By Doug Porter
Another week has passed and UT-San Diego has published yet another article telling us what to expect in the coming months as our local plutocrats hammer out plans for a new gladiator arena, er, football stadium.
Past failures to achieve a consensus were brushed aside by Chargers special counsel Mark Fabian in this weeks fish wrap, attributed to “the kind of political instability that is more typical of a banana republic than of a major American city”. I’m sure former Mayor Jerry Sanders (2005-2012) is thrilled by that characterization.
This week we learn of a Joint Powers Authority (Think SANDAG, or the Airport Commission), with a “working scenario” envisioning a county-wide 2016 ballot measure tapping local treasuries for the expected “taxpayer contribution common in the construction costs of every new National Football League stadium in recent years.”
Oh, it’s sweet irony to my ears to hear San Diego described as a banana republic by a representative of the local elites. I couldn’t agree more. Only the term shouldn’t be used in a past tense.
As the Making Ends Meet report released by the Center on Policy Initiatives documents, 38% of the county’s working-age households — meaning households headed by someone younger than 65 — can’t pay for basic necessities such as rent, child care, groceries and food without help. That’s up by 8% since 2007.
Increased stratification between economic classes is a key indicator for the ‘banana republic’ future of San Diego.
Let’s turn to Wikipedia for a little clarification of the term coined by American author O. Henry:
In political science, the term banana republic is a pejorative descriptor for a servile dictatorship that abets or supports, for kickbacks, the exploitation of large-scale plantation agriculture, especially banana cultivation. In economics, a banana republic is a country operated as a commercial enterprise for privateprofit, effected by a collusion between the State and favoured monopolies, in which the profit derived from the private exploitation of public lands is private property, while the debts incurred thereby are a public responsibility.
Our local plantation culture, as author and SDFP contributor Jim Miller and others have pointed out, is based on tourism rather than agriculture. The ‘political instability’ in so-called banana republics is usually caused by kleptocratic governments induced by corporate overreaches leading to mass uprisings.
The tone of the conversation around San Diego about a football stadium has changed. It’s no longer a matter of “if” or “when”; only the details need to be finalized. I suspect there will be another round of “information” and then the preaching will begin in earnest.
From the Bottom of the UT-San Diego Barrel…
This is the week City Council Todd Gloria will advance proposals for increasing the minimum wage in San Diego. And the plantation overlords in Mission Valley can’t even wait to see the numbers before shooting it down.
“Job Killer!” “Job Killer!” they chant. The fact the City is already at a competitive disadvantage with other areas because local rents eat up 41% of income (fifth highest in the country among cities) seems to escape them.
Here’s a taste of the latest sermon from Mount Manchester (Via UT-San Diego):
…any increase beyond what California already has approved makes no sense.
It would put San Diego at a clear competitive disadvantage compared to any other city in the region in attempting to attract job-creating companies to locate or expand in the city.
The San Diego economy, like the rest of the state and nation, is still struggling to recover from the Great Recession. Many small businesses are struggling just to survive. The increased costs of a minimum-wage hike could be the punch that knocks them out.
The answer to the issue of poverty, if we’re to believe these self-anointed voices of the job creators, is education. As in “you fast-food workers need to run out and get a bunch of loans to attend private universities that will make you so desperate you’ll take any wage offered.”
Whether from private or public university, 51% of graduates with a degree have found a full-time job since 2006. According a study by Rutgers University, 43% percent of employed recent graduates said their jobs do not require a college degree. Of the top ten fastest growing occupations for the years 2010 – 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only two will require a college degree.
Meanwhile, according to recent New York Times article, employee compensation is at the lowest level in 65 years, while corporate after-tax profits for 2013 represented 10% of the gross domestic product, the highest level since 1929, the first year that the government began calculating the number.
Back to UT-San Diego:
An increase would hit disproportionately hard at the hotels, motels and restaurants that are at the heart of San Diego’s tourist economy, the third-largest source of revenue to the city.
Cry me a river. Other cities, states and countries (Australia is my favorite example) have higher minimum wages and their hospitality industries have adapted. McDonald’s actually pulls more net revenue out of Europe (much higher wages) than it does the United States.
As class action lawsuits in California, Michigan and New York filed by employees against McDonald’s, and a recent survey by Hart Research saying 89% said they have been forced to do off-the-books work, been denied breaks, been refused overtime pay or been placed in similarly unsavory circumstances, the restaurant business is not very hospitable towards its own employees. Bigger restaurant companies tend to mimic labor practices of fast food chains (I know this from personal experience), and hotels (excepting some unionized locations) are even worse at pinching employee wages.
How many times to we have to hear UT-San Diego (and their cronies) crying “wolf” before we realize they’ll lie about just about anything that strikes their fancy?
Earth Day’s A-Comin’
The 25th annual EarthFair, is slated for Balboa Park on Sunday, April 27th.
People would do well to remember that ‘the largest free annual environmental fair in the world’ almost got bumped out of its location last year thanks to construction planned for the now-discarded Plaza de Panama scheme promoted by former Mayor Jerry Sanders.
This all became Mayor Bob Filner’s fault (UT headline: Is Bob Filner Cancelling Earth Day?) following a staff recommendation that the event be moved because of liability issues tied to road construction.
