Privately Owned Prisons and Private Schools

Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.

There is a movement within many circles that we need private schools such as Charter Schools which are really financed with public monies.  Whether or not we will have schools financed by the infamous Koch Brothers and other Billionaires, I have no idea, but to charge a poor family to send their children to a private school rather than a public school will be a repudiation to the idea that all children have a right to a public education paid by all the citizens of the United States.  The issue at present is that by changing our model from public and private education we can get and retain only the best teachers in the classroom.   By comparison, we have moved from state owned prisons to privately owned prisons so that we can get and retain the best criminal population for life.  For example we now have many inmates who were given long sentences for smoking marijuana,  and, since a prison is such a fine institution for training career criminals, we now have young men who were sent prison for a relatively minor offense that they are now career criminals with lifetime tenure.

So we now have a choice of public schools which include tenure after about three years in many states, with the idea that it is almost impossible to fire an inept teacher because of the cost of lawsuits.  I have been a member of an Oregon Education Association which dealt with teachers who were in the process of being fired.  As professional teachers, we took the task seriously because no one wants to work with an inept teacher.  I also know that if one gets the reputation of being skilled in  working with students with behavioral or learning problems guess who gets these students.  The lawsuit in the State of California is claiming that poorer students get inferior teachers which really has no basis for its claim.  The problem is that if one has a record of working with students from the lower classes of our society your success means that you get only these students.  The decision for this practice lies with the administrators and department chairman and with the years within the school district.  The class size for students with special problems does not diminish because if you are successful your reward is more of the same.  We had a physics teacher in the high school where I taught who not only got the more academically advanced students but did not provide any class time to help his class with their homework or classwork.  These students would come to my Mathematics Learning Center which was a self paced class, with students from Algebra II through Calculus, and ask me to help them with their physics homework.  I always told them to ask their physics teacher for help because that was part of his job and not my job.

Recently I read a review of a book by a Harvard graduate, who is a Ph.D. candidate in Education,  that the only way to get the best teachers was to use interview techniques so that only the persons who passed his interview gauntlet would be chosen for a job.  He did not believe in Tenure because with his interview technics there would no need for tenure because his methods of interviewing would guarantee success in the classroom.  I have my doubts about his system because the best measure of success is whether these teachers can maintain an orderly learning atmosphere in a classroom where the students challenge everything you do until you get the reputation that you are there to teach and they are there to learn.  No interview can predict success until a teacher is able to project a  sense of  humour with a sense of seriousness and will not tolerate disruptions which have nothing to do with the learning process.

Voting For Governor Kitzhaber Of Oregon

Walter L.Bell, Ph.D.

I received a letter from Governor Kitzhaber recently asking if I would vote for him in the upcoming election.  I am reluctant to vote for him because he cut the formula for the Public Employee Retirement System due to several very highly paid employees from the University of Oregon and possibly other places in the employment as PERS members who were allowed to include money which was not part of their regular salary.  Instead of requiring an investigation and a reversal of the persons illegal calculation of their retirement compensation,  Kitzhaber allowed the matter to stand and decided to change the compensation of retired persons with his Republican buddies so that my retirement and thousands of other retirees are paying for the retirement of the former Athletic Director and Dean of the Law School at the University of Oregon.  What should have been addressed is how PERS could have allowed this to happen and why it took a Law Suite by the Oregonian to disclose this information.  I am highly disgusted with both PERS and the present and former Governors who allowed this to happen.  The one PERS meeting I attended this year had five members who did not represent the present or former members of PERS.  In fact, there was no allowance for questions from the audience regarding the meeting or the policies being discussed.  My question is what happened to the open meeting law wherein the people attending have a right to ask questions regarding procedures and policies under discussion by the PERS Board.

I have read about both Governor Kitzhaber and the Republican candidate for Governor,  and I will have to hold my nose and vote for the present governor. The report on the Republican candidate for Governor is that he is a far worse choice than Governor Kitzhaber because of his ethical values and reputation.

