Economy

Thumbnail image for Why Labor Day Still Matters: Unions and the Future of American Democracy

Why Labor Day Still Matters: Unions and the Future of American Democracy

by Jim Miller 09.01.2014 Columns

By Jim Miller

Over the last year, the subject of economic inequality has been in the news quite a bit with the release of Robert Reich’s spectacular documentary Inequality for All and economist Thomas Piketty’s seminal work, Capital in the Twentieth Century. The picture they paint is a grim one and new bad numbers just keep rolling in.

For instance, a few weeks ago a Russell Sage Foundation study revealed that the wealth of the typical American household has dropped nearly 20 percent since 1984 and yet another study notes that private sector wages measured in real terms have dipped 16.2 percent since their 1972 high point. In the wake of that news, another US Census Bureau report came out showing that middle class household wealth fell by 35 percent between 2005 and 2011.

Thus while the last few years in particular have been incredibly beneficial for the ultra affluent, most of the rest of us have struggled to hold ground or not lose more. Some economists are even calling this phenomenon “the new normal.”

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California Legislature Passes Bill to Protect Temp Workers

by Source 08.30.2014 Business

220px-Californiastatecapitol By Michael Grabell / ProPublica

The California legislature has passed a bill that would hold companies legally responsible if the temp agencies and subcontractors they hire cheat workers out of their wages or put them in harm’s way.

Labor officials across the country have increasingly expressed concern about the rapid growth of the temporary staffing industry since the recession. They have also noted the push by hotels and warehouses to subcontract work that is part of their core business, such as cleaning guest rooms and unloading trucks.

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Thumbnail image for More Evidence Pointing to Charter City ‘Savings’ Fallacy

More Evidence Pointing to Charter City ‘Savings’ Fallacy

by Source 08.28.2014 Activism

by Don Greene / Escondido Democratic Club

Part of the pro-city charter mantra we hear from Mayor Abed and the other members of the city council majority is about savings. Especially savings when it comes to eliminating prevailing wages from city construction projects. In a recently released survey, the ‘savings’ that Sam & Co continue to promote are becoming harder and harder to find.

The City of Carlsbad – a charter city in North San Diego county and the favorite, “let’s-be-more-like-them” example promoted by the Mayor – answered a survey on Prevailing Wages and associated savings. The results were somewhat lackluster. When asked the question, “What savings have been realized on average for those contracts where non prevailing wages have been applied?” the answer was telling:

“We have found savings to be hard to ascertain. Bid prices might be lower on the front end but there is some suspicion that total project costs may impact initial savings (change orders, costly project delays, more labor by city employees, etc.)”

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Thumbnail image for Game of Drones: What Are the Rules of the Game for Civilian Drone Use?

Game of Drones: What Are the Rules of the Game for Civilian Drone Use?

by At Large 08.27.2014 Activism

By Lawrence A. Herzog

On a recent Sunday morning, I was hiking up the back streets of Soledad Mountain in La Jolla. Arriving on top and prepared to enjoy the stunning aerial view of our Pacific coastline, I suddenly heard a disturbing, loud, buzzing sound. As I poked my head around one of the black, granite-covered walls of the Veteran’s Monument, a small robot-sized helicopter jumped out, hovering just above me.

I was staring at, in today’s parlance, a drone.

“What the heck”? My eyes were soon drawn to its source, a man standing near the edge of the main parking area, operating a small remote control, with the drone now buzzing over toward him.

Curious, I walked over and said, “Hi, I was wondering, do folks need some kind of permit to operate near a Veteran Memorial site?” The drone operator did not respond. Within minutes, however, he was gone.

End of story? I think not.

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Thumbnail image for Precious Water Bottled and Shipped Out of Drought-Ridden California

Precious Water Bottled and Shipped Out of Drought-Ridden California

by Source 08.27.2014 Activism

By Anastasia Pantsios / EcoWatch

California is suffering through a record drought. Water is being rationed and its usually fertile agriculture industry is suffering. Meanwhile, someone in Minnesota or Kentucky or Maryland may be drinking a bit of California’s precious commodity. Mother Jones reported that at least four major bottled water companies—Aquafina, Dasani, Crystal Geyser and Arrowhead—use water from California, either ground (spring) water or tap water. Aquafina and Dasani both bottle and sell treated tap water, while Crystal Geyser and Arrowhead use spring water.

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Thumbnail image for GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Neel Kashkari’s Workers’ Paradise: North Dakota

GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Neel Kashkari’s Workers’ Paradise: North Dakota

by Doug Porter 08.11.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

I attended Voice of San Diego’s Politifest on Saturday, held at Liberty Station. It was a gorgeous San Diego morning for what was dubbed a ‘civic festival.’ Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins were invited to strut their stuff.

Politifest is in the tradition of the days when grand public rallies were held to support candidates and causes–with a little bit of the 60’s teach-in thrown in for good measure. The main difference is that this annual event doesn’t have a cause beyond civic involvement. 

There weren’t a whole lot of people there–once you accounted for all those participating in some fashion–but those that did attend were the kind of people who take their policy seriously. Alternately it could be called it Wonkfest; or Politicon (with craft beer! and food trucks!). The nerd in me was glad they do this.

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Thumbnail image for Naomi Klein: ‘Our Economic Model Is at War with Life on Earth’

Naomi Klein: ‘Our Economic Model Is at War with Life on Earth’

by Source 08.11.2014 Books & Poetry

New video trailer previews thesis of anticipated new book by Canadian writer and activist

By Jon Queally / Common Dreams

The book’s title is not elusive: ‘This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate

Due for release in September, the anticipated new work by Canadian journalist, activist and public intellectual Naomi Klein has now been previewed in a video trailer that appears to lay out its main themes and central argument.

“In December of 2012, a complex systems scientists walked up to the podium at the American Geophysics Union to present a paper,” the narrator of the video—Klein herself—says as footage begins of urban high rise developments and burnt out croplands.

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What Could Have Been

by Source 08.09.2014 Culture

By Lucas O’Connor

FaulconerOn Friday, Kevin Faulconer made his position official and vetoed the City Council’s increase of the city’s minimum wage. We know Faulconer has long been fundamentally opposed to wage protections that strive to keep people out of poverty, likewise the big-money orgs who paid the way for his campaign. So while the move is hardly a surprise, it’s nevertheless bizarre.

The good folks who worked on Faulconer’s mayoral campaign have been remarkably open about their core strategy of manufacturing an image of Faulconer as a moderate in order to win. Since taking office, that approach has generally continued. This stripped-down compromise on minimum wage could have been the last step in that process, and everyone could have gone to happy hour 20 months early. But here we are. Why?

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Thumbnail image for Helping Young People Who See the World through Frosted Windows

Helping Young People Who See the World through Frosted Windows

by Ernie McCray 08.07.2014 Activism

By Ernie McCray

I just finished watching a Turner Classic Movie, “Scandal at Scourie,” that featured two of my favorite all-time movie actors, Walter Pidgeon and Greer Garson, playing a couple who adopted a foster child. In one scene a bully, a boy, says to the adopted child, a girl, “You have no mother and you have no father. You’re nothing but a…” The last words are lost in a flurry of commotion.

As I watched I thought how timely the movie was for me since my plan for the day was to write about a program my son and others are creating to help empower low-income young adults and former foster youth, ages 18-24, to become more self sufficient. As it is, they spend their young lives pretty much seeing the world as though they’re observing it through a frosted window. All is blurry. Focusing on anything that might be of value to them in the future is often nearly impossible.

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Thumbnail image for The Anti Minimum Wage Hired Guns Coming to Town

The Anti Minimum Wage Hired Guns Coming to Town

by Doug Porter 08.06.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Sources close to Raise Up San Diego are telling us the company collecting signatures for the Slave Wage Jobs Coalition will be National Petition Management(NPM).

Today we’ll take a look at what they’ve accomplished in recent years, and why you might want to wash your hands after engaging one of their ‘contract employees’ asking for signatures to overturn San Diego’s minimum wage and paid sick days ordinance.

NPM and their likely local affiliate, Victory Consultants, Inc will start deploying signature gatherers at suburban malls shortly after the city council over rides Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s veto later this month. They’ll have 30 days to collect 34,000 or so signatures. Meeting that threshold will suspend the new minimum wage and earned sick days ordinance until after the June 2016 election.

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Thumbnail image for Who Runs San Diego?– Douglas Manchester and U-T San Diego

Who Runs San Diego?– Douglas Manchester and U-T San Diego

by Eva Posner 08.06.2014 Business

By Eva Posner / Democratic Woman’s Club

U-T San Diego, formerly the San Diego Union-Tribune, is the largest daily newspaper in the region. According to the U-T advertising rate book, U-T San Diego reaches 29.9% of the adult population of San Diego during the week, and 41.2% on Sundays. U-T San Diego.com receives 29.5 million page views per month.

The U-T Community Press, which consists of 8 newspapers that formerly brought communities hyper local and independent news but where bought by the U-T’s owner Doug Manchester, has a weekly readership of 221,905. One of those newspapers is the North County Times, which was the U-T’s biggest competitor.

Even assuming these numbers are inflated to sell ads, it is obvious that the management/ownership have incredible influence over the information taken in by a large portion of the population of San Diego County and the surrounding region.

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Thumbnail image for Beware of Wall Street Schemes on Redevelopment

Beware of Wall Street Schemes on Redevelopment

by Source 08.04.2014 Business

By Murtaza H. Baxamusa, Ph.D., AICP /San Diego UrbDeZine

With the demise of redevelopment in California, some cities are looking for creative ways to stay solvent. One idea is to leverage New Market Tax Credits (NMTC) to buy properties and become landlords. This acquisition fund concept was recently adopted by Civic San Diego (CivicSD), a nonprofit corporation that is a consultant to the city of San Diego on the wind-down of redevelopment.

I am supportive of finding new ways to fund redevelopment that are proper and legal. However, absent clear community benefits standards, I am not sure if the public interest will be served by a property acquisition-income fund. There are several reasons to be wary of funding schemes guised as redevelopment.

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Thumbnail image for ‘Poor For a Week’ – Neel Kashkari’s Trickle Down Game Show

‘Poor For a Week’ – Neel Kashkari’s Trickle Down Game Show

by Doug Porter 08.01.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

The forerunner of today’s reality TV programming was a program called ‘Queen for a Day.’ Starting out as a radio program, it made the jump to black and white TV in 1948, staying on air until 1964.

Women selected from the studio audience were ushered to the stage and urged to tell tales of woe, which were rated by the audience using an “applause meter.” The winner was crowned, showered with sponsor-provided prizes and expected to cry profusely. ‘Queen’ was a ratings monster in its day.

California GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari, whose running-on-empty campaign is desperate for attention, is hoping his latest campaign stunt –’Poor for a Week’– will resonate with voters.

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San Diego’s P100 Program Targets the Poor and Vulnerable While Letting the Rich and Powerful Off the Hook

by John Lawrence 07.29.2014 Culture

By John Lawrence

black-mom-3-kids-250x250[1]Since 1997, San Diego County has required all families applying for California’s version of welfare called CalWORKs to submit to warrantless, suspicionless, unannounced home searches and interrogations by District Attorney investigators.

As of June 2013 about 150,000 families, or about 9,300 families each year, have been subject to these searches. This policy, called Project 100% or P100, diverts money away from the poor and has not been shown to be effective at detecting or preventing fraud.

San Diego is the only place in the whole nation which has such an intrusive, untargeted policy making it America’s finest city – NOT – for the poor and vulnerable. These searches are a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution which forbids “unreasonable searches” of peoples’ homes.

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Thumbnail image for PPIC Poll: 51 Percent of Likely Voters Would Back $11.1 Billion Water Bond

PPIC Poll: 51 Percent of Likely Voters Would Back $11.1 Billion Water Bond

by Source 07.26.2014 Economy

By Dan Bacher

The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) has just released the results of a statewide survey revealing that a “slim majority” of likely voters, 51 percent, would support the $11.1 billion water bond.

The survey, “Californians and the Environment,” also indicated that support for a lower bond amount is slightly higher. The bond has been postponed twice so far, first in 2010 and then in 2012, because lack of voter support.

The poll was published as California Legislature continues to discuss downsizing a controversial $11.1 billion state bond for water projects that is currently on the November ballot. The measure was authorized by the water policy/water bond package of 2009 that creates a clear path to the construction of the twin tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

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Thumbnail image for Pulling Back the Curtain of Production Concealment

Pulling Back the Curtain of Production Concealment

by Source 07.26.2014 Business

By Erik Loomis / Lawyers, Guns & Money

Concealment.

This is primary benefit of outsourcing work and supplies from the United States. That goods are produced far, far away from the eyes of consumers benefits the corporations tremendously.

It means that when the Rana Plaza factory in Savar, Bangladesh collapses, no Americans see the deaths that result from a system that provides them cheap clothing at Wal-Mart, Gap, and other retailers. That’s very different from the Triangle Fire, when New Yorkers were outraged when they personally saw the deaths of the women who made their clothing. They acted and conditions in the textile factories improved.

Today, most of us have absolutely no idea what the conditions of work are in the places that make our clothing, that grow our food, that produce our paint and glass and steel and auto parts. That’s exactly how companies want it. …

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Left Behind

by Source 07.22.2014 Activism

How LGBT Young People Are Excluded from Economic Prosperity

By Zenen Jaimes Pérez / Center for American Progress

The Millennial generation—the cohort of young people born in the early 1980s through the early 2000s—reflects the greatest level of generational diversity in U.S. history. More than at any other time, America’s young people are redefining the role of the workplace as a space in which workers from all types of diverse backgrounds come together.

This is particularly true of this generation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, people. While their experiences may vary based on where in the country they live, LGBT Millennials have an especially unique workplace experience relative to older generations of LGBT people, given that they are, on the whole, coming out earlier and expressing their gender identities and sexual orientations in all facets of their lives, including on the job.

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Thumbnail image for Economic Lynching

Economic Lynching

by Source 07.18.2014 Culture

By Paul Buchheit / Common Dreams

On October 26, 1934 Claude Neal, a black man accused of murdering a young white woman in Jackson County, Florida, was dragged from his jail cell to be lynched. The event was rushed into the afternoon newspapers. When an unruly crowd of several thousand people gathered for the spectacle, the six men in the lynching party got nervous and decided to drive Neal to a secluded spot in the woods. There they tortured him in ways that seem impossible for a human being to imagine.

America can rightfully feel better about itself now, having gone beyond such detestable acts of savagery against fellow human beings. But the assault on people deemed inferior continues in another way. Instead of a single shocking act of physical brutality, it is a less visible means of drawn-out terror that destroys dignity and livelihood and slowly breaks down the body. So insidious is this modern form of economic subjugation that many whites barely seem to notice people of color being dragged to the bottom of one of the most unequal societies in the history of the world.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego Becomes Largest US City to Pass Minimum Wage Hike and Earned Sick Days Policy

San Diego Becomes Largest US City to Pass Minimum Wage Hike and Earned Sick Days Policy

by Doug Porter 07.15.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Supporters of a hike in local minimum wages left nothing to chance yesterday as a city council decision on a proposal by Todd Gloria neared. Over 400 hundred people showed up at city hall for a 6pm hearing, filling the council chambers and two overflow rooms. Many wore pink signs indicating their support.

Email and social media reminders abounded during the day, including a mid-day Raise Up San Diego-led “Twitterstorm.” More than 100 people testified before the council. Highlights included former basketball star Bill Walton standing up in favor of the measure and United Foodservice and Commercial Workers’ Mickey Kasparian giving an impassioned speech.

In the end, the City Council did the right thing, voting 6-3 to enact by ordinance a minimum wage hike, with raises in three stages effective January, 2015. This means the measure will not be placed before the voters in November.

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Thumbnail image for Does the Federal Reserve Print Money?

Does the Federal Reserve Print Money?

by John Lawrence 07.15.2014 Economy

The Federal Reserve is America’s Central Bank

By John Lawrence

The Fed doesn’t actually “print” money in the sense of ink on paper hundred dollar bills. But what it can do is create money with a few keystrokes on a computer.

Money so created is called “fiat money” since it’s not backed by gold or anything else. The Fed currently prints the money to purchase $40 billion in mortgage backed securities and $45 billion in government bonds each month. The rationale for doing this is that it keeps interest rates low which is thought to be necessary to keep the economy humming.

Before the financial crisis of 2008-09, the Fed managed to keep interest rates low by adjusting the interest rate at which banks borrow overnight. But after the financial crisis, the Fed needed a more robust policy which is called Quantitative Easing or QE. This policy is mainly a giveaway to the big Wall Street banks to augment their reserves. The lack of sufficient reserves is thought to have been the problem that caused the financial crisis.

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Where’s the Public Outrage About Big Money in Politics?

by Source 07.15.2014 Economy

200 people currently contribute 85% of all the money put into Super PACS. We should be furious about that.

By Mike Papantonio / Alternet

corp-money-cycle-1024x759As a country born from revolution, America knows a lot about outrage. Outrage over unfair treatment led our founders to declare independence. Anti-federalist outrage over Constitutional shortcomings led to the enshrinement of our fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights.

In fact, in a functioning democracy, there are few things that get more done than outrage. A government by the people, of the people, for the people should be responsive to the people, after all, and outrage is the most vocal manifestation of the people’s will. That outrage comes into play politically at the ballot box, either because it inspires voters to get out and vote or motivates politicians to act so they don’t wind up on the wrong side of election day.

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Thumbnail image for What Kind of City Are We? It’s Time to Raise the Minimum Wage

What Kind of City Are We? It’s Time to Raise the Minimum Wage

by Jim Miller 07.14.2014 Business

“The bottom line is that the minimum wage in 2013 is far less now than it was in 1968 despite the economy’s productivity more than doubling, and low-wage workers attaining far more education.”Economic Policy Institute

By Jim Miller

The San Diego City Council will consider today whether to pass an ordinance or put forth a ballot measure to increase the city’s minimum wage and provide earned sick days for local workers. Since the last time I wrote on this subject in late April, the original proposal of raising the minimum wage to the local Self-Sufficiency Standard of $13.09 with five earned sick days has been significantly lowered in order to address the concerns of opponents.

The current proposal keeps the initial five earned sick days but now only raises the minimum wage to $9.75 in 2015 and $10.50 in 2016 before stopping at $11.50 in 2017 and indexing it to inflation after January of 2019.

Thus, despite the fact that the original proposal fell short of the landmark $15 an hour passed in Seattle and being fought for elsewhere around the country, the City Council still bent over backwards to appease the fears of those clamoring that any increase in the minimum wage would spell disaster for small businesses and the local economy. And they did this even though the preponderance of evidence shows that minimum wage increases elsewhere have actually helped the economy.

The response to this compromise from the Chamber of Commerce and company was to essentially flip the Council the bird and reaffirm their opposition to any measure that moves beyond the state’s minimum wage.

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Thumbnail image for Advertising: Are You Buying It?

Advertising: Are You Buying It?

by Source 07.12.2014 Business

Here’s an inescapable reality: There are only two ways to be rich – make more or want less. This is known as “Rimo’s Rule,” though that’s beside the point.

Rather, the point here is to recognize, in our consumer-based, advertising-saturated society, how very hard it is to want less materially yet why we must do so anyway. While it’s intuitive that most people – both the “99 percent” and the “1 percent” – could achieve greater contentment in life by better appreciating the non-material and material riches they already have, there are far-reaching, global consequences of which path to richness a society as a whole chooses.

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Thumbnail image for Poor People Aren’t Lazy, They’re Poor

Poor People Aren’t Lazy, They’re Poor

by Source 07.09.2014 Business

by Marlana Eck / The Lehigh Valley Vanguard

Poor people are just lazy.”
“In life you just have to pull yourself up by your boot straps.”
“This is America! Everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.”

These are only a few of the myopic stereotypes people have of the poor.

For those who use the phrase without knowing what it means, pulling oneself up by their “boot straps” does not actually mean “you have to take care of yourself” or “you just have to dust yourself off.” It is a 19th century turn of phrase meaning: you must attempt an absurdly impossible action. That is indeed what poor people have to do to survive in the world.

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Thumbnail image for What’s the Role of Race in the New Economy Movement?

What’s the Role of Race in the New Economy Movement?

by Source 07.09.2014 Activism

by Penn Loh / Yes!

There has been a growing buzz about what kind of economy we need in order to address wealth inequality, environmental unsustainability, and lack of democracy. Clearly, many desire something new and dramatically different.

Perhaps this buzz around what many supporters call a “New Economy” will grow into a powerful social movement—one that we desperately need to transform the current economy. But whether it does so or not will depend critically on its color (or lack thereof).

Fortunately, we don’t have to look hard to find examples of communities of color both now and in the past that have advanced economic principles of fairness, sustainability, and democracy.

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