Monday, February 28, 2011

Wanted: More and Better Protesters - By Eileen Jones - The eXiled

Wanted: More and Better Protesters - By Eileen Jones - The eXiled

Note: Excellent commentary on the sorry state of American activism.


The Ground We Walk On: A History of The Jackson Miners Union (Post 4)

By David Roddy
Note: Please read Posts 1,2 & 3.

A Shot Across the Land
A group of spectators lined up one early September afternoon outside the doors of the Temple of Music, erected for the Pan-American Exposition of 1901. They had come to a meet and greet with the President of the United States, William McKinley. Leon Czolgosz, the 28-year-old son of Polish immigrants, nervously stepped out of the hot September afternoon sun into the Temple. A series of strikes he witnessed while working in a steel factory as a child radicalized Czolgosz, and as an adult, he became obsessed with anarchist philosophy. Czolgosz wrapped his right hand in bandages, and McKinley, assuming he was injured, offered his left hand instead. Czolgosz smacked this gesture away and pulled the trigger of the revolver hidden under the bandages, firing two bullets into the President’s gut.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mother Lode Progressives Stand with Wisononsin Workers at CA. State Capitol

Eight members of the Mother Lode Progressives, all between the ages of 16 and 25, stood with thousands of demonstrators on the State Capitol steps Tuesday evening to protest anti-union legislation in Wisconsin and similar proposals across the United States.

Tueday, February 22, 2011

Three of us went to another solidarity rally on Saturday, part of the so-called “Rally to Save the American Dream” organized by This crowd was much smaller and less energetic, and the only media attention garnered was in relation to a small Tea Party counter protest across the street from the Capitol building.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Our banner was a simple, stencil and spray-paint rendition of the IWW slogan “An Injury to One is an Injury to All.” This old phrase was actually popular amongst the demonstrators, our sign being just one of many. Working class solidarity is not forgotten in America.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Motherlode Progressives at Tuesday Solidarity Rally in Sacramento

I will post more on this later. Please join us again this Saturday at noon.
Also this Saturday is US Uncut's first day of action, for more information go here.

Finally, check out this excellent piece on Alternet by Tana Ganeva on the authoritarian tactics used by right-wing state governments to smash dissent.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Ground We Walk On: A History of The Jackson Miners Union (Post 3)

By David Roddy

Note: Please read Post 1 and Post 2 before continuing.

Rumors of a Jackson Miners Union
On the 26th of August of 1901, the superintendents from the Kennedy, Argonaut, South Eureka and Zeila gold mines in Jackson convened to address a new social movement rippling across mine communities in the western United States. “It has been reported that the Miners of Amador County have created and organized, or are about to create and organize, a society known as and called a MINERS’ UNION, for the purpose of increasing the current wages and reducing the hours of labor at the Mines in this Mining District.” Miners worked ten hours a day for less than a dollar a day, but the superintendents insisted, “The current wages are fair and the hours of labor reasonable.”

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Ground We Walk On: A History of The Jackson Miners Union (Post 2)

By David Roddy
The Western Federation of Miners: A Brief Introduction

In May of 1893 miners and union organizers from Idaho, Montana, Colorado, and Utah formed the Western Federation of Miners to use the collective power of organized labor to raise working conditions and wages. The WFM convened in Butte City Montana to deliberate on a constitution, and the statement of principles within the preamble declared that “Since there is scarcely any fact better known than that civilization has for centuries progressed in proportion to the production and utilization of the metals, precious and 'base, and most of the comforts enjoyed by the great majority of mankind are due to this progress, the men engaged in the hazardous and unhealthy occupation of mining should receive a fair compensation for their labor, and such protection from the law as will remove needless risk to life and health ; we therefore deem it necessary to organize the Western Federation of Miners of America for the purpose of securing by education and organization, and wise legislation, a just compensation for our labor and the right to use our earnings free from dictation by any person whatsoever.”

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty & Inequality: Facts About U.S. Inequality that Everyone Should Know

The Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality is a project by Stanford and Harvard Universities aimed at studying policy initiatives to decrease wealth inequality in America. Their "20 Facts About U.S. Inequality that Everyone Should Know" presents graphics on poverty and nequality that illustrate the negative effects of "neoliberal" economic policy on working Americans. I'll discuss two of them.

The graph at left shows the gap in average CEO income as a ratio to average worker income. In 1970 a CEO made 39 dollars for every one dollar made his employee. By 2000 he made 1,031 to every workers dollar. The video below is excerpts from neoliberal icon Margaret Thatcher's last speech in the British House of Commons, justifying the similar explosion of wealth inequality in the U.K. under her rule.

Thatcher argues that the inequality her premiership built actually lifted all classes to a higher standard of living, a line that has been repeated ad nauseam by politicians on both sides of the ocean whenever they present a plan cut taxes. Problematically, wage growth is something measurable, and the claims made by Thatcher are demonstrably untrue. Unemployment tripled and British children became the most impoverished in Western Europe in the 1980s.

On the other side of the Atlantic the neoliberal policies of Ronald Reagan were similarly toted to increase the prosperity of all Americans. The bottom graph depicts the estimated "output" of each worker in terms of Gross Domestic Product during the last 40 years, which does increase during the Reagan years and continues to do so through George W. Bush. Middle class income, however, remains stagnant. So worker productivety increased while their wages stayed the same. To find out what happened to all that extra wealth, please refer to the first graph.

Just because it's yellow and trickles down doesn't mean it's gold.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Ground We Walk On: A History of the Jackson Miners Union (Post 1)

By David Roddy
The barbarous gold barons--they did not find the gold, they did not mine the gold, they did not mill the gold, but by some weird alchemy all the gold belonged to them!”
William “Big Bill” Haywood, organizer for the Western Federation of Miners, Industrial Workers of the World, and Socialist Party of America.
Introduction: Rebellion Beneath the Wild West
The songs of the mines permeated Jackson, a steady percussion of turning gears and cranking levers while whistling boilers and gushing water provided the accompanying chorus. The melody had no end, continuing throughout the day and night as men toiled beneath the earth. It claimed ownership of the community, and must have reminded a group of men who skipped work one warm May morning of the constant presence of the mines.
A different time: the Kennedy Mine & Mill, Jackson, Ca.
A group of seventy or so gathered on Main Street, preparing to parade. They shouted slogans in English, Italian, and Austrian while waving a forty-five starred American flag. Strange as all this sounds, perhaps the most peculiar detail was what the miners flew alongside Old Glory. For this is May Day 1906, and what flourished above the parading workers and their wives that morning was the red flag of the socialists. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Single Payer in California

Amadorians join hundreds at Capitol demanding state health care reform.
Mike and I with our nifty banner.
The above link is the Amador Ledger Dispatch coverage the presence of Amador County residents at a January 10th rally in support of California Senate Bill SB 810.
The rally, organized as part of the California Health Professional Student Alliance’s “Student Lobby Day” attempted to pressure State legislatures to support the bill on the same day as Governor Jerry Brown released his budget proposals, which included a $1.7 billion cut to Medi-Cal, which provides means tested health insurance to low income residents.

Mike and I marched with some five-hundred students and supporters to the steps of the State Capital, where several other Amador progressives met us. SB 810 would provide health insurance to all Californians, regardless of means, while lowering the net costs of healthcare by eliminated corporate overhead. It nonetheless remains controversial, particularly in Republican dominated regions like Amador County. Here I hope to refute two popular arguments against Single Payer while demonstrating its importance to rural working families.

1) Single Payer is not socialized medicine, as it does not seek to establish a state monopoly over institutions that provide medical services. A better term would be “socialized insurance” in that it simply would replace health insurance corporations with a “single payer” of public funds. The government will not be running healthcare; it will just be providing access to it.

2) We frequently hear stories about the horrors of “socialized medicine” (actually single payer) in Canada. The results of a 2003 Gallup poll would therefore come as a surprise to many California residents, reporting that 17% of Canadians were dissatisfied with their healthcare compared to 44% of Americans, and that 57% were satisfied with their healthcare as opposed to 25% of U.S. citizens.

The Nebraska based Center for Rural Affairs noted in a 2004 report that rural residents were more likely to be uninsured than those living in urban areas. This they attributed to the inability of small businesses (widespread employers within rural economies) to afford health benefits, as well as the dominance of low wage service sector employees (Wal-Mart being a prime example in Amador and Tuolumne Counties). A 1997 study by the National Survey of America’s Families found that rural individuals were 12% more likely than those in urban areas to be either uninsured or on some form of public insurance, and that was before the recession. Moreover, healthcare facilities are scattered sparsely across the country landscape, compounding medical care costs with long ambulance rides.

Rural residents are among those in most need of universal healthcare coverage, and progressives within the Mother Lode and any other backcountry region in California need to be aware of this fact.

A note on our banner: This is an inversion of sorts of Tea Party iconography. Tyranny does not reside solely within government, but dwells in any power that attempts to force its own interests over the interests of the majority. There is no greater tyrant in contemporary America than the corporation, a body that governs everything from food production to healthcare with no accountability to the people whatsoever, and should therefore be opposed by all who claim belief in individual liberty.
Students and Healthcare workers rallying on steps.
Further Reading:

California OneCare: Campaign For SB 810 – Single Payer Universal Health Care

Ormand, Barbara, Stephen Zuckermen, and Aparna Lhila. "Rural/Urban Differences in Health Care Are Not Uniform Across States." The Urban Institute
Research of Record. 01 May 200. Web. 05 Feb. 2011.

Seshamani, Meena, and Joan Nostrand. "Hard Times in the Heartland: Health Care in Rural America." Health Reform. Web. 05 Feb. 2011.