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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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Entries tagged "california"

This Week in OtherWords: A Genetically Engineered Food Special Edition

October 10, 2012 ·

This week, OtherWords is running three commentaries and a cartoon regarding the growing number of genetically modified foods that land on our plate whether we realize it or not.

In her debut guest column, Jill Richardson challenges big food companies to boast about their penchant for these modified crops if they're so wonderful. Wenonah Hauter introduces readers to the latest newfangled food making a stir: an apple that doesn't brown when it's sliced long before it's eaten. Jim Hightower discusses the ruse maintained by General Mills, Kellogg, and other huge food companies that have bought out tiny organic outfits and tried to not let consumers know.

Any of these commentaries could accompany Khalil Bendib's Snow White cartoon, which depicts a witch handing her a new kind of poisoned apple. And all three address California's upcoming referendum on a new state rule that would require the labeling of genetically modified food. Known as Proposition 37, this requirement would have national ramifications for the industry because of California's huge market.

As always, I encourage you to subscribe to our weekly newsletter. If you haven't signed up yet, please do.

  1. Consumer Choice: As American as Apple Pie / Wenonah Hauter
    The creation of a new genetically modified apple highlights once again the need for clear labeling of this kind of food.
  2. Iran in the Campaign's Crosshairs / Chris Toensing
    Mitt Romney is playing the same cynical game as Benjamin Netanyahu.
  3. The Problem with Craig Romney and his Padre / Jason Salzman
    Mitt's Latino "ambassador" may speak Spanish, but he can't talk about real policies.
  4. The Corporate Court's War on Women / Martha Burk
    So far, not so good.
  5. Apparently, Suite Crime Does Pay / Sam Pizzigati
    The executives responsible for the financial industry's pervasive fraud are paying no personal price.
  6. Big Food Fight / Jill Richardson
    If the products they sell us are as great as they say, what are General Mills, Kraft, and other processed food behemoths hiding?
  7. Big Food Behemoths Embarrass their Organic Offshoots / Jim Hightower
    Big Food's mobilization against California's right-to-know law is making more green-minded consumers aware of the companies that own their favorite brands.
  8. Just Don't Let the Other Side Vote / William A. Collins
    Texas won't accept your student ID for voting, but your gun permit will do just fine.
  9. Poisoned Apple, 2012 / Khalil Bendib (Cartoon)

Poisoned Apple, 2012, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

Both California Senate Candidates Use IPS Reports to Slam Each Other

September 21, 2010 ·

In an election year in which voters are concerned with the record high unemployment numbers and the lack of a robust economic recovery, candidates around the country are using all they can to taint their opposing candidates’ economic records.

In California’s heated Senate race, both incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer (D) and Republican challenger Carly Fiorina have used Executive Excess reports to attack one another. The Institute for Policy Studies has published these annual reports on CEO pay for 17 years.

Friends of Barbara Boxer has cited our Executive Excess 2003 report in the attack ad below:

As the advertisement points out, we found that Fiorina laid off 25,700 workers in 2001, and then saw her pay jump 231 percent, from $1.2 million in 2001 to $4.1 million in 2002. Whereas previous HP heads had strived to avoid layoffs, IPS pay analyst Sarah Anderson described Fiorina as “like the Annie Oakley of the corporate world, coming in with her guns blazing.” Whether the layoffs directly led to her salary jump is unclear. However, it is obvious that Fiorina was a CEO that has put her own interests before her employees’ wellbeing, whether she would continue that management style if she becomes an U.S. Senator is something that no one can say for sure.

Fiorina, on the other hand, has cited our 2010 Executive Excess Report, CEOs and the Great Recession, on her website. She makes the claim that Senator Boxer has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Bank of America, Verizon, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Boeing and Microsoft—companies that have outsourced jobs and laid off workers since the beginning of our current economic recession.

Assuming that the website has correctly cited The Center for Responsive Politics, it is true that these companies that are funding Boxer’s campaign are among the top 50 “layoff leaders” in this recession. From this, you could argue that Boxer supports and is being supported by corporations that have laid off workers and have shipped workers overseas.

But unlike Fiorina during her axe-wielding days at HP, Boxer wasn’t the one directly responsible for mass layoffs.  Moreover, if you look at Boxer’s legislative record, the claim that she doesn’t support “Made in America” jobs creation is dubious. For one thing, she did support the $787 billion Recovery Act that has significantly helped lower the unemployment rate in the United States. So is Senator Boxer really a candidate that doesn’t believe in domestic job creation? It is hard to say…what do you think?

One thing we do know for sure is this: Job creation and reining in corporate executive excess are two very important issues that voters care about, which is evident from the heavy circulation and citation of our Executive Excess reports in one of the most heated electoral battles during the 2010 midterms. We are glad that both senatorial candidates are concerned with these issues. We just hope that whoever wins the election will take a look at our legislative score card at the end of our 2010 report (it starts on page 13) and actually start championing some of the legislative proposals that would rein in executive corporate excess.

Prop 8 and the Struggle for Justice

August 5, 2010 ·

defend equalityOver the more than 30 years I have spent helping to raise money for social justice work, I have frequently found myself faced with the need to turn lemons into lemonade. Authentic causes for celebration in the name of democracy, human rights, peace, or justice are few and far between. Yet, because I am a congenital optimist (hence those 30 years) and because I am frequently the person tasked to persuade a skeptical and exhausted community of progressive donors that there is reason for hope, I instinctively search for silver linings and eagerly applaud windmill-tilters.  

Yesterday’s finding by U.S. District Judge Walker, ruling California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional, evoked a memory of a nearly forgotten instance of such windmill tilting and reminded me anew that struggles for justice are incremental, that few important victories come swiftly or easily.   

One day in 1989, as the reluctant chair of the Human Relations Commission for the city of DeKalb, Illinois, I found myself testifying before the city council about the need to make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation illegal. My colleagues on the HRC and I had recently recommended unanimously to the city government that it ban such discrimination. The city council, a majority of whom we had considered certain allies, had balked and was unexpectedly voting, on the evening I recall, to duck the issue and put the idea of gay rights on the ballot!  

I was on fire with indignation — since when, I asked the assembled councilors, did we in the United States believe that the rights of the minority could be determined or curtailed by a vote of the majority. Had we learned nothing in the 125 years since the civil war? I ended the evening in tears, devastated by the betrayal of the public officials, including the mayor, who had assured me in private that they would do the right thing.  It took another ten years for discrimination in hiring or housing on the basis of sexual orientation to become illegal in DeKalb. 

Fast forward more than two decades. A federal judge, appointed by a Republican president, looks at the facts and finds himself unable to muster an excuse for justifying discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, in this instance when it comes to issuing marriage license.  

Of course, it has been too long — more than 40 years since Stonewall — but a bit of reflection confirms that progress has been real. Consciousness has changed. Paradigms have shifted. Social movements demanding justice start small with tiny, often unconnected yet simultaneous uprisings in obscure and unnoticed locales.  But, as is the case with GLBT rights, the patent reasonableness of the claim and the simple decency of the claimants eventually become obvious and, within a few decades (when we are lucky — ending slavery took centuries) become conventional wisdom.  

The kind of overt racism that was socially acceptable in 1950 had become obscene by 2000. The homophobia that was routine in 1989 in DeKalb has, at least in one very influential federal jurisdiction in California, become indefensible in 2010. The Defense of Marriage Act will soon be as much of an anachronism as Jim Crow. 

It pays to keep your eyes on the prize.