northeast reflects higher living costs in some of the most populated areas in those regions….For one prominent group, children, poverty is about 1 percent lower using the alternate measure than the official one. But Americans under 18 had a poverty rate of 17.9 percent, higher than the national average.”

(I’m sorry, but because of ongoing browser and blog troubles, I can’t add the link to the story. The Christian Science Monitor article was written by Mark Trumbull and appeared on October 20. There are many stories on this issue on Google News if you use the search term poverty rate. Or, if you want better time for reflection, your local newspaper may well run a story on this concern in the morning. Then you can think about it at home with your corn flakes and coffee.)

It is no surprise to me that one in six Americans live in poverty. Where are people going to get good 40 hour jobs with good benefits in this society?

I’m glad that President Obama is addressing the issue of health insurance. After he makes progress on that concern, he should then address the issue of poverty in our nation.

One in six Americans in poverty here in the so-called “Richest nation on Earth.”

This tragic fact of poverty in our nation is hardly a political issue at all. Where is the President? Where are the Democrats in Congress? Where are all the bible-thumpers? Where are the so-called good people? Where are the so-called liberals?

October 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 7 Comments

Democrats Parker, Locke & Brown Must Earn Support Of Liberals, Progressives & Democrats

Recent stories in the Houston Chronicle detail tough conditions for people in Houston and all of Harris County.

These stories have reported…  

High rates of domestic abuse….

Houston leading the nation in teen mothers….

and

Low rates of health insurance in our city and area.

All these concerns are directly connected to the economic distress that is inherent to much of Houston even when we are not in a recession.

You’d think that with all three serious candidates for Mayor of Houston being Democrats, that these issues and concerns about poverty in our city would be part of the discussion as we approach Election Day.

The three candidates are Annise Parker, Gene Locke and Peter Brown. 

Health care reform is clearly a local issue and it is an issue currently on the table in Washington. When you’re a Democrat and you’re running for Mayor of a city of two million people, you’d think the prospect of health care for all would be a matter you’d address.

How can liberals, progressives and people in Houston who need some help count on any of these three Democrats when they are silent on such a big question?

Don’t believe the lie that City of Houston elections are non-partisan. Party identification can’t be made known on the ballot, but candidates are certainly free to identify themselves with a political party during the campaign. All three of the main candidates are Democrats.

If Republicans in Houston want to vote for one of these Democrats they are clearly free to do so—But these folks are Democrats. 

Ms. Parker, Mr. Locke and Mr. Brown are making calculations about who matters based on who they expect to vote in November. Other people, no matter how much in need they may be, don’t seem to count.

Liberals, progressives and loyal Democrats need to be sure they are not pushed aside in a race that they should in fact be defining.

September 8, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Money Does Indeed Grow On Trees

I bought the Texas Lottery instant ticket you see above, called Money Tree, because it confirmed my long-held suspicion that money does in fact grow on trees.

I think it is great that the State of Texas sells to its people a lottery ticket called “Money Tree.”

Money is easy to come by!

I wonder if the money on the money tree has grown on the tree like leaves, or if it became stuck to the tree after falling from the sky.

Poor people play the lottery more than other folks. States know this when they establish lotteries. But setting up a lottery is an easier way to raise revenue than taxing the people who would most able to afford paying taxes.

September 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Houston Mayoral Candidate Annise Parker Offers Plan For City Dog Pound, But Offers No Plan For Poverty And Houston’s Children

File:Annise Parker.JPG

The campaign web home of Houston mayoral candidate Annise Parker, our current Houston City Controller, has plenty of information about what Ms. Parker would do about the city dog and animal pound if she is elected.

( Above—Annise Parker. Ms. Parker is a Democrat running for Mayor of Houston.)

What you won’t find at her campaign web home is any information about Ms. Parker’s approach to poverty in Houston if she is elected. Also, you won’t find what Ms. Parker would do to improve the lives of children in Houston.   

The city dog pound is a mess and it should be made right. It is an issue our next mayor needs to address.

But what about poor folks and all the poor children we have in Houston?

Here is some extensive data on poverty in Houston for 2007.

Some of the facts—

* Just over one-third of kids in Houston under the age of 5 in Houston lived in poverty in 2007. The number for Texas as a whole was just under 27%.

* Nearly one-fifth of all women aged 35-44 in Houston lived in poverty in 2007.

* Over 8% of people in Houston had an income less than that of half the poverty level in 2007.

With the hard economic times in 2008 and 2009, it is likely that these already bad numbers are now worse today.

Given the condition of so many of our people in Houston, is it any shock we mistreat dogs? 

Ms. Parker is a decent person. She’s right that the pound needs to be fixed. Yet there are even more pressing issues in Houston that Ms. Parker does not appear to be focused on at the moment.

August 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m Willing To Sail With A Ship Of Fools

Above is the video for the song “Ship of Fools” by World Party. The song is from 1987.

If you’re old enough, you likely recall the song and the video.

The lyrics say–” I don’t want to sail with this ship of fools.”

The song is about economic and environmental exploitation.   

The lyrics also say–”You’re gonna pay tomorrow.”

Here are the full lyrics.

I understand not wanting to set sail with a ship of fools. It is often hard to understand why the world is as it is.

And we may well pay tomorrow. Our current recession seems to be a form of payment for overconsumption.

Though it is really the very poor that pay in ways we never see or give much thought about.    

That said, I’m willing to to share the ride with a ship of fools. You’re born, you do your best, and you take your chances.

We’re all connected to each other and I accept that fact. 

I’m not resigned or fatalistic. I feel I try in life.

If I do my best but go down with the ship—I have at least done my best.  I’d rather sail with a ship of fools than sail alone.

Anyway—What if I’m the fool and the rest of you are doing me a favor by letting me stay on the ship? 

Please click here to read about World Party’s Karl Wallinger.

May 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Obama’s Coalition Leaves Out The Far Right And The Most Poor

Political columnist E.J. Dionne, who gets it right often enough, writes that President Obama is creating a political coalition inclusive of all with the exception of the far right.

Mr. Dionne says this—

“Over the last week, the true nature of Obama’s political project has come into much clearer view. He is out to build a new and enduring political establishment, located slightly to the left of center but including everyone except the far right. That’s certainly a bracing idea, since Washington has not seen a liberal establishment since the mid-1960s.”

Here’s the  full column.

I think Mr. Dionne misses something here that is picked by Bob Herbert of the New York Times.

From Mr. Herbert–….

“….the Center for Labor Market Studies has compiled data showing that the recession’s effects have been “disastrous beyond belief” for some groups, including young men, men without college degrees and black men. These job losses among young workers have ominous long-term implications for American families and the economy as a whole.”

Here’s the full column. 

It’s possible that President Obama cares about the plight of the most poor. Yet I’m yet to be convinced he cares enough to do anything about that plight or to take real political risks for the poor.

Addressing the needs of the truly down-and-out would require asking some basic questions about our economic system. It would also require asking questions about our Democratic party which uses the votes of the poor to gain office to extent those votes are needed, but often does little to offer hope to the poor the rest of the time. 

President Obama is off to a good start in many respects, but there remains room for improvement. Taking political risks for the good of all Americans would be part of that needed improvement.

Please click here for an article from The Nation magazine about the need for a program of a full employment in our nation. 

May 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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