Saturday, December 18, 2010
My father graduated from high school in Estevan. He was a very high achiever. He sought to further his education in Pittsburgh, and was given a student visa. Shortly after he arrived in 1929, the Great Depression started. He could not afford the University of Pittsburgh and sought work. He could have stayed, probably undetected, but he could not go further than the menial jobs he could take as an illegal alien. He admitted his indiscretion of fasely using his status as a student and was asked to leave the country.
A year later he was given entry and returned as a legal immigrant. Obtaining jobs, getting fired, about seven times, he finally landed one as a clerk in a department store. During this time he applied for and received permanent residence and eventually in 1935, full citizenship.
His ambition never failed and he became a radio announcer for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pittsburgh Hornets (the AHL hockey team that yielded its franchise to the Penguins).
My reason for writing this blog is to illustrate that our immigration policy can and does stifle the new blood that the U.S. needs to progress and maintain its status as a world leader. My father was fortunate, and by proxy, so was I. (To learn more about my father, Joe Tucker, check out Screamer: the Forgotten Voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers.)
The Senate had a majority in favor of considering the Dream Act that would have given foreign born individuals, those who served in the military and those looking for higher education, the opportunity my father had, and he had it in the deepest part of the Great Depression. Unfortunately, Senators, mainly from the South, the Southern colony of Arizona, the Mormon states of Utah and Idaho, and Montana (afraid of an influx of Canadians??) stood in the way of their dream.
Friday, November 12, 2010
I (Murray) am a history buff. I subscribe to the philosophy that only fools are bound to repeat it. Arizona has a special place in American history. At first it was part of New Mexico. To establish a commercial base (i.e., slavery), southerners moved in to the area now known as Arizona during the mid 19th century and unilaterally called it a separate territory. The federal government ultimately recognized the area by drawing a straight north/south border between what is now Arizona and New Mexico.
The two states do, in fact, differ substantially in the make up of population and politics. New Mexico has a substantial Hispanic population who are descendants of people who were Mexican before the Mexican American War. By contrast, Arizona was settled by easterners, primarily from the south.
Looking at a relief map of Arizona, there is a mountainous area in the north that falls off to flat land. The south end of the mountainous area was the original border between Mexico and what was then the Territory of New Mexico. The land to the north was ceded to the United States after the Mexican War and contains the present day city of Phoenix. Native American tribes, Commanches and Apaches, were the primary residents, and Mexico was glad to put the defense of Mexicans who were constantly raided by the tribes onto the U.S.
Some southern leaders were concerned that northern interests controlled commerce into California and were making it a free state. A small, but powerful group of them, saw the potential of increasing their influence (particularly slavery) in southern California, and splitting the state in two, one slave, one free. In order to accomplish their goal, they sought to build a railroad from an eastern terminus in El Paso to California. The only problem was the mountainous terrain that they would have to traverse.
Mexico's President, Santa Ana, was in dire financial straits. He was concerned that the U.S. was considering another invasion and needed funds for the Army. A deal was struck to cede the flat area seen on the relief map above to the U.S. This area also includes a small strip of land in the present state of New Mexico. The large area in the relief map that is centered by the present city of Tucson, is know as the "Gadsden Purchase," named for the principal proponent of the southern link to the west coast.
This area was sparsely populated by Mexican farmers scratching a living on what is mostly desert. The current border was fixed as a line in the sand leaving relatives on both sides of the artificial border.
During seventy years after the Gadsden Purchase, it was commonplace for Mexicans to cross the border to visit relatives and to work in the U.S. Many stayed and became citizens.
We lived south of Tucson in the center of the Gadsden Purchase for two years (2004-2005) and visited Nogales, Mexico, on a regular basis. In 2004, crossing the border was easy for anyone. Then the drug gang troubles hit on the Mexican side and the streets of Nogales became deserted of tourists, businesses failed and crossing the border required scrutinized documentation for everyone.
