How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Mission Possible: How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

A Progressive Perspective: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good

Two good compromises were recently reached. One was in New Jersey and the other in Los Angeles. In New Jersey, a compromise was reached that increased the minimum wage from $8.75 per hour to $15 by 2024. During his campaign for Governor, Phil Murphy strongly committed to the drive for $15. To strike a deal with Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) the Governor agreed to push back the implementation deadline for farm workers and seasonal and small businesses. Unfortunately, the compromise didn’t include a carve-out for teens 16-18 years of age.

In the long-run, I believe the compromise will be good for New Jersey. It means that the annual salary of a New Jersey worker who puts in a 40 hour work week will jump from $18,400 to $31,200 by 2024. That’s a big deal.

A good agreement was reached recently in Los Angeles, the second largest school district in the nation (640,000 students), which returned 30,000 teachers to the classroom after a six school day strike. What was good about the agreement was that the bulk of the issues covered did not relate to teacher salaries or benefits, but had to do with improving the classroom environment for teachers.

In fact, the salary increase – six percent spread over two years – was essentially the same as the district offered the teachers before the strike. The agreement made significant strides in reducing classroom size, which was one of the major sticking points in the negotiation. It also provided for the hiring of 41 teacher-librarians in each of the first two years of the agreement and 150 additional full-time school nurses.

The union won a significant concession regarding standardized testing that will ultimately result in reducing the number of assessments by half. Further, the pro-charter school board agreed to vote on a resolution calling on the state to cap the number of charter schools. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti noted that the agreement represented a “new culture of collaboration” in the district.

The Bad

The Democratic blue wave that won back control of the House has had various beneficial consequences. It has provided some protection against President Trump’s more outrageous policy impulses. Increasingly the face of the blue wave has become self-proclaimed democratic socialist Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) who is a media sensation with 2,589,689 twitter followers, a 60 Minute appearances and a Time Magazine cover under her belt. I find AOC refreshing, energetic and very poised for someone so young. However, the bad news is some of her more radical views could hurt Democrats among rust belt voters.

I’m very concerned that if AOC and Beto O’Rouke continue to suck up all of the media air, it will leave little room for the various candidates to define where they stand on key issues like health care, accessibility to education, regulating markets and closing the inequality gap. I’d like to see the Democratic candidates present more big controversial ideas like Elizabeth Warren’s “wealth tax” which would impose a 2% annual tax on household with assets of $50 million and more (it would affect 75,000 super rich Americans). It is a proposal that could go a long way towards ultimately dealing with income inequality.

I’m concerned that in an attempt to secure the support of zealot progressives, who vote heavily in the first Democratic primaries, some announced candidates for the Presidency have launched their campaigns by pledging their support for all sorts of universal benefits ranging from preschool, to college, to health care without any mention of means-testing. This may be appealing to some on the left, but they will not be as appealing to many in the heartland of America where the first question will be how do we pay for these added benefits. Glib answers like cut the military and tax the rich will not cut it.

Ugly

The absolutely ugliest thing I’ve heard in recent years was the report that in Arizona a nursing home, a 29-year old woman who had been in vegetative state for 14 year, following a near-drowning accident gave birth after being sexually assaulted by a male nurse employed at long-term care facility. The notion of someone in a coma getting raped is disgusting.

Much more rigorous procedures must be put in place to protect those who are vulnerable and totally dependent on others. At a minimum, protocols need to be put in place to prevent, recognize and report abuse and neglect and staff need to receive annual training in preventing and reporting abuse. Further, cameras should be installed and checked on a daily. Also, females should be required to accompany males into woman’s rooms. I realize that what I’m calling for will add to the already enormous cost of nursing and palliative care, but it must be done.

The facility in which the rape took place indicates on its website that it provides specialized care for infants, children and young adults who are “medically fragile,” chronically ill or have intellectual and developmental disabilities. Facilities that are charged with protecting our most vulnerable people must be required to do everything possible to protect them against ugly predators.