Category Archives: Social Change

i’d like to buy the kochs a world …

Freedom. Opportunity. “The pursuit of happiness.”

But what happens when the pursuit of one person’s happiness infringes on the opportunity of another person? When the agenda of one group of people reduces the freedom of another group’s aspirations?

Conflict. Oppression. Reality?

It can be hard to realize, or consider, the hopes and dreams of others. Especially when you’re not even trying to do so.

The folks at The Other 98 % have a solution, however: buy wealthy power-mongers their own world in which to do their bidding, and from which the rest of us can be left alone.

Check out their catchy retro-80s Coke commercial spinoff, inspired by the wealthy power-mongering Koch brothers.

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Filed under American Dream, Class, Economic Justice, Economic Opportunity, Social Change

the wisdom of david simon: economic intelligence from the creator of the wire

I may be a bit slow to the proverbial party here (or there, or everywhere), but it’s only in the past week that I’ve become aware of the astute societal observations of David Simon.

Simon is best known as the writer/creator of The Wire, the unbelievably excellent and roundly appreciated “cop  show” that Simon says is really “a show about the end of American Empire.” Which seems quite a lot to take on, for an hour-long primetime television show. And so all the more impressive for the honest attempt.

A self-described socialist (but not a Marxist, he is quick to note), Simon was a crime reporter for the Baltimore Sun for over a decade. Then he wrote a book, Homicide, which led to the cop show Homicide, which were both based on his journalistic observations working the beat in Baltimore.

As is portrayed with his shows, he has seen the ugly underbelly of our uber-capitalist society. And he is dead set on sharing that story, so that it can’t be (as easily) ignored.

In commenting about The Wire (and his new show Treme, about post-Katrina New Orleans), Simon doesn’t mince words when articulating the unfortunate truths of our capital-obsessed social economy. “Every single moment, on this planet, from here on out, human beings are worth less. Not more, less,” he told a crowd at Loyola College. It’s a simple, stark truth with some revealing implications.  Continue reading

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Filed under Class, Community Investing, Economic Justice, Fair Taxation, Social Change

kobe’s fine should fund gay rights

The NBA Playoffs begin today. But like many hoops fans, I’m still reeling from the recent regrettable actions of basketball superstar Kobe Bryant.

Earlier this week, during a highly-charged game against the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers icon, 5-time champion and perennial All-Star Kobe Bryant received a technical foul (his fifteenth of the year) from referee Bennie Olsen. Bryant then went to the bench, and proceeded to punch a chair in frustration, before uttering the homophobic slur heard ‘round the sporting world. “Hey Bennie! F____n f____t.”

The league immediately fined Bryant $100,000 for his verbal indiscretion, a move that was applauded by GLAAD (the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). “While I’m fully aware that basketball is an emotional game, such a distasteful term should never be tolerated,” fashion czar and league commissioner David Stern stated. “Kobe and everyone associated with the NBA know that insensitive or derogatory comments are not acceptable and have no place in our game or society.”

But while Commissioner Stern and the NBA should indeed be applauded for their swift handling of this beyond-unfortunate incident, they should not escape criticisms either.  Continue reading

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Filed under Community Investing, Social Change

revolt at the waldorf! rich activists push for higher taxes on themselves

Two weeks ago, two affluent activists from Resource Generation joined a rally at New York’s prestigious Waldorf Astoria Hotel to protest Governor Cuomo’s proposed social service cuts combined with tax cuts for the rich. They carried with them a most unusual protest sign: “Another trust-fund baby for taxing the rich.”

Why would they do this? Read about it in my recent article for InTheseTimes.com:

REVOLT AT THE WALDORF:

RICH ACTIVISTS PUSH FOR HIGHER TAXES ON THEMSELVES

A few weeks ago, outside Midtown Manhattan’s famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel, protesters gathered to rally against Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to cut funding for public services, while also cutting taxes for the wealthy. Organized by New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts, the marchers represented several organizations joining together to “Demand That Millionaires Pay Their Fair Share.”

