Sunday, January 22, 2017

January 2017 - LA CULTURA CURA

Resistance to Official Government Bigotry

January 14  Marches for Immigrant, Refugee & Worker Rights  

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Voces de la Frontera 

  Cesar Chavez Park, San Jose, California

SEIU workers at the  march in San Jose, California

January 16th - Martin Luther King Day in San Francisco, California

Street art for children expressing their dreams:  Hillary Clinton for President

January 20, 2017  -  Inauguration Day - San Francisco, California

Inauguration Day rally, United Nations Plaza.  F.D.R saw the U.N. as a means to peace as opposed to nationalistic fascism that Trump advocates.

“We are more united than ever; this is the first day of resistance.” San Francisco Labor Council leader.

January 21 -  Women's March in San Francisco

“All over the Bay Area on Saturday massive crowds overflowed sidewalks, streets and parks … (declaring) they would oppose the new administration’s agenda whenever they see It opposing them.”  

San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday January 22, 2017   


Questions from Monique – our 7 year old grand-daughter:  
Why are we doing this?  
Will anyone notice? 
Will it do any good?  
Satisfied with Mama and Grandma’s responses, she went with them to protest. 

Simone Weil, notable French philosopher of the 1930’s and 40’s, quoted by Howard Zinn, A Peoples History of the United States, p. 412.

Whether the mask is labeled Fascism, Democracy, or Dictatorship of the Proletariat, our great adversary remains the APARATUS – the bureaucracy, the police, the military.  Not the one facing us across the frontier or the battle-lines, … but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us slaves.  No matter what the circumstances the worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this APARATUS and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and others.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Working Catholic: Family Stability, Part III By Bill Droel and John Erb

In this and previous installments on this blog site we attempt to put a small frame around the expansive topic of family stability. We now come to a controversial juncture.

The Lifestyle Variable

Income parallels family stability. Family stability parallels lifestyle. That is, some lifestyles are more conducive to family stability than others. It is important to repeat that the relationship among these three factors (money, lifestyle and stability) plus other factors is not an easy cause-and-effect. That is, we cannot say that because there is a strong association between a specific lifestyle and stability, a change in lifestyle automatically causes more stability or less stability.

Further, we recognize that people do not wake up each morning and choose a lifestyle. It is like one’s spirituality. Despite what the self-help gurus imply, one’s spirituality is to a significant degree conditioned by one’s heritage, by the surrounding culture and by many experiences. A lifestyle too is in part an imitation or rejection of one’s parental example, an imitation or rejection of one’s cultural environment and a continuation of or break with one’s many experiences.

And finally—because this is controversial—this essay does not measure love; as if anyone can do so. All types of families cherish their members and love their children. Just as sadly, all types and income levels of families are capable of callousness; a parent in any income bracket can be distant from his or her children.

Family living arrangements or lifestyles can include a two-parent married family, two-parent non-married family, one-parent family with one partner for that parent, one-parent family with multiple partners for the parent and more. Upper economic class families, for the most part, are of the two-parent married type and, as this essay shows, those families are relatively stable over the years. The median income for one of these married-couple families, presuming each parent is employed at least part-time, is $104,000. Many families in the lower economic categories are likely to be two-parent non-married families or one-parent families. These families have greater degree and duration of instability.

Interestingly, the education gap is a mirror image of this family stability index. In excess of 90% of college graduates use the institution of marriage and those families tend to be relatively stable. Those who lack a degree do not always marry. These families have higher instability.

The non-married type of lifestyle has been increasing. In fact, last year the majority of living arrangements in the United States were between unmarried couples. Interestingly too, there is no longer a race gap when it comes to marriage. That is, white families now have a percentage of non-married or single heads of the household that approximates the percentage among black families.

And as our chart to follow will show, a clear majority of Americans are economically stressed.

A Political Variable; Maybe Not

Pundits incessantly speak and write about a polarized citizenry. Our chart provides strong basis for a proposition that the polarization is not so much driven by cultural philosophies, as it is by economic insecurity. The number of Americans who are economically stressed continues to grow. Outsider political candidates will continue to appeal to the economically stressed. Yet, so-called Beltway insiders and many pundits dismiss these outsider challengers. That is because they are not really in touch with the financial realities facing a majority of Americans.

To repeat once more: Our chart (in the next installment of this series) shows that economic stress visits the majority of families—sometimes almost constantly.

Stay in touch through INITIATIVES (PO Box 291102, Chicago, IL 60629), a print newsletter on faith and work.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Working Catholic: Family Stability By Bill Droel and John Erb

Part II
In a series of essays on this blog site we examine the factors that determine family stability or instability, which as we previously wrote, are namely income and a few socio-cultural trends. We stress that these factors do not form a neat equation nor does one of the factors necessarily cause another; simply that a few stability factors parallel one another.

The Geography Variable

First, wages and cost of living vary from state-to-state, from region-to-region. New York City is, for example, higher income and higher cost; Mississippi or Alabama is lower income and lower cost. To have a top 1% income in the New York City region requires nearly $1.4million annual (much higher for the top 1/10th%). Meanwhile, an annual income of about $100,000 equals top 1% in parts of Mississippi and Alabama.

