February 2012, Week 4


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Sat, 25 Feb 2012 17:19:16 -0500
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Tidbits - February 25, 2012

- Re: Earth to Labor - Economic Growth Is No Salvation
  (Don Wescher)

- 5 Days for the Cuban 5 in Washington D.C.

- At the Cotton Club, a Bandleader Who Found Fresh Ways
  to Keep the Beat

- Re: You Should Know About The '99% Spring'


- Re: Earth to Labor - Economic Growth Is No Salvation

I share your concerns in your article below and live in
Wisconsin where labor is under severe attack by ALEC
(American Legislative Exchange Council) engineered
policies, so much so that our state has become divided
between union and non-union workers, the latter
resenting the benefits of the former, many of whom are
members of public unions and therefore wages and
benefits come out of tax money. This is also the state
from which Earth Day originated, that influenced me. I
am 71 and have long tried to address the issues you

I also see a key problem as the growing worldwide
inequity due to the lack of regulation in our global
economy which is driven by investors seeking the
highest return for their investments., thus resulting
in a "race to the bottom" regarding wages and
environmental regulation that I am sure you are well
aware of. This problem is further aggravated by the
giant international corporations that have become
monopolistic and also extremely powerful so that is
very difficult for national governments to control
them. The book that most enlightened my consciousness
about this was Dr. David Korten's "When Corporations's
Rule the World" (1995) after he and his wife spent 35
years in underdeveloped countries attempting to raise
the living standards by teaching entrepreneurship to
create more wealth, but they eventually quit repeatedly
seeing these giant corporations come in and wipe the
local economies as Walmart often does, including here.
Korten has also written other books, including his most
recent "Agenda for a New Economy" after our current
recession (his second edition is more detailed in its

As a consequence wealthy investors have profited
greatly at the expense of workers. I have been giving
presentations about the growing divide between the very
rich and the rest of us for about 15 years, and this
has resulted in greater societal breakdown. Another key
book addressing this is "The Spirit Level: Why Greater
Equality Makes Societies Stronger" (2010) by Richard
Wilkinson and Kate Pickett:

They are two British researchers who have spent decades
correlating inequality in over 20 technologically
developed nations and also in the states of the U.S.
with various social problems such as mental illness
(including drug & alcohol addiction), life expectancy,
infant mortality, children's educational performance,
teenage births, homicides, imprisonment rates, social
mobility, levels of trust, and even obesity, and they
found that the more inequality that a society has, the
worse all of these problems are. The U.S. has become
now about the most unequal of the nations they studied,
and their statistical analysis shows such a strong
correlation that inequality almost certainly has a
causative role, and therefore we are paying enormous
social costs because of it. A considerable amount of
their evidence is available on their website

Consider for instance that we have the most people per
capita in prison in the world, and therefore need more
prisons, larger court systems, more police, more
rehabilitation, we have more victims, and we lose the
potential of all of the people in prison to make
positive contributions to society. Then multiply this
by all of the other social problems listed, and thus
you can see why taxes and other social costs go up.

As about half of stocks and bonds are held by the top
1% in the U.S., these enormous gains have accrued
primarily to them and the tax rate has also been
reduced to 15% for capital gains.

As you are also undoubtedly aware of and have addressed
to some extent, some European nations, like Germany,
have done better with addressing some of these issues.
Another classic book is "Small is Beautiful: Economics
as if People Mattered" (1973) by E.F. Schumacher in
which he called for greater public control of
businesses when they get beyond a certain size, i.e.,
"too big to fail" in today's terms. And thus some
nations now have representatives of labor and the
public to oversee the operations of such large
corporations. They have also reduced the working hours
to share work more widely, as technological progress
has reduced the need labor--see chart below: One of the
reasons this disparity has occurred is because of these
other nations generally having national public health
care in contrast to the U.S. where owners prefer to
have their workers do overtime than hiring more workers
and paying them benefits.

Another option is for workers to actually take control
of businesses, e.g., a great model are the highly
successful Mondragon cooperatives in the Basque region
of northern Spain with which the labor unions of U.S.
Steel have signed a collaborative deal in recent years.

