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Clapping with one hand

10/7/2015

This year’s World Food Prize winner, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed’s organization, BRAC (Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee), is the world’s largest NGO (non-governmental organization), according to The Des Moines Register, (July 1, 2015). And I say, “Amen!” and thank you. Still, charity without justice is like clapping with one hand; it does you no good. Worse yet, it can be a distraction from the real problem. We do the same kind of work at the Des Moines Catholic Worker, only on a much smaller scale, in a completely different culture and society, with a different business model. We live on the “beg.” There are no paid salaries. All get room and board. We do a drop-in feeding center — food and stuff. And though we are very small and BRAC is very big, and we come from very different cultures and societies, it’s our business model that separates us the most. BRAC is run like a large, diverse corporation within an institutional mindset. All large corporate charities — private or government — that do not also seek justice often help mask the lies of today’s global corporate financial instruments. Because the same “1 percenters” who own our global food system’s solutions to world hunger will make sure everyone who survives gets fed on their way to enslavement. The problem with BRAC is not that BRAC uses the Wall Street/corporate food system to do its works of mercy. We all have to use the corporate food system to do the works of mercy. The problem is, BRAC does so blindly. In accepting the World Food Prize, it is legitimizing the corporate system that is destroying the planet, when all the while its best answer to world hunger is to feed and enslave all who survive, which makes Sir Fazle Hasan Abed and his BRAC the ideal corporate world charity to win this year’s World Food Prize.

Frank Cordaro
-Des Moines

Name change
Sentiment for changing the name of the Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner has been around for 20 years. Like with any controversial idea, Thomas Jefferson’s accomplishments are too numerous to innumerate in a short letter, and Andrew Jackson was a hero in more than one war and changed the way government appointments were made. The reality is they were both heroes with clay feet. The rationale for considering changing the Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner is simply a rebranding of the major fundraising event for Democratic state parties in many states. It is similar to changing the image of the young girl with the umbrella on the side of the saltbox. Our Iowa Democratic Party Central Committee Chairperson, Dr. Andrea McGuire, inherited this issue from several predecessors. But consideration of the change was presented by two members of the committee, me being one of them, with the sole purpose of solving this controversy during this cycle so that every Democrat can focus on electing progressive Democrats to preserve our nation in the next election cycle. While many of us on the committee would like the name changed, we all may have different reasons for wanting to do so. I can tell you that one of my reasons for pushing for the change is to eliminate this distraction during the campaign by updating the name and theme to be more relevant to today.

James Peterson
-Des Moines

Republicans’ attacks on Planned Parenthood are nonsensical
The Republican-controlled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee conducted a hearing last week on defunding Planned Parenthood’s Federal Funding. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards was subjected to brutal and mean-spirited questioning for hours. The Republicans on the committee rudely and repeatedly cut her off before she could answer questions and ignored the facts she presented. Republican committee members distorted and misrepresented the work of Planned Parenthood and refused to listen as she defended the legal and critically necessary reproductive healthcare it provides to 2.6 million Americans. It became obvious that the Republicans had no intention of searching for the truth. Their sole motivation was to bully and brutalize Richards and Planned Parenthood. The Democrats defended Richards and presented facts that prove defunding Planned Parenthood would cut off affordable health care to more than 630,000 women (based on a CBO study). The CBO predicts closing Planned Parenthood clinics would result in a cost to taxpayers of an additional $130 million over 10 years. The facts show defunding Planned Parenthood’s family planning education and services would result in more unwanted pregnancies, not less. Republicans’ nonsensical attacks are not only wrong, they are contrary to their own goals.

HIV

Rick Smith
-Urbandale

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