Wrong Reasons, Right Move

H407437361_f0d7d4bfafelena Coming back on the grid for a day, you go through your email, answer the urgent calls, see what’s tweeting, hit the Facebook, and scan through the headlines in the New York Times and other papers to see what’s up.  The last is the least rewarding task sometimes.

An irresistible headline jumps up on an editorial:  “A Welfare Check and a Voting Card.”  That’s a verse in my song, so I jump to that.  Big mistake!

The good news is that the Obama Administration after delays dating virtually back to the passage of the National Voter Registration Action (NVRA) in 1993 is clearly issuing regulations to the states and making mandatory the so-called “motor voter” provisions that would require registration access and assistance for recipients of welfare and food stamps by government workers who work with these eligible families.  That indeed is cause for celebration by all who are committed to democracy, full participation of the poor in what I have called “maximum eligible participation,” and, frankly, just plain following the law.

The Times editorialist was both wrongheaded and mean-spirited.

In the second sentence comes the first backhanded slap:  “…but it could also reduce the impact of advocacy organizations whose role in registering voters caused such a furor in 2008.”   WTF?  Buddy, you want to reduce the impact of groups committed to full democratic participation by all Americans, then stand up with the Times for automatic registration or even better mandatory voting, don’t blame those of us committed to democracy for the fact that the government didn’t do what the law both allowed and required.  Jerk-ball!

But, it gets worse.  Later the editorialist offers this gem:  “But it is worth remembering that the recession has brought millions of new people to food stamp and other welfare offices in the last two years, many of whom may not be traditional Democrats. In addition, government offices are much more likely to provide reliable registrations than Acorn (sic ACORN) or other advocacy groups that were widely accused of fraudulent sign-ups in the last cycle. Welfare offices generally have extensive methods of verifying identities in order to provide benefits, and it is illegal to provide false records there.

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36000 USA Flu Deaths Every Year

Flu VaccineBoston             After discussing Citizen Wealth in Harvard Square at the Co-op, I found myself fascinated by a similar maximum eligible participation type of problem while talking to a friend who is a public health nurse with the City of Boston.  I asked her a casual question about how work was going and she replied, exasperatingly, that she was “sick of swine flu!”  She was sick of hearing about it, sick of dealing with it, and sick of doing what it took to meet the epidemic and push it down.  But, there was more to it than that.

            She was sick of people acting like flu, even a front page flu like H1N1, was a new problem.  Didn’t I realize that regular, ordinary flu already killed nearly 40,000 US citizens alone?  Being a health professional she quickly lowered the figure from what had grabbed me down to 36,000 which is the Center for Disease Control (CDC) number of deaths from common flu.  Of course, she added, “these are mostly old people, so no one seems to care.”  Hmmm…I checked that as well, and the CDC estimates that 90% of these deaths are citizens over 65, which isn’t really all that old, is it?

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