I don't often cry when I listen to the news. But I cried this morning when I heard that Pete Seeger had died. He was 94, and people do die when they're that old. I thought about his lifelong struggle to put people and music over war and conflict - his attempt to prove that the guitar is mightier than the sword - and I cried to think that he is gone. I learned his songs fifty years ago, in college; I'm still singing them.
It is mightier, Pete. As long as we continue to sing your songs, you will be immortal.
But I'm still crying. Vaya con Dios, Pete.
Sunday, January 19, 2014
Recent discussions of the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty got me thinking again about something that's been on my mind. A San Francisco Chronicle editorial on the War on Poverty claims that we've "only been able to declare a draw." That's too positive. With the slats kicked out of the middle class, and millions of people living paycheck to paycheck and praying for nothing to go wrong, we've lost the war on poverty. The anti-poverty programs that started with Johnson - Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, whatever food stamps are called this week - they don't eliminate poverty. They merely help poor people not to die starving in the street. Today they help people not to starve in the street who have full time minimum wage jobs. If the campaign against poverty is a war, we've lost it.