Economic Activism Opportunities

  • Opposing the TPP On #Climate Grounds via @IATP, @Public_Citizen & @ExposeTheTPP - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached today’s activism segment. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s a reminder that certain awful things don’t go away quickly, so we have to stay vigilant and keep fighting them until we succeed. Today’s update: Opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Climate Grounds.

    While the UN Climate Change Conference continues in Paris this week, we have the opportunity to do some intersectional activism. Trade, labor, climate, health — all these things are always connected; let’s use the spotlight on Paris to remind our legislators how true that is.

    The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy put out their analysis on the TPP and have bullet-pointed three ways it would hurt the climate:

    1 — It expands the rights of corporations to challenge regulations.

    2 — It drives natural gas exports and production.

    3 — Limiting support for local, renewable energy systems.

    Using Public Citizen's action link “Stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership” at Citizen.org, you’ll use your ZIP code to address the auto-fill letter to the correct legislators. Take the time to add “for the climate” to the “Vote no on the TPP” subject line” and include a personal comment in the body of the letter about why you’re against the faux trade deal.

    Don’t forget to post about sending the letter on social media using the #StopTPP hashtag as well as the one being used internationally for the Paris climate talks, #COP21. You can find your legislators’ handles and Facebook pages at ContactingTheCongress.org; and, as always, if you’re feeling motivated, you can get their direct phone line there as well to leave a message saying you’re a constituent who opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    For those who enjoy a good social media campaign, you can also visit ExposeTheTPP.org to add your palm pic to the collection with the reason you oppose the trade deal written across your hand and posed in the fingers-out “Stop” sign.

    Update!

    The TPP is bad for the climate! via "3 Ways the TPP Will Hurt the Climate—If We Let It Pass” at The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

    Follow-up/new Action!

    CONTACT: your legislators about TPP with climate-specific concerns. via Public Citizen

    SHOW why you oppose the TPP on social media via Expose The TPP

    Sources/further reading:

    FOLLOW: #COP21 for updates on the Paris Climate Negotiations

    "It’s Never Been about Trade” via The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #974 "The Trans Pacific Partnership revealed (Corporate Takeover)"

    Revisit the original action/segment: "Stop Fast Track of TransPacific Partnership via @MoveOn” — 02/06/2015

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Stop Fast Track of TransPacific Partnership via @MoveOn — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached today’s activism segment. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s a reminder that certain awful things don’t go away quickly, so we have to stay vigilant and keep fighting them until we succeed. Today’s update: Stop the Fast Track of the Trans Pacific Partnership.

    It appears there is something the president and the GOP-lead Congress can agree is a good idea: ceding our nation’s economic autonomy to an international corporate conglomerate in a trade deal that has been repeatedly called “NAFTA on steroids.”

    As Lori Wallach reported in The Nation back when the TPP first got press almost three years ago, the agreement is essentially an assault on democracy.

    Wallach wrote:

    "Countries would be obliged to conform all their domestic laws and regulations to the TPP’s rules—in effect, a corporate coup d’état. The proposed pact would limit even how governments can spend their tax dollars.”

    The Obama administration has asked Congress to “Fast Track” legislation to approve the trade deal. Fast track authority accelerates the process by which a bill becomes law by preventing amendments and only requiring a majority vote in the senate, rather than the now typical supermajority. Most of the Congressional Democratic Caucus is opposed to Fast Track for the TPP, but there may not be enough republican opposition to prevent it from happening without public outcry — which is going to be hard to drum up because trade deals are BORING.

    Super important and super boring. As our friend Lee Camp says: “boring evil is The Worst.” It’s terrifyingly easy to get things past a busy, struggling or apathetic public when words like “trade deals” and “tax policy” and …. There, see? I’ve lost you.

    The Communication Workers of America are making it easy to care and easy to act. Their petition at MoveOn.org simply says: "Tell Congress: We Can't Afford to Outsource More Jobs.” You can find it at the MoveOn homepage, then just click and sign to tell your representatives you expect them to vote no on Fast Track authority.

    The CWA is also phone banking to let legislators know they oppose thoughtlessly approving a corporate power grab that would eliminate their jobs. If you want to join them, simply dial 855-980-2256 and enter your zip code when prompted. You will be connected to your rep’s staffer to whom you simply say:

    "I'm a constituent and I've had enough of bad trade deals negotiated in secret like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Congress needs to read the deal and not vote to Fast Track it before even knowing what's in it. I urge you to vote no on Fast Track authority for the TPP.”

    Simple. Direct. And, yes, legislators do still keep a record of calls on issues and House members are pretty much already running again and need to listen when you call.

    Opposing Fast Track won’t stop the TPP from eventually becoming law. It will, however, make the process public and lengthier and give less engaged citizens an opportunity to hear about the deal and weigh in. As part of the highly engaged and involved group within the citizenry, it’s basically on us to run around sounding the alarm. Visit MoveOn.org, sign, and then share the petition.

    Update!

    Obama administration asks for fast tracking of TPP: "Democrats oppose Obama's demand for fast-tracking Pacific trade deal” by Siri Srinivas at The Guardian

    Follow-up/new Action!

    SIGN: Tell Congress: We Can't Afford to Outsource More Jobs via MoveOn.org and the CWA

    Sources/further reading:

    ”Tell Your Congress Member: No Fast Track For the TPP!” via the Communications Workers of America

    "NAFTA on Steroids: The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would grant enormous new powers to corporations, is a massive assault on democracy” by Lori Wallach at The Nation

    "The Top Secret Deal Between 11 Countries That Will Affect Your Life" - MOC #186Lee Camp

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #896 "Resisting global corporate takeover (Trans-Pacific Partnership)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Keep #SNAP Strong via @FRACtweets — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Keep SNAP Strong.

    That video from the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities began with the voices of former Senators Bob Dole and George McGovern — the democrat and the republican credited by World Food Program USA as being pioneers in the way food assistance is delivered to those who need it in this country. Their website unequivocally declares:

    "It is no exaggeration to say that every major U.S. program designed to help feed poor children bears the imprint of these two men.”

    How quickly things change.

    As Best of the Left’s Social Media/Activism director Katie Klabusich lays out in a piece for RollingStone, the GOP has spent the past four years proposing 10 year plans to “balance the budget" that cut more than $130 billion from food assistance programs — WIC and SNAP — that Dole and McGovern worked so hard to make more user-friendly and easier to qualify for.

    Why a need to cut approximately “half of one hundredth of one percent” — that’s 0.0085 of one percent — out of a $3.8 trillion federal budget? According to the GOP the answer is priorities and redundancy. Katie, who spent the first six months of this year utilizing SNAP after an unexpected medial bill — an experience she details in the article, makes a good point: 49 million of her is pretty redundant.

    That’s how many people are food insecure in this country. 49 million — or 14% of our population. One in six Americans aren’t living with or in danger of being hungry because of the economy either; the hungry segment of our population really never drops below 11%. This is simply the percentage of our friends, neighbors, and coworkers that we’re willing to live with being hungry as a trade for our capitalist culture.

    Currently, the GOP is in charge of the budget and they're celebrating a drop in SNAP dollars for 2016 — actually due to factors affecting the program's funding calculator like fewer expected enrollees and a break in food inflation — as though they managed to sneak a law past the president that fundamentally undid Dole and McGovern’s legacy. Their intentions are clear by their false premise boasting and their on-the-record long-term budget plans. Now is the time to get involved in the effort to bolster these life-saving programs because they are absolutely at risk.

    The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) is a national organization working to maintain funding for food assistance programs and fill the gaps with private efforts when public money falls short. They have a great Legislative Action Center at FRAC.org where you can track and support or oppose proposed state and federal budget actions.

    At FRAC.org, be sure to sign the "Tell Congress to Keep SNAP Strong” which encourages Congress not just to ditch any notion of cuts, but join with the White House and Progressive Caucus in bolstering life-sustaining access to food.

    You can also share your experiences and amplify others' through a hashtag Katie revived earlier this year: #PovertyIs. The hashtag trended on multiple continents and the stories are powerful. 

    TAKE ACTION:

    Track and support/oppose pending budgetary and program changes to food assistance through Food Research and Action Center’s Legislative Action Center

    SIGN: "Tell Congress to Keep SNAP Strong”

    Sources/further reading:

    "What SNAP Is For” via the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

    "Honoring the Legacy of Senators Bob Dole and George McGovern” via World Food Program USA

    "Republicans Are Trying to Take Food Out of My Mouth” by Katie Klabusich at RollingStone

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #941 "Taking food out of the mouths of babes (Poverty)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Public Banking via @PublicBanksNow & @DemocracyCollab — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Public Banking.

    Neither the concept of pooling money to benefit a larger community nor the notion of holding that money in a publicly owned and run institution is novel. We collect taxes to fund schools and roads — projects we couldn’t accomplish individually — and the state of North Dakota has operated its own financial institution for nearly a century. So why is Bismarck, ND the only place in the country with a publicly owned bank?

    The movement to expand public banking is gaining momentum. Gus Alperovitz — the economist behind The New System Project we featured just a few weeks ago — described what has created renewed interest in founding more public banks in an op-ed for Bill Moyers:

    “[R]ecognition is also growing of the undue influence that private corporate finance — tied to Wall Street rather than anchored to Main Street — has on our communities. Most Americans understand that regulation can only go so far and that it has a tendency to unravel in the face of corporate pressure…[S]tarting at the local level, 'public banking' and related strategies seek to transform the current system toward one in which banking is managed as a public utility rather than a global casino where taxpayers pick up the tab for private losses.”

    Banking as a "public utility" — a public good — rather than a playground for the uber rich could quickly revolutionize who has access to capital for starting businesses, buying homes, and funding worthwhile projects that benefit entire communities. We already know that locally spent dollars fuel local economies; public banks work in a similar way by not funneling a percentage of the tax dollars housed in those institutions off to the CEOs of Wells Fargo and Citibank.

    Efforts are underway in Sante Fe, New Mexico and the state of Vermont to found public banks. The Vermont plan would authorize up to 10% of the state’s cash balance — approximately $350 million — to be available for investment in local enterprise. Imagine what that could do for a state with just 600,000 people?

    If this concept is exciting to you, the Public Banking Institute is looking for volunteers, members for their chapters in more than 20 cities across the country, and support for local initiatives in Santa Fe, Philadelphia, Seattle, Vermont and California. Visit PublicBankingInstitute.org and click on the “Take Action” tab for volunteer opportunities, events, and info to share on your networks.

    Then, keep an eye out for more from The Next System Project, which The Public Banking Institute partners on, and new ways to get involved with reclaiming public assets for public use.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Get involved with The Public Banking Institute by:

    Supporting a Local Initiative, Volunteering, and/or Joining a Chapter!

    Sources/further reading:

    "Inequality’s Dead End — And the Possibility of a New, Long-Term Direction” by Gar Alperovitz of The Democracy Collaborative

    "Vermont Votes for Public Banking” by John Nichols at The Nation

    "Public banking debate starts in Santa Fe” at Albuquerque Journal

    "Public Banking Institute a Partner to a New Project on Economic Alternatives” via The Public Banking Institute

    WATCH: "National Launch Webinar: The Next System Project

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #928 "The criminal enterprise that runs our politics (Big Banks)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • .@TheNextSystem Project- National Launch Webinar - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: The Next System Project: National Launch Webinar.

    It’s becoming increasingly clear that the capitalist, boot-strap, American Dream mythology basis of the way we live and interact with each other simply isn’t sustainable. But a few minutes thinking about how to reverse the ship or even rebuild the ship from scratch is pretty overwhelming.

    Luckily, the folks at The Next System Project are doing the heavy lifting and they’re inviting you to join in as they imagine and design a better, more sustainable way of life. A project of the Democracy Collaborative, they describe their undertaking this way:

    "The Next System Project is an ambitious multi-year initiative aimed at thinking boldly about what is required to deal with the systemic challenges the United States faces now and in coming decades.”

    You can register for the introductory, interactive national launch webinar on Wednesday, May 20th at 3pmEST moderated by GritTV’s Laura Flanders. I’m tuning in and Katie will be livetweeting through the @BestoftheLeft Twitter feed using the #WhatsNext hashtag. If you heard the clip of The Next System Project on the show a couple months ago and were intrigued, but full of questions, this is your chance to ask them.

    Get registered at “launch.thenextsystem.org” and mark your calendars!

    TAKE ACTION:

    WATCH The Next System Project National Launch Webinar moderated by Laura Flanders of GritTV

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #922 "A crisis of culture (Capitalism)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Starting and supporting worker co-ops via @Dematwork — BotL Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Starting and supporting worker co-ops.

    We think we believe in democracy and yet most of us spend eight hours — or, if we’re realistic, more than that — working under a dictatorship. Sure, thanks to the labor movement we have some loosely guarded rights and guarantees, but working for a business or a corporation, or even just a small business owner, essentially means serving at their pleasure.

    Unless you’re part of a worker co-op.

    Worker co-ops have been around basically forever, but just don’t get the kind of attention they should because our corporate media banks on the capitalist system we’re all beholden to. They give all the rights and power to the actual human beings who provide the labor and thus create the wealth. Novel concept: you build it, you benefit from it.

    The US Federation of Worker Cooperatives describe co-ops as “business entities that are owned and controlled by their members, the people who work in them.” They have two central characteristics: "(1) worker-members invest in and own the business together, and it distributes surplus to them and (2) decision-making is democratic, adhering to the general principle of one member-one vote.”

    Sounds great, right? If it sounds complicated to join or start, remember it’s an entire system we’re trying to bring down, here. A little work is going to be involved and luckily you don’t have to figure it out or do it on your own.

    The Democracy at Work Institute was created by the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives to help build co-ops especially in economically and socially marginalized communities by providing support, strategy, and relationship building.

    Their website — Institute.USWorker.coop — has resources for start-ups including frequently asked questions, 101-level presentations, questions to ask before meeting with legal counsel, guidelines, financing fundamentals, studies, and step-by-step guides. For those interested in joining rather than starting a coop, their home page also links to a searchable list of existing worker coops by state and industry and has a form for submitting additions to their database. You can find childcare, bakeries, breweries, massage centers, landscaping companies, eco-cleaners — almost any business you can think of is being run by workers in some part of the country.

    California has a bill worth supporting in the state legislature right now that would make worker coops easier to start and run. The "CA Worker Cooperative Act,” AB 816, clarifies existing law and broadens protections while creating more visibility for worker coops and providing a framework for developing new coops in the state. With nearly 40 million residents — more than 10% of the total U.S. population — and a variety of industries including many that traditionally disempower workers like agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing, California is a great testing ground for this legislation. If it can be successful there, it not only helps a whole lot of people, it can become model legislation for other states and possibly the federal government.

    You can sign the petition to support AB 816 at TheSELC.org under their "About Us, Advocacy" tab — or just click the link in the segment notes.

    If we’re going to change the system, we need to build working grassroots examples of alternatives. So, support the legislation in California and use the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives listing of worker-owned business to support the ones in your area.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Get involved with The Democracy at Work Institute, US Federation of Worker Cooperatives

    Utilize the Democracy at Work Institute “Information for Start-ups”

    SIGN to support: CA AB 816: Worker Cooperative Act via The SELC

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Use the collaborative legal resource e-library created by the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) and the Green-Collar Communities Clinic (GC3) Co-opLaw.org

    Attend one of the conferences with the National Center For Employee Ownership

    Sources/further reading:

    "What is a Worker Cooperative?” via The US Federation of Worker Cooperatives

    Read the full bill: "AB-816 Cooperative corporations: worker cooperatives”

    "CA Worker Coop Act Discussion” via The SELC

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #914 "Looking for something better (Capitalism)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Protest Black Friday - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Protest Black Friday.

    Happy Height of Capitalism Season! …or, happy holiday season, depending on your degree of festiveness. This is the time of year where we regularly hear of people getting trampled at Wal-Mart in the desperate rush to procure the item television advertising executives declare is the must-have, no-way-you-can-live-without-it gift.

    Low-wage workers must report for duty while the CEOs and high level managers who demand their stores open on Thanksgiving and Black Friday are home with their loved ones. This annual injustice has expanded so much over the past decade that the only thing left is for stores to be open 24-hours from Thanksgiving morning through the end of Black Friday.

    Luckily, there’s a super easy thing everyone listening can do to support the workers and stop further capitalist encroachment into our holidays: nothing. Really — you can just do nothing.

    Buy Nothing Day is an international day of protest against consumerism. Adbusters is promoting Buy Nothing Day with the hashtag #BND and asking people to “participate by not participating.” Just stay home. Don’t go shopping; don’t cross picket lines of striking workers. Simply opt-out of the post-turkey dash for deals. Let family and friends you hear discussing their plans to shop on Friday, November 28th know that you’re parking it on your couch with a movie or a book. Possibly even invite them to join you.

    Stores and malls are only opening Friday at dawn — some on Thanksgiving Day even — because people show up to shove each other out of the way in the hopes of saving 10% on a widget no one will remember was a thing by the time the snow melts. By not participating, you make it expensive for stories to open early, close late, and schedule extra staff.

    If you are moved to fight the tryptophan coma and get up off the couch, you can attend a Walmart Black Friday Protest — organized at BlackFridayProtests.org and under the hashtag “Walmart Strikers.” There are events happening all over the country in support of more than 2000 stores where workers are demanding a $15/hr living wage.

    Obviously, abstaining entirely from the annual purchasing bonanza is a tough ask that can go over like a stocking full of lead in some families. So, if you do plan to do a bit of the traditional holiday gift buying — perhaps on Cyber Monday, which is December 1st this year — don’t forget you can redirect a portion of corporate profits into supporting the production of this show through our Amazon link: http://www.bestoftheleft.com/amazon.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Participate by not participating: Buy Nothing Day #BND via Adbusters

    Follow and support Walmart Strikers via #WalmartStrikers on Twitter and Black Friday Protests

    Sources/further reading:

    "Sit-Down Strike at Walmart and Win? It's Been Done” via Huffington Post

    "Letter: Working and middle class should support fast food workers” via Fight For $15

    "Poll: Should retailers remain open on Thanksgiving?” with Steven Greenhouse on PBS Newshour

    Watch: "This Black Friday, Workers to Challenge the Waltons” via OUR Walmart

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #879 "Capitalism will not set you free (Economics)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich