Today we examine the shameless reality that we have come to accept as Life in America. Moreover, we examine our Congressional Representatives’ records in (not) supporting legislation that might address this reality. We include an update on Puerto Rico, a plan to solarize the Santa Fe airport and end with a bit of humor from Trevor Noah.
First, click here for events and actions for this week with a Roundhouse Activism meeting on Th from 3-5, a New Energy Economy Panel at 5:30pm on Th and a Red Nation Two Day Conference on Sat and Sun.
Puerto Rico Update: It is shameful that as Puerto Rico continues without food, water or power, it is virtually entirely ignored by FEMA. Instead, our President’s focuses on whether football players stand or kneel, It took a full week for the US to finally send a single plane with relief supplies to Puerto Rico with that relief arriving only today. One plane in one week while 3.4M people are without power, water, or food. While we rush to the aid of Americans in Texas and Florida (GOP states), a week passes and absolutely no movement to support the even more devastated Puerto Rico. Maybe one of Trump’s aides should point out to him that Puerto Rico is actually part of the US, not that that should matter. Just another manifestation of white supremacy at work in Washington. Entirely embarrassing. Click here for a CNN report on Puerto Rico.
Not Much Notice on This, But: WE NEED YOUR HELP TODAY TO SECURE THE SOLARIZATION OF THE SANTA FE AIRPORT
The City cannot meet its commitment to carbon neutrality by 2040 or it’s goal of 100% renewables for all City facilities by 2025 – if it does not include the solarization of the airport in its new Santa Fe Airport Master Plan. The Airport Master Plan is set to be approved this Wednesday, September 27th at City Council. The City memo calling for the updated Airport Master Plan states that the purpose of the Plan is to “identify development objectives for all areas of airport property including airfield configuration, facility development, and land use over a 20 year planning period”. The draft Plan under consideration identified approximately $25 million in capital improvement needs at Santa Fe Municipal Airport in the next two years and articulates short, mid, and long-term development opportunities. Solarization of the airport is conspicuously absent from this plan. Retake and New Energy Economy are both in touch with the resolution sponsors (Maestas, Ives, and Harris) to have solar added with a $250,000 fiscal impact tied to it. We know that moving solar and the environmental and financial costs associated with it – requires hard commitments and investments – not just lip service.
With 1% of that $25 million going to support solarization, the City could back its renewable goals with meaningful action. It is one thing to have bold goals, but if they are not supported by action, then the goals are utterly meaningless. Please reach out to your Council representative and implore them to insist on including solarization in OUR Airport Master Plan. Sign the petition to the resolution sponsors and the Mayor. Give them a quick call or send them an email and let them know you support the resolution amendment proposed to add solarization to the airport plan.
Retake Expands Focus and Begins Campaign to Demand the Impossible. Over the next two or three weeks, we are going to go on a journey, a journey to an America far different from the one in which we live. We are going to imagine a world entirely possible but utterly outside mainstream political discourse. The next several issues will get into the weeds and explore what could be if we envisioned it and then if we willed it. At the end of this post, we provide a humorous video from The Daily Show on Donald Trump and his pathetic obsession with the fundamental question of the day: to knee or not to knee? Has he heard of the First Amendment?
What Vision Looks Like
Bill Ayers’ book, Demand the Impossible, points out in so many ways how we have been subtly led to accept an unending number of insults to our sense of justice. Somehow these realities have been accepted as being just part of the fabric of life in America, things that just are part of the landscape like so many mountains and lakes, the immutable reality of America. But are these things immutable? Are these things entirely impervious to change? Let’s look at some of the affronts to our senses:
- A wealth gap that has reached an unspeakable level due to political tinkering with wage laws and tax laws and the ever rising cost of core human needs. Beginning in 1970, Democrats and Republicans alike began embracing neoliberal policies that were built on the premise that if you didn’t tax the wealthy, they would spend more and stimulate the economy. Well, how well is that working for you?
