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New Ground 127

November - December, 2009

Contents

  • Illinois' Slow Motion Budget Train Wreck by Walker Stumper
  • Usurp! Usurp! Usurp! by Tom Broderick
  • What I Saw of the DSA National Convention by Bob Roman
    Sidebar:
    Toward a New Political Economy for the U.S.
    National Political Committee, Honorary Chairs, Vice-Chairs
  • Growing a New New Deal by Jack Metzgar
  • Bill Adelman by Bob Roman
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • Call for Papers
    Save the Date
    DSA Labor Network

    New Ground 127.1 - 11.30.2009

    0. DSA News

    DSA National Convention
    Democratic Left
    Red Letter
    Socialist International

    1. Politics

    Emergency Response to the Afghanistan "Surge"
    Dire States

    2. Democratic Socialism

    N+1 International by Bob Roman

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 127.2 - 12.15.2009

    0. DSA News

    Congress Plaza Picket
    Video DSA
    Member DSA

    1. Politics

    State Budget Blues
    Renegotiate NAFTA
    CPEG

    2. Ars Politica

    The US Offers Iran a Word to the Wise by Hugh Iglarsh

    3. Democratic Socialism

    A New Capitalism or A New World?

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 127.3 - 01.01.2010

    0. DSA News

    DSA in the News
    Join DSA

    1. Politics

    Oak Park - Austin Health Alliance
    One Year After
    Health Insurance Reform

    2. People

    Vicky Starr

    3. Democratic Socialism

    Organizing for the Anti-Capitalist Transition
    Leftists, Liberals -- and Losers?

    4. Communications

    5. Upcoming Events of Interest


    Illinois' Slow Motion Budget Train Wreck

    by Walker Stumper

    Listening to the gubernatorial candidates especially on the Republican side, you would be excused if you didn't realize that Illinois has had to use one time non-recurring budget gimmicks to cover $ 5.8 billion (22%) of its $ 26.08 billion FY 2010 total General Funds Budget, and that the state budget shortfall for FY2011 is expected to reach about $ 12 billion or 45% of the total FY2010 budget -- see http://www.ctbaonline.org/New_Folder/Budget,%20Tax%20and%20Revenue /Fact%20Sheet_IL%20State%20Deficit%20Problems%2010.13.09.pdf . By the time you read this, the numbers will have changed a bit due to more recent estimations that Center for Tax Budget Accountability (CTBA) had not yet put on-line and probably not for the better.

    Politicians continue to talk about "waste and fraud" in government and "holding the line or even cutting" taxes, but they don't mention that the state is going to be 45% in the hole! You simple cannot cut your way our of a hole that deep without impairing essential state services, even if there is still some "waste and fraud" to be cut. Moreover recent Census data show that Illinois is dead last among the 50 states in the number of full-time non-educational employees per 10,000 residents (see analysis by Anders Lindall at AFSCME (312) 641-6060) and politicians are calling for more cuts?

    Outside of the laughable nostrums proposed by the Republican candidates, three approaches to dealing with Illinois state budget problems are on the table and unfortunately none "solve" the problem as all would leave a gapping hole in the budget.

    1) Democratic gubernatorial candidate, current Comptroller Pat Hynes proposed to raise income taxes only on households making $200,000 or more which he estimate to be roughly the top 3% of filers, see: http://www.danhynes.com/hynesbudgetplan.pdf. For this explicitly progressive income tax change to fly Hynes would have to change the Illinois constitution that mandates a flat state income tax. Illinois' current flat rate of 3% is the lowest rate for high income filers in the country among states that have income taxes, see: http://www.taxadmin.org/fta/rate/ind_inc.html. This could present an almost impossible political challenge given entrenched Republican opposition to tax hikes of any kind and it makes it likely that such a change would not come soon enough to deal with the FY2011 budget chasm. However, a bigger problem is that Hynes numbers are off. According to Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) analysis see: http://www.itepnet.org/Combine_Quinn_and_Hynes.pdf , and confirmed by analysts at the CTBA, see: http://progressillinois.com/2009/10/20/report-hynes-flaw-tax-plan , the Hynes estimate is off by about 50% as he assumes that millionaire filers will pay his top rate of 7.5% on all of their income. In fact, according to Illinois Department of Revenue data, only about half of their federally reported adjusted gross income is taxable in Illinois. So as attractive as the Hynes plan is from a progressive point of view, it suffers a constitutional political hurdle and only raises about half ($2.2 billion) of what it claims to raise (see ITEP report p. 4): a small dent in the state's $ 12 billion budget shortfall.

    2) Governor Pat Quinn's 50 % hike in personal income tax from 3% to 4.5% and corporate tax from coupled with an expansion of the personal exemption from $2000 to $3000, a hike in the corporate income tax from 4.8% to 7.2%, doubling the residential property tax credit from 5% to 10% of property tax capped at $500, and increasing the state earned income tax credit (EITC) for low income filers from 5% to 15% of the federal EITC. These changes would make the tax change progressive for very low income filers of around $30,000 per household with property and dependents, see http://www.itepnet.org/Combine_Quinn_and_Hynes.pdf p. 4, though note that these calculations are for the "original" Quinn plan with a $6000 personal exemption. The ITEP (see preceding link) estimates that the Quinn plan would raise about $3.1 billion: Hardly adequate to solve the state's budget problems.

    3) The Responsible Budget Coalition led by CTBA, Illinois Citizen Action, key legislators, and numerous other progressive non-profits and unions, is proposing a bill modeled on HB 174 that passed the state senate but was not voted on the floor of the state House. This bill would hike the basic income tax from 3% to 5%. It includes all of the exemptions that Quinn included in the latest version of his bill above (many of these were cribbed from HB 174). It would lower taxes for households of four with average property taxes if their household income is below about $30,000. It would also increase the scope of the Illinois sales tax to include 39 services, many of which are taxed by neighboring states. This is the best of the current options in terms of raising state revenue as it is estimated to net about $ 5.0 billion: see CTBA analysis at: http://www.ctbaonline.org/New_Folder/Education/HB%20174%20Analysis%20Revised%20as%20of%2010.13.09%20 -%20final.pdf. However, even this is inadequate to address the state's $ 12 billion hole.

    Illinois desperately needs more revenue to fund public services. Wait for a "battle royale" on this come the start of the next fiscal year July 2010!

     

    Editor's Note: Walker Stumper is an anonymous Chicago DSA member who lives and breathes these numbers for a living. For Rich Whitney's (Green Party) most recent statement on the issue, see http://www.whitneyforgov.org/joomla/index.php.


    Usurp! Usurp! Usurp!

    by Tom Broderick

    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 time off?

    This was the referendum on the Oak Park ballot for the November 2008 election. Sixty percent of the voters said "Yes." (See New Ground 126 and 123.)

    The Oak Park Village Board is the only body that can enact this ordinance and the Board tasked one of our citizen advisory commissions, the Community Relations Commission (CRC), to research the impact of a living wage ordinance on the Village. That work began in February of 2009 and it continues.

    After nine months of hard and contentious work, the CRC met on November 18, 2009 to consider a first draft proposal that had been put together by members of the Commission.

    Since the Commission began work on the Living Wage Ordinance, not one member of the Village Board had attended a CRC meeting until November 18. On that night, before the Commission began discussing their proposal, Village President David Pope waltzed in and delivered a lengthy monologue about what the Village Board wanted and didn't want from the CRC.

    Pope said the Board wanted the pros and cons of enacting a living wage ordinance, rather than a proposal to be voted on. Several members of the Commission tried to assure Pope that they had put together a document that did what he was asking for.

    One commissioner also pointed out that the voters of Oak Park had endorsed a Living Wage Ordinance and that should factor into the discussion. Pope replied that Oak Park as a truly unique community, and said that the voters probably responded to the referendum as a "Mom and Apple Pie" issue. He suggested that the voters may not grasp the far-reaching ramifications of a living wage ordinance.

    It is astounding that the President of the Village Board would come to a CRC meeting after the commissioners had struggled with the issue for nine months, to tell them what the Board wanted from them. What's the point of a citizen advisory commission? Why serve on one? And what a brazen dismissal of the voters.

    Does the Community Relations Commission serve the Board? Does it serve the people of Oak Park? Both? Who does the Village Board serve? One would expect that finding a way to enact the wish of 60% of the electorate would resonate with elected officials.

    In addition, immediately after the October CRC meeting, the chair submitted his resignation as chair. President Pope refused to accept it, so this obstructionist, who has done what he can to submarine the Living Wage Ordinance, continues to chair the Commission. One of the commissioners asked President Pope why he "usurped" the Commission. Pope responded that he didn't think "usurp" was the right word. As tension began to make itself felt, President Pope took his leave.

    To its credit, eighty minutes after Pope hijacked the meeting, the CRC presentation and discussion of the draft went forward. One of the commissioners involved in writing it, went through the document and presented the whys and wherefores of their proposal.

    Several commissioners asked questions and offered ideas. The chair was critical and complained that those members of the CRC who might have sided with him had left the Commission. This chorus whine of one declared that he wanted to submit his own "con" report to the Board. The chair has preached "thoroughness and objectivity" since day one. Hopefully he will be allowed to resign as chair and give up any charade of objectivity. He is as partisan as I am.

    The commissioners who worked on the draft used our proposal as a template. Listening to the presentation, I heard a couple of major deviations from our proposed ordinance. Our proposal used a family that was two adults and two children. The adults both worked full-time and one child was in school and the other was of pre-school age. The CRC used a family model of two full-time working adults and one child.

    We stated an hourly wage of $14.84 was needed to allow families to live without assistance. Using the family chosen by the two members of the CRC, the figure became $11.50/hour. This is a demographic issue that needa to be checked. The other major deviation dealt with paid time off: the number of vacation, sick and family leave days. Our proposal was more generous.

    The meeting ended around 10 p.m. with aggravation permeating the room. The chair said the CRC would never come to agreement no matter how long they discussed the issue. He put on his coat and called for a motion to adjourn. Receiving none, he sat down with his head in his hand. After more discussion, there was a motion to adjourn that received support. The chair bolted, only to return moments later. Why? Perhaps because nearly all the commissioners stayed behind to discuss the long evening's events.

    In the near future, there will likely be another public forum because the business community now wants to be heard. Few of this community attended the first public forum. In September, I asked a member of the downtown business community for a read of this community's response to the Living Wage Ordinance. I was told to get out my dictionary and look up "ludicrous" and "lunacy." Somewhere in there was the buzz on the street of commerce.

    Apparently the owner of the Lake Theatre said this ordinance would cost him half a million dollars. Time for proof. Other business owners said that our proposed $14.84/hour wage would cost businesses more than $17.00/hour once benefits were factored in. Our proposal clearly stated in English that if the employer provided benefits, such as health insurance, these costs could be applied to the $14.84/hour rate. Madness or meanness -- the business community must prove that its concerns are legitimate.

    A living wage is a successful anti-poverty tool. Governmental bodies and communities have a stake in the fight against poverty. Whatever the outcome of the CRC's work, our Village Board will make the choice to fight or embrace economic inequality. La lucha continua.

    Editor's Note: this is a slightly revised version of the article that appeared in the print edition of New Ground.


    What I Saw of the DSA National Convention

    by Bob Roman

    "Why Evanston?" the reporter for a student newspaper wanted to know. "Because we got a great deal on a union hotel!" I answered with just a bit of asperity. But to answer the spirit of her question, DSA's biennial National Convention rotates through the regions of the country. The Midwest was next on the rotation. Chicago is a transportation hub: accessible and cheap to get to. It was Chicago's turn.

    Not that the Chicago Local's Executive Committee had any great enthusiasm for the idea when it was proposed in 2008. The first answer was no. The last time the Convention was held in Chicago, 1991, we were able to subsidize all 9 of our delegates. In addition to a significant registration fee, each delegate is expected to pay into a travel fund that subsidizes the travel of delegates who journey a great distance. The 1991 subsidy from the Chicago Local amounted to a few thousand dollars. It was already clear in 2008 that we would not be in a position to offer any subsidy to our delegation. If Chicago area members were priced out of attendance, having the Convention here would not do us much good. In the end, the formula was modified somewhat for delegates travelling by public transit.

    If 2009 found Chicago DSA in penurious condition, time has not been kind to the national organization, either. In 1991, there were several staff available to work on the event. Today, DSA employs a full time National Director, a part time clerk, and a full time Youth Organizer. (Frank Llewellyn deserves congratulations for juggling the various pieces as well as he did, but inevitably some dishes hit the floor.) Membership is roughly half of what it was shortly after that 1991 convention. And it is hard to say if the political environment is better today or simply very different.

    For all that gloom and ambiguity, the 2009 DSA National Convention turned out to be a much better, more optimistic event than the 1991 Convention. Some of this spirit of optimism comes from some long overdue changes to the Convention itself. The typical DSA Convention had been something of an exercise in "resolutionary socialism." While the delegates would some time on discussing and setting the organization's priorities, much of the rest of their time would be spent on discussing and amending various organizational statements that, no matter how relevant to the events of the time, would be forgotten sooner than later. This was a considerable amount of work, often shouldered by just a few delegates mostly, and usually not terribly rewarding for the individuals or for the organization.

    This Convention marbled decision and discussion with education and skills building. While this practice is not unheard of at DSA Conventions, this particular instance was imported from recent Young Democratic Socialists conferences, and it seemed to work very well.

    This Convention included some resolutions: in particular three brief statements on the economy (see sidebar) and a brief statement in condemning the witch-hunt against ACORN. Most of the other resolutionary work was devoted to setting organizational priorities. The drafts of these resolutions are on the DSA web site (www.dsausa.org) and the final versions will be posted soon.

    The Thursday evening "pre-convention" sessions were free, open to the public, and brought some attendees from Evanston. The first session was a showing of Never Turning Back , a documentary about a remarkable political artist and resident of Evanston, Peggy Lipschutz. The documentary was shown by its Producer and Director, Jerri Zbiral, and was followed by a question and answer session. The second was a presentation by Northern Illinois University labor historian Rosemary Feurer, who took the opportunity to show a documentary she had co-produced, Mother Jones: America's Most Dangerous Woman .

    The Friday evening outreach forum (a DSA Convention tradition) brought together Interfaith Worker Justice's Kim Bobo, Black Commentator's Bill Fletcher, and Washington Post's Harold Meyerson. All three of these speakers have appeared for DSA in Chicago before, but this was the first time for all three together. The topic was "The Politics of the Economic Crisis: Right Wing Populism or Left Wing Resurgence?" People who make a point of attending DSA events might have considered this line up to be predictable. But each speaker brought a unique perspective and style to a particular aspect of the topic; however different the speeches, they were also complimentary. I couldn't help but think of Neapolitan ice cream. I can't do their presentations justice but this was one of the more powerful and informative panels I've witnessed at a DSA event. It should be available online soon.

    The Saturday evening banquet is also a DSA Convention tradition. This time the speakers were to be Harvard University's Elaine Bernard and In These Times ' Joel Bleifuss. Unfortunately, Elaine Bernard was suffering an allergenic reaction to medication and was unable to come to Chicago. Much of Joel Bleifuss' speech was based on an article by William Domhoff that will be appearing in the In These Times January issue. DSA should have the speech online before then.

    Delegates also elected a new National Political Committee (NPC). This body functions as DSA's board of directors and is evenly split between males and females with seats reserved for minorities. Also traditional at DSA Conventions: only the male seats had more candidates (by one) than seats. Only one female seat remains unfilled. No co-chairs were nominated or elected. Five of the fifteen NPC members are from the Young Democratic Socialists (YDS). This pretty much reflects the demographics of DSA membership with a majority of members being either over 55 years old or under 30.

    The delegates also elected the honorary chairs and vice chairs of the organization (see sidebar). These are roughly equivalent to the "advisory boards" that many other organizations have, except that the positions are somewhat less anonymous (more a part of the individual's public biography) than most advisory board memberships. Like the NPC, these positions must be balanced between male and female and have positions reserved for minorities. There are vacancies to be filled by the NPC.

    As an experiment, selected sessions of the DSA Convention were streamed live over the web. No one was hoping for a large audience so much as learning how to do it. And the small audience did report problems, so it was very much an exercise in learning.

    What I saw of the 2009 DSA National Convention was very positive. The delegates were serious about both their politics and their organization. They were serious about cultivating new and young leadership. And YDS is showing signs of organizational strength, with several of its stronger chapters surviving changes in leadership. Finally, for the first time that I can recall, the majority of delegates also regarded DSA's finances as a serious political issue. These are seriously good signs for DSA.

    But good signs for DSA is not the same thing as good signs for socialism in the U.S.A. Various Trotskyist and communist organizations would have their own reasons for agreeing, but what I mean is this: DSA's "market penetration" among the population of lefties is shallow enough that we could quadruple our 6,000 members while only somewhat increasing the broader left.

    That population of lefties is not huge. As a political movement, socialism (democratic or otherwise) in the U.S. has been dead for many decades, despite sparks and occasional flashes that last a few years before dwindling. As Joel Bleifuss pointed out, the combined circulation of left publications in the U.S. amounts to somewhere between 400,000 and 500,000, making socialism very much a particular interest though larger than miniscule. But the conflicts that fueled the growth of socialism as a political movement in the 19th Century have not gone away.

    People have devoted entire careers to investigating American exceptionalism with respect to socialism. (See, for example, New Ground 74: "Lord, Lord, It's a Bourgeois Town" ) The task for DSA in the short term is not to solve that conundrum but to provide political activists with a means of making sense of the current crisis and the proposed solutions, and to grow with respect to the larger left. This Convention gave me confidence that DSA can reasonably do this.

    In the longer term, DSA needs to be able to do the above and to bring home the bacon on national projects. This is an issue for small organizations on a national stage. Doing that, DSA can begin to grow the left and not just itself.

     

    For more information see: http://www.dsausa.org/convention2009/report/convention.html


    Three Resolutions on the Economic Crisis: Towards a New Political Economy for the U.S.

    Submitted by Ron Baiman and Bill Barclay

    The goals of these three resolutions are: (i) to create an adequate supply of well paying jobs to achieve full employment and lasting economic security and prosperity for all Americans; (ii) thus transforming the low wage sector of the U.S. economy by providing jobs at a living wage; (iii) while expanding the U.S. public sector by professionalizing and increasing publicly funded human and social services work; and (iv) supporting increased private investment in a high value added, globally competitive, tradable (green technology or other) goods to achieve trace balance.

     

    A Permanent Jobs Program for the U.S. to Meet Social Needs

    The federal government should enact a permanent long-term jobs program with the goal of creating and/or supporting living wage social/human service, infrastructure, and new green technology jobs. There are several sources of funding for such a program, e.g. increasing the progressivity of the Estate Tax, a surcharge on family incomes over $350,000, cuts in military spending, etc. However, the single most important source of funding should come from the financial sector through a financial transactions tax.

    For details on the size of the program and some estimates of funding sources see "A Permanent Jobs Program for the U.S. Economy in 2009: Economic Restructuring to Meet Human Needs" by the Chicago Political Economy Group (CPEG) at: http://www.chicagodsa.org/jobs.pdf . Additional information on this type of program can be found in Kuttner's Obama's Challenge, 2008. On political economies that function without low wage sectors see Huber and Stevens Development and Crises of the Welfare State, 2001.

     

    Ending the U.S. Trade Deficit and Raising Wages in Low Income Countries

    For more than two decades the U.S. has run a current account deficit. Much of this deficit had been driven by the migration of manufacturing abroad, resulting in stagnant or declining incomes as lost manufacturing jobs are replaced by low wage service jobs. Under Article 12 of the WTO, countries that run persistent and unsustainable trade deficits may apply emergency tariffs as a remedy. The U.S. should invoke this Article to cap and gradually reduce its trade deficits. Revenue from these tariffs should be used to support raising real wages and consumption in low-income trade surplus countries.

