The other day, I commented on how wonderful it was to see four former presidents joining President Barack Obama in celebrating the great civil rights progress that was made in the 1960’s. America was changed, the United States is a better country but the struggle for true equality regretfully is far from being over.
I was delighted to see a statement in the Austin American Statesman on the fact that the struggle needs to continue. An article was coauthored by the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus and they touched briefly on very serious issues that still must be addressed. They state that as Texans:
“We rightly demand a fair system that provides meaningful freedom and opportunity for each of us….
“Instead we see a fixed system that consistently puts well-connected millionaire donors and corporations ahead of middle class working Texans. We still a school finance system that is so unfair and inadequate that most Texas school districts are compelled to sue the state over it.”
“We see a sustained attack on health services, women and the poor, along with efforts to revise history, whitewashing the record and ignoring the plain fact that Texas leads the nation in its percentage of uninsured residents.”
“And in clear echoes of 50 years ago, we see repeated efforts to make it harder for Texans to exercise the most fundamental right of all – the right to cast their ballots.”
The senators are very correct in pointing out that so much still needs to be done. I certainly hope and pray that Texans will continue to work for a more just and equitable society.
Onward through the fog.
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The impasse in Congress is not just a terrible economic threat to the country but it is also keeping our representatives from dealing with other major issues.
We need immigration reform, we need to reform the tax system and we are sorely in need of an increase in the minimum wage. I was happy to see that this issue has been getting a lot of attention over the last few months. A nationwide one-day strike by fast food workers produced a lot of good but not nearly enough. The Obama Administration has called for a minimum wage of $9 an hour but if you compare that to the minimum wage in 1968 when it was $10.77, when viewed in current dollars, the Administration’s push is inadequate. A study by the Economic Institute found that a $2.85 increase in the minimum wage would generate $32 billion in economic activity and translate to roughly 140,000 new jobs. Not taking this action is a real tragedy.
I don’t know the accuracy of the 1% and the 99% but, like everyone else in this country who gives any thought, there is a terrible disparity and an ever-widening gulf between the affluent and the poor. And it is not just the people at the very bottom of the economic barrel but hard working blue collar people as well. It is hard for many of them to keep up with the fast moving economic changes in our society. Ten or twenty million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. The one bright spot on the scene is that most of the poor now have a guarantee of health care thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The law was passed by a majority of both Houses, signed by the president of the United States and declared constitutional by the Supreme Court, and yet the right wing media continues to attack and misrepresent the facts connected with this extraordinarily important change in direction of our country.
I am proud of the fact that the Catholic Bishops of the United States first called for national health care in 1919. Did you hear that? 1919! And they have been calling for it for 93 years. We are almost there!
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“Goodbye. Be sure to study hard.”
Every morning all across the country millions of parents send their small children off to elementary school. The parents may drive them. They may go by bus. They may be close enough to walk. Whatever the case, the parents relax and know that their children are well cared for and will be home in the middle of the afternoon when they return to their routine established for the latter part of the day.
That routine is so common, so well established that the vast majority of parents hardly give it a thought. “Hi Billie…Here is a cup of hot chocolate. What did you learn today?”
Last week, however, that routine was tragically, catastrophically interrupted for several dozen families. In addition, millions of other families, as President Obama said, hold their children more tightly as they return from school. Millions of words have already been written about the agonizing, horrifying event in Newtown and I would not foolishly attempt to add anything to the conversation.
There is no meaning in this! It is just raw tragedy and humans have learned to live through and survive tragedy since Adam and Eve got on the wrong side of their Creator. However, last Friday’s situation grabs at the heartstrings of everyone. My guess is that more than half of the country’s population, and I certainly hope that I am right, actually broke out into tears as they received the agonizing information (you can’t call that news). We cry and cry, some crying hysterically. We try to pull meaning out of it but no meaning is there. Eventually our sobbing settles down and we attempt to move forward all the while holding on to each other in a desperate hope that the whole thing is a bad dream. It was not a bad dream!
Let’s pray together for all the families whose lives have been upended by this situation. Let’s pray in thanksgiving for all of us who live our lives rather safely on a day by day basis. Finally, let’s pray that our country will attempt to confront a terribly destructive situation that other developed nations do not seem to experience to the extent that the United States of America does. Should we begin to question ourselves?
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Photo by Nicole Grimes
For the last month, the media have been filled with a conflict which is usually framed as a conflict between the Catholic bishops and the Obama Administration. Three of the Republican candidates picked this up and accused the Obama administration of waging war on the Catholic Church. We are certainly witnessing a clash in values on this issue between the Administration and the Roman Catholic moral traditions but calling the differences “a war” is a cheap political shot.
The Administration made a terrible political blunder and lately is trying to correct it. The issue is that new directives are demanding that all employers must provide insurance that would cover contraceptives and some form of abortion. The bishops are not the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is a faith community of approximately 65 million members divided into every imaginable subgroup, but what unifies most of them is the appreciation that the United States has always guaranteed them and all others freedom of religion. Millions of those Catholics are now very angry and unless the present impasse is adequately corrected, it will have a measurable effect on the November election.
An editorial of the National Catholic Reporter said it well. “Catholics of all stripes have voiced their deep concerns. The opposition to the decision runs across all the usual divides – left and right, conservative and liberal, orthodox and progressive – all have made it clear: we might disagree with our bishops and each other over the issue of contraception but this ruling seeks to force our church to violate its conscience on a serious matter. Some of the voices that spoke the strongest words and risked the most on advocating healthcare reform now see a threat to the church inherent in the roll out of the reform.”
I understand that.
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