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Starry Messenger

Profile Information

Name: Decline to State
Gender: Female
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
Home country: USA
Current location: Left Coast
Member since: Sat Apr 9, 2005, 08:01 PM
Number of posts: 32,339

About Me

Artist, high school teacher and "hard-liner" (yet to be defined).

Journal Archives

New labor SuperPAC jumps into the political field


Labor's new SuperPAC will be called Workers' Voice, the AFL-CIO announced this week. The labor movement says it formed the SuperPac not because it expects, like the corporate SuperPacs, to be able to raise billions of dollars for political campaigns but because it will allow unions to bring their program to non-union members.

Workers' Voice, the new union SuperPAC, has an initial warchest of $5.4 million, according to the AFL-CIO. It will "activate and energize networks of working families -- both union and non-union -- around political campaigns, legislative issues and holding elected officials accountable," said the labor federation in a statement.

Workers' Voice is the first entry by anyone other than large corporations into a political field of SuperPACs awash in corporate campaign cash thus far funneled into campaign operations with little or no disclosure or accountability. The SuperPACs were made possible by the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling two years ago.


Workers' Voice will focus on social networking on issues, on voter registration and protection, and on get-out-the-vote efforts, she said. "It will be dedicated to helping communities of color, seniors, and students exercise their right to participate in the process," Shuler added.

Link to join Worker's Voice: http://www.workersvoice.org/

Like 'em on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WorkersVoice

Posted by Starry Messenger | Sun Apr 15, 2012, 11:58 AM (2 replies)

Older Women Struggle to Make Ends Meet


The report compares income, not including food stamps or help with utility bills, to very basic monthly expenses for housing, food, transportation and health care. For a single person, this Elder Economic Security Standard Index, developed by Wider Opportunities for Women, estimates an annual income of $19,000 to $28,000, depending on whether they own their homes outright, rent or pay a mortgage. For married couples, the necessary income to cover basic expenses ranges from $29,500 to $39,000.

More than half the nation’s elderly do not make enough. But women, who typically outlive men, are more vulnerable. Nearly half of white women, 61 percent of Asian women and three-quarters of black and Hispanic women have incomes that fall below the Elder Index levels. Men 65 or older report incomes that are almost 75 percent higher than women’s.

“Occupational segregation, pay inequity and care-giving responsibilities all contribute to women’s reduced earnings during their working-age years and diminished capacity for saving,” the report says.


“A staggering majority of older women in America can’t afford to cover their most basic expenses,” said Donna Addkison, the president of Wider Opportunities for Women. “This is the startling reality facing countless older women around the country and a harsh eye-opener for working women and families who are saving for retirement today.”

Posted by Starry Messenger | Thu Mar 29, 2012, 10:49 PM (17 replies)

Happy St. Patrick's Day to Socialist Progressives.


Ryan vividly sketches his struggles. Born in Ulster in the same year as Comrade Lenin, “Connolly was ‘dragged up’ like most proletarian boys. . . . Of his parents we know little beyond the fact that the father was a labourer. . . . In 1880 Connolly’s family became exiles and arrived in Edinburgh, where his father obtained work as a corporation dustman. James became a printer’s devil in the office of the local Evening News. He was then under legal age, but his employer for a year defeated the law . . .” Then the sack. “But he was lucky enough to find work soon afterwards in a bakery . . . later . . . two years in a mosaic tiling factory. . .” The company of his uncle, an old Fenian, kept vivid in his memory the glamour and agony of the national struggle. Mitchel, too, he read, and much Irish history. Brooding, intense, silent, outwardly cold and inwardly aflame, a spirit of adventure called him to new scenes. Leaving Edinburgh at eighteen, Connolly was in turn tramp, navvy and pedlar, spending a roving and eventful life in different parts of Britain. He was married in Perth at the age of twenty-one. “An accident to his father recalled him to Edinburgh. His parent was permanently disabled, and James Connolly took up his work as dustman in the cleansing department of the corporation. . . . But many tomes of ancient and modern history had he handled, the revolutionary phases of Irish history in particular . . . Marx, Engels . . . Association with British Socialists, Morris, Hyndman, Leslie . . . Then to Dublin in 1896 as Socialist agitator, and to start the Irish Socialist Republican Party and edit its organ The Workers’ Republic. Revolt against the Boer war . . . Anti-Jubilee Empire Demonstration . . . writing Labour in Irish History . . . . representative of the Irish S.P. at the International Socialist Congress in 1900 . . . In at the split of the S.D.F. in 1903, and the formation of the Socialist Labour Party in line with De Leon. Later in that year he departed for America. Back again in 1910. . . . The Organisation of the I.T.W.U. . . . The great industrial revolt of 1913. . . . The final martyrdom after Easter week, 1916.”

