Monthly Archives: July 2014

Community pulls together to help library

Reprinted courtesy of: Beaver County Times, Rochester, PA and ilovelibraries.org on December 6, 2013 

By: Marsha Keefer

Faced with an ever-shrinking budget, Terri Gallagher, director of the Rochester Public Library, resorts to creative thinking to offset the losses in her attempt to keep the doors open.

community1Sometimes, she feels like a huckster peddling purses and jewelry, selling raffle tickets to Steelers’ games, conducting paranormal investigations of the Civil War era building, and hosting Victorian teas or champagne poetry nights with Robert Frost.

Though a firm believer that library programs should be free, Gallagher realizes that additional income must be generated to continue existing programs, buy books and computers, pay staff and maintain the building on Adams Street.

Since she took over as director seven years ago, Gallagher said the Rochester library has lost about half its government funding, now operating on a $60, 000 annual budget, because of cuts at the state level and an eroding local tax base.

“That’s huge,” she said. “That’s huge. Trying to make that up is so difficult.”

The situation, however, is not unique to the Rochester library.

Fifty-seven percent of libraries noted flat or decreased operating budgets in fiscal year 2011, up from 40 percent in fiscal year 2009, according to the American Library Association.

Half report insufficient staff to meet patrons’ job-seeking needs and 65 percent report having an insufficient number of computers to meet demand. A study by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, as reported by the Daily Beast, said 274 public libraries closed between 2009 and 2010. “It’s gotten really close, “Gallagher said of Rochester’s situation, running on what she calls a “bare-bones strategy.”

Many libraries, Rochester included, have been forced to scale back resources, lay off staff, and operate on reduced hours, unfortunately at a time when services are needed most, she said.

In the last decade, ALA said library visits have more than doubled.

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‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ finally going digital

Reprinted courtesy of: WisconsinGazette.com and ilovelibraries.org on May 23, 2014

By: Hillel Italie

Harper Lee has signed on for Scout, Boo Radley and Atticus Finch to enter the electronic age.

tokillamockingbirdFilling one of the biggest gaps in the e-library, “To Kill a Mockingbird” will become available as an e-book and digital audiobook on July 8, HarperCollins Publishers announced Monday. Lee, in a rare public statement, cited a “new generation” of fans in agreeing to the downloadable editions of her Pulitzer Prize-winning classic.

“I’m still old-fashioned. I love dusty old books and libraries,” Lee, who turned 88 on Monday, said through her publisher. “I am amazed and humbled that ‘Mockingbird’ has survived this long. This is ‘Mockingbird’ for a new generation.”

Monday’s announcement came almost exactly a year after Lee sued her former literary agent, Samuel Pinkus, in order to regain rights to her novel. Lee, who lives in her native Alabama and has been in frail condition, had alleged she was “duped” into signing over the copyright.

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A TALE OF TWO PAYCHECKS

July 4, 2014, by Elizabeth Schulte, from Socialist Worker

Their checks had the same company name at the top, but that’s about the only thing that Pam Davis and Rob Walton ever had in common. Elizabeth Schulte explains.

Tale-of-two-paychecks-Rob-and-Pam“I MADE $10.45 an hour as an overnight stocker, because of the night differential. I wasn’t making enough money, so I took on another job. The day job wanted me to work 34 hours, so I had two part-time jobs that I wasn’t making hardly any money from. I was never able to pay for my own living space, and I didn’t have my own car.”

For Pam Davis, a grandmother of three, Walmart meant never being able to catch up, always worrying about the next expense.

For Rob Walton, the eldest of the five heirs to the family fortune and current chair of the company, Walmart means never having a care in his life.

With an estimated net worth of $34.2 billion, S. Robson Walton has a getaway for all kinds of weather–one in Aspen, Colo., another in a place called Paradise Valley, Ariz. He’s also a vintage sports car enthusiast–and so enthusiastic that he owns at least half a dozen cars, including, reportedly, a custom gold Ferrari.

In 2012, Walton took a careless turn on the track in his Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe–one of only five ever made–and wrecked the $15 million car. The cost of repairs was a couple million dollars–an amount that, as Raymond Bravo of OUR Walmart pointed out, “would take 194 years for a Walmart employee working around the clock to earn.”

Davis, a former Walmart worker in Richmond, Calif., and also an activist with Organization United for Respect (OUR) Walmart, worked hard for her small paycheck. Walton, on the other hand, got his money the old-fashioned way: His daddy gave it to him.

Rob’s father, Walmart founder Sam Walton, built his empire on the basis of driving wages down and keeping unions out. And Rob, who took over as chair of the company when his father died, keeps things running the way his daddy did–by squeezing Walmart employees. With its “associates” earning an average wage of $8.81 an hour, Walmart’s motto “Everyday Low Prices” really should be “Low Wages, Every Day.”

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ENDORSEMENT OF CUOMO DIVIDES WORKING FAMILIES PARTY

Published On June 30, 2014 | By Pete Ikeler | Socialist Alternative

cuomo-wp-endorse

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…?”

Little other than shame can be directed at the leaders of New York’s “Working Families Party”(WFP) for their decision to support Andrew Cuomo – again. Four years ago they gave him their ballot line under acute pressure from Democrats and union officials (who financially back the organization). Since being elected Governor his “gifts” have been public sector take-backs, reduced taxes on the wealthy, denying cities the right to set minimum wages, and an expansion of charter schools. As one of the nation’s most prominent Democratic “centrists” with presidential ambitions, Cuomo’s biggest backers are also Wall Street banks, which have “help[ed] him build a campaign treasury in excess of $30 million” (Washington Post, 6/5/14).

At the same time, 41% of delegates at the recent Working Families Party convention voted against Cuomo and for Zephyr Teachout, a liberal professor who opposes Cuomo’s subservience to Wall Street. She has now declared she will challenge the governor in the Democratic primary. The developments in the WFP reflect the broader shift to the left that has led to many developments. These include the election of an open socialist, Kshama Sawant, to the Seattle City Council and the emergence of a clearer left-populist wing of the Democrats including prominent figures like Senator Elizabeth Warren and Bill de Blasio, the recently elected mayor of New York City.

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Chattanooga vs. Kabletown

From the Seufert Files, June 30, 2014

theodore-roosevelt-waving-his-hat-everett
“It is necessary that laws should be passed to prohibit the use of corporate funds directly or indirectly for political purposes; it is still more necessary that such laws should be thoroughly enforced. Corporate expenditures for political purposes, and especially such expenditures by public-service corporations, have supplied one of the principal sources of corruption in our political affairs.” Theodore Roosevelt

I recently read with great interest about the ultra-high-speed Internet service available in Chattanooga, Tenn. Chattanooga, as it turns out, boasts of the fastest Internet speeds in the Western Hemisphere.

The average Internet speed in the United States is 9.8 megabits per second, according to a study by Akamai Technologies. Chattanooga’s service can reach speeds of up to 1,000 megabits – or 1 gigabit – per second. With a typical high-speed broadband connection, it could take nearly a half-hour to download a two-hour movie. In Chattanooga, the same download could take less than a minute.

Ironically, faster Internet service was just a secondary benefit for the city. Chattanooga’s network of fiber-optic cables was built primarily to enable a smart grid to manage electricity more effectively, particularly during inclement weather. So instead of taking days to restore electricity to residents following an outage, it takes Chattanooga only a few seconds.

You might think such impressive technology was provided by one of the major telecommunications companies. You would be wrong.

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The Democrats’ delusions and a strategy for change

by David P. Hamilton, The Rag Blog, June 30, 2014

A central goal of the left in the U.S. should be to create an independent electoral base, a voice from which the left can speak directly to the mainstream.

dem-repub-art
Painting by Anthony Freda / AnthonyFreda.com.

Sometimes you might have cause to wonder, but the Democratic Party is indeed better than the Republican Party. That says almost nothing. The economic policies of contemporary Republicans are more right wing than those of Benito Mussolini, the founder of modern fascism. Being better than Mussolini is no great distinction.

During the “Obama recovery” since 2009, 95% of all income gains have gone to the top 1% economic elite, the capitalist ruling class. As their income rose 31%, the other 99% saw their income grow by a meager 0.4%. In the process, inequality increased rapidly. Such are the riches Obama’s economic policies have delivered.

Had there been a Republican in the White House, the comparable figures would have likely been 100% and 0%, but that does not negate the fact that this Democratic Party-led government primarily serves the economic elite, their foremost constituency. These figures indicate that U.S. presidential elections don’t give leftists a choice between good and bad or even bad and worse, but between awful and abominable, and that keeps happening repeatedly every four years.

Bush and Obama: a comparison

The principal goal of the bank bailout initiated by Bush II and carried forward by Obama was to remove “toxic assests” from banks’ balance sheets. After Obama appointed Wall Street insiders to his major economic cabinet posts, $700 billion was allocated for this purpose, mainly directed at the nine largest U.S. banks. Most of those “toxic assets” were bundles of underwater mortgage loans, where rapidly declining real estate values had left home owners with loans far greater than the market value of their homes.

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