Ann Fagan Ginger

Just in case you missed this…

Speaking Freely: Ann Fagan Ginger from National Lawyers Guild on Vimeo.

Ann Fagan Ginger is a lawyer, scholar, author of 22 books, and one of the Guild’s longest-serving members. In this interview she discusses her remarkable history as leading legal activist. Ginger persevered in the face of rampant sexism in and out of the Guild, appearing as the only female delegate at the first racially integrated meeting of lawyers in the South, arguing before the Supreme Court, and guiding the NLG through the Red Scare. Faced with hostility from the House Un-American Activities Committee, the FBI, and Attorney General Herbert Brownell, she successfully fought the listing of the NLG as a subversive organization and kept its organizational core intact.

This video is part of the Speaking Freely NLG video history series.

Video by Off Center Media

Connecticut Supreme Court Says State Cops Can Detain You Simply For Being In The Vicinity Of Someone They’re Arresting

from the serving-up-retcons-and-rights-removal dept
Gideon, the pseudonymous public defender who blogs at A Public Defender, has a thorough rundown of a very disturbing ruling recently issued by the Connecticut Supreme Court. It involves every Connecticut citizens’ civil liberties, which have now been thrown under a bus bearing the name “officer safety.”

The court’s decision basically makes everyone a suspect, even if they’re suspected of nothing else than being in the relative proximity of someone a police officer suspects of committing a crime, or someone simply “matching the description.” How does this work in practice? Gideon posits a single scenario, as interpreted by the person being (wrongly) detained and those doing the actual detaining.

First, imagine you are walking down a public street with your friend. You’re both on your way to the local grocery store to buy some hummus. The police pull up, take a look at you friend and mistakenly believe that he’s a notorious wanted criminal. They order him to stop. You, not wanting to be caught up in this police business, keep walking, but they order you to stop, even though they don’t know you, don’t suspect you and you haven’t done anything wrong. You have rights, dammit and you know the Fourth Amendment. Can they stop you and force you to give up your freedom?

The second is this: what I’ve just described above is a version of the events that transpired. They’re “facts” in a sense that they’re your recitation of the events. But that’s obviously not good enough, right? There is another version – that of the police officers. So who gets to decide which is the “truth”? Which is believable and accurate and should be relied upon? Because – and this is critical – the law is entirely fact-dependent. How the law applies depends on the nuances of the factual scenarios. And that is left entirely up to the trial judge: the judge that hears the evidence from you and the police officers and then decides what “actually” happened. That’s called fact-finding and will only be overturned if “clearly erroneous”. Meaning almost never. There is a deified deference paid to the trial court’s “findings of fact”.

Photo Credit: pixel.eight via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: pixel.eight via Compfight cc

As always, this situation becomes your word against theirs. But the court has now placed even more confidence in “theirs.” Your version is that you just happened to be in the vicinity of someone the police are expressing interest in. Their version is that anyone within eyesight is probably either a) an accomplice or b) a threat. And it gets even worse. The police can be completely in the wrong and still be covered by this ruling.

One of the bulwarks of the Fourth Amendment protection is that the police need something called particularized suspicion, meaning that they need to have some evidence to believe that you have committed a crime in order to stop you.

This opinion does away with that. In fact, the police don’t even have to be correct about the person in your vicinity they are seeking to stop.
So, police can be targeting the wrong person and sweep up anyone who happens to be in the vicinity and still be immune from the consequences. In essence, the court gives police the ability, if not the actual right, to detain anyone at anytime for no reason at all. How did the court manage to arrive at this bizarre rights-trampling ruling? Well, it had to do a whole lot of re-imagining of the actual events using the most paranoiac of police officers’ mindsets. As Gideon points out, he’s never seen the court engage in such a thorough retroactive fact-finding mission—one that involved massaging the facts until they conformed with the court’s preferred outcome.

From the majority opinion:

The defendant next claims that the Appellate Court incorrectly concluded that the trial court properly had found that Detective Rivera and Lieutenant Angeles were justified in detaining the defendant because they had a reasonable concern for their safety. In support of this claim, the defendant asserts that the trial court’s conclusion was based on clearly erroneous factual findings and, further, that the Appellate Court ignored those erroneous findings and improperly upheld the trial court’s ruling on the basis of facts that the trial court never found.

Explained in plain English by Gideon, who has been following this case as it has progressed through the system:

Photo Credit: pixel.eight via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: pixel.eight via Compfight cc

In support of the finding of officer safety, the trial judge found that the guy the police were looking for (who, of course, was neither of the guys stopped) had a felony warrant for possession of a firearm, and that’s it.

The Appellate Court found that the stop was justified because of the felony warrant for a firearm and credible evidence that the guy they were looking for was armed and dangerous, a fact omitted by the trial court.

The Supreme Court had to agree that the “felony possession of a firearm” factual finding was clearly erroneous because no witness testified as to those words. It was, in fact, a warrant for a violation of probation.

It doesn’t add up, but the court fudged the math. Officer safety trumps rights because credible threats are credible even when they’re not threats (a probation violation rather than an “armed and dangerous” suspect) and even when they’re not credible (no witnesses stating anything to the effect of “armed and dangerous”).

The dissenting opinion shows just how dangerous this ruling is.

I agree with the majority that the police have a legitimate interest in protecting themselves. There must be, however, some restrictions placed on the intent. In my view, there are several potential unconscionable ramifications to the majority opinion. For instance, if a suspect with an outstanding warrant is talking to his neighbor’s family near the property line, can the police now detain the entire family as part of the encounter with the suspect? If the suspect is waiting at a bus stop with six other strangers, can they all be detained? If the same suspect is observed leaving a house and stopped in the front yard, can the police now seize everyone in the house to ensure that no one will shoot them while they question the suspect? What if the suspect is detained in a neighborhood known to have a high incident of crime, can the police now seize everyone in the entire neighborhood to ensure their safety while they detain the suspect? There simply is no definition of who is a ‘‘companion’’ in the majority opinion. I would require more than mere ‘‘guilt by association.’’ Ever mindful of Franklin’s admonition, we cannot use the omnipresent specter of safety as a guise to authorize government intrusion.

This is a law enforcement blank check. This allows police to use spurious reasons to detain people they just don’t want around—like eyewitnesses and photographers. This allows police to perform en masse detentions and gives them the opportunity to root around from something more than weak obstruction/interference charges. This eliminates the public’s right to live their lives unmolested by law enforcement officers. This makes simply existing “guilt by association.” If a criminal is arrested in your yard, you and everyone in your house and every rubbernecker on the street can be detained by officers in order to ensure their safety.

Just as troubling is the amount of creative thinking the court had to engage in to reach this horrific decision. Facts are no longer facts. Facts are just something to be considered or discarded at the court’s whim.

It is certainly very curious that the Supreme Court would take the extraordinary step of clarifying “factual findings” by the trial court in an effort to support the conviction, when the clear record below – the words said by the judge in open court – would support a reversal…

Where does it stop? Are facts only facts as long as they’re convenient? Are rights only rights as long as they don’t get in the way of governmental authority?

The Connecticut Supreme Court has delivered its public into the hands of a police state. Anyone, anywhere can be detained for absolutely no reason at all, and when they complain or file lawsuits, this ruling will allow officer safety to override all other concerns. If any facts are actually considered, they’ll be filtered through law enforcement sensibilities.

Carte Blanche for War Crimes Passes Senate Unanimously

    Logically enough, under present conditions of mostly indiscriminate killing, the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva met in special session to consider this war crimes question on July 23. The council reviewed and later adopted a resolution captioned: “Ensuring respect for international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.” The lone vote against the commission of inquiry was the United States.

William Boardman | Reader Supported News | July 25, 2014

The U.S. Capitol Building (M. Scott Mahaskey/Politico)

The U.S. Capitol Building
(M. Scott Mahaskey/Politico)

Is there any doubt that Israelis and Palestinians have been committing war crimes and crimes against each other’s humanity for decades?

Objectively, that seems to be a plain fact, with particular relevance to Israel, whose existence was made possible by, among other things, acts of terror. Nowadays Israel objects, with no apparent sense of irony, when Palestinians seeking their own state also resort to acts of terror. Terrorism is a tactic of the relatively weak (as is non-violence) that sometimes seems to produce the desired result, as did Irgun’s bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946 that left 91 dead.

Weighing the merits of war criminals on any side is a fool’s game. But those playing this game include almost everyone involved with the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, as each pretends to ride a moral high horse that no longer exists, if it ever did.

Logically enough, under present conditions of mostly indiscriminate killing, the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva met in special session to consider this war crimes question on July 23. The council reviewed and later adopted a resolution captioned: “Ensuring respect for international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.” The council issued a four-page assessment of regional conditions and approved one decision:

… to urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014, whether before, during or after…. [emphasis added]

The 47-member council voted 29-1 in favor of the resolution, with 17 members (11 of them European) abstaining. The lone vote against the commission of inquiry was the United States. Neither Israel nor the Palestinians are members of the council.

The U.S. opposition to the Human Rights Council investigating violations of international law comes just months after another UN human rights agency issued a report highly critical of more than two dozen human rights violations perpetrated by the U.S. Some of these violations continue unabated, such as prisoner treatment at Guantanamo, widespread surveillance of citizens everywhere, drone assassinations, and racial injustice by police and prisons. For the United States, these abuses are all well known and they express basic policy choices. The U.S. Senate provided a recent example.

100 U.S. senators approve Israeli war crimes, in advance
Senate Resolution 498 was introduced by Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on July 10 with 79 co-sponsors and the caption: “Expressing the sense of the Senate regarding United States support for the State of Israel as it defends itself against unprovoked rocket attacks from the Hamas terrorist organization.”

Not surprisingly, the resolution provided plenty of opportunity for super-supportive senatorial Israel-bloviating. Even though the resolution text is a mix of Israeli propaganda and variously false assertion, no senator was moved to object, even to factual errors. No senator offered any amendment. On July 17, the resolution passed the Senate by unanimous consent, with no debate, resolving that the Senate:

  1. reaffirms its support for Israel’s right to defend its citizens and ensure the survival of the State of Israel;
    condemns the unprovoked rocket fire at Israel;
  2. calls on Hamas to immediately cease all rocket and other attacks against Israel; and
  3. calls on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the unity governing arrangement with Hamas and condemn the attacks on Israel.

There you have it: the unanimous consensus of the United States of America.

During the entire time this resolution was pending, Israel was bombing Gaza with little military impact, and the cost of hundreds of civilian dead. Gaza is small, 139 square miles (the size of Detroit), with the same population density as Boston. With no authority other than force, Israel has issued warnings or orders to Palestinians to leave almost half of Gaza, with a predictable dislocation of thousands of people.

Gaza, with a population of about 1.8 million, is, for all intents and purposes, just a large concentration camp. Gaza’s borders are closed and Gaza has been under siege by Israel for years (also a human rights violation). Gaza is about ten times the size of the Warsaw Ghetto (1940-1943), where more than 400,000 Jews suffered under the Nazis, at first cooperatively. When the Jews had had enough and the uprising began in 1943, the Germans responded with overwhelming force, going block-by-block blowing up houses and wiping out virtually all the residents.

Just a few hours after the United State Senate unanimously passed its resolution giving Israel the green light to do whatever it wanted to anyone it fingered as a bother, Israel’s invasion of Gaza began.

There is blood on every United States senator’s hands
By passing resolution 498 unanimously, the U.S. Senate signaled unambiguously that it had not only lost its mind, it had gone out of its way to abandon any mindful approach to endless war in the Holy Land.

By framing an intractable, multi-faceted struggle for human rights as having only one dimension—Israeli self-defense—the world’s greatest deliberative body has deliberately declared itself brain dead. No one seriously questions Israel’s rights, but not one of these self-important senators was willing to acknowledge that the right to self-defense is not Israel’s alone.

By citing “unprovoked rocket fire,” and nothing else, 100 senators have demonstrated their unwillingness to exercise complex, reality-based thinking. Certainly, as the UN Human Rights Council acknowledges again and again, Hamas rockets represent another war crime—but that doesn’t cancel decades of Israeli crimes against Palestinians.

By calling for a one-sided ceasefire, every U.S. senator offers evidence of an apparent willingness to call for other fantasies, perhaps elves and unicorns as peacekeepers. None of them has actually called for real peacekeepers.

By telling the Palestinians how to govern themselves, a unanimous Senate has revealed its corruption, dishonesty, and imperial mindset. In 2006, Hamas won an election more competitive than some senators ever face, but the U.S. as the great defender of democracy refused to accept the election results (of course this was after the 2000 American election, so the precedent was there).

By what right do the U.S. and Israel seek to dictate how Palestinians or any other people seeking self-determination choose to govern themselves? Who decided that the Palestinians should be the kaffirs of Israeli apartheid? If no one will hold the U.S. or Israel to account for their war crimes or crimes against human rights, why would they stop committing them? Why would they even acknowledge committing them?

The U.S. Senate, like the White House, acts as if calling someone else a “terrorist organization” (S. Res. 498) ends the argument, even when those making the call are themselves in the midst of carrying out terrorist acts. This is the ultimate expression of impunity, the sense that one’s worst actions will have no bad consequences.

Much of the world believes that the United States and Israel behave with just such a sense of impunity. And that’s one of the deeper concerns embedded in the Human Rights Council’s commission of inquiry, to probe all violations “with a view to avoiding and ending impunity and ensuring that those responsible are held accountable.” That begins to sound like international justice. No wonder the United States opposed it.

    William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
    Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. Posted by Portside on July 28, 2014

The Worst Job In New York: Immigrant America

Photo Credit: crowdive via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: crowdive via Compfight cc

Milking cows is a dirty, monotonous job, and as we found out in our latest episode of Immigrant America, it’s not a job many unemployed Americans are willing to do. But for some reason the government doesn’t give dairy farms a way to recruit foreign workers legally, so most feel forced to hire illegal immigrants. This makes the farms and their workers easy targets for immigration authorities looking to fill deportation quotas. We went to upstate New York to try to understand the cat and mouse game going on between dairy farms and immigration authorities. We found a lot of wasted taxpayer money, racial profiling, and a broken system that unnecessarily treats family farmers and hardworking immigrants like criminals.

Border Patrol Propaganda Producers Tell Us They Think US Immigration Policy is Broken:

Leveling the Playing Field for Worker Cooperatives

By Abby Scher, Truthout | News Analysis

(Photo: Jay Gorman, Shaking hands via Shutterstock; Edited: EL / TO)

(Photo: Jay Gorman, Shaking hands via Shutterstock; Edited: EL / TO)

Worker Cooperatives are designed to help build assets and wealth among low-income individuals and communities, and create entrepreneurs and community leaders.

A quiet revolution is rumbling through New York’s municipal offices as they retool to support the creation of worker cooperatives as a way to fight poverty.

Spurred by the powerful example of immigrant-owned cleaning cooperatives and the longstanding example of Cooperative Home Care Associates in the Bronx – the largest worker cooperative in the country – progressive city council members are allying with a new network of worker cooperatives, community based organizations that incubated immigrant-owned coops and the influential Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies to figure out how the city can encourage this still-tiny economic sector. Once fully in place, New York City will be a national leader in providing municipal support for these democratic enterprises.

Worker Cooperatives are designed to help build assets and wealth among low-income individuals and communities, and create entrepreneurs and community leaders.

The pace of change is dizzying. In January, the federation released a short report arguing that worker coops help improve traditionally low-wage jobs by channeling the enterprises’ profits directly to their worker members, improving their lives in tangible ways. Then in February, Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo, chairwoman of the Committee on Community Development, held a hearing which put staff from the city’s Small Business Services and Economic Development Agency in the hot seat about how they were promoting worker cooperatives. In their final budget agreement on June 19th, the mayor agreed to the City Council’s request for $1.2 million for training programs with the aim of incubating a minimum of 234 new jobs, 28 new worker coops and help another 20 existing worker cooperatives to grow.

“We got it. the whole thing, we are so excited and thankful to the City Council, the mayor, the public advocate and borough president for their support for workplace democracy” said Chris Michael, director of the NYC Netwrork of Worker Cooperatives.

In making the budget appeal, the City Council wrote, “Often times minimum- and low-wage jobs do not provide enough of an economic boost to provide upward mobility for many New Yorkers. Worker Cooperatives are designed to help build assets and wealth among low-income individuals and communities, and create entrepreneurs and community leaders.”

It continued, “This initiative will target the long-term unemployed and the growing number of under- employed and discouraged workers in high-needs neighborhoods.”

Worker coops are businesses that distribute more of the profits to employees because the worker-owners control the operation on the basis of one member, one vote. More than a third in the United States are in the service sector and are relatively small. They may operate with a staff hierarchy but even in larger coops the wage scale is relatively egalitarian. The businesses’ surplus gets circulated to the member-workers, not to external shareholders, as in traditional corporations.

The possibility of empowering low-wage workers inspires Rosie Mendez, a city councilwoman representing the East Village, including Colors, the restaurant coop formed by former staffers of Windows on the World in the World Trade Center. “It would go a long way to eradicating unemployment and strengthening our workforce,” she said following the May 14 rally on the city hall steps.

Activists flyered in front of the City Council to promote the funding, winning an offhand remark from a passing Mayor DeBlasio that he “loves worker coops”!

At the national conference of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives in late May, executive director Melissa Hoover acknowledged the importance of strong allies to promote the vital public policy changes needed for growth, given the small number of the democratic enterprises – there are perhaps 300 worker coops in the entire country. Twenty-three of them are in New York City, and with coop incubators like the Center for Family Life in Brooklyn, they are much more likely to be immigrant-run than those in some other coop centers, such as Minnesota, Massachusetts or Wisconsin. (The SF Bay area, with two dozen enterprises, is also home to prominent immigrant-owned coops and the coop incubator WAGES.) While the Bay area, Madison and Western Massachusetts all have coop networks, the NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives is only holding its first conference June 21. It can’t carry the weight of a full lobbying effort. This makes the interest of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) in worker coops particularly notable.

While researchers try to connect the dots about the power of worker coops as poverty fighters, they are faced with relatively thin data because of the low numbers of the enterprises in this country.

