Sam Pizzigati

Moneyball in a Deeply Unequal Age

Since 1871, over 19,000 athletes have played baseball at the major league level. Not one of them has played the game any better, most experts today agree, than the 27-year-old outfielder Mike Trout. Trout’s other-worldly talent now has a price-tag. Trout has just signed a 12-year, $426.5-million contract with the Los Angeles Angels, the biggest player pay deal in pro sports history. That contract has lots of people smiling, starting with the family and friends of Mike Trout. But plenty of people Mike Trout has never met are smiling, too. And many of them sit in the executive suites of America’s largest corporations. Corporate CEOs — and those who sing their praises — love to see big paydays for big-time athletes. Every million a ballplayer makes seems to give top execs and their cheerleaders still another justification, another excuse, for stratospheric CEO pay.

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Sarah Piepenburg

Small Businesses Need Paid Family and Medical Leave

Photo credit: USAF   Ten years ago, my husband and I opened a specialty oil and vinegar shop. Early on, we learned that our store would be only as good as the people who work in it. To invest in our employees is to invest in our business. Now we employ five people. One of our most valued long-term employees, Linda, worked at the phone company for 27 years before coming to us. She left the phone company as a retiree but didn’t have enough money from her pension to retire. When Linda fell and broke both of her arms last year, my husband and I told her to take the time she needed to recover. When payroll came around, I went to her apartment with her paycheck. She was sitting with the TV tray in front of her, deciding how to figure out rent with her leasing agent, what food to cut, and whether to sell her car.

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Art Jipson, Paul J. Becker

White Nationalism, Born in the USA, Is Now a Global Threat

  Photo credit: Wikipedia / cc The recent massacre of 50 Muslim worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand is the latest confirmation that white supremacy is a danger to democratic societies across the globe. Despite President Donald Trump’s suggestion that white nationalist terrorism is not a major problem, recent data from the United Nations, University of Chicago and other sources show the opposite. As more people embrace a xenophobic and anti-immigrant worldview, it is fueling hostility and violence toward those deemed “outsiders” – whether because of their religion, skin color or national origin. Transnational Violence Most of the Western world – from Switzerland and Germany to the United States, Scandinavia and New Zealand – has witnessed a potent nationalist strain infecting society in recent years.

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Chuck Collins

Bring Back Eisenhower Socialism

Anytime a politician proposes a wildly popular idea that helps ordinary people, a few grumpy conservatives will call them “socialists.” Propose to reduce college debt, help sick families, or ensure the super-rich pay their fair share of taxes — suddenly you’re a walking red nightmare. Utah Republican Rep.

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John Sarbanes, Michael Brune

To Clean Up the Planet, Clean Up Washington

Photo credit: Shutterstock For decades, majorities of Americans have favored swift, meaningful action on climate change. They understand that we must transition away from dirty fuels and toward clean, renewable energy. Yet despite this overwhelming support, Congress has repeatedly failed to act. This jarring disconnect between what the public wants to see and what Washington is prepared to deliver doesn’t just threaten the health and safety of everyone in our country — it undermines the very principle of representative democracy. The reason that Congress hasn’t acted is an open secret. Follow the trail of the millions of dollars in campaign contributions from corporate polluters over the years, and you’ll find countless lawmakers who’ve worked to block action on climate change.

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Miles Mogulescu

Expanding Supreme Court May Be Only Way to Protect Democracy

Mitch McConnell has achieved his lifelong political dream: packing the Federal Courts, and especially The Supreme Court, with right-wing extremists, who thanks to him, now hold lifetime appointments. The result: Even if the Democrats manage to win the Presidency, the House, and the Senate simultaneously, a Supreme  Court with a young 5-4 right-wing majority could undermine voting rights, environmental regulation , a woman’s right to choose, and many other areas for decades to come.

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Leo Gerard

The Big Cheat

The children of working stiffs learned a brutal lesson this week as federal prosecutors criminally charged rich people with buying admission to elite universities for their less-than-stellar children. The lesson is that no matter how hard you work, no matter how smart or talented you are, a dumb, lazy rich kid is going to beat you. It’s crucial that everyone who is not a wealthy movie star, hedge fund executive, or corporate CEO – that is, 99 percent of all Americans – see this college admissions scandal for what it really is: a microcosm of the larger, corrupt system that works against working people, squashing their chances for advancement. This system is the reason that rich people and corporations got massive tax breaks last year while the 99 percent got paltry ones. It’s the reason the federal minimum wage and the overtime threshold are stuck at poverty levels.

