Dream Legacy: Help Fix Prop 13 in California

I had a little cup of coffee to stay awake during last night’s lecture in Cuba. I don’t drink coffee and so it works way too well. Here I am at 3 a.m. awake. Thinking about Prop 13. I’m getting back in the habit of asking the universe, “Should I continue trying to sleep or what?” and I get the response, “Get your computer and blog about Prop 13.” Okay.

Here’s a paragraph with very quick background information for you. Anti-tax Proposition 13 was passed in California two years BEFORE 1980 when Ronald Reagan was elected president and supposedly started the tax revolt in the U.S.A. Actually, the tax revolt started in California — and then spread like wildfire — in 1978 three years into the first 8-year governorship of JERRY BROWN. That’s when Prop 13 passed in California. Had Jerry Brown come up with a different initiative for resolving the huge property tax crisis? No. Did he use his and the Democratic Party’s significant power to stop Prop 13 from passing? No. Have they changed Prop 13 for the better during the past almost 40 years? No. That’s the background paragraph.

I have spent almost a year backing off from politics. Healing in a sense; trying to recover my hope that another world is possible; thinking a lot about the meaning of “faith” as it relates to political work. As I’ve said, I realize I’ve got politics under my skin, and the bottom line for me — the thing it seems I am supposed to do as my piece of the puzzle — is to help fix Prop 13 in my beloved adopted, and outrageously important, state of California. As my California valentine to Prop 13 goes, “Honey, I love you, but you’ve got to change.” My favorite button, that I wear always on my backpack and often on my jacket is “Tax The Rich. Duh.”

Why TAX THE RICH? I used to think the main reason was to have the funds to improve health, education and welfare — not to mention equality for all and the pursuit of happiness. I still see that as an important reason. However, as the disparity of wealth marches on and grows year by year in the state and country, I have become very focused on the absolute necessity to TAX THE RICH in order to stop the extreme concentration of WEALTH that leads inevitably to an extreme CONCENTRATION OF POWER. The opposite of democracy. A situation in which the very few make decisions that affect the many. Decisions that affect our jobs, homes, schools. food, water. Our selves, our parents, our children. Not only the opposite of democracy, but also the opposite of freedom.

It’s pretty clear that when we do not tax the rich, they are able to use that extra money to buy power, in the form of media and politicians. When we tax them appropriately (meaning, they can still get richer, just not filthy rich), then we can retain democracy. Is that clear?

In California, Prop 13 has been a huge obstacle to taxing the rich. To reigning in their power.

I think I’ll try to get a little more sleep before we go to some special communities in Cuba tomorrow, starting in about 4 hours.

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CUBA – more questions, Cuba now!

We boarded, we landed, toured, checked in at hotel, got an internet card for $4.50 an hour (and boy do I miss looking up anything whenever I want on my cell phone, like the Spanish name of the Bee Hummingbird, zunzun…, the smallest bird in the world, found only in Cuba. I’ll find out, goodness, I’ll just have to get used to delayed instead of instant gratification relating to my curiosity.)
(5) Will I get to dance, salsa, bachata, cumbia, cha cha, rumba, bolero, whatever?

Some of the following questions I gathered from friends:
(6)  What do Cubans expect to happen as this process unfolds?
(7)  What censorship is there from the Cuban government?
(8)  Can you access anything/everything that’s on the internet?
(9)  What changed after the Elian Gonzalez affair? (In 2000, when Elian was 6, there was a struggle over whether he should live in the USA or Cuba.)
(10) What things are there that Cubans would like us to learn from their experience?
(11) Has there been talk, from Fidel Castro and other Cubans, about whether they should have held direct elections for president in the past, or hold them in the future?
(12) Who can be a candidate for president?
(13) How sustainable is Cuba? (World Wildlife Fund, I believe, was the entity that named Cuba as the one nation that is living sustainably.) What about their chickens, cows, pigs?
(14) How are Cubans doing related to creativity?
(15) Does Cuba have global warming strategies?
(16) Per something I read from a friend’s Lonely Planet guide, published a few years back: are there places that only tourists may go, where you are prohibited if you don’t have a foreign passport?
(17) From my brother Harry, who lives in Florida, “So they have healthcare for all, but when Fidel needed good healthcare he went to the French. My right-wing magazines, whether you agree with their philosophy or not, do their research.” So, did Fidel get healthcare from the French?

That’s it for now. I already have some answers, and I’ll get more perspectives before I return on April 29!

CUBA – at MIA airport, leaving for Cuba!

I have a few minutes to share my questions about Cuba. (And I’m doing this 2nd blog just 2 days after the introduction to my new blog!) Questions for my Cuba trip, random from my yellow pad.
(1) What are the hopes and fears of the Cuban people related to the normalization of relations between the US and Cuba? And how do they differ according to age group. Anyone 55 or younger never experienced the dictatorship that was overthrown as of January 1, 1959.
(2) Religion and spirituality: is it valued? respected? embraced?
(3) Is the 2-type money system getting better or worse for the Cuban people?
(4) Will I be able to see some of the wonderful birds they have there and nowhere else in the world. Like the Bee Hummingbird, zunzuncita or something like that.
Oops we/re boarding!

INTRODUCTION

Hello, and welcome to the first edition of my new blog. This introduction will cover what this blog is intended to be, and how it came about.

I have decided to have two sections, THE POLITICAL and THE PERSONAL. What the heck. It feels right to have two separate sections, though I bet I’ll often find it difficult to decide which is which, or where to put what, and so my apologies in advance for the mix-ups. One reason I’m doing a section on the personal is that although I’ve heard the advice to make blogs and tweets personal, I haven’t followed that advice much. I felt self-conscious about doing that, and, to tell the truth, it’s related to my hating the word “vulnerable.” People tell me, and even an author interviewed on public radio KPFA tells me, that there is power and strength in allowing yourself to be vulnerable. To be known.

