Home About CDSA New Ground Events Debs Dinner Links Join DSA Audio Email us

 
Your contribution is appreciated
but, because of our advocacy work,
not tax deductible.

New Ground 120

September - October, 2008

Contents

  • The Financial Crisis of 2007 - 200? by Bill Barclay
  • A Living Wage in Oak Park by Tom Broderick
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • Progressive Politics
    Reverend Don Benedict
    Radical Feasts
    Concert for Peace

    New Ground 120.1 - 09.25.2008

    0. DSA News

    The Labor Movement and Progressive Politics in the Post-Bush Era
    Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner
    Democratic Left
    For a Sustainable World Society
    International Union of Socialist Youth

    1. Politics

    Congress Hotel
    Coalition of Immokalee Workers & Whole Foods
    School Funding
    Make a Noise
    The State of Working America

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Financial Crisis: Thinking About the Real Socialist Way Out

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 120.2 - 10.17.2008

    0. DSA News

    Meetings
    Fall 2008 "Red Letter"
    Socialist International on the Global Financial Crisis
    Douglass-Debs Dinner

    1. Politics

    Obama Socialist
    Ayers and Social Justice Education
    Understanding the White Vote
    Congress Hotel Boycott
    October 11 Anti-War Rally
    Rating Congress
    IVAW Members Arrested

    2. Democratic Socialism

    The Communist Manifesto Hits 160
    October Is National Coop Month

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 120.3 - 10.30.2008

    0. DSA News

    Meetings
    The Labor Movement and Progressive Politics in the Post-Bush Era
    Democratic Left

    1. Politics

    The West Is Red
    Paint McCain a Red-Baiter
    Terrorizing Dissent
    For Labor, Armageddon
    Victory at Smithfield
    United for Peace and Justice
    Tax Increment Financing

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Who Was Norman Thomas?

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest


     

    The Financial Crisis of 2007 - 200?

    by Bill Barclay

    On October 9th, 2007, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 both closed at new all time highs. By late January 2008, both had lost more than 10% of their value and investors worried about a developing bear market. In the intervening three months the outlook the U.S. economy went positive to negative. In November and December 2007, the auction rate securities market, used by tax exempt borrowers such as hospitals, collapsed with no bids; on Dec 12th, the Fed announced the creation of by the Term Auction Facility which allowed banks to borrow anonymously for 28 days using a wide range of collateral to meet their pressing liquidity needs and stave off possible bank runs; in March, 2008, the Fed orchestrated the acquisition for Bear Sterns by J.P. Morgan Chase for $10/share, down more than 90% from the previous year's high (Bear was the only major investment bank that refused Fed pressure to assist in the bailout of Long Term Capital Management in the 1990s); and, in that same month the U.S. Congress agreed to a "stimulus package" of $150 billion. At the same time the rest of the world began to realize that the 2007 ­ 2008 financial crisis was not restricted to the U.S. So much for the stock market as a leading economic indicator, a status it achieved under Alan Greenspan's tenure at the Federal Reserve.

    What happened? And why? And what should progressives be saying and proposing in response to what is now widely acknowledged as an economic downturn of potentially major significance? This article argues (i) that the economic problems the U.S. now faces are long term and not readily amenable to the usual policy fixes; (ii) that the crisis is rooted in a convergence of three trends, two long-term and one more immediate; and (iii) that there are important policy ideas that progressives should be proposing, although their adoption will occur only as the result of political struggle and pressure.

     

    The Crisis: How Serious Is It? The sense of an economic threat is relatively new, even among those who might be thought to be attuned this kind of issue. At the 2007 Take Back America Conference , the War in Iraq was seen as by far the most important political issue, chosen by over 30% of the attendees with the economy listed as the number one issue by only 13% of the attendees. By the March 2008 Conference, this had changed: the economy was now listed by 30% of the attendees as the number one issue facing the country. Still, the presidential campaigns, both Democratic and Republican, were slow to focus on the economy and, when they did, the attention was often dismissive as in the famous claim by Phil Gram, McCain's chief economic advisor, that the recession was largely a mental one and that to focus on this issue was catering a nation of whiners.

    So, how serious is it? First, when people talk about a financial crisis in contrast to a crisis in the real economy, they are referencing the economy we once had, not the economy we have now. As late as the 1970s, manufacturing accounted for a larger portion of the GDP than did services but that is no longer true. By 2005, finance in all its forms (banking, insurance, mortgage brokers, etc.) represented approximately 25% of total economic production in the U.S. A crisis in an industry that accounts for one quarter of GDP is a crisis in the "real economy." Of course, finance is linked in myriad ways to the rest of the economy. One simple equation: the housing sector, consisting of mortgage lenders, construction, furnishings and related industries, accounted for a similar quarter of US output.

    Second, it is clear that the crisis is not and will not be restricted to the financial sector. One in ten homeowners is or will be facing the threat of foreclosure over the next two years ­ a level not seen since 1933. Defaults on corporate debt are rising with the second quarter of 2008 being the tenth consecutive quarter of increasing business bankruptcies. U.S. automakers are on the ropes as demand drops for their large, energy intensive vehicles. The companies (they used to be called the Big Three) are asking for a federal bailout of $25 billion and saying they may not survive in the absence of such assistance. Retail stores are already cutting back on sales staff and nationwide the unemployment rate rose to 6.1% in August, the eighth consecutive month with a decline in jobs. Today is not like the Fed's rescue of CitiBank via Saudi investment in 1981 ­ 1982, the assistance the same entity gave to junk bonds ­ holders and issuers ­ by lowering interest rates in the early 1990s, or even the scale of assistance necessary to clean up the Savings and Loan fiasco of the late 1980s / early 1990s.

    Third, today's economic problems come at the end of a long period of global credit expansion and deregulation, placing constraints on the available policy alternatives. While we can learn from the New Deal, the national and global economic environment and the U.S. relationship and role in the today's global economic system is quite different. We will not be able simply to copy New Deal programs.

     

    The Causes There are, I think, three primary causes. These causes intermesh in a variety of ways but each presents distinct problems and each needs specific policy responses. These causes are (i) the long term trend towards economic inequality in the U.S.; (ii) the credit expansion / contraction and debt cycle, primarily driven by housing; and (iii) the role and value of the dollar in the international economy, with particular emphasis on the trade in oil.

     

    Growth in Economic Inequality The long term trend towards increasing economic inequality in the U.S. has been documented so many times that even conservatives have acknowledged its reality. It is hard to come up with fresh ways to demonstrate the extremes of economic inequality, but perhaps the following may serve to remind us both how recent this trend is and the extremes to which we have gone. First, from 1945 to the mid 1980s, the median family income for all U.S. families increased faster than that for the top 10%, 5% and 1% by income families. Since the mid 1980s, the exact opposite has occurred with the median family income declining for all groups except the top 5% and 1%. Between 2001 ­ 2006 the top 15,000 families, .01% of all families, captured 25% of total family income growth in the U.S while the bottom 90% grabbed only 4%. As to the extreme to which we have taken this trend, consider the following. If workers' salaries had increased as rapidly as those of the CEOs of the largest corporations, the average workers' salary would now be over $200,000/year.

    What has been less commented upon is the significance of this growing inequality for the political economy. First, the growing concentration of income and wealth constrains the consumption (purchasing power) of the population as a whole. Savings rates dropped consistently over the past quarter century, actually turning negative in some recent years, as families tried to keep up with the American standard of consumption. But consumption was not, of course, simply financed by drawing down or foregoing savings. Don't have the cash? Put it on plastic. Use of credit cards to finance current consumption was not, of course, a new development. As far back as 1977, Time Magazine had observed that "insistence on buying only what can be paid for in cash seems as outmoded as a crew cut." However, the growth of consumer debt escalated in the past quarter century and is roughly equal to total U.S. GDP and is larger than the often cited government debt.

    Second, the increased concentration of income and wealth reshapes the political terrain. The cost of political campaigns has increased sharply in part because of the possibility of raising more money from people who literally have more than they know what to do with. The importance of large donors has in turn increased because there is an increased need for money. Thus the impact and influence of larger donors eclipsed that of competing institutions such as labor, civic and community groups.

    But the political use of concentrated income and wealth has not been restricted to the financing of campaigns. In fact its more significant impact has probably been in the reshaping of the universe of political discourse. Wealthy individuals and families have turned to founding and funding "research" institutes and think tanks. And the bias of these institutions is towards a system that has made their benefactors well off on a scale never seen before. Even as I write, there are proposals to found a Milton Friedman Institute at the University of Chicago with an initial target level of $200 million. It is very unlikely that the studies emanating from such an institute will find fundamental flaws in the functioning of markets or produce arguments for government intervention in the same.

     

    Debt ­ Financial Deregulation and Credit Expansion What is the debt problem facing the U.S? Despite highly publicized, ideologically driven lamentations about government debt such as those put forth in the propaganda film I.O.U.S.A., it is not the debt of governments, whether federal, state or local that threatens the U.S. economy. Rather, it is private and corporate debt that poses the greatest risks and that has brought us to the current crisis. Credit card debt has been of concern for some time. However, credit card debt is far from the only source of debt financing of consumption and in fact is now a smaller percentage of total consumer debt than two decades ago. Its place has been taken by mortgage debt. It is the housing sector that defines the specific nature of this economic downturn and is the major reason why the outcome is likely to be so difficult to control. From the early 1980s to the mid 1990s housing prices rose more or less in line with general inflation levels. However, that changed dramatically in later 1990s and the first 5 ­ 6 years of the 2000s. In the decade 1995 ­ 2005, housing prices increased by 30% above inflation. Homes, our primary residence, also became our savings vehicle ­ and our bank accounts.

    Certainly home ownership is good, at least for most people, as recognized in the Bush mantra of the "ownership society." So how did access to home ownership and rising house prices get us into so much trouble? There are at least three reasons for the mortgage and foreclosure crisis we face today. First, the banking model changed from a traditional, relatively conservative set of practices to an originate and distribute model. Second, as the housing boom continued while incomes lagged for the majority of the population, the standards on which mortgages were based deteriorated. Third, and perhaps most important for the individual home buyer, rising prices allowed the buyer to borrow against the appreciating value of the home.

    The 1999 repeal of Glass-Steagel allowed financial institutions such as CitiGroup or J.P. Morgan Chase to combine banking, insurance and real estate for the first time since the 1930s removing the walls that the Act created. Repeal was also the impetus for changing the mortgage lending business model and allowed almost anyone to enter the mortgage lending business. Prior to repeal, mortgage banking was largely a business of making loans and managing the resulting portfolio of loans. Banks (and other mortgage brokers) made loans to home buyers based on their income and assets and then earned the interest on the loan. If the borrower was unable to make timely payments, it was the lending bank who bore the financial risk and whose profitability was threatened. This risk meant that banks had an incentive to inquire into the financial resources of the borrower and to determine that that the borrower was a good risk for the life of the loan (since the 1930s, usually 30 year terms but often paid off in less time). However, the repeal of Glass-Steagel offered another method of participating in the mortgage business: banks (and others who entered the business of offering mortgages) could make the initial loan ("initiate" in the language of the industry), then "package" the loan into a mortgage backed security ("securitization"), and sell the new security to investors ("distribute" the security), take the money from this sale and make another mortgage loan. This model of banking turned out to very profitable ­ more so than the traditional approach. In 2006 mortgage lenders originated $2.5 trillion in loans (3 times the 1997 amount) and 75% was securitized.

    The "originate and distribute" model of banking (securitizing and selling off mortgages and other loans such as auto loans) provided little incentive for banks and other mortgage lenders to assess the long term financial viability of their borrowers. Put most bluntly, the mortgage lender only faced "pipeline" risk, i.e., the risk that the borrower could not make the payments required before the loan was securitized and sold off, that is the risk was limited to the loans still in the lender's pipeline. This inevitably led to a lowered set of standards for making mortgage loans; as long as the lender was confident that the borrower could make the first, or perhaps the first two payments on the loan, there was little reason to reject the applicant. Further, as it appeared that housing prices would rise indefinitely, even borrowers who might have been rejected as near term risks could be offered "creative" loan packages, perhaps requiring interest only payments during the initial period of the loan. Alt-A and NINJA (no income, no job, no asset) loans became increasingly popular as mortgage lenders flowed into the business, all planning to make the initial loan and pass the default risk on to someone else who bought the securitized package.

    This scope of this accident waiting to happen was enhanced by the increasing draws that borrowers made on the equity in their homes in order to finance other consumption, whether that is a car, vacation, college, etc. In 2005 net mortgage borrowing for purchases other than houses totaled $600 billion, about 7% of total family disposable income. Refinancing commonly included taking out cash in return for taking on a bigger loan amount ­ after all, houses were worth more so they could securitize more debt. These home equity loans (HELs) were securitized and sold to investors seeking high yield, high rated investments.

    The only problem with this is the old problem of leverage. Housing prices could not rise faster than income indefinitely. When the music stopped, there would be some, actually many, people who were too highly leveraged to continue making payments on their mortgages. With median down payments averaging 2% in 2005 ­ 2006, housing prices did not have to fall very far before leverage destroyed the buyer's original investment. The result, beginning in earnest in 2007, has been a rapid increase in foreclosures with more to come as the number of borrowers behind on their payments also spiraling. Nor is the problem restricted to subprime mortgages. The ability to refinance, take out cash and assume an increased debt burden that would, it was hoped, be covered by subsequent increases in housing prices was attractive not just to subprime borrowers but also to many home buyers who qualified for prime mortgages. An increasing number of these are now finding themselves with an asset, their residence, which is worth less than what they owe. Estimates of the eventual default rate on the almost $1 trillion mortgages securitized are in the 20 ­ 25% range but no one really knows. Leverage works just as efficiently on the downside as it does on the upside ­ it's just scarier.

    Before going on to the last cause of the current crisis it is worth considering briefly who is at risk in the collapse of the subprime mortgage market. Subprime mortgages coincided nicely with the politics of the ownership society, the idea that minorities and lower income people could have an economic stake in political stability and that they would thus be more benefit the Republican Party. Almost all of the net increase in family wealth reported for the bottom 80% of wealth holders during 2001 - 2005 came from increased prices for housing. A large portion of subprime mortgages were made to African-Americans, Hispanics, and single (usually female) parent families. These are the groups now suffering most from the escalating foreclosure levels. Their suffering is not just a current economic problem but has important long-term implications for these groups. For most people, particularly in the bottom half of the income distribution, a house is their primary, often only wealth asset. Thus the foreclosure boom is draining wealth away from a large number of families who had only just begun to acquire it. Estimates of wealth loss from these foreclosures are in the $170 ­ 190 billion range for African-Americans and $75 ­ 100 billion for Hispanics. Although these groups were three times as likely to have subprime mortgages as whites, the evidence strongly suggests that half or more of those granted subprime mortgages actually qualified for prime mortgages but the profitability of the former was greater than the latter.

