Saturday, November 26, 2005

NYTimes columnist reporting casts doubt on Wal-Mart film subject H&H Hardware
Published: November 26, 2005

Op-Ed Columnist
Big Store, Little Town

The New York Times

MIDDLEFIELD, Ohio -- If you've seen the anti-Wal-Mart documentary
playing at churches and colleges and union halls, you have learned
about the people here in Amish farm country who couldn't stop Wal-Mart
from ruining their simple way of life.

The film, "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price," focuses on H & H Hardware,
a family-owned business in this small town in northeastern Ohio. Its
anguished owner explains that he needs a loan to survive, but complains that
the bank has refused him because Wal-Mart's pending arrival has depressed
the value of his property.

He shows a rack of booklets being distributed by an Amish customer: "How
Wal-Mart Is Destroying America." But there is no stopping the giant. The
film shows a headline, "Wal-Mart Descends On Middlefield!," followed by
bulldozers in action.

Accompanied by the mournful twangs of a guitar, H & H slowly goes out of
business. An Amish horse and buggy is shown passing the moribund store,
followed by images of empty shelves and the lights being turned off.

It's a sad story. But it's not exactly the one you hear if you talk to the
Amish customers now shopping at Middlefield Hardware, the new store in the
same building where H & H operated. They will tell you the new store is a
big improvement over the old one.

The store was opened last month by Jay Negin, a local resident who bought
the building despite the new Wal-Mart. He told me that the building's
appraised value, rather than being hurt by Wal-Mart's opening in May, is
higher now than it was last year.

He scoffed at the notion that Wal-Mart put his predecessor out of business,
as did some former employees and customers of the old store. They told me
that the business had been floundering for years because of management
mistakes. It actually closed three months before Wal-Mart opened, a fact not
made clear in the documentary.

The former owner, Jon Hunter, while insisting to me that Wal-Mart had hurt
his prospects, also said that he had been losing customers well before
Wal-Mart because he had made bad decisions and couldn't afford to keep his
shelves stocked.

The new hardware store is doing fine, Negin told me. "Am I concerned about
Wal-Mart?" he asked. "Not really. If you're a struggling business, they can
hurt you. But as long as you listen to your customers and give them the
products and service they need, they'll stay loyal."

He's hardly the only optimist in Middlefield. John Bruening, an optician who
appeared in the documentary fretting about Wal-Mart, got so much unexpected
business that he has decided to open a new store.

When I mentioned these inconvenient facts to the filmmaker, Robert
Greenwald, he acknowledged he might not have chosen the best examples of
Wal-Mart's victims. He urged me to look at the "macro" issues - at the
overall revenue lost by local merchants and the other social costs of

I'll grant him that some businesses do suffer because of Wal-Mart. And yes,
there are larger issues, like Wal-Mart's wages and benefits, that are worth
considering in another column. But as long as we're in the town that
Greenwald chose as a symbol of Wal-Mart's oppression, let's consider some of
the macro effects here.

There still may be Amish activists passing out booklets against Wal-Mart,
but they seemed to be vastly outnumbered by the Amish who tie their horses
to the posts outside the new Wal-Mart.

"I wasn't too happy about Wal-Mart coming," said Ada Schlabach, who was
browsing through the plain-colored fabrics that Wal-Mart stocks for Amish
customers. "I didn't know what it would do to the community - would it make
it more citylike? But I was surprised. It's kind of nice now. I like
shopping here."

Ben Yoder, an Amish carpenter who is 24, was there with two of his four
children. "We get all our diapers and wipes here because it's cheaper than
anywhere else," he said. He and most of the Amish shoppers said the Wal-Mart
was especially welcomed because they could reach it by horse, unlike the one
more than 20 miles away.

"Wal-Mart isn't really a big issue with our people," said Eli Miller, who
runs a sawmill. "At first some were upset because they were scared by
something new. But now they like being able to get everything here - your
name brand, your off brand, all in one place. I think of it as simple

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Architects schedule Tuesday visit to MGRHS to begin building review

The members of the Building Committee of the Mount Greylock
Regional School District have announced that the design firm of Dore &
Whittier Architects, Inc. will be at the school on Tuesday, November 29,
2005, to initiate their assessment of building conditions, according to
attorney Beth Goodman, a member of the school's building committee.

Dore & Whittier Architects were selected from nine proposers by the School
Committee at its meeting on Tuesday, November 15, 2005, as the design firm
that will complete a feasibility study, Goodman says. The study will
culminate with options for addressing the educational needs of the
District and will be based on their assessment of the physical condition
of the school and evaluation of space needs. Project managers Lee Dore
and Donald Walter of Dore & Whittier Architects will attend the site
assessment with the various sub-consultants who will be working with them
on the project.

Goodman writes that the Building Committee was formed by the School
District in February 2005, as a result of concerns regarding the existing
facilities. Goodman adds:

"As noted by School Committee member David Langston at a recent Building
Committee meeting, after many years of tight school budgets with minimal
funding for deferred maintenance and capital improvements, the MGRS
building needs work. The known deficiency in the heating and ventilation
systems triggered a review of all of the building systems. The systems
are outdated and inefficient and this is further exacerbated by the rising
energy costs. In addition, performing needed improvements at the school
will trigger issues regarding compliance with modern building code and
Americans with Disabilities Act provisions.

"The Building Committee has heard that certain aspects of the facility are
adversely affecting educational activities at the school. The layout of
the middle school classroom impedes organization of the middle school in
the manner now recommended by educators. The science labs lack modern
safety features, which limit hands-on student work. The undersized gym and
inadequate cafeteria are imposing limits on the ability of the
administration to schedule classes.

"The design firm of Dore & Whittier Architects will consider at least
three options for upgrading the existing facility: (1) A minor renovation
addressing the most critical building and code deficiencies; (2) A major
renovation and possible addition and/or partial demolition addressing all
identified educational, building and code deficiencies; and (3) Replacing
the existing facility with a new school built on the same property.

"The Building Committee will host a series of public meetings to gather
information for use in the feasibility study and to obtain public feedback
on the options to be included in the study. The public's participation is
strongly encouraged to ensure that all pertinent issues are considered in
the feasibility study. The first public meeting will be on Tuesday,
January 10, 2006, and will review current conditions and deficiencies in
the school facilities. There will be a second public meeting on Tuesday
January 24, 2006 to address enrollment projections, educational needs
deficiencies, and to preview various options for the school. The options
will be discussed in more detail at a third public meeting on Wednesday,
February 15, 2005. All three meetings will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the high
school. Additional public meetings and information sessions will be
scheduled as needed. The Building Committee expects to present it's
recommendations to the School Committee during the February and March 2006
budget process on whether or how to perform additional design work.

"The Building Committee has a homepage on the school's website at which includes numerous prior studies on various aspects
of the building and its needs. A complete list of the Building Committee
meetings, which are open to the public, and the public hearings, will be
posted on the Calendar section of the school website. The public may
contact Andy Hogeland, the Building Committee chair, for additional
information, by telephone at his home 458-5966, at work at 448-7706 or by
email to

Elisabeth C. Goodman, Esq.
Law Offices of Robert C. Ware
P.O. Box 603
Williamstown, Massachusetts 01267
(413) 458-2700 (Phone)
(413) 458-2702 (Fax) <>

ARTS: Epping details the A Better Chance art auction lineup on Dec. 2

Date: Wed, 23 Nov 2005 00:03:53 -0500
From: Edward Epping <>

I know that you have heard the buzz about the upcoming ABC Arts
Auction. I did want you to know a bit more specifics about the
artists, designers, architects, writers and musicians included in this
exciting event.

The silent and live auction will be held on December 2 from 7-9:30 PM.
Preview for the auction will be held the day before, Thursday, December
1 from 4-6 PM. Both will be at our home/studios, 1097 Main Street in
Williamstown. Wine, light fare and live music will contribute to the
festive spirit of supporting an important Williamstown resource, the
Greylock ABC Program.

This year’s auction features work by:
















Tickets are $30 and admit two. The price of the ticket may be deducted
from a winning bid. Reservations are required and should be made as
soon as possible. You may either call me at 413.458.8702 or e-mail your

I look forward to reserving your place for this exciting opportunity!

Ed Epping
WLS Spencer Studio Art Building
413.458.8702 home/studio

Friday, November 18, 2005

Conservatives respond to Wal-Mart movie with one of their own

SOURCE: William Greene, 770-868-4517
He terms Greenwald movie: "Anti-free market propaganda."

WASHINGTON, DC - William Greene, President of the conservative on-line
activist organization, is announcing his group's plans to
counter's promotion of a new video "Wal-Mart - The High Cost of
Low Price". The new video, produced by Robert Greenwald ("Uncovered" and
"Outfoxed"), accuses Wal-Mart of paying low wages, poor treatment of
employees and campaigning against unions.

"We've got our own FACTUAL video to show, 'Why Wal*Mart Works'", said
William Greene, President of "And we're making arrangements
to show it through our own house party campaign." Produced by the Galloway
Brothers, "Why Wal*Mart Works" offers a free-market exploration of how
Wal-Mart fulfills its mission of "Always Low Prices," saving the average
American family $1,250 every year, and the reasons why Wal-Mart drives its
critics C-R-A-Z-Y.

According to producer Ron Galloway, "We show that the major arguments
presented against Wal-Mart can be refuted with the facts, solid logic and
reason, and compelling personal stories from people whose lives have been
touched in a positive way by Wal-Mart. There are always two sides to a

To see the trailer visit this link: is a web based, conservative organization, dedicated to
giving hundreds of thousands of hardworking, patriotic Americans across the
country a strong collective voice in the political process. For more
information, visit <> .

Download this press release:

REVIEW: Go see Wal-Mart documentary at Images on Sunday/Monday


"Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices"
Images Cinema:
Friday (today): 2:30 p.m.
Sunday: 8:45 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 21, 5 p.m.

Earlier posts:

What choice are you making when you shop at the Wal-Mart in North Adams, or Bennington, Vt., or Pittsfield?

I just finished watching last night a new documentary film released this week by Robert Greenwald, the political-progressive filmmaker responsible for "Outfoxed" and "Uncovered." This time his subject is Wal-Mart. "It's meant to
be the beginning of a long campaign to change Wal-Mart," the Hollywood producer/director says in a commentary which is part of the DVD.

The film chronicles Wal-Mart's anti-labor activities, its alleged condoning and operation of sweat shop-style factories in China, how the arrival of a Wal-Mart in a rural community leads to the closing of family-run businesses, dozens and dozens of violent crimes in Wal-Mart parking lots, and hard facts and figures about Wal-Mart employees taking public assistance such as food stamps and government health-care benefits because of their low wages.

The film uses clips of Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott to set up these various issues, and is narrated in the voices and faces of dozens of ex-Wal-Mart employees, including some low-level executives.

It struck me as an example of the kind of large-scale investigative journalism that some of America's best newspapers have historically done. However, Wal-Mart spends millions of dollars on pre-printed advertising inserts in most of America's newspapers, so it's a challenging story for them to undertake.

Greenwald has been distributing the DVD via individuals and I purchased a copy which I've loaned to Images Cinema. The 1-1/2-hour film will be shown at 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 21 at 8:45 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 20. There is no admission charge, but you can make a voluntary donation to Images. If enough people miss these screenings and want to see the documentary, it is possible Images will schedule one or more additional screenings.

The film makes no overt judgments beyond the choices of who it interviews. It merely presents views on the impact of Wal-Mart on communities, on Chinese workers, on employees and on goverments which provide development tax breaks and public-assistance to Wal-Mart workers, with the prime beneficiaries being Wal-Mart stockholders.

The subtitle of the film: "Wal-Mart: The high cost of low prices," says it all. What are we willing as a nation to do to be able to have low prices? What is lost in the process? Locally, what was the long-term impact of North Adams permitting a Wal-Mart? Should North Adams or Adams allow a replacement super Wal-Mart to be built? You may feel differently after you see this film.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Olver and climate-change author to open national coalition office in Lee on Nov. 22

SOURCE: Climate Crisis Coalition
Contact Tom Stokes or Natalie Boyce at 413-243-5665
or Mark Miller at 413-443-7441
Three related websites are,, and

Congressman and Author to Speak on Climate Change at Opening of New Center

U.S. Representative John Olver, D-Massachusetts, and Ross Gelbspan, veteran journalist and author of two books on global warming and climate change, will speak on the subject Tuesday, November 22, in South Lee, Massachusetts.

The occasion is the official opening, from 5 to 6:30 p.m., of the regional office of the Climate Crisis Coalition, which doubles as national headquarters for the Kyoto and Beyond Campaign, at 1383 Pleasant Street (Route 102) in South Lee.

Olver is co-chair of the Climate Change Caucus in the House of Representatives and one of 107 co-sponsors of the Climate Stewardship Act of 2005 (H.R. 759). He has represented the Massachusetts First District in Congress since 1991.

Gelbspan is author of "The Heat Is On: The Climate Crisis, the Cover-Up, the Prescription" (Perseus Books: 1997) and "Boiling Point: How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists and Activists Are Fueling the Climate Crisis -- and What We Can Do to Avert Disaster" (Basic Books, 2004). A retired Boston Globe senior editor, he has written climate-related articles for The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's Magazine, The American Prospect, The Nation, Mother Jones, and Sierra, among other magazines.

The Climate Crisis Coalition was founded in 2004 to help broaden the circle of people engaged in the related issues of global warming and climate change. The CCC works at local, regional and national levels to organize "town meetings" on global warming and other local initiatives, further the "People's Ratification" of Kyoto Global Warming Treaty of 1997, and convene regional and national summits and other assemblies addressing climate change.

The Kyoto and Beyond Campaign is the part of CCC dedicated to the "People's Ratification" of the Kyoto Treaty through a nationwide petition drive.

The CCC and Kyoto and Beyond offices are located on the south side of Route 102 about two miles east of the center of Stockbridge, on the second floor over the Berkshire office of the Housatonic Valley Association. They are across the street from Lee Fire Station No. 2 and a white church.

The Climate Stewardship Act of 2005 would provide for a program of scientific research on abrupt climate change, to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by establishing a market-driven system of greenhouse gas tradeable allowances to limit those gas emissions in the United States, reduce dependence upon foreign oil, and ensure benefits to consumers from the trading in such allowances.

The act would also (1) establish a graduate fellowship program, (2) create a grant program for research in identified priority areas, and (3) institute research programs on potential abrupt climate change and greenhouse gas-related standards, measurement, technologies and processes.

H.R. 759 would amend the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 to require the Secretary of Commerce to report to Congress on the oceanic and coastal impacts of climate change, and assist certain coastal States in preparing for adaptation to climate change.

The act would require the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a National Greenhouse Gas Database consisting of: (1) an inventory of GHG emissions by covered entities (specified entities that emit more than 10,000 metric tons of GHGs per year); and (2) a registry of GHG emission reductions and increased sequestration, applicable to both covered and noncovered entities.

It would establish a program for the market-driven reduction of GHGs by covered entities through the use of tradeable emissions allowances. It would equire covered entities, beginning in 2010, to submit to the EPA administrator one tradeable allowance for every metric ton of GHGs emitted. Tradeable allowances could be sold, exchanged, purchased, retired, or otherwise used as authorized by the act.

The act would establish the Climate Change Credit Corporation (CCCC) to receive, manage, buy, and sell tradeable allowances.

It would direct the EPA administrator to make allocations of allowances to covered sectors and entities, and to the CCCC, providing initial allocations for early action and accelerated participation.

The act would impose civil penalties on covered entities that fail to submit allowances.

U.S. Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, D-Maryland, introduced the H.R. 759 in the House on Feb. 10, 2005. Legislation with many of the same aims, S. 1151, was introduced in the Senate by Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona. It has two co-sponsors.

Gelbspan is expected to speak on the latest information about climate impacts, the history of obstruction and disinformation by the fossil fuel lobby, and Bush administration's position in the face of widespread concern in the United States and, especially, in Europe. He has put forth a set of three policies that, in addition to reducing emissions by the 70 percent "required by nature," would create millions of jobs around the world, increase the overall wealth and equity of the global economy and provide a platform to bring the countries of the world around a common global project.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Images Cinema announces schedule for kid-friend films in Adams, Williamstown

From: Janet Curran <>
Contact: Sandra Thomas, 413 458 1039

Adams and Williamstown, MA__Continuing in December Images Cinema of
Williamstown will present Kids First! film screenings once a month for age
groups 2-5, 5-8 and 8-12. The Kids First! Film Club is a project of the
Coalition for Quality Children’s Media, and the content of Kid’s First
programs are free of gratuitous violence, bias, or inappropriate sexual

Screenings will take place at the Youth Center, Inc (located at the Adams
Community Center Main Hall, 20 East Street) and Images Cinema, at 50 Spring
Street, Williamstown. Admission to screenings at Images Cinema is $2 per
person. Any questions about this program can be directed to Janet Curran,
(413) 458-1039, or Elizabeth Baker, (413) 743-3550.

Saturday, December 10 at 10 a.m. * Holiday Walk Special
At Images Cinema
CHANUKA AT BUBBE'S (30 minutes, ages 5-12)
A puppet-animated holiday classic from 1989, Chanuka at Bubbe’s is about
grandchildren coming to visit their Jewish grandmother for the holidays.
Bubbe tells the children about the origins of the Chanuka celebration.

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS (26 minutes, ages 5-15)
First broadcast in 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas recalls the true meaning
of Christmas in the face of commercialism. Won an Emmy for Outstanding
Children’s Program and a Peabody Award.

Wednesday, December 14 at 2 p.m.
at Images Cinema
CREATURE COMFORTS episodes (90 minutes, ages 11-15)
>From the imagination of Nick Park and Aardman Animation (Wallace & Gromit,
Chicken Run) comes Creature Comforts, a British claytmation television
series. Each ten-minute episode features different animals, speaking about
anything from UFOs to “What is the meaning of life?”

Saturday, December 17 at 10 a.m.
at the Adams Community Center Main Hall
20 East Street, Adams, Massachusetts
hosted by Youth Center, Inc.
The Muppet Theater is in danger of shutting down, and Kermit loses all hope.
When he wishes he had never been born, an angel (David Arquette) shows him
how important his life really is. A hilarious return to form for the
Muppets, which earned them an Emmy nomination in 2002.

Wednesday, December 28 at 2 p.m.
at Images Cinema
MAD HOT BALLROOM (114 minutes, ages 7-13)
New York City public school children learn ballroom dancing as part of their
curriculum, and compete in a citywide competition. Told from the children’s
perspective Mad Hot Ballroom hilariously plots their transformation into
“ladies and gentlemen”.

Saturday, December 31 at 10 a.m.
at Images Cinema
BACKYARDIGANS (30 minutes, ages 2-5)
A musical adventure series from Nick Jr.

RAVEN'S TALES (23 minutes, ages 5-8)
An animated short based on Native American folklore.

CAPTAIN JON'S SHARK SAFARI (35 minutes, ages 5-8)
Experience what it’s like to be in the water with dozens of sharks!

RED PLANET BLUES (12 minutes, ages 5-12)
A claymation short about a Martian trying to hitch a ride to Earth.

One of the few year-round single-screen nonprofit cinemas left in the
country, Images Cinema is ever expanding its programming to meet the
educational and cultural needs of the community, while maintaining its
dedication to quality independent film. Images Cinema is supported in part
by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. Current happenings
are listed at

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

REVIEW: Good Night And Good Luck -- the revolution may never be televised

By Rob Williams

Historian, media educator and musician Dr. Rob Williams lives in
Vermont’s Mad River Valley. Read, listen, and watch at

"I am entirely persuaded that the American public is more reasonable,
restrained and more mature than most of our industry's program planners
-- Edward R. Murrow, 1958

To say that George Clooney’s new film “Good Night and Good Luck” is one
of the most important films of this year is to be guilty of significant
understatement. Not since Michael Mann’s 1999 thriller “The Insider”
has a Hollywood film director made a media-focused mainstream movie
this important or timely.

Clooney tells the story of CBS news broadcaster Edward R. Murrow
(masterfully played by David Strathairn) and his battle to expose the
anti-Communist excesses of Wisconsin junior Senator Joseph McCarthy
(played by himself, thanks to recovered 1950s kinescope footage). Led
by CBS producer Fred Friendly (a be-speckled Clooney) and supported by
a loyal news team, Murrow’s courageous “See It Now” TV program
confronted the domestic fallout of Cold War ideology (and, by
extension, the military/industrial/media complex propping it up) while
simultaneously staking out a more tolerant and inclusive version of
American patriotism that honored privacy, individual rights, and a
sense of fair play.

Does this debate sound strangely familiar?

While Murrow’s truth-telling won him praise from New York Times media
reporter Jack Gould and other influential cultural gate-keepers, his
nightly stories put “See It Now’s" parent company and Columbia
Broadcast System CEO William Paley (Frank Langella, in the film) under
tremendous pressure. Large corporations cancelled their underwriting
contracts with CBS (during the 1950s, before the days of wall-to-wall
ads, companies like Alcoa often single-handedly supported an entire
program), and US military officials showed up in Friendly’s office for
a not-so-friendly heart-to-heart chat.

