Republicans abandon the people
To the editor:
In the wake of the disastrous effects of Katrina and Rita, Americans have a clearer understanding of the Republican agenda that systemically benefits the privileged at the expense of the people. Even in the wake of these disastrous storms – where thousands of our fellow citizens were left behind – Republicans continue to push an agenda that doles out billions in handouts to companies like Halliburton and Bechtel.
But, the Republicans’ misplaced priorities did not begin or end with the Bush Administration or these disasters.
Eleven years ago this week, Congressional Republicans signed the so-called “Contract with America” – pledging to “restore accountability to Congress” and “to end its cycle of scandal and disgrace.” But, instead of reforming government, these so-called Republican “revolutionaries” created a racket – a lobbyist feeding frenzy that’s showered billions on corporations and left the American people behind.
More than one hundred Republicans who signed the Contract still serve today, and are nothing more than accomplices to the scandals and misguided priorities of people like Majority Leader Tom DeLay. They’ve crafted law after law – from the pharmaceutical company’s prescription drug bill, to the creditors’ bankruptcy bill, to the big oil energy bill – designed to benefit the bottom lines of their big campaign contributors.
As we’ve all watched the destruction and suffering along the Gulf Coast – the under-funded levee system, the utter lack of disaster preparedness, the crushing poverty, and now reconstruction efforts that strip wage protections for reconstruction workers and provide no-bid contracts to Halliburton – we’ve seen the real face of the Republican revolution. It’s not pretty, and it’s not what most people want our great country to look like.
While the so-called “Republican revolution” may have been a success for elite corporate interests, it has been a failure for the American people.
David Cerwonka, Santa Monica
To the editor:
Thank you, Santa Monica! A heartfelt thanks to all of you who turned out for the “Songs of Strength Benefit Concert” for Victims of Hurricane Katrina on Sunday at the First United Methodist Church. You were incredibly patient with an extended sound check, a late start, and a packed house. And you have been very generous. Together we have raised nearly $35,000 that will go directly to immediate relief work and long-term recovery work in the Gulf region. Let’s continue to “be the hope!”
Rev. Patricia Farris, Senior Minister
To the editor:
I just returned from what I believe is the single most inspiring event held annually in Santa Monica: The Westside Shelter and Hunger Coalition’s “Celebrating Success Breakfast,” which honors formerly homeless men and women who turn their lives around through the assistance and support of local social service agencies, including St. Joseph’s Center, Step Up on Second, Chrysalis, New Directions, Ocean Park Community Center, Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center, the CLARE Foundation, PATH, and the West LA Veterans Homeless Program.
Four things struck me about this extraordinary event:
1. Nearly all of the formerly homeless men and women being honored had been assisted by more than one of the social service agencies, and many had received help from several.
That these non-profit organizations, in a time of increased competition for dwindling dollars, can work so cooperatively is a true model for long-term problem-solving. The Westside Shelter and Hunger Coalition is LA County’s oldest coalition of social service agencies. We should be proud that this collaborative group exists in our community to facilitate the remarkable recovery of so many disparate souls.
2. Too many of the honorees are veterans. Forty percent of our county’s homeless men and women served their country under the most grueling of circumstances, only to be left alone to deal with their demons upon return.
When more veterans served in Congress and in our state legislatures, programs supporting vets were more fully funded. Funding for the Veterans Administration’s mental health programs has been slashed in recent years, and the situation will get worse, especially for Californians. Our state has sent more soldiers to the Iraq War than any other state. We will have more war widows, more war orphans, and more injured soldiers relying more heavily on our state and local social service programs at a time when the Bush/Schwarzenegger Administrations are balancing budget shortfalls with proposed tax cuts for the wealthy. In fact, just a few short weeks before President Bush sent another generation of young Americans to war in Iraq, he cut health benefits for existing veterans.
Programs for veterans must be fully funded. We ask our young men and women to risk their lives for our country; the least we can do is support their lives when they return home.
3. Nearly all of the honorees struggled with alcohol and drug addiction. Addiction touches nearly every American family and is one of our greatest and costliest health threats, yet our health system barely confronts the neurological and biochemical causes of this disease. We diagnose and treat ADD more aggressively than we confront teenage and youth drug and alcohol addiction, and the result has staggering consequences.
4. Many of the formerly homeless women and men now work professionally for the very organizations that helped them. I was struck by how my dollar to one of these effective social service agencies keeps circulating: As my dollar helps one person, she returns to help another generation of people struggling to regain their lives.
These honorees are now returning to school, to competitive employment, to families and to dignity. It struck me that the people whose courage and determination I will applaud at next year’s “Celebrating Success Breakfast” may be the very people I see on the street today. I will now look more closely at these people’s potential futures rather than at the ravages of their pasts.
Kelly Hayes-Raitt, Santa Monica
Cancel those flights
To the editor:
I’m sure I’m not the only one who enjoys relaxing on the beach early on a Saturday afternoon. After a hard week’s work, there’s nothing quite like the sound of the ocean, the occasional gull calling out to its kin, maybe a child somewhere squealing at an oncoming wave. All this I can bear because it’s a natural part of beach life. Imagine my disappointment then, as every five minutes or so, a small but obnoxiously loud plane flies low and noisy carrying a huge banner that mars the uncluttered horizon, the only tranquil scape that we can enjoy without being inundated by crass advertising that we have to endure every waking moment of our lives.
So please, Sony, Boeing, LAPD, Bacardi et al, please stop bombarding us with your huge annoying ads being flown over us by gas-guzzling engines that pollute our ocean, air and airwaves. Do you honestly think we’re going to flip open our cell phones and call Boeing to check if they really are hiring? Or call the nearest Sony store to see if they really DO have a flippy-flappy LD buttony thing? And Bacardi, give it up already! I don’t wish my five-year old to have to endure any more alcohol ads while playing on the beach.Jim Smoot, Santa Monica