The Monopoly Menace

The recent issue (Volume 306, Number 7, March 12, 2018) of The Nation contains an article, “The Monopoly Menace”. It is worth reading. Here is an excerpt:

“Today, a few corporations once again dominate sectors of our economy. In an interview with The Nation’s George Zornick, Senator Elizabeth Warren points out that two companies sell 70 percent of the beer in the country; four companies produce 85 percent of American beef; and four airlines account for 80 percent of domestic seats. With monopolies squeezing out the competition and underpaying workers, profits are funneled to a tiny elite. It’s no coincidence that the three richest American’s – Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, and Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett – are together worth slightly more than the bottom half of the entire US population.”

The first way to fight back is by becoming informed. That’s why I became a subscriber to The Nation last year. Another way is to buy local, craft beer and to buy local food. We do in our household.

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Cool Down for Warmth Event – Feb. 1&2

On February 1 & 2 there will be an event in Newark, New Jersey called “Cool Down for Warmth”. The purpose is to raise funds so families can stay warm this winter. My goal is to raise $1,000 for the cause.

A little history. In December, 1992 I wished there was a place to refer families to when no other energy assistance resources were available. Little did I know, it would lead to the creation of New Jersey SHARES, our statewide energy fund – which is now celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Today, I need your help to keep my dream alive and to help New Jersey families stay warm. On February 1 & 2 New Jersey SHARES will be holding “Cool Down for Warmth” to both raise funds and to make our mission better known in our state of New Jersey.

We’re building an Ice House – yes, an ICE HOUSE – in Newark to highlight the critical importance of heat during the cold winter months.

You can help by making a donation. Your donation makes a difference and may be eligible to be matched dollar for dollar by your utility company. So if you can give $50, it can have the impact of $100.

Donate now. Go to my Ice House Challenge fundraising page. If you want more information then read my personal story.

You can follow Cool Down for Warmth on the NJ SHARES website or on Twitter, #CoolDown4WarmthNJ or @njshares on Facebook.

Thanks for your help.

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Five Ways To Make A Difference In 2018

Last week I received an email from the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization I contributed to in 2016 following the presidential election. SPLC is a nationally recognized group that fights hate groups and bigotry. The email caught my attention since I’ve yet to make a New Year’s Resolution.

Their “five ways to make a difference” is not so much a personal promise you have to make to yourself but a pledge to remake our country, to take it back, all in a way that can work for you. I’ll be doing my best to follow their suggestions.

You can follow it by reading their article. It starts out with the following: “What will you do this year to be an engaged member of a democratic and tolerant community? Here are five items to add to your New Year’s resolution list.” 1)Pledge to start a conversation. 2) Pledge to be informed. 3) Pledge to stay engaged. 4) Pledge to make your voice heard. 5) Pledge to take real-world action.

I’m going to take a good look at the pledges suggested by Southern Poverty Law Center and see how I can incorporate them in my resolutions for 2018.

Btw, I continue to contribute to the Southern Poverty Law Center as long as we have a racist sleeping in the White House.

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Resistance, Part III

People of conscience change history. 2017 began as a movement of people fighting for Democracy all across our country. At first it was rallies and letter writing. It has since become more organized with amazing election results in Virginia and Alabama.

Earlier this year a list of Resistance and progressive groups were posted here and on my blog, titled Philadelphia Resistance and Progressive Groups and Resources For The Resistance. Today, a number of additional organizations and campaigns are highlighted. Working together we can make a difference.

Listed below are organizations worth joining or supporting. They are:

New Jersey groups that stepped up in 2017 include:

Below is a description of each group in their own words; and links to their social media sites.

ACLU of Pennsylvania. “The ACLU of Pennsylvania is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership organization dedicated to defending and expanding individual rights and personal freedoms.” Facebook Twitter

Citizens for Better Elections. “A nonpartisan Montgomery County, Pennsylvania group dedicated to promoting election security and efficiency in both our county and our state. Our mission is to ensure accurate, verifiable and secure elections.” Facebook Twitter

Committee of Seventy. “Learn how to run for committeeperson in May 2018. Nomination petitions are due March 6.” Facebook Twitter

Fair Districts PA. “Pennsylvania has some of the most unfair congressional districts in the country. Gerrymandered district lines weaken the power of our votes – and politicians are working behind closed doors to keep it that way. We all pay the price.” Facebook Twitter

Pennsylvania Together. “Pennsylvania Together is a statewide coalition of more than 100 grassroots resistance groups. Our members come together to build a better future for all, especially those who face oppression on a daily basis and now have reason to fear that it will be state sanctioned. Together, we resist racism, misogyny and fascism; advocate for policy change; increase civic engagement; reduce voter registration and turnout gaps; and demand accountability from our elected leaders to put people and planet first.” Facebook Twitter

Philadelphia 3.0. “Our mission is to bring new voices into the city’s political discussions. We want to support leaders in their efforts to make smarter and better policy.” Facebook Twitter

POWER. “Through the discipline of relationship building and the empowerment of everyday people, we hope to make lasting racial and economic policy change that benefits all.” Facebook Twitter

Sara Johnson Rothman for State Representative (151st District). “A former prosecutor, a school board member, and a mom.” Facebook Twitter

Swing Left. “It starts with the House. Don’t despair. Mobilize.” Facebook Twitter

Turn PA Blue. “Turn PA Blue is changing the political landscape in PA by bringing volunteers together to work outside the gerrymandered boundaries that divide us.” Facebook Twitter

Blue Jersey. “The voice of Progressive New Jersey since 2005.” Facebook Twitter

Mikie Sherrill for Congress (11th Congressional District). “Naval Academy graduate, Navy pilot, former federal prosecutor and mother of four – Mikie Sherrill is running to represent New Jersey’s 11th District in Congress to fight back against Donald Trump and to fight for our future.” Facebook Twitter

New Jersey Citizen Action. “NJ Citizen Action is New Jersey’s largest progressive citizen watchdog coalition.” Facebook Twitter

New Jersey Working Families Alliance. “New Jersey Working Families Alliance is a grassroots independent political organization fighting for a government that represents the needs and values of working families.” Facebook Twitter

NJ 11th For Change. “1643 days since Rep. Frelinghuysen’s last town hall.” Facebook

STAND Central New Jersey. “Join the fight for social justice, economic opportunity and basic human rights.” Facebook Twitter

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Tools For Job Searching

Unemployment is down, but not to a person who is out of work or underemployed. To focus on the need for job search tools and links to employment programs, the New Jersey Community Resources website has added a new section titled, “Employment and Job Search”. It includes links to state agencies, workforce development groups, programs run by nonprofits and leading online job search tools. They include: OnRamp, Career Connections, Department of Labor and Workforce Development, One-Stop Career Centers, Civil Service Commission, John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, New Start Career Network, Easterseals New Jersey – Senior Community Services Employment Program (SCSEP), The Balance: Best Job Search Engine Sites, Resources For Job Seekers, Elsa Langer, Indeed and Glassdoor.

New Jersey Career Connections services can be accessed through a partnership with a number of libraries throughout the state. Library staffs have been trained to provide job search assistance in the following public libraries: Atlantic City, Cumberland County, East Brunswick, Gloucester County, Long Branch, Monmouth County, New Brunswick, New Jersey State Library, Newark, North Bergen, Ocean County, Paterson, Plainfield, Roselle, Salem, Sussex County, Union and Warren County.

Know another online job search tool? Send a note.

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Dreams Do Come True

On December 13, 1992 I wished there was someplace to refer families when no other resources were available to help with energy bills. Little did I know then that it would lead to the creation of New Jersey SHARES, a statewide energy nonprofit organization.

Today, I need your help to keep my dream alive and to help New Jersey families stay warm. On February 1 & 2, 2018 NJ SHARES will be holding an event “Cool Down for Warmth” to both raise funds and to make our mission better known in our state of New Jersey.

We’re building an Ice House – yes, an ICE HOUSE – in Newark to highlight the critical importance of heat during the cold winter months.

You can help by making a donation. The average grant needed to restore/maintain utility service is about $400. Your donation makes a difference and may be eligible to be matched dollar for dollar by your utility company. So if you can give $50, it will have the impact of $100.

Read my personal story then visit my fundraising page, New Jersey SHARES Ice House Challenge. Thank you.

For more information on becoming involved, visit NJ SHARES Cool Down for Warmth Fundraising page.

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Winter Termination Program Begins November 15

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has announced the resumption of the Winter Termination Program which protects low and moderate income households from electric and gas termination, if they participate in certain energy programs. The program is in effect from November 15 through March 15.

The Board indicated in their press release that information is also available on various energy assistance programs.

The November 14 press release reads as follows:

Today, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (Board) highlights that November 15th is the beginning of its annual Winter Termination Program (WTP), which protects residential customers of the regulated electric and natural gas utilities in the state, who qualify and enroll in the program, from having their natural gas and/or electric service turned off during the upcoming winter season.

“No one should fear or suffer the consequences from having their heat turned off in the dead of winter,” said Richard S. Mroz, N.J. Board of Public Utilities President. “The regulated utility companies want to work with their customers to ensure that they and their families can stay safe and warm during the winter. Yet it is important to stress that customers should make every effort to pay what they can during the winter months since their past due account balances come due once the Winter Termination Program ends. All too often, we see customers who experience financial hardship when the moratorium ends due to large balances owed. And if customers don’t satisfy their obligation, the utilities can turn off service after March 15.”

The Board’s program runs from November 15, 2017 through March 15, 2018. All customers who are eligible for the WTP are required to enroll in a 12-month budget payment plan with their utility. The utilities are required to consider the customer’s ability to pay when setting up a payment plan. Customers are further required to make good faith payments toward their budget plan. Although service cannot be terminated during this winter moratorium, customers remain liable for the balance of their utility bills once the WTP ends on March 15.

Customers who receive benefits from any one of the following programs are eligible to enroll and be protected by the Winter Termination Program: Lifeline Credit; Federal Home Energy Assistance; Work First New Jersey-Temporary Assistance to Needy Families; Federal Supplemental Security Income; Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled; Work First New Jersey/General Assistance
Benefits; and the Universal Service Fund. The program is also available to customers who fall into a “catch-all” category of people who are unable to pay their utility bills because of circumstances beyond their control, such as unemployment, death of wage earner or illness. In addition to the WTP, eligible customers can seek utility bill assistance help from several other programs. Information about these programs can be accessed on the Board’s website at: www.bpu.state.nj.us/bpu/assistance/programs/.

Related pages on the New Jersey Community Resources website include:
New Jersey Energy Assistance Programs, including income guidelines and a guide for Avoiding Utility Shutoffs in New Jersey.

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