Economy

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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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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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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Thumbnail image for Are African American Males an Endangered Species?

Are African American Males an Endangered Species?

by John Lawrence 07.08.2014 Culture

By John Lawrence

As a white guy, this question is still very germane for me since my grandson is an African American male. Or rather he is half African American and half European American – actually a little less than half African American with a little Native American thrown in. And he has already been placed in a tenuous position at the age of six because next year he will be repeating kindergarten.

His parents were not able to afford the level of pre-school instruction that the other members of his kindergarten class evidently received. It’s amazing that now they expect kindergarten children to do first or second grade work with spelling tests and homework every day. When I went to kindergarten, the only thing expected of us was that you would learn to tie your shoes.

His case is not so much a case of racism as it is a case of being raised in relative though not extreme poverty. The only reason it wasn’t extreme was that there were extended family resources available to them.

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Score One for the GOP- Immigration Reform is Dead

by Doug Porter 06.26.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Yesterday Illinois Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez rose on the floor of the House waving a red card (ala futbol) to pronounce the end of immigration reform.

As Lawrence Downes, writing in the New York Times put it, “In sports terms, Mr. Gutierrez’s speech was simply marking the moment when a losing team is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.”

The US Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill one year ago this week. Republicans in the House rejected that approach, preferring to introduce piecemeal legislation which even they wouldn’t and/or couldn’t pass.

It’s been a year of excuses from the GOP bench and, to carry the sports analogy further, excuses are for losers.

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Thumbnail image for Junco’s Jabs: Please, Sirs Sanders and Faulconer, We Want Some More.

Junco’s Jabs: Please, Sirs Sanders and Faulconer, We Want Some More.

by Junco Canché 06.19.2014 Business
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Thumbnail image for In San Jose, a Minimum Wage Increase and Falling Unemployment

In San Jose, a Minimum Wage Increase and Falling Unemployment

by Source 06.18.2014 Activism

By Laura Clawson /Daily Kos

Here’s another example to point to when opponents of a higher minimum wage claim that it would cost jobs. The minimum in San Jose, California, has gone from $8.00 an hour to $10.00 and then $10.15, and University of California-Berkeley economist Michael Reich has been studying the results:

[The minimum wage increase] directly and indirectly affected 70,000 of the city’s 370,000 workers, Reich says.San Jose restaurants, which Reich says were most affected by the pay increase, raised menu prices by an average 1.75%, according to his study. He says there has been no discernible impact on employment.

The unemployment rate in the San Jose metro area, in fact, has fallen to 5.4% from 7.4% in March 2013. The San Jose Downtown Association says the number of restaurants in the district has increased by 20% the past 18 months.

So 70,000 people have gotten a raise, unemployment has fallen, the resulting price increase is 1.75 percent in the industry most affected, and the number of businesses in that most-affected industry is actually growing.

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Thumbnail image for U.S. Lags Behind World in Temp Worker Protections

U.S. Lags Behind World in Temp Worker Protections

by Source 06.15.2014 Business

By Michael Grabell / ProPublica

For nearly six years, Limber Herrera has toiled as a temp worker doing the same work for the same company in Mira Loma, Calif. About 40 hours a week, he unloads shipping containers for NFI—one of the largest freight distribution firms in America—moving goods that will eventually stock the shelves of Walmart and Sam’s Club.

Herrera, 30, has been a temp so long that he’s outlasted the agency that hired him. But that mattered little. One day in late 2012 he was called into the break room to fill out some paperwork. Then he went back to work—only now employed by the temp agency that took over the contract.

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Thumbnail image for Seattle Wins $15 Minimum Wage—Will Your Town Be Next?

Seattle Wins $15 Minimum Wage—Will Your Town Be Next?

by Source 06.11.2014 Activism

Activists built support for the ordinance by demonstrating that it would reduce poverty in the city.

By YES! Editors

Yesterday, June 2, the Seattle City Council approved a new ordinance that will raise the minimum wage in the city to $15 per hour—the highest in the United States.

Most visible were young activists in their twenties and thirties who moved directly from [City Councilmember Kshama] Sawant’s campaign to a new group, “15 Now.”

Seattle’s economy is fueled by high-tech industries and cutting-edge products produced by some the most famous corporate names in the nation: Starbucks, Amazon, Microsoft, and Boeing.

But the cost of living in the city is high and rising. People who work in low-wage nonprofessional jobs here—restaurant workers for example—find it increasingly difficult to afford the rising cost of food and housing in the city. As is true across the United States, many low-wage workers have to supplement their full-time salaries with government assistance like food stamps in order to have both rent and groceries.

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Thumbnail image for It’s Time to Stand Up for Increasing the Minimum Wage, San Diego!

It’s Time to Stand Up for Increasing the Minimum Wage, San Diego!

by Doug Porter 06.10.2014 Columns

“No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to exist in this country.” President Franklin D Roosevelt

By Doug Porter

It’s been the season of (talking about) minimum wage increases. Now it’s time to take action.

