Posts Tagged ‘Poverty’

Participatory Democracy

January 29, 2018

Excerpts from On Prison Democracy: The Politics of Participation in a Maximum Security Prison, an essay by Christopher D. Berk (Critical Inquiry, Winter 2018). March 14, 1973 the Massachusetts Correctional Institute at Walpole entered into a protracted strike by its prison officers. Commissioner John Boone decided “Instead of sending in the state police he turned over the management of the prison to the newly formed and elected prisoners’ union (the Walpole chapter of the National Prisoner Reform Association [NPRA]), a skeleton crew of officers and trainees from other institutions, and civilian observers.” “At the time, Walpole was the most violent prison in Massachusetts, perhaps even the most violent in the country.” “The inmates were now running the asylum, so to speak.” “Between 15 March and 19 May, the NPRA was the central force governing the inmates at Walpole. There were no murders and little violence, and the prisoners ran the kitchen and foundry, maintained security, deliberated over policy and action, and negotiated with the prison administration.” To paraphrase Hillary Clinton – “What happened?” Again, Berk writes: “This account usually takes one of two forms, either a call to increase law and order within prisons or a push to reallocate goods and services to the task of treatment. In other words, inmate participation is understood as a symptom of a failed treatment or control regimen. Call this the conventional liberal narrative. However, an alternative account emerges from a close reading of the Walpole episode. In this narrative Walpole is an experiment in participatory democracy and community control. Call this less familiar view the radical narrative.” In a book entitled Not A Crime To Be Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America (The New Press 2017) Peter Edelman describes the poverty pipeline to prison that has America leading incarcerations in the world (up through 2017). The first part of the book statistically and factually recounts the various techniques involved with the U.S. system of debtor’s prisons (“Ferguson Is Everywhere”). These include money bail (both private as well as government sourced), criminalization of mental illness, benefit programs and child support, education (“Go Directly To Jail”, see recent Florida handcuffing of a 7 year old), housing ordinances (This blog already wrote about nuisance properties) and homelessness. The second part (Ending Poverty) deals with contemporary efforts to shut off the prison pipeline through not only legal strategies and actions, but also community based initiatives. He narrates actualities of the following programs: Community Action Program Tulsa (OK), Chicago’s Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Minneapolis’ Northside Achievement Zone, Brooklyn’s Community Solutions and The Brownsville Partnership, The New Haven (CT) Moms Partnership, The Alameda Health Consortium (Alameda County CA), and the Youth Policy Institute of Los Angeles. Most of these are centered around supplementing the care and education of pre-school through high school youth through the interaction of their parent or guardian. These in turn receive some tangible benefit for their involvement as well as job training, psychological and economic counseling, including hands on aid in housing, legal concerns etc. The organization’s originating emphasis may be youth, or housing, or physical/psychological health issues brought on by the stress of poverty, but they all treat the concerns holistically – through addressing all the individual’s various interlocking components perpetuating poverty. More importantly, they address this through some full time/part time staff, (some of whom previously were recipients of the organization’s care) as well as a large number of those for whom the service is directed acting on their own behalf providing service to their peers (facilitating, counseling, educating, mentoring). Analysis finds this to be the correlation linking Edelman’s Ending Poverty with Berk’s liberal narrative “call to increase law and order within prisons or a push to reallocate goods and services to the task of treatment” and its alternative account of “an experiment in participatory democracy and community control.”



