3/13 thru 3/15/06

We’ve spent the last week in the San Joaquin Valley in California campaigning and looking at farm worker issues… In Keene, California, we stopped at the National Ceaser Chavez Center. I met with Douglas Blaylock who administers the Robrt F. Kennedy Farm Workers Medical Plan. While a good plan (medical, dental, vision, prescription drugs…), Mr. Blaylock said only 2% of the farm workers (some 5,500 people) are insured under the plan. Among the top medical issues for farm workers are asthma and cancer from being exposed to all the toxic chemicals (herbacides, pestacides…) currently being applied to the fields. Mr. Blaylock said “cancer clusters” were being found among farm workers and their families in various places throughout the Valley. Another excellent reason to “grow organic…” In Arvin, California, a dusty farm town just south of Bakersfield, we learned a good number of farm worker families live two or three families to quite tiny houses and trailers — as farmers scrape to get a foothold in this country, or scrimp in order to send money back to relatives living in abject poverty in Mexico. While in Arvin, I met with Fr. Lucas Azpericueda who is personal friends with Vincente Fox, the current leader of Mexico. Prior to becoming president of Mexico, Fox was the head of the Mexican State of Guanaguata. Fr. Lucas said Fox helped transform this State to one where there were many jobs, good education, adequate housing… Fr. Lucas said a key to immigration issues here is to help each state in Mexico become as sustainable as possible. Common sense is most people don’t want to leave family, neighborhood, culture… unless, of course: because their children are hungry and there is no hope where they are… While in Bakersfield, the Bakersfield Californian newspaper ran a piece about some students from Loyola Marymount, a small, private Catholic college in Los Angeles, spending their Spring break in nearby Lamont, California. The students stayed in small homes with farm worker host families and spent some time working in the fields. The article explained one day the students went to an orange grove where they picked part of the day, then knocked off early. They were exhausted, according to the article. Yvonne Garcia, a 20-year-old political science major said she was troubled knowing the host family had to keep picking, not only that day, but into the future. “That brought up the question of why them and not us, and what’s the difference,” Garcia said, then trailed off: “I don’t know…” Note: I, on the other hand, believe I do know ‘what’s the difference.’ That is, these Loyola Marymount students probably grew up, for the most part, in quite a lot of privelege out in the suburbs. Their parents, most likely, weren’t willing to sacrifice their comfort much to bring real social justice, and solid systemic change, to help these farm workers have every advantage possible. (The parents, for the most part, just bought the oranges at the cheapest price possible in the grocery stores, and maybe kicked in a few bucks for the poor at church every once in awhile.) As a result, these children probably grew up without any real social justice models to speak of. Coming out of this insular suburban mileau, of course the youth are going to be perplexed about the deplorable conditions and causes when they see abject poverty up close for the first time. Being uninformed about this is not necessarily their fault. However, once they know. And for that matter, once we all know, then we become spiritually charged, not to so much to spend a lot of time philisophically ruminating about the ‘us vs. them’ question in the cloister of our suburban comfort, as to tangibly mobilize (and sacrifice) to do as many things as possible to help the farm workers (and all the other marginalized)– including changing the system… Ways to help immediately would be, for instance, to go to the The Ceasar E Chavez Foundation or Chavez National Center websites to find out ways to donate, or get involved on other activist levels… Another suggestion would be to, say, put aside an extra $10, $20, $50… every week you buy produce. Then donate it, for instance, to a church in the San Joaquin Valley that’s doing outreach to help the migrant farm workers here.

