Progressivism

Why am I progressive?

If I’m being brief and to the point: as a historian I have at least some knowledge of how things were. And I believe they could be better in the future, which is exactly why I don’t want things to remain the way they’ve been traditionally.

If I have more time, and can explain in detail why I think the way I do, I’d say this: I believe in a far more perfect union than the one that currently exists. I believe in liberty, and equality, and I believe that those things can be obtained with assistance from the government. I agree with Jon Stewart and what he said at the rally to restore sanity that these are “hard times but not end times”. I believe in a future where citizens of both the United States and Honduras can come to trust their government representatives. I believe that an alliance between the government and civil society is absolutely crucial to success, and that a government can be just, honest, and genuinely earn the pride that some people have in government, and in their nation, whatever that nation might be.

I believe in a government that understands its citizens and supports them. And I believe in a society where people look to the government and see friends, see their peers, individuals who are looking out for them. I am a progressive. I am an individual who admires the ideals of government, a government that works for the people, to keep them safe from external and internal foes, physical enemies like criminals and corrupt politicians, concepts that cause us fear such as poverty, and conditions which hurt us such as hunger, homelessness, thirst. I want to work with the government, whenever I am, to help reestablish trust and respect between ordinary people and representatives of the government. I want to work to change the way people view their elected officials from the “lesser of two evils” too the “genuinely the best option”.

I’m a progressive. I believe in the government. And I believe that governments can afford accountability. I believe that we as a society can hold politicians accountable. I believe that we as citizens can work with the government to make our nations great, once again, both the United States, and Honduras.

Progressivism

Minimum Wage

If you can work full-time on the minimum wage and still be in poverty, the minimum wage has FAILED. The Minimum wage first appeared in the National Industrial Recovery Act, but was called out by the Supreme Court. It would be defeated here, and reappear 5 years later in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

The background of the M.W. is actually fairly interesting. It was part of the N.L.R.A. in the beginning but was called out not due to the wage itself but due to the pressures Roosevelt was trying to put onto businesses for not conforming too the wage, because it wasn’t a required wage but rather one that if used would enable the businesses to have an edge in determining various aspects of business. The Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional.

But he’d get it through, by giving his suggested wage to government workers beginning in 1937, forcing private businesses to also begin to use the same wage in order to retain employees. He managed to get it in one state, Washington, and then a federal bill got passed.

F.D.R. once said : “In my Inaugural I laid down the simple proposition that nobody is going to starve in this country. It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By “business” I mean the whole of commerce as well as the whole of industry; by workers I mean all workers, the white collar class as well as the men in overalls; and by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level-I mean the wages of decent living.”

F.D.R. believed that the Minimum wage was a living wage. And so do I. Do you?

Some sources:

http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/odnirast.html

http://poverty.ucdavis.edu/faq/what-history-minimum-wage

http://www.socialwelfarehistory.com/eras/national-industrial-recovery-act-of-1933/

We need to know the history and purpose of the minimum wage. We need to remember that history. The minimum wage is meant to be a living wage. Not a wage that entraps workers in poverty.

Minimum Wage

What is a Progressive?

A progressive is someone who believes in a better tomorrow, or even that the next hour can be better than this one was. A progressive is someone who understands that as a politician, or hell as a human being, we have an obligation to make things better for the people who will follow us, our children, that our responsibilities extend to them as well as to ourselves and our neighbors.

Part of the problem with politics in the contemporary USA and Honduras is the popularity of conservatives who want to conserve traditional values. These values don’t hold much worth after they’ve been used to encourage and enable discrimination against those less fortunate, even if they’re only less fortunate because of their sexual orientation and not because of access to a job or food or housing.

As a progressive, I face a tough battle in the US and in Honduras. But I believe in the principals which guide my actions, which is to fight for investments in schools, to fight for more voter turnout, to fight for transparency, to fight to force my fellow government workers to obey existing legal precedent. One of the biggest things I’d do, is I’d create legislation aimed to give people a voice, demanding that for instance, whenever a tax cut is suggested, or slipped somewhere as a hidden addition to a bill the people vote on whether or not it is implemented. If tax cuts are given to the rich, then the poor and middle class have to pay for it, so we have a right to voice our opinions and be taken seriously. We have a moral obligation to stand in front of big business when big business attempts to fatten it’s wallet by taking money from ours. As a progressive, I believe in legislation which transforms the minimum wage into a living, breathing wage. I believe that no child deserves to be in poverty. I believe that no adult deserves to be in poverty. I believe that homelessness can be successfully fought. I believe that healthcare is a right, that every single person deserves. I believe in intelligent restrictions on guns. And I believe that no one can be denied children on the basis of their sexuality, or denied the right to marry the consenting adult they choose, regardless of orientation, or gender at birth.

