Home About CDSA New Ground Events Debs Dinner Links Join DSA Audio Face Book Email us

Nameplate

#161

July -- August, 2015

Contents

  • What's Next on Trade? by Tom Broderick
  • The United States Must Not Turn Puerto Rico Into the Next Greece
  • A Legacy for the Cause
  • DSA in the News
  • A Note from the Editor
  • Upcoming Events of Interest
  •  

    New Ground 161.1 -- 08.01.2015

    0. DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism, Episode 54
    DSA in the News
    Socialist International
    DSA National Convention
    Help!
    Tabling

    1. Politics

    Medicare for All
    Dirty ICE
    Universal Background Checks

    2. Upcoming Events of Interest

     

    New Ground 161.2 -- 08.17.2015

    0. DSA News

    Burge, Torture, and Reparations: Episode 55 Talkin' Socialism
    In Solidarity with Those Arrested in Ferguson
    DSA in the News
    DSA National Convention
    Help!!
    Mollie West and Julian Bond

    1. Politics

    LaSalle Street Tax
    National Nurses United
    On Immigration, Bernie Sanders Is Correct
    Louder Than a Money Bomb
    Our Walmart?

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Greece: Was There an Alternative?
    Egyptian Lingerie and the Robot Future
    Christian Socialist Ethics
    New Era Windows Cooperative

     

    New Ground 161.3 -- 08.31.2015

    0. DSA News

    DSA in the News
    Membership Meeting
    Talkin' Socialism
    Last Call!

    1. Politics

    Generation Jobless
    Regulating Gun Sales

    2. Democratic Socialism

    The Greek Apocalypse
    The French Apocalyse

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest


    What Next on Trade?

    by Tom Broderick

    The House vote was 218 "Ayes" and 208 "Nays." The Senate vote was 60 "Ayes" and 38 "Nays."

    We were unable to stop passage of Trade Promotion Authority (Fast Track) by Congress, but got close in the House. It took adroit parliamentarian action to pass it. President Obama made personal phone calls urging a "yes" vote on what he claimed was necessary to pass legacy legislation for his administration. President Obama even paid rare visit to Congress to lobby members of his party before the vote. This amid constant pressure from corporate lobbyists.

    All Illinois Democrats, with the exception of Mike Quigley (5th CD) voted against it. Representative Danny Davis (7th CD) spoke out on the House floor calling for a "no" vote on an undemocratic process. Thank you Representative Davis. Representatives Tammy Duckworth (8th CD) and Bill Foster (11th CD) were considered up for grabs, but voted against Fast Track. Sadly, all Illinois Republicans voted to pass it.

    The fight against Fast Track is over. We must switch to lighting up the secretive trade deals headed our way. These include the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is also known as the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) and the Trade In Services Agreement (TISA). Expose and oppose their corporate profit-over-people agenda.

    This would include highlighting the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), which creates a court system apart from, and not accountable or answerable to sovereign nations and their citizens. These tribunals will be adjudicated by lawyers and lobbyists from trans-national corporations. Lawsuits will be brought against sovereign nations by trans-national corporations over perceived loss of profit. No surprise that ISDS is unpopular in several nations participating in the trade negotiations.

    So are concerns around country-of-origin food labeling, patent extensions that will squash lower-priced generic medicines and the overturning of national and regional environmental regulations. Think how regulations to stop, limit or turn around climate change will fare in a profit driven maelstrom.

     

    President Obama declared these various trade deals "top secret" for a reason. They are being negotiated by and for powerful trans-national corporations. Some portions of the working text of the TPP have been leaked to the public. Let the Congressional Progressive Caucus -- or even one brave member of Congress -- do the American people a great service: quickly leak all the texts. Let us read and see what safeguards for job good job security and environmental safety have been locked into place. I have no faith in submitting labor, health care or environmental safety regulations before international tribunals staffed by those who are in the pay of trans-national corporations.

    As we move forward to defeat these upcoming trade deals, let's recall our past work. The Greater Oak Park chapter of DSA wrote and got on the ballot a non-binding referendum calling on the Village Board of Oak Park to declare Oak Park a Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Zone. It received 73% voter approval. Though the Village Board has not acted, our purpose was to help educate the public. We did this through a "letter to the editor" campaign, where we got at least one letter per month published in one or the other of our local weekly newspapers. The letter writers focused on different aspects of Fast Track and the TPP. Thanks to David Holmquist, Bill Barclay, Julie Samuels, Jack Metzgar and Adam Olson for clarifying a complex topic.

    New Ground published several articles outlining the negatives of Fast Track and the secretive trade agreements. We listed phone numbers for our various federal legislators and asked our readers to call their representatives and tell them to vote no on Fast Track. As the vote on Fast Track neared, we phoned many of our members asking them to contact their legislators to vote "no", as well as sending several email "blasts", posting on Facebook, and featuring anti-Fast Track videos on our web site.

    For one wintry rally and march on Representative Quigley's Sheffield Street office, Chicago DSA set up a table and ladled out "stone soup" to participants. On another occasion, DSA member Sidney Hollander arranged a meeting with Representative Quigley, who complained that he was taking a lot of heat for his position. We spent a lot of energy trying to get Representative Quigley to represent his constituents and embrace democracy, but to no avail.

    We met with Representative Danny Davis and Ira Cohen, his Issues and Communications Director in Chicago. We urged Representative Davis to take a public stand against Fast Track. While Representative Davis declined to go public before the vote, it was evident that Ira Cohen, was well versed in the downsides of the trade agreements.

