Progressive Calendar 08.04.09
From: David Shove (
Date: Tue, 4 Aug 2009 05:08:55 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    08.04.09

1. NWN4P vigil      8.04 4:45pm
2. RNC court watch  8.04 6pm
3. Makhijani/energy 8.04 6:30pm
4. Irish socialist  8.04 6:30pm
5. Natl night out   8.04 night (out)

6. Second chances   8.05 11am
7. Full moon walk   8.05 7pm
8. Bob Bowman       8.05 7pm

9. David Sirota     - Thirteen in congress control health care debate
10. Dave Lindorff   - Health care and spineless progressives
11. Ralph Nader     - Purloining the people's property
12. Demos           - Supreme court showdown: corps v small biz & citizens
13. Albert Einstein - Why socialism?

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From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: NWN4P vigil 8.04 4:45pm

NWN4P vigil every Tuesday.
Corner of Winnetka and 42nd Avenues in New Hope. 4:45 to 5:45 PM.
All welcome; bring your own or use our signs.

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From: Do'ii <syncopatingrhythmsabyss [at]>
Subject: RNC court watch 8.04 6pm

RNC Court Watchers are in need of participants to help with organizing
court information, documentation and etc.  RNC Court Watchers Meetings are
every Tuesday, 6 P.M. at Caffeto's. Below is announcement for our

Preemptive raids, over 800 people arrested, police brutality on the
streets and torture in Ramsey County Jail. Police have indiscriminately
used rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tasers and chemical irritants to
disperse crowds and incapacitate peaceful, nonviolent protesters. The
RNC-8 and others are facing felonies and years in jail. We must fight this
intimidation, harassment and abuse!

Join the RNC Court Solidarity Meeting this coming Tuesday at Caffetto's to
find out how you can make a difference in the lives of many innocent

Caffetto's Coffeehouse and Gallery (612)872-0911 708 W 22nd Street,
Minneapolis, MN 55405
Every Tuesday @ 6:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M
participate and help organize RNC court solidarity.
For more information, please contact: rnccourtwatch [at]

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From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Makhijani/energy 8.04 6:30pm

A Talk by Arjun Makhijani: A Total Renewable Energy Plan for Minnesota
Tuesday, August 4, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 West
7th Street, St. Paul.

Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D., is president of the Institute for Energy and
Environmental Research (IEER) in Takoma Park, Maryland. His most recent
book is Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy
(2007). He was principal author of the first study of the energy
efficiency potential of the U.S. economy published in 1971. Dr. Makhijani
has testified before Congress, and has appeared on ABC World News Tonight,
the CBS Evening News, CBS 60 Minutes, NPR, CNN, BBC and has served as a
consultant on energy issues to the United Nations. Among his awards are
the Josephine Butler Nuclear Free Future Award (2001) and being named a
Ploughshares Hero by the Ploughshares Fund (2006). Free and open to the
public. Donations welcome. Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Call 651-227-3228 or

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From: Dan DiMaggio <dan.dimaggio [at]>
Subject: Irish socialist 8.04 6:30pm

Workers' Revolt in Europe
Speaker: Joe Higgins
Member of the European Parliament, representing Dublin
Member of the Irish Parliament, 1997-2007
Socialist Party of Ireland

Tuesday, August 4th, 6:30pm
Walker Community Church
3104 16th Ave. S., Minneapolis
Sponsored by Socialist Alternative - /

Across Europe, workers are moving into struggle against the effects of the
global economic crisis. The June elections to the European Parliament saw
an electoral revolt to punish establishment parties across the continent,
in which Joe Higgins of the Irish Socialist Party scored a stunning upset
victory against the ruling Irish parties. From factory occupations and
wildcat strikes in England and Ireland to bossnappings" and general
strikes in France to mass youth protests in Greece and Germany, ordinary
people are saying, "We won't pay for your crisis!"

For more info contact: mn [at] / 612-760-1980 SPEAKER:
Joe Higgins of the Irish Socialist Party, longtime member of the Irish
Parliament (1997-2007), recently elected to the European Parliament, and a
champion of workers and the unemployed.

About Joe Higgins:

Joe Higgins is a widely respected fighter for workers and the unemployed
in Ireland. He served in the Irish Parliament from 1997-2007, where he was
a leading opponent of the anti-worker, pro-big business policies of the
Irish government. The Sunday Business Post labeled him the "best
parliamentary performer" in all of Ireland for his witty speeches. He
recently won election to the European Parliament as the Socialist Party's
candidate in Dublin, defeating the candidate of Fianna Fáil, the governing
party in Ireland for the last twelve years.

In 2005, Joe Higgins helped expose the horrific abuse of Turkish migrant
workers by GAMA Construction, which was forcing workers to slave for over
80 hours a week while paying them just 2 euros/hour (less than 1/6th of
the minimum wage in the Irish construction industry). He spent 30 days in
jail in 2003 for participating in successful civil disobedience against
attempts by the Irish government to impose a "bin tax" on garbage
collection. The bin tax struggle was mainly against the attempt to
privatize public services, an attempt to further dismantle the remaining
social welfare programs in Ireland.

Recently, Joe played a crucial role in the defeat of the Lisbon Treaty
(the renamed European constitution) by Irish voters, which would have
deepened the "race to the bottom" throughout Europe and led to further
privatizations, attacks on social services, and increased militarization.
In response to those who attempted to portray his campaign as
"anti-Europe," Higgins said, "We stand for the greatest links and
friendship and solidarity between working people throughout the European
Union. That is our alternative to a Europe dominated by the big corporate
elites, by the armaments merchants, by the financial institutions."

During his tenure in Parliament, Joe was such a thorn in the side of the
Irish establishment that former Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern referred
to him as "failed person" with a "failed ideology." Yet more than anyone
else, Joe exposed and warned of the crisis that the policies and greed of
the Irish ruling class would lead to. The economic crisis has proven that
Joe and the Socialist Party were right, and the only "failed ideology" is
that of capitalism.

While other politicians live lavish lifestyles, Joe is known as "the best
fighter money can't buy." He lives on the average wage of an Irish worker,
donating the rest of his salary to activist groups. Joe went to college at
St. Mary's College in Minnesota from 1969-1971, where he became
politically active during the protests against the Vietnam War.

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From: "Heather Martens, Citizens for a Safer Minnesota"
    <csm [at]>
Subject: National Night Out 8.04

Thousands of Minnesotans will gather Tuesday, August 4, for National Night
Out block parties. Strengthen your community by meeting your neighbors!

And strengthen the voice of reason by telling your neighbors about the
most un-neighborly idea in the Minnesota legislature: The "Shoot First"
bill. Visit this link to download the "Shoot First Isn't Neighborly"

The gun lobby's "Shoot First" bill would legalize the killing of anyone
who opens the gate to enter someone else's yard. In public places, "Shoot
First" would make killing a first resort by eliminating the centuries-old
"rule of retreat" that requires walking away if it is safe to do so. Shoot
First was re-introduced in 2009 after losing narrowly in 2008. (It failed
on a tie vote in a Minnesota House committee.)

In effect, Shoot First would change the legal standard of behavior from
"What would a normal person do?" to "What would a sociopath do?"

Visit this link for the brochure on Shoot First.

Bring the petition and brochure to your block party and let your neighbors
know what the gun lobby is pushing, over the objections of Minnesota law
enforcement groups. Shoot First has passed in Florida, Ohio, Colorado,
Texas, and several other states. (Scroll down for more information.)

Shine a light on the gun lobby's efforts. Ask your neighbors to sign the
"Shoot First Isn't Neighborly" petition. Then mail it in and write to us
at csm [at] and tell us about your experience.

Heather Martens Executive Director Citizens for a Safer Minnesota

More on Shoot First:

In Minnesota, existing law protects self-defense. In recent years, three
Minnesota homeowners have shot intruders and not been prosecuted. In one
Minneapolis case, a homeowner shot a SWAT team member during a raid on the
wrong house. The homeowner was not prosecuted and collected $600,000 from
the city.

The Shoot First bill is opposed by the Minnesota Chiefs of Police
Association, the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, the
Minnesota County Attorneys Association, and AFSCME Local 552 (Hennepin
County Probation and Parole Officers), among others.

In Texas shortly after Shoot First passed, Joe Horn dialed 911 to report
burglars entering his neighbor's house. Horn said he would go outside with
his gun and shoot them. The 911 dispatcher urged Horn not to. "Ain't no
property worth shooting somebody over." But Horn replied that because of
Shoot First, he could go outside with his shotgun and fire. So he did --
shooting both men in the back, killing them. After he learned he would not
be prosecuted, Horn told a reporter, "I would never advocate anyone doing
what I did. We are not geared for that." (Houston Chronicle, July 1,

A law that condones the unnecessary taking of life harms everyone - even
the shooter.

After Florida passed Shoot First, Jason Rosenbloom, who was unarmed
himself, was shot during an argument in Clearwater with his next-door
neighbor. Although Rosenbloom was just outside the neighbor's front door,
the neighbor said he was afraid of him. The neighbor was not prosecuted.
"This law is pretty scary," said Rosenbloom's mother. "All you have to do
is say you feel threatened and you can shoot someone and get away with

Sherdavia Jenkins, 9, of Liberty City, Florida, was killed in the
crossfire during a shootout between two alleged gang members. The
defendants are using "Shoot First" as a defense in the case.

