UFE's E-News March/April 2009

In this Issue:

 

Article One

Wall Street Should NOT Dictate our Economic Future

What's wrong with this picture? The Treasury Secretary rolls out a new plan and the Dow goes up 497 points. News outlets translate this as “Wall Street loves the plan.” Sorry, but so what?

The financial markets are not gods to whom we need to bow, scrape, and satisfy every whim. In fact, they are merely an indicator of what individual investors think. Investors represent a small minority in the country: 80% of all stock is owned by the wealthiest 10%. Investors who trade on a daily basis must be a much smaller number. What makes this small, wealthy minority happy is not necessarily good for the entire economy.

There are several reasons given for why the media give the markets so much power, but the important question is when are we — their readers, listeners and viewers — going to stop them?

Read what others are saying:

  • “Wall Street Isn't The Economy”, by Ezra Kline in Prospect.org
  • “D.C. To Wall Street: Drop Dead”, by Daniel Gross in Newsweek
  • “The Big Takeover”, by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone
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    Article Two

    Help Spread the Word About Economia Justa

    Chances are you know someone whose first language is Spanish. According to last year's census, 1 in every 10 U.S. household residents speaks Spanish as their native language. Between 2000 and 2006, Latinos accounted for one half of the nation's growth.

    Historically, the Latino population has been pushed to the bottom of the economic spectrum. In the current economic depression, unemployment and poverty have only become more challenging obstacles for the Latino population.

    To meet the demand for economic information and analysis in Spanish, we translated our website and many other materials, making them much more accessible to Spanish speakers everywhere.

    Send this link to any Spanish speakers you may know and help us get the word out!

    Check out Economia Justa at http://www.economiajusta.org/

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    Article Three

    Upper-Income Folks Say: Raise My Taxes!

    In an open letter, eighty-eight upper-income New York taxpayers have asked Governor David Paterson and the New York Legislature to raise their tax rates to help fill the state's projected $19 billion funding gap.

    The letter was the result of a collaboration between New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness (the New York State member of UFE's Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative) and UFE's Responsible Wealth (RW) project.

    Press coverage of the proposal was very positive, and the final budget will include two new tax brackets (for those earning above $300,000 and $500,000), estimated to raise $4 billion annually.

    Wealthy New Yorkers were the first, but not the last, to ask state lawmakers to raise their taxes. For more exciting tax victories, see the highlights of the recent activities of the TFOC below.

    Read more on our website.

    Listen to a National Radio Project program about people who are willing to pay higher taxes, including UFE's RW Director Mike Lapham and New York City RW Member Allen Bromberger.

    See the New York Times article for more details on the budget agreement.

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    Article Four

    Tax Fairness Victories Across the States

    This year, existing state deficits are being compounded by massive revenue losses resulting from the economic collapse. States are expecting an estimated overall deficit of more than $350 billion for fiscal years 2009-2011, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

    Tax Fairness Action News (TFAN) — the annual newsletter of the Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative (TFOC) — highlights how TFOC members are using this crisis to advance progressive tax policies and values that generate enough revenue to both fund quality public services and also provide opportunities that enable all people to thrive.

    You can read about the exciting victories of TFOC member groups in the latest issue of TFAN:

  • Movement Building in NV
  • WI Tax Reform Hits Primetime
  • Better Choices for NY
  • Making Corporations Pay in OR
  • NC's Revenue Reform Coalition
  • Closing the Wealth Gap in RI
  • Closing Corp Loopholes in MA

  • Learn more about the TFOC on our website.

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    Article Five

    Bankers, Brokers, Bubbles and Bailouts: What's It All About?

    Everyone is experiencing the meltdown of the economy, but how many of us understand the mechanisms that created — and are being employed to fix — the crisis?

    Now more than ever, educating ourselves and others is key to making effective change. That's why UFE has assembled a new workshop to help explain this mess. "Bankers, Brokers, Bubbles and Bailouts," uses participatory activities to identify the impact on jobs, families and communities and explores strategies for building power through a broad-based, democratic, multi-race, multi-class, social movement for economic justice. This workshop is aimed at anyone interested in helping to construct a more equitable economy.

    In addition to the workshop materials, you can request for a UFE staff member to lead the presentation. We encourage these materials to be incorporated into any pre-existing dialogue on this issue.

    This and all our other workshop materials are available on our website: http://faireconomy.org/resources/workshops/download

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    Article Six

    Focus on People, Not Profits

    It's hard to understand the irresponsible attitudes continuing to come from Wall Street: although their power to make unlimited profits led us to economic crisis, it still seems to be all they care about.

    But a growing international movement is actively exploring ways to put people ahead of profits and the health of the planet ahead of portfolios. Called the Solidarity Economy, it's made up of worker cooperatives, collectives, and many other kinds of community-oriented economic entities.

    Building on the work of similar movements in Quebec and Latin America, the US Solidarity Economy Network (SEN) provides a way for interested folks to network and collaborate. Organized by Emily Kawano, Executive Director of the Center for Popular Economics (and UFE Board Member), SEN hosted its first national conference in March. Over 400 people from diverse backgrounds and a wide range of organizations, came together to share, learn and commit to continuing to work towards sustainable, community-focused economies.

    Visit the following sites to learn more about the Solidarity Economy movement in the U.S.:

  • UFE: http://faireconomy.org/news/ufe_solidarity_economy
  • US Solidarity Economy Network: http://www.populareconomics.org/ussen/
  • http://www.thealliancefordemocracy.org/pdf/AfDJR3212.pdf
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    UFE'S MISSION:
    UFE raises awareness that
    concentrated wealth and power
    undermine the economy, corrupt democracy, deepen the racial divide,
    and tear communities apart.
    We support and help build social movements for greater equality.



    UFE'S VISION:
    Our vision is of a global society where prosperity is better shared, where
    there is genuine equality of opportunity, where the power of concentrated
    money and corporations neither dominates the economy nor dictates
    the content of mass culture. We
    envision communities and nations without disparities of income, wages, wealth, health, safety, respect, and opportunities for recreation
    and personal growth.

    We aspire to build communities that
    are socially and environmentally sustainable, where children are cherished and nurtured, and cultural
    and racial differences among people
    are valued and celebrated. We
    envision an economy where everyone contributes to society with their
    labor and everyone benefits from society's financial growth. We envision
    a society in which values, not profits alone, guide economic decisions.



    UFE'S GOALS:
    Our goals are to close the growing wealth divide, to change the rules
    that tilt tax benefits increasingly toward the wealthy, to spotlight the role of race
    in economic inequality, and to serve
    as a forum where different races,
    different cultures, and people with varying degrees of wealth can come together to work for economic justice.