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Series | Rebooting the American Dream, Part 4

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  • 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country: Back to the Future
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  • Part 4: Stop Them From Eating My Town
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Unless you become more watchful in your states and check the spirit of monopoly and thirst for exclusive privileges you will in the end find that...the control over your dearest interests has passed into the hands of these corporations. - Andrew Jackson

Thom Hartmann, truth-out

If you like reading this article, consider contributing a cuppa jove to Evergreene Digest--using the donation button above—so we can bring you more just like it.

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(Image: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; Edited: to)

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Truthout is proud to bring you an exclusive series from America's No. 1 progressive radio host, Thom Hartmann. Starting today, we'll be publishing weekly installments of Hartmann's acclaimed new book, "Rebooting the American Dream: 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country." We invite Truthout readers to join us over the next 12 weeks as, chapter by chapter, we explore these groundbreaking ideas for national transformation. We continue today with....Stop Them From Eating My Town!

There is a huge difference between a mall full of chain stores or a big-box retailer, and a downtown area full of small, locally owned businesses. The transition from the latter to the former is what’s destroying local communities on the one hand and creating mind-boggling wealth for a very few very large corporations and multimillionaire CEOs on the other. Here’s how it works.

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As I noted in my book Unequal Protection,1 when I shop in downtown Montpelier, Vermont, and buy a pair of pants, for example, at the Stevens Clothing Store on Main Street, at the end of the day the store’s owner, Jack Callahan, takes his proceeds down to the Northfield Savings Bank and deposits them. From Stevens, I walk next door to Bear Pond Books and buy today’s newspaper, a magazine, and a copy of Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man, a book that is as fascinating today as when it was first written in 1791.

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With Democracy or Against It—There’s No In Between

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  • That’s what the Egyptian protests against U.S.-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak really represent for us: a poignant demand that we actually embody our democratic creed—a demand whose response shows an American government desperate to avoid walking its talk.
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  • Remember, President Obama told a Cairo audience in 2009 that America would unequivocally back Egyptians’ democratic aspirations.
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  • When Corporations Choose Despots Over Democracy
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David Sirota, TruthDig

In America, politicians are rarely compelled to turn rhetoric into action. Presidents make public commitments to support legislation while quietly instructing their congressional allies to kill the corresponding bills. Congresspeople then campaign on policy proposals only to make sure their respective presidents veto the initiatives.

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We all know this game—we know its rigged rules ensure plausible deniability and prevent follow through. But as the Mideast showed this week, just because those are our rules doesn’t mean everyone plays by them.

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More...http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/with_democracy_or_against_it_--_ther...

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A Call for an Unequivocal Statement of Solidarity With the Egyptian People, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Huffington Post

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  • It is time for the United States government to stand with the people of Egypt as well by ending its long-standing support of the corrupt and repressive Mubarak regime.
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  • Absent such a statement, our calls for democracy in the region ring hollow.
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  • Fear Extreme Islamists in Egypt and the Arab World? Blame Washington
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When Corporations Choose Despots Over Democracy, Amy Goodman, TruthDig
“People holding a sign ‘To: America. From: the Egyptian People. Stop supporting Mubarak. It’s over!” so tweeted my brave colleague, “Democracy Now!” senior producer Sharif Abdel Kouddous, from the streets of Cairo.

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Series | Rebooting the American Dream, Part 3

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  • 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country: Back to the Future
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  • Part 3: Roll Back the Reagan Tax Cuts!
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You must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessings. - Andrew Jackson

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Thom Hartmann, truth-out

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(Image: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; Edited: to)

Truthout is proud to bring you an exclusive series from America's No. 1 progressive radio host, Thom Hartmann. Starting today, we'll be publishing weekly installments of Hartmann's acclaimed new book, "Rebooting the American Dream: 11 Ways to Rebuild Our Country." We invite Truthout readers to join us over the next 12 weeks as, chapter by chapter, we explore these groundbreaking ideas for national transformation. We continue today with....Roll Back the Reagan Tax Cuts!

