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 124

May - June, 2009

Contents

  • Working Together for Justice by Bob Roman
  • The Economics of a Living Wage by Bill Barclay
  • Leon Despres: 1908 - 2009 by Bob Roman
  • May Day in Chicago by Tom Broderick
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • Against Widening the War
    Chicago DSA Meetings
    April Elections
    Anniversary of Infamy
    New New Deal: Making It Happen

    New Ground 124.1 - 05.30.2009

    0. DSA News

    Chicago DSA Membership Convention
    The Case for Public Universal Health Care

    1. Politics

    The Only Road Out
    Anniversary of Infamy
    Illegal Aliens? What About Illegal Corporations?
    Hyde Park Rebels: Leon Despres and Sam Ackerman
    A Small Comment on a Big Con

    2. Democratic Socialism

    No Marx Without Engels

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 124.2 - 06.16.2009

    0. DSA News

    51st Annual Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner
    Annual Membership Convention

    1. Politics

    Immokalee Update
    Wal-Mart Again
    A New New Deal: What Would It Look Like?
    Too Poor to Make the News

    2. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 124.3 - 07.01.2009

    0. DSA News

    On the Struggle for Universal Health Care
    DSA Statement on the Israeli - Palestinian Conflict and Winning Peace with Justice in the Middle East

    1. Politics

    Support "Single-Payer" Health Insurance
    Shock and Audit
    Economic Piracy: It's Not Just the Coast of Somalia
    Coalition of Immokalee Workers v Chipotle
    Wells Fargo Is a Roadblock to Recovery
    Mexican Elections

    2. People

    Perry Cartwright

    3. Democratic Socialism

    Fire the Boss
    Adam Smith and Karl Marx
    Michael Harrington: Warrior on Poverty
    Is the New Deal Socialism?
    Why I Am a Socialist

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest


    Working Together for Justice

    by Bob Roman

    "Working Together for Justice" was the theme of the 51st Annual Eugene V. Debs Norman Thomas Michael Harrington Dinner. In keeping with the tradition of these events, it brought together a broad cross-section of Chicago's left to honor two individuals, Timuel Black and Jane Ramsey, who have spent their lives working for social justice and building coalitions as a means of doing so. The Dinner was held on Friday evening, May 1st, the international Workers' Day, at the Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro hotel in Chicago's Greektown.

    The Dinner Committee had been talking about Timuel Black for the past several years. Apart from being a member of DSA, he's an interesting person, having been involved, one way or another, in what seems like every other fight for justice in Chicago for the past 70 years or so. Often enough these were not particularly public roles, such as when he organized Chicago's participation in the 1963 March on Washington: some 3000 people on two "Freedom Trains". Though sometimes they were specifically public, as when he ran for alderman against Claude Holman. The cumulative effect is that if you are on the left in Chicago and involved in politics in any serious way, you know the name Tim Black if not the person. The award was presented to Tim Black by Clarice Durham, a chum from high school and every bit as much a political activist as he.

    Jane Ramsey was the perfect compliment to Timuel Black, or perhaps Tim Black was to Jane Ramsey. Jane Ramsey is the Executive Director of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA), a position she's occupied for some 30 years, apart from a tour of duty as Mayor Harold Washington's Director of Community Relations. More than many other similar organizations, JCUA has been active in building coalitions for social justice. For JCUA, it's not so much a mode of operation or strategy or tactic as part of the organization's genetics. It's what they do. And they've applied this to issues as diverse as housing (including gentrification and homelessness), civil liberties, opposition to racism, labor rights, and immigrant rights. Most notably, JCUA has been involved in defending immigrant rights in the notorious Postville, Iowa, immigration raid, and they've been active in supporting the Congress Hotel strike. The award was presented to Jane Ramsey by Sidney Hollander: DSA member, past President and current board member of JCUA.

    As an aside, note that one of the founders of JCUA and its earliest Executive Director was the late Milt Cohen. Milt Cohen was also a Co-Chair of Chicago DSA in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was an honoree at the 1989 Thomas Debs Dinner, and that award was presented to him by Timuel Black.

    Our Master of Ceremonies this year was DSA National Director, Frank Llewellyn. We felt it was especially important that he have that role this year as the DSA National Convention will be in Evanston, Illinois, in November. In addition to pitching the National Convention to the Dinner attendees, he provided them with a summary of what DSA has been doing on the national level.

    Kim Bobo, the Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), was to be our featured speaker. Due to a family emergency, she had to cancel all her appearances that week, including the Dinner. But she nominated, and we accepted, the Reverend C.J. Hawking as her replacement. C.J. Hawking is the Director of the local affiliate of IWJ, Arise Chicago. Some of you with longer memories will remember the role she played in support of the striking workers at A.E. Staley in Decatur. Indeed, she has co-authored (with Steven Ashby, her husband, who she met through the strike) a book on the strike, Staley: the Fight for a New American Labor Movement. (See http://www.staleybook.org .)

    C.J. Hawking spoke mostly about the work of Arise Chicago. In particular, she focused on the efforts of Arise Chicago, in conjunction with workers centers, to expose and recover wages stolen from workers by their employers. These are not just employers with their thumb on the scale. It's frequently quite blatant: hours worked off the books, sub-minimum wages, etc. Like all robberies, sometimes it's an act of desperation by a marginal enterprise. But often enough it's done simply because it can be done with no consequences. There is effectively no wages and hours enforcement, until and unless a group like Arise Chicago intervenes. C.J. Hawking provided examples of victories that often resulted in workers collecting considerable sums of money.

