Progressive Infrastructure To Renew The California Dream

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California
Markos, in a post today about the state of progressive infrastructure compared to the right’s, Building machines,

[. . .] But that battle is no longer one-sided. Their machine may be bigger, but we have something. And that’s all we ever needed — a hint of a partisan progressive media machine, fed by research and investigative reporting from the likes of ThinkProgress and Talking Points Memo, to begin delivering our message in the face of their vast media machine, as well as ineffective CW[conventional wisdom]-meisters like Maureen Dowd, Mark Halperin, and David Broder.

Look what we have been able to get done in this country with only the smallest, minimally-funded hint at an infrastructure of organizations and media outlets working to counter the right that has been built up since we started this fight. We fought back against the conservative machine and got the Democrats to start fighting back themselves. We took the Presidency, increased our numbers in the House and maybe, just maybe took enough senate seats to stop the filibusters.
Now, imagine what we could do if we actually started funding serious progressive infrastructure organizations and building an ecosystem in which our writers and advocates could actually make a living, sell enough books to start receiving advances, get paid reasonably to write articles, receive speaking fees from organizations and some of the things right-wing advocates take for granted… Imagine tens of thousands of young activists being trained every year. Imagine progressive non-profits having the budgets to pay people more than minimum wage and provide benefits and get things done. Sheesh.
Imagine what we could get done in California if we put together solid organizations that could reach out to all of the public and explain the benefits of progressive values and policies. I mean progressive policies like good, well-funded public schools and low-cost universities, a health care system that works for the people, help with child care, a transportation infrastructure that gets people where they want to go in a timely manner, energy alternatives that cost less and do not pollute and employment rules that bring us reasonable wages and benefits in good jobs that also give us time to have fulfillment in our lives. These are all possibilities, in fact these are all things that we were within reach of obtaining in California not too long ago. These are things thaqt we can dream about again.
Barack Obama was able to raise millions of dollars in small donations, and this has helped the country to start to restore democracy. We can do this in California, by sending $10 or $100 or more to help organizations like Speak Out California and others, and doing this as often as you can.
It is time for us to begin to renew the California Dream.
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Tax And Budget Priorities: Schools No, Yachts Yes

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This post originally appeared at Speak Out California.
Do you know about the California yacht tax loophole? Here is how it works: Regular people like you and me have to pay sales taxes on the things we buy, even on big items like cars. We even have to pay these taxes if we buy outside of the state. (Technically that is called a “use” tax.)
But California has a special tax loophole just for the things rich people buy. That’s right, if you buy a big yacht, airplane or “luxury recreation vehicle,” you don’t have to pay sales tax. The way this loophole works is, you buy it outside the state, hold it there for three months, and then you have a sales-tax-free yacht.
Summary: Regular people pay sales taxes, rich people don’t have to.

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Getting Rid Of Public Schools – They MEAN It

I’ve said before that when you try to tell people about the right’s agenda, they think YOU are the crazy person.

I’ve said before that when I try to talk about the stuff that the Republicans are up to, to people who don’t really follow the news, they think I’M the crazy person!

I remember a few years ago telling my liberal aunt that the right wants to get rid of public schools. She’s STILL mad at me for saying such an extremist, ridiculous thing. I MUST be an exaggerator, making up these things I say about the conservatives…
Today, another example. In the LA Times: Do away with public schools talks about “government-lovers” and “political correctness” and “bureaucrats” and mocks public schools for teaching about the civil rights movement. And there it is in the LA Times.
The right uses a tactic called “The Overton Window“. This is the Overton Window at work. In a talk to an education group recently I discussed how this works:

The Overton Window is a sophisticated tactic to help move the Right’s self-described “unthinkable” ideas all the way to becoming policy.
The strategy is to make radical ideas seem acceptable and comfortable.
They describe a “ladder” of steps – degrees of public acceptance. They say they work to walk the public up this ladder step by step.
According to the Overton Window concept, when the public FIRST hears ideas like getting rid of public schools, they consider them unthinkable, but with time and repetition, these ideas begin to be considered only radical, then with familiarity they become acceptable, and eventually sensible and worth putting into policy.

This is another example of the use of this tactic. It is intended to shock us. Then, we get used to it. Watch this video clip I used in my talk to introduce the topic. As I said in my talk,

Anything LESS extreme sounds almost moderate by comparison – in the window of “thinkable.” THIS is why they say those outrageous things. They’re walking people up the ladder. It’s part of the long-term strategy.

These people are serious.
A few years ago I worked on a report titled, Responding to the Attack on Public Education and Teacher Unions, describing the organized effort to attack public education, and making some suggestions for countering this effort. Countering this effort requires more than just informing some people about facts and issues. The effort to privatize schools is part of a larger, coordinated attack on community and government itself. They MEAN it. It is past time that we understand what we are up against here.