Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “CA”

Drowned by a Fake Flood – Roger Ingalls

Many home owners in California are about to get screwed. Open your pocket books because soon you’ll need to come up with an extra $1000 to $2000 dollars per year.

The California Department of Water Resources and the US Army Corp of Engineers published a report about the state’s potential flood catastrophes. Fear sells, right? So naturally, KGO radio was blasting sound bites from someone in the above mentioned group saying we need to get prepared for the big one. The scary quote was, “it’s not a matter of if a flood will happen but a matter of when.”

One in five Californians lives in a flood zone, according to the report. The spokesperson making the scary comment above also said we need to create a budget so we can educate the people on potential floods, how to be prepared and have emergency services. This is a positively spun and coded message. What they are really saying is, “1 in 5 California home owners will be required to have federally mandated flood insurance.”

Flood

The national flood program already collects 30% of its funding from residence in California. We give much more than we take. We are financing people who live in actual flood plains and zones.

When was the last time you heard of a major flood in California? Remember the Great Mississippi and Missouri Flood of 1993 in the Midwest? Or the Great Flood of 1927 in the same area? Remember Hurricane Katrina and the flooding in New Orleans? OK, one more…do you remember Hurricane Sandy and all the east coast flooding? Only a fraction of the people who live in these REAL flood places have insurance.

It pisses me off that we California desert dwellers must finance the flood dwellers living in other states. If you live in the path of four or five hurricanes every year than you need insurance. If you live in a house or farm that is below the level of the Mississippi River than you need insurance. Don’t expect someone that lives in a desert to pay for your insurance.

I live in a 1000 year flood plain and there is no recorded history of my area ever flooding. The federal government forces me to pay $1600 per year for flood insurance. If I lived on the east coast or in the Midwest where floods occur routinely, I’d pay less. On the Federal level, California is politically weak.

Based on the recent spin language used by the California Department of Water Resources, US Army Corp of Engineers and FEMA, here’s my prediction. “It’s not a matter of if California home owners will get screwed by more federally mandated flood insurance but a matter of when!”

Americans United for the Separation of the Useful and the Useless – Tom Rossi

In Riverside, California, a controversy is brewing… over a cross.

It’s a huge cross, 35 feet in height, standing atop the rocky, steep-sided hill known as “Mount Rubidoux.” The Washington, D.C.-based group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State has threatened to sue the city of Riverside, contending that the cross, which has existed in one form or another since 1907, amounts to a government endorsement of Christianity, and therefore violates the first amendment of the U.S. constitution.

The separation of church and state is essential to just governance. It’s crucial that a nation’s important policies be decided on their merits as to their effects on that nation’s citizens. But a well-known aphorism applies well here: Pick your battles.

This battle, against a cross that is much more a monument to the history of the region than it is a monument to Christianity, is more than just a waste of effort, it’s counterproductive to any real progress in furthering the separation of church and state.

This particular battle is pointless, misguided, and damaging to the image of the people who should be (and in many cases are) fighting for changes that actually mean something. In fact, so much so that I almost wonder if the whole thing isn’t another Karl Rove “brainchild,” cooked up to make “liberals” look like idiots. In fact, several conservative groups and media outlets have seized upon this misplaced effort to ridicule “liberals” in general and to call all good Christians to the defense of their religion.

The incident has prompted a HUGE outpouring of support for the Mt. Rubidoux cross and, predictably, hatred for “secularists.” What else could Americans United expect? It’s the easiest forecast since Superstorm Sandy.

Essentially, this is a frivolous issue, but one in which the “opposition,” those who want to “defend Christianity,” are passionate. In other words, this battle is a sure loser.

As this blogger and many others have said many, many times, our efforts should be put into issues that really matter. The separation of church and state is certainly one of these, but the display of a cross or a Nativity scene is not. The way to address these “problems” (if you insist) would be with a sense of humor and irony, as well as with patience and tolerance.

