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Color-blindness and racial justice

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Liberty and JusticeMuch of the recent race debate has focused on the anger of both blacks and whites. This is new; I know white people talk to white people about feeling ripped off by Affirmative Action, and I’m told black people talk to black people about past and present inequities. But, of course, we don’t talk to each other about such things, knowing one another irrational (a excuse, perhaps, for ignorance so vast that the other seems irrational).

I read today a post on TPM by Glenn Loury (a world-renowned social science scholar in residence at Brown University) that was critical of some parts of the Obama speech on race. In a comment to that post, a thoughtful reader (AJM) added this:

clipped from tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com
On a more serious level Obama explains to whites the anger of blacks in terms of the massive wrongs done to them in this society and then turns around and equates this to the anger of whites — immigrants in particular – to whom no such helping hand has been extended. It is as though he were equating the wrongs of growing up in slum areas with slum challenges in slum schools with facing the trauma of having your child compete for college slots with black competitors who have been granted a few extra points. . . . this may be the only option if we insist on being racially blind rather than racially just.
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Written by Monte

April 10, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Water-filled glasses, adjustable for anyone, may change 3rd-world life

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Check out this brilliant invention: These water-filled lenses can be produced by the millions and adjusted on-site by the users themselves, many of whom stand less than a one in a million chance of ever visiting with an optometrist.
clipped from www.core77.com

0A-Zulu-man-wearing-adapti-001.jpg
British inventor Josh Silver, a former professor of physics at Oxford University, has come up with a game-changer of a product design with his water-lensed glasses.[…]
Inside the device’s tough plastic lenses are two clear circular sacs filled with fluid, each of which is connected to a small syringe attached to either arm of the spectacles.

The wearer adjusts a dial on the syringe to add or reduce amount of fluid in the membrane, thus changing the power of the lens. […]

[W]ith very little guidance people are perfectly capable of creating glasses to their own prescription […]
Silver’s goal is to help the hundreds of millions of people in developing countries who suffer from poor eyesight […]
[I]n Ghana, Silver met a man … who had been forced to retire as a tailor because he could no longer see to thread the needle … He was about 35…
“We put these specs on him, and he smiled, and threaded his needle, and sped up with this sewing machine. He can work now. He can see …”
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Life-changing, don’t you think?


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Written by Monte

January 2, 2009 at 11:19 pm

What percent of US budget goes to foreign aid?

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Public Perception of Foreign Aid

Developmental Aid by National Income

Center for Global Development (some rights reserved: click graph)

We Americans guess, on average, that 24% of our federal budget goes to development assistance. The real number? Less than one per cent.

Despite laudable recent increases in US giving to reduce poverty, US aid as a percent of personal income is second to last among wealthy nations.

We give about 25 cents per American per day [correction:] year in foreign aid; with private giving, another dime. It’s a lot, in total, because there are a lot of us. But it’s far behind the level of sacrifice made by people in most developed nations.

Further, according to the Borgen Project:

  • Less than half of aid from the United States goes to the poorest countries
  • The largest recipients are strategic allies such as Egypt, Israel, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • Israel is the richest country to receive U.S. assistance ($77 per Israeli compared to $3 per person in poor countries).

But look what can be done:

  • The U.S. was the largest single donor in a global campaign that eradicated smallpox from the world by 1977.
  • The U.S. provided funding for a program to prevent river blindness in West Africa. As a result of these efforts, 18 million children now living in the program’s region are free from the risk of river blindness.

(Center for Global Development)

We can do better, at home and abroad.

Borgen cites the cost of two B-2 bombers ($4.4 billion) compared with the the annual budget for the World Food Program (largest relief agency in the world) which assists 104 million starving and malnourished people in 81 countries. Its budget? $3.2 billion.

Why not change it?  We can, you know.  Once we separate the illusions from the facts.


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Written by Monte

September 29, 2008 at 9:06 pm

Out from bigotry (sermon for August 17, 08)

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And a bit about white privilege …

Isaiah 56:1, 6-8

1 This is what the LORD says: “Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed.[…]

Something’s about to happen – what is it [a revelation of God], and so what do we do? Maintain justice,” Isaiah has God saying, “and do what is right.”

6 And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve him, to love the name of the LORD, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant-
7 these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer.

Who’s this about now? Foreigners. And those who will follow God from any land (though following God is described here in Jewish terms, of course), gain a rich welcome to the presence of God.  Watch:

Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

I love it!  “A house of prayer for all nations.”  Is this just about white middle-class Americans like me?  Nope. Read the rest of this entry »

You know the Voice [sermon for April 13, 2008]

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His Masters VoiceFourth Sunday of Easter

April 13, 2008—Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 23; 1 Peter 2:19-25; John 10:1-10

Let’s say you breed beautiful, valuable hunting dogs. You have new puppies. You keep them in your fenced yard.

One afternoon, you come home early, walk into the house, look out the kitchen window. You’re watch the puppies play – when a stranger pops his head up beyond the fence, looks around, throws one leg over, and rolls over into the yard. Read the rest of this entry »