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New Ground 128

January - February, 2010

Contents

  • Declining Capital Punishment by Tom Broderick
  • Wal-Mart Again by Bob Roman
  • Vicky Starr by Bob Roman
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • New Ground 128.1 -- 02.01.2010

    0. DSA News

    DSA in the News: the Texas School Book Controversy
    Martin Luther King: the Socialist
    YDS in the News: Glenn Beck Is a...
    Correction: "Union Maids"

    1. Politics

    Oak Park Living Wage by Tom Broderick
    Obama Year One
    Petition to Protect Our Community Hospitals
    Illinois: Don't Forget to Vote February 2nd

    2. Ars Politica

    Sunday Morning Punditry: A Coleridgean Haiku by Hugh Iglarsh

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 128.2 -- 02.15.2010

    0. DSA News

    Democratic Socialism: Real Change for a Change
    Bring America Home

    1. Politics

    Illinois Budget Crisis by Bob Roman
    Comments on the Tobin Tax
    March for Immigration Reform
    March Against the War

    2. Ars Politica

    Happy Birthday, Nelson Algren

    3. Democratic Socialism

    Argentine Cooperatives: Resistance Is Survival

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 128.3 -- 03.01.2010

    0. DSA News

    Oak Park Living Wage
    Texas School Books... Continued
    YDS National Conference
    Bring America Home

    1. Politics

    Congress Hotel
    Illinois Budget Disaster
    37th Annual Human Rights Award
    Union Reading

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Transhumanism Has Problems?

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest


    Declining Capital Punishment

    by Tom Broderick

    After a three year ban, the Supreme Court of the United States of America reinstated capital punishment in 1976. Last year ended with the fewest number of death sentences handed out in this country since we chose to once again legalize execution. This marks seven consecutive years of decline. Even the most lethal states (Texas and Virginia) veered away from condemning people. Texas sentenced nine people to death and Virginia matched Illinois with only one person condemned in 2009.

    Our economy plays a part in this trend. States across the country have issued reports that it costs more to pursue a death sentence than it does to put someone in prison for life. It's unsavory that finances drive abolition. Being flush with cash provides no legitimacy to murder in the name of justice. However the high costs of, and lack of benefits provided by executions are real, so if this halts them, so be it.

    As we live the catastrophe created by a greed-driven, unregulated financial system, legislators are gutting important public services. Our elected officials have to face the fact that capital punishment delivers symbolism rather than justice. Last year, eleven states considered abolition, with New Mexico becoming the most recent abolitionist state. For more on this, read The Death Penalty in 2009: Year End Report published by the Death Penalty Information Center (www.deathpenaltyinfo.org) .

    Internationally, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called for the universal abolition of the Death Penalty. Twenty years ago, the United Nations added the Death Penalty Optional Protocol to their International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Signatories to the Protocol must end executions and take the necessary steps to officially abolish the death penalty. They must also refuse to extradite individuals to countries where they may face capital punishment.

    According to Ms. Pillay, 72 countries have ratified the Protocol and 140 no longer carry out executions. It's difficult to get accurate figures on executions globally, but Amnesty International tries. Amnesty reported a near doubling of state executions in 2008 (2,390) when compared to 2007 (1,252). The numbers for 2009 are not yet available.

    Just over 95% of the known, government sponsored executions in 2008 were carried out in six countries: China ~ 1,718; Iran ~ 346; Saudi Arabia ~ 143; United States of America ~ 37; Pakistan ~ 36 and Iraq ~ 34. The first five countries mentioned above also headed the list in 2007, but in 2008, the United States took a step backward by moving ahead of Pakistan in the number of executions.

    In her call for universal abolition, Ms. Pillay said she opposed the death penalty for a number of reasons: "the fundamental nature of the right to life; the unacceptable risk of executing innocent people by mistake; the absence of proof that the death penalty serves as a deterrent; and what is to my mind the inappropriately vengeful character of the sentence."

    While the number of death sentences handed out in the United States declined in 2009, the number of executions increased from 37 in 2008 to 52 last year. Time running out in the appeals process is the cause for many of these.

    In our country, nine men sentenced to death were exonerated last year. Since the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment, 139 human beings have been exonerated after our criminal justice system condemned them to death as the worst of the worst. How many innocent people have we successfully (sic) executed?

    The Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (www.icadp.org) has set 2010 as the year for abolition in Illinois. An ambitious and just goal. As a Coalition partner, Chicago DSA is committed to ending the brutality of capital punishment.

    Our State Legislators can make Illinois the next abolitionist state. Many support this, but all need to hear from us. If you are willing to work for abolition now, please contact Liz Moran at Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty: 312.213.4142. Liz is the Field Organizer for ICADP.


