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New Ground 134

January - February, 2011

Contents

  • The 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act: Legislation for Our Time by Bill Barclay
  • Bludgeon No More by Tom Broderick
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • Talkin' Socialism
    DSA is Hiring
    Save the Date
    Chicago Elections
    Responsible Budget Coalition Wins?

    New Ground 134.1 -- 01.31.2011

    0. DSA News

    Chicago Municipal Elections 2011
    New from DSA

    1. Politics

    It's Time to End the Death Penalty
    The War at Home: Fighting for Jobs and Housing in Chicago
    First Let's Burn All the Witches
    Confusing Dissent with Terrorism
    Illinois Labor History

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Mondragon and the US Steelworkers Partnership: an Update

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 134.2 -- 02.15.2011

    0. DSA News

    Chicago Municipal Election
    Their Crisis, Our Pain

    1. Politics

    Illinois Deserves a Raise
    Wal-Mart Redux
    The State of Working America
    Labor Rights in Mexico

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Norway: Capitalists and Socialists
    Interviews with Karl Marx

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 134.3 -- 03.01.2011

    0. Politics

    Rally in Solidarity with Wisconsin Labor by Bob Roman
    The American Taliban

    2. Democratic Socialism

    The Bolivarian Revolution Turns 12
    Participatory Budgeting from Brazil to Chicago

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest


    The 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act:

    Legislation for Our Time

    by Bill Barclay

    In May 2010, Rep John Conyers introduced a bill entitled "The 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act." The bill was little noticed at the time but, today, after another 7 months of dismal jobs reports -- we have actually lost ground during 2010, creating fewer jobs than the growth of the labor force -- there is renewed interest in this legislation by a range of progressive groups. The DSA NPC has made mobilization around the Act a national priority; Progressive Democrats of America is developing a similar effort, as are both the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism and the National Jobs for All Coalition . What follows is a summary of the major elements of the Act and why it is one that anyone concerned about the economy should support.

    The 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act includes (i) funding for jobs; (ii) allocation of monies raised by the funding mechanism; (iii) job creation targets (who and what types of jobs); (iv) mechanisms for implementing the Act; and (v) a definition of the economic situations under which the Act would come into effect. I will take these topics one at a time. I will also briefly suggest what a political mobilization effort around the Act could look like.

    Funding the 21st Century Jobs Program Unlike many job creation proposals, the act is deficit neutral: It raises the money to pay for the jobs to be created. Funding for the Act is provided by a tax on the trading of financial assets (FTT). This levy is on trading of stocks, bonds (debt) and currencies -- both the actual financial asset and any derivative product based on the asset, e.g., futures or options, which provides a claim to the returns to holding the actual stock, bond or currency.

    The FTT is set at 0.25% in the draft legislation. However, in the summary sheet that Conyers staff provided, the rate varies between stocks and other financial assets. There are good reasons for this variation that cannot be discussed in this article. (See http://www.cpegonline.org/workingpapers/CPEGWP2010-2.pdf for a full development of the rationale for different levels of an FTT.)

    When an FTT is proposed, people often ask, would it apply to me? First, it should be clear that an FTT, such as that contained in the Act, does not apply to the decision to deposit or withdraw money from a checking or money market account. Nor would it apply to someone seeking to change a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars for Euros or yen because of a planned trip abroad. These are not trades or investments. However, it would likely apply to transactions in a 401(k) or similar account. This is not necessarily a bad thing. At 0.25% level, it represents $1 on every $400 of stock (or other financial asset traded). Index funds that trade infrequently (e.g., Vanguard's S&P 500 Index mutual fund) do as well or better than mutual funds that are "actively managed." You can choose the former if controlling your investment costs is important. If, on the other hand, you think a mutual fund manager can outperform the market by more than the 0.5% FTT round turn plus the fee paid to the manager, you can choose the latter and pay the FTT.

    A more important question is how much money could an FTT raise? This is significant because, unlike various other jobs bills (e.g., the Local Jobs for America Act proposed in the 111th Congress by Rep. George Miller), the Conyers bill does not start from a number of jobs to be created but from a mechanism for funding new jobs. There are a variety of analyses that people (including myself -- see above references) have done. A ballpark estimate can be constructed as follows: the value of stocks traded in the US has been between $45 and 70 trillion per year over the past 5 years. If an FTT were levied on only one side (buyer or seller) it would generate $135 billion on $55 trillion in stock trading; of course, levying it on both buyer and seller doubles this number. The value of trading in debt and currencies is equal to or exceeds that of stock trading -- and we haven't even begun to talk about derivative trading, where there are similar values represented. Clearly the amount of money raised by an FTT, and thus the number of jobs that can be funded, is very large.

