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By Charles M. Young
A 21st century psychotherapist steps into a time machine and comes out in Atlanta in 1855. Having no other marketable skills, he hangs out a shingle and promises new remedies for mental illness. A well-dressed gentleman knocks on the door and inquires if the psychotherapist might come to his plantation to examine the slaves.
By Dan DeWalt
Thank God for the fiscal cliff. With the election over, the media needed something upon which they could incessantly fixate, and our daily updates on the fate of the cliff-hanger negotiations are plenty of fodder to hold us until we have the final Christmas sales figures to talk about.
By Dave Lindorff
The US is on the way out as a hegemonic power.
That is the primary conclusion of a new report out of the National Intelligence Council -- a government organization that produces mid-term and long-range thinking for the US intelligence community.
Many of us have heard the current period referred to as a second gilded age. Or we've seen the current inequality in wealth in the United States compared to that of 1929. But we have not all given sufficient thought to what ended the first gilded age, what created greater equality, what created the reality behind that category our politicians now endlessly pretend we are all in: the middle class. We have a sense of what went wrong at the turn of each century, but what went right in between?
This is the theme of Sam Pizzigati's new book, "The Rich Don't Always Win: The Forgotten Triumph Over Plutocracy That Created the American Middle Class, 1900-1970." I take away three primary answers short enough to include in a brief summary. First, we taxed the riches right out from under the rich people. Second, we empowered labor unions. And third -- and this one came first chronologically as well as logically -- we developed a culture that saw it as absolutely necessary for the greater good that the rich be made poorer.
Nowadays, it's not hard to find people who would like the poor to be richer. But who wants the rich to be poorer? It seems so impolite and improper and cruel. Surely Bill Gates earned, deserves, and needs his $66 billion. While he might live exactly as comfortably as before if he lost 65 of those billions, how could we expect others to do all the good Gates has done (surely he's done some) if they can't expect to also be permitted to hoard $66 billion while other people starve and go homeless. In fact, without the possibility of hoarding your own $66 billion, nobody will work (will they?) or "create jobs" for others, and in the end if we took $65 billion away from Gates it would vanish into the air leaving the poor even poorer than they'd been. Or so we like to fantasize.
Pizzigati points to the polling that shows that Americans imagine their nation is much more equal than it is, and that they would like it to be more equal still -- would in fact far prefer Sweden's distribution of wealth to our own. But what does this tell us about our willingness to do what it takes to get there? I just saw an article in Mother Jones Magazine claiming that President Obama's caving in and permitting the continuation of the "Bush" tax cuts for the super wealthy was actually a progressive victory because of other things Obama got in the process. Such analyses suffer, I think, not just from hero-worship and partisan defensiveness, but from misplaced priorities. Taxing the rich is absolutely essential to every humanitarian cause and the viability of representative government.
"We can have democracy in this country," Louis Brandeis accurately said, "or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
The history that Pizzigati tells demonstrates this. Democracy and wealth concentration rise and fall in opposition to each other. Limitations on extreme wealth do nothing to reduce work and initiative. Extreme wealth impoverishes the poor; it doesn't enrich them. Trying to enrich the poor while allowing the rich to grow richer is an uphill if not impossible struggle, as the super-rich rewrite the rules to their own advantage. Thus "Tax Cuts For Everybody!" is an even worse policy than we commonly understand. It's not just that Congress rigs such deals to give the wealthiest the biggest cuts, but beyond that the wealthy will gain the power to quickly enact even worse legislation for the rest of us.
In the decades before World War I, authors and activists built an understanding that survived that horror, an understanding that the rich needed to be brought down if the poor were going to be brought up, that a rising tide doesn't lift all ships, that voodoo economics doesn't work just because preaching it can get you elected. It took decades of struggle, partial victories, and many setbacks. It took civil disobedience. It took third political parties. It took a willingness to spend money on World War II that we have yet to compel our government to spend on green energy or infrastructure or education or health. It took the alternative of communism competing for the world's approval. It took until the 1940s and 1950s for success to come. It was never a perfect success, and it came under greater threat of reversal the more people came to take it for granted. The success came after some who had worked for it had died. It came slowly.
And this is what worries me. Dave Lindorff speculated the other day that the rich and powerful in the United States may be driving climate disaster forward because they actually think that they and their friends will be able to weather the storms (and the millions who will suffer and die be damned). If at the start of the last century global warming had been what it is now, the struggle for success by mid-century in bringing down plutocracy would have come too late. We don't have a half century to play with. We can't leave power in the hands of maniacs willing to destroy the planet for a half century. "Those who succeed us," said Senator William Andrews Clark at the turn of the last century as he proposed hacking down the national forests, "can well take care of themselves." Many U.S. senators clearly feel the same way today under the cloud of greater dangers.
This is not an argument against reading Pizzigati's book. It's an argument for reading it immediately and acting on it even more swiftly than that. It's an argument for building a cultural awareness, not of hatred and vengeance, not of violence, not of counterproductive spasms of rage, but of awareness that aristocracy is incompatible with democracy, that in one form or another 99% of us must join together, undo the status of the 1%, and then welcome them as 1% among equals. There is much we can learn from the history of how the rich have sometimes lost.
Is there ought we hold in common with the greedy parasite
Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might?
Is there anything left to us but to organize and fight?
For the union makes us strong.
They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn,
But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn.
We can break their haughty power, gain our freedom when we learn
that the union makes us strong.
By Dave Lindorff
Run a google search of “World Bank” and “climate change” and you’ll discover that this month the World Bank released a major study predicting a global “cataclysm” if world-wide temperatures increase by a predicted four degrees celsius (that’s roughly 8 degrees fahrenheit).
By Dave Lindorff
A new study by researchers at the University of Illinois in Urbana, showing that young children who are fearful in childhood are likely to be conservative when they grow up got me to thinking.
By Dave Lindorff
I went into my local township building Monday to settle up my local income tax bill. I had filed for an extension of my federal and state taxes back in April because of my father’s unexpected death a few weeks before the tax filing date and the need to deal with his funeral and with arranging for care for my widowed mother, who has alzheimers, had taken up all my time.
One thing you can say about the financial industry. It has no sense of loyalty.
New Book for Ages 6 to 10: Tube World
Parents: Have your kids been tired in the morning? Have you found wet bathing suits in their beds? Do they know things about far-away places that you didn’t teach them and they didn’t learn in school? Do children visiting your town from halfway around the world always seem to be friends with your kids, and to only be around during certain hours of the day? You won’t believe the explanation, but your kids might grin and wink at each other if you read it to them.
Kids: Did you know the center of the Earth was hollow? Do you know the words that can take you there, if you’re under the covers in your swimming suit and prepared for the trip? Can you imagine traveling anywhere in the world where there’s a swimming pool — and being home again in time for breakfast? If you haven’t been to Tube World yet, this book will tell you the secrets you need to know. And it will tell you about some children who discovered Tube World and used it to make the whole world a better place.
The paperback has been published in two versions, one with slightly better color, slightly better paper, and a dramatically higher price.
Buy the standard paperback from Amazon,
(If you order from Amazon it will ship right away even if Amazon says it won't ship for weeks; it is print-on-demand.)
Buy the premium paperback from Amazon,
Your local independent bookstore can order the book through Ingram.
Anyone can order the book in bulk at the lowest possible price right here.
Buy PDF, Audio, EPUB, or Kindle for $8 right here:
Advance Praise for Tube World:
“This book will make you laugh till water comes out your ears!”--Wesley
“This story is super flibba garibbidy schmibbadie libbidie awesome, mostly!”--Travis
“The best part is we saved 2,000 islands and pretty much the whole world in our swimming suits!”--Hallie
About Shane Burke:
Shane Burke lives in Denver Colorado and has been drawing and painting since he could hold a pencil. He took private art lessons when he was young and began winning awards and contests by the age of seven. His first big commission came at age nine when he created artwork for a billboard near his home town of Tracy California. His greatest influences came from his grandfather and elementary school teachers. He loved watching his grandfather paint landscapes and wanted to be just like him. Shane is a creative day dreamer and at complete peace when putting ink to paper. You can see more of Shane's work at www.beezink.com
Shooting to Kill Immigrants on the Mexican Border: WTF? A Border Agent Fired First at Immigrant Smugglers?
By Dave Lindorff
Sometimes it takes a small tragedy to call attention to expose a much bigger one.
The small tragedy happened when Nicholas Ivey, a US Border Patrol agent, was shot dead on a dark night in rough terrain along the border with Mexico in Arizona, a state that has been obsessing about illegal border crossers coming into the US from Mexico seeking jobs.
By Charles M. Young
Is there anything less threatening than a morbidly obese cop on motor scooter?
