Over a century ago, a young teacher named Margaret Haley became active in the Chicago Teachers Federation. She and other members of the Federation became outraged by a proposal that would impose business practices on the schools and institute a new salary plan that favored mostly male high school teachers over mostly female elementary teachers. They organized and defeated the proposal.


In 1899, Haley led a campaign for better funding of the Chicago schools. She brandished tax records of the city’s biggest businesses, showing that they were not paying their fair share. As a result of her exposé, corporate taxes were raised as was school funding.


Margaret Haley is today recognized as a founder of the teachers’ union movement.


But some things never change. I recently received a copy of a report published in 2011 by a group called the Public Accountability Initiative. The report lists the businesses and individuals who have contributed to a campaign (“The Committee to Save New York”) to keep taxes low while their own corporations benefit from tax benefits and tax avoidance. The report refers to these corporations and individual s as the “Committee to Scam New York.”


The report shows how the Committee to Save New York is a coalition of many different pro-business, anti-tax lobbies. It also shows that its members have benefited by tax breaks and tax avoidance. The consequences: vast wealth for the rich, unemployment and poverty for everyone else.


Margaret Haley would have been delighted–and outraged–by this report.