    Allocation of Funds Perhaps Republicans will support for the Conyers proposal -- after all it is deficit neutral. How does the Act allocate the funds to create jobs? The Act creates two pools of money.

    The 2/3 of the funds raised goes into "Employment Opportunity Grants" (EOG). Metropolitan areas and urban counties will receive a minimum of 65% of the money going into EOGs. A maximum of 35% of the money going to the EOG program is distributed to Indian Tribes (capped at 5%) and to states (capped at 30%) for allocation to units of local government that don't qualify under the metropolitan area and urban county categories. The remaining 1/3 goes into the 1998 Investment Act program.

    Job Creation Targets As drafted, the Act allocates funds on an annual basis. For the first 9 months when the Act is in effect (see below), the kinds of jobs to be created are similar to those created by Harry Hopkins' Civil Works Administration (CWA) and Works Progress Administration (WPA). Both of these programs had, as their primary goal, putting as many people to work as possible. This meant, at times, choosing labor intensive methods over perhaps more economically efficient methods that substituted capital for labor.

    During the initial 9 months of an EOG, the priority is fast track job creation. This includes painting and refurbishing schools, community centers and libraries; restoration of abandoned and vacant properties in foreclosure-decimated neighborhoods; expansion of emergency food programs; and renovation and maintenance of parks, playgrounds "and other public spaces." After the first 9 month period, EOG monies can be used for construction / rehabilitation / improvements of residences or public facilities. These include energy efficiency improvements and programs targeted at disadvantaged youth.

    There are two points to note here, both of which are important in understanding the politics of a campaign that must be developed around this Act. First, many of these jobs require very limited training. Workers with little or no previous employment would have opportunity. Second, since the Act also gives priority to those who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks (the BLS definition of long term unemployed, currently over 44% of total official unemployment), it addresses one of the most devastating aspects of the Great Recession.

    Implementation of the Act Who are the decision-makers under the terms of the Act? Who decides what jobs and what projects qualify? It is sometimes forgotten that many of the 1930s programs deliberately placed significant decision making power in the hands of localities. The Conyers legislation follows a similar path.

    The Secretary of Labor administers the fund created by FTT revenues (the "Full Employment National Trust Fund"). However, decisions as to what work is to be done are to be made in consultation between EOG recipients and community groups, non-profits, labor organizations, community residents and local government officials. Thus there is considerable local input into what projects should be undertaken. In addition, there are important protections built into the Act for existing employees. First, no person employed under the EOG program can be paid a lower wage than workers already doing the same job. Second, prevailing wage rules would apply for construction projects. Third, if the EOG program is undertaken by a business that has a collective bargaining agreement in effect, the union in question must agree to and negotiate with the employer regarding wages and other working conditions. Fourth, no worker may be hired via the EOG program to replace someone currently employed that position. And finally, EOG program employees must be guaranteed a minimum of 30 hours per week and 12 months of work.

    The Economic Conditions Under Which the Act Would Be in Effect The Act is focused on jobs; therefore the economic conditions for placing the Act in effect are in terms of unemployment. The first of these "trigger levels" is an unemployment rate of 9% or more 6 months after passage of the Act. The Act steps down from there, finally to a 4% unemployment rate, the implied full employment level.

    This section of the Act is perhaps the least clear and has been the subject of debate among supporters of the Act and discussions with the Conyers staff. There are at least two issues that need to be clarified.

    First, does the Act propose that at any time the unemployment rate is above the listed percentages, the FTT and associated jobs programs will be triggered and that there is no cessation of the program, even if the unemployment rate falls below the trigger lever but is above the next trigger level? This is particularly important because of the gaps between trigger levels. For example, if the job creation program is in operation in year 2 (trigger level of 8% unemployment) and in year 3 the unemployment level falls to 7%, does the program cease, not to be restarted unless unemployment is above the 6% trigger level in year 5? Second, is the FTT only implemented during the time the Act is in effect or would the FTT continue to operate until the official unemployment level was at or below 4%, even if the Act was not consistently in effect because of variations in unemployment levels?

    Creating a Campaign Around the Act The politics of the Act have obviously changed since May 2010 when Rep. Conyers introduced it. However, the need for the jobs program envisioned by the Act has only grown. Conyers' staff -- and Conyers himself -- has urged a campaign similar to that developed around the single payer heath care bill. This could include several components:

    1) Town hall meetings where Conyers may be the drawing card but the local congressional representative is the target. If Conyers is willing to come and speak, will the local congressional representative appear and respond/endorse as a co-sponsor? The town hall meetings should include at least two components in addition to Conyers and the local congressional representative. Unemployed workers can describe their situation: what they did before becoming unemployed, their experience looking for work, etc. In addition, however, DSA chapters and their coalition allies should do a "needs assessment:" What are the socially useful tasks that need to be done but will not be undertaken by the private sector? If we had the funding, how could the skills of the unemployed workers in our community be utilized to carry out meet these needs?

    2) Rallies focused on the first Friday of the month BLS jobs release. These are already occurring in more than a dozen large and medium sized cities in the Midwest and the East. We should make this a national event.

    While there will certainly be defensive battles to fight over the coming months, we need to define where we want to go beyond defense of the gains that have been won in earlier struggles. The 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act should be a central element in this effort to re-define the universe of political discourse. Today, austerity is the enemy of human progress -- expansion of socially funded and democratically controlled programs is the only way to maintain and improve the quality of life for all of us.


    Bludgeon No More

    by Tom Broderick

    On Thursday, January 6th, 2011, the Illinois House voted to terminate our State's death penalty. Barely. Sixty votes were needed and we thought we had them, but a legislator flipped. Representative Karen Yarbrough (D-7), the bill's sponsor, went to work and when the vote was taken, 60 Illinois Representatives voted to shut down our death machine.

    During the floor debate, an astonishingly blunt counter argument was provided by Representative Jim Sacia (R-89). This former FBI agent's position was that threatening defendants with death can make them talk to authorities and lead to solving crimes. He was quoted in the Chicago Tribune: "Don't take that tool from law enforcement."

    That "tool" is a hammer used to bludgeon. Illinois prosecutors are the most vocal group arguing against ending the death penalty. The ability to threaten death in order to gain cooperation is useful to them. The question is: Does threatening to use the power of the state to kill an individual, in order to gain cooperation in closing cases, just?

    At earlier times in this abolition process, these same prosecutors railed against enacting reforms. Reforming the system would tie their hands -- limit their options. That 20 men have been exonerated after they put them on death row doesn't seem to have any weight with them.

    An execution is a violent act that may appease some desire for revenge by some family and friends of victims of murder. Having never lost a family member to murder, I don't know how I'd respond. However, there are family members of murder victims who come down on either side of this issue.

    State prosecutors and death penalty opponents can provide honest and heartfelt support from the family members of victims for and against the death penalty. Prosecutors would be hard pressed to find support for execution from those who have been found innocent of the crimes that they were condemned for. How do the families and friends of the victims of these no longer "closed" crimes feel?

    As New Ground goes to press, the Illinois State Senate repealed the state death penalty on a 32 to 25 vote. Hopefully by the time you read this, Governor Pat Quinn will have signed SB 3539, ending this state's orchestrated ceremony of violence.


    Other News

    compiled by Bob Roman

    Talkin' Socialism

    "Talkin' Socialism" is Chicago DSA's new monthly half-hour podcast on socialism and the politics of socialists. On December's Episode 1, Chicago Political Economy Group economists Ron Baiman and Bill Barclay explain the need for a massive jobs program and how that might be done. January's Episode 2 features Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty board members Chris Lynch and Tom Broderick discuss the effort to abolish the death penalty in Illinois and in the nation. February's program will a discussion on religion and socialism featuring Reverend Gene Birmingham and Reverend Maggie Shreve. Available as MP3 and Ogg Vorbis files, simply go to http://www.chicagodsa.org to download.

