Dick Bernard: Three weeks after inauguration day. Letters to Judd

More on the topic of the 2017 Presidency here.
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The town in which we live, Woodbury MN, would be considered a prosperous suburban community just east of St. Paul. Sometimes I refer to it as “suburban 3M”, since 3Ms headquarters are nearby and many highly skilled employees live here. Politically, we’re probably a “purple” place: our State Senator and one of our two state legislators are Democrat and female; the other side of the district had a hard fought race between two women: one Democrat, one Republican. The Democrat (we call Democrats DFLer – Democratic Farmer Labor in Minnesota) is a young African-American professional woman; our town of 62,000 has a significant number of Muslims, primarily highly educated professional people.
I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was, yesterday, to see our local paper, the Woodbury Bulletin, carry a front page and very long column by Youssef Rddad on the WWII internship of the Japanese in America, with a headline “Does Trump order echo the past?
Meanwhile, back in Washington…. A good daily summary I look forward to every day is found in Just Above Sunset, a retired guy in Los Angeles. The last number, overnight, is titled: “The Persistence of Nonsense“. [Feb. 11: the most recent posting, again overnite, is chilling and important, here. Avoiding reality is not a good option…for us.]
Here at home I had occasion to pull down one of the boxes of farm “junk” – part of the last remaining residue of my grandparents 110 year farm in rural North Dakota.
I was looking for the book about the 1997 Red River Valley Flood (which is here, somewhere), but instead, sitting on top, was a 64-page pamphlet, “Letters to Judd”, originally written in 1925 and, according to author Upton Sinclair, “reprinted in 1932 and 1933. I might have rewritten it, but I thought you would learn more by reading it as prophecy.”
It would count as “prophecy” for the first decades of the 2000s as well.
Upton Sinclair was a prolific author, a Socialist, once a candidate for Governor of California. You can read the entire 1933 pamphlet here.
The pamphlet I have is the 1933 edition, and five pages can be seen here: Letters to Judd002
Take the time to read the first couple of letters. I think you’ll want to continue to the end.
Grandpa Busch was about 53 – my oldest sons age – when he picked up the book in 1933. His area, North Dakota, was in the hard times of the Depression. He had lost, or was about to lose, part of his land.
I’ve gotten to know a lot about Grandpa and Grandma and their family over these past many years.
Grandpa came to the prairie in 1905 to be somebody. As so often happens to the little guys (and gals), greed of bigger shots than he put the brakes on his aspirations. The Non-Partisan League beckoned; later he was one of the first to join and become very active in the North Dakota Farmers Union.
But I think he was always on the conservative side, not happy with “loafers” who got government jobs in the CCC and WPA and such (even though a nephew was in the CCC). He was a gifted tinkerer, convinced that inventing stuff – he had patents – would sail his families boat, though it never did.
It would be great to have a conversation with Grandpa about “Letters to Judd” – how he came to learn about it; what he thought of it…. He lived on 34 more years, on the same farm, always a dreamer, a tinkerer.
Letters to Judd is about the battle between concepts: Capitalism versus Socialism. We are in a society where Capitalism has won, but have we…?
Read the pamphlet, think about what you’ve read, share it, have a conversation.
What part do you play in our future.
from Corky: Letters to Judd is interesting read. Economic analysis is interesting. I understand the plight of farmers much better now.
from C: How sad. We watched the movie Grapes of Wrath last night on [TV]. You couldn’t help but cry at what they went through. I kept thinking of our refugees. I know we shouldn’t live in fear, but I can’t help it. I fear what is happening in our country. Is this the coming of Hitler’s dictatorship time? I hear how, ” this and that” is being investigated and it gives me hope but it’s so slow in happening. It’s like I read where a president was told “Don’t piss in the pot we all have to eat out of”. The women in congress speak up but the only men that speak up are Democrats, Senators Tim Kaine, your [Mn Sen.] Franken, and Republican John McCain.
from Emmett: As I read through the material, I found that it paralleled the story of my family. My dad suffered from a hernia and wore a truss, as did Judd. Our house was also made of a couple of houses brought together, and then other additions were added later. Much of what is said sounds a lot like what my dad said. And much of what is said is still happening today (automation). The letter writers would be shocked by what is currently happening in this electronic world we live in. It is interesting as to how people can witness the same thing and yet process it in such different ways. All this makes me think about Mitt Romney and his comment about makers and takers. You have a work force making things and the wealthy executives of the company take the profits for themselves leaving little for the makers. Yet from Mitt Romney’s perspective, he was the maker by virtue of his investments, while the 47%, made up largely by poor underpaid makers were the takers in his mind. I was thinking that this should be sent to Trump. But I’m not sure he has the intellect to digest it all. All this makes you understand the passage of Glass-Steagall, to protect us from the wealth crooks that caused the Great Depression and the Bush Recession.
from Peter: Here is a letter I just sent to my extended family. I encourage everyone to follow the link and take effective action
It may have been awhile since you heard from me about other than births, deaths or marriages.
We are confronted with an administration that seems bent on harming as many as possible of the most vulnerable among us. Most of you saw this coming, and opposed it, but here we are.
Today immigration raids have begun in earnest, tearing apart families all over America. I had seen this under the previous administration, when I participated in a workshop in Boston with teenagers who often came home from school to find the front door missing and their parents gone. In Boston. In America. But this is now set to “surge”, according to ICE.
This can’t be accomplished by haranguing people who already agree with us, which is what happens when we blog or use the Book of Faces. One way that might have real impact, however, is to erode their corporate support, as outlined below. Because, although corporations are not democratic in any way, they exist because we put up with them, regardless of politics or law. And we don’t have to put up with them. They live under the Rule of Money, not the Rule of Law, and in that country [Money], we have considerable, innate power.
The history of the list, and those included on the list, is GrabYourWallet.org/about.
We are seeing a massive power-grab by the likes of Bannon, who is a dyed-in-the-wool white supremacist. He is now attacking Planned Parenthood, the golden goose of his hate-spewing career, now that he is running the White House. That person knows no limits, and believes in an an ultimate war between the few people he likes, and the rest of humanity. The President, as is obvious, is a loon who is easily steered by such manipulators, and will be discarded – a last great trumpian spectacle – when his puffery ceases sufficiently to distract the nation from the deep substantive changes his backers are making to our system of governance.
We are all needed now. Meanwhile, as Joni Mitchell sang:
“The gas leaks
The oil spills
And sex kills…”
PS- as with all links in emails, paste it in your browser, don’t click on it here!
from Fred: Here is [a] Kipling poem The Sons of Martha and the note my friend sent. If you want to see Upton Sinclair’s comment [on the poem] just google reviews of the poem*.
“I’ve seen this cited in a couple of places on the web as a key to (at least some of) the psychology of the 2016 election. It’s called “The Sons of Martha”. Biblical reference is Luke 10. Notes here.”
Rudyard Kipling (1907)
The Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother, of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary’s Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.
It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.
They say to mountains “Be ye removèd.” They say to the lesser floods “Be dry.”
Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd – they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill-tops shake to the summit – then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.
They finger Death at their gloves’ end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.
To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden – under the earthline their altars are –
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city’s drouth.
They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not preach that His Pity allows them to drop their job when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren’s ways may be long in the land.
Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat;
Lo, it is black already with the blood some Son of Martha spilled for that!
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.
And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessèd – they know the Angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessèd, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the feet – they hear the Word – they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and – the Lord He lays it on Martha’s Sons!
* – Upton Sinclair: from “The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.(Under this title the English poet has written a striking picture of the social chasm. He figures the world’s toilers as the “Sons of Martha,” who, because their mother “was rude to the Lord, her Guest,” are condemned forever to unrequited toil. “It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.” The poem goes on to tell of the ignorance and torment in which they live—while the Sons of Mary, who “have inherited that good part,” live in ease upon their toil.
“They sit at the Feet and they hear the Word—they know how truly the Promise runs.
“They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and—the Lord he lays it on Martha’s Sons.”
But it appears that for a long period of years Mr. Kipling has refused to permit this radical poem to be reprinted. Under the circumstances, all that the editor can do is to state that it may be found in the files of the New York Tribune and other newspapers throughout America having the service of the “Associated Sunday Magazines,” on April 28, 1907. The editor ventures to doubt if there exists a more dangerous social force than the man of genius who turns his divine gift to the crushing of the efforts of his fellowmen for justice)”