About Joe Schriner

Common man, Common sense, Uncommon solutions. "In an era when presidential campaigns run on multi-million dollar war chests, lavish fundraising dinners and high gloss television ads, Joe Schriner is a different breed of candidate." - The Herald, Monterey, California. Joe at a glance... Age: 56. Family: Husband of 17 years, and father. Faith: Catholic. Home state: Ohio. Graduate of Bowling Green State University. Journalist and author. Also a former addictions counselor, with an emphasis on family systems. Independent presidential candidate in four successive election cycles. On the road campaigning extensively. In between campaign tours, now does part-time house painting and light handyman work to make ends meet (aka: Joe the painter). Volunteer work with: Brown County (OH) Board of Mental Health; Catholic Worker outreach to the poor in the inner city of Cleveland; We Are the Uninsured Healthcare Movement in Ohio. Inner city youth league baseball and soccer coach (won some, lost some). Hobbies: Trying to beat his wife at "Scrabble," weight lifting, swimming, photography, sandlot baseball, soccer, football and basketball with his children. In Joe's words... I'm, for the most part, your average Midwesterner, I told the Duluth (MN) News. I jog in a pair of gray sweats. My favorite spots to eat are your basic diners. Whats more, I cut my own lawn. Oh, and Im running for president. I told the Lancaster (OH) Eagle Gazette that the reason I am running for president is that I am a concerned parent. That is, I don't want to leave a world of climate change, war, abortion, rural and inner city poverty, violent streets, nuclear proliferation, astronomical national debt, little social security, dwindling access to healthcare to our children. What sane parent would? Now, I didn't go to Harvard, Yale, or even Rutgers for that matter. I went to Bowling Green State University where I majored in journalism. I then worked for a couple intermediate-sized Ohio newspapers. I later became an addictions counselor. And in 1990, as a lead up to the presidential run, I took my journalism skills on the road to look for common sense solutions to the societal problems I outlined above. And in some tremendously extensive, cross-country research (that has continued during my years of campaigning), I've found those solutions.        Getting policies enacted... Amidst abject poverty on the Southside of Chicago, I learned how to end homelessness. In Atwood, Kansas (pop. 1,500), I learned how to balance the National Budget. In Grand Junction, Colorado, I learned how to get quality healthcare for all. In High Springs, Florida, I learned how to end global warming, for good. In Eunice, New Mexico, I learned how to unequivocally solve the immigration issue. And it was with this information, and much more, that I am running for president. No big money. No special interest backing. Just with tried solutions to make the country a much better place for our kids. While campaigning for president the past 12 years (and over 100,000 road miles), I've been telling people about these answers in hundreds of talks, more than 1,000 newspapers, a lot of radio, television and in a very up-close-and-personal way on the street corners of America. I told Channel 10 News in Albany, Georgia, that I can get a policy enacted long before I ever get to D.C., if somebody picks up on an idea and tries it in their town. And who knows how far out it will ripple out from there. So in a small way, I said during a talk at Toledo University, I am already president now! The students all smiled, politely. Be the change... I am also a firm believer that this won't be a better world for our children until more of us follow the saying: Be the change you want to see in the world. In this pursuit, my family and I try to live the messages we are conveying, at least the best we can. On a radio station in Indianapolis, Indiana, I said our platform asks some people to consider moving into the inner cities of America to live side-by-side with the poor. So our family moved to the heart of Cleveland, Ohio, where we volunteered at an outreach to the poor. I told the Tifton (GA) Gazette that our family has also set aside a Christ Room for the homeless at our place. And in D.C. we'd do the same thing in the West Wing. Just like I may well be looking for a youth baseball team to coach when I get there. I recently coached an inner city Rec. Center League team in Cleveland. On draft day I picked the kids who looked liked they'd be picked last, first. And apparently I did pretty well with this, because we lost almost all the games. Many of the kids on the team, sadly, didn't have a father at home. And many of these families don't have healthcare insurance either, just like two million other Ohioans. To help try to reverse this, my children and I have done volunteer work for the We Are The Uninsured Movement in Ohio. The reason our children are involved is because Liz and I want them learning as much about helping others -- as they do learning about math, science and English, I told The Mississippi Press. In fact, our education platform calls for a lot more local community involvement with students. I we also propose many more classes be focused on environmental awareness. To do our family's part for the environment, we created a "Kyoto Protocol Home Zone." (I even put a "Kyoto Protocol Home Zone" sign up in the front yard, to Liz's embarrassment.) We live in small places, use little air conditioning, cut the thermostat back in the winter, bicycle or walk almost everywhere within a five-mile radius and we recycle practically everything. And in D.C., we'd do all this as well. I mean, those big black limos alone can be such gas guzzlers anyway, right? Heal the family... "My concern for the environment, for the disadvantaged, for the unborn flows out of my spirituality. I'm Catholic, and trying to live the essence of the Gospel message is what I try to be about," I told columnist Mike Haynes of the Amarillo (TX) Globe News. And part of living the Gospel message is being centered in faith, having time for family, being concerned about others. I'm not the poster guy for all that, but I try. What's more, its Liz and my role to make sure our children have a wholesome and emotionally healthy upbringing. And I have some additional expertise in the latter area. Besides having been a journalist, I was also a counselor who worked with family system dynamics. And it is my contention that the current breakdown of the family in America (parents being physically or emotionally abusive, or absent, or addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, media entertainment, work) is creating a constellation of societal problems, I told ABC News in Monterey, California. Because of these dysfunctional family dynamics (and they seem to be everywhere these days), kids grow up depressed, angry and emotionally empty. As a result, incidence of domestic violence, street violence, addiction, mental and emotional problems spike in kind for the next generation, and the next... "So to heal the country, you have to heal the family. Theres just no way around it," I told the Bangor (ME) News. And we have a solid plan to do this, based on research weve done in Arthur, Illinois, Holbrook, Arizona, Carmel Valley, California, etc. Snow shoveling... Now when I'm not grappling with these pressing societal issues, my wife Liz is beating me at "Scrabble" (an issue in itself), or I'm playing racquetball with some buddies, or I'm trading baseball cards with our kids. That is, I'm doing all this in between doing chores for Liz. During a campaign talk in Wichita, Kansas, I was asked what the first thing I'd do as president was. I responded that "wed get to D.C. in January, so it would probably be snowing. If that, indeed, were the case -- the first thing Liz would have me do is: shovel the walk. " That will probably be a new one for the Secret Service. And so it goes... Joe

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