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New Ground 103

November - December, 2005

Contents

  • Everybody In! Nobody Out! by Bob Roman
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • Labor as Party

    The Lisa Fittko Internship

    American and Vietnamese Agent Orange Victims Tour the United States

    New Ground 103.1 - 11.29.2005

    New Ground 103.2 - 12.10.2005

    New Ground 103.3 - 12.17.2005

    New Ground 103.4 - 01.05.2006

     


    Everybody In! Nobody Out!

    by Bob Roman

    In contrast to some previous years, the Campaign for Better Health Care's (CBHC) annual meeting was a robust affair. Held at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza in Chicago this past November 10, it brought together nearly 400 participants from around the state. While there was some mainstream press coverage, it was mostly in the context of the keynote speaker, Governor Rod Blagojevich, and his "Kids Care" program and his administration's suspect hiring and contracting practices.

    The reason for the increased interest by health care activists and the reason for journalistic neglect is fairly similar: the Health Care Justice Act. To recap, the Health Care Justice Act sets up the "Adequate Health Care Task Force" that will draft legislation dealing with the health care crisis for the state legislature to consider next year, the goal being to have the legislation in effect by 2007. Depending upon what the task force recommends, this may (or may not) be a major, radical change in health care in Illinois.

    So why is Kids Care a story and Health Care Justice not? Part of it is that anything talked up by a bunch of politicians is considered news. Then too, Kids Care comes in the context of conflict: a looming election contest, threatening criminal prosecutions. But while the implications of the Health Care Justice Act could be radical, no one really knows at this point. It's all just possibilities; it's all just complicated ambiguities. Nobody knows who the winners and losers will be. Thus there is no overt conflict thus no drama thus no story.

    "Everybody In! Nobody Out!" the crowd at the meeting enthusiastically chanted in a ritual not unlike singing "Solidarity Forever" at union events. But if the actual implications of the Health Care Justice Act are presently ambiguous, this year's CBHC annual meeting was also a study in ambiguity. The meeting was a careful balancing act between maintaining interest and enthusiasm for the process of the Health Care Justice Act and a studied openness as to the specifics of the Task Force's product. After all, if no one knows who the winners and losers will be, it's hard to organize opposition to the process.

    For example, one of the major presentations at the meeting was by Larry Boress of the Midwest Business Group on Health. It was a Power Point slide show entitled "Affordable, Accessible Health Care: A Smart Business Decision". Much of this dealt with educating "consumers" about health issues and providing what might be called "transparency" regarding the quality and price of the services available. Some of this would be of interest in any health care system. But the thrust of this presentation was to explore ways of making health care an interchangeable commodity, a necessity if "consumer based" (which is to say "free market") approaches to health care have any chance at universal application.

    Boress' presentation was politely received.

    The CBHC also included, in the meeting packet, an answer to Boress' presentation in the form of a reprint of a New Yorker article from August 29, 2005. "The Moral-Hazard Myth: The Bad Idea Behind Our Failed Health-Care System" by Malcolm Galdwell examines the assumptions made by ideologues obsessed with supply and demand curves and the gruesome consequences in real life.

    Another major part of the program was a reprise of last year's panel discussion about the Health Care Justice Act. This year the panelists included Mark Blum (Executive Director, America's Agenda), Kao-Ping Chua (Jack Rutledge Fellow, American Medical Students Association), Rachel Rosen DeGolia (Operations & Organizing Director, UHCAN), and Steve Scheer (Principal, Health Management Associates). The panel's topic was to be rather broader, but moderator Elizabeth Brackett (The News Hour with Jim Lehrer) found the process and the prospects of the Health Care Justice Act to be more interesting. While Mark Blum had a great deal to contribute, Steve Scheer was perhaps more interesting. Evidently a longtime campaigner for universal health care, he has reached the point where he has become a somewhat dogmatic advocate of incremental reforms. In light of the long and disappointing history of efforts toward universal health care in this country, Scheer's attitude is understandable. But such a promiscuous love of tinkering is unwarranted. There are worthy incremental reforms that make significant improvements to the lives of a large constituency, such as Medicare and (to a lesser extent) Medicaid. Then there are reforms that are incremental?

    The keynote address by Governor Rod Blagojevich largely concerned his new Kids Care program. Quite possibly this program qualifies as a worthy incremental reform; it covers a significant constituency for whom it will make a real difference. On the other hand, it is to be paid for, in part, by placing Medicaid recipients into "managed care" programs. In the context of private, for-profit insurance, "managed care" becomes shorthand for rationed care with an additional cut removed for profits. Does this "incremental reform" amount to spreading thin services even thinner? One has to sympathize with Republican whining about vagueness.

    Blagojevich, or his speechwriters, have apparently been reading Jim Wallis and listening (though not too closely) to George Lakoff. The Governor spent much of his speech proclaiming his budget as a "moral document", a testament to family values, etc. All of which might sound convincing if Blagojevich had taken any risks in the budget's composition.

    The lack of overt, active opposition to the Health Care Justice Act process does not preclude the possibility of sabotage. Or is it incompetence? The past President of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Doug Dority, spoke to the meeting, briefly, in his capacity as the President of America's Agenda. He condemned the performance of the Illinois Department of Public Health in arranging the hearings mandated under the Health Care Justice Act. The first hearing at Trinity UCC Church in Chicago was well attended. (The UofC Young Democratic Socialists worked with other campus groups to bring students to the hearing. Over 500 people attended.) But the venues for subsequent hearings were finalized at the last minute, often with no more than a week's advance notice. Chicago DSA has been sending postcards advertising the hearings and the opportunity to testify to our database in the zip code(s) surrounding the hearing sites, but it's not clear how useful this is if recipients only get three or four days notice.

    It is possible to submit comments (that is, to testify) by mail and email. You can mail your written testimony (typed, double-spaced, 8.5" x 11" paper) to Tracy Morgan, Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Health Policy, 525 W. Jefferson St., Springfield, IL 62761. Or you can email your comments to hcja@idph.state.il.us. For more information, go to http://www.idph.state.il.us/hcja/

    CBHC is also working on getting legislators in the Illinois House and Senate to endorse health care reform. Among other things, the pledge insists "that efforts cannot stop with covering all children in Illinois ­ we must cover all Illinoisans!" and commits the individual to attending a public hearing of the Adequate Health Care Task Force. For more information, call the CBHC at 312.913.9559 or go to http://www.cbhconline.org/HCJC/index.htm.

    These are interesting times for health care politics in Illinois. The coming year will be when we decide if it is a time of meaningful change or meaningless hot air. CBHC has drafted a set of criteria by which to judge whatever the Adequate Health Care Task Force produces. Viewed through ideological eyes, it's easy to imagine that only a universal ("single payer") solution would adequately address the criteria. But in fact, they are mostly vague enough to encompass any number of approaches. And the criteria are broad enough that any given solution to health care in Illinois is likely to shortchange some aspect of them. The criteria are not useless as a tool for judgment, but the range of possible solutions makes it likely CBHC will be in trouble with some part of its constituency when it has to decide.


    Other News

    compiled by Bob Roman

    Labor as Party

    One of the more obscure political meetings in Chicago this fall could turn out to be one of the more earthshaking events in Chicago politics in maybe the past fifty years. Or, then again, it may not. This past September, the Chicago Federation of Labor called together several dozen local union leaders and union political directors to discuss labor's participation in municipal politics.

    The motivation for this increased interest is directly related to the protracted negotiations between the City and its unions, negotiations that took years. The Chicago Federation ultimately did a smart thing: it organized a series of hearings across the city to which local aldermen were invited. It forced the aldermen to confront the issue as one affecting their very own electorate, their very own neighbors, instead of as some abstract legal process. In the Rogers Park hearing, it was an interesting sight to see: otherwise "liberal" aldermen squirm as they admitted there was no money in the current budget for raises.

    Chicago Federation President Dennis Gannon is quoted as speculating, "If we have just a handful of union members serving as Chicago aldermen in our wards, we probably would not have had to wait an agonizing 28 months to get a city contract for our 30,000 unionized municipal employees. We probably would not have to fight so hard for the passage of a privatization accountability ordinance."

    One hopes that it would be so easy. There's at least one alderman who was an union officer, in SEIU, and it hasn't been unusual for various city politicians to maintain union cards. At least some of the City Council support for the privatization ordinance, a major labor legislative priority, was motivated by the inability of aldermen to place workers with private contractors when city work had been outsourced (translation: no patronage!). And when city employees do owe their jobs to the local alderman, who will be in charge politically: the alderman or the unions?

    It's possible that the Chicago Federation is looking to Los Angeles as its inspiration, and one certainly hopes so. Chicago has over 250,000 union members, not including retirees and family, so the potential is certainly there. But it will require a major change in how labor does business in politics. The protracted contract negotiations and lack of aldermanic enthusiasm for keeping Wal-Mart out of Chicago have left many steaming; there is indeed interest in change. On the other hand, without having made a formal endorsement, the Chicago Federation recently recommended to its friends and members a Lisa Madigan fundraiser. 2007 could be a very interesting year in Chicago politics. Or not.

