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New Ground 140

January - February, 2012

Contents

  • Making the Other America Visible by Michael Baker
  • We Won! by Michael Baker
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • Healthcare Atrocity: Boycott Hyatt Hotels
    Talkin' Socialism
    Speaking of Socialism
    Job Opportunity: Executive Director

    New Ground 140.1 -- 01.19.2012

    0. DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism: Whither the Economy?
    The Return of the Left
    Democratic Left

    1. Politics

    Child Labor by Michael Baker
    People Over Profits, Please...
    Sit Down and Shut Up
    Stand Up to Mortgage Fraudsters
    Right-Wing Crazy Corner by Michael Baker

    2. People

    Timuel Black

    3. Democratic Socialism

    Feminism, Women's Movements, and Women in Movement
    Four Futures

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 140.2 -- 02.02.2012

    0. DSA News

    Return of the Left
    Socialist International Council Meeting

    1. Politics

    Ruckus in Chicago
    CME: We're Full, Thank You
    Cleaning Up Tax Increment Financing
    Safe, Decent, and Affordable
    You're Fired!
    Verizon
    Right-Wing Crazy Corner by Michael Baker

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Social-Demotopia
    Concepts, Real Life & the Working Class
    Life Is Possible After Capitalism

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 140.3 -- 02.15.2012

    0. DSA News

    Save the Date
    Arrests!
    Cornel West

    1. Politics

    A Living Wage Haunts Oak Park
    Why Is There so Little Respect for Hard Work?
    It's Still the Economy
    Illinois Primary Elections
    Another Victory

    2. Ars Politica

    Happy Birthday Nelson Algren!

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 140.4 -- 03.01.2012

    0. DSA News

    The Return of the Democratic Left on Video

    1. Politics

    A Living Wage for Oak Park!
    Rx for Busted Budgets
    ATMI Precast Workers Vote UNION! by Bill Barclay
    The 99% Spring
    International Women's Day

    2. Ars Politica

    Save Old St. Paul's for the Community

    3. Democratic Socialism

    Talkin' Socialism

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest


    Making the Other America Visible

    by Michael Baker

    As many readers of New Ground will be aware, the 50th anniversary of the publication of Michael Harrington's The Other America is fast approaching. As we consider how best to celebrate and commemorate this anniversary, I propose that we do so through activist work addressing one of the book's central motifs -- that the poor are invisible.

    Harrington wrote, "that the poor are invisible is one of the most important things about them. They are not simply neglected and forgotten ... what is much worse, they are not seen." By invisible, Harrington meant both that the poor are visually not seen and that they are absent from political discourse.

    Harrington cites various reasons why the poor are visually not seen such as isolation in rural and urban areas, confinement to the home due to age or illness, and a romantic view of poverty by many in society that masks the suffering of the poor. Of course, the world has changed since The Other America was published in 1962 and, unfortunately, not necessarily for the better, as the reach of poverty may have become even more expansive and intractable. This fact was acknowledged by Harrington himself in an interview in 1988 on the Open Mind and was probably expressed by him elsewhere. As a result, in citing the hidden victims of poverty today, we could include many denizens of the suburbs, which in Harrington's book represent the antipode of poverty, for many suburban homes, when they do not have foreclosure signs in the front yards, give the appearance of middle-class comfort while the refrigerators inside are nearly barren.

    With regard to the political invisibility of the poor, Harrington writes,

    "It is one of the cruelest ironies of social life in advanced countries that the dispossessed at the bottom of society are unable to speak for themselves. The people of the other America do not, by far and large, belong to unions, to fraternal organizations, or to political parties. They are without lobbies of their own; they put forward no legislative program. As a group, they are atomized. They have no face; they have no voice."

    A thoughtful person cannot help but notice that, particularly given the current calamitous state of our economy, how absent the poor are from our stultified political discourse. Politicians of all stripes utter bathetic expressions of concern about the struggles of the "middle class," but rarely does one hear them mention the poor, the most deafening silence coming from ostensible liberals and progressives. When the poor are mentioned, the depictions of them are all too often oblique caricatures drawn by cynical, ersatz racist invectives. The recrudescent Newt Gingrich offers a typical example when he labeled President Obama "the most successful food stamp president in American history." (Though a bit of a digression, most New Ground readers will be well aware that President Obama has done little for the poor and has, in fact, expressed his disdain for them; that the majority of poor people in the United States, and therefore food stamp recipients, are White; and that food stamps are a far more effective means of stimulating the economy than tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations.)

    So in what kind of activist work could we engage to make the poor more visible? I would propose a project that has two components: (1) a traditional educational campaign and (2) direct action.

    The main objective of the educational campaign would be to bring the poor into the political discourse by educating the public about the poor and poverty. Examples of what such an educational campaign could include are:

    Conveying who the poor are. As we know, the poor do not fit the crude stereotypes pervasive in our culture, particularly such perdurable, base myths as that of Reagan's Black "welfare queen" driving a Cadillac. Many Americans likely would be quite surprised to learn that, contrary to racist stereotypes, there are more White Americans in poverty than Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics (any race) combined. The U.S. Census Bureau's The Research Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2010 documents this quite clearly through both the official poverty measure and the newer Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). Facts like these could help change the face of poverty in the minds of many Americans.

    Communicating the magnitude of the problem. Most people in the United States do not appreciate the extent of poverty, particularly amongst children. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book, in 2009, 42% of children were living in low-income families (families with incomes of twice the official poverty line), and 20% of children were living in families with incomes at or below the ludicrously conservative official poverty line. Many people would find these figures shocking, especially if they are asked to consider all the disadvantages poverty poses for children and what the consequences of this aggregation of disadvantage bodes for the future.

    Dispelling romantic delusions. Unfortunately, there are still some people in the United States who hold ignorant, idealistic views about poverty. There is nothing romantic about poverty, except, perhaps, for those upper-class White kids who enjoy the affectation of "slumming" in an urban area for a year or two after college, living out their bohemian fantasies, before moving back to the suburbs. People need to understand the devastating consequences poverty has for those it affects as well as for the rest of society, and due to the latter, people should be interested in eliminating poverty out of their own self-interest if for no other reason.

    Imparting the grossness of disparity. The vast majority of Americans do not understand how gross the disparity in income is. This disconnect was illustrated in a study by Michael I. Norton and Dan Ariely titled "Building a Better America-One Wealth Quintile at a Time" that was widely circulated amongst lefty circles on the Internet. Many New Ground reader probably encountered it. The study demonstrates that the vast majority of Americans, regardless of income and political beliefs, vastly underestimate the level of wealth inequality in the United States and agree that a more equitable distribution, similar to that of Sweden, is preferable. Clearly, an important educational opportunity exists here.

    Blaming the system. Many people do not understand that poverty is not exogenous to or an anomaly in the capitalist system. As a result, people need to be educated about the true nature of capitalism, that disparity and poverty are inherent, necessary parts of the system and, accordingly, that there is no way to completely solve the problem of poverty without fundamentally changing the system.

    Advocating appropriate policies. DSA has this one covered.

    No doubt the creative and informed readers of New Ground could come up with many other worthwhile educational topics.

    The main of objective of the direct action campaign, though it would certainly be educational too, would be to literally make the poor visible. The direct action approach I would suggest is Food Not Bombs-type food serves in public spaces accessible by the poor. For those who are not familiar with Food Not Bombs, the following description is taken from the Food Not Bombs web site:

    "Food Not Bombs is gaining momentum throughout the world. There are hundreds of autonomous chapters sharing free vegetarian food with hungry people and protesting war and poverty. Food Not Bombs is not a charity. This energetic all volunteer grassroots movement is active throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. For over 30 years the movement has worked to end hunger and has supported actions to stop the globalization of the economy, restrictions to the movements of people, end exploitation and the destruction of the earth and its beings.

    "The first group was formed in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1980 by anti-nuclear activists. Food Not Bombs is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to nonviolent social change. Food Not Bombs has no formal leaders and strives to include everyone in its decision making process. Each group recovers food that would otherwise be thrown out and makes fresh hot vegan and vegetarian meals that are served in outside in public spaces to anyone without restriction. Many Food Not Bombs groups also share groceries and organize other efforts to support their communities. Each independent group also serves free meals at protests and other events."

    I was involved with Chicago Food Not Bombs for a number of years and know that this form of direct action works. The food serves fulfill a real need (providing food to those who are hungry), expose otherwise hidden deprivation by publicly meeting real human needs, and offer a scathing critique of capitalism by linking the resources from which some people are necessarily deprived by the system with the people from whom they are deprived. Of course, the latter also exposes the gross waste in the capitalist system since these desperately needed resources would have otherwise ended up in the waste stream.

    These food serves are just one idea for direct action. No doubt New Ground readers could think of others.

    Harrington wrote that "the millions who are poor in the United States tend to become increasingly invisible. Here is a great mass of people, yet it takes an effort of the intellect and will even to see them". With creative action, we can celebrate and commemorate The Other America by making them more visible.

    Sources

  • Michael Harrington. The Other America: Poverty in the United States. New York: Touchstone, 1997.
  • Michael Harrington: The Long Distance Runner." Open Mind. 6 July 1988. http://www.archive.org/details/openmind_ep637
  • "Newt Gingrich Remarks." C-SPAN Video Library. 13 May 2011. http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/NewtGingrich
  • The Annie E. Cassey Foundation. 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book. 2011. http://www.aecf.org/~/media/Pubs/Initiatives/KIDS%20COUNT/123/2011KIDSCOUNTDataBook/KCDataBook2011.pdf
  • U.S. Bureau of the Census. The Research Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2010. Prepared by Kathleen S. Short. November 2011. http://www.census.gov/hhes/povmeas/methodology/supplemental/research/Short_ResearchSPM2010.pdf
  • Michael I. Norton and Dan Ariely. "Building a Better America-One Wealth Quintile at a Time."Perspectives on Psychological Science 6 (2011): 9-12. http://www.people.hbs.edu/mnorton/norton%20ariely.pdf
  • "The Story of Food Not Bombs." Food Not Bombs website, accessed 14 December 2011. http://www.foodnotbombs.net/story.html

  • We Won

    by Michael Baker


    Other News

    compiled by Bob Roman

    Healthcare Atrocity: Boycott Hyatt Hotels

    After more than two years of contract negotiations, crisis looms as Hyatt threatens to strip health insurance from 1500 Chicago workers and their families unless they give up their fight and abandon their boycotts. In so doing, Hyatt is forcing workers to choose between their families' immediate medical needs and a fight for their long-term survival.

    In negotiations, Hyatt has refused to budge on crucial demands to curb subcontracting and ease working conditions for housekeepers -- demands met by Hilton and other hotel employers citywide. In response, Hyatt workers have stood up and made tough sacrifices by striking and calling for hotel boycotts. By some accounts, UNITE HERE's organizing efforts at other Hyatt facilities has also been an issue in the Chicago negotiations.

    Hyatt's original threat to discontinue health insurance was to begin January 1. After UNITE HERE Local 1 and Local 450 called a press conference, Hyatt moved the deadline back 60 days. To increase the pressure, UNITE HERE called for an informational picket outside of Hyatt's International HQ on Franklin just west of the Loop on December 15. Several hundred turned out for the late afternoon demonstration. At least 6 DSA members took part. There was also a good turn out from other Chicago unions, including AFSCME and SEIU.

    By the time you read this, one hopes this will be resolved. If not, boycott Hyatt hotels. The outcome of this fight will have implications for service sector organizing for years to come, and not just for UNITE HERE. For more information, go to http://www.hotelworkersrising.org . For online activists, there's a link to urge the Hyatt company to do the right thing.

    Talkin' Socialism

    Episode 11, in which Chicago DSA's Peg Strobel interviews Gaylon Alcaraz and Veronica Arreola about the Chicago Abortion Fund, is now on the web. Of particular interest is the unique way in which the Chicago Abortion Fund combines reproductive health with community organizing. You can now subscribe to Talkin' Socialism using an RSS feed. And beginning with Episode 10, Michael Aubry's interview with Bill Pelz, the program is now available through Apple's iTunes store. Go to http://northshoredsa.org/talkin_socialism.html.

    Speaking of Socialism

    At the end of December, the Pew Research Center released an update on an ongoing survey of how the American public reacts to ideological labels. The bad news is that for all the media coverage generated by Occupy Wall Street, public attitudes have not shifted much: "perceptions of capitalism -- and even of socialism -- have changed little since early 2010 despite the recent tumult." This means, of course, that for us lefties the glass is less than half full. Some 60% have a negative reaction to the term "socialism."

    The good news is that, as you might expect, people with less income react more favorably (43% @ >$30k), as do people that self-identify as "Democrats" (59%). Likewise, younger people have a more favorable reaction. 72% of those over 65 have an unfavorable reaction, as did 90% of those self-identified as "Republican."

    So how can a lefty or a liberal get by? Well, even 55% of people self-identifying as "Republicans" like the label "progressive." With numbers like that, though, even some conservatives might start calling themselves Progressive.

    For all the numbers, including reactions to liberal, conservative, capitalism, libertarian, and more, go to http://www.people-press.org/2011/12/28/little-change-in-publics-response-to-capitalism-socialism/ .

    Job Opportunity: Executive Director

    Last April, 2011, Rev. Alexander E. Sharp , Protestants for the Common Good Executive Director, announced his decision to step down from his position no later than June 30. He expects to devote his work full-time to drug policy reform both in Illinois and in other states. The PCG Search Committee, comprised of PCG Board members, is currently seeking applications for the position of Executive Director. Procedures for applying are noted at http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/515/content_item/jobopportunity


    New Ground #140.1

    01.19.2012

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism: Whither the Economy?
    The Return of the Left
    Democratic Left

    1. Politics

    Child Labor by Michael Baker
    People Over Profits, Please...
    Sit Down and Shut Up
    Stand Up to Mortgage Fraudsters
    Right-Wing Crazy Corner by Michael Baker

    2. People

    Timuel Black

    3. Democratic Socialism

    Feminism, Women's Movements, and Women in Movement
    Four Futures

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism: Whither the Economy?
    Chicago Political Economy Group economists Ron Baiman and Bill Barclay read the entrails in Episode 12 of Chicago DSA's mostly monthly podcast HERE. (MP3, 31 MB)

    The Return of the Left
    The Young Democratic Socialists' Winter Conference will be held February 17 through 19 at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, NY. For all the juicy details, including registration, CLICK HERE.

    Democratic Left
    The Winter issue of Democratic Left is posted to the web HERE. (PDF)



    Politics

    Child Labor
    by Michael Baker

    In the Republican presidential contest to see who can be the zaniest character in the clown car, Punchinello extraordinaire Newt Gingrich sent up a trial balloon from which even some on the right are distancing themselves -- the relaxing of child labor laws.

    On 18 November at the Kennedy School Government, Gingrich proposed a plan ostensibly to help poor children earn money and develop a strong work ethic by having them to clean their schools. He stated,

    "It is tragic what we do to the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in child laws, which are truly stupid. Saying to people you shouldn't go to work before you're 14, 16. You're totally poor, you're in a school that's failing with a teacher that's failing. These schools should get rid of unionized janitors, have one master janitor, pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work; they'd have cash; they'd have pride in the schools. They'd begin the process of rising." (Liptak)

    So according to Gingrich's reasoning, children are trapped in poverty due to big, bad government's intrusive, overreaching child-labor laws, and children in poor neighborhoods are not proud of their schools because they do not get paid to clean them. And I always thought that childhood poverty was a complex social-economic problem that would require billions of dollars and years of hard work to remediate and could only be completely solved by a fundamental transformation of our economic system.

    To the dismay of that most endangered of species, moderate Republicans, who hoped that Gingrich's proposal was a poor imitation of a stunt by The Yes Men or of Swift's A Modest Proposal, Gingrich repeated his wacky brainstorm during the 10 December Republican debate in Iowa, stating that children should replace union janitors in the New York public schools (Rosenkrantz). Too bad for the moderates.

    Perhaps, a slight reworking of William Blake's "The Chimney Sweeper" would tickle Gingrich's fancy:

    When my mother died I was very young,
    And my father sold me while yet my tongue
    Could scarcely cry 'weep weep! weep weep!'
    So my school I sweep & and in soot I sleep.

