As schools starve, Rahm Emanuel finds $5 million for hot dogs….July 10, 2013
On June 11 Mayor Emanuel officially recommended giving about $5 million to Vienna Beef to move its hot dog factory from the north side to Bridgeport. The mayor hailed it as a shrewd investment that will keep at least 250 jobs in Chicago for the next 15 years.
Three days later the mayor’s school board fired Eron Easter, a 34-year-old special education teacher in a high-poverty school in Humboldt Park. Easter was one of 850 Chicago Public Schools employees fired by the mayor when he closed 50 schools.
So if you’re keeping track on your scorecards at home, the mayor is down about 600 in the job-retention department for the last month—a fact you’ll never see him mention in any of the dozens of press releases he routinely sends out.
As you might expect, Vienna’s $5 million comes from the tax increment financing program. That’s the one in which you, the taxpayer, cough up more in property taxes in the name of things you want, like schools, so that the mayor has more to spend on things you don’t want.
Like $5 million for Vienna Beef.
Yet the Vienna Beef project is by no means the dumbest waste of TIF money I’ve seen through the years. In fact, I think I could concoct a plausible justification for it, if coerced.
Good job, Mr. Mayor! Every now and then you manage to do something almost right, even as you mess up everything else.
Feel free to use that as a slogan in your coming reelection campaign.
In the case of Vienna, it’s a “globally recognized manufacturer of hot dogs and other specialty food products, including corned beef, roast beef and soups,” according to a report by the city’s Department of Housing and Economic Development.
Since 1972, Vienna has operated out of a facility on the northeast corner of the very busy three-way intersection of Damen, Elston, and Fullerton.
The city is realigning Elston—moving it to the east—in order to unclog the traffic artery, so to speak. As part of that plan, the city will buy a portion of Vienna’s property.
So Vienna could stay and deal with all that traffic. Or it could get the hell out.
Since the company chose option two, we’ll give them the $5 million to buy a vacant factory—once owned by Sara Lee—at 1000 W. Pershing.
The project was praised at the June 11 meeting of the Community Development Commission, a mayoral advisory board, where a city planner noted that Vienna Beef “has been courted to relocate to other states.”
Hey, teachers, maybe the mayor will give you money if you threaten to move to Indiana.
"The relocation of this business would retain Vienna in the city and continue a long tradition of manufacturing its globally recognized product in Chicago," according to the city report.
The CDC voted to accept the mayor’s proposal to award the $5 million subsidy—and afterward Vienna passed out Polish sausages to everyone!
Not really. But it’s the least they could have done for the handout.
The City Council is expected to ratify the deal sometime in the next few months, since the council always ratifies the mayor’s deals.
The mayor says there are a number of benefits to the deal, including a provision that requires Vienna to employ at least 250 full-time employees.
Let’s hope someone in the city is keeping track, because no one did when TIF funds were handed out in the past to companies like Republic Windows and Doors, which took the money and ran out of town.
Moreover, the city’s report says the Vienna project will “expand the tax base because the investment in the property will result in an increase in its assessed value.”
That’s a compelling point—and exactly the opposite of what will happen with the mayor’s biggest TIF project, the DePaul basketball arena/hotel deal. In that case, Mayor Emanuel is planning to reduce the tax base by spending $55 million to buy taxable land and build a facility that’s tax exempt.
So much for the good news on the city’s job-retention front. Now for the bad news: those 850 CPS employees getting the ax, including about 600 teachers, according to the Chicago Teachers Union.
That figure doesn’t include dozens of teachers the mayor will be firing in the next few months thanks to various employee-reduction schemes.
Apparently, Mayor Emanuel thinks we have too many teachers in the workforce and not enough hot dog factory employees.
Source

As schools starve, Rahm Emanuel finds $5 million for hot dogs….
July 10, 2013

On June 11 Mayor Emanuel officially recommended giving about $5 million to Vienna Beef to move its hot dog factory from the north side to Bridgeport. The mayor hailed it as a shrewd investment that will keep at least 250 jobs in Chicago for the next 15 years.

Three days later the mayor’s school board fired Eron Easter, a 34-year-old special education teacher in a high-poverty school in Humboldt Park. Easter was one of 850 Chicago Public Schools employees fired by the mayor when he closed 50 schools.

So if you’re keeping track on your scorecards at home, the mayor is down about 600 in the job-retention department for the last month—a fact you’ll never see him mention in any of the dozens of press releases he routinely sends out.

As you might expect, Vienna’s $5 million comes from the tax increment financing program. That’s the one in which you, the taxpayer, cough up more in property taxes in the name of things you want, like schools, so that the mayor has more to spend on things you don’t want.

Like $5 million for Vienna Beef.

Yet the Vienna Beef project is by no means the dumbest waste of TIF money I’ve seen through the years. In fact, I think I could concoct a plausible justification for it, if coerced.

Good job, Mr. Mayor! Every now and then you manage to do something almost right, even as you mess up everything else.

Feel free to use that as a slogan in your coming reelection campaign.

In the case of Vienna, it’s a “globally recognized manufacturer of hot dogs and other specialty food products, including corned beef, roast beef and soups,” according to a report by the city’s Department of Housing and Economic Development.

Since 1972, Vienna has operated out of a facility on the northeast corner of the very busy three-way intersection of Damen, Elston, and Fullerton.

The city is realigning Elston—moving it to the east—in order to unclog the traffic artery, so to speak. As part of that plan, the city will buy a portion of Vienna’s property.

So Vienna could stay and deal with all that traffic. Or it could get the hell out.

Since the company chose option two, we’ll give them the $5 million to buy a vacant factory—once owned by Sara Lee—at 1000 W. Pershing.

The project was praised at the June 11 meeting of the Community Development Commission, a mayoral advisory board, where a city planner noted that Vienna Beef “has been courted to relocate to other states.”

Hey, teachers, maybe the mayor will give you money if you threaten to move to Indiana.

"The relocation of this business would retain Vienna in the city and continue a long tradition of manufacturing its globally recognized product in Chicago," according to the city report.

The CDC voted to accept the mayor’s proposal to award the $5 million subsidy—and afterward Vienna passed out Polish sausages to everyone!

Not really. But it’s the least they could have done for the handout.

The City Council is expected to ratify the deal sometime in the next few months, since the council always ratifies the mayor’s deals.

The mayor says there are a number of benefits to the deal, including a provision that requires Vienna to employ at least 250 full-time employees.

Let’s hope someone in the city is keeping track, because no one did when TIF funds were handed out in the past to companies like Republic Windows and Doors, which took the money and ran out of town.

Moreover, the city’s report says the Vienna project will “expand the tax base because the investment in the property will result in an increase in its assessed value.”

That’s a compelling point—and exactly the opposite of what will happen with the mayor’s biggest TIF project, the DePaul basketball arena/hotel deal. In that case, Mayor Emanuel is planning to reduce the tax base by spending $55 million to buy taxable land and build a facility that’s tax exempt.

So much for the good news on the city’s job-retention front. Now for the bad news: those 850 CPS employees getting the ax, including about 600 teachers, according to the Chicago Teachers Union.

That figure doesn’t include dozens of teachers the mayor will be firing in the next few months thanks to various employee-reduction schemes.

Apparently, Mayor Emanuel thinks we have too many teachers in the workforce and not enough hot dog factory employees.

Source

When there’s a fee to get your pay: Pre-paid payroll card fees mean paying up for getting paidJune 25, 2013
In the years since the financial crisis struck in 2008, it’s often been pointed out that gains for bankers have gone hand in hand with losses for workers. But few cases provide a better example of just how direct that relationship can be than that of Natalie Gunshannon, who says her employer put her in a situation that forced her to pay fees to one of the big banks just to access her wages.
Gunshannon, of Dallas Township, Penn., filed a class action lawsuit this week against a McDonald’s franchise where she worked, claiming that she and other workers were paid not through check or direct deposit, but through a pre-paid JPMorgan Chase debit card. Along with her card, her lawsuit alleges, she received a list of fees she’d incur when she used it: $1.50 for ATM withdrawals; $5 for over-the-counter cash withdrawals; $1 per balance inquiry; 75 cents for online bill pay and $15 if she lost the card or had it stolen from her.
“I need to receive all the money I earn,” Gunshannon, who was being paid around $7.44 an hour,told a local newspaper. “I can’t afford to lose even a few dollars per paycheck. I just think people should be paid fairly and not have to pay fees to get their wages.”
The lawsuit, filed by attorney Mike Cefalo of Cefalo & Associates and provided to In These Times by the firm, alleges that the cards violate the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Act, which provides that “Wages shall be paid in lawful money of the United States or check.” The suit further alleges that the fees reduce the actual wages workers receive—in some cases bringing them below minimum wage, which in Pennsylvania remains at the federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 per hour.
The lawsuit also notes that managerial employees were paid by regular direct deposit; only hourly workers were stuck with the cards and the fees.
In a statement, Albert and Carol Mueller, the owners of the McDonald’s in question, said that they could not comment on the case, and added, “We are committed to providing them the best possible work environment so [employees] can deliver the fast, reliable service that our customers expect.” (McDonald’s Corporation did not return a request for comment.)
These “payroll cards,” which after being loaded with wages work like a regular debit card, are growing increasingly popular as companies look for alternatives to paper checks and payroll services. Like most debit cards, payroll cards can be used to purchase goods, or they can be used to make withdrawals from banks or ATMs. JPMorgan Chase is one of several banking companies, including Bank of America and U.S. Bank, that offer them.
JPMorgan’s website touts its “Prepaid Card Solutions” as an efficient and cost-effective way to pay employees, calling them a “direct deposit alternative for unbanked and underserved employees.” Cost-effective, apparently, for the employer—who transfers the cost of the service to the workers themselves. As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—the government office founded by Elizabeth Warren to inform consumers of their rights when dealing with financial products—explains, employers make arrangements with the financial institution as to the terms of the cards, including “any fees that may be charged to [the employee].”
According to the CFPB, employers “typically” offer the card as one of several payment options and advise employees who opt for the payroll card to read the terms and conditions carefully. But according to Gunshannon’s lawsuit, when she asked if she could be paid another way, she was told, “If you don’t activate the card, there is no way for us to pay you.” She quit, and called a lawyer.
Full article

When there’s a fee to get your pay: Pre-paid payroll card fees mean paying up for getting paid
June 25, 2013

In the years since the financial crisis struck in 2008, it’s often been pointed out that gains for bankers have gone hand in hand with losses for workers. But few cases provide a better example of just how direct that relationship can be than that of Natalie Gunshannon, who says her employer put her in a situation that forced her to pay fees to one of the big banks just to access her wages.

Gunshannon, of Dallas Township, Penn., filed a class action lawsuit this week against a McDonald’s franchise where she worked, claiming that she and other workers were paid not through check or direct deposit, but through a pre-paid JPMorgan Chase debit card. Along with her card, her lawsuit alleges, she received a list of fees she’d incur when she used it: $1.50 for ATM withdrawals; $5 for over-the-counter cash withdrawals; $1 per balance inquiry; 75 cents for online bill pay and $15 if she lost the card or had it stolen from her.

“I need to receive all the money I earn,” Gunshannon, who was being paid around $7.44 an hour,told a local newspaper. “I can’t afford to lose even a few dollars per paycheck. I just think people should be paid fairly and not have to pay fees to get their wages.”

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Mike Cefalo of Cefalo & Associates and provided to In These Times by the firm, alleges that the cards violate the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Act, which provides that “Wages shall be paid in lawful money of the United States or check.” The suit further alleges that the fees reduce the actual wages workers receive—in some cases bringing them below minimum wage, which in Pennsylvania remains at the federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 per hour.

The lawsuit also notes that managerial employees were paid by regular direct deposit; only hourly workers were stuck with the cards and the fees.

In a statement, Albert and Carol Mueller, the owners of the McDonald’s in question, said that they could not comment on the case, and added, “We are committed to providing them the best possible work environment so [employees] can deliver the fast, reliable service that our customers expect.” (McDonald’s Corporation did not return a request for comment.)

These “payroll cards,” which after being loaded with wages work like a regular debit card, are growing increasingly popular as companies look for alternatives to paper checks and payroll services. Like most debit cards, payroll cards can be used to purchase goods, or they can be used to make withdrawals from banks or ATMs. JPMorgan Chase is one of several banking companies, including Bank of America and U.S. Bank, that offer them.

JPMorgan’s website touts its “Prepaid Card Solutions” as an efficient and cost-effective way to pay employees, calling them a “direct deposit alternative for unbanked and underserved employees.” Cost-effective, apparently, for the employer—who transfers the cost of the service to the workers themselves. As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—the government office founded by Elizabeth Warren to inform consumers of their rights when dealing with financial products—explains, employers make arrangements with the financial institution as to the terms of the cards, including “any fees that may be charged to [the employee].”

According to the CFPB, employers “typically” offer the card as one of several payment options and advise employees who opt for the payroll card to read the terms and conditions carefully. But according to Gunshannon’s lawsuit, when she asked if she could be paid another way, she was told, “If you don’t activate the card, there is no way for us to pay you.” She quit, and called a lawyer.

Full article

Walmart employees gather in Bentonville to show shareholders they will NOT back down, despite severe intimidation from the corrupt corporation
June 3, 2013

Striking workers protested outside Walmart’s home office in Bentonville Monday morning (June 3) as corrupt shareholders began arriving in town for this year’s annual shareholders meeting.

A Walmart spokesman lied, claiming that not all protesters are associates (as if that makes Walmarts’ heinous policies any less horrific), however the protesters report that they are all Walmart employees, and have made clear that they are protesting because they want higher wages, better benefits and more respect from the capitalist juggernaut. 

Source

fathairyqueer
fathairylesbian:

fandomsandfeminism:

Women are not the same as livestock. There is no contradiction between women’s rights and eating animal products. Women are not the same as livestock. Some people literally can not have vegan diets due to health complications. Don’t be an abelist fucktruck. Women are not livestock. Putting butter of my dinner roll is not rape. Do not trivialize rape. There is no contradiction between women’s rights and eating animal products. 

Also, I’ll be damned if a fucking man tells me that I’M not a real feminist because I’m not vegan. Quit it with the mansplaining, you classist asshole who doesn’t consider poor people and their inability to afford and even access vegan and vegetarian options. This quote is repulsive. I’d like to see you say that directly to a rape victim’s face, you disgusting jerk. Tell her that the experience she went through is comparable to eating eggs and compare her to an animal. That TOTALLY doesn’t fuel sexism and rape culture or anything. You people make me sick.

That this man thinks he could even be enough of an authority on the subject to define for all of us what feminism is and which feminists are ‘real’ would be laughable if it weren’t so painful. 

fathairylesbian:

fandomsandfeminism:

Women are not the same as livestock. There is no contradiction between women’s rights and eating animal products. Women are not the same as livestock. Some people literally can not have vegan diets due to health complications. Don’t be an abelist fucktruck. Women are not livestock. Putting butter of my dinner roll is not rape. Do not trivialize rape. There is no contradiction between women’s rights and eating animal products. 

Also, I’ll be damned if a fucking man tells me that I’M not a real feminist because I’m not vegan. Quit it with the mansplaining, you classist asshole who doesn’t consider poor people and their inability to afford and even access vegan and vegetarian options. This quote is repulsive. I’d like to see you say that directly to a rape victim’s face, you disgusting jerk. Tell her that the experience she went through is comparable to eating eggs and compare her to an animal. That TOTALLY doesn’t fuel sexism and rape culture or anything. You people make me sick.

That this man thinks he could even be enough of an authority on the subject to define for all of us what feminism is and which feminists are ‘real’ would be laughable if it weren’t so painful. 

Thousands keep up protest at Cambodian garment factory
May 29, 2013

About 3,500 workers protested on Wednesday at a factory in Cambodia that makes clothing for U.S. sportswear company Nike, refusing to give up their campaign for higher pay despite a crackdown by police this week.

At least 23 people were injured on Monday when police with riot gear and stun batons were deployed to assault about 3,000 workers, most of them women, who had blocked a road outside the factory owned by Sabrina (Cambodia) Garment Manufacturing in Kampong Speu province, west of the capital, Phnom Penh. One woman who was two months pregnant lost her child after military police pushed her to the ground, according to a trade union representative.

The workers walked out on strike on May 21. Sun Vanny, president of the Free Trade Union (FTU) at Sabrina, said about 4,000 workers were expected to join the protest on Thursday. “We will continue the strike to demand what they want,” Vanny said, adding that union representatives had been invited for talks on Wednesday but no agreement had been reached. "We want to know why violence was used against the woman and workers, we want to know who hired these officers to come," he added, referring to Monday’s clash.

A Nike spokeswoman in the United States told Reuters by email on Monday that the company was “concerned” about the allegations that workers had been hurt and was investigating. Nike requires contract manufacturers to respect employees’ rights to freedom of association, the spokeswoman added, but instead of acting in any way that reflects their statements, they have only made decisions to create suffering for workers.

Many Western capitalists, attracted by cheap labor, have turned to Asia to get their garments made at a cost that will make them attractive to customers in the troubled economies of Europe and North America looking for discounted clothing. A series of deadly incidents at factories in Bangladesh, the world’s biggest clothing exporter after China, including the collapse of a building last month that killed more than 1,000 people, has focused the world’s attention on safety standards.

Strikes over pay and working conditions have become common in Cambodia, where garments accounted for 75 percent of total exports of $5.22 billion in 2011, according to the International Monetary Fund.

This month, two people were killed at a factory producing running shoes for Asics when part of a warehouse fell in on them.

Source

“Neoliberalization has not been very effective in revitalizing global capital accumulation, but it has succeeded remarkably well in restoring, or in some instances creating, the power of an economic elite. The theoretical utopianism of neoliberal argument has, I conclude, primarily worked as a system of justification and legitimation for whatever needed to be done to achieve this goal.”― David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism

“This is the permanent tension that lies at the heart of a capitalist democracy and is exacerbated in times of crisis. In order to ensure the survival of the richest, it is democracy that has to be heavily regulated rather than capitalism.”― Tariq Ali, The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad

We have people refusing to be wage-slaves working in terribly dangerous, life-threatening conditions who organize democratically in protest and the response of the capitalists, of course, is to hire a brute force to stomp out the democracy. Disgusting. Capitalism is evil.

Wal-Mart workers plan a fresh protest, this time in Bentonville
May 29, 2013

The last time most people heard about OUR Walmart, it was the busiest shopping day of the year and some Wal-Mart employees had walked off the job. They were members of the union-backed group and they had defied the biggest private employer in America by holding protests at stores around the country on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The group’s full name is Organization United for Respect at Walmart, and its members were asking for a greater number of full-time jobs, with predictable schedules and wages that could provide their families a decent life. (I wrote about the movement in December.)

Now OUR Walmart members are planning another protest on another important day: the company’s annual shareholder meeting. It takes place at Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., on June 7. OUR Walmart says about 100 members from the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Washington, Miami, and a dozen other cities will head to Bentonville this week in a bus caravan they’re calling the “Ride for Respect.” They expect to arrive by Sunday, June 2.

“This is the first time in my life I’m standing up for something I know is right,” says Barbara Getz, who is 45 years old and makes $10 an hour as an overnight stocker in Store No. 5334 in Aurora, Colo. “Walmart is the biggest retailer in the world, and we want them to set a high standard.” Among the group’s requests: full-time work for those who want it, with a minimum yearly salary of $25,000. Dominic Ware will be on a bus, too. He’s a 26-year-old part-time employee at Store No. 5434 in San Leandro, Calif. He makes $8.65 an hour. “My plan is to make a lot of noise and be direct and be respectful,” he says.

Walmart has been opposed to unions since Sam Walton opened his first store in Rogers, Ark., in 1962. And, though OUR Walmart says it isn’t seeking legal recognition, executives have criticized its efforts. “Our annual shareholders’ meeting is a celebration of our 2.2 million associates who work hard every day so people around the world can live better,” says Walmart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan in an e-mail. “The Union and its subsidiary, ‘Our Walmart,’ is comprised of a few number of people, most of whom aren’t even Walmart associates and don’t represent the views of our associates. This latest publicity stunt by the unions to generate attention for their fleeting cause won’t impact the festivities.”

Source

U.S. seeks inspiration in Basque cooperative model Mondragón. An article in Time magazine praises the economic model of the industrial group MCC, which has become a benchmark in several US declined areas.
May 20, 2013

When companies all over the world are struggling to fight crisis, and while every country has an eye on the United States to find out when the depression will end, it follows that outstanding North American businessmen are seeing the light through the Arrasate-Mondragón cooperatives.

According to an article appeared in the latest issue of Time magazine, executives in charge of enterprise planning and union leaders of the previously buoyant and today depressed industrial belt of Cleveland, Ohio, are seeking inspiration in the economic, industrial and social model of the Arrasate-Mondragón area.

The magazine included a report which analyzed the origins of the current corporation founded by the Arizmendiarreta priest, whose success is supported, according to the publication, by the fact that nowadays, MCC is the seventh state’s industrial group and one of the most profitable.

According to figures provided by the writer, MCC is a multidisciplinary group that brings together 256 companies and employs more 100,000 people. Anyway, the interest is focused on the original basis of making the employees members of the enterprise. Those members often have a close association with the company as producers or consumers of its products or services, or as its employees.

Therefore, Time stresses that MCC holds its commitment “to one-worker, one-vote democratic governance through a complex, carefully honed organizational structure in which the corporation serves as a kind of meta-cooperative for the individual companies.”

The article presents the broad spectrum of companies of the Basque group, which ranges from manufacturing equipment, bicycles, and electronics, to an university and its own savings bank, Caja Laboral. Time says that, while many people look to cooperatives as activities at a “hippie small scale,” Mondragón is a consolidated and successful business whose revenue, in spite of the full depression of the Spanish economy, grew by 6 % last year.

According to the magazine, some companies in the Ohio state want the workers to get involved in the capital and the management of the company, and seek more balanced development patterns with a philosophy of reinvesting profits. This would be one of the hallmarks of MCC: instead of “flowing into the pockets of executives and outside investors, a company’s profits are distributed in a precise, democratic way; set aside as seed money for new cooperatives; distributed to regional nonprofits; or pooled into shared institutions like the university and research center.”

But the Mondragón template goes further and Time quotes a bakery cooperative in the Bay Area of San Francisco, California. Its four partners -soon to be six-, have chosen a particular name for their brand: Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives.

Source

Aam Aadmi Party workers today protested outside residences of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and local MLAs on the issues of rising prices of power and water, and women’s safety in the national capital. 
May 19, 2013

While demonstrating outside the CM’s residence, some workers were detained and sent to Tuglak Road Police Station, a statement released by Aam Aadmi Party said. AAP workers claimed that a number of volunteers were injured during police action at the time of the protest. 

"In Shahdara, AAP volunteers, including several women and children, were hurt when they were protesting outside Congress MLA Narendra Nath’s residence. Around 20 volunteers were detained by the police outside his house and taken to Farsh Bazar Station," the statement said. 

When AAP volunteers tried to gherao local MLA and senior Congress leader Kiran Walia’s house in Malviya Nagar, they were detained by police and taken to local police station, it said. Workers, who went to meet area MLA in Gandhi Nagar, were arrested and taken to Kalyanpuri Police station when they tried to confront their MLA, the statement said. MLAs refused to meet the AAP workers, the statement added.

Source

Aam Aadmi Party is an Indian political party launched on 26 November 2012. ‘Aam Aadmi’ in Hindi means ‘Common Man’. The name was adopted by the Party as it aims to represent common Wo/man of India and to bring political power back into the people’s hands. One of the party’s primary vision is to realize the dream of ‘SWARAJ’ or ‘Self-governance’ that Mahatma Gandhi had envisaged for a free India - where the power of governance and rights of democracy will be in the hands of the people of India.

Source

Police ‘cleaning up’ Detroit by kidnapping the homeless, stranding them in other cities
April 22, 2013

Imagine that you are homeless in Detroit. You have an area where you know you are safe, where you can find food and shelter if you ask. Now imagine that a cop grabs you from the street, throws you into a van, drives you to the edge of the city or even a suburb and then kicks you out. That’s what the ACLU is accusing the Detroit PD of doing.: they filed a complaint with the Justice Department against the DPB this week.

The complaint comes at the end of a year-long investigation into claims that the department routinely drove homeless people to areas unfamiliar to them, leaving them to get back on their own. They will approach homeless people, especially in tourist areas like Greektown, force them into vans and drive them miles away, the complaint alleges. Sometimes the officers would even take what little money they had, leaving them with no recourse but to walk back to the city. Sometimes the homeless victims would even be left in neighboring towns and suburbs like Dearborn and River Rouge.

Speaking for the ACLU of Michigan, staff attorney Sarah Mehta told the local CBS affiliate:

“DPD’s practice of essentially kidnapping homeless people and abandoning them miles away from the neighborhoods they know – with no means for a safe return — is inhumane, callous and illegal. The city’s desire to hide painful reminders of our economic struggles cannot justify discriminating against the poor, banishing them from their city, and endangering their lives. A person who has lost his home has not lost his right to be treated with dignity.” (source)

The ACLU was contacted by the St. Peter and Paul Jesuit Church Warming Center, a homeless shelter. They told the organization about several homeless people who were “taken for a ride” by DPB officers. One such story came from Andrew Sheehan, a 36-year-old who used to be homeless but is now working at a grocery store:

“I had my back turned to him and I did not see him approaching, and the first thing he did was he kicked me. He didn’t identify himself as an officer and he kicked me and told me to get up. I asked him if I was free to go. He told me no.” (source)

The organization has published the stories of five homeless people who were kidnapped and harassed by Detroit police. According to the ACLU’s complaint, some of the homeless who were taken had to walk many miles to get back to downtown shelters. This puts them in danger from a variety of sources, especially in the middle of winter.

The ACLU has asked the Department of Justice to investigate the allegations. They have also asked the city to issue a directive to police officers to desist this practice immediately.

This is unconscionable, but it’s not new. Removing the vagrants and undersirables from where the “regular” people might be upset by them is an old practice, according to Samuel Walker, a police accountability expert:

“This is a familiar story with a long history in policing. You do wonder what did this Police Department learn from the consent decree experience?” (source)

Detroit’s Chief of Police, Chester Logan, declined to comment, saying that he had not yet seen the complaint. The AP was also unable to get comments from Mayor Dave Bing or the city’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr. Not surprising.

This bad economy has seen an uptick in the homeless situation. Yes, it makes some of us uncomfortable to see them, perhaps because we see more of ourselves in them than we would care to admit. But ignoring the problem won’t solve it and taking these people to the edge of town and exposing them to danger is not the way to handle it. Detroit’s police need to look inside and find their better nature before they get someone killed.

Source

2013 Workers Unite Film Festival Schedule is Online!
April 15, 2013

After many months of searching out great new worker/labor films and going through the archives of historical labor films, we here at The Second Annual Workers Unite Film Festival have come up with an eight day long program plus an extra evening at one of the biggest unions in NYC, SEIU1199.

Our eight day schedule, which you can find on our website under “2013 Schedule” tab, covers many of the themes that effect working people today as the stuggle to make ends meet, or to find a new job, during this very difficult economy. We have films on being fifty and out of work, films about immigrants seeking to find a decent job in their new home - anxious to make a contribution to their new communities. Our films are as close as our own backyard, here in NYC (Cafe Wars and Judith:Portrait of a Street Vendor) to as far away as the men who tear apart de-commissioned oil tankers with their hands and simple tools in the deserts of Pakistan (Iron Slaves).

We have films about the African American men who fought for dignity on the job and in their union as steelworkers - one of the most dangerous jobs in America, to mothers in Bangladesh who must put their children with their own parents due to 15 hour days in the sewing factories of high fashion sweatshops. These are the same women who survived a recent “Triangle Shirtwaist” style fire in Bangladesh, where over 111 young women perished because the exit doors to the factory were padlocked shut. One hundred years plus after the deaths at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in NYC and we are still fighting the exact same battles.

Please look through the whole schedule. Find some programs that look intereseting, then go online - by next week - and buy tickets!! We have kept ticket prices as low as possible so as many of you as possible can attend at least one program, or one full day of amazing films. Tickets are $7.50 for one show (online sales may incur a service charge) $11.50 for a full day of films!! And $59.00 for a full 8 days of educational and emotional programming about the lives and struggles of workers and their unions all over the globe.

This year we are particularly honored to join with twenty other worker/labor film festivals around the world - known as The Global Labor Film and Video Festival on May 16th. On that day we will screen films on labor issues in China, Pakistan, Mexico, Slovakia, from all over the U.S. and a film about the merchant marines whose work took them from one end of the earth to the other. And that’s just one day of the festival!

We plan to have either the directors or speakers at most of these events, many of them currently engaged in the worker struggles for labor rights and dignity in the workplace. We want to put these films into context so that we all come out of the theater with both a better understanding of our places in the global fight for labor rights and the motivation to get out their and participate in whatever actions are possible to make these rights a reality.

So please take a few minutes to check out the huge list of films and pick out at least a few to come view. If you can afford it, we’d love to have you visit our homepage and make a small donation to help keep building the festival for this year and coming seasons.

Finally - on April 17th at the Gap on 34th Street

Article Source | Festival Schedule | Festival Facebook Page

Richard Wolff comes back to PBS’ Bill Moyers for Part II
March 23, 2013

Richard Wolff on Cypress:

Absolutely! That Cypress story is extremely important.

Even though it’s a very small country and people might not pay attention because it’s so small. Here is the austerity program of raising taxes and cutting government spending, taking a qualitative new step: to help bail out a capitalism that hasn’t worked in Europe and that has crippled this little country of Cypress. The step taken to try and fix the problem is to literally reach into the private insured bank accounts of people in the local banks in Cypress and take money out of it to pay for fixing this broken system.

For all working people, not just in Europe in the United States and the rest of the world too, this should be a wakeup call if you still need one.

We’re in a situation where the most dire, unexpected, unimaginable steps are being taken to fix (capitalism) a system that keeps resisting being fixed so that we are required now to dip into people’s checking accounts and literally TAKE the money.

Q: Student loan debts are overwhelming me and many others. What does Professor Wolff think would happen to the economy if those debts could be forgiven under personal bankruptcy? Is that even possible?

Well the law in the United States specifically prevents you from using bankruptcy to erase your student loans. Bankruptcy does allow you to erase other kinds of debts but the student loan system was set up to prevent that – so students are in an especially bad place by virtue of this.

In our history as a country, we’ve never before done this. We’ve never required college students to take anything remotely like this kind of debt. We’re requiring students to acquire HUGE amounts of debt just to get bachelor’s degrees, let alone more advanced degrees at the same time that we offer the graduates the poorest job market & prospects in a generation. That’s a one, two punch. You have to borrow more than you can afford to face a job that will not allow you to ever pay it off. Hence this person’s very intelligent question – how is this going to work?

We’ve solved a problem in our society – how to educate the next generation – and let me tell you this is a very important matter. We economists believe that the single most important factor shaping the future of any economy in the world, including the United States, is the quality and quantity of the educated, trained labor force that it produces. Colleges and Universities are where we do that. But if we’re crippling an entire generation with debts they cannot support and jobs that will not encourage them to continue in their studies, we are as a nation, shooting ourselves in the foot going forward. It’s a demonstration of the dysfunctionality of our system.

And then the question comes, could we forgive our student’s debts? Well, it’s an interesting idea. But how do you go to the people who can’t afford their credit card debts or their mortgage debts, they’re all hurting. And the students have a special claim – I acknowledge that. We need those students – I understand it. But we have to go to the root of a society that allows unspeakable wealth to accumulate in the hands of a tiny minority, while condemning an entire generation of students to a set of burdens. We don’t want them to have those burdens; we need what they can produce for our society.

Moyers: But what does this young woman do who says that she is overwhelmed by her debt?

Many students are not aware that they actually have some ways to help them.

But the more broad answer is that you need a social movement. If there were masses of students saying “this is intolerable,” saying it loudly and saying it publicly – peacefully for sure, but making it clear…then the powers that be would begin to realize that there are millions of students (upward of 15-16 million people going to colleges & universities in the United States). You’re talking about a well-educated constituency that, if they were organized and mobilized, you would begin to get the response of dealing with their crisis more effectively than what we have now. 

Watch the video of the entire Part II interview here.

Read more about Wolff’s organization to combat capitalism here.  

Follow that organization on Tumblr here.

anarcho-queer
Unlike the anarchists, the Marxists recognize struggle for reforms, i.e., for measures that improve the conditions [of] the working people without destroying the power of the ruling class. At the same time, however, the Marxists wage a most resolute struggle against the reformists, who, directly or indirectly, restrict the aims and activities of the working class to the winning of reforms. Reformism is bourgeois deception of the workers, who, despite individual improvements, will always remain wage-slaves, as long as there is the domination of capital.

Lenin (via lenin4president)

I support any reform that makes the life of working class people more tolerable, as do most anarchists, but I won’t pretend like it’s going to fix or abolish any social ills. But the almighty Lenin said it so it must be true. 

(via anarcho-queer)

Like, I definitely think changing the way our society is organized (socio-economically - by increasing systemic democracy) will help empower movements against racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. 

I also think racism, sexism, homophobia, etc are fueled, supported by & inflamed by capitalist interests & institutions. However, these social ills aren’t born only out of capitalism, capitalism isn’t the only thing that fuels them, and they won’t fall away by themselves. But it is definitively an obstacle in the way of resisting other forms of systemic oppression.

I have mixed feelings about Lenin, but I definitely agree with your sentiment here, anarcho-queer.

Still, I want to make sure that I’m dedicated, steadfast & diligent in making room for kind, meaningful conversations within the left without repeating the self-destructive in-fighting of the past. I think anarchists & socialist (“state-ists”) have a lot we could learn from each other.

The sickening cost of health care: Why Americans pay the highest health care costs in the worldMarch 18, 2013
Health care costs in the United States continue to skyrocket, with dire consequences ranging from personal bankruptcies to the growing national debt. Yet the even more outrageous fact is that these inflated costs—the highest in the world—produce health outcomes that trail countries which spend far less.
In a Time magazine special report titled "Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us," published in February, investigative journalist Steven Brill pulls back the curtain to expose the price-gouging and profiteering that explains why health care in the U.S. costs so much.
Brill’s article details the devastating impact that health care costs—which are behind six in 10 personal bankruptcies—have on working-class people. As Time managing editor Richard Stengel pointed out, Brill “inverts the standard question of who should pay for health care and asks instead: Why are we paying so much?”
Barack Obama used the urgency of this crisis to press Congress to pass his health care law. But the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act does little to address rising health care costs.
On the contrary, it will almost certainly make things worse by requiring the uninsured to get coverage from for-profit companies and providing subsidies from taxpayer revenues to pay the premiums. Rather than challenging industry giants, Brill writes, “Obamacare enriches them. That, of course, is why the bill was able to get through Congress.”
Meanwhile, outsized health care costs—which continue to rise faster than inflation—are a central reason for big government deficits, which the very same politicians then use as a pretext to push for cuts in “entitlement” programs like Social Security and Medicare, by reducing payments for the former and raising the eligibility age for the latter.
However, as Brill points out, Medicare, the government’s universal health care system for the elderly, is one of the few bright spots in the current system. Whatever its flaws, caused by cuts and restrictions over the past few decades, it is still far more efficient than private insurance, it offers universal coverage while even Obama’s health care law will leave tens of millions of people uninsured—and it has mechanisms to keep costs down.
If Medicare, instead of being cut, was expanded to cover everyone and to provide even better care than it does now, it would save about $380 billion per year by cutting down on administrative waste, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine—and on top of that, it would actually improve health care.
Over ten years, that’s just about the same amount—$4 trillion—that Barack Obama’s deficit reduction commission proposes to save, with massive cuts to entitlement programs that dwarf proposed increases in taxes.
It’s true that government spending on Medicare has been rising much faster than inflation and is a major cause of government deficits. Medicare spending, after adjusting for inflation, increased fivefold from $110.2 billion in 1990 to $554.3 billion in 2011,according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). And that was after it nearly tripled in 10 years from $37.4 billion in 1980.
In fact, according to Congressional Budget Office figures, protected increases in health care costs are behind most of the expected growth in government debt.
While a significant part of this increase is the result of a growing and aging population, much of the increase in Medicare spending is being driven by increased health care costs overall. The CMS reports that total per capita health care spending in the U.S., adjusted for inflation, more than tripled from $2,854 in 1990 to $8,680 in 2011. Health care accounts for nearly one-fifth of the GDP in the U.S..
Other advanced industrial countries such as Germany have a significantly higher percentage of their populations over age 65. Yet they spend much less on health care than the U.S.—and achieve better outcomes.
In “Bitter Pill,” Brill examines hospital bills to expose how extreme price inflation generates massive hospital industry profits, while driving health care costs sky-high—a price that is ultimately paid by consumers.
According to Brill, hospitals charge patients different amounts for the same equipment and procedures, depending on what kind of insurance they have. While Medicare and Medicaid pay a set amount for each item, various insurers negotiate the rates they pay. Many insurers negotiate a discount off the “chargemaster”—a hospital’s list of charges for everything from aspirin and gauze to major procedures and cancer drugs that cost tens of thousands of dollars each.
Because hospitals use the chargemaster as a starting point in negotiations, these prices are much higher than the items actually cost. To cite one example, Brill points out a hospital that charges $24 for a niacin pill which costs about 5 cents in an ordinary pharmacy: a markup of 47,900 percent.
Hospitals also gouge patients by charging multiple times for the same procedure. In the article, Brill quotes Patricia Palmer, who is paid to negotiate with hospitals on behalf of patients to lower exorbitant bills:

First, they charge more than $2,000 a day for the ICU, because it’s an ICU and it has all this special equipment and personnel. Then they charge $1,000 for some kit used in the ICU to give someone a transfusion or oxygen…And then they charge $50 or $100 for each tool or bandage or whatever that there is in the kit. That’s triple billing.

For the un- or underinsured, tragic illnesses can be a financial catastrophe. The terminally ill can even be forced into an impossible choice: whether to extend their lives and leave their families with a crippling debt, or give up time with their families to avoid burdening them financially.
This was the choice faced by Steven D., who Brill profiles in his article. After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, Steven’s wife Alice, who earns about $40,000 a year, racked up over $900,000 in debt to pay for treatment to keep her husband alive for an extra 11 months. Although Alice was able to get Medi-Cal (Medicaid) coverage and hired an advocate to negotiate with the hospital, she still ended up owing $142,000, more than three times her yearly salary. Not only did she have to cope with losing her husband, but she was left financially crippled as well.
When pressed by Brill, hospital administrators weren’t able to give a plausible explanation for the chargemaster rates, except to say that they are only a starting point and patients aren’t actually expected to pay them. The grim irony is that it is the uninsured patients—those among the least likely to be able to afford it—who are charged full chargemaster prices. And many don’t know negotiation is an option.
Full article

The sickening cost of health care: Why Americans pay the highest health care costs in the world
March 18, 2013

Health care costs in the United States continue to skyrocket, with dire consequences ranging from personal bankruptcies to the growing national debt. Yet the even more outrageous fact is that these inflated costs—the highest in the world—produce health outcomes that trail countries which spend far less.

In a Time magazine special report titled "Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us," published in February, investigative journalist Steven Brill pulls back the curtain to expose the price-gouging and profiteering that explains why health care in the U.S. costs so much.

Brill’s article details the devastating impact that health care costs—which are behind six in 10 personal bankruptcies—have on working-class people. As Time managing editor Richard Stengel pointed out, Brill “inverts the standard question of who should pay for health care and asks instead: Why are we paying so much?”

Barack Obama used the urgency of this crisis to press Congress to pass his health care law. But the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act does little to address rising health care costs.

On the contrary, it will almost certainly make things worse by requiring the uninsured to get coverage from for-profit companies and providing subsidies from taxpayer revenues to pay the premiums. Rather than challenging industry giants, Brill writes, “Obamacare enriches them. That, of course, is why the bill was able to get through Congress.”

Meanwhile, outsized health care costs—which continue to rise faster than inflation—are a central reason for big government deficits, which the very same politicians then use as a pretext to push for cuts in “entitlement” programs like Social Security and Medicare, by reducing payments for the former and raising the eligibility age for the latter.

However, as Brill points out, Medicare, the government’s universal health care system for the elderly, is one of the few bright spots in the current system. Whatever its flaws, caused by cuts and restrictions over the past few decades, it is still far more efficient than private insurance, it offers universal coverage while even Obama’s health care law will leave tens of millions of people uninsured—and it has mechanisms to keep costs down.

If Medicare, instead of being cut, was expanded to cover everyone and to provide even better care than it does now, it would save about $380 billion per year by cutting down on administrative waste, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine—and on top of that, it would actually improve health care.

Over ten years, that’s just about the same amount—$4 trillion—that Barack Obama’s deficit reduction commission proposes to save, with massive cuts to entitlement programs that dwarf proposed increases in taxes.

It’s true that government spending on Medicare has been rising much faster than inflation and is a major cause of government deficits. Medicare spending, after adjusting for inflation, increased fivefold from $110.2 billion in 1990 to $554.3 billion in 2011,according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). And that was after it nearly tripled in 10 years from $37.4 billion in 1980.

In fact, according to Congressional Budget Office figures, protected increases in health care costs are behind most of the expected growth in government debt.

While a significant part of this increase is the result of a growing and aging population, much of the increase in Medicare spending is being driven by increased health care costs overall. The CMS reports that total per capita health care spending in the U.S., adjusted for inflation, more than tripled from $2,854 in 1990 to $8,680 in 2011. Health care accounts for nearly one-fifth of the GDP in the U.S..

Other advanced industrial countries such as Germany have a significantly higher percentage of their populations over age 65. Yet they spend much less on health care than the U.S.—and achieve better outcomes.

In “Bitter Pill,” Brill examines hospital bills to expose how extreme price inflation generates massive hospital industry profits, while driving health care costs sky-high—a price that is ultimately paid by consumers.

According to Brill, hospitals charge patients different amounts for the same equipment and procedures, depending on what kind of insurance they have. While Medicare and Medicaid pay a set amount for each item, various insurers negotiate the rates they pay. Many insurers negotiate a discount off the “chargemaster”—a hospital’s list of charges for everything from aspirin and gauze to major procedures and cancer drugs that cost tens of thousands of dollars each.

Because hospitals use the chargemaster as a starting point in negotiations, these prices are much higher than the items actually cost. To cite one example, Brill points out a hospital that charges $24 for a niacin pill which costs about 5 cents in an ordinary pharmacy: a markup of 47,900 percent.

Hospitals also gouge patients by charging multiple times for the same procedure. In the article, Brill quotes Patricia Palmer, who is paid to negotiate with hospitals on behalf of patients to lower exorbitant bills:

First, they charge more than $2,000 a day for the ICU, because it’s an ICU and it has all this special equipment and personnel. Then they charge $1,000 for some kit used in the ICU to give someone a transfusion or oxygen…And then they charge $50 or $100 for each tool or bandage or whatever that there is in the kit. That’s triple billing.

For the un- or underinsured, tragic illnesses can be a financial catastrophe. The terminally ill can even be forced into an impossible choice: whether to extend their lives and leave their families with a crippling debt, or give up time with their families to avoid burdening them financially.

This was the choice faced by Steven D., who Brill profiles in his article. After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, Steven’s wife Alice, who earns about $40,000 a year, racked up over $900,000 in debt to pay for treatment to keep her husband alive for an extra 11 months. Although Alice was able to get Medi-Cal (Medicaid) coverage and hired an advocate to negotiate with the hospital, she still ended up owing $142,000, more than three times her yearly salary. Not only did she have to cope with losing her husband, but she was left financially crippled as well.

When pressed by Brill, hospital administrators weren’t able to give a plausible explanation for the chargemaster rates, except to say that they are only a starting point and patients aren’t actually expected to pay them. The grim irony is that it is the uninsured patients—those among the least likely to be able to afford it—who are charged full chargemaster prices. And many don’t know negotiation is an option.

Full article

Around a thousand farmers gathered in Carrigaline, Co Cork, at the constituency office of Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to protest at EU proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy.

The Irish Farmers’ Association, which organised the demonstration, says farmers could lose up to 40% of their CAP payments, but Mr Coveney rejects this.

The Common Agricultural Policy is the EU’s framework to ensure that farmers earn a fair income in return for producing the food to feed Europe’s half a billion people.

Negotiations to reform the CAP are currently under way, with billions riding on the outcome.

The IFA is concerned that proposals by the European Commission to move to a system of flat-rate payments per hectare will cost 80,000 of the country’s most productive farmers a combined €250 million.

Source

We live in a world capable, in principle, of providing a diverse and healthy diet for all, and yet one quarter of its people suffer from frequent hunger and ill health generated by a diet that is poor in quantity or quality or both. Another quarter of the world’s population eats too much food, food that is often heavy with calories and low on nutrients (colloquially called ‘junk food’). This quarter of the world’s population risks diabetes and all of the other chronic illnesses generated by obesity. In Mexico, for example, 14 per cent of the population have diabetes, and in India, 11 per cent of city-dwellers over 15. In the US it has been estimated that one-third of the children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes—a truly sad prospect, given that most of this is entirely preventable. Study after study in recent years has come to the conclusion that the single most important factor in human health is diet, and diet is something we can shape.

Cheap food is important to capitalism because it allows wages to be lower (and thus profits to be higher) and yet leave workers with more disposable income available to buy other commodities. For these and other reasons, early in the history of capitalism, the food system became tied to colonialism, where various forms of forced or semi-forced labour were common. After the civil war ended slavery in the US, the domestically-produced food system came to rest primarily on the family farm. But after the Second World War the increasing mechanization and chemicalisation of agriculture favoured larger farms. In the early 1970s the US Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz got Congress to pass a programme of subsidies that rewarded high yields. As a result, the larger the farm and the higher the yield, the larger became the subsidy. Nearly all the subsidies went to large farms, and for a few basic crops: tobacco, cotton, corn, wheat, and eventually soy. Moreover the large farms that could benefit the most from mechanization and chemicalisation became increasingly subservient to the gigantic corporations that supplied the inputs and bought the outputs of these factory farms.

This situation remains essentially unchanged today. In 2005 alone the US government spent over $20 billion in agricultural subsidies (46 per cent of this went for corn production, 23 per cent for cotton, 10 per cent for wheat, and 6 per cent for soybeans). The largest 10 per cent of the farms got 72 per cent of the subsidies and 60 per cent of all farms got no subsidy at all. For the most part, fruit and vegetable crops received no subsidies, and the same could be said for most small and medium sized farms. In short, the subsidy program rewards the large yields that result from very large, highly industrialized farms.

Today, while there are still many family farms in the US, the older mixed family farm that utilized manure from its animals to fertilize the land, and practised crop rotation and other techniques to control pests, has been largely wiped out. The giant capitalist farm of today is dependent on cheap oil and government subsidies. David Pimentel, professor of ecology at Cornell University and a globally recognized expert on food systems and energy, has argued that if the entire world adopted the American food system, all known sources of fossil fuel would be exhausted in seven years. At the same time, utilizing such huge amounts of petroleum-based chemicals (fertilizers and pesticides) would not only contribute enormously to global warming, but also would make our toxic environment even more toxic.

In this short essay most of my examples come from the US, because, as the most hegemonic capitalist power in the world, it has done the most to shape the global food system. But I don’t want to give the impression that there is one tightly integrated capitalist world food system. Even in the US, capitalism has not entirely subsumed the whole food system, and while there are few places in the world untouched by capitalism, its degree of hegemony may vary a great deal. Still, up to the present, capitalism has been the single strongest force shaping the global food system, and much of that shaping power has flowed outward from the US.

It is scandalous that in the academic world many professors of economics still teach the doctrine of consumer sovereignty when it is so clear that on the contrary, corporations are the far greater sovereign force.

More from: Between obesity & hunger: the capitalist food industry