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Corporate chain retailers homogenize communities, taking what was once local money and transforming it into corporate revenue. Supporting locally owned businesses does not only preserve communities—it makes the difference between local economic growth and fueling corporate greed.


For every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $45 remains in the local economy. If this money is spent at a big-box mart or chain store, only $14 remains while the rest is redistributed at corporate headquarters. This works because local businesses typically follow what has become known as the “local multiplier effect”—instead of outsourcing labor and redirecting profits to the corporate machine, local business owners invest in local labor and keep their profits in the local economy.

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Imagine how much harder the last three years would have been without the safeguards erected over the past 80 years, in many cases with bipartisan support. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance are the broadest, but there are also the programs specifically targeted toward low-income Americans: the earned income tax credit, community health centers, school lunch programs, and food stamps, to name a few.


These policies have two things in common. They’ve historically enjoyed high levels of support, not just from the Democratic Party, but from Republicans as well. And today’s GOP plans to dismantle or seriously weaken all of them, setting back almost a century of progress.

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“According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a higher percentage of Americans is living in extreme poverty than they have ever measured before. In 2010, we were told that the economy was recovering, but the truth is that the number of the “very poor” soared to heights never seen previously. Back in 1993 and back in 2009, the rate of extreme poverty was just over 6 percent, and that represented the worst numbers on record. But in 2010, the rate of extreme poverty hit a whopping 6.7 percent. That means that one out of every 15 Americans is now considered to be “very poor”. For many people, this is all very confusing because their guts are telling them that things are getting worse and yet the mainstream media keeps telling them that everything is just fine. Hopefully this article will help people realize that the plight of the poorest of the poor continues to deteriorate all across the United States. In addition, hopefully this article will inspire many of you to lend a hand to those that are truly in need.”
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The pressure from Occupy Wall Street on the big banks, combined with organizing efforts from many progressive groups, including New Bottom Line, Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Rebuild the Dream, put some significant force behind the actions this weekend. Several people who moved their money shared their experiences with me.

“Once I started getting involved in Occupy Wall Street, I became much more conscious of my corporate consumption. I realized that some of the financial choices I had made without thinking — without even realizing they were choices — were, in fact, pro-neoliberal political decisions. Then I decided it was time to reverse some of those decisions,” Ned Resnikoff, a graduate student in CUNY’s Labor Studies department, told me.

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The New Bottom Line reports that in California alone there are 2,107,984 mortgages underwater. Many of those drowning in debt and in danger of losing their homes are our union members. When our building trades leaders say that 40% of their members are on the bench they are talking about the 40% of their members most likely to face foreclosure. The link can be graphically made between unemployment and foreclosure by using our hiring halls for mortgage workshops and mobilizing centers for home defense. The dispatcher announces to the hall: “If you do not go out on a job you go out to a home defense”


Recently in San Pedro I sat in on a meeting between ACCE and the leadership of our powerful longshore Local 13 whose members work the Ports of LA and Long Beach. Many of our members are not getting their hours and are underwater. ACCE offered to do a mortgage workshop and home defense seminar at the union hall. That will lead to education and inevitably action on the streets. One of our Local 13 members already joined ACCE because they worked with him to save his house. The “job tape” which tells our members in a recording about the prospect for work on the coming shifts can also announce the latest home defense in the area.

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“That’s one of the things, debt really does tie the 99 percent together. Everyone who is under the 99 percentile saw a debt runup in the 2000s,” Mike Konczal, finance blogger and fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, told me. “You can talk about ‘the richest 1 percent makes this much money,’ but part of what they’re making is debt. Their wealth is a claim on everyone else’s future income.”

That debt was for many years a substitute for wages in the pockets of many Americans. As incomes stagnated or even shrank, credit cards and home equity filled the gap—until the housing bubble popped, leaving millions underwater on their mortgages, owing more than their homes were worth, and unable to get more credit cards or even make the minimum payments on the ones they had.

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There’s no doubt that this economy is especially grim for young people. Unemployment among young adults continues to hover around 18 percent, and a report by the Federal Reserve found that full-time undergraduate students are borrowing 63 percent more for school than they did a decade ago. (Outstanding student-loan debt broke the trillion-dollar mark for the first time this year.) Young people have few prospects for decent jobs. This bleak situation is clearly a driving factor behind the emergence of the Occupy Wall Street movement; studies suggest that the “occupiers” skew young, don’t have a lot of income and suffer from a much higher rate of unemployment than the country as a whole.


The Pew study’s main finding is that, “in 2009, households headed by adults ages 65 and older possessed 42% more median net worth (assets minus debt)” than they did in 1984, but that trend was reversed in younger households. In 2009, “households headed by adults younger than 35 had 68% less wealth than households of their same-aged counterparts had in 1984.”

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You really have to start with the money. The labor side has raised more than $30 million. It has momentum going for so long because it had to start by collecting signatures to put the issue on the ballot to begin with. To get those signatures, it had to really amass a wide network of volunteers. Many of those volunteers stayed on once it was on the ballot and time to campaign for repeal of the bill itself. With that money and volunteer base and momentum, the labor coalition has been able to set up an expansive network of field offices and operations and has really focused on direct voter contact for months: door knocking, lots of phone banks, et cetera. The media face of its campaign has by and large been firefighters, police officers and teachers.

There’s a stark contrast between how the two sides are running their campaigns. We Are Ohio, the labor group, is sticking to public workers and not using the traditional tactic of having politicians out front. The primary pitchman for the pro-Issue 2 side is the governor, John Kasich. He’s been crisscrossing the state and has been the featured speaker at seemingly dozens of traditional political rallies

5 Things You Should Know About Tuesday’s Vote on Ohio’s Anti-Union Bill (Labor’s Winning) | | AlterNet

Don’t mess with teachers and firefighters—and also, look what happens when you put the police on the side of working people. 

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A moral economy for our own time would certainly take on the unbridled accumulation of wealth at the expense of the majority (and the planet). It would also single out for special condemnation the creation of an ever-larger stratum of people we call “the poor” who struggle to survive in the shadow of the overconsumption and waste of that top 1%.

Some facts: early in 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 14.3% of the population, or 47 million people — one in six Americans — were living below the official poverty threshold, currently set at $22,400 annually for a family of four. Some 19 million people are living in what is called extreme poverty, which means that their household income falls in the bottom half of those considered to be below the poverty line. More than a third of those extremely poor people are children. Indeed, more than half of all children younger than six living with a single mother are poor. Extrapolating from this data, Emily Monea and Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution estimate that further sharp increases in both poverty and child poverty rates lie in our American future.

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“I interviewed one of Olsen’s friends, Aaron Hinde, also an Iraq War veteran. He was at Occupy San Francisco when he started getting a series of frenzied tweets about a vet down in Oakland. Hinde raced to the hospital to see his friend. He later told me a little about him: “Scott came to San Francisco about three months ago from Wisconsin, where he actually participated in the holding of the State Capitol over there. Scott’s probably one of the warmest, kindest guys I know. He’s just one of those people who always has a smile on his face and never has anything negative to say. … And he believed in the Occupy movement, because it’s very obvious what’s happening in this country, especially to us veterans. We’ve had our eyes opened by serving and going to war overseas. So, there’s a small contingency of us out here, and we’re all very motivated and dedicated.””