    The tradition of doing a "Debs Day Dinner" started very much as a fundraising exercise in the days of the old Socialist Party of America. It was very much like the Jackson Day dinners held by Democratic Party organizations or Lincoln Day dinners held by Republicans. This Dinner, today, still accounts for a large majority of Chicago DSA's income. But its purpose has long since ceased to be just money. If it were just money, the ticket prices would be about double what they are. The Dinner is also an educational event, through speakers such as C.J. Hawking. The Dinner is a networking event, where people can trade ideas and make connections. It's an outreach event for those with left politics but unfamiliar with democratic socialism.

    And it's also a social event where people are reminded that they are not alone in the struggle for justice. We hope that message, and our appreciation, is heard by those that we honor.


    The Economics of a Living Wage

    by Bill Barclay

     

    Introduction: Living Wage Ordinances and Their Roots

    Living wage ordinances have now been implemented in well over 100 cities and towns in the U.S. In fact, over 40% of all residents of cities with 100,000 or more people live in places that have enacted such ordinances. The ordinances and the movement behind them are driven by the decline in the real (inflation adjusted) value of the minimum wage, the stagnation in real family incomes over the past three decades and the dramatic ­ unprecedented ­ increase in income inequality during this same period. There have been a lot of numbers used to describe this inequality but perhaps be best is the following: if the employees' wages had increased as rapidly as the average compensation of CEOs at the largest companies, on average employees would now be making over $200,000. Obviously they are not. Thus efforts to pass living wage ordinances are part of the larger fight against growing inequality and thus a living wage is best defined as a wage floor high enough to allow a full time worker to support of a family.

     

    The Arguments of Opponents

    For many, maybe most, of those reading this article the very fact of the extreme inequality in U.S. incomes may be sufficient to justify a living wage ordinance. However, when we talk with others, including many elected municipal representatives, we often find that, not only are they are not persuaded by our moral arguments; they seem to approach the question from a very different framework. It is useful to determine what that framework is and then to determine how we can respond to them arguments that flow from it.

    Opponents of living wage ordinances usually make three interconnected arguments; sometimes these are explicit and at other times they underlie more general expressions of opposition to enacting a living wage. These arguments can be summarized in the following propositions:

    • In a market economy workers received in salary the value of what they produce, they are paid what they are worth;
    • Increasing the price of a good ­ in this case, labor ­ will reduce the demand for the good; and
    • Capital ­ businesses ­ is mobile and will move away from municipalities that enact living wage ordinances and avoid them in the future.

    The outcome of these three propositions appears to be that living wage ordinances will end up hurting the very people they are intended to help. Low-wage workers will be laid off and the businesses that employ them will leave the community, further reducing opportunities for those at the lower end of the income scale. The further irony is that these arguments are commonly made by people who otherwise exhibit little concern about inequality or the financial problems facing low-wage workers. All of a sudden they become their champions ­ certainly a very frustrating state of affairs for most of us.

    From a market fundamentalist perspective these are incontrovertible statements. And it is such a perspective that has dominated U.S. political discourse over the past several years. However, it is essential to realize that these are predictions, based upon a particular model of the economy, and their accuracy must be tested against reality. Fortunately, from the experience of the more than 100 living wage ordinances in place, we have a lot of reality against which to test these predictions.

     

    The Evidence of Experience

    It is worth beginning by noting that these propositions are very similar to those made by opponents of minimum wage increases (or even the existence of a minimum wage). In this case, however, economists have largely moved beyond these extreme predictions and are now arguing over whether the employment impact of an increase in the minimum is zero, modestly positive or slightly negative. Political discussion has lagged this recognition.

    Of course, living wage ordinances are different in two important ways from minimum wage increases. First, living wages are normally set much higher that minimum wages. This has ranged from New Orleans' 19% increase over the state's minimum wage to Santa Jose's 117% increase over California's minimum wage. Second, living wage ordinances impact a relatively small portion of a municipality's labor force, almost always less than 5%. In addition, living wage ordinances are not homogeneous, various communities have fashioned their own with the result that there are significant differences in their scope and financial impact.*

    In comparing the experience with living wage with the predictions outlined above, it is useful to consider three dimensions. First, how have covered firms responded to living wage ordinances, e.g. have they laid off workers, relocated to other venues, or absorbed the wage increases internally? Second, what has been the impact on the cost of services provided to municipalities by covered firms, i.e. have taxpayers faced increased costs? Finally, has the existence of a living wage ordinance reduced competition in bidding to provide services to municipalities, also perhaps increasing costs to the municipality?

    There are a variety of ways that firms can respond to mandated wage increases and these include more than simply laying off employees or relocating. However, the first point to make from the several studies of living wages is that there is no evidence of layoffs or declines in employment by covered firms. Put another way, in the case of living wages as in that of minimum wages increases, the dire predictions of opponents have not been realized. In fact, in some cases, such as Boston, employment has actually grown faster in the covered firms than among non-covered firms. Although this may seem counterintuitive, at least from the perspective of the market fundamentalist propositions described above, it reflects the reality of the small impact on firm revenues that living wages involve and the use of other options. Most living wages represent 2 ­ 3% (or less) of the revenues at covered firms, not an amount significant enough to generate layoffs.

    The outlier in this respect is Santa Monica CA where the living wage impact on hotel and restaurant businesses represented 10% of total revenues. However, even here, firms did not layoff workers or relocate because of the "tourist destination" character of Santa Monica; businesses wanted very much to remain in the city. Relocation has been virtually non-existent in response to living wage ordinances, largely because these ordinances are designed to cover work performed under contract to the municipality without regard to where the contracting firm is located.

    So how have covered businesses responded to living wage ordinances? Largely through one of three methods: increasing prices, improving productivity, and accepting an internal income redistribution. Price increases, where they occurred, have been quite limited. Los Angeles experience the largest one. But it amounted to only 0.2% of the city's budget, probably a large dollar figure but a de minimus amount for any individual taxpayer. Most of the impact of living wage ordinances has been absorbed by increasing productivity at the covered firm level. This has occurred in two ways. First, firms have looked carefully at the way in which work is organized and made changes that enhance efficiency. Second, employee behavior has also increased productivity, both because of increased morale and because of significantly reduced turnover in what are now much better paying jobs. In turnover in covered firms decreased from 80% to 20%, a significant cost savings for the firms.

    What about the cost charged for outsourced services? After implementation of living wage ordinances the outcome has ranged from declines in real terms (i.e. cost increases less than the rate of inflation) in Boston, Baltimore (the city with the longest experience with a living wage ordinance), Dane County WI, and New Haven to an increase of 33.4% is Hartford CT. Hartford is definitely an outlier (the next largest increase was 9.1% in Corvallis OR). On further analysis look it appears likely that the city's methodology for contract bidding was probably the major cause of this increase in service costs: Hartford accepted bids on a per hour cost basis with no caps on the amount of hours to be utilized.

    Finally, there has been little if any impact on the level of competition in bidding for municipal contracts. One interesting, and perhaps unanticipated outcome, however is the possibility that living wage ordinances may force firms to bid more on quality of service provided rather than engaging in a race to the bottom by reducing employees' wages. Because the floor wager is set by the living wage ordinance, firms cannot simply undercut competitors by reducing wages and benefits.

    In sum, the evidence from actually experience with living wages in a large number of cities of varying sizes contradicts the market fundamentalist propositions outlined above. Instead, a living wage ordinance is a viable approach to lessening the inequality of a number of workers without imposing undue burdens on others.

    A last point may be worth noting here. Some argue that, while living wage ordinances maybe sometimes desirable, now is not the time to enact one because of the depressed economy. This, it seems to me, is exactly backwards. Firms find the assured income stream from government contracts desirable, and especially so in these difficult times. Living wage ordinances will not change that perception, so now is the best time to act.

     

    * The draft living wage ordinance proposed for Oak Park's is on the broader end of the continuum. It would include all three categories of workers: those who work directly for the Village of Oak Park, those who work for firms contracting with the Village to provide services, and those who work for firms that receive economic development subsidies from the Village. Its mandated living wage level of $14.84/hr represents an 85.5% increment over the Illinois minimum wage of $8.00/hr.


    Leon Despres: 1908 - 2009

    by Bob Roman

    A life of one century has a lot of room. Leon Despres was a lawyer. He represented clients in the labor movement and clients facing issues of civil rights and civil liberties. (From 1979, he was in partnership with Tom Geoghegan.) He was, for many years, very much a movement lawyer. Despres was a Chicago alderman, representing the 5th ward in Hyde Park. He was for many years the lone alderman in opposition to Daley the Elder and the Democratic machine in the Chicago City Council. It was a joke but no joke that one could tell the boundaries of the 5th ward by the sudden abundance of potholes in the city streets. City services back then were apportioned on the basis of loyalty and clout. Despres was an activist who helped organize a rally in protest against the massacre of striking Republic Steel workers in 1938, who helped organize cooperatives, who spoke at rallies and demonstrations.

    Leon Despres was never a member of DSA or the New American Movement or the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee. I don't know if he was ever a member of the old Socialist Party of America . But he did have a long and intimate relationship with the Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner.

    Most typically Leon Despres served as the Master of Ceremonies, also referred to as "Toastmaster" in earlier years. Despres was good at this role. He was funny, organized, articulate, and he very much presided over the event. The last year he presided over the Dinner was in 1998. I recall that he was delighted to be asked. It was obvious that he knew very well what he was doing; his professionalism was thrilling. But it also seemed apparent that he was no longer performing up to his old standards. And his standards were high. Despres served as the Master of Ceremonies in 1968, 1974, 1976, 1985, 1987, and 1998.

    In 1962, prior to the Dinner being an awards event, Leon Despres was a featured speaker at the Dinner, sharing the event with author Harry Golden.

    Despres was the honoree at the 1975 Norman Thomas - Eugene V. Debs Dinner. The text of the award is below. The speaker that evening was Joseph Rauh, a noted civil rights and labor attorney on the national scene, and a founder of the Americans for Democratic Action. See www.chicagodsa/d1975 for more photos.

    Come the 21st Century, Depres' involvement with the Dinner dwindled. But he was always willing to advise us when asked.

     

    Leon M. Despres

    For your steadfast refusal to abandon your high principles in an age of cynicism and accommodation;

    For your relentless insistence that the public domain is not the province of the few;

    For your selfless attacks against those who would betray the public trust for their private gain;

    For your tireless endeavors as attorney and advisor to advance the interests of working men and working women;

    For your leadership in the battle to secure civil rights and civil liberties for all people;

    For your fearless independence in attacking injustice wherever it might exist;

    For the inspiration you have provided to thousands who might otherwise have despaired of our ability to direct our own lives;

    The Norman Thomas ­ Eugene V. Debs Dinner Committee does hereby proudly present you with its award this 4th Day of May in the year 1975.


    May Day in Chicago

    by Tom Broderick

    The March 10th Committee pulled off a small but joyous celebration of the international day of the working class: May Day. Chicago is the birthplace of the holiday, but it remains an unofficial one in our nation. Participation is by those who claim the day.

    On May Day, just three years ago, our country erupted with immigrant rights marches across the nation to gain the rights and dignity of all who work to live. Labor laws in the United States do not allow undocumented workers to be abused by employers. On the books our labor laws protect all workers equally, but labor law enforcement seems to regularly protect employers over employees.

    In the 2006 Chicago May Day march, more than half a million people took to the streets and flags from many countries were flying. In this 2009 march, I'd guess there were about 3,000 participants, but I did see flags from Brazil, Poland, Korea, Palestine, Puerto Rico, Mexico and the United States of America. And of course the rally and parade offered a great opportunity to catch up with how friends and comrades are doing.

