Sunday, 30 September 2012

California Governor Signs Bill Banning 'Ex-Gay' Therapy For Kids

Truth Wins Out
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASESunday, Sept. 30, 2012
Contact: Wayne Besen, Executive DirectorPhone: 917-691-5118E-Mail:
TWO Praises Gov. Jerry Brown For Signing Bill Banning 'Ex-Gay' Therapy For Kids
Law Is A Historic Step In Stopping Child Abuse Disguised As Therapy, Says TWO
Burlington, Vt. -- Truth Wins Out praised California Gov. Jerry Brown today for signing a bill into law today that prohibits minors from being subjected to an abusive form of treatment known as 'reparative therapy.' The law goes into effect January 1, 2013.
"This bill bans non-scientific 'therapies' that have driven young people to depression and suicide. These practices have no basis in science or medicine and they will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery," Brown said in a statement to The San Francisco Chronicle.
"This is a historic day that protects LGBT youth from child abuse disguised as genuine therapy," said Truth Wins Out's Executive Director Wayne Besen. "We thank Gov. Brown for signing legislation that can serve as a model for similar bills across the nation."
Senate Bill 1172 was authored by Senator Ted Lieu and co-sponsored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Equality California, Gaylesta, Courage Campaign, Lambda Legal, and Mental Health America of Northern California, and supported by dozens of organizations including Truth Wins Out.
"Governor Brown today reaffirmed what medical and mental health organizations have made clear: Efforts to change minors' sexual orientation are not therapy, they are the relics of prejudice and abuse that have inflicted untold harm on young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians," said Clarissa Filgioun, Equality California board president. "We thank Senator Ted Lieu and Governor Brown for their efforts in making California a leader in banning this deceptive and harmful practice."
Added NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell: "Governor Brown has sent a powerful message of affirmation and support to LGBT youth and their families. This law will ensure that state-licensed therapists can no longer abuse their power to harm LGBT youth and propagate the dangerous and deadly lie that sexual orientation is an illness or disorder that can be 'cured.' "
Truth Wins Out is a nonprofit organization that fights anti-LGBT extremism. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating and fighting for LGBT equality.

Monday, 24 September 2012

tuckpointing: 2nd time's a charm!

today began the tuckpointing of my house.  the masonry is the cause, according to many. of the water damage in my room and flooding in my basement.  lets just hope they are right?!

you may think, 'hey,didn't you do already that?' i'd have to say, 'wow you have a great memory!'  turns out you get what you pay for in tuckpointing ... and i got bamboozled so ... round 2.  i'm zen about it.

i chose renaissance development, not just because i love the idea of a renaissance, but also because i've known their owner dr. christina for 4 years now and know she is honest.  she sent her crew chief (i don't know what they are called in the masonry business) JJ is a rock star and i'm already impressed.

they arrived at 9:am sharp and got started.

so this

became this

this is is the view from my front door the answer to your RSP questions

i just found a fun way to examine how the government does or doesn't work for you ...

super helpful if you are trying to help someone in need!

Our Mission (formerly was launched in an effort to provide citizens with easy, online access to government benefit and assistance programs. Eight years after its initial launch, underwent a major redesign and became However, the program's mission remains the same: reduce the expense and difficulty of interacting with the government while increasing citizen access to government benefit information.
The site's core function is the eligibility prescreening questionnaire or "Benefit Finder." Answers to the questionnaire are used to evaluate a visitor's situation and compare it with the eligibility criteria for more than 1,000 Federally-funded benefit and assistance programs. Each program description provides citizens with the next steps to apply for any benefit program of interest.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

sarah silverman: "Let My People Vote 2012"

this is not for everyone as sarah has a special affinity for the effe-word.  parental discretion is advised.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

energy efficient refi

i just learned about the energy efficient mortgage program.  this seems like like a way cool way to refinance.  i don't know if it is a possibility, but ... if you are shopping for a mortgage, you may want to consider ...

Energy Efficient Mortgages

An Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) is a mortgage that credits a home's energy efficiency in the mortgage itself. EEMs give borrowers the opportunity to finance cost-effective, energy-saving measures as part of a single mortgage and stretch debt-to-income qualifying ratios on loans thereby allowing borrowers to qualify for a larger loan amount and a better, more energy-efficient home.
To get an EEM a borrower typically has to have a home energy rater conduct a home energy rating before financing is approved. This rating verifies for the lender that the home is energy-efficient.
EEMs are typically used to purchase a new home that is already energy efficient such as an ENERGY STAR certified home. The term EEM is commonly used to refer to all types of energy mortgages including Energy Improvement Mortgages (EIMs), which are used to purchase existing homes that will have energy efficiency improvements made to them. EIMs allow borrowers to include the cost of energy-efficiency improvements to an existing home in the mortgage without increasing the down payment. EIMs allow the borrower to use the money saved in utility bills to finance energy improvements. Both EEMs and EIMs typically require a home energy rating to provide the lender with the estimated monthly energy savings and the value of the energy efficiency measures — known as the Energy Savings Value. EEMs (and EIMs) are sponsored by federally insured mortgage programs (FHA and VA) and the conventional secondary mortgage market. Lenders can offer conventional EEMs, FHA EEMs, or VA EEMs.

Conventional Energy Efficient Mortgages

Conventional EEMs increase the purchasing power of buying an energy efficient home by allowing the lender to increase the borrower's income by a dollar amount equal to the estimated energy savings. While Freddie Mac does not offer EEMS, they do allow underwriting flexibilities for energy efficient improvements with all of their offerings. Discuss this directly with your lender to find out more. To find a lender in your area, please visit the ENERGY STAR Partner Locator.

FHA Energy Efficient Mortgages

The mortgage loan amount for an FHA EEM can be increased by the cost of effective energy improvements. The maximum amount of the portion of the EEM for energy efficient improvements is the lesser of 5% of:
  • the value of the property, or
  • 115% of the median area price of a single family dwelling, or
  • 150% of the conforming Freddie Mac limit.
For more information on FHA EEM loan limits refer to FHA Mortgagee Letter 2009-18 Word document Exit ENERGY STAR. No additional down payment is required, and the FHA loan limits won't interfere with the process of obtaining the EEM. FHA EEMs are available for site-built as well as for manufactured homes. Applications for an FHA EEM may be submitted to the local HUD Field Office through an FHA-approved lending institution. HUD has a searchable list of approved lenders Exit ENERGY STAR. Information about the FHA EEM can be found on FHA's web site Exit ENERGY STAR. Additional information is available from HUD's Office of Single Family Housing by calling (800) 569-4287. There is also a fact sheet about FHA's EEM PDF(70KB). The Systems Building Research Alliance Exit ENERGY STAR has information about FHA EEMs for ENERGY STAR certified manufactured homes.

