How much is that bailout in the window?

Bailouts Dwarf Spending on Climate and Poverty Crises
Sarah Anderson and John Cavanagh | November 24, 2008
Foreign Policy In Focus

The financial crisis is only one of multiple crises that will affect every country, rich and poor alike. [hat tip to commondreams.org]

The bailout is at well over four trillion and counting. Higher after the new backstops for Citi and credit cards. LOLFed has the best summary I've seen, but it's now a whole week old, which means it's terribly out of date and at LEAST $500 billion too low (=$300B for Citi [not counting the measly direct capital infusion!] and $200B for credit card issuers. Really, really amazing. Not in a good way.

Anyway, here's a link to the LOLFed bailout balance sheet: Why Hijack A Supertanker When You Could Hijack A $4.3 Trillion Dollar Failboat.


Update: Okay, I was really out of date myself. Today (11/26) Kathleen Pender in the SF Chronicle says the total bailout is $8.5 trillion so far, though not all of it has been tapped yet. The article includes a good summary chart from Bloomberg and a helpful timeline. And, oh, by the way, the LOLFed graphic came from CNBC originally.


Some of the organizing tasks of a clerk among Friends

I wrote up the following as a handout for a workshop for staff and board committee clerks that I'm leading on 11/24/08 at the San Francisco Friends School. The board of trustees of this particular school is very well organized and well run, in my experience. They need some time to grapple with the spiritual nature of Friends decision-making, and how to apply it in a school context, so that will be a focus of what I address. Nonetheless, every committee clerk should be mindful of good organizational practices, so I created these two lists.

In my experience, unprogrammed Friends meetings have a great need for lists like this, especially because most of us don't have staff. Does your monthly, quarterly or yearly meeting have anything like this? I assume Philadelphia Yearly Meeting does, because of the work Arthur Larrabee has done through the years on teaching clerking. Feel free to add links to other resources in the comments. It wasn't meant to be comprehensive; rather, I was trying to fit it all onto a one-page handout.


  1. Set an agenda, preferably in writing; if feasible, distribute in advance.
  2. Begin and end the meeting with a moment of silent reflection or worship.
  3. Facilitate the meeting.
      • Create the opportunity for all views to be heard.
      • If it is a large group or if it is a contentious discussion, ask people to be recognized before speaking.
      • If necessary, allow for a short period of silence between speakers.
      • If someone hasn’t spoken, ask if he or she has something to add before the discussion concludes.
  4. Take minutes, or assign someone else to take minutes.
      • If there are “action minutes” recording a decision by the committee, consider reading back the wording of that minute to be sure everyone agrees about what was decided and how it is recorded.
      • Distribute the minutes soon after the meeting, or have them available at the next meeting.
  5. Check in with committee members between meetings as needed to remind them of assignments and learn about progress.
  6. As needed, consult with the board clerk or other committee clerks who may have relevant information about the matters your committee is addressing.
  7. Find outside resources to help with the work of your committee, or ask for help from the committee to find the resources or to follow up on your leads.
  8. Find or develop queries as needed.
  9. Publicity and communications:
      • Give enough advance notice for meetings, especially to people who weren’t at the last meeting.
      • Send a meeting reminder by email; leaving a phone message can be even more persuasive.
      • If a meeting will be open to the rest of the community, provide enough advance notice for everyone to hear about it.
Some Printed Resources for Clerking Among Friends
  1. Beyond Majority Rule, Michael Sheeran. The classic text on Quaker unity decision-making, written by a Jesuit.
  2. Growing into Goodness: Essays on Quaker Education, Paul Lacey. See especially Chapter 3, “Roots and Fruits: Quaker Decision Making.”
  3. Faith and Practice, Pacific Yearly meeting: See www.pacificyearlymeeting.org.
  4. Beyond Consensus by Barry Morley; Pendle Hill Pamphlet. Discussion of the distinction between consensus in decision-making and a “sense of the meeting,” reached through discernment of a greater wisdom or continuing revelation of truth.
  5. Friends Council on Education: See www.friendscouncil.org. Publications for sale include:
      • Governance Handbook for Friends Schools, with a section on decision making;
      • Principles of Good Practice for Friends School Boards & Trustees.
      • The Quaker Decision-Making Process: What is it? How do we use it in a Quaker school?
Finally, in the context of a Quaker meeting, rather than a school, I would also highly recommend San Francisco Meeting Member Elizabeth Boardman's Where Should I Stand? A Field Guide for Monthly Meeting Clerks, published by Quaker Books of Friends General Conference. Elizabeth also has a blog for it at whereshouldistand.blogspot.com.


