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|Story and Pictures of Iraqi Prisoners being abused by US Personnel||
News Page updated January 04, 2005
|Index of articles on this page|
the Democrats better? -------------------------------------------
|by Rick Wilhelm
by Rich Hite
Chicago Tribune newspaper story
Common Dreams website
(Connie Hammond) - story by Rick Wilhelm
Plain Dealer newspaper story
by Connie Hammond
by Bill Buckel
by Nancy Fuller
by Rick Wilhelm
VARIOUS sources and studies
by Todd Gabe and David Kraybill
VARIOUS sources and studies
by Rick Wilhelm
story and links
Literature on Socialist Thought
Archived links - various articles
by Cornell West
by Barbara Ehrenreich
|Index of Articles on 2nd News Page
||Please also see Index
of Articles on Democratic Socialist
* A timeline of CIA Atrocities -----------------------------------------
Are the Democrats better?
bipartisan majority of 406-16 passed a resolution linking Iraq to the Al Qaeda
attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Every credible analysis,
including that of the barely credible 9/11 Commission, concluded that no such
links ever existed. Final role call vote: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2004/roll431.xml
Text of Legislation: Go here, http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2004/ROLL_400.asp When that page loads, scroll down to roll 431. Click on H RES 757. When that page pops up, click on "text of legislation at the bottom. It will say there are two versions. Click on version #2, the final version agreed to by the House of Representatives.
Part of the Legislative language in House Resolution 757 that links Iraq and 9/11: (5th Paragraph)
Whereas since the United States was attacked, it has led an international military coalition in the destruction of two terrorist regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq while using diplomacy and sanctions in cooperation with Great Britain and the international community to lead a third terrorist regime in Libya away from its weapons of mass destruction;
The Legacy of Ronald Reagan June 6, 2004 by Rich Hite
The Great Communicator is no more. Ronald
Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, has lost his long battle with
Alzheimer's disease. Much of America is in mourning. I, too, am
grieving, but not for Ronald Reagan. Instead, I mourn for the United
States as it was before the years of his administration.
It is common among people who opposed Reagan's policies to dismiss him as a misguided, but amicable dunce. I do not agree with that assessment. We cannot forget that Ronald Reagan was a professional actor - not among the greats of his era by any means, but nonetheless far better than the average citizen would be. A suitable analogy would be to compare the basketball skills of the twelfth man off the bench on an NBA roster to those of a high school player who was not good enough to get a college basketball scholarship.
Instead, I believe Ronald Reagan's last, and most successful role, was in playing the part of an amicable dunce - a coldly calculated move on his part to solidify support for his agenda and to mask his frightening lack of compassion for those less fortunate in American society. I can never forget how often he deflected questions about the effects of his policies on lower-income Americans by telling jokes - a skill he honed to perfection in his years in Hollywood. This lack of feeling for others not only became acceptable during the Reagan years - it became respectable, even fashionable. Unfortunately for America and for the world as a whole, it remains as his most lasting legacy.
Some of Reagan's admirers laud him by saying that he made Americans feel good about themselves again. For certain segments of the population, that is undoubtedly true. Was Ronald Reagan a racist? I doubt it. But did his policies and his general attitude allow racists to feel they had a place in society again? I, for one, think so. The civil rights gains of the '60's and 70's were certainly not rolled back during and after Reagan's years in office. There is no doubt though that progress on those issues slowed. Would more gains in that area have been made by now if Ronald Reagan had never been President of the United States? Of that, I have no doubt.
Let us not forget Reagan's frequent assertion that "Government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem." How many Americans grew up hearing that and taking it to heart? How many of these same Americans are now members of militia and paramilitary groups? A small minority, I fee sure, but enough to be a threat. Would there ever have been a Timothy McVeigh or an Eric Rudolph without Ronald Reagan? Again, I seriously doubt it.
Kurt Vonnegut once said "Say only good of the dead." I, for one, can only follow that maxim if I never speak of Ronald Reagan again.
|Recruiting pitch called scare tactic||Please also see related articles on 2nd News Page, Iraq War News|
Reservists pressured to re-enlist (the Chicago Tribune)
By Tim Jones and Michael Kilian
Tribune national correspondents
May 23, 2004
MariAnn Curta said she was "freaked out" during much of her son's recently completed nine-month tour of duty in Iraq, where he drove a fuel truck in the Sunni Triangle.
But when she got the call from a recruiter last weekend warning that her 22-year-old son, Bill, now on the Army's inactive reserve list, could be headed back to Iraq quickly unless he enlisted in the Illinois National Guard, her emotion changed from fear to rage.
"It's devious, it's deceptive, it's dishonest, it's valueless," Curta said. "I can't believe they'd pull this kind of fast trick on kids who have already served."
As part of an aggressive effort to bolster the dwindling pool of available reservists, Army and National Guard recruiting units throughout the country have called thousands of inactive reservists in hopes of persuading them to re-enlist in the active reserves or join their local Guard units.
If they don't, many recruiters warned, they could soon be headed to Iraq. The warnings come by telephone, and they have been concentrated in four areas: Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis and Louisiana.
"It then spread through the country, with the exception of New England," said Army Reserve spokesman Steven Stromvall.
Stromvall said some National Guard recruiters heard about this and then began using similar tactics.
The calls have generated a slew of complaints from veterans and their families.
Stromvall acknowledged that there has been a widespread problem with misleading, inaccurate and intimidating retention efforts throughout the nation in the past few weeks but added that the Army Reserve is moving quickly to fix it.
"They went a bridge too far," he said.
Stromvall said the problem stemmed from misunderstandings on the part of the reserve's 700 retention sergeants about a new drive to get service personnel in the Individual Ready Reserve, whose members do not have to belong to units or attend drills and meetings, to switch voluntarily to an active reserve branch known as the Selective Reserve.
