Friday, February 15, 2019

Pitchforks&Populists: Reflections On My Civil Rights Awakening

Pitchforks&Populists: Reflections On My Civil Rights Awakening: The events in Washington D.C. this week inspire me to share my story about racial justice awareness in my life of just past three quarters o...

Monday, February 11, 2019

American Capitalism Has Long Been A Hybrid With Socialism

Much gnashing of teeth lately about "Socialist" ideas being proposed by Democrats, but the usual suspects, by ill-informed Republicans and Libertarians.   Let me clue these people in.  At least for the past 80 years, damned near a century,  we've interwoven so-called socialist institutions with our capitalistic economy.  In fact, when you count government seed money, loans and bailouts, the two are inexorably intertwined in America.   And this, for the most part, has been a great idea very helpful to our version of a functioning democracy.

I was attracted to sharing this with you as a result of a re-run Daily Kos posting by the NewDeal100 in recent weeks.  So, borrowing from this great piece of research, here are some socialist services I find most popular among almost any people in their right mind. 

Military/Homeland Security They used to be private, raised by competing Kingdoms, paid by different Kings.  Interesting people like Eric Prince want to return us to that model. Intended to protect us but tragically misused for Empire building.
Highways and Bridges. In medieval Europe, they too were private, built by Kingdoms.  Our national highways were for the most part built initially by a great Republican President, D. Eisenhower.  County and municipal roads are funded locally by your tax dollars.
Public Libraries.  Institutions of higher learning used to provide these as well as the Catholic Church.  They're now publicly funded.  And they are great not just for reading and research, but they provided space for public meetings and gathering, a fantastic benefit.
Fire Stations.  Municipally funded as well.  And I recently discovered a local Delaware phenomenon.  Meeting/party rooms provided by fire departments.  Fantastic idea.
Police Protection.  Kingdoms had their own, private policing organizations.  Now they are funded by various levels of our government through our taxes.  Tragically misused sometimes to oppress taxpaying citizens. 
Customs and Border Protection.  Seems to be the one major service Republicans think is underfunded and in need of expansion.
Public Schools. Community Colleges. State Universities.  These were largely provided by Churches.  In America, we pioneered this concept through our state governments, augmented by federal tax dollars.
Student Loans.  Some public money going here but badly in need of reform. 
Postal Services.  Innovated by your Federal Government.  They were the inspiration for latter day package delivery services.  
Water and Sewer Services.  In centuries gone by you got your water out of your local stream or lake and hoped it wouldn't kill you, with the sewage dumped in it.  This is mostly provided in America by municipal and county governments.  Dams are often built by the Corps of Engineers.  And the privatization movement for water is hardly a good or new idea, now is it?  Yet, maybe close to half our water now comes from for profit, private sources.  Bad long term trend IMO.
Farm Subsidies. Lots of them covering a myriad of crops and animal agricultural endeavors.   Yes, and these folks vote mostly Republican, who are otherwise not real friendly toward subsidies.
Rural Electrification/Municipal lighting  These same rural residents can read by lamps these days and cook their food thanks to government funding of rural electric services and coops (another socialist concept).  They really hate those city people getting government services who also appreciate not having to drive or walk without light in the dead of the night.
Garbage Collection and Landfills. Often operated by municipalities and county governments, though some are operated by private contractors paid by the government through your tax dollars.  Not much need for dumping your garbage on the roadside as in yesteryear or in a hole in your back pasture. 
Social Security/Disability Insurance.  Intended to supplement your private retirement and savings, to keep you out of the government poor house.  Yes, these actually existed.  And it sure has worked.  It has worked too quite well as a banking source for Congress to use your SS contributions to fund other government programs they ran out of money for. 
Public Housing/HUD  A declining, disappearing resource in an age of unaffordable  housing but there is some left for some desperate among us for a roof over them, both locally and federally funded.
VA.  An amazing array of services for veterans for healthcare, housing, care of disabled vets and education.  Militaries, like Napoleon's sometimes proved care for old and disabled vets he called "old groaners". 
Medicare/Medicaid/Children's Health Insurance Program Health care insurance for our elders, children and very low income/disabled citizens that private insurance can't possibly finance and make money from.  Soon perhaps to be expanded to more our our fellow citizens who cannot get private insurance.
Public Hospitals, Outpatient Centers and Mental Health Services.  Good luck getting private providers to offer these services to those without funds/insurance.  Way underfunded. 
National Institute For Health/Food and Drug Administration/ USDA/ Health And Human Services/Center for Disease Control. All vital services not provided for breakthrough health research, protection from disease and deadly contamination and a wide array of public health/disease prevention services.  Remember polio? 
EPA/OSHA. Protection from toxic contamination and environmental degradation and industry created health and safety threats to employees by their employers.  Republicans hate this. 
FEMA. Federal help to rebuild communities impacted by natural disasters local governments cannot significantly provide.
Obamacare.  Government subsidies to citizens who cannot afford inflated private health insurance, which in effect has been a boon to private insurance companies acquiring new customers who previously could not afford their inflated premiums. 
SNAP Food Stamps.  Literally keeping some people and children alive when income is inadequate for people to feed their families.  
School Lunch Program. Funded and supplied by both federal and state governments, which often provide the only nutrition on school weekdays many of our children depend on to sustain their lives. 
Unemployment Insurance/Welfare/WIC. Funded by federal payroll taxes and some local taxation, to assist people who have lost their source of employment/income temporarily until they find new employment.  It included assistance in finding new employment and income for disabled people and those needing job retraining.
Small Business Administration.  Ever tried, as a struggling entrepreneur to get a business loan from a private bank without pledging your mother in law as collateral?   This is a sleeper of a service to not compete with the private sector but provide security from risk.
Consumer Protection Agency.  A pretty minimal protection from being ripped off but its a start at justice.
Federal, State Parks/Beaches.  An amazing solution to preserving unspoiled environment and a vital part of our recreation. 
Public Transportation/Airports and Air Traffic Safety.  This includes local buses, locally funded but augmented by the federal government,  locally funded airport terminals, greatly augmented by federal funding including air travel/transport security and mitigation of air disasters/accidents from our control towers.  These services are only partially funded by private airlines and bus companies fees and taxes.  Amtrak is a available in 46 states and provides commuter services daily to tens of millions of northeastern US residents. 
National Weather Service.  Provides protection from natural disasters tornadoes, hurricanes and extreme weather incidents. 