     

    DSA Is Hiring

    After ten years on the job, Frank Llewellyn has announced he's moving on to other challenges. Therefore, Democratic Socialists of America is seeking a National Director. The Director works with DSA's elected leadership, staff and activists. Fundraising ability is essential, as are superior written and oral communication skills. Women and people of color are strongly encouraged to apply. Salary and benefits are competitive for progressive, non-profit work. Send a cover letter, resume, and a list of three references to dsadirectorsearch@gmail.com . Deadline is March 1, 2011.

     

    Save the Date

    The 53rd Annual Debs -- Thomas -- Harrington Dinner will be held on Friday, May 13 at the Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro hotel, Madison and Halsted in Chicago. The program is still being worked out, but Chicago DSA members can expect a discount on tickets.

     

    Chicago Elections

    Chicago DSA has not made any endorsements or recommendations for the municipal elections in February, but other groups have. We've posted a table with all of the candidates on the ballot, links to their web sites, and such endorsements as we've been able to find. We don't pretend to be complete; if your organization is not represented, send us your list of endorsements. You can find this work in progress at http://www.chicagodsa.org/page6.html .

     

    Responsible Budget Coalition Wins?

    Chicago DSA has been a member of this coalition for quite a while. We'd like to think of this as a victory for liberals and the left, but the financial industry almost certainly had more to do with the tax increase than we did. As Governor Quinn observed shortly after the tax increase passed the General Assembly: "...it was pretty clear from talking to major entities that lent money to the state of Illinois that the opportunity to borrow was fast eclipsing, and we had to do some very serious things on an emergency and temporary basis in order to get our fiscal house in order." The crisis is not resolved. The budget gap is about $15 billion; the increase will bring in $7 billion.


    New Ground #134.1

    01.31.2011

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Chicago Municipal Elections 2011
    New from DSA

    1. Politics

    It's Time to End the Death Penalty
    The War at Home: Fighting for Jobs and Housing in Chicago
    First Let's Burn All the Witches
    Confusing Dissent with Terrorism
    Illinois Labor History

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Mondragon and the US Steelworkers Partnership: an Update

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    Chicago Municipal Elections 2011
    It's not a comprehensive list of endorsements and endorsements from individuals are often more influencial than from organizations, but most of the major unions and a few conservative organizations are represented. And it's as complete a listing of candidate campaign web sites as you're likely to find anywhere. All at chicagodsa.org!

    New from DSA



    Politics

    It's Time to End the Death Penalty
    We are but a signature away from repealing the death penalty in Illinois. Governor Quinn campaigned as a supporter of the death penalty. He is under pressure from prosecutors, some members of law enforcement and some family members of murder victims from across the country, to veto SB3539, the bill to repeal the death penalty.

    Twenty people in Illinois have been exonerated for the crimes that put them on death row ~ some within days of their scheduled execution.

    Please call Governor Quinn at 217.782.0244 (Springfield) or 312.814.2121 (Chicago) and urge him to sign SB3539, the bill that will end the execution process in Illinois. When you call, let them know where you live in Illinois. Tell them this is the just solution to a broken system.

    The War at Home: Fighting for Jobs and Housing in Chicago
    Chicago's unemployment rate: 9%

    In African American communities on the south and west side male unemployment is well over 40 percent. The crisis in jobs has contributed to a serious housing crisis that has seen thousands of people losing their homes across the city.

    There were over 50,000 filings for tenant evictions last year. In 2010 there was an 150% increase in foreclosure filings from 2006. Our government came to the rescue of Wall Street and we are still struggling in the aftermath of the crisis they created. Recently, banks have been exposed for not even having the right documentation to prove they own the homes they are taking away from families! They have taken our jobs, our homes, our savings and our hopes for a better future! It's time to fight back.

    Come to an important discussion about the economic and housing crisis in Chicago and how you can get involved in the movement to fight against it: Thursday, February 10, 6 PM, at Workers United Hall, 333 S. Ashland Ave, Chicago.

    First Let's Burn All the Witches

    "Frances Fox Piven is not going into hiding. Not yet.

    "The 78-year-old leftwing academic is the latest hate figure for Fox News host Glenn Beck and his legion of fans. While she has decided to shrug off the inevitable death threats that have followed, she is well aware of the problem. "I don't know if I am scared, but I am worried," she told the Observer as she sat in a bar on Manhattan's Upper West Side." Read More.