The 92-year-old organization is a network of social service agencies and churches led by Jennifer Jones Austin, a well-connected New Yorker who cochaired Mayor DeBlasio’s transition team and who once served in the Bloomberg administration. She had been executive director of FPWA just over a year when it released its report on worker coops. Its author, research director Noah Franklin, made the connection between worker coops and fighting poverty at the January conference marking its release. “Why are we advocating for worker cooperatives now?” he asked. “More than 20 percent of New Yorkers are living in poverty.” He added, “Business hiring trends have only added to the ranks of low-wage workers” – despite the usual city giveaways to big companies in the name of job creation. Here is a “policy misalignment.” But as democratic enterprises, coops are more than one piece of an economic development model. They give workers more control over their work environment, and their capacity for democratic participation in the wider world is enriched.

Workers in low-wage jobs can increase their income as members of coops, from receiving more and steadier hours of work and higher hourly wages, according to a recent report by Hilary Abell, the former director of WAGES. “Many members have health insurance and paid time off for the first time in their lives.”

Elisa Perez, a founding member of Si Se Puede, the large cleaning coop launched by Center for Family Life in Brooklyn, put it simply. “As a member, it has allowed me to have dignifying job.” For some in her coop, it meant tripling their former income to $25 an hour. Of course, worker ownership does not necessarily mean higher wages or better hours – they are subject to market forces and even the self-exploitation found in many small businesses.

‘We only recently got wages above $10 an hour,” said Michael Elsas, president of Cooperative Home Care Associates.

The federation’s structure representing social service agencies makes it no surprise that its strategy heavily supports the “service agencies” in the coop sector. These are coop incubators like the Center for Family Life, which is a large social service organization in Sunset Park that since 2006 has launched, or is launching, eight immigrant-run coops.

Councilwoman Arroyo, who led the fight in the City Council, represents the South Bronx, a borough that is rich with cooperative resources, including a school called Green Worker Cooperatives, which would receive funding. A coop policy promoter in another region, reviewing the NY plan, noted that it does not set up a democratic process for coop incubators to apply for funds: At least in the form presented to the mayor, the council plan would direct funds to particular organizations. When larger funds are in play, he advised looking to another model – the funding mechanisms set up by the US Department of Agriculture, arguably the largest coop promoter in the country, all in rural areas. Low-income coops also involve a lot of “workforce development” and training of the worker-owners and so need support from incubators for as long as five years; this makes multiyear funding commitments ideal.

While researchers try to connect the dots about the power of worker coops as poverty fighters, they are faced with relatively thin data because of the low numbers of the enterprises in this country. Advocates look to Quebec, the Basque region of Spain and Emilia Romagna in northern Italy, regions that are relatively dense with worker cooperatives, in part because of the support of government policy, strong mechanisms for funding and rich networks with other democratic enterprises including banks and sometimes unions.

Other cities are also inspired by these models – the mayor of Richmond, Calif., visited the Mondragon coops in the Basque region, and the mayor of Madison, Wisc., hosted a conference in June 2102 on cooperative businesses. Chokwe Lumumba, the radical mayor of Jackson, Miss., planned to create a coop incubator as part of city government, but that plan tragically derailed when he died earlier this year. Local activists are pursuing the same goal through nongovernmental means. Richmond’s coop developer is no longer on staff, but an independent $50,000 revolving loan fund to support coops is still operating. Madison has a strong network of worker coops, and a coop center based at the state university; the conference created an agenda for government action, and at this point, cooperators are reaching out to educate economic development agencies about how they can support the enterprises.

These are the low-hanging fruit – merely removing discrimination against coop business that might be in the practice of government agencies, and making their services accessible.

There is surprising momentum in Reading, Penn., a city teetering on bankruptcy. With the support of the Steelworkers, the mayor, and Philadelphia-based experts, coop incubation is in the works that is part of a larger economic development strategy. In Oakland, local coops and the Sustainable Economies Law Center are considering promoting policies that would give coops preference in city contracting, and reduce their permit fees, among other strategies, to foster healthy economic development. Richmond, Va.,’s mayor just created an Office of Community Wealth Building, helmed by an associate of coop promoter Gar Alperovitz. And Cincinnati’s mayor is reportedly intrigued not just by the Mondragon model, but potential alliances with Mondragon itself.

In New York, a mere month or two after the release of the FPWA report, city agencies took low-cost steps to support worker coops. By April, Small Business Services (SBS) staffers were distributing informational materials about cooperatives at its business solution centers throughout the city. The agency revised its standard class, “10 Steps to Starting a Business,” to include worker cooperatives; the new curriculum is now being taught in all five boroughs. SBS is also designing a new course entirely dedicated to how to start a worker coop that will be offered this summer at its NYC Business Solutions Centers in Washington Heights and Brooklyn. To craft this new curriculum, the SBS sat down with Joe Rinehart of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives’ Democracy at Work Institute, Chris Michael of the NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives and other coop advocates, brokered by the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies. (In the Bay area, the US Federation of Worker Coops and the Sustainable Economies Law Center are creating a worker coop curriculum for a local community college. If successful, it could be taught in other community colleges in the state.)

NYC’s “business solution centers” offer pro bono legal help and financing, not just technical assistance, so training its trainers to understand worker coops could be a boon to the movement. Worker coops are often launched by people who have a skill – like cleaning – but not the business experience needed to create a viable enterprise. Some coops face complex and unfamiliar challenges when they aspire to operate collectively. Cooperators have already met with the business center staff to train them in the particular challenges worker coops face so they can field questions. NYC also provides affordable space for incubating small businesses that is open to coops. These are the low-hanging fruit – merely removing discrimination against coop business that might be in the practice of government agencies, and making their services accessible.

Cooperative Home Care Associates in the Bronx and its 2,300 workers – 1,110 of them worker owners – already benefit from city workforce development funds. This is another important area for other worker coops to explore, and has proven to be important for some Quebec worker coops in low-income areas.

“We think the city of New York, for the low wage sector, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done on the workforce development side before you start creating small coops,” said Elsas. “We think right now it’s all about workforce development.”

The next phase in developing the city’s policies toward worker coops is more challenging. Advocates and their city council allies are aware that there are daunting barriers to worker coops benefiting from vital loan and grant programs or city contracts because of the structure of their enterprises. SBS is charged with helping small, minority and women-owned businesses navigate the system. Even before the city hearing, coop activists were engaging SBS about contracts.

“One of the big ones is loans to expand the business, to have more funding support to invest in marketing,” said Ligia Guallpa, director of Worker Justice Project, which launched the Apple Eco Cleaning Cooperative in 2010.

“To get SBS grant funds, every owner has to fill out paperwork. In a coop of 2,000 members, that’s enormous,” said Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, chair of the council’s powerful contracts committee. “It’s something we’re definitely wrestling with. This is part of taking responsibility as an owner.”

Coop advocates want the city to give preferential treatment to these enterprises in their contracts, much as it supports “minority- and women-owned businesses” with an “aspirational” goal of 20 percent of contracts. That is a tall order.

In early summer, Rosenthal plans to introduce legislation that requires city agencies to report on their outreach and contracts with worker coops. “That way we can start to introduce the lexicon of worker coops into these agencies who might not know about them.”

“As I’ve learned more about worker coops, instinctively I support them,” she said. “My mother started the first coop nursery school where I grew up. I know it’s possible. The trick is to find opportunities where worker coops make sense and use it for job creation and job stability, particularly among low-income workers.”

Cities are also an important arena for coop policy since national initiatives are at a standstill.

Another challenge: large-scale coop development. The NY Network of Worker Coops is working with a coop consultant to identify market niches where coops might grow. Impoverished parts of New York also have the potential to develop worker cooperatives servicing “anchor institutions” like universities and hospitals, as the Evergreen cooperative laundry, energy company and hydroponic farm have done in Cleveland. The MIT CoLab is proposing just such an initiative in the Bronx. In Cleveland, the city economic development agency played a key role in brokering funds for the initiative. This is not yet on the horizon in NYC.

But NY development under Mayor Bloomberg and his predecessors was notorious for giveaways to big real estate interests and corporations. Even now, groups are fighting $100 million in proposed government giveaways for an online grocer, FreshDirect, to move from Queens to the Bronx waterfront.

Reorienting economic development toward economic democracy may be easier when it travels the well-worn grooves supporting small businesses but not if it means shifting real resources that challenge established economic interests. Still, there is a strong argument for supporting coops and other forms of worker ownership at the municipal level because the usual tax abatements and other giveaways too often support extractive companies that pay as little as possible to the workers on the ground while sending surplus to stockholders or top executives.

Cities are also an important arena for coop policy since national initiatives are at a standstill. In early June, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders again proposed legislation to fund state employee ownership centers like those in Ohio and Vermont that provide technical assistance to both worker cooperatives and employee stock ownership programs, companies that distribute wealth more equitably than most companies and are on occasion also governed democratically. His bill would also create a public bank that would provide much needed loans. Similarly, Congressman Chaka Fatta of Pennsylvania, working with the National Cooperative Business Association and Cooperation Works, devised a bill that would fund coop development in low-income communities through a Housing and Urban Development initiative. The vision is there, but the muscle right now is in localities. Where progressive mayors and city councils are in charge, as in New York, there are opportunities that can remake economic development for a new generation.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Abby Scher is a sociologist and journalist who writes frequently about economic justice and the right.