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Ashley Bennett

We Will Not Rest Until Housing Justice Is Done

Ashley Bennett (center left) and other People’s Action leaders at the office of Sen. Elizabeth Warren in December, 2018. Photo credit: People’s Action   On Wednesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced a historic housing bill, the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act. This bill is an important step forward in our fight to guarantee housing for all, and to close the wealth gap between Black and white Americans. I have been homeless myself, and experienced housing instability my whole life.  Together with other People’s Action members from around the country who are directly affected by our nation’s housing emergency, I met with Senator Warren’s team on Capitol Hill last December to discuss this bill.  We liked what we heard, but there were certain parts of the legislation we definitely wanted to improve.

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Jessica Juarez Scruggs

Will the Senate Sell Our Future for Campaign Dollars?

My name is Jessica Juarez Scruggs, and I recently joined the Sunrise Movement and a courageous group of young Kentuckians who took over the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to demand he stop playing political games and take real action to address our climate crisis. McConnell gloats over his role as a spoiler in the Senate – he refuses to bring common-sense measures on voting rights and good government to the floor. He thought he was clever by promising to bring the Green New Deal up for a vote before the Senate. Doing this, he imagined, would turn the tables on Democrats, and highlight divisions within the party. No one would notice, he hoped, that he and other Senators like him, who are flush with campaign contributions from the fossil-fuel industry, have done nothing to address climate change in the last  thirty years.

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Olivia Alperstein

A Modest Proposal: Don’t Start a Nuclear War

Photo credit: Pete Linforth/Pixabay In a matter of minutes, as easily as sending a tweet, a sitting U.S. president could decide to launch a nuclear attack, without anyone else’s approval or authorization. In a matter of minutes, millions of lives would be lost, and millions of futures halted permanently. At my organization, Physicians for Social Responsibility, we believe that we must prevent what we can’t cure. And there’s no cure for a nuclear war. No nation on earth, including the United States, would have an adequate emergency response in the event of a nuclear exchange. Most Americans don’t want us to ever engage in a nuclear war, and the vast majority of us certainly don’t want the United States to be the ones to start a nuclear war. The United States, like every other nation, has a vested interest in avoiding a nuclear conflict.

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Sam Pizzigati

Putting Billionaires in Their Place

America’s billionaires have suddenly realized they just may be facing an existential crisis. A good chunk of the American people, they now understand, would rather billionaires not exist. Every billionaire, as a key aide of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has famously quipped on his popular Twitter feed, represents “a policy failure.” The nation needs, posits a recent New York Times op-ed, to “abolish billionaires.” Our more pugnacious billionaires — and their devoted admirers — have greeted this new abolitionist thrust with predictable scorn.

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Miles Mogulescu

Progressives Must Agree to Disagree About the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Progressives and Democrats must agree to disagree among themselves about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Otherwise, they could split apart in mutual recriminations. This could lead to losing the chance to regain political power and implement a progressive agenda around issues about which they mostly agree—including defeating Trump, combating climate change,  taxing the wealthy, mass incarceration, universal health care, free or debt-free college, a woman’s right to choose, reinstating the Paris Climate Accord and the Iran Nuclear Treaty, and many other vital issues. Progressives who oppose Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory are not anti-Semitic, and progressives who support settlements as necessary for Israeli security are not racists.

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Warren Tidwell

Disasters Don’t Discriminate, but Rural Recovery Does

Photo credit: Hometown Action Last Sunday, I was driving home up highway 169 in Lee County, Alabama. We decided not stop at a local business in the countryside, to stay ahead of a tornado in the area. Ten minutes later, that business was destroyed by 170 mile-per-hour winds. Trees turned into missiles, and 23 lives were lost. This monster storm tracked through the unincorporated community of Beauregard and the small town of Smith’s Station, destroying every home within 48 square miles. Victims included three small children, ten members of one African-American family, and Maggie Robinson, a nurse at the East Alabama Medical Center for forty years. As the climate changes, deadly storms like the one that killed Maggie are more frequent. Rural areas suffer the most.

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Leo Gerard

Rabble Rousing for Righteous Retirement

  Ben Trusnik (center) and other members of USW Local Union 1-243 Standing out among the bald pates and grey hairs crowding into a Congressional hearing room on Thursday morning with “Protect our Pensions” stickers will be 26-year-old Ben Trusnik. The son, grandson and great-grandson of labor union members, Ben will travel to Washington, D.C., from his home in Bedford, Ohio, to speak for the men and women he works with at Etched Metals Co. He will join other union activists in speaking for workers who are afraid that after laboring 40 or 50 years, they won’t be able to retire because the multiemployer pension plan they depended on is nearly insolvent. He’ll be there for the guy who retired from Etched Metals a little over two years ago, whose wife has been ill for a long time.

