Death by a Thousand Cuts

The American Dream is bleeding to death. The exsanguination of our body politic commences at the extremities, where less fortunate and more vulnerable citizens dwell. Here are some of the first fruits of the 2013 half-year sequester that has just begun.

Data on some initial effects of the sequester comes from a webinar sponsored by the Coalition on Human Needs. Stories are now beginning to trickle in; similar anecdotes will be swelling into a flood. Not that our august national media, mesmerized by the ongoing political spectacle in D.C. and the prospects for a “Grand Bargain," are likely to take much notice of the plight of lower-income working people and their families.

In Franklin and Columbus, Indiana, a macabre lottery decided which of the 160 students in the Head Start program would be cut. Thirty-six were abruptly removed from the program for drawing the short straws.

The Window Rock Unified School District in Arizona may have to close three schools serving indigenous children and dismiss 105 school personnel because of the sequester cuts for Title I educational funding for low income schools

In New York 1600 fewer women will be screened for cervical and breast cancers.

Two hundred inner city youth will not be served this summer by the Philadelphia Jobs Corps.

Nearly $17 million in funds will be cut from 5700 work-study students and 15,000 Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants recipients in California.

Seven hundred fewer low-income families will receive housing vouchers in Cook County, Illinois.

And for those long-term unemployed who must rely on federal funds for extended unemployment benefits, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that the governmental administration may not be able to implement the scheduled 10.7% cut as scheduled on April 1. The bad news is that when it is able to slash benefits beginning on April 28, the cut will be readjusted to 12.8%.

The Republican Ryan Budget, if enacted, would solve the problem of slow bleeding to death by hastening the patient’s demise. Sixty-six percent of its spending cuts would come from programs that support lower income persons (Medicaid, Pell Grants, food stamps, job training), amounting to $3,300 billion dollars in cuts over 10 years. These cuts reduce all social spending far below the already inadequate levels.

The House majority brushed aside the much fairer and more rational budgets proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus, which would have eliminated tax loopholes for the rich and corporations in order to fund vital public services. Instead, the Republican controlled House voted in favor of the Ryan Plan which offers benefits to the affluent Republican political base by providing $5.7 trillion in tax cuts to wealthy individuals and corporations and by repealing the health care reform taxes. 

And those poor corporations need the relief that is being denied to the unemployed, students and poor! Take General Electric, which over the last five years made $81 billion in profits and paid a minus $3 billion in taxes. Or Boeing, which made $21.5 billion in profits and also paid no taxes and received a net refund. Or ExxonMobil, which made even higher profits, though it did actually manage to pay a bit (less than 1%) in U.S. taxes after receiving its oil subsidies.

I am outraged that the .01% at the apex of the economic pyramid–whose wealth is 66,000 times that of the average American family--persists in their assault on the lives and futures of our less advantaged fellow citizens. Let us demonstrate our outrage at the betrayal of the fraying American dream. There will be thousands of ongoing stories like those enumerated above, stories of unnecessary pain inflicted on children, on working single parents, on the unemployed, on those seeking health care, shelter and education. And, unless things change dramatically, the pain will go on and on, stretching not just over this fiscal year or the next, but continuing into the indefinite future, blighting the hopes and dreams of our people. We must share these stories and together change the direction of our society.

Film Discussion: The Price We Pay

January 30, 2017
· 51 rsvps
The Price We Pay blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance — the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, tax havens - and what we need to do to stop this.  DSA member Bill Barclay, who has a cameo role in the film, will facilitate the discussion. Watch the film prior to the discussion.

Full film available on Vimeo.

How to Plug in New Members

February 01, 2017
· 18 rsvps

Is your DSA chapter growing quickly and you're trying desperately to find ways to plug new members into your chapter's work? Never fear! On this conference call an experienced DSA organizer will go over the basics of new member outreach and developing a plan for plugging new members into your chapter's work. Most of the call will be devoted to troubleshooting specific issues you're facing, so please brainstorm some issues beforehand that you want to bring up on the call.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 7 PM PT.

Film Discussion: Salt of the Earth

February 05, 2017
· 12 rsvps

Join DSA members Shelby Murphy and Deborah Rosenfelt in discussing Salt of the Earth, a captivating film made in 1954 by blacklisted writers and actors about a strike at a New Mexico zinc mine. Well before the resurgence of feminism in the 1960s, these filmmakers were exploring gender inequality and solidarity. Available on Netflix.

Shelby Murphy is a Latina from Texas and former Young Democratic Socialists co-chair. Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, Deborah Rosenfelt researched the making of the film and its aftermath for the reissued screenplay. Here is her blogpost about the film.

 

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 4 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But also check out the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 12 rsvps

Join DSA member Jason Schulman to discuss the film Rosa, directed by feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. View it here at no cost before the discussion. Marxist theorist and economist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) played a key role in German socialist politics. Jason edited Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and has a chapter in Rosa Remix.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 4 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion.