July 27 RRI Mailing: Stories about trainings

Across the country, educators are finding ways to spread the word about the damage runaway inequality is doing to our country. Check out the stories below from New York and Texas and some upcoming events in California and North Carolina.

  • Staten Island, NY
  • Austin, TX
  • Oakland, CA: Train-the-trainer, Sept. 10
  • Wilmington, NC: “What Happened to the American Dream?” Sept. 19-20
  • Learn more about being a runaway inequality trainer.

Staten Island, NY

June 23, 2017

“We use the runaway inequality workshop as a recruitment tool in the community. So far we have educated 75 people, organized a panel discussion as a follow up, and used the runaway inequality “roadshow” and at the local festival to find new participants for the next class.

“At the La Isla Bonita community festival, we set up a timeline where festival goers could post different social movements in U.S. history. We also posted several of the graphs from the workbook and asked people to reflect on them. People loved the activity and it opened conversations around the graphs. Our table was a hotspot of activity at the festival!”

In solidarity,
Steve Lawton
Communications Workers of America Local 1102
Sustainable Staten Island

At the La Isla Bonita community festival on Staten Island, festivalgoers added social movements in U.S. history to a timeline and reflected on charts showing the depth and causes of runaway inequality.

Austin, TX

July 8, 2017

Activists representing Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Texas State Employees Union, Our Revolution, 350 Austin, and the Travis County Green Party came to a day-long Reversing Runaway Inequality workshop. They dug deep into the causes of runaway inequality and the effects that financial strip-mining has on our lives.

One of the workshop activities is to reflect on value statements that we often hear (like “family values” and “free trade”) and offer statements to describe the world we want to live in. Here are some that they came up with:

  • Care for every family
  • An economy for all
  • FWNW – Fund Workers, Not War
  • Vote unto others as you would have them vote unto you
  • Ain’t no such thing as a “free” market

About half of the participants plan to partner up and lead their own workshops.

In solidarity,
Kris Raab
Communications Workers of America

Workshop participants
in Austin dug
deep into the
causes and
effects of
runaway inequality

Upcoming in Oakland, CA

Sept. 10, 2017

The RunawayInequality.org educational network runs full-day workshops called Reversing Runaway Inequality. You’re invited to attend a version of the workshop that will also include discussion of the Small Group Activity Method the workshop uses.

Sliding scale registration fee: $20-$60 to cover materials and lunch.

The curriculum is designed for a full-day workshop for 20-25 people, though the material can be adapted for different size groups and shorter amounts of time.

Upcoming in Wilmington, NC

Sept. 19 & 20, 2017

“What Happened to the American Dream?”

Les Leopold will discuss Runaway Inequality: An Activist’s Guide to Economic Justice and what we might do to address runaway inequality.

Tuesday, Sept. 19 @ 7pm
ILA Union Hall
1305 South 5th Ave.

Wednesday, Sept. 20 @ 5:30pm
UNCW campus
DeLoach Hall, Room 114
5148 Randall Dr.

Organizing in Staten Island

Jane LaTour spent some time visiting activists on Staten Island, the most conservative of New York City’s five boroughs, and finds a progressive culture among the union organizers and peace advocates there. She visited a Runaway Inequality forum on June 22nd, and reports about what she learned.

“On June 22nd, Sustainable Staten Island held a public forum on economic inequality, with expert speakers from a range of community organizations. “Over 50 Staten Islanders from diverse backgrounds filled the room to discuss Runaway Inequality. Whereas Les Leopold wrote the book, CWA Local 1102 is putting it into action. There is a political renaissance happening and the epicenter is Staten Island, New York,” said Lawton. We had an opportunity to talk to many of those in the room, and to listen to the remarks of the panelists.”

Read the article here.

The Danger of Permanent War

Our nation now supports two overlapping military-industrial complexes. There’s the traditional one that worried President Dwight Eisenhower (large corporations and their profitable production of planes, ships, missiles, nuclear weapons, etc.). And now we have private contractors who make money by providing field services and security — functions formerly provided by the armed services.

The large private manufacturers of U.S. military hardware don’t need nonstop war to maintain their profits, since there’s always a reason, even in peacetime, to upgrade weapons technologies. But the private army of contractors must have wars, occupations and incursions to grow and survive.

It certainly seems that the private contractors are getting their profit needs met. We have been at war since shortly after 9/11. They’ve been sent to Iraq, and Afghanistan, and now ISIS is sending us back into Iraq and perhaps into Syria as well. And then there’s Yemen, and Ukraine, which may require more military support and even troops. Almost every day you can hear political pundits and politicians calling for “boots on the ground” somewhere around the world, all in the name of “winning” the endless “War on Terror.”

Of course no one has any idea what “winning” looks like. It’s hard to see how a war against small, violent bands of true believers can end. But it’s easy to see how private contractors can profit mightily from unending conflict.

What and who is responsible for this permanent war? The idea probably didn’t originate with the private contractors. It probably came from our national security state — groups inside and outside government including the National Security Agency (which spies on communications), the CIA, the Defense Department, the State Department and the many think tanks and university centers that focus on foreign policy.

Although these agencies and their personnel have many disagreements, they did coalesce with very little dissent around the Bush administration’s plan to turn 9/11 into the Iraq War. Collectively they wrongly claimed that 1) Iraq had weapons of mass destruction; and 2) Iraq supported Al-Qaeda and therefore was involved in the 9/11 attacks. In this, the leaders of the national security state blatantly lied to the American people and led us to wars in the Middle East that have proceeded for well over a decade.

The privatization of the military is part of this sleight of hand. Privatization allows our hawkish political and military leaders to hide how costly these wars really are. And if contractors are doing the fighting, we don’t need a draft, which fueled mass upheaval during the Vietnam War.

If we want to halt runaway inequality, we need to capture the huge percentage of the U.S. budget now devoted to war and redirect it to address useful goals. This won’t be easy, of course, since so many businesses are financially invested in our privatized war without end.

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

—Dwight David Eisenhower, “The Chance for Peace,” April 16, 1953

The Reversing Runaway Inequality Petition is Live!

For the past few weeks we’ve been testing the wording and delivery methods for the Reversing Runaway Inequality Petition, a program of policy ideas designed to reverse runaway inequality.

Now the test is done and we’ve gone live. The petition is going out first to the Runaway Inequality Education Network, and the hope is other groups will support our goals and distribute the petition through their networks. Our goal is to demonstrate that progressive ideas are in the mainstream of American political thought, and in the interests of the vast majority of American people.

The Petition is addressed to the American Political Establishment.

You can read the whole thing here, and sign and share if agree!