Sunday, May 25, 2014

Let’s Eliminate Another Vestige of Gender Discrimination

Discrimination based on gender identity has been around a long time, even before the days of our Founding “Fathers.” While laws have been passed to ostensibly eliminate this discrimination, actions have been slow and inconsistent. We still don’t have an Equal Rights Amendment, women are typically paid less than men, and individuals who don’t fit into the binary male/female taxonomy, but rather live somewhere along or outside that spectrum, suffer even more discrimination.

Yet, in one area of New Jersey politics, we institutionalize that discrimination. Most county political committees elect two people from each election district and party. One position is designated for a “male” and the other for a “female.” It’s time to get rid of this anachronism.

Even ignoring the issues regarding the sexual spectrum, it’s simply not a good idea to restrict holding elective office to members who identify with a particular gender. If the best people to hold those positions in a district are two men, two women, or two individuals who identify as something else, why not allow them to vie for these positions?

Facebook has acknowledged that gender identification is not binary and allows its users to self-identify across a wide spectrum. It’s time to eliminate the “male” and “female” designation in the selection and election of county committeepeople.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Governor Corbett's Priorities

There were two school tragedies in the Delaware Valley this week. Young students in Philadelphia and Mount Laurel died while at school in two separate incidents. Both deaths appear to be due to natural causes.

Like most schools, the one that was attended by the first grader in Philadelphia was suffering from budget cuts. They had cut back on the services of a school nurse by making that a part-time position. The nurse was not on duty when the youngster in the South Philadelphia school stopped breathing.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett berated the unions for pointing out this fact. He used the occasion to bash the union for “politicizing” a tragedy. Corbett has his priorities wrong. Unions exist for more than assurance of fair wages. Unions promote safe working conditions and the overall welfare of people in the work environment. It was Corbett who politicized this event.

It seems like we have tons of money to put policemen in schools to keep the children safe from guns. But there’s no money to have full-time nurses to help with children’s health and be there for emergencies? Mr. Corbett is not the only one to have his priorities out of order.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Drill, Baby, Drill

No one likes going to the dentist. But it’s smart to get periodic dental checkups and taking care of any problems. It’s something we pay for, maybe grudgingly, but most people do it.

No one enjoys paying taxes either. But most Democrats, at least, understand that, like dental checkups, paying taxes is necessary to maintain a decent quality of life.

That’s why I will never vote for candidates whose platform is simply based on reducing taxes, especially if they refuse to provide a definitive list of services that they will cut and the impact of those cuts. Among the many candidates who pursue this nonsensical approach are the two GOP candidates for Congress in New Jersey’s Third District, Steve Lonegan and Tom MacArthur.

It’s legitimate to grouse about how the current tax system is structured and how the funds are distributed. I do that all the time. I hate that my tax money goes to Chris Christie’s self-promotion, enriching his cronies like AshBritt, and to corporate welfare. I’d rather see my tax dollars invested in our children, our infrastructure, and our environment – all areas that will boost our economy in the long run. And if a candidate runs on a platform that would modestly increase taxes and gives good rationale on why that’s necessary, I would consider giving that person my vote.

Overall, taxes today are lower than they have been for the last half-century. And we are paying for decades of Republican disdain for government and jingoistic discourses on taxation. Our infrastructure is crumbling. We are not making the investments that our parents and grandparents did. I doubt that the Apollo moon-landing program (whose ancillary technology and biomedical benefits are tremendous) could have happened with the attitude that our so-called leaders have today. Nor would we have had the Interstate Highway System (a Republican initiative) that we take for granted today. Medical research is suffering, as is our environment. The long-term costs of this lack of investment will haunt generations to come.

So if a candidate espouses a knee-jerk policy of tax reduction without an honest evaluation of the consequences, I can guarantee he or she will not get my support. Life is full of trade-offs, and candidates must tell us where they stand. If they want to eat tons of candy and skip the dentist, they don’t deserve to represent us.