     

    The Value and Role of the U.S. Dollar One of the reasons for believing that this economic downturn will be more severe and longer lasting than those of the past three decades is the convergence of a domestic credit and housing crisis with some negative (for the U.S.) international tends. In the 1970s the U.S. moved from being an international creditor nation to an international debtor and is now the largest such debtor. This is one of the important differences between today and the 1930s when the U.S. was a major creditor nation, giving FDR greater policy latitude.

    In the early years of the shift to debtor status the primary concern as what an ally, Japan, might someday do with all that debt. Nothing, as it turned out. However, the debt is larger now and the primary holders include nations such as China whose relationship with the U.S. is quite different, today and over the strategic long term, than the Japanese. Further, a major reason for the growing debtor status of the U.S is increased, and increasingly costly, imports of the largest single commodity in world trade: petroleum. During the Bush administration the cost of oil imports more than doubled, rising from $130 billion in 2003 to over $300 billion in 2006.

    And what do we have to offer in return? After all, trade is trade. During the period that the U.S. shifted from being a creditor to a debtor nation, we also shifted from making and exporting "things" to the buying and selling the representation of things, e.g. claims to income streams from assets. Financialization remade the structure of the U.S. political economy as policy makers made a long term bet ­ an implicit industrial policy ­ on the finance sector. As the growing U.S. trade deficit increased the dollar holdings of foreigners, these investors looked for ways to put this money to work. In response we exported securitized debt, primarily asset backed securities (ABS) including their mortgage back security (MBS) and collateralized debt obligation (CDO) components. Government debt was also marketed abroad. As early as mid-2007, the Deutsche Bank estimated that non-US investors held 40% of all MBS, the instrument largely responsible for initiating the crisis. These exports helped spread the negative economic consequences of the current crisis even to small towns in Norway and beyond where, relying on the ratings given to the tranches of ABS by S&P, Fitch and Moody's (the role of the rating agencies in the current debacle deserves considerably more attention than it has received to date) and seeking higher yields on pensions and other investments, portfolio managers around the world purchased these AAA and AA rated securities.

    So now we face a challenge to the dollar as the ultimate reserve currency, this time on two fronts. First, as the value of the dollar has declined, central banks have diversified their reserves, adding Euros and other currencies to their holdings. This gradual shift will probably continue; whether it will reach some kind of tipping point is difficult to predict. It required almost three decades for the dollar to replace the U.K. pound as the preferred reserve currency. What would more directly impact the average U.S. citizen's standard of living is the possibility that petroleum producing nations will shift pricing out of dollars and into either a basket of currencies or a specific currency. The only serious current candidate for the latter is the Euro, but it remains an unlikely event. It is clear that some petroleum exporters, particularly Venezuela and Iran, have priced some of their oil in currencies other than the dollar and the Asian debt market is moving towards pricing in local currencies rather than the dollar.

    All of this is overlaid with the very real possibility that the age of petroleum is much nearer its end than its beginning. If the peak oil argument is valid, our trade deficit will continue to grow and the costs of transporting people and things in a domestic built environment that is based on the gasoline powered car will become prohibitive. The beginnings of doubts about the long-term economic viability of suburban sprawl are another restraint on the possibility of any rapid recovery of housing and the U.S. economy as a whole.

     

    What Can Be Done ­ Thoughts on Policy I have argued that the 2007 domestic economic crisis is not restricted to the financial sector, that it is likely to be more severe than anything we have experienced since WWII and that it coincides with unfavorable international economic trends. But of course, challenges are also opportunities and I think there are real opportunities, as well as risks, for the Left. In this concluding section I will suggest some ideas for policies to address our current economic situation. First, however, two points: we need to emphasize, insist, that the current crisis is systemic, and that piecemeal responses will be inadequate to remedy the situation and that market fundamentalist approaches of the current administration as well as the Republican presidential candidate fall woefully short of what is needed. This is the task of removing the underbrush before building the new structure.

    So what can we suggest? There are both near-term policies that may have long-term consequences, and policies that we can pursue only in the intermediate or longer term.

     

    · Empowering the Working Population: The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). We will only reverse the long-term inegalitarian trend in the U.S. if we make it possible for working people to build institutions that are powerful enough to push a political agenda that can effectively mobilize against policies that will increase inequality, e.g. the privatization of social security, and for egalitarian policies, e. g., removing the income cap on FICA (the social security tax). The EFCA is already endorsed by a majority of congressional Democrats ­ but we need a president that will sign it or a 2/3 majority to pass it over a McCain veto.

     

    · Increase and Index the Minimum Wage. I will not repeat the economic facts about the lag of the minimum wage behind inflation here but I do want to note something that is not usually acknowledged. Opponents of minimum wage increases often claim that the primary beneficiaries would be teenage workers earning extra spending money. Besides the reality that most minimum wage workers are not teenagers, the earnings of teenagers are not simply spending money. For example, when I attended college in the 1960s (at a state university) I was able to pay my own way by working, full time during the summer and part time during the school year, at jobs that paid the minimum or just above the minimum wage. That would not be possible today because of the gap between the growth in college costs and the lag of the minimum wages behind inflation. What should the index be? I am tempted to say congressional salaries but use of the CPI is probably a better political decision.

     

    · Reinstate, Index and Make Progressive the Estate Tax. The Estate Tax, which the Left should insist on labeling the Paris Hilton Tax, will revert back to pre-Bush levels in 2010 if no action is taken by Congress. The complaints against the tax, driven by the financing of a few very wealthy families who seek to found their own dynasties, have made this a tougher issue than it should be. We should tie the proceeds of the tax to the funding of specific programs so that the "who pays / who benefits" equation is clear. This requires some additional thinking and economic modeling of the expected revenue (United for a Fair Economy has done a lot of the latter) but the Paris Hilton tax could fund universal health care or a subsidy to help with college costs. The most important aspect of the tax is, however, that is a tax on wealth, a taxation concept that is worth fighting for.

     

    · Tax Surcharge on Incomes Above $250,000 John McCain may think that middle income is anyone with incomes below $5 million but the reality is that an income of $250,000 or more puts a family in the top 2% of all families. Rather than spend political capital arguing about how to make the existing tax code more progressive, let's just do it the simple way: impose a surcharge on high income recipients. As in the case of the Paris Hilton tax, the revenue generated should be targeted for specific social investments, perhaps in this case in alternative energy technology.

     

    · Develop a Jobs Program. Unemployment is certainly not at 1930s levels and probably will not rise that high; it is, however, a serious and growing problem, particularly when the uncounted unemployed are included. A jobs program should have three foci. First, it should focus on social investment such as schools, roads, bridges, light rail, etc. Second, we should seek to reaffirm the importance of public employment, training and employing people in the health care sector, education, and the recreational environment ­ we have lived off the wonderful work the CCC did in our parks and trials for a long time.

    There also need to be a set of policies that address both the deep problems of the housing sector and the out-of-control financialization of the US economy. For starters we should consider the following.

     

    · Create a New Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC). In this case we can draw directly on the New Deal experience. The HOLC acquired mortgages that were or were about to be in default at a discount to the original value, renegotiated the terms of the mortgage, both the duration (effectively creating the 30-year mortgage we know today) and the interest rate. When the HOLC closed up operations, it had actually turned a small profit for the taxpayers. Two things are important here: first, the HOLC had the power to require that mortgages be placed into this system and second, it was the mortgage lender who absorbed the difference between the original mortgage amount and the payment made by the HOLC to acquire the mortgage. This will not, of course, be welcomed by banks and other mortgage lenders or by MBS investors but if the alternative is default and/or becoming a landlord, this approach is less painful medicine.*

     

    · Empower Bankruptcy Judges to Adjust the Mortgage Terms. At first glance this may sound radical but there has already been congressional legislation drafted to grant this power. It did not get out of committee. There is a precedent: these very same judges now have that power for mortgages on second homes. This policy would bring additional pressure to bear on lenders to seek accommodation with their borrowers.

