« on: May 10, 2005, 09:42:44 AM »
I guess that depends a lot on the scale of the political body I'd ever be involved in. Local, state, or national I suppose each have their own sets of issues to address. I haven't formulated any legislation, but there are issues that generate a sense of urgency within me.
My biggest concern as a "sociologist" are urban ghettos and the problems associated with them. Although court cases have been taken all the way to the supreme court to debate whether or not it is constitutional to fund schools based on local property taxes, I think this is still the key issue. A two pronged approach is needed to eliminating ghettos. One is over-funding inner-city schools as compared to suburban, mostly white, schools. However, this alone is not the answer. Steps need to be taken to counter the"culture of poverty" that has developed so that social capital can be created an passed from generation to generation (ex: many white children are have relatively educated parents and are able to obtain and learn many things before entering school. This is not the case for ghetto children. In fact Lyndon Johnson started the Head Start program to address this very issue). Our country is overly keen on the idea of "personal responsibility", but the problem is that this is an easy way to ignore the problems that many people face due to many circumstances beyond ones control. In essence, we as a society feel very comfortable ignoring the problems of others since we feel others problems are of their own creation. We therefore bear no responsibility for them. Also in this vein, systematically the denial of home loans (red-lining) to lower income individuals kept many african american's from obtaining the biggest wealth generator in the past fifty years, the subburban home. Lending practices need to be closely monitored and loans need to be made more available to those of lower income. A very radical transition in the city is taking place once again, and that is that people again want to live in them. Look around you, if you are from a big city, you see condos being built everywhere. This ups the property value (which isn't a bad thing), but unless the area is rent controlled it will soon be unaffordable to many citizens (often times minorities). I'm sure you've heard of the process of gentrification, and the more it happens, the greater the need will be for affordable housing...unless of course you prefer people to move to where it is affordable, say like, the ghetto. Obviously, we need to be mindful of the changes taking place in our cities and yes, while great for real estate developers and many people including myself who love living in an urban environment, there are other people impacted by our desires.
On a local level, those are my most pressing concerns. On a national and international scale there are others that intrigue me (we need a national call for energy independence, calling america's youth to the sciences and engineering fields, just as Kennedy did with his call to put a man on the moon), campaign finance laws, prescription drug costs(the largetst contributer to the skyrocketing health costs that unduly impact the bottom line of our businesses and force the lower income individuals to go without) but I'm most concerned with the plight of urban minorities and community redevelopment.