I don’t mean to be so serious, but I am a Capricorn and they say we tend toward serious, even as children. Supposedly we grow younger as we get older. That always sounded like a good trait and at age 67, I’m ready. (Yikes, I hate to admit my age. THAT makes me feel vulnerable. Of course, being a baby boomer, I’m sure I don’t LOOK 67, and anyway, according to boomers, the 60s are the new 40s). Despite my seriousness I do believe that the ultimate feminist statement is “girls just want to have fun.” I know that’s true about me. We just want to have fun, which leads to the questions: What is all this crap that’s going on and how can we create a more fun world? That’s THE POLITICAL section. It’s all related. Political. Personal.

In the past I have run for state office in California as a Green Party candidate, beginning in 2002, when we ran the first full slate of Green candidates for statewide office. I ran for Controller in 2002, 2006, then Governor in 2010 (a good year to “Follow The Money” I thought, since we had just suffered a global financial meltdown), and then Controller again in 2014.

I’m recovering.

For the past year I have loved NOT trying to convince anybody of anything. At least I’ve been trying not trying to convince people of anything. It’s really difficult. Sometimes people say the best way to effect change is to model it rather than promote it. Lately I’m thinking that advice is just another way to say, “Shut up.” If we’re just being models instead of advocates, everybody is off the hook. Business as usual. For the past year I’ve been trying to just shut up and live with the way things are. I sometimes hate the phrase, “it is what it is” when it just sounds defeatist.

My last campaign (not just “latest,” but last, I hope) was actually successful in the pathetic terms of our pathetic democracy. As a “third party candidate” I received 5.7% of the vote. Ellen Brown, author of books “Web of Debt” and “Public Banking Solution” got 6.6% in her run for Treasurer of California. We ran as partners, advocating public banking. I expected Ellen to do well, and to break the existing record for percentage of votes received by a Green in a partisan statewide race in California. (That makes me smile: the record she broke was my record from 2002, when I got 5.9% of the vote and it took 10 days to figure out which of the “big two” won.)

The “big two” just reminded me of the “big three” automakers. I grew up partly in Detroit and then went to college there. We all know how the “big three” automakers ultimately trashed Detroit into looking like a war zone, a war zone with some wonderful people with a lot of heart and soul currently staging a regeneration there. We hope. The “big two” political parties have trashed our country. Worsening education and healthcare and  environment and justice-for-all and deepening disparity of wealth.

So, is this train of thought personal or political? I think it’s personal. I’ll try to make The Political section more in line with the slogan of my recent campaigns, “There Are Solutions.” As a preview, the main solution is to use every bit of power you have. And we people have a lot more power than we think, and we can have a lot more fun exercising it for a better world than we think. It is a huge irony that the folks who know how much power people have are the 0.1% who have all the money. They know it; we don’t; and they work diligently to keep us thinking we’re powerless.

* * *

After the June 2014 primary, I thought of myself as burned out but after awhile I realized I was not burned out. I had plenty of energy, but I had to back away from politics. For me backing away meant only doing political things that I really wanted to do, and not doing things just because “I should.”

Rather than “burned out,” what I was after the June 2014 primary was disgusted. It reminds me of an interview I read about Michael Moore when he was filming Bowling for Columbine. He saw the site of the mass killings at the high school in Columbine, and realized that people had obediently stayed behind the lines set out by the officials, even after the shooting had stopped and who knows who might have been saved if the parents and others had just said, “Hell no,  forget this yellow plastic barrier, I’m going in there!” Michael Moore had to stop filming for a week before he could continue in the face of realizing the passivity people were capable of even when it involved the lives of their children. I’m on a flight right now, and thinking about this makes me feel tears wanting to spill out from behind my eyes. It is said and I believe that one of the hardest things anyone has to bear is the death of a child.

The point (I love Ellen DeGeneres for saying, “My point, and I do have one…”) is that people have so much more power than we use. We have voted for people who are not on our side just because we think they have a chance of beating the “other major candidate” who’s “even worse.” Or we don’t vote at all, chalking it up to voter fraud and it doesn’t make any difference anyway, and it just encourages this system, and, and, and. I always want to excuse individuals and blame the system, but this time I was disgusted with people’s behavior. I needed to back away to get focused again on this destructive system.

This past year friends and family have said to me, “I’m so glad you’re not doing politics anymore.” I tell them sorry, it’s only temporary. Like the song I’ve heard many times since I learned ballroom dancing a few years back, “I’ve got you under my skin.” That’s politics. It’s under my skin: doing whatever it is that’s “on my plate to do” in the world.

P.S. I’m hoping for my sake, and apologizing for your sake, that I just write this stuff and post it without endless rewrites. I do want to make it readable, and I know I need to deal with the stream of consciousness mode that seems to be my innate style. I’m thinking maybe, for the sake of those it bothers — and I’m afraid it may particularly be those of you who’ve been raised as men — I could put the really bad tangents in parentheses and if it drives you totally crazy you can just look for the ending parentheses and I’ll try to have the main line make sense. But that sounds like it would violate my goal to just WRITE it, shape it up adequately, and POST it. You have no idea how many un-posted blogs and un-sent letters I have written in my life. Fear, I think, is the culprit. Perfectionism is mostly fear. Ah well. We’re about an hour from the Atlanta airport and I think I’ll do something else now. By the way, I’m writing this while I’m on my way to Cuba for the first time.

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