American Eulogy

Tattered-American-Flag-Distress
Something changed. What changed? Where did America steer off the cliff into the abyss? On the Left it is fully the fault of Reagan and the Corporations. On the Right, the demons are the unions and welfare recipients. You could drive a whole nation through that gap. Neither of them fully answers the question.

I was recollecting the other day on my first job. 1978, a week before my 16th birthday I was hired to bag groceries at a Jewel Food Store in Romeoville, Illinois. Romeoville was hardly 15,000 people at the time, surrounded on three sides by farm fields. 3 years before my parents purchased a modest 3 bedroom, one incredibly small and overworked bathroom, single story ranch with their three sons for $36 thousand at 8% interest. My father, working regular by exhausting 12 hour shifts at a Union aluminum plant, as well as a part time job as a volunteer firefighter brought home all total around $20,000. With a certain latent anxiousness, my mother relates that without that overtime and the part time job as firefighter the family would not have been able to remain in that house.

It was a very different country in 1978. As part of my orientation at my new job, a Union position, by the way, paying a grand total of $3.35 an hour, I was introduced to the various department managers. The produce manager, a tall, studious gentleman, with military-trimmed blond hair and dark framed glasses was able to support his family on what he made at Jewel. Was he well off? No, but like my father, he made enough to sustain the family. I buddied up to a sweet woman named Sylvia who was the most senior checker. A widow, she could afford to support herself and two kids on a single salary. Those positions are, for the most part, gone now. They certainly do not pay a wage that could adequately support a family. Recently, we had someone on the show working a full time job who found it necessary in order to survive to also require food stamps.

Where did that country go? What happened? Someone got rich. It wasn’t the produce manager, or Sylvia. The wages for their positions have stagnated or grown at rates which have not kept pace at all with the economy. Gas stations, which once employed one or more attendants who would pump gas, clean windows and mirrors, check tire pressure and oil are now replaced by a single minimum wage worker behind a counter, while you do all the work.

Poverty rates in America. The Welfare system began in the 1930s, the war on poverty in the mid Sixties had a positive effect.

Poverty rates in America. The Welfare system began in the 1930s, the war on poverty in the mid Sixties had a positive effect.

The numbers are telling and heartbreaking. More than that, they reveal the misconceptions too eagerly fostered and promoted by a media increasingly used as a public relations tool for government, industry and the opulently wealthy. It isn’t all their fault, like some sort of alien invasion or takeover. The average American shares some guilt, but more on who and how much each of us is to blame in a moment.

Interesting, that when I began researching this piece I got many of the same responses over and over again. Wages were predominant. They have not kept pace against inflation or against CEO pay. Since 1950 CEO pay is up 1000 against employee pay. When I started that first job in 1978 the ratio was 42 to 1. Today it is more than 150 to 1. By contrast, minimum wages in this country have actually reversed when adjusted for inflation. If they had kept pace with inflation those wages would be around $17 an hour.

Apartment prices have more than doubled in that period, while wages have not. The median price for an apartment in Edgewater, not far from where I live, is over $1000, while a full time minimum wage job, the largest growing number of available jobs nets, before taxes, about 1400 per month. Through in a couple tins of tuna and a loaf of white bread for the month, the bill for that one light bulb you can afford to burn to open the tuna, and a bus pass to get to a job that doesn’t support you, and you are already well past your actual take home pay. Want to live in a safer neighborhood in the city? Mama better be sending you a check every month.

It isn’t the welfare state. As the picture shows, the war on poverty has actually had a substantial effect. Until the crisis of 2008, a massive scheme to loot the treasury (No ski masks and not a shot fired) for which no one was even given a stern talking to, the number of people living in poverty had continued to decline. It’s higher and growing now, because those with less assets bore the brunt of the crime. Nor is it the fault of unions. As the market increased and the economy shifted from manufacturing to service union membership fell to a negligible rate from its high of a still underwhelming 33% in the 1950s, or as many call it: The good ole days. Declining over the next 2 decades, membership increased slightly to about 29% at the end of the Carter administration. From there the attack on unions by Reagan, Clinton, Bush and Obama, as well as rhetoric rising in direct relation to the consolidation of media by corporate interests directly aligned with government drove union membership to the current 7 or 8%.

Union wages have not kept pace either. Union members, the very few that remain had instead taken more and more concessions, including reductions in pay. Loss of 401ks, reductions in benefits and even elimination of retirements, as in the case of the United Airlines Bankruptcy in 2001. What unions have done is set standards of wages and benefits defining America’s middle class. At less than 10% of the workforce, there isn’t much more they could do. It certainly doesn’t put that great a pressure on the real economy to make a difference. Union wages only account for less than 1/7 of the total income for American workers.union

Tax rates certainly are not the whole story. The Left is wrong to believe taxing the wealthy is the only answer. It is part of the answer. Manufacturing and innovation, both of which have been virtually eradicated in America and shipped overseas is a larger piece of the puzzle. Trade reform helps to stop the bleeding. Corporate taxes, as seen here in comparison to individual taxes are certainly in need of reform. The government continues paying massive amounts of money, far eclipsing so-called welfare and food stamps, to already profitable companies, like Exelon and the oil industry.u-s-federal-government-revenue-source

State, local and federal subsidies, tax breaks and tax forgiveness to companies in the US nears $1 trillion annually, and you are asked to tighten your belt! The largest growing demographic in Washington DC are lobbyists. Under Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, who promise reform and called previous governors corrupt, has seen an explosion in the number of corporate lobbyists. The biggest lobbying concern is led by an organization led by his wife, Diana.

So the question remains; what happened to America? If the good old days were the 1950s, as we are told constantly, how come unions were bigger then and the economy greater. There were far more people living in poverty in America. Somebody got paid, and it wasn’t the poor and working class. They got cut. Question is, who did the cutting and what was the result? A better America, or a weaker America. Something was stolen. Somebody isn’t telling us the truth.


Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His new book “A Tragic Fate: is an unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com


The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting.[4] Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.

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Stumping with Chuy Garcia

Rogers Park, January 12- I can almost hear my father saying as to whether Jesus “Chuy” Garcia could do better than incumbent Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, “Well, he couldn’t do any worse.” That might not be the best reason to vote out the incumbent, and depending upon who one asks, there are widely variable views on the Emanuel administration. That’s because it has succeeded in concealing an unprecedented disaster in Chicago. The destruction of the south and west sides in particular in the wake of the foreclosure crisis and the administration’s policy of bulldozing rather than revitalizing neighborhoods rivals the destruction of the Great Chicago Fire. chuy1

Select neighborhoods, primarily in more affluent north side areas have been appeased with landscaping, new parks and a virtual absence of the scourge of Red Light and Speed cameras. Jefferson Park, for example, home to a substantial number of city workers and police officers is nearly devoid of any such cameras, except 3 speed cameras bracketing a neighborhood park. The south, southwest and west sides are infested with these abusive and predatory back door tax mechanisms. Those same neighborhoods, most often Black and predominantly Latino also curiously have found themselves suspiciously overlooked for beatification, such as those lusciously horticultured center islands, and have been thoroughly abandoned both from infrastructure improvement(or upkeep) and business investment. Through neglect and dis-investment these hidden-in-plain-sight neighborhoods have become blighted.

Schools, likewise, have been allowed to whither; set up to fail so that the administration can more easily make its case for crony run and owned charter schools. As for crime, Rahm has been a hindrance rather than a resource. With violent crime down nationally, the intransigent nature of crime and hopelessness in neighborhoods like Englewood and Woodlawn can be tied directly to those atrophied communities under the Emanuel Administration. His policies have driven a deep wedge between the trust of the community and the police.

Most egregious, what should be most unforgivable to taxpayers and voters has been Rahm’s party favors for rich donors and friends from the mysterious TIF fund. TIFs, or Tax Increment Financing, are skimmed from property taxes and thrown into a slush fund under the control of the mayor, and with little or no oversight. They were designed as a redevelopment fund. Instead, it seems to have become a grab bag for the mayor to bestow the taxpayer’s hard-earned money upon the already wealthy. Recipients of TIF funds, are, among others, Target, Coca Cola, United Airlines for their move from Elk Grove Village to the Willis tower, Hyatt which is owned by Emanuel friend and supporter, billionaire Penny Pritzker’s family, and millions to Milwaukee-based Mariano’s grocery chain. The powerful and wealthy line up and schmooze for these cash gifts.

But this is less about Rahm Emanuel but more about the man with the best opportunity to challenge him: Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, the heir apparent to former candidate and Chicago teacher’s Union president Karen Lewis. With a steady snow falling outside the windows of this modest northwest side condominium more than 40 supporters, would-be supporters and curious neighbors from across Rogers Park gathered to hear Garcia’s plan for turning the city from a machine run cash machine for the wealthy and powerful and make it more about a functional community that serves all of the people. Garcia, shedding his jacket spoke to those gathered with a conversational and comfortable sense of urgency.chuy

Garcia, a former Cook County commissioner, proposes a moratorium on TIFs as well as red light cameras. He laid out a plan for revitalizing schools and neighborhoods and discussed his proposal of having a graduated income tax. Taking a longer and broader perspective on the mayoral election by laying out who should represent Chicago over issues such as infrastructure, immigration and even the Latino vote in the South for the 2015 Democratic national convention. Throughout the hour and ten minute long meet and greet Garcia seemed to make a stronger case for small business and working families in stark contrast to the actions and practice of the Mayor.

But the challenge for Garcia may be in simply getting out the vote. Emanuel may be banking on voter apathy, but the key to this election lies in the Hispanic and Black communities, and that’s where Garcia may find his greatest advantage. Emanuel’s weak spot is education and schools, and that’s where Garcia concentrated much of his attention before this mixed audience. Likely this race will end up being between Garcia and Emanuel.

“Why people have given up on public schools,” he said, “we’ve been set up to expect bad schools.”

Emanuel has been abundantly transparent in his support for corporate charter schools to the detriment of public schools, allowing neighborhood schools to wither and die while pouring money and support into charter schools whose records of achievement are arguable. Emanuel closed 50 neglected CPS schools in poor neighborhoods and opened some 50 charter schools in more affluent areas of the city. The loss of a school in a neighborhood means a loss of that neighborhood’s ability to function, support local business, deter crime and generate tax revenue. Garcia is an advocate for public schools.

“I’m a Saint Rita’s boy, I graduated from UIC and was the first in my family to graduate college. I learned to speak English in CPS.”

Emanuel is also vulnerable with Latino and Black voters. Both groups were reluctant to come out for the midterm elections, likely because candidates condescended to or ignored those communities. In short, the candidates offered only more of the same: disenfranchisement, abandonment and disengagement. Of the two, the black vote may be the most difficult, but both communities represent more than 60% of Chicago voters. Garcia expressed a priority in engaging the Latino vote and feels that he is uniquely qualified to make that happen. Apparently so does friend and supporter Karen Lewis.

“Chuy,” Garcia said, relating a conversation with Lewis after her shocking withdrawal from the race over health reasons, “you have to step up and run for mayor…you’re the only person in town that can put together a campaign anywhere in Chicago and make a compelling case. You can campaign in the LGBT community, on the northwest side and southwest side.

Garcia has won a number of other important endorsements including Daily Kos, MoveOn, Latino and Black community leaders, CTU and the CTA’s largest union. This night he was working the room among these grassroots supporters for donations to build a formidable response to Emanuel’s substantial war chest. Every dollar will count as Emanuel taps big-money out of state allies. At the end of the day it’s about getting voters to the ballot box. The key could well be getting out the black and Latino vote, but their distrust of the system has been honed over the years, especially during the Emanuel administration. Is Chuy Garcia the candidate who can rally those communities and get them to the polls? That remains to be seen.

Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. He is currently working on a new book “Shoot Down: An unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com


The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting.[4] Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.

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Tim Meegan, Ward 33; How to Challenge an Incumbunt

This segment of Tim Meegan’s speech at a fundraiser last night does an excellent job of outlining the basic challenges of having a city government run by patronage, dynasty, and nepotism. The event took place at Revolution Brewing’s North Kedzie tap room in Chicago. Tim’s running an amazing campaign and was recently approved to appear on the ballot in this upcoming city election. In addition, the “Elected School Board” ballot question also passed and will appear on the ballot.

Check out our full interview with Tim Meegan to hear a lot more about his thoughts and concerns as a father, a high school teacher (talk about front lines!), and an engaged member of his community.

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URGENT: Please attend CPS “turn around” meetings to support struggling schools

1010928_213106498836621_1949213047_nThe war on teachers and low-income students continues as the CPS proposes to “turn around” three elementary schools next month. This is just more school closings by another name, and continues the aggressive campaign to privatize public education.

Schools targeted include McNair, Dvorak, and Gresham elementary schools, where 97% of the students are African American and low income, and over 50% of the staff is African American. “Turn around” means that ALL of the employees at the school will be laid-off, and the future of the school is handed over to the controversial Academy of Urban School Leadership (AUSL) for the next school year. The AUSL has an inconsistent track record of raising performance, and has close ties to Chicago’s unelected Board of Education.

Please attend these meetings. These schools are being targeted with a strategy of isolation, but we all know that public education and the loss of jobs has a negative effect on our entire city. Please show up to the following meetings and express solidarity with the teachers, parents, and students.

 

Wednesday April 2, 2014 from 6pm-8pm at the schools listed below:

 

April 9th & 10th: Public hearings at CPS’ headquarters:
CPS Central Administration building
125 S. Clark Street, 5th Floor
Chicago, IL 60603
You can also call the Board of Education at (773) 553-1600 and voice your concerns.

 

Further info.:

 

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Interview: What Inspires a Chicago Public School Teacher?

On Saturday, March 15th, 2014, Anne Carlson and Juan Gonzalez of Drummond Thomas Montessori School in Chicago joined us to talk about what inspires them as public school teachers, and why they joined many teachers and parents across Chicago to boycott the ISAT test.

Download the MP3 here.

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Chicago Teachers Union–Sunday’s Segment Notes

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The Beer:

Our Beer of the week was 5 Lizard, Latin-style beer, from a great local brewer, 5 Rabbit.  We have a mouth-watering food pairing with 5 Lizard, just in time for spring outdoor dining???? Or have we just skipped ahead to October?

Our Guest on Sunday’s Show: Jackson Potter, Staff Coordinator for The Chicago Teachers Union

This week Revolution and Beer and Our Town were out covering the teacher’s protest. More than 100 protesters sat down on LaSalle Street in a show of civil disobedience in front of city hall. Revolution and Beer was right up front as the Chicago Police detained and ticketed the protesters. In a statement mayor Rahm Emanuel rebuffed the teachers, parents, union members and students demands to keep more than 50 schools in almost exclusively black and Latino neighborhoods, by saying the decision to close these schools is a “done deal.”

Our guest had a few things to say to the good mayor about that.

Actions:

April 5, this Friday, join us on the Loyola commons when we show support for students and their parents who are facing massive meal hikes (150% increases) on already heavily burdened family and students. Members of “Loyola Organized in Action” is organizing this protest.

Special thanks to David Hatch from the People’s Lobby, Kristi Sanford from A Just harvest, Toby Chow from Fair economy Illinois and Michaela Lovegood from IIRON, joined revolution and Beer yesterday for a taping of our 3rd TV show, which will air end of may, discussing corporate tax cheats and the politicians you love them in Illinois. Thanks to Frank, Bianca, Valentina for the incredible hospitality at Leadway Bar and Grill 5233 North Damen. If you are looking for a cozy hideaway, in a quiet neighborhood, Leadway is the place to be.

Beer and Food:

Featured Beer: On that show we paired our featured beer with the inspired cuisine of Revolution and Beer’s very own Chef, AJ Francisco. From 5 Rabbit brewery in Bedford Park, 5 Lizard Latin-style Witbier, or white beer. We’ve sampled several of 5 Rabbit’s brews, a classy alternative to the common Mexican beers. These beers are made for dining.

A Belgian Style ale that’s very pale and cloudy in appearance due to it being unfiltered Often referred to as “white beers” (witbieren) due to the cloudiness / yeast in suspension. This is made with hints of coriander, lime and passion fruit that paired beautifully with AJ’s 3 Citrus Ceviche, using the Zest & the juice of Lemon, Lime, & Honey Tangerines. Sweet Scallops & fresh Pico de Gallo. The citrus pairs with 5-Lizards coriander essence marvelously.

The 5 Vultures Dark Ale will pair well with an Empanada, made with fresh Chorizo, sweet potato, raisin, & Chipotle chilies with a Roasted Poblano salsa. This bold beer stands up to big flavors.

http://900poundgorilla.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/revolution-and-beerof-the-week-5-lizard-latin-style-witbier-and-bragging-rights/

OCCUPY CHICAGO MAY DAY MARCH!

This May Day, Occupy Chicago asks supporters: Who does the American government work for? Occupy Chicago calls on our brothers and sisters throughout the city to join us on May 1st to stand up against the assaults on the 99%. At 1:00pm on May 1st we will gather at Union Park, Randolph and Ashland. At 2:00pm we will march to Federal Plaza, Dearborn and Jackson. After the march, the group will gather in Federal Plaza, where we will engage in a lively speakout on the struggles of the common worker and who really has the power in this country.

Further Reading:

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