Progressive Calendar 08.14.06
From: David Shove (
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2006 15:47:01 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R     08.14.06

1. Como N4Peace    8.14 6pm
2. Julie Risser    8.14 7pm

3. Vs WalMart      8.15 9am
4. Immigrant women 8.15 11:30am Mankato MN
5. AltMedia/SPNN   8.15 5pm
6. Broderick/poet  8.15 6:30pm
7. Satire/homeland 8.15 7pm

8. NARAL           8.16 6:30pm
9. LakeSt/future   8.16 7pm
10. Vets/peace     8.16 7pm RedWing MN

11. Ralph Nader      - The ghosts of Lieberman's past
12. Verax/Mayer      - Terrorism and justice
13. Peter Montague   - Justice and your health department
14. Elliott/Lamm     - A moral code for a finite world
15. Oliver Bernstein - Mexican activists on poverty and the planet

--------1 of 15-------

From: Sheila Sullivan <aiisullivan [at]>
Subject: Como N4Peace 8.14 6pm

Monday 6pm we will meet at Coffe Grounds.  Our points of discussion
include The International Day of Peace on Sept 21 and helping local
teenagere make it to the Peace Jam in Denver, CO.  Lastly I will be taking
a job this fall and will no longer be able to keep it running.  I would be
thrilled if someone would like to step up to the plate, but I would also
be happy if our members joined with other N4P groups and became stronger
that way.  Please give your opinion at the meeting tomorrow or respond to
this email. Thanks for all the support!

--------2 of 15--------

From: Julie Risser <julie [at]>
Subject: Julie Risser 8.14 7pm

Julie's campaign is running strong. She was the first Green Party
candidate to petition successfully for ballot access and on Wednesday Take
Action Minnesota endorsed Julie's campaign. We need to continue to this

Join Julie and Risser For Senate District 41 volunteers for an
organizational meeting to kick off the second major phase of Julie's "It
Costs Nothing to Knock on a Door" campaign. Monday, August 14, 7pm 6112
Ashcroft Avenue, Edina MN 55424.

Julie's goal is to record as many conversations with residents in Senate
District 41 as possible - the question people are asked is "What do you
think the State should or should not be doing" Volunteers will learn how
to be a part of this process.

Julie has already talked to many eligible voters. Excerpts from her
campaign journal are available at the MPR site

--------3 of 15-------

From: Jesse Mortenson <teknoj [at]>
Subject: Vs WalMart 8.15 9am

August 15th at 9am, UFCW Local 789 Hall

We are hosting an honorary breakfast for all of our favorite community
activists and supporters who have hung in there and fought Wal-Mart with
us this past year. We'd love it if you could make it and enjoy some free
food. The national staff from Wake-Up Wal-Mart is making this event a stop
on there Big Bus Tour across America. So it should be a good time by all.
Let me know if you can make it, and how many wal-mart activist guests
you're bringing with you.

--------4 of 15--------

From: erin [at]
Subject: Immigrant women 8.15 11:30am Mankato MN

August 15: YWCA of Mankato Cecil's Table. Join Cecil Gassis for a round
table discussion on community diversity and the difficulties immigrant
women face when they come to live in the United States. 11:30AM-1PM. For
more info contact Debbie Matzke at (507) 345-4629 ext. 21 or
debbie [at]

--------5 of 15--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: AltMedia/SPNN 8.15 5pm

While we still have local public access tv (see:,
select SPNN Channel 15 for "Our World In Depth/Our World Today".  Show
times are 5 pm and midnight on Tuesday evenings and 10 am on Wednesdays.

(5 pm and midnight every Tuesday and 10 am on Wednesdays)
8/15 and 8/16
"Alternative Media Is the Message"
An Oct. '04 talk given by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!
- plus Chris Chandler video "Something's in the Air, But Not on the Airwaves"

---------6 of 15--------

From: Patty Guerrero <pattypax [at]>
Subject: Broderick/poet 8.15 6:30pm

The Salon this Tuesday, August 15 will have as our guest, poet Richard
Broderick, author of Night Sale and Woman Lake.  Also, he is the
co-founder of Minnesota Poets Against War and the recipient of the
Minnesota Book Award.  He will read some of his work and we will discuss
poetry and how it can relate to politics. He ran for St Paul school board
for the Green Party of StPaul.

Pax Salons ( ) are held (unless otherwise
noted in advance): Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943
W 7th, St Paul, MN

Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats.
Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.

--------7 of 15--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Satire/homeland 8.15 7pm

Tue Aug 15, 7pm: Frank & Susan Fulle, St Paul authors of the satirical
"Department of Homeland Security: Decency Rules & Regulations Manual
@Barnes and Noble, Calhoun Village, 3216 W. Lake St., Mpls. (just west of
Lake Calhoun),south Minneapolis Mrs. Sharon Flue (played by Susan),
temporary voluntary ambassador for The Department of Homeland Decency,
will discuss issues raised in the Decency Rules and Regulations Manual.
Also booksigning and answering questions.