I believe in strengthening the lower and middle class. I believe in creating unity. I believe in a better tomorrow that is created by my labor, combined with the labor of every Honduran, of every American, of every person. The reason why I’m not conservative is because I understand that change can be good. I don’t want my kids living in the same world I am living in with less trees, and dirtier water. I want my kids living in a happier world, for everyone, than I am living in right now. I want my kids living in a world that everyone knows is better than it was yesterday.

The problem with conservatism is it’s based around a fear of change. And I don’t fear change. I fear a society based in traditional values, when those values are used as a license to discriminate and make life worse.

As someone who could very well become a politician, I understand that my duty as a politician wouldn’t just be to those who are my current constituents, but those who come after, after myself, and after my constituents. I would have an obligation not to get reelected, but to make the lives of the children of my constituents easier. A politician’s greatest measure of success isn’t his reelection rate, but the standard of life of his constituents and those who follow them. Only when politicians universally recognize this, can change begin to truly occur.

Are you a proud progressive? I am. If you are, or aren’t, why or why not?

What is a Progressive?

Honduran Feminist Arrested

On March 26th Honduran leader Gladys Lanza Ochoa (a known feminist, in a country that desperately needs Feminism and Women’s Rights) was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

She is charged with defamation and slander, for defending a former employee of FUNDEVI (Foundation for development of urban and rural social housing) who claims (not saying that she wasn’t, because she probably was. I haven’t done enough research into that to state anything in my personal opinion so I’m using the words of one of the articles I’ll be citing.) to have been sexually harassed by the executive director of FUNDEVI.

This is a sad day for Honduran feminists and feminists all over the world. With Lanza Ochoa being behind bars Honduras will temporarily lose one of the most influential and powerful leaders for gender equality, who not only spoke about the need for equality but actively worked to achieve it. Violence against women continues in Honduras, and it will take women and men who act out against it as vocally as Gladys did/does, in order to reach equality, which can include feeling secure, and not being targeted by groups in power, or being “observed” while attempting to do real work.

This is a sad time in Honduras for people who advocate for progress, as other leaders (such as Berta Caceres) have been targeted by authorities and face persecution, some more direct than others, such as Berta and Gladys, and others less direct, such as the mocking of Salvador Nasralla, and the comments Juan Orlando made back in late January insinuating that those who opposed the PMOP were doing so out of a connection to “criminal groups”.

As an additional note, if it’s true that she was jailed primarily for defending the ex-employee of FUNDEVI it implies something worrying. The implication is that anyone who is vocal about the fact that they are being sexually harassed cannot make friends or have allies who stand up for them, on the basis that if their friends do decide to advocate for them, they are suddenly at risk for being charged with “defamation” or “slander”. This creates a culture of fear which serves to further protect those who commit acts of sexual harassment. If a prominent feminist leader is declared guilty in a situation where her greatest crime is saying “Hey maybe we shouldn’t vilify women who decide to be vocal about the fact that they’ve been victims of a crime” we are creating a culture where men can get away with harassment easily, and creating a culture that is inconsiderate of the feelings and experiences of women.

This is only true if the reality is that she was jailed because of her defense of the former employee. I personally believe that it could very well be the case, but I’m not saying that this is the only possibility. We as a society need to create a culture where women are taken seriously, and where sexual harassment is treated like the crime it is. No one should have to go to work day after day and be treated as a sex object. No one should have to tolerate rude and vulgar behavior, on the basis of their gender. We should focus on discovering the truth, and determining whether or not people who are accused of sexual harassment actually commit these acts, not imprisoning those who protect possible victims of sexual harassment.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

Sources:

http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/28385

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/mar/18/honduras-women-gladys-lanza-feminism-human-rights

http://www.elheraldo.hn/sucesos/825881-331/un-a%C3%B1o-y-seis-meses-de-prisi%C3%B3n-a-gladys-lanza

http://www.tiempo.hn/nacion/item/24918-honduras-condenan-a-18-meses-de-prision-a-gladis-lanza

http://www.veracruzanos.info/sentencian-a-feminista-gladys-lanza-a-18-meses-de-prision/

Honduran Feminist Arrested