Stop Snoring With A Good Mouthpiece

tbsmpYou can have the best snoring mouthpiece if you meticulously research it. First, try to visit the nearest mall or shops near you and ask if they are selling these snoring mouthpieces. Some of them will find the product new to their ears but there are also store outlets who sell this kind of product. The good thing about seeing the actual mouthpiece is you can make comparisons and determine if it is really suitable for you. Of course, you can also be assured that you are not scammed if you find the best snoring mouthpiece in a mall or shop. In fact, you can even try it out while you’re there!

However, if there are no snoring mouthpieces available in your area, the best thing to do is to research online. Buying online is way convenient than buying in malls or shops; but you should be careful in choosing a seller because scams are almost anywhere. Try to research or read product reviews as well as the company’s profile. Do not just rely on the things that are posted but take time to consider the reviews given by their previous customers. Through this way, you can get the best snoring mouthpiece for your needs.

Advantages Of Stop Snoring Mouthpiece

Snoring can signal a medical condition. This should not be ignored because it might get worse over time. This is the reason why the stop snoring mouthpiece is now available. Basically, the mouthpiece is used when a person sleeps. It helps create a clear airway passage; thus, it allows proper oxygenation to the brain and other parts of the body. It is not just a simple accessory for sleeping but it is also a useful tool towards a good sleeping pattern. People who use the stop snoring mouthpiece will have an improved breathing pattern and will experience less snoring episodes when sleeping. It comes in different quality so users should choose the right mouthpiece for his/her needs.

Although some people aren’t big fans of anti-snoring mouthpieces, there are a number of users already who find it very useful in day to day living. Suddenyl, they can sleep peacefully and their partners will not hear their annoying sounds. The stop snoring mouthpiece may be an investment to make but there is no harm in trying it. It can be the best way to alleviate your snoring episodes and correct any existing medical conditions related to it. Some solid reviews are here.

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It’s A Shame About Rail

iasarFor at least a generation now, many environmentalists have promoted rail transit as one of the most environmentally sound forms of transportation. Massive federal, state, and local investment in rail systems, they argue, should be part of any serious effort to kick our auto-dependency habit. A Worldwatch Institute paper, “Back on Track: The Global Rail Revival,” cites no fewer than 10 advantages of rail over highways, including “greater energy efficiency, less dependence on oil, less air pollution, lower greenhouse emissions, less traffic congestion, fewer injuries and deaths, less land paved over, [enhanced] local economic development, [more] sustainable land use patterns, and greater social equity.”

Unfortunately, however, rail systems in the United States have often been deliberately designed to benefit not the city or region as a whole, but a handful of powerful propertied owners. In fact, decisions about rail transit – why it should be built, where it should go, who it should serve – have not been arrived at democratically, but have been heavily influenced by developers as well as financial and corporate interests. These parties have been interested not so much in rail transit per se, but in the profits to be earned from the often positive impacts of rail stations on property values. The consequences of this developer-led rail strategy has, among other things, exacerbated sprawl and increased the isolation of poor communities, especially poor communities of color.

Transit advocates often argue that better land-use planning will counter detrimental developer-led rail projects by restricting irrational uses of land through zoning and “market” disincentives. But the rhetoric of “land use” underestimates the power of the propertied elite to undermine the well-being of the general community. Property ownership is power and the struggle for power is politics. Real estate developers have reaped huge profits by using their power, born of their control of large amounts of land, to heavily influence political decisions about the design and development of rail transit systems.

Trolley Nostalgia

This is nothing new. As early as the 1830s, developers were using the steam railroad lines to create the first American suburbs, populated primarily by elites who could afford the high fares. Harlem, Cambridge, White Plains and New Rochelle, all of which are now ensconced within large metropolitan areas, owe their existence to the steam railroads and developers that propagandized together on behalf of suburban living.

In 1886, the electrified streetcar, the trolley, began appearing on city streets. Most trolley companies were owned by real estate companies that were more interested in land speculation than in building and operating quality transportation systems. These companies built trolley lines from the central business district (CBD) to the outskirts of the city where they or an affiliate owned land. Even before their completion, the trolley lines generated a dramatic increase in land value and the “transit operators” profited from the capital gains made from selling developed properties.

The trolley systems themselves, however, were poor investments, averaging a return of less than one percent of invested equity. In fact, from the beginning, most trolley systems were necessarily subsidized by the profits made from the capital gains on increased land values. By World War I, most trolley companies were in financial trouble. By 1919 trolley bankruptcies were so frequent that President Wilson established a commission to investigate the problem. The commission found that one of the major causes of the bankruptcies was the “over-building into unprofitable territory or to promote real-estate enterprises, involved sometimes with political improprieties.” By the 1920s, most trolley companies around the country had been municipalized or were in receivership.

The Highway Explosion

As early as the 1920s, automobile and trolley congestion along with growth of obnoxious industry” and the worker housing that sprung up around it had become problems in CBDs, threatening current and future downtown property values. Downtown needed to be reclaimed. The solution? Decentralization. The tools to do it? Zoning and expressways: zoning to designate some areas for “industrial-use only” and restrict downtown land uses to office and shopping uses; expressways to facilitate suburban access to the central business district and the development of cheap land for big profits.

It worked. From the 1930s to the early 1970s, ever increasing federal investment in highways along with federal institutions that encouraged the construction of suburban single-family homes (like the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation) accelerated decentralization. Developers of suburban residential real estate reaped huge profits. Industry was zoned out of the CBD into less desirable land, often bordering low-income communities or communities of color. Downtown, freed from the dual menace of industry and poverty was saved, or so it seemed.

By the late 1950s though, downtown real estate moguls became concerned that decentralization had gotten out of hand as the new “edge cities,” which developed along the beltways and at highway intersections, began attracting business away from downtown. “The expressway boom had succeeded to the point that the decentralization process was in danger of going too far, threatening the viability of CBD and downtown property values,” writes political economist Larry Sawers in his essay, The Political Economy of Urban Transportation. “Urban renewal and regional subway systems were the major new responses to the crisis situation.”

Rail Revival

As early as the mid-1940s, several corporations in San Francisco formed the Bay Area Council, and planned the rail system that eventually became the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). In 1959 business interests in New York City, headed by Rockefeller Center and Chrysler, formed the Regional Plan Association, and became a major force in regional transit planning. In the 1960s, the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce advocated aggressively for what eventually became the MARTA subway system (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority). In cities such as Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Cleveland, major downtown employers and business groups advocated for the construction or expansion of rail systems.

The federal government-responding, in part, to the concerns of one of its most cherished constituents – got rapid rail religion. In 1964, the Urban Mass Transit Administration (UMTA) was established, creating, for the first time, a pot of money for the construction of new local rail systems.

The federal government was also reacting to a growing anti-highway sentiment across the country. The expressway boom had done much more than compromise the value of downtown real estate values. It had destroyed whole communities. New federally funded rail systems, it was argued, would serve communities, not pave over them. Rail systems were largely viewed by the public as an unqualified social good. The “debate” was not over whether the systems should be built, but how to build them so as to ensure maximal social benefit.

Thirty years and more than $20 billion in federal dollars later, however, maximal social benefit has not been secured. Most of the new rail systems radiate out from downtowns toward the outer suburbs. As noted by John Pucher and Fred Williamson, the metro systems that opened or expanded in Washington, Baltimore, Atlanta, and Miami, and the extension of older subway systems in New York, Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia are “more characteristic of commuter rail than of traditional subway systems, with much wider spacing between stops, higher speeds, and above all, more of a focus on serving the work commutation needs of high-income suburbanites.” The purpose and effect:to promote downtown and suburban property values.

Rail and Social Justice

Because American cities and suburbs are largely segregated by race and class, one result of building rail systems designed to benefit suburban and downtown locations has been to exacerbate inequities.

In Los Angeles, for example, the average subsidy for users of the long-distance commuter train “METROLINK” is $28 per ride; for inner city bus riders, it is a meager $1.17. Most recently, the Los Angeles transportation authority proposed to raise bus fares and eliminate the monthly unlimited-use pass in order to help cover the costs of its rail system. A 1990 US Department of Transportation survey also found that bus riders have the lowest incomes of any modes, with 32 percent earning less than $15,000 and only four percent earning $80,000 or more. In contrast, only 15.6 percent of commuter rail users have incomes below $15,000 while 19 percent earn $80,000 or more. As a report from the right-wing CATO Institute frankly admitted, “If public transit subsidies benefit anyone, they benefit affluent suburbanites, not the poor.”

Just as many real estate agents view people of color as threats to property values, many. developers see communities of color as a potential obstacle to the substantial increase in property values that often accompanies the siting of a rail station. As a result, it is often difficult to get rail stations placed in communities of color as the predominately African-American community of Anacostia located in Southeast Washington discovered. “Metro went 50 miles into the suburbs before it went into Southeast Washington,” says environmental and labor activist Paul Ruffins, “And it went to the homes of people who had cars before it reached the people who didn’t have cars.”

Even when rail service is extended into disadvantaged communities, transit-related gentrification has occurred. Rhonda Gail Grass, studying Washington DC’s Metrorail system, found a strong correlation between increases in property values created by the siting of Metrorail stations and the gentrification of traditionally African-American neighborhoods. In the Capitol South neighborhood, for example, property values (adjusted for inflation) between 1970 and 1980 increased by 51 percent. For the same period, the African-American population in the area fell by 47.5 percent. In the Woodley Park neighborhood for the same period, property values increased by 175 percent while the African-American population dropped by 24 percent. Many of the displaced were forced to move to low-rent areas where bus service was poor and access to Metrorail difficult.

Revolutionizing Rail

There is nothing inherently wrong with rail systems. It is not difficult to. imagine rail transit as a critical part of a comprehensive strategy to revitalize the urban core and improve the environment. However, powerful property holders have dictated decisions about how rail systems should be built and who they should serve. One significant result has been the exacerbation of sprawl. Sprawl has intensified the ecological problems associated with automobile dependency as well as accelerated the abandonment of the urban core.

Ultimately, the utilization of land to generate private profit conflicts with the twin pillars of democracy – popular sovereignty, the ability to hold power accountable – and personal liberty, freedom from arbitrary control. Building rail systems that prioritize the profits of commercial and residential real estate developers violates the dictates of democracy by holding both individuals and communities hostage to their bottom lines.

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Corporations And Congress: Why Even Hide Bribery Anymore?

gopacWhen corporations give millions of dollars to members of Congress, what are they buying? Friends in high places? Sympathetic interpretations of laws and regulations? Special favors written into laws? Access to strategy sessions in back rooms? Tax breaks? Other direct benefits for themselves?

The answer is, “All of the above.” Corporations are giving to get, plain and simple. And it works.

The tens of millions of dollars that corporations pay into congressional campaign war chests each year come back to the corporations in the form of significant and tangible rewards worth hundreds–if not thousands–of times more than their campaign contributions.

A good example is House Speaker Newt Gingrich. For years, Gingrich headed the GOP Action Committee, or GOPAC, which accepted millions of dollars in secret donations from individuals and corporations with the explicit purpose of seizing control of Congress. It worked. But now the Federal Election Commission has charged that Gingrich broke the law when he failed to register GOPAC as a federal political action committee. “Phoney charges,” Gingrich retorted.

Gingrich maintains that he never provided political favors in return for the huge contributions to GOPAC. But recently released GOPAC documents–5,000 pages worth–tell a different story.

Take, for example, the exchange of letters between Gingrich and Miller Nichols, the former chairman of the J. C. Nichols Co., a national real estate firm based near Kansas City, Missouri. On Jan. 19, 1990, Nichols wrote to Gingrich: “Replying to your letter of Dec. 19, 1989, in which you solicited our continued support… I am pleased to respond favorably and enclose my check to GOPAC in the amount of $10,000. ”

Then Nichols pointed out a piece of critical information: “For your information, I list below my record of giving since 1985. My total support… equals $59,000.” This generosity qualified Nichols as one of GOPAC’s largest contributors. (In addition to the $59,000 he gave to GOPAC, Nichols had given $1,000 to Gingrich’s reelection campaign in 1988, and would give another $1,250 to reelect Gingrich in 1991.)

The letter closed with a plea: “The federal government is causing the J.C. Nichols [Company]… a great deal of financial distress. This is in connection with the asbestos regulations… It is costing my company millions and millions of dollars to comply with federal regulations.”

Gingrich wrote back, assuring Miller that he would “look into” the “problematic asbestos regulations.” Nowhere in their letters did either man mention that asbestos exposure is estimated to be taking the lives of 8,200 to 9,700 people in the US each year, nor that this epidemic is expected to continue for another 20 to 30 years, killing upwards of 300,000 Americans before the devastation subsides.

The GOPAC files released to the public do not indicate what further action Gingrich took on this matter. They do show, however, that on April 24, 1991, Gingrich wrote to William K. Reilly, then administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), about the issues Miller had raised in his letter to him: “I am writing you with concern over the crisis that is arising in our courts from asbestos litigation.” A copy of the letter was forwarded to Nichols.

“When lawmakers write letters on behalf of their cash constituents, that’s what payback is all about,” said Ellen Miller of the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C,, the nation’s preeminent tracker of money-in-politics. Such “payback”–or, more accurately, bribery–is a blatant violation of the Ethics in Government Act of 1989, which states, “No member of Congress shall solicit or accept anything of value from a person…whose interests may be substantially affected by the performance or non-performance of the individual’s official duties.”

Gingrich dismisses such charges as “phoney.” His chief critic in Congress, David Bonior (D-MI), claims otherwise: “Newt Gingrich’s road to power was paved with a corrupt mix of secret contributions, hidden campaign spending, and political payoffs to multi-million dollar donors who had a direct interest in federal legislation.” Bonior may be right (only time and a federal investigation will tell), but what he’s complaining about isn’t all that unusual.

Upjohn’s Big Payoff

The game is played in many ways. Center for Responsive Politics researcher Nancy Watzman became suspicious when she came across the following sentence in the 1995 House Appropriations Bill: “[A]ny industrial discharge to the Kalamazoo Water Reclamation Plant is exempt from ..the Federal Water Pollution Control Act…”

Why had this stipulation been made? After some digging, Watzman learned that the sentence benefited the Upjohn Company with an exemption from the Clean Water Act for effluents produced from its gigantic pharmaceutical plant in Portage, Michigan.

