Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Personal, the Social, and the Political: A Survey (1/25/13 Draft)

My plan is to post a questionnaire like the following on Survey Monkey and widely circulate an invitation for people to complete it. The intent is to find and connect with others who share an interest in what I tentatively, for lack of a better word for now, call “holistic organizing.” The basic idea is to nurture the development of supportive communities whose members support each other in their self-development, their efforts to grow alternative communities that can serve as “models” for the future, and their political efforts to help improve public policies.

I may begin distributing this Wednesday, January 29. If you have any suggested changes or words of encouragement, that would be appreciated. And if you think it’s a bad idea, please let me know that as well.



NOTE: The questions will be followed by:
___Yes ___No ___Not sure       Comments:


The Personal, the Social, and the Political: A Survey
(1/25/13 Draft)


This 14-question survey is intended to explore attitudes and activities concerning personal growth, community development, and political action.

The questions only ask for yes-or-no answers. Completing the survey will probably take less than five minutes.

Responses will be kept anonymous unless otherwise indicated.

A report on the results will be shared with all respondents who ask to receive it.

Respondents will be invited to participate in an online discussion and/or video call about the results.


The Survey


Do you have close friends with whom you:
• Feel free to be yourself
• Have fun
• Express deep feelings
• Listen carefully
• Give and receive support
• Get to know each other
• Share happiness
• Discuss the meaning of life
• Evaluate what’s right and what’s wrong
• Help each other become better human beings
• And consider how to improve governmental policies and social institutions?

If you do not have those kind of close friends, would you like to?

If you do have those kind of close friends, do you occasionally gather as a group to engage in those kind of activities together?


In the last month, have you, in one way or another, tried to become a better human being?

During the next month, do you plan to try to become a better human being?


In the last month, have you tried to help improve a social institution (or organization), such as a spiritual community, your child’s school, a neighborhood center, or an informal community of friends?

During the next month, do you plan to help improve a social institution or informal community?


In the last month, have you engaged in an effort to impact public policy?

During the next month, do you plan to engage in an effort to impact public policy?


Would you be interested in participating in an online discussion and/or a video call about these questions with others who answer this survey?

If you don’t already, would you like to gather at least once a month with close, trusted friends to share a meal, socialize informally, and hear what others have to say about the kind of questions posed in this survey?

Will you tell others about this survey?

May we identify you as the author of your comments?

Would you like to receive a report on the results of this survey?

Name / Email (we won’t share your email address)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Wade's Wire Highlights

Following are links to some of the posts that I made to Wade's Wire recently, to which I post no more than one item each day. To subscribe to Wade's Wire and receive the posts via email, click here, fill out the "Follow Blog via Email" form at the top left, and reply to the autoreply email to verify.


Poverty in Las Terrenas

These six photos reflect the poverty that afflicts the Dominican Republic, even in the relatively prosperous tourist town of Las Terrenas.


Thoreau: Emerson’s Eulogy

When Thoreau died in 1862, Emerson was a national figure, the Great American Philosopher. Thoreau was a minor, local personality. Emerson’s funeral oration … give[s] his views, positive and negative, of this one-time disciple who has now eclipsed him in stature.
From Appreciation, An Essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson


In Bed with Wall Street

In Bed with Wall Street: The Conspiracy Crippling Our Global Economy, the book by Larry Doyle,  a former mortgage-backed securities trader, is receiving a strong, early reception. In its first week, each of four reviewers gave it five stars and posted glowing reviews.

On Jan 7, 2014, C-SPAN presented a compelling, accessible 40-minute Book Discussion with Doyle.  Watch and weep. I did.


The Trouble With Full Employment

By  Philip Harvey
Presentation at Conference on An Economic Bill of Rights for the 21st Century
Columbia University, Oct. 18, 2013


Bubbles, the Multiverse, and Humility

A quote.


