Sunday, November 2, 2014

Voting Pro-life

full inforgraphic available at
I would like to vote pro-life in the election on Tuesday.

But I'm finding that very hard to do.

That's because my definition of pro-life doesn't line up neatly with the pro-life contingent’s scorecards.

My goal is to vote pro-life in the widest meaning of the term: in favor of all life.

The lives of unborn children AND the lives of those lost to handgun suicide and handgun violence AND the lives of the millions in the Pacific island nations anxiously watching waters rise and waiting the next catastrophic evidence of climate change.

But I'm also aware that voting pro-life must also mean voting pro-children, since if unborn babies are worth our attention, surely that doesn’t end the moment they’re  born?

Which means I’m also commited to voting for maternal and paternal leave, family leave, safe and affordable childcare, affordable, accessible housing.

Current family leave law in the US mandates 12 weeks of unpaid leave for mothers, none for fathers., no requirement of wage compensation during leave. In terms of length of leave, the US ranks 20th of 21 high-income countries, and is the only country that doesn’t require some length of paid leave. What's the message there for women with unplanned pregnancies?

Children in Homeless Shelters; Coalition for the Homeless
Child care? Again, the US lags most developed countries in ensuring safe, appropriate child care, and in keeping it affordable for working parents. 
 “When we compare what we do as a nation to what other developed countries do in terms of child care, it’s embarrassing and it’s tragic,” says Stewart Friedman, practice professor of management at Wharton. “Part of it is rooted in the American ethos of individualism. You’re supposed to make it on your own.” 
 According to data from the Center for American Progress, low-income families spend a much larger portion of income on child care. In 2010, for instance, families who made less than $1,500 per month with children under the age of five spent more than half of their monthly income on child care expenses (52.7%). Only about 30% of low-income families using center-based child care, and 16% using an in-home care center for a child under the age of six, received subsidies, according to the data.
 Some of the working poor make do in other ways. Take, for example, the arrest of Debra Harrell earlier this summer. Harrell, a South Carolina mother, was arrested for leaving her 9-year-old daughter in a park for hours while she worked at a nearby McDonald’s. She was charged with unlawful conduct toward a child, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Her arrest sparked a national debate.
 “Those employees who are most needy — single mothers or people who work in the fast food industry, say, whose work is prone to shift changes — are left with nothing,” Bailyn notes. “They represent a group of people that need to work to take care of their children, but they are not supported with anything close to high-quality child care.”
Looking through organizational scorecards on candidates in preparation for an earlier blog, I came across this group: Campaign for Working Families.

That’s exactly what I think we need, a campaign for working families, so I linked with interest to the group’s home page:

"Campaign for Working Families. Unapologetically Pro-Family, Pro-Life, Pro-Free Enterprise."


Pro-free enterprise?

According to what I know of history and economics, free enterprise reached its zenith during the days of the transatlantic slave trade and the sweat shops of New England.

And yes, a handful of families benefitted greatly from their unfettered enterprise, but many families were ripped apart, many lives were lost, many children brutalized in the idolatrous worship of free or cheap labor and unlimited profit.
Free enterprise guarantees employers the right to divide jobs into part-time shifts with no benefits, no protections, reschedule at will, fire women the moment they look pregnant.

Free enterprise allows landlords to offer substandard housing at unaffordable rents, refuse to make repairs, then evict families for adding another child.

Free enterprise pays waitresses $2.13 an hour, refuses protections to migrant workers, pays CEOs a thousand times the pay of hourly workers then insists a living wage would be a hardship.

Free enterprise dumps toxic particles into the air, then looks the other way while children gasp with asthma and mothers lose their jobs spending anxious days on pediatric wards.

I will not be voting for free enterprise.

Or for any politician who holds out the delusion that unregulated business will save us from our sorrows.

Or tempts us with the promise that “privatized” education, prisons, roads, parks, water will somehow lessen our responsibility to each other, or remove the financial burden of caring for our nation’s children.

