Race Relations with Police worsening in U.S., AP votes it Top Story of 2014

The Secular Jurist

By Robert A. Vella

Relations between minority communities and local law enforcement are rapidly deteriorating across the U.S. in the wake of two grand jury decisions not to indict police officers for the killing of unarmed black men (Michael Brown, Eric Garner), and the subsequent murder of two NYPD cops.  The most prominent flashpoints have occurred in Ferguson, Missouri and now New York City, but worsening race relations are a national problem which has shaken America to its moral foundations.

At the heart of the matter is the dangerous increase in economic inequality that has plagued the U.S. and other western countries since the Great Recession.  As societies become more stratified and segregated along class and ethnic lines, civil unrest intensifies as a natural result.  This pits a stubborn – and predominantly white – administrative establishment against an angrily disaffected – and racially diverse – population with law enforcement…

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The American Welfare Myth: Who Gets It and Why (You’ll Be Surprised)


Courtesy of occupy.com

See video here

Here is a short documentary made by a professor at the University of California-Berkley about welfare and poverty. The idea for it came after the professor heard her students discussing welfare and government’s role in society. She was shocked to learn that these college-educated students, some of whom were on welfare themselves, harbored deep-seated, negative stereotypical attitudes and beliefs about welfare recipients. It was then that she realized that today’s young people have inherited the harsh Reagan-era ideology of how society should deal with the poor- mainly that welfare programs, like food stamps (now called SNAP), actually reinforce poverty by creating dependence on government assistance. After all, these programs are supposed to be temporary aid, so why should the poor get to live off them, right? Why can’t they just get up and work, right?

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Teacher Sends Hungry First Graders Home With Backpacks Full Of Food

Tanya’s comments: This is truly sharing the wealth. Despite what Conservatives say, is it really a bad thing?

Kindness Blog

Marvin Callahan, a first grade teacher at public school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has started a program to send backpacks full of food home with some of his students on the weekends after witnessing widespread hunger. Teacher Sends Hungry First Graders Home With Backpacks Full Of Food

When he started the job 21 years ago, he said he had no idea how many families were struggling to feed their children or keep a roof over their heads.

New Mexico has the highest rate of child hunger in the country, with nearly a third of children going to bed hungry, although the problem is widespread enough that three-quarters of the country’s teachers say students routinely show up to school hungry.

In response to the problem, Callahan and other members of the community send 37 children home with backpacks full of food each weekend: two breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners. As Carolyn Gregoire of the Huffington Post reports, “Retired teachers come in…

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The Right and the Very Wrong about Wall Street report on Income Inequality

The Secular Jurist

By Robert A. Vella

Since the 2008 financial crisis, which has hurt middle class prosperity so profoundly, Wall Street has been slowly coming to the conclusion that wealth and income inequality is retarding economic growth and recovery from the Great Recession.  Most objectively-minded economists not only realized this specific result years ago, but have been studying the macroeconomic phenomenon of aggregate demand for many decades.  Simply put, the larger economy suffers when the bulk of ordinary workers and consumers have reduced buying potential.

New analysis from the rating agency Standard & Poor’s is giving Wall Street further information on this serious problem:

Economic disparities appear to be reaching extremes that “need to be watched because they’re damaging to growth,” said Beth Ann Bovino, chief U.S. economist at S&P.

The rising concentration of income among the top 1 percent of earners has contributed to S&P’s cutting its growth estimates for…

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Expense of new Hepatitis C drug casts a bad light on U.S. Health Care system

Tanya’s Comment: The over-charging of life saving medications needs to stop.

The Secular Jurist

By Robert A. Vella

High demand means high prices.  That’s the system of capitalism which dominates our world today.  In theory, market competition rises in proportion to growing demand which exerts downward pressure on prices through innovation and increased efficiency.  However, reality often doesn’t match theory in the realm of economics especially in the U.S.  Enabled by the de facto practice of corporatism, business interests can monopolize markets, drive out the competition, and exploit consumers and workers.  In the health care industry, this leads to exorbitant costs that can limit or exclude vital medical services from whole groups of sick and injured people.

Such is the case now with a new and effective hepatitis C drug called Sovaldi.

From Reuters (March 21, 2014) – U.S. lawmakers want Gilead to explain Sovaldi’s hefty price:

(Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers have asked Gilead Sciences Inc to explain the $84,000 price…

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The Truth About the American Tax System

Photo courtesy of 401kcalculator.org

Photo courtesy of 401kcalculator.org


If you live in the US, you are bound to come across countless individuals who just can’t stop complaining about taxes. “We’re taxed too much,” they say. “They practically take my whole pay check!” they cry. “Why should I have to pay more taxes just because I make more?” they whine.

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren & Author Thomas Piketty Interview

Photo from the dailybeast.com

Photo from the dailybeast.com


Tonight in a video posted by MoveOn.org, Senator Elizabeth Warren and author Thomas Piketty were interviewed by  HuffingtonPost.com about social and political issues they’ve been speaking about and working on, such as income inequality and campaign contribution laws post-Citizens United/McCutcheon. They had some very interesting things to say, including their ideas for how to reform the many broken systems in America.

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Everyone Must Help

Quotes- MLK

It’s a shame that this still needs to be said, that we still need to tell people we’re all in this together.