Trans Pacific Trickle-Down Economics

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By Robert Reich / RobertReich.org

Have we learned nothing from thirty years of failed trickle-down economics?

By now we should know that when big corporations, Wall Street, and the wealthy get special goodies, the rest of us get shafted.

The Reagan and George W. Bush tax cuts of 1981, 2001, and 2003, respectively, were sold to America as ways to boost the economy and create jobs.

They ended up boosting the take-home pay of those at the top. Most Americans saw no gains. 
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It’s the Neoliberalism, Stupid

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You can’t decry the social problems of Baltimore while politically promoting the very kind of trade policy that helped cause them…

Last week when the Baltimore Orioles played a game without fans in Camden Yard, there was much media coverage marking how the surreal event was unprecedented in American sports.

Perhaps, but it was not completely without precedent globally as the 1987 soccer match played to an empty stadium in Madrid, Spain came before it.

On the occasion of that strange contest, French social theorist Jean Baudrillard observed that “thousands of fans besieged the stadium but no one got in” and that this punishment of unruly soccer fans did much to “exemplify the terroristic hyperrealism of our world, a world where the ‘real’ event occurs in a vacuum, stripped of its context, visible only from afar, televisually.” 
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A Rough Ride in Baltimore Leads to Charges Against Police

gray homicide

By Doug Porter

Six Baltimore police officers now face charges following a medical examiner’s ruling calling 25-year-old Freddie Gray’s death on April 12th a homicide.

States Attorney Marilyn Mosby told the press Gray died of a severe and critical neck injury suffered while handcuffed, shackled by his feet and left unsecured inside a police van as it took 38 minutes to deliver him to a police station just two minutes away.

Mosby went on to say Gray was “illegally arrested,” that police failed to establish probable cause for his arrest, and the knife he had when arrested was legal and was not a switchblade. 
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Senator Sanders is Running for President. Now Can We Get Past What Hillary Clinton Wore Last Night?

By Doug Porter

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will be running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, according to stories on Vermont Public Radio and in major media outlets around the country.

Sen. Sanders’ outspoken and honest nature should be a game-changer for what was shaping up to be dull primary season for Democrats. His presence in the race means we should see more than token discussions about the economic issues facing the country.  And, best of all, he’s not afraid of offending the billionaire bankers at the top of the heap.

Party regulars inclined to dismiss his candidacy because of the inevitability of a Clinton victory would do well to reconsider their stance. Just ask the Democratic party in Burlington, Vermont, which led a tea party-style obstructionist revolt after Sanders was elected Mayor in 1981. 
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Community Budget Alliance Letter to Civic San Diego on Community Benefit Policy

Editor Note: The Civic San Diego Board of Directors is meeting today, April 29 at 1 pm to discuss adoption of their Community Benefit Policy (Item 8). You can read that policy here. The Community Budget Alliance supports a more concrete and comprehensive policy to address and protect the concerns of city of San Diego residents. A comparison chart of both policies is included at the end of their letter.

Dear Civic San Diego Board Members,

In light of the dissolution of the redevelopment agencies, the City of San Diego has a responsibility to establish clear policies and standards for publicly subsidized community economic development. In October 2014, the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods committee directed Civic San Diego to conduct a community outreach process. The goal of that process was to gather public feedback about what should go into a Community Benefits Policy for community economic development and to bring back recommendations for a policy in March 2015.

The Community Budget Alliance expressed concerns that the outreach process was not broad, robust or inclusive and shared these concerns with members of the City Council. 
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Civic San Diego: The Kiss of Death for San Diego Neighborhoods

By Norma Damashek

The city of San Diego has first-class universities, first-class biotech companies, first-class ethnic restaurants, first-class theater, first-class engineers, artists, and musicians. Also: Our city has first-class standing as a prototype of community-based planning.

Who would have guessed that during the heady years of the 1960s while the Pump House kids were tripping the waves fantastic at Windansea Beach, other San Diegans – more firmly-grounded and civic-minded – were partnering with City Hall as official members of newly-created community planning groups. The La Jolla community plan was the city’s first. Then the Peninsula plan. Soon came the others.

Half a century later there are more than 40 recognized community planning groups throughout the city, where locally-elected members meet monthly to opine on neighborhood land-use issues, community goals, and proposed real estate development and relay their advice and recommendations to city officials. 
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Fined by China, Qualcomm Losing Chip Business as CEO Departs

Qualcomm Sucks Up To China

By John Lawrence

Qualcomm has been fined almost a billion dollars by China for violating its anti-monopoly law. China has the world’s most internet users and the largest smartphone market so Qualcomm has to tread gingerly with the authorities there since it doesn’t want to be booted out of the world’s most lucrative market. The fine will knock 58 cents a share off Qualcomm’s earnings for the year. Qualcomm CEO Steven M. Mollenkopf thinks paying the fine will make Qualcomm better positioned to cash in in the future.

