Food for Thought from NYT's Kristof

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Food for Thought from NYT's Kristof

Post by Rach3 » Sat May 01, 2021 5:13 pm

Some thoughts from NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof:

Roosevelt's New Deal transformed my hometown

Senator Mitch McConnell denounces President Biden’s “multitrillion-dollar shopping list” as just a “gigantic tax-and-spend colossus.” But my column today argues that this is exactly wrong. The Biden plan isn’t an expense but an investment in Americans, and probably a high-return investment.

My column looks back at how Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal transformed my hometown of Yamhill, Ore., population 1,000 on a good day. Jobs programs preserved the social fabric and built trails that I hike every year. Rural electrification connected homes to the grid and hugely expanded output and opportunity. And a $27,000 grant provided 90 jobs to build Yamhill-Carlton High School, which I attended and which remains in use. The New Deal also provided the G.I. Bill of Rights, which increased education and homeownership in the area.

Yet now my community and much of America is suffering. Blue collar America is struggling, and a third of the kids on my old school bus have perished from “deaths of despair.” We devoted huge sums as taxpayers to incarcerating my friends and their kids; Biden offers a more compassionate and effective proposal to invest in them and lift them up, as Roosevelt did.

Arguments About Portland and All It Represents

Lots of readers were surprised and indignant by my recent column warning that Portland protests had gone too far, creating challenges for the order and well-being of a great city. Dave L. said this: “Public order is unjust, so screw your order. Stop killing Black people, and we’ll have some quiet …

“When you rail against people who get mad at the killer cop system and break windows, you draw a line around what is acceptable protest and permit only quiet protest, which, I think we know, doesn’t work. Disruption is required to attract attention. If some are turned off, others are awakened. We need a revolution in values, and a revolution is not made solely by quiet reasoning.”

So let me push back to Dave and others. The point of activism is, I believe, to create a better city, state or country, and violent protests simply don’t accomplish that. Far-left white protesters have somehow believed that they are advancing racial justice when they vandalize a Portland Boys and Girls Club that serves Black and brown youth, or when they attack Black-owned businesses or vandalize a history museum. Portland is on track to have a record 100 murders this year. How does any of that advance racial justice? Not surprisingly, a group of Black Portland leaders recently signed a joint letter denouncing these violent protesters.

My Times colleague Mike Baker quoted Margaret Carter, the first Black woman in the Oregon Legislature, as saying: “Now you walk around and see all the graffiti, buildings being boarded up. I get sick to my stomach. And I get angry.” Lots of people feel that way, and every additional smashed window or looted shop is a vote not for racial justice but in fact results in a vote for a candidate who wants to reduce voting rights.

Portland policing has been unjust, and peaceful protests are an important tool to seek justice. But it is possible to seek racial justice, economic justice and environmental justice without setting buildings on fire. I understand frustrations, and I share them, but vandalism makes things worse rather than better.

Our Tax Dollars at Work … in Guantánamo

There’s not much mention in the news of the detention facility at Guantánamo these days, perhaps partly because of exhaustion with it. But it continues to damage America’s image globally and is a huge waste of resources. It currently costs $13 million per inmate per year to house the increasingly geriatric prisoners (the oldest is 73). How is it that we can’t afford universal medical care for children, or drug treatment for their parents, yet we can afford to lavish $13 million per person per year on Guantánamo? Time to close the prison there.

With Mother’s Day a Week Away …

If you’re looking for a present for Mother’s Day, check out the Mothers’ Day Movement. This year it is supporting a nonprofit that provides clean drinking water to Navajo communities.

The Navajo are on my mind because they did a superb job wrestling the pandemic to the ground. And now they have decided to provide PPE to India to help it with its fight against the virus. The Navajo inspired us as they fought the disease, and now they inspire us as they demonstrate their humanity to others who are suffering. Seems appropriate for us to help them with something most of us take for granted: clean water.

Psst. Some Great Investment Advice.

The highest-return investment in the world today is not in private equity, nor with hedge funds. It’s in early childhood programs for disadvantaged kids at home or abroad.

Here in America, one reason anti-poverty efforts aren’t more successful is that we often start too late. Frederick Douglass observed: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

That’s what the three-part Biden plan would do. Just as FDR transformed America and helped build the modern middle class, the Biden plan would be an engine of opportunity.

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Re: Food for Thought from NYT's Kristof

Post by maestrob » Sun May 02, 2021 7:49 am

I've admired Nick Kristoff for as long as I've been reading him. His willingness to roll up his sleeves and dig into issues like China's human rights abuses, human trafficking, the desolation of his classmates in Oregon as good jobs have deserted rural areas, the opioid crisis, not to mention his trips to areas of poverty in the world with a motivated student each year, all have captured my attention and respect.

He really knows his stuff. Would that I had even 10% of his courage.

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