    One might be inclined not to take Gingrich's ludicrous proposal seriously, but unfortunately, he is not just some rogue right-winger off on a tangent. Rather he has become the de facto leader of a broader right-wing push to rollback child-labor laws. Holly Rosenkrantz from the Bloomberg News explores this trend in her 20 December article "Newt Gingrich Leads Push to Ease Child-Labor Laws" stating, "Republican governors and state lawmakers, who succeeded this year in curbing union powers, are pushing to revise their child-labor laws to help companies such as groceries get workers." Rosenkrantz notes that Wisconsin and Maine have already changed their laws. In Wisconsin, lawmakers increased the number of hours that can be worked by 16 and 17-year-olds. In Maine, lawmakers increased the number of hours teenagers can work and allowed companies to pay workers under the age of 20 a "training wage," thus, undercutting the state's minimum wage. Rosenkrantz explains, to no surprise, that lobbying groups representing the restaurant and grocery industries advocated lessening the restrictions on teenage labor in both states. Rosenkrantz quotes Dick Grotton, president of the Maine Restaurant Association, as stating, "How come it's OK, even exemplary, for teenagers to spend 40 hour a week in sports, glee club, chorus, debate society or any other select activity sanctioned by the social elite, but if you are a teenager who wants to work or needs to work, there are limits?" She quotes lobbyist for the Wisconsin Grocers Association, Michelle Kussow, as stating, "It wasn't like they [Maine and Wisconsin] were trying to overwork these kids or create a sweatshop. They just want to give kids that great first opportunity you get in a grocery store."

    Apparently, it's all just about helping the kids.

    Of all the appalling aspects of the right-wing push against child-labor laws, perhaps the most disconcerting is that a policy dilettante like Gingrich believes he has the social license to make such attacks. If he does, then this license is probably due to public ignorance or amnesia about labor history in the United States, one of the more gruesome chapters of which is the use of child labor.

    Our very own Eugene V. Debs labeled child labor the "barter of babes" - and for good reason ("The Socialist Party" 54). In order to give a flavor of that history, so that people might show the proper righteous indignation, the following are just a few descriptions of child labor from Mother Jones' autobiography:

    In the spring of 1903 I went to Kensington, Pennsylvania, where seventy-five thousand textile workers were on strike. Of this number at least ten thousand were children. The workers were striking for more pay and shorter hours. Every day little children came into Union Headquarters, some with their hands off, some with the thumb missing, some with their fingers off at the knuckle. They were stooped little things, round shouldered and skinny (71).

    Form the textile mills in Cottondale, Alabama:

    Little girls and boys, barefooted, walked up and down between the endless rows of spindles, reaching their thin little hands into the machinery to repair snapped threads. They crawled under machinery to oil it. They replaced spindles all day long, all day long; night through, night through. Tiny babies of six years old with faces of sixty did an eight-hour shift for ten cents a day. If they fell asleep, cold water was dashed in their faces, and the voice of the manager yelled above the ceaseless racket and whir of machines (119).

    From the Pennsylvania mines:

    I got to know the life of the breaker boys. The coal was hoisted to a cupola where it was ground. It then came rattling down in chutes beside which, ladder-wise, sat little breaker boys whose job it was to pick out the slate from the coal as the black rivers flowed by. Ladders and ladders of little boys sat in the gloom of the breakers, the dust from the coal swirling continuously up in their faces. To see the slate they must bend over their task. Their shoulders were round. Their chests were narrow. A breaker boss watched the boys. He had a long stick to strike the knuckles of any lad seen neglecting his work. The fingers of the little boys bled, bled on to the coal. Their nails were out to the quick (129).

    No doubt, Gingrich, the lobbyists, and other right-wingers are not envisioning this type of child labor, at least not yet. However, this gruesome history illustrates why the public should be horrified and indignant about Gingrich and others' glib dismissal of child-labor laws.

    Perhaps, the next most disconcerting aspect of the right-wing push against child-labor laws is the magnitude of ignorance it suggests about the nature and causes of poverty. The underlying premise of Gingrich's proposal, of course, is the erroneous, tired accusation that the poor are poor because they lack a strong work ethic. Such a denunciation is particularly insulting coming from an establishment louche like Gingrich, who had such a strong work ethic about his Presidential campaign that his initial campaign staff quit en masse because of his sloth. Obviously, the working poor, parents working two more more jobs to make ends meet, and people unable to find work after months and years of searching don't need to be taught what a good work ethic is by such a boor. What struggling individuals and families lack is not a work ethic but access to jobs that pay a living wage, education and training opportunities, healthcare, and day care, and the fact that 16-years-olds have modest limits on how many hours they can flip burgers has little relationship to their families' social-economic predicament and certainly will not address the underlying issues around their families' poverty.

    Of course, there is educational value in young people learning about work and responsibility. The question is, given the limited time available to young people, does working more hours at a low-wage job, compared with other educational activities, best serve the interests of the majority of them. Michael Harrington touches on one of the reasons families transitioned from prioritizing work to education in his book Socialism: Past and Future:

    "Adolescence" was an innovation of the capitalist middle class. Prior to its creation, young people, except for the aristocrats among them, had gone to work as soon as they were physically able. Now the growing productivity of the economy allowed the better-off to exempt their children from that rule, and the growing sophistication of the economy made it rational to extend their education and defer their entry into the labor market. After World War II, both semiaffluence and the growing prestige of learning as an important "input" in the generation of wealth saw more and more young people participate in that trend. A youth culture came into being, and social-class divisions were intersected by new kinds of generational differences (256).

    For better or worse, our economy has only become more complex and sophisticated since Harrington wrote the above. As a result, most young people, particularly those who are economically disadvantaged, likely would be better served by receiving resources that enable them to participate in more educational activities than by more hours flipping burgers.

    Of course, Gingrich and the right-wing are not truly interested in helping the poor, so one should not be surprised that their ostensible proposal to do so is nonsense. The real objective of the expansion of teenage labor, as is evidenced by the grocery and restaurant lobbies' support of it, is to drive down the cost of labor by expanding the labor pool and undercutting the already paltry minimum wage.

    How cynical and repulsive it is for the right-wing to attempt to drive down wages and conditions for working people even further with absurd ideas like expanding child-labor under the guise of helping the poor. We need to confront these attacks on children and working people and treat them with the utter contempt that they deserve and advocate for policies that actually would help working people and the poor. The following are a few suggestions for the activities in which we might engage:

    • Oppose efforts to weaken child-labor laws. We should oppose, of course, any attempts to weaken child-labor laws. We also should educate people about the consequences of weakening such laws.
    • Promote labor education. We should educate people about labor history and support labor history organizations like the Illinois Labor History Society and the Institute of Working Class History.
    • Support union struggles. We should support workers on the picket line and workers attempting to organize as much as possible. Chicago DSA does a great deal of work in this area. If you would like to help, e-mail chiildsa@chicagodsa.org. We also should educate people about the importance and value of unions, as there is a great deal of misinformation on this issue. The Democratic Party of Evanston has a wonderful piece on this topic.
    • Advocate for increasing the minimum wage and for a living wage. In Illinois, we should agitate for passage of Senate Bill 1565, which would gradually increase the minimum wage over four years. People can sign the SB 1565 petition, HERE. We also should agitate for living wages in our communities and educate people about the economics of a living wage. Chicago DSA's Bill Barclay has a very helpful piece on the latter.
    • Promote passage of the Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act (HR 870). From OpenCongress.org, "This bill is designed to ensure full employment (i.e. 4% unemployment) after 10 years. It sets a series of unemployment targets that, if not met, would trigger the disbursement of funds from a 'National Full Employment Trust Fund,' which would be made up of revenue from a new financial transactions tax on financial corporations. The funds would be used for a direct jobs program that would immediately place unemployed people in public, non-profit and small business jobs in areas hardest hit by unemployment." Chicago DSA's Bill Barlcay did an article summarizing a previous introduction of the bill HERE.
    • Trade agreements. We should educate people about the consequences of so-called "free trade" agreements. DSA's "Renegotiate NAFTA" campaign is no longer active. However, the information about why NAFTA and free trade agreements are problematic is still very relevant. In addition to educating people about why current trade agreements are bad policy, we, of course, should oppose future such agreements, like CAFTA, and advocate for fair trade policies, instead of "free trade" policies.
    • Fight wasteful spending, particularly defense spending. So-called "defense" spending is a major obstacle to reducing unemployment and poverty. We should educate people about the astronomical size of our defense spending and ask people to think about how many jobs could be created if the defense budget were spend on socially good, labor intensive areas like day care, education, and housing.

     

    Sources:

    Kevin Liptak. "Gingrich: Laws Preventing Child Labor are 'Truly Stupid.'" CNN website, accessed 22 December 2011,

    Holly Rosenkrantz. "Newt Gingrich Leads Push to Ease Child-Labor Laws." San Francisco Chronicle website, accessed 22 December 2011,

    Eugene V. Debs. "The Socialist Party and the Working Class." The Eugene V. Debs Reader: Socialism and the Class Struggle. William A. Pelz, Editor. Chicago: Institute of Working Class History, 2000.

    Mother Jones. The Autobiography of Mother Jones. Mary Field Parton, Editor. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr, 1972.

    Michael Harrington. Socialism: Past and Future. New York: Arcade, 2011.

    "H.R.870 - Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act." Open Congress website, accessed 22 December 2011,

    People Over Profits, Please...
    You know Trader Joe's ­- the grocery chain that bills itself as an ethical alternative to the big-name stores? Well, it turns out they're not so friendly to the workers who pick the tomatoes they sell to us.

    Trader Joe's CEO is refusing to sign the Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a group of farm workers in Florida who have successfully pressured corporate giants like Taco Bell and McDonald's to agree to ensure that farm workers in their supply chains get treated humanely and get paid at least one penny more per pound of tomatoes they pick. Here are two things YOU can do.

    First, send a message to TJ CEO Dan Bane: CLICK HERE.

    Second, join us at the Trader Joe's in LaGrange on Saturday, January 21 from Noon to 1 PM, 25 North LaGrange Road in LaGrange. We will have handouts and signs. Laurel will bring manager letters and a small group will go inside to meet with the manager at the conclusion of the picket. Email Laurel at llambertschmidt@yahoo.com with questions or email Tom Broderick at tbroderick@printarts.com. Dress warm and turnout in support of these low-wage tomato pickers. Turnout for the Fair Food Movement.

     

    Sit Down and Shut Up
    Dispite considerable opposition, not just from the peace movement but also organized labor, two ordinances restricting the ability to protest in Chicago were passed by the City Council on Wednesday, January 18. This legislation was in response to protests planned for the NATO / G8 meetings that will be in Chicago in May. The Mayor also received a free hand in making contracts in connection with the meetings.

    Kari Leydersen's very good (including useful links) account at In These Times is HERE.

    Progress Illinois has video HERE.

    Check out Don Washington's typically scathing Mayoral Tutoral is HERE, and Andy Thayer's analysis of the legislation is HERE. (Note that the Chicago Indy Media site will be undergoing major revisions around the beginning of February, so this link may not work after that.)

    The Coalition Against NATO / G8 War and Poverty Agenda has a blog HERE and a resource web site HERE.

     

    Stand Up to Mortgage Fraudsters
    It's time for the Big Banks to bear responsibility for the financial crisis-and for fraud and abuse against homeowners across the country.
    The nation's state attorneys general are considering a settlement with the bankers, but there's a risk they'll let the people who tanked our economy off with a slap on the wrist. It's urgent we tell them we need a settlement that holds banks accountable for the damage they've done and helps homeowners. Will you write your state attorney general and the White House to let them know? CLICK HERE.

     

    Right-Wing Crazy Corner
    by Michael Baker
    In early January, one of our favorite political coquettes, Pat Robertson informed the world God told him who the next president will be -- but he's not going to tell who it is. Alas, since Pat is such a tease, we'll all have to go through the futile process of pseudo-democracy anyway.

    Just when we thought Ron Paul had the greatest market share on racism in the GOP presidential side-show, Rick Santorum made the following ostentatious comments to evince his racist credentials:

    Poor Rick. If he only read New Ground and listened to our podcast, Talkin' Socialism, he would be much better informed. As we noted in New Ground 140, the number of white people in poverty outnumbers that of all other race/ethnic groups combined, and an informed perspective on abortion and minority communities is available in our current episode of Talkin' Socialism.

    But Newt Gingrich, never one to be outdone by his peers, stated that if he were invited to the NAACP's annual convention, he would talk about "why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps."

    Alas, poor Newt and his food stamp fetish. Well, clearly Newt also could benefit from reading New Ground.

    Birther biggot and ecclectic right-wing conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi apparently has been so preoccupied with exposing the truth about Barack Obama and others that he lost track of the truth about his own work, as his 19 December WorldNetDaily (WND) "exclusive" article titled "Obama's legacy of broken promises ­ in Kenya" was apparently plagiarized.

    DSA-obsessed right-wing conspiracy theorist, Trevor Loudon penned a cri de coeur regarding the dangers of Obama's extremely modest military reductions, warning of an impending "all out war against the combined forces of Russia and its vassal states, China, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Iran, North Korea, and possibly several other major countries, including even Brazil, Mexico, India and Pakistan, and conceivably even Japan, Turkey, Egypt and Indonesia." Is this a real concern or a manifestation of a repressed orgiastic fantasy? You decide.

    At a rally for Republican presidential hopeful Mitty Romney on 8 January, Gov. Chris Christie was dutifully in tow to show his support for the uninspiring establishment candidate. Unfortunately for Romney and Christie, Occupy Wall Street protestors were also at the rally, chanting "Mitt kills jobs!" and "Christie kills jobs!" In response, Christie sneered and gave the protestors the minatory yet fatuous reply, "Really? You know, something may go down tonight, but it ain't gonna be jobs, sweetheart." Hmm. While we're not sure exactly what this inarticulate response means, we'll let such a cretinous remark stand as a statement on its own.

    Evangelical minister and pseudo-historian, David Barton has been busy promoting his soon-to-be-released book, The Jefferson Lies, in which he sets the record straight on Thomas Jefferson. As it turns out, Jefferson's beliefs and work actually conform to the religious right's agenda, and we've all be misled by "modern lies about Jefferson that have been concocted, promoted, and perpetuated by the Secular and Academic Left" (quote taken from the publisher's promotional blurb). Well, David should be an expert on historical distortions since he has been a propagator of so many of them.

    So you're thinking about voting for Ron Paul? There's a reason for that: DSA is in part responsible for duping Ron Paul into supporting defense cuts. It's all a conspiracy.


    People

    Timuel Black
    DSA member and Debs ­ Thomas ­ Harrington honoree Timuel Black donated his papers to the Chicago Public Library recently. You can read more about it at Mike Klonsky's Small Talk education blog.



    Democratic Socialism

    Feminism, Women's Movements, and Women in Movement
    is the theme of the latest issue of Interface, posted online last month and available HERE.

    Four Futures
    With the ongoing, accelerating pace of technological change, a post-economic society, a society liberated from scarcity, can seem at least plausible. Would it be utopia? At Jacobin Magazine, Chicago DSA expat Peter Frase writes:

    "One thing we can be certain of is that capitalism will end. Maybe not soon, but probably before too long; humanity has never before managed to craft an eternal social system, after all, and capitalism is a notably more precarious and volatile order than most of those that preceded it. The question, then, is what will come next. Rosa Luxemburg, reacting to the beginnings of World War I, cited a line from Engels: "Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to socialism or regression into barbarism." In that spirit I offer a thought experiment, an attempt to make sense of our possible futures. These are a few of the socialisms we may reach if a resurgent Left is successful, and the barbarisms we may be consigned to if we fail." 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.

    Saturday, January 21, 10 AM
    Funeral for Democracy
    Bank of America, Washington & Van Buren, Naperville
    Funeral procession for democracy on the two year anniversary of "Citizens United". MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, January 21, NOON to 1 PM
    Picket Trader Joe's
    Trader Joe's, 25 N. LaGrange Rd, LaGrange
    In support of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the fair food movement.

    Saturday, January 21, 12:30 PM
    Global Day to Support Egyptian Revolution
    Gather @ Michigan & Congress, Chicago
    March to Egyptian Consulate for rally. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, January 21, 2 PM
    "Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock"
    Chicago Cultural Center Claudia Cassidy Theater, 78 E. Washington St, 2nd Floor, Chicago
    Documentary on a largely forgotten heroine of the Civil Rights Movement. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, January 21, 3 PM to 5 PM
    A Short and Irreverent History of the G8 and NATO
    Occupy Chicago, 500 W. Cermak Room 700, Chicago
    MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, January 21, 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM
    Water - Threats and Possibilities, A Multimedia Presentation
    Multi-Kulti Art Space, 1000 N. Milwaukee Ave, 4th Floor, Chicago
    Art, video, performance, discussion and networking on water and its discontents. $5 donation suggested. MORE INFORMATION.

    Sunday, January 22, 3 PM to 5 PM
    Precarity Movements in Europe
    Occupy Chicago, 500 W. Cermak Room 700, Chicago
    Examines the notions of "precarity" and "precarious labor" by analyzing three approaches to the political mobilization of precarious workers--the unemployed, the undcocumented, the underpaid, those whose labor is fragmented, informal, and/or invisible--in Europe. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, January 28, 10 AM
    Workers' Power: Labor Solidarity Workshop
    Teamsters Hall, 300 S. Ashland, Chicago
    Occupy Chicago conference aims to bring together those who are fighting back, to not only network and learn from one another, but chart a way forward with common goals in mind. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, January 28, 2:30 PM
    Dan LaBotz ­ Occupy the Democratic Party?
    Lincoln Park Public Library, 1150 W. Fullerton, Chicago
    An Open University of the Left event. MORE INFORMATION.

    Sunday, January 29, 2 PM
    "The Return of Navaho Boy"
    Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St Veterans Room, Oak Park
    Screening of documentary by Jeff Spitz followed by discussion. MORE INFORMATION.

    Tuesday, January 31, 7 PM to 8:30 PM
    Women in the Military: the End of Don't Ask Don't Tell
    Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark, Chicago
    Panel discussion on the end of the "Don't Ask; Don't Tell" policy in the military. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, February 1, 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM
    "Miss Representation"
    Columbia College Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash, Chicago
    Reception, documentary film, and talk-back. Tickets required. MORE INFORMATION.

    Thursday, February 2, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
    Illinois' Budget Crisis
    First United Church of Oak Park, 848 Lake St, Oak Park
    Laura Dean Friedrich discusses Illinois' ongoing budget crisis. MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday, February 3, Noon
    First Friday Action for Jobs
    State of Illinois Building, Randolph & Clark, Chicago
    Demonstration and press conference in response to the Labor Department's release of employment numbers. MORE INFORMATION.


    New Ground #140.2

    02.02.2012

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Return of the Left
    Socialist International Council Meeting

    1. Politics

    Ruckus in Chicago
    CME: We're Full, Thank You
    Cleaning Up Tax Increment Financing
    Safe, Decent, and Affordable
    You're Fired!
    Verizon
    Right-Wing Crazy Corner by Michael Baker

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Social-Demotopia
    Concepts, Real Life & the Working Class
    Life Is Possible After Capitalism

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    The Return of the Left
    The Young Democratic Socialists' Winter Conference will be held February 17 through 19 at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, NY. For all the juicy details, including registration, CLICK HERE.

    Socialist International Council Meeting
    The Socialist International Council met in met in San José, Costa Rica, on January 23-24. As is typical of such meetings, it was mostly an exercise in resolutionary social democracy. A report on the meeting is posted at the Socialist International's web site HERE.

    For U.S. politics, the most relevant resolution is a statement on Puerto Rico. It calls for Puerto Rican representation in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, for the United Nations to "examine the colonial case of Puerto Rico" and for the "liberation of Puerto Rican patriots in jail in the United States". The organizational report of the secretary general, Luis Ayala, is also of interest.

    The most substantive item is a report on reforming (PDF) the Socialist International. The language is highly elliptical, particularly at the start: The language orbits far from the center of meaning mostly then for brief moments it swoops to the heart of the matter. Some of the recommendations include being more aggressive in organizing meetings around other international meetings, more of a role for non-party organizations, subsidies for delegates from less well-off parties, better use of social media, and offering individual memberships (The Liberal International has this option but not the conservative International Democrat Union, nor does Global Greens.) in the Socialist International. The report also recommends strengthening the Ethics Committee, giving it the authority to expell member parties (at least until the next Congress).



    Politics

    Ruckus in Chicago
    Well, we did it once, they must have figured; let's see if we can do it again. By now, you may have heard that Adbusters, the Canadian magazine that tossed a match into tinder, starting the Occupy movement, has decided, in decidedly sentimental and confrontational language, that the 99% should occupy the NATO/G8 summits. To be fair, Rahm Emanuel and a city council whose first instinct is to check to see if its ass is covered started it with the "sit down and shut up" ordinance aimed directly at protesting the summits. Todd Gitlin agrees. But Adbusters also didn't say a word in advance to the people on the ground, Occupy Chicago, about this call. Joe Macaré at Gapers Block has a good article covering this, but don't read too much into it; the press loves drama. In the meantime, Occupy Chicago has been making its own plans. Check it out.

    CME: We're Full, Thank You
    CME Group, CNA Group, and Bank of America are turning down or returning TIF monies that they had applied for. CME Group had recently been given a "golden toilet" by Stand Up Chicago as a comment on just how much good those monies would be doing most of us. CME Group says the "tax law changes approved last year are much more important," but it's likely that stricter enforcement of job creation and preservation requirements may have been a greater consideration.

    Cleaning Up Tax Increment Financing
    The Illinois Public Interest Research Group has just released a new report on TIF Districts, particularly as they exist in Chicago. Get the highlights and download the report from HERE.

    Safe, Decent, and Affordable
    An analysis by CNT of the Chicago region's affordable housing developments has found that some are not very affordable when transportation costs are considered. Typical transportation costs, the second largest expense in a household budget, ranged from $750 per month in many Chicago neighborhoods with affordable housing units to more than $1,000 in more distant suburbs. The report also found that suburban Cook County, which has comparatively low transportation costs, has fewer affordable housing units compared with the city of Chicago and the region's collar counties.

    You're Fired!
    Inside Chicago Airports reports: "Last year, the Chicago Department of Aviation pushed through the 20-year, $1.6 billion lease of O'Hare International Terminal (T5) concessions to Australia-based Westfield Group. As part of the process, the Department of Aviation promised that current concessions workers at the terminal would not be thrown out of work by the change. 'All but two of the current employees are being hired by the new company,' Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino reported to Chicago Aldermen at the Department of Aviation's October 26, 2011 budget hearing, arguing that Aldermen did not need to take action to ensure stable operations and jobs during major contract changes." Guess what? MORE.

    Verizon
    The Verizon strike was a hot topic in Chicago until CWA and IBEW workers agreed to go back to work while contract negotiations went on. The negotiations are still going on. The folks at CWA are suggesting you check out Occupy the Board Room to send the Verizon executives a message. If you have other favorite bosses, you can use the site to send them a message, too.

    Right-Wing Crazy Corner
    by Michael Baker
    Right-wing conspiracy theorist Trevor Loudon, whose raison d'être seems to be self stultification, published an article titled, "DSA Marxists Take Over the Occupy Movement: Plan 'Spring Offensive,' with Widespread Occupations of State Capitols, Schools and Workplaces." Trevor's histrionic piffle cites articles in DSA's national magazine Democratic Left by Joe Schwartz, Maria Svart, and Chris Maisano about the Occupy Movement, as well as a resolution passed at DSA's national convention, as evidence of this coup d'etat. While comrades Schwartz, Svart, and Maisano are certainly dedicated DSA members, talented activists, and compelling polemicists, we are somewhat dubious that their articles adumbrate a "DSA takeover of the Occupy Movement." Interestingly, some of our friends on the left have also accused DSA of trying to co-opt the Occupy Movement, and we can only wonder if they have been reading Trevor's twaddle but missing the irony.

    Others on the right have different analysis of the Occupy Movement. For example, Matt Barber claimed on his Faith and Freedom radio program that the movement is nothing more than astroturf funded by George Soros and made up of people who "hate America." We prefer Trevor's analysis to Barber's because it would be a real shame if DSA had been wasting its limited resources co-opting a confected cause.

    Right wingers also cannot seem to agree as to why the captain of the Costa Concordia appears to have behaved with such poltroonery. In an article titled "'Captain Coward': Behold our brave new sexually emancipated world," Hilary White of the anti-choice and anti-gay website lifesitenews.com blames the captain's cowardice on feminism, stating, "What kind of man sneaks away under cover of darkness from his own sinking ship, leaving nearly 4200 passengers and crew to fend for themselves? What kind of men knock aside old ladies, little girls and young mothers to get to lifeboats first? Why, modern men, sexually emancipated men who have been raised on the tenets of feminism and our 'contemporary' mores." On the other hand, David Asman on Fox Business' Power and Money blamed unions, explaining, "When professionals become unionized and see themselves as nothing more than units of labor they diminish their own self worth, and the quality of their work does decline. The individual pride they used to take in their work gets overtaken by the collective solidarity to union demands."