     

    · Restrict Leverage in the Finance Sector. Leverage, at approximately the 30:1 ratio, is what brought Bear Sterns down, and, as I have argued above, leverage is at the root of many of the problems in the mortgage meltdown. Leverage is also the problem faced by many of the large investment banks such as CitiGroup and Lehman (the latter may be the next victim of the deleveraging that is going on today), and leverage has gotten Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae into their current troubles. Both of these entities own and or guarantee over $2 trillion in mortgages on capital bases of less than $50 billion. The proper maximum ratio can be left to further analysis buy it is probably in the 12 ­ 15:1 range. Will some financial engineers and high flying hedge funds object and threaten to move offshore? Yes, and they shouldn't let the door hit them in the ass on the way out. If you can't turn a reasonable profit at 10 or 15:1 leverage, you should not be in the business.

     

    · Extend Regulatory Control Over All Entities That Can Create Credit and That May Be "Too Big To Fail." This may be the most important of the long-term policies. It was necessary to bail out Bear Sterns. But it was not necessary, in fact it only encourages moral hazard activities among the financial sector, to do so without acquiring the basis for a significant return to taxpayers, perhaps in the form of senior preferred shares issued by J.P. Morgan Chase, the acquiring entity. While this policy seems so obvious that it is amazing there is the need even to suggest it, there has been virtually no recognition of the socialization of economic risk and the privatization of economic reward that underlies the Fed's and Treasury's actions to date. It is time to insist that those who want to dine at the public trough also accept public regulatory control. Further, this regulatory control should not reside in the Fed, both because that entity has enough to do already and because the Fed and its representatives are treated by both Congress and the press as economic oracles whose word is not to be questioned but simply appreciated by us lesser mortals. We need a new agency with the same reforming spirit that drove the early New Deal.

     

    · Implement a Wealth Tax. Almost all of us pay a wealth tax already ­ it is the property tax, paid directly by homeowners and indirectly by renters. The tax targets the asset that constitutes the bulk of total wealth for most Americans. Primary residence is half or more of total net worth for almost all US households ­ up to about the 95th percentile of net worth. Above that level, however, the story changes dramatically; primary residence becomes less and less important in total net worth while financial assets (stocks and bonds) become increasingly important. Among the top 2% of households by net worth, primary residence drops to 5% or less of total wealth. If we added a broad wealth tax, say a 0.5% levy on only the top 1% of wealth households, we would generate $50 ­ 75 billion annually. Again the revenues should be targeted so that the "who pays / who benefits" equation is clear.

     

    Conclusion The reference to the New Deal was deliberate. To date in the presidential campaign the economic crisis into which we are entering has received little attention. At the Republican Convention neither Joe Lieberman nor Sarah Palin mentioned the economy in their speeches and McCain barely touched on it. I think, however, that will change over the remainder of the campaign. Whether it will change enough to insure John McCain's defeat I am not sure. But, with respect to Obama, it is useful to remember that FDR did not walk into the White Hose in 1933 with a program that resembled what we came to know as the New Deal but only with a commitment to help his fellow citizens. In fact, had he spelled out something that looked like the New Deal during the campaign, he might well not have been elected ­ and that was when the GDP had dropped by more than 10% and the unemployment rate was over 20%. It was the commitment to bettering the lives of other that drove what came next and in this campaign that is probably the best we can expect.

     

    * 09.08.2008 Postscript: As I write, the federal government is implementing the take over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with the stated intention of reassuring the financial markets, encouraging mortgage lending to continue access by new home buyers ad taking less risk. Whether all of this can be accomplished plus the additional goal of shrinking these two entities beginning in 2010 remains to be seen. This action is a halfway house, a compromise between those who oppose any government-sponsored enterprise and those whose primary concern is stabilizing the economy and the housing market.


    A Living Wage in Oak Park

    by Tom Broderick

    In Oak Park, Illinois, the Greater Oak Park branch of Chicago DSA initiated a campaign to have an ordinance adopted by the Oak Park Village Board. We produced a fairly straightforward ordinance, we provided documentation on what a living wage would be in Oak Park and we lobbied Village Board members.

    The Oak Park Village Board is composed of six Trustees and a President. A simple majority is all that is needed to pass an ordinance. After selective lobbying, we had five supporters. Yet not one Trustee would introduce the ordinance. They knew there were five Trustees on board, yet inaction ruled the day.

    In April of this year, Comrade Rhon Baiman went to the Annual Town Meeting of Oak Park Township and moved to have an advisory question of public policy placed on the November township ballot.

    It reads: Shall the Village of Oak Park enact a "Living Wage" ordinance stipulating that: a) Village employees, b) employees of contractors or subcontractors performing work for the Village, and c) employees of businesses that receive a significant financial subsidy from the Village, receive a living wage indexed to inflation that would include health benefits and paid time off.

    It passed.

    Times are financially tough in Oak Park, as they are everywhere. We suffer from too much emphasis on homeowner property taxes and from TIF areas. There is a budget deficit that needs to be addressed. There is talk of layoffs. Hiring has been frozen. What cannot happen is that the Village Government replaces living wage jobs with either employees or subcontracted workers earning less than a living wage.

    Many of the Oak Park residents I have personally contacted support this ordinance, so we will continue to work for passage of a living wage ordinance. We will use referendum as outreach, as education, and as a lobbying tool. We will need to show the same determination as the members of UNITE~HERE! Local 1 , in their five year struggle for respect and dignity.


    Other News

    compiled by Bob Roman

     

    Progressive Politics

    Bill Fletcher, Jr., will be the featured speaker in a panel discussion titled "The Labor Movement and Progressive Politics in the Post-Bush Era." Co-sponsored by Chicago DSA and In These Times, the panel will also include David Moberg, Senior Editor of In These Times and Richard Berg, President of Teamsters Local 743. Kim Bobo, Executive Director of Interfaith Workers Justice, will serve as the moderator.

    The panel will be held at Wednesday evening, 7:30 PM, October 1st at the UE Hall, 37 S. Ashland, 1st Floor, in Chicago. It is being held in conjunction with the publication of a new book co-authored by Bill Fletcher and Fernando Gapasin titled Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path Toward Social Justice.

     

    Reverend Don Benedict

    Reverend Don Benedict died on Thursday, September 4, after having suffered a cerebral hemorrhage that Saturday. Don Benedict was a long time, sometimes DSA member. He had been the director of the Community Renewal Society for nearly a quarter century starting in 1980. And, more recently, he was a founder of Protestants for the Common Good . He was 91 years old. See http://blogs.chicagoreader.com/politics/2008/09/05/rip-don-benedict/ and http://preaprez.wordpress.com/2008/09/08/don-benedict-chicago-activist-dies-at-90/ for some local reactions.

     

    Radical Feasts

    The Eugene V. Debs Foundation will be honoring Cecil Roberts, President of the United Mine Workers of America, at their annual banquet. The event will be held on Saturday, October 4. Tickets are $35 each and may be obtained from the Debs Foundation, PO Box 843, Terre Haute, IN 47808. For more information, contact Charles King at 812.237.3443 or cking6@isugw.indstate.edu .

    The 23rd Annual Mother Jones Dinner will be held on Sunday, October 12, at the University of Illinois at Springfield's Public Affairs Center. This year's program is "FDR Meets Anne Feeney," featuring celebrated singer-songwriter Anne Feeney (as herself) and actor R. J. Lindsey as Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The evening begins with a 5 PM social hour, 6 PM dinner, and the program begins at 7 PM. Tickets are $25 each and may be obtained from the Mother Jones Foundation, PO Box 20412, Springfield, IL 62708 - 0412. For more information, contact Jack Dyer at 217.787.3043 or Terry Reed at 217.789.6495.

     

    Concert for Peace

    Unity Temple, 875 Lake Street in Oak Park, will present "Concert for Peace" on Saturday, October 11th at 7:30 PM. Featured performers include John Hasbrouck playing blues and American roots music on guitar; the stories of folk-rock singer/songwriter Natural Bob Holdsworth; a community sing-along of folk songs led by Guitars for Peace; and the rock'n'roll sounds of Jack and the Rippers. Doors open at 7 PM, concert begins at 7:30 PM. Donations are $10, $5 student, $25 family. Tickets are available at the door, or in advance from Brown Paper Tickets at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/41070 or by calling 800.838.3006. Proceeds will be donated to local peace groups. For more information, call 708.848.3015.


    New Ground #120.1

    09.25.2008

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    The Labor Movement and Progressive Politics in the Post-Bush Era
    Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner
    Democratic Left
    For a Sustainable World Society
    International Union of Socialist Youth

    1. Politics

    Congress Hotel
    Coalition of Immokalee Workers & Whole Foods
    School Funding
    Make a Noise
    The State of Working America

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Financial Crisis: Thinking About the Real Socialist Way Out

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

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

    DSA News

    The Labor Movement and Progressive Politics in the Post-Bush Era
    Wednesday, October 1, 7:30 PM at UE Hall, 37 S. Ashland, Chicago, featuring Bill Fletcher, Jr.; Richard Berg, David Moberg, and Kim Bobo who will moderate. See:
    http://www.chicagodsa.org/sd.pdf

    Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner
    We're starting to do the planning for the 2009 Dinner with a meeting on Tuesday evening, October 7, 7 PM at the Chicago DSA office, 1608 N. Milwaukee Room 403 in Chicago. This would be a good place to start if you want to be involved, even on a limited basis, or if you have some ideas you want to share. If you can't attend this meeting, email the office or call 773.384.0327 to let us know you'd like to be involved.

    Democratic Left
    The Summer, 2008, issue of Democratic Left is posted on the web. This issue contains reports on the YDS summer conference, the Socialist International's recent Congress in Athens, and DSA's statement on the 2008 Presidential Election. See:
    http://www.dsausa.org/dl/Summer_2008.pdf

    For a Sustainable World Society
    The Socialist International's Commission for a Sustainable World Society met in Stockholm on September 5 and 6 to discuss climate change and the ecological dimensions of economic development. For a report, see:
    http://www.socialistinternational.org/viewArticle.cfm?ArticleID=1947

    International Union of Socialist Youth
    The international organization of youth affiliates to the Socialist International has a new web address:
    http://www.iusy.info/

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

    Politics

    Congress Hotel
    The National Association of Convenience Stores annual meeting is a big deal because, after all, there are a lot of them. Like most parts of the economy, it's top heavy with some large players but it also includes a sizable (numbers not dollars) constituency of "mom & pop" operations, plus all those folks eager to sell to them. The main event is at McCormick Place, but blocks of rooms are booked all over Chicago, including at the Congress Hotel. Local 1 and friends have been calling the Association, its Board of Directors, and exhibitors at the show. Some of the exhibitors booked at the Congress have agreed to relocate, but the Association is still booking folks at the Congress. Your assistance is needed. Join the striking Congress Hotel workers, Local 1 members, and friends on the picket line Saturday, October 4, 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM, 520 S. Michigan Av in Chicago.

    A reminder for Chicago DSA members and friends, our turn on the picket line is Saturday, September 27, 9 AM to 11 AM. See you there!

    Coalition of Immokalee Workers & Whole Foods
    On September 9, Whole Foods signed an agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to support the additional penny per pound program already agreed to by McDonalds, Burger King, and Yum Brands. Whole Foods is the first grocery store chain to participate in this program. The Florida Tomato Growers Exchange is still sulking in its corner, but Senator Sanders is planning additional hearings on the matter. For more information, see:
    http://www.ciw-online.org/WF_CIW_press_release.html

    School Funding
    The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability has issued a new report on school funding: Money Matters. "Complete with almost 30 charts and graphs, Money Matters focuses not just on the very top versus the very bottom, but rather the differentials between the wealthiest school districts in Illinois versus the vast majority of districts that provide public education to over three-quarters of the children in our state. The data reveals meaningful differences in school funding, teacher quality and academic performance that are truly statewide.  the report also analyzes schools in new and different ways such as comparing quality in schools north and south of Interstate 80." See:
    http://www.ctbaonline.org/

    Make a Noise
    October 11 is the 6th anniversary of the date Congress gave President Bush a blank check to invade Iraq. We're still there. The Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism has put together an ad hoc coalition to sponsor a demonstration to mark the occasion with a demonstration. It will demand bringing ALL the troops home now, legalization of the undocumented and the end of raids and deportations, and the funding of human needs not Wall Street bailouts. Chicago DSA has endorsed the demonstration. It will be Saturday, October 11, 2 PM, at the corner of Devon Avenue and Leavitt Street (2200 W. Devon).

    Make More Noise
    If you're upset at how easy it's been to get Congress to seriously consider handing over $700,000,000,000 to Wall Street when hypothetical deficits in Social Security and the prospect of spending a few billion for health care, education etc gets rejected as impossibly expensive, the AFL-CIO has an email you can send to your representative and senators: "no blank check for Bush - Paulson - Bernanke". And you can customize it, too. See:
    http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/noblankcheck

    The State of Working America
    The Economic Policy Institute has released its 11th biennial "State of Working America" report. This 11th edition shows that the business cycle that started in 2001 will be one for the record books. In fact, for the first time on record, middle-class families are at the end of a recovery without ever having regained the ground they lost during the previous recession. Gross domestic product and historically high productivity growth should have raised paychecks up and down the income ladder, but instead the benefits of that growth have bypassed most of the people who made it possible. See:
    http://www.stateofworkingamerica.org/

     

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

    Democratic Socialism

    Financial Crisis: Thinking About the Real Socialist Way Out
    DSA member David Schweickart looks at how the current economic crisis offers opportunities for economic democracy:
    http://progressivesforobama.net/2008/09/25/thinking-about-the-real-socialist-way-out/

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

    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.

    Saturday, September 27, 9 AM to 11 AM
    Congress Hotel Strike Picket
    Congress Hotel, 520 S. Michigan, Chicago
    Join Chicago DSA members for a turn on the picket line.

    Saturday, September 27, 3 PM
    "The 11th Hour"
    Riverside Public Library, 1 Burling Rd, Riverside
    Near West Citizens for Peace and Justice screen the ecological documentary by Leonardo DiCaprio.

    Saturday, September 27, 8 PM
    10th Annual Matthew Shepard March for LGBT Rights
    3402 N. Halstead, Chicago
    A brief rally at the address above followed by a march through the community. See http://www.GayLiberation.net/home.html

    Sunday, September 28, 2 PM
    "At the Death House Door"
    Oak Park Public Library Veteran's Room, 834 Lake St, Oak Park
    Screening of the death penalty documentary followed by a panel discussion featuring filmmaker Steven James, reporter Maurice Posseley, and abolitionist Tom Broderick. See http://www.opctj.org/

    Wednesday, October 1, 7:30 PM
    The Labor Movement and Progressive Politics in the Post-Bush Era
    UE Hall, 37 S. Ashland, Chicago
    A panel discussion featuring Bill Fletcher, Jr., Richard Berg, David Moberg, and Kim Bobo, who will moderate. Co-sponsored by In These Times and Chicago DSA. See http://www.chicagodsa.org/sd.pdf

    Saturday, October 4, 8:30 AM to 10:30 AM
    Congress Hotel Strike Picket
    Congress Hotel, 520 S. Michigan, Chicago
    Protest the National Association of Convenience Stores' use of the Congress Hotel despite repeated requests that they not book rooms at this on strike venue.

