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home : blogs_old : tone's book zone August 19, 2014

Tone's Book Zone
By Sue Tone
A blog for readers and book lovers. Postings will include information on book festivals, library activities, local authors, classroom visits, book groups, writing and publishing tips, reviews, bookmakers and bookmaking, and how volunteers can help children and adults acquire a love of reading.
Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thoughts on the future of the United States

 by Sue Tone

Book artists pose with their “eco” books July 29, 2012. They used manila folders, old coffee filters, empty cereal and candy boxes, pages from foreign language books and magazines, and envelopes.

Two big "Thanks!" go out to new friend Nora for hosting the book artists group this past month at her house set in a lush green valley outside of Cottonwood. Nora's well-organized studio is her former home, complete with worktables and lots and lots of storage space. The comfort and peace of her hospitality, home, verdant lawn, outdoor sculptures and fruit trees made it hard to leave at the end of the day.

The six participants and I ended up with several "eco" books and lots of ideas how to expand and personalize the designs for our own use.

The second thanks is for a tip Nora gave us about a book she was listening to on CD (a long book - 16 discs!) called That Used to be Us by Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum. Barely a hundred pages in, already I have sticky notes marking six passages. I can't remember the last time I wanted to go back and copy down something I read.

The authors contend that the U.S. used to be one of the top countries in the world with a vibrant economy and democracy. Since the end of the Cold War, we've been on a downhill slide. They tell how this happened and how to correct it.

The formula our former prosperity was built on consists of five "pillars":

1. Public education.

2. Building and modernizing infrastructure for communication and delivery of products and services (roads, bridges, wireless networks, etc.).

3. Adding high-aspiring immigrants to enrich business and education.

4. Government support for research and development.

5. Implementation of regulations on private economic activity.

Let's take a look at #3, since education for children of undocumented immigrants has been in the news recently.

In the early 1800s, most immigrants came from northern Europe. In the latter half of the 1800s into the early 1900s, many came from southern and eastern Europe. These people helped make up the countless workers that created and powered the factories that made us an industrial powerhouse.

During the WWII era, refugees from Nazi Germany arrived, bringing scientists, physicists, writers, musicians and intellectuals into the country. The GI Bill put thousands of veterans through school after the war. Sputnik challenged our educators and spurred on school children in the 1950s.

In President Eisenhower's State of the Union Speech on Jan. 12, 1961, he mentioned the refugees from communist Hungary and Cuba. "Since 1953, the waiting period for naturalization applicants has been reduced from 18 months to 45 days (emphasis mine). ... It is imperative that our immigration policy be in the finest American tradition of providing a haven for oppressed peoples and fully in accord with our obligation as a leader of the free world."

The 1960s expanded the number of Asian immigrants allowed into the country, and then opened the doors to talented immigrants from India seeking higher education in medicine, science and engineering. They stayed and became leaders in industry, research and new start-up companies. In fact, about 40 percent of MIT's engineering faculty members are foreign born, the authors said.

So what do we see happening today? That old-fashioned attitude of welcoming hardworking - skilled or not, legal or not - immigrants to live and grow up in Arizona is dishearteningly lacking.

Young bright boys and girls - children of undocumented workers - are graduating at the top of their class in high schools across the state. Yet they are legally prohibited from working. They must pay outrageous out-of-state tuition to attend college and universities.

Now, however, thanks to President Obama's executive order, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before the age of 16, who lack a criminal history, and are younger than 30, can apply for a two-year work permit. While this is not a pathway to citizenship, it does permit legal employment and contribution to our tax system. These future movers and shakers no longer hit a brick wall after graduating high school.

Shame on Arizona's Gov. Jan Brewer who quickly prohibited these young adults from obtaining a driver's license. Many rely on public transportation to get to and from school and jobs. What kind of public transportation is available in the quad-communities? Zero.

I'm wondering where our compassion to help the oppressed reach their potential and make the United States a better place has gone?

I'm only on page 101 of 356. I haven't gotten to the nitty-gritty information the authors list as the four challenges we face: globalization, information technology, budget deficits, and energy consumption.

Please don't all rush to check out this book from the library. I may need to renew it, and I can't if someone has placed it on hold.

Happy reading!

Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, September 8, 2012
Article comment by: Bill Johnson

A few books I recently read and found inspiring include Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg, and What's So Great About America by Dinesh D'Souza. All are eye-openers and remind us of how fortunate we are to live in the USA. Very timely post. Thanks.

Posted: Saturday, August 25, 2012
Article comment by: Linda Illumanardi

A big thanks to artists and educators in our area who put learning and education first. I am continually humbled by the courageous people who inspire me daily.

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