Schedule for May
May 03 – Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business
May 10 – Potluck Sunday (Mother’s Day)
May 17 – Singing Sunday ~ 15 minutes before worship
May 17 – Quakerism Experience It! Quaker History II (Don G.)
May 24 Extended social time – Memorial Day weekend
May 31 County Comprehensive Plan Presentation
Schedule for June
June 07 First Sunday Potluck
June 14 Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business
June 21 Quakerism Experience It: Spiritual Journeys Looking to the Future (Sharon Trent)
June 28 “Faith and Practice” discussion with Alice Robb? (unconfirmed)
Clerk’s and Others Spring Supper – May 19th – at The Richardson’s, 6 pm.
This annual tradition is an opportunity for Friends who have been or are about to be involved in the work of the Meeting through committee clerking or representative responsibilities — as well as anyone else who is interested — to get together for social time, reflection, and sharing. Please contact Susan about what dish you’d like to bring so she can coordinate the potluck.
I-732 would tax fossil fuel production in our state. The new tax on carbon is balanced by a reduction of others, such as the sales tax. This “tax swap” means that, overall, there is no tax increase. State sales tax would be reduced by 1%, B & O tax for manufacturers would be eliminated, a carbon tax of $25 per metric ton of CO2 emissions, increasing 5 percent each year up to $100 per metric ton would be instituted, and the result would be an incentive to use less fossil fuel. Pollution would be reduced, and $1,500 per year for each of 400,000 low-income working households would be provided. The tax swap would be phased in over two years. Sales tax would be reduced by a half point in year one, followed by another half point in year two. The carbon tax would start July 1, 2017, at a rate of $15 per metric ton of CO2. After one year, the tax rate goes up to $25 per ton/CO2. Each consecutive year would increase the tax about 5 % for revenue neutrality.
Why a carbon tax? We need a policy to slow runaway climate change. A tax-swap in BC, Canada succeeded in reducing fossil fuel use. At the same time, the BC economy grew, even during a recession which slowed down all the other provinces.
How much will energy prices increase?
Gas: ~$0.25 per gallon
Electricity: from coal ~$0.025 per kilowatt-hour from natural gas ~$0.012 per kilowatt-hour
To find out how the tax swap would affect your family, please see the calculator at: carbon.cs.washington.edu
Please sign the petition to put I-732 on the ballot.
Friends’ Leadings: Larry Thompson
IF THIS IS THURSDAY IT MUST BE A LEADING
I looked these things up in my trusty Quaker dictionary to be sure I got it right. My guidebook says that a concern is ” a deeply felt and divinely inspired sense of personal responsibility to do something about a situation or problem or need.” And, a leading is “a sense of being called by spirit to undertake a specific course of action.” These describe my feelings well. What I have experienced is not my normal workday stuff in which I certainly care about the people and situations in front of me. It is different; more; emotional; and unstoppable. I know that I feel a deep sense of responsibility and a keen sense that what is happening is just wrong. I know instinctively that I can not be my usual work persona– objective, dispassionate, thorough, mostly rational, scientific, boring and careful. What I have come to believe is that I have an unique knowledge base and an equally unique set of contacts and connections. I can see that a train is coming down the tracks, full speed. I can see that if they build it, they will surely fill it, and we’ll have a self fulfilling prophecy. I’m talking here about the proposed new Whatcom County jail.
BLAMING THE VICTIM AND OTHER FASHIONABLE PARLOR GAMES
In my day job, working at WAHA (Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement), several of our programs involve working with the “sickest of the sick” to improve the quality and effectiveness of the care and other services they receive. “Leslie,” one of these sickest of the sick, was hospitalized six times last year and in the ER another 18 times. She lives in a tent in a homeless camp most of the year. Last year she was in jail three times as well. All three of these instances were for creating a “public disturbance.” Leslie has bipolar disorder but has also been an alcoholic since age 15. Her current drug of choice is heroin. She also has hepatitis C, only two-to-three teeth, out of control diabetes, and an infected laceration in her right thigh.
In most communities, the Leslies of the United States end up in jail or in the community hospital by default. For lack of better options, the treatment source of last resort becomes the hospital or the jail. Unfortunately for Leslie, and other “super utilizers” of services, the care in these places is not all that good and seldom results in better outcomes. Why would it when it’s mostly there as a default because we fail to organize and deliver real services for real needs? And, all of us taxpayers have the pleasure of paying for the most expensive kinds of services because these are the default options. What’s not to like about poor care for high prices?
In ancient times, back in the 1950s and 1960s, the alcoholics, drug addicts, senile and mentally ill were mainly housed in large state hospitals. Right down the road was Northern State Hospital in Sedro Woolley. Nationally, there emerged a new consensus that Leslies were really not so well off ‘outa sight, ‘outa mind, in hospitals cum warehouses (ask Randall, err Jack Nicholson). We closed the State hospitals (well, many of them) and made it State policy to treat these Leslies “in the community.” The problem is, we reduced overall spending for behavioral health and most of the “community treatment” options were never funded. In recessions, these services were always among the first to be cut; afterall, these people lacked self discipline and personal responsibility. About the same time, National policy makers dreamed up the “war on drugs,” which succeeded in criminalizing addictive behavior while failing to reduce rates of addiction in the population. Every state built new prisons and jails. The rate of incarceration in the population nearly tripled over twenty years.
FUN AND GAMES RIGHT HERE AMID THE SUBDUED EXCITEMENT
What’s this got to do with all us white people here in paradise (err, Bellingham)? Plenty, as it turns out. We have an aging, built for another era, over-crowed jail. We, as taxpayers, will be asked (this November) to ante up $97 million to build a new and bigger place up in Ferndale, and that $97 million is just the part on which you actually get to vote. Now, let me be clear, in my opinion we badly need a new jail– probably even over a 30 year period a 521 bed jail as is currently proposed by the law and justice establishment. However, what I think is morally wrong is to simply carry on the same policies which result in a revolving door in and out of the jail. The alcoholic or drug addict detoxes while there, but on discharge goes right across the street to the bar or Maritime Heritage Park. Thus, the whole cycle repeats.
There’s a better way. We could take some of the money we are spending on warehousing people and treat them. Ah, but wait, all too often there are no services to treat them, unless of course they are in the jail or hospital, and in this dilemma is the opportunity. We can go ahead and build the jail but use some of the money for alternatives- diversion programs, expanded treatment options, and supported housing options.
This debate is playing out right now. Whatcom’s elected officials are wrestling with shaping a great compromise–one that puts the new jail and alternatives for diversion and treatment on parallel tracks. We have a huge opportunity to leverage greatly improved and expanded behavioral health services. Those who want to build the new jail, come hell or high water, need the votes of those of us who think we are using incarceration in lieu of treatment, too often. And, those of us who want to see treatment that works to create longer term solutions expanded…well, we need the votes of the law and justice types. We will not see real change unless there is money in it. And so, we come to the point of a grand compromise. ,If politics is the art of the possible, then this is politics.
Spring of Greenery !
© Manjeshwari P Mysore
The Season is here
The Reason to celebrate
Spring brings blooming buds
Dressing Trees with vibrant flowers
Singing birds, Dancing peacocks
Swings are swung in gentle rocks
The King of Fruits ; Mango rules
Wanted by all, geniuses and mules
Joy seems to fill the ambiance
Time to have fun, feast and rejoice
Refreshing showers of gentle rain
Soothing the Earth, as ever, yet again.