Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2021 from the Irish side of my family, the Wallaces from County Cork.

A year ago, my wife Lynne and I made a run to Vienna Beef’s Factory Outlet to get Corned Beef sandwiches for lunch and a good size piece to cook for family dinners. Little did we know then that a day off work was going to become a year of “sheltering in place.”

When it started to become apparent that this was going to be more than a month, I started listing things to do, like totally clearing through the “archeological” archives of our “study” to make it a functional home office. But then Lynne constructed a “green screen” from green plastic table cloths and PVC piping for all of the past 12 months of Zoom meetings. It also shields half of the “study;” so the archives purging project still awaits retirement time in the coming months.
I’m surprised I haven’t written more blogs about this 12 month COVID lockdown. Then there have been other topics to cover. I have read more books in a year than ever before; we have an active list on the Chicago Public Library’s hold. We’re still binging; currently Bosch on Amazon Prime since we’re big Michael Connelly fans.

In May, my Blog #102 STAYING SAFE@HOME marked Day #62 of sheltering. I shared journal highlights from our February cruise of South America before flying home from Santiago Chile on March 2, 2020. I offered my condolences on the COVID passing of John Prine; still listening to him and related artists that YouTube picks for me. Last November, Blog #107 STAYING MIGHTY! recommended seeking comfort by checking out Songs from Home by Mary Chapin Carpenter every Sunday morning.

We did eat out with our son and daughter-in-law for Lynne’s February birthday at a local Italian restaurant complying with City restrictions. Now we‘re looking forward to dining at the new Greek restaurant we can walk to in April.

Lynne and I received our first Pfizer shots in late February with second ones scheduled for next week. Lynne starts virtual COVID training to return to working Guest Services at Wrigley Field. I’m waiting to see what games in the April home stand we’ll be invited to join 8,200 fans as season ticket holders.

While we’re still getting Viking Cruise brochures for 2022, we’re just hoping to visit Michigan in late May. There are still more sheltering days ahead. Stay Mighty!

So I’m up here in the North Woods
Just staring at a lake
Wondering just exactly how much
They think a man can take
I eat fish to pass the time away
‘Neath this blue Canadian moon
This old world has made me crazy
Crazy as a loon
Lord, this world will make you crazy
Crazy as a loon

Crazy as a Loon
by John Prine & Pat McLaughlin


“We have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities. Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build and much to gain.” – President Joe Biden 1/20/2021

I’ve been wrestling with this blog for over three weeks; primarily because I’m not sure how to answer my own question. The Senate Impeachment Acquittal certainly does not provide a just closure. Yet, the question is more than the January 6th Storming of the Capitol.

A Bill Moyers tweet (@BillMoyers) on January 29, 2021 shared historically relevant points for President Biden’s inauguration, Trump’s second impeachment and February’s Black History Month: “Speaking in NYC in 1878, Frederick Douglass had a warning for white northerners about how they remembered the Civil War. Douglass’s words then will resonate with many Americans today, writes @Stephen_A_West.

The post-Civil War years teach us the perils of heeding calls for reconciliation while ignoring those for justice.

“There was a right side and a wrong side in the late war, which no sentiment ought to cause us to forget,” Douglass declared. “[W]hile to-day we should have malice toward none, and charity toward all, it is no part of our duty to confound right with wrong, or loyalty with treason.”
“I am not here to fan the flame of sectional animosity, to revive old issues, or to stir up strife between races,” he declared, “but no candid man, looking at the political situation of the hour, can fail to see that we are still afflicted by the painful sequences both of slavery and of the late rebellion.”

West notes that Douglas went on to reference the closing line of Ulysses S. Grant’s letter accepting the 1868 Republican nomination for president: “In the language of our greatest soldier, twice honored with the Presidency of the nation, ’Let us have peace.’ Yes, let us have peace, but let us have liberty, law, and justice first. Let us have the Constitution, with its 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, fairly interpreted, faithfully executed, and cheerfully obeyed in the fullness of their spirit and the completeness of their letter.”

