Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I find it interesting reading in the papers how Purdue discuss their drop in U.S. News and World Report rankings.

Happy Birthday! Be Blessed!

Happy Birthday to Brooke and my sister on their birthdays! A year and a day apart.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Notes from the CCDS Meeting

The CCDS meeting went wonderfully well this season. At this meeting, one of the two we have each year, there were a little over twenty people present from around the Midwest--Chicago, Kentucky, Indiana,etc. The first part of the meeting, Mildred gave a brilliant analysis and rundown of the healthcare crisis that is in Chicago now. She pointed out firstly that there are 45 million people in the U.S without health insurance and that the number is growing. She then pointed out that the Pharmaceutical companies and the Insurance companies wrote the legislation that now serves as our federal and most of our state laws concerning health care--which is the beginning of the bullshit beginning to stink. She said, making a very powerful and critical statement that what we must be about now is to fight to make the government recognize itself as a public service provider. Not a subsidiary of the corporate sector, not as a tool for imperialism, but as a public service provider. She then went on to very strongly emphasize and underscore the problem of privatization. The government is slowly closing down every public entity in the effort to privatize. She made an example of the fact that the Cook County police that once protected Cook hospitals were all laid off and replaced by a private security firm. She pointed out that the Chicago Hospital System was incorporated into the city municipal government in 1843 and that it is now the largest part of city government and the city has a $3 billion dollar budget. Charity Hospital in New Orleans has not been open since Hurricane Katrina. Also, George Bush proposes a 60.9% cut in the federal budget for Healthcare services over ten years.The Question to ask: Where is the money going? Whose pockets?

She informed us that the first free, public federally funded health clinic was founded in Mt. Bayou, Mississippi in 1963. She said that up until two days ago( that was two days ago this Saturday), Cook County had 26 clinics open and available to the public. Two days ago, ten of them were closed. She then informed us that the surrounding counties made it their practice to send their patients to Cook County Hospitals for treatment and care. My question to that was how did these people get there? Did they take the El? If you have a toothache or something , I suppose you just simply ride the El or the train til you get to Cook County. Now thats something to think about. Woodlawn Healthcare Clinic in the Chicago area was the only clinic that was destined for closure that avoided it because they have an active patient advisory board that sent thousands of signatures with a petition to the city of Chicago. She said the Bush administration could bear a heavy part of the blame for the crisis underhand, but a lot of it was due to mismanagement by the Chicago Hospital Administration and its board of Directors.

She emphasized that the current head's, Dr. Robert Simon's, politics were most unprogressive and served as a catalyst for a lot of what is going on in terms of health care in Chicago. One of his current campaigns and public pronouncements is his effort to make it where undocumented peoples cannot recieve treatment in Chicago Hospitals, including emergency rooms. She says that Dr. Simon and the powers that be that run Chicago Hospitals have cut funding for std, hepatitis, and TB testings in the Chicago Jail system, which is a large sector of Chicago Public Health and the direct results of this will be a rise in rates of HIV, TB, Hepatitis and other communicable diseases in the population at large(with released inmates spreading the communicable diseases when released). She said the Emergency Rooms all over the country are in trouble. They have an unfunded mandate to care for anyone that comes into a hospital for treatment, without regard to their ability to pay. On top of this, and complicating this, this unfunded mandate means that hospitals all over the country(this was a topic of conversation on NPR recently) have to only deal with medical issues, but also social issues as the homeless population uses this mandate to find shelter and food at public hospitals. Mildred asks where is the funding for public housing? For shelters? For Job programs? I think we can pause here to say that looking at these issues in American health care, isnt it wonderful and interesting that Cuba has a higher life expectancy than the U.S. and that many other nations depend on Cuba for their own healthcare systems? Cuba has some of the best doctors in the world....And where is the United States?

Along with this looming crisis has been a series of political firings of dozens of Doctors, nurses, and other staff who are speaking out against the policies of the Chicago Hospital Administration. This all spells out an ineffective and crumbling public healthcare system in Chicago. Interestingly enough Mildred and Ira pointed out that many rightwingers now even, want a socialized, free healthcare system. the makings of odd political bedfellows. Its a national crisis and its a Chicago crisis. Oh, what will we see coming out of Chicago?

The second half of the meeting I addressed student and youth activism and where I thought it was today. I detailed the history of my involvment in activism, starting at Huntingdon in Montgomery, my work with CDR, and here at Purdue and I gave some assessments of youth and the state activism amongst youth. Primarily, people, and young people in general are too comfortable( with their ipods, video games, and consumeristic values), and that at Purdue, there is a repressive environment which works to keep people(most people) effectively quiet. Alas, even those organizations represeted on campus that advocate progressive causes are stifled and inefficient. You have POWER, a Women's Rights and equality group that cannot use the word feminism and can't take a stance promoting abortion because it might be offensive. You have other groups that take up weekend causes(weekend causes for them, and not that they arent important), but who leave pertinent and important issues, especially local issues unadressed(such as the issue of racism at Purdue). There is a disconnect among what activists there are in terms of what activism truly means and the activity that occurs. Yes we definitely address global issues, and address them loudly, but you must also take care of local issues as well. Also, as a part of the repressiveness, you have students afraid to be associated with the word radical and who work really to make everything as pc and totally gendered neutral as possible, which of course stifles any movement. Howard Zinn is the one who said you can't be neutral on a moving train. After my presentation( it was supposed to be a student panel, with people from Purdue, Ball State, Bloomington, Earlham, Valparaiso, and other places invited, yet no one showed up to the meeting. There were two Purdue students present-not for the panel-but it was nice.

After my presentation, Ira gave some wonderful insight and brilliant commentary. Ira is a former member of SNCC. He said that we must figure out how to select targets to disrupt the empire. He said this was a very big and widely discussed deal in the sixties, but that it is no longer a topic of conversation amongst progressives. We are two generations removed from the Civil Rights movement and there is no longer a clear vision or understanding of movement, especially amongst the youth. Fred beautifully pointed out that Venezuela, Cuba, and Latin America as a whole are the models which we should look toward as inspiration. In twenty years time they have thrown off the shackles of capitalism and hegemony and all over Latin America Marxism is relevent. Ira also gave the brilliant and beautiful commentary that Oppression does not make revolution or revolutionaries-it is resistance that does. God I jumped for joy when he said that. Alice Walker's statement from Possessing the Secret of Joy found its way into my brain--that RESISTANCE IS THE SECRET OF JOY. Mildred also pointed out the importance of Mentors in the process. She pointed to her own, among them the most beautiful Harry Belafonte. Ira also made the great statement that Capitalism has a remarkable resiliency--and has adapted quite well to every new situation, but it cannot last very much longer at all. Other statements that were made and points that were brought up were Fred's assessment that all efforts should be made to bring progressive evangelicals into peace and justice movements. I think here it is most necessary and pertinent to point out that Jane Fonda is an evangelical. This was a great meeting. It always is. I am definitely rich for having the experience.
I want to go to Paris and sing in French and be Eartha Kitt or Nina Simone!
Today I thought about my cousin Wynetta. I also saw a picture of Audre Lorde. What beautiful things.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The CCDS meeting yesterday was wonderful. Mildred was brilliant and some very powerful and insightful things were said. I will write more about it later.