Vegan Protest Fuel in Madison, and more

Total Recall
Total Recall

(1) Vegan Protest Fuel: Today’s syllogism: “All Wisconsinites may be cheeseheads,
but not all Wisconsinites eat cheese,” therefore, vegan demonstrators need an alternative to the pizzas from Ian’s Pizza that so many people have thoughtfully donated to the efforts in Madison.  Our friend Hillary Rettig is one of the people behind the Vegan Protest Fuel effort;  to donate or find out more, visit their website or Facebook page; here is the press release:

Success of “Ian’s Pizza” Donations
Spurs Creation of “Vegan Protest Fuel” Program

“All Wisconsinites may be cheeseheads,
but not all Wisconsinites eat cheese,” says one protester.

3/7/2011 – For Immediate Release

Contacts:
Hillary Rettig (Boston, MA), 781-500-9942, hillaryrettig@yahoo.com

Global donations of Ian’s Pizza pizza has kept many of Wisconsin’s
Capitol protesters nourished, but one group was feeling left out – the
vegan and vegetarian community. The vegetarians don’t eat meat, of
course, and many don’t eat cheese. The vegans eat neither.

Meanwhile, Boston, MA, resident (and vegan) Hillary Rettig was avidly
following the protests but wondering about those same vegans and
vegetarian protesters. Inspired by the Ian’s Pizza story, she contacted
Madison-based protester and vegan Dan Nordstrom and suggested a similar
donation program featuring vegan food. “It made sense,” says Nordstrom.
“All Wisconsinites may be cheeseheads, but not all Wisconsinites eat
cheese.”

Members of the local vegan and vegetarian community immediately
embraced the idea. Simply Vegan, a campaign of Madison based Alliance
for Animals provided a temporary Paypal account, and Madison-based
vegetarian restaurant The Green Owl Cafe agreed to not only fulfill the
orders, but provide discounts, deliveries and donations. Union Cab
donated transportation, and ACE Hardware provided discounted cups and
utensils.

With those elements in place, Nordstrom and Rettig then created a
Facebook page about the program, dubbed “Vegan Protest Fuel,” and got
the word out. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Vegan Protest Fuel
collected $840 in donations from supporters in eleven states, including
Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, South Dakota, and Alaska, and was
able to provide hundreds of protesters with cruelty-free sandwiches and
soups.

Along with feeding hungry vegans and vegetarians, the activists fed
non-vegetarian protesters in hopes that many non-vegetarian protesters
will experience for themselves how delicious and sustaining vegan food
can be.

Rettig, author of a self-help book for activists entitled The Lifelong
Activist, said she was thrilled to be helping Wisconsinites, whom she
called “heroes.” “Helping organize this program is such a small thing to
do for people who are on the front line fighting for all of our
freedoms.”

(2) The Serfs of Arkansas: The latest post on the Vegan Protest Fuel page, entitled Veganism + Economic Justice, focuses on the horrible working conditions at meatpacking plants and slaughterhouses.  Indeed.  Today D&S collective member Bryan Snyder alerted us to a new American Prospect article by Monica Potts, The Serfs of Arkansas, about immigrant workers raising chickens for Tyson in Arkansas as “21st-century sharecroppers”.

(3) The Times Ignores the Left, Again: In January we reported here about how, in the wake of the Tucson shootings, New York Times political analyst Matt Bai called socialism an “enemy,” alongside totalitarianism, against which Americans would be justified in taking up arms. (This was in an analysis piece that was supposedly chiding Sarah Palin and others on the right for incendiary language!)

Today Times economic analyst David Leonhardt, whom I like a whole lot better than Bai, had an Economix blog post that didn’t implicitly advocate armed resistance against leftists, but did eradicate them in its own way.  He did so via the usual mainstream-media conflation of “liberals” with “the left,” as if there were no one to the left of liberals.  Commenting on blog posts at Marginal Revolution (one on the blind-spots of left-wing economists, and one on the blind-spots of right-wing economists), and on a liberal response to the first list, Leonhardt suggests that the left (“liberal”) economists are less likely to share the blind-spots of rank-and-file liberals, whereas right (“conservative”) economists are likely to share the blind-spots of rank-and-file conservatives.

Now I appreciate that Leonhardt is siding with the liberals here, insofar as he’s suggesting that conservative economists tend to be ideologues whereas liberal economists can escape the ideological blinders of their side of the spectrum.

But we might ask: what spectrum?  In one sense, Leonhardt is showing how narrow the spectrum is in the discipline of economics.  In another sense, by conflating “liberals” and “the left,” he’s making it seem as if the only way to disagree with, or have views more subtle or nuanced than, liberal ideology is to be more conservative.  Here’s the note I wrote him:

Re: your latest Economix post (Economic Blind Spots, Left and Right):

I found the post as confusing as I find any political discussion that conflates “liberals” with “the left” (when lots of left economists consider themselves left of liberal, and “liberal” anywhere else in the world besides the United States means free-market and pro-capitalist).

In this case, that conflation reveals a moderate bias–the conviction that the truth must lie somewhere in the middle of the liberal/conservative spectrum. Here is your explanation of the fact that “liberal”/”left-wing” economists don’t share the blind spots of many “liberal”/”left-wing” non-economists, where as conservative economists tend to share conservative blind spots:  “The difference, I think, is that conservative economists’ blind spots overlap more with general conservative blind spots than is the case for liberal economists and liberal blind spots. That’s not a value judgment so much as an observation: liberal economists tend to be more economically conservative than average liberals.”

You assume that if “liberal” economists disagree with “liberal” biases, that must mean they tend to be more conservative.  I think that may be the case for truly liberal economists (on the left end of the pro-capitalist spectrum), which is to say that much of the economics profession is really conservative, or to put it another way, there is not much to distinguish the conservatives from the liberals. But other non-conservative economists–the true left economists–disagree with liberal orthodoxy because they are to its left.  You seem to assume that to take a more nuanced view of these questions (about the value of education, the decline of manufacturing, the consequences of economic growth, etc.) than the average liberal does is to take a more conservative view, but it could equally be the case that the nuanced (and accurate) view could be left of liberal.

If you conflate “left” and “liberal,” though, you can’t even entertain that possibility.

I wish I had more time to look at the particular issues on the “liberal” list, but just by scanning the list, I am sure that the left economists who write for D&S have views more nuanced than many of the “mistaken” or “blind-spot” views on the list, while they are hardly to the right of them!  Just to give one example: on the loss of manufacturing jobs, Arthur MacEwan’s recent article takes a much more nuanced view than the one mentioned at Marginal Revolution. But Arthur’s view is not thereby more conservative! Any reader feedback on any of the other issues would be appreciated.)

–Chris Sturr

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