Archive for the ‘Economic justice’ Category

Putting Andrea Kieffer’s money where her mouth is

Thursday, March 20th, 2014


By now I’m sure you’ve heard the story coming out of my home state in which a Republican legislator objected to an omnibus bill called the Minnesota Women’s Economic Security Act.  It’s calling for long overdue changes to state law like a higher minimum wage, expanded sick leave, and most frustratingly of all, pay equity.

Why so frustrating?  Because the legislator opposed to this bill is a WOMAN.

Here’s a transcript if you aren’t willing and/or able to endure the flat Midwestern accent:

“We heard several bills last week about women’s issues, and I kept thinking to myself: these bills are putting us backwards in time. We are losing the respect that we so dearly want in the workplace by bringing up all these special bills for women, and almost making us look like whiners.”

Whiners?  Oh dear.

Poor Andrea Kieffer is now all over the news, being raked over the proverbial coals for her ill-informed remarks. I HAVE GREAT NEWS FOR HER!  I have a quick and easy solution that will restore her credibility.

Members of the Minnesota Legislature earn a yearly salary of $31,140.  According to a 2013 report from the National Women’s Law Center, in the private sector, white women like Rep. Kieffer typically earn only 77 percent of what their white male counterparts do.

Pardon me while I crunch the numbers:



To put her money literally where her mouth is, Rep. Andrea Kieffer can accept an immediate salary reduction to $23,978 per annum.  

If that seems like too bitter a pill to swallow,she should thank her lucky stars that she’s not African-American or Hispanic, because those House members would have their pay cut down to $19,929 and $16,815, respectively.

I’m going to write Rep. Kieffer an email RIGHT NOW ( and to let her know of this brilliant plan. I would hate it, JUST HATE IT, if anyone thought she was a hypocrite!




First we fix health care

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

….then we fix education.  Why?  THIS:

Yeah, indeed.  I learned this handy fact in ninth grade.  Why didn’t he??

Happy Affordable Care Act Day, everyone!






Wednesday, June 20th, 2012


What would YOU do with that much money?

Would you pay for a year’s tuition at my alma mater, Carleton College?  It wasn’t that steep when I went there, luckily.  If it was, I’d never have been allowed to leave the Evans Hall dishroom.

Would you buy a car–or several of them?  My mid-life crisis car has always been an early ’70s Chevelle SS or Dodge Charger, and for that much dough I could get one of each!

Would you click over to to charge up two thousand copies of Davina Rhine’s book Rebel Moms, all because you aren’t Trish from Mississippi, winner of my first-ever book giveaway?  And you tend to overcompensate when you lose random blog raffles?

Probably not.

You’d think of something sensible to do with a pile of cash that large. If you were the mayor of a large city you might use it to fill potholes, clean up dirty parks, improve bike lanes–you know, the usual, boring, “make a city more livable” stuff.

My hometown, the everlovin’ City of Minneapolis, spent $42,429 on THIS:



 Photo credit: Occupy Homes MN

A recently released document shows that my city spent $42,429 to “protect” this empty home from the peaceful, but fiercely determined, protests of Occupy Homes activists.

The Cruz family claims that an online accounting error led them down the rabbit hole of foreclosure with PNC Bank, who had at one point pledged to work with the family to straighten out the mess and allow them to stay in the home on 4044 Cedar Avenue South. (HuffPo coverage of the standoff can be read here.)

Cedar Avenue is a north-south throughway that I use almost daily.  I’ve been by the Cruz house countless times, and I can attest that it is a fairly nondescript little thing, a dinky 1910s-era bungalow that is typical of the area.  It’s nothing fancy.  It is totally insignificant to a bank like PNC that holds assets of $270 billion.

Yet PNC somehow cowed my city into putting its muscle, and $42,429 of its cash, in the service of ridding the house of peaceful, but fiercely determined, protesters.

I was born in this city and have lived here for the vast majority of my life, but a story like this makes me fear that I slipped dimensions and entered Bizarro Minneapolis.  How do I slip back, I wonder?  In the meantime, I should head over to Lakewood Cemetery to see if Paul & Sheila Wellstone’s grave is moving….



Whew.  There’s still hope.

On that note, tomorrow is Occupy Homes’ #J21 National Day of Action Against PNC Bank.  People across the country will support David and Alejandra Cruz as they visit PNC’s Pittsburgh headquarters to hand-deliver loan modification documents to its CEO, Jim Rohr, who earned $16 million in 2011.

Wow! $16 million is a lot of money….!

It could buy 380,952 Minneapolis police actions like the one pictured above.  It could buy EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND copies of Rebel Moms, which would make it a bestseller so massive it would be immediately be turned into a major motion picture starring Kristen Stewart as Davina Rhine herself.









Why you’ll never be mom enough

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Tits out, ladies!

Unhook your bras and settle in for another battle in the Mommy Wars 2012, kicked into gear ever since Hilary Rosen thoughtlessly insisted that Ann Romney “never worked a day in her life.”  And maybe you heard about that Elisabeth Badinter book?

Why, even the New York Times devoted an opinion page to a debate it called “Motherhood vs. Feminism”   (this happened, like, a whole week and a half before the infamous Time magazine boob cover, so you can be forgiven for not recalling it).

Yes: motherhood VERSUS feminism, as if the two are mutually exclusive.  Please direct your attention to the left of your screen, to the “About Me” widget, for my thoughtful perspective.*

One of the NYT essays is titled “Let’s Not Pass Judgement.”  It’s not as good as the piece by Annie Urban, which you really MUST read, but I agree with its sentiment.  Women shouldn’t be fighting each other for our “choices”–we should be wagging our shame fingers at the systems that conspire against us, consumer culture and patriarchal capitalism in particular.  Repeat after me: class wars, not Mommy Wars.

I’ve been thinking about this not-passing-of-judgment thing.  A few weeks ago, a feminist site I enjoy posted a photo on Facebook of the now-infamous Tanorexic Mom, wondering if all the harsh criticism of this woman’s “choice” to fry her pale skin wasn’t antithetical to the feminist ideal of to each her own?




Once again, we must return to the tricky notion of “choice.”  This woman chose to change her appearance rather drastically.  But did she, really?  Let’s ask our frenemy, good old consumer culture.  Pale women are told to buy creams and tanning beds to look acceptable.  Dark women are told to buy fading creams and treatments (like Photoshop) to look acceptable.  It doesn’t take long for these messages to tip vulnerable people into obsession, if not outright mental illness.

Is Patricia Krentcil mom enough?  A lot of people don’t think so.  For one thing, she is awfully ugly…unlike the lovely Jamie Lynne Grumet, she of the boob seen ’round the world:



Breastfeeding is, of course, a very good thing.  Unlike tanning, it has clear health benefits and does not cause cancer.  The fact that Grumet nurses her 4-year-old threatens me not a whit.  Her defiant stance, however, coupled with the hysterical cover copy, adds more fuel to the already tired notion of breastfeeding as a lifestyle “choice,”  and that’s when I get pissed.

I hate to break it to y’all, but nursing a baby is a biological function.  Our bodies are designed to do it–but please do not confuse this fact with a moral judgment upon you for not doing it!  PLEASE!  If you feel threatened by what you perceive to be my judgment, you are going to waste your time battling little old ME, not demanding change from the systems that conspire against a truly family-friendly society.

Suck on this: the United States is one of only four countries in the world that does not offer some kind of paid maternity leave.  The other three are Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and Lesotho.  The latter country has an annual per capita income of $1600, so I can see why they can’t afford it.  The USA, not so much.

Would you “choose” to nurse your child if you had the “choice” to take paid maternity leave?  I bet you would.  And no matter your skin color, your body size or shape, you’d look damned good doing it.

According to patriarchal capitalism, you are NOT mom enough, and you never will be.  You have to hate yourself to buy what they’re selling….tanning packages, magazines, economic systems that trickle down slower than a dried-up teat (and that’s s-l-o-w).

So tuck those boobs back in and start shopping!



*short version: it’s bullshit



A stadium for the 0.1%, on the backs of the 99.9%

Monday, March 5th, 2012

What follows is a commentary on the latest in the embarrassment that is the negotiations to build a new Vikings stadium (owned by the 1%) here in Minneapolis, WITHOUT putting the matter to a voter referendum (which would involve consulting the 99%).  It was written by Ed Felien, publisher & editor of Southside Pride, and is excerpted here with his permission.  

Photo via The Uptake


A “People’s Stadium?” Really?

By Ed Felien

[Minneapolis mayor] R T Rybak and [Minnesota governor] Mark Dayton are going to tear down the existing Metrodome because, we are told, it’s outdated. It doesn’t have enough luxury boxes, so it doesn’t make enough money for billionaire Zygi Wilf . Ticket prices have to be higher. Ticket prices for a Viking game are already so high that most people who live in the City can’t afford them, but R T and Dayton are going to send us a bill for $338.7 million to tear down the existing stadium and build an even more expensive one. And they’re calling that a “People’s Stadium”…..

In 1977 the Minneapolis City Charter was amended in a referendum with almost 70% of the voters approving a provision that requires the City to get the voter’s approval on any expenditure for a sports stadium that exceeds $10 million. R T and the legislature believe they can sidestep a Minneapolis referendum on this question because the City of Minneapolis is granted its charter by the State of Minnesota. And what the State granteth, the State can taketh away….

How is this stadium a “People’s Stadium?” The existing Metrodome is quite adequate for high school football, soccer games and monster truck rallies. The only difference between the existing stadium and the new one would be the addition of more luxury boxes for Viking games. That’s a benefit for Viking ticket holders.

There are 64,111 seats in the current Viking stadium. There are 5,344,861 people in the State of Minnesota. So, that’s not a case of the 99% subsidizing the 1%. That’s a case of the 99.9% subsidizing the 0.1%.

It’s certainly a case of the taxpayers of Minneapolis subsidizing the ticket prices of wealthy people generally living in the suburbs. Those same people elect State Senators and Representatives that have cut financial aid to the cities, so that city property taxes now subsidize suburban and rural police and fire departments.

Carol Becker, the city-wide representative on the Board of Estimate and Taxation, has said, “$300 M at a modest 3% a year interest rate is roughly about $20 M a year each year for 20 years. When you divide this by the number of people in Minneapolis, you get a figure of $53 per person per year. Or for my family, it is a whopping $159 dollars a year for a football stadium. $159 a year!”

Minneapolis could buy a lot of police and fire protection for $20 million a year.

If this were a genuine “People’s Stadium,” it would be open to kids in the neighborhood; it would be a sports and health club that poor people could enjoy; it would have a swimming pool so people could exercise in the winter; it would be built with strict affirmative action guidelines making sure that neighborhood people (where there is the highest unemployment in the City) would be employed.

R T claims he’s a tough negotiator. He’s not. He gave away the store.

We’re giving away $368 million that could have been used to help the City budget in exchange for the privilege of watching rich suburbanites come in here and tailgate.


Meet Occupy homeowner Bobby Hull

Monday, December 5th, 2011

If you had any doubts about the moral imperative behind the Occupy movement, I promise that they will disappear after you watch this five minute video, made by Peter Leeman and Kyle Kehrwald of OccupyMinneapolis.  It features father, grandfather, uncle, Marine, and lifelong south Minneapolis resident Bobby Hull, who is scheduled to be evicted from his home in February 2012 by Bank of America.  To Hull, this house at 3712 Columbus Avenue is more than a home–it’s the beating heart of his family, his community, and his life.



I don’t know Bobby Hull, but I feel like I do.  I too grew up on the south side, a daughter of the working class.  My father hauled trash for thirty years, and his buddies all talk like this.  These are the kind of guys who shovel the entire street after a snowstorm, who gladly jump start your car when it freezes, who always have a couple of bucks in their wallets for you if you need it. They do this automatically, without hesitation or antipathy, because they always, ALWAYS remember the time when someone else did them same for them.

