Sports

What Justin Bieber and Gold Diggers Can Teach Us About Feminism

After attending Jay-Z and Kanye West's Watch the Throne concert I remarked on Facebook that I enjoyed the show -- the feminist in me notwithstanding. Between the two of them there are plenty of lyrics that would make any self-respecting feminist cringe, but there is one song that some feminists may expect me to find offensive, yet I don't: the Kanye West hit "Gold Digger." Let me clarify. It's not that I don't find the song offensive. It's just that I'm not nearly as offended by the lyrics as I am by the women that inspired them. Before my fellow feminists in cyberspace grab their pitchforks, let me start by saying I know not every woman is a gold digger. I just wish so many women out there would stop perpetuating the stereotype that most of us are. I was reminded of this when the media became obsessed with the latest celebrity babymama drama , this time starring teen heartthrob Justin Bieber. (Click here to see a list of the most high profile celebrity paternity cases.) For starters, as I'm sure has already been stated by others, part of what's troubling about the case is that if the gender roles were reversed and a nineteen-year-old man had impregnated a sixteen-year-old girl I don't think everyone would have initially treated the matter as a boys-will-be-boys like joke. But the equally disturbing issue is that Bieber's accuser follows a long line of women who not only use their sexuality to get ahead, but their wombs. The act of becoming pregnant on purpose with the goal of landing financial security has become viewed as such a common practice that it is regularly joked about whenever stories like this become public. Bloggers, commenters and commentators use language like "just became pregnant with eighteen years of security" or "she just hit the lotto" to describe women announced to be carrying the children of rich men, particularly men they were not in serious relationships with but will now be linked to, both personally and financially, for life. From Mick Jagger, to Hugh Grant and countless professional athletes, the notion these women (and the men involved), help perpetuate is that there is another option besides appearing on a reality show for those who don't want to work for a living. (And yes I consider parenting, at least being a good parent, the hardest job in the world, but you get my meaning.) What's disconcerting is the message that the high profile stories of Bieber and other celebrities, combined with the success of programs like Basketball Wives , (which features few wives, but many women whose lives of luxury are bankrolled by the wealthy athletes they've had multiple children out of wedlock with) sends to girls everywhere: Why bother spending money on a college degree, when if you play your cards right and don't use a condom -- or poke holes in one -- you can be financially set for life. (Yes you read that right. As recounted to me by multiple aides, staffers and ex-girlfriends of professional athletes there are women who go to elaborate lengths to become pregnant by them. Poking holes in condoms is just the tip of the iceberg, no pun intended.) As I made clear on The Dylan Ratigan Show , I'm not letting the men off the hook when it comes to their responsibility in situations like these. If a man truly doesn't want to be a father, he should take the precautions necessary not to become one. If he doesn't, then he's a fool. Any man who creates a baby has a responsibility to that child. But a woman will always have more responsibility -- at least in the beginning. Why? Because ultimately it will always be our choice, as women (at least here in America) whether or not a baby ends up in this world. Any woman who disagrees with that statement is in essence disagreeing with the very premise of a woman's right to choose. After all, we fought long and hard to defend the mantra, "My body, my choice," something I will believe in and defend until the day I die. But if we are going to demand that men respect the mantra "My body, my choice," and if it is ultimately our choice and we want to protect the legal right to keep it ours and ours alone, then we can't turn around and blame someone else for the irresponsible choices we make with our bodies. We also can't get mad when someone calls us out for such choices. We simply can't have it both ways ladies. I do believe feminism is about a woman's right to choose, but I also believe feminism is about taking responsibility for the choices that we make. Having unprotected sex with a wealthy stranger whom you then conveniently sue for a lot of money afterwards is not a brand of feminism in my book. Furthermore, women who make the choice to use their bodies to create children primarily for the purpose of financial gain, not only go against everything feminism stands for, but they go against the very idea of responsible parenting. Kids should not be created to be anyone's retirement package, whether your last name is Lohan, Jackson or Yeater (of Bieber fame.) And as long as women are afraid to confront and challenge other women who embody the negative gender stereotypes we battle every day, they will continue to prevent the rest of us from achieving the progress and equality we desire and deserve. So the next time you hear the song "Gold Digger," ladies try to reserve your outrage for the individual who actually deserves it. Not Kanye West, but whatever woman, or women, that inspired the song. Keli Goff is the author of The GQ Candidate and a Contributing Editor for Loop21.com where this post originally appeared. www.keligoff.com

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Historic: Hundreds of Teach-In’s Across U.S.A. on "How 1% Crashed Economy"

Yesterday evening, something historic happened in the homes, campuses, and community centers of America. From Biloxi, Mississippi to Monrovia, California, more than 4,000 people attended 375 teach-ins -- all volunteer-driven -- to learn "How the 1% Crashed the Economy, and What We Can Do About It." The Occupy Wall Street movement has struck a chord with millions of Americans. It has given direction to our outrage and inspired curiosity about certain fundamental questions. How could the richest country in the history of the world find itself in such a grave economic crisis? How could the wealthiest in our society score record-breaking profits, while millions of Americans struggle? People are searching for both answers and solutions. So Rebuild The Dream Innovation Fund (an organization I co-founded) and our partners created a special curriculum -- a teach-in toolkit to help people make sense of what's happening in America. The teach-ins are based on an evocative slide presentation that describes the state of our economy, how we got here, and what we as progressives must do to restore the economy and reclaim our democracy. November 9th was just a start. The materials and information are available online for anyone to host a teach-in, tailored to our own communities. In addition to powerful facts, the presentation weaves a powerful story. Ryan Senser, who created the story and the presentation, breaks down the narrative as follows: "We all have dreams, and freedom means being able to pursue them. But right now, the vast majority of people can't move forward because we're hitting a wall. It's a wall of extreme inequality, of debt, of joblessness, of social division. It's the largest barrier to opportunity we've seen since the 1920s, and it's holding our country back. We know who built this wall - Wall Street. Wall Street big corporations and the 1% built it, paid off our politicians to help them do it. And these are Wall Street's results: extreme inequality, which always leads to economic disaster for rest of us. We must elect politicians who will help us pave the path to shared prosperity, and not build walls that keep us from it." Another major contributor to the teach-in curriculum was Heather McGhee, an economic policy expert at progressive think tank Demos , which works to create a more robust democracy and fair economy. Heather explained why the precursors of our crisis are key to understanding how we move forward as a nation. "The economy is not like the weather," she said. "It's not something that goes up and goes down and that we have no control over as human beings. It's actually a very human-made structure in our political system that is guided by the decisions we make together as a people in a well-functioning democracy." Our society today, which grants everything to the 1% at the expense of the rest of us, puts greed over common good, justice for some over justice for all, and next quarter over next generation. This is not an accident. As Heather said, "The personal, individual problems that keep us up at night -- student debt, foreclosures, mortgages, credit cards, why rent is up and housing prices are down, why work isn't paying how it used to, why both parents have to work and there's no support for child care -- all of these private questions are part of our story. And the story says there are public causes and public solutions that have evolved over the last 3 decades." In the 1930s, America emerged from the Great Depression with a vengeance. Ordinary American wrested the unjust concentration of political and economic power from the hands of the 1% to build the first and biggest middle class the world had ever seen. Our great-grandparents and grandparents deliberately paved a road to shared prosperity. But starting in the 1970s, the 1% again began to tear away at the accomplishments of our predecessors and they built the wall again. We overcame once and we will overcome again. The Occupy movement has set off a wave of energy and enthusiasm that is determined to tear down the wall built by the 1% and create an economy that works for all. November 17th will be a day of mass action for the 99% to begin tearing down that wall. And possible solutions have already been outlined in the Contract for the American Dream created by 131,000 Americans and signed by over 300,000. We will continue taking to the streets, starting with the mass mobilization on November 17th . Across the country, there will be hundreds of events at the very places that can put America back to work: our crumbling bridges, understaffed schools, and other sites that represent a failed economy. And next year we will occupy voting booths and ballots all over the country. We must continue growing the extraordinary momentum of the 99%. The story we weave about ourselves, our economy, and the political power we hold will shape how we move forward from this unprecedented moment. We will tear down this wall.

