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 “depression”

Will Obama Walk the Walk? – Tom Rossi

In now two-term President Obama’s inauguration speech today, he certainly “talked the talk” of a progressive, but will he “walk the walk?”

In some ways, he certainly already has. He ended “don’t ask, don’t tell,” he came out in support of marriage rights for all, he appointed two women to the Supreme Court, he finally ended the war in Iraq, and a few other things.

But President Obama has been quite conservative on some big issues. He’s, if anything, increased the country’s war activities, used pilotless drones to assassinate people from the sky, increased spying activities on our own citizens, raided state-legal medical marijuana dispensaries, deported many more aliens than Bush, refused to even consider meaningful legal action against the robber barons that screwed the middle class and our whole economy, and kept merrily in place the same economic voodoo shamans that President Bush had… the same people who enabled the robber barons in the first place.

EK-Phone-Home

And all this while supposedly being a communist. Wow!

wpid-facebook_2065129459

What I can’t help but wonder is, if Obama is a progressive, why has he hidden it so well, during his first term? I know the conventional thinking – he had to stay near the so-called “center” (which is far to the right of the center, even 15 years ago) in order to have a good shot at re-election. But why? What if he hadn’t been re-elected? Then we would have gone from center-right to far-right… and that means that every one of us except the 1% would have lost.

In addition, Obama now has just four years to accomplish anything, and most of the efforts and attention will be on what should properly be called “gun-mass-murder control” (not “gun control”). We have seen not one hint of consideration, by Obama, to the fact that our present economic pathway is still the same one that led to the current depression.

And it is a depression. Recessions are, by definition, short-term blips – speed bumps, really, in the path of our economic progress. Depressions mean long-term unemployment and long-term troughs in things like the housing market. We’ve had millions of people unemployed for a period of more than a year. That’s a depression.

We need a fundamental realignment of our capitalism away from concentrated profits and diffuse risks to stability and full employment. This is not “wanting ‘stuff’ from the government,” it’s wanting the government to stop working against the people. We’ve heard lots of talk about helping the middle class. Let’s see some real action.

Will the real Obama please stand up?

-Tom Rossi

___________________________________________________________________________

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.

___________________________________________________________________________

The Demons of War are Persistent – Guest Post by A. W. Schade Pt. 2

This is part two of an article. The first can be found here.

I have taken on a cause through writing stories, such as this one, to reach out to young and senior Veterans to break the stigma of PTSD, and seek assistance.  Today is different from previous wars, and help and medical acknowledgement of PTSD has come a long way. 

Please ‘Take Action’ on the following suggestions; from one old warrior to others of all ages:

  • Break through the stigma of PTSD and get medical or peer-to-peer assistance now – PTSD is real!
  • Unless you are in a high-risk job, you will probably not experience the adrenaline rush and finality of your decisions as you did in combat. For me, I lived playing business games – never finding the ultimate adrenaline rush again. It is a void within me that I feel often.
  • The longer you wait for treatment, the harder it will be to handle the demons. They do not go away and can lay dormant in your soul for decades.
  • Understand it is never too late in your life to begin looking forward and achieving new objectives.
  • If you do not want to speak about PTSD with your family or friends, then hand them a brochure from the VA that explains what to look for, and why you need their support. You do not have to go into detail about the tragedies of war, but without your loved ones understanding your internal battle your thoughts can lead to divorce, loss of family relationships, destitution, or one of the rising suicide tragedies – a terrible waste of a hero.
  • Silence and solitude is not the answer! If you have PTSD you may not be able to beat it alone.
  • If you are concerned about your military or civilian job, seek help from peer resources. They have experienced what you have been through, and will help keep you living in the present, instead of the constantly looking over your shoulder to past atrocities.
  • Or call a person in a peer support group anonymously. They will not know you, but will talk for as long as you wish.
  • You cannot explain the horrors of war to someone, except maybe a PTSD psychologist, that has not experienced it – so don’t try. Seek those who peers who can help make a difference!
  • Get up off your ass and take a serious look into yourself! Accept the fact that if you have continuous nightmares, flashbacks, depression, bursts of anger, anxiety, or thoughts of suicide, you have PTSD. If so, talk to someone who can help.
  • There is financial and medical assistance through the VA; which may help you avoid living a life of destitution.

Finally, let your ego and macho image go. There are too many individuals and groups today wanting to help you [A list of many of these support groups are listed on this site], or you may find yourself alone and bitter for a lifetime. The demons are not going away, but with help, you can learn to fight them and win one battle at a time.

