Democratic Left

Major R. Owens, the People’s Congressman (1936-2013)

By Marsha Borenstein


Major Owens was an unconventional political leader – a librarian not a lawyer, a work horse not a show horse and not one to court the press rather than his constituents.  He would seem quiet or unassuming at times, but in fact he was a fiery speaker, advocate and organizer whose accomplishments were well known and appreciated by the people whose lives he touched.

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Heighten the Contradictions Around Food Stamps

We’re angry. We bet you are too. Two weeks ago, roughly 47 million people, nearly half of them children, lost part of their food stamp (SNAP) benefits. Apparently the average allocation of $1.40 per person per meal is too generous for the “lazy moochers” that the Right-wing characterizes as anyone who needs a helping hand, even five years into the greatest recession to hit this country since the Great Depression.

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Wealth and Power in the U.S. Out of Whack

220px-Robert_Reich_in_Inequality_for_All.jpgWealth and Power in the U.S Out of Whack: Growing Income Disparities ‘Danger to System,’ says Former Clinton Labor Secretary.

(Review of Robert Reich’s documentary ‘Inequality for All.’)

 By Michael Hirsch

 Robert Reich, the intellectual giant, stands 4 foot 11 inches tall, dripping wet. He jokes about it. He comfortably drives a Mini Cooper and once co-hosted a talk show with terrifically tall and terrifyingly conservative (except by Tea Party standards) ex-Wyoming  Sen. Alan Simpson (the show was called “The Long and the Short of It”). The author of 13 books, he served in the Ford, Carter and Clinton administrations—the later posting as secretary of labor from 1993 to 1996, a post he resigned from after losing one last intramural battle to Treasury secretary and Wall Street princeling Robert Rubin. Among his good senior hires: labor leaders Karen Nussbaum(SEIU Local 925) and Joyce Miller (Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers).  His presentations come with equal parts easy-to-assimilate detail and a self-deprecating, wry humor.  

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The October Lesser Depression Jobs Picture: Grim No Matter How You Look at It

By Ron Baiman

Though payroll jobs (establishment survey) increased by 204,000 in October, overall employment (household survey) declined by 735,000, indicating that the U.S. employment situation remains dismal.  More telling, long-term employment of 27 weeks or more remains at 4.1 million, approximately double the level in prior recessions (see:  The official unemployment rate also remained essentially unchanged, increasing slightly from 7.2 percent to 7.3 percent.  The more accurate U-6 unemployment rate, which takes into account discouraged workers and workers working part time who would like full-time work, also rose from 13.6 percent to 13.8 percent in October.

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Remembering Doug Ireland: Comrade and Friend

By Michael Hirsch

I got the news the modern way that DSA comrade Doug Ireland passed: from the flurry of anguished emails late at night on October 26. Another good one gone, and WAY too soon.


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An Economic Bill of Rights For the 21st. Century

By Pat Fry

 A day-long conference of academics, economists, labor and community activists discussed an Economic Bill of Rights for the 21st Century – a program of full employment with the right to a job and living wages.

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DSA Convention: "Coming Out Swinging in the Age of Obama"

By Duane Campbell

The 2013 DSA convention held in Emeryville, Cal. Oct. 25-27 brought together socialists from all areas of the country to build mutual support, solidarity and motivation to continue the activism needed in these difficult times. 

The Friday convention plenary began with reports from Maria Svart, our national director, as well as members of the National Political Committee and co-chairs of the Young Democratic Socialists, plus presentations on the politics of the current situation by Honorary Chair Gus Newport and Michael Lighty, political director of National Nurses United and former DSA national director.

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New Generation of Chinese Migrant Workers

By Jenny Chan

Editor’s Note: This article is excerpted with the permission of the author from a longer article that originally appeared in Labor Notes.  That article began with a critique of a talk given by Leslie Chang, author of Factory Girls.  In her book and talk, Leslie Chang propounded a positive vision of young female factory workers liberated from village life and transformed into successful, self-driven entrepreneurs through learning English and computer skills.

 What is life really like for China’s 262 million rural migrant workers, the core of the new working class?

 Young Chinese workers, better educated than their predecessors, have strong expectations of higher wages, better working conditions, and career advancement. The rural households from which they come retain land-use rights to small plots of land in their native villages. For many, this land staves off starvation in times of adversity, but it cannot provide a livelihood — least of all for the increasing numbers of second- or even third-generation rural migrants who grew up in the cities and have no farming skills.

 Young migrants generally return to their villages only to marry and have children. This pattern persists because most “low-skilled,” “low-educated” migrants are not permitted to change their household registration (hukou) from rural to urban. Even after years of working in the city, these families are denied equal access to many welfare, health, and retirement benefits, and their children cannot receive urban public education, especially in the higher grades.


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