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Progressives Made a Clean Sweep — Don’t Look Now But the Movement Has Begun

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If there's one thing we can take from yesterday's elections, it's the simple fact that power truly rests with the people. Despite tremendous money pouring in from conservative groups, individuals and think tanks, the American citizenry spoke out in volumes when they defeated Ohio's anti-labor measure, silenced Mississippi's attempts at restricting women's rights and restored Maine's election-day registration status. It was a decisive victory for progressives and proof still that the majority cannot be duped into believing that this nation desires to be on a conservative trajectory. Yesterday was clear evidence that a movement that has been bubbling on the ground can and will take their power to the polls. After championing a bill designed to strip away collective bargaining rights, Gov. Kasich of Ohio had no choice but to recognize defeat and the tremendous pushback this legislation received yesterday after it was repealed by a decisive majority vote. Following election results, he stated 'It's time to pause, the people have spoken clearly'. And indeed they have. Voicing their discontent over Republican measures to deter voters by ending same-day registration in Maine, that state's citizenry voted to restore the practice on Tuesday. And in Mississippi, GOP lawmakers tried to push through a ballot initiative declaring 'life begins at fertilization' in an attempt to eventually challenge Roe vs. Wade, but again, the voters responded with a resounding 'no'. All across the country, teachers, police officers, construction workers, laborers, firefighters, EMS workers, nurses, caretakers, civil service employees, mothers, fathers and those concerned about the state of our future said repressive and regressive measures will no longer be tolerated. Yesterday morning, I joined community and labor leaders on the steps of New York's City Hall to announce plans to launch a Dec. 10th rally in front of the UN designed to address the need for global jobs and justice for all. We at National Action Network (NAN) have also been actively fighting against concerted efforts to further disenfranchise Black, Latino and poor voters by attempts to enforce new voter ID laws across the country. Organizing a 25-city nationwide rally, NAN will tackle the greatest modern threat to voting rights head on. When this sort of egregious legislation is being passed, we simply cannot sit silently and watch our collective progress be stripped away. It was labor and civil rights organizations that brought about progress in this nation decades ago. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself was fighting for the liberties of sanitation workers at the very moment his life was taken. In states like Ohio, labor, civil rights organizations like NAN and the NAACP joined forces yet again to increase civic participation and deliver a more accurate portrayal of what voters want for themselves and for the next generation. On October 15th, we led a march and rally for jobs and justice in Washington, D.C. where tens of thousands participated in order to demand employment opportunities and a more equalized playing field. And all across this country we see the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations not only continuing their push for bridging the tremendous wealth gap in society, but simultaneously gaining momentous traction and supporters as it continues to expand. Everywhere you look, there's a movement afloat. Whether it's in the civil rights community or within organized labor, or among everyday citizens, there is something in the air, something on the ground and now something in the voting booth. To those that want to keep pretending we're a center-right country, I say again, nice try. Just look at yesterday's election results -- the proof is in the pudding. And for those that think voting doesn't matter, all you have to do is observe what took place on Election Day 2011. There are some in positions of authority that can -- and will -- do anything to have us believe that we do not have power, but just remember that we are the majority and we will not tolerate attempts from the right-wing to destroy all of the progress we have achieved. Let the movement begin.

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Time to Occupy Voting?: Progressive Upsurge Faces Tough Test in Ohio

In the first major election since Occupy Wall Street swept the nation, Ohioans have a chance on Tuesday to repeal draconian restrictions on labor rights. A victory for the " No on 2 " forces would mark the first sign that the new upsurge in progressive energy is capable of impacting electoral outcomes. If you are in Ohio or can get there today or tomorrow, the good folks fighting for repeal could really use your help on the ground right now. Extreme right-wing Gov. John Kasich and conservatives in the Ohio legislature passed an anti-labor bill in the spring which destroyed collective bargaining rights for the state's public workers. It would jeopardize the pay, benefits and even jobs of thousands of Ohioans. Together with Kasich's budget, the offensive legislation would cut 51,000 jobs in the state. Instead of finding ways to help Ohioans in hard times, the Kasich crew is finding new ways to cut jobs. Left intact, the anti-worker legislation puts everyone at risk. Police and firefighters wouldn't be able to come together to demand better equipment to protect Ohioans. Nurses wouldn't be able to ask for the proper number of caregivers to handle all the incoming patients in our hospitals. Teachers wouldn't be able to push for the best teaching methods or student-teacher ratios to optimally educate our kids. Victory is essential. It would demonstrate that progressives and labor can repudiate and punish Tea Party overreach - in an electorally important swing state. It would show that the partially successful recalls in Wisconsin were a part of a general move away from GOP extremism. And it would offer proof that newly-energized progressives are willing to occupy public parks - and ballot booths, too. We know that our opponents are sweating bullets about this race. At the last minute, shadowy corporate forces have stepped in to dump in millions of dollars to pass. It's no secret why. They've delivered body blows to labor rights and restrictions on Wall Street over the last generation. Their wealth has risen exponentially over the last decade, while at the same time, middle class incomes have shrunk. They need to win in this key battleground state to keep the ball rolling. But the gig is up. Millions of Americans have seen the awful outcome of policies that benefit the top 1 percent, at the expense of the rest of us. Now we want to return to our grandparents' wisdom: in the wake of the Great Depression, they passed major labor reforms that allowed men and women to collectively bargain for better pay and working conditions. Our forebears also passed major financial reforms to keep speculators and big Wall Street firms from ripping off average investors and entrepreneurs. Those two reforms helped American build the greatest middle class that the world has ever seen. If Ohio repeals Senate Bill 5 by voting " No on Issue 2 " on Tuesday, the victory will validate the thousands who rallied at the state capitol in Wisconsin in February, the hundreds of thousands who rallied against austerity in every congressional district over the summer, and the inspirational crowds who gather every day at Zuccotti Park and Occupy sites around the country. More importantly, we take a step toward recovering our grandparents' wisdom - and rebuilding the American Dream.

