What progressive means

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Willie Brown says that choosing a person of color for a leadership position should be a “progressive” value. David Chiu says Ed Lee is a progressive. Several supervisors, and other political observers, say the six-vote progressive majority on the board is gone.

And nobody really talks about what that word means.

Progressive is a term with an excellent political vintage, but it’s changed (as has the political context) since the 1920s. (Progressives these days aren’t into prohibition.) So I’m going to take a few minutes to try to sort this out.

I used to tell John Burton that a progressive was a liberal who didn’t like real estate developers, but that was in the 1980s, when the Democratic Party in town was funded by Walter Shorenstein and other developers, who were happy to be part of the party of Dianne Feinstein, happy to be liberals on some social issues (Shorenstein insisted that the Chamber of Commerce hire and promote more women) and happy to promote liberal candidates like John and his brother Phil for national office – as long as they didn’t mess with the gargantuan money machine that was highrise office development in San Francisco.
Arguing that Shorenstein’s economic agenda was driving up housing prices, destroying low-income neighborhoods and displacing tenants was a waste of time; the liberals like Burton (who also represented real estate developers as a private attorney) weren’t interested.

But these days it’s not all about real estate; it’s about the fact that the level of economic inequality in the United States has risen to levels unseen since the late 1920s, and the impacts are all around us. And it’s about (Democratic) politicians in San Francisco blaming Sacramento, and (Democratic) politicians in Sacramento blaming Washington, and the Democratic Party in the United States abandoning economic equality as a guiding principle.

So I sat down on a Saturday night when the kids went to be (yeah, this is my social life) and made a list of what I think represent the core values of a modern American progressive. It’s a short list, and I’m sure there’s stuff I’ve left off, but it seems like a place to start.

For all the people who are going to blast me in the comments, let me say very clearly: This isn’t a litmus-test list (we’ve endorsed plenty of people who don’t agree with everything on it). It’s not a purity test, it’s not a dogma, it’s not the rules of entry into any political party … it’s just a definition. My personal definition.

Because words don’t mean anything if they don’t mean anything, and progressive has become so much of a part of the San Francisco political dialogue that it’s starting to mean nothing.
For the record: When I use the word “progressive,” I’m talking about people who believe:

1. That civil rights and civil liberties need to be protected for everyone, even the most unpopular people in the world. We’re for same-sex marriage, of course, and for Sanctuary City and protections for immigrants who may not have documentation. We’re also in favor of basic rights for prisoners, we’re against the death penalty, and we think that even suspected terrorists should have the right to due process of law.

2. That essential public services – water, electricity, health care, broadband – should be controlled by the public and not by private corporations. That means public power and single-payer government run health insurance.

3. That the most central problem facing the city, the state and the nation today is the dramatic upward shift of wealth and income and the resulting economic inequality. We believe that government at every level – including local government, right here in San Francisco – should do everything possible to reduce that inequality; that means taxing high incomes, redistributing wealth and using that money for public services (education, for example) that tend to help people achieve a stable middle-class lifestyle. We believe that San Francisco is a rich city, with a lot of rich people, and that if the state and federal government won’t try to tax them to pay for local services, the city should.

4. That private money has no place in elections or public policy. We support a total ban on private campaign contributions, for both politicians and ballot measures, and support public financing for all elections.

5. That the right to private property needs to be tempered by the needs of society. That means you can’t just put up a highrise building anywhere you want in San Francisco, of course, but it also means that the rights of tenants to have stable places for themselves and their families to live is more important than the rights of landlords to maximize return on their property. That’s why we support strict environmental protections, even when they hurt private interests, and why be believe in rent control, including rent control on vacant property, and eviction protections and restrictions on condo conversions. We think community matters more than wealth and that poor people have a place in San Francisco too -- and if the wealthier classes have to have less so that the city can have socio-economic diversity, that's a small price to pay. We believe that public space belongs to the public, and shouldn't be handed over to private interests; we believe that everyone, including homeless people, has the right to use public space.

6. That there are almost no circumstances where the government should do anything in secret.

7. That progressive elected officials should use their resources and political capital to help elect other progressives – and should recognize that sometimes the movement is more important that their own personal ambitions.

