Monday, January 21, 2008

Immigration, Homelessness: Some American Woes

    A recent email discussion of illegal immigration issues tweaked my thinking bone. So did a woman in mismatched second or third-hand-me-downs, ending in a pair of oversized men's shoes on her feet.

    This discussion group is educated and multi-faceted with as many opinions and thoughts on the issue as there are probably illegal immigrants. The shabbily clothed woman was trying to open the massive glass and steel doors of a county office, but she struggled because one arm held what may have been her possessions and the other arm looked too thin to manage the door's weight. I assume that the word download in her world is putting down her oversized plastic bag either in a shelter or, God forbid, a person-sized box, abandoned car or underneath a bridge also known as her bedroom.

    So what do I think about illegal immigration? I think it is inevitable and unstoppable. In spite of the United States' economic woes, this country is the greener side of the fence. With classism and racism strong elements of the countries south of our border, poverty remains incurable. Yes, there is a middle class, but by my observations the haves and have-nots are clearly defined and unchangeable.
The have-nots will not get education, will not get advantage, will not rise above impoverishment, and will not stay in their country to watch their children wake up hungry. The haves will gladly accept the $23 BILLION in revenue sent to Mexico by illegal and legal immigrants in 2006 (Dallas Morning News, Jan. 31, 2007), while their neighbor, El Salvador welcomes the $2.5 BILLION in revenue by Salvadorians working in the United States, according to Rene Leon, Ambassador of El Salvador.

    In 2005, the US immigrant money sent to Mexico exceeded foreign direct investment in Mexico. And in El Salvador, the $2.5 billion was 13% of the Gross Domestic Product of El Salvador.

    Meanwhile back to this obviously Caucasian woman with white hair and funky clothes. What does she have in common with illegal immigrants? She was probably born here. She's probably half-way educated. Somehow her life unwound (Abuse? Mental disorder? Addictions?), and she has sunk lower on the social-economic totem pole than the illegal immigrant picking the strawberries I'll consume next week. She's just of one of an estimated 3.5 million people (1.35 million of which are children) that will experience homelessness in a given year.

Some more sad statistics from Los Angeles Homeless Services Coalition

Children under the age of 18 account for 39% of the homeless population. 42% of these are under the age of 5.

43% of the homeless population are women; 40% of these women are unaccompanied. 22% of homeless women claim domestic abuse as reason for homelessness. 25% of these claim to have been abused within the past year.

Families with children comprise 33% of the homeless population.

Vets constitute 40% of the homeless population.

1 in every 5 homeless persons has a severe or persistent mental illness.

25% of the homeless nationwide are employed.

Clearly, it is time to take care of America and those who choose to become Americans. The circumstances are complex and almost inconceivable in scope. Earned pride and well-being come from within.

Yes there is a war against America. I'm not Pollyanna. Our military and police are irreplaceable. When America is good, it is very, very good. Balance, humility, insight and compassion must return to our daily consumption.


Sunday, January 6, 2008

Pigeonholing Liberals and Conservatives. Wrong!

Yesterday I saw two bumper stickers on a pickup truck: "Rush is Right" and "Piss off a Liberal: Work Hard and Be Successful."

From my point of view that is dumbness personified. I'll tell you why: Rush has a shtick and makes up facts--we all know that. He is profoundly wealthy as a hate monger. That's funky karma in my world. And this business about liberals not working--wrong. Spouse and I work hard and are successful business people. I won't quote dollars, but we're in the tax bracket that pays big taxes. We anonymously donate to the underprivileged. We choose not to have our name on brass plaques.

This is not meant as a statement of sainthood, but as a statement of pigeonholing folks. Didn't we cease pigeonholing after leaving high school?

I don't mind being spurred about my liberal thoughts because I can answer with conviction, facts, and knowledge of the subject. I was raised in an active political family of both Democrats and Republicans. From the time I was 3, I worked on campaigns with my godfather, who raised me. I knew big time state Democratic leaders, and I socialized and worked with Republicans. Heck, my great grandfather, was a Republican candidate for mayor of Los Angeles--but he died of TB before the election.

Once upon a time, when I was 28-years-old, the father of my two baby girls and my husband, was accidentally killed. I had stayed home with the babies, worked part time developing my own business, and tried to finish my education. Boom. Suddenly, my income was gone. I qualified for county aide and state aide. But this good old-fashioned liberal said, screw your aide, I'll do it myself, thank you very much. And I did. I learned about investment. I took a minuscule life insurance policy and invested that into second mortgages which earned me a tidy income along with my reporter's job that I did during the day while taking night classes at UCLA. Does this fit the shape of a liberal?

Yet, I'm still without a candidate for 2008!