December 2011

Monthly Archive

Occupy the New Year: A Challenge

Posted by on 30 Dec 2011 | Tagged as: caring, citizenship, Family Matters, Gardens and Life, Giving, good things, Making a Difference, Peace Making, Politics and War, social justice, Uncategorized

This is a good time to dedicate ourselves to making the world a better place. Rather than focusing on self-centered goals at this time for resolutions (lose weight, clean out the garage, exercise more), why not choose one specific project that will help many people?

For example, this is an election year. If you are eligible to vote but aren’t registered, register! If you find yourself feeling powerless, assert your power: write to your elected officials, volunteer in a campaign (whether for a politician or a cause, you can help spread the word about something you are passionate about, even from behind the scenes and even if you are not eligible to vote), attend rallies and opportunities to meet the candidates. Do you attend your school district’s board meetings? Some things they do are mundane, others affect how the school interacts with the community. Do you know who your school board members are? Or your public (utility-port-library…) district’s board members? Do you know what budget or project issues they are discussing?

Obviously, no one person can keep track of everything or participate in everything. But every person can keep track of something, and participate in some way, whether eligible to vote or not. Not everyone can attend rallies, not everyone can write letters, not everyone can run for office. But everyone can be creative and realistic about volunteering time and talents!

In the United States, while corporations are adept at purchasing face time and favors with politicians, the people still have a great deal of influence, if they choose to wield it.

A democracy functions best when all the people make their wishes, dreams and needs known.

I have friends who volunteer at the food bank, who volunteer in schools, as firefighters, for political causes… each one of these people makes a difference in the lives of many others in the community. And in the process, their work expresses their values.

How will you choose to occupy your time in the new year?

How will you express your values in the world?

How will your life this year make things better for other people?

I am thinking over my possibilities. I will definitely continue volunteering at my local school as I have time and energy… is there one more thing I can add? I lack monetary security that would let me donate money to organizations and causes I believe in. Perhaps I can use my writing ability more productively to support them. I always vote, but I think this year I will write to one of my elected officials on a cause I am passionate about (education!). I also hope to have a productive garden this summer, and to donate some of the foods we grow to the local food bank. I want to be more consistent in keeping in touch with some of my friends who aren’t in the same spheres as my daily life. Keeping my resolutions to a reasonable list is the hardest part. But I think I will stop there so I don’t feel overwhelmed.

Just angry enough…

Posted by on 21 Dec 2011 | Tagged as: citizenship, economy, editorial, politics, Uncategorized

…to post my extreme dissatisfaction with the United States House of Representatives for leaving all of us working people in the lurch, wondering if we will have enough left over to make ends meet in the new year. THEY have gone on vacation, secure in the knowledge that their transportation to and from work and home is paid for (by tax payers), that their health insurance (paid for by tax payers) is ready to go if they get a boo-boo while skiing on vacation, that their homes are not under foreclosure, their refrigerators have enough food, their winter jackets are warm and their hearths are cozy.

Not so for us, the tax payers. We pay them to do a job, and they have not done it. We pay them to monitor, adjust and rethink the infrastructures that allow us to benefit from OUR hard work. But WE, the tax payers, the WORKERS are seeing our real incomes erode, whether from job loss, cutbacks in hours, increases in costs to work (transportation being an important one), increases in the cost of food, clothing and medicine. Increases in the necessities.

Granted, the intended temporary decrease in payroll tax places a greater burden on the social security system in the future. But at this point in time, raising that back to the original amount creates a current, real, measurable, and potentially devastating hardship for those of us who are close to the edge. And those who are already having to put off buying groceries, or pay the light bill, or wait to seek medical care? It will hit them, too.

The less money we have in our pockets for the necessities, the less we have (obviously) for luxuries. Let’s face it: Right now, our economy depends in great measure, on people having money and time to spend on luxuries — movies, dinner out, consumable goods, leisure activities and supplies.

So the House of Representatives thinks they have earned a vacation?

Let’s give them one next November. Let’s give them a nice, long, extended vacation where they will have time to search for a new job. Maybe if they feel the pinch of insecurity they will have more compassion for those of us who are already searching for jobs, or feeling insecure in our jobs, or employed but wondering how to afford the increased costs when income is stagnant or declining.

UPDATE: December 27, 2011

So the House pulled its head out of its posterior long enough to pass the two-month extension that the Senate had already passed. Before going on vacation. What chutzpah! So now we have two more months of congressional ineptitude and posturing to contend with while people who are more interested in campaigning to keep their seats try to figure out how to squeeze the citizenry of the United States even dryer.

Here’s an NPR story on what’s going on Congress Really is as Bad as You Think.

I’d wish us all a happy new year in a few days, but I just don’t feel that optimistic.