    In other Fox-related news, on the Fox News program The Five, Andrea Tantaros observed that the economic crisis has been good for children, stating "I think the recession was good for kids" because they've been "humbled a little." If Andrea would spend more time reading New Ground and listening to our podcast Talkin' Socialism and less time ingesting media devoted to obscurantism, she would know that the recession should not be discussed in the past tense and that children have been more than "humbled a little" by the disastrous state of the economy.

    Finally, to end on a religious note, aspiring gnomist Pastor Ken Hutcherson, whose other aspirations include opposing same-sex marriage in his state of Washington, announced on his website that "The only way to make your enemy a friend is to defeat them or kill them." While we do not quite follow Pastor Hutcherson's reasoning, we certainly will do our best to avoid befriending him, and we only hope that he and his sympathizers do not take his fatuous aphorism seriously and attempt to apply it to same-sex couples in his state.



    Democratic Socialism

    Social-Demotopia
    Perhaps because social democrats and democratic socialists had to have something to point to instead of the unhappy "real existing socialism" of the Soviet bloc, the Scandinavian countries long ago acquired the image of being something approximating real existing democratic socialism -- at least here in the States. So it's no surprise that, in a cover story, "Why Not Democratic Socialism?" for The Dayton City Paper (Ohio), Rana Odeh begins:

    Can you imagine getting paid 100% of your salary for 18 months of maternity leave? What about never stressing over health care costs when you, your child, or your family members get sick? What about free college education, free childcare, and subsidized (healthy) food and housing? Does it sound too good to be true? This is not a utopian dream; this is the life that Scandinavians enjoy and Americans have come to fear. What if you could have that life with the added benefits of democracy and freedom? Well, this is what the Scandinavian economic systems looks like. Socialist policies such as universal health care, free college education, paid maternity leave and free childcare, do not take away democracy and freedom, but rather enhance the quality of life. MORE.

    But Scandinavian social democracy didn't just happen. For a succinct summary of the 1930s struggle of Sweden's and Norway's 99%, see this article by George Lakey at Waging Nonviolence.

    Concepts, Real Life & the Working Class
    At Working Class Perspectives, Jack Metzgar writes:

    Man, it's hard thinking and talking about social class in these United States. Most of the time since President Obama was elected, there's nobody out there but "the rich" and "the middle class," as if both the working class and poverty have been eliminated. Then along comes a political election, and all of a sudden the mainstream media starts talking about a "working class" that turns out to be all white, all male, and uniformly good at bowling! MORE.

    Life Is Possible After Capitalism
    The Heartland Cafe's Katie Hogan and Michael James interview David Schweickart on his book After Capitalism. CLICK 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.

    Saturday, February 4, 9 AM to 1 PM
    2nd Annual Illinois Immigrant Integration Summit
    Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Van Buren, Chicago
    Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Registration required. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, February 4, Noon to 2 PM
    No War on Iran: National Day of Action
    Federal Plaza, Adams & Dearborn, Chicago
    Putting the breaks on Yet Another War. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, February 4, 1 PM to 5 PM
    Ben Reitman's Hobohemia Bus Tour
    Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark, Chicago
    More than the walking tour. Ticket: $45. A Pocket Guide to Hell production. MORE INFORMATION.

    Monday, February 6, 6 PM
    Fair Trade Certified Apparel: Challenges and Possibilities
    Hull House Museum, 800 S. Halsted, Chicago
    Jackie DeCarlo of Catholic Relief Services discusses her experiences. $10. MORE INFORMATION.

    Monday, February 6, 7 PM
    The Social Construction of Sexual Violence
    The Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn, Chicago
    Panel discussion on the perception of sexual violence. Reservations required. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, February 8, 6 PM to 8 PM
    My Desire for History
    Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted, Chicago
    Panel discussion on John D'Emilio's anthology of essays by Allan Bérubé. MORE INFORMATION.

    Thursday, February 9, 4 PM to 6 PM
    Getting Paid to Cause Trouble
    Roosevelt University Spertus Lounge (Room 244), 430 S. Michigan, Chicago
    Meet organizers from local community organizations and unions and learn about careers in grassroots organizing!

    Thursday, February 9, 5:30 PM
    Bayard Rustin at 100: Rediscovering a Forgotten Hero
    Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark, Chicago
    Panel discussion and social. Tickets $12. MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday, February 10, 2 PM to 5 PM
    This Is Not My Beautiful House
    Jane Addams Hull House Museum, 800 S. Halsted, Chicago
    Panel discussion on historic preservation and the people's history. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, February 11, 3:30 PM to 6 PM
    The ANC and African Liberation Struggles
    IIT Tower, 10 W. 35th St, 6th Floor Bronzeville Room, Chicago
    Panel discussion and multi-media presentation. RSVP. MORE INFORMATION.

    Sunday, February 12, 2 PM
    Trader Joe's Protest
    Trader Joe's, 483 N. Harlem, Oak Park
    Part of a nation-wide protest of Trader Joe's first store in Florida and in support of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. MORE INFORMATION.

    Monday, February 13, 6 PM to 8 PM
    News Literacy Project
    Jane Addams Hull House Museum, 800 S. Halsted, Chicago
    News, what it is, how to consume it, the role of citizen journalists. RSVP required. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, February 15, 5 PM
    Citizen Journalism and Guerilla Theater
    Occupy Chicago, 500 W. Cermak Room 701, Chicago
    This training will bring out the natural activist, journalist, and performer in you. MORE INFORMATION.

    Sunday, February 19, 4 PM to 6:30 PM
    Songs & Struggle
    Northside Action for Justice, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago
    Featuring Tom Neilson with Lynn Marie, fundraiser for NA4. MORE INFORMATION.


     

    New Ground #140.3

    02.15.2012

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Save the Date
    Arrests!
    Cornel West

    1. Politics

    A Living Wage Haunts Oak Park
    Why Is There so Little Respect for Hard Work?
    It's Still the Economy
    Illinois Primary Elections
    Another Victory

    2. Ars Politica

    Happy Birthday Nelson Algren!

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest


    DSA News

    Save the Date
    for the 54th Annual Debs -- Thomas -- Harrington Dinner: Friday evening, April 27. We're at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza this year. We'll have materials in the mail and up on the web within the next week or so. Hope to see you there!

    Arrests!
    Four members of the Atlanta DSA local were among 12 people from Occupy Atlanta, Atlanta Jobs with Justice, and Communications Workers of Atlanta retirees sitting in at AT&T's Atlanta headquarters to protest the company's recent announcement of 740 planned layoffs after boasting of record profits and paying their CEO $27 million in 2011. MORE.

    Cornel West
    spoke at St. Sabina's Church on February 12, inspiring this cartoon by Eric Garcia.


    Politics

    A Living Wage Haunts Oak Park
    On Monday, March 5th, supporters of a Living Wage in Oak Park will go to the Village Board meeting and ask that our Trustees enact a living wage ordinance. Something they have never formally considered. Two of the current Trustees have agreed to put this on the Board's agenda if we can show support..

    Please join us. There are new Trustees. Another show of public support would be great. Please consider making a public comment during the meeting. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m., Monday, March 5th at Village Hall ~ 123 Madison, Oak Park. Enter from the south side of the building. If you still have the "Living Wage = Family Value" button from the earlier campaign, wear it with pride at Village Hall, March 5th. For information, email tbroderick@chicagodsa.org.

    Why Is There so Little Respect for Hard Work?
    At Talking Union, GOPDSA's Bob Simpson writes:

    If you drive down I-55 or I-80 out of Chicago toward Joliet, they are hard to miss. Sprawling boxy-looking buildings, often windowless, but with constant activity as semi's pull up to disgorge their contents. These are the warehouses of Will County, where goods meant mostly for North America's big box stores are routed to their ultimate destinations. They employ thousands of people, mostly people of color, many of them immigrants. It is one of the largest and fasting growing USA centers for product distribution by truck and rail.

    It was among those warehouses that Uylonda Dickerson, a single mom, found a job. What she did not find was respect. Not only was the pay rock-bottom, but when she reported for work, she was often sent home instead, because there was not enough to do. This is in direct violation of Illinois law, making it a case of wage theft. If workers are scheduled to work, but are sent home, the company must pay them at least 4 hours of wages. MORE.

    It's Still the Economy
    At the Chicago Political Economy Group, Bill Barclay comments on the recent settlement between the States and the largest banks -- a glass 1/32nd full -- HERE.

    And Joe Persky comments on the Bureau of Labor Statistics' January jobs numbers HERE.

    Illinois Primary Elections
    Citizen Action decided upon its primary endorsements a week or so ago. Chicago DSA is a member of Citizen Action/Illinois. While some of the endorsements are good, CDSA didn't vote for all of them. Nonetheless, you can find them HERE.

    Another Victory
    "Trader Joe's and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) announced today that they have signed an agreement that formalizes the ways in which Trader Joe's will work with the CIW and Florida tomato growers to support the CIW's Fair Food Program." MORE.


    Ars Politica

    Happy Birthday Nelson Algren!
    The 23nd Annual Nelson Algren Birthday Party: Legendary pianist and boogie expert Erwin Helfer kicks off this years birthday party, which will feature, among others, award-winning novelist/photographer Linh Dinh, writer/dissident psychologist Bruce Levine, U. Conn. Algren scholar Mike Jones, renowned folksinger Bucky Halker, poet/raconteur/magazine maven Bob Katzman, singer/songwriter Kristin Lems and poets Charlie Newman & Co. Guitarist and "Rio Bamba" headliner John Garvey will back Algren Committee co-founder Warren Leming, who will perform a poem from "Chicago: City on the Make," while photographer and Algren fan Ron Seymour will show some of his photos of Algren. A mystery guest and old Algren pal will talk about the days when Ma's was where you ate, or chose not to; Doc was the man who dealt the cards, if you lacked judgment; and women with troubles worse than your own were relatively unknown. This year's Algren Committee Award winners are Chicago historical researcher and re-enactor extraordinaire Paul Durica and scholar/activist/Maxwell Street preservationist Elliot Zashin. The cash bar, "Sto Lat" singalong and birthday cake remain sacrosanct. Come join the fun! When? 8 PM, March 24th, 2012. Where? Wicker Park Art Center (a/k/a/ St. Paul's), 2215 W. North Ave., Chicago. How much? $10/$7 students. More Information? CLICK 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.

    Friday, February 17, 2:30 PM to 3:20 PM
    Social Media and Human Rights
    ACLU of IL Offices, 180 N. Michigan Ave, Ste 2300, Chicago
    How is the new technology useful to advocacy efforts. Registration required. MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday, February 17, 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM
    Whose Schools? Our Schools!
    Columbia College Hokin Lecture Hall, 623 S. Wabash Room 109, Chicago
    Round 2 of panel discussion on repairing the state of disunion in higher education. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, February 18, 2 PM to 4 PM
    Student Human Rights Network Kickoff
    DePaul University Lewis Center, 25 E. Jackson Room 342, Chicago
    RSVP required. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, February 18, 2:30 PM
    Half of America in Poverty?
    Lincoln Park Public Library, 1150 W. Fullerton, Chicago
    DePaul University professor Paul Buchheit discusses what the new data reveals about how Americans are now living. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, February 18, 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM
    Occupy Music?
    Occupy Chicago Office, 500 W. Cermak Room 701, Chicago
    Crisis, resistance and the sound of revolt. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, February 18, 7 PM to 11 PM
    Obamacare, Medicare, and Social Security
    Lincoln Restaurant, 4008 N. Lincoln, Chicago
    A College of Complexes debate between Will Barnes and Dr. Anne Scheetz. MORE INFORMATION.

    Sunday, February 19, 4 PM to 6:30 PM
    Songs & Struggle
    Northside Action for Justice, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago
    Featuring Tom Neilson with Lynn Marie, fundraiser for NA4. MORE INFORMATION.

    Monday, February 20, 5 PM to 6:30 PM
    National Day of Action for Prisoners
    Chicago Board of Trade to the Metropolitan Correctional Center, Chicago
    Demonstration in solidarity with those behind prison walls. MORE INFORMATION.

    Tuesday, February 21, 7 PM
    Narratives from Israel and Palestine
    Lombard Mennonite Church, 528 E. Madison, Lombard
    Dr. Paul Parker will give an witness report on what he has seen and heard in Israel and the West Bank of Palestine from Jews, Samaritans, Christians, Muslims, Druze, and Bahá'í. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, February 25, 1 PM to 3 PM
    Out of the Closets into the Occupation
    Occupy Chicago Office, 500 W. Cermak Room 701, Chicago
    Queer struggle against the 1%. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, February 25, 6 PM to 10 PM
    Gentle Warrior Awards
    Marmon Grand Banquet Hall, 2230 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago
    Fundraiser for the A. Philip Randolph Museum, honoring William McNary and William Hunter. $100. MORE INFORMATION.

    Sunday, February 26, 2 PM
    "Where Soldiers Come From"
    Oak Park Public Library Veterans Room, 834 Lake St, Oak Park
    Documentary film followed by presentation and discussion. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, February 29, 4 PM
    Against Equality, from Left and Right
    Occupy Chicago Office, 500 W. Cermak Room 701, Chicago
    A presentation by sociologist Alberto Toscano. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, February 29, 7 PM to 8:30 PM
    The World Finder
    Gallery 400, 400 S. Peoria, Chicago
    An epic tragedy in four acts, featuring Pocket Guide to Hell, Martin Billheimer, Sid Cook, Jon Langford, and Max Wastler. MORE INFORMATION.

    Thursday, March 1, 7 PM
    Evening with Patricia Smith, Michael Warr, & Luis Rodriguez
    Jak's Tap, 901 W. Jackson, Chicago
    "Three of the founders of the city's original poetry scene." $5 MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday, March 2, Noon
    First Friday Action for Jobs
    State of Illinois Building, Randolph & Clark, Chicago
    Press conference / rally in response to the Labor Department's monthly release of jobs numbers. MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday, March 2, 5:30 PM to 9:30 PM
    Crossroads Fund 30th Anniversary Celebration
    Chicago Cultural Center GAR Hall, 77 E. Randolph St, Chicago
    Fundraiser for the Crossroads Fund. MORE INFORMATION.


     

    New Ground #140.4

    03.01.2012

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    The Return of the Democratic Left on Video

    1. Politics

    A Living Wage for Oak Park!
    Rx for Busted Budgets
    ATMI Precast Workers Vote UNION! by Bill Barclay
    The 99% Spring
    International Women's Day

    2. Ars Politica

    Save Old St. Paul's for the Community

    3. Democratic Socialism

    Talkin' Socialism

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest



    DSA News

    The Return of the Democratic Left on Video
    In some past years, the Winter Conference of the Young Democratic Socialists has been a very small, shy event. This year's event, February 17 through 19, can't claim to have been huge, but the organizers came away almost giddy. About 170 people attended, a serious upward spike. Activist Nation has posted 4 videos of the event that justify the euphoria.

    The first video features Frances Fox Piven (an Honorary Co-Chair of DSA), Jim Miller (Professor of Politics at the New School), and Steve Max (a Vice-Chair of DSA) on the Occupy Wall Street movement. See it HERE.

    The second video features Chris Hicks (Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) coordinator) and Dan Hanson (YDS College of Wooster Chapter) discussing student -- union solidarity. See it HERE.

    Video three features Steve Max speaking on "The 1%, The 99%, and The Economy". See it HERE.

    And the fourth video is entitled "Why Is Student Debt Rising?" and features Chris Hicks (SLAP coordinator) and Chiara Corso (George Washington University SLAP). See it HERE.



    Politics

    A Living Wage for Oak Park!
    On Monday, March 5th, supporters of a Living Wage in Oak Park will go to the Village Board meeting and ask that our Trustees enact a living wage ordinance. Something they have never formally considered. Two of the current Trustees have agreed to put this on the Board's agenda if we can show support..

    Please join us. There are new Trustees. Another show of public support would be great. Please consider making a public comment during the meeting. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m., Monday, March 5th at Village Hall ~ 123 Madison, Oak Park. Enter from the south side of the building. If you still have the "Living Wage = Family Value" button from the earlier campaign, wear it with pride at Village Hall, March 5th. For information, email tbroderick@chicagodsa.org.