By Dave Lindorff
Just because someone has the ability to do something, does not mean he or she should do it.
We're not out of money. We've stopped taxing billionaires and corporations, and we're funding war-preparation so generously that we're sparking a global arms race that will eventually generate some enemies with which to justify the war preparation . . . which will make sense to students who were never taught to put events into chronological order. They couldn't be taught that because their teachers had to be laid off so that greedy billionaires could stuff a little more cash into their fat "Job Creator" tote bags.
TPP summit hosted outside Washington, DC is met with protest
WHAT: More than fifty labor, environmental, public health and community organizations, including Occupy Wall Street, will hold a rally outside the Lansdowne Resort on Sunday, September 9 demanding a public voice in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations taking place inside.
WHO: Allison Chin, President, Sierra Club, Ron Collins, Chief of Staff, Communications Workers of America, Matthew Kavanaugh, Director of U.S. Advocacy, HealthGAP. Erich Pica, President, Friends of the Earth US, Occupy Wall Street, and over 50 organizations.
WHERE: Outside the Lansdowne Resort, 44050 Woodridge Parkway, Lansdowne, VA 20176
WHEN: Sunday, September 9, 3:00pm
Leesburg -More than fifty labor, environmental, public health and community organizations gathered outside the Lansdowne Resort on Sunday afternoon for a rally demanding a public voice in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations taking place inside. The secretive pact is poised to become the largest free trade agreement in U.S. history, and is expected to affect the economy, the environment and consumer safety in Virginia and beyond. The secretive TPP is poised to become the largest free trade agreement in U.S. history, and is expected to affect the economy, the environment and consumer safety in Virginia and beyond. “The TPP is shaping up to become one of the biggest and most destructive trade agreements because it could lead to even more offshoring of our manufacturing and service sector jobs, downward pressure on wages and benefits, and the subversion of our labor rights and environmental protections. But the public is unaware that the TPP even exists because neg
otiators are keeping their proposals hidden,” said Ron Collins, chief of staff for the Communications Workers of America. “Americans deserve the right to know what’s being proposed in our names.”
“The TPP would allow transnational corporations to challenge environmental laws that protect our air, land and water. The TPP could lead to an explosion in natural gas and other energy exports — something that would expand dangerous fracking and accelerate global warming,” said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth US. “With such dire environmental impacts, it is no wonder U.S. trade negotiators want to prevent this pact from being debated in the open.”
The Leesburg TPP summit is the fourteenth major round of negotiations on the proposed trade and investment pact between the U.S. and countries throughout the Pacific Rim. To date, the U.S. Trade Representative has refused to publicly release the texts of any of the proposals its office has made for a reported 26 separate chapters, covering everything from financial regulations and government procurement to food safety and the environment. Meanwhile, approximately 600 corporate lobbyists have been granted access to the negotiating documents. This is a rollback in transparency from many past trade negotiations. The World Trade Organization publishes draft texts on its website, for example, and the Bush administration publicly released draft texts of the Free Trade Area of the Americas back in 2001.
“It’s outrageous that middlemen like Cargill and Land O’ Lakes are provided ongoing access to the negotiating texts, while the family farmers whose livelihoods will be affected by the TPP are being barred from commenting on specific texts until after the negotiations have concluded,” said Katherine Ozer, executive director of the National Family Farm Coalition. “It’s only reasonable to expect farmers, consumers and the environment to suffer under such an imbalanced negotiating process.”
“Leaked texts reveal that U.S. negotiators are pushing for TPP provisions that would reduce access to lifesaving, generic medications — jacking up healthcare costs here at home and becoming a literal death sentence for people with AIDS and other treatable diseases in much of the world,” said Matthew Kavanagh, Director of U.S. Advocacy for HealthGAP. “If I were a negotiator trying to ram through despicable provisions like that behind closed doors, I’d be afraid to let the public know what I was doing, too.”
Countries represented in this month’s negotiations are the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, but the TPP is also explicitly intended as a “docking agreement” that other nations will join over time. Canada and Mexico will be joining during the December round of negotiations, and Japan and other countries have also expressed some interest in joining in the future. The U.S. had been pushing to conclude the TPP negotiations this year, but they are now widely expected to continue into early 2013. The U.S. Trade Representative has said that he expects Congress to grant “Fast Track” authority in order to speed the TPP through Congress outside of normal review, amendment and debate procedures.
Sunday’s rally was endorsed by Amazon Watch, American Jobs Alliance, American Medical Student Association, Bergen County Green Party, Borneo Project, Bronx Greens, Brooklyn For Peace, Cheri Honkala (Green Party vice-presidential nominee), Citizens Trade Campaign, Communication Workers of America, Doctors for the 99%, Fair World Project, Family Farm Defenders, Frack Free Genesse, Friends of Animals United NY/NJ, Friends of the Earth, Global Exchange, Gas Free Seneca, Global Justice for Animals and the Environment, Gronowicz for Congress, Healthcare for the 99%, Health Global Access Project, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Itsoureconomy.org, Jill Stein (Green Party presidential nominee), Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution, Manhattan Greens, Mingas Network, National Family Farm Coalition, NY Committee in Solidarity w/ the People of El Salvador, Nodutdol for Korean Community Development, Occupy Astoria LIC, Occupy Wall Street Environmental Solidarity, Occupy Wall Street Labor Outreach Committee, Occupy Wall Street Trade Justice, October2011.org, Organic Consumers Association, Penley Global Law, Pennsylvania Fair Trade Coalition, Peruvians in Action NY, Public Citizen, Queerocracy, Rainforest Action Network, Rainforest Relief, NY Whale and Dolphin Action League, Sierra Club, TradeJustice NY Metro, United Students Against Sweatshops, West Queens Greens, and Wetlands Activism Collective. In solidarity: Occupy Queens
For a reporters’ memo on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, visit: http://tinyurl.com/
I'm writing from Baltimore after a few days of preparation for operation FLUSH the TPP!
The TPP is a "trade agreement" to hijack our social contract and replace it with corporate courts, of by and for the the mega-corporations, uber-persons-become-uber-
The TPP rally in Leesburg, VA is
tomorrow, TODAY! Saturday's Backbone Artful Activism workshop was fruitful. Trainer of trainers, Kim Marks gave a tour of the art of beautiful mischief, with Backbone amplifying and reinforcing with a verve we are very proud of.
I feel deeply grateful to the web of collaborators we have locked arms with.
Please pitch in to support our work in the coming week.
In collaboration and gratitude,
I'm writing from Baltimore after a few days of preparation for operation FLUSH the TPP!
By Linn Washington, Jr.
The news media have failed once again to report a significant story about an example of the racism always so obvious at Republican National Conventions.
No joke. A little innovative thinking and economic calculation, and someone has come up with a model in Niagara Falls that could restore the U.S. economy and every economy influenced by it, not to mention the natural environment and what's left of our miserable souls.
The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station has long been an economic drain (military spending produces fewer jobs than energy or education or infrastructure spending or even tax cuts), an environmental disaster (with the ground poisoned, what can replace this airport?), and a symbol of corruption (with the military trying to get rid of it, Congress members have insisted on keeping the base around as a make-work jobs program protected from charges of Socialism purely by its connection to war).
Charley Bowman of the Western New York Peace Center has come up with an idea that could generate jobs, increase the area's clean energy production by 60% (and that's saying something in a place already benefitting from a fairly largish waterfall), avoid killing anybody anywhere in the world, and last as long as the sun shines, rather than as long as the Pentagon pigs out. (Playing along with the general pretense that the Pentagon is already facing big cuts may be a strategic move in getting these sorts of projects going, but the Pentagon is almost guaranteed to really face enormous cuts before the sun does.)
Bowman's idea is to cover the airport with solar panels. Covering 8 million square meters would produce 546 ongoing jobs maintaining the panels, plus power for 110,000 homes. Bowman has laid out various options and their costs and savings. The cost to the public would be no more than we now spend. Instead of one more military airport, we'd have all that clean energy and a model for the country showing how to develop a local economy. (What locality in this country doesn't have a military boondoggle that could be put to better use?) And if we kill fewer Pakistanis and Yemenis and Afghans and Iranians and Somalis in the process, generating a bit less hatred for our country, who's going to complain? The newly employed? I doubt it. Those benefitting from the clean electricity? We're talking about much of Western New York being powered by sunshine via panels that make a lot less noise and air pollution than military jets. We could try this in Eastern New York and Northern Pennsylvania and Southern Massachusetts, and … 110,000 houses here, 110,000 houses there, and pretty soon you're talking real money.
