Tuesday, January 29, 2013

DSA is the major organization on the U.S. Left - Dr. Cornel West

DSA is the major organization on the American Left with an all embracing moral vision, systemic social analysis, and political praxis rooted in the quest for radical democracy, social freedom, and individual liberty.
Cornel West.  DSA Honorary Chair.
See the vibrant new national web site.  www.dsausa.org
Local web site. https://sites.google.com/site/sacramentodsa/ 
DSA is a working part of the Progressive Alliance.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Children's Hope
Dear Friends,

Paul and I will soon be heading off for another trip to Haiti. As our massive worn-out duffle bags stare hungrily at me from the hall I am jolted from my resolve to make every minute “productive” – finish off twelve lesson plans, pick up malaria meds, do laundry, buy a dozen pair of leather school shoes and download my camera with one hand and, while standing on one foot, stuff every inch of those hungry duffles with only the most valuable supplies bound for Haiti in a few days.

I am jolted from this balancing act by the realization that it was three years ago this week that the earthquake hit Haiti (and indirectly all of us who love Haiti) right between the eyes. So, I’m taking a moment to remember those nearly 300,000 dead and more dying every day, even today, from the cholera brought in by UN troops (seven thousand – last count).
I saw pictures today on the news.
Haiti looks like it did when we were there six months ago. In fact, it looks like it did two dozen trips and nine years ago when I first started doing human rights work in Haiti. Large NGOs have largely failed. They didn’t know where to find the experts on Haiti (you know – Haitians). They bypassed local, grassroots Haitian lead organizations who really were the experts (not to mention the Haitian government). They mostly managed to make a bigger mess.  For example, Jonathan Katz wrote (2012), “The U.S. military reported distributing 2.6 million bottles of water, including at least 120,000 gallons of Deluxe Fiji water from “the remote valley of Viti Levu,” bottled eight thousand miles away. You can still find the containers in the great plastic dams of debris in the capital blocking canals when it rains.”

We don’t bring plastic bottles to Haiti. We (Children’s Hope) don’t support large NGOs or solicit from them. We go where those big folks won’t. We go to Shada and Cite Soleil, to the poorest of the poor who live in places that the big NGOs think are too dangerous to serve – or to listen to. We go… we went before the quake. We will continue to go, even when life and lesson plans try to get in the way. If you are able, please help us make this trip count. Send a bit to help us buy medical supplies for the best little free clinic we've ever seen (The Lamp), to buy food and school shoes for our favorite orphanage (MABE, pictured at the top), to help us rebuild the basketball court in Cite Soleil, and for so many other worthy (but as yet, unfunded) projects we have in mind. No contribution is too small, nor (of course) too large. Send whatever you can, and/or forward this appeal to a friend who might. You can donate online (just click on the donate button on the top left of this page) or or send a check to us here:
Children’s Hope
3025A Cambridge Road
Cameron Park, CA 95682

Thank you so much for your solidarity and compassion. Many hands make the burden lighter!
Leisa & Paul

P.S. This summer we will be taking a group of students to Haiti. You may want to consider joining our team in July. We'd love to have you come with us and see first-hand what your support means to our sisters and brothers in Haiti.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Barack Obama charts an Arc of History that bends toward justice

John Nichols.  The Nation.

Barack Obama, the president who publicly swore his second oath of office on the Bibles of Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., used his inaugural address to chart an arc of history from the liberation movements of the sixteenth president's time through the civil rights movements of a century later to the day on which hundreds of thousands of Americans packed the National Mall to cheer for the promise of an emboldened presidency.
Obama charterd that arc in a remarkable soliloquy that spoke of a fundamental America duty to provide "hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice":
    Not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes; tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice. We the people declare today that the most evident of truth that all of us are created equal--is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.
The recalling of the honored ground where Americans refused anymore to accept the diminishment of women, of people of color, of lesbians and gays were meaningful. They recognized Dr. King's recollection at the close of the Selma to Montgomery march that abolitionist Theodore Parker had promised: "Even though the arc of the moral universe is long, it bends toward justice."

The Radicalization of Martin Luther King

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Martin Luther King Jr. and Economic Justice

Martin Luther King, Economic Justice, Workers’ Rights,
and Multiracial Democracy
by Thomas Jackson
In 1968, a united black community in Memphis stepped forward to support 1,300
municipal sanitation workers as they demanded higher wages, union recognition, and respect for
black personhood embodied in the slogan “I Am a Man!” Memphis’s black women organized tenant
and welfare unions, discovering pervasive hunger among the city’s poor and black children. They
demanded rights to food and medical care from a city and medical establishment blind to their
existence. That same month, March 1968, 100 grassroots organizations met in Atlanta to support
Martin Luther King’s dream of a poor people’s march on Washington. They pressed concrete demands for economic justice under the slogan “Jobs or Income Now!” King celebrated the “determination by poor people of all colors” to win their human rights. “Established powers of rich America have deliberately exploited poor people by isolating them in ethnic, nationality, religious and racial groups,” the delegates declared.
So when King came to Memphis to support the strike, a local labor and community struggle became intertwined with his dream of mobilizing a national coalition strong enough to reorient national priorities from imperial war in Vietnam to domestic reconstruction, especially in America’s riot-torn cities. To non-poor Americans, King called for a “revolution of values,” a move from self-seeking to service, from property rights to human rights.
King’s assassination—and the urban revolts that followed—led to a local Memphis settlement that furthered the cause of public employee unionism. The Poor People’s March nonviolently won small concessions in the national food stamp program. But reporters covered the bickering and squalor in the poor people’s tent city, rather than the movement’s detailed demands for waging a real war on poverty. Marchers wanted guaranteed public employment when the private sector failed, a raise in the federal minimum wage, a national income floor for all families, and a national commitment to reconstruct cities blighted by corporate disinvestment and white flight. And they wanted poor people’s representation in urban renewal and social service programs that had customarily benefited only businesses or the middle class. King’s dreams reverberated back in the movements that had risen him up.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Austerity- What Can We Do ?

You are invited to a Sacramento Activist School discussion regarding the politics of austerity. The panel will examine political calls for slashing programs like Social Security and Medicare in order to reduce defecits and limit government. Local activists Duane Campbell, Jim Hard and Stan Oden will share their observations. This event will begin at 7 in the evening on Wednesday, January 16 at the Sol Collective located at 2574 21st Street, 95818. For more information contact Eric at 420-2469.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Not the time for budget cuts

by Duane Campbell.
The discussion pushed by the Peterson Institute seeks to focus on the deficit and budget cuts instead of jobs.  This approach is called austerity.

 In economics, Austerity is the  policy of reducing government spending by cutting social services such as health care, education, food assistance, and other welfare assistance.  Governments   reduce spending by cutting money for these and similar services.  At the federal level, Republicans seek austerity by cutting Social Security and Medicare. In the case of state governments in the U.S., public tax money is used for police, fire fighters, park services, nurses, doctors, social workers and health assistants.  Austerity programs cut these services.
In the current economic crisis, the governments of Ireland, Greece, Italy , Spain and Portugal have implemented austerity programs and cut their budgets.  This policy  created more unemployment and made the recessions in these countries worse.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What did we learn from the Fiscal "Cliff" Debate ?

What Did You Learn From the Cliff Debate, Dorothy? (And the most important question in today’s politics.)

Well, I’m glad that’s over.
Now that the House has passed the Senate compromise bill, the full spate of tax increases and spending cuts that went into effect yesterday will be shut off (though the sequester was just suspended for a couple of months).  Still, I don’t mean to be a downer, but any relief you feel should be analogized to how much better you feel when you stop banging a hammer on your head.  We’ve avoided, for the moment, a self-made trap.  Now, of course, we’re on to the next one—the debt ceiling, which really is a cliff in that to go over it (can you “go over” a ceiling?) is to default.
The resolution of the fiscal cliff was much as I and others predicted—a very short trip over the cliff—more of a bungee jump, really.  As we said, once House R’s could label a vote for the compromise a net tax cut, enough of them could vote for it.  In fact, one of their leaders, Dave Camp (R-MI) sold the measure to his caucus as the “largest tax cut in American history.”
So, did we learn anything from the episode in reckless governing?  Here’s my list, but these are more things we already knew than things we learned:
–It’s become a cliché to observe the dysfunctionality of our political system.  The problem—which has existential implications—is that the system cannot diagnose, prescribe, and thus it cannot self-correct.  To the contrary, it is becoming increasingly efficient at inflicting wounds.  The most important question in politics right now is: how did Congress become the biggest threat to the economy and what can be done about it?  I actually have a pragmatic, actionable answer to that….read on.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Richard Trumka on the Fiscal Deal

Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO.
(Jan 1, 2013)The agreement passed by the Senate last night is a breakthrough in beginning to restore tax fairness and achieves some key goals of working families.  It does not cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits. It raises more than $700 billion over 10 years, including interest savings, by ending the Bush income tax cuts for families making more than $450,000 a year. And in recognition of the continuing jobs crisis, it extends unemployment benefits for a year.  A strong message from voters and a relentless echo from grassroots activists over the last six weeks helped get us this far.
But lawmakers should have listened even better.  The deal extends the Bush tax cuts for families earning between $250,000 and $450,000 a year and makes permanent Bush estate tax cuts exempting estates valued up to $5 million from any tax. These concessions amount to over $200 billion in additional tax cuts for the 2%.

And because of Republican hostage taking, the deal simply postpones the $1.2 trillion sequester for only two months and does not address the debt ceiling, setting the stage for more fiscal blackmail at the expense of the middle class.

Krugman- Perspectives on the Deal

Paul Krugman,
To make sense of what just happened, we need to ask what is really at stake, and how much difference the budget deal makes in the larger picture.
So, what are the two sides really fighting about? Surely the answer is, the future of the welfare state. Progressives want to maintain the achievements of the New Deal and the Great Society, and also implement and improve Obamacare so that we become a normal advanced country that guarantees essential health care to all its citizens. The right wants to roll the clock back to 1930, if not to the 19th century.
There are two ways progressives can lose this fight. One is direct defeat on the question of social insurance, with Congress actually voting to privatize and eventually phase out key programs — or with Democratic politicians themselves giving away their political birthright in the name of a
mess of pottage Grand Bargain. The other is for conservatives to successfully starve the beast — to drive revenue so low through tax cuts that the social insurance programs can’t be sustained.
The good news for progressives is that danger #1 has been averted, at least so far — and not without a lot of anxiety first. Romney lost, so nothing like the Ryan plan is on the table until President Santorum takes office, or something. Meanwhile, in 2011 Obama was willing to raise the Medicare age, in 2012 to cut Social Security benefits; but luckily the extremists of the right scuttled both deals. There are no cuts in benefits in this deal.
The bad news is that the deal falls short on making up for the revenue lost due to the Bush tax cuts. Here, though, it’s important to put the numbers in perspective. Obama wasn’t going to let all the Bush tax cuts go away in any case; only the high-end cuts were on the table. Getting all of those ended would have yielded something like $800 billion; he actually got around $600 billion. How big a difference does that make?