    The Lisa Fittko Internship

    When veteran Hyde Park activist and author Lisa Fittko died this past March at the age of 95, her friends decided to honor her memory by establishing an internship program with the Crossroads Fund in her name. Fittko lived a rather remarkable life before settling down to life of activism in Chicago. She wrote two books about her experiences: Escape Through the Pyrenees and Solidarity and Treason: Resistance and Exile 1933 ­ 1940. In 1998, a documentary film was made of her life: Lisa Fittko: But We Said We Will Not Surrender.

    The organizers are celebrating Ms. Fittko and the inauguration of the internship program with an event on Saturday, December 10, 3 PM to 5 PM, at the First Unitarian Church at 5650 S. Woodlawn in Chicago. Contributions should be made to "Crossroads Fund: Lisa Fittko Internship" and mailed to Crossroads Fund, 3411 W. Diversey, Chicago, IL 60647. For more information, call 773.324.1507.

    American and Vietnamese Agent Orange Victims Tour the United States

    Wars do not end when the bombs stop falling and the fighting ceases. The devastation continues long after, in the land and in the minds and bodies of the affected population. As part of healing the wounds of war, Vietnamese survivors of Agent Orange, who still seek justice more than 30 years after the end of the war, will be coming to the United States to meet us.

    The meeting will take place Wednesday, November 30, 6 PM at Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan 2nd Floor Congress Lounge, in Chicago. This meeting, organized in Chicago by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, is part of a 30 day tour of the United States organized on behalf of Vietnamese exposed to Agent Orange. While U.S. veterans have received some measure of compensation, after years of struggle, Vietnamese victims have not received a single cent of compensation or humanitarian aid from the U.S. government or the chemical manufacturers. Vietnamese citizens have filed a lawsuit to hold the chemical companies responsible for the manufacture of Agent Orange and to achieve justice.

    Chicago DSA is among the cosponsors of this meeting.

    For more information about this campaign, go to http://www.vn-agentorange.org. For more information about the lawsuit, go to http://www.ffrd.org/Lawsuit/Lawsuit.htm. To sign a petition in support of this effort for justice, go to http://www.petitiononline.com/AOVN


    Erratum

    The alderman I had in mind is, of course, Ted Thomas. But of course, he had not been an officer in SEIU but rather in Chicago ACORN. Now it is true that Chicago ACORN rather intimately shares office space with SEIU Local 880, but from a distance they are two very distinctly different organizations. Begging your pardon. RR


    New Ground #103.1

    11.29.2005

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Socialist International Meetings
    New Ground 103 Erratum

    1. Politics

    Stealing Elections
    Protest America's 1,000th Execution
    Illinois Health Care Referendum

    2. Upcoming Events of Interest

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    DSA News

    Socialist International Meetings

    The Socialist International, the world-wide organization of social democratic, socialist and labour parties, will elect its President at the upcoming meeting of its Council to be held in Athens on January 30 - 31 of next year.
    http://www.socialistinternational.org/main.html
    The meeting will be preceded by a meeting of the Socialist International Women Bureau on the 27th and 28th, also in Athens.
    http://www.socintwomen.org.uk/CONTENTS/ENGLISH.html
    The International Union of Socialist Youth will be having its 26th World Congress in Esbjerg, Denmark, on January 13 through 15 of 2006.
    http://www.iusy.org/index2.php

    New Ground 103 Erratum

    What? A mistake other than a typo? Yes! Write in haste, repent at leisure. If you're curious, go to:
    http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngarchive/ng103.html#anchor133268

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Politics

    Stealing Elections
    Among lefties, it is almost an article of faith that the 2004 election in Ohio, among other places, was stolen. Now the Government Accounting Office, as requested by Representative John Conyors, completed an investigation on the use of electronic voting machines in the Ohio 2004 election. The results are not encouraging for honest elections. To obtain to report, go to
    http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05956.pdf

    Much of the concern regarding the 2004 election was based on the discrepancy between exit polling and the election count. What you may not have heard is that it happened again in the 2005 election in Ohio. For more about this, for an "executive summary" of the report, and for other juicy and dismaying information, go to DSA member Bob Fitrakis' Columbus Free Press web site:
    http://freepress.org/departments/display/19/2005/1529

    For other developments regarding electronic vote fraud, go to
    http://www.blackboxvoting.org/

    Protest America's 1,000th Execution

    As you read this, the United States is close to carrying out its 1,000 execution since the reinstatement of the death penalty in this country in the 1970's. The current death penalty system is marked by racial discrimination, wrongful convictions, arbitrariness and the politicization of capital punishment.