Part 2. Nobel Peace Prize Forum June 6-8, 2016: The Drowning Child and the Shoes…2016 Nobel Peace Prize Forum, Bloomington MN

This years Nobel Peace Prize Forum focused on “Globalizing Compassion”, particularly children, and gave a very large role to the co-2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, a native of India who passed over a career in engineering to invest his life work on issues relating to child trafficking. More about his Children’s Foundation is here.
Satyarthi is an immensely engaging and persuasive man. You can see and hear him speak at this years Nobel Peace Prize Conference at the weblink listed below.
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co-2014 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Kailash Satyarthi, June 7, 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Forum, Bloomington MN

co-2014 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Kailash Satyarthi, June 7, 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Forum, Bloomington MN

Many of the talks at this years Forum are accessible online here. They are all worth your viewing time.
The brimming-with-information Program Booklet for the 2016 Forum can be read here: 2016 Nobel Forum001
My comments, Part One about the 2016 Forum is here.
Wednesday afternoon, June 8, the final day of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, we were on our final coffee break. One of my colleague participants asked me what I thought of this years Forum. I said I always like workshops like these, where I know hardly anyone, including the speakers. It never fails, I said, that I leave without some insights, useful to me.
The conference adjourned, and I went home exhausted.
There was a final program, a film, The Same Heart, in the evening that I almost decided to miss.
Along with perhaps 50-100 “remnants” (not unusual after long conferences), I was at the theatre, and it was during The Same Heart that I experienced one of those insights I’d mentioned a few hours earlier.
The film is about the realistic possibility of eliminating the worst poverty for perhaps a billion children world wide. The film opened with a camera focusing on what appears to be a lake, and then panning back to a narrow stream.
Peter Singer*, ethicist at Princeton University, posed a question to the viewers: suppose that you are standing on the banks of a brook, and you look across to the other side and see a toddler going in the water, almost certainly about to drown. You are the only adult. The brook is shallow, but entering the water will ruin your new shoes.
What would you do?
His basic point was that there are hundreds of millions, if not billions of such toddlers around the world today, in effect drowning in circumstances out of their control, and most of us in varying degrees of affluence are unwilling to sacrifice our personal pair of new shoes to help them out. The message has stuck with me since I watched the film last week. It will not soon go away.
What would, what will I do?
The other insight came in bits and pieces, but it came together during a session on Tuesday afternoon.
An official of UNICEF, Olav Kjorven, Director of Public Partnerships, was talking about a UNICEF “My World” survey, about the “World We Want”, where millions of people expressed their opinion about priorities for humanity.
Olav Kjorven, UNICEF

Olav Kjorven, UNICEF

Almost off-handedly he commented on the unlikely creation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by the UN at the beginning of the 21st Century, ending 2015. It seemed (my opinion) that a major reason these goals were adopted relatively easily was not so much because anyone thought they could be attained, but that they really were seen as a set of informal goals for the world which would not upset anyone’s “apple cart”, be stuck with commitments, and especially wouldn’t require much funding.
The MDGs have turned out to be much, much more substantive. “Grassroots” people have taken them seriously, and in a sense policy is being proposed and implemented from the bottom up, rather than imposed top down.
I was somewhat familiar with these goals. In 2005, I had attended a session on the Millennium Development Goals. One of the featured speakers was Marilyn Carlson Nelson, a powerful Twin Cities businesswoman who came out strongly about tackling child sex trafficking: her business, as we Minnesotans know, is the hospitality industry, worldwide. My notes about that meeting are here: MDG Workshop 2005001
Ms Carlson Nelson was part of a panel at this years Peace Prize Forum, and in her time period she said her insight moment came in 2004 from someone she said was “Amb. Miller” who heightened her awareness that her industry had a major problem with child sex trafficking. She took a very serious look at her own industries cause in the matter, and has taken action, and is still taking action, and most importantly has become a public witness for closer attention to justice in other areas as well.
She quite clearly became a behind the scenes leader in settling the Minnesota Orchestra lockout three years ago; most recently Mark Ritchie mentioned her as a very positive actor. The saying “don’t judge the book by its cover” comes to mind; or be careful about “painting with a broad brush”.
Progress is a process, often slow, but progress happens with effort.
Marilyn Carlson Nelson June 7, 2016

Marilyn Carlson Nelson June 7, 2016

At the same meeting in 2005 was my friend, Dr. Bharat Parekh, who decided to take on the problem of child malnutrition in his native India, implementing one of the MDG’s. Here is a talk given by Dr. Parekh in 2014, talking about the then-progress on his work towards a goal.
I don’t know what his aspirations were, but Dr. Parekh had a plan, and he worked it hard – I watched what he was doing as elements began to come together – to the extent that now he is a Board member of a major organization called Toddler Food Partners, and is making a big difference.
Back at the conference, Mr. Kjorven noted that at the end of the 15 year MDG period, the “World We Want” survey (previously mentioned) gave great grassroots impetus to the current UN Sustainable Development Goals.
I left the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Forum exhausted and, at the same time, renewed and refreshed.
People can and do make the crucial difference. They just need to believe their capacity to make that difference.
A WONDERFUL POSTSCRIPT: The final session of Wednesday afternoon was dryly described as “Closing Remarks” with a two line descriptor: “Nobel Peace Prize Forum Executive Director Gina Torry will close the final afternoon of the 2016 Forum.” This was a “don’t judge the book by its cover” descriptor, as the session began with a wonderful tribute to my deceased friend, and stalwart of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum from 1997 on, Lynn Elling, deceased Feb. 14, 2016. Featured was a video by public television made about 1993 which needs no elaboration. The segment concluded with a hashtag #peaceitforward…a wonderful tribute.
June 25: Recently the Aitkin Independent Age newspaper featured a long article about Lynn and his work in his lake country community. You can read it here: Big Sandy Lake and dad article
* * * * *
* I note that Dr. Singer’s views on certain issues have excited some controversy which is hi-lited on the internet. That is of no concern to me, here. We all have points of view. His drowning child and shoes image will always stick with me.

2016 Nobel Peace Prize Forum, Bloomington MN. June 6-8, 2016

This years Nobel Peace Prize Forum began yesterday, and continues through tomorrow at the Radisson Blu Hotel at the Mall of America.
I’m attending in person. Yesterday’s program was incredibly powerful, and probably today and tomorrow will be as well.
It is too late to attend yesterdays; and few of you may be in a position to attend today and tomorrow (though you can register at the door, I’m sure), but if you follow through you can likely watch the plenary sessions here, and if past is prelude, film of many of the previous sessions will be archived at the same site.
Yesterdays focus, “Every Minute Matters”, was exploitation of children, ending last night with a very powerful film, “Sold”, about the history of a youthful Nepalese sex worker in India. You could hear a pin drop in the theater.
A card distributed gave weblinks for bringing the film to your local community, here, and to bring the film to your local school, here.
Today’s Forum focus is entitled “Globalizing Compassion“, beginning at 9 a.m.; tonight at 8 p.m. at the Mall of America theater, screening of the film “Antarctica 3D: On the Edge“.
Wednesday, the theme is “Challenging Neutrality“, and the evening film, also at Mall of America, is “The Same Heart” about changing international economics to the betterment of the poor by an extremely small “Robin Hood Tax”. Of course, nothing is easy when you mess with money, but this is a serious initiative, proposed by people of serious mind.
(The venue, the Radisson Blu, is at the south edge of the Mall of America, on Killibrew Drive, a simple and short indoor walk to the Mall. There is on-site parking, the first three hours free.

Mark Ritchie on Expo 2023, Thursday evening, June 9, 2016, The Woman's Club, Minneapolis MN

“Wellness And Well Being For All: Healthy People, Healthy Planet”: that is the working theme for the proposed Expo 2023 in Minnesota. Former Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has been having conversations about the idea since 2014 and a look at the projects website gives much interesting information.
Thursday evening, June 9, Ritchie will speak at an open-to-the-public annual meeting of Citizens for Global Solutions at The Woman’s Club of Minneapolis. His topic: “Working Minnesota’s Global” How can we best use our heritage of global-mindedness and activism to maximize our impact in our community, state, nation and planet?”
(click to enlarge – printable pdf here: Mark Ritchie June 9005
Mark Ritchie June 9006
Minnesotans know Mark Ritchie was Minnesota’s Secretary of State (2007-15), and before that as founder and long time Director of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, “a non-profit organization working with businesses, churches, farm organizations and civic groups to foster long-term sustainability for Minnesota/s rural communities. Among other issues, it looked into how global trade rules impact family farmers and rural communities.”
Since completing his terms as Secretary of State, Mr. Ritchie has been very active in planning an internationally focused Expo 2023, which will bring a positive and international focus on Minnesota and the surrounding region.
His is a long record of activism and interest in international policy issues, including the United Nations. His talks are always stimulating.
Now, with his planning of the internationally focused Expo 2023, Mr. Ritchie is again bringing Minnesota into the international spotlight. We hope to see you on June 9.
It is very important that Reservations be made, as noted on the flier, by May 23.

#965 – Dick Bernard: The Minnesota Orchestral Association Annual Meeting

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A brass quintet of orchestra members expertly closed out the public meeting.

A brass quintet of orchestra members expertly closed out the public meeting.

Pre-note, side comment, and recommendation: In light of current events it seems almost superfluous to write about a meeting of the Board of the Minnesota Orchestra. There is a great deal happening on the national scene, most recently the non-indictment of the policeman involved in the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island and Ferguson, Mo and spreading unrest around injustice. And all signs suggest that the U.S. Congress will be even more dysfunctional and confrontational with President Obama in 2015 than it is now, attempting its own power play with no good ahead for our country.
We are a country at war within ourselves. Still, a few words about an Orchestra organization trying to heal after one of the worst lockouts in American labor history seems worthy of some time.
On the national scene, the best daily source I have found, (6 days a week), summarizing major contemporary national and international issues of the previous day and offering intelligent comment, is a blog called Just Above Sunset, published by a retired guy in Los Angeles, Alan, whose brief bio is at the end of each post. Today’s post is about the Eric Garner situation. Here, here, here and here are links to a couple of others. Subscription is free. It silently finds its way to my e-mail at about 2 a.m. most days. My personal bias is clearly articulated at right on this blog.
Personally, I’ve never been a quitter, though sometimes, like now, I feel whipped as an ordinary citizen. It is not a constructive attitute.
It was good to listen in on the Orchestra Board meeting Tuesday night, and maybe there is some hope. But as with everything, its up to me, and to you, to get anything useful accomplished.
The Minnesota Orchestral Association Annual Meeting Dec. 2, 2014.
Tuesday night I dropped in on the public meeting of the Minnesota Orchestral Association Board at Orchestra Hall. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has a good summary of the one hour session which, apparently, included about 150 of us, only a couple who asked questions.
I came to listen, and took the photo at beginning of this post of a brass quintet of Orchestra members. For those interested, here is most of the 2014 Annual Report: MN Orch Ann Report 2014001
At Tuesday’s meeting, you would have to have been an “inside baseball” type to gather that between October, 2012, and February, 2014, there had been a bitter and near fatal dispute between the Orchestral Association and its Musicians, and ultimately, Music Director Osmo Vanska, with the Audience as unseen bit players off on the side somewhere, though I would guess that everyone of us in the room knew full-well what had transpired over that long period of time.
My “filing cabinet” of that dispute is here.
We are one of those ordinary people with more-than-ordinary interest in the short and long-term success of the Orchestra. For example, after the meeting, I met my daughter and 14 year old grandson, Ted, in the lobby. He’s a music guy at his high school, especially interested in Jazz, and I wanted them to have a chance to see Wynton Marsalis and Ensemble from Lincoln Center that same day, best tickets available. It will likely be a long-time memory for Ted.
My guess is that we’ll lay out about $1000 for assorted things at Orchestra Hall this first full season back – for us, it is affordable, but noticeable in our circumstances. There are endless other entreaties for contributions from other worthy agencies. The well is only so deep.
As I sat, listening Tuesday afternoon, I kept thinking that the real dilemma for the Orchestral Association Board is to truly come to understand who we in the seats, the audience, really are, and how we can best participate in the Orchestra’s long-term success.
And it will be a difficult task.

Those who are the Orchestral Association Board are, I would guess, from a very comfortable economic class, well connected in the upper echelons of business and society, and influential in their circles. Indeed, this is a main reason they are appointed to this board: they not only have a passion for the music, but have both money and access to other important sources of money and power. The rest of us (once well described to me by head of a major twin cities Charity as “the poor ones”) don’t bring enough “value added” to effectively serve on such a Board, much less be listened to.
So, the only “power” the general audience possesses is whether we enter the doors or not, and keep this magnificent institution, this legacy of past benefactors, in business. It behooves the people on the Board to know us very, very well, and to talk with and about us as equals – not an easy task.
“During the meeting, a point was made of some “anonymous” donor who contributed $10,000,000 in the last few months to the Orchestra Endowment. Simply stated, that is 10,000 times our paltry $1000.
The big money is very important, granted, but it is people like ourselves who must fill the seats long term, and who must choose where to spend our discretionary income (if we’re lucky enough to have that).
The way this Orchestra (and most similar large cultural institutions everywhere) are structured, the sole responsibility for understanding the common folks in the seats rests with the uncommon folks who sit on the Orchestra Board and cannot really understand less privileged realities. And that $10,000,000 donor on any given night can occupy only a single seat as can I….
Put another way: Money most certainly talks, but that doesn’t mean it understands; to paraphrase the liquor ad, “with great privilege comes great responsibility”….
Understanding those of us come to the hall will help bring long term success. Without such understanding, long term recovery will be difficult.

Grandson Ted at right, Grandson and Ted/s cousin, baseball guy Parker, at center, Nov 29, 2014.  Both Ted and Parker's Moms were good at piano.

Grandson Ted at right, Grandson and Ted/s cousin, baseball guy Parker, at center, Nov 29, 2014. Both Ted and Parker’s Moms were good at piano.

#907 – Dick Bernard: The Tool Shed

My friend, Bruce, and I were in one of our occasional jousting modes earlier today. I had sent along a post including a commentary by a self-described member of the .01%ers – the super wealthy. Basically, Mr. Hanauer, reminded his fellow super-wealthy folks that starving the middle class was not productive for the wealthy. The middle class was, after all, the market for the goods that drive prosperity.
There were a couple of parries and thrusts back and forth (see end of this post for the entire thread) and in his last comment Bruce said this about our future when we run out of the resources we have squandered: “I think community will be more important than it is today. Neighborhood resources will be important to sustain lifestyle.”

It happened that just 20 minutes before the above comment I had received an e-mail with the following subject line, and brief contents: “Project Update #6: Aurora/St. Anthony Peace Garden Shed + Tool Lending Library by Garden Volunteer, Kristine Miller. Project Update #6: We Made It!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you beautiful people!!!! More information soon! With love from your friends at the Aurora/St. Anthony Peace Garden”.
Kristine, who I had met just days ago, and community activist Melvin Giles, who I’ve known for years, and others, unnamed, had pulled off a major accomplishment, raising some funds for a simple tool shed in their neighborhood. The story is in a less than three minute video accompanying the final report of the fundraising success.
(Melvin is the “star” of the video. Listen for his “strawberry” story.) This isn’t a million dollar deal, but for the folks around 855 Aurora Avenue (just a block or two south of University Avenue, and a few blocks west of the Minnesota State Capitol) it surely is the very essence of “community” as described by Bruce. It is, also, a “kickstart” to encourage folks to make small and large differences in their circles.
The video shows the shed being replaced; I was privileged to see the new shed, still under construction, a few weeks ago. The photo is below. The shed was built as a project by students from the University of Minnesota School of Landscape Architecture.
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The still-under-construction tool shed at 855 Aurora Avenue St. Paul.  June 11, 2014

The still-under-construction tool shed at 855 Aurora Avenue St. Paul. June 11, 2014

Ehtasham Anwar interviews Melvin Giles in the garden June 11, 2014.  Filmed by Suhail Ahmed.  Ehtasham and Suhail, both from Pakistan, were at the end of their year in the U.S. as Humphrey/Fulbright Fellows at the Human Rights Center of the University of Minnesota Law School.  Interviewing Melvin was part of Ehtasham's year-end archival project about peace-making in the Twin Cities.

Ehtasham Anwar interviews Melvin Giles in the garden June 11, 2014. Filmed by Suhail Ahmed. Ehtasham and Suhail, both from Pakistan, were at the end of their year in the U.S. as Humphrey/Fulbright Fellows at the Human Rights Center of the University of Minnesota Law School. Interviewing Melvin was part of Ehtasham’s year-end archival project about peace-making in the Twin Cities.

It is the small stories such as this one which will save our planet.
As Margaret Mead so notably said many years ago: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.
FOR ANYONE INTERESTED, here’s Bruce and my on-line conversation “thread” which helped lead to this post. I think such ad hoc discussions (arguments) on-line can be useful to both parties, if they begin and end with respect, as I think Bruce and I have for each other, over a number of years now.
Dick, June 30, 5:29 a.m. to my usual list: If nothing else, read up on Nick Hanauer, at about the middle, about the Middle Class: [link here]
Here’s a brief bio about Hanauer.
In the end analysis, its people like ourselves, not the politicians, who’ll have to change the direction. The nature of politics is to read the wind of public opinion and get and stay elected. It’s a nasty reality in our electoral system. You are useless if you can’t stay elected, and being a representative requires you to follow more than lead.
Nobody, especially idealists, likes to hear that.
So…what do you plan to do about it, these remaining few months before the 2014 election? It’s about four months away.
Bruce, 9:27 a.m.: “…thriving middle class is the source of American prosperity, not a consequence of it.”
What has American prosperity done to the environment? That question looms large in the presents of human influenced climate change & global warming. Our economy is predicated on infinite expansion, while our planets resources are finite. Because of dwindling quality of natural resources( the high quality stuff that built the middle class is gone), the economic expansion that the rebuilding of the middle class depends on becomes far more expensive than what it took to create the golden years of the middle class from 1946 to 1980. And, the degradation to the environment becomes more severe.
I think this model that the Sunset guy [the blog referred to above] is trying to get back to is a broken romantic dream like the return to the Garden of Eden.
Dick, 9:38 a.m.: So, I challenge you, what is the alternative…a viable solution in our country, when even folks on welfare decline to accept certain kinds of used furniture because they’re not good enough….
I’m a bit more sensitive than usual about this as I’m beginning the process of closing out the history of a 110 year farm, as my 89 year Uncle, the last survivor, never married, is in the nursing home in the nearby town.
In some of the old farm photos, recently, I found two iconic images of the good old days (before prosperity). One is of a two bottom, four horse, cultivator, tended by the hired man, who probably slept in a grain bin during his summers there. The other is “Edithe’s favorite milk cow” (my aunt Edithe died in February). This from the day when she and Grandma, basically, milked the cows by hand, and had a hand run cream separator.
This was the “pitchfork” era, as you know. We’re heading back to it [“pitchforks”, literally] quickly, but the solution is not to go the utopian route. Its a bit like being addicted to something: initially, the cure is worse than the disease, and most people can’t take the transition (poverty) between wealth and reason….
Bruce, 11:31 a.m.: I’m not sure what alternatives we have. But, what I am sure of is that we aren’t given the truth of what the consumerism & materialism has done to our home. The high quality natural resources that were taken out of the earth to build the society was used to manufacture, buy, and sell things for profit. These precious natural resources that are real wealth are expressed in the stuff called junk thrown in landfills & dissolved into the atmosphere, land, and water.
The articles like the Sunset guy wrote perpetuates the destructive dream of a new middle class where labor is equal to capital so that the ever expanding economy can march timelessly on into the sunset. It can’t.
The next twenty years will be different from the past twenty years. Cheap oil is gone & the alternative fossil fuels are very expensive and don’t provide the net energy gain that the quality stuff did. The alternatives to fossil fuels will not support or sustain the consumer life style that built the middle class as we remember it. We will have to drastically change life style and the ultra-rich are the ones who will suffer the most relatively to what they are accustomed to. That is why some like Hanauer advocate for higher taxes on the rich, better wages for labor, and stronger safety net for the needy. It’s to grow the middle class. They are liberal market place capitalists that want to generally perpetuate the status quo.
The solution is to understand what the consumerism of the middle class did to the planet. Then we can move forward with solutions. People hate change, but they get use to it and it becomes normal. But, time is dwindling.
Dick, 1:04 p.m.: The Sunset Guy just reflects on stuff, as you know. [ED. NOTE: In my opinion Just Above Sunset is a very useful (and free) daily musing on matters national and international]
What would happen if we were forced into the horse and milk cow stage again? My relatives knew that era. I witnessed it in action when I was young.
The grandkids generation (mine are from about 8-27 years of age) are going to be the first generation to fully bear the brunt of our wastrel ways.
It is complicated, beyond that.
Bruce, 3:55 p.m., June 30, 2014:
I think community will be more important than it is today. Neighborhood resources will be important to sustain lifestyle.

What is a better indication of a vibrant middle class: a high quality education system, transport system and health care system or individual material wealth? Values will change.
The rich of the 50s through 70s thought that the planet’s natural resources were infinite and understood the way to wealth & perpetual growth was to grow the middle class affluence so they could consume material goods, which would keep the economy expanding making the wealthy wealthier. They for the most part thought like Hanauer. But today the wealthy understand the finite nature of the high quality natural resources of years gone by. Their answer to grow there wealth is to hoard and strangle the middle class because there isn’t enough to go around. Their answer is short sighted. The middle class is shrinking & will not return to the position it once maintained. But, the wealth of the wealthy will collapse too, because their money depends on the health of the primary natural resources( the planet) and the resources that manufacture & create things. From what I’ve read, the Thomas Pikkety book, CAPITAL IN THE 21st CENTURY gets at this point. The wealthy would rather invest in the investment markets than grow the economy. The potential to make higher rate of return is better. That is a big disconnect.
Politically, this argument is being made by fringe parties & candidates for office. I don’t see any one running for office of any kind from the two major parties making this argument. Jean Massey’s IRV [Instant Runoff Voting] voting system is the best way to effect the political changes we need. It will allow the marginal candidate with the best ideas a good chance to be elected.
Dick, to everyone who’s read this far: So, what is your opinion?