June 22, 2016

queasy 1. inclined to or feeling nausea. 2. causing nausea; nauseating. 3. uneasy; uncomfortable. 4. squeamish; fastidious.
Loathsome doesn’t begin to describe the response most have to the presidential election of 2016. How about those not finding it loathsome but rather exciting, its opportunity to participate in the making of history, or reclaim America? Analysis can’t help but notice a certain queasiness pervasive in this arena of engaged, informed and passionate electorate. The possibility of the opponent actually winning out, the loss of any sense of inevitability or righteousness, contribute to that unease. Analysis finds all this quite curious in that in all these electoral contests, stark contrasts are usually delineated in order to define one candidate as being completely different from the other. Nausea usually sets in with the realization that “it makes no difference. It is all unpalatable.” Could that actually be the case? The presumed Democratic candidate for president recently spoke in central Ohio at the Fort Hayes educational facility. She lambasted her opponent on many levels, primarily for the disingenuous way her opponent enriched and enriches himself. Why, the line of suits he markets is made in Mexico. Analysis reveals a breakdown of these economic talking points acts out enrichment through the practice of neo-liberal policies, aspirations and agendas. This is the very neo-liberalism that was threatened by the Scandinavian Socialism promoted as “difference“ by the self-same speaker’s primary opponent. The presumptive Republican presidential candidate prides himself, nay, runs on the very basis of his qualifications, his ability to enrich himself by his mastery of the workings of the neo-liberal global economy – be it trade, the mobility of capital and financing, or the mobility of labor. Analogous to service providers, be they Google, Apple, Amazon or AT&T (etc. etc. etc.), it is all about choice, and more and greater individual choices implying more and greater freedom (the very core of neo-liberalism). Of course the regimen constantly changes and is in need of updating, upgrading, but the promise of better is always there, always the marketing incentive. The ultimate and greatest benefits enrich those at the top, the service providers, while those “being served” gain more and more freedoms. The analogy with neo-liberalism is complete by each and every new and additional freedom incurring an additional charge or fee. Is it any wonder that the Clintons attended the last Trump wedding and spend the winter holidays at the Kissinger estate in Florida? The queasiness sets in when Democrats realize that maybe, just maybe, the neo-liberal charade will be exposed for precisely what it is – a Victor Kiam Remington shaver ad promoting a ridiculously affordable electric shaver that eventually continuously requires expensive replacement cutter heads. “Progress” won’t be progress anymore but just another part of global marketing strategy. The queasiness on the part of Republicans is realizing that their “conservatism” orbits around a tacit acceptance of the neo-liberalism their forebears helped implement and is currently represented by a caricature spouting “See, I learned how to play by the rules of neo-liberalism, and enriched myself. We can do that self-same to make America great again.” Locally we find this with the recent unemployment statistics for Licking County in May, the lowest they’ve been since pre-911, when the bloom of the dot com bubble hadn’t yet burst. The championing of neo-liberalism’s greater freedom and choice through the inclusion of more in the market (employment as labor for business) elides the mushrooming of children’s summer nutrition programs to help feed those who, for some mysterious reason, aren’t being benefitted by these global marketing aspirations, policies and agendas. Queasiness sets in when “liberal” Democrats realize that conservatives have embraced neo-liberalism as status quo in order to thrive, and “conservative” Republicans realize they have to continuously change to play by the rules of global economic neo-liberalism.

The Good Is To Be Done Because It Is Good, Not Because It Goes Somewhere

May 1, 2016

The Washington Post headlined the passing of Daniel Berrigan (Daniel J. Berrigan, pacifist priest who led antiwar protests, dies at 94, Colman McCarthy, 4-30-16). Politics from the past involving figures not noted today. The cliché is that history is written by the winners, those who are successful. After the various comings and goings of success in the last twenty years, from the first Clinton presidency Dot Com economic hysteria through the Bush years financial meltdown to “What do we do with the Basket Building?” and today’s “it’s not the economy, stupid!” presidential politics, Analysis can’t help but wonder how, or what kind of history can or will be written. Within that context it was refreshing to read the obituary. An obituary refreshing? Several days prior, PBS Newshour ran a segment entitled “Artist Theaster Gates turns Chicago’s empty spaces into incubators for culture” (4-26-16). The end of the interview brought the following exchange:

“JEFFREY BROWN: His newest project, undertaken in his position as director of arts and publics life at the nearby University of Chicago, extends the idea to an entire city block, a burgeoning art block in the Washington Park neighborhood. It includes an arts incubator for cultural groups and classes in woodworking and more for young people.

THEASTER GATES: As you finish high school and go to college, come back for the summer, go back to college, come back after you graduate, that it’s really that relationship that will make these buildings work over time.

JEFFREY BROWN: There’s also a cafe and a bookstore where musicians regularly perform. On the drawing table, a large performance space for plays and concerts. And what’s the idea behind it, an anchor or an engine to grow, or how do you see it?

THEASTER GATES: So, maybe words like engines and anchors are good words. But I think first it needed to just be a place where culture could happen, that before we had to think about it as an economic generator or a cultural anchor, it’s just like, can I have a place to rehearse my play?


THEASTER GATES: Yes, absolutely. Can we have a place to make our music? Can our kids learn art here?” Gates final words in the interview:

“THEASTER GATES: What I love about art is that the power of the symbolic work has so much potential to do more than the thing on the ground. And so I think about ripples. I think about affect. I think about symbolism. But I don’t think that there are limits on what’s possible. Not only do poor people have a right to beautiful things, but people have the right not to be poor anymore. And I think that that feels like it’s worth making art about and fighting for.” (from the transcript)

Analysis finds this outlook, this reasoning to resonate with what Daniel Berrigan has to say at the conclusion of McCarthy’s obit: “In a 2008 interview in the Nation magazine, Father Berrigan echoed a line of Mother Teresa’s that spiritual people should be more concerned about being faithful than being successful.

“The good is to be done because it is good, not because it goes somewhere,” he said. “I believe if it is done in that spirit it will go somewhere, but I don’t know where. . . . I have never been seriously interested in the outcome. I was interested in trying to do it humanely and carefully and nonviolently and let it go.””

Free Breakfast Program A Social Commentary

March 2, 2016

Maria DeVito, writing for the Newark Advocate, reports on 2-29-16 “Newark schools launch free breakfast program”. In it she states “The pilot program started at Ben Franklin on Jan. 8, but Newark City Schools Superintendent Doug Ute said the district plans to provide breakfast at all its schools starting next school year.” One reason for this was given as “Last year, the district realized that of the students who were eligible to eat a free breakfast, only about 30 percent were taking advantage”. The rest of the article covers the nuts and bolts specifics of the program and its implementation (such as “The school uses the federal reimbursements it gets for students to pay for the program, which the students named Morning Kickoff, Cable Miller said.”). It also notes that “Licking Valley Local Schools has been offering free breakfast to all of its students for about six or seven years, said Jan Jennings, the district’s cafeteria director.” and that “Heath City Schools just started serving breakfast to all of its students this year, Superintendent Trevor Thomas said.” Analysis, of course, is intrigued by all this, especially that “only about 30 percent were taking advantage”. Analysis wonders what is behind all this? That same leap day (2-29-16), Janie Boschma, writing for The Atlantic, came out with a very long and complicated study entitled “The Concentration of Poverty in American Schools”. She begins with the rather cut and dry (and almost lifted out of each page of American history) “In almost all major American cities, most African American and Hispanic students attend public schools where a majority of their classmates qualify as poor or low-income, a new analysis of federal data shows. This systemic economic and racial isolation looms as a huge obstacle for efforts to expand opportunity because researchers have found that the single-most powerful predictor of racial gaps in educational achievement is the extent to which students attend schools surrounded by other low-income students.” This is followed by a slew of statistics, studies, and sources which all pretty much indicate that big city or small, these students find themselves in schools where 75% or more of their peers can be designated as low income or poor. “the National Equity Atlas [“The Atlas is a joint project of PolicyLink and the University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, or PERE”] defines low-income students as those eligible for the federal free- and reduced-lunch program.” Given that Ohio has opted to emphasize charter schools as a “choice” remedy, Analysis considers the significance of the disparity. Boschma writes “The overwhelming isolation of students of color in schools with mostly low-income classmates threatens to undermine efforts both to improve educational outcomes and to provide a pipeline of skilled workers for the economy at a time when such students comprise a majority of the nation’s public school enrollment.” Again a slew of statistics, studies and sources citing how graduation rates, test scores, college matriculation, etc. are affected. “The issue, Reardon said [“Sean F. Reardon, a professor at Stanford University’s graduate school of education and one of the nation’s leading experts on residential and educational segregation”], isn’t “that sitting next to a poor kid makes you do less well in school.” Rather, he said, “it’s that school poverty turns out to be a good proxy for the quality of a school. They are in poorer communities, they have less local resources, they have fewer parents with college degrees, they have fewer two parent families where there are parents who can come spend time volunteering in the school, they have a harder time attracting the best teachers. So for a lot of reasons schools serving poor kids tend to have fewer resources, both economic and social capital resources.”” OK, so that would explain the initial low participation rate at Newark’s Ben Franklin (“only about 30 percent were taking advantage”). To participate is to admit, much as use of “food stamp” plastic reveals one’s situation. But why take a program intended for a part and extend it to all (“All the students at Ben Franklin Elementary School were offered the same meal as part of a pilot program that offers all students a free breakfast regardless of whether they are part of the free and reduced-price lunch program.”)? Again, Boschma writes ” In some cities, urban leaders are trying new strategies to confront these trends. They are driven by a belief that for prosperity to continue, they need to craft policy that ensures their own young people are equipped to compete for the jobs the city is creating.” Though her article focuses primarily on racial/ethnic disparity, the problem, as problem, returns to one of economic conditions – income disparity with prosperity as the solution. “These high levels of concentrated poverty in schools persist—and have increased overall—even in cities where there has been tremendous growth since the recession.” This would account for the use of this program in rural Licking Valley as well as economic wunderkind Heath. As DeVito reported for the Newark Advocate in her 2-26-16 article, “Local experts: Diversity a necessary conversation topic”, “According the United States Census Bureau, in 2014 less than 10 percent of the county population’s identified as a minority. The biggest minority population was African Americans with 3.8 percent.” What drives or “creates” this breakfast program since the racial/ethnic factors described by Boschma would preclude its use? Indeed, as Boschma writes, “Socioeconomic integration is a legal alternative to racial reintegration—ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2007 in the case of Parents Involved v. Seattle—that largely produces the same effect.” Analysis finds that having everyone eating together without pretense for exception is definitely a form of socioeconomic integration, something affirming and for which schools implementing it should be lauded.

Community Consideration

February 12, 2016

NPR reported this morning (2-11-16) that the family of Tamir Rice, the Cleveland 12 year old who failed to obtain a concealed carry permit for his toy gun, was billed for the EMT services requested and delivered too late after his shooting by a Cleveland police officer. Analysis wonders if the family of 54 year old Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, who had a real gun and wore it on his belt “for all the honest world to feel”, will be sent a bill to cover all the costs involved with his shooting. It’s obvious why local law enforcement deploys its chief to do the PR work of educating the “community” (not much different than corporate chief executive operating officers pitching ads for their company’s product). It would be a far better allocation of city resources to fund required continuing education for the entire force. Educating “community” members will do little to dispel the conventional perception that involvement will cost you. Analysis finds it a bit of a stretch to consider Finicum’s “patriots” as a community. None of them called that part of Oregon “home”. Tamir Rice, however, was the neighborhood child now mourned by many in the community he called “home”.

Goes Without Saying

February 9, 2016

News flying low and slow under the radar today concerns The Sparta in downtown Newark. Analysis notes not saying “The Sparta Restaurant” for The Sparta happens to be one of those shape shifting entities akin to a chameleon. No sooner than one reaches for “restaurant” than one is holding on to Project Main Street. As far as news is concerned, restaurants in downtown Newark come and go, primarily for aspirational reasons, money and business. But The Sparta is not a business though it is a restaurant; more of that shape shifting DNA. From the economists’ statistical standpoint of start up success, flower shops do best. Fastest failures are restaurants (see above “come and go”). Economists claim it takes 3 years for a restaurant to establish any sustainable potential. The Sparta is past that. What gives (or takes)? Anna Jeffries’ report “After three years, Sparta seeking community support” (2-5-16, Newark Advocate) provides the closest to a selfie of the shape shifting Sparta possible. The article presents future aspirations (“Raising the $10,000 by April will help the business, but it’s not the only solution, he said [“Allen Schwartz, acting president of the Sparta’s board”]. The number of meals sold every hour needs to increase by two to keep the restaurant in the black.”) as well as start up intentions (“He [Chris Ramsey, former Sparta owner and Project Main Street originator] opened the restaurant with a plan to offer jobs to people who wanted to be trained to work in the restaurant industry. His long term goals included creating a community supported agriculture program to grow locally-produced food, launch a green-jobs training program and convert the second floor of the Sparta into classroom space.”). But what is Project Main Street? Like all of today’s presidential candidates say – you can go to the website for specifics on mission statement, policy, etc. Much like the poor, Jeffries’ article reveals The Sparta’s great (and urgent) need. Most poor want better than what they have which, if they are poor, they may have in name only, or not at all. Precarious would best describe it. Unlike the poor, The Sparta has a rich network of like minded entities of goodwill. Indeed, merging with Goodwill would be one outlet from poverty. The two shape shifting entities compliment each other by maintaining analogous descriptions of being not for profit while operating as a business. Businesses that are not really businesses but embrace business because, well, it’s good business! From “Newman’s Own” to “Wounded Warriors” Americans are not only familiar with but inundated by shape shifting entities whose mission statements consist of service and community, that are in the business of serving the disadvantaged, which often extends to the poor. Analysis finds all of this implicates an “advantaged” lurking somewhere. This becomes a bit unsavory determining who’s in, who’s out, who is rich and who is poor, the advantaged, the disadvantaged, and who’s responsible for what. These shape shifting businesses differ from religious institutions who answer to a higher calling. They also differ from public, democratically instituted and maintained providers like the library, senior centers, public arts organizations and public schools. Shape shifters, like The Sparta, superficially resemble today’s ever growing public/private partnerships. The resemblance fails in that though shifty, public/private partnerships have no shape. Analysis finds this to be yet another option for The Sparta – becoming shapeless by being subsumed within the Licking County Chamber of Commerce that administrates the Grow Licking County public/private partnership. A theoretical option is relocation. SPARK has relocated its art workshop from downtown Newark to Granville. A “Goodwill” type local donation business once operated in Granville for the benefit of Licking Memorial Hospital. The business is gone, no longer needed by Granville or the community hospital. But the volunteer and goodwill potential remain. Local business, local donation, locally sourced, all involve location. Such a move might entail a loss of property, history and personal identity through the rupture of re-location, but what poor person hasn’t been subjected to that?

Rent Comes First

January 27, 2016

During his recent State of the Union address the President outlined various retirement account proposals for his last budget. Again, this morning NPR was quoting him as urging Americans to save more. Relying on just Social Security will find them entering poverty on retirement. Analysis finds all this well and good, prudent within the Judeo Christian ethic of personal responsibility. But is it in accord with contemporary America, actual existing America? Not quite 4 years ago, then Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was caught on an audio recording dismissing 40 some percent of Americans who relied on some form of government assistance, thereby guaranteeing his opponent their vote. It is no coincidence that Romney’s statistics mirrored those of the number of people in America who have no financial net worth – their debts equal or are greater than their assets. Within this 40+% are the 20+% of Americans who are officially defined as in poverty. These 40+% live from one source of income to the next. Catastrophic medical events, losing a job, etc. results in crisis and deterioration of any sense of personal financial responsibility, the kind the President is encouraging. Analysis finds it disingenuous to advocate for more savings when 40+% of the population is not in a position to “afford” it. Though economist claim we are in recovery, and Conservatives are racing to shut off the government assistance programs because unemployment is at the magical 5% neighborhood, wages have been quite stagnant, and for most of the 40+%, quite inadequate. Reuters confirms all this with a 1-26-16 report by Lisa Lambert entitled “Obama makes new push to expand retirement savings”. “The proposal would also allow smaller employers to create pooled 401(k) plans. The U.S. workplace is undergoing a transformation, especially with the rise of the “on-demand” economy, which will lead workers to change jobs more frequently and face new challenges in saving for retirement, [Labor Secretary Tom] Perez said. Up-and-coming companies that provide goods and services on demand through phone apps mostly rely on freelancers who are not tied to jobs and traditional employer-sponsored retirement accounts.” This is notable on two counts. During the last month the stock market, to which 401(k) plans are tied, dropped significantly costing individual plans in excess of $8,000 (relying on Social Security will result in poverty?). Additionally, with the changing U S economy (“freelancers who are not tied to jobs and traditional employer-sponsored retirement accounts.”), plans and proposals centered on “employer” provided whatever (healthcare or retirement, etc.) are somewhat misguided. Analysis begins to sense that an individual mandate for an individual working class emerges as default. Eric Pianin for the online Fiscal Times (1-26-16) writes “Why half a million people will lose their food stamps this year” “At least 500,000 people will lose their food stamp benefits this year as many states revert to a strict three-month limitation on benefits, according to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. At the extreme, as many as one million of the country’s poorest people will lose food assistance, which averages $150 to $170 per person per month. Those affected are people aged 18 to 49 who aren’t disabled or raising minor children. Most of them live a subsistence existence, scraping by with the help of government and charitable organizations and low-paying jobs, although college students are also eligible.” Notable to consider is: “According to the CBPP analysis, the three-month time limit will be back in force in more than 40 states — including 23 states that haven’t imposed this requirement since the start of the recession. “Even SNAP recipients whose state operates few or no employment programs and fails to offer them a spot in a work or training program—which is the case in most states—have their benefits cut off after three months, irrespective of whether they are searching diligently for a job,” the report states.” Analysis continues to reflect on the President’s urging that Americans save so as not to retire in poverty. Reporting for CityLab Henry Grabar headlines “More Americans Are Going Hungry in the Suburbs”. Analysis finds no one to be immune, though all are racing to retirement (actual or only Powerball fantasized). The suburbs Grabar covers is “Rockland County, New York, a bedroom community near the nation’s largest city and one of the top 40 counties in the United States in household income. Still, Rockland, like many suburban counties, has gotten poorer. The percentage of individuals living in poverty here has grown by 5 percent since the millennium. Ramapo, a sprawling Rockland town along the New Jersey border with 126,000 residents, is one of more than a dozen New York City suburbs that had a greater proportion of residents living in poverty in 2010 than in 2000. More than 5,000 Ramapo residents depend on People to People to put food on their table every month.” Most notable and that resonates with actual existing Licking County (at least the one Tim Bubb described in his Newark Advocate Year In Review column of 1-10-16) is : ““You have all the problems of urban hunger, and then you have the physical distance and access problems that are generally less of a problem in compact urban areas,” explained Joel Berg, the director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger and a Rockland native. Berg’s mother, late in her life, qualified for food assistance, but physically wasn’t able to reach the providers. Transportation is the primary challenge of getting food—and anything else—to the poor in the suburbs. “No one walks in Rockland County,” Serratore said [Diane Serratore, executive director of People To People]. In any case, the distances are too far. More than 4,000 patrons of People to People, for example, come from Haverstraw, a faded industrial town on the Hudson, nine miles north of the pantry. “Rent comes first,” explained Charleen Borchers, a Rockland resident who works at McDonald’s. “Car insurance comes second. Then, at the bottom of the list, is food.””

