Social Action

Human rights, community development and the like

Book & Essay: Creating Capabilities

{amazon id='0674050541'} Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach is the most recent publication by Martha Nussbaum that seeks to explain, in a more accessible manner with less “in-house” language, the Capability Approach and its theoretical foundation. Following on my last post, I think the Capability Approach is an developmental framework that is worth investigating, to understand some of the more progressive development discourse that is out there.

Here is a link to a review of Creating Capabilities on the Harvard University Press Blog, or for those who want to skip to the video, here is Martha Nussbaum herself giving a brief introduction to some of the thought around the Capability Approach.

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Castro, Doggett bring battle to Unity Day

Event, started in 1957 as a way to promote racial harmony, becomes campaign stop.

State Rep. Joaquín Castro speaks during Race Unity Day 2011 on Saturday, July 23, at the Villita Assembly Building.

When Winifred Barnum-Newman started San Antonio's Race Unity Day, she had two rules: The event couldn't be about any one religion, and no one could use the celebration to promote a political agenda.

She relayed those rules to U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, when he called and asked if he could speak at Race Unity Day on Saturday afternoon.

She passed along the same message to state Rep. Joaquín Castro when she extended an invitation to him after getting Doggett's call, because it was “the fair thing to do.”

But even that pledge couldn't prevent a little campaigning during the event at Villita Assembly Hall.

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Left Behind

Article first published as Left Behind: For Many, World Ended in 2008 on Blogcritics.

You may have breathed a sigh of relief this weekend when the world did not come to an end as predicted by the so-called "Doomsday Prophet". This was the good news. The bad news is that apparently Mr. Doomsday has revised his numbers to say that the world will actually end in October.

I agree with him that his dates where a bit off this weekend. The problem however is not that his prediction was too early but that it was way too late. The world actually ended in 2008. Remember that little financial meltdown we had back then? For many Americans, that was when their world ended. In this case I'm referring to what some psychologists describe as a person's "assumptive world", their mental map of how the world is supposed to work. Traumatic experiences often turn a person's assumptive world upside down and inside out. This is exactly what has happened to those "left behind" by the Great Recession.

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Midnight Sighing

"Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor, lest heedlessness lead them into the path of destruction, and deprive them of the Tree of Wealth. To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues." (Baha'u'llah, The Persian Hidden Words)

The Center for American Progress has some must read information about the current budget debate. It includes a jaw-dropping "infographic" comparing the cost of 10 safety net programs anticipating steep cuts and the cost of a variety of tax cuts that benefit corporations and the wealthy.

As a social worker, I witness daily the human cost of cuts like these. I'd like to invite those contemplating making such cuts to spend some time with these people, look them in the eye and tell them they are not worth the money. I'd like them to tell these folks that and then explain why those who have the least are paying for tax breaks for those who need them the least. I hear politicians telling us that "we're broke" and so have to "make sacrifices". As Michael Moore recently pointed out, that is a highly debatable assertion. Even if that were accurate, we need to have an honest debate about how we got broke. Is it really because we are spending too much money on low-income housing or early childhood programs?

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A Superstition Pure and Simple

{josquote}"People for the most part delight in superstitions. They regard a single drop of the sea of delusion as preferable to an ocean of certitude./josquote}

As some of you may know, I'm an adjunct faculty member at Boston University's School of Social Work. I've been teaching a course about the implications of racism for social work practice. At our last class we watched and discussed a lecture given by Tim Wise (you can watch the lecture here and I highly recommend that you do so). One of the things that Tim Wise talked about was the denial by white Americans of the reality of racism, citing recent poll data and polling done in the 1960's.

Today, Charles Blow of the New York Times offers commentary on another poll with some data you might find interesting:

"The poll found that 62 percent of whites who identified as Tea Party members, 56 percent of white Republicans, and even 53 percent of white independents said that today discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities. Only 30 percent of white Democrats agreed with that statement.

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