Green = Revolution

Just like us.

Just like us.

The Itinerant Artists already think that “Going Green” is pretty important from an environmental standpoint.  But these days, green means something entirely different; something that’s also very important.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you know about what’s going on in Iran.  None of us here at The Commune are experts on the situation by any means, but being the artsy, politically active bohemian-types we are, we stand in solidarity with the people of Iran who are trying to ensure that their elections are and remain fair, and that they are allowed their voices – dissident ones included.

This blog, along with many others, has gone green to show our support, and will remain so until the situation ends, or comes to a standstill.  It isn’t much, but we’re doing it in the hopes that some Iranian citizen brave enough to use the internet to organize protests might come across a sea of green and know that they shouldn’t be discouraged; that they have support; and that there’s a whole, wide world out here that cares what happens to them.

ما با شما ايستاده است. ادامه مبارزه با! 🙂

– Head Commune-ist

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Published in: on June 18, 2009 at 12:07 PM  Comments (2)  
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Waiting On the World to Change

Posted by TERESA

After passing the NY State Assembly, the vote on marriage equality in New York State is going to the State Senate.  53% of New Yorkers are in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.  Earlier today, I sent an email to my State Senator, George Onorato, asking him to support the new marriage bill, sort of assuming that I’d be preaching to the choir.  Imagine my disappointment when I received the following auto-reply from him (and it’s kind of sad that no one bothered to check his auto-reply for typos):

From: onorato@senate.state.ny.us

Thank you for your recent email expressing your support for same sex
marriage.  As you may be aware, although I have met with a number of
marriage equality advocates in Albany as well as the district, I am not in
support of the same sex marriage bill that has been proposed.
Throughout my career in the Senate, I have supported many initiatives of
importance to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,
including the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) and New York’s hate crimes law.  I am also in favor of the Dignity for All Students Act and the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA).  In addition, I have secured fudning for groups in my district serving the LGBT community and providing assistance for people with HIV and AIDS.
I sincerely respect your views, and I appreciate the time you took to
express your opinion on this issue.  Thank you agian for contacting me.

While I appreciate that he’s supported all of the above, he seems to be missing the point of this marriage bill.  How can you support a “Dignity for All Students” act, but treat adults in a less than dignified manner by allowing legal discrimination?

The bottom line is – this is a matter of rights according to the law.  The reason why “civil unions” aren’t good enough, is that there are these separate LEGAL things called “marriages” that offer more benefits and care for the partners involved.  Yet many people are determined to maintain the word “marriage” in a religious context, calling it “sacred.”  But there’s a difference between marriage in the state, and marriage in a church, or synagogue, or mosque, or temple.  It’s why, even when you get married in a church, you also have to sign a marriage LICENSE, otherwise it’s not legal.  Gay people should be allowed to get married because they are citizens, because they pay taxes, and because they are human beings.  Holding legal marriage to ONE religion’s definition is against everything this country stands for.  New York is part of the United States which, last time I checked, wasn’t a theocracy.

It’s disheartening that this particular state senator plans to vote against the wishes of the people he’s sworn to represent.  When I did more research into the senator, I discovered that he’s eighty-one years old!  He was born and raised in Astoria, and has been representing the area as a Democrat in the State Senate since 1983.   Considering that lengthy term of service, it pains me to say anything negative about him, as I have great respect for anyone who would not only choose public service as a career, but spend so much of their lives representing the place where they grew up.

And yet.

Gay marriage is a human rights issue, just as segregation was (remember those pesky miscegenation laws?), just as women’s rights were (and are).  People who are anti-gay marriage generally cite it as a moral issue.  To me, being on the wrong side of this issue by denying adult citizens the right to marry any other adult citizen they choose is an even graver moral trespass.  When I think of Senator Onorato, I can’t help but think of the John Mayer song, “Waiting on the World to Change”:

One day our generation
Is gonna rule the population
So we keep on waiting, waiting
Waiting on the world to change

I’ve found myself saying a lot recently that my friends and I are getting to the age where we’re beginning to take over the world.  🙂  Not in the diabolical, cartoon-mad-scientist sense, but in the very real sense of moving up in our careers, becoming the taste and decision makers that shape things.  Every time I turn around, another friend or acquaintance of mine is in charge of some department, or has become a teacher and is shaping young minds, or has become an artist with the talent to sway the population.  So, I find myself thinking the sad, yet realistic thought that there won’t be any real change made on this front until there are more of us and less of the old guard.  It’s the way of the world, I suppose.

Published in: on May 13, 2009 at 5:11 PM  Comments (2)  
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The Corporations Are Running Scared

Posted by ADAM

I just got this e-mail from Citibank, which is the lender on my student loans.

Dear ADAM [last name deleted],

Thank you for the opportunity to help you obtain the education of your choice. As a student loan provider for the past 50 years, Citi has provided financial aid assistance to millions of students and parents nationwide.

