August 2, 2019
PLEASE NOTE: Effective immediately I will be posting to Warren Dunn – Author only on Fridays. The new format for my posts will be much shorter, because short pieces have the highest readership. I will post to Facebook a “table of contents” for the Friday posts as a reminder to those who normally access my blog through Facebook. Readers will still be able to access the blog via Facebook in much the same way, but any comments they may have about the subject matter should be made in the “comment” section of the actual blog because the full content will no longer appear on Facebook.
The first edition of the new format appears below:
MAINSTREAM RELIGION LOOKING FOR NEW MEANING
I recently had the opportunity to interview Rev. Bill Leonard, Dean of the School of Divinity (Ret.) at Wake Forest University. During that interview, he said “Sometimes the church brings judgment on the world; sometimes society brings judgment on the church. We are in that mode today.” He had reference to the numbers of young people who are leaving the mainstream churches because they are not convinced of religion’s relevancy in today’s troubled world. So I was interested to note that the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. has ordained the Rev. Deanna Hollas as its first minister of gun violence prevention. That’s relevant and it reminds me of the Shalom Project, which has its origins in the Green Street United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem. Social activism is part of the liturgy and they’ve been around a long time.
IT’S A LOVE-HATE THING
Say anything negative you want about the recent Democrat’s Presidential Candidate Debate and I’d probably agree with you. But last Tuesday’s “debate” got about as close to a real debate as any I’ve watched, and I’ve watched them all. There were real differences in the health care proposals that the candidates argued about and I didn’t follow all the points each made. Nonetheless, I received a firm grounding on what I was supposed to be concerned about, and that’s more than I expected. Perhaps more importantly, it was in clear contrast to the debates of 2016 and restored some of my faith in the process. By the way, when will anyone in politics today define “socialism” accurately?
BY THE WAY AGAIN
Keep a beady eye on the do-over race for the North Carolina Ninth Congressional District. The GOP candidate is already running ads that label the Democratic “clowns” as “crazy socialists.” No Democrat I know is advocating that the means of production, distribution, and promotion be taken over by the central government. But the GOP persists in claiming that leftist Democrats are socialists because they know that if they called them what they really are, which is advocates of government support for social welfare “safety nets,” it might have broad appeal.
WHAT IS DONALD TRUMP?
The quest to label Trump continues in earnest. Not now only is he a liar and a narcissist, he is a racist and a hater. From all appearances, he is certainly all four, but I think, like J. Kevin Bokeno of Advance, N.C., that Trump is mostly an amoral opportunist willing to do or say anything that will entertain a group of people who take comfort in their shared prejudices and find his act fun. He doesn’t have to be anything else because he doesn’t think beyond whatever serves his immediate purpose. If he did he might be a little worried about the exodus of Republicans from their House of Representative seats and the outcome of the 2018 midterms.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO 4%?
Remember how easy it was supposed to be to have an economy that was growing at 4% or even greater? That new tax law was going to be a miracle worker. The numbers would be huge! And they were. A trillion dollars of new national debt and 83% of the tax law benefits flowing to the 1% and the corporations, adding nothing productive to the economy. Guess that’s why the new reports on the growth of the economy peg it at 2% or less. The decade-long recovery started six years before Trump took office, which reminds me of what a colleague with three degrees in economics once said: “It doesn’t matter who gets elected President. If he takes office during an economic recovery, he will be given the credit whether he deserves it or not.”
CALIFORNIA OR BUST
California wants to deny Trump a spot on their ballot if he doesn’t make his tax returns public. Good luck with that. But you have to admire California’s pluck. They have 40 lawsuits outstanding against the Trump Administration.
WINSTON-SALEM AND THE NEW YORK TIMES
Winston-Salem was featured, along with some other cities, in a recent NY Times article about the growing income gap between its residents of today and yesteryear. The W-S Journal retaliated with an editorial noting the steps the city has and is taking to address the issue of persistent poverty, which places W-S at or near the bottom in upward social mobility. In particular, the Journal listed the tangible things that are making the economy of the city strong and getting stronger. All true. But there’s still that issue of too much poverty. And a letter to the NY Times from University of Massachusetts history professor Elizabeth Herbin-Triant, author of “Threatening Property: Race, Class, and Campaigns to Legislative Jim Crow Neighborhoods,” won’t let us forget it. She writes: “The opportunities (for good jobs)…are limited to certain parts of the city. Other areas, like East Winston, lack well-paying jobs as well as the infrastructure essential to making a neighborhood livable, including adequate grocery stores and public transportation…These challenges are deeply rooted…” Well, Ms. Herbin-Triant, we don’t need to be reminded and I hope you will be reassured that we are working on it. The issues you mentioned, as well as others, are the meat and potatoes of The Partnership for Prosperity’s dozen or so workshops that are developing workable plans for alleviating hunger, making housing more affordable, improving public education, better transportation, improving health care delivery, and job creation. Like you said, the problems are deeply-rooted and it will take time to dig out. But over 400 organizations, thousands of volunteers, and an involved and supportive city government keep digging.
A RIVER AND AN OCEAN HELPS
Carole and I just returned from a few days in Wilmington, N.C., a city that stands as an example that having an active riverfront and a nearby ocean sure is good for the economy. So what do you do if you don’t have either to attract tourists. Well, for openers, how about mobilizing all the cultural and entertainment assets you have – and Winston-Salem has many – to become the premier destination for tourists who love the beach but might like to be stimulated more than they like being sunburned. So how do you mobilize such assets? First, you have to have an active Arts Council…oh, wait a minute, we have that. Then you have to have a world-class symphony and a world-class opera…oh, wait a minute, we have those. Then you have to have a couple of world-class museums…oh, wait a minutes, we have that, too. Then you have to have places for them to sleep and eat…oh, wait a minute, we have that, too. So what don’t we have? Public money. It takes money to build the venues, promote the attractions, and help with the overhead. Right now, all that is left up to the folks who write personal checks. The state legislature just turned down helping out Stevens Center. Ask Raleigh/Durham why they have one of the nation’s most successful performing arts centers. It isn’t just because of ticket sales.
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