A Canadian Bank That Supports U.S. Housing Projects for Low-Income Families – Housing – Inside Philanthropy

The Canadian lender TD Bank was one of the good guys during the housing boom. It didn’t gorge itself on subprime loans and end up in the crosshairs of government investigators. The bank prides itself on being a responsible company, and puts out an impressive corporate responsibility report discussing its work. Among other things, its philanthropic arm, the TD Charitable Foundation, funds in the housing sector, giving away $2.5 million a year in a competitive grant award program called “Housing for Everyone.”

via A Canadian Bank That Supports U.S. Housing Projects for Low-Income Families – Housing – Inside Philanthropy.

Why Is a Health Funder Backing Work on “Sustainable Neighborhoods” in the Bay Area?

If you’ve ever lived in a gentrification zone, you can probably figure what the term “sustainable neighborhoods” means. These would be places where, among other things, low-income, elderly, and disabled folks aren’t bulldozed aside by development trends dictated strictly by market forces.

via Why Is a Health Funder Backing Work on “Sustainable Neighborhoods” in the Bay Area? – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.

Dr. Lani’s Bone Health Guide — a Helpful Primer for Middle Age

laniNow that I am at the age that I find myself thinking about my bones and how they are doing, I was happy to find Dr. Lani’s No-Nonsense Bone Health Guide by Lani Simpson, DC, CCD. For people like me who have questions about whether you are getting the right nutrients for optimal bone health, or whether your back pains require special attention, Dr. Lani’s book is quite helpful.

The book is broken down into sections that explain the kind of testing and tools that doctors use to diagnose bone density and assess you for your personal fracture risk.  It then goes on to:

  • explore osteoporosis medications (for me, it is the big question of whether someday I will be asked to consider taking Fosamax, which my mother took);
  • describe alternative medications (this covers the gamut of supplements out there touting their bone health benefits);
  • discuss hormones (another big question we middle age women face — whether to use hormone replacement therapy);
  • explain how to assess your own gut health and understand how it impacts your bone health.

The final two chapters are dedicated to food and exercise — the two major lifestyle keys to healthy bones. I picked up some good reminders for myself in these chapters — mainly to keep up a raw food/real food diet as much as possible, and to keep up daily exercise.

I found this book highly accessible and readily applicable to my own life experience and the questions I have about bone health.  In particular, it helped me to understand some of the connections between how food is absorbed and bone is created and recreated in our bodies.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is having back problems or is worried about their future bone health.  This book will help you decide how to resolve your problem, and it will give you the information to ask much more detailed questions of the practitioners you may end up seeing for bone health.

We’re Number One! We’re Number One!

Here in Rhode Island, the littlest state in the nation, we don’t get to say we’re number one very often. But here’s our chance: right now it appears that we’re number one in the country for screwing the public sector worker out of long-term financial security. From the Associated Press:

Despite jeers and the threat of a lawsuit from public workers, Rhode Island lawmakers on Thursday night approved one of the most far-reaching overhauls to a public pension system in the nation.

The proposal is intended to save billions of dollars in future years by backing away from promised benefits to state and municipal workers in the state-run pension plan. Lawmakers called Thursday’s vote one of the most wrenching they’ve had to cast, though the fight may not be over if unions follow through with promised lawsuits.

When I look around the street I live on, which is a modest street in its home values, I see a lot of my neighbors who are going to be impacted by this. The cumulative loss of the additional cost-of-living increase might well cost some of these individuals their homes someday. These are teachers, administrative workers, and security workers for the state, just to name a few.

Treasurer Raimondo’s response for why EngageRI, the organization that supports her agenda, does not need to disclose its financial backers is because pension reform “benefits everyone.” This is just a bald-faced lie. A large percentage of our state’s workers just lost a big piece of long-term income security. They are now going to have to clamp down on spending and save more to fund their own retirements. These are people who will not be able to give to nonprofits or support that local band fundraiser or go out to eat but once in a blue moon to save the extra money.

If we want to benefit everyone, we need to take from those who have too much. The “too much” line in my mind gets drawn when we are talking millions and billions in income and assets. When enough people finally realize what is going on and the top 5% start to pay their share again, we might have enough money to rebuild our country. But by then, we may be too far gone.

Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos

It was morning in America until Barack Obama was elected, right? Dave Johnson at Campaign for America’s Future addresses the collective amnesia.

But here is some reality anyway, even if we’re not supposed to see it. Just ten years ago we were paying off debt at a rate that would have completely paid it all off by now. But under George W. Bush we cut taxes for the rich and more than doubled military spending. We deregulated and stopped enforcing laws. We let the big corporations run rampant. Our federal budget turned from huge surpluses to massive deficits, and Bush said it was “incredibly positive news” because it would lead to a debt crisis they could use to shock people into letting the corporate right privatize and thereby profit.

And then, under and because of Bush, our economy collapsed.

I see the Republicans lacking a leader with the decency to stand against the most crazy superstitions of their right wing– the Birthers, the privatizing profiteers and the Ayn Rand disciples who claim that paying taxes to your own country and local government is the equivalent of rape and slavery– though they’ll keep the clean water, paved roads and Medicare, thank you. If the blinkered and callous statements about the uninsured is any indicator– ‘they can just go to the emergency room’- these people are not only ignorant but happy and complacent in their ignorance.

I see the Democrats lacking the vision and daring to bring a 21st Century New Deal to the American people. They, like the Republicans, are caught in a system where fundraising takes precedence over governing. The Supreme Court decision that money is a form of free speech was one of the worst setbacks to Democracy we have seen in our history. If you want to burn down a house, or level a playing field, or start fresh– look at campaign finance. Our politicians, most of them, are more to be pitied than censured. Save them from selling themselves on the streets!

Our President, Barack Obama, is a decent, smart, principled man. He is leading in a time of crisis. I think he is looking ahead, and what he sees is something neither party will find conducive to their political narratives.

We have seven billion people on this planet. In the developed nations, people are blessed to live to advanced age. This brings us a graying population and new challenges. Medicare is one of the best solutions we have, along with the Veterans Administration, and should not be cut, but strengthened and expanded. However, ‘hands off Medicare’ is not realistic. The salvation of health care is constant assessment of what works and what doesn’t. Barack Obama’s disclosure that his grandmother had a hip replacement that did not gain her health or comfort reflects the uncertainties and hard choices I see every day in elder care. But when I attended Town Hall meetings about health care reform, I found myself staring down some guys who were holding a sign that said, ‘Obama Lies-Grandma Dies’. This is not only a vicious slur against a politician who disclosed a real truth about his actual family–it was a slur against health professionals. I mean, we nurses are all supposedly jonesing for a seat on the ‘death panels’. I wish more of our politicians knew how much hard labor it takes to keep a totally disabled person in comfort and dignity. Many ordinary Americans know, because we are caring for our families.

Health care rationing? We have had it from day one. Health is rationed out to the rich, always has been. Look at the stats. Race being less a mark of heredity than a marker of caste in our very mixed nation– you see that health is distributed unequally. This matches unequal access.

But I think using ‘rationing’ as a scare word veils the truth. We have to decide how much of our national wealth will go to health care rather than other legitimate needs, such as education and infrastructure. Throwing money at Grandma will make some medical providers rich, but won’t necessarily make her healthier or happier. We have to fund research that will question accepted treatments and judge the outcomes so that we can avoid wasting money on dead ends– treatments that are painful and do more harm than good. A national health program like Medicare will always be ‘hands on’.

Another reality we are facing is peak oil. ‘Drill Baby, Drill’ gets harder when we run out of areas where rich people won’t be inconvenienced. Worldwide the demand for fossil fuels is getting harder to fill without political and environmental damage. George Bush famously said that history doesn’t matter, because we’ll all be dead. Others believe in The Rapture. The vast majority of us, though, do think about what we will leave to our children. We can’t honestly promise an endless future of increasing consumption because physics doesn’t work that way. So what do we do? This ‘austerity’ will be working its way up from the people who are ‘used to it’ sooner rather than later. If we care about the future we have to invest in damage control today.

I hope that President Obama will get out of the middle of the road. As a former presidential candidate, Fred Harris, said, ‘The middle of the road has nothing but yellow stripes and dead armadillos.’

If Barack Obama is, as I believe, a good president in bad times, he needs our vocal support for his best ideas. If he is, as some of his critics say, just another politician– then we have to hold his feet to the fire.

Some are saying that a President Romney would galvanize the opposition and swing the pendulum to a new resurgence of the left. As I recollect the Reagan years, it doesn’t necessarily work that way. And after eight years of George Bush we are darn tired of holding signs in the rain and snow.

The time to organize is now. I’m not surrendering, and I’m not staying home on election day. The Bush administration drilled holes in the ship of state before handing it over, disaster capitalism has salvage profiteers ready. This is a mess, but if you blame the last two years of President Obama, you have to forget the previous eight when George Bush turned peace and surplus into war and deficit. That being said, it’s President Obama’s watch now. Our president and party need to offer the American people a New Deal.