I have known Esther Talavera since the 1970’s when she was a Latino community leader in San Mateo County and a delegate to many Democratic National Conventions. She was the leader of a Latino group which successfully established ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe Health Center’ in the abandoned Daly City Hall.
In one of our recent conversations, she said, “You know that we thought we were changing things for the better then, but today things are worse because I never hear about ideals and developments which benefit the community. I love politics, but today I am totally confused by what is going on. Candidates are trashing each other. Donald Trump is especially good at that, especially when he lies.”
Our discussion led to my creating a list of personal values which I hope we all still have and use in our daily lives. These values are: 1) TRUSTWORTHINESS; 2) RESPECT; 3) FAIRNESS; 4) COMPASSION; 5) RESPONSIBILITY; 6) ACCOUNTABLITY; 9) LOYALTY ; 10) THE PRACTICE OF COMMUNITY STEWARDSHIP. I would ask you to read the U.S. Constitution to learn how many of these ‘personal values’ are included in the ideals embedded in that document created by the Founding Fathers and agreed upon in 1776. Our democratic sovereignty was created then and ‘We,the People’ agreed to live under the ‘rule of law’. During the 240 years of American sovereignty, America has become the nation wherein an individual can rise to any level of society and economic wealth as an outcome of one’s own merit and capabilities. Yet since 1975 most jobs created have not provided a living wage and the middle class incomes have been stagnant.
Businesses, especially multinational corporations such as Apple, have used loopholes to avoid payment of their fair share of taxes. The current corporate tax rate is 35%. Apple has not repatriated $231.5 billion, which keeps 35% (est. $82 billion) from the U.S. Treasury (Source: Robert Reich, “Congress….Disregard Tax Amnesty; Make Apple Pay”, S.F.Chronicle, Insight, p.E8, 09.18.16). Reich writes, “Apple is one of America’s biggest tax cheats”, along with other multinational firms such as Big Pharmas, Big Tech, Big Franchisers, and others who practice tax avoidance. My point is that their executives are not living up to the ideals and values that makes America great. What results is a big scam…and American taxpayers bear the brunt of those actions which do not take into account community stewardship issues. Where is corporate integrity?
What frightens me the most is the information, exposed by Eugene Robinson (To Beat Trump, Stick to Basics, Mercury News, p A18, 09.18.16) which ties Trump’s business to a bank in Iceland which is funded by Russia! According to other reports, some 500 Trump businesses are offshore and many deal with dictatorships. Could this be the basis of why Trump will not reveal his IRS Tax Returns? Where is his integrity and transparency? In contrast, Hillary Clinton’s financial involvements are an open book. I would trust Hillary much more than Trump with the future of America.
The Latino vote is being courted by both Republicans and Democrats. Time Magazine (dated 09.26.16) has an article titled “How Latinos Drive America’s Economic Growth”, which reveals that America’s 55 million Latinos have $1.3 Trillion in buying power. My concern is how much of that economic activity is left in the Latino Community? Latinos are projected to buy 52% of homes during 2010-2030; purchase one in four Toyota Corollas; and launch 47% of new small businesses. It is essential that the Latino community have representatives at all conference tables where decisions are made about who benefits, who gets trained, who gets informed, hired? Fired? For too long, Latinos have been viewed as ‘consumer units’, or labor to be exploited without being paid what is really merited and earned.
Using your personal values every day is important. It is time Latinos realize that they can no longer be stoic or passive. Latinos are impacted by all that goes on in this nation. Latinos must not be focused just upon IRS Tax Reform, Immigration Reform, access to education and training etc…..those are all issues which, like Trump’s WALL, are used as diversions from basic issues of integrity, fairness, honesty, stewardship, etc.
We Latinos can no longer be on the sidelines with our voting power. What good is your vote if you decide not to use it? Realize that you are helping the ‘other side’ when you do not vote. Realize that your personal values are implicitly expressed when you do vote. Your vote is important and will count in our American Democracy, especially this election year.