Peace & Justice Blog

Stay up to date on peace and justice issues, both locally and internationally, and learn how you can take action.


 

Providing a Lifeline for Children

Blog by Justice Promoter Sister Judy Morris, OP

At a time when the country needs some good news in the midst of devastating fires, deadly heat, and COVID 19 on the rebound, we were greeted with headlines that the Child Tax Credit legislation came to fruition.  According to experts in the field, this program can cut child poverty in half.  As part of the American Rescue Plan signed by President Biden on March 11, this bill addresses the sobering reality of childhood poverty in the United States.

According to the Children’s Defense Fund, one in seven children in the United States in 2020 lived in poverty, and one in five children of color were poor.  The arrival of COVID – 19 exacerbated this reality.

It is hard to forget the tragic scenes of thousands of cars lined up to receive food during COVID, waiting for hours for emergency food, for many for the first time.  Many simply wanted to feed their children.  With schools being closed for most of the year, that meant that free school breakfast and lunch programs ended or became more difficult to access. Social service agencies, food banks and churches had to scramble to fill in the gaps and provide food for families with unemployed parents.

Public Democracy of America notes that the increase in Child Tax Credits will provide increased access to new resources, and an estimated 65 million children will be positively impacted by monthly installments.  The program will provide $300 a month for each child under age six and $250 for each child ages six – seventeen each month.  Half of the funds are applied immediately and the remaining half during the 2022 tax season.  This is a long-needed lifeline for struggling families.

The COVID-19 crisis brought many families to the breaking point, especially parents and caregivers who lost jobs and regular incomes.  Increased unemployment payments supplied by the federal government helped many, but GOP governors across the nation have cut them off in an effort to support businesses looking for employees. With more active COVID-19 variants and the inability to vaccinate small children, many parents are afraid to return to work, and this Child Tax Credit is needed support as they try to protect their families.

The Child Tax Credit support is a “hand up” that enables parents to provide food, stable housing, and childcare.  However, one major weakness in this program stands out, and that is the fact that this does not cover families with a single parent.  These families are experiencing even greater need.  Does it make sense to punish children because another parent abandoned the family, died, or divorced?   An irrational policy that was not thought through helps no one.  Congress needs to act and provide coverage for single-parent families and make the Child Tax Credit permanent.

Children have suffered psychologically because of the loss of familiar structures such as school, in-person social services, interaction with peers, and wider family units.  Parents and children need the reassurance of financial resources that can cover basic human needs.  It is up to the powers that be to do just that.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Seven Years to Sustainability – Laudato Si’ Goal 7

Associate Mary Kay Wood looks at Goal #7 of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, which is a seven-year Catholic Effort Addressing the Climate Crisis instituted by Pope Francis. Here are some possible ways that we can attain Goal #7 in our communities.

Goal  7: Emphasis on Community involvement and participatory action to care for creation at the local, regional, national, and international levels (promote advocacy and people’s campaigns, encourage rootedness in local territory and neighborhood ecosystems, etc.)

It is important to recognize that the Laudato Si’ initiative is a global initiative as well as an effort that focuses on national, regional, and local levels.

Religious Sisters respond globally as well as nationally, regionally, and locally. For example, the Sisters of St. Agnes serve in Nicaragua;  the Franciscan Sisters of Renewal serve in  England and Ireland, and our own Dominican Sisters of Peace minister in Peru and Nigeria.

Suggestions for action:

  • Continue to support and participate in the work of BREAD (justice advocacy) and other grassroots organizations such as Mid Ohio Food Collective and local Food Pantries.
  • Support and network with state and national involvement groups
  • Identify and connect with groups that promote e.g.: clean energy, public transit, waste reduction, eating locally, establishes policies that will help marginalized people.
  • Look for opportunities to be of service locally (e.g. Thanksgiving and Christmas Day Dinners, community gardens, meals to the homebound, community clean up days etc)
  • Look for opportunities to serve as an advocate for local, state and national causes
  • Develop an informational program for use in local parishes and seek support from local Bishops.
  • We need to continue to pray and be supportive of those in the mission field.

 

 

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

A Taxing Question

Blog by Justice Promoter Sister Judy Morris, OP

Recently, the following headline caught my attention: “Mackenzie Scott donates $2.7 billion to charity.”  The result of her generosity meant the 286 organizations supported could breathe a little easier and provide scholarships, increase community organizing and advocacy or engage in research.  Organizations serving African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans benefitted greatly.  Mackenzie Scott also provided $4 billion for COVID 19 relief in 2020.