#904 – Dick Bernard: Living in Hell.

A few hours ago we were a pizza party for a friend who just turned 50. It was the usual kind of casual gettogether. Small talk. Catching up with people you haven’t seen for awhile. A cake with two candles: “5” and “0”, singing “Happy Birthday to you….” Each of us at or beyond that age can fill in the blanks of our own similar experience.
It was probably that party that generated the dream that woke me up the middle of this night. The strange dream whose details you can’t remember exactly, but had more than a hint of desperation within it, and caused me, this night, to break out in a sweat right before I woke up, just now.
It was a dream about being unemployed, with less and less hope. A reality about to begin for me 32 years ago this Fall; a reality in which the “50” man has been living for the last 2-3 years, with no active prospects. One day he was working; the next day it was over.
We stood around the birthday cake last evening, sang Happy Birthday and all, but everyone in the room, of adult age, probably were thinking, as I was: where will this hell end for our friend, our relative.
No one really knows.
For me, perhaps for most of us there in that room, there was a sense of hopelessness. I’m 14 years retired and my “linked in” profile is of little use to this 50 year old: even if I had contacts, they are in sectors for which the birthday guy has no qualifications whatever.
It is not quite so simple as “just go get a job”.
By the time you’re in your 40s, in our society, your life course has been pretty well set. You were trained for something, and you did it, and then it ended for one of an endless number of reasons, and there you were, stuck, getting older, unqualified for the available alternatives. So, as with this 50 year old, you need to retrain to do something you haven’t done before, and then begin life again, at 50, in competition with younger people who have better skills (and are cheaper, etc., and can be shaped and molded easier than someone with a particular mindset.)
More than most, in that room last night, I could relate to this guy seeking to start over.
Yesterday, in this space, I wrote of a trip to Quebec with my Dad at age 42 in June, 1982. At that moment in history I was at the end of a sabbatical leave from my career, and I had, literally, “burned out”, ten years into a high stress job. And there were assorted other dynamics intruding on an outwardly successful appearing life.
I was doing well, outside, but not doing so well at all inside. I needed to regroup.
Three months or so later I resigned the job (in the midst of a bad recession), and embarked on 12 months which I have always described, since, as both the best and worst year of my entire life. (I had better years, and I actually had worse, but not occurring at the same time.)
Because I had resigned, there was no unemployment insurance.
I started out pretty optimistic. My Christmas letter for 1982 was not hopeless. It is here, see the last paragraph:Vietnam Mem DC 1982001
Twelve months later, in early September, 1983, I was near desperate. I had been on the Corporate Board for Catholic Charities when my mis-adventure began, watching over programs for the down and out. Here I was, a year later, near down and out, too proud to reach out for welfare or the such.
It was probably old memories of that time that triggered the unpleasant dream just now.
At the end of September, 1983, I was reemployed, back to work in mid-October, and the hell began to end, and life has been very good since.
But I’m not prone to judge what’s going on in the mind of the person down-on-his (or her) -luck for whatever reason. Unemployment is not a soundbite. It is a cruel reality.
I’ve been there, done that.
I wish the new 50 year old my own resurrection, which began in Hibbing MN, mid-October, 1983….
Then, perhaps, it can be a “Happy Birthday”.

#841 – Dick Bernard: Reflecting on "Going for the Gold" in Sochi

This will probably be modified later today (it’s 10:30 AM CST). Comments are solicited.
There are three photos, below, which may be of interest.

Last night I watched a portion of the Opening Ceremonies at the Sochi Olympics. It was an impressive spectacle, as usual. I saw the Americans come in, and the Russians, and I particularly noticed the tiny team from Jamaica, minimally funded but there, and assorted team members using assorted means to make their own movie of what they were experiencing…. (I’m too old fashioned to ever get used to the now common practice of using those big notebooks to take pictures – doesn’t look like photography, regardless of how professional the quality can be!)
Anyway, the entire script has been written to please the advertisers and the news media and business and the politicians. Those are the only reasons for the Modern Day Games, in my opinion. The cast for the Big Show are those who will win or lose, bringing home the gold, or (mostly) not. Embellishing or diminishing for a moment in time someones national pride.
I’ve never had so much as a close call to the Olympics themselves.
Back in 1983 I took a job representing teachers on Minnesota’s Iron Range, and early on I heard the story of the teacher-parent of one of the U.S. Hockey Players (remember “Miracle on Ice”, Lake Placid 1980) who had trouble getting personal leave time to watch his (or was it her) son play hockey for the U.S. against, ultimately, the Russians. Rules are Rules, you know. I wasn’t personally involved in the case, but it was still being talked about. I suspect the parents went to the games, with or without “leave”….
The Winter Games.
Then a few years later I used to attend conferences in Colorado Springs, and just down the road, on my walking route, was the famous Broadmoor Hotel, and on the grounds was one of the training facilities, I seem to think it was Figure Skating, but I might be wrong. Just now, I learned that Colorado Springs is where the U.S. Olympic Committee resides (see here).
And I must mention Salt Lake City, 2002. My brother has lived in Salt Lake City for years, and on visits since have seen some of the venues for that games.
The Olympics is a huge economic (business) enterprise.
Perhaps my closest call with the Olympics came when I was cleaning out the house of my reclusive brother-in-law, Mike, in the early 2000s, and found there a little box with about 40 snapshots, all taken in about 1972, about half of them at the Munich Olympic Games. At the time he was a GI in Germany, and went to the games as a spectator.
This was the games of the hostage masscre, perhaps the first games where the word “terror” became a part of the games narrative.
Mike’s photos are just snapshots, and they likely were taken in the early days of the games, before the hostage crisis dominated everything. But they are interesting to look at nonetheless.
(Click to enlarge)

At the Munich Olympics 1972

At the Munich Olympics 1972

Munich Olympics 1972

Munich Olympics 1972

Munich Olympics 1972.  Not sure if the young woman is an athlete or not.

