UFE's E-News September 2008

IN THIS ISSUE:

 

Article One

Wall Street Bailout Update: Now A Major Opportunity to Start Rebuilding a Fair Economy

As we write this, Congress is gearing up for another vote on the bailout – as early as tonight! On Monday, they heard a clear, "No!" But based on the proposals being aired this morning, they didn't get the rest of the message.

We think the message is to scrap the whole idea of a bailout and take the opportunity to put in place an economic recovery plan built around the important progressive rule changes we want to see.

UFE would like to see a plan that:

• Reinvests in communities and small businesses.
• Returns us to better regulation and accountability in the financial industry.
• Effectively caps CEO pay.
• Truly addresses the housing crisis for individuals and communities, especially communities of color that have been hardest hit.
• Protects any taxpayer investment.

Please think about what concrete things you want and call both your Senators and your Rep. And especially today, make sure that Congressional staffers listen to your specific concerns.

Read a summary of liberal and conservative objections to the bill.

See the Common Sense Conditions endorsed by UFE and many of our allies.

Find more resources on our website.

Call Congress today: toll-free 800-830-5738 or 202-224-3121.

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Article Two

Rule Changes: First Wall Street, Then...

We hope national outrage will lead to new rules on Wall Street. But that should be only the beginning. We need to use this momentum to push for new rules in all kinds of boardrooms across the country.

Just like with Wall Street, we can't leave it up to the usual suspects to decide on their own what the new rules will be. Unfettered greed and irresponsible management have flourished because there is no accountability by big corporations to the larger society.

We need to make the changes we have been waiting for. We need to demand rules that align with our values and begin to force large corporations to be responsive to the needs of their employees, their communities and the environment.

Get inspired by Tom Frank's "Get Your Class War On" in The Wall Street Journal.

See one possible direction from Katrina Vanden Heuvel & Eric Schlosser in The Nation, "America Needs a New New Deal."

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Article Three

Extreme Executive Pay Hurts Taxpayers

Because it epitomizes what's wrong with the behavior of US corporations, for 15 years, we've been showing (with the Institute for Policy Studies) that CEO pay is out of control – that the "market" for CEO pay is broken. Now with the meltdown in the financial services sector, excessive CEO pay is again in the news.

Every Labor Day, when we publish our annual Executive Excess report, there's outrage, but little scrutiny of the rules – formal and informal – that support and enable extreme compensation packages.

So this year, we looked at some of the very formal rules of the federal tax code that actually encourage pay without limits for executives. We found five major loopholes and unintended consequences of tax policies designed to help businesses grow. Here's what we learned about these rules:

• Total tax subsidy is $20 billion per year.
• Represents lost revenue that average taxpayers have to make up.
• Taxpayers are effectively subsidizing unlimited pay.
• Legislation to change these tax policies is stalled.
• Lobbying in favor of keeping them is intense.

In addition, neither of the major party presidential candidates has taken a strong stand against these subsidies by endorsing all of the proposed legislative remedies.

Read the report (PDF).

See press coverage, including strong reporting in MSN Money and Inter Press Service, and Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times.

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Article Four

Civil Rights Veterans Encourage Youth Activism

The Ella Baker Tour is set to inspire the same level of student activism that made the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) a powerful force in the 1960s. Named after SNCC's founder, the tour will be traveling the country, honoring civil rights movement veterans and teaching young people about how the student elements were organized back in the day.

This summer, Theresa El-Amin, a SNCC veteran and founder and director of the Southern Anti-Racism Network (SARN), visited UFE with a preview. She spoke movingly about her experience as a youth organizer with SNCC, and what we need to be doing as organizers and activists today.

Please consider helping to bring the tour to your local college or high school.

Learn more about the tour.

Find a Civil Rights Movement Veteran in Your Area.

Learn more about SNCC and Ella Baker.

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Article Five

"Teen Voices" holds Popular Education Workshop

When was the last time you saw a group of teenage girls excited to spend the afternoon talking about the economy?

That's what happened recently at Teen Voices, a Boston-based organization that produces an international teen magazine. Using popular education techniques, UFE's Racial Wealth Divide Leader Amaad Rivera encouraged the girls to explore how the economy directly affects them – and how it affects them unjustly.

By asking open-ended questions and encouraging a conversation, Amaad sparked genuine interest among the girls about the economy – a subject that most young people would otherwise see as boring and daunting.

The transformation was amazing. A room full of initially quiet girls turned energetic, with everyone shouting out their questions, answering each other and sharing their experiences. By the end of the workshop, all the girls were thinking aloud and working together to make connections to answer difficult questions. When Amaad urged them to continue to speak up and take action after the workshop, they were ready and made strong commitments.

Learn about our Racial Wealth Divide Workshop.

Find out more about Teen Voices.

Check out pictures from the event.

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Article Six

UFE Interns Take Economic Justice to the Streets

In addition to making strong contributions with research and communications assistance, the summer interns at UFE were out and about in July and August, supporting other economic justice groups, such as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which has been making efforts towards unionizing security officers and putting pressure on private equity players such as Bain Capital and Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co (KKR).

Check out pictures from some of the events.

Learn more about SEIU.

Read a news story about the Bain Capital Protest.

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"Without UFE's workshops and accessible information on economic inequality, I wouldn't be able to do my work. Nobody else is doing what UFE does."

- Gabe Camacho, AFSC Project Voice Regional Organizer