Second, higher income families are concentrated within specific metropolitan areas and specific areas of a state. So too, lower income families are concentrated within certain city neighborhoods, certain rural areas or certain state regions. In the mythological Lake Wobegon Chatterbox CafĂ©, an unemployed farmhand can sit at a table with the town banker. That is unlikely anywhere else. Higher income people do not share the same space as middle income or lower income people—not even at the football stadium, or the airport, or at church.

Third, some commentators refer to cultural/political geography. They mean our country can be divided (or color-coded) into, on one hand, East Coast and West Coast and, on the other hand, Middle America. This essay and its accompanying income chart imply that such geographical politics is metaphorical at best. Our important concern is stability for the majority of families—East Coast, West Coast and Middle America.

The Education Variable

Prior to 1980 young adults in our country were adequately educated to meet the needs of the marketplace. That is, a sufficient number had sufficient education in the trades, accounting, secretarial skills, engineering and more. Since 1980 the needs of employers have steadily outpaced educational attainment. Thus, as is often said today, a college degree is a necessity. The word degree is crucial.

With individual exceptions, income strongly parallels a college degree: Those who have a degree also have some family security and a modicum of upward mobility. Those without a degree more likely experience instability and remain stuck at their family’s income level. 
There are two related points to make about a college degree and income.

First, those young adults whose parents hold a degree are more likely to attend college than other young adults and they are much more likely to complete college. A young adult whose parents did not complete college is not as likely to enroll in college or once enrolled is more likely to drop out. Mentioning this college degree gap feels un-American because education is thought to be an economic leveler. A young adult who studies and works hard can, the theory says, do better economically than the previous generation. According to the American promise, no one is condemned to their parents’ income level. Unfortunately, this promising theory has not been the reality. Those born between 1960 and 1980 have, on average, a 60% chance of exceeding their parents’ income. Those born after 1980 have, on average, a 50% chance of ever exceeding their parents.

The second related point tells us that not all college degrees are equal. About 8% of those billionaires who hold a U.S. passport also have a Harvard University degree. Other Ivy League schools account for a similar percentage of billionaires. The remaining top 10% in income also hold degrees from Ivy League or major state colleges or in fewer cases from one of the well-known Catholic colleges. On the next step down, that of an aspiring upper-middle class family, the student’s degree comes from a Catholic college or a less prestigious state school; followed by other schools, public and private.

A quick digression about dropping out of college: In a public, four-year college about 60% obtain a degree within six years; about 40% have dropped out. In a private, four-year college the graduation rate is about 65% within six years; about 35% never finish.

A community college can be a start, but the full bachelor’s degree is the factor that parallels a better income. In Illinois, to take one example, only about 21% of community college students complete a program there within three years. Of those who begin at a community college only about 15% go on to a bachelor’s degree within six to eight years.

Why do students drop out? Tuition becomes too expensive; the tension between studies and a job becomes unmanageable; someone in the family is ill; the student or spouse loses a job; a baby is born. As significantly, though not as frequently discussed, is a student’s lack of confidence in study habits like perseverance, curiosity, concentration, resourcefulness, creativity and more. They are unprepared to take apart a textbook, to know what is important in class and what is not so important, to write paragraphs that flow one from the other, to stick with a problem, to manage time knowing when to take overtime on the job and when to concentrate on school. Rather than confidently finding help with their studies, too many students drift away.

To be continued…

Monday, January 2, 2017

Patty Crowley - Lay Pioneer (1913–2005) by William Droel

Comment by Bill Lange

This forty-two page booklet is an excellent tool for discussion and for discerning the role for the laity in these dark times.  Patty Crowley, a Roman Catholic, was the co-founder of the Christian Family Movement (CFM) with her husband Pat. This is an account of the 'run-up' to Vatican II in Chicago and the post Vatican II 'burn out'. 

This short story of Patty's life has something in it for all faith groups doing organizing for social justice action.

Some quotes from the booklet:

“The birth control issue has ‘escalated into a position far beyond its importance.  War, peace, poverty and social justice seem more urgent … to Christ in the world.’”  Patty Crowley p. 24

“Patty likewise anticipated Vatican II’s emphasis on autonomous lay leadership as she considered relationship to the Chancery.” p. 29

 CFM analysis was inspired by the Cardijn movement in Europe; the mantra was experience based – observe, judge, and act. p. 6.

The Communion hymn for Patty’s funeral intoned – “CFM – emerges. Amen.”  “To spread a simple notion. Amen.”  “Observe, Judge and Act. Amen.” P.4
“In keeping with Vatican II theology, Christians who tackle social problems should ordinarily cooperate ecumenically.” “The Crowley’s understood this kind of practical ecumenism.”  p. 30

“In the summer of 1960 she (Patty Crowley) started a Democratic Women’s Club in Wilmette to promote the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy.” p. 33.

This booklet can be ordered from the National Center for the Laity, P.O. Box 291102, Chicago, IL  60629 for a nominal donation.