Editor’s note: LR Net is a journal of opinion regarding national and international political matters. However, we firmly believe that Tip O’Neil had it right when he said that all politics is local. Therefore, we actively seek out material that addresses local issues. This week, we are honored to present a note from Albuquerque resident Pauline, who asks what we should all be asking ourselves: what can we do to counter Trump in our localities, and how can we make the world a better place.
I moved to Albuquerque and Bernalillo County one year ago. Rapidly I’m learning why this city and county have so many problems. Last year I read about the very extensive raise the County Commissioners gave themselves. This year they can’t even all agree to fund a 15 cent per hour raise for the employees in the county, excluding ABQ. The Commissioners might spend the same amount picking up the check for one evening at a nice restaurant that these minimum wage workers take home, having worked a 40 hour week, at the typical low wage job in this city and county. Commissioners, You can’t even agree to raise this wage 15 cents an hour?
I’ve lived in what the U.S. considers 3rd world countries. Commonalities of those countries: Many diversions in the form of entertainment, sporting events, holidays and ritual celebrations, media, a low level of literacy, a school system seeming to be based on educating people to “go along to get along without questioning authority,” a huge number of people who are so poor most of their energy goes to just keeping a roof over their heads (if they can even find one) and food for each day, a relatively small middle class, a few VERY wealthy people running things, and a tax system that continues to benefit the extremely wealthy year after year and drain the middle class because their wages are never raised. Money just keeps benefitting those who already have it and starves the lower middle income and the poor from ever making any headway. Any familiarity?
Why am I hearing, from students, that the schools in Albuquerque don’t have toilet paper and soap in the students’ bathrooms? Supplying those basic needs is a sign of respect for everyone and helps meet fundamental health needs. Why is there such over crowding in the classrooms? Why are the teachers’ salaries so low that the best and brightest cannot come to teach here because they cannot live here and repay student debt? What’s with the lab & tech supplies students need for 21 Century prep?
The entrenched politics of “this is the way we have always done it” will not move this city and county forward. I hear lots of talk, from people who have lived here all their lives, about how they don’t remember when things have ever been this bad. We cannot lock up enough people to make ABQ and Bernalillo County safe. What will it take to turn things around and have a healthy place for everyone? One suggestion would be—The high schools need to get vocational training back at the high school level so teens see why school is relevant and stay in it. Business needs to partner with all the high schools to let students check out potential paths forward. Every student graduating from high school MUST know how to read, at least well enough to deal with the tech that is their future and our future. If necessary, innovative Special Education needs much greater funding to help make this happen. The friendliness & courtesy of our workforce is already a tremendous asset to attract new business and industry. We need to get the other qualifications up to speed.
The Commissioners voted to begin setting up a system to deal with behavioral health issues that are so basic to many of the challenges here. Currently it takes up to 6 months to get an appointment. We don’t need grand plans & solutions created by people who have been fortunate enough never to have experienced these difficulties. The research for effective solutions has been done here and in different locations.. Get the people experiencing homelessness, addiction, joblessness, mental health issues, etc. around tables with some of the problem solvers with proven track records here. Let’s get moving on innovative new ideas for actually solving issues and moving things forward instead of just talking about old solutions that have dragged people down and ruined chances of hope.
There are positive things happening in my new community. Right now it takes serious digging to find them. Perhaps the media could highlight more positives. Could we do something really simple? How about an email, or actual letter writing campaign, to the dominant TV stations letting them know we want news that includes more positive activities and less sensationalism. Who knows? Some visiting, or current, CEO/CFO might get ideas about the great resources we already have here and decide to do a new startup, or increase the current size of their business, bringing along those new job opportunities. We have lots of people working now who would love to maximize their gifts and potential with some creative opportunities. Each of us citizens has a role to play to move our community forward. What is your role?
Pauline spent a 44 year career as a Registered Nurse in multiple settings, focusing on preventive health. She has lived many places in the U. S., the Philippines, Mexico, and Costa Rica, and now enjoys the temperate climate and mountains of New Mexico.