Deconstructing Privi​leg​e

Two people I love shared this dated opinion. So, now I feel like I must respond. It is an opinion piece called “What Has America Become“, and is written by a man named Ken Huber. It was printed in the Iosco County Herald on June 9, 2010. The current originating Facebook post shows it as being shared in 2013. I note this because the copied image is without the date, and by posting it three years later, and then being repeatedly shared 5 years after that, it has a timeless quality that isn’t actually wholly relevant to today.

Mr. Huber complains that America has become the land of the double standard, and he continues to list a series of ironies he feels are unfair. You must understand that I live on the “left coast“, where my progressive politics color my views.

He has a list of complaints, where he sees Congress and Progressives getting their way and ruining our country. He even goes on to claim that “communists” and “Socialists” threats are just rebranded progressives. He complains about unfair border policies and lack of God in schools. If I shall opine for a moment, this sounds like complaints from an old, angry, white man, whose privilege is coming under question, and he doesn’t like how it feels.

Well, if Progressives are so bad, what do they believe? Check out this “Progressive Manifesto“, where ThinkProgress defines four tenants of freedom, opportunity, responsibility, and cooperation. Progressivism has a history that goes back more than 100 years, with a definition more akin to “[an association] with science, rationality and an approach to government and society reliant on knowledge and empirical methods”. (NPR 2016)

So Progressives want to think critically, using verifiable facts to create policy? 

Mr. Huber essentially complains that he can’t be racist, we are letting too many people into our country, and we have to restrict personal liberties because he believes his God would want it that way. 

What Mr. Huber is missing is that he has lived on the top of privilege his whole life. What he is seeing is all people are created equal with unalienable rights coming to claim their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And, that means the white, property-owning male has to share the stage. 

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Airport Security


Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

[This post began February 15, 2011.]

I have a new niece. My brother had surgery on his neck. We have a vacation booked in a few weeks. We fly, of course. So, what does that mean, but Airport Security.

I really hate airport security. I find it intrusive and ineffective. I’m sure someone who is obsessed with security, terrorism, and the like would show me several studies proving how all these measures really make us safer, but I don’t believe it.

The first time I remember airport security was when I was in high school. I had the opportunity to fly to D.C. with fellow classmates in a project called, “Project Close-Up.” It is a week peak at Washington D.C. for teenagers. You are assigned a 20-something Georgetwon grad student (or similar) who serves as your own personal tour guide: taking you to lobbyists, congress, the Smithsonian, teaching us how to use the Metro. It was amazing.

Getting there was even more exciting. It was April. 1995. We had a snowstorm the night before. We had to meet at a school an hour away to bus-pool with a few other schools to Detroit-Wayne County International Airport (DTW). We averaged 30 mph on the freeway. The bus drivers were talking in their radios how they didn’t get much sleep the night before. We slipped and slided, in a big yellow bus, all the way to the airport. My knuckles were white nearly the whole way there.

We arrived, with twenty minutes to check into our flight. We had 20 students and teachers in our class.We were rushed to the front of the line. We ran down the cooridor to airport security.

We were waved through. One gal had some metal piece stuck in her ski jacket, and they waved her on after three wand swipes!

Waved us by! That was 1995.

Six years later was, of course, 9/11/01.

In 2004, I flew back to Michigan for a quick 4-day weekend to celebrate my maternal grandfather’s 80th birthday. It was held at the Rock Township hall where most family celebrations were held. To expedite this trip, I needed to fly from Portland to Escanaba. The most cost-effective flight took me from Portland to Denver to Kansas City to Milwaukee finally to Escanaba.

The airport that had the most stringent airport security was both Escanaba and Kansas City. We flew a puddle jumper in and out of Escanaba. Escanaba is a town of 30,000. Kansas City was one of the slowest airports I had ever visited. I came up with a conclusion the day I questioned why Kansas City had airport security at evcry gate and I was rewarded with a pat down for my question. I learned that the smaller, more insignificant hte airport, the more airport security works to validate their job.

I often wonder how that makes us safer. I really don’t think it does.

I believe that knowing our neighbors makes us safer. That means, we need to interact with them, ask them to check our homes while we’re on vacation. We interact with them over fences and on front porches. We wave and smile while they walk by. We don’t have to know them intimately, but enough that they are no longer strangers.

How can we shrink our world so we feel more neighborly in the big airport full of strangers?

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I’m liberal, and I want my guns

Let’s start with this. Today, Obama said that, “Our first priority as a society is to keep our children safe.” This was said in conjunction with 23 Executive Actions designed to strengthen gun laws.

Let’s continue with this cartoon by “Tom Tomorrow” in This Modern World.

Tom Tomorrow on Guns
Tom Tomorrow on Guns

And, then, let’s ponder the old adage, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people!” often followed by, “Well, guns make it a whole lot easier!”

And, now this:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, and the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The questions usually begin with statements, “It means Militia.” “What is a militia?” But, it says, “AND, the right of the people.” “So, doesn’t that mean citizens of the States?”

Okay, so we need our guns to protect ourselves against our government (this is the vision I have in my head… the Redcoats are coming, the Redcoats are coming!)

So, let’s ponder this.

Gun Logic, flawed?
Gun Logic

I don’t know if that’s why I’m saying. The logic is that we don’t need our guns to protect ourselves, right? The prevailing argument is that guns kill people and mass shoots are awful. But, I’m not buying into that.

My sister was killed by gun violence. Before the incident, he was just a collector. But, he was enraged or sad or disappointed. He didn’t control his emotions in a healthful way, and it meant that he killed my sister. And, then himself. Murder suicide. When it first happened, I blamed his parents. But, that wasn’t fair either. (Parenting is hard!) They were the first to send sympathy flowers, and now I feel confident that they raised their son the best they could. And, as an adult, their son made a bad choice.

I grew up around guns but never touched one until I was an adult. (The first gun I ever fired was just a few months ago, target practice with a .22 on an old beer can). The guns I grew up with were in a gun cabinet. My mother later told me it was never locked. But, we never dared touch that cabinet, let alone what was inside, without Grandpa’s expressed permission. The guns were used as tools to procure food. Sometimes it was a deer. Sometimes it was a cow.

So, maybe having our guns doesn’t protect us from home intruders or our government should it turn against us – but it is a right as outlined in our bill of rights. It’s a right that’s been argued about, discussed, and no conclusions are really made. There isn’t enough to outlaw it – it’s a right. So, we can’t agree to outlaw it, but we don’t like the horrors guns can inflict when people aren’t in their right minds. So, instead of creating a world where people can be in their right minds more times than not, we go after the guns, stripping away at the right that we can’t fully agree on.

What I’m saying is the argument is misplaced. Guns certainly do make it easier for people to kill people. But, if our focus is on lessening violence, there are other ways we need to do that. We need to reinforce connections with each other, collectively, as a society instead of cowing to knee-jerk reactions that limit our rights. That’s what we owe our children.

Safety is a ruse. Nothing is safe. Nothing is sacred. These are security blankets with which we comfort ourselves. There are no guarantees in life, and it’s a sad reality we face as we get older. Life is sadness. If we want a better guise of a “safe society” we’d do better to take care of physical and emotional needs, rather than outlawing guns. We’d do better making sure our grandparents have the care they need so they can age gracefully. If our grandparents have the care they need, then we would have less to worry about as they age. We could focus on our own families or own desires. If we could focus on our own families, and our own healthcare and non-contaminated food were taken care of and available, we’d have more time to devote to our families. We wouldn’t have to worry about budgeting in doctor visits to accommodate some arbitrary deductible. Maybe we would decide to make available paid sick days, so parents could stay home with their barfing children without guilt. Maybe we could stop punishing mothers for doing the noble thing and taking care of their families by lifting them up as they age and give all to society with “unpaid labor”.

If we really value children, and are putting our children at the pinnacle of this argument – then let’s truly take care of them by taking care of the people who matter most to our children: their mothers, their fathers, their caregivers, their aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, neighbors, friends. If we take care of our village, and are there when we need each other – perhaps we’d also be there to tell someone to put the gun down because that’s not how we solve our problems.


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Just Quit

Airport Visit
Peter, Michelle, Betsy, and Levi pose after an impromptu visit at PDX.

Michigan has become the 24th “Right to Work” state. Admittedly, I only know a little about the concept. What I see, though, seems more like a “Right to Work Under the Man’s Rules” instead of our own.

It seems as if unions, fair pay, fair working conditions, and fair standards are being rolled back. It seems as if we are seeing further fighting of “us” against “them”. The workers against management in another draw, and this time management is winning.

So, I wonder what would happen if all these workers just quit. What would happen if the police force ceded their “right to work” and stopped patrolling traffic accidents and people who’ve gone off the edge? What would happen if nurses ceded their “right to work” and stopped mending wounds, healing the sick, and comforting the dying? What would happen if the miners ceded their “right to work” and stopped digging for {clean} coal? What would happen if bus drivers ceded their “right to work” and stopped driving buses and trains? What would happen if fire fighters ceded their “right to work” and stopped rescuing cats and homes from perilous accidents?

What would happen if geographers mapped out the top 1% for every city and all these workers stopped working for them?

I want to know what it will take for people to realize their own power. We do the work. Yes, I have aspirations of being the mastermind of some interesting organization, but what I hope I realize and continue to realize is that we all need each other.

A friend noted, once, that she believes there is a job for everyone out there. There are people interested in running hotels, feeding people (rich and poor), tending to the sick and dying, fixing the environment, cleaning up our waste, planting and growing things… it takes all kinds to make our world run, so why do we divvy up “importance” of jobs by how much paper one pushes or by how many people are below a person?

When will we realize our power? When will we realize our power is not within Wall Street or faulty aspirations of becoming über rich? When will we realize our power lies within. We need to seize it. Stand up for it, and not take this anymore.

I have a right to work. I have a right to organize. I have a right to state my opinions. And, you have a right to walk away. Now, let’s all walk together and make this world the place we want it to be.

We want safe schools and neighborhoods for our kids where they can learn how to fend for themselves in controlled environments. We want places where they can breathe clean air, have safe healthy food to eat, and access to safe, stable, and affordable housing. We want our children to realize their potential so they can be all that they can be… and if we do want those things, we have to pave the way for them. It starts now. It started yesterday. It started 100 years ago.

It is time to quit second guessing. It is time to quit playing second fiddle to pipe dreams of non-existence. It is time to stand up for what we know is right.

We deserve better. Our children deserve better. Our future deserves better.

Our time is now.

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One Mom’s {Post} Election Day Endorsements

Voting, Oregon Style
In Oregon, we have vote-by-mail. That means, instead of going to the polls, we go to drop boxes to deliver our ballots. We’ve just changed the type of lines we wait in – in addition to increasing voter turnout!

Oh goodness! I did not get this out in time… but, I wanted to post anyway. This year, let’s do a little exercise together. Below, you’ll find a link to a spreadsheet I created to map the organizations I follow and thier respective endorsements. In this blog post, you’ll find who and what I’m voting for and why. I won’t be addressing some things like the judges up for election, but I hope to hit the important highlights.


I voted for Barack Obama.


Oregon has no open senate seats this election.

House Representative

I voted for Earl Blumenauer.

Secretary of State

I voted for Kate Brown.

State Treasurer

I voted for Ted Wheeler.

State Attorney General

I voted for Ellen Rosenblum.

State Senator

I voted for Chip Shields.

State Representative

I voted for Tina Kotek.

Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries

I voted for Brad Avakian.

City Mayor

I voted for Jefferson Smith.

Council Seat

I voted for Amanda Fritz.

The Measures

77 – Amends Constitution: Governor may declare “catastrophic disaster” (defined); requires legislation session; authorizes suspending specified constitutional spending restrictions

I voted no because I don’t believe in unnecessary legislation. I have not seen persuasive arguments for creating a law for something the governor can and does do anyway.

78 – Amends Constitution: Changes constitutional language describing governmental system of separation of powers; makes grammatical and spelling changes.

I believe in good grammar, and as such voted yes on this measure.

79 – Amends Constitution: Prohibits real estate transfer taxes, fees, and other assessments except those operative on December 31, 2009.

Why December 2009, you might wonder? Because the citizens of Oregon already passed the document/real estate transfer fee. Much of this funding (about $15 per sale of a house)  goes to support affordable housing. The Community Alliance of Tenants has endorsed a “No” vote. I am voting No on this measure.

80 – Allows personal marijuana  help cultivation/use without license; commission to regulate commercial marijuana cultivation/sale.

While I have some questions about how the regulation will pan out, such as what sort of repercussions there are for people if they can’t prove where they got there product, I am voting yes for this measure. Oregon is known as a green state for many. It’s green in many diverse ways. In keeping in line with unnecessary legislation, making legal what many do only makes sense. Regulation means: JOBS. So, I am voting yes on measure 80 to make legal an Oregon pastime and create legal jobs.

81 – Prohibits commercial non-tribal fishing with gillnets in Oregon “inland waters,” allows use of seine nets

I voted no, because this measure doesn’t include all-areas. So, some states would still be allowed to use nets, unfairly discriminating against Oregon fishermen. For this to be a sustainable measure for fish, it’d have to be a multi-stakeholder measure — more than one state making strides.

82 – Amends Constitution: Authorizes establishment of privately-owned casinos; mandates percentage of revenues payable to dedicated state fund & 83 – Authorizes privately-owned Wood Village casino; mandates percentage of revenues payable to dedicated state fund

I voted no on both these measures.

  1. I believe we should minimize access to gambling.
  2. I’m okay with Native Americans having the only access to allow gambling. We did entire nations of people a huge disservice, and I think it’s okay that we take penance for our sins by allowing them income for our vanities.
  3. When destinations are created, you create more traffic, trash, and other unstainable measures.

84 – Phases out existing inheritance taxes on large estates, and all taxes on intra-family property transfers

I voted no. We need income for services.

And, here’s to hoping for a more timely note next year!

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People Forgetting People

Iraq War soldiers and bombing
Image via Wikipedia

It was 2004. The Iraq war had waged on for about a year. I, and my friends, [we] were still in shock over all that happened. He hadn’t listened! We protested. We wrote. We petitioned. We called. We bitched. We complained.

We didn’t want another Vietnam. We can’t do that to our people again. We can’t do that to our brothers and sisters. We can’t let them suffer for a cause, for a rich man’s war, that isn’t really about freedom at all.

So why is he doing this? Why? Why is this Yale graduate, son of an oil man, baseball team owner, married to a librarian enforcing this war?

The simplest answer, and the most comfortable one for my little brain to wrap around, has been that he was simply taking care of those he cares about. On the surface, it seems that he cares about contractors making $6k to $10k per day more than soldiers without shoes. On the surface, it would seem an oil company was more important than the people working for the company.

I related it to my own cirlce. I want my family and my close friends taken care of. I want them healthy. I want them to have secure jobs that give them benefits to help ensure good health. I want them to have access to clean, healthy food. I want them to be educated on healthful (clean air, clean water, clean soil) ways to take care of their families. I want them to have access to the American Dream, and not just the same station in life in which they were born.

My wants certainly can’t be that different from Mr. Bush’s, can they? On that macro level. On that big, 50,000 mile high level. We all really want the same things. We want our loved ones to be taken care of.

The difference is who the loved ones are. And, someone, in this myriad tangled web of life, we forget about people we don’t care about.

Mr. Bush is an extreme, political example, but I hope it highlights what I see happening all over. Recently, I was a part of a conversation where it was argued that the only thing missing out of a particular sustainability equation was the Environment. I was shocked, since the conversation was about an organization that only does work in the environment. No where, though, were people mentioned. Not the people who do the work voluntarily. Not the people who get the details done to do the work. Simply, people were missing from this conversation, and no one recognized it.

Sustainability was put on hold the year I graduated from college. With bank, market, and housing crashes – all fell like dominoes after 2008, it’s as if we couldn’t focus on anything but that which was right in front of us. And, still, three years later we are reeling. We’re still trying to calm the frenzy around us in order to organize our lives and dream about the American Dream.

In the frenzy, the environment wasn’t forgotten. The Sierra Club is still doing their job. I”m not saying the environment doesn’t suffer, I’m simply saying it wasn’t forgotten. But, people were.

Wages dropped. Homes were foreclosed upon. Details were lost that made people homeless and lose their jobs. benefits were lost affecting the health of many.

People were forgotten.

You can’t have a balanced three-legged stool without people. You can’t have a true balanced Triple Bottom Line general ledger without people. You can’t have a world, without people.

I am dismayed that after all we’ve been through, we still take two steps back. I’m dismayed that people are still forgotten and the gap between the haves and have nots widens. I’m dismayed that people are forgotten.

But, as if by a miracle, a group has risen up and shouted to not forget us. My question, today, is this: Can the Occupy Movement get people to remember people?

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Regrets of a Stay at Home Mom

Reading Time
My mother and Levi. Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

Reading the Price of Motherhood was depressing. This article further articulates the grim realities mothers face when life doesn’t go as planned. I choose to work because our society doesn’t give me the option of staying at home. I have school loans to pay. What if my husband got injured on the job and couldn’t work? What about my career aspirations of what I should do?

Yes, I choose to work. Yes, I would encourage you too, to work. Yes, I understand it’s all about choice. For me, the risk isn’t worth it.

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A Decade Gone

Today, Sunday, September 11th marks the 10 year anniversary of when we, Americans, were attacked on our own soil. An event that hasn’t happened in a very long time. It was an event that shook our nation, divided our nation, and brought a city together. It is one of those moments in time where, if you experienced it, you know exactly what you were doing in that moment, no matter how much time passes. It was one of the moments in life when the world stopped turning.

I don’t remember the day of the week anymore, although I have a recollection it was a weekday. My boyfriend was over, and we had both worked the night before. I was swinging between midnight schedules and second shift schedules, and the night before was a second shift schedule. We had slept in late. My phone rang; it was my mother.

Why is that mothers, especially mine, are always the bearers of bad news?

She told me to turn on my TV to any news channel. I reminded her I didn’t have TV reception. She then instructed me, “Turn on your radio.” I did, while she told me that America had been attacked by terrorists. I was shocked. It wasn’t something anyone ever expected, any perhaps “average” citizen. We talked for a bit, and then my boyfriend and I listened to the radio where NPR commented and re-commented on the shocking, horrific events that happened and kept happening.

I was scheduled to work that afternoon, so life still had to go on. It was a beautiful, sunny, September day. The kind of crisp, lovely day that smells faintly of autumn. The temperature was perfect. The sky was very blue. All this beauty was overshadowed by this thing that happened so many miles away.

We had left for work early, and along the way, a motorist motioned that my tire was flat. We detoured, en route, to a tire store to get the tire repaired or replaced. Life went on.

Eventually, I made it to work, and naturally the only thing people could talk about was their shock and amazement at what had happened. I worked at a 4-diamond hotel, and even there we had a TV wheeled across the front desk so we could keep up on the news. On our cigarette breaks, the attack was the only thing we discussed. One chef commented how fake it all looked since we are all primed on Hollywood explosions. It was ironic that this real, very real thing, looked like an imposter.

Eventually, we tired of the news, in its repeating morbid fashion. My friends and I were horrified when our President suggested that if we didn’t abhor the terrorists and agree to fight them, then we were against America too. Couldn’t we grieve for the loss but show mercy towards those who did such a grievous act? My Catholic Christian upbringing certainly didn’t sit in accordance with modern politics.

What followed was a decade of war, in this vain effort to “protect freedom.” This decade of known war is just a louder version of what we’ve done, certainly, since World War II. Always fighting conflict. My brain argues that it is to pull the wool over our eyes for what we really want. Now, in our dear country, we have politics that are even more divided where people still don’t talk about things that matter. Things that matter include making sure we’re all taken care of so we can do what we want with our lives. Things that matter include finding ways to live peacefully together. The rest of it doesn’t matter. We want to be around people who love us, but when we focus on fear, hate, and fighting we cannot focus on love.

Here we are, 10 years later. 10 years later with the memory still emblazoned in our recollection. 10 years later with no visible lessons learned, only parroting of the Old Testament where instead of turning the other cheek we take an eye for an eye. When will we learn to forgive? When will we realize that, as Father Mark preached this morning, by drinking the rat poison ourselves, the rat never dies? We do. We die.

I hope our children will evolve smarter, more compassionate than we are. I hope that our children will have the mercy necessary to fix the problems we have created. I hope that we can end these endless wars and simply be… peaceful.

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Controlled Capacity

Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire

“Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” This is one of my favorite adages. I love planning. I love thinking about upcoming tasks, comparing old tasks undone, all to move towards a common goal. While studying urban planning at Portland State University, I learned to believe that planning was even more important in urban settings (rural too). If we want to create and support a vision of our place, then we need to plan to manage the growth (or decline, think Flint, Michigan) that will inevitably happen. Given this framework, I think my friend was a little surprised when I told her I had a gut level reaction against Arcade Fire.

She asked me if I’d listened to them yet. She was letting me borrow a CD. I confessed that no, I hadn’t because well… they sort of irked me.

“I heard them on Soundstage once,” I explained. I thought back to that episode where the large band was sweating over microphones and the stage, all very animated in their own right. I’ve known musician types, and there is something about their arrogant personalities… that holier than thou because I play music attitude that really just bugs me. And, it really bugs me when it sweats all over the stage.

I had never heard of Arcade Fire prior to listening to this Soundstage episode, so I looked them up like any self-respecting internet user would do. Naturally, I turned to Wikipedia, where it was kindly explained Arcade Fire caps their concerts. They don’t sell more than, say 3,000 tickets per show (I don’t remember the number and Wikipedia isn’t saying anything about this memory.)

The article further explained some restrictions the band put in place to control their grow, their numbers, and as such have become a cult classic revolving around the lead singer. I recall there was something catchy about their music but it didn’t hit to my core like say, Sinner Man or At Last. It was catchy. It was modern. It was clearly very popular.

Now, maybe it’s because I was never a popular kid. Maybe this hearkens back to some childhood jealously, but something about this just rubbed me the wrong way.

When I explained this to my friend, after she argued isn’t a good thing that they are controlling their growth and not selling out to the Man (record labels), she thought, “Oh, you mean, like they are capping their concerts with the premeditated assumption they will be popular?”

This was the closest set of words that explained the revulsion I felt.

But the group is popular. So, what’s so wrong, really, with the band exercising controlled growth, maintaining their vision, and doing what they love: playing music? Nothing really in the grand scheme of things. And, the irony is they are doing that which I actively advocate.

We have had a capped membership in my food club since we merged. Since March 2010, we have frozen our membership at about 60 families. As people shift, we make room for more, but that’s it. We can’t handle more than 60 families with our current structure, and now we like our structure. So, really, what’s so bad about capped capacity?

I think I better listen to that album (The Suburbs) now.

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