On Wednesday the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee will be discussing a proposal supported by Council President Todd Gloria. If the committee approves it will go to the full City Council. Then Council members will then decide whether to approve the wage hike or send it to the ballot for a public vote.

Local supporters of Gloria’s measure, led by Raise Up San Diego  are calling for people to attend the committee hearing, slated for the 12th floor at city hall, Wednesday, June 11th from 9am til Noon. Over 200 people showed for an earlier hearing back in April.

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What Does ‘Clean Elections’ Really Mean?

by Judi Curry 06.10.2014 Activism

By Judi Curry

A local organization, Neighborhoods for Clean Elections, is leading a grass roots coalition with plans to put a clean elections initiative on the 2016 ballot.

The initiative — which is supported by Common Cause, as well as a host of other good government groups and a large number of town councils, local community councils and community associations — will provide public funding for candidates for mayor and City Council who agree to a Clean Elections Pledge. That pledge requires that they refrain from soliciting any campaign contributions from private sources, and they further agree to refrain from spending any of their own money for their campaign. It is designed to break the conflict of interest between campaign contributors and candidates.

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Thumbnail image for From Unist’ot’en Camp: No Word for Good-Bye

From Unist’ot’en Camp: No Word for Good-Bye

by Will Falk 06.09.2014 Activism

By Will Falk

Leaving Unist’ot’en Camp was hard. As I stepped away from a group of new friends passing pens and notebooks around to share contact information, I found myself on the banks of the Morice River under the pines. Looking up to see their silver and green tops swaying with the sky, I wondered if the pines were discussing the worth of my actions at the Camp. For the first time in my life, I was being watched by trees that I was directly involved in protecting. I studied the splinters still stuck in my hand from the construction site. I rubbed the black bruise under my left thumbnail where I missed a nail with my hammer. My shoulders were sore from holding heavy roof rafters precisely in place so they could be installed properly.

I hoped the trees approved of my efforts. Then, realizing this desire could only mean I was in love, I began to cry.

I was only at Unist’ot’en Camp for a couple weeks, but the first days after leaving felt like something had been pulled out of my stomach. At the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria, there is a shopping center with a Starbuck’s, McDonald’s, a corporate bookstore selling $25 copies of hardcover bestsellers, and a chocolate shop selling individually wrapped candies. Still unshowered, smelling of camp fire and sweat, with Unist’ot’en Camp soil under my fingernails, I almost asked my friend, Rusty, if we could turn around and drive the 12 hours back to the Camp. Immediately.

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Thumbnail image for From Unist’ot’en Camp: Think About Your Future

From Unist’ot’en Camp: Think About Your Future

by Will Falk 06.07.2014 Activism

By Will Falk 5/22/2014

For most of my life, I have been concerned about my future.

As a child, I studied hard to get good grades so I could grow up to be smart. In high school I studied hard to get good grades, played three sports and wrote for my high school newspaper so I could put together the most attractive college application possible. In college I played varsity football, earned a 3.95 GPA, graduated summa cum laude, and took out tens of thousands of dollars in student loans so I could put together the most attractive law school application possible. In law school I studied hard to get good grades, worked as many internships as I could, and took out tens of thousands of dollars in more student loans so I could get the job I wanted. Once I was hired as a public defender, I worked hard to save up money for vacations, made my student loan payments to build good credit, set aside money for a retirement, and set aside more money “just in case something happened.”

I was always working for the future. Only this was the wrong future to work for.

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Thumbnail image for Big Tobacco Planned on Big Pot Sales in the 70s—They Were Just Waiting for Legalization

Big Tobacco Planned on Big Pot Sales in the 70s—They Were Just Waiting for Legalization

by Source 06.07.2014 Business

Documents reveal they’ve viewed marijuana as both a rival and potential product.

By Stanton Glantz / Alternet

It turns out that the history of Big Tobacco companies and marijuana is more intertwined than was previously known, according to a new study in The Milbank Quarterly. Based on previously secret tobacco industry documents, the study reveals that, since at least the 1970s, tobacco companies have been interested in marijuana as both a rival and potential product. As a result of litigation against the tobacco industry, more than 80 million pages of internal company documents became available at the University of California San Francisco’s Legacy Tobacco Documents Library. This study, led by Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, is the first to systematically review these documents specifically about marijuana.

The authors write that “despite fervent denials, three multinational tobacco companies”—Philip Morris, British American Tobacco, and RJ Reynolds—have all “considered manufacturing cigarettes containing cannabis. “People have suspected for a long time that Big Tobacco was interested in marijuana,” says Glantz. “The documents we review show that they have been considering legalized marijuana as both a competitor and an opportunity.”

One of the goals of the study, say the authors, is to make policymakers and public health advocates aware that tobacco companies are prepared to enter the marijuana market with the intention of increasing its widespread use. As states like Colorado and Washington legalize the recreational use of marijuana (and many others are considering it), the authors make a compelling case for policymakers to adopt regulatory frameworks similar to existing tobacco laws in order to prevent youth initiation and tame market domination by companies seeking to maximize profits with the sales of another addictive substance.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego Chamber & Taxpayer Group Call for Ending Child Labor Laws

San Diego Chamber & Taxpayer Group Call for Ending Child Labor Laws

by Doug Porter 06.05.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

A downtown press conference staged by the Chamber of Commerce and the San Diego County Taxpayers Association called for the elimination of child labor laws today, based on a new study which details the impacts of raising the minimum wage.

“If child labor laws are enacted, I’ll have to close my hardware store,” said Harold Black, owner of Duece Hardware. “Besides, the little guys really like running the paint mixer.”

Okay. The part about child labor isn’t true. But it’s no more outrageous than some of the other claims promised at the today’s media event, carefully staged outside a hardware store. A transcript of the event replacing the words “minimum wage” with “child labor” would effectively demonstrate just how crass and craven these so-called representatives for the business community really are.

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Thumbnail image for Walmart’s Top-to-Bottom Taxpayer Subsidies

Walmart’s Top-to-Bottom Taxpayer Subsidies

by Source 06.05.2014 Business

We’re all footing the bill for bonuses the company’s executives pocket and food stamps its underpaid workers obtain for survival.

By  and  / OtherWords

Low-income families weren’t the only ones hurt bycuts to food stamps last fall. Top Walmart executives also took a hit.

The cutbacks ate into the discount giant’s salesbecause so many of its low-income customers rely on this public assistance program to help pay for their groceries. And that made it tough for the company’s top brass to meet their bonus targets.

But that wave of anxiety didn’t last long. Walmart’s board simply rejiggered bonus criteria so that executives could still reap “performance” payouts, The New York Times reported.

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Thumbnail image for From Unist’ot’en Camp: Responsibility, Not Rights

From Unist’ot’en Camp: Responsibility, Not Rights

by Will Falk 06.04.2014 Activism

Not all worldviews are created equal

By Will Falk May 19, 2014

I thought this as I sat listening to Mel, a Wet’suwet’en man, explain the ideas behind the establishment of the Unist’ot’en Camp. It was lunch on my first day of the camp. The sun was strong and the few dozen visitors to the camp gathered in a clearing surrounded by tall pines. The quick-flowing clear-voiced Morice River flowed next to our gathering place, ice cold from its glacial source not far away.

My first encounter with Mel was on the bridge into Unist’ot’en Camp. Before visitors are admitted, they must satisfactorily complete the Free, Prior and Informed Consent Protocol – a series of questions that camp elders ask. Mel was quick with a smile, quicker with a hug or handshake, and quickest with a joke. He was the first to clap me on my nervous back after I satisfactorily answered my hosts’ questions in the Protocol. So it was natural I made my way to the small gathering of people listening to Mel at lunch.

“This is about responsibility, not rights” Mel said looking around the sky and gesturing towards the river. He explained the way the land taught his people that they had a responsibility to protect the health of the land. Displaying a mastery of political theory coupled with the traditional wisdom of his people, he weaved a powerful analysis to show how important it is that the pipelines be stopped at the Unist’ot’en Camp.

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Thumbnail image for 5 Ways Massive Inequality Is Paralyzing American Society

5 Ways Massive Inequality Is Paralyzing American Society

by Source 06.03.2014 Business

Progressive thinkers can’t afford to disagree among ourselves as paralysis sets in.

By Paul Buchheit / AlterNet

The severing of our society into a plutocracy and a peasantry is so far along that statistics almost cease to have meaning. But the facts have to be told, to help explain the sickening sense that we’re becoming a nation without a middle class, paralyzed by the inequality deniers and excuse makers who refuse to admit there’s something wrong with their free-market capitalist system. The extremes are becoming almost intolerable.

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Thumbnail image for Republican States Could Cut Uninsured Rate by 60 Percent With Medicaid Expansion

Republican States Could Cut Uninsured Rate by 60 Percent With Medicaid Expansion

by Source 06.03.2014 Economy

By Joan McCarter / Daily Kos

Over half—56 percent—of previously uninsured people got assistance to get coverage under Obamacare through expanded Medicaid, CHIP, or subsidized private coverage, and if the states that have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act would reverse course, they could provide coverage to 59 percent of their currently uninsured populations. That’s one of the findings from a new study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on coverage after Obamacare’s implementation.

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Thumbnail image for The Bahati Mamas : Seeds for Change

The Bahati Mamas : Seeds for Change

by Source 05.31.2014 Activism

Chasing Freedom and Opportunity

By Binti Musa / AjA Blog

The Bahati Mamas are a group of five Somali Bantu women living in City Heights who started their own farming business. The women are Somali Bantu Refugees who were forced to leave their home in 2004 to seek refuge in the United States because of the civil war in Somalia.

The Somali Bantu refugees had to leave everything they knew. As part of their resettlement, the International Recuse Committee (IRC) helped the refugee families find jobs, learn English and help their children get an education. The refugees faced many challenges while learning American customs; one of these challenges was finding good, quality, organic produce for the families in their community. This served as an impetus for people of the Somali Bantu community to begin efforts to farm like they did in their old home.

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