Progressive Calendar 03.23.07
From: David Shove (
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2007 04:10:32 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    03.23.07

1. Emergency action     3.23 9am

2. Ross/Zapatistas      3.24 10am
3. Labor/peace/youth    3.24 10am
4. NWN4P vigils         3.24 11am
5. Afghan/schools/rugs  3.24 1pm
6. Stillwater vigil     3.24 1pm
7. Northtown vigil      3.24 2pm
8. Innocence/benefit    3.24 2pm
9. Peace & justice      3.24 2pm
10. Interfaith dialog   3.24 2pm
11. Labor unity         3.24 7pm

12. Iran war? forum     3.25 1pm
13. Socialism/democracy 3.25 3pm
14. MnSOAWatch/Romero   3.25 6:30pm
15. LRT/KFAI            3.25 9pm

16. Bill Moyers - A time for anger, a call to action

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Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 16:54:56 -0500
From: wamm <wamm [at]>
Subject: Emergency action 3.23 9am

9:00 AM       FRIDAY, MARCH 23
U.S. Fifth Congressional District: Keith Ellison's Office
2100 Plymouth Avenue North (corner of Penn Ave.)
in the Urban League Building Minneapolis, MN 55411


Come to Congressman Keith Ellison's office. Support him in keeping his
promise to vote against the $123 Billion Supplemental Funding Bill. Make
no mistake: this bill keeps the war going. Your participation is critical!

Called by the Occupation Project.
Marie Braun 612-522-1861, cell 612-275-2720 and Sarah Standefer 612-437-0222

--------2 of 16--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: Ross/Zapatistas 3.24 10am

Saturday, March 24th, 10:00 a.m., $4 ($3 for members)

A special Coffeehour and Book Signing, featuring journalist and activist
John Ross.  John's latest book is entitled, Zapatistas! Making Another
World Possible: Chronicles of Resistance 2000-2006, and his talk will be
on the Zapatistas, the "Other Campaign," and recent upheaval and
resistance throughout Mexico.  Zapatistas is available for purchase in
the Bookstore, and if you buy it in advance, you'll get free admission
to the Coffeehour!  Copies will also be available for purchase during
the Coffeehour and Signing.
From: "Raging Grannie (Wanda B)" <wsb70 [at]>

I recently sent a message from Democracy Unlimited regarding dealing with
corporations.  Well,Paul Cienfuegos is the guy who started the ball rolling
there and just sent this announcement

hi twin cities friends,

just a quick note to say that you should cancel any and all dates in your
calendar that you may have scheduled, in order to hear john ross speak.
he's an arcata, CA local, though he has spent most of his past few decades
living with or travelling with the zapatistas in southern mexico, and in
fact looks much more like a grizzled old toothless mexican man than a
first world californian.
his presentations are phenomenal. his many books are a treat to read.
--love you all, paul cienfuegos arcata, CA

--------3 of 16--------

From: Claire T Branigan <Branigan.Claire [at]>
Subject: Labor/peace/youth 3.24 10am

Witness for Peace Youth Summit for the Americas: Education on issues of
social justice between the United States and Latin America, featuring a
speaker panel and action plans on how youth can work towards change.
March 24th Cretin-Derham Hall High School WFPYouthSummit [at]

10:00 Registration
10:30 Morning Session: Speaker Panel &Discussion
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Afternoon Session: Workshops/Action Plans
4-6:00:  Coffee House and entertainment

Cretin-Derham Hall High School 550 South Albert St. St.Paul

ROMEO RAMIREZ, 24, a Guatemalan Mayan, began working in farmwork at the
age of 16, picking oranges, green peppers, and tomatoes. He has been
active for nine years in community organizing, and has been a staff member
of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers since he was 18 years old. Romeo
also participates on the CIW's anti-slavery project, doing the extremely
delicate job of a worker-investigator, most recently doing undercover work
as an orange picker in debt-bondage cases. In 2003, Romeo was awarded the
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, along with two other CIW members,
for their work fighting modern-day slavery. He is also profiled in Global
Uprising: Confronting the Tyrannies of the 21st Century: Stories from a
New Generation of Activists, a book which profiles young activists working
on environmental, labor, global justice, and other social justice

The CIW is a farmworker organization based in Southwest Florida that has
been recognized internationally for their work to end human rights
violations in the fields of Florida.  In 2005, the CIW announced an end to
the historic Taco Bell Boycott through an agreement with the fast food
company that directly improved sub-poverty wages and abusive working
conditions in Taco Bell's tomato supply chain. Since this agreement,
hundreds of religious, labor, student, and human rights organizations
around the country - including the National Council of Churches, the
American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations
(AFL-CIO), and Amnesty International - have called upon McDonald's to work
with the CIW to do the same.

Saturday, March 24, 10:30am-3:00pm, Cretin-Durham Hall High School 550
South Albert St., St. Paul). Youth Summit of the Americas developed in the
accordance with the need in the Twin Cities for a youth driven unification
of students to discuss issues currently facing Latin America. The cost of
half day is $5 and the full day is $10.  To register or receive more
information, contact: WFPeaceYouthSummit [at]

For more information, please contact Stephanie Bates at
sbates928 [at] or 612-624-8384 or Lisa Sass Zaragoza at
sassz001 [at] or 612-624-3834 Check out

Sponsors: University of Minnesota Chicano Studies Department, Human Rights
Program/Midwest Coalition for Human Rights, Global Studies Student
Association, and the Human Rights Center

Kimberly Walsh Human Rights Fellowship & Training Coordinator University
of Minnesota Human Rights Center phone: 612.626.2226 fax: 612.626.7592
email: hrfellow [at] Human Rights Library:

--------4 of 16--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: NWN4P vigils 3.24 11am

There are now two NWN4P weekly demonstrations as follows:

NWN4P-Plymouth demonstration- Every Saturday, 11 AM to noon, along
Vinewood, just north of 42nd Ave.  and one block east of 494 in
Plymouth. Drive toward the Rainbow and Target Greatland on Vinewood,
turn right by Bakers Square and right again into the parking lot near
the sidewalk.  Bring your own sign or use ours.
NWN4P-Minnetonka demonstration- Every Saturday, 11 AM to noon, at Hwy. 7
and 101.  Park in the Target Greatland lot; meet near the entrance
fountain. Bring your own signs or use ours.

--------4 of 16--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: NW N4P vigil 00.00 11am

The NW Neighbors for Peace weekly demonstrations every Saturday between
11am and noon along Vinewood, near Rockford Rd. (also known as 42nd Avenue
or Cty. Rd. 9) and just east of 494.  This is the entrance to Target,
Rainbow, and other stores.

--------5 of 16--------

From: Barbara Gerten <gerte001 [at]>
Subject: Afghan/schools/rugs 3.24 1pm

Benefit for Partnership for Education of Children in Afghanistan
(P.E.C.A.) which is "Building Peace One School at a Time".  The current
girls school under construction is in Khost province along the Pakistani

Tribal Rug Sale by Tory Ferrey
Saturday, March 24th, 2007
1:00-5:00 pm
White Bear Lake Armory
2228 4th Street
White Bear Lake MN  55110

There will be approximately 100 rugs to browse through, each with a unique
pattern.  These are not new rugs.  They are from the 1920-1960 era.  The
sizes vary from 2' x3' to 7' x 10'.  The sale prices range from $40 to

Tory Ferrey of Dellwood has collected and studied tribal rugs spanning the
Afghan/Iranian border and Middle East tribal areas such a Baluch, Lurs and
Turkoman.  Ms. Ferrey's wish is that this sale will benefit a nonprofit
organization.  She is excited about working with P.E.C.A. because of its
special mission to serve the educational needs of the children in

--------6 of 16--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 3.24 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace

Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2 p.m.  Come after Church
or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song and witness to the human
desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be positive.  Sponsored by
the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560

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From: Lennie <major18 [at]>
Subject: Northtown vigil 3.24 2pm

Mounds View peace vigil EVERY SATURDAY from 2-3pm at the at the southeast
corner of the intersection of Co. Hwy 10 and University Ave NE in Blaine,
which is the northwest most corner of the Northtown Mall area. This is a
MUCH better location.

We'll have extra signs.  Communities situated near the Northtown Mall
include: Blaine, Mounds View, New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden
Hills, Spring Lake Park, Fridley, and Coon Rapids.

For further information, email major18 [at] or call Lennie at

--------8 of 16--------

From: "Vongroven, Jennifer" <jvongroven [at]>
Subject: Innocence/benefit 3.24 2pm

Just to prove that we're not vampires, East of Innocence is actually
playing a gig during daylight hours on Saturday!

Saturday 3/24/2007 EOI will play at the Cloverleaf Bar & Grill in Newport
just off of Highway 61.  This is a very important show for us.  We will be
playing to benefit Erin Kinney- 14 years old and is suffering from
Juvenile Diabetes.  Insurance companies didn't think it was necessary to
cover all over her medical needs, so a bunch of wonderful people got
together and decided to help out the Kinney family.  We were honored when
they asked us to provide musical entertainment.

The Benefit runs from 2 - 7 PM on Saturday.  EOI will play from 4:30 - 7.
If you'd like to stay later, karaoke starts soon after we're done playing.
If you'd like to come sooner, you can join in on meat raffles and door
prizes! <>

--------9 of 16--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Peace & justice 3.24 2pm

Saturday, 3/24, 2 to 5 pm, U of St Thomas peace prof Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer
speaks on "Living a Life of Peace and Justice" (followed by workshops) at
Plymouth Center, 1900 Nicollet Ave (at Franklin), Mpls.  612-871-7400.

--------10 of 16--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Interfaith dialog 3.24 2pm

Alternate Saturdays, 1/13 to 6/9, 2 to 4 pm, interfaith dialogue
organization Northern Lights Society presents series Understanding Islam,
2469 University Ave, Suite 110 E. St Paul.  bilgin [at]  Series
includes topics: the necessity of interfaith dialogue on 3/24, farewell
sermon of prophet Muhammad on 4/14, terror and suicide attacks on 4/28,
other faiths according to Islam on 5/12, diversity in Islam on 5/26 and
Islamic art on 9/9.  RSVP to rsvp [at]

--------11 of 16--------

From:    "" <llwright [at]>
Subject: Labor unity 3.24 7pm

AFSCME/MAPE are co-sponsoring a Labor Unity Winter Event
Join us for a night out! Saturday, March 24, 2007 7:00 PM 11:00 PM
Rambone will be performing 70s and 80s cover songs!

United Auto Workers Hall 2191 Ford Parkway St. Paul, MN 55116 651-699-4246

--------12 of 16--------

From: wamm <wamm [at]>
Subject: Iran war? forum 3.25 1pm

[Attend to protest -ed]

Town Hall Forum with U.S. Senator Norm Coleman

Sunday, March 25, 1:00 p.m.  Sabes Jewish Community Center, 4330 South
Cedar Lake Road, St. Louis Park. Free and open to the public.

The title of this Town Meeting "The Iran Crisis: How should the United
States deal with Iran's Nuclear Ambitions and Hostility to the West?" is
designed to frighten people into believing that Iran is an imminent
nuclear threat to the West and sounds eerily similar to the build up to
the war on Iraq with propaganda based on the Project for a New American
Century, the neo-con plan to take over the Middle East and dominate oil
supplies and more. The Town Hall Meeting is co-sponsored by: American
Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC).

--------13 of 16--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Socialism & democracy  3.25 3pm

A special potluck and panel discussion hosted by IMPACT:
"Another World Is Necessary: Socialism And Democracy"
Sun., March 25th, 3pm

Mayday Bookstore (Below Midwest Mountaineering) On Cedar Ave, a block
north of Riverside Ave 301 Cedar Ave, Mpls

Michael Wood, Communist Party of Minnesota
Joan Malerich, Anti-imperialist Activist

What is Working Class Democracy?
Are Dictatorship and Democracy Compatible?
Are Capitalism and Democracy Compatible?
What is Socialist Democracy and How is it Being Implemented Today?

Michael and Joan lay out the theory and practical implications of
socialism today.  Discussion follows.  How can we use the information
presented to strengthen our movements for justice and democracy?

--------14 of 16--------

From: MnSOAWatch <MnSOAW [at]>
Subject: MnSOAWatch/Romero 3.25 6:30pm

Dear MnSOAWatch folks ~

On Sunday, March 25 at 6:30 pm,
Celebrate the life of Archbishop Oscar Romero
Faith Mennonite Church, 2720 E 22nd St, Minneapolis.
Celebration will include readings, music and a reflection given by
Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer.

Hosted by Pax Christi -Twin Cities and the Community of St Martin

A short essay on Archbishop Romero:

--------15 of 16--------

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at]>
Subject: LRT/KFAI 3.25 9pm

MARCH 25th, 9:00 -10:30PM: A 90-minute special simulcast of Truth to Tell
examining the issues around the Central Corridor light rail line
connecting Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

Participating/invited panelists: Mayors Chris Coleman and R.T. Rybak,
Ramsey County Commissioners Toni Carter and Rafael Ortega, Minneapolis
Councilmember Cam Gordon, University Vice President Kathleen O'Brien and
members of the Twin Cities communities affected by the construction and
operation of the next major light rail transit line to be built in the

NOW ONLINE:  Truth to Tell's editions on International Human
Trafficking, Minnesota Single-payer/Universal Health Care, and Instant
Runoff Voting are available for listening at
<>. Scroll down the Home Page to each program's links.

Andy Driscoll, Producer/Host Truth to Tell - co-host: Craig Cox KFAI
Radio, Minneapolis/St. Paul 651-293-9039 / Fax: (same, call ahead) / Cell:
651-492-2221 email: andy [at]

CivicMedia/Minnesota Creating Communications & Public Policy Content for
Public Engagement 835 Linwood Ave. St. Paul, MN 55105

[ed rejects putting LRT down the middle of our best 4-lane roads, eg
University Av. Other places might work.]

--------16 of 16--------

A Time For Anger, A Call To Action
by Bill Moyers
Published on Thursday, March 22, 2007 by

The following is a transcript of a speech given on February 7, 2007 at
Occidental College in Los Angeles.

I am grateful to you for this opportunity and to President Prager for the
hospitality of this evening, to Diana Akiyama, Director of the Office for
Religious and Spiritual Life, whose idea it was to invite me and with whom
you can have an accounting after I've left. And to the Lilly Endowment for
funding the Values and Vocations project to encourage students at
Occidental to explore how their beliefs and values shape their choices in
life, how to make choices for meaningful work and how to make a
contribution to the common good. It's a recognition of a unique venture:
to demonstrate that the life of the mind and the longing of the spirit are
mirror images of the human organism. I'm grateful to be here under their

I have come across the continent to talk to you about two subjects close
to my heart. I care about them as a journalist, a citizen and a
grandfather who looks at the pictures next to my computer of my five young
grandchildren who do not have a vote, a lobbyist in Washington, or the
means to contribute to a presidential candidate. If I don't act in their
behalf, who will?

One of my obsessions is democracy, and there is no campus in the country
more attuned than Occidental to what it will take to save democracy.
Because of your record of activism for social justice, I know we agree
that democracy is more than what we were taught in high school civics -
more than the two-party system, the checks-and-balances, the debate over
whether the Electoral College is a good idea. Those are important matters
that warrant our attention, but democracy involves something more
fundamental. I want to talk about what democracy bestows on us - the
revolutionary idea that democracy is not just about the means of
governance but the means of dignifying people so they become fully free to
claim their moral and political agency. "I believe in democracy because it
releases the energies of every human being" - those are the words of our
28th president, Woodrow Wilson.

I've been spending time with Woodrow Wilson and others of his era because
my colleagues and I are producing a documentary series on the momentous
struggles that gripped America a century or so years ago at the birth of
modern politics. Woodrow Wilson clearly understood the nature of power. In
his now-forgotten political testament called The New Freedom, Wilson
described his reformism in plain English no one could fail to understand:
"The laws of this country do not prevent the strong from crushing the
week." He wrote: "Don't deceive yourselves for a moment as to the power of
great interests which now dominate our development... There are men in
this country big enough to own the government of the United States. They
are going to own it if they can." And he warned: "There is no salvation in
the pitiful condescensions of industrial masters... prosperity guaranteed
by trustees has no prospect of endurance."

Now Wilson took his stand at the center of power - the presidency itself -
and from his stand came progressive income taxation, the federal estate
tax, tariff reform, the challenge to great monopolies and trusts, and,
most important, a resolute spirit "to deal with the new and subtle
tyrannies according to their deserts."

How we need that spirit today! When Woodrow Wilson spoke of democracy
releasing the energies of every human being, he was declaring that we
cannot leave our destiny to politicians, elites, and experts; either we
take democracy into our own hands, or others will take democracy from us.

We do not have much time. Our political system is melting down, right here
where you live.

A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that only
20% of voters last November believe your state will be a better place to
live in the year 2025; 51% say it will be worse. Another poll by the New
American Foundation - summed up in an article by Steven Hill in the
January 28th San Francisco Chronicle - found that for the first time in
modern California history, a majority of adults are not registered with
either of the two major parties. Furthermore, writes Hill, "There is a
widening breach between most of the 39 million people residing in
California and the fewer than 9 million who actually vote." Here we are
getting to the heart of the crisis today - the great divide that has
opened in American life.

According to that New American Foundation study, frequent voters [in
California] tend to be 45 and older, have household incomes of $60,000 or
more, are homeowners, and have college degrees. In contrast, the 12
million nonvoters (7 million of whom are eligible to vote but are not
registered) tend to be younger than 45, rent instead of own, have not been
to College, and have incomes less than $60,000.

In other words, "Considering that California often has one of the lowest
voter participation rates in the nation - in some elections only a little
more that 1/3 of eligible voters participate - a small group of frequent
voters, who are richer, whiter, and older than their nonvoting neighbors,
form the majority that decides which candidates win and which ballot
measures pass." The author of that report (Mark Baldassare) concludes:
"Only about 15% of adult people make the decisions and that 15% doesn't
look much life California overall."

We should not be surprised by the consequences: "Two Californias have
emerged. One that votes and one that does not. Both sides inhabit the same
state and must share the same resources, but only one side is electing the
political leaders who divide up the pie."

You've got a big problem here. But don't feel alone. Across the country
our 18th century political system is failing to deal with basic realities.
Despite Thomas Jefferson's counsel that we would need a revolution every
25 years to enable our governance to serve new generations, our structure
- practically deified for 225 years - has essentially stayed the same
while science and technology have raced ahead. A young writer I know,
named Jan Frel, one of the most thoughtful practitioners of the emerging
world of Web journalism, wrote me the other day to say: "We've gone way
past ourselves. I see the unfathomable numbers in the national debt and
deficit, and the way that the Federal government was physically unable to
respond to Hurricane Katrina. I look at Iraq; where 50% of the question is
how to get out, and the other 50% is how did so few people have the power
to start the invasion in the first place. If the Republic were
functioning, they would have never had that power."

Yet the inertia of the political process seems virtually unstoppable. Frel
reminds me that the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee can shepherd a
$2.8 trillion dollar budget through the Senate and then admit: "It's hard
to understand what a trillion is. I don't know what it is." Is it fair to
expect anyone to understand what a trillion is, my young friend asks, or
how to behave with it in any democratic fashion?" He goes on: "But the
political system and culture are forcing 535 members of Congress and a
President who are often thousands of miles away from their 300 million
constituents to do so. It is frightening to watch the American media
culture from progressive to hard right being totally sold on the idea of
one President for 300 million people, as though the Presidency is still
fit to human scale. I'm at a point where the idea of a political savior in
the guise of a Presidential candidate or congressional majority sounds
downright scary, and at the same time, with very few exceptions, the
writers and journalists across the slate are completely sold on it."

Our political system is promiscuous as well as primitive. The first modern
fundraiser in American politics - Mark Hanna, who shook down the
corporations to make William McKinley President of the United States in
1896 - once said there are two important things in politics. "One is
money, and I can't remember the other one." Because our system feeds on
campaign contributions, the powerful and the privileged shape it to their
will. Only 12% of American households had incomes over $100,000 in 2000,
but they made up 95% of the substantial donors to campaigns and have been
the big winners in Washington ever since.

I saw early on the consequences of political and social inequality. I got
my first job in journalism at the age of 16. I quickly had one of those
strokes of luck that can determine a career. Some of the old timers were
on vacation or out sick and I was assigned to cover what came to be known
as the 'Housewives Rebellion.' Fifteen women in my home town decided not
to pay the social security withholding tax for their domestic workers.
They argued that social security was unconstitutional, that imposing it
was taxation without representation, and that - here's my favorite part -
"requiring us to collect (the tax) is no different from requiring us to
collect the garbage."

They hired themselves a lawyer - none other than Martin Dies, the former
Congressman best known, or worst known, for his work as head of the House
Committee on Un-American Activities in the 30s and 40s. He was no more
effective at defending rebellious women than he had been protecting
against Communist subversives, and eventually the women wound up holding
their noses and paying the tax. The stories I wrote for my local paper
were picked up and moved on by the Associated Press wire to Newspapers all
over the country. One day, the managing editor called me over and pointed
to the AP ticker beside his desk. Moving across the wire was a notice
citing one "Bill Moyers" and the News Messenger for the reporting we had
done on the rebellion.

That hooked me. In one way or another - after a detour through seminary
and then into politics and government for a spell - I've been covering
politics ever since.

By "politics" I mean when people get together to influence government,
change their own lives, and change society. Sometimes those people are
powerful corporate lobby groups like the drug companies and the oil
industry, and sometimes they are ordinary people fighting to protect their
communities from toxic chemicals, workers fighting for a living wage, or
college students organizing to put an end to sweatshops.

Those women in Marshall, Texas - who didn't want to pay Social Security
taxes for their maids - were not bad people. They were regulars at church,
their children were my friends, many of them were active in community
affairs, and their husbands were pillars of the business and professional
class in town. They were respectable and upstanding citizens all.

So it took me awhile to figure out what had brought on that spasm of
reactionary rebellion. It came to me one day, much later. They simply
couldn't see beyond their own prerogatives. Fiercely loyal to their
families, to their clubs, charities, and congregations - fiercely loyal,
in other words, to their own kind - they narrowly defined membership in
democracy to include only people like them. The women who washed and
ironed their laundry, wiped their children's bottoms, made their husbands'
beds, and cooked their families meals - these women, too, would grow old
and frail, sick and decrepit, lose their husbands and face the ravages of
time alone, with nothing to show from their years of labor but the creases
in their brow and the knots on their knuckles.

In one way or another, this is the oldest story in America: the struggle
to determine whether "We, the People" is a spiritual idea embedded in a
political reality - one nation, indivisible - or merely a charade
masquerading as piety and manipulated by the powerful and privileged to
sustain their own way of life at the expense of others.

We seem to be holding our breath today, trying to decide what kind of
country we want to be. But in this state of suspension, powerful interests
are making off with the booty. They remind me of the card shark in Texas
who said to his competitor in the poker game: "Now play the cards fairly
Reuben. I know what I dealt you."

For years now a small fraction of American households have been garnering
a larger and larger concentration of wealth and income, while large
corporations and financial institutions have obtained unprecedented power
over who wins and who loses. Inequality in America is greater than it's
been in 50 years. In 1960 the gap in terms of wealth between the top 20%
and the bottom 20% was 30 fold. Today it's more than 75 fold.

Such concentrations of wealth would be far less of an issue if the rest of
society were benefiting proportionally. But that is not the case.
Throughout our industrial history incomes grew at 30% to 50% or more every
quarter century, and in the quarter century after WWII, gains reached more
than 100% for all income categories. Since the late 1970s, only the top 1%
of households increased their income by 100%.

Once upon a time, according to Isabel Sawhill and Sara McLanahan in The
Future of Children, the American ideal of classless society was 'one in
which all children have roughly equal chance of success regardless of the
economic status of the family into which they were born. That's changing
fast. The Economist Jeffrey Madrick writes that just a couple of decades
ago, only 20% of one's future income was determined by the income of one's
father. New research suggests that today 60% of a son's income is
determined by the level of his father's income. In other words, children
no longer have a roughly equal chance of success regardless of the
economic status of the family into which they are born. Their chances of
success are greatly improved if they are born on third base and their
father has been tipping the umpire.

As all of you know, a college education today is practically a necessity
if you are to hold your own, much less climb the next rung. More than 40%
of all new jobs now require a college degree. There are real world
consequences to this, and Madrick drives them home. Since the 1970s,
median wages of men with college degrees have risen about 14%. But median
wages for high school graduates have fallen about 15%. Not surprisingly,
nearly 24% of American workers with only a high school diploma have no
health insurance, compared with less than 10% of those with college

Such statistics can bring glaze to the eyes, but Oscar Wilde once said
that it is the mark of truly educated people to be deeply moved by
statistics. All of you are educated, and I know you can envision the
stress these economic realities are putting on working people and on
family life. As incomes have stagnated, higher education, health care,
public transportation, drugs, housing and cars have risen faster in price
than typical family incomes, so that life, says Jeffrey Madrick, "has
grown neither calm nor secure for most Americans, by any means."

Let me tell you about the Stanleys and the Neumanns, two families who live
in Milwaukee. One is black, the other white. The breadwinners in both were
laid off in the first wave of downsizing in 1991 as corporations began
moving jobs out of the city and then out of the country. In a documentary
series my colleagues and I chronicled their efforts over the next decade
to cope with the wrenching changes in their lives and to find a place for
themselves in the new global economy. They're the kind of Americans my
mother would have called "the salt of the earth". They love their kids,
care about their communities, go to church every Sunday, and work hard all

To make ends meet after the layoffs, both mothers took full-time jobs.
Both fathers became seriously ill. When one father had to stay in the
hospital two months the family went $30,000 in debt because they didn't
have adequate health care. We were there with our cameras when the bank
started to foreclose on the modest home of one family that couldn't make
mortgage payments. Like millions of Americans, the Stanleys and the
Neumanns were playing by the rules and still getting stiffed. By the end
of the decade they were running harder but slipping further behind, and
the gap between them and prosperous America was widening.

