Mark considers the news that the 'California Ethnic Studies' curriculum is back and coming to a classroom near you soon.
A little over a year ago California’s Assembly passed an ethnic studies bill, AB 331, and handed it off to California’s Education Department (CED) to write and deliver the curriculum. The CED did just that, and then attempted to get it adopted by quickly and very quietly soliciting public comments just after the school year ended when parents were less likely to be paying attention.
Did you hear about it? Probably not.
Mark wonders why there is so much hatred and if America is beyond saving.
“Holy hyper-partisanship Batman! Our democracy is seriously dysfunctional and we’re in danger of losing our nation because our system is broken. Can you fix it Batman?”
It’s that time again folks. It occurs every four years. The nation looks for someone we can believe in….a superhero that can heal the unprecedented level of political animosity that’s turned us into warring tribes rather than united Americans who go about their lives in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.
Enter the political candidates. This time it’s Trump and Biden. Different people saying the same things every four years. Mostly bullshit by the way and I confess that, I too, like many of you, tend to throw caution to the wind and get sucked into the belief that there is someone out there who can heal the polarization that has become America’s Achilles heel. The usual promise is to unite us; to bring the warring factions together because, well, only they have some kind of superpower that the other candidate doesn’t. And we find ourselves hopeful yet again.
Clive asks whether the angst over mask wearing is productive?
In what seems like a classic case of failing to see the forest from the trees; friends, neighbors and social media seem to be more exercised by the morality and principles of mask wearing than with the far more consequential health and socio-economic consequences of Coronavirus.
To get your attention, and to prove the delinquency of our puerile debates on masks, here are a few alarming numbers. As a result of distressed socio-economic systems around the world, predictions are for an additional 6.3 million cases of Tuberculosis resulting in an additional 1.3 million deaths. An additional 769,000 deaths from malaria, and 550,000 HIV related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa alone. (1). Worst case scenarios suggest that an additional 100 million people will fall into poverty living off less than $1.90 a day. (2)
To put those numbers in context, as I write, there have been 766,393 deaths worldwide from CV19, with 172,301 of those in the US and 41,361 in the UK.
Yet the most vociferous, hostile and divisive debates are about wearing masks!
Mark's thoughts on School Closures.
The nation’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association, said its members will do “whatever it takes” to protect students during this pandemic. “Nobody wants to see students back in the classroom more than educators, but when it comes to their safety, we’re not ready to take any options off the table,” the group’s president, Lily Eskelsen García, said in a statement.
In many local school districts around the country there seems to be a bit more to it than just safety of teachers and students. Take the Los Angeles School District for example, I’d like Lily Eskelsen Garcia to please explain what shutting down charter schools, defunding police, government run Medicare for All, funding housing for the homeless, financial support for undocumented students and families, a California state wealth tax, a ban on evictions, and oh yes, of course, a federal bailout of the bankrupt LAUSD so they can meet their obligations to retired teachers and staff. These are just some of the conditions that the L.A. Teachers Union has demanded before they even consider reentering the classroom. Because it’s in the students best interest of course.
Masks or no masks, it is becoming increasingly clear that there are more impenetrable barriers between us these days than a piece of cloth. Rabid political partisanship is rampant among our communities and infecting all of us.
How does a Re-Open SLO Facebook Group transform into a ‘Freedom Rally? What has re-opening local businesses got to do with giving a platform to speakers that rant about the supremacy of Judeo-Christian religion? Or promoting a university academic called Thaddeus Kozinsky who claims that 9/11 was a conspiracy theory and Bill Gates is part of a global cabal trying to take over the world? Why invite a “Christian Conservative Activist” from Fresno called Ben Bergquam who believes “homosexuality is sin” and that “liberalism is a plaque on society”?
One. Count them. One. Not a hundred. Not a thousand. One. That is the number of people in San Luis Obispo County who have died with Coronavirus (CV19). On the day the 82 year old man who was also suffering from underlying health conditions died, 25,000 human beings around the world died from starvation. In the US about 110 Americans died in car accidents. 183 died from a drug overdose. On that day about 600 Californians died from cancer or cardiovascular disease.
Yet the powers that be at State and County level have ordered the shutdown of our economy, the single biggest act of financial self-mutilation ever perpetrated by a government in the history of this country. In a little over a month 3 million Californians have filed for unemployment. Estimates are that 20% will be out of work in two months. State experts say we are already in a recession that could last for years.
Those of us who live here, well all but one of us, are the lucky ones. Across the country in New York State, 14,000 have died.
The days when food and beverages are made not in a farmyard or vineyard but in factories are upon us.
Wines without vines, booze without berries, beef without cows and fish without….well water!
Burger King is selling the ‘Impossible Whopper’, the equivalent of their Whopper burger, only this one is made entirely out of plant-based ingredients grown in labs.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg. With the world's population due to add another 2 billion people in the next 30 years, (that’s like adding another China, America, Mexico & Russia), the race is on to feed the human race without destroying the planet.
The UN forecasts that to feed 9 billion people will require a 20% expansion in water use, but water use already exceeds supply in many places, including a country like England where it rains a lot! Some estimates suggest that growing meat in labs could cause greenhouse gases from agriculture to drop by 80% or more!
There is also a global soil crisis as vast swathes of arable land lose their fertility because of erosion, compaction, contamination and simple over use. Think of the images of the central plains of America during the great depression.
Improving productivity through intensive farming practices is already pushing the boundaries of decency. The US guidelines allow as little as ½ a square foot per chicken for their ‘living’ conditions. The answer to that cannot be ‘extensification’ - increasing the amount of land used for farming. Housing is already unaffordable for many. Every acre used for farming means one less acre for homes not to mention forests, natural habitats etc.
It is more than deeply ironic, it is deeply hypocritical, that a country forged in a revolution whose call to arms was ‘No taxation without representation’ now demands taxes from nearly 15 million Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) yet bans them from voting.
Affectionately known as ‘Green Card Holders’ (it’s better than resident aliens), we live and work across the United States, and about a million more of us are welcomed every year. Yet, except for a few municipalities where Green Card holders can vote in local elections, Federal and State governments deny us the right to vote in even a School Board election.
It was not always so. Indeed, a country built largely on immigration (aren’t they all?), promoted universal suffrage for all residents up until World War 1.
I'm ashamed to say that most of what I thought I knew about the homeless issue was wrong. We have just launched our first podcast and chose this issue as one of the more pressing and depressing issues of our time. We wanted to explore the question that, irrespective of your politics, how could some of the wealthiest communities on the planet not solve this problem?
I'm not going to replay the podcast and what we learned here (simply go to the ‘Podcast’ page and your can listen to it there). Suffice it to say most of the homeless are not 'bums' or mentally ill. In fact, about 65% of our homeless population are neigbors and compatriots who have fallen on hard times. That's hardly surprising when about 70% of Americans dont have $400 saved for an emergency. The good news is that the situation is improving, and there are very succesful programs out there like Haaven in Los Angeles (see link below) who are delivering shelter & support for less than $10,000 per bed while the public sector solutions cost over $500,000 a bed! The bad news is that despite the valiant and heart warming efforts of many, the system is still not fit for purpose and unless we adopt innovative ideas like Haaven, never will be!
Please do listen to the podcast. There's tears and laughter, 'you can't be serious moments', harsh words, uplifting stories and a happy ending. It will leave you thinking differently about homelessness.
Here are the links to the people we interviewed in the show, including the volunteers and charities that you could support by doing something as simple as donating some care packs of things like socks, tooth brushes & toothpaste; or offering to help them at feeding stations.