March 2002

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Women's History Month

Sat., Sun., March 2, 3Teach In

Waging Peace: Shaping a Just U.S. Policy in the Middle East. This conference

will address the global challenges before us by a distinguished panel of

speakers. Two locations: S.F. Unitarian Universalist Church and Interna-

tional House, UC­Berkeley. More info: American Friends Service

Committee 415/565-0201.

Tues., March 5 1:00­3:00 p.m.

Board meeting at the office. All welcome!

Fri., March 8 International Women's Day

Third annual Global Women's Strike. Call 415/626-4114 for local times and places.

Sat., March 9 11:00 a.m.

S.F. Senior Political Action Committe meeting at 730 Polk St.

All welcome. Free.

Tues., March 19 12:30­3:00 p.m.

General meeting. Pre-Earth Day environmental information panel and discussion. First Unitarian Church, Franklin and Geary.

Sat., March 23 10:30 a.m.­12:15 p.m.

OWL: A Celebration of Women's History Month. Marian Branch will lead the meeting through a look at several of history's most memorable women. Free. Info, 415/989-4422.

Sun., March 24 11:00 a.m. (start)

Cesar E. Chavez Holiday Parade & Festival. 11:00 a.m.: Assemble foot of Market St. Noon : Parade on Market St. 1:00 p.m.: Program and

Festival, Civic Center Plaza.

Sat., April 20 11:00 a.m.­5:00 p.m.

People's Earth Day: Environmental Justice, Green Energy and Com-

munity Health Fair, India Basin Park, Bayview/Hunters Point.

Featuring music, food, kids' activities, info and community protest at PG&E power plant.

Righting a Wrong

A pre­Earth day information panel, featuring representatives of environmental groups who are intimately involved in improving, protecting and repairing the environmental balance, are the advocates at our March 19 meeting.

Dana Lanza, from Literacy for Environmental Justice (LEJ), Maurice Campbell of Community First Coalition (CFC) and Marie Harrison of Greenaction will update the federally mandated clean-up of toxins and radioactive waste at the abandoned Naval Shipyards and the hoped for demise of the Hunters Point Power Plant. They will answer your questions and discuss your concerns about what is involved in these projects and how the Gray Panthers can help and promote these efforts through joining their organizations and lending a helping hand. Everyone is welcome!

Inspiration Motivation Action

Some 30 people braved decidedly inclement weather to attend our Febrary meeting which essentially focused on local democracy. The meeting started with a short video presentation of Bill Moyers' film, The Road to Clean Elections. The film described campaign finance reform in Maine and Arizona, its path to acceptance and the salutary effects, so far.

Opening speaker Ginny Vida, Executive Director of the San Francisco Ethics Commission, described the planned implementation of Proposition O in the upcoming November election.We passed Prop. O two years ago to provide public funds for qualified candidates for the Board of Supervisors. It is the City's first step toward campaign finance reform, minimal and voluntary, but at least a beginning. Vida described the parameters to which candidates must conform in order to gain the promised City funds.

The balance of discussion focused on the March 5 ballot, most specifically on Prop A, the instant run-off plan for upcoming Board of Supervisors election. This is a limited form of proportional representation. Convenor Wende Chan presented the League of Women Voters analysis of propositions on the ballot. Our own S.F. Board of Directors has backed Prop A, and the Regional Gray Panthers and the Council of California Seniors recommend Yes on 40, 43, 44, 45 and No on 42.

But whatever your own take is on any of these proposals, everyone recommends that you VOTE!

Regional Meeting

The first 2002 meeting of the Northern California Gray Panthers networks on February 9 in Walnut Creek, was hosted by Central Contra Costa. The five other networks present included Berkeley, Sacramento, Marin, Mendocino and San Francisco. Wende, Mary Frances and Mitzi represented San Francisco.

Among the issues discussed at some length were the health forum meeting, follow-up activity for single payer/universal health care, campaign finance reform and civil liberties. Doris Copperman of Central Contra Costa brought good news from the national Gray Panthers office of financial solvency and movement on corporate pharmaceutical reform. Our congratulations were sent to Tim Fuller, national executive director.