In telling Murrow’s story, Clooney wisely plays to his medium’s
strengths. Shooting in black and white, he has produced a compact film
that is tightly edited, atmospheric, and, for TV news studio scenes,
downright claustrophobic. We learn nothing about Murrow’s personal
life, very little about any of the story’s major characters beyond the
news room, and precious few details about Cold War culture.

What we do learn, thanks to Clooney’s decision to book-end his film
with a speech Murrow made at a 1958 Radio-Television News Director
Association dinner, is that many Americans like Murrow believed very
much in the power of television to educate, enlighten, and inspire,
rather than to simply sell people stuff. Murrow’s 1958 observations –
now legendary in media circles - still stand as some of the most
prescient and honest statements about TV and U.S. society ever made by
an industry insider.

“We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have
currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information.
Our mass media reflect this.” Murrow observed on that October 1958
evening in Chicago. “But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and
recognize that television in the main is being used to distract,
delude, amuse and insulate us, then television and those who finance
it, those who look at it and those who work at it, may see a totally
different picture too late.”

What would Murrow make of U.S. television today? The massive global
consolidation of a hyper-commercial corporate structure? The 28 hours a
week we Americans watch, on average? The Fox-ification of TV “news”?
The 24-7 ad-driven “consensus trance” created by the medium, our
society’s epistemological command center even today? The 1996 $70
billion Congressional giveaway of the publicly-owned digital spectrum –
for FREE - to the telecommunications industry? Or, on the positive
side, community cable TV broadcasters’ valiant efforts to exploit the
medium to capture the real lives of real communities – to use TV for
something other than simply selling us stuff?

And, if Murrow were alive today, would he tackle our most provocative
but unreported national news stories-to-be? Election Fraud? 911 Truth?
Corporate corruption on a grand scale? International drug trafficking
by our country’s own intelligence agencies?

“This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even
inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined
to use it to those ends,” Murrow concluded in 1958. “Otherwise it is
merely wires and lights in a box. There is a great and perhaps decisive
battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference.
This weapon of television could be useful.”

Prophetic words. And ones that, I fear, will never be completely
realized as long as the television medium, in the main, is owned and
operated by our society’s richest and most powerful players.

BACKGROUND: Essay by Bill McKibben backgrounds Images showing of "Wal-Mart" movie

Greylock region movie-goers planning to attend screenings in the next few
days of the new film about Wal-Mart might find an essay by famous
environmental writer Bill McKibben (who lives in Vermont) of interest. It
is reprinted below by permission.

Expected screening dates at Images:

Thurs 11/17 at 4:30 (with Students for Social Justice at Williams, they
will provide the dvd for this screening)

Fri 11/18 at 2:30 p.m.

Mon 11/21 at 5 p.m.

Background: Global retailer Wal-Mart corporation is the single most
profitable business in the world. Five members of the Walton family are
listed among this year's ten richest Americans. But what are the
economic, social, and political trade-offs that accompany doing
business with the planet's largest retailer? Independent film director
Robert Greenwald (who gave us "Uncovered" and "Outfoxed") explores life
behind the scenes at Wal-Mart in an effort to reveal the "high cost of
low price."

Excerpt from "Wal-Mart: What's A Bargain Worth?"

By Bill McKibben

First printed in the April 2005 issue of Vermont Commons
( (Permission to re-print granted, provided
previous sentence and web site are included).

To read or access the whole article, please visit:

Wal-Mart: What’s a Bargain Worth?

By Bill McKibben

Let us begin by treating Wal-Mart with utter respect, by giving credit
where it is due. In the course of a few decades it has become the
mightiest retailer the world has ever seen. In 2002 it sold $224
billion worth of goods. It is bigger than Target, Sears, J.C. Penney,
Safeway, and Kroger combined. It sells more toys, more furniture, more
jewelry, more dog food, more flowers, more film, more aspirin than
anyone in the world. Were it a country, Wal-Mart’s economy would be the
seventeenth or eighteenth largest in the world—larger than Saudi

And it opens a new store every forty-two hours. It is very eager to
open a slew of them in Vermont, currently one of the least Wal-Marted
states in the Union. From St. Albans to Bennington, Wal-Mart has its
unblinking eye firmly fixed on our state.

The story of its growth is simple. It has achieved its position through
one cardinal virtue: Lowest Prices Always. And it has done that in turn
by becoming almost unbelievably efficient. It is the acme, the epitome,
the zenith of efficiency, unlike anything humans have previously
witnessed. If it is successful, there is no question that it will bring
Vermonters lower prices. There is no question that it will save us some
money at the cash register. How much? The only estimate I’ve seen comes
from a UVM economist and Wal-Mart enthusiast named Art Woolf who
calculated that it might be as much as $36 million annually. I think
that’s a gross overestimate, but let’s take it as gospel truth. That
works out to $58.14 apiece.

So the question becomes: is it worth it? What are the costs of going
ahead and trying to grab that $58.14?

I’m going to describe what I see as the costs across several different
categories. Some will seem far away, others are much more obviously
close to home. All reflect Wal-Mart’s enormous efficiency and scale—a
scale that so dwarfs the small size of our state that it becomes a
central, overwhelming fact. Any of the Big Box stores are out of scale
with Vermont; a K-Mart or Costco would be no better. But it’s Wal-Mart
that has announced its plans, so it can serve as a useful reference

Let’s begin by talking about jobs. For a while, in its early years,
Wal-Mart prided itself on being a Buy American store. That is a boast
it no longer makes, because now it is just the opposite. Ten percent of
all American trade with China goes through Wal-Mart, for instance.
Indeed, the Princeton economist Paul Krugman explained recently how
crucial it has become in driving the transformation of the American
economy. “One of the things that limits or slows the growth of imports
is the cost of stabling connections and networks,” he wrote. “Wal-Mart,
though, is so big and centralized that it can all at once hook Chinese
and other suppliers into its digital system, so Wham, you have a large
switch to overseas sourcing in a period much quicker than under the old
rules of retailing.”

To imagine what that means to any Vermonter working in a manufacturing
industry, consider the example of, say, socks. Their production was
centered in the American south in recent years, but now those jobs have
all but disappeared. Carolina Mills, for instance, shrunk from
seventeen factories to seven in the last three years. Why? Because, in
the words of one company executive, the company couldn’t compete with
low-wage Chinese workers even “if we paid our workers nothing at all.”
The items we still make are vulnerable as well. Tombstones from China
are now undercutting the Barre product, even though that means shipping
chunks of rock halfway around the globe.

Read the rest of the article here:

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

FILM: Wal-Mart documentary at Images at 4:30 p.m. on Fri., Nov. 18

If you've been following news from alternative sources, you may know that the "progressive" filmmaker Robert Greenwald is just releasing a new documentary about Wal-Mart. But it isn't in main-stream movie theaters just yet.

In Williamstown, a "campus greens" club at Williams hopes to screen the film at 4:30 p.m., on Friday, Nov. 18, at Images Cinema.

A coalition of over 600 unions, churches, and small business groups are joining together to launch the the film.The MoveON.ORG political group is orchestrating a nationwide rollout in homes across American and Greenwald is selling the DVD online at his website, . The film is called: "Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Prices."

For those who want to see the film, here's a selection of links to articles about the film and about Wal-Mart. Most of them were posted on the website -- the non-profit news service spawned by the nation's alternative weeklies. See:

Then appended below is a brilliant review by Rob Williams, president of the Action Coalition for Media Education ( ) Rob lives in Vermont and is a professor of English and media studies at Champlain College.