Semper Fi!

——————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of three social justice-themed novels: Unwanted Heroes, The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Jewish Student Center, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

A Serious Economic Agenda

I think I was exposed this weekend to the so-called Weekend Chat Shows. I won’t do it again (though I’m most perturbed that the soccer season is over and the NBA is coming to a close). I’m fed up with the way that we, the so-called informed population, allow our politicians and pundits to play out whatever fictional version they advocate to promote their own agendas.

Blaming President Obama for the economic meltdown a month or so after he took office is obnoxious – that many of the public bought it is truly stunning. Even today, when the President is still basking in the public’s praise regarding the assassination of bin Laden, a Republican politician, when asked if this gives Obama the Presidency in 2012, said Obama still has to account for the state of the economy.  As if these Republicans weren’t around for the previous eight years, or for that matter, in power.

I do not believe that the recession is about everyone having a hard time. Houses in Berkeley are selling quickly and financial coaches all agree that there is money to made in a recession. A recession is more about a sharpened distribution of wealth than wealth disappearing from the economy.

Neither do I think it is about Republicans or Democrats. There is a structural problem in our economy that needs and can be addressed quickly. Over the next couple of weeks, I want to focus on some of the following aspects.

1. Education  – a 21st century economy requires a 22nd century education system. It begins with creating a work force that is competitive and highly esteemed. The average teacher in California earns just under $69,000. I don’t believe they work more or less than the rest of us. Their challenges and pressures are simply different.

2. Taxes – Everybody pays their taxes and they are proportional to how much each person earns. There can be some flexibility for differing circumstances, but to allow the rich to pay less taxes proportionately than the poor is absurd. The fact that so many of the working and middle class accept this is unfathomable.

3. Energy – Moving away for an oil-based economy, or at least cutting it drastically has repercussions not only on energy, but also foreign policy. As the head of the multinational oil company said in The Accidental Activist – true change will only come when the public are challenged at the pumps.

We might not hold all the answers, but our worst enemy is apathy. Let the discussion begin…

——————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

An Open Letter to Jeff Bezoz, Founder of Amazon.com & the Kindle

Dear Mr. Bezos,

Firstly, thank you for thinking up the idea of Amazon.com. I’m a big fan – I read books that I buy from Amazon, I write books that I sell on Amazon, and I love my Kindle, both to read books and to think of how we are positively impacting the environment. I have just written a number of blog entries on the e-book revolution and also the tragedy of the pulping industry.

I learned that many of the books that are pulped are textbooks because they are constantly being updated. Now I realize that this good for business, but it is bad for the trees (and therefore us). I just can’t get over the images of books being pulped and left in huge garbage tips. Perhaps it is a Jewish thing – I once witnessed a perfectly rational friend totally lose control of himself when he saw someone burning old moldy books.

His parents were Holocaust survivors who had once boasted a house full of packed bookcases. While some of the family survived, his house had been burned with all the books inside. I have since learned that this is a common in many Holocaust survivors and their offspring, as Nazis piled Jewish books in the street and burned them.

I digress. I work with university students, Mr. Bezos, and they are hurting. They are going into debt for their studies, living expenses and textbooks. Their parents can’t help them and more than a few of my students have taken on a second job to send money to their families. This is not some 3rd or 4th world country, sir, it is San Francisco. And I am sure it is all over Depression-hit America.

So here is my idea, Mr. Bezos, and it is win:win, so bear with me.

1. Every student who enrolls in a state-run university or community college (I would like you to consider all colleges and universities if you can) receives a Kindle in their freshman year, for FREE.

2. They receive generous discounts on their textbooks for three years – we can give them a code that expires then. Moreover, they get updated versions of a textbook they purchased for $1.


What do you get out of this?

1. The gratitude of a generation that saw you reach out to them when they were struggling.

2. Hundreds of thousands of loyal customers. These students will get used to purchasing through Amazon. They will get hooked on the ever-evolving Kindle (because you will ensure that it will always be cutting edge) and on the concept of e-books, of which you are the biggest seller in the world.

3. These students will, we assume emerge from school and the depression into young professionals with spending power and disposable income. They will also have a buying habit and brand loyalty.

4. Help stop the terrible waste of resources, of trees being cut down while global warming increases.

5. Help stop the senseless pulping of books because they have been printed without demand and/or have become out dated.

6. Fame and fortune for doing the right thing for the American people when they most needed it.

On behalf of our students and the planet, I thank you for considering this. Here’s to a bright future for us all.


———————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

 

 

Post Navigation

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: