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Archive for the ‘Lobbying/Activism’ Category

Kimberle Crenshaw on What Action Really Means

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017


Kimberle Crenshaw: On Intersectional Activism

Sunday, June 4th, 2017

Kimberly Crenshaw


As I’m Interviewing Kimberle Crenshaw in this piece…I’m actually unaware that Crenshaw is the creator of the term intersectional activism. In our Lyme work, the number one problem we’ve seen Lyme Activism encounter…is clash of egos…and activists…disliking each other within the movement. What’s amazing, is right about now….the Lyme community is waking up to that fact and doing something about it. Crenshaw realized 30 years ago…that progressive movements clashing with each other may not be the best thing for progressivism…clashing progressive values played a huge role in this last election. People continuously want answers as to what happened (in this last election). The answer is that a lot of things happened. Not showing up in Wisconsin and Michigan…not really having political “Killers’ run  HRC’s campaign, a non strong enough defense of the Clinton Foundation–which is an extraordinary organization (Comparing it to Trumps foundation: best…to the worst) somehow that message was not brought out strongly enough…Caine…may not have been strong enough choice. the third and 4th party candidacies (way to go Jill Stein…Gary Johnson: clearly an idiot…but you?)

James Carville would (and did) identify one element above all: progressives tearing down Hillary Clinton. Intersectional Activism is about as important of a concept to apply in taking action out there. Know what you’re fighting against: because its certainly in our faces now. I cannot tell you how much  Ha Goodman and Julian Assange…helped make this bed. The good news: California passed Universal Health Care today….the pushback will be strong…and that is in someway a hopeful message for today. The bad news: Bloomberg recently said that he felt there was 55 percent chance of Trump being re-elected….he sited a non-clear democratic message, and most importantly, infighting amongst progressives.–Milon Henry Levine


Eli Pariser: “How Being your True Self Can Save The World from Hate”

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Elis Pariser is one of the founders of Move on and is working now with a video channel called Upworthy. We will add notes on this video because “saving the world form hate” is one of the most important subjects out there today.


The President Show: FBI May Re-Investigate HRC emails: Trump tonight in IOWA 10/28/2016

Saturday, October 29th, 2016

After an extremely dramatic day, a day in which the FBI has raised suspicion again on HRC’s Email issues WITHOUT Any specifics…except the emails come form Huma Aberdeen and Anthony Weiners shared phone GREAT(yes sounds like a political hit job coming from the FBI but guess what,we didn’t hire Huma Abedeen as our top assistant, lotta retail political appeal there, always has been, and Weiner surely adds to that right?….. Trump speaks live now in Iowa. The details of this case in the next few days arguably obviously will mean a lot. And of course how the Clinton campaign responds is absolutely an extremely important mystery at the moment, as is what this FBI letter by Comey with 11 days to go…is really all about.

Related articles


The Activists : A Heard of Bison Magically Appear At Standing Rock

Saturday, October 29th, 2016

This is a very big story in America right now. The Stand off at Standing Rock Continues, and there is a very good chance that police will eventually try to end it in the same why Occupy Wall Street was cleared out early in the morning on November 15th, 2011. That pipeline builders cant do what they are doing without an environmental safety net, a plan to make the job environmentally sound, and to NOT disturb and marginalize communities is a major shame. The World waits to see whether Barrack Obama or Hillary Clinton will get involved. It may wait along time, and even I, a middle of the road Third Wayer….stand with Bernie and Jill Stein on this. And you dont see that every day.


The Activists: “Ralph Nader on Organizing”

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

Part of a larger segment on not voting for 3rd and 4th party candidates sometimes but in this segment Nader is quite wonderful.


Shark Think Tank: The Third Way on A Regional Minimum Wage

Sunday, February 21st, 2016


The Third Way

Arkansas, Alaska, South Dakota, and Nebraska all voted to raise their minimum wages in 2014. So did the cities of Seattle, San Francisco, and Oakland. While it was widely reported that these areas were increasing wages above the federal minimum wage of $7.25, one point was often missed—adjustments varied greatly from one region to another.

Arkansas and South Dakota voted to raise their wage to $8.50. Nebraska raised their wage floor to $9, and Alaska raised their wage to $9.75. Seattle and San Francisco moved to raise their wages to $15.

