next NOVA Greens meeting 2/20/13
at George Mason Library
2001 Little River Turnpike
7 to 9
next NOVA Greens meeting 2/20/13
at George Mason Library
2001 Little River Turnpike
7 to 9
7 to 9 at the Fairfax Library for Wednesday 1/9/13
City of Fairfax Regional Library
Address: 10360 North Street, Fairfax, VA 22030-2514
The NOVA Greens will meet Wednesday, December 19 at 7:00pm at the Fairfax Library:
Address: 10360 North Street, Fairfax, VA 22030-2514
Please Join Us.
The Northern Virginia Green Party suffered a loss recently. Party Chairman Paul Hughes died suddenly on September 15th (click Paul’s name for a link to the obituary). His energy and dedication for social justice, sustainable development, and creating a truly citizen-oriented political party are the hallmarks of his legacy.
The Northern Virginia Green Party is part of that tradition. To that end, we are holding a meeting to elect temporary officers to preside over the party until a full election can be held in January or February. Also, we will be discussing ways to support the Jill Stein for President campaign, and the Joe Galdo for Congress campaign here in the area.
We look forward to seeing you Sunday, October 7th from 2:30pm to 5pm
Location: 10360 North Street Fairfax, VA Room 214
Officer positions open:****(see note below for more information)
Co-Chair: two positions open. The Co-Chairs are responsible for organizing meetings, setting general policy based on input from the membership, formulating strategy, recruiting members, recruiting and assisting local, state, and federal candidates for elected office, maintaining party financial accounts, and maintaining contact/coordination with the Green Party of Virginia and the Green Party of the United States. Co-Chairs are the public face of the Northern Virginia Green Party and will be expected to interface with the press and other media outlets if needed. Daryl Northrop, Northern Virginia Green Party member since 2009, and strategy advisor/technology volunteer has thrown his hat into the ring for one of the openings. Daryl has been active with the Green Party since 2000. Serving as a county organizer and later co-chair of the Iowa Green Party, a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2004 (Iowa), delegate to the national party. In 2010, Daryl completed his Masters in Political Management from The George Washington University. Daryl and his wife April live in Annandale.
Secretary: In charge of administering membership lists, email list, and merging membership updates from the Nova Greens website, the state Green Party, and the Green Party of the United States
Technology Coordinator: produce content and help administer the NovaGreens.org website, along with associated Twitter account (@NovaGreens) and Facebook group.
****IMPORTANT: If you are interested in assisting in one of these elected positions, please send a short bio about yourself to firstname.lastname@example.org NO LATER than 11:59pm 10-01-12, telling us why you are running, and what you experience and capabilities are. Candidate bio’s will be forwarded to the membership via email on 10-02-12.
Hello Northern Virginians!
We will be having a public meeting at 10am on Saturday, April 28th at the City of Fairfax Regional Library (10360 North Street, Fairfax).
On the agenda will be:
Ways to support Joe Galdo – Green candidate for Congress 11th district
Ways to support Jill Stein – candidate for the Green Party presidential nomination.
Current issues: ALEC, Move To Amend, and more!
Looking forward to seeing you there!
ALEC is a corporate funded right wing think tank that writes model-legislation for its pet state legislators to push through. These laws result in: Voter suppression, weakened product safety laws, weakened environmental laws, and weakened labor laws. Basically, ALEC puts the CEO’s, Wall Street, and profit above everything else, every time.
Here is an important article about how the public backlash against this naked corporate power grab is beginning to have an effect! Major corporations are abandoning ALEC. Lets keep up the pressure.
If officials at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are superstitious, Monday was probably a pretty frightening day. The right-wing group that has helped advance voter suppression efforts lost its thirteenth major corporate back in just a few weeks and found itself facing a complaint filed with the Internal Revenue Service.
Procter & Gamble officials confirmed that they were not renewing their membership with ALEC in a statement to Color of Change, which has led a boycott against the group
Across the country, and right here in Virginia, state legislatures have been passing out favors to big corporations, gutting the rights of workers to organize unions, erecting barrier after barrier to letting people cast their ballot, and rolling back environmental protections.