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Sharpton: “It’s Time We Take Our Country Back”

It’s high time we, the majority, take our country back: When certain individuals began chanting their mantra of ‘take our country back’, the rest of us hoped that it wasn’t a subliminal message to strip away this nation’s advancements and take us back to some sort of Jim Crow era. But in such a short span of time in office, many conservative elected officials have proved that their goal is precisely to implement regressive measures that begin to chip away at the core of the fundamental constructs of the civil rights movement. The latest enactment of voter ID laws across the country are a prime example of how the right is attempting to wrong us all. See Also: Want To Read More Sharpton Pieces? Click Here See Also: Black Travel: Visit The Black Mecca Of America, Harlem For those who like to pretend that racism never existed in our past, here’s another quick reminder: years after slavery was abolished, there were systematic ways to still deny African Americans civil liberties – not the least of which was a poll tax. After the 14th Amendment guaranteed equal protection for all, a poll tax was enacted as a prerequisite to voting. Because African Americans (and poor Whites for that matter) found it difficult to come up with the money required to vote, many were covertly disenfranchised from the process. It was a new measure, but it held the same underlying notion of racism and oppression of an entire group of citizenry that slavery itself did. Today, thankfully, a poll tax does not exist, but as Republican leaders continue to champion and implement voter ID requirements, they are establishing a new form of voting prerequisites and voter suppression. When nearly 25% of African Americans lack ‘appropriate ID’ in order to vote, it’s clear who their target is. When college students are barred from voting in the state where they attend school and instead must return to their home state, it’s clear who their target is. And when the process of obtaining this ‘appropriate ID’ isn’t free by any measure, it’s distinctly clear who their target is. Imagine you’re a hard-working American who holds two or three jobs just to put food on the table, and now you’re required to take a day (or more) off in order to obtain an ID. Not only does this person accrue lost work wages, but he/she also has to factor in the cost of traveling to obtain the ID, as well as fees associated with getting copies of documents like passports or birth certificates. For the individual enduring such difficult times as so many Americans today are, is all the hassle and extra expenses going to be worth it in their eyes? Or will they simply say, I wish I could vote, but I simply can’t afford it? And let’s not forget the long enduring lines, procedures and bureaucracy that will likely arise for folks in the process of receiving ID cards. It may not be a poll tax, but these new voter ID laws are just a polished version of the same oppressive measures designed to keep people of color and the poor out of the electoral process. There are currently 13 states across the country that have adopted voter ID requirements, with more pushing for similar legislation. When so many Americans do not possess a driver’s license due to an inability to purchase a vehicle or because it’s simply not necessary in an urban environment, the amount of Americans without valid ID for the polls is staggering. Once again, African Americans, Latinos, the poor and other disenfranchised groups will clearly be impacted the most by these voting requirements. And it should come as no surprise that this sector of society votes Democratic a majority of the time. If Republican officials and those who support them are so upset by the direction of the country and so insistent on the fact that we are a center-right nation, why don’t they prove it with fair elections? By conjuring up ridiculous requirements that are obviously designed to reduce the number of voters, they only validate the fact that their Party and their vision for the future is antiquated and the majority is not on their side. Instead of playing dirty politics, perhaps they should just run an election on the facts and allow everyone to freely vote. After all, what are they so afraid of? Maybe it’s high time we, the majority, take our country back.

