Daily Archives: February 17, 2014


Questions For Massachusetts Gubernatorial Candidates

There are a number of good candidates running for Governor of Massachusetts. I have been trying to figure out what I could ask a candidate that would help me decide which one to support and vote for in the Democratic State Convention in Worcester, should Sharon and I become delegates.

In differentiating someone who would be a good Governor to carry on in the direction Governor Patrick has set from one that would go beyond these efforts, I have decided that focusing on specific solutions to “income inequality” might be a good differentiator.

I have extracted a number of ideas for “democratizing wealth” from Gar Alperovitz’s book What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution.

If you want to know if a candidate has creative ideas for fixing the income inequality problem, you might find out what they think about the following items.  I leave it up to you to figure out if a direct strategy is the best way to find out, or if an indirect strategy would be better.  Asking the candidate what they think about a specific idea would be a direct strategy.  Asking a candidate what ideas she or he has about actions to take to fix income inequality, would be an indirect strategy.  With the indirect strategy, you see if the candidate has ever thought about any of the ideas I have extracted, or any other ideas that sound plausible.  Either strategy has its pluses and minuses.

Now for the extracted ideas.

  1. Co-ops

    In western Massachusetts, the Alliance to Develop Power has created an $80 million community economy of housing co-ops and other cooperatively controlled businesses.7 And in Austin, Texas, thousands of beer drinkers own the Black Star Co-op pub and microbrewery.8

    Alperovitz, Gar (2013-05-01). What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution (Kindle Locations 841-844). Chelsea Green Publishing. Kindle Edition.

    8.Black Star Co-op, Black Star Co-op 2011 Annual Report (Austin, TX: Black Star Co-op, 2011), accessed September 20, 2012, www.blackstar.coop. 9.As of November 2012, more than $500 million

    Alperovitz, Gar (2013-05-01). What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution (Kindle Locations 3452-3454). Chelsea Green Publishing. Kindle Edition.

  2. Land Trusts

    Still another form of democratized ownership involves growing numbers of land trusts-essentially nonprofit corporations that own housing and other property in ways that prevent gentrification and turn development profits into support of low- and moderate-income housing. One of the best known is the Champlain Housing Trust in Burlington, Vermont, which traces its modest beginnings to the early 1980s and now provides accommodation for more than two thousand households.17

    Alperovitz, Gar (2013-05-01). What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution (Kindle Locations 889-892). Chelsea Green Publishing. Kindle Edition.

    Like other democratized forms of ownership, today’s land trusts are also the benefactors of early experiments that planted innovative seeds-the heart of any long-term evolutionary reconstruction process. Some of the first serious modern efforts, for instance, were begun in the 1960s and 1970s in western Massachusetts (by Robert Swann)

    Alperovitz, Gar (2013-05-01). What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution (Kindle Locations 893-895). Chelsea Green Publishing. Kindle Edition.

    17.Champlain Housing Trust, Annual Report 2011 (Burlington, VT: CHT, 2011), www.champlainhousingtrust.org/_literature_118080/Annual_Report_2011.

    Alperovitz, Gar (2013-05-01). What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution (Kindle Locations 3497-3499). Chelsea Green Publishing. Kindle Edition.

    The use of public and quasi-public land trusts (both for housing and also for commercial development) to capture development profits for community use and to prevent gentrification

    Alperovitz, Gar (2013-05-01). What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution (Kindle Locations 1489-1491). Chelsea Green Publishing. Kindle Edition.

  3. B Corporations

    For companies that want to pursue what has often been called the triple bottom line (emphasizing people and planet in addition to profit), the traditional legal structure thus poses challenges-a reality that led private-equity expert Andrew Kassoy to join with two others to found B Lab and invent the B Corporation, a corporate structure that facilitates the use of business profits for social purposes. In a B Corp (also known as a benefit corporation) people who invest know from the outset that the goal is both to make profits and to use some part of them for social purposes. Laws permitting companies to charter themselves as B Corporations have been enacted in twelve states-California, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia.

    Alperovitz, Gar (2013-05-01). What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution (Kindle Locations 915-921). Chelsea Green Publishing. Kindle Edition.

    Also, a traditional non-B-Corp company must legally accept the highest price offered in buyout situations, even if the board of directors believes a buyer offering a lower price is likely to do a better job of maintaining the corporation’s social values. This was the complaint of Ben & Jerry’s owners, who would have preferred to sell their company to a competing, more socially minded bidder than Unilever, but legally had to sell to the highest bidder-a development that helped lead to the B Corp movement. One of the most innovative B Corps is King Arthur Flour, a highly successful Vermont-based 100 percent employee-owned company that is quite explicit in stating that making money in itself is not our highest priority. Another is Patagonia, the Ventura, California-based outdoor apparel and sporting-equipment retailer that prides itself on the utility, simplicity, and sustainability of its products. See: B Lab, ,q>King Arthur Flour Company, Certified B Corporation, 2012, accessed December 7, 2012, www.bcorporation.net/community/directory/kingarthurflour; B Lab, Patagonia, Inc., Certified B Corporation, 2012, accessed December 7, 2012, www.bcorporation.net/community/directory/patagonia.

    Alperovitz, Gar (2013-05-01). What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution (Kindle Locations 941-951). Chelsea Green Publishing. Kindle Edition.

  4. Worker Owned Companies

    By the way, and finally (for the moment), there are also many, many worker-owned companies structured in ways different from traditional co-ops-indeed, around eleven thousand of them, involving 10.3 million people, in virtually every sector, some very large and sophisticated.1 Technically, these companies are called ESOPs (employee stock ownership plans), and in fact three million more individuals are involved in worker-owned companies of this kind than are members of unions in the private sector.2

    Alperovitz, Gar (2013-05-01). What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution (Kindle Locations 954-958). Chelsea Green Publishing. Kindle Edition.

  5. Harnessing Government Purchasing Power

    The use of city, school, hospital, university, and other purchasing power to help stabilize jobs in a manner that both is anchored and democratized in terms of ownership and also benefits (and improves the economy of) low-income neighborhoods and local small- and medium-sized businesses. Precedents include the kinds of things now happening or being explored in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Washington DC, and many other cities-and especially the use of public and quasi-public (nonprofit hospital and university) contracts to add leverage to the effort.

    Alperovitz, Gar (2013-05-01). What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution (Kindle Locations 1485-1489). Chelsea Green Publishing. Kindle Edition.

  6. Community Benefit Srategies

    The use of community benefit strategies-and community organizing, backed also by labor unions-not just to achieve traditional development but also, where possible, to move new efforts forward that democratize the economy (thereby also helping stabilize the tax base that supports public services).

    Alperovitz, Gar (2013-05-01). What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution (Kindle Locations 1496-1498). Chelsea Green Publishing. Kindle Edition.

    From Wikipedia on Community Benefit Agreement

    A Community Benefits Agreement (“CBA”) in the USA is a contract signed by community groups and a real estate developer that requires the developer to provide specific amenities and/or mitigations to the local community or neighborhood. In exchange, the community groups agree to publicly support the project, or at least not oppose it. Often, negotiating a CBA relies heavily upon the formation of a multi-issue, broad based community coalition including community, environmental, faith-based and labor organizations.

  7. Land ownership efforts

    The exploration of further ways for cities to make money and thereby offset costs and taxpayer burdens. Examples of this approach can be seen in many land ownership efforts; the nearly seven hundred projects in cities and counties that capture methane from garbage, turning it into jobs, revenue, and electricity; public ownership; and other new ownership ideas and practices now emerging in many cities.

    Alperovitz, Gar (2013-05-01). What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution (Kindle Locations 1499-1501). Chelsea Green Publishing. Kindle Edition.

  8. Municipal Utilites

    Taking over and municipalizing electric utilities to improve services, reduce costs (in line with the experience of the roughly two thousand existing public utilities), and secure added revenues for the city. Check out the recent hard-fought struggle to municipalize the electricity in Boulder, Colorado, and successful efforts over the last decade in a number of cities.

    Alperovitz, Gar (2013-05-01). What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution (Kindle Locations 1503-1506). Chelsea Green Publishing. Kindle Edition.

  9. Municipal Internet and Cable

    Improving the local economy through the development of local municipalized Internet and cable services.

    Alperovitz, Gar (2013-05-01). What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution (Kindle Locations 1506-1507). Chelsea Green Publishing. Kindle Edition.

  10. Participatory Leases

    Expanding participatory lease arrangements that make money for the city through ownership of other forms of property and in ways other than taxation. (In such efforts developers pay the public landlord a yearly agreed rent and an additional amount pegged to project performance, based on criteria like private profits or gross income.)

    Alperovitz, Gar (2013-05-01). What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution (Kindle Locations 1507-1510). Chelsea Green Publishing. Kindle Edition.



