We don’t make a big thing out of it, but there’s actually something that seems kind of special about typing Volume 45, Number 1 of Social Policy. It’s not The New Yorker crowing, deservedly, about ninety years of publishing, but we’ve always been something different for a readership that eats, drinks, and sleeps about things differently, and it’s not easy to keep things alive and well for that many years.
When we make it to fifty, we’ll have to do something big, but for now we’ll keep it simple and say thanks to our readers and subscribers for continuing to support Social Policy. Just as forty-five years is something to be proud of, we’re proud of this issue as well, and it’s a good representative of the best that Social Policy continues to offer in bringing clear voices, new and old, to important questions about policy and change.
Frank Strier starts off this issue with a closely argued case on guns, and pointedly recommends the kinds of policies, some of them very simple and straightforward, that need to be implemented in order to protect our children and our communities. Past all of the rhetoric – and politics – of banning guns and the Second Amendment, Strier argues that simple safety might also save lives. And, why not? Larry Cohen, the President of the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, issues some clear and stern warnings as well, based on his recent visit to Honduras and what he was able to examine close at hand. His argument is that there is nothing “free” about trade there or anywhere that we have seen unbridled globalization with little or no real protections in practice. On a more positive note, Dharmendra Kumar, director of ACORN India in Delhi and managing director of the India FDI Watch Campaign, in a piece he recently reported gives an excellent explanations of new rights of livelihood won for informal workers among street sellers and hawkers there, proving that victories can come in unexpected places.
We have to dig in deeply and be unafraid to act differently, not just think differently about our work. Excerpts from recent works shared with Social Policy readers are right on point here.
Staughton Lynd brings his usual deep research and historical sensibilities to re-examining some of the turns in the road taken and untaken by unions and makes the case that an alternative unionism is not only possible, but has proven itself time and time, and could succeed, if allowed and pursued with conviction. Similarly, Robert Waterman McChesney in a hard look at media, the existing monopoly, and the stakes before us, also cuts to the chase and lays out clear directions that need to be taken so that media is a tool for change, rather than making us all the “tools” of media. David Walls, long an observer of community organizing, in a similar but perhaps more reserved vein, takes up the issue in his new book of the future direction for work in the community, leaving practitioners much to mull and consider there.
Our columnists are “all in” as well. Phil Mattera shares deep research he and his colleagues have done on the bank benefits from the bailout, and how small our dividends have been. Noorin Ladhani is optimistic that Facebook and Google really do want to do good globally rather than just pad their pockets with their new initiatives to bring internet access to areas around the world left far across the divide. John Anderson with some added assistance from Scott Nunn details a rare victory these days for welfare recipients as they organized with ACORN British Columbia to stop “clawbacks” of the welfare checks for mothers with children when they received any child support. Finally in this issue’s “backstory,” I review a recent book by Adam Seth Levine called American Insecurity: Why Our Economic Fears Lead to Political Inaction,” that makes an important argument that all organizers and many others need to understand about how not to “swallow the ‘ask’” or in Levine’s terms use “self-undermining rhetoric” and in effect convincing people NOT to take action, even while we are organizing them TO take action.
Whether this is your first issue or you have been with us for forty-five years, there’s more than enough here to hold you in this issue as there will be in future numbers for another couple of decades. In the meantime we’ll do our best to get your mind thinking, keep your feet moving, and continue to earn your respect and attention.