Sarbanes and the bipartisan neoliberal bargain

This cover has an eerie connection to supporting this class war deal
You’ve probably heard about the bipartisan deal between Paul Ryan (a Republican) and Kelly Ayotte (a Democrat). I’ve already spouted my mouth about the deal, calling it an act of class warfare, exposing these two players behind the deal and some of its provisions (at times I tweeted quotes from articles here and here):

The deal itself is deeply disturbing and an affront of an attack on the working and middle classes. The bill itself is written with so much legalese, its hard, if not impossible to understand*, but that may be part of the point (and why 67% of OpenCongress users support it) However, the agreement itself passed with overwhelming bipartisan support: 162 Democrats and 160 Republicans. Of Maryland’s seven apportioned representatives, only two voted against the agreement: Steny Hoyer and Andy Harris while five voted for it: Chris Van Hollen, Elijah Cummings, John K. Dulaney, Donna Edwards and John Sarbanes. Interestingly, while Hollen said he was ‘upset’ by the deal, he voted for it, while Hoyer, the House Minority Whip, “strongly criticized reports that the budget negotiators are considering reducing federal employee pension contributions to help offset the sequester [presumably since his]…suburban Washington district is home to a large concentration of federal employees” as noted by Politico. However, in an interview with The Hill on the day the bill passed, Hoyer told the publication that while in his view, the bill “does not deal with the fundamental issue of long-term fiscal stability,” it “needed to pass…[and is] better than the alternative. But it is an extraordinary missed opportunity…[for] a comprehensive bill.” This means that Hoyer opposed the bill due to its unwholesome nature, but not necessarily because of any provisions of the bill, which is no surprise since a number of his top contributors have included big businesses like Exelon, Comcast, Northrop Grumman and Boeing.

The final congressmember who voted for the agreement Sarbanes I knew about first hand. In an email I received (for some reason I’m on his mailing list), he defended the budget deal in a message titled ‘Sarbanes Standard – My thoughts on the budget agreement’ [I bolded certain parts for emphasis]:

Dear Friend,

Yesterday, I joined a majority of my colleagues in approving a bipartisan agreement that, if passed by the Senate, will end months of budget wrangling and avoid a government shutdown over the next two years. This bill was the result of extensive discussions between Democratic and Republican budget negotiators from the House and Senate and it offers some welcome relief from the gridlock and dysfunction that sadly have become a hallmark of Washington.

We’ve long known that the sequester’s indiscriminate, across-the-board spending cuts are an irresponsible and inefficient way to budget.** In fact, sequestration has been so damaging to our economy that even some Republicans are now calling for its repeal. In a first step in this direction, the proposed budget compromise rolls back $63 billion in cuts that would have taken effect over the next two years and provides more flexibility for federal agencies struggling with the $85 billion of sequestration cuts that remain in place. This holds the promise that important programs like Head Start can be preserved over the next couple of years. The agreement also avoids harmful cuts to earned benefit programs that serve children, seniors, and the disabled.

There are certainly components of the deal that gave me pause. I was disappointed that federal employees took another hit in this package, which finances some of the sequester relief by cutting $6 billion from pension benefits for people who choose public service in the future. For the last few years, our dedicated public servants have been used as a deficit reduction piggy bank, contributing more than $114 billion in savings through pay freezes and increased pension contributions. It is unfair to repeatedly target federal employees and I believe there were better ways to raise an equivalent amount of revenue.

I was also very disappointed about a number of priorities that were not included in the bill.* Republican opposition to extending long term unemployment benefits will have an immediate and detrimental impact on 1.3 million job-seekers who will lose their benefits on December 28th. Though the job market has been improving, the economy is still not working as it should for average Americans. The damage will continue over the first half of next year when benefits will be cut off for an additional 1.9 million people looking for work. I plan to join many of my colleagues in urging that we retroactively restore these unemployment benefits in January.

The agreement is also silent on the critical investments that are necessary to get our country back on track. Our roads, public transit and water infrastructure are in desperate need of repair. Our commitment to education, research and scientific innovation is inadequate. These investments create jobs and there are responsible ways to pay for them. For starters, we should eliminate corporate subsidies for the oil and gas industry. In addition, our tax code is littered with special interest loopholes for the Wall Street crowd and those should be repealed.

Unfortunately, big money campaign donors and high powered lobbyists relentlessly defend these loopholes. Until we reform the way our political campaigns are financed [link has been removed as to not promote his message] so that every-day Americans have a real voice that can be heard in the policy-making process, these abuses will continue.

There is so much more work to be done. But in a year of frustrating political gridlock and partisan bickering, even modest progress is welcome. My hope is that this agreement will set the stage for additional cooperation on some of the tremendous challenges we face in the coming year.***

Happy holidays to you and yours!
John P. Sarbanes

Much of what he says is littered with the ‘promise’ of liberal reformism. Lest us not forget who his career funders are:

link to info:

His current donors are very similar. In addition, all of his PAC money seems to come from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, the country’s “largest organization of food and nutrition professionals” which OpenSecrets considers a business PAC. Overall, a sliver of the business community seems to support him, but none of the big name funders unless you count the $250 he received from Wells Fargo. Instead of this boiling down to his funding, which his funding likely reflects, there is something deeper. His position on the side of liberal reformism, in favor of the agreement, is benefiting the business community. Just looking at OpenCongress’s list only seven oppose it and many more support it**** To be exact, 96 separate groups support the proposal ranging from:

  • the business advocacy group called the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • trade association of the beverage industry (American Beverage Association)
  • trade association of the natural gas industry (American Gas Association)
  • trade association for the airlines industry (Airlines for America)
  • one of the most powerful business groups which has cozied up to Obama while being his “most important ally in the business community” (Business Roundtable)
  • trade association for financial institutions who have their hands in the retail lending and loan markets (Consumer Bankers Association)
  • trade association for the corn refining industry (Corn Refiners Association)
  • nuclear industry lobbying group (Nuclear Energy Institute)
  • trade association of the telecommunications industry (United States Telecom Association)
  • a seemingly powerful real estate interest group (Real Estate Roundtable)
  • trade association for the country’s beer distributors (National Beer Wholesalers Association)

This is only a small sampling of all of those who support the proposal. Sarbanes’s role in supporting this deal seems to remind me of what I read about James Madison in Charles Beard’s classic book, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, and also what I’ve read so far in William Hogeland’s Founding Finance: How Debt, Speculation, Foreclosures, Protests, and Crackdowns Made Us a Nation. Madison was not part of the economic elite at the time, but he helped to create a system that would coordinate their interests, in a federal system, in opposition to egalitarian populist uprisings of the time which were gaining strength on a state level, threatening such elite.***** Sarbanes is a sort of similar position as he has very low net worth, but he is supporting and pushing a proposal that would benefit the business community. This may be a horrible example, but regardless of that, there is one main point. That is the Sarbanes betrayal of the working class of Maryland and the nation as a whole. Instead of taking a noble stand by supporting the 32 Democrats who voted against the deal (along with 62 Republicans), he decided to vote for the bill, which increases the stakes of the class war that capitalistic billionaires such as Warren Buffet and George Soros have warned of and pushed for menial liberal reforms to ‘solve,’ and points to a failed understanding that inherently capitalism is the crisis.
*In some future article I may break this down for people to understand but from what I’ve heard, it is not good.

** Sarbanes did vote against the original sequestration proposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the American Taxpayer Relief Act, so he never really supported sequestration…

*** Despite his “disappointment” and “pause” with parts of the agreement, he defends it, almost reaffirming when Paul Ryan and Harry Reid, each in their different way, called for specific cuts to ‘solve’ the budgetary ‘crisis’ and avert a ‘grand bargain’ which President Obama has spoken of time and time again.  Interestingly, his letter could have easily been changed to advocate against the agreement, but he did not do so.

**** Three groups which deal with sustainable food and are opposed to genetically-modified food for good reason (iEat Green, Organic Consumers Association and Food Democracy Now!), two big union groups (National Education Association and AFL-CIO), along with two reactionary groups (Americans for Limited Government and the Family Research Council). Of these groups, none seem to have given to Sarbanes recently, which even doesn’t include the AFL-CIO.

***** This is probably a piss-poor description of the time, and misses A LOT of stuff, but I promise to write about this more in detail later. In the mean time, this section of my article in Dissident Voice which I still question, is a valid one for some background:

“There have been intermittent protests throughout history against greed…in the 1750s and 1790s [there were protests which had]…an integral role in the nation’s founding. William Hoegland writes, “Amid horrible depressions and foreclosure crises, from the 1750′s through the 1790′s, ordinary people closed debt courts, rescued debt prisoners, waylaid process servers, boycotted foreclosure actions, etc.” Hoegland continues that while these people were “legally barred from voting and holding office… they used their power of intimidation to pressure their legislatures for debt relief and popular monetary policies” and had “high hopes for American independence” since they helped “enable[e]… the Declaration of Independence.” This wave included what was called Shay’s Rebellion by the elites, which took place in 1786 in “western Massachusetts [where farmers]… marched on the state’s armory in Springfield to reverse regressive finance policies that had again plunged ordinary people into debt peonage and foreclosure while bailing out rich creditors.” Eventually this rebellion was crushed but resistance continued. In 1794 people were angry once again, so they “took over the militia and debt-court system throughout western Pennsylvania and western counties of neighboring states, flew their own flag, and tried to secede from the United States and form an economically egalitarian country”; they were eventually crushed by federal troops.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

EMI looks to censor ‘Camp 83 Mashup’

Recently, I checking up on my poor little YouTube channel with 18 subscribers and there were a number of copyright claims against my videos. Here’s what I’ve written about camp 83 just FYI. Here’s that video again for those who haven’t listened to my wonderful mashup:

I’ve won just about every dispute so far, and here’s what I submitted via the YouTube submission:

Camp 83 MASHUP
Please verify the following information:

Claims to dispute
“Megadeth-Breadline”, sound recording administered by:

Reason for dispute

This video uses copyrighted material in a manner that does not require approval of the copyright holder. It is a fair use under copyright law.
17 U.S.C. § 107, part of the Copyright Act of 1976 states: “Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 U.S.C. § 106 and 17 U.S.C. § 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use” and so on ( The use of the sound recording, Breadline, in the video titled ‘Camp 83 Mashup’ is not for news reporting or scholarship, but is being used for criticism and comment, in order to put the former homeless camp in Baltimore, Camp 83. In a bigger context, it will hopefully teach viewers and listeners at least something about the problems that the homeless Baltimoreans face. The mashup as a whole is meant to portray a message of people suffering in hopes that it will not only promote public awareness, and hopefully encourage people to push for a change in public policy of the Baltimore City government currently led by Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. This is why I am disputing this claim, as taking down this video, or even removing this bit of audio content would remove the rhythm of the mashup that I created, making it less palatable to the listener as well. I hope you make the right decision and rescind your claim. Thanks.
I have a good faith belief that the claim(s) described above have been made in error, and that I have the right(s) necessary to use the contents of my video for the reasons I have stated. I have not knowingly made any false statements, nor am I intentionally abusing this dispute process in order to interfere with the rights of others. I understand that filing fraudulent disputes may result in termination of my YouTube account.

Burkely Hermann

Now, this is the first claim I’ve had against this video.

camp 83

I’m already fighting two different copyright claims as well:

globalization remix obama tax cuts

Also for future reference, here are the repositories of BMI and ASCAP to check if people are scamming you. I now learned that UMG wants people to send approval notes to them before a song is published, but this utterly absurd.

Anyway, here’s what BMI says about the song ‘Breadline’:


You may be wondering what you can do. After all, EMI as an entity doesn’t exist anymore, but looking at the specifics on BMI I have some ideas since my dispute is “awaiting response by 01/02/14” by EMI:

  1. Email COPYRIGHTADMIN@EMIMUSICPUB.COM* to tell them to withdraw the copyright claim on my video, ‘Camp 83 Mashup‘.**
  2. Tweet @megadeath, @EMI_Records_JP, @emimusic, and @UMG to tell them to withdraw the copyright claim from ‘Camp 83 Mashup.’
  3. Watch the video as many times as you want, share it and spread it around. That’s what I tried to do originally, but failed miserably.

*if this email doesn’t work, or you want to be really bold, email [Universal Music Japan] about this as well.

**Just FYI, the song Breadline is ‘BMI Work #4830945’ just to be specific if you want to add that. Here’s the Wikipedia background of the song which was released a single, and released as part of an album that had Japanese Record Label Avex Trax (part of Avex Group) as the label it was published with

There has to be more, but that’s all I can think of for now aside from direct action and the like. Wish me luck!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting the inside scoop: a CCAN email sent by Mike Tidwell

In order to expose the rhetoric of CCAN, I might as well publish their email which I received in my email. Here it is [with all the graphics added in] in which they annoyingly say that the building of the LNG plant is a ‘radical’ idea:

—–Original Message—–
Sent: Fri, 22 Nov 2013 09:42:37 -0500 (EST)
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: What Dominion didn’t count on



It’s been barely two weeks since CCAN and more than 30 allied groups launched a statewide campaign to stop a radical idea: piping massive amounts of fracked gas through Maryland, liquefying it on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay at Cove Point, and shipping it off to Asia.

Since Nov. 5th, we’ve been crisscrossing Maryland on a nine-county tour and — wow — have people responded! We’ve met packed audiences from Frederick to Baltimore to Salisbury and everywhere in between. There’s no question that you are putting this issue “on the map” to journalists and politicians alike.

This is exactly what Dominion Resources, the Virginia-based company behind this fracked and liquefied gas export plan, didn’t count on…People like you rising up and drawing a line in the sand.

See pictures from tour stops across the state.Help us keep the pressure on: Call Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski today.

Help us keep the momentum going. Please phone Maryland’s U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski and ask them to demand a full Environmental Impact Statement for the massive Cove Point fracked gas export facility.

At tour stops across the state, you’ve been hand-writing letters to Governor O’Malley, urging him to demand that federal regulators complete a full and rigorous environmental review of Dominion’s mega-polluting plan.Now it’s time to ask our U.S. senators to take urgent action as well.

We know that Dominion doesn’t want to submit to a standard environmental review. Astonishingly, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is indicating that it will bow to Dominion’s wishes.

Our Maryland senators must lead in demanding that Dominion is held to the highest scrutiny — not the lowest — for a project that could trigger a whole new wave of fracking and pipelines across our region AND become the largest trigger of global warming pollution in Maryland!

Please phone Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski and ask them to demand a full Environmental Impact Statement for this massive Cove Point plan. Click here for the numbers and instructions to make your call.

And of course, we’re not just opposed to this radical fossil fuel scheme. We’re also in favor of a much better energy vision for our state that would double wind and solar use in Maryland in the coming decade. Clean, carbon-free energy will bring many more jobs and more economic gain to our state than exporting fracked gas ever could.

Click here to check out and share our latest, expanded fact sheet uncovering even more disturbing details about Dominion’s plan. And then stay plugged in to this campaign.

You are what Dominion didn’t count on. You are what will make the difference in keeping Maryland on course to clean energy.

Many thanks for all you do,
Mike Tidwell and the CCAN Maryland team

P.S. Follow the newest developments around Cove Point by visiting our blog several times per week. You’ll get the latest information from CCAN staffers and other campaign partners statewide who are UNITED in opposing this plan. Plus you’ll see all the extensive media coverage our efforts — thanks to you — are bringing to the issue. Make our blog part of your weekly routine.

P.P.S. See below some of the great civic, faith, labor advocacy, and environmental groups who have co-sponsored the statewide “Maryland Crossroads 2013” tour:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Checking my privilege

Yesterday was just a normal day. I had a full basket of clothes and I took them down to the washer. I started it and walked away. Quickly, I realized that I had misplaced my phone, and raced down back to the laundry room, stopping the washer. I took it up, dripping with water, and as I laid in my bed before I went to asleep, I attempted to dry it but nothing changed except for a rarely flickering screen. As I write this, my phone sits in a container of rice, hopefully drying away from prying eyes. This whole experience, made me think about the white privilege I enjoy. I have briefly read about the criticisms of the concept of white privilege, and I wholly understand that not all whites gain the ‘benefits’ from their race as it is inside a class structure, but still my race affects my life experience intently. This article is meant to check my own privilege and reveal for those who don’t realize it, how it exists.

There are a number of privileges I enjoy as a young white cisgender man. The first of these is no discernible discrimination that I can recollect. The only time I remember ever being discriminated at all was when a parent accidentally called me a girl in a gym class, basically misgendering me. As noted in one of the episodes of the documentary series, Unnatural Causes, some scientists say that not only does socioeconomic status among blacks affects births but racism is a risk factor in birth, affects status of black babies and higher education affects birth status. These scientists also said that stress from continual discrimination over a life could lead to worse birth outcomes since racism is a type of stressor like losing a job, and anything else, and there is a persistence of institutionalized racism in American society which reinforces inequality.

There is another privilege I enjoy: no jail or prison time. This is probably due to my carefulness in part, but I have definitely violated laws in the past, and there was no arrest for me at all. Racial profiling and ‘stop and frisk’ programs, present across the country in cities such as Detroit, Baltimore and New York City, target usually poor people of color, not whites. The reason for this in a large part is due to what a zine by the Beehive Collective about the now-defunct Free Trade Area of the Americas: “…racial profiling, inadequate legal representation, and racist drug sentencing laws conspire to create a shameful scenario in which the US drug sentencing laws conspire to create a shameful scenario in which the US incarcerates a greater percentage of its black men than the South African regime did under apartheid.” It is this system of mass incarceration, combined with the ‘war on drugs’ which benefits private contractors (part of the prison-industrial-complex), Wall Street, and the prison system but not the oppressed peoples of the United States.

There is something more: I haven’t been deported from the country and separated from my family, all because I came to this country to get a better economic opportunity, which ended up being a manufactured reality. Immigrant communities, especially undocumented immigrants from Mexico have been vilified by the corporate mass media, politicians and confused whites, who have been distracted from the real problems that face them such as NAFTA, corporate globalization and capitalism itself by the right-wing propaganda machine. When I had a summer job, there were no checks of IDs or fear of being deported for being ‘illegal,’ things that undocumented immigrants face every day.

All my life, I’ve lived in areas that have been occupied by people who have been the same race as me by high majorities. This comes with a further privilege: not thinking about the color of my skin. Such a discussion was even addressed comically on The Daily Show, with a white panel repudiating racism, and blacks saying it is very present in American society. Since racism was a function of slavery, even though in much of the ‘First World’ the concept of slavery has disappeared away* the psychological attitudes of racism have stayed around. While I think about my race, I likely don’t think about as much as those who are in oppressed groups, such as Blacks, Latinos, Asians, indigenous Americans, do on a daily basis.

There is one final privilege: getting as far as I have in the educational system. After all while high school graduates in the population above 24 years old is above 85%, this quickly drops to the mid-thirties, according to US Census data. Just by demographics, one could say that since more than 72% of the population is white, it is likely that just from this, most graduates would be white. However, looking at other data, one finds that of the approximately 115 million households, around 52 million [45%] of them bring in less than $50,000 per year, which only a little less than the median household income, using 2011 dollars. This makes the pool of people going to college to be even less than one would originally think, and thanks to the rising cost of tuition, a good amount of people are not going to college. Even if they are, they are likely becoming chained to their debt, a bubble that continues to get bigger and bigger.* There is something more which is that the dropout rates of Latinos and Blacks out of high school are higher than those of whites, and this is another privilege in some regards. I say in some regards because high school graduation rates are the highest they’ve been in thirty years. However, this is an average, meaning that it still is a privilege because not everyone in disadvantaged and oppressed communities gets a chance to go to a school that has adequate supplies, and due to societal, social and other factors, they don’t graduate.

In the end, let me say that while white privilege is not the best construct, it does help one understand the divisions in society racially, but this must be taken into caution as class (class privilege), age, gender (like male privilege, cis privilege, and heteronormatity), disability (as in able-bodied privilege) and other distinctions also play into this, along with the capitalist system itself.

*This is unless you consider debt slavery, wage slavery or slavery in working for a company as described in part of Food Inc. But, these types of slavery need a whole other discussion.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Two Dutch “justice has been served” Ruppersburger letters you don’t wanna miss

*The title refers to the statement made by Congressman Ruppersburger (officially as a statement of the committee he leads) that the conviction of whistleblower Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning:

“Justice has been served today. PFC Manning harmed our national security, violated the public’s trust, and now stands convicted of multiple serious crimes. There is still much work to be done to reduce the ability of criminals like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden to harm our national security. The House Intelligence Committee continues to work with the Intelligence Community to improve the security of classified information and to put in place better mechanisms to detect individuals who abuse their access to sensitive information.”

Letter #1: Afghanistan (the war continues, important parts bolded):

Dear Mr. Hermann:
Thank you for your letter in support of drawing down American troops in
Afghanistan. I agree that we should bring home as many of our troops as
possible, as soon as possible. As you know, the United States and its partner countries are reducing military involvement in Afghanistan as Afghan security forces assume primary responsibility for security in their own country. The process of a military draw-down is a complicated one that takes time. In addition to personnel, we must also transport millions of dollars in state-of-the-art equipment back to the United States. Congress has been assured that the current security mission will conclude at the end of 2014 and will likely transition to a far smaller mission consisting mostly of training and mentoring the Afghanistan National Security Forces. The size of this “residual force,” which will be negotiated between the U.S. and Afghanistan, might be announced
later this year.
Our humanitarian and reconstruction missions will continue beyond 2014.