In tracking why this payoff might have been made, Watzman found that, during the first half of 1995, Upjohn’s PAC paid $17,500 to congressional representatives, 71 percent of it to Republicans. In return for that $17,500, certain members of Congress wrote the exemption language into the appropriations bill. With this exemption, Upjohn could save up to $500,000 each year by dumping toxics, such as 1,2-dichloroethane, down the sewer at little or no cost.

But for nearby communities, this one sentence could translate into serious health problems as the toxins flow into waterways. According to a fact sheet published by the New Jersey Department of Health, exposure to 1,2-dichloroethane causes cancer and genetic damage. The National Library of Medicine computer system, which provides public access to government data on toxic releases, reports that Upjohn’s Portage plant dumped 250 pounds of 1,2-dichloroethane into the local sewage treatment plant in 1993. That same year, Upjohn paid premium prices to get rid of an additional 232,000 pounds of 1,2-dichloroethane, shipping it to hazardous waste companies like Chem Waste Management in Sauget, Illinois.

But 1,2-dichloroethane isn’t the only chemical that Upjohn may soon dump down the drain. if granted the proposed Congressional exemption, Upjohn may be able to dump the following toxic wastes that it presently ships off-site to hazardous waste processors into nearby waterways: 43,000 pounds of 2-methoxyethanol (which causes birth defects in animals and “may damage the testicles” in human males, according to the New Jersey Department of Health); 405,000 pounds of formaldehyde (a “probable” carcinogen in humans, and a mutagen); 155,000 pounds of methyl ethyl ketone (a potent teratogen, causing birth defects in animals); 3.2 million pounds of dichloromethane (which causes liver and lung cancers in animals); 4.3 million pounds of toluene (which “may cause genetic damage” and “may damage the developing fetus,” the New Jersey Department of Health says); and 41,000 pounds of ethylene glycol which is known to cause birth defects in animals and “may damage the developing fetus” in humans.

For Upjohn, a mere $17,500 could easily translate into millions of dollars in pay-offs–and disease and death for Upjohn’s unfortunate neighbors.

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Will The Disabled And Public Transit Ever Get Along?

ptegaFor many able-bodied travelers, the public transit system is often difficult to navigate; for disabled patrons, it’s a virtual obstacle course and accessibility isn’t just about getting from point A to B, it’s also about staying safe. The 49 million persons with disabilities in this country include individuals impaired at birth, accident victims, veterans, and the elderly with varying degrees of motor, sight, hearing, or mental disabilities. They are black and white, young and old, rich and poor. But a significant number share one thing in common: they rely almost exclusively on public transportation to get around.

According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), it’s not uncommon for 10 to 15 percent of riders in smaller communities to be disabled. In all regions, the number of disabled transit riders is expected to increase significantly with enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) of 1990, which prohibits discrimination against disabled persons in the areas of employment, public services, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications.

The ADA has its roots in a twenty year old landmark court case, Cherry v. Mathews, which established America’s first Civil Rights Act for persons with disabilities in 1973. Jim Cherry, an energetic disability rights advocate, Legislative Director for the Southeastern Paralyzed Veterans Association in Atlanta, Georgia and Chairman of the Olympics Committee on Disability Access was the plaintiff in the case. Says Cherry, “Most of the ADA are restatements of requirements established years earlier, but now the ADA is uniform, comprehensive and provides additional compliance and enforcement power.”

Nearly 80 percent of disabled persons who use public transportation rely on regular fixed-route buses. A major priority has been to equip buses with wheelchair lifts and “kneeling” stairs, as well as to “cut” curbs at points of entry for bus stops and transit stations. Other priorities include adding textured strips at the edge of train platforms to enable sightless persons to get on and off the trains without injury, operable elevators, and multimedia information kiosks (with braille) that ban make navigating the transit system easier.

For those whose disability prevents them from accessing buses on all or some routes, the ADA requires transit systems to provide complementary paratransit services – a demand-responsive, curb-to-curb service offered throughout 3/4 mile corridors on either side of the regular bus routes. Says Dianne Chasen Lipsey, Staff Director of The Coalition for ADA Paratransit based in Washington DC, “The consistent availability of paratransit services has dramatically increased the range of work and social options for people with disabilities. But the per-trip cost and the growth in demand have hit the industry at the very time it is struggling to compensate for a 50 percent reduction in federal operating assistance industrywide.”

Not withstanding the dearth of available dollars for capital investments, APTA estimates that operational expenses to satisfy ADA requirements could exceed $200 million per year. The transit industry also worries that health and human service agencies will discontinue transportation services for their clients and instead “dump” them on the local public transit system that is now required by ADA to provide these services.

The lack of funding for transportation services for the disabled is particularly acute in low-income communities and communities of color. For example, Disabled in Action, an advocacy group based in Atlanta, Georgia, notes that “though Atlanta has a modernized transit system, it is still inaccessible to people who are forced to live in poverty.” The organization, headed by Reverend Calvin Peterson, represents the poverty-stricken disabled community at meetings with the Metro Atlanta Rail and Transit Authority, and pushes for better maintenance of elevators, transit redesigns, and paratransit services in low-income neighborhoods.

Nationwide, the disabled community’s struggle for increased access to opportunity is America’s timeless story: a pressing need for assistance and a call for justice met by financial resistance and political equivocation. But the disabled community is committed to winning its rights in all areas, including transportation. Writes Reverend Peterson, “We must devise a system that can accommodate all people.”

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Globalization Brings Grief

gbgTransnational corporations are mightily resistant to any attempts at being drawn out of their self-assembled shadows. As the main sponsors of the complex phenomenon we call “globalization,” they now dominate the lives of most of the world’s peoples. These exalted enterprises of capitalism still prefer us to view them as one would a typical magic act: Look on in fascination, applaud if you like, but never examine too scrupulously the physical props the performers use in their work.

Most of the lay public has fallen under the spell of these corporate magicians. “Globalism,” “free trade,” “free markets,” and their cousins in the economic lexicon have turned into fetishes for many firm believers. Public gyrations around these empty terms only give us the illusion of debate. Yet global economic growth comes to us with a large and clearly-marked price tag–with the cost borne both in terms of human suffering and environmental degradation.

The theory espoused most regularly by apologists for “free trade” is both simple and resilient: All barriers and regulations that might impede the free flow of capital or restrict the operations of the market should be dismantled. Why? They claim it is the natural order of life (using such compelling analogies for this “natural” economic order as the “rising tide that raises all boats”) and that naysayers are just backward or maintain petty “special interests.”

Jeremy Brecher and Tim Costello are prominent naysayers. To their credit, they’ve been at it for years–sounding a warning about the adverse consequences of globalization while advancing alternatives. Global Village or Global Pillage: Economic Reconstruction from the Bottom Up, their latest book, amplifies and extends what they have long been writing. “Local and national governments, political parties, trade unions, grassroots organizations, farm, environmental, and other advocacy groups–all have been outflanked by global corporations, institutions and markets,” they write. “All of them have a crucial role to play in reversing the race to the bottom–but they can play it only if they redefine themselves as part of a global effort to change the rules of the game.”

The authors are on to something critical–the entire discussion needs to be reconfigured. They point out: “Although globalization has become a buzzword, discussion in the political arena and the media generally remains rooted in the paradigms of nation-based economies…” They note that the terms of such trade agreements as NAFTA and GATT did not basically concern classical free trade but, rather, explicitly eliminated government regulations that might get in the way of investment or profit maximization.

Brecher and Costello answer the question posed by their book’s title by indicating in no uncertain terms that corporations are plundering the planet. Their central theme is an argument against what they term “the race to the bottom”–the business of allocating capital according to its maximum comparative advantage. In accepting the premise that every country must maximize its comparative advantage, they argue, we only succeed in playing country against country, community against community, habitat against habitat, and worker against worker in one continuously negative whipsawing effect. As Harper’s magazine’s Walter Russell Mead points out, this effect is more complicated than simply sending First World factories into the Third World; it also means importing Third World economic pressures and social conditions into First World lives.

But the core of Global Village or Global Pillage is the proposition that citizen action on a range of fronts–what they call “The Lilliput Strategy”–can substantially correct the perils of this globalization. The authors propose to ratchet social standards upward through such measures as codes of conduct for corporations, public involvement in trade agreements and democratic input on investment decisions made by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. They put forth a range of examples of actions that could lead to supplanting the corporate global agenda with a global human agenda.

Global Village or Global Pillage succeeds in being at least as much manifesto and pep talk, rallying the forces of resistance to corporate domination, as explanatory text. This is the handbook for activists seeking tactical advice and a listing of resources to begin countering the power of corporations. This is not generic academic prose but the affirmations of passionate partisans of the interests of working people, and succeeds as a mindful effort to communicate complex ideas of political economy to a non-specialist audience.

However, Brecher and Costello risk the distortions of overemphasis or underemphasis in their advocacy effort. Many of their examples cry out for greater development. Not the least of these is the story, of the relative impotence of the US labor movement.

The wage squeeze is arguably the most important problem facing working people in the United States. While almost one-fifth of the jobs in the US pay at a rate below the poverty line, our political leaders would have us believe the economy is “overheating.” We now tolerate uncomfortably high unemployment rates–rates that don’t include the people warehoused in prisons. The real spendable hourly earnings for the bottom 80 percent of US workers has fallen back to a level last reached in 1965. Disparities in wealth are growing even faster than incomes. With some concerted effort, we certainly can live in a globalizing world economy and not pay the price that US workers are now paying. We should counter the power of corporations at home as we work to counter the lower wages of workers abroad.

