Peter Dreier

Peter Dreier is the E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics and founding chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. 

Recent Articles

A Big Test for Janet Yellen

The Fed has a lot of power to hold big banks accountable. A grassroots coalition wants Yellen to use it. 

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
A coalition of California community groups and a local legal aid agency have come up with a novel way to hold a major L.A. area bank accountable for the devastation it has caused Southern California communities as a result of its risky and predatory practices. The California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC) and Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County (NLSLA) have asked Janet Yellen—chair of the Federal Reserve, the country’s top bank regulator—to halt a planned takeover of Pasadena-based OneWest Bank by the New Jersey-based CIT Group until these banks pay reparations for the damage they caused. CRC and NLSLA have suggested a price tag of $3 billion to create and preserve affordable housing in Los Angeles County. For a decade up to 2008, banks lived high on the hog as federal regulators looked the other way while lenders engaged in an orgy of risky, reckless and predatory loans. After the housing bubble burst and several major banks collapsed, the Bush and Obama...

How the Bankers Destroyed the Dream

The mortgage collapse was an entirely avoidable crisis—a brew of elite financial lobbying and bad policy. 

AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, file
(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, file) In this May 28, 2009 file photo, a foreclosed home is shown in Mountain View, Calif. More than 13 percent of American homeowners with a mortgage are either behind on their payments or in foreclosure as the recession throws more people out of work, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009. Other People's Houses: How Decades of Bailouts, Captive Regulators, and Toxic Bankers Made Home Mortgages a Thrilling Business By Jennifer Taub 416 pp. Yale University Press $30 In the early 2000s, the media regularly turned to David Lereah, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. He provided consistently optimistic predictions about rising housing prices and labeled those who disagreed a “Chicken Little.” In 2006, at the peak of the housing bubble, he published a book entitled Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not Bust—And How You Can Profit from It . Within a year, the housing bubble popped. Between 2006 and 2012,...

Bernie Sanders's Presidential Bid Represents a Long Tradition of American Socialism

Long deployed by the right as an epithet, this form of left-wing populism is as American as apple pie.

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
MAY 4, 2015 Now that Bernie Sanders has entered the contest for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, Americans are going to hear a lot about socialism, because the 73-year-old U.S. senator from Vermont describes himself as a “democratic socialist.” “Ever since I was a kid I never liked to see people without money or connections get put down or pushed around,” Sanders explained in making his announcement. “When I came to Congress I tried to be a voice for people who did not have a voice—the elderly, the children, the sick, and the poor. And that is what I will be doing as a candidate for president.” We can expect the right-wing echo chamber—including Fox News hosts, Tea Party politicians, and Rush Limbaugh—to attack Sanders for espousing an ideology that they’ll likely describe as foreign, European, and un-American. But Sanders’s views are in sync with a longstanding American socialist tradition...

Progressive Midterm Victories You Didn't Hear About -- And Some That Could Still Happen

Across the nation, voters passed measures against fracking and abortion restrictions, and for the minimum wage, paid sick leave, public safety and gun reform. 

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tuesday’s Republican wave of election victories did not reflect public opinion or the public mood. Instead it was the result of the GOP’s triumph in changing the rules of democracy to favor big business and conservative interest groups, including the triumphs of corporate money and voter suppression. But while Democrat candidates were going down to defeat, liberals and progressive won some impressive but little-publicized victories on important issues—including minimum wage hikes—especially in red and purple states, suggesting that voters are not as conservative as the pundits are pontificating. One of the most significant victories occurred in Richmond, California, where progressives defeated a slate funded by Chevron, the nation’s third largest corporation, which poured at least $3 million (about $150 for each likely voter) into this municipal election in this working class Bay Area city of 105,000 people. Progressive Victories Richmond, California. All...

A Book for the People of Ferguson -- And Oppressed People Everywhere

Fred Ross's change-making Axioms for Organizers is updated for the Internet age, and for a new generation battling discrimination and police brutality.

fredrosssr.com
Most residents of Ferguson, Missouri, have probably never heard of Fred Ross, Sr., but they could use his help now. Ferguson's population is two-thirds African American, but the mayor, almost all members of the city council and school board, and 95 percent of the police department is white, and in last year's municipal election only 7 percent of blacks came to the polls. Ross—perhaps the most influential (but little-known) community organizer in American history—had a successful career mobilizing people to challenge police brutality, fight segregation, and organize voter registration and voter turnout campaigns. Ross taught people how to channel their anger and frustrations into building powerful grassroots organizations that can win concrete victories that change institutions and improve people's lives. He understood that while sporadic protests can draw attentions to long-neglected problems, it requires the hard day-to-day intentional work of organizing to build power...

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