Ronald Dworkin on Law, Morality, and Economics

The New York Review of Books continues to be my favorite magazine. It’s the only one I read regularly. Their 50th anniversary issue  was particularly rewarding. In that issue, they published “several essays on or by writers and artists whose work meant something to us when we started.” One of these essays was “Law from the Inside Out” by Ronald Dworkin, in which he reflected on the development of his thinking from the very concrete to the abstract. This progression led him to integrate “concrete legal issues, questions of personal ethics and morality, broad political issues of social policy, and the most abstract, rarefied philosophical and metaphysical puzzles.” His conclusion was that these issues are interconnected and cannot be separated.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Human Right to a Decent Job

By Wade Lee Hudson

Most Americans agree. As a society, we should see to it that everyone who wants to work can find a living-wage job opportunity. When we establish that foundation of economic security for all, everyone will benefit. Securing this human right is our moral obligation.

Pope Francis may inspire a widespread moral renewal that prompts business owners to pay better wages. The wealthy may someday donate enough money to non-profit organizations to hire everyone who needs a decent job. Until we witness that change of heart, however, the federal government must help.

As citizens, we need not prescribe exactly how the government should assure genuine full employment. The experts can figure that out. Our job is to keep pushing them until they do it. But we can suggest some options.

Without increasing the deficit, we can minimize problems associated with “big government” by distributing federal revenue-sharing funds for public-service jobs to local governments, where citizens can monitor and influence how the money is spent. The jobs created can be regular, permanent jobs that provide needed services, like child care, substance abuse programs, in-home caregiving, and improving our parks – not temporary “make work” positions or jobs only for people who meet certain qualifications. Priority can be given to entry-level jobs in the $12-16 per hour range in order to maximize the number of people who gain employment.

A sales tax on Wall Street speculation can raise $100 billion or more annually, which would also discourage dangerous, unproductive gambling. In addition, we can close loopholes that allow corporations to hide profits offshore, and transfer funds from wasteful military spending. Creating jobs will boost the economy and generate additional tax revenue, which we can use to create more jobs. Savings from reduced food stamp and unemployment insurance payments will also be available.

By steadily increasing funding each year, local governments can prepare for how to use the money, and the governments involved can better deal with any problems that develop. The size of the grants can be based in part on local unemployment rates. Cities and towns with more unemployment will receive more. We can insist that local governments not use the money to replace their current programs and reduce their own taxes.

We can’t guarantee everyone a job, but we can guarantee everyone a living-wage job opportunity.  We can insist that supervisors assure that their employees are reliable and work hard. They owe their workers and the taxpayer nothing less. And if good jobs are available we shouldn’t give tax money to people who are able but unwilling to work.

Not every unemployed individual will take advantage of these opportunities. Some people will first have to deal with substance abuse, helped by knowing a meaningful job awaits them when they get their act together. Other individuals will rely on friends, family, or charity. But almost everyone who wants to work will put in a solid effort if given the chance. And everyone has some useful skill.

When we achieve true full employment, those who are worried about food stamps fostering dependency can rest assured that we are supporting self-determination. Business owners will gain from a more prosperous economy. Everyone will benefit from living in a more harmonious, safer society. People formerly living in poverty will be able to make ends meet, which will greatly improve the quality of their lives. Most workers will: 1) benefit from higher wages (because employers will pay more to keep trained employees); 2) be treated with more respect by employers (because workers will have more choices), and; 3) have more leisure time to relax with their families, enjoy their lives, and contribute to their community.

A common argument against full employment is that it would cause excessive inflation. But most efforts to increase employment have relied on deficit spending, which can be inflationary, and a jobs program can be funded without increasing the deficit. Increased global competition makes inflation less likely. In recent decades, when unemployment decreased, inflation did not increase. A public-service jobs program will have less inflationary impact than boosting private-sector employment. Funds will disproportionately go to areas with higher unemployment, which means less inflationary pressure. And so long as wages and Social Security payments increase to compensate, modest inflation is not a problem for most people.

