Archive for December, 2009

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The Train has Left the Station

December 22, 2009

It has left, indeed.

I was going to write this post last week, but I run out of time. It makes more sense to do it now anyway. Yesterday, I went to the Student Metrocard protest, and I have to say that I was really proud of what I saw. Sometimes people accuse children of being lazy and not caring about important things. This protest proved that wrong as you can see: 

Out in full force.

In case you don’t know what is going on here in New York City, the MTA plans to cut student Metrocards out of their budget. The card allows students to get to school for free. This cut is very troubling. Why? Well, there are a lot of students who can’t get the money together to get to school everyday. I’m sure you are saying “well, they can get a job.” Honestly, it is very difficult for a high school aged kid to get it job, let alone a person with a college education. A lot of the students in the public school system are poor. Their parents either have a minimum wage job (or two) and/or are on public assistance. Their families are just getting by. The parents can’t afford $890-$1500 per child for traveling expenses. This cut would force families to choose between food/rent and their children’s education.

Getting rid of these cards force students to get a horrible education in a system that is already horrible. Why make it harder for poor students to succeed? Why force them to go to schools where the students and teachers don’t even want to be at? How can one shine in a place like that? I can tell you from my experience how much that card made a difference. Without it, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to get a college degree from a private four-year school. That card helped me discover programs like Pace University’s Upward Bound program where I learned about college and was inspired to be the best I could be. I would’ve been nothing without it.

What does getting rid of the cards solve? It will just bring people back in a system where they are already at a disadvantage. We need to come together as a united front to stop this from happening. I urge all of you in New York City to e-mail the MTA, the Governor, your Assembly member, your State Senator, the Mayor, and your City Council member. Fill out petitions as well.

I thank everyone who has gotten involved. I also thank the media station WPIX who have been on top of this and are supporting the students. Check out their coverage here. Let’s stop this from happening!

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What Do We Need? Jobs, Jobs and More Jobs

December 8, 2009
It is so serious out here, and there seems to be no hope of things getting better.

America is in great need, ladies and gentlemen. The nation has a 10% unemployment rate. Everyday hours are being cut and jobs are being lost in the hundreds even thousands. This causes people to make difficult choices such as choosing between feeding their children or paying a bill. Not paying bills results in lost of communication or a home which is even worst. People are being forced into poverty in greater numbers. What does poverty look like today? Well, it comes in many forms such as wondering if the next meal will come, if there will be a warm place to sleep at night, if one will be taken care of medically and so much more. Those at the bottom and those new to the bottom are becoming invisible to the rest of the nation.

Sure, the nation unemployment might not look that serious, but when you break it down, it is extremely serious. If you look at individual cities, it is bad. For example, in Brooklyn, the unemployment rate is said to be around 11%. Being unemployed causes people to turn to the only thing which can keep them alive which is public assistance. A couple of days ago, the New York Times broke down the job crisis even more with the raising number of people receiving food stamps. Food Stamps now help feed one in eight Americans and one in four children. Mostly all of the people in this program are near or below the poverty line.

When it came to look at individual counties, the Times stated that “In more than 750 counties, the program helps feed one in three blacks. In more than 800 counties, it helps feed one in three children.” These counties consist of states such as Louisiana, Missouri and Tennessee. Even huge cities are hit hard. The Times stated that almost half of the children in the Bronx receive this aid. Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University, did a study on how many people from St. Louis received food stamps. He found that half of the people have done so by the time they turned 20 and 90% of Black children have done so.

As you can see, times are really serious. Unemployment and poverty are real and is growing. But, I’m sure you are saying: “these people should just get a college degree.” Well, things haven’t been easy for college graduates either. I should know I’m one of them. I got my Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies from Skidmore College. I’ve been trying to get a job at a not-for-profit organization dealing with children or people in poverty. I want this type of job because I know what it is like to be in poverty. I want to make a difference. While at Skidmore, I was set to take part in City Year in Washington, D.C., but lack of information has led me to not take part. Everyday, I’ve been applying to everything I find on idealist.org and other website since May. I’m not the only college graduate struggling out here. I have friends from Skidmore who are in the same boat.