    Monday, October 6, 6:45 PM
    "Maxed Out"
    Lincoln Park Public Library, 1150 W. Fullerton, Chicago
    A showing of James Scurlock's documentary on the credit card industry. An Open University of the Left event.

    Tuesday, October 7, 2:15 PM to 3:30 PM
    Now is the Time: Activism for Social Change
    Dominican University Lund Auditorium, 7900 W. Division St, River Forest
    A talk by Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers and DSA Honorary Chair. For more information, contact Christina Perez, 708.524.6693.

    Tuesday, October 7, 7 PM
    Debs Dinner Committee
    Chicago DSA Office, 1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403, Chicago
    First meeting to plan the 2009 Dinner. For information, call 773.384.0327.

    Saturday, October 11, 2 PM
    Bring ALL the Troops Home Now
    2200 W. Devon, Chicago
    Protest the 6th anniversary of Congress' war authorization.

    Saturday, October 11, 7:PM
    Concert for Peace
    Unity Temple, 875 Lake St, Oak Park
    Featuring John Hasbrouck, Bob Holdsworth, Guitars for Peace, and Jack and the Rippers. Tickets are $10, $5 for students, $25 for families, available at the door or by calling 800.838.3006. Proceeds will be donated to local peace groups. For information, call 708.l848.3015.

    Tuesday, October 14, 7 PM
    Chicago DSA Executive Committee Meeting
    CDSA Office, 1608 N. Milwaukee Room 403, Chicago
    All DSA members are welcome!


    New Ground #120.2

    10.17.2008

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Meetings
    Fall 2008 "Red Letter"
    Socialist International on the Global Financial Crisis
    Douglass-Debs Dinner

    1. Politics

    Obama Socialist
    Ayers and Social Justice Education
    Understanding the White Vote
    Congress Hotel Boycott
    October 11 Anti-War Rally
    Rating Congress
    IVAW Members Arrested

    2. Democratic Socialism

    The Communist Manifesto Hits 160
    October Is National Coop Month

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

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

    DSA News

    Meetings
    Saturday, October 25, 1 PM-
    Debs Dinner Committee meeting at the Chicago DSA office, 1608 N. Milwaukee Room 403 in Chicago. All DSA members welcome. For information, call 773.384.0327.

    Sunday, October 26, 5 PM- Greater Oak Park DSA membership meeting at the home of Tom Broderick, 201 S. Ridgeland, Oak Park. Bill Barclay's article on the financial crisis will be the focus of discussion. Food. For information, call 708.386.6007.

    Fall 2008 "Red Letter"
    The Fall, 2008, issue of YDS' national newsletter, Red Letter, has been posted to the web:
    http://www.ydsusa.org/news/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/fall2008redletterdd.pdf


    Socialist International on the Global Financial Crisis
    This is not an era of change but instead a change of an era, and financial, economic, social and environmental concerns have to be integrated in a progressive political roadmap which should put people first. More:
    http://www.socialistinternational.org/viewArticle.cfm?ArticlePageID=1303

    Douglass-Debs Dinner
    At this year's Frederick Douglass-Eugene V. Debs Dinner, Detroit DSA will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the merger of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC) with the New American Movement to form Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). The dinner will be held at UAW Local 600 at 6 PM on Saturday, November 8th. This year we are honoring David and Judy Bonior and Judge Claudia Morcum (the first African American woman to practice law in an integrated law firm in Michigan and a former delegate to the United Nations Council on Human Rights). Tickets will be $40, Detroit DSA, c/o David Green, 28292 Harwich St, Farmington Hills, MI 48334. See:
    http://kincaidsite.com/dsa/newsletter.html

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

    Politics

    Obama Socialist
    by Bob Roman
    Some months ago, Chicago's
    In These Times predicted the "red-boating" of Obama. DSA, along with ACORN, the New Party, and Bill Ayers are now being held up as hate or fear objects for those who might need an excuse, at least, to not vote for Obama. The DSA side of this campaign has been conducted largely on the web, and the authors of these sometimes scrupulous but often scurrilous postings have usually provided links to the Chicago DSA web site. It's been great for traffic.

    Thus this article is for those visitors curious enough to actually visit our site in search of confirmation of various assertions, also for those visiting via a web search using Obama and Socialist. It is good that you're here because some of what is being written is downright wrong.

    Here's the skivvy: The New Party was not established by DSA, nor was it established to be a vehicle for socialism in America. In Chicago, the New Party was largely started by ACORN. While the New Party welcomed support from groups like DSA, the New Party's concern was politics, the political economy of working people and the poor, not ideology and for this, bringing home the bacon is what counts. Not talk. Not ideas. This makes the accounts posted (for example) at
    http://rightwingnuthouse.com/archives/2008/05/30/obamas-radical-political-alliances/ or
    http://towncriernews.blogspot.com/2008/10/confirmed-obama-won-state-senate-seat.html or
    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/p-j-gladnick/2008/10/08/will-msm-report-obama-membership-socialist-new-party or
    http://noquarterusa.net/blog/2008/10/07/obama-is-hiding-a-radical-past/
    either garbled or deliberately deceptive.

    Chicago DSA did indeed endorse Obama for the State Senate, but he most certainly did not seek our endorsement. As for Obama using the New Party and the Chicago DSA endorsements, possibly, but note that he had no opposition in either the primary election or in the general election. He basically did not have a campaign in 1996. One might fairly ask which party was the real beneficiary?

    Did Obama attend a half dozen or more DSA meetings? The only Chicago DSA meeting Obama attended was the 1996 Townhall Meeting documented at http://www.chicagodsa.org/ng45.html, and that meeting was co-sponsored by the University of Chicago University Democrats. The only way one can count more than one meeting is by counting every Obama meeting, no matter the sponsor no matter the venue, mentioned in New Ground. The only way these could be credible as "DSA" meetings is if you believe that anyone labeled "socialist" is an amoral, unpatriotic, conniving animal; therefore descriptions of the meetings as anything but covert DSA meetings is a lie. If you believe that, why are you reading this?

    So is Obama a socialist? First you'd better tell me what you mean by "socialist". I'm not being cute. There are people who would hysterically laugh at DSA being legitimately considered a "socialist" organization, never mind Obama. So what is socialism to you? Judging by the comments posted on some of these blogs, socialism is anything involving the government that the commentator doesn't like. By this standard, I suppose he is.

    Another way to consider it would be if Obama self-identifies as a "socialist" or "social democrat", just as DSA members do. Well, go ahead. Ask him. And if he says, "Yes," please let me know. Because in that case, he owes us for dues.

    And of course, if you think that democracy, civil rights and civil liberties trump property rights; if you think that fair trade is a better deal for most of us than free trade; if you think that in a country as rich as ours education and medical care should be available regardless of one's ability to pay; if you think that workers should have the right to organize and bargain collectively well, then, it doesn't matter what you call yourself. You'll be called a socialist, too.

    Isn't it time you joined us?

