Heartbeats: Affordable health screenings coming to Clinton


The players and cheerleaders taking part in the MyCentralJersey.com Snapple Bowl on July 20 at Kean University were honored at a July 19 banquet at the Pines Manor in Edison. Paul C. Grzella/Wochit

Clinton Fire Department Social Hall, 1 New St., Clinton, will host affordable screenings by Life Line Screening on Aug. 5. Learn about your risk for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and other chronic, serious conditions. Screenings are affordable, convenient and accessible for wheelchairs and those with trouble walking. Packages start at $119 but consultants will work with you to create a package that is right for you based on your age and risk factors. Registration is required. To register, call 1-888-653-6441 to receive $10 off a package priced at $129 or more, visit www.lifelinescreening.com/communitycircle, or text the word CIRCLE to 797979.

DQ Blizzard Treat sales to benefit hospital

As part of the 13th Annual DQ Miracle Treat Day on July 27, DQ Grill & Chill and Dairy Queen locations throughout the United States will raise funds to help save and improve the lives of sick and injured children in Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals. During Miracle Treat Day, $1 or more from every Blizzard Treat sold at participating locations will be donated to CMN Hospitals, which raises funds and awareness for 170 children’s hospitals across the U.S. and Canada.
Fans are encouraged to use #MiracleTreatDay on social media and invite others to join them in visiting a participating DQ location on July 27. For more about Miracle Treat Day, visit MiracleTreatDay.com. For more about the Dairy Queen system, visit DairyQueen.com. For more about Children’s Specialized Hospital, call 888-CHILDRENS or visit www.childrens-specialized.org. For more about Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, visit CMNHospitals.org.

Family exercise classes

The Hunterdon Health and Wellness Center in Clinton will offer family classes for the summer, in four-week sessions from Aug. 9 to Aug. 30. The Hunterdon Health and Wellness Center in Clinton is at 1738 Route 31 North, Clinton. Call 908-735-6884; visit http://wellness.hunterdonhealthcare.org.

READ: Heartbeats: Golf incentive being offered for blood donors

READ: Heartbeats: Saint Peter’s NICU recognized for excellence

READ: Heartbeats: Lowering health risk for African Americans

WATCH: Snapple Bowl XXIV first quarter action

Award nominations being accepted

The American Heart Association is seeking nominations for the Central New Jersey Heart Walk Lifestyle Change Award, which is locally sponsored by NJM Insurance Group. The award recognizes people or groups who have made changes that have impacted their quality of life and improved their health. Nominations will be accepted through Aug. 15, and winners will be recognized at the Central NJ Heart Walk on Oct. 7,  at Arm & Hammer Park, Trenton. In order to be considered, individuals must be non-smokers or smoke-free for a minimum of six months. Nomination forms are available at www.CentralNJHeartWalk.org or by calling the American Heart Association at 609-223-3784.

New Chief Nursing Officer named

Janet Gordils-Perez from Plainsboro has been named chief nursing officer at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick. She was recently promoted from her position as director of oncology nursing. In her new role, Gordils-Perez is responsible for treatment nursing, advanced practice nursing, pediatric nursing, social work, medical health technician support, and nursing/patient education. She oversees 150 clinical and administrative staff. Visit www.cinj.org.

Reducing risk of stroke

The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association urges Americans to take action to reduce their personal risk factors for stroke, the fifth leading cause of death. The American Stroke Association notes that an estimated 80 percent of strokes may be prevented if people started taking better care of themselves. This includes making healthy lifestyle choices like eating better and moving more. Visit www.empoweredtoserve.org and strokeassociation.org.

UMCP earns Most Wired designation

University Medical Center of Princeton (UMCP) is one of 461 hospitals nationwide — and about two dozen in New Jersey — to earn a place on the 2017 Health Care’s Most Wired list, which was recently released by the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Health Forum. Participating hospitals and health systems are evaluated based on their progress in adopting, implementing and using IT in four areas: Infrastructure, business and administrative management, clinical quality and safety and clinical integration. Visit www.princetonhcs.org. For a full list of winners, visit www.hhnmag.com.

Reformed Church Home receives National Accreditation

Reformed Church Home in Old Bridge has received the Basic Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement Accreditation in 2017. The Home offers long term nursing care, rehabilitation therapy programs, and assisted living services. This accreditation is evaluated and presented by independent accreditor, Providigm. Through Reformed Church Home’s use of the abaqis Quality Management System, Providigm is able to verify that the facility is continually assessing the quality of the care they provide to their residents against federal regulations and standards, and correcting identified issues. For more about Reformed Church Home, visit www.reformedchurchhome.org. For more about Providigm, visit www.providigm.com.

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Black ministers rally on Capitol Hill for fair equitable budget from congress

Photos courtesy: Rev. Steven Martin National Coalition of Churches

Several ministers were arrested in the Russell Rotunda on Capitol Hill Tuesday, including Rev. Raphael Warnock of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.

The group of clergy members rallied through songs and prayer while demanding fair healthcare for all Americans when they were arrested by U.S. Capitol Police. They were charged with crowding, obstruction and incommoding. Warnock was held about three hours then released around 5 p.m. after paying a fine.

“As a pastor, I believe that the national budget is not just a fiscal document, but a moral document. It reflects what we believe and who we are for one another,” Warnock said. “And if this mean-spirited budget were an EKG, it would indicate that America has a heart condition. The government is taking student aid, job training and medicine from those who need it most in order to give a tax cut to those who need it least. We came to Washington as voices of healing and justice. America is better than this. That’s our message. And when I consider those who will suffer, my getting arrested is a small price to pay.”

The group wants Congress to reject what it calls “the immoral budget proposed by the Trump Administration and the equally unjust health care bill” that the Senate may have a procedural vote on in the coming weeks. A vote initially scheduled for Tuesday was postponed.

Faith leaders planned to address how the proposed budget will negatively impact African-American families and communities, including deep cuts to education, Medicaid, civil rights, community development block grants and housing vouchers. The budget will also likely create an environment for predatory lending to increase.

Some of the clergy assembled following scheduled meetings with lawmakers.

Also On The Michigan Chronicle:

Arizona Mesothelioma Victims Center Now Urges a Diagnosed US Navy Veteran in Arizona To Call Them About Compensation and Why Its Vital They Hire One of The Nation’s Most Skilled Lawyers

The incredibly skilled mesothelioma attorneys we suggest recognize how important it is for a diagnosed person with mesothelioma to get properly compensated-so do we”

— Arizona Mesothelioma Victims Center

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, USA, July 24, 2017 /EINPresswire.com/ — The Arizona Mesothelioma Victims Center says, “We are urging a US Navy Veteran who has recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma in Arizona to call us anytime at 800-714-0303 about financial compensation as well as why it is incredibly vital to hire one of the nation’s most experienced mesothelioma attorneys to get the best settlement outcome.” http://Arizona.MesotheliomaVictimsCenter.Com

A mesothelioma compensation claim for a US Navy Veteran in Arizona can potentially involve hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, but if the diagnosed person hires a local car accident lawyer or a mesothelioma marketing law firm there is not much anyone can do to help terminate the lawyers or law firm if they turn out to be less than competent. To illustrate the point-In the group’s opinion a substandard mesothelioma compensation outcome would be something like net 350,000 to the diagnosed US Navy Veteran who was exposed as a machinist or boiler technician while in the US Navy. The group believes the net compensation award could be as much as $750,000 or more if the person had hired one of the nation’s most qualified and experienced mesothelioma attorneys as they would like to explain anytime at 800-714-0303. http://Arizona.MesotheliomaVictimsCenter.Com

Before a US Navy Veteran with confirmed mesothelioma in Arizona or their family hires a lawyer/law firm to assist with a mesothelioma compensation claim they are urged to call the Arizona Mesothelioma Victims Center for some clarity at 800-714-0303. The group’s number one goal is a person with mesothelioma in Arizona receiving the best possible compensation and they are more than happy to suggest or recommend some of the nation’s most skilled mesothelioma attorneys anytime to a diagnosed person or their family who will almost always call the diagnosed person-immediately.

“The incredibly skilled mesothelioma attorneys we suggest recognize how important it is for a diagnosed person with mesothelioma to get properly compensated-so do we.” http://Arizona.MesotheliomaVictimsCenter.Com

For the best possible mesothelioma treatment options in Arizona the Arizona Mesothelioma Victims Center strongly recommends the following heath care facilities with the offer to help a diagnosed victim, or their family get to the right physicians at each hospital.

* The Mayo Clinic Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona: http://www.mayoclinic.org/patient-visitor-guide/arizona
* The University of Arizona Medical Center Tucson, Arizona:

The Arizona Mesothelioma Victims Center would like to emphasize theirs is a statewide initiative available to a diagnosed victim anywhere in Arizona including communities such as Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, Chandler, Glendale, Gilbert, Tempe. Peoria, or Prescott. http://Arizona.MesotheliomaVictimsCenter.Com

High-risk work groups for exposure to asbestos in Arizona include US Navy Veterans, power plant workers, manufacturing workers, plumbers, nuclear power plant workers, electricians, auto mechanics, machinists, or construction workers. Typically, these high-risk workers were exposed to asbestos in the 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s, or 1980’s.

The states indicated with the highest incidence of mesothelioma include Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Louisiana, Washington, and Oregon. Mesothelioma also happens in Arizona. http://Arizona.MesotheliomaVictimsCenter.com

For more information about mesothelioma please refer to the National Institutes of Health’s web site related to this rare form of cancer: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/mesothelioma.html

Michael Thomas
Arizona Mesothelioma Victims Center
email us here

The Poetics of Jazz

Ornette Coleman’s 1972 album Skies of America is more often discussed for what it could have been. The famous free-jazz pioneer’s first orchestral recording, it was conceived as a suite for his quartet with backing from the London Symphony Orchestra, but a misunderstanding with the British musicians’ union prevented the other three players from joining. The resulting 41-minute cut, recorded in notoriously poor quality, features Coleman soloing above the full orchestra rather than the concerto-grosso dynamic that he had intended. Nevertheless, there is brilliance.

Coleman takes over for nearly 10 minutes on the album’s second side, at one point slowing down over a memorable cadenza until he seems to be addressing the listener directly instead of his anxious supporting strings and winds. This slice of the composition is titled “Poetry.”

In 1997, Coleman sat down for an interview with Jacques Derrida, during which the saxophonist, composer, and bandleader spoke candidly about his well-developed aesthetic vision and the practice of jazz. The interview took place ahead of Coleman’s residency at La Villette, where he was presenting “Civilization,” a program of concerts that included his first performance of Skies of America in many years. Responding to a question about the title “Civilization,” Coleman says: “I’m trying to express a concept according to which you can translate one thing into another. I think that sound has a much more democratic relationship to information, because you don’t need the alphabet to understand music.”

Derrida is curious about the ways in which jazz can inform political action, asking, “When you say that sound is more ‘democratic,’ what do you make of that as a composer? You write music in a coded form all the same.” Coleman turns back to “Poetry,” saying, “In 1972 I wrote a symphony called Skies of America and that was a tragic event for me, because I didn’t have such a good relationship with the music scene: like when I was doing free jazz, most people thought that I just picked up my saxophone and played whatever was going through my head, without following any rule, but that wasn’t true.”

Derrida enthusiastically agrees: “But if I translate what you are doing into a domain that I know better, that of written language, the unique event that is produced only one time is nevertheless repeated in its very structure. Thus there is a repetition, in the work, that is intrinsic to the initial creation—that which compromises or complicates the concept of improvisation.” In short, a word isn’t a word until it’s repeated, and it doesn’t exist without that hope of repetition—and just so with musical sequences. Almost conspiratorially, Derrida and Coleman argue that it is the promise of repetition that provides order where many people hear chaos.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

‘Detroit’ Review: Kathryn Bigelow Powerfully Connects Historic Riots to Modern Discord

This searing historical drama traces the roots — and the devastating aftermath — of the city’s 1967 unrest

Published 2:00 pm, Sunday, July 23, 2017

“Detroit” feels like a war film — which, in many ways, it is.

During the summer of 1967, in Detroit and other major cities, discontent over racial injustice was escalating. Kathryn Bigelow’s masterful, immeasurably tense drama captures the volatility and importance of this incendiary time. The five-day uprising, which resulted in hundreds of injuries and 43 deaths, began with a police raid of an after-hours nightclub. Shortly thereafter, swaths of homes and businesses were burned down. It was often hard to distinguish between victim and perpetrator.