In reading about Governor Kitzhaber handling of the Cover Oregon website, he had several alternatives to Oracle in the development of a website.  Since Oracle had two working websites in California and Washington, he could have asked Oracle to build a site similar to these two states. Also, he could have contacted the Computer Science Departments of Oregon State University, the University of Oregon and Portland State University to have them develop a website.  The development of a website is not like sending a spaceship to the moon which was done with computers which did not have the capabilities of the one I am using for this post.  I developed three websites using wordpress.org and Bluehost as a host.  The cost was minimal and my problems were minor, but I had offers to build a website for $5,000.   Governor Kitzhaber by contrast has spent millions of dollars and is involved with Oracle for using proprietary code developed by Oracle with his new contractor.  Oracle has filed a counter lawsuit against the State of Oregon for the use of its proprietary code by the new contractor.  I doubt the Republican candidate for Governor of Oregon can fix this debacle so I will vote for Kitzhaber for his 4th and last term.

Vladimer Putin–The Newest Russian Thug

Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.

Russia has had a long and troubled history with some of the most cruel and vile leadership of any nation.  Its most enlightened monarch was Peter the Great who tried to modernise the nation against great odds because the ruling oligarchy opposed him at every turn.  He wanted to Russia to join with the nations of Europe because Russia was basically isolated and backward in comparison.  Unfortunately he was unable to accomplish all of his goals, but he is remembered for trying to loosen the hold of the oligarchy over Russia.

The next leader to try to loosen the hold of the Communist Party over Russia was Mikhail Gorbachev  who tried to introduce  economic reforms to move industries from  state ownership to semiprivate owner ship.  One of the persons Gorbachev  recruited was Boris Yeltsin to help clean up the corruption in the Communist Party in 1985.  As a reformer Yeltsin proved to be too ambitious for his mentor Gorbachev, but when Gorbachev resigned, Yeltsin took his place and helped to move Russia closer to a civilized nation instead of a nation which imprisoned and killed more of its own citizens than had been lost in World War II.  It is estimated that under Stalin’s notorious leadership more than 20 million people were killed in his purges.  When the Soveit tanks were gathered in Moscow, Yeltsin climbed on top of one of the tanks and dared the Russian Army to fire upon its own people.  Unfortunately, Yeltsin’s economic policies caused a deep economic depression in Russia which lasted several years.  Before Yeltsin resigned he freed many of  parts of the Soviet Union such as the Ukraine, Georgia, and many of the states that had large populations of Muslim citizens such as Uzbekistan and many others.  At the time about one quarter of the Soviet Union were of the Muslim faith. Even though Yeltsin’s policies were eventually beneficial  to Russia, his great mistake was appointing Vladamer Putin to take his place.

Putin was originally a member of the KGB, the notorious version of our CIA and FBI combined.  The KGB was responsible for the death of many of the Soviet citizens during the reign of Joseph Stalin who sent millions of his own people to prisons in Siberia or had them killed outright at his own whim.  Putin the same mind set as Stalin and if left unchecked will leave his own cruel policies on his own citizens.  His goal is to put Russia back together again as the Soviet Socialist Republic so as to make Russia an international bully and threat to former states such as the Ukraine and the Balkin States.

About the only thing I agree with Senator McCain of Arizona is his statement that “if you look into Putin’s eyes you see reflected KGB,” because once a spy and bully he will always be a bully and thug.

I am reminded of the history Professor from whom I took many courses, that it is difficult to discuss Russian history because like the history of China with its more than 6,000 years of history there is too much history.

The One Trillion Dollar Farm Bill To Provide Money for Wealthy Corporate Farmers

The Republican Congress, both the House and the Senate have been crying “Wolf” over the Trillions of dollars in deficit, but when there is money to be distributed to their wealthy constituents, the response is radically different.  If one looks back over the last 60 years or more, the only people who have benefited from farm bills have been wealthy farmers and large corporate farms.  The number of people engaged in farming has fallen from more than 30% during the depression of the 1930’s to less than 3% at present.  Even large family owned farms have become incorporated, because the cost of machinery to operate a farm has become extremely expensive, so that the  one farm, one family owned farms have become almost extinct.

The latest version of the farm bill cut food stamps which provide people with low incomes with affordable sources of food.  My question is why we provide wealthy farm corporations with  the equivalent of corporate food stamps and deny our needy, underemployed, and unemployed citizens the food they need to live?  Another issue which was not addressed by the Farm Bill was the potential problem of genetically modified foods.  Currently, a snip of DNA can be attached to plant DNA which alters the basic structure of the plant.  For example, a snip of DNA can be attached to a given plant which provides the equivalent of Roundup which we use to kill weeds in our yards and gardens and fields.  Spraying  Roundup around a plant does not alter the genetics of the plant, but attaching a snip of DNA to plant so that it kills weeds that grow around the plant,  means that we may be eating Roundup when we eat a carrot, corn, lettuce, etc.  For example, I was exposed to Agent Orange when working for an irrigation district for two years.  We had Agent Orange on our hands, in our face, and when we ate our lunch because we were spraying willows and other plants which grew in the irrigations canals and inhibited the flow of water in the canals.  I became very allergic to all kinds of foods and would break out with watery blisters on my hands and with severe sinus infections.  This went on until my late thirties.

Agent Orange is 245t and 23d combined and is a growth hormone which causes the plants to grow themselves to death.  I used Agent Orange when I was 18 and 19 which was long before it was used in Vietnam to clear the jungles.  It took the Department of Defense years before Agent Orange victims were compensated for the problems it caused the soldiers who were exposed in Vietnam.  About four years ago, I called the Oregon Department of Agriculture and told them about my exposure.  The official who answered the telephone asked me if I wanted sue the State of Oregon.  I told him not at this late date which was 5o or more years later.  I do know it causes prostate cancer which I developed in my late 60’s.  The children born to women in Vietnam were often born with birth defects due to the exposure of the parents to Agent Orange.  If one looks up Agent Orange, you will also find Agent Blue, Agent Green, and so on depending upon the combinations of chemicals which have been combined.

At present, there are no double blind tests given to animals and people when a plant is genetically modified.  Monsanto, for example can genetically alter a plant without any oversight.  If a drug is developed it has to go through at least three different stages of double blind tests to determine the possible effects of the drug on humans. Genetically modified foods should be subjected to the same kind of tests before they they are sold to the public.  The Farm Bill had no such restrictions  and it will cost the taxpayers more than one trillion dollars with support by the party of no–The Republican Party.

VA Hospitals

Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.

There is nothing new about the problems with Veteran Administration Hospitals.  The current problems have existed for years, so to put the blame on General Senseki is doing him a great disservice.  We will have months of more useless hearings without any solution to the problem.  The State of Oregon closed one VA  Hospital near Medford, Oregon years ago and has one in Portland which is part of the Oregon Health Sciences University which has a great staff and resources available to Veterans.  Our Grand Daughter spent part of her time when working on her MD from OHSU where she is now employed.  She enjoyed working in that part of OSHU and working with veterans.  My choice would be to attach all the Veterans Hospitals to up-to-date hospitals which have all the most recent tests, equipment and other facilities available to Veterans as well as other patients.

