5 of the Worst Cities to Be a Renter Unless You’re Fabulously Wealthy

I have this up over at AlterNet: 5 of the Worst Cities to Be a Renter Unless You’re Fabulously Wealthy,

The housing market is supposedly recovering, yet the homeownership rate is dropping. Meanwhile rents in urban areas were already high but now are absolutely skyrocketing. What’s going on? As millions lost their homes many of the houses were and are being bought up by large investors. And what do these investors want? They want rent and lots of it. According to a NY Times report, In Many Cities, Rent Is Rising Out of Reach of Middle Class, “In December, Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan declared ‘the worst rental affordability crisis that this country has ever known.’ ”

Click through to read the rest.

Meet the Billionaires Using Their Immense Wealth to Make Life Miserable for Ordinary Americans

I wrote this for AlterNet: Meet the Billionaires Using Their Immense Wealth to Make Life Miserable for Ordinary Americans: 5 examples of billionaires pushing a right-wing economic agenda.

Here is how it works these days: You start hearing about a big, national problem and then it becomes a drumbeat. First there are a few articles and columns mentioning that such-and-such is a problem. Then a number of articles appear, then a “study” from a “think tank” confirms the problem and sounds the alarm about how terrible it is, and then just as the issue seems to be the only thing you are hearing about a solution is presented. Of course, the solution always involves taking something away from you and giving it to some company or industry standing in front of a billionaire or three. The right question to start asking when you hear about these “problems” is which billionaire is driving this.

Here are five-plus examples of billionaires who use their money to try to get us to think what they want us to think in order to enact a right-wing economic agenda.

Go read the rest at AlterNet!

8 Phony GOP Solutions for Poverty That Will Only Bring More Economic Pain

I wrote this for AlterNet: 8 Phony GOP Solutions for Poverty That Will Only Bring More Economic Pain,

On the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty, Republicans are whipping out “compassionate conservatism” again, in an attempt to rebrand themselves as something other than the harsh, anti-poor, anti-women, anti-minority, anti-gay, anti-everything wingnuts they have been showing us they are. It’s a strategy Republicans default to when they’ve taken things to such an extreme that the country is revolted. And here we are with Republicans pretending to have proposals geared toward fighting poverty instead of just boosting the fortunes of those who already have huge fortunes.

Read the rest at AlterNet.

The Left Hook – A New Progressive Blog For Silicon Valley

Take a look at a newcomer to the scene: The Left Hook: Politics with a Punch.

“The Left Hook offers a progressive perspective on issues that impact Silicon Valley. We stand for social and economic justice, and our writers seek to advance those values by bringing to light current events and issues that too often are neglected. Although this site is curated by the South Bay Labor Council, its subjects will not be limited to labor issues. The Left Hook will provide a platform for a broad spectrum of news and commentary from a wide variety of citizen journalists. ”

On