Progressive Calendar 02.23.08
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2008 06:44:02 -0800 (PST)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    02.23.08

1. WAMM meet-up      2.23 10am
2. Secular coalition 2.23 10am
3. NWN4P Mtonka      2.23 11am
4. NewHope vigil     2.23 1pm
5. Northtown vigil   2.23 2pm
6. Sustainable homes 2.23 2pm
7. GP BookClub       2.23 7pm
8. Venezuela/CTV     2.23 9pm

9. Nader/MeetPress   2.24 9am
10. SinglePayerAM950 2.24 3pm
11. KFAI Indian      2.24 7pm
12. Fouzi Slisli     2.24 10:30pm

13. Helen Redmond  - Health care as a human right
14. Isaiah J Poole - The Mad, Mad Middle Class
15. ed             - Heaven: privatized!  (poem)

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

From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: WAMM meet-up 2.23 10am

New Member Meet-Up

Saturday, February 23, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. Black Dog Cafe, 308 Prince
Street, St. Paul. Are you new to Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) or
looking to be a more active member? Join us at one of our informal New
Member Meet-Ups. With a variety of Twin Cities locations and meeting
times, we hope you'll find a Meet-Up that fits your schedule! Learn more
about WAMM and how you can become an active member. Hear from an
experienced WAMM member. Visit with like-minded people. Receive a special
welcome packet with free button, bumper sticker and more. Help keep WAMM
moving forward. All WAMM members are invited to attend. RSVPs encouraged
but not required. FFI and RSVP: Call Ann Galloway, 612-790-8598 or WAMM,
612- 827-5364 or email <gannieca [at] yahoo.com>.


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

From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: Secular coalition 2.23 10am

Lori Lipman Brown, Director,
Secular Coalition for America
*Minnesota Visit - February 2008*

Sat., Feb. 23, 10 a.m. - Lake Nokomis Recreation Center, 2401 E.
Minnehaha Parkway, Minneapolis, MN 55417.  Sponsored by the Humanists of
Minnesota (humanistsofmn.org)

Sat., Feb. 23, 3 p.m. ­ Rochester Public Library, 101 2nd St. S.E.,
Rochester, MN 55904.  Sponsored by Rochester Area Freethinkers (RAFT).

Sun., Feb. 24, 9-10 a.m. - Minnesota Atheists' "Atheists Talk" radio
program, KTNF AM 950 (Minneapolis/St. Paul).  Stream live at
AirAmericaMinnesota.com/listen.  (MinnesotaAtheists.org)

Lori Lipman Brown, director of the Secular Coalition for America
(secular.org), will discuss how the nation's first lobbyist for
nontheists has been received by members of Congress, theistic allies, and
the press.  She will also update us on the latest church/state challenges
and how we can take action to protect our secular government.

Lori will be interviewed twice on "Atheists Talk" radio in the Twin
Cities while she is here.  The interviews will take place live in-studio
on Sundays, February 17 and 24, 9-10 a.m., AM 950 KTNF (or stream live
at AirAmericaMinnesota.com/listen).


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

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net>
Subject: NWN4P Mtonka 2.23 11am

NWN4P-Minnetonka demonstration- Every Saturday, 11 AM to noon, at Hwy. 7
and 101.  Park in the Target Greatland lot; meet near the
fountain. We will walk along the public sidewalk. Signs available.


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

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net>
Subject: NewHope vigil 2.23 1pm

Saturday, 1-2PM - Weekly NWN4P vigil for peace in New Hope at the corner
of 42nd (Co. Rd. 9) and Winnetka Ave. N.  We usually park in the
Walgreen's lot or near McDonald's. You may  use one of our signs or
bring your own. All welcome. Carole-763-546-5368.


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

From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 2.23 2pm

peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av) every Saturday 2-3pm


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

From: Do It Green! Minnesota <Do_It_Green_Minnesota [at] mail.vresp.com>
Subject: Sustainable homes 2.23 2pm

February - Sustainable Homes Workshops
Sustainable Home Expert Panel
Sat, Feb 23th  2-4pm
Do It Green! Resource Center located inside Twin Cities Green at 2405
Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis


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

From: Amber Garlan <agarlan [at] hammclinic.org>
Subject: GP BookClub 2.23 7pm

Hi Green Party Book Club!

Our next meeting will be next Saturday, 2/23/08 at 7:00 pm.  We will meet
in the community room between 161 and 163 Erie Street, in St. Paul.  The
community room does not have a number, but it is between those two
townhouses.  We will meet in the same place as we met the last two months.

We will be discussing "The Great Turning" by David Korten.  We will take
two months to discuss this book, February and March.  We will talk about
the first half of the book on Saturday 2/23/08 at 7:00.

I love this book and can't wait to talk about it!


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

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net>
Subject: Venezuela/CTV 2.23 9pm

Truth-seeking Minneapolis Television Network (MTN 17) viewers:
"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on MTN Channel 17 on Saturdays at 9pm and
Tuesdays at 8am, after DemocracyNow!.  Households with basic cable may
watch.

Sat, 2/23, 9pm and Tues, 2/26, 8am "Revolution in the US? A View from
Venezuela"  Interview of August Nimtz, U of M professor recently returned
from Venezuela.  Hosted by Karen Redleaf.


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

From: PRO826 [at] aol.com
Subject: Nader/MeetPress 2.24 9am KARE-TV

Ralph Nader will be on NBC's Meet the Press with Tim Russert this Sunday,
February 24, 2008.

As you know, we've been exploring the possibilities in recent weeks. And
here's one question that keeps coming up: What's been pulled off the table
by the corporatized political machines in this momentous election year?

Answer:

Cutting the huge, bloated and wasteful military budget, adopting a single
payer Canadian-style national health insurance system, impeaching
Bush/Cheney, opposing nuclear power - among many others.

Who will pick up these issues and put them back on the table?
Hope you get a chance to tune in to watch Ralph Nader this Sunday on Meet
the Press.

---
Nader to appear on Meet the Press to discuss possible White House bid
By SAM HANANEL , Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Ralph Nader could be poised for another third party
presidential campaign.

The consumer advocate will appear on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday to
announce whether he will launch another White House bid. Nader kicked off
his 2004 presidential run on the show.

A spokesman for Nader did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Kevin Zeese, who was Nader's spokesman during the 2004 presidential race,
but is no longer working for him, said Friday that Nader has been actively
talking to "lots of people on all sorts of levels" about the possibility
of making another run.

Zeese said he could only guess what Nader might do, but added: "Obviously,
I don't think ("Meet the Press" host) Tim Russert would have him on for no
reason."

Peter Camejo, Nader's running mate in 2004, said he won't reveal Nader's
plans because he doesn't want to upstage the announcement. But he said
Nader's overall philosophy on elections has not changed.

"You've got to keep running to raise the issues that are never discussed,"
Camejo said. "There's a whole series of issues that only a Ralph Nader
would raise."

Last month, Nader began an exploratory presidential campaign and launched
a Web site that promises to fight "corporate greed, corporate power,
corporate control."

Nader's appearance on "Meet the Press" was announced Friday in an e-mail
message from Nader's exploratory campaign. The message from "The Nader
Team" urges supporters to tell friends and family to watch the show and
requests online contributions.

Nader is still loathed by many Democrats who call him a spoiler and claim
his candidacy in 2000 cost Democrats the election by siphoning votes away
from Al Gore in a razor-thin contest in Florida. Nader has vociferously
disputed the spoiler claim, saying only Democrats are to blame for losing
the race to George W. Bush.

Though he won 2.7 percent of the national vote as the Green Party
candidate in 2000, Nader won just 0.3 percent as an independent in 2004,
when he appeared on the ballot in only 34 states.


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

From: Don Pylkkanen <don [at] coact.org>
Subject: SinglePayerAM950 2.24 3pm

Universal health insurance issues on Sunday's Air America series

Following last Monday's 8 to 3 vote for the Minnesota Health Act for
single-payer in the Senate Health Committee, Kip Sullivan will describe
the exciting hearing and victory this Sunday on Air America.  He will be
joined by Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, MD, co-founder of Physicians for a
National Health Program, who will explain the national single-payer bill.
People on your listserve may be interested in tuning in to the
"single-payer Sunday" announced below.

