New York Daily News
Few times have been more urgent to begin anew than today as the old year leaves behind an economy in shambles, devastating wars, our country’s international standing profoundly eroded, the civil rights of the American people severely weakened and a cruel and senseless policy that persecutes immigrants.
But with a new year there is always the possibility of a fresh start, and as terrible as 2011 was, we have no right to be pessimistic. It is in this spirit that I would like to share with you my wishes for 2012.
1- First and foremost, jobs. That the millions of unemployed people find decent-paying jobs that would allow them and their families to lead dignified lives.
2- Approval of the Living Wage Act by the City Council where it is languishing right now waiting for Speaker Christine Quinn to allow a vote.
The act would mandate firms that get city tax breaks to pay workers $10 an hour, plus benefits or $11.50 an hour without — up from the current $7.25 minimum hourly wage. Most Council members support the bill as do the great majority of New Yorkers.
3- The eradication of hunger in New York. No one should anguish about where next family meal will come from. At a time when emergency food centers (food pantries and soup kitchens) experience a shortage of resources and an excess in demand, politicians, both local and national, must act immediately. Hunger does not wait.
4- That no presidential hopeful would ever again take the side of the richest in our society at the expense of the middle class and the poor.
We wish for no more tax breaks for those who do not need them and for the strengthening of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs indispensable for every citizen who is not part of that 1% the Occupy Wall Street movement made everybody aware of.
5- That racism and the persecution of immigrants finally ends. No one expects immigration reform to happen any more, but we wish for approval of the Dream Act and for an end to the deportation of non-criminal immigrants, a practice that destroys families and violates immigration authorities’ own rules.
6- That this year Washington’s 50-year-old failed Cuba policy and the economic embargo that is its centerpiece are finally relegated to the scrapheap of history, where they belong.
7- That in the spirit of dialogue and good will Alan Gross, the American “contractor” jailed since December 2009 in Cuba for what Havana says are subversive activities, be exchanged for the Cuban Five, agents sent to the U.S. to infiltrate Cuban-exile groups in the ‘90s to uncover planned terrorist attacks on the island. They have already served 13 plus years in different prisons around the U.S.
8- And finally, that our political leaders — including the Republican candidates — learn the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan and silence the war drums inciting a disastrous war with Iran without exhausting all diplomatic initiatives and remedies.
The new year brings with it new promises and possibilities, and the moment is not one for pessimism. Difficult as it may be we must welcome it with the hope for a much better year.