Please do not hesitate to contact me again in the future if you have any questions or comments. To receive additional information about issues that are facing Congress, Maryland, and the Nation that may affect you and your community, please visit my Web site at and sign up for my periodic e-mail newsletter.

C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger
Member of Congress

Letter #2: Why we need a colonial presence in the N. Marinas (part bolded):

This letter acknowledges receipt of your correspondence concerning proposed United States military activity in the Northern Mariana Islands. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue, and I welcome the opportunity to respond to your concerns. As you may know, the Navy has proposed to implement live-fire military training areas on the Tinian and Pagan Islands within the Northern Mariana Islands. The purpose behind this proposed action is to strengthen and enhance training for American military services in the Western Pacific region. The Marine Corps Forces, Pacific (MarForPac) is currently conducting both an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as well as an Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (OEIS) to address and evaluate the potential environmental impacts that military activity would have on these islands. Such issues to be considered include noise pollution, socioeconomic impacts, the protection of biological resources, water and air quality, and the threat of hazardous materials and waste, among others. The public will have the opportunity to comment on this proposal until late 2015, at which time a final decision is expected to be granted by the military. I am strongly committed to protecting our fragile natural resources, both at home and around the globe. I also understand the importance of providing our men and women in uniform with the resources they need in order to protect the United States. Please know that I will keep your thoughts in mind should legislation related to this issue come before the full House of Representatives for a vote.

Please do not hesitate to contact me again in the future if you have any questions or comments. To receive additional information about issues that are facing Congress, Maryland, and the Nation that may affect you and your community, please visit my Web site at and sign up for my periodic e-mail newsletter.

C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger
Member of Congress

Posted in activism, Baltimore, banks, corporations, drones, maryland, Politics, war | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A moderate plan for wage justice

Since The Point News sucks, and didn’t publish my piece, I’m publishing my opinion piece here. It was geared toward an audience at St. Mary’s College but that ain’t happening. It is as follows:

The recent struggle of students and staff on St. Mary’s Campus for a living wage, and caps on executive pay, has broader connotations than one might think. This plan, formally called the St. Mary’s Wages proposal, is deeply rooted in the thoughts of an ancient Greek thinker, Aristotle.

One of Aristotle’s main thoughts in his book, Politics, was that there should be moderation in everything. As Abiola Akanni pointed out in a September 21st op-ed in The Point News, the plan for more equitable wages is very moderate: “…I’m not suggesting that in embracing just wage policies, we would reverse the nationwide story of the dissolving middle class. What I am suggesting, is that in embracing just wage policies we would be putting our money where our mouths are… the St. Mary’s Wages proposal…would set all wages on campus relative to a living wage…Adopting this proposal would guarantee a living wage to all college employees…that wouldn’t deteriorate or disappear even with inflation over time.”  This proposal dramatically improves the wagescape, setting up a tiered system that makes sure workers get a living wage, or the minimum amount of money needed to meet basic needs.

Still, there is something even deeper. The two ancient thinkers, Plato and Aristotle, agreed that the community and state have a higher value than the individual. The wage justice proposal does the same by valuing the needs of the campus workers above those of school administration, who have been getting pay raises while everyone else has been suffering. Simply put, this proposal pushes the betterment of the St. Mary’s community, rather than the wants of the individual. On a broader societal level, this struggle is being fought in the hallways and patios of universities, outside of fast food establishments and inside department stores, as workers fight for wage justice and a living wage that will improve their well-being.

Some people may reject this argument pointing out the views of Plato or Aristotle they consider detestable or unwise. This is not the place to talk about how Aristotle strangely and horrifying thought that some were natural slaves, or how Plato thought that that some are born superior to others and that the populace was ignorant. That is a debate one can have in the social justice clubs on campus or in one of my favorite classes, Democratic Political Thought which is taught by Professor Boros. Some, like a commenter on The Point News website, say that the raise proposed under the plan is not enough, which an understandable position and those with similar views should help fine tune the proposal. There are others like the President of the St. Mary’s faculty senate, Alan Dillingham, who told the Baltimore Sun that “you can get a [university] president for probably $150,000, but that might not be the kind of person you want.” A similar point was made at presidential selection search forum on October 4th by a woman in the audience. This point, while seemingly valid is a strange one because under the plan itself, as noted on the official website (, the college President would receive $299,760 every year, $25,740 less than they currently make. There are other technical arguments against this proposal as well. Even, Dillingham, who used technical arguments against the proposal, as noted in an article on SoMDNews, said that “these kinds of initiatives are not uncommon at all…these are driven by equity concerns by someone’s sense of fairness…There’s been no real rhyme or reason to the compensation increases given in the last four years,” and said that some framework needs to be put in place for pay increases and salaries.

