Defense: a poem

Ready to defend the country
Against more than fire or flood
Our trusty park rangers
Also stand against fascism.

inspired by today’s prompt at Daily Writing Practice: the park ranger

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Some Republicans Calling for a Government Shutdown

Some Republicans are so upset over the President’s immigration announcments on Thursday that they are suggesting that they are willing to shut down the U.S. government over this dispute. This despite the fact they agree that what the President has announced is perfectly legal.

I’d love to start a discussion about immigration, but that’s not my point right now. My point is that some Republicans are so upset over the President’s legal (and in my opinion, ethical) decisions that they would rather shut down the government than deal with it or actually fix our immigration system.

THEY WANT TO SHUT DOWN THE GOVERNMENT!!!

This is just playing with the lives of all Americans, especially those who are employed by the government, or funded by a government agency. By the time we start talking about the impact on communities located near important, busy national parks, and all the government services that become unavailable, this is a major impact on ordinary people’s lives.

See, here’s the thing. If your livelihood depends in any way on the U.S. government, and the government shuts down, then you stop getting paid.* Indefinitely and without much warning. Somewhat like being laid off or fired. Except it’s worse than that, because if you’re laid off or fired, you can go look for another job. If the government shuts down, your job is still there, you just can’t work at it. So if you like your job, or the city you live in, and you start job hunting, then you face the possibility that you may be (and probably are) walking away from a job you like, maybe even love, that will be there again soon, and you may not find one that pays as well or you like as much. So you’re pretty much stuck with some unpalatable choices. Most people choose to wait it out. But that’s a drain on savings and stressful.

Given all that, Republicans threatening to shut down the government are, in my opinion, pushing the nuclear option. They can’t be bothered with negotiation, or finding another solution, or anything that actually requires work. Instead, they are like a little kid who doesn’t like the way the other kids are playing with the blocks. “I don’t like you or what you’re doing, so I’m going to take all the blocks and no one can play with them!” This is not acceptable in preschool, and it shouldn’t be acceptable to adults.

Vote Tomorrow!

Americans: Please go out and vote tomorrow! People in other countries risk their lives to vote — please take 15-30 minutes out of your life and go vote!

And if you are in Idaho, I would ask you to seriously consider voting for the Democratic candidates. The governor’s race is actually looking competitive and we need a different approach to funding education in Idaho!

I read a fascinating article in The Economist today. Entitled The Staid Young, it pretty much describes the way I look at the world. I realized that my husband and I, when we were very frugal and not adventurous in college weren’t actually 50-60 years behind the times, we were more like 10 years ahead of our time. Which makes perfect sense, as our parents fit the description of the parents of the young people acting this way now — our parents were just raising kids this way 10 years earlier than these other parents.

Today’s young adults were thus raised by a generation of parents who had fewer children later in life, and took the process more seriously.

And what does this mean for this generation’s outlook on life and the world?

Faced with economic crisis, they prefer to put their heads down and push through, rather than try to find collective solutions. Perhaps this is progress. … A lack of political action does not mean no implications for the body politic. Young people tend to take their habits with them as they age, so as this generation grows up, problems in the past thought irreparable — crime, addiction, family breakdown — may diminish further.

Read the entire article. It is truly fascinating.

Dear Congress: Have you forgotten us?

The real people who work for the government, and for government contractors? The real people who receive Social Security? The real people who put their money in banks?

We’re not just numbers on a page, we are real people living real lives. Do you even realize that there are actual people behind the numbers — when you stop paying people, there are real consequences to real people’s lives? Or is it all just a game to you — have you become so far removed from reality that it’s just a power struggle and numbers on a page?

There are real people wondering how they will pay for food, for Christmas presents, wondering if their money in the bank is safe if the US government defaults on its bonds, wondering how long they can go without regular income coming in. You talk about the destruction of the middle class when jobs were sent overseas — well, we are the last of the middle class, and you, Congress, are destroying us!

Mini Movie Review: Bidder 70 #climatechange

Had an interesting evening — I went to the local film watching group, Film for Thought, and saw Bidder 70, about Tim DeChristopher, who spoiled the BLM’s auction of oil and gas fields in Utah a few years ago.

Excellent, thought-provoking movie. I was really struck by how DeChristopher becomes a prophet for the anti-climate-change activists and how they rally around him and create a movement in support of him.

I highly recommend the movie.

Don’t Care or Already Decided — Which Camp do you fall in for the November Election?

In my newspaper today was a column by Richard Cohen, arguing that the American people have been lulled to sleep by the presidential election. He claims that the only important issue is the economy, and that neither Obama nor Romney is terribly magnetic or charismatic, so people are not paying attention to the election and don’t care. He concludes,

This is a campaign of immense consequence and, paradoxically, torpor. It’s as if it is being conducted by men who will not — or cannot — control events but are waiting for events to control them. They campaign dutifully but dully, going through the motions until Election Day. Maybe then they’ll get the audience back. In the meantime, America has gone for a beer.

I would disagree with Mr. Cohen. I don’t think Americans are torpid, I think they have already made up their minds. Now, having decided, all they have to do is wait for November and vote. In the meantime, there is much more important stuff to do — finding and keeping employment and income in this terrible economy, housing and foreclosures, the hot weather, and summer vacations.

Are you planning on voting?

Primaries are upcoming here in Idaho, and the general election will be here before we know it (however much we seem mired in campaign slog right now). Many states have passed new laws requiring identification at the polls. This identification must be current and up-to-date, with your current, legal name and address. And before you say that doesn’t apply to you, of course you have current, updated photo identification, an article by The Nation came out last week, and it quotes a Brennan survey that 10% of Americans don’t have it. Most of that 10% are women, who have last name changes due to marriage and divorce. Read the entire article.

Sunday Service: Immigration

Statue of Liberty, New York

Statue of Liberty, New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Emma Lazarus

The lines above are the concluding lines to the poem written on the Statue of Liberty. Almost all of us who live in the United States have stories in our backgrounds of how our ancestors came to this country. Most were immigrants.

Every once in a while, the politics of this country lean towards protectionism and nationalism, resulting in laws to keep out more immigrants. But these laws are a slap in the face to the founding premise of this country, that we would welcome all who come here.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear opening arguments on Arizona’s anti-immigrant law. I participated in a witness vigil against the law tonight. If you are so moved, there will be more vigils in communities across the U.S. in the coming days, and rallies and vigils outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

I don’t often discuss politics on this blog, but I feel moved to write on this topic — it is not a matter of mere politics, but of justice and human rights. For everyone whose ancestors immigrated to this country, I believe it is our duty to keep the doors open for more immigrants. We can’t slam the doors shut just because we got our chance. There is plenty for everyone.

The Glass Ceiling Still Exists

There was an article in yesterday’s Post Register about the glass ceiling in the governor’s Cabinet in Idaho. According to an investigation by the Idaho Statesman, women in the Cabinet make $17,500 less than men, when comparing median salaries.

The article quoted many people in the Cabinet and Idaho’s state employees on the reason for this gap, with all agreeing that it was not based on gender, but on the clout of the departments, the size of the departments, and other factors not related to the gender of the department heads.

I would tend to give them the benefit of the doubt, since I am not a member of Idaho’s Cabinet nor an employee of the state of Idaho, but I think it is very suspicious that in the case of two departments cited in the article, Agriculture and Commerce, the one run by a man (Commerce) is a smaller department with fewer employees (53) and yet he makes $38,000 more than the woman who runs the Agriculture department with 259 employees. And she has been in her position since 2007, and he only began his time in his position in October of last year.

I thought the most telling quotation, however, came at the very end of the article, from Tana Cory, head of the Division of Human Resources and the second-lowest paid person in the Cabinet.

“As a dedicated-fund agency, any increases would be passed on to our licensees, and I am sensitive to that in our current economy,” Cory said. “Additionally, my focus is not on my own salary but on the salaries of those who work for the bureau. So, when we have an increase in (pay), I prefer to pass on as much as possible to the employees.”

So her concern for her clients is overriding both her boss and her best interests.

Whatever the reason, I think that this pay discrepancy between the men and women in Idaho’s Cabinet is unacceptable.

You can read the entire article here (pay subscription link) or here (AP link, I think it is free).

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