There are now 169,000 reservists and National Guard members of all kinds on active duty, an increase of about 3,000 from last week but down from the more than 200,000 on active duty last year. The stress of the Iraq occupation and insurgency clearly is causing a crunch.
"There is no question the Army is stressed," Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, told a congressional committee earlier this year.
Adding to the problem is that the Pentagon can't find about 50,000 reservists who moved without notifying the government.
The reserve call-ups for tours of active duty in Iraq have largely been by unit. Individual Ready Reserve members have been called up during the war, but in relatively small numbers. Only about 6,500 such individual recalls have been authorized by the Pentagon.
Stromvall said the misleading methods included telling Ready Reservists they likely would be called up individually for service in Iraq if they did not join a Selective Reserve unit by a certain date. He said there was one case at Ft. Bragg, N.C., in which a soldier who was leaving active duty with the regular Army was told by a retention sergeant in the processing line that he would be sent to Iraq automatically if he did not join the Selective Reserve.
One Illinois National Guard veteran who asked not to be identified said the tactics disturbed him.
"They did call my wife and threatened that I'd be taken away from her," the Guard veteran said.
"Ethics are important to me. This bothers me a great deal. If it's an all-volunteer Army, it's just that," he said. "It's not something you should be tricked into."
Those who enlist in the armed forces have a minimum commitment of eight years of service, of which only a portion need be on active duty.
The remainder can be spent either in the Selective Reserve, which includes both the active reserve and the National Guard and requires assignment to a unit, or the Individual Ready Reserve, in which the serviceman or woman merely remains on call.
Curta said she was contacted last weekend by a recruiter from the Illinois National Guard who said it was "urgent" that her son get in touch with him.
"They put the fear in me that he was going back in 48 hours," Curta said.
Maj. Steven Rouse, who is responsible for National Guard recruiting in the northern Illinois region, did not return phone calls from the Tribune. A spokesman for the Illinois National Guard in Springfield said he had no knowledge of calls being made on behalf of the Guard.
That was news to Kelly Akemann of Elgin, who said she received repeated phone calls in recent days from a Chicago-area Guard recruiter warning that her husband, a Guard veteran, could be sent to Iraq if he did not re-enlist quickly.
"I told him I thought these were scare tactics and he told me they weren't scare tactics, these are the realities of life," Akemann said. "I told him you don't need to raise the blood pressure of a three-month pregnant woman. . . . Then I hung up."
Of the 1.1 million or more reservists in the U.S. military, about 820,000 are in the National Guard or active reserve components of the Selective Reserve and 282,000 are in the Individual Ready Reserve.
According to Stromvall, Army Reserve commanders decided to try to identify members of the Individual Ready Reserve by pay grade and military occupational specialty and contact them about voluntarily filling vacant slots in the Selective Reserve.
For each of the past few weeks, about 1,000 or more inactive reservists nationwide have been moving to the active reserve, a much higher number than usual.
Lt. Col. Bob Stone, an Army Reserve spokesman, said the Defense Department has asked Congress for authority to use the Internal Revenue Service to help track down members of the Individual Ready Reserve whose whereabouts are no longer known.
"This has been a concern for some time," Stone said. "Two years ago the Defense Department began working with the Treasury on this, and legislation has now been proposed in the Congress."
He said the military is not attempting to use the nation's chief tax collector for any Orwellian "Big Brother" purpose.
"The only information they would be seeking is an address," he said.
Though the numbers fluctuate, the Pentagon is now missing addresses on 50,217 of the 282,574 members of the Individual Ready Reserve force, or about 18 percent.
Stone said failure to notify the military of a change of address is a violation of military regulations, but no prosecutions will be sought.
"This is not a punitive measure," he said. "This is a way to effectively manage the reserve force."
Stone said he knew of no mass mobilization of reserves under way or planned and said reserve call-ups thus far have been a simple matter of meeting the needs of commanders in the field.
`This is unethical'
Bill Curta, who enlisted in the Army after the September 2001 terrorist attacks, declined to be interviewed for this story. He served in Iraq from March to December 2003, received his discharge in March and will be on the inactive reserve list for six years. Curta's father, Bill Curta, said his son does not intend to re-enlist.
"This is unethical, it's immoral, especially with kids who have already served," Curta said. "It's an ugly story."
Stone acknowledged that retention rates for both the National Guard and the reserves have been slipping. But he said the services have been able to maintain their authorized strength, largely by relaxing their "up or out" rules and allowing personnel to stay in the military even though they have not been promoted to their next grade within a prescribed period.
Stone said that, overall, the military has achieved 94.5 percent of its retention goal and is at 99.8 percent of authorized strength.
The Army National Guard, however, has reached just 93 percent of its retention goal and the Army Reserve 95 percent of its goal.
He said the Army Reserve has ordered a stop to intimidating retention methods and informed personnel of the proper procedures to follow in dealing with reservists.
"It was a mistake," he said.
What did Bush know and when did he know it? Was 9/11 perhaps preventable?
Claim vs. Fact: Rice's Q&A
Testimony Before the 9/11 Commission
Thursday, April 8th, 2004 Common Dreams - see link below
Condoleezza Rice: "I do not remember any reports to us, a kind of strategic warning, that planes might be used as weapons." [responding to Kean]
FACT: Condoleezza Rice was the top National Security official with President Bush at the July 2001 G-8 summit in Genoa. There, "U.S. officials were warned that Islamic terrorists might attempt to crash an airliner" into the summit, prompting officials to "close the airspace over Genoa and station antiaircraft guns at the city's airport." [Sources: Los Angeles Times, 9/27/01; White House release, 7/22/01] See whole story:
DSCO member local Peace Rally organizer
Connie Hammond, a local community activist and DCSO member, helped spearhead the local effort for the Anti-War effort in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, Jan. 18th. A widely diverse coalition opposed to a war with Iraq turned out a huge crowd of thousands in very frigid temperatures for the demonstration. One estimate, from Pacifica radio, put the crowd at about 200,000.
The Dispatch had a front page story covering the story and interviewed several Columbus area peace advocates, including Bill Barndt and Art Strauss. Art was quoted in the Dispatch as saying "We are a movement of the peace-loving people of the world and not the war party."
Connie Hammond is with the Columbus Campaign for Arms Control, as well as being active in several other community organizations.
Recent polls show that support for Bush's war is very weak. No links between Iraq and terrorism against America have been found, and no logical reasons why the US should consider Iraq a threat. But that does not seem to bother the Bush Administration, which appears to want war no matter what.
Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark spoke forcefully in Washington against the war and called for the impeachment of George W. Among other speakers were the Reverend Jessie Jackson and Mara Verheyden-Hilliard. (info from various reports)
For an article Connie wrote for the FREE PRESS about
the sanctions, the effect of the war, and the historical involvement in
Iraq by the US, see next article
Also see: (related info)
drug plan heads for Ohio OK
DSCO supported this campaign!
The Gulf War never ended
The struggle for U.S. hegemony over Iraqi oil resources has a long, sordid, history beginning with the CIA-backed assassination of Abdel Karim Kassem in 1963 leading to the eventual rise to power of Saddam Hussein. When Iraq nationalized its oil industry in 1972, the U.S. placed it on a list of countries that supported terrorism. Despite this, the U.S. supplied Iraq with intelligence, weapons, and technology though out the Iran-Iraq war including during the alleged use of chemical weapons against the Kurdish population in Halabja in 1988. After officially telling Saddam Hussein that the U.S. had no special interests or security arrangements with Kuwait prior to the invasion and then after the invasion would accept no negotiated settlement. The U.S. led the United Nations Security Council to impose the most draconian and protracted sanctions ever imposed on any nation by the international community. In 1991, U.S. and its allies mounted an all out war on Iraq that deliberately targeted the civilian infrastructure destroying water treatment and sanitation facilities, fuel and electrical supplies. In less than three weeks, the tonnage of bombs released on Iraq had exceeded the combined allied air offensive of World War II.
The tightly imposed sanctions regime continues today. Through the U.N. sanctions committee’s holds (currently about 1,934 contracts worth an estimated $4.4 billion are on hold, largely due to U.S. objections) on so-called "dual use" commodities, including such items as chlorine, refrigeration components, water pumps and ambulances, have intentionally slowed to a halt the ability to rebuild the infrastructure and provide any semblance of normalcy. Or as Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness would say, the oil-for-food program amounts to "we’ll be happy to take your oil, but we will have final control over how you spend your money."
In 1995 and in 1997 reports, UNICEF documented an excess infant and under five mortality rate documenting that over 5,000 children died every month in Iraq as a direct result of the sanctions and that one of every four Iraqi children is malnourished. Many of these deaths are due to diseases that would be treatable if medications were available and outbreaks of diseases caused by the lack of sanitation and pure water. Hospitals in Iraq have reported a 4-fold increase in cancers including leukemia in children as a result of the extensive use of depleted uranium during the Gulf War. The mortality rate of childhood leukemia approaches 90%, while in the U.S. with adequate treatment, mortality is about 10%. In the view of UNICEF, the oil-for-food program is "a short-term response to what is now a long-term crisis."
The disgusting arrogance of U.S. actions in Iraq is accurately described by Air Force Brigadier General William Looney, head of the U.S. Central Command’s Airborne Expeditionary Force, which directs operations south of the 32nd parallel in Iraq: "They know we own their country. We own their airspace. We dictate the way they live and talk. And that’s what’s great about America right now. It’s a good thinking, especially when there is a lot of oil out there we need."
The United States and Great Britain imposed the no-fly zones in southern and northern Iraq. The U.N. did not establish the no-fly zones and they clearly violate international law. U.N. resolution 687 calls for a much smaller demilitarized zone along the border between Iraq and Kuwait, and the U.N. has not requested the U.S. to enforce this zone. U.S. and British planes patrol the no-fly zones that are actually Iraqi airspace. The orders of operation allow that whenever the planes are locked onto by Iraqi radar, they return to their base and can within 24 hours mount a bombing campaign.
The February 16 bombing south of Baghdad was an incursion beyond the no-fly zones, even though the planes never left the no-fly zones. Although this represented an escalation in force, it was no more illegal than the illegal air strikes that take place on the average of 2 or 3 times a week. This action resulted in three people dead and 30 wounded among the civilian population. The Washington Post reported that the February 16 bombing in Iraq the U.S. used 28 new Raytheon-produced bombs, the "Joint Stand-Off Weapon" known as J-SOW. These are actually cluster bombs. Each 1000-pound bomb carries 145 bomblets, both anti-armor and anti-personnel, which disperse over a football field-sized area. Pentagon sources day that 26 of the 28 bombs missed their target. Cluster bombs, once on the ground, become landmines, rendering the entire area lethal. These cluster bombs have what William Arkin called a "unique civilian impact." About 5% the bomblets fail to detonate on impact and become highly volatile land mines. On February 20, a shepherd was wounded near Nasiriyah in southern Iraq when an unexploded bomblet detonate. On February 15, Reuters reported that two Iraqi boys in western Iraq, also tending sheep, were injured by a cluster bomblet. On February 9, a child was killed and sub-munitions near Basra wounded six others. U.N. officials documented 144 civilians killed by U.S.-U.K. bombings in the no-fly zones throughout 1999.
Despite the fact that intelligence from the UNSCOM activities was used as espionage, it is not true that Iraq kicked the arms inspectors out of the country as is commonly reported. UNSCOM was withdrawn from Iraq in preparation for the December, 1998 bombing of Baghdad. UNSCOM was largely successful in ridding Iraq of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and the mean of production. Scott Ritter, former U.N. weapons inspector, stated that "…from a quantitative standpoint, Iraq has in fact been disarmed…The chemical, biological, nuclear and long-range ballistic missile programs that were a real threat in 1991 had, by 1998, been destroyed or rendered harmless." As a matter of fact, they were very close to certifying this in 1998. It is also a common misconception that the sanctions would end if Iraq would allow the arms inspections to resume.
U.N. Resolution 1284 allows only for a 90-day suspension of sanctions pending the reports of a newly to-be-established weapons inspection team. The resolution was carefully crafted to keep both arms inspections and sanctions in place, a combination that could not be acceptable to Iraq.
It is difficult to decide whether the late-breaking state department rhetoric on softening the impact of sanctions on the Iraqi people is a sincere humanitarian concern or a feeble propaganda attempt to counter growing world-wide, anti-sanctions sentiment. The continued attacks using antipersonnel bombs would argue against humanitarian concerns. Additionally, even recently, the U.S. has consistently resisted U.N. efforts to make the sanctions less lethal to the civilian population or "smarter." It is almost certain that proposed changes would not end the diversion of Iraq’s oil revenues to the U.N. escrow account.
Whether the intentions are noble or not, softening the repeated blows of injustice is not enough. The sanctions must be lifted. When Leslie Stahl confronted Madeline Albright with the UNICEF report on child mortality, she stated that "we think the price is worth it." Denis Halliday states, "The death of one Iraqi child attributable to economic sanctions is one death too many." It was coincidental that a national two-day conference on Iraq was held in Colorado just after U.S. and Great Britain launch air strikes on Baghdad. The day of the air strikes over 100 delegates representing more than 60 organizations all over the country converged in Denver at the Second National Organizing Conference on Iraq and formed the National Network to End the War in Iraq (NNEWAI). The group’s goal is to create a unified national voice and course of action meant to address a growing humanitarian crisis for which members said the U.S. has shirked its moral responsibility.
Columbus, Ohio is famous in the national anti-sanctions movement. The people (especially the Antiracist Action) in Columbus who rose up to challenge Madeline Albright’s Town Meeting by demonstrating outside St. John’s arena, confronting the panel with the truth, and putting the brakes on their attempt to popularize genocide were remembered and acknowledged at the National Conference. The challenge to us is to continue to live up to the reputation of being bold, creative, and energetic in continuing what was so effectively accomplished at the Columbus Town Meeting - a total disruption of the anti-Iraq agenda!
Connie Hammond is a member of the CCAC Middle East Peace committee and the Progressive Peace Coalition. CCAC is a the local affiliate of Peace Action. She serves as a member of the Coordinating Committee and the advocacy working Group of the National Network to End the War in Iraq and serves as a member. For more information on the activities of any of these groups, she can be reached at email@example.com.
IS THERE A CASE FOR THE WAR WITH IRAQ?
February 9, 2003
*** Letter to elected members Congress *** By Bill Buckel
After hearing Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation to the United Nations, I was reminded of the old criticism of the grand juries in Ohio. The critics like to say that any determined prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. This observation has a ring of truth about it because grand jurors typically make a decision after hearing only the prosecutor’s side of the story.
Secretary Powell presented an apparent strong case against Iraq. Unfortunately, Secretary Powell grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory by the context of his presentation. Powell used about one and a half hours (90 minutes) to present the "prosecution’s" case, while Iraq was given only five minutes for the "defense’s" rebuttal. And, it is my understanding that Iraq had no prior knowledge of what Powell was going to say.
Would any American trial judge allow this to happen in his/her courtroom? If Secretary Powell really the case against Iraq was good and solid, he should have insisted on equal time for an Iraqi rebuttal. What could have been more convincing to the world than to watch a feeble response by Iraq? Perhaps, Powell knew a systematic rebuttal would have destroyed much of his case.
Congress needs to hear both sides, our side and the Iraqi side. Accordingly, I urge you to sponsor a resolution retracting the delegation of authority in HJR-114 and insist on the need for a clear declaration of war from Congress. Please think long and hard before going along with a war with Iraq, or anybody else. Bill has a website: http://www.billbuckel.com/
1641 Hess Blvd.
Columbus, OH 43212
(Bill Buckel is a longtime member of DSCO. He has run as a Democrat for US Congress against Deborah Pryce and has also run for Columbus School Board several times unsuccessfully. Bill is a well-known community activist.)
Internationalist Socialist Leader—
This article originally appeared in the Columbus FREE PRESS, in the LEFTIE section, in the Spring 2000 issue. That was the DSCO section’s name at that time. DSCO articles now appear four times yearly under the by-line A Democratic Socialist Perspective.
(Editor’s note: Every March, DSCO celebrates International Women’s Day, which was originated by 19th century American socialists. Rosa Luxemburg was one of the great leaders of the European socialist movement.)
By Nancy Fuller
I had heard of the Spartacus League back in the Sixties when I knew radicals who resided at the "Rosa Luxemburg House" just off the OSU campus. Back then; I had not taken time to learn about the Spartacus League and its founders. My further activities with social justice causes and involvement with the Democratic Socialists of Central Ohio led me to learn about an extraordinary leader often overshadowed, sadly, by male leaders of the socialist movement.
I feel a review of Rosa Luxemburg’s life is a valuable way to assess the history of socialism. Her assassination at age 49,in 1919,shows among other things, how powerful political movements can be. The movie Rosa Luxemburg adds to this information by showing her personal life as well as the social milieu of the time.