Munich Olympics 1972. Not sure if the young woman is an athlete or not.

I suspect I’ll watch bits and pieces of the Winter Games this year, as each Olympiad. But they are not of compelling interest to me.
Hopefully there will not be any bigger news than what we’ve seen so far.
Congratulations to the Russians and best wishes for a good Games.
POSTNOTE: Shortly after writing this post, I was standing in a post office line and chatting with a lady about my age. Conversation got around to the Olympics, and pretty soon she said, “my kids wanted me to fly to Arizona for a bit to get away from the cold, but I said no, you never know what will happen”, with the obvious overtones that somebody might highjack or blow up the plane.
There was no reason to pursue this discussion: fear is a powerful thing. On the way home I wondered about the incidence of terror related incidents aboard planes. Obviously, there’s 9-11-01 over 12 years ago; and there was an attempted high-jacking in the Ukraine in the last 24 hours. But given the millions upon millions of passengers, and passenger miles, flown in a given year, the terror threat is so minimal as to be non-existent.
Still, tonights news, I’d bet, will emphasize the Ukraine attempted high-jack, and attach it to the Olympics at Sochi. It’s a pretty safe bet….
COMMENTS (note also the “responses” section at the end of this post for possibly other comments):
from John B:
Yes, the hype about the big Olympic “stars” gets over done. The chasm between the amateur and professional sports ( basketball, hockey) competitors and the truly amateurs (track events, biathlon) seems peculiar. Although I have watched Olympic coverage in the past, I have really enjoyed two things, the pageantry of the opening and closing ceremonies, and of course, rooting for the Norwegians and other Nordic athletes . . . . check out the cross country skiing.
from Lydia H: Very interesting, Dick!
I saw a bit of the snowboarding…pretty amazing actually…tho it’s the ice skating that I follow in Winter Olympics. (Don’t watch the big ceremony since it’s just too Vegas!)

#838 – Dick Bernard: Poverty. Seeing Reality, and Consequences of Ignoring that Reality.

The below, above the postnote, was written Tuesday, January 28, before the Presidents State of the Union.
The public relations battle around the State of the Union of the U.S., by far the richest country on earth*, will likely be around, in one way or another, America’s middle class, the haves and the have nots, the wealthy and the super-wealthy and the 99%…. The 1% always seem to seize what they consider the high ground. Where are the 99%, and why? That’s for side discussions.
1. Sunday, we took our 9th grade grandson over to Basilica of St. Mary to help with the preparation of the Undercroft (fancy word for Church Basement) for a program called Families Moving Forward, a partnership of a number of Churches who offer their facilities for a week to give overnight housing to temporarily homeless families. This particular week, there are four families who have taken up residence there, one with four children. These are families where someone is working for pay somewhere. At least one of the families has been told, since September, that they have an apartment, but the apartment owner keeps delaying their move-in, now five months later**.
It’s the “other side of town”, literally, from us. We’ve worked on occasion with this program. Our grandson was along because one of his class assignments was to volunteer for at least six hours at something. Sunday afternoon was a part of those six hours, setting up the undercroft.
(click on all photos to enlarge)

Tubs of sheets, pillows, et al, ready for set up.  They're kept at the Church for use every few weeks.  Volunteers do laundry at end of the week.

Tubs of sheets, pillows, et al, ready for set up. They’re kept at the Church for use every few weeks. Volunteers do laundry at end of the week.

A two bed room, probably for Mom and child.  Note the privacy walls.

A two bed room, probably for Mom and child. Note the privacy walls.

The "doorway" to the room

The “doorway” to the room

Even knowing the reality these families are living this week, and some have for many weeks, and even actually being there, setting up those rooms, the exercise is still an abstract one difficult for me to fully comprehend.
Even in the worst times – and I’ve had some – I’ve never been “homeless”. And now I’m fairly ordinary retired “Middle Class” and definitely not “poor”, though I had a couple of very close brushes with that state in my adult life.
A couple of hours after arriving, we left the Undercroft for a windy, chilly, Minneapolis. A number of homeless folks, adults, were in the entrance to the Basilica, warming up before going back out on the street. They’re likely out on the street today as well. I’m in comfy circumstances here at home writing about them, all of whom will be functionally “homeless” tonight in below zero weather.
2. Ten years ago, December, 2003, I was in Haiti for the first time. Haiti, then and now, is among the poorest countries on earth, less than two hours east of Miami, Florida.
One evening, our driver invited us to his home on a hillside overlooking prosperous Petion-ville. I took the below photo from the roof of his small cement block house on the side of the hill. His wife and young child were delightful hosts. The hill neighborhood was, I would guess, reasonably middle class by Haiti standards. I don’t know how his place fared in the earthquake in January, 2010. I do know the family survived.
Hillside homes above Petion-Ville (above Port-au-Prince) Haiti December, 2003.  Taken from the roof of one of the concrete block homes by Dick Bernard

Hillside homes above Petion-Ville (above Port-au-Prince) Haiti December, 2003. Taken from the roof of one of the concrete block homes by Dick Bernard

When I took the picture, my focus was on the neighborhood around our hosts house.
Today, I’m focused on the houses you can see at the very top of the hill, separated by walls and fences from those below. Your computer may allow you to zoom in on them.
Haiti has fabulously rich people too: they move comfortably between the U.S. and France and other places and back to Haiti. They’ve made their wealth in various legal ways, and they still make the rules. Haiti in that regard is not much different than the ideal United States as envisioned by the advocates for the worthy wealthy.
The very rich live within, but harshly separate from, the very poor nearby.
3. There is seldom attention to the downside of a huge gap between rich and poor. Sooner or later, as in Haiti, the rich become prisoners with in their own country, living behind walls with their own armed guards to remove any suggestion of the rabble invading. They cannot truly live free. I’ve seen the same in another third world country.
There are a lot of other consequences like, the poor cannot afford to buy the stuff that adds to the riches of the rich…. Poverty has consequences even for the rich.
It’s not a healthy state, and we’re moving in this direction, perhaps more quickly than we’d like to imagine.
We need some perspective, soon, and serious attention to closing this gap.
Polls now show that I’m not alone in my concern. Americans don’t mind wealth. They do mind an ever more greedy approach to personal wealth and power. We’ll see in November if they act on their attitudes.
* The United States as a country has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s wealth. Haiti, referred to in #3, below, has .142% of the world’s population, and .008% of the world’s wealth. (Data from Appendix 1 of Transforming the United Nations System by Dr. Joseph Schwartzberg, United Nations University Press, 2013, comparing Population and Gross National Income)
** Some years ago at the same Basilica Families Moving Forward, four of the guests were a family of four, husband, wife and two teenage daughters. The drama of the evening was the husband being criticized for causing the family to lose the chance at an apartment, where they failed to make an appointment. Listening to this, it turned out that the husband had two jobs and one car, and the apartment was difficult to reach, and they lost their chance at housing….