Finally, I've included a few links to stories about Wal-Mart's reaction.


A Wal-Mart manager in Pensacola, Fla., ordered the daily paper in the city -- owned by Gannett Co. Inc., to either fire a columnist who wrote about the effect of Wal-Mart's low wages, or else remove its racks and papers from the store. (UPDATE: Wal-Mart later apologized and resumed carrying the paper).

Don Hazen, AlterNet
Robert Greenwald's upcoming documentary about Wal-Mart's predatory practices is part of an unprecedented progressive media campaign.

By Don Hazen, Editor AlterNet
In Round II in the battle to make Wal-Mart honest, progressive media gets into the act with a unique editorial collaboration.

By Joshua Holland, AlterNet
Robert Greenwald's documentary shines a light on who pays for Wal-Mart's cheap products from China: the workers who make them.

Kelly Hearn, AlterNet
A softer, gentler megacolossal? Wal-Mart would like you to think so.

Maria Luisa Tucker, AlterNet
Thousands of low-wage Wal-Mart workers are on public assistance. Many state lawmakers say it's time the
megastore was forced to provide affordable employee health insurance.

Terrence McNally, AlterNet
In his irreverent new book, journalist John Dicker reveals the super-high social costs of Wal-Mart's super-low prices.

Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive
After a Wal-Mart employee turned in a high school student's anti-Bush poster to the police, the Secret Service came calling.


The Wal-Mart website does not appear to acknowledge the existence of the
movie. But here's a link to its general PR site:



The Wal-Martization of America:
Uncovering the High Cost of Low Price

Reviewed by Rob Williams

As a history teacher for two decades now, the single best field trip I've ever taken with students involved a visit to a "local" Wal-Mart in Albuquerque, New Mexico. During the 1990s, when I lived and taught in the urban desert, the Duke City served as a prime example of urban sprawl run amuck, with box store chains routinely popping up on every corner like mushrooms after a late summer rain.

As part of our exploration of late 20th century globalization, my sophomores and I decided we'd take an official tour of Wal-Mart. We'd been reading essays fairly critical of the Bentonville-based company, so we decided we'd get the official Wal-Mart party line straight from the horse's mouth. After calling the store to set up a visit, we walked across the mesa to have a look inside the world’s largest corporation.

Suffice to say, our two-hour visit in Wal-Mart, escorted around by the store's friendly (and honest) manager, answered many of our questions, raised others, and, most importantly, opened our eyes to the realities of corporate retail in modern America. "Do all Wal-Mart employees really do a Wal-Mart cheer at the beginning of each work day?" asked one of my unbelieving students. "We do," one employee sheepishly admitted, and then proceeded to perform the rather embarrassing number with her fellow "associates." "You kids be sure to stay in school and finish your education," admonished another "associate" taking a brief break in the store lounge. "You don't want to end up working in retail like me."

Think of Robert Greenwald's powerful new film "Wal-Mart: The High Cost Of Low Price" as one giant field trip across the United States at a time when corporate multinational retail box store power dominates the landscape. Anyone with even a passing interest in matters economic knows a bit about Wal-Mart's rap sheet, as well as the lure of "low prices -- always." But Greenwald's film does an admirable job of both contextualizing and personalizing the wide variety of trade offs Americans have made in allowing Wal-Mart to own and operate the very fabric of our 21st-century economy.

The film is full of moments of heartache that resonate -- long-time family-owned and operated businesses driven into the ground by the aggressive Wal-Martization of Anywhere, USA. In one poignant scene at film's beginning, we see, in slow motion, a sepia-toned Stars and Stripes fluttering against Bruce Springsteen's haunting crooning of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land," sung over a depressing picture that is all too familiar: dilapidated and boarded-up down town Main Streets across America, driven out of business by the economic clout of giant corporate power, wielding more efficient economies of scale, as well as aggressive (and many would say ruthless and corrupt) business tactics.

In assembling his new film, Greenwald makes two shrewd tactical decisions that pay off in spades by film's end. The first involves his decision to give voice to the voice-less. Those familiar with Greenwald's previous films - "Uncovered: The Whole Truth About The Iraq War," for example - know of his interest in capturing powerful voices on camera, authority figures from inside the corridors of power who know how the System works and aren't afraid to speak honestly about abuse and injustice. Surprisingly, in "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price," the viewer doesn't encounter a single Ph.D.-sporting talking head.

Instead, Greenwald introduces us to ordinary Americans, struggling to make sense of a billion dollar multinational corporation that consistently says one thing and does another, displaying an arrogance and an eye-opening set of double-standards that could fill volumes. Many of these folks are dyed-in-the-whole small town conservatives, rock-ribbed Republicans (in the traditional sense of the term) who believe in the power of hard work, sacrifice, entrepreneurialism, and a sense of fair play that, once upon a time, made the U.S. economy the envy of the world. The film also interviews a number of former Wal-Mart employees, many of them upper level managers, who speak candidly about the corporation's deeply rooted sense of foul play, amoral behavior, and unethical business practices. Hearing their celluloid confessions is enough to make any CEO squirm.

Greenwald's second tactical decision in telling his story involves brilliant use of rhetorical jujitsu, as he leverages the multi-billion dollar juggernaut of Wal-Mart's advertising and public relations (PR) power against itself. We see, for example, Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott at a national company rally, claiming that his corporation provides well-paying jobs with retirement benefits and a host of other perks. Then we meet Wal-Mart workers who simply cannot make ends meet, no matter how hard they try, backed up by sobering statistics pointing out that, while CEO Scott pulled in a $27-million salary last year and the five members of the Walton family are worth more than $102 billion (with a "b," yes), the average full time Wal-Mart employee (FT defined as a mere 28 hours a week by Wal-Mart’s reckoning) earned under $14,000 during 2004.

In this way, Greenwald's new film is as much a study in the propagandistic power of corporate public relations and advertising as it is a meditation on Wal-Mart's deliberate bleeding of the U.S. economy to enrich the pockets of its shareholders. The shiny happy people featured in Wal-Mart advertisements, as well as the company's continued PR claims of corporate responsibility ("We at Wal-Mart take an active interest in conserving the environment!"), simply doesn't match the frustrating reality of their corporate behavior. Even the largely toothless Environmental Protection Agency, for example, a federal regulatory outfit that sometimes seems to exist simply to provide permits for giant corporate polluters, has managed to prosecute Wal-Mart for Clean Air Act violations in nine states, due to the company's stubborn insistence on storing lawn fertilizer and other toxic chemicals in parking lots located near local watershed areas.

Greenwald even takes us to Wal-Mart's global factories in China, Honduras, and Bangladesh, where Wal-Mart workers put in 14 hour days 7 days a week and brush their teeth with fireplace ashes because their salaries don't allow them to buy tooth paste. Implicitly in this global tour is the fact that, while wrapping itself in the American flag and a shallow sham version of patriotism, Wal-Mart cares very little for the health and well being of its workers, the environment, or the health of the U.S. economy as a whole, beyond the short-term dollar value it can extract to increase its profit margin.

While all of this is deeply sobering, Greenwald wisely chooses to end the film on a powerful high note, spotlighting and interviewing several citizen/activists -- normal people just like you and me -- who have chosen to organize their communities to oppose Wal-Mart's predatory behavior and fight for more just and sustainable local economies.

And that hope is this filmic field trip's ultimate message. Don't believe Wal-Mart's hype. Educate others. Speak out. Organize. As consumers, as workers, as citizens, as elected officials, all of us make daily decisions that perpetuate or undermine Wal-Mart's (and other large multinational corporations) existence in our communities.

Let us choose wisely. Our economic future is at stake.

Contact Mad River Valley historian, media educator, and musician Rob
Williams at .

ARTS: Mount Greylock students present Shakespeare's "Much Ado" on Thursday and Friday

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Deb Burns writes:

Just a reminder that Mt. Greylock Regional High School will present Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing this Wed. and Thurs. evenings at 7 p.m., part of the Fall Festival of Shakespeare .

This is Shakespeare's most accessible and modern romantic comedy. There are two parallel plots. Benedick and Beatrice are constantly bickering until their friends trick them into falling in love. Hero and Claudio, meanwhile, seem like the perfect couple until a villainous type conspires to break them up. To add a bit of hilarity, there's a bumbling constable called Dogberry who has many malapropisms and pratfalls but manages to come out on top, with the help of his merry crew. This play has pranks, jests, mistaken identities, and perhaps even a tango. Will there be a happy ending? Come and find out!

The Fall Festival of Shakespeare, which is taking place all over Berkshire County this month, has won some of the highest arts awards given by our nation and state. Shakespeare plays are understandable and exuberant when teenagers perform them.
Tickets are $5 for students, $8 for adults.

(This play, and the other nine plays in the festival, will be repeated at Founder's Theatre in Lenox between Nov. 17 and 20, if that's more convenient.)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

IDEAS: Molly Ivins -- What is your suggestion for America's priorities?


Subject: AlterNet: Getting Out Of Our Pickle

By Molly Ivins, AlterNet. Posted November 2, 2005.

Instead of dwelling on the ever-increasing failings of the only president we've got, let's see if we can figure out how
to get out of the mess we're in.

Leap I lightly, with the grace of a gazelle, over such mundane news items as indictments at the White House and Supreme
Court nominations. All the better to continue my crusade to focus attention not on what's wrong, but on how to fix it.

Forget, for a carefree and frivolous moment, the manifold failings of the only president we've got. Instead, let's see if
we can figure out how to get out of this pickle. More than one pickle, I grant you -- this administration is a pickle
factory. Thinking helmets on, team.

Before we even begin with some useful lists of, "Let's stop doing this and try doing that, instead," we should salute the
Values Crowd with the sincerest form of flattery. I suppose we could have a giant Values Debate, with Bill Bennett on one
side and Bill Moyers on the other, but even values have fallen into the partisan pit these days. We need to go at our
problems in some way that doesn't immediately set hackles up so that the only point of the exercise becomes to beat the
other side.

How about, instead of a Contract With America, we see if we can get some agreement on what kind of country we would like
to see America become.

Here's a starter: I would like America to be a country where we spend more money on educating people than we do on the

On a panel in New Haven, Conn., the other night, Ray Suarez of PBS answered the "How do we fix it?" question with the
proposal that we make K-12 our top priority. He suggests this would have so many unexpected side effects -- ranging from
science to race relations -- it would effectively be a revolution.

I'm not asking you to endorse that idea, but do consider the astonishing magnitude of such a shift. It's difficult to get
a compete grasp on how much we spend on the military, since not all of it is under the Department of Defense. The
Department of Homeland Security, for example, pays for much of the "war on terror." But basically, the Pentagon is now
getting about $500 billion a year, or 52 percent of the discretionary federal budget -- according to the Center for
Budget Priorities.

("Discretionary" basically means what Congress and the president have any say over. The rest of the budget goes to stuff
we have already committed to and can't get out of, like paying interest on the national debt.)

Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, whose purpose is to educate the public on how the federal government spends our
money and what priorities are, suggests cutting 15 percent from the military budget and redirecting it. The Center for
Arms Control and Non-Proliferation says we now spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined spends on
theirs. There is no country that could conceivably defeat us militarily, though we certainly do manage to get ourselves
stuck in some unpleasant places. Anyone who has watched the poor National Guard getting called back to Iraq again and
again can figure out quite a bit of this money is not being well spent.

Just for starters, is there anyone -- anyone -- who thinks we need more than 1,000 nuclear warheads in order to have a
credible nuclear deterrent at this time? By cutting back to 1,000, we can save $13 billion right there.

Another $26 billion would be saved by scaling back or stopping the research, development and construction of weapons that
are useless to deal with modern threats. Many of the weapons involved, like the F/A-22 fighter jet and the Virginia Class
submarine, were designed to fight the defunct Soviet Union. All of this is according to Lawrence Korb, whose credentials
are endless -- senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, senior adviser to the Center for Defense Information,
former vice president of Raytheon, etc. The $26 billion does not include the old Star Wars program, now called missile
defense, which could be cut back to basic research for a savings of $7 billion.

I'm trying to give you some sense of scale here. According to Korb's research, we could take $60 billion out of the
defense budget, 15 percent of the total, without remotely affecting military readiness. Any think tank, left or right,
can come up with a similar scenario for cutting military spending without harm to security -- the details may differ, but
you will find a surprising degree of overlap, as well.

OK, so we could shift $60 billion into education without even breathing hard. Then, how would we continue toward of a
goal of putting more into education than on stuff to kill people? For starters, we could try having fewer enemies in the
world. Then we wouldn't need so many ways to kill them, eh? And how do we get there?

Nothing simple about this effort -- anyone who thinks international relations and diplomacy are simple, straightforward
subjects has not been paying attention. This how-do-we-fix-it series is a conversation, not a lecture, and all
suggestions are welcome. You can e-mail your suggestions to me at

Molly Ivins writes about politics, Texas and other bizarre happenings.


agitator church and state
Posted by: eileenflmng on Nov 2, 2005 5:25 AM [Report this comment]
Over 40 years ago, Rev. MLK warrned:
ÿÿAny nation that year after year continues to raise the Defense budget while cutting social programs to the neediest is a
nation approaching spiritual death.ÿÿ
In his farewell address, Eisenhower warned us NOT to tie the USA economy to the Defense Industry.
'We the People' ignored them both.
USA public school's today no longer EDUCATE our young, they TRAIN them how to take tests:
which trains them to be 'good soldiers'; ones who don't ask questions and don't think creatively.
WE THE PEOPLE are the government and we the people are the only ones who can fix the mess we now have.
What we need is some creative non-violent anarchy for the old ways do not serve the people and we the people "have it in
our power to change the world"-Tom Paine

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]
Corporate power
Posted by: setterwoman on Nov 2, 2005 5:28 AM [Report this comment]
I think we need to get back the regulations on corporations that existed pre-Reagan era. No one has equal rights in a
society controlled by corporations. Nor can we have sound environmental policies or sound health care when so much is
controlled by chemical and drug manufacturers.
We also need to fund political campaigns from the federal budget with each candidate getting an equal amount. Campaigning
doesn't need to begin until 4-5 months before the election. All candidates need to be included in any debates.

Not Too Little, Too Late to Begin
Posted by: LJAllen on Nov 2, 2005 5:41 AM [Report this comment]
I heartily agree with Pepper regarding the size and complexity of this country's problems. And as a Black woman and
History graduate student--and descendant of four generations of educators--I understand and applaud the poignant and
accurate assessment of education. Yet....
As we contemplate the enormity of this nation's problems, we cannot afford cynicism precisely because it offers no
solution and it stymies even the smallest attempts at making a beginning. The key is "to begin."
Demanding cuts in military budgets and advocating increased funding for K-12 will not cut the cost of heating oil,
gasoline, or raise our President's Grade Point Average. But increasing funding of K-12 is at least a start--no matter how
meager--at insuring that at least a segment of our future population may not grow into adults who are as ineffective and
bewildered as many of us are right now.
It is easy and understandable to feel a sense of hopelessness in light of what confronts us. It is far more difficult,
however, to take one small step, the results of which we may not reap the full benefits of. Yet we must begin, somewhere.
L J Allen

Just Imagine...
Posted by: Rod in 83706 on Nov 2, 2005 5:57 AM [Report this comment]
Cutting $60 billion from the defense budget without affecting readiness sounds reasonable. But imagine how much we could
cut the defense budget if we had a rational foreign policy that resulted in fewer enemies. How about choosing neutrality
in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? How about bringing our troops home from Saudi Arabia and every other country where
they are stationed? How about using our foreign aid dollars at home instead of filling the Swiss bank accounts of petty
dictators all over the world? How about closing our embassies in most of the podunk, crap-hole countries that hate us
It all starts with rational thinking, which seems to be non-existant inside the beltway.

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

New thinking
Posted by: Lincoln fan on Nov 2, 2005 6:31 AM [Report this comment]
Molly is right on. We need a new idea. How about a bi-partisan effort, I know that this will not sit well with some
people of both parties. There are bitter feelings on both sides. But each of us has issues that are important to us.
Let's get Democrats and Republicans that support the same issues together. Instead of voting for the party that is not as
bad as the other, make the parties try to be better than each other. It can be done, and done before the 2006 election.
Many people want a violent solution or a complicated solution that involves strikes, protest marches, rallies, and
brilliant leaders. None of this is necessary. My idea is not complicated, difficult, nor time-consuming. Go to my
web-site and join the movement. There are no dues, no contributions, no leaders, no passwords and no registration. In a
nutshell the idea is (1) write four letters. (sample two sentence letter provided) One to each of the parties' national
campaign headquarters (addresses provided) and one to each parties' state campaign headquarters. (link to addresses
provided). (2) E-mail the idea to your friends and, if you want to, spread the word in other ways. Visit the website.
You've nothing to lose. a new idea

One small step
Posted by: LPB on Nov 2, 2005 7:00 AM [Report this comment]
Thank you, Molly, for beginning this constructive talk. We badly need to come up with a plan. It seems more and more of
us are seeing that our system is greatly flawed and we desperately need solutions. I believe education is the first step,
although right now it might seem like a small one. Spending more money on education and less on the military would show
where our true priorities lie, and in the current "pro-life" environment of our society it seems an obvious choice to
value life more than death.
But we must also question how we are educating our children. Back to the basics has been our national educational policy
for some years and that is all well and good; kids need a solid academic foundation. But we must also expose our children
to higher concepts and ideals. People need to learn discernment and critical thinking in order to make good, informed
decisions. Our children are being taught just the opposite: unquestioning, unthinking compliance. They should also be
exposed to the arts, to music, drama, philosophy, creative expression, and appreciation for beauty. These things help us
to see the beauty in our world and to value it, and each other, more highly. In our current social climate, we have
obliterated many of these things from our public educational system so that only those who can afford to pay for it
themselves have any meaningful exposure to these things. Practical academics are a vital foundation, but allowing our
kids to experience the beauty we are capable of creating develops their hearts and souls and we need that too.
We must also stop confering rights and privileges without responsibilities. We expect a lot of responsible behavior in
our everyday lives. For example, if we want the privilege of being allowed to use the public roads, we must accept the
responsibility of driving safely and following the rules of the road. But it seems that we are allowing corporations to
have the privileges of individuals without requiring them to accept the accompanying responsibilities.
We have taken years to arrive at the place we are in now, and it will take years to effect any great changes. We may not
see the results of any actions we take for many years to come, but if we start now with our children they may very well
reap the benefits of actions we take now. Molly's suggestion may seem to many like only one small step, but it's a small
step in the right direction.

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

Choosing action by our vision instead of by our problems
Posted by: bgorzinski on Nov 2, 2005 7:13 AM [Report this comment]
It seems to me that Molly's point is that if we start prioritizing by our dream of what we want our nation to become,
we'll get away from all the crisis management that makes us freak out and attack one another. We've prioritized military
in response to immediate (and I think misperceived) threats--not even by a dream of being the biggest, baddest military
power on the face of the earth. But if we prioritize education out of the dream of being the smartest, most savvy font of
wisdom and knowledge on the face of the earth, won't we be better for following our dreams? If people disagree that
education is the place to start, isn't it heartening to learn that a big chunk of change could come out of our military
budget, as Molly says "without breathing hard"? Why do people decry her suggestion for not solving our problems now? Are
we so radical or reactionary that we want to blow up the bus station rather than change the routes a little bit to fit
our needs? I'm not a big Bush fan but I buy into all the rhetoric about the wisdom and greatness of the American people
and I think we could do better if we choose to settle down and think with a bigger vision for ourselves.

Molly's thought continued a bit further...
Posted by: John Rice on Nov 2, 2005 7:27 AM [Report this comment]
Molly writes "How about, instead of a Contract With America, we see if we can get some agreement on what kind of country
we would like to see America become." We love where you are going with that, because it leads directly to the Neither
Party (at Sort of, that is.....
We call it "Transcending Politics" because rather than focusing upon the differences dividing people, we focus on what
unites people while healing old wounds and making the body politic stronger. We focus on what our citizens need, to fully
participate in the transition of our governance toward one truly by, of and for the people and away from the special
interests now in control.
The mechanism for achieving that is a now-evolving (wiki-styled) "Contract for America", whereby all running for office
from all parties, agree to conduct themselves based upon these commonly-held and pledged for precepts, or the NP would
guarantee they face an opponent who would. And I hate to disagree with you Molly (and rarely do) it is as simple as that.
Funded with only private donations, the support suggested amounts to only "A Dime a Day for Democracy" (less than a cup
of coffee per week) or$36.50 per year. With the support of only a fifteenth of our population, we could force a change in
our governance with 700 million dollars per year. If those funds were focused toward those individuals supporting this
pledge, real changes can be made faster than most can imagine.
This movement, still in its fledgling stage, is growing slowly, but surely. Our platform issues are maturing as well.
More people are joining our efforts to not simply reform, but to transform America into a nation we can be proud of and
the world once again can admire. Soon we will fly.
We need no congressional powers to do so, and we need no support from the special interests. We need a mandate by the
people, never achievable before in this de facto duopoly--we need the Neither Party.
Molly, this is not an incredibly huge undertaking given modern-day technologies and especially the internet.
It is underway, it is the future American way, and it is an empowering movement awaiting your support.
If change is needed in the near future, it is the only comprehensive plan known to me to put forth not only the
what-to-do, but the how-to-do it, too.
Come on Molly (and other thoughtful readers) if not, why not?
John Rice

k [« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

» RE: Molly's thought continued a bit further... Posted by: Lincoln fan

» A New Idea Posted by: BlueTigress

» RE: A New Idea Posted by: jwg

While we're at it, let's fix our energy woes, too.
Posted by: monkeywrench on Nov 2, 2005 7:37 AM [Report this comment]
We could also take some of the money saved by emptying our military's pork barrel and put it to use developing REAL
technologies to replace oil and coal as our primary energy sources (like using the Earth's own internal heat to generate
power). That way, we could ameliorate the effects of global warming, help insure energy independence, and...hold on
now... actually create new industries and JOBS! America could become an exporter of something, energy technology, for a
change, giving us a chance, after the effects of a better educational system kick in, of becoming something more than the
credit-card wielding, rapacious consumer culture that we are today.

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

» RE: While we're at it, let's fix our energy woes, too. Posted by: barogw

The first step
Posted by: jazzyjer on Nov 2, 2005 7:57 AM [Report this comment]
The fact remains, as Cyclone said, nothing much matters unless the Bush-Cheney hydra is slain. People power could do
this, as in Ukraine, Georgia, the Philippines.
We need a couple of million people to march on Washington, surround the White House, and holler "Bush must go" for as
long as it takes.
I call this the Blue Revolution. It can't happen overnight, but someone with connections needs to start working on this.
The current administration simply is deaf to words it does not generate. Civil disobedience is the only answer.

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »]

» RE: The first step Posted by: Lincoln fan

» jazzyjer that civil disobedience thing...I'm up for that! Posted by: Michiganman

What we need is a new K-12 plan
Posted by: fairygirl on Nov 2, 2005 8:00 AM [Report this comment]
Perhaps what was learned during the Johnson administration about money and public schools was that throwing money at the
system without a plan didn't necessarily fix the system. As a former educator (both in public school and for non-profit
arts), I can honestly say that while the public schools are in desperate need of money, they also need a realistic plan.
No Child Left Behind (or as I call it Every Child Left Behind) is a joke. As Americans, we need to decide that K-12
education is our top most priority. There are pockets in this country where this is happening but quite often it is
outside the box schools.
In my community we have a charter school that has adopted a more "European" style of education (grades 6 - 12) with 6th
grade students taking Latin, Physics, Chemistry and Biology in addition to English, Math, Social Studies, Art, Music and
P.E. In 7th grade they take either French or Spanish for a minimum of 2 years, Public Speaking and elective possibilities
that include Drama, P.E., Art and Music. In 8th grade, they take Economics and by high school, they are taking A.P.
courses in their main subjects. And because this is a charter school (gets the same funding from the state as public
schools), there is no tuition to attend. A minimal book deposit (usually around $70) is requested at the beginning of the
6th grade year and carries throughout the child's attendance at the school. Drawbacks are no bus transportation to or
from the school and parents must provide lunches (no meal program at the school). Upside along with the curriculum is
that there are only 350 students at the school.

A teachable moment
Posted by: Sojourner on Nov 2, 2005 9:01 AM [Report this comment]
Yes, the neo-cons are out to destroy public education. And charter schools are not necessarily a threat to public
education. And, yes, we now have what is called a "teachable moment."
Nothing would better begin the repair of the damage done since Reagan (not to mention Nixon) than to put some substance
behind the politician's hue and cry about education first. 'First' so far has meant way down the list in my state,
California. My city, Long Beach, at the top of the list nationally for children living in poverty, is doing some
courageous work in education.
The city is still run by the right-winger nativists who got here first and therefore own everything. But the momentum for
change is happening and nowhere more so than in the schools. If we can educate a generation of minority kids (and truth
is they don't yet believe in education, so it's a struggle) it will be a major advance.
Immigration both from Mexico and from the African American ghettos has integrated the community and the school system, as
was imagined by Brown vs. Board of Education. Results show that it can be made to work. So, as Molly says, don't give up!
We just have more work to do. Two steps forward for each one back.

K-12 Funding?
Posted by: mikewiz50 on Nov 2, 2005 11:46 AM [Report this comment]
Molly's proposal that K-12 receive top fiscal priority, though good in itself, is not completely right and just. The
absolute top priority, in my humble opinion, must be to provide every homeless person in this nation with a place to
live. That tens of millions are on the streets or living in cars is diabolical and the ultimate shame of this, the most
wealthy nation on earth. Second would be to provide meaningful work at a just and liveable wage to all who are able and
willing. Education would then follow.
Mike Wisniewski
Los Angeles, CA

education as a priority
Posted by: sdonaldson on Nov 2, 2005 1:02 PM [Report this comment]
Supporting Ivins's suggestion is this admittedly small datum: Every year for about the last 15 years the Olympia, WA,
Fellowship of Reconciliation has had a table at the Thurston County Fair with copies of the War Resisters League's annual
analysis of the federal budget, showing how much goes for military expenditures, current and past (retirements, etc.),
and how much for other needs. (Is that the word I want? Is the military really a need? When Iceland and Costa Rica--and
maybe other countries, too--have no military at all?) At any rate, in addition, passersby who stop to read and chat are
given 10 pennies to divide up into 10 budget categories: the military, health care, the arts, agriculture, education,
housing, etc., however they choose. *Every* year, education gets the most pennies; every year, the military gets the
least. Of course, the outcome is partly the result of the interests of the sorts of people who would stop at a
peace-and-justice table in the first place; but still it says something strong that education consistently is where this
segment of the overall population would put their tax money--if they could.
And why can't we choose what is done with our tax money--which, after all, *is* *our* tax money?
This seemingly radical notion I first heard from David Eisenman, back when I was a member of McKinley Memorial
Presbyterian Church in Champaign, IL, in the 1970s, where David was an active member. He envisioned a fairly simple set
of boxes to be printed on individual tax forms, listing the cabinet areas, which could then be checked by the individual
taxpayers as a part of submitting their forms--from which the federal budget for the next year could be planned.
Not really so radical, certainly not very difficult, and certainly also very democratic.

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Talking to the other side
Posted by: BKLN on Nov 2, 2005 1:18 PM [Report this comment]
I really really believe that our first fixit item is how to deal with the growing and deadly rift in our country and the
breakdown in the American community and American dialogue. I first posted this upthread, but wanted to put it out in its
own post.

Posted by: aedwards on Nov 3, 2005 12:39 PM [Report this comment]
Instead of shifting that $60 billion you were talking about to a government run education system how about getting rid of
the government run education system all together and using the money to help familie pay for thier children to go to
private schools. Not only would the education improve significately but parents would have a lot more control over the
education system. The wages of teachers would go up a great deal and the education system would be run a lot more
efficientlly then it is now.
The government is corrupt, we know this. Why would you let a corrupt government control the education of you child?
Of course this is just one idea. Any other suggestions would be appreciated.

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Posted by: aedwards on Nov 3, 2005 12:42 PM [Report this comment]
The force is strong in you young padowan, but you must take precautions against the dark side.

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