Effective Altruism: Is It Up To Rich People To Save the World?


By John Lawrence

Peter Singer has written a book The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically (Yale University Press, 2015). Singer has been called “the world’s greatest living philosopher” and is currently a Professor at Princeton so we must take his work seriously. Yet I’m bothered by the implications of his work as condensed in an essay: How You Can Do the Most Good: It’s Not as Simple as You Think.

He tells about one of his students who, though caring to extreme about the plight of poor people in the world, nevertheless, chose to go to work on Wall Street when he graduated. His reasoning was that he could help the most poverty stricken by dedicating a large amount of his considerable salary to helping them rather than going to work as a volunteer working directly with them in Africa, for instance.

A huge amount of money contributed to the right charities would alleviate the conditions of more people than would be helped by a person of meager resources who devoted his working efforts to their cause.   [Read more…]

A Defining Issue for the 2016 Elections Will Be the Trans Pacific Pact (TPP)


By Doug Porter

The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations have agreed to the largest regional trade accord in history, one promising to set international commerce standards affecting 40% percent of the world’s economy.

The deal culminates years of negotiations setting up mechanics for a global economy as the basis for future prosperity. These negotiations never involved questioning the premise of neo-liberal policies as the foundation for economic development in the years ahead. In a nutshell, this means “marketplace” will be the final arbiter in the global economy.

The rules of the economic game, as laid out in previous trade-pacts, are seen by the left as driving forces in the widening of economic inequality. This, along with parochial and nationalist concerns on the right, sets up the Trans Pacific Pact (TPP) as a defining political battle as the US heads into an election year.   [Read more…]

As Secret Trade Talks Reveal Cracks, Demonstrators Aim Death Blows at TPP

stop tpp banner

Pacific trade deal opponents hope that if Atlanta round fails, pro-corporate TPP could be knocked off track indefinitely

By Deidre Fulton / CommonDreams

As trade ministers from around the world continued meeting in Atlanta on Thursday for final-stretch negotiations on the corporate-friendly Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), civil society groups demonstrated on the streets in a final salvo against a deal they describe as “a wholesale auction of our rights, our freedoms, and our democracy to multinational corporations who put profits over people.”

“They’re getting close, but we can stop them,” reads the Citizens Trade Campaign’s call-to-action. “If we do, and the Atlanta round fails, many believe the TPP could be knocked off track indefinitely.”   [Read more…]

SANDAG’s Gary Gallegos: ‘Transit is not going to work for every person in the region’

Gary Gallegos

By Sam Ollinger / BikeSD

“We are not going to put everybody on a bike, we are not going to take everybody out of their car, transit is not going to work for every person in the region.” – Gary Gallegos, executive director of SANDAG, San Diego’s Metropolitan Planning Organization. January 8, 2014.

“the SANDAG plan is to spend more than half the $204 billion on mass transit, adding five new Trolley lines, 32 new rapid bus lines and 275 miles of new bikeways, as well as 160 miles of freeway lanes intended to help transit and encourage carpools and van pools. The net effect would be to reduce county greenhouse gas emissions by considerably more than state targets.” – UT Editorial Board

I don’t know what sort of drugs the UT Editorial Board is consuming, because if they bothered to read SANDAG’s own analysis they would have seen that implementing the existing Regional Transportation Plan (scheduled for a SANDAG board vote on October 9th) in its current form is going to increase the region’s greenhouse gas emissions.   [Read more…]

University Contract Workers Wages –Or Lack Thereof– in the Crosshairs


By Doug Porter

Today (Oct 1), some contract employees working on University of California facilities will be seeing a pay hike to $13 an hour. The university system is California’s third largest employer and the largest employer in San Diego.

Earlier this year UC President Janet Napolitano announced a plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over a three-year roll-out for all workers, including contract ones, and today’s bump is just the first stage.  

Or maybe they won’t be seeing that raise. The Los Angeles Times reports the Department of Labor has launched an investigation into long-time contractor Performance First Building Services failure to pay overtime to workers cleaning up after sporting events at UC Berkeley.   [Read more…]

Why We Must End Upward Pre-Distribution to the Rich

sdfp income-inequality

By Robert Reich / RobertReich.Org

You often hear inequality has widened because globalization and technological change have made most people less competitive, while making the best educated more competitive.

There’s some truth to this. The tasks most people used to do can now be done more cheaply by lower-paid workers abroad or by computer-driven machines.

But this common explanation overlooks a critically important phenomenon: the increasing concentration of political power in a corporate and financial elite that has been able to influence the rules by which the economy runs.   [Read more…]

Congressional Values: “Zippidy do-da, zippidy day.”


By Doug Porter

Speaker of the House John Boehner was singing the classic Disney ditty as he walked in for a Friday morning press conference where he shocked just about everybody by announcing his resignation.

While Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is considered a probable successor to Boehner as Speaker, it’s worthwhile to look at the recently concluded 10th annual Value Voters Summit for some context about the changes taking place.

It was, after all, the crowd at the political conference for American social conservative activists that gave a standing ovation after hearing news of the Ohio congressman’s resignation.   [Read more…]

Taking the Leap: Imagine a New World

healthy planet

By Jim Miller

Last week the Pope came to America and delivered his groundbreaking message about the interrelated problems of climate change and economic inequality as well as the moral imperative to act to address them.  

We heard this message at the same time we learned that we have lost half the world’s marine animals since 1970 and that Exxon’s own research had confirmed the human role in climate change decades ago even as they were heavily funding efforts to block solutions.  During all of this, we were also reminded that every GOP candidate for President has absolutely nothing to offer in the face of this deadly threat.  

Clearly we need to change the game and do it quickly.  But how?     [Read more…]

The Movement for a Balanced Transportation Future In the San Diego Region

Photo by Roebot

By Monique López, policy advocate at Environmental Health Coalition

We all need to move, and how we move influences our quality of life. The time of our commute, the safety of our sidewalks, the quality of our air and the type of transportation options we have determine how well we live our lives. On October 9, 2015, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) will decide how to invest $204 billion into our region’s transportation infrastructure.

This decision is critical to our livelihood. That much investment will have a tremendous impact on the lives of everyone in our region, particularly the lives of those in San Diego’s urban core where freeways intersect neighborhoods and transit, biking and walking infrastructure is scarce.

How these funds are invested will determine whether our region takes a step toward becoming a forward-thinking, sustainable place or whether we remain driving in circles, stuck in the incessant traffic jam that is our car-first mentality.   [Read more…]

California’s Renewables Progress Commendable But Emission Of Global CO2 Still Exponential

Photo by Atmospheric Infrared Sounder

By Frank Thomas

California continues its remarkable legislative breakthroughs in going green under the SB 350 Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015. Legislation just passed sets two goals for 2030: 50% of state utility power from renewables and a 50% increase in energy efficiency of buildings. The provision for a 50% reduction in petroleum use for cars and trucks failed to pass as did the SB 32 bill that sets GHG emission targets for 2030 and 2050.

Still, the sweeping new mandates passed call for DOUBLING energy efficiency and using renewables for HALF of California’s electricity generation by 2030. It is uncertain how fast and to what extent transportation electrification will proceed California’s aim to step up its commitment to clean energy acknowledges the scientific reality we humans don’t have the luxury of lots of time to transition FAST to renewable energy and much improved energy efficiency.   [Read more…]

Haggen Stores Closing: Corporate Greed Costs Eight Thousand Jobs in California


By Doug Porter

Less than six months since taking over 146 Albertsons and Vons locations, the Haggen grocery chain has announced closings for all its locations in California, Arizona and Nevada. Twenty-five stores in San Diego county will be shuttered, just two days before Thanksgiving.  (More inside)

Pope Francis gave his long-awaited address to Congress yesterday. Local faith, community and labor activists took the opportunity to amplify the pontiff’s messages on the social justice and the environment, holding a press conference and a packed interfaith forum at St. Paul’s Cathedral. (More Inside)

There are many noteworthy events coming soon:

  • Point Loma Democrats will feature a presentation by Rabbi Laurie Coskey on the fight for $15 movement,
  • The Center on Policy Initiatives will hosting the Spotlight on Justice Awards, and
  • Organized labor is stepping up its game with the 2015 San Diego Conference on Labor and Community Solidarity.

(Details and more events inside)   [Read more…]

Climate Change Fixers’ Bag of Tricks


By Sarah “Steve” Mosko / Boogie Green

Halting global warming is the chief environmental challenge of our time.

While heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) is not the only greenhouse gas (GHG), it’s the most abundant and longest-lived in the atmosphere and contributes the most to global warming. In March, atmospheric CO2 content reached a new high of 400 parts per million, already past the 350 limit many scientists believe is a safe level above which we risk triggering irreversible consequences out of human control.

Second only to China as the largest CO2 emitter, it’s incumbent on the United States to lead the world in addressing global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that the window of time to avoid the worst effects is just a few decades. Yet the United States has not adopted even a nationwide strategy.   [Read more…]

Poverty and Pollution in San Diego, Bike Lane Madness in Coronado, Labor Troubles in Oceanside


By Doug Porter

America’s Finest City and its neighbors have got a lot of work to do.

