economy – Chicago Newstips by Community Media Workshop http://www.newstips.org Chicago Community Stories Mon, 08 Jan 2018 18:45:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.13 Here we go again http://www.newstips.org/2013/02/here-we-go-again/ Wed, 27 Feb 2013 03:51:17 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=7000 The Donors Forum is warning of “an immediate series of drastic cuts to community services,” along with the loss of thousands of jobs in Illinois, unless Congress acts this week to head off spending reductions contained in sequestration.

While sequestration is “framed as an impersonal budget deficit fix for the future,” the reality is “these cuts will damage people now,” said Delia Coleman, public policy director of the group, in an e-mail.

Sequestration would mean $33.4 million less for primary and secondary education in Illinois, $24.7 million less for children with disabilities, and millions of dollars in cuts to pollution prevention, health and human services, public safety and domestic violence programs.

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The situation results from the political and economic miscalculations of President Obama, beginning with his embrace of deficit reduction as a priority in his first term, writes Robert Kuttner in American Prospect.

At stake, he writes, are the economic recovery and the success of Obama’s presidency.

“The automated reductions of the sequester are only the prologue to a decade-long drama, in which the economy faces one budget squeeze after another, all but guaranteeing a prolonged slump. Unless Congress repudiates the 2011 Budget Control Act, and President Obama blows up the entire paradigm that produced it, a fragile recovery will be the victim of budgetary masochism.”

Currently Obama is offering Republicans a “grand bargain,” in which he would trade $130 billion in cuts to Social Security benefits in exchange for tax increases on the wealthy.

“Though too few Democrats will come right out and say it, there is a far better path to both economic recovery and eventual stabilization of the debt ratio,” Kuttner writes. “We need to increase public spending in the next few years, using both deficit spending and higher taxes on the wealthy, to get the economy back on a high-growth path….

“With a program of economic expansion, we can reach a stable long-term debt ratio, but at a higher level of economic output and a more broadly shared prosperity. The goal is economic recovery – and the recovery improves the debt ratio, not the other way around.”

He cites the European experience as a cautionary tale — and notes that budget cuts sent the economy into contraction in the last quarter of last year:

“As the Greeks have painfully learned over and over again, you can cut spending and raise taxes, and the deficit just keeps growing larger — because you are destroying your economy. The same has been demonstrated for Spain, Portugal, and Britain. Something similar occurred on a more modest scale in the fourth quarter of 2012 right at home.”

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“As pundits and the Washington establishment hone in on the sequester this week, what remains unfortunate in this picture is that there is still little willingness to talk realistically about the relationship between the economy and the budget deficit,” writes Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

“Both parties have played into the myth that out-of-control budget deficits are a chief economic problem. Democrats have pushed this line to call attention to the Bush tax cuts and the fact that he did not pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Republicans push the line to feed the notion that government is overspending….

“Rather than being a bad thing, the deficit is providing a needed boost to the economy. There is no plausible story whereby private-sector demand will fill the gap created by a smaller deficit.

“Whether they know it or not, those pushing for smaller deficits are promoting less growth and more unemployment. It would be the best possible outcome of the sequester debate if this simple point could be made in polite circles in Washington again.

“Until we have a reality based discussion of the budget and the economy, the only question will be how much we lose from the latest deal.”

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Warning on Social Security, Medicare cuts http://www.newstips.org/2012/10/warning-on-social-security-medicare-cuts/ Tue, 30 Oct 2012 00:43:23 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=6723 Seniors, people with disabilities, and the poor shouldn’t be pushed over a “fiscal cliff” manufactured by politicians.

That’s the message of a coalition of senior, disability, community and labor organizations that is hosting an accountability sessions with local members of Congress, Tuesday, October 30, 4 p.m., at the Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington.

Representatives Danny Davis and Jan Schakowsky have confirmed their attendance, and others are expected, said Gary Arnold of Access Living.

Sponsors of the event include Access Living, Illinois Alliance of Retired Americans, IIRON, Jane Addams Senior Caucus, Jobs With Justice, and the Lakeview Action Coalition.

They’ll ask legislators to oppose cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in any resolution of the impasse over the debt ceiling to be considered in Congress after the November 6 election.

Neither Democratic nor Republican proposals – nor automatic cuts set to go into effect if no deal is reached – are good options, said Tom Wilson of Access Living.

Democrats would reach deficit reduction goals with a mix of heavy budget cuts and increased taxes on the wealthy; Republicans have proposed only spending cuts.  A “sequestration” plan if no deal is reached would involve 8 percent across-the-board cuts in domestic and military spending.

“Any of the solutions they’re talking about would drive us right back into recession, throw a lot of people out of work, and send the economy into a downward spiral,” said Wilson.

He said for people with disabilities, sequestration would actually impact Medicaid less than either the Democratic or Republican proposals.

The coalition is calling on legislators to back the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for all taxpayers and a financial transaction tax that could raise billions of dollars, he said.

The groups are also backing Schakowsky’s Emergency Jobs Act (HR 2914) and the Principal Reduction Act (HR 3841), which would require Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reduce principal on loans to underwater homeowners.

Those bills “would give millions of people the tools and resources to stay in their homes, get back to work, and contribute to their communities,” said Arnold.

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AG Madigan to back ‘maximum’ homeowner relief http://www.newstips.org/2012/06/ag-madigan-to-back-maximum-homeowner-relief/ Fri, 08 Jun 2012 19:40:58 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=6360 At a rally with community organizations on Sunday, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is expected to commit to pressing for “maximum” mortgage relief for underwater homeowners as part of the federal-state investigation into bank fraud.

She’ll appear with the regional organizing network IIRON on Sunday, June 10 at 3 p.m. at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 8441 S. St. Lawrence.  IIRON will also be unveiling a new Covenant for Economic Justice.

It’s a significant step for Madigan, who’s a member of an Obama administration task force investigating securitization fraud in the foreclosure crisis, organizers say.

Last year IIRON pressed Madigan to hold out for more money to help homeowners wrongfully foreclosed on in the robo-signing settlement by state attorney generals. Though the monetary settlement in that case was disappointing, grassroots pressure did result in limiting banks’ immunity from liability in the deal, said David Hatch of IIRON.

He said IIRON and groups including National People’s Action are calling for $350 billion worth of principal reduction for underwater homeowners.  An NPA report last year estimated underwater homeowners in the U.S. owe a total of $700 billion more than their homes are worth.

Stealth bailout

That’s a serious drag on the economy, these groups argue, taking hundreds of billions of dollars out of the consumer economy – and a “stealth bailout” of banks, which caused the housing crash through reckless and predatory lending practices, and which have received trillions of dollars in bailouts and backstops, most of which will never be repaid.

Large-scale principal reduction would set the housing market on a firm foundation and constitute a significant economic stimulus – and boost to government revenues – and no cost to taxpayers.

One obstacle to large-scale relief is the opposition of Federal Home Finance Administration interim director Edward DeMarco, who has blocked government-backed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – which together own 70 percent of the nation’s mortgages – from carrying out principal reduction.

Madigan recently wrote DeMarco calling on him to reverse that policy.  IIRON, NPA, and others have called on President Obama to replace DeMarco.

IIRON and other local groups were among a thousand NPA members who protested last month at FHFA offices in Washington D.C., Hatch said.

Values

The Covenant on Economic Justice is “a conscious attempt to change the conversation about what our economy should look like” by reclaiming the idea of values from those who maintain “that justice can be distributed through the market, that basic human needs should be treated like commodities,” Hatch said.

The document addresses economic justice, public services, democratic principles, living wages and workers rights, and environmental protection.

As a faith-based network of grassroots organizations, IIRON “will put these values to work in our organizing around issues,” Hatch said.  “Whether in the housing crisis and foreclosure prevention or calling for services instead of cuts and for taxing the rich, all our work is evidence that we mean it when we sign.”

The group is also calling on JPMorgan/Chase to “return the favor” of its taxpayer bailout by turning vacant foreclosed properties over to nonprofit housing groups for use as affordable rental properties.

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Austerity in Chicago http://www.newstips.org/2012/05/austerity-in-chicago/ Thu, 17 May 2012 23:19:55 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=6209 As European voters increasingly reject the austerity program, community leaders here are proposing alternatives to Mayor Emanuel’s agenda of spending cuts and privatization– an approach they say hurts working families and stifles economic recovery.