VA Energy Efficient Mortgages

The Veteran's Administration (VA) EEM is available to qualified military personnel, reservists and veterans for energy improvements when purchasing an existing home. The VA EEM caps energy improvements at $3,000–$6,000. Borrowers should ask their lender about a VA EEM at the beginning of the lending process. More information about VA EEMs can be obtained from the website for the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs Exit ENERGY STAR or by calling (800) 827-1000. Chapter 7 of VA Pamphlet 26-7 (Revised) PDF (1.5MB) contains lender guidance on the VA EEM.

Friday, 21 September 2012

what is art?

i know, its one of those questions.  it has been one that weighs on my mind, usually just before bed.  and obviously, right when i wake up.

remember this whole thing?

Elderly woman destroys 19th-century fresco with DIY restoration
Ecce Homo by 19th-century painter Elías García Martínez on the walls of the church of Santuario de Misericordia Photo:

well ... now this is happening:

Elderly woman who botched religious fresco demands royalties

The elderly Spanish woman who ruined a religious fresco with her botched restoration is now demanding royalties from her work after it became an unlikely tourist attraction.

i don't want to sound pious, but doesn't this situation really give us an opportunity to explore the age old question?  i think it would be fun if someone asked this in a debate ... what is the right course of action here?  its one of those things that people like president's should be able to weigh in on right?

i mean, i know that art is one of those things that people want to throw out the window when times are tough, but what i see is people expressing themselves in art and beautifying their homes, gardens, and communities.  to me, seems like an amazing thing we could do ... employ veterans and all others wanting to work to improve our communities through all the skills they have.  i say, bring all of your talents ... let's see what you are good at and give you a chance to reach your optimum, as we collectively reach OURS.

Thursday, 20 September 2012


i've been accused of being too political lately: its true.  i got too rilled up.  i think it was my own religious confusion. accompanied by mitt being the first mormon  which is kinda awesome. he did break a ceiling.  and what is cool is only mormons even knew it was there ... it was way out of our reach and who know how he pulled that off, but plurilism will most definitely reign soon here and our kids will for sure live in a world where a muslim could be president and no one would think a think.  muddle that with a heafty dose of bitter/repugnant campaign.  finish that off with an active case of complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and voila ... i want to teach modern civics via facebook ... sue me ... just kidding.  so sorry for being annoying.  i need to stop doing that!!

so i'm turning over a new leaf.

the new leaf includes:

  • not talking about politics so much
  • doing my best  
  • not hurry through things.
  • staying more present with the natural world
  • tearing down the walls that aren't helping anymore and open the doors that need opening
  • making the most out of life and going for the gusto ... not recklessly but strategically going after what i want.
  • accepting that it is possible(and okay) to enjoy the life i have, but long for even more
i think for too long this was my theme song:

and has transitioned to this? again ...

one can only hope huh?!  because if we avoid difficult things, great things will avoid us.

so, be on the look out for:

  • house renovations!  that's right friends.  i'm still not done with the renovations on my house.  i got so burnt out the first go around and then one crazy thing after another has kept me from it ... so here i am 4 years later, about to finally finish!!  hip hip! (the basement flooded so i'm being forced to do enough stuff, i might as well do it all ... please bless!)
  • garden rehab:  the garden fell into a grand state of neglect and even without any love or help it gave me heaps of flowers some delicious cantaloupe, watermelon, tomatoes, basil, eggplants, cucumbers, corn, tomatillos.  seriously, i feel like the garden is a testament to this being the jubilee year!
  • i'm sure some kitty photos will surface 
  • and then the usual political/theological b.s. i get caught up in :)

Sunday, 16 September 2012

romney's spirit of contention

right now, it feels like romney's experiment in "loosing friends and influencing people (to hate)" is working pretty well.  he has wanted to provoke contention and fighting since the minute he got into the fray.  i cannot for the life of me understand why people aren't calling romney's attack of the president in the midst of an international crisis treason.  for heaven's sake, were weren't sure about the safety of OUR ambasador and other diplomats.

from wiki:
Oran's Dictionary of the Law (1983) defines treason as "...[a]...citizen's actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation]." In many nations, it is also often considered treason to attempt or conspire to overthrow the government, even if no foreign country is aiding or involved by such an endeavour.

think back to the days of freedom fries.  i couldn't even question the validity that there were such huge weapons of mass destruction without being called a any number of unpleasant unpatriotic names.  yet, romney demonstrates to the world, in the midst of conflict that we aren't currently "one nation, under God, indivisible".  romney has fed (or at a minium not condoned) hate-filled unChristian fear mongering whilst in the midst of a crisis.

in the book of mormon, satan is defined or described as the "father of contention".  in part, most of his power comes because "he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another" (3 Ne. 11:29).  satan can only have control of the angry or greedy heart. "for where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." (james 3:16)

Charles Spielberger believed there were three "expressions" of anger (or ways anger is commonly expressed)

  • Outwardly destructive: The idea of blowing something up or punching someone might feel good here.  Or just really yelling some truths at someone.  You are hurting and you want others to hurt.  You want to make something break and make people see how it feels inside to be as hurt or angry as you are.
  •  Inward destruction: wanting to hurt yourself, not wanting to care for yourself, giving up, feeling "un-worth it".  Basically you turn the anger inward, and punish yourself the way you want to be punished or to punish others.
  • Controlled expression of anger:  using the anger to help you learn the barriers to the intimacy or "common good" between the parties.  
obviously, the third is what we are all going for ... or are we?  i think many don't believe that it is possible to use anger for good.  constructive anger is great.  we could use the issues in the middle east right now to heal the wounds many muslim americans feel.  we could reach out in love to our neighbors and friends around the globe and remind them that in america we protect a person's right to say the craziest of things, but that it doesn't mean that america supports it.  in fact, we could all stand tall against the stupid video and explain exactly why we think he is wrong.  i think that might be the most helpful.

