Friday, December 31, 2010

Beyond Elections Part 13

As we end the year it is great to look at what we call "Democracy" and go beyond what we have in the US. Getting more turnout is one part.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Two Rhode Island Legislators Want December Run-Offs When No One gets 50% in November

Two Rhode Island legislators say they will introduce a proposed state constitutional amendment in 2011, providing that when no one in a November election for federal or state office gets as much as 50% of the total vote, the state will hold a run-off in December. See this story.

One wonders if the two legislators are aware of alternate election systems that would solve the problem they perceive, without adding to the expense and probable poor voter turnout in their proposed December run-offs.

The article mentions that the Attorney General’s race last month is an example of a race in which no one got 50% in November. In that race, the vote was: Democartic 43.1%; Republican 29.0%; Moderate Party 14.4%; two independent candidates, one of whom polled 9.6% and the other 4.0%.

* * *
It is possible that Instant Runoff Voting could be a cheaper answer!

Beyond Elections Part 12

If you appreciate the irony of anti-democratic individuals and institutions attacking democratic practices then this is a good section to watch...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Beyond Elections Part 10

One of the most important components if we are to have real democracy - Social Movements!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

College, Jobs and Inequality NYT

Education is important and vital, but not sufficient. We need to promote education AND promote policies which support our way of life where people have fair opportunities, and fair opportunities for participation. Just like there is more to democracy than elections, there is more to economic opportunities than a degree.

From the NYT article College, Jobs and Inequality

College is still the path to higher-paying professions. But without a concerted effort to develop new industries, the weakened economy will be hard pressed to create enough better-paid positions to absorb all graduates.

And to combat inequality, the drive for more college and more jobs must coincide with efforts to preserve and improve the policies, programs and institutions that have fostered shared prosperity and broad opportunity — Social Security, Medicare, public schools, progressive taxation, unions, affirmative action, regulation of financial markets and enforcement of labor laws.

Beyond Elections Part 6

This section starts by talking about reducing hierarchy and increasing participation. We often wonder why there is such low voter turnout in the US, it seems obvious that our "winner-take-all" electoral system along with the representative nature of politics does not inspire people to participate. People want more power and control over their lives. Decades of using the term "democracy" has raised expectations. And rightfully so!

The discussion about the difference between an elected representative and a spokesperson is a stretch for many of us, but something to consider deeply. The discussion about taking and internalizing and doing the work for democracy is important as well. We have become so accustomed to voting and waiting for the next election that all of this seems odd. But real democracy will be really challenging work.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Beyond Elections Part 5

This section goes into the communal councils created in Venezuela. While there was some organic development of this process, it really took off with an official change in electoral power. This is another example of where elections and grassroots can work together to create real community power.

In the sections on communal councils there is some discussion of the improvement over their old neighborhood association structure. This may be of value for people doing work on this level in the US. Neighborhood associations are important but often not inclusive or engaging. There is definitely work to be done on that front.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Georgia Prisoners Continue Strike for Second Day

Georgia prisoners continue their strike. The strike is for basic rights in a state that does not pay for prison labor. It is important to note that prisoners of various backgrounds are working in solidarity within a system that uses racism to keep people divided.

And ironically the Georgia prison system chose to respond to a work stoppage by locking down the prison. When the imprisoned do not work they need to stay in their cells anyway. This seems like a cheap tactic for the benefit of the corporate media.

The prison system is showing its true colors by cutting out hot water and turning off the heat, even though the temperatures are in their 30s. According to Common Dreams, "Prisoners are demanding, in their own words, decent living conditions, adequate medical care and nutrition, educational and self-improvement opportunities, just parole decisions, just parole decisions, an end to cruel and unusual punishments, and better access to their families."

The Georgia Green Party is urging negotiations in order to resolve the situation. More solidarity is necessary to put pressure on the Georgia incarceration system.

Overview of State Legislative Elections from BAN

From Ballot Access News:

Tim Storey has this comprehensive summary of the results of state legislative elections, including a map that shows which major party controls each state’s legislature. Unfortunately, the article does not mention that independents or minor party members were elected to state legislatures in ten states this year.


This article like many avoid dealing with the anti-democratic nature of the "winner take all" electoral system which limits choices for voters which is a huge part of the low voter turnout. And given that more and more people are feeling that the two parties are serving the rich at the cost of the working people of the United States, more are proposing a progressive split from the Dems.

It will be tough for any changes in power without structural changes in the electoral system. The question is how do we achieve those types of changes. We need either a major uprising of the population or truly pro-democratic, and inclusive elected officials to be a large enough group to make the changes. Until then we need to find cracks in the systems we interact with to practice real democracy that includes the excluded.

Beyond Elections Part 4

Friday, December 10, 2010

Beyond Elections Part 3

This video is inspiring. What is most amazing is that some of the most "progressive" voices in the US do not ever discuss opening up democracy. Instead they usually talk about multiple parties acting as "spoilers." If they were truly progressive and truly democratic they would work toward widening and deepening our democratic foundations.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Georgia Prisoners on Strike

Georgia prisoners are on strike. In an incredibly historic action, black, brown and white prisoners in the dreadful prison system of the state of Georgia have gone on a one day strike.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Breaking Ground

A group worked to create urban gardening guidelines for the International District in Burque.

Beyond Elections Part 2

It is amazing that they share this!

If only the supposedly "progressive politicians" would get us to this type of democracy. It is obvious that electoral representation only is not enough!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Stop Tax Giveaways!

Those elected to represent the people are choosing to represent the rich. Extending the tax giveaways to the millionaires and billionaires while hundreds of thousands of families are losing their unemployment benefits during the winter is nothing short than criminal. Unfortunately it seems that the 98% of working people really don't matter.

Hopefully unemployment benefits will be raised for at least as long as the tax giveaways are!

The fact that "middle-class" is already being defined as $60,000 a year and above should let most of us know what we do not talk about most of the time. Many of us are working-class. Working people, working families, working-class. It is time that everyone has a fair chance to support their families. One way to make that happen is to stop redistributing wealth from working people to the rich!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Albuquerque Youth Health Summit 12/4/10

The Albuquerque Youth Building Health Communities project held their Youth Health Summit today. Representatives of La Raza Unida, Young Women United, SWOP and other groups were there to discuss health from a youth perspective and also talk about solutions.

The group will continue to process the information and look for a project to follow through on. It was very exciting to discuss health from a social justice perspective. These youth may truly be the future!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Project HEALTH

We can support innovative models like Project HEALTH, which empowers doctors to remove the social barriers that prevent people from taking the actions they need to be healthy. They literally write prescriptions for food or heating assistance for struggling families, or stable housing for a single mom that does not exacerbate her son's asthma. A dedicated team of college volunteers then helps connect vulnerable patients to local resources that can immediately benefit their health.

We can apply new public health tools at our disposal to see the potential health benefits and consequences of new projects and policies. If Denver decided to expand its light rail system, for example, it would make sense to conduct a health impact assessment, an analysis that would consider questions like, "Will people walk more in getting to and from the rail stop?" This happened in Charlotte, N.C., where people who began to regularly ride the rails lost, on average, six to seven pounds.


We need a fundamental change in how we think about health. A nationwide commitment in which each sector - transportation, business , education, housing - assesses the health effects of their plans and programs and creates ways to help people live healthier lives. The community development arm of the Federal Reserve Board is doing just that; its July conference focused squarely on the health implications of housing development.

Read more about Project HEALTH here and here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dr. Raphael - How Inequality Makes us Sick

"Why should inequality, perhaps the biggest factor affecting the health of populations,
be so bad for us? In a big gap society, those lower down the ladder experience more
chronic stress than those towards the top. We are beginning to understand how this stress
produces ill health, in large part mediated through hormones released by the adrenal

Inequality concepts relate to the quality of social and human relations produced by the
structure of society which in our era are largely determined by measures of hierarchy. We
tend to associate with people like ourselves, most of us do not have friends who are either
much richer or much poorer than we are. As a young boy, growing up in the 1950s in East
York, a part of Toronto, I lived in a working class neighbourhood and did not consider
myself disadvantaged. My father repaired shoes, and my friends’ parents were similar
workers. When I went to the University of Toronto, I became aware of hierarchy in
Canada, as my classmates came from more privileged backgrounds than mine. I began
to feel poor. Today with lifestyles of the rich and famous always in the media we don‘t
compare ourselves to just our friends anymore but to the many achievers and the wealthy
who are constantly in our face. Finding ourselves down the ladder, our sense of self-worth,
our ability to control our lives and our access to what is considered essential for health,
suffers. Not only do we not do as well, but society’s health suffers.

Modern societies, unless held in check, tend to share income and wealth unfairly.


The kinds of positive societal changes that will produce health improvements will only
come from popular pressure on the forces of wealth and power. Canadians must continue
to maintain and strengthen their unique society, one that values cultural diversity and social
justice. Many prescriptions for dealing with health problems are outlined herein, but none
of them will be given to you by your doctor. We are all affected by this dis-ease, and must
work together to take this remedy through the democratic process."

Read the entire report - Social Justice Is Good For Our Hearts

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Iceland to Democratically Review Constitution

Iceland will have elected members of its society to review and upgrade its Constitution. This is the only time any country has used this direct democracy approach to its constitution. It will be an interesting example for the world.

RIP David Nolan - Multi-Party Democracy Advocate

The November 23 edition of the New York Times has a lengthy and respectful obituary for David Nolan. The obituary is also notable for seeming to suggest that minor parties have an important influence on the free circulation of ideas, even when they are not numerically strong.

The Washington Post obituary also has some of the characteristics of the Times obituary.

From Ballot Access News

Invisibility of Poverty in Diabetes Research

Chaufan and Weitz write an important article pointing out that poverty as a cause of disease is ignored in academic research. They also point out that there is at least a 200 year tradition showing this to be the case. Poverty is ignored because it would make academics and others have to deal with how we benefit from the power dynamics that create poverty.

Dealing with these dynamics would require academics and public health workers have to face their role in the maintenance of poverty and disenfranchisement. Or, in an attempt to appear more academic researches focus on individual cause and effects which can be easily manipulated in a manageable experiment. Either way this leads to what the authors state as "business as usual."

They also point out that working for changes is one possible option. They suggest that living wages, affordable housing, and health care as a right will have greater impact than attempting to change individual behaviors. They also suggest that researchers look at the role of poverty as a cause of disease and propose structural changes to society that make the population healthier.

Some of these health improving changes are electoral, others are economic. Either way, it is important to begin to look at poverty as a structure which makes people sick. Then we can look at politics as one of many methods to make people healthier!

