I am really proud of this issue! We’ve got a lot of meat on the bone, so let’s get to it.
We open with Jay Youngdahl’’s incisive and balanced survey of the current status of initiatives from “old” labor and the “new labor movement,” as he styles them. Inside or outside of the US labor movement, you are not going to find a much fairer treatment of such a critical and contentious situation, vital to us all. Much the same can be said of Helene Balazard and Robert Fisher’s analysis of community organizing in the United Kingdom and the questions they raise about the political underpinning of the work, particularly of much admired Citizens’ UK operation. The challenge issued by Moshe ben Asher and Khulda bat Sarah to faith-based organizing networks to step up their games in US community organizing is much in this same vein. We are going to get requests for reprints and permissions on all three of these pieces for years!
The next section of the “book” shares important research behind the headlines with our readers, advancing understanding of critical issues in our society now. Allyson Fredericksen from the Alliance for a Just Society and Saru Jayaraman from Restaurants Opportunities Center United make the case for the marriage of research and direct organizing, but also provide important arguments driving living wage campaigns. Katherine Rose is a new writer in these pages but her piece on school funding is an excellent look at facts that underpin this debate as well.
Next up is something too often we miss to our regret and that’s follow-up! Mike Parker, long a central figure in the Richmond Progressive Alliance gives an extensive review of this unique local, progressive political organization and the good, bad, and ugly of its experience in the several years since Social Policy ran a profile of the organization. Distance enhances the perspective of Mike Orders’ follow-up to the Social Policy special report on the Organizers’ Forum dialogues in Yangon, Myanmar several years, but his almost day-by-day reports on the recent historic election in that country benefit from how close he was to the events he shares, in the same way Parker has given some perspectives from the distance over time.
This year’s special report from members of the Organizers’ Forum delegation shared their perspectives on visiting Poland, particularly Warsaw and Krakow with civil society, labor, and community based groups, organizers, and academics. Some of their observations were prescient given the elections not long after their visit with rightists taking power. This is a country worth close observation, regardless as Drummond Pike writes, what you might have thought.
Attorney and author James B. Lieber has written for Social Policy in the past, so we are delighted to share an excerpt from his new book that looks focuses on medical debt as the third leading cause of death. Think about it! In a deep-dive look at public policy, Professor Craig Wilse demands that we look at the policies of HUD and the “bean counters” that may be skewing programs for the homeless in precarious directions.
We finish with our usual columns focusing as Phil Mattera looks at workplace safety, Noorin Ladhani evaluates Facebook’s efforts to broad internet access, and John Anderson details the come from behind defeat of the NDP in Canada and the positive impact of the Liberals’ victory in recent elections in that country. In Backstory, I finish with a look at whether or not the current embrace of technological utopia is retarding real work on the ground in developing countries, and conclude that it’s not as pretty a picture as the web version would lead you to believe.
Our Winter issue will be in your hands in January. I can guarantee it will get you thinking and get your new year off in an interesting direction!