From the UT (Note that ‘last summer’ was before Filner was elected):
Word came last summer that the city’s Park and Recreation Department won’t allow large-scale events like the Earth Day festival at Balboa Park. Why? They may delay construction of the Plaza de Panama project, which will reroute vehicle traffic from the heart of the park by late 2014 and whose construction timetable is being squeezed by a legal battle and the parks’ planned centennial celebration in 2015.
Once a judge ruled that the Plaza de Panama plan was a no-go, Filner did the right thing and the 2013 event was held in its traditional location.
I tell this story to illustrate the point that, as a people-powered event (over 400 volunteers and no expensive consultants), the EarthFair is an outlier. Unstated in all last years coverage was the strong opposition by many of the usual suspects in the Balboa Park scene to this event. It wasn’t even listed among the activities by the failed Balboa Park Celebration in their planning for 2015.
How could you ignore an event bringing 60,000 people to the park? I guess they were too busy making pie charts and videos.
This year’s EarthFair will feature 300 exhibitors, special theme areas, a Food Pavilion, a special Children’s Activity Area, five entertainment venues, the Children’s Earth Parade, the eARTh Gallery art show, and a Cleaner Car Concourse. For more information, go here.
A Public Service Announcement
Rebecca Traister at The New Republic writes How to Be Less Stupid About Hillary Clinton’s Future Grandchild:
Dear political media,
On the occasion of Chelsea Clinton announcing that she is pregnant two and a half years in advance of an election in which her mother might run for president:
– Please be less stupid.
– Seriously: way less stupid.
– So you know, about four million babies are born every year in the United States.
– You were born. Chances are good that your gestation did not have any impact on your grandparents’ strategy regarding higher political office.
– Hillary Clinton is not having a baby. If she were, that shouldn’t matter either.
Check Out the SDFreePress Calendar
Thanks to the efforts of Brent Beltran, the San Diego Free Press now has an on-line calendar of events. You can see events in the arts, performances and political gatherings of every persuasion by clicking on the ‘Calendar’ Tab at the top of the page. To get your event listed, drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
On This Day: 1960 – Dick Clark testified before a congressional committee investigating payola. He admitted that he had a financial interest in 27 percent of the records he played on his show in a period of 28 months. 1972 – Apollo 16 astronauts John Young and Charles Duke explored the surface of the moon. 1986 – Geraldo Rivera opened a vault that belonged to Al Capone at the Lexington Hotel in Chicago. Nothing of interest was found inside.
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@
bob dorn says
If the city’s mothers and fathers feel the need for public funding of a private enterprise why don’t they suggest a public buyout of Spanos’ Chargers? There really are a lot of football fans who’d want a piece of the action, and a lot of those already are invested in
profit-driven corporations less salubrious and more damaging than professional football, where only the players get scrambled brains and useless limbs (like our veterans who fight our wars, and the dark-skinned unAmericans on the other side of the planet whom they’re sent to kill).
Come to think of it a bit more, why not offer subsidized purchases of shares to local folks, preferred shares to those who’ll be given suites… that sort of thing.
Brian Brady says
“This week we learn of a Joint Powers Authority (Think SANDAG, or the Airport Commission), with a “working scenario” envisioning a county-wide 2016 ballot measure”
I know I sound like a broken record but, for the record, this is not capitalism.
Of course it isn’t capitalism. Porter didn’t SAY it was capitalism. That’s the whole point: the football team is a privately-owned business yet they want We the People to subsidize their business. That. Isn’t. Capitalism.
It IS what I like to call “Republican socialism.” That’s when corporate profits are concentrated among the few, the shareholders, the politically connected; and any liabilities or losses are spread out among the many, the taxpayers, the politically disassociated.
Having recently lived in Germany for 20 years, I can tell you that McDonald’s entry level employees are paid 440 Euro per month, and after an apprentice ship should they become full time employees, are then paid 880 Euro per month, unless they become managers. Most are required to speak at least German and English. Germany’s taxes are quite high on anyone who works, and are currently at approximately 51% which includes a person’s right to socialized medicine services. If anyone thinks that they can live in a German city (that can support a McDonald’s) on the remainder of that salary after taxes, that person would be wrong. Germany divides their youth into a college tract and a trade tract about at the equivalency of a 9th grade level. These days that is about a 50/50 split, which is why so many Germans still live with their families. They simply cannot afford to live on their own, or raise a family otherwise. Burger King, Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken are also guilty of these same wages in Germany.
“We get wise to them. That’s our strength.” (A Face in the Crowd)
John Lawrence says
We should be adamant that there be no taxpayer subsidies for another football stadium that most San Diegans will not even be able to afford to go to. If it weren’t for taxpayer subsidies, professional football would not even be profitable for the Spanos’ or anyone else. Let the market decide in this case. This is a capitalistic enterprise that should live or die without government support. Government support is needed to provide for the homeless, rebuild infrastructure and a whole host of other things, but not to support a profit making enterprise for rich people.
Susan Duerksen says
The argument that low wages are solved by workers getting more education is laughable. The problem is not going away as long as the jobs pay poverty wages. The work needs to be done and the jobs will be filled. If the employees in those jobs are paid too little to cover basic costs of living here, they and the entire local economy will continue to suffer.