People say to me things like “Danny, why don’t you just go for your graduate degree?” I am in the planning stages of applying to a Ph. D program in American Studies. But, I do think to myself: “would that even make a difference?” I recently found out that it probably wouldn’t. The Times did a piece on Black college graduates and how hard it is for them to get a job. One man with experience and a M.B.A can’t even get interviews. Graduate degrees seem to not make a difference at all. The type of degree this man got is one of the most popular and he can’t even get his foot in the door. That is insane. When it came to Black graduates entering the job force this year, the Times stated that:

Black joblessness has long far outstripped that of whites. And strikingly, the disparity for the first 10 months of this year, as the recession has dragged on, has been even more pronounced for those with college degrees, compared to those without. Education, it seems, does not level the playing field – in fact, it appears to have made it more uneven.

Get an education and get a good job, right? Well, not in today’s society. Reading that article makes things seem hopeless.

You might have switch gears and are now saying: “these people should just get some kind of Mickey Mouse job.” Well, the Times had an article this past Sunday that stated how it was harder to get a job at an Applebee’s in the Bronx than to get into Harvard. For every job opening, there are about six people applying for it. I have a college degree and can’t get a minimum wage job. So far, I only had a temporary job, which I will talk about very soon. Sure, there is help out there like Workforce One, job placement programs, job fairs, temp agencies and career centers, but how helpful are these things if everyone you know is applying for the same job you just applied to? Employers can just pick a name out of a hat. There is no winning.

So, what can be done? People would’ve thought that their hard earned money which went to companies would’ve helped them out in the end, but not at all. It seems that the bailout just filled the pockets of those fat cats on Wall Street. These companies bounced back with greater returns, but growth did not occur. You would think that helping out the banks would allow them to give more loans out to small businesses which would create more jobs, but that’s not the case. We are still in a hole, ladies and gentlemen, and it is getting deeper.

President Obama seems to be making this job issue his next mission. I heard on the news that he plans to use some of the bailout money. How does he propose to use the funds? Would it be something like this?

I know that this is pure fiction, but it is funny. You have to lighten the mood at some point. Funny stuff aside, the President needs to pressure these companies. We were there for them (even when some of us didn’t want to); now, they need be there for us. In the end, it would help them again because people would have money to spend. It is just common sense. I just hope the President comes to some solution to this grand problem for the sake of everyone. It is so serious out here, and there seems to be no hope of things getting better.

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The Circus Known as the NYS Senate

December 2, 2009

The Greatest Show in NYS.

I just got word from NewsChannel 13 in Albany that the “Same-sex marriage bill fails to pass in #NYSenate 24-38.” This is very disappointing. I support same-sex marriage. Why? Because everyone should have equal rights no matter who they are. I also believe in the separation of church and state. So, it doesn’t makes sense to me as to why these 38 clowns in the New York State Senate would vote something like this down especially when the state is one of the most liberal in the nation. I mean the state already recognize marriages from other places. Why not go 100%? People really should put their religion aside and do that right thing.

Many years ago, people of different races couldn’t marry each other. Some people still believe this today. I remember a story a while back where a judge denied an interracial couple the right to marry each other. There was so much hate back then.  History is repeating itself again with these states denying gay couples the right to marry. Why can’t we let people be happy? So many great points were made on the NYS Senate debate floor, but it was as if those words went into one ear and come out the other for those 38 Senators.

If you want more information on today’s session, check out these things from the New York Times. All of the Republicans and eight Democrats voted  against it. Here are your eight; most of them are even from New York City. If you live in the state of New York and support same-sex marriage, talk to your Senator: http://www.nysenate.gov/

P.S. The NYS Senate has always been screwed up. We need to shake things up, my fellow New Yorkers.

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World AIDS Day!

December 1, 2009

The Red Ribbon

Today is World AIDS Day. I’m sure all of you don’t need to be lectured on the seriousness of AIDS and HIV. Do your part. Get tested. Get your partner tested. Have protected sex. JoinRed.