Make Your Voice Heard

NJ.com — Tuesday, April 14, 2009

By John Atlas / NJ Voices

What should you do if you're politically progressive or even if you label yourself a liberal, or a Democrat but are unhappy about the direction of New Jersey's government?

You should attend a great conference on Saturday, April 18th being held at East Brunswick Hilton between 8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. The conference is called New Directions for New Jersey: Progressive Policies to Address the Economic Crisis

Why do we need such a conference?

Our nation is facing greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. It was a crisis caused by a greedy business leaders, Wall Street wheelers and dealers and their supporters including religious fundamentalists, fanatical right-wing Republicans, neo conservative intellectuals, as well as neo-liberals in the Democratic Party. They all had a religious belief in some version of free-market capitalism, tax cuts for the rich, deregulation of the financial services industry and a call for getting the government off our backs, except of course when companies needed a bailout. It was these policies that caused the crisis and only a complete reversal can get us out of it. Like global warming this a crisis caused by human actions and was entirely preventable.

I think John Corzine wants to do the right thing and President Barack Obama is mostly on the correct path, trying to correct the damage done to this country. But while the new leadership in Washington is committed to driving recovery through much-needed public investment, New Jersey is stuck in the tired, old pattern of short-sighted budget cuts and tax breaks that give the most to those who need the least help.

We need new directions and a new discussion in New Jersey about how to put the state on the path to prosperity for all. The public is invited to hear from experts and join the dialogue on fresh approaches for fixing New Jersey's broken tax system and making needed investments in schools, bridges and roads and other parts of our infrastructure. The meeting will also discuss how we can create good, green jobs and face up to other crucial issues like health care and criminal justice.

The keynote speaker is Robert Kuttner, author of Obama's Challenge: America's Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency, and co-editor of American Prospect, one of the best journals in the country. Kuttner is America's best economics journalist. Also speaking is Joel Rogers, professor of law, political science and sociology at the University of Wisconsin and a recipient of the MacArthur Genius Award. Rogers combines a brilliant understanding of the present crisis, with a great sense of humor.

Some of the other great speakers include Henry Coleman of the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy; Elsie Foster-Dublin, Acting Mayor of Highland Park; James Harris of NAACP; Greg Le Roy of Good Jobs First; and Jon Shure of New Jersey Policy Perspective, New Jersey's premier progressive think tank.

Workshops include:

Go to http://betterchoicesfornj.org/content/get-involved to register.
If you want a flyer or more information you can contact:

Margarita Hernandez
Statewide Lead Organizer
Grassroots Institute of New Jersey
New Jersey Working Families Alliance
30 Clinton Street, 2nd Floor
Newark, NJ, 07102
Tel: 973-623-1828 x236
Cell: 917-202-8502
Fax: 973-623-3777

Some of the sponsors of the conference include: the Better Choices Budget Campaign, BlueWaveNJ, the Communications Workers of America, the Grassroots Institute of New Jersey, Health Professionals and Allied Employees, the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, National Housing Institute, New Jersey Citizen Action, the New Jersey Education Association, the New Jersey Environmental Federation, New Jersey Policy Perspective and the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, Service Employees International Union and the Sierra Club.

Concerned citizens, union members, parents, teachers, advocates, students, seniors and other New Jerseyans will be coming to the New Directions for New Jersey conference.
If you want to be part of the solution and help to change the conversation in Trenton, you should come.

It's free. Coffee and lunch will be served.

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