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Stunning Number: Big Banks Set to Lose 70,000 Accounts on Move Your Money Day

Just this week, Rebuild the Dream (an organization that I helped to found) launched a Move Your Money website , where people are pledging to close their accounts at Wall Street banks in protest of their outrageous behavior before, during, and after our nation's financial crash. I am stunned to report that as of this morning at 9am Pacific, people have pledged to close 69,127 accounts at big banks, and the number keeps climbing. Tomorrow is a big day. Saturday, November 5 is a huge " Move Your Money " day. Tens of thousands of people all over the country will leave the big banks and move their money to community banks and credit unions -- where people remember things like customer service and loyalty. For the past decade, our economy has been hijacked by Wall Street banks. Banks that knowingly made bad loans to homeowners and sold them as "can't miss" investments. Banks that took our tax money to bail themselves out, while handing out billions in bonuses to their executives. Banks that have so far escaped accountability for their role in our nation's economic crash. If you use a big bank, like so many of us, now's the time to make a change. We need to stop feeding what we are fighting. Let's fund banks that will fund our American dreams, not our American nightmares. Within our own wallets, we have the power to hold Wall Street banks accountable. We can move our money to community banks and credit unions, institutions that are responsive and accountable. to the communities we live in. Community banks know that they depend on the well-being of local residents and the local economy. Credit unions know that they thrive only if their account holders thrive. In other words, they put people before profit. Wall Street banks have it backward, sacrificing people's life savings and homes just so they can prop up their stock price. We already know that the big banks are paying attention. Just this week, after public outcry over proposed monthly debit card fees, the big banks backed off. This is good news. Now let's make sure they know they need to do a lot more than just give us back our $5. Already, tens of thousands have pledged to move their money this weekend. I'm proud to count myself among that number -- I'm in the process of moving our family's money out of a zombie mega-bank and into a community bank. The more people that join in the exodus from Wall Street banks, the louder the message that the banks will pay for the damage they've caused to our economy. Does it sound hard to switch banks? It's true, it's not always simple. Sometimes, the hardest part is getting started. Here are some resources to make it easier. - To find a local bank to switch to, you can search for a community bank or credit union in your area here . - Read a complete guide to closing your account from our friends at the New Bottom Line . - When you decide to Move Your Money, don't forget to tell the world . Stand up and be counted! - And if you're inspired and want to do more, the New Bottom Line is organizing people nationwide to start campaigns to get institutions like churches, municipal governments, and universities to move their money out of the big Wall Street banks. You can find out more and get involved locally here .

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I Wish I Could Vote, But I Simply Can’t Afford To

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It's high time we, the majority, take our country back: When certain individuals began chanting their mantra of 'take our country back', the rest of us hoped that it wasn't a subliminal message to strip away this nation's advancements and take us back to some sort of Jim Crow era. But in such a short span of time in office, many conservative elected officials have proved that their goal is precisely to implement regressive measures that begin to chip away at the core of the fundamental constructs of the civil rights movement. The latest enactment of voter ID laws across the country are a prime example of how the right is attempting to wrong us all. For those who like to pretend that racism never existed in our past, here's another quick reminder: years after slavery was abolished, there were systematic ways to still deny African Americans civil liberties - not the least of which was a poll tax. After the 14th Amendment guaranteed equal protection for all, a poll tax was enacted as a prerequisite to voting. Because African Americans (and poor Whites for that matter) found it difficult to come up with the money required to vote, many were covertly disenfranchised from the process. It was a new measure, but it held the same underlying notion of racism and oppression of an entire group of citizenry that slavery itself did. Today, thankfully, a poll tax does not exist, but as Republican leaders continue to champion and implement voter ID requirements, they are establishing a new form of voting prerequisites and voter suppression. When nearly 25% of African Americans lack 'appropriate ID' in order to vote, it's clear who their target is. When college students are barred from voting in the state where they attend school and instead must return to their home state, it's clear who their target is. And when the process of obtaining this 'appropriate ID' isn't free by any measure, it's distinctly clear who their target is. Imagine you're a hard-working American who holds two or three jobs just to put food on the table, and now you're required to take a day (or more) off in order to obtain an ID. Not only does this person accrue lost work wages, but he/she also has to factor in the cost of traveling to obtain the ID, as well as fees associated with getting copies of documents like passports or birth certificates. For the individual enduring such difficult times as so many Americans today are, is all the hassle and extra expenses going to be worth it in their eyes? Or will they simply say, I wish I could vote, but I simply can't afford it? And let's not forget the long enduring lines, procedures and bureaucracy that will likely arise for folks in the process of receiving ID cards. It may not be a poll tax, but these new voter ID laws are just a polished version of the same oppressive measures designed to keep people of color and the poor out of the electoral process. There are currently 13 states across the country that have adopted voter ID requirements, with more pushing for similar legislation. When so many Americans do not possess a driver's license due to an inability to purchase a vehicle or because it's simply not necessary in an urban environment, the amount of Americans without valid ID for the polls is staggering. Once again, African Americans, Latinos, the poor and other disenfranchised groups will clearly be impacted the most by these voting requirements. And it should come as no surprise that this sector of society votes Democratic a majority of the time. If Republican officials and those who support them are so upset by the direction of the country and so insistent on the fact that we are a center-right nation, why don't they prove it with fair elections? By conjuring up ridiculous requirements that are obviously designed to reduce the number of voters, they only validate the fact that their Party and their vision for the future is antiquated and the majority is not on their side. Instead of playing dirty politics, perhaps they should just run an election on the facts and allow everyone to freely vote. After all, what are they so afraid of? Maybe it's high time we, the majority, take our country back.