The Center on Policy Initiatives has finished crunching the 2014 census data released last week, finding the number of San Diegans living in official poverty continues to increase. Seniors, children and minority populations are disproportionally impacted, with 41.5% of adults living in poverty reporting they had jobs in 2014.

The Climate Action Campaign and Circulate San Diego released a report on Wednesday critical of regional planning proposals, saying current efforts will undermine one of the main goals of the city’s climate action plan.

The icing on the cake for the day was a report from KPBS about a successful effort in Coronado to halt additional bike lanes based on citizen complaints about “paint stripe pollution.”   [Read more…]

Lively Hoods


Why are we asking for jobs?

Most jobs are a lopsided trade agreement
where we relinquish the majority of our waking hours,
and our labor and talent
to make someone else
wealthy – wealthier!
in exchange for just enough money to survive.
Sometimes it’s not even enough
…used to be.

What we all really want
and need
is a means of living
that makes being alive meaningful.   [Read more…]

The Citizens’ Watch of Mission Valley: “Manchester Project” Approved and Work Begins on Valley’s Largest (and Only) Park


To outsiders, Mission Valley at times feels like it’s in its own intense universe. Other times, it seems like San Diego’s own “black hole”- once you enter Mission Valley, you immediately get swept into its traffic craziness and grid-lock.

But what happens in Mission Valley deeply affects the rest of San Diego, especially the coastal areas directly to the west – like Ocean Beach, the Peninsula, Mission Beach, PB – but also other nearby communities such as Clairemont and Grantville. Because of this close proximity these other communities are impacted by both the increases in population and density in Mission Valley and – due to the lack of infrastructure in the valley – are also impacted by strains on their infrastructure.

Because of these – let’s call them – interconnections – , we have been running a series of articles about what is being developed and being planned in Mission Valley. With these articles, we’ve instituted a type of ‘Citizen Watch of Mission Valley’ – and here, we continue this irregular series on the continued development and destruction of Mission Valley. Here’s our latest: …   [Read more…]

Junipero Serra’s Sainthood Dismays Many


By Doug Porter

Eighteenth century Franciscan missionary Junipero Serra will be canonized by Pope Francis this week. Hailed by the church as “the evangelizer of west in the United States” and reviled by descendants of the indigenous people living along the coast, Serra’s ascension to sainthood is a controversial move.

The expulsion of the Jesuit order from the Spanish colonies by King Carlos III brought Serra to Baja California. In 1769, the government, fearful of intrusions by Russian traders to the north, dispatched the Franciscans to what we now call California.  Serra founded nine missions, starting with the Mission San Diego de Alcalá and went about the business of ‘civilizing’ the local inhabitants.

Tales of the conquest of California by Spanish soldiers and Catholic missionaries by supporters of the church tend towards laying the blame for much of the ensuing slaughter on the military. Serra viewed the native population as children, children who needed the kind of brutal discipline meted out by the Franciscan order in order to find salvation.   [Read more…]

The Pope Makes the Case for Climate Change and Helping the Poor


By John Lawrence

The Pope is visiting the US this week to make the case that we should take climate change seriously and start doing something about it. He is really making the case that we should change our paradigm from one of individual self-fulfillment to one of “we’re all in this together,” from individual salvation to collective salvation of our earthly home. This has far-reaching implications. We need to be concerned about what’s happening to the earth as a whole, to humanity as a whole, and not just to our own family, town, state, country.

The Pope doesn’t mince words. Far from being the conservative head of a 2000 year old bureaucracy, he is using his moral megaphone and authority to speak out on the major problems of our day – global warming and capitalism – and the two are interrelated. You can’t have the entire sum of people on the planet involved with saving the planet from runaway climate change without getting involved with the collective plight of all those people in their daily lives. The Pope is putting the emphasis and focus on the plight of the poor, which is really what Jesus was all about. Finally.   [Read more…]

GOP Debate: More Whoppers Than Burger King


By Doug Porter

When there’s a stage full of candidates from a party with a tenuous connection to reality, there’s bound to be soooo many ‘misstatements’ to chose from. I’ve winnowed it down to what I thought were the two biggest: Carly Fiorina’s Planned Parenthood utterances and The Donald’s validation of an anti-vaxxer talking point… 

I originally thought about doing a running fact check on Wednesday’s CNN debate featuring their top 10 (plus 1) Republican candidates. But with two hours and forty-five minutes to digest, I realized it would be a fool’s errand.  Then it occurred to me that the act of watching CNN for anything longer than a minute or two was, in itself, a fool’s errand. Especially on a day when the weather was actually nice.

