I read today about people who run a seminar to help parents navigate the benefits available from the Los Angeles Unified School District. I salute their effort. The LAUSD is one more urban district which copes inadequately with challenges which arise from educating a population comprised of substantial folks who work hard for a living but don't make enough money to live in the suburbs. I don't criticize any parent for making any of the difficult choices inherent in schools--public, private, home-school, and so on--but I am a big fan of efforts to make the public schools the bastion, of well, everybody. To my mind, the excessive stratification of our educational system among "have" institutions and "have not" creates an undesirable enhancement of the social class system whose intensification over the past two decades is partially responsible for the unfortunate divides among people we experience nowadays. Programs to teach parents about magnet schools and resources and how to navigage the Los Angeles Unified School District are worth the trouble, and useful.
I keep waiting for movements to also effectively address other similar solvable social problems.
I am not thinking in this post of the really difficult ones like homelessness and treatment for those with severe mental illness. I mean instead the easy ones--like the movement to get people to buy fuel-efficient sedans instead of SUVs (my own bias is that although I favor world trade, and
drive a Korean-built car, my own next car will be a small American non-luxury car).
The recent spinach e.coli outbreak illustrates graphically the dangers that arise when we do not eat locally-grown food. There is really no good reason why spinach from one valley in California should bring an entire nation to its spinach-strenghthened knees. If we encouraged a system in which markets bought from local farmers, and consumers bought from farmers markets, we'd be safe not only from e.coli, the ultimate ideological terrorist (who believes, single-cell-mindedly, in living at the expense of others), but also from the less effective but more frightening human terrorists who will one day attack our food supply. The idea that a poison planted in Salinas California could affect someone in Maryland disquiets.
Among all the impressive acts of benevolence I read about in the press these days, I keep hoping a billionaire will just launch a non-profit which sponsors 100 free clinics in cities across the country. This would help bring costs down for everyone, as such clinics could gradually reduce the burden upon emergency rooms, the inefficient national health plan we have now because the lobbyists prevented us, very unwisely, from having a real national health plan.
I also think that it's time we had real mass transit nearly everywhere. We've saved the odd billion or two here, encouraged by lobbyists for car companies and oil companies. Now we take twenty five percent of our resources from totalitarian regimes which suppress the rights of all, and in particular the rights of women.
Someday soon I hope we have fewer e mails in Washington, and more realistic government.