 3 Nephi 11:30 says something like"my doctrine to NOT stir up the hearts of men with "anger one against another. Rather, my doctrine is that such drama should be done away".  

doesn't every family have that person that is always stirring up trouble and making people fight?  maybe that is mitt's role?  everywhere he goes, people get offended and start fighting ...

i want him to watch this and adjust his campaign so that his goal is spreading love rather than contention.  i wonder what would happen ..

MC Yogi - Give Love (Giving4Living Mix) from MC Yogi on Vimeo.

Friday, 14 September 2012

one love

this song keeps running through my head.  i wish we could all just sing it together and end this ridiculousness ... i know ... i live in a teabelly utopia, but peace could reign if we'd just let it ... right

Thursday, 13 September 2012


By Richard E. Johnson (1990)

Every semester several students in my social problems course at BYU propose that the extent or seriousness of certain social problems represents a sign that the world is about to end and the Millennium is near. Their common conclusion is based on a set of three shared beliefs or perceptions. First, they believe that the “last days” will be characterized by unprecedented displays of sin and evil. Second, they see the traditional and highly publicized problems of crime, violence, drug abuse, and sexual deviance as the primary (or only) indicators of sin and evil. And third, they perceive America as now experiencing unprecedented levels of crime, violence, drug abuse, and sexual deviance.

Several aspects of this line of thought strike me as rather narrow-minded. First, it seems both narrow and presumptuous for Americans to evaluate the condition of the entire human race and the fate of the planet on the basis of their perceptions of America’s social problems and moral climate. It seems possible that events or morality in the rest of the world just might also have something to do with the timing of the Millennium. Second, the criteria for judging the “badness” of American society (sex, drugs, crime, and violence) seem narrow. I cannot remember a single student, for example, who has based a conclusion about “the evil that is rampant in society” on observations about poverty, homelessness, or income inequality, to name a few possible alternative measures. Third, there seems to be a narrow view as to where and when social problems or “evil” have existed throughout time and space. The parochial view that “everything must be worse here and now” seems to have been adopted by yet another generation of Americans.
I have no particular interest in speculating on the timing of the Millennium, and I am not sure that I would recognize the key signs of its coming if they hit me in the face, but I will comment on the validity of the perception that we are now in “the worst of times” (and places) in terms of the evils of crime, violence, sex, and drugs. I simply see no firm evidence to support such a claim, especially if we look beyond the experience of the United States (including Biblical and Book of Mormon accounts). There is no question that modern America is a relatively safe, self-disciplined, and peaceful place to live, compared to numerous very barbaric and chaotic times and places. Even within the history of the United States, each of these problems has clearly been worse (and better) at various times in the past.

Judging the relative seriousness of American social problems across time is difficult, if not impossible. Nevertheless, it seems safe to conclude that the overall pattern of “always worse” almost never applies. Recognizing that human problems have been pervasive across time and place need not minimize our concern for the sin and suffering we see in our society today. I believe we have serious social and moral problems. But such recognition should at least call into question the notion that unprecedented evil is a documented fact and a clear sign that the world is about to experience a final cataclysm.
It seems to me that if we are serious about contemplating the moral state of contemporary American society, we might gain valuable insight by broadening the measure of morality beyond the traditional sins (crime, sex, drugs, and violence) to include such variables as poverty, homelessness, and socioeconomic inequality. It also seems that any speculation about “the signs of the last days” must be based on observation of conditions both within and beyond the borders of the United States. And finally, it seems plausible that the traditional sins of crime, sex, drugs, and violence may not be the most appropriate sins to focus on as we search for “unprecedented evil” on a global scale. Perhaps the central moral problem of our time is primarily economic or materialistic, involving behavior that is more often than not perfectly legal and socially acceptable.

I certainly claim no right to judge the moral quality of American society, but I feel an obligation to at least try. As difficult and ambiguous as it may be, moral self-assessment is vital to the quality of life of an individual or a society. I freely admit to applying a very personal and biased “moral measuring rod” to American society. I also freely admit that my measuring rod is based on my personal interpretation of LDS scriptures. In short, I cannot be objective, and I may be way off base.

It seems to me that the most powerful and consistent scriptural warnings given to those who live in the “last days” (as found particularly in the Book of Mormon) center around a single set of interwoven evils—the evils of materialism, consumerism, worldly vanity, and socioeconomic inequality. These traits and conditions are unequivocally condemned throughout the Book of Mormon. Moreover, they are generally described as the root from which the more commonly viewed “sins” take nourishment and as the ultimate cause of both personal and social destruction. In short, the prevalence of selfish striving for the “lifestyles of the rich and famous” (by both those who succeed and those who fail), and the consequent inequality that results, appear to be most appropriate as criteria for assessing a society’s moral climate.

Judging from the responses of my students (who are typically “active LDS” from relatively comfortable socioeconomic backgrounds), these are not common measures of immorality or evil. Many, in fact, are shocked by the suggestion that morality could have anything to do with either (a) the seeking or obtaining of a high standard of living, or (b) the presence of grossly unequal standards of living. Those who are not shocked and who agree that a “high” standard of material comfort may, in fact, be a form of selfishness or oppression are quick to define “high” as well above their own level. My response is that I, too, am both confused and disquieted by the whole question, but that I cannot ignore it given my interpretation of the scriptures. Further, I cannot have confidence that my “modest” American lifestyle is safely below a selfishly “high” level of comfort and convenience, given what I know about inequality and destitution in my own society or in the world.
It is certainly understandable that mainstream American Mormons (such as typical readers ofBYU Today, present author included) are more inclined to condemn the behavior of “traditional sinners” (thieves, addicts, abusers, etc.) than to condemn the behavior of materialistic consumers of legal goods obtained by legal means. Traditional sinners are clearly self-indulgent, satisfying their whims and appetites for comfort or pleasure through sexual, chemical, or violent means. It is also clear that innocent others often suffer because of the self-indulgence of these sinners. We law-abiding, high-living consumers, on the other hand, satisfy our self-indulgent whims and appetites for comfort or pleasure through clearly superior means—we buy goodies, ranging from mansions to microchips. Furthermore, we ignore King Benjamin and countless other prophets and tell ourselves that we “earn” or “deserve” the goodies that give us comfort and pleasure, and we fail to note any consequent suffering by anyone. I simply cannot shake off the nagging thought that our traditional definitions of morality—our division of the world into the “good guys” and the “bad guys”—is based on convenience and rationalization, as well as on truth.
Whether or not materialism and inequality are key signs of the moral battles that are to mark the last days, or whether they are evil at all, the fact is that these conditions are flourishing in America today. Admittedly, there is no better evidence for the view that modern America has the “worst ever” case of materialistic greed and inequality than there is for the view that we have the “worst ever” case of crime, violence, sex, or drugs. But neither is it merely coincidental that social commentators almost unanimously refer to the 1980s as “America’s Age of Greed.”

There is firm empirical evidence of several recent trends that are very troubling to many observers, regardless of definitions of morality. First, the distribution of income and wealth in America is growing more unequal. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The Census Bureau reports that the richest one-fifth of American households now receive almost 10 times the average income of the poorest one-fifth, which is the highest ratio of inequality since they began keeping records following World War II. America’s inequality ratio is also the highest among Western industrial nations.

The expanding income inequality is occurring fastest among the very rich and the very poor, and it has not been slowed by “progressive” tax policies that are supposed to result in some leveling of incomes after taxes. In fact, the U.S. tax structure is anything but progressive, and the major changes in taxation and Social Security over the past decade have been “regressive,” taking a larger share from those who already have less. The after tax real income (adjusted for inflation) of the bottom one-tenth of American families dropped from $3528 to $3157 (in 1987 dollars) between 1977 and 1988. The after tax income of the top one-tenth rose from $174,498 to $303,900 during that same period.

Statistics on income inequality hide two important facts. First, abstract numbers can dehumanize the lives of real people. Income inequality represents more than mere differences in the sizes of the piles of “goodies” that families can afford. For millions of families at the bottom of the distribution (perhaps the 10 percent with total yearly family incomes averaging $3157), we are talking about malnutrition, literal starvation, little or no access to health care or education, homelessness, and utter hopelessness. Infant mortality rates among America’s poor exceed those in many Third World countries and greatly surpass the rates in other Western democracies. All of this occurs in the midst of wealth almost unimaginable to the vast majority of the planet’s past or present inhabitants; all of this occurs while the rich get richer. I cannot divorce this reality from conceptions of morality. I am ashamed for my society.

Income statistics also hide the fact that wealth—total assets, genuine access to goods and services—is much more unequally distributed than income. While the top one-fifth of U.S. households get about 45 percent of the income, the top one-tenth own 70 percent of the wealth. Moreover, the proportion of the total wealth controlled by the top one-half of one percent (the very rich) increased by 38 percent from the 1960s to the 1980s.

At the other end of the scale, poverty and homelessness are more widespread in America today than a decade ago. The percent of Americans in poverty declined dramatically during the 1960s, remained stable through most of the 1970s, then jumped significantly during the recession years of the early 1980s. For the past few years, the rate has hovered around 13 to 14 percent poor, which translates to well over 30 million people.

The profile of the poor and the types of people “at risk” of poverty have changed more dramatically than the number of poor. The fastest growing category of the poor is people who are members of single-mother families. Members of minority groups and members of single-mother families have always been at a higher-than-average risk of poverty, but the sheer number of single-mother families has grown dramatically in recent years. Of America’s poor, the segment residing in single-mother families has risen from less than 20 percent to over 40 percent over the past three decades. Children, of course comprise a large portion of these families (as well as the families of high risk minorities). The net result is that children now—for the first time—represent one of America’s highest risk poverty groups. Almost one-forth of allchildren in this nation are living in poverty. If present trends continue, the figure will reach an appalling one-third within 10 years.
It is more difficult to accurately determine the extent of homelessness, but it is nevertheless clear that recent changes in homelessness have exceeded changes in general poverty. In 1990, probably two to three million Americans will know what it is like to be homeless, although many of them will not remain homeless for the entire year. A major study sponsored by the mayors of America’s major cities found a 30 percent rise in homelessness between 1985 and 1987. Most experts believe the figure has risen by about 10 percent in each of the years that followed.

The profile of the homeless has changed as well. The “traditional homeless” (alcoholics, addicts, traumatized war veterans, unemployables) are being joined in increasing numbers by the “new homeless”—single mothers with children, working poor, throwaway teenagers, and deinstitutionalized mental patients. The fastest growing segment of the homeless population is families with children, estimated to now comprise one-third of the total. Millions of other poor and not-so-poor families are just “one bad day” from homelessness. That bad day could be caused by a fire, the death of a breadwinner, a divorce, an illness or accident, or the closing of a factory.

Why have these trends occurred in inequality, poverty, and homelessness? At the risk of tremendous oversimplification, let me offer a “short list” of nine possible contributing factors. Some are quite obvious and of only short-term significance. Others are more subtle and far reaching. Each may or may not have anything to do with the moral quality of American society.

1. The recession of the early 1980s, which followed the OPEC oil embargo of the late 1970s, led to increased unemployment and poverty. Bad times invariably hurt those on the bottom more than those on the top.

2. There has been a prolonged and general decline in America’s “smokestack industries.” Basic manufacturing plants, which often paid relatively high union wages for unskilled or semi-skilled labor, have been closing in the face of increased international competition and movement toward hi-tech industries. Markets are now worldwide. Operations in other countries benefit from cheaper labor and more recently built—and therefore more modern and efficient—facilities. Indeed, most of the urban “underclass” areas of today were once healthy communities sustained by factories that are now closed and have not been replaced. Displaced American workers are often untrained for newer hi-tech jobs, which are located in different areas and do not pay as well even when they are obtained.

3. The inequality in salaries and wages within American industry has increased.Simply put, the bargaining position of American workers has been eroded by the availability of cheap foreign labor, the increasing availability of American female labor, and the failure of labor unions to gain a strong foothold in newer, hi-tech industries. Unions (or non-union workers) rarely succeed in obtaining higher wages when others will do the work for less. Nowadays, those “others” include desperate workers all over the world. Successful labor movements also require strong feelings of worker discontent. Meanwhile, discontent has been diffused in America, in part through a tremendous increase in the number of dual-income families. A low single income, which would be very aggravating if it were the sole means of family support, does not seem so bad when pooled with another low income.
Corporate leaders seem disinclined to share the wealth with their workers when they can get away with not sharing it. Given the American value of getting all you can for yourself (and perhaps “oppressing the hireling in his wages” along the way?), it should be no surprise that the top executives of U.S. corporations often make more than one hundred times the income of their factory workers. The ratio between top and bottom workers, which averaged 93 to 1 in one U.S. study in 1988 (up from 29 to 1 in 1979), is many times lower in many other successful capitalist countries. In other ways, too, evidence indicates a growing gap between advantaged and disadvantaged American workers. The gap between college-educated and high school-educated workers has widened over the past decade, as has the gap between older (established) and younger (new) workers.

