2005-12-16 / Columnists

The Progressive

More Random Thoughts
By John Paul Culotta

My uncle in France told my mother his family was frightened because of the riots that occurred near his home. Some Americans are commenting that immigrants in our country do not behave in the same way because this nation has had a successful policy of assimilation. There may be a grain of truth to their observation. The larger question is: can a society avoid the type of violence we witnessed in France when a sizeable group suffers or perceives to suffer economic and social disadvantages? We may have power kegs ready to explode in this nation unless we address the problems of poverty and exclusion. Cuts that have an effect on the well-being of our most disadvantaged while giving the elite tax cuts will only serve to give the dispossessed matches to light the powder kegs.

Military recruiters are having difficulty recruiting the type of volunteers the military needs. This is further proof of a need for this nation to discuss how to proceed with our war against terror.

All Americans should analyze the recent decision by the Supreme Court regarding special education The decision forces parents who disagree with the education plan set by their children’s school, the burden of proving the plan is inadequate for their child’s learning disability. On November 17, Elisa Hyman, deputy director of Advocates for Children was quoted in the New York Times: “Many of the parents of kids who get special education in New York City find the system extremely confusing to navigate and they certainly are not going to understand what they need to prove to meet their burden.” We should all contact members of the city council regarding the change. Children need the vital services and society needs all children to reach their full potential.

Senior citizens are now making decisions regarding Medicare prescription drug benefits. This new benefit appears to be a sop to the drug industry and is causing many seniors confusion and anxiety as to what plan to select.

Health costs in this country are rising and many health care facilities in this city are filing for bankruptcy. This is a serious issue that needs to become part of the political debate. The American Medical Association (AMA) is part of the problem. This nation limits the number of people that can become physicians as a result of AMA lobbying. More physicians working would lower medical fees. Drug companies spend enormous amounts of money advertising to consumers causing prescription prices to rise. These are a few examples of corporate and professional greed that has helped exacerbate the problem.

Horror stories regarding foster care are always in the news. According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) News of November 2005,the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research issued in June a study regarding the retention of child welfare staff. “ Child welfare agencies” the study report read “need to address the growing concern over high turnover rates among staff in child welfare agencies.”

Twenty-five years ago, President Ford proclaimed a nationwide Adoption Week. In 1990 the week became National Adoption Month. According to most recent federal data 523,000 children are in foster care and 118,000 are available for adoption. The average time for a child to be in foster care is nearly three years. 20,000 foster care children each year reach adult age without ever having a permanent home. Many Americans go overseas to adopt. We applaud this, but as a nation, we need to establish a system where American children are raised in loving, caring permanent homes. As the nation discusses the abortion issue it may be appropriate for women to consider the choice of making available babies for adoption. Life is precious and choice also entails responsibility. Unborn babies should be given the right to a loving home. Our debate regarding abortion in this nation never addresses the pain abortion causes many women. It is not the only solution to an unwanted pregnancy.

When the president of Iran stated Israel should be wiped off the map, ten days later, all political parties in Italy held mass demonstrations in all major Italian cities. Italy has amiable relation with the Palestinians and Moslem countries. Both the right and left, former fascists and communists, denounced the statement of the Iranian president. Media in this country hardly mentioned these facts.

Senator Clinton on a recent visit to Israel stated she approved of the security wall the Israelis were building. Many Republicans have advocated building a wall to keep Mexican migrants out of this country. We have no suggestion that a wall be built on the Canadian border, although many security experts state terrorists are more likely to come into the United States from Canada. Security walls to keep out migrants and terrorists are not likely to shield this country or Israel from either problem. Both nations need to secure a just economic and social environment that breeds solidarity between peoples and a social system that encourages peace.

New York City has been a tourist magnet for decades. Our theater district is one of the reasons for this phenomenon. When Radio City Music Hall decided to stage their Christmas without a full orchestra and use recorded music as a result of a labor dispute, this city became like any other provincial city. Theater owners and producers have been trying to have the right to stage Broadway shows with recorded music. This will reduce expenses of staging a show. Prices to attend are exorbitant. Tourists and native theatergoers deserve live orchestras.

In Italy, eighty-one percent of Italians live in their own homes. This is one of the highest rates of home ownership in the world. In a recent speech by the prime minister he stated that the goal of his country is to increase home ownership. This is admirable and maybe this nation needs to set a similar goal of affordable decent housing for its citizens. There are a few facts I want you to consider: White House senior staff are now required to attend ethics training. Virginia’s new governor is a Right to Life Democrat. In California one of the referendums defeated was an attempt to void legislation that provided adequate nursing staff in Californian hospitals and nursing homes-a victory for the labor movement.

Peter Drucker the business management expert who advocated for worker participation in resolving managerial problems died at age 95. Those interested in modern corporate governance should read Drucker. The school board in Pennsylvania that ordered intelligent design be taught in science was defeated this past election. The Museum of Natural History (New York City) has an exhibit on Darwin and his theory of evolution. It should be evident why I found selecting a topic difficult this week.

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