I could add a lot more, but I think those six factors are at the heart of what I mean when I talk about progressives. We support a lot of other things; I put the right of workers to unionize under Number 3, since unions (along with public schools and subsidized higher education) are one of the major forces behind a stable middle class and a more equal society. We think racism and homophobia are never acceptable, and we support affirmative action, but that goes under Number 1.

This is not a socialist manifesto; I never mentioned worker control of the means of production. Progressives don’t oppose private enterprise; they just think that some things essential for the good of society don’t belong in the private sector, and that the private sector should be regulated for the good of all of us. We trust and support small businesses much more than big corporations – and we think their interests are not the same.

I don’t know if Ed Lee fits my definition of a progressive. We won’t know until we see his budget plans, and learn whether he thinks the city should follow Gavin Newsom’s approach of avoiding tax increases and simply cutting services again. We won't know until he decides what the tell the new police chief about enforcing the sit-lie law. We won't know until we see whether he keeps Newsom's staff in place or brings in some senior people with progressive values. We know that the people who pushed him to take the job aren’t progressives by any definition, but you never know. I agree that having an Asian mayor in San Francisco is a very big deal, an historic moment -- and when Lee takes office, I will be waiting, and hoping, to be surprised.

Comments

Yes, most City employees have now agreed to contribute 7.5% beginning July 1, 2011. However, about 10,000 (believe the # is 9,833) SEIU affiliated employees ONLY agreed to contribute 7.5% in an exchange in for a 6% pay raise. If one understands the math, this "swap" or increase in employee pensionable income was a gigantic increase in unfunded pension liability and a huge loss for taxpayers.

Prop B mandated 9% for ALL employees including elected officers (despite union fabrications on this) AND 10% for all police and fire.

...The issue here is whether cutting public health and social programs at the expense of employee pensions is a progressive value...Sounds like a majority here thinks it is.

Posted by GUEST on Jan. 10, 2011 @ 8:04 pm

The extent of the increased retirement obligation is a slim fraction, say, 25% of the 6% which would be 1.5%.

If Adachi does not negotiate with labor in good faith, then it will prove that he's just doing this for ulterior motives and his next bite at the apple will meet with a similar fate in November.

It will also most likely divert resources from consensus progressive and liberal campaigns, leading to similar outcomes as progressives and liberals saw in 2010.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 10, 2011 @ 8:26 pm

...regarding pension reform. It got us Prop D passed in June of 2010. Prop D frankly, was a joke. It does not even generate pension savnigs of $10 million a year until 2022. Some reform. I would assume Adachi would conclude that working "with labor in good faith" would generate similar results and would be a waste of time. He would be right.

C:\Users\Chris\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook\2IA3D0Z6\pic03068.gif

We shall see about next time around after: 1) voters were told by unions that the unions would fix the problem on their own and nothing gets done 2) more budget cuts have been implemented on voters 3) more fees have been raised on voters and 4) there is more public awaremess of the depth of the problem.

Posted by GUEST on Jan. 10, 2011 @ 11:16 pm

Starting in the 1970s, new insights about the important role of gender in politics and life came to the fore, thanks to activists and writers in women's liberation and gay liberation.

Those who scoffed the most at these new insights were ideologues in the Marxist Left and in the Religious Right. No surprise there. Both these traditions have a tendency to ossify into doctrinaire sects led by male-chauvinist ideologues.

Today in SF, our local progressive sect is like the Marxist Left in the 60s, before the rise of feminism and gay liberation. Our local sect is led by male chauvinist men who trivialize the importance of gender in the struggle to understand and reduce human suffering.

Like their male forebears in the 60s, these men are often anti-intellectual, anti-cultural, anti-Semitic, and anti-feminist, and lacking in both social skills and spiritual depth.

If progressivism means breaking with old, counterproductive models, then it's time for SF progressives to break with the old model of thinking and behavior that they have kept alive from the 60s.

Will Chris Daly and Bruce Brugmann be leading this revolution?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jan. 10, 2011 @ 4:37 pm

Sorry Mate, your clichéd quasi-intellectual "stoic" (forgive me Zeno) way of looking at San Francisco politics combined with your deep soap opera character laden hate-speak just doesn't make any sense anymore.

