Sunday, 2 November 2008

get out to vote

there will be more on voting soon. but i was just thinking back to our last election day. my life was SO totally different. raisingdc was winding down, or at least we thought! lindsay and i were in constant touch with the nations poor; racism; lack of access to care; tons of social services; etc. it was an intense time. our congress and senate and presidency were held by the same party and had been for 6 years. the wars we are fighting now, we were fighting then. the housing market was HOT and people were talking, barely, about a housing bubble. the deregulation sailing through congress had created the environment that led to our sub-prime mortgage crisis which then led to our financial meltdown. but on nov. 7 2006 things didn't look as bleak as they do in 2008.

at any rate, i thought my post from that election day was interesting, and worth sharing again.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

election day

today is election day and many of you will be able to cast votes that really matter. we here in the district of columbia get to vote for a figurehead mayor and a city council that aren't able to control our taxes or really the distribution of our district budget; that is done by a special committee of the house made up of NO ONE that lives in this city. even still, raisingdc is endorsing will cobb for ward 6 council member. he is not establishment or beholden to the democrats. he also hasn't been "reforming dc government for 20 years". seriously, we have no idea why that guy would put that in the electoral briefing book. dc is not doing too well under your care mr. wells. plus, cobb supports community oriented policing (a regular soap box of mine), improvement of the dc school system and expansion of charter schools. he seems to have more of a concrete plan than wells. anyway...

today matters for all of us.

for raisingdc, it really matters. it will affect our jobs. but more importantly, it will directly affect the lives of jennifer and paulette...or at least the rest of the kids that still live at hopkins. so much of what jennifer and paulette have suffered is due to the dysfunction within our society. their fragment of OUR society is so marginalized that our worlds seem completely different. But we live in the same city. they are americans. i can't help but feel like we, the wonks and the voters, failed them. we owe it to these kids to TRY to make this different. and i can't help but think that this population is marginalized because it is hard to fix, and it is much easier to just believe they are bad, rather than that they are sick and abandoned. psychically it is much easier to absolve ourselves of our responsibility and believe that poverty happens because people are bad rather than we failed them. frankly, i believe that paulette is a representative of this entire population. in her, we can see how many ways we've failed. for years this part of all of us was told they were subhuman, unworthy, bad, lazy, dumb. too many really believe this. and it will take a TON of holding therapy to get this portion of society back to where it can function.

the raisingdc homestead is 5 blocks from where paulette and jennifer grew up. their household lived on $678/mo. blocks away we live extremely comfortably on well over $100k (our combined incomes). fear, transactional sex, drugs, violence, rodents, filth, disrespect, defiance are the norm at the housing project they grew up in. fire alarms would go off in the middle of the night for hours, for no reason. men would bust into the girls home and chase them (supposedly never touching them...) they had environmental induced asthma, which cured itself within 10 days of their staying here.

i am not sure what government could do to help these kids, but drastic reforms are needed. it is ridiculous to me that we spend on average $23,542 per year per inmate in prison (according to the federal bureau of prisons) and this family of three was living on just over $8k a year. with poverty being the most powerful predictor of juvenile delinquency and victimization, why not place that investment in preventative measures? fix the schools in the inner cities. provide housing that did not become the petrie dish to the most base of sociology.

after spending 2 hours in a family therapy session, and yet another workless day trying to figure out how to help paulette over come this muck, there is part of me that just hopes that freedom can run though all americans. that we can ALL somehow become freer to enjoy safety and security; have access to health care and education; and that all of us can be viewed as american and as equals and brothers and sisters in a human family. my socioeconomic status was not created by my righteousness/wickedness, or even the righteousness/wickedness of my fathers.

the number of poor people in america is on the rise. but even more dramatic, is that the demographic is changing: they're kids. approximately one-fourth of all children in america are living in poverty. and if he preset trends continue, the figure will reach and appalling one-third within 10 years. and we are the wealthiest of all nations?

a professor at byu that i have grown to love (and lindsay loved as a student) postulated that "perhaps the central moral problem of our time is primarily economic or materialistic, involving behaviour that is more often than not perfectly legal and socially acceptable." he went on to say that " a major point from the parable of the widow’s mite seems to be that moral judgment over the use of money is based not on how much we give, but on how much we keep for is no longer possible to think or even pretend that material acquisitiveness can be morally neutral. never before has it been so clear that the earth's capacity to sustain life is limited. never before did humankind realize that a high standard of living must be purchased at the cost of depletion of finite resources and pollution of a fragile environment."

please vote. we did. look how happy it made us.


vfg said...

I appreciate the morality of materialism quote. Could you identify which "BYU professor" so I can more comfortably pass it on?

teabelly said...

sorry, i should have included that in the first place. it is from a article that appeared in the BYU magazine in september 1990 by richard e johnson. it is, for some reason, really hard to get a copy of. but i think i did own it electronically once. i will look for it.

it is called "Inequality: The have and the have nots"

probably was one of the primary building blocks to my realizing i could connect my liberal political views and my mormonism.

KamilahNYC said...

so interesting how different life is now and especially so with Obama as president. What a beautiful thing for the kids of DC to see the Obama family living in the white house....I get chills thinking about it.