Will The Real Conservative Please Stand Up

January 22, 2016

Though Tom Zawistowski might beg to differ, Ohio’s Governor and current Republican presidential wannabe, John Kasich, has always represented himself as a conservative. The current imbroglio within the party of William Buckley and John Birch Society co-founder Fred Koch leads Analysis to ponder conservatism, especially in view of Ohio’s Governor participating in on stage spectacles with the likes of Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina. At a less widely covered spectacle in Columbia SC with ditto participants sans Trump and Cruz (Republican Candidates, Minus Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, Play Nice at Poverty Forum By Ashley Parker, 1-9-16 NY Times) Kasich is quoted as saying “Do you realize that there are people who are on government assistance who can’t take a pay raise because they will lose more than what they gain?” Zawistowski et al. found Kasich’s embrace of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act to signal his disregard for “conservative principals” (whatever that may be – the subject of this inquiry). In his presidential candidacy Kasich continuously references his years as U S House Representative and his conservative credentials through various successes for the GOP. This was, of course, just after the Presidency of George H. Bush, who was described as a compassionate conservative. Mindful of Kasich’s fellow Republican Barb Sears’ sponsorship and shepherding to passage of House Bill 394 (covered by previous blog postings), Analysis questions how Kasich’s quote at the Kemp Forum on Expanding Opportunity ought to be read. As Catherine Candisky writes (in the previous post), Sears’ ardor for reform could be considered as exceptional, matched only by North Carolina’s legislature. Then again, HB 394 may be the tip of an arrow marking the trajectory of such reform across the country (thanks to the state by state strategy of ALEC and the Koch bro’s AFP). The NY Times editorial of 1-21-16, Kentucky’s Bizarre Attack on Health Reform, describes just such an act of conservative reformation ardor, the dismantling of “Obamacare” and its accompanying Medicaid by recently elected Governor Matt Bevin. It must be noted that, like the Governor of KY’s neighboring state of Ohio, Bevin also wraps himself in the mantle of conservatism. Salon’s deputy politics editor, Sophia Tesfaye, analyzes Paul Krugman’s NY Times blog posting in a piece entitled Paul Krugman bursts David Brooks’ fantasyland version of conservatism: “Actually existing conservatism is a radical doctrine” (10-14-15). In it she writes: “Paul Krugman, not one to spike the football, offered a slightly shady “OK, I guess,” to Brooks’ willfully naive definition of conservatism as standing for “intellectual humility” and a “belief in steady, incremental change,”” “Conservatism is “a preference for reform rather than revolution, a respect for hierarchy, precedence, balance and order, and a tone of voice that is prudent, measured and responsible,” Brooks wrote. But “that kind of conservatism left the Republican Party a very long time ago,” Krugman reminds him:… Krugman had to remind his colleague that “by David’s definition Barack Obama is pretty conservative,” citing Obamacare as an example of incremental rather than radical change.” Tesfaye concludes by stating: “My point is that if what you want is traditional conservatism, the only people with real influence with anything like that mindset are Democrats. Actually existing conservatism is a radical doctrine.” This really broadens the political spectrum of left and right with Democrats described as conservatives and conservatives like Ted Cruz as…? Analysis wrote all that to write this: Kasich’s SC Kemp Forum quote could also be interpreted in conjunction with his fellow Ohio Republican and conservative colleague, Barb Sears. What HB 394 is doing is trying to eliminate (cut in half) unemployment compensation “to ensure Ohio provides the best economic opportunities for both employers and employees.” (Sears. Ohio House Of Representatives website guest column 11-19-15). Assuming “Actually existing conservatism is a radical doctrine”, Kasich could likewise answer his rhetorical “Do you realize that there are people who are on government assistance who can’t take a pay raise because they will lose more than what they gain?” along with Sears and Bevin. By cutting government assistance the only gain would be through a pay raise thereby ensuring “Ohio provides the best economic opportunities for both employers and employees.”

Ohio House Bill 394

January 17, 2016

Writing for the Columbus Dispatch on 1-11-16, Catherine Candisky reported on Representative Barbara Sears’ Ohio House Bill 394 (Unemployment benefits changes would ‘dismantle’ anti-poverty program, advocates say). This stealth bill is plodding along the legislative track on its way to being signed into law by presidential wannabe John Kasich. “At a news conference on Monday in Columbus, Advocates for Ohio’s Future, a coalition of nearly 500 health- and human-services groups, said Sears’ bill goes further than any other state to limit benefits to the unemployed.” Currently the proposed bill is in committee, the house insurance committee (previous stomping ground of Newark’s Jay Hottinger who now is in the Senate). This combination of practically non existent press coverage, “grass roots” (conservative base) sponsorship, and radical sweeping change (from those ostensibly opposed to change) may have Ohioans waking up one morning not recognizing the state they live in. AP headlines like yesterday’s “Kansas’ uncertain state finances weighs on some lawmakers”(by Jim Suhr and John Hanna 1-16-16) and a plethora recently from the incredible tragedy in Flint Michigan (state fiscal austerity ahead of public health considerations) indicate determining that problems have been eliminated or don’t exist by legislative fiat simply doesn’t work. The outcomes can be severe. Candisky quotes Sears as saying “it’s just too late to start over.” (is it?), though she is entertaining amendments for those deemed exceptional. “The bill, she said, seeks to shore up Ohio’s unemployment-compensation fund by severely limiting benefits to workers who lose a job. According to an analysis by the independent Legislative Service Commission, H.B. 394 would reduce taxes paid by employers into Ohio’s unemployment compensation fund by $313 million on average each year through 2025. During that same time, benefits to workers would be reduced by an average of $475 million annually.” “In addition, the bill would: Reduce benefits to 12 weeks in times of low unemployment, tying Ohio with North Carolina for lowest in the country. Eliminate added benefits for workers with dependents. Mandate that employees work during at least three quarters in the year to qualify for benefits, a requirement in no other state. Disqualify from benefits any worker who violates their employer handbook, a requirement in no other state. Reduce benefits for senior workers based on the amount of Social Security they receive.” Last Sunday (1-10-16) The Newark Advocate ran Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb’s “A look back and ahead for Licking County”. In true “year in review “ fashion, the accomplishments and successes of the Licking County Chamber of Commerce administered public/private partnership, Grow Licking County, were touted. Following SCOTUS Citizen United ruling precedent (that corporations are persons), the commissioner, and Grow Licking County board member, cited corporate entity after corporate entity responsible for the greatness of Licking County Ohio in the past and upcoming year. Not a single living human being was named in the entire column! Analysis finds no change in the county’s poverty within that period, nor any mention of it by Commissioner Bubb. At the end of her article Candisky reports “Sears said the trend toward part-time workers suggests Ohio’s tax climate is not competitive or attractive to businesses.” Do tell.

Coat Of Many Colors

December 16, 2015

[Analysis will let the reader stitch the threads together]

11-19-15 Ohio House Of Representatives guest column Representative Barbara Sears                                                                                                        “As a legislator, one of my biggest goals is to ensure Ohio provides the best economic opportunities for both employers and employees.”

11-9-15 Ohio House Of Representatives Newsroom release [Barb Sears sponsor of 394]                                                                                               “House Bill 394 would make changes to the law to boost the state’s trust fund and address its overall solvency. First, it would temporarily increase the taxable wage base for employers from $9,000 to $11,000 until the fund reaches the minimum safe level. Second, it would create an adjustable scale to determine the number of weeks a claimant is eligible for unemployment benefits. When unemployment is low, the number of benefit weeks is low, and likewise, when unemployment is high, the number of benefit weeks increases. These measures save the unemployment trust fund money and, ultimately, help the state reach a positive balance more quickly.”

[ROBERT B. REICH, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration.] Excerpts from his blog:

WHY THE SHARING ECONOMY IS HARMING WORKERS – AND WHAT MUST BE DONE 11-27-15                                                                                “The so-called “share economy” includes independent contractors, temporary workers, the self-employed, part-timers, freelancers, and free agents. Most file 1099s rather than W2s, for tax purposes. “

“It’s estimated that in five years over 40 percent of the American labor force will be in such uncertain work; in a decade, most of us.”

THE REVOLT OF THE ANXIOUS CLASS 12-14-15                                    “Start with the fact that the middle class is shrinking, according to a new Pew survey.”

“The odds of falling into poverty are frighteningly high, especially for the majority without college degrees. “

“Two-thirds of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Most could lose their jobs at any time.”

“Many are part of a burgeoning “on-demand” workforce – employed as needed, paid whatever they can get whenever they can get it.”

“Safety nets are full of holes. Most people who lose their jobs don’t even qualify for unemployment insurance.”

THE KOCH BROTHER’S GRAND PLAN TO LIBERATE THE POOR          The Plum Line By Greg Sargent 12-14-15 Washington Post

“The political operation created by the billionaire conservative mega-donors Charles and David Koch is quietly investing millions of dollars in programs to win over an unlikely demographic target for their brand of small-government conservatism ― poor people.”

“The outreach includes everything from turkey giveaways, GED training and English-language instruction for Hispanic immigrants to community holiday meals and healthy living classes for predominantly African American groups to vocational training and couponing classes for the under-employed. The strategy, according to sources familiar with it and documents reviewed by POLITICO, calls for presenting a more compassionate side of the brothers’ politics to new audiences, while fighting the perception that their groups are merely fronts for rich Republicans seeking to game the political process for personal gain.”

“The efforts include a healthy dose of proselytizing about free enterprise and how it can do more than government to lift people out of poverty.”


“ “We want people to know that they can earn their own success. They don’t need the government to give it to them,” Koch network official Jennifer Stefano told activists and donors during an August rally in Columbus, Ohio, at which she introduced one such project, Bridge to Wellbeing.”

“Housed within the foundation arm of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch network’s largest group, the program represents “the new way to advance freedom,” Stefano boasted. “And so that’s why, today, you’ll see Americans for Prosperity Foundation reaching out to new communities offering not just classes on the Constitution, and knowing your rights, but on couponing and how to turn your passion into profit by helping other people be successful, to not just tell them about the economy and economic freedom, but to show them that we want them to economically thrive, and how to do it.””

“Charles Koch has long argued ― mostly privately until recently ― that government welfare and regulation actually hold back many of its ostensible beneficiaries. His network’s goal, he told hundreds of ultra-rich conservatives he had summoned to a tony Southern California resort this summer, “is to remove the shackles preventing all Americans, especially the disadvantaged, from pursuing their dreams. That’s what’s happening in this country. We are crushing ― these policies are crushing peoples’ dreams,” including by making “it nearly impossible for the poor to start a small business or, in many cases, even work.””

“At a June 2014 network gathering, donors were given the option of attending breakout sessions entitled “Well-Being: What It Is and Why It’s Important” and “Value-Added Events: Engaging the Middle Third.””

WHEN THE GOVERNMENT TELLS POOR PEOPLE HOW TO LIVE Residents in some public-housing units in Worcester, Massachusetts, must now get a job or go back to school. If they don’t, they’ll be evicted. By Alana Semuels, The Atlantic 12-14-15.

““We tend to be patronizing about the poor in a very specific sense, which is that we tend to think, ‘Why don’t they take more responsibility for their lives?’ And what we are forgetting is that the richer you are the less responsibility you need to take for your own life because everything is taken care of for you,” she [MIT economist Esther Duflo] said in a widely quoted talk at the Center for Effective Philanthropy. “Stop berating people for not being responsible and start to think of ways instead of providing the poor with the luxury that we all have, which is that a lot of decisions are taken for us. If we do nothing, we are on the right track. For most of the poor, if they do nothing, they are on the wrong track.””

“Residents of public housing often have little incentive to work at minimum-wage jobs because their rent is calculated as a percentage of their income. When they work, they pay more rent and they additionally have to pay for childcare and transportation. Sometimes, they end up in a worse financial situation than before they started working, have less time with their families, and are stuck at grueling jobs with little opportunity for advancement.”

TOP KOCH STRATEGIST: “GET OFF YOUR ASS AND WORK HARD LIKE WE DID” Posted on September 2, 2014 by Lady Libertine [Transcript of audio obtained from source who was present at the June network meeting]

[“longtime lieutenant Rich Fink. An executive at the brothers’ multinational industrial conglomerate Koch Industries, Fink advocated for the creation of Stand Together for America, and has sat on the boards of Charles Koch Institute and Americans for Prosperity Foundation, though he left the AFPF board at the end of last month.” Kenneth Vogel Politico]                                                                             Richard Fink [from his speech] “The Long-Term Strategy: Engaging the Middle Third”:

“So the big danger of minimum wage isn’t the fact that some people are being paid more than their valued-added — that’s not great. It’s not that it’s hard to stay in business — that’s not great either. But it’s the 500,000 people that will not have a job because of minimum wage, because there is no such thing as a dead end job. As Martin Luther King said, “(Inaudible) every job is an opportunity.”