To learn more, visit

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From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at]>
Subject: Second chances  8.05 11am

TruthToTell - SECOND CHANCES: Reforming Justice, Repatriating
Minnesota's Offenders

KFAI - 90.3FM-Minneapolis/106.7FM Saint Paul and STREAMING at
SECOND CHANCES: Reforming Justice, Repatriating Minnesota's Offenders

To suggest our so-called system of "corrections" is correcting a damned
thing is to stick one's head firmly in the sand over the racist and
inhumane disparities not only of incarceration itself - where prisons and
institutions are overburdened with African-Americans and other women and
men of color - quick to become colleges of crime wallowing in the
underlying, unspoken presumption that, like Les Miserables, no one
imprisoned for any crime can be anything but a crook the rest of their
natural life.

But others know better - and many organizations and activists are working
to restore the rights and privileges of citizenship so often now denied to
those returning to society and are thus themselves victimized by a justice
system that too often provides little justice to those who have paid for
their errors and offenses. But, these are the easy targets of
"tough-on-crime" politicians and law enforcers who play on the contempt of
citizens to foster permanent punishment for those who have offended
society's rules and laws, rarely forgiving and never forgetting - much of
it aided and abetted by a sensation-loving media industry.

TTT'S ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN meet and talk with those who
believe that permanent punishment for those who have paid their debt to
society must stop. We talk about Second Chances for formerly incarcerated
offenders in job, housing, voting rights and other privileges society
offers us all.  We speak with Second Chance Coalition advocates and a
former felon, now an attorney and member of Save Our Sons.

 SARAH WALKER - Chief Operating Officer, 180 Degrees, Inc.
 LORI STEE -  Director of Student Learning, Rebuild Resources
 DAVID MARTIN, Attorney; Former felon; Board member, Save Our Sons
 SINA BLACK - Community Engagement Associate, Community Action
partnership of Ramsey & Washington Counties
 INVITED: State Senator MEE MOUA, Chair Senate Judiciary Committee
State Rep. BOBBY JOE CHAMPION - Member, MN House Civil Justice Committee

--------7 of 13--------

From: Sue Ann <seasnun [at]>
Subject: Full moon walk 8.05 7pm

Wednesday, August 5, 2009 - Green Corn Moon
7 pm  at  Coldwater Spring

Green corn. Green tomatoes. Green Museum is our vision for Coldwater'a
place where this ancient land is the museum. The Final Environmental Impact
Statement is due out "at the end of summer." Then we have 30 days to
reply.   We'll keep you informed, meanwhile join us on the moon walk at
Coldwater Spring.

Directions: From Hwy 55/Hiawatha in south Minneapolis, turn East (toward the
Mississippi) at 54th Street, take an immediate right (South) ½-mile past the
parking meters, through the cul-de-sac and the gates. Follow the curvy road
left & then right down to the pond, next to the great willow tree.
Sunset 8:33 pm - Moonrise 8:23 pm
(lunar eclipse at 7:39 pm - probably not visible here)

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From: Tom Dooley <fellowcommoditydooley [at]>
Subject: Bob Bowman 8.05 7pm

Take Back America!
Bob Bowman is bringing his 2009 Patriot tour to town!

Bob is a retired Lt. Colonel from the U.S. Air Force. He was a combat
pilot during the American war against Vietnam. He flew 101 combat missions
and is a long-time member of "Vets for Peace."

Dr. Bowman's challenge to "Take Back America" explains why we need to:
1.Follow the Constitution
2.Honor the Truth
3.Serve the People

Think what a difference these changes would make. No more imperial
presidency. No nuclear attack on Iran. No more undeclared wars of
aggression. No more spying on the American people. No more jailing of
dissidents. No more exporting of jobs. No more NAFTA. No more government
lies, false flag attacks, and cover-ups. No more corporate welfare. No
health plans written by insurance companies and drug companies. No more
energy policies written by oil companies. No more added trillions of debt.
Most importantly - no more using our sons and daughters to kill Arabs for
U.S. Interests.

Let's "Take Back America."
7 P.M. Wednesday, August 05, 2009
First Universalist Church
3400 Dupont Ave. S.

Tickets: $10 (More if you can, less if necessary)
FFI: Tom Dooley, Phone: 651-645-0295
Email: fellowcommoditydooley [at]

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Thirteen in Congress Control Health Care Debate
David Sirota
Friday 31 July 2009

For those still clinging to quaint notions of the American ideal, these
have been a faith-shaking 10 years. Just as evolutionary science once got
in the way of creationists' catechism, so has politics now undermined
patriots' naive belief that the United States is a functioning democracy.

The 21st century opened with a handful of Supreme Court puppets appointing
George W. Bush president after he lost the popular vote - and we all know
the costs in blood and treasure that insult wrought. Now the decade closes
with another cabal of stooges assaulting the "one person, one vote"
principle - and potentially bringing about another disaster.

Here we have a major congressional push to fix a health care system that
leaves one-sixth of the country without coverage. Here we have 535 House
and Senate delegates elected to give all 300 million of us a voice in the
solution. And here we have just 13 of those delegates holding the
initiative hostage.

In the Senate, both parties have outsourced health care legislation to six
Finance Committee lawmakers: Max Baucus, D-Mont.; Kent Conrad, D-N.D.;
Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.; Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and
Olympia Snowe, R-Maine. The group recently announced it is rejecting
essential provisions like a public insurance option that surveys show the
public supports. Meanwhile, seven mostly Southern House Democrats have
been threatening to use their Commerce Committee votes to gut any health
care bill, regardless of what the American majority wants.

This, however, isn't about the majority. These lawmakers, hailing mostly
from small states and rural areas, together represent only 13 million
people, meaning those speaking for just 4 percent of America are
maneuvering to impose their health care will on the other 96 percent of

Census figures show that the poverty rates are far higher and per-capita
incomes far lower in the 13 legislators' specific districts than in the
nation as a whole. Put another way, these politicians represent exactly
the kinds of districts whose constituents would most benefit from
universal health care. So why are they leading the fight to stop - rather
than pass - reform?

Because when tyranny mixes with legalized bribery, constituents' economic
concerns stop mattering.

Thanks to our undemocratic system and our corrupt campaign finance laws,
the health care industry doesn't have to fight a 50-state battle. It can
simply buy a tiny group of congresspeople, which is what it's done.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, health interests have
given these 13 members of Congress $12 million in campaign contributions -
a huge sum further enhanced by geography.

Remember, politicians trade favors for re-election support - and the best
way to ensure re-election is to raise money to for TV airtime (read:
commercials). The result is an amplifier of tyranny: Precisely because the
undemocratic system unduly empowers legislators from sparsely populated
(and hence cheap) media markets, industry cash can more easily purchase
tyrannical obstruction from those same legislators. In this case, that
means congresspeople blocking health care reform that would most help
their own voters.

Of course, there is talk of circumventing the 13 obstructionists and
forcing a un-filibuster-able vote of the full Congress. Inside the
Washington palace, the media court jesters and political aides-de-camp
have reacted to such plans by raising predictable charges of improper
procedure, poor manners, bad etiquette and other Versailles

But the real crime would be letting the tyrants block that vote, trample
democracy and kill health care reform in the process.

--------10 of 13--------

Health Care and Spineless Progressives
Of Blue Dogs and Jellyfish
August 3, 2009

What's the difference between a Blue Dog Democrat and a progressive
Democrat? One is a vertebrate with a spine and a willingness to bite. The
other is a jellyfish with no spine and no teeth.

This difference has been glaringly apparent in the current fight over
health care reform.

The Blue Dogs in House and Senate have been giving the progressive
Democrats an object lesson in how a small group in Congress can get its
way. They have threatened to withhold their support for the Obama
Administration's key policy objective of a health reform package, and have
managed, with just a handful of votes between them, to remove almost all
progressive content from that legislation by threatening to walk if they
don't get their way.

Compare that to the progressives'a much larger faction within the
Democratic Party majority in both houses. There are plenty of articles
currently circulating in the media talking about progressive rage and
dissatisfaction, both among progressives at large, and among progressives
in Congress, over the bills that are emerging in committees in both the
House and Senate - bills that are gutting any reference to a genuine
so-called "public option" government insurance plan that would actually
compete with and challenge private insurance companies, and that have
studiously avoided having anything to do with a single-payer approach,
bills that call for actually cutting back on Medicare, the wildly
successful single-payer program that since 1965 has been providing health
care for the elderly and the disabled. But none of the dissatisfied
progressive Democrats in Congress, and only a few of the progressive
political organizations operating outside of Congress, have threatened to
bolt and oppose the sell-out legislation that is being produced in
Congress, or to stop supporting those Democrats in Congress who are caving
in to the pressure from the health industry lobbies. And certainly none of
those progressive groups have told the president that he will no longer
have their support if he doesn't insist on a much bolder and progressive
health reform bill.

Given the power that the small Blue Dog Democratic Caucus has demonstrated
by threatening to rebel and vote against a health reform bill, just
imagine the power that Progressive Caucus would have if it were to
collectively threaten a "No" vote. Just imagine the different path that
health reform legislation would be taking in Congress today if progressive
organizations like trade unions, netroots organizations, and others were
to tell President Obama that they would withhold their backing in 2010
from any member of Congress who didn't vote for a single-payer plan, or
that he could no longer count on their support in 2012 if he failed to
push for single-payer today.

This is the lesson of the current disaster of health reform in Congress,
and it is just the latest chapter in the failed history of progressive
Democratic politics.

It's fine to work to elect progressives to Congress, and to send a
Democrat, progressive or not, to the White House, given that there is no
chance for progressive change while Republicans are in charge, and given
the institutional obstacles and the fratricidal internal conflicts that
prevent the rise of a viable Third Party alternative, but progressive
voters and progressive organizations have forgotten the lesson of the
Civil Rights and Anti-Indochina War movements. That lesson is that
elections are only a small first step, and that only mass movements
operating outside of Washington and outside of electoral politics - mass
movements that threaten the Democrats who are currently in power - can
produce progressive change.

The power of the Blue Dogs in Congress is derived from the fact that
despite their small number, they are numerous enough that, if they stick
together, they can derail a progressive reform bill.

But imagine how much more powerful the progressive caucus in House and
Senate would be if it took the same tack.

Progressives in Congress, if they developed spines and teeth and ceased
being jellyfish, could threaten to vote against every bill offered by
those same Blue Dogs, unless they supported real health reform - that is,
a single-payer plan such as the one being put forward today by Rep. John
Conyers (D-MI). If they were backed up by progressive grass roots
organizations that let it be known that support would end for any Democrat
not backing single-payer reform, we could have that reform.

Instead, we have jellyfish on the left, and both the president and the
Democrats in Congress, know that they can ignore the left, because it will
support them no matter what they do.

That is not to say that all the Democrats in Congress are jellyfish - just
most of them. Conyers, who showed jellyfish-like characteristics on the
impeachment issue during the Bush/Cheney era, has been outspoken in his
criticism of the Obama administration, and has offered a real single-payer
alternative. And last week, at a gathering of Progressive Democrats of
America in Washington, Conyers warned that Obama risks being a one-term
president, saying to him, "Buddy, you are wrong on healthcare and it's
going to cost you big time." Nor is it to say that all progressive groups
and individuals are toeing the line and simply backing whatever Obama and
the Congressional Democrats offer - on July 30 a major protest was mounted
in Washington, DC by backers of a single-payer plan (July 30 was the 4th
anniversary of the establishment of Medicare - the nation's single-payer
plan for the elderly and disabled.)

Still for the most part, progressives in Congress and at large across the
country were quiet as Obama slimed single-payer and moved the debate to
the right, only taking a stand at all on the already minimalist issue of
whether there will be any kind of "public option" in the resulting
legislation, however weak. And even there, few progressive members of
Congress have actually vowed to vote down such a lame measure if there's
no public option, or just a weak one.

Note: There is still pressure in in the House for a vote to substitute
Rep. Conyer's single-payer plan for the sell-out bill currently moving
through the House.  For information on how to join in the fight for Single
Payer, go to or

Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest
book is "The Case for Impeachment" (St. Martin's Press, 2006 and now
available in paperback). He can be reached at dlindorff [at]

--------11 of 13--------

Purloining the People's Property
by Ralph Nader
Monday, August 3, 2009

Every week, Marcia Carroll collects examples of privatization (that is,
corporatization of the peoples' assets). Looking at her website,, will either make you laugh helplessly or make your
blood boil.

The "off the wall" giveaways at bargain-basement prices of what you and
other Americans own eclipses imagination. The latest escapes from
responsible government are called "public-private partnerships" and are
designed to enable the likes of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs to take
over highways, meter-collecting, and public buildings in deals that are
loaded with complex tax advantages for the investors.

Here are two of her latest entries. Arizona lawmakers and Governor Jan
Brewer are moving to fill a $3.4 billion budget shortfall by selling
state-owned buildings. These include not only prisons, but also the House
and Senate buildings. That's the state legislature, fellow Americans!
Metaphor becomes reality!

The proposed sale has bipartisan support and will require a leaseback by
the buying corporation to the lawmakers with the right to repurchase the
premises within twenty years.

The Arizona Republic reports that the deal, which includes 32 state
properties, would bring in $735 million in upfront money and entail state
lease payments totaling $60-70 million a year.

"We need the money," State Minority Whip Linda Lopez, a Tuscon Democrat
said, adding, "You've got to find it somewhere". Well, why not rent out
the backs of the state legislators to their favorite corporate funders? At
least the public would get full disclosure of ownership.

"I look at it as taking out a mortgage," practical Arizona House Majority
Leader John McCormish, a Republican, told the Wall Street Journal.

The second item comes from the Denver Post, which reports that the foreign
consortium, auto-estradas de Portugal (Brisa), operating the toll road
Northwest Parkway under a 99-year lease, objected to improvements on a
nearby public road. Under the complex leasing contract, the company could
cite the improvements as an "adverse action" reducing toll revenue and the
number of vehicles using the parkway. This action would presumably entitle
this foreign company to compensation from Colorado taxpayers.

Last year, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell tried to push through the
legislature a complex, 75-year lease of the storied Pennsylvania Turnpike
in exchange for $12.8 billion up front. All kinds of tax breaks and
trap-door evasions filled the 686 page lease. The Governor was prepared,
for example, to agree to pay the consortium of foreign investors if new
safety measures or emergency vehicles entered the toll road and affected
the flow of traffic. Fortunately, the legislature rebelled and blocked the

The Indiana Toll Road was turned over to private companies in 2006. The
75-year lease was for $3.8 billion, which is a little more than the cost
to repair the Woodrow Wilson bridge over the Potomac River between
Virginia and Washington, DC.

Tolls on the Indiana Toll Road have already doubled and are expected to
double again within ten years, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Last year, Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago privatized the city's parking
meters. Chicago's inspector general concluded that the meters were worth
nearly twice as much to the city as the $1.15 billion that the city
received under an agreement rushed through the City Council with no civic
input. A fourfold increase in meter rates this year has driven many
motorists to residential neighborhoods in search of free parking spaces.

Indiana, a leader in outsourcing governmental functions to private
corporations, gave the servicing of the state's welfare program to IBM.
According to the Indianapolis Star, error rates since corporatization have
risen 17.5 percent last November and 21.4 percent in December.

The myth that corporatization is "better, faster, and cheaper" is falling
apart. This year, the IRS announced that it will end the use of private
tax collectors after consumer groups argued that taxpayers were subjected
to immediate payment demands by private collectors while IRS employees
would offer citizens an array of options to help pay their tax debt.

Then there are the corporatized water systems where the companies deliver
poorer service at higher cost.

Since the 19th century, privatizing public functions has opened the doors
to kickbacks, price fixing, and collusive bidding.

New depths of corruption were reached in Pennsylvania recently when two
state judges pleaded guilty to taking bribes in return for sending youths
to privately-owned jails.

After reading report after report about the vast, relentless waste, fraud,
and abuse arising out of corporate contractors to the Pentagon in Iraq,
why should readers be surprised at this domestic scene whereby taxpayers
pay through the nose for corporations to govern them?

So, you're not surprised. But are you indignant? Are you ready to make
sure the politicians hear from you in no uncertain terms, hear from you to
stop this recklessness and restore public control of the public
infrastructure under accountable government?

If the state politicos try to pull a fast one, demand public hearings with
thorough reviews of the proposed contracts or leasebacks. Better yet, in
states like Arizona or Colorado, require any such proposals go through the
open, state-wide referendum voting process.

Corporatizations such as the above just pass on to our children the
burdens that our generation should have assumed itself to run government
within its means funded by fair taxation.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent
book is The Seventeen Traditions.

--------12 of 13--------

Supreme Court Showdown Pits Corporate Interests Against
Independent Businesses and Citizens
High Court Threatening to Overturn Key Precedents
Protecting Citizens Against Corporate Control of Politics
July 31, 2009

The American Independent Business Alliance, a non-profit organization
helping communities design and implement programs to support independent
locally-owned businesses, today filed a friend-of-the- court brief in
Citizens United v. FEC, No. 08-205, a case in which the Court has taken
the unusual step of requesting reargument to overturn long-standing First
Amendment doctrines regulating the engagement of for- profit corporations
in political campaigns.

The brief argues that the Court's invitation to overrule key First
Amendment precedents would undermine, rather than advance, First Amendment
values by granting corporations the power to use huge corporate treasury
funds in electoral campaigns even though such funds were not accumulated
for political purposes. Elevating corporations to the status of citizens
has no constitutional basis and would harm not only citizens, but
America's small businesses.

"In a democracy, citizens should determine the rules governing the
economic marketplace," said Brenda Wright, Director of the Democracy
Program at Demos and one of the counsel for AMIBA. "The Supreme Court is
threatening to reverse this key assumption of democracy and give
for-profit corporations, with their enormous economic clout, unbridled
power to influence who will be elected to office to govern the citizenry.
We urge the Court to honor the First Amendment precedents ensuring that
citizens, not corporations, exercise sovereign power in our democracy."

The case involves a claim that makers of a video opposing Senator Hillary
Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign should have been able to use
for-profit corporate funds to air the video--regardless of the political
views of customers, employees, shareholders or other persons affiliated
with the corporation--instead of using funds specifically donated by
individuals who supported the political message.

Long-standing precedents of the Supreme Court establish that Congress and
the states may require corporate political speech to be funded by
donations from persons who agree with the corporation's message rather
than by corporate general treasury funds that were not accumulated for
political purposes. The Court's June 29, 2009 order in Citizens United
unexpectedly asked the parties to brief whether two of these key
precedents, Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce and McConnell v. FEC,
should be overruled.

AMIBA's brief argues that corporations are created by state law for
specific and limited purposes. Allowing them to fund electoral campaigns
would radically restructure our political system and return the nation to
the discredited doctrines of the Lochner era, when the Constitution was
interpreted to elevate the property rights of businesses over the rights
of ordinary citizens to self-governance.

"Independent business owners often face a decidedly uneven playing field
when competing against major corporations due to tax loopholes, subsidies
and preferential treatment bestowed by politicians" said Jeff Milchen,
co-founder of the American Independent Business Alliance. "Opening
electoral contests to direct corporate campaign spending would undermine
fair market competition."

"To hear reporters refer to this Court as `pro-business' is maddening,"
added Milchen. "Pro-Walmart and Goldman Sachs maybe, but overturning these
precedents would be radically anti-business when viewed from the
perspective of America's 6 million or so independent businesses."

Professor Greenwood added,

"The integrity of our legal system and future economic growth are at stake
when law is for sale to the highest bidder, whether directly or
indirectly. If the Supreme Court radically reinterprets the First
Amendment to ban states and the Congress from regulating corporate
campaign spending, our freedom - and the future of our market system -
will pay an enormous price."

It was prepared by attorneys with Demos, a national, non-partisan policy
organization that works to ensure broad political participation and a
vibrant democracy; and by Daniel JH Greenwood, a professor at Hofstra
University School of Law who has written extensively about the
intersection of corporate law and democracy.

--------13 of 13--------

Why Socialism?
by Albert Einstein
Monthly Review

This essay was originally published in the first issue of Monthly Review
(May 1949).

Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues
to express views on the subject of socialism? I believe for a number of
reasons that it is.

Let us first consider the question from the point of view of scientific
knowledge. It might appear that there are no essential methodological
differences between astronomy and economics: scientists in both fields
attempt to discover laws of general acceptability for a circumscribed
group of phenomena in order to make the interconnection of these phenomena
as clearly understandable as possible. But in reality such methodological
differences do exist. The discovery of general laws in the field of
economics is made difficult by the circumstance that observed economic
phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to
evaluate separately. In addition, the experience which has accumulated
since the beginning of the so-called civilized period of human history has
- as is well known - been largely influenced and limited by causes which
are by no means exclusively economic in nature. For example, most of the
major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering
peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the
privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a
monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their
own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division
of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by
which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided
in their social behavior.

But historic tradition is, so to speak, of yesterday; nowhere have we
really overcome what Thorstein Veblen called "the predatory phase" of
human development. The observable economic facts belong to that phase and
even such laws as we can derive from them are not applicable to other
phases. Since the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and
advance beyond the predatory phase of human development, economic science
in its present state can throw little light on the socialist society of
the future.

Second, socialism is directed towards a social-ethical end. Science,
however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings;
science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends.
But the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with lofty ethical
ideals and - if these ends are not stillborn, but vital and vigorous - are
adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who, half
unconsciously, determine the slow evolution of society.

For these reasons, we should be on our guard not to overestimate science
and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we
should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to
express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.

Innumerable voices have been asserting for some time now that human
society is passing through a crisis, that its stability has been gravely
shattered. It is characteristic of such a situation that individuals feel
indifferent or even hostile toward the group, small or large, to which
they belong. In order to illustrate my meaning, let me record here a
personal experience. I recently discussed with an intelligent and
well-disposed man the threat of another war, which in my opinion would
seriously endanger the existence of mankind, and I remarked that only a
supra-national organization would offer protection from that danger.
Thereupon my visitor, very calmly and coolly, said to me: "Why are you so
deeply opposed to the disappearance of the human race?"

I am sure that as little as a century ago no one would have so lightly
made a statement of this kind. It is the statement of a man who has
striven in vain to attain an equilibrium within himself and has more or
less lost hope of succeeding. It is the expression of a painful solitude
and isolation from which so many people are suffering in these days. What
is the cause? Is there a way out?

It is easy to raise such questions, but difficult to answer them with any
degree of assurance. I must try, however, as best I can, although I am
very conscious of the fact that our feelings and strivings are often
contradictory and obscure and that they cannot be expressed in easy and
simple formulas.

Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As
a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of
those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to
develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the
recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their
pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their
conditions of life. Only the existence of these varied, frequently
conflicting, strivings accounts for the special character of a man, and
their specific combination determines the extent to which an individual
can achieve an inner equilibrium and can contribute to the well-being of
society. It is quite possible that the relative strength of these two
drives is, in the main, fixed by inheritance. But the personality that
finally emerges is largely formed by the environment in which a man
happens to find himself during his development, by the structure of the
society in which he grows up, by the tradition of that society, and by its
appraisal of particular types of behavior. The abstract concept "society"
means to the individual human being the sum total of his direct and
indirect relations to his contemporaries and to all the people of earlier
generations. The individual is able to think, feel, strive, and work by
himself; but he depends so much upon society - in his physical,
intellectual, and emotional existence - that it is impossible to think of
him, or to understand him, outside the framework of society. It is
"society" which provides man with food, clothing, a home, the tools of
work, language, the forms of thought, and most of the content of thought;
his life is made possible through the labor and the accomplishments of the
many millions past and present who are all hidden behind the small word

It is evident, therefore, that the dependence of the individual upon
society is a fact of nature which cannot be abolishedjust - as in the case
of ants and bees. However, while the whole life process of ants and bees
is fixed down to the smallest detail by rigid, hereditary instincts, the
social pattern and interrelationships of human beings are very variable
and susceptible to change. Memory, the capacity to make new combinations,
the gift of oral communication have made possible developments among human
being which are not dictated by biological necessities. Such developments
manifest themselves in traditions, institutions, and organizations; in
literature; in scientific and engineering accomplishments; in works of
art. This explains how it happens that, in a certain sense, man can
influence his life through his own conduct, and that in this process
conscious thinking and wanting can play a part.

Man acquires at birth, through heredity, a biological constitution which
we must consider fixed and unalterable, including the natural urges which
are characteristic of the human species. In addition, during his lifetime,
he acquires a cultural constitution which he adopts from society through
communication and through many other types of influences. It is this
cultural constitution which, with the passage of time, is subject to
change and which determines to a very large extent the relationship
between the individual and society. Modern anthropology has taught us,
through comparative investigation of so-called primitive cultures, that
the social behavior of human beings may differ greatly, depending upon
prevailing cultural patterns and the types of organization which
predominate in society. It is on this that those who are striving to
improve the lot of man may ground their hopes: human beings are not
condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each
other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate.

If we ask ourselves how the structure of society and the cultural attitude
of man should be changed in order to make human life as satisfying as
possible, we should constantly be conscious of the fact that there are
certain conditions which we are unable to modify. As mentioned before, the
biological nature of man is, for all practical purposes, not subject to
change. Furthermore, technological and demographic developments of the
last few centuries have created conditions which are here to stay. In
relatively densely settled populations with the goods which are
indispensable to their continued existence, an extreme division of labor
and a highly-centralized productive apparatus are absolutely necessary.
The time - which, looking back, seems so idyllic - is gone forever when
individuals or relatively small groups could be completely
self-sufficient. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that mankind
constitutes even now a planetary community of production and consumption.

I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me
constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the
relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more
conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not
experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a
protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to
his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the
egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while
his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate.
All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from
this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism,
they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and
unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and
perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.

The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my
opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of
producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each
other of the fruits of their collective labor - not by force, but on the
whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. In this
respect, it is important to realize that the means of production - that is
to say, the entire productive capacity that is needed for producing
consumer goods as well as additional capital goods - may legally be, and
for the most part are, the private property of individuals.

For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call
"workers" all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of
productionalthough - this does not quite correspond to the customary use
of the term. The owner of the means of production is in a position to
purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production,
the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist.
The essential point about this process is the relation between what the
worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value.
Insofar as the labor contract is "free," what the worker receives is
determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his
minimum needs and by the capitalists' requirements for labor power in
relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to
understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined
by the value of his product.

Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because
of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological
development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation
of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result
of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous
power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically
organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative
bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise
influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes,
separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the
representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the
interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover,
under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control,
directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio,
education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite
impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions
and to make intelligent use of his political rights.

The situation prevailing in an economy based on the private ownership of
capital is thus characterized by two main principles: first, means of
production (capital) are privately owned and the owners dispose of them as
they see fit; second, the labor contract is free. Of course, there is no
such thing as a pure capitalist society in this sense. In particular, it
should be noted that the workers, through long and bitter political
struggles, have succeeded in securing a somewhat improved form of the
"free labor contract" for certain categories of workers. But taken as a
whole, the present day economy does not differ much from "pure"

Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision
that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to
find employment; an "army of unemployed" almost always exists. The worker
is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid
workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers'
goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence. Technological
progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing
of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with
competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the
accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe
depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to
that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I
mentioned before.

This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our
whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated
competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to
worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.

I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils,
namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an
educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an
economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are
utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production
to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among
all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man,
woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to
promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a
sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification
of power and success in our present society.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not
yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the
complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism
requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political
problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization
of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming
all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be
protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of
bureaucracy be assured?

Clarity about the aims and problems of socialism is of greatest
significance in our age of transition. Since, under present circumstances,
free and unhindered discussion of these problems has come under a powerful
taboo, I consider the foundation of this magazine to be an important
public service.


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