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Tax the One Percent — Make Wall Street Fund America

The giant cries of protest sweeping across the country are starting to reverberate in the halls of Congress. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) are proposing a Wall Street Tax. Their bill would establish a tiny financial transaction tax of 0.03% on every single trade of stocks, bonds, options, futures, swaps, and credit default swaps. I think this is a great idea, and Congress should pass the bill. Rebuild the Dream and MoveOn.org started a petition so you can show support for the Wall Street Tax. Notably, a Wall Street Tax is in the Contract for the American Dream , the 10-point plan to fix our economy that more than 131,000 people created earlier this year, through a grassroots, bottom-up process. To date, more than 300,000 people have signed the Contract for the American Dream. In other words, the idea of a Wall Street Tax is already popular. The Wall Street Tax would be a tiny cost for those of us socking away our savings for retirement or our children's education -- the average person paying into a 401(k) would pay only one dollar per year. But Wall Street traders could no longer bet thousands of times a second for free. Much of the risk in today's market comes from rapid-fire "flash trading," where financial firms use computer algorithms to make thousands of trades per second. This doesn't add any real value to the market or to our economy. When we buy something of real value, like a winter coat for our kids, we pay a sales tax, and rightly so. Yet these Wall Street speculators pay zero taxes while making a fortune passing electrons back and forth millions of times a day, all the while destabilizing our economy. The Harkin-DeFazio Wall Street Tax is common sense. The concept has been around for a while. Hundreds of economists and responsible investors have long called for it, including Nobel Laureates Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, plus stock market billionaire Warren Buffett and former Goldman Sachs Chairman John Whitehead. This idea is already law in several countries, including financial centers like the UK and Hong Kong. And the European Union is currently considering a much steeper version of what's on the table in the U.S. The Wall Street Tax would raise somewhere between $700 billion and $1.2 trillion over ten years, critical funds we need to create jobs and protect vital programs. Meanwhile, the Super Committee has been charged with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions and has floated the idea of targeting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Notice: the Wall Street Tax would cover nearly all of the Super Committee's mandated deficit reductions. Congress is about to face a telling choice. Will they vote to tax Wall Street gamblers in the 1%, or cut the Social Security checks of senior citizens in the 99%? Members of Congress should take note: If they vote against the 99% on this bill, they should be prepared for the 99% to vote against them next November. Go here to learn more about the bill and what citizens can do.

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It’s Time for the Solutions: Hundreds of Thousands Support Big Plan to Fix Economy