    The 1,000th execution is expected to take place in either late November or early December. The Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (ICADP) is marking the shameful milestone with a vigil on the afternoon of day after the execution to protest the ongoing use of capital punishment.

    The vigil will take place between 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. at the Federal Plaza at Dearborn and Adams Streets in Chicago. ICADP will send out an e-mail alert to notify you of the date of the vigil. If you are already receiving the ICADP e-newsletter, you will get the notice. If not and you would like to receive our newsletter and notice, please sign up at the ICADP web site:
    http://www.icadp.org.

    Illinois Health Care Referendum

    "Shall the State of Illinois provide all state residents with full prescription benefits and the right to choose one's own doctors under a publicly financed comprehensive health insurance system?"
    Illinois Health Care Referendum 2006 is attempting to put this question on the November, 2006, ballot. It would be an advisory measure, only, but the timing would be useful to help pass whatever the Adequate Health Care Task Force recommends as legislation. For more information (and to download a petition with instructions on how to gather signatures) go to:
    http://www.illinoishealthcarenow.org/

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Upcoming Events of Interest

    Events listed here are not necessarily endorsed by Chicago DSA but should be of interest to DSA members, friends and other lefties. For other events, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html.

    Tuesday, November 29, 2:20 PM
    Dominican University Hosts Consul General of Venezuela in Chicago
    Fine Arts Building, Eloise Martin Recital Hall, 7900 W. Division Street, River Forest
    Martin E. Sanchez, Consul General of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Chicago, will discuss democratic initiatives and social change in Venezuela in a lecture. The Sanchez lecture will be followed by the screening of the film The Revolution Will Not Be Televised at 7:00 PM. in the recital hall. Both events are free. For more information about Martin Sanchez lecture or the free screening of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, call Dr. Christina Perez, assistant professor of sociology, at (708) 524-6693.

    Wednesday, November 30, 6 PM
    Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange Need Justice

    Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan 2nd Floor Congress Lounge, Chicago
    This meeting, organized in Chicago by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, is part of a 30 day tour of the United States organized on behalf of Vietnamese exposed to Agent Orange. While U.S. veterans have received some measure of compensation, after years of struggle, Vietnamese victims have not received a single cent of compensation or humanitarian aid from the U.S. government or the chemical manufacturers. Vietnamese citizens have filed a lawsuit to hold the chemical companies responsible for the manufacture of Agent Orange and to achieve justice. Chicago DSA is among the cosponsors.

    Thursday, December 1, 7 PM
    Life & Debt

    ACME Artworks, 1741 N. Western Av, Chicago
    The feature length documentary that addresses the affect of the IMF, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and current globalization policies on a developing country, specifically Jamaica. Presented by the Open University of the Left, tuition $5 but no one turned away.

    Thursday, December 8, 4:30 PM
    Labor Rally to Restore Workers' Freedom to Form Unions

    Haymarket Square Memorial, DesPlaines and Randolph, Chicago
    Join the Chicago Federation of Labor (http://www.cflonline.org) for a mass rally on International Human Rights Day to demand workers are guaranteed a fundamental human right: the right to have a union voice on the job. Come hear about the obstacles workers face when seeking to join a union at work and about the strategies for overcoming those obstacles.


    New Ground #103.2

    12.10.2005

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Young Democratic Socialists: Turning the Tide Toward Freedom
    The Socialist International Consults on Kosovo

    1. Politics

    Labor Rights Are Human Rights
    Health Care in Illinois: Is Massachusetts Our Future?
    Melissa Bean Does It Again
    Mumia Abu-Jamal

    2. Democratic Socialism

    The New Cooperative Movement in Venezuela
    Taxing Wealth Swedish Style

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    DSA News

    Young Democratic Socialists: Turning the Tide Toward Freedom

    The Young Democratic Socialists (YDS) are hosting a national conference in New York City on February 17-19 (President's Day weekend), called "Turning the Tide Towards Freedom: Building the Youth and Student Movement for Justice". The conference will bring together activists from across the country for workshops, trainings, great speakers, and more to reanimate the struggle to build a better future!

    Katrina exposed the realities of American injustice to a wide audience, but we must move forward to change and to challenge not only the Bush administration, but the entire systems of inequality and oppression that led to the disaster. The current international uproar about the CIA's use of "rendition" (secretly outsourcing torture of prisoners to other countries) has fanned the flames of an already swelling anti-war movement at home. The weak response from official Democratic party leaders to new evidence showing the racist, sexist and homophobic beliefs of Bush's Supreme Court Justice nominee, Samuel Alito, has spurred grassroots activism to simultaneously pressure and support progressive Democrats. Right wing attempts to slash the funding of vital programs for social uplift are provoking a backlash from communities that refuse to take it anymore.

    It is time to renew our energies, build community, and remember to keep our eyes on the prize. We are not only fighting against injustice, but for liberty and equality. Young people can and must turn the tide towards freedom, for in the timeless words of Frederick Douglass, "power concedes nothing without a demand."

    Workshops and panels will feature organizers and trainers from the anti-racist, feminist, youth, queer rights, trade union, and anti-war movements, as well as noted activist scholars and voices from the democratic left.

    We are still developing the program, but the preliminary list of featured speakers includes:

    • Bill Fletcher Jr., President of TransAfrica Forum, former co-chair of United for Peace and Justice, founder of the Black Radical Congress, as well as longtime trade union activist and former Education Director of the AFL-CIO;
    • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities and Director of the Center for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University, author of Can the Subaltern Speak?, noted post-colonial theorist, and longtime activist in the international women's movement;
    • Frances Fox Piven, distinguished sociologist at the Graduate School of the City University of New York, author of The War at Home: The Domestic Costs of Bush's Militarism; Poor People's Movements, Why Americans Don't Vote; and The New Class War, as well as Honorary Chair of the Democratic Socialists of America;
    • Steve Max, former leader of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), longtime activist in civil rights, labor and community movements and Midwest Academy trainer and designer of its economic education program;
    • Stephen Eric Bronner, Professor of Political Science and Comparative Literature at Rutgers University and author of the new book: Blood in the Sand: Imperial Fantasies, Right-Wing Ambitions, and the Erosion of American Democracy, and Socialism Unbound;
    • Clark Herndon and Tessa Garcia, campus anti-oppression activists, Program Director and Associate Program Director of the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue;
    • Joseph Schwartz, Chair, Department of Political Science, Temple University and Chair, Steering Committee of the Democratic Socialists of America;
    • Hector Soto, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Children's Defense Fund.
    • Corey D. B. Walker, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and African American Studies at the University of Virginia, author of the forthcoming study, "The Freemasonry of the Race": The Cultural Politics of Association and the Struggle for Democracy in America, now working on a new book project entitled Between Transcendence and History: Theology, Critical Theory and the Politics of Liberation, and also a member of the National Political Committee of the Democratic Socialists of America

    Conference sessions will cover critical topics, such as:

    • combating racism, sexism, and homophobia
    • fighting the prison-industrial complex
    • ending the wars abroad and in our own communities
    • exposing the realities of the low wage economy
    • building a vibrant democracy
    • engaging in anti-corporate campaigns and student-labor solidarity
    • linking struggles through multi-issue organizing
    • learning the nuts and bolts of grassroots activism
    • building activist chapters
    • and more

    Come pick up:

    • a vision of the better world we are struggling to create every day
    • valuable skills and resources for campus, high school and community organizing
    • a deeper understanding of systems of oppression and exploitation
    • strategies for combating the right-wing agenda of endless war, corporate greed, intolerance and deep cuts to needed social programs like college loans, affordable housing and Medicare

    To learn more and sign up for YDS email updates, including conference info, check out www.ydsusa.org, or contact our national office at yds@dsausa.org or call 212 727 8610 ext. 24.

    The Socialist International Consults on Kosovo
    The Socialist International conducted a round of consultations on the future of Kosovo in Sofia at the end of November. While the statement coming out of the meeting was mostly pleasant platitudes, the Socialist International once again provided a venue for more or less like-minded players from various sides of the conflict to learn more about one another and to discuss the issues. For somewhat more detail, go to:
    http://www.socialistinternational.org/main.html