David Korten’s new book, When Corporations Rule the World, is just the kind of critical, interpretive inquiry into the impacts and methods of global businesses we have long needed. It skillfully illuminates many of the facets of economic globalization in a seamless integration of theory and case study. This is a wonderful text, lavish in its lessons and insights, as these lustral core comments witness: “Economic globalization is the foundation on which the empires of the new corporate colonialism are being built,” and “Market tyranny may be more subtle than state tyranny, but it is no less effective in enslaving the many to the interests of the few.”

The growing dominance of economic globalization is resulting in murkier borders not just around nation states but within them as well. Korten insightfully details the many ways our conceptual maps must change. “We have long thought of the world as divided into rich and poor countries. As economic globalization progresses, we find growing islands of great wealth in poor countries and growing seas of poverty in rich countries. The North and South distinction is now most meaningfully used to acknowledge the reality of a world divided by class lines more than by geography.”

When Corporations Rule the World is a very thorough and comprehensive guide to the unprecedented human gamble of globalization. It is also very much the story of David Korten, MBA and PhD, from Stanford Business School, faculty member of Harvard University’s Business School, with over 30 years of field experience in Asia, Africa, and Latin America working for the likes of the Ford Foundation, USAID, and the Harvard Institute for International Development. Korten is one of those people who rose through the ranks of big business and managerial elites until he was compelled by first-hand experience to critically reexamine the language of economics he had learned so well.

The prescriptive agendas for change of both books are easily the most problematic. In part, the problem is one of voice and language; discredited terms such as “free trade,” “capitalism,” and “markets” even get redeployed. Only the usual suspects–with cultural workers conspicuously absent–are rounded up for the roles of agents of change. In part, the problem is simply that it is much harder to project clear images of positive, alternative scenarios.

The fundamentals of both books’ authors alternative visions are, however, quite sound: They both subordinate the market and the institutions of production and distribution to some form of community, and both subscribe to the radical notion that the economy should serve society, not society the economy.

Good, useable, counter-narratives to the corporate spin on globalization are in relatively short supply. These need not be books analyzing the political economy. Stories such as Sallie Tisdale’s account, in New Republic magazine, of her experience trying to buy a pair of athletic shoes made in the USA is another such counter-narrative. It was not easy to do, she writes, even though she was shopping in her home town of Portland, Oregon, a place she shares with the headquarters of Nike. In her search, she learned about the 15- or 16-hour days of young Indonesian girls working for 15 cents an hour or less, with mandatory overtime, housed as virtual prisoners under military threat. This is the shameful face behind the mask of a successful global industry, the viewing of which helps us better understand bloodless abstractions like “downsizing” or “privatization.”

The Nike example does not go unnoticed by either Korten or Brecher and Costello. “The $20 million that basketball star Michael Jordan reportedly received in 1992 for promoting Nike shoes exceeded the entire annual payroll of the indonesian factories that made them,” Korten points out in a ripely ironic illustration, also used by Brecher and Costello. Nike is by no means unique in its wholesale shift of rewards away from those who produce real value. It is joined in this pursuit by what Bennett Harrison calls a “boundary-spanning network of firms” combining “decentralization of production” with “concentration of control.”

But Nike is a useful example of globalization because, much like the images sold in its ads, the real item for sale in the global economy is amorphous: It is an attitude of assurance and certainty, a kind of triumphant cockiness, an anything-goes license to “Just do it!” What “it” is is left up to the imagination. (Perhaps because of this, fewer than half of the purchasers of Nike Air Jordan shoes actually use them for the sport for which they were designed. This is what Nike’s designers call “implied performance.”

So, too, is there an implied performance in the design of the global economy. Yet, in many ways, globalism is merely a “turbo-charged” capitalism. The creative destruction of old skills, companies, even entire industries just happens more quickly now. This advances global prosperity for some, but, of course, it brutally exceeds the adaptive limits of individual families, communities, and ecosystems.

The mechanism of the market is a root cause of–not an antidote to–economic depression, stagnation, uneven income distribution, the imbalance between public and private provisions, and the “externalities” of pollution. The “invisible hand of the market” erodes communal bonds and makes individual insecurity the human condition. We need to put the Earth and its diminishing resources at the center of the field, rather than market relations

It is said the very idea of the future comes in an American box. US popular culture now serves as both the medium for exporting this new globalism and the medium with which to challenge it. Chuck D. of the popular rap music group Public Enemy in a 1991 song and video “Shut ‘Em Down” addressed his audience in a fast-paced manifesto for cultural revolution as part of what he calls “the battle for the mind.” This rap promotes action specifically calling corporations to community accountability:

“I like Nike/but wait a minute/The neighborhood supports/ so put some/Money in it/Corporations owe/Dey gotta give up the dough/To da town/Or else/We gotta shut ‘em down.”

