By Liz Sullivan
One of the biggest issues on the 2016 Ballot for Santa Clara County is poverty and how to support less fortunate residents.
On October 12, at Our Lady of Refuge Parish in San Jose, homeless advocates, including representatives from Working Partnership USA, People Acting in Community Together (PACT), Women Religious of the South Bay and San Francisco area and the Diocese of San Jose Social Justice Project joined Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, leader of Nuns on the Bus and the Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice for a roundtable discussion.
“There is such a huge (economic) gap in Santa Clara County,” said Father Jon Pedigo, Director of Projects for Peace and Justice for the Diocese of San Jose. “There has to be a way to mend the gap and hopefully a workshop like this will.”
Among the major areas of discussion were two measures on the November 8 ballot. For Measure A approval would mean that $950 million would be raised to provide affordable housing for those most in need across Santa Clara County. In the City of San Jose, Measure E would require employers to offer additional work hours to existing qualified part-time employees before hiring new staff.
“We are all in the problem together,” said Sister Simone. “We have to figure out a way to break open the problem and solve it.”
Sister Simone shared some interesting statistics about the American economy.
From 1949-1979, household incomes in the United States went up an average of 100 percent. However from 1980-2014, wages have remained basically flat, while costs continue to rise.
How did we get this way? Campbell said it began in 1980 when Ronald Reagan became president. Reagan, she said, changed the notion in America from “We the People” to the one, lone, rugged, individual. Reagan also changed the tax bracket for the richest Americans from 80 percent tax to 33 percent or trickle-down economics. That, Sister Simone said, changed who we are as a country and the importance of winning.
“Part of the change in this country has to be the notion of winning,” said Sister Simone. “How do we change the measure of winning?”
In addition to passing Measures A and E, Sister Simone cited four virtues that Catholics, and people of all faiths, could practice:
- Exercise the virtue of joy – we need to get closer and not farther apart.
- Holy curiosity in judgment of others.
- We have an obligation to the virtue of sacred gossip – share the stories and change our hearts.
- The gift of doing your part in the community – none of us has to do it all.
“We the people need to make this happen,” said Sister Simone.