    Wal-Mart Again

    by Bob Roman

    As New Ground went to press, a proposed compromise that would have allowed Wal-Mart to build additional stores in Chicago bit the dust. The compromise ordinance would have required a "living wage" of $11.03 an hour for retailers that employ more than 50 and benefit, directly or indirectly, from a city subsidy.

    According to the Sun-Times, Wal-Mart would not agree, claiming the proposed compromise was "at the expense of Chicago's working families, not on their behalf." The Illinois Retail Merchants Association chimed in with "A job killer", and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce called it ten times worse than the vetoed big-box living wage ordinance.

    So it's all about jobs, yes? No. The quality of jobs in the city is a major concern, but it's also about the very nature of the city: how we get around, how we shop, how and where the money flows. Politicians in favor of Wal-Mart coming to town wrap themselves in the flag of jobs, but in fact Wal-Mart, and other businesses, would be perfectly happy to do business using no employees at all. Consider the "big box" stores that encourage you to ring up your own purchases, or the shabby trick (most popular among manufacturers) of staffing your enterprise almost entirely with "temps." It's not about jobs.

    Coincident with this latest skirmish, Loyola University's Center for Urban Research and Learning (www.luc.edu/curl) , finally completed and released a three year study on the effect on employment and business by Chicago's one and only Wal-Mart on the west side. The basic finding was that opening that Wal-Mart had no net effect on employment; the area lost as many jobs through business closings as were created by the new store. For certain kinds of retail stores, there was a measurable distance effect. Closer stores were more likely to go out of business. For others, distance was not a variable. These observations were also broadly consistent with other studies done on the question.

    The basic tool used was a survey of surrounding retail businesses over a three year period from the 2006 opening of the Wal-Mart. But the study also looked at sales tax receipts and data on retail employment from the Illinois Department of Employment Security, and these were consistent with the effects observed in the survey data.

    The CURL study is available on their web site and it's worth a read in its entirety, even if you can only skim the statistics. It does provide useful information for countering the jobs spin, even though the official position of the report is agnostic regarding whether Wal-Mart (or any other "big box" retail establishment) is a good idea for any given neighborhood.

    Even discounting an official agnosticism (in other words, know your enemy), it's worth asking just what is a Wal-Mart good for? The "jobs" mantra is a tired attempt at populism that the business community uses every time it wants a handout or evades responsibility. But the prospect of a Wal-Mart in these neighborhoods does have some popular support; the aldermen pushing for more Wal-Marts are not noted for being risk-takers. If a Wal-Mart is generally neutral at best for employment and toxic for much of a neighborhood's retail businesses, there must be some positive economic consequences nonetheless. Otherwise the popular support for such stores would be far more ephemeral than it is. The interesting question is just who are the local beneficiaries? Possibly it's time to start looking at things like non-commercial property values, and more subtle things like the sequence of effects.

    Many of the aldermen opposing more Wal-Marts are also not known for being risk takers. Let's return to the Sun-Times for a quote from Alderman Burke, a leader of the opposition, that says it all: "People look at the way the union movement got involved in the last election and nobody's looking for that to occur again." Not again, eh? This is clearly Burke's attempt at minimizing and dividing Labor's participation in the next municipal election, a return to business as usual. Given that Labor's effort was expensive in money and labor; given the political capital expended to reach only an approximate consensus on candidates; given the way projects are regarded as expendable if they don't directly help to organize workers: Well, it could happen. Unfortunately.


    Vicky Starr

    by Bob Roman

    Union organizer, Debs Thomas Harrington Dinner honoree, DSA member Vicky Starr passed away on Thanksgiving Day in Evanston, Illinois, at the age of 93. Vicky Starr's long history in labor and progressive movements includes participating in the initial organizing of the United Packinghouse Workers in the 1930s and 1940s, and in the 1970s and 1980s helping to organize the clerical workers at the University of Chicago into Local 743 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. In the 1970s, she was an active member of the Chicago Women's Liberation Union .

    Vicky Starr's life was a resource for many authors. Accounts of her life are referenced in dozens of books, including Studs Terkel's bestseller The American Dream, Rank and File by Alice and Staughton Lynd, Howard Zinn's and Anthony Amove's Voices of a People's History of the United States, Rick Halpern's Down on the Killing Floor, Judith Kegan Gardiner's Provoking Agents, and First Person America by Ann Banks. This is hardly a complete Vicky Starr bibliography.

    Under the name Stella Nowicki, Vicky Starr was, along with Sylvia Wood and Katherine Hyndman, one of the stars of Union Maids, a documentary (produced by Jim Klein, Julia Reichert and Miles Mogulescu and presently available from New Day Films) about women union organizers in the 1930s. Union Maids received an Academy Award nomination in 1978, won a blue ribbon at the American Film Festival, and was shown on public television. Her participation in this documentary was a sweet spot in her life, and she took every opportunity to show the film and to accompany it with a presentation. This brought the struggles of the past to life and made them an inspiration for people struggling today.

