Do you think you have a good picture of how unequal the distribution of wealth is in the United States? A 2010 survey by Harvard economist Dan Ariely and Mike Norton asked 5,000 Americans to graph their understanding of how wealth is distributed in the United States, as well as what they thought an ideal distribution would look like. The results were eye-opening. This video graphically displays the perceived, the “ideal” and the actual (2010) distribution of wealth captured in this study. Admittedly the study is a bit dated now, but I would bet dollars to doughnuts that the distribution hasn’t gotten any more equitable, and in fact all signs point toward it having gotten substantially worse. [Read more…]
Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism provides numerous examples of corporations taking advantage of natural disasters to privatize public resources and utilities. Could Puerto Rico’s water supply be the next target? [Read more…]
Remember in 2012 when Kansas Governor Sam Brownback launched his “live experiment” in conservative governance? Cutting taxes was going to spur growth and create jobs. So how did that work out? Meet Mike – a Republican farmer from Kansas who has experienced first-hand what happens when the GOP cuts taxes for the rich. Now, he’s calling for #NotOnePenny in tax cuts for the wealthy: notonepenny.org. [Read more…]
Aaron Maté of the Real News discusses with labor leader Hector Figueroa the impact of Puerto Rico’s economic debt on the recovery efforts in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria. Figueroa presents the case that Puerto Rico needs to be given the same consideration as was given AIG, Lehman Bros. and the big Wall Street banks that were bailed out. “We need a Marshall Plan for Puerto Rico the same way we did have a Marshall Plan for the European countries after World War II.” [Read more…]
We’ve all heard that refrain “Small business is the backbone of our economy” but is it true? John Oliver examines recent trends, noting for example that the airline industry has gone from ten major carriers in 2006 to only four today. The auto rental car industry has shrunk to only three major companies that account for 90% of the business, and 70% of the American beer industry is represented by only two companies. Often this lack of diversity is hidden by clever marketing and branding that obfuscates the true ownership of product lines. Could this lack of diversity have negative consequences? You bet! And John covers some of his favorites (culminating in some pyrotechnics with a cable box!).
This is could be a dicey issue for John since the show’s parent company Time-Warner is attempting to merge with AT&T. Kudos to John for having the courage take on this issue in spite of the potential for retaliation. And he pulls it off while poking fun at some of his colleagues in the industry. [Read more…]
I’ve been reviewing various reports about the proposed ballot measure and special election that seeks to increase the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). Proponents tell us this is needed to fund a Convention Center expansion, pave our streets, and provide shelter for homeless people- wow! [Read more…]
By Dave Rice / OB Rag
How well can one eat for less than $5 a day? My family is about to find out.
According to the latest available statistics, 285,000 people in San Diego County receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Once referred to as “food stamps,” here the government food assistance program goes under the moniker CalFresh.
The average benefit for a program participant is currently $4.18 a day, down from $4.27 eight months ago. As I’m quickly learning, those few pennies can quickly add up.
The Great Recession, a new study shows, has driven the sharpest decline in reported happiness since researchers started collecting consistent data.
By Josh Hoxie / Inequality.Org
On average, our economy tanks every seven years or so. By now we should have a pretty good idea of why that tanking happens, how we can protect ourselves, and what the impact will be. Unfortunately, we don’t. [Read more…]
“It’s one thing to oppose President Trump and expose his broken promises to workers, but it’s also important to lay out a positive path forward”
By Deidre Fulton / Common Dreams
The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) on Tuesday unveiled its “People’s Budget,” offering a vision of economic equality and fairness that comes in sharp contrast to the Trump administration’s “slash-and-burn approach to governing based on ideological extremism.”
The People’s Budget: A Roadmap for the Resistance (pdf) includes a $2 trillion infrastructure investment; closes corporate tax loopholes; ensures families don’t pay more than 10 percent of their income for childcare; and supports progressive measures such as a minimum wage increase, clean energy expansion, and debt-free college. Bottom line, the caucus said Tuesday, the document “puts political and economic power back in the hands of the people.” [Read more…]
By Rafael Bautista / San Diego Tenants United
San Diego is the 4th most expensive city in the United States. It is considered the second worst city for renters in the country and it is the largest city in California without rent control. Rents are increasing 4 times faster than incomes and the economic downturn actually created an upward spike in rental prices. According to Rent Jungle, as of March 2017, one bedroom apartments in San Diego rent for $1771/month on average and two bedroom apartment rents average $2197/month.
One full time minimum wage worker can’t even pay rent with their entire, pre-tax, monthly income. Thus, in America’s Finest City, two incomes are needed to live a life of mere subsistence. The truth is that too many working people are only one to two pay checks from being homeless. High rents, low incomes, a housing shortage and substandard living conditions are part of the 12 year housing crisis and the explosion in our homeless population. [Read more…]
Bill to expand Social Security ‘gives lie to the myth’ that safety net program is going bankrupt
By Deidre Fulton / Common Dreams
Legislation that would expand benefits for Social Security recipients while giving millions of seniors a tax break was re-introduced in the U.S. House on Wednesday, with support from over two-thirds of the Democratic caucus—and, its backers hope, from large swaths of the grassroots resistance movement.
Rep. John Larson’s (D-Conn.) bill, the “Social Security 2100 Act” or H.R. 1902, bears more co-sponsors than any other previous proposal to expand Social Security.
It “gives lie to the myth that Social Security is going bankrupt and the only way to save it is by cutting benefits and raising the retirement age,” said National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare president Max Richtman upon its unveiling. “This legislation asks the wealthy to start paying their fair share so that current and future retirees know that Social Security is there for them well into the future—solid, strong, and uncompromised.” [Read more…]
My kids experience little socioeconomic diversity – am I doing them a disservice?
By Rachel Stewart Johnson, Ph.D.
I grew up in a working class neighborhood outside Denver. It was a suburban tract housing development of “starter homes” built in the early 1970s. One could find well-manicured properties, but also an abundance of crab grass and dandelions. An apartment complex occupied a large lot behind us, blocking much of our view of the Rocky Mountains to the west.
My children have different stories than mine. Here, in twenty-first century San Diego, the school district has a week off in February known as “Ski Week.” My kids have been to countless birthday celebrations through the years, where they have jumped on many square feet of trampolines, ridden ponies, petted exotic animals, played laser tag and paintball, and visited Snow White. Fourth graders at our elementary school can take a one-day trip to the state capitol by airplane, a 14-hour excursion with a $470 price tag.
This is a bubble, most definitely. The question is whether that matters, whether the affluence my children are surrounded by is a boon or harm to their moral compasses. [Read more…]