Where does this legislation and expertise come from?
The answer is: ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. Funded by big business and wealthy right-wing foundations, it’s goal is turning the legislature of a given state into the lapdog of big business. The NY Times has an excellent piece on it.
The Big Money Behind State Laws
It is no coincidence that so many state legislatures have spent the last year taking the same destructive actions: making it harder for minorities and other groups that support Democrats to vote, obstructing health care reform, weakening environmental regulations and breaking the spines of public- and private-sector unions. All of these efforts are being backed — in some cases, orchestrated — by a little-known conservative organization financed by millions of corporate dollars.
The American Legislative Exchange Council was founded in 1973 by the right-wing activist Paul Weyrich; its big funders include Exxon Mobil, the Olin and Scaife families and foundations tied to Koch Industries. Many of the largest corporations are represented on its board.
ALEC has written model legislation on a host of subjects dear to corporate and conservative interests, and supporting lawmakers have introduced these bills in dozens of states. A recent study of the group’s impact in Virginia showed that more than 50 of its bills were introduced there, many practically word for word. The study, by the liberal group ProgressVA, found that ALEC had been involved in writing bills that would:
¶Prohibit penalizing residents for failing to obtain health insurance, undermining the individual mandate in the reform law. The bill, which ALEC says has been introduced in 38 states, was signed into law and became the basis for Virginia’s legal challenge to heath care reform.
¶Require voters to show a form of identification. Versions of this bill passed both chambers this month.
¶Encourage school districts to contract with private virtual-education companies. (One such company was the corporate co-chair of ALEC’s education committee.) The bill was signed into law.
¶Call for a federal constitutional amendment to permit the repeal of any federal law on a two-thirds vote of state legislatures. The bill failed.
¶Legalize use of deadly force in defending one’s home. Bills to this effect, which recently passed both houses, have been backed by the National Rifle Association, a longtime member of ALEC.
ALEC’s influence in the Virginia statehouse is pervasive, the study showed. The House of Delegates speaker, William Howell, has been on the board since 2003 and was national chairman in 2009. He has sponsored or pushed many of the group’s bills, including several benefiting specific companies that support ALEC financially, like one that would reduce a single company’s asbestos liability. At least 115 other state legislators have ties to the group, including paying membership dues, attending meetings and sponsoring bills. The state has spent more than $230,000 sending lawmakers to ALEC conferences since 2001.
Similar efforts have gone on in many other states. The group has been particularly active in weakening environmental regulations and fighting the Environmental Protection Agency. ALEC’s publication, “E.P.A.’s Regulatory Train Wreck,” outlines steps lawmakers can take, including curtailing the power of state regulators.
There is nothing illegal or unethical about ALEC’s work, except that it further demonstrates the pervasive influence of corporate money and right-wing groups on the state legislative process. There is no group with any comparable influence on the left. Lawmakers who eagerly do ALEC’s bidding have much to answer for. Voters have a right to know whether the representatives they elect are actually writing the laws, or whether the job has been outsourced to big corporate interests.
What is the new normal as it applies to the economy? There is no answer to that question, but the ideas are coming together in a new political reality. Cooperative economics, based on ideas, connections, relationships between business, community, consumers, stakeholders, and the environment – these are all Green Party ideas that we can all work on. The change in our economy that can benefit all of us, and make our communities wealthier will not come from Wall Street, it will come from main street.
Former IMF chief economist Joseph Stiglitz has a message for everybody who’s sitting around waiting for the economy to “get back to normal.”
Stop waiting. ‘Cause that train’s gone, and it ain’t coming back. And the sooner we accept that “normal,” as post WWII America knew and loved it, will not be an option in this century, the sooner we’ll get ourselves moving forward on the path toward a new kind of prosperity. The only real question now is: What future awaits us on the other side of the coming shift?
In a don’t-miss article in this month’s Vanity Fair, Stiglitz argues that our current economic woes are the result of a deep structural shift in the economy — a once-in-a-lifetime phase change that happens whenever the foundations of an old economic order are disrupted, and a new basis of wealth creation comes forward to take its place. The last time this happened was in the 1920s and 1930s, when a US economy that was built on farm output became the victim of its own success. Advances in farming led to a food glut. As food prices plummeted, farmers had less money to spend. This, in turn, depressed manufacturing and led to job losses in the cities, too. Land values in both places declined, impoverishing families and trapping them in place.
We remember this as the Great Depression. It lingered until the government stepped in — largely through the war effort — with unprecedented education, housing, transportation, and research investments that created new pathways for all those surplus farmers to come in off the farm, for the factory hands to get back to work, and for both groups to move into the modern industrial middle-class.
Stiglitz thinks that we’re going through much the same kind of process again now, as the postwar manufacturing-based economy that saved us 80 years ago moves offshore, leaving our manufacturing workforce just as surplus and idle as those 1920s farmers were. In his view, the current phase shift is taking us away from industry-as-we’ve-known-it, and on into an economy that will have us relying more and more on many different kinds of knowledge work. (This isn’t a new thesis; Daniel Bell was writing about it back in 1973.) But Stiglitz goes on to point out that because people are misunderstanding the moment, we’re investing in the wrong things.
Austerity and debt reduction will get us nowhere, in this view. In particular: it won’t change the fact that we have too many manufacturing workers and too few information workers. Stiglitz argues forcefully that this gap is likely to remain open until our governments make a long-term commitment to do what they did in the 1940s — that is, fund the kind of aggressive education, research, and infrastructure investments that will finally get us fully transitioned to the new phase. The current economic crisis is doomed to last exactly as long as we delay put off building that necessary to the new information economy. When we come out the other side, there will still be farmers and manufacturers — but even they will be leveraging the power of the Internet to create new wealth. Everybody will.
But Stiglitz is far from the only theorist who’s trying to look beyond the phase change, and figure out what new form wealth might take when we get to the far side of it.
Another one is Thomas Homer-Dixon, a Canadian economist who wrote The Upside of Down. Homer-Dixon marshals evidence that all great empires rise and fall by controlling the dominant energy supply of their age. The Romans used roads and aqueducts to harness solar energy (in the form of food) from around the Mediterranean basin, and used that surplus to fund the most complex society of its time. The Dutch empire rose on its superior ability to master wind technologies — the windmill and the ship — to extend its land holdings, run early manufacturing industries, and extend its trading reach around the globe. The British empire rose on coal-powered steam engines, which gave it more productive industries, railroads, electrical generators, and faster ships. The US eclipsed the Brits due to its vast wealth in oil — a far more concentrated and fungible fuel — and inventions from cars and planes to plastics and fertilizers that allowed it to make the most of its advantages. And the Chinese are now making huge investments in renewable energy and safer, more efficient second-generation nuclear power, which they can use to fuel their ascent to global primacy.
The bottom line in Homer-Dixon’s theory is this: Everything that Americans understand as “wealth” under the current paradigm comes from oil. It’s the foundation of our entire economy, and the ground our superpower status stands on. Our cities are built on the assumption of cheap, plentiful oil. Our consuming patterns are made possible by a fleet of oil-burning trucks, ships, and planes that bring us goods made in oil-driven factories. Our warmaking machine, which is largely tasked with protecting our oil interests around the world, is the single largest consumer of energy on the planet. Even our food is created with vast oil-based inputs of fertilizer and pesticides; and we enjoy a year-round variety of foods (bananas! chocolate! coffee!) that is unprecedented in human history because oil makes cheap transport and refrigeration possible.
And the pain and fear caused when we’re forced to face this fundamental fact explains quite a bit about why ideas like climate change and peak oil are so viscerally terrifying to so many Americans. (In many right-wing circles, denial about the American oil addiction is now a core piece of their political identity. It’s considered anti-American to even suggest that getting off oil is necessary or possible.) We are so deeply invested in oil, in so many ways, that it’s almost impossible for us to envision a world beyond it. We stand to lose so much that it’s hard to fathom it all.
And this, says Homer-Dixon, is why no empire has ever survived an energy-related phase shift with its full power intact: the reigning hegemons are always too deeply invested in the current system to recognize the change, let alone respond to it in time. And so they are always superceded by some upstart that’s motivated to put more resources and risk into aggressively developing the next source. The decline of oil as the energy reality of the world has deep implications for every aspect of American life in the coming century. It’s a phase shift at the deepest level.
Other theorists, including Gar Alperovitz, Jeffery Sachs and Umair Haque, agree that there’s a phase shift happening under our feet — but they believe the real shift lies in the changing structure of capitalism itself. Forming markets is a core human activity that we’re not any more likely to abandon than eating or breathing. But our understanding of the purpose and value of markets — and the role of capital within them — is overdue for a profound change. Haque argues that “twentieth-century capitalism’s cornerstones shift costs to and borrow benefits from people, communities, society, the natural world, or future generations.” But, he continues, “both cost shifting and benefit borrowing are forms of economic harm that are unfair, non-consensual, and often irreversible.” The result is a great imbalance that we are finally being forced to fully reckon with, one that will call us to radically change our focus, creating a totally new kind of capitalism.
Haque makes a distinction between “thin” and “thick” value. Things with “thin” value tend to be artificial, unsustainable, and meaningless to anyone but the people who produce and consume them. Hummers, McMansions and Big Macs are all examples of thin value items. They’re produced without any recognition of our larger values context or the externalized costs to the community, and consuming them tends to add to the overall imbalance in our economy. Thin value, he writes, is “profit that is in many ways a financial fiction, because it fails to exceed a fuller, truer economic cost of capital.” And the phase shift is evident in the fact that the companies that are falling hardest right now are the ones whose past profits have relied most heavily on monetizing our common wealth for private profit.
“Thick” value — produced by companies that practice “constructive capitalism” — is value that is sustainable, that has a moral component that matters, and that multiplies itself. Companies that practice it tend to win because they produce things that have a deeper meaning to people. Their real wealth isn’t what they’re able to extract from the rest of us, but in their long, deep, trusting relationships with their customers. The world is shifting from the economics of a game reserve to those of an ark, says Haque. The companies that are thriving now are the ones that increasing their focus on “constructive advantage” — “how free a company is of deep debt to people, communities, society, the natural world, or future generations.” While this focus-shift is far from complete, the current economy abounds with firms that are showing us a new way forward. (Apple is a prime example of a company that creates “thick value,” but we’ve seen recently that its commitment to this ideal has some rather glaring thin spots.)
Alperovitz’ vision extends this by revamping how wealth flows in society. He points to a quiet revolution that’s already much further along than anybody realizes — the move toward worker- or consumer-owned cooperative businesses, in which distant shareholders are replaced by local stakeholders who have a deep personal interest in how every aspect of the business is run. Already, four in 10 Americans belong to some type of co-op business (if you have a Costco or a credit union card in your wallet, you’re already on board here); and America’s 30,000 cooperatives provide over 2 million jobs. (Many, many more fun facts here.) The UN has declared 2012 to be the Year of the Co-Op, in recognition of the fact that nearly half the world’s population now belongs to cooperatives. Co-ops are already forming a formidable challenge to Wall Street-driven 20th-century capitalism, and their expansion through the coming century would represent a massive redistribution of labor and wealth — a phase shift that favors the direction Haque suggests.
These are just a handful of the many serious theorists out there describing the deep structural changes we’re undergoing. Not all of them, to be sure, are this cheery (and I’ve made my own contributions to the dystopian canon in the past). There are so many now, in fact, that their very numbers might taken as evidence that we’re going through something uniquely new and deep. Our government is broken. Our economy is broken. Our infrastructure is crumbling. Our major institutions — education, religion, culture — are inadequate to the tasks at hand.
These are all signs of an old world passing away, clearing the way for a new one to arise in its place. And the sooner we let go of our assumption that going back is desirable, or even possible, the sooner we’ll be able to fully embrace the new things that lie ahead.
Sara Robinson is Alternet’s senior editor in charge of the Visions page. A trained social futurist, she’s particularly interested change resistance movements. She does foresight and strategic planning consulting for a wide range of progressive groups.
Today’s meeting of the Northern Virginia Green Party, at the George Mason Regional Library, has been canceled. Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience.
The meeting will be rescheduled and an announcement will go out within the next few days.
Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate, called today for a Green New Deal to counter the “trickle down economic agenda” laid out by President Obama last night in his State of the Union address.Stein plans to release her alternative at 8:30pm Eastern Time in a “People’s State of the Union: A Green New Deal for America” that will be given via her campaign website: http://www.JillStein.org
After viewing President Obama’s address, Stein commented that “It is startling how the candidate who four years ago promised to be an agent of change has morphed into the candidate of more of the same. The key features of the President’s State of the Union address were drawn from the centrist Republican agenda. He’s glorifying militarism, calling for more business tax cuts, promoting offshore oil drilling and hydrofracking, pushing trillions in cuts to discretionary Federal spending, promising cuts to Social Security and Medicare, and putting American workers into a struggle for survival in a global economy dominated by big corporations.”
“The President has subverted the progressive ideals of the New Deal. He’s imposing his vision of a ‘grand bargain’ that represents the effective philosophical merger of the Democratic and Republican parties. “
“The President presented a rosy picture of the current state of the economy by tossing out a few anecdotes and cherry-picked statistics. He seemed almost oblivious to recent news that 48% of Americans are living in poverty or near poverty, the greatest number in 50 years of record keeping. If he thinks things are going so well, maybe that’s why he sees no reason to change course.”
“America needs to go in a new direction. We are calling for a Green New Deal that would decisively end high unemployment and make a massive investment in solar, wind, energy efficiency and mass transit. We reject the President’s assertion that “all of the above” is the right answer when it comes to energy. We need to wean ourselves from the fossil fuels that pollute our land and water, motivate wars for oil, and which are pushing us to a climate catastrophe.”
“An honest analysis shows that most of the president’s proposed solutions are just band-aids on the status quo and do not represent a serious attempt to end the crises we face. His mortgage foreclosure reforms will reach only a tiny fraction of homeowners in crisis. And his proposed commission to investigate bank fraud is hamstrung from the outset by the packing of the commission with big bank-friendly regulators. Furthermore it ignores the enormous inequity and economic damage that Wall Street does without committing prosecutable fraud. Contrast that with the Green New Deal that would impose an immediate moratorium on home foreclosures, would write down the principals of inflated mortgages to market rates, and would break up the big banks that caused this crisis and replace them with decentralized and democratized financial institutions.”
Regarding education, Stein noted that “Obama’s plan for the student loan crisis basically preserves the status quo. His solution is to keep interest rates the same and to cut Federal funding to colleges that are in financial crisis. The Green New Deal would end the crisis by taking over the student debt and implementing tuition-free higher education.”
“America needs decisive action to get us out of the current economic slump. Most of all we need jobs — tens of millions of them — not the puny numbers that will result from President Obama’s attempts at top-down stimulus. The unemployment office needs to become the employment office. The bold actions that worked to end the Great Depression can work again. The tax giveaways and corporate welfare that the President advocates are inefficient, take too long, and don’t create the right type of jobs in the places where they are most needed. We can and must do better.”
“This election is a turning point. We can continue with the failing corporate-serving philosophy represented by Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and the other establishment politicians. Or we can stand up for a rededication of our nation to the public interest. As I have traveled around the nation in the past two months, I’ve found that people are hungry for real change and are excited to see something like the Green New Deal put on the table.”