The existence of illegal immigrants in Arizona, particularly Phoenix, has gone unrequited for many years. The illegals provided cheap labor and business and the citizenry looked the other way taking advantage of this near slave labor.
The recent growth in drug trafficking led a majority of Arizonians to accept a stark law enabling local police to carry out federal law that may be in conflict with the U.S. Constitution. It is an outgrowth of the inability of the U.S. Government to control the border with Mexico AND the inability of law enforcement in Arizona to control the traffickers. The issue is NOT illegal immigrants that has existed since the first immigration acts were passed in the early 20th century made entry to the U.S. illegal.
From my perspective, it is the geography of Arizona today represented only by an arbitrary line in the sand instead of the original natural mountainous border of 1845, the strained historic relationship of the U.S. with Mexico, and the racial attitudes of early settlers that are the foundation of the problem.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
How does the NY Times, Pittsburgh Steelers and an Art Exhibit fit together? Well it really does and came as a total surprise to both Murray and me as we researched some statistics related to our blog. This week I took a course on Search Engine Optimization and learned about inbound links and how they can help add credibility to one's website or blog. After an excellent class, part of WESST's networking and Training here in Santa Fe, I came home and discovered that Author and Artist had an inbound link from the New York Times. "Now that is high on the authority/credibility score" was Clare Zurawski's comment when I reported the link to her the second day of the course she was leading.
OK... so now what was the link? Written by Eric Dash, it was published on September 18, 2010 titled, "The Steelers at the Intersection of Iron City Beer and Art Basel." It features how "football and cultural life are so intertwined" in Pittsburgh and particularly focuses on a exhibit at the Miller Gallery of Carnegie Mellon University which opened on August 27 and runs through January 30, 2011. The Author and Artist Blog is linked when Dash talks about the "life-sized statue of running back Franco Harris's Immaculate Reception" that greets visitors to the Pittsburgh Airport. Here's the link to the NY Times article and you can link back to our article when you see the "life-size statue" highlighted.
Murray took the picture when we arrived at the Pittsburgh airport at the beginning of April 2008. We were returning to our home town of Pittsburgh to help with the Obama primary. What a trip that has proved to be from our picture with now President Obama at the Pittsburgh Airport, to great time spent with friends and family, to having this inbound link from the NY Times, not to exclude seeing Franco and other stalwarts of the Steelers' Dynasty at a Steeler Rally for Obama.
I end with a fantasy. What fun it would be to tour the "Whatever It Takes: Steeler Fan Collections, Rituals and Obsession" at the Miller Gallery of Carnegie Mellon University with my father-in-law Joe Tucker. Of course that is not possible. Joe died in 1986 and Murray has written a wonderful book about his father that I hunch many of our blog readers have enjoyed. It's called Screamer: The Forgotten Voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I can imagine Joe's enthusiasm and delight at the exhibit which "focuses on fans not as consumers but on fans as producers" with all kinds of imaginative displays. A description of the exhibit points out that the fans are "a creative force that modifies dominant culture into something much more personal and collectively creates the Steeler Nation."
Alas... living now in Santa Fe I doubt that I will get into Pittsburgh to see the Exhibit. We would love to hear from people who have seen it and if someone would like to write a guest blog on the Exhibit we would welcome that.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
1. Bradshaw fades to pass eluding rush
2. He gets the ball away
3. The ball clearly contacts Raider's Tatum while both he and Fuqua go for it.
4. Franco catches deflection at shoetop and races for winning TD.
For more Steeler and Pittsburgh sports visit my website www.murraytuckerwriter.com
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
I've been sharing the fun that I have been having exploring the film industry here in New Mexico and how much I have enjoyed being directed.
Now this has taken me in a new direction. Motivated by my work leading dance workshops in women's prison I am part of a founding board of Healing Voices - Personal Stories where we hope to create and distribute films to raise public awareness of women's striving to overcome abusive trauma. Our organization now has a beginning website and a blog that I will be posting on every few days. I hope that some of the subscribers to our Author and Artist blog will subscribe to Healing Voices - Personal Stories too.
Murray and I will continue to blog here as well.
Friday, September 3, 2010
In the 1890s the money supply was gold. For fifty years the country had increasing amounts of this commodity from California, Alaskan and Yukon gold mines. The supply of new gold began to dry up in the 90s, but not the need for it to fund expansion.
The capricious spending of the 1920s came to an abrupt end when speculators realized that the value of the stocks they owned was ethereal. The banks that lent money on what they thought was market value, suddenly found that their collateral had no substance. They could not lend and business could not find funds to continue growth.
In 2008 the basis for growth was not gold nor stocks, but the consumer's appetite for big houses funded by what was perceived to be a never-ending increase in value of their investment. Americans began to use their homes as ATMs. Again, the banks went along with this fantasy, fueled by the guru of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan.
Consumers could not afford their mortgages and cut back on spending. Business saw inventories increasing and cut back on both hiring and making additional product. Banks stopped wild loans of 100% or more of value. While the basis was different (houses as collateral versus stocks as collateral) the problem was the same. Loss of liquidity.
In 1935 along came John Maynard Keynes who wrote The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. He basically said that there are three components of any economy: What consumers spend, what business invests, and what Government spends (or invests). These three items comprise the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Reduce any one of them and GDP decreases.
The deficits caused by our participation in World War II brought an end to the Great Depression and convinced some that Keynes was right, that government must step in when the other elements of GDP are not viable.
A moratorium on the Employment Tax (FICA) that funds Social Security is now being considered. In fact, Senator Scott Brown (R. Mass) had indicated his support of this idea in January. This tax goes into a Trust Fund that is then borrowed by the Government to fund deficit spending and may be the largest lender to the General Revenue. Stopping this tax does not add to the general deficit. It is not part of the federal budget.
What does a moratorium do? First, we do not have a problem for funding Social Security until about 2037 under current actuarial calculations. By allowing current employees to use these funds that would otherwise be a tax, consumer spending will increase immediately. Secondly, business who will save their portion of FICA will have funds to both increase investment and incentive to hire additional workers since the cost of wages will be reduced by the elimination of the FICA tax.
The placement of funds in the hands of consumers and business will be the fastest way to improve the GDP. Keynes would be smiling.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
The cost of oil brought up from the near surface wells in the Middle East is by far less costly and less environmentally challenging than that from the Gulf. True, the U.S. MIGHT get some royalty income from the leases if the Interior Department can get its act together to collect this income. But this oil will not make a dent in our use and there is no reason to believe that the oil drilled from offshore will reduce our out of pocket cost-in fact such payments will probably increase since the oil produced off shore is the most costly oil to produce on the market.
A sound energy policy should not have as one of its facets the cost-ineffective off shore drilling that has led to making the Gulf of Mexico an oil tanker, polluted shorelines and sickened inhabitants of Louisiana, many of whom do not have health insurance.
There is a superabundance of finance experts in the Administration. There needs to be a stable of experts on strategic markets, like oil.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Unemployment, today, can be traced to the construction industry. The overbuilding of the period from 2001-2007, spurred on by ridiculous lending by banks and mortgage companies, made available well-paying jobs for people who did not need education. Construction jobs stimulated jobs in ancillary industries for wood products and structural steel, to mention two.
I am old enough to remember to have worked on a similar structural economic problem that became acute in the early 1960’s. We had emerged from World War II and the Korean War. The defense industries that had thrived in this period were seeking government largesse that President Eisenhower warned against: the military-industrial complex. But the steel industry and its major ancillary industry coal mining were in increasingly desperate shape.
The Appalachian Regional Commission was created to seek solutions to the horrific poverty that we were seeing in states like West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. Leaders of cities like Pittsburgh saw its future in industries other than steel. The Congress was persuaded to invest in education through the National Defense Education Act.
Today, we do not have such leaders as the progressive, David Lawrence, and the ultra conservative, Richard Mellon, who combined to shift from the pollution of steel to transform Pittsburgh to where you can now see that the sky is really blue. We do not have the sharp political wits that made the Kennedy-Johnson period a political success story.