This extraordinarily searing film begins with the July 1967 raid and powerfully depicts the early escalation of the riots. It even more commandingly unpacks the scope of the unrest, by examining the experience of participants, specifically a group of unwitting victims.

“Detroit” has a vital sense of authenticity, rooted as it is in history, conveyed via Bigelow’s meticulously crafted cinema vérité style that, essentially, thrusts the viewer into the tense events. She is an expert at managing suspense and deftly blending sensitivity with a journalistic sense of details. Her signature filmmaking style — kinetic, visceral and immersive — works brilliantly here. “Detroit” is a work of consummate skill which kicks into high gear when the focus turns from widespread civil unrest to the very specific.

A report of gunfire near a National Guard staging area propelled Detroit police and Michigan state troopers, as well as a private security guard, to search the nearby Algiers Motel. What followed was a vicious and prolonged interrogation of motel guests: The police spent hours intimidating and physically attacking a dozen guests, in an effort to force a confession about the gunshots. Their brutal efforts result in the point-blank killing of three unarmed African-American men and the brutal beatings of nine other men and women. No confession resulted.

The film incorporates historical record and personal accounts with dialogue written by Mark Boal, the screenwriter with whom Bigelow collaborated on “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” Boal has woven a riveting fact-based story, bolstered by extensive research, into an uncommonly compelling narrative.

The crimes that occurred inside the Algiers Motel that night, though publicized at the time, are no longer widely known or referenced. Bigelow has vividly reconstructed them so that audiences experience them in real time. Bigelow, cinematographer Barry Ackroyd (“The Big Short”) and editor William Goldenberg (“Argo”) intercut existing archival footage with fluid, unobtrusive documentary-style visuals, intensifying the power and authenticity of the narrative and the viewer’s personal connection to it.

At the heart of the story is burgeoning Motown talent Larry Reed, lead singer of R&B group The Dramatics, played superbly by Algee Smith (“Earth to Echo”). As the story unfolds, tragedy strikes all around and envelops him. That fateful night changes the course of his life. With his incandescently beautiful voice, Reed was deeply committed to his musical career. Earlier that evening he and his fellow Dramatics were scheduled to play Detroit’s Fox Theater, but their show was cancelled when the venue was evacuated due to nearby rioting. Reed and his pal Fred Simple (a terrific Jacob Latimore, “Collateral Beauty”) take refuge at the nearby Algiers Motel.

Another person who ended up at the Algiers that night was security guard Melvin Dismukes (an excellent John Boyega), a decent man forced into an untenable position. The film’s only flaw is not telling enough of Dismukes’ story. We see him arrested and framed for the murders that took place in the motel, and later see him freed. Bigelow omits the trial in between and how the black community turned against him.

The ensemble cast is topnotch, particularly during the emotionally taxing and relentlessly brutal scenes in the motel. Anthony Mackie (who also starred in “Hurt Locker”) is terrific as a courageous hotel guest accused of being a pimp because of his friendship with two young white women, who police insist are prostitutes.

Bigelow’s explosive film is all the more emotionally charged because of her close examination of the abuse of power by white cops, led by the callous and malevolent officer Philip Krauss, played chillingly by Will Poulter (“We’re the Millers”). The riots — and the night of terror inside the Algiers Motel — are an American tragedy, whose reverberations continued to be felt: in Los Angeles in 1992, in Ferguson in 2014, in Baltimore in 2015, and in far too many individual clashes between white police officers and black men.

The trial of the abusive police officers is featured in the final third of the film. The officers are found not guilty of any wrongdoing; the parallels between the cases of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Philando Castile are resoundingly clear. Bigelow has said she hopes the film will spark a much-needed conversation on race. Cinematically, she takes a fascinating route toward that goal: a direct path from the riots to an intense look at the Algiers Motel incident, as it unfolded and in the subsequent trial.

The first third of the film juxtaposes a musical celebration inside the Fox Theater with the mounting chaos on the streets. (The film’s Motown-heavy score is a fantastic addition.) Meanwhile, we see people looting, setting buildings on fire, throwing Molotov cocktails. The police are soon backed by National Guard troops. It’s a startlingly incongruous visual: behemoth tanks, vessels of war, wending their way through downtown avenues. The second third of the film focuses on the tortuous, claustrophobic and stomach-turning events inside the hotel, with the final third centered on the trial and its outrage-provoking verdict.

In an animated prologue, Bigelow incorporates African-American artist Jacob Lawrence’s evocative series of panels on the great migration. The text is provided by historian and Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. It’s fitting that Gates contributed to the film, given his own 2009 arrest, which drew national attention to race relations and law enforcement. The prologue contextualizes racial segregation.

Weighty context informs “Detroit” throughout, reminding viewers of lasting, unresolved racial injustice in the U.S. Decades of bigotry, discrimination and prejudice loom large as we watch the film. One can only hope that awareness will be raised and consciousness awakened by those who see the film, which should be required viewing. The legacy of the Algiers Motel case has contributed to where we are today, still struggling with a perilous racial divide.

“Detroit” is an impeccably-rendered and pivotal battle in a much longer, shattering war.

Read original story ‘Detroit’ Review: Kathryn Bigelow Powerfully Connects Historic Riots to Modern Discord At TheWrap

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

News | Robert Whitcomb: Flexible City Planning; Seeking Startups; Single Payer Will Prevail

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Robert Whitcomb

“We go in withering July

To ply the hard incessant hoe;
Panting beneath the brazen sky
We sweat and grumble, but we go.”

—  Ruth Pitter, “The Diehards’’

Boston’s new master plan, called “Imagine 2030’’ is refreshingly flexible. It encourages improvements in accessibility and interconnectivity across the city through more reliable public transportation,  better education and  more recreational resources. However, it leaves many of the details and decisions  to private-sector organizations and individuals, with city government acting more as referee and cheerleader and improvements promoted more through economic incentives than through regulations.

Providence officials would do well to study the Boston approach.

It’s not a heavily top-down government-run “urban-renewal’’ approach of the wrecking-ball-and-bulldozer sort that did so much damage in many old American cities in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Rather it takes more of a Jane Jacobs (author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities) stance – treating the city as an immensely complicated organism with vibrant and open neighborhoods and walkability as key strengths.

The plan has a couple of powerful forces behind it: One is that cities in general are on the upswing; suburbs have lost a lot of their allure. Another is that Greater Boston’s great research and innovation machine, lubricated by its famed higher-education sector and its roles as a major financial center and the capital of New England, will probably keep running indefinitely to pay for the improvements. Let’s hope that more of that money washes down to Providence.


Wexford’s proposed campus

Best of luck to Social Enterprise Greenhouse, a Providence-based local-business accelerator.

The Providence region, between the huge dynamos of Boston and New York, has long lagged in business startups. But progress has been made in the past few years. While Rhode Island has only one well-known angel investment firm – Cherrystone Angel Group — the state is increasingly on the radar in Boston, one of America’s venture-capital centers. Particularly attractive are the Ocean State’s lower costs, its natural and manmade beauty (well, not everywhere) and, in particular, colleges doing  important research and innovation. The state-backed Slater Technology Fund, for its part, provides limited amounts of funding to tech startups.

Cambridge Innovation Center’s plan to expand into the new Wexford Science and Technology Center in downtown Providence may help a lot. Kudos to Governor Raimondo’s administration for helping to bring it in.

Obviously it also would help if Providence again became more of a big-company headquarters town again, to provide another source of money for local entrepreneurs.


I think that many, perhaps most Rhode Islanders would be happy to pay a few more dollars  in taxes to hire more people to pick  up the trash strewn along so many roadsides. And clean off the graffiti, too. People going to the National Governors Conference last week must have noticed the squalor, including on the streets near the beautiful State House. Crummy advertising! More attention to catching and prosecuting the people who make this mess would also be appreciated.


I have noticed over the years Providence police officers’ habit of keeping their engines running when they leave  their cruisers to get a coffee or something else. Presumably they want the air conditioning or heat to be at exactly their desired level when they return. They often leave the engines running for long stretches. I guess they don’t care because they don’t pay for the gasoline. But this is polluting, even in the air that Providence’s finest breathe, and a waste of public money. It really ought to stop.



The bureaucrats at Harvard University want to ban most private social clubs for students at Harvard College – “final clubs’’(the most socio-economic “elite’’ organizations), fraternities, sororities and the like, alleging that they undermine an idea of “diversity’’ and foment discrimination. The bureaucrats would bar students who take part in these organizations from holding leadership positions at Harvard or getting recommendations for scholarships.

This attack on freedom of association (a sibling of freedom of speech) and on the ability to form close and lasting friendships will probably succeed:  After all, being a Harvard student is not obligatory. And, I might add, there are many other colleges where you’d get a considerably better undergraduate education than at Harvard.

To become good citizens, and leaders, students would do well to know people in as wide a range of society as possible. But they also need to be able to form bonds within smaller groups for the loyalty and mutual understanding people need. And if you’re  compelled to be “friends’’ with everyone, you’re friends with no one.

Harvard College graduates will seek to join or form such groups when they move into the real world. Imperial Harvard will not succeed in transforming human nature.


Last week, President Trump met with people from a curious mix of companies in part of his Made in America campaign (which doesn’t apply to Trump Organization branded products). The New England companies included, according to Fox News:

Connecticut: Sikorsky

“Aircraft manufacturer Sikorsky, a division of Lockheed Martin, is known for its production of the Black Hawk helicopter. Sikorsky claims to have built ‘the world’s first practical flight helicopter,’ in 1939.’’

Maine: Hinckley Yachts

“What began as a company that built boats for local fisherman in Maine, Hinckley is now a world-renowned builder of premium boats between 29 to 79 feet long.’’

Massachusetts: St. Pierre Manufacturing

“St. Pierre Manufacturing makes horseshoes and tire chains. It was founded in 1920, inspired by Henry St. Pierre whose car got stuck in the mud when he was driving to a nearby village.’’

New Hampshire: Cider Belly Doughnuts

“Located on Moulton Farm, …this company is praised for its fresh, homemade cider doughnuts.’’.

Rhode Island: Narragansett Brewing Company

Narragansett Brewery

“The Narragansett Brewing Company is the fifth largest lager beer brewery in New England. The company was founded in 1888 by six local businessmen and produced it first beer in 1890.’’

Vermont: Dubie Family Maple

“Located in the heart of Vermont’s Maple Country, this family-owned-and-operated company has been producing Pure Vermont Maple Syrup for 14 years.’’


Many readers have heard about the sociopath Donald Trump’s previously undisclosed second  private talk with Vladimir Putin at the recent G20 conference. Many probably didn’t know that Trump didn’t have with him an American translator – an extraordinary situation!  They only used Putin’s translator. I’m sure that’s because Trump didn’t want anyone to testify later on what they talked about.

I suspect that in the chat, the Kremlin’s thug-in-chief reminded Trump, with perhaps only a wink, of the dirt that he has on our corrupt president and the vast sums that have gone into the Mafia-like enterprise called “The Trump Organization.’’

It is chilling that the Electoral College has delivered the Executive Branch to a family and their retainers who are effectively mobsters and in thrall to a foreign dictator.


Single payer?

Since the current  version of the Republican Party is most passionate about making the plutocracy richer, with tax cuts the preferred vehicle – it’s not surprising that  many of its leaders hate the Affordable Care Act. That’s because it put new taxes on the affluent to help pay to expand health-care coverage. To be fair, I should also note that many Republicans on principle don’t think that the government should have any role in health care. Rather, they would leave it all to the “magic of the market’’ and the kindness of families.

But the rich folks who own the party and run it for their own benefit might consider the long-term effects of opposition to helping the poor and middle class – social disorder and a less prosperous nation.  A growing impoverished underclass does not bode well for America’s future.

The Affordable Care Act, while far from perfect, was meant to do a little leveling of the playing field by trying to ensure that poorer people had broad access to healthcare and not just hospital emergency rooms, whence the rest of us indirectly get the bill through taxes to help reimburse hospitals for providing  mandatory “free care’’ to anyone who shows up.

For years, the nonrich have seen their inflation-adjusted wages drop as more and more of the country’s wealth has gone into dividends and other investment income instead of into wages. At the same time, senior executives of for-profit and “nonprofit” (i.e., not taxed) enterprises have gotten ever more astronomical compensation. (This very much includes health care: Look at hospital executives’ salaries!).

And company senior execs and boards have ditched defined-benefit pensions for their employees in favor of much less reliable defined-contribution vehicles,  such as 401(k)s, even as employers have cut way back on how much they contribute to cover employee health-insurance costs.

