Saturday, November 25, 2006

Government marketing marriage?

The US Government has decided to market marriage with taxpayer money. If there are clear benefits of marriage, then perhaps promoting it will benefit society. With 4/10 children born out of wedlock in 2005 ,would marriage benefit these children? Does it make a difference when a majority of these births are not to teenage mothers, but women in their 20s?

Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution claims there are
Four Simple rules to not be poor ( AKA end poverty ) :

1) Graduate from High School
2)Get a job
3)Get married
4)Have a child

The Federal government will spend $100M per year for 5 years promoting marriage, $17B a year for welfare, $35B year for food stamps. The theory is if all those unmarried with children got married - and took on characteristics of those currently married - the poverty rate would drop by 30%. Children would gain because two parent heterosexual and homosexual homes are more stable. Children thrive in an environment low in conflict, which usually have sufficient incomes.

This is quite an undertaking by the Federal Government, because currently there is more emphasis on marriage than education in welfare laws. While all this occurs 10M Americans went hungry , 38M intermittently hungry in 2005. Would marriage have saved them or not?

In reality work,education, and childcare would reduce poverty greater than a marriage certificate. 80% of the fathers of children out wedlock make a median income of $16K, only $4K more than the Federal poverty level. Getting these men a decent education and assisting them in doing so would reap greater benefits than marriage.

Getting married will also not reduce odds of domestic violence. A person does not change their internal characteristics indefinetely once they gain a marriage certificate.

The funding for this project ( $100M annually ) has come from refugee resettlement and Native American development projects. I would rather the money be returned to these programs than squandered on a social experiment.

Is this idea really in existence to reduce poverty or promote a social conservative perspective of marriage? I have no qualms with marriage, just the idea that it is a cure-all for poverty. And if it is a cure-all will this notion be applied to those who cannot currently marry - both homosexual and polyamorous?

When a homosexual couple adopts, would their child be better off if they were married? What about bisexuals who get together after having a child with another partner? If this experiment proves correct, that marriage is of utmost importance to reducing poverty for children, social conservatives will be in a predicament regarding homosexual couples. They would have to support them marrying, while denouncing their relationship. How odd reality can be!

And if two incomes are better than one - what about five? What's wrong with a polyfidelitous relationship if it is stable and provides loving nurture to its offspring? That is an avenue few have thought to explore and truly should. These groups exist in America because we are a free nation. To promote only one form of marriage using taxpayer money is not American. You would have to promote all those that work to reduce poverty under this program.

But if you don't agree with my few points, an organization that supports the unmarried has a few more.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Illegal Minnesotans

Listening to Governor Tim Pawlenty on MPR yesterday, a caller stated his fear for undocumented immigrants. He didn't want illegal immigrants or their children to get his entitlements or tax money. This caller also attacked the Governor for not deporting illegal immigrants and their families.

If only the situation was simple - it isn't. Immigration is not a black and white issue - very few things are. If we wanted to solve the problem of undocumented workers using the criteria of this caller - we would see this:

1) Children of undocumented workers no longer able to attend school.

What makes these children different? If they are born in the US, they are citizens. But if we punish them for their parents, we create a new class in our society. We become like India and create our own class of "untouchables." While it will not be as dramatic as a caste system, it will have negative repurcussions nonetheless.

2) We force local police, especially Minneapolis and Saint Paul, to enforce Federal immigration laws

The Minneapolis police force is not the INS. If they become the INS, it will increase crime. Crime is the sole purpose for a local police force, unless you feel immigration a bigger issue than rape, drug use, and homicide.

If you were an illegal immigrant, would you EVER call the police if you thought they would deport you? Would you hide in fear if you thought the police were after you? If you witnessed a crime, you would pretend you never saw it.

What to do about illegal immigration?

Immigration has occurred for as long as human beings have existed. All Americans are immigrants, because these are truly Native American lands. And even the Native Americans emigrated here from Europe and Asia. We outnumbered natives and therefore earned the "right" to their lands.

There is not much value in undoing what American ancestors have done with our current generation paying the price. But their is a possibility to accept those who are here, either by being born or immigrant.

Ben Powers, Constitution Party candidate for Senate this year, stated that if all the unborn children had been born rather than aborted - we wouldn't have a worker shortage. Therefore undocumented workers were of no value and should be deported.

His logic is insane, but it does shed light on a solution. The primary source of illegal immigration is Mexico. What are solutions?:

1) Mexico needs jobs

Why not prevent the problems that lead to them leaving their homeland? Would YOU want to leave where you had been born, raised, and where you feel at home? No, but if you had no job and a family to support - you would.

2) Mexico needs family planning

If all women in this world had access to family planning, we could reduce the population growth to below the replacement rate. This would alleviate pressure on economic and environmental constraints. Mexico's current population: 106M In 2030 it will be 1432M

3) Mexico needs higher taxes

At 19.8% taxes, Mexico could be doing more. America's taxes stand at 26.8%. A lot of people make a claim that Mexico and latin America are moving to the left. With such low taxes and few services, why wouldn't they? America may not like it, and both political parties in our homeland work to stop their left from winning. ( But they cannot buy votes as easily as they do here. )

You can't educate all children on the free-market system. Nor can you build roads solely using that method, while ensuring transit to those unable to own or use cars.

Their government should be serving their people, not those who do not want to pay taxes.

If Mexico alleviated population growth and focused on its own people, it could drastically reduce those leaving for America.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Midwest Conference of Spiritual Progressives

Politics and religion. The left-leaning elements in our political culture despise the idea of religion or spiritually intertwining in secular politics. But what secular politics is devoid of is a solution to living a life beyond a pursuit of money and power. They don't seem to see a problem in our society, and the problems are vast.

Rather than fearing those we do not know, Spiritual Progressives seek a world based on radical hope. The enemy is not the Republican Party but the cynical realism that has entrenched both major political parties. It is that realism that prevents the hope we all carry inside us of a better world.

Do we want to live in a world where we base the value of our life and others on material wealth? Should friendships and relationships be based on what they can do for us? Sadly, they are. This is a tragedy, and we need to refocus on the value of each human being - regardless of how society currently interprets worth. It is time for humanity to seek its full potential.

What is the purpose of the Spiritual Progressive movement? :

  • We are a grassroots movement creating a culture of purpose and meaning deeper than the mere pursuit of money and power.
  • We are working to reshape our economic, political, and social life in accord with a new bottom line of love, compassion, community, fairness, peace, and awe and wonder at the universe.
  • We invite everyone who believes in the power of love and generosity to join us in this process of healing and transformation.
When I tell my friends that Israel and Palestine have the possibility to live peacefully together they scoff. Nonviolent social change is a difficult thing for "realists" to grasp. They forget the power can be wielded not by the sword, but radical ideas fought sans lethality and excess violence. They forget Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. , and dare I say Jesus. There are many more unrecognized who have also paid the ultimate price without any fame. There will also be many more who take on such an important role.

Many participants were very hopeful and optimistic we would make a difference. But two weeks ago, there were only 40 people registered for this event. They were at least 500 people packed into the Wesley United Methodist Church. I think the Democrats winning by such a large margin in the election has empowered many in the Progressive community.

Many Democrats I spoke to prior to the election were very hurt, angry, and upset over the direction our nation was heading in. They wanted things to change with this election, and were doubtful that they would. I always told people that there was hope, that things would get better.

There were many cynics, and still are. I for one am doubtful the Democrats will embrace the ideals of the New Bottom Line this year. That is where activism comes in. That is where prayer comes in. That is where cultivating lovingkindness comes in. That is where hope will transcend such "realities."

Does it really matter which party embraces Spiritual Progressives? If the Republican Party stood by our values in 2010 or 2025 - it would be a victory for humanity. The movement has begun, please join us.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Chris Stewart - Racist comedian or just Racist?

The newest member of the Minneapolis School Board thinks it funny to attack Tammy Lee with racial-based comments on a mock website.

I am rather sickened by the site, but perhaps many feel the same about white candidates. Race should not determine who one votes for, but issues. Some choose to identify themselves in a particular race ( or religion, class, party) rather than on the side of humanity. I consider myself a Minnesotan first, an American second, but interconnected to all beings on Earth.

There is always bias, be it subtle or glaring, in everyone for those outside our limited experiences and knowledge. Personally, I would like to see more community activists in general who fit better the communities they serve. But more often than not, community and political organizations in Minneapolis appear whiter than the areas they represent.

Chris Stewart has already shown us his perspective. Perhaps he made the "satire" page because Sabo didn't endorse Keith Ellison, and assumed it was racist. He claims to want a better Minneapolis, and I hope we all truly do in Minnesota. Our city has residents of all races and backgrounds, most of which Chris seems clueless about. Our democracy is more than about ones skin color or other such tribalism mentality. A better Minneapolis would include the perspective of all these citizens, not solely a racial-based viewpoint.

Comment has come from neither the Stewart campaign or the DFL.
( I thank the Lloyd Leta blog for posting about this and further information )

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vote YES! Minnesota!

Vote Yes for Better Roads and Transit.

Why shouldn't one vote Yes?

It is unfortunate, but this imposes rules on the Minnesota budget by adding it to the state constitution. Other states like New Jersey have done this to such an extent, that their legislature has no say over the state budget. Minnesota should not go down that road, though this bill is only the first to do so.

Why SHOULD you vote YES ?

Republicans in Minnesota and in the Federal Government have shown contempt for fiscal sanity. They play around with budgets using transit and other such projects as wedge issues. By voting YES you ensure that transit has stable funding - something that has never occurred in Minnesota History! It would mean a decent transit system would be built, and Minnesotans wouldn't have to depend on foreign oil forever.

Pawlenty has also decided that loans are a better way to fund our highways than consistent funding. Of course, he's a Republican and not a fiscal Conservative, therefore he has no qualms doing this - or supporting this constitutional ammendment. It makes him and his party look like the "good guys" though they did nothing to shift MVST funding to roads and transit. They wanted Democrats to do the heavy lifting and get this bill passed.

Want to know where to vote?

Don't support transit?

If all current bus riders immediately began using single-occupant vehicles, an additional two lanes would be needed on the busiest corridors to accommodate the new traffic at current congestion levels. Of transit riders, 81% report using transit to get to work and 75% ride during rush hour.

Who should YOU vote for ( based on YOUR preferences) ?

Minnesota Public Radio has a decent "Select a candidate" program that I highly recommend. They aren't two-party centric, but contain major and minor parties.

Jay Pond and Keith Ellison appear to be identical on the issues. Of course they are both progressive, as is this district, but Keith has DFL endorsed. ( which Jay will not seek)

But Tammy Lee does have 24% of probable voters. Unfortunately, Democrats have this "spoiler" mentality and will not consider her because Alan Fine ( who truly has no chance in this race) could beat their candidate. It will be interesting to see the votes come in.