Endorsement of Katrina Shankland

We, the executive committee and membership of the Stevens Point Area Green Party, are formally endorsing Representative Katrina Shankland in the upcoming November 6th election.  Greens do not typically endorse Democrats, however, we feel it is important in the current political climate to sow the seeds of solidarity whenever possible. Though our political goals do not always align there is enough overlap in our platform with the Portage County Democratic Party to see in Katrina a ready and steadfast ally.  We recognize Katrina as someone who takes seriously what an “elected representative” is and is supposed to do.

Katrina has been a strong ally on many of the issues we care about from expanding public transit, to limiting high capacity wells, protecting wetlands, advocating for expanded medicaid coverage, and she has called out, and taken stances on, issues of racial bias where other elected leaders have opted not to make their positions clear or, worse, are on the wrong side of the issue.  Katrina has been an outspoken advocate for, and supporter of, our efforts to raise awareness of key political discourses including the environmental lecture and book series started this year by our UWSP campus chapter.

Katrina takes to heart her role as an elected representative and listens empathetically to the citizens of her district.  She is a strong, confident leader who champions both social and environmental causes that affect not only us, but the quality of life of all the residents of the state of Wisconsin.  We are lucky to have such a strong leader representing us in Madison and look forward to continuing to work with her for the betterment of our community, county, region and all of Wisconsin.  Join us on November 6th in casting your ballot for Katrina Shankland!

Read “Arrive Together: Transportation Access and Equity in Wisconsin”

ArriveTogetherCover.PNG   A new report was published from a coalition of Wisconsin organizations focused upon what are often called “Economic and Social Justice Issues”.

You can read it at the link in blue–
Arrive Together: Transportation Access and Equity in Wisconsin

Now, what we need to do is start to light a fire under Wisconsin’s Legislature about this issue. We would like to suggest the most appropriate way to do this is to apply maximum public pressure to your LOCAL elected officials (Town Board, Village Boards, City Councils, County Board supervisors) to urge them to apply maximum pressure to their local State Senate and Assembly reps to pass

Regional Transit Authority enabling legislation.

Wisconsin had a very brief window of opportunity, when Regional Transit was briefly legalized from 2009-2011.

Then, for entirely dogmatic ideological reasons having nothing to do with meeting the needs of Wisconsin’s people, a one-party government in Madison slammed the window shut again by dis-enabling Regional Transit during the frenzy of passage of the 2011 budget.

We doubt that ANY GOP legislators even read the part of the budget bill that disabled regional mass transit in Wisconsin. That is because, they were voting out of rigid, dogmatic ideology dictated by ALEC, a man named Grover Norquist, the Bradley Foundation, and other corporate-statist idea-makers who instruct the Legislature how to vote.

We suggest you wait until the Nov. 6th election when you will know who will be in the Legislature representing your local District. Then, begin making contacts with both the legislators, and your local elected officials.

–Editorial Staff.

What is a University?

The role of universities is something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. This has been brought about by a number of different things. One of those has been the conversations that have come about since “Point Forward” was announced on March 5th of this year at UW- Stevens Point. What’s at stake in the discussions about program eliminations and dealing with UWSP’s current budget issues have been I think too focused on merely alleviating that immediate problem without a deeper understanding of what a university is, and what it ought to be.

There are competing ideologies at work.  The solution to addressing this problem and reimagining what this institution is depends on which ideology you subscribe to. On the one hand universities serve as gateways to better lives. They provide skills and training to obtain jobs we couldn’t get otherwise. But should that be the sole focus? Or should our purpose be something else. If the goal is education then what that is and how that manifests itself is altogether different than being merely an institution for job training. Both of those focuses give you skills and can improve your employ-ability in different fields. But if education is the goal then the priority should be on what a good education looks like. To me, that looks like being challenged to think differently about our place in the world, it’s about connecting with our cultural history, the good and the bad, learning from it. It’s about learning to think deeper and more critically about the world we inhabit. Giving us the tools to not merely get a job, but change our workplaces and our society for the better. Education should empower us with greater knowledge and empathy. Achieving this requires that the humanities which history, culture, empathy and learning how to connect to, relate to, and communicate our experiences of the world.

If all we seek is job training in a market in which what jobs are available is always changing then we doom ourselves to an endless no-win game of keeping up with the Joneses that puts faculty and students in precarious situations about what their own futures may look like. If we want to engage in these debates then we should do so knowing fully what options exist.  Those options can’t exist merely in the paradigm of cutting programs and letting administrators determine the fate of everyone that works for or studies at a university.  If this line of thinking prevails that it reminds me a lot of the idea of manufactured consent that Noam Chomsky has articulated.  The idea that media outlets establish the parameters of and positions on a given issue and all debate must happen within that space, and be loud to make the positions seem as distant as possible. This however, ignores the whole extent of possible positions that may exist outside of that constructed paradigm.

If we want to force a more meaningful conversation about reimagining the university then we need to have the sort of critical thinking and creative problem solving that can allow us to stake out positions outside of the options that have been given to us.  It is imperative that all tools of social change used by activists throughout history including civil disobedience in the form of protests, walk outs, sit ins and strikes be on the table to allow everyone to fully participate in determining their own future. The conversations happening about budget issues and shifting priorities can take us in any one of a number of different directions. Of those directions, we ought to strive for the best possible one which strengthens the core mission of the university, improves access and affordability, and affords faculty the opportunity to engage in doing the best, most cutting edge work to engage students in challenging, thought provoking ways about our shared history and the times we currently find ourselves in.

In order to do that we’ve got to tease out and examine the different ideologies and how they might play out in practice. Of these ideologies I would argue that the two most prominent ones are the university as a business and the university as an institution of learning and education.

The university as a business presents us with a problem limited in scope to business models for how we resolve our budget shortfall.  That is, when there are limited funds austerity must be enforced.  The decision making for how that austerity is applied is decided by the board members or in this case the administrators.  The options involve cutting programs and laying off faculty/staff to alleviate the budget shortfall and address the momentary crisis, without a great deal of thinking beyond the immediate scope and nature of the problem we are currently facing.

If the university is a business the workers are the faculty and staff who contribute daily to the teaching of classes, and the necessary maintenance, custodial, and developmental work required to upkeep the physical space the university occupies.  If the university is a business decisions tend to be made from the top down, with little meaningful input coming from the workers and the customers. If the university is a business then students are the customers, and the product being sold is a degree.  It’s not an education.  If the focus is on degrees then the goal becomes to streamline this process as much as possible.  Make the degrees easy to achieve, and able to be accomplished in as little time as possible so that people can get into their desired career fields sooner.  To make the product more affordable you cut costs, by cutting salaries or freezing them, increase the amount of work each worker must do, for less money, and put customers in charge of determining the quality of the product they receive.

However, this model doesn’t allow for qualitative questions about what constitutes an education.  It doesn’t allow for the worth of a degree which is ultimately merely a symbol of the education you’ve received at a university to be assessed meaningfully by people with the knowledge and insights to assess the quality beyond monetary value or employ-ability.

The competing ideology is of the university as an institution of learning and a community.  The focus is put more on education and not on degrees.  This is not to do away with degrees, but to make sure students get the most out of their degrees, and make sure faculty are in a position to do their best work.  This ideology also requires that the conversations about what changes need to be made by the institution to address different issues as they arise are done by the whole community, with everyone having an opportunity to be heard and weigh in on how these problems might be solved.

It means the focus is on education, learning, which should be critical and thought provoking it should make students address new concepts and ideas.  It should afford them the opportunity to engage with these concepts to become better citizens and people, to think more deeply about race, gender, politics, history, art, science and what these things are and what they can be.

UW-Stevens Point has a budget shortfall.  This stems from decreasing enrollment, loss in state funding, and an array of other reasons.  That’s the reality, but if these changes and cuts that are being discussed are truly about reimagining the university, then the first question we need to settle is what is the university.  Beyond that, we should be able to have a conversation about every feature and facet of this institution and discuss what’s worth keeping, what’s worth changing and how we can best do that together, with an eye towards making the university into something dynamic, affordable, thought provoking, and accessible to everyone in the community it serves.  Collectively, we can identify problems with our governance structure, funding, operations, where there is excessive and unnecessary bureaucracy and any other issues to make this place the best it can be, for everyone.

 

-Justin

“Consumption and the Nature of Strangeness” -UWSP Fall Discussion Series 2nd session

Video clips from Dr. Clint Jones’s lecture series, Oct. 10 2018, entitled “Consumption and the Nature of Strangeness.”

this session has to do with how under capitalism, we experience our being-in-the-world as consumers (or over-consumers, compulsive consumers, walking-deadlike consumers). Lacking real predators in nature itself, our fear of “strangeness” takes the form of human “monsters,” archetypes of predators which are human yet strangely not.

Lecture series following his last semester series now in a book, “Ecological Reflections on Post-Capitalist Society.” Dr. Jones lectures in Philosophy at UW-Stevens Point and just took over being co-chair of Central Wisconsin Green Party chapter.

Clip 1– (11:38)

Clip 2 – (7:31)

“Fleshing out” the archetypes of our monsters of consumption–vampires, werewolves, zombies.

 

 

Clip 3

“If we are to change in a meaningful way, we have to learn how to re-inhabit a space of extreme vulnerability,…that change starts with consuming less. But that too is not enough, because we also have to learn how to consume without the fear of being consumed.”

 

Clip 4

“If we want to overthrow capitalism, it’s got to start locally, at the level of refusal.”

Clint Jones Consumption and the Nature of Strangeness Q A1

Clip 5

“It can’t just be (consuming) less. That’s not enough. It has to be different, and step outside the capitalist framework, and re-think life, going forward.”

Clint Jones Consumption and the Nature of Strangeness Q A2

The Job Guarantee -by Pavlina Tcherneva

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The Job Guarantee: Design, Jobs, and Implementation

Pavlina Tcherneva

Levy Economics Institute, Bard College

April, 2018

This paper offers an opposite mode of thinking about the system of providing a living to the U.S. working class.  If the wage-labor system, the “job market,” cannot provide a living to our people, then there is a Job Guarantee to rely upon instead.

The question “how will you pay for all of this” is answered in an opposite way from the dominant mental model that economists are using, and which is indoctrinated into the Congress of the United States, under the terminology of “pay-as-you-go,” or “pay-go.”

The “pay-go” concept emerged from the 1980s era of large tax cuts on the beneficiaries of growing income inequality, which quickly led to large federal budget deficits. The pay-go adherents in the Congress seized upon the growing deficit as a rationale for disallowing any growth in spending on social welfare benefits. If an increase in social welfare is proposed, the story goes, then some other part of the budget must be cut, or the benefit must be “paid for.”renewablejobs2012

The Job Guarantee is based upon an opposing set of policy called “Modern Monetary Theory.” There is not room to elaborate what Modern Monetary Theory or “MMT” is all about in a short blog page introducing the Job Guarantee, so we suggest you spend some time researching what MMT is all about, in addition to considering the Job Guarantee Paper stored on this blog.

Click link below “wp_902” –PDF file should open in browser and should have a “Download” icon should you decide to save on your own hard drive or Google Drive, etc.

wp_902

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