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Politics

    Labor Rights Are Human Rights

    For the past several years, the AFL-CIO has been celebrating Human Rights Day, making the point that the United States does not live up to its signed commitments under international law, particularly with respect to the rights of workers to organize. The "celebration" is the occasion for demonstrations, rallies, and meetings all across the nation. In Chicago, the Chicago Federation of Labor held its event at Haymarket Square. Despite a snow storm (very pretty in the bright lights), nearly 200 people showed up for what was very wisely a brief event.
    American Rights at Work, a labor supported group advocating labor law reform, commissioned UIC's Center for Urban Economic Development to do a study of Chicago area organizing campaigns and the effect current labor law (and the lack of compliance to it) has on successful outcomes. The study gained rather more press than the rally (see http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/chicago/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=851561 for example). For copies of the report, "Undermining the Right to Organize: Employer Behavior During Union Representation Campaigns", and other materials regarding labor rights as human rights, go to:
    http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/ or http://www.uic.edu/cuppa/uicued/
    The United Electrical Workers joined the celebration of Human Rights Day by filing a complaint with the United Nations International Labor Organization (ILO) charging the State of North Carolina and the United States government with gross violations of worker rights. This is with regard to the State of North Carolina's failure recognize and bargain with UE Local 150. Public employees in the state are still prohibited, by state law, from collective bargaining. To learn how you can help, go to:
    http://www.ranknfile-ue.org/dec10.html.

    Health Care in Illinois: Is Massachusetts Our Future?

    The Adequate Health Care Task Force will recommend, next year, legislation to deal with the health care crisis in Illinois next year. Whatever the opinions of task force members, the recommendations will be strongly influenced by what the task force feels is likely to pass the Illinois General Assembly. Massachusetts is about a year ahead of Illinois in dealing with the health care issue. Can the Massachusetts experience shed some light on what to expect in Illinois?
    With some caution, perhaps. Massachusetts does have a different political culture, among other things being a heavily Democratic Party state. While there is a Republican Governor, the General Court is overwhelmingly Democratic: the Senate 33 Democrats to 6 Republicans and the House 126 Democrats to 23 Republicans and 1 independent.
    This supermajority does not seem to have had much effect. MassCare, the local equivalent to Illinois' Campaign for Better Health Care, had a "single-payer" bill, S 755, that was apparently reported favorably from the appropriate Senate committee. As near as I can gather, it was "disappeared" by a legislative maneuver that produced instead a bill that only covers about half the uninsured. For a precis by the health industry press, go to:
    http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?hint=3&DR_ID=33684
    Information about MassCare's single-payer proposal can be found at:
    http://www.masscare.org/legis.htm
    The Massachusetts House passed a bill that covers all the uninsured:
    http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?hint=3&DR_ID=33594
    The major difference being that the House was willing to impose payroll taxes to pay for it. Both essentially rely on private insurance, using Medicaid as a safety net for others.
    Massachusetts does have the option of passing legislation by referendum. And in fact there is a proposal that is likely to be on the November, 2006, ballot. This seems to be an additional step beyond the House proposal toward a single-payer system, but only a step. For more information, go to the "MassAct" web-site:
    http://www.massact.org/
    Health Care for All Massachusetts also maintains a blog useful as an introduction to the players and issues:
    http://www.hcfama.org/blog/index.htm

    Melissa Bean Does It Again
    U.S. Representative Melissa Bean, allegedly a Democrat, fouled her pants again. The first time was her vote in favor of CAFTA. The immediate consequence was an immediate disinvitation to a Northeastern Illinois Federation of Labor banquet. Now truly a woman of no expectations, she has fulfilled voting for the Republican tax cut:
    http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll621.xml
    For a survey of this atrocity, check out the Economic Policy Institute:
    http://www.epi.org/content.cfm/webfeatures_snapshots_20051207

    Mumia Abu-Jamal
    In a startling new development, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia has agreed to hear arguments on three claims by Pennsylvania death-row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal that his 1982 trial and state appeal were tainted by constitutional violations. Any one of those three claims, if upheld by the three-judge panel, could lead to a new trial for one of America's most famous and long- standing death row prisoners. For more information, go to:
    http://www.counterpunch.com/patrick12072005.html

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Democratic Socialism

    The New Cooperative Movement in Venezuela

    Under President Chavez, the number of cooperatives in Venezuela has exploded by orders of magnitude. Does this represent a viable new sector of the economy or is it an exercise in political manipulation? In "The New Cooperative Movement in Venezuela's Bolivarian Process", Camila Pineiro Harnecker provides an outline of how the Venezuela's economy is changing, asks some interesting and difficult questions though she does not necessarily provide the answers:
    http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/harnecker051205.html

    Taxing Wealth Swedish Style

    Sweden has abolished its estate tax, true, but that's not the whole story... See John Miller's article in Dollars & Sense:
    http://www.dollarsandsense.org/0905miller.html

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Upcoming Events of Interest

    Events listed here are not necessarily endorsed by Chicago DSA but should be of interest to DSA members, friends and other lefties. For other events, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html.

    Sunday, December 11, 6:00 PM
    Light a Candle for Change at Wal-Mart
    1300 Des Plaines Ave. Forest Park, IL
    To reflect upon our values this holiday season, community, religious, and labor leaders will be lighting candles in an action to bring change to Wal-Mart. ACORN, Chicago Jobs With Justice, and Local 881 UFCW, will be hosting a candlelight vigil at the Forest Park Wal-Mart. Please join us in the shared spirit of the holiday season as we call on Wal-Mart to change for the better and to embrace the best of what America has to offer.

    Monday, December 12, 11:30 Am - 1:00 PM
    Health Care Justice Coalition membership meeting

    Access Living, 614 W. Roosevelt Rd, Chicago
    For information, call Megan Meagher at 312-913-9449.

    Tuesday, December 13, 4 PM - 7 PM
    Adequate Health Care Task Force Hearing

    Illinois Hospital Association, 1151 E. Warrenville Rd, Naperville
    For more information, go to: http://www.cbhconline.org/HCJC/index.htm

    Wednesday, December 14, 4 PM - 7 PM
    Adequate Health Care Task Force Hearing

    Aurora Christian High School Auditorium, 2255 Sullivan Rd, Aurora
    For more information, go to: http://www.cbhconline.org/HCJC/index.htm

    Saturday, December 17, 2 PM
    "The Corporation"

    ACME Artworks, 1741 N. Western, Chicago
    "The Corporation" is a meditation on the history, nature and future of the dominant institution of our time, whose influence extends from the halls of government to the most intimate details of our lives. The documentary puts this "legal person" on the couch, seeking to unlock the inner life of an entity whose only goal is to maximize shareholder wealth. It concludes that the typical limited liability corporation meets the diagnostic criteria of a psychopath. (Color, 145 minutes) An Open University of the Left event; $5 tuition but no one turned away.


    New Ground #103.3

    12.17.2005

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    DSA National Convention Report

    1. Politics

    Congress Hotel Strike: 30 Months and Counting

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Movement Toward Socialism in Bolivia?

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

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    DSA News

    DSA National Convention Report

    The DSA 2005 National Convention was in November, and all these weeks you've been wondering what happened. No? Well, you are now! Go to:
    http://www.dsausa.org/convention2005/report/convention.html

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    Politics

    Congress Hotel Strike: 30 Months and Counting

    While the members of HERE Local 1 had won a tremendous victory in negotiations with the Chicago hotel industry in September of 2002, one hotel, the Congress Plaza Hotel, refused to go along with the industry settlement, insisting on pay cuts and outsourcing. In June of 2003, the workers at the Congress walked out. (One of the early job actions was at our 2003 Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner, see http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngarchive/ng88.html#anchor1562616 .) They've been out ever since.
    This late last Thursday afternoon, December 15, UNITE HERE Local 1 called its members and friends out for a special picket line to protest the presence of the Midwest Band Clinic. About a hundred people gathered in support of the strike.
    At the end of the demonstration, Rev. Calvin Morris (Community Renewal Society), Jane Ramsey (Jewish Council on Urban Affairs), and William McNary (Citizen Action Illinois) spoke in support of strikers. One of the striking Congress workers also spoke, as did Henry Tamarin, President of UNITE HERE Local 1. Tamarin noted that the scabs at the Congress are making 75% of what Local 1 members are making, and without benefits. The industry contract that the Congress refused to accept is set to expire next September, and the Congress is still talking pay cuts. Tamarin noted that one local hotel executive told him that he'd love to pay his workers what the Congress is paying, but not if it means having Congress picket lines outside his door. For more information on the strike, go to:
    http://www.congresshotelstrike.info/

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    Democratic Socialism

    Movement Toward Socialism in Bolivia?

    The Bolivian national elections are hard upon us. If the leading candidate, Evo Morales, wins, will he be allowed to govern? And, if so, what might be expected? The International Relations Center examines these questions with two recent articles.
    In "So What If Morales Wins in Bolivia", Ronald Bruce St John examines the possible consequences of a victory:
    http://americas.irc-online.org/am/2988
    In "Two Opposing Views of Social Change in Bolivia", Raul Zibechi interviews Movement Toward Socialism's Vice Presidential candidate Alvaro García Linera, and explores the ambiguous, conflicted attitude toward the role of the State as an instrument of change among Bolivian leftists.
    http://americas.irc-online.org/am/2987

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    Upcoming Events of Interest

    Events listed here are not necessarily endorsed by Chicago DSA but should be of interest to DSA members, friends and other lefties. For other events, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html.