    Frances Fox Piven, an Honorary Chair of DSA, has been the target of a right-wing hate campaign for a few years now around a delusional interpretation of a 1966 article she had written for The Nation. Piven observed that the poor generally were receiving far less in the way of benefits than they were legally entitled to receive. Enrolling them for what they were entitled might, she speculated, create a crisis that could be used to replace welfare with... a guaranteed national income: a program any number of conservatives have endorsed as an alternative to welfare. You can read it HERE.

    So how did this "Cloward - Piven" strategy become the latest frenzy on the right? Last April, Richard Kim at The Nation provided a history. He begins:

    "Leftists like to say that another world is possible, but I was never quite sure of that until I started reading tea party websites. There, a government of leftists is not only possible, it's on the cusp of seizing permanent power, having broken American capitalism and replaced it with a socialist state. Down that rabbit hole, Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel are communists, and "The Left"--which encompasses everyone from the Democratic Leadership Council to Maoist sectarians--is a disciplined and near omnipotent army marching in lockstep to a decades-old master plan for domination called the "Cloward-Piven strategy" or, as of January 20, 2009, 'Cloward-Piven government.'" Read More.

    For less snark, more anger, and an update, see Peter Dreier's account at Dissent, HERE.

    Ah, but facts be damned! The conservative willing to let reality moderate an otherwise royal rant is an unusual bird indeed.

    Confusing Dissent with Terrorism
    Retired FBI Special Agent, famous whistleblower, former congressional candidate and current civil liberties activist Coleen Rowley explains how by conflating dissent with terrorism, law enforcement agencies in the post-9/11 world have compromised not only our basic constitutional rights, but also our safety. In the wake of the FBI's raids on activists in Chicago and Minneapolis -- and the troubling decision by the Supreme Court decision in last year's Holder v Humanitarian Law Project case -- it is clear that even the loopiest provisions of the Patriot Act will now be aggressively enforced. If the FBI and other agences cannot be quickly reined in, we are almost certain to re-experience the abuses of COINTELPRO during the Vietnam era, when militarist impulses were turned inward on U.S. citizens. And this over-zealous policing will only add more information to an already flooded intelligence system. The result will be more harassment and less prevention. CLICK HERE.

    The Committee to Stop FBI Repression reports 350 gathered outside the Dirksen Federal Building on January 25 to protest the grand jury. More details plus links to press coverage HERE. February 1 is a national call-in day to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, Attorney General Eric Holder, and President Obama. For more details CLICK HERE. If you'd like to become more involved in this fight, a regional organizing conference will be held in Chicago on Saturday, February 12, from Noon to 5 PM, followed by an evening fundraiser at the Heartland Cafe. More information is available HERE.

    Illinois Labor History
    The Illinois Labor History Society has redesigned its web site. While the old URL still works, the new address is http://www.illinoislaborhistory.org. Check it out.



    Democratic Socialism

    Mondragon and the US Steelworkers Partnership: an Update
    In the latest Grassroots Economic Organizing Newsletter, Christina Clamp reports about the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation's

    "collaboration with the United Steelworkers of America (USW) to identify and convert 5 steel companies to a worker co-op form of ownership. Since the USW/MCC partnership was announced last October, the USW has been working to identify potential companies for conversions. Ten companies are under consideration.

    "MCC is interested in this partnership since it has been difficult to access North American markets. The partnership has great potential for both partners -- better market access for the MCC; and, preserving and growing membership for the USW. MCC has well established cooperatives in the steel industry such as Fagor, Ederlan and Arrasate. The collaboration will be able to join the MCC's established global markets." Read More.



    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, February 4, Noon
    First Friday Action for Jobs
    Thompson Center State of Illinois Building, Randolph & Clark, Chicago
    On the occasion of the Labor Department's release of job creation statistics, join Chicago Jobs with Justice and others demanding jobs NOW. More information.

    Thursday, February 10, 6 PM
    The War at Home: Fighting for Jobs and Housing in Chicago
    Workers United Hall, 333 S. Ashland Ave, Chicago
    A discussion about the economic and housing crisis in Chicago and how you can get involved in the movement to fight against it. More information.

    Saturday, February 12, Noon
    Chicago Regional Organizing Conference to Stop FBI Repression
    300 S. Ashland Ave, Chicago
    Regional organizing conference of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression. More information.

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

    Sunday, February 13, 11:15 AM
    Cornel West
    St. Sabina Church, 1210 W. 78th Place, Chicago
    Service, Celebrating Black History Month with Cornel West. More Information.


    New Ground #134.2

    02.15.2011

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Chicago Municipal Election
    Their Crisis, Our Pain

    1. Politics

    Illinois Deserves a Raise
    Wal-Mart Redux
    The State of Working America
    Labor Rights in Mexico

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Norway: Capitalists and Socialists
    Interviews with Karl Marx

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    Chicago Municipal Election
    Chicago DSA has assembled one of the more complete portals to candidate's web sites. The page also includes the candidate endorsements of a cross-section of political organizations, albeit heavy on labor: AFSCME Council 31, Citizen Action/Illinois, Chicago Federation of Labor, Chicago Police Sargents Association, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Cook County College Teachers Union, Chicago Teachers Union, Democracy for America, For a Better Chicago, Fraternal Order of Police, Green Party, Teamsters Joint Council 25, IVI-IPO, Log Cabin Republicans, Personal PAC, Sierra Club, SEIU Illinois, and Young Republicans. We may be adding a few more this week. CLICK HERE.

    Their Crisis, Our Pain
    On the weekend of March 18th-20th, the Young Democratic Socialists will be holding its annual Winter outreach conference. Dr. Cornel West will be the featured speaker on Saturday the 19th, and we will also host Nation editor Liza Featherstone, Glenn Beck attacked community activist Bertha Lewis, radical journalist Mark Engler, and Dan Cantor from the Working Families Party. Panels on race, the environment, organizing, and other topics will allow participants to learn from and communicate with fellow activists on some of the most important domestic and international issues. The event is perfect for both newcomers to Democratic Socialism and YDS, as well as veterans activists. For more information or to register, CLICK HERE.



    Politics

    Illinois Deserves a Raise
    An ad hoc coalition of groups under the banner "Raise Illinois" is coming together to advocate a raise in Illinois' minimum wage. Illinois' current minimum wage is $8.25, less for tipped employees, and excludes agricultural, domestic, and teen-aged employees. The proposal, introduced in the Illinois Senate as SB1565, basically restores the minimum wage to the equivalent of its 1968 high -- about $10 in today's money. The bill also expands the population of workers covered by the minimum wage and increases the penalties for violating the law.

    At a Springfield press conference, Ron Baiman pointed out that raising the minimum wage would boost the economy by giving people more to spend.

    Chicago DSA has endorsed the campaign and we ask for your support. Right now, the best thing you can do is to write or call your state legislators. Or you can also sign an online petition. For information on doing the former or to do the latter, CLICK HERE.

    Back in Chicago, the "Stable Jobs Stable Airports Ordinance" is pending in the City Council (also see "Airport Workers Seek Living Wage"). The ordinance extends Chicago's Living Wage to airport concession employees, though this is possibly the lesser part of the bill. Periodically, the concession contracts at the airports come up for renewal, and the ordinance requires new concessionaires to keep the employees of the concessions they replace for at least 90 days (a 90 work day trial period). Rather more controversially, the ordinance requires collective bargaining and outlaws strikes. Be careful what you wish for, folks.

    Wal-Mart Redux
    When Chicago opposition to Wal-Mart essentially collapsed last year, Wal-Mart had been promising union construction jobs -- lots of them. Well, now that we come to it, maybe not: CLICK HERE.

    The State of Working America
    The Economic Policy Institute has updated its "State of Working America" web site to include a very cool interactive chart that illustrates changes in income distribution between 1917 and 2008; you choose the time period. For example, between 2000 and 2007, average incomes in the U.S. grew by $1,460; all the growth went to the richest 10% and the income for the rest of us declined. The site also includes reports on the Great Recession, the Economic Landscape, and Inequality. Apart from some valuable content, it's a great example of nice web site design. Unfortunately, a similar site for Illinois is no longer being updated.

    Labor Rights in Mexico
    Four Global Union Federations -- IMF, ICEM, ITF and UNI -- have called on their affiliated unions to take action at embassies and consulates around the world to protest the violation of freedom of association in Mexico. In Chicago, the Steelworkers are coordinating a picket outside the Mexican Consulate, 204 S. Ashland in Chicago, on February 19 at 10:30 AM. For more information, CLICK HERE or CLICK HERE and to join a LabourStart campaign in support, CLICK HERE.



    Democratic Socialism

    Norway: Capitalists and Socialists
    Norway is the land of high taxes, burdensome regulations, and outrageous social welfare, according to conservatives. It's also crawling with start-ups. Inc Magazine sent reporter Max Chafkin to find out what's going on.

    Interviews with Karl Marx
    Back in 2003, Prospect Magazine published this imaginary interview of Karl Marx by Donald Sassoon, focusing on a retrospective look at the influence of Marx's ideas. Available to subscribers, it's reposted HERE.

    More recently (January), New Statesman published "Diss Capital" by Paul Mason, an imaginary interview with Karl Marx on the current economic crisis. You can read it 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.

    Thursday, February 17, 11 AM
    Stop the Attack on Mental Health Clinics
    City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle 5th Floor, Chicago
    Press conference by the Mental Health Movement to demand all mayoral candidates keep clinics open, restore cuts, and don't privatize. Information.

    Thursday, February 17, 7 PM to 9 PM
    Education and Activism
    Barbara's Bookstore, 1218 S. Halstead, Chicago
    Discussion and book signing.

    Saturday, February 19, 10:30 AM
    Support Labor Rights
    Mexican Consulate, 204 S. Ashland, Chicago
    Four Global Union Federations -- IMF, ICEM, ITF and UNI -- have called on their affiliated unions to take action at embassies and consulates around the world to protest the violation of freedom of association in Mexico. Information.

    Saturday, February 19, 1:30 PM to 9 PM
    2011: Which Way Forward?
    Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago
    Illinois Coalition for Justice, Peace & the Environment's 16th annual conference. Information.

    Saturday, February 19, 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM
    The Lack of Critical Education
    Lincoln Park Library, 1150 W. Fullerton, Chicago
    Dr. Fabricio Balcazar examines some of the basic tenets of Brazilian pedagogy theorist Paulo Freire. An Open University of the Left event.

    Thursday, February 24, 9:30 AM to Friday, February 25, 4 PM
    Does Marx Still Matter?
    Lewis University Sancta Alberta, 1 University Parkway, Romeoville
    16th Annual Lewis University Philosophy Conference. Free and open to the public. Information.

    Sunday, February 27, 2 PM
    "The Dark Side of Chocolate"
    Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St, Oak Park
    Oak Park Coaliton for Truth and Justice monthly film series. Information.


    New Ground #134.3

    03.01.2011

    Contents

    0. Politics

    Rally in Solidarity with Wisconsin Labor by Bob Roman
    The American Taliban

    2. Democratic Socialism

    The Bolivarian Revolution Turns 12
    Participatory Budgeting from Brazil to Chicago

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest



    Politics

    Rally in Solidarity with Wisconsin Labor
    by Bob Roman
    It was twenty minutes before the Saturday Noon beginning of the rally in solidarity with Wisconsin workers. I had just arrived in a clot of a dozen or so off a CTA Blue Line train. For some of them, downtown Chicago was unfamiliar territory, slightly intimidating, and they navigated uncertainly. We emerged from the subway station to find a rally already in progress. A few hundred people had already gathered in the plaza in front of the Thompson Center within the Loop in downtown Chicago. To fill the time before the official start, the organizers had opened the microphone to everyone wishing to speak.

    By the time the rally began, the plaza was nearly full, and organizers announced about 2,000 people were present.

    Citizen Action/Illinois Co-Director William McNary served as the rally's master of ceremonies, and he was one of the more spectacular speakers at the event. AFSCME Council 31 Deputy Director and International Vice President Roberta Lynch was also one of the better speakers, providing details about the ongoing confrontation in Madison, Wisconsin. The crowd cheered her assertion that "Whether you are a member of a labor union or not, we are all members of the labor movement now."

    Other speakers at the rally included U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, Illinois Federation of Labor Secretary Treasurer Tim Drea, Illinois State Senator Don Harmon, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 President Robert Kelly, and Illinois Federation of Teachers President Daniel Montgomery. Moveon.org and the Sierra Club also provided good speakers.

    While all of the speakers were able to defend the labor movement, none were able to provide a narrative that advocates the labor movement. This is not a new failure, and the inability of most participants to sing anything but the chorus of "Solidarity Forever" is but one symptom of it.

    It is important to be clear about two things. One is that the labor movement will be badly damaged by the next two years. The attack on labor is ongoing in all 50 states (even Illinois), at every level of government, with measures as spectacularly radical as Wisconsin to obscure contracting regulations. The attack is unprecedented in its scope. Most of this attack does not need to succeed to badly injure labor. The other is that labor will abide; not even the Chilean dictator Pinochet was able to totally destroy unions in Chile. Wisconsin Governor Walker is no Pinochet. Yet.

    The rally was organized in a matter of days through email, social networks, and personal contacts. It was a passionate rally, very heavily populated by union members instead of just the "usual suspects." And that is why it is reasonable to hope. If this level of passion and determination and mobilization can be sustained beyond the immediate fights in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio, then we will indeed have witnessed the birth of a new movement. Otherwise it will be a glorious defeat.

    A version of this article appeared earlier in Talking Union.

    Progress Illinois: Roberta Lynch
    Progress Illinois: Protesters speak out
    Progress Illinois: Senator Durbin

    The American Taliban
    Not all democratic socialists are Pro-Choice, but what happened to Planned Parenthood is pretty extreme. The House passed a bill to bar Planned Parenthood from all federal funding for any purpose whatsoever. That means no funding to Planned Parenthood health centers for birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, HIV testing, and other essential care. Find out how your representative voted, CLICK HERE.



    Democratic Socialism

    The Bolivarian Revolution Turns 12
    This retrospective by Gregory Wilpert begins as if it were a work of hagiography, but ends up as a reasonably balanced if sympathetic assessment of Venezuela's experiment in socialism. CLICK HERE.

    Participatory Budgeting from Brazil to Chicago
    From Updsidedown World:

    "For more than 20 years, the people of Porto Alegre, Brazil have been directly determining how the city spends it's money. The process is called participatory budgeting and it is practiced in more than 1,200 municipalities worldwide today. Chicago's 49th Ward became the first US community to adopt the practice in 2009, and is now repeating the process again this year. We speak to Ines Sommer, a filmmaker and resident of the ward about the process thus far." MORE.



    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, March 3, 7 PM to
    International Sex Workers Rights Day
    T's Bar back room, 5025 N. Clark, Chicago
    Sponsored by SWOP - Chicago. Information.

    Friday, March 4, Noon
    Action for Jobs
    Thompson Center, Randolph and Clark, Chicago
    Chicago Jobs with Justice demonstration to demand a jobs program. Information.

    Saturday, March 5, 2:30 PM
    A New Age of Austerity & Resistance in Wisconsin
    Lincoln Park Library, 1150 W. Fullerton, Chicago
    An Open University of the Left event featuring David Williams and Earl Silbar on the events in Wisconsin and prospects for the future.

    Sunday, March 6, 2 PM to 5 PM
    Reenact 1905 Hunger March
    Hull-House Museum, 800 S. Halsted, Chicago
    A Pocket Guide to Hell tour. The march begins outside the museum and ends at Halsted & Madison. For information HERE and HERE.

    Monday, March 7, 6 PM to 8 PM
    International Women's Day Celebration
    University Conference Center, 525 S State Street, Chicago
    Featuring Jacqueline Fequiére Morette, President of the United Women's Association of Pouille, a rural area in Haiti's central plateau region. Information.

    Tuesday, March 8, 6 PM
    Art and Civic Engagement
    Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St, Chicago
    Panel discussion of art and social change. Information here and here.

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

    Saturday, March 12, 5:30 PM
    Action at the Monarch Ball
    Fairmont Hotel, 200 N. Columbus, Chicago
    Demonstration in support of justice for employees of Resurrection Health Care. For information, call Jo Patton 312.641.6060x4377, also see Reform Resurrection.

    Sunday, March 13, 10 AM to Noon
    Clarence Darrow and the Death Penalty
    The Darrow Bridge in Jackson Park, Chicago
    Annual Clarence Darrow Event, this year featuring Edward Mogul and Joey Mogul. Information.

    Friday, March 18 through Sunday March 20
    Their Crisis, Our Pain
    Bayard Rustin High School, 351 W 18th St, New York, NY
    Young Democratic Socialists' annual winter outreach conference. Information.

    Saturday, March 19, Noon
    8th Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq
    Michigan & Congress, Chicago
    March and rally to protest the wars. Information.


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