    The documentary may have given Vicky Starr something of a rock star charisma, but that was well deserved. Organizing the slaughterhouses of Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood required extraordinary, even downright conspiratorial efforts. Union meetings were held in secret and new attendees needed to be vouched for by older members; simply to breath the word union was to bring instant dismissal from your job and black listing. But because the workers were willing to grab control of production in an industry where time was crucial, they were able to win concrete victories and ultimately union recognition. You can learn more of this in Rick Halpern's Down on the Killing Floor.

    My acquaintance with Vicky Starr came late in her life, years after the Democratic Socialists of America was formed through the merger of the New American Movement (NAM) and the Democratic Socialists Organizing Committee (DSOC). Vicky Starr had been a member of NAM. I had been a member of DSOC. When we finally had the opportunity to work together, I observed this: Being an organizer requires, among other things, having a certain boldness combined with the manipulative delight in people that characterizes a good party host. Being a bureaucrat requires, among other things, a talent for systematic manipulation of information and record keeping. Vicky Starr could do either or both and do it well. She was formidable.

    If she helped change the meat packing industry, the experience also changed her in many ways, major and minor. On one occasion when she organized a mailing party for DSA, she absolutely forbade anyone to lick an envelope or a stamp. You wouldn't dare, she said, if you saw how that glue was made.

    Vicky Starr was honored at the 1985 Debs Thomas Harrington Dinner , an event she shared with another DSA member, then President of the Screen Actors Guild Ed Asner. Congressman Lane Evans was the featured speaker at that Dinner. In the years since, she remained a faithful patron of the Dinner, attending nearly ever one since.


    Other News

    compiled by Bob Roman

     

    Bring America Home

    Save the evening of May 7th for the 52nd Annual Debs Thomas Harrington Dinner, featuring author and Nation columnist William Greider. This year we are pleased to honor UE Western Region President Carl Rosen and the People's Law Office. Our Master of Ceremonies will be Interfaith Worker Justice Executive Director Kim Bobo. The Dinner will be back at the Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro, Halsted and Madison in Chicago. Tickets will be available soon at http://www.chicagodsa.org/d2010 .

     

    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. Chicago DSA and its members and friends also contributed to Local 1's Hardship Fund.


    New Ground #128.1

    02.01.2010

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    DSA in the News: the Texas School Book Controversy
    Martin Luther King: the Socialist
    YDS in the News: Glenn Beck Is a...
    Correction: "Union Maids"

    1. Politics

    Oak Park Living Wage by Tom Broderick
    Obama Year One
    Petition to Protect Our Community Hospitals
    Illinois: Don't Forget to Vote February 2nd

    2. Ars Politica

    Sunday Morning Punditry: A Coleridgean Haiku by Hugh Iglarsh

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    DSA in the News: the Texas School Book Controversy
    In Texas, school books and their content are decided upon by the state. The process has become highly ideological, and recently DSA Honorary Chair Dolores Huerta was purged on the basis of her "past" membership in DSA. See the Dallas Morning News and San Antonio Express-News for coverage. Just so you don't think that everyone in Texas is a rednecked yahoo, Express-News columnist Cary Clack provided this commentary. As you might expect, it also provoked comment in a number of education blogs: here and here, for example.

    The Rag was an "underground" newspaper in Austin, Texas, back in the mid-1960s, loosely associated with the SDS and, apparently, where the cartoon strip "The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers" was born. Like everything else (including the Knights of Labor) it's been reborn on the web. Here is their coverage of the Texas schoolbook controversy.

    If, after reading the above, the affair seems to you both trivial and possibly dangerous and certainly lunatic, it's also not an accident. Mariah Blake, in the latest Washington Monthly provides the missing context in "Revisionaries: How a group of Texas conservatives is rewriting your kids' textbooks."

    In other news, Iowa's Republican Senator Grassley defended his colleagues in Congress as not being communists... that is to say DSA members... at a recent townhall meeting, as covered by the Muscatine Journal.

    Martin Luther King the Socialist
    Economic justice was very much a part of Dr. King's agenda, and DSA Honorary Chair Cornel West made that point, and called it socialism, at a Virginia Tech celebration of Dr. King's legacy, as reported in the Roanoke Times. West also made the point rather more extensively and explicitly on The Tavis Smiley Show. (Yes, he mentioned DSA.)

    YDS in the News: Glenn Beck Is a...
    When Glenn Beck did an appearance in Allentown, Pennsylvania, YDS was there to provide an unwelcome, as mentioned in the Allentown Morning Call.

    Correction: "Union Maids"
    In New Ground 128, contrary to what our story on Vicky Starr said, the documentary Union Maids is not now nor has it ever been, a Kartemquin Films product. It was independently produced by Jim Klein, Julia Reichert and Miles Mogulescu. It is available for rent or purchase from New Day Films. A corrected version of the story has been posted on the web.



    Politics

    Oak Park Living Wage
    by Tom Broderick
    After a year of researching the effect that a living wage ordinance would have on the Village of Oak Park, the village Community Relations Commission has come up with a preliminary final report. This is a public document.

    The next step is a public forum to be held at the Village Hall on Wednesday, February 10, from 7 PM to 9 PM. The Village Hall is located at Lombard & Madison (123 Madison) in Oak Park.

    This forum will be a little different from the one held in August. There will be no "expert" testimony. This will be public comment only. People who want to address this document and/or a living wage in general will be allowed up to three minutes to state their case. THERE IS NO RESIDENCY requirement. This so that all interested parties can make their opinions known.

    I encourage anyone who wants to speak for a living wage ordinance for the Village to come and say so before the Community Relations Commission. What you have to say may influence the report that will be given to the Village Board by the CRC. An individual report speaking against this document was sent by the CRC Chair, John Murtagh, to the Chamber of Commerce of Oak Park and River Forest. Likely members of this community will come to speak their mind.

    If you can make it to the meeting, please let me know. If you know of people who would be good to contact, again let me know. I want those who favor this anti-poverty tool that works to be implemented. As one member of the CRC, this is particularly necessary in times like these.

    If you have questions, please contact me: voice mail 708.386.6007 or email.

    Obama Year One
    In the aftermath of the historic 2008 elections and in the midst of the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression, activists and progressives from across movements came together to push for a new New Deal. The new political and economic realities created new opportunities to mobilize for progressive changes including ending wars and militarism; promoting workers' rights; reforming healthcare; and developing economic policies that promote jobs and communities instead of corporate profits. There have been both advances and setbacks in these struggles. One year later, it's time to take stock of lessons learned, evaluate strategic goals, and plan for future campaigns. Join leaders of the labor, peace, immigrant rights, healthcare reform, and economic justice movements in assessing the past year and current political conditions to determine ways we can work together towards progressive change.

    The panel will include:

    • Elce Redmond ­ South Austin Coalition Community Council and  Chicago Jobs with Justice
    • Amy B. Dean ­ Co-Author of the book A New New Deal: How Regional Activism Will Reshape the American Labor Movement (available for cash purchase or singing at the event)
    • Tom Balanoff ­ President of the Service Employees International Union Illinois Council
    • Judith LeBlanc ­ Field Organizer for Peace Action; Former National Co-Chair of United for Peace and Justice
    • Mel Rothenberg ­ Chicago Political Economy Group; Chicago Jobs with Justice
    • Dr. Anne Scheetz -- Physicians for a National Health Program
    • Cristobal Cavazos ­ Immigrant Solidarity DuPage

    Saturday, February 20, 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM at Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan, Room 232, Chicago

    Petition to Protect Our Community Hospitals

    To: Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan

    We, the undersigned, support any and all efforts undertaken by your office to vigorously review the proposed sale of two Resurrection Health Care hospitals, West Suburban Medical Center and Westlake Hospital, to Vanguard Health Systems and to take steps to ensure that the sale does not move forward unless the following conditions are met.

    • Ensure that Vanguard does not close or sell the hospitals for a minimum of 10 years and that it maintains all current services within those hospitals, including the ER and maternity services for 10 years.
    • Improve patient care by requiring investment in better staffing at the bedside and new patient care equipment.
    • Retain all current employees at equivalent positions and respect workers' rights by agreeing to a fair organizing process.
    • Ensure provision of charity care at or above the Cook County average.
    • Create an independent foundation with the profits from the sale to support needed community health projects.

    These conditions are essential to protect patients, employees and access to health care services. To sign the petition, CLICK HERE.

    Illinois: Don't Forget to Vote February 2nd
    Voting in this election won't change the world, most likely, but what do you expect from a few minutes of work?


    Ars Politica

    Sunday Morning Punditry: A Coleridgean Haiku
    by Hugh Iglarsh

    Channel surf today:
    Chatter, chatter everywhere
    Not a thought to think.



    Upcoming Events of Interest

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

    Wednesday, February 10, 7 PM to 9 PM
    Hearing on an Oak Park Living Wage
    Oak Park Village Hall, 123 Madison (Lombard & Madison), Oak Park
    Public comment on the draft final report of the village Community Relations Commission.

    Saturday, February 13, 12:30 PM
    Chicago DSA Executive Committee
    Chicago DSA, 1608 N. Milwaukee Room 403, Chicago
    All DSA members are welcome.

    Saturday, February 13, 2:30 PM
    Remebering Daniel Bensaid
    Lincoln Park Library, 1150 W. Fullerton, Chicago
    The French radical philosopher and political leader, Daniel Bensaïd, who died in January 2010, was one of the most prominent figures of the European Left of the last half-century. To review his life and work, Open University welcomes two of Daniel's Chicago colleagues, Patrick Quinn and Dr. Willaim A. Pelz. Click here for more information.