The federal government has created unemployment and poverty on purpose, in the name of preventing inflation. But those actions are a moral outrage. If and when inflation becomes a problem, we can deal with it some other way.

In the meantime, let’s help our society live up to its highest ideals, “promote the general welfare,” and support “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”


Wade Lee Hudson a community organizer and part-time cab driver in San Francisco is author of the Guarantee Living-Wage Job Opportunities petition. Please consider signing it.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Guarantee Living-Wage Jobs (plus more)

Please sign and share the Guarantee Living-wage Jobs petition. It is addressed to “activist organizations” and reads:
We urge you to work together to persuade the government in Washington to see to it that everyone who wants to work can find a living-wage job.
To sign the petition, click here.

I’ve launched this campaign with valuable assistance from the economist Dean Baker and the Internet strategist Michael Stein.

For more information, you can review the campaign’s website and read “Guarantee Living-Wage Jobs: A Call for Action.”

I consider this effort very important and timely, so I hope you support it.


I’m posting one item each day to Wade’s Wire. To subscribe and receive those posts via email, click here. Following is some information about recent posts there: An Evaluation

My evaluation of that website, which was prompted by a recent newsletter. It prompted the following exchange with Margaret Flowers, one of the sites editors:
Thanks for checking out the website. If you want to know who we are, our names are on the articles we write, which you cited. And there is a list of contributors on the “About” page. 
There is more to our strategy than what you’ve read, so I wouldn’t jump to conclusions. We advocate for participatory democracy, not top-down strategies. We highlight groups that are on the ground doing work to challenge the system. 
As far as reforms go, we personally celebrate those victories but also encourage people to recognize that we mustn’t stop at partial steps. We must keep pushing until policies reflect the desires and needs of the people. That means shifting the balance of power. Of course the situation is more complex than what we can include in our weekly newsletter. is a website that provides information and tools for people to get engaged in ways that work for them. We do support and organize campaigns that fit into the strategy (one currently is focused on the TPP). If we had more resources, there is much more we would offer, but this is what we can offer for now. We hope that you find it of some value.
My reply:
Thanks for the clarification, Margaret. Given the fact that you’re doing so much good work, it’s reassuring to hear that you do celebrate partial victories, for as I discussed, that matter was not clear to me due to the passages that I quoted. I agree with how you formulate the need to keep them within the context of the need to keep pushing. 
My comment about transparency was in reference to the administrators, or editors, of the website. Who decides what is published, including the content of “Our Mission” and “Our Philosophy” on the About page? I recommend that those individuals be identified on the About page. 
I agree that our situation is complex, but I believe that concise statements of core beliefs, such as your “Our Philosophy,” need to be as accurate as possible and I do not believe it as accurate to say that large transnational corporations control our social system. A system consists of interdependent elements. No one element controls a system. You can read more about my thoughts on this issue in Our Vision: Transforming the System (12/26/11 Draft) 
Thanks much for your good work, which I follow and respect. It’s just that some of that newsletter provoked me. Take care, Wade

Bubbles, the Multiverse, and Humility

“Bubbles form in the expanding universe, each developing into a big or small bang, perhaps each with different values for what we usually call the constants of nature. The inhabitants (if any) of one bubble cannot observe other bubbles, so to them their bubble appears as the whole universe. The whole assembly of all these universes has come to be called the ‘multiverse.’”

from Physics: What We Do and Don’t Know 
By Steven Weinberg


Ronald Dworkin on Law, Morality, and Economics

My essay about a remarkable summary of Dworkin's intellectual development, written by Dworkin..


On Electronic Eavesdropping 

A quote by Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg, who was appointed to the District of Columbia Circuit by President Ronald Reagan:
A person who knows all of another’s travels can deduce whether he is a weekly churchgoer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, an unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate of particular individuals or political groups — and not just one fact about a person, but all such facts.

Thoughts for the New Year

Posted on New Year's Day, following a wonderful party the night before (check out the photo!)


Reflections on 2013

My spontaneous thoughts looking back.