We should never trivialize the stakes or minimize the difficulties of actually contesting capital. But we should always understand that economic globalization doesn’t just happen. However complex and powerful it may be, it is formed by the decisions of real people. We can find out who makes those decisions and how the decisions are made. Most vitally, as David Korten affirms, “We can reclaim the power we have yielded to the global system and restore our ability to rebuild our communities and heal the earth as we work to create healthy societies.”

Both When Corporations Rule the World and Global Village or Global Pillage are wonderfully serviceable texts to jump-start and to fuel the interrogations of transnational corporations and economic globalization so necessary to a true appreciation of our contemporary reality. Both are, by their own accounts, more vivid murals of the problems of globalization than they are detailed maps of resolutions. Each of these authors has urgently summoned us to an honest conversation in which we should all be active participants.

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Dudley An Amazing Template For Community Rebirth

ehsBoston’s Dudley Street neighborhood is living an extraordinary story of community rebirth shaped by the dreams of ordinary people of different races and generations. This inner city neighborhood, like so many across the country, was treated like an outsider city – separate, unequal and disposable. The resident-led Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) is rebuilding it with the power of pride, organizing, and a unified vision of comprehensive community development – sustainable physical, economic and human development.

For years, Dudley looked as if an earthquake had struck, leveling whole sections – leaving blocks of vacant lots where homes and shops used to be. The earthquake that hit Dudley was neither natural nor sudden. Instead, in a pattern repeated nationally, a thriving urban community was trashed and burned. It was redlined by banks, government mortgage programs and insurance companies in a self-fulfilling prophecy of white flight, devaluation and decline. While tax money subsidized the building of segregated suburbia and upscale “urban renewal,” inner city neighborhoods like Dudley were stripped of jobs, homes and government services.

Beginning in the 1950s, disinvestment, abandonment and arson turned Dudley homes, yards and businesses into wasteland. By 1981, one-third of Dudley’s land lay vacant. It became a dumping ground for trash from around the city and state. The dumping wasn’t legal, but the violators blighted the neighborhood without fear of the law.

Residents Lead

The unnatural earthquake didn’t destroy the whole Dudley neighborhood. Many homes remained, some businesses survived. Newcomers moved in – some from across town, others from down South or across the ocean. Oldtimers and newcomers – white, Black, Latino and Cape Verdean – joined together to rebuild their neighborhood. (Today the neighborhood is about 37, percent Black, 29 percent Latino, 37 percent Cape Verdean and 7 percent white.) Over a third of Dudley’s 24,000 residents are under 18 years of age. One out of two children lives below the official poverty line.

Though it was long Boston’s most underemployed and economically impoverished neighborhood, Dudley is also richly diverse and industrious. The DSNI story challenges those who mask disinvestment, discrimination and systematic impoverishment in slanderous, scapegoating stereotypes about an “underclass culture of poverty.” Residents of disinvested neighborhoods are widely, wrongly portrayed as incapable and culpable – people with problems, but not solutions. DSNI challenges those views.

DSNI shows how effective community development begins by recognizing and reinforcing the resources and leadership within the community. Residents hold the majority of seats on DSNI’s elected board, which also includes nonprofit agencies, businesses and religious institutions. The DSNI approach encourages neighborhood residents to take stock of their varied individual and community assets and to think big and boldly as they envision the future together. In countless ways, DSNI asks people, “What can you do for your community?” and “What can your community do for you?”

The DSNI approach assumes that low-income communities have extensive resources – from multilingual residents, local businesspeople and family day care providers, to underemployed people, underutilized land and school facilities, and children with dreams and talents to share. Successful community revitalization takes a capacity-building approach rather than an “expert”-driven needs assessment/service-product delivery model. In the words of DSNI member Najwa Abdul-Tawwab, a Boston Public School teacher, what’s “key about DSNI is the word “initiative.” It works to help people initiate.”

“Don’t Dump On Us”

Organizing is the renewable energy that powers DSNI and community development – neighbor to neighbor organizing. Beginning in the 1980′s with a “Don’t Dump on Us” campaign to clean up the vacant lots (there were more than 1,300) and close down illegal trash transfer stations, DSNI organized hundreds of residents, forged a new sense of neighborhood identity and power, and forced city government to respond.

The “Don’t Dump On Us” campaign encouraged residents to transform their view of the vacant lots from a community deficit to a long-run community asset – empty space waiting to be filled with housing, businesses, community services, parks and playgrounds. “Don’t Dump On Us” told politicians, media, banks an others to stop trashing the community in every way, and start supporting its revitalization.

