Joe Kenehan Center

Thursday, August 29, 2002
A Broadband REA?

Left to its own devices, the deregulated telecommunications industry is doing a lousy job of expanding affordable access to broadband for the average consumer.

An interesting John Judis piece in The New Republic explains how Michael Powell and other libertarian ideologues helming the FCC refuse to nudge telecommunications in the right direction.

Two generations ago, the free market was doing a poor job of providing affordable electricity to big chunks of our country. It took leadership from FDR’s New Deal to get us moving on rural electrification, and the public investment paid off with enormous social and economic benefits that last until this day.

Is it time for a public Broadband Information Intiative -- public action to get more people wired on broadband? Judis mentions that one of those towns that benefited from the REA back in the 1930s -- Bristol, Virginia -- took steps to create a public broadband system, but corporate lobbyists went to Richmond to get a state law passed to stop local governments from developing their information infrastructure.

Gray and the Farmworkers

From the LA Weekly: Pressure continues to build on California Gov. Gray Davis to do right by the Farmworkers.

Quiet! They’re Playing Baseball

Working middle class families can’t afford to go to many NBA, NFL, or MLB games anymore. The consequences for the character of sports crowds is pretty apparent in this story. Seattle’s beloved but faltering Mariners are canceling Anthony Ercolano’s $30,000 season tickers behind home plate because he’s too loud. Ercolano doesn’t seem to be a true jackass like Robin Ficker. His main sin seems to be that he makes it harder for the affluent observers in the “Diamond Club” front rows to talk on their cell phones.

Or maybe the Mariners management is simply gutless. Earlier this season they tried to stop fans from wearing “Yankees Suck” t-shirts when America’s version of Manchester United was in town.

Monday, August 26, 2002
Let Employees Get Rid of the Bad Apples

Labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein wrote an interesting book this year that points out that virtually all corporations loudly proclaim that they work hard to honor laws banning discriminating against workers on the basis of race, gender, or religion.

But these same corporations gleefully discriminate against employees who favor forming a union at their workplace.

No sane American company would respond to complaints of discrimination by, say, requiring employees to attend meetings on crackpot theories of racial inferiority or watch a KKK video. But during union organizing campaigns it’s routine for employers to require workers to attend meetings to bombard them with all manners of distorted or dishonest anti-union propaganda.

Recent events on Wall Street have shown how badly our securities regulations need reform. The constant abuse directed at employees who attempt to form unions shows how badly labor law needs updating.

Two MIT professors make the case for reform in this Boston Globe op-ed.

Which Way Gray?

The United Farmworkers are keeping the heat on Gray Davis as he decides whether to sign the bill giving farmhands a voice in the fields. Gray looks like he’s signaling a NO on this one.

The Father of OSHA Fights On

An inspiring piece in the Sunday New York Times on Tony Mazzocchi, the long-time Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Worker stalwart. Mazzocchi is very ill with pancreatic cancer but is not going quietly.

Do Letters-to-the-Editor From My Downline Count?

Apparently GOP activists can’t be expected to roll up their sleeves and work for their cause without getting a few extra incentives. A new RNC program awards "GOPoints" to activists who write letters to the editor, phone bank, etc. The points can then be cashed in for free GOP merch. Maybe the guys who used to run the Camel Bucks program got jobs doing this. (Remember this story the next time you hear a conservative whining about Democrats “bribing” African-American voters with free rides to the polls on election day.)

Stay Outta Malibu, Lebowski!

Also from the Sunday New York Times: the hypocrisy of the Hollywood liberals. David Geffen and other big DNC donors insist California laws that protect public access to our national seashore certainly weren’t meant to apply to them.