Does this solution make sense? Does it in fact make so much sense as to threaten the Pentagon's bureaucrats? "Bureaucrat" is, of course, a French term meaning "We'll do things the way we've always done things even if it kills you." Never fear, bureaucrats! The Secretary of War is on the case. Leon Panetta, who 20 years ago favored exactly the kind of conversion proposed by Bowman, swooped in to the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station on August 9th waving around giant bags of cash. "We're committed to maintaining this base for the future," Panetta said. "It's important geographically, it's important to our mission going forward." Aha! Bet you didn't see that coming! We need an Air Reserve base in Niagara Falls to hold off the Canadian menace and suppress the growing violence between New York and Ohio. It's the geographic importance! Or Congresswoman Kathleen Hochul is a Democrat. One or the other. The solar lobby just doesn't buy campaigns the way war and oil profiteers do. Bowman is proposing 546 jobs at $50,000 each, but for a mere $52,950 total dumped into Hochul's campaigns (according to OpenSecrets.org), the "defense" industry seems to have out-bid him.
Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., ($194,403) has come to the principled conclusion that the base should remain a military base, and the Pentagon should figure out some way to waste money on it. Schumer assures us that Panetta is a "thoughtful, perceptive and caring" man who understands the base's importance to the Western New York economy, according to the Buffalo News. But, Panetta warns, if Congress doesn't undo by next January the "cuts" to the military that it passed last year, heads will roll, jobs will be axed, and Western New York will be forced to employ more people at a lower cost while generating clean energy for its residents. Are you scared yet? Panetta's dire warning of $487 billion in cuts is, as he sometimes mentions, "over 10 years." This means that the cuts sound bigger if you multiply them by 10. That's all it means. The annual cuts are $48 billion. But not really, because the cuts are smaller while Panetta and his boss are actually around, with most of the cuts pushed off into the latter part of the 10-year period. On top of which, the cuts are to dream budgets, not to actual budgets. Panetta's teasing of the people of Niagara Falls (You'll lose your jobs! You'll keep your jobs! You'll lose your jobs!) is the equivalent of Lockheed Martin's sending out phony pink slips to scare its workers, and both are the equivalent of a hot steaming pile of what comes out the far side of a well-fed bull.
Following Panetta's shakedown of Western New York for the war profiteers in Northern Virginia, Charley Bowman responded:
"The August 9 performance at the Niagara Falls Air Base by our elected representatives -- and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta -- can be summed up: jobs at the air base are only available through war or military research. They should know better. Following a 'lengthy' speech about the need for defense cuts, Panetta promised the frantic search will continue to discover a new military mission for the air base. His intended message was: no third world country is off limits, as we continue our struggle in the war on terror. With serious expressions on their faces, Schumer, Hochul and [Congressman Brian ($52,500)] Higgins nodded in agreement. Secretary Panetta did bring $6 million with him saying a flight simulator will be built at the air base. None of our elected leaders brought up the fact that flight simulation does not need a functioning airport. Such simulation could be done just as well in an urban setting, such as Buffalo's East Side or downtown Niagara Falls. (During the 2.5 hour long vigil outside the Niagara Falls Air Base that day, I counted 3 planes landing -- barely surpassing the flight activity at grass landing strips in rural Western N.Y.)"
International Call to Action:Support the General Motors-Colombia Hunger StrikersThirteen members of ASOTRECOL, the Association of Injured and Ex-Workers of General Motors Colombia, launched a hunger strike on Wednesday, August 1st outside the U.S. embassy to demand that GM justly compensate, provide medical care, and reintegrate over 200 workers who were fired after suffering work-related injuries. As proof of their commitment, the workers have sewn their mouths shut and plan to carry out the hunger strike to the death. August 24th marks the 24th day of their to-the-death hunger strike and 387 days of a tent occupation in front of the U.S. embassy in Bogotá. General Motors walked out of negotiations on August 6th and has since refused to return to the table. A few days ago Colombian authorities shut off the electrical supply to the hunger strikers' camp, leaving them without light and necessary medical equipment.Protests organized for August 24thDetroit: GM Headquarters, 300 Renaissance Center --- 12pmWashington D.C.: Capitol Hill --- 12pmNew York: Colombian Consulate --- 12pmBogotá: U.S. Embassy, 24/7São Paulo: Colombian EmbassyHanover: Colombian EmbassySPONSORS (as of 8/22): Witness for Peace; United Steel Workers; São José Metal Workers Union, Brazil (Sindicato dos Metalurgicos de São José dos Campos e Região); International Automotive Workers Council (Internationaler
Automobilarbeiterratschlag); Service Employees International Union 32 BJ; Occupy Wall Street Labor Outreach Committee; South East Michigan Jobs with Justice; Washtenaw Community Action Team; Graduate Employees’ Organization, AFT-Michigan, Local 3550; Lecturer Employees' Organization, AFT-Michigan, Local 6244; Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice; Moratorium Now!; U.S./Cuba Labor Exchange; Autoworkers Caravan; Organization for a Free Society; Solidarity; International Action CenterASOTRECOL website: www.asotrecol.com
Tell the City of Charlotte and the Democratic National Convention: Support the City Workers’ Demands for Basic Workers’ Rights!
Click HERE to sign
Click HERE to sign and send a message to the Charlotte City Council, the Obama administration, the Democratic National Convention Committee and others, telling them you support the City of Charlotte workers' demands for a city ordinance enacting a City Workers Bill of Rights.
Support the City of Charlotte Workers' Demands for a city ordinance inacting a City Workers Bill of Rights calling for:
An End to unfair disciplines
Payroll union dues deduction
Meet-and-confer with union representatives
Collective bargaining rights
Click HERE to sign!
By Dave Lindorff
If you want to know how moribund the Democratic Party is, how completely owned by Wall Street the president is, and how sick our national politics have become, just consider Social Security.
By Dave Lindorff
We’ve all heard it said by our teachers when we were in school, we’ve all heard it said by politicians, including presidents: “Democracies don’t start wars.”
By Dave Lindorff
This article originally appeared on the website of PressTV
Never mind these facts, we must spend more more MORE on the military or we'll all die of something other than the military!
By Linn Washington, Jr.
One year after riots rocked 66 areas across England for five days in some of the worst disturbances in that nation’s history, the issue that initially ignited those disturbances – police abuse – remains an unresolved problem.
By Dave Lindorff
This article was originally written forPressTV
We Americans are taught it in school. The propaganda put out by Voice of America repeats the idea ad nauseum around the globe. Politicians refer to it in every campaign speech with the same fervor that they claim to be running for office in response to God’s call: America is a model of democracy for the whole world.
But what kind of democracy is it really that we have here?
By Dave Lindorff
Imagine for a moment what would happen if former President George W. Bush were to give an interview on television and declare that his invasion of Iraq, and the ensuing nine years of death and mayhem that resulted from that war, had been the wrong thing to do. Imagine if he were to say of that decision, “Mistakes were made.”
Demanding that Chipotle’s ‘Food With Integrity’ Include Farmworkers, Calling on the Restaurant Chain to Commit to the Fair Food Program
Florida Farmworkers and Allies from Around the Country Announce National Day of Action
Immokalee, FL (July 25th, 2012):
This Wednesday, July 25th, conscientious consumers and fair food advocates in 25 cities around the nation will call on Chipotle Mexican Grill in a National Day of Action, demanding that the restaurant chain live up to its marketing image as a socially responsible corporation and join the Fair Food Program, an innovative program pioneered by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, an organization of Florida farmworkers.
The Fair Food Program is a unique partnership among farmworkers, tomato growers, and ten leading food retailers – including major fast food corporations Subway, McDonald’s and Burger King – that advances both the human rights of farmworkers and the long-term interests of the Florida tomato industry. It is the first large scale program for real, lasting social accountability in the domestic produce industry. The program improves the wages and working conditions of Florida farmworkers by committing major buyers of tomatoes to pay a premium of a “penny per pound” of tomatoes to be passed through to farmworkers by the growers for whom they work, and to target their purchases to growers willing to implement the Fair Food Code of Conduct developed together by farmworkers, growers and buyers.
Poverty in the United States is surrounded by myths and misunderstanding. Poverty is expanding, and extreme poverty is expanding. The social safety net is retracting. Congress has just slashed food stamps. But corporate media coverage that misleads us on the nature and causes of poverty is neither expanding nor improving. Karen Dolan is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and coordinator of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. She discusses this project, which is producing reporting on poverty while providing work to unemployed and under-employed journalists. Learn more at http://economichardship.org
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Chris Hedges' and Joe Sacco's new book, "Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt," is a treasure. Hedges wrote the plain text. Sacco produced the text-heavy cartoon sections and other illustrations, which even I -- not a big fan of cartoon books -- found to enrich this book enormously.