CALENDAR OF EVENTS
A reminder: The Greenspan Commission created the hoax that Social Security was careening toward bankruptcy. The Pentagon (or Congress on its behalf) owes the trust funds some $30 BILLION!
Some thirty-five people spent a beautiful Saturday af- ternoon indoors at New College discussing preference voting and democratic campaign financing under the combined aegis of The Alliance, the Greens and the Gray Panthers.
The essence of preference voting (Prop H on the ballot) is better representation-not winner take all but more representation of most viewpoints. How it works is: the voter looks at the list of candidates and rates them 1-2-3-4-5-6, six candidates for two positions, for instance. If your number one candidate gets 33% first choice vote plus one (that's the threshhold-there's a formula for that), he or she is elected. Any first choice votes the winner got over that 33% plus one get re- distributed to each voter's second choice-that may put another person over the top to be elected. If not, the last place hopeful is eliminated and those votes distributed among the rest until someone is elected.
This election formula sounds pretty complicated. But what a voter really needs to judge is not so com- plex-just vote your candidates, and if your first choice doesn't win, at least you have some input on who does.
Hopefully, this will have some serendipitous ef- fects too-like faster coalition building and reducing the influence of big money.
And that was what was also on the meeting's agenda-democratically financed elections. There is a national plan afoot that goes beyond proposition 214 and 216 to eliminate all private financing. You will hear more about this in the future.
Aroza Simpson, GP organizer of the teach-in along with Betty Traynor of the Greens and Martha Avery of The Alliance, is urging everyone interested in working toward a more progressive electoral system, campaign financing reform and participatory democ- racy to call her at the GP office 552-8800 or home 567-5348. She wants to organize small groups inter- ested in discussing the issues and how they can be made to work in the political arena.
For more information on electoral reform contact: Working Group on Electoral Democracy, 70 Wash- ington St., Brattleboro, VT 05301.
Democracy: Use It Or Lose It
October's membership meeting will take an analytic look at the issues on the ballot in November. We have already studied a number of these issues. Because our next month's newsletter probably will not reach you before election day, we list below those state and county propositions on which S.F. Gray Panthers have taken a position.
State Propositions 208 Campaign Contributions Yes 209 Civil Rights (Wrongs) No 210 Minimum Wage Yes 211 Securities Fraud Yes 212 Campaign Contributions Yes 214 Health Care Yes 215 Medical Marijuana Yes 216 Health Care Yes 217 Restoring Income Tax on RichYes 218 Grandchild of Prop 13 No Local Propositions A Housing Yes
More About Welfare
The myth: Typical welfare recipients are unemployed, inner-city minorities where families have received public assistance for generations. In reality, most welfare recipients are white and live in the suburbs and rural areas-and a third will lift themselves out of poverty within twelve months. These findings and the table below are reported by the Population Reference Bureau, an independent nonprofit research organization, for 1994 from census bureau data, The Welfare/Poverty Profile Among the study's findings:
National Big Money
At least $400 million was spent in the first six months of 1996-and that is only what was reported by registered lobbyists on the federal level. Biggest spenders: the top ten spenders among groups that reported lobbying expenses for the first half of 1996.
No Comment Department
Cruise Missiles and Food Stamps: Our first response to Iraq's incursion into the Kurdish safe haven zone was to fire 44 cruise missiles. Each missile costs $1,000,000. That's 44 million dollars!
Bob Herbert, speaking to the
National Emergency Civil Liberty Committee:
For-Profit HMO Principle: "My duty is to my stockholders. The public be damned." Wm. H. Vanderbilt, 19th century American robber baron. "For profit chains (HMOs) are ultimately ac- countable to stockholders, not to communities." Robert Kuttner, New Eng.
Board of Supervisors meetings call-in. Tell the supervisors what you think about what they are doing while they are doing it. Listen on KPOO radio, 89.5 FM or watch on Citywatch Channel 54. Call in number 554-6262 during the meeting.
Tired of "Big Government"?
Try "Big Business" Instead
President Clinton's declaration that "the era of big government is over" has now achieved cliche status and is applauded by millions, though it is menacing to many and misleading about what's going on.
The era of big government is, for example, obviously not over for the Pentagon, which is being slathered again in excess billions by a Congress in love with everything that kills. Whether it is over for the elderly is doubtful. The aged have a ferocious lobby and vote with a passion that terrifies the braves statesman.
It is people with no lobby who ought to shudder every time somebody happily declares, "The era of big government is over."
This bloc sans lobby is now being sized up as a potential source of corporate profit. Last week Lockheed Martin, which makes billions selling weapons to big government (the Pentagon), named a new senior vice president to put Lockheed into the business of running welfare-reform programs for profit.
It is not unreasonable to suppose that Lockheed, say, needing to please Wall Street by showing a constant rise in quarterly profits, would make some cruel judgments when moms apply for welfare. Such is the nature of the marketplace economy, now enshrined as the source of all that is good in American life.
If the era of big government is truly over (except
for the Pentagon), it is because Washington-Clinton,
Congress and all-has washed its hands of
government's toughest problems with a prayer that
shrewd bottom-line guys will find a way to convert
human misfortune into good numbers for Wall Street.