Saturday, January 27, 2007

Friday, January 26, 2007

Rescued from Behind the Firewall

Krugman on inquality, justice, and a defense of partisanship:
. . . Barack Obama recently lamented the fact that “politics has become so bitter and partisan” — which it certainly has.

But he then went on to say that partisanship is why “we can’t tackle the big problems that demand solutions. And that’s what we have to change first.” Um, no. If history is any guide, what we need are political leaders willing to tackle the big problems despite bitter partisan opposition. If all goes well, we’ll eventually have a new era of bipartisanship — but that will be the end of the story, not the beginning.

Or to put it another way: what we need now is another F.D.R., not another Dwight Eisenhower.

You see, the nastiness of modern American politics isn’t the result of a random outbreak of bad manners. It’s a symptom of deeper factors — mainly the growing polarization of our economy. And history says that we’ll see a return to bipartisanship only if and when that economic polarization is reversed.

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Here's the Problem

With the newest healthcare "reform" proposal on the table, as summarized by one of our most thoughtful social policy analysts. I mean, of course, Stephen Colbert.
It's so simple. Most people who couldn’t afford health insurance also are too poor to owe taxes. But...if you give them a deduction from their taxes they don’t owe, they can use the money they're not getting back from what they haven't given to buy the health care they can't afford.
Link to the video here

The Economic Costs of Child Poverty

Brief testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee here -- it's a decent quick overview of the state of research on the subject from Harry Holzer of the Urban Institute and Georgetown.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

From Case to Cause

The combined Social Action and Common Day Committees have begun discussions of programming for the March 8, 2007 WSSW Common Day. One of the issues we're considering focusing upon is the panoply of challenges facing Iraq War Veterans, especially relevant given how many of the dead and injured have roots in the NYC area (see this previous post for geographic data on those killed in action).

Here's a link to a December Newsday article that sparked our interest. Fell free to post Comments.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Sunday, January 21, 2007

SGA Meeting


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Friday, January 19, 2007

Healthcare Accessibility in New York City

Mapped by race/ethnicity and income

Who Profits from War?

Here's one account. You might also see the recent documentary, Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers.

The Cost of War

From the Boston Globe:
The cost of the Iraq war could top $2 trillion after factoring in long-term healthcare for wounded US veterans, rebuilding a worn-down military, and accounting for other unforeseen bills and economic losses, according to a new analysis to be presented today in Boston.

The estimate by Columbia University economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard lecturer Linda Bilmes far exceeds projections made by the Bush administration.

The figure is more than four times what the war was expected to cost through 2006 -- around $500 billion, according to congressional budget data.

. . . . . . .

Predicting overall costs when no one knows how long the war will last, or how many US troops will remain deployed and for how long, is an imprecise exercise.

But the range of some future expenses can be assessed, such as the likely medical bills and disability payments for the soldiers who have been wounded in the conflict.

Twenty percent of them, for example, have serious brain or spinal injuries that will require life-long care.

More here

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Silence is Betrayal

Edwards on MLK

And King himself:

Friday, January 12, 2007

Innocent Until Proven. . . . .Oh, Never Mind

From the Center for American Progress:
WHO ARE THE GITMO DETAINEES?: "It's important for Americans and others across the world to understand the kind of people held at Guantanamo," Bush said a few months ago. "These aren't common criminals, or bystanders accidentally swept up on the battlefield - we have in place a rigorous process to ensure those held at Guantanamo Bay belong at Guantanamo." Facts tell a different story. A National Journal investigation found that "seventy-five of the 132 men" examined are "not accused of taking part in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners." Just 57 of the 132 men, or 43 percent, are "accused of being on a battlefield in post-9/11 Afghanistan. The government's documents tie only eight of the 132 men directly to plans for terrorist attacks outside of Afghanistan." Stuart Taylor of the National Journal found "fewer than 20 percent of the Guantanamo detainees, the best available evidence suggests, have ever been Qaeda members. ... Many scores, and perhaps hundreds, of the detainees were not even Taliban foot soldiers, let alone Qaeda terrorists. They were innocent, wrongly seized noncombatants with no intention of joining the Qaeda campaign to murder Americans." The AP found that once Guantanamo detainees were returned to their home country, four-fifths of them "were either freed without being charged or were cleared of charges related to their detention." "Only a tiny fraction of transferred detainees have been put on trial," and all 29 detainees who were repatriated to Britain, Spain, Germany, Russia, Australia, Turkey, Denmark, Bahrain and the Maldives were freed, "some within hours after being sent home for 'continued detention.'"

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Where They Came From

From the Army Times:

Not Deaf Enough

From the last three paragraphs of "Deafness and the Riddle of Identity," by Lennard Davis, in The Chronicle Review. Interesting piece, and worth reading the whole thing (oh, go on -- it's short). Hat tip to Arts & Letters Daily, which is itself worth regular visits.

