According to the Acton Institute, Thanksgiving is about Capitalism

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Organizations that are ideologically driven will often create narratives that serve their own purposes. This is exactly the case with a recent Acton Institute blog post, by Rev. Ben Johnson.

The titled of the post is, The other capitalist thanksgiving story: how trade saved the Pilgrims, and the US

This article by Rev. Johnson is full of misinformation and clearly creates a narrative to serve the Acton Institute’s ideological framework of celebrating capitalism.

The article begins by stating, “by now the Pilgrims’ disastrous experiment with collectivism in Plymouth, Massachusetts, is well-known, in free market circles if not among the young.”

The Acton writer wants to prove from the get go that collectivism or communalism doesn’t work, because the Pilgrims were a failure at it. One could hardly call the settler colonialists, living in what would later be named Massachusetts, an experiment in collectivism. The failure of the…

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Rewarding Developers again: Grand Rapids gives $29 million of tax credits to new movie theater complex project

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer and working stiffs take the bus.

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Yesterday, the Grand Rapids City Commission decided to give $29 million of public/taxpayer money as a subsidy to the new movie theater project, which will be located right behind the arena.

The $29 million is specifically for brownfield reimbursements, which will include, according to the City Commission packet for November 28

  • Baseline environmental assessment activities
  • Demolition
  • Site Preparation
  • Infrastructure Improvements
  • Brownfield Plan Amendment/Work Plan Preparation and Development
  • Prepaid Brownfield Plan Administrative Fee

Jackson Entertainment is the LLC listed for this project, but it is really a partnership between Loeks Theater Inc and 616 Development.

According to the MLive article, “the development is expected to create more than 500 jobs.” However, looking at the packet for the City Commission meeting most of the jobs are part-time and do not pay livable wages (either $11 or $12 an hour).  

The MLive article also lists the projected cost of the…

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The Question is – why does 49503 have the fastest growing income in Michigan?

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Last Friday, MLive posted a short piece about how the 49503 zip, which is in Grand Rapids, is the fastest growing income in the state of Michigan.

The article provides some data and makes it clear that the 49503 zip code is not the wealthiest zip code in Michigan, but that it has had the highest increase based on percentage. MLive states:

“Average income in the ZIP code, which includes downtown Grand Rapids, increased by 31.8 percent between 2014 and 2015 filings, the data shows. The average income reported in 2015 was $93,995.75.”

The article also provides additional data and acknowledges that there are, “about 33 percent of residents in 49503 fall below the poverty level.”

However, the MLive article doesn’t ask the logical and important question as to why the 49503 zip saw such a significant increase of income.

You can see where the borders are for the 49503…

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Let’s Stop Making Excuses for Stigma and Ignorance

The Catalysts for Change

 

Let’s face it, in today’s world, people still have ridiculous and unrealistic beliefs about mental illness. Consider the recent Las Vegas shooting, which in itself was a tragedy. There are more people stating that the fact that he was on antipsychotic medication and had mental health issue was the cause instead of looking at things such as the gun laws, and other underlying reasons behind what happened. Even though in the US, it’s easier to buy a semiautomatic assault rifle then get a prescription for a controlled substance.

When people make accusations similar to these, considering the fact that it’s 2017, it truly shows just how little the world understands mental health issues still. People still take things such as stigma and other stereotypes or outdated information and consider them in a higher regard than the actual facts, which are backed by…

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Grand Rapids, Development and Equity in a Market-driven economy

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

On Friday, MLive ran a story based on new recommendations from the Rose Center for Public Leadership in Land Use that would promote greater equity with development projects in Grand Rapids. 

These recommendations are necessarily new, as they come out of a report that was presented to Grand Rapids by the Rose Center in March 2017, which we reported on

The MLive article lists nine recommendations from the Rose Center, but before we address those recommendations, it is important to state a few things up front.

First, a major problem with these recommendations are that they are rooted in idea that we can achieve equity within a market-based system of capitalism. There is just no historical evidence that equity can be achieved within a system of capitalism. In fact, within a market-based system we can be guaranteed that there will be greater inequity – class, racial and gender…

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What it’s like to have high-functioning anxiety

Busy and in control. High-achieving and perfectionistic. Driven by details and order in a desperate attempt to calm racing thoughts, worry, and the fear that invade every ounce of the mind and body. An over-thinker with a tendency to perseverate, dwell, and stew on everything.

As much as those who experience these symptoms would like to be able to turn it off or put it on pause, they can’t. Most days, their thoughts turn into worries and their worries, in turn, consume their thoughts. This creates a constant state of “what if?”

But this isolated turmoil is often hidden by smiles and laughs, success and achievements, and a decent dose of extroversion. Ironically, this nervous energy is what keeps them moving forward. It’s always there pushing them to do more, achieve more, succeed more, and be better.

This is the face of “high-functioning” anxiety.

Read more of this post

The Catalysts for Change

by Sara Lindberg via Headspace

Busy and in control. High-achieving and perfectionistic. Driven by details and order in a desperate attempt to calm racing thoughts, worry, and the fear that invade every ounce of the mind and body. An over-thinker with a tendency to perseverate, dwell, and stew on everything.

As much as those who experience these symptoms would like to be able to turn it off or put it on pause, they can’t. Most days, their thoughts turn into worries and their worries, in turn, consume their thoughts. This creates a constant state of “what if?”

But this isolated turmoil is often hidden by smiles and laughs, success and achievements, and a decent dose of extroversion. Ironically, this nervous energy is what keeps them moving forward. It’s always there pushing them to do more, achieve more, succeed more, and be better.

This is the face of “high-functioning” anxiety.

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Grassroots Responses to Big Philanthropy: Grand Rapids Activism in the Shadow of Amway, ArtPrize and DeVos

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

Last week, I was asked to be part of a panel discussion for a conference being held in downtown Grand Rapids and organized by the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA).

The organization itself doesn’t seem to be focused on systems of oppression and collective liberation, but the panel I was asked to participate in was headed in the right direction.

The title of the panel session was, Grassroots Responses to Big Philanthropy: Grand Rapids Activism in the Shadow of Amway, ArtPrize and DeVos. The title was reflective of something that I have spent a great deal of energy on, both monitoring the DeVos family, providing analysis of their type of philanthropy and how we need to counteract the insidious nature of the millions this family distributes in order to serve their own interests.

As I write this, it is Giving Tuesday, which seems appropriate, considering…

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Acton Institute constructs a video to paint those protesting their annual event as “uncivil”

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

On October 18, an estimated 25 people confronted Acton Institute supporters as they entered the DeVos Convention Center on their way to the organization’s annual event. 

The purpose of the action was to challenge the Acton Institute’s keynote speaker, Betsy DeVos, and to make those attending the event feel uncomfortable. Some of the people attending the Acton Institute Gala are part of the Grand Rapids power structure, since many of them are business people who also push the same kinds of neoliberal policies, like privatization and attacks on the public sector, that the Acton Institute so aggressively promotes.

We recently posted a critique of the October 18 talk given by Acton co-founder, Rev. Robert Sirico. Besides mocking those who protested the event, Sirico made the claim that his organization doesn’t believe in class struggle, they believe in “class encounter.”

Last week, the Acton Institute posted a video that seeks to…

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John Merrow and Thomas Toch Debate Michelle Rhee’s Strategy for Running Urban Schools

janresseger

A debate about school reform has been raging on the pages of The Washington Monthly—between Thomas Toch, a defender of what is frequently called “corporate school reform” and John Merrow, the retired education reporter for the PBS NewsHour.  The subject: Washington, D.C. school reform as launched by Michelle Rhee and further evolved during the tenure of Kaya Henderson and others whom Henderson hired.  This now-old story about the D.C. public schools still matters, because the theories and practices introduced by Michelle Rhee a decade ago in the nation’s capital continue to drive the operation of urban school districts across the United States.

Thomas Toch formerly led the think tank Education Sector and now serves as the director of FutureEd, an education think tank at Georgetown University. The July-August, Washington Monthly published Toch’s  Hot for Teachers, a paean to what he believes is a decade of public school…

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Eva Moskowitz Likely to Continue Plaguing the Recently Re-Elected NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio

janresseger

On the morning after the recent election, POLITICO New York Education reminded us that newly re-elected New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio had delayed important education decisions until after the election.  POLITICO‘s Eliza Shapiro and Keshia Clukey point readers to an upcoming and likely contentious fight about expanding the co-location of charter schools into public schools, a battle NYC’s charter school diva, Eva Moskowitz is ready to launch.

You can read about Eva Moskowitz in a clever and entertaining review in The Nationof Eva’s new memoir, The Education of Eva Moskowitz.  Megan Erickson, a NYC public school teacher and the book’s reviewer quotes Eva describing her own belief in controversy on behalf of her Success Academy Charter Schools: “If the day ever comes when I think something is okay simply because district schools do it, I hope my board fires me… To achieve excellence, one must fight…

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