Thursday, March 3, 2011

Notes 3/4/11

1. Spring!

Wild field mustard
The fields of mustard are in full bloom
Red bud bushes are glorious in their color
The tree swallows have returned in number
Mocking birds are tuning up!

2. Wisconsin

Here’s to the courageous people of Wisconsin who continue to stand for their hard won collective bargaining rights! The first line of our constitution speaks of “union” – and it is within our national character for groups of people to come together to work for the common good.
A Modesto farmer placed this sign beside his property

Isolated workers will accept low paying jobs when they are desperate - but they will not build a strong country. A country with low paying jobs does not have a strong middle class. When the people are well paid for their work they spend more and the entire economy is healthier.. When workers are forced to accept low paying jobs the economy stays depressed. In recent decades we have seen a decline in the expectation that each new generation will automatically thrive economically.

Public employees and workers in Wisconsin and across the nation are not asking for irresponsible wages – only for the right to continue collective bargaining – to negotiate with their bosses as a group what their wages and working conditions will be.

Teachers protesting reduction in funding for school programs

Teachers in America spend a minimum of 5 years becoming trained for their profession, and continue taking courses and attending workshops for their entire career.. Prior to collective bargaining teachers lived on the margin of the economy – with no hope of participating fully in the middle class. I have been a member of the California Teachers Association for over 35 years. Year after year we have negotiated collectively for a reasonable salary, for secure health and retirement, and for teaching conditions that would benefit the students and community. If that had not been available to me, I would now be struggling to provide for the financial security and health care of my wife and I, or more likely I would have left the profession. The issue is about the willingness of a community to support quality education.

Sign in Portland Oregon - found on walk through a river docking area

Between 2001 and 2009 the US has lost a vast number of factories. Most of these companies have not gone out of business - they are now outsourcing 32% of all manufacturing jobs in America that existed in 2000. Who is to blame? Large companies wanting to maximize profits go to where labor is cheap? Does that mean that American workers should accept third world salaries and living conditions to keep companies here? No! It is an example of the fact that we now live in a global economy - old solutions will no longer work. We must change our approach! Here are two examples of changes that we must make to stay competetive: 1. We must develop and produce products that the rest of the world wants. America must constantly innovate to stay competitive in this world economy. 2. We must train workers for competitive participation in the new economy. The key is to make quality, affordable, relevant education available for all. Those without education will become the new poor.

The way our national financial crisis makes me feel - Sign in Pescadero California

An effective solution to the current financial problems in state and local governments is to raise additional tax revenue. Since early human societies reasonable taxation has been recognized as the necessary way to finance the common good. We need to maintain and expand our national infrastructure, we must be willing to support public employees if we seek to retain a quality work force, we must recognize that a quality way of life must be funded collectively. I don’t like to pay taxes – but I like even less to see my country decay for lack of adequate funding. I advocate a higher tax rate for those making the highest incomes. In the past 30 years, the average after-tax income for the top income 1% of Americans increased by 176%, while the poorest increasingly struggle to make ends meet. Powerful lobbies in Washington are looking our for the rich and powerful - but who is looking out for the poorest and neediest in our society?

See what average American's say about how they suggest balancing the budget:

We hear so much about the national debt -and the effect of taxation . For a good summary go to WikIpedia

Wall Poster - JLKing Middle School - Berkeley Ca

America must stop thinking of ourselves as a country in isolation – We cannot go back to some imagined form of government developed in 1776. We are now in serious competition in a global economy, in global politics. Living in a taxophobic country has caused our way of life to slowly decay. The countries with which we are competing are spending tax money on developing infrastructure, maintaining a quality education system, providing health security for all people... and we are talking of cutting taxes - which will lead to even less support for those programs that we need to stay competitive as a nation.

Sign I found hiking along the Rogue River - Grants Pass Oregon

Well funded financial interests and political groups in America today are seeking to engineer public opinion. These are the so called "news services" that provide little factual news and emphasize their particular bias and opinion. The play upon the fears and prejudices of the American population to achieve their ends. Those who listen to such opinion programing are led to confuse what they are hearing with factual information. Of course this is why the financial interest and political groups spend last amounts of resources to create such a system. As I said last week, it can be hard to learn the truth. On my computer, I have bookmarks on 5 very different news sources. Daily I compare the headlines on each and read a bit of key stories. The difference in content and emphasis is amazing!