Some presidential hopefuls for 2016 have called for a $15 per hour minimum wage to match the wage floors of the highest-cost cities in the nation, but, as we discuss below, a single federal minimum makes less and less sense due to wide cost disparities between cities and states across the country.

In our foundational report, Ready for the New Economy, we laid out a series of challenges that are profoundly shaping the evolving economy in the 21st century. One key area: increasing wealth for low- and middle-income families and giving them a better shot at financial security. In this brief, we lay out a series of issues with one aspect of that—a single federal minimum wage—and propose a unique regional minimum wage based on average hourly wages and regional cost variations, with readjustments every three years. This idea would permanently end the debate over the federal minimum wage, adjust for regional differences in the purchasing power throughout the country, provide all workers a more livable standard of wage, and still allow states and localities the freedom to set regional wage standards.

The Problem

There are two seminal issues policymakers need to confront on the minimum wage. First, purchasing power has dropped across the board for minimum wage workers since 2009, but, second, the magnitude of this problem varies greatly depending on where one lives.

Take the first issue—money doesn’t buy you what it used to.

There are few communities in the country where the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 can support even a basic standard of living for one adult, according to MIT’s living wage calculator (which estimates how much a worker would have to earn in wages to support a household given local expenses and prices).1 Part of that problem stems from the fact that there has been a significant decline in purchasing power since July 2009—the last time the federal minimum wage was updated to its current level of $7.25 per hour. The cost of goods has increased 10.5% nationally since the last federal minimum wage update.2

Comparing Living Wages across Different Regions
Living Wage calculators, such as the one developed at MIT, provide cost-adjusted estimates of what workers and their families need to make in order to support a basic living in the communities in which they reside. The developer of the MIT Living Wage calculator, Dr. Amy Glasmeier, defines a living wage as “the wage needed to cover basic family expenses plus all relevant taxes” (excluding government transfers and housing assistance).3 This is just one of many calculations and definitions of a “living wage,” but one of the greatest utilities of this tool is that it highlights the varying wage needs across different regions of the country. For instance, according to this tool, the living wage in Jackson, TN is estimated at $9.63 per hour for one adult,4 where the living wage in the Washington, D.C. area is estimated at $14.78 per hour for one adult.5
For example, when the current $7.25 minimum wage took effect in July 2009, the average cost of a gallon of milk nationwide was $2.99. In September 2015, the same gallon of milk averaged $3.39, or 13% more expensive.6 Electricity per kilowatt hour is 7% more expensive, ground beef per pound is 50% more expensive, and a carton of eggs is 98% more expensive, while a gallon of gasoline is 13% less expensive.7 If 2009’s $7.25 minimum wage kept pace with inflation, it would be $8.02 today.8 Nationally, the federal minimum wage’s purchasing power is down 33.7% from its peak level in 1968, and the federal wage floor would have to be $10.94 today to have the same purchasing power.9

The erosion of purchasing power has disproportionately impacted the minimum wage worker, as the gap between the average-paid worker and the minimum-wage worker has widened. Since 2009, the gap between the average hourly earnings of a production and non-supervisory worker in the private, non-farm sector was $12.58 in today’s dollars.10 Today, six years later, the pay gap between the average worker in this classification and a minimum wage worker has grown to $13.83—a 10% widening in just six years.11

But there is a second, less-discussed issue—the degree to which wages have been diminished varies greatly depending on where you live.

The price of goods and services is significantly different in one area of the country to another, which has implications for the relative value of each dollar earned by workers. A federal minimum wage, whatever the level, will go much further and carry much more value in a low-cost area, like Jackson, TN, where everything from groceries to rent can be bought for less than in a relatively high-cost area, like San Francisco, CA. The 2013 price data in Table 1, below, illustrates the varying price points on common household expenditures that workers face in three cities.12

The cost differences between one area of the country and another are aggregated by the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the U.S. Department of Commerce and reported in the form of Regional Price Parities (RPPs).13 RPPs are expressed as a percentage of the national average of the cost of common consumer goods and services. A score of 100 on the RPP represents the national price average. So, an area with an RPP of 110 experiences costs that are 10% higher than the national average. Residents of an area with an RPP of 85 experience costs that are 15% lower than the national average.

RPPs can be used to calculate purchasing power, which is what a dollar of wages in one area of the country is worth compared to another area of the country, given differences in local prices.14

For example, as shown in Table 2 below, metropolitan Honolulu has a RPP of 122.5, which means the costs of living in that area are 22.5% higher than the national average. Using this number, we can determine that Honolulu’s $7.75 minimum wage in 2015 was actually worth $6.33 after factoring in the relatively high cost of living.15

Further down in “Low-Cost Areas” on the same table, the area around Rome, GA has an RPP of 81.3, indicating costs of living that are 18.7% lower than the national average. After adjusting for that area’s lower relative costs, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 had purchasing power equal to $8.92.16

The goal of minimum wage policy should be to afford all American workers, regardless of where they live, similar basic wage standards. But Table 2 also shows that purchasing power, or the cost-adjusted value of wages, fluctuates greatly from one area to another, sometimes even within the same state. This means that a big box store cashier in Kankakee, IL (earning a cost-adjusted wage of $8.29 per hour) is actually being paid more than $2 per hour less than a cashier working for the same big box store in Danville, IL (earning a cost-adjusted wage of $10.42) at the same nominal wage of $8.25, for the same work.

What does all this mean? With wide disparities in purchasing power and living wages across the country, a single federal minimum wage standard encourages the patchwork of state and local minimum wage policies that leads to inconsistency between similar economies and less purchasing power even in states with higher wage floors. At the federal level, a single minimum wage, regardless of what the level is, will have disparate impacts on workers, employers, local governments, and local economies depending on where they are located. Differing impacts across the country will either excessively raise employer hiring costs to a point leading to unnecessary job losses, or leave workers in high-cost areas unable to afford a basic standard of living.17

The Solution: A Regional Minimum Wage

We propose to replace the single federal minimum wage with a regional minimum wage based on average hourly wages and regional cost variations, with readjustments every three years. To do this, we would establish different regional wages—for low-cost regions, high-cost regions, and regions that are at parity with the national average. If implemented today, we estimate that regional minimum wages across the country will range from $9.30 per hour to $11.90 per hour.

The first step is establishing what we refer to as a “national average” for the minimum wage. We would set the national average at 50% of the average hourly wage of private sector, non-supervisory workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts out a monthly report on this figure,18 and in November 2015 it was $21.19. Therefore, the national average minimum wage would be $10.60 (50% of $21.19).

The second step would be to group areas of the country into five tiers based on their RPP. The Bureau of Economic Analysis maintains databases with RPPs by metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs)—an area consisting of one or more counties comprising an urban core of at least 50,000 people, plus surrounding counties with commuting ties.19 MSA data should be used over state-level data in order to truly assess each area’s economic profile.

The third step would be to assign each tier with a corresponding wage. For example, MSAs with RPPs within the 95.0 to 104.9 range (Tier 3) would have a federal wage floor equal to the national average minimum wage. If this policy were implemented immediately, about 110 metropolitan areas20 including Santa Fe, NM, Allentown, PA, and Chico, CA would have a federal wage floor at $10.60.

Lower-cost areas with RPPs within the 90.0 to 94.9 range (Tier 2) would have a wage floor set at 92.5% of the national average, rounded to the nearest dime. If this were put into place today, 147 low cost communities including Birmingham, AL and Oklahoma City, OK would have a $9.80 minimum wage.

Higher-cost areas with RPPs within the 105.0 to 109.9 (Tier 4) range would have a wage floor set at 107.5% of the national average, rounded to the nearest dime. If this were put into place today, 15 higher-cost areas including Miami, FL and Boulder, CO would have an $11.40 federal wage floor.

The lowest-cost areas with RPPs less than 90.0 (Tier 1) would have a wage floor set at 87.5% of the national average, rounded to the nearest dime. So, if this were put into place today, 92 of the lowest-cost communities including Beckley, WV and Rome, GA would have a $9.30 federal wage floor.

The highest-cost areas with RPPs at 110.0 or greater (Tier 5) would have a wage floor set at 112.5% of the national average, rounded to the nearest dime. Again, if this were put into place today, 17 of the highest-cost areas including the Bay Area (CA) and New York City metro areas would have an $11.90 federal wage floor.