Another innovation would to make Veterans part of the Affordable Care Act so that they could get the kind of specialized care needed for injuries in any hospital in the nation.  For example, currently Vietnam veterans are treated differently depending upon whether they were actually present on Vietnam soil.  I have one son-in-law who can get VA assistance because he helped to load the bombs on Air Force planes on Vietnam soil, but the other son-in-law who served two tours on an Aircraft Carrier off the coast of Vietnam is not because he did not actually go on land in  Vietnam.  He could well be suffering from the effects of Agent Orange from having been on board a ship because, given the amount Agent Orange sprayed on the jungles in Vietnam, much of it could have drifted on board the ships where he was stationed.  For example, I am considered a Korean War veteran even though I served state side, but I was exposed to Agent Orange while a member of the National Guard in Oregon.  I was employed in two different counties in Oregon where we used Agent Orange to kill willows and weeds along ditch banks and fields.  I did this over a two year period in Malheur and Union Counties in Oregon.  No one told us it was Agent Orange until I found out about it years later when I called the State of Oregon and talked to an official in the Agricultural Department.  I told him about my experience, and he asked me if I would like to sue the State of Oregon.  Agent Orange was so named because the barrel of the chemicals delivered to Vietnam were labeled with  an Orange stripe, Agent Blue, and so on because of the kind of chemicals contained in the barrels.  Agent Orange is made up of 245t and 24d which are plant growth hormones which cause the plants to grow themselves to death.  Both may father and I developed sever blistering on our hands, and I suffered for years from such outbreaks including constant sinus infections and other respiratory problems including asthma.   I also had prostate cancer in my early sixties which I was told by my doctor was known to cause prostate cancer.  I am certain that I would not be covered by VA insurance even though I served in both the National Guard and the U.S. Army on US soil during the time I was exposed to Agent Orange which was on our hands when we ate our lunch and blew back in our faces as we sprayed.  Agent Orange was also used by the US Forest Service to kill unwanted vegetation when planting trees on areas which had been clear cut where a portion of the forest is completely cleared and then replanted with new trees in Northwest Forests primarily in Oregon and
Washington.

So my suggestions would be to dramatically alter the Veterans Administration and make Veterans Health Care part of the Affordable Care Act so that a Veteran could go to any hospital which is set up to provide the kind of specialized care needed to provide treatment for any ailment which occurred during a Veterans term of service and quit using war zone designations as an excuse to deny treatment for our Veterans.

 

 

 

 

Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi….

Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.

This rallying cry by the Republican Party reminds me of the three quotations from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” that almost anyone can remember even if they had never read the play…”Hale, Hale, Hale”.   You can sound literate even if you are not.  Most Republicans keep saying  Benghazi over and over again whether they have read and remembered the facts about the incident or are just Shades from the Republican Party who have passed over from another century or on another planet in another solar system.

Another idea that just occurred to me is that Benghazi is an Arabic word, so by chanting Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi…, those Republicans with the fifty cent haircuts can sound like they are experts in all matters related to the Arabic world, and their history and language.  Rep. Darrell Issa should be named Chairman of this select committee because having made his fortune from car alarms, he is easily alarmed at all things related to the Democrats, and with a Arabic heritage, he might be able to add some other Arabic words to the Benghazi chant.

There should be Republican women on the committee because while they may not have 50 cent haircuts, they might hold hearings for the men on the committee so that they can educate the men regarding the special needs and powers that women have that men do not such as bearing children, getting pregnant or not during rape.  These subjects stumped the Republican men during the last election, so if  such subjects have any bearing on the Benghazi hearings it would be well to have the men informed.  Who knows whether the men involved in Benghazi attack might have been angry at their women because they all had arguments the night of the attack.

One last item should be mentioned, which has not made much news on CNN and Fox, is that the Ambassador and his three other assistants were warned ahead of time that the embassy at Benghazi was not secure and to go there before it had been upgraded was extremely dangerous.  The Ambassador was dedicated to his job like many of the news reporters who have been killed reporting the news.  It is a tragedy that people are killed in the line of duty, but life is never secure and free of tragedy no matter where we live or what we choose to do as an occupation.  The fact that Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State during the tragedy and may decide to run for President of the United States should not be used as the reason to continue to hold useless and wasteful hearings just to thwart her political goals.  The House of Representatives should hold hearings on their own failures during their last four years — failure to extend food stamps for hungry families — failure to continue to provide low interest loans to college students who are in need — failure to provide the money to rebuild our infrastructure for the past four years — and finally spending extensive vacations so that the House of Representatives business was not completed.  How many live were lost in their fight against doing anything positive for the health, welfare, and lives of people who have suffered because of their dereliction of duty.

 

Does the United States Have Feudalism?

By Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.

Of all the questions posed upon this website, this is one of the most important because given our current Supreme Court which has no checks and balances, unlike the Presidency, the House of Representatives, and the Senate, we are well on our way to becoming a feudalistic society where our wealthy citizens control this nation in the way that nations operated before the French Revolution.

During the era of feudalism, the noblemen controlled vast areas of land all over the world.  The serfs lived on the vast areas of land and performed all the labor to keep the nobleman’s land profitable.  They had no personal rights and were at the mercy of nobleman’s sense of right and wrong concerning their welfare.  A woman was expected to submit to the sexual desires of the nobleman.  She had no choice and could only resist at her own peril.  Men also had little choice except in the skills as carpenters, farmers, and whatever other skills were needed to keep the lands profitable.  In short, the only free peoples were the nobility, which at present, in the United States, include only the very wealthy.  When the Supreme Court, in the Citizens United ruling declared that there were no limits on the amount of money an individual could spend upon the election of Senator or Representative, the buying of a lackey who would vote as the wealthy patron just to get elected, has turned this nation into politicians who are willing to be bribed in order to get elected. The only solution to this decision is to try to appoint liberal judges to the Supreme Court, but in order to do this we have to have a majority of democrats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, plus have a Democratic President.  Also, we have to have a Republican Justice of the Supreme Court resign during the time we have a Democratic majority in all three branches of government.  We did very well during the first part of President Obama’s term in office when we had a majority in the House of Representative when we were able to pass the Affordable Care Act.  But in off term elections the Democrats go to sleep and do not turn out to vote.  This voting pattern has allowed  the Republican Party to load the Supreme Court with their own conservative candidates when a Republican President is in Power.  The Bush Presidents are responsible for most to the Conservative Justices on the Supreme Court.  Clarence Thomas is a glaring example of a black candidate who was not liked by the Black Voters.  The loss of Justice Thurgood Marshal, the civil rights hero who became the first African American Supreme Court Justice, to be replaced by Justice Clarence Thomas, during the first Bush Presidency, along with Justice Scalia, Justice Alito, Justice Kennedy, and Chief Justice John Roberts have ensured that our Democracy is in Peril.  The rich now rule the United States much as the Robber Barons did during the 1800’s and the early 1900’s, so we now have a choice either get out and vote for candidates who will not be purchased by the wealthy, or accept the present stupidity of the current Supreme Court of the United States who do not believe in voting rights or fair elections.  We are now entering the New Age of feudalism in the United States.

Operation Stupidity in the State of Tennessee

Walter  L. Bell, Ph.D.

You would think that Senator Corker and  Governor Haslam of Tennessee would take pride in a well trained workforce in their state, but they chose to threaten workers if they chose to form a union at the new Volkswagen Plant in their state.  The German meaning of Volkswagen is peoples wagon  or folks wagon.  It was designed to be cheap enough to be available to the average worker in Germany.  Although the design was basically approved prior to World War II, it did not come into production until 1946 after the war.  The Germans have always valued engineering with highly qualified workers.  In fact a now deceased German friend, who worked on the German missile program during World War II,  told me that the German War machines were so highly engineered that if one broke down on the battlefield that they could not be fixed by the average German soldier.  By contrast, the war machines built by the Allied Forces in World War II were considered sloppy by German Standards, but the US, Russian and other European Allies could repair them in the field and  use parts from other machines that had been damaged but could be placed back in service by the American soldiers, who in civilian life had been rebuilding old cars using parts from junked cars.  When the Humvee was introduced to replace the Jeep, it did not have any armor plating for the IED introduced by Iraq’s insurgent troops, so the US troops without authorization from the US Army did it themselves until the Defense Department finally got around to requiring manufacturers to include armor plate these vehicles.