When I was in Denmark in 2008 doing my radio show for a week from the Danish Radio studios and interviewing many of that nation’s leading politicians, economists, energy experts, and newspaper publishers, one of my guests made a comment that dropped the scales from my eyes.1

We’d been discussing taxes on the air and the fact that Denmark has an average 52 percent income-tax rate. I asked him why people didn’t revolt at such high taxes, and he smiled and pointed out to me that the average Dane is very well paid, with a minimum wage that equals roughly $18 per hour. Moreover, what Danes get for their taxes (that we don’t) is a free college education and free health care, not to mention four weeks of paid vacation each year and notoriety as the happiest nation on earth, according to a major study done by the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.2

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The FBI Has Been Violating Your Liberties in Ways That May Shock You

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As Congress seeks to renew the Patriot Act, new information exposes egregious FBI violations.
How Would a Patriot Act?
Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, AlterNet

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This article is made possible with the contributions of readers like you. Thank you!

Last week (Jan 23-29), Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-VT, introduced legislation to extend the Patriot Act past its February 28 expiration date to December 2013. Though the extension once again saves some of the most nefarious, First-Amendment trampling provisions of the act -- roving wiretaps, secret access to third-party records, the hunting of targets unafilliated with foreign powers -- Leahy released a statement assuring us that the new extension will increase citizen protections.

“It will promote transparency and expand privacy and civil liberties safeguards in current law,” he said in a statement. “It increases judicial oversight of government surveillance powers that capture information on Americans. This is a package of reforms that all Americans should support.” The expanded bill would require the Department of Justice to issue public reports and generally expand oversight.

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Excerpt: How Would a Patriot Act? Glenn Greenwald (author), AlterNet
In an excerpt from his new book, Greenwald explores how fear-mongering became the most potent political tool in Bush's arsenal.
Defending American Values from Presidents (Bush and Obama) Run Amok

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps, London Guardian | UK

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  • From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush (Ed note: and by extension Barack Obama) and his administration seem to be taking them all.
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  • A review of The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot ~ Naomi Wolf
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A Call for an Unequivocal Statement of Solidarity With the Egyptian People

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  • It is time for the United States government to stand with the people of Egypt as well by ending its long-standing support of the corrupt and repressive Mubarak regime.
  • \r\n

  • Absent such a statement, our calls for democracy in the region ring hollow.
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  • Fear Extreme Islamists in Egypt and the Arab World? Blame Washington
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Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Huffington Post

If you like reading this article, consider contributing a cuppa jove to Evergreene Digest--using the donation button in the above right-hand corner—so we can bring you more just like it.

Over 2 million Egyptians gather today (Feb 1) in Cairo's Tahrir Square and in cities across the country to demand an end to Mubarak's regime in an unprecedented popular uprising. Egyptians of all classes, ages and faiths have come together to demand opportunity, education, food and housing security, and a democratic and responsive government. Despite a complete shutdown of internet and mobile phone access by President Mubarak, the Egyptian people have been able to organize the largest protests yet in a display of unparalleled national unity.

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At this historic moment, the American people must stand in solidarity with the people of Egypt as they call for a new leader and new direction in their country. It is time for the United States government to stand with the people of Egypt as well by ending its long-standing support of the corrupt and repressive Mubarak regime. Absent such a statement, our calls for democracy in the region ring hollow.

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Fear Extreme Islamists in Egypt and the Arab World? Blame Washington, Jeff Cohen, Truthout

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For decades beginning during the Cold War, US policy in the Islamic world has been aimed at suppressing secular reformist and leftist movements. Beginning with the CIA-engineered coup against a secular democratic reform government in Iran in 1953 (it was about oil), Washington has propped up dictators, coaching these regimes in the black arts of torture and mayhem against secular liberals and the left.

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The State of the Spirit, 2011

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  • Most liberals and progressives will likely spend the next twenty years either supporting political parties that don't even begin to address these issues in a holistic way (and justifying that by pointing out that candidate x is really much less bad than candidate y)
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  • Duty to Warn:  Approaching Spiritual Death
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  • Hogwash, Mr. President
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Rabbi Michael Lerner, Network of Spiritual Progressives

The bad news is that global warming will soon be irreversible and, by the end of the twenty-first century, large parts of the earth will be under water. China is emerging as the world's greatest superpower while continuing to regiment its people and repress democratic civil liberties and human rights. Just as today the West spends its energies fighting an elusive "war on terror" generated by its fantasy that its survival depends on dominating other countries to gain their fossil fuels, in the future Western elites of wealth and power may seek to create medieval-style enclaves surrounded by private Blackwater-style armies to prevent ordinary citizens from getting at their dwindling supplies of food and other goods. Most people will be encouraged to blame each other and fight each other for the decreasing sustenance left to the majority of the planet's residents.

All this is likely to happen gradually, as American power slips away and, with it, the particular opportunities that the citizens of this partial democracy fought to win in the past. Increasingly, we in the West may be taught to believe the "common sense" that people only care about themselves and that nations will always seek to dominate others to advance the interests of their own elites -- and that therefore domination, militarism, and cruelty are necessary for "us" to survive (though in fact, that "us" will be a smaller and smaller part of the entire population). And meanwhile, the pathetically inadequate safety net won through decades of citizen and labor union activism may be cut back in the name of economic frugality and keeping taxes low, at least for the wealthy who might otherwise cut back on investments and thus provide fewer and fewer jobs for the rest of us.

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Hogwash, Mr. President, Robert Scheer, Truthdig

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  • The speech was a distraction from what seriously ails us: an unabated mortgage crisis, stubbornly high unemployment, and a debt that spiraled out of control while the government wasted trillions making the bankers whole.
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  • The President Ignored the Elephant in the Room
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  • The State of the Spirit, 2011
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Duty to Warn:  Approaching Spiritual Death, Gary Kohls, Evergreene Digest

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  • Is it Too Late to Mend America’s Dying Soul?
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  • Duty to Warn: Another MLK Day is Safely Past
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Minnesota Needs a Fairer Tax System

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  • Minnesota’s lowest earners pay 9.2 percent of their income in state and local taxes while middle-income families pay 10.3 percent. Meanwhile, the state’s highest earners pay just 7.7 percent.
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  • A “no new taxes” policy shifts more of the overall tax bill on to homeowners. That tends to hit low- and middle-income Minnesotan’s harder. There are also several regressive mechanisms within the state’s property tax policy.
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Joe Sheeran, Minnesota 2020

Hey, 15th place isn’t so bad, right? Well, when you look at Minnesota in comparison to where the state’s tax system used to be and where it’s headed, 15th looks pretty glum.

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We’re not talking about taxes for corporations but how fair taxes are for all Minnesotans.

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Minnesota 2020 recently released a report that looked at the state’s tax regressivity in comparison to the rest of the nation; in other words, what proportion of income do the states’ poor and middle-class families pay in state and local taxes, compared to the states’ wealthiest.

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Minnesota’s Tax Fairness Retreat shows we’re becoming more regressive compared to the rest of the nation, slipping from 11th in 2000 to 15th in 2007 (the most recent year data was available for all states). While that number doesn’t seem so bad consider that only 11 other states had a more aggressive overall change toward regressivity than Minnesota.

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Minnesota’s Tax Fairness Retreat, Jeff Van Wychen, Minnesota 2020

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Since 2000, Minnesota’s state and local taxes have become more regressive, meaning low and moderate income families shoulder a disproportionate share of the tax load. It’s a trend happening faster in Minnesota than nearly every other state, as our latest report, Minnesota’s Tax Fairness Retreat: A 50-State Study, highlights.

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