Friday, October 23, 2015

Democrats Debate

Things move very quickly in American politics. While in the process of reviewing the recent Democrat Presidential debate, Jim Webb, one of the candidates has dropped out of the contest, apparently realizing after the debate that he wasn’t a Democrat. Also, current Vice-President Joe Biden has indicated that he will not make a run to succeed President Obama.

I watched most of the recent debate and here is a report. Hillary Clinton, the former First Lady and, most recently, Secretary of State, was the star of the show and her lead in the polls must have earned her center stage.

To her right was Bernie Sanders, the 74-year-old self-styled Democratic-Socialist from the State of Vermont, who is giving Secretary Clinton a surprising run for the money. On Clinton’s left was Martin O’Malley, the former mayor of the notorious city of Baltimore as well as the former Governor of the State of Maryland.

Literally on the fringes of the debate were two real dark horses. Lincoln Chafee, a former liberal Republican from the tiny state of Rhode Island, stood off to Clinton’s left. He seems to have been repudiated by the voters of that tiny blue state even though he now calls himself a progressive Democrat. James Webb, a former Marine veteran of Vietnam and Secretary of the Navy, stood off to Clinton’s right both literally and politically, and seemed to be uncomfortable standing on the same stage with four liberal partisans who were trying desperately to appear as the most left-leaning Democrat of all.

With the exception of Webb all accepted the current Democrat party line of which Sanders is the most blatant advocate. Despite seven years of a Democrat President, Sanders insisted that the government and Congress were controlled by fat cats on Wall Street. All took for granted the fact that income inequality has increased dramatically in the past years, even though Democrat President Obama has been in office for the last seven years.

Also, despite an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) running wild with unprecedented and often illegal rulings, Sanders insisted that Climate Change was the greatest problem facing the country. All ( I’m not sure about Webb) agreed that renewable energy must replace fossil fuels in the coming decades.

As if these two issues were not enough, all agreed that the minimum wage must be increased and Sanders even called for almost doubling the Federal mandate to $15 per hour. He also called for universal “free tuition” at public colleges and universities throughout the country. What could be more popular with young voters? Clinton agreed but she did opine that students should have to work a little to contribute something toward the cost of their higher education.

I’m not going to discuss these issues here and now, but I would just like to make a couple of observations on the way that Democrats approach government and politics. They identify a problem; devise a plan to fix it; but then look for someone else to do the work. None of the candidates ever said what sacrifice they or their supporters would make to solve these problems.

Income inequality is a good example. Sanders and the others could only demand that the top 1% of income earners do the heavy lifting. They never suggested that Democrat politicians or their public service union supporters make any financial sacrifices. Nor did they suggest that high government salaries and generous pension benefits be cut to help the poor.

It was the same with minimum wage increases. Employers, large and small, would bear the burden of almost doubling the salaries of unskilled or entry level employees. It never occurred to them that employers would just have to pass along the increased expense to consumers, or else lay off many employees to just stay in business.

Finally, when it is obvious that the Democrats themselves have created the problem, they just laugh it off. “What about your emails and your secret server, Secretary Clinton”? Senator Sanders did not give a damn about the emails, and allowed Clinton to just laugh the whole thing off. Ha, ha, ha! “What about Benghazi, Secretary Clinton”? Oh, that’s just partisan politics. Ha, ha, ha! “What difference does it make”?

I guess that she’s right. She and her husband can do no wrong. Ex-President Clinton can be paid $500000 per speech by foreign potentates but his wife can still get away with complaining about income inequality.

Even Saturday Night Live could not take the hypocrisy of the Democrat debate and put together a great parody featuring Larry David as Bernie Sanders. Click on the link or view the video below.


Friday, October 9, 2015

Off the Streets

Last weekend my wife and I attended a fund-raising dinner at our local church in Fairfield, CT. The dinner was not to raise funds for the church but for a small organization called “Off the Streets” that was formed a few years ago in Connecticut to deal with the “homeless”. “Off the Streets”, was created by a deacon of the Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, and one of the deacons in our own parish founded the local Bridgeport, Fairfield, Trumbull chapter.

Information provided by “Off the Streets” shows some surprising figures about the homeless. Families with children make up 36% of the homeless population. Single men make up 44% while single women make up 13%.  Unaccompanied minors make up the remaining 7%. Surprisingly, 44% of the homeless population did paid work in the past month but for one reason or another they still live in shelters, their cars, or on the streets.

In many cases the homeless only lack the funds to provide a security deposit for an apartment rental, and furnish the apartment. The goal of “Off the Streets” is to provide the up-front costs needed for an apartment. Their brochure states their very basic goal.

The mission of Off the Streets  (OTS) is to provide a security deposit and basic furniture and living needs for those homeless people who have no other means of providing these, but do have a means of paying a monthly rent.

Although it works with local social service agencies to find and screen candidates, OTS does not rely on national, state, or local government funds. It is a 501c3 charity that relies totally on voluntary staff. It has no paid staff and operates on a minimal overhead of $20 per month, a startling contrast to many so-called charitable organizations where overhead can take up almost 90% of revenues.

I am impressed by the fact that Catholic deacons have taken the leading role in providing for the needs of the homeless. In the Acts of the Apostles we find that deacons played a very important role in the very beginning of the Church. When the Apostles found it difficult to tend to the physical needs of the members of the early church, they decided to appoint deacons to assist in the care of the needy. But over the centuries the deaconate became just a kind of temporary step in the process of ordaining a priest. However, after the Second Vatican Council the Church created the permanent diaconate as a way for the laity to take a more important role.

In its brief existence, “Off the Streets” has succeeded in providing almost 1000 homeless individuals and families with a place to live. It has a devoted group of volunteers who work year round. In its pamphlet OTS explained how it helps.

*OTS generally pays security deposits and other upfront costs.
*OTS’ process can usually provide a fully furnished apartment in as little as two to fourteen days.
*OTS provides basic household goods (furniture, bedding, etc.) to help give our clients a fresh start.
*A bus ticket can get a homeless person off the streets when family from out of town are willing to take in the person.

The Off the Streets website provides much more information of what it does and on the ways others can help.