Table 3, below, shows that a regional minimum wage in these five tiers would do a far better job providing all workers with a similar degree of purchasing power than any single minimum wage could do. Highlighted blue, Column 1 shows an area’s current minimum wage and Column 2 shows their current purchasing power. As you can see, currently there is a huge variance in purchasing power—ranging from $6.33 in Honolulu to $10.87 in Santa Fe among these select cities.

Our approach is demonstrated in Columns 3 and 4, shaded green. Column 3 shows what the new regional minimum wage would be, and Column 4 shows what purchasing power would be for that rate. As you can see, when minimum wages are adjusted for costs of living, minimum wage workers have about $10 to $12 of real wages, regardless of where they live.

Wide variances in purchasing power paired with a single federal minimum wage cause uneven economic impacts throughout the country. Graphic 1 illustrates how widely purchasing power varies at any single minimum wage.21 In this example, a single $10.60 federal minimum wage has purchasing power ranging from $8.65 (blue) to $13.59 (orange). The map shows that large cities on the east and west coasts have purchasing power closer to $8.65, while metro areas in the Southeast and Midwest have higher purchasing power with the same minimum wage.

Graphic 2 illustrates how a regional minimum wage significantly eliminates variances in minimum wage purchasing power.22 The graphic shows a largely monochromatic map indicating that while the nominal minimum wages would range from (in the case of a $10.60 national average minimum wage) $9.30 to $11.90, purchasing power would be similar across the country.

Basing the regional minimum wage on average hourly wages and regional cost variations reduces the need for extended phase-in periods, and automatic readjustments every three years will ensure that workers are paid wages that match their economic circumstances. Areas of the country that are outside of the MSAs generally fall into Tier 1 with the lowest cost of living. MSAs can be updated every 20 years to account for significant population changes and/or significant changes in inflation.

This proposal would do nothing to Fair Labor Standards Act provisions that allow a state or locality to enact a minimum wage higher than the levels set within this proposal. In states and localities where a higher minimum wage is in place or established, the state or local wage standard would apply.

Also, any update to the federal minimum wage should also raise the phase-out range for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to ensure that increases in wages would not result in a reduction of EITC benefits for those earning the minimum wage. This proposal would do nothing to diminish the EITC’s incentive to work.23


This regional wage approach would ensure that all minimum wage workers will have fair basic wages, regardless of where they live, while minimizing reductions in employment and economic distortions in low-cost areas. This policy would ensure that a cashier in Manhattan is essentially earning the same minimum wage in real terms as a cashier in Carbondale, IL and largely addresses fears that a big city minimum wage would destroy jobs in low-cost small towns.


10 Commandments Re-envisioned: Ten Ideas For Education (All From Current American College Students)

Saturday, January 30th, 2016


The Roosevelt Institute in Manhattan works on policy making at the student level, among other things.

Join In Shaping The Future:

The Rooosevelt Institute

570 Lexington Ave

New York, New York

(212) 444-9130




For more info on these proposals, see more detailed story below this one.

Sensible School Start Times: An Inexpensive Policy for Achievement and Health   Nathaniel Bechhofer, George Mason University

Later school start times for students attending Fairfax County middle and high schools would enhance both academic performance and student health at costs lower than other policies with benefits of a similar magnitude


Discouraging Discriminatory College Admissions: The Case for Reporting Need-Sensitivity  Liam Grace-Flood, Wheaton College

To help applicants navigate the deceptive world of college admissions, the U.S. Department of EducationCollege Scorecards should publish data on need-sensitivead missions.


Cognitive Enhancement Through Multilingualism: Empowering Students Through Elementary Dual-Language Immersion Joshua Kemp, City College of New York

New York State should incentivize early foreign language instruction through a statewide dual-language immersion education program so that elementary students may receive the benefits multilingualism provides.


Increasing Awareness at Cornell: Diversity Courses as a Graduation Requirement Stephanie Hahm, Cornell University

Cornell University should require undergraduates to take courses exploring ethnic, cultural, religious, and gender diversity. This requirement will engage students with conversations about diversity and prepare them for a multi-cultural society.

Cognitive Enhancement Through Multilingualism: Empowering Students Through Elementary Dual-Language Immersion Joshua Kemp, City College of New York

New York State should incentivize early foreign language instruction through a statewide dual-language immersion education program so that elementary students may receive the benefits multilingualism provides


Alleviating Public School Finance Inequities: Funding According to Student Characteristics Christine Kil, University of Georgia

Georgia should implement student-based budgeting base don student characteristics to ensure equitable, fully funded education.


Closing the Achievement Gap: Elementary Second Language Education in Philadelphia Schools Laura Pontari, University of Georgia

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) should create a partnership between Philadelphia public universities and the School District of Philadelphia to provide second language education for elementary school students.


Promoting Success for English Learners: Dual-Language Immersion in Georgia

Rahul Shah, University of Georgia

Georgia should subsidize the implementation of magnet dual-language immersion programs in public schools to support the academic achievement of English learners


 9 Project based Learning In Philadelphia Paul Selling, Georgetown University

The Philadelphia School District should switch from a traditional, test-based learning model to a project-based learning model to better educate students


10 reviving Our Roots: Reconnecting Teens to Agriculture Elizabeth Wilkes, University of Georgia

The American farmer is growing older, the American agricultural system is unsustainable, and the American teenager is not interested in farming. High schools at the rural–urban interface should implement farmer development

programs to address these nationwide issues while strengthening communities.





The Third Way: A Record of Impact

Friday, January 29th, 2016

The Third Way

The Third Way is not just an idea-that it’s not about Democrats and Republicans, it’s about what works–it’s also an organization in Washington, and it is perhaps the most effective moderate organization in that city. Here is their essential record of achievement entitled a record of Impact. Sometimes people get offended by third wayers, or anyone they see as moderate. “Andrew Cuomo in New York, for instance,  has taken money from the Koch Brothers,” they will say.  Things like this.  I think what may offend people most about Cuomo are the strong armed tactics and a real keen interest in looking good though large public achievements, some of which may not be incredibly efficiently funded, and some that may or may not get done. The Third Way really should boil down to: The most effective use of public funds to “Supercharge” the economy…so that it works for everyone. As noted below, it works as a way to find common ground in many fields. But supercharging the economy so that it works really well for everyone is a HUGE plus, and I think best achieved by a moderate Third Way approach. The Clintons argue they are the best at this. I continue to hold the view that the most successful Third Wayer in History is on the Campaign trail right now: William Jefferson Clinton.

–Milon Henry Levine


Clean Energy

Third Way developed a new centrist approach to the climate debate.

Third Way has rejected the ideological rigidity of the climate change debate, which pits climate deniers against those who believe renewables are the only answer. We have developed a campaign to ensure the U.S. leverages all of our energy resources as part of a climate solution, with a focus on commercializing advanced nuclear energy, cutting the carbon emissions from fossil fuels, and moving freight off American roads and onto our rails and waterways. Over a dozen of our proposals have been introduced as legislation or executive orders, and three have become law.

Deficit Reduction

Third Way helped enact over $3 trillion in deficit reduction.

Third Way led the effort on the Democratic side to enact a series of bipartisan deals that reduced the ten-year deficit by $3.3 trillion. Our three-year education and advocacy campaign built support for deficit reduction that included both budget cuts and new revenue. Though these deals were far from perfect, they have eliminated the near-term deficit problem.

Entitlement Reform

Third Way has spearheaded a long-term campaign to fix the safety net.

After the 2008 election, we launched a long-term campaign to make the progressive case for fixing the broken entitlements system. In those five years, we prepared and got introduced a bill that would create a Social Security Commission, created the narrative around an impending “collision course” between entitlements and investment spending, became the leading center-left venue for entitlement reformers, and directly influenced the language and policies of top Democratic officials.


Third Way was the principal Democratic group behind three free trade agreements.

Third Way played the leading role among Democratic organizations in passing trade deals with Columbia and Panama, and we hosted the kick-off and helped shepherd through Congress the deal with Korea, the largest trade accord since NAFTA. The White House adopted Third Way’s pro-trade messages to make their case for the FTAs, and our policy papers were cited throughout the Congressional debates.

Federal Pensions

Third Way reformed federal pensions for all new employees.