    Rx for Busted Budgets
    On February 28, the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability released The Case for Creating a Graduated Income Tax in Illinois, making the argument for the State of Illinois to adopt a graduated income tax rate structure.

    Among the report's key findings, Illinois' failure to have a graduated tax rate structure:

    • Unfairly taxes people because it fails to take into account ability to pay.
    • Runs counter to textbook tax policy and the historic, bi-partisan support for graduated income tax structures in America;
    • Contributes significantly to Illinois' on-going fund deficits; and
    • Impedes private sector economic growth by overtaxing low- and middle-income families, who are the state's best consumers.

    The report highlights that the state's constitutional requirement that there be only one, flat rate used for the income tax makes Illinois a tax outlier. In fact, of the 41 states with an individual income tax, all but seven have graduated rate structures.

    1. If Illinois amended its constitution to allow implementation of a graduated rate structure for the individual income tax, that structure could be designed to:
    2. Cut overall state income tax burden for 94 percent of all taxpayers-that means on average, taxpayers with under $150,000 in annual base income would receive a tax cut;
    3. Despite shifting tax burden to affluent taxpayers, nonetheless keep the effective state income tax rate for millionaires at just 4.3 percent;
    4. Raise at least $2.4 billion annually in new revenue to help eliminate ongoing structural deficits in the state's General Fund; and
    5. Stimulate the growth of at least 36,000 jobs in the state's private sector through enhanced public and consumer spending. As of August, 2011, Illinois hasn't replaced 342,000 non-farm jobs it lost during the Great Recession.

    Click HERE for a PDF version of the full report.

    ATMI Precast Workers Vote UNION!
    by Bill Barclay
    Winning union elections in the private sector has not been easy during the past couple of decades but sometimes it happens. And it just did in Aurora where workers at ATMI Precast voted 74 to 9 on February 17th to affiliate with the Laborers Union. The vote followed a several month campaign that was a labor-community effort. Northern Illinois Jobs With Justice (NILJwJ), formed in 2011 as the result of meetings between peace and justice activists and union members, mobilized to support ATMI Precast's largely Hispanic work force as they sought a voice in the workplace. Chicago DSA members, both those on the NILJwJ steering committee as well as others, joined marches, rallies and contributed to the effort. The capstone in the campaign was a march through the west side of Aurora to the home of ATMI Precast CEO James Armbruster while distributing leaflets to his neighbors. The marchers demanded that Armbruster allow the workers a voice in the workplace and that he reinstate the workers fired during the organizing campaign (the union has filed Unfair Labor Practices) as well as rescind the 20% wage cut imposed late last year. According to local media, the mobilization and march were unlike anything Aurora had seen in "decades." The fight for a contract and a living wage lies ahead, but the first bridge has been crossed with strong support in both the workplace and the community.

    The 99% Spring
    In the tradition of our forefathers and foremothers and inspired by today's brave heroes in Occupy Wall Street and Madison, Wisconsin, we will prepare ourselves for sustained non-violent direct action. From April 9-15 we will gather across America, 100,000 strong, in homes, places of worship, campuses and the streets to join together in the work of reclaiming our country. We will organize trainings to:

    1. Tell the story of our economy: how we got here, who's responsible, what a different future could look like, and what we can do about it
    2. Learn the history of non-violent direct action, and
    3. Get into action on our own campaigns to win change.

    This spring we rise! We will reshape our country with our own hands and feet, bodies and hearts. We will take non-violent action in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi to forge a new destiny one block, one neighborhood, one city, one state at a time.

    CLICK HERE to learn more.

    International Women's Day
    The Chicago Women's Liberation Union Herstory Project is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Day, March 8th, with a brand new poster to commemorate the occasion, available at the Herstory Store. The bookmark and notecard versions of the design are also available through the Syracuse Cultural Workers, which they also talk about on their blog. Find out more HERE.


    Ars Politica

    Save Old St. Paul's for the Community
    It's not news that the Near North West Arts Council is facing eviction. It's been a possibility since the remnants of the old congregation began shopping around for a buyer. Well, they found one. And one would expect that a transition could be negotiation, but... MORE.



    Democratic Socialism

    Talkin' Socialism
    Episode 13 -- Economic Democracy -- Recorded 02.11.2012: Ron Baiman interviews Loyola University Philosophy Professor David Schweickart on "economic democracy" and "market socialism". MP3 (30.6 MB) or Ogg Vorbis (24.1 MB).



    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 -- Sunday, March 3 and 4
    Whose City? Teach-In
    Occupy Chicago, 500 W. Cermak, Chicago
    Variety of panels and facilitated discussions. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, March 3, Noon to 2 PM
    Intersections: Roundtable and Brunch
    Access Living, 115 W. Chicago, Chicago
    Discussion of about the specific ways in which various forms of engagement intersect. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, March 3, 1 PM
    Liberating Civil Society
    Lombard Mennonite Church, 528 E. Madison St, Lombard
    Annual meeting of the West Suburban Faith-based Peace Coalition, featuring Mark Johnson of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, March 3, 1 PM
    "The Ninth Floor Door"
    Grace Place Community Center, 637 S. Dearborn, Chicago
    Play about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. $10. MORE INFORMATION.

    Monday, March 5, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
    Fight the Closing of DHS Offices
    Puerto Rican Center, 1237 N. California Ave, Chicago
    Chicago JwJ Workers Rights hearing. What you can do plus MORE INFORMATION

    Monday, March 5, 7:30 PM
    Oak Park Village Board Meeting
    Oak Park Village Hall, 123 Madison, Oak Park
    Come show your support for a Living Wage Ordinance in Oak Park MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, March 7, 7 PM
    The Affordable Care Act, Two Years Later
    Two Thirteen Building, 213 S. Wheaton Ave, Wheaton
    Discussion of what is popularly known as "ObamaCare" MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, March 10, Noon to 2 PM
    Rally and March to Defend Civil Liberties
    Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St, Chicago
    Being the 6th anniversary of the massive march for immigrant rights. MORE INFORMATION and MORE.

    Saturday, March 10, 12:30 PM
    CDSA Executive Committee Meeting
    CDSA Office, 1608 N. Milwaukee, Room 403, Chicago
    All DSA members are welcome!

    Saturday, March 10, 1 PM
    What's Behind the Anti-Immigrant Dragnet?
    Rudy Lozano Library, 1805 S. Loomis, Chicago
    Featuring Ali Kabba, Barbara Ransby, and Maria Ines Zamudio. MORE INFORMATION.

    Monday, March 12, 7 PM
    Save the NNWAC
    NNWAC, 2215 W. North Ave, Chicago
    Help keep the Near North West Arts Council in its home at old St. Paul's. MORE INFORMATION.

    Tuesday, March 13, 10 AM
    Clarence Darrow Commemoration: Altgeld & the Haymarket Riots
    @the Darrow Bridge in Jackson Park, Chicago
    That's roughly 6400 South on Stony Island Ave. Annual commemoration of the famous attorney's death. MORE INFORMATION.

    Tuesday, March 13, 5 PM
    Capitalism and Resistance
    Columbia College Hokin Lecture Hall, 623 S. Wabash Room 109, Chicago
    From an anarchist perspective. MORE INFORMATION.

    Thursday, March 15, 2:30 PM to 4 PM
    Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
    Chicago Theological Seminary, 1407 E. 60th St, Chicago
    Discussion on state and national reproductive rights issues, and the presentation of awards to Illinois' clinic escorts from the Unitarian Church of Hinsdale. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, March 17, 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM
    Occupy Music?
    Occupy Chicago, 500 W. Cermak, Room 700, Chicago
    More from Alex Billet. MORE INFORMATION.

    Sunday, March 18, 3 PM
    March Against the Wars
    Assemble @ Devon & Hoyne in Chicago
    Anniversary of the Iraq invasion, protest against ongoing & future wars.

    Saturday, March 24, 9:30 AM
    Women's History Month Program
    Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton Pl, Chicago
    Featuring the authors and editor of "Chicanas of 18th Street" MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, March 24, 8 PM
    Nelson Algren Birthday Party
    Wicker Park Art Center, 2215 W. North Ave, Chicago
    Annual party with a cast of... $10. MORE INFORMATION.


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