You get the idea.  Who among you believe the private sector will provide these services affordably  in the absence of your government ? 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Shared Elizabeth Warren Native Heritige Uncertainty

Senator Elizabeth Warren, candidate for the 2020 Presidential race, has a perplexing identity problem.  A native of Oklahoma, where Native American heritage abounds, has believed she has Cherokee heritage.  This belief was given to her by her family based on oral history.  I can relate and hope people can understand that family stories, often undocumented, impact most all of us.

My own family, specifically on my maternal side, has a somewhat detailed oral history.  I first heard the story from both my mother and her dad.  Stan Worthen, native of Wyoming and nearly lifelong resident of Utah, shared a detailed history.  He claimed his grandmother was a "full blooded Cherokee Indian squaw".  These were his words.  His own appearance, an olive complexion my mother shared and his small, wiry frame and high cheek bones suggested plausibility of this story.  He described his English immigrant ancestors as having met her as a young woman who migrated to the Wyoming area via the trail of tears, hooking up with Mormon migrants along the way.

I have long forgotten her name, but he indicated that both state and Mormon Church records ignored those of native heritage because of their "lesser" status.  His people never converted to the LDS church so they were further excluded from these records. But this heritage was much discussed with pride within the family, especially because of the Cherokee reputation for "high culture"; meaning, having or accepting many of the cultural attributes of Anglo settlers; the creation of villages, a non-transient agricultural economy and later, a written language.

Very late in my own life, I explored my genetic roots via Ancestry.Com and their DNA testing.  In a home filled with art depicting Native and Cherokee images and a fair amount of "Indian" jewelry and crafts, I was astounded at the DNA report.  No Native blood at all.  Lots of English ancestors and blood, but no trace of American Indian heritage.  My family story and our discussions were much like Senator Warren's family story.  Frustrating for me too that no one on my maternal side were still with us to better understand this disconnect from scientific evidence.  I gather than Senator Warren has the same verification dilemma.

I've not decided if she is my candidate, but she seems like a trustworthy leader and I am hoping people will cut her some slack on this issue.  She's never claimed tribal participation and has apologized to Cherokee Nation leadership.  Let's judge her on her overall character, accomplishments and brilliant policy recommendations to make our lives better.