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.

What Is DSA? Training Call

May 30, 2017
· 67 rsvps

If you're a new DSAer, have been on a new member call, but still have questions about DSA's core values/strategy/core work and how to express these ideas in an accessible way to the media, as well as to friends, family and others who might be interested in joining DSA, this call is for you. 

We will talk through the basics of DSA's political orientation and strategy for moving toward democratic socialism, and also have call participants practice discussing these issues with each other. By the end of the call you should feel much more comfortable thinking about and expressing what DSA does and what makes our organization/strategy unique. 8 pm ET; 7 pm CT; 6 pm MT; 5 pm PT. 70 minutes.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 97 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. 9 ET/8 CT/7 MT/6 PT.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 27 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. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Introduction to Democratic Socialism

June 13, 2017
· 16 rsvps

Join Bill Barclay, Chicago DSA co-chair, and Peg Strobel, National Political Committee and Feminist Working Group co-chair, on this webinar for an overview of what we in Democratic Socialists of America mean when we talk about "socialism," "capitalism" and the goals of the socialist movement. 9:30 PM ET; 8:30 PM CT; 7:30 PM MT; 6:30 PM PT.

  1. This webinar is free for any DSA member in good standing.
  2. You need a computer with good internet access.
  3. Your computer must have headphones (preferred) or speakers; you can speak thru a mic or use chat to "speak".
  4. If you have questions, contact Bill Barclay, chocolatehouse@sbcglobal.net.
  5. If you have technical questions, contact Tony Schmitt, schmittaj@gmail.com, 608-355-6568.

Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 7 rsvps

Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
· 5 rsvps

 

Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.