Register! Vote! Organize Raza Unida!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

"In first-past-the-post, the electorate is divided into a number of districts, each of which selects one person to fill one seat by a plurality of the vote. First-past-the-post is not conducive to a proliferation of parties, and naturally gravitates toward a two-party system, in which only two parties have a real chance of electing their candidates to office. This gravitation is known as Duverger's law. Proportional representation, on the other hand, does not have this tendency, and allows multiple major parties to arise.

A two-party system requires voters to align themselves in large blocs, sometimes so large that they cannot agree on any overarching principles. Along this line of thought, some theories argue that this allows centrists to gain control. On the other hand, if there are multiple major parties, each with less than a majority of the vote, the parties are strongly motivated to work together to form working governments. This also promotes centrism, as well as promoting coalition-building skills while discouraging polarization." From wikipedia Multi-Party System article.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

41st and 17th Anniversaries

La Raza Unida Party will have its 41st anniversary on January 17th. That has transformed largely to el Partido Nacional de La Raza Unida. That organization is a directly descended organization of the original LRUP. The chairpersons have been from Texas, New Mexico, and California.

The Bernalillo County La Raza Unida (LRU) started on August 29, 1993 in the County's South Valley. The La Raza Unida Youth Committee was a major focus of that initial effort. The voter registration part of that effort follows under el Partido de La Raza Unida de Nuevo Mexíco. The Bernalillo County La Raza Unida (LRU) is working to build a strong voice for electoral, social, and economic justice by combining community, cultural and electoral work.

The South Valley Dia de Los Muertos Marigold Parade is one aspect of this. The voter registration aspect is another.

Register! Vote! Organize Raza Unida!

Monday, November 22, 2010

US Desires Third Party

"Given the lack of alternatives, it perhaps is no surprise that Americans' desires for a third party are as high as they've been in at least the last seven years. And while the formation of an official third party is not imminent, that desire may be manifested in voters' strong anti-incumbent sentiments this year."

While there are significant barriers to third party development put in place by corporate sponsored parties this desire cannot be denied forever. A multi-party democracy would have better voter turnout, be more representative, and would reduce much of the useless deadlock of our current system. You can register La Raza Unida by putting "LRU" in box 5 of your NM Voter Registration Form.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ricardo Flores Magón - 2010

88 years ago Ricardo Flores Magón died in Ft. Leavenworth prison. He never broke from his ideals and paid the ultimate price. Someone that truly fought for freedom and liberty for all!

The roots of many movements and organizations pass through the Partido Liberal Mexicano and the Magonistas. As their saying that was used by Zapatistas went ¡TIERRA Y LIBERTAD!

¡Recuerda Ricardo Flores Magón!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Feliz Dia de La Revolucion - 2010

100 years ago, Mexicanos stood up to fight tyranny and corruption! Let us hope we can live up to such high ideals in our own ways! Viva La Revolución!

Register! Vote! Organize Raza Unida!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Health Equity in the United States

On average, people in the United States die much younger and suffer worse health, as well as endure serious societal dysfunction, compared to people in other rich nations. The usual explanation is that we engage in too many adverse personal health behaviours and do not have access to the right medicines. Presenting the evidence that personal behaviours affect only a small fraction of our health status as a population leads to 'but....' responses. The idea that health care has limited impact on mortality measures in societies is not believable to most people, regardless of their level of education or even their experience or training in health care.

Read More on Health Equity in the United States

Thursday, November 18, 2010

If You Are Hungy Are You Free?

That's the interesting question asked on the Thom Hartmann community blog. While we talk about people having television and cell phones as measures of the quality of life we often leave out other important issues such as nourishment.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More on Keeping the Net Free

Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps spoke to hundreds of supporters about the need for net neutrality Tuesday evening at the Albuquerque Journal Theater at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

Net neutrality is the principle that all content on the internet should be treated equally, and that internet service providers cannot discriminate between different types of content.

"When broadcast came about the corporation said 'trust us.' When previous FCC commissions removed limits on media consolidation we were told 'trust us.' With this new medium they are saying 'trust us,'" Copps said.

Andrea Quijada, the Executive Director of the Media Literacy Project, served as the MC for the evening. She shared how an open internet is needed for the most basic of services.

"With 30 of our 33 counties being medically underserved, we know that the internet is not just about civic participation," Quijada said. "With a state poverty rate at 19 percent we know that the internet is not just about access."

Read More

New Mexico Fighting to Keep Internet Open

Residents in and around Albuquerque, N.M., will gathered yesterday for a town hall meeting to discuss the future of broadband Internet legislation. The meeting, the second such event in less than six months, comes at a difficult time in the battle over how open the Internet will remain. The FCC has largely gone silent on the issue, and prospects for regulatory legislation in next year’s Congress now appear dim.

North Carolina uses Instant Runoff Voting (IRV)

This fall North Carolina held the first statewide general election with instant runoff voting (IRV) in the nation’s history to fill federal judge Jim Wynn’s vacancy in on the Court of Appeals. Three Superior Court vacancies were also filled with instant runoff voting. The statewide vacancy election drew 13 candidates; the three Superior Court races each drew three candidates.

Before 2006, such judicial vacancies created between the primary and Labor Day of an election year were filled with a single election by plurality voting. With that system, voters cast one vote, and the candidate with the most votes won, no matter how low his or her percentage of the total vote. In 2004, a statewide vacancy to the North Carolina Supreme Court was won with 23%. IRV requires winners to demonstrate more support if they do no win a majority of first choice rankings. (See

From what we know of these IRV elections, voters seemed to have handled instant runoff voting well, which is a credit to state and local elections officials. Anecdotal reports from election officials have been positive. For instance, Carteret County Board of Elections director Lindy Lewis said yesterday toward the end of Election Day: “"We haven't had a phone call from a precinct official or voter (regarding the instant runoff) which makes me feel good about that.”

Read More

Monday, November 15, 2010

Speak Your Vote NM

This is an important project that promotes youth voter participation. Speak Your Vote NM is an excellent example of youth media that promotes youth empowerment.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Same Day Voter Registration Would Reduce Polling Problems

Our Bernalillo County Clerk thinks that Same Day Voter Registration would reduce problems at the polls.

While this example relates to UNM students. The issues apply to other situations as well. And many experts agree that Same Day Voter Registration would increase voter turnout. More voter turnout is very important.

Now, it doesn't seem she is wanting it to be done as Election Day Registration. It seems she wants is as a support for early voting. That might still be helpful.

She said, "Additionally, I have lobbied extensively for same-day registration (SDR). If implemented in New Mexico, SDR, as it has been proposed and supported by me and the New Mexico County Clerks’ Affiliate, would allow voters to register and vote at the same time during the early voting period."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Voter Fraud Hysteria

Former House majority leader Dick Armey, who now heads the tea party funder Freedom Works, recently said on Fox News, without any substantiation, that Democratic voting was up during early voting — because that’s when it’s easier to commit voter fraud.

Yet law enforcement statistics, reports from elections officials and widespread research have proved that voter fraud at the polling place is virtually non-existent. The motivation for ginning up this bogeyman is often to intimidate certain groups of voters and, ultimately, make it harder for minority or disadvantaged groups to exercise their right to vote. It is no accident that these operations have repeatedly focused on minority communities.

Read more:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One Step Voting

Voter registration practices also limited the pool of voters. Over American history, requirements for voter registration have included residency, property or income, gender and race or ethnicity. The exact set of requirements varied by location, with different political parties trying to disqualify the constituents of their opponents from the right to vote. The imposition of voter registration requirements, and the other election reforms enacted at the beginning of the 20th Century, had dramatic effects on voter participation. Hansen (2001) reports that turnout declined in the South from 64.2% in 1888 to 29.0% in 1904. Outside the South, turnout fell from 86.2% in 1888 to 67.7% in 1912. Clearly the imposition of voter registration requirements imposed an important new hurdle on voter participation in the United States.

The hurdle of voter registration stands higher for certain groups of voters. The seminal work by Rosenstone and Wolfinger (1980), using the 1972 Current Population Survey’s Voter Supplement (CPS-VS), demonstrated that voter registration practices --- in particular practices like the extent to which election offices were open in evenings and during weekends, absentee voting, and the length of the pre-election closing period, all had some effect on voter turnout because they made it more difficult and costly for voters to participate. But the registration closing deadline had by far the greatest impact on turnout in the Rosenstone and Wolfinger study; residents of states with 30-day closing deadlines were anywhere from 3 to 9 percent less likely to turnout than residents of states with election day voter registration. And the impact of the registration closing deadline was greater for voters with lower levels of educational attainment, and those who were generally less able to navigate the voter registration process in their state.


In this paper we review the literature on the linkage between voter registration and turnout, with a particular emphasis on how election day registration works and how it impacts voter turnout. We then present our analysis of the 2000 CPS-VS, in which we estimate the potential national impact of election day registration in the United States. Using a novel counterfactual analysis, we examine not only the question about how much voter registration and turnout would increase if every state used election day registration, we also estimate the impact of this change on the composition of the American electorate. We find that the very groups who would be expected to find election day registration an easier process, those who are younger, more residentially mobile, lower on the socioeconomic ladder, nonwhite, and newly naturalized citizens of the US, would benefit in important ways from election day registration.

Read more on One Step Voting from the Voting Technology Project

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

From an Ally 11/9/10

RE: Election Day Registration (aka Same Day Voter Registration)

It was defeated in the NM Legislature last session. And it would have been only during early voting, where you would be connected to the voter registration computers.
The League of Women Voters is in favor of it. They are also against requiring more voter ID. Having a Republican Sec. of State and Gov. will make this worse, too.

Michelle Meaders

Youth Food Action Project

This youth oriented project is important because access to healthy food has been interrupted by corporate food production. In order to build healthy communities we all need access to quality calories. Many of us only have empty calories or calories without nutrition because of our budgets. Check this project out - the Youth Food Action Project.

Everyone deserves the opportunity to access healthy food. With the growth of corporate, mass-produced food we will need to gain the skills to grow our own. We have a couple of members who are great growers and we will report on their home food production.

Election Day Registration

Election Day Registration or Same Day Voter Registration would be a great way to improve our turnout and registration levels.

There are several bills being worked on for this. Vermont's S124 is one example.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Obama introduced Instant Runoff Voting legislation in 2002

As a state Senator in Illinois during the 2002 session, Barack Obama introduced SB 1789 which would have adopted instant runoff voting (IRV) for congressional and state primary elections in Illinois and authorized IRV for local elections.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Instant Runoff Voting would eliminate the "Spoiler Effect"

Instant Runoff Voting would eliminate the "Spoiler Effect" and provide real choice for voters!

In several races this past Tuesday the two-party system (duopoly) worked to give voters a minority view. If the vote is split between two similar candidates who have more than 50% and someone with less than 50% wins because of it then the duopoly system works against democracy and does not represent voter choice!

IRV would eliminate wasted votes, increase voter turnout, and increase voter choice!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Vermont Governor Supports Instant Runoff Voting

The new Vermont Governor supports Instant Runoff Voting (IRV).

Peter Shumlin will be the next Governor of Vermont. See this story. While he was a state legislator, he was a co-sponsor of the bill to establish Instant Runoff Voting for congressional races (S.108 in 2007), a bill that passed, but which was vetoed by then-Governor Jim Douglas. The new Vermont Secretary of State has also been a supporter of IRV.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Don't despair! It is time to declare: TIME TO TAKE DEMOCRACY BACK!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Our way of life is one where all children are all our children; where we want everyone to have enough; and where we are willing to take a stand for each other. Vote, organize, and live THOSE values and we'll be better off!

We need to outvote the extremists! Go vote today!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Another Reason to Register and Vote - LRU!

Register La Raza Unida by writing in "LRU" in box 5 of your New Mexico Voter registration form! But not until after the election!!!

Fight Voter Suppression - VOTE!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Social Justice is Good for Our Hearts

Latest estimates are that 23% of premature years of life lost prior to age 75 in Canada
can be attributed to income differences. That is, 23% of all of the premature years of life
lost to Canadians is accounted for by the differences that exists among wealthy, middleincome,
and low income Canadians. The disease most related to income differences is
cardiovascular disease. Twenty-two percent of all years lost that can be attributed to
income differences are caused by cardiovascular disease.

In addition, it is estimated that income differences account for a 24% excess in
premature deaths prior to 75 years from cardiovascular disease among Canadians. Were
all Canadians’ rates of death from cardiovascular disease equal to those living in the
wealthiest quintile of neighbourhoods, there would be 6,366 fewer deaths each year from
cardiovascular disease. An estimate of the annual costs to Canada of these incomerelated
cardiovascular disease effects is $4 billion.

This report outlines the role that income and its distribution play in the incidence of
cardiovascular disease. There is particular focus on how living on low income -- combined
with government policies that limit access to basic needs and resources required for health
-- contributes to the process of social exclusion by which individuals are denied full
participation in Canadian life. This exploration of the role of income on cardiovascular
health is particularly timely as the distribution of income is becoming less equitable in

Societal changes that increase the numbers of Canadians living on low incomes and
foster social exclusion are considered in relation to what is known about the societal
determinants of cardiovascular disease. Means are presented for addressing these issues
in order to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease in Canada. These include
recommendations for reducing the number of Canadians living on low incomes, reducing
the social exclusion of citizens from participation in Canadian society, and ways by which
the social safety nets that support population health can be restored.

Side effects of a lifestyle emphasis are discussed as are reasons for resistance to
thinking in new ways about the causes and means of preventing cardiovascular disease.
Finally, community activities that will support heart health that are consistent with the best
principles of health promotion are presented.

From - Social Justice is Good for Our Hearts

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


There is a lot today around Indigenous Heritage. Please feel free to post what you know indigenous people have contributed to the world.

We are looking at expanding our web presence. I'm thinking that the LRU website may use the css Zen Garden approach and using different style sheets for different days and seasons.

There is also 3 weeks left for election time!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Gap Between Rich and Poor is at its WIDEST

From Census: Gap Between Rich and Poor is at its Widest:


The income gap between rich and poor Americans grew to the widest amount on record and represents the greatest disparity among Western industrialized nations, according to U.S. Census data.

The census finds that the top-earning 20% of Americans (those making $100,000 each year) received 49.4% of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4% earned by those below the poverty line.

That ratio of 14.5-to-1 was an increase from 13.6 in 2008 and nearly double a low of 7.69 in 1968, the Associated Press reports.

# # #
A clear goal would be to get back to 7-to-1!

If we've done it before we can do it again. It is disappointing for the US to have the greatest disparity among industrialized countries. We should expect better.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

American Dream?

There are many ideas about how the United States is doing. One important sample is the idea of the "American Dream." Apparently it is on the decline. Many people have felt that they never had a real chance at the American Dream - now others are catching up to that unfortunate reality.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

40th Anniversary of August 29th

At least 1,000 Chicanas, Chicanos, and other gente came out for this historic commemoration!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Personal Responsibility and Health

"People have a personal responsibility to take care of themselves and their health. But it isn’t right when things outside our control—like where we’re born or how much money we make—affect our health. In the entire city of Detroit—an area of nearly 150 square miles—there are dozens of “convenience stores” but only five grocery stores. An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but you have to be able to buy an apple. And it isn’t easy to get exercise if you have to work three jobs just to get by, or if you can’t easily get affordable day care for your kids. We’re not just talking about the rich versus the poor. On Average, middle class Americans live shorter lives than those who are wealthy, and that’s not right. Money can’t buy happiness, and it shouldn’t buy health. We have to take responsibility for our lives and decisions. But all Americans should have an equal opportunity to make the decisions that allow them to live a long, healthy life, regardless of their level of income, education, or ethnicity."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Social Justice is Good for Our Hearts

In many ways social justice is good for our hearts. What is great is having some science to support what many people know. That being treated poorly creates poor health. Whether it is the greedy concentration of resources in the hands of a few, or the exclusion of sexism, racism, classism, etc.

