Friday, November 05, 2004

La verdad de los números

Mi experiencia profesional me ha ayudado mucho en la vida. Desde mis años de estudiante aprendí que, aunque los periódicos quieran dividirla en Economía, Política, Internacionales, Deportes, Salud, Educación y demás, la realidad se resiste a ser parcelada y una vez y otra muestra la profunda integración de todas las cosas.

La relación entre economía y política es tal vez la más obvia, pero ¿qué decir de economía y salud, de economía y educación y de educación y salud? No por coincidencia los estudios insisten en mostrar, caprichosos, que los niños de familias de bajos ingresos – también conocidos como pobres, pero el eufemismo siempre se agradece – suelen asistir a peores escuelas, obtener peores calificaciones, tener una salud más débil, carecer de seguro médico, quedarse solos en casa después de la escuela hasta bien entrada la noche, pertenecer a pandillas juveniles, fumar, usar drogas.. ¿sigo?

De hecho, evidencia empírica y resultados estadísticos de varios estudios han mostrado que la falta de acceso, otro eufemismo para dinero, es el factor más determinante en todo esto. Según estudios citados por Identity, Inc., de Washington D.C., independientemente de raza o etnia, la pobreza es el más infalible pronóstico del uso de drogas, las dificultades en la escuela, el embarazo en la adolescencia y otros problemas de esta naturaleza entre los latinos.

Como los jóvenes latinos menores de 18 años representan el 16% de la población de Estados Unidos, pero representan el 29% de los niños que viven en la pobreza, no es difícil mostrar la correlación.

Entonces, cuando las estadísticas dicen que se crearon nuevos empleos, que la bolsa subió, o que bajaron los impuestos, exactamente ¿qué quiere eso decir? La Oficina de Presupuesto del Congreso dio a la luz un estudio el pasado viernes que indica cómo los cortes tributarios de la administración Bush han beneficiado desproporcionalmente al uno por ciento más rico del país, mientras los beneficios para los más pobres son prácticamente imperceptibles.

Sí, sí, sabemos que los más ricos pagan más impuestos, pero es lógico, puesto que se trata de impuestos sobre los ingresos y el colmo sería que los tuvieran que pagar quienes menos reciben. Pero a la larga los números tienen que analizarse en términos de cuánto le queda a uno en el bolsillo. Y aquí las cifras son claras: el 1% más rico tuvo un incremento del 10.1%, mientras que el 20% de los más pobres sólo vio un aumento del 1.6%.

Hablando en plata, literalmente: A quien gana 6 dólares por hora le devolvieron unos 199.68 dólares. No sé, pero algo me dice que eso no alcanza para pagar el seguro médico de un mes para una familia, ni dos semanas de cuidado después de la escuela para mi hija de 7 años, cuyo campamento de verano era casi 200 por semana. ¿Será por eso que los pobres tienen la salud más mala?

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Blacks and Hispanics, the Irrational Fight

What about a program about the racism (this is against blacks) among Hispanics? This is such an interesting topic because it shows several instances:
1. It's hard to forge an alliance between blacks and Hispanics, because they have deep distrust of each other -which has been carefully instilled by the Whites or the power in a divide and conquer fashion- . However, this alliance will serve both minorities quite well: imagine the power they would have, if instead of being fighting for crumbs they demand response to all their needs, for ALL?
2. Many of Hispanics, some of them almost illiterate, are still very racist and consider even Powell or Rice inferiors, because they think that, regardless of how much they (the blacks) may have or know, they could never change their color. This is interesting because this has to do with slavery in our countries (I'm a black Cuban) and with the idea of blacks being lower class, delinquents, etc.
3. Since there have been benefits for both minorities, each minority has the tendency to fight for the benefits the other minority has, instead of demanding its own.
4. The latest effort to divide is the recurrence to the problem of the language, and the insistence on the fact that language is what makes Americans so. Which is recurring to the only thing that whites and blacks in America have in common, and Hispanics -also referred to as the Hispanic Challenge- don't. Obviously, each time other issues of poverty and lack of access are discussed, clearly Hispanics and Blacks would have much more in common.
5. Hispanics supposedly threaten the low paying jobs which are normally the place for blacks. This is a disgusting rational, as you may notice, because it's circumscribing blacks to those miserably paying jobs, that they need not to take, because they actually speak English and could have or should have had the opportunity to have a good education -not even getting into the issue of not needing to exist jobs that don't pay a livable wage, but that's a separate program- and those cleaning jobs are "normally" held by immigrants, because of the language barrier and therefore inability to work more qualified jobs. This fight for low paying jobs (and for control of crime zones, too) have ignited violence among both communities.
This could be a never ending issue, but it is soooo interesting and challenging, and so up to date.