4. There has been a slowing or stagnation in the growth of the “American pie” (total wealth) from which all must derive their share. An ever-growing pie could be divided very unevenly without anyone being left with too small a piece to subsist. But an increasingly unequal division of a finite pie must eventually leave some with only crumbs. Real family income (controlling for the effects of inflation) doubled from 1950 to 1973, increased slightly between 1973 and 1978, and has leveled or dropped since 1978. The situation in general may not be as bad as it first appears, since the average family size has also decreased over the same period. Still, unlimited economic expansion no longer seems either unlikely or environmentally wise. Given current economic conditions, it is not reasonable to expect those with only crumbs to “scrape up enough” for a home, food, and health care without someone else taking a smaller share.

5. The large increase in the number of single-mother families, due primarily to increases in divorce and illegitimacy, has had a profound impact on family income and poverty trends.

6. Sexism and racism still prevent members of high risk groups from escaping or avoiding poverty at the same rate that others do. In spite of public perceptions frequently to the contrary, studies continue to show that equally qualified blacks and women are not afforded the same education, jobs, or pay that white males are afforded. Progress toward equal socioeconomic opportunity remains slow in numerous areas.

7. The unavailability of affordable child care or parental leave programs makes employment almost impossible for single mothers and very difficult for poor two-parent families. Among all industrial nations in the world, the United States ranks at or near the bottom in efforts to accommodate the needs of working parents.

8. Public policies and programs in America are rarely directed toward helping the poor in significant and long-term ways, and the anti-poverty programs that do exist have been systematically gutted of funding during the 1980s. In addition to failing to implement a progressive tax structure, we spend far more tax money on “wealthfare” programs for the non-poor than we do on “welfare” for the the poor. It is pure myth that government spending for the poor is a major expense that is somehow responsible for our national debt. Less than one-fifth of all federal “entitlement” programs are even directed toward the poor (and the proportion is decreasing). Only about one-third of all poverty-stricken Americans receive any cash assistance, and about 40 percent receive no assistance of any kind (cash, food stamps, Medicaid, housing subsides, etc.). Meanwhile, the total cost of all poverty programs could be completely paid for simply by taxing just those Social Security checks that go to non-poor recipients (at going tax rates, and leaving the payments themselves alone). Similarly, 85 percent of all Medicare payments are in behalf of the non-poor. Nevertheless, during the 1980s virtually all benefits to the poor were slashed, many by more than 50 percent, while Social Security and Medicare benefits (not to mention military spending) were increased.

When housing policies are examined, it is no surprise that perhaps half a million American children are sleeping on the streets or in shelters this very night. The federal housing budget was cut by 77 percent between 1981 and 1988. Many of the remaining funds were lost to speculators and crooks through the HUD and savings and loan scandals. Many low-income housing projects that are now infested with crack gangs were simply allowed to deteriorate during that period. During 1988 the federal government spent over $7 billion on low-cost housing programs and $12 billion on housing programs for those with incomes over $75,000.

More and more Americans simply have no place to go if they lose their current residence. Almost no new low-cost housing is being built privately or publicly. Meanwhile, old low-cost housing units are being lost to commercial development, public works, gentrification, and blight at the literal rate of millions per year. Others are being priced out of the housing market. The average rent in the United States increased twice as fast as the average income of renters from 1978 to 1988. The net result is that the demand for low-income housing (the number of families who cannot afford more than $250—in 1988 dollars—per month for housing) exceeded the national supply of low-income units in 1987. By 2003, the gap between supply and demand will reach 10 million if current trends continue. It is not simply a matter of people being “choosey” about accommodations; it can be a matter of their having no choice at all.

9. Public stereotypes and attitudes about wealth, poverty, and welfare go a long way toward explaining the policy trends just described. After all, our government is (to some extent, at least) “by the people.” Frankly, I am continually amazed at the strength and harshness of the anti-poor attitudes exhibited by some of my students and at their unwillingness to reconsider their views on the basis of clear contradictory evidence. Anti-poor attitudes come in a wide variety of hues, but the predominant theme is that the poor deserve their lot in life because they are lazy, stupid, and/or satisfied with their way of life—that they “deserve” to be poor.

Numerous studies show that the poor as a group have the same goals, desires, work ethic, and work habits of the non-poor as a group. For every poor “free-loader” (who is likely to attract much attention and be publicly branded as such), there is a middle-class or wealthy “freeloader” whose easy lifestyle escapes scrutiny or stigmatization. Work ethic, hours worked, ambition, and IQ are very poor statistical predictors of adult socioeconomic attainment in the United States. By far the best predictor is the socioeconomic position of one’s parents. In short, poor Americans of any age are primarily poor because they were born poor. And the second major reason for poverty is similarly unrelated to individual character: The poor have often “landed” in an unfavorable macro-economic setting. Not unlike victims of earthquakes or hurricanes, victims of structural economic depression often have little control over their fate.

It makes just as much sense to blame more than a small fraction of current poverty on individual laziness as it does to ascribe the Great Depression of the 1930s on an “out-break of a lazy-bum virus.” Certainly, some poor folks should heed the traditional advice to “get a job.” However, well over 90 percent of all poverty-stricken Americans fall into one or more of the following categories: under 18 or over 65 years old, disabled, working (for poverty pay), or rearing infants or small children. Evidence is clear that when the disadvantaged are given real opportunities to succeed, the vast majority work hard and take advantage of those opportunities. The opportunities can be provided publicly or privately. For example, there is no longer any reasonable dissent to the conclusion that federal Head Start programs for poor pre-school children are a tremendous success. Head Start graduates do better in school, stay in school longer, and get in trouble less than their fellow disadvantaged non-Head Start classmates. Moreover, Head Start is a cost-effective program. One study found that every tax dollar spent on Head Start saved taxpayers over seven dollars in future direct expenditures for unemployment, welfare, and criminal justice costs. Because of such favorable results, Head Start now receives bipartisan praise in Congress, along with an annual budget large enough ($1.4 billion) to provide services to only one-fifth of the children who are eligible. Meanwhile, the current price tag on the savings and loan bailout is estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars.

