Newsletter - From Neoliberal Injustice To Economic Democracy

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By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers. This week, we will focus on positive work that people are doing to change current systems in ways that reduce the wealth divide, meet basic needs, build peace and sustainability and provide greater control over our lives. The work to transform society involves two parallel paths: resisting harmful systems and institutions and creating new systems and institutions to replace them. Throughout US history, resistance movements have coincided with the growth of economic democracy alternatives such as worker cooperatives, mutual aid and credit unions.

Replacing TrumpCare and ObamaCare with Co-opCare

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By Paul Glover. Few are satisfied with America’s medical insurance system, but many resist abrupt change. Conservatives want smaller government and more individual responsibility. Liberals fear abandonment of the poor and elderly. Everyone dreads premium increases. Yet there is a path that’s both liberal and conservative, which relies on a genuinely free market to achieve low-cost, high-quality health care for all. This process revives the American tradition of mutual aid co-operatives and fraternal benefit societies. One hundred years ago most health insurance was provided through these organizations. Their members built hospitals, orphanages, old folks’ home, paid sickness and death benefits. For pennies per week they delivered health care that was affordable, democratic and humane. Today, a national network of such local and regional co-ops could operate as mutual medical savings accounts, from which national coverage can evolve.

Neighborhood Medics Saving Lives In Chicago

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By Shannon Hefferan for WBEZ Chicago. The program is called Ujimaa Medics, or UMedics. Ujimaa means “collective work and responsibility” in Swahili. In 2013, the city’s inspector general released a report on how often paramedics took more than five minutes to get to a medical emergency. The results: longer response times were more common in some parts of the South Side. UMedics co-founder Martine Caverl said the city’s violence, along with health disparities and ambulance response times, can make people feel powerless. So she helped found the UMedics group, which led its first training in 2014. “We wanted to say to people … this is one thing we can do,” Caverl said. “You know, when we hear the gunshots we are going to make sure we are safe, but then we are likely to see what is going on because we have something we can offer.”

NYC Shut It Down: Weekly Shut Down & Clothes For The Poor

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By Keegan Stephan for Keegan NYC – On Wednesday, November 4th, before temperatures in NYC dropped to 4 degrees, and the mayor warned people to stay inside unless absolutely necessary, NYC Shut It Down, the group who has been shutting down NYC for victims of police violence every week for over a year, distributed clothes to those who have no option to stay inside, even in arctic weather – the homeless. Over the previous weeks, NYC Shut It Down had accepted clothing donations and stored them at the offices of Global Revolution TV, a media collected made famous during Occupy Wall Street.

Mississippi Wants To Punish 88 Year Old Doctor Who Treats Poor For Free

Dr. Carrol Frazier Landrum, an 88-year-old doctor in Edwards, Miss., drives to his patients and sees them out of his car. It's apparently a controversial practice that has placed him under fire by the state's medical board. Source WBTV.

For the last two years, Landrum has been working without an office, but he’s happy to meet his patients wherever they are. Sometimes, the meetings occur in a home; sometimes they take place in a parking lot. Other patients meet the doctor on the side of a quiet country road — or inside his 2007 Toyota Camry. The location doesn’t matter because Landrum, a World War II veteran who has been in private practice for more than 55 years, believes it’s his duty to help anyone who calls on him. “I’ve always had a heart for the poor,” Landrum told The Washington Post this week, struggling to hold back tears. “I grew up poor, and when the doctor would come to us, and he was happy to see us, I pictured myself doing that some day. I try not to ever turn people away — money or no money – because that’s where the need is.” But his work may soon come to an end.

#GazaRebirth: New Paradigm For Recovery Activism

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Besides the aid to Gazans, there are two outcomes we would love to achieve: One, establish a new way of providing emergency assistance which bypasses the NGO empires and paternalistic controls on people who need aid. People are not products, aid should be a human relationship not a corporate one. If we can set up one trust relationship for Gaza, we hope we can use it as a proof of concept to expand across Gaza and in other places like Syria, Myanmar and everywhere really. The trust networks we set up for direct global communication to bypass corporate media can be used in the same way to provide direct aid and bypass corporate NGOs. Two, we want to start a dialogue about this cycle of destruction and ‘rebuilding’ where corporate empires are feeding off real human torment as a growth industry to enrich themselves.

Grandma's Tiny Home Shed, Gives Daughter's Family A Home

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Many people have been moving into smaller homes for a host of reasons: it could be a conscious change toward a simpler lifestyle, it could be a way to avoid paying all the bills and taxes associated with a larger home, or for some younger people, tiny homes are a quick and affordable start for home ownership and an early lesson in independence. But choosing to live in a tiny home could also be done for selfless reasons, as this elderly woman did when she chose to give up her own house to her daughter and five kids, all of whom had recently become homeless. Instead of seeing her daughter go out onto the street, Monica Smith elected to move instead into a converted 8-foot by 10-foot shed in her backyard. Monica gradually transformed a tool shed into a two-storey tiny home. There is a kitchen, a sitting area and a bedroom tucked above the ground floor, accessible by a stepladder. Monica did much of the renovation work herself, keeping costs down.

Across Latin America: Struggle for Communal Land & Indigenous Autonomy

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“We recognize that we must confront the plundering by transnational companies and the harassment of bad governments through their political parties that offer programs and money that corrupt many leaders and divide our communities,” states the declaration of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) of the Isthmus region, which took place in March 2014. While a furious battle has been unleashed for the recognition of indigenous rights and culture in other communities in Mexico and Latin America, in Oaxaca, new legislation is being debated on this very theme while large-scale projects continue to advance.

Underground Networks Spring Up to Help Migrant Kids in US

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Priests, shopkeepers, doctors, lawyers, activists and even artists are among those who make up a network that is starting to spring up in the United States to help migrant kids – but they must keep the network underground to avoid attacks by anti-immigrant groups. A pro-immigrant underground network has emerged, operating in the Los Angeles metropolitan area and Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange and Ventura counties, where 47 percent of the population is Hispanic. The system of humanitarian aid has started to extend across the country, and the children and their families have received transportation, plane tickets, medical care, legal representation, places to stay, and even free haircuts. Luz Maria Gallegos, a short, dark-skinned woman, is starting to lose her voice and her arm is cramping up. For the last two hours, she has been holding up a sign and yelling, “Against racism, igualdad para todos [equality for everyone].” She drove from San Bernardino to Murrieta, Calif., to support the protest in favor of releasing the migrant kids.

Marinaleda: The Village Where People Come Before Profit

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In the south of Spain, the street is the collective living room. Vibrant sidewalk cafes are interspersed between configurations of two to five lawn chairs where neighbors come together to chat over the day’s events late into the night. In mid-June the weather peaks well over 40 degrees Celsius and the smells of fresh seafood waft from kitchens and restaurants as the seasonably-late dining hour begins to approach. The scene is archetypally Spanish, particularly for the Andalusian region to the country’s south, where life is lived more in public than in private, when given half a chance. Specifically, this imagery above describes Marinaleda. Initially indistinguishable from several of its local counterparts in the Sierra Sur southern mountain range, were it not for a few tell-tale signs. Maybe it’s the street names (Ernesto Che Guevara, Solidarity and Salvador Allende Plaza, to name a few); maybe it’s the graffiti (hand drawn hammers-and-sickles sit happily alongside encircled A’s, oblivious to the differences the two ideologies have shared, even in the country’s recent past); maybe it’s the two-story Che head which emblazons the outer wall of the local sports stadium. Marinaleda has been called Spain’s ‘communist utopia,’ though the local variation bears little resemblance to the Soviet model most associate with the phrase. Classifications aside, this is a town whose social fabric has been woven from very different economic threads to the rest of the country since the fall of the Franco dictatorship in the mid 1970s.

Occupy Founders Launch The After Party in Detroit

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Some of the founding members of the occupy movement are launching a new political party – THE AFTER Party. Carl Gibson is among them. He says, “What sets The After Party apart is that 365 days out of the year it is a humanitarian organization. The way we organize politically, what sets us apart is that we are finding needs within the community, and then working to meet them using the community’s assets.” And, so is Radio Rahim, another After Party founding member and, yes the real life persona behind the character in Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing says the following:

The Occupy Sandy Network: Still Working Tirelessly For A Just Recovery

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In the eighteen months since Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast and forced the entire region to rethink our way of life, people on the front lines of the recovery effort have been working tireless to rebuild and restore hope to the community. Eighteen months later, The Occupy Sandy network is still working tirelessly for a just recovery and a more resilient future Whether it be developing youth programming, worker cooperatives, and political education and organizing for responsible development in the Rockaways; coordinating rebuilding crews and sharing stories in New Jersey; or building coordination systems for community-led relief, recovery and resilience efforts – our community coalitions are growing strong and there is still so much work to be done. Yesterday, a dedicated group will come together for a press conference in Staten Island to mark the 18-month anniversary, and to discuss progress and future plans. The group will gather at 706 Quincy Avenue at 2pm – an Ocean Breeze street virtually destroyed by the storm – in front of the home which was rebuilt by members of the Long Term Recovery Group’s rebuild committee.

Grassroots Organizing Rescued West Virginia’s Water Crisis

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Only a few hours after news of the spill began trickling out, a grassroots group called WV Clean Water Hub had already begun organizing water deliveries through its Facebook page. That quickly turned into a massive community-organized effort supported by new volunteers, as well as long-established grassroots groups in West Virginia — including Aurora Lights, Coal River Mountain Watch, Keeper of the Mountains Foundation, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, and RAMPS. By working to identify communities in need of clean water and supplies, as well as connecting affected communities with volunteers and donors, this wiki-style relief effort has filled the gap left by larger relief organizations. “There is so much bureaucracy [at the larger relief organizations] that communities fall through the cracks,” said Nate May, a volunteer organizer with WV Clean Water Hub. “We’re hearing directly from the people who need the water. Someone will post on the Facebook page that they need water and we’ll make a meme out of it. Then someone else will post when they can deliver some.”

Merry Crisis And A Happy New Fear

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When Charles Dickens waxed poetic about death, greed and misery in his classic Christmas Carol, he very much had in mind the societal dislocation wrought by early industrial capitalism. Of course the Dickensian critique of capitalism lacked a thorough political economic analysis and ultimately failed to move beyond moral outrage at poverty and the decline of human virtue. But, that said, even Karl Marx opined that Dickens in his lifetime “issued to the world more political and social truths than have been uttered by all the professional politicians, publicists and moralists put together.” A Christmas Carol was published in 1843, just five years before The Communist Manifesto and the revolutionary wave of 1848. If we were to write A Christmas Carol for our time, would the story really look so different? The character of Scrooge still seems omnipresent — from wealthy Wall Street investors who haven’t paid a penny for the financial mess they created in the lead-up to the current crisis, to the power-hungry politicians who literally surround themselves with gold while announcing an Age of Austerity for everyone else.

One Year Out, Sandy Survivors Bring Human 'Wave of Change' to City Hall

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A year after Superstorm Sandy flooded the streets of New York, carried away whole stretches of the Jersey Shore and caused untold devastation to half a million homes and countless homeowners along the northeastern seaboard, many survivors are still left adrift. On Sunday afternoon, survivors of the storm and other community leaders are convening at New York City Hall to “Turn the Tide” and demand a more equitable and sustainable rebuild. Protesters plan to carry handmade “waves” symbolizing the “wave of change” they hope to spark. Though millions of aid dollars were set aside following the storm, many communities—particularly minority and lower class—are still displaced. In addition to exposing the economic vulnerability of so many Americans, the storm forced many politicians and other members of New York’s elite class to face the hard facts about our collective future in the face of global warming with its drastic weather patterns and swelling sea levels.