    Ayers and Social Justice Education
    "If you want to peer into the world of right-wing school reformers, Sol Stern would be a good guide. For almost a decade, this Manhattan Institute senior fellow has contributed articles about education reform to City Journal, the neoconservative urban policy magazine funded by the same free-market think tank. And for the past three years, Stern has made it his intellectual crusade to discredit a teaching pedagogy about which he seemingly understands very little." More:
    http://progressillinois.com/2008/10/16/ayers-social-justice-ed


    Understanding the White Vote
    by Jack Metzgar
    In the nine presidential elections since 1972, white folks have voted for Republicans over Democrats 59 to 39 percent on average. Democrats have done better among white voters in the last three elections, but have still been losing by an average of 53 to 42 percent. Constituting nearly four-fifths of all voters, white Americans, hard working and not, are the base of the Republican Party. Worse, given historical expectations, the white working class votes slightly more Republican than middle-class whites. Even if Democrats can dramatically increase the minority vote (black, Latino, and Asian), where Dems get large majorities, they still probably need to get upwards of 45 percent of the white vote to win a presidential election.
    More: http://talkingunion.wordpress.com/2008/10/15/understanding-the-white-vote/#more-1178

    Congress Hotel Boycott Video
    UNITE HERE Local 1 has been producing videos about the 5 year strike against the Congress Hotel. The latest (and you can browse earlier ones as well, including Obama and Edwards on the picket line) can be seen at:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rD5e0e-9kMM

    October 11 Anti-War Rally
    by Bob Roman
    This was a small affair. It drew somewhere between 200 to 500 people, an interesting collection of a few varieties of Stalinists and Maoists, several flavors of Trotskyists, Greens (including candidates working the crowd), a few socialists and social democrats, even a few liberals, not to mention some neighborhood folks from the Pakistani community. I make it sound marginal, don't I? It was. But for those of us who felt the need to make a noise on the shameful anniversary of Congress' authorization of the war, it was a necessary event. The good news is that there was plenty of coverage by news media given the size of the event. And while not too many people from the neighborhood joined in, they were almost universally very happy to see someone (if not themselves) protesting the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. It was also an absolutely lovely afternoon for a march. See a 9 minute Labor Beat production here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yM3VwdZquos&fmt=6

    Rating Congress
    The Drum Major Institute (an absurd name for a policy shop but a story goes with it) has put together a menu of legislation of importance to the "middle class" that Congress considered this session, and of course they ranked each Representative and Senator according to their votes. For Illinois, see:
    http://www.themiddleclass.org/state/IL
    For more information about the Drum Major Institute, see:
    http://www.drummajorinstitute.org/

    IVAW Members Arrested
    One hour before the final presidential debate of the 2008 campaign, fourteen members of Iraq Veterans Against the War marched in formation to Hofstra University to present questions for the candidates concerning the occupation of Iraq and the treatment of returning veterans. IVAW had requested permission from debate moderator Bob Schieffer to ask their questions during the debate but got no response.

    The contingent of veterans in dress uniforms and combat uniforms attempted to enter the building where the debate was to be held in order to ask their questions but were turned back by police. The ten IVAW members at the front of the formation were immediately arrested, and others were pushed back into the crowd by police on horseback. Several members were injured, including former Army Sergeant Nick Morgan who suffered a broken cheekbone when he was trampled by police horses before being arrested.

    "Neither of the candidates has shown real support for service members and veterans. We came here to try and have serious questions answered, questions that we as veterans of the Iraq war have a right to ask, but instead we were arrested. We will continue to ask these questions no matter who is elected. We believe that the time has come to end this war and bring our troops home" said Jason Lemieux, a former Sergeant in the US Marine Corps who served three tours in Iraq, and member of IVAW.

    The ten IVAW members who were arrested will be arraigned on November 10, and we will be building support for them in the coming weeks. Former Army sergeant Nick Morgan is currently seeking additional medical help and recovering from his head injury. Please consider making a donation today to IVAW's legal defense fund, or specifically for Nick Morgan's medical bills. Please make a donation to IVAW today.
    https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?aid=11951
    For more information, see http://www,ivaw.org/

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

    Democratic Socialism

    The Communist Manifesto Hits 160
    by Barbara Ehrenreich
    This year marks the 160th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto and capitalism, aka "free enterprise," seems willing to observe the occasion by dropping dead. On Monday night, some pundits were warning that the ATMs might run dry and hinting that the only safe investment left is canned beans. Apocalypse or extortion? No one seems to know, though the populist part of the populace has been leaning toward the latter. An email whipping around the web this morning has the subject line "Sign on Wall St. yesterday," and shows a hand-lettered cardboard sign saying, "JUMP! You Fuckers!" More:
    http://ehrenreich.blogs.com/barbaras_blog/2008/10/the-communist-manifesto-hits-160.html

    October Is National Co-Op Month
    See http://www.go.coop/
    also see
    http://www.geo.coop/

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

    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 and Saturday, October 18 and 19, 2 PM to Midnight
    Progressive Film Festival
    College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd in SRC 2800, Glen Ellyn
    For a complete schedule, go to: http://www.d-a-w-n.org/images/ProgressiveFilm.pdf

    Wednesday, October 22, 5 PM
    National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation
    Federal Plaza, Adams & Dearborn, Chicago
    Call 773.932.3562 or go to http://www.october22.org

    Thursday, October 23, 9:30 AM
    James Connolly
    Union Park, Warren Blvd & Ashland Av, Chicago
    The Irish-American Labor Council dedicates a statue to the Irish revolutionary and socialist James Connolly.

    Thursday, October 23, 5:30 PM
    2008 Cunningham-Carey Award
    The Wine Cellar at Maggiano's, 516 N. Clark St, Chicago
    The Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty honors Judge Sheila Murphy (retired). For more information, see http://www.icadp.org/

    Thursday, October 23, 7 PM
    Intergenerational Dialog on Black Arts Movement
    South Side Community Art Center, 3831 S. Michigan, Chicago
    Featuring Bob Crawford, photographer, and Margo Crawford, Professor at UofMA. For more information, see http://areachicago.org/ and http://www.looks-like-freedom.com

    Friday, October 24, 7 PM to 9 PM
    Welcome Reception for the Alternative Press Center
    In These Times, 2040 N. Milwaukee, 2nd Floor, Chicago
    On the occasion of the APC's move to Chicago. See http://www.altpress.org and http://areachicago.org

    Saturday, October 25, 2 PM to 4:30 PM
    Stand-Up to AIPAC Public Forum
    UIC Student Center - Room 605, 750 S. Halsted, Chicago
    Featuring former Senator James Abourezk and Allison Weir. See:
    http://chicago.indymedia.org/newswire/display/84202/index.php

    Monday, October 27, 11 AM - Noon
    Stand-Up to AIPAC Rally and March
    Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph, Chicago
    March to the Sheraton Hotel following the rally. See:
    http://chicago.indymedia.org/newswire/display/84218/index.php


    New Ground #120.3

    10.30.2008

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Meetings
    The Labor Movement and Progressive Politics in the Post-Bush Era
    Democratic Left

    1. Politics

    The West Is Red
    Paint McCain a Red-Baiter
    Terrorizing Dissent
    For Labor, Armageddon
    Victory at Smithfield
    United for Peace and Justice
    Tax Increment Financing

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Who Was Norman Thomas?

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

     

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

    DSA News

    Meetings
    Dinner Committee Meeting - Saturday, November 8, 1 PM at the Chicago DSA office, 1608 N. Milwaukee Rm 403, Chicago
    Executive Committee Meeting - Tuesday, November 11, 7 PM at the Chicago DSA office, 1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403, Chicago

    The Labor Movement and Progressive Politics in the Post-Bush Era
    For those of you living in Chicago with cable TV, the Chicago DSA / In These Times forum last October 1st featuring Bill Fletcher, Jr., Richard Berg, and Kim Bobo will be broadcast on CANTV, Chicago's public access network. Showtimes are:

    • Sunday, November 9, 1 PM, Channel 21
    • Thursday, November 13, 8:30 AM, Channel 19
    • Sunday, November 30, 5 PM, Channel 19
    • Monday, December 1, Noon, Channel 19

    We're hoping to have the program posted to the web. When that happens, we'll pass along the address.

