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The End of Libraries, Part VII

Dec 31, 2011
An Open Letter to All Living Authors:

I would like to address some of my favorite people today in this, Part VII of The End of Libraries, and give you my take on what is happening in the eBook lending world, a brave new world that is as significant to the history of the printed page as the invention of movable type.

I read 93 books in 2011—78 in their entirety and at least the first 50 pages of 15 others. Midway through the year, while attending a library conference, I won both a Kindle and an iPad 2! What luck, hey?

Knowing that my public library had eBooks to loan, and being a borrower of books rather than a buyer (I can’t afford to buy 93 books a year!), I spent time and effort (too much!) learning the Overdrive interface and checked out my first eBook, When the Killing’s Done, by T.C. Boyle. The experience of reading that book on my iPad made me a dedicated eBook reader. From then on, I didn’t care if I ever held a “real” book in my hands again.

I quickly realized how fortunate I had been to find a Boyle at my library. A subsequent search for something to check out revealed nothing of interest. I maintain a list of books I want to read; it is six pages long at the moment. I checked the first 50 titles on this list in my library’s eBook collection (which it shares with 150 other libraries in my state) and found exactly none of them in the catalog. And most of the titles that were there had long waiting lists.

Desperate for eBook reading matter, and eager to see if the Kindle experience was as great as the iPad, I broke down and bought Desolation, by Yasmina Reza, one of the books on my six-page list. Though for me the iPad reading experience is superior to the Kindle (except in terms of weight), I would still prefer a Kindle edition over hard copy.

There followed a month or two of a dry spell, during which I continued to read books wastefully printed on processed dead trees and badgered my state library consortium to spend more on eBooks.

Eager to convert my wife to eBooks, I finally again broke down and purchased for the iPad the enhanced version of Rin Tin Tin by Susan Orlean. Its many pages of color photos and ten embedded videos(!) gave me a taste of the delights coming our way as eBooks mature and take on features we cannot even imagine today.

Then came the first rumblings of KOLL—Amazon’s Kindle Owner’s Lending Library—and I began to write this series on The End of Libraries. Once KOLL was announced, and since my company has an Amazon Prime membership, I immediately borrowed my first “free” book from the Lending Library, What It Is Like to Go to War, by Karl Marlantes. Karl will get a piece of a $500,000 pot from Amazon for that loan, as will all the other authors whose books are loaned during December 2011, KOLL’s first month.

KOLL began with 5,000 titles and by the end of December it had almost 70,000, the vast majority apparently coming from authors in Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program, in which authors can self-publish their books. In order to be part of KOLL, KDP authors had to commit to a 90-day participation in the lending program and agree to give Amazon exclusive sales rights during that period to the books enrolled in KOLL. Obviously thousands of you thought it was worth the commitment. Why? I think it is because you have become aware of an exciting new fact of literary life that also occurred to me while watching the eBook world and writing this series over the past six weeks: eBooks are for lending, and anyone who can come up with a scheme to adequately compensate authors for those loans will have built the better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to their door.

Amazon is on its way to doing that, all by itself. Monopolies are inherently undesirable, and this one also threatens the continued existence of a vital national resource: our public library network.

You are going to make a lot more money lending AND selling your books in the future than you make just selling them today. You are going to pressure your publishers to get on board with eBook lending and, if they drag their feet, you will do whatever you need to do to find your way to this enhanced revenue generator. As you do, I ask you to read the first six parts of this series (and any future parts: follow us on Twitter for announcements), consider the ill effects of monopoly and the end of public libraries, and get on board with a movement to bring an adequate eBook lending model to public libraries. I suggest one such model—the American Public Library Enterprise, or AmPLE—in Part II. Public libraries serve all 330 million Americans, not the scant few million who may be Amazon Prime customers and eligible for one KOLL checkout in each calendar month. The revenues you stand to gain which today are sitting on the table are enormous, and our public library network stands ready to bring them to you.

How to proceed? Get together with your fellow writers. Get talking. Don’t fret, the way your publisher is fretting (if you have one). A reading renaissance is at hand, knocking on our doors, ready to bring your works to the masses and masses of money to you. Don’t let this take forever, and don’t let Amazon kill libraries by bringing to a few of us what should belong to the whole world.
tags: Books and Libraries

The End of Libraries, Part VI

Dec 15, 2011
On November 2, Amazon introduced the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library (KOLL) for its Amazon Prime customers.1 It initially offered 5,000 titles, most obtained from second-rank publishers under contractual agreements and, under some other fairly hazy arrangement, additional titles one copy of which Amazon apparently agreed to purchase at wholesale for every Prime customer that simultaneously borrowed it.

Then, on December 8, Amazon announced KDP Select, a program to enroll self-published authors in KOLL, and, as I predicted, a week later there were over 52,000 titles available for borrowing in KOLL. I predict that number will again increase tenfold within the next 60-90 days as traditional and first-rank publishers cave in to the enormous pressure from their authors and from the changing nature of the marketplace, and begin listing their titles with Amazon’s KOLL.

Meanwhile, Amazon today claimed it has sold more than a million Kindle devices (including the newest, the Kindle Fire) each week for the past three weeks.2 Those devices are primarily intended for one purpose—reading eBooks.

Amazon has been much more reticent about releasing the numbers of its Prime customers, though I can tell you those numbers increased today by at least one—me. And the book I immediately borrowed, What Is It Like to Go to War, by Karl Marlantes, must have been provided through that fairly hazy arrangement described above. It is most definitely not self-published, and a quick perusal of Amazon’s first five pages of titles from its publisher, the Atlantic Monthly Press, revealed no other titles that were included in KOLL.

Others have estimated Prime customers at around five million, and that was early in 2011, before KOLL was more than a gleam in Jeff Bezos’s eye.3 If that number was close to accurate almost a year ago, I am probably safe in estimating the number has doubled since then and especially since the introduction of KOLL. Ten million members, all able to check out one book a month, 52,000 books to choose from, and a $500,000 pot to split. I hope after this first trial month Amazon will release some figures relating to KOLL usage; however, whether they do or not, I think things look pretty sunny for many of the authors of those 52,000 books. Not that there isn’t a tremendous amount of controversy around the issue, just now, appropriately enough, among self-published authors.4 Much more is to come, particularly as authors associated with traditional publishing houses begin to understand the unprecedented advantage they are missing out on: payment for books that are loaned as well as those that are sold.