As this plan affects the whole community, any concerns or suggestions can be incorporated into the final proposal. Let me clear: it is great to have a discussion on the St. Mary’s Wages proposal on campus, as all views on this issue will help build a more constructive plan that will consider the views of the stakeholders of this community: the students, the staff, the faculty and others. To be clear, the wage injustice on campus makes Plato’s idea in Book V of The Republic very applicable: when one is hurt, all feel the pain since all pain and suffering is interconnected. This mirrors what Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in a Letter From Birmingham Jail in 1963: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” In the end, the St. Mary’s Wages proposal will take one step to address the injustice in our backyard: St. Mary’s College.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A radical’s perspective on CCAN’s stop at St. Mary’s College

At PowerShift which I wrote about on October 27th, CCAN was talking about a whole new threat: a liquified natural gas export facility in Maryland. I had done some research into this myself, and I found out:

  1. There is already a liquefied natural gas facility at Cove Point but it only imports the gas
  2. The facility has its own pipeline already that connects to a mega pipeline going across the Southern part of the country and others run by Columbia Gas.
  3. The Washington Post editorial board approves of the facility
  4. And the corrupted nature of FERC (I made the below image to show this):

we are totally fucked

Anyway, “livetweeted” this event (to the best of my ability) and here’s what I said*

Let us also also not forget that “the Chesapeake Climate Action Network was officially launched on July 1, 2002 with a seed grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund” according to CCAN’s own history. It has also received since 2008 $120,000 in grants from this same fund. This is relevant when you consider the Gang Green groups like being funded by the same groups which received $225,000 from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund each year (in 2012 and 2013). Thinking back, this funding of CCAN makes sense considering their interesting board members and allies (lot of NGOs), support for, and all of the T-Shirts and stickers which seemed to be mass produced. I was able to snag a t-shirt for free at the beginning, but they were selling T-shirts for money that would go somewhere (back into CCAN?) not giving them out for free. I wondered while I was there how a ‘grassroots’ organization could have the money for those resources and now I know why. I did find it funny that there seemed to be a clashing of views between those who were reformist and those who were radical.

One could try to criticize the sponsors of this campaign, but they range from non-profits to good organizations like Red Emma’s Bookstore Coffeehouse. I have a deeper fear: CCAN will promote reformist solutions and methods not involving direct action like signing petitions, writing letters, and the like, but not civil disobedience. In addition, it seemed that Mike Tidwell liked to promote Governor O’Malley as a good person and this worried me deeply considering the background of Maryland and Fracking and what I’ve written about him in the past. Also, this article about fracking in Pennsylania in the Baltimore Sun is very relevant as well. Tidwell also Despite this, his talk was very informative which was good. At the same time, I realize that many are against this proposal, and I stand against the building of this facility, but I also don’t want any organizations to become organs of CCAN or any organization like that as the chalking as noted by tweets of the SMCM chapter of SDS by SEAC for the event must be noted. In the end, we must not only challenge capitalism itself, but there must be a rejection of the false solutions as described by Rising Tide North America.

* By the word ‘armed’ I am saying Tidwell is talking about the armed forces. The tweet about the former Armed Forces member says that is one speaking after he won the ‘Climate hero’ award. The third to last tweet should say: ‘and tidwell says there’ before the word ‘maybe.’ It was interesting how someone noted that O’Malley passed a law giving tax subsidies to Dominion, but Tidwell didn’t consider it much of a concern. On another note, what makes me uneasy as well is CCAN’s cap and dividend plan. It seems to remind me too much of cap & trade. I find it interesting that Tidwell backed natural gas in the past but now criticizes people for saying that natural gas should be a bridge fuel. Also if you want to learn how to imbed tweets, I recommend you go here. Also, there was two laws passed abt. gas pipelines in the last legislative session as noted on pgs. 5 and 6 of this PDF & below:

gas laws

Posted in activism, Chesapeake Bay, environment, maryland, Politics, Western Maryland | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments