USC Report: Inequality Threatens San Diego’s Future

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By Doug Porter

A report by the University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) says long term prospects for San Diego’s economy are challenged by widespread inequality.

I could dazzle you with charts and figures (and there are plenty in the report), but here’s the bottom line: the way public policy is and has been made in San Diego benefits a few at the expense of the many. Trading short term greed for long term growth would be better for the overall economy and the environment.

The authors of the report point to metropolitan areas around the country where public and private entities have opted to work together on economic and environmental issues and are building platforms for sustainable growth. They also point to emerging data demonstrating that “greater economic and racial equality in regions corresponds with more robust growth in terms of employment, output, productivity, and per-capita income.”   [Read more…]

Buying America: Shopping Can Be an Ethical Act

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The Many Astounding Ways You Can Express Your Values with Your Pocket Book

By David Morris / Alternet

“Every person ought to have the awareness that purchasing is always a moral – and not simply an economic – act,” Pope Francis announced early this year. How can we spend our money as if our values matter?

In some sectors and for some values this is fairly easy. Food is an obvious example. Those who want to protect the environment and human and animal health will find abundant labels guiding them to the appropriate product: USDA Organic, free range, hormone free, grass fed. For those who want to strengthen community, shrink the distance between producer and consumer and support family farmers a growing number of grocery stores label locally grown or raised.   [Read more…]

Economic Growth Doesn’t Make a Wealthy Nation, Safety and Happiness Do

Still frame from Growth Is Not Enough

By Araz Hachadourian / Yes! Magazine

Worldwide economic wealth has quadrupled since 1970, and experts say it will continue to grow exponentially. But at the same time, poverty and economic inequality are on the rise.

Most countries use measures such as gross national product (GNP) and gross domestic product (GDP) to assess the health of their economies. But these only take into account economic activity and material wealth, leaving out factors like distribution of resources and quality of life.

In this video, Kate Raworth, economist and senior visiting research associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, explains how economies aimed only at growth are not enough.   [Read more…]

A New Wrinkle on the Chargers Stadium Story: Summer Olympics in LA?

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By Doug Porter

The city of Boston, Massachusetts bailed on its grand plans for hosting the 2024 Olympics yesterday and Los Angeles immediately became the next contender.

This development could be a game changer when it comes to the NFL’s thought processes on the future of the San Diego Chargers franchise.  An Olympic bid would provide additional impetus towards getting another venue built in LA.

The United State Olympic Committee has until September to figure out an alternative location. The chatter in the press is that the best option remaining is Los Angeles, host to the 1932 and 1984 games. LA’s proposed a bid centered on several clusters of venues including Exposition Park, Downtown, one along the LA River, the Westside, Long Beach, and –ta! da! –Carson.   [Read more…]

Pope Francis: “We’ve Turned the Earth into a Pile of Filth”

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By John Lawrence

Add Pope Francis to the world’s leaders who are calling for immediate action to combat climate change. In the Pope’s own words the earth has become a pezzo di merda, a piece of you know what. He has also described unbridled capitalism as the “dung of the devil.” Popes are not often given to scatological imagery to describe the predominant American economic system.

However, the Pope’s words are very important because he wields enormous moral authority. Would that the leading moral authorities from the world’s other major religions had the gumption to stand up and add their voices in the fight against climate change.

The Pope blames human greed for exploitation of the environment and an economic system that is geared to profit making rather than to rational development of natural resources which would benefit all mankind rather than just those at the top. The Pope’s 184 page encyclical is a radical statement: a condemnation of business as usual and a call for a restructuring on political and economic priorities.   [Read more…]

ALEC Confidential: Tales from Inside the San Diego Meeting

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By Bill Raden / Capital & Main

“The biggest scam of the last 100 years is global warming!” thundered Stephen Moore to ALEC’s plenary breakfast club this morning. “It’s no surprise that when you give these professors $10 billion, they’re going to find a problem.”  Moore then singled out North Dakota for its regulatory-free attitudes toward the fracking industry: “I just have one message for you — drill, baby, drill!”

The annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council began wrapping up business in San Diego Friday on this defiant note from Moore, a former Wall Street Journal writer. This newly hired Heritage Foundation economist is an apostle of completely eliminating state income taxes  and has been in a running feud with liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, over Moore’s casual regard for accurate reporting.   [Read more…]

How San Diego Is a Petri Dish for the ALEC Agenda

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By Brendan Fischer / Center for Media and Democracy

This week, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) descends on San Diego, California for its annual meeting of lobbyists and legislators.