    During the march, a group of Asians provided music, as did some black-clad youth. This latter group included musicians and dancers wearing intricate masks and they spiced up the parade. As we walked through sections of the street where buildings rose up on both sides, the ruckus level was purposely raised.

    The United Electrical Workers were at the head of the march, in recognition of their successful sit-down strike at Republic Windows and Doors. UNITE-HERE, AFSCME, SEIU, National Nurses Organizing Committee and Teamsters had sign carriers.

    Other groups with identifying signs, banners or flags, included The Green Party, ARISE Chicago, Gay Liberation Network, International Socialist Organization, and the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center. Action Now Illinois, in their bright blue t-shirts cheered from the sidewalk as we neared Federal Plaza.

    I had to get to the Chicago DSA office to get ready for our annual Debs ~ Thomas ~ Harrington Awards Dinner, so I did not hear any of the speakers at the Plaza. But I'll put in a brief thought: As long as capital is free to roam the world in search of greater capital, no worker should be denied the same right. Capital should serve humanity, not the other way around.

    We need to dump trade agreements that are not fair trade focused and environmentally sound. We need single payer health care for all. We need labor laws that favor the worker and we need them enforced. We need living wages with no unemployment. We need to beat swords and missiles into plowshares and wind turbines. Let's get back to that old demand: Eight hours for work ~ eight hours for rest ~ eight hours for what we will.


    Other News

    compiled by Bob Roman

     

    Against Widening the War

    United for Peace and Justice is circulating a sign-on letter directed at the Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus. The Chicago DSA Executive Committee decided, via email, to add Chicago DSA to the list. The letter calls upon the caucuses to exercise "leadership to help reverse the downward spiral of the security situation in Afghanistan is urgently required. We urge you to oppose the expansion of the war in Afghanistan; require the Obama administration to present and implement an exit strategy; and to press for a greater investment in Afghan-led development efforts and regional diplomacy to stabilize the country."

    The letter calls upon Congress to restructure the Obama Administration's supplemental spending request in several ways:

    • "Require the administration to set a date certain for withdrawal.
    • "Prohibit any further Predator and other missile strikes and aerial bombing likely to result in civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    • "Approve the $7.1 billion in funding for the international affairs budget, including: $3.7 billion for humanitarian aid, development initiatives, and diplomatic support in Afghanistan.
    • "Oppose all new funding for combat in Afghanistan and, at a minimum, dramatically change the proportion of funds for war-fighting compared to those for development, stabilization, and diplomatic cooperation."

    The letter was delivered to the leadership of the caucuses on May 12 with the endorsement of nearly 100 peace or political organizations.

    Chicago DSA Meetings

    Chicago DSA's annual membership convention will be held on Saturday, June 6th, at Noon, in the Chicago DSA office: 1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403 in Chicago. There will be the regular biennial election of the male Co-Chair and the Secretary (terms of 2 years). There will be a special election of the female Co-Chair (term of 1 year). The meeting will also adopt a budget for the coming year, and in connection with that there will be a discussion about the state of the organization and future directions. Following the membership convention, there will be a brief meeting of the Executive Committee.

    The Executive Committee has been meeting on the 2nd Tuesday evening of each month for many years. Beginning in July, the meetings are being scheduled for the 2nd Saturday morning of each month, 10:30 AM in the Chicago DSA office; the July meeting will be on Saturday, July 11.

    April Elections

    As part of the "Cook County Consolidated Elections," the Village of Oak Park elected a President, a Clerk, and 3 Trustees. DSA member Gary Schwab was running for President on the "It Takes a Village" Party (ITV). Chicago DSA endorsed his candidacy. Unfortunately, April elections do not always bring spring flowers. The entire ITV slate lost, rather badly, to the Citizens for Responsible Leadership (CLR) slate that, under one "nom de ballot" or another, has run the village for decades. This time around, the CLR slate generally received twice as many votes as the ITV slate. However, Bruce Samuels won his non-partisan election to the Oak Park Village Library Board. He came in first among the 4 candidates elected.

    Several GOPDSA members worked on the ITV campaign, including Tom Broderick who also organized a fundraising house party for the campaign. Some $400 was donated from DSA members.

    Anniversary of Infamy

    On Monday, June 15, the striking workers at the Congress Hotel will have been on strike for 6 years. This is the longest hotel strike in U.S. history. You are invited to join the striking workers in a special protest of management's stubborn refusal to negotiate. Be there at the Congress Hotel, Congress and Michigan in downtown Chicago, on Monday, June 15, from 4 PM to 6 PM. Help ensure that hotel jobs in Chicago are strong, family-sustaining jobs. For information, go to http:/ /www.PresidentPicketsCongress.org.

    New New Deal: Making It Happen

    Following on a successful panel discussion organized by Oak Park Coalition for Truth and Justice (OPCTJ) after the Inauguration titled "A New New Deal: What Should It look Like!", OPTJ is organizing a Saturday afternoon event entitled "A New New Deal: Making It Happen". It will be held, starting after Noon, on Saturday, June 13, at the Workers United Hall, 333 S. Ashland in Chicago. This mini-conference has the long-term goal of promoting a wide-ranging multi-issue discussion of progressive solutions to the economic crisis and its root causes. OPCTJ hopes that this and other events like it will serve as catalysts in bringing together groups and individuals who are engaged in struggles for peace, equality, social and economic justice in order to collectively build a grassroots movement for comprehensive change.

    Plenary speakers will provide updates on four urgent and ongoing campaigns: War and Militarism, Michael McConnell - American Friends Service Committee; Employee Free Choice Act, James Thindwa - Chicago Jobs with Justice; Single-Payer Health Care, Dr. Anne Scheetz - Physicians for a National Health Plan; Foreclosures and Mortgages, Elce Redmond - South Austin Coalition of Community Councils.