If Senator Corker and Governor Haslam of  Tennessee had the workers interests, instead of their own political interests in mind, they would not have tried to intimidate the workers at the new Volkswagen plant.  A well trained workforce, who the management of the plant is willing include in the running of the plant, should be a desired outcome by management in any company.  However, the Southern States have pursued discriminatory policies in both voting and worker rights since President Lyndon Johnson signed  into law his Great Society Legislation, in 1964 and 1968, which included laws for civil rights for all citizens regardless of race.  It is no secret that workers at the Volkswagen plant would include racial diversity with bargaining rights and employee representation.  The German government has pursued these rights and has encouraged technical training because they understand that a well trained workforce can compete with any workforce in the world, and are also the most loyal workers in the world because they are not discriminated  against because of  race or ethnic origins.

My origins and sympathies are with the South, but when it comes to racial and ethnic discrimination, labor unions, voting restrictions, and other rights of the citizens of the United States in any region, I have no patience with any part of the United States which denies equal rights of its citizens to work, to organize, and to prosper.  This is the reason the United States has become a magnet for other citizens of foreign countries who discriminate against the rights of their own citizens.  The United States entered into a new era when the Supreme Court of the United States signed the Citizens United law which made a corporation a person. I would not be surprised if ALEC is behind this with its billionaire backers, such as the Koch Brothers.  ALEC has been against labor unions, voting rights, and many other measures which guarantee equal rights of all our citizens.

If the State of  Tennessee and the rest of the Southern States would still like to join the Union, known as the United States of America, we would welcome them as long as all their citizens are granted the freedom and dignity enjoyed by the more enlightened states.  The Supreme Court Justices who claim that voting rights are not mentioned in the Constitution should read it again because neither are atomic bombs, nuclear accelerators, and many other scientific  and technical devices such as modern operating rooms, computers  in classrooms and homes, and also televisions.  So for a state such as Tennessee and many other states north and south, east and west, to prevent and threaten their citizens from voting or participating and bargaining for salary, working conditions, and pay is backward and discriminatory.

 

 

Life With A Papillon

When our dog Kalu died my wife was without her faithful companion, so she decided that life without a dog was not for her. She had watched a dog show where a Papillon had won “BEST OF SHOW”  and was placed in the winners bowl. The Papillon fit into the bowl and literally preened as if to say, “I am beautiful”. So my wife looked up the available breeders of Papillons. She drove about 50 miles to meet the owners of the Papillon puppies. She had her choice of two male puppies and chose the one we now have which we named Nieko. He has several other nicknames depending upon his behavior. The one comment the woman made, who sold us Nieko, as she was driving away was, “Papillon’s do shed a lot”. That comment was the understatement of the century. Each day we have to use a dust mop to get all the dog hair off the floor or use a roller to get it off our clothes. My sweaters look like I am a hairy dog so I try not to get near Nieko if I am expected to look presentable. In fact, any clothing which has a slick finish is hair magnet, so I wear black jeans which have washed enough times to be Nieko proofed.

Another Nieko characteristic, which can be totally annoying when we are watching TV, is his barking whenever an animal appears on the screen. Since my wife has spent a lot of time in bed to severe back pain, Nieko loves to spend his time watching TV on the bed with her. Before the actual picture of an animal appears on the screen he knows the lead in and will sit up ready to bark. Watching Animal Planet is a forbidden choice if he is awake and not in his kennel for the night. A psychologist wrote a book claiming that animals do not possess a memory. I do not know what he was smoking, but he did not have a clue about animals. He probably could not tell the difference between stuffed animals and real live animals.

Nieko knows the sound of a UPS or Fedex truck when it comes by our house and alerts us immediately. It doesn’t help that the drivers ring the doorbell and give him dog cookies. He also barks at people who walk down the sidewalk or kids who are playing nearby. We do have a home alarm system with Nieko as a back up in case it fails.

