Archive | November, 2012

Calling all plutocrats…

26 Nov


from the book Povert and Progress by George Henry. A good oldie.



To employers in the US: Why becoming a Christian Scientist will Lower your Bottom Line

23 Nov

One of the debates in health care in the US now concerns the right of Catholic employers not to pay for birth control and abortions for their employees. Employers feel that they have sinned against God if they are forced to include birth control in their employee health benefits.

This is yet another example of the wonderful diversity and protection of minority rights that exists in the US of A. Catholic employers should not have to bear the sinful weight of preventing a rightful life to being born, or even conceived, on their shoulders.

But why stop here? The trait of an advanced society is its constant progress and inclusion of minority rights. In this case, it would not do to give only preferential treatment for Catholic employers, but also other employers with different beliefs. Take Christian Scientists. Christian Scientists believe that we should not interfere with the natural states of the human body with medicines.Instead, you show your faith in God when you pray for healing in sickness and injury, and if it is not God’s will to keep your beloved alive then you must accept this with humility and thanks in God’s providence.

It should be important for such legislators considering the rights and feelings of catholic employers to also include rights of other religious employers, otherwise these legislators may very well be accused of favoritism on affirmative action. So employers who are Christian Scientists should not be forced to offer their employees any health benefits at all. Instead, these conscientious employers will give their employees the benefit of their prayers.

The image that comes to mind when I think of not thinking

21 Nov

I’m standing inside a small courtyard, surrounded by 4~5 story buildings with a bit of age on them. The courtyard is sparse and whitewashed, with a narrow tall dark metal door leading to the Outside World. The buildings painted white and blue with paint chipped some wheres. A few potted plants in plain torquise or earthen bowls dot the courtyard, gathered in little clusters to the side. You can imagine skinny brown half-dressed children running through here; this space retains an echo of excited squeals. But for now it is noon, close to the monsoon, and the air is ripe with the beads of anticipating moisture. And my body has lived here all my life so it feels cool to me, my skin dry against the thin muslim that covers me. The air is silent and streamed with sunlight full of dancing golden dust. I feel quiet inside, present and loose, as though a strong gale could topple me but I could not mind. I am slightly curious but un-opinionated, like a faun stepping gingerly through the thickets I sense my environs with relaxed caution.

And there is no one leaning over the balustrades shouting greetings, dispensing admonitions. All the neighbors are sleeping or away at a party. And my situation is poor, but not desperate, with neither prospect nor desire. And I smile mildly at the knowing that there will always be chai, in red clay cups the size of your palm, with which, perhaps later, another palm will join.

Voting Third Party, How to make your vote count

2 Nov

 Democracy doesn’t mean much if people have to confront concentrated systems of economic power as isolated individuals. Democracy means something if people can organize to gain information, to have thoughts for that matter, to make plans, to enter into the political system in some active way, to put forth programs and so on. If organizations of that kind exist, then democracy can exist too. Otherwise it’s a matter of pushing a lever every couple of years; it’s like having the choice between Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola.   ~ Noam Chomsky

People who are new to voting in the United States may be surprised when they receive the presidential ballot: That there are more than two candidates on the ballot. For most states this year, for example, there is also the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, Americans Elect, and the Constitution Party…etc. A brief web search will give you the main platforms of these parties, and many Americans may discover that these alternative parties are proposing policies that are closer to their ideals of what role the government should or should not play in our lives, as opposed to the current two party polarization where issues that are vital to some people’s hearts (support for families, environmental sustainability, downsizing of big government, regulation of banks … to quote a few disparate examples) are not part of the agenda of either party this year.


The frequent argument against voting for these parties is that it is futile: because they never have and never will win the majority of the votes. And in fact if you vote for them, you may divide the votes for the preferred candidate among your two choices. The close win of George W. Bush over Al Gore was a disappointment to many people who would have preferred Gore as a second choice to their third party vote, for example.

However, there are two main reasons that third parties need votes. First, having a percentage of the votes can help these parties stay on the ballot for the next election. Second, and more importantly, even if they are never elected due to the constraints of the current system, seeing that the third parties are receiving most of the independent votes will force the current two major parties to reconsider their current platforms. This has happened in the past. During the Great Depression of the 1930’s, a previously unseen turnout for The Socialist Party scared the Democratic Party under Franklin Roosevelt into formulating The New Deal, with strong regulations for banks and large employment plans that bolstered the middle class, bringing on another golden age.

So how can you prevent a splitting of the vote while making your voice heard through a third party vote?

If you live in a state where, in the past and according to polls, a clear majority has consistently voted for one party or the other… Say New York has nearly always voted for a Democratic candidate. You could consider voting for a third party – as your one vote is unlikely to change the vote of your state. In this day and age where corporations contribute equally to both parties to ensure their future, here is your way of ensuring yours.