On the private side, there is the case of Mr. Eugene Lang, who lowered the high school dropout rate in his old New York City neighborhood (which had become a rundown poor area since he left) from over 50 percent to about 10 percent by promising to fund a college education for every law-abiding, successful high school graduate. The missing ingredient in the lives of Mr. Lang’s recipients had not been the desire or willingness to work. It was hope. Most college students I meet have long taken for granted that college was an expectation or at least a realistic option for them. Are they—we—to be particularly admired for simply following the most reasonable path to socioeconomic success, while others “fail” because they see no realistic hope of even getting on the path?

Today, more poor and minority high school seniors than ever before report that they want to and plan to go to college, yet fewer and fewer of them are enrolling. By far the leading reason for their “change of mind” is reported to be the high cost of school and the absence of financial assistance programs that were much more available in the 1970s. As hard as it seems to be for the “successful” to admit, there is very little evidence that our success is a sign of anything other than the fact that we were the ones who received the real head start.
In spite of massive evidence to the contrary, many still cling to the notion that America is the land of equal opportunity. That belief, in turn, makes a convenient basis for the conclusion that the “haves” deserve their goodies and are not obligated to assist the “have-nots.” My response to this conclusion is twofold. First, LDS scriptures state clearly that the obligation to assist the poor remains intact whether or not the poor are judged to be deserving. Second, how can one reasonably view the growing millions of poor children as blameworthy, no matter what one thinks of their parents?

One of the most sorrowful aspects of all that is happening in our society is that we are virtually abandoning millions of our children, relegating them to lives of stunted physical, intellectual, emotional, and moral development. Not all forsaken children, of course, are poor, but poor children are certainly most at risk.

The President’s Commission on Children recently called the poverty and despair facing many American children “a staggering national tragedy.” Happily, yet sadly, the resources needed to save America’s children are readily available, at an affordable cost. The price tag would amount to relatively small sacrifices of time and slight reductions in our consumption of goods and services. How can anyone in a position to help simply sit back and enjoy a life of ease? Is not the lack of social action in this regard an indictment of American society?

It matters not whether remedial action is private or public, Republican or Democrat. What matters is that inaction is both moral and social suicide. Because of our selfish and short-sighted desires for immediate materialistic self-indulgence, mainstream America is nurturing the growth of a sub-population within society that will have little or no ability or desire to participate in conventional social or economic life. The prospects for a productive economy in years to come are thereby reduced. The prospects for flourishing drug and crime problems are thereby increased. Everyone’s quality of life will be affected by the current neglect of our children.

I have absolutely no particular partisan or political agenda in mind in presenting these observations on poverty and inequality. I do feel a need, however, to address another attitudinal theme that I often hear from LDS students, one that seems to dictate to them their choice of political action or inaction. That theme is the absurd notion that addressing problems through taxation and governmental programs is “socialism” and is therefore of the devil. If that were so, perhaps we have the devil to thank for public libraries, highways, and police departments. If we choose to recoil from the word “socialism,” we can likewise choose to refrain from using it, as we do with reference to Social Security and Medicare. If we believe that public funding of a basic “safety net” of minimal standards of decency in health, education, shelter, and opportunity are impossible to provide in a setting of political and religious freedom, we can ignore the existence of most Western European nations.

Finally, if we believe that any curtailing of free-reign capitalism somehow violates the laws of heaven, we must significantly abridge or alter both the Doctrine of Covenants and the Book of Mormon, as well as reject outright suggestions such as the following:
But since all capitalistic systems are founded upon the institution of private property, inheritance and the profit motive, great inequalities of ownership and income inevitably result. ...Among the more plausible suggestions offered to correct existing abuses without adversely affecting the productive system, is to continue the socialization of our service institutions through a system of progressive taxation based upon ability to pay...taking the bulk of their [captains of industry] profits to finance free education, free libraries, free public parks and recreation centers, unemployment insurance, old age benefits, sickness and accident insurance, and perhaps eventually free medical aid and hospital service. ...The average family may not have much more money, if any, to spend under such a system than now. But...then the meager family income can be devoted entirely to the necessities of life, plus some of the comforts now enjoyed by the higher income classes. ...To finance all of this, of course, will necessitate huge sums of money. ...And it will also require a carefully worked out tax system so that every one will contribute according to his financial ability. Inheritance and estate taxes will become progressively higher, until the present system of permitting large fortunes to be passed on from generation to generation will become extinct. And incidentally, the so-called idle rich who have been living on the earning of past generations will be no more.

The above “plan” for equalizing living standards and life chances for Americans may or may not be politically or economically desirable or possible. The point here is not to recommend a particular plan. The point here is simply to note that even such a seemingly radical plan as this (students have yelled, “Marxist!” upon hearing it read in class) cannot be written off as un-Christian or anti-Mormon. It is perfectly consistent (as are countless other approaches) with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Its source, it turns out, is the LDS Melchizedek Priesthood Study Guide for 1939. I cite it only to reject the notion that the eternal principle of “free-agency” somehow translates into an economic system of “free capitalism.” Such an equation strikes me as terribly ironic and terribly sad, especially if it gets used as an excuse to justify personally convenient inaction in the face of tremendous injustice and suffering.

I am often told by economics majors that providing such a social “safety net” of basic human rights (shelter, food, access to medical care, education) would not be an “efficient” system. It would remove incentive for work and advancement. The argument seems to be that the presence of suffering and deprivation is good because others will therefore try harder to avoid joining the sufferers. I cannot accept such a view of humanity, which is based on shaky assumptions and traditions. In fact, I can imagine a generous safety net acting to increase entrepreneurial incentive. I, for one, would be much more inclined to venture forth economically and vocationally if I knew the consequences of failure for my family would not mean severe devastation.

While I have no reason to believe that favoring or opposing any specific political or economic proposal will necessarily be cause for repentance for readers of BYU Today, I can easily imagine a scene in the hereafter in which the bulk of our repenting is due to the sin of “keeping too much for ourselves” while so many have so little. Some “hoarding” of personal resources, of course, seems necessary, primarily because of the very fact that our society chooses not to provide a minimal safety net for anyone other than the aged (and many of those fall through the netting). Our children may be robbed of important opportunities in the future (such as education) if we are too generous with our resources today. It becomes a difficult moral and financial dilemma that each of us must work out individually. How much are we justified in keeping to meet our needs, and how much are we keeping selfishly to satisfy our wants?

Attitudes and values relative to helping or not helping the poor are the last factor in the list of possible contributors to America’s problems of poverty, homelessness, and inequality. Obviously, I believe our attitudes—and our behavior—have strong moral implications. I would like to believe that my material living standard is not a moral issue, as long as I am a “good person” in other ways. Given the national picture just outlined, however, such a belief strikes me as wishful fantasy. The evidence is simply too clear that a great deal of evil and suffering in our land can be traced to the individualistic and materialistic pursuit of happiness, and to the tremendous socioeconomic inequality that follows.

Thanks primarily to glitzy and glamorous portrayals in American advertising and entertainment, selfish values are pervasive throughout our socioeconomic hierarchy. No one group has a corner on the market of greed, even though the rich (them? us?) have many more opportunities to display their selfishness. The poor man who yearns to win the lottery and live the opulent “American dream” lifestyle portrayed in the media has values no nobler than the “fat cats” he both condemns and envies.

On the other hand, it is not impossible for the recipient of a high income to live a modest lifestyle and use the money to benefit others. But as the scriptures repeatedly remind us, a high income represents a temptation that very few can withstand. Moreover, the definition of “modest” can easily be stretched beyond recognition. 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 ourselves.

As a nation, we may not be in the most selfish of times, and we may even be headed for less selfish times. Indeed, there is some evidence from public surveys that Americans are turning away a bit from the private-gain values of the 1980s toward more public-service and family-centered values in the 1990s. By world standards, however, our lifestyles are anything but modest, and the future looks anything but rosy. Global problems of poverty, homelessness, and inequality make America’s troubles seem almost trivial by comparison. Of course, the typical American has limited political or logistical means to ease the world’s suffering. We can do much more about these problems at home. Still, it is the global scene that represents a more fitting context for speculating about the “signs of the last days.”
Whether or not we are witnessing signs of the last days, we are certainly witnessing global trends and events unprecedented in world history. Never before have scientific and political developments allowed so many hundreds of millions of people to realistically seek the “good life” of physical ease and comfort already enjoyed by the American middle class. Millions seem to be on the verge of freedom from political oppression, while millions more are being freed by science and technology from virtual isolation from the “civilized” world and from the “oppression” of Mother Nature’s harshness. The materialistic “good life” is fast becoming a global aspiration. Recent events in Eastern Europe, for example, represent not only the unshackling of political and religious bonds, but the unleashing of materialistic striving. As the Berlin Wall came down, spending sprees were at least as common as prayer vigils or political rallies.

Could not the great and unprecedented battle between good and evil that seems to be predicted for the end of the world refer to the dual evils of insatiable materialism and unspeakable inequality? Certainly, opportunities for engaging in economic selfishness are expanding rapidly. It is relatively easy to “do without” under conditions of universal destitution, ignorance of alternatives, or political totalitarianism. Indeed, throughout history only a relative few have been afforded the “opportunity” to engage in selfish political or economic oppression. Now, for the first time, the test seems to be underway on a truly massive scale. There may even be more people alive today exercising substantial political and economic agency—facing real choices between personal luxury and Christian charity—than in all previous centuries combined. How will they handle their “opportunity” to engage in direct or indirect oppression, their choice to hoard or to share? How are we handling ours?

It 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. While the earth can still sustain life for all of its current inhabitants at a healthy but simple living standard (which it can, even though over a billion are malnourished), it cannot sustain all of its five billion inhabitants at the living standard of middle-class America. And even if it could, what about the extra five billion that will be added in 40 years?

The inescapable conclusion is that when one person lives a life of luxury in a society or a world of limited and finite resources, others are forced to have less. Many, in fact, have so much less that they will suffer and die, but only after watching their loved ones suffer and die. Increasingly, the dying—and the injustice—are becoming more difficult to ignore. Modern communications systems continue to shrink the world, bringing into greater light and clearer focus the juxtaposition of unprecedented abundance and unprecedented suffering. The rich have run out of excuses. What happens when the poor run out of patience? Is literal global war a necessary component of the last days? If so, my prediction would be an attack by “have-not” nations on the “haves” of the world rather than a superpower battle between East and West. After all, the have-nots would have nothing to lose, by definition.

Whether we become more willing to sacrifice and share out of fear, economic self-interest, or charity, it seems that the time has come to do so or face the consequences. How long can we ignore the scriptural description of socioeconomic inequality as evil? How long will we be guided by the “traditions of our fathers” instead of the Savior of humanity? How long will Church members join mainstream America in not only condoning, but promoting and admiring materialistic self-aggrandizement? Might not the great lesson for the last days be that in order for there to be a world of peace or a Zion with “no poor among them,” that there must also be no rich among them?

Richard E. Johnson is an associate professor of sociology at BYU. This article is an expanded version of a talk he delivered at BYU in March 1990.
 Copyright 2011 by Brigham Young University.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012


its a beautiful tuesday morning.  reminds me of the one in 2001.  it kinda feels like time stood still, in a way, since then.

it scared the crap out of me!!

i think what was scariest was the way people responded.  most people just stopped thinking ... they tuned out and went shopping.  there was a war happening and we didn't realize it because the president just kept saying everything was fine.  and it was what we wanted to hear ... lulling us into ...

there were a few screaming that things were NOT fine, but a bunch of white guys in suits kept people from hearing it. (take for instance how they diverted attention from an American invasion of Iraq.  "lame-stream media" by talking about a "war on religion" ... (see below: dont' bother watching the whole thing, its painful)

but now we are waking up.  kurt eichenwald() just wrote more about how incompetent the bush presidency was, how they ignored intelligence and went on vacation.  they through up the most unbelievable smokescreen and people bought it.  but it seems like today people are saying ... wait a minute.

mormons are organizing against rape; condoning torture asking how it is possible that  lawyers from their church wrote a memo condoning (NAY JUSTIFYING) torture ... people inside the church are asking for a theological accounting.

seems like its time for a truth and reconciliation commission.  we need to have a safe place where people can say their truth and be heard and then we can distill what seems to be the most plausible explanation for things.  i just don't think that we are going to heal as a nation until we know more confidently why we went to Iraq and why we got bombed by terrorists.

wouldn't it be cool if 9/11 could become the national day of healing?  i don't even know all that it would mean: forgiveness, hair cuts, doctors appointments, etc?  but what a way to make sure terror doesn't win??!  we use the day they attacked us as the day to exercise of constitutionally protected right to LIFE, LIBERTY and the PURSUIT of HAPPINESS.

to me, part of the American ethos is taking a bad thing and turning it into something good.  i feel like that is what we need to do with 9/11.  i'm not sure what it is we need to do ... but it is time to heal i think ... do i sound like a silly teabelly?  (i'm home sick so ... i can if i want!)