But amidst the chants of “Not another nickel, not another dime! Bailing out millionaires is a crime!” on March 31 were two protesters holding a very unusual rally sign: “Another trust fund baby for taxing the rich! Let’s pay our fair share!”

It certainly wasn’t the first time trust-funders have made their way up Park Avenue to the prestigious Waldorf Astoria. But it was probably the first time inheritors of wealth have publicly rallied in front of the esteemed hotel for an increase in taxes on themselves.

Who would do such a thing? Why would anyone actively advocate against their own self-interest? “Our current tax system perpetuates inequality,” states Elspeth Gilmore. “Wealthy people can really change that narrative.”

Read on …


 

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Filed under Accountable Wealth, Activism, Class, Economic Justice, Fair Taxation, Philanthropy, Social Change

the sixties: living after happily ever after

I really try to avoid engulfing myself in The Sixties. Not because the era doesn’t have anything to offer. On the contrary, it continues to be a watershed moment/movement for all social change efforts that have been exerted since. Rather, I hesitate because learning about and emulating The Sixties seems to be such an easy, overly used reflex action for anyone interested in political activism and cultural change.

The Sixties, for better or worse, have become almost cliché. Overly romanticized and underappreciated at the same time.

But recently, I haven’t been able to ignore The Sixties. In fact, I’ve been (willingly) obsessed with various aspects of the decade/adent movement and its significance in our cultural history. Listening to the Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix. Watching the copy of Robert Greenwald’s Abbie Hoffman biopic Steal This Movie! that I had Netflixed (it had apparently, appropriately (?) enough, been stolen from the local library) months ago. And reading John McMillian’s recent offering Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America, as well as Tom Wolfe’s classic The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

So much of the cultural debris leftover by The Sixties centers around the critiques of its generation’s political activists and counterculturalists. Specifically, are these critiques credible, and should we value them as tools to use in our own observations of today’s society, institutions and relative norms? Or are they the whiny criticisms of unappreciative inheritors of Postwar America, aka the most powerful country in the history of the world? Regardless of which viewpoint one tends to agree with, both versions speak to the role that those active in The Sixties played in our national consciousness, and which, half a century later, we seem to be still trying to sort out.

What happens when the ambitions of a society are achieved, and then those realized ambitions are experienced by the subsequent generation as a point from which to start?  Continue reading

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Filed under Activism, American Dream, Social Change

dr. martin luther king, jr. remembered

“Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the economic injustice that makes philanthropy necessary.”                                                       – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King was killed 43 years ago today, his life and work cut short by an assassin’s bullet in Memphis, Tennessee, where he had travelled in support of striking workers.

In today’s climate of ever-growing economic inequality, we continue to miss his leadership, and celebrate his legacy.

 

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Filed under Accountable Wealth, Activism, Economic Justice, Philanthropy, Social Change

look out! here comes the progressive tax organizing campaign!

From Wisconsin to Capitol Hill to the National Football League, issues of economic equality are abundant these days.

Seems like everyone is intent on looking out for their own best interest, with little (to no) thought of whether or not their individual gain might be someone else’s loss, let alone how all of it fits together for the benefit, or detriment of our society. But thankfully, there are some folks who, working together, are trying to change that.

Resource Generation and Wealth for the Common Good are two standout organizations that organize and support wealthy folks who want to take a stand, speak out, and change the economic system from which they benefit. And they’ve recently joined forces (“Wonder twin powers activate! Form of …” a more just economy for all!) to create a Progressive Tax Organizing Campaign! Right now (deadline April 1) they are accepting applications from those who wish to become a member of the Progressive Tax Organizing Team, which will be spearheading this exciting, and most needed project. The “group will engage in a collective study on taxes, build storytelling, media and campaign skills, and work together to hone and launch a campaign.”

Want more information? Check out their Progressive Tax Campaign webpage.

Peace, love and tax justice for all …

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