Pro-life and pro-family stand in stark opposition to pro-free enterprise.

This is so nationally, and even more so globally.

In 2000, all 189 member nations adopted the United Nations Millennium Declaration, committing to work together to eradicate the extreme poverty and hunger responsible for millions of deaths of children every year, and to combat preventable diseases and improve maternal health.

Two years later, Millenium Project analysis estimated that if developed nations each gave .7%  of their Gross National Income, the goals would be achievable. Sixteen countries agreed to work toward that goal; the United States has consistently led the way in refusing that commitment, and has consistently been among the five lowest contributors in percent of GNP. While most other nations have worked toward raising percent of contribution, the US contribution went from .22% in 2005, to .20% in 2011, to .19% in 2012. Meanwhile, Denmark, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Sweden, and Norway have surpassed the .70% goal, with Luxembourg now giving a full 1%, and Sweden .99%. The average contribution is .43%; the US is less than half that.   
I posted on this topic in 2011
In total, the US gives more aid than any other nation. But as a percent of per capita income, we’re competing with GreeceItaly, and Japan for least generous nation.
A few additional facts:
  • Less than half of the reflected aid from the United States goes to the poorest countries.
  • The largest recipients are strategic allies such as Egyptk Israel, Rassia, Pakistan, Afganistan and Iraq.
  • Israel is the richest country to receive U.S. assistance ($77 per Israeli compared to $3 per person in poor countries).
The United State’s unwillingness to commit to funding Millenium Development Goals is directly tied to protections for American business
The United States, Germany, Japan and France still insist that a major proportion of their aid money be used to buy products originating only in their countries, according to experts.
 ”This has ensured that aid money is eventually ploughed back into the economies of donor nations,” says Njoki Njoroge Njehu, director of 50 Years is Enough, a coalition of over 200 grassroots non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
 ”The United States makes sure that 80 cents in every aid dollar is returned to the home country,” she told IPS.  .  .
 Njehu cited the example of Eritrea, which discovered it would be cheaper to build its network of railways with local expertise and resources rather than be forced to spend aid money on foreign consultants, experts, architects and engineers imposed on the country as a condition of development assistance.
 Strings attached to U.S. aid for similar projects, she added, include the obligation to buy products such as Caterpillar and John Deere tractors. ”All this adds up to the cost of the project.”
 Njehu also pointed out that money being doled out to Africa to fight HIV/AIDS is also a form of tied aid. She said Washington is insisting that the continent’s governments purchase anti-AIDS drugs from the United States instead of buying cheaper generic products from South Africa, India or Brazil.
 As a result, she said, U.S. brand name drugs are costing up to 15,000 dollars a year compared with 350 dollars annually for generics.    
A pro-life position, as I understand it, would be for “untied” international aid: more interested in keeping children alive than in ensuring further profits on the part of some of the wealthiest corporations on the globe. Yet, the candidatees most likely to receive high grades from pro-life organizations are also most likely to vote "no" on untied aid, "no" on protections both nationally and globally for working mothers, "no" on access to contraceptives, or universal maternal and child health care. 

As I said, my goal is to vote pro-life, pro-children, pro-mother. 

There is no party platform that lines up completely with the range of issues that concern me.

And no individual candidate that would receive a 100% on my own carefully constructed scorecard.

Which is why I’ll be reading positions and voting records carefully.

And even then, I’ll be voting with prayer.

This is the tenth in a series looking at specific issues of importance in state and local elections, as an extension of my 2012 series "What's Your Platform?"  

Earlier posts:  
What are Workers Worth, Sept. 1, 2014
Back to School Lament, Sept.7, 2014
Who is Allowed to Vote? Sept. 21, 2014
 Dreaming of Home, Oct. 12, 2014
Vote Smart, Oct. 19, 2014
Shale, Oct. 26, 2014 
As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome. Just click on   __comments below to see the comment option.