--------8 of 15--------

From: erin [at]
Subject: NARAL 8.16 6:30pm

Also Wednesday, August 16: NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota Volunteer Action Camp.
Get all the tools you need to become a Pro-Choice S.T.A.R. (Simply Taking
Action for our Rights), including the most up-to-date info about the status
of reproductive rights and all the different ways pro-choicers like you can
protect those rights. 6:30-8:00PM at 550 Rice St, St. Paul. RSVP to
volunteer [at]

--------9 of 15--------

From: Dave Bicking <dave [at]>
Subject: LakeSt/future 8.16 7pm

Lake Street Development:  Whose Values?
Wednesday, August 16, 7-9pm
First Universalist Church,  3400 Dupont Avenue South Minneapolis

A dialog with neighbors, business leaders, public officials, churches, and
labor leaders about the values that shape our public policy around the
development of south Minneapolis.

>From the Midtown Exchange, to the Lake Street Reconstruction, to the
condos popping on every vacant corner - our world is changing.  Whose
values are at the center of this change? Whose need to be?Hear from local
groups who put values of community, family, hope, and diversity at the
center of their development and planning.

Connect with and share your values and dreams with your neighbors. Be part
of an emerging collective voice about creating development that is
international and value based. We all have a stake in this development and
will be living with the consequences for years to come.

For more information: call Deb Rogers (612) 825-1701

--------10 of 15--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Vets/peace 8.16 7pm RedWing MN

Wednesday, 8/16, 7 pm,  (and usually every 2nd Wednesday), Red Wing (#115)
Vets for Peace at home of Charles Nicolosi.  tuvecino [at]

--------11 of 15--------

The Ghosts of Lieberman's Past
Hey Joe!
Hartford, Connecticut.
[prior to primarty vote]

The "word of mouth" and the contest of lawn signs speak victory for Ned
Lamont over Senator Joseph Lieberman in the most closely watched
Democratic Party primary in the country. The latest Quinnipiac poll has
Lamont ahead by 54-41.

Journeying around this state of poor cities and prosperous towns, I found
that the unyielding support of Bush's disastrous Iraq War by Mr. Lieberman
is indeed the most compelling negative against this 18 year incumbent.
Unyielding support for Bush and the war is the albatross around Mr.
Lieberman's neck. Buttons depicting what appeared to be a Bush kiss and
political embrace of Lieberman adds visual ridicule to the hot brew
swirling around the once shoo-in Senator.

But there is more that has come together to weigh down the Senator. A
number of chickens have come home to roost which add up to his low
likeability rating and an image of selfishness.

Still on the people's mind in the "nutmeg state" was Lieberman's refusal
to resign his Senate seat when he was nominated to be Gore's
vice-president and allow a Connecticut Senate election which Democrat
Attorney General Michael Blumenthal would have easily won. Instead, had
Gore and he won (which I believe they did), the subsequent empty Senate
seat would have been filled by a Republican nominated by Republican
Governor John Rowland. People here do not forget that ego-trip.

Moreover, again and again Lieberman has done little more than lift a
finger for other Democrats challenging Republican incumbents. He did very
little to help Bill Curry's brainy run against Governor Rowland in 2002
either by way of raising real money or campaigning vigorously. Rowland was
a friend of Lieberman and the Senator did not want to hear Curry's charges
of corruption against the Governor. These charges were borne out after the
election with Rowland's imprisonment.

When Charlotte Koskoff was getting very close to upsetting long-time
incumbent Republican Congresswoman, Nancy Johnson, in 1996, Lieberman
could have raised her funds for needed television messages. He did not
choose to do so. Ms.  Koskoff lost in a squeaker.

That it is all about Joe and not the other Democrats and their Party
caught the attention of the journalistic humorists at the annual 2001
Gridiron Club Dinner in Washington. The white-tie dinner brings together
the political, business, military and media brass for an evening of steak
and satire. The skit on Joe Lieberman was set to the tune of the famous
Sixties song "Mrs. Robinson." The refrain was "Joe Lieberman, me, me, me
me, me, me."

So when the two "all about me"  politicians - Clinton and Lieberman - got
together in Waterbury the other day for a Clintonesque affirmation, it
became an expedient embrace between a past serial adulterer and a past
critical moralizer. Politics sure makes for some strange bedfellows.

Some political observers thought Clinton, who won elections while viewing
losses in droves by other Democrats in Congress and in many states, would
give Lieberman a critical lift. To the contrary, Lamont's lead widened

More and more Democratic voters began to sense that Lieberman was taking
them for granted, if not for a ride. He became Washington-bound and did
not spend as much time back home as he did traveling abroad. More
importantly, he became a favorite of the big business lobbies that swarm
daily over the nations' capital and Capitol Hill.

There is no better evidence of Lieberman's wanting to have it both ways -
incessantly saying how pro-labor, pro-consumer and pro-environment he has
been - than his receiving the enthusiastic endorsement by the most
powerful, most cruel and greedy corporate lobby of them all - the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce. With their front groups, the Chamber writes about its
involvement in hundreds of state and federal campaigns. This lobby
recently bragged about defeating, in 2004, Senator Lieberman's leader in
the Senate, Senator Tom Daschle.

What does the Chamber stand for? For starters, it demands that federal
taxpayers subsidize corporations (corporate welfare), that the federal cop
be taken off the corporate crime, fraud and abuse beat (de-regulation and
weak law enforcement), that laws be weakened which protect the
environment, workers, consumers and small taxpayers, and that the bloated,
wasteful military contracting budget continue to grow.

We have contested the Chamber's crude demands to weaken OSHA (the job
safety agency), NHTSA (auto and truck safety), FDA (food and drug safety)
and just about any federal activity that stands up for people over
corporations where the two conflict.