If it takes using the Defense budget, perhaps that is where our emphasis should be. We have a war in the U.S., but it is not in Iraq, Iran, Israel, but at home. We are growing an increasingly uneducated work force at just a time when just the reverse is needed.
Let’s shift our defense spending from planes, tanks and guns to educating our future generations and retraining the lost generation.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
I returned on Sunday from the Run for the Roses. I wanted to write this note as quickly as possible so that I would not forget. Art pledged me to complete secrecy about what I had heard, and other than writing and filing this note; I will not speak of what transpired.
Besides me, there were three others at the Derby Saturday, Art Rooney, Bill Dudley, and Fran Fogarty. “Bullet Bill” had finished the 1946 season as the most spectacular player I or anyone else had ever seen. Art wanted to sign him for the ’47 season, but there were problems. He had had several clashes with that other Steelers great, the coach, ‘Jock’ Sutherland. Bill had been a standout at Virginia where they played the new T-formation. In the single wing, Bill was often left open to punishing tackles. He wanted the coach to modify and got into a heated argument with him over tactics.
Having finished the season under the unwavering coach, Dudley came to Louisville with one mission. If he were going to continue with the Steelers, he would have to be paid a lot more than the $5,000 he made for 1946. He told Art that he understood that “Whizzer” White had a contract for $15,000 a decade earlier, and that either he would get $25,000 or he would retire.
Art told Bill that he had been carrying the team for the war years and it was only in 1946 that the team began to almost pay for itself. Bill was noticeably upset, but knew that Art was being truthful. He told him that the maximum he could go was $10,000, but would agree to a bonus if certain conditions were met. The possibility of anything approaching Bill’s figure was not remotely possible.
Bill was downcast when we parted, he back to Virginia, we, back to Pittsburgh.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
When I worked in policy development, comprehensive took the form of PPBS or Program Planning Budgeting Systems. This concept evolved from the attempts by the Defense Department to get its budget to where results related to dollars spent. The problem, it required the Representative in Congress to gore the hides of a majority of its members.
The same is true for the bills passed by the Senate and House on Health Insurance Reform. No one questions the need for reform, but almost each step proposed in each of these comprehensive packages has an impact on individual representatives that necessitates him or her to register a no vote, or worse, get “paid off.”
As of the first of March 2010, passing a comprehensive change has been placed in the hands of Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House. If she could garner a majority, the very imperfect Senate package could be passed and sent to the President. An astute politician, she has decided the easy way out is to throw the ball back to the poorly operating Senate and let them muddle through. History has shown that this maneuver may be clever politics, but cowardly and likely to lead to no change for a health care system that is on its way to total disaster.
Comprehensive proposals rarely pass Congress. FDR barely did it with the Social Security Act in 1935 and LBJ squeaked by on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Comprehensive reform of the Defense Department budget sought by Robert McNamara was DOA as it cut programs in too many Congressional Districts, programs that if considered separately would have won majorities in most aspects.
Republicans have been crude and gamey in their political attacks. But, underlying their arrogance is a political reality, expressed most effectively by Senator Alexander. The comprehensive nature of the House and Senate proposals cannot receive clear majorities. Their supercilious proposal of “shred and start over” is reflective of the political reality that the substance in each proposal can have an up or down vote that might lead to comprehensive change: to paraphrase Senator Alexander, incrementalism will garner bipartisan support for most of the pillars in each proposal, that the political fight will be over a small percentage of items that may pass or fail by narrow votes.
The late Senator Kennedy understood this political reality and worked diligently on structuring incremental change. He also publicly scolded himself for not working with the Nixon Administration when it proposed a comprehensive health care program in 1974 when the percentage of GNP spent on health care was only 8% (now 17% and growing). I would like to think that the Congressional leadership would have learned this lesson from history. It’s all right to think comprehensively on health care reform, but realism dictates that enactment will occur only through passing elements incrementally.