I want to bring attention to two write-in candidates for Congress, Mary Jeanne Pahls for District 1 and Robert Anderson for Senate.
This couple is running on almost no money with their campaign called "Write for New Mexico." They are teachers and passionate about issues affecting the people that aren't being attended to. They know they probably cannot win, yet they are willing to spend a great deal of effort in spite of their busy days as teachers to make the public aware of the issues.
They say education, for instance, could easily be funded by reducing the military budget. What about that awful news of the money Obama plans to spend to refurbish the nuclear arsenal? That, to many of us, is unconscionable. Isn't it really just war profiteering?
If more people were willing to stand up for serious issues affecting our community in ways like this, we would all benefit. Maybe even those young people who are turned off by what they see as a corrupt government system would be willing to vote.
Maximize the Minimum
A full-time, minimum-wage worker in Albuquerque earns $15,600 a year. It would be hard enough for a single person to survive on this, so imagine trying to support a child or even two. Yet close to 40 percent of residents who earn the minimum wage have children.
That’s what’s at stake when voters go to the polls in November and decide whether to raise Albuquerque’s minimum wage by a dollar to $8.50 an hour and make future annual increases automatic based on the cost of living.
This modest increase would help students, full-time workers and working families pay for basic necessities—rent, food, childcare, transportation and health care—and boost the city’s economy.
Sixteen percent of Albuquerque’s residents live below the poverty line, according to census data, and nearly 30 percent of the city’s children are poor. Occupations that have experienced the most job growth in the city are retail sales, cashiers and food preparation– jobs that are most likely to pay minimum wage. Some 14.3 percent of Albuquerque’s working families would see their incomes increase if voters approve the minimum wage boost in November.
Opponents argue that raising the minimum wage would hurt the very people we are trying to help by reducing employment. But there is little-to-no evidence to support this claim, anecdotally or otherwise.
For instance, Santa Fe, which has an indexed minimum wage of $10.29 an hour, has an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent, two percentage points lower than Albuquerque, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
More broadly, a comparison of all neighboring counties located on different sides of a state border with different minimum wage levels between 1990 and 2006 found that higher minimum wages did no harm to employment, according to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.
A minimum wage increase in Albuquerque is long overdue. It’s not right or smart for any business to pay a wage that impoverishes working men and women and their families, as well as our communities and our neighborhoods. Boosting the wages of low-paid workers who could then purchase the goods and services they need is effective medicine for Albuquerque’s ailing economic recovery.
Hate speech is defined as communication that carries no meaning other than the expression of hatred for some group, especially in circumstances in which the communication is likely to provoke violence. It is an incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion, and sexual orientation.
Given the media infrastructure and democratic values of the U.S., I would never have imagined that such problems existed here. However, upon my arrival the issue became very apparent—especially in New Mexico, where a significant amount of the population is Latino and Native.
As a member of the international media, I believe it is our duty to speak out for marginalized groups, and advocate for our rights. I am encouraged by and thankful for the work of organizations, such as the Media Literacy Project, that work on a local level to keep the media accountable to the people of New Mexico.
In Uganda, we concentrate on fighting corruption and holding leaders accountable, while the media campaigns here at MLP are geared toward media justice for the rural poor and people of color.
As part of the Siembra La Palabra Digna campaign, MLP has taken the lead on organizing community stakeholders and citizens of Albuquerque to pass a formal resolution at the Albuquerque City Council. This Hate Speech Ordinance will send a message to corporate and privately owned media companies—a message that states that Albuquerque seeks to be a safe and welcoming place for all people, and will not tolerate communication that incites hate and violence.
At Uganda Media Development Foundation, we ensure that the media plays a meaningful role in helping grassroots organizations understand democracy, but at the same time practice conflict-sensitive journalism to foster development without minimizing ethical and professional journalistic standards.
The current Hate Speech Ordinance that Media Literacy Project is working on certainly falls under the categorization of conflict-sensitive journalism. We must find a way to report on the issues that are important to civil society in a way that brings community stakeholders, policy makers and special interests together as opposed to a way that pushes them further apart.
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