Debates

I really think this time the press wont have the opportunity to spin the facts against the Democrat Party and the democrat presidential candidate. Kerry won the debate by and large, funny enough with the same kinds of strengths Gore presented against Bush last time around, except that back then, because everybody thought that Bush was not able to articulate two sentences in a row, and he managed to do so, it was consider almost a miracle for him, and that gave him his supposed victory on the debate. But, what about the issues? He did yesterday, what he did in 2000 -its obvious because he has no ability to do something else or go out of the script- repeat a tiring list of empty slogans, avoid answering specific points by resorting to a weird speech on freedom, and appropriate as if they were his only the most common points and more shared values that anybody will have to agree with: that a free Iraq is good for everyone, that the world is better off without Hussein, that America's decision on defense could not be left to others. However, once again he left the real questions unanswered: yes the world is better w/o Hussein, but why are we there anyway? Did we go because he was a dictator or because he had WMD? What was the accomplished mission? Is Iraq in the road to success now, how so?
And the list goes on and on. He attacks without any factual response, and, since his mind is rather one way, he has trouble understanding the fact that facts actually should make one change the course of things whose course is wrong.
And he did not miss the opportunity to change the speech and say that "global test" means asking other countries for permission, instead of "passing the global test" meaning passing the test of meeting all the conditions to make it legal and acceptable to take a preemptive action.

Remembering Casablanca

After being awake most of the night, and crying my eyes out, I have now to accept what seems to be the fact: Bush was reelected... by us!
And that makes me think of many things: what is actually the Republican base? Is it the rich? No, because there are not that many of them to get anyone into the White House. Their base is the really poor, not well educated and extremely (extremist) religious people. That's why people whose kids are dying in Iraq, so they can get a way to go to college, for some WMDs about whose disappearing Bush was laughing, are still willing to vote for Bush.
But the point now is: what the democratic party's base is? When I got to clean my tears from my face, I remembered when in the movie Casablanca, the protagonist said: "We will always have Paris."
Well, we will always have 2008, and even if it looks to fast to start thinking about it, just think for how long Republicans have being organizing themselves, and preparing the soil. Also, look how they do not destroy each other in Primaries, and actually concentrate all their efforts on their agenda behind one man.
Now it's the time to Move On, and to remember that the only way we could gain people to our side is to show them exactly how the issues affect them, and not only things like: vote or die.
We need to think, and not mourn, but organize. We need to think, and make people think.
My second mom called me around 10 pm yesterday, when I was totally hopeful we will win, and she was convinced we would not win. I thought, and told her, she was crazy, but then she said: "I have been going door to door in PA, in an African American and Hispanic very poor community, and those families in the most complete poverty are voting for Bush because of religious issues. I entered in a house of a black family with only one chair to sit on and they were voting for Bush."
Well, if the Republican can manipulate them this way, why can't we work with them (not on them) to sort out their issues and move on?
I don't know. It's very weird for me to hear that religious issues or moral values have such an impact in this century. If I ever put a foot in a church again it will be too soon!
We are educating people to be focused on those issues, we indoctrinate them since they are kids on the idea of God, and they have not way of thinking outside those issues even when that means to impose their faith on someone else. And, paired with a religious education, we take good care of given our kids a very, very, very poor quality education, so we can keep a base of uneducated, manipulable people, that keep buying Hollywood movies, and consuming junk as crazes, and going to church on Sundays... and to the army instead of a good college.
We need to be more honest about many, many things, and much more open even if that bring a big discussion, because now what has happened is that we keep things in the same way, we don't discuss the origins of the problems, but the outcomes. We need to go deeper, and start now, if we are really concerned with the future of America and the world.