    Tuesday, February 16, 7 PM
    "Rethinking Afghanistan"
    Lombard Mennonite Church, 528 E. Madison, Lombard
    Showing of the documentary at the monthly meeting of the West Suburban Faith-based Peace Coalition.

    Wednesday, February 17, 11 AM
    Rally and Lobby Day in Support of HB174
    State Capitol Rotunda Springfield, IL
    Rally to protest and lobby to avert the looming disaster in state finances and public services in Illinois. Responsible Budget Coalition. For information, call Tom Wilson at Access Living 312.640.2125

    Saturday, February 20, 1 PM to 4 PM
    The Power of Active Nonviolence
    Sisters of St. Joseph, 1515 W. Ogden Ave, LaGrange Park
    7th annual gathering of the West Suburban Faith-based Peace Coalition. Workshops. For more information.

    Saturday, February 20, 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM
    Obama Year One: Taking Stock
    Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan, Room 232, Chicago
    A New New Deal conference featuring Amy Dean, Tom Balanoff, Judith LeBlanc, Mel Rothenberg, Dr. Ann Scheetz, Cristobal Cavazos. For more information call Bill Barclay @ 708.386.1371 or go to the New New Deal Coalition.

    Saturday, February 27, 2:30 PM
    "Capitalism Hits the Fan"
    Lincoln Park Library, 1150 W. Fullerton, Chicago
    In this documentary film, University of Massachusetts Economics Professor Richard Wolff breaks down the root causes of today's economic crisis, showing how it was decades in the making and in fact reflects seismic failures within the structures of American-style capitalism itself. An Open University of the Left event. Click here for more information.


    New Ground #128.2

    02.15.2010

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Democratic Socialism: Real Change for a Change
    Bring America Home

    1. Politics

    Illinois Budget Crisis by Bob Roman
    Comments on the Tobin Tax
    March for Immigration Reform
    March Against the War

    2. Ars Politica

    Happy Birthday, Nelson Algren

    3. Democratic Socialism

    Argentine Cooperatives: Resistance Is Survival

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    Democratic Socialism: Real Change for a Change
    The National Conference of the Young Democratic Socialists

    Join young activists from all over the country for a unique opportunity to attend interesting workshops, lectures, and discussions while connecting with youth working for radical social change.

    Featuring:

    • Cornel West
    • Gayatri Spivak
    • Frances Fox Piven
    • Liza Featherstone
    • Christian Parenti
    • Bertha Lewis
    • and more

    When: Friday, March 5 through Sunday, March 7

    Where: Norman Thomas High School
    111 E 33 St.
    New York, NY 10016

    Website: http://www.ydsusa.org/news/a-real-change-for-a-change

    Registration: http://www.dsausa.org/yds/Feb2010/confreg.html

    Contact: yds@dsausa.org, 212 727 8610, ydsusa.org

    Bring America Home
    Author, journalist, columnist William Greider speaks at the 52nd Annual Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner honoring Carl Rosen and the People's Law Office on Friday, May 7th. For information or to order tickets, click here.



    Politics

    Illinois Budget Crisis
    by Bob Roman
    New Ground has been among those predicting disaster because of the ongoing failure of responsible political leadership in Illinois. (There's more, but most recently New Ground 127 and New Ground 126.2.) Illinois is not unique, of course. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) has issued a report that most states are suffering a shortfall in revenues. Even accounting for efforts to close the gap, CBPP anticipates the shortfall for 2010 and 2011 to total something on the order of $350,000,000,000 nation-wide.

    Illinois' $14.3 billion deficit is not the worst. In absolute terms California, Arizona, and New York are larger. Expressed as a percentage of the state's general fund, Illinois is still in the runner-up position, Nevada rising to #3, but the deficit for Illinois still amounts to 40.9% of the general fund budget. If you need any indication that "cutting waste" and promoting "efficiency" are nothing more than weasel words for doing nothing, these facts should be that.

    In a recession or depression, deficit spending is not a bad thing. But Illinois and the other states can't print money, and like most states Illinois is required have a balanced budget, or at least something it can pretend is balanced. Thus the deficit is paid for by simply not paying outstanding bills, looting special funds, and other such accounting tricks. The tricks work for a while, too. Then you cut services and lay off workers. None of these are good policy, especially in a recession or depression.

    The Progressive States Network is circulating a sign-on letter for state legislators to urge the President and Congress to move swiftly on job creation and state fiscal relief. There's also a tool citizens can use to urge their state legislators to sign on. While Federal assistance is needed in the short term, the Progressive States Network argues that the fiscal crisis is in large part a result of a failure of politics, that the crisis can be solved and the anti-tax movement is mostly a failure. (Indeed, Arizona is #2 on the fiscal failure list in large part because, unlike most other states, the conservatives have had their way with the state's finances.)

    Comments on the Tobin Tax
    In response to a request by the International Monetary Fund, Chicago Political Economy Group and the Democratic Socialists of America have jointly submitted Public Comment on the economic implications of a possible Financial Transactions Tax in the United States. View the Submission.

    March for Immigration Reform
    On March 21, organizers are planning a March in Washington, DC, with which they intend to pressure President Obama and Congressmen like Senator Durbin to enact comprehensive Immigration Reform. The goal is to bring together 100,000 people, and organizers in Illinois are working toward recruiting 10,000 riders to DC on 200 full buses. For more information, see the Progress Illinois account by Angela Caputo, and for information how to help, go to the Illinois Coalition Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

    March Against the War
    At its February 13th meeting, the Chicago DSA Executive Committee voted to endorse the March 18th march against the war. The 18th is a Thursday, so the march will begin at 5:30 PM at the Federal Plaza in the Loop. After a brief rally in the Plaza, the marchers will proceed up Michigan Avenue. The Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism does have a permit, so come one and all. Click here for more information.


    Ars Politica

    Happy Birthday, Nelson Algren
    The Nelson Algren Committee hosts the 21st annual Nelson Algren Birthday Party on Saturday, March 27, 8 p.m. at St Paul's/Acme Art Center, 2215 W. North Avenue in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, Algren's home turf. The Party pays tribute to the National Book Award-winning author of The Man with a Golden Arm, Chicago: City on the Make and other works that combine gritty noir realism with a profound compassion for the underdog.

    The event also honors community artists and activists who work in the Algren spirit. This year's recipients of the Nelson Algren Committee Award include film preservationist and presenter extraordinaire James Bond and legendary stride piano player and teacher Erwin Helfer. Past Algren Award winners ­ including scholar and Obama biographer John K. Wilson, ace journalist Kari Lydersen and political maven Don Rose ­ will attend the event and say a few words.

    Veteran photographer and Algren cohort Art Shay is a regular attendee at the birthday event, and his slide presentation/Q&A will give attendees a firsthand look at Algren's world. This year's celebration will also feature Algren scholar Nathaniel Mills, discussing Algren's art and politics; notable local poets Charlie Newman, John Goode and Paul Ryan; and musicians John Garvey and Larry Jones. On display will be the Nelson Algren Archive, a collection of materials put together by the Committee to commemorate Algren's tenure in Wicker Park, as well as video footage of Algren in full storytelling action.

    This year's event is dedicated to the memory of Howard Zinn, whose People's History of the United States is history as Algren would have written it, from the standpoint of humanity. Our sponsor is the Near Northwest Arts Council, whose visionary director, Laura Weathered, has overseen many a Birthday Party.

    Admission is $10 at the door, with seniors and students (bring that ID!) admitted at the knockdown price of five bucks. Libations will be available at a cash bar, with the proceeds dedicated to keeping Algren's memory alive. Committee members Warren Leming and Hugh Iglarsh will help MC this years event; Alice Prus will lead partygoers in a rendition of the traditional Polish birthday anthem "Sto Lat," ably assisted by Nina Gaspich and Kurt Jacobsen. Door prizes and refreshments will also be featured.

    When the Committee started in the 1980s, most of Algren's work was out of print. In 2010, all of Algren's work is available (thanks in part to Committee support), his house is graced by a plaque, he has a memorial fountain right on the Blue Line, City on the Make has been dramatized by the Lookingglass troupe, and a passel of startlingly famous writers and actors performed a reading of his work at a centennial celebration last year at a packed Steppenwolf Theatre. But Algren's genius has never been fully recognized in his hometown, and the Committee's work continues. For updates and more information, visit our Web site at www.nelsonalgren.org.



    Democratic Socialism

    Argentine Cooperatives: Resistance Is Survival
    While it's Venezuela that is currently fashionable on the U.S. left, Argentina's response to its preview of the current economic crisis was a wave of plant occupations and consequent worker ownership. At In These Times, Adam Case looks at how the movement is doing:

    "What started as desperate solutions to a severe economic crisis have evolved into established business models. 'What the recuperated factories in Argentina are showing is a model of economic justice,' says Eduardo Murúa, founder of the National Movement of Recuperated Businesses (MNER), an organization tying together workers at the various Argentine worker-run businesses. The nearly 200 businesses, which employ close to 10,000 people, are worker-managed and worker-operated, with many paying equal wages regardless of position or experience."

    Read more here.



    Upcoming Events of Interest

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

    Wednesday, February 17, 11 AM
    Rally and Lobby Day in Support of HB174
    State Capitol Rotunda Springfield, IL
    Rally to protest and lobby to avert the looming disaster in state finances and public services in Illinois. Responsible Budget Coalition. For information, call Tom Wilson at Access Living 312.640.2125

    Thursday, February 18, 6:30 PM
    "On the Ground: Labor's Struggle in the Airline Industry"
    DePaul Univeristy, 14 E. Jackson, Room 1454, Chicago
    Dominican University professor Liesl Orenic will speak on her book, "On the Ground, Labor's Struggle in the Airline Industry." After Liesl's presentation, she will autograph copies of the book for sale. A beer, wine and food reception will follow the presentation. Sponsored by DePaul University Labor Education Program.