“We are saying there are ways of looking at budget- and policy-making other than just cut, cut, cut,” said Michael Bennett, a sociology professor at DePaul University, one of the coordinators of a group of local activists and scholars meeting this weekend to develop a local public policy agenda “that gives priority to social justice, balanced community development, and responsible fiscal management.”

The Chicago Equity and Fiscal Policy Initiative will release working papers on the city budget, schools, community and the environment, and economic development and jobs, at a gathering with the theme Act Locally Chicago this Saturday, May 19, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Erie Neighborhood House, 1347 W. Erie.

“We have to focus just as much on neighborhoods as we do on downtown,” Bennett said. “It has not been balanced.”

The working papers and policy recommendations are aimed at starting a conversation, he said. One of their goals is to maintain public services that are threatened by privatization. They’ll talk about reallocating existing resources more fairly, and about longer-term solutions to raise revenues more sustainably.

Devastating

Their initiative reflects concerns that are widespread among community organizations.

“What’s happening under Mayor Emanuel is a microcosm of what’s happening around the world,” said Amisha Patel of the Grassroots Collaborative, a citywide coalition of labor and community organizations.

“Politicians are pushing austerity, saying the government has to cut spending, but it’s really devastating to the local economy and to people’s lives,” she said. “It’s the worst thing we can do in economically challenging times. For the economy to have a chance we have to invest in the public sector and public services.

“When you cut resources going to low-income families, you hurt the people who put money back into the economy most directly, she said. “And you end up paying through the back end: when you cut mental health services, it costs you more in hospitalizations, in incarceration.”

The city continues to “move resources out of the neighborhoods and into downtown,” she said, pointing to a $29-million city subsidy for a new office building in the West Loop announced this week.

Regressive

Emanuel has cut taxes on corporations (where profit levels are at record highs) while “focusing on revenue generation that saps working families – quadrupling water fees, installing speed cameras, higher fees and fines,” she said. “We’ve got to have revenue solutions that don’t hurt working families.”

Chicago’s fiscal crisis is compounded by several factors, said Ron Baiman of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. Locked in political stalemate, the federal government is cutting domestic spending, and the state’s budget crisis is exacerbated by a constitutional provision mandating a flat-rate income tax. (On top of that, Illinois is one of the top states for corporate subsidies.)

The basic problem is that the tax burden is concentrated on the people who have been hurt most badly in the recession, he said.

In addition, the majority of income earned in the city goes to people who pay taxes in the suburbs – an estimated 620,000 commuters earn $30 billion a year. Emanuel is phasing out the corporate head tax, a modest per-employee charge for large companies, which was the only mechanism the city had for capturing some of that. Baiman said a city income tax would be the most efficient approach.

On top of that dynamic, city workforce reductions have hit black and Latino communities hardest, while city subsidies to downtown developments have mostly created jobs for suburban residents.

Baiman points out that Chicago has the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Chicago Board of Trade, and the Chicago Options Exchange – and that a tiny financial transaction tax could raise huge amounts of money for the city.

“The only real answer is taxing the wealthy and the financial sector,” he said.

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Occupy Austin, Occupy Bronzeville http://www.newstips.org/2011/10/occupy-austin-occupy-bronzeville/ Fri, 28 Oct 2011 21:51:06 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=4873 Occupy Austin and Occupy Bronzeville, joined by people from Occupy Chicago, will begin a new drive to occupy foreclosures at actions on the West and South Sides tomorrow.

They’ll rally with tenants of a foreclosed building who are resisting what they say are illegal attempts to evict them from a 12-unit rental building, just two weeks after foreclosure.

Federal law requires tenants be given at least 90 days to move.  (See the recent Newstips post, Foreclosure and tenants: Banks break the law.)

“We’re saying these folks will not be moved,” said Elce Redmond of South Austin Coalition.  He said Occupy Austin would continue “organizing people on a day-to-day basis against the big banks.”  Their goal is “nonviolent mass organization to fight the greed and corruption of the top 1 percent and restore democracy in America.”

Redmond said the Lawyers Committee for Better Housing is representing the tenants in a lawsuit.

The rally starts at 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 29, at 5960 W. North.

From there the groups will head to a housing resource fair at IIT’s Herman Hall, 3241 S. Federal where they’ll talk with homeowners seeking mortgage modifications.

“We want to see how many homeowners get modifications,” said Willie J. R. Fleming of the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign, a core group in Occupy Bronzeville, which is part of a nationwide Occupy the Hood movement.

“There are a lot of resource fairs going on since the collapse of the financial system, but we still have millions of people losing their homes,” Fleming said. “We want to see if this is a real solution or just a dog and pony show.”

They’re laying plans to occupy foreclosed homes as well as blighted commercial spaces, which they want to turn into community centers, he said.  (This is a tactic that’s worked in Boston, Mark Konzcal writes at New Deal 2.0.)

Meanwhile Occupy Chicago is regrouping – and exploring options to lease indoor space — since the city turned down the group’s request for a permanent location on Thursday, spokesperson Sugar Russell said.

They could use a space for teach-ins and trainings, as well as a place to warm up, she said.

But she notes that their current location at LaSalle and Jackson – in front of Bank of America, across the street from the Federal Reserve – is not without its significance.

That’s especially true since last week, when anonymous regulators leaked to Bloomberg that the Fed was okaying BOFA’s shift of trillions of dollars worth of derivatives from its Merrill Lynch unit to a subsidiary that’s insured by the FDIC – over the FDIC’s objections.

The FDIC’s deposit insurance fund finally turned positive in June, now amounting to just $3.9 billion.  A failure by troubled BOFA, which no one seems to be discounting, would require the FDIC to go to Congress for a bailout, possibly several times the size of TARP.

As Robert Reich argues, the situation shows the wisdom of the Glass-Steagall Act, which (until the year 2000) kept investment banks seperate from government-insured commercial banks – and underscores the need to break up “too big to fail” banks.

MSNBC senior editor James Carney calls it “outrageous” that BOFA is “obviously exploiting government backing for profit.”  Bloomberg’s Jonathan Weil says it reinforces the popular impression that the Fed “puts big banks’ interests above those of ordinary taxpayers.”

More from Yves Smith, William K. Black, and most bleakly, Christopher Whalen.  Locally only ENews Park Forest seems to have noted the story.

And more attention is coming.  On Monday, National Peoples Action and the New Bottom Line Campaign will launch an online campaign to press BOFA to stop financing payday loans.

“Big banks like BOFA borrow money from the Fed at less than 1 percent interest, then lend that to payday lenders at 3 percent, who then turn around and lend money in our communities at 400 percent or more,” according to a note from NPA.

Elsewhere, the anti-corporate Adbusters magazine, which initiated the call to occupy Wall Street in September, is urging a global day of action Saturday in support of the “Robin Hood tax,” which is what they’ve dubbed the financial transaction tax.  That idea has gotten some attention in Chicago locally, with a modest proposal from Stand Up Chicago and the Chicago Political Economy Group (see previous post), but it’s a very live issue for the G20 Summit that convenes in Cannes on November 3.

There it’s backed by the governments of France and Germany as well as the European Union, which recently moved to adopt a continent-wide tax on speculation.  It’s being blocked by the Obama administration.

“Let’s send them a clear message: We want you to slow down some of that $1.3 trillion easy money that’s sloshing around the global casino each day — enough cash to fund every social program and environmental initiative in the world,” Adbusters writes.

“It’s obvious you have no idea how to get us out of this economic mess you put us in,” the magazine tells the elite. “So now we are telling you what we want: a radical transformation of casino capitalism.”

The tax would not only raise as much as $400 billion a year and offset the effects of the global crisis, which has thrown 60 million people into poverty worldwide, according to Oxfam America; it would target the spit-second computer-generated speculation that leaves the world’s economy so unstable.

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’99 Percent’ vs. CME tax break http://www.newstips.org/2011/10/99-percent-vs-cme-tax-break/ Tue, 25 Oct 2011 21:10:57 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=4856 CME has been successfully bidding for the attention of Illinois politicians – and now regular folks are starting to notice.

On Tuesday, a statewide allliance is protesting at City Hall and then marching to State Senate President John Cullerton’s office to protest his legislation granting a $50 million tax break to CME, owner of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Chicago Board of Trade.

On Wednesday, a coalition of community and labor groups will launch a campaign to derail CME’s tax break – and press for a small financial transaction tax on CME trades – with a march on protest at the Chicago Board of Trade and a stand with Occupy Chicago.