As Hull says near the end of the clip, “We’re supposed to unite.  That’s what our forefathers did, you watch my back, I got yours.  You know, we are the United States and we haven’t been united for a while.  And we need people who care about people.  We need to protect our country, whether it’s from foreign or domestic….I think right now, our fight is domestic.”


To learn more about the Hull family and the occupation that kicks off tomorrow, Tuesday, December 6, please go to OccupyMN’s Facebook page.

As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in 1967:

“A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth…. America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.”

Reclaiming family values, or: Blog-In 2011!

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Two feminist mom bloggers whom I greatly admire, Avital Norman Nathman of The MamaFesto and Lisa Duggan of The MotherHood Blog, wrote the following message and asked writers like yours truly to repost it today for what they’re calling a virtual Blog-In.  I am very happy to participate, for I believe in and support every single word!

I encourage all of my media-connected readers to participate, via blog or with the Twitter hashtag #BlogIn2011.


Dear 2012 Presidential Candidates,

We are your future constituents and we are parents. We are American mothers and fathers and grandparents and guardians. Our families might be the most diverse in the world. Blended and combined in endless permutations, we represent every major religion, political ideology and ethnic culture that exists. We are made from equal parts biology and choice. Our children come to us in every way possible—including fertility miracles, adoption, and remarriage.

Our very modern families embody the freedom that defines America. We embody America. We are rich in diversity, but we are united in our family values. We come together today, with one voice, to express our grave disappointment in the national political discourse.

The 2012 countdown has barely begun and we are already being bombarded with the warmed-over, hypocritical rhetoric of 2008. We are living in a time where 15.1% of Americans now live in poverty, the unemployment rate stands at 16%, and we are spending close to $170 billion annually between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan*.

Given the current state of affairs we would expect every candidate to focus on the issues that truly matter: job creation, debt-relief, taxes, education, poverty, and ending the war(s). Instead, it is already clear to us that the conversation has been hijacked, with the goal of further polarizing our nation into a politically motivated and falsely created class-war.

We will not stand for another campaign year in which politicians presume to know what our family values are as they relate to the nation.

To be clear, here are our family values:

  • Affordable health care, including family planning, for all Americans. We will not tolerate any candidate using the shield of “Choice” to blind us from the issues that really matter. When funding is stripped from organizations like Planned Parenthood, access to sliding-scale health care (including yearly pap smears & mammograms), comprehensive sex education, and family planning is blocked from the poorest of the population.
  • Access to education, and the ability to actually use it. We want quality, affordable, federally-funded pre-K programs made available in every State, in order to provide an even starting point for all children enrolled in public schools— regardless of the wealth of the district or town they live in.
  • A reinstatement of regulations for banks issuing mortgages and full prosecution for those who engaged in fraudulent lending practices. We want full accountability —investigation, indictment and prosecution— of those individuals and institutions who engaged in fraudulent lending practices and who helped create the massive foreclosures that left many families homeless or struggling to keep their homes.
  • A return of strict environmental regulations protecting water, air, food, and land that were removed in the last two decades. We want our children to grow up in a world not weighed down by the strains of pollution and global warming. Between BPA in our products, sky-rocketing rates of asthma in kids, questionable hormones in our over-processed food, and more, we need leaders who will put our needs and safety over the desires and profits of large corporations.

Family planning, healthcare, education, economic solvency and environmental safety: these are our national family values. Candidates who demonstrate the ability to understand the gravity of these issues, and their impact on our families, and who can provide actual, viable solutions to these problems will garner our support and our votes.

We believe in this democratic system of ours, and we will continue to use our voices and our votes to see that it reaches its fullest potential.


Your future constituents,

The mothers & fathers of America

If you would like to forward this letter to your elected officials, you can find their contact info at the following links:

* Sources for stats:

The 99 percent includes kids, too

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Proof that activism should neither be limited to grownups nor devoid of fun: scenes from the first day of Occupy MN, Friday, October 7, 2011.