Guest post: What really happens at a Meeting for Worship?

This is a guest post by Amy Baker, San Francisco Monthly Meeting & San Francisco Friends School Quaker Life Committee member. Reprinted with her permission from the "Quaker Question" column in the SF Friends School newsletter.
I remember the first time I went to a Quaker Meeting. The things I didn’t know about the Quaker faith could fill a book, and I was utterly at a loss as to what to DO. There were none of the usual cues- no priest, no prayerful call & response, not even a cross on the wall indicating what direction to face. I fidgeted and felt self conscious and then finally hit an “aha” moment: you mean, this is up to ME? This relationship with God, this form of worship, the ability to find meaning in silence?

It was a radical thought.

I also remember the ministry that was shared. To this day I turn over the words, the messages. At the time I marveled at how accessible the message was -- simply spoken, grounded in personal experience, but related to a worldly outlook and to a spiritual challenge faced by the speaker. Some of the messages related directly to inner struggles of my own, not yet articulated.

It was a revelation that a form of worship that had less structure could be more relevant, and somehow speak to me directly. Back in San Francisco, I sought out the Meeting House and went a few times on my own, before becoming a regular attender. At first I enjoyed the respite, the completely accepting and non judgmental environment. Later, as I understood more of theological underpinnings
that create such a space, I experienced Meeting on a more spiritual level. Soon I noticed that if I didn’t go to Meeting, my week was missing something.

Not all Meetings for Worship are like that first one I went to- sometimes I spend the entire hour trying to quell the mind chatter.

Some are even more powerful. Each one is different and yet I have worshipped this same way in several different US cities and a few foreign countries and they are remarkably similar, right down to the announcements after.

As the Quaker guide Faith & Practice puts it: “The Meeting for Worship is the core of the Quaker practice. There, Friends gather together in expectant silence… without prearranged program. Meeting for Worship is different from solitary prayer... Friends seek connection to one another and to God dwelling among them. In some Meetings, the ministry may have a common theme, each message deepening and enriching the other, and connecting to one’s own thoughts. Some Meetings are entirely silent... Together we can more clearly see Truth; we can better receive and understand continuing revelation.”

If you have ever been curious to join a Meeting for Worship, as practiced by the San Francisco Monthly Meeting, please join other members of the SF Friends School community on Sunday, December 7th at 11am. The Meeting House is at 65 9th Street, between Mission & Market.

There is a short intro session at 10:40 if you want a primer, and there is supervision for children who choose not to stay in the Meeting after the first 15 minutes. There is also a caregiver in the nursery for babies and toddlers. We would love to see you there!


The Beautiful Soul of John Woolman, Apostle of Abolition

As I mentioned in my last post, the 11/5/08 issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly has a review of a book about a famous Quaker by a contemporary Quaker.

The book is called The Beautiful Soul of John Woolman, Apostle of Abolition.

The title of the alumni magazine article is, "Decoding an early abolitionist: Thomas P. Slaughter *83 pens biography of tailor and preacher John Woolman." You can read it here.

Here's a quote from the book review:
Slaughter, a Quaker himself, delved back into Journal to make sense of this quiet revolutionary. The result is The Beautiful Soul of John Woolman, Apostle of Abolition, published by Hill and Wang in September.

From the scant threads in Journal, Slaughter has provided a deeper understanding of Woolman by tracking thinkers who probably influenced him, from John Locke to Ben Franklin. Slaughter examines the source of Woolman’s convictions by employing a type of psychological excavation he learned at Princeton, where mentors such as Lawrence Stone and Natalie Davis were “interested in the workings of people’s heads,” says Slaughter.
By the way, the asterisk next to his name indicates Slaughter received a graduate degree from Princeton in 1983. Undergraduates get an apostrophe.

The publisher's page for the book is right here.


Elegy for an undergraduate

I was a middle-class to upper-middle-class kid at a decidedly upper class university. Princeton.

I still remember a picnic back home, probably the summer after high school. A friend of mine from middle school was there, who went to high school at the exclusive St. Paul's School. A couple of his friends from St. Pauls' were at the picnic, too. One of them told me, "The smartest kids I know are from public school. I think they have to work harder." That has stayed with me since then. Even as I send my two boys to a relatively elite Friends School, the only one in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I'm a little embarrassed about having gone to Princeton. I do have it listed in my Facebook profile, partly in hopes that friends from college will find me. And I cross-post my Blogspot blog to my Facebook account, so presumably they could read this stuff I write about Quakerism.

My favorite story illustrating how people react to my attending Princeton actually happened the summer before I matriculated. I was working for a temp agency, and I got a one-day assignment to wash dishes at a cafeteria at an AT&T office building. As my supervisor for the day walked me down the hall to the kitchen, she asked what my I was doing other than temp work. I said I was going to college in the fall. She asked where. I said Princeton. She laughed and laughed and laughed. "Oh, a Princeton man washing dishes! I love it!" I thought it was funny, too.

I like to say that I went to Princeton over other choices because of the radio station, WPRB. I spent hours and hours in high school listening to PRB. I wrote fan letters and called the DJs. I visited the studio a couple of times, en route to the Princeton Record Exchange.

When I got my admission letter, I called "Death Ray" Gonzales and asked him to play "New Face in Hell" by the Fall. He obliged, saying, "And a more appropriate song I couldn't think of." I still have a cassette tape of that.

I spent a lot of time at the station when I was in school there. Suffice it to say, I could've received better grades in physics if I hadn't been going to see the Replacements or the Fall or the Ramones or Sonic Youth or the Minutemen or whomever at King Tut's City Gardens in Trenton or Maxwell's in Hoboken.

One of the benefits of being a Princeton alumnus is that they send me a magazine every couple of weeks whether I want them to or not. And I have never had to pay for it! The Princeton Alumni Weekly, more accurately a biweekly, is actually pretty interesting. Robin says it's better than her alumni magazine.

The latest issue features a book about a famous Quaker, by a contemporary Quaker. I think I'll post about that one separately.

Then online, there's Michelle Robinson Obama '85, but I think you know about her already.

Oh, and my classmate Chris Lu is executive director of President-Elect Obama's transition. "Lu, a Harvard Law classmate of Obama who until recently served as the senator’s legislative director, has worked in law and government for the last two decades."

Clearly, I'm an underachiever. And that's okay. Cf. the dishwashing story above.


Thank you, Sister Bernie Galvin

I've been carrying around the October issue of Street Sheet, the monthly newspaper of the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness. There's a lovely tribute to Sister Bernie Galvin, who founded Religious Witness with Homeless People in 1993, and retired earlier this year, after 15 years.

Robin and I moved to San Francisco in January 1995. Religious Witness had just wrapped up a series of sleepouts in city parks to protest then-Mayor Frank Jordan's "Matrix" policy of shuffling the homeless along. An elderly attender at our meeting, Pauline, had joined the sleepouts -- at the age of about 80 or so, as I recall. I was a co-signer of a statement that Religious Witness ran as an advertisement in local newspapers. I went to several vigils by City Hall.

One of her best results came in the Presidio National Park, on the site of the former military post. The Presidio Trust had planned to tear down an entire neighborhood of former military family housing out by the beach, and Bernie organized to prevent it from happening. The housing didn't go to the homeless, but it did prevent much-needed rental housing from simply being torn down. Destruction of the housing is still part of the Presidio's long-term management plan to restore parts of the park to more pristine natural areas, but at least in the meantime the housing is still in use, rather than getting torn down well ahead of restoration. The photo on the Religious Witness home page is from a march they held at that housing tract.

I'm afraid I wasn't as involved after my initial participation. My explanation is that I got a job for a nonprofit housing developer in the Tenderloin neighborhood, which was all about creating homes that marginally housed people could afford. For a while, Robin had her office in the same building Sister Bernie did, so they would see each other from time to time.

I was delighted to find that the Coalition now publishes its stories on a wordpress blog, so I can link to it right here.

I particularly liked the closing quote from Sr. Bernie:
“This I know from my life experience,” she offered: “Hearts that beat strong with genuine compassion for the poor find each other. Hearts that beat with a fierce demand for justice find each other. It is as if the human heart has a magnetic element that pulls us so tightly together around our passion for the poor that our hearts begin to beat as one.”
Blessings to you, Sister Bernie, as you take time for rest, reflection, and discernment of what's next. Thank you for your good work!