Do you or your therapist review any of your scribblings?

You are constantly and consistently looking for a hero and denying the same, switching emotionally from side to side like a child. Unready and unable to commit or provide. You're no Stoic, you're confused and living in a state of massive denial about the world around you - did sit/lie (civil sidewalks) change "n" part of reality outside your doorstep Arthur? I think not. Not today.

You do not know what you want, nor can you provide it. Like a eunuch in a harem.

You are unfortunately the epitome of what you despise;
"these men are often anti-intellectual, anti-cultural, anti-Semitic, and anti-feminist, and lacking in both social skills and spiritual depth."

Posted by Sean on Jan. 11, 2011 @ 12:24 am

"anti-intellectual, anti-cultural, anti-Semitic, and anti-feminist, and lacking in both social skills and spiritual depth.": Damn. Is there anything else wrong with me?

Posted by tim redmond on Jan. 10, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

Tim, you say:

"Is there anything else wrong with me?"

I give you credit for being a step above Chris Daly and H. Brown.

Am not sure that's enough anymore, though.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jan. 10, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

Arthur, where's your messiah now?

Is it Gavin's a-hole?

Is it Gordon Getty's silver and gold tossed to the idle beggars on the street?

Maybe, like in the movie you love to quote so much you should be out on Haight Street asking "Alms for an ex Leper"

Oh but beware of those roving gangs of narco-capitalist-marijuana-capitalists thugs!

Surely they are onto the "Alms for an ex-Leper" gig! Spiritually, stoically or otherwise.

Also i hear the crutch of $cientology has openings.

Posted by Sean on Jan. 11, 2011 @ 12:33 am

Nowhere in this screed does the phrase "personal responsibility" appear. Of course, because such thoughts don't exist in the "progressive" philosophy. Living in SF has turned me decidedly more conservative after seeing what this crowd stands for.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 10, 2011 @ 6:03 pm
Posted by marcos on Jan. 10, 2011 @ 6:59 pm

I thought San Francisco was a "orgressive" City?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 10, 2011 @ 8:19 pm

I wish I had picked up the SFBG earlier this week!

I think the writer and a lot of other people have not adjusted to the reality of RCV elections.

RCV elects moderates, empowers minority voters, and ends the power of money to fool "conservative" SUCKERS. SF did the most progressive thing possible to end the old election system, at least locally. From now on, non-controversial moderates will hold the power and the never-ending struggle of progressives to keep corporate money out of power is over, at least locally.

Who knows how much longer it will take, but knee-jerk liberals calling themselves progressive will no longer be fighting for power against the reactionaries. Hopefully we will not have to wait for every "old-school" liberal/progressive to retire before our media and elected leaders get a clue that the a majority of SF, Berkeley, Oakland etc. voters supported the IRV election modernization locally primarily as the first step to someday modernizing state, federal and foreign elections, where corporate-funded reactionaries have had a lot more power than in SF.

But it's been about 10 years (?) since SF passed IRV, and the Guardian has YET to make a single comment (that I've seen) about taking IRV modernization state/nationwide.

If it had, Rep. Pelosi would have been pressured to make IRV-capable machines available nationwide as part of the economic stimulus so the rest of the nation doesn't have to wait years after passing IRV like the bay area cities had to. (and she would still be speaker- IRV election modernization has been very popular with voters almost everywhere)

The SFBG has been the leading newspaper for local IRV. When are going to step it up. The Green Party leadership stopped supporting IRV because they think it will mostly help Dems. and instead hopelessly switched to wanting "proportional representation" like Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan have been so happy with.

Ironically, the Democratic Party leadership is incapable of making national IRV an issue because local party leaders mistakenly think it will help the Green party. Without serious analysis by the SFBG, who knows how many more money-dominated U.S. elections we will have to suffer through, or how many wars in foreign nations that should also have IRV. Even local IRV will be a huge benefit for Afghanistan, Palestine, etc.

Why should SF, London, Oakland and Berkeley be the only cities to have RCV/IRV so far?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 10, 2011 @ 8:22 pm

Anybody see any lately?

Did the ideologues with hatchets drive them all out?

Is that why they keep making such ridiculous strategic blunders, as during the past two weeks?

How far can a sect go, running on dogma minus intelligence?

Are they even aware there's a problem?

Will they stone anyone who dares to mention it?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jan. 10, 2011 @ 8:40 pm

It means your newspaper can't survive on advertisements from escort services and tobacco companies. Yes, sadly that Kool insert didnt' work? who knew!?

I look forward to the day when the Marijuana "Narco-capitalists" e.g. the same people with the same services - make you say things you only think.

Posted by Sean on Jan. 11, 2011 @ 12:37 am

TO my mind, RCV is the worst mistake that progressives ever made.

-marc

Posted by marcos on Jan. 11, 2011 @ 7:38 am

"The best thing that could happen to progressives right now is for the nonprofit social service network to be defunded because they've had their decade of dominating progressive politics and demonizing anyone who challenges their model, and we can see where that's gotten us.

-marcos"

So, the war between nonprofits and public workers has already started.

Good. We need to have this debate. Pension costs will rise by at least another $120 million this year. And nonprofits will face cuts because of this.

The public needs to see the connection between the two.

Posted by Barton on Jan. 11, 2011 @ 8:25 am

Tim the problem with the progressive movement is people like you defining it to suite your needs, this is a democracy right now you suggest socialism that is your definition of progressive. "San Francisco has to be a home for poor people too", a true progressive society has no poor people or homeless or cold. give us all a break and who ever you are pandering get back and get your story straight no buyers here hack

Posted by Guest natureman on Jan. 11, 2011 @ 8:37 am
#6

Oh my god you make me laugh Tim! Proofing once again how out of touch you are in your insulated ultra progressive world. My god you have kids?!? How could that be. I thought you were living in your mom's garage apartment. Well, I guess you having kids does not necessarily rule out the garage concept.

But to my point - "#6 That there are almost no circumstances where the government should do anything in secret." - WTF... I have had the opportunity to work with and against your two poster boys for the so called "Progressive" movement and I have never met such slimy secretive people in my life. There whole plan has been and will be, draw it up in the back room and slip it through when no one is watching. This is the whole problem with your "I know better attitude", like your progressive counterparts, your actions and your ideologies have never been able to stand up to the light of day. Always remember that Progressives are just liberals who changed their name in the 60's because they gave themselves such a bad name.

BTW tell me again how many Peskin/Progressive endorsements won? Was it 2 out of 46? Wow you guys are on a role! Keep it up and I love to read your articles.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2011 @ 9:07 am

Hank Chien reclaims Donkey Kong high score

"If you can say anything about Hank Chien, it’s that he evidently doesn’t take defeat very well. Sure, he knew not so deep down that his Donkey Kong World Record score wouldn’t last forever, but he couldn’t have foreseen that it would have been toppled so quickly. Twice, even. But he also knew that more Kong competition would be coming his way; namely Richie Knucklez Kong-Off in March.

So Hank had something to prove, and prove he did. Scoring a massive 1,068,000 points in less than three hours, Hank has officially reclaimed the high score in Nintendo’s 1981 arcade classic. We took a second to catch up with Hank to see what’s what in all things Jumpman...."

1/10/2011 Hank Chien Reclaims Donkey Kong World Record
The battle for the top continues

twingalaxies.com

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2011 @ 9:22 am

"it's a fine balance between staying in shape and getting burned out."

- Hank Chien

-Hank Chien reclaims Donkey Kong high score-

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2011 @ 9:26 am

As a liberal independent (which goes by the name "moderate" in SF), Tim's list struck me as a great example of why the old guard progressive movement is doomed for years of frustration.

SF "moderates" and "progressives" actually share the same values. Moderates support fair elections, open governance, economic opportunity for disadvantaged residents, affordable housing, quality services, civil rights for all regardless of race, sexual orientation, immigration status, gender.

However, retro-progressives fail for two reasons. One is that they continually draw "us against them" distinctions that become so personalized there is no room for common ground. The antics of the BOS over the past week were a perfect example of that. Why couldn't John Avalos, David Campos and Ross Mirkarimi vote for David Chiu when it was painfully obvious that the Elsbernd 4 were never going to support them? And is there really more than a hair's breadth difference, policy-wise, between Ed Lee and Mike Hennessy? Chiu and Lee are by no means "moderates" but it's clear that the moderates on the BOS are doing a damn better job reaching out to them than the progressives.

But that's just basic interpersonal skills. Clearly Jane Kim, David Chiu and Malia Cohen -- all of whom under any reasonable set of definitions (even Tim's) would be considered fairly progressive -- get that, which is why they have much more of a political future outside of gerrymandered electoral districts than, say, Campos or Avalos (not to mention Chris Daly).

But the second, and bigger, problem for retro-progressives is that they have no understanding of basic economics. There are numerous ways we can attack serious issues like affordable housing, economic opportunity/equality, improve the delivery of services like public transportation, health care and power. Retro-progressives always default toward higher taxes and more government control.

Moderates are not opposed to higher taxes or more government control -- I've personally voted for higher local taxes, renters rights and other "progressive" measures on numerous occasions, even though I own my apartment and earn an above average income. But I understand that those are two tools among many. Moderates are willing to consider other means to achieve these objectives (e.g., public-private partnerships, economic/market-based incentives, smart growth zoning, better regulation and oversight, public choice, etc.) and seek to implement policies that are based in fact and balance the rights of all residents and stakeholders (including businesses and property owners) to optimize outcomes. Progressives tend to take on faith that the particular means they champion are always right. In that regard, they are similar to right-wing Republicans.

Here's to the "new progressives" of SF. I am hopeful that reasonable progressives and moderates can work together to find solutions to our many problems without bankrupting our city or engaging in divisive class-warfare rhetoric.

Posted by Paul Noe Valley on Jan. 11, 2011 @ 10:20 am

"Here's to the "new progressives" of SF. I am hopeful that reasonable progressives and moderates can work together to find solutions to our many problems without bankrupting our city or engaging in divisive class-warfare rhetoric. "

There is class warfare going on here and it is irresponsible to deny that.

The professional progressives have erred in asserting that anyone who owns property is waging class warfare on those for whom they get paid to advocate.

In reality, the people who think that they own San Francisco, the ones who engineered this backroom coup d'etat, are the ones who are waging brutal class warfare on us all.

Compared to them, we are all, to a San Franciscan, very low income, irrespective of our ethnicity or housing tenure status, and we had better start acting like it if we expect for our city to retain its unique character that attracted us all here in the first place.

-marc

Posted by marcos on Jan. 11, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

People in the Castro who own single family homes which do not fall under rent control just elected a supervisor who ran two years ago for president of the DCCC on a platform that he could raise money, and then this year took his largest campaign contribution from a Republican.

Am I shocked?

Well. After being evicted five times during the 1990s and not able to find stable housing until I learned the rent control laws and then fought and won an eviction myself against landlords who routinely told amazing lies on the standard advice of their landlord attorneys, I didn't think anything property owners did or said would surprise me.

Until Scott Weiner, who on the same day both mailed out a letter of support to TIC holders in D8 and then in a press interview declared himself to be pro tenant.

There may be one or two single family home owners in the Castro who support rent control, but the majority seem to tolerate duplicity that is truly disturbing.

I thought I was used to it and now have finally learned?

As progressives, until we all learn the lesson of Scott Weiner, we will get surprised over and over and over.

If a property owner in the Castro tells us he is in favor of tenant rights, forgive us for our skepticism. We've been through a lot over there.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2011 @ 2:06 pm

Maybe someone else should be talking to Castro homeowners about tenant issues, someone who can be effective.

Progressive housing stalwarts have maneuvered themselves into a corner on tenants issues because they've spent their time on the most vulnerable instead of on anyone someone who is not poor can relate to.

Elections and political action in general are not about you and your feelings, they are about successfully making the case to people, it is about them not you.

-marc

Posted by marcos on Jan. 11, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

I prefer to step back and watch them try to hide their anxiety about their bad real estate investment....

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

The leaders of our local progressive sect have all stabbed each other in the back or shot themselves in the foot.

Who is left who can articulate an intelligent, inspiring vision of a new politics and organize effectively on its behalf?

David Campos has ambitions along that line. But he has proved to be a clumsy schemer with a big mouth and a narrow base.

Ross Mirkarimi once had such ambitions. But he has alienated a significant many constituents in his own district and often comes across as full of hot air. Not as pompous as Jake McGoldrick, but moving in that direction.

Bruce Brugmann and Tim Redmond may still have such ambitions. But they have turned into backward-looking mullahs preaching canned dogmas. The voters are tired of their fatwas, as the most recent election shows.

Matt Gonzalez has become a bad artist.

Art Agnos is an incompetent loser from a bygone era.

Jeff Adachi is smart and capable, but the progressive faithful are outraged at him for daring to think for himself.

And that's the problem -

The sect has become so obsessed with dogmatic conformity that it has stifled, or driven out of its ranks, its own best possibilities for renewal.

Hatchet-wielding ideologues in the mold of Marc Salomon will not be able to save the sect.

What is required now is intelligence, generosity of spirit, vision, practical savvy, good social skills, and spiritual depth.

Such qualities fled this broken-down sect a long time ago.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jan. 11, 2011 @ 10:32 am

Um, moderates do not get to define what progressive values are. Sorry.
Moderates apparently do get to undermine those values and our progressive leadership. But right now the leadership elected with progressive support has been co-opted by blind ambition. It will be clearer as time passes....starting today with committee appointments.
Just watch.

And the blathering by Hogarth and Shaw....and the nonprofit crowd--will be funded to initially cover up the effect....but soon the funding will shift away. The non-profit organizing that we all thought would save us will be the death of progressive politics.

Again, time will tell who is served.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 11, 2011 @ 10:54 am

I agreed with all 7 of your points Tim.

Posted by GrannyGear on Jan. 11, 2011 @ 11:18 am

Karl Marx would be proud of you.

Posted by Howard Epstein on Jan. 11, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

Tim: Respectfully, as a reader of the Guardian for many years, I sense a drift, an unmooring of your great paper.

In 1774, two years before the Declaration of Independence, Tom Paine outlined the "essence of liberty" as self-governance by informed and empowered citizens maintained by their representatives.

That incipient revolution gained further traction when Thomas Jefferson, building upon Paine, declared: "The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary to keep the waters pure."

Jefferson knew that the promise of freedom can’t be done on the cheap. You can’t have a democracy without solid information. Instead, we now have local half hour news, which, minus commercials is comprised of twenty minutes of trivialized entertainment. Failure to cover local government cuts off the people, government operates in the dark, major stories go unreported as investigative reporters are let go and reporter-to-population ratio declines. You do the math. And finally, editorial independence is compromised as the division between owner/advertiser and editor/reporter disappears.

We will be governed or govern ourselves? This isn’t about print versus digital. It’s about sustaining a vibrant democracy in the century ahead. The crisis in journalism is a crisis in self-government. It is imperative to have strong journalistic institutions to bolster self-governing societies, but it takes an act of will on our part and that of our elected representatives to insist on a media that actively sustains journalism. Instead, we are in free-fall collapse, newsrooms dissolving before our eyes, bureaus shut, papers stripped for parts. Traditionally, local newspapers generated ninety percent of the news. The web has not emerged as a substitute. I’m not arguing about survival of newspapers per se. Rather, for strong independent journalism which has yet to migrate to the Web. Because, in the end, the digital revolution will prevail against the traditional news media. As sad as that is to admit, the newspaper model is broken…broken by the disruptive technology of the internet…it can be replaced, but journalism can’t. What will replace it? We’re in revolutionary times as much as when Guttenberg’s press began disseminating dissident views and scientific ideas. The American people, including many conservatives and progressives, want more and better news. We are desperate for good quality journalism. Instead we are witnessing an incredible onslaught of advertising and the corporate buying of politics---journalism slaughtered by corporate media.

In the immediate aftermath of World War II, two Republicans--Eisenhower in Germany, MacArthur in Japan--made it a priority to create a strong and free press, so much so that both men insisted that newspapers be free to criticize the postwar efforts of the occupying powers themselves. They understood that the first order of government is a free press---to foster, as Walt Whitman said, a “daily communion” between newspapers and its readers. A viable press is among the highest duties of a democratic state---and so it was that Republican Ike birthed more papers than William Randolph Hearst.

Did you know that when our country first came into existence, it was the unassailable belief of Congress that papers be delivered through the Post Office virtually free? James Madison actually wanted free delivery—but a small charge was imposed to protect local papers from the onslaught of the larger—but in point of fact—the Post Office through massive subsidies became the media of mass communication—the vehicle for the almost free delivery of newspapers during the early years of our Republic—birthing a free press that forged the American experiment. Government understood the importance of arming its citizens with knowledge.

Political decisions shape our economy. Who helps shape our political decisions? You got it—a watchdog press that informs our citizenry—ensuring popular sovereignty—as Jefferson and Madison would have it. Freedom is only ensured if we get the information we need on our city government—from inside the Mayor’s office—our city commissions—fully understanding the challenges confronting our front-line workers—police, fire, teachers, nurses, gardeners, maintenance crews, steamers and street sweepers.

As Justice Hugo Black wrote in the U.S. Supreme court’s decision in New York Times v. United States, “Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.” If we need to create new systems out of the old media models to get you the news—the real news—we must do it, the same way Jefferson and Madison did it after the American Revolution and Eisenhower and MacArthur after the end of World War II in Germany and Japan.

Freedom is sunlight.

Posted by Guest Tony Gantner on Jan. 11, 2011 @ 5:34 pm

Tim Redmond's view of progressivism in this thread comes across as shallow. He outlines some positions in public policy, based on economic justice. Fair enough, as far as it goes.

But he presents no discussion of methods and personal character. He has no greater vision of the human condition. The deficiency of SF progressives in these areas has contributed to their ossification into a reactive sect.

An example is David Campos' comments on the committee assignments just made by board prez David Chiu. Campos whines that he has been pushed to the sidelines in the appointments, which he claims is contrary to progressivism.

Whining is not enough for any group that claims to be the vanguard in any human endeavor. What is needed is leadership that is intelligent, practical, inspiring, and welcoming.

And that is what we don't have now in SF progressivism. Instead, we have Tim Redmond looking the other way when it comes to the larger issues of life, and David Campos complaining about turf.

Not good enough for a vanguard.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Jan. 12, 2011 @ 10:42 am

Tim writes: "That the most central problem facing the city, the state and the nation today is the dramatic upward shift of wealth and income and the resulting economic inequality."

This is 1/2 right, 1/2 wrong. See the work of Prof. Saez:

http://www.econ.berkeley.edu/~saez/

Scroll down to this:

Income and Wealth Inequality

"Income Inequality in the United States, 1913-1998" with Thomas Piketty, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 118(1), 2003, 1-39 (Longer updated version published in A.B. Atkinson and T. Piketty eds., Oxford University Press, 2007) (TABLES AND FIGURES UPDATED TO 2008 in Excel format, July 2010)

Click on the "Excel format" link and go to the tab called "fig7A (wealth)." You will see that the distribution of wealth in the U.S. has been very stable since 1948. OTHO, the distribution of income has become less equal.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

My only criticism is that you really need someone to do some editing. Typos, wrong words here and there. I think some sentences that you re-thought and never re-wrote.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 18, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

However, could we stop using terms like "income equality" and start talking about "maldistribution" instead? We're confusing our friends and giving succor to our enemies here. If you gave me "income equality" I would throw it right back in your face.

Posted by Pafnuty on Jan. 18, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

This is the 1st time I've read this RAG online, and I've never seen a bigger bunch of whiners. All of you whiners who espouse what is the real San Francisco, are mostly East Coast Transplants who came here to ruin the place for us natives who really know what it is to be a San Franciscan. Most of us moved to the Peninsula and Marin to escape this idiocity. The worst thing that ever happened to San Francisco was district election that let idiots like Daly, Mirkarimi, Campos etc. who've made my City PROGRESSIVELY WORSE"

Posted by Guest on Jan. 19, 2011 @ 3:25 pm