Commentary

Why thousands will come to Raleigh tomorrow for the HK on J Moral March

Moral March on RaleighAs was explained here earlier this week, there are lots of excellent reasons to bundle up and head to downtown Raleigh tomorrow morning. In today’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer, however, Charles van der Horst, a retired Professor of Medicine at UNC, highlights what may well be the single most important reason: to save thousands of lives by demanding that state leaders expand close the Medicaid gap by accepting federal dollars to expand Medicaid coverage.

Here’s Dr. van der Horst:

“On Saturday, I am rising early with other health care workers and students to carpool and bus to Raleigh, where we’ll march once again down Jones Street for some old fashioned rabble-rousing.

Since the ACA started, 31 states and DC have expanded Medicaid. Ten states led by conservative Republicans, initially vehemently opposed to Medicaid expansion, have reversed course. In three states where Republicans subsequently won governorship, they elected to continue the expansion. Two Republican-led states are in discussion to expand.

These leaders came to their senses when they realized the benefits in savings, the jobs created, the federal dollars flowing to their states instead of away, and the help to their citizens. When that many Republican governors and legislatures have expanded Medicaid, it is difficult to understand why McCrory, Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger and Speaker of the House Tim Moore have ignored the economic and health benefits to the state.”

And here is the excellent conclusion:

“With two years of data available, the health benefits of expanding Medicaid are clear. In states that did not expand Medicaid, rural hospitals have been closing as they could no longer afford to provide free care. From 2010 to 2015, 57 rural hospitals closed, 42 of them – including three in North Carolina – in states that did not expand Medicaid. Rich or poor, it is nice to have a hospital close when your heart stops beating.

Medicaid expansion also allows for more preventive medicine. The governor and legislature have adopted the concept of penny wise, pound foolish. From blood pressure control to cholesterol and diabetes care, the cost of treatment for complications far exceeds that of prevention.

In April the legislature reconvenes. They should listen to the health care workers across the state and lift the block on Medicaid expansion.”

Commentary

Five reasons you can’t miss this Saturday’s Moral March on Raleigh

Moral MarchThere are actually dozens of good reasons to get off your keister, come to downtown Raleigh this Saturday and add your voice to the thousands who will march for justice in our state at the 10th annual HK on J People’s Assembly. In fact, as we reported last October in “This year’s dirty dozen: Twelve of the most destructive acts taken by the Governor and the 2015 General Assembly,” North Carolina’s conservative elected leaders provided plenty in just the last year alone.

If those aren’t enough to motivate you, however, here are five more biggies:

#1 – To reclaim our state’s hijacked electoral system – As the latest federal court decision this past Friday makes clear, North Carolina’s electoral system has been hijacked by partisan conservative ideologues who will use any tactic at their disposal to win elections and cement their destructive rollback of the 20th Century. Caring and thinking people simply cannot stand idly by in the face of this theft.

#2 – To help save thousands of lives – The plain and simple truth is that thousands more North Carolinians will die prematurely and unnecessarily this year for want of proper medical care — medical care that they could easily receive if North Carolina followed the lead of most other states and closed the Medicaid gap under the Affordable Care Act. Any chance we get to remind our leaders of this simple and powerful fact should not be missed.

#3 – To push back against the effort to privatize and sell off our public schools – Right now, in 2016 North Carolina, thousands of schoolchildren are being taught with fundamentalist Christian “science” books financed by your tax dollars that dinosaurs and humans once walked the earth at the same time. This is one of the very specific and undeniable results of the state’s unaccountable school voucher program. How can any thinking person stand by without speaking out against such a disgraceful situation?

#4 – The fact that conservative ideologues are far from finished – Despite having inflicted five years of political and policy havoc, the far right is just getting started. Unless progressives push back now, the transformation of North Carolina into a larger version of Mississippi and South Carolina will continue apace. Right now, in fact, conservative ideologues are pushing hard on a plan to amend the state constitution to lock in their disastrous tax and spending changes in perpetuity through a dishonestly mislabeled travesty called the “Taxpayer Bill of Rights.” This must be stopped,

#5 – History remains on our side – Despite all the bad news, as was pointed out in the conclusion to the special N.C. Policy watch report, Altered State: How 5 years of conservative rule have redefined North Carolina, numerous important trends favor progressive policies. What’s more, as was also noted. we know what to do.

“Fifty-plus years ago, the forebears of modern North Carolina progressives faced down and overcame the obstructionism of a cast of conservative characters far more hateful and shameless than the wrecking crew running the show today. Through determined advocacy and sacrifice they helped turn the tide and usher in a new era of relative social progress and widely shared prosperity.

Now is the time to do so once again.”

See you there Saturday!