America and the world owe a great debt to Occupy Wall Street for making the problem of economic inequality impossible to ignore. The tiny spark that began in Zuccotti Park just six weeks ago has triggered a major shift in the national dialogue on inequality, our economy and our democracy. Now it's time to begin a conversation about solutions -- solutions big enough to fit the scale of the problems that Occupy Wall Street has highlighted. Fortunately, the American Dream Movement spent this last summer taking on this very challenge. We are a vast, growing network of progressive organizations and individuals. We are fighting to renew the American Dream and return our country to the principle of liberty and justice, for ALL (not for some). We launched in June 2011, with the support of more than 70 national organizations, including MoveOn.org , Planned Parenthood, Center for Community Change, Campaign for America's Future, SEIU and AFL-CIO. Since then, more than half a million people have joined our ranks and become members on www.RebuildtheDream.com . We now have membership in every congressional district of the country. In July, the American Dream Movement created an inclusive process to forge a jobs agenda that would put the country back to work without hurting essential programs like Medicare and Medicaid. More than 131,000 people got involved, both online and in person (NOTE: That is nearly three times the number of people who helped craft the Tea Party's famous"Contract from America.") Participants generated more than 20,000 ideas, then rated and ranked them to identify the best ones. The outcome was our 10-point program: the Contract for the American Dream . The common sense remedies in the Contract are based on the fundamental idea that a functioning U.S. economy requires opportunity for all and responsibility from all. Here are the ten items: I. Invest in America's Infrastructure - Rebuild our crumbling bridges, dams, levees, ports, water and sewer lines, railways, roads, and public transit. Invest in high-speed Internet and a modern, energy-saving electric grid. These investments will create good jobs and rebuild America. II. Create 21st Century Energy Jobs - Invest in American businesses that can power our country with innovative technologies like wind turbines, solar panels, geothermal systems, hybrid and electric cars, and next-generation batteries. And put Americans to work making our homes and buildings energy efficient. We can create good, green jobs in America, address the climate crisis, and build the clean energy economy. III. Invest in Public Education - Provide universal access to early childhood education, make school funding equitable, invest in high-quality teachers, and build safe, well-equipped school buildings for our students. This is critical for our future and can create badly needed jobs now. IV. Offer Medicare for All - Expand Medicare so it's available to all Americans, and reform it to provide even more cost-effective, quality care. The Affordable Care Act is a start, but it's not enough. We can save trillions of dollars by joining every other industrialized country -- paying much less for health care while getting the same or better results. V. Make Work Pay - Grant all Americans the right to fair minimum and living wages, to organize and collectively bargain, to enjoy equal opportunity, and to earn equal pay for equal work. Corporate assaults on these rights must be outlawed. VI. Secure Social Security - Keep Social Security sound, and strengthen the retirement, disability, and survivors' protections Americans earn through their hard work. Pay for it by removing the cap on the Social Security tax, so that upper-income people pay into Social Security on all they make, just like the rest of us. VII. Return to Fairer Tax Rates - End, once and for all, the Bush-era tax giveaways for the rich, which the rest of us -- or our kids -- must pay eventually. Outlaw corporate tax havens and tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas. And with millionaires and billionaires taking a growing share of our country's wealth, let's add new tax brackets for those making more than $1 million annually. VIII. End the Wars and Invest at Home - Bring home our troops. They've done everything asked of them, and it's time to bring them home to good jobs. We're sending $3 billion each week overseas that we should be investing to rebuild America. IX. Tax Wall Street Speculation - Make Wall Street pay. A tiny fee of a twentieth of 1% on each Wall Street trade could raise tens of billions of dollars annually with little impact on actual investment. This would reduce speculation, "flash trading," and outrageous bankers' bonuses. X. Strengthen Democracy - Hold clean, fair elections -- where no one's right to vote can be taken away, and where money doesn't buy you your own member of Congress. We must ban anonymous political influence, slam shut the lobbyists' revolving door in D.C., and publicly finance elections. Immigrants who want to join in our democracy deserve a clear path to citizenship. We must stop giving corporations the rights of people when it comes to our elections. And we must ensure our judiciary's respect for the Constitution. Many elements of the Contract are already under consideration in various forms in Congress, even as we speak. The idea of taxing Wall Street speculation at this moment in history should be a no-brainer. Let's bring all ten points through the political system. There's always a danger that even mass protest will not result in concrete policy change or real-life improvements for ordinary Americans. The challenge we face is critical: It is time to turn this unleashed energy into power. We must go beyond changing the conversation on inequality to also changing the conditions under which millions of Americans are suffering economically. Let's use this pivotal moment in history to make America work for the 99%

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It’s Time for the Solutions: Hundreds of Thousands Support Big Plan to Fix Economy