Through the years, DSNI has worked on many issues of environmental concern. For example, the Dudley area has been designated an Emergency Lead Poisoning Area because of the high incidence of children suffering lead poisoning from old paint and contaminated soil and water. In response, DSNI has sponsored a lead poisoning prevention campaign, including community education, soil testing and using compost to create safer soil. The neighborhood has 54 hazardous waste sites listed by the state Department of Environmental Protection, mostly contaminated with petroleum from underground storage tanks. DSNI was the first group in Boston to petition for and obtain the right of public involvement in remedying hazardous sites. According to DSNI Environmental Organizer Trish Settles, DSNI’S Environmental Committee has a collaborative relationship with the EPA, the state attorney general’s office, the city Environmental Strike team and other agencies for mapping and prioritizing future environmental cleanup.

The Dudley neighborhood suffers more than twice the rate of asthma and bronchitis as the rest of the city. Now, DSNI is working to prevent new environmental and health hazards: DSNI is participating in a broad coalition to oppose construction of an asphalt plant, which many believe will aggravate health problems such as asthma and negatively impact future socially responsible economic development.

DSNI is also active on transportation issues. With the elimination of Roxbury’s elevated Orange Line in 1986, the Dudley neighborhood was left with only limited bus service to downtown. The Midlands rail corridor was used by trains carrying suburban commuters into downtown Boston. Many Dudley residents believed that the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority didn’t want the trains to stop in neighborhoods where people of color were in the majority because that would lessen ridership from the mostly white suburbs. But in 1987, after DSNI organized to make a commuter rail line running through the neighborhood open a local station, transit officials agreed and the commuter rail stop on Dudley Street was added.

Urban Village

DSNI turned the traditional top-down urban planning process on its head. Instead of struggling to influence a process driven by city government, Dudley residents and agencies became visionaries, hired their own planning consultants and created their own bottom-up “urban village” redevelopment plan – a plan involving affordable housing, community centers, a town common, community gardens, playgrounds and economic development. This time, urban renewal would not mean “urban removal” because the residents themselves were the planners. DSNI built an unprecedented partnership with the city to implement this resident-driven redevelopment and, beginning with the strong backing of the local Riley Foundation, DSNI developed a growing network of public and private sector partners.

DSNI is dedicated to development without displacement. After realizing that piecemeal re-development would be ineffective – and could lead to speculation and displacement – DSNI decided to seek eminent domain authority over 30 acres of vacant land in the most burnt-out part of the neighborhood. DSNI made history when it became the nation’s first neighborhood group to win the right of eminent domain.

DSNI established a community land trust in the area covered by eminent domain to ensure long-term community control and housing affordability. DSNI carried out another, more detailed community planning process and began transforming Dudley’s burnt-out lots from wasteland into wealth controlled by the community. Over 240 new affordable homes have been built so far, including cooperative units, throughout the neighborhood. Hundreds of existing units have been rehabilitated by community development corporations and YouthBuild.

In addition, numerous vacant lots have been transformed into community gardens, safe green space and child play areas. A beautiful new town common was constructed at the intersection of major roadways and serves as a welcoming gateway to Dudley Village. The old Dudley Mill Works building is being converted into DSNI’s new office space and the training headquarters and charter school site for YouthBuild Boston.

DSNI has always defined its development mission as more than “bricks and mortar.” It organized a collaborative of local human service agencies to make services more coordinated and responsive to resident priorities. DSNI sponsors annual neighborhood cleanups and multicultural festivals. A local park has been rehabilitated and now hosts a summer youth camp and recreational leagues.

DSNI is an intergenerational organization, embracing youngsters and adults – children, parents and grandparents. Inner city youths are all too often robbed of opportunity, feared and expected to fail. Dudley’s young people are playing an increasingly dynamic and inspirational role. Among other things, they developed a jobs advocacy and mentoring program, created a beautiful community mural and are playing crucial roles in youth summer programs and neighborhood greening and organizing projects. Young people not only established their own Youth Committee, they also serve on the DSNI board of directors and all DSNI committees.

DSNI’s vision of a holistic urban village includes lifelong learning, thriving small businesses, farms to provide produce for local markets and restaurants, multicultural arts festivals and healthy recreation. DSNI Director Greg Watson describes the future Dudley Village as a “mecca of urban technological innovation,” with resource-efficient, safe housing, greenhouses providing year-round fresh food and employment opportunities, and much more. “This multicultural urban village” writes Watson, “is a complex system of interacting people, environments, cultures and activities, the whole of which greatly exceeds the sum of its parts.”

DSNI’s goal of comprehensive community revitalization challenges intensifying national (and international) trends toward downsized jobs and wages, irresponsible government cutbacks and heightened inequality and insecurity. DSNI is striving to build a sustainable, mutually beneficial, multicultural community, at a time when so many others choose divisiveness over diversity. The people of Dudley are pathfinders, guided by a vitally democratic vision of the future in which no one is disposable.

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