So the Chamber supports only two Democratic Senators for re-election. They
are Senator Ben Nelson (NE) and Senator Joe Lieberman (CT). Its political
arm described Mr.  Lieberman as having the highest "cumulative voting
score" of any "Democratic Senator in the Northeast." Big Businesses'
favorite Democratic Senator!

The Chamber was delighted with Lieberman's votes for NAFTA, WTO and CAFTA
and for weakening class action litigation rights for defrauded investors,
injured consumers and workers. They were delirious with Senator
Lieberman's vote for the Cheney/Exxon energy bill that did nothing to
advance more fuel efficient cars or address global warming, as it poured
more taxpayer subsidies into super-profiteering Big Oil and Big Natural

That's Joe Lieberman's record, in contrast to his rhetoric back on the
stump these days in Connecticut. All out for more giant unneeded weapon
systems, never in eighteen years advancing universal health insurance and
always doubting the historic civil justice system's need to evolve
stronger at the state level, not be weakened in Washington, D.C.

The Chamber's endorsement stimulates more corporate interest dollars into
Senator Lieberman's ample campaign coffers. But strangely, he does not
list the Chamber's support on his website's list of endorsements.

I asked Senator Lieberman whether he was going to publicly repudiate the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce's endorsement. After all, the Chamber is working
overtime to undermine his Democratic Party and its more progressive

Calls by voters to four of Lieberman's offices did not produce any answer
from the Senator.

On August 8th, the Senator will receive the primary voters' answers.

[Lieberman lost. It couldn't have happened to a better person. -ed]

--------12 of 15--------

Terrorism and Justice
By Vox Verax
by Joe Mayer

Terrorism is a despicable cowardly murder of innocent people.

Imperial state terrorism (war) is a despicable cowardly murder of innocent

The second statement above is completely unacceptable in today's America
and will surely bring accusations of treason. But those of us who truly
love the United States in which we grew up must risk our comfort to speak
truth to power, because the country that was once the beacon of freedom
and justice has lost those values and is now resented by the majority of
the world's citizens.

Americans leaders today speak of an "unending" war on terror. Terror and
the fear it generates is a self-perpetuating spiral, one that our
politicians employ for reelection. Once reelected, they continue policies
that fuel terrorist reaction and which fulfills their war prophecy.

    * If we can justify all the wars, bombing and killing that we've
      inflicted on the world -
    * If we can justify 10,000 nuclear weapons with the desire to build
      more -
    * If we can justify a foreign policy of militarism to support
      American business interests -
    * If we can justify claims to be a peaceful nation and promote
      "unending" war at the same time -
    * If we can justify overthrowing sovereign governments by our CIA
      and other intelligence agencies -
    * If we can justify eliminating due process and promoting rendition
      and torture -
    * If we can justify appealing to the United Nations for help and
      castigating it at the same time -
    * If we can justify our claimed right to pollute the earth -
    * If we can justify using over twenty-five percent of the resources
      for six percent of the world's people -
    * If we can justify continued immunity from The World Court and
      still demand that it prosecute others -
    * If we can justify picking and choosing which world treaties we
      will accept and when -
    * If we can justify supplying the world with devastating weapons -
    * If we can justify claiming that God is on our side because we are
      good -
    * If we can justify all of this, then, surely people on the
      receiving end of these double standards, these injustices, can, in
      their own rationalization, justify fighting back.

In our self-righteousness and arrogance we refuse to take any
responsibility for the hatred of the world toward us. We continue to allow
the neoconservatives, the military complex and all the war hawks to
dominate our foreign policy with more violence as our only response.
According to them everything (meaning nuclear) is "on the table" - all the
time - everywhere.

9/11 is nearly five years past. Do we believe that we and the rest of the
world are any safer? Has the violence we've exploded in the Middle East
lessoned the threat of terrorism? Will more enemies created by more
violence make us more secure? The hawks want us to believe the answer to
all these questions is "yes." They're already campaigning on the issue of
national security, calling anyone against their programs as "weak on
national security."

We have much work to do. Our elected Democratic officials need a shot of
backbone. They just caved in again on the Israel/Hezbollah issue by
condoning more violence. While the rest of the world tries to defuse this
continuing conflict with some semblance of objectivity, Democrats and
Republicans march in lockstep toward further isolation from world opinion.
Every time Congressional Democrats follow the Republican leadership in a
crisis such as this, they once again concede national security issues to
the Republicans.

We need to project justice into national security, morality into our
economic undertakings, and common sense into our foreign policy.

--------13 of 15---------

By Peter Montague
From: Rachel's Democracy & Health News #867, Aug. 10, 2006

Community-based activists may be missing an important opportunity if they
don't explore alliances with their local health department. Some health
departments are like dinosaurs, but many are not. Your local health
department is most likely connected to the national organization, NACCHO
(National Association of County and City Health Officials). This week
let's look at just two of the many resolutions NACCHO has adopted and
published in recent times:

ON HUMAN RIGHTS (Resolution 01-10, dated June 27, 2001)

WHEREAS, the mission of public health is "to fulfill society's interest in
assuring conditions in which people can be healthy";[1] and

WHEREAS, "the values that underlie public health are the values of human
rights and there is an undeniable relationship between individual rights,
human dignity, and the human condition";[2] and

WHEREAS, Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted
by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, states "Everyone has the
right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of
himself and of his/her family, including food, clothing, housing, and
medical care";[3] and

WHEREAS, "Vigilance to prevent human rights violations and to ensure
social justice for all people is essential to the advancement of human
development and the prevention of human suffering";[4] and

WHEREAS, according to the World Health Organization, more than 40 percent
of all people who died in the world died prematurely, in part due to major
inequalities in access to basic human needs, poverty, poor sanitary
conditions, and violence;[5]

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Association of County and City
Health Officials (NACCHO) will advocate for the protection of human rights
and social justice as a guiding principle in public health practice,
research and policies; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACCHO will work to incorporate human rights,
social justice, and efforts to eliminate disparities in health status into
public health curricula, workforce development initiatives, and program
evaluation measures; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACCHO will collaborate with partner
organizations, government agencies, global initiatives, and community
groups in the prevention of human suffering and the promotion of social
justice, health, equity, and sustainable development. [End of Resolution

And this one:

SUPPORTING ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE (Resolution 00-07 Nov. 12, 2000)

WHEREAS, throughout the nation there is an overrepresentation of toxic
waste sites and contaminated properties in communities of color and
low-income communities[6], and race is the most significant variable that
has been associated with the siting of hazardous waste facilities, even
after controlling for urbanization, regional differences and
socio-economic status[7]; and

WHEREAS, penalties imposed under hazardous waste laws at sites having the
greatest white population were about 500 percent higher than penalties
imposed at sites with the greatest people of color population[8]; and

WHEREAS, serious health concerns and exposures have resulted from the
siting of toxic waste and other contaminated facilities in communities of
color and low-income communities, adding to other threats posed by poor
quality housing, absence of mass transit, unhealthy working conditions,
poverty, and high levels of pollution production[9]; and

WHEREAS, urban sprawl and discriminatory land use decisions create
economic and racial polarization, segregated neighborhoods and
deteriorating neighborhoods in people of color and low-income
communities,[10] thereby increasing health and safety risks, health
disparities, air and water pollution, poor quality housing, unstable
neighborhoods, unsustainable ecosystems, and poor quality of life;[11]

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Association of County and City
Health Officials (NACCHO) supports the fundamental right to political,
economic, cultural and environmental self-determination of all peoples,
and the right to be free from ecological destruction; and affirms the need
for urban and rural ecological policies to clean up and rebuild our cities
and rural areas in balance with nature while assuring healthy communities;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACCHO facilitates local public health agency
efforts to ensure that no communities suffer from disproportional
exposures to environmental health hazards; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NACCHO actively supports programs, policies,
and activities that build the capacity to identify disproportionate
sitings of facilities, discriminatory land use and zoning laws, and to
assure nondiscriminatory compliance with all environmental, health and
safety laws in order to assure equal protection of the public health; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACCHO supports public and corporate policy
based on mutual respect and justice for all peoples, free from any form of
discrimination or bias; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACCHO supports universal protection from
unnecessary radiation exposure resulting from nuclear testing, extraction,
production and disposal of toxic/hazardous wastes and poisons that
threatens the fundamental right to clean air, land, water, and food; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACCHO supports the principle that producers
of hazardous waste and materials be held strictly accountable to the
people and responsible for containment and detoxification; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACCHO supports the right of all people
potentially affected to participate as equal partners at every level of
decision-making about hazardous waste and materials, including needs
assessment, planning, implementation, enforcement and evaluation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACCHO recognizes a special legal and ethical
relationship of the federal, state, and local governments and Native
Peoples through treaties, agreements, compacts, and covenants affirming
sovereignty and self-determination; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACCHO affirms the right of all workers to a
safe and healthy work environment; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACCHO calls for the education of present and
future generations which emphasizes social and environmental issues, based
on our experience, our concern for health, and an appreciation of our
diverse cultural perspectives; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that NACCHO supports the right to ethical, balanced
and responsible uses of land and renewable resources in the interest of a
sustainable planet for humans and other living things. [End of Resolution

In sum, NACCHO recognizes that

** Everyone has a right to an environment that promotes health; this is
much more than merely having a right to an environment free of toxicants.
This is the difference between your environmental agency and your health
agency - the environmental agency aims to "protect" health from bad
things. Your health department has a mandate to promote health by making
good things happen.

** Everyone has a right to a standard of living adequate for health and
well-being; your environmental agency has no mandate to worry about your
standard of living, but your health department does.

** Social justice is the guiding principle of public health practice and

** Vigilance is necessary to ensure social justice;

** Local health departments "will collaborate" with partner organizations,
including community groups - perhaps your community group;

** In communities of color and low-income communities, toxic waste sites
have been piled on top of other threats posed by poor quality housing, the
absence of mass transit, unhealthy working conditions, poverty, and high
levels of pollution. Thus your health department recognizes that toxic
waste and pollution don't occur in a vacuum - they are part of something
now being called "cumulative risk."

** Sprawl and discriminatory land-use decisions (to keep the poor out of
suburbs, mainly by refusing to provide affordable housing) have increased
(a) health and safety risks for the poor and people of color, (b) health
disparities, (c) air and water pollution, (d) poor quality housing, (e)
unstable neighborhoods, (f) unsustainable ecosystems, and (g) poor quality
of life. In other words, your health department "gets" that sprawl does
more than chew up farmland - sprawl makes people sick and ruins real
lives of real people.

** Supports the "fundamental right" to be free from ecological

** Facilitates local agency efforts to ensure that no communities suffer
from disproportional exposures to environmental health hazards;

** Supports the right of all people potentially affected to participate as
equal partners at every level of decision-making about hazardous waste and
materials, including needs assessment, planning, implementation,
enforcement and evaluation. In other words, your health department "gets
it" about the importance of democracy.

What if your health department doesn't behave this way?

If your local health department doesn't seem to measure up to the
expectations outlined by NACCHO, there's a new tool you can use to
actually measure your health department's performance - a set of minimum
functions expected of all local health departments, created by NACCHO. The
minimum "core functions" of a health department are spelled out officially
here - and you can use them as a benchmark for measuring the performance
of your local health department. You say they don't measure up?

Well, then - that's good ammunition for a local political fight, isn't
it? A good health department is worth fighting for - and worth going to
bat for when their budget is under threat.


[1] Institute of Medicine, The Future of Public Health. Washington,
DC: National Academy Press; 1988.

[2] Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, July 14, 1992 ILM.
1992; 31:873.

[3] Note, this was also echoed in the constitution of the World Health
Organization and was ratified by subsequent international covenants
and conventions.

[4] American Journal of Public Health, May 2000, Vol. 90 No. 5,
Rosalia Rodriguez-Garcia, PhD, MSc, Mohammad N. Akhter, MD, MPH

[5] World Health Organization. World Health Report. Geneva, 1998

[6] Benjamin Goldman, Not Just Prosperity: Achieving Sustainability
with Environmental Justice. Washington, DC: National Wildlife
Federation, 1994; Carita Shanklin, "Comment, Pathfinder: Environmental
Justice," 24 Ecology Law Quarterly 333 (1997); Commission for Racial
Justice, United Church of Christ, "Toxic Waste and Race in the United
States, a National Report on the Racial and Socio-Economic
Characteristics of Communities with Hazardous Waste Sites," Public
Data Access, Inc., 1987.

[7] Paul Mohai and Bunyan Bryant. "Environmental Justice: Weighing
Race and Class As Factors in the Distribution of Environmental
Hazards," 63 University of Colorado Law Review 921 (1992).

[8] The National Law Journal, "Unequal Protection, the Racial Divide
in Environmental Law, " Sept. 21, 1992.

[9] Robert Bullard, Unequal Protection: Environmental Justice and
Communities of Color. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1994;. Charles
Lee, Environmental Justice, Urban Revitalization, and Brownfields: The
Search for Authentic Signs of Hope. A Report on the "Public Dialogues
on Urban Revitalization and Brownfields: Envisioning Healthy and
Sustainable Communities. Washington, DC: National Environmental
Justice Advisory Council Waste and Facility Siting Subcommittee.
December, 1996. EPA 500 R-96-002. Also appears as "Environmental
Justice: Creating A Vision for Achieving Healthy and Sustainable
Communities," in Benjamin Amick and Rima Rudd eds. Social Change and
Health Improvement: Case Studies for Action, forthcoming, 1999; Craig
Anthony Arnold, "Planning Milagros: Environmental Justice and Land Use
Regulation," 76(1) Denver University Law Review 1998: 1.

[10] Michael Gelobter, "The Meaning of Environmental Injustice," 21(3)
Fordham Urban Law Journal (Spring, 1994): 841-56; Robert Bullard,
Glenn S. Johnson and Angel O. Torres. Sprawl City. Washington, DC:
Island Press, 2000; Paul Stanton Kibel, "The Urban Nexus: Open Space,
Brownfields, and Justice," 25 Boston College Environmental Affairs Law
Review (1998): 589.

[11] Carl Anthony, Suburbs Are Making Us Sick: Health Implications of
Suburban Sprawl and Inner City Abandonment on Communities of Color.
Environmental Justice Health Research Needs report Series. Atlanta:
Environmental Justice Resource Center, 1998; David Bollier, How Smart
Growth Can Stop Sprawl. Washington, DC: Essential Books, 1998; Craig
Anthony Arnold, "Planning Milagros: Environmental Justice and Land Use
Regulation," 76(1) Denver University Law Review (1998): 1-152.

--------14 of 15--------

By Herschel Elliott and Richard D. Lamm
From: Chronicle of Higher Education, Nov. 15, 2002

What if global warming is a reality, and expanding human activity is
causing irreparable harm to the ecosystem? What if the demands of a
growing human population and an expanding global economy are causing our
oceans to warm up, our ice caps to melt, our supply of edible fish to
decrease, our rain forests to disappear, our coral reefs to die, our soils
to be eroded, our air and water to be polluted, and our weather to include
a growing number of floods and droughts? What if it is sheer hubris to
believe that our species can grow without limits? What if the finite
nature of the earth's resources imposes limits on what human beings can
morally do? What if our present moral code is ecologically unsustainable?

A widely cited article from the journal Science gives us one answer.
Garrett Hardin's "The Tragedy of the Commons" (1968) demonstrated that
when natural resources are held in common - freely available to everyone
for the taking - the incentives that normally direct human activity lead
people to steadily increase their exploitation of the resources until they
are inadequate to meet human needs. The exploiters generally do not intend
to cause any harm; they are merely taking care of their own needs, or
those of others in want. Nevertheless, the entire system moves inexorably
to disaster. Everyone in the world shares in the resulting tragedy of the

Today, our standard of living, our economic system, and the political
stability of our planet all require the increasing use of energy and
natural resources. In addition, much of our political, economic, and
social thinking assumes a continuous expansion of economic activity, with
little or no restraint on our use of resources. We all feel entitled to
grow richer every year. Social justice requires an expanding pie to share
with those who are less fortunate. Progress is growth; the economies of
developed nations require steady increases in consumption.

Every environment is finite. At a certain point, the members of an
increasing population become so crowded that they stop benefiting each
other; by damaging the environment that supports everyone, by limiting the
space available to each person, and by increasing the amount of waste and
pollution, their activity begins to cause harm... And if the population
continues to expand, its material demands may so severely damage the
environment as to cause a tragedy of the commons - the collapse of both
environment and society.

What if such a scenario is unsustainable? What if we need an ethics for a
finite world, an ethics of the commons?

It is not important that you agree with the premise. What is important is
that you help debate the alternatives. An ethics of the commons would
require a change in the criteria by which moral claims are justified.

You may believe that current rates of population growth and economic
expansion can go on forever - but debate with us what alternative ethical
theories would arise if they cannot. Our thesis is that any ethical system
is mistaken and immoral if its practice would cause an environmental

Many people assume that moral laws and principles are absolutely certain,
that we can know the final moral truth. If moral knowledge is certain,
then factual evidence is irrelevant, for it cannot limit or refute what is
morally certain.

Our ethics and concepts of human rights have been formulated for a world
of a priori reasoning and unchanging conclusions. Kant spoke for that
absolutist ethical tradition when he argued that only knowledge that is
absolutely certain can justify the slavish obedience that moral law
demands. He thought he had found rational grounds to justify the universal
and unchanging character of moral law. Moral knowledge, he concluded, is a
priori and certain. It tells us, for example, that murder, lying, and
stealing are wrong. The fact that those acts may sometimes seem to benefit
someone cannot diminish the absolute certainty that they are wrong. Thus,
for example, it is a contradiction to state that murder can sometimes be
right, for, by its very nature, murder is wrong.

Many human rights are positive rights that involve the exploitation of
resources. (Negative rights restrain governments and don't require
resources. For example, governments shouldn't restrict our freedom of
speech or tell us how to pray.) Wherever in the world a child is born,
that child has all the inherent human rights - including the right to have
food, housing, and medical care, which others must provide. When positive
rights are accorded equally to everyone, they first allow and then support
constant growth, of both population and the exploitation of natural

That leads to a pragmatic refutation of the belief that moral knowledge is
certain and infallible. If a growing population faces a scarcity of
resources, then an ethics of universal human rights with equality and
justice for all will fail. Those who survive will inevitably live by a
different ethics.

Once the resources necessary to satisfy all human needs become
insufficient, our options will be bracketed by two extremes. One is to
ration resources so that everyone may share the inadequate supplies
equally and justly.

The other is to have people act like players in a game of musical chairs.
In conditions of scarcity, there will be more people than chairs, so some
people will be left standing when the music stops. Some - the
self-sacrificing altruists - will refuse to take the food that others
need, and so will perish. Others, however, will not play by the rules.
Rejecting the ethics of a universal and unconditional moral law, they will
fight to get the resources they and their children need to live.

Under neither extreme, nor all the options in between, does it make sense
to analyze the problem through the lens of human rights. The flaw in an
ethical system of universal human rights, unqualified moral obligations,
and equal justice for all can be stated in its logically simplest form: If
to try to live by those principles under conditions of scarcity causes it
to be impossible to live at all, then the practice of that ethics will
cease. Scarcity renders such formulations useless and ultimately causes
such an ethics to become extinct.

We have described not a world that we want to see, but one that we fear
might come to be. Humans cannot have a moral duty to deliver the
impossible, or to supply something if the act of supplying it harms the
ecosystem to the point where life on earth becomes unsustainable. Moral
codes, no matter how logical and well reasoned, and human rights, no
matter how compassionate, must make sense within the limitations of the
ecosystem; we cannot disregard the factual consequences of our ethics. If
acting morally compromises the ecosystem, then moral behavior must be
rethought. Ethics cannot demand a level of resource use that the ecosystem
cannot tolerate.

The consequences of human behavior change as the population grows. Most
human activities have a point of moral reversal, before which they may
cause great benefit and little harm, but after which they may cause so
much harm as to overwhelm their benefits. Here are a few representative
examples, the first of which is often cited when considering Garrett
Hardin's work:

In a nearly empty lifeboat, rescuing a drowning shipwreck victim causes
benefit: It saves the life of the victim, and it adds another person to
help manage the boat. But in a lifeboat loaded to the gunwales, rescuing
another victim makes the boat sink and causes only harm: Everyone drowns.

When the number of cars on a road is small, traveling by private car is a
great convenience to all. But as the cars multiply, a point of reversal
occurs: The road now contains so many cars that such travel is
inconvenient. The number of private cars may increase to the point where
everyone comes to a halt. Thus, in some conditions, car travel benefits
all. In other conditions, car travel makes it impossible for anyone to
move. It can also pump so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that it
alters the world's climate.

Economic growth can be beneficial when land, fuel, water, and other needed
resources are abundant. But it becomes harmful when those resources become
scarce, or when exploitation causes ecological collapse. Every finite
environment has a turning point, at which further economic growth would
produce so much trash and pollution that it would change from producing
benefit to causing harm. After that point is reached, additional growth
only increases scarcity and decreases overall productivity. In conditions
of scarcity, economic growth has a negative impact.

Every environment is finite. Technology can extend but not eliminate
limits. An acre of land can support only a few mature sugar maples; only
so many radishes can grow in a five-foot row of dirt. Similar constraints
operate in human affairs. When the population in any environment is small
and natural resources plentiful, every additional person increases the
welfare of all. As more and more people are added, they need increasingly
to exploit the finite resources of the environment. At a certain point,
the members of an increasing population become so crowded that they stop
benefiting each other; by damaging the environment that supports everyone,
by limiting the space available to each person, and by increasing the
amount of waste and pollution, their activity begins to cause harm. That
is, population growth changes from good to bad. And if the population
continues to expand, its material demands may so severely damage the
environment as to cause a tragedy of the commons - the collapse of both
environment and society.

Those cases illustrate the fact that many activities are right - morally
justified - when only a limited number of people do them. The same
activities become wrong - immoral - when populations increase, and more
and more resources are exploited.

Few people seem to understand the nature of steady growth. Any rate of
growth has a doubling time: the period of time it takes for a given
quantity to double. It is a logical inevitability - not a matter subject
to debate - that it takes only a relatively few doublings for even a small
number to equal or exceed any finite quantity, even a large one.

One way to look at the impact of growth is to think of a resource that
would last 100 years if people consumed it at a constant rate. If the rate
of consumption increased 5 percent each year, the resource would last only
36 years. A supply adequate for 1,000 years at a constant rate would last
79 years at a 5-percent rate of growth; a 10,000-year supply would last
only 125 years at the same rate. Just as no trees grow to the sky, no
growth rate is ultimately sustainable.

Because the natural resources available for human use are finite,
exponential growth will use them up in a relatively small number of
doublings. The only possible questions are those of timing: When will the
resources be too depleted to support the population? When will human
society, which is now built on perpetual growth, fail?

The mathematics makes it clear: Any human activity that uses matter or
energy must reach a steady state (or a periodic cycle of boom and bust,
which over the long run is the same thing). If not, it inevitably will
cease to exist. The moral of the story is obvious: Any system of economics
or ethics that requires or even allows steady growth in the exploitation
of resources is designed to collapse. It is a recipe for disaster.

It is self-deception for anyone to believe that historical evidence
contradicts mathematical necessity. The fact that the food supply since
the time of Malthus has increased faster than the human population does
not refute Malthus's general thesis: that an increasing population must,
at some time, need more food, water, and other vital resources than the
finite earth or creative technology can supply in perpetuity. In other
words, the finitude of the earth makes it inevitable that any behavior
causing growth in population or in the use of resources - including human
moral, political, and economic behavior - will sooner or later be
constrained by scarcity.

Unlike current ethics, the ethics of the commons builds on the assumption
of impending scarcity. Scarcity requires double-entry bookkeeping:
Whenever someone gains goods or services that use matter or energy,
someone else must lose matter or energy. If the starving people of a
distant nation get food aid from the United States, then the United States
loses that amount of food; it also loses the fertility of the soil that
produced the food. To a point, that arrangement is appropriate and
workable. Soon, however, helping one group of starving people may well
mean that we cannot help others. Everything that a government does
prevents it from doing something else. When you have to balance a budget,
you can say yes to some important services only by saying no to others.
Similarly, the ethics of the commons must rely on trade-offs, not rights.
It must specify who or what gains, and who or what loses.

Indeed, in a finite world full of mutually dependent beings, you never can
do just one thing. Every human activity that uses matter or energy pulls
with it a tangled skein of unexpected consequences. Conditions of crowding
and scarcity can cause moral acts to change from beneficial to harmful, or
even disastrous; acts that once were moral can become immoral. We must
constantly assess the complex of consequences, intended or not, to see if
the overall benefit of seemingly moral acts outweighs their overall harm.

As Hardin suggested, the collapse of any common resource can be avoided
only by limiting its use. The ethics of the commons builds on his idea
that the best and most humane way of avoiding the tragedy of the commons
is mutual constraint, mutually agreed on and mutually enforced.

Most important, the ethics of the commons must prevent a downward spiral
to scarcity. One of its first principles is that the human population must
reach and maintain a stable state - a state in which population growth
does not slowly but inexorably diminish the quality of, and even the
prospect for, human life. Another principle is that human exploitation of
natural resources must remain safely below the maximum levels that a
healthy and resilient ecosystem can sustain. A third is the provision of a
margin of safety that prevents natural disasters like storms, floods,
droughts, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions from causing unsupportable

Not to limit human behavior in accordance with those principles would be
not only myopic, but also ultimately a moral failure. To let excess human
fertility or excess demand for material goods and services cause a
shortage of natural resources is as immoral as theft and murder, and for
the same reasons: They deprive others of their property, the fruits of
their labors, their quality of life, or even their lives.

The ethics of the commons is a pragmatic ethics. It denies the illusion
that human moral behavior occurs in a never-never land, where human rights
and duties remain unchanging, and scarcity can never cancel moral duties.
It does not allow a priori moral arguments to dictate behavior that must
inevitably become extinct. It accepts the necessity of constraints on both
production and reproduction. As we learn how best to protect the current
and future health of the earth's ecosystems, the ethics of the commons can
steadily make human life more worth living.

As populations increase and environments deteriorate, the moral laws
that humans have relied on for so long can no longer solve the most
pressing problems of the modern world. Human rights are an inadequate
and inappropriate basis on which to distribute scarce resources, and
we must propose and debate new ethical principles.

Herschel Elliott is an emeritus associate professor of philosophy at
the University of Florida. Richard D. Lamm, a former governor of
Colorado, is a university professor at the University of Denver and
executive director of its Center for Public Policy and Contemporary

--------15 of 15--------

From: Grist, Mar. 7, 2006
What Mexican activists can teach the U.S. about poverty and the planet
By Oliver Bernstein

As the border organizer for Sierra Club's Environmental Justice program, I
bounce back and forth across the U.S.-Mexico border supporting grassroots
environmental activists. More than the food, language, or currency, the
biggest difference from one side to the other is what issues are
considered "environmental." Perhaps nowhere else on earth is there such a
long border between such a rich country and such a struggling one, and
this disparity seems to carry over to which issues take priority.

For example, Laguna La Escondida in Reynosa, Mexico, a water source for
the surrounding community whose name means Hidden Lagoon, is also an
important migratory bird stopover point. Reynosa citizens concerned about
their environment are working to clean up the lagoon to protect their
families' health from the waste dumped into its waters. Neighboring Texas
citizens concerned about their environment are working to clean up the
lagoon to prevent habitat destruction for hundreds of migratory birds.
This binational effort is a terrific start, but it avoids confronting the
issue of poverty. For all their goodwill and concern, the Texans' narrow
focus on bird habitat prevents many of them from seeing the bigger problem
- human habitat.

Since the enactment of NAFTA in 1994, rapid industrialization along the
border has led to some of the fastest population growth in either country.
Almost 12 million people now live in Mexico and the United States along
the nearly 2,000-mile border, and by 2020 that number could reach 20
million. This is not "smart growth," but instead a ferocious growth to
support the movement of consumer goods.

NAFTA was supposed to bring economic prosperity to Mexico, but the poverty
and human suffering along the border tell a different story. Mexico's more
than 3,000 border maquiladoras - the mostly foreign-owned manufacturing
and assembly plants - send about 90 percent of their products to the
United States. The Spanish word "maquilar" means "to assemble," but it is
also slang for "to do someone else's work for them." This is what's really
going on; the maquiladora sector produced more than $100 billion in goods
last year, but the typical maquiladora worker earns between $1 and $3 per
hour, including benefits and bonuses. Special tariff-free zones along the
border mean that many maquiladoras pay low taxes, limiting the funds that
could improve quality of life.

Those who don't work in the maquiladoras live in their shadows. The
industrial growth has drawn more people and development to the region,
putting additional pressure on communities and the environment. Towns that
until recently were small agricultural settlements now produce toxic
chemicals for a worldwide market. Informal, donkey-drawn garbage carts
cannot keep up with the waste stream from booming border cities. The
natural environment suffers, indeed, but the most immediate suffering is

I recently visited a community near Matamoros, at the eastern end of the
border, where the streets and canals were filled with trash. Rather than a
classic litter campaign, the local activists explained that their biggest
concern was the roads. If the local authorities don't pave the road, they
told me, the garbage trucks cannot get in and pick up the waste. Even
burning the waste would be preferable to having to live with it in their
homes, they say. The activists lament the polluted canals and the litter,
but their focus is on the people. Without regular pickups, families live
with trash piling up in their houses, and their children get sick.

South of Tijuana, on the western end of the border, a small environmental
group advocates for more drains and sewers. Heavy seasonal rains flood the
valleys and bring sewage and trash tumbling down to the beaches. While a
goal of the local campaign may be to have cleaner beaches and unpolluted
water, the way to reach that goal is by talking about quality-of-life
issues like proper drainage from homes, regular trash pickup in outlying
areas, and safe drinking water - something that 12 percent of border
residents do not have. In the United States, these issues are all too
often considered a given, lumped into the category of "basic services."
But even in the U.S. there are people who suffer as we ignore their
poverty, having decided that it is not an environmental issue.

People are an important part of an ecosystem. If they are poor and
unhealthy, then the ecosystem is poor and unhealthy. Many Mexican
activists know this too well, but the closest thing the mainstream
environmental movement in the United States has to this integrated
people-and-poverty approach is the often neglected environmental-justice
movement. The EJ movement works for justice for people of color and
low-income communities that have been targeted by polluters. The EJ
movement is our salvation - but we must stop viewing it as extracurricular
to the business of conservation.

It's time to support the right to a clean and healthful environment for
all people. This means that residents in the border region should not
suffer disproportionately from environmental health problems because of
the color of their skin, the level of their income, or the side of the
international line on which they live. It also means that environmental
activists should not look past human poverty to save an endearing species,
but must look instead at the big picture.

The cries of intense poverty and injustice across the world are getting
louder. It is time for the environmental movement to listen, and to act.

Oliver Bernstein is a Sierra Club environmental-justice organizer along
the U.S.-Mexico Border.


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   rhymes with Jove          Progressive Calendar
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