West closes his historical comparison from 143 years ago to today commenting Grant likewise understood that a “policy of conciliation” that was “all on one side” was doomed to fail. “One other lesson, from the 18th president for the 46th: beware ‘shrewd leaders’ on the other side who talk conciliation only ‘for effect.’”

I presume Grant had to deal with multiple Mitch McConnells during his Presidency. Although he would probably be scratching his head over Mitch’s “I can’t convict a former president; even though I was the one who made sure we didn’t try him while he was still in office.” As Bob Dylan asked 58 years ago:

And how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind

Don’t hold your breath waiting for 43 Republican Senators to see anything troubling. Simply go ahead and have yourself the first troubling BAD President Day in our country’s history. Just remember The Hill We Climb inauguration poem by Amanda Gorman’s [@TheAmandaGorman]

“But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
It can never be permanently defeated.


May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young

So there have been other “Birthday” blogs since I started blogging in 2014.

Cedarburg WI / December 28, 2019

This year may not be a major number birthday; but after 2020, I am retiring.  Not in spirit but physically the body is aging. There are memories to capture and share. There are still so many injustices that demand challenging.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the light surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young

The McConnell controlled Senate ignores real COVID relief. So a #JustEconomy is awaiting Georgia voters to #DitchMitch on January 5th by electing Rev. Warnock and Jon Ossoff for a 50/50 U.S. Senate.

Here’s a 2018 injustice example when 87% of apartment construction was luxury units [as tracked by Yardi Matrix coverage of over 80,000 large-scale apartment developments with at least 50 units across more than 130 markets in the United States]. No wonder there is an affordable housing crisis that predates the potential tsunami of COVID evictions to come in 2021.

Yes, there’s a long “Task List for Justice” to be addressed by the Biden Administration. Re-engaging with the Paris Climate Accord is only the starting rung.

To get thru 2020 was only possible for me with the love & support of my wife Lynne, our son TJ and his wife Maureen and the smiles of our grandson Logan. To them and all of you:  

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
“Forever Young” by Bob Dylan

PS: I’m drawing my inspiration for the next 20 years from Pete Seeger’s spoken rendition of Forever Young. Then at 90 years plus, this legend had the spirit that I hope to emulate. Check Pete out:



So these last few weeks have been tumultuous. Now we have a new Stay-At-Home advisory here in Chicago before we can get to new hopes for 2021. My wife Lynne & I have found comfort Sunday mornings in streaming mass from Old St. Patrick’s, joining thousands from across the US and world.

Then we check out Songs from Home by Mary Chapin Carpenter from different rooms in her Virginia farm house, always accompanied by Angus, her “squeaky toy virtuoso.”

This Sunday November 15th was episode #47. I don’t remember when we started but her portfolio is extensive enough to keep us comforted for the weeks ahead as well.

In October, we did get away to Michigan before it was more recently added to Chicago’s quarantine list. Up in the Leelanau Peninsula [the thumb of MI’s mitten], we toured wineries and caught beautiful Fall colors. I added another photo to my lighthouse collection: Grand Traverse Lighthouse inside Leelanau State Park.

We also wrote 200 postcards to voters in Arizona. Postcards to Swing States’ goal was to send 13 million postcards to voters in 10 states FL, PA, MI, WI, AZ, NC, IA, ME, KS & MT with this message: “We do our best for our families no matter our color, age or gender. But some politicians divide us to block access to affordable healthcare, good schools and clean water. Let’s join together and Vote!” Like to believe it made a difference in 50% of those states. Maybe Iowa will swing next time.

There are multiple choices from Mary Chapin’s songbook to choose from for this blog. I’m sure she didn’t consider the relevance of these lyrics for Trump today when she wrote them decades ago:

Hey baby I’m running out of things to say
Please don’t hate me this feeling just won’t go away
Now we’re spending all our time caught in a fantasy
Just trying to keep in mind the way it used to be
But you pretend and I pretend
That everything is fine
And though we should be at an end
It’s so hard admittin’
When it’s quittin’ time

Mary Chapin ends every episode of Songs from Home imploring us all to adopt this mantra: “Until the next time, you know what to do: stay well, stay strong, wear your mask, and Stay Mighty!



