Progressive Calendar 10.21.09
From: David Shove (
Date: Wed, 21 Oct 2009 00:34:08 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   10.21.09

1. AlliantACTION     10.21 7am
2, StP ranked voting 10.21 11am
3. Org Rtable/lobby  10.21 12noon
4. IRV vs plurality  10.21 6pm
5. Harcus DVD/Capri  10.21 6:30pm
6. Mayor forum???    10.21 6:30pm ???

7. Eagan peace vigil 10.22 4:30pm
8. Northtown vigil   10.22 5pm
9. Vs cop brutality  10.22 5pm
10. Education/NAACP  10.22 6pm
11. Intl snacks/eat  10.22 7pm
12. AWC new members  10.22 7pm
13. Rainforest film  10.22 7pm

14. Mark Brenner     - Pensions: the next casualty of Wall Street
15. Robyn Blumner    - Americans, their smiley-face facade, and reality
16. Kevin Zeese      - Can Dems avoid a populist health care rebellion?
17. Petras/Veltmeyer - Imperial globalization & social movements in LatAm
18. ed               - More hope than you can shake a stick at

--------1 of 18--------

From: AlliantACTION <alliantaction [at]>
Subject: AlliantACTION 10.21 7am

Join us Wednesday morning, 7-8 am
Now in our 14th year of consecutive Wednesday
morning vigils outside Alliant Techsystems,
7480 Flying Cloud Drive Eden Prairie.
We ask Who Profit$? Who Dies?
directions and lots of info:

--------2 of 18--------

From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at]>
Subject: StP ranked voting 10.21 11am

KFAI - 90.3FM-Minneapolis/106.7FM Saint Paul

Like Minneapolis in 2006, enough Saint Paul residents signed petitions to
place a Charter amendment on the General Election ballot asking voters to
approve a new Instant Runoff Voting (Ranked Choice Voting)  system for
city elections. Unlike Minneapolis, St. Paul's City Council, armed with a
City Attorney's opinion allowing it to deny access to the ballot until the
question of the system's constitutionality was settled, initially refused
to follow the will of the signatories while they waited for the outcome of
a court case challenging the Minneapolis system. The district court,
finally affirmed by the Minnesota Supreme Court, upheld the system's
constitutionality - and the St. Paul Council was then forced by law to
place the question on this year's General Election ballot. In MInneapolis,
the City Council supports the idea; in St. Paul, a majority of its
councilmembers does not.

Meanwhile, for the first time in its history, Minneapolis had no need for
a primary election this year; across the river while St. Paul's September
primary drew less than 5% of eligible voters, a turnout figure cited by
RCV/IRV supporters as one of the reasons to conflate city elections into
one general election and allow all candidates to compete on a single

TTT's ANDY DRISCOLL and LYNNELL MICKELSEN will query advocates on both
sides of St. Paul's campaign to determine if St. Paul voters should or
should not go the way of Minneapolis and approve its Ranked Choice Voting

 KATHY LANTRY - President, St. Paul's City Council
 JEANNE MASSEY - Executive Director, FairVote Minnesota - parent of Better
Ballot St. Paul
 CHUCK REPKE - Co-chair, No Bad Ballots Committee - a Saint Paul group
opposing IRV.
 RACHEL SMITH - Program Director, Excellence in Election Administration,
Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, Humphrey Institute of
Public Affairs
 AND YOU! CALL 612-341-0980 and Talk to Us! Can't get us on the
radio? *Stream us LIVE and LATER at

[RCV might mean that the DFL might not win all 7 seats all the time.
This upsets and angers top DFLers, who see StPaul as made by god and
nature and reason etc for DFL incumbents and party hacks. As they see it,
if you want someone from some other party to be in your city government,
MOVE. Given this attitude, it is time citizens kicked some of them out and
made the rest of them humble and justly afraid of the voters. RCV will
help in this process. -ed]

--------3 of 18--------

From: Joan Vanhala <joan [at]>
Subject: Org Roundtable/lobby 10.21 12noon

Alliance for Metropolitan Stability
Organizer Roundtable: Lobbying for Policy Decisions with Community

Whether at the city council, county or state legislature, lobbying for
public policy often becomes an essential component of an organizing
campaign. Many lasting wins on campaigns are based in policy change - but
how do the worlds of lobbying and grassroots organizing interact? What are
the strengths and challenges of combining the two approaches?

Organizer Roundtable: Lobbying for Policy Decisions with Community
Noon - 1:30 pm Wednesday, October 21 Alliance for Metropolitan Stability,

Experienced in lobbying for public policy that is rooted in a community
campaign, our presenters will discuss their strategies for advocating for
public policy change. Come join in a lively discussion with other
advocates and organizers.

 Jeff Bauer, Family & Children's Service director of public policy and
civic engagement
 Michelle Rosier, Sierra Club Central Region senior regional organizing
 Rosa Tock, Minnesota Chicano Latino Affairs Council interim director

This event is free, but registration is required. Light snacks will be

Joan Vanhala Coalition Organizer Alliance for Metropolitan Stability 2525
E Franklin Avenue, Suite 200 Minneapolis, MN 55406 612-332-4471
joan [at]

--------4 of 18--------

From: Diane J. Peterson <birch7 [at]>
Subject: IRV vs plurality 10.21 6pm

St. Paul Charter Amendment Would Change the Way We Vote

An item on the November 3 St. Paul Election ballot will ask voters whether
they would prefer to change from the current election system, where the
voter selects a single candidate, to one where candidates would be ranked
in order of preference.

The League of Women Voters St. Paul has scheduled a public forum to
present the pros and cons of this proposal. The forum is free and open to
the public.

Instant Runoff Voting vs. Plurality Voting
Wednesday, October 21
6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
Hamline University School of Law, 1536 Hewitt Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104

 *  Jaclyn Schroeder, LWVMN, Moderator
 *  Rachel Smith, Program Director, Excellence in Election
    Administration, Center for the Study of Politics and Governance,
    Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
 *  Ellen Brown, Coordinator, St. Paul Better Ballot Campaign
 *  Chuck Repke, Co-Chair, No Bad Ballots Campaign [anti-IRV DFL boss]

Parking is available in any of the Hamline University lots after 4:00
p.m. without a permit, except in reserved spaces.

The wording on the ballot is as follows:  "Shall Chapter 7 of the City
Charter be amended to require that the method for electing the Mayor and
City Council members be by Single Transferable Voting, sometimes known as
Ranked Choice Voting or Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), which is a method
without a separate Primary election by which voters rank candidates for an
office in order of preference on a single ballot: first, second, third,
fourth, fifth, sixth, and so on; and votes are then counted in rounds
until one candidate emerges with a majority of votes cast; and with ballot
format and rules for counting votes adopted by ordinance?"

The League of Women Voters of St. Paul is a non-partisan organization that
encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in
government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues,
and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

For more information, please contact Bobbi Megard at <rmegard [at]> or
(651) 646-3827. For more information on the League of Women Voters of St.
Paul, please visit:

--------5 of 18--------

From: Marcus Harcus City Council Committee <marcus [at]>
Subject: Harcus DVD/Capri 10.21 6:30pm

Please join me for the premier screening of my promotional campaign DVD on
Wednesday October 21st, 2009 6:30pm - 8:30pm at the Capri Theatre in North
Minneapolis - 2027 W Broadway Ave, 55411.

The DVD will be distributed to campaign supporters as a tool to mobilize
additional support from their networks.  I'll also make a campaign
presentation, facilitate Q & A, socialize and provide musical
entertainment - DJ sound selections and/or live musician(s) tba.

Election Day is November 3rd, very soon - it's less than a month away!  I
need your support either financially, and/or through volunteering.

612.600.0155 marcus [at] P.O. Box 11751 Mpls, MN 55411
Join this campaign for Northside Change:

--------6 of 18--------

Date: Wed, 14 Oct 2009 09:26:45 -0400 (EDT)
From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Mayor forum??? 10.21 6:30pm   ???

October 21: League of Women Voters Minneapolis Mayoral Candidate Forum.
Downtown Library. 6:30 - 8:00 PM at the Minneapolis Downtown Library.

source: Your E-Consortium Note for October 14
Minnesota Women's Consortium | 550 Rice Street | Saint Paul | MN | 55103

[Will there be a mayor forum? There should be. There are 11 candidates,
and at least several serious challengers. The Mn Women's Consortium on Oct
14 listed it. The LWV web today does not list it. The LWV is doing forums
in many of the wards. It would be a real service to do it for the city re
the mayor's race.
 Well, in the past, the LWV has let itself be pressured by major party
candidates - eg, if one major party candidate says he won't come if third
party candidates are there, LWV has sometimes either caved or called it
off, leading some people to rename it the League of DFL Women Voters.
 RT is playing a "Rose Garden" strategy - no debates, pretend there is no
real race, pretend there is no election, and expect that the uninformed
voters will vote for good old RT. Has the LWV caved to RT? A good way to
prove not is to have a forum, WHETHER RT COMES OR NOT.
 Call the LWV and ask why not. Don't be satisfied with a "well you know"
kind of answer. Why support the LWV if it won't demand open forums at
every level they deal with???  -ed]

--------7 of 18--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 10.22 4:30pm

PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest corner of
Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs and
candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends south
of the river speaking out against war.

--------8 of 18--------

From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 10.22 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy
10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine.

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

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at]

--------9 of 18--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: Vs cop brutality 10.22 5pm

Thursday, October 22, 5:00 p.m.
Rally at Loring Park (exact location to be announced)
March to homeless shelters and other areas strongly impacted by police

We're in a time when more people are becoming homeless daily through the
crooked collusion of banksters and politicians.  Yet, homeless people are
more under the boot of police repression than ever.

Why are law enforcement agencies brutally enforcing private contracts such
as foreclosures and evictions?  Why are homeless people facing harassment,
false charges and worse on a daily basis?  Why were seven people
brutalized and arrested for standing with Rosemary Williams and fighting
her eviction?  It's not a crime to be poor and it's not a crime to stand
with poor people.

Join us for a rally and march to demand an end to attacks on homeless and
low income people, people of color and all others who face police state
repression.  Stand up!  Fight back!

[Cop brutality = ruling class brutality. Cop brutality wouldn't last one
second beyond ruling class direction to stop. The ruling class loves
brutality to the peasants (us) and the cops know it and revel in it. When
cops put us down, they must imagine their betters are smiling and saying
Smack him one for me! And they are. Cf the RNC here, and Pittsburg G20
recently. -ed]

--------10 of 18--------

From: Sarah Younus <sarah.younus [at]>
Subject: Education/NAACP 10.22 6pm

Pierre Bottineau Library
55 Broadway St NE Minneapolis, 55413
Thursday 10/22/2009 6PM to 7:30PM
Panel Discussion w/ Minneapolis NAACP

Where did the $8.6 million of SES dollars go?
Where did the Compensatory Education Dollars go?
Where did the Title I Behavior dollars go?
And where did the Referendum Dollars go?

Sponsored by the African American Community Alliance.
Contact Sarah Younus at sarah.younus [at] for more information.

