Nelson Mandela on Poverty PDF Print E-mail

nelson mandela






Michael Diedrich on Educational Equity (Podcast) PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Farrell   


Michael Diedrich from MN2020 spoke to the Stone Arch discussion group on October 14, 2013. He talked about educational equity in Minnesota schools.  He has written extensively for MN2020's Hindsight blog on education and achievement.


Listen to the podcast


Diedrich, born and raised in Rochester, spent two years teaching English at Brooklyn Center High School as a Teach For America corps member. Seeing in his students and colleagues the negative consequences of No Child Left Behind, narrow definitions of achievement, and a punitive attitude towards schools and teachers, Michael shifted his focus to the broader educational system.


He is now a Master of Public Policy student at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs, where he is pursuing a concentration in education policy. He hopes to contribute to the development of a new mindset in Minnesota around education that emphasizes equity and reform beyond test-centered policies and "market-based" approaches.




IRS at 100 PDF Print E-mail


How Income Taxation Built the Middle Class

Across the U.S., new progressive state legislative majorities endorsed the income tax amendment in 1910 and 1912.  Early in 1913, final ratification gave Congress a green light to add an income tax to the tax code. Eight months later Congress passed a new revenue act that featured a modest income tax of up to 7 percent on income higher than $4,000, the equivalent of $94,000 today.

john buenker and sam pizzigatiJohn Buenker and Sam Pizzigati explain that during the mid-20th century, a progressive income tax with steeply graduated tax rates raised the revenue that payed for the new programs and services that opened doors into middle-class life.  These steeply graduated rates sent the message that American society frowned on incomes that towered too high.  As a result of the progressive income tax, the U.S. became the first mass middle-class nation in the history of the world where the majority did not live in poverty.  In contrast, tax reductions in recent decades have defunded infrastructure maintenance and development as well as job training and education; eroded middle class incomes and Americans' quality of life, and increased poverty in the U.S.

Read John Buenker and Sam Pizzigati's article:  IRS at 100: How income taxation built the middle class





Who works for the minimum wage? PDF Print E-mail


minimum wage epi 8-28-2013




American Workers Shortchanged on Wages PDF Print E-mail
Written by Elise Gould, Working Economics, Economic Policy Institute Blog   


working economics epi blog logoEconomic inequality is a real and growing problem in America. Since 1979, workers are working more, making more goods, and not reaping the rewards of their increased productivity. Instead, CEOs and executives—the top 1% of earners—now take home 20% of the nation’s income.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. Growing inequality isn’t an inevitability—it was created. It’s the result of intentional policy decisions on taxes, trade, labor, and financial regulation. That's actually good news: if inequality is not inevitable, then it can be fixed.

In honor of Labor Day, the Economic Policy Institute created an excellent interactive tool to explain the growing shortchange in American workers' income.  Take a look, and share it with your friends.  Remember that American workers should be earning more than we are. It just takes a few minutes to find out how economic inequality is real, affects you, is expensive, and was created.  Try out the EPI tool at





Net Neutrality PDF Print E-mail

common cause logo


Open Internet Protections


Internet freedom is under attack. Verizon is using every trick in the book -- spending lots of money to elect friendly legislators, lobbying all over Washington, and bringing questionable lawsuits -- to challenge common sense open Internet "net neutrality" protections.

What's at stake? Open Internet rules prevent Internet service providers like Verizon from slowing down access to competitor sites. Without these rules, your cell phone company could block your favorite apps or hit you with a surcharge if you try to use them . . .  And if Verizon wins, it also could charge customers special fees just to access popular sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Learn about Verizon’s agenda and what you can do to stop it in Common Causes's new online comic, "Big Deal, Big Money:"

internet access




Why American Health Care Costs Are So High PDF Print E-mail


Steve Brill's 26,000-Word Health-Care Story in One Sentence


Sarah Kliff, Washington Post


What is the sentence?  Sarah Kliff states that Steven Brill's well documented April 2013 article in Time can be condensed to "The American health-care system does not use rate setting."  Other countries set rates for what hospitals, clinics, and doctors can charge for procedures.   The Affordable Care Act lowers health care costs by emphasizing preventive care, but it is limited in how much it can reign in health care costs because it doesn't set rates.  As our nation moves toward assuring everyone has health care, a concern with costs is likely to follow. 

Read Sarah Kliff's article.




Ending Price Gouging:  Brill's Time Article and
the Next Chapter in Health Reform

Diane Archer, Huffington Post

steven-brillIn his carefully documented article in the April 2013 Times , Steven Brill makes clear that there is no free market in health care.  Brill points out that "competition" cannot fix the unsustainable rise in health care prices because  there simply is no meaningful competition. Few people understand what medical products or procedures actually cost.  This explains why developed countries that limit health care prices have per capita health care costs that are so much lower.  To a limited extent, Congress allows Medicare to set doctor and hospital rates and this has resulted in slower health care cost increases for Medicare patients.

Deficit hawks' concerns about the deficit, together with their opposition to government regulation and misplaced faith in the free market to bring down health care costs, hide their true agenda - protecting and increasing corporate profits.  Brill points out that the market is under the control of monopolistic players protecting their profits.

Read Diane Archer's article.





Affordable Care Act has unique proving ground in Minnesota PDF Print E-mail


mnsure - choosing health insAccording to Catharine Richert of Minnesota Public Radio, Minnesota is the only state that will implement the "big three" components of health insurance expansion:  1) An expanded Medicaid program,  2) An online insurance marketplace, and 3) A basic health program. 

It's the third component that makes Minnesota unique. Only Minnesota has committed to offering a basic health program, which serves as a safety net for people who have too much income to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private insurance. It is based on an expansion of Minnesota Care, the state's long-standing subsidized insurance program. Both the amount of care covered and the number of people covered will expand.  The new basic health insurance program will not have a cap of $10,000 on the amount of care that can be received as there is for the current program.  In addition to the 35,000 Minnesotans currently enrolled in Minnesota Care, 112,000 more Minnesotans are expected to enroll in 2014 and in later years a total of 160,000 more.

Read the full article.

Listen to the 4 1/2 minute audio interview:

MPR's Catharine Richert discusses Minnesota's implementation of the Affordable Care Act





Last Hours - Thom Hartmann PDF Print E-mail


Industrial Civilization has Potential

to Trigger Mass Extinction


Sent by George Matkovits


The 10 minute film "Last Hours" is designed to awaken people to the fact that industrial civilization with its production of greenhouse gases has the ability to trigger a mass extinction which could threaten not just human civilization, but the very existence of human life on this planet.

Burning fossil fuels releases carbon that heats the atmosphere and the seas through the greenhouse gas effect. This is happening most rapidly at the polar extremes.  Methane is already being released from deposits beneath melting arctic ice, from the warming northern-hemisphere tundra, and from worldwide continental-shelf undersea methane frozen in water called methane hydrate.


2013 arctic methane releases


If we fail to significantly reduce the use of carbon-based fossil fuels, this freed methane threatens to greatly increase the speed of global warming, potentially producing a disaster beyond the ability of the human species to adapt.


methane release

View "Last Hours" presented and narrated by Thom Hartmann.




Americans' Real, Perceived, and Actual Distribution of Wealth PDF Print E-mail


Americans, both Republicans and Democrats, want a more equal distribution of wealth in the United States, but few realize just how huge the wealth gap is.  Watch this excellent six and a half minute video explaining the wealth gap in the United States.





The Bailouts Taxpayers Seldom Ever Notice, Sam Pizzigati PDF Print E-mail


Peter DruckerAll across Corporate America, top executives are accumulating vast wealth while employees lose their jobs, have their wages reduced, and lose their benefits.  Peter Drucker, the Austrian born American who founded modern management science, considered excessive executive pay an assault on the good management of enterprise. 

Ford employees have seen their pay decline from $28 an hour to $19 along with giving up cost of living increases and health benefits.  Though the decline in compensation is considered absolutely necessary for Ford employees, CEO Alan Mulally apparently does not think such an emphasis on austerity applies to his own compensation.  His pay package alone for 2012 was $21 million.  In addition, in 6 years, he has amassed $300 million in Ford stock.

Such excessive executive pay made possible by decline in the financial well being of workers is not tolerated in other countries.  The financial compensation of Toyota CEO, Akio Toyoda, in comparison, was $1.48 million.  In France, the newly elected government of President François Hollande placed a cap equivalent to about $580,000 on executive pay at the 52 companies where the French government holds a majority stake.  This is about 20 times the average pay of French workers at the lowest 10% of wages.  A whopping 83 percent of the French public supported limiting maximum pay for all CEO's.  Peter Drucker himself recommended that executive pay be no more than 20 to 25 that of workers.

See the article by Sam Pizzigati:  "The Bailouts Taxpayers Seldom Ever Notice."

Sam Pizzigati edits Too Much, the online weekly on excess and inequality published by the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Policy Studies. His latest book, The Rich Don’t Always Win: The Forgotten Triumph over Plutocracy that Created the American Middle Class, 1900-1970, has just been published.





Diner Waittress Explains to Yale Graduate How Money Works in America PDF Print E-mail


The “working poor” ... are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else.

Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

waitress explains how money works in america
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MN's Leading Election System

With Secretary of State Steve Simon


steve simon


Listen to Secretary of State Steve Simon's excellent presentation on MN's outstanding election system emulated by many other states at the Think Again Brooklyns forum January 19, 2016.  Secretary Simon includes ways in which it can be improved, and he explains why it is important to vote.  He concludes with a quote from a tee shirt:  "Failure to vote is not an act of rebellion.  It is an act of surrender."

Get details on how to vote at

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How Oregon Became the Easiest Place to Vote in the US

By Lornet Turnbull
YES! Magazine
October 8, 2016


In January, Oregon became the first state in the country to begin automatically registering eligible citizens to vote when they obtain or renew their driver's licenses or state IDs, completely shifting the burden of voter registration from the individual to the government. 

Read the Article

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