When Nieko was a puppy, he had a coat to wear when it was cold or rainy outside, but once he grew a full coat of hair he would run if we tried to put on his old coat.  He also loves a bath and will get in the shower when we get out the two towels we use to dry him. Kalu our dog previous to Nieko hated to take baths. Our dog Zach, who was supposedly a Minature Snauser, but weighed 29 pounds, also loved his bath, so it isapparent that to bathe or not to bathe depends upon the breed of the dog.

The most interesting characteristic about Nieko is that he howls like a wolf with his head raised and pointed at the ceiling. He did this spontaneously one day and now he will do so with prompting and has gotten so much attention that we, members of the family, can get him to howl by howling with him. My grandson took a picture of him howling with his iphone, and we were able to save it to my computer for others to see. Unfortunately, it is lost somewhere on my computer so I cannot find it to include on this post.

Finally, if you are not a dog lover, I can understand because I am not a cat lover, although I tolerate them because my stepdaughter and son-in-law are both dog and cat lovers. The cats and their dog live on the upper floor, so our combined household lives in animal harmony.

I should tell you that papillons come in black and white and brown and white with varying sizes and weights with ours being a little taller and heavier than others in the neighborhood. On October 1, 2012 Nieko jumped off the bed and ruptured a vertebrae in his back which left him paralysed. Luckily there is an animal hospital nearby where his disc was repaired, and he has been on a long recovery period. He can no longer run up or down stairs or jump on or off the bed. We keep a leash on him whenever he is on the bed attached our arm so that he cannot jump off the bed. We keep him away from large dogs because they could rupture a disc just by putting a paw on top of his spine. The surgery is the same as the surgeon performed on my wife’s spine about three years ago. When she told her surgeon recently about Nieko’s surgery, he was surprised because he did not know that veternary surgeon skills were as advanced as his own.

I published this post in January, but for some reason only  the title was printed.

Extreme Poverty in the United States

Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.

I recently viewed a TV special on poverty in the Portland, Oregon Metropolitan region where families were interviewed about their attempts find long term employment so that they could feed and house their families. It was the most depressing film I have ever seen on the subject. I know about poverty first hand because I grew up in a family of eight during a time when my father was in ill health due to working eighteen hour days as a contractor on irrigation projects during the great depression. We did have one advantage the people in the film did not have. We lived on a farm which we took out of the sagebrush as part of the homestead act which no longer exists. Under this act we paid $80 for 80 acres of land. We not only had to clear the land, but over a period of seven years, one had to make improvements such as building a house, improving the land and be able to make a living on the land.

In the film about poverty in Portland, Oregon, the unemployed people do not have the opportunity that we had to grow our own food, build our own house, and live in a place without the constant threat of having to move out and live in shelters or in their cars. This depressing film showed people evicted from their apartments or homes because the jobs they had were no longer available because the economy had gone from bad to worse starting in 2008 or earlier. Over and over, the people being interviewed stated that they had always worked and enjoyed working, but because of the 2000 depression they lived under the constant threat of being on public assistance which the latest US Congress failed to extend before they recessed to go home to their states. The grand bargain that Rep. Paul Ryan(Republican) and Sen. Patty Murray(Democrat) got passed in both the House and Senate voting did not include extending unemployment for these unfortunate people who will have to live out or their cars, or in a public shelter, or try to get food from the volunteer outlets which do not have enough food to go around. These people are not the mythical 47 per cent that Mitt Romney was deriding in his speech to the wealthy. They are people living under the constant threat of starving and living in unsanitary conditions. The primary reason for this problem is that we have allowed our largest corporations to relocate in foreign countries in order to escape having to pay taxes and pay workers a living wage which includes pensions for retirement. In the community where I live, we have a Wallmart Superstore being built, not because we need the store, but because one wealthy land owner got on the city counsel and was able to get approval for this ill advised project. The city violated the open meeting laws by passing this project without the people of this community approving or having an opportunity to vote on it. Wallmart is the face of corporate America which likes to claim that the United States is the wealthiest nation in the World, but that wealth extends only to the millionaires and billionaires, and not the other 99% of the population of the United States.