    Following the speakers, break-out sessions will combine a discussion of two issues, in an effort to build a synergy across issues and among different constituents. Participants will be asked to create specific action plans to move each of the campaigns forward.

    The mini-conference is co-sponsored by over two dozen organizations. For more information, go to http://www.opctj.org /NewNewDeal/ or call 708.386.1371.


    New Ground #124.1

    05.30.2009

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Chicago DSA Membership Convention
    The Case for Public Universal Health Care

    1. Politics

    The Only Road Out
    Anniversary of Infamy
    Illegal Aliens? What About Illegal Corporations?
    Hyde Park Rebels: Leon Despres and Sam Ackerman
    A Small Comment on a Big Con

    2. Democratic Socialism

    No Marx Without Engels

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

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

    DSA News

    Chicago DSA Membership Convention
    A reminder to CDSA members: our annual Membership Convention will be on Saturday, June 6, Noon, at the CDSA Office, 1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403 in Chicago. The agenda includes the election of male Co-Chair and Secretary for full two year terms and the election of a female Co-Chair for a one year term. We also will be adopting a budget for the coming fiscal year (July through June) and considering the perennial question of our office: moving to smaller quarters or closing it altogether are real possibilities. This would be a good meeting for you to attend.

    There will be a brief Executive Committee meeting following the membership meeting.

    The Case for Public Universal Health Care
    With the help of DSA Vice-Chair Steve Max, DSA has developed a short audio-visual slide show on health care that makes the case for single payer as well as the public option. To view the slide show on YouTube:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UUqF9j0XWs

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

    Politics

    The Only Road Out
    DSA's Joe Schwartz argues that the only road out of the current fiscal crisis is to nationalize the failing banks. Lemon socialism, certainly, but Schwartz maintains the state should maintain ownership of at least one major bank that would be a "bench mark" institution with enough market influence to set standards other banks would have to meet. Read more here:
    http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/4419/the_only_road_out_of_crisis/

    Anniversary of Infamy
    On Monday, June 15, the striking workers at the Congress Hotel will have been on strike for 6 years. This is the longest hotel strike in U.S. history. You are invited to join the striking workers in a special protest of management's stubborn refusal to negotiate. Be there at the Congress Hotel, Congress and Michigan in downtown Chicago, on Monday, June 15, from 4 PM to 6 PM. Help ensure that hotel jobs in Chicago are strong, family-sustaining jobs. For information, go to
    http:/ /www.PresidentPicketsCongress.org.

    Check out this slideshow about Local 1's 6 years on Strike at the Congress Hotel:
    http://vimeo.com/4891548

    Illegal Alients? What About Illegal Corporations?
    Two out of three companies that unions tried to organize through a federally-supervised (NLRB) election between 1998 and 2003 violated U.S. labor law to fight the union. That's what Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of labor education research at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, discovered. Further, Bronfenbrenner found that employer law-breaking has sharply escalated. The study was funded by the Berger-Marks Foundation and published by American Rights at Work and the Economic Policy Institute. A good synopsis is available here:
    http://www.bergermarks.org/news/2009/noholdsbarred.php

    And the details at:
    http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/bp235

    And while you're at it, consider this:
    http://www.capitalresearch.org/pubs/pdf/v1241126052.pdf

    And if that's got you seriously irritated, at least, send a message to you Congressmen:
    http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/freechoiceact_intro09/

    Hyde Park Rebels: Leon Despres and Sam Ackerman
    Dennis Dixon writes: "A librarian at the Blackstone Branch of the Chicago Public Library, Lala Rodgers, who Leon Despres labelled a "Champion of Social Justice," has put together a memorial display in honor of Mr. Despres and our friend and comrade Sam Ackerman at the library, 4904 South Lake Park Avenue. The display includes pictures of Sam representing Hyde Park at the 1963 March on Washington, Sam with a very young Jesse Jackson, Sam with Harold Washington, and other memorabilia."

    The display will be up until June 6. For those of you unlikely to be near Hyde Park, Lala Mitchell has provided us with these snapshots.

    Hyde Park Rebels
    Hyde Park Rebels
    Hyde Park Rebels
    Hyde Park Rebels
    Hyde Park Rebels
    Hyde Park Rebels

    A Small Comment on a Big Con
    Bernie frankly worshipped Mammon.
    Now his feast has turned to famine.

    Ah, but unlike Jezebel,
    Ruthie Madoff rather well.

    ­ Hugh Iglarsh


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

    Democratic Socialism

    No Marx Without Engels
    Tristram Hunt's new biography, Friedrich Engels: The Frock-Coated Communist, was released by Penguin. As part of this, Hunt contributed this essay to History Today on how Friedrich Engels financed the research behind his friend Karl Marx's epic critique of the free market, Das Kapital:
    http://www.historytoday.com/MainArticle.aspx?m=33301&amid=30279138

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

    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, June 2, 4:30 PM
    Rally for Health Care for All!
    Cigna Insurance Company, 525 W. Monroe (Monroe & Canal), Chicago
    A rally in conjunction with the Single-Payer Day of Action, organized by Chicago Single-Payer Action Network and Physicians for a National Health Program.

    Saturday, June 6, 1 PM to 4 PM
    The State of Surveillance in the Surveillance State
    Northwestern University School of Law, 750 N. Lake Shore Dr, 8th Floor Student Area, Chicago
    Speakers include Mike German, Shahid Buttar, Sue Udry, Pat Hill, Kevin Vodak, Joy Robinson-Van Gilder, students from Senn High School. Sponsored by the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights and co-sponsored by Northwestern Law School, Blum Legal Clinic and Roderick MacArthur Justice Center. For more information, go to http://WWW.CCDBR.ORG or call 312.939.0675.

    Tuesday, June 9 through Thursday, June 11
    Making Media Connections 2009
    Columbia College Chicago, 1104 S. Wabash 8th Floor, Chicago
    Community Media Workshop's annual conference on developing media skills for non-profits. For information go to http://communitymediaworkshop.org/mmc09/

    Thursday, June 11, 8 PM
    Benefit Concert for Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
    the Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia St., Chicago
    Featuring Jon Langford and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts and more. $20 at the door. See http://www.icadp.org

    Friday, June 12, 8:30 AM to 1:30 PM
    New Directions for Drug Policy in Illinois
    Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Congress Lounge, Chicago
    $10 suggested as donation. Pre-registration requested. Go to http://www.thecommongood.org/

    Saturday, June 13, 12:30 PM to 5 PM
    A New New Deal: How to Make It Happen
    333 S. Ashland, Chicago
    This mini-conference has the long-term goal of promoting a wide-ranging multi-issue discussion of progressive solutions to the economic crisis and its root causes. The mini-conference is co-sponsored by over two dozen organizations. For more information, go to http://www.opctj.org /NewNewDeal/ or call 708.386.1371.

    Monday, June 15, 4 PM to 6 PM
    Congress Hotel Strike: 6th Anniversary Action
    Michigan & Congress, Chicago
    Please join the striking workers at the Congress Hotel, who have sustained the longest hotel strike in the history of America to ensure that hotel jobs in Chicago are strong, family-sustaining jobs. For more information, go to http://www.PresidentPicketsCongress.org.


    New Ground #124.2

    06.16.2009

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    51st Annual Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner
    Annual Membership Convention

    1. Politics

    Immokalee Update
    Wal-Mart Again
    A New New Deal: What Would It Look Like?
    Too Poor to Make the News

    2. Upcoming Events of Interest

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

     

    DSA News

    51st Annual Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner
    For those who missed this year's event, well, you should have been there. But the web page for Dinner 51 is up, and poor substitute for the actual experience it may be, check it out at:
    http://www.chicagodsa.org/d2009/index.html

    This year's Dinner was probably one of the more extensively photographed in the Dinner's history, and we've included two photo galleries. These are more or less the web equivalent of a film photographer's contact sheet. See who you missed that evening! The first is of photos by John Scott:
    http://www.chicagodsa.org/d2009/gallery1.html

    The second is of photos by Marc Harris. Marc Harris, incidentally, is one of the late Syd Harris' sons. Syd Harris habitually photographed most of the Dinners from the beginning through 1986. See Marc Harris' photos at:
    http://www.chicagodsa.org/d2009/gallery2.html

    FYI, 1986 was the Haymarket Centenniel and the occasion for a city-wide, pan-left observance. Some of this is documented on the web page for the 1986 Dinner. If you haven't yet, check it out (and note the May Day March on a theme of immigrant rights):
    http://www.chicagodsa.org/d1986/index.html

    Annual Membership Convention
    by Bob Roman
    So you missed the meeting? Here's a quick summary. Tom Broderick has retired from being male Co-Chair, and the meeting elected Ron Baiman. There was no nominees for female Co-Chair. Gene Birmingham was re-elected as Secretary. The budget was referred to the Executive Committee as the issue of the office was very much up in the air, the three immediate alternatives being to remain at 1608, lease a room from In These Times, or close the office altogether. This is still up in the air but may very well be resolved by the time New Ground 124.3 is transmitted. We also had an extended discussion of Chicago DSA prospects and possibilities, but you had to be there. The meeting did agree to be a co-sponsor of the Chicago Socialist Party's Bastille Day Party and to do a postcard mailing to promote it. So save the date: Saturday, July 18!

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

    Politics

    Immokalee Update
    This is good news: the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) announced that two growers, Alderman Farms and Lady Moon Farms, are implementing the additional penny per pound payment to tomato pickers.

    "In a press statement released today [06.04.2009], Whole Foods has confirmed that two of Florida's largest organic growers have agreed to implement the principles of the Campaign for Fair Food, effectively breaking the stalemate established nearly two seasons ago when the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange threatened to fine any of its members that sold tomatoes under the terms of the CIW agreements. At that time, two Florida growers who had been passing on the penny-per-pound increase under the Taco Bell agreement ceased doing so."

    In other news, the labor contractor convicted in Florida's latest slavery case was revealed to have served two growers that participate in the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange's Socially Accountable Farm Employers (SAFE) program. The SAFE program was apparently started in response to CIW's successful Taco Bell campaign, setting labor standards for participating growers in an accreditation type process.

    For more information, go to:http://www.ciw-online.org/

    Wal-Mart Again
    Wal-Mart is using the economy as a lever to expand further in Chicago and elsewhere. Alderman Dick Mell has announced that he plans to set a date for a public hearing this month on a measure to allow the city's second Wal-Mart store on the South Side. There are no plans to re-introduce a Big Box Store Living Wage Ordinance like the one Mayor Daley vetoed, but Wal-Mart Watch has set up a mechanism for you to send a letter to your Alderman. The default text opposes any new Chicago Wal-Mart unless the Employee Free Choice Act is passed, but the web site includes talking points and other information for you to write your own message:
    http://action.walmartwatch.com/page/speakout/OutOfChicago

    A New New Deal: What Would It Look Like?
    The Oak Park Coalition for Truth and Justice just completed its one day movement building exercise, "A New New Deal: Making It Happen". For those of you who missed the first part, held last January 25, "What Would It Look Like?", Bill Barclay's presentation on the economy has been posted on YouTube in two parts:
    Part 1  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McEesPVMgXU
    Part 2  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3kq3cyw5RY

    Too Poor to Make the News
    by Barbara Ehrenreich
    THE human side of the recession, in the new media genre that's been called "recession porn," is the story of an incremental descent from excess to frugality, from ease to austerity. The super-rich give up their personal jets; the upper middle class cut back on private Pilates classes; the merely middle class forgo vacations and evenings at Applebee's. In some accounts, the recession is even described as the "great leveler," smudging the dizzying levels of inequality that characterized the last couple of decades and squeezing everyone into a single great class, the Nouveau Poor, in which we will all drive tiny fuel-efficient cars and grow tomatoes on our porches. More:
    http://ehrenreich.blogs.com/barbaras_blog/2009/06/too-poor-to-make-the-news.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.

    Thursday, June 18, 11:30 AM
    Rally for a Responsible Budget
    Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph, Chicago
    Protest the looming state budget cuts.

    Thursday, June 18, Noon
    Cure CVS National Day of Action
    CVS Pharmacy, 1620 W. 59th Street, Chicago
    CVS is the nation's largest retail drugstore chain. But instead of leading the way in providing quality medicine, goods, and services, CVS has a questionable record on customer health and safety. Please join concerned consumers, families, and labor activists who are working to achieve change at the nation's largest retail pharmacy chain. For information, see http://curecvsnow.org/

    Thursday, June 18, 12:30 PM
    Protest Granting Congress Hotel Permit
    City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St, 2nd Floor, Chicago
    The city will decide whether the Congress Hotel deserves an expansion. For more information call Jessica at 312.663.4373 x 249.

    Friday, June 19, 7:00 AM
    Protest Arne Duncan
    Hyatt Regency, 151 East Wacker, Chicago
    Arne Duncan is calling for 5000 school turnarounds, more merit pay, national standards and national tests, and is blaming teachers. See http://www.CORETeachers.com.

    Saturday, June 20, 12:45 PM
    March on West Suburban Medical Center
    Gather at Austin Boulevard Christian Church, 634 N. Austin Blvd., Oak Park
    Demand management improve nurse staffing at Resurrection Health Care and stop all retaliation and respect employees' right to organize! See http://www.reformresurrection.org/

    Thursday, June 25, 6:45 PM
    Mass Media, Iran, and the Dangers of the Faith-Based Presidency
    Lincoln Park Public Library, 1145 W. Fullerton, Chicago
    Author and activist Anthony DiMaggio teaches U.S. and International Politics at Illinois State University. An Open University of the Left event. See http://www.openuniversityoftheleft.org/


    New Ground #124.3

    07.01.2009

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    On the Struggle for Universal Health Care
    DSA Statement on the Israeli - Palestinian Conflict and Winning Peace with Justice in the Middle East

    1. Politics

    Support "Single-Payer" Health Insurance
    Shock and Audit
    Economic Piracy: It's Not Just the Coast of Somalia
    Coalition of Immokalee Workers v Chipotle
    Wells Fargo Is a Roadblock to Recovery
    Mexican Elections

    2. People

    Perry Cartwright

    3. Democratic Socialism

    Fire the Boss
    Adam Smith and Karl Marx
    Michael Harrington: Warrior on Poverty
    Is the New Deal Socialism?
    Why I Am a Socialist

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest

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

    DSA News

    On the Struggle for Universal Health Care
    DSA reaffirms its support for single-payer health insurance as the most just, cost-effective and rational method for creating a universal health-care system in the United States. In the House of Representatives, John Conyers has introduced H.R.676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act. This bill has 77 co-sponsors. In the Senate, Bernie Sanders has introduced S.703, the American Health Security Act of 2009, his bill has not yet attracted co-sponsors. These two pieces of legislation take different approaches to universal health insurance, but both take for- profit insurance companies out of the picture. DSA asks our locals to contact their senators and representatives, and encourage them to co-sponsor these bills if they have not already done so.
    More: http://www.dsausa.org/pdf/HealthCareResolution.pdf

    DSA Statement on the Israeli - Palestinian Conflict and Winning Peace with Justice in the Middle East
    Peace in the Middle East and justice for both the Palestinian and Israeli people can only be achieved through mutual recognition by each side of the right of each people to viable and secure states of their own, in which the rights of minorities are also guaranteed. Thus, the rejectionist politics of both the Netanyahu administration and of Hamas are a barrier to peace. United States foreign policy should be mobilized in favor of peace forces in both camps and, in particular, against rejectionist Israeli government policies, which historically were and remain buttressed by unconditional U.S. economic and military aid.
    More: http://www.dsausa.org/pdf/MideastRes.pdf

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

    Politics

    Support "Single-Payer" Health Insurance
    E-activism has its limits; your next step is to call or write your Congressmen. But since you're reading this, a good first step is to sign this petition to Congress in favor of a "single-payer" plan:
    http://sanders.senate.gov/petitions/index.cfm?uid=7fd59f2e-88e1-477a-8eaf-762a5b050809

    Shock and Audit
    Mother Jones magazine dissects the defense budget so you don't have to:
    http://www.motherjones.com/special-reports/2009/06/shock-and-audit

    Economic Piracy: It's Not Just the Coast of Somalia
    Good Jobs First's Greg LeRoy observes how states are being robbed of money to support needed services in the futile quest for jobs. It's not just Chicago:
    http://clawback.org/2009/06/30/will-the-stimulus-be-frittered-by-job-wars-among-states/

    Coalition of Immokalee Workers v Chipotle
    For decades, Florida's farmworkers have faced terrible abuses and brutal exploitation. Workers earn sub-poverty wages for toiling 60-70 hours per week, and some have even been chained to poles, locked inside trucks, beaten, and robbed of their pay. Chipotle, the country's fastest-growing fast food chain, claims to serve "food with integrity." But the company has turned its back on farmworkers demanding a lasting commitment to ending the brutal exploitation in Florida's fields. Add your name to the open letter to Chipotle CEO Steve Ells demanding real "food with integrity" and an end to horrific working conditions.
    http://action.americanrightsatwork.org/campaign/chipotle/