So I resolved to get up extra early to do my due diligence on the debate. This wrap-up took a while to write because I felt like I needed a shower afterwards. And I just skipped the Junior Varsity debate. I hear Trump won that one, too, despite not being on the stage.   [Read more…]

GOP Candidate Proposes Abolishing the National Labor Relations Board


By Doug Porter

Republican Scott Walker’s idea for turning around his diminishing poll numbers is to go big with his anti-union cred.

At a speech in Los Vegas, the Wisconsin Governor proposed scrapping the National Labor Relations Board, making right-to-work the default national standard for workplaces, eliminating public employee unions, restricting automatic withdrawal of dues, and forbidding union organizers to access employees personal information.  

In other words, he’s declared war. In the perfect world of Scott Walker, the US economy as far as employees are concerned would completely revert to the 1880’s. Yes, indeedy, get your beggars cups ready to catch whatever crumbs fall off the corporate tables.   [Read more…]

With Victories From Coast to Coast, Fight for $15 Has Always Been About More Than a Paycheck


By Doug Porter

I went downtown on Thursday for a media event inspired by the Fight for Fifteen movement. Representatives from unions, community and faith groups gathered outside City Hall to hail recent victories and rededicate themselves to continue the campaign.

In recent weeks the country’s largest county government (Los Angeles County) and one of the biggest public university systems in the U.S. (University of California) raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour. As fast food workers in New York were celebrating a win, Gov. Andrew Cuomo stood beside Vice President Joe Biden proposing $15 an hour legislation including an additional 3 million workers in other industries.  

This news is bittersweet for San Diego activists. They held aloft signs with quotes from mayors of other cities around California who’ve supported successful drives to increase the minimum wage, along with a sign quoting Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s excuse for opposing a much more modest increase.   [Read more…]

Escondido Can’t Afford the Safari Highlands Ranch Development


By Don Greene / Escondido Democrats

In 2012, after a number of years in planning and design, the residents of Escondido approved an update to our city’s General Plan. The General Plan is the guide to how the community wants to see our city grow. Included within the General Plan are different “elements” which address a variety of different yet related aspects of how we will grow our city. One of these elements governs land use. 

The Land Use Element of the General Plan addresses allowable land uses and the specific zonings. It also addresses a number of areas within the city that either will or could be developed for commercial, residential and multi-purpose use. Included in the Land Use Element are also “Land Use and Community Form Goals and Policies.” These set the tone and feel for all the future development within the city.    [Read more…]

Back to Homeless and Hopeless in San Diego


By Jeeni Criscenzo

A week ago, I was sitting in the Denny’s across the street from Howard Johnsons in Chula Vista, waiting for Tracy (name changed), an Army veteran Amikas had been assisting for almost a year. The good news was that Amikas, a non-profit that I started five years ago to help homeless women and children, was going to cover the next five days at the hotel for Tracy and her three children. But I wasn’t looking forward to this conversation – where this family would go after those five days was anybody’s guess.

This situation was all the more frustrating because Amikas had helped Tracy to get into permanent supportive housing six months earlier. The system had worked.   [Read more…]

California Lawmakers Seek Local Oversight of Downtown Planning

construction worker and he family at downtown construction site

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

“Downtown is for people” wrote legendary urban planner Jane Jacobs in 1958, in response to building-centric redevelopment that was a byproduct of politics and economics seeking to rebuild cities across America. During her lifetime, she advocated for citizens to decide what end results they wanted, pioneering concepts like “social capital,” and advocating for planners to steer the rebuilding machinery to serve the community.

Yet, even today, downtown San Diego is being built as a collection of projects, with an approval process that consistently favors developers. Today, the large-block redevelopment is back in full force. The older, affordable housing stock is being demolished, and replaced with luxury high-rises. Economic development agreements are benefiting projects that do not pay living wages to the workforce. And taxpayers across the city are subsiding the mitigation of environmental impacts of downtown projects.   [Read more…]

Have You No Shame , Mr. Caruso? Carlsbad Residents are Not ‘Corporate Interests’


The Strawberry Fields Mall marketing campaign heats up

By Richard Riehl / The Riehl World

When my wife and I arrived at Alga Norte Park last week to be among the first to sign the referendum to let us vote on the city Council’s decision to allow a developer to build a shopping center on the Hedionda Lagoon, we found two tables there, the first set up to dissuade those of us headed for the referendum table nearby.

The folks supporting the Caruso development were pleasant enough, inviting us to hear their side of the story. But having already been duped into signing a petition to “save the Strawberry Fields,” only to learn we’d been misled, we headed straight for the referendum table a few yards away.   [Read more…]