Monday, September 19, 2005

A Bold Question

After three days of hard labor at the homestead repairing a summer's worth of torn up sod, bulldozed garden beds and left-over mountains of clay, plywood, sawdust and assorted construction cast-offs - I planned a quiet Monday morning with my coffee, newspaper and the transcript from last Friday's White House press briefing. Bonus! Turns out it was a full line-up of Presidential goons and sycophants at the podium. Go ahead, read it for yourself, but here's my favorite excerpt from Claude Allen, Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, in response to this question: "The President said last night that one of the problems that has to be addressed is poverty that is steeped in racial discrimination. Where's the bold action that he said is going to be required to address that?" MR. ALLEN: Well, the bold action comes in both the proposals that the President has laid before us, in terms of education opportunity, in terms of home ownership. . . .we need only look at New Orleans and see that many of those who were impacted came out of public housing units where you don't have jobs, where you don't have business investing, where they don't have a choice in where their kids go to school. Additionally, the President's proposal calling for organizations, . . . such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, to reach into the region to sister and brother organizations to do that, . . . through a person-to-person contact, . . . to build those relationships that also go into helping to break down some of those barriers. . . . the biggest initiative I would say is, is what the President has spoken about for his tenure as President, and that is the ownership society, whether it be ownership in terms of housing, ownership in terms of your choice and where you want to educate your children, ownership in terms of opportunity for jobs. So, bold action to reverse the effects of generations of poverty and racial discrimination will fall on the shoulders of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and the magical granting of "ownership" over everything under the sun. Umm, excuse me, Mr. Allen, I have a follow-up question. The federal government is operating at a deficit due to heavy military spending, a recession and tax cuts for our wealthiest citizens. In addition, the rate of government borrowing is skyrocketing. The current administration has gutted our national economy and left it as vulnerable as a New Orleans levee. Is this the example of an "ownership society" that we should look to as a model for reversing poverty? Frankly, I'm more inclined to put my trust in the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. With a motto like, "Be Prepared," they seem downright brilliant in comparison.


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