Commentary

What the Right just doesn’t get about the Moral Marches

Moral MarchIn an apparent effort to provide air “both sides” of the issue, Raleigh’s News & Observer posted two essays side-by-side this morning on its editorial page — one extolling the growing movement for justice in North Carolina by Rev. Barber of the North Carolina NAACP and the other an editorial criticizing it from the Lenoir News-Topic.

Setting aside for a moment the fact that this is kind of like matching LeBron James (Barber) against a high school player (the News-Topic) in a game of one-on-one, the two essays are helpful in illustrating a critical fact about the leaders of the modern Right: They just don’t get it.

According to the defenders of Jones Street at the News-Topic:

“[The protests] are pointless…because the scope of the so-called injustices being highlighted are both limited, failing to rouse outrage in general public, and easily addressed by democratic means.”

Is that so? Skyrocketing inequality and suffering (and even hunger) in the world’s wealthiest nation is a “so-called injustice”? And it can be “easily addressed”?If this is so, why have both of these problems been ignored and allowed to get dramatically worse for decades under the leadership of both political parties?

Sorry guys. It’s not that simple. The list of critically important issues held up by the Forward Together movement and given voice by Rev. Barber are a lot more than just a handful of grievances that can be fixed with a bill or two (or even an election or two). Indeed, they highlight some fundamental flaws that have emerged in our democracy that will take decades to repair — if we’re lucky. Bringing real justice to our economy is a lot different than fixing a list of broken streetlights.

It’s understandable that some folks on the Right find Barber and the movement he helps lead annoying and that they wish it would go away. Unfortunately, for them, that just ain’t gonna happen.

Commentary

Public school teacher explains why he’ll be marching this Saturday

Moral MarchWith the ninth annual Moral March on Raleigh/HK on J set for this Saturday, this morning’s Weekly Briefing attempts to remind readers of the enormous similarities between the civil rights movement of the 20th Century and today’s movement for justice in North Carolina. If you’re wavering on whether to attend, the piece may provide an extra boost of enthusiasm.

The same is true for the essay below from a very inspiring Guilford County public school teacher.

Why I’ll be marching this Saturday
By Todd Warren

As a North Carolina public school teacher, I know where I’ll be this Valentine’s Day: Marching on a cold February morning with other public education allies at this year’s Mass Moral March in downtown Raleigh. Hundreds of educators will be there, wearing red and marching with Raise Up for 15, the fast-food workers organizing for $15 per hour. We’ll be there marching to the NC State Capitol, demanding full funding for public education, and saying unequivocally, “Poverty Is An Education Issue.”

If it wasn’t already clear how closely academic achievement is tied to household income, the new state school report cards clearly demonstrate this connection. Data recently released by the NC Department of Public Instruction shows that of the 146 schools that received F’s, all were schools with over a 50 percent poverty rate. Of the 561 schools that received D’s, over 97 percent had a more than 50 percent poverty rate. A recent report from the Southern Education Foundation shows that 53 percent of our students in NC are in low income families.

The strong correlation between poverty and academic achievement has been noted for decades. Nutrition, stress, lack of health-care and housing stability all play a role in brain development and student learning. This is not disputed, yet as educators, we largely ignore poverty and instead focus on how to better teach our students. No amount of revised lesson plans or new curriculum will remove the impact of poverty on student learning. Taking a stand against low wage poverty is a stand for education.

I want to be clear: there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the academic abilities of poor children. In fact, when you remove the stresses created by poverty, academic achievement goes up. There is something wrong with a society and economic system that allows so many of our children to live in poverty. Read more

Commentary

One month till moral marchers return to Raleigh

Valentine’s Day 2015, February 14, will be especially memorable this year. This is from the good fols at the NAACP and HKonJ coalition:

On this Valentine’s Day, bring your sweetheart to Raleigh and JOIN THE LARGEST LOVE AND JUSTICE MOVEMENT SINCE SELMA!

We will show our LOVE for JUSTICE! We LOVE justice in Education; We LOVE Economic Sustainability, We LOVE Workers and Workers’ Rights and Livable Wages; We LOVE Health Care For All, Medicaid Expansion: We LOVE our Environment; We LOVE Equal Protection Under the Law, without regard to creed, race, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation; We LOVE Voting Rights For All; We LOVE criminal justice.

We LOVE the most vulnerable within our State and Nation; We LOVE the power and beauty of diversity within our State and Nation; We LOVE our neighbors; WE ARE IN THIS LOVE TOGETHER! And We are determined to go “FORWARD TOGETHER, NOT ONE STEP BACK!”

On February 14, 2015, we will gather at 9:00 a.m. in downtown Raleigh. The march will begin at 10:00 a.m. after which we will begin the mass people’s assembly on the doorstep of the State Capitol. Read more