Noam Chomsky Breaks Down the Zombie Apocalypse

The Daily Kos has the article Noam Chomsky Breaks Down the Zombie Apocalypse. If you have trouble hearing the audio, then you will appreciate the transcript provided by the Daily Kos article.

The article specifically is about a question that was asked of Naom Chomsky and his thoughtful reply.

“This might sound kind of random, but I would really like to ask  your opinion on why you think there’s this preoccupation with the apocalypse and with zombies right now in our culture.”

At its core, it’s an internalization of the belief that payback is most definitely a bitch:

“I think it’s, much of it is kind of just a recognition, at some level of the psyche, that if you’ve got your boot on somebody’s neck, there’s something wrong.  And that the people you’re oppressing may rise up and defend themselves, and then you’re in trouble.”


One example where I had thought about what Chomsky says, and which he does not mention here, is the apartheid regime in South Africa. In essence their justification is that we have to continue controlling the natives with brutality, because our previous brutal treatment of them will inevitably cause them to wreak brutal justice on us if they ever get control. For a long while, this circular logic resonated with the rest of the world. Finally people came to think, “Well you made your own bed, now lie in it.” Amazingly, the worst fears did not materialize after the fall of the regime. Actually, what happened was probably beyond the best hopes that could have been imagined.

Of course there is hardly a guarantee that the positive outcome will happen every time people are freed, let alone one time. Although the reaction of the former slaves in the U.S. is a pretty happy ending not including the reaction of the former oppressors.


Is Hillary Clinton the president we need at this time?

The Daily Kos has the article Is Hillary Clinton the president we need at this time?.

Americans are becoming aware that they have been had by the plutocracy. At some point in time they will stop voting against their interest. Senator Elizabeth Warren or someone like her who has the ability to connect the opportunity of free enterprise with civic duty and responsibility is what America needs at this time.

If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, as a Democrat it would be better than any Republican getting elected. Given Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street baggage however, the triangulation used by the Clintons against the Republicans in the past may just be used against them in 2016. A populist Republican with limited Wall Street ties, with a fairly liberal social stance on marijuana, marriage equality, immigration reform, incarceration (mandatory minimums), and women’s rights is out there waiting. Anyone following the news can see that Republican in the making.


If the Republicans actually came up with such a candidate, I might even vote for her or him.

The Daily Kos article had links which eventually led to the following video:


And I really, really believe this commentator’s birth name is Krystal Ball.


Cartoon: The one rich guy

Daily Kos in its article Cartoon: The one rich guy features the following cartoon by Tom Tomorrow.

Cartoon: The One Rich Guy

Do you really think you have to worry about protecting the one rich guy in case you ever become that person? If so, I imagine you might think your avid playing of the lottery is going to get you there.

Rather than the more common belief that you can get rich quickly by using some scheme or other, I have always believed in the investment philosophy of getting rich slowly by trying to get the laws of probability and compound interest to work for me instead of against me.

On second thought, I can’t say I always believed in getting rich slowly. I have had a lapse or two in my life, but they always turned out to be learning experiences about the problems of getting rich quickly.


Consumer Reports Shills for ObamaCare

Naked Capitalism has the article Consumer Reports Shills for ObamaCare, Pooh-Poohs Medicaid Clawbacks on Bizarre Assumption They’ll be Waived.

Summarizing the Medicaid clawback issue, Paul Craig Roberts has a new post that explains what can happen to your estate if you’re over 55 and ObamaCare forces you into Medicaid because your income is under 138% of the Federal poverty level:

In violation of moral philosopher John Rawls’ second principle of justice [q.v.], some of the poorest Americans will pay the highest cost of health care as they, and they alone, are subject to having the family home and any other assets they might possess confiscated by the state in order to reimburse Obamacare for the cost of their medical expenses….

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[B] Estate recovery was not an unintended consequence of Obamacare. The House Ways & Means Committee and The House Energy & Commerce Committee share jurisdiction over health care, including Medicare and Medicaid, and both worked extensively on Obamacare. So, don’t bother thinking that the members of these committees didn’t know that estate recovery would impact millions of Americans who would be tossed into Medicaid. The asset test was dropped and the age limit was increased explicitly in order to expand Medicaid. Yet, did We the People hear any concern about estate recovery? Certainly not in the many floor speeches given by Democrats as well as Republicans or from the media.


Apparently the public outcry that this author is trying to stir up is getting the attention of the politicians and the advocacy groups. Keep your eyes open for your opportunity to get this issue addressed.

See my previous post How Obamacare Raids the Assets of Low-Income Older Americans that links to the previous article on this subject by this author, Lambert Strether.