    Wednesday, January 4, 4 PM - 7 PM

    Adequate Health Care Task Force Hearing

    North Park Community Center - Center Place Banquet Hall, 10040 Addison Rd, Franklin Park
    For more information, go to: http://www.cbhconline.org/HCJC/index.htm


    New Ground #103.4

    01.05.2005

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Chicago DSA Executive Committee Meeting
    Democratic Left

    1. Politics

    The State of Working Illinois
    IVI-IPO USA PATRIOT Act Web Site

    2. Upcoming Events of Interest

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    DSA News

    Chicago DSA Executive Committee Meeting

    The Chicago DSA Executive Committee meets Tuesday, January 10, 7 PM at the Chicago DSA office. The office is located at 1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403, in Chicago, at the three way intersection of Milwaukee, North, and Damen avenues, just off the Damen Avenue Station on the CTA Blue Line to O'Hare. It is business, but not particularly formal and all DSA members are welcome to attend. What? You're not a member? You can remedy that by going to:

    http://www.chicagodsa.org/join.html

    Democratic Left

    The Fall, 2005, issue of Democratic Left, DSA's national magazine, is in the mail and, if you were a DSA member, the Post Office would be delivering it any time now. On the other hand, you can also download or view or print it as an Adobe Acrobat file at:

    http://www.dsausa.org/dl/Fall_2005.pdf

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    Politics

    The State of Working Illinois

    In keeping with our cultural obsession with rolling odometers, it's customary to look back at the calendar year just ended with the intent to summarize, learn from, or whatever! While it is not web fresh as it was released in mid-November, probably one of the better places to look at the year's political economy (who got what) in Illinois is The State of Working Illinois. A joint project of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (http://www.ctbaonline.org) and Northern Illinois University's Regional Development Institute Office for Social Policy Research (http://www.rdiniu.org), the study has its own web site at:

    http://www.stateofworkingillinois.niu.edu.

    The web site includes a PDF download of the file and it includes much of the data in various formats, including as Excel spreadsheets.

    The report is especially valuable as it not only presents data for the entire state but also subdivides the state into ten regions, presenting the same series of data for each. This also includes projections regarding job growth in various occupations.

    Much of the information in the report will not be a great surprise to lefties, though you may find some of the details of particular interest. For example, the trend away from manufacturing and toward the service industry is old news, nor will it be any surprise that education and training are crucial for better paying jobs in that sector. While this has been reported elsewhere, you may be surprised to learn these better paying service jobs are disappearing (being exported) as well.

    This report is a great piece of work and deserves more attention. Check it out.

    IVI-IPO USA PATRIOT Act Web Site

    The Independent Voters of Illinois - Independent Precinct Organization's National Affairs Committee has set up a web site on the USA PATRIOT Act:

    http://patriotact.homestead.com/

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    Upcoming Events of Interest

    Events listed here are not necessarily endorsed by Chicago DSA but should be of interest to DSA members, friends and other lefties. For other events, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/page9.html.

    Friday, January 6, 11 AM

    PROTEST GEORGE BUSH!

    Chicago Hilton Hotel, 720 S. Michigan Av, Chicago

    President Dubya is scheduled to speak before (as usual) a hand-picked elite audience at the Economic Club of Chicago. Join the hoi polloi, a veritable menagerie of lefties, in protesting his visit.

     

    Wednesday, January 11, 4 PM - 7 PM

    Adequate Health Care Task Force Hearing

    Grove Junior High School, 777 Elk Grove Blvd, Elk Grove Village

    For more information, go to: http://www.cbhconline.org/HCJC/index.htm

     

    Thursday, January 12, 7 PM

    Winning Against Wal-Mart: Getting Beyond Oppositionism

    ACME Artworks, 1741 N. Western, Chicago

    A presentation by Carl Davidson, Executive Director of Networking for Democracy, arguing that simply opposing Wal-Mart is not enough but that "high roaad" structural reform alternatives have to be developed. For more information, email oulchicago@yahoo.com or call 773.384.5797.

     

    Wednesday, January 18, 4 PM - 7 PM

    Adequate Health Care Task Force Hearing

    Oakton Community Center, 4701 Oakton St, Skokie

    For more information, go to: http://www.cbhconline.org/HCJC/index.htm

     

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    PLEASE FORWARD TO THOSE YOU THINK WOULD BE INTERESTED.

    "New Ground" is published by

    Chicago Democratic Socialists of America
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    Chicago, IL 60647
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