So read Social Justice is Good for Our Hearts and give some feedback!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Healthy Urban Planning

As New Mexico becomes more urbanized it will have to meet the challenge of growing while still supporting traditional communities. Part of this will be to keep from using up all of the water for cities. While there is plenty of space for growth - there is not enough water for all the growth some want.

Taking this water away from rural communities will reduce the health of those communities and also eliminating part of the economic base. Thus forcing people to the cities - or usually Albuquerque. Reducing the space and water use of Albuquerque is a key for many other things. Maybe the Portland 20 Minute Neighborhood is a good model. What do you think?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Economic Impact of Racial Inequalities

Because we can't just seem to do things because they are the right things to do we need to add economic analysis. Racism costs - go figure!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Too bad

The Albuquerque City Council passed an opportunity to minimize relations with Arizona.

We'll see what it does with the Mayor's proposal to get police more involved with immigration work. There sure is a great deal of work to be done.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Immigration Reform 5/12/10

If we want real comprehensive immigration reform we'd have to deal with:

Repealing NAFTA;

Closing down employers who hire people illegally;

Promoting that other countries enforce strong labor standards and protections;

Deal with universal medical and social services;

Eliminate exemptions for minimum wage in farm work and domestic services;

Ensure a living wage;

Create a rational pathway for citizenship;

and deal with racism in a very real way as a country!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Social Hierarchy of Health

Quotes from an article on Social Hierarchy of Health.

The disease and suffering of disadvantaged people in all countries are a result of the way we organise our societies.

A physician faced with a suffering patient has an obligation to make things better. If a society is making people sick, we have a moral obligation to improve public health and to reduce health inequalities as a matter of social justice.

The social gradient in mortality is a broader issue than that of poverty and health. A study by Marmot of government workers in Whitehall, London, found that while everyone had access to clean water, sanitation, abundant food, and shelter, the risk of dying was related to where they stood in the social hierarchy. In England, the life expectancy gap between men living in rich and poor areas is 11 years and the gap is even bigger in the United States of America between whites and blacks in the same geographical region.

There is a clear relation between a country's affluence and the life expectancy of its population, up to a per capita income of about $5,000. Beyond this, factors like social environment have a greater influence. The excess mortality among the poor in a rich country like the USA is from non-communicable disease and violent deaths.

Power, then, is the key. Control, autonomy, and freedoms might sound like psychological properties of the individual. Power relations in society, as they operate through social institutions and the opportunities afforded to those in relatively disadvantaged positions, are the social causes of degrees of empowerment. Freedom does not imply privileging the rights of some individuals at the expense of the well-being of others. Human rights can be taken as implying an obligation on society to do what is necessary to bring about the important freedoms for everyone.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

World Health Day 2010

In New Mexico we often view the state as a rural place. In truth, much of it is. But it is fairly safe to say that about half of the state population now lives in an urban environment. This is challenging because of the traditional New Mexican cultures are tied to land.

The work of maintaining and supporting traditional land uses and healthy urban development in balance will require vision, leadership, and dedication. Urban health is best approached by dealing with a regional perspective rather than a city only view. Food, water, clean air, housing, jobs, and so much more really benefit from the regional coordination.

Today is World Health Day, and the focus is urbanization. So even if you only have a few minutes reflect on our cities and health. Cities are great for bringing lots of interesting things together. They are also places for the development of great inequities. Take a minute and think about what you can do to improve your local environment or social conditions.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Shifting the Center

Thanks to Norman Goldman who gave a great metaphor relating the political spectrum to a football field. He stated that the US is on the right side from the goal line to the 25 yard line, with Obama on about the 20. He put Europe on about the 50 yard line, and pure communism/socialism on the left goal line.

Shifting the Center:

As we have seen throughout US history, much of the mainstream political discussion is guided to the right. From the original version of US politics with white, land-owners being the only ones allowed to vote to current neo-con and neo-liberal politics – the propertied class (owning or corporate class today) fights for its interests only. Democracy, common wealth, and liberty are tossed aside for a lecherous form of capitalism.

In a “first past the post” or “winner take all” political system the competing political parties need a simple majority to win. And this system tends toward to major parties and some minor parties. In pursuit of the magic 51% parties need to be broad enough and end up fighting for “the middle.” In our case corporate propaganda has helped to push this to the right and marginalize any real “left” ideas and politics. As Norman Goldman points out – even Obama, who is declared a socialist by the fascists is really much nearer the capitalist and corporatist side of politics.

Normally, “progressive” (which sounds very middle of the road in this context), “left,” and “radical” parties have gone after the Democrats in an attempt to show that they really do not have the interests of the working-class, environment, or social justice in mind. In a two party system additional candidates tend to take votes that may have gone toward one of the two primary candidates or energize voters who feel they are not represented by either of those candidates. In the US the additional voters are usually not counted because that would take too much mental energy on behalf of those reporting on politics and it would be an inconvenient fact to deal with.

In general left-of-Democrat* candidates are blamed for losses, sometimes correctly, of Democratic candidates. Often the Democratic candidates were the target as much as the actual seat of power. This leads towards a backlash against third parties. And for the most part it has been the Democratic party who has, in very anti-democratic ways, tightened up ballot access, and other electoral laws that make it difficult for people and parties to get on the ballot unless they belong to one of the corporate-sponsored parties. So much for being “democratic.”

If the left-of-Democrat parties began to target uncontested Republicans that would shift the center. The US is uncommon for having ZERO left elected officials at the federal level. (The rest of the world doesn't see the Democratic party as a “left” party.) So even one at this level would act as an anchor to the other side of the spectrum. If the Republican party becomes weaker in terms of representation then the center would shift to the other side of the Democratic party.

Of course that change at the federal level will not happen quickly. But if you look at US history, there have been local and regional parties that have had influence on the national scene. The best example is the 1912 elections.

More than likely it will be a long road that requires real “lefties” to run for local offices, then take on uncontested Republicans locally, then go from there. Universal health care has happened in countries where a left party has been in power. In Canada that was at the province (our version of States) level.

Policies such as free education, six weeks paid time off for all workers, and universal health care happen in countries with an empowered and broad political spectrum. REAL progressives would argue for the democratic reforms that would allow ideas and democracy to flourish. There are very few of those in positions to speak and influence.

REAL progressives would stand for Instant Runoff Voting so that no vote is wasted. REAL progressives would stand for fair ballot access so that there was a range of choices for Americans. REAL progressives would be leading the march toward an open and participatory democracy!

There aren't many real progressives, but when we find one we need to work with them for real change, real hope, and real family values!


*People commonly refer to members of the Democratic party as Democrats and not Democratics.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

CDC Quote from Health Equity Guidebook

“Inequalities in health status in the U.S. are large, persistent, and increasing. Research documents that poverty, income and wealth inequality, poor quality of life, racism, sex discrimination, and low socioeconomic conditions are the major risk factors for ill health and health inequalities… conditions such as polluted environments, inadequate housing, absence of mass transportation, lack of educational and employment opportunities, and unsafe working conditions are implicated in producing inequitable health outcomes. These systematic, avoidable disadvantages are interconnected, cumulative, intergenerational, and associated with lower capacity for full participation in society….Great social costs arise from these inequities, including threats to economic development, democracy, and the social health of the nation.”

- Centers for Disease Control

Reproductive Rights

New Health Care Legislation Includes Troubling Setbacks For Reproductive Rights

The landmark health care legislation signed by President Obama today includes troubling setbacks for women’s reproductive rights, said the American Civil Liberties Union.

While the bill signed by the president today contains positive changes to health care policies that discriminate against women and provides women with access to needed and often life-saving health care services, it also restricts abortion coverage, creating hurdles for both the insurer that wants to include abortion care in its health plan and the insured who wants the coverage. The president, in a move meant to garner the votes of Democrats who oppose abortion rights, also signed an Executive Order today to ensure that current law prohibiting public funding of abortion also applied to any subsidies used to purchase insurance in the exchange.

Today’s law also revives federal funding for an abstinence-only- until-marriage program that Congress correctly allowed to expire in 2008. The ACLU has long opposed abstinence-only programs on the grounds that they censor vital health information, promote gender stereotypes, discriminate against gays and lesbians and sometimes use federal dollars to promote one religious perspective.

The following can be attributed to Laura Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“Unfortunately, health care reform came at a very high price for women’s right to reproductive health care. Providing health care to Americans should not come at the expense of limits on constitutionally protected access to abortion. Moreover, the law wastes millions of dollars by raising from the dead a failed sexual education program – abstinence-only- until-marriage – that thwarts healthy, more effective and life-saving education that is greatly needed by our young people.

“The ACLU looks forward to working with the president and Congress to amend these troubling provisions and ensure that every woman retains the ability to access truly comprehensive health care.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Not everyone is excited

The health insurance bill that recently passed is not getting poor reviews from just the right wing. Physicians for a National Health Program is also not excited. They see it as a false promise of reform, and note that 23 million Americans will still go uninsured.

And while most of the Democrat commentators on talk radio are ecstatic about the bill's passage. Norman Goldman is still taking the Democrats to task for falling short in this process in so many ways. There are a growing number of people discussing third parties, so if you want to promote that on a media source, this is the place.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Legislation Passes House

Now we will see where this leads. The President is hailing this a major victory in a 100 year struggle. If this is all we can get after 100 years, it is no wonder that45,000 Americans die each year from lack of insurance!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

45,000 Americans

If something killed 45,000 Americans each year would you do something about it?

That's what lack of health insurance does. Every 12 minutes an American dies because of lack of health insurance.

What can you do? Contact your elected officials and let them know you support universal health care access!

Or, work to build the changes in our "system" that would make this possible:

Clean Elections,
Instant Runoff Voting or Proportional Representation,
Fair Ballot Access,
Same Day Voter Registration!

And maybe point out that ultra-conservatives go to Canada for health care!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Health Impact Assessments

Health Impact Assessments are a way to measure policy as to whether it will make people healthier or sicker. The post linked here about HIA refers to a report in England discussing a fairer and healthier society.

What is missing in that report is the reality that we don't have governments, or parties in power, that are promoting participatory decision-making. Connecting what has been done in Porto Alegre, as an example, to the realities of decision-making in most communities will be a challenge.

The reality is that a fairer society, a just society, is healthier than what we have now. Ensuring that health equity is a part of all HIA processes will be important. In Albuquerque, and in New Mexico there are attempts to promote health impact assessments in a variety of areas. We need to ensure equity focused HIA if we are going to create good lives for all.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How class works

Easy to read presentation talks about class. It is a straightforward look at class in the US. It is not political and still has some value.

Check it out and post your thoughts. How Class Works

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Social Determinants of Health

How does politics impact health? By creating the situation of our social lives.

