Disaster Recovery Basics

Ten days ago, the Los Angeles Times posted an article, “California lawmakers upset that wildfire money is left out of White House’s disaster aid request” because none of the $44 billion asked from Congress for disaster aid this month is going to fund rebuilding California.

The article notes:

Every day, Mike Thompson [Napa Valley Congressman] hears a new story about how last month’s fires in Northern California have affected people’s lives. Insurance is being denied. Tourism is down. Some companies have laid off workers.

“Block after block of homes are wiped out and cars are melted down to their skeletal remains,” the Napa Valley congressman said of his travels in Santa Rosa over the weekend.

California had asked for $7.4 billion after receiving $576.5 million for wildfires in October. The $7.4 billion that California was denied would have included money for temporary housing for victims among many other things needed to restore the northwest part of the state. The only relief the White House offered was “tax relief for those affected”.

For those who lost everything, here is a list of things we received when were moved out of our home by our insurance company after water damage in 2002. (See our story in my post, “Fire and Water – How Can We Cope?”) Continue reading →

A Thanksgiving Meditation for 2017

The old argument for having a government is called the “public goods theory”.

This reasoning goes like this. Everyone uses some kinds of goods or services, so everyone should help pay for them.

For example, everyone needs roads so they can get to other places.

In the beginning, wealthy people in America would get together and buy bonds in order to finance projects such as roads and bridges.

Then after a while came taxation. Taxation came about because of the great expense of wars against European colonial powers and the native peoples who already occupied what is now the United States.

However, as taxation grew bigger and more widespread over time, a lot of Americans became unhappy with the results,

It’s been said that human beings do not vote their pocketbooks; they vote their values. I don’t agree. I think we vote our unhappiness.

For example, we are all unhappy with our tax system, but for different reasons.

The see-sawing among two major parties in the US reflects the futility of trying to vote our unhappiness. Continue reading →

An Equitable Regional Public Transportation

Back when I lived in Spartanburg South Carolina in the seventies, I shared a car with my husband. One nice day while he was at work, I decided to go downtown to shop for clothes.

I walked the eight blocks downtown in the morning and bought some clothes. When I took them to the counter to pay, I was refused a credit card by the biggest department store in town unless my husband signed for it.

Disgusted by the store policy and reluctant to walk home in 100 degree heat, I boarded a bus.

The bus started by going in the opposite direction away from our apartment. As we wound for a hour through the outlying suburban areas the bus eventually filled up with African-American men and women. I looked around – startled to realize I was the only white person on the bus.

Spartanburg’s public transit served only black maids and gardeners hired by wealthy white people. Given this purpose it was the most efficient public transit system I’ve ever ridden.

All each worker had to do was walk straight out of their employer’s house or yard to the street where the bus stopped to pick each one up and drop them off in front of their home. However, it didn’t serve me, a consumer. because it took me an hour to get six blocks to my home.

Most urban public transit systems in this country aren’t equitable. They primarily exist to serve workers who don’t want to drive long distances or hunt for parking spaces, students, and poorer people. Continue reading →