Donors like Mackenzie Scott deserve all the applause they receive.  One of the privileges I have in working with Water With Blessings is to thank donors for their generous gifts—gifts that save lives.

While I celebrate the generosity of donors like Mackenzie, I have great concern regarding corporations that pack away billions of dollars by not paying federal taxes.  Amazon is one of those companies, and they join 54 others that escape paying federal taxes. 

According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, at least 55 companies in the United States paid no federal corporate income taxes, despite enjoying substantial pretax profit. These tax-shirking companies represent various industries and collectively made almost $40.5 billion on U.S. pretax income in 2020.  The 55 companies would have paid a collective total of $8.5 billion for the year had they paid that rate on their 2020 income.  Instead, they received $3.5 billion in tax rebates.  From FED EX to NIKE to AMAZON, corporations have found ways to avoid paying federal income taxes.

In 2017, the Trump administration tax bill greatly benefitted millionaires and billionaires, but not middle-class workers.  In 2021, Republican Senators are refusing to fund the IRS tax enforcement staff, even though the agency has lost 20% of its staff through budget cuts. These enforcement officials would the people that help prevent people and companies from cheating the tax code, and it was expected that they would help add more than $100 billion to federal coffers.

People like Scott or organizations like Nike Purpose or Fed Ex Cares can easily afford to donate billions to nonprofit organizations because they have benefitted from the 2017 tax bill and years of tax loopholes.

The need for a level playing field for paying taxes is clear. The working poor and middle class continue to struggle to pay the bills and have money to set aside for retirement.

The United States continues to struggle with large numbers of homeless people, skyrocketing childcare costs, affordable health care and deteriorating infrastructure.  Federal taxes paid by large corporations could have provided much needed relief in all these areas.

There is a reason “the poor are always with us.”  Powerful decision-makers can change the script with financial decisions that respect the basic rights and dignity of all its citizens.

 

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Invitations from the Eco-Justice Committee:

If you are interested in joining the Eco-Justice Committee, you are invited to contact Judy Hardy at jhardy2@insight.rr.com

Last Monday, July 12, Sr. Marguerite Chandler offered some suggestions for addressing Goal 6 of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, a 7-year Catholic Effort Addressing the Climate Crisis instituted by Pope Francis.  Goal Six is to attain ecological spirituality… to recover a religious vision of God’s Creation, encourage greater contact with the natural world in a spirit of wonder, praise, joy and gratitude, promote creation-centered liturgical celebrations, develop ecological catechesis, prayer, retreats, formation, etc.

You are invited to share other suggestions for addressing this goal. You can include them below or send them to Judy Hardy at jhardy2@insight.rr.com

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Time for a Meltdown?

Blog by Justice Promoter Sister Judy Morris, OP

“They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.”

Is. 2-4

 

“A Farewell to Arms” now has new meaning since police departments have tapped into creative ways of getting guns off the street.  For the last several years, the New York City police have seized illegal guns and melted them down, recycling the resulting metal. In a short period of time, more than 3,000 guns were melted down, a major achievement in keeping guns off the street and saving lives.  The Los Angeles County police seized 7,044 guns, melted them down and used the metal for construction projects such as bridge repair.  Omaha police seized handguns and semi-automatic weapons, sending them to a steel melting factory to be used for something positive for humanity!

The late Rev. Louis Coleman paid $20 – $25 to individuals willing to give him a gun.  In one year, he purchased 300 guns and said, “For every ten guns melted, we feel it has saved at least one life.” One of the greatest privileges anyone can have in their life is to save the life of another.

As I listened to mothers who have lost young sons and daughters to gun violence, to ministers who gather families and communities for prayer in memory of those lost, and to the voices of concerned citizens in cities and rural areas who speak of the never-ending spiral of guns, gangs, and drugs, I think of those who are attempting to change the script.  Although the guns melted down around our nation represent a small fraction of guns in the United States, I believe this action has saved lives.

Many politicians have become tone-deaf to the cost of inaction on gun violence. They continue to do the bidding of the NRA and gun manufacturers, so responsible, common-sense legislation such as universal background checks, banning of military-style assault weapons, and red flag laws languish in the Senate.  The empty words of “You are in our thoughts and prayers,” with no resolute action are an insult to survivors.

When I view crosses and flowers in neighborhoods around the city and watch memorial prayer services in person or on television, I hope that one day, barriers to responsible gun legislation will melt down, political posturing will melt down, and misinterpretation of the second amendment end in a meltdown.

I feel a deep sense of gratitude to all the Louis Colemans around the country who have allowed creativity to overpower discouragement in the ever-present reality of gun violence.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog