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# 145

November -- December, 2012


  • The Other America -- 50 Years Later by Bill Barclay
  • Illinois Needs a Graduated Income Tax Now by Ron Baiman
  • After the Election: Keep Fighting by the DSA National Political Committee
  • Watch "The Internationale" by Peg Strobel
  • Other News compiled by Bob Roman
  • Talkin' Socialism
    DSA in the News
    October Jobs Report

  • The Battle Cry of Friedman by Hugh Iglarsh
  • Illinois Labor History Society by Tom Suhrbur
  • Upcoming Events of Interest
  • New Ground 145.1 -- 12.01.2012

    0. DSA News

    Reject the Fiscal Cliff, Tax the Rich, Invest in Infrastructure and Services
    DSA in the News

    1. Politics

    My Chicagoland Black Friday in Words and Pictures
    Fight for 15

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Why Not Socialism?

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 145.2 -- 12.15.2012

    0. DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism
    After the UN Vote: Support a Two State Solution
    Socialist International on Doha

    1. Politics

    Airports and Hyatts
    CPEG on the November Jobs Report
    Fat Cats
    Defending Pensions
    Newtown, CT

    2. Democratic Socialism

    New Frontiers in Parenting

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    New Ground 145.3 -- 12.31.2012

    0. DSA News

    DSA in the News
    Democratic Left
    Young Democratic Socialists

    1. Politics

    Forward! The Living Wage! by Tom Broderick
    Welcome to the New Moloch by William R. Kelley
    Highway Robbery
    It Was a Very Bad Year
    Free Minds, Free People

    2. Ars Politica

    Walter Mosley on the Square

    3. Democratic Socialism

    The Red and the Black

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest

    The Other America -- 50 Years Later

    by Bill Barclay

    Usually our artificial divisions of time -- a year, a decade, a century -- are just that, artificial. Important events don't usually sort themselves out based on these units we impose on time. However, looking back a half-century from 2012 to the year 1962 actually highlights some very significant events. It was in 1962 that a young political activist and writer published a book with the title The Other America. The book was about poverty and the author was Michael Harrington. But our half-century retrospective has to be about more than that single book to make 1962 a memorable year. In that same year a group of young college students gathered in eastern Michigan and wrote a short document called the Port Huron Statement -- the founding document of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the largest progressive movement in the last 70 years. And a woman named Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, the environmental call to action. Finally -- and here I'm going to cheat a little bit -- in February, 1963, appeared Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, the book that announced the reemergence of the feminist movement. In 2011, Time put all three of these books in its "most influential books of the 20th century" list. While this review and retrospective is primarily about The Other America, there are a few points where these documents intersect, or fail to do so, that are interesting.

    Harrington was not an expert on poverty, although he had first hand experiential knowledge as a result of two years with Dorothy Day's Catholic Worker activities. And he had written an article for Commentary (a very different Commentary than exists today) about poverty. Actually there were few experts on poverty in either the university or among the chattering classes. So Harrington was largely plowing new ground, and thus his understanding of and thoughts about poverty became and have remained integral to our way of thinking about the question of poverty. They also helped define national policy on poverty.

    Harrington's Invisible Poor For Harrington the poor really were "the other Americans" because they were invisible to the rest of America. Although Harrington does not provide a neat statistical breakdown of who the poor are, his chapter titles tell the story: "The Rejects," "Pastures of Plenty," "If You're Black, Stay Back," and "The Golden Years." In each of these cases the invisibility is manifest in three ways: geographically, socially, and statistically.

    The geographic invisibility was because of who the poor in 1962 were. Among the "rejects" were the rural migrants to the cities as well as what Harrington calls the economic underworld of urban life, the people in low wage, often short term jobs. Some of these were born into poverty, others became poor when a business closed up or moved. Some of the rejects live in the isolated small towns dependent on the mine that had closed or the factory that was shuttered. In the pastures of plenty, we find the migrant agricultural workers as well as many of the remaining small farmers in Appalachia, the northeast and elsewhere. Their scale of production is too small and/or the land they work or the crops they grow too poor to apply the technology for large scale agricultural production. In both cases, middle and upper income Americans pass by without seeing, in part because the new interstate highways circumvent the small towns and in part because low wage labor is, almost by definition, invisible. These people work behind the kitchen doors in restaurants, in the back room of the dry cleaners, at the loading docks in back of the retail stores, places where most Americans don't have reason to go.

    In what were to be their golden years, the elderly poor are also largely invisible because they have become were less physically mobile; they do not get out and about as they did when younger. In addition, they are no longer connected to the clubs and kin networks that had been part of their lives. Finally, the urban minority poor -- heavily African-American when Harrington wrote -- were largely invisible to the commuters who took the highways around or the trains above them on their way to and from the city.

    Geographic invisibility was strengthened by social invisibility. The mass consumption society of the 1950s and 1960s had made it possible for both middle income and the poor to dress similarly. No longer could the poor be distinguished by their mode and manner of clothing. The poor were also socially invisible because they were not integrated into the vibrant ethnic communities -- the Irish, the German, the Italian or the Polish networks of kith and kin that had sustained the poor of the latter 19th century through the first four decades of the 20th century. Finally, Harrington's statistical invisibility of the poor was the result of being the first minority poor in history. When a majority are poor in a democratic society, parties speak mobilize and speak for them. Harrington's poor are politically voiceless.

    The Dynamics of Poverty Creation Harrington explains the continued existence of poverty amidst plenty by reference to both technological and organizational changes that lifted many economically while leaving others behind. Since the 1920s, the technologies of mass production have created a mass consumption society. By the 1960s, most families had acquired the major symbols of middle income life that were themselves products of the mass consumption society: cars and TVs. Automobiles registered tripled between the mid-1930s and 1962, and the number of TVs increased 50-fold between 1948 and 1962. Between the 1930s and the 1960s, 30-40% of the US population was lifted from the status of poverty to that of middle class.

    This lifting up did not occur simply through the imperatives of production technology. It also was the result of organized action. Between the 1930s and the end of the 1950s, union membership increased six-fold, especially as a result of the creation and successful organizing drives of the CIO. The success of unionization raised the wages and living standards of a large segment of American society. This was true not only for union households but also for other workers whose employers responded to the possibility of unionization by following the wage and benefit standards set by unionized businesses.

    The Impact of "The Other America" Harrington's book was not an immediate best seller; after all, poverty -- in America -- was not a popular subject. In early 1963, however, a prominent intellectual, Dwight MacDonald, wrote a very long review essay in The New Yorker that discussed Harrington's work as well as others such as Gabriel Kolko's Wealth and Power in America. The essay was read by one of JFK's advisors -- and maybe by JFK himself. Kennedy expressed an in "doing something about poverty" to his chief economic advisor, Walter Heller. After Kennedy was assassinated, Heller passed this on to LBJ who called this "my kind of program." After his landslide win in the 1964 presidential election, Johnson decided that fighting poverty was to be his administration's number one domestic program, calling for a "war on poverty."

    Ronald Reagan once said "we declared a war on poverty and poverty won." This was a more accurate reflection of Reagan's lack of commitment to ending poverty than on the outcome of the effort. Between 1962 and 1979, the year prior to Reagan's election, the percentage of people in poverty fell by almost 50%, dropping from 21.0% to 11.7%. When Reagan made his snide remark in 1987, poverty had risen back to 13.4% but fell again in the 1990s to 11.3% by the end of the decade. And the percentage declines for various demographic categories were even more impressive. The poverty ratio for African American female-headed families fell from two-thirds in the early 1960s to less than 40% by 1999; for children, the decline was from more than 1 in 4 to less than 1 in 6 by 2000; and for the over-65 population, the decline was even more striking: from over 1/3 to less than 1/10. This last number is one more tribute to the book. In The Other America, Harrington highlighted the cost of health care as the driver of elderly poverty. Medicare and Medicaid were both products of the war on poverty. Of course there has been some slippage in these numbers since the turn of the century. At 15.1%, the official 2011 poverty level, we are back where we were in 1993, 1982 -- and 1966.

    The Limits of "The Other America" Like all books and all authors, Harrington and The Other America are a product of its times and the life experiences of its author. One of the persistent criticisms of the book is Harrington's use of the "culture of poverty" framework that was subsequently adopted by conservatives in a "blaming the victim" approach to poverty. This has been treated at some length elsewhere (see for example, Barbara Ehrenreich in 4/2/12 The Nation), and I will not comment on it here. However, there are some other interesting questions that can be raised about what Harrington wrote or did not write.

    This is a book by the leading young US socialists of his day. But it does not talk about class, and the word "inequality" never appears in the book. Harrington was later reported as saying he did not cast his analysis in terms of class because he was afraid that in the new "classless" society of the 1960s US, it would distract from his message. So the book is a moral trumpet, a call to do what is right simply because it is right. Perhaps harder to understand is the omission of any mention of inequality, the issue that has reemerged in US politics via Occupy Wall Street and its derivatives. Inequality also provides another, very important way of looking at poverty. Despite the progress that, even when looking at today's numbers, has been made in reducing poverty, the US is a very unequal society. This is especially apparent when looking at other wealthy countries. Among OECD members, only two, Israel and Mexico, have a higher proportion of their households with income of less than half the median. An inequality approach to poverty is more consistent with the temper and tone of movement that emerged from the Port Huron Statement rather than The Other America. Looked at through this frame, the US is much more like Mexico than like Sweden.

    The other striking omission in Harrington's work is any discussion of gender and poverty (or inequality). At the time of his writing, over 30% of married women were in the paid labor force, double the percentage in 1940. However, Harrington was not a fan of this development, as he makes clear in his Appendix where he tries to lay out more clearly the statistics of poverty in his time:

    "Yet a tremendous growth in the number of working wives is an expensive way to increase income. It will be paid for in terms of the impoverishment of home life, of children who receive less care, love and supervision."

    The contrast with Friedan's critique of the life of US housewives could hardly be more striking. It is also surprising in light of a long standing strand of socialist thought that argued for the industrialization of housework as the path to the emancipation of women.

    Conclusion What would Harrington say today about US society and poverty? Of course mind reading, especially of the deceased, is a risky business. However, I believe that his socialist commitment would have taken him into the streets with Occupy and their focus on inequality. He, like us, would have been outraged by the lack of any discussion of inequality in the just finished presidential campaign. And finally, he would continue to remind us of the challenge of poverty -- and inequality -- in a wealthy society.

    Illinois Needs a Graduated Income Tax Now

    by Ron Baiman

    Illinois remains a low tax state. Data from the 2011 Census data on state taxes which includes the impact of the 2011 Illinois Individual Income Tax increase reveals that Illinois ranks 38th in overall (state and local) taxes as a share of Personal Income and 30th relative to population, among the states. In fact, Illinois overall tax share is $ 4.4 billion less than the "average" (mid-ranking or median) state relative to state income or capacity.

    Illinois State taxes are among the most regressive in the country. The most recent 2007 tax data compiled by the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy shows that at 13.0% Illinois imposes the 3rd highest state and local (income, property, and sales) tax burden on the lowest 20% of non-elderly families based on income. The only states that tax these lowest income families at a higher rate are Washington and Florida, both of which raise all of their state tax revenue from property and sales taxes (the most regressive of the three major sources of state tax revenue). As the 2011 income tax change was "across the board" it most likely did not significantly change the family income structure of the Illinois tax system. The same data showed that Illinois' effective overall tax burden on the top 1% of families with $500,000 or more income was only 4.1%, the 12th lowest among the states.

    Illinois spending on current public services is well below average among the states. Data from the National Governor's Association, 2011 Annual Fiscal Survey of States, shows that Illinois ranks 37th in total current current General Fund (GF) spending on public services (excluding pensions) relative to its capacity (as share of state GDP) and is 29th among the states in absolute (per-capita) spending relative to its population. The data indicate that Illinois GF spending on public services would have to increase by $5.9 billion as a share of state GDP to have a "median" level of spending on public services relative to its capacity, so that the state spending would fall halfway between the 25th and 26th ranked states according to capacity or GDP.

    Illinois needs a Graduated Income Tax now. Illinois is a rich state. There is no reason for it to starve it's public services and impose such a high tax burden on its poorest households. There is every reason to ask high income households in Illinois to contribute more. A modestly graduated income tax in Illinois could raise 16% to 23% more income tax revenue and provide a tax cut to 94% of Illinois tax payers -- that is, all tax payers with Illinois Base Incomes of $100,000 or less (see: CTBA GIT report). If Illinois had Iowa's income tax rates (with Illinois deductions and credits), the state would raise 42% more in income tax revenue and still provide a large tax cut for most filers. If we had Oregon's rates we would raise 98% more in tax revenue. We need a constitutional amendment to allow a progressive income tax as 34 out of 41 states with an income tax have. The time to act is now!

    After the Election: Keeping Fighting

    DSA National Political Committee, November 16, 2012

    The Right, backed by a toxic flow of big money into politics and shameless efforts at voter suppression, tried to turn the 2012 election into a mandate for a regressive political agenda. The Republicans intended to overturn the modest gains of the president's first term and roll back progressive reforms dating back to the New Deal. Political circumstances-a weak economic recovery, a gerrymandered redistricting of the House of Representatives in many states, U.S. Senate contests for twice as many Democratic than Republican seats and a disillusioned progressive voting base-favored the right.

    Despite these conditions, the tenuous voting coalition that had elected Obama in 2008 reassembled in sufficient-and in some instances increased-numbers to reelect the president, every Senatorial progressive incumbent, as well as add several new female progressive Senators to that chamber. Though the House remains in Republican hands, a few of the most rabid Tea Partiers lost their seats. Progressives made significant gains in many state elections. Referenda throughout the country on gay marriage, on curbing the power of big money in politics, and on preserving union rights, generally had positive results. Taken as a whole, the results were a narrow but decisive victory for progressives that more than exceeded expectations, demonstrating just how out of touch the Republicans are. Progressive voters and their organizations can be justly proud of their role in achieving this result.

    However, we should find no reason for complacency. The national electorate remains sharply and almost evenly divided. While we applaud the steadfastness of African-American voters, the growing importance of a progressive Latino and Asian electorate, and the mobilization of female voters, we are concerned that across vast swatches of the country, a majority of white voters, in particular older males, voted for the candidates of the 1 percent. Those states not only awarded their electoral votes to Romney; their statehouses and governors remain committed to austerity, gerrymandering election districts to favor Republicans and suppressing social movements. In lower-turnout non-presidential election years, the toxic flood of campaign cash, voter suppression and gerrymandering could keep this status quo. Moreover, to sustain the progressive coalition and ensure future victories the election has to lead to legislative accomplishments that favor the 99 percent. Passively sitting back to rely on demographic changes in the electorate would be a disastrous strategy.

    While we note the tactical brilliance of the Democratic campaign in holding the line in crucial swing states, President Obama avoided any commitments to substantive change in the realm of economic policy or worker rights. The myriad and growing problems facing the working poor and the most vulnerable segments of the population were studiously ignored. The labor unions, feminist groups, communities of color and progressive organizations that provided the ground forces will have to mobilize strongly now to reap any real benefit for the people they represent.

    The task is complicated because the next obstacles are entrenched within the core of the Democratic Party. On the day after the election, "moderate" neoliberal groups like the Third Way and the Concord Coalition started placing editorials in the liberal media calling for a "Grand Bargain" that would cut "entitlements" in return for modest reforms in taxation. They appeal to a freshly-reelected President Obama whose cautious centrist instincts demand that he return to seeking "bi-partisanship" with Republicans.

    The challenges are many, and the best way not to lose heart is to address them sequentially. First, we must resist the immediate blackmail of the "Fiscal Cliff," that illegitimate offspring of the "Deficit Crisis" mania that paralyzed Washington in Obama's first term. DSA will work together in local coalitions with the many organizations of the Coalition on Human Needs to defend the interests of the working poor and most vulnerable members of society.

    DSA will also advance sensible demands that may not be those of all coalition members. Cutting military budgets and recognizing that military projects are ineffective at generating jobs are essential to right the economy. Medicare is best fixed by expanding it to cover all, young and old. A financial transactions tax ("Robin Hood Tax") would go a long way toward reducing the deficit.

    In 2013, DSA will help mobilize for an August March on Washington for Democracy and Equality, making use of its 50th Anniversary Other America materials in its preparation. We also support the call of Cornel West and Tavis Smiley for a White House Conference on ending poverty.

    And, we will organize for the YDS campaign for Affordable and Accessible Higher Education and to support the Student Loan Forgiveness Act.

    The election results firmly placed immigration reform on the national agenda; DSA reaffirms its support for comprehensive reform that welcomes and eases the path for millions of new citizens. We will actively take parts in campaigns to achieve it.

    DSA cannot try to do everything that should be done, but we should strive to do a few things well. Part of our internal political education program, using GET UP (Grassroots Economics Training for Understanding and Power) materials, is to bring together our analytic and organizing skills so that we can better set and carry out our local and chapter priorities.

    DSA is determined to use the breathing space won in the election campaign to refocus our resolve and strengthen our work for real social justice.

    Watch The Internationale

    by Peg Strobel

    We in Greater Oak Park DSA (GOPDSA) heard from comrades in Atlanta about a relatively new (and very interesting) film, The Internationale. We showed it at a recent meeting.

    The film chronicles the origin of the song, whose lyrics were written just after the fall of the Paris Commune in 1871 and whose melody followed in 1888. In the film, we hear it sung in many languages and learn of its importance in labor struggles from the U.S. and Europe, to workers in the Philippines, to Chinese workers and students in Tiananmen Square in June 1989, to members of the Young Democratic Socialists circa mid-1990s.

    A comrade of ours with a sharp musical ear noted that the Soviet version on the DVD was in a minor key. Various versions/translations of the lyrics can be found in Wikipedia.

    The film also features Billy Bragg's updated version, which he sang at Pete Seeger's 90th birthday concert. It's now in the IWW little red songbook, along with the original.

    You can see a trailer for the film at YouTube.

    If you want to view the film, it is available on loan through the suburban library system from Riverside (DVD780 INT) or, in Chicago, through Harold Washington Library (HWLC HM831.I58 2006). You can also buy it through outlets like Amazon or First Run Features. Institutional exhibitors should go through Icarus Films.

    Other News

    compiled by Bob Roman

    Talkin' Socialism

    Episode 21 -- Community Gardens and Building Community. Recorded 11.10.2012, featuring Julie Samuels and Elvia Rodriguez Ochoa. Julie Samuels coordinates Openlands' GardenKeepers Community Food Garden Network training program. Elvia Rodriguez Ochoa is the Chicago Southwest Community Programs Coordinator for the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children. They discuss using land in the city for community benefit through community gardens: restored natural environments, healthy local food, social and cultural experiences and safer neighborhoods. CLICK HERE for this and previous programs.

    DSA in the News

    In the first two weeks of November, most of the news coverage of DSA was election related. In particular, Detroit DSA's support of Dr. Syed Taj in Michigan's 11th Congressional District had become an issue in the race (Patch web-sites, most recently) and the subject of several stories fact-checking political ads, mostly in Dr. Taj's favor (Gannett papers, Examiner web-sites). If Dr. Taj had won this election, it would have been a very merry thing, but his marginal Tea Party opponent, Kerry Bentivollo, won this contest for a full term and Bentivollo lost a simultaneous election for the unexpired term for the same district against someone else. Ouch. See the Detroit News and Michigan Public Radio. In Minneapolis, the Twin Cities DSA endorsement of Doug Mann, a Green Party candidate for the Board of Education, was mentioned in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Mann also lost.

    Georgetown University's The Hoya covered a panel discussion on the 50th anniversary of The Other America organized by Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor, Metro D.C. Democratic Socialists of America and Dissent Magazine. At Daily Kos, Michael Bindner had a review essay on the 25th anniversary edition of Michael Harrington's Socialism: Past and Future.

    And finally, conservative activists (if no one else) are so familiar with the concept, at least, of a Democratic Socialists of America that in the Mansfield, Ohio, News Journal, one was quoted as denouncing a proposed amendment to the city charter as containing language coming "straight from the Democratic Socialists of America, pure and simple." Stuff like: the right to self-government, and that all power is inherent in the people. Gosh.

    October Jobs Report

    The good news is that this morning the BLS released a report stating that based on the "establishment" survey non-farm payroll increased by 171,000 jobs in October. Most of the job increases were in "Professional and Business Services" (51,000), "Health Care" (31,000), "Retail Trade" (36,000), "Leisure and Hospitality" (28,000), and "Construction" (17,000). "Non-farm payroll" are non-farm workers on payrolls, not including: agricultural workers, the self- employed, unpaid family workers, and private household workers. According to the broader "household" survey which includes all of the categories above, Employment in October increased by 410,000.

    The overall Unemployment Rate (UER) (calculated from the "household" survey") has increased slightly to 7.9% from its September rate of 7.8%, due mostly to a large increase in Black Unemployment from 13.4% in September to 14.3% in October. As the Unemployment Rate is calculated as the share of the Labor Force that is not employed, its level depends on both Employment growth and Labor Force Growth. This increase in the UER indicates that the Labor Force has grown more rapidly than Employment growth, particularly among African-Americans. Though October Employment growth of 410,000 has exceeded average monthly new entrants to the Labor Force (roughly 80,000 to 120,000), UER has increased because previously "discouraged", "marginally attached", or "part-time for economic reasons," workers have re-entered the Labor Force (defined as workers, willing and able to work, who have looked for a job in the last 30 days). Indeed the Labor Force grew in October by 578,000. This is a sign of increased optimism among the unemployed.


    The Battle Cry of Friedman

    (Inspired by a Rolling Stone column by Matt Taibbi, "Rewrite Thomas Friedman's Syrian Column, Win a Free Hand Grenade," ... but alas, not submitted.)
    If the midwife falls on a hand grenade
    While a fireman weeps at the grim charade,
    And the acid eats through cultural bonds,
    As invisible hands wave magical wands.
    If down with a puff goes the house of cards
    While the bodies pile 'midst the pottery shards,
    And the metaphors zing like shots in the night,
    They mutate and flicker, then fade out of sight.
    If analogies throng to frolic and play,
    And colliding, they cancel and hurry away.
    If, wits battered and shell-shocked, you utter a groan,
    Then you know you have entered the Friedman Zone.

    -- Hugh Iglarsh

    Illinois Labor History Society

    by Tom Suhrbur


    It is important for unions to educate their members and the public about the role of the labor movement in creating a more just and democratic society. Unions in Illinois are fortunate to have an organization devoted to this purpose.

    Founded by a group of union activists in 1969, the ILHS is the oldest labor history organization in the nation. It is recognized internationally as one of the premier labor history societies in the United States today. For the past 42 years, it has published numerous books and pamphlets. It has also conducted labor history tours, organized seminars, educated students, dedicated monuments and historic sites, and helped preserve the inspiring story of unionism in Illinois.

    The Illinois Labor History Society (ILHS) is a not-for-profit educational organization. Membership dues, contributions, and the selling of books, videos and other materials support it. ILHS also raises money from fees for labor tours, training programs and other services that it offers to the public.

    ILHS plays an active role in creating public appreciation for the rich cultural heritage of labor by sponsoring commemorative events, producing books and audiovisual materials, and working to preserve historic sites throughout Illinois. Its program involves the arts as integral to the preservation and development of a labor culture. It also assists students and teachers with labor history projects by directing them to useful historical resources.

    Moreover, ILHS acts as a liaison between the labor and academic communities, and it serves the media as an authoritative source for information and interpretation of union events in Illinois. It can be helpful to labor organizations and individuals with records of archival value who wish to place them in an appropriate repository.

    While composed primarily of Illinois residents, its membership has become nationwide as academics, unionists, and persons interested in labor history seek a supportive network, and wish to associate themselves with an effort to produce and disseminate vitally needed materials concerning labor history.

    Editor's Note: The Illinois Labor History Society just recently moved to a new location: 123 W. Madison St, Suite 905, Chicago, IL 60602.

    DSA member Ed Sadlowski, and Alice Peurata, and Frank Lumpkin (all Steelworkers) will be inducted into the Illinois Labor History Society's "Hall of Honor" at their annual awards dinner. The event will be on Sunday, December 2, 4:30 PM at the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 11 Hall, 3850 S. Wabash, in Chicago. Tickets are $75. For more information, call 312.663.4107 or CLICK HERE.

    Here is a brief summary of ILHS activities:

    Historic Preservation: ILHS has worked hard to preserve historical sites such as Mt. Olive's 'Coal Miners' Cemetery and the Mother Jones Monument, Pullman, and the Gate at the Chicago Union Stock Yards.

    ILHS is the steward of the Haymarket Memorial in Forest Home Cemetery (Forest Park) and the surrounding plot of land on which Lucy Parsons, Emma Goldman and any other labor heroes are buried. The U.S. Department of the Interior recognized the monument as a National Historic Landmark in 1997. Every year, many people from around the world come to pay tribute to the Martyrs who died in the fight for the eight-hour day.

    ILHS had the Monument professionally restored; on May Day (2011), several thousand union supporters attended the ceremony rededicating the monument.

    Films: It has supported the production and distribution of films and videos including the Memorial Day Massacre of 1937, Palace Cars and Paradise (Pullman Strike) and Democracy at Work, Discovery of Illinois Labor History.

    Publications: The ILHS has sponsored the research and publication of numerous books, pamphlets and other materials. The Society operates a mail-order service for labor books and educational materials for children as well as adults. It has funded the reprinting of many out-of-print books related to labor history.

    Arts: It has sponsored plays, murals and photo exhibits on Illinois labor history.

    Tours: It has published several tour guides and has conducted group tours of Chicago's historic sites.

    Education Programs: ILHS has published curriculum guides for K-12 students on its web-site and union training programs.

    Events: It honors labor unions and leaders at its annual Union Hall of Honor, has sponsored labor history conferences and an annual May Day Celebration at the Haymarket Memorial.

    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, November 23, 5:30 AM
    Stand with Wal-Mart Workers
    6530 S. Cicero, Bedford Park
    Gather for coffee and donuts. From there we'll load up on buses and head to a number of Chicagoland Wal-Marts to support workers that are on strike. MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday, November 23, 10 AM
    Wal-Mart Flash Mob
    Wal-Mart, 5630 W. Touhy Ave, Niles
    Ask an extremely profitable company to ensure their workers are paid a living wage and have decent benefits. MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday, November 23, 11 AM
    Letter Delegation to Wal-Mart
    Wal-Mart, 3636 N. Broadway, Chicago
    Ask an extremely profitable company to ensure their workers are paid a living wage and have decent benefits. MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday, November 23, 2 PM to 1 AM
    Peace Fest Harvest
    Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago

    Tuesday, November 27, 1 PM to 2:30 PM
    "The True Tale of Pocahontas"
    UIC Latino Cultural Center Lecture Center B2, Chicago
    The story of colonialism is revealed. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, November 28, 7:30 PM
    "Lyin' Cheatin' Bastards"
    Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark St, Chicago
    Readings from a book about politicians. MORE INFORMATION.

    Thursday, November 29, 4 PM to 6 PM
    "How Much Is a Life Worth?"
    Pop Up JUST Art space, 729 S. Maxwell St, Chicago
    Documentary on impacts of, and responses to, the closing of 6 public mental health clinics in Chicago in April 2012. RSVP. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, December 1, 8:30 AM to 4 PM
    VenueSIX10, 610 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago
    Interactive Conference on Civil Liberties & Human Rights. Registration $20 - $100. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday - Sunday, December 1 - 2
    Ending the Nuclear Age
    University of Chicago (International House & Reynolds Hall), Chicago
    A Conference observing the 70th Anniversary of the 1st sustained chain reaction, and the birth of the Nuclear Age. $50. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, December 1, 2:30 PM
    Elections 2012 and the Prospects for a Decent Future
    Lincoln Park Public Library, 1150 W. Fullerton, Chicago
    Paul Street provides a left perspective. An Open University of the Left event. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, December 1, 3 PM
    Lost Worlds, Forgotten Futures, Undreamed Ecstasies
    Alternative Press Center, 2040 N. Milwaukee Ave 2nd Floor, Chicago
    Penelope Rosemont shares some thoughts on the relationship of surrealism to the Mayan Millennium. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, December 1, 4 PM to 7 PM
    "Arrested Justice"
    Experimental Station, 6100 S. Blackstone Ave, Chicago
    Conversation with Beth Richie on her new book on black women, violence, and America's prison nation. MORE INFORMATION.

    Sunday, December 2, 4:30 PM
    Union Hall of Honor Dinner
    National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 11 Hall, 3850 S. Wabash, Chicago
    Inducting Ed Sadlowski, Alice Peurata, and Frank Lumpkin. $75. MORE INFORMATION.

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    New Ground #145.1



    0. DSA News

    Reject the Fiscal Cliff, Tax the Rich, Invest in Infrastructure and Services
    DSA in the News

    1. Politics

    My Chicagoland Black Friday in Words and Pictures
    Fight for 15

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Why Not Socialism?

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    DSA News

    Reject the Fiscal Cliff, Tax the Rich, Invest in Infrastructure and Services
    A statement of the National Political Committee of the Democratic Socialists of America, November 20, 2012

    Like other progressive groups, DSA rejects the notion that some "unified" fiscal cliff must be addressed in the lame-duck session of Congress. It is in fact a "fiscal obstacle course" that Congress should address without panic early in 2013, while heeding the election results. A progressive solution would include restoring all automatic domestic cuts, while making more strategic and deeper cuts in defense procurement spending. The revenue for expanding domestic social welfare spending can be raised by ending the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% and corporate tax-giveaways, while instituting a modest financial transaction tax on stock and bond transactions. In addition, Congress should restore the tradition of not requiring a separate authorization vote every time the current debt ceiling is crossed. Requiring such a vote provides the right with endless opportunities to blackmail the Congress into counter-productive budget slashing. MORE.

    Frequently asked questions about the "Fiscal Cliff".

    DSA in the News
    Platypus Review 51 features an interview with Cornel West. Oak Park's Wednesday Journal posted an op-ed by GOPDSA's Tom Broderick: "More Jobs Will Stimulate the Economy."


    My Chicagoland Black Friday in Words and Pictures
    At Talking Union, Bob Simpson writes:

    Walmart stocks up on products manufactured under deadly sweatshop conditions. It organizes Black Friday sales knowing they can touch off riots in their stores. Then Walmart sends security guards and police after peaceful demonstrators who only seek justice in the global workplace. Who said irony is dead? MORE.

    Fight for 15
    Black Friday was also the premier action of a new union organizing low wage workers on Chicago's "Magnificent Mile," one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country. Action Now is involved in this project. For those interested in history, Action Now had been the Illinois affiliate of ACORN but had separated from ACORN about a year before the national organization broke up. They also had been deeply involved in organizing the United Labor Unions, part of which became SEIU Local 880, now SEIU Healthcare. (Elsewhere, UTU still exists, having separated from SEIU.) The bottom line is: This was more than just a pretty demonstration. This is a project backed a history of successful organizing.

    During the 20th Century's Great Depression, the homeless unemployed and under-employed made their own homes in shantytowns across the nation, called "Hoovervilles". A network of groups catalyzed around IIRON is planning a shantytown demonstration in Chicago's Federal Plaza, Adams & Dearborn, at Noon on Thursday, December 6, possibly including bread and soup lines at Noon on Monday through Wednesday.

    As IIRON describes it:

    What's at stake? Senator Durbin supports a "Grand Bargain" -- the Simpson-Bowles plan -- that raises Social Security eligibility to age 67 and slashes its Cost of Living Adjustment. These cuts will hurt the elderly, veterans and the disabled at a time when our communities are already struggling, and in the long run gut benefits for the most popular -- and critical -- program in our nation's history.

    You may detect a certain "iirony" here, begging your pardon, as Durbin is one of the farther left members of the U.S. Senate. Durbin has been trying to reassure his constituency that cuts to social service programs will not be an option in resolving the "fiscal cliff" (see Progress Illinois). But in previous encounters, IIRON has found Durbin's responses to be more equivocal than satisfactory, probably because he is also the Democratic Whip and thus responsible for lining up votes for whatever Obama negotiates with the Republican leadership. Thus putting pressure on Durbin is a way of also putting pressure on Obama.

    Democratic Socialism

    Why Not Socialism?
    At In These Times, Maria Svart writes:

    Democratic socialism provides a counterweight to the Tea Party agenda of reaction and division. We advocate for an expanded electoral and economic democracy along with deep citizen engagement. We know that many Americans share these values. People want a voice in decisions that affect their lives, and they know that the only way to cut the deficit is to put people back to work. We also know that 49 percent of people aged 18-29 have a positive view of socialism, according to a Pew poll released last year, and that class consciousness is on the rise.

    Now is the time to continue building a political movement capable of challenging the neoliberal capitalist consensus. It is clear why we need a socialist organization in the United States. The Right has been too successful in its red-baiting, stymying even the most moderate reforms to rein in corporate power. We need a movement explaining and de-stigmatizing democratic socialism in order to create the rhetorical and political space for progressive, if not socialist, change. 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.

    Monday, December 3, 5 PM to 7:30 PM
    Radical Interpretations of the Present Crisis
    International House, 1414 E. 59th St, Chicago
    Raymond Lotta, Joe Persky, David Ruccio, David Schweickart, et. al., address the question. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, December 5, 7 PM
    Teacher Pension "Reform"
    Tau Center, 26W171 Roosevelt Rd, Wheaton
    How we got into the pension mess currently plaguing Illinois. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, December 5, 6 PM to 8 PM
    "Body Wisdom"
    Harold Washington Library Pritzker Auditorium, 400 S. State, Chicago
    A celebration of dynamic movement, creative community, and personal stories from neighborhoods throughout Chicago. MORE INFORMATION.

    Thursday, December 6, 8:45 AM to 3:15 PM
    Metropolitan Resilience in a Time of Economic Turmoil
    UIC Forum, 725 W. Roosevelt Rd, Chicago
    A gathering of suits discussing urban policy. $25. MORE INFORMATION.

    Thursday, December 6, Noon
    Durbin: Don't Bargain Away Our Future
    Federal Plaza, Adams & Dearborn, Chicago
    The "Fiscal Cliff" looms and Senator Durbin is willing to throw us under the bus. Protest. MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday, December 7, 7:30 PM
    "We Are Legion"
    Columbia College Hokin Hall, 623 S. Wabash Ave, Chicago
    Documentary on Anonymous, the radical "hacktivist" collective. $8. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, December 8, 10 AM to 2 PM
    Together: Education Summit
    Marshall High School, 3250 W. Adams, Chicago
    on defending public education. Registration required. MORE INFORMATION.

    Monday, December 10, 4 PM to 6 PM
    Unfinished Business: 21st Century Home Economics
    Hull-House Museum, 800 S. Halsted St, Chicago
    Opening of a community curated, participatory exhibition. MORE INFORMATION.

    Monday, December 10, 7 PM to 10 PM
    Be One of 2 Million Friends
    Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ, 615 W. Wellington Ave, Chicago
    Petition asking the UN to broker a cease fire in Afghanistan. MORE INFORMATION.

    Tuesday, December 11, 8 AM to 12:30 PM
    Breaking New Ground
    IIT Hermann Hall, 3241 S. Federal, Chicago
    Campaign for Better Health Care annual meeting. $50. MORE INFORMATION.

    Tuesday, December 11, 5 PM
    Someone Like Me
    Hyatt Center, 71 S. Wacker Dr, Chicago
    Workers demand representation. MORE INFORMATION.

    Tuesday, December 11, 6 PM to 8 PM
    Now What?
    Roosevelt University Congress Lounge, 430 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago
    Panel on the state of our movements in the post-election moment. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, December 14, 6 PM to 8 PM
    All Black Women Everything
    Blanc Gallery, 4455 S. King Dr., Chicago
    Angela Jackson invokes the poetry of Carolyn Rodgers & more. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, December 12, 7 PM to 9 PM
    Citizen Advocacy Center Holiday Cheer Party
    Cafe Amano, 105 S. York Rd, Elmhurst
    and 2012 Citizen Initiative Awards. MORE INFORMATION.

    Thursday, December 13, 6 PM to 7:30 PM
    Shine a Light for Immigrant Justice
    Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington, Chicago
    Take action on private detention facilities. MORE INFORMATION.

    Thursday, December 13, 6 PM
    "Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind"
    Woman Made Gallery, 685 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
    Showing of documentary. MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday, December 14, 7:20 PM
    "The Economics of Happiness"
    DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church, 1828 Old Naperville Rd, Naperville
    Showing of documentary and discussion. MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday, December 14, 8 PM to 9 PM
    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    Uri-Eichen Gallery, 2101 S. Halsted, Chicago
    Does it matter? Panel discussion: Ansou Diallo, Patrick Kelly, Larry Spivack, plus opening reception 1st Annual Human Rights Day show. MORE INFORMATION.

    Monday, December 17, 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM
    The Veneration of Whores
    ARTango Center Chicago, 4203 N. Ravenswood Ave, Chicago
    International day to end violence against sex workers. MORE INFORMATION.

    New Ground #145.2



    0. DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism
    After the UN Vote: Support a Two State Solution
    Socialist International on Doha

    1. Politics

    Airports and Hyatts
    CPEG on the November Jobs Report
    Fat Cats
    Defending Pensions
    Newtown, CT

    2. Democratic Socialism

    New Frontiers in Parenting

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest

    DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism
    Episode 22
    -- Labor in Higher Education
    Recorded 12.08.2012, featuring Holly Graff, Professor of Philosophy at Oakton Community College and Senator in the Illinois Education Association chapter at the college; and Joe Persky, Professor of Economics at University of Illinois at Chicago and President of United Faculty, affiliated with both the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors. How can unions held defend higher education in today's political economy? Can labor help keep post-secondary education democratic and accessible? The discussion compares and contrasts two public institutions with rather different labor histories. This episode's host is GOPDSA's Bill Barclay. For more background on the subject, Joe Persky recommends Academic Capitalism and the New Economy by Sheila Slaughter and Gary Rhoades. Also see the Fall, 2012, issue of Dissent Magazine.

    MP3 (30.2 MB) or OGG VORBIS (33.6 MB).

    Past Episodes

    If you like this or previous episodes of Talkin' Socialism, please consider making a donation to support the program. The ethereal and ephemeral nature of the web and email argue that it should be free. And it is. But we still do have some expenses: a higher speed connection where once we had a slow but free dial-up; a web host that costs a few cups of coffee each month; domain registration that adds maybe a muffin to the mix. It all adds up to several hundred dollars each year, and we're being very frugal.

    If you can spare a few dollars, go to http://www.chicagodsa.org/ and click the "Donate" button. The IRS bids us remind you that your contribution is not tax deductible.

    After the UN Vote: Support a Two State Solution
    Statement of the National Political Committee of the Democratic Socialists of America

    Democratic Socialists of America endorses the decision of the United Nations to grant Palestine Non-Member Observer State status. We regard the U.N.'s recognition of a Palestinian state as a vital step forward towards a durable, just, comprehensive, negotiated two-state peace. We regret that Israel and the United States actively opposed the Palestinian application. As we stated in our 2009  Statement on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and Winning Peace with Justice in the Middle East:

    Peace in the Middle East and justice for both the Palestinian and Israeli people can only be achieved through mutual recognition by each side of the right of each people to viable and secure states of their own, in which the rights of minorities are also guaranteed.


    Socialist International on Doha
    The United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP18/CMP8, which this year took place in Doha, Qatar, concluded last weekend. Negotiations were extended in an effort to reach a positive decision involving all parties; however, yet again, we have witnessed a COP sadly devoid of significant decisions on climate change, one of the most serious issues humankind currently faces.

    This demonstrates once more the lack of political will to deal with this challenge. The refusal of some governments to prioritise climate change and its consequences exposes a vast inadequacy of effective global governance and a disregard of moral obligations. Without political will there is no political action. MORE.


    "Bring your banners!" the organizers urged. And so we did. On December 6, people gathered in the Federal Plaza at Dearborn and Jackson to protest Senator Durbin's equivocal position on entitlement cuts in the "fiscal cliff" negotiations. The noon-time protest, including a token civil disobedience in the lobby of the Federal Building, was the culmination of a week of soup line protests in the plaza. It also included a symbolic "Durbinville" of cardboard shanties recalling the Hoovervilles of the Great Depression. Some 300 to 400 people participated, including as many as a dozen DSA members. In addition to a Chicago DSA banner, we distributed copies of our "Fiscal Cliff or Fiscal Fake-Out?" flyer, an edition specifically prepared for the demonstration. We concentrated on distributing the flyer to passers-by rather than the protest. Prior to the protest, these were mostly dismissive suits and preoccupied pedestrians, but later, passers-by were not waiting to be handed a flyer but taking them. CANTV covered the demonstration live. For all the speeches CLICK HERE.

    Airports and Hyatts
    On Tuesday, December 11, SEIU and friends crowded into Chicago City Hall in an ongoing campaign protesting the City's decision to award the janitorial contract to a non-union, mob connected firm. As Bob Simpson wrote at Daily Kos:

    Mayor Emanuel's latest O'Hare Airport janitorial contract seems to be coming with pinkie rings and tailored silk suits attached. Yes, City Hall is reaching out to the Outfit again, renewing a Mob friendship that dates back at least to Mayor Big Bill Thompson of the Prohibition Era. Thompson's heart went all aflutter when he heard the name Al Capone. The Outfit is a local Chicago name for what most Americans call the Mob or the Syndicate. MORE.

    You can sign a petition in support of the soon-to-be laid off workers HERE.

    Later that afternoon, hundreds of UNITE HERE members and friends picketed the Hyatt Corporation world headquarters, demanding a seat on the board of directors, as unions often have in Europe.

    In recent years, Hyatt has faced tough criticism for its record of labor abuses. Now housekeepers say they have a simple solution to move Hyatt in a new direction. In events nationwide this week, Hyatt workers are urging the company to add a hotel worker to its board of directors. Workers say Hyatt would be better off if someone who served hotel guests at some point in the last decade actually had a say in how the company is run. MORE.

    For photos, CLICK HERE.

    CPEG on the November Jobs Report
    This morning the BLS reported 146,000 new jobs, a greater than expected number in light of the assumed impact of Sandy on employment. Although state level data is not yet available, the BLS indicated that preliminary findings showed relatively little impact from the storm. The report brings the 2012 YTD monthly average job creation to 151,000, just slightly above the November numbers and very similar to the 153,000/month average in 2011. The average levels of job creation over the past two years are sufficient to make some quite limited progress against the huge overhang of unemployed from the surge of job losses during the official beginning and end of the Great Recession. Apparently the "job creators" were not scared off by Obama's reelection.

    That is the good news. What else does the report tell us about the ongoing Lesser Depression? MORE.

    Fat Cats
    Who are behind the movement to destroy public education in Chicago? Fat Cats!

    Defending Pensions
    We Are One Illinois and various Illinois unions are preparing for possible action in Springfield on Thursday, January 3 and Friday, January 4. Here's the Facebook events page.

    Newtown, CT
    Had enough? CLICK HERE.

    Democratic Socialism

    New Frontiers in Parenting
    Baby coops! MORE.

    And at Slate, Claire Lundberg writes:

    The coming presidential election represents a choice, says Mitt Romney: a choice between evil European-style socialism and good old American can-do capitalism. As a new mother in France, I'm here to argue that he's wrong. Neither candidate represents actual European-style socialism. And it's a damned shame they don't. The women of America would have a much better shot at having it all if they did. 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.

    Monday, December 17, 2:30 PM
    Chalking Is Not a Crime
    Cook County Circuit Court, 2452 W. Belmont Chicago
    Or it shouldn't be. Pack the courtroom for Marissa Brown's hearing. MORE INFORMATION.

    Monday, December 17, 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM
    The Veneration of Whores
    ARTango Center Chicago, 4203 N. Ravenswood Ave, Chicago
    International day to end violence against sex workers. MORE INFORMATION.

    Tuesday, December 18, 6 PM
    Homeless Persons' Memorial
    Old St. Patrick's Church, 700 W. Adams, Chicago

    Thursday, December 20, 4 PM to 5:30 PM
    Drone Protest
    Boeing HQ, 100 N. Riverside Plaza (Randolph @ Chicago River), Chicago
    Protest use of spy drones over Iran. MORE INFORMATION.

    New Ground #145.3



    0. DSA News

    DSA in the News
    Democratic Left
    Young Democratic Socialists

    1. Politics

    Forward! The Living Wage! by Tom Broderick
    Welcome to the New Moloch by William R. Kelley
    Highway Robbery
    It Was a Very Bad Year
    Free Minds, Free People

    2. Ars Politica

    Walter Mosley on the Square

    3. Democratic Socialism

    The Red and the Black

    4. Upcoming Events of Interest

    DSA News

    DSA in the News
    At the Boston Review, Jake Blumgart interviewed DSA member and founder of Jacobin magazine, Bhaskar Sunkara, about Jacobin magazine, socialism, Michael Harrington, and MORE.

    DSA did get mentioned apparently, in passing, in an interview with Professor Stephen Eric Bronner (Rutgers) published recently in the English-language Tehran Times. The journalist, Kourosh Ziabari, maintains an his own blog where he also posted his interview HERE.

    Mediaite had a brief account of "Cornell" West's remarks about the Sandy Hook massacre. DSA was mentioned in passing as an identifier. As it was an elaboration of an account posted on the National Review Online, the article was echoed on several conservative blogs.

    Democratic Left
    The Winter, 2013, issue of Democratic Left is online. This issue includes Bill Barclay interviewing Deborah Meier on the Chicago Teachers strike, Paul Garver on Chinese students and workers confronting global capitalism, Duane Campbell explaining "Right to Work" and MORE. (PDF)

    Young Democratic Socialists
    The YDS Winter Conference will be held February 15 through 17 in Brooklyn, NY. For more information or to register, CLICK HERE.


    Forward! The Living Wage!
    by Tom Broderick
    Although we haven't couched the fight for a living wage ordinance in these terms, it is prosperity, not austerity that will move our economy forward. One of the principal arguments made by the Village Board against the living wage ordinance for Oak Park is that it is symbolic. Anyone who will see their income rise because Oak Park enacts a living wage ordinance will see a real difference in their lives. We have worked for years to get a living wage ordinance passed in Oak Park and made gains only to have the Village Board try to derail the ordinance.

    At the January 7th Village Board meeting, Trustee Colette Lueck will ask that the Board put the living wage ordinance on the Board agenda. This is a small but significant step. The Village Board has not had any public discussion on the issue other than to strip the recommendation made by the Community Relations Commission (CRC) to enact a living wage ordinance from the report prepared by the CRC and presented to the Village Board.

    I urge you to attend the January 7th Village Board meeting and if you are so inclined, speak in support of it during the public comments section of the meeting. The meeting is at 7:30 PM on Monday, January 7th at Village Hall. Village hall is 123 Madison (Madison and Lombard). You enter from the south side of the building, by the parking lot. If you want to speak, you have to sign up in advance of the meeting.

    A brief history:

    On the November 2008 Oak Park ballot, a referendum calling for a living wage ordinance was endorsed by all but three Oak Park precincts.

    In February of 2009 the Village Board tasked the CRC with studying the idea for a living wage ordinance. After 13 months of very dedicated study, the CRC endorsed a living wage ordinance by a vote of 7 to 2.

    After a presentation to the Village Board by the CRC, the Village Board voted 4 to 3 to strip the recommendation to enact a living wage ordinance from the CRC report, in essence killing any further movement on the ordinance.

    We refuse to let a parliamentarian maneuver put an end to the values exhibited by the voters of Oak Park and the citizen's CRC.

    The ordinance covers three types of workers.

    • Workers employed by Village Hall, who currently all make a living wage -- we just want this locked into place;
    • Workers employed by contractors and subcontractors hired by Village Hall -- some of these workers make a living wage, while others do not;
    • Workers employed by businesses/organizations who receive $50,000 per year from the Village for whatever reason -- getting information on this group proved very elusive, even for the CRC.

    So, I hope you can join us on Monday, January 7th to continue pushing for something that will make a concrete difference in the lives of people who are in one way or another paid by the citizens of Oak Park.

    A living wage = Oak Park values.

    Welcome to the New Moloch
    It Doesn't Need to Be This Way
    by William R. Kelley
    Another day, another multiple murder. Usually, when only small numbers of family or community members are killed, the stories hardly make the local news. But when a mass of individuals with no relation to the killer are slaughtered by a disgruntled man wishing to express his pain and anger in the way he's been taught is best, the rest of America sits up to take notice. There is a brief outpouring of grief for the innocents, and those related to the dead begin to ask: What has happened to the country? Can we be safe at the mall? At the theater? In our places of worship? In our schools? In open meetings with public officials? But nothing changes because gun-rights extremists have always had the final answer, and it is, "No: you can never be safe, if by safe you mean to be relaxed, unarmed, with no one standing guard. The only form of safety is to make sure that every adult is at all times loaded for the unbearable and vigilant for its outbreak."

    Societies with high levels of handgun ownership can have low levels of violence, though this requires collective responsibility. Societies with high levels of individualism can also have low levels of violence, though this requires restrictions on who can have access to high-capacity handguns and rifles. Instead, because of so-called Second Amendment absolutists, America has turned itself into something ghastly: individuals are welcome to run amok, and when they do, they can count on semi-automatic handguns and assault-style rifles to be ready at hand. It doesn't have to be this way.

    The NRA and their allies have been victorious in part because they aggressively push a half-truth. It is true that "guns don't kill people." Nations with high levels of handgun ownership can have low levels of interpersonal violence, as long as people can use what social scientists call "informal social control." When, in 1984, I visited the valley of Swat, in what was at the time the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan, I witnessed such a society. The basic rule is simple: men whose families and clan segments are involved in feuds carry firearms, while those who are not do not have to. In the guest room of my host, a family pleased to have no outstanding feuds, this meant that two men from the family were able to walk around unarmed -- but the other nine men in the room were all packing. The most common weapon was a 9 mm Beretta knock-off, carried in a pocket of an undershirt below the kemiz. Revolvers were thought to be too fat to be easily concealed, though one man had a double-barreled derringer strapped to his ankle, and another had a revolver in a shoulder holster. In Mingora, the main bazaar town for lower Swat, men from more rural areas were wont to carry Enfield duplicates, or AK-47s and Kalashnikovs purchased from mujahideen operating in Afghanistan.

    The weapons were there as deterrents -- to make sure no one who belonged to an enemy family or clan segment got the wrong idea and decided this was the time to take revenge for an outstanding grievance -- so others were not at risk. The weapons, while in impeccable condition, were rarely used, and when they were, they were pointed at persons who were relevant within the system of feuds. For everyone else the level of violence was low. Understanding this, I felt quite safe. This became clear when a group of European tourists emerged from a huge air conditioned tour bus that had settled in a cloud of dust in the middle of Mingora. My host had just introduced me to the pleasures of a mango milk shake, made fresh at a cart on the side of the street, and it was amusing to see a group of mixed Germans, Belgians, and Frenchmen pour from the bus -- then huddle close to the door when they saw all the men toting rifles, and whisper to each other about the "wild west." I approached one man and reassured him that he and the group were in no personal danger.

    This was not only not the wild west, it was safer than the wild west, because the families and clan segments made sure guns did not go off in a way that could get everyone in trouble. Guns were so ubiquitous that even boys knew how to handle them, but even boys had been so drilled in the basics of gun usage that safe handling techniques were automatic. And if it looked like someone could not handle a gun safely, including possession of enough judgment to know when and when not to shoot someone, the families and clan members had no hesitation in removing all guns from that person's environment. After all, the point of clans among Pashtuns is to establish collective responsibility, and if an unstable person killed someone for no good reason it could get everyone involved in a feud that no one wanted. And feuds, once initiated, are often not easy to resolve. The reality of collective responsibility invites Pashtuns to feel they have the right, without need for recourse to the institutions of formal government, to remove weapons from anyone they believe can't handle them.

    The traditional Pashtun system of unofficial, family-based social control prevented high levels of gun ownership from creating a society with daily bloodshed. In the United States, though, no one is permitted to interfere with the liberties of adults unless they can be officially shown to be a clear and present danger to themselves or others. I recall a graduate student who suffered what appeared to be an acute psychotic episode related to a personality disorder. After a brief admission to the university hospital for stabilization and observation the person was released -- but to no one's care. The student was not well, so I asked the university representative to contact the student's parents, anything other than a discharge to no one. But the hospital and university were adamant that this was an adult, and as long as there was no clear and present danger to the individual or others they could do nothing. And that's the American Way: Within broad limits, adults have the right to make sure no one can become involved in their life if they don't want them to. Civil society must remain indifferent to their well-being.

    Civil indifference to individuals is a problem because, while the NRA and its allies are right to claim that "Guns don't kill people," it is wrong to conclude, "people kill people." No, it is people with guns who kill people. When, in China, an unstable man attacks school children with a knife, the result is four hospitalized with "serious injuries," and roughly eighteen who suffer lesser injuries. When an unstable American armed with a .223 caliber Bushmaster semi-automatic carbine attacks a classroom, the result is twenty children dead. And six adults. When disturbed people have at hand highly lethal means for expressing themselves, the results are what America has been witness to for the last several decades. As one member of a police watchdog group phrased it, as far back as the the 1980s, "I'm not worried about how many guns there are out there; I'm worried about every half-crazed grandmother who's waving one around."

    One President wannabe claimed that mass murder perpetrated by young men is the result of a removal of God from the schools, but this is sheerest folly. Like pre-colonial Malaysia, America is an intensely rank-stratified society where it is difficult to rise, easy to fall, and very difficult to recover from a trip-up. The social world described by Tocqueville has long passed. And like the Malaysian kingdoms, men who feel thwarted and demeaned are permitted to simmer until they become unstable and, eventually, explode. Malaysia gave us the word "amok" to describe these lethal outbursts, but Americans now run amok in the same way. True, people with fragile personalities are the ones most easily drawn to fantasies of payback that finally become fantasias of blood, but under the right circumstances almost any emotionally isolated person with a rigid streak could come to the same violent conclusion. The period of resentful brooding erodes the morality of individuals, destabilizing them as it deludes them, and no amount of "God in the schools" will overcome that. Anyone who claims the contrary lives in a gated compound of his own imagination, walled in by an ideology that cannot admit human psychology, and can add nothing of value to the discussion.

    Yet it is possible for individualist, rank-stratified societies with an abundance of guns to remain relatively peaceful. One method is to make handguns and military-style assault weapons difficult to own. Consider Canada, which has high levels of long-barrel firearms ownership. There is plenty of firepower for the sports enthusiast or, if it came to that, the formation of citizen militias. But the handguns and high-capacity carbines that are favored by mass murderers, spree killers, and others of the sort -- these the Canadians have made difficult to come by. The results can be seen in their lower levels of homicide. The same low rate can be seen in most of Great Britain where, between the world wars, a series of restrictions sharply reduced the number of handguns in private hands. Even the Australians, hardly known as collectivists, were so disturbed by the first modern mass killings they decided not to catch the "American disease," and greatly reduced the number of assault-style semi-automatic rifles held by individuals. It is so much more difficult to kill someone when using other methods that the difference affects the overall rate of murder. These are much safer societies, and without infringing on access to anything but handguns and assault-type weapons.

    Americans, though, have opted to have the worst of both worlds. By pushing a half-truth the NRA and its allies have been able to defend an absolutist interpretation of a clause in the Second Amendment. Semi-automatic handguns and assault-type weapons have, indeed, become cheap and plentiful. And by pushing an extreme theory of civil liberties, individuals have been enabled to hang on to their guns until they can, at length, find a way make their mark on society.

    Combine extreme legal individualism with easily available military-grade weapons, and the result is the horror show that is America today. There will be no safety for shoppers, for theater-goers, for students, for worshipers, or any other occasion where people gather in groups. At any moment someone may reveal his secret identity, cry "I am the shooter," and have the slaughter of the innocents begin.

    But for all the verbal chaff tossed into the air after every mass murder, perhaps the worst half-truth is the suggestion that the best answer to gun violence is for every individual to become ready, able, and willing to return fire with fire. The recommendations of the pro-gun extremists reveal they have no idea how to keep a "bad guy" (in their words) from gaining access to semi-automatic firearms. Their only solution is defensive perimeters. So this is their vision: a nation of pistol-packing people circling each other, alert for any possible danger. A nation where every school administrator and classroom teacher, every nursing station, every public official and employee thereof, every person in the pulpit, every person watching a show, every diner, every person in every group -- all are carrying concealed weapons. Keeping and bearing arms will not be a right for those who choose to exercise it, but a necessity for everyone all the time. The result: a nation of highly armed people, mutually guarded, suspicious, and on edge. Imagine the cinematic saloon right before the showdown. Yet this will be worse than the wild west, since businesses and other public facilities will not be allowed to demand that guns be checked at the door. It is a reproduction of the state of nature as Hobbes imagined it, a war of all against all where people must be nasty and brutish to survive. But the NRA and its allies will call this heaven, for it is the inherent end of the way they want things to be.

    But even a nation protected by a paramilitary posse of volunteers, all trained by the NRA, will not be safe. Unless there is an effective form of social control to keep high-capacity firearms out of the hands of unstable persons, the policies recommended by gun-rights extremists will just pose a technical challenge for people who are about to go ballistic. And anyone who thinks they can devise a system with no holes to exploit doesn't know middle-class white boys.

    Still, arguing from the perspective that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, the pro-gun extremists are prepared to let the nation's children die if that is what is required to defend what they imagine to be their liberties. In this way they are like the Carthaginians as the Roman Republic imagined them to be. The Carthaginians, descendents of the Phoenicians, were said to worship the Ammonite god Moloch. In pursuit of worldly success they would, supposedly, even sacrifice their living children to the fires of the idol. Both Israelites and, later, the Romans felt this was the epitome of everything unholy. And, whether or not this description of Carthage is strictly accurate, it was right to view child sacrifice as monstrous. One of the first teachings of the Abrahamic religions is that parents are not required to kill their children in order to please their God, but instead should ensure that children are protected and nurtured to adulthood. This teaching offered its followers real human progress, and even the Romans recognized it. So as long as Americans continue to permit the ritual slaughter of their young the gun-rights extremists should, in a spirit of fair warning, at least hang a sign at the border: Welcome to New Moloch, U.S.A. Be prepared for periodic child sacrifices. And watch your back.

    For those who would prefer to live in a society with ethical standards that, at minimum, match those of the early followers of Abraham, a different world is possible. In the U.S. every constitutional right is limited by certain restrictions (such as time, manner, and place conditions for peaceful assembly). Surely the need for a well-regulated militia can accommodate similarly reasonable restrictions.

    One possibility is for society to become slightly less individualist. Most Americans would not accept a reversion to collective familial responsibility -- no one seems to want to be accountable for something a family member did, when they may live a thousand miles away and not have seen each other for years. Instead, community control could be instituted at the level of local departments of pubic safety. Here are some simple ideas for a society that would both allow high levels of firearm ownership and help keep them out of the hands of those who would misuse them:

    • Everyone with a firearm could be required to have a license which would be similar to a driver's license: both conditional on maintaining standards of eligibility, and time-limited.
    • Every firearm could have a license fee attached. The fees could be high enough to be able to offset some of the expenses paid by others for the decision of some to exercise their right to keep and bear arms. The fees could not be prohibitive, but the more destructive the weapon, the more of a nuisance it can create, the higher the fee could be.
    • In the same way cars are inspected, firearms could undergo periodic inspection to ensure their registered owners still have possession and stow them in such a way that unlicensed persons cannot have access. If owners could not make their weapons available for inspection they could lose their license for all their firearms.
    • Unless firearms have been previously reported as stolen, their owners could experience severe criminal liability if their weapons are used by another person to commit a crime.
    • In the same way drivers must carry insurance, all owners of firearms could be required to carry insurance for the harm that could arise from their use or misuse.
    • Just as some modifications of cars are forbidden, some add-ons to weapons could be illegal to possess. High-capacity clips, for instance. Just as some classes of motor vehicle are illegal, the sale of semi-automatic assault-style rifles could again be prohibited.
    • For weapons that have been "grandfathered" in, energetic buy-back programs could seek to reduce the number of semi-automatic rifles, etc., possessed by individuals.
    • When individuals renew their licenses, they could be assessed for signs that they may be at risk for unstable thoughts, feelings, and actions. If they do seem to be at risk, neighborhood-based associations could provide an outreach that would, without the individual having to take the initiative, offer support, affirmation, and a basic sense of communal inclusion. Something to serve as an antidote to the cruel one-upmanship that is common in America, especially among adults who are in the early years of establishing a place for themselves.

    If implemented nationwide as part of a uniform firearm safety act, none of these ideas would infringe on a responsible adult's right to keep and bear arms. All they would do is remove firearms from persons who are either not eligible or capable of exercising that right in a responsible manner. To implement policies like these would, it is true, require greater support for portions of local departments of public safety, together with community mental health services, but this seems reasonable in pursuit of an individualistic society suffused with firearms, yet safe for men and women who would prefer not to have to constantly carry a weapon for personal protection.

    Concern for the vulnerable is a sign of the advance of a civilization, while callousness is a sign of its degradation. In recent decades America has retreated to such an extent that, even as the nation is washed in the blood of its lambs, the "Second Amendment" extremists continue to seek, quietly when they may but noisily if they must, to halt any effective changes in gun laws, no matter how many may die. It is time to try to stop the retreat and restore a vision of America based on the progress of the conditions of its people, not their mutual debasement.

    Highway Robbery
    There are fads and fashions in public policy, and our Mayor Rahm Emanuel is nothing but a dedicated follower of the latest bright ideas. Consider his "Infrastructure Trust," an example of the current fad in "Public Private Partnerships". At Dollars & Sense, Darwin Bondgraham writes that a Public Private Partnership "is at least three things" in addition to highway robbery:

    It is a rebranding of privatization. The phrase purposefully evokes a win-win scenario involving equal "partners" working toward a common goal. Government leaders have been sold this new kind of privatization as a solution to declining tax revenues and borrowing capacity, while private companies claim to be offering their expertise and capital in a spirit of public service.

    It is the result of a long ideological campaign against public-sector unions and "big government," which conservative think tanks, pundits, and politicians blame for growing deficits and crumbling infrastructure. This worldview, meanwhile, hails private companies and the private profit motive as the bearers of efficiency and fiscal discipline.

    Finally, P3 is obviously a money-making opportunity. It is propelled by an infrastructure-industrial complex composed of global construction corporations, investment banks, private-equity firms, and elite law firms organized as vertically integrated consortiums. Allied through their own trade associations, they are actively pressing for new laws to expand the types of public infrastructure from which they can extract profits, and in recent years they have been quietly succeeding.


    It Was a Very Bad Year
    For unions, writes DSA Vice-Chair Harold Meyerson at The American Prospect:

    Not that the unions didn't win some big victories in 2012. Their political programs in key swing states played a major role in President Obama's re-election, both by turning out minority voters in record numbers in Ohio, Nevada, and Florida and by winning Obama a higher share of white, working-class voters in the industrial Midwest than he won in other regions. Their efforts also helped liberal Democrats hold key Senate seats in Ohio (Sherrod Brown) and Wisconsin (Tammy Baldwin), and pick up Massachusetts (Elizabeth Warren). In California, the nation's mega-state, unions beat back a ballot measure designed to cripple their political programs by a decisive 12.5-percent margin, turning out so many voters that they also helped a key tax-hike measure pass at the polls and enabled the Democrats to win super-majorities in the state legislature. 


    Free Minds, Free People
    The Chicago Freedom School is planning a conference in Chicago for July 11 through 14. They're soliciting proposals for panels, workshops, presentations from teachers, administrators, community-based educators, students, activists and organizers, artists, parents, and academic researchers that address a range of education justice issues. MORE INFORMATION.

    Ars Politica

    Walter Mosley on the Square
    In celebration of the production of The Fall of Heaven, the Congo Square Theatre Company cues up its spring offering with an exciting event series, Mosley on the Square.

    The series is presented in partnership with the Chicago Public Library and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events the week of January 14-20, 2013, as the ensemble hosts a week-long series of events including: workshop session with the cast, a public interview and book signing, a film screening and talkback, featuring the film based on Mosley's well known mystery novel, Devil in a Blue Dress. MORE INFORMATION and MORE INFORMATION.

    Democratic Socialism

    The Red and the Black
    Profit is the motor of capitalism. For socialism, it would be... ? At Jacobin, Seth Ackerman provides a decidedly non-utopian answer, grounded in the experience of both East and West, HERE.


    Ain't no power like the power of the money
    And the power of the money don't stop!

    Say what?

    At New Compass, Mat Little writes:

    Under capitalism you can have growth or a recession. And slumps are not popular. The imperative of restoring growth to a failing system has emphasised our unwilling dependence on its smooth functioning. Ecological protections, welfare benefits and workers' rights are being sacrificed to restore capitalism to health. As social and economic pain intensifies, is there an escape from the tyranny of immediate self-interest?

    Credit where it's due, capitalism is ingenuous. It owes its remarkable resilience, says the American philosopher David Schweickart, to the fact that, while its basic institutions remain in place, it is in the rational self-interest of almost everybody to keep capitalists happy.


    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, January 2, 6:30 PM
    Taming the Military-Industrial Complex
    Tau Center, 26W171 Roosevelt Rd, Wheaton
    Presentation by Jack Reich. MORE INFORMATION.

    Wednesday, January 2, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
    Funding Strong Schools & Fair Pensions
    Aurora East High School Auditorium, 500 Tomcat Lane, Aurora
    With Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia and Rep. Elaine Nekritz. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, January 5, 1 PM
    Idle No More Protest
    Downtown Chicago
    1 PM Meet at McDonald's 36 W. Randolph; 1:30 PM Walk to Canadian Consulate 180 N. Stetson, followed by flash mob Round Dance in Millenium Park. Protest proposed legislation in Canada re: First Nations. MORE INFORMATION.

    Saturday, January 5, 3:30 PM
    "Harvest of Empire"
    Stone Soup Leland House, 1430 W. Leland Ave, Chicago
    Documentary on the untold story of Latinos in America. MORE INFORMATION.

    Monday, January 7, 7:30 PM
    Oak Park Village Board
    Village Hall, Madison & Lombard, Oak Park
    Help put a living wage on the agenda. MORE INFORMATION.

    Tuesday, January 8, 6 PM
    Mayor Harold Washington
    Harold Washington Library Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, 400 S. State St, Chicago
    Panel discussion featuring Peter Nolan, Timuel Black, Salim Muwakkil, and Robert Starks. MORE INFORMATION.

    Thursday, January 10, 7 PM
    Status of Women in Cuba
    Elmhurst Public Library, 125 S. Prospect, Elmhurst
    Report from the League of Women Voters Sisters Across the Straits Delegation. MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday, January 11, Noon
    Close Guantanamo!
    Federal Plaza, 230 S. Dearborn, Chicago
    Press conference and rally to oppose indefinite and arbitrary detention. MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday, January 11, 7:20 PM
    "Genetic Roulette"
    DuPage UU Church, 1828 Old Naperville Rd, Naperville
    Showing of documentary and discussion of benefits of Non-GMO diet. MORE INFORMATION.

    Friday, January 11 through Sunday, January 13
    National Strategy Conference for Single-Payer Health Insurance
    O'Hare Embassy Suites Hotel, 5500 N. River Rd., Rosemont
    Labor campaign for Single Payer Healthcare conference. $100. MORE INFORMATION.

    Sunday, January 13, 1:30 PM
    "As Goes Janesville"
    Glenview Public Library, 1930 Glenview Rd, Glenview
    Kartemquin Films documentary, part of a community cinema series. MORE INFORMATION.

    Sunday, January 13, 3 PM
    MLKing Day Celebration
    West Point Missionary Baptist Church, 3566 S. Cottage Grove, Chicago
    and SOUL public meeting. MORE INFORMATION.

    Tuesday, January 15, 4:30 PM
    Peace March & Vigil
    63rd & King Drive, Chicago
    Take a stand against violence. MORE INFORMATION.

    Thursday, January 17, 5:45 PM
    Chicago's Ethnic Militias, 1855 - 1880
    Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St, Chicago
    Presentation by Mimi Cohen. Dinner, reception. $25 MORE INFORMATION.

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