Official word has come that three buildings at the VA property in West LA will be designated for homeless vets. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson announced the decision to designate buildings 205, 208 and 209 for homeless veterans programs. “Our goal is to help these veterans return to their communities as solid citizens, gainfully employed, living independently with restored dignity,” Nicholson said.
When Santa Monica City Councilman Bobby Shriver joined the Council a few years back, he immediately sought out the toughest and most intractable problem he could find and set about to fix it. He soon discovered the problem most on residents’ minds was our homeless population. Soon thereafter, we had food being served indoors, a homeless Czar, a homeless court, and now we have homes designated for the homeless. I call that real action, and it should be noted that all of us living in this area should be grateful to the hard work and perseverance one citizen put in to tackle this problem. This is not the end of the struggle by any means, but focus and headway is being made, showing that government can work in solving our problems, provided people put the energy and commitment behind it. Shriver, by the way, would be the first to say it was not just one man, and I agree. Many people have worked hard to better the situation, but until he provided the needed leadership, progress had been slow. He is not one to sit idly by and has been known to call lack of action “scandalous.” With his flare for the dramatic he should be a politician!
* * * *
Santa Monica is generally recognized as one of the safest cities in the U.S. Sure, we have our share of crime, but homicides, rapes and other violent crime are rare. When it does happen here, it is often from outsiders. Some of it is a result of the summer heat when people from all over the So Cal basin visit our pier and beaches. A shooting on the pier, a stabbing in a parking lot, a drive-by on Pico. You have read about it. The truth is those problems are not generally from our own resident “criminals,” of which we have very few. In fact our “gangs” are now older and less anxious to cause troubles. Unfortunately, other gangs, especially Westside gangs, come onto our turf to settle old scores, which select random victims, and they come to score points. The SMPD works close by with LAPD to monitor the gangs in Venice, Mar Vista and Culver City, where our real gang problems lie. I for one am looking forward to summer ending and school beginning; it will dampen the weekend crowds a bit.
* * * *
I have been reading some great books this summer. I enjoy history and biographies, so I continued my study of Genghis Khan and read a fictionalized biography of his youth, ages 12-22. Oh my, from the remote and isolated prairies of Mongolia, living a life alone with just his immediate family, after being discarded by his tribe, Genghis Khan eventually consolidated all the Mongol tribes, fought Chinese chicanery that for years kept the tribes divided and ended up forming an empire from Peking to the gates of Hungary – the largest the world has ever known. The world under his domain flourished, as there was peace and security, safe trade routes, the world’s first international postal system, cultural exchanges and an enlightenment age when the Western world was deep in the Dark Ages. The thought of Mongol hordes still evokes shock in my Chinese friends who were steeped in Genghis Khan history as children. The truth is the Mongols won their battles against superior strength by using tactics and strategy. This book, full of adventure, about his youth shows what an unforgiving and harsh existence Genghis Khan was raised in.
My other main read of the summer was a book aptly titled 1491. I thought that was clever because it discussed what the Americas looked like the year prior to the arrival of Mr. Columbus. This book was chock full of surprises and new discoveries by archeologists who are still finding human remains from thousands of years before they “figured” people crossed the Bering Strait. Now it is anybody’s guess how long people were here.
And how they got here is another ongoing mystery. But for me the most interesting parts were the in-depth discussions of the advanced societies that resided here. And how many of them there were and how rich the history of the continent really is. We tend to neglect those histories as we are Eurocentric in our thinking, but their legacies are as great as the Chinese, the Egyptians and many other important ancient civilizations. Plus, I found it fascinating to find out how crowded this continent really was before disease ravaged the native population. My minor in college was Native American Studies (American Indian Movement founder Russell Means says it is okay to use the word Indian, but back then the college was being politically correct), so the many discussions of Indian politics that helped shape this country toward being free people was enlightening. Democracy was brought to you by Indians, where every person was free to vote, go to war, or not, and come and go as they pleased. In fact, the early settlers had a big problem in that many of the men chose the Indian way of life as a superior way to the European top down command structure. Much more in the book. Do enjoy.
* * * *
The Federal Reserve took a very modest step last week in narrowly reducing their prime lending rate from 6.25 to 5.75 percent. Unfortunately this move was designed to help credit markets, and not the American public. Since the bank is most interested in its own affairs, the welfare of the banks as opposed to the welfare of Americans, they made this move so as not to affect borrowing costs for consumers. When they finally get around to lowering rates so as to affect variable rate loans, expect some relief. Not a lot mind you, since they are afraid with the savings you will spend the extra money and “heat up” the economy. Who are they kidding? The people heating up the economy are out-of- control hedge funds that overcharge members and the merger mania that racks up huge credit needs that ultimately force higher prices from the companies they acquire in order to pay off the debt.
Recall Robert Hurwitz and Maxxam Corp. in buying up our redwoods in Northern California by taking on huge debt and then accelerating the cuts in order to pay off the loans. Try that logic on any number of corporate America mergers and you see how prices can rise to meet investment bankers insatiable profit needs. Main Street America can use the relief and deserve to have the rates go to a more standard 4.50% level. That number, btw, was the amount of a fixed 30-year home loan mortgage in the 1950s that my Uncle Milt took. And that was no aberration – that was the norm. As it should be today. It makes home-buying affordable again, allows home prices to stabilize and home-building to resume. Notice how there is NO discussion in the political debates on this issue. These people do not have a clue as to who is really running the economy. For a further exhaustive read on this check out The Secrets of the Temple by William Greider, a wonderful reporter who nearly a decade ago wrote an in-depth expose of the Federal Reserve. It still shocks me how little press attention is given to these folks.