Wide­Ranging Issues Coordinator

Aroza Simpson, our network's co-convenor and issues coordinator, is an untiring explorer of issues and organizations that are, or could be, part of the Gray Panthers' franchise. Among her most recent forays are:

· Attendance at California Clean Money Campaign meetings in Sausalito and S.F. The CCMC plans to present a draft initiative in 2004 and in the meantime they need activists to get involved.

· Followup and plan of action to achieve the Health Care Options agreed to in the recent State symposium (see above).

· Action on subjects featured in the newsletter of Literacy for Environmental Justice within our motto, Age and Youth in Action.

If these are your interests too, contact Aroza at 415/567-5348.

State Health Forum

Nine plans for expanding California state health care were presented at an all-day symposium in Oakland on February 7. The meeting was one of several held around the state to explain the proposed options and invite public input.

Of the nine plans, four were incremental, two were "pay or play," and three were universal single payer. Incremental plans build on current programs, gradually improving what is now offered, expanding aid to the poorest first, using delivery and financing systems now in place, with means tests. "Pay or play" offer inducements to employers to provide more widespread health plan coverage, either directly or through a state tax. The three universal single payer plans all cover everybody with a single health delivery card but differ in financing and delivery systems, ranging from a complete public health model where all personnel are salaried and work for a government entity to a set-up similar to what exists today with private providers, HMOs and insurance company involvement. Only the universal plans covered people over 65; presumably the others assumed Medicare was perfectly adequate.

At a show of hands, the self-selected audience of over 200 was overwhelmingly for universal single payer. The program now must consolidate the three plans into one and mount an immediate statewide drive to get them implemented.

As Sick as It Gets

by Rudolph Mueller, M.D.

"over a million people are seriously ill with diseases that could have been prevented if they lived in Europe, Australia, Canada or Japan. The average American becomes disabled sooner, spends a greater portion of his life disabled and is more likely to die a premature death...."

Doctor Mueller documents the greedy for-profit health care system that threatens all but the very wealthy in United States. It is wortlh reading this book for information to help argue for universal health care. The book is sprinkled with anecdotal accounts of patients as he tries to give a face to the people suffering from lack of health care.

"The pharmacy industry was the most profitable in America in 1999 with an average of 18.6% profit after taxes on revenue. It outpaced the technology and other major industriespaying less taxes than other Fortune 500 companies..." Information on pharmaceutical companies, their extraordinary rate of profit and how they maintain the flow of cash is well worth reading as is the comparison of overall health in the United States compared to other similar countries

The weakness in the book is that little is discussed regarding racism and the resultant lack of medical care. And in the same vein it lacks any class analysis in regard to the over-all health of people who labor in physically demanding jobs.

In my opinion, it will take a long hard fight involving masses of people to win a real national health plan. The Canadian plan came into being after a long struggle by labor, militants and other progressive thinking people, such as Norman Bethune, M.D. one of the first proponents of a national health plan for Canada. Even now, Canadians are facing an uphill battle to keep a national health plan as U.S. insurance companies attempt to dismantle it through NAFTA.

If the Fortune 500 paid their fair share, health care for all could easily be a reality. (Enron paid no taxes for the previous four years, yet received $3.5 million rebate in taxes!) The $3 trillion in taxes Bush is lavishing on corporate America would not only pay for a lot of health care but could also subsidiz education to train physicians, nurses and technicians!

Advocating his arguments for national health care, Doctor Mueller quotes Albert Einstein:

"Only a life lived for others is worth living."

Published by Olin Frederick, Inc, Dunkirk, N.Y. $22.95 Reviewed by Gretchen Davis

The Newsletter of the San Francisco Gray Panthers is published each month, and distributed free of charge to members and friends of this nonprofit organization.

Editorial Board: Rebecca Hirshleifer, Mitzi Raas; Publisher, Astrid M. Spector; Art Director, Fannie Biderman; Proof, Lurilla Harris; Circulation: Harold Greenblatt and Mary Francis Smith. Printed by Graffik Natwicks; Webpage design: Barry Simpkins

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