Saturday, December 25, 2010

clean up the homeless

This morning's LA Times article about a community run laundromat and shower in skid row is a good reminder of very simple steps that can be taken to improve the homeless situation for the public at large and homeless alike.  One of the more common complaints you hear about the homeless is that they are smelly and dirty - and limited interactions on public transit, park benches, and on the streets exacerbate relations and provide the cover for more authoritative solutions like forceful removal of the homeless by the police.  Obviously, if you do not have a home, it is hard to have good hygiene and clean clothes.  These public services could go a long way to providing the sanitary care the homeless need.  This service is humane and the right thing to do.  Further, the homeless aren't going anywhere - public services that benefit the public at large are a no-brainer.  I'd add to the list: public restrooms.  LA Downtown News has an interesting article from 2006 about the installation of APT - Automatic Public Toilets - in sections of the city.  It appears that the APT in skid row is a resounding success and is not prone to the abuse that formerly placed port-a-potties had experienced.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bernie Sander's brave stand

Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has filibustered the looming tax cut for the rich for over 6 hours, with no sign of letting up.  The fillibuster is grueling affair that hasn't been utilized in its traditional sense (actually taking over the debate floor) since 1992.  The LA Times expounds on the details of his labor:

Under Rule XIX of the Senate, senators who have been recognized to speak may do so for as long as they wish, and cannot be forced to cede the floor or even interrupted without their consent, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Sanders has twice deferred to his colleagues — for 45 minutes to Sherrod Brown (D- Ohio), and to Mary Landrieu (D-La.) for over a half hour.

"I don't know how I'm going to vote, but I'm not voting quietly," Landrieu said.

Even when he defers to a colleague, Sanders must remain standing on the floor. He also cannot eat — he hasn't since arriving at the Capitol at 9 a.m. — but is permitted to take sips of water.

In my view, the tax compromise needs to pass to alleviate immediate suffering from the recession.  By dropping unemployment by 1 - 2 % points, millions of Americans will be prevented from descending into poverty, losing their homes, and creating a downward spiral for others on the brink.  The tax break for the rich is unnecessary, fiscally irresponsible, and useless at stimulating the economy.

But this courageous filibuster is helpful to start the discussion that must be had in 2012 - it will be a repeat of the current debate, but Sander's filibuster has taken on a viral quality, much like Ron Paul's anti-war speeches in 2008.  So carry on, good Senator.  Thanks for fighting the good fight, and congratulations on being a star attraction of the Senate floor!  Perhaps some more of this public drama from the good guys will help break through the bias and talking points espoused by the plutocracy.