Monday, 10 September 2012

Sunday, 9 September 2012

what did he say?

Oh to be a fly on the wall during this moment!!!

What in the world did he say??

especially in light of this recent interview!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

truth and reconciliation

sometimes i wish we could have our own truth and reconciliation commission.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Friday, 7 September 2012

Mormon take on Young Women

I was a "Young Women's" President and a youth sunday school teacher for most of my time in DC.  I joined the mormon church when i was 16 so, it was via the youth program that i learned the gospel.  mine has always been the youthful testimony, not the old wise sage one.

its weird to see how behavior isn't matching doctrine.  but every mormon, post-mormon, FoMo, ex-Mo, HoMoMo, any woman who had anything to do with mormonism while she was between the ages of 12-18 will know this pure doctrine about women:

We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him.
We will "stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places" (Mosiah 18:9) as we strive to live the Young Women values, which are:
  • Faith
  • Divine Nature
  • Individual Worth
  • Knowledge
  • Choice and Accountability
  • Good Works
  • Integrity and
  • Virtue.
We believe as we come to accept and act upon these values, we will be prepared to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Remembering the legacy of Saint Frances Perkins this Labor Day

Posted at 03:17 PM ET, 09/01/2012

Remembering the legacy of Saint Frances Perkins this Labor Day

Labor Secretary Solis speaks about the department's faith-based project to connect with job clubs and ministries at Cascade United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Ga., on Oct. 5, 2011. (Handout: Courtesy of Labor Department)
The other day, a colleague wished me luck on my upcoming “Patron Saint Festival.” He was joking, of course. He was referring to Labor Day.
It’s true, Labor Day is a busy time for labor secretaries. But my friend’s comment got me thinking.
I was raised with saints. I always thought it strange that our large, Hispanic-American family belonged to Saint Louis of France parish in La Puente, Calif. Whenever my mother misplaced something--her address book, eye glasses or house keys--she would immediately askSaint Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of lost things, to intercede. Saint Anthony never failed her.
My father had an even more personal relationship with a saint. In the 1920s, Rafael Guizar Valencia was known as Mexico’s “Bishop of the Poor.” He cared for the wounded and dying during the Mexican Revolution. But he also baptized my dad, gave him his first communion, confirmed him and sponsored his attendance to seminary school in Mexico City. He was canonized a saint by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006. When my father died earlier this year, Saint Rafael’s picture was on his mass card.

In my youth, I had my own favorite saint, and was introduced to her in a more modern way. I was mesmerized by the actress Jennifer Jones’ portrayal of a poor French girl who becomes a saint in the movie “The Song of Bernadette.” As a teenager, Bernadette was my personal patron saint. I admired how she kept her faith, even when no one believed her. She showed me how to be faithful to my convictions, even when others doubted me. I still draw strength from her story.
More recently, another saint came into my life.
On a weekend shortly after I became the nation’s 25th secretary of labor, I was exploring my new Capitol Hill neighborhood. I came upon a small Episcopal church, St. Monica and St. James, just a few blocks from my home. I decided to check it out.
I liked the services very much. The music was beautiful. The sermons were thought-provoking. The congregation was engaged and friendly. I felt very much at home.
On my third visit, as the service ended, one of the ushers introduced himself and took my hand. He smiled warmly and said, “We know who you are. We’re so glad you are here. We knew you’d come.” I was taken aback. I had no idea what he was talking about. And then he explained.
It turns out, back when it was just called St. James, the church was the spiritual home of my predecessor and the most influential labor secretary in U.S. history, Frances Perkins. Appointed by Franklin Roosevelt, she was the first woman to serve in a president’s cabinet. During her 12-year tenure, she was the heart and soul of the New Deal. She led the effort to create Social Security (some say she wrote the legislation in the St. James rectory). Unemployment insurance, minimum wage and overtime pay are just a few examples of her legacy. The federal building where I work is named after her, and her portrait hangs outside my office. She was a woman of great accomplishments, and of great faith—a pioneer in what we now commonly refer to as social justice.
But most extraordinary: Frances Perkins is a saint in the Episcopal Church, welcomed into the calendar of lesser feasts and fasts in 2009. Her commemoration (or day) is May 13.
Frances Perkins knew the power the faith community had in making a difference in the lives of working people, and enlisted their support and involvement during the Great Depression. I think she would be very pleased to see how her department is working with that community today.
For decades, churches, synagogues, mosques and temples across the country have sponsored “job clubs”-- informal and often volunteer efforts to assist unemployed members of their congregations, as well as the wider community. Job clubs provide networking opportunities and employment resources, like resume writing tips, interview coaching and the use of social media in a job search. But they offer something else, too. The emotional and spiritual support they provide to someone who is out of work is critical. They reinforce to job seekers that they are not alone. The prayers, fellowship and hospitality keep them going.
Since May 2011, the Labor Department’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships has been working with job clubs in cities across the nation. We’re facilitating ways for them to get to know each other and share experiences in ways both high-touch (meetings and conference calls) to high tech (a web portal that shares best practices: We’re helping new clubs get started in rural and urban communities, and partnering them with our nearly 3,000 job centers, a nationwide network of one-stop career shops. We’re giving them tools to expand and extend the state workforce development system to church basements, fellowship halls and synagogue conference rooms.
And our efforts are paying off. We’ve connected with more than 1,500 job clubs, career ministries, and networking groups in the past year alone, and have developed an online directory so that job seekers can find job clubs, and job clubs can find each other. Our regional symposia and training events across the country are helping faith leaders, practitioners, volunteers and staff better serve their congregations and communities through new connections and partnerships, as well as promising practices. Most important, job clubs are reporting back to us that people are finding jobs and training opportunities. And that’s really what it is all about.
In speeches after she left office, Perkins would often make the point that “man has infinite worth.” That is as true today as it was when she sat in the labor secretary’s chair. It’s a common truth among people of goodwill and all faiths. It didn’t take her elevation to sainthood to remind me of that. The work of my department reminds me every day. Saint Frances Perkins would be very proud.
Hilda L. Solis is 25th U.S. Secretary of Labor. Prior to confirmation as Secretary of Labor, she represented the 32nd Congressional District in California from 2001 to 2009.