Of course, the real question is how to bring any of
this about, given the great influence of money on our
political system here in the U.S. We need to overturn
the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court as
the Move to Amend movement is trying to do. But further
we need public funding of elections and I believe we
ought to have free air time on TV for candidates to
express their views, given the multitude of TV channels
now and paucity of worthwhile content on many of them.
Further the air waves supposedly belong to the public
and TV stations lease them from us so such free air
time could be part of the leasing arrangements and
therefore significantly reduce the cost of public

Don Wescher


International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5


Save the Dates:

5 Days for the Cuban 5 in Washington D.C. guez

In this crucial year for the 5 Cuban Patriots we need
to multiply the actions for their freedom, especially
in the capital of the United States. The International
Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 is making a
call to solidarity organizations and friends in the
U.S. and around the world to support "5 consecutive
days for the Cuban 5".

These actions will take place from April 17-21 in
Washington D.C., and will include:

    Large event with the participation of US and
    international personalities;

    Lobby and delivery of information to members of
    Congress and the U.S. Senate;

    Showing of documentaries in universities and other
    public spaces;

    Media outreach;

    Meeting with religious groups of different
    denominations; and

    Informational tables and cultural activities.

In addition to the activities mentioned above
organizers are planning to place thousands of "Obama
Give me Five" posters at key points in the city and
publish ads in several media outlets.

Get involved by joining this effort to bring awareness
about the case of the cuban 5 in washington d.c.

Some ways to participate in the actions of 5 days for
the Cuban 5:

    Endorse/support the actions by sending the name of
    your organization to [log in to unmask];

    Consider coming to Washington D.C. to participate
    in the actions;

Make a donation. The success of this project depends on
the support of all of you.

Very soon we will send detailed information about each



At the Cotton Club, a Bandleader Who Found Fresh Ways
to Keep the Beat

NY Times February 24, 2012 Television Review



The "American Masters" programs on PBS are almost
always rewarding, but the episode about Cab Calloway on
Sunday night on Channel 13 in New York (and on Monday
night on many other PBS outlets; check local listings)
is unusually so, with smart, well-presented insights
into his music, his dancing, his acting and his
barrier-crossing appeal.

The film, "Cab Calloway: Sketches" by Gail Levin,
jettisons much of what would be in a conventional
biography - we are given only a vague picture of his
early life - and instead focuses on his work as a
bandleader, in savvy but accessible detail. A grandson,
C. Calloway Brooks, explains the unusual Calloway
practice of having the bass play slightly ahead of the
beat, with the drums staying fractionally behind.

"The bass player pulls the whole groove forward," Mr.
Brooks, himself a bandleader, explains. "It gives it
tremendous momentum. A weak drummer would speed up.
They'd say, `Oh, I've got to lock in with the bass
player, so I've got to speed up to get with that bass
player.' But what you have to do is have the strength
to be able to stay in the center of the beat and let
the bass player play in front of the beat."

That was one of the things that gave Calloway, who died
in 1994, a distinctive sound and helped propel him to
success at the Cotton Club in Harlem and, with the
recording of "Minnie the Moocher" in 1931, to national
cult status. Another, of course, was his wildly
energetic scat singing.

"There was nobody in his band who could play out of
their horn more jazz than he could get out of his
throat," Mr. Brooks says.

The film also explores Calloway's crossover appeal in
amusing but forthright detail, with comments about how
his straight hair and relatively light skin tone made
him more acceptable to white audiences of the day. That
made for a certain incongruity when "Minnie the
Moocher," a song with a catchy singalong chorus that
was actually about shady characters, became a national

"When I look back now and think of middle-class whites
hi-de-ho-ing as Cab Calloway's singing about cocaine,
it's like surreal," the critic Gary Giddins says. "How
clueless was white America?"

Ms. Levin wraps the film in a clever device with a
sweet payoff: she periodically shows footage of a
painting of Calloway as it takes shape. At the end, the
painting comes to animated life - a fitting metaphor
for what this film does for Calloway himself.

On Channel 13 on Sunday night at 8; on many other PBS
stations on Monday (check local listings).

Produced by Artline Films, Arte France and Arvo, in
association with Inscape Productions and Thirteen's
"American Masters" for WNET. Directed by Gail Levin;
written by Jean-Fran├žois Pitet and Ms. Levin; Ms.
Levin, executive producer for Inscape Productions;
Olivier Mille, producer for Artline Films; Susan Lacy,
series creator and executive producer of "American

RE: You Should Know About The '99% Spring'

Any effort that includes the Democratic Party (or any
subunit of it) is wasting our time.  They are trying to
co-opt the Occupy Movement, and it astounds me that you
all don't seem to notice or understand the significance
of this.  We have to exclude Democrats very
intentionally in order to make real progress.  Are you
committed to that progress or just jerking us all



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