Students, Youth, Debt and the 1%
By Danny Kennedy
Beaver County Blue via Berrett-Koeler Publishers
Dec 29, 2012 – The following is an excerpt from ‘Rooftop Revolution: How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy — and Planet’ — from Dirty Energy . Copyright © 2012 by Danny Kennedy. Reprinted with permission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, CA.
There’s an epic struggle afoot for the head and the heart of America. And the fat cats in Dirty Energy who feed off our addiction to fossil fuel have an obvious motivation—profits—to keep us in denial about our bad habit.
They don’t want us to dwell on our energy addiction and the damage it does to ourselves, our planet, and our children’s future. So Dirty Energy dips into its very deep pockets to tout its brand of power in the news and keep America in the dark about cleaner, smarter, more-affordable options out there. But as a growing number of Americans are finding out, they do have options.
Although change is difficult and requires traction, it’s easier when someone shines a light on the path ahead, and this is what the solar-power movement is doing: providing a solution, an alternative to business as usual, while the coal, oil, nuke, and gas giants continue their fight for the status quo. Not to be too highfalutin, but when the colonial Americans were frustrated by heavy taxation without government representation, it wasn’t until they saw a new direction—inspired by the French Republic’s demand for liberty—that forces of change pushed them to have their own revolution.
It’s time for a new revolution, an energy revolution, our revolution—a Rooftop Revolution. The movement worldwide to go solar—to usurp the powers that be in our existing electricity grids and put power in the hands of those in the developing world who don’t have it—is creating a space for as profound a change. Breaking up monopolies, spreading benefits to the poorest, making consumers producers, and getting polluters to pay and thus using market forces to get them to participate in building a clean economy—this is what the Rooftop Revolution is all about. And that’s why it’s not surprising that King CONG [coal, oil, nuclear, gas] is fighting back.
In 2012 oil barons such as the Koch brothers will spend many millions on TV ad campaigns to tar President Barack Obama with the same brush they used on Solyndra. Those who have the most to lose, the opponents of solar, will come out with fists flying—as the US Chamber of Commerce did in the 2010 election cycle. The massive business lobby outspent the Republican and Democratic National Committees combined to further its official policy of digging up every last ounce of fuel in the ground and burning it as soon as possible.
Continue reading New Green Jobs and the ‘Rooftop Revolution’:
By Jared Green
Beaver County Blue via The Grist
Lakiya Culley, an administrative assistant at the U.S. State Department and mother of three, just moved into one of the most innovative, energy-efficient houses in the U.S. – in a rather unlikely location.
Culley lives in Deanwood, a working class, primarily African American neighborhood of Washington, D.C., that has recently struggled with foreclosures. She is now the proud owner of an Empowerhouse, a home that produces all of its own energy, a feat made simpler by the fact that it consumes 90 percent less energy for heating and cooling than a conventional home.
Empowerhouse, which uses “passive house” technologies, was designed by students at the New School and Stevens Institute of Technology as part of the Solar Decathlon design competition, which was held on the National Mall in 2011. Developed in partnership with Habitat for Humanity and the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development, the house marks the first time in the Solar Decathlon’s history that a team partnered with civic and government organizations to make a house a reality in the District.
Solar Decathlon organizers added a new category so that teams could earn points for affordability after some criticism that homes were getting out-of-control-pricey and therefore weren’t realistic real-world models. A home from Germany, for example, cost upwards of $2 million. Each unit of the actual Empowerhouse in Deanwood (there are two apartments in the mini-complex), cost just $250,000, making it affordable in that neighborhood, according to a spokesperson at New School. The model, which was built by Habitat for Humanity volunteers, has been such a hit that six more are being planned for Ivy City, another inner-city neighborhood in the District.
By Science News
SolidarityEconomy.net via Sciencedaily.Com
Dec. 10, 2012 — Renewable Energy Could Fully Power A Large Electric Grid 99.9 Percent Of The Time By 2030 At Costs Comparable To Today’s Electricity Expenses, According To New Research By The University Of Delaware And Delaware Technical Community College.
A Well-Designed Combination Of Wind Power, Solar Power And Storage In Batteries And Fuel Cells Would Nearly Always Exceed Electricity Demands While Keeping Costs Low, The Scientists Found.
"These Results Break The Conventional Wisdom That Renewable Energy Is Too Unreliable And Expensive," Said Co-Author Willett Kempton, Professor In The School Of Marine Science And Policy In Ud’s College Of Earth, Ocean, And Environment. "The Key Is To Get The Right Combination Of Electricity Sources And Storage — Which We Did By An Exhaustive Search — And To Calculate Costs Correctly."
by Randy Shannon
December 21, 2012
The right wing has collapsed.
The fiscal landscape will now be negotiated between the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Corporate Democrats. This will be a defining moment for the progressives in Congress and their base in labor, PDA, and other progressive organizations. If the movement base unites around core demands and the Congressional Progressive Caucus holds firm, our movement will take off. If the CPC wavers and crumbles it will be over for the Progressive Democrats.
Now we must shift from protest to our opening gambit:
As my colleagues have shown, the “chained” cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security being discussed between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner is a cut to benefits. The AARP Public Policy Institute’s report, Social Security: A Key Retirement Income Source for Older Minorities, helps us to think about how this cut might affect different racial groups.
Nearly one-in-five (18.7 percent) of the Hispanic elderly lives in poverty. For African Americans, the rate is one-in-six (17.1 percent) (Figure A). A cut to Social Security benefits runs the risk of significantly increasing these rates.
Latinos and blacks tend to have lower lifetime earnings and this fact results in lower levels of Social Security income. But it is also the case that these groups have less wealth and therefore depend on Social Security more. Figure B shows that roughly one-in-four Latino (25.4 percent) and black (26.3 percent) Social Security beneficiaries rely on Social Security for 100 percent of their income. For these individuals, Social Security cuts will hurt the most.
An ongoing dispute between the UPMC health system and a union working to organize service and maintenance workers at three Pittsburgh hospitals escalated Wednesday, when the National Labor Relations Board charged UPMC with violating federal laws regarding employees’ rights to organize a union.
In a 30-page complaint against the Pittsburgh health care provider, the government detailed a pattern of intimidation of employees to discourage union-organizing efforts and retaliate against those the health provider knew were engaged in union activities.
Robert W. Chester, the regional director of the labor relations board, said Wednesday that it was the biggest case brought against a single employer in the four years that he has headed the Pittsburgh office.
UPMC has denied the allegations. A hearing is scheduled for February.
The complaint seeks to have the hospitals repay any suspended employees for lost time at work, and to reinstate and pay back wages to employees fired for union organizing. The board is also wants the health provider to allow the union access to bulletin boards where employee notices are normally posted and to expunge unlawful policies.
Continue reading Pittsburgh’s Largest Anti-Union Employer Charged by NLRB
By Reid Wilson
Beaver County Blue via National Journal
Dec 17, 2012 – Republicans alarmed at the apparent challenges they face in winning the White House are preparing an all-out assault on the Electoral College system in critical states, an initiative that would significantly ease the party’s path to the Oval Office.
Senior Republicans say they will try to leverage their party’s majorities in Democratic-leaning states in an effort to end the winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes. Instead, bills that will be introduced in several Democratic states would award electoral votes on a proportional basis.
Already, two states — Maine and Nebraska — award an electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district. The candidate who wins the most votes statewide takes the final two at-large electoral votes. Only once, when President Obama won a congressional district based in Omaha in 2008, has either of those states actually split their vote.
But if more reliably blue states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin were to award their electoral votes proportionally, Republicans would be able to eat into what has become a deep Democratic advantage.
By Lauren Victoria Burke
Crew of 42
December 19, 2012
Rep. John Lewis quickly came out in opposition against
President Obama’s latest fiscal cliff proposal which
included a cut to Social Security.
“After seniors suffered through two years during some
of the roughest economic times in recent American
history without seeing a Cost of Living Increase, there
are some suggesting a significant change to the formula
used to calculate cost of living adjustments for Social
Security beneficiaries. An obscure term is being used
to refer to this cut—“the chained Consumer Price Index
or chained CPI”.
Continue reading Rep. John Lewis Slams Proposed Cut to Social Security
December 18, 2012
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today released the following statement on the potential inclusion of a so-called chained Consumer Price Index feature in the latest floated version of a financial agreement.
“Federal law has always prohibited Social Security from contributing to the deficit. Any talk of shrinking the program to ‘save money’ is flawed from the start because Social Security is not part of the national budget in the same way as military spending – it’s paid for through a dedicated payroll tax separate from general budgeting.
“Some have suggested that Social Security benefits should be based on a chained Consumer Price Index (CPI), which assumes that when the price of one item rises, people buy something else – no matter how popular or necessary that original item might be. If this change goes into effect, Social Security benefits would stop reflecting the rising prices of popular goods.
“The average Social Security recipient rakes in a whopping $13,000 a year. If we pass chained CPI, projected annual cuts for a typical retiree would be about $560 a year by age 75, $984 a year by age 85 and $1,400 a year by age 95.
“The less money our Social Security recipients – including 9 million veterans – are able to spend, the less money goes to the businesses that create jobs. Chained CPI makes life harder for millions of retirees, weakens Social Security and doesn’t reduce the deficit by a penny. It’s a Beltway fig leaf that I will never support, and I call on my colleagues to make their feelings known as soon as possible before this becomes yet another piece of conventional wisdom that makes things worse.
“Lifting the cap on high earners paying into Social Security is a real fix that would make the program solvent indefinitely. If we want to talk about solutions, let’s talk about that, not inventing reasons to take money from American retirees.”