These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.
Happy Tax Season!
February 8 in History
Away down town, where the atmosphere is hazy
From the smoke of the factories ascending to the sky
The smells, Oh! so horrid, would almost set you crazy.
But I’m told in that neighborhood the people seldom die.
‘Way up on the Slope all the people are complaining;
From the foul scented odors their health is quickly waning
And the smoke from the soft coal their linen it is staining
When the wind blows that way from Gowanus Canal.
When the wind blows east, when the wind blows west,
Or when it’s from the north or south, you never get a rest.
In summer or in winter, in the spring or in the fall,
You breathe the same old odors from Gowanus Canal.
Well — he did not —.
Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Justice
This is all that was captured in the official court transcript, but it’s part of what seemed to have been a somewhat loaded, snarky comment about his alma mater, Yale.
Why does one little comment even make headlines? Thomas, the ‘silent justice’, hasn’t asked a question in session since February 22, 2006.
Lucy Bernholz, a leading philanthropy scholar who writes one of my favorite philanthropy-related blogs, has released her fourth annual industry forecast through GrantCraft. And, for the first time, it’s free to download!
Her predictions for 2013 are intriguing; I agree with most and can’t wait to see how they play out. I really love being a part of the philanthropy sector as technology is increasing its role and the government is making it just a little bit tougher for nonprofits to be successful. There’s so much opportunity for thoughtful strategies and impact, and I am optimistic about the ability of most foundations to capitalize on this exciting time.
I’m saying right now, anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to Congressional Republicans is out of their minds. Because what they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans. It was an absolute disgrace.
We need a cultural shift with respect to violence now, and we all have a role to play.
Advocating for gun control laws is certainly a big piece of it. Having more awareness, scientific understanding, and resources for mental health is another huge component. Rethinking the role of and messaging from media in times of violence is integral. Changing the way we discuss violence in our families and communities is still another.
A tragedy like what happened in Newtown, CT could have happened anywhere. As Americans [As teachers, As parents, As children, As someone who lives in CT, As a first responder…you name the connection] we all feel hurt and betrayed by it. But this isn’t about Adam Lanza; this is not an isolated case of ‘crazy’. It’s a bigger problem of a culture of violence in a society where violence is a viable option, and our collective inability to guide smart decision-making within that society. And, unfortunately, this problem won’t be solved by the government, or by nonprofits, or by families raising kids differently. In fact, it might not ever be ‘solved’; that’s a scary thought. That’s why we must do what’s in our power to shift this culture over time from all fronts; only then will we have a chance of seeing the needle move.
*The shooter, Adam Lanza, does not appear on most lists of victims. He is a victim though (and also guilty, no doubt) of a society that in whatever way contributed to this rampage. I mourn him, too, despite hating with all of my soul what he did.
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.
Even with the helpers to help recover and heal, we still need to better protect communities in the first place so that the scary things on the news are reduced to those scary things out of our control.
Helpers aren’t always the people on the ground immediately following a scary thing. Often, they’re advocates. Be a helper TODAY. Because every day we don’t assume the role as helper, more scary things happen.
This machine allows anyone to work for minimum wage for as long as they like. Turning the crank on the side releases one penny every 4.97 seconds, for a total of $7.25 per hour. This corresponds to minimum wage for a person in New York.
This piece is brilliant on multiple levels, particularly as social commentary. Without a doubt, most people who started operating the machine for fun would quickly grow disheartened and stop when realizing just how little they’re earning by turning this mindless crank. A person would then conceivably realize that this is what nearly two million people in the United States do every day…at much harder jobs than turning a crank. This turns the piece into a simple, yet effective argument for raising the minimum wage.
Really great piece. Though, I wonder, what amount would be the tipping point that makes cranking the minimum wage machine worth it? Does minimum wage ever feel worth it? And, is there a way to re-frame / enhance / change the piece to change how people perceive minimum wage jobs?
The role of the SNAP program isn’t to provide additional money to paid government volunteers; it is to help feed hungry American families.
Senator John Thune, R-ND, in an article framing food stamps as a perk for paid government volunteers.
Right. Food stamps (SNAP benefits) are to help feed hungry Americans. At an AmeriCorps salary, especially in a city where needs are high and the cost of living is far higher than in more rural areas, it’s tough to get by. Being an AmeriCorps volunteer means that you make sacrifices and cuts, but safety nets like food stamps are there to support people having a hard time supporting themselves who (hopefully) are working honestly towards making ends meet (and making their communities better). AmeriCorps employees are and deserve the support of any safety nets they can access should they choose to.
Further, if AmeriCorps volunteers could opt into food stamps but only if they are then be ineligible for the education stipend, we as a country are training the exactly right people to become civicly excited and motivated, and then are pulling the rug from under them and making it far more difficult for them to get degrees often needed to apply their skill base and experiences on a more impactful level.
Even further, AmeriCorps volunteers accessing SNAP benefits does not take those benefits away from anyone else who is deserving!
Or, maybe the Senator is correct. In that case, let’s get used to the idea that AmeriCorps volunteers will increasingly be those coming from comfortable economic backgrounds. Because it’s tough to get by on an AmeriCorps salary alone.
Recognizing what homeless really means
During the recent storm, thousands and thousands of people lost their homes either permanently or for an extended period of time. These people span the socioeconomic spectrum; many have assets, good jobs, and degrees from a university. They are, by definition, homeless.
The HUD definition of homelessness includes:
- People who are living in a place not meant for human habitation, in emergency shelter, in transitional housing, or are exiting an institution where they temporarily resided. The only significant change from existing practice is that people will be considered homeless if they are exiting an institution where they resided for up to 90 days (it was previously 30 days), and were in shelter or a place not meant for human habitation immediately prior to entering that institution.
- People who are losing their primary nighttime residence, which may include a motel or hotel or a doubled up situation, within 14 days and lack resources or support networks to remain in housing. HUD had previously allowed people who were being displaced within 7 days to be considered homeless. The proposed regulation also describes specific documentation requirements for this category.
- Families with children or unaccompanied youth who are unstably housed and likely to continue in that state. This is a new category of homelessness, and it applies to families with children or unaccompanied youth who have not had a lease or ownership interest in a housing unit in the last 60 or more days, have had two or more moves in the last 60 days, and who are likely to continue to be unstably housed because of disability or multiple barriers to employment.
- People who are fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence, have no other residence, and lack the resources or support networks to obtain other permanent housing. This category is similar to the current practice regarding people who are fleeing domestic violence.
It is not only after environmental destruction that “stable” individuals enter homelessness. Anything could be a trigger: a health problem, a dangerous or failed relationship, poor investments, landlord issues… you name it. Homelessness is very real. It has a bad rap - homeless individuals are often called lazy, unmotivated, stupid, a waste of public dollars - that is not fair. Sure, some people are absolutely those things, homeless or not. But for most, homelessness was not an expected consequence of actions nor a desirable place to be. It removes stability, reduces quality of life, increases reliance on a system that is far from perfect, and makes maintaining a routine challenging. There are fewer comforts and luxuries, and it’s a downward spiral to staying afloat.
Supporting stronger housing infrastructure and nonprofits working to combat homelessness has always felt important to me, and I think a silver lining of widespread housing disaster is that the problem is more vividly illuminated. Empathy and withholding of judgement, at the very least, towards folks who are considered homeless is non-negotiable.
If you want to learn more about homelessness and initiatives to combat it, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, HUD, BRC, and the Somerville Homeless Coalition (a favorite organization of mine) are great places to start, or feel free to email me.
I saw this article and was not surprised at all; I’ve been fearing this for months.
I really think this is something we’re going to hear a LOT more about over the next few years. It is now possible to buy a printer that will let you make your own guns. This is not theoretical; it exists.
This changes everything about guns, gun laws, gun control. Every person with an opinion about guns is going to have to figure out what to think about this.
At a time when we can’t even well-control violence with guns that are known about and obtained ‘over the counter’, do we really want more guns in circulation that are not known about? What sort of regulations can we fairly put on them, and subsequently enforce? And, (human nature prove me wrong, please!) will people actually print guns given the ability?
There are so many exciting possibilities with 3-D printers; let’s hope innovation can continue on a positive trajectory rather than one that perpetuates violence.