    Representative Foster held a fund-raiser at an Oak Park residence -- not Foster's district. We organized a picket outside the home. Three picketers went into the alley behind the home and caught Representative Foster trying to sneak in.

    President Obama may consider these trade deals as contributing to his legacy, but they will undoubtedly advance economic, health and environmental damage to many. With democracy shoved aside by the Fast Track vote, we have to stop the neoliberal trade bills as they come forward.


    Grabble by Broderick

    Grabble, the Game of Thrones
    by Tom Broderick


    stone soup Fast Track


    The United States Must Not Turn Puerto Rico Into the Next Greece
    Statement of the National Political Committee of Democratic Socialists of America

    Once again the U.S. government is neglecting the fate of the people of Puerto Rico when it suits the interests of the powerful, the wealthy bondholders who own Puerto Rico's debt obligations. Puerto Rico's governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, contends that to pull the island out of a "death spiral," the Commonwealth must be able to renegotiate payment on its roughly $72 billion in debts.

    Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) calls on all political parties in Puerto Rico, the U. S. Congress, and the Obama Administration to join together to develop a long-term plan that addresses the root causes of this crisis.

    The U.S. government should provide economic aid to help restructure Puerto Rico's government and public corporate debt so as to lower its debt burden and the costs of repayment. By refusing to consider such policies, political elites in Washington are guaranteeing that severe austerity programs will lead to brutal cuts in ordinary people's living standards. This lowering of the quality of life for ordinary Puerto Ricans aims to ensure that the wealthy holders of Puerto Rican debt are repaid. The repayment crisis is in large part due to a long-term economic crisis caused by corporate disinvestment from the island. Thus, the costs of restoring economic health to the island should be borne primarily by those who continued to profit during the crisis.

    DSA urges the broad social justice movement to work to ensure that our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico receive the federal aid that would allow them to emerge from this long-standing economic crisis in a humane and equitable manner. This can be done, but only if the federal government does not treat Puerto Rico in a manner analogous to how the European elites are treating Greece. The economic crisis has forced many Puerto Ricans to leave their homeland, with recent migration meaning Puerto Ricans will soon surpass people of Cuban descent as the largest Hispanic group in Florida.

    Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory with Commonwealth status whose residents, since 1917, are U.S. citizens by birth. Although its 3.6 million residents are U.S. citizens, Puerto Ricans cannot vote in the U.S. general presidential elections because Puerto Rico is not a state.

    The island's economy has been shrinking or stagnant for a decade, and the official unemployment rate sits at nearly 12 percent. Lawmakers in Washington and San Juan need to come up with a plan that addresses the financial and economic problems of the territory, which must include a lowering of the debt burden borne by Puerto Rico. The federal government failed to bail out a Detroit devastated by disinvestment by the auto industry; Puerto Rico must not be allowed to suffer due to disinvestment by biopharmaceuticals and other industries that have moved abroad in search of even cheaper production costs.

    Because Puerto Rico is a territory, government-owned companies such as the electric utility are not allowed to restructure their debt in Chapter 9 bankruptcies. Twenty-five percent of Puerto Rican debt is held by these state-owned enterprises. Congress should approve a new bill that would allow these and other Puerto Rican government-owned companies, as well as municipalities, to use Chapter 9. Most Democrats support this legislation, but Republicans are steadfastly opposed. If need be, the entire government of Puerto Rico should be able to file for bankruptcy. States cannot file under Chapter 9, but Puerto Rico is not a state.

    In short, the present crisis is the culmination of decades of U.S. policies that distorted Puerto Rico's political and economic development.

    After the United States conquered the island in 1898 as the result of the Spanish-American war, Puerto Rico's economy, which had been based on a mix of small landowners and subsistence farmers, was transformed into an agro-industrial economy dominated by U.S. companies. Later, in the 1940s, in Operation Bootstrap, U.S. policy promoted a manufacturing sector (combined with the forced sterilization of many Puerto Rican women) but one limited to manufacturing industries that benefited U.S. transnational corporations. Puerto Rico was never allowed to define its own economic destiny by, for example, negotiating bilateral trade agreements; Puerto Rico also has had to adhere to fiscal policy directed by the United States. External control and extraction of profits stunted the country's productive base. Recent changes in the U.S. tax code have caused the loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs and have been one of the factors leading to the current crisis.

    Sixty percent of the island's population -- over 2 million patients -- receives their care through Medicare, Medicare Advantage or Medicaid. Puerto Ricans pay the same Social Security and Medicare taxes as the fifty states, yet Puerto Rico's Medicaid program receives a 70 percent lower reimbursement rate compared to mainland states. This low rate is being temporarily supplemented by a federal grant that will soon expire. As democratic socialists, we believe access to quality health care is a right, not a privilege; it is time to restore federal Medicaid reimbursement parity for Puerto Ricans.

    In addition, the federal government has not adequately addressed the serious environmental legacy problems stemming from U.S. military exercises in Puerto Rico. There has been a decades-long pattern of delay and inaction when it comes to remediating the environmental problems that were left behind by the U.S. Navy on the island of Vieques and elsewhere.

    Democratic Socialists of America calls on Congress to support the right of the people of Puerto Rico to self-determination, including the right to define their relationship with the United States in accordance with international law. The people of Puerto Rico must have a democratic voice in all issues and policies that directly affect them. We also urge Congress to grant Puerto Rico the forms of debt relief, debt rescheduling, and federal aid that will allow Puerto Rico to grow its way out of the long-term depression in a manner that enhances the quality of life of all residents of the island, not just its elite.

     

    Passed by the DSA National Political Committee: July 2, 2015.


    A Legacy for the Cause

    Many people believe that only the rich can leave a meaningful legacy gift to a cause. The truth is that even those of us with modest means have insurance policies, pension benefits, wills or living trusts for which we can designate beneficiaries like DSA.

    Only about 50 percent of people have a will, but the truth is a bequest is one of the simplest ways to support DSA. These thoughtful gifts ensure that we can continue our critical work to fight for the values of cooperation, solidarity, and socialism.

    A sentence in your will or living trust can help promote DSA's work and our socialist values:

    "I give to the Democratic Socialists of America, Inc., 75 Maiden Lane, New York, NY 10038 [insert cash amount, or percentage of your estate, or 'all'] to be used for general purposes."

    Wills and trusts are legal mechanisms that usually require an attorney to set up. However, many other legacy gifts do not require a lawyer to establish. Many bank accounts including checking, money market, savings accounts and certificates of deposit or IRA accounts have survivor provisions allowing you to designate a survivor that assumes ownership of the account after your death, as do life insurance policies. This notice is not intended as legal advice because legal advice should only come from an attorney.

    If you do designate DSA as a beneficiary, we would appreciate it if you inform the DSA national office with whatever degree of specificity you are comfortable with so we can thank you for your generosity. To learn more about investing in solidarity for the future and putting DSA in your will, contact us at (212) 727-8610 or see www.dsausa.org/bequests.

    By making a generous legacy gift to DSA, you can greatly support the future of the socialist movement.

    De Nile

    De Nile by Broderick

    Tom Broderick


    DSA in the News

    Can Bernie Sanders save socialism the way Ron Paul has resurrected libertarianism? At OZY, Allen McDuffee examines the question, including quotes from an interview with DSA's Maria Svart. Maria Svart was also featured in an interview on Rag Radio, a project of Austin's The Rag (once a 1960s underground newspaper, now a blog). And DSA's Maria Svart was among those interviewed about the Sanders campaign in Naureen Khan's article "A socialist? Fine by me, Sanders supporters say" at Aljazeera America. DSA NPC member Joe Schwartz writes about "The Sanders Campaign and the Revival of Socialism in the U.S." at teleSUR. At the right-wing propaganda site, pjmedia, once-upon-a-time lefty Ron Radosh reflects on "What's Really Behind Bernie Sanders' Boom?" DSA? (Your editor feels that while Radosh is perfectly capable of being an idiot, with enthusiasm, his commentary is generally superior (which is to say reasonable and not simply diarrhea of the keyboard) compared to most of his fellow conservatives.)


    A Note from the Editor

    I dislike asking for money, but New Ground needs your help. Money is tight, and if we're to continue publication outside the web and your emailbox, we need your support. For Chicago DSA members, I should point out that your dues go to support the national organization (and they do need it), not Chicago DSA or New Ground. The money needed to publish a print publication (not to mention the web site and the tools and services a web site needs) has to be raised by solicitations like this.

    So every year we come to our readers and ask that you participate in our Labor Day issue of New Ground. It's not just a matter of collecting money. Placing an ad or a greeting is also an affirmation.

    Your contribution will help us maintain and (I hope) expand New Ground. Your contribution will help us advocate for fair trade rather than free trade, advocate for fair taxes not austerity, make education a public good instead of a commodity, maybe even help elect Bernie Sanders. It will also affirm a politics of solidarity, equality and democracy over the current Dictatorship of the Dollar. Your presence in these pages will be an affirmation of social justice and an encouragement to those who would build a democratic socialist movement for the 21st Century.

    These are times of hope and opportunity, but they will not be fulfilled without your participation.

    Please take an ad in the annual Labor Day issue of New Ground. For the menu, CLICK HERE. (PDF)


    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.


    New Ground #161.1

    08.01.2015

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism, Episode 54
    DSA in the News
    Socialist International
    DSA National Convention
    Help!
    Tabling

    1. Politics

    Medicare for All
    Dirty ICE
    Universal Background Checks

    2. Upcoming Events of Interest


    DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism, Episode 54
    Mercy Killers, Recorded July 25, 2015. It's a free country. Here we have the best health care only money can buy. And if you're sick and without money, you're free to die.

    Dr. Anne Scheetz interviews actor and playwright Michael Milligan about his one-man play, Mercy Killers. Milligan tells about his experiences with the U.S. health care "system" (such as it is) that inspired the play and the post-performance stories and commentary from the audience that reveal both the depth of unmet needs and the variety of experience and perception regarding health care in the United States. [MORE]

    Download to listen later [right click]: MP3 (32.2 MB) or OGG VORBIS (44.6 MB) (33:32)

    DSA in the News
    DSA was mentioned as an identifier for Dolores Huerta in a polemic against the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board at Forbes. DSA was also used as an identifier for a person quoted in an article about Bernie Sanders in The Atlantic.

    Bernie Sanders' reaction (or more precisely, the left's reaction) to #BlackLivesMatter was the subject of an essay at The American Prospect that quoted Lawrence Ware's article at DSA's Democratic Left. On the same issue, Paul Blest at The New Republic quotes Douglas Williams' article at DSA's Democratic Left as a defense of the same-old same-old.

    At New Politics, Dan La Botz' article "Sanders for President" includes a brief discussion of DSA.

    One of DSA's founders, Michael Harrington, died on July 31, 1989. To remember the occasion, In These Times posted an item about Harrington by historian Maurice Isserman.

    Greater Oak Park DSA demanded a vote on a Living Wage Ordinance by the Oak Park Village Board in an op ed at the Wednesday Journal.

    Much to the glee of conservatives everywhere, Hardball host Chris Matthews asked Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz what the difference was between a democrat and a socialist. Her waffling was the occasion for Aaron Klein (he makes a living at this) to dust off history and nonsense about DSA and the Congressional Progressiive Caucus at WND.

    Socialist International
    The Socialist International Council met at the United Nations in New York on July 6 and 7. The body adopted quite a number of declarations on a range of issues, some of which make interesting reading for geeks of a certain kind. You can read about it HERE.

    DSA was not represented at the Council meeting. DSA's continued membership in the SI is under discussion and we may decide to drop our affiliation at the next DSA National Convention.

    DSA National Convention
    Speaking of the National Convention, it will be held November 12 through 15 in Bolivar, Pennsylvania. Chicago DSA has been apportioned 13 delegates based on a membership of 256 in the Chicago metropolitan area. We can send any number of alternates. It's early, but we already have 5 candidates. We'll probably have the delegate election at our September meeting. For more information, email chiildsa@chicagodsa.org.

    Help!
    Chicago DSA doesn't ask much from membership. Too little, some would judge. But we do sometimes ask for money: voluntary contributions and not a required tithe. This time we're asking not just for a contribution of whatever you can afford but also for a visible expression of your solidarity. Please take an ad in the annual Labor Day issue of New Ground. Think of it like signing our year book. The details are HERE. (PDF)

    Tabling
    On Saturday, July 25, DSA was out at the 2015 Bughouse Square Debates and the Oak Park Farmers Market discussing Bernie Sanders and democratic socialism. The folks at the Oak Park Farmers Market even ran out of ammo. Some photos from Bughouse Square are HERE.


    Politics

    Medicare for All
    At Alternet, Sarah Burris writes:

    The familiar Sanders crusade to fix financial inequalities is a key reason Sanders says he supports a single-payer system and promised to announce legislation within the next year. "We need to expand Medicare to cover every man, woman, and child," he told the cheering crowd. "Every year, thousands die just because they can't afford to go to the doctor. No one should go into the hospital and have to file for bankruptcy when they come out." The Sanders plan, he said, will provide healthcare through the most "cost effective way, and that is a Medicare for all."

    MORE.

    Dirty ICE
    At In These Times, Yana Kunichoff writes:

    On Friday, June 26, workers from the Ruprecht Company's meatpacking factory in Mundelein, Illinois, walked off the job in a spontaneous strike against a pending immigration audit. Several weeks later, eight Ruprecht workers, three of whom are members of UNITE HERE Local 1, have been apprehended by immigration authorities.

    In a statement, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said the eight workers were picked up after the department discovered the workers had records that fall within its priorities for arrest during a routine immigration audit. ICE claims the workers' past charges include drunk driving, theft and felony fraud. But organizers argue that the audit and subsequent arrests, which took place while a group of Ruprecht workers were in union negotiations and followed the filing of two unfair labor practices (ULPs) could violate ICE's own rules against interfering in workplaces that are in the midst of labor disputes.

    MORE.

    Universal Background Checks
    It's old news and already mentioned in previous issues of New Ground, but in June the Oak Park Village Board passed a resolution in support of Federal legislation requiring universal background checks prior to gun purchases. FYI, you can find the text of the resolution 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.


    New Ground #161.2

    08.17.2015

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    Burge, Torture, and Reparations: Episode 55 Talkin' Socialism
    In Solidarity with Those Arrested in Ferguson
    DSA in the News
    DSA National Convention
    Help!!
    Mollie West and Julian Bond

    1. Politics

    LaSalle Street Tax
    National Nurses United
    On Immigration, Bernie Sanders Is Correct
    Louder Than a Money Bomb
    Our Walmart?

    2. Democratic Socialism

    Greece: Was There an Alternative?
    Egyptian Lingerie and the Robot Future
    Christian Socialist Ethics
    New Era Windows Cooperative

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest


    DSA News

    Talkin' Socialism Episode 55 -- Burge, Torture, and Reparations
    Recorded August 8, 2015. Lady Law never stands so tall as when she stands on someone's hand. Horrifically tortured by Chicago Police officer Jon Burge and his cronies into confessing a crime he did not commit, Darrell Cannon spent 24 years in prison, much of it in solitary at a super-max facility, before the courts acknowledged the error. Bill Barclay interviews Darrell Cannon about how the conviction was overturned, the campaign for reparations for survivors of Chicago Police torture, and, most especially, the terms of the reparations ordinance passed by the Chicago City Council and the consequences for policing in Chicago. MORE.

    Download to listen later [right click]: MP3 (30.8 MB) or OGG VORBIS (39.7 MB) (32:05)

    In Solidarity with Those Arrested in Ferguson
    Adopted by DSA's National Political Committee, August 13, 2015:

    The National Political Committee of the Democratic Socialists of America stands in solidarity with our Honorary Co-Chair Dr. Cornel West, Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou and the other activists arrested in Ferguson, MO on Aug. 10 demanding justice for Michael Brown. We urge that the charges against them be dismissed; that all police who murder African Americans be charged and tried for their crimes; that police throughout the United States protect, not assault, black youth and black communities; and that structural racism be dismantled in all its aspects. DSA continues to participate actively in #BlackLivesMatter and stands in solidarity with all those fighting for social and racial justice in the United States and around the globe.

    DSA in the News
    Rob Garver at The Fiscal Times thought the contrast between the five to six figure item expenditures reported by the various presidential Super PACs and the nickel and dime expeditures reported by DSA was just too delicious... though DSA has never claimed to be a Super PAC.

    Jason Wilson wrote about U.S. understandings of socialism and and the Bernie Sanders campaign, quoting DSA's Maria Svart, at The Guardian. An article on a similar theme by Dave Anderson in Boulder Weekly touted an upcoming DSA meeting. Likewise, at Temple University's Philadelphia Neighborhoods, Matthew Troy Cassidy asked "Is Philadelphia Becoming a Socialist Hotbed?" with quotes from DSA activists Dustin Guastella, Joe Schwartz, and Liz Henderson.

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz' inarticulate answer to Chris Matthews regarding socialism and Democrats continues to generate mentions of DSA, most recently in a brief commentary by Jose Antonio Zarraluqui in LaPrensa in Panama.

    DSA National Convention
    The DSA National Convention, it will be held November 12 through 15 in Bolivar, Pennsylvania. Chicago DSA has been apportioned 13 delegates based on a membership of 256 in the Chicago metropolitan area. We can send any number of alternates. It's early, but we already have 6 candidates. We'll have the formal delegate election at our September 12th meeting. For more information, email chiildsa@chicagodsa.org.
    .

    Help!!
    Chicago DSA doesn't ask much from membership or our friends. Too little, some would judge. But we do sometimes ask for money: voluntary contributions and not a required tithe. This time we're asking not just for a contribution of whatever you can afford but for a visible expression of your solidarity. Please take an ad in the annual Labor Day issue of New Ground. Think of it like signing our year book. The details are HERE. (PDF)

    Incidentally, your support will make an existential difference this time. New Ground really does need to support itself this year, and, contrary to right-wing mythology, George Soros is not about to toss pocket change in our direction.

    If charging your donation on plastic would make a difference, simply go to chicagodsa.org and click on the "Donate" button for the secure PayPal interface. (FYI, we don't see your card info; that stays with PayPal.)

    Julian Bond and Mollie West
    Long time labor, feminist and culture activist Mollie West died on August 7 at the age of 99. Civil rights activist Julian Bond died on August 15, aged 75. Bond had been an charter DSOC/DSA member; West had never been a member. They were both honored, however, at Chicago DSA's 1993 Debs -- Thomas -- Harrington Dinner.

     Julian Bond


    Politics

    LaSalle Street Tax
    At the Chicago Political Economy Group:

    At a July 19th Community Forum entitled The Illinois Budget Crisis, Workers' Rights and Revenue, CPEG's Ron Baiman gave a presentation on how a LaSalle Street Tax (also known as a Financial Transaction Tax), could save the Chicago and Illinois budgets and clean up exchanges such as the Chicago Mercantile.

    MORE.

    National Nurses United
    has endorsed Bernie Sanders' campaign for President. Their statement is HERE.

    On Immigration, Bernie Sanders Is Correct
    At the Economic Policy Institute, Daniel Costa writes:

    The reality is that what Sanders supports on immigration is careful and nuanced, and it's the correct path forward for American immigration policy. In a nutshell, Sanders is strongly in favor of legalization and citizenship for the current unauthorized immigrant population, which will raise wages and lift labor standards for all workers, and he's against expanding U.S. temporary foreign worker programs, which allow employers to exploit and underpay so-called guestworkers. Limiting guestworker programs will reduce wage suppression and improve labor standards for U.S. and migrant workers alike.

    MORE.

    Louder Than a Money Bomb
    The upcoming second Sanders moneybomb, scheduled for his birthday on September 8, is discussed by Brent Budowsky at the New York Observer, who opines that social media is to 21st Century politics as TV was to the 1960s. He begins:

    While the front pages of The New York Times and the evening broadcasts of the television news are bannering stories of candidates from Hillary Clinton to Jeb Bush raising big dough from big donors and reaping the benefits of giant Super PACs, the legions of grassroots supporters of Bernie Sanders are quietly marching across the playing fields of social media and planning a small donor moneybomb extravaganza to celebrate the birthday of their champion on September 8.

    Stay tuned: the Sanders moneybomb will be a big deal that will fuel organizing for other big deals that have already begun from even larger crowds at big rallies and mass organizing for Democratic caucuses.

    MORE.

    Our Walmart?
    At In These Times, David Moberg writes about the United Food and Commercial Workers' Walmart campaign:

    After Hansen's retirement last fall, the union's 55-member executive board elected Secretary-Treasurer Anthony "Marc" Perrone as the next president. Leading up to the vote, Perrone had questioned the amount of money that had been devoted to the Walmart campaign without gaining any new members for the union, whose membership has declined in recent years. Several sources close to the campaign, not named because they are not authorized to release financial information, estimate that the overall cost had been about $7 million to $8 million a year.

    In April, four months into Perrone's tenure, the Washington Post reported rumors of potential cutbacks to OUR Walmart. In These Times's sources say the union plans to cut the campaign's budget by as much as 65 percent.

    Sources close to the new leadership say no cuts are planned, only realignments, such as spending more money on advertising and public relations campaigns to highlight Walmart's faults. At the same time, UFCW will try to parlay the Walmart efforts into "a broader retail campaign," according to new Executive Vice President Stuart Appelbaum, regarded as an ally of Perrone. This probably will encourage more organizing at other retailers to win contracts and dues-paying members.

    MORE.


    Democratic Socialism

    Greece: Was There an Alternative?
    At Life on the Left, Richard Fidler begins:

    On January 25 Syriza, the Coalition of the Radical Left, emerged with a plurality of 36% of the popular vote in Greece's national legislative election, winning 149 seats, two short of a majority, on a radical anti-austerity program. With the support of ANEL, a small right-wing but anti-austerity party, it formed a government.

    Five-and-a-half months later, fresh on the heels of a July 5 referendum in which the Greeks had reaffirmed their opposition to austerity by a majority of 61%, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras surrendered to the country's international creditors. Three days later, government leaders -- while professing their own reluctance and opposition to the imposed "agreement" -- voted with the same capitalist parties and politicians they had defeated in January to accept even greater austerity. The terms of surrender include a far-reaching loss of sovereignty, rendering Greece a debt colony of the eurozone.

    MORE.

    Egyptian Lingerie and the Robot Future
    Chicago DSA ex-pat Peter Frase writes:

    "Robots will take all our jobs" is a hardy perennial of popular political economy. Typical of the latest crop is Derek Thompson of the Atlantic, who wrote an article (in which he quotes me), speculating about a "World Without Work" in the wake of mass adoption of robotization and computerization. Paul Mason gives a more leftist and political rendition of similar themes.

    As I note in my recent Jacobin editorial, this kind of thing is not new, and is in fact an anxiety that recurs throughout the history of capitalism. Two decades ago, we had the likes of Jeremy Rifkin and Stanley Aronowitz musing about the "end of work" and the "jobless future".

    And these repeating waves of robo-futurism call into existence the same repeated insistence that robots are not, in fact, taking all the jobs. Doug Henwood was on this beat twenty years ago and remains on it today. Matt Yglesias, likewise, calls fear of automation a "myth".

    MORE.

    Also see a new Economic Policy Institute report HERE.

    Christian Socialist Ethics
    At Religious Socialism, John W. Adams argues the ethics of Christian socialism can spring forth in the darnedest places:

    In two recent articles in the New Republic, one in March the other in July, Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig wrote about Republican governor John Kasich of Ohio and his religiously motivated decisions to accept Medicaid expansion in order to assist more than 200,000 Ohioans and the governor's support for President Barack Obama's proposal to assist undocumented workers. With Kasich's recent announcement to run for the Republican nomination for president, it is a good time revisit the subject. Bruenig noted that the Right was unhappy about his decision and his reasoning. Kasich explained to reporters in 2013 his reasons for supporting the expansion: "when you die and get to the meeting with Saint Peter, he's probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor. You better have a good answer."

    MORE.

    New Era Windows Cooperative
    At Grassroots Economic Organizing, Ajowa Nzinga Ifateyo reports:

    New Era Windows Cooperative, the Chicago organization of workers which took over their company to form a successful workers' cooperative, was recognized for their work on behalf of the worker cooperative movement at the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy [ECWD].

    In addition to presenting the award to New Era, this year ECWD also permanently renamed its biennial award honoring a democratic workplace the "Ricky Maclin Award for Cooperative Innovation."  New Era worker-owners Armando Robles and William "Poppin" Swanson accepted the award on behalf of the co-op.

    MORE.

    Peg Strobel interviewed the late Rick Maclin and Armando Robles about Chicago's New Era Windows Cooperative in Episode 29 of Talkin' Socialism.


    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.


    New Ground #161.3

    08.31.2015

    Contents

    0. DSA News

    DSA in the News
    Membership Meeting
    Talkin' Socialism
    Last Call!

    1. Politics

    Generation Jobless
    Regulating Gun Sales

    2. Democratic Socialism

    The Greek Apocalypse
    The French Apocalyse

    3. Upcoming Events of Interest


    DSA News

    DSA in the News
    DSA NPC member Joe Schwartz discussed the Sanders campaign (and DSA's involvement) on KBOO radio. DSA was also mentioned in a piece about Sanders, socialism, and U.S. political history by Peter Dreier at Salon. A DSA meeting on Sanders and socialism was blurbed on KGNU in Colorado. The confusion between "socialist", "democratic socialist", "social democrat" is the occasion for discussion at the Tampa Bay Times' Politifact; the article uses DSA as a reference.

    In a moderately scurrilous and whining attack on Cornel West by Barbara Howard in the South Florida Times, DSA was used as an identifier, as it was in an Internatiional Business Times article about Cornel West's endorsement of Bernie Sanders. DSA was also mentioned in Code Black Report's discussion of West's endorsement. DSA was also used as an identifier for Eliseo Medina and Frances Fox Piven in a National Review online article by Mark Krikorian.

    Federal Election Commission filings were the occasion for an unintentionally humorous item about DSA as Bernie Sander's super-PAC in the Washington Free Beacon. This article was picked up by several conservative blog sites.

    The Young Democratic Socialists was mentioned in an article by Jasmine Gallup about a Case Western Reserve University Bernie Sanders rally in The Observer.

    DSA was mentioned in passing in a tangentially political human interest item by David Ball in The Record (Orange County, Texas): "Oubre Brothers in the Same Town -- Again".

    DSA was mentioned in the New York Times obituary for Henrietta Backer. It's a bit of trivia not noted in the obituary, but Henrietta Backer and her husband Bernard Backer had also been reliable supporters of Chicago DSA's Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner and New Ground.

    A personal account of the recent Atlanta Young Democratic Socialists conference by Paul Goodspeed was posted at Communique New England.

    Membership Meeting
    Our September meeting will be on Saturday the 12th at the Chicago DSA office. Among other items on the agenda will be the election of delegates to the DSA National Convention. The meeting will be at 12:15 PM in the Chicago DSA office, 3411 W. Diversey, Suite 7 (2nd floor), Chicago.

    The DSA National Convention will be held November 12 through 15 in Bolivar, Pennsylvania. Chicago DSA has been apportioned 13 delegates. We can send any number of alternates.

    Talkin' Socialism
    Prior to the Chicago DSA membership meeting on Saturday the 12th at the Chicago DSA office, we'll be recording the next half hour episode of Talkin' Socialism. Martin Macias will be interviewing Jayme Massion and Jeff Uehlinger, members of the University of Illinois in Chicago's United Students Against Sweatshops. The recording begins at 11:30 AM. We welcome a live audience but if you'd like to attend, please come prior to 11:30 AM.

    Last Call!
    We're asking not just for a contribution of whatever you can afford but for a visible expression of your solidarity. Please take an ad in the annual Labor Day issue of New Ground. Think of it like signing our year book. The details are HERE. (PDF) The deadline for ad copy is Friday, September 5th.

    Incidentally, your support will make an existential difference this time. New Ground really does need to support itself this year, and, contrary to right-wing mythology, George Soros is not about to toss pocket change in our direction.

    If charging your donation on plastic would make a difference, simply go to chicagodsa.org and click on the "Donate" button for the secure PayPal interface. (FYI, we don't see your card info; that stays with PayPal.)


    Politics

    Generation Jobless
    At Working Class Perspectives, John Russo writes:

    As college students return to classes this fall, many feel both excitement and apprehension about the future. After all, they are about to invest tens of thousands of dollars in education that they hope will lead to bright economic futures. Some probably feel pressure to pursue STEM degrees because they've been told that this will guarantee a good return on that investment. Unfortunately, as Andrew Hacker shows in a recent book review about education and high-tech work, there is clear evidence that this idea is wrong. Indeed, while those who tout the knowledge economy promote the idea that higher education is the key to economic opportunity, recent college graduates are having difficulty finding work, and many of the jobs they have found don't require the kind of education they have. This led the Wall Street Journal to describe recent graduates as "Generation Jobless."

    Robert Reich thinks the problem is the result of businesses requiring only a small workforce of innovators and strategists He believes that over 40 percent of the American labor force will have uncertain work, including many with advance degrees. He predicts that corporations will continue to expand their use of algorithms to measure their value and develop spot-auction networks. Under this system, corporations would have a small number of core employees and would require others to bid on work opportunities. Using Apple as example, Reich notes that the company employs fewer that 10 percent of its 1 million employees who design, make, and sell their product. The rest are largely contingent workers.

    MORE.

    Regulating Gun Sales
    The resolution passed by the Village of Oak Park Board of Trustees advocating federal and state legislation for background checks for all gun sales also provides an argument for why this is a sensible policy. For a discussion about the campaign to pass this resolution, see Talkin' Socialism Episode 49.

    A RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF FEDERAL LEGISLATION
    REQUIRING UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR ALL GUN SALES

    WHEREAS, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is an effective tool to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other dangerous individuals, and since its inception, the background check system has blocked over two million gun sales to people who were prohibited from possessing guns; and

    WHEREAS, despite this success, the system is undermined by legal loopholes and missing records that enable too many dangerous individuals to obtain weapons they later use to commit crimes; and

    WHEREAS, in the United States, an estimated 40% of all gun transfers take place with no background check of the buyer, including sales online and at gun shows; and

    WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. City of Chicago and the Village of Oak Park, 561 U.S. 742 (2010), that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right of individuals to own and possess firearms, including handguns, and such right is applicable to state and local governments as well as to the federal government; and

    WHEREAS, the Court held that such right is still subject to the government's responsibility to regulate the ownership, possession and use of firearms, including handguns; and

    WHEREAS, the need for gun regulation was thrust into the national spotlight on December 14, 2012, when a tragedy of unspeakable proportions occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut when 20 children and six adults were slaughtered by a person wielding an automatic, high capacity assault weapon; and

    WHEREAS, after this tragedy, legislation was proposed in the United States Senate known as the "Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013" (Senate Bill 649) which would make universal background checks a precondition for the sale of all firearms, including those sold at gun shows and online; and

    WHEREAS, Senate Bill 649 did not pass because only 54 senators voted in favor of the bill and 60 votes were required to make the bill filibuster proof; and

    WHEREAS, while universal background check legislation continues to be one of the many victims of congressional gridlock, gun violence in the City of Chicago continues unabated with the almost daily loss of life; and

    WHEREAS, the Chicago Tribune reported that over the 2015 Memorial Day weekend 12 people were killed and 44 were wounded due to gun violence in the City of Chicago; and

    WHEREAS, it is estimated that state and federal agencies have failed to report hundreds of thousands of records of persons with dangerous mental illness into the NICS database, and 12 states have each submitted fewer than one hundred (100) mental health records; and

    WHEREAS, on average 80 Americans are killed with guns on a daily basis and too many of those persons killed are the victims of crimes committed by individuals who are barred from purchasing or possessing guns under federal law; and

    WHEREAS, evidence shows that background checks save lives, as evidenced by the facts that in 16 states that already require background checks for unlicensed handgun sales, gun trafficking is 48% lower than in states that fail to require background checks for all gun sales; the rate of women murdered by an intimate partner with a gun was 38% lower than in other states; and the firearm suicide rate was 49% lower than in other states; and

    WHEREAS, in a July 3, 2014 poll conducted by the leading research institution, Quinnipiac University, 92% of voters, including 92% of gun owners, supported requiring background checks for all gun buyers; and

    WHEREAS, at the November 4, 2014 Gubernatorial General Election, an advisory referendum calling for federal legislation requiring universal background checks for all gun purchases was adopted by 92.4% of the 19,530 voters of Oak Park who voted at that election; and

    WHEREAS, more than 50 national organizations support requiring a background check for all gun sales, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Urban League, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the International Associations of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, and the Police Executive Research Forum; and

    WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees of the Village of Oak Park calls for federal legislation requiring universal background checks for all gun sales be adopted as soon as possible.

    NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the President and Board of Trustees of the Village of Oak Park, Illinois, in the exercise of their home rule powers, as follows:

    Section 1. Recitals Incorporated. The recitals set forth above are incorporated herein as though fully set forth.

    Section 2. Support for Federal Legislation Requiring Universal Background Checks for All Gun Sales. The Board of Trustees of the Village of Oak Park support federal legislation requiring universal background checks for all gun sales and which would also increase the reporting of mental health and other relevant records into the NICS database.

    Section 3. Adoption of Federal Legislation. The Board of Trustees urges all State and Federal legislators representing the citizens of the Village of Oak Park to do all within their power to case federal legislation requiring universal background checks to be enacted as soon as possible.

    Section 4. Village Manager to Provide Resolution to State and Federal Legislators. The Village Manager shall forward copies of this Resolution to all State and Federal legislators representing the citizens of the Village of Oak Park asking each to provide the Village of Oak Park a written response to this Resolution.


    Democratic Socialism

    The Greek Apocalypse
    At In These Times, an optimistic Slavoj Zizek opines:

    ...The entire rhetoric, so beloved by the New Left, of acting at a distance from the state, has to be abandoned...

    MORE.

    At Dollars & Sense, Harry Konstantinidis observes:

    Syriza has historically been a "Europeanist" party -- differing from the Communist Party of Greece in its adherence to the notion that it is possible to change existing European institutions. Synaspismos, the predecessor of Syriza, even voted in favor of the Maastricht Treaty that laid the foundations of the European Union and the eurozone in 1992, viewing the treaty as a first -- albeit incomplete -- step towards a more solidaristic and unified Europe. Most of the Syriza MPs, even to this date, believe that Europe, rather the nation-state, is the locus on which to improve conditions for workers and achieve positive social change. The rise of Syriza also came with support from "Eurosceptic" leftists, as well as increasing disillusionment of some Syriza factions with European Union and Eurozone institutions. However, for the Syriza leadership, the goal was not to exit the European Union, but to change it in favor of working people. Furthermore, Syriza never suggested that its goal was to abandon the euro: the closest the Syriza leadership ever came to proposing eurozone exit was Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' saying in 2012 that "the euro is not a fetish." In 2015, such ambivalences were abandoned.

    MORE.

    At Dissent, James Galbraith and Daniel Munevar write:

    In Greece the prospect is for the liquidation of everything. As taxes rise and purchasing power falls, it would take an act of god to keep most businesses afloat or homeowners in their homes, once the tourist season ebbs and the weather grows cold. A double death spiral will likely follow: on one side, tax revenues will ebb, bringing on further cuts in pensions and public payrolls; on the other, more businesses and homeowners will default on their loans, deepening the troubles of the banking system. The economy, or what remains of it, will go toward cash and barter, with multinationals moving in on utilities, ports, airports, hotels, and other cash-cow operations. Ultimately, the ECB will be forced at some point to shut the banks -- and no doubt reopen them, if deposits remain guaranteed, under foreign control. Otherwise, in the ultimate liquidation, the deposits will simply disappear.

    MORE.

    Also see "The Greek Plan for Growth & Recover" by Yanis Varoufakis at Social Europe.

    The French Apocalyse
    At Jacobin Magazine, Jonah Birch writes about the French Socialist Party:

    Thirty-five years ago, a previous PS-led government faced a situation strikingly similar to that which confronted Syriza after its election this January.

    That the party of Hollande and Valls could once have represented anything resembling Greece's party of the radical left might seem bizarre to us today. But in 1981, when PS leader François Mitterrand swept into office as the first president from the Left in the history of the Fifth Republic, the hopes he inspired were similar to those generated by Syriza after its election in late January.

    If anything, the expectations that surrounded Mitterrand were much greater than that which greeted Tsipras earlier this year. On the night of May 10, 1981, when the final results of the balloting were announced, celebrations broke out on the streets of French cities. In Paris, tens of thousands gathered at Place de la Bastille, where they sang and danced until the early hours of the morning.

    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.


     Add yourself to the Chicago DSA mailing list (snail mail and email).

    Back to top.

    Privacy policy.