This past week, the Pew Research Center released a study of the most liberal and conservative American cities, with San Francisco coming out as the most liberal city, and Mesa, Arizona, (population- 439,000), the most conservative. While the city rankings shouldn’t come as a major surprise, what is interesting is how few conservative cities there are. Of the 77 cities in the survey, only 11 of them were placed on the conservative side of the spectrum.
With powerful wording and heartfelt delivery, Clint Smith makes the case against silence and apathy in just a few minutes. A Desmond Tutu quote comes to mind: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” When it comes to conflict and current events, it is up to us to sift through the grey, find the injustice, and to speak against it. To do otherwise is to take the side of oppression. Complacency and apathy are not acceptable.
Prison populations are booming, and it’s a relatively new trend. Since the year of 1980, the number of people incarcerated has more than quadrupled. The United States has a measly five percent of the world’s population, but a quarter of those jailed. The way we prosecute and sentence for crimes is systemically racist. And if that weren’t troubling enough, the advent of for-profit institutions with a quota for inmates means there are prisons being run for profit from the incarceration of other human beings. Lobbyists for prison corporations put massive pressure on state legislatures to change laws, getting more people arrested and jailed. And recidivism rates are high — too many of those who leave prison end up coming back.
While campaign finance reform and other complicated issues are tied to getting private interest out of the prison business, there are certainly other reforms that, if instituted widely, would aid in lowering recidivism, improving inmate quality and worth of life, and making prisons more useful and less expensive. Through innovation and experience, Dan Pacholke outlines common sense prison reform that the United States should stand up and pay attention to — it’s obvious our current model isn’t working.
Analysts from the Wall Street research agency Standard & Poor’s developed some interesting research released Tuesday concerning income inequality and its effects on the economy. The research brief talks about what could be described as a double-edged sword. They state that although some inequality may stimulate the economy through competition, the amount of income inequality that the country is currently facing is harming consumers and slowing economic recovery and growth. The S&P also went so far as to decrease their 10-year growth estimate from 2.8 percent (from five years ago) to 2.5 percent.
The idea is that when the nation’s wealthiest individuals earn such a large portion of the wealth, they do not spend it. The money becomes stagnant, therefore leading to economic decline due to the lack of currency circulation. What we see here are men and women who literally have more money than they know what to do with. Not only are these citizens harming their employees, they are also harming the largest economy in the world. While static wages have been held over the heads of so many, Wall Street’s revenues and bonuses have skyrocketed. This is the reason why when someone looks at stock prices and indices, they might think the economy has left the recession, when in truth the middle and lower classes have often experienced no relief.
Sarah Palin recently released a video titled “A Conservative Response to Elizabeth Warren’s Progressive Commandments.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) outlined several principles that self-proclaimed progressives uphold. These principles include more comprehensive Wall St. regulation and tougher enforcement, actively listening to scientists, and basing environmental protections legislation on scientifically accurate information. Furthermore, she stated that the internet should not exist to benefit corporate superpowers and that the USA needs to re-evaluate what real net neutrality is.
Here’s a clip of the video on wages. The full video can be seen here:
Sen. Warren also discussed economic policies, stating that progressives believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty. For workers, it means a minimum wage increase, due to the fact that the minimum wage is not a living wage. Not particularly fond of the idea, Palin’s response to the purposed minimum wage hike was:
“We believe in lifting Americans out of poverty and into sustainable jobs. Now, that means government needs to butt out. Butt out of employer-employee pay issues and quit overregulating businesses and increasing taxes – it drives up operating costs. That’s what affects wages.”
Voters often battle with the question, “does my vote count?”
The numbers we see are startling. The United States ranks among the lower half of countries with similar voting systems. According to Fairvote.org, roughly 40 percent of eligible voters participate in the midterms. That number increases to approximately 60 percent during presidential elections. These numbers can tell us many things, from how apathetic the voting public has become to how little the voting public understands how their government works. So when voters ask themselves ”Does my vote count?” the answer seems to be, “maybe, maybe not.” It really depends on how you look at it. Does your vote pick the final candidate? Sure. Does it influence the way that candidate casts their votes? Not likely.
Americans have a very whitewashed opinion of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one that is carefully cultivated in schools and news networks to present a very compassionate, touchy-feely man. Dr. King felt morally obligated to resist and to organize resistance to anti-black racism in America in a way that was non-violent, which he spells out in this video clip, preserved by CBS’s “60 Minutes.”
Dr. King was a consummate extemporaneous speaker. He created masterful subtexts for most of what he said, and was able to easily bring difficult, controversial subjects to the attention of white America in ways that they would listen to. His rhetoric was inflammatory, but that is the right of any speaker for oppressed peoples.
"There is a sense of urgency."
"Riots are the voice of the unheard."
There is not, nor should there be, any doubt as to what Dr. King was referring to. A state that willfully and knowingly oppresses people of color is a racist state, a white supremacist state, and it will not last. It cannot last. As Carl Sagan put it, “An organism at war with itself is doomed.”