In 2011, Third Way proposed a series of changes to bring federal pensions in line with the private sector. In 2012-13, Congress passed legislation that included our central idea, permanently raising the rate of federal employee retirement contribution from 0.8% to 4.4% for all new federal employees, which will save tens of billions over the next decade.

Gun Safety

Third Way fundamentally altered the gun debate.

As The Atlantic has noted, “The story of the way the gun debate changed is largely the story of Americans for Gun Safety. AGS ceased to exist in 2005… absorbed by…Third Way. But its success endures.” We helped shift the focus for gun safety advocates to the centrist notion of “rights and responsibilities.” We passed ballot initiatives in Colorado and Oregon to close the gun show loophole and a bill in Congress to improve the background check system. Every major Democratic presidential candidate of the last decade has turned to us for guidance on gun policy and messaging.

Health Care

Third Way helped shape and pass the Affordable Care Act.

Third Way fought successfully for a market-based approach to cost control in the ACA. We also developed a messaging framework built upon a series of reforms that would provide “stability and security” to the insured, and President Obama took our framework and used those exact words repeatedly, including in a speech to a joint session of Congress in September 2009. In a moment when the bill was failing, his shift to our message tipped the balance and helped pass the ACA.

Immigration Reform

Third Way won the support of moderate Senators for immigration reform.

When the initial push for comprehensive immigration reform in 2006 had lost the support of Democratic moderates, Third Way entered the debate to help shape policy arguments about a pathway to citizenship and making the U.S. a magnet for global talent. We combined that with groundbreaking public opinion research that led to a centrist framework for immigration reform—“tough, fair, and practical”—and helped persuade a number of wavering Senators to support reform. By the time another comprehensive reform bill was up for a vote on the Senate floor in 2013, every moderate Democratic senator supported using this centrist narrative it, including five who had opposed even the narrower D.R.E.A.M. Act in 2010.

Marriage for Gay Couples

Third Way’s narrative reversed decades of losses on marriage for gay couples.

By 2008, advocates of marriage for gay couples had a record of 0 for 30 at the ballot box. We conducted deep public opinion research to understand why, which revealed a serious strategic flaw: the focus on the rights and benefits of marriage was driving away Americans in the middle. To sway these critical voters, we advised advocates to emphasize instead the common value that all couples share around marriage: lifetime commitment. Our approach was widely adopted, and as a result, in part, the tide has turned. Marriage went 4 for 4 with voters in 2012, and political leaders from President Obama on down have used this “commitment” message to announce their support for allowing gay couples to marry.

Middle Class Success

Third Way developed a middle-class success agenda and turned it into legislation.

Our policy ideas on helping the middle class get ahead—including getting to and through college, managing care for an aging parent, preparing for a successful retirement, and starting a small business—have been introduced as thirty-three pieces of legislation in Congress. A number of these were also included in the agenda of the Vice President’s Middle Class Task Force.

Military Readiness

Third Way led the effort to increase the size of the wartime Army.

In 2005, the U.S. Army was nearing a breaking point. Third Way revealed the extent of the strain on the Army in a groundbreaking report, which led to legislation that Third Way initiated co-sponsored by then-Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI). That bill, which increased the size of the Army by 100,000 troops, became law in 2006. Though Third Way opposed the Iraq War, the Army end-strength increase was required to save the force from catastrophe (as happened after Vietnam). We now are pushing to modernize the military for a new era.

Use of Force

Third Way changed the debate in Congress on the Authorization for the Use of Military Force.


A Note On Transparency

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

The hard thing about Transparency is that it is not a one way street in terms of traditional American Political Ideology. Union action in large public projects is as much of an issue as Citizens United. If Americans want true transparency in public spending in the United States (arguably amazingly valuable to the country’s well being) we have to get rid of Citizen United, make lobbying transparent and an open part of the process, and insure Union–and all contractor–transparency as well. ALL difficult and courageous objectives. But they are not part of a standard Democratic or Republican dialog. It’s a Third Way Road. These are things that Bernie Sanders won’t tell you, incidentally, and they may play a very big part in this next Presidential election.


Milon Henry Levine writes and makes films and photographs on politics, public work and transparency in public spending.