Opinion Blog-OPINIONS OF POSTERS-NOT OF WGN

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NSA

Want to get an idea of how serious this NSA gobbledegook is?  Here's one good article:

http://www.wired/threatlevel/2013/06/general-keith-alexander-cyberwar/all/

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J. Stiglitz, THE PRICE OF INEQUALITY

Joseph E. Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future (2013)

Not just in the United States but around the world as well, there is mounting concern about the increase in inequality and about the lack of opportunity, and how these twin trends are changing our economies, our democratic politics, and our societies.

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...the magnitude of the student loan crisis...

...their sense of disillusionment, of hopelessness, was sobering and sad...  Their bitterness ...

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Perhaps the statistics that most resonated as I met with groups from coast to coast...were those relating to lack of opportunity in America.  Both those in America and those abroad had simply assumed that America was the land of opportunity. ... But it was obvious that we weren't.

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 ...the incomes of ordinary Americans keep shrinking.

 ...the combined consequences of persistent inequality, of a deficient safety net, and of growing austerity are increasingly felt.

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These disturbing trends in income and wealth inequality were outdone by even more disturbing evidence about inequalities in health.  ...for the poorest group of Americans there has been no progress, and for poor women life expectancy has actually been declining.

Decreases in income and decline in standards of living are often accompanied by a multitude of social manifestations -- malnutrition, drug abuse, and deterioration in family life, all of which take a toll on health and life expectancy.

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The Inequality "Debate"

...increased economic insecurity.  It was equally hard to deny that the United States was no longer the land of opportunity portrayed by Horatio Alger stories of "rags to riches." 

 

...much of America's concentration of wealth at the top was the result of rent seeking -- including monopoly profits and the excessive compensation of some CEOs and, especially, that of the financial sector.

...markets don't exist in a vacuum.  They are shaped by our politics, often in ways that benefit those at the top.

Most heartening to me was the fact that even more conservative publications joined the discussion ... the Economist highlighted the extent of the increase in inequality and the reduction in opportunity, and agreed with most of our diagnosis and many of our prescriptions.  ...the Economist concluded, in particular, that "inequality has reached a stage where it can be inefficient and bad for growth."  Sharing our concern about the lack of opportunity in the United States, the report cites ... Not surprisingly, the Economist's recommendations began with an "attack on monopolies and vested interests" and then moved on to ways of improving economic mobility, where the "target should be pre-school education, as well as more retraining for the jobless."  It even recognized the need for more progressive taxation, including "Narrowing the gap between tax rates on wages and capital income....

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...the American economy has not been delivering for most Americans

Any economic agenda focusing on the middle class is, by its nature, an agenda centered on shared prosperity; and that means halting and reversing the trend of growing inequality.

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An efficient system of social protection is an important part of any modern society.  The market failed to provide adequate insurance, for instance, for unemployment or disability.  So the government stepped in.

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What [Cornel] West was hinting at, I think, is that the real solution to the inequality crisis lies in focusing on community rather than simply self-interest -- both community as a means to prosperity and as a goal in its own right. ... If our economic system leads to so many people without jobs, or with jobs that do not pay a livable wage, dependent on the government for food, it means that our economic system has not worked in the way it should, and then the government has to step in.

We do have a divided society.  But the division is not, as Romney has suggested, between freeloaders and the rest.  Rather it is between those (including many members of the 1 percent) who see America as a community and recognize that the only way to achieve sustained prosperity is to have shared prosperity....

Even if it were true that 47 percent of the population are freeloaders, it would mean that something is wrong with our society.  Every society will have some rotten apples, but most individuals intrinsically want to make a contribution to their communities, to have a meaningful job; they want "decent work."  But if a country doesn’t give a large proportion of the population the education that they need to earn a decent living, if employers don't pay workers a decent wage, if a society provides so little opportunity that many people become alienated and demotivated, then that society and its economy won't work well.

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New Recommended Books

Stiglitz, Joseph E.  The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future.  New York, 2013.

Amazon blurb:

A forceful argument against America's vicious circle of growing inequality by the Nobel Prize–winning economist.

America currently has the most inequality, and the least equality of opportunity, among the advanced countries. While market forces play a role in this stark picture, politics has shaped those market forces. ...exposes the efforts of well-heeled interests to compound their wealth in ways that have stifled true, dynamic capitalism. ...examines the effect of inequality on our economy, our democracy, and our system of justice. Stiglitz explains how inequality affects and is affected by every aspect of national policy, and with characteristic insight he offers a vision for a more just and prosperous future, supported by a concrete program to achieve that vision.

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 Byrne, Janet, ed.  The Occupy Handbook.  New York, 2012.

 Amazon blurb:

Analyzing the movement's deep-seated origins..., some of the greatest economic minds and most incisive cultural commentators - [e.g.] Paul Krugman, Robin Wells, Michael Lewis, Robert Reich, Amy Goodman, Barbara Ehrenreich, Gillian Tett, Scott Turow, Bethany McLean, Brandon Adams, and Tyler Cowen ...- capture the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon in all its ragged glory...considering the lasting changes wrought, and recommending reform. ...THE OCCUPY HANDBOOK is a talked-about source for understanding why 1% of the people in America take almost a quarter of the nation's income and the long-term effects of a protest movement....

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Chomsky, Noam.  Occupy.  Brooklyn, New YHork, 2012.

From reviews at Amazon:

"Occupy" is a selection of speeches...made by veteran radical Noam Chomsky at Occupy events in the U.S. late last year.  The speeches are a mixture of Chomsky putting events into context, an extremely brief history of the Neoliberal era (the "Thirty Years of Class War"...), a eulogy for the late Howard Zinn (of A People's History of the United States fame) and some reluctant but spot on advice ... and makes interesting reading even for those to whom it is not directly relevant.

...  While [the book] is rather short (about 120 pages), I think it's a worthwhile purchase for a few different reasons.  One: ...some fresh perspective on Howard Zinn! ... Agree or disagree with Chomsky; the fact is that you still are getting a fresh approach on one of the most beloved historians of our time.  Two: ...delivers a relevant argument for the need of 'Occupy' and movements similar to it. ...

... An interesting book for readers wishing to learn more about Occupy as well as the protests across Europe and the uprisings in the Arab World....

... This pamphlet can easily be the guide that occupiers, professors, activists and those seeking change can use to constantly navigate the uncharted territory. "Noam Chomsky Occupy" offers perspective and strategic vision.

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Couper, David C.  Arrested Development: A Veteran Police Chief Sounds Off About Protest, Racism, Corruption ''and the Seven Steps Necessary to Improve Our Nation's Police.  Indianapolis, 2011.

Amazon blurbs:

Repression of protest. Racial profiling. Excessive force. Misconduct. Corruption. ... The book is autobiography, history, and a police improvement manual in which he outlines the seven steps police must take in order to overcome the four obstacles which have "arrested" their development: anti-intellectualism, violence, corruption, and discourtesy.

David Couper led the Madison Police Department for over twenty years (1972-1993). During this time, the department successfully handled hundreds of public protests without incident, implemented a collaborative leadership style, and brought women and minorities into the department. ... Since his retirement he has been concerned about the militarization of our nation's police and their slow progress which has arrested their development. ... This is his third book on policing. For more information visit his blog at: http://improvingpolice.wordpress.com

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Chat, Chat, Chat!

Great way for people to stay connected is to add a real time chat. Please add a chat to this website!

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Cartoon Magic

teaparty.jpg

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BadgerCare

June 6th 2013 - BadgerCare Debate Not Over 

Citizens across Wisconsin push legislature to reverse budget committee rejection of BadgerCare funds

Events took place across Wisconsin on Wednesday expressing indignation and moral outrage about the Joint Finance Committee’s vote to reject billions of federal dollars for BadgerCare. There was a state-wide media call and live events in Milwaukee, Appleton, La Crosse, Eau Claire, and Wausau.  


CONTACT your state legislators or SIGN our petition to legislators

Sign the petition, then consider becoming a Citizens Action activist, You are the change we've been waiting for. 

http://www.gothealthcarewi.com/badgercare_petition 

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Red to Blue Badger

The Dem Party of Wisconsin has annunced a new program, Red to Blue Badgers, to suppoprt Democrats who might be willing to run a candidate in traditionally Republican territory.  Here is a description of the Red to Blue Badger initiative from the DPW website.

About

As part of our commitment to a 72 County Strategy and our goal of re-taking the state legislature, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin is proud to announce our latest effort to support and empower Democratic candidates who run for office in traditionally red districts.

The Red to Blue Badgers program is designed to give Democratic candidates the resources they need to run successful campaigns in historically Republican districts. As candidates achieve benchmarks for doors knocked, phone calls made, and dollars raised, this initiative will assist them in an escalating fashion as part of our long-term investment to compete in every part of the state and turn Wisconsin’s most conservative counties from red to blue.

How to Qualify

Qualified applicants to the Party’s Red to Blue Badgers program will be expected to meet the following benchmarks:

Participate in Training – Qualified candidates will be expected to have participated in a candidate or campaign training program. This includes, but is not limited to, the Advanced Democratic Leadership Institute, CampWellstone or Emerge.

Form a Kitchen Cabinet of Advisors – In order to demonstrate buy-in from local leaders and grassroots activists, candidates for the Red to Blue Badgers program will be expected to form a small group of campaign advisors known as a “kitchen cabinet.” The kitchen cabinet will work to hold both the candidates accountable to their goals and the state Party to their obligations to Red to Blue Badgers candidates.

Demonstrate a Commitment to Voter Contact – Prior to being named a Red to Blue candidate, applicants must produce a voter contact plan that includes a robust commitment to door-to-door conversations with voters about how to strengthen the middle class.

Build a Network of Grassroots Donors – In order to qualify for the Red to Blue Badgers program, candidates must also demonstrate financial buy-in from a network of grassroots donors. Whether grassroots supporters give $5 or $500 at a time, the success of this program requires building a network of people invested in legislative campaigns. Candidates will also be asked to produce a finance plan outlining how much they hope to raise and what their spending priorities will be.

Benefits

VAN Access

Candidates who qualify for the Red to Blue Badgers program will be ensured access to the voter file from the state party. The voter file, or VAN, is a critical component in the efficient use of scarce campaign resources.

Campaign Plans and Templates

Red to Blue Badgers candidates will also receive a series of draft campaign plans and templates from the state Party.

Campaign Plan – Sample campaign plans will be provided to Red to Blue Badgers kitchen cabinet advisory groups in order to help craft plans to compete in their districts.

Mail Plan – Direct mail is among the most effective forms of paid communication in legislative campaigns. The state Party will provide sample mail plans for candidates to tailor to their districts and individual races.

Sample Budgets – Draft budgets will be provided to the campaigns.

Fundraising

Along with draft budgets, the state Party will commit to helping raise money for Red to Blue Badgers candidates. Money raised online with a Red to Blue email will be distributed directly to Red to Blue candidates. A stand-alone Red to Blue Badgers fundraising event will also be held to showcase both the candidates and the program, again with the money raised going directly to candidates.

Red to Blue Badgers Coordinator

A dedicated Red to Blue Badgers Coordinator will work with the candidates and serve as the main point of contact to candidates and campaign managers. The coordinator will be responsible for assisting candidates and campaign managers on a daily basis with messaging, literature, mail, and earned media. The coordinator will also work with candidates and kitchen cabinets to turn narrative finance plans into realistic budgets and to hold the campaigns accountable to their fundraising goals.

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Comments from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Senator Sanders recently posted an op-ed in the Huffington Post regarding his Republican colleagues' concept of freedom: "In the U.S. Senate today, my right-wing colleagues talk a lot about "freedom" and limiting the size of government. Here's what they really mean.

They want ordinary Americans to have the freedom NOT to have health care in a country where 45,000 of our people die each year because they don't get to a doctor when they should. They want young people in our country to have the freedom NOT to go to college, and join the 400,000 young Americans unable to afford a higher education and the millions struggling with huge college debts. They want children and seniors in our country to have the freedom NOT to have enough food to eat, and join the many millions who are already hungry. And on and on it goes!"

For the full story see:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rep-bernie-sanders/what-can-we-learn-from-de_b_3339736.html 

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Thoughts on Ecology from His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Many of the blogs on this site rage against large corporations' attempts to slip chemicals into our food supplies without informing us on the labels or their attempts to change the genetic make-up of the food stocks, again without revealing such changes on the labels. Other blogs express our outrage at the mistreatment of our water, land and air (what used to be termed "the commons").

We should embrace the following message from His Holiness The Dalai Lama, carve it into our walls, our doors; tattoo it on our arms; print it on our banners, our tee shirts; screen it on our posters and shout it during our rallies:

"We take the existence of clean air and water, the continued growth of crops and availability of raw materials for granted. We know that these resources are finite, but because we think only of our own demands, we behave as if they are not. Our limited and self-centered attitudes fulfill neither the needs of the time, nor the potential of which we are capable."

This quotation is taken from Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World by Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown. 

 

 

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How Many Jobs Does An Investment Produce?

Imagine Singing This Blog Head to the Tune of 'Blowing In The Wind'

I found the following graphic on the facebook page of a group connected with the group marching on Washington to highlight the bias of the US Chamber of Commerce - the "Operation Green Jobs."

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