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marmar

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,622

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Certain Problems Need Socialist Solutions


via Dissent magazine:


Certain Problems Need Socialist Solutions
By Maria Svart - October 3, 2012


The following is adapted from a talk delivered at the fiftieth anniversary celebration of Michael Harrington’s The Other America, held on September 10, 2012 at the CUNY Graduate Center.



I’m told that Michael Harrington once wistfully commented to colleagues that he had written sixteen books, and on the dust jacket of the sixteenth, the publisher had put, “By the author of The Other America.” It is entirely fitting that Mike should be best remembered for his first work. It influenced President Kennedy, and President Johnson sent Mike a pen from the signing of the Economic Opportunity Act, the War on Poverty. The book has sold well over a million copies.

We should remember, however, that Mike’s other fifteen books were about socialism. Unlike many on the left, Mike was not an impossibilist. He believed that through union organization and an expanded safety net, the lives of everyday people—both the poor and the middle class—could be vastly improved, even under capitalism. Indeed, Mike-the-Socialist was far more optimistic about this than many liberals are today.

Nonetheless, in a subsequent essay, “Poverty and the Eighties,” Mike concluded: “There was progress; there could be more progress; the poor need not always be with us. But it will take a political movement much more imaginative and militant than those in existence in 1980 to bring that progress about.”

What happened? Why, from 1962 to the present, has that movement not come about? Indeed, everything now seems to be moving in the wrong direction. Last July an Associated Press survey of economists predicted that the poverty rate in 2012 would rise to the same level it was in 1965, the year after President Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/24753



The Corporatization of Higher Education


from Dissent magazine:



The Corporatization of Higher Education
By Nicolaus Mills - Fall 2012


In 2003, only two colleges charged more than $40,000 a year for tuition, fees, room, and board. Six years later more than two hundred colleges charged that amount. What happened between 2003 and 2009 was the start of the recession. By driving down endowments and giving tax-starved states a reason to cut back their support for higher education, the recession put new pressure on colleges and universities to raise their price.

When our current period of slow economic growth will end is anybody’s guess, but even when it does end, colleges and universities will certainly not be rolling back their prices. These days, it is not just the economic climate in which our colleges and universities find themselves that determines what they charge and how they operate; it is their increasing corporatization.

If corporatization meant only that colleges and universities were finding ways to be less wasteful, it would be a welcome turn of events. But an altogether different process is going on, one that has saddled us with a higher-education model that is both expensive to run and difficult to reform as a result of its focus on status, its view of students as customers, and its growing reliance on top-down administration. This move toward corporatization is one that the late University of Montreal professor Bill Readings noted sixteen years ago in his study, The University in Ruins, but what has happened in recent years far exceeds the alarm he sounded in the 1990s.

Rank Tyranny

The most visible sign of the corporatization of higher education lies in the commitment that colleges and universities have made to winning the ratings war perpetuated by the kinds of ranking U.S. News and World Report now offers in its annual “Best Colleges” guide. Since its relatively modest debut in 1983, the “Best Colleges” guide has grown in influence. For any number of small colleges, getting traction from the “Best Colleges” guide may be a dream, but for a wide range of middle-tier and upper-tier colleges and universities, winning a good “Best Colleges” ranking is considered so essential to success that it shapes internal policies. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/the-corporatization-of-higher-education



What Will Happen to Equal Protection Under the Law?


from OnTheCommons.org:


What Will Happen to Equal Protection Under the Law?
The Supreme Court decides major issues like voting rights and marriage equality

| by David Morris


In a democracy the majority wins. Which makes minority groups vulnerable. At the dawn of the Republic John Adams warned about “the tyranny of the majority.”

Almost a century later, the 14th Amendment finally declared that no State shall “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Despite its being passed specifically to protect the rights of ex-slaves from the south’s new Black Codes, the Supreme Court astonishingly ruled the 14th Amendment did not apply to states as it dismissed indictments for lynching two blacks that had been issued based on violations of the Amendment.

Sixty years later the Court reversed itself. In the 1950s and 1960s the Warren Court, now viewed by conservatives as engaging in unwanted judicial activism, intervened to protect minorities from state legislatures.

In 1966, the Supreme Court struck down a $1.50 tax imposed on each voter (equivalent to about $10.50 today). Legislators in southern states defended the poll tax as a way to prevent “repeaters and floaters” from committing voting fraud. The Court disagreed. It rules that voting is a fundamental constitutional right and thus the burden was on the state to prove that a discriminatory law was necessary. The Court argued that introducing a “wealth or payment of a fee as a measure of a voter’s qualifications” violated the equal protection clause by unfairly burdening low-income, mostly black voters. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://onthecommons.org/magazine/what-will-happen-equal-protection-under-law



From Master Plan to No Plan: The Slow Death of Public Higher Education


from Dissent magazine:


From Master Plan to No Plan: The Slow Death of Public Higher Education
By Aaron Bady and Mike Konczal - Fall 2012


The California student movement has a slogan that goes, “Behind every fee hike, a line of riot cops.” And no one embodies that connection more than the Ronald Reagan of the 1960s. Elected governor of California in 1966 after running a scorched-earth campaign against the University of California, Reagan vowed to “clean up that mess in Berkeley,” warned audiences of “sexual orgies so vile that I cannot describe them to you,” complained that outside agitators were bringing left-wing subversion into the university, and railed against spoiled children of privilege skipping their classes to go to protests. He also ran on an anti-tax platform and promised to put the state’s finances in order by “throw[ing] the bums off welfare.” But it was the University of California at Berkeley that provided the most useful political foil, crystallizing all of his ideological themes into a single figure for disorder, a subversive menace of sexual, social, generational, and even communist deviance.

When Reagan assumed office, he immediately set about doing exactly what he had promised. He cut state funding for higher education, laid the foundations for a shift to a tuition-based funding model, and called in the National Guard to crush student protest, which it did with unprecedented severity. But he was only able to do this because he had already successfully shifted the political debate over the meaning and purpose of public higher education in America. The first “bums” he threw off welfare were California university students. Instead of seeing the education of the state’s youth as a patriotic duty and a vital weapon in the Cold War, he cast universities as a problem in and of themselves—both an expensive welfare program and dangerously close to socialism. He even argued for the importance of tuition-based funding by suggesting that if students had to pay, they’d value their education too much to protest.

It’s important to remember this chapter in California history because it may, in retrospect, have signaled the beginning of the end of public higher education in the United States as we’d known it. It’s true that when the Great Recession began in 2008, state budgets crumbled under a crippling new fiscal reality and tuition and debt levels began to skyrocket. It was also in the context of the California student movement that the slogan “Occupy Everything, Demand Nothing” first emerged, in 2009, when students occupied campus buildings in protest against budget cuts, tuition hikes, and staff cutbacks, and were crushed by the same kind of overwhelming police force that was later mobilized against Occupy encampments across the country. But while university administrators have blamed budgetary problems on state legislatures—and scapegoated individual police officers, like the now-notorious (and former) UC-Davis “pepper spray cop,” for “overreactions”—these scenarios are déjà vu all over again for those with long memories. When Mitt Romney urges Americans to “get as much education as they can afford,” or when university administrators call the police as their first response to student protest, it’s Ronald Reagan’s playbook they’re working from. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/from-master-plan-to-no-plan-the-slow-death-of-public-higher-education



A 500-Year Revolution of the Rich Against the Poor


from OnTheCommons.org:


A 500-Year Revolution of the Rich Against the Poor
The loss of the Medieval commons still affects the world today

By Jeremy Rifkin


Medieval European agriculture was communally organized. Peasants pooled their individual holdings into open fields that were jointly cultivated, and common pastures were used to graze their animals.This system of village commons prospered for more than six hundred years at the base of the feudal pyramid, under the watchful but often nominal presence of the landlords, monarchs, and popes. Then, beginning in the 1500s, powerful new political and economic forces were unleashed, first in Tudor England and later on the continent, that ultimately destroyed villagers’ communitarian way of life.

Through legal and political maneuvers, wealthy landowners enclosed (privatized) the commons for their own profits, impoverishing many villagers. “Enclosures have been appropriately called a revolution of the rich against the poor,” noted eminent historian Karl Polanyi.

These acts paved the way for the industrial revolution. In the process, millions of peasants were dislodged from their ancestral homes and forced to migrate into the new industrial cities. If they were fortunate, they might secure subsistence employment in the new factories, whose owners eagerly took advantage of their desperate plight.

After the enclosure of the commons, land was no longer something that people belonged to, but rather a commodity that people possessed. Relationships were reorganized. Neighbors became employees or bosses. People began to view each other and everything around them in financial terms. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://onthecommons.org/magazine/500-year-revolution-rich-against-poor



The Corporatization of Higher Education


from Dissent magazine:



The Corporatization of Higher Education
By Nicolaus Mills - Fall 2012


In 2003, only two colleges charged more than $40,000 a year for tuition, fees, room, and board. Six years later more than two hundred colleges charged that amount. What happened between 2003 and 2009 was the start of the recession. By driving down endowments and giving tax-starved states a reason to cut back their support for higher education, the recession put new pressure on colleges and universities to raise their price.

When our current period of slow economic growth will end is anybody’s guess, but even when it does end, colleges and universities will certainly not be rolling back their prices. These days, it is not just the economic climate in which our colleges and universities find themselves that determines what they charge and how they operate; it is their increasing corporatization.

If corporatization meant only that colleges and universities were finding ways to be less wasteful, it would be a welcome turn of events. But an altogether different process is going on, one that has saddled us with a higher-education model that is both expensive to run and difficult to reform as a result of its focus on status, its view of students as customers, and its growing reliance on top-down administration. This move toward corporatization is one that the late University of Montreal professor Bill Readings noted sixteen years ago in his study, The University in Ruins, but what has happened in recent years far exceeds the alarm he sounded in the 1990s.

Rank Tyranny

The most visible sign of the corporatization of higher education lies in the commitment that colleges and universities have made to winning the ratings war perpetuated by the kinds of ranking U.S. News and World Report now offers in its annual “Best Colleges” guide. Since its relatively modest debut in 1983, the “Best Colleges” guide has grown in influence. For any number of small colleges, getting traction from the “Best Colleges” guide may be a dream, but for a wide range of middle-tier and upper-tier colleges and universities, winning a good “Best Colleges” ranking is considered so essential to success that it shapes internal policies. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/the-corporatization-of-higher-education



Darwin's Nightmare

from the NY Daily News:





An Indiana man tattooed his face with a Mitt Romney presidential campaign logo in exchange for $15,000.

Eric Hartsburg used the online auction house eBay to sell a 5-by-2-inch space on the side of his face, ABC News reported.

He posted the listing in August, and an anonymous Republican fan of the former Massachusetts governor paid for the promotional spot.

Hartsburg, a professional wrestler, is a registered Republican and a Romney supporter. He rejected the highest bidder because the desired tattoo was too “lewd,” he told ABC. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/election-2012/man-scores-15-000-romney-tattoo-article-1.1193898#ixzz2AbSIEm00



A 500-Year Revolution of the Rich Against the Poor


from OnTheCommons.org:


A 500-Year Revolution of the Rich Against the Poor
The loss of the Medieval commons still affects the world today

By Jeremy Rifkin


Medieval European agriculture was communally organized. Peasants pooled their individual holdings into open fields that were jointly cultivated, and common pastures were used to graze their animals.This system of village commons prospered for more than six hundred years at the base of the feudal pyramid, under the watchful but often nominal presence of the landlords, monarchs, and popes. Then, beginning in the 1500s, powerful new political and economic forces were unleashed, first in Tudor England and later on the continent, that ultimately destroyed villagers’ communitarian way of life.

Through legal and political maneuvers, wealthy landowners enclosed (privatized) the commons for their own profits, impoverishing many villagers. “Enclosures have been appropriately called a revolution of the rich against the poor,” noted eminent historian Karl Polanyi.

These acts paved the way for the industrial revolution. In the process, millions of peasants were dislodged from their ancestral homes and forced to migrate into the new industrial cities. If they were fortunate, they might secure subsistence employment in the new factories, whose owners eagerly took advantage of their desperate plight.

After the enclosure of the commons, land was no longer something that people belonged to, but rather a commodity that people possessed. Relationships were reorganized. Neighbors became employees or bosses. People began to view each other and everything around them in financial terms. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://onthecommons.org/magazine/500-year-revolution-rich-against-poor



A Deadly Shooting and the 'HOA Syndrome'


Posted by Shu Bartholomew at 9/15/2012 10:50 AM


Mahmoud Hindi, a 55 year old Spring Creek homeowner in Louisville, Kentucky, is accused of shooting and killing two board members. The shooting occurred during a board meeting in the Springdale Community Church. According to reports, Mr. Hindi had been having ongoing disputes with his HOA over alleged rules violations. Some reports claim the HOA sued Mahmoud Hindi over a fence, satellite dish and a sign that were installed without permission. Records also indicate that Mr Hindi had filed a motion asking a judge to put a stop to the association harassing him and his children.

The Kentucky shooting is not the first incident of a homeowner shooting and killing board members. Will it be the last? What triggers such violence and what can be done about it?

Joining us On The Commons is Dr. Gary Solomon. Dr. Solomon is a published author, tenured psychology professor at the College of Southern Nevada, a psychotherapist, researcher, an expert witness and a human rights advocate. Dr. Solomon is also the first psychologist to recognize the problems in HOAs as a very real health issue. He is researching the risks that he calls “The HOA Syndrome”. Join us as we discuss this latest shooting of HOA Board members and try to understand what happens to people who are under constant stress that seems to be part and parcel of HOA living.

Listen: http://onthecommons.net/2012/09/15/on-the-commons-with-dr-gary-solomon-3.aspx






The New American Job: A Part-Time Life, as Hours Shrink and Shift


from the New York Times:



By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
Published: October 27, 2012


SPRING VALLEY, Calif. — Since the Fresh & Easy grocery chain was founded five years ago, it has opened 150 stores in California and positioned itself as a hip, socially responsible company.

A cross between Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, the company brags that its house brands have no artificial colors or trans fats, that two-thirds of its produce is grown locally and that its main distribution center is powered by a $13 million solar installation.

But in one crucial respect, Fresh & Easy is just like the vast majority of large American retailers: most employees work part-time, with its stores changing many of their workers’ schedules week to week.

At its store here, just east of San Diego, Shannon Hardin oversees seven self-checkout stations, usually by herself. Typically working shifts of five or six hours, she hops between stations — bagging groceries, approving alcohol purchases, explaining the checkout system to shoppers and urging customers to join the retailer’s loyalty program, all while watching for shoplifters. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/business/a-part-time-life-as-hours-shrink-and-shift-for-american-workers.html?hp&_r=0



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