Let me leave you with a letter to the editor of the Press-Enterprise, Riverside’s blatantly conservative daily fish-wrapper. The letter is from Riverside resident Mark S. (last name withheld here) and is quite eloquent:

“There are many serious places where narrow-minded religion creeps into civil society. Prop. 8’s ban on same-sex marriage and the fact that almost half of Americans don’t accept evolution come to mind.

The Mount Rubidoux cross also reflects narrow-mindedness, but with a secular twist (“Council ponders Mount Rubidoux cross options,” Nov. 14). Americans United for Separation of Church and State is behaving exactly like a fundamentalist organization, substituting an idolatrous interpretation of the Constitution for an idolatrous interpretation of the Bible.

Why should Riverside have to spend time, effort and money to support this group’s self-righteous views? This battle just makes AUSCS look like a fringe group and weakens its argument on serious issues.

The cross was a gift; it cost us nothing; leave it alone. If you don’t like it, don’t climb Mount Rubidoux.”

Well said, Mark.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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Cultural Death by Capitalism

Unbridled capitalism has turned the abundance of choice into a lack of variety.  When Henry Ford held the monopoly on ‘horseless buggies’ and as he adopted the assembly line in its infancy, he was quoted famously as saying that “Any customer can have any car painted any colour they want, as long as that colour is black!”  Thus began the way of life we know today.

Despite this beginning of mass production taking shape, we were still a country of independence and unique subcultures.  When I was a kid, my family would drive across the country to Wisconsin and back to California in our black Ford Galaxy 500.  To my parents, three younger sisters and me, every gas station, food joint and motel was unique.  Each state was different from the next.  Soda pops were regional, as were toppings on national classics like burgers and hot dogs.  Service stations reflected their locations with souvenirs, such as the Jackalope – native to Wyoming.  We knew when we crossed a state line simply by looking around us.

 

“As a child, we frequently drove from the Bay Area north to Grass Valleyalong Hwy 49.  Auburn was a treat to stop in because of the rich gold-mining history displayed all throughout the town.  My grandparents took us to a local café and candy shop.  I was in my early twenties when I took my first solo trip along that drive.  In just a few short years, the local SPD grocery chain had grown and now resembled every other chain store in the strip malls that now populated the once desolate highway.  Ruby’s Gifts had moved and was no longer the charming store it once had been.  The same fast-foods were now as readily available on every corner here as back home in suburbia.  The lusciously quiet tree-lined drive was overrun with the very places I longed to escape from.” *

Thanks to the likes of Sam Walton and James Cash Penney, big box businesses have taken over the same routes, highways and countrysides that are laid out before my wife and I as we make the long trek on a cross-country roadtrip back home to Wisconsin.  Where I once saw sloppy diners, roadside motels that had us peeking out the windows for Norman Bates, and “last chance stops” – now on our drive we see the bright, familiar lights of Walmart, Best Buy, fast food chains, Shells and Chevrons.  In the entire state of Nebraska the only pizza we could find was the cardboard served at Pizza Hut. 

We hear it all the time from Libertarians and Republicans:  “No control or restrictions for the rich and big businesses!  The free market gives us abundance and choice!”  The problem with this is it gives advantages to people and entities that already have the edge.  Big money wipes out unique products with cookie-cutter economies on an epic scale.  Everything is a tired blur of a handful of logos from coast to coast.  Few sights to see – even the truck stops have all been taken over by McDonald’s and Subway – gone are the all-night greasy spoons with grizzled old haulers hunched over their bowl of chili with a cracked, worn coffee cup glued to their dirty hands. 

“If half the employed population spent $50 at local, independent businesses, it would generate more than $42.6 billion dollars nationwide.  For every $100 spent in locally owned stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures.  If you spend that same amount at a national chain, only $43 stays local.  Spend it online and none of it stays at home.” – The 3/50 Project.

While Americans have fought against socialism, we have in fact, through our capitalist greed, ended up with nothing more than the variety of a communist government store. 

 – Roger Ingalls

* featuring guest blogger Kymberlie Ingalls, www.WriterOfTheStorm.com

photes by jackalope.org and shadetreemechanic.com

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