When we gather together

Over the weekend, sure as there will be football on television, hunters in woods and a few turkeys catching on fire, there will be some discussions around the dinner table.

That’s the way it should be. I know I’ll be having a few and wanted to get some facts. Thought you might like some too, just in case.

MYTH: The Super Committee failed because Democrats and Republicans refused to compromise.

FACT: Check out this link for the New York Times lengthy description of what went wrong.

If you don’t want to read the whole thing, here’s an excerpt:

A potential breakthrough occurred in a meeting in the Capitol late on the night of Nov. 7, when Republicans, led by Mr. Toomey, offered a $1.2 trillion package that included $300 billion of new tax revenue. It was the first time Republicans had shown themselves open to significant amounts of new taxes.

But as Democrats studied the proposal, they found much to criticize. The proposal would have permanently reduced tax rates for all taxpayers, and Democrats objected, in particular, to lowering the rates paid by the most affluent Americans.

This is when the patient seemed to take a turn for the worse.

In the eyes of Republicans, when Democrats rejected the Toomey plan, saying it would provide a windfall for millionaires and billionaires, little more could be accomplished.

Or check out this link to the Washington Post analysis. I like the headline: “In supercomittee, Dems moved right and Republicans moved righter.”

Perhaps talk will also turn to the Occupy movement. I know I’ve had a few interesting conversation. The myths are many. Here’s three:

  • Nobody knows what the Occupy protesters want.
  • Occupiers are just people who can’t find a job.
  • Occupiers provoke violence against banks and the police.

The core problems the movement is striving to draw attention to are: that corporations have far too much power in our political system, that Wall Street banks crashed our economy but were never held accountable, and that the richest 400 Americans have more wealth than 156 million of us.

And those realities, those facts have led us to this situation, where there aren’t any jobs, and thanks to the promise of more cuts, it doesn’t look like there will be jobs soon.

As to Occupiers provoking violence, the pictures clearly show the protesters mostly using non-violent methods. Here’s another photo gallery. Yes, violence has happened and here’s a link to the Occupy Oakland statement decrying violence there.

MYTH: Schools are failing, and nobody cares.

FACT: Public education in New York state gets great results.

Here are two statistics: New York is fourth in the nation in improving graduation rates and number one in closing the gap in fourth grade reading.

As to nobody cares, here’s just one recent example about what a group of students from Ossining did for their homeless neighbors today.

A perfectly roasted turkey, candied yams, pumpkin pie, corn muffins, cranberry relish, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy were all part of a delicious Thanksgiving meal prepared by students at Anne M. Dorner Middle School for the Jan Peek Shelter for the homeless in Peekskill.

The students, all in sixth, seventh or eighth grade, prepared the meal in teacher Barbara Anderson-Greenfield’s class. Along the way, they practiced reading skills and fractions, learned about early American history and Thanksgiving traditions and talked about social justice.

“We are quadrupling the recipes so that tied in nicely with the study of measurements that they are doing in science right now,” said Anderson-Greenfield. “We read from diaries and letters and other primary documents to learn about Thanksgiving traditions.”

As Samantha Ferguson stirred sweet potatoes, butter and brown sugar together in a pan, she spoke about the benefits of preparing a meal that will feed 16 people. “It’s is exciting to know that we are helping people and making them feel good,” she said.

Meanwhile, Brandon Duran spoke to another side benefit of the project – team building. “I consider all of you family because you helped me clean up,” he said.

That’s just one example. There are so many more. Thank you for all you are doing every day and this holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving all!

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