Democratic Left

Economy Still Limping: CPEG March Jobs Report

By Luis Diaz-Perez

A limping economy reflected in feeble jobs numbers and inadequate policy prescriptions – those are the conclusions to be drawn from the Department of Labor’s March jobs report and Federal Reserve Bank Chair Janet Yellen’s March 31 speech in Chicago.

The March jobs situation illustrates the problems of a static economy which added 192,000 jobs, down from February’s 197,000 jobs. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 6.7 percent. Unemployment among African Americans rose over the previous month, from 12 to 12.4 percent, while Latino unemployment decreased slightly from 8.1 to 7.9 percent.

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Learning from the Past, Planning for the Future

By Maria Svart

Capitalism has entered a new phase. Regardless of whether it is a sea change or a shorter-term window of opportunity, new possibilities now exist to build a socialist left in the United States and greatly strengthen and expand DSA. Essentially, capitalism is losing the flexibility to repair the damage caused by its own failures. As a result, the system is losing the once unswerving loyalty of a sizeable and growing portion of the population.

Despairing that the government is capable of applying sufficient stimulus, even former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers admitted recently that economic stagnation may be the “new normal” and could last for decades.

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Michael Lighty Speaking at DSA’s National Convention

Michael Lighty helped to kick off DSA’s two-year national strategy review at our 2013 national convention by arguing that neoliberal capitalism’s belief that “there is no society, just individuals,” (as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher claimed) yields a politics of austerity and environmental degradation which impoverishes children, guts pensions, and threatens the future of the planet.

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April is Abortion Bowl-A-Thon Month

By Peg Strobel

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Socialist feminists know that women deserve free abortion on demand, a full range of reproductive health care and family services and an economic system allowing for full employment and compensation for caring for the elderly and young. "Reproductive justice" is a concept that moves beyond the notions of "choice" and "rights." It links the calls for reproductive choice (a woman's right to control her own body) to the broader issues of economic justice and human rights (creating conditions that enable people to have children, not only to not have them). Access to abortion is one small, but critical, part of reproductive justice.

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Adolph Reed's premature burial of the U.S. Left

by Michael Hirsch

Back in the day, (a cliché, I know) Adolph Reed wrote a waspish piece in the Village Voice, “Liberals, I Do Despise,” which made something of a splash and was hard to refute — this when the Voice was widely read, not a freebie and well-worth paying for — as he attacked a coterie of Clintonistas for “a politics motivated by the desire for proximity to the ruling class and a belief in the basic legitimacy of its power and prerogative.” He called it “a politics which, despite all its idealist puffery and feigned nobility, will sell out any allies or egalitarian objectives in pursuit of gaining the Prince's ear.”

Jump ahead 18 years and Reed is still banging on the same tin drum. Only now he targets the entire left.

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Putting a Face on the Working Poor

paycheck-to-paycheck2.jpgBy Natalie K. Midiri

In the few days that have passed since HBO aired the Shriver Report’s new documentary, “Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert,” the story of a single mother of three from Tennessee surviving on a $9.49 an hour income, the report has received harsh criticism throughout the blogosphere for choosing a white woman (Gilbert) to be the face of the working poor in America given that women of color are twice as likely to be members of the working poor. 

In many respects it’s obvious why Gilbert made the cut. We never once hear her raise her voice to her children, and she worries about how she will pay for the medication she needs to manage her thyroid. Despite the back-breaking nature of her work as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at a nursing home, she still manages to tell the residents that they are not alone, that she -- if no one else -- loves them. While we do hear her admit that she could really use “some help,” we never once hear her complain about her 16-hour work days, even when going to work means leaving a sick child behind. In nearly all respects, Gilbert comes off as a member of the “good poor,” who deserve help only because they are completely self-sacrificing, committed to hard work and do not exhibit any of the destructive vices stereotypically associated with the poor.

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The Contested Legacy of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta

 

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By Duane Campbell

On March 31, Eleven  states will hold holidays celebrating  labor and Latino leader Cesar Chavez.  Progressives and democratic socialists should join in the celebrations.  A new film Cesar Chavez: History is Made One Step at a Time,  starring  Michael Peña   as Cesar Chavez and  Rosario Dawson   as Dolores Huerta opens in cities across the country on April 4, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLkfMrqAmD0

Let us be clear.  Chavez was religious, but he was not a saint. Neither were the growers, the Teamster collaborators, nor corporate agribusiness saints.  Celebrations should not be about hero worship or uncritical praise, nor should we ignore the present oppression of farm workers in the U.S.  

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The Left Viewed from Space

By Harold Meyerson

In an essay in Harpers, political scientist Adolph Reed Jr. looks at the American left, missing most current events but getting some of the big picture right.


It is, I suppose, theoretically possible to get the big picture right even when you can’t see the small pictures at all. That seems to be the achievement of political scientist Adolph Reed Jr. in his cover story in the March issue of Harper’s.

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