--------11 of 18--------

From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at]>
From: Beth Nelson <schre002 [at] UMN.EDU>
Subject: Intl snacks/eat 10.22 7pm

U of M Bell Museum kicks off Thursday evening Hungry Planet programs with
International Snack Food Tasting Oct. 22

Contacts: Nina Shepherd, Bell Museum, (612) 624-7389, sheph001 [at]
Patty Mattern, University News Service, (612) 624-2801, mattern [at]

>From potato chips to Pocky, culturally significant snack foods from around
the world will be featured at the opening reception of the new exhibit
"Hungry Planet: What the World Eats" at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct.  22 at the
University of Minnesota Bell Museum of Natural History, 10 Church St.
S.E., Minneapolis.

The International Snack Food Tasting event marks the start of 29 weeks of
Thursday evening programming on the topic of food. Thursday events will
explore a range of food-related topics, from lectures on the anthropology
of table manners and exhibit walkabouts on food and culture to tastings of
local produce and films like "Julie and Julia."  Thursday evening
programming is free with museum admission.

The "Hungry Planet" exhibit is a colorful examination of the issues of
food in the 21st century -- what people around the world eat, how much it
costs and where it comes from. Based on the bestselling book by Peter
Menzel and Faith D'Alusio, Hungry Planet focuses on 10 cultures, many with
ties to Minnesota, and lets visitors "shop" for global produce from world
markets and track that food as it travels from field to fork. The exhibit
features special sections on the rise of fast food culture, the evolution
and history of food plants, current and ancient agricultural methods and
the practice of raising and eating meat.

Thursday evening programming is free with museum admission. For a complete
listing of Thursday night events, visit

The Bell Museum is part of the university's College of Food, Agricultural
and Natural Resource Sciences. More than a half a million Minnesotans are
reached each year by programs operated by the Bell Museum, which is
Minnesota's official natural history museum.

--------12 of 18--------

From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at]>
Subject: AWC new members 10.22 7pm

New Members Meeting
Thursday, October 22nd @ 7pm @ Anti War Committee Office, 1313 5th St. SE,
Mpls, room 112c
Come help organize against the war on Afghanistan.  Come to an Anti-War
Committee meeting designed for new people!

--------13 of 18--------

From: Carrie Anne Johnson <greenwarriorbunny [at]>
Subject: Rainforest film 10.22 7pm

Thursday Oct. 22: Film screening: Green: 7-9pm. U of MN campus
Green, an award-winning documentary. Directed by Patrick Rouxel

Green tells a moving story about the corporate conversion of rainforests
in Indonesia for palm oil, tropical wood and paper through the eyes of one
of the industry's victims - a dying orangutan. As you may already know,
almost 90% of orangutan habitat has already disappeared. If current trends
of deforestation continue, the orangutan could be extinct in the near
future. Both of RAN's Forest campaigns are focusing on issues shown in
this film - deforestation, pulp and paper and oil palm plantations.

Q&A to follow the film, Refreshments Provided

Co-sponsored by Rainforest Action Network- Twin Cities, Green Biz, &

Please come see this important film with other local organizers and
concerned citizens to learn more about how to get involved with
Rainforest Action Network in the Twin Cities to stop Cargill from
destroying rainforests to grow palm oil.

Confirmed University of Minnesota location will be posted at Please RSVP
if you are on facebook. More links are on this site as well!

--------14 of 18--------

Uncomfortable Arithmetic
Pensions: the Next Casualty of Wall Street
October 20, 2009

Nobody wants to admit it, but the next casualty of the Wall Street
meltdown will probably be your golden years. For years corporations have
been trying to choke the life out of traditional pensions, working hard to
get out from under the risk - and the costof - providing for their
retirees.  Between last year's credit crunch and changes to federal
pension laws, they may get their wish.

Nearly $4 trillion worth of retirement savings were wiped out in the first
weeks of the 2008 financial freefall. Half of the drop was concentrated in
traditional pension plans, also known as defined-benefit plans. While most
workers in these plans haven't had their monthly benefits cut, unlike the
46 million people riding the stock market with 401(k) defined-contribution
plans, the storm clouds are gathering.

Labor needs a strategy to protect what we've won. But holding our ground
requires moving from defense to offense. If the pension crisis is going to
be solved for union members, it has to be solved for everyone.


Even before the financial crisis, traditional pensions were a vanishing
breed. Thirty years ago more than a third of the private sector workforce
had traditional pensions. Last year that number was down to 16 percent.

Driving the decline were employers looking to get off cheap, eliminating
pensions entirely when they could get away with it, and when they
couldn't, shifting to 401(k)s. These programs were legalized in 1978 and
were originally designed to supplement traditional pensions. Now they're
choking them out like kudzu.

Corporations got a great deal, paying about half what they used to towards
their workers' retirement by the '90s. Even more importantas - anyone who
has opened their 401(k) statement recently can attest - the move shifted
risk off companies and onto us.

Traditional pensions were a collective solution to a collective problem.
Young and old contributing together smoothed out insecurity for all. Now
it's just you and the stock market - with far less in your pocket.

Even before the crash, studies showed that 401(k)s leave workers with 10
to 33 percent of what traditional pensions provide. Given the 30-year
squeeze on wages, most people haven't saved much either, which explains
why more than half of all 401(k) participants have less than $75,000 when
they retire.

                         WHAT'S IN STORE?

Even for those with superior defined-benefit plans, the last 20 years have
been rocky. Companies spent much of the 1990s gaming the system, siphoning
off pension funds to pad the bottom line.

At the start of this year the nation's defined-benefit pension plans had
only about 75 percent of what they owed participants. Companies may need
to contribute as much as $100 billion to cover these gaps.

Although Congress waived compliance with new pension rules this year (see
page 9), the law will eventually take effect, and will force employers to
cover these pension gaps. Rather than clean up their act, more and more
employers are looking for the exit. By April of this year nearly a third
of America's largest companies had frozen their pension plans.

Many others are invoking the nuclear option, declaring bankruptcy as a way
to unload their pension plans on the taxpayers. Unfortunately, the Pension
Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), established in 1975 to backstop
private sector pensions, is already reeling from a decade of high-profile
and expensive pension defaults at companies like United Airlines and
steelmaker LTV.

Nine of the 10 largest pension defaults in history occurred since 2000,
leaving the PBGC with a deficit of $11 billion at the end of 2008. That
gap could swell to more than $100 billion over the next few years,
amounting to a backdoor bailout for big corporations, and a bitter pill
for abandoned retirees.

Workers at Republic Steel saw first hand how it works when they had their
pensions cut by $1,000 a month in 2002 by the PBGC and then cut again in
2004. Five workers from the Lorain, Ohio, plant committed suicide after
the first time their pension was diminished. In the second round of cuts,
retirees like Bruce Bostick, former grievance chair for USW Local 1104,
saw their retirements fall from $1,047 a month to $125.

The situation for public sector workers isn't much better. Although 80
percent of public employees have traditional pensions, those benefits are
now in the cross-hairs of conservative and liberal politicians. Two-thirds
of public sector pension plans are underfundedto - the tune of $430
billion - and state and local budget crises are pitting taxpayers against
public employees from California to Maine.

                      ANCHORING RETIREMENT

For nearly 20 years the various financial bubbles - from the dot-com
frenzy of the 1990s to the recent housing market run-up - papered over the
urgent need to address the faltering retirement system.

Wall Street's collapse last year revealed how the current patchwork of
retirement plans is failing almost everyone. As with health benefits,
union workers with stable pensions increasingly find themselves on an
island of security in a sea of uncertainty. But the water is rising

As the debate over the auto bailout and state budget crises revealed,
defending your own decent pension is tough work when half the workers in
the country don't have any retirement at all.

The PBGC - which has been swimming in red ink since 2002 - is currently
set up to pay less than half of what people were promised. If the funding
gaps widen, it could fall to pennies on the dollar.

There will be calls to bail the PBGC out - which needs to happen - 1.2
million people now depend on it. A sensible demand is to make it function
more like the FDIC, by guaranteeing 100 percent of pension benefits up to
a reasonable threshold.

But reform can't stop there.

If it does, workers are on the same path as before the economic collapse,
with a temporary reprieve. Employers will still seek to drive union
workers down to non-union standards and dump more risk onto individuals.

We need to return to the original vision of Social Security: a program
that (like in Western European nations) can actually pay for most of your
old-age living expenses.

Mark Brenner writes for Labor Notes, where this article originally

[Skyler J Morgenfeller needs your pension to add a longer third yacht to
his collection. We're sure you understand and wish Skyler well. He is much
too busy to correspond with you; just send the money. His men know where
you live. -ed]

--------15 of 18--------

Americans, Their Smiley-Face Facade, and Reality
by Robyn Blumner
The Salt Lake Tribune
Common Dreams
Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Whenever I think of the smiley-face icon, I think of Wal-Mart because of
its once-ubiquitous ad campaign. And when I think of Wal-Mart, I think of
crappy wages and insecure employees who probably live paycheck to
paycheck. That metaphor - the happy face fronting a world of worry - is
the subject of a new book, Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of
Positive Thinking has Undermined America, by social commentator Barbara

Ehrenreich's bout with breast cancer and the cloying "pink ribbon culture"
that surrounds this dreaded disease (she was urged to see her cancer as a
"gift") made her explore our cultural obsession with being happy. The
book's point is that realism is being elbowed out of the way by all the
life coaches, self-help books and prosperity gospel preachers like Joel
Osteen who tell us that a positive outlook will lead to success, riches
and the fulfillment of all of life's desires. These heaping helpings of
sunny optimism are subtly diverting us from grappling with serious social
and economic issues in ways that can truly bring about change.

The Secret became a runaway best-seller by telling readers that they could
have anything they wanted just by imagining it. The book was obviously
unadulterated bunk, but it sold madly as people grasped at any chance to
better their lives.

One has to wonder if such magical thinking would have been so popular if
people felt they had temporal power to change the conditions of their work
and prospects.

The reason that so many Americans have jobs that don't pay enough is not
that they didn't channel enough positive energy into getting a better
salary, but that wages have been stagnant for 30 years. And the reason
that wages have barely budged is that America's wealthiest households just
kept slicing themselves a larger piece of the income pie.

Between 1979 and 2007, the top 1 percent of American households saw their
share of all pretax income nearly double, while the bottom 80 percent had
their share fall by 7 percent. Ehrenreich quotes The New York Times,
saying, "It's as if every household in the bottom 80 percent is writing a
check for $7,000 every year and sending it to the top 1 percent."

Every working stiff in the bottom 80 percent should be outraged and
politically motivated to force change. But if everyone is convinced of the
convenient nostrum that our own attitude controls how much we are paid,
then workers won't band together to demand a larger share of our national

This positive-thinking message is a kind of opiate that has been
particularly effective on the white-collar corporate workforce. Ehrenreich
documents how corporations hire motivational speakers to convince laid-off
workers that their job loss is "an opportunity for self-transformation."
Somehow, she says, white-collar workers have accepted positive thinking as
a "belief system" that says a person can be "infinitely powerful, if only
they could master their own minds."

On the surface, prosperity gospels and positive-thinking companies appear
harmless with their treacly "Successories products" of posters and coffee
mugs, but they have subversively helped make each of us an island. They
have convinced Americans that each individual has control and power over
the conditions of their life, when that is largely not the case. Access to
decent health care at a reasonable price is not a matter of individual
effort. Neither is securing decent wages, pensions, safe working
conditions or job security. Workers demanded those rights through
collective action in the 20th century, and we are losing them now by
taking an "every man for himself" approach to work.

The ultimate irony is that even with the booming positive-thinking
industry, Americans are not among the happiest people.

International surveys put us behind places such as Denmark and
Switzerland, where the social safety net is stronger.

It seems that happy thoughts don't alter the reality of American life,
with all its attendant risks to middle-class living standards. Behind the
smiley-face facade, we are privately worried, and we have reason to be.

 2009 Salt Lake Tribune

--------16 of 18--------

Can the Democrats Avoid a Populist Health Care Rebellion?
by Kevin Zeese
October 20th, 2009
Dissident Voice

The insurance industry is the major problem in health care and Americans
know it, but the Democrats are on the verge of forcing Americans to buy
insurance while failing to solve America's health care crisis. It is a
prescription for electoral, economic and health care disaster.

The leadership of the Democratic Party is on the verge of passing health
insurance reform. The centerpiece of the "reform" is requiring Americans
to buy overpriced insurance from private corporations. But, it is evident
that many in the Democratic voting base see the insurance industry as the
problem - not the solution - and are getting angry about a new law that
will force people to buy from corporations they don't trust.

Just a few weeks ago the Mobilization for Health Care for All was
announced. The Mobilization focuses on the denial of doctor-recommended
care by the insurance industry. Sit-ins were planned at health insurance
companies with demands that insurance corporations stop the denials. The
Mobilization sought 100 people willing to sit-in at insurance corporations
and risk arrest as people sat in at lunch counters two generations ago.

The response has been explosive, nearly 800 have signed up to risk arrest
and thousands have signed up to join the protests. In the last 20 days 78
people have been arrested protesting the real death panels - the private
insurance industry - who according to a California study deny doctor
recommended care 20% of the time.

The Mobilization hoped to have "patients not profits sit-ins" in three
cities last week, and instead it had them in nine cities. On the next
Mobilization day, October 28th, there is likely to be twice as many cities
protesting the insurance industry - just as Congress considers forcing
Americans to buy insurance. This may be developing into the largest
campaign of non-violent civil resistance since the Civil Rights era.

Many of the protesters supported Obama and were active in Democratic
campaigns. Does the Democratic Party think that people willing to risk
arrest against the corruption of the insurance industry will support
Democratic candidates with time, money and votes who force them to buy
insurance from these corporations?

These are protests the Democratic Party should not ignore. At the
Washington, DC mobilization one woman, Linda from Annapolis, spoke to
president Obama, said she had helped him get elected in part because he
promised real change in health care. She still wants him to come through
but reminded him - "we elected you, we can un-elect you". Linda reflects
the view of many Democratic Party activists who are angry at the
pro-insurance bill being pushed by Congressional leaders.

As people come to understand the reform bill, which began as health "care"
reform but devolved into health "insurance" reform, the anger will grow -
not just from the right, but from the Democratic voting base who voted for
the hope of real reform, not more of the corporate-dominated Washington,
DC non-solutions to problems Americans face every day.

Indeed, Americans of all stripes will be angry. At the Washington, DC
mobilization police allowed the sit-in to occur, despite it being illegal,
and refused to arrest the participants. We later found out that the police
had to make wage concessions to keep their health care. And, when I was
arrested protesting the Senate Finance Committee hearing dominated by the
insurance industry, one officer told me about his mother who had lost her
job, was too young for Medicare and could not afford COBRA payments. The
abuse of insurance affects all Americans and they will not be happy being
forced to feed corporate gluttonous greed.

Why will Americans hate this "reform?"

First, this unnecessarily complex plan will not achieve any of the goals
originally set. It will not cover all Americans, indeed tens of millions
will be left without insurance ten years after it is enacted. And, it will
not control costs as the insurance industry has said that their already
too expensive premiums will increase by 111% in the next decade under

Second, few Americans will benefit from the plan. In fact, the greatest
beneficiary will be the insurance industry and other health care
profiteers. Every ten million people forced to buy insurance by the
government will give the industry $100 billion in new revenue - at current
insurance rates. With 50 million uninsured that is potentially hundreds of
billions in new revenue. In other words, the corporations that are the
root of the problem will get rich off of the income of working Americans.
This at a time when American salaries are stagnating, debts are high,
costs are going up and there is constant fear of unemployment and
bankruptcy. Further, those who have insurance but do not like their
insurance plans will not be given any choice under the "reform". They will
be stuck with their current, overpriced insurance with rising premiums,
co-pays and out of pocket expenses. This is a recipe for populist
rebellion, but it does not stop there.

The plan does not create affordable health care. Families earning $90,000
will find themselves paying 20% of their income on health insurance. And,
the subsidies for poor and working Americans will be insufficient. The
leading source of increased poverty is America's working poor. How can
these working families afford to buy insurance - even if they are forced
to by the government - when they cannot even put food on the table?
Americans will ask - why are struggling workers being forced to pay the
$10 million salaries of insurance executives?

By the time most of this plan takes effect in 2013, the year after the
next presidential election, insurance premiums will have increased by 20%
to 25%. During the election year, Americans will be looking toward 2013
and seeing increased insurance costs and realizing they will be forced to
buy overpriced insurance at the threat of increased taxes. Because of the
lack of cost controls and the increased insurance requirements, e.g., like
requiring acceptance of people with pre-existing conditions and putting no
limits on lifetime benefits, the insurance industry will be increasing
rates even more quickly. The failure of "reform" will become evident
before it takes effect.

The increased costs of health insurance will affect all businesses small
and large. In a "recovery" that is already not producing jobs, these costs
will ensure a jobless recovery. The failure to create jobs will be a
rallying cry against the Obama economic and health care plans. Democrats
should be concerned because Americans traditionally vote based on their
wallet more than any other issue.

In fact, bottom line business people and others who can do the math,
realize that the U.S. spends double per person than dozens of better rated
health care systems in Europe and Asia. If the U.S. merely adopted any of
these plans (almost all variations on single payer) we would save $4,000
per person EVERY YEAR. That is a savings of $1.2 trillion every year - a
huge recurring stimulus with savings flowing to businesses and others who
pay some or all of their health insurance. Quickly thereafter goods made
domestically would be competitive again, companies would have faith in a
better future and hire employees again, and America would break the
stranglehold of corporate-government. None of this will happen under the
Democratic "reform" because the waste, fraud and abuse of the insurance
industry will continue.

During the next four years the Republicans will use the Democratic
"reform" as a political punching bag. The plans to cut Medicare by
hundreds of billions of dollars based on increased efficiency will
frighten senior citizens. The bureaucracy being put in place by the
"reform" will be evident to all. The complexity of the law will include
federal rules on what employer-based insurance plans are "qualified". All
Americans will see new income tax forms for the individual mandate and to
determine income eligibility for insurance subsidies. The new federal
insurance bureaucracy will be ridiculed by the Republicans.

Labor unions will see good health insurance coverage they fought years to
get for their members disappearing as taxes on their plans go into effect.
These high taxes are likely to cause employers to cut back on the
derisively labeled "Cadillac" plans, which are really the kinds of health
coverage all Americans should have. The result: more people will be
uninsured by employers and forced to buy health insurance on their own, or
more working Americans will find themselves joining the large pool of tens
of millions of Americans who are underinsured. Reform will make the
problems worse for these Americans.

The problem of insurance companies denying care recommended by a doctor is
likely to get worse under "reform". A recent study in California found
that insurance company denials can occur in up to 40% of cases with some
insurance companies. Congress could fix the problem by giving consumers
the power to sue insurance companies for denial of care. But, despite
lobbying by consumer advocates, they refused to do so. The industry has
few ways to control costs so experts predict that there will be increases
in denial of care. "There are going to be a lot of denials," said
insurance industry analyst Robert Laszewski, a former health insurance
executive, told the Los Angeles Times. Denial of care is the issue the
Mobilization for Health Care is protesting.

During the four years it takes to put the "reform" into place, more than
100,000 Americans will die each year from preventable illness. That is the
current rate of annual preventable deaths, something the U.S. leads all
developed nations in, and it will not slow when Obama signs the
pro-insurance reform bill. Will the Congress close its eyes and watch
400,000 Americans die during Obama's first term? Or, will it do the
obvious and open up Medicare to all during this period of transition? The
Democrats paymasters in the insurance industry will urge them to quietly
let Americans die so people do not experience that Medicare, America's
single payer system, works.

And, those who were shut out of the process of developing real health care
reform - the majority of Americans who favor a single payer, improved
"Medicare for All," national health system - will keep organizing. The
Mobilization for Health Care for All, will be one of example of many.
Those shut out will fight back and keep pointing out how simple and
efficient the reform could have been. How the Democrats could have reduced
bureaucracy instead of increased it, helped the economy rather than hurt
it and made sure every dollar went to health care rather than 31% of
spending going to insurance industry profits and the bureaucracy the
insurance industry creates. The already popular single payer system, which
Obama himself used to support, will become even more popular. The control
of the Democratic Party by big business interests will become evermore
evident and "reform" will be understood as a multi-hundred billon dollar
corporate giveaway.

The Democrats, like generals so often do, are fighting the last war. The
Clinton experience taught them that failure to pass health care reform
cost them elections. The Obama administration experience will teach them
that passing legislation that is only good for the insurance industry will
cost them elections and could cost Obama a second term. A bad bill will be
worse than no bill, will be the new lesson.

Americans voted for Obama who said in 2005 that the country would get
single payer when the Democrats won back the House, Senate and Presidency.
They even prefer the Obama of the presidential campaign who promised
health care for all and opposed insurance mandates. They want the Obama
they supported to return and put their interests ahead of insurance
company profits.

Simply expanding and improving Medicare so it covers all Americans is the
only way to avert this populist revolt. Will the Democratic leadership
recognize this and change course or will they steer themselves into a
disaster in order to satisfy their big donors in the insurance industry?
There is a single payer bill, HR 676, in the House that will be voted on
when Rep. Weiner introduces it on the House Floor. Let's hope for the sake
of all Americans that the Democratic Party leadership wakes up and puts
the necessities of the American people before the profits of their donors.
They still have time.

Kevin Zeese is the executive director of the Campaign for Fresh Air &
Clean Politics whose projects include VotersForPeace.US,
ProsperityAgenda.US, and TrueVote.US. He is also
a member of the board of Velvet Revolution. Read other articles by Kevin,
or visit Kevin's website.

[My prediction: The Dems will do their usual worst. Vast numbers of people
will be their most outraged ever. Angry demos in front of insurance
companies, and nation-wide general strikes. A good time for a party to
replace the Dems. -ed]

--------17 of 18--------

Imperial Globalization and Social Movements in Latin America
by James Petras and Henry Veltmeyer
October 16th, 2009
Dissident Voice

The unimpeded growth of Euro-American capitalism following the collapse of
Soviet and European communism, the conversion of China and Indochina to
state capitalism, and the rise of US backed, free-market military
dictatorships in Latin America give new impetus to Western empire
building, labeled "globalization".

The process of globalization was the result of "external" and "internal"
conditions and class coalitions embedded in the social structure of both
the imperial and "recipient" or targeted countries. The expansion of
capital was neither a linear process or continual expansion (accumulation)
nor of sustained collaboration by the targeted countries. Crises in the
imperial centers and regime transformations in collaborator regimes
affected the flow of capital, trade, rules and regulations.

One of the unintended consequences of the ascendancy of global ruling
classes was the rise of large scale and tumultuous social movements,
especially in Latin America, which challenged the rulers, ideology and
institutions sustaining the global empire.

The relations between imperial globalization and social movements are
complex, changing and subject to reversals or advances. This study, with
its focus on Latin America, addresses several hypotheses exploring the
relation of globalization and social movement over a thirty-five year
period: from the onset of the free market doctrine which is the motor
force of globalization (1975) to the present 2010. This time frame
provides us with a sufficient period to observe the long term operations
of global capital and the historical trajectories of social movements. By
including Latin America as a whole, we incorporate an entire continent and
lessen the possibility of idiosyncratic developments specific to a single

Our inquiry is guided by a specific set of hypothesis that will be tested
through a historical analysis of global economic tendencies and the
trajectory of social movements. We will proceed by providing a brief
overview of the dynamics of globalization and the growth of social
movements in Latin America and then proceed to specify our key hypothesis
regarding the relationships between globalization and social movements.

             Globalization: Class, State and Economy

The onset of a new and dynamic phase of imperial capital expansion, which
we will call globalization, owes a great deal to the favorable political
outcome of the capital - labor struggle on a world scale. The defeat and
retreat of the working class in the West, particularly in the US and
England, and the self-destruction of the Communist regimes of the East
laid the groundwork for an aggressive global crusade against leftwing
regimes and movements in the Third World, especially in Latin America. The
"rollback" of the working class movements was particularly vicious and
successful in Latin America, where the major part of the continent
experienced the onset of military dictatorship, which dismantled the
national constraints on capitalist flows and trade tariffs.

Within this new global framework of imperial empire builders and
authoritarian collaborator regimes, several factors enhanced global
economic expansion.

   1. Technological innovations, especially information technologies
accelerated the flows of capital and commodities.
   2. Large scale accumulation of capital in the imperial states, a
relative decline in rates of profits and the growing role of finance
capital spurred the drive for overseas investments, speculation and
buyouts of privatized firms.
   3. Intensified competition between the US-EU-Asia drove MNC to seek
advantages by securing banks, resources; market shares within Latin
   4. The rise of pro-western rightist dictatorships provided
exceptionally favorable socio-economic conditions for buyouts and
acquisitions of local enterprises and resources, extraordinary returns on
financial speculation and minimum opposition from repressed trade unions
and nationalist and leftist parties.

As a consequence of these structural changes, free-market doctrines and
neo-liberal policies were put in practice resulting in bilateral free
trade agreements (NAFTA), and deregulation of the economies. The growth of
speculative activity took root and prospered, at the same time that social
safety nets were dismantled.

After over two decades of highly polarized development and mediocre growth
the neo-liberal economies stagnated and went into crises: commodity prices
fell, the financial bubbles burst, large scale banking swindles
impoverished middle class depositors, investors were defrauded, leading to
a virtual economic collapse and mass unemployment. By the beginning years
of the new millennium, Latin America faced a systemic crisis in which
neo-liberal regimes were overthrown, social movements were in ascent and
economic bankruptcies were multiplying. Center-left parties and coalitions
were elected and moved to implement ameliorative measures which lessened
the impact of the crises. Stimulus packages were passed to revive the
economies. The vertical rise of agro-mineral prices in world market
facilitated economic recovery which lasted till the onset of the world
recession of 2008.

                        Social Movements

Growing out of the polarized growth, intensified exploitation of labor and
displacement of peasants and farm workers, endemic to free market
policies, social unrest spread in rural areas, especially among the
landless rural workers, peasants and Indian communities. A new generation
of militant leaders emerged, with a capacity to link local grievances to
national and international structural policies. By the early 1990s mass
movements took hold and launched a series of mass campaigns and
mobilizations which spread to the cities and engaged the growing mass of
unemployed urban workers, public sector employees and impoverished
downwardly mobile middle class business people and professionals.

The crises precipitated large scale uprisings led by the new social
movements, demanding systemic changes but settling for the election of
center-left regimes. The first decade of the 21st century witnesses the
ebb and flow of movement activity eventually settling into varying niches
in the new order presided over by the center-left regimes.

                          Key Hypothesis

The expansion of "globalization" or the imperial centered development
model was accompanied by the growth of mass social movements. This raises
the fundamental question of the relationship between the two processes. We
set out several hypotheses to explore the relationship.

   1. The greater the deregulations of the economy leads to the
acceleration of globalization and spurs the growth of the social
   2. The crises and breakdown of deregulated globalization leads to a
greater role and radicalism of the social movements up to and including
social upheavals overthrowing incumbent regimes.
   3. The stronger the regulatory regime controlling the globalizing
process the lesser the impact of the crises, the more moderate the
activities of the social movements and the less likely a popular
   4. The weaker the social safety net in time of crises the bigger the
social movements and the more radical their demands. Conversely, the
stronger the social safety net in time of crises the slower the growth of
the social movements and the more reformist their demands.
   5. Depressed world commodity prices are more likely to engender radical
social movements than periods of buoyant prices.

By combining our four principle variables into a single hypothesis on the
relation of globalization and social movements, we come up with the
following two propositions.

The optimal conditions for radical mass social movements occur when an
economy is highly deregulated, in times of financial crises and productive
recession, when commodity prices are depressed in the context of a weak
social safety net.

Conversely, radical mass social movements are less likely to emerge under
a highly regulated economy with a strong social safety net when world
commodity prices are rising and the economy is buoyant.

         Testing the Hypothesis: Latin America 1980-2010

Between 1980-1990, Latin America experienced a period of moderate growth
and stable world prices for its commodities. This was a period of major
dismantling of state regulations of the economy and weakening of the
social safety net. Yet there were not major social uprisings nor mass
social movements, except in Chile between 1985-1986, which ended with a US
backed political pact between the Pinochet dictatorships and the
Socialist-Christian Democratic parties and their subsequent ascent to
government in 1990.

During the first half of the 1990's world commodity prices declined to
historic lows, the social safety net continued to deteriorate; capitalist
profits soared in an orgy of privatizations and foreign takeovers, while
overall growth stagnated. Social movements grew, mass mobilization,
extended from the countryside to the cities but few popular rebellions

The period between the late 1990.s to the early 2000.s (roughly 1999-2003)
experienced a major socio-economic and political crisis, including
economic and financial crises in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela,
Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay. After over twenty years of free market policies
accompanying the globalization process, the social safety net was in
tatters. Commodity prices remained low and financial deregulation deepened
the vulnerability of the economies to the US recession.

Between 2000-2005, neo-liberal regimes were overthrown or replaced in
Argentina (3 regimes in 2 weeks) 2001-2002, Bolivia (2003, 2005) Ecuador
(2000, 2005), Peru, Uruguay, Brazil, Venezuela (coup regime 2002 lasted 48
hours). Social movements grew precipitously throughout the region and
their demands radicalized, including fundamental structural changes. The
Brazilian Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) led massive land
occupation movements throughout the country. Worker, peasant, Indian
uprisings in Bolivia ousted two incumbent electoral regimes. In Ecuador,
Indian-urban movements in coalitions overthrew an incumbent neo-liberal
regime in 2000 and a broad-based urban citizens movement ousted a corrupt
neo-liberal regime in 2005. In Argentina, a popular rebellion led by
unemployed workers impoverished middle class neighborhood organizations
ousted neo-liberal presidents and dominated politics throughout 2001-2003.
In Venezuela a mass popular mobilization with military allies ousted the
US backed business-military junta of April 2002 and restored President
Chavez to power.

The period between 2003-2008 witnessed a sharp rise in commodity prices to
record levels; the ascent of center-left regimes was accompanied by
capital controls and the partial restoration of the social safety net,
rapid economic recovery and relatively high growth. Social movements
receded, their demands focused on immediate reforms, mobilizations were
more infrequent and some of their key leaders were co-opted.

The period between 2008-2010 witnessed a sharp decline of growth,
reflecting the impact of the world recession and the decline of commodity
prices. While most countries entered a recession, the financial system did
not experience a collapse comparable to the earlier period (2000-2002), in
part because of the capital controls in place since the earlier part of
the decade. While unemployment grew and poverty levels increased, the
improved social net ameliorated the impact of the recession. The social
movements increased their activity and experienced mild growth but with
few if any direct challenges to state power, at least during the first two
years of an ongoing crises.


Our historical survey demonstrates that single factors such as
implantation of neo-liberal changes and deepening globalization in and of
themselves do not lead to the growth of massive, radical social movements:
witness the period of 1980-1990. Nor do low commodity prices a weak social
safety net and declining state revenues provoke popular uprisings and
radical mass social movements. Likewise an economic crisis, such as the
recession of 2008-2010 has not led to a resurgence of mass radical social
movements and popular rebellions.

Only when a combination of internal factors, such as a weak social safety
net and a deregulated economy and an external crisis such as a global
recession and declining world commodity prices do we have optional
conditions for the growth of dynamic mass radical social movements.

Writers who focus or start from a "world system" or other "globalist"
perspectives - in attempting to address the rise of social movements as a
function of the "operations" of the market fail to take account of the
internal political and social struggles and the resultant state social
polices as determining factors.

We should note that social movement rebellions do not suddenly occur
because all of the contingencies are in place. The social upheavals at the
end of the nineties and early half years of the new millennium had a
decade of gestation: organizing, accumulating social forces, creating
alliances with institutional dissidents - like radical church people - and
developing leaders and cadres. Economic crises, at best, were "trigger"
events which severely discredited the ruling class, undermined the
dominant "globalization" ideology, and allowed the movements to make a
qualitative leap from protest to political rebellion and regime change.

Finally though, it is not central to this paper, we should note that while
social movements at their height were able to oust incumbent neo-liberal
regimes, they were not able to take political power and revolutionize
society: to their upheavals allowed center-left politicians to come to
power. Ironically, once in power they passed sufficient social economic
reforms to fend off the re-radicalization of the movements when the world
economic crises struck again at the end of the first decade of this

James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton
University, New York. Henry Veltmeyer is Professor of International
Development Studies at Universidad Autnoma de Zacatecas, Mexico and St.
Mary's University, Canada.

--------18 of 18--------


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