NJ senator calls for anti-bully law after suicide

From Yahoo News: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_student_taped_sex

Associated Press Writers Bruce Shipkowski And Bill Newill, Associated Press Writers

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg said Wednesday he’ll introduce legislation requiring colleges to adopt a code of conduct that prohibits bullying and harassment following the suicide of a student whose gay sexual encounter in his dorm room was broadcast online.

Lautenberg, D-N.J., made the announcement at a town meeting on the Rutgers University campus in memory of 18-year-old freshman Tyler Clementi.

Clementi, a promising violinist, jumped off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River on Sept. 22 after the intimate images of him with another man were webcast, and his body was identified days later.

Continue reading at:  http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_student_taped_sex

A choice that isn’t on the table: Tax the Rich

From Socialist Worker: http://socialistworker.org/2010/10/06/choice-isnt-table

By Adam Sanchez

When Oregon’s main newspaper published an article about the “hard choices” ahead in balancing the state budget, Adam Sanchez responded with a simple proposal.

October 6, 2010

WHAT IS most telling about the recent article in The Oregonian, headlined “Hard choices: Something must give in Oregon’s budget,” is the simple choice that isn’t on the table. What the authors of the article choose to ignore is that we don’t have a deficit problem in Oregon, but a revenue problem. We have a problem of politicians refusing to tax the rich and corporations.

What is unfortunately absent from the entire debate on Oregon’s $3.2 billion shortfall is the simple fact that one Oregonian, Phil Knight (net worth: $10.2 billion) could pay for our entire budget shortfall and still be a multi-billionaire!

Let’s not forget that despite the recent passage of Measure 66 and 67, Oregon still has a regressive tax system. Oregon is one of the few states that assesses income tax on the wages of families living below the poverty line. As the Oregon Center for Public Policy explains, “The lowest-income Oregonians currently pay 8.7 percent of their income in taxes, the highest share among all income groups…The wealthiest 1 percent–households with income in excess of $410,000 and averaging over $1 million–pay only 6.1 percent of their income toward state and local taxes.”

With the passage of Measures 66 and 67, the percentage that poor Oregonians pay in income tax remained at 8.7 percent while the wealthiest 1 percent saw an increase from 6.1 percent to 6.6 percent. Yet this small increase in taxes on some of the wealthiest Oregonians garnered $472 million in new revenue. Imagine if we simply taxed the wealthiest 1 percent at the same rate we tax the poor.

Or what about taxing corporations a bit more? While “Hard Choices” did mention “kicker” reform–a common-sense tax revision that would garner $42.3 million in the next budget period from mostly profitable out-of-state corporations–why not raise tax rates on corporations in general?

After all, following the national trend, the state has slashed at corporate taxes over the last 30 years. According to economist Michael Leachman, “In the fiscal 1973-75 budget cycle, corporations [in Oregon] paid 18.5 percent of all income taxes. In the…2005-07 budget cycle, corporations are expected to pay just 4.6 percent of Oregon’s income taxes.”

Yet as another OCPP reports point out, corporate profits in Oregon have grown nearly eightfold since the late 1970s. On top of all that, 40 of the 49 corporate income tax breaks written into the state tax code were enacted after 1980. So why is there not a single politician calling for the closure of those loopholes and telling us how much revenue that would bring in? It is important to remember that with the passage of 66 and 67 we only moved from having the third-lowest to the fifth-lowest corporate taxes of any state in the nation.

But while these solutions will seem pretty reasonable to any Oregonian suffering from the Great Recession, they aren’t mentioned in the media, and “both major candidates for governor, Republican Chris Dudley and Democrat John Kitzhaber, have called for cutbacks.”

What this means is that no matter who is elected in November, we will need to build a mass social movement to prevent politicians from balancing the budget on the backs of working people. We should learn from the actions against austerity that are taking place across Europe. We should not fall into the trap of calling for sin taxes or sales taxes that disproportionately hurt the poor.

While big business and the wealthy benefited from the neoliberal boom of the last 35 years, workers’ wages stagnated and in some cases declined. This is why Oregonians voted for Measures 66 and 67. If the majority of us didn’t benefit from the boom, why should we have to pay for the crisis? It’s time we turn the hard choices we’ve been presented with into one simple choice: tax the rich.

First published in The Oregonian.

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Survival Hint: Don’t Fall for the Sales Pitch “And We will Donate X% of Every Sale to Cause XYZ”

I guess it must be Breast Cancer Awareness Month because of all the ads and products that are feature in “pink for girls” and with pink ribbons on them.

All featuring a come on offering to donate X% of their profits to Susan G. Komen  or some other Breast Cancer Research organization.

But it doesn’t matter what the cause is or what time of year it is.

Every day my e-mail in-box is filed with offers such as the above, all trying to sell me a product by easing my guilt with an offer to donate a percentage to a cause they already know I support because of the panopticon effect of living in a world where all purchases and donations to cause are tracked by private data tracking firms whose ability to spy on people make me think  the government is probably using them to track us.

Be that as it may.

If you support a cause it is cheaper and easier to give directly to the cause and to resist the urge to consume another piece of crap manufactured in some sweat shop by virtual slaves.

Part of living consciously and responsibly is learning not to fall for every huckster’s sales pitch.  Why spend a hundred dollars to donate at most a perhaps 4 or five dollars to a cause you support.  I bet you missed the fine print of the part “of our profits”  That means after the CEO gets paid, after the advertising etc gets paid.  So that X percent might be as little as pennies.

Better to just hit the keyboard and donate twenty bucks.  It leaves a smaller carbon footprint and the cause gets more.

Plus if you put that say, hundred dollar purchase on a credit card it automatically cost you more because you have to pay interest to the credit card pigs.

Besides do you really need another piece of the cheap crap they are peddling to make your life complete?

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Why Are People Willing to Fork Out a Fortune for Shoes That Cost Little to Make?

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/media/148376/why_are_people_willing_to_fork_out_a_fortune_for_shoes_that_cost_little_to_make/

By Anneli Rufus

October 1, 2010

Shoes spur cravings, compulsions and crimes as no other clothing does, and the true cost of making them is just as surprising.

Shoes are fashion’s version of drugs.

More than any other article of clothing, shoes alter the way we move, walk and feel. Shoes spur cravings, compulsions and crimes as no other clothing does. Some people can’t have sex without seeing or touching shoes. (Know any hat or tube-sock fetishists?) The fashion industry knows this. It tells us that shoes can improve our health, skill, speed: that, in effect, shoes are medicine. The industry tells us shoes can render us irresistible. Thus it knows it can charge us anything.

It also knows we can’t go DIY with shoes, the way we can with drawstring totebags and elastic-waisted skirts. When we buy shoes, we’re paying for technology — and design, transit, marketing, and manufacturing that (just as with real drugs) occurs far away under conditions we’d rather not envision as we buckle strappy sandals as seen on TV.

In 2005, the National Labor Committee and China Labor Watch reported that Chinese factory workers making New Balance shoes earned 40 cents an hour, which dropped to 32 cents after mandatory room-and-board deductions.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/media/148376/why_are_people_willing_to_fork_out_a_fortune_for_shoes_that_cost_little_to_make/

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