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Dear Friends of The Peace House Hopes, Action and Agenda,
Donations you’ve sent us since our Year-End-Year letter inspire us. We are launching 2019 with vigor and hope. Our mission always is to educate, advocate, simplify the issues and catalyze effective actions by everyone who’s with us. We’re supporting bold policies this year for Oklahoma, the U.S., Mother Nature, and the world. This letter outlines agendas, events, and opportunities. Let’s join our efforts with everyone working to make this a better world.
The November Elections added new faces – especially women – to Congress and the Oklahoma State Legislature. We are jazzed by significant new opportunities to change bad policies and add good ones to the mix to make a difference for people in America and around the world.
MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY
Peace House had a table-of-8 and a display at the annual MLK Breakfast in Midwest City. At the Noon Program at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Batch gave the welcome and “set the stage” for the day. At 2:00 pm, our flag-draped “float” and waving friends participated in the 2019 OKC MLK Parade.
TRUMP’S “STATE OF THE UNION” SPEECH
His calls for unity; use of idealistic clichés about America’s historic successes; use of guests whose lives evoke heroism or tragedy; these clanked with inauthenticity from the President who has relied since his campaign upon confrontation, division, hostility, insulting language and self-serving narcissism. America’s “economic uptick” he brags about is the result of policies implemented during Obama’s presidency and Trump’s reversal of 80 environmental regulations and world agreements. Once again, Trump promised infrastructure investment and service to the Middle Class, of which nothing has been seen. The proudly trumpeted $3-Trillion “Big Tax Cut” mostly benefits wealthy Americans and may have increased taxation on the bottom third. Reflecting on the speech, the New York Times editorialized that if there is to be a better day in the USA, it is up to us – The People.
RESTORE OKLAHOMA’s 7% GROSS PRODUCTION TAX
After thousands of teachers demonstrated at the State Capitol last year, the Legislature raised the GPT on oil & gas production to 5% – but not to 7% – to fund a salary increase for teachers. A 7% GPT would still be one of the lowest in the US. Oklahoma’s budget is criminally under-funded, and all social spending has been cut (during Mary Fallin’s two terms, the Legislature cut the state income tax rate every year.) Peace House encourages every Oklahoma organization to take a position supporting a 7% GPT, and make it known to media and Legislature.
FOR OKLAHOMA THIS YEAR: MEDICAID EXPANSION
Peace House seeks collaboration with groups and people working on it. It will Bring Oklahoma tax dollars home: For six years, our federal tax dollars have supported Medicaid expansion in 30 other states that accepted it. It will extend Medicaid health insurance to 150,000 Oklahomans currently not insured, saving lives, improving state health statistics, and improving worker performance. It will save rural hospitals and health clinics; Oklahoma has already lost more than a dozen. We can
stop such losses if we accept Medicaid Expansion. If we had accepted Medicaid expansion when it was first available, Oklahoma would have received some $6 Billion by now. We gladly accept federal money for highways and education, but not for health care. We must tell State Senators & Representatives (and Governor Stitt): Medicaid Expansion Now!
FOR AMERICA THIS YEAR: The GREEN NEW DEAL
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) have introduced a house resolution detailing a sweeping plan to move the US toward carbon-neutrality, create millions of jobs, and improve the quality of life, especially for those most needing it. It calls for a single-payer health care plan covering all Americans and a federal jobs guarantee. It calls for upgrading existing buildings to achieve energy efficiency and standards for new buildings. “We’ve introduced a Resolution, not a bill,” they explain. “The first task is to realistically define the challenges we face and our proposed solutions. Then the legislative work begins.” Beat the drums. Sound the trumpets.
FOR AMERICA THIS YEAR: THE WEALTH TAX proposed by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Individuals whose wealth exceeds $50 Million (all assets included) would pay 2% per year to the federal government. This is a big step toward reducing the gaping wealth disparity between rich and poor in America. Forty years of tax and trade policies have resulted in vast concentrations of wealth among a very few people. Over the last 40 years the number of Billionaires in America has increased from 10 to 600! and those 600 individuals average $5 Billion apiece.
NUCLEAR MADNESS: Physicians for Social Responsibility and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear Ward decry the Trump administration’s pulling out of the INF – Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty. It’s Cold War lunacy. Intermediate-Range Nuclear Missiles make nuclear war more likely because they reduce missile flight time to just minutes, drastically cutting the time to discover “a computer glitch.” America must negotiate to resolve alleged non-compliance, not quit the Treaty. Billions wasted on nuclear weapons and imperfect “defense systems” could be spent on human need, human development and environmental sustainability. War has simply become obsolete and stupid.
WALL MADNESS: In letters to editors we’ve repeated that “A Wall is the most expensive, least effective strategy to curtail border crossings.” It is an ugly concept, insulting and offensive to all our neighbors south of the border. It is an environmental disaster, blocking migration of species. Why do Republicans stand with Trump on such a bad idea? Democrats must hold the line and say, “No Wall! No Way!”
DANGER OF US INTERVENTION: Evidence and healthy skepticism suggest that mass demonstrations in Venezuala demanding the resignation of President Nicolás Maduro in favor of opposition leader Juan Guaidó may be part of a CIA operation to affect regime change pleasing to US interests. The CIA did this in Iran in 1953. A National Peace March in Washington, DC, is scheduled for March 16th. Local actions are being considered. Stay tuned.
Feb. 16 – RED CABARET – 7pm Evening of music and drama, Free-Will Donations, at & for Church of the Open Arms.
Feb. 25, Monday – “Day at the Legislature” sponsored by OK Conference of Churches. 8:30am check-in & registration at the State Capitol, 4th Floor Rotunda. Programs from 9:00am to 4:30pm. Inspiring speeches and information. Cost including lunch is $50 per person. Sign up @ <www.okchurches.org>
Feb. 26 – “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense” – Lobby Day at the Capitol, 9am to 2pm.
Feb. 27 – Planned Parenthood – Lobby Day at the Capitol, 9am to 3pm.
March, 2019: Hands in the Soil Gardening & Spirituality Program at Commonwealth Urban Farm, Oklahoma City.
Clergy Hands in the Soil, starts Fri. Mar.1 and First Fridays for 9 months. Hands-on gardening and spirituality exercises.
Laity Hands in the Soil, starts Fri. Mar.8, and Second Fridays for 9 months. Ditto above.
More information: Pat Hoerth Bellmon Batchelder (580) 917-6011.
March 2 – The Oklahoma Democratic Party’s 2019 “Medallion Dinner” Saturday, March 2, 2019 at the Credit Union House, 631 E. Hill St., OKC
April is Earth Month – O.U. is sponsoring Dr. Kathryn Hayhoe, Environmental Biologist and Spiritual Leader from Texas Tech U. for a month in Oklahoma: March 22 to April 22. More info coming.
April 4th – MLK Tree Memorial Commemoration – 5 pm, Thursday April 4th, 5:00 pm on the State Capitol grounds, east of the South Plaza, by the MLK Tree. The 50-Year Memorial of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
April 20 – Sierra Club of Oklahoma is sponsoring a big Earth Day event in Tulsa on the Guthrie Green.
Please support the Peace House
Your gifts and enclosed notes to us are both equally nourishing. In These Times, our communities of belonging and identity are crucial to our emotional health and serenity. Please use the enclosed envelope to return a donation – small, medium, or large – to The Peace House. Thanks.
With Hope and Love,
Nathaniel “Batch” Batchelder