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New Ground 141

March -- April, 2012


  • Victory! But the Struggle Continues by Tom Broderick
  • Only the Tip of the Iceberg: The Mortgage Deal by Bill Barclay
  • Working Longer and Enjoying It Less? by Tom Suhrbur
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • The Return of the Democratic Left on Video
    Happy Birthday Nelson Algren
    The Socialist Network
    The February Jobs Report: a Recovery for the 1%

  • Letters
  • New Ground 141.1 -- 04.02.2012

    0. DSA News

    DSA Is Hiring
    Democratic Left
    DSA in the News

    1. Politics

    The 99% Spring
    Time to Fix the Illinois Fiscal Travesty by Etaoin Shrdlu
    The Tax Man Cometh... But Not for Everyone
    The Culture of Poverty and the Other America
    Anti-Abortion Tactic Boomerangs
    75% say "YES" to Reform TIFs and to Tax Financial Transactions

    2. People

    Addie Wyatt, 1924 - 2012

    3. Democratic Socialism

    From Reformation to Transformation by Michael Baker
    Marx at 193
    Union Coops

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 141.2 -- 04.17.2012

    0. DSA News

    Today's Other America
    Talkin' Socialism
    DSA in the News

    1. Politics

    Infrastructure Mistrust

    2. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 141.3 -- 05.02.2012

    0. DSA News

    Debs -- Thomas -- Harrington Dinner
    DSA in the News

    1. Politics

    Austerity: the American Disease
    Public Infrastructure Trust
    May Day

    2. Ars Politica

    The Nelson Algren Committee
    100 Years of Studs Terkel
    Human Rights Film Festival

    3. People

    Quinn Brisben, 1934 -- 2012
    Gene Horcher

    4. Democratic Socialism

    Port Huron's Silver Pony-Tail
    Get a Life
    Is There a Future for Socialism?

    5. Upcoming Events of Interest

    Victory! But the Struggle Continues

    by Tom Broderick

    The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) was formed by tomato pickers in the Florida agricultural fields. Sparked by the brutal beating of a teenage farm worker, they came together in 1993 with the goal of better pay and better and safer working conditions. The CIW just keeps rolling along. On February 9th of this year, the national supermarket chain, Trader Joe's signed an agreement with the CIW to provide better pay and better and safer working conditions for the farm workers. This was a national effort.

    Because the CIW is not a union, they are not bound by the same laws that have crippled organized labor. The most effective tool employed by the CIW is reaching beyond their actual employers and targeting major tomato purchasers and then bringing the public into the fight.

    During the Trader Joe's campaign, Greater Oak Park DSA (GOPDSA) organized the first west suburban informational picket at the Trader Joe's in Oak Park. The first was on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. The following month we organized one at the Trader Joe's in Downers Grove. Then in January, we helped organize a third one at the Trader Joe's in LaGrange -- three consecutive months of informational picketing.

    At each event, we brought handouts for passersby and signed letters for the local store managers asking that Trader Joe's corporate office meet with the CIW and sign an agreement with them. Also at each event, someone from the store provided us a letter from the corporate office stating that Trader Joe's was in compliance with, and even went beyond what the CIW was asking for. However, Trader Joe's refused to meet with representatives from the CIW, proclaiming the oft-used "We don't employ the farm workers, so we won't meet with them." This attempt to hide behind public relations failed.

    Prior to our organizing pickets at stores in the western suburbs, Chicago Fair Food, an organization formed during an earlier CIW campaign, conducted their first informational picket at the Trader Joe's on July 17th at a Trader Joe's at 667 W. Diversey in Chicago. They followed that with an informational picket at the "Grand Opening" of a Trader Joe's at Roosevelt and Wabash in Chicago. Chicago DSA took part in that spirited welcome. At a later date, Chicago Fair Food did a teach-in at Occupy LaSalle Street and marched over to the Congress Hotel to walk with the UNITE-HERE! Local 1 striking workers. We then marched down to the Roosevelt and Wabash Trader Joe's for another round of informational picketing. This was a good blending of actions.

    Concurrent with the Trader Joe's campaign, the CIW has been pushing Publix Grocery to sign an agreement. Publix is headquartered in Lakeland, Florida with stores in a few surrounding states. The CIW plans a hunger strike at Publix headquarters from March 5th through 10th. The CIW is also focusing on Kroger and Giant, which have supermarkets across the country. Kroger operates under many different names, including Food 4 Less, in the Chicago area. Trader Joe's joined Whole Foods as the only grocery chains that have signed agreements with the Coalition.

    In 2001, the CIW called for the first farm worker driven national boycott against a fast food chain: Taco Bell. The boycott brought together faith, labor, student and community activists. College and high school students across the country responded with a "Boot the Bell" movement geared at pushing the chains from their campuses. Actions across the country, over four years of sustained pressure brought Taco Bell to the table. They agreed to all of the demands made by the CIW.

    After this victory, the Alliance for Fair Food was formed by groups involved in the Taco Bell boycott.

    McDonald's, the largest restaurant chain in the world, was next on the CIW list. Because McDonald's is headquartered in Oak Brook, IL, Chicago and the western suburbs became the hub of activity. Chicago DSA participated in the first Chicago informational picket called by the CIW in early 2005. Throughout the two year struggle, Chicago DSA helped with logistics and temporary housing, as well as taking part in additional informational pickets.

    The Greater Oak Park chapter of DSA organized the last informational picket at a McDonald's before the corporation signed the agreement with the CIW in April of 2007. Our picket was just days before the CIW was prepared to call for a national boycott against McDonald's. I still have my unworn CIW "Boycott McDonald's" t-shirt.

    After that, the CIW launched several successful campaigns beginning with Burger King. Chicago DSA organized informational pickets at three area Burger Kings, and worked with Chicago Fair Food (the local Fair Food Alliance chapter) on others. Whole Foods became the first supermarket chain they targeted. Subway was the most recent restaurant chain to sign with the CIW in 2008.

    Between 2009 and 2010, the CIW won agreements with the following food service providers: Bon Appetit Management Co., Compass Group, Aramark and Sodexo. Another key victory came when the actual farm worker employer group, the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, signed an agreement with the CIW. This covered health and safety issues as well as a worker to worker education program and a complaint resolution process.

    This process has taken lots of time and energy and it is only one small part of the food industry. In that regard, it reminds me of the struggle to end the death penalty. The CIW wins one corporation victory at a time. The abolitionists win one state at a time. There may be a tipping point when these struggles are done, but until then there will be so more work to do.

    Only the Tip of the Iceberg: The Mortgage Deal

    by Bill Barclay

    After more than two years of on again, off again an agreement has been reached between five (maybe nine) large banks and the AGs of 49 states. The banks are Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Ally Financial and Citigroup; all state Attorney Generals appear ready to sign on with the exception of the Oklahoma Attorney General who thinks banks should not face any penalties for their role in creating a housing bubble and financial collapse.

    So what is in the deal? And what does it mean?

    The deal calls for the banks to provide over $25 billion in mortgage relief, plus access to refinance by 300,000 homeowners now shut out and perhaps some payments to 750,000 people who lost homes to foreclosure. This may sound like a lot of money and a lot of houses -- until you remember the scope of the problem.

    The Fed issued a study in January 2012 that reported: (a) 12 million households with negative equity ("underwater"), almost 1/4 of total households with mortgages; (b) total negative equity of these 12 million is about $700 billion; (c) 8.6 million of these households were current in their mortgage payments, accounting for $425 billion of the negative equity; (d) the remaining 3.6 million households are all at least 30 days delinquent in payments and (e) 1.4 million of them are in foreclosure -- that is on top of the 4 million or so that have lost homes to foreclosure over the past 4 years.

    Another way to put this in perspective is to remember that, in current dollars, in 1933 Congress authorized the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) to issue debt amounting to almost $50 billion that was then used to buy mortgages from lenders, in essence becoming their refinancing lender on about 21% of all 1 to 4 family dwelling units that were mortgaged in the 1930s. The equivalent number of households today would be about 10 million.

    This deal is barely the tip of the iceberg for what needs to happen to banks. FDR's Home Owners Loan Corporation provides a good model but this Congress (and probably this administration) is afraid to go there. However, speaking of icebergs, so does Iceland, where, in response to popular stoning of both the parliament building and the home of the then prime by the populace, the banks were forced to forgive mortgage debt over 110% of house value. Iceland is now growing faster than most other OECD counties and housing, as component of GDP, has returned to only 3% below the pre-crisis levels. In the US, we have a long way to go. Can we learn from Iceland?

    Working Longer and Enjoying It Less?

    "Eight hours of work, eight hours of rest and eight hours to do what we think best"
    Eight-Hour Day Slogan (circa 1890)

    by Tom Suhrbur

    In the 19th century, the workweek was 60 to 72 hours Monday through Saturday with Sunday off. The fight for the eight-hour day has been a rallying call for the working class since the early day of the union movement. An American Federation of Labor pamphlet in 1899 stated: "Rest cultivates, drudgery brutalizes." While a shorter workday was viewed as a cure for unemployment, low wages and a host of social ills, it also meant more leisure time to enjoy life. It meant more time for one's family. Shorter hours would also provide workers time for personal development to pursue their talents in art, music and other endeavors.

    After a century of struggle, the eight-hour day and 40 hour week was generally realized for workers in 1938 with the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This was one of the greatest achievements of the labor movement. Even though the FLSA that provided 40 hour week and overtime pay is still intact today, the intent of the law has been seriously undermined over the last 30 years. The loss of millions of manufacturing jobs to low wage nations as a result of free trade, the aggressive campaign against unions and the ever increasing reliance on part-time and temporary employment have undermined wages in the U.S. The declining standard of living of the working families has forced many workers to take second and even third jobs to make ends meet. In effect, many wage earners are working more than the standard eight-hour day, 40 hour week.

    Are the days gone when a factory worker could support seven children on one income, own a home, feed and cloth the family, own a car, take the family on a vacation each year, have full-paid family health insurance and a decent retirement? My father did! But part-time and full-time temporary jobs are now 19.3% of the U.S. employment. Many wage earners cannot even find full-time employment today. Instead, they are trying to eke a living by working just part-time and temporary full-time jobs. This is especially true in higher education. Unemployment in December was 8.5% but "under employment" is not reported as being unemployed. Millions of other unemployed workers have stopped searching for jobs. They too are not reported in the 8.5% rate.

    A family member of mine is under employed. He has been working numerous temporary full-time and part-time jobs since 2009 making about $25,000 annually. He has an MS in Natural Sciences. He puts in about 50 to 60 hours per week. One of his jobs for the past two years is full-time but only for nine months with no health insurance, sick leave or other benefits. He does substitute teaching. He works Saturday as a docent at a county conservation district and tutors in the evenings at a private tutoring company. He cannot find a full-time job but is not unemployed.

    Besides low wages, a major incentive for hiring part-time and temporary workers is the high cost of private health insurance. All of the developed nations have national health care systems that shift the cost of health care from private employers to the general public through taxation. In the U.S., individual employers must purchase health insurance for themselves and, if they choose, for their employees. Our private for profit health care system is the costliest in the world in terms its share of the gross national product. Yet, more than 50 million Americans have no health insurance. Decent health insurance coverage cost at least $10,000 for an individual and much more for family coverage. Many employers have opted out of full-time employment for this reason alone.


    Other News

    compiled by Bob Roman

    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.

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

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

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


    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.



    The Socialist Network

    The Democratic Socialists of America were featured on an episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, joining a long list of political actors who have, for better and for worse, been featured on one or another comedy television show. In this case, the context was the breathless portentous displays by conservatives about Obama's past, each one promising to be the scandal that brings down the President and each one regarded with general indifference outside the right-wing community. In this case, the very lack of content in the word "socialism" for most Americans is played for its absurdity. So: is Obama a socialist? Jessica Williams reports.


    The February Jobs Report: A Recovery for the 1%

    For many years now the Chicago Political Economy Group has been saying that the U.S. economy is not going to truly return to any semblance of full employment without a large scale federal public jobs program that could be easily funded with a modest financial transaction or "speculator" tax.

    While data released this morning by the BLS shows a (seasonally adjusted) Nonfarm payroll employment increase of 227,000 in February 2012 from January 2012 from the (CES) "Establishment" survey and a Civilian Employment increase of 428,000 in February 2012 from January 2012 from the (CPS) "Household" survey, that in normal times would indicate adequate growth, this rate of growth is not likely to restore our economy to pre-Great Recession or "Lesser Depression" (LD) employment levels anytime soon. READ MORE.


    To the Editors:

    I think the Federal Reserve System should be abolished. Arguments supporting this proposal will be advanced.

    To think you can control our economy through manipulation of the interest rate is pure folly. It didn't prevent our present situation. It only makes the present situation worse.

    Note what happens when the banks (part of the 1%) gets money at a very low rate; they take those funds and buy Government bonds and make money on this scheme. Now consider who will have to pay off those loans ­- the members of the 99%!

    Now look at what happens when the 99% get a checking account! They get no return for having a balance in their account. Further, if they want a CD, there is almost no return for them.

    Now they are told to get a 401k and invest in the stock market. First that is no investment; rather, that is a speculation because the return is uncertain.

    Additionally, they can, now, be subjected to ponzi schemes and other manipulations that will undoubtedly come up. Our financial system needs revision and some learning and sanity exhibited.


    Fred J. Dietz, Sr.

    54th Annual
    Debs -- Thomas -- Harrington Dinner


    Today's Other America


    Friday, April 27, 6 PM

    Holiday Inn Mart Plaza
    350 W. Mart Center Dr, Chicago



    • John Bouman
      President, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
    • Chicago Jobs with Justice
      the city's premier labor -- community coalition


    Our Featured Speaker:

    Ruth Conniff
    Political Editor, The Progressive

    For more information or to order tickets, CLICK HERE.


    New Ground #141.1



    0. DSA News

    DSA Is Hiring
    Democratic Left
    DSA in the News

    1. Politics

    The 99% Spring
    Time to Fix the Illinois Fiscal Travesty by Etaoin Shrdlu
    The Tax Man Cometh... But Not for Everyone
    The Culture of Poverty and the Other America
    Anti-Abortion Tactic Boomerangs
    75% say "YES" to Reform TIFs and to Tax Financial Transactions

    2. People

    Addie Wyatt, 1924 - 2012

    3. Democratic Socialism

    From Reformation to Transformation by Michael Baker
    Marx at 193
    Union Coops

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest

    DSA News

    DSA Is Hiring
    Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the largest socialist organization in the US, and an affiliate of the global Socialist International, seeks an organizer for its youth division, the Young Democratic Socialists (YDS). The position includes work for both DSA and for our affiliated 501(c)3, the Democratic Socialists of America Fund. MORE.

    DSA is also hiring a part-time office assistant. MORE.

    Democratic Left
    DSA's quarterly journal's Spring 2012 issue is now on line HERE. (PDF)

    DSA in the News
    On March 18, the New York Observer reported that the Young Democratic Socialists' Northeast Regional Organizer, "Cecily McMillan, an Occupy Wall Street activist once profiled in Rolling Stone, suffered a seizure Saturday night during protest action near Zuccotti Park. Many on-scene reported Ms. McMillan had trouble breathing after she was tackled and handcuffed by law enforcement." The report was picked up by Jezebel and a more extensive report with embedded videos was published by the Daily Mail in the U.K. Some days later, The New School Free Press published an account. After McMillan was released from the hospital and from jail, she was interviewed on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now. DSA released a statement on McMillan's arrest and police violence. McMillan's own statement is HERE.

    Young Democratic Socialists chapters have also been active in protesting cuts to education budgets, and some of their activities have been written up in the press, including Vassar College's The Miscellany News and Temple University's Temple Ambler.

    In New Mexico, Republican Congressional candidate Rick Newton made the mistake of believing everything he read on the web and claimed his opponent, incumbent Ben Ray Lujan is a socialist. Capitol Report New Mexico debunked the report with an interview with DSA Director Maria Svart. The story was also reported by the Carlsbad Current-Argus and the New Mexico Telegram. The myth (or sometimes lie) that Newton fell for, that members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are all members of DSA, has been circulating on the web for all of this century, at least. Some day we'll tell you the story behind it.

    The Washington Examiner made sure to mention DSA in connection with the U.S. Labor Department naming its auditorium after Cesar Chavez.

    The Huffington Post reported Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) recommending the DSA web site. (As King asserts Obamacare = socialism, one can assume that he reads but it's not clear how much he understands.)

    And then there was this rather cryptic (to anyone not already familiar with the story) update on a local scandal in the Portland Daily Sun (DSA is at the very end).

    Creative Loafing in Charlotte, North Carolina, carried an account of DSA's Cornel West speaking at Queens University.

    Detroit DSA's David Green was quoted in an In These Times story about the state of the Obama campaign in the Midwest rust belt.

    GOPDSA's Tom Broderick had this op-ed in Oak Park's Wednesday Journal in support of a Financial Transaction Tax.


    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 find a training session near you or to volunteer to host a training session. To learn more about the project CLICK HERE.

    Time to Fix the Illinois Fiscal Travesty
    by Etaoin Shrdlu
    We hear it again and again. The State has to cut spending. Medicaid is out of control. Pensions are not payable. The only solution is to "starve the beast," force the state to be leaner and meaner and state employees to begin living in the real "lean and mean" Capitalist labor market that the rest of us have to deal with.

    This is what we hear, through our Business friendly mass media, especially the Tribune that can't seem to manage a week without some state corruption or impeding deficit doom story with nothing at all comparable on private sector corruption of course. And what we hear from our Business friendly Think Tanks like the "Civic Federation" that recently highlighted an impending $21 billion run-up of unpaid Medicaid bills by FY 2017. This has been embraced by the Governor and State House which on April 29 passed a resolution (HR 706) calling for $ 2.7 billion in FY 2013 Medicaid cuts and another $ 900 million cuts in Education and other public services.

    But none of this true.

    First, the Illinois state General Funds Budget deficit is not a result of too much spending on critical public services, but rather of too little revenue.

    • Illinois has been cutting real GF appropriations for every single major category of public spending since at least FY 2000, from over 8% (for K through 12 Education) to over 30% (for Human Services and Higher Education) (see upcoming Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA) FY 2013 budget report). Illinois currently ranks at or near the bottom in GF state spending among the states for Education and Human Services (see CTBA "Funding our Future" report).
    • If it does not raise more revenue, the state will face increasing budget deficits in future years, even if it persistently cuts spending over the next three years as in the Governor's Three Projected Budget Plan, and holds real spending on services flat after that (see CTBA upcoming budget report). Further cuts will cause more suffering and will not solve Illinois' budget problems.
    • The state can raise more revenue and provide the vast majority of households with a tax cut, if it moves to graduated income tax (see budget report) and other immediate changes to Illinois' fiscal system like expanding the sales tax to services (with offsets for low income households) and taxing higher income retirees are long overdue. (see "Funding our Future"). A Graduated income tax would raise from $ 2.4 billion to $ 3.4 more in individual income tax revenue, while giving 94% of taxpayers a tax cut (see CTBA: "The Case for Creating a Graduated Income Tax in Illinois"). This raises state revenue, and helps the state economy on both the spending and tax cut side. Illinois taxes (as of 2007) were the third most regressive among the states in terms of burden of income, sales, and property taxes (13%) on the lowest earning quintile of households according to "Who Pays," a 2009 Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy report. And neither of the two states that are worse than Illinois (Washington, and Florida) have an income tax at all. Vermont by the way is the only state with a progressive financial system. Of comparable big urban states: NY and CA are more or less flat, but Illinois is a regressive taxing travesty. The top 1% pay only 4.9% of their income in taxes.

    Second, cutting Medicaid by $ 2.7 billion is particularly misguided. It will cause untold suffering for our most vulnerable residents and wipe out thousands of public and private sector jobs in the state.

    • Published DHFS Medicaid liability data (the same data used by the Civic Committee) projects overall Medicaid liability growth of about 5% a year from FY 2013, but holds Medicaid spending growth to 2% a year from FY 2014, after -4.75% cut in FY 2013. These cuts drive cumulative bills to $ 21 billion. Without the artificial spending restrictions there is no ballooning deficit in Medicaid.
    • Moreover cutting Medicaid is a particularly bad policy as any state cut in Medicaid results in double the cut to real services due to the 50% Federal match. In fact to fully cover the projected increase in Medicaid liability from FY 2012 to FY 2017 would require increases of $ 4.4 B to $6.1 B, or $ 5.6 B to $7.0 B depending on the ultimate source of funding for "Other Funds," not the tens of billions of dollars misleadingly portrayed in reports on "Medicaid Costs" (half of which are born by the Feds).
    • And not only would the $ 2.7 B cut in FY 2013 state Medicaid spending be devastating for Medicaid recipients in Illinois, it would (based on Zandi multipliers for a $5.4 billion reduction in state spending -- see upcoming CTBA budget report) result in an estimated loss of over 60,000 public and private sector jobs in Illinois.

    HR 706 is a terribly misguided and unconscionable resolution that must not become law. We need constructive reforms in Springfield not more of the same old "wrecking ball" mentality. Without a more positive approach to state policy we will not solve the state budget deficit, or more importantly, maintain and revitalize a humane and prosperous state for the long term. It's high time that Illinois revenue system was made more progressive. If we had Oregon's tax system, for example, we'd have double the revenue from income tax and more than enough to generously fund vital state services (see CTBA report). Let's pass a constitutional referendum allowing a graduated income tax in Illinois!

    The Tax Man Cometh... But Not for Everyone
    At Too Much, Sam Pizzigati notes that if the 1% don't much like paying high taxes, neither do they like paying taxes when taxes are low. In point of fact, after Bush cut taxes, tax evasion increased. MORE.

    The Culture of Poverty and the Other America
    The month of March marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of Michael Harrington's The Other America. The retrospective reviews of his most popular book are mixed, with the "culture of poverty" evoking the most discussion. Maurice Isserman had an essay in the New York Times, where he concludes:

    Harrington's culture-of-poverty thesis was at best an ambiguous impediment to understanding -- in later books, he made no use of the term. But in its moral clarity, "The Other America" was ultimately optimistic; it was less an indictment and more an appeal to Americans to live up to their better instincts.

    This reiterates the conclusion of a more detailed 2009 essay by Isserman that was also published by the New York Times and noted in New Ground 124.3.

    Barbara Ehrenreich, in an essay written for The Nation and TomDispatch, made the "culture of poverty" a central focus. It is, she argues, a nearly fatal flaw in an otherwise worthy work.

    ...what distinguished the poor was their unique "culture of poverty," a concept he borrowed from anthropologist Oscar Lewis, who had derived it from his study of Mexican slum-dwellers. That concept gave The Other America a trendy academic twist, but it also gave the book a conflicted double message: "We" -- always the presumptively affluent readers -- needed to find some way to help the poor, but we also needed to understand that there was something wrong with them, something that could not be cured by a straightforward redistribution of wealth. Think of the earnest liberal who encounters a panhandler, is moved to pity by the man's obvious destitution, but refrains from offering a quarter -- since the hobo might, after all, spend the money on booze.

    This seriously irritated Harrington's older son, Alexander Harrington. In an essay posted at Dissent, he maintained Ehrenreich had gotten his father's thinking on the "culture of poverty" exactly wrong:

    Ehrenreich argues that the idea that something was wrong with the poor stems from my father's use of the concept of the "culture of poverty." She correctly points out that the term was later used by conservative opponents of the welfare state, and that they used it to mean "bad attitudes and faulty lifestyles." It is clear, however, that my father did not see the "culture of poverty" as a set of "bad attitudes and faulty lifestyles," but argued that such attitudes and lifestyles resulted from the "culture of poverty."

    Harrington goes on to assert:

    The Right has used issues like teenage pregnancy, drug use, violence, financial irresponsibility, and welfare fraud to attack anti-poverty programs. I have spoken to some good-hearted, intelligent people who worked hard to survive the Depression yet, because of the issues mentioned above, have little sympathy for today's long-term poor. Stopping one's ears to discussion of counterproductive behavior among the poor is going to win no victories for the welfare state. And if some of these problems are keeping people in poverty, then it is in the interests of the poor to address these problems.

    While Alexander Harrington didn't mention it, his father's use of the "culture of poverty" anticipated in many ways Charles Karelis' book The Persistency of Poverty: Why the Economics of the Well-Off Can't Help the Poor. Karelis' argument was summarized in a 2008 essay by Drake Bennett in the Boston Globe and noted in New Ground 117.3.

    Finally, Peter Drier, in an essay posted at Truthout, discusses the politics of poverty, The Other America, Michael Harrington, and even DSA, without mentioning culture even once.

    Anti-Abortion Tactic Boomerangs
    Generally speaking, there's two ways to handle wingnut goon squad bullying tactics: 1. the usual way (shouting matches, complaining, legal action that often goes nowhere etc.) and 2. The calm, creative way. MORE.

    75% say "YES" to Reform TIFs and to Tax Financial Transactions
    On election day, asked government to: 1) impose a sales tax on financial transactions, such as derivatives and futures contracts, to address budget deficits and fund human needs, and 2) send accumulated TIF dollars back to the public institutions that would have been funded 'but for' the TIF. MORE.


    Addie Wyatt, 1924 - 2012
    Addie Wyatt, minister, retired UFCW International Vice President, and 1979 Thomas - Debs Dinner honoree died last week. As a Debs Dinner honoree, it's worth noting that she was yet another alumnus of the legendary Packinghouse Workers. The UFCW notice is HERE and more information is HERE.

    Democratic Socialism

    From Reformation to Transformation
    by Michael Baker

    We will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
    --Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. . . . [N]on-violence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation.
    --Martin Luther King, Jr.

    As the readers of New Ground will be aware, socialism, from its nascency as an appreciable political movement in the United States, has been conflicted by two paths -- reform and revolution. Within this dichotomy, the majority of socialists have advocated and pursued the former, offering myriad reasons for doing so, for example:

    • The left is too small to make revolution possible. So we should work for small changes to improve people's lives where possible with the hope that, in the process, a larger movement will develop to push for more radical change.
    • Waiting for social and economic conditions to worsen with the hope that revolutionary tendencies will emerge is sociopathic and immoral and would make us politically irrelevant.
    • History teaches us that revolutions (at least "socialist" ones) lead to authoritarian governments, so reform is the more prudent route.

    Regardless of the merit of any or all of the above, more and more, reform-disposed socialists are reassessing the feasibility of the path of reform, and many are looking for an alternative path forward. This reassessment is due in large part to the increasingly retrograde, intransigent, and reactionary political environment in the United States, which has led many to conclude that we cannot move beyond capitalism by continuously and increasingly futilely trying to negotiate with the system.

    This negotiation aspect is, perhaps, the greatest weakness of the reform path. For when we try to reform the system, we are usually de facto trying to negotiate with the system, and negotiation mandates that we work on the systems' terms and use the systems' language and logic because we must do so in order to communicate and interact with the system. This de facto coercion to work on the systems' terms is characteristic of all calcified power, and our compulsory acquiescence to it is a tactical setback because it impairs our ability to stay focused on and strive for our greater objectives and to think and act creatively and subversively. Hence, the reform path not only imposes limits on the possibilities for change from the outset by definition but also necessitates tactics that impose limits on the potential and possibilities for change.

    The above critique though neither implies that the revolutionary path offers the only hope for systemic change nor that we should never strategically compromise to achieve an advantageous conclusion. As Bayard Rustin famously quipped, in politics, there is always compromise. However, if we non-revolutionary socialists wish to fundamentally change the system, we need to employ different tactics than those typically employed by the reform path because we need tactics that do not involve negotiating with the system on the systems' terms (and compromising from the outset and throughout the campaign) and that subvert the system by attacking its fundamental underpinnings.

    I have come to refer to this "non-revolutionary" path that employs such tactics as the path of transformation. I use this term because it implies that we are not trying to reform (or fix) the system by negotiating with it but that we are trying to radically change (or transform) the system by attacking it fundamentally.

    What I mean by transformation is possibly best illustrated. Let's imagine, for example, that a city government, let's call the city Hometown, is pursuing privatizing its city water system with the XYZ Co. The reformist objective would be to advocate for legislation opposing privatization of the city's water system (in this case, stopping the legislation currently under consideration). Reform tactics to stop the privatization would usually involve such things as attending city council meetings, speaking at city council meetings during permitted times, and encouraging residents to sign petitions and to phone or e-mail their council representatives. More radical measures might include demonstrations outside the city council building, possibly with some civil disobedience in extreme cases. While these tactics are certainly worthwhile and can be effective, they are rather restrained for affecting change within an increasingly intransigent and unresponsive system, much less for fundamentally changing the system, because none of them necessarily challenges the underlying system by not engaging with it on its own terms and by attacking it fundamentally. The revolutionary objective would be to orchestrate a socialist take over of the city government and to institute collective ownership of the XYZ Co. -- not likely to happen. The transformationist objective would be to stop the legislation privatizing the city's water system but to do so in ways that

    • Don't negotiate with the system;
    • Subvert the system's language and logic;
    • Attack the system fundamentally and, thus, lay the groundwork for more fundamental change.

    So let's look at some hypothetical transformationist tactics:

    Isolate the target(s). In this campaign, we have two main targets, the Hometown City Council and the XYZ Co., and the targets are in cahoots to fleece the people for private interests. In order to undermine their bargain, we could work to isolate the targets by creating division between them. Ostensibly united powers always have underlying differences that can be exploited. The only trick is discovering these differences and exploiting them.

    Foster internal division(s). What is true between organizations is also true within organizations. Organizations are almost never as unified as they seem and underneath the seemingly harmonious surface are individuals with widely different interests and motives. Again, the only trick is discovering and exploiting these differences. Researching and finding issues with which to position the members of the city council against one another should be relatively easy by reviewing meeting minutes, voting records, etcetera. Gathering information on the internal workings of the XYZ Co. would likely be more difficult but is often possible with some creative thinking (and finding a few disgruntled employees).

    Foster solidarity. Since we're trying to stop privatization without negotiating with the system, having a critical mass of people on our side will probably be necessary to force the city council to bend to our will. For better or worse, most people are motivated by self interest. While this statement might make the majority of humanity sound rather ignoble, the trick is to use this motivation, whether base or not, to our advantage. Just as we can exploit differences, id est, different self interests, to divide our opponents, we can use self interest to foster unity on our side. What could be more in people's self interest then safe, affordable drinking water, assuming privatization threatens these things, which it likely would.

    Aggravate crisis, undermine credibility, alienate support(ers). These three tactics, though they need not be, are often intertwined. Let's imagine that a crisis emerges for the XYZ Co. Let's say it becomes known that a water supply managed by XYZ Co. in another city has been found unsafe for human consumption. Rather than appealing to the City Council, who will no doubt already be aware of the crisis and trying to manage it to eschew public outrage at them, we could exploit the crisis in order to undermine the credibility of XYZ Co. in the minds of the public by taking the issue to the public in creative ways and building public pressure to drive a wedge between the City Council and the XYZ Co. (fostering solidarity and isolating the targets, as noted above). When engaging with the public, we should challenge them question the tacit assumptions around the issue. For example, why should a private company have control of our water? What gives our City Council or a private corporation the right the "privatize" what was once a part of "the commons." Most people will realize rather quickly that there is no acceptable answer, only some sort of corporate version of raison d'état.

    Create alternative venues. Since the City Council is failing in its democratic obligations (by colluding with a private corporation), we could create alternative venues for democracy, id est, for public discussion and debate around the issue of privatization. These venues could quite easily become incubators for an organization to challenge and change the powers-that-be.

    Quell morale, impede recruiting. Dispirited people are much less motivated and likely to succeed, a fact with which we socialists are all too familiar. However, the same phenomenon works on our targets. We could have a great deal of fun thinking of creative and humorous, but non-violent and legal, ways to make the city council members' jobs unpleasant until they give up on the idea of privatization. With regard to the XYZ Co., we are unlikely to be successful in suppressing the morale its sociopathic CEO, so we would probably be more successful targeting the workers. In all likelihood, the morale of workers is low anyway. To further dispirit the workers, demonstrations at the workplace could be organized to educate workers about the company's actions, and media could be organized about the same. Of course, all messaging should clearly target the company brass and not the workers themselves.

    Encourage tattling. A culture of tattling between and within organizations is often helpful in halting government-corporate collusion and should be encouraged as much as possible. Tattling can take various forms -- the city council members tattling on each other, council members tattling on the XYZ Co., the employees of XYZ Co. tattling on the company, and so on. With regard to the employees of XYZ Co., we might get some insight into company shenanigans from our "demoralization" outreach. We could use these opportunities to agitate workers to report on company activity.

    As I hope the reader can see, the above strategies are not designed to "reform" the targets but to fundamentally undermine them. These strategies could be applied to almost any cause and can offer us a space for activism in between the antipodes of reform and revolution.

    Marx at 193
    Karl Marx would be 194 on May 5, 2012, but that will be then. He was still 193 when John Lanchester presented this retrospective consideration of Marx's ideas in the London Review of Books. Marx, Lanchester notes, was not an empiricist. Lanchester is an empiricist (and so, most likely, are you). MORE.

    Union Coops
    Back in 2009, the United Steelworkers and the Mondragon cooperatives announced a collaboration to develop worker-owned steel companies along Mondragon lines. The idea was not so much to start such enterprises from scratch but to buy an already ongoing operation. On March 26, the project held a joint news conference to announce the release of a "template" for the creation of such businesses, in general and not necessarily steel. It's something less than a business plan but rather more practical than a theoretical academic document. An account of the press conference is HERE. The template, "Sustainable Jobs, Sustainable Communities: The Union Co-op Model" (PDF) can be viewed or downloaded HERE.

    Upcoming Events of Interest

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

    Wednesday, April 4, 11 AM
    Why We Must Oppose the G8 and NATO
    Elgin Community College, Elgin
    Andy Thayer on the upcoming NATO summit. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, April 4, Noon to 1 PM
    I Am a Mom / I Am a Man
    Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph St, Chicago
    Rally & March to remind the governor, the Illinois Department of Corrections and the public that closing Tamms supermax is not about jobs, but about human dignity. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, April 4, 6 PM
    Occupy National Day of Action for Public Transit
    CTA HQ, 567 W. Lake St, Chicago
    It's time to speak up against inadequate transportation funding and policies. MORE INFORMATION. (PDF)

    Wednesday, April 4, 6 PM to 7:30 PM
    Bad Teacher!
    Human Thread Center, 645 W. 18th St, Chicago
    Kevin Kumashiro discusses his book. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, April 4, 6:30 PM
    U.S. Exceptionalism to the Golden Rule
    Two Thirteen Building, 213 S. Wheaton Ave, Wheaton
    Presentation by Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. MORE INFORMATION.

    Thursday, April 5, 9:30 AM to 2 PM
    Forced Out
    UIC Student Center East, 750 S. Halsted St, Chicago
    A unity forum on immigration and incarceration. MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday, April 6, Noon
    First Friday Action for Jobs
    State of Illinois Building, Randolph & Clark, Chicago
    Join Chicago Jobs with Justice in demanding JOBS! NOT CUTS! We will respond to the U.S. jobs report that day with our call for a new national jobs program paid for by Wall Street and the wealthy! MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday, April 6, Noon to 3 PM
    Good Friday Walk for Justice
    Starting @ Northeast corner of Congress & Michigan, Chicago
    8th Day Center for Justice celebration of justice. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, April 7, All Day
    Chicago Spring Kick-Off
    Various locations, Chicago
    The official kickoff of Chicago Spring! On this day, Occupy Chicago will join with allies across Chicago for a citywide day of action. The many injustices we fight are intricately woven together, rooted to the faults and dysfunctions of our broken political, social, and economic systems. We will educate, inspire, unite, and mobilize around the interconnected character of our fights, spurring  to make a lasting impact on the city of Chicago. MORE INFORMATION.

    Sunday, April 8, 3 PM to 5 PM
    Crisis Theory for Complex Societies
    Occupy Chicago, 500 W. Cermak, Room 701, Chicago
    How do societies change? MORE INFORMATION.

    Tuesday, April 10, 7 PM
    Van Jones and Marc Bamuthi
    International House, 1414 E. 59th St, Chicago
    A frank discussion about environmental racism, social ecology and collective responsibility in an era of dramatic climate change. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, April 11, 7 PM
    Broken Politics and the Common Good
    Loyola University Regents Hall, 111 E. Pearson St, 16 th Floor, Chicago
    Jim Wallis gives the 2012 Stanley J. Hallett Lecture. MORE INFORMATION.

    Thursday, April 12, 5:30 PM to 8 PM
    "The Healthcare Movie"
    Access Living, 115 W. Chicago Ave, Chicago
    Movie showing & discussion. MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday, April 13, 7:20 PM
    "The War You Don't See"
    DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church, 1828 Old Naperville Rd, Naperville
    Show of film by John Pilger on war reporting & discussion. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, April 14, 12:30 PM
    CDSA Executive Committee Meeting
    CDSA Office, 1608 N. Milwaukee Ave Room 403, Chicago
    All DSA members are welcome! More information: 773.384.0327

    Tuesday, April 17, 8 AM to 3 PM
    Tax Day Protest
    Evanston Post Office, Davis & Oak, Evanston
    Leaflet against the bloated war budget. MORE INFORMATION.

    Tuesday, April 17, 2 PM to 4 PM
    When Silence Comes Upon a Poet
    Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, 800 S. Halsted St, Chicago
    JAVIER SICILIA, a renowned author and poet, visits Chicago sharing his trajectory from writing poetry to leading a national Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity in Mexico. MORE INFORMATION.

    New Ground #141.2



    0. DSA News

    Today's Other America
    Talkin' Socialism
    DSA in the News

    1. Politics

    Infrastructure Mistrust

    2. Upcoming Events of Interest

    DSA News

    Today's Other America
    It's not too late (but it's getting close) to order tickets for the 54th annual Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner honoring John Bouman and Chicago Jobs with Justice. It's coming up soon: Friday evening, April 27. Our featured speaker is Ruth Conniff, political editor for The Progressive. For more information or to order tickets on line, CLICK HERE. (please)

    Talkin' Socialism
    Episode 14 -- Lost Prophet. Recorded 03.10.2012: Chicago DSA's Michael Baker interviews John D'Emilio, author of Lost Prophet: the Life and Times of Bayard Rustin and professor of history and women's and gender studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, about the life and legacy of Bayard Rustin. MP3 (32.1 MB) or Ogg Vorbis (23.8 MB).

    DSA in the News
    The latest iteration in the Congressional Progressive Caucus = DSA narrative comes from Florida's notorious Representative Allen West, who decided to titilate a townhall audience by characterizing the Progressive Caucus as members of the Communist Party. Most of the journalism covering this story did not mention DSA but simply noted the memory of McCarthy-ism and that West is wrong. Some of the editorials have mentioned DSA, as have a good many postings on right-wing blog sites. Some editorials have been favorable, such as the Battleboro Reformer, and John Nichols chimed in with a column in The Nation, noting many of the marxists among Republicans in the past. Other editorials have been unfavorable, sometimes to the point of being downright spooky, such as this commentary on radio station WGMD that implies DSA members worship Satan.

    So while the "talk of Delmarva" accuses DSA of Satanism, the folks over at Adbusters (feeling understandably proprietary about the Occupy movements) are freaking out over the 99% Spring, presumably because it's in favor of a lesser evil. DSA was nowhere near the largest or most resourceful of the organizations involved in the 99% Spring, but DSA members participated in these training sessions both as trainers and as trainees in cities across the nation, including Chicago. Typically, we wore our politics on our sleeves, such as in this brief account from the Washington, DC, Union City News.


    Infrastructure Mistrust
    There are styles and fashions and fads in public policy, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is a smart follower of the latest trends. In a political environment where "debt" and "tax" are invitations to be shot at, what could be "smarter" than "private investment"? And so Emanuel's proposal for an infrastructure trust continues to make its way through the Chicago City Council's Committee on Finance. The problem for supporters and critics alike is that the proposed ordinance only deals with how the trust is to be governed, how its establishment is to be financed (by the City, of course), and almost nothing about how it will work -- except that since debts incurred by the trust are NOT backed by the full faith and credit of the City, there is an implied option of default. What it comes down to is a matter of trust because each deal the trust proposes will be unique. The devil will be in the details, including whether or not the City Council really has much say in whether a particular deal goes through. Progress Illinois has an overview 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. Get off your butt, protest, and enjoy the weather!

    Wednesday, April 18, NOON
    Protest Against the Food Giants & Commodity Speculation
    Chicago Merchantile Exchange, 141 W. Jackson, Chicago
    Rally against speculation in food commodities. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, April 18, 6:15 PM
    The True Costs of Coal
    DePaul University McGown South Room 105, 1110 W. Belden Ave, Chicago
    Presentation by the Environmental Concerns Organization. MORE INFORMATION.

    Thursday, April 19, 5 PM to 7 PM
    The Truth About Getting Sick in America
    Loyola University Corboy Law Center, 25 E. Pearson, Chicago
    Presentation by Dr. Tim Johnson followed by Q&A. RSVP required. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, April 21, 11:30 AM
    LGBTQQIAAP Civil Rights March
    beginning @ Pritzker Park, State & VanBuren, Chicago
    A march for equal civil rights for the LGBTQIA community worldwide. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, April 21, 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM
    Confronting Injustice without Violence
    SEIU Healthcare, 209 W. Jackson Blvd, 2nd Floor, Chicago
    Presentation and training with Wade Hannon and Rosalie Riegle. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, April 21, 2 PM
    Poverty Threatens Our Democracy
    New Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church, 4301 W. Washington Blvd, Chicago
    Lecture & book signing by Cornel West and Tavis Smiley. $20 MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, April 21, 2:30 PM
    A Short & Irreverent History of NATO & G8
    Lincoln Park Public Library, 1150 W. Fullerton, Chicago
    Presentation by Eric Ruder. An Open University of the Left event. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, April 21, 7 PM to 9:30 PM
    "The Vampires of Daylight"
    Grace Place, 637 S. Dearborn, Chicago
    Showing of new film by Marilena Marchetti and Helen Redmond on health care and insurance. MORE INFORMATION.

    Sunday, April 22, 1 PM to 3 PM
    Reclaiming the Meaning of Peace
    Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, 800 S. Halsted St, Chicago
    Earth Day with Nobel Peace Prize laureates Jody Williams and Stephen Goose. RSVP required. MORE INFORMATION.

    Monday, April 23, 6 PM
    NATO and G8: Protest in Context
    School of the Art Institute Ballroom, 112 S. Michigan, Chicago
    Panel discussion on protest. MORE INFORMATION.