    Saturday, February 20, 1 PM to 4 PM
    The Power of Active Nonviolence
    Sisters of St. Joseph, 1515 W. Ogden Ave, LaGrange Park
    7th annual gathering of the West Suburban Faith-based Peace Coalition. Workshops. For more information.

    Saturday, February 20, 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM
    Obama Year One: Taking Stock
    Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan, Room 232, Chicago
    A New New Deal event featuring Amy Dean, Tom Balanoff, Judith LeBlanc, Mel Rothenberg, Dr. Ann Scheetz, Cristobal Cavazos. For more information call Bill Barclay @ 708.386.1371 or go to the New New Deal Coalition.

    Friday, February 26, 7:30 PM
    Finance for People, Not Bankers!
    The Unitarian Church of Evanston, 1330 Ridge Ave, Evanston
    Professor Gerald Epstein discusses what is at the root of the current economic crisis and what we can do. Sponsored by Neighbors for Peace and Roosevelt University Department of Economics.

    Friday, February 26 through Sunday, February 28
    Peace on Earth Film Festival
    Chicago Cultural Center, Claudia Cassidy Theater, 77 E. Randolph, Chicago
    Hosted by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, free and open to the public: "...raising awareness of peace, nonviolence, social justice and and eco-balanced world." Click here for more information.

    Saturday, February 27, 2:30 PM
    "Capitalism Hits the Fan"
    Lincoln Park Library, 1150 W. Fullerton, Chicago
    In this documentary film, University of Massachusetts Economics Professor Richard Wolff breaks down the root causes of today's economic crisis, showing how it was decades in the making and in fact reflects seismic failures within the structures of American-style capitalism itself. An Open University of the Left event. Click here for more information.

    Thursday, March 11, 11 AM
    Abolish the Death Penalty Lobby Day
    The State Capitol, Springfield
    The day begins with a rally in the Capitol Rotunda. For more information, see the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Dealth Penalty.

    Thursday, March 18, 5:30 PM
    End the Wars and Occupations Now! Fund People's Needs, Not Corporate Greed
    Federal Plaza, Dearborn & Adams, Chicago
    Brief rally followed by a permitted march on Michigan Avenue. For information, click here.


    New Ground #128.3

    03.01.2010

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Oak Park Living Wage
    Texas School Books... Continued
    YDS National Conference
    Bring America Home

    1. Politics

    Congress Hotel
    Illinois Budget Disaster
    37th Annual Human Rights Award
    Union Reading

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Transhumanism Has Problems?

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    Oak Park Living Wage
    Oak Park's Community Relations Commission held its final hearing on concept of a Living Wage Ordinance for Oak Park. It was at this point that the guardians of Oak Park's business community woke up to the prospect and attempted an ideological counter-offensive. They were unable to mobilize much outside the bureaucrats who inhabit the various Chambers of Commerce and business development organizations, while supporters of the Living Wage turned out very nicely. The local news reports were largely pro-business, but this account in the Sun-Times affiliated Oak Leaves included a response by GOP DSA Tom Broderick.

    Texas School Books... Continued
    New Ground 128.1 reported on how Dolores Huerta's DSA membership led to a move to purge her from Texas school books. The nonsense continues with this San Antonio News-Express report. For some additional context, see this Progressive States Network account.

    All this attention does have the side effect of recruiting members for DSA, as well as other socialist groups, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. For a somewhat different take, see Like the Dew ("a journal of southern culture and politics," according the nameplate). But if you want to be very disturbed, see this delusional commentary in the Tracy Press.

    YDS National Conference
    "Real Change for a Change," Friday, March 5 through Sunday, March 7 at Norman Thomas High School, 111 E 33 St., New York, NY. For information, http://www.ydsusa.org/news/a-real-change-for-a-change, to register, http://www.dsausa.org/yds/Feb2010/confreg.html, or contact: yds@dsausa.org, 212 727 8610, ydsusa.org

    Bring America Home
    Author, journalist, columnist William Greider speaks at the 52nd Annual Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner honoring Carl Rosen and the People's Law Office on Friday, May 7th. For information or to order tickets, click here.



    Politics

    Congress Hotel

    The Pleasure and Honor of Your Attendance
    Is Requested at a
    Special Picket of the Congress Hotel
    Saturday, March 6, 9 AM to Noon
    530 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago

    The occasion being a "suitcase fashion show" that will be at the hotel that Friday and Saturday. The workers at the Congress Hotel have been on strike for nearly 7 years. Your help is requested to make the point to the show organizers and attendees that Chicago is a union town where scabbing is highly unfashionable.