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Will Tanzman

Electing Movement Leaders in Chicago

The wave of victories by a new generation of progressive leaders in Chicago’s Mayoral and City Council elections mark the most impressive results for movement candidates in the city since the 1980s. Candidates supported by grassroots organizing groups and unions won several important races outright, and have forced runoffs in additional wards.  These wins come none too soon for the people of our beleaguered city. The tragic death of Harold Washington in 1987 kicked off a 30-year era of corporate dominance in Chicago, with Mayor Richard M. Daley at the helm for 22 years, followed by 8 years of Rahm Emanuel. For the past three decades, rubber-stamp city councils have supported the pro-corporate policies of these mayors, privatizing city assets and services and giving corporations huge tax breaks. This cost Chicago billions in revenue.

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Sam Pizzigati

Have the Rich Always Laughed at Stiff Taxes?

The guardians of our conventional wisdom on taxing the rich have messed up — and they know it. They slacked off. They started believing their own tripe. Average Americans, they assumed, would never ever smile on proposals to raise tax rates on the richest among us. After all, the conventional wisdom maintains, those average folks figure that someday they’ll be rich, too. But now, with tax-the-rich proposals proliferating and polling spectacularly well, the keepers of our bless-the-rich faith are panicking. Their old rhetorical zingers no longer zing. Higher taxes on the rich as a “penalty on success”? Average Americans today don’t see “success” when they gaze up at America’s top 0.1 percent and see a 343 percent increase in earnings, after inflation, over the past four decades. They see monopoly and outsourcing and insider trading.

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Robert Borosage

Democrats Need to Think Big for 2020

There is a dizzying array of potential presidential nominees for Democratic primary voters to choose from—so many that they won’t even fit on one debate stage. But there is one basic choice the party will have to make: Will it nominate someone based on perceived electability, which is usually code for incremental policy ideas and a long political career, or a fresh-faced progressive reformer with big ideas? “What we need is a moderate, straight white male from the Midwest,” one feminist, progressive activist and former Obama campaign worker told me. Indeed, some Democrats intent on beating Trump are embracing this type of tactical voting: suppressing their own preferences for someone they think most likely to beat Trump. This isn’t a new idea; both parties have embraced this line of thinking in the past. The problem is that it rarely works.

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Leo Gerard

Gritty Trade Negotiations

It took grit to get this far. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer explained that to Congress last week. So, he said, no one in the administration is backing down now. They’ve managed to confront Beijing, a trade renegade, and do it with a powerful tool that previous negotiators lacked – tariffs. They launched the penalties last spring with charges on all imported steel and aluminum, then increased the pain with levies specifically on $50 billion in Chinese imports in July, followed by duties on $200 billion in Chinese imports in September. China retaliated, particularly with tariffs on agricultural goods. Some American businesses, farmers and workers suffered. And they complained. But the tariffs brought China to the table to discuss its violations – abuses that have damaged American industries and destroyed millions of American jobs for nearly two decades.

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Lizeth Chacon

It’s Not Enough to Elect Progressives: Movements Must Have a Role in Governing

The 2020 presidential election, for many of us, will be the fight of our lifetime. We need a president who will take bold action on the issues shaping the lives of people in the multiracial working class. Design by Matt Whit That means building an economy that works for and is owned by the 99%, not the billionaire class; fighting for our immigrant communities; ensuring everyone has guaranteed access to healthcare, housing and education with no corporate profiteers; and facing the climate crisis head on through a just Green New Deal. Many of the candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination are taking more progressive stances on these issues. This shift began from the bottom, from a people’s movement demanding our elected leaders take bold positions. But while these politicians’ words might sound right, we can’t afford to fall for sound bites.

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Roger Hickey

Activists Ask Candidates Where They Stand on Good Jobs, Sustainable Growth and Economic Justice

Suddenly Americans are debating big ideas that used to be off the table. New ways to raise taxes on the rich and big corporations have been proposed by candidates Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders. A Medicare-style public health system to expand coverage and cut costs has the support of millions and many Presidential candidates – even as we defend Obamacare.   The Green New Deal has been swept onto the national debate by the dynamic grass-roots Sunrise Movement and by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and colleagues in Congress. With new urgency, sponsors call for massive public investment to retool our economy to stop global warming and create the next generation of good jobs.   Perhaps because of the huge public support for these big ideas, Donald Trump has tried to tar them with the old Cold War scare word: Socialism.

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