Interview with a Popular Educator: Ty dePass (1 of 2)

June 17, 2011 — Maz
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Q: Ty, what's your story, and how did you get involved in popular education for social change?

Whew! That’s a packed question.

Well, I’m a black man, eldest of seven and raised in Harlem and the South Bronx. I came of age during the social ferment of the 1960s – a time that shaped my understanding of the world as it was, and quickened my hunger to play a part in shaping the world as it might be.

The fight for social justice found me at a young age. I was six-years-old in 1955, when I discovered those photos from Emmett Till’s autopsy and funeral in a magazine in my parent’s livingroom. Till had been brutally beaten and murdered by a group of white men because he was young and foolish, and had broken one of their most sacred cultural taboos: he forgot his “place” in White America.

Those horrifying images brought my childhood to an abrupt end, and I became the black kid who refused to comply.

Interview with a Popular Educator: Ty dePass (2 of 2)

June 17, 2011 — Maz
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Q: Ty, would you share with us a specific instance in which you witnessed the effectiveness of popular education?

The D7 RoundTable was a community-based organization focused on the struggles against racism, violence, and poverty in Greater Roxbury – Boston’s poorest, brownest, most culturally-diverse, and politically-marginalized neighborhood. For eight years, from 2000 to 2008, D7 convened a monthly grassroots public policy forum, bringing residents of Roxbury and Boston's other progressive communities together to examine, debate, and exchange opinions on a host of critical issues and public institutions.

In the spring of 2001, Boston’s public schools were being criticized for an evident “achievement gap,” as reflected in the scores of mandatory standardized tests. D7 dedicated one of its regular monthly forums to exploring the issue – specifically, the factors contributing to the “gap” in student test performance.

The nearly one hundred community members who attended the forum were seated at tables of with 8 to 9 of their neighbors. On each table was an information packet providing a detailed profile of a selected area school district or local high school.

The popular education exercise was divided into three rounds. In round one, participants were tasked with becoming “experts” on their data packets...

The Bush Tax Cuts Ten Year Hangover

June 7, 2011 — Maz
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Ten years ago, the great con known as the Bush tax cuts was signed into law.

We were told that the budget surplus left by the Clinton administration would be better off in the hands of the taxpayers. Those tax breaks were to stimulate the economy, create jobs and lead us all to the American Dream.

Of course, the story of the past decade has been much different:

The lion's share of the tax breaks were stuffed into the pockets of a small percentage of taxpayers. The top 10 percent of earners received 55 percent of the tax benefits; the top 1 percent alone grabbed 38 percent. And, at the tip top of the income scale, the top .01 percent of households snatched an average cut of $520,000, or 450 times the average break for a middle-income family.

The current unemployment rate of 9.1 percent is more than double the rate in the same month a decade ago. In more human terms, 13.7 million people are currently looking for work but can't find a job. But those figures are upwards of 76 percent higher if we include the under-employed and folks discouraged by a still-thin job market.

As for the American dream of white picket fences and a home to call your own, overall home foreclosures were two-and-a-half times above the 2001 rate by the end of 2010. Today, roughly 3.7 million homes are in danger of foreclosure.

Undocumented Workers Pay More in Taxes than GE

May 8, 2011 — Maz
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The problem with President Obama's commitment to "comprehensive immigration reform" is that, like George W. Bush's, his measures thus far also antagonize immigrants – documented or not. But why antagonize working immigrants during this severe an economic crisis? Even undocumented workers are significant contributors to the U.S. economy, having paid over $11 billion in taxes last year.

A People's Budget vs. A Path to Disparity

April 25, 2011 — Maz
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Two very different federal budgets were considered this month by the U.S. House of Representatives: Rep. Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity," which was approved by the House, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus' (CPC) "People's Budget." While both have their ideological streaks, only the latter assumes a firm and rational position on deficit reduction without economic gimmicks claiming that lower taxes will miraculously produce additional revenue.

INTERVIEW: Movement Building with Popular Economics Education

April 25, 2011 — Maz
Center for Popular Economics logo

Emily Kawano, UFE board member and director of the Center for Popular Economics, and UFE's Steve Schnapp joined Cynthia Lin of WORT-FM in Madison, WI, the epicenter of recent GOP attacks on public workers, to explain the power of popular economics education in building a movement for economic justice. 

They also discuss the role of movement support organizations – like UFE – in supplementing, enhancing and amplifying the work of grassroots social and economic justice groups across the country.

Click here to download the interview (forward to 27:45 to hear from UFE's Steve Schnapp).

INTERVIEW: Tax Rate on Money Made from Money Must Be Higher

April 21, 2011 — Maz
Workers Independent News logo

UFE's Mazher Ali shares news of Responsible Wealth's "Tax Wealth Like Work" campaign on Workers Independent News' Labor Radio, emphasizing progressive tax policy as a common sense measure to help avoid slash and burn budget measures that exacerbate the economic crisis and hurt the most vulnerable citizens. Taxing investment income the same as wages and salaries would raise more than $80 billion annually.

Click here to download the interview.

INTERVIEW: Tax Justice Activism for 2011

April 20, 2011 — Maz
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UFE's Federal Tax Policy Coordinator, Lee Farris, joined Linda Pinkow, host of "What's Left," to spread word about ways people can get involved in the fight for federal tax and budget justice.

Click here to download the interview (forward to 19:15 to hear from UFE's Lee Farris).

New Website! • Obama A Psychic? • We Need Your Support!

April 15, 2011 — Maz
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It's the week before tax day, and there's been a storm of activity at UFE. We launched a shiny new website with interactive features. And, we jump-started our 2011 Responsible Wealth Tax Fairness Pledge. This year's slogan: 'TAX WEALTH LIKE WORK!'

INTERVIEW: Do Tax Breaks for the Rich Help the Economy?

April 15, 2011 — Maz
radio waves

Responsible Wealth Director Mike Lapham joined Julie Dougherty and Ken Morgan, hosts of Money Radio's "Business for Breakfast" (Phoenix, AZ), to explain the failure of tax breaks for the wealthy, and to urge Arizonans to join RW's "Tax Wealth Like Work" campaign to tax investment income like wages.

Click here to download the interview.

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