These are called "Social Determinants of Health." The World Health Organization released a Report on Social Determinants of Health. It's a 7MB document, but a good read for those really interested in how health and politics intersect.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Show Our Love for Universal Broadband and Network Neutrality

La Raza Unida showed up to show love for Universal Broadband and Network Neutrality!

Given how hard it is to connect in NM this is a very important issue.

Thanks to the NMMLP for leading in this great media justice event.

Ping Pong

It seems like all that is needed for US voters to flip flop is a crisis. Many are expecting that to be true in the November elections as the economy continues to drag along.

Had the minimum wage been increased at the beginning of this crisis, the people working at those jobs would be spending more and in turn creating new jobs. Instead we have banksters continuing to rob society blind with tax payer money.

We'll see if this year brings another ping pong election. Most people only see two options, the openly corporatist party and the party of the middle-class. The illusion that "everyone" thinks they are middle-class in the US is not true. While those identifying as middle-class has grown, one study shows 47 percent of voters identify as working-class. And given that voter turnout is higher among college educated and higher income groups this number may be low.

So it is time for the working class to figure out what is in the interest of working families and organize, network, and vote for family friendly, working friendly, and justice friendly parties and candidates!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Another World Is Possible!

This is the cry of many radicals, revolutionaries, and even progressives. But what is meant by that? In the US we have what is essentially a "Republic" where a very few make the laws for the many. This is supposedly what some people want to challenge, but most of us have not lived in a participatory democracy. The best we get are some forms of representative democracy.

Others wish for a democracy that better represents people, that is open to multiple-parties, that isn't influenced by corporate greed and avarice. That would be better, but would it be best?

There is an argument that the size of our society is too large for a participatory democracy. We don't know because it hasn't been tried. But it has been tried in large cities. One of the cities that is leading this as a possibility is Porto Alegre.

Within the structure of a republic style government, municipal government has become more representative in its system of budgeting. While far from perfect, this is a solid move toward community power. There was a movement in the US when there was a Socialist Party. This municipal socialism had an impact in some major cities in the US. The ideological and other forces limited this, but it shows that even in the US alternatives are possible.

How much democracy can we create in the US? In Albuquerque? Within our neighborhood associations, parent organizations, and other public spaces? The challenge is upon us more than ever with the Supreme Court giving corporations immense power over the political system. Only an engaged society will be able to deal with this.

Let's Dare to Practice Democracy!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tax the Wealthy!

It is always useful to think about what is possible. We often use the term "third party" and that's incorrect. That falls under the assumption that a "two-party" system is normal or natural. It is not, it is designed, just like markets.

Anything designed can be changed. And, in Oregon voters increased taxes on the wealthy!

But many in the Chicana and Chicano Movement are against voting. The same is true in many movements who are frustrated by politics as usual. There has been a lot of money invested in getting people not to vote. Watch this and remember that School Bond Election for Albuquerque Public Schools is Tuesday, February 5.

Monday, January 25, 2010


Looks like the President is a little off balance and needing to "reboot" his agenda. That's too bad as most of it was decent. But obviously not enough as Kucinich takes his party to task.

What is probably of most importance in the last month is the Suprem Court siding with corporatocracy over democracy. It is not like the system was pro-working-class to begin with. But now for sure things will be difficult.

What we will need for a fully functioning democracy is Instant Runoff Voting, Proportional Representation, Universal Voter Registration, and much more. Mainly we need to remove special interest money from politics!

Turnout would help. The US ranks 114th on the planet for voter turnout.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

40th Anniversary of La Raza Unida

January 17 is the anniversary of La Raza Unida. And this year marked the 40th. We had a general meeting and not much special here in Albuquerque. Looking at the needs of the US there is a need to approach things on a broader scale.

The winner take all voting system of the US requires that any electoral party have a broad enough platform to attract voters. The US culture of individualism, and generally anti-government libertarianism makes a labor or social democratic party extremely difficult. But, it is not impossible.

That is what we need now, a party, or parties that will engage working people as workers. We need unions to engage all workers as a class. The pretense that we are all "middle-class" doesn't confront the realities of the corporate-driven society we live in now. Class consciousness is difficult to develop in an individualistic society. But, it is not impossible.

We "left" or "progressives" or "radicals" need to learn and move forward. The sectarian ideological purity approach of the past didn't work then and it won't work now. We need to balance practicality and move toward our principles. We need to take what we can get and move forward. There are examples where third parties have made some inroads. We can learn from them and build upon them.

We need to be practical, we need to be connected to the communities we want to impact, and we need to build locally. There are many barriers to parties that represent working families. One of the main ones is the electoral system itself. It is tough, but not impossible!

Register Raza Unida by placing "LRU" in box 5 of NM election forms!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Culture of Overwork

Working over 45 hours a week can be detrimental to your health. France created 350,000 jobs by going to a 35 hour work week. Shorter work weeks reduces green house emissions. Getting rid of the Culture of Overwork even makes employees happier!

Let's get smart and let's give everyone more time to spend with their friends and families.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy 2010 - Consider the Possibilities

So many people are discouraged with Obama, or Democrats, or all politics that it seems fitting to start the new year with a look at the possible.

Indigenous Presidents....
Venezuelan Social Reform... (Interesting that when you type in "Hugo Chavez on Google the term dictator comes up - wasn't he elected?)
Sandinista Election...

Happy New Year!!!