What’s on for the coming week:
CWA may strike AT&T TODAY (Friday, May 19) and our support teamwork needs to be poised to jump in. Wear Red on Friday and try to join a picket line (below) if there’s no settlement. Sam Nelson provides the place to go for the latest information
The DC Central Labor Council newsletter Union City Friday morning quotes CWA Local 2336 President Terry Richardson. "CWA will call a 3-day strike against AT&T Mobility (wireless) today at 3pm, if the company has not come to the table with a fair proposal by then."
Metro DC DSA can help on the picket lines.
Union City lists these DMV-wide locations:
DC-area CWA AT&T strike targets:
Chevy Chase: 5301 Wisconsin Ave. N.W. Washington DC 20015, Mon.-Sat. 10am-7pm, Sun. 11am-6pm
Washington Square: 1050 Connecticut Ave. N.W. Washington DC 20036, Mon.-Fri. 9am-7pm, Sat. 10am-6pm
Dupont Circle: 1518 Connecticut Ave N.W. Washington DC 20036, Mon.-Sat. 9am-7pm, Sun. 11am-5pm
Chinatown: 785 7th Street N.W. Washington DC 20001, Mon.-Fri. 10am-8pm, Sat. 10am-7pm, Sun. 12pm-6pm
F St.: 1201 F Street N.W. Washington DC 20004, Mon. 9am-7pm, Sat. 10am-6pm
Cricket: 2849 Alabama Ave. S.E. Washington DC 20020, Mon.-Sat. 10am-8pm, Sun. 12pm-6pm
And we’re also hearing from the CWA site that 1100 S. Hayes St. in Arlington will be a picket location.
From DSA National Political Director Maria Svart (Thursday, May 18):
We are supporting our friends at the Communication Workers of America. Tens of thousands of their members at AT&T have been working without a contract for months. If AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson doesn't settle by 3pm ET tomorrow, [Today, Friday May 19] they're going on strike. Since yesterday, DirecTV workers have joined the strike endorsement as well.
This may be the biggest strike of retail workers at a national company in U.S. history. CWA has reached out to DSA members for help. We're talking about 40,000 workers in 36 states standing up for their jobs — and their dignity. Will you join striking workers at a picket line at a nearby retail store, either this Friday, Saturday or Sunday? Click here to find a location near you and RSVP. And you can print out downloadable signs here and here.
DSA's national Steering Committee fully supports the CWA workers, and our chapters are already signing up to support picket lines. This isn’t just about AT&T, which is the 10th largest company in the country and made $13 billion in profits last year. We have to take a stand to say working people can’t be used and abused while companies make billions off our backs.
Wireless workers at AT&T have seen their salaries eroded year after year, while their benefits get more and more expensive. It’s getting almost impossible to make ends meet working at AT&T Mobility. If workers do strike on Friday, they will be striking to protect their jobs (which are being outsourced left and right), preserve affordable health care, and stop their wages from stagnating.
This fight is bigger than AT&T, this is about working people standing up to corporate power for good jobs and a better future. I hope you’ll join AT&T workers on the picket line this weekend.
Maria Svart, DSA National Director
New DCDSA Steering Committee Elects Officers
Comrades -- Thank you to everyone who voted in the recent elections for the steering committee for Metro DC DSA. We were thrilled to see the record level of turnout and interest that members showed during the elections. It's an honor to be selected to represent the members of the chapter and everyone elected to steering is already working hard to ensure the continued success of the Metro DC Chapter. To that end, the steering committee has held our first meeting and selected officers for the next year:
The Metro DC DSA Steering Committee
DCDSA MEETINGS COMING UP THIS WEEK –
Start with a really busy weekend and build in some possible picket-line time.
Note: most of these entries have Meetup links for the latest information.
Saturday, May 20 Economic Justice Committee meets, 2 p.m. at Mt. Pleasant Library, 3160 16th Street NW (Closest Metro stop is Columbia Heights). On the agenda:
Introductions (10 minutes)
Updates by working groups: (30 minutes) (6 minutes each)
We want to let you all know that our next committee meeting is this Sunday the 21st at the Georgetown Neighborhood Library (3260 R Street Northwest, Washington, DC) from 1-3PM (notice the time change!). We'll be meeting at the GEO Meeting Room. Please factor Georgetown's transportation inconvenience into your travel arrangements (we'll have a better location for next time, folks!).
This meeting is a really important to make because after hearing from two speakers from the DCReInvests coalition in the first hour, we'll be discussing our committee's future direction and projects. We have several prospective projects lined up for discussion and look forward to seeing and hearing from everyone! “
Sunday, May 21 Tenants Know-Your-Rights Training & Canvassing 12:30 p.m. at WeWork Wonderbread at 641 S Street NW.
Please join DC DSA's Racial Justice Committee Sunday, May 21st to learn how to canvass for tenants' rights! Many renters in DC who are facing eviction do not have... Learn more Hosted by: Margaret McLaughlin (Co-Organizer)
Sunday, May 21 Metro DC DSA Communications Committee Meeting 1:00 p.m. Mt. Pleasant Library 3160 16th St NW, Washington, DC (map) The Communications Committee works with our newsletter, weekly updates, social media, website layout and content and internal and external outreach in general. Skills welcome! Learn more
Sunday, May 21 Socialist Feminism Reading Group 🌹 4:00 p.m. at the Kogod Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery in Chinatown, Washington, DC. 8th and F Streets, NW Washington, D.C., Washington, DC (map)
Join us as we explore and discuss topics within Socialist Feminism 🌹 For reference: Past selections were from Women: Class and the Feminist Imagination (available here: h... Learn more Hosted by: Lynne Williamson (Co-Organizer), and Ariana Ascherl
Tuesday, May 23 Socialist Feminism Committee Meeting 6:30 p.m. Institute for Policy Studies 1301 Connecticut Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC (map)
Join us as we plan DC DSA Grrrl's Night, action on CPC's in DC, Socialist Feminism Reading Group, and ongoing research on baby boxes. Learn more Hosted by: Ariana Ascherl
Wednesday May 24 Socialist International Discussion & Vote 6:30 p.m. Institute for Policy Studies 1301 Connecticut Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC (map) Please join us in a discussion on DSA's decision to remain in or leave the Socialist International. Chip Gibbons and Jack Clark will be presenting cases for each side,... Learn more Hosted by: Margaret McLaughlin (Co-Organizer)
AND THE REST OF MAY and onward
Sunday, May 28 Intro to DSA: Socialism 101 1:30 p.m. Petworth Neighborhood Library 4200 Kansas Ave NW, Washington, DC (map) Are you new to our group and wondering just what the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is all about? On Sunday, May 28, we'll host an intro session for anyone... Learn more Hosted by: Jessie (Co-Organizer)
Tuesday, May 30 -- The next Education Committee Meeting is May 30th at 6:30 p.m., location TBD.
Wednesday, May 31 – Busboys book talk on the struggle of Syriza, the Greek left party, in the EU austerity regime. 6:30 p.m., with Metro DCDSA as a co-sponsor. The rise and fall of Syriza has important lessons for the left everywhere. Please join a discussion with Helena Sheehan, author of THE SYRIZA WAVE Surging and Crashing with the Greek Left -- INTRODUCTION BY Medea Benjamin Co-Founder of CODEPINK at Busboys and Poets -- 2021 14th St NW, Washington, DC. The event is sponsored by Busboys and Poets and co-sponsored by CODEPINK, the Campaign for Peace and Democracy, Jacobin, and Metro DC DSA.
Wednesday, May 31 DSA Happy Hour 6:30 p.m. -- The Big Hunt 1345 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC (map) Join us as we relax and enjoy some brews with our brothers and sisters of DC DSA. No agenda, no schedule, no topic, just some good conversation and beer. Learn more This Meetup typically repeats on the last Wednesday of every month
Saturday, June 3 The next Racial Justice Committee meeting is Saturday, June 3rd at 1:30pm, location TBD
Sunday, June 4 Socialist Book Group Discussion 3:00 p.m. National Portrait Gallery Kogod Courtyard 8th St NW & F St NW, Washington, DC (map) Join us for a discussion of On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City by Alice Goffman "Alice Goffman's On the Run is the best treatment I know of the wretched... Learn more Hosted by: Jessie (Co-Organizer), and Lynne Williamson (Co-Organizer)
Saturday, June 10 DC’s Hidden Radical History: A Walking and Transit Tour. 10:00 a.m. Connecticut Ave & Dupont Circle 19th Street Northwest, Washington, DC (map) Note that this event is waitlisted. Join longtime DC DSA member Bill Mosley for a three-hour tour of the District’s little-known places of radical... Learn more Hosted by: Jose A Gutierrez (Co-Chair)
For more info on allied events consult the invaluable Peace Center Activist Alert Calendar http://washingtonpeacecenter.org/alerts
Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America | Email us
Our mailing address is:
1301 Connecticut Ave. NW Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036
What's On This Week
Steering Committee Election Results:
The following seven members were elected to the 2017-18 Metro DC DSA Steering Committee by 130 members who cast ballots at our May 7 general membership meeting..
Feature Article: The climate march, DSA’s climate panel and the aftermath
Metro DC DSA and visiting national DSA members marched in the April 29 People’s Climate March. The evening before, Metro DC DSA mounted an authoritative panel of discussants on how a radical climate agenda can be forwarded. Andy Feeney recounts both events.
Three Maryland counties are moving the needle on public funding of elections.
This week, activists in Prince George’s County testified at a County Council public hearing on the 2018 budget, demanding the inclusion of significant funding for a public finance pilot program. Progressive Maryland and Our Revolution members collaborated on the demand, which also included a future legislative measure, Small Donor Funded Election System plan, to help get big money out of the county’s sclerotic electoral process. The looming inclusion of two at-large Council seats in the 2018 election – which would raise the stakes and the cost because of countywide campaign needs – sharpened the need. Montgomery County already has a similar public financing system but the County Executive is under the gun for underfunding it and Progressive Maryland activists are pushing the Council to fund it fully. Howard County councilmembers will vote soon to finalize and fund a measure that was passed by referendum in November, with activists pushing them on. A statewide public funding bill debuted in Annapolis this legislative session but failed to get across the finish line.
-- Woody Woodruff
Metro DC DSA had fast response to ACHA passage in House
When the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act on May 4th, Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America sprang to action, quickly organizing a protest outside of the Capitol for that day at 5 o'clock. About thirty persons gathered by the east side steps, led by Democratic Socialist organizers in chants, "U.S. healthcare is a lie, they don't care if people die" and the calls "when healthcare is under attack", "when reproductive rights are under attack", with response, "stand up, fight back." Capitol police required the protesters to move to the grassy area in front of the House's side of the Capitol. Yet that only brought the protesters closer to a group that had queued to enter the House, ostensibly to celebrate the vote. The signs declaring, "Medicine for profit is a crime against humanity", and the spirited chants of "Medicare for all", caused the entry of the celebrators to be expedited.
Because an unorganized socialist is a contradiction in terms, Brian Wivell called for a meeting on the spot to plan next steps, allowing interested DSA members to get involved with the "Medicare for All" town hall working group, and a working group, formed on the spot, to organize responses to the progression of the AHCA. Get involved, contact Aaron Marks at Thorapm@gmail.com for the town hall working group, and Harry Baker at John.Harding.Baker@gmail.com for the anti-AHCA working group.
Day-Long Candidate Pipeline Workshop in MoCo
While our local was electing a new steering committee last Sunday, a day-long activist workshop for developing alternative candidate pipelines in Maryland was underway in Silver Spring. For Maryland comrades who wondered what they missed, MoCo progressive activist and regular Progressive Maryland blogger Hal Ginsberg provided this rundown.
Metro DC DSA rep reports on opportunities to work with SURJ
I had a great meeting with a representative from SURJ's Education Team, and I would like to give you all a few updates on upcoming opportunities to work with SURJ (Standing Up for Racial Justice) in the near future.
Recently, in response to criticism, SURJ underwent a major reorganization to promote accountability within the organization. Part of this change is that the Facilitation Team, of which I was a member, has, along with several other teams, been combined into a new Education Team. This new structure is intended to make SURJ more effective and more accountable in its actions.
SURJ will be doing Deep Canvassing this summer, with date(s) in June TBD. Participants in this action will go out to rural neighborhoods in Northern Virginia and go door to door talking about Racial Justice issues. SURJ provides a quick training course for everyone who attends these, so all you need to do is bring yourself! I'll make sure to provide further information to the group as I learn more.
There is also a second round of Reading Groups starting in July. These are small group sessions that introduce members to the meaning of structural racism and its role in maintaining and exacerbating inequality in the US. I am unsure at this time, but I expect that the next round of reading groups will also include a "201" curriculum, which is designed to expand on what the 101 curriculum provides.
The best way to learn more about these and other events in the future is to join SURJ's email list! You can easily join at SURJ DC's website.
In early June I will be attending the next Education Team meeting and will hopefully have more concrete information on how DSA can get involved.
Economic Justice Committee Report
Two great campaigns, spearheaded by MDCDSAers in Environmental and Racial Justice committees, are taking off in the next two weeks: DCReInvest and Tenants Rights Canvassing. I went to the last DCReinvest meeting with a lot of other MDCDSAers and it was great. Tenants Rights Canvassing in Anacostia is exactly what we need to be doing, so I hope to run into many of you on that Racial Justice campaign.
There's a lot of great work to tap into on healthcare; contact Aaron (Thorapm@gmail.com) for working on a town hall for Medicare for All, and Harry for work on responding to AHCA as it moves through the legislative process (John.Harding.Baker@gmail.com).
Lots to do this week on the DC FY18 Budget and Paid Family Leave. Hit me up at 240-505-9426 / Austin.email@example.com per these points. If you can, come to final public committee hearing on the budget this Friday 5/12 at the John Wilson building, and TESTIFY that you want the tax surplus to be used for more affordable housing, better schools and stronger worker protections, not tax cuts for businesses. Seriously, come testify, it is welcomed, connect with Monica Monica@fairbudget.org from Fair Budget Coalition , who is arranging testimony, or ask me to arrange it with her and I will gladly.
THE COMING WEEK’S CALENDAR (MAY 12-18) <> MORE INFORMATION VIA LINKS TO MEETUP.
Friday 5/12: FAIR BUDGET Testimony and Action: Fair Budget Coalition is working on packing the room for the COW Hearing. RSVP here to sign up to testify or just come by and help pack the room. Contact Monica@fairbudget.org John Wilson Building. 1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW.
Friday 5/12 Punk Rock Karaoke for J20 Defense at the Black Cat
Saturday 5/13: Tenant Town Hall: "Join us in the fight for tenants rights and affordable housing! [...] Get a free legal consult or visit tables of DC government agencies and other organizations that support tenants. Tenant Priorities 2017: DC officials will hear our priorities and will be asked to respond." Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: All Souls Church, 1500 Harvard St NW.
Saturday 5/13 Labor Night at DC United 7 p.m. Hang out with our labor allies as DC United takes on Philadelphia.
Tuesday 5/16: Health Care Working Group Meeting: "We will be planning advocacy around single payer and a Health Care Town Hall." 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. DSA office, 6th fl.,1301 Connecticut Avenue NW. (Dupont Circle Metro)
Tuesday 5/16: East of the River Schools Matter, Rally and March: "East of the River parents, students, teachers, community members, etc. rally for equity with public school funding. Say yes to 3.5% per-pupil increase!" 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm : Ballou Senior High School
MAY EVENTS IN COMING WEEKS
Saturday 5/20: Economic Justice Committee meeting: political education session to be announced. Organizing sub-committee elections. Working groups will present updates. 2 pm to 4 pm: Mt. Pleasant Library. 3160 16th Street NW
Sunday 5/21 Metro DC DSA Communications Committee 1-2:30 p.m., Mt. Pleasant Library
Sunday 5/21 Metro DC DSA Climate Change and Environmental Justice Committee, 2 p.m., Georgetown Neighborhood Library
Sunday, 5/21 Socialist Feminist Reading Group, 4 p.m., Kogod Courtyard at National Portrait Gallery
Tuesday, 5/23 Socialist Feminist Committee meets, 6:30 p.m., DSA office, 6th Fl. 1301 Connecticut Ave. NW
Sunday, 5/28 Intro to DSA: Socialism 101, 1:30 p.m., Petworth Neighborhood Library
Wednesday 5/31 MDCDSA Happy Hour, 6:30 p.m., The Big Hunt, 1345 Connecticut Ave. NW
AND COMING UP IN JUNE:
Sunday 6/4 Socialist Book Group Discussion, 3 p.m. at Kogod Courtyard, National Portrait Gallery
Saturday, 6/10 DC’s Hidden Radical History: A Walking and Transit Tour. 10 a.m. at Dupont Circle Metro station, south entrance.
