E-news November 2007

A Special Dispatch to Help You Fight for a Fair Economy

Zai Hui (Goodbye) to our Executive Director

Executive Director of United for a Fair Economy, Meizhu Lui, has decided to pursue other ventures beyond UFE at the end of November. During six years of impassioned work, Meizhu has greatly advanced the scope and operations of UFE. We cannot express fully the gratitude we have for her, and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.

We are using the transition time as an opportunity to assess how UFE is doing overall and to think carefully about the type of leadership we need, given where we are today and where we need to be in the future. We are already hard at work on this task, assisted by a terrific consultant from Third Sector New England and supported by funding from the Barr Foundation.

During this transition time, we continue an ambitious set of program activities, led by Interim Co-directors Brenda Cotto-Escalera and Mark Schmitz.

Predatory Lending Becomes Prey

UFE continues to lend a hand in the Gulf Coast, partnering with the Louisiana Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) and the NAACP to draw attention to the role ¬- actually, the lack thereof - of banks and financial institutions in getting people back into their homes. We hope that pressure like this will force banks to become better community partners in rebuilding the Gulf Coast region. Read our report here, and the NCRC report here.

A bill in the U.S. House (HR 3915) could help. Aimed at curbing predatory lending and setting fair play rules for the mortgage industry, it would have a direct impact on UFE's and NCRC's projects in the Gulf Coast region. NCRC has provided a simple and quick method for you to contact Congress and express support for this legislation - we urge you to make your voice heard. Read more about the bill here.

For a hilariously depressing take on predatory lending by former Microsoft employee Matt Lerner and others, see the parody website predatorylendingassociation.com.

Become an Economic Justice Trainer

If you've ever considered doing more for economic justice, mark your calendar for next April. That's when we're holding the first of three UFE Training of Trainer Institutes. Whether you are a trainer, teacher, activist, or a social change leader, you will learn a set of key principles and practices - tools for your work - based on popular education methods, and within an economic inequality frame. Learn more.

If you know people who might be interested, please copy and paste this article (including the link to more info) and circulate as widely as possible.

Community Organizers Needed

How about working for social justice and getting paid for it? The Direct Action and Research Training (DART) Center is looking for applicants to its paid leadership training program, which is dedicated to producing powerful community organizers to combat injustice and the systems that feed it. Learn more.

Warren Buffett's Betting a Million for Fairer Taxes

Warren Buffett, America's second wealthiest man, has recently bet $1,000,000 against any fellow member in the Forbes 400 who can prove that they don't pay a lower tax rate their secretaries. So far, he has no takers, but he's really pushed the discussion of progressive taxes along. Read the post on Warren Buffet Watch or see the Forbes article.

Estate Tax Repealers Hard of Hearing

Warren Buffett testified in Congress in support of the estate tax on November 14 at the first of two promised hearings. He said, ""Dynastic wealth, the enemy of a meritocracy, is on the rise. Equality of opportunity has been on the decline. A progressive and meaningful estate tax is needed to curb the movement of a democracy toward a plutocracy." Read the full transcript.

See a video of UFE-staffer Mike Lapham talking about the estate tax on CNBC's Power Lunch show.

One Estate Tax Battle is Won, but the War Rages On

On October 10, the effort to keep the estate tax gained huge momentum. The U.S. House voted down a bill, 212-196, to permanently repeal the tax. During the Bush administration, the House has voted to repeal the estate tax 5 times, and this change of heart is central to defeating future costly estate tax proposals. We hope you will join us in the fight to keep a fair estate tax by calling your Senators and Representatives and writing letters to the editor. If you'd like to submit written testimony on the estate tax to the Senate Finance Committee, please contact lfarris@faireconomy.org">Lee Farris.

UFE Board Member Honored

UFE board member and co-founder S.M. (Mike) Miller, who also sits on the Poverty and Race Research Action Council board, was honored at the recent annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in New York City by a panel discussion of his writings and influence as an activist, academic, and networker. Speakers included Frances Fox Piven and Herbert Gans, past ASA presidents. Mike spoke on "Ideas for Action - Ideas from Action." And in June, he was the inaugural lecturer at the Jean Baker Miller Training Institution at Wellesley College, where he spoke of his late wife's "double consciousness" as a feminist psychiatrist and activist. Read more about Mike on our website.

Responsible Wealth Member Aims for Congress

Responsible Wealth (RW) member William Foster of Geneva, IL, has declared that he will seek nomination to succeed Dennis Hastert in the House of Representatives after he retires. Foster has been an active RW member, participating in numerous RW activities including press conferences in Chicago and a lobby day in Washington. Visit his campaign site here.