    Tuesday, April 24, 7 PM to 9 PM
    Challenges in Combatting Torture
    International House Assembly Hall, 1414 E. 59th St, Chicago
    A conversation with Juan E. Méndez, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, April 25, 6:30 PM
    Know Your Rights: Free Speech & Protest in Chicago
    Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington, Chicago
    ACLU overview of rules and regulations regarding protests in Chicago. RSVP requested. MORE INFORMATION.

    Thursday, April 26, 6:30 PM to 9 PM
    "The Battle of Chernobyl"
    Multi-Kulti Center, 1000 N. Milwaukee 4th Floor, Chicago
    Showing of documentary about the Chernobyl disaster. MORE INFORMATION.

    Thursday, April 26, 7 PM
    G8/NATO Summit in Chicago
    Northside Action for Justice, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago
    Teach-in on how NATO and the G8 affect our communities. MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday, April 27, 8:15 AM
    Income Inequality, Economic Growth and Fiscal Policy: How Do They Relate?
    Union League Club Main Lounge, 65 W. Jackson, Chicago
    Center for Tax and Budget Accountability's annual fiscal symposium. $50. MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday, April 27, 6 PM
    Today's Other America
    Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza, 350 W. Mart Center Dr, Chicago
    54th annual Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner honoring Chicago Jobs with Justice and John Bouman. Featured speaker Ruth Conniff. $70 MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, April 28, 9 AM to 12:30 PM
    Jane Addams: Champion of Workers' Rights
    Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, 800 S. Halsted St, Chicago
    Featuring Louise Knight and Larry Spivak. MORE INFORMATION.

    Tuesday, May 1, 11 AM
    Haymarket Lives!
    Free Speech Statue, Randolph & DesPlaines, Chicago
    Annual Illinois Labor History Society rally and commemoration. MORE INFORMATION.

    Tuesday, May 1, Noon
    May Day March
    begins: Union Park, Randolph & Ashland, Chicago
    March to Federal Plaza. MORE INFORMATION.

    New Ground #141.3



    0. DSA News

    Debs -- Thomas -- Harrington Dinner
    DSA in the News

    1. Politics

    Austerity: the American Disease
    Public Infrastructure Trust
    May Day

    2. Ars Politica

    The Nelson Algren Committee
    100 Years of Studs Terkel
    Human Rights Film Festival

    3. People

    Quinn Brisben, 1934 -- 2012
    Gene Horcher

    4. Democratic Socialism

    Port Huron's Silver Pony-Tail
    Get a Life
    Is There a Future for Socialism?

    5. Upcoming Events of Interest

    DSA News

    Debs -- Thomas -- Harrington Dinner
    The 54th annual dinner was held on Friday, April 27. The event itself was a success, being both interesting and inspirational, the two qualities we hope each Dinner has. And we at least paid the rent though as a fundraiser, it leaves us with more work to do. An account, plus photos, will be in New Ground 142.

    Breitbart.com, however, has scooped us. In one of the funniest accounts of DSA since the Daily Show's episode on "Is Obama a Socialist", a local Andrew Breitbart wannabe, Jeremy Segal, posted his story of swank socialists (If socialists don't live like the poor then why are they socialists?) HERE.

    Jeremy's article is funny and the photos are good, but the comments are not. At all. Breitbart.com panders to some seriously sick minds.

    If you attended our little hommage to bourgeois gluttony, let us know what you thought of it; if you did not, let us know why not: CLICK HERE.

    DSA in the News
    There are a few right-wing entrepreneurs who make part of their living by pretending DSA is a threat to humanity. These past few weeks, they had some product out, but nothing really new or of any quality. DSA was also used as a prop in a few right-wing polemics. One of the better was this relatively subtle hit on the Obama campaign by Jorge Bonilla at Ed Morrissey's hotair.com. Jose LaLuz is doing GOTV work for the AFL-CIO in central Florida.

    This is the 50th anniversary of The Other America. At The Nation, Maurice Isserman speculates on what Michael Harrington would have to say about the current political scene in "What Would Michael Harrington Say?". The web edition uses a Syd Harris photo from the Chicago DSA web site.

    Andrew Porter, the national organizer for the Young Democratic Socialists, spoke at the University of Kansas on the need for action on student debt.

    Cecily McMillan, the Young Democratic Socialist activist beaten by New York City police, made an appearance on Brian Lehrer TV show about the return of OWS.


    Austerity: the American Disease
    On the morning of April 27, the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability held its annual fiscal symposium. Matthew Blake at Progress Illinois begins:

    Progressive economists slammed President Barack Obama and Gov. Pat Quinn today for not doing enough about a prolonged recession and unemployment crisis. Also, Quinn came under attack for not doing enough to increase the state tax base before issuing landmark proposed cuts to Medicaid and public employee pensions. MORE.

    Public Infrastructure Trust
    So how did your alderman vote? The Grassroots Collaborative compiled a list. Find out HERE.

    May Day
    The day in Chicago was determinedly peaceful, beginning with either a mildly civil disobedient action at a downtown Bank of America or at the Illinois Labor History Society's annual plaque dedication and rally at the Haymarket free speech statue. This was followed by a rally at Union Square west of the Loop, followed by a march to the Federal Plaza. Some 2000 to 3000 people participated. This is not bad (consider the marches in 2000 or 2001 or 2002 or 2003), but it's not especially good either. The metrics suggest the Left in Chicago still mostly represents itself and lacks mass support, though there was something of a turnout from the Mexican community, partly labor inspired and partly inspired by immigrant rights but also inspired by the upcoming Mexican Presidential election. And quite a few unions had delegations. In These Times made an effort at providing ongoing coverage HERE.

    Chicago DSA has endorsed two events around the NATO summit. These two, we think, deserve your special consideration. But there's a lot going on that weekend, and it would be very good if you got out to one.

    The first is the "Protest the Global 1%" being organized by National Nurses United. This is a march and rally scheduled for Friday, May 18, starting from the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers at 11 AM and concluding in a rally just after noon at Daley Plaza, Washington & Dearborn. The call for a Financial Transactions Tax is especially attractive.

    The second is the Iraq Veterans Against the War's "March for Justice & Reconciliation". This begins with a rally on Sunday, May 20, 9 AM at Balbo & Columbus.

    Ars Politica

    The Nelson Algren Committee
    Poet Linh Dinh interviews Hugh Iglarsh about Nelson Algren and the Nelson Algren Committee at The Poetry Foundation. A video of part of the 2012 annual Nelson Algren birthday party is posted HERE.

    100 Years of Studs Terkel
    Chicago is celebrating the centenary of Studs Terkel's birth in May with several events and performances, starting with a re-dedication of the Division Street bridge over the Chicago River on May 12th. A complete listing of the events is HERE.

    Human Rights Film Festival
    Human Rights Watch is organizing film festivals in 11 cities, mostly in the U.S. The Chicago festival opens on May 18 at the Gene Siskel Film Center. A more information is HERE.


    Quinn Brisben, 1934 -- 2012
    J. Quinn Brisben died on April 17, 2012. He was a lifetime member of DSA, but most of his ideological activism was done with the Socialist Party USA. He was their Vice-Presidential candidate in 1976 and he ran for President in 1992. A SRO memorial was held on Saturday, April 28. A summary of his life can be found HERE. Quinn Brisben's blog is HERE. He was one of the persons interviewed in Studs Terkel's first oral history, Division Street, and will be part of the one day performace at the Steppenwolf Theatre.

    Gene Horcher
    will be among those honored at the Jane Addams Senior Caucus' 8th Annual Luncheon on Wednesday, June 20. This will be held at The Kenwood of Lakeview, 3121 N. Sheridan Rd in Chicago. Tickets $30. For information call Lori Clark 312.787.2382x227.

    Democratic Socialism

    Port Huron's Silver Pony-Tail
    The Port Huron Statement turns 50 in June, and In These Times put together a retrospective by some of the people involved with Students for a Democratic Society back then and some younger folks, too. The feature includes brief essays by Tom Hayden, Carl Davidson, Cole Stangler, Paul Booth, Frida Berrigan, Teresa Cheng, Todd Gitlin, Sady Doyle, James Thindwa, Micah Uetricht, Mickey Flacks, Maria Elena Sifuentes, Brittney Gault, Bill Ayers. Read it HERE.

    Get a Life
    At Jacobin, Peter Frase writes:

    Work in a capitalist society is a conflicted and contradictory phenomenon, never more so than in hard times. We simultaneously work not enough and too much; a labor famine for some means feast for others. The United States has allegedly been in economic "recovery" for over two years, and yet 15 million people cannot find work, or cannot find as much work as they say they would like. At the same time, up to two thirds of workers report in surveys that they would like to work fewer hours than they do now, even if doing so would require a loss of income. The pain of unemployment is well-documented, but the pain of the employed only occasionally sees the light, whether it's Amazon warehouse employees working at a breakneck pace in sweltering heat, or Foxconn workers risking injury and death to build hip electronics for Apple.

    When work is scarce, political horizons tend to narrow, as critiques of the quality of work give way to the desperate search for work of any kind. And work, of any kind, seems to be all that politicians can offer; right and left differ only on who is to blame for the scarcity of it. Go to the web site of the Barack Obama campaign, and you will be told at the top of the "Issues" page that "The President is taking aggressive steps to put Americans back to work and create an economy where hard work pays and responsibility is rewarded." Likewise the site of the AFL-CIO labor federation, where a man in overalls grins behind the words "work connects us all". This is how the virtuous working class appears in the liberal imagination: hard-working, responsible, defined, and redeemed by work, but failed by an economy that cannot create the necessary wage labor into which this responsibility can be invested.


    Is There a Future for Socialism?
    Well, is there? Also at Jacobin, Asad Haider and Salar Mohandesi ponder the question and the history.

    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, May 4 through May 26, Various
    Versionfest 12
    Various Locations
    "Bridgeport: the Community of the Future." For real. The next Pilsen but with Lugans. MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday through Sunday, May 4 - 6
    Labor Notes Conference
    Crowne Plaza O'Hare, 5440 North River Road, Rosemont

    Saturday, May 5, 10 AM to 12:30 PM or 1 PM to 3:30 PM
    The Power of Nonviolent Change
    Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Ave, Evanston
    Workshops and discussion to explore the theory and practice of Nonviolent Social Change. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, Sunday, May 5 - 6
    Green Festival
    Navy Pier, Chicago
    Ecological consumption, education and politics. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, May 5, 3 PM
    "The Dunayevskaya-Marcuse-Fromm Correspondence"
    Alternative Press Center, 2040 N. Milwaukee Ave, 2nd Floor, Chcago
    Russell Rockwell discusses his new book. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, May 5, 5 PM to 7 PM
    Where Do We Go From Here??
    Intuit Art Center, 756 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
    Public forum on education in Chicago. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, May 5, 8 PM
    Globalization Double Feature
    Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark St, Chicago
    "Maquilapolis: City of Factories" and "A Killer Bargain". $8. Cheap. MORE INFORMATION.

    Monday, May 7, 6 PM to 8 PM
    Global Policy and Local Health
    Access Living, 115 W. Chicago, Chicago
    All voices welcome.
    Panelists from the Mental Health Movement (STOP) and Access Living. MORE INFORMATION.

    Monday, May 7, 7 PM
    What Future for Our Youth?
    UofC Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th St, Chicago
    Cornel West and Carl Dix. MORE INFORMATION.

    Tuesday, May 8, 6 PM to 8 PM
    "99 to 1"
    Chicago Temple Dixon Chapel, 77 W. Washington St 2nd Floor, Chicago
    Chuck Collins reads from his new book, and a spirited discussion of wealth inequality, economic justice and the Occupy movement. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, May 9, 9 AM to 6 PM
    World Fair Trade Day
    Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington, Chicago
    Also in Barcelona, Rome, and London. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, May 9, 1 PM
    Know Your Rights
    A twitter chat to answer questions about the First Amendment, and how to protest safely and legally in the City of Chicago. MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday, May 11, 7:20 PM
    Social Justice Movements and Counterintelligence
    DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church, 1828 Old Naperville Rd, Naperville
    Showing of "Cointelpro 101" followed by panel discussion. MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday, May 11, 8 PM
    Chicago Protest Shorts
    Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark St, Chicago
    This selection of shorts couples the turbulent protests of the 1968 Democratic Convention with the March 20th, 2003 protest of the U.S. war on Iraq. $7. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, May 12 through Sunday, May 13
    The People's Summit
    Occupy Chicago, 500 W. Cermak, Chicago
    A weekend of panels and workshops dedicated to the struggle for a better world! MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, May 12, NOON
    Re-Dedication of the Studs Terkel Bridge
    Division Street over the Chicago River, Chicago
    Whose bridge? Studs' bridge! MORE INFORMATION.

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

    Saturday, May 12, 2 PM
    The Occuprint Collection
    Uri-Eichen Gallery, 2101 S. Halsted, Chicago
    Pilsen artist Roy Villalobos leads a talk about the Occuprint poster exhibit and the power of the image in protest movements. MORE INFORMATION.

    Monday, May 14, 7 PM to 8:30 PM
    IVAW Right to Heal Tour
    Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, 800 S. Halsted, Chicago
    Veterans will share their experiences in the military and lead a teach-in on the military's mental health crises and related suicide epidemic. MORE INFORMATION.

    Tuesday, May 15, 8 AM to 11 AM
    Global Landscape for Cleantech and Climate Change
    Baldwin/Hughes Auditorium, 303 E. Superior, Chicago
    Climate Change & Global Security; Global Policies Driving Cleaner Energy Development. RSVP Required. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, May 16, 11 AM
    Moratorium on Foreclosures and Evictions
    LaSalle & Jackson, Chicago
    Demanding a 1 year moratorium. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, May 16, 5:30 PM
    Studs Terkel Centennial Celebration
    Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton, Chicago
    Birthday party for Studs and his fans. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, May 16, 6:30 PM
    100 Years of Studs Terkel
    Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark, Chicago
    WFMT Critic-at-Large Andrew Patner explores Studs's life, legacy, and contributions to history through radio and TV clips. $15. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, May 16, 7:30 PM
    "Bound for Glory"
    Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
    1976 bio-pic of Woody Guthrie. $5. MORE INFORMATION.

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