WHY am I so persistent? I'm gender neutral (I have 5 sons-2 step), but I believe the Nov. 24 NYT Sunday Dialogue expresses my fears succinctly. First letter notes- “The United States does not even appear in top 20 countries ranked for gender equality in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap report for 2013.” Also, haven't we all read how we keep slipping further down the ranking list re education, health care relative to quality and cost, and even horrendous things such as sex trafficking? Several years ago NYT reported about 60,000 are trafficked annually through Atlanta. We've long been ranked poorly for excessive suing- also costs and awards plus excessive incarcerations- both in number and duration. We top the list for excessive compensation. ETC! WHY?
I believe our decrease in rankings is failure to interrelate- failure to connect the dots, AND failure to participate enough in democracy. Anything not checked gradually compounds. Anything which compounds, slowly builds a base like a coiled spring, then starts abruptly rising, soon to skyrocket out of control. Hasn't unchecked capitalism led to excess profit seeking affecting business, health care (including drug prices), excess compensation, excess cost of higher education (some college presidents make over a million, sports & other facilities are over-the-top, etc), all a sense of entitlement including ease of suing, hence fear of it and way too many defensive practices (often subtle) built into everything (including divorce issues in court for years)? Aren't ALL contracts legal documents? NYT reported a CEO paid $400,000 to a lawyer for his contract to guarantee $12M severance pay even if he was fired!
Consider the Brooklyn, NY Taub case which I keep reporting about because in my opinion it is an example of about every kind of legal abuse you could imagine. I want YOU to zero in on how dysfunctional our legal SYSTEM has become. The case began June 2005. In its 8 ½ yrs (ongoing, so huge taxpayer expense and loss of court availability, loss to creditors, ETC., to say nothing of lots of abuse testimony, millions in legal fees) it includes divorce, multiple foreclosures, bankruptcy, mail fraud, money laundering (documents re illegal property transfers and lots unpaid taxes and forged signatures, ETC) , scads of ignoring of judicial orders ignored by the system as well, including higher level judges and politicians and the FBI and media (who twisted data presented), a mere 3 months probation for extortion- wiretapped evidence of husband receiving 1st $75,000 of 2-300,00 to keep quiet about sex abuse of son (whom he stole custody of and judges ignored), ETC! A Global Settlement was signed by both sides last April, to be finalized in ~45days. I guess somebody can't read the calendar! Update- Nov. 21 a new document reduces settlement by $100,000 in “side deal with Simon”-(THAT is illegal Ex Parte- both parties MUST be present). BUT at bottom it says-“Statement of Confidentiality” and notes the material may only be read by “intended recipient”(wife- Chana Taub) and “any distribution (to anyone) is prohibited.” WHAT DOES THAT SAY TO YOU?? IT SAYS TO ME THAT EVEN IF THE LAW IS BEING VIOLATED, VICTIMS CAN'T TELL ANYONE, AND IF THEY DO, THAT SOURCE (IN THIS CASE ME) CAN'T TELL ANYONE- EXCEPT PERHAPS A LAWYER OR JUDGE- BUT THEY'VE ALREADY BEEN TOLD ABOUT ABUSE AND IT ONLY GETS WORSE! Also, wife was asked (and this OFTEN happens in lots of different legal cases) to sign away her right to ever sue her husband for anything (except to enforce maintenance, but courts have already ignored that vast majority of the time), and see above- that includes any past illegal acts!
Don't such restrictions violate civil rights, freedom of speech, intent of Constitution in general?
In my local theater I just watched a documentary I hope many see- Inequality For All, by Robert Reich (former advisor to presidents and Secretary of Labor, author, professor at Berkeley). He says “widening inequality in income, wealth, and opportunity is rapidly getting out of control...It's systemic- it has to do with how we've organized society....The economy can't function when the vast middle class doesn't have the purchasing power to keep the economy going....We elect people we assume will make fundamental changes, and then go home and do what we were doing before without realizing that an election is just the beginning of the challenge. They need all our help and support to succeed.” I agree but it must also include insisting that our media properly inform the public, including the need to establish constructive, compassionate enforceable checks and balances on our legal system, as well as fostering a fairer and more balanced society – partly by requiring enhancing ability to learn in schools via programs such as what NYT just reported about K-12 programs to teach emotional intelligence.
In a new book, “Informing the News,” by Thomas Patterson (Harvard professor of politics and public policy), he says “Sensationalism is the hallmark of soft news, and controversy increasingly defines hard news. Unless something feels like a crisis, most journalists can't be bothered with it....Few attributes in a news story are more highly prized by a journalist than novelty.... need to attract an audience....errors go uncorrected....power rather than truthfulness is the operative word....too often profit and convenience are placed ahead of duty to inform....during the health care debate, flash points like the “death panel” dominated, so cost containment escaped public attention....Journalists are vulnerable to manipulation by their sources... NYT Op-Ed writer, Maureen Dowd- 'never before has so much information been available to us (noting web), yet never have we had greater need for information grounded in facts rather than spin and speculation.'....Patterson quotes Yale Law School's Bruce Ackerman- “Journalists will falter and ultimately fail if their set of 'facts' is seen by the public as little better than those offered up by talk show hosts.....” Patterson calls for an overhaul of journalism practice and education (need more scientific method, etc) since our democracy depends on accurate information. He quotes others who predict disaster for our democracy if facts are denied the public.
Let's "connect more dots" re our children. Kent Keith (Harvard, Oxford, famed author of "Anyway,"- The Paradoxical Commandments, Finding Meaning in a Crazy World) -"There is nothing more important than what happens to the children. If there is no hope for our children, there is no hope at all. The future of the world depends on the kinds of people today's children turn out to be." Though repeatedly informed, consider that major media including NYT, Yale Divinity School (I hand-delivered a copy and other data asking they alone or with other divinity schools expose that our family courts need review, but got no response even though I went with a recommendation from YDS alum) and Congress (given copies fall 2012) have not publicized fact reported in multiple award-winning documentary, No Way Out But One (please google it), that in ~58,000 cases per year U.S. judges give custody or unsupervised visitation to an abusive parent. NWOBO is true story of mom/kids getting asylum in Netherlands FROM U.S. Mom had hospital evidence father hitting son caused brain damage. Another of our lousy rankings- media have finally been publishing we have highest incarceration rate, including kids, in the developed world and that Europe has highly successful rehabilitation rate instead. Isn't it common sense that abusive custody or high incarceration will promote cycling abuse hurting ALL society?
ALL the above point to fact that democracy only works when it is a team sport. PLEASE insist and discuss ideas with friends, family AND media and your representatives making democracy work better!