    For background on this strategy see William Greider, Come Home America 2009, (Chapter 6). Also see "Solidarity Trade" policy in Baiman "Unequal Exchange" paper in the Review of Radical Political Economy 38(1) 2006, or "Socialist trade policies" in Schweickart's After Capitalism 2002.

     

    Reindustrializing the U.S.

    Existing tax policy contains incentives for companies to move production offshore. This is counter to the long term interests of the U.S. population and is part of the reason for our persistent trade deficits. The federal corporate tax code should be changed to provide tax deductions for domestic value-added production and tax penalties for offshore production. The tax can be implemented in a gradual fashion over some number of years to allow a transition to domestic production.

    For background on this economic strategy see Greider Chapter 7. This policy is closely connected to the Ending the Trade Deficit resolution above.

    We have called our three resolutions "towards a new political economy" because they are rooted in our desire for an economy that meets the need for growth that is both sustainable and equitable. Through these three resolutions we have sought to create a vision of a political economy that reconfigures the four sources of economic demand. We are seeking (i) consumer spending that satisfies broad consumer needs and desires, (ii) government spending that adequately supports public infrastructure, and universal, high quality public services such as health care, education, pensions and other transfer payments to those in need, (iii) investment to enhance productive potential in an environmentally sustainable way, and (iv) exports that can be sold to pay for imports.


    National Political Committee

    Theresa Alt
    David Duhalde
    Stuart Elliott
    Virginia Franco
    Paul Garver
    David Green
    Seth Hutchinson
    Barbara Joye
    Simone Morgan
    Michelle Rossi
    Jason Schulman
    Joe Schwartz
    Herb Shore
    Maria Svart
    Ranfrid Thelle

     

    Honorary Chairs

    Bogdan Denitch
    Barbara Ehrenreich
    Dolores Huerta
    Eliseo Medina
    Eugene "Gus" Newport
    Frances Fox Piven
    Gloria Steinem
    Cornel West

     

    Vice-Chairs

    Elaine Bernard
    Edward Clark
    Jose LaLuz
    Steve Max
    Harold Meyerson
    Maxine Phillips
    Christine Riddiough
    Rosemary Ruether
    Joseph Schwartz
    Motl Zelmanowicz


    Growing a New New Deal

    by Jack Metzgar

    A New New Deal: How Regional Activism Will Reshape the American Labor Movement by Amy B. Dean and David B. Reynolds (Cornell University Press, 2009).

    In their Introduction to A New New Deal, Amy Dean and David Reynolds make a clear statement of what is becoming conventional wisdom among both union and community organizers: "Labor is unlikely to revive without becoming part of a larger social awakening that aims to put the nation on a different course." (p. 14) They waste little time assessing the prospects for such an awakening because they are eager to explain their recipe for nurturing it. But as they illustrate and trace the history of their "regional power-building model," they actually provide lots of evidence that we are likely in the midst of such an awakening process.

    I'm not referring to awakening moments -- like the amazing resurgence of young people and minorities during last year's Presidential election campaign ­- but rather to a longer-term politicization of both unions and community groups, often in concert with each other, over the last decade or so. This process involves a redefinition of "politics" as a year-round, mostly local activity focused on achieving influence and then power over governing -- not a cyclical process where temporary electoral mobilizations interrupt the "real work" of labor and community activists and then leave governing to the politicians. Focused on public policy changes that can make real differences in working people's lives while shifting power relations, this involves grassroots policy and political education, leadership development, careful institution-building, all in the service of what Dean and Reynolds call "deep coalitions" among a wide range of locally-based progressive organizations.

    The very powerful model Dean and Reynolds advocate is based on this broader redirection toward a more expansive practice of both politics and organizing. Though the range of organizations and campaigns they report on and evaluate is both extensive and diverse, it is but a small portion of the larger landscape of increasing activism over the last two decades. For Dean and Reynolds, the problem with this upsurge in activism -- not just in its crushing defeats and demoralizing compromises but even in its most heartening victories -- is its episodic lack of permanent institution-building.

    The stated purpose of their regional power-building model is to build permanent structures that generate well-targeted campaigns to advance a regional economic policy agenda that "ultimately aims to establish a labor-community movement [as] part of the region's governing fabric." Policy wins on good jobs, living wages, affordable housing, and, more broadly, on regional economic development with broad and sustainable benefits for workers and working-class communities is one important metric. But the other one, for Dean and Reynolds, is establishing a dialectic where "[g]rowing and strengthening . . . grassroots institutions become[s] a core way to strengthen a region's quality of life." (p183)

    Dean and Reynolds are supportive of one-off campaigns for specific legislation, like living-wage ordinances and community benefit agreements (CBOs), but frustrated when such efforts don't strengthen and expand the unions and community groups who foster them and the coalitions that have often won significant reforms. Though they don't mention it, the campaign against Wal-Mart in the City of Chicago two years ago is a perfect example of the problem. Though the "Big Box" CBO was not achieved, a number of other important things were: Wal-Mart's further expansion into the city was blocked and its national urban strategy was crippled; the Chicago City Council passed the CBO, forcing Mayor Daley to veto it, and then seven new aldermen were elected against the concerted efforts of the vaunted Daley political "machine'; and the issue of living wages was effectively advanced both locally and nationally. But the powerful labor-community coalition that was generated through that campaign dissipated, and with no agreed-upon explanation of why the Big Box ordinance was not re-introduced into a City Council where it presumably had the votes to override Daley's veto.

    A New New Deal is a manual, addressed mostly to the labor movement, for how to achieve deep coalitions that simultaneously exercise economic and political power while developing long-lasting grassroots institutions, including larger, stronger, and more aggressive unions. It is based on the successful experience of such coalitions in California -- specifically in Los Angeles and in the Silicon Valley area around San Jose, where Dean was the head of the South Bay Labor Council in the 1990s. The basic outlines of the regional power-building model will be familiar to laborites who once took the AFL-CIO's Union Cities program seriously and/or to those involved in the national federation's current New Alliance efforts to restructure central labor councils in at least ten key states.

    The book has the strengths and weaknesses of the manual genre. Personalities, including Dean's, count for nothing, as do historical tensions and animosities among actually existing leaders and institutions. As a result, the kind of story-telling that makes for more interesting reading is subordinated to explaining a formula for building a complex of institutions that can flexibly adjust to all the messily specific contingencies of a diverse array of metropolitan areas. Though clearly written and accessible to a general audience, the book sometimes reads like a series of PowerPoint presentations without the bullet points. What's more, the formula is thought-through in detail based on a wide variety of complex experiences, both in other California regions and in Denver, Atlanta, Seattle, Milwaukee, Buffalo, Cleveland and elsewhere.