    Wells Fargo Is a Roadblock to Recovery
    In Moline, Illinois, Quad City Die Casting, a 60 year old family-run business, faces shutdown because Wells Fargo withdrew financing. One hundred jobs are at stake, 80 of whom are union workers and members of UE Local 1174. Yet, the business is viable and is exactly the type of firm federal bailout money was meant to help. The UE is seeking a commitment from Wells Fargo to keep the company operating while a buyer is found. Tell the House and Senate Banking Committees that Wells Fargo should help end the recession -- not create more unemployment by forcing viable companies to close.
    http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/wellsfargobailout/

    Mexican Elections
    are coming up on July 5. Dan La Botz offers this commentary on the state of the left:
    http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/labotz180609.html

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

    People

    Perry Cartwright
    a long-time Chicago activist, sometimes DSA member, and constant Chicago DSA supporter, passed away on Sunday, June 28. He was 86 years old. For more information about his life, see:
    http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngarchive/ng93.html#anchor511985

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

    Democratic Socialism

    Fire the Boss
    Worker occupations are spreading, says Shawn Hattingh. See:
    http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/hattingh150609.html

    Adam Smith and Karl Marx
    Not so different, really, according to Eric Toussaint. See:
    http://links.org.au/node/1107

    Michael Harrington: Warrior on Poverty
    by Maurice Isserman
    If there is a heaven, and it has a place for virtuous skeptics, I imagine Michael Harrington is looking down, amused by the recent cover of Newsweek proclaiming, "We Are All Socialists Now," not to mention Newt Gingrich's lament that the United States is seeing "European socialism transplanted to Washington." Back in the 1960s, Harrington had some experience trying to "transplant" some socialist ideas to Washington -- and the results were rather different from what he had hoped.
    More: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/21/books/review/Isserman-t.html?_r=1

    Is the New Deal Socialism?
    1936 was not a great year for the Socialist Party, nor for Norman Thomas, and this pamphlet, made from a radio speech given by Norman Thomas on February 2, 1936, really needed editing. But we decided to post this on the web because, despite the passage of 73 years, it's timely. The parallels between then and now have been noted frequently. Among them: Obama, like Roosevelt, has been accused of being a socialist, and Roosevelt, like Obama, denied it. Thomas provides his own arguments as to why the New Deal doesn't cut it. But since the speech was a reply to Al Smith's address to the conservative Liberty League, you also are provided with a look at the 1936 model of conservatism. It hasn't changed much in 73 years. Thomas' concern with the New Deal evolving into an American fascism was not so far out for 1936. (Consider Sinclair Lewis' It Can't Happen Here.)
    http://www.chicagodsa.org/thomasnewdeal.html

    Why I Am a Socialist
    This pamphlet by Norman Thomas was published by the League for Industrial Democracy in 1936. Rather more than the New Deal pamphlet above, it is a period piece; Thomas himself would probably have made a somewhat different argument for socialism a quarter century on. He probably would have been much harder on the Soviet Union just a few years later. But the pamphlet does give a sense of just how much the United States has changed since 1936 and, even more so, since the first two decades of the 20th Century.

    Thomas begins, "This little pamphlet is neither a confession, a true story, nor an autobiography. There is no reason why I am a Socialist which does not apply with equal force to other men and women. I am a Socialist because I believe that in Socialism, in this day and generation lies our best, indeed our only hope of plenty, peace and freedom. Or to put the matter negatively, I am a Socialist because I believe that in Socialism lies our only escape from a long cycle of poverty, dictatorship and war."
    More: http://www.chicagodsa.org/thomaswhy.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.

    Thursday, July 7, 6:45 PM
    The Global Economic Crisis and the Legacy of Rosa Luxemburg
    Lincoln Park Public Library, 1150 W. Fullerton, Chicago
    Open Univeristy welcomes Peter Hudis, co-editor of The Rosa Luxemburg Reader. Peter has published numerous essays on Luxemburg, Marxian theory, and contemporary social and political philosophy. He is a member of the U.S. Marxist-Humanists. For more information: http://www.openuniversityoftheleft.org

    Friday, July 10, 6 PM to 9 PM
    Teach-In and Discussion on Pakistan: 3 Poets and a Country
    Mess Hall, 6932 N. Glenwood Ave, Chicago
    For information, email info@messhall.org

    Saturday, July 11, 9:30 AM to 2:15 PM
    Single-Payer Leadership Training
    Access Living, 115 W. Chicago Av, Chicago
    Suggested donation $10. Morning refreshments and lunch. For information, call Jim Rhodes @ 773.645.7070 or email singlepayer@gmail.com

    Friday, July 17 through Sunday, July 19
    National Counter-Recruitment and Demilitarization Conference
    Roosevelt University, Chicago
    National Network Opposing Militarization of Youth, see http://www.nnomy.org/joomla/index.php

    Saturday, July 18, 2 PM to ...
    Bastille Day Party
    Quencher's Saloon, 2401 N. Western, Chicago
    The Chicago Socialist PARTY: Politics, Beer, Music, Conversation, Beer, Fun, Beer... info: chgosp@juno.com

    Thursday, July 23, 6:45 PM
    "The Fever"
    Lincoln Park Public Library, 1150 W. Fullerton, Chicago
    Vanessa Redgrave stars in Carlo Nero's 2004 film of Wallace Shawn's brilliant, biting, incisive play on the ever-widening gap between those who have and those who have not. For more information: http://www.openuniversityoftheleft.org

    Sunday, July 26, 11:30 AM
    Economic Crisis: Capital & Labor, the 1930s & Today
    CANTV Channel 21
    OUL welcomes author and labor activist Dan La Botz, who argues that solutions to the current crisis will be, as it was in the early 1930s, the development of militant minorities in the workplace and unions, in communities, and in the various fronts that challenge the status quo. For more information: http://www.openuniversityoftheleft.org


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

    Back to top.

    Privacy policy.