“In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. August 28, 1963 “March for Jobs and Freedom”

I opened a March 26, 2014 review for SHELTERFORCE of Joseph Stiglitz’s The Price of Inequality with this quote. Dr. King’s promissory note is still waiting to be cashed. So now is the time to revisit the issue of reparations.

Nikole Hannah-Jones is the creator of The 1619 Project, which won the National Magazine Award for public interest and a George Polk special award this year. She is also a 2017 MacArthur fellow. In 2020, she won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary for her essay about black Americans and democracy.

Her June 30, 2020 New York Times Magazine article WHAT IS OWED is subtitled “If true justice and equality are ever to be achieved in the United States, the country must finally take seriously what it owes black Americans.”

As a director emeritus of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, I received an invite for a July 21, 2020 virtual NCRC Just Economy session with Nikole entitled “Envisioning an Anti-Racist Economy.” Her persuasiveness is even more profound verbally, which says a lot given the strength of her written arguments.

In her NYT magazine treatise, she shares the MLK quote above noting it as part of the “I Have A Dream” speech “where King says black people have marched on the capital to cash “a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’” She observes “In this time of foment, there has been an astounding silence around his most radical demands. The seldom-quoted King is the one who said that the true battle for equality, the actualization of justice, required economic repair.”

Hannah-Jones cites the recent publication by Duke University economist William Darity Jr. and his partner, A. Kirsten Mullen, “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the 21st Century. Both history and road map, she notes “the book answers the questions about who should receive reparations and how a program would work.”

NCRC’s Just Economy Session on September 9, 2020, featured Darity and Mullen. Click here to view the recording of the session. They suggest reparations should go to any person who has documentation that he or she identified as a black person for at least 10 years before the beginning of any reparations process and can trace at least one ancestor back to American slavery.

In closing her NYT Magazine article, Nikole Hannah-Jones exhorts:

“Reparations are a societal obligation in a nation where our Constitution sanctioned slavery, Congress passed laws protecting it and our federal government initiated, condoned and practiced legal racial segregation and discrimination against black Americans until half a century ago. And so it is the federal government that pays.”

For those wondering how to afford that, please see my last blog SHIFTING THE PARADIGM FOR A JUST ECONOMY…ENDING THE DEFICIT MYTH and read Stephanie Kelton’s book. Kelton poses the “practical economic consequences to America’s yawning inequality chasm.” When confronting this threat to our democracy, we must constructively address reparations not only as a national healing but as an economic investment. We all benefit from a Just Economy.

Nikole Hannah-Jones concludes:
“If black lives are to truly matter in America, this nation must move beyond slogans and symbolism. Citizens don’t inherit just the glory of their nation, but its wrongs too. A truly great country does not ignore or excuse its sins. It confronts them and then works to make them right. If we are to be redeemed, if we are to live up to the magnificent ideals upon which we were founded, we must do what is just. It is time for this country to pay its debt. It is time for reparations.



“What matters is not whether the government’s budget is in surplus or deficit but whether the government is using its budget to achieve good outcomes for the rest of the economy.” — Stephanie Kelton @StephanieKelton
The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy

Deficit Myth (2)I finished The Deficit Myth a few weeks ago. My paradigm has shifted and so will yours when you read this pivotal book. I’ve written book reviews before but have been wrestling with how to best capture this momentous theory and how it can reshape our collective aspirations for politics at this urgent time.

Over a 46-year vocation for community development, there have been numerous times, including now, when “limited” resources have curtailed initiatives for a #JustEconomy. Thanks to Stephanie Kelton, I now realize that the prevailing political lens was not only wrong but even intentionally obscured. “It is counterintuitive to define full employment as a certain level of unemployment,” Kelton observes. “To put it crudely, the Fed uses unemployed human beings as its primary weapon against inflation.”

I have been a Fed watcher since my first job working for Gale Cincotta, mother of the federal Community Reinvestment Act [CRA], put me in the Federal Reserve Board room with her, over a dozen diverse community leaders and Fed Chairman Paul Volcker in 1980. As far as I’m concerned, Janet Yellen is the only Fed Chair who fully embraced its dual mandate to pursue both maximum employment and stable prices.

Community Development has been subject to decades of malign neglect by monetary policy that has discouraged affordable reinvestment. Kelton and Modern Monetary Theory [#MMT] advocate for fiscal policies that provide a federal job guarantee. “Involuntary unemployment will disappear. Anyone seeking paid employment has guaranteed access to a job at a rate of remuneration established by the federal government.”

Individuals, families, communities and our economy will benefit. MMT reveals a future built around a “care economy.” The federal government would fund “jobs that are aimed at caring for our people, our communities, and our planet.” Clearly not a priority of a Republican controlled Senate and White House.


True in October 1976 & 2020

But here’s the crux of the paradigm shift: a deficit of another trillion dollars should not be the relevant issue before Congress today. In a pandemic, its warped lens are condemning Americans to more unemployment, homelessness, inadequate education, rampant climate change, and COVID deaths. These are “The Deficits That Matter” {Chapter 8}.

“By shifting the discussion of budgeting from its focus on debt and deficits to one that focuses on the deficits that matter, MMT gives us the power to imagine a new politics and a new economy, moving us from a narrative of scarcity to one of opportunity.”

Kelton reminds us the reason we are confronted with these real deficits: “It’s the deficit between the few and the many; between the powerful and the powerless; between those with voice and those without. It’s our democracy deficit.” In “Building an Economy for the People” {Chapter 9}, Kelton exhorts us to pursue multiple policies with the MMT lens to harness the power of Congress to build an economy that works for all. But for that to happen, our understanding of the economy has to change. The public debate must shift.

So embrace this “Copernican moment.” For the sake of your family, your community, and your country, read this book.

“Through the MMT lens, we can see an alternative and more hopeful set of possibilities. It’s our future. It’s our economy. And it’s our monetary system. We can make it work for us.” — Stephanie Kelton



Have you ever seen a baby walk for the first time?
It’s like watching a sparrow, a sparrow’s wings unfold
And when that baby, he smiles up at you
Man, there’s some things that never get old

Thirty-three years ago on August 1, 1987, Andre Dawson hit 3 home runs for a Cubs win. I didn’t see them. I was sleeping after my wife Lynne gave birth earlier that morning to our son TJ.


Logan, Dad & Grandpa 2020On his 33rd birthday this weekend, TJ celebrated for the first time with his son Logan who was born almost 10 months ago. It was a memorable family moment. Logan is not yet walking on his own; but he’s only a few weeks away from doing so. He was cruising from the living room to the kitchen holding on to his baby walker.

TJ's 29th Birthday Wishes (2)

I first blogged about TJ on his 28th birthday in 2015. We often would go to a Cubs game on TJ’s birthday. For his 29th birthday, we put his name up on Wrigley’s video screen. We were planning to go this year; but then the game was COVIDed.

My favorite TJ birthday was a Cubs game where we sat in the bleachers through at least two rain delays and got soaked. But because so many fans left, we were there in the front row for the Cubs extra-inning win. Major father/son lesson: it’s never over until it’s over.

TJ & Mo 8-1-2018

I’m sure his wife Maureen’s favorite TJ birthday was two years ago when they exchanged wedding vows. I’m not putting TJ on the spot; I’m declaring that as his favorite too.


Happy Birthday TJ! There’s some things that never get old.


Sometimes that face looking back in the mirror
It make that mirror, make that mirror cold, babe
But in my heart, oh, I’m a hundred years younger
Man, there’s some things that never get old, no, no…

Performed by Vince Gill
Songwriters: Keith Anderson / Jim Photoglo



You can dance in a hurricane
But only if you’re standing in the eye

So much stormy weather since the Memorial Day murder of George Floyd…. Resistance signOne can only wonder the forecast between Independence Day and Labor Day and then before Election Day, now less than four months away.

