‘Change is Coming to Washington House Meeting’ in Orange County
By Anila Ali

A group of participants in the meeting

In an effort to bring change to Washington, a local Pakistani-American couple, Anila and Karim Ali, held the first Change is Coming House Meeting in OC for Obama for America.

"President-Elect Obama is counting on us to organize in our neighborhoods and continue the movement," informed Anila Ali. "It is up to us to take the fate of our country in our hands."

An energized Orange County, multi-cultural group  attended the meeting, a first of its kind. The group discussed issues that are most important to them and suggested ways for President-elect Obama to resolve them. Healthcare and employment must be put at the top of the agenda for Change.

The group deliberated on ways to increase employment; keep jobs in the US by offering tax incentives to companies that don't outsource jobs abroad; offer tax breaks to employers who create jobs; investment in infrastructure to create jobs. Healthcare must also be made affordable for all and a hybrid of Canada and UK model was suggested. It was also felt that Social Security and healthcare must be made a top priority item with the rising unemployment in Orange County.

The group believed environment and education are interlinked -better education will contribute to better environment. Incentives should be given to environmentally conscious businesses. The government must enforce stricter environmental standards. Teachers must be better paid to raise scores and increase academic excellence in our future generations. More money must be put into schools so that our kids who are the future leaders, are equipped with 21st century education.  College must be made affordable for all; tax credits should be given to parents putting their kids through college and Linda Darling Hammond must seriously be considered for Secretary of Education as she has a proven track record and is an intellectual who we believe can pull our failing system out of the crisis that  it is in.

One member wished President-Elect Obama to make sure that he keeps his campaign promises; like keeping jobs in America, taking care of social security, improving and providing healthcare for all and changing the perception about Muslims in the US. On this note, Anila told the group that Senator Obama had assured the Muslims, at one of his fundraisers, that the notion that a handful of fundamentalists represent Islam must be changed.

On the issue of the auto bailout, the group felt it was necessary and must be expedited. More money must be pumped into the economy to get out of recession. Instead of reducing the wages of workers, we could replace management. Taxpayers must also be included in the final calculation and we must get some benefit from the bailout. Start by lowering CEO and upper management salaries, renegotiating their packages, and giving no dividends to shareholders until profitability is reached.

Ending the war in Iraq must be on top of the agenda, the group agreed. War in Afghanistan has to be reviewed and weighed again. Getting deeper in Afghanistan isn't a solution. As President, Mr Obama needs to be transparent; the politics of secrecy must end.

Some members thought that race relations must come out in the open and be confronted.

The group collected toys for Toys for Tots.

If you'd like more information on how to impact your neighborhood and bring change to Washington send your email to   anila2008@gmail.com



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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