I am organizing a new economy for a long list of reasons. In our current economy, thousands of motivated, hard-working people can’t find jobs. Other are chained to their jobs, no matter how crummy, because of their employer-provided insurance they rely on because of have health issues. Some avoid going to the doctor because they can’t afford the co-pays. Young people graduate from college to a job market that is not hiring as their student loans come crashing down on them. Hardworking people — families with young children — are losing their homes through no fault of their own. These are all stories I heard last night at a New Economy House Party. They make me angry and sad.
I have other, more personal reasons why I am organizing a new economy. My sister, with ten years in her field and solid managerial experience, quit her job to get away from an insulting supervisor and a disfunctional organization. After six months of looking for work, she had to go back to the same agency in a lower position. I am an unemployed electrician with 12 years of experience, but there are so many construction workers out of work in Minnesota that it might be two or three years before I am able to find work. But more than anything else, I am worried about my kids’ future in a country that has been underfunding and dismantling our public schools for several decades now.
Last summer I moved to Minnesota from the San Francisco Bay Area, for my children as much as anything. My son will be 5 this year and entering kindergarten. The schools throughout California are in bad shape. As a result of the economy that the rich and powerful have imposed on California, teachers are underpaid and school districts are underfunded. After a year of looking for a home in a better school district, my wife and I realized we couldn’t afford it. We were worried about the education and even the safety of our children. So our family moved to Minnesota, where we can actually afford a place to live and our kids can attend decent schools. We are grateful that we had that option.
But now the right-wing Republicans in Minnesota are trying to bring a dangerous piece of California out here to follow us, working to pass a constitutional amendment that would require a three-fifths majority to raise taxes or spend reserves. California has a similar law that requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature to raise taxes. The damage by this law is immense. Schools, infrastructure, health care, transportation and social services are a mess in California.
Now the conservative Republicans in the Minnesota legislature want to do the same thing here. I just moved to Minnesota — I don’t know why is this disaster following me!
I do know what I can do about it though. Organizing a New Economy is a long-term campaign by TakeAction Minnesota to build an economy that will provide for everyone in a humane, democratic and sustainable way. On Saturday, January 28th, we will launch this campaign at TakeAction Minnesota’s Annual Meeting. Our first priority is to stop these restrictive, anti-democratic and destructive three-fifths amendments in the Minnesota legislature! Trust me: these amendments are one thing from California you don’t want to bring to Minnesota.
Jess Alexander is a leader with TakeAction’s Organizing a New Economy campaign.