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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.

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Save the Date! IPS 50th Anniversary Celebration, October 11-13

March 25, 2013 ·

IPS 50th Anniversary logoThe Institute for Policy Studies invites you to IPS's 50th Anniversary Celebration and Reunion highlighting bold and progressive social movements over the last 5 decades. From October 11th-13th, 2013, we will host a weekend of events in Washington, D.C. honoring progressive activists and activism and envisioning a plan for the future.

We will begin with an opening "reunion" reception to celebrate IPSers from the past, present and future on Friday, October 11, 2013. This will be a great opportunity for old friends to reconnect and for the extended IPS family to come together. On Saturday and Sunday, we will hold an “Ideas into Action” Festival featuring workshops, forums, and artistic expressions as well as a bazaar for our progressive partners and allies to feature their work. The celebration will culminate with a VIP dinner at Busboys and Poets and an interactive gala at the historic Union Station on Sunday evening with over 600 people, including notable progressives from major social movements in the past 50 years and rising young public scholars and activists of today.

The Theme of the 50th Anniversary Celebration and Reunion is "The Next 50 Years" and all events will be intergenerational with an emphasis on the next generation of public scholars and a bold, progressive future.

Event Dates:

October 11th, 2013
IPS Reunion Reception

October 12th-13th, 2013
Ideas into Action Festival

October 13th, 2013
IPS Sustainable Dinner

October 13th, 2013
50th Anniversary Gala
Purchase Tickets (early-bird rates going fast!) 

Together, we can bring together the IPS community for a truly amazing weekend! Please also stay abreast by joining our IPS Community: Celebrating 50 Years on Facebook.

If you would like to help with planning and preparation or know of IPSers we should be contacting, please email Joy Zarembka, Associate Director, at joy@ips-dc.org or call 202-787-5244.

Timeline: IPS Celebrates 50 Years of Turning Ideas Into Action

January 1, 2013 ·

IPS 50th Anniversary logoThe Institute for Policy Studies is celebrating its 50th year in 2013. For 50 years, we’ve been turning ideas into action to support peace, justice, and the environment. From the antiwar and civil rights movements in the 1960s to the peace and global justice movements of the last decade. Some of the greatest progressive minds of the 20th and 21st centuries have found a home at IPS, starting with the organization's founders, Richard Barnet and Marcus Raskin. IPS scholars have included such luminaries as Arthur Waskow, Gar Alperovitz, Saul Landau, Bob Moses, Rita Mae Brown, Barbara Ehrenreich, Roger Wilkins and Orlando Letelier.

This timeline represents a small sampling of the bright spots throughout the years.

Highlights Over the Past 50 Years

1961 – At the height of the Cold War, a high-powered State Department meeting full of generals and defense industry executives. When one official declared, "If this group cannot bring about disarmament, then no one can," two young men in the audience couldn’t help but snicker.  The culprits, White House staffer Marcus Raskin and State Department lawyer Richard Barnet, looked across the room and decided to get to know each other. Raskin and Barnet would go on to become the co-founders of the Institute for Policy Studies. (Note that we realize that this happened over 50 years ago, but it seems notable nonetheless.)

1963 – The Institute for Policy Studies was founded with offices in Washington DC.

1964 – Freedom Summer, a central campaign to the civil rights movement, was directed by IPS Fellow Bob Moses. The campaign helped scores of black Americans register to vote and set up dozens of Freedom Schools, Freedom Houses, and community centers in small towns throughout Mississippi. The project became nationally known when three Freedom Summer volunteers, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman, went missing and then were found dead, having been killed by Ku Klux Klan members.

1965 – Co-founder Marcus Raskin and IPS Associate Fellow Bernard Fall edited The Vietnam Reader, which became a textbook for teach-ins across the country.

mid-1960s – IPS Fellow Bob Moses organized efforts for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), challenging racial segregation and the disenfranchisement of people of color throughout the country.

1966 – Fellow Charlotte Bunch organized a groundbreaking women’s liberation conference. She later launched two influential feminist periodicals, Quest and Off Our Backs.

1967 – Co-founder Marcus Raskin and IPS Fellow Arthur Waskow penned "A Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority," a document signed by dozens of well-known scholars and religious leaders that helped launch the draft resistance movement.

1973 – Rita May Brown publishes her path-breaking lesbian novel Rubyfruit Jungle, widely considered the first of the emerging genre of lesbian coming-of-age novels, while on staff at IPS.

1974 – Co-founder Richard Barnet publishes Global Reach, an examination of the power of multinational corporations which is still required reading in many college courses today.

1974 – IPS founded the Transnational Institute, a worldwide fellowship of scholar activists, as its international program. The international organization now operates as a sister organization to IPS. For more than 30 years, TNI’s history has been entwined with the history of global social movements and their struggle for economic, social and environmental justice.

mid-1970s – IPS Fellow Jim Ridgeway, now a renowned investigative reporter, published The Elements, a monthly IPS newsletter on ownership and control of the world’s natural resources.

1976 – Agents of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet murdered two IPS colleagues on Washington’s Embassy Row. The target of the car bomb attack was Orlando Letelier, one of Pinochet’s most outspoken critics and the head of IPS's sister organization, the Transnational Institute. Ronni Karpen Moffitt, a 25-year-old IPS development associate, was also killed. For more than three decades, IPS’s annual Letelier-Moffitt awards program has recognized new human rights heroes. IPS has also worked with lawyers, Congressional allies, researchers, and activists and through the media to achieve measures of justice: the convictions of two generals and several assassins responsible for the Letelier-Moffitt murders, the declassification of U.S. documents on Chile, Pinochet’s 1998 arrest in connection with a Spanish case brought by former IPS Visiting Fellow Joan Garces, and the indictment of Pinochet by Chilean Judge Juan Guzman, a Letelier-Moffitt human rights awardee.

1977 – The institute launched a South Africa project that went on to produce a series of books and studies on South African apartheid.

1979 – IPS Senior Fellow Saul Landau won an Emmy for his documentary, “Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang.” The documentary tells the story of the cover-up by the U.S. nuclear program and of the hazards of radiation to American citizens. 

Early 1980s – Barbara Ehrenreich, the now-renowned author of Nickel and Dimed, led the institute’s Women and the Economy project.

1985 – IPS Fellow Roger Wilkins helped found the Free South Africa Movement, which organized a year-long series of demonstrations that led to the imposition of U.S. sanctions.

1985 – Fellow William Arkin published Nuclear Battlefields: Global Links in the Arms Race, which helped galvanize anti-nuclear activism through its revelations of the impact of nuclear infrastructure on communities across America.

1989 – Amnesty International adopted women’s issues as human rights issues following a speech by former IPS Fellow Charlotte Bunch.

1991 – The pamphlet Crisis in the Gulf was produced by the institute, a text that was widely used by the peace movement during the first military foray into Iraq.

1991 – IPS Fellow Daphne Wysham helped bring to light a private memo by Larry Summers, Chief Economist at the World Bank, in which Summers declared, “the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that… I've always thought that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly underpolluted.”

1993 – The leadership of former IPS Fellow Charlotte Bunch was crucial to the adoption by the 1993 United Nations Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, of strong support for women.

1993 – Sarah Anderson, now director of the Global Economy project at IPS, conceives of and publishes a report on CEO pay that would compare the pay of corporate executives to everyday employees on the shop room floor. This became her first of a series of annual reports on executive pay that has informed and transformed the debate on inequality.

1994 – The institute publishes Global Dreams by current IPS Director John Cavanagh and co-founder Richard Barnet. The book was a follow-up to the groundbreaking work Global Reach. Both books are still required reading in many college classes today.

1998 – Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested in connection with a Spanish case brought by former IPS Visiting Fellow Joan Garces, and the indictment of Pinochet by Chilean Judge Juan Guzman, a Letelier-Moffitt human rights awardee.

2003 – The institute convened the meeting that led to the formation of the country’s largest coalition against the war in Iraq, United for Peace and Justice.

2005 – IPS publishes its Field Guide to the Global Economy, revised edition, by IPS Director John Cavanagh, IPS Global Economy Project Director Sarah Anderson, and others. It helps to make sense of the rapidly changing international economy, explaining how global institutions such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, and North American Free Trade Agreement affect communities, workers, the poor, and the environment. The book dispels the widely disseminated propaganda about current globalization policies and provides an update on the burgeoning movement that is challenging them. The guide has become required reading in many college classes.

2011 – The institute releases its 18th annual Executive Excess report, showing that 25 CEOs of major corporations received more in compensation than their companies paid in federal income taxes, offering an important contribution to efforts to ensure that wealthy Americans pay their fair share to Uncle Sam. The report was coordinated by Sarah Anderson, director of IPS’s Global Economy project, who has pulled together IPS reports on executive pay since 1993.

2011 and 2012 – In a personal capacity, IPS staff and scholars participated enthusiastically in the Occupy movement, including: sleeping at encampments; helping new occupiers navigate the consensus process; providing meeting spaces for Occupy DC participants; and marching in the streets. In a professional capacity, IPS scholars drafted hard-hitting analysis on inequality and corporate power that gave the movement fuel — before, during, and after Occupy's moment in history.

2013 – We'll never stop working to turn ideas into action!

Tell Us About Your Dream, Marcus!

February 10, 2012 ·

Marcus Raskin with current IPS Director John Cavanagh. Photo by E. Ethelbert Miller.On Thursday, February 9, 2012, the George Washington University Library held an event to honor IPS co-founder Marcus Raskin, whose collected papers will be archived at the library's Special Collection Research Center. The collection, titled "THE MARCUS RASKIN PAPERS: Social and Scholarly Activism" will include much of Raskin's work here at our Institute. The following remarks were delivered by IPS Boarc Chair E. Ethelbert Miller at the reception:

There is something special about Marcus Raskin. One becomes immediately aware of this when you hear him playing the piano. If I was a Hollywood writer, Raskin would be one of those individuals in that television series Heroes. He would have a unique gift, not the ability to walk through walls or hear other people's thoughts but the gift and the ability to see the larger pattern in life; to understand the true purpose of being and doing.

For many of us, Marcus Raskin is a hero. He is a visionary. A man who looks at the world and realizes one can change it. For me, he has been a father, teacher and friend. I like how this man thinks. I like how he peels a question, how he bites into it. I like how this man chews a thought; a creative taste lingering on his tongue. When Raskin speaks he often sheds light on the levels and degrees of life.

Last year at IPS we started doing "The Raskin Readings." This consisted of IPS fellows reviewing the work written by Raskin and selecting a few pages in order to lead an afternon discussion. It's amazing how much Raskin has written over the years. I imagine his paper will reveal how certain ideas were formed, matured and took flight. There will probably be items in his papers that show how some of his ideas were too young to go steady.

I think it will be important in the future to admire Raskin as a builder and architect. It will be important to study the man as well as the Institute for Policy Studies.

Why do we save things? Why donate papers?

The past always seems sexier after it undresses. We have a tendency to leave papers and documents behind like discarded clothes. Yet didn't we strut in the old wares once? I wonder what Marcus Raskin's papers will tell us about the 1960s, about nuclear disarmament, National Security, Civil Rights, poverty and social inequality. What will his papers tell us about a year like 1968?

I think we save things in order to determine what should be the blueprint for the future.

I think we save things because life is filled with victories and defeats, and sometimes we confuse the two.

I think we save things because it measures the length - the shadow one person can cast.

We donate papers because we understand the importance of sharing and the hope that what one man might have owned can now be shared with others.

Maybe all of Marcus Raskin's work should be filed under the heading - For The Common Good.

I know he once said:

Winter is always coming, the children are always sick, loved ones are always dying before their time.

Yet, somehow we survive and that is why we donate papers. It is a way of reaching the future.

It is the preservation of memory. With memory comes meaning. This is what the blues singer struggles to achieve. A sense of meaning carved out of the tree of life.

In his book BEING AND DOING published in 1973 by Beacon Press, Raskin spoke of the need to develop a philosophy of reconstruction in politics and public policy. The task of such a philosophy was to break the bounds of absurdity and develop new moods of thought.

Hopefully the material given by Raskin to the Gelman Library will help some future student or scholar develop an analysis that will help create new and better structures not only for institutions but for individuals, for lovers and the sons and daughters of lovers.

What Raskin has done today is plant more seeds. Somewhere ahead of us is the new harvest. Because he has been an excellent teacher and mentor, we know the harvest will be good and the people will be fed.

Let not the present American hunger only find us serving and consuming tea. The life of Marcus Raskin is a song of celebration. Just as Raskin's fingers mastered the genius of many composers, so too might future patrons of this library benefit from his generosity and provide us with a new music and a chorus for change.

There is much Raskin to be read.

Let me conclude my brief remarks by simply saying that the staff here at the Gelman Library is exceptional. There is much good news coming out of this place. It's beginning to feel sacred.

Not far from here, Mahalia Jackson listening to Martin Luther King, Jr at the March on Washington, reminded him to tell the people about the dream. "Tell them about the dream Martin. Tell them about the dream" she said.

This evening as we honor Marcus Raskin, I feel the need to say -

Tell us about your dream Marcus. Tell us about your dream.

For more from E. Ethelbert Miller, visit his blog at http://eethelbertmiller1.blogspot.com/

Will Obama's Push for Jobs Lead to a New Economy?

September 9, 2011 ·

It is wonderful to be back full-time at IPS – 15 months is a long time to be away. I'm deeply indebted to the Institutes' staff, board, and supporters like you for keeping IPS vibrant.

I want to thank Joy Zarembka in particular for guiding IPS during my sabbatical. Joy brought wisdom beyond her years to the helm, and we're stronger because of it. We're also greatly pleased that Joy will stay at the Institute, moving into the position of Associate Director. You'll see both of us writing for Unconventional Wisdom and sharing leadership as IPS confronts the greatest social and political challenges of the day.

Tonight, President Obama will address one of those challenges in a critical speech on his plan to create jobs. IPS has argued that any plan must build a new economy by shifting resources from speculative Wall Street firms to green Main Street firms. Central to this are revenue-raising measures aimed at reducing our country's immense inequality. Last week, we deepened our analysis with the release of our report, Executive Excess 2011: The Massive CEO Rewards for Tax Dodging. It was perhaps our best media day ever, garnering coverage in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Hill, Politico, CNN, the Chicago Tribune, and hundreds of other outlets.

The report found that corporate tax dodging has gotten so out of control that 25 major U.S. corporations last year paid their chief executive more than they paid Uncle Sam in federal income taxes. And these people – the nation's CEOs – are reaping awesomely lavish rewards for the tax dodging they have their corporations do. Obama would do well to urge Congress in his address to pass the Stop Tax Havens Abuse Act as one small step to curb corporate tax dodgers. Tune in to our blog and twitter stream tonight to get our breaking reactions to the speech.

As our country reflects upon the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many commentators are focusing on the role of the United States. But the past decade of fighting apparently endless wars confirms that Washington lacks the power and responsibility to serve as the global cop. As IPS expert John Feffer explains, "The problem isn't out there. It's right here, in the minds of those who believe that the United States is essential to managing these conflicts."

Finally, I invite you to join IPS as we remember two of our colleagues killed in the first act of foreign terrorism on U.S. soil – the assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt at Sheridan Circle on September 18 and at the Letelier-Moffit Human Rights Awards on October 12.

Unconventional Wisdom is a biweekly newsletter published by the Institute for Policy Studies. To receive Unconventional Wisdom or other IPS newsletters in your inbox, sign up here.

The End of the Sacred Cow

June 30, 2011 ·

Over the last decade, military spending has nearly doubled — it now exceeds Cold War levels. Coupled with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, these massive expenditures have contributed to the crippling of our economy.

Despite lip service from Washington officials, including outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, there's been little appetite for reining in this rampant spending. Yet, in the increasingly partisan budget debate, military spending is the one area where there may be some bipartisan agreement.

Questioned about Republicans' unwillingness to cut military spending, Freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) said in an interview this week, "Look, I know there are sacred cows, but we cannot afford them anymore."

But any cuts must be done in a smart way that ensures our safety and security here at home. Since 2004, the Institute for Policy Studies has promoted a bold vision about ending waste in the vast military budget, and providing a road map on how to shift security resources more effectively.

Guided by a task force of military, diplomacy, and homeland security experts and led by IPS expert Miriam Pemberton and Lawrence Korb at the Center for American Progress, the Institute released today a new report titled "Unified Security Budget for the United States, FY 2012."

For those on Capitol Hill looking for effective cuts, Korb notes, "There is plenty that can be trimmed from the $700 billion-plus spent annually on the military. In the report we detail $77 billion of lowest hanging fruit."

And Pemberton explains the security framework that makes cuts — and additions — to the budget possible. "We need a budget process that looks at our security challenges as a whole, and allocates resources in a way that matches the lip service everyone in government pays to the co-equal importance of military and non-military tools," she says.

Overhauling U.S. security spending should be just one way the nation moves toward more rational fiscal approach. Just last week, IPS rallied with nurses on Wall Street, calling on the financial industry to pay their fair share of the costs of the economic crisis. And the Institute's Chuck Collins is an integral part of a campaign to target tax cheats, including Apple.

This mixture of smart spending cuts and increases in revenue puts real military and economic security within our grasp.

P.S.: As Glenn Beck leaves the Fox News Network today, IPS is sending him a goodbye card along with a copy of our annual report that he paraded on his show last year. Add your name to the card by making a tax-deductible donation to IPS as we celebrate the end of an error!

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