Here was no complacent trade union leader, but a working-class warrior with heart aflame. What could be the use of talking about the philosophy of gradualism to this man steeped in revolutionary lore and compelled to do battle at every step? Once the goal of social revolution becomes his consuming aim, and he has grasped the Marxist method of reading history, his evolution towards Leninism becomes a certainty as the years sweep us onward towards the great crisis of 1914. His divergence from the Kautskys lies in the revolutionary purpose. They had no revolutionary purpose, but turned Marxism into a fatalism which saw Socialism emerging through the gradual transformation of capitalism. What to them was a paralysing blow was to Connolly the great opportunity. Ryan’s account of the effect of the imperialist war on Connolly reads like Zinovieff’s account of its effect upon Lenin. “His whole being cried out against it, and where Lenin called for the transformation of the imperial war into the civil war of the classes, Connolly called the subject nation of Ireland to war upon the Empire.”

We shall continue in season and out of season to teach that “the far-flung battle line” of England is weakest at the point nearest its heart, that Ireland is in that position of tactical advantage that a defeat of England in India, Egypt, the Balkans or Flanders would not be so dangerous to the British Empire as conflict of armed forces in Ireland, that the time for Ireland’s battle is now, the place for Ireland’s battle is here.

James Connolly, Presente!
Posted by Starry Messenger | Sat Mar 17, 2012, 02:25 PM (9 replies)

March 14--Karl Marx Memorial Day

Died on this day in history, March 14 1883.

If we have chosen the position in life in which we can most of all work for mankind, no burdens can bow us down, because they are sacrifices for the benefit of all; then we shall experience no petty, limited, selfish joy, but our happiness will belong to millions, our deeds will live on quietly but perpetually at work, and over our ashes will be shed the hot tears of noble people.

Marx, Letter to His Father (1837)

Posted by Starry Messenger | Wed Mar 14, 2012, 03:20 PM (0 replies)

You can't keep a good man down--Karl Marx in news stories lately

Grantham wonders if Marx was right after all

“Capitalism,” he writes, “threatens our existence.”

Already, capitalism is proving that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were at least partially correct. They “looked forward to globalization and the supranational company because they argued it would make capitalism even more powerful, overreaching, and eventually reckless,” Grantham writes.

Globalization “would ... offer the capitalists more rope to hang themselves with ... rope ... bought from briskly competing capitalists, eager till the end for a good deal.”


• It’s about profit, not people: “Capitalism in general has no sense of ethics or conscience. Whatever the Supreme Court may think, it is not a person.”

He concluded however that workers will never rise up because robots will eventually take over the workforce (!?). I guess the rest of us just disappear or something, lol. Good luck with that Grantham.


Foxconn Raises Pay: Karl Marx Explains Why

And it is at this point that we can turn to Marx for our explanation.

The Bearded One pointed out that employers will pay as little as they can to their labour. He also pointed out that this was limited by the availability of workers. If there was that large reserve army of the unemployed then capitalists could pay very little for labour. Anyone agitating for a greater share of the profits could simply be fired and replaced.

He also pointed out that when there is no such reserve army then employers will have to bid up wages to attract the labour they desire. Yes, capitalists are in competition with each other for access to the labour they require to make profits. So, as productivity rises, as the reserve army shrinks, then wages for workers will improve as capitalists attempt to hire the workforce they desire.

He notes that labour productivity rose by 10 per cent annually from 2000 to 2010, about the same level as wages increased.

Quite: as labour productivity has increased, as the hundreds of millions of unemployed and under-employed rural peasants have found urban jobs or just improved conditions in the country side so a labour shortage has developed and thus companies must bid up wages to get the workers they want.

I’m not quite a Marxist, in the sense that I don’t believe that everything is about economics. But I would certainly plump for an economic rather than political reason for these pay rises. It’s not the calls for everyone to be nicer that are raising wages, it’s that there’s no reserve army of the unemployed left and thus wages are being bid up for purely economic reasons.