Given the challenging economy and continued increases in the cost of higher education, it is critical that the U.S. student lending system serves the best interests of students and their families. If you believe that competition and choice among student loan providers is valuable, you have an opportunity to make your voice heard.

Why Get Involved?
The government budget outline proposes offering federal student loans solely through the federal government’s Direct Lending Program starting July of next year. While this proposal will not impact a borrower’s ability to obtain a federal student loan, it will eliminate your ability to choose a student loan provider. It will also substantially increase the national debt since each and every federally-insured student loan will be funded by the Federal Treasury through the issuance of treasury securities. This proposal impacts you as a citizen – both as a taxpayer and as a borrower.

Why Does Competition And Choice Matter?
Without private lender involvement through the Federal Family Education Loan Program, students and their families will not enjoy the benefits that competition has made possible for more than 40 years. This competition has provided not only a choice of lenders, but also innovative products and services, such as:
– a variety of borrower benefits that lower your cost of borrowing
– financial literacy programs that educate you on how to borrow responsibly
– web-based tools and resources to advise you about your financing options
– default prevention services to help you pay back your loans

Competition also has driven increased customer satisfaction as a result of the responsiveness, personal attention and on-campus support that student loan lenders have provided to borrowers and schools nationwide.

Make Your Voice Heard
If you value the ability to shop for, evaluate and choose your student loan provider, make your voice heard by contacting your Members of Congress and by signing one of the online petitions that support borrower choice and competition in federal student lending.

Sincerely,
The Student Loan Corporation

I replied:

Dear Student Loan Corporation,

Respectfully, I believe direct government lending is a wonderful idea and will benefit college students greatly. If I were going to college now and not ten years ago, I would certain avail myself of that program. You wrote about the importance of competition. Competition from the government shouldn’t concern you unless your company works inefficiently, something that would indicate poor corporate structure. If you believe your company is flawed in this way, you should try to make it more efficent to better serve the needs of your clients and maximize your profit. That is the solution to competition from government loan providers, not a carefully worded e-mail designed to mobilize your clients on your behalf by giving them misleading information. Preying on their ignorance in this way is unlikely to work — they are all college graduates, after all.

Sincerely,
Adam [last name deleted]

Published in: on May 13, 2009 at 2:26 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Happy Obama Moment of the Day – 5/7/09

Posted by ADAM

It seems like every day there’s a little bit of good news and Barack Obama is to blame. Here’s today’s:

STATUE OF LIBERTY’S CROWN TO REOPEN JULY 4

The Statue of Liberty’s crown, which was closed after the 9/11 attacks, will reopen to the public on July 4, the White House announced on Friday morning. The decision, by the Obama administration, is a reversal of the previous policy.

Under the Bush administration, the Interior Department, which includes the National Park Service, had insisted that visitors could not be permitted because the crown — reachable only by a very narrow, 12-story-high spiral staircase with a low guardrail — did not meet modern fire, building and safety codes.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is to formally announce the decision at a news conference at 9 a.m. on Ellis Island. In a phone interview on Friday morning, Darren Boch, a spokesman for the National Park Service, confirmed that the crown will reopen, but said that operational details would be forthcoming from the Interior Department.

The decision to reopen the crown is a significant victory for Representative Anthony D. Weiner, a Queens Democrat who has been arguably the most vocal proponent of giving the public access to the crown.

I’ve never been to Liberty Island before. Now I’m definitely going to go!

Published in: on May 8, 2009 at 9:39 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Happy Obama Moment of the Day – 5/4/09

Posted by ADAM

Ever since the Inaguration it has warmed my heart that every day when I look at the New York Times website there is always some good news there, and Barack Obama to thank for it.

So you can enjoy seeing the world get slightly better each day, I’m going to be posting the Happy Obama Moment of the Day. Here’s today’s.

OBAMA CALLS FOR CURBS ON OFFSHORE TAX HAVENS (NY Times)

WASHINGTON — President Obama presented a far-reaching set of proposals on Monday that are aimed at the tax benefits enjoyed by companies and wealthy individuals harboring cash in offshore accounts.

These steps, he said, would be the first in a much broader effort to fix a “broken tax system.”

Mr. Obama made the announcement in the Grand Foyer of the White House, standing alongside Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and the Internal Revenue Service commissioner, Douglas Shulman. His remarks echoed the sentiment he voiced again and again during the presidential campaign when he pledged to crack down on overseas tax evaders.

Is it a sad state of affairs when your definition of good news is that the government has decided to stop tolerating large corporations and wealthy individuals who swindle the people out of tax revenue? Yes, admittedly. We’re a long way down, that’s for sure. But for the last hundred-odd days we’ve been clawing our way back, inch by inch.

Published in: on May 4, 2009 at 9:05 PM  Leave a Comment  
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