What does this mean for public libraries? I think I have made that pretty clear already in the first five parts of this series.5 More to come, as more develops.
1 The End of Libraries, Part III, from Alltogethernow.org, Nov 6, 2011.
2 Customers Purchasing Kindles at Rate of More Than 1 Million Per Week for Third Straight Week, from MarketWatch.com, Dec 15, 2011, accessed Dec 15, 2011.
3 The promise of Amazon Prime, from Daily Artifacts, Feb 24, 2011, accessed Dec 15, 2011.
4 How Much Do You Want to Get Paid Tomorrow, by David Gaughran, from Let’s Get Digital: How to Self-Publish and Why You Should. This is one of the best sites to read about the concerns of self-published authors. There are many others. Dec 11, 2011, accessed Dec 15, 2011.
5 The End of Libraries, Parts I-VI, from Alltogethernow.org.
tags: Books and Libraries

Noted with Interest, December 2011

Dec 08, 2011

She's Alive... Beautiful... Finite... Hurting... Worth Dying for
By Vivek Chauhan. Accessed Dec 8, 2011.

The brutal logic of climate change
By David Roberts. Your grandchildren are doomed. From grist, Dec 5, 2011. Accessed Dec 7, 2011.

First Nations taxation
By Anonymous. Okay, it's a blog post about a fairly obscure Canadian issue, but this writer reminded me of the great I.F. Stone. From âpihtawikosisân, Dec 3, 2011. Accessed Dec 5, 2011.

Where Were You When They Crucified My Lord?
By Chris Hedges. Well, where were you? From truthdig.com, Dec 5, 2011. Accessed Dec 5, 2011.

Guantanamo for US citizens? Senate bill raises questions.
By Brad Knickerbocker. Repression by legislation, or, Hey, Dude, Where's My Constitution? From The Christian Science Monitor, Dec 3, 2011. Accessed Dec 3, 2011.

tags: Noted with Interest

The End of Libraries, Part V

Dec 08, 2011
Today, Amazon announced the KDP (Kindle Direct Publisher) Select program, which enrolls independent authors and publishers in a $6 million sweepstakes and, upon its announcement, immediately added 129 books to the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. I predict thousands more will follow very soon.

From the press release:1

The monthly royalty payment for each KDP Select book is based on that book’s share of the total number of borrows of all participating KDP books in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. For example, if total borrows of all participating KDP Select books are 100,000 in December and an author’s book was borrowed 1,500 times, they will earn $7,500 in additional royalties from KDP Select in December. Amazon expects the fund to be at least $6 million for all of 2012, in addition to the $500,000 allocated for December 2011. Enrolled titles will remain available for sale to any customer in the Kindle Store and authors will continue to earn their regular royalties on those sales.
So, for the first time in history (correct me if I’m wrong), authors will regularly receive a royalty payment each time a title of theirs is loaned, as well as each time it is sold.

Amazon’s payment strategy may seem eccentric. However, upon closer examination, it reveals itself as a cautious move on Amazon’s part, limiting their liability. As for what seems to be a rather cruel provision—setting authors against each other in the sweepstakes to win a big chunk of that $500,000 (a month)—well it is really just a reflection of the real world, where bestsellers earn more than literary novels—only in this case the purse is not open-ended.

Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos knows something you—and traditional publishers—probably don’t. eBooks are for lending, not selling. Oh, plenty of people will still buy books, particularly the print versions as long as they continue to be around. But the real money will be in loaning eBooks to a vast, global audience. And Bezos intends to dominate that business.

What author will fail to be lured by the sweet smell of the $6 million Bezos intends to put into the shared kitty in 2012—an amount which Amazon promises to reconsider each month on the evidence of the previous month’s activity.

Traditional publishers will feel enormous pressure from their authors to join KDP Select and, if they refuse, they will lose those authors to Amazon’s KDP program.

Can you say “disruptive technology”?2 Brother, you ain’t seen nothin‘ yet.

Meanwhile, where does this leave public libraries? One step closer to obsolescence, I fear. If they, and publishers, don’t get together soon, and forge something like the AmPLE program we outlined in Part II of this series,3 a tsunami of disruptions will be heading their way.

With the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, Jeff Bezos put his toe in the water. With KDP Select, he is up to his ankle.

Much more is to come.
1 kdpselect at Amazon.com, accessed Dec 8, 2011
2 Disruptive technology, from Wikipedia, accessed Dec 8, 2011
3 The End of Libraries, Part II

tags: Books and Libraries

Noted with Interest, November 2011

Nov 30, 2011

One Nation, Under Arms
By Todd S. Purdum. The release of George Kennan’s personal papers has been a revelation: “What is being done to our country today is surely something from which we will never be able to restore the sort of a country you and I have known.” From Vanity Fair, January 2012. Accessed November 30, 2011.

This Is What Revolution Looks Like
By Chris Hedges. As the parks are cleared by the forces of the corporatocracy, Hedges sees victory on the horizon. From Truthdig.com, Nov 15, 2011. Accessed Nov 15, 2011.

Breathing New Life Into Our Democracy: Part I of III
By Deborah Coyne. From Canadians Without Borders, undated. See also Part II and Part III. Accessed November 12, 2011.

Wall Street Isn’t Winning—It’s Cheating
by Matt Taibbi. From Rolling Stone, October 25, 2011. Accessed November 7, 2011.

Finding Freedom in Handcuffs
by Chris Hedges. From Truthdig.com, November 7, 2011. Accessed November 7, 2011.

tags: Noted with Interest

The New Anarchy

Nov 13, 2011
We are in a new age now. An age in which the many are subservient to the few. In which the wealth accorded those few outstrip the most magnificent treasuries of medieval monarchies or eastern potentates. In which anxiety, suffering, and want is, increasingly and inexorably, to be the lot of the 99%.

We have 25 million unemployed Americans and no jobs for them, either today or on the horizon. We probably have another 25 million or more working at part-time and/or low-wage jobs which barely—or don’t—allow them to scrape by. We have over 46 million Americans living without an income our government says is necessary to afford the basic necessities of life. And our government’s idea of what those necessities are is cruelly basic, indeed. Can you imagine supporting a spouse and two children on a gross salary of $22,350 a year?

The employment situation is not going to improve because the 1% have figured out how to prosper without the services or consumption of the lion’s share of the 99%. Scarcely anyone is needed to raise our food anymore, now that the “green revolution” and factory farming are well in place. Scarcely anyone is needed to manufacture the goods we consume, now that most manufacturing has been shifted to low-income labor in nations unhindered by environmental, safety, or other annoying considerations. Scarcely anyone is needed to perform a wide spectrum of services, from technology support, medical assistance, and legal research down to flipping burgers and pumping gas, now that the benefits of technology are maturing. Certainly no one is needed to vote any longer, our democratic institutions having been privatized by the corporatocracy.

Webster’s first definition of anarchy is “absence of government.” What we are experiencing is what I would call the New Anarchy, where institutions of public welfare, shared societal goals and responsibilities, and commonly held aspirations and the structures supported to realize those aspirations have been allowed to fade and disappear before our eyes. The “Me Generation” has been succeeded by the “Only Me Generation.”

Without a significant attitude adjustment to halt the runaway and quite literally antisocial train we find ourselves on, a great crash is in all our futures. A dog-eat-dog world can only end in a lonely death for the one dog left standing.

There is a better way, and it has been preached by preachers and sociologists and community organizers and philosophers and politicians since time immemorial. Ben Franklin may have said it best: “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

The gibbets are in place, and the bodies are beginning to pile up.
tags: ATN | New Political Party | Politics

The End of Libraries, Part IV

Nov 12, 2011
There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth on the Internet over Amazon’s new Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. A Google search will turn up many more instances than I could hope to footnote here. Be sure to read the reader Comments on the news articles for a full helping of the panic and despair sweeping the world, particularly among writers.

I am not sure they have as much to worry about as they think they do. However, Amazon has been less than forthcoming regarding the details of their financial arrangements with publishers and authors. Let’s look at what we know about those arrangements so far.

In a Wall Street Journal article published the day after the Lending Library was announced,1 the following was revealed regarding the finances of the deal:

Russell Grandinetti, vice president for Kindle content, said “the vast majority” of participating publishers were receiving a flat fee for their titles, while a more limited group is being paid the wholesale price for each title that is borrowed. “For those publishers, we’re treating each book borrowed as a sale,” he said.
Let’s look at these two remittance models, starting with the flat fee arrangement which covers “the vast majority” of titles. I at first thought a flat fee arrangement would have to favor one party over another. However, an article from Bloomberg via Gulfnews.com2 reports that Amazon’s flat fee payment for “a group of books” is good only “over a period of time.” This being the case, one assumes the parties would be able to renegotiate terms after that period of time (whatever it may be) had expired.

However, it is this arrangement which may deservedly cause concern among writers regarding where their share is coming from and how much it will be. Until more is known about the details of this arrangement, I cannot come to any reliable conclusions. If I were an author, however, and my book was included in the Kindle library under this remittance model, I would be speaking with my publisher by now, if not my lawyer.

I feel on firmer ground when examining the other arrangement, wherein Amazon purchases a copy of a title when it loans it out. On first glance, this struck me as a lunatic move, but upon closer consideration I think it reveals Amazon to be crazy like a fox.

If Amazon is buying a copy of a book at the same wholesale price which they would pay to the publisher when and if a customer bought the book through them, then they own that book just as a public library does and I would grant them as much right to put it into their “Lending Library” as any public library could. If they then loan that copy to an Amazon Prime customer and another customer wants it while the first one has it, Amazon will need to buy a second copy of the book before lending it out to two people simultaneously, in order not to be in violation of copyright. I am assuming that is what they are doing.

If so, writers—and readers—should be ecstatic. Amazon, overnight, has declared itself a SuperLibrary. Anyone with a $79 annual Prime membership can check out any of 5,000 titles. If a thousand customers check out any one title under this arrangement in the first month, a thousand copies of their book will be sold to the Amazon Lending Library. Amazon then retains those thousand copies to loan out to additional Prime members who ask for it in the second month, at no additional cost to Amazon.

With this model, everyone wins. The publisher sells as many copies of a title as there are interested Prime customers in a single month, with (I assume) standard royalties accruing to the authors. The Prime customers don’t have to wait to check out a desired title, which most of us have to do now in borrowing through our public library.

You may be sure the one-a-month limitation on loaned titles won’t last once everyone realizes how much money there is to be made by opening the floodgates of digital book lending, though subscribers will undoubtedly pay more for enhanced services.

If Amazon can pull off a real Netflix model for its Lending Library, they will have me as a customer for life. That model, however, must come close to including the following features:
  • Essentially any book I want to read is available to me;
  • I can read it on any eReading device;
  • I can have at least three titles checked out at one time;
  • My annual limitation on loans is determined only by how fast I read;
  • And the price is kept under $2 per title on average (which is about what I pay for Netflix movies). I read about 65 books a year and start, but don’t finish, another 15 or so. To borrow 80 titles a year, I am willing to pay $160, or roughly twice what Amazon Prime costs now.
Publishers and public libraries still have time to forge an alliance similar to the one laid out in Part II of this series. And although I there recommend a lower rate in the public library lending model, I am convinced the substantially higher number of checkouts would more than make up the difference in revenue generation.

With the announcement of the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, the clock is now ticking. If Amazon can pull this off, as I said in Part I of this series, I will still vote to support my public library. Millions of others, however, will not, and public libraries will fade from our landscape as quickly as blacksmiths in a world of horseless carriages.

And Amazon’s triumph will be a national tragedy.
1Amazon, Now a Book Lender, by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg and Stu Woo, from the Wall Street Journal, November 3, 2011, accessed November 5, 2011. 2Amazon offering free titles in e-library, from gulfnews.com, undated, accessed November 12, 2011.
Books and Libraries

The End of Libraries, Part III

Nov 06, 2011

It has begun. Last Wednesday, Amazon announced its new book-lending add-on to its Amazon Prime service.1 What it offers is fairly meager and the model, particularly in its remittance to publishers, is, to my mind, seriously flawed:

  1. Customers may check out only one book per calendar month.
  2. A mere 5,000 titles are available, and none from the top six U.S. publishers.
  3. Loans can only be read on the Kindle family of products and not on other devices, even if they run the Kindle app.
  4. The service costs $79 per year which, if the customer only uses it for book lending, works out to $6.58 per loan. Many Kindle titles can be purchased for that price or not much more.
  5. Remittance to publishers is either by flat fee, in which case one of the parties is probably getting a crummy deal; or, if I am reading the WSJ story correctly, Amazon is paying the publisher for each loan the equivalent of what they would pay them for a sale.
Regardless of these shortcomings, the door is open, and you may be sure Master Bezos has firmly planted his foot in it. Additional titles, supported eReaders, assorted features, and (undoubtedly) pricing structures will follow as soon as publishers realize how profitable it will be to loan their books to millions of readers instead of selling them to thousands.

Meanwhile, librarians have already begun whistling in the dark2,3, their arguments relying primarily on the weakness of the initial Amazon product. Still, that product is already miles ahead of what is being offered by most public libraries where, if a title is even available to you in eBook format, you will almost certainly have a long wait for it.

In the final analysis, readers want to read and writers want to be read. Any institution which facilitates that relationship will flourish; any that inhibits it will fade. At present, Amazon is facilitating and libraries and publishers are inhibiting the relationship. If the latter don’t get their act together—and fast—they will render themselves redundant. Publishers may come and go, but America will let its public library network fade at its peril. This further blot on our already tattered escutcheon is not one from which we will easily recover, in our headlong pursuit of oligarchy, mediocrity, and irrelevance.

1 Amazon, Now a Book Lender, by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg and Stu Woo, from the Wall Street Journal, November 3, 2011, accessed November 5, 2011.
2 Why Amazon’s Lending Library Is Not a Threat to Public Libraries, by Bobbi Newman, from Librarian by Day, November 4, 2011, accessed November 5, 2011.
3 Amazon Starts Lending Ebooks, but Head of ALA Says Libraries Still Offer Best Value, by Michael Kelley, from The Digital Shift, November 3, 2011, accessed November 5, 2011.
tags: Books and Libraries | Media

The End of Libraries, Part II

Oct 22, 2011
The threat facing public libraries is real.1 It has not made itself manifest as yet, because no commercial enterprise has assembled the eBook lending package which is demanded by an eReading public starved for content.

The threat facing traditional publishers on the other hand, is here, today, and it is equally serious. Not only is Amazon publishing authors directly themselves (122 titles are coming out this fall alone2 and many, many more are planned for next year), but authors are increasingly self-publishing on the Internet and many nontraditional publishing entities besides Amazon are springing up to help them.3,4

The authors whom publishers are likely to lose first are the ones who are most secure in their earning power and therefore of greatest value to them. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, for instance, will be selling the eBook versions of that popular series exclusively on her own website,5 Pottermore.6

Public libraries and traditional publishers can save themselves only if they act quickly and boldly. The following is what I think they need to do, and the only alternative to this course of action, as far as I can see, is a not-so-slow but an ever-so-painful death.

Publishers: Convert every title, new and backlist, to eBook formats that support every device out there. Give them all to a nonprofit business entity, which we will here call AmPLE, for American Public Library Enterprise. AmPLE will manage the eBook distribution to public library patrons.

Public Libraries: Determine your eBook budget for the coming 12 months and send a check for it to AmPLE.

AmPLE: Get your site up superquick and start lending to your libraries’ patrons. For every checkout, decrement the eBook account of the borrower’s library by 50 cents, send 45 cents to the publisher, and keep 5 cents for yourself. Patrons can check out up to three titles at a time regardless of whether one or a thousand other borrowers have borrowed them at the same time. And no due date. When a reader wants another book, they will return one.

Do the math. In today’s model, a publisher might sell—let’s be liberal—2000 copies of a blockbuster new title to 50 state library consortia (the standard arrangement today) for $20 each, or $40,000. Period. End of transaction. The consortia then sets about loaning these 2000 copies to their 330 million patrons, 2000 at a time for two-week checkouts. Ridiculous.

Or. Check out that same blockbuster, which the publisher has provided to AmPLE free of charge, to—let’s be conservative—a half a million readers on Day One, at 45 cents a checkout, or $225,000—almost six times the amount the publisher would have received on the old model, and that’s only on Day One. That one title continues to earn money for the publisher throughout its term of copyright—until 70 years after the death of the author.

The 50-cent “charge” for a checkout is a reasonable figure, arrived at by dividing the average library’s annual budget for new acquisitions by the average annual circulation7. This figure ranges from 25 to 75 cents for most libraries.

Today, everybody loses, and this includes the authors. They need the expert services of traditional publishers. They need the nurturing, the editing, the production, and the management of their work, freeing them to do the work itself. We readers need traditional publishers, for their selectivity and the imprimatur of quality which their selectivity exhibits.

And we all need public libraries, one of the last bastions of egalitarian democracy in the U.S. Through public taxation, public libraries provide us all with equal access to knowledge and a wealth of information services which must not be relegated to the sole province of the well-to-do. Study after study8 affirms the huge return to our society on investment in our public libraries.

As eBooks gradually—or perhaps not so gradually—replace the physical book, we need to ensure that our public libraries provide these resources as widely, efficiently, and economically as the technology allows. A system like the one described above does just that. Under this system, public libraries will flourish rather than fade, and everyone else wins as well—authors, publishers, and readers.
1 The End of Libraries, Part I. AllTogetherNow.org, Oct 18, 2011.
2 Amazon Signs Up Authors, Writing Publishers Out of the Deal, by David Streifield, from the New York Times, Oct 16, 2011, accessed Oct 22, 2011.
3 Lulu.com
4 Publishgreen.com
5 Harry Potter Ebooks To Be Released in Open Google Ebook Format, by Pamela Parker, Jul 20, 2011, accessed Oct 22, 2011.
6 Pottermore
7 Data File Documentation, Public Libraries Survey, Fiscal Year 2009 (.pdf), from IMLS, Jul 2011, accessed Oct 22, 2011.
8 The Value of Public Libraries, links assembled by Stephen Abram, accessed Oct 22, 2011.
tags: Books and Libraries | Media

The End of Libraries, Part I

Oct 18, 2011
I am a library manager, a convert to the eBook format, and very worried. Although speculation regarding the collapse of public libraries has been in the infosphere since the advent of the internet, the public library’s continued existence has never been more uncertain than it is today.

First, consider that in the face of growing demand, libraries around the nation are cutting back on new acquisitions, hours, and staffing. In tough economic times, public libraries, which are almost always primarily funded at the local level, are easy targets for cost cutting, and they are being targeted practically everywhere.

And then consider the advent of eBooks, which are exploding in popularity. Amazon sells more of them than they do hardcovers and paperbacks combined. There are four good reasons why eBooks will marginalize, if not eliminate, the paper-based book within a few years:

  1. Portability. You can access an unlimited number of books on one reader.
  2. Economics. For the publisher, the economics are irresistible—no trees to cut down, paper to manufacture, type to set, or books to print, bind, store, and distribute by truck, train, and plane to the four corners of the world. In time, those irresistible economics will filter down to the buyer of books in the form of greatly reduced prices, at which point Amazon’s eBook sales will go through the roof.
  3. Value Added. You can index, search, cut-and-paste, bookmark, and annotate eBooks. You can embed audio and video and Internet links in them. In time, eBooks will add values and features we aren’t even dreaming about today.
  4. Access. For the first time in history, you don’t have to go to the book. All you have to do is want it and, in a few seconds, anywhere in the world, the book comes to you.
Eighty-two percent of American public libraries offer their patrons eBooks, most of them through Overdrive’s online service. So what is the problem? The problem is content. There isn’t any. Too few books are available in the eBook format. Too few of those that are available are purchased by public libraries, typically through statewide consortia that share a central collection of eBooks among many libraries. And too few of the purchased titles are available for checking out. The checkout model itself is fatally flawed, where one purchased copy checks out to one library patron at a time for two weeks, just like a paper-based copy. Most titles in my state’s consortium have long waiting lists and a recent check of 50 books I have on my “To Read” list found exactly none of them available in my library’s eBook catalog.

And finally, consider Amazon.com. If they are successful in their current effort to get publishers to allow them to loan eBooks through their Amazon Prime service, the single most important motivation for supporting public libraries, at least to middle-class readers like myself, will vanish overnight. I will continue to vote for municipal taxes to support our public library, because I understand the vital importance of public libraries to a democracy. However, millions will not, and libraries from coast to coast will begin closing their doors.

I do not believe I am being an alarmist. We are in a political climate where public services are being privatized, downsized, or eliminated at a rapid rate. And if libraries cannot begin to serve their patrons’ eBook reading needs—and they don’t come close to doing so today—and an Amazon or other commercial endeavor steps in to fill that need, libraries are finished.

In my next posting, I will discuss how public libraries—and, for that matter, traditional publishers (their existence also being threatened by the internet)—can not only survive but flourish to a greater extent that they ever have, in this brave new eBook-dominated world.
tags: Books and Libraries | Media

Noted with Interest, October 2011

Oct 17, 2011

A Movement Too Big to Fail
by Chris Hedges. From Truthdig.org, Oct 17, 2011. Accessed Oct 17, 2011.

The Declaration of the Occupation of New York City: An Approved Message from the General Assembly
Via Jennifer Cusano. From Elephant Journal.com, Oct 4, 2011. Accessed Oct 8, 2011.

The Big Picture: A 40-Year Scan of the Right-Wing Corporate Takeover of America
by Don Hazen and Colin Greer. From AlterNet, Oct 3, 2011. Accessed Oct 4, 2011.

tags: Noted with Interest

Platform for a New Century

Oct 17, 2011
The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement will fade away and fail unless a political structure is born from this social uprising. Chris Hedges, whose writings I admire as much as I do those of anyone commenting on the American political scene today, says the political process is dead, and street action is the only way to bring about change. He’s wrong.

The OWS movement is being tolerated now by a regime which has nothing at present to lose by its tolerance. The movement has stopped traffic a few times for a few hours. But it hasn’t stopped the momentum toward global hegemony which the corporatocracy has been pursuing for 30 years and which, at this point in time, is all but in the bag.

We will take our country back by ballot or by bullet. I cannot see any third alternative, and bullets are notoriously unpredictable. People are making noises about third parties, but nothing significant has been launched that I know of. The time is now.

A third party needs a platform that sets forth a substantively and substantially new direction for our nation. It must appeal to a broad range of constituents, including fiscal conservatives, libertarians, and Tea Partiers as well as the millions of liberal Americans who have become disaffected by a co-opted Democratic Party.

A third party needs to go after 435 House and 33 Senate seats first. Congress makes the laws, and presidential politics in America has been turned into little more than a smokescreen to keep our attention off the prize.

And a third party must put America back to work, in our factories and schools, on our infrastructure, and in the powerhouse laboratories where the entrepreneurial ingenuity of the American imagination will forge a new age of clean energy, world peace, and global liberty.

Here are ten planks in a platform for a New Century:

1. Assured employment opportunities at a living wage for everyone between the ages of 18 and 65.
2. An educational system second to none, with recognized national standards and public support; enhanced compensation for educators, with escalators for service and merit; and public support for post-secondary technical, occupational, and public university education.
3. Publicly supported universal health care.
4. A balanced federal budget.
5. Energy independence in 25 years via conservation, targeted taxation, and vigorous research and development of renewable energy sources to halt and reverse the damage to the environment caused by the burning of fossil fuels.
6. A capitalist economic structure regulated to serve the interests of the people, the nation, and the world. Globalization? Yes. But not at the expense of hard-won protections for workers and the environment.
7. A simplified tax system that enhances the competitiveness of U.S.-based businesses and reverses the unprecedented income inequality which has burgeoned over the past thirty years.
8. A redirection in our response to global terrorism from military action and occupation to a revitalized international police effort. Future executive branch military action will require a formal declaration of war by Congress.
9. Term limits for elective federal offices and regulations closing the revolving door between government and corporate affiliation.
10. A commitment to personal freedoms for the individual, when those freedoms do not directly and demonstrably impinge on the freedoms of others.
tags: New Political Party | Politics | Governance

Noted with Interest, September 2011

Sep 07, 2011

Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult
by Mike Lofgren. A must-read from a disenchanted, long-time DC staffer. From truthout.org, September 3, 2011. Accessed September 7, 2011, 2011.

The Limping Middle Class
By Robert Reich. A summary of exactly what has been happening to us for the past 30 years, and where to go from here. From the New York Times, September 3, 2011. Accessed September 4, 2011.

A Crisis in Confidence
By Deborah Coyne. These lessons from a “good governance” pundit from north of the border may be too little too late. However, they nevertheless are wise words the entire developed world—currently coming apart at the seams—should heed. From Canadians Without Borders, August 19, 2011. Accessed September 4, 2011. See Also, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.

tags: Noted with Interest

Noted with Interest, August 2011

Aug 30, 2011

Letter from Prison: Tim DeChristopher Speaks
DeChristopher is in prison for two years for disrupting a government oil lease giveaway, excuse me, auction, which was later declared incorrectly administered. From Grist.org, August 29, 2011. Accessed August 30, 2011.

The Election March of the Trolls
By Chris Hedges. From Truthdig.com, August 29, 2011. Accessed August 29 , 2011.

Lost in the Debt Ceiling Debate: The Legal Duty to Create Jobs
By Jeanne Mirer and Marjorie Cohn. Your right to work--it’s the law! From War Is A Crime.org, August 11, 2011. Accessed August 27, 2011.

Our Politics Are Sick
By Kurt Andersen. Cogently presented, but without reference to the three great crosses we bear: racism, homophobia, and misogyny. From the New York Times, August 19, 2011. Accessed August 20, 2011.

The best way to fight the two-party monopoly
By Michael Lind. I’m not sure the author provides the answer promised in the title, but it is worth the read anyway. From Salon.com, August 9, 2011. Accessed August 9, 2011.

What Happened to Obama?
by Drew Westen. From the New York Times, August 6, 2011. Accessed August 7, 2011.

tags: Noted with Interest

Noted with Interest, July 2011

Jul 24, 2011

Tim DeChristopher and the feds
By Bill McKibben. How to make a martyr. From The Salt Lake Tribune, Jul 23, 2011. Accessed Jul 24, 2011.

The sound of libraries suffocating
How to kill a golden goose. From the Santa Maria Times, July 5, 2011. Accessed July 24, 2011.

tags: Noted with Interest

Noted with Interest, June 2011

Jun 20, 2011

This Hero Didn’t Stand a Chance
by Chris Hedges. Tim DeChristopher will be sentenced on July 26. From Truthdig.com, Jun 20, 2011. Accessed Jun 20, 2011.

No Justice in Kafka’s America
by Chris Hedges. From Truthdig.com, June 12, 2011. Accessed June 18, 2011.

tags: Noted with Interest

Noted with Interest, May 2011

May 31, 2011

The American Dream
by George Carlin. You better believe it. From YouTube, 2005. Accessed May 31, 2011.

The Sky Really Is Falling
By Chris Hedges. “We’ve already guaranteed ourselves a miserable century. The question is whether it’s going to be an impossible one.” From Truthdig.com, May 30, 2011. Accessed May 30, 2011.

Why Liberal Sellouts Attack Prophets Like Cornel West
By Chris Hedges. From Truthdig.com, May 23, 2011. Accessed May 23, 2011.

Faulty Towers: The Crisis in Higher Education
By William Deresiewicz. Amazing how similar this crisis sounds to all the others that are happening to us. A brilliant summation. From The Nation, May 4, 2011. Accessed May 13, 2011.

tags: Noted with Interest

The Sociopaths Among Us

May 18, 2011
Recent reports of bad boy behavior among the high and mighty (Strauss-Kahn, Schwarzenegger) have dovetailed with a couple of other news stories about bad boy behavior in the Ivy League, specifically at Yale and Dartmouth. These elite institutions are, of course, the breeding ground for our future leaders, and I am wondering if we are not seeing a pattern here. More to the point, I am wondering where our leaders get this outsized sense of entitlement, that they can run roughshod over common morality with such impunity. JFK and Eliot Spitzer are two other such egregious abusers of women (their concubines and their wives) who spring to mind. And there have been so many others.

I am beginning to think a significant proportion of the people we elect to high places are sociopaths. Definition: “A person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience.” Sociopaths are often oh-so-charming, slick and manipulative, without any capacity for empathy—solipsists to the core, in fact, for whom no one and nothing exists except to serve their own gratification, amusement, and enrichment. How else can one account for the mess we are in today?

Of course, we are all solipsists to an extent. It takes a real effort to imaginatively experience the otherness of another. When we do, it sometimes comes with a euphoric shock of recognition and, for me at any rate, a welcome understanding that I am not alone “in this dark world and wide.” But the Profumos of this world (and he was the earliest manifestation of this sort of thing in my memory) have no such epiphanic moments. They live locked in a world of their own exclusivity, unable to share in the wonder of the other. Which, I guess, would be fine, except sociopathy so often manifests itself in pursuits inimical to a healthy society, from running for office to serial killing.

Is there some way we can identify and filter these people out of our political process? Probably not. Unless we can find a way to identify the right people (rather than allow the wrong ones to self-select themselves for political office), and encourage and support them in their races. Otherwise, we are left with the non-solution proposed by Gore Vidal, that “[a]ny American who is prepared to run for [office] should automatically, by definition, be disqualified from ever doing so.”
tags: Politics | Law

Noted with Interest, April 2011

Apr 25, 2011

The Corporate State Wins Again
By Chris Hedges. No it has not! We must take a stand. We will take a stand. And we will win. From Truthdig.com, Apr 25, 2011. Accessed Apr 25, 2011.

The Straight Dope: Bill Moyers Interviews David Simon
The creator of The Wire tells it like it is. From Guernica, April 2011. Accessed April 14, 2011.

Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System
By Chris Hedges. How education has lost its way in America. From Truthdig.com. Accessed Apr 11, 2011.

Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%
Whaddaya know? Joe Stiglitz agrees with me. Self-interest means taking care of the next guy! The Golden Rule isn’t altruistic—it’s a survival tactic. by Joseph Stiglitz, from Vanity Fair, May 2011, accessed April 11, 2011.

tags: Noted with Interest

Lifting the Veil

Apr 12, 2011
There has been much debate of late regarding the French ban on the wearing of the Arab niqab (mask) in public. The two sides are well represented in an editorial in Canada’s National Post,1 so I am not going to rehash them here.

However, I will add one comment not mentioned in this editorial or in anything else I have read on this issue. If a government is going to conclude that the wearing of a mask in public is, indeed, a matter for the legal system to deal with, then they should not double down on blaming the victim—which is what the oppressors of these women are doing in the first place—and arrest these hapless females. They should arrest the culpable parties—the husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons of these abused women.

The radical Islamists tell their women, “Get raped and we will stone you to death.” The French tell them, “Wear a burka or naqib and we will put you in a cell and fine you 150 euros.” Does such an attitude not merely represent a milder form of the same injustice and, ever at the root of this sort of thing, misogyny?
1 Don’t ban the burka, an editorial from the National Post, Ontario, Canada, Apr 12, 2011, accessed Apr 12, 2011.

tags: People | Law | Europe

Noted with Interest, March 2011

Mar 28, 2011

The Collapse of Globalization
by Chris Hedges. From Truthdig.com, Mar 27, 2011. Accessed Mar 28, 2011.

Losing Our Way
by Bob Herbert, who is leaving the Times (this is his last column). First Frank Rich, then Bob Herbert. How soon before the last two decently liberal voices, Kristof and Krugman, are gone? From The New York Times, Mar 25, 2011. Accessed Mar 28, 2011.

This Time We’re Taking the Whole Planet with Us
by Chris Hedges. From Truthdig.com, Mar 7, 2011. Accessed Mar 8, 2011.

Armies of Expensive Lawyers, Replaced by Cheaper Software
By John Markoff. Who needs globalization? The non-managerial middle class can be replaced by an Intel chip. From the New York Times, Mar 4, 2011. Accessed Mar 8, 2011.

Degrees and Dollars
By Paul Krugman. Krugman’s take on the previous item. From the New York Times, Mar 6, 2011. Accessed Mar 8, 2011.

2011 Annual Letter from Bill Gates
By Bill Gates, undated. Well worth a read. From the Gates Foundation. Accessed Mar 8, 2011.

Unintended but Sound Advice
By Bob Herbert. We hang together, or we hang separately. Which do you think is happening today? From The New York Times, Feb 28, 2011. Accessed Mar 1, 2011.

tags: Noted with Interest

Death by a Thousand Cuts

Mar 10, 2011
The anti-labor activities in Ohio and Wisconsin in recent days are the tip of the iceberg—the tip that the mainstream media has seen fit to cover. Here are some dramatic numbers which are a harbinger of perilous times to come:1

  • Twenty-three percent of the jobs lost during the recession were low-wage jobs, while 49 percent of the jobs gained in the last “recovery” year were.
  • Forty percent of the jobs lost in the recession were high-wage jobs; and an even less favorable number gained in the last year were—only 14 percent.
  • One in five who are working part time want full-time work.
  • Six percent of the significant productivity gains seen in the last 18 months were shared with workers. In past recoveries, that figure has averaged 58 percent.
Worker participation in unions in the private sector has dropped from over 35 percent at its peak in the 1950s (even that but a modest one in three) to 6.9 percent today—essentially no one. Although there are many more workers in the private sector, there are more public sector workers who are unionized—at least for now.2 Shameful legislation in Wisconsin and Ohio have established the momentum to whittle away at public sector union representation.

But then, what is a union today? The Transportation Security Administration workers (the ones who pat you down at airports) recently gained the right to vote for union representation and will be doing so through April 19. The union representation they are voting for, however, will not allow them to strike, engage in slowdown activities, or bargain for wages.3 This is a union?

This is death by a thousand cuts. The radical right—I would not grace them with the name of Republicans and besmirch the party of Lincoln, TR, Eisenhower, and even the felon Nixon, who had more decency than they have—the radical right are on the ascendant everywhere, including the White House.

And we put them there. The fault lies squarely with the American electorate, with you and me.

And that is the source from which our redemption will come. We, the people, will reclaim our nation’s pre-eminent place among history’s grandest experiments, or, along with the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome, we will fade into the back pages of history. Knowing the world as I know it today, I don’t want it to be denied America’s example, the America I know we have in us, the America I have lived, and hope to live again.4
1 Jobs returning—but good ones not so much, by Zachary Roth, from Yahoo! News, Mar 9, 2011.
2 Union Membership in U.S. Fell to a 70-Year Low Last Year, by Steven Greenhouse, from the NYTimes, Jan 21, 2011.
3 Screeners Under Obama May Give Federal Unions Biggest Vote Win in Years, by John Hughes, from Bloomberg.com, Mar 9, 2011.
4 Are America’s Best Days Behind Us?, by Fareed Zakaria, from Time Magazine, Mar 3, 2011.
tags: Economics | Labor | Governance

Noted with Interest, February 2011

Feb 28, 2011

No Other Way Out
by Chris Hedges. March 19—Our next opportunity to act our conscience. From Truthdig.com, Feb 28, 2011. Accessed Feb 28, 2011.

Recognizing the Language of Tyranny
By Chris Hedges. From Truthdig.com, Feb 6, 2011. Accessed Feb 7, 2011.

Where Liberals Go to Feel Good
by Chris Hedges. Either you are or your aren’t. From Truthdig.com, Jan 24, 2011. Accessed Feb 5, 2011.

tags: Noted with Interest

The Age of Anxiety

Feb 26, 2011
The exciting, terrifying, edge-of-our-seats news from the Middle East these days has demonstrated to me something which I hadn't realized before. Governments not only should derive their legitimacy (their "just powers") from the consent of the governed (see the Declaration of Independence), but they can only derive their legitimacy from that consent.

The consent may be granted grudgingly; it may be obtained for a time criminally and fraudulently via a police state system of spies, torture, and murder; but when it is withdrawn, that government is finished.

Who knows what will come of the incredibly brave actions, the sacrifice, the turmoil that is overwhelming the Middle East these days? As Chris Hedges has written1, whatever comes of it will almost certainly not be to the benefit of the United States. We have partnered with these departing tyrants, have supported them, have bankrolled them, have too often set them on their thrones ourselves, in blatant disregard of our own avowed principles.

Whatever outcomes we may dread—civil wars, a resurgent fundamentalist Islam, a disrupted oil industry; other outcomes, just as likely, we may hope to see emerge—a democratic awakening; a flowering of Arab and Muslim culture in the hothouse atmosphere of freedom; a new populism—disappearing in our own culture—which celebrates the common man and woman and understands that 95 percent of us are not put on this earth to enrich the other five.

I find it all incredible and wonderful and worrisome. These departing tyrants are OUR tyrants. We believe that their oil is OUR oil. Iran is playing around with their warships approaching Israel. The spectre of Armageddon is not entirely out of the question.

The Chinese curse, May you live in interesting times,2 has been pronounced upon all our heads, and the Age of Anxiety3 is back.
1 What Corruption and Force Have Wrought in Egypt, by Chris Hedges, from Truthdig.com, Jan 30, 2011, accessed Feb 26, 2011.
2 May You Live in Interesting Times, from Wikipedia, accessed Feb 26, 2011.
3 The Age of Anxiety, from Wikipedia, accessed Feb 26, 2011.
tags: Politics | Governance | Working Together

Noted with Interest, January 2011

Jan 31, 2011

What Corruption and Force Have Wrought in Egypt
By Chris Hedges. Let’s pause in our exultation over Egypt to reflect what it really portends for the future. As usual, Hedges offers insights and warnings we would be wise to attend. From Truthdig.com, Jan 30, 2011. Accessed Jan 31, 2011.

U.S. will respond to Chinese military advances: Gates
By Phil Stewart. Can you say “Arms Race”? From Reuters, Jan 8, 2011. Accessed Jan 11, 2011.

Misery with Plenty of Company
By Bob Herbert. Poverty is our greatest threat. From The New York Times, Jan 7, 2010. Accessed Jan 11, 2011.

Even Lost Wars Make Corporations Rich
By Chris Hedges. “Either you stand for something or you do not.” From Truthdig.com, Jan 10, 2010. Accessed Jan 11, 2011.

Gallup: Only 31% Say They’re Dems—Tied for Lowest Level in 22 Years
By Jon Terbush. There are now more self-proclaimed Independents than either Democrats or Republicans. Can you say “Third Party”? From Talking Points Memo, Jan 6, 2011. Accessed Jan 7, 2011.

“The Left Has Nowhere to Go”
By Chris Hedges. “If you were one of the millions who backed down in the voting booth in 2008, don’t do it again....” From Truthdig.com, Jan 3, 2011. Accessed Jan 3, 2011.

New Year’s Prediction
By Robert Reich. Read it and weep. Then let’s get mad and get going. From The Huffington Post, Dec 30, 2010. Accessed Jan 1, 2011.

U.S. Approved Business with Blacklisted Nations
By Jo Becker. Lie down with dogs... From The New York Times, Dec 23, 2010. Accessed Jan 1, 2011.

tags: Noted with Interest

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Jan 09, 2011
The employment report that came out last Friday is a beautiful example of how to lie with statistics. The big number announced was the drop in the unemployment rate from 9.8 to 9.4 percent. The nation added 103,000 jobs in December and it is generally conceded that we need to add 100,000 to 125,000 jobs each month “just to keep up with population growth and keep the unemployment rate from rising.”1

So how did the measly increase of 103,000 jobs in December result in the largest drop in the unemployment rate in months? It is because the unemployment rate is based on a fiction the Department of Labor calls the “labor force,” which consists of the number of people who are employed or who are looking for work. An estimated 260,000 unemployed people gave up their long pursuit of employment in December, and that would seem to be the sole reason the unemployment rate dropped so precipitously.

For better or for worse, that number is the one which people latch onto when assessing the general state of our economy, and now we can see how misleading it is. To not count among the unemployed those who have given up looking for work is not simply a statistical failing, it is a moral failing. It is, however, a particularly canny political strategy, as now the nation is under the impression that unemployment—the single greatest threat we face today—is suddenly on a speedy and healthy mend, when nothing could be further from the truth

Give us an unemployment rate that includes all those who want to work but are unemployed, then include those who are working part time but want to work full time, and the millions of employed who are working for less, sometimes considerably less, than a living wage, and you will see a number that will strike terror into your heart. And in 2011, when many unemployed will begin exhausting their 99 weeks of compensation and will be desperate to take on any work at any pay, that number will begin to skyrocket.

America as the economic powerhouse of the world is history. The only question now is how fast and how far we descend in the coming decade into a second-rate, two-class society consisting of the few super-rich and the rest of us. A paradigm shift in priorities on the order of A New American Vision points a way out of our predicament. This, or something equally radical, is all that can reverse the trends of the past thirty years. And if we don’t get started on this now, it may well be too late.
1 CPBB Statement: January 7, 2011, by Chad Stone, accessed Jan 8, 2011.
tags: New Political Party | Governance | ATN

All Together Now

Jan 01, 2011
To reverse the dangerous social, political, and economic trends of the last thirty years;

To halt our lemming-like march to extinction via global climatological collapse;

To close the vast gulf between the obscenely super-rich and the billions of our fellow creatures who go to bed hungry every night and whose children die by the thousands every day from disease, infected water, and malnutrition.

I don’t know how we are going to do this. However, the world is full of brilliant, caring, and aware individuals who today are tilling their own plots of ground in pursuit of global justice. If we can coalesce into a cooperative force, we can bring our world back from the brink. This is something we must do and we must do it now. If we don't, all of our causes are lost.

2011 will be a pivotal year. As 99-week unemployment benefits begin to run out, millions of Americans will face destitution to a degree not felt in this country since the depths of the Great Depression. Home foreclosures will continue apace, with millions of those same Americans facing the double whammy of unemployment and homelessness. The new Republican majority in the House will initiate a full court press to bring down Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security with, apparently, the cooperation of the so-called opposition party and the White House. As Robert Reich says in his Dec 30 piece you will find on this month’s Noted with Interest, the rich will get richer, the poor poorer, the stock market will go up, and the misery for the average American will deepen.

In 2011, boomers will begin reaching retirement age in droves. After the hit they took in 2008-09 to their retirement accounts, many of them will be unable to retire, further freezing out young people who are already unemployed in numbers far higher than the national rate of 9.6 percent. Wages will fall as thousands more enter the labor force each month and the unemployed become increasingly desperate for work.

The American people have been abandoned by their representatives and by a suddenly global economy and an international corporatocracy that look elsewhere for both labor and markets. Housing prices—an important indicator of a society’s economic well-being—continue to fall,1 plunging additional hundreds of thousands of homeowners underwater with every drop of a percentage point.

In his piece noted above, Reich hopes that “[p]rogressives, enlightened Tea Partiers, Independents, organized labor, minorities, and the young [will] form a new progressive movement designed to reconnect America.” This is our hope as well, and has been our theme here at All Together Now since 2008. In 2011, we must begin to forge that movement. And we must do it without, at present, an obvious leader around which to assemble our forces. Until one arises, we must gather our forces around the task itself. We have leaders aplenty, as noted above, tilling important patches of soil around the globe. What we need now is followers, committed to the goal of working together. If you are willing to be one of them, send me your name, your email, and your thoughts on how we should proceed. No task is more important to the future of our planet and our species.

1 US house prices fall in October, set to tumble further, by Mark Trumbull, from the Christian Science Monitor, Dec 28, 2010, accessed Jan 1, 2011.
tags: ATN | New Political Party

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