Deaf people aren't the only ones struggling to define themselves in this new age of post-identity. They don't have to go it alone. What brings together all the social injustices of the past 200 years is the idea that people with various bodily traits have been discriminated against because of those traits. Rather than defining people according to those traits, a newer, more-inclusive concept of identity holds that you can't base your full and complex identity on those putative bodily traits because you can't justify their existence as markers anymore. The grand categories of race, gender, and so on are no longer valid because they no longer contain rigid fire walls. Who is black and who is white, who is a man and who is a woman are questions whose answers are murkier than ever. Likewise, deafness as a category can exist only if you rely on comparably rigid fire walls. If you let go of the idea of rigid boundaries, then you have to face a more continuous line of possibilities, including the hearing-impaired, hard of hearing, partially deaf, profoundly deaf, and so on. You also have to deal with people with varying degrees of both oral and ASL abilities, including a range of ASL usage among children of deaf adults. So the concept of deafness can get very messy, unless you perform a kind of "common sense" purifying of the category -- which might work, but has the same pitfalls as "common sense" racial categories, for example. Common sense in this context is really just socially constructed truisms that are never really common at all.

I am arguing that defining the deaf or any other social group in terms of ethnicity, minority status, and nationhood (including "deaf world" and "deaf culture") is outdated, outmoded, imprecise, and strategically risky. We would be better off expanding our current notions of identity by being less Procrustean and more flexible. Rather than trying to force the foot into a glass slipper, why not make a variety of new shoes that actually fit?

In that scenario, for example, people who are "one generation thick" could find commonality. So people with disabilities, deaf people, gay people, and children of deaf adults could say: We represent one potential way out of the dead end of identity politics. We are social groups that are not defined solely by bodily characteristics, genetic qualities, or inherited traits. We are not defined by a single linguistic practice. We need not be defined in advance by an oppressor. We choose to unite ourselves for new purposes. We are not an ethnic or minority group, but something new and different, emerging from the smoke of identity politics and rising like a phoenix of the postmodern age.

Wellstone Fellowship



Deadline: February 2, 2007

A program of FamiliesUSA ( ), the Wellstone Fellowship for Social Justice is designed to foster the advancement of social justice through participation in healthcare advocacy work that focuses on the unique challenges facing many communities of color. Through this fellowship, Families USA hopes to expand the pool of talented social justice advocates from underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups, particularly from the Black/African American, Latino, American Indian, and Asian and Pacific Islander communities. The goals of the Wellstone fellowship program are three-fold: to address disparities in access to health care; to inspire Wellstone Fellows to continue to work for social justice throughout their lives; and to increase the number and racial and ethnic diversity of up-and-coming social justice advocates and leaders. The Wellstone Fellow plays an integral role in the work of Families USA's Minority Health Initiatives Department. The fellow's primary responsibilities include assisting in the organization of trainings for community leaders and journalists and drafting policy briefs, fact sheets, and other publications. During the year, the Wellstone Fellow will learn about important health policy issues and how these issues play a role in reducing racial and ethnic health disparities and improving the health of communities of color. The fellowship will last one year, from August 2007 through July 2008, and fellows will receive a compensatory package that includes an annual stipend of $35,000 and healthcare benefits. One fellow is selected each year.

Obit of note

from the NYT:
Jane Bolin, whose appointment as a family court judge by Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia in 1939 made her the first black woman in the United States to become a judge, died on Monday in Queens. She was 98 and lived in Long Island City, Queens.

. . . .

The “lady judge” was frequently in the news at the time of her appointment with accounts of her regal bearing, fashionable hats and pearls. But her achievements transcended being a shining example. As a family court judge, she ended the assignment of probation officers on the basis of race and the placement of children in child-care agencies on the basis of ethnic background.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Disappeared

More on the American Gulag, from Meteor Blades.
January 11 marks an international day of protest against the incarcerations at Guantánamo. You can find out more at this site.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Working Class Hero

From Mark Naison, History News Network:

When Wesley Autrey threw himself on top of a young man who had fallen onto the tracks to save him from an oncoming train, he not only reminded us that heroism is something that manifests itself in daily life as well as war and times of emergency, he gave new life and meaning to a great New York tradition. In a city of immigrants, where almost every person is a descendent of someone who took extraordinary risks just to come here, courage, especially physical courage, is an important part of the cultural capital of our city's neighborhods. It is no accident that Wesley Autrey was a construction worker, but he could easily have been a transit worker, police officer, firefighter, sanitation worker, elevator repair person, EMT, or any one of the hundreds of thosands of people in our city whose work involves some level of danger. Though the investment bankers, the real estate moguls, and the advertising executives are the ones reaping the greatest rewards in our post-industrial economy, it is still New York's workers who keep the city moving, fix things when they break, and rescue us both individually and collectively when we find ourselves in trouble.

. . . . . . .

So in honoring Wesley Autrey, let us remember that our city's most valuable and honorable traditions, are not strictly commercial, nor are normally rewarded in stock options and bonuses,but rest in the lived experience of millions of working class New Yorkers of every race and nationality who know that generosity to others is the true test of our common humanity. Maybe some day that realization will come to guide our political priorities and our way of allocating resources.

Medicare Middleman Multiplication Act of 2003

Krugman on Medicare, via Welcome to Pottersville

An American Gulag

From "American Gulag," by Eliza Griswold, Harper's Magazine, September 2006 Issue
Estimated number of people held by the US in its "war on terror":

* 450 held in Guantanamo
* 13,000 "detained" in Iraq
* 500 held in Afghanistan
* 100 held in secret "black sites" worldwide


* 98 detainees have died
* 34 of these deaths are under investigation
* 600 US personnel have been implicated in some form of abuse