What turns their personal tragedy into a political travesty is that while
they are indeed patriotic, they no longer believe they matter to the
people who run the country. They simply do not think their concerns will
ever be addressed by the political, corporate, and media elites who make
up our dominant class. They are not cynical, because they are deeply
religious people with no capacity for cynicism, but they know the system
is rigged against them.

"Things have reached such a state of affairs," the journalist George
Orwell once wrote, "that the first duty of every intelligent person is to
pay attention to the obvious." The editors of The Economist have done just
that. The pro-business magazine considered by many to be the most
influential defender of capitalism on the newsstand, produced a sobering
analysis of what is happening to the old notion that any American child
can get to the top. A growing body of evidence - some of it I have already
cited - led the editors to conclude that with "income inequality growing
to levels not seen since the Gilded Age and social mobility falling
behind, the United States risks calcifying into a European-style
class-based society." The editors point to an "education system
increasingly stratified by social class" in which poor children "attend
schools with fewer resources than those of their richer contemporaries"
and great universities that are "increasingly reinforcing rather than
reducing these educational inequalities." They conclude that America's
great companies have made it harder than ever "for people to start at the
bottom and rise up the company hierarchies by dint of hard work and

It is eerie to read assessments like that and then read the anthropologist
Jared Diamond's book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Succeed or Fail He
describes an America society in which elites cocoon themselves "in gated
communities, guarded by private security guards, and filled with people
who drink bottled water, depend on private pensions, and send their
children to private schools." Gradually, they lose the motivation "to
support the police force, the municipal water supply, Social Security, and
public schools." Any society contains a built-in blueprint for failure,
warns Jared Diamond, if elites insulate themselves from the consequences
of their own actions.

So it is that in a study of its own, The American Political Science
Association found that "increasing inequalities threaten the American
ideal of equal citizenship and that progress toward real democracy may
have stalled in this country and even reversed."

This is a marked turn of events for a country whose mythology embraces
"life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" as part of our creed.
America was not supposed to be a country of "winner take all." Through our
system of checks and balances we were going to maintain a healthy
equilibrium in how power works - and for whom. Because equitable access to
public resources is the lifeblood of any democracy, we made primary
schooling free to all. Because everyone deserves a second chance, debtors,
especially the relatively poor, were protected by state laws against their
rich creditors. Government encouraged Americans to own their own piece of
land, and even supported squatters' rights. In my time, the hope of equal
opportunity became reality for millions of us. Although my parents were
knocked down and almost out by the Great Depression, and were poor all
their lives, my brother and I went to good public schools. The GI Bill
made it possible for him to go to college. When I bought my first car with
a loan of $450 I drove to a public school on a public highway and stopped
to rest in a public park. America as a shared project was becoming the
engine of our national experience.

Not now. Beginning a quarter of a century ago a movement of corporate,
political, and religious fundamentalists gained ascendancy over politics
and made inequality their goal. They launched a crusade to dismantle the
political institutions, the legal and statutory canons, and the
intellectual and cultural frameworks that have held private power. And
they had the money to back up their ambition.

Let me read you something:

When powerful interests shower Washington with millions in campaign
contributions, they often get what they want. But it is ordinary citizens
and firms that pay the price and most of them never see it coming. This is
what happens if you don't contribute to their campaigns or spend
generously on lobbying. You pick up a disproportionate share of America's
tax bill. You pay higher prices for a broad range of products from peanuts
to prescriptions. You pay taxes that others in a similar situation have
been excused from paying. You're compelled to abide by laws while others
are granted immunity from them. You must pay debts that you incur while
others do not. You're barred from writing off on your tax returns some of
the money spent on necessities while others deduct the cost of their
entertainment. You must run your business by one set of rules, while the
government creates another set for your competitors. In contrast, the
fortunate few who contribute to the right politicians and hire the right
lobbyists enjoy all the benefits of their special status. Make a bad
business deal; the government bails them out. If they want to hire workers
at below market wages, the government provides the means to do so. If they
want more time to pay their debts, the government gives them an extension.
If they want immunity from certain laws, the government gives it. If they
want to ignore rules their competition must comply with, the government
gives its approval. If they want to kill legislation that is intended for
the public, it gets killed.

I'm not quoting from Karl Marx's Das Kapital or Mao's Little Red Book. I'm
quoting Time Magazine. From the heart of America's media establishment
comes the judgment that America now has "government for the few at the
expense of the many."

We are talking about nothing less that a class war declared a generation
ago, in a powerful polemic by the wealthy right-winger, William Simon, who
had been Richard Nixon's Secretary of the Treasury. In it he declared that
"funds generated by business... must rush by the multimillions" to
conservative causes. The trumpet was sounded for the financial and
business class to take back the power and privileges they had lost as a
result of the Great Depression and the New Deal. They got the message and
were soon waging a well-orchestrated, lavishly-financed movement. Business
Week put it bluntly: "Some people will obviously have to do with less...
.It will be a bitter pill for many Americans to swallow the idea of doing
with less so that big business can have more." The long-range strategy was
to cut workforces and their wages, scour the globe in search of cheap
labor, trash the social contract and the safety net that was supposed to
protect people from hardships beyond their control, deny ordinary citizens
the power to sue rich corporations for malfeasance and malpractice, and
eliminate the ability of government to restrain what editorialists for the
Wall Street Journal admiringly call "the animal spirits of business."

Looking backwards, it all seems so clear that we wonder how we could have
ignored the warning signs at the time. What has been happening to working
people is not the result of Adam Smith's invisible hand but the direct
consequence of corporate activism, intellectual propaganda, the rise of a
religious literalism opposed to any civil and human right that threaten
its paternalism, and a string of political decisions favoring the
interests of wealthy elites who bought the political system right out from
under us.

To create the intellectual framework for this revolution in public policy,
they funded conservative think tanks that churned out study after study
advocating their agenda.

To put muscle behind these ideas, they created a formidable political
machine. One of the few journalists to cover the issues of class, Thomas
Edsall of the Washington Post, reported that "During the 1970s, business
refined its ability to act as a class, submerging competitive instincts in
favor of joint, cooperate action in the legislative area." Big business
political action committees flooded the political arena with a deluge of
dollars. And they built alliances with the religious right - Jerry
Falwell's Moral Majority and Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition - who
gleefully contrived a cultural holy war that became a smokescreen behind
which the economic assault on the middle and working classes would occur.

>From land, water, and other resources, to media and the broadcast and
digital spectrums, to scientific discovery and medial breakthroughs, a
broad range of America's public resources have been undergoing a powerful
shift toward elite control, contributing substantially to those economic
pressures on ordinary Americans that "deeply affect household stability,
family dynamics, social mobility, political participation and civic life."
What's to be done?

The only answer to organized money is organized people.


The only answer to organized money is organized people.

And again:

The only answer to organized money is organized people.

I came to Occidental because your campus has a reputation for believing in
a political system where ordinary people have a voice in making the
decisions that shape their lives, not just at the ballot box every two or
four years in November, but in their workplaces, their neighborhoods and
communities, and on their college campuses. In a real democracy, ordinary
people at every level hold their elected officials accountable for the big
decisions, about whether or not to go to war and put young men and women
in harm's way, about the pollution of the environment, global warming, and
the health and safety of our workplaces, our communities, our food and our
air and our water, the quality of our public schools, and the distribution
of economic resources. It's the spirit of fighting back throughout
American history that brought an end to sweatshops, won the eight-hour
working day and a minimum wage, delivered suffrage to women and blacks
from slavery, inspired the Gay Rights movement, the consumer and
environmental movements, and more recently stopped Congress from enacting
repressive legislation against immigrants.

I believe a new wave of social reform is about to break across America. We
see it in the struggle for a 'living wage' for America's working people.
Last November, voters in six states approved ballot measures to raise
their states' minimum wage above the federal level; 28 states now have
such laws. Since 1994, more than 100 cities have passed local living wage
laws that require employers who do business with the government - who get
taxpayer subsidies, in other words - to pay workers enough to lift their
families out of poverty.

Los Angeles has led the way, passing one of the nation's strongest 'living
wage' laws in 1997. And just the other day the LA City Council voted to
extend that "living wage" law to the thirty-five hundred hotel workers
around the Los Angeles Airport - the first living wage law in the country
to target a specific industry and a specific geographic area. But it took
last fall's march down Century Boulevard - organized people! - to finally
bring it about and it took the arrest of hundreds of college students,
including several dozen from Occidental.

The great abolitionist Frederick Douglass said that "if there is no
struggle, there is no progress." Those who profess freedom, yet fail to
act - they are "men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They
want rain without thunder and lightning, they want the ocean without the
awful roar of its many waters... power concedes nothing without a demand.
It never did and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to,
and you have found the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be
imposed upon them."

What America needs is a broad bi-partisan movement for democracy. It's
happened before: In 1800, with the Jeffersonian Democrats; in 1860, with
Radical Republicans; in 1892, with the Populists; in 1912, with Bull Moose
Progressives; in 1932, with the New Deal; in l964, with Civil Rights
activists - each moment a breaking point after long, hard struggles, each
with small beginnings in transcendent faith.

Faith! That's the other subject close to my heart that I have come talk
about. Almost every great social movement in America has contained a flame
of faith at its core - the belief that all human beings bear traces of the
divine spark, however defined. I myself believe that within the religious
quest - in the deeper realm of spirituality that may well be the primal
origin of all religion - lies what Gregg Easterbrook calls "an essential
aspect of the human prospect." It is here we wrestle with questions of
life and purpose, with the meaning of loss, yearning and hope, above all
of love.

I am grateful to have first been exposed to those qualities in my own
Christian tradition. T.S. Eliot believed that "no man [or woman] has ever
climbed to the higher stages of the spiritual life who has not been a
believer in a particular religion, or at least a particular philosophy."
As we dig deeper into our own religion, we are likely to break through to
someone else digging deeper toward us from their own tradition, and on
some metaphysical level, we converge, like the images inside a
kaleidoscope, into new patterns of meaning that illuminate our own

For most of our history this country's religious discourse was dominated
by white male Protestants of a culturally conservative European heritage -
people like me. Dissenting voices of America, alternative visions of
faith, or race, of women, rarely reached the mainstream. The cartoonist
Jeff McNally summed it up with two weirdoes talking in a California diner.
One weirdo says to the other. "Have you ever delved into the mysteries of
Eastern Religion?" And the second weirdo answers: "Yes, I was once a
Methodist in Philadelphia." Once upon a time that was about the extent of
our exposure to the varieties of Religious experience. No longer. Our
nation is being re-created right before our eyes, with mosques and Hindu
Temples, Sikh communities and Buddhist retreat centers. And we all have so
much to teach each other. Buddhists can teach us about the delight of
contemplation and 'the infinite within.' From Muslims we can learn about
the nature of surrender; from Jews, the power of the prophetic conscience;
from Hindus, the "realms of gold" hidden in the depths of our hearts,"
from Confucians the empathy necessary to sustain the fragile web of
civilization. Nothing I take from these traditions has come at the expense
of the Christian story. I respect that story - my story - even more for
having come to see that all the great religious grapple with things that
matter, although each may come out at a different place; that each arises
from within and experiences a lived human experience; and each and every
one of them offers a unique insight into human nature. I reject the notion
that faith is acquired in the same way one chooses a meal in a cafeteria,
but I confess there is something liberating about no longer being quite so
deaf to what others have to report from their experience.

So let me share with you what I treasure most about the faith that has
informed my journey. You will find it in the New Testament, in the gospel
of Matthew, where the story of Jesus of Nazareth unfolds chapter by
chapter: The birth at Bethlehem. The baptism in the River Jordan. The
temptation in the wilderness. The Sermon on the Mount. The healing of the
sick and the feeding of the hungry. The Parables. The calling of the
Disciples. The journey to Jerusalem. And always, embedded like pearls
throughout the story, the teachings of compassion, forgiveness, and

Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate
you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.

Whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him also... and
whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.

If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother
has something against you, leave your gift before the altar, and go your
way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer our

Judge not, lest ye be judged.

In these pages we are in the presence of one who clearly understands the
power of love, mercy, and kindness - the 'gentle Jesus' so familiar in
art, song, and Sunday School.

But then the tale turns. Jesus' demeanor changes; the tone and temper of
the narrative shift, and the Prince of Peace becomes a disturber of the

Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought
and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers...
and he said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of
prayer but you have made it a den of thieves.'"

His message grew more threatening, amid growing crowds right on the Temple
grounds. In his parable of the wicked tenants, he predicted the imminent
destruction of the Jerusalem elites, setting in motion the events that led
to his crucifixion a short time later.

No cheek turned there. No second mile traveled. On the contrary, Jesus
grows angry. He passes judgment. His message becomes more threatening. And
he takes action.

Over the past few years as we witnessed the growing concentration of
wealth and privilege in our country, prophetic religion lost its voice,
drowned out by the corporate, political, and religious right who hijacked

That's right: They hijacked Jesus. The very Jesus who stood in Nazareth
and proclaimed, "The Lord has anointed me to preach the good news to the
poor" - this Jesus, hijacked by a philosophy of greed. The very Jesus who
fed 5000 hungry people - and not just those in the skyboxes; the very
Jesus who offered kindness to the prostitute and hospitality to the
outcast; who raised the status of women and treated even the hated tax
collector as a citizen of the Kingdom. The indignant Jesus who drove the
money changers from the temple - this Jesus was hijacked and turned from a
friend of the dispossessed into a guardian of privilege, the ally of oil
barons, banking tycoons, media moguls and weapons builders.

Yet it was this same Jesus who inspired a Methodist ship-caulker named
Edward Rogers to crusade across New England for an eight hour work day;
called Frances William to rise up against the sweatshop; sent Dorothy Day
to march alongside striking auto workers in Michigan, fishermen and
textile workers in Massachusetts, brewery workers in New York, and marble
cutters in Vermont; who roused E.B. McKinney and Owen Whitfield to stand
against a Mississippi oligarchy that held sharecroppers in servitude,
challenged a young priest named John Ryan to champion child labor laws a
decade before the New Deal, and summoned Martin Luther King to Memphis to
join sanitation workers in their struggle for a decent wage.

This Jesus was there on Century Boulevard last September, speaking
Spanish. And it is this resurrected Jesus, in the company of the morally
indignant of every faith, who will be there wherever Americans are angry
enough to rise up and drive the money changers from the temples of

To you students at Occidental, let me say: I have been a journalist too
long to look at the world through rose-colored glasses. I believe the only
way to be in the world is to see it as it really is and then to take it on
despite the frightening things you see. The Italian philosopher Gramschi
spoke of the "the pessimism of the intellect and the optimism of the
will." With this philosophy your generation can bring about the Third
American Revolution. The first won independence from the Crown. The second
won equal rights for women and for the sons and daughters of slavery. This
third - the revolution of the 21st Century - will bring about a democracy
that leaves no one out. The simple truth is we cannot build a political
society or a nation across the vast divides that mark our country today.
We must bridge that divide and make society whole, sharing the fruits of
freedom and prosperity with the least among us. I have crossed the
continent to tell you the Dream is not done, the work is not over, and
your time has come to take it on.


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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