For more info on allied events consult the invaluable Peace Center Activist Alert Calendar http://washingtonpeacecenter.org/alerts
The Washington Socialist Weekly Update <> May 12, 2017
By Andy Feeney
Yet how the world can respond to climate crisis, with Republicans controlling the U.S. Congress and Trump in the White House, is a question on which the U.S. left, and the environmental movement as well, have reached little agreement. Progressive responses to climate change instead are marked by multiple contradictions. Many of these were on public display on April 29 when an estimated 150,000 – 200,000 people, representing some 900 different organizations, participated in the People’s Climate March (PCM) in Washington.
Participants ranged from freelancers with placards like “There is no Planet B” and traditional environmental organizations to many left organizations like the CPUSA, SWP, PSL and various RCP front groups.
DSA organized a vigorous contingent of some 80 to 100 marchers, thanks in large part to the hard work of Brian Doyle, co-leader of our chapter’s Climate Change and Environmental Justice Committee (CC&EJC) and other CC&EJC comrades. Also building the event were David Duhalde of the national staff, members of our chapter’s Events and Logistics Committee, and designers and distributors of signs and swag from Metro DC DSA’s talented Communications Committee.
DSA members arriving from New York and New Jersey, among other states, joined local DSA members for the event. DSA’s signs proclaimed, alternatively, “Change the System, Not the Climate,” “Socialize, Not Privatize,” “This planet is for everyone,” and “Demand Climate Justice.” A number of non-DSA members disembarking from Union Station, before the march began, asked us if we could share extra signs with them.
In short, the PCM was strikingly diverse, exactly as organizers had wanted. But because of this diversity, it was clear the event did not end with general agreement on any common strategy that all participants can pursue after the march ended.
Jacquelyn Smith, a co-leader of the Climate Change & Environmental Justice Committee, recruited the speakers at the panel discussion and organized the event with expert help from Metro DC DSA’s Communications and Events & Logistics committees, notably including Jim McGee and Franklin Roberts. Panelists at the event included economist Gar Alperovitz, NAACP state (Indiana) environmental staffer Denise Abdul-Rahman, UMD anthropologist Shirley Fiske, psychologist Margaret Klein Salamon, and D.C. social activist and PSL member Eugene Puryear.
[Full information on panelists is at the end of this article]
Sam Knight, a new DSA member and a District-based journalist who is the cofounder of the District Sentinel News Co-Op, served as moderator for the panel. A lively discussion followed.
Margaret Klein Salamon, a clinical psychologist who founded The Climate Mobilization shortly following the big 2014 People’s Climate March in New York City, has stated in previous writings that countless Americans are in denial about the gravity and urgency of the climate crisis, and that most of us pay a heavy psychological price for our repression of what we fundamentally know to be true.
“The main obstacle we face in dealing with climate change is climate change itself,” on the grounds that the huge scope of the problem fosters “prevarications and euphemisms” and other distorted forms of communication, even among activists working to shift public discourse on the climate. “We are already in climate crisis,” Salamon said. “So why are the vast majority of people in the U.S., including many on the left, acting as if we’re still basically in normal times?”
In order to avoid unduly frightening people, Salamon continued, too many climate activists offer half-measures to combat the problem, one example being a so-called “100 by 50” bill recently introduced by senators Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley, and Ed Markey that would commit the U.S. to achieving complete reliance on renewable energy by 2050.
The bill is has good features, Salamon said, “but it also means that we will keep burning fossil fuels for another 35 years.” As an alternative, Salamon voiced support for TCM’s plan for a crash U.S. government program of war-footing scope that could resolve one problem that moderator Sam Knight posed to the panelists: how to ensure a “just transition” to a green future and resolve conflicts between the environmental movement and organized labor over the elimination of fossil fuels. During the mobilization for World War II, Salamon stated, the U.S. essentially achieved full employment.
Expressing a significantly different view of the green economy and how to build it, Denise Abdul-Rahman of the Indiana NAACP stated that one crucial way in which capitalism blocks the emergence of a greener society is via “the continuation of a false narrative that puts profits before people,” coupled with the low wages, poverty and political disempowerment that the system currently generates, particularly among many communities of color.
Abdul-Rahman, a delegate to the conference that drew up the Paris Agreements in Indiana, organized a Just Energy Campaign reducing coal-fired generation of electricity and successfully fighting pre-emptive legislation disadvantaging rooftop solar.
In Indiana, Abdul-Rahman said, people of color live in a “hyper-conservative state, and the obstacles to a green economy include all the policies of that state.” A green economy would need to be based on social justice and the idea of putting people first, before profits. And given the demographic change that is now well underway in the United States, advocates for a green economy need to engage with people of color and residents of Latino communities. “You can’t just decide to do it, without consultation and engagement. To begin with, the conversation has to involve people who look like me.”
One element of such a framework would include the promotion of community-based and community-owned cooperatives, such as the “Cooperation Jackson” enterprise that the late Choke Lumumba, a radical black nationalist and mayor of Jackson, MS, helped to launch in that city, Abdul-Rahman said. “What would it look like for returning citizens if they could receive free training in solar rooftop installation? That’s part of the just transition that I’ve been working on in our communities.”
Gar Alperovitz, a cofounder of the Next System Project stated in the panel discussion what he has previously stated in books such as America After Capitalism and What Then Must We Do? Corporate capitalism in the U.S. is currently in a potentially terminal state of crisis, Alperovitz asserted. One key obstacle to building a green economy as a solution to that crisis is “us” –that is, members of the political left who have not yet formulated a coherent vision of a better system that can win widespread popular support and political acceptance.
As Alperovitz sees the issue, U.S. capitalism resolved its recurring crises throughout the 19th century largely through expansion along the western frontier and, in the 20th century, by military Keynesianism -- the allocation of excess investment capital, labor and economic output to the Pentagon and the military industrial complex. Both forms of deferring crisis are now exhausted, he said. In short, Alperovitz argued, “We’re running out of land, and we’re running out of war, as effective stimulants for capitalism.” The system therefore is facing protracted crisis, creating an era that Alperovitz believes is the most transformative in all of previous U.S. history. Alperovitz in his remarks argued – as he has for many years – for a massive development of community-based, worker-owned cooperatives and similar alternative enterprises as the core of a new system that can serve as an alternative both to corporate capitalism and to state socialism. But in the panel discussion, he argued that democratic socialists should push for the nationalization of the large oil companies – potentially a very centralized step – as a route toward fixing climate crisis.
Though the critical path to bank nationalization was available in the financial collapse of 2008, he said, the Left was unready to advocate, and therefore the public to accept, that move. Today, Alperovitz argued, the government should be prevailed on to cure the climate crisis by a government buyout of the fossil fuel industry Alperovitz said, and “of all people,” democratic socialists should vigorously promote the idea. He noted that the alternative of tougher regulation would be captured by the companies, as always.
Partly challenging Alperovitz’s presentation, panelist Eugene Puryear stated that while alternative visions of the future are important, a potentially bigger obstacle to a green economy is “politics,” the problem that “we don’t have the right people making the decisions.” In part this is due to divisions within the working class that have kept working people from exercising power, suggested Puryear, a D.C. social activist and member of the Party of Socialism and Liberation.
To create a green economy, Puryear added, “We need to grapple with the nature of the State.” The U.S. Constitution adopted by an elite group of white slaveholders in 1789, Puryear noted, had not protected minorities from enslavement, Jim Crow oppression and worse, nor prevented repression of Left activists at various critical points in the nation’s history.
Advocates for a green and socially just economy need to recognize that the repressive power of the political state may one day be used against us, Puryear suggested. As for Alperovitz’s idea of using government-created money to buy out the fossil fuel companies, Puryear said, he looked on oil company executives not as “businessmen, but as criminals.” He added: “We shouldn’t be buying them out. They should be jailed.”
In a follow-up exchange, Alperovitz suggested that Puryear was essentially talking about violent revolution, “and this is not a question to take lightly.” However, Alperovitz agreed that “If we’re talking about democratic socialism, constitutional change is essential.” In a reply to Alperovitz, Puryear suggested that the climate change movement will not necessarily escape from future government repression simply because it pursues peaceful and democratic strategies, if the biggest corporations begin to feel too threatened.
Apart from the question of buying up fossil fuel assets, Puryear noted Bernie Sanders’s support in West Virginia and elsewhere among working people who ended up voting for Trump, “not just because Sanders is ‘white,’ but more basically because he has called for raising taxes on Wall Street and using the money to provide coal miners and other West Virginians with free health care and free college tuition.” Successful campaigns to reach even workers in fossil fuel-related jobs might be based on this recognition.
Panel member Shirley Fiske, a University of Maryland anthropologist, in 2012 submitted a report to the AAA, “Why Climate Matters,” in which she noted that the negative effects of climate change are falling hardest on those members of the human community who have done the least to create the problem, and who are perhaps least equipped to cope with it including low-income, politically disempowered communities even in the United States.
Fiske has noted that in 2014, political gridlock and widespread confusion about the issue in the United States were frustrating action on climate change. And a report she participated in summarized:
“Existing top-down programs do not treat the social and economic variables that underpin vulnerability to climate change – poverty, marginalization, lack of education and information, and loss of control over resources. Unless these factors are taken into consideration, efforts to build resilience and reduce vulnerability globally are likely to fall short.”
In her presentation to DSA’s panel discussion, Fiske expressed “no doubt that capitalism and economic growth are driving climate change all over the world.” Also contributing to the problem, Fiske stated, have been the historic rise of the nation state, the Industrial Revolution of several centuries past and the growth of extractive corporations, “whether they are in China or here[AF1] .” and, as well, the massive displacement of traditional peoples by infrastructure excess such as dam projects and the conversion of communally controlled lands into deeded private property.
Fiske largely called for locally based, community-controlled efforts to address the crisis. “Today is a time to be talking about taking local control [over resources],” Fiske said. joining all the panelists except for Salamon in explicitly promoting locally based, worker-owned enterprises and other cooperative ventures as vehicles for progress.
More than 150 people, including more than 50 local members and supporters of Metro DC DSA, attended the panel discussion. At least two dozen audience members also attended a DSA open house after the event at the Institute for Policy Studies office on Connecticut Avenue.
A video recording of the panel discussion is now available at DSA’s Facebook site. To access it, click on https://m.facebook.com/events/1635564506747020/ .
Full introductions of the panelists are here:
Welcome to a new-look Washington Socialist for May 2017To our nearly 1,300 readers (well, 1,270 but we prefer to round up) who have been receiving Weekly Updates throughout April – definitely a new wrinkle in our communication scheme – yes, this is the monthly newsletter, the Washington Socialist.
NOTE BELOW ANNOUNCEMENT OF CANDIDATES
IN STEERING COMMITTEE ELECTION OF MAY 7.
You’ll see here new articles and some of the articles that you have already seen in the Weekly Updates as well, sometimes updated still again. Despite the relatively rapid-fire appearance of the updates, the monthly newsletter aims to refocus and stabilize the discussion and put both our immediate and our long-term perspectives in context – with one another, we hope.
The occasion of upping our frequency with the Weekly Updates, it is doubtless clear to you, is that the frequency of events and outrages and the frequency of our response have accelerated as well. In April, the DSA local in Washington, D.C. turned out for worker protests and support, mounted a thorough afternoon-long exploration of our socialist work on antiracist and anti-immigrant issues “Connecting Race and the Socialist Resistance,” participated in the Tax Day protest, filled seats for the YDS debate versus a right-wing student group at Georgetown, prefaced the huge People’s Climate March with a panel on the socialist vision of “Building a Green Economy” – and followed up the next day with a forest of red flags in the midst of the Climate March, a significant socialist presence. And just yesterday (May Day) we turned out for International Workers’ Day action in specific support of frontline immigrant communities, notwithstanding the president’s spurious declaration of May 1 as “Loyalty Day.”
The action in our committees, organic praxis formations that sprang up as fast as we grew this year, ranged from picket-line support to Anacostia River cleanup; supporting ReInvest DC’s efforts to divest from socially harmful investments to participating in development of a People’s Budget for the District.
This kind of manifest struggle has become our new trademark as we have become more an activist organization than ever. The flip side has been the continuing focus on keeping all of our work conceptualized within the broad, rich and human socialist framework that is uniquely Democratic Socialists of America’s – yes, brand.
Keeping that activism tracking with socialist principle and analysis continues to be the mission of the monthly Washington Socialist. We’ll just be taking advantage of the opportunity to bring things to your attention in a more timely fashion, too.
This great new look for the Washington Socialist is thanks to a design working group on the local's Communication Committee.
STEERING COMMITTEE ELECTIONS
Sun. | 5/7 | 3:30pm | Friends Meeting House
A broadened and strengthened leadership for the Metro DC DSA local begins May 7 with election of an enlarged 7-member Steering Committee.
The following members are candidates:
Candidate statements will follow in a separate message. All paid-up members of Democratic Socialists of America are eligible to vote in this election.
VIEW ELECTION DETAILS
RECAP: YDS v TPUSA DEBATE
Wed. | 4/27
Watch the full video from last week's debate between Ryan Mosgrove from YDS and Charlie Kirk from Turning Point USA!
RECAP: GREEN ECONOMY PANEL
Thu. | 4/27
Watch the full video from last week's panel discussion on the intersections of economic and environmental justice!
RECAP: PEOPLE'S CLIMATE MARCH
Sat. | 4/29
Metro DC and neighboring DSA chapters had a great presence at the People's Climate March!
METRO DC DSA EVENTS
Sat. | 5/6 | 12:30pm | Petworth Library
This meeting will have updates about baby boxes and CPC campaigns, as well as a Bowl-a-Thon fundraising for DCAF and our reading group.
READ MORE & RSVP
RACIAL JUSTICE AND ANTI-BIGOTRY COMMITTEE
Sat 5/ 6 2 p.m.1616 P Street NW, Suite 150
Washington, DC (map) Survey responses, housing issues, more Details and RSVP:
MONTHLY MEMBERSHIP MEETING
Sun. | 5/7 | 3:30pm | Friends Meeting House
Primary agenda item:Steering Committee Elections (see above)
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LABOR NIGHT AT DC UNITED
Sat. | 5/13 | 7pm | RFK Stadium | $20
Hang out with Metro DC DSA and our allies in labor while watching DC United take on the Philadelphia Union!
READ MORE & BUY TICKETS
SOCIALIST SALON: RACIAL JUSTICE AND GENTRIFICATION
Thu. | 5/18 | 6:30pm | Location TBD
Attend the next salon, which will focus on organizing to defend threatened immigrant and African American communities in Metro DC.
CHECK FOR UPDATE
ECONOMIC JUSTICE COMMITTEE
Sat. | 5/20 | 2pm | Mt. Pleasant Library
Visit the DC DSA website to learn more about this committee
CHECK FOR UPDATES
Sun. | 5/21 | 1pm | Mt. Pleasant Library
Visit the DC DSA website to learn more about this committee
CHECK FOR UPDATES
Wed. | 5/31 | 6:30pm | The Big Hunt
Relax and enjoy some brews with your
DSA brothers and sisters!
SOCIALIST BOOK GROUP DISCUSSION
Sun. | 6/4 | 3pm | NPG Kogod Courtyard
Discussion of On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City by Alice Goffman
READ MORE AND RSVP
WASHINGTON SOCIALIST ARTICLES
METRO DC DSA'S COMMITTEES RACK UP A BUSY APRIL
Read detailed reports on the work of DC DSA's action committees...
PEOPLE'S BUDGET MOVEMENT DEVELOPS A CHALLENGE DOCUMENT FOR D.C.
A group based in struggling working families where they live is mobilzing to push D.C.'s government to write a budget that benefits people, not developers and the wealthy...
DC REINVEST PRESSURES CITY ON INVESTMENT POLICY
A new organization mobilizes to push the city to invest in its own communities, not the lucrative but harmful investments (such as Wells Fargo) it currently holds.
TRANSIT AS A CORE OF COMMUNITY SUCCESS
A public forum identifies the major role of transit for good or ill in the success of communties. The region's deepening inequality in jobs and housing adds to the argument for a Metro funding solution...
CARBON FEES/TAXES DEBATED IN METRO DC DSA CLIMATE COMMITTEE MEETING
Carbon taxes, which some are arguing could get bipartisan support (as "fees") in a polarized environment, are not every environmentalist's cuppa. The local's Climate Committee hosted a debate.
DC LABORFEST FILLS UP THE MAY CALENDAR
DC LaborFest, of which Metro DC DSA is a supporter, floods your May calendar with movies, music and events...
GOINGS ON: TALK, THEATER, MUSIC AND MORE
Union struggle and George Bernard Shaw on the stage; history of oppression and struggle in neighborhoods we know -- stay current with culture.
INSIDE, OUTSIDE: COMMUNICATING OUR SOCIALISM
How do we manage our talk about our socialism inside the organization and outside it, and what contradictions to we have to deal with?
For those of you who never miss an important online article of interest to the left -- GOOD READS is not for you. For the rest of us? Come along...
CONTRIBUTE AN ARTICLE
The Washington Socialist <> May 2017
By Sam Knight and Lynne Williamson
RACIAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE
The first few months of the Trump administration have injected additional urgency into this year's May Day commemorations.
Republican attacks on immigrants and Muslims, and the party's anti-labor agenda are giving organizers extra motivation to agitate for this year's International Workers Day.
Signs have been up for weeks all over Washington, in English and Spanish, encouraging city residents to walk off the job on May 1, to join in demonstrations.
The Racial Justice Committee has been doing work with like-minded groups to help promote demonstrations. The committee is spearheading local DSA work on the DC May Day Steering committee, organizing alongside Many Languages One Voice (MLOV) and CASA.
Committee members have been preparing for the event, in part, by raising money to promote the call to action and by canvassing businesses. Part of the steering committee's work has involved outreach to encourage worker participation without fear of retaliation.
Demonstrations are slated to begin at Lamont Park, in Mt. Pleasant, at noon. From there, organizers have planned to march first to Columbia Heights, then to Malcolm X Park. The protest will eventually end up outside the White House.
The campaign to withdraw city assets from Wells Fargo over its dirty energy portfolio is stepping up early next month.
Activists from the DC ReInvest Coalition are putting out a call to “Pack the Room” at a DC City Council Finance Committee hearing on May 4.
The chair of the panel, Council Member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), refuses to consider divestment legislation, even though six of his colleagues support such a proposal. There are only 13 members on the DC City Council.
The Environmental Justice Committee, which is part of the ReInvest Coalition, is encouraging local DSA members to attend the demonstration.
The Events and Logisitics and the Economic Justice Committee are also helping with the divestment campaign. Wells has made headlines in recent months both for supporting the Dakota Access Pipeline and for selling millions of products to customers who never requested them.
Wells has also invested in private prisons and been caught engaging in racist lending practices. The city invests $2 billion with the bank, according to organizers.
SOCIALIST FEMINIST COMMITTEE
A woman facing an unplanned pregnancy needs and deserves medically-accurate information and guidance on her options at a full-service women’s health center. That is not, however, what is available to many women in Washington, DC.
There are two Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) in DC, where staffers are employed to mislead, shame and dissuade women from obtaining abortions. These clinics use false advertising to lure vulnerable women into an anti-choice environment.
The Socialist Feminist Committee has begun a campaign to call attention to their existence, expose how they operate and how they misrepresent themselves. The panel plans on investigating how to create informational campaigns and ways to counter the CPC advertising.
Members are currently preparing to research anti-CPC actions in other cities and to contact chapters of local pro-choice organizations for strategies.
* * * As part of the committee's continuing goal of fostering education on socialist feminism, members have formed a reading group. The first readings are two essays from the book “Women: Class and the Feminist Imagination.”
ECONOMIC JUSTICE COMMITTEE
Mayor Muriel Bowser released her annual budget proposal earlier this month to widespread criticism from labor and social advocates.
Analysts on the left said the Mayor is ignoring wide swaths of the city, pointing to low levels of funding for worker protections, child care, housing, healthcare and medical services.
The Economic Justice Committee served as Metro DC DSA's contingent at a symposium held to discuss Bowser's proposals.
The DC People's Budget Forum, which was earlier this month, hosted job and worker protection training sessions. Organizers also collected food donations for those in need.
* * *
Good incremental news on the continuing fight for a $15 minimum wage: Dulles and National airport workers will see an hourly pay bump of $4 in January 2018 to $11.55.
Minimum airport wages will eventually rise to $12.75 by 2020. Workers at these two travel hubs are currently receiving as low as $7.25 per hour.
* * *
Non-union federal employees have been discussing organizing options under the new administration.
Committee members are investigating the possibility of setting up a space where employees from different agencies and postal workers could come together to talk and organize.
Information on all of Metro DC DSA's committees and contact information are at http://www.dsadc.org/join-our-committees.html
The Washington Socialist <> May 2017
By Alex Banks
The city of Washington, DC invests $2 billion in Wells Fargo, which supports dirty pipelines (like Dakota Access), private prisons, and racist, predatory lending practices. The solution: push the city toward full divestment. Tuesday evening (April 13) at the Southwest Library, the newly formed coalition known as DC ReInvest gathered for a public mass meeting. DC DSA was well accounted for with seven of our comrades present along with representatives from most of the other six founding organizations: 350 DC, Rising Hearts, SURJ DC, Socialist Alternative and DC Fights Back.
Led by SA's Sarko Sarkodie, the meeting welcomed newcomers to the campaign, which in the short term aims to have DC (as well as individuals) cut ties with Wells Fargo while seeing the District reinvest back into its communities over the long haul.
So far the campaign has had some typical highs: getting 6 out of 13 of the DC Council to endorse our proposal of divestment; and lows: being stonewalled by Council Financial Committee chair Jack Evans (Ward 2) thus putting a hold on the proposal moving forward. The meeting ran for about an hour and a half with plenty of audience participation. I invite members to join this effort and am happy to try to answer any further questions.
Overall, it was a very inviting and informative affair with plenty of valuable knowledge offered. If anybody is interested in any upcoming events, check out the DCReInvest Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DCReInvest/?ref=br_rs
as well as their Twitter page: https://twitter.com/DCReInvest
This article first appeared in our Weekly Update for April 21.
The Washington Socialist <> May 2017
By Kurt Stand
The week between the March for Science on April 22 and the People’s Climate March on April 29, “Science for the People” organized a series of forums and discussions throughout Washington DC to heighten awareness of the connection between climate justice and social justice. Community Lens: Public Transit was amongst these highlighting the fact that transportation is an environmental concern -- for enabling people to move around from place to place without dependence on cars has an impact on the air we breathe, on the carbon emissions causing global warming. A rapid transit/bus oriented development as distinct from urban sprawl is also an urban planning concern -- for how we get around within an urban/suburban environment is not only a question of transportation but also a matter of housing and jobs, a matter of recreation and shopping venues. Which is another way of saying transportation impacts us as workers, as riders, as community members; that how transportation is organized reflects and reinforces class divides and patterns of racial discrimination.
All of these issues were addressed at the April 25 Community Lens: Public Transit panel held at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Church, which examined the crisis facing our Metro system and the impact of WMATA proposals which seek to “solve” the problem on the backs of transit workers and riders in a manner that will strengthen gentrification and ultimately only lead to further dependence on cars. Speaking to these concerns were four panelists: Zuri Teshiera, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689; Ben Ross, Action Committee for Transit; Claudia Barragan, Environmental Justice Committee, DC Sierra Club; David Schwartzman: DC Statehood Green Party (and the DSA Environmental Justice Committee among other organizations) who brought their respective areas of expertise into an exploration of Metro’s problems and on how to organize for an alternative -- a public transportation system that is safe, reliable, affordable, and reduces the impact of climate change.
One key step in that direction is a call for dedicated funding, with that funding (unlike in proposals by WMATA and business-friendly representatives) based on a form of progressive taxation. While the nature of that taxation can take several forms, as per various suggestions by panelists, they rejected the notion that our local governments can’t find the funds to maintain let alone improve Metro. Such claims ignore tax giveaways to business interests and developers and ignore the truth that money is generally found for highway construction often at a cost much greater than the need served. Yet the unmet need for more public transit, transit that addresses the massive displacement caused by gentrification, has grown.
Cuts in bus service and increased Metro fares, alongside the system’s unreliability, have turned many to solutions that compound the problem. This is evident in the growth of Uber and other auto-based transit which increases costs, both environmental and social. And bike lanes (which are environmentally friendly) nevertheless do not address the needs of families, of the elderly, of the very young, of the disabled, of those who work at odd hours or long distances. Both Uber and bikes represent private answers to social needs -- and so each also ignores the need of workers. Contrary to WMATA’s proposals, transit workers are not to blame for the system’s failure and should not be sacrificed in the name of solvency. Union members have negotiated the benefits they have and work to make the system safe and reliable. ATU Local 689 is putting forward proposals to rebuild Metro based on a community of interests between workers and riders. The attack on transit workers and the lack of any vision or program of an expanded, affordable transit system are aspects of class warfare amongst working people that is the other side of unbridled, unproductive growth that is destroying our environment.
The panel was moderated by Sigute Meilus, executive director of Americans for Transit -- a labor-supported non-profit that will take up these issues by organizing riders and community members to work with unionists on behalf of a system that meets the needs of people throughout our region as opposed to those who seek cutbacks and privatization that will benefit the wealthy at the expense of all. The panel discussion was a further step in a campaign that will only become stronger in the months ahead.
The Washington Socialist <> May 2017
By Andy Feeney
For the last month, the DC-DSA Climate Change & Environmental Justice Committee (CC&EJC) has focused roughly half of our collective energy on promoting the April 29 People’s Climate March. Approximately another half has gone into organizing an April 28 panel discussion among prominent researchers and political activists on how to build a socially just and environmentally sustainable economy.
Our last full committee meeting back in March, however, featured a debate that has been underway on the left and among environmentalists for the last several years, over the pros and cons of a “carbon fee and rebate” system to fight climate change.
Speaking in favor of a carbon fee and rebate plan at our March 26 meeting at Gordon Biersch Restaurant near Gallery Place was Max Broad of the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL). Speaking against the idea was Mike Ewall, founder and director of the Energy Justice Network (EJN), an organization that seeks to help local communities fight against the siting and operation of dirty energy facilities and other environmentally polluting facilities on a site-by-site basis.
CCL, for which Broad spoke in the debate, is a rapidly growing nationwide organization seeking to mobilize individual Americans to advocate for climate-friendly policies. The organization’s board of advisors includes, among other prominent people, outspoken climate researcher Dr. James Hansen, former Reagan administration Secretary of State George Schultz (who now heads up a task force on energy policy at the conservative Hoover Institution), noted oceanographer and author Dr. Sylvia Earle, actor and philanthropist Don Cheadle, and former Obama administration officials Dr. Steven Chu (who served Obama as Secretary of Energy) and David W. Titley, who in 2012-2013 was NOAA’s chief operating officer.
CCL’s web site states that nonpartisanship is one of its key organizational values, and in his presentation to DSA members Broad argued in favor of the carbon fee and rebate system primarily on the grounds that it gives Republicans in Congress an opportunity to acknowledge the existence of global climate change and advocate for policies to address it, without destroying their careers by doing so.
Under the “carbon fee” proposal that CCL is promoting, Broad said – it’s important to call it a “fee” instead of a “tax,” given the loathing many Republican conservatives express for anything involving taxes – the government would impose a charge on carbon-based fuels for every ton of CO2 or CO2 equivalent these fuels generate. The money collected would then be rebated entirely, or virtually entirely, to Americans on a per-capita basis.
In effect, the rebates would insure that lower-income people, who would pay the largest fraction of their incomes for more costly gasoline and electricity, would receive more money from the fee-and-rebate system than they put in, making the scheme economically progressive and socially equitable.
Yet what potentially makes the idea attractive to conservatives, Broad indicated, is the fact the system, by making carbon-based fuels more expensive relative to renewable energy sources, might bring about CO2 reductions largely through market mechanisms, and without the need for a Big Government bureaucracy. The fact that the plan is designed to be revenue-neutral overall also may help to meet traditional Republican objections to “tax-and-spend liberalism.”
The idea of reducing national emissions of greenhouse gases through a carbon fee is one that both conservative and liberal economists have largely agreed on. This increases the probability that a bipartisan congressional majority might be formed to get a fee-and-rebate proposal enacted into law. But the main merit of the plan, Broad suggested, is that it gives Republican lawmakers an opportunity to “come out” on climate change as an issue.
A few years ago, Broad noted, a Republican representative from North Carolina, Rep. Bob Ingliss, dared to support the idea of tackling climate change and was easily defeated by a more orthodox conservative in the next Republican primary. But in recent years, by approaching the issue via the idea of carbon fees, several Republicans have been able to join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, without being removed through primary challenges.
In order to make progress on the climate issue, Broad noted, CCL is trying to recruit both Republicans and Democrats to join the Climate Solutions Caucus in the U.S House of Representatives, with each new member from one of the major parties having to be matched with a new member from the opposing party. The goal is to ensure that as the caucus continues to grow in membership, it will serve as the seed of an expanding bipartisan consensus on climate change, ending the partisan gridlock that at present dooms effective legislation on the problem, especially given Republican control over both houses of Congress.
At the end of the debate, Broad distributed copies of a petition that he urged DSA members to send to our local representatives in DC, Maryland and Virginia, urging them to join the Climate Solutions Caucus and stating, “We hope this equal balance of Republicans and Democrats will allow the caucus to forge effective solutions that will help protect our planet.”
In his argument against the carbon fee and rebate system, Mike Ewall argued that the immediate adoption of carbon taxes and/or fees, particularly at the federal level, would be a mistake for several reasons.
First, Ewall stated, the use of a market mechanism such as a carbon tax to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is an overly blunt instrument for getting at the sources of climate change. There is a risk that by raising the market price of carbon, a carbon tax and/or fee would not only make renewable energy sources such as wind power and solar energy more attractive to consumers and business owners; it also would favor energy from nuclear power plants and other energy sources that Ewall argues are even worse than coal fired generators, such as waste-to-energy incinerators.
In addition, Ewall argued that market-based mechanisms such as carbon taxes will not bring about changes in energy consumption and production fast enough to tackle the climate crisis. In fact, he said that given the current corporate control over electoral politics, it is likely than any federal legislation that Congress can enact in the near future will be fatally flawed. Therefore the best way forward in terms of curbing greenhouse emissions causing climate change, in Ewall’s view, is through grassroots, community-based campaigns to shut down polluting facilities, one by one, and in this way to “decimate” dirty industries. A major reform of the political system also is needed before any good climate legislation can be passed, Ewall added.
During the Q and A session that followed Broad’s and Ewall’s main presentations, some DSA members argued that if a carbon fee and rebate program only insures rebates of the money collected to U.S. citizens, as seems probable given the anti-immigrant sentiment that Donald Trump and his supporters are promoting, then low-income undocumented immigrants would receive no rebates at all, making the plan inequitable.
If environmentalists and other advocates of a municipal fee and rebate plan can get such a plan adopted by the District Government, as a number of green and progressive groups are currently proposing, another equity problem might be raised because of suburbanites who work and shop in the District having to pay higher prices for products here, but not receiving rebates because they are not D.C. citizens.
On the other hand, at least one DSA member present at the debate challenged Ewall’s contention that the use of carbon fees to trigger market mechanisms for reducing greenhouse gas emissions would be too slow to tackle climate change, whereas communities fighting against unwanted fossil fuel plants on a case-by-case basis would supposedly be faster. It is a fact, for example, that market mechanisms in combination with some outrageous government subsidies have brought about a remarkably quick adoption of personal computers, cell phones and other electronic devices in our economy since the 1980s -- while nearly dooming some older business sectors such as independent bookstores to extinction. It’s not clear that higher market prices for fossil fuels cannot facilitate a similar transition, but in a more positive direction.
In reply, Ewall repeated his opposition to carbon fees, but did admit that the combustion of coal by electric power plants is declining rapidly thanks in large part to completion from cheap natural gas extracted through fracking – an indication that market mechanisms can sometimes facilitate rapid technological change.
The debate ended without the CC and EJ Committee voting either against or in favor of the carbon fee and rebate idea. Our committee is committed to taking immediate action on climate and environmental justice-related issues where immediate action seems justified and feasible; however, as a committee we are also committed to engaging in socialist education (and self-education) on environmental issues. In inviting both Broad and Ewall to address the merits and demerits of the carbon fee and rebate idea, we hope to facilitate such education in hopes of helping DSA members to become more informed on environmental issues and controversies, with the goal of making all of us more effective in the long run.
Washington Socialist readers who want to learn more about the case for carbon fees and rebates may want to access the Citizens Climate Lobby website at http://citizensclimatelobby.org/ and at http://citizensclimatelobby.org/basics-carbon-fee-dividend/ . For Mike Ewall’s case against the plan, see his EJN web pages at http://www.energyjustice.net/ and http://www.energyjustice.net/climate .
Some details about the plan that neither Broad nor Ewall mentioned in their DSA debate, probably because of time constraints, were laid out in February of 2013 by eco-Marxist John Bellamy Foster in the socialist magazine Monthly Review. As first proposed by James Hansen, the Monthly Review piece notes, the idea was called a “fee and dividend” plan, and Hansen was insistent on the notion that the fees should be fully returned to U.S. citizens on a per capita basis, with the parents of children receiving full refunds for themselves, plus half refunds for each of their children.
In 2009 testimony before Congress, Hansen predicted that based on 2007 prices, a carbon fee of $115 per ton of CO2 emissions – which would raise average gasoline prices by $1 a gallon, and average electricity prices by 8 cents per kilowatt --would generate roughly $670 billion in revenue annually. This would make it possible for individual adults who are “legal US residents” to receive rebates of $3,000 apiece and a family consisting of two adults and two children to receive some $9,000 a year. The program that Hansen proposed would incur only minor administrative expenses, he predicted, and these could be easily covered by minor transfers from the Pentagon’s swollen budget.
As proposed by Hansen, the carbon fees would begin at just $15 per ton of CO2 emissions, but escalate rapidly by $10 per ton per year. The fact that the scheme would be revenue neutral and an estimated 60 percent of the population would get a net economic benefit from it, Hansen argues, would make it politically possible to increase the fee amounts to the level where they would generate significant reductions in carbon emissions.
In other commentary on the topic, Hansen has predicted that “Economic modeling for the U.S. shows that [even] a mere $10/tonCO2 fee, rising $10 each year, would reduce emissions 30 percent after a decade—more than a factor of 10 greater than the oil carried by the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.”
For more on Hansen’s idea as Monthly Review has summarized it, see https://monthlyreview.org/2013/02/01/james-hansen-and-the-climate-change-exit-strategy./
In recent years, a number of environmental organizations and some progressives, as well as a growing number of conservatives who are cited on the CCL’s web site, have come to endorse the “carbon fee and rebate” or “carbon fee and dividend” idea largely as Hansen proposed it. However, enthusiasm for carbon fees is hardly universal.
One persistent critic of the idea is David Roberts, a veteran reporter on energy and environmental issues who formerly worked for Grist, but who has recently moved to Vox where he has a regular blog. In a Grist article titled “10 Reasons a carbon tax is trickier than you think,” Roberts has expressed several objections to carbon taxes that resemble what Ewall argued before our DSA committee on March 26.
However, he added another one that Ewall did not mention, except indirectly: the risk that conservative Republicans who like carbon fees will demand the dismantling of other, existing ways to handle fossil fuel pollution – such as EPA regulations and government incentives for investments in renewable energy, for example – in exchange for their support of carbon fees as a market-based solution. Roberts repeats the same point in a Vox blog post of April 17, 2017, in which he claims that “Democrats are being pressured to support a ‘bipartisan’ carbon tax bargain no Republicans support.”
For more of Roberts’ argument, readers should do a web search for “David Roberts” and “carbon fees” or “carbon taxes,” and the hits should include a number of his blog posts.
In the meantime, what’s happening to proposals for state-level or municipal-level carbon fee and rebate plans that are currently under discussion in DC and Maryland? The Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) and 350.org have been active recently in promoting this approach to climate change in both jurisdictions. At least in the case of the District, however, the prospects for carbon fee legislation are somewhat muddied as of this writing.
Some months ago, CCAN organizer Jeremiah Lowery got an impressive array of local environmental organizations and some significant social justice advocacy groups to sign a letter supporting the concept. These included CCAN itself, the DC chapter of CCL, the DC chapter of the Sierra Club, Interfaith Power & Light (for DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia), the DC Environmental Network, Moms Clean Air Force, and also the DC Catholic Conference, Black Millennials for Flint, ONE DC, the Working Families Party in DC, local 32 BJ of SEIU, and the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless.
However, some of these organizations evidently have not signed on to Hansen’s original plan for a revenue-neutral program with all fee revenues being rebated to local residents. Instead, some of the DC backers of carbon fees apparently want some of the money collected to be allocated to programs for the homeless. As of early April, similarly, the local Sierra Club chapter, apparently in response to national Sierra Club policy, was demanding that some of the revenue go for the promotion of renewable energy programs.
The details of just who within the coalition is arguing for what are unclear, but at Washington Socialist press time a “Brass Tacks Committee” of supporting organizations was reportedly still trying to hash out the details of how the money collected would be distributed. One individual involved in the negotiations said that although the majority of the money collected from the DC carbon fees would be returned to residents, some members of the Brass Tacks Committee were arguing for somewhere between 10 percent and 30 percent of it to be reserved for other causes.
How quickly carbon fee and rebate legislation is likely to move, either at the national or the local level, therefore is unclear as of this writing. The Washington Socialist will try to address additional developments in the carbon fee debate as they occur.
The Washington Socialist <> May 2017
By Bill Mosley
DC LaborFest, the Metropolitan Washington AFL-CIO Council’s month-long celebration of labor film, music and history, kicked off on May 1 with a wreath-laying in honor of the birth of legendary labor organizer Mary Harris “Mother” Jones.
Metro-DC DSA has been an annual supporter of this unique festival, which started at DC Labor FilmFest and has now broadened its scope to embrace the entire spectrum of labor culture.
Among the first-time attractions of LaborFest is a series of historic tours, starting with an art and history tour of the AFL-CIO building on May 2 and followed by a “Working Women in American History Bike Tour” on May 7.
Film screenings this year include Matewan, including an appearance by director John Sayles; Metropolis, the 1927 silent classic by Fritz Lang with musical accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra; and the documentary Deepwater Horizon about the catastrophic 2010 oil-rig spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Many of the films will be shown at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring.
Musical performances include concerts by Joe Uehlein, Magpie and Aztec Sun, as well as a May 30 Labor Jazz Showcase.
A full schedule of LaborFest events is available at http://www.dclabor.org/dc-laborfest.html.
The Washington Socialist <> May 2017
By Kurt Stand
An oral history, museum exhibit, jazz opera, play, open to members of our community in Maryland and DC served as a reminder that history is all around us -- and that it is up to us to take the time to open our eyes, ears and hearts so we can learn from those who came before. Awareness of linkages that go back in time provide a framework that can help us better understand how to overcome the challenges of today, for the past lives in the present even within the very different world we now inhabit. Distance sometimes enables a fuller view of the complexity and nuance that have accompanied the courage and integrity expressed in every step made toward greater social justice. Three very different instances of such historical tellings took place in our communities last month; individually and collectively they demonstrate the wide scope of experiences that continue to shape the paths we travel in making our future.
One such instance was a talk given by Thelma Boyd-Nash at the Prince George’s African American Museum & Cultural Center in North Brentwood on April 8 (which can be seen/heard at www.cheverlyvillage.org). Over 90 years old, she grew up in a home where slavery was a living memory. That memory was used by her parents to instill within her the importance of never accepting anything less than living as a free and equal human being in society. So too was the critical importance of gaining an education, no matter what the obstacle, for such is essential to living a life of dignity. Boyd-Nash emphasized that such goals were personal and social, for self-advancement was not possible without community advancement and that not possible without a challenge to existing structures of society.
From this came choices she made -- to be a school teacher, and as such one of the first African American teachers in Prince George's County and the first African American woman high school teacher of an academic subject. When she and her husband moved to Cheverly, Maryland in 1955, they were the first blacks to live in what had been a “sundown” town (no person of color allowed after dusk), where covenants had restricted homeownership to whites only. A decade later she was in the middle of the struggle within Prince George's for school integration and to defend and renovate traditional African American schools slated for closure. Her talk lasted over an hour, but could have gone on hours longer to cover all her experiences in the civil rights movement, in building black community empowerment and building black-white, Christian-Jewish and other alliances for the benefit of all. The extraordinary achievement of Obama’s election takes on greater meaning when seen in the light of the nature of the world she has encountered over nine decades, as does her continued engagement, as she sees the necessity to maintain progress made and still move forward even in the face of a Trump presidency. Progress in the face of adversity in times gone by accounts for her continued optimism, this a product of taking a long view of history.
The location of the talk was perhaps symbolic of that history; North Brentwood was originally populated by free African Americans after the Civil War. In the 1920s it became the first black community incorporated in Prince George's County, an enclave surrounded by often hostile neighboring white communities. That history was explained by former Mayor Lillian Beverly, who spoke alongside Thelma Boyd-Nash. The Prince George's African American Museum -- with a small collection that includes striking contemporary art, historical artifacts and family histories -- promotes knowledge of that past before it becomes lost, holding talks as part of its “Chocolate Cities, [ADK1] programs. This project examines the wide diversity of African American communities within Prince George’s and Washington DC as well as throughout the United States as a means to preserve histories threatened by gentrification and the erasure of historical memory. The museum’s website (www.pgaamcc.org) describes this in greater depth.
In a different way, this speaks to an aspect of the mission of Cheverly Village, which has sponsored other talks similar to Boyd-Nash’s to preserve through telling our collective legacies. The “Village” is one of several such community projects within the Washington DC metropolitan area and has the goal of enabling people to “age in place” via mutual help and giving of skills by neighbors of all ages; itself a model of cooperation that flies in the face of all the logic of modern capitalism. Mutual support and social engagement, through such initiatives, form complementary streams moving toward a more just and equal world.
Black and white tobacco workers in North Carolina organized to that end in the 1940s and 50s, a story that was told in Love Songs from the Liberation Wars, a jazz opera written by singer/songwriter activist Steve Jones and directed by Labor Heritage Foundation Executive Director Elise Bryant. The Foundation sponsored three performances March 30-31 at the Amalgamated Transit Union’s Tommy Douglas Conference Center in Silver Spring, Maryland -- each sold out, the crowds composed largely of unionists and other labor activists who could see the parallel between this early example of civil rights unionism and the tasks before us in reviving social justice unionism.
The songs ranged in tone from light-hearted to scornful, from wistful to angry, cumulatively telling the true story of the women and men who organized Local 22 of the Food, Tobacco, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union at R.J. Reynolds at Winston Salem in 1943. Low wages and speed-up were the principal motivations for organizing; so too was the sense that life in a factory is a dead end, a trap that blocks all workers’ sense of a future, but is especially painful for black women who managed to get an education but who found all other doors to employment closed. Thus the struggle of black and white workers at the plant became a struggle against the racism which kept everyone down by treating some worse than others. The company refused to give in and the press and the FBI were brought into break the union, as was the most potent weapon: Jim Crow -- the laws that kept black and white divided and unequal. The test comes when management offers a raise to white workers only as a means to undermine the emerging unity. But the union’s refusal to back down on inequality keeps the workforce together and sets the framework for worker power to express itself in action.
Historical figures appear in the opera as they did in real life -- Paul Robeson, Woody Guthrie, and Pete Seeger, all of whom at one time or another performed at concerts in North Carolina in solidarity with Local 22, are all depicted on stage. So too many of the rank-and-file members who found their voice in the union are given their due on stage. The campaign was launched by the CIO, and was part of the drive to build unionism that challenged racism in the South in order to solidify the New Deal. The opera was based on the research presented in Robert Korstad’s account of the local’s history in Civil Rights Unionism, with copies of the book on sale at the performance.
Ultimately, the FTA was destroyed by the anti-Communism of the Cold War, for the attack on Communists in the labor movement who led the fight for equality opened the door to a reversal of labor’s policy and racism again was unchallenged by too many unions. But the struggle continues -- the opera ends with rousing songs that form a call to action in today’s struggle. And the Labor Heritage Foundation announced its intention to raise funds to bring the play to North Carolina where today’s struggle for democracy, for racial and economic justice speaks to a renewal of the successful initiative taken all those years ago. In the interim, a number of the songs that formed part of “Love Songs from the Liberation Wars” will be performed by Steve and Peter Jones at Busboys and Poets in Takoma On May 17 as part of DC Labor Fest (www.dclabor.org).
A very different -- and bleaker -- perspective was on offer at the Washington Stage Guild’s performance of George Bernard Shaw’s Back to Methuselah, written in 1921. The rarely produced play runs over 8 hours and was shown in three parts over the past four years at the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church’s Undercroft Theater in downtown DC. Shaw, an Irish dramatist, Fabian socialist, and advocate of women’s emancipation, wrote scores of plays -- such as Saint Joan, Caesar and Cleopatra, Major Barbara, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Pygmalion (later turned into the musical My Fair Lady) -- that mixed humor with biting social commentary. He used the theatre to expose the hypocrisy of bourgeois morality which ever and again uses polite language to rationalize the brutalities of capitalist society, which he observed over his very long life (1856-1950). Back to Methuselah, however, is different, its length alone a sign that Shaw was in no mood to cajole or criticize, but rather to denounce out of the despair wrought by World War I. The murder of tens of millions in a war about nothing other than a dispute over the division of the spoils by the already powerful was bad enough, but even worse was the ease with which politicians, church officials, business leaders returned to the “normality” of power politics that had been the cause of such destruction. The second act of the play begins with the self-satisfied, self-serving exchanges of party politicians who brush off the realities of war to focus on the more “interesting” questions of who can outsmart who in a world of cabinet appointments and shallow elections.
Demonstrating that politics as usual result in more of the same, Shaw develops the argument that the brutality of society reflects the fact that people are as children, that we live and die before reaching maturity. An “answer” such as it is can only be found in humanity “willing” itself to live hundreds or thousands of years -- the choice made by two observing that discussion. Absent that, humanity is condemned as was Adam to work endlessly without satisfaction by tilling the soil, or like Eve, to give birth in pain or like Cain -- humanity’s first murderer -- to discover “meaning” only through senseless violence, a story told at the play’s start and reprised at its conclusion. Shaw counterposes that with the life force of Lilith, who gives women the power of curiosity that Adam lacks, and thereby the power to endure and overcome. Lilith was (in some tellings of the Old Testament and in Talmudic commentary), the first woman, prior to Eve, born equal and not of Adam’s rib, and thus never subservient. In Shaw’s telling she gives birth to both Adam and Eve, represents a life force freed from material conditions, and thus able to experience meaning beyond the labor of exploitation and war.
Shaw’s outlook reflects an odd mixture of philosophical currents; Lamarck as an alternative to Darwin, Nietzsche, Bergson and other thinkers whose emphasis on will seemed to promise a path out of and against acceptance of that which should be intolerable. These were currents popular in some intellectual circles in the 1920s among those who sought to make sense of a world in which the path of material progress had led to a decline in social morality; a combination all too much in evidence in our 21st century world. And so the call for a spiritual renewal -- for a “Creative Evolution” that challenges the thinking and practice that justifies cruelty and oppression.
One need not accept Shaw’s world view or despairing solution to appreciate the force of his critique of the present. Toward the play’s end he has Lilith say, “I stood amazed at the malice and destructiveness of the things I had made: Mars blushed as he looked down on the shame of his sister planet: cruelty and hypocrisy became so hideous that the face of the earth was pitted with the graves of little children among which living skeletons crawled in search of horrible food,” to which she counters a belief in an eternal will that seeks redemption through life, and concludes, from the view of centuries in the future, “... the horrors of that time seem now but an evil dream. They have redeemed themselves from their vileness, and turned away from their sins. Best of all, they are still not satisfied …” Shaw posits a belief in an eternal life-force to serve as an impulse toward a change that can come, however distant it may seem in the worst of times.
Despair in the present is, however, an option that those who build change in the here and now cannot afford. Life can best be redeemed by engagement in our ever-existing present based on the belief that we can join our will to make the world better now and in the future. That is the legacy Thelma Boyd-Nash was passing down in her telling of her own history in which the civil rights movement was not something separate but rather was -- and remains -- a part of everyday living, a part of the personal quest to have comfort, dignity and meaning in the time we have. It is the legacy of tobacco workers who worked to build a union based upon equality and so brought about change that was personal and social and so able to remain a force in their lives even after victory turned to bitter defeat.
None of these -- an oral history, museum exhibit, jazz opera or play, pretend to give answers. All seek to question, challenge and make those who see and listen think about what has been observed. Works of telling, works of art, all of these put on display lives of the past, filled with fear and hope, that give perspective to our own search for a life in the present filled with meaning and beauty despite everything that conspires against those aspirations.
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