Thought about Stephen Stills’ 1966 lyrics For What It Is Worth: “Young people speaking their minds; Getting so much resistance from behind.” Unfortunately, I assume there will be other events to use those lyrics in a future blog.

Other flashbacks only accentuate the struggles across centuries against systemic racism and more recent decades of redlining. Chicago’s NPR reporters updated this sad and unjust history last month with story on the shocking disparity that remains prevalent in lending between white areas and communities of color.

Follow-up story @lindalutton this past week on community groups calling on Chicago to donate city-owned lots to build 2,000 single-family homes on the South and West sides — an obvious start on reparations for decades of public and private disinvestment. Affordable housing that can also create local jobs with career potential for thousands.

Such research and proposed solutions have been published before. The political will has always been lacking. There can no longer be excuses or inaction or insufficient perfunctory attempts.  Deficit Myth

I’m in the middle of reading The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory & the Birth of the People’s Economy @StephanieKelton. In Chapter 4: Their Red Ink is Our Black Ink, she urges us to change our lens and the national paradigm. Deficits “can be used to sustain life & build a more” #JustEconomy.

All those community rebuilding investments that we have advocated for so long can be seeded by our own federal government. To date, our elected officials have not understood this or have opposed it in their furtherance of racist inequality.

When you’re standing in the eye, there are more storms heading our way. Stay Safe. Be Mighty.

I am a sturdy soul
And there ain’t no shame
In lying down in the bed you made
Can you fight the urge to run for another day?
You might make it further if you learn to stay
I wrapped your love around me like a chain
But I never was afraid that it would die
You can dance in a hurricane
But only if you’re standing in the eye

Songwriters: Timothy Hanseroth / Phillip Hanseroth / Brandi Carlile



Safe at HomeIt’s Day #62. Yes, I’m counting the days we’ve been sheltering in place. Today, the Cubs would have been in San Diego. If home here in Chicago, it would have been a rain-out. So either way, there was no game today.

It’s been over four months since my last blog; decades since my last confession. But we do live stream 10am Mass every Sunday.

I had the best intention to post a blog during our February cruise of South America. I even noted so in one of the four journal entries I did manage to write. But even on days without shore excursions, there never seemed to be enough time. Little did we know flying home from Santiago Chile on March 2nd what we were returning to.

Highlights from those journal entries include:Amalia Glacier


  • Sunday market in San Telmo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Holanda and Amalia Glaciers, both truly “awe” inspiring; Amalia translating as “Work of God”
  • Chilean wine tour especially visiting William Fevre & Maquis wineries; love that Carménère
  • Great food throughout our journey culminating in our final dinner at Bocanáriz in Santiago, of course pairing Chilean wine with each course.

Now some book recommendations for your sheltering:Book Covers May 2020

A Pilgrimage to Eternity by Timothy Egan;
The Overstory by Richard Powers; and
What You Have Heard is True by Carolyn Forché.

But please order from an independent bookstore, not Amazon.

I found all three to be very moving. Carolyn’s “Memoir of Witness & Resistance” in El Salvador was especially appreciated as background to the Community Empowerment Tour in El Salvador that my wife and I took in 2012 sponsored by EcoViva that I blogged about in 2014.

Another tip for lifting your spirits came from the Sunday New York Times, new At Home section. Check out Some Good News by John Krasinski. His weekly round-up every Sunday evening will make you smile.

I have been viewing a lot more music videos since the COVID passing of John Prine. His loss hit me harder than I expected as I revisited so many great lyrics from this legendary songwriter. From his legacy tributes, I discovered a superb younger songwriter Brandi Carlile that I had missed. Check her out. My wife shared her song The Mother with our daughter in-law on her first Mother’s Day with our grandson Logan.

I will strive my best to return to blogging monthly. You all be”Safe at Home.” In the meantime, let me share one of Prine’s best:

Then you change your mind – for something else to do
And your heart gets bored with your mind and it changes you
Well it’s a doggone shame – and it’s an awful mess
I wish you love – I wish you happiness
I wish you love – I wish you happiness
I guess I wish – you all the best
ALL THE BEST by John Prine