America and the world owe a great debt to Occupy Wall Street for making the problem of economic inequality impossible to ignore. The tiny spark that began in Zuccotti Park just six weeks ago has triggered a major shift in the national dialogue on inequality, our economy and our democracy. Now it's time to begin a conversation about solutions -- solutions big enough to fit the scale of the problems that Occupy Wall Street has highlighted. Fortunately, the American Dream Movement spent this last summer taking on this very challenge. We are a vast, growing network of progressive organizations and individuals. We are fighting to renew the American Dream and return our country to the principle of liberty and justice, for ALL (not for some). We launched in June 2011, with the support of more than 70 national organizations, including MoveOn.org , Planned Parenthood, Center for Community Change, Campaign for America's Future, SEIU and AFL-CIO. Since then, more than half a million people have joined our ranks and become members on www.RebuildtheDream.com . We now have membership in every congressional district of the country. In July, the American Dream Movement created an inclusive process to forge a jobs agenda that would put the country back to work without hurting essential programs like Medicare and Medicaid. More than 131,000 people got involved, both online and in person (NOTE: That is nearly three times the number of people who helped craft the Tea Party's famous"Contract from America.") Participants generated more than 20,000 ideas, then rated and ranked them to identify the best ones. The outcome was our 10-point program: the Contract for the American Dream . The common sense remedies in the Contract are based on the fundamental idea that a functioning U.S. economy requires opportunity for all and responsibility from all. Here are the ten items: I. Invest in America's Infrastructure - Rebuild our crumbling bridges, dams, levees, ports, water and sewer lines, railways, roads, and public transit. Invest in high-speed Internet and a modern, energy-saving electric grid. These investments will create good jobs and rebuild America. II. Create 21st Century Energy Jobs - Invest in American businesses that can power our country with innovative technologies like wind turbines, solar panels, geothermal systems, hybrid and electric cars, and next-generation batteries. And put Americans to work making our homes and buildings energy efficient. We can create good, green jobs in America, address the climate crisis, and build the clean energy economy. III. Invest in Public Education - Provide universal access to early childhood education, make school funding equitable, invest in high-quality teachers, and build safe, well-equipped school buildings for our students. This is critical for our future and can create badly needed jobs now. IV. Offer Medicare for All - Expand Medicare so it's available to all Americans, and reform it to provide even more cost-effective, quality care. The Affordable Care Act is a start, but it's not enough. We can save trillions of dollars by joining every other industrialized country -- paying much less for health care while getting the same or better results. V. Make Work Pay - Grant all Americans the right to fair minimum and living wages, to organize and collectively bargain, to enjoy equal opportunity, and to earn equal pay for equal work. Corporate assaults on these rights must be outlawed. VI. Secure Social Security - Keep Social Security sound, and strengthen the retirement, disability, and survivors' protections Americans earn through their hard work. Pay for it by removing the cap on the Social Security tax, so that upper-income people pay into Social Security on all they make, just like the rest of us. VII. Return to Fairer Tax Rates - End, once and for all, the Bush-era tax giveaways for the rich, which the rest of us -- or our kids -- must pay eventually. Outlaw corporate tax havens and tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas. And with millionaires and billionaires taking a growing share of our country's wealth, let's add new tax brackets for those making more than $1 million annually. VIII. End the Wars and Invest at Home - Bring home our troops. They've done everything asked of them, and it's time to bring them home to good jobs. We're sending $3 billion each week overseas that we should be investing to rebuild America. IX. Tax Wall Street Speculation - Make Wall Street pay. A tiny fee of a twentieth of 1% on each Wall Street trade could raise tens of billions of dollars annually with little impact on actual investment. This would reduce speculation, "flash trading," and outrageous bankers' bonuses. X. Strengthen Democracy - Hold clean, fair elections -- where no one's right to vote can be taken away, and where money doesn't buy you your own member of Congress. We must ban anonymous political influence, slam shut the lobbyists' revolving door in D.C., and publicly finance elections. Immigrants who want to join in our democracy deserve a clear path to citizenship. We must stop giving corporations the rights of people when it comes to our elections. And we must ensure our judiciary's respect for the Constitution. Many elements of the Contract are already under consideration in various forms in Congress, even as we speak. The idea of taxing Wall Street speculation at this moment in history should be a no-brainer. Let's bring all ten points through the political system. There's always a danger that even mass protest will not result in concrete policy change or real-life improvements for ordinary Americans. The challenge we face is critical: It is time to turn this unleashed energy into power. We must go beyond changing the conversation on inequality to also changing the conditions under which millions of Americans are suffering economically. Let's use this pivotal moment in history to make America work for the 99%

Read More »