Two highly recognized advocates for universal health insurance will discuss
the major issues in the debate over how to achieve it on Air America's Of
the People, AM 950, this Sunday afternoon, February 24, 3 PM.

Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, MD, co-founder of Physicians for a National
Health Program (PNHP), and health systems analyst Kip Sullivan will
discuss single-payer bills in the U.S. Congress and the Minnesota
Legislature.  Dr. Woolhandler will explain the national single-payer bill,
HR 676, which PNHP helped write; and Mr. Sullivan will present the
Minnesota Health Act for a state single-payer plan, which passed out of
the Senate Health Committee last Monday evening on an 8 to 3 vote.

They will compare the single-payer bills to the Massachusetts mandated
health program and the health care proposals of the presidential
candidates.

Hear Mr. Sullivan describe the exciting and over-crowded committee hearing
on the Minnesota Health Act, the persuasive testimony by chief Senate
author John Marty and two PNHP doctors, a Senator's courageous vote for
it, and the moving testimony from people whose lives and finances are in
ruin from medical bills, even though they have health insurance.

The broadcast is sixth in a series on the Minnesota Universal Health Care
Coalition's campaign for the Health Act, co-authored by 57 legislators.
Subsequent series broadcasts will continue on following Sundays.  Stay
tuned and tell friends to listen in.

Host James Mayer will get in as much phone time with callers as possible.
Call 952-946-6205.

You can also stream the program, as long as you can put in a MN zip code,
by going to HYPERLINK "http://www.airamericaminnesota.com/listen";
\nhttp://www.airamericaminnesota.com/listen


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

From: Chris Spotted Eagle <chris [at] spottedeagle.org>
Subject: KFAI Indian 2.24 7pm

KFAI¹s Indian Uprising for February 24, 2008 from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. CDT #254

A Law Firm Of and For the People. Though the services offered by the Legal
Rights Center of Minneapolis, are various and sundry, they focus their
efforts in three broad areas: Criminal Defense, Restorative Justice and
Community Legal Education. The following is from the LRC¹s website
www.legalrightscenter.org:

"Restorative Justice" is based on the belief that when a person does
something that harms another or that generally harms a community, the
fabric of the relationships involved has been torn.  We believe that with
time and effort that fabric can be mended and patterns of abuse, crime,
isolation or fear can be changed positively.

Mediation is probably the best-known form of restorative justice.  It
allows two or more people who have a conflict to come together with a
trained Mediator who will help them find points of resolution.  No one is
forced to come to mediation or forced to agree.  It is a voluntary
process.  When agreement is reached (and it often is), the agreement may
be written up so that everyone involved is clear about what it means to
them.

Circles is a process that has been used by indigenous people for centuries
to find solutions for conflicts, to brainstorm, and even to invoke the
mutual powers of a community.  We do circle to help a family or a
community come together respectfully and find ways to deal with a specific
conflict, with issues that re-surface repeatedly, or to aid in the healing
process after someone has been harmed.  Circle is based on the belief that
people have within them the ability and the power to bring about mutually
acceptable solutions to difficult problems. ~ ~ ~ ~

"With tragic results, members of numerous cultures, particularly American
Indian, have learned that the Euro American "story" typically prescribes
subjugation, domination, oppression, and annihilation in response to
cultural difference and conflict. Cultural oppression, ethnocide, and
genocide of American Indians has occurred overtly and covertly for over
500 years with no signs of abating." - David Walker, Ph.d

Guests are:
~ Michael Friedman (Caucasian), Executive Director, Legal Rights Center,
Minneapolis
~ Travis Zimmerman (Portage Band of Ojibwe), Restorative Justice
Practitioner, LRC
~ Trudell Guerue (Rosebud Lakota), Attorney, Legal Rights Center

* * * *
Indian Uprising a one-hour radio Public & Cultural Affairs program
relevant to Native Indigenous people, broadcast each Sunday at 7:00 p.m.
CDT over KFAI 90.3 FM Minneapolis and 106.7 FM St. Paul.  Producer and
host is volunteer Chris Spotted Eagle. To receive or stop getting
announcements: radio [at] spottedeagle.org

For internet listening, visit www.kfai.org, click Play under ON AIR NOW or
for listening later via their archives, click PROGRAMS & SCHEDULE > Indian
Uprising > STREAM.  Programs are saved for two weeks.


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

From: AhmediaTV <ahmediatv [at] gmail.com>
Subject: Fouzi Slisli 2.24 10:30pm

Guest of this week
Professor Fouzi Slisli
Assistant Professor of Human Relations and Multicultural Education/ St.
Cloud University B.A. 1993, Mohammed First University - Morocco; M.S.
1995, University of Essex - UK

The role of race and religion in US presidential election

a show with an accent, airs on Public TV
Sundays at 10:30pm
WWW.Belahdan.com <http://www.belahdan.com/>
ahmediatv [at] gmail.com


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

We Are Not Free
Health Care as a Human Right
By HELEN REDMOND
CounterPunch
February 21, 2008

At the core of the idea that health care is a human right is freedom. The
for-profit health care system in the United States severely restricts our
freedom in a number of subtle and not so subtle ways. Instead of freedom
there is fear.

The health care crisis impacts every aspect of our lives down to the most
seemingly insignificant personal decisions we make. This national bully
terrorizes and forces us to live in fear. It determines what is possible
and not possible, it crushes hopes and dreams and imprisons people into
lives they did not choose. For decades in this country we have accepted
the barbaric consequences of a profit driven health care system that
bullies and denies us basic freedoms. Therefore, we are not free.

How does the bully do this? Let me count the ways.

Arguably one of the most inhuman consequences of the health care crisis is
the predicament of the mentally ill. People with serious mental illness
encounter stigma, discrimination and difficulty accessing treatment.
Millions of adults and children suffer from a variety of treatable mental
health problems: depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and pervasive
developmental disorder. But insurers avoid covering those with a diagnosed
mental disability because of the chronic nature of the problem, which
means treatment is often needed for years, and medications are expensive.
This cuts into profit margins. Moreover, mental illness is not covered on
a par with physical illness by most health insurance policies. The number
of visits to mental health providers is limited, typically 20 sessions
with a therapist per calendar year, and admission to inpatient psychiatric
hospitalization is often restricted to fourteen days and not reimbursed at
a hundred percent. This discrimination is perfectly legal and even in
states where parity laws have been passed coverage is still uneven. A
study titled, "Design of Mental Health Benefits: Still Unequal After All
These Years," found that forty-eight percent of workers in
employer-sponsored health plans were subjected to the limiting of
inpatient days, caps on outpatient visits, and higher co-payments. Leaders
in the field of mental health have made the case over and over again that
treatment must be both affordable and open-ended because mental illnesses
don't respond to rigid time tables.

The barriers for those with insurance coverage are numerous, but for the
mentally ill who are uninsured they are almost insurmountable. In major
cities, streets and shelters are full of mentally ill people who are not
receiving any type of treatment. Most qualify for Medicaid. The problem is
actually getting Medicaid coverage. For people with a serious and
persistent mental illness - especially the homeless - to negotiate the
system and gather all the information needed to apply is almost
impossible. They need proof of homelessness and income, a birth
certificate, photo identification, copies of bills and a mandatory
interview with a case worker. Good luck. The consequence is hundreds of
thousands of mentally ill are eligible for coverage but don't get it.
Instead, they wander the streets talking to themselves, hearing voices,
dirty, hungry, and begging for money.

And they end up in jail. It's shocking: jails and prisons have become de
facto psychiatric treatment facilities for the mentally ill. The US
Department of Justice reports about sixteen percent of inmates - more than
300,000 people - has a mental illness. One study found that Los Angeles
County Jail and Rikers Island in New York City each held more people with
mental illness than the largest psychiatric inpatient facility in the
United States. In fact, Los Angeles County Jail, to its shame, has become
the largest mental health care institution (if you can call a penal
institution such a thing) in the country. The jail treats 3,200 seriously
mentally ill prisoners every day! For many, its the first time theyve ever
received treatment and some inmates improve quickly. But once they are
dumped back on the streets without structure, access to counselors, and
medication, they deteriorate. Homeless, delusional, and out of control,
they are inevitably rearrested for behaviors related to their untreated
mental illness. [Oh well, what do we care, so long as we live in a
calculating capitalist country where the few super-rich can become the
fewer super-super-rich?? The rest of us are just disposable stage props,
human McDonald's wrappers; we aren't billionaires, so what right have we
to live or pursue happiness? -ed]

The mentally ill are not free.

Those with addictions are similarly discriminated against. Addictions to
alcohol, opiates, crack/cocaine, and prescription drugs are mental health
problems that need ongoing treatment. Here again, insurers restrict
benefits to save money. Inpatient treatment used to be twenty-one days,
now it has been cut in half to ten, and some plans provide even fewer
days. Outpatient treatment is typically twenty visits with a therapist per
calendar year. For people struggling with a long-standing addiction,
twenty sessions is a cruel joke.

The shortage of treatment slots results in millions being denied care.
According to the Illinois Alcohol and Drug Dependence Association, in
2004, 1.5 million Illinois residents didnt receive treatment because they
couldn't afford it. A report by Join Together, a national resource center,
reported that in San Francisco, 1,500 drug and alcohol users were shut out
of treatment daily.

Methadone maintenance, despite being the most successful, and
cost-effective treatment for heroin addiction, is in seriously short
supply. There are roughly 810,000 heroin addicts and only 170,000 funded
methadone treatment slots. The wait lists are legendary, at one point in
the state of Washington the wait was up to 18 months, and in New York
there were 8000 people on a waiting list! In Columbus, Ohio it took
Heather Bara 18 months to get into a methadone program. While waiting, she
overdosed twice.

The drug addicted are not free.

The health care medical industrial complex is an enormous part of the
economy and health care spending now accounts for 16 percent of Gross
Domestic Product. Half of all personal bankruptcies are caused by illness
or medical bills. The number of medical bankruptcies has increased by 2200
percent since 1981 (Health Affairs, Feb. 2005). Have you ever tried to pay
back half a million dollars for an unplanned and uninsured "stay" in an
intensive care unit? Shit-out-luck stroke that I had! But even those with
insurance have good reason to fear bankruptcy, just ask the parents of
three-year old Elly Bachman. She was bitten by a snake. The treatment for
the bite - including antivenins and several surgeries to save the
leg - cost the family nearly $91, 000 after insurance paid out. The
hospital, in a moment of charity, waived $49,000. Now the Bachmans owe
$42,000. They have set up a website. Go to www.ellysnakebitefund.org to
make a donation.

The Bachmans are not free.

Credit/debit cards are increasingly used to pay for co-pays, deductibles,
medication, medical supplies, routine exams, and diagnostic testing. An
MRI costs over one thousand dollars. If you had a suspicious mass in your
brain would you put the MRI on your Visa? MRI one-thousand dollars,
hospital charges two-thousand dollars, medication three-hundred dollars.
Piece of mind that you don't have a malignant brain tumor: PRICELESS!
Except there is a price. Many hospitals and clinics prominently display
their price list like a menu, as if purchasing health care was akin to
going to a restaurant: I'll have the mammogram, well done, please.

A study titled Borrowing to Stay Healthy: How Credit Card Debt is Related
to Medical Expenses by Cindy Zeldin and Mark Rukaivan
(www.accessproject.org), illustrates how deeply indebted millions of
people are due to the high cost of health care. The cost of health
insurance continues to outpace inflation and wage growth. In other words,
health care is more expensive and there is less money to pay for it. Now,
about 29 million adults have medical debt and - no surprise here
- debt acts as a disincentive to filling prescriptions, and
following through with recommended treatments or diagnostic tests. If
there were still debtors prisons 29 million people would be in them.

According to the study, the uninsured have an average credit card debt of
$14,512 in medical debt and those with insurance have $10,973. The average
credit card debt for those in households with children was $12,840 and
those without children 10,669. The numbers can't convey the reality of
what debt costs families and individuals in terms of quality of life. It
means parents can't buy their children other things: a computer, trumpet
lessons, Hannah Montana tickets (if you could even get them), or a week in
Disneyland. For adults, it means a working life dedicated to paying off
medical debt instead of buying a home or taking vacations.

The credit card industry has recognized the growing market for patient
out-of-pocket-costs and has designed "medical credit cards" specifically
for medical expenses. Business is good. In 2001, patients charged $19.5
billion in health care services to Visa cards. Highmark Inc., a health
insurer in Pennsylvania, offers a "Health Care Gift Card." The card costs
$4.95 (plus shipping and handling), and can be loaded with as little as
$25 to as much as $5,000. Now you can give your partner that colonoscopy
the proctologist recommended. Or buy yourself that brain shunt for your
birthday. Oops, I dont think $5,000 will cover it. Put the outstanding
balance on another credit card.

We are not free.

Medical debt is related to another crisis in this country - the mortgage
crisis. Another finding in the study by Zeldin and Rukaivan is this: among
those households that refinanced their homes or took out a second
mortgage, 60% paid down credit cards with the money. A recent story in The
Chicago Reporter illustrated the connection between the two. Edward and
Thaida Booker bought a home in 2001 with a loan carrying a 6.2 percent
interest rate. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer a couple years later
and they had to refinance their mortgage at a higher interest rate to
access some of the equity to pay off unexpected medical bills. Thaida died
and without her income Mr. Booker was on his own to pay a mortgage that
had gone from $800 a month to $1,425. The problem is Booker is retired and
his pension and disability payments can't cover the new amount. With help
from a housing counselor he was able to negotiate new terms with his
lender, but still has to rent out a room in the house and work side jobs
to make the mortgage payment.

Edward Booker is not free.

Have you ever stayed in a job that you hated because of the health
insurance and you or a family member had a health condition that required
frequent doctor visits, labs, and expensive medication? Its called job
lock. An article in BusinessWeek titled "Held Hostage By Health Care -
Fear of Losing Coverage Keeps People at Jobs Where They're Not Their Most
Productive" exposes an aspect of the health care crisis that has been
little discussed. Workers are chained to jobs for one reason; the
employers health insurance. The article alleges there is "A health care
refugee in every office." I would wager there are millions of Americans
who are desperate to leave their jobs but without coverage, medical
bankruptcy and/or a health emergency make the risk of quitting impossible.
So we put up with the boredom and abuse (and think we are "lucky" to have
medical benefits), but if insurance wasn't tied to employment we could
tell our boss to "Take this job and shove it!"

Kathryn Holmes Johnson is a health care refugee profiled in the
BusinessWeek article. For a decade Johnson wanted to leave her job to find
one that she really loved, but her husband and two children all have
asthma and other health problems. The entire family is covered through her
medical plan. The $2,000 a year in co-payments for the family's
prescription drugs would have turned into $85,000 without insurance. When
she considered changing jobs, the critical factor was the prescription
drug coverage that a new employer would offer. She wondered, "In what
other country would that be the deciding factor?" Only in America -
a nation of health care hostages.

We are not free.

Helen Redmond is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a member of Chicago
Single-Payer Action Network (CSPAN). She can be reached at
redmondmadrid [at] yahoo.com


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

The Mad, Mad Middle Class
By Isaiah J. Poole
February 21st, 2008 - 12:30pm ET
From: moderator [at] PORTSIDE.ORG

You may not agree, as Sara Robinson provocatively suggests, that the
country is primed for revolution. But there is no doubt that large numbers
of middle-class people are mad, really mad, about the damage Bush-league
conservatism has done to the country and to their futures.

In fact, comments in a new Democracy Corps report, based on focus groups
of Republicans and Democrats in Orlando, Fla., and Columbus, Ohio, reveal
deep anger and frustration over policies that favor the wealthy and pull
the ability to meet their basic aspirations further from their grasp.

Note comments like these:

  * Columbus man: "They talk about the economy as
    working for the very wealthy and I read in the New York Times that
    $200,000 per year is the new $100,000 per year in salary.That's the
    standard of living to feel like you've really made it in America,
    $200,000 a year. For most people, that's unattainable. They'll never
    see that in two lifetimes. So I think it's unfortunate that there is
    one-tenth of one percent of Americans own forty percent of the wealth
    in this country. That's an obscene number. It's a disgusting number."

  * Orlando woman: "I don't like people having like
    no-bid contracts over there [in Iraq]. I think that has really
    escalated the cost of the war too. I mean this war is just
    unbelievable and the cost and the money could be going to help New
    Orleans, use it on domestic programs and helping other nations."

  * Columbus woman: "The war in Iraq, the amount of
    money being spent over there, and the cost of oil. It's kind of all
    tied in. And then all of that filters down eventually to everyday
    people. And all of those costs eventually fall on our shoulders. On
    shoulders that are already pretty well packed."

>From the rising costs of fuel to the effects of the mortgage crisis, the
Democracy Corps sessions reflect a middle class that feels under siege.
And the traditional conservative palliatives, as far as these people are
concerned, no longer cut it.

When the focus groups were presented with two economic messages - one
based on Republican stump speeches that focuses on making the 2003 tax
cuts for the wealthy permanent and an alternative that emphasized such
items as investment projects, extending unemployment insurance and child
tax credits, these prospective voters were, in the Democracy Corps words,
"overwhelmingly drawn" to the more progressive message.

Here's how a Columbus participant saw it:

    It sounds like to me that the Republicans want to make the wealthy
    wealthier. Cut their stock dividend tax, they should have to pay taxes
    on that. I have to pay taxes if I pull my money out of my 401K. I have
    to pay a fee. So I think that they should be taxed just like we are,
    us working class people. The higher end market of people should be
    taxed just like I am. What taxes I pay, the percentage of the same
    taxes I pay should be the same taxes they pay for the money that they
    make.

And in Orlando...

    You know if we start eliminating all those wonderful tax loopholes for
    corporations and requiring the wealthy and big corporations to pay
    their fair share we are going to have more money. It just makes sense.

Andrea Batista Schlesinger, who will be a featured speaker at Take Back
America 2008, wrote about this middle-class anger almost two years ago in
a way that now rings more true than ever. Her point was that "middle class
does not equal middle ground":

    Advocating for the middle class isn't inherently some kind of
    political compromise or centrist bargain, a la the Democratic
    Leadership Council. Raising the minimum wage is a middle class issue.
    Progressive immigration policy is a middle class issue. Reining in the
    power of industries to dictate our economic, energy, and health care
    policies is a middle class issue. Sound trade policy is a middle class
    issue. Just because you're talking about the middle class doesn't mean
    that your policy initiatives must consist only of tax credits and
    deductions that apply to a narrow income range. Advocating for the
    strengthening and expansion of our middle class shouldn't just be
    political code for "I'm inoffensive." It should mean that you're
    willing to do whatever it takes to create the economic policy that
    will directly benefit the overwhelming majority of Americans.

The seduction of Reagan-era sophistry - such as the line brandished by
self-proclaimed conservatives campaigning for office that they trust the
American people instead of the government, as if they had nothing to do
with separating government from its role as an instrument of the people -
has some residual strength. So does the conservative tactic of pitting
groups against each other - hence the way illegal immigration, rather than
bad trade and tax policies, surfaced as a reason why middle- class
wage-earners were falling behind.

Still, the focus group analysis concludes, "voters are starving for a new
economic vision that will strengthen the middle class and get our country
back on the right track."

Progressives have the basics for that vision, but the challenges are to
color in the details, inject it into the political debate in ways that
touch both the anxieties and aspirations of middle-class families, and
make sure that middle class voters know that there is an independent
political force that will be fighting for their interests - working with
the new White House leadership when it can, and confronting it when it
must.

At Take Back America 2008 in March, progressive activists will have a
prime opportunity to make that happen.

[Information about the 2008 Take Back America conference is at
http://ourfuture.org/take-back-america-2008. "Take Back America will bring
together all of the tribes of the progressive movementTake Back America
2008- grassroots and netroots activists, elected officials, business
owners, policy experts and more." -- moderator]


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

 Heaven: privatized!
 If you're poor it's off to hell!
 (Worst of all's the smell)


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   - David Shove             shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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