Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Mark your Calendar, First Must-See of 2015 on Jan. 8 at 7 p.m.

We hope everyone a peaceful holiday and 

we look forward to seeing you in the new year.


Please join us next week on 

Thursday, January 8th at 7 PM

for the screening of the documentary

"Do The Math"


 DO THE MATH chronicles "America's leading environmentalist" Bill McKibben in a David-vs-Goliath battle to fight the fossil fuel industry and change the math of the climate crisis.


Our guest speakers represent organizations who promote responsible development of renewable energy resources in the northwest.


See below for more information about the film and guest speakers.

 Upcoming Film

 January 8, 2015 * 7 PM 


"Do The Math"

The math is simple. To avoid climate catastrophe, we have to limit carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere to 350 parts per million or below. The only problem? We're presently at 400 parts per million -- and climbing. Bestselling author and environmental activist Bill McKibben and 350.org, the organization he founded, hit the road to raise awareness of this terrifying math and build a movement to challenge the fossil fuel industry. 
Do the Math follows McKibben as he delivers an astonishingly clear breakdown of the facts. The film serves as a much needed correction to industry spin, and shows how an unprecedented global movement is rising up to keep CO2 emissions down. 


To view trailer:



Guest Speakers: 

 Panelists from:

Oregonians for Renewable Energy Progress

The Sierra Club


Renewable Northwest Project



"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Local Heroes of the Year: No 3rd Bridge

Of all the people and groups of people doing good things in Salem, one group stands out, both for their persistence and dogged commitment to helping Salem avoid a catastrophic mistake and for their willingness to take a stand for benefitting the community as a whole, despite being sniffed at and dismissed by the "very serious people" who believe that thinking for ones self is vastly overrated.

Although I quarrel with the name (I think Fund Fixes First! Is both more appealing and more accurate), there can be little quarrel that the leaders of No 3rd Bridge, Scott Bassett and Jim Scheppke, and a small -- but intense, well informed, and indefatigable -- band of stalwarts are the true "First Citizens of Salem." 

Because what a real citizen gives to his or her town is not her or his obedience to the payers of the pipers -- rather, it is good judgment and willingness to oppose bad ideas, the stock in trade of the boosters and the lobbyists trying to drum up a parade that will enrich them and their corporate masters and bosses who populate the Chamber of the 1%.

Here is their review of 2014. After reading, take a moment to thank them for their work. Opposing nonsense like the Bridgasaurus Boondogglus is tough work -- telling the powerful and the privileged "NO" is never the path to easy times, and it deserves a toast.


The end of 2014 saw plans for the 3rd Bridge in disarray. The #1 champion for the bridge, Salem City Councilor Dan Clem, retired from the Council and from the Oversight Team. Several Councilor are unhappy with the latest plans and Tom Andersen who strongly opposes the bridge will take his seat on the Council next month. The funding plan developed by the Oversight Team includes tax and fee increases on everyone in Polk and Marion Counties and a toll on the Marion and Center Street bridges — clearly a non-starter that the Federal Highway Administration should reject as a fantasy. The project timeline was pushed out two more years to 2016, all the better to keep the consulting money flowing to the project consultants who have billed an average of about $58,000 a month for their services since 2006.

Here are the highlights of a year in which great progress was made in putting more nails in the coffin of the 3rd Bridge ...

January: Marion County Commissioners approve the “preferred alternative” for the 3rd Bridge with no public hearing and no public comment.

February: Oversight Team meets and approves the “preferred alternative” we call 4D Lite despite getting no input from the cities of Salem and Keizer. Marion County Commissioner Sam Brentano makes comments in the meeting supporting tolling the Center and Marion Street bridges to pay for the 3rd Bridge.

March: Scott Bassett and Tom Andersen file to run for Salem City Council. Opposition to the 3rd Bridge is a major plank in their platforms.

May: Tom Andersen wins a seat on the Salem City Council with 52% of the vote and Scott Bassett comes within 200 votes of upsetting his opponent who outspent him 3 to 1.

June: NO 3rd Bridge holds first-ever rally in front of Courthouse Square. 30 supporters wave signs and listen to speeches before attending a Salem River Crossing Open House.

July: NO 3rd Bridge launches letter writing campaign to ODOT to oppose a City of Salem grant request to plan the “bridge districts” at both ends of the bridge. ODOT turn downs the grant request in August.

August: The State Bridge Engineer tells a regional transportation planning committee that the Marion and Center Street bridges will not survive the next Cascadia megaquake, but that retrofitting them is a low priority for ODOT.

September: Oversight Team meets and selects the bridge type — a segmental precast concrete box girder bridge.

November: Salem City Council holds a heated work session on the 3rd Bridge. Council President Chuck Bennett calls the latest plans “lipstick on a pig” and “a real disappointment.”

December: Oversight Team holds a funding workshop and a week later meets to develop a rough funding plan that includes gas tax increases, vehicle registration surcharges, property tax increases and tolling the Marion and Center street bridges. NO 3rd Bridge calls the plan “a non-starter."


Happy New Year! Go Ducks!!

Jim and Scott

Jim Scheppke and Scott Bassett

Must-Read: The Tragedy of the American Military

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

"The American public and its political leadership will do anything for the military except take it seriously. The result is a chickenhawk nation in which careless spending and strategic folly combine to lure America into endless wars it can't win."



For the full article, go to: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/12/the-tragedy-of-the-american-military/383516/


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Salem Harvest $10k Matching Gift Challenge ends 12/31


We are making progress toward our $10,000 matching goal!  But there are still dollars left to harvest.  

Thank you, to those who have donated.  Your commitment and generosity are very much appreciated.

To those who haven't yet donated, remember, these funds will be used to grow our program and increase our relationships with farmers, ultimately leading to harvesting more fresh produce.  Please be generous in this season of giving to help feed our community. 

All donations are tax-deductible and our matching challenge ends on December 31, so give today.  Checks can be mailed to Salem Harvest, PO Box 483, Salem, Oregon  97308  –OR-  click this link for PayPal donations.

Best Wishes for a Happy New Year,

Salem Harvest - President
503.400.6618 x5

To feed the hungry by harvesting food that would go to waste

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Solnit: Everything’s Coming Together While Everything Falls Apart

> Just before that September climate march in New York, I began to contemplate how human beings a century from now will view those of us who lived in the era when climate change was recognized, and yet there was so much more that we could have done. . . .
> They will think the newspapers should have had a gigantic black box above the fold of the front page every day saying "Here are some stories about other things, BUT CLIMATE IS STILL THE BIGGEST STORY OF ALL."

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Friday, December 19, 2014

A great place to invest your giving dollars here in Oregon

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Reply-To: Beth Butler, Board President <LeadSafe@Me.com>

Quick check...

I just ran a quick check on our numbers:
  • $17,181.00 - Amount raised in the last two weeks from 24 friends! Thank you, friends!
  • $20,698.67 - Amount left to raise by December 31st at midnight to meet our end of year goal, so we can keep helping families in 2015!
  • 16,000+ - Families we have helped so far in 2014 with free information, free soil or consumer goods toxicity testing, free lead-paint test kits or direct emergency support.
  • 7,382 - People following our film's page on Facebook as of today!
  • 395 -  Number of entries so far in our FREE holiday raffle! Did you enter yet? Just four days left to win a Speedheater™ Infrared Paint Remover, Grand Prize Package from Eco-Strip, LLC - (value more than $800!) or a Naturepedic organic crib mattress Grand Prize Package (value more than $600!)  Click HERE to enter.
  • 28 - Hours until film editor/writer/director extraordinaire, Justin Weinstein arrives in Portland, Oregon to help us get started on the final phase of editing for our documentary film MisLEAD!
If you intended to, but have not yet made your end-of-year contribution in support of our work, please donate today to help us meet this goal. Everyone who gives something before the end of the year will also get free lead paint test kits sent to them with their thank you letter!

As Lead Safe America is a 501(c)3 nonprofit donations are tax-deductible and any amount is always welcome. Our most commonly received donation is $25, although the average donation amount over the last two weeks has been $715! Today is also great day to make that $150 donation to become a Neighborhood Partner (and Monday we'll send you $809.46 in free lead-test kits (54 two-swab kits) to give away to families in your community - we have enough kits left for FOUR more neighbhorhood partners this year!)  Click HERE for more ways to give to help us reach our goal.

Thank you!

Have a terrific holiday season.

Beth Butler
Board President
Lead Safe America Foundation
Copyright © 2014 Lead Safe America Foundation, All rights reserved.
This email is being sent to you by the Lead Safe America Foundation. Feel free to unsubscribe by using the link here. Thank you!

Our mailing address is:
Lead Safe America Foundation
P.O. Box 820044
Portland, OR 97282

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Corn Ethanol: A Lump of Coal in Your Christmas Stocking

Of course the diehards will keep thinking that there's some mythical nondestructive biofuel out there because, well, . . . Because!

Nature doesn't provide something for nothing -- if you think you can have low inputs but high outputs, you're deceiving yourself. Biofuels are the false promise of industrial intensity and rapid consumption outputs based on organic/solar intensity and slow production inputs -- which of course reveals that there's a huge amount of hidden fossil fuel use going on ...

And that is all biofuels really are: systems for "laundering" massive rivers of subsidies and hidden fossil fuels used into liquid fuels in ways that tend to fool wishful thinkers into believing that the laws against something for nothing have been repealed.

The fact is simply that there is no such thing as a biological system capable of powering an industrial economy such as was created through fossil fuels. We would need several extra planets devoted to nothing but biofuel production (and eradication of all wildlife) just to power the "American Way" -- to say nothing of the billions of formerly ignored peoples elsewhere.


"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Exponential Benefits of Eating Less - Pacific Standard: The Science of Society


"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Gluttony and Global Warming: We’re Eating Ourselves to a Warmer Planet [feedly]

Gluttony and Global Warming: We're Eating Ourselves to a Warmer Planet
// Miller-McCune Online


To deny the impact of dairy and livestock production on climate change is to deny climate change. The facts, as summarized in a recent study from The Royal Institute's Chatham House, are as clear (and depressing) as they've ever been. For consumers concerned with anthropocentric global warming, they force us to face a difficult reality, one that neither food writers nor leading environmentalists, perhaps fearing backlash, will fully reveal: We must radically alter our diets—by eliminating conventional animal products, ideally—to mitigate the Earth's destruction. If we fail to do so, our legacy will be as a species that destroyed itself with its gluttonous palate.

An estimated 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions currently derive from animal products—that's more than the greenhouse gas emissions linked to all forms of transportation. Livestock is the world's single largest source of global methane and nitrous oxide emissions—emissions that are far more potent and enduring than carbon dioxide. Beef and dairy products deserve the lion's share of the blame, accounting for 65 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions deriving from livestock—the emissions per unit of protein of beef are 150 times higher than that for soy. In addition, the production of meat and dairy is a leading cause of deforestation, with dense nodes of biodiversity being bulldozed for grazing and feed production. And about 75 percent of the world's arable land is used to raise animals we eat. None of this even wades into the issue of water.

We seem to value a right to eat whatever we want to eat. That attitude has contributed to habits of consumption that are stunningly destructive to our health, the welfare of animals, and the planet.

As if these figures aren't alarming enough on their own, it's the projections that should really stop us in our tracks. Global demand for meat and dairy is poised to grow exponentially. China, of course, leads the way. But estimates for places such as Indonesia, Russia, Argentina, and India also project unexpectedly sharp rates of increase (in some cases by a factor of six) between 2011 and 2021. The authors of the Chatham House study estimate that, by 2050, the global consumption of meat and dairy will rise by 76 percent and 65 percent, respectively (compared to a 2005-07 baseline). In other words, if Western countries continue to eat the way we now eat—lots of meat and dairy—and developing countries order what we're having, methane and nitrous oxide emissions would more than double by 2055. And if this happens, you can pretty much wipe every other climate change initiative off the table.

International leaders are doing virtually nothing to address this situation. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has "overlooked livestock" while the freshly-minted Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture (launched in September 2014 at the U.N. Climate Summit) mentions reducing agricultural emissions but says nothing specific about livestock or dairy per se.

Livestock and dairy are marginal concerns at best for nations articulating climate change reduction strategies. Among the 40 developed countries participating in UNFCCC, only two (France and Bulgaria) have a target set for livestock-related emissions. Developing countries are even worse, with only Brazil (out of 55 nations) stating mitigation standards for livestock specifically. Mocking even the lip service that's paid to the problem, governments are actually encouraging meat and dairy consumption through generous livestock subsidies. OECD nations doled out $53 billion in such support in 2013.

Environmental organizations and food writers have also done little to address the connection between climate and the consumption of animal products. Nobody, of course, likes to be told how to eat. But we don't mind having our outrage stoked from time to time. Thus donor organizations are far more comfortable confronting whalers on the high seas or getting arrested protesting pipeline projects than they are serving up the bad dietary news to their carnivorously inclined memberships.

Food writers likewise swap reality for fantasy by advising concerned consumers to eat local, or organic, or pasture-raised non-industrial alternatives. The irony, as this report reiterates, is that, "Intensive rearing of cattle on feedlots is less emissions-intensive than pasture-based grazing systems because grass-fed cows tend to produce more methane and take longer to reach slaughter weight." Others simply toss around red herrings through article after article after article about such peripheral matters as the water required to grow almonds. Almonds are not going to ruin the planet.

Agricultural economists like to highlight the ameliorative impacts of technology, but supply-side solutions hold little promise for tempering the looming threat posed by meat and dairy consumption. There's no doubt that technologically driven efficiencies can reduce greenhouse gas emissions per unit of production. However, the authors of the Chatham House report warn of a "rebound effect"—that is, an effect whereby increasing efficiency of production drives down costs and increases demand, thereby offsetting whatever greenhouse gas reduction technology is created in the first place. They elaborate:

Estimates indicate that shifting all livestock farming to the least emissions-intensive production practices available within a particular region or agro-ecological zone could offer emissions reductions of 32 per cent at current output levels. This would be a remarkable achievement, but not enough to offset rising demand for meat and dairy products: livestock emissions would continue on an upward trajectory.

Despite being savvy consumers of information, we have a notable ability to hear what we want to hear, exclude what we want to exclude, and eat what we want to eat. Just as we perceive ourselves to have a "right to know our food" we also seem to value a right to eat whatever we want to eat. That attitude has contributed to habits of consumption that are stunningly destructive to our health, the welfare of animals, and the planet. The danger of our culinary libertarianism—one that's for more entrenched in the developed world and in the United States the most—has fostered a gluttony that harms ourselves and the planet at once.

Every year individual Americans eat about 600 pounds of milk, yogurt, and ice cream; 30 pounds of cheese; and around 240 pounds of meat.

It's unlikely that the United States will be leading the way toward dietary reform. The fact is, we may be too far gone. Every year individual Americans eat about 600 pounds of milk, yogurt, and ice cream; 30 pounds of cheese; and around 240 pounds of meat. Only beef consumption shows signs of decreasing. All other meat and dairy items are on a sharp upward trajectory—for example, we only ate seven pounds of cheese a year in 1970. Given that the primary drivers of food choice are taste and price—not ecological impact—these trends seem unlikely to change anytime soon.

But the Chatham House report ends on a note of optimism. The study uncovered a large "awareness gap" on the impact of meat and dairy on climate change. Interestingly, it found that Americans were significantly less likely than Brazilians or the Chinese to accept a connection between human behavior and climate change. It also found that those who recognized the connection were more willing to alter their diets to mitigate its effects.

The surveys that reached these conclusions were the first of their kind. They stress that consumer-driven amelioration is possible. But they also stress that the more addicted we become to meat and dairy, the less likely we are to see them as a problem. And the more likely we are to eat in a way that either denies or ignores climate change.

Shared via my feedly reader

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Tell DC: No federal ban on honest food labels requiring GMOs to be listed


"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Insanity - cutting the real learning time for the pretend kind

This is educational malpractice bordering on criminal. There is no evidence whatsoever that this makes any sense except for adults desperate to be seen as "doing something" -- it doesn't matter what. We've given control of the schools over to know-nothings and corporations selling testing and products designed to chase test scores, and to hell with the idea of raising people.


"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dec. 11, 7 pm, Salem Progressive Film Series- another must see

Please join us tomorrow 

Thursday, December 11th at 7 PM

for the screening of the documentary

"Just Eat It". 


In America, we throw away 165 billion dollars worth of food per year. That's more than the budgets for America's national parks, public libraries, federal prisons, veteran's health care, the FBI, and the FDA combined. 


Just Eat It  looks at our systemic obsession with expiry dates, perfect produce and portion sizes, and reveals the core of this seemingly insignificant issue that is having devastating consequences around the globe. Just Eat It brings farmers, retailers, inspiring organizations, and consumers to the table in a cinematic story that is equal parts education and delicious entertainment.  


Check out this amazing article in the San Diego Free Press, titled "The Food Waste Fiasco", by Rob Greenfield.




See below for more information about the film and guest speakers.

 Upcoming Film

 December 11, 2014 * 7 PM


"Just Eat It"


We all love food. As a society, we devour countless cooking shows, culinary magazines and foodie blogs. So how could we possibly be throwing nearly 50% of it in the trash? Filmmakers and food lovers Jen and Grant dive into the issue of waste from farm, through retail, all the way to the back of their own fridge. After catching a glimpse of the billions of dollars of good food that is tossed each year in North America, they pledge to quit grocery shopping cold turkey and survive only on foods that would otherwise be thrown away. In a nation where one in 10 people is food insecure, the images they capture of squandered groceries are both shocking and strangely compelling. But as Grant's addictive personality turns full tilt towards food rescue, the 'thrill of the find' has unexpected consequences.



Films website and trailer:  http://www.foodwastemovie.com/about/ 



Guest Speakers: 


Jen Rustemeyer, Films Producer, (via Skype)


Alan Pennington,  Waste Reduction Coordinator,

Marion Co. Environmental Services

Michelle Suess Sustainability Director, 

LifeSource Natural Foods

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Nice - dealing with too much stuff


Salem Creative Network -- Pop Up Shop

Five days of Holiday Cheer are coming your way at Pop Up in Salem Center, December 10-14 next to Ross Dress for Less on Center St NE. Our favorite Mid-Valley Makers will be serving up local art, music, food and drink from 12:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily. Plenty of holiday gift ideas and libations will be on tap to make your shopping easier and more fun. Santiam Brewing, Salem Ale Works, Vivacity Spirits, 2 Towns Cider House, Lewman Vineyards and surprise guests are pouring. A Salem Creative Network creation.

Matching Grant Opportunity for Salem Harvest

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

From: Salem Harvest <info@salemharvest.org>
Date: December 9, 2014 at 12:59:41 PST
Subject: Matching Grant Opportunity for Salem Harvest


We have Great News! Thanks to the generosity of our volunteers and crop donors, we harvested FOUR TIMES as much food this year as we did last year — an amazing 293,754 pounds! And we are still just scratching the surface. However, to harvest this much we had to stretch our resources far beyond anything we had expected.

Then this week, as we began figuring out how we could possibly harvest more produce in 2015, we got a timely telephone call. A private foundation was so excited by what we had accomplished that they called to make an unsolicited proposal: They are challenging Salem Harvest and its supporters to match up to $10,000 in donations by December 31, 2014. That is, for every dollar we raise to harvest more unused food next year, they will contribute one additional dollar.

If you make a tax-deductible contribution, it will help us reduce hunger in our community at an even higher level. And remember, a $25 contribution becomes $50 and $100 becomes $200, so dig deep and let's harvest all $10,000 that they are willing to match! But the deadline is just a few weeks away so please donate now.

Click here to use a credit card via PayPal or to use a PayPal account -OR- send a check, postmarked by December 31st, to:

Salem Harvest
P.O. Box 483
Salem, OR 97308

Thank you in advance,
Salem Harvest Board of Directors

P.S. Let's use social media to maximize this opportunity! Please share the message from Salem Harvest's Facebook page on your timeline. Or, post a note of your own on your page telling friends how successful your season with Salem Harvest was and how they can donate to support a cause you're so passionate about.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

What is Community Wealth Building and Why is it Important?

What is Community Wealth Building and Why is it Important?
This is just another illustration of that great truth -- that there's at least a Billion Better Ways to Blow a Billion Bucks than on a Bridgasaurus Boondogglus.

Imagine if we had instead invested in community wealth building the $7 million squandered -- so far -- on trying to con Salem residents into building an expressway from West Salem to Chuck Sides's real estate Waterloo at Keizer Station. . . And what $46.4M a year (the 20 year price tag for the liar's budget price for the Boondoggle) NOT so squandered could be used to do.

What is Community Wealth Building and Why is it Important?

Crossposted from Veris Wealth Partners

More than a decade ago, my colleagues and I at The Democracy Collaborative began using a term for a new kind of economic development – Community Wealth Building. For years, the term was so uncommon that it almost invariably appeared within quotation marks when used.

Today, a Google search identifies 124,000 entries and is growing daily.

In Richmond, VA, the Mayor recently established the first City-government Office of Community Wealth Building. Community wealth initiatives have been launched in cities as different as Cleveland, OH, Washington, DC, Atlanta, GA and Amarillo, TX. Regional Federal Reserve Banks are hosting video webinars and meetings. Even the extractive fracking industry — yes, you read that right — is now working to co-opt the term to improve its image.

Why Now?

So let us pause for a moment to ask: What is community wealth building and why is it important?

My colleague Marjorie Kelly, author of Owning Our Future: The Emerging Ownership Revolution, writes that:

When families possess assets — valuable skills, social networks, a home, some savings, an ownership stake in a business — they enjoy greater resilience, and are better able to withstand occasional shocks like unemployment or illness. They can plan for their future, send a child to college, feel secure in retirement. A job may start or stop. It is assets, of various kinds, that yield greater stability and security. As this is true of families, it is also true of communities. Jobs may be drawn into a community, but then leave without warning. And if attracting jobs means degrading community assets — through pollution, low-wage jobs, or the loss of tax income through excessive tax breaks — a seeming gain can in fact represent a net loss.

If traditional economic development tends to be about attracting industry to a community, building wealth is instead about using under-utilized local assets to make a community more vibrant. It's about developing assets in such a way that the wealth stays local. And the aim is helping families and communities control their own economic destiny.

Strengthening Communities

This is community wealth building: a fast-growing economic development movement that strengthens our communities through broader democratic ownership and control of business and jobs. It builds on local talents, capacities and institutions, rebuilding capital to strengthen and create locally-owned family and community owned businesses that are anchored in place, that aren't moving.

The community wealth building field includes a broad range of models and innovations that have been steadily growing power over the past 30 years or more: cooperatives, employee-owned companies, social enterprise, land trusts, family businesses, community development financial institutions and banks, and more. One powerful team of local partners are anchor institutions, like hospitals and universities. They are often the largest economic drivers in their communities. Increasingly they see the synergy between restoring local health and wealth with their success.

These strategies reverse the focus on "chasing companies to relocate to my city." All too often this includes greater tax breaks and lower wages for companies that may well relocate again for a better offer in another community. Community wealth, on the other hand, is tied to place. The people who own and control the businesses live there.

These structures and models are part of a growing system that aims at improving the ability of communities and individuals to:

  1. increase asset ownership;
  2. create anchor jobs locally by broadening ownership over capital;
  3. help achieve key environmental goals (including decreasing carbon emissions);
  4. expand the provision of public services by strengthening the municipal tax base; and
  5. ensure local economic stability.

Investing Locally

Significantly strengthening and growing local capital is critical.

Strategies include:

  1. building new, and strengthening existing, community-based financial institutions;
  2. preventing local financial resources from "leaking out" away;
  3. leveraging the use of procurement and investment from existing local anchor institutions such as hospitals, universities, foundations, cultural institutions, and city government; and
  4. finally, working aligned impact investors and financial institutions to grow affordable capital committed to building local wealth.

Veris and other advisors play a critical role in furthering community-based impact investing.

The overall economic impact of place-based, community wealth building strategies is evident. More than 10 million employees own all or part of 10,900 companies through employee stock ownership plans (ESOPS) — firms that employees finance and increasingly own through pension contributions. These ESOPs have generated equity benefits of $870 billion for their employee-owners. Cooperatives, according to a 2009 University of Wisconsin study, now operate 73,000 places of business throughout the United States, own $3 trillion in assets, employ 857,000 people, and generate over $500 billion in revenue for their member-owners. The new "go local/sustainable" business and food movement is exploding.

Political economist and historian Gar Alperovitz, a co-founder of The Democracy Collaborative, often asks audiences this question when he lectures: "If you don't like state socialism and you don't like corporate capitalism, what kind of system do you want?" Community wealth building begins to point to some of the essential elements of a more just, equitable and sustainable system.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Monday, December 8, 2014

There Is An Alternative [feedly]

Change "Labour" to "Democratic" and Cameron to Obama and it's pretty much usable as-is.

There Is An Alternative
// Monbiot.com

The great political question of our age is what to do about corporate power. It's time we answered it.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 8th December 2014

Does this sometimes feel like a country under enemy occupation? Do you wonder why the demands of so much of the electorate seldom translate into policy? Why the Labour Party, like other former parties of the left, seems incapable of offering effective opposition to market fundamentalism, let alone proposing coherent alternatives? Do you wonder why those who want a kind and decent and just world, in which both human beings and other living creatures are protected, so often appear to find themselves confronting the entire political establishment?

If so, you have already encountered corporate power. It is the corrupting influence that prevents parties from connecting with the public, distorts spending and tax decisions and limits the scope of democracy. It helps to explain the otherwise inexplicable: the creeping privatisation of health and education, hated by almost all voters; the private finance initiative, which has left public services with unpayable debts(1,2); the replacement of the civil service with companies distinguished only by their incompetence(3); the failure to re-regulate the banks and to collect tax; the war on the natural world; the scrapping of the safeguards that protect us from exploitation; above all the severe limitation of political choice in a nation crying out for alternatives.

There are many ways in which it operates, but perhaps the most obvious is through our unreformed political funding system, which permits big business and multimillionaires effectively to buy political parties. Once a party is obliged to them, it needs little reminder of where its interests lie. Fear and favour rule.

And if they fail? Well, there are other means. Before the last election, a radical firebrand said this about the lobbying industry(4): "It is the next big scandal waiting to happen … an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money. … secret corporate lobbying, like the expenses scandal, goes to the heart of why people are so fed up with politics." That, of course, was David Cameron, and he's since ensured that the scandal continues. His lobbying act restricts the activities of charities and trade unions, but imposes no meaningful restraint on corporations(5).

Ministers and civil servants know that if they keep faith with corporations while in office they will be assured of lucrative directorships in retirement. Dave Hartnett, who, as head of the government's tax collection agency HMRC, oversaw some highly controversial deals with companies like Vodafone and Goldman Sachs(6,7), apparently excusing them from much of the tax they seemed to owe, now works for Deloitte, which advises companies like Vodafone on their tax affairs(8). As head of HMRC he met one Deloitte partner 48 times(9).

Corporations have also been empowered by the globalisation of decision-making. As powers but not representation shift to the global level, multinational business and its lobbyists fill the political gap. When everything has been globalised except our consent, we are vulnerable to decisions made outside the democratic sphere.

The key political question of our age, by which you can judge the intent of all political parties, is what to do about corporate power. This is the question, perennially neglected within both politics and the media, that this week's series of articles will attempt to address. I think there are some obvious first steps.

A sound political funding system would be based on membership fees. Each party would be able to charge the same fixed fee for annual membership (perhaps £30 or £50). It would receive matching funding from the state as a multiple of its membership receipts. No other sources of income would be permitted. As well as getting the dirty money out of politics, this would force political parties to reconnect with the people, to raise their membership. It will cost less than the money wasted on corporate welfare every day.

All lobbying should be transparent. Any meeting between those who are paid to influence opinion (this could include political commentators like myself) and ministers, advisers or civil servants in government should be recorded, and the transcript made publicly available. The corporate lobby groups that pose as thinktanks should be obliged to reveal who funds them before appearing on the broadcast media(10,11), and if the identity of one of their funders is relevant to the issue they are discussing, it should be mentioned on air.

Any company supplying public services would be subject to freedom of information laws (there would be an exception for matters deemed commercially confidential by the information commissioner). Gagging contracts would be made illegal, in the private as well as the public sector (with the same exemption for commercial confidentiality). Ministers and top officials should be forbidden from taking jobs in the sectors they were charged with regulating.

But we should also think of digging deeper. Is it not time we reviewed the remarkable gift we have granted to companies in the form of limited liability? It socialises the risks which would otherwise be carried by a company's owners and directors, exempting them from the costs of the debts they incur or the disasters they cause, and encouraging them to engage in the kind of reckless behaviour that caused the financial crisis. Should the wealthy authors of the crisis, like Fred Goodwin or Matt Ridley, not have incurred a financial penalty of their own?

We should look at how we might democratise the undemocratic institutions of global governance, as I outlined in my book The Age of Consent(12). This could involve the dismantling of the World Bank and the IMF, which are governed without a semblance of democracy, and cause more crises than they solve, and their replacement with a body rather like the international clearing union designed by John Maynard Keynes in the 1940s, whose purpose was to prevent excessive trade surpluses and deficits from forming, and therefore international debt from accumulating.

Instead of treaties brokered in opaque meetings between diplomats and transnational capital (of the kind now working towards a Transatlantic Trade and Investment partnership), which threaten democracy, the sovereignty of parliaments and the principle of equality before the law, we should demand a set of global fair trade rules, to which multinational companies would be subject, losing their licence to trade if they break them. Above all perhaps, we need a directly elected world parliament, whose purpose would be to hold other global bodies to account. In other words, instead of only responding to an agenda set by corporations, we must propose an agenda of our own.

This is not only about politicians, it is also about us. Corporate power has shut down our imagination, persuading us that there is no alternative to market fundamentalism, and that "market" is a reasonable description of a state-endorsed corporate oligarchy. We have been persuaded that we have power only as consumers, that citizenship is an anachronism, that changing the world is either impossible or best effected by buying a different brand of biscuits.

Corporate power now lives within us. Confronting it means shaking off the manacles it has imposed on our minds.



1. http://www.dropnhsdebt.org.uk/

2. http://www.monbiot.com/2010/11/22/the-uks-odious-debts/

3. http://www.monbiot.com/2014/05/05/land-of-impunity-2/

4. https://tompride.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/lobbying-camerons-deleted-speech-and-his-jaw-dropping-hypocrisy/

5. http://www.lobbyingtransparency.org/

6. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/oct/22/vodafone-tax-case-leaves-sour-taste

7. http://www.theguardian.com/business/2011/oct/11/goldman-sachs-interest-tax-avoidance

8. http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/may/27/deloitte-appoints-dave-hartnett-tax

9. http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/may/27/deloitte-appoints-dave-hartnett-tax

10. http://www.monbiot.com/2013/11/29/hidden-interests/

11. http://www.monbiot.com/2011/10/17/show-me-the-money/

12. http://www.monbiot.com/books/the-age-of-consent/


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Sunday, December 7, 2014

My year without Amazon

My year without Amazon

One of two Seattle Giants to shun, the other being Starbucks, which has gotten in bed with Monsanto to fight against honest food labeling. Amazon and Starbucks together are the dynamic duo of corporatized community destruction.

Every place in America -- including truck stops in the absolute middle of nowhere -- offer great coffee these days, and Amazon only offers low prices and "free" shipping by stealing from you by not paying fair wages to workers and by avoiding taxes, both of which cause the rest of us to pay more for everything.  

Support your local book shops and, if you can't find a book there near you, choose Powells.com, a great Oregon institution, a union bookstore.

Neil Young starts Starbucks boycott over GMO suit

Rolling Stone - Neil Young is seeking a new source for his daily latte. The rocker announced on his website this week that he's boycotting Starbucks over the coffee company's involvement in a lawsuit against the state of Vermont's new requirements to label genetically modified ingredients.

"I used to line up and get my latte everyday, but yesterday was my last one," Young wrote. "Starbucks has teamed up with Monsanto to sue Vermont, and stop accurate food labeling."

Vermont passed a law last spring that requires all food products containing GMOs to be labeled as such by July 1, 2016, with the exception of dairy products, meat, alcohol and food served in restaurants. Shortly afterward, four food industry organizations filed a lawsuit against the state that challenged the law's constitutionality...

"Monsanto might not care what we think -- but as a public-facing company, Starbucks does," Young wrote. "If we can generate enough attention, we can push Starbucks to withdraw its support for the lawsuit, and then pressure other companies to do the same."

"Considering that Starbucks has been progressive on LGBT and labor issues in the past, it's disappointing that it is working with the biggest villain of them all, Monsanto," he continued.

"There's much more at stake here than just whether GMO foods will be labeled in a single U.S. state. Vermont is the very first state in the U.S. to require labeling. Dozens of other states have said that they will follow this path -- in order to encourage this, we need to ensure that Vermont's law stands strong."

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Saturday, December 6, 2014

City Unintentionally Destroys Own Parking Meter Argument

Going by the official City of Salem website, what is the ONE MOST IMPORTANT THING about downtown in terms of luring shoppers? See headline below for your answer:
There are lots of views on parking charges, but one thing that everyone who criticizes the downtown merchants (afraid of what meters will do to them) ought to admit is that those merchants are just accepting what the city itself emphasizes time and time again: that people in Salem are irrationally welded to "free" parking and make decisions about where to shop and recreate based on the presence or absence of visible parking charges.

Want more proof that the city talks with forked tongue on parking meters? 

Ask the city why the meters in the city parking ramp next to the library are all charging half of what all the other city meters are. The library staff were adamant that they would see a big drop off in library use if people had to pay the same rate at the library as at other city meters. 

Maybe, maybe not.

But if public employees are so sure that parking charges drive away business, then it's hard to criticize business owners -- most of whom rent their storefronts, paying under leases that were negotiated without meters -- for being believing them, or for being concerned about how meters will affect their livelihood. 

Downtown is a complex puzzle, and insisting that we should simply put in meters and that they are the solution to downtown's troubles --- well, if you believe that, you all very likely not someone with any economic stake in the downtown, and you won't miss any meals if your theory turns out to have been wrong.

We need to step-back, focus on the bigger picture, and stop insisting that the only element needing to be addressed is meters, yes or no. For one thing, Salem needs to stop undermining downtown by threatening to bypass it to please Chuck Sides and the Chamber of the 1% by building the proposed Third Bridge (Bridgasaurus Boondogglus), which could very well turn Salem's downtown into a downtown like those in Eastern Rust Belt cities.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Friday, December 5, 2014

The push for the Salem Third Bridge Explained

This is why folksinger U.U. Phillips used to say that the most radical thing in America is a long memory -- the scams of the rich and powerful to fleece the rest of us never change. An insurance broker in Moses's New York, a mall developer in Keizer ... A rich grifter for every place in every era. The money quote is on top, but the whole thing is fascinating.
JOHN R. MACARTHUR: Imagine trying to do the book without those carbons.
CARO: It wasn't only those papers. There are other collections of papers. I found a memo that showed how Moses used public works to create and wield power. To us, a public work—a bridge, let's say—is a transportation device. To Robert Moses, a bridge was also a source of power. Every aspect of it was a source of power. For example, there was no terrorism then; the Triborough Bridge was not going to fall down. There's no risk. Whoever got to write the insurance policies on the structure would make a lot of money. So Moses would parcel out the policies to politicians who were insurance brokers on the basis of how many votes they controlled in Albany. I found memos in the Moses file that said just that: Jim Roe [a Democratic boss in Queens] has twelve votes in Albany. Give him 18 percent of the insurance premiums. So-and-so controls three votes. Give him 4 percent of the premiums. That sort of thing.
I read this Harper's Magazine article on Zinio and would like to share it with you!

Reading Revolutionized.
Go digital at www.zinio.com


From a conversation between Robert Caro and John R. MacArthur, marking the fortieth anniversary of the publication of The Power Broker, Caro's biography of Robert Moses, which won the Pulitzer Prize. Caro is also the author of the multivolume biography The Years of Lyndon Johnson. MacArthur is the publisher of Harper's Magazine. A first edition of The Power Broker, annotated by Caro, will be included in PEN America's First Editions/Second Thoughts auction on December 2.
ROBERT CARO: By the time I started the book, Robert Moses had been in power for almost half a century. Moses's people said to me: "He'll never talk to you. His family will never talk to you. His friends will never talk to you. Anyone who ever wants a contract from this city or state will never talk to you."
Worse, they said I could never see any of his papers. Moses had seen to it that they had been closed to the public and the press for forty years. So I was never going to get to see them. This was an even bigger handicap. It's hard to do the kind of book I wanted to do—a book that would explain Moses's methods of getting and using power—without written documentation.
One day I got a call from a wonderful journalist named Mary Perot Nichols, who had been an editor at the Village Voice and was then the director of communications for Thomas Hoving, one of Moses's successors as parks commissioner. She called me out of nowhere. We'd met maybe two or three times, when we were both covering the New York World's Fair in 1964–65. But apparently—she told me this later—she'd been watching my work at Newsday.
"I hear you're doing a book on Robert Moses," she said. "And I hear you can't see his papers." I told her that was right. She said, "Well, he forgot about the carbon copies."
Moses had been parks commissioner for almost thirty years. The commissioner's office is at the Arsenal in Central Park, but Moses hated to go there because there was no private entrance. When he was going upstairs to his office, the other employees could talk to him, and he really didn't like people talking to him. So he ran the Parks Department from his real office, which was on Randall's Island. There's a building underneath the toll plaza of the Triborough Bridge, and that was his headquarters. No one could talk to him there unless he wanted to talk to them.
He ran the Parks Department by communiqué, and he would send carbon copies of the communiqués to the Arsenal. He went to a lot of trouble to make sure other caches of his papers were brought to Randall's Island, but he forgot about the carbon copies. Mary said, "I know where they are, and I can get you a key."
If you go to the 79th Street Boat Basin—I think it's two levels down, but I haven't been there in so long—there is an area that had been designed as a parking garage. As I remember it, it was a huge empty white space. When I went there the first time, I turned the key and tugged the door open, and it's a huge garage. But there are no trucks. I turned on the light—they had just a couple of bare bulbs—and there against the far wall was this entire row of four-drawer file cabinets containing not just carbons but thirty years of memos, orders, and directives from Robert Moses to the Parks Department.
Ina [Caro's wife and his only researcher on the book] and I spent several months going through those papers. This was the era before Xerox. We had a primitive copying machine. It was heavy. So Ina and I would park in a lot by the river, and we'd go down to this garage every day carrying this copying machine together. I would take notes, and when I wanted something copied, Ina and I would copy it.
Now, the parkies—these guys in their green Parks Department uniforms, we called them parkies then—they didn't know what I was doing there, exactly, but they vaguely knew it was something that the commissioner, as they all still referred to him, wouldn't like. So whenever we went out—if we went for lunch, or if we both went out to the bathroom or something—they would unscrew the lightbulbs. It would be pitch-black when we got back. After a while Ina and I would arrive in the morning, and I'd have a packet of four light bulbs in my attaché case.
JOHN R. MACARTHUR: Imagine trying to do the book without those carbons.
CARO: It wasn't only those papers. There are other collections of papers. I found a memo that showed how Moses used public works to create and wield power. To us, a public work—a bridge, let's say—is a transportation device. To Robert Moses, a bridge was also a source of power. Every aspect of it was a source of power. For example, there was no terrorism then; the Triborough Bridge was not going to fall down. There's no risk. Whoever got to write the insurance policies on the structure would make a lot of money. So Moses would parcel out the policies to politicians who were insurance brokers on the basis of how many votes they controlled in Albany. I found memos in the Moses file that said just that: Jim Roe [a Democratic boss in Queens] has twelve votes in Albany. Give him 18 percent of the insurance premiums. So-and-so controls three votes. Give him 4 percent of the premiums. That sort of thing.
MACARTHUR: And you couldn't have written that without those memos?
CARO: I'd been told about his method of using every aspect of a public works for power. But it would have been very hard to prove. I wouldn't have used it in the book unless I had something in writing. People ask why these books take so long. Over and over you hear about some collection of written documents, and you have to try to find them. You know, you put it together from so many different places. But you always needed something in writing.
In the latter chapters of the book, I write about how Moses threw people out of their homes to build his highways. I was able to get a pretty good conservative figure: about 250,000 people. He threw out about the same number for his "urban renewal" slumclearance projects. So he threw about half a million people out of their homes. But it was hard to document. It wasn't so hard to document for the highways, because the federal government required some sort of documentation. But for the slum clearance, the federal government didn't require anything.
Moses would just take a site, like the area between Central Park West and Amsterdam Avenue between 97th and 100th Streets. He called it a slum, but it wasn't even a slum. It was a mostly poor but vibrant, bustling black and Puerto Rican neighborhood. And he simply threw the people out.
That was in the Fifties. I wrote the book in the Seventies, and the people were gone. It was really hard to find them. And when you ask people about things that happened a long time ago, their memories are bad, they exaggerate. But I found that there was in fact a written record. I kept finding references to the Women's City Club, whose members had interviewed people as they were losing their homes. Volunteers would do interviews with the people who lived in these apartments, and they would go back to the office and type them up.
Because of those interviews, I was really able to paint a picture. What I found out was that Moses's guys would just tack a piece of paper on the door that looked like a court notice, saying you had thirty days to get out. It wasn't a court notice, but it was designed to look like one. People who had lived in these apartments for years and had no money to move were suddenly told they had thirty days to get out. Then there would be successive notices. You have two weeks, ten days, whatever, to get out. They thought these were official. Once I had these interviews, with their contemporaneous impressions, I could track down these people and go to them and say, "Tell me more."
"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."