Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Name for Sale?

Did you see the report of the woman who sold her name on Ebay? A casino bought her name, which she is legally changing to goldenpalace.com. Getting funds to send her children to a golf school was apparently a primary motivation.

While embracing the freedom that lets this woman change her name, I sometimes wonder if there is anything in America NOT for sale. The "selling" of names now seems somehow commonplace. Stadiums and theatres are named for corporate owners or sponsors. Even colleges change their names for donors (well, at least one of my alma maters did!). It's not just names, either. Someone was selling tattoo space on his or her body!

This "everything for sale" mentality definitely makes me shake my head. I find it very curious that anyone would give up their individual appellation for some corporation's . Corporate monikers have robbed many sites of names more meaningful to their communities. Events are often now known by the sponsor's names. We're bombarded with advertisements in those video monitors that keep popping up everywhere. The logos that are on most items we purchase make us walking advertisements. I wonder why we don't draw more of a line. It's hard to believe that we are so seduced as to sell things, such as names, that are more than mere possessions.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I've long been interested in civil and human rights. Maybe it's not a coincidence that my birthday (December 10) is Human Rights Day. This comes from the fact that the U. N. adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on that date in 1948.

Eleanor Roosevelt was Chairwoman of the U. N. Human Rights Commission at the time and was instrumental in its writing and adoption. It is readily available online; a nice presentation is here .

It is well worth the time to read it. Article 1 is a wonderful statement on the true spirit of human rights. Read Article 5 - I'm struck that some of those fighting the war on terrorism seem to have forgotten this. Some provisions of the Patriot Act seem to violate Article 9. Articles 18, 19, and 20 are excellent and ones we should cherish, protect and strengthen here in the U.S. as well as abroad.

Here it is, more than 50 years later, and some Articles, such as 23, 24, 25 are still idealistic dreams for too many around the world. Even in the U. S., our economy has challenged progress in these areas, to say the least.

Let us work, hope and pray that this remains a vital document and that individuals and nations never lose commitment to the spirit of this Declaration.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Why I am a Liberal

I mentioned in the first post that I am an unapologetic Liberal. Maybe we Liberals don't do enough to let people know why we have this point of view.

I am a Liberal because of my faith. I see the teachings of Jesus - the concern for the poor, the inclusiveness He practiced (such as with the Samaritan woman at the well), and his commandment to Love one another - as pointing in this direction. I am amazed that this Christian Liberal viewpoint is too often ignored today. Not all Christians are Conservative or Right wing, by any means.

I am a Liberal because of the heritage of leadership from people such as Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, as well as other leaders such as Robert F. Kennedy, and the Rev. Martin L. King, Jr..

I am a Liberal because I believe Liberalism espouses programs more in line with the concerns of ordinary Americans - the middle class, working class, and working poor. I look at the policies put forth by the present administration and see mostly programs which benefit big business interests and the wealthy. While it is true that both sides are too dependent on special interests, I still feel Liberals offer more to ordinary citizens.

I am a Liberal because I see Conservatism too often associated with a repressive mode of thinking. I was really angered by the Republican campaign on "moral values". They seemed to only look at a few narrow aspects of morality - such as sexual morality - and tended to define things quite rigidly. I submit that there are other aspects to morality which I feel are more important when choosing leaders and making policies. Aren't there moral aspects to the decision to go to war and put American men and women at risk? Aren't there moral aspects to really supporting them with necessary equipment and good medical care here at home, should they need it? Aren't there moral aspects to economic policies? Aren't there moral aspects to respecting our civil liberties?

I am a Liberal because I truly do love this country, contrary to what some might suggest. I want this country to be great for all her citizens.

Blessings to all and a Happy and Blessed Easter to all who celebrate.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Poverty and Economic Inequality II

Have you noticed it seems to be harder and harder to "make it" in this country? Many work more than one job to make ends meet. It's more difficult now for small, independent stores to be successful. I've lost track of local businesses that just weren't able to continue operating. Along with giving people more economic stress, I feel we're also losing something. If everything is a franchise or a branch of a chain, we're becoming more homogenized, losing local character and color. Decisions will be made in corporate headquarters that may not be the best ideas for local situations. And of course, our choices are becoming more limited, since not all manufacturers can meet the demands of big retailers.

Here's a very thought provoking article by Richard Manning who writes from Montana. Thanks for bringing it to our attention, Birdie!

I keep saying that businesspeople need to take a cue from Henry Ford. I wouldn't call Ford a great humanitarian, but he did possess a good sense of pragmatism. When asked why he paid his workers as much as he did, he replied that he wanted them to be able to afford the cars they were making. I wish we had more of that mentality today. As many have said, the minimum wage needs to become a living wage.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Genuineness and Messy Democracy

I really appreciate genuineness. I love people who come across as real, flaws and all. A big problem with politicians is that there seems to be so little genuineness shown. Everyone seems to be afraid to be real. They might alienate some block of voters, they might alienate a special interest, or the opposition might seize on it and use it somehow against them. The conventions are so stage-managed and scripted today. The Democrats were really concerned someone might go "off message". Maybe a good "floor fight" might not be such a bad thing!

Does anyone remember the show "Mr. Sterling" (it only lasted a shortened season)? I particularly remember the episode in which the research of Sterlings' friend was taken out of context - which made the friend appear to be racist. Sterling was going to vote FOR him in a confirmation hearing, but his chief of staff said, "It's not about the truth anymore." She said it was all about appearance. I was struck by the fact that NO character in the show challenged that! It seems to be exactly like that in real life. Truth too often takes a back seat. For example, I could not get over how those "Swift Boat" veterans were given any credence at all!

I would love to see no more political posturing, a real discussion of issues, and a true desire to make things progress for ordinary Americans. Amy Gutman, President of University of Pennsylvania, champions what she calls "collaborative democracy". She says it can be messy - there can be very spirited, even heated debates. However, voices are heard and collaborative solutions are sought. Congresspeople and legislators, are you listening?

Poverty and Economic Inequality

This topic honors the appearance of John Edwards on the Today show this morning to discuss his upcoming work on poverty issues.

Many people don't seem to believe the depth of the problem. Globally, it is a day-to-day concern of so many just trying to survive. A researcher, Milanovic, found that the richest 25% of the world's population receives 75% of the world's income. I found this in the atlas on inequality maintained by University of California Santa Cruz.

Closer to home, here in the U. S., only workers in the top 20% of wage earners experienced gains in real wages between 1973 and 1997. The top 20% of American wage earners in 2000 eaerned as much as the bottom 80% (that from the Census Bureau).

Edward Wolfe reported in "Recent Trends in Wealth Ownership 1983 - 1998", a study for the Jerome Levy Economic Institute (2000), that the top 1% of houesholds controls as much wealth as the bottom 95%!

All those statistics can seem overwhelming, even for this math professor! However, that is not the human face on the problem. And there are human faces. The human faces on the problem are the faces of people who come to my Church for a food bag on Tuesdays. The human faces on the problem are those of the community residents who humble themselves to request a Thanksgiving or Christmas basket so their families will have a better holiday. The human faces on the problem are those of students who can't afford to stay in college.

What can be done? I believe in the short run, we need to continue to support comunity outreach programs and keep our safety net intact (please, decision makers do not cut from food and nutrition programs). In the long run, we need to see that people get educated and see that there is something to aspire to beyond their present experience. One thing that bothers me as an educator is the poor condition of some of our schools - mostly in the inner cities. We want our young people to go to school, become educated, productive citizens. What kind of signal are we sending to them if their schools are dilapidated?

And I just have to wonder about this great disparity between the haves and the have-nots. I think about the few that have such great incomes. How many millions are enough? Couldn't some of those in the top 1% make do with, say a yearly income of 1 million instead of 2? 5 million instead of 10? How much food would that buy? How many police officers, firefighters, or teachers (ok, I am a bit biased here) could be paid?
I also wonder if tax cuts (which even the Wall St. Journal reported benefit mostly the wealthy) when we are facing a tight budget are really a good idea.
Some months ago, the Phila.Inquirer ran an article by Professor Robert H. Frank of Cornell. The article told of the economics and psychology of why the middle class is being squeezed. I e-mailed Prof. Frank to compliment him and received a nice reply that also made me sad. He said he had gotten many very vitriolic responses to his article. I don't understand why people are so uncivil! Online, I found a article based on one of his lectures which has a lot of the same information as the Inquirer arcticle and even more goodies. You can find it online . The website which hosts it has lots of resources for understanding issues relating to economic inequality.
John Edwards will be working on these issues and has started a thread on his blog for people to post their ideas on poverty issues. I posted (under the nickname everarden - if you can find it). If you go to his site, you will see a link to the blog.

I think I now know how to do links correctly.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Third Time's a Charm?

Ok - One more time...

Women Watch from U. N.

Another Try at the Link

I didn't quite get the link in correctly - you have to use HTML. Ok Here's another try:

U. N.'s WomenWatch site

The Status of Women

At the U. N. meeting recently, held to assess the progress of women throughout the world since the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women - it seems that progress hasn't been what many would have liked. Worldwide, so many women and children live in poverty a real indication that we should be working harder to change this. Many women still do not receive even an elementary school education. By educating girls and women more, communities and countries could feel the positive impact of women better able to make decisions as caregivers and better able to create better lives for themselves and their families.

I still can't believe that the U. S. still has not RATIFIED the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. It seems reproductive rights is the stumbling block. In the meantime, the U. S. is not legally bound by its provisions and is not accountable for periodic reports on progress here!

One place to begin educating ourselves on these issues is the site maintained by the U. N.:

U. N.'s Women Watch

Sunday, March 20, 2005

More About this Blog

Here's just a few words about how this blog is set up. Feel free to make comments. To comment, click on the link below the post you wish to comment on (the link with a number followed by 'comment'). You will then get a page with a box in which to type your comment. You do not have to be a blogger to comment. Choose either the 'other' option or the 'anonymous' option.

Also, if you click on the 'view my complete profile' link in the about me section, you'll find a link to my web page and one to my e-mail.


Cinnamonblue's blog is now open! I hope to comment, post information, and start discussion on issues I feel are important in today's society. I feel the need to do this because I do not like the direction our country is heading. I am a Liberal, and an unapologetic one. During the last campaign, I was continually angered by seeing the word 'liberal' used as a derogatory term. I find this to be of much concern, for I feel it is an unhealthy political situation for one side to wear their label as a badge of honor, and let the label of the other side be trashed. I hope that more Liberals (especially any politicians who may read this) will stand up and not shrink from this label. If we do not shrink, my hope is that will be used to slur no longer. I hope to hear from many of you. All I ask is that we keep the discussion civil and treat each other with respect.