an affluent activist at occupy wall street says: raise her taxes!

Occupy Wall Street …

Here’s my latest article for The Valley Advocate, about 1%er Jessie Spector, the Program Director at Resource Generation, who was arrested participating in the Occupy Wall Street protests, against her financial interest.

RAISE HER TAXES

Earlier this month, an estimated 700 Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested while attempting to cross New York’s famed Brooklyn Bridge. It was one of the largest demonstrations to date by the amorphous “Other 99 percent” representing the majority of people who don’t benefit from the socioeconomic privileges enjoyed by the upper 1 percent of wealth holders in the country.

But among the protesters arrested was Northampton native Jessie Spector, who marched that day holding a most unusual sign: “I was born into the 1%, I want redistribution, we’ll all be better for it & Tax me!”

Why would Spector do this?

“I wanted to mix up the message,” she explains. “It’s important to show there are rich people in solidarity.”

Read on … 

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Filed under Accountable Wealth, Activism, American Dream, Class, Economic Justice, Economic Opportunity, Fair Taxation, Social Change

guest post for classism exposed

Here’s the guest post I recently wrote for Classism Exposed, the blog of the economic justice organization Class Action.

SCHOOLING THE SYSTEM OF PRIVILEGE

This “back to school” season got me to thinking about my own formal education, and the teachers and professors I’ve known who have or have not used their positions of academic influence to challenge the status quo, especially the economic status quo.

The current issue of Boston Review features Noam Chomsky’s essay, “The Responsibility of Intellectuals, Redux,” which is updated from his original 1967 treatise. “As the Vietnam War escalated,” notes Boston Review, “Noam Chomsky penned … a stunning rebuke to scientists and scholars for the subservience to political power. Today we face a similar array of crises, from wars to escalating debt. What are the obligations of intellectuals in this day and age?” Which is a mighty fine question.

Read more … 

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don’t look now, it’s media coverage of economic inequality! part two

Further congratulations to the folks at the Institute for Policy Studies, whose “Executive Excess 2011” report continues to make waves in the media. Thanks in part, no doubt, to the recent hoopla around the “Warren Buffett Rule,” proposing higher taxes on millionaires and billionaires. (“The horror.”)

As they note at the end of the video above, without effective media coverage, “this type of critical analysis would not be possible.”

And the analysis, theirs and others, of economic inequality is needed more than ever these days.

 

 

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giving gay rights a sporting chance

Here’s my recent article for In These Times that is on newsstands (where they still exist) and online as of this month!

GIVING GAY RIGHTS A SPORTING CHANCE

Before New York’s momentous legalization of marriage equality this summer, former New York Giants player David Tyree made a video with the National Organization for Marriage. “It’s a strong word,” said the wide receiver, but gay marriage is the beginning of America’s slide toward “anarchy.”

But his ominous warning may be becoming more of an exception than the rule in American locker rooms. Consider the emerging critical mass of athletes publicly supporting marriage equality and challenging homophobia: Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo and New York Rangers forward Sean Avery have made advocacy videos in Maryland and New York, respectively. Grant Hill teamed up with fellow Phoenix Suns basketball player Jared Dudley to film a “Think B4 You Speak” anti-homophobic language video in April. And several Major League Baseball teams, including the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and World Series champion San Francisco Giants, have shot videos for Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” anti-bullying campaign.

Taken together, it’s a stunning amount of support from a sports culture that has historically been mired in homophobia.

Read on … 

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don’t look now, it’s media coverage of economic inequality!

While media coverage of economic inequality seems to occur with less frequency than hurricanes blowing though New York City, today appears to be the anomaly. Several publications, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Politico have all run stories about the new, revealing study, “Executive Excess 2011,” by the folks at The Institute for Policy Studies, which shows that last year “25 CEOs took home more in pay than their company paid in 2010 federal income taxes.”

Hopefully, this is the beginning of more to come. (Media coverage of economic inequality. As opposed to instances of tax abuse. Of course.)

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inside job: everything you ever wanted to know about the economy but were afraid to ask

I finally watched the (Oscar-winning) documentary Inside Job, “the first film to expose the shocking truth behind the economic crisis of 2008″ (that continues today). The film’s conclusion (spoiler alert!): we have a “Wall Street government,” and have since the 1980s, which disproportionately serves the beneficiaries of the financial sector, often at the (very literal) expense of everyone else.

While I had been meaning to watch Inside Job for a while, something always delayed me from doing so. Now that I’ve watched it, I realize what it is: the disturbing reality of our embedded “financial-industrial complex,” which, unfortunately, has not changed at all under the Obama Administration.

As the film’s writer, director and producer Craig Ferguson notesContinue reading

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matt damon for president! (or at least secretary of the treasury)

As Doc Brown observed in the 1985 film Back to the Future: “Ronald Reagan? The actor [is President of the United States]? Then who’s Vice-President? Jerry Lewis? I suppose Jane Wyman is the First Lady! … And Jack Benny is Secretary of the Treasury!”

If Ronald Reagan can do it, then why not Matt Damon?

Recently, Damon put the liberal back in Liberal Hollywood with his commentary on our current tax structure, and the correlative economic inequality our society is mired in:

“It’s criminal that so little is asked of people who are getting so much. I don’t mind paying more. I really don’t mind paying more taxes. I’d rather pay for taxes than cut Reading Is Fundamental, of Head Start, or some of these programs that are really helping kids. This is the greatest country in the world. Is it that much worse if you’re paying 6% more in taxes? Give me a break. Look at what you get for it. You get to be American.”

Conceding that a $250,000 annual salary takes the focus too close to the middle class, Damon suggests a tax reform of raising taxes on those making over $1 million/year, with a tax of 50% for those making over $5 million/year. “Why don’t you just tax the really rich?” Damon challenges. “Guys like me.”

Good question.

Democrats, are you listening?

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