If the author doesn't think "everything is about economics", I wonder why he is writing for Forbes...maybe he wandered in by accident? And he hasn't heard the good news about the robot armies.

Karl Marx is never going to provide therapy for bankers


We're all used to hearing that old dinner-party refrain about how, despite it being a great idea in theory, communism would be impossible to implement in practice. In his Radio 4 series last year the philosopher John Gray argued something similar, observing that, although Marx was right in predicting that capitalism would eventually undermine the middle-class lifestyle, thus descending ever more of us ("the 99%" into wage slavery, he was "wrong about communism".

This is typical of the liberal-conservative view of Marx. For reformers such as Roubini, Marx was right – just not completely right. His stark truth that "history is class struggle" is deemed sufficiently provocative to make us stare down into the abyss of a precarious future with no steady income and zero social security. But having stared, we should have the good sense to step back and retrace our path somewhere else, toward a more "responsible capitalism", or toward what David Cameron calls "capitalism with a conscience". Or even (in the words of Bill Gates, another capitalist "reformer" toward a more "creative capitalism". In any case, so the opinion goes, we should take Marx seriously, not by advocating proletarian revolution, but by heeding the doom-laden warnings of the Communist Manifesto in which, "all that is solid melts into air". In this sense Marx is like the Ghost of Christmas Future, conjuring up nightmarish visions of what society will become if we don't mend our ways.

This commonsense interpretation may sound morally convincing. However, it is at odds with everything Marx actually wrote.

In Marx's early writings in particular, communism is not capitalism's evil twin. Nor is it the utopian promise of a brighter tomorrow. "Communism", writes a young Marx in 1845 "is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things."


Actually an interesting article that got pitilessly red-baited in the comments.

Posted by Starry Messenger | Wed Mar 7, 2012, 03:36 PM (8 replies)

Albany charter cash cow: Big banks making a bundle on new construction as schools bear the cost


Wealthy investors and major banks have been making windfall profits by using a little-known federal tax break to finance new charter-school construction.

The program, the New Markets Tax Credit, is so lucrative that a lender who uses it can almost double his money in seven years.


Under the New Markets program, a bank or private equity firm that lends money to a nonprofit to build a charter school can receive a 39% federal tax credit over seven years.


By combining the various credits with the interest from the loan itself, a lender can almost double his investment over the seven-year period.

No wonder JPMorgan Chase announced this week it was creating a new $325 million pool to invest in charter schools and take advantage of the New Markets Tax Credit.

So glad all that bailout money is going to a good cause. While winkling away houses of their parents, banks will be getting into the school real estate biz, you know, for kids. If you can demonize teachers and bring in TFA as short-timers to erase organized pressure against these tactics, why, you've got yourself quite the little scheme going there.
Posted by Starry Messenger | Sun Mar 4, 2012, 06:03 PM (5 replies)

How Slavery Led to Modern Capitalism: Echoes


The story we tell about slavery is almost always regional, rather than national. We remember it as a cruel institution of the southern states that would later secede from the Union. Slavery, in this telling, appears limited in scope, an unfortunate detour on the nation's march to modernity, and certainly not the engine of American economic prosperity.

Yet to understand slavery's centrality to the rise of American capitalism, just consider the history of an antebellum Alabama dry-goods outfit called Lehman Brothers or a Rhode Island textile manufacturer that would become the antecedent firm of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Reparations lawsuits (since dismissed) generated evidence of slave insurance policies by Aetna and put Brown University and other elite educational institutions on notice that the slave-trade enterprises of their early benefactors were potential legal liabilities. Recent state and municipal disclosure ordinances have forced firms such as JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wachovia Corp. to confront unsettling ancestors on their corporate family trees.

Such revelations are hardly surprising in light of slavery’s role in spurring the nation’s economic development. America's "take-off" in the 19th century wasn't in spite of slavery; it was largely thanks to it. And recent research in economic history goes further: It highlights the role that commodified human beings played in the emergence of modern capitalism itself

I was rather surprised to see this in Bloomberg. The whole thing is a good read, and the book coming out next year looks interesting too. I wonder if it will cite any of Marx & Engels on slavery and capitalism? I would be doubly surprised if they did, but I'm not sure how they could avoid doing so:

Indeed, the oligarchy of three hundred thousand slaveholders utilised the Congress of Montgomery not only to proclaim the separation of the South from the North. It exploited it at the same time to reshape the internal constitutions of the slave states, to subjugate completely the section of the white population that had still preserved some independence under the protection and the democratic Constitution of the Union. Between 1856 to 1860 the political spokesmen, jurists, moralists and theologians of the slaveholders' party had already sought to prove, not so much that Negro slavery is justified, but rather that colour is a matter of indifference and the working class is everywhere born to slavery.

