Category Archives: Wealth

Students protesters march across the country

The Million Student March erupted Thursday across the country, even here in Berkeley [which was never the Berzerkeley so beloved of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and their ilk.

We have two video reports. both with a Berkeley twist.

From up, via The Real News Network, an interview with a Berkeley student instrumental in the protests:

#MillionStudentMarch: Thousands Walkout Across The Country

From the transcript:

JAISAL NOOR, TRNN: The Million Student March. Thousands walked out of classes at over 100 campuses across the country on Thursday. Among their demands included addressing racial injustice, free tuition at college campuses and universities, cancellation of the country’s $1.2 trillion student debt, and a $15 wage for all university workers.

LAUREN BUTLER: Wall Street has infiltrated our education system. Education has been commodified, you know, and put on Wall Street to be gambled with.

NOOR: Tying racial justice and economic injustice is UC Berkeley student Lauren Butler. She helped organize the walkout on her campus.

BUTLER: People are disadvantaged in education because of their race. And the same system that oppresses us all as students, the same corporate system that benefits off of the creation of debt, you know, essentially the creation of poverty, right, these are the same people that like to exploit people of color, black people especially.

NOOR: Butler also cites the activism at the University of Missouri earlier this week that led to the toppling of two key university officials demonstrates the potential of students to achieve their demands when they are organized.

BUTLER: We’re really seeing a shift in the power dynamics, right. So what Missouri really taught us is that we have to speak their language to get a reaction out of them, right, and we did that. And the reactions of the students, you know, the reactions of the individual students, these disgusting hate crimes and acts of terror against the black students, it really is just reflective of this larger white supremacist power structure.

And from RT’s Ruptly TV, here’s some raw footage of the demonstrations here in Berkeley Thursday:

USA: Million Student March shuts down UC Berkley campus

Program notes:

Hundreds of students marched through the University of California’s Berkeley campus to demand free education, Thursday. The students who were joined by campaign group ‘Nurses for Bernie Sanders.’ Organisers are demanding tuition-free colleges, a cancellation of all student debt as well as a minimum $15 (€13.9) an hour wage for campus workers. The rally was one of many held on campuses across America under the name ‘Million Student March.’

Headline of the day II: Et tu, Obama?

From The Intercept, and the banksters are dry-washing their hands in joyous abnticipation:

Nominee to Oversee Wall Street Works at Think Tank Dedicated to Blocking Regulation

Maps of the day: Two estimates of poverty rates

From the Los Angeles Times, two contrasting maps reflecting poverty rates as defined by two different measures, one a generalized national number and the other tailored to actual costs of living in individual states.

From the report:

[T]he official poverty rate fails to account for variations in public benefits and costs of living. A separate federal benchmark, known as the Supplemental Poverty Measure, shows a much higher poverty rate for California: 23.4%, the highest in the nation, according to the most recent data.

The rate reflects California’s high — and growing — housing costs.

“The fact that California housing is so much more expensive means the threshold to be in poverty is a lot higher,” said David Cooper of the Economic Policy Institute in Washington.

BLOG Poverty official

BLOG Poverty real

Richard D. Wolff: An antidote to capitalism

Economist Richard D. Wolff [previously] emerged as a leading voice from the left during the Occupy Wall Street movement, a cause that fused his passion for workplace democracy with the years of classroom podium experience he’d gained during his years teaching at the State University of New York and currently at the New School in Manhattan.

An eloquent, passionate, and concise speaker, In this address Wolff address an audience at the University of Washington in Seattle, giving a superb account of the nature of modern capitalism, the boom/bust cycles inherent in its very nature, and its long history of suppressing rational alternative modes of organizing society.

From TalkingStickTV:

Richard Wolff – Economic Justice, Sustainability and Transition Beyond Capitalism

Program notes:

Talk by Richard D. Wolff on “Economic Justice, Sustainability and Transition Beyond Capitalism” recorded October 27, 2015 at the Communications Building, University of Washington, Seattle.

Chart of the day II: Heeding their master’s voice

From Mother Jones, answering that old Cui bono? question:


Salt of the Earth: A cinematic blacklist riposte

Bryan Cranston has been getting rave reviews for his performance in Trumbo, starring as Dalton Trumbo, a brilliant Hollywood talent blacklisted from the American cinema  during the 19o50s for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, the long-disbanded platform for demagogues looking to build political careers by capitalizing on the anti-communist hysteria of the early Cold War years.

Trumbo was a brilliant screenwriter and an acerbic novelist [Johnny Got his Gun, a 1938 anti-war novel, had a powerful impact on an 18-year-old esnl and played a critical role in our opposition to the then-developing Vietnam War.

But Trumbo was a Communist, a member of the Communist Party of the U.S.A.

Like other blacklisted writers, Trumbo continued writing and producers kept buying his scripts, which uncredited, credited under a pseudonym, or credited with the name of an actual human serving as front.

Dalton Trumbo was a member of the Hollywood Ten, the writers and directors cited for contempt of Congress following their refusal to answer the infamous question “Are you now or have you ever been” a member of the Communist Party.

A fair number of famous writers found refuge writing for a British television rebroadcast on CBS in the U.S. A young esnl never missed an episode of The Adventures of Robin Hood.

[As David Bushman, television curator for the Paley Center for Media, noted, “Robin is the perfect metaphor for the blacklisted left-wing artist—refusing to surrender his principles, he chooses to live outside the law rather than endorse a pernicious regime, and devotes his life to championing the oppressed.”]

All of which brings us to another member of that select list, Herbert J. Biberman, and another way of fighting the blacklist under his own name. The result was a 1954 film he wrote and directed, Salt of the Earth, about a strike by New Mexico miners, a strike transformed when the strikers’ wives took their places on the picket line. The film is based on a 1951 strikes by New Mexico minors.

The film deals with themes that would continue to resonate in decades ahead, including ethnic conflict [mine owners paid Hispanic workers less than their anglo counterparts and provided them with inferior housing], female equality, and the right of workers to organize and strike for a larger share of the profits from their own labor.

The film was produced by another blacklist victim, Paul Jarrico, and featured only five professional actors, with the rest recruited from the community where the film was made. One actor, Will Geer, would later become a beloved member of the cast of a popular television series, The Waltons, while another cast member, David Wolfe, would never act again for the large or small screens. A third actor, Rosaura Revueltas, came up from Mexico to take the lead role as narrator and driver of the action. She was arrested and deported near the end of the filming, forcing some of the final shots to be made in Mexico. And for her labor, she was herself added to the blacklist. The American Film Institute describes events that transpired days after her arrest:

On 2 Mar 1953, the film’s cast and crew were met by a citizen’s committee in Central, NM, and ordered to leave town. The following day, in Silver City, NM, the company was warned to “get out of town…or go out in black boxes.” Jencks was beaten and shots were fired at his car while it was parked outside his home. When the company did not capitulate to the demands, there was a “citizens’ parade” led by a sound car blaring, “We don’t want Communism; respect the law; no violence, but let’s show them we don’t like it.” The UMMSW, which had been expelled from the Congress of Industrial Organizations for alleged pro-Communist leanings, responded that “we have the right to make and complete our movie.” Then on 8 Mar 1953, the union hall in Bayard, NM was set on fire, and the union hall in nearby Carlsbad was burned to the ground, according to Biberman’s book. Biberman also notes that cast member Floyd Bostick’s home was destroyed by fire.

The troubles didn’t end once the film was in the can. Only a dozen theaters in the U.S. braved threats and violence to screen the film, and its was rarely seen thereafter, resurfacing on colleges campuses during the 1960s.

While some aspects of the film are dated and most of the cast had no acting experience, the film remains surprisingly relevant, confronting many of the same issues now confronting a growing percentage of the American working class.

And with that, now for the movie [and do click on the gear and up the resolution to 720p.

From Floyd Corcoran:

Salt of the Earth [1954]

Chart of the day: American homes on steroids

From the Pew Research Center:

BLOG Homes