This could be another front in the brewing economic conflicts between China and the US. To sweeten the pot Qualcomm has offered China deep discounts on licensing its patents for certain systems and agreed to partner with Chinese companies. But all this could be construed as a bribe in order to get access to the Chinese market. 
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Is San Diego Up for the Challenge of Marrying Environmental and Economic Justice?

“A beautifully sustainable city that is the playground of the rich doesn’t work for us.”

By Jim Miller

Some of the best political news in America in quite a while happened last week in New York City. While much of the country is still under the sway of the climate-change denying right and thus fiddling while the world burns, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio came out with precisely the kind of bold, visionary plan that we need to address not just the existential threat of climate change but the equally pressing and dangerous trend toward deepening economic inequality.

Indeed, taking a page out of Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, de Blasio made the interrelated nature of the two great crises of our age clear when outlining his “One New York: The Plan for a Just and Strong City” as he asserted that, “I believe fundamentally that you can’t have environmental sustainability without economic sustainability.” 
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How Communities Can Benefit from Private Development in California

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

There is a building boom across California, but many communities have been historically left behind. Property tax increment has served as a planning and investment tool to provide public benefits such as affordable housing, good jobs and neighborhood amenities.

However, with the end of redevelopment, cash-poor cities across California are exploring innovative strategies to fund public benefits. One such strategy is to partner with developers for community benefits in exchange for planning and development rights.

The poster-child for the interaction between people and projects is South San Francisco, with the region having the most expensive rents in the nation, where a household needs to make $37 an hour wage to be able to afford a 2-bedroom apartment. 
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The Anti-Surveillance State: Clothes and Gadgets Block Face Recognition Technology, Confuse Drones and Make You (Digitally) Invisible

An entire industry is dedicated to getting your privacy back

By Janet Burns / AlterNet

Last spring, designer Adam Harvey hosted a session on hair and makeup techniques for attendees of the 2015 FutureEverything Festival in Manchester, England. Rather than sharing innovative ways to bring out the audience’s eyes, Harvey’s CV Dazzle Anon introduced a series of styling methods designed with almost the exact opposite aim of traditional beauty tricks: to turn your face into an anti-face—one that cameras, particularly those of the surveillance variety, will not only fail to love, but fail to recognize.

Harvey is one of a growing number of privacy-focused designers and developers “exploring new opportunities that are the result of [heightened] surveillance,” and working to establish lines of defense against it. He’s spent the past several years experimenting with strategies for putting control over people’s privacy back in their own hands, in their pockets and on their faces. 
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Public Banking Advocate Ellen Brown Speaks at San Diego State

By John Lawrence

On Thursday April 16, there was a panel discussion at San Diego State with the title: Crisis in American Democracy: Answers Beyond the Two Party System.

There were three people on the panel representing three political parties. The Socialist Equality Party was represented by Mr. John Burton. Dr. Matt Zwolinski spoke for the Libertarians, and the Green Party was represented by Dr. Ellen Brown.

The promo said: “The content of the event will be a debate about their solutions to the problems facing American Democracy today.” The event allowed 15 minutes per person for initial discussion. After the initial discussion, the event was open for public comment and questions. Then there was time for closing statements and rebuttals from each speaker. 
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How the New Flexible Economy is Making Workers’ Lives Hell

By Robert Reich

These days it’s not unusual for someone on the way to work to receive a text message from her employer saying she’s not needed right then.

Although she’s already found someone to pick up her kid from school and arranged for childcare, the work is no longer available and she won’t be paid for it.

Just-in-time scheduling like this is the latest new thing, designed to make retail outlets, restaurants, hotels, and other customer-driven businesses more nimble and keep costs to a minimum.

Software can now predict up-to-the-minute staffing needs on the basis of information such as traffic patterns, weather, and sales merely hours or possibly minutes before.

This way, employers don’t need to pay anyone to be at work unless they’re really needed. Companies can avoid paying wages to workers who’d otherwise just sit around. 
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Mission Valley Watch

Editor: This is the launch of what we hope is a regular report in the San Diego Free Press, via our online media partner, the OB Rag.

Somebody needs to be watching Mission Valley – the long congested corridor that is literally the heart of San Diego. And certainly, it’s not the City of San Diego that is watching Mission Valley – or rather watching out for it. And certainly, it’s not the major mainstream media in this town either that are watching Mission Valley – with one HUGE exception: the nearly-exclusive and obsessive focus on the Qualcomm Stadium site.

Yet Mission Valley certainly does need to be watched because the construction projects that are being built and are in the pipeline to being built in the next few years will quite double – or even triple – the current population of the Valley of 20,000 San Diegans. The projects will double the number of housing units that are already there.

The problem with this is that there isn’t even the public infrastructure now that is required to serve the thousands of current Mission Valley residents, much less the needs of (and this is a conservative estimate) a future populace that has undergone growth of one hundred percent. The projects planned and even approved will further destroy what remains of the once, lush green valley that in earlier days, held the promise of becoming the Central Park or the Golden Gate Park of San Diego. 
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Green Capitalism: A Contradiction in Terms?

Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 6

By John Lawrence – This is the sixth and final part of this series. Part 5 can be found here.

Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate, debunks the idea that all we have to do is to cooperate with the extractive industries and urge them to get greener. We do not have to go to extremes, but can phase in renewable sources of energy gradually. The gradualist approach is the essence of green capitalism. This will not work Klein says:

[The] bottom line is … our economic system and our planetary system are now at war. Or, more accurately, our economy is at war with many forms of life on earth, including human life. What the climate needs to avoid collapse is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands to avoid collapse is unfettered expansion. Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature. 
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Civic San Diego Public Records Request Filled with Redactions and Few Revelations

An open letter to the Civic San Diego Board of Directors about New Market Tax Credit application

By Anna Daniels

What’s going on at Civic San Diego, the non-profit entity that has become the new model for redevelopment? On April 10, a legal complaint was filed by the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and Dr. Murtaza Baxamusa, a CivicSD Boardmember. It was made available in its entirety at the San Diego Free Press.

On April 16 the Voice of San Diego published an opinion piece “Time to Shine a Harsh Spotlight on Civic San Diego” by former City Councilmember and current open government advocate Donna Frye. Frye refers in her article to the under- reported resignations of Cynthia Morgan, Civic’s Treasurer and CFO/COO Andrew Phillips. “I’m not sure what prompted the resignations of Phillips and Morgan, but it can’t be a good sign. It will be interesting to see who the mayor appoints, and the City Council confirms, to fill the vacancy left by Morgan, and who the new CFO/COO will be and how quickly that happens.”

On April 10 I sent an email to Jeff Gattas, chairman of the board of CivicSD, detailing my own concerns about the information that I had received from a public records request. 
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Super Sized #Fightfor15 Protests, Value Meal Press Coverage

By Doug Porter 

I spent most of yesterday traveling around San Diego with roughly three dozen fast food workers. The local version of the nationwide Fight for 15 movement made a statement at ten locations around town, taking to the streets both in North Park and downtown. 

The mostly brown and black workers on the bus were those who’d committed to taking a day off from work (there were others that came and went) to let the world know they wanted a better life. Two were older, having spent more than two decades in the business. Some had families to support. Some brought their kids along. Others were trying to go to community college on a fast food paycheck. All of them believed they could make a difference, even if they were just paying it forward. 

Many of these strikers shared their personal stories with TV and radio station reporters along the way. Some spoke up at the rally capping off the day. But the real story was the amazing level of grit and determination. There was a strong consciousness of this day being about larger issues motivating them as much if not more than their own personal dilemmas.  
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Legal Complaint Filed against Civic San Diego in San Diego Superior Court

Plaintiffs seek community benefits and oversight of public funds

Editor Note: SDFP readers have requested more information about the legal complaint filed by the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council and Dr. Murtaza Baxamusa, a CivicSD Boardmember. We are providing their news release and a link to the complete filing below without analysis at this time.

The Petitioners are requesting legal declarations from the Superior Court which clarify the duties and responsibilities between the City of San Diego and CivicSD in regard to economic and community development. The legal complaint also seeks by its lawsuit to create public transparency over public-private development, safeguard taxpayers with oversight of public resources, and establish a baseline of community benefits for development derived from public resources. 
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On Equal Pay Day (and Every Other Day) Trickle-Down Continues to Fail

By Doug Porter

The second Tuesday in April marks the observance of Equal Pay Day. This calendar date hypothetically represents the length of time past New Years’ Day many women must work at the same job in order to match what men make in a year.

The day is a symbolic means of illustrating the differences in pay existing throughout the economy based on gender, despite legislative actions aimed a rectifying the problem dating back to 1869.  The National Committee on Pay Equity offers up a variety of programs for addressing inequities tied to gender.

This pay gap is one important part of a much larger picture of discrimination and inequality rampant in the Millennial Gilded Age. 
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Buy Now Pay Later: How San Diego School Districts Were Hoodwinked by Wall Street

By John Lawrence

In 2009 then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law AB 1388 which eliminated prudent controls over how much debt school districts could enter into. Wall Street bankers then swarmed all over the state promoting Capital Appreciation Bonds (CABs), the equivalent of payday loans for school districts.

One fantastic advantage of these loans was the “buy now, pay later” aspect. School districts could get their money now and not have to raise taxes on current residents. Easy money. There would not have to be any payments made for 20 years. Current residents would be off the hook. But their children and grandchildren would enter an era of crushing debt when the bill became due.

And Wall Street is patient, very patient.
 
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Teachers and Students Fight for 15

By Jim Miller

Last February, in the lead up to the National Adjunct Day of Action, I noted in this column that, “most colleges in America run on the backs of adjunct instructors who don’t receive the same pay for the same work as do the shrinking pool of full-time faculty” and that the “Exploitation of contingent labor is not just a problem for employees at Starbucks, Walmart, and fast food chains where workers are fighting for $15 an hour; it is an epidemic in the academy as well.”

During that day of protest, Fight for 15 organizers stood with us and this week, on 4/15 at 4 PM at Scripps Cottage on San Diego State University’s campus, we will stand with them as teachers and students from across the city will come together with workers, community activists, people of faith, and others to call for basic fairness and economic justice for all working people.

In doing so we will be joining a movement that has taken root across the county. 
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Playing Russian Roulette With California’s Water Supply

By Doug Porter

The intensity of the Blame Game is ratcheting up as California reels from the impact of a multi-year drought and the outline of a statewide plan to deal with it emerges. Today we’ll wander through some of the news coverage from around the state, ending up with ideas under discussion that go beyond the current planning.

Draft rules by the State Water Resources Board released on Tuesday place the heaviest conservation burden on cities and towns with the highest rates of per-capita water consumption. The San Diego County Water Authority says these rules are unfair to areas that have already instituted policies aimed at reducing use and increasing supplies.

As things stand now, State water officials will announce specific conservation regulations May 5th, and with implementation set for June 1st. Local agencies supplied by the Water Authority would have to cut back 20% to 35% percent under the proposed restrictions. 
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Fast Tracking the Trans Pacific Partnership: An Offer Congress Ought to Refuse

By Doug Porter

Over the next few weeks there will be a barrage of opinion on a complicated subject: the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a deal in the making between pacific rim nations effectively setting the ground rules for most international trade in the 21st century.

Please, don’t let your eyes glaze over. This is important. Congress is about to be asked to grant the executive branch the authority to present the final version of this agreement on a take it or leave it basis. I believe this deal rewards corporate greed and ignores its role in creating inequality.

Today I’ll try my best to present a primer on the battle already underway. There will be international, national and local events concerning the TPP in the coming days. Your personal economic future is what’s at stake. 
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Californians Won’t Take the Drought Seriously Until Government Takes the Drought Seriously With These 5 Measures

Californians want immediate action from their government

The citizens of California will not take the drought seriously until they see that their government is taking the drought seriously. Until government at all levels – from the state to the smallest township – shows Californians that it is enacting measures to immediately deal with the drought – now in its 4th year – people in this state won’t face up to the drought themselves.

And until government enacts these 5 measures – at a minimum – , government is not taking the drought seriously:

1. Ban All Fracking

California must ban all fracking immediately – the process by which oil companies use to extract oil.  
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Imagine a Coalition Unifying Black Lives Matter, LGBT Equality, and the Fight for a Living Wage.

By Ian Reifowitz / Daily Kos

Silos are dangerous. I’m not talking about the kind that house nuclear missiles, but rather the metaphorical kind, the kind that divide people who could and should be working together toward a shared goal. Too often, progressives have found themselves divided into these kinds of silos, for example, with women—themselves typically divided by race and ethnicity—fighting for gender equality, LGBT folks fighting for gay rights, unions and workers fighting for labor rights, and on and on.To some degree, these divisions are understandable. Part of the way a marginalized group empowers itself is by creating a movement in which its members play a predominant role.

At the end of the day, however, the goal of a political movement ought not to be solely or even primarily to help those who actively participate to feel empowered—as important as that is— but rather to achieve specific policy or other concrete aims that improve the lives of all those whom the movement represents. The movement must be a means to an end, not an end unto itself. Achieving those ends requires marshaling as much support as possible, and that means each group must break out of its silo and support one another’s causes. 
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California’s Drought of Ideas: Why Jerry Brown’s Executive Order Misses the Mark

By Jim Miller

California’s epic drought has finally made its way to the front page. Last week, Jerry Brown signed an executive order mandating the first-ever water restrictions in our state.

At the press conference announcing the move Brown observed that, “People should realize we are in a new era. The idea of your nice little green lawn getting watered every day, those days are past.”

However much one might agree with that statement, it must be said that the Governor’s order does not do nearly enough to go after agribusiness and big oil as many have been calling for leading up to Brown’s move. Adam Scow of Food and Water Watch put it succinctly, “In the midst of a severe drought, the governor continues to allow corporate farms and oil interests to deplete and pollute our precious groundwater resources that are crucial for saving water.” 
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