Rosa Luxemburg, born in Russian Poland in 1870 or 1871, formulated and led revolutionary social movements in Eastern Europe. Born is a Jewish merchant family, she joined the Polish socialist party "Proletariat" as a young adult and was forced to flee to Switzerland to escape persecution for her activities. There, in Zurich, she studied natural sciences and political economy, earning a doctoral degree in 1898. In Switzerland she joined Leo Jogiches, a fellow Marxist, to assume leadership of the Social Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania.
Her principle socialist ideals then (1893) and later included a rejection of nationalism. Her skills as a journalist and her forthright speeches increased her reputation within the German socialist Party, which she joined in 1898 when she became a German citizen.
Soon, she opposed the reformist "politics of exhaustion" of Socialist Party leaders, which included, she believed, overly cautious views of strikes. Unlike Lenin, who saw the Party, organized in cells, as the most important element of the social revolution, Luxemburg believed in the power of mass strikes. She wrote a critique of the Russian Revolution. In contrast to Lenin, she held that the rule of the proletariat should not dispense with democracy.
WWI split the German socialist movement. The Socialist Party supported the war. Luxemburg, Jogiches and Wilhelm Liebknecht founded the Spartacus League, the pre-cursor to the German Communist Party. Defeat and the Russian Revolution ignited revolution in Germany. In the ensuing struggle, Socialists fought Spartacusts. Luxemburg and Liebknecht were murdered by far-right assassins, probably with the connivance of the Socialist government.
Luxemburg’s contributions were great and unrelenting. Had she lived, it is thought that socialist doctrine would have been more expansive than Leninism. Totally against WWI, she believed such conflict negated social cohesion. Foremost in her thinking was the spirit of international cooperation.
The 1986 movie Rosa Luxemburg directed by Margarethe von Trotta is an excellent depiction of the political ferment of the period. Luxemburg’s character is fully developed and Barbara Sukawa, who plays Luxemburg, won the Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award. The color film is available on video in German with English subtitles.
More info on Rosa Luxemburg can be found at the Marxist Internet Archive, http://www.marxists.org/index.htm Or to go straight to Rosa Luxemburg, http://www.marxists.org/glossary/people/l/u.htm#luxemburg-rosa Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you see links that are not functioning properly. Thanks
Nancy Fuller is a poet and a member of the Democratic Socialists of Central Ohio. [ Top of Page]
Columbus Politics/Political Contributions
4.2 million dollars in campaign contributions were accepted by two mayors and members of Columbus City Council between January of 1998 to the end of 2000. Of that amount, only 15 percent came from individual donations less than 500 dollars. Eighty-five percent came from those who gave 500 dollars or more. Most campaign contributions came from people doing business with the city.
For most people, giving even 500 dollars to a political candidate would be a real strain to their budgets, considering most expenses in their daily lives that are not discretionary. The chart shows how little impact even a sum up to 500 dollars has to a local political campaign, and why conflict of interest provisions are needed to combat pay-to-play political access to elected officials. Policies based on large political contributions are based first on what is best for the contributor and not what is best for the citizenry as a whole.
Franklin County Auditor Joe Testa in September of last year (2002) said he would recommend going after companies that don’t live up to their tax abatement agreements, for repayment of taxes if they do not live up to their agreements.
In return for abatements, companies supposedly agree to create jobs or invest money by an agreed to date. But no specific or legal guidelines exist, and even the agreements that are adhered to can demand little from the entities receiving them. (related article) Also see the next article and Campaign Finance information and links below.
Tax Abatements and Economic Development Subsidies
A new study suggests that state and local tax incentives for existing businesses don’t create new jobs!
This very impressive study, — written by Todd Gabe of the University of Maine and David Kraybill of Ohio State University — takes a critical look at the effect of one state-level economic development program. Skeptics have always questioned the job-creation statistics in various press releases and reports. Now a new article in the Journal of Regional Science is suggesting that the skeptics are right. The work done in this study is comprehensive and meticulously researched. For a article that does a good job briefly summarizing their work that appeared in Governing.Com:
You can find an electronic version of the original paper at:
You can find an electronic version of the original paper at:
Also see: http://www.goodjobsfirst.org/research/resman.htm (This valuable link provided by Simone Morgen, DSCO Co-Chair
http://www.ecodevdirectory.com/ AND: Extensive documentation, Campaign Contributions, Living Wage and Subsidies, Stealing Money From Kids
(Columbus Dispatch Graphic)
Campaign Finance: Please see story above also. Developers generally give at least 25 percent of campaign money that Columbus City Council members and the Mayor receive in campaign contributions.
The following articles tell the picture why Campaign Finance is clearly needed. (With conflict-of-interest provisions added. ) Also see: Campaign Finance and Taxpayer Protection: Free Press article Please also see the Tax Abatement section.
(The Columbus Dispatch ran a series of stories in the December 9th and 10th issues entitled Access at City Hall. This is links to those articles, which were well-done and researched. Of course the Dispatch did not report that they endorsed candidates that later granted business interests of Dispatch Publishing public benefits, but they were fair and balanced otherwise. It would have better if the articles were printed before an election however, instead of after one. Anyhow, this is links to those articles.)
Access at City Hall, (Dozens of campaign donors are also city vendors)
Campaign Contributors receive about half of City's Tax Abatements
Columbus has few rules (regarding campaign finances)
More Infomation: Campaign Finance (local initiative) and also: An introductory article about Campaign Finance and Taxpayer Protection
Why a LIVING WAGE is Just,
Helpful for the Community and Sustainable Economically
[And the use of tax abatements] By Rick Wilhelm
(Living wage Links at end of article)
(Update On this article) This was originally written in 2001. The poverty line number used in this article is for the year 2000, which was $8.20. The poverty level for 2002 is $8.70 for a family of four. Normally the Living wage figure is set above that, and a good figure to shoot for is 130% of the poverty line. That would be $11.31 without benefits, and the figure could be set at about $9.75 with a benefit package for employees that included health care. The 2002 figures are included in the chart. ( additional Living wage articles by DSCO members are archived in the Columbus FREE PRESS. )
I) What is a Living Wage?
A living wage ordinance requires employers to pay wages that are above the minimum wage. Although in 1968, the MINIMUM wage was only $1.60 that was actually the peak of its effectiveness. That is because in real dollars the $1.60 then would be $8.05 in 2001, adjusted for inflation. That is close to three dollars higher than what it is today. In other words, if the minimum wage had kept up with inflation, a living wage ordinance now would not be as important.
As you can see by the chart below, the minimum wage and the poverty level were almost the same rate in 1968. Now, there is a wide variance between the two.
II) What Employers does it affect?
Usually, it applies to those who contract with the city and their subcontractors, and to businesses who receive tax abatements or "economic development subsidies" from the locality in which it is in effect. However, there are essentially four different models. They are:
1) CITY CONTRACTS- covers only city service contractors and their subcontractors
2) CONTRACTS AND SUBSIDIES- includes the above with the addition of those that receive tax breaks or subsidies of some kind. This is the most common type.
3) CONTRACTS, SUBSIDIES and COMMUNITY HIRING- Includes the above provisions with stipulations that the people of the locality be given opportunities for the jobs "created."
4) CITYWIDE MANDATED LIVING WAGE- applies to all businesses that operate in the locality.
For the purpose of this article I will concentrate on the first three. The last proposal has never been successful in being legislated. A living wage for all Americans, however, is a goal that we should work toward.
III) By raising the wage paid to the workers who will be affected, doesn’t that really hurt the ones it’s supposed to help by eliminating jobs?
Not according to research conducted in cities after a living wage was instituted. In study after study in Baltimore, Chicago, Boston, and other Cities that have a living wage ordinance, there was no noticeable effect on employment levels or in City services. There are many other things that have a more pronounced effect on the economy, and on the businesses covered by the provisions. Among these are the fact that productivity has been shown to go up in businesses that pay a better wage. This is due in part to the fact that there are fewer turnovers in higher-paying jobs. Another factor mentioned in the research sources I used was that the moral goes up markedly in companies that have a more sustainable wage base. This may sound like pie-in-the-sky to some but if you have ever worked in a sweatshop type operation opposed to a well-managed enterprise that values it’s employees, the difference in productivity can be substantial. Plus, a further factor is the way a sustainable wage affects the market itself. The powers behind the shaping of our system today would have us believe that "trickle-down" economics are in our best interests collectively when in fact the principle has had a negative effect not just on Society but the market as well. When a little more money is placed in the hands of those at the bottom of the economic spectrum, those individuals tend to spend the wage gains on tangible commodities such as food, better and more reliable transportation, and household accessories that many people take for granted. That, according to the sources that I will list, actually STRENGTHENS the economy of a given local.
IV) Why is a Living Wage Ordinance considered to be a Just Cause?
Because of a simple principle: Those who work should be able to at least provide the basics for their families. The minimum wage is nearly 40 PERCENT BELOW the official Federal poverty guidelines for a family of four. From a moral perspective various groups think this is wrong. That is why many church groups have supported living wage proposals.
V) Why is the Living Wage mentioned in relation to tax abatements and other economic initiatives?
Because they are correlated. In order to understand why, a brief history of business subsidies is necessary. Largely since the early eighties, municipal governments, and states and federal governments, have pursued policies for reversing the economic decline of cities by the use of what is generally referred to as "Urban Development." To this end, massive tax abatement and other enticements have been devised. However, they have not been successful in reversing the decline or reducing poverty. In part, this is because government subsidies are not usually the primary reason that businesses locate or expand. Much more important considerations include the proximity to suppliers and markets, the quality of the infrastructure, the labor force, and life in the city. And of even more importance, the quality of the educational system.
The educational system, in fact, has suffered because of the subsidies. Millions of dollars are lost to the public school systems (Including Columbus) due to tax abatements. The argument that is used by the proponents of tax abatements is that any tax paid by new business is better than none at all. And that the employees that result from any new jobs will pay tax, thus increasing the tax base. But this assumes that 1) Jobs are actually created 2) The business or enterprise would not have proceeded without the subsidies and 3) That the business receiving the benefit pays there employees enough so as to be an asset instead of a hindrance to the community.
Actually, there is little evidence that jobs are even created in most cases, and even in those instances, the jobs come at such a cost to the community as a whole that the detriments often outweigh the benefits. As pointed out above, the primary reasons for business expansion are not usually the subsidies themselves, but a variety of other reasons. Another factor in considering the worth of tax abatements, TIFS, (tax-increment financing) and other "economic development subsidies" is their overall value to the municipality from which they receive the "financial Incentive". If, for instance, they pay only slightly above the minimum wage of $5.15 to a substantial number of their employees, those employees will be well below the poverty line and will probably receive subsidies themselves in the form of food stamps, housing assistance, (if available) medical care and earned income tax credits. On the other hand, if the employees covered under the living wage provision receive $8.20 an hour, those government subsidies diminish considerably. Unfortunately, the taxes also go up for those receiving the improved, though still low, wages. But they do have a substantial increase in their disposable income, plus the self-esteem that comes with the fact that they are receiving their livelihood in the form of a paycheck rather than a subsidy. For these reasons it is important to "tie-in" tax abatements to a living wage ordinance. I used the $8.20 figure because that is the poverty line for a family of four (year 2000 figure). The Living Wage is usually set above the poverty level. If it were set at 130 percent of the poverty level, that would be $10.66 using 2000 figures. Or about $9.15 for employers who provide a benefit package that includes health care for employees. If tax abatements are a fact of life (for the time-being at least) municipalities and the citizens therein have a responsibility to make sure that those receiving them pay their employees a living wage. The vast majority of tax abatements are given WITHOUT STIPULATIONS THAT ANY PROMISED JOB CREATION ACTUALLY OCCURS OR HOW MUCH THEY PAY. Even if they do give assurances that jobs will be "created," NOTHING IS DONE if they’re not. Unless a living wage is passed that addresses those concerns.
VI) Are Living Wage Proposals Anti-Business?
Absolutely not. Most living wage ordinances cover less than 1% of the local workforce. In addition, the costs of the living wage will have a very small effect on the profits of the companies affected by the law. The profit margins for firms impacted by the living wage are estimated to be from 10 to 20% of production costs. The wage increases from the ordinances are usually around 2% of production costs or less. In addition, municipalities should encourage companies who are the "high-end" kind, that pay a living wage, not the ones who can’t or won’t. This ordinance will not mandate anything to those who pay less than the living wage, unless they contract with the city or receive some form of abatement or financial help.
VII) Does Labor support Living Wage proposals?
Very much so. As a matter of fact, they have been the driving forces behind them in many of the instances they were proposed and /or passed.
VIII) How have tax abatements and "financial incentives" been used in Columbus? Who have been the main beneficiaries? Have they been in the best interests of the citizens?
When business taxes are reduced for some it has the effect of raising taxes for property owners and small businesses that do not receive subsidies. After all, the taxes have to come from somewhere. And that can have the effect of actually keeping small businesses from locating to areas of high tax abatements, which are usually given to big business. It should be pointed out also that not all small businesses pay low wages. Plus, the tax abatement and economic development schemes are getting so out of hand that the cities are in a bidding war over who can give the better deal. Plus, the suburbs are in on the act. When only a few cities were offering these tax incentives, there was some justification that they could help their economies. But with almost every municipality now doing it because of competition, the economic benefits, never as good as advertised, are lost.
Now to address the questions above. Lets look at five examples of tax abatements and incentives that were approved by City Council. Former Mayor Greg Lashutka, now an executive with Nationwide, brokered the deal that gave Nationwide and the Dispatch (a 10 percent partner) control of the old Pen site. The City agreed to spend $9.4 million to clean up the site, which was polluted. In addition to that, the City granted the Developers (with Nationwide being the direct beneficiary) more than $12 million in tax abatements. The deal also included $18.1 million for capitol improvements, $3.5 million for a sewer line, and another $3.6 million that the developers don’t have to pay back as part of the Pen site deal. Total: $37.1 million, NOT INCLUDING the $9.4 million for the clean up. (This is the so-called Nationwide Arena hockey deal) See related story
Case # 2: Brewers Yard. The City Council approved in December of 1999 a total of $3 million in tax abatements for a retail and entertainment project planned for the corner of Front and Sycamore streets in the Brewery District. This is a combined Schottenstein and Capital Square Ltd. project. Capital Square Ltd. is a subsidiary of the Dispatch printing Co. Another $1.5 million was approved the same meeting for Casto Development for expensive apartments just south of Brewers Yard. When it was pointed out by opponents that the area was not a blighted area and would be developed anyhow, Councilman Sensenbrenner said, " I would rather err on the side of being too generous." The School Board recommended against these two abatements, led by Mary Jo Kilroy at the time. Both of these were submitted as "emergency legislation." The Dispatch is also the beneficiary of other tax deals though out the City. Also, the Dispatch’s interest in a Polaris property wasn’t mentioned in news stories or editorials as it covered the battle between Polaris and Northland Mall. It should be pointed out that the Dispatch endorsed all but one of the Council members, plus Mayor Coleman the last election. Right after the election, these abatements were approved.
Case # 3: Worthington Steel. On January 12, 2000, Worthington Industries was granted a $1.3 million tax abatement. How many jobs did they promise to create? None. Would they have left town without it? Extremely unlikely, since it would cost many millions to leave. Go to a Steel Company and look at the equipment. Then decide how much it would cost to move it. It should be known that John P. McConnell, CEO of Worthington Industries, gave 10,000 dollars to Coleman’s Mayoral campaign, and 2,000 to Councilwoman Jennette Bradley’s re-election effort.
Two other examples: The Easton Town Center mall: $12.86 million. They just gave a few weeks ago a $1.2 million abatement to a business enterprise of Warren Buffet, who is ranked by Forbes magazine as the fourth richest man in the world. Year 2000 worth: 26 billion. ( Jan. 18th, 2001 issue, Columbus ALIVE)
Tax abatements should only be given in limited circumstances. And only then when a living wage is required. This is meant to serve as a guideline as to what those circumstances are and why a living wage ordinance will best serve the needs of the City.
1) The Living Wage-by Robert Pollin and Stephanie Luce
4) The Columbus Alive
5) The Other Paper
For more articles on the Living Wage please see LEFTIE links here:
Also see: Living Wage, Live Action
For more on Tax abatements please see: Stealing Money From Kids
ALSO: New study suggests many tax incentives may actually REDUCE jobs
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Arena appraisal yet to be resolved
as of December 9, 2003!
For over 2 & 1/2 years, Nationwide has used the system to try to get the value of its property lowered. To County Auditor's Testa's credit, his office has not buckled. Columbus ALIVE Story from 2001, additional story from Suburban News Publications Story from 2002. The issue is now at the Franklin County Board of Revisions stage. If it rules against Nationwide, or rules in any way to Nationwide's disliking, then Nationwide can appeal to the Common Pleas Court or the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals. Nationwide said the value of the Arena was 46.5 million, and Testa's estimate was for 126.7 million.
Dec. 18th update: The Franklin County Board of Revision tax-appeals panel said the value of the Arena was 156 million, 26 million more than Testa's estimate and 109.6 million more than Nationwide said it was worth! In a rare victory against Corporate dominance and arrogance in Columbus, the Schoolchildren are the winners. But Nationwide can appeal. No word yet if Nationwide will. Nationwide is used to getting it's way. See related info
In yet another example of wishy-washy, sell out Democrats, the lone dissenter on the panel was the lone Democrat, Richard Cordray, who said Testa's earlier estimate of 126.7 million was about right. "I regard this amount as a reasonable adjustment to the valuation." he said. See story in the OTHER paper. http://www.theotherpaper.com/cover.html
Literature on Socialist thought. Also used for lesson plans:
Estranged (Alienated) Labour: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/labour.htm
Communist Manifesto: http://csf.colorado.edu./psn/marx/Archive/1848-CM/
http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/preface.htm [ Top of Page]
A Democratic Socialist Perspective on Marx By John Wallace, DSCO member
Archived Articles from members of DSCO and others regarding various
aspects of Socialism.
A wealth of information about Socialist thought from the Columbus Free Press LEFTIE section that DSCO used to do. For more articles click the Democratic Socialist Perspective link at top of page or click here:
December 1997 LEFTIE
April 1998 LEFTIE
June-July 1998 LEFTIE
October 1998 LEFTIE -and also-
June 1999 LEFTIE
Great articles by local DSCO members John Wallace, Bob Fitrakis, Simone Morgen, George Boas, Mike Smalz, Reg Dyck, Jim Wiley, Lisa Lectka, Cheryl Turk Hill, former DSCO member Glenn King and others. Please go to the sites to read them all. I am including two articles from the October 98 link by guest writers and DSA members Cornel West and Barbara Ehrenreich.
"We must frankly acknowledge that a democratic socialist society will not necessarily eradicate racism. Yet a democratic socialist society is the best hope for alleviating and minimizing racism, particularly institutionalized forms of racism. This conclusion depends on a candid evaluation that guards against utopian self-deception. But it also acknowledges the deep moral commitment on the part of democratic socialists of all races to the dignity of all individuals and peoples -- a commitment that impels us to fight for a more libertarian and egalitarian society...
"A major focus on antiracist coalition work will not only lead democratic socialists to act upon their belief in genuine individuality and radical democracy for people around the world; it also will put socialists in daily contact with peoples of color in common struggle. Bonds of trust can be created only within concrete contexts of struggle. This interracial interaction guarantees neither love nor friendship. Yet it can yield more understanding and the realization of two overlapping goals -- democratic socialism and antiracism. While engaging in antiracist struggles, democratic socialists can also enter into a dialogue on the power relationships and misconceptions that often emerge in multiracial movements for social justice in a racist society. Honest and trusting coalition work can help socialists unlearn Eurocentrism in a self-critical manner and can also demystify the motivations of white progressives in the movement for social justice."
From: "Toward a Socialist Theory of Racism" by Cornel West available on the DSA website archives. (Many of the National DSA website archives are not working due to website restructuring. After this resource becomes available again, I will update the Cornel West and other links.) However, the full length article can also be accessed here: http://www.eserver.org/race/toward-a-theory-of-racism.html
"Near the turn of the century, the family wage system represented a pact between the social classes as well as the sexes. To the working class, it seemed to offer dignity and a certain gentility. To far-seeing capitalists and middle-class reformers, it seemed to offer social stability: Men who were the sole support of their families could be counted on to be loyal, or at least, fearful employees.... More and more people entered the mainstream culture centered on the breadwinning husband and stay-at-home wife.... But, as historian Heidi Hartmann has explained, the fight for the family wage helped establish our present gender-based occupational hierarchy. Women were squeezed out of higher paying, craft jobs and professions and pushed down to the bottom of the labor market...
"Partly because the changes in women's role have been given conscious articulation by a feminist movement, changes in men (or in the behavior expected of men) are usually believed to be derivative of, or merely reactive to, the changes in women. Yet I will argue that the collapse of the [male] breadwinner ethic had begun well before the revival of feminism.... The great irony, as I will argue later, is that the right-wing, antifeminist backlash that emerged in the 1970s is a backlash not so much against feminism as against the male revolt...
"The common drift, from Playbody through the counterculture of the sixties and the psychological revaluation of masculinity in the seventies, has been to legitimate a consumerist personality for men.... And if this movement has had a sustaining sense of indignation, it has more often been directed against women rather than against the corporate manipulators of tastes and dictators of the work routine...
"The starkest indicator of the changed economic relations between the sexes is what sociologist Diana Pearce has termed "the feminization of poverty." In 1980 two out of three adults who fit into the federal definition of poverty were women, and more than half the families defined as poor were maintained by single women...
"The assumptions of the family wage system have come to outweigh the reality. The average male wage is now less than that required to support a family, certainly less than required to support a family with middle-class expectations of family vacation trips, college educations for the children, and late-model cars. There are simply fewer jobs around that pay enough to support more than one or two people... Thus, if men have defaulted on the pact represented by the family wage, so too have their corporate employers....
"As it is, male culture seems to have abandoned the breadwinner role without overcoming the sexist attitudes that role has perpetuated: on the one hand, the expectation of female nurturance and submissive service as a matter of right; on the other, a misogynist contempt for women as `parasites' and entrappers of men. In a `world without a father,' that is, without the private system of paternalism built into the family wage system, we will have to learn to be brothers and sisters....
"My own utopian visions are far more socialistic, more democratic at every level of dialogue and decision-making.... I would hope that we might meet as rebels together -- not against each other but against a social order that condemns so many of us to meaningless or degrading work in return for a glimpse of commodified pleasures, and condemns all of us to the prospect of mass annihilation. If we can do this, if we can make a common commitment to ourselves and future generations, then it may also be possible to rebuild the notion of personal commitment, and to give new strength and shared meaning to the words we have lost -- responsibility, maturity and even, perhaps, manliness."
From: Barbara Ehrenreich, The Hearts of Men: American Dreams and the Flight
from Commitment (New York: Anchor Books, 1983)
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