WE NEED CHANGE.

I think the number of children living in poverty in the U.S. is about the same as in Britain. In the richest countries of the world, including the U.S. and Britain, it is immoral to have so many children living below the poverty line. In fact, I believe the child poverty stats indicate that rich countries like us are morally bankrupt! As the artist who created a nifty and instructive poster said, Zero children should be living in poverty. “We need change.”

Indeed. We as a society (and as an electorate) have both the means and the power to reduce child poverty nearly to zero. But do 51 percent of us want to really do that? Do 51 percent of us even care?

I’m afraid to say the answer.

(You can see the poster by clicking on the Abba1blog post below.)

— John Hayden

abba1blog

This started of as a little sketch of a table and chairs in a coffee shop, which evolved in to a mini poverty poster!

I have been reading so much lately about the hidden and unspoken inequality and hardship that goes on in Britain that no one speaks about, and most probably don’t even know about, for example these insane poverty statistics.I think when your’e eating a cinnamon swirl with a soy latte you realise how lucky you actually are? and that a cinnamon swirl probably isn’t a life necessity (no its definitely not). So all of us in that coffee shop that day who were spending too much money on cake, are lucky people to even be able to have that as a opportunity to us, and i completely recognize that.

The fact that 1 in 4 kids live in poverty I think is really really sad, as like…

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Transparency And Truth In Charlotte

Wednesday evening, and into the wee hours of Thursday morning, I watched the news from Charlotte, mostly on MSNBC, occasionally clicking over to CNN.

A couple of criticisms of the cable TV news coverage come to mind: Continue reading

Bernie Sanders Wants To Change The Democratic Party

Give Justice A Chance

Bernie Sanders made it clear last night in California that he’s no longer running against Hillary Clinton. He’s running against Trump.

But more importantly, Bernie continues to run because he hopes to imprint his values and issues indelibly on American politics.

Bernie wants to establish a left-of-center political movement that will live on long after the 2016 primary season is over. Continue reading

Promising Books By Ta-Nehisi Coates, Thomas Piketty, And Anne Tyler

NEHISI COATES (via Wikipedia)

TA-NEHISI COATES (via Wikipedia)

The world is full of troubles, no doubt about it. I cannot sugarcoat the facts to turn bad news into good. I think nearly every great religion holds to a basic premise that good will triumph over evil in the end. What we can do is point out some of the positive thoughts and actions along the way. With luck, the accretion of positive thoughts and actions will lead us in the right direction.

Good books are harbingers of hope and progress. My reading list never lacks for worthy books, and more are published constantly. I’ll never catch up. Here are three that I urgently need to read.

I   “Between The World And Me,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, is the most recent addition to the reading list, thanks to a review by Carlos Lozada in the Outlook section of Sunday’s Washington Post. Coates is America’s “foremost intellectual,” and also “liberal America’s conscience on race,” according to Lozada. If you’re interested in understanding America’s struggles with “racism, white privilege, institutional violence and structural inequality,” this would appear to be the book to read. The Washington Post book review is here.

II   “Capital In The Twenty-First Century,” by Thomas Piketty, the renowned French economist. It’s a treatise on wealth concentration and distribution over the past 250 years. The author proposes a progressive global tax on wealth, according to Wikipedia. The Economist review in four paragraphs.

III   “A Spool Of Blue Thread,” by Anne Tyler, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. “Blue Thread” is a study of a fictional Baltimore family. I think I can promise that this one will be easier going and more comforting than Piketty’s “Capital,” but it’s sure to be a good read. I’ve read all of Tyler’s previous novels, and they all provide more psychological insight than your average novel. Tyler is one of America’s greatest contemporary novelists. The NPR book review is here.

By coincidence, for my Maryland readers, both Coates and Tyler are Baltimoreans.

I can’t personally recommend books that I haven’t yet read. I’m trusting that all three will live up to their advance press. If anyone here has read one of the books, your thoughts are welcome. If you haven’t read a book this year, your thoughts are still welcome.

(Note: Ta-Nehisi Coates is the correct spelling of the author’s name. I apologize for getting it wrong in the original posting.)

— John Hayden

A Homeless Guy, A Billionaire, And A Dumpster. Be Happy.

blue dumpster

So a rich guy and a homeless guy walk into a bar . . .

Sorry, let me start over. So a rich guy and a homeless guy walk into a dumpster . . .

One more time. A rich guy and a homeless guy walk into The Washington Post . . .

America is officially a “Tale of Two Cities,” as New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says.

The grand canyon between extreme wealth and abject poverty has grown so wide and deep that we have lost all perspective. We have become indifferent and uncaring.

It’s common for the rich, especially, to believe that poor people choose to be poor. The rich imagine the poor are HAPPY.

Continue reading

‘Street Pope,’ By Dan Rodricks In The Sun

Aside

Dan Rodricks has a great column about Pope Francis, the “Street Pope,” in the Christmas Eve edition of The Baltimore Sun.

Link

If Samuel Johnson Could See Us Now

Portrait of Samuel Johnson commissioned for He...

Portrait of Samuel Johnson commissioned for Henry Thrale’s Streatham Park gallery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Read the opinion piece by Ron Pagano in last week’s Salisbury (MD) Times. Samuel Johnson said: “Patriotism is the last stronghold of scoundrels.”

Detroit Bankruptcy, Now We Wait

Largest Bankruptcies

Largest Bankruptcies (Photo credit: Adam Crowe)

Long-term viability of Social Security has been a subject of concern for years. Now, the Detroit bankruptcy filing turns the spotlight on municipal and state pensions.

I personally believe Social Security is in better financial shape than most people think. Social Security can easily survive into the 22nd century and beyond, if only we have the will.

Detroit skyline

Detroit skyline (Photo credit: Bernt Rostad)

But retirees, and anyone who expects to retire in the future, ought to be nervous about the shock waves from the Detroit bankruptcy. How many other cities, big and small, will have their credit ratings reduced? How many more will follow Detroit into bankruptcy? Not many, we may hope.

Continue reading

Summer Of Discontent And Division

SOMETIMES IT SEEMS LIKE WE'RE PADDLING AS HARD AS WE CAN, BUT GOING NOWHERE. AND SOMETIMES, WE'RE GOING OUR SEPARATE WAYS. -- John Hayden photo

SOMETIMES WE’RE PADDLING HARD, IN OPPOSITE DIRECTIONS. — John Hayden photo

This is the summer of discontent and division in America. We’re fractured by class, race, gender, age, and politics.

Yes, I’ve written about divisions before, at least once or twice. Consider this a seasonal update.

stock mktAs U.S. stock markets set new records, people who don’t own stocks are being squeezed and crushed. Recession may be over, technically, but only now are Americans feeling the wrenching pain from the economic dislocation of the past decade.

Continue reading

Dwindling Jobs, College Debt, Clueless Politicians (With Extended Discussion in Comments)

Economic and political difficulties — especially issues of justice — are on my mind, as always. Guess I’ve been reading too many scary books about economics and the jobs outlook.

What is the outlook? In developing countries, manufacturing that’s always on the move, stalking the cheapest labor. In Western countries, an abundance of jobs for machines, robots and computers; for human beings, not so much. Continue reading