POSTNOTES Thursday, January 30:
This mornings Just Above Sunset, always very long, gives a most interesting perspective on the general issue of rich and poor. If you wish, here.
Tuesday afternoon, we took our grandson and his Mom to “Twelve Years a Slave“, the powerful film about a free Negro from Saratoga NY who was sold into slavery into 1841, was a slave until 1853, and lived to write and speak about the terrible experience.
It is not a comfortable film. Nonetheless, I strongly recommend it. Ryan, our grandson, who asked to go to it in the first place, pronounced it good as well.
For me, watching, the film made lots of connections already known, more clear. Plantation owners felt no shame whatsoever in their entitlement. They drew their support from the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament), the good old days, when Masters were men and women were subordinate and slaves were slaves, property.
We were born as a slave nation over 200 years ago, and we’re far from over it today.
But neither are we going back to where we were.
My class, “old white men” tend to vote to go back to the “good old days” – last presidential election I recall President Obama lost to Mitt Romney in this class getting only 40% of their vote.
But they didn’t prevail. And their numbers will continue to decrease, at an increasing rate.
This doesn’t prevent some of them to continue to be very bitter. I get some of the “forwards”, and even some personal invective once in awhile.
But the “times, they are a’changin’ ”

#827 – Dick Bernard: The 50th Anniversary of the "War on Poverty" Speech by Lyndon Johnson

It came as a surprise to learn that today is the 50th anniversary of the speech that brought the words “War on Poverty” into the national conversation.
A lot of the national chatter in the last day or two is summarized here.
Back then, in early January, 1964, I had no clue about the speech, nor a clue that we were entering the world of poverty, of bare survival even though, at the time, I was fully employed.
Ours is an easy story to tell.
January 8, 1964, was a Wednesday, I was a young school teacher, in my first year of employment as a teacher, in far northwestern Minnesota. My wife and I lived in a tiny upstairs apartment a block from the school. She, too, had been a teacher – all of two months in the fall of 1963 – until she had to resign due to a kidney problem which ultimately led to her death two years later.
The tipping point from “normal” to “poverty” for us came unexpectedly but inexorably, and we went from normal early career pennies to less than nothing between 1963 and 1965.
In February, 1982, I wrote a family history for our son on the occasion of his 18th birthday, and here is what I said when our downward economic drift began in January, 1964:
“Late at night on January 6, 1964, Barb began to hemorrhage, and I drove her to St. Michael hospital in Grand Forks [ND]. I remember that it was an awful night to drive – very foggy. And we were scared, with good reason. But we made the 75 mile trip OK. Little did we know that Barb would not come back to Hallock again until March 6, 1964, and then would be only home for a week before going back into the hospital from March 14 to April 1. (Most of the time in Grand Forks she was in the hospital. For about two weeks, from February 11-24, she lived in a motel room to save money. That had to be an awful existence for her, since I had to work in Hallock, 75 miles away.”
(Son Tom was born February 26, 1964…50 is looming….”)
From then on, till her death July 24, 1965, our lives were constantly on edge, from day to day, literally, and any time I hear or see someone taking shots at the undeserving “poor”, I think back to those two years when our priority had to be day-to-day survival, rather than watching the stock market, or considering whether or not to buy a new garage door…the kinds of things the reasonably prosperous can do in this country.
Back then, the first several months after her death I had to struggle with avoiding bankruptcy due to uninsured medical bills which then seemed immense (public welfare saved my financial life that fall), but in today’s terms were relatively small.
The next few days, perhaps, the ‘chattering class’ and politicians especially will be figuring out how to position on what the War meant, or should mean, or doesn’t mean….
But today the people in poverty will again be struggling to simply survive the next 24 hours, with no interest in the fine points of law and policy that can grip my attention…and yours.
A few days ago, I did a piece on “The Homeless Guy” and at the end included a link to the most profound talk I ever heard about the poor, given in early May, 1982, by Monsignor Jerome Boxleitner, then-Director of Twin Cities Catholic Charities.
His words, Mgsr Boxleitner 1982001, are worth real reflection on this cold day in January 2014, the 50th anniversary of a speech about the “War on Poverty”.
Once I’ve written something, I often ponder “missing pieces” that might go unsaid in what (hopefully) are relatively short musings.
In this one, I need to differentiate between normal poverty for people like myself, including young people just starting out; and the kind of poverty that afflicts people longer term.
In our case, back in 1963-65, I was employed as a teacher, without any insurance. We were both employed as teachers for only about a two week time period that first year, so for all intents and purposes, ours was a single income household.
Like many young people, then and now, we experienced less than ideal conditions, but with the prospect that down the road things would improve.
That is normal kind of poverty for the kind of people who have the luxury of reading this blog….
The crisis poverty, which preoccupied us from the Fall of 1963 till after Barbara’s death in 1965 is another thing entirely. There is no semblance of “control”. Anything unusual that happens, an unexpected cost connected with an automobile, a hospitalization without insurance, and on and on and on, creates an almost daily sense of hopelessness, rendering the victim incapable of doing so-called rational things, like looking at the bright side; or going out to look for a second job; or on and on.
The War on Poverty, then and now, is for people for whom daily life is a struggle, and will be a struggle for the long term, and is not easily insurmountable.