All this has severely hurt the purchasing power of average Americans, which is one reason that GDP growth has generally been very low, or worse, since about 2001, when George W. Bush and friends pushed through massive tax cuts for the rich – i.e., for themselves.

The plutocrats who now run Washington might consider that a healthy country is a more productive than one with millions of untreated or under-treated  people. America has the worst health outcomes in the West  despite its great wealth (albeit wealth that’s increasingly concentrated). That and the increasing likelihood of mass social disorder as more and more Americans realize how much the system is rigged against them might get the attention of America’s increasingly sequestered rich. It would be to their interest to back universal health care and yes, a rise in the federal minimum wage.

By the way, some conservatives have gloated about a University of Washington study that seemed to suggest that Seattle’s raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour has hurt the local economy. In fact, the data were analyzed inaccurately. Seattle is the fastest growing big city in the nation and has a 2.6 percent unemployment rate. Further, jobs in food service, where much of the debate about the minimum wage has been concentrated, continue to grow at a rate far exceeding the nation’s. One reason: More people have more money to buy stuff in the Seattle area.

America is not overtaxed. It’s  somewhat undertaxed, as seen in our crumbling infrastructure and frayed social services. That is, it’s undertaxed compared to what most Americans say they want in public services and infrastructure and what most developed nations see as essential public investments to remain competitive. God knows, we’ve let our infrastructure fall apart.

Consider that the Organization  for Economic Cooperation and Development ranked the U.S. as fourth lowest in overall tax burden at 25.9 percent, considerably less than the average of 34.2 percent for the 35 nations in the OECD. And because of tax-avoidance laws that favor the wealthy, some very rich Americans  pay very little.

Our tax laws give a great deal of preference to investment over wage and salaried work. The idea is that such incentives encourage risk taking and innovation but in fact these investments are mostly in old stock in existing companies, not in startups.

None of this is to suggest that corporate income taxes should be raised. Indeed such taxes should eliminated. They cause great inefficiencies within companies and fuel corruption in Washington as corporate lobbyists jockey to manipulate the tax code to the best advantage of the companies.

So how to make healthcare work in America? The first thing is to accept that the most equitable and cost-efficient system is single payer –“Medicare for All’’. So we should extend Medicare to everyone to cover important treatment. For less important stuff, people can buy supplemental insurance in the private sector, as in Europe. Medicare’s administrative overhead is 2 percent, private insurance companies’ over 20 percent – gotta pay  insurance execs their  multimillion-dollar salaries and put out all those ads. And of course the shareholders need to be taken care of, too.

You’d also have to address the cost issue by letting the new and expanded Medicare negotiate with drug companies to get  lower prices.

Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D.,  a fox in the henhouse, wouldn’t like that; he made piles of money by investing as a congressman in health-related companies.  A recent example from The Wall Street Journal: “ProPublica reported that on the same day his stockbroker bought him up to $90,000 of stock in six pharmaceutical companies, Price arranged to call a top U.S. health official, seeking to scuttle a controversial rule that could have hurt the firms’ profits and driven down their share prices.’’  Honest people are rare in the Trump orbit and seemingly nonexistent in the inner Trump mafia of family and retainers.

Extending Medicare to all would presumably mean higher taxes but it  also would mean that Americans would not get stuck with private insurers’ astronomical premiums.  Overall, they’d pay less than they’re paying now. And it would all be much, much simpler to deal with than the current red-tape-upholstered private-sector insurance labyrinth/nightmare.  Of course, among the people who would  pay higher taxes are U.S. physicians, who are by far the highest paid in the world, and too many of whom have become far more interested in maximizing their already high incomes than in their patients, and ditto hospital executives.  The size of their compensation, along with sky-high U.S. drug prices, are major reasons why American health care is so much more expensive than health care in the rest of the Developed World – and with crummy medical outcomes to boot.

Given the power of insurance and some other health-care sector lobbyists in Washington, it will of course be very difficult to move to single payer. But I believe that the current hybrid “system’’ will eventually collapse.

The Obama administration, fearful of taking on the insurance companies, included  many originally GOP ideas in the Affordable Care Act. This included the individual mandate to buy insurance, whose aim was to get as many people as possible onto the ACA insurance exchanges in order to create a healthy risk pool, with  young healthy people with few claims offsetting the cost of the  heavy claims of older, sicker ones.

But the penalty for not buying insurance has been too laughably small to get an adequate number of younger, healthier people into the pool. Meanwhile, Republican threats to destroy the insurance exchanges by killing subsidies to insurers (“cost-sharing’’) for covering poorer people, have led insurers in some places to leave the exchanges. Funny how so many folks with cars who complain about having to buy health  insurance forget that buying car insurance is mandatory.

When we go to single payer the country will become more productive and stable as many more Americans can go about their business without worrying whether they will lose their health care. This will be good news even for the rich enjoying concierge care.  And certainly for employers, all of whom could finally escape the  Developed World’s worst health-insurance “system’’.


An example of why the Democratic Party has problems in many places is Oregon’s new abortion law, which will make all insurers in the state cover abortions for pretty much any reason and at no cost to the women having them. The only organizations that can get an exemption from what will be America’s most enthusiastic abortion-rights law are nonprofits whose main purpose is “the inculcation of religious value’’ and serving and employing those who share their religious beliefs.

Previous law made abortion readily available in Oregon. This one goes a bit too far on this very difficult and sensitive matter.


Maureen Callahan, in her New York Post column, had an entertaining piece that said: “For anyone still wondering why Middle America’s so angry, just take a look at the guest list for the annual bash thrown by Washington Post heiress Lally Weymouth, currently the paper’s senior associate editor, in the Hamptons last week.

“It was full of politicians and power brokers — the ones who pantomime outrage daily, accusing the other side of crushing the little guy, sure that the same voter will never guess that behind closed doors, they all get along.

Ivanka Trump

“Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner partied with billionaire Democratic donor George Soros, who rubbed shoulders with billionaire GOP donor David Koch.

“Chuck Schumer and Kellyanne Conway were there. So were Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Ronald Lauder, Carl Icahn, Joel Klein, Cathie Black, reporters Steve Clemons and Maria Bartiromo, columnists Richard Cohen and Margaret Carlson, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Ray Kelly, Bill Bratton and Steven Spielberg.

“Oh, and Lally’s uncle, former Gov. and Sen. Bob Graham, and cousin Gwen Graham, who’s currently running for her dad’s old job as Florida’s governor.

“Weymouth’s party is the latest reminder that for all the bruising rhetoric, the constant polls showing a deeply divided America and the most polarizing president in history, our battle isn’t red vs. blue, right vs. left: It’s about the 1% vs. the rest of us. They laugh as we take their political theater for real.

“’If you believe any of these people care about you, you are mistaken,’’ Samuel Ronan {a Democratic congressional candidate in Ohio} tweeted. “The Hamptons might as well [be] another planet.”

Actually, some, perhaps most of those people do care about you in an abstract or even idealistic way.  Some (not the Trumps) give a lot of money to charity. They’d even like to help you a bit, albeit not if it means any decline in their status. But as the segmentation of American society by wealth/class accelerates they’ll find fewer and fewer ways to talk to you and find out what you’re feeling.


Robert Finch’s new book, The Outer Beach: A Thousand-Mile Walk on Cape Cod’s Atlantic Shore, is an often stirring stroll through the geological, meteorological, zoological, botanical and human aspects of this sometimes wild, sometimes gentle  and always haunting strip of glacial debris.




Richard Grosvenor 


Born in France, educated at Harvard, Grosvenor has been the head of the art department at St. George’s for decades. 

A brilliant water colorist, Grosvenor was selected by the White House Historical Society to paint a scene of the White House for their bi-centennial calendar for the year 2000. That same year, the Newport Art Museum honored Grosvenor with a 50-year retrospective of his artwork. Grosvenor was also commissioned by the Tall Ships Committee to create an oil painting commemorating the Tall Ships’ visit to Newport in 2000.



Vinnie Paz

Professional Boxer

Paz, formerly Pazienza, fought 60 professional bouts at the Lightweight, Light Middleweight and Super Middleweight weight classes. 

He won the IBF World Lightweight Championship. His overall record was 50 and 10, and he fought in one of the golden ages of boxing. He fought Roberto Duran, Roy Jones, Jr., and Joe Frazier, Jr.. 

Far from perfect, he has been arrested a number of times on a range of charges. His colorful life story is the subject of a feature movie, “Bleed for This,” developed by Executive Producer Martin Scorcese.



Howard Ben Tré


Ben Tré is a world leader in innovating cast glass as a sculptural medium, and his work has been exhibited at more than 100 museum and public collections worldwide — and his studio is located in Pawtucket, RI. 

His works have been at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Art, Houston; the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto; and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Nice.



Bill Reynolds


Reynolds’ books use sports as the framework, but are deeper examinations of poverty, race, and addiction.

His book “Fall River Dreams” defined him a leading American writer who uniquely captures the intersection of sports and culture. 

“Bill Reynolds is one of the best writers around, and this book is the Friday Night Lights of high school basketball,” said Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe.

“Success is a Choice,” which he co-wrote with Rick Pitino, is a business “how to” book that was a New York Times best-seller.

Reynolds has written 11 books and is a sports reporter for the Providence Journal.




John McCauley (Deer Tick)


McCauley has been a leading voice in the alternative, indie rock sphere for more than a decade. His work is a mix of rock with folk, blues, and country influences.

Along with his band, McCauley won Rock Artist of the Year at the Boston Music Awards (beating out Aerosmith) in 2013. He is married to fellow musician Vanessa Carlton — Stevie Nicks officiated their wedding.

With Deer Tick he has produced five albums. 



Ira Magaziner

Business Consultant

He created one of the most innovative university curriculums in America while he was an undergraduate at Brown, and went on to a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford.

Magaziner founded a leading business consulting firm – Telesis — and then sold it to Towers Perrin. He served as the policy point person in President Bill Clinton’s Health Reform initiative that was led by Hillary Clinton. The effort failed and Magaziner was sued and fined — it ultimately was overturned

Today, he serves as the vice chairman and chief executive officer of the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI). His son Seth is RI’s General Treasurer.



Angus Davis


Few business innovators in America have had the success of native Rhode Islander Davis. 

He co-founded Tellme, raised raised more than $200M in capital, and helped to lead the company to more than $100 million in sales and 300 employees. Tellme was acquired by Microsoft for nearly $1 billion.

Now, he is trying to do it again with Upserve, formerly Swipely. The company is “the smart management assistant serving up clear guidance that makes your restaurant thrive” – a tech firm that creates an information infrastructure for restaurants. He has raised upwards of $50 million for Upserve. Davis is a leading American business thinker — all before the age of 40.



Terry “Mother” Moy


If the Navy SEALs are the best trained and most respected in the United State Armed Forces, Moy is the “Mother” of the SEALs.

The Newport native is the embodiment of military lore. He was a famous SEAL instructor and one of his most infamous trainees was Jesse “The Body” Venture – Seal, professional Wrestler and Governor of Minnesota. 

While most SEAL activity is undisclosed, his effort to recover Apollo 17 was globally broadcast.



Phil West

Government Reformer

Once dubbed the Godfather of Ethics Reform, West has been the driving force in reforming governmental ethics for three decades in Rhode Island. 

His successes include a then-record fine against Governor Ed DiPrete, Separation of Powers, downsizing and modernizing the legislature, and the requirement of electronic filing of bills and making hearings accessible to the public.

He was the head of Common Cause RI for eighteen years and retired in 2006, but still remains a guiding force in reform. Two years ago, the master lever was eliminated and this year major ethics reform is moving through the General Assembly — all under the watchful eye of West.

West has taken on the most powerful forces — sometimes alone — and made Rhode Island a better place as a result.



Richard Jenkins


Jenkins is the consummate American actor. His work ranges from everything from “The Witches of Eastwick” to “Hannah and Her Sisters” to HBO’s “Six Feet Under” to his award winning role in “Olive Kitteridge”

His formative acting years took place at Trinity Repertory Company (now Trinity Rep). Jenkins then returned later in his career to help save the financially struggling theater.

He has starred and appeared in more than 80 movies and television series or movies. In 2014, Jenkins and his wife Sharon received the Pell Award for Lifetime Achievement from Trinity Repertory Company in Providence.



Alan Hassenfeld


The former CEO and Chairman of Hasbro was a driving force in transforming the company from a toy manufacturer to an entertainment company.

Michael Jackson and slews of others came to Rhode Island to tour the company and negotiate licensing deals.

In the early 1990’s he became a force in initiating ethics reform in Rhode Island. More recently, he endowed the creation of the Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership at Bryant University.

The Rhode Island-based Hassenfeld Foundation gave out roughly $4.7 million in donations in the most recently reported year. 



M. Therese Antone, RSM, Ed.D


Sister Antone was born in Central Falls, and educated at Salve Regina University, Villanova University, Harvard University and MIT Sloan School of Management.

Correspondingly, she has taught almost every level of education, rising to President of Salve Regina. There, she transformed the school, and Salve Regina’s national rankings and student profile vastly improved under her leadership.

During her tenure, the University’s endowment grew from $1 million to more than $50 million and the University invested $76 million on renovations and expansions and has received numerous awards for restoring the historic mansions, cottages, and gatehouses on its campus. She transformed the University and correspondingly has won countless awards for her service.



Umberto Crenca

Artist and Entrepreneur

Artist, visionary and business leader, Crenca took a crazy idea of developing a sustainable art cluster in Downtown Providence and made it the most unimaginable success, and has become a national model. 

AS220 was founded in 1985 to “provide a local, unjuried, and uncensored home for the arts,” and has grown to own and operate multiple facilities, currently providing fifty eight artist live and/or work spaces, four exhibition spaces, a print shop, a media lab including a black and white darkroom, a fabrication lab, a stage, a recording studio, a black box theater, a dance studio, and a bar and restaurant.

In 2016, Crenca was awarded Honorary Degrees from two different Rhode Island Universities.



Flynn Brothers

U.S. Army

In the history of the modern U.S. Military, there are only a handful of brothers that served as Generals simultaneously — Charlie and Michael Flynn of Middletown were one such case.

Michael Flynn recently retired from service, and has been seen on “Morning Joe” on MSNBC — not surprising, given the latest news. 

On Tuesday, GoLocal cited a story in the The New York Post that Michael is on the short list of Vice Presidential candidates for Donald Trump The Post wrote:

“A surprise name on the list is retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a national security adviser to Trump who has emerged as one of the most buzzed-about veep contenders, sources familiar with the deliberations said.

Regardless of his national political future, these two brothers are two of America’s most accomplished military leaders in the past half century.



Louise Durfee

Environmentalist and Attorney

When one talks about trail blazers in Rhode Island, Louise Durfee’s image should be the first thing that comes to mind. She was the first female partner at a major Providence law firm at a time when most law firms did not employ women attorneys. She was one of a small group of Tiverton residents who joined together in the early 1970’s to oppose a proposal to build a major oil refinery. 

The fight was so profound that it was featured in 1971 in Life Magazine and resulted in the founding of an organization that ultimately became Save the Bay. Again, Durfee the trail blazer.

In the 1980’s she helped to clean up the aftermath at Rhode Housing after widespread corruption was found. In 1991, Governor Bruce Sundlun named her Director of the Department of Environmental Management and just three years later, he fired her.

So she ran against him in the Democratic primary for Governor. 



Ron Machtley 

Politician and University President

Rhode Islanders were first introduced to Ron Machtley in 1988 when he traveled around Rhode Island with a pig named Lester “Less” Pork to point out the wasteful spending of then-Congressman Fred St. Germain.

Machtley upset the 28-year veteran and Chairman of the House Banking Committee to take the Congressional seat. In 1994, he was the odds-on-favorite to win the Governorship, but was upset in the GOP primary by Lincoln Almond, who went on to serve eight years as Governor.

After his defeat, he was the surprise choice to serve as President of then-Bryant College. At first appearances it was a strange choice, but Machtley could not have turned out to be a better selection.

Under his leadership, the college transformed to a University, with massive improvements in the University’s campus, an elevation to Division I Sports, and an overall improvement in Bryant’s academic position. 

When he assumed office Bryant had a $1.7 million operating deficit and a tiny endowment. Today, the University’s endowment is nearing $200 million. Over the past 20 years, Bryant has become one of the most improved higher education institutions in America.



U.S. Senator Jack Reed


If this list of greatest living Rhode Islanders had been developed twenty years ago, it might have been rich with elected officials – the likes of Senators Claiborne Pell and John Chafee, the retired John O. Pastore and Bruce Sundlun, but today there are few with the gravitas of achievement of those politicians. 

However, there is the now-senior Senator from Rhode Island, who has a national reputation as an expert on issues of national defense and is a constantly rumored to serve as the Secretary of Defense.

The former Army ranger worked his way up the political ladder as a State legislator and Congressman before winning the Senate seat of the retiring Pell.

In a time of great diverseness, he is a rare member that has conversations across the aisle.



Trudy Coxe

Environmentalist and Historic Preservationist

Coxe has now headed three of the most most important preservation organizations in New England. As the long-time Executive Director of Save the Bay in the 1980’s and 1990’s, she was a powerful force in driving the preservation of Rhode Island’s open space and improvements to Narragansett Bay.

Coxe lost a close race for Congress against Jack Reed, but was later appointed head of the largest Environmental Agency in New England when then-Governor Bill Weld named her head of the Massachusetts environmental agency – the Department of Environmental Protection.

After a multi-year stint in the Commonwealth, she came back to Rhode Island to lead and transform the Preservation Society of Newport.  In that role she has helped to recpaitalize and modernize the non-profit that stewards the mansions and other assets in Newport and across Aquidneck Island.



Ken Read


No one on this list may be more accomplished in their individual field than Ken Read is to sailing. Twice the Rolex United States Yachtsman of the Year, three times leading America’s Cup yachts, and dominant in the Volvo Ocean Races for decades.

One could argue Read may be the most accomplished sailor in the world. He was a three-time college All-American at Boston University.

Today, he sails leading privately owned yachts and has been involved with the North Sail company. 



Michael Littman


There are few computer science professors that get tapped for their celebrity for a national television commercial (see below), but Brown University’s Littman is an academic rock star.  After ten years at Rutgers he left to join the faculty at Brown 

He leads an effort called Humanity-Centered Robotics Initiative (HCRI) in which Brown University aims to become a global leader in the field of creating robots that benefit, learn from, teach, support, and collaborate with people.

One of his recent journal articles he co-wrote was titled, “Learning behaviors via human-delivered discrete feedback: modeling implicit feedback strategies to speed up learning.”

His commercial was easier to understand — it has been viewed 550,000 times. 

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Johanne Killeen 


For decades the nicest restaurant in Providence might have been the old Rusty Scupper, but in the 1980’s, Johanne Killeen and George Germon not only transformed the restaurant scene in Providence, but also proved that small cities with brilliant chefs could compete.

Food & Wine honored Al Forno for launching ‘a new era of ambitious cooking in Providence [in 1980] with their thin-crusted grilled pizzas topped with superfresh ingredients.’ The editors singled out Al Forno’s Margarita Pizza (with house-made pomodoro, fresh herbs, two cheeses and extra virgin olive oil) as the signature item.

John Mariani, the food writer for Esquire put the new restaurant, Al Forno, on the national map by naming it the best new restaurant in America. Other food and travel magazines followed and the recognition transformed Providence, and as a result other mid-sized cities.

Al Forno put Providence on the food map and sparked many other creative and smart chefs. George Germon passed away in October of 2015. 



Terry Murray 


It has been a number of years since Terry Murray ran one of the biggest banks in America. In 2004, Fleet Bank was acquired by Bank of America. Even today, Bank of America is headed up by a former Fleet executive — Brian Moynihan.

In the 1990’s, Fleet was a superstar financial service firm — it gobbled up bank after bank in the U.S. and in 1999 Murray and Fleet made the biggest buy – acquiring BankBoston. The new FleetBoston was a megabank. 

FleetBoston was the seventh-largest bank in the United States, as measured by assets (US$197 billion in 2003). It employed over 50,000, served more than 20 million customers globally, and revenues of $12 billion per year.

Murray grew Fleet from a small RI community bank to a global player.



Farrelly Brothers

Movie Producers

The Cumberland brothers – Peter and Bobby – are two of the most prolific comedic movie makers in Hollywood. They created a genre of politically incorrect, slapstick humor that has generated billions in box office sales.

Their movies include Kingpin, There’s Something About Mary and Dumb and Dumber —  to name a few of their 15 movies.

The Farrelly Brothers also co-wrote one of the all-time great Seinfeld episodes — titled “The Virgin.”



Ojetta Rogeriee Thompson


In 1965 Thompson came to Providence from South Carolina to attend Brown University and never went home. Today, she serves on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals – one of the highest federal courts in America.

She was elevated to the seat previously held by Judge Bruce Selya.  Before serving on the court she served on the District and Superior Courts in the Rhode Island Courts.

Today, she serves on the Brown Corporation, the Board for College Unbound and Save the Bay.



Sid Abruzzi (Johnny Morocco)


Abruzzi is known as the “godfather of the New England surf/skate mafia.”

“With a face that launched a thousand spliffs, ‘The Package’ has skated, surfed, and partied over the last 50 years with no end in sight. After reaching rockstar status with Big World in the mid ’80s, Sid’s infamous Water Bros. Surf shop brought vert skating to the beaches of Newport, RI,” wrote Jim Murphy in Juice Magazine.

Before ESPN’s X Games (Extreme Games) or the Gravity Games were envisioned, Abruzzi was an innovator helping to create a movement and industry that was primarily a West Coast phenomenon.  



Duke Robillard


The blues guitarist and Woonsocket native is well-known locally for co-founding Roomful of Blues, but his presence on the national stage, performing with The Fabulous Thunderbirds and recording with the likes of Bob Dylan and Tom Waits has helped make Robillard a bona fide star in American music. 

He is a two-time Grammy nominee, won the W.C. Handy Award in 2000 and 2001 for Best Blues Guitarist, and in 2007 received a Rhode Island Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts.   But don’t take our word for it — Tom Clarke with Elmore Magazine extolled Robillard’s virtues when he reviewed “The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard” in 2015.”

“A jazz man, a front porch pickin’ blues man and one-time guitarist for Dylan. A string band, jug band, ragtime, delta, Louisiana, Appalachian folk and Jimmie Rodgers-country aficionado. A backwards traveler, but forward thinker. A writer and singer with distinct style, and a studio owner and in-demand producer. Did I miss anything? Duke Robillard may wear a handsome, if nondescript, lid lounging on the cover of The Acoustic Blues,but he almost literally wears a hundred hats—all of them damn well. It’s hard to believe any one man can be as prolific as this Rhode Island Duke of the blues,” wrote Clarke. 



John Ghiorse


Ghiorse may be Rhode Island’s most trusted and beloved television and digital news personality of all time. The Air Force Veteran and Harvard educated weatherman studied Meteorology at Penn State. He transformed weather reporting in Rhode Island and created his own branded measure — the Ghiorse Factor.

He first joined WJAR-10 in 1968, then moved to Channel 6 for nearly a decade and then back to WJAR. He retired from Channel 10 in 2009 and joined GoLocal and helped the digital media company launch its first site in 2010. He has delivered the daily Ghiorse Factor to GoLocal for the past five plus years. 

Ghiorse continues to be one of Southeastern New England’s most beloved news personalities.



Eugene Lee

Set Designer

If you have watched Saturday Night Live, the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon or many a production of A Christmas Carol at Trinity Rep, you have seen the work of Eugene Lee. He is one of America’s most creative and accomplished set designers.

The Providence resident has won three Tonys for Wicked, Sweeney Todd, and Candide. He has won multiple Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Set Design and has won an Emmy for the design of the set for Saturday Night Live.

He is a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame.



Claire Andrade Watkins


Rhode Island has always been one of the top destinations for Cape Verde emigres — and next month, Emerson College Professor and Brown University Fellow Andrade-Watkins, who grew up in Fox Point, will have a thirty year retrospective of her work at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. 

The subject? “Our Rhode: 30 Years of Cinema by and About Cape Verdian Rhode Islanders.”

Andrade-Watkins, a PhD, is Professor of Africana and Postcolonial Media Studies at Emerson, and is a Fellow at the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown (as well as a visiting scholar). She is the Director of the Fox Point Cape Verdean Project, President, SPIA Media Productions, Inc., and a pioneer of global, intercultural media, marketing and distribution.  Her CV of work and accomplishments is 17 pages long. 

In 2006 Dr. Andrade-Watkins released “Some Kind of Funny Porto Rican?” A Cape Verdean American Story” (SKFPR), the “popular and critically acclaimed feature documentary about the Cape Verdean community in the Fox Point section of Providence, RI, and the first in a trilogy of documentaries about this unique and important community of the Africana Diaspora,” states her Emerson bio. 

She’s won numerous awards including the 2008 Community Service Award from Fox Point Boys & Girls Club Alumni Association.



Freidrich St. Florian


St. Florian is one of the most accomplished and varied architects in America. At one extreme he was the architect of the critically acclaimed World War II memorial in Washington, DC and on the other he designed the Providence Place Mall.

St.Florian has won numerous awards for his architectural achievements. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome. His drawings are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris. In 2006 he was an awarded an honorary degree from Brown University.



Brad Read


Over the past few decades, Brad Read has built Sail Newport into a leading world class sailing education organization. Their programs vary from a partnership with the MET school  that introduces urban children to sailing to running world class sailing events. 

In 2015, Read was the driving force to bringing the Volvo Ocean Race to Rhode Island and then followed it up by leading the state’s effort to successfully bring the Volvo race back in 2017.

Read is a leading sailor, educator, facilitator, organizer and leader. His impact on Newport — and Rhode Island — has been remarkable. 



Gordon Wood


In a scene in the movie Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon humiliates a Harvard grad student by picking apart the student’s thesis regarding Wood’s “pre-revolutionary utopia.” (see scene below)

Matt Damon aside, Wood is one of America’s most accomplished scholars on the American Revolution — he won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for History for his work The Radicalism of the American Revolution. In 2010 he was awarded the National Humanities Medal.

He is the Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University. His list of academic awards over the past 50 years is unmatched – he is the leading Revolutionary era historian.


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Barrett Hazeltine

Business Mentor

For the past 60 years Hazeltine has been one of the most important educators at Brown University. While Brown does not have a traditional B-School like Penn’s Wharton, it does have one of the top American business mentors. According to many of the top business leaders in America, Hazeltine was a guiding influence on their careers.

A 2000 article in Brown Alumni Monthly unveiled in 2000 that 10% of the freshman class at Brown University took his “Engin. 9” class — short for Engineering 9.

Entrepreneurs as diverse as “Tom and Tom” (First and Scott, who met at Brown), Founders of Nantucket Nectars to John Koudounis, the CEO of Calamos Investment to Marques Coleman at Carlyle Group all identify Hazeltine as being a driving force in their business careers.



John Donoghue

Brain Scientist

Donoghue is one of the leading brain science researchers and entrepreneurs in the world. At Brown, he led the enhancement and growth of the Brain Science Center and his work to develop BrainGate, a mind-to-movement system developed in Donoghue’s lab.

Donoghue has published over 80 scientific articles in leading journals including Nature and Science. His work was featured on 60 Minutes and he has served on advisory panels for the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and NASA.

Presently, he is on sabbatical in Europe.



James Woods


The Warwick native is a two-time Academy award nominee and winner of a Golden Globe, and three time Emmy Award winner. His acting career ranges from The Onion Field to Casino and Nixon. 

More recently his voice work has been featured on The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Stuart Little 2.

Between TV, voiceover work and movies he has played roles in more than 100 productions.

Once dubbed as a genius by Business Insider for his attendance at MIT and his reported near perfect SAT score and IQ of 184.

Today he is a Republican activist and supported Ted Cruz for President.  



Arlene Violet


Violet was one of a group of pioneering women who changed the face of politics in Rhode Island.

Claudine Schneider had been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1980 in the 2nd Congressional District.  Susan Farmer won the Secretary of State post two years later in 1982. Violet was the first female Attorney General in the United States when she was elected by Rhode Island voters in 1984. The new decade had ushered in a new era in Rhode Island politics. All three were Republicans.

It was her work and the work of other women that set the stage for Governor Gina Raimondo to be elected Rhode Island’s first woman Governor in 2014.

Violet was beat in her re-election bid in 1986, but her political presence continued in the state.

She was a talk radio host.

She penned two books, Convictions: My Journey from the Convent to the Courtroom and Me and the Mob, a book about the witness protection program. Violet was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1996.



Meredith Viera


A native Rhode Islander, TV-journalist Vieira is one of the leading Portuguese Americans in the United States. She attended Lincoln School and Tufts before landing her first job in Worcester in radio and on television as a reporter at WJAR-TV in Providence.

Her hard news journalism bona fides were earned while working on the CBS news magazine West 57th, then as an investigative report for 60 Minutes.

Then in the late 1990s she shifted to more entertainment focused broadcast as a co-host to The View, hosting the game show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” co-hosting the Today Show and Dateline NBC. She hosted her own show, The Meredith Viera Show for two years.

More recently she has been involved with a range of event and initiatives in Rhode Island including speaking at RIC regarding her heritage — all four of her grandparents were born in the Azores. Last year, URI’s Harrington School of Communication traveled down to Viera’s show at NBC Universal.



Leon Cooper


Leon Cooper is Brown University and Rhode Island’s only Nobel Prize winner. 

Cooper won the Nobel Prize in 1972 for Physics (along with J. Bardeen and J.R. Schrieffer) for his studies on the theory of superconductivity. The winning work was completed while still in his 20s.

He has received seven honorary degrees from leading academic institutions from across the globe.

In the past few years, his work at Brown has focused on neural and cognitive sciences and has been “working towards an understanding of memory and other brain functions, and thus formulating a scientific model of how the human mind works.”



Ernie DiGregorio


There are certain athletes who transcend the game and elevate it from sports to a higher level of entertainment.  Ernie D. was one of those rare athletes. He was am epic story, the 6 foot guard from North Providence who helped to take the beloved Providence College Friars to the final four. His skills and showmanship helped to transform the game from fundamentals to entertainment along with players like Connie Hawkins, Pistol Pete Maravich, Dr. J, and then Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. They all may have had better and longer careers, but none of them put on any better a show.

His NBA career was cut short due to injury but in his first year in the league he dazzled and won the NBA Rookie of the year. He was the third pick in the NBA draft.

For Rhode Islanders at the time his achievements were mythical. He teamed with fellow local boy Marvin Barnes and put little Providence College in the same sentence with powerhouse programs like UCLA.



Elizabeth Beisel


Arguably the best swimmer to come out of Rhode Island, the Saunderstown native and North Kingstown high school grad first competed in the 2007 World Championships at the tender age of 14, placing 12th in the world in the 200 meter backstroke after advancing to the semi-finals. 

Beisel was the youngest member of the U.S. swim team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, finishing just out of medal contention with a fourth place in the 400-meter individual medley and fifth in the 200 meter backstroke.  Four years later in London, Beisel made it to the Olympic podium with a silver in the 400 meter individual relay and a bronze in the 200 meter backstroke. 

The SEC Female Swimmer of the Year in 2012, Beisel won two individual national titles and was an eighteen-time All-American at the University of Florida, and a first-team Academic All-American.  According to her USA Swimming bio, the college communications major had dreams as a child of being an actress, but now has professional aspirations of being a news anchor.  As someone accustomed to being in the headlines, it’s not hard to imagine we’ll be seeing more from Beisel in the future. 



George Wein


The Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals would not be among the top American music festivals were it not for Wein, who celebrated his 90th birthday last year. 

Trained as a jazz pianist, Wein might be Boston-born and educated, but it was the Newport Lorillards who invited Wein down in 1954 to the City by the Sea to establish the first outdoor jazz festival in the country.  Wein went on to form Festival Productions to promote large-scale jazz events, and has been well-lauded for his efforts — both nationally, and internationally.

In 1995, Wein received the Patron of the Arts Award from the Studio Museum of Harlem, and in 2004 given an Impact Award from the AARP. He was decorated with France’s Légion d’honneur and appointed a Commandeur de L’Ordre des Arts et Lettres (Commander of the Order of Arts and Literature) by the French government, and has been honored at the White House twice, by Jimmy Carter in 1978 and Bill Clinton in 1993. In 2005 he was named a “Jazz Master” by the National Endowment for the Arts. He has received honorary degrees from the Berklee College of Music and Rhode Island College of Music.

GoLocal’s Ken Abrams sat down with Wein for a one-on-one last summer — read more here.



Jeffrey Osborne


Grammy Award-winning Osborne, born and raised in Providence, came from musical lineage. His father, Clarence “Legs” Osborne was a trumpeter who played with the likes of Duke Ellington and Count Basie.  And the Osborne roots are firmly planted here — in 2012, the city named a portion of Olney Street “Jeffrey Osborne Way,” to honor him. 

Osborne’s biggest hits include “On the Wings of Love” and a duet with Dionne Warwick, “Love Power.” He wrote the lyrics for Whitney Houston’s “All at Once,”  appeared in the fundraising “We Are the World” video in 1985, and has sung the national anthem at multiple World Series and NBA finals games.

While Osborne is an international legend in his own right, his star status continues to grow and impact the community here through his charity work.  He’s done golf and softball classics, comedy nights, celebrity basketball games. And he brings in the big names, from Magic Johnson to Smokey Robinson to Kareem Abdul Jabbar — the list is extensive.  Osborne is the epitome of a “greatest Rhode Islander” — one who’s gone on to make the state proud, and keeps coming back to help use his celebrity to benefit the community. 



Tom Ryan


Ryan helped to build one of America’s Fortune 500 top 10 companies, as CVS is a leading retail and healthcare force in America. 

More recently, the URI pharmacy grad has been involved with two of the biggest initiatives in Rhode Island in the past few years.

He and his wife Anne donated $15 million to fund the George and Anne Ryan Center on Neuroscience at URI. The effort is one of the key elements in bringing together major educational and health organizations in a broad-based neuroscience initiative in Rhode Island.

Ryan’s neuroscience gift coupled with his fundraising leadership and donations to build the Ryan Center have made him the single biggest individual donor to URI. 



Ann Hood


Born in West Warwick and a URI grad, Hood is a best-selling novelist and short story writer; and the author of fifteen books, with her latest, The Book That Matters the Most, due out this August.

Hood has won two Pushcart Prizes, two Best American Food Writing Awards, Best American Spiritual Writing and Travel Writing Awards, and a Boston Public Library Literary Light Award. Her essays and short stories have appeared in The Paris Review, Ploughshares, and Tin House. Hood is a regular contributor to The New York Times’ Op-Ed page, and is a faculty member in the MFA in Creative Writing program at The New School in New York City.  Hood’s “An Italian Wife” was recently featured as a play at the Contemporary Theater Company in South Kingstown. 

Of Hood’s The Knitting Circle, The Washington Post wrote, “A wondrously simple book about something complicated: the nearly unendurable process of enduring a great loss.”  Fellow best-selling writer Jodi Picoult even asked if anyone could top Hood. “Is there anyone who can write about the connections of ordinary people better than Ann Hood?” posed Picoult. 

While her reach is worldwide, Hood, who is married to businessman Lorne Adrain, lives in Providence and is a fixture in the Rhode Island community.



Bob Ballard


Ballard found the Titanic.  And yes, he was a URI undergrad and now serves multiple leading roles at URI as a Professor of Oceanography; Director, Center for Ocean Exploration; and head of the Institute for Archaeological Oceanography.

Today, the Archeological Oceanography, which he started in 2003 is a unique institute “combines the disciplines of oceanography, ocean engineering, maritime history, anthropology and archeology into one academic program.” The institute involves a broad cross section of URI faculty and includes faculty from Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Florida State University, MIT and Woods Hole.

He is the rockstar face of oceanography in the world.



Jonathan Nelson


Nelson is one of America’s leading investors. In an era of Wall Street mega firms, Rhode Islander Nelson has built in Downtown Providence a $40 billion private equity fund  Providence Equity Group. 

Once the golden boys of private equity and lauded for putting together “the biggest deal in the world,” he and the firm have had a series of set backs.

The highest profile bump was the firm’s loss of nearly $800 million in the firm, Altegrity, that was contracted to review federal contractors like Edward Snowden.

As GoLocal previously reported, the domino effect of Snowden’s absconding with federal data bases exposed the deficiencies of Altegrity’s vetting process.

He has become more active as a philanthropist and is listed by Forbes richest in Rhode Island.



Dennis Littky


Littky is a rebel, a disruptor, an innovator, a trouble maker, and an educator.  They made a movie about him, Newsweek has featured his schools, President Obama talks about his schools and Bill and Melinda Gates gave him millions to grow, refine and scale is model of disruption.

In 2009, Littky defied all and created an alternative college and by 2015 the Rhode Island Council on Postsecondary Education approved College Unbound as a degree-granting postsecondary option in the state.

In Rhode Island, The Met School celebrated its 20th Anniversary this past week. Thousands of students who would not have finished high school have graduated and moved on to college, business and beyond.

There may be no more accomplished innovator than Littky.



Bill and David Belisle


Bill and David Belisle may be the best high school and youth coaches in history. Going by the statistics, the record of twenty-six consecutive state hockey championship (1978 to 2003) and a total of 32 may be a record never to be matched. Bill Belisle (the father) has coached at Mount for 42 years and his son David has been his assistant for years.

The younger Belisle made national headlines with his post game speech to the Little League team he was coaching was defeated in the Little League World Series.

Twice their players have been selected #1 in the NHL Draft, countless others played in the NHL, and dozens played college hockey. There are movies and books on the exploits of Mount Hockey under the Belisles. 

Photo courtesy of Dave Belisle



Nick Benson


There are few people in the world that are recognized as the very best in their craft, but Nick Benson of the John Stevens Shop in Newport is globally recognized as the best stone cutter in the world. 

Founded in 1705, The John Stevens Shop specializes in the design and execution of one-of-a-kind inscriptions in stone — the MLK Memorial, FDR’s Four Freedoms Park, and the inscription for the John F. Kennedy Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery, to name a few. 

Benson won a Genius Fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation, and was recently featured on CBS news. The John Stevens Shop is one of America’s longest continuously running businesses.



Viola Davis


Davis is one of the most accomplished actors in the United States. She is the winner of two Tony awards, an Emmy and a SAG award as well as being nominated for an Oscar.  With regards to her Emmy, she became the first African-American to win the Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 2015. Amazingly, she did not earn her SAG card until she was 30 years old.

Davis self-describes that she grew up in abject poverty in Central Falls and worked her way to Rhode Island College and now beyond but has been a constant force in helping Central Falls to recover from its bankruptcy and rebuilding its spirit.

She is a leading fundraiser for a range of Rhode Island causes.  Davis is the embodiment of the Rhode Island spirit and a model of how to overcome the greatest challenges to reach greatness.

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US Plastic Artist Exhibits in Cuba

escambray today, ben jones, plastic art, us plastic artists, american plastic artists

In 2014, Jones coordinated for the National Museum of Fine Arts the exhibition entitled Afro-American Artists and Abstraction. (Photo taken from plenglish.com)

Ben Jones lives in New Jersey and participated years ago in three collective shows in Havana and shared presentations with local musicians

US plastic artist Ben Jones expressed his dissatisfaction with the stance of US President Donald Trump, opposed to enhance relations between his country and Cuba, where he’s presenting a personal exhibition.

Most US citizens don’t like him, said the artist who recently arrived in Havana with some of his works that on exhibit at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, from July 21 to October 23, in the Transitional Hall of the Fourth level of the Universal Art Building.

Jones thinks that many of Trump’s voters are very racist and barely care about the environment, interested only about money, and do not want to accept that the world has changed.

Several doors between the United States and Cuba have been opened since the administration of Barack Obama, most of the people of my country want to come to visit Cuba and those who have already visited this island once, have a desire to return, he said in an exclusive interview with Prensa Latina.

I always advise everyone to go to Cuba to create their own opinion about the country, said Jones, who after so many visits -from 1977 to the date- feels already like a native of the Caribbean archipelago.

The artist has many friends in the island, including eminent figures of Cuban ballet. When he was young was also a folkloric dancer and within his plastic creation he has reflected more than once his passion for Yoruba culture.

The African root becomes a common element among the peoples of the United States and Cuba, but racial discrimination in his homeland sometimes reaches violence at the highest level and the murder of innocent civilians.

In recent years, a series of incidents involving police officers has mourned more than one African-American family, Jones denounces and questions it from his art, faithful to his generation, an essential protagonist of the struggle for civil rights in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s.

Jones grew up in the time of the Vietnam War, the Black Power and the Black Panthers, whose ideas motivated the emergence of the Black Arts Movement, from which he emerged as one of the main exponents.

In 1968, he was appointed advisor to the Black Freedom Society while enriching his style with elements of Expressionism, Action painting and Pop Art, influenced by Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg, exponents of this art movement.

Icons of US culture as singers Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Sarah Vaughan and African-American activists Malcolm X and Fannie Lou, appear in Jones’ works as obeisance to personalities who imposed their talent on the unjust social order of the time when they had to live.

As he recalled, Fitzgerald, Holliday and Vaughan, three of the most beautiful voices that his country has given to the world, despite being the stars of the shows, were forced to enter the hotels through the back door, among other discriminatory measures. In addition to racial segregation, different forms of violence such as wars take human lives, without distinction of race, and disrupt the souls of those who fight them.

According to Jones, many police officers have problems in Latino and African-American neighborhoods because they were soldiers who fought in Afghanistan or Iraq and now roam the streets of the United States very tense as if they had not yet left those countries.

In addition to the traumas for racial, gender and warmonger violence, Jones’ exposition in Cuba, under the title of Resistance, aims with a critical eye also at several environmental problems, such as the oil spill in the oceans, with terrible consequences for all living beings.

The artist recalled the oil disaster caused by British Petroleum Company in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, which destroyed the life of plants, fishes, birds and endangered coastal villages.

Where will the children live? What planet are we going to pass to the new generations? He asked in horror and immediately affirmed: We should and can give them a cleaner planet.

Jones’ family attended the inauguration of his first personal exhibition in Cuba, however, it should not be forgotten that this artist, who lives in New Jersey, participated years ago here in three collective shows and shared presentations with local musicians.

In 2014, Jones coordinated for the National Museum of Fine Arts the exhibition entitled Afro-American Artists and Abstraction, which was accompanied by about 80 Americans who visited art schools and art galleries in Havana.

Years ago I said: I’m going to visit Cuba, and now I just say: I’m going to visit my country, and everyone understands that I’m going to Cuba because my heart is in Cuba, he said.

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Middle Class Dreams: Can They Be Achieved?

Kevin Wilson and Gil Weinreich have published two interesting, thoughtful, and provocative posts here at S.A. on the status of the American middle class. Both find the American middle class to be in decline, and both have offered prescriptions about what to do about that. Wilson started the conversation and laid out the basic data on which their judgment is based. My 2015 book, The Education Solution, explored many of the same subjects and came to similar conclusions. You can find the citations to my data at www.the-education-solution.com . I am in basic agreement that the American middle class has not kept up economically. And I would aver in addition that its discontent has resulted in the election of the current President and in much of the gridlock in Washington.

Weinreich’s proposed solution is for Americans to have more children. A falling population, he reasons, not only makes it statistically difficult to create GDP growth but also makes it psychologically less likely that people will have the drive and optimism that have made America the envy of the world. It is a logical solution, but one that, you will see, I do not agree with.

Wilson summarizes the causes of the middle class problem this way:

Summarizing, then, it would appear that the major drivers of middle class decline have been: 1) Actual worker displacement due to globalization; 2) the steady decline of purchasing power due to inflation; 3) inequality resulting from the economic impact of the returns to labor declining as the returns to capital have climbed; and 4) distributional divergences as asymmetric rewards (“winner take all” trends) have grown, driven by educational and occupational differences between different groups. There may be some worker displacement due to automation and other technological advances, but it does not yet appear to be a major driving force in spite of popular wisdom to the contrary.

To redress these causes, Wilson argues for a number of policies, including more retraining of workers who lose their jobs, a national service program for young people to help them pay for education, and, if I read him right, higher labor rates and costs.

I also would note an irony in Wilson’s article in that he concludes by advising investors not to buy companies that are labor-intensive but to concentrate instead on those that have fewer workers. I think his investment advice is right. Company growth is more likely to come from Amazons (AZN) (fewer workers, more technology) than from Krogers (KR) (more workers, less technology). (To take an extreme example, Apple (AAPL) has about 80 times the market cap per employee as Wal-Mart (WMT).) The problem that large employers have in competing and attracting capital makes it very difficult for them to raise wages more than they have to in order to attract the talent they need—although perhaps they underestimate the quality of talent they need and would be better off paying more for better workers. Cf. here for a contrary view of employer responsibilities.

Regardless of whether Wilson and Weinreich have the right solutions, I salute them for setting the stage to discuss the fundamental question: What is government for at this point in 21st century America? Neither political party does a very good job of addressing that fundamental issue—but perhaps we should not expect coherent political science from such large aggregates of people who have constantly to compromise to keep their flocks more or less together.

The status of The American Dream

The fundamental role of American government today is to facilitate people’s ability to achieve The American Dream.

Sparing you the definitional history of The American Dream, I will simply assert that it is the opportunity of every American man and woman to achieve a comfortable lifestyle through hard work and to pass along that opportunity to their children. For many, it includes owning one’s own home or sending their children to college or living in a particular kind of neighborhood or attending a house of worship of their choice. For all, it means freedom from unnecessary coercion. Great wealth is not a necessary part of living the American Dream.

The Dream is not fundamentally comparative. It is not about keeping up with the Joneses. You do not have to be in the top X percent economically to achieve The Dream. But The Dream does change in substance over time. In 1939, the year of my birth, a television set was not a requirement. No one had one. By 1970, of course, it was a requirement. And being a materialistic society, requirements have kept pace with technological development. In that sense, The Dream is not static, even though I would argue that the basic premise has remained constant.

I guess everyone has their own idea as to the key points of The American Dream. But I hope you agree on one basic point: The American Dream is a middle class idea that is fundamentally economic in that other aspects of The Dream are not achievable without sufficient income. As a corollary, for the vast majority of Americans, sufficient income requires a job, or combination of jobs among the family, that pay a sufficient amount to achieve the basic goals. Thus, the first major public policy objective has to be about jobs.

Perhaps nostalgically, many people think The Dream was achievable in about 1970. Perhaps for some people it was. But the equivalent income in the 21st century cannot be achieved by the same means as in 1970. The world of 1970 does not exist and cannot exist. The myth of its desirable return is part of the problem because it results in a yearning/demand for a mythical—as opposed to a real—middle class. If it is to achieve The Dream, the 21st century middle class has to be substantially more educated than the middle class of 1970.

This article will focus on two things: one, how public policy could furnish the foundation for more and better jobs, and two, how class culture holds many people back from making progress toward their goals.

Public Policy and pursuit of The Dream

Most basically, government has to combine getting out of the way of business with assisting business formation and success, while at the same time affording consumers protection from over-reaching. About 70% of the U.S. economy is still personal consumption, while about 63% of Americans work, so we are consumers as much as we are workers.

Regulations designed to protect the environment or safety or to prevent fraud and overreaching are never perfect. They always could be improved, and many could be eliminated, since many overlap or have become obsolete. However, I am not one who believes that great economic strides can be made by reducing regulation. It should be attempted, but it is not a fundamental part of the solution.

Cultural aspects of the white middle class plight

I also will discuss the most controversial aspect of the white middle class plight—cultural norms and the mythical class that the current victim class wishes to create. By unflinchingly discussing these cultural norms, many readers will think me disrespectful of a large group of people “who just want to work hard and get a fair chance in life.” I am not, however, disrespectful of the people. I am only disrespectful of cultures—be they white, black or anything else—that refuse to change despite the fact they cannot succeed in the world in which we live. Those cultures, as I will discuss later in this article, retard the ability of their adherents to take advantage of even the best public policies.

That such sticky cultural indicia exist is not unusual. They are a common source of human difficulties.

Ditch the corporate income tax

U.S. public policies in the form of taxes and employment-related burdens on employers do not come close to maximizing the possibility of good jobs.

By taxing corporations instead of their stockholders, public policy puts American workers at a disadvantage. If we taxed stockholders instead of corporations, corporations would have lower costs and therefore they would have lower prices and would attract more business both domestically and internationally. That would tend to create jobs, as well as making higher wages less painful to the employers.

There are some complications in eliminating the corporate income tax for business corporations, but the complications are quite surmountable, once we have the political will. (The basic mechanism would be to tax not only dividends but also assets—cash, securities, etc.—not invested in the business—with special rules for real estate and financial companies.)

The political will can come from understanding that it is American workers who suffer most from the corporate income tax. A corporation is a juridical person, but the real parties in interest are its stockholders, and it is they who should pay the taxes. The change could be close to revenue neutral, so long as the stockholders paid at ordinary income rates. That would be fair and would not deprive corporations of capital because tax incentives for investment are not needed.

Clearing away the corporate income tax will make American businesses stronger because they will finance themselves more with equity and less with debt, the two then being on a par from a tax point of view. Businesses go bankrupt by not repaying debt; they do not have to repay equity. And that will make a significant difference in the depth of recessions, which will be less burdened by bankruptcies and the layoffs that are attendant to them.

Democrats hate the idea of eliminating the corporate income tax. But it is the right thing to do for American workers. Democrats should get over that aspect of their catechism. (Something Republicans hate is coming up next. Both need to give up a part of their false beliefs.)

Reduce the burden on employers hiring additional employees

Our laws burden employment with many things, including health care costs and unemployment insurance, both of which should be paid from more general taxes in order to make it more attractive to hire workers.

Get employers out of the health care business

The biggest non-wage cost of hiring is health care. Health care began to be paid by employers because it was deductible to them but not to employees. Obamacare exacerbated the situation by including the employer mandate for companies with over 50 employees.

“To keep up with the rising cost of health care in the U.S., employers doubled their spending on health care as a percentage of employees’ pay, from 5.7 percent in 2001 to 11.5 percent in 2015,” Ben Steverman reported on Bloomberg.com. The private insurance system did not keep health care costs in line for employers, who have both the clout and the incentive to do so. We need a better system.

A solution begins to come into view when we remove deductibility for employers (if they pay no taxes, they have no deductions).

As an alternative, we could make health care deductible for everyone. But that would be regressive taxation and would exacerbate inequality. We should not go there. We could continue to rely on insurance companies and individual purchases, with subsidies for those who cannot afford a specified level of care. That is about what Obamacare did and what both the House and Senate bills of 2017 would do, and almost no one likes the way it works.

But what Obamacare has accomplished—and it is a signal accomplishment—is that it has shown the American people that health care—at least up to some point—should be available to every American. That is the reason that Republicans really have not proposed repeal and why even the tinkering with various ways to reduce health care subsidies has been unable to pass Congress.

The obvious solution—one that most Republicans hate but that is nevertheless the right solution for everyone—is a single payer system that provides coverage up to a specified set of points, with people free to purchase additional coverage to serve them beyond those specified points. That solution becomes clearer once we eliminate the tax differentials and recognize that the genie of universal coverage cannot put back into the bottle. It would be best to focus on how best to design the single payer system in order to provide incentives for providers to be efficient and for patients to not to seek unnecessary care.

Most importantly, a single payer system would be paid for by general taxation, not by employers. (The exact form of the tax is important but not necessary for this article’s purpose.)

Employers should not have to pay for unemployment insurance

In most states, unemployment insurance is paid for by employers on a per-employee basis. And in many states, unemployment insurance is experiencebased. That is, employers pay for the insurance system based on the number of former employees who have received unemployment insurance. Although that system has a whiff of sense by seeking to dissuade employers from laying off people, it nevertheless is backwards. Employers employ people; they should be encouraged to do so, not threatened with costs for things that happen to every employer—especially to those that are struggling to make money. Unemployment insurance should come out of general tax revenues. It would eliminate a barrier to hiring and it might even result in higher wages.

American businesses have the capacity to grow

America has the best system of business finance the world has ever known. Many different types of well-funded intermediaries compete to invest in the most profitable projects and businesses. There almost literally is no limit to the amount of finance that is available for good ideas. The money will be available for private sector expansion, if the expansion can be profitable.

How many jobs would these policy changes create? I do not know. Would they be jobs that pay well enough to achieve the American Dream? I do not know.

The world evolves quickly. All public policy can do is make the playing field as attractive as possible for American companies to do business—and specifically to do business that uses employees. If we cut the costs of employers (1) by removing the corporate income tax, (2) by moving health care out of the cost structure, and (3) remove the unemployment insurance burden, then businesses will be able to do more business and will have greater incentives to do so by hiring more people—and paying them more. Reducing non-compensation costs is the best way to make American workers more competitive with workers from less affluent nations.

But the new jobs will require skills

The economic initiatives I have outlined are not, however, going to create large numbers of jobs for people without skills. Employers will still demand skills. Therefore an additional set of policy changes has to be designed to enable Americans—particularly young Americans—to become sufficiently skilled that they will be in demand. (Infrastructure improvements that are needed may provide some jobs for people with lesser skills, but my guess is that even most of the jobs created by infrastructure projects are likely to require modern skills. Therefore, by all means build infrastructure that the economy needs, but we should not do so in order to create jobs.)

How to provide a fair chance at the American Dream

If we want to make progress, we have to analyze what prevents less affluent children from having a fair chance to compete with their better-off peers. (I assume you will grant that less affluent kids do not have a fair chance to compete with their better-off peers. The data are everywhere, but if you have doubts, take a look at The Education Solution or at Richard Reeves’ recent book, Dream Hoarders.) A fair chance to compete educationally is at the heart of redressing both the problems of the middle class and the growth of inequality.

The fair chance has to begin at birth because children born to less affluent families (especially single-parent families) often are at a disadvantage in language, health care and nourishment right from the start. Society therefore should embrace free early education that is designed to enable all children to have the opportunity to get to kindergarten at the same stage of educational and emotional development. The details of my plan are in The Education Solution. The benefits of early education also are detailed at Nobel laureate James Heckman’s website https://heckmanequation.org.

Some may protest that the middle class does not need this early education system. Middle class parents do a good enough job on their own, they may argue. Perhaps that is so in many cases. But statistically, it is not true of single-parent households (which is a substantial percentage of young, white middle class households—see data cited by Thomas B. Edsall later in this article) or households where the parents are not well educated. The job of public policy is to enable as many American children as possible to be in a position to pursue The American Dream.

My program also looks to address the needs of substantially all young people for post-secondary education. We should look at post-secondary education as a continuum of educational types that students may choose after completing high school. I want to emphasize that all young people should complete high school before selecting a type of vocational education. There are two important reasons for this: 1) if selection comes at an earlier stage, less affluent students are likely to be shunted into less promising careers; and 2) in the world that young people are going to inhabit, a range of abilities that they cannot anticipate as teenagers are going to be necessary in order to make the adjustments that a successful working life is likely to entail.

Once it is time to choose a post-secondary school, government should be prepared to make up to a specified amount (I say $10,000 per year of full-time study in current dollars) by way of loans. But those loans should not bear interest and should be repayable only as a percentage of income—and required amounts should be payable as part of the former student’s income tax bill. (No defaults, no ifs, ands or buts.) Instead of interest, payments at a reduced percentage of income would be payable for ten years after the original amount was repaid. The idea is that the government takes an equity interest in the student. The details of the program are spelled out in The Education Solution. Such a program is gathering more and more adherents over the last two years, including some prominent Senators.

I have modeled the education aspects of my proposed program, and they produce a substantial surplus for the government over a 30-year period, but a deficit in the first 10 years. That temporary deficit is inevitable, given that the children who start at age zero take more than two decades to begin to pay effective dividends. The projections are available for audit at www.the-education-solution.com. The major benefits are quite obvious, however: Educated people make more money than uneducated people, they commit fewer crimes, and they use the safety net to a far lesser extent. Thus, over a long period, the government collects a great deal more in taxes and pays a great deal less in safetynet benefits and for police, courts and jails. Education is a long-term public good.

Class in America (not Marxist style)

The myth of a classless society in the U.S. has died hard. But it has died, and in its place are the realities of how people form groups and attachments and how they use conduct, tastes, and linguistic differences to keep others away and to signal to each other what class they belong to. David Brooks of the New York Times recently wrote intelligently about how such class systems work. See here. Those who would improve their economic lot must either become entrepreneurs or conform to the cultural norms of the economic class they wish to join.

A person (of whatever color) who wants to move from her own class to a higher one economically usually has to learn (and adopt, at least to some extent) the ways and language of the higher class in order to move into the higher class and to become comfortable there. Most obviously, this includes dress, manners, and speech. People often are held back by this necessity—and they are held back even more often by family and peer pressure not to change or not to be uppity. Such cultural difficulties should not be glossed over. Indeed, some aspects of cultural change (manners and speech, in particular) have to become a part of what the educational system accomplishes, if the educational system is to be successful in preparing students for 21st century work.

As Thomas B. Edsall wrote for the New York Times recently,

There is no question that the communities where Trump received crucial backing — rural to small-city America — are, in many ways, on a downward trajectory.

From 1990 to 2009, the percentage of births to single mothers among whites without high school diplomas grew from 21 to 51 percent; among those who completed high school, the percentage rose from 11 to 34 percent.

Along parallel lines, the percentage of intact marriages among white adults 25 to 60 years old without high school degrees fell from 70 percent in the 1970s to 36 percent in the 2000s. For those who finished, the percentage fell from 76 to 46 percent.

Almost literally, the mythical white middle class is falling apart, featuring early deaths due to opioid abuse and similar practices, failing marriages, and children preponderantly living with single parents. All these are, in the perception of the class that is being victimized, shameful indicia that they have been cheated at the expense of others, including blacks, immigrants and the upper middle class intelligentsia.

The joke on all of us, including members of the so-called middle class, is that the distressed middle class doesn’t want to be part of the real 21st century middle class. It wants to be members of a class that never existed except in myth. It wants to have good jobs without attaining education; it wants for wives not to have to work outside the household; it wants children to live in a Leave-It-To-Beaver neighborhood.

But to be members of the real 21st century middle class, people of the now-mythical middle class have to change culturally, and many of them do not want to do so. The background of this riddle is explained from different perspectives in Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance and in White Trash by Nancy Isenberg, as well as in numerous other books and articles.

Here are some excerpts from the Introduction to Hillbilly Elegy, where J.D. Vance, who grew up in a blue-collar family in an Ohio steel town but managed to go to Yale Law School, has explained the cultural problem as simply and eloquently as anyone:

I want people to understand the American Dream as my family and I encountered it. (p. 2)

I nearly gave in to the deep anger and resentment harbored by everyone around me. (p. 2)

We do not like outsiders or people who are different from us, whether the difference lies in how they look, how they act, or, most important, how they talk. (p. 3)

From low social mobility to poverty to divorce and drug addiction, my home is a hub of misery. (p. 4)

We’re more socially isolated than ever, and we pass that isolation down to our children. (p. 4)

It’s about reacting to bad circumstances in the worst way possible. It’s about a culture that increasingly encourages social decay instead of counteracting it. (p. 7)

There is a lack of agency here— a feeling that you have little control over your life and a willingness to blame everyone but yourself. (p. 7)

Vance is describing the particular part of the white middle class that he came from—the part that came north (in his family’s case, to Ohio) from Appalachia to work in manufacturing. But the syndrome he describes is similar to what affects many other sub-groups in the areas of the Midwest where the hollowing out of manufacturing has left many people without jobs that they consider worth their efforts.

The mythical middle class (of which Vance’s family is a part) know the joke is on them. That is why they voted for Trump, who promised to create a world that never existed in which they could keep their cultural identity but succeed to real 21 st century middle class economic status nevertheless. That cannot work, no matter what government does. And it is a very sad joke indeed because it appears that the same class of less educated people who live outside the coastal cities is at risk of further job losses through automation. See, e.g., James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute here.

Black Americans suffer from a similar cultural malady. Although the focus of this article is on the white middle class, one should note that black Americans also have created their own class that at the same time keeps others out and keeps its members down economically. That is not to say there is no discrimination against black Americans. There is plenty. But the interplay between the mythical white middle class and the black class has been a corrosive element of American life through the last 50 years that has held both sides back from accomplishing their economic goals and from achieving elements of The American Dream.

(One of the ways to reduce the enmity between the white middle class and the black community would be to do away with affirmative action. It generates too much resentment among whites—and at the same time, it makes its black beneficiaries wonder whether they really are any good at what they do. Affirmative action may have been a good idea in 1965, but we are over 50 years on, and it no longer benefits the nation. Instead, it drives a wedge not only between those who get the positions and those who believe they have been shut out of the positions despite better qualifications, but also between the entire classes of people who identify with the two sides.)

Cultural change

Most people who want 21st century jobs will have to conform to prevailing norms of manners, dress and speech in order to get them and to succeed at them. The people at the top are not going to change culturally, except as they choose to do so. Those coming up have to adapt to achieve their goals. This is not a new reality. When I—a Jewish kid from the Bronx—joined a Wall Street law firm in 1966, I understood the cultural rules and adapted.

People are entitled to their own cultural norms—it’s a free country, as the saying goes—but they/we have to accept the consequences of adhering to our cultural norms. There is a price, and each of us has to adapt or pay the price.

It is only by talking about the impact (which is taboo in many circles) that people can come to understand the consequences of cultural mores. No one has to change, but everyone should understand the choices and their consequences.

Middle class economics and GDP growth

You may have noted that I have not mentioned GDP growth or its components: population and productivity. The basic reason for that omission is that GDP growth in itself is not an economic good. The economic good is the ability of more people to achieve The American Dream. At the same time, adopting the policies that I have outlined above is almost certain to increase productivity (see my writing on productivity here and here) and GDP, regardless of whether it results in population growth.

Long-term goals for the survival of human life on this planet may even not be consistent with continued population growth. Humans—and even Americans—may have to learn to create economic prosperity without population growth. That means we will have to measure prosperity some other way than GDP—perhaps a way that more directly measures the success of people in achieving The American Dream. Such indicia might include, for example, median real income of a defined type of family. If everyone who wants one has a job that pays a wage sufficient to achieve The American Dream, then growth be damned, let’s all work hard and enjoy life.

The economic numbers can work with a slightly declining population so long as a larger proportion of that population is working and paying taxes, while a smaller proportion is receiving more than they are contributing. Basically, it is a question of “plus and minus” hockey players. Those we call plus are on the ice when their team is scoring more goals; those who are minus are on the ice more for other teams’ goals. A nation of plus hockey players need not worry about whether its population is growing or shrinking. (The impact of a static population on social security is outlined in The Education Solution.)

It is work—and the dignity of work—that creates a successful middle class. That is something that even those who resist cultural change can embrace. It is the saving grace that would enable a transition from yearning for a mythical time that never existed to a time when, through education and greater cultural homogeneity, vastly more Americans could become successful.

Positive results require a better understanding of the 21st century world

If you were hoping I had a magic bullet, well, obviously, I don’t have one. The U.S. emerged from WWII victorious, with millions of men coming home from war anxious to work and to make a life for themselves and their children. The rest of the world was on its back due to the fighting having taken place there, so the U.S. had little competition. And for 25 years or so we flourished in that environment. But many Americans did not notice that the world was changing. People in other nations were catching up, and the unity that the war had created was fraying, especially as government engaged in less popular wars. Technology changed apace, so the nature of work changed as well, but too many Americans did not notice that, either, or thought it did not apply to them or to their progeny. In that climate, the nation’s needs were misunderstood; the wrong changes were made; the wrong things allowed to stagnate. The nation continued to be the best place to live and the best place to thrive economically because of freedom and a spirit of entrepreneurship. But the rot in the middle grew. Now we need a different way of looking at things—not a Democrat way, not a Republican way, but a realistic way that discards the failed ideologies of both sides and substitutes policies that work to create more opportunity for a larger proportion of Americans.

Most of us share some of the blame for such a large part of the American population not having a fair opportunity to achieve The American Dream in the 21st century. Let’s try to re-imagine the spirit of unity that enabled the great middle class of the post-WWII years. We can have just as great a real 21st century middle class.

Again, my thanks to Kevin Wilson and Gil Weinreich for generating this conversation at seekingalpha.com. Seekingalpha is devoted principally to our members’ investment success, but important more general conversations about economic subjects may have the largest impact on the success of our future investments, as well as on the lives of our children and grandchildren.

Disclosure: I am/we are long AAPL.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

How the Left Can Win in the South

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The fact that the 11 states that made up the Confederacy all held their Democratic primaries by March 15 didn’t help. “One of the biggest problems was time,” says Justin Bamberg, a state representative from South Carolina and the lawyer for the families of Walter Scott, Keith Scott, and Alton Sterling. Bamberg switched his endorsement from Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders in January 2016. “Bernie picked up momentum as time went on, but there just wasn’t enough time for people down here to get to know him, particularly when you’re running against someone with 100 percent name recognition.”

Because of the Democratic Party’s virtual disappearance in the Deep South outside of urban areas, the circle of influential voices has gotten tighter. “In the South, when it comes to Democratic elections, black churches carry a lot of weight,” Bamberg says, “and your ability to get into those circles makes a big difference in how well you’re gonna do in your campaign.” Clinton was able to do this in a way Sanders wasn’t.

Jillian Johnson, a left-wing City Council member from Durham, North Carolina, who supported Sanders, says that the campaign’s opening stumbles on race issues, such as a disastrous appearance at Netroots Nation, were critical. “Not being able to speak competently about race issues was a huge issue for Bernie, and I think that’s really important,” she says.

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Sanders’s failure to win over black voters, owing to all of these factors, was disastrous. In order for the left to win in the South, it must demonstrate an ability to create a strong and sustainable coalition in spite of the one of the main historical obstacles to progress in America: racism.

“When you look at the history of the American South, you often need at least some cross-racial collaboration,” says Robert Greene, a PhD candidate at the University of South Carolina. “But the problem is that, so many times in Southern history, racism has been used as a wedge between white and black Southerners who might otherwise have some common ground on key issues.”

Bamberg, who represents the rural, majority-black Bamberg County in the South Carolina legislature, says Sanders’s emphasis on economic justice may resonate with voters who usually see no reason to vote. “Hell, come to where I live, we have a city where the average family makes $15,000 a year…. It’ll take time for things to change, but the seed has been planted and it’ll continue to be watered.”

As the nonprofit Feeding America notes, the South has the highest rural-poverty rate of any region in the country—25 percent. Some of these rural poor are Democrats, some are Republicans, many don’t vote at all—but none of them are benefiting from austerity policies. Turning non-voting poor and working-class people into reliable voters is a viable strategy, but it requires a plan to make their lives better.

It also means reaching African Americans—particularly older African Americans—in a way that Sanders wasn’t able to. That takes organizing and investment in years where there isn’t a presidential election, rather than writing off the region as unwinnable. Sanders’s woes in the South reflect “the degree to which presidential campaigns are not the right place to change the overall dynamics of a political party,” Jamelle Bouie wrote during last year’s primary. “To win over black voters, Sanders and his supporters needed to spend time in black communities, becoming a part of their politics—a trusted partner.”

A winning strategy must also take into account the changing demographics of the South, and the potential to meld new constituencies into a winning coalition. “When people think of the Latino vote, they tend to think of it in the Southwest or West, but in fact the Latino vote is nationwide,” Greene says. “And in states like the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, states that have larger and larger numbers of immigrants coming in from Central America and Mexico, we really need to start thinking about how to build a coalition that also includes them.”

There is historical precedent for such a multiracial progressive campaign in the South—including one that Sanders himself was a part of. In 1984 and 1988, Rev. Jesse Jackson ran for president on a platform that tied social-justice issues like police accountability, voting rights, and civil rights to economic issues like farm debt.

“As the Rainbow Coalition reaches beyond its primary constituency to include an array of new ones, the values espoused are incorporated into the growing movement,” The Nation’s editors wrote in their 1988 endorsement of Jackson. “When unionists, feminists, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, students, civil libertarians and community activists join or endorse the Rainbow campaign, they contribute their ideals and their energies while they share the coalition’s strength.” Jackson eventually finished runner-up in his second run for president, winning 11 contests during the primary. The majority of his wins came in Southern states: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia.

“Jackson was able to make specific appeals to poor white voters based around class issues,” Greene says. “It wasn’t just about fighting racial injustice, even though that was at the core of his platform. He also spent a lot of time talking about economic injustice, to an extent that, even in the 1980s, most Democrats weren’t really comfortable with.”

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Thirty years later, civil-rights leader Rev. Dr. William Barber is carrying on the tradition that dates back to the late-19th-century Fusionist movement in North Carolina. As he wrote in The Nation:

After the Civil War, newly freed African Americans found common cause with white North Carolinians, wrote a new state constitution and founded the South’s first public-school system. In the 1890s, their political descendants formed an interracial “Fusion coalition” of white populists and black Republicans, which won the governorship and every state-wide office in 1896. White conservatives overthrew the Fusionist government by force and fraud, installing a one-party state that disfranchised blacks and ushered in lynch law and Jim Crow segregation. Still, the memory of fusion politics did not die.

Barber’s Moral Movement—inspired by the legacy of fusion politics—offers perhaps the best blueprint for building a broad-based coalition in the South. Over the past six years of Republican control in state government, Barber’s Moral Movement has grown out of opposition to the marriage of social and economic conservatism behind policies like heavy cuts to public services and the anti-trans, anti-worker “bathroom bill” HB 2.

The Moral Movement’s annual march draws tens of thousands of people from social-justice groups working on immigration, labor and workers’ rights, environmental justice, civil rights, and health care. This year, in the wake of Trump’s election, the state NAACP said it was their largest march thus far. “I like to say we have blacks, whites, Latinos, young, old, we have rural, we have urban, we have gay, we have straight, we have Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Hindu all coming together in the Deep South,” Barber told Sanders in a conversation in February.

Despite its losing the Democratic nomination, one outcome of the Sanders campaign that seems to be enduring is the popularization of democratic socialism all across the country, including in the South. Democratic Socialists of America has seen membership more than double since November, from over 8,000 in the day before the presidential election to over 24,000 currently. According to its website, DSA currently has 40 DSA chapters, organizing committees, and YDS groups in the former Confederate states. Many of these are brand new. (Full disclosure: I’m a member of the North Carolina Piedmont DSA.)

And leftist candidates have already been winning local elections in the South. In April, the DSA- and Our Revolution–endorsed khalid kamau won election to a City Council seat in the newly chartered city of South Fulton, Georgia. And in June, the leftist Chokwe Antar Lumumba won the mayoralty of Jackson, Mississippi, and pledged to make Jackson the “most radical city on the planet.”

Johnson, who was elected to the Durham City Council in 2015, has shown the importance of left-wingers at the city level by pressing progressive policies in a state that’s been dominated by Republicans for almost a decade. Johnson has won reforms in key areas like marijuana de-prioritization and a $15 minimum wage for all city employees. Right now, Johnson is pushing for participatory budgeting in Durham.

Johnson’s suggestions for building the left at the local level and beyond are simple: run a diverse slate of candidates, invest in local progressive causes, and—perhaps most importantly—organize around people, not elections. “There will be moments when national organizations want to fund the South, but in between major elections, there’s nothing,” she says. “We can be working to build community engagement all the time. There’s a real danger in only building a structure around elections.”

Labor has traditionally been a key factor in organizing the left’s base in non-election years. Unions provide an entry point into politics for the working class. In March, Sanders, former Ohio state senator Nina Turner, and NAACP president Cornell Williams Brooks rallied for workers’ rights at a Nissan factory in Mississippi (the state where Sanders got his second-smallest share of primary votes, after the US Virgin Islands). “If Mississippi Nissan workers succeed,” Sanders said, “it will send a powerful message in the South and across this country that working people are prepared to fight for justice.”

But unions are up against the weight of history. While organized labor is starting to make a stronger push in the region, the South has traditionally been one of the least unionized areas of the country, dating back to Jim Crow. The AFL-CIO’s current campaign to organize the South has seen some crushing blows recently, like the February defeat of a union at a Boeing plant in South Carolina. But a few recent victories, including in pushing local Democrats officials to the left on workers’ rights in places like Miami and Dallas, offer glimmers of hope. For that reason, fighting to overturn legal obstacles to labor in the South—such as restrictions on collective bargaining for public-sector unions—is a critical battle, even if it promises to be a long one.

To be sure, there are stark challenges facing the left in the South. But from the late-19th-century Fusionist movement in North Carolina to West Virginia’s rich labor history to the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, victories for racial and economic justice have started in the place where rights have been trampled the most. And the backlash against that progress has roots in the South as well: Jim Crow as retribution for Reconstruction and, more recently, the emergence of Tea Party rule in the Obama era.

“We have to look at this as a deeply long-term strategy, they can’t just look at this in terms of the next election or the next cycle,” Greene says. Building a successful Southern left—one that not only harkens back to the successes of the Fusion alliance and the Rainbow Coalition but institutionalizes change in the South in a way those movements were ultimately unable to—is a project that may take years, even decades, to bear fruit.

And in order to win, Greene says, it’s going to take an organized effort by all of these groups on the left—Our Revolution and the DSA included—to support the movements that have been doing work here for years. “I think providing a support role, and helping those campaigns link up with each other and really build a broad-based coalition, is really where the future of the party or the future of progressivism lies in the South,” Greene says.

“Clinton really got into the South hard,” Turner remembers from the primary. “The lesson to be learned there is to get in there now, and to build the relationships now…. what Reverend Barber has done is nothing short of spectacular. So it’s getting in there and doing the work [to support that]. We’re not coming in there to dictate.”

Trump’s Obama Derangement Syndrome isn’t really about Obama

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