    For more information, see http://www.cantv.org/

    Democratic Left
    The Fall, 2008, issue of Democratic Left is on the web. Featuring articles by Bill Barclay, Frances Fox Piven, Bogden Denitch, Elaine Bernard, and Paul Garver, you can view or download this issue at:
    http://www.dsausa.org/dl/Fall_2008.pdf

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

    Politics

    The West Is Red
    Ian Williams in The Guardian points out that while rebuking 'European style socialism' John McCain neglects to mention that Europeans enjoy a higher quality of life:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2008/oct/27/tax-obama-mccain-socialism

    Paint McCain a Red-Baiter
    by Leo Gerard
    In a perverse way, the media painted Republicans perfectly when it selected red for their states.

    Reporters would never have guessed when they did it that the red party's candidate would engage in red-baiting. But there was John McCain repeatedly doing it in the debate Wednesday night, trying to convert Barack Obama into a terrifying "spread-the-wealth-around" commie. And earlier this month, the Republican's brother, Joe "McCarthy" McCain, called two Democratic-leaning Virginia counties "Communist Country." More:
    http://blog.usw.org/2008/10/17/paint-mccain-a-red-baiter/

    Terrorizing Dissent
    Glass Bead Collective, Twin Cities Indymedia, and other independent media activists have released a new film, 'Terrorizing Dissent', an exposé of events at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Featuring first-person accounts and footage from more than forty cameras on the streets, 'Terrorizing Dissent' focuses on the story of dissent suppressed. People charged with "conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism" speak out against the government's campaign to manipulate media coverage and label civil disobedience and community organizing as terrorism. The full movie, available for viewing on line, and other information is available at:
    http://www.terrorizingdissent.org/

    For Labor, Armageddon
    In the latest issue of Dissent, Harold Meyerson examines just what is at stake in the November elections for the Labor Movement. See:
    http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/?article=1298

    Victory at Smithfield
    The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and Smithfield have reached an armistice of sorts. In return for the union dropping its publicity campaign, Smithfield is allowing a representation election, will drop its racketeering law suit against the union (Smithfield's reply to the publicity campaign), and will be participating in a "Feed the Hungry" campaign. The settlement, being part of the lawsuit, places both parites under a gag order. There is speculation that the prospect of an Obama victory and a more union sympathetic NLRB played a role in encouraging this agreement. See:
    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/S/SLAUGHTERHOUSE_UNION?SITE=KTVB&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT
    and
    http://unionreview.com/workers-win-smithfield%21
    and
    http://www.ufcw.org/press_room/index.cfm?pressReleaseID=406

    United for Peace and Justice
    United for Peace and Justice will be holding its 4th National Assembly in Chicago on December 12 through 14. For more information, go to:
    http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?id=3952

    Tax Increment Financing
    The City of Chicago will be running a deficit of over $460,000,000. To fill this hole, the City is contemplating over a thousand layoffs, unpaid days off, reduced services, and increased taxes. Guess how much revenue is diverted into the City's Tax Increment Financing Districts? In 2007, it was $555,310,568. To be fair, not all of this would have gone to the City. Some would have gone to Chicago schools. Some would have gone to the Park District. Some would have gone to all the other taxing bodies that get a share of property tax revenues. This and other information about TIF districts is available from the Cook County Clerk's office in the annual "Taxpayers' TIF Revenue Summary". See:
    http://www.cookctyclerk.com/sub/TIF.asp
    and
    http://www.cookctyclerk.com/pdf/2007%20Executive%20Summary.pdf

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

    Democratic Socialism

    Who Was Norman Thomas?
    "A student at Norman Thomas High School discovers that few of his classmates can identify the namesake of their school. The one teacher who has some idea who Thomas was gets a good many of his facts wrong." See:
    http://theredspecial.blogspot.com/2008/02/who-was-norman-thomas.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.

    Saturday, November 1, 2 PM to 4 PM
    The State of Race
    AFC World Outreach Center, 7859 S. Ashland, Chicago
    Tim Wise speaks to The United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations.

    Monday, November 3, 6 PM to 7:30 PM
    26 Years of Justice Denied
    Loyola University Kasbeer Hall, 25 E. Pearson 15th Floor, Chicago
    Panel discussion on the ethics of attorney - client privilege in the wrongful conviction of Alton Logan. Sponsored by the Loyola Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and Loyola BLSA.

    Tuesday, November 4
    Election Day!

    Tuesday, November 4, 4 PM to 8 PM
    Special Congress Hotel Picket
    Congress Hotel, 520 S. Michigan, Chicago
    Join the striking workers at the Congress Hotel for a special picket line directed at attendees at the Obama election rally.

    Thursday, November 6, 6:45 PM
    Good Work, Lousy Jobs
    Lincoln Park Public Library, 1150 W. Fullerton, Chicago
    Labor scholar and activist Joe Berry examines the growth of part-time, contingent and contract labor systems in academia and other service sectors. An Open University of the Left event.

    Friday, November 7, 6:30 PM
    "An Anthology of Respect"
    Teamsters Local 705 Hall, Van Buren just west of Ashland, Chicago
    Lyn Hughes will speak about her new book, Anthology of Respect: the Pullman Porters. Refreshments, beer, wine and food: $12 admission, students free.

    Saturday and Sunday, November 8 and 9
    Wob Fest
    UE Hall, 37 S. Ashland, Chicago
    Conference and party by the Industrial Workers of the World. Registration is $10. See http://chicago.indymedia.org/usermedia/application/1/iww3.pdf

    Saturday and Sunday, November 8 and 9
    Campaign to End the Death Penalty Annual Convention
    University of Chicago Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St, Chicago
    For more information, see http://nodeathpenalty.org/content/page.php?cat_id=3&content_id=44

    Saturday, November 8, 5:30 PM
    Protest James Dobson
    Renaissance Chicago Hotel, State & Wacker, Chicago
    Gay Liberation Network invites you to protest Focus on the Family's James Dobson's induction into the Museum of Broadcast Communications into its Hall of Fame. For more information: http://www.gayliberation.net/home.html

    Tuesday, November 25, 9 AM to 3:30 PM
    Campaign for Better Health Care Annual Meeting
    Holiday Inn Mart Plaza, 350 N. Orleans, Chicago
    $60 includes lunch. For more information, go to http://www.cbhconline.org

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

    PLEASE FORWARD TO THOSE YOU THINK WOULD BE INTERESTED.

    "New Ground" is published by

    Chicago Democratic Socialists of America
    1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403
    Chicago, IL 60647
    773.384.0327

    Only articles specifically labeled as representing the views of the organization do so. Subscriptions to the bimonthly print edition are available at $10 for 6 issues. Send a check or money order made payable to "CDSA" to the address above. "New Ground" is also available on line at http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngarchive, but your financial support is much appreciated.

    To add yourself to the "New Ground" distribution list
    click here: ng@chicagodsa.org?subject=Add

    To remove yourself from the "New Ground" distribution list
    click here: ng@chicagodsa.org?subject=Off

    To send a comment about or to suggest a link for "New Ground"
    click here: ng@chicagodsa.org?subject=Comment

    Or if none of those work with your mail program, simply send an email to ng@chicagodsa.org and tell us what to do.

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

     Add yourself to the Chicago DSA mailing list (snail mail and email).

     Back to top.

    Privacy policy.