Friday, September 23, 2005


"The especially interesting thing about nut cracking, termite fishing and other such chimpanzee habits is that local groups have local customs, handed down locally. This is true culture. Local cultures extend to social habits and manners. For example, one local group in the Mahale Mountains in Tanzania has a particular style of social grooming known as the grooming hand clasp. The same gesture has been seen in another population in the Kibale forest in Uganda. But it has never been seen in Jane Goodall's intensively studied population at Gombe Stream. Interestingly, this gesture also spontaneously arose and spread among a captive group of chimpanzees." —Richard Dawkins, THE ANCESTOR'S TALE, p. 103


I'm looking at a map of the US. It's part of a long article that Altar did for NEWSWEEK (Sept. 19, 2005). It shows the poverty distribution around the country. As usual, with all charts of good and bad things which Americans suffer or enjoy, from most murders to most children born to teenage mothers, the Northern States and the Northeast (the blue states) show better trends than the redder South and parts of the West.

It's time we quit blaming the poor for being poor and start looking at the system which does not supply adequate education or enough high paying jobs or sufficient welfare systems to adequately support those who are stuck in poor jobs. No matter how bad communist Russia was, the poorest people generally were not as poor as many of the poor in America are. In communist Russia no one died because they didn't have health insurance and their educational system was decidedly superior to America's current system. Our very best schools probably dwarf communist Russia's average schools, but a Russian's average education was better than the American average. For example, their science education was sufficient to stamp out the lingering ignorance of Creationism and to spread the truths of natural selection.

Even though the NEWSWEEK article tried to be fair, the failures of Republicans to grasp the plight of the poor comes through clearly. Here's a few samples.

"A rising tide of economic growth is no longer lifting all boats. For the first time in half a century, the third year of a recovery (2004) also saw an increase of poverty. In a nation of nearly 300 million people, the number living below the poverty line. . . recently hit 37 million, up more than a million in a year."

". . .the poverty rate. . . is the highest in the developed world and more than twice as high as in most other industrialized countries, which all strike a more generous social contract with their weakest citizens."

"The last notable poverty expert working in the White House, John Dilulia, departed in 2001 after explaining that the administration had no interest in real policy analysis." [No wonder! Bush is too dumb to understand policy analysis. 'Don't confuse me with figures,' he figures, 'just give me the falsehood that'll support my prejudices.']

"The primary economic problem is not unemployment but low wages for worker; of all races. WIth unions weakened and a minimum-wage increase not on the GOP agenda, wages have not kept pace with the cost of living, except at the top. (In 1965, CEOs made 24 times as much as the average worker; by 2003, they earned 185 times as much.) Since 2001, the United States has lost 2.7 million manufacturing jobs." [Note: minimum wage not on the GOP agenda.]

"Following the Gatreaux model in Chicago, the Clinton administration launched a "scatter-site" housing program in four cities that found homes for the poor in mixed income neighborhoods. While the move doesn't much benefit adults, their children—confronted with higher expectations and a less harmful peer group—do much better. "It really helped in Atlanta," says Rep. John Lewis, a hero of the civil-rights movement. Bush and the GOP Congress killed the idea, as well as the Youth Opportunity Grant program, which had shown success in partnering with the private sector to help prepare disadvantaged teens for work and life. They tried to cut after-school programs—proven winners—by 40 percent, then settled for a freeze." [That's right, the compassionate conservatives made and attempted to make these cuts.]

"Racism was clearly present in the aftermath of Katrina. Readers of Yahoo News noticed it when a pair of waterlogged whites were described in a caption as "carrying" food while another picture (from a different wire service) of blacks holding food described them as 'looters." White suburban police closed at least one bridge to keep a group of blacks from fleeing to white areas. Over the course of two days, a white river-taxi operator from hard-hit St. Bernard Parish rescued scores of people from flooded areas and ferried them to safety. All were white. "A n--ger is a n--ger is a n--ger," he told a NEWSWEEK reporter. Then he said it again." [That's the Republican South, folks, the new party of racism, the party of self-described 'compassion'. Laura, girl, maybe you don't think your man is cruel and racist, but the party he leads certainly is. How'd he get to be associating with a party by, for and of racists?]

"Until Katrina intervened, the top priority for the GOP when Congress reconvened was permanent repeal of the estate tax, which applies to far less than 1 percent of taxpayers. (IRS figures show that only 1,607 wealthy people in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi even pay the tax, out of more than 4 million taxpayers—one twenty-fifth of 1 percent.) Repeal would cost the government $ 24 billion a year. Meanwhile, House GOP leaders are set to slash food stamps by billions in order to protect subsidies to wealthy farmers. But Katrina could change the climate. The aftermath was not a good omen for the Grover Norquists of the world who want to slash taxes more and shrink government to the size where it can be 'strangled in the bathtub'."

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