Bond v. United States Demonstrates Why International Law Classes Should be Mandated for Law Students and Practicing Attorneys

By Human Rights at Home
by Penny Venetis

On June 2, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in Bond v. United States. The facts in Bond are so ridiculous that unfortunately every news outlet reporting on the case spent more time describing them than discussing the complex legal issues raised by the opinion. It is clear that in writing the majority opinion, Chief Justice Roberts took great delight in drafting language that showcased his amusement with the facts, without crossing the lines of propriety. Hidden behind the pathetic facts of the case, however, are critical legal issues involving international and constitutional law, federalism, and domestic implementation of international treaties.

The facts can be distilled to two sentences: After learning that her husband impregnated her best friend, Ms. Bond put chemicals on surfaces that her friend was likely to touch. The pregnant friend avoided most of the chemicals, and suffered only a minor burn to her thumb (which was remedied by putting it under running water).

Miffed that the local prosecutor did not take the case seriously, a zealous federal prosecutor in Pennsylvania successfully brought charges against Ms. Bond for violating the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act of 1998. Congress enacted this 1998 statute to enforce domestically the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Stockpiling, and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction that the U.S. ratified in 1997. Such implementing legislation is necessary because there is a presumption that treaties are not self-executing (i.e., that they cannot be enforced domestically) unless Congress specifically states so in the treaty itself, or subsequently enacts implementing legislation.

Simply by charging her with violating the Chemical Weapons Convention, the prosecutor took the case out of the local realm and turned it into a major debate about the relationship between international treaties and domestic law. By the time the case got to the Supreme Court, the focus was no longer on Ms. Bond’s two-bit vengeful acts, but rather, on whether Congress had the constitutional authority to enact legislation that implements international treaties domestically. Did the prosecutor really intend for this to happen?

Photo Credit: avp17 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: avp17 via Compfight cc

The Supreme Court unanimously held that Congress did not intend the CWCIA to extend to crimes like Ms. Bond’s. Allowing Ms. Bond’s conviction to stand “would transform the statute from one whose core concerns are acts of war, assassination and terrorism into a massive federal anti-poisoning regime that reaches the simplest of assaults.” In the process of issuing a very limited majority opinion, Chief Justice Roberts wrote quite extensively, however, on the relationship between federal and state law.

Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito grabbed the opportunity to use this ridiculous case as a platform for their Federalist Society viewpoints. Their opinions call into question Congressional power to implement treaties domestically. Their opinions challenge the 1920 case Missouri v. Holland, which courts have long interpreted as giving Congress the power to enact legislation to implement treaties domestically, even when the implementing legislation intrudes on what would otherwise be within a state’s exclusive province.

Justice Scalia sounds the alarms that international treaty provisions might cause courts to override Supreme Court cases limiting Congressional power. (Tellingly, the only two examples he could muster to demonstrate his point were the Supreme Court’s very divided decisions striking down parts of the Violence Against Women Act, and federal gun control laws that limited firearm use near schools!) Justice Thomas’s opinion goes even further. He calls into question Congress’s authority to enter into any treaties that do not concern foreign relations. Treaties that would fall into that category that readily come to mind are international human rights treaties.

When reading the opinion, I wondered why in his right mind the prosecutor charged Ms. Bond with violating the Chemical Weapons Convention. Although I have not spoken with the prosecutor, I have concluded that it is highly unlikely that he had any idea of the implications of his actions. I also highly doubt that the prosecutor wanted this wacky case to be a test case for Georgetown professor Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz’s theory that Missouri v. Holland should be overruled. Rosenkranz’s 2005 Harvard Law Review article on that subject sparked countless academic symposia, and was embraced fully by Justice Scalia in Bond.

If the prosecutor had taken a basic course in international law in law school, however, or a CLE course covering those topics, he most likely would have thought twice before invoking the Chemical Weapons Convention. As Chief Justice Roberts pointed out, a plethora of other criminal statutes exist that most certainly cover adequately Ms. Bond’s legal transgressions. The Chemical Weapons Convention is a treaty, which by definitions has international implications. Had the prosecutor known even basic international law, he would have realized that parties outside of Norristown, Pennsylvania would be watching his case very very closely.

We are in an era where law schools are re-thinking their curricula in response to criticism by judges and employers that law students are ill prepared for the practice of law. Law schools are focusing on adding “experiential” components to doctrinal classes. They are also contemplating making legal clinics mandatory, or having law school be two years of classes and a third year of supervised hands-on lawyering. All of those good ideas should be explored further.

On the heels of Bond v. US, however, I propose another large-scale curricular change. Law schools and state bars should require all law students and practicing lawyers to take at least one course in international law. That course should cover both public and private international law.

Today, everyone, including lawyers, comes into contact with international issues. Even small local businesses deal with international law issues, whether they realize it or not. (For example, the local deli may sell vegetables from Peru and employ documented or undocumented immigrants.) Thousands of refugees flee war-ravished failed states in search of safe homes that, sometimes, are half way around the globe. As a result, the U.S. and countries around the world are struggling to define their immigration policies. And, on and on it goes.

That is why lawyers need to be able to recognize the full scope of international law issues when they encounter them. Lawyers need to know the implications of invoking international law, and should know when they are in danger of making bad law that they did not intend. Many valuable resources would have been saved if the federal prosecutor who charged Bond, or his supervisor, realized that invoking the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act for such a petty crime was pure folly. Because they failed to engage in basic issue spotting, we now have a U.S. Supreme Court decision where three concurring justices seriously call into question case law that has been settled for nearly 100 years that defines Congress’s treaty-making powers.

For global brotherhood among the peoples

Speech by Evo Morales Ayma
Santa Cruz, Bolivia, June 14, 2014

Raul Castro, Evo Morales and Nicolas Maduro at the Group of 77 Summit

Raul Castro, Evo Morales and Nicolas Maduro at the Group of 77 Summit

‘Only we can save the source of life and society: Mother Earth. Our planet is under a death threat from predatory and insane capitalism. Another world is not only possible, it is indispensable, because otherwise, no world will be possible.’

    Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, gave this remarkable opening talk at the summit of the Group of 77 plus China, meeting in Santa Clara, Bolivia this month. Thanks to Richard Fidler for editing the hastily produced official translation. For background on the talk and the summit, see Richard’s introduction on his blog, Life on the Left.

Raul Castro, Evo Morales and Nicolas Maduro at the Group of 77 Summit

Raul Castro, Evo Morales and Nicolas Maduro at the Group of 77 Summit

Fifty years ago, great leaders raised the flags of the anticolonial struggle and decided to join with their peoples in a march along the path of sovereignty and independence.

The world superpowers and transnationals were competing for control of territories and natural resources in order to continue expanding at the cost of impoverishing the peoples of the South.

In that context, on June 15, 1964, at the conclusion of an UNCTAD [United Nations Conference on Trade and Development] meeting, 77 countries from the South (we are now 133 plus China) met to enhance their trade bargaining capacities, by acting in a bloc to advance their collective interests while respecting their individual sovereign decisions.

During the past 50 years, these countries went beyond their statements and promoted resolutions at the United Nations and joint action in favor of development underpinned by South-South cooperation, a new world economic order, a responsible approach to climate change, and economic relations based on preferential treatment.

In this journey the struggle for decolonization as well as for the peoples’ self-determination and sovereignty over their natural resources must be highlighted. Notwithstanding these efforts and struggles for equality and justice for the world’s peoples, the hierarchies and inequalities in the world have increased.

Today, 10 countries in the world control 40% of the world’s total wealth and 15 transnational corporations control 50% of global output. Today, as 100 years ago, acting in the name of the free market and democracy, a handful of imperial powers invades countries, blocks trade, imposes prices on the rest of the world, chokes national economies, plots against progressive governments and resorts to espionage against the inhabitants of this planet.

A tiny elite of countries and transnational corporations controls, in an authoritarian fashion, the destinies of the world, its economies and its natural resources.

The economic and social inequality between regions, between countries, between social classes and between individuals has grown outrageously. About 0.1% of the world’s population owns 20% of humanity’s assets. In 1920, a business manager in the United States made 20 times the wage of a worker, but today he is paid 331 times that wage. This unfair concentration of wealth and predatory destruction of nature are also generating a structural crisis that is becoming unsustainable over time. It is indeed a structural crisis. It impacts every component of capitalist development. In other words, it is a mutually reinforcing crisis affecting international finance, energy, climate, water, food, institutions and values. It is a crisis inherent to capitalist civilization.

The financial crisis was prompted by the greedy pursuit of profits from financial capital that led to profound international financial speculation, a practice that favored certain groups, transnational corporations or power centers that amassed great wealth. The financial bubbles that generate speculative gains eventually burst, and in the process they plunged into poverty the workers who had received cheap credit, the middle-class savings-account holders who had trusted their deposits to greedy speculators. The latter overnight went bankrupt or took their capital to other countries, thus leading entire nations into bankruptcy. We are also faced with an energy crisis that is driven by excessive consumption in developed countries, pollution from energy sources and the energy hoarding practices of the transnational corporations.

Parallel with this, we witness a global reduction in reserves and high costs of oil and gas development, while productive capacity drops due to the gradual depletion of fossil fuels and global climate change. The climate crisis is caused by the anarchy of capitalist production, with consumption levels and unharnessed industrialization that have resulted in excessive emissions of polluting gases that in turn have led to global warming and natural disasters affecting the entire world. For more than 15,000 years prior to the era of capitalist industrialization, greenhouse gases did not amount to more than 250 parts per million molecules in the atmosphere.

Since the 19th century, and in particular in the 20th and 21st centuries, thanks to the actions of predatory capitalism, this count has risen to 400 ppm, and global warming has become an irreversible process along with weather disasters the primary impacts of which are felt in the poorest and most vulnerable countries of the South, and in particular the island nations, as a result of the thawing of the glaciers.

In turn, global warming is generating a water supply crisis that is compounded by privatization, depletion of sources and commercialization of fresh water. As a consequence, the number of people without access to potable water is growing apace. The water shortage in many parts of the planet is leading to armed conflicts and wars that further aggravate the lack of availability of this non-renewable resource. The world population is growing while food production is dropping, and these trends are leading to a food crisis. Add to these issues the reduction of food-producing lands, the imbalances between urban and rural areas, the monopoly exercised by transnational corporations over the marketing of seeds and agricultural inputs, and the speculation in food prices.

The imperial model of concentration and speculation has also caused an institutional crisis that is characterized by an unequal and unjust distribution of power in the world in particular within the UN system, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization. As a result of all these developments, peoples’ social rights are endangered. The promise of equality and justice for the whole world becomes more and more remote and nature itself is threatened with extinction.

We have reached a limit, and global action is urgently needed to save society, humanity and Mother Earth.

image_thumb[2]Bolivia has started to take steps to address these issues. Up to 2005, Bolivia applied a neoliberal policy that resulted in concentration of wealth, social inequality and poverty, increasing marginalization, discrimination and social exclusion.

In Bolivia, the historic struggles waged by social movements, in particular the indigenous peasant movement, have allowed us to initiate a Democratic and Cultural Revolution, through the ballot box and without the use of violence. This revolution is rooting out exclusion, exploitation, hunger and hatred, and it is rebuilding the path of balance, complementarity, and consensus with its own identity, Vivir Bien.

Beginning in 2006, the Bolivian government introduced a new economic and social policy, enshrined in a new community-based socio-economic and productive model, the pillars of which are nationalization of natural resources, recovery of the economic surplus for the benefit of all Bolivians, redistribution of the wealth, and active participation of the State in the economy.

In 2006, the Bolivian government and people made their most significant political, economic and social decision: nationalization of the country’s hydrocarbons, the central axis of our revolution. The state thereby participates in and controls the ownership of our hydrocarbons and processes our natural gas.

Contrary to the neoliberal prescription that economic growth ought to be based on external market demand (“export or die”), our new model has relied on a combination of exports with a domestic market growth that is primarily driven by income-redistribution policies, successive increases in the national minimum wage, annual salary increases in excess of the inflation rate, cross subsidies and conditional cash transfers to the neediest.

As a consequence, the Bolivian GDP has increased from $9.0 billion to over $30.0 billion over the past eight years.

Our nationalized hydrocarbons, economic growth and cost austerity policy have helped the country generate budget surpluses for eight years in a row, in sharp contrast with the recurrent budget deficits experienced by Bolivia for more than 66 years. When we took over the country’s administration, the ratio between the wealthiest and poorest Bolivians was 128 fold. This ratio has been cut down to 46 fold. Bolivia now is one of the top six countries in our region with the best income distribution.

It has been shown that the peoples have options and that we can overcome the fate imposed by colonialism and neoliberalism.

These achievements produced in such a short span are attributable to the social and political awareness of the Bolivian people. We have recovered our nation for all of us. Ours was a nation that had been alienated by the neoliberal model, a nation that lived under the old and evil system of political parties, a nation that was ruled from abroad, as if we were a colony. We are no longer an unviable country as we were described by the international financial institutions. We are no longer an ungovernable country as the US empire would have us believe.

Today, the Bolivian people have recovered their dignity and pride, and we believe in our strength, our destiny and ourselves. I want to tell the entire world in the most humble terms that the only wise architects who can change their future are the peoples themselves.

Therefore, we intend to build another world, and several tasks have been designed to establish the society of Vivir Bien.

    First: We must move from sustainable development to comprehensive development [desarrollo integral] so that we can live well and in harmony and balance with Mother Earth. We need to construct a vision that is different from the western capitalist development model. We must move from the sustainable development paradigm to the Bien Vivir comprehensive development approach that seeks not only a balance among human beings, but also a balance and harmony with our Mother Earth.

    No development model can be sustainable if production destroys Mother Earth as a source of life and our own existence. No economy can be long-lasting if it generates inequalities and exclusions. No progress is just and desirable if the well-being of some is at the expense of the exploitation and impoverishment of others.

    Vivir Bien Comprehensive Development means providing well-being for everyone, without exclusions. It means respect for the diversity of economies of our societies. It means respect for local knowledge. It means respect for Mother Earth and its biodiversity as a source of nurture for future generations.

    Vivir Bien Comprehensive Development also means production to satisfy actual needs, and not to expand profits infinitely. It means distributing wealth and healing the wounds caused by inequality, rather than widening injustice. It means combining modern science with the age-old technological wisdom held by the indigenous, native and peasant peoples who interact respectfully with nature.

    It means listening to the people, rather than the financial markets.

    It means placing Nature at the core of life and regarding the human being as just another creature of Nature.

    The Vivir Bien Comprehensive Development model of respect for Mother Earth is not an ecologist economy for poor countries alone, while the rich nations expand inequality and destroy Nature. Comprehensive development is only viable if applied worldwide, if the states, in conjunction with their respective peoples, exercise control over all of their energy resources.

    We need technologies, investments, production and credits, as well as companies and markets, but we shall not subordinate them to the dictatorship of profits and luxury. Instead, we must place them at the service of the peoples to satisfy their needs and to expand our common goods and services.

    Second: Sovereignty exercised over natural resources and strategic areas. Countries that have raw materials should and can take sovereign control over production and processing of those materials.

    Nationalization of strategic companies and areas can help the state take over the management of production, exercise sovereign control over its wealth, embark on a planning process that leads to the processing of raw materials, and distribute the profit among its people.

    Exercising sovereignty over natural resources and strategic areas does not mean isolation from global markets; rather, it means connecting to those markets for the benefit of our countries, and not f the benefit of a few private owners. Sovereignty over natural resources and strategic areas does not mean preventing foreign capital and technologies from participating. It means subordinating these investments and technologies to the needs of each country.

    Third: Well-being for everyone and the provision of basic services as a human right. The worst tyranny faced by humankind is allowing basic services to be under the control of transnational corporations. This practice subjugates humanity to the specific interests and commercial aims of a minority who become rich and powerful at the expense of the life and security of other persons.

    This is why we claim that basic services are inherent to the human condition. How can a human being live without potable water, electrical energy or communications? If human rights are to make us all equal, this equality can only be realized through universal access to basic services. Our need for water, like our need for light and communications, makes us all equal.

    The resolution of social inequities requires that both international law and the national legislation of each country define basic services (such as water, power supply, communications and basic health care) as a fundamental human right of every individual.

    This means that states have a legal obligation to secure the universal provision of basic services, irrespective of costs or profits.

    Fourth: Emancipation from the existing international financial system and construction of a new financial architecture.

    1. We propose that we free ourselves from the international financial yoke by building a new financial system that prioritizes the requirements of the productive operations in the countries of the South, within the context of comprehensive development.
    2. We must incorporate and enhance banks of the South that support industrial development projects, reinforce regional and domestic markets, and promote trade among our countries, but on the basis of complementarity and solidarity.
    3. We also need to promote sovereign regulation over the global financial transactions that threaten the stability of our national economies.
    4. We must design an international mechanism for restructuring our debts, which serve to reinforce the dependence of the peoples of the South and strangle their development possibilities.
    5. We must replace international financial institutions such as the IMF with other entities that provide for a better and broader participation of the countries of the South in their decision-making structures that are currently in the grip of imperial powers.
    6. We also need to define limits to gains from speculation and to excessive accumulation of wealth.
    Fifth: Build a major economic, scientific, technological and cultural partnership among the members of the group of 77 plus China.
    After centuries under colonial rule, transfers of wealth to imperial metropolises and impoverishment of our economies, the countries of the South have begun to regain decisive importance in the performance of the world economy.

    Asia, Africa and Latin America are not only home to 77% of the world’s population, but they also account for nearly 43% of the world economy. And this importance is on the rise. The peoples of the South are the future of the world. Immediate actions must be taken to reinforce and plan this inescapable global trend.

    1. We need to expand trade among the countries of the South. We also need to gear our productive operations to the requirements of other economies in the South on the basis of complementarity of needs and capacities.
    2. We need to implement technology transfer programs among the countries of the South. Not every country acting on its own can achieve the technological sovereignty and leadership that are critical for a new global economy based on justice.
    3. Science must be an asset of humanity as a whole. Science must be placed at the service of everyone’s well-being, without exclusions or hegemonies. A decent future for all the peoples around the world will require integration for liberation, rather than cooperation for domination.

    To discharge these worthy tasks to the benefit of the peoples of the world, we have invited Russia and other foreign countries that are our brothers in needs and commitments to join the Group of 77. Our Group of 77 alliance does not have an institution of its own to give effect to the approaches, statements and action plans of our countries. For this reason, Bolivia proposes that an Institute For Decolonization and South-South Co-operation be established.

    This institute will be charged with provision of technical assistance to the countries of the South, as well as further implementation of the proposals made by the Group of 77 plus China. The institute will also supply technical and capacity-building assistance for development and self-determination, and it will help conduct research projects. We propose that this institute be headquartered in Bolivia.

    Sixth: Eradicate hunger among the world’s peoples. It is imperative that hunger be eradicated and that the human right to food be fully exercised and enforced.

    Food production must be prioritized with the involvement of small growers and indigenous peasant communities that hold age-old knowledge in regard to this activity.

    To be successful in hunger eradication, the countries of the South must lay down the conditions for democratic and equitable access to land ownership, so that monopolies over this resource are not allowed to persist in the form of latifundia. However, fragmentation into small and unproductive plots must not be encouraged either.

    Food sovereignty and security must be enhanced through access to healthy foods for the benefit of the people. The monopoly held by transnational corporations over the supply of farm inputs must be eliminated as a way to foster food security and sovereignty.

    Each country must make sure that the supply of the basic food staples consumed by its people is secured by enhancing productive, cultural and environmental practices, and by promoting people-to-people exchanges on the basis of solidarity. Governments have an obligation to ensure the supply of power, the availability of road connections and access to water and organic fertilizers.

    Seventh: Strengthen the sovereignty of states free from foreign interference, intervention and/or espionage. Within the framework of the United Nations, a new institutional structure must be promoted in support of a New World Order for Vivir Bien.

    The institutions that emerged after World War II, including the United Nations, are in need of a thorough reform today. International agencies that promote peace, eliminate global hegemonism and advance equality among states are required.

    For this reason, the UN Security Council must be abolished. Rather than fostering peace among nations, this body has promoted wars and invasions by imperial powers in their quest for the natural resources available in the invaded countries. Instead of a Security Council, today we have an insecurity council of imperial wars. No country, no institution and no interest can justify the invasion of one country by another. The sovereignty of states and the internal resolution of the conflicts that exist in any country are the foundation of peace and of the United Nations.

    I stand here to denounce the unjust economic blockade imposed on Cuba and the aggressive and illegal policies pursued by the US government against Venezuela, including a legislative initiative offered at the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee designed to apply sanctions to that country to the detriment of its sovereignty and political independence, a clear breach of the principles and purposes of the UN Charter.

    These forms of persecution and internationally driven coups are the traits of modern colonialism, the colonial practices of our era. These are our times, the times of the South. We must be able to overcome and heal the wounds caused by fratricidal wars stirred by foreign capitalist interests. We must strengthen our integration schemes in support of our peaceful coexistence, our development and our faith in shared values, such as justice.

    Only by standing together will we be able to give decent lives to our peoples.

    Eighth: Democratic renewal of our states. The era of empires, colonial hierarchies and financial oligarchies is coming to an end. Everywhere we look, we see peoples around the world calling for their right to play their leading role in history.

    The 21st century must be the century of the peoples, the workers, the farmers, the indigenous communities, the youth and the women. In other words, it must be the century of the oppressed.

    The realization of the peoples’ leading role requires that democracy be renewed and strengthened. We must supplement electoral democracy with participatory and community-based democracy. We must move away from limited parliamentary and party-based governance and into the social governance of democracy. This means that the decision-making process in any state must take into consideration its parliamentary deliberations, but also the deliberations by the social movements that incorporate the life-giving energy of our peoples.

    The renovation of democracy in this century also requires that political action represents a full and permanent service to life. This service constitutes an ethical, humane and moral commitment to our peoples, to the humblest masses. For this purpose, we must reinstate the codes of our ancestors: no robar, no mentir, no ser flujo y no ser adulón [do not steal, do not lie, do not be weak and do not flatter].

    Democracy also means distribution of wealth and expansion of the common goods shared by society. Democracy means subordination of rulers to the decisions of the ruled. Democracy is not a personal benefit vested in the rulers, nor is it abuse of power. Democracy means serving the people with love and self-sacrifice. Democracy means dedication of time, knowledge, effort and even life itself in the pursuit of the well-being of the peoples and humanity.

    Ninth: A new world rising from the south for the whole of humanity. The time has come for the nations of the South. In the past, we were colonized and enslaved. Our stolen labour built empires in the North. Today, with every step we take for our liberation, the empires grow decadent and begin to crumble.

    However, our liberation is not only the emancipation of the peoples of the South. Our liberation is also for the whole of humanity. We are not fighting to dominate anyone. We are fighting to ensure that no one becomes dominated. Only we can save the source of life and society: Mother Earth. Our planet is under a death threat from the greed of predatory and insane capitalism.

    Today, another world is not only possible, it is indispensable. Today, another world is indispensable because, otherwise, no world will be possible. And that other world of equality, complementarity and organic coexistence with Mother Earth can only emerge from the thousands of languages, colours and cultures existing in brotherhood and sisterhood among the Peoples of the South.

Remembering Ruby Dee

Statement from the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

I have longed to see my talent contributing in an unmistakably clear manner to the cause of humanity. Every artist, every scientist, must decide NOW where he stands. He has no alternative. (Paul Robeson, Royal Albert Hall, June 24, 1937).

It has been one of my great blessings in life to work with two of the finest artists and activists. Ruby and Ossie served as a living example that one could be an artist and an activist, too: that one could be an artist and still deal with what it means to be a Black woman and a Black man in these United States. (Spike Lee quoted on NPR, June 12, 2014).

We used the arts as part of our struggle. (Ruby Dee in Jackson, Mississippi, 2006, cited in Mark Kennedy, “Ruby Dee’s Legacy of Activism, Acting Mourned,”, June 12, 2014).

Photo Credit: dejuan111 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: dejuan111 via Compfight cc

A powerful link in the chain of great African American scholars, artists, and activists from the twentieth century, Ruby Dee died June 11, 2011. Dee was born in Cleveland Ohio in 1924 and as a child was moved to Harlem. Growing up she studied romance languages at Hunter College, gravitated toward the American Negro Theatre in Harlem and began long collaborations with fellow actors such as Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, and her husband of 57 years, Ossie Davis.

She appeared in 50 films, 40 television shows, and 35 stage performances. She received numerous awards for these performances and as recently as 2008 was nominated for outstanding supporting actress in a motion picture, “American Gangster,” She was recognized by nominations for Screen Actors Guild and Image Awards in 2009 and 2010. Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis received Kennedy Center Honors Awards presented by President Clinton in 2004.

Ruby Dee came from that generation of artists who. inspired by Paul Robeson, believed that she had to take a stand for human liberation. She was an active supporter of anti-colonial struggles abroad and civil rights struggles at home. She was a member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). She and her husband, Ossie Davis, were friends and collaborators in the struggle for the freedom of African Americans with both Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King. Dee was a contributing editor to the great journal of African American thought, Freedomways.

Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis’ participation in peoples’ struggles were life-long. As recently as 1999 the couple was arrested at the New York City police headquarters protesting the brutal police shooting of Amadou Diallo. In addition, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis were members of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS) advisory board.

Ruby Dee, her husband, Harry Belafonte, and their mentor Paul Robeson articulated often their beliefs that there was a connection between the arts and politics and that the arts could serve as a weapon for social justice. In addition, these artist/activists believed that their engagement required combining struggles against the exploitation of the working class, the sexism of the patriarchal system, and institutionalized racism.

During her lifetime Ruby Dee was a participant and supporter of movements for human liberation. CCDS and all progressives everywhere will miss her determined activism and her artistry as an actress and poet.


U.S. Nearly Used Nukes During VietNam War

By Marjorie Cohn
Huffington Post | June 10, 2014
[Marjorie Cohn is a member of the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute Advisory Board]

Photo Credit: eks4003 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: eks4003 via Compfight cc

We came dangerously close to nuclear war when the United States was fighting in VietNam, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg told a reunion of the Stanford Anti-Viet Nam War Movement in May 2014. He said that in 1965, the Joint Chiefs assured President Lyndon B. Johnson that the war could be won, but it would take at least 500,000 to one million troops. The Joint Chiefs recommended hitting targets up to the Chinese border. Ellsberg suspects their real aim was to provoke China into responding. If the Chinese came in, the Joint Chiefs took for granted we would cross into China and use nuclear weapons to demolish the communists. Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower also recommended to Johnson that we use nuclear weapons in both North and South Viet Nam. Indeed, during the 1964 presidential campaign, Republican nominee Barry Goldwater argued for nuclear attacks as well. Johnson feared that the Joint Chiefs would resign and go public if Johnson didn’t follow at least some of their recommendation and he needed some Republican support for the “Great Society” and the “War on Poverty.” Fortunately, Johnson resisted their most extreme proposals, even though the Joint Chiefs regarded them as essential to success. Ellsberg cannot conclude that the antiwar movement shortened the war, but he says the movement put a lid on the war. If the president had done what the Joint Chiefs recommended, the movement would have grown even larger, but so would the war, much larger than it ever became.

“The Most Dangerous Man in America”
Ellsberg, a former U.S. military analyst and Marine in Viet Nam, worked at the RAND Corporation and the Pentagon. He risked decades in prison to release 7,000 top-secret documents to the New York Times and other newspapers in 1971. The Pentagon Papers showed how five Presidents consistently lied to the American people about the Viet Nam War that was killing thousands of Americans and millions of Indochinese. Ellsberg’s courageous act lead directly to the Watergate scandal, Nixon’s resignation, and helped to end the Viet Nam War. Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s National Security Advisor, called Ellsberg “the most dangerous man in America,” who “had to be stopped at all costs.” But Ellsberg wasn’t stopped. Facing 115 years in prison on espionage and conspiracy charges, he fought back. The case against him was dismissed due to egregious misconduct by the Nixon administration. Ellsberg’s story was portrayed in the Oscar-nominated film, “The Most Dangerous Man in America.” Edward Snowden told Ellsberg that film strengthened his intention to release the NSA documents.

The April Third Movement
On April 3, 1969, 700 Stanford students voted to occupy the Applied Electronics Laboratory (AEL), where classified (secret) research on electronic warfare (radar-jamming) was being conducted at Stanford. That spawned the April Third Movement (A3M), which holds reunions every five to ten years. The sit-in at AEL, supported by a majority of Stanford students, lasted nine days, replete with a printing press in the basement to produce materials linking Stanford trustees to defense contractors. Stanford moved the objectionable research off campus, but the A3M continued with sit-ins, teach-ins, and confrontations with police in the Stanford Industrial Park. Many activists from that era continue to do progressive work, drawing on their experiences during the A3M. This year, we discussed the political economy of climate change, and the relationship between the counterculture of the 1960’s and the development of Silicon Valley. Highlights of the weekend included three keynote addresses – Ellsberg’s; one delivered by Stanford political science Professor Terry Karl; and a talk by Rutgers Professor of English and American Studies, H. Bruce Franklin.

“Accountability for war crimes: from VietNam to Latin America”

Photo Credit: Fabrizio_Italy via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Fabrizio_Italy via Compfight cc

Terry Karl testifies as an expert in trials of Latin American dictators and military leaders who tortured, disappeared and killed their people in the 1970’s and 1980’s, when those countries were supported by the U.S. government. Karl quoted President George H. W. Bush, who announced proudly after the first Gulf War in 1991, “The specter of Viet Nam has been buried forever in the desert sands of the Arabian peninsula.” Nevertheless, Karl observed, we have been involved in “permanent war” because there has been no accountability for each of our past wars. The U.S. global military presence around the world (in more than 150 countries), according to Karl, is not there for defense, but rather to maintain the United States “at the top.”

We no longer pay for the wars we fight, Karl said. She noted that we paid for the Korean War with taxes, and the Viet Nam War was paid for by inflation, which led to the recession and election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Our wars in Central America, Iraq and Afghanistan were paid for by debt. Permanent war, Karl pointed out, threatens our economic future. We fight wars for oil and gas; yet the largest consumer of oil in the world is the Department of Defense.

Karl observed that we fought in VietNam to prevent communist reunification of VietNam; yet that’s exactly what happened. We fought in El Salvador to prevent the FLMN from coming to power; yet, they now run that country. And we supported the Contras in Nicaragua to prevent the Sandinistas from governing that country, and the Sandinistas are now in control.

“The cultural memory of the VietNam War in the epoch of Forever War”
H. Bruce Franklin was the first tenured professor to be fired by Stanford University, and the first to be fired by a major university since the 1950’s. Franklin, who was a Marxist and an active member of A3M, was terminated because of things he said at an anti-war rally, statements that, according to the ACLU, amounted to protected First Amendment speech. Franklin, a renowned expert on Herman Melville, history and culture, has taught at Rutgers University since 1975. He has written or edited 19 books and hundreds of articles, including books about the Viet Nam War. Before becoming an activist, Franklin spent three years in the U.S. Air Force, “flying,” he said, “in operations of espionage and provocation against the Soviet Union and participating in launches for full-scale thermonuclear war.” Franklin told the reunion about myths the U.S. government has promulgated since the Viet Nam War. “One widespread cultural fantasy about the Viet Nam War blames the antiwar movement for losing the war, forcing the military to ‘fight with one arm tied behind its back’,” Franklin said. “But this stands reality on its head,” he maintains. Franklin cited the American people’s considerable opposition to the war. “Like the rest of the movement at home,” he noted, “the A3M was inspired and empowered by our outrage against both the war and all those necessary lies about the war coming from our government and the media, as well as the deceitful participation of institutions that were part of our daily life, such as Stanford University.” The war finally ended, Franklin thought, because of the antiwar movement, particularly opposition to the war within the military.

The other two myths Franklin debunked are first, that the real heroes are the American prisoners of war (POW’s) still imprisoned in Viet Nam; and second, that many veterans of the Viet Nam War were spat upon by antiwar protestors when they returned home. The black and white POW/MIA (missing in action) flag has flown over the White House, U.S. post offices and government buildings, the New York Stock Exchange, and appears on the right sleeve of the official robe of the Ku Klux Klan, according to Franklin. “The flag now came to symbolize our culture’s dominant view of America as the heroic warrior victimized by ‘Viet Nam’ but then reemerging as Rambo unbound,” he said. After talking to several Japanese scholars he met on a trip to Japan, Franklin realized he had missed the “most essential and revealing aspect” of the POW/MIA myth. The scholars told him, “When militarism was dominant in Japan, the last person who would have been used as an icon of militarism was the POW. What did he do that was heroic? He didn’t fight to the death. He surrendered.” Franklin told the reunion: “Both the POW and the spat-upon vet become incarnations of America, especially American manhood, as victim of ‘Vietnam,’ which is not a people or a nation but something terrible that happened to us.” He also said that there is absolutely no evidence that any Viet Nam vet was spat upon by an antiwar protestor. “These two myths turned ‘Vietnam’ into the cultural basis of the forever war,” Franklin said. He quoted George H. W. Bush who proclaimed in 1991, “By God, we’ve kicked the Viet Nam Syndrome once and for all.”

The legacy of the VietNam War
But, as Karl and Franklin observed, we are now engaged in a “permanent war” or “forever war.” Indeed, the U.S. government has waged two major wars and several other military interventions in the years since Viet Nam. And in his recent statement on U.S. foreign policy, President Barack Obama said: “The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it – when our people are threatened; when our livelihoods are at stake; when the security of our allies is in danger.” Obama never mentioned the United Nations Charter, which forbids “unilateral” intervention – the use or threat of military force unless carried out in self-defense or with the consent of the Security Council.

The U.S. military, Karl noted, teaches that the Viet Nam war was a success. And, indeed, during the next eleven years, leading up to the 50th anniversary of that war, the U.S. government will continue to mount a false narrative of that war. [See]. Fortunately, Veterans for Peace has launched a counter-commemoration movement, to explain the true legacy of VietNam. [See]. It is only through an accurate understanding of our history that we can struggle against our government’s use of military force as the first, instead of the last, line of defense.

    Marjorie Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, was active in A3M and graduated from Stanford University in 1970. Her next book, Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral and Geopolitical Issues, will be published this fall.


The History of Black Cooperatives

Jessica Gordon Nembhard’s “Collective Courage
The History of Black Cooperatives
COLLECTIVE COURAGE: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought And Practice—Jessica Gordon Nembhard (The Pennsylvania State University Press 2014)

“Courage,” Ella Baker said, in 1931, to a phalanx of young African American co-operators gathered in Pittsburgh. They had come from across the country to organize for a radically democratic society – based on solidarity and justice – and to inspire their communities with a vision of a Black commonwealth. Baker continued, “Each successful Co-Operative enterprise has taken much time and energy and sacrifice to establish.” Here we have a thread – courage and hard work – that Jessica Gordon Nembhard follows in her fascinating history of African American cooperatives, Collective Courage. These were cooperatives organized despite racist repression (sometimes violent), federal discrimination (a drain on resources to fight) and little (does it need to be said?) financial support.

Gordon Nembhard, a political economist by training, took up the historian’s trade and delved into archives and tracked down original sources to uncover the untold story of Black economic self-help. This was not the path she expected to take after her research convinced her that if communities organized cooperatives they would both create and retain local wealth. That realization led her to explore African Americans’ historic involvement with cooperatives. The problem, though, was that there wasn’t a history to turn to. Its place on the library shelf was vacant. She had to write the book.

And write it she did. It took ten years of tracking down sources only partially revealed in writings by W.E. B. Dubois, the Black intellectual, Ella Baker, the renowned organizer, A. Philip Randolph, the labor leader, and many others who appeared faintly until new lines of inquiry surfaced and clarified their role. Some of the difficulty writing this history, as Gordon Nembhard says, was due to the fact that many informants felt it was a history of failure. And there were failures. But also incredible resilience and vision.

Where to start the history of Black cooperatives? Gordon Nembhard begins her narrative with slavery and the practices of mutual aid that sustained the oppressed population. But the sinews of cooperation were most tested during the rebellions to the plantation system. Years later, the Underground Railroad institutionalized, beyond bitter local conditions, the practice of cooperation across physical and racial boundaries.

With the end of the Civil War, and the beginnings of landownership, African American interest in cooperatives mirrored a national phenomenon. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, over five hundred cooperatives formed across the country. The Knights of Labor (KoL) alone organized two hundred of them as a defense against the wild gyrations of the marketplace—and as prefigurations of a truly democratic society.

With the demise of the KoL, and the upsurge of populism a decade later, southern Blacks reinvented their organizations and formed the Colored Farmers’ National Alliance and Cooperative Union (CFNACU). At its strongest, it had over a million members in the rural South, mainly tenant farmers and sharecroppers, to become the largest African American organization in the 1890s.

The early years of the Twentieth Century saw a resurgence of interest in cooperative economic development in great part due to W.E.B. DuBois’ relentless propagation of the concept of collective economic emancipation. DuBois wrote, “Cooperatives would provide the economic opportunities denied to African Americans and would allow Blacks to serve the common good rather than be slaves to market forces.”

While a foremost theoretician of cooperative development, DuBois was also a tireless agitator for their formation. But he was hardly a lonely voice proclaiming a vision to a wall. Gordon Nembhard found that almost all the prominent Black leaders of the last century supported the idea. And they weren’t all men.

One of the pleasures of reading this history of cooperatives is learning about the prominent agitational role of African American women. To take one example, they were central to the formation of consumer cooperatives during the Depression. In city after city, during that period of severe deprivation, buying clubs sprouted and some successfully became retail cooperatives. The Ladies Auxiliary of the Black run Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters worked diligently to spread this practical self-help idea throughout African American communities.

Along with women, youth also took up the co-op banner. Here we meet again Ella Baker, as a young organizer with the Young Negroes Co-operative League in the early 30s. The lineages of cooperators passed through the decades. Ella Baker in the 60s, for instance, mentored the youth of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee including their leader John Lewis, who later became the U.S. Representative from Atlanta. And who, in turn, today supports the Federation of Southern Cooperatives (FSC) the organization that carries on the work begun by CFNACU.

nebhardFSC was founded in 1967 when various local federations throughout the southern States merged. Presently, Gordon Nembhard records, it consists of approximately “a hundred cooperatives, credit unions and community – based economic development organizations involving twenty-five thousand mostly Black rural and low-income families, including some ten thousand family farmers who own half a million acres of land.”

Bringing this remarkable, and until now unknown, history up to the present, FSC’s success inspired the Jackson Rising vision of a network of urban cooperatives in Jackson, Mississippi. Creating a sustainable, democratic city-based economy doesn’t seem so utopian when you consider the history Jessica Gordon Nembhard has revealed. She was, of course, a featured speaker at the Jackson Rising conference in May.

This review would be incomplete without mentioning that besides a history book, Collective Courage serves as both an introduction to the concept of organized cooperation (it is, after all, an international phenomenon) and, necessarily, a brief examination of its implementation and practices. Now that the history has been documented, Gordon Nembhard promises to expand on this foundation with further analysis.

Unfortunately Collective Courage is only available as a pricey paperback, and even more expensive hardbound edition, so practice cooperation and organize a book-buying club, or alternatively, request that your library fill that vacant spot on their US history shelf.

Bernard Marszalek, editor of The Right to be Lazy (AK PRESS) can be reached at He was a member of a worker cooperative for seventeen years.

Seven Key Takeaways From Joseph E. Stiglitz’s Tax Plan for Growth and Equality

Taxes pay for roads, schools, firefighters, Coast Guard rescues and a thousand other goods and services we need for our society to function.
from moyers & co.

(AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)

(AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)

But taxes also shape our incentives. We tax things that we deem to be harmful — like tobacco and alcohol — and hand out tax breaks to encourage things we find beneficial, like research.

According to a new white paper by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, our labyrinthine tax system is skewing those incentives. We’re encouraging corporations to invest in creating jobs overseas, when unemployment remains doggedly high here at home. We’re giving US-based multinationals good reason t0 deprive our treasury of revenues when we should be investing in infrastructure and the American people.

The report, prepared for the Roosevelt Institute, offers seven concrete proposals for reforming our corporate tax system so it aligns with the greater good. We have excerpted these below. The full recommendations are available in Stiglitz’s report, Reforming Taxation to Promote Growth and Equity(PDF).

  1. Raise Corporate Income Tax Rates While Providing Incentives for Investments and Job Creation in the US
    The implicit assumptions of the advocates of lower corporate tax rates are that low rates induce more investment and that high corporate tax rates disincentivize investment. Both theory and evidence indicate that low corporate tax rates fail to induce investment, but that one can design a corporate income tax that will promote investment and employment creation in the US. Such a tax system will require higher tax rates on corporations that do not invest, accompanied by lower taxes on those that do. It is the difference in taxation between those who do and those who do not invest and create jobs that provides the incentives for investment and job creation.
  2. Reduce Spending on Corporate Welfare
    Welfare payments provide assistance to poor individuals in need. But in the US, we give large amounts of money to rich corporations that can hardly be viewed as needy. Such payments — mainly hidden in our corporate tax system — have come to be called corporate welfare.

    Corporate welfare consists of the billions — over a decade, tens and perhaps hundreds of billions — of dollars to enrich the coffers of corporations, sometimes to protect them from adverse situations (as in the massive bailout of the banking system, sometimes directly, as in the current crisis, sometimes indirectly, through the IMF) and other times to “promote” particular industries. The net beneficiaries of corporate welfare are, by and large, wealthy Americans — and increasingly wealthy foreigners (since foreigners are large owners of American corporations) … Both for reasons of equity and efficiency, the elimination — or at least the reduction — of corporate welfare should be at the center of tax reform.

  3. Tax the Financial Sector
    There are good reasons why there should be a special set of taxes imposed on the financial sector. First, the recession caused by the misdeeds of the financial sector is a major cause of the current high level of national indebtedness. Secondly, there is an important role for “corrective” taxation — taxes that simultaneously raise revenue and provide incentives for firms not to, for instance, impose externalities on others. The financial sector has, in fact, imposed huge costs on the rest of the economy.

    But in spite of the evidence that it has imposed large costs on the rest of the economy, the financial sector has been particularly successful in escaping taxation. We suggest a number of financial sector taxes that would, we believe, actually increase the likelihood that the financial sector more efficiently performs the key social functions that it should perform.

  4. Tax on Monopolies and Other Rent-Based Enterprises
    One of the advantages of taxing monopolies and other rent-based enterprise “profits” at a higher (“surtax”) level is the absence of adverse supply responses. Indeed, if the response to taxing rent seeking activities is to decrease the quantity of such activities, the efficiency of the economy may actually be enhanced. While in some cases it may be difficult to ascertain the extent to which there are monopoly profits, in some sectors (such as telecom and cable TV) the magnitudes and associated distortions are large.
  5. Ensure that Multinationals Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes and Have Incentives to Invest in America
    In the current system, we lose not just tax revenues but also jobs. In the following two subsections, we discuss two ways by which this problem can be addressed.

    • Tax firms on their global income in a fair and comprehensive way: In spite of the recent assertions of the Supreme Court, corporations are not people. One of the ways that they differ from people is that where they reside can be nothing but a legal fiction. We can tell where an individual resides – an individual is a resident of the State of New York if she sleeps 50 percent of nights in New York. But a corporation can set up an office in the Cayman Islands, claim that as its home, even if little or none of its business is conducted there, and even if it has few if any employees there. Our leading technology companies have shown that they can be as innovative in tax avoidance as they have been in producing new products. The current system cannot work in a world of globalization.
    • Tax Intellectual Property: Corporations whose profits are strongly related to intellectual property have been particularly effective in tax avoidance, partly because it is relatively easy to claim that the intellectual property was created in, or resides in, a low tax jurisdiction. This is so even when the intellectual property depends heavily on basic research paid for by American taxpayers. As we noted earlier, technology firms, whose very existence depends on the Internet, which itself only exists as a result of government investments in research and development, have become emblematic of this kind of “corporate irresponsibility.”

  6. Increase Taxes on Industries That Produce Negative Externalities
    Taxes on industries that impose costs on the rest of society actually increase economic efficiency. It is better to tax bad things (such as pollution) than good things (such as work). The market produces too much of some things (such as toxic mortgages and toxic waste) and too little of others (such as basic research).

    Taxes can be particularly effective in curbing these negative externalities, and in doing so, yield double dividends. The most important category of corrective taxes are those on environmental externalities, and within this area, the most important are those associated with carbon emissions, with their impact on global climate change.

    It matters less whether those generating the pollution pay a carbon tax or buy emission permits that are auctioned. Either can generate large amounts of money and simultaneously improve economic performance.

  7. Make Dividend Payments Tax Deductible, But Impose a Withholding Tax

    One of the distortions associated with the current tax regime is that it encourages excessive leverage, which can, in turn, contribute to excessive volatility. Firms that raise capital through debt can deduct the interest they pay, but this is not true for the dividends that firms pay to those who contribute equity. This bias would be eliminated if dividends were tax deductible. But many of the recipients of the dividends would, under the current regime, then succeed in avoiding all taxes on this income, by taking advantage of various provisions in the tax code. Hence we propose that there be a 40 percent withholding tax. Upper-income Americans who actually pay taxes on dividends received would then get a full credit for these taxes that have been withheld. There would then be no double taxation — there would be an effective integration of the individual and corporate income tax.

Download the entire report, “Reforming Taxation to Promote Growth and Equity,” which also includes Stiglitz’ plan for reforming the individual income tax.

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