    Put in as much (or as little) time as you have to spare.

    For information about the strike, go to www.congresshotelstrike.info or call 312.663.4373

    Illinois Budget Disaster
    The Responsible Budget Coalition brought together nearly 4,000 at the State Capitol for a rally in support of HB 174, a measure that will comprehensively reform Illinois taxes toward closing nearly $13,000,000,000 in red ink. After the rally, participants dispersed to lobby their state legislators. The bill has passed the Illinois Senate and cleared a House committee, but the common wisdom is that House Honcho Michael Madigan is the key to all this, and he shares with many other legislators a very great temptation to kick dealing with the situation down the road, to after the general elections this coming November. However, the revenue shortfall is so great that Illinois government (NOT just the state government) is likely to largely shut down long before then. If you're rich or a libertarian, this is likely to be a delightful experiment. For the rest of you, check out the Responsible Budget Coalition web site for further updates. And yes, Chicago DSA is a member of the coalition.

    For an idea of what this means for human services, check out the latest report from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. Note that this is a very limited look at the consequences of the budget crisis; it will have similar effects on all aspects of government.

    37th Annual Human Rights Award
    DSA member Timuel Black gets yet another award, this time the Human Rights Award from the Chicago branch of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, on Saturday, April 17 at their annual Dinner. The organization is also honoring Charlene Mitchell, Mark Clements, and Bernardine Dohrn. Professor Gerald Horne will be the keynote speaker. For more information is available here.

    Union Reading
    The nursing profession has been the scene of several labor wars, and despite the merger between the California Nurses Association, the Massachusetts Nurses Association, and elements of United American Nurses, the field is still complicated and chaotic. The latest issue of Union Democracy Review provides a primer, and it's a good opportunity to check out the Association for Union Democracy's new web site.

    The Winter issue of the War Resistor's League's WIN magazine focuses on labor.



    Democratic Socialism

    Transhumanism Has Problems?
    Chicago DSA expatriate J. Hughes thinks so, and this article will lucidly explain them as well as providing an explanation of just what "Transhumanism" is and how it might relate to socialism (you have to provide that part, but it's not hard). You will come away thinking Transhumanists are way ahead of the curve or hopelessly confused between science fiction and reality.



    Upcoming Events of Interest

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

    Wednesday, March 3, Noon to 1 PM
    Durbin's Diner
    Federal Plaza, Dearborn & Adams, Chicago
    Serving soup in Federal Plaza highlighting the need to tax Wall Street to pay for jobs! More Information.

    Thursday, March 4, 7:30 PM
    Jim Wallis: Rediscovering Values
    DePaul University, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave, Student Center 314, Chicago
    CEO and founder of Sojourners speaks about his latest book about a moral economy. For information, Mark Laboe @ 773.325.4004

    Saturday, March 6, 9 AM to Noon
    Special Congress Hotel Picket
    Congress & Michigan, Chicago
    Join the picket line at the longest strike in the U.S.

    Monday, March 8, 8 PM to 10 PM
    What the HELL Do You Know About AFGHANISTAN?
    The Hideout, 1354 West Wabansia, Chicago
    Iraq Veterans Against the War present a series of shorts, improvised skits, talks, stories, and performances that dive into how little and how much we know about Afghanistan. $10 donation requested, but no one turned away.

    Wednesday, March 10, Noon
    National Coming out of the Shadows Day: Legalization Now!
    Union Park, Lake & Ashland, Chicago
    Rally, march and rally. Step off time for the march is 2 PM, arriving at Federal Plaza, Adams & Dearborn, at 4 PM. This "coming out of the shadows" is meant as a call for leadership (most especially from Senator Dick Durbin [D-IL], who has been supportive of immigrant youth in the past) to pass immigration reform this year. Organized by the Immigrant Youth Justice League. For information, go to iyjl.wordpress.com

    Thursday, March 11, 11 AM
    Abolish the Death Penalty Lobby Day
    The State Capitol, Springfield
    The day begins with a rally in the Capitol Rotunda. For more information, see the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Dealth Penalty.

    Saturday, March 13, 12:30 PM
    CDSA Executive Committee Meeting
    Chicago DSA Office, 1608 N. Milwaukee Ave Room 403, Chicago
    Business, but all DSA members are welcome.

    Thursday, March 18, 5:30 PM
    End the Wars and Occupations Now! Fund People's Needs, Not Corporate Greed
    Federal Plaza, Dearborn & Adams, Chicago
    Brief rally followed by a permitted march on Michigan Avenue. For information, click here.

    Saturday, March 27, 8 PM
    21st Annual Nelson Algren Birthday Party
    Acme Art Center, 2215 W. North Avenue, Chicago
    This year's event is dedicated to the memory of Howard Zinn. $10, cash bar. For information, see www.nelsonalgren.org.


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