“It’s a shakedown,” said Mehrdad Azemun of National Peoples Action, of the new tax break.  NPA is one of several regional and statewide networks of community and church groups that are joining to protest the measure on Tuesday.

“Corporations as large as these need to pay their fair share, especially at a time when every day brings news of more cuts to state and city programs, more police stations being closed.”

He points out that just a few years ago, CME threatened to leave – and then promised to stay, after it received a $15 million TIF subsidy and millions more in property tax breaks.

“Our sense is that the state leaders and the Chicago mayor are just giving in to threat after threat,” he said.  “It’s really not a responsible way to govern – and it’s not a responsible way to run a budget.”

To Cullerton and Mayor Emanuel, who have made the tax break a top priority for the veto session, Rev. Marilyn Pagan Banks of Northside POWER said, “We are demanding that you reverse your position, and stop acting only for the 1 percent.  We need you to stand with the 99 percent.”

On Wednesday, the community-labor coalition Stand Up Chicago will march from the Chase Plaza at Dearborn and Monroe (starting at 11:45 a.m.) and join Occupy Chicago at LaSalle and Jackson for a press conference.  Members of Workers United will be donating winter wear and sleeping bags to Occupy Chicago.

Speakers will include Workers United president Noel Beasley.

They’ll proceed for more activity across the street to the Chicago Board of Trade, where they’ll protest Cullerton’s tax break and continue building a campaign for a financial transaction tax.

“In this age of austerity, it’s obvious that we can’t afford to be offering more tax breaks to corporations that are most assuredly in the black,” said Susan Hurley of Chicago Jobs with Justice, part of the Stand Up coalition.  (CME’s profits last year were over $950 million, and they’re even higher this year.)

“And we need to create tax instruments to generate funds to keep our ship of state afloat,” she added.

The transaction tax – just 25 cents on an average trade of $233,000 – would be charged to traders, not the exchanges themselves.  But with 12 million trades a day, the fee would generate over a billion dollars a year, supporters say.  (See our earlier report for more detail.)

Cullerton’s tax break would also apply to the Chicago Board of Options Exchange; with additional tax breaks in the legislation, its total cost could be $100 million a year.  The transaction tax would also apply to trades on the CBOE.

NPA’s Azemun and Stand’s Catherine Murrell said members of their coalitions would be contacting their legislators to oppose Cullerton’s bill.

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‘An amazing convergence’ http://www.newstips.org/2011/10/an-amazing-convergence/ Thu, 13 Oct 2011 22:34:42 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=4821 It’s been a remarkable week in Chicago, a nonstop whirl of protests targeting the financial industry and government collusion with corporations, and demanding action on jobs, housing, and schools.

Coming Friday:  a rally for “jobs not cuts,” with MoveOn, Stand Up Chicago, Chicago Jobs With Justice and Occupy Chicago joining forces, at noon at the Federal Plaza.

Occupy Chicago gets much credit for capturing the public’s imagination – and for their 24-7 commitment and important organizational innovations.  But it was community groups and unions that staged some of the most dramatic and creative actions here this week.

“It’s an amazing convergence,” said Adam Kader of Arise Chicago.

It was activists from National People’s Action who kayaked down the Chicago River, past the Mortgage Bankers Assocation meeting, dressed as Robin Hood, on Monday.

It was Rev. Patrick Daymond of Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation and others who “embedded” themselves in an MBA session and took the floor there.  “We asked how they could sleep at night,” Dayden said, according to Progress Illinois.  “We asked how they can show their faces in Chicago knowing the devastation they have brought to our communities.”

On Tuesday, it was Action Now members who dumped garbage taken from a foreclosed, bank-owned inadequately-secured West Side home on the floor of Bank of America (five women aged 56 to 80 were arrested in the action).

Also Tuesday, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council members boarded up a vacant home owned by JPM Chase and brought a bill for the work to the bank’s downtown office; Albany Park Neighborhood Council members protested at the Chicago Association of Realtors.

Outside the MBA meeting, members of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs erected a sukkah, inviting MBA participants inside the ritual shelter (constructed for Sukkot, the holiday which marks the Israelite’s period of homeless wandering in the desert) to hear personal testimony from victims of the housing crisis.

Members of SOUL were arrested trying to enter the MBA conference.

On Wednesday, it was the Grassroots Collaborative which set up a giant Slushie – symbolizing the use of TIF as a corporate slush fund – and then held a “corporate welfare” trolley tour of downtown TIF subsidy recipients.

Also Wednesday, 100 teachers marched through the lobby of Bank of America, demanding the bank renegotiate “toxic rate swaps” they say are robbing Chicago schools of millions of dollars.

Thursday there was a series of protests at low-wage employers – and in the afternoon, Stand Up Chicago set up a casino outside the Chicago Board of Trade while demanding a financial transaction tax to pay for a Chicago Jobs Fund (discussed here last Saturday).

“It feels different,” said Kader, who’s been involved with Stand Up Chicago in planning the week’s actions – timed for two financial industry summits – for several months.  “In the past we would turn out our members,” but this time he’s been struck by the number of unaffiliated folks and passersby joining in.  “There’s something out there, and we just have to say here’s a time and place to come together.”

Media attention was notably greater than past protests – for example, see this Newstip on “anemic” local coverage of NPA’s 5,000-strong demostration at the American Bankers Association here in October 2009.

Only Mary Bottari of the Center for Media Democracy notes another convergence, tying the week’s protests to Mayor Emanuel’s efforts “to balance budget deficits on the back of public workers.”  (She also notes the recent revelation of Emanuel’s role as White House chief of staff in dissuading President Obama from his initial inclination to break up big banks, which progressives argue became dangerously oversized after the wall between commercial and investment banking was torn down in 2000.  Since then they’ve gotten bigger.)

What happens now?  Van Jones of Rebuild The Dream sees a period of “innovation and improvisation.”  He tells Alternet that Occupy Wall Street “is a huge, big deal; there will be other huge, big deals. There is a big thaw happening.  People have gone through a grieving process, and people want to fight.”

“The economic crisis [will get] worse,” says Jones, and “you’re going to have a lot of people suffering due to the economy.  That’s going to create a need for a response….That’s going to be a driver of innovation, the economic crisis.  People have to eat.  People have to live indoors.  People aren’t going to just lay down and die because Wall Street wants to hold up the economic recovery.”

His group has called for nationwide actions – leaving the details up to local groups – on November 17 on the theme of “jobs not cuts.”  Before that, according to Think Progress, a new group  has called for actions around the world to “demand true democracy” – on Saturday, October 15.  They report actions planned in over 800 cities in 71 countries.

And they’ve posted a short video highlighting the year in protests: Tunisia, Egypt, Spain, Greece, Israel, New York.  Who knows what’s next?  And as Phil Rosenthal points out in the Tribune, “one can only imagine what will greet visiting leaders in Chicago for the G8 and NATO summits next May.”

Take Back Chicago shows what can happen when diligent, energetic organizing, rooted in communities, aligns with the zeitgeist.

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This could be the start of something big http://www.newstips.org/2011/10/this-could-be-the-start-of-something-big/ http://www.newstips.org/2011/10/this-could-be-the-start-of-something-big/#comments Fri, 07 Oct 2011 19:57:14 +0000 http://www.newstips.org/?p=4789 New and old strands of youth, community, labor and peace organizing – voicing growing anger over the state of our economy and our democracy – will come together in a series of events here over the next week, with thousands expected for a major Columbus Day demonstration.

Holding their ground outside the Federal Reserve on LaSalle Street, Occupy Chicago – one of many ongoing actions inspired by Occupy Wall Street, which is now backed by the AFL-CIO – has brought new momentum and visibility to concerns that labor-community coalitions have been pressing since the 2008 bank bailout.

The Tribune reports that Occupy Chicago’s numbers are growing; In These Times has the inside story. We Are The 99 Percent offers the demonstrators’ own pointed and poignant tales.

On Friday, October 7, Stand Up Chicago and the Chicago Political Economy Group are releasing a report analyzing unemployment in Chicago and proposing a Chicago Community Jobs Fund to create 40,000 jobs (more below).

Also Friday, Chicago Jobs With Justice (which celebrates its 20th anniversary Tuesday) is holding its monthly unemployment report event, pointing out that of 100,000 jobs added last month, half were striking Verizon workers returning to their jobs.  “The private sector cannot create jobs in a weak economy with little demand,” said Susan Hurley.  “We can only create jobs with major federal investment.”

On Saturday, October 8, Occupy Chicago will join scores of groups protesting the tenth anniversary of the war in Afghanistan.  They’ll rally at noon at Michigan and Congress; speakers include Alejandro Villatoro of Iraq Veterans Against the War, who recently returned from a deployment in Afghanistan; Mary Dean of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, who spent a month in Afghanistan this summer; and former Chicago activist, Black Agenda Report editor Bruce Dixon.

They’ll march past Obama 2012 campaign headquarters at the Prudential Building, where they’ve held a two-day vigil, and end up joining Occupy Chicago at the Federal Reserve building at Jackson and LaSalle.

The cost of the war is now approaching $500 billion, by one calculation.

On Monday, thousands of Chicagoans – people “fed up with big bank greed and Wall Street corrupting our democracy” — will protest at two financial industry conventions and converge for a mass rally at the Art Institute, sponsored by the Take Back Chicago coalition.  Their goal:  “To begin taking back the jobs, homes, and schools stolen from us by the greed of big banks and big business.”

Local groups belonging to National Peoples Action will protest outside the annual conference of the Mortgage Bankers of America at the Hyatt Regency, Wacker and Stetson, at 4 p.m.  MBA includes the nation’s largest banks along with independent mortgage companies.

Protestors will demand that banks reduce principals on all underwater mortgages in order to stop foreclosures and spur the economy (see Newstips, Communities to Banks: You can fix housing crisis, economy).

Also at 4 on Monday, college students will protest at the Futures and Options Expo (which includes the Chicago Mercantile Exchange) at the Chicago Hilton at Balbo and Michigan.  “We’re going to the source – to the people who have hurt us in this recession,” said Haley Leibovitz, a Roosevelt University student active in Next Up Chicago, a network of young labor activists.

At the same time, the Chicago Teachers Union will rally at the Chicago Board of Trade, where $15 million of TIF money was spent on remodeling, and labor groups will rally for jobs at the Daley Plaza and the Federal Plaza – all marching to the Art Institute at 5 p.m., where the Futures Expo holds its opening reception.

Further actions, focused on taking back jobs, homes, and schools, will continue through the week.

A new report analyzes unemployment in Chicago and proposes a plan to add 40,000 jobs here.  Chicago has been particularly hard hit by the jobs crisis, according to the report; unemployment is double what it was five years ago, and remains in double digits.  “Chicago is rapidly losing its jobs base” and the stability it brings to communities and families, according to the report.

Over 272,000 Chicagoans are unemployed, with strong negative ripple effects – foreclosures up, vacancies and crime up, property values and local government revenues down, and cuts to education and public safety.  Nearly two-thirds of unemployed workers come from the service sector.

Researchers interviewed 14,000 unemployed Chicagoans and found they identified lack of jobs, particularly youth jobs, as a root cause of many community problems.

The report proposes a series of Chicago job corps focused on the social infrastructure – schools, health care, child care, neighborhood improvement and youth.

They’d pay for it with a financial speculation fee of 25 cents for each futures or options contract sold on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange or the Chicago Options Exchange.

Since the average contract is valued at $233,000, a 25-cent charge would have no impact on trades – but since over 12 million such contracts are executed each day, it would generate nearly $1.4 billion a year, based on last year’s trading volume.

It would be paid by traders, not by the exchanges;  it would cover financial instruments licensed to Chicago exchanges, which cannot be traded elsewhere.  (See Newstips 6-12-11 re. CME’s ongoing threats to leave the state unless they get a tax break.)

The Tribune recently reported that Bill Gates now backs a financial transaction fee, and in his new book, Ron Susskind reports that President Obama originally favored such a fee, but was blocked by advisers.

Last year 25 aldermen backed a hearing on a proposal for a voter referendum on instituting a financial transaction tax, but it was never brought to the Council floor.  Ald. Richard Mell proposed such a fee in the ’90s.

“Our city is facing a massive jobs crisis, one that requires direct and targeted job creation for those groups and communities hit hardest by unemployment,” according to the report.

“Our jobs plan will not only provide 40,000 Chicagoans with living wage, full-time jobs that match their existing skills and experience, but will serve as an investment in our communities, making them safer, stronger and more vibrant.”

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