One sees, therefore, that the war of the Southern Confederacy is in the true sense of the word a war of conquest for the spread and perpetuation of slavery. The greater part of the border states and Territories are still in the possession of the Union, whose side they have taken first through the ballot-box and then with arms. The Confederacy, however, counts them for the "South" and seeks to conquer them from the Union. In the border states which the Confederacy has occupied for the time being, it is holding the relatively free highlands in check by martial law. Within the actual slave states themselves it is supplanting the hitherto existing democracy by the unrestricted oligarchy of three hundred thousand slaveholders.


What would in fact take place would be not a dissolution of the Union, but a reorganisation of it, a reorganisation on the basis of slavery, under the recognised control of the slaveholding oligarchy. The plan of such a reorganisation has been openly proclaimed by the principal speakers of the South at the Congress of Montgomery and explains the paragraph of the new Constitution which leaves it open to every state of the old Union to join the new Confederacy. The slave system would infect the whole Union. In the Northern states, where Negro slavery is in practice unworkable, the white working class would gradually be forced down to the level of helotry. This would fully accord with the loudly proclaimed principle that only certain races are capable of freedom, and as the actual labour is the lot of the Negro in the South, so in the North it is the lot of the German and the Irishman, or their direct descendants.

The present struggle between the South and North is, therefore, nothing but a struggle between two social systems, the system of slavery and the system of free labour. The struggle has broken out because the two systems can no longer live peacefully side by side on the North American continent. It can only be ended by the victory of one system or the other.

Posted by Starry Messenger | Thu Jan 26, 2012, 10:55 AM (0 replies)

Paul Robeson--"A socialist society represents an advance to a higher stage of life!"

http://rosicrucian1970.blogspot.com/2012/01/paul-robeson-socialist-society.html (my blog)

Robeson rose to international prominence as a premier singer and actor, breaking the race barrier in acclaimed appearances all over the world. However, his early life experiences with racism and labor injustice impelled him to fight in even wider arenas than the theater. In his biography titled Here I Stand, Robeson cites the words of abolitionist Wendell Potter, “...I would come to learn in my own way, the great truth he spoke of when, after chattel slavery was abolished, he joined the fight for Labor’s emancipation: 'When I want to find the vanguard of the people I look to the uneasy dreams of an aristocracy and find what they dread most.’” (Paul Robeson, Here I Stand, 1958)

If you'd like to check it out, more at the link.

Posted by Starry Messenger | Sat Jan 7, 2012, 01:04 PM (5 replies)

A blow struck for education in Chile by the left.

I know some have been following the work of Camila Vallejo, the youthful and extraordinary leftist student leader in Chile. Yesterday, the Chilean education secretary stepped down under pressure from massive protests that began last year. Evidently she is not the leader of the Federation of Chilean Students anymore, but I think we can credit this to the foundations she laid. (More on her here, video: http://www.reuters.com/video/2011/12/20/the-guardian-readers-vote-chiles-student?videoId=227188165)

Chile Education Minister Felipe Bulnes resigns

Student leader Camila Vallejo told Radio Cooperativa that the change showed the "desperation" of the government, which had not been able to address the problems in Chile's education system.

The campaign for educational reform is the biggest protest movement Chile has seen since the return to democracy in 1990.

Protests have subsided in recent weeks as Chile entered the summer holiday period.

But the new leader of the Federation of Chilean Students, Gabriel Boric, has promised that demonstrations will resume in March using new tactics.

Since the US was responsible for importing privatization of education into Chile in the first place, and are trying to replicate the same model here*, it is good to see that a coalition people's front can shake the 1%er profit-based education schemes.

*(http://willyloman.wordpress.com/2010/10/03/waiting-for-superman-neoliberal-propaganda-marketing-pinochets-school-system-to-the-american-left/--a long read but good overview of the state of corporate education "reform" in the US and how it is connected to Chile)

Posted by Starry Messenger | Fri Dec 30, 2011, 04:42 PM (2 replies)


Text of the script.
Posted by Starry Messenger | Mon Dec 26, 2011, 08:41 PM (0 replies)
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