    The formula is easy to state -- developing a regional policy agenda + deep coalitions + building aggressive political action -- but meaningless without the formulas within the formulas and the variety of potentially successful options within each of those. The book is, in a word, deceptively simple in its presentation but dauntingly complex in its understanding of the practical difficulties and possibilities embedded in various progressive forces within our society, not just the labor movement. This makes it less than a pleasurable read. But it enhances its value as a how-to manual. It is a book that demands to be studied, not just read, and especially by people who are invested in fulfilling the very real potential of progressive movements in this historical moment.

    On one reading I'm convinced that theirs is the right formula, but, as they insistently show, each piece is dependent on the others. If you live in a region with a weak or sleepy central labor council or without key unions to champion the process, their can-do spirit can seem utopian.

    Still, though the regional power building model is about how to bring various pieces of progressive activism together into a self-developing system, it also highlights some pieces that are absent or weak in many places, and there is a lot for progressives to do in the absence of a full-blown program. For example, their argument for "thinking regionally" (vs. nationally, globally or too locally) is compelling no matter what you do with it. Likewise, I get why we need regionally based "think-and-act tanks" and why they need to be formally independent of both academia and any existing labor movement institution. But that doesn't mean some "simply-think" tanks can't start developing a broader and deeper understanding of regional economies. I also buy their formula for developing deep coalitions around core and peripheral partners for whom a regional economic development agenda is core to each partner's different mission, but that needn't stop temporary coalitions from trying to sustain their relationships as best they can. Likewise, their "civic leadership institutes" will not do what they want them to do without a well-staffed think-and-act tank feeding a deep coalition to target effective political action, but such institutes are a good idea anyway. (See http://building-partnerships.org for a curriculum.)

    In the current period progressives can watch and hope for the best from our national Democratic champions, firing off a regular stream of e-mails and mounting occasional protest demonstrations. Or we can build regional power where we live and work. Dean and Reynolds propose that 10 percent of the funds the labor movement spends on "single-shot electoral efforts" be shifted to long-term regional power building around the country. In 2008 that would have been about $40 million. I doubt that's enough to fund a new New Deal sufficient to our current needs, but it sure could do a lot of social awakening.

     

    Editor's Note: Jack Metzgar is the author of Striking Steel: Solidarity Remembered, Roosevelt University Emeritus Professor of Humanities, and a member of Chicago DSA's Greater Oak Park branch.


    Bill Adelman

    by Bob Roman

    By now you've heard the news: Bill Adelman is no longer with us. He died of a heart attack on September 15. The thought that he won't be among the people I run into at meetings and demonstrations takes some getting use to. He was always good for a big hello and, time allowing, an extended conversation on labor and radical history.

    Since my acquaintance with Bill Adelman spans pretty much my entire career as a lefty, his death seems to something of a marker. I was not long living in the city when the newly organized Illinois Labor History Society called a rally to dedicate a plaque remembering the Haymarket martyrs. The rally was held on a fine May afternoon in 1970, if I remember correctly. The plaque was posted on the wall of the Catholic Charities building just down the street from the actual Haymarket. The Haymarket was then occupied by a monument dedicated to the police and their side of the story. The Weathermen had blown up the police statue once already, so when I arrived early with some friends, the police appeared very quickly, insisted there was no such dedication scheduled, and came very close to arresting us "on suspicion". We returned later for the rally and that was when I met Bill Adelman.

    Despite (or because of, more likely) the police patrols, the plaque disappeared from its wall a few weeks later. Some time later the police statue was moved to the police academy. Years later, Bill Adelman was involved in getting the monument to Haymarket and free speech erected around the corner from the Haymarket.

    And apart from his personal absence, the movement has also lost a major resource. The essence of Bill Adelman was education. He told labor's story in a way that made it a parable of democracy and solidarity. He harnessed the power of memory, helping to found the Illinois Labor History Society, writing three historical tour books (Haymarket, Pullman, and Pilsen), producing two films (Packingtown: USA and Palace Cars and Paradise), and re-establishing May Day as an unofficial Labor holiday.

    In 1998, Chicago DSA honored Bill Adelman at the Debs Thomas Harrington Dinner. The text of the award does not include another dimension of Adelman's life, his political activism that included, among other things, a run for Congress. For more about the 1998 Dinner, see http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngarchive/ng59.html#anchor783315 . For some of Bill Adelman's work, see http://www.labortrail.org/lt-00-audio-adelman.html .


    Other News

    compiled by Bob Roman

     

    Call for Papers

    Call for papers, workshop and panel proposals: In Chicago during May Day weekend 2010, there will be a conference to discuss, debate and analyze labor and social struggles, both past and present.

    The Institute for Working Class History hopes to cover an array of important historical and political topics. In addition to purely academic pursuits, conference participants will have the opportunity to participate in the May Day rally organized by the Chicago Federation of Labor and the Illinois Labor History Society. If there is sufficient interest, we will set up a Chicago labor history tour.

    For additional information, write to Institute for Working Class History, 2335 W. Altgeld, Chicago, IL 60647 or email mayday1890.2010@gmail.com or go to http:// www.mayday2010.info .

     

    Save the Date

    The 2010 Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner will be held Friday evening, May 7. We will be returning the Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro.

     

    DSA Labor Network

    Chicago DSA has endorsed a consumer boycott of Chicago hotels if UNITE HERE Local 1 goes on strike against them. The hotels mentioned were Blackstone, Starwood (Sheraton, W, Westin), Hyatt (Regency, Park Hyatt, Hyatt McCormick), Hilton (Palmer House, Hilton, Drake).

    DSA's Labor Network (publishers of the Talking Union blog) is spreading to Chicago. As a first action, Chicago DSA members are planning a picket line in support of Unite Here Local 1 on December 12. For more information, email michaeldbaker@chicagodsa.org .

    A series of forums on labor topics will be held next year.


     

    New Ground #127.1

    11.30.2009

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    DSA National Convention
    Democratic Left
    Red Letter
    Socialist International

    1. Politics

    Emergency Response to the Afghanistan "Surge"
    Dire States

    2. Democratic Socialism

    N+1 International by Bob Roman

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

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

    DSA News

    DSA National Convention
    Documents (minutes, resolutions, links to videos) have been posted to the national DSA web site:
    http://www.dsausa.org/convention2009/report/convention.html

    The DSA National Convention also provides the first three videos posted on DSA's new web video channel. It's a good start; the videos posted are Harold Meyerson, Bill Fletcher, and Kim Bobo at the Convention's banquet. Meyerson is the most popular among conservatives, incidentally. Check it out at:
    http://vimeo.com/channels/71711

    For another account of the Convention, see "DSA Youth Rising" by past YDS organizer David Duhalde:
    http://theactivist.org/blog/dsa-youth-rising

    Democratic Left
    The Fall, 2009, issue of Democratic Left is now online. See:
    http://www.dsausa.org/dl/Fall_2009.pdf

    Red Letter
    is the newsletter of the Young Democratic Socialists. You can find the Fall, 2009, issue here:
    http://www.ydsusa.org/news/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/redletter2009fall.pdf

    Socialist International
    The Socialist International's Committee on Disarmament met in New York on November 17. For a report, see:
    http://www.socialistinternational.org/viewArticle.cfm?ArticleID=2037

    The Socialist International Council meeting took place in Santo Domingo on November 23 and 24. For a report, see:
    http://www.socialistinternational.org/viewArticle.cfm?ArticleID=2041

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

    Politics

    Emergency Response to the Afghanistan "Surge"
    If, as expected, President Obama makes his "surge" announcement to the nation during the evening next Tuesday, December 1st, Chicago's Emergency Response action will begin at 5 PM, Wednesday, December 2nd at Federal Plaza, corner of Adams and Dearborn Streets, Chicago, with a march to follow.

    On the Saturday following the surge announcement (December 5th), there will be a follow up action at Federal Plaza at 12 noon.

    Chicago DSA is among the endorsers of these events.

    Dire States
    "Illinois' Slow Motion Budget Train Wreck" in New Ground 127 outlined some of the mostly inadequate policy responses to the state's ongoing fiscal crisis. Illinois is not unique, of course. The Economic Policy Institute has issued a report, "Dire States" by Ethan Pollack, that examines how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has provided a safety net of sorts for the states but warns that because this fiscal crisis was linked, in part, to a real estate bubble, the worst is yet to come. The collapse in real estate tax revenue lags behind the collapse in real estate values. Pollack predicts that without an additional $150 Billion in assistance to state and local government, somewhere between 1.1 and 1.4 million jobs (private and public) will be lost. See:
    http://epi.3cdn.net/1e7013bc0e4ca00724_0ym6b5yq5.pdf

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

    Democratic Socialism

    N+1 International
    Bob Roman
    Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, at the International Encounter of Left Parties held in Caracas on November 19-21, has called for the formation of a 5th International. FYI, the Socialist International is generally considered the 2nd or maybe 2.5. The old Communist International was considered the 3rd. The Trotskyists have the 4th International (several of them). A few marxist-leninist grouplets have been claiming their own 5th, but with Chavez in the picture, that hardly matters. You can read about Chavez' plan, and the International Encounter of Left Parties, here:
    http://www.monthlyreview.org/mrzine/fuentes281109p.html

    If you examine the membership of the Socialist International, you'll find it's a pretty motley crew of organizations, encompassing a pretty wide range of ideologies (and lack thereof). The organizations participating in the Encounter or pledging support to the proposed 5th International are also a fairly diverse group, but they all have in common a profound mistrust of the United States -- from direct experience, often enough, especially in the Americas. Indeed Chavez is billing this as an "anti-imperialist" international: all well and good but that, in the early years of the 21st Century, the United States no longer has a monopoly on imperialism.

    One might reasonably wonder if Chavez will play a constructive role in this new organization, if there will be any real room for others. For example, will the politics of the 5th International be a reflection of the foreign policy of Venezuela? For conservatives it will hardly matter as the very fact of Chavez will be the answer no matter what the actual policies of the new international. But the actual answer to that question will go a long way toward predicting if the 5th International will have anything more than a zombie vitality several years from now.

    For another perspective, from a member of a 4th International, see:
    http://internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article1757

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

    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, December 4, 10 AM
    Rally for Rigo & Immigration Reform
    1st United Methodist Church, 77 W. Washington, Chicago
    Rally in support of Rigo Padilla, a UIC student scheduled to be deported, and in support of immigration reform. For more information, see http://icirr.org/en/node/4199

    Saturday, December 5, 7 PM
    An Evening of International Labor Solidarity
    Wyndham O'Hare Hotel, 6810 North Mannheim Road, Rosemont
    Featuring trade union leaders from Pakistan, Iraq, and Venezuela. $10 donation. A public event, part of the U.S. Labor Against the War national assembly. Call 773.334.7074 or go to http://www.uslaboragainstwar.org/article.php?id=20274 for more information.

    Wednesday, December 9, 7 PM
    What's Next for Reform? Redistricting?
    Bucktown Public Library, 1701 N. Milwaukee, Chicago
    State Representative Mike Boland discusses election reform, redistricting, and constitution reform in Illinois. See http://www.ballot-integrity.org

    Thursday, December 10, 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM
    Celebrate Jane Addams Day
    Hull House Museum, 800 S. Halstead, Chicago
    See http://www.hullhousemuseum.org

    Thursday, December 10, 4:30 PM
    Shine a Light on Immigrant Justice
    Federal Plaza, Dearborn & Jackson, Chicago
    Interfaith Vigil on International Human Rights Day. A project of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America. See http://www.crln.org/Shine-a-light-interfaith-vigil-Dec10

    Sunday, December 13, 3 PM
    African American Perspectives on the Struggle for Justice in Israel/Palestine
    Austin Boulevard Christian Church, 634 N. Austin Blvd, Chicago
    Panel discussion featuring Cliff Kelley, Lynette Jackson, Prexy Nesbitt, Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons. Sponsored by the Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine. See http://cjpip.org/African-AmericanPerspectives.html


    New Ground #127.2

    12.15.2009

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Congress Plaza Picket
    Video DSA
    Member DSA

    1. Politics

    State Budget Blues
    Renegotiate NAFTA
    CPEG

    2. Ars Politica

    The US Offers Iran a Word to the Wise by Hugh Iglarsh

    3. Democratic Socialism

    A New Capitalism or A New World?

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest

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

    DSA News

    Congress Plaza Picket
    On Saturday morning, December 12, members of Chicago DSA, Greater Oak Park DSA, Oak Park Coalition for Truth and Justice, 3rd Unitarian, Unity Temple got together for a spell on the Congress Hotel picket line. About 18 people turned out to supplement the strikers' line, including 7 DSA members. Jorge Mujica, candidate for the Democratic nomination for Representative from the 3rd Congressional District, was also on the picket line. DSA members Michael Baker and Tom Broderick organized the turnout.

    Members of UNITE HERE Local 1 have been on strike at the Congress Plaza for over six years, very likely making it the longest running strike in history of the United States. Chicago DSA members will be back on the picket line. If you haven't been able to be there, you can also help by making a contribution to the local's hardship fund. It's been a rough year for Chicago DSA finances, but we were able to contribute $50. Whether or not you can match or exceed the CDSA amount, send your contribution to:

    UNITE HERE Local 1 Hardship Fund
    55 W. Van Buren
    Chicago, IL 60605

    Video DSA
    Three more videos of the DSA National Convention have been posted on the web. Greater Oak Park DSA's Bill Barclay speaking on Jobs and Reindustrialization at
    http://vimeo.com/7867926

    AFSCME Council 31's John Cameron speaking on the Fiscal Crisis of the States at
    http://vimeo.com/7868327

    In These Times' Joel Bleifus on the Left and American Politics at
    http://vimeo.com/7878410

    Member DSA
    With your politics, they're going to call you a socialist regardless of what you call yourself. Look what they say about Obama. So it really is about time you joined DSA. Right now, while you're thinking about it, you can do it online:
    http://www.dsausa.org/join/index.html
    If you're already a member, you can pay your 2010 dues there, too. But if you're busted, flat broke, and living in the Chicago area, Chicago DSA has a deal for you: a special dues rate where you pay what you can and we make up the difference. Download our membership form from
    http://www.chicagodsa.org/joincdsa.pdf

    DSA membership includes a subscription to DSA's Democratic Left. For members in the Chicago area, a subscription to Chicago DSA's New Ground is also included, plus you can get a break on tickets to the annual Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner.

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

    Politics

    State Budget Blues
    Dollars & Sense has posted a good overview by Marianne Hill of the fiscal crisis swamping state governments. In addition to a clear explanation of the problems, Hill has some suggestions about new revenue. Unfortunately, time is a vital consideration here, making some of the new revenue suggestions problematic, but read more at:
    http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/1109hill.html

    Renegotiate NAFTA
    The Global Development and Environment Institute (http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/policy_research/globalization.html) has released two new reports that examine the consequences of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and present recommendations that the agreement should be renegotiated and how it might be revised.

    Kevin P. Gallagher and Timothy A. Wise lead a Boston University task force that makes concrete recommendations for reforms to NAFTA and to the template for U.S. trade agreements generally:
    http://www.bu.edu/pardee/task-force-report-nafta/

    In this new Policy Outlook from the Carnegie Endowment, Eduardo Zepeda, Timothy A Wise and Kevin P. Gallagher offer a comprehensive assessment of Mexico's poor economic performance under NAFTA:
    http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/policy_research/Carnegie.html

    Many of the critiques of NAFTA documented in these reports are confirmations of Chicago DSA's arguments against the agreement when it was up for ratification, though not necessarily all our recommendations for a fair trade agreement, see
    http://www.chicagodsa.org/notthisnafta.html

    You can add your name to the growing petition calling upon Obama to renegotiate NAFTA by going here:
    http://www.renegotiatenafta.org/

    CPEG
    The Chicago Political Economy Group (CPEG) has been around for quite a while, functioning mostly as a study group. But over the past year, it's been morphing into something of a policy shop, starting with a proposal for a jobs program. An early version was published as the lead article in New Ground, see:
    http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngarchive/ng122.html#anchor577843

    CPEG now has its own web site. In addition to resources developed by CPEG, the site includes material on the movement to implement a national program for full employment, particularly the National Jobs for All Coalition. Check it out at:
    http://www.cpegonline.org/index.html

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

    Ars Politica

    The US Offers Iran a Word to the Wise
    by Hugh Iglarsh
    (as translated from the original message, written in a quasi-English dialect spoken only by guidance counselors, probation officers and the State Department)

    Statement of UN Ambassador Susan Rice, regarding Iran's nuclear policies:

    http://usun.state.gov/briefing/statements/2009/132756.htm
    "And while we have been and remain in constant consultation with our P5+1 partners on the way forward, we have said that this is a dual-track effort - there has been an engagement track, which we have been very actively engaged in, but there is also a pressure track, and as Iran makes choices that seem to indicate that it is not at this stage ready and willing to take up the offers on the engagement track, then we will put greater emphasis on the pressure track. Time is short, and we are serious about implementing to the fullest extent that dual-track policy."

    "Engagement track"
    v. "pressure track":
    The velvety bribe
    Or the blood-spattered rack?

    Who should we coddle?
    Who should we whack?
    So many small countries,
    So hard to keep track!

    Should we play Santa,
    With gifts in our sack?
    Or crush them like beetles,
    With a blitzkrieg attack?

    Diplomacy's dandy,
    But patience we lack.
    Let's hope they see reason,
    And remember Iraq.

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

    Democratic Socialism

    A New Capitalism or A New World?
    In the September - October issue of World Watch Magazine, DSA member David Schweickart makes the argument that Economic Democracy is a sustainable alternative to "free" market capitalism. Are revolutions the locomotives of history or the emergency brakes? See
    http://www.luc.edu/faculty/dschwei/NewCapNewWorld.WW.pdf

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

    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, December 17, 11 AM to Noon
    Rally to Stop the Payday Loan Grinch from Stealing the Holidays
    In front of AmeriCash Loans,28 East Madison St. (between Wabash & State), Chicago
    Join the Grinch and the Egan Campaign for Payday Loan Reform in front of a payday loan store to sing carols to warn consumers about dangerous payday installment loans and call for reform of abusive payday installment loan practices. See http://www.citizenaction-il.org/node/129 or call Emily Stuart at 312.427.2114x207

    Thursday, December 17, 6:30 PM to 10 PM
    International Day to End Violence Agaainst Sex Workers
    barbara&barbara gallery, 1021 N. Western Ave, Chicago
    A candlelight vigil, open mike readings, food, wine, music, & art. See http://www.swop-chicago.org

    Thursday, December 17, 6:30 PM to 9 PM
    Conversation With Carlos Rosero
    Decima Musa, 1901 South Loomis, Chicago, Illinois
    The impact of globalization, militarization, of the war on drugs, and of bio-fuels, and discuss sustainability issues in the Afro-Colombian communities. Comite Anti-Militarizacion, call 773.307.2393 for information.

    Thursday, December 17, 7 PM
    Debs Dinner Committee Meeting
    Chicago DSA office, 1608 N. Milwaukee Ave, Room 403, Chicago

    Friday, December 18, 6:30 PM to 10 PM
    Holiday Party
    Northside Action for Justice, Edgewater Presbyterian Church (NA4J office), 1020 W. Bryn Mawr #312, Chicago
    Drop in for a quick chat or stay for a while and listen to music and enjoy refreshments. Therre will be a short update on housing, jobs, community justice and more at the beginning. See http://www.actionforjustice.org/

    Saturday, December 19, 2 PM to 5 PM
    Open Meeting to Plan Chicago-Area Spring Anti-War Action(s)
    8th Day Center for Justice, 205 W. Monroe, 5th Floor, Chicago
    Due to security arrangements for the building, please do not arrive earlier than 1:45 PM or later than 2:15 PM. If you absolutely must arrive later than 2:15 PM, someone will have to come downstairs to let you into the building. For information: CCAWR@aol.com.

    Saturday, December 19, 6 PM
    Protest Neo-Nazi Band
    White Star NiteClub, 3049 N. Cicero, Chicago
    Evil Incarnate is part of a "festival" of bands performing at The White Star on Saturday, December 19 beginning in the late afternoon and going late into the evening. For more information, see http://chicago.indymedia.org/newswire/display/88207/index.php or http://www.gayliberation.net/home.html


    New Ground #127.3

    01.01.2010

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    DSA in the News
    Join DSA

    1. Politics

    Oak Park - Austin Health Alliance
    One Year After
    Health Insurance Reform

    2. People

    Vicky Starr

    3. Democratic Socialism

    Organizing for the Anti-Capitalist Transition
    Leftists, Liberals -- and Losers?

    4. Communications

    5. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    DSA in the News
    In the January issue of In These Times-- "Mobilized in the Motor City By Seth A. Maxon: Democratic socialists in southeastern Michigan can do something most of their counterparts across the nation cannot: they can boast of electoral victories. Moreover, they possess a level of influence within the Michigan Democratic Party of which many American leftists dream. And they've done it all without compromising their beliefs or values." Read More

    Join DSA
    With your politics, they're going to call you a socialist regardless of what you call yourself. Look what they say about Obama. So it really is about time you joined DSA. Right now, while you're thinking about it, you can do it online:
    http://www.dsausa.org/join/index.html
    If you're already a member, you can pay your 2010 dues there, too. But if you're busted, flat broke, and living in the Chicago area, Chicago DSA has a deal for you: a special dues rate where you pay what you can and we make up the difference. Download our membership form from
    http://www.chicagodsa.org/joincdsa.pdf

    DSA membership includes a subscription to DSA's Democratic Left. For members in the Chicago area, a subscription to Chicago DSA's New Ground is also included, plus you can get a break on tickets to the annual Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner.



    Politics

    Oak Park - Austin Health Alliance
    Resurrection Health Care is in talks to sell West Suburban Hospital and Westlake Hospital to a for-profit corporation, Vanguard Health Systems. The Oak Park - Austin Health Alliance has called a community meeting on this sale as a first step toward protecting the interests of patients, employees, and community residents. Presentations will include:

    • Information on the Illinois Attorney General's review and approval process for nonprofit to for-profit hospital acquisitions;
    • Background on Vanguard Health Systems;
    • Report on the Health Facilities and Services Review Board consideration during the permit process.

    The community meeting will be Monday, January 11, 7 PM, at the Austin Boulevard Christian Church, 634 N. Austin Blvd, Oak Park. For more information: South Austin Coalition (773.287.4570), Oak Park Coalition for Truth & Justice, and HEART/AFSCME.

    One Year After
    One year after the Republic Window sit-down strike, In These Times looks back. Roger Bybee examines the sparse but hidden tradition of plant seizures in the United States HERE. Kari Leydersen looks at what's become of the strikers and the plant HERE.

    Health Insurance Reform
    With both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate having passed their versions of health insurance reform (calling it health care reform is rather like mistaking a mule for a horse), what's at stake in the reconciliation process? In keeping with the year-end tradition of making lists, The American Prospect's Paul Waldman provides 10 things to watch for HERE.


    People

    Vicky Starr
    Peg Strobel passed along the news that union organizer, Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner honoree, DSA member Vicky Starr passed away on Thanksgiving Day in Evanston, Illinois, at the age of 93. Using the name "Stella Nowicki", she was one of the three women featured in the Kartemquin Films documentary Union Maids. The movie was nominated for an academy award. The Socialist Worker published an obituary HERE.

    A celebration of Vicky's life will be held January 23 at the North Shore Retirement Hotel, 1611 Chicago Ave in Evanston, beginning at 3 PM with a showing of Union Maids.


     

    Democratic Socialism

    Organizing for the Anti-Capitalist Transition
    At the Monthly Review's blog, David Harvey writes: "Since the late 1990s, the World Social Forum became the center for articulating the theme 'another world is possible.'  It must now take up the task of defining how another socialism or communism is possible and how the transition to these alternatives is to be accomplished.  The current crisis offers a window of opportunity to reflect on what might be involved." Read More

    Leftists, Liberals -- and Losers?
    G. William Domhoff means this article to be far more optimistic than the title implies. In a sense, it's the same topic as David Harvey's piece above but viewed from an entirely different direction: "Here is a step-by-step approach for helping liberals and progressives find common ground. I am proposing a way for leftists to cooperate with liberals to generate short-term advances while at the same time competing with them for the allegiance of the majority to a strong egalitarian vision. In doing so I am claiming the fault is not in our values, but in our strategies." Read More



    Communications

    Steve Oren:
    "The latest [email] issue of New Ground somehow ignores the fact that we are having primaries in Illinois on 02/02/10 (early voting starts 01/11/10). One of those primaries is for the US Senate seat once held by Barack Obama. Can I suggest that members of DSA might want to support Cheryle Robinson Jackson in that primary?

    "HERE is Ms. Jackson's stand on Afghanistan and on some other issues."



    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, January 9, 12:30 PM
    Chicago DSA Executive Committee
    CDSA Office, 1608 N. Milwaukee Room 403, Chicago
    All DSA members are welcome.

    Monday, January 11, 7 PM
    Oak Park Austin Health Alliance Community Meeting
    Austin Boulevard Christian Church, 634 N. Austin Blvd, Oak Park
    Information / organizaing meeting about the sale of West Suburban and Westlake hospitals. For more information: South Austin Coalition (773.287.4570), Oak Park Coalition for Truth & Justice, and HEART/AFSCME.

    Tuesday, January 12, 6 PM to 7:30 PM
    Cook County Board President Candidate Forum
    First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington, Chicago
    Find out how the candidates for Cook County Board President plan to address Cook County's health needs through changes to YOUR public health system. More Information.

    Monday, January 18, 11 AM
    No Service Cuts! No Layoffs! Stop Budget Cuts!
    CTA HQ, 567 W. Lake, Chicago
    Assemble at CTA HQ for a march to the Thompson Center. More Information.

    Friday, January 22, 7:45 PM
    "William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe"
    Gene Siskal Film Center, 205 N. Michigan Ave, Chicago
    Openning night benefit for the Chicago chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. Tickets $25. To reserve your tickets, send an email to Sarah Gelsomino, stating the number of tickets sought and the name of the reserving party. More Information.

    Saturday, January 23, 3PM
    Celebration of Vicky Starr
    North Shore Retirement Hotel, 1611 Chicago Ave in Evanston
    A celebration of the life of the late Vicky Starr, beginning with a showing of the film "Union Maids".


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