- Obscene levels of incarceration almost exclusively focused on black and brown men. A Bureau of Justice Statistics analysis showed that if current incarceration rates remain unchanged, 32 percent of black males and 17 percent of male Latinos born in 2001 can expect to spend time in prison during their lifetime. Why you may ask? A study in New Jersey documenting traffic stops from 1989–91 found that 72 percent of drivers stopped and arrested were African-American, while only 14 percent of cars had a black driver or occupant. State data for the same period showed that blacks and whites had the same rate of traffic violations. A study in Maryland a few years later showed similar results: 17 percent of traffic-code violators were black, but 72 percent of those stopped and searched were black. Click here to read a truly insightful analysis of the racial bias of our criminal justice system. And while Black Lives Matter and others rail against this injustice, what has changed?
- Decaying public school systems with vastly underpaid teachers and under-funded school district budgets while housing costs segregate the poor and consign them to the worst schools, while wealthy children attend private schools or public schools in more affluent communities have their budgets swelled with support by parents with the means to provide it. In Washington DC, the public schools spend $11,965 per pupil on education and Sidwell Friends, a private school in Washington DC, spends over $37,000 per pupil. This is the school where President Obama, Clinton and Nixon’s children attended school. What if we spent $37,000 per child on all our children, not just on the children of our Presidents?
- Young adults are saddled with mountains of debt after attending public universities, schools that before 1970 were largely free or very close to it. In 2016 the average college graduate left school with over $37,000 in debt. The average graduate from medical school left owing over $160,000. What if college were free and our young did not graduate to a mountain of debt that would take decades to repay?
- Seniors making choices between paying for rent, utilities, food or the drugs that will keep them alive. According to the National Council on Aging, over 25 million Americans aged 60+ are economically insecure—living at or below 250% of the federal poverty level (FPL) ($29,425 per year for a single person). These older adults struggle with rising housing and health care bills, inadequate nutrition, lack of access to transportation, diminished savings, and job loss. And among other seniors, many are just one illness away from poverty. What if, instead of constantly threatening to limit Social Security (the sole source of income for 90% of retired Americans), we actually strengthened it and offered a significant increase in payments to those receiving the lowest levels of monthly support? What if?
The list of the affronts to our moral sensibilities is literally endless. And yet we have become numbed to feel that there really is no alternative or no way to change course. You can rail against Trump all you want, but Obama deported more immigrants than any president and drilled for more oil than any President and he did next to nothing to address most of the bullets above. It has been a bipartisan effort fueled by both parties who have catered to the corporate sector and 1% interests for almost 50 years. It is as if we live in a policy straightjacket and in doing so, our imaginations rot.
Over the coming days, we will examine a wide variety of issues through a far wider lens, opening up possibilities that are not now even part of the conversation. But before that discussion, how about we reflect upon eight bills that are very much on the table, the People’s Platform developed by OurRevolution, Working Families Party and Progressive Democrats of America. There is a scorecard that depicts how our two Democratic House Representatives fare in terms of their co-sponsorship of these eight bills. As you can see below, the results are not compelling, 25% scores for each of them. That is not progressive leadership.
This is not bold leadership. If you want an example of leadership, one example is from Congressperson Barbara Lee from Oakland. In 2001, she was the ONLY representative in the House or Senate to vote against the use of force in Iraq. By a vote of 98-0 in the Senate and 420-1 in the House Representatives, the Congress voted to engage in that war. Barbara Lee was the only one to resist. That is leadership.
Our Democratic House Reps are in very safe seats, with large progressive constituencies and yet their absence of leadership on these eight bills is compelling. I’d like to encourage all of you to begin contacting Rep. Lujan and Rep. Lujan Grisham and ask when they might begin to show some leadership and co-sponsor more of these eight bills. Ask them or their aides, why they think continuing to drill is a good idea? Why can’t we finally regulate Wall St? At the very least, ask them why can’t our Representatives join forces and each co-sponsor the bills the other has already co-sponsored. Click here to get phone and email information on our Congressional Representatives. Click here for information on the eight bills that comprise the People’s Platform and to see that our Representatives are near the bottom among all Democrats in support for these bills.
We close with a very funny and yet poignant commentary on Donald Trump and his pathetic concerns about whether football players kneel. Maybe he should take a bit of time to explore why only one damned plane has brought relief to Puerto Rico.