Oct 21, 2015 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 147

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.


Topics: American unions for the Millennial generation; Fortune 500 tax avoidance. People: Bill, Persephone, Nate. Produced: October 18th, 2015.

Episode 147 (49 min):
AFD 147

Discussion Points:

– What is the future of American unions as Millennials come to the fore?
– Fortune 500 firms may have avoided $620B in recent taxes

Related Links

The Atlantic: “Can Millennials Save Unions?”
AFD: “Fortune 500 firms may have avoided $620B in recent taxes”
CTJ/PIRG report: “Offshore Shell Games 2015: The Use of Offshore Tax Havens by Fortune 500 Companies”


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iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video game blog of our announcer, Justin.

What did Auchincloss mean by “Millennial Mecca” remark?

Editor’s note: This is more or less a purely local post about politics in Newton MA (where we record our weekly radio show), but it has broader implications for both eastern Mass and other parts of the country where a similar pattern is playing out.

Newton highlighted within Middlesex County, Massachusetts. Credit: Justin H. Petrosek - Wikipedia)

Newton highlighted within Middlesex County, Massachusetts. Credit: Justin H. Petrosek – Wikipedia)

At the Newton Ward 2 At-Large forum, citywide aldermanic candidate Jake Auchincloss said, some 44 minutes in:

“I don’t hear a lot of demand for us becoming a Millennial mecca. […] That’s not where the voters I spoke to chose to live. They chose to live in Newton, which is the Garden City and which has a special comparative advantage in Greater Boston of being bucolic, of having fabulous schools and safe streets, and that’s the priority.”

Maybe other voters won’t hear it the way I did, but: This is, without question, the most troubling (even disturbing, actually) thing I have yet heard from Jake over the course of this campaign.

It would be one thing to contrast Newton in general terms with other slightly more urban communities, some of which he cited by name. But it’s quite another to imply that those communities have bad schools or unsafe streets or no green spaces, and to further imply by specific word choice that this is all because ‘Millennials’ live there in large numbers. As if ‘Millennials’ are destroying the Greater Boston area like locusts and must be kept at bay from Newton.

Can you imagine the blowback if a candidate for citywide office said during a debate that Newton shouldn’t become a “mecca for the elderly” or a “mecca for baby boomers”? He would rightly finish in last place and never be heard from again.

But this discrimination is an easy political move because adult Millennials are not a major voting force in Newton right now for the simple reason that almost none of us can afford to live in Newton. No wonder he didn’t “hear a lot” from young people who have been priced out of their home city. They’re not here to be able to tell him what they want. Read more

In support of the youth-led movement after Ferguson

The tagline for Arsenal For Democracy is “a new generation in democratic leadership.” Not the “next” generation, which would imply leadership later, but the “new” generation — the one that is already here.

I’ve been rattling the bars of the cage here and there for the past four years, as I’ve gotten increasingly tired of being told by grindingly-slow-moving (and often unrepresentative) “movement” leaders to “wait your turn” and the like, while they continually pre-compromise and reach for nowhere close to the stars.

Unsurprisingly, I’m 100% on board for my fellow young people taking charge of a political movement the way we’ve seen young people seizing the reins of the new wave of civil rights action after Ferguson — even if they have to physically grab the microphone from people who refuse to accept that their own time (and credibility) to lead has passed. I stand behind young leaders — people like Johnetta Elzie and DeRay Mckesson and so many others — in these efforts, on a range of issues.

I’m not saying there’s no value to folks with more experience, but sometimes that means advising rather than insisting on leading. Why? We need young people leading movements for change because we haven’t yet been defeated by “The Way Things Are” and because we aren’t resting on old wins. We’re still able to re-imagine what is possible and achievable and to try to get farther than those who came before us. We need to move past the paradigms of “Once Upon A Time We Took A Step Forward” & “Why can’t you just be grateful you got one thing a while ago?”

We need to stop saying “Why can’t you ever be happy with what we’ve achieved?” and listen when people say “I can’t accept partial-progress.” Not because they’re picky or overly demanding but because their lives depend on not accepting half-measures that still leave them in danger.

Compromise has its place but it’s not the end goal. And it’s ok to point out what else needs to be fixed. How else would more get done? Not everyone who is unhappy with past compromises and past steps forward is a mean complainer. Most are just ambitious for more.

AFD 66 – Mandela

Latest Episode:
“AFD 66 – Mandela”

I reflect on Nelson Mandela’s legacy. Guest Neal Carter talks about Millennials of Color. Then, I defend the minimum wage and unemployment insurance, and I pitch “Pelosi for President.”

Related links:

– AFD: Republican confusion on Mandela
– AFD: In defense of the minimum wage
– The Atlantic: Rand Paul Couldn’t Be More Wrong About Unemployment Insurance