Net Neutrality PDF Print E-mail

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Open Internet Protections


Internet freedom is under attack. Verizon is using every trick in the book -- spending lots of money to elect friendly legislators, lobbying all over Washington, and bringing questionable lawsuits -- to challenge common sense open Internet "net neutrality" protections.

What's at stake? Open Internet rules prevent Internet service providers like Verizon from slowing down access to competitor sites. Without these rules, your cell phone company could block your favorite apps or hit you with a surcharge if you try to use them . . .  And if Verizon wins, it also could charge customers special fees just to access popular sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Learn about Verizon’s agenda and what you can do to stop it in Common Causes's new online comic, "Big Deal, Big Money:"

internet access




Why American Health Care Costs Are So High PDF Print E-mail


Steve Brill's 26,000-Word Health-Care Story in One Sentence


Sarah Kliff, Washington Post


What is the sentence?  Sarah Kliff states that Steven Brill's well documented April 2013 article in Time can be condensed to "The American health-care system does not use rate setting."  Other countries set rates for what hospitals, clinics, and doctors can charge for procedures.   The Affordable Care Act lowers health care costs by emphasizing preventive care, but it is limited in how much it can reign in health care costs because it doesn't set rates.  As our nation moves toward assuring everyone has health care, a concern with costs is likely to follow. 

Read Sarah Kliff's article.




Ending Price Gouging:  Brill's Time Article and
the Next Chapter in Health Reform

Diane Archer, Huffington Post

steven-brillIn his carefully documented article in the April 2013 Times , Steven Brill makes clear that there is no free market in health care.  Brill points out that "competition" cannot fix the unsustainable rise in health care prices because  there simply is no meaningful competition. Few people understand what medical products or procedures actually cost.  This explains why developed countries that limit health care prices have per capita health care costs that are so much lower.  To a limited extent, Congress allows Medicare to set doctor and hospital rates and this has resulted in slower health care cost increases for Medicare patients.

Deficit hawks' concerns about the deficit, together with their opposition to government regulation and misplaced faith in the free market to bring down health care costs, hide their true agenda - protecting and increasing corporate profits.  Brill points out that the market is under the control of monopolistic players protecting their profits.

Read Diane Archer's article.





Affordable Care Act has unique proving ground in Minnesota PDF Print E-mail


mnsure - choosing health insAccording to Catharine Richert of Minnesota Public Radio, Minnesota is the only state that will implement the "big three" components of health insurance expansion:  1) An expanded Medicaid program,  2) An online insurance marketplace, and 3) A basic health program. 

It's the third component that makes Minnesota unique. Only Minnesota has committed to offering a basic health program, which serves as a safety net for people who have too much income to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private insurance. It is based on an expansion of Minnesota Care, the state's long-standing subsidized insurance program. Both the amount of care covered and the number of people covered will expand.  The new basic health insurance program will not have a cap of $10,000 on the amount of care that can be received as there is for the current program.  In addition to the 35,000 Minnesotans currently enrolled in Minnesota Care, 112,000 more Minnesotans are expected to enroll in 2014 and in later years a total of 160,000 more.

Read the full article.

Listen to the 4 1/2 minute audio interview:

MPR's Catharine Richert discusses Minnesota's implementation of the Affordable Care Act





Last Hours - Thom Hartmann PDF Print E-mail


Industrial Civilization has Potential

to Trigger Mass Extinction


Sent by George Matkovits


The 10 minute film "Last Hours" is designed to awaken people to the fact that industrial civilization with its production of greenhouse gases has the ability to trigger a mass extinction which could threaten not just human civilization, but the very existence of human life on this planet.

Burning fossil fuels releases carbon that heats the atmosphere and the seas through the greenhouse gas effect. This is happening most rapidly at the polar extremes.  Methane is already being released from deposits beneath melting arctic ice, from the warming northern-hemisphere tundra, and from worldwide continental-shelf undersea methane frozen in water called methane hydrate.


2013 arctic methane releases


If we fail to significantly reduce the use of carbon-based fossil fuels, this freed methane threatens to greatly increase the speed of global warming, potentially producing a disaster beyond the ability of the human species to adapt.


methane release

View "Last Hours" presented and narrated by Thom Hartmann.




Americans' Real, Perceived, and Actual Distribution of Wealth PDF Print E-mail


Americans, both Republicans and Democrats, want a more equal distribution of wealth in the United States, but few realize just how huge the wealth gap is.  Watch this excellent six and a half minute video explaining the wealth gap in the United States.





The Bailouts Taxpayers Seldom Ever Notice, Sam Pizzigati PDF Print E-mail


Peter DruckerAll across Corporate America, top executives are accumulating vast wealth while employees lose their jobs, have their wages reduced, and lose their benefits.  Peter Drucker, the Austrian born American who founded modern management science, considered excessive executive pay an assault on the good management of enterprise. 

Ford employees have seen their pay decline from $28 an hour to $19 along with giving up cost of living increases and health benefits.  Though the decline in compensation is considered absolutely necessary for Ford employees, CEO Alan Mulally apparently does not think such an emphasis on austerity applies to his own compensation.  His pay package alone for 2012 was $21 million.  In addition, in 6 years, he has amassed $300 million in Ford stock.

Such excessive executive pay made possible by decline in the financial well being of workers is not tolerated in other countries.  The financial compensation of Toyota CEO, Akio Toyoda, in comparison, was $1.48 million.  In France, the newly elected government of President François Hollande placed a cap equivalent to about $580,000 on executive pay at the 52 companies where the French government holds a majority stake.  This is about 20 times the average pay of French workers at the lowest 10% of wages.  A whopping 83 percent of the French public supported limiting maximum pay for all CEO's.  Peter Drucker himself recommended that executive pay be no more than 20 to 25 that of workers.

See the article by Sam Pizzigati:  "The Bailouts Taxpayers Seldom Ever Notice."

Sam Pizzigati edits Too Much, the online weekly on excess and inequality published by the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Policy Studies. His latest book, The Rich Don’t Always Win: The Forgotten Triumph over Plutocracy that Created the American Middle Class, 1900-1970, has just been published.





Diner Waittress Explains to Yale Graduate How Money Works in America PDF Print E-mail


The “working poor” ... are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor, to everyone else.

Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

waitress explains how money works in america
What Germany Can Teach Americans about Transforming our Energy Systems PDF Print E-mail
Solar Energy


How a Country With One of the World's

Largest Economies Is Ditching Fossil Fuels

wind turbine field


Tara DePorte writes that the German energy transformation called "Energiewende" has all the signs of a modern miracle:  a commitment from all political parties, from the most conservative to the most liberal, to shift the world's fourth largest economy to 80% renewable energy by 2050.  While Germany has nowhere near the wind and solar resources of Minnesota, it expects to reach 35% renewable power by 2020 and could reach 40%.

Germans who install solar panels can sell surplus power back into the power grid at a rate guaranteed for 20 years.  This guaranteed payment, called a "feed in tariff" engages the German public in the transition to clean energy, while creating a more decentralized system of energy production and increasing the energy independence of Germany.   While the U.S. media continues to ignore climate science consensus and debates the existence of manmade climate change, the German media and public are on the road to energy independence and rapidly cutting their climate impacts. Find out what has enabled Germany to make remarkable progress on transitioning to a clean energy economy in these two articles:

"How a Country with One of the World's Largest Economies is Ditching Fossil Fuels"

"What Germany Can Teach Americans about Transforming our Energy Systems"

To learn how Germany has made this remarkable progress toward clean energy, and how Minnesota could too, read Clean Break by Journalist Osha Gray Davidson.  Clean Break is the story of how German citizens led the transition to clean energy from the bottom up and democratized the electric system in the process.  65% of Germany's renewable energy is owned by individuals, cooperatives, or communities.  Download this inspiring story for $1.


Tavis Smiley Interview on What Has Happened and Not Happened since the March on Washington PDF Print E-mail

On the 50th Anniversary of the historic March on Washington, Tavis Smiley interviewed Dr. Algernon Austin,   Director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy, which works to advance policies that enable people of color to participate fully in the American economy and benefit equitably from gains in prosperity.  Austin is the author of the EPI report, "The Unfinished March," that looks at changes over the 50 years since the March on Washington.

tavis smiley  augernon austin 2 82713
During the interview, Dr. Austin discusses low wages, the high unemployment level of blacks, segregated and unequal schools, and residential segregation.  He stated,

"Today, the minimum wage is actually worth less than it was in 1963 in inflation-adjusted terms. Although minimum wage workers are better educated, they’re more productive, as a society we’re much wealthier than we were in 1963, but the fact of the matter is we have allowed the real value of the minimum wage to erode and that means that many workers, low-wage workers, can’t earn enough to lift their families out of poverty."

Watch the interview





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Achievement Gap Committee
Early Childhood Education Forums

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Governor Dayton has proposed new funding for early child care and education in his budget.  To inform the public, the Achievement Gap Committee organized forums to highlight current research and practice around early care and education, particularly as it relates to closing the achievement gap.  Use the links below to watch the videos of these forums.


Forum 1: Exploring “Quality” Care: What does quality look like, is it the same across cultures, and do state investments in quality have a long-term benefit or fade out with time?

teacher with children
Rob Grunewald, associate economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Focusing on “fade out”: Do early childhood investments have long-term benefits, and if so, how?

Kathryn Tout, co-director, early childhood research, Child Trends: What have we learned
about quality early care from MN research and pilot programs, and how do we take quality to scale?

Betty Emarita, founder/president, Development and Training Resources: Does quality early care look the same across cultures, and what do we know about cultural best practices?

See John Risken's Video for the first forum

Forum 2: What is Minnesota’s plan for increasing access to quality early childhood education, and how is it working in communities of color?

earlychld blocks
Karen Cadigan, Director of the Office of Early Learning: How does Parent Aware improve early education programs’ quality, family support, K-12 alignment, and accountability?

Bao Vang, Community Outreach and Quality Coach with Think Small: Is Parent Aware meeting the needs of new immigrant families and those who are English Language Learners?

Barb Fabre, Director of Child Care and Early Childhood Programs, White Earth Reservation: Does Parent Aware work for Native American families?

See the article about the second forum:  "Early childhood education:  What does culture have to do with it?"


See the video:  MN's Plan for Increasing Access to Early Childhood Education



For background on the huge benefits of quality early childhood education for the public, families, and the lifelong development of the children who receive it, see the 30 minute Real Progress TV interview with Art Rolnick, U of M Humphrey School Fellow and former Federal Reserve Economist.

The Achievement Gap Committee sponsors monthly forums with experts on education and ways to close the achievement gap.  It was started six years ago by former Mayor of Minneapolis and U.S. Congressman Don Fraser in response to Minnesota's having one of the highest achievement gaps in the U.S.  The
Convenors are Don Fraser and Grant Abbott





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MN's Leading Election System

With Secretary of State Steve Simon


steve simon


Listen to Secretary of State Steve Simon's excellent presentation on MN's outstanding election system emulated by many other states at the Think Again Brooklyns forum January 19, 2016.  Secretary Simon includes ways in which it can be improved, and he explains why it is important to vote.  He concludes with a quote from a tee shirt:  "Failure to vote is not an act of rebellion.  It is an act of surrender."

Get details on how to vote at

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How Oregon Became the Easiest Place to Vote in the US

By Lornet Turnbull
YES! Magazine
October 8, 2016


In January, Oregon became the first state in the country to begin automatically registering eligible citizens to vote when they obtain or renew their driver's licenses or state IDs, completely shifting the burden of voter registration from the individual to the government. 

Read the Article

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