The Welfare State of America

by Peter Frase and Bhaskar Sunkara

Mitt Romney was ridiculed by the liberal media when he complained to wealthy donors, “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what.” To Romney, these voters are united by a dependency on government and a belief that “they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”

Seething with contempt for half of America, Romney is a caricature of an out-of-touch elite.

He’s also, in a twisted way, right.

A movement to expand the welfare state has the potential to foster a new majoritarian Left coalition. Republicans know this—that’s why they manipulate the way welfare is perceived at every turn.

The reality is that 96 percent of Americans have benefited from government programs, but the Right works hard to hide that fact. It’s part of a deliberate strategy to divide the country into two camps by convincing the majority of voters that their labor is benefiting parasites dependent on the social safety net.

Democrats have too often bolstered this effort by echoing calls for “welfare reform” and “fiscal responsibility,” and by supporting policies that channel benefits through the tax code (such as the home-mortgage deduction) and private organizations (such as employer-provided health insurance). The result is a system that provides few benefits, makes them largely invisible and disproportionately benefits the more affluent.

In the face of this neoliberal consensus, the Left’s counter-mission must be to show that social democracy benefits everyone. Though this has been the errand of generations of liberals, their efforts have rarely gone beyond rebranding and messaging. Few have pushed for the structural changes necessary to build a strong welfare state.

One nation, underfunded

You get what you pay for, and we haven’t paid for much.

Continue reading this article where it first appeared in In These Times.

Lessons in Organizing from the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union

January 17, 2017
· 50 rsvps

Join DSA Vice-Chair Chris Riddiough to explore what we can learn from the work of the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union (1969-77), the largest of the socialist feminist women’s unions of the 1970s, which had a rock band, a graphics collective, the underground abortion collective JANE, and numerous other projects. Check out their website and join the discussion via internet connection.

Film Discussion: The Price We Pay

January 30, 2017
· 38 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
· 8 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
· 7 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.

 

DSA New Member Orientation Call

February 15, 2017
· 28 rsvps

You've joined DSA - Great. Now register for this New Member Orientation call and find out more about our politics and our vision.  And, most importantly, how you can become involved.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 6 PM MT; 5 PM PT.

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 1 rsvp

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 check out their short 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: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 2 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.