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Sep 20
2010

Mad MDs

Posted by Bruce Robinson in waste , speaker , Santa Rosa , rights , poverty , policy , media , legislation , healthcare , Health , government , finances , economy , Congress , business , activism

Bruce Robinson

mad_as_hell_doctors_button.jpgNo one has a better first-hand view of the problems with this country’s health care system than the doctors who work in it, a vantage point that has made some of them “mad as hell” about it.

 

hochfeld.jpgAs a strong advocate for a single payer health care system, Dr. Paul Hochfeld had hopes that the federal health care reform debate this year would lead to some major improvements. When the final bill was passed, however, he was deeply disappointed. madashelllbus.jpgFrom his position inside the current system, Dr. Hochfeld recognizes the power of the fiscal incentives to provide maximized, specialized care during the final few weeks or days of a patient's life. Yet he argues, it is widely acknowledged that this approach is both highly expensive, and often contrary to the comfort and well-being of the patient.
 
[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qvw3Wew__YA 360x240]
 
hmf.jpeg You can find out more about Dr. Hochfeld and his film at his website.
Sep 20
2010

Local Businesses

Posted by Bruce Robinson in speaker , Sonoma County , research , policy , nonprofit orgs , jobs , Ideas , government , finances , employment , economy , community , business , author

Bruce Robinson
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Small businesses have a disproportionately big impact on the local economy, especially when it comes to creating jobs. But public policy has been slow to recognize that. The need for changes was a central theme at Monday's Smart Growth Symposium, presented the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy.



ms.jpgOn the global economic playing field, the ongoing tug-of-war between local business and corporate giants can be distilled into competing views of how capitalism should work, explains Mike Shuman, Director for Research and Economic Development for the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). He likes to think of them as two quite different women.


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Many consumers are already aware of and acting on the desirability of directing their spending toward local businesses. But few give much thought to taking the same approach with their retirement accounts and other investments. Shuman explains how some of the long-standing obstacles to doing that are beginning to go away.
 
Sep 09
2010

"Remaking California"

Posted by Bruce Robinson in state government , policy , legislation , immigration , Ideas , government , education , community , California , budget

Bruce Robinson

There’s widespread agreement that California’s state government is dysfunctional and “broken.”  Our constitution was adopted when the the Golden State small, homogenous and barely industrialized. What will it take to bring the mechanics of the California'’s governance into the 21st century?

In addition to editing Remaking California: Reclaiming the Public Good, R. Jeffrey Lustig, a  professor of government at Cal State Sacramento, contributed chapters framing the overall issue and spelling out the metholoogy and some suggested changes to be made in a "people's constitutional convention." Other contitutional changes are proposed in a series of essays from diverse thinkers and analysts including historian Kevin Starr, poet Gary Gnyder, and former north coast legislator Barry Keene.

mmw_ballotNothing has changed the California state constitution as much as the statewide initiative process, which Lustig explains was an early reform measure that, over time, came to be emlpoyed in ways that countermand the reformers' intentions.

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california-seal.pngProposition 14, passed by California voters last June, was presented as a reform that would reign in partisan extremism through a sort of Open Primary. Lustig, however, is not conviced that either the state issue or the adopted change is an accurate assessment of the state's current crisis of governance.

R. Jeffrey Lustig will talk about Remaking California and some of the ideas in it tonight at the Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County, 467 Sebastopol Avenue in Santa Rosa, at 7 pm. The event is co-sponsored by the Living Wage Coalition of Sonoma County. Details can be found here.

 

 

Sep 02
2010

Rebuilding in Kyrgyzstan

Posted by Bruce Robinson in war , volunteer , poverty , peace , nonprofit orgs , land rights , international , housing , history , government , families , economy , current events , construction , activism

Bruce Robinson

Of all the international hot spots where disaster assistance workers were needed last summer, Kyrgyzstan didn’t get a lot of attention. But that’s where one local volunteer spent most of July, working on rebuilding after a regime change and a spate of internal ethnic conflict.

cotton.jpgOver the past 11 years,  Chris and John Mason, co-owners of Emtu Winery in Forestville, have regularly traveled to distant, damaged parts of the world to aid in disaster relief efforts, regardless of the source of the troubles. (Here, John pauses for a picture with a cotton vendor in Osh, Kyrgyrzstan.)

As shown in this map, Kyrgyzstan lies mostly between China, to the south and east, and Kazakhstan on the north. But the southwestern bornder withUzbekistan and  Tajikistan is a cartographical jigsaw, whihc John Mason says was deliberately drawn to heighten historic mistrust between the ethnic Kyrgis and Uzbeks.
 
The ancient "Silk Road" passes through much of Kygyrstan, which John Mason found to be a beautiful and especially hospitable land.
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