In many ways, San Diego is an appropriate setting for ALEC’s conference. Beyond the walls of the Manchester Grand Hyatt, where ALEC members convene under heavy security and behind closed doors, the city known as “America’s Finest” has been a major battleground in the corporate-backed resistance to local control over paid sick days and the minimum wage.

It was at ACCE’s last meeting, held in Washington D.C. in December, where an ALEC task force director claimed that “the biggest threat comes from the local level” when it comes to grassroots efforts to raise the wage and enact paid sick days, and warned that “we are seeing a number of localities that have increased their minimum wage.”

San Diego is one of them.   [Read more…]

Hot Topics at ALEC’s 2015 Meeting in San Diego

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By Brendan Fischer / PR Watch

This week, the American Legislative Exchange Council, or “ALEC,” will bring together hundreds of corporate lobbyists with state and local politicians at a posh hotel in San Diego for the group’s annual meeting.

ALEC alum Scott Walker, who has signed over 20 ALEC bills into law, will address this month’s meeting, as well as Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, who participated in ALEC meetings before he joined the U.S. Senate. Community groups are planning on bringing a little transparency to the proceedings, by welcoming the candidates and ALEC participants on July 22.   [Read more…]

Measure of Deception: CA Initiative Would Gut Retirement Benefits for Millions

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By Bill Raden /Capital & Main

When Democratic former San Jose mayor Chuck Reed and Republican ex-San Diego councilmember Carl DeMaio finally unveiled the language for a promised attempt at getting a statewide public pension cutting measure to 2016 voters, the expectation was that Reed II would be a reined-in and more realistically-framed version of Reed I – last year’s failed attempt at undermining the public pension system.

That try for the 2014 ballot was aborted after Attorney General Kamala Harris slapped it with a candid, albeit politically untenable summary that frankly described the proposed constitutional amendment as targeting longstanding legal rights—rights that protect the pensions and retirement health care of the 1.64 million Californians enrolled in the state’s public pension systems.

But even veterans of the state’s public-sector retirement wars were unprepared for the sheer scale of what awaited them this time around. Amid the deceptively simple wording contained in the laudable-sounding “Voter Empowerment Act of 2016,” Reed-DeMaio concealed a hidden trigger that is now being recognized as a wholesale attempt to uproot 60 years of statutory law and a critical foundation of labor relations.    [Read more…]

After EPA Ignored Environmental Racism for Decades, Communities Fight Back

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On behalf of communities across the United States, Earthjustice files suit for government violation of civil rights laws

By Sarah Lazare / Common Dreams

The Environmental Protection Agency has been ignoring complaints about environmental racism across the United States for up to 20 years, repeatedly failing to investigate evidence that incinerators, power plants, and hazardous waste dumps are disproportionally harming the health of low-income communities of color, a new lawsuit charges.

Filed Wednesday by environmental advocacy organization Earthjustice on behalf of communities across the country, the lawsuit argues that the EPA failed to take adequate action in response to complaints that states were violating civil rights laws by granting permits to hazardous polluters primarily in poor and working-class Black and Latino neighborhoods.   [Read more…]

It’s Not Socialism, It’s Democratic Capitalism

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In a recent interview about the groundswell of popularity for Bernie Sanders, Richard Wolff, author of “Democracy at Work, a Cure for Capitalism,” opined that we are seeing a new form of socialism that doesn’t give the power to the government, but rather focuses on “changing the way we organize enterprises, so they stop being top-down, hierarchical, where the board of directors makes all the decisions, and we move to this idea which is now catching on: cooperation, workers owning and operating collectively and democratically their economy and their enterprise.”

Instead of looking at this as a new kind of socialism, I like to think of it as a new kind of capitalism—democratic capitalism, where workers are actually free.   [Read more…]

The Filipino-American Tour of the South Bay

Iglesia Ni Christo, Rios Ave.

By Barbara Zaragoza / South Bay Compass

Ethnic enclaves are generally defined by a cluster of stores and eateries that feature culinary delights from a specific country from abroad. Within that cluster of businesses, you’ll usually hear that foreign language being spoken. In addition, there will often be a religious organization (usually a church) in the vicinity where the members of that ethnicity go to worship, but also come together as a community to support one another.

So how do you like my definition?…It’s imperfect for sure, but I am fascinated by residents who identify with more than just one country and one “ethnic” label.   [Read more…]

Why Suburbanites Contribute More to Climate Change

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By Sarah “Steve” Mosko / Boogie Green

More and more Americans are taking responsibility for their personal contribution to global climate change by driving fuel efficient cars, insulating their homes and switching to energy efficient lighting and household appliances.

However, even someone that’s gone to the extremes of traveling only on foot or bicycle and forsaking home heating, cooling, lighting, food refrigeration and cooking will likely shrink their carbon footprint by only about a third.  That’s because roughly two-thirds of Americans’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are embedded instead in consumption of other goods and services, according to a recent analysis by the Center for Global Development (CGD), a non-profit policy research organization.

Most of us attribute our GHG footprint to the easily discerned energy we consume for personal transportation and home utilities.  Yet these so-called “direct” emissions account for just 36% of the average American’s annual GHG emissions which are equivalent to 21.8 tons of CO2.   [Read more…]

How to Fix California’s Housing Affordability Crisis

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

As the economy improves, California’s affordable housing crisis is worsening. The average rent in California ($1,240) is almost fifty percent higher than the national average. This is pricing out our state’s low-wage blue collar workers, who have flat incomes and rising commutes. It would take a service worker in San Jose 20 years to save up enough to buy a home.

Unfortunately, government programs that help developers build affordable housing have barely met a fraction of the need.   [Read more…]

Puerto Rico’s Dance With Debt

Street in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is mired in debt and facing default. And US colonialism is one of the main culprits.

By Ed Morales / Jacobin

Puerto Rico, a de facto colony of the US, is usually not in the news outside of the travel and style sections. But as it stumbles towards a September default deadline that threatens to shut down government operations, the island territory has been a fixture in the business press, with headlines like: “Puerto Rico Faces Tough Choices Ahead,” “Puerto Rico Power Authority Deadline Extended,” and “A Desperate Puerto Rico Raises $1.2 Billion in Short-term Financing.”

According to the neoliberal narrative, the rapidly intensifying economic crisis is an open and shut case: Puerto Rico, legally an unincorporated territory of the US, is caught in a debtor’s trap of borrowing to pay for essential operations. And now the bill is coming due. Bloomberg Business likens it to a “consumer using one credit card to pay off another.”

But the real story is more complicated, and more connected to Puerto Rico’s colonial relationship with the US.   [Read more…]

Chinese Stock Market Crash Could Impact California Real Estate

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By Doug Porter

It seems like we’re rushing from one crisis to the next these days on the world’s economic stage. Puerto Rico is flailing, Greece is on the brink and now the Chinese stock market is tanking. The first two are relatively minor in terms of their actual economic impact worldwide, the situation in Asia poses a threat to real estate markets, especially in California.

In just over three weeks Chinese investors have seen $3 trillion (that’s with a “T”) in equity vanish, despite increasingly desperate measures by the government.  That is six times Greece’s entire foreign debt, or 11 years of Greece’s economic output, according to the New York Times.

Hundreds of companies have halted trading, more credit has been made available and the state pension fund’s assets are being tapped, all to no avail. Much of the Chinese market boom has been fueled by stock purchases made on credit. Now that those stocks are worth less than what was paid for them, it’s reasonable to assume investors will be forced to sell off real estate assets to pay off the loans. And they’ve been buying in California in a big way.   [Read more…]

The Persuaders: California Restaurant Association

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By Bobbi Murray / Capital & Main

“Something always seems to be starting in California,” Angelo Amador, an attorney and vice president for the National Restaurant Association, told Bloomberg News.

It was 2012 and his remark was prompted by a California state Supreme Court decision favoring an employee’s right to have defined meal-break times. The association—dubbed “the other NRA” for its lobbying muscle, with annual revenues of $71 million in 2013–had vigorously opposed policy that required employers to ensure that workers take rest and meal breaks rather than leaving it to the employees to push back against managers to enforce break provisions.

Amador’s NRA is perhaps the largest trade group that you have never heard of, and supports an “institute” run by a PR firm that churns out opinions and papers to shape policy debates.   [Read more…]

Koch-backed Group Calls for End of National Parks

Daily Kos EPIC Glacier National Park Red Bus tour, 2015.

By Joan McCarter / Daily Kos

The National Park system is broke, argues Reed Watson, the executive director at the Koch-backed Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) in an op-ed, so the only thing to do about it is stop creating national parks. Because, of course, actually funding them is out of the question.

“True conservation is taking care of the land and water you already have, not insatiably acquiring more and hoping it manages itself,” the op-ed reads. “Let’s maintain what we’ve already got, so we can protect it properly,” it concludes.

Of course “hoping it manages itself” was never the aim of Congress in creating national parks, which is why they also created the National Park Service to manage them.   [Read more…]

Extreme Weather Watch: June 2015 – Deadly Heat Wave in Pakistan

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By John Lawrence

Pakistan’s heat wave took a toll of more than 1200 dead, the deadliest heat wave on record. Power outages added to the misery, leaving many without fans, water or light at the beginning of Ramadan, when many Muslims do not eat or drink during daylight hours. More than 14,000 people were hospitalized in Karachi, the nation’s largest city. The heat wave came just weeks after torrid temperatures caused nearly 2,200 deaths in neighboring India. This devastating weather is being seen as the effects of human-caused climate change. The Pakistan heat wave will join the heat wave in India as one of the 10 deadliest in world history.

Observant Muslims, who make up the majority of Karachi’s 20 million residents, were abstaining from food and water during long summer days. A single sip of water invalidates the fast, but Muslims are discouraged from fasting if they are sick or if doing so would cause physical harm. “The deadly heat wave that has killed several hundred people in Karachi, Pakistan, is clearly a harbinger of things to come with the changing climate,” said Saleemul Huq, director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development in Bangladesh and a prominent climate scientist.   [Read more…]

California Offers Free ID to Homeless People

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By Christine Schanes / The OB Rag

As of July 1st, a homeless person, child or youth born in the State of California can get a free certified birth certificate from the county of their birth. And as of January 1, 2016, a homeless person, child or youth will be able to get a free new or replacement California photo identification card from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

These public records fee waivers were provided during the 2013-14 California legislative session by the passage of Assembly Bill 1733 whose primary author was former Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva and whose joint authors were Speaker of the Assembly Toni G. Atkins and Assemblymember Brian Maienschein.   [Read more…]

Facing Dire Threats, Greek Voters Reject Austerity

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“And I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride.”–Minister of Finance Yanis Varoufakis

By Doug Porter

US newspapers today are telling readers about a “shocking rebuff” or a “stunning rejection” by Greek voters of a deal offered by international lenders to refinance that country’s debt.

The overwhelming “No” vote may be stunning for bankers and neo-liberal economists as it flies on the face of the presumption holding there was only one way out of the current crisis. The Greek people saw their vote as rejection of blackmail; they’ve had enough austerity, thank you.

Today, I’ll offer readers some viewpoints not commonly seen in coverage of the Greek financial crisis. The No vote is not the end of the world. Much of what we’ve been told/sold paints an incomplete picture. And anybody (Carl DeMaio, for instance) who’d like you to believe that Greek pensioners are at the root of the problem is selling snake oil–they are a symptom, not a cause.   [Read more…]

Racial ‘Neighborhood Gap’ Fuels Social, Economic Inequality

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Stanford research found that ‘black and Hispanic families effectively need much higher incomes than white families to live in comparably affluent neighborhoods’

By Deidre Fulton / Common Dreams

Persistent and troubling patterns of racial segregation in U.S. communities are constraining upward mobility for black and Hispanic families, according to new research from the Stanford Graduate School of Education.

The study, published in the July issue of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, found that “Black and Hispanic children and families are doubly disadvantaged—both economically and contextually—relative to white and Asian families,” due to residential segregation and the racial and socioeconomic disparities that come as a result.

According to a press release, the research found that “black and Hispanic families effectively need much higher incomes than white families to live in comparably affluent neighborhoods.”   [Read more…]

For Hundreds of Families, There’s No Place Like Home in San Diego

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By Jeeni Criscenzo del Rio

I had just returned from a 3-hour forum on options for housing homeless people. The Amikas phone was ringing and I rushed to answer it while flinging the handouts and brochures from the event onto my desk. The hopeful but timid voice on the other end of the call sounded all too familiar. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t make out her name, I already knew her story and why she was calling Amikas.

Although our agency closed the last of our residential programs last month, there are still listings for us throughout the county and I’m still getting calls like this one. This woman found our card tacked on the bulletin board at the LGBT Community Center and thought we would be the answer to her prayers. She is seven months pregnant and has two kids, 6 and 7 years old. She’s been homeless for six months.   [Read more…]

Student Loan Default a Growing Trend?

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By John Lawrence

With over a trillion dollars in outstanding student loans, young college graduates are being forced to take jobs they hate in order to pay them back. Their futures consist of debt peonage for as far as the eye can see. Some are opting out of a lifetime of death-in-debtorhood and choosing instead to start over living the life that they foresaw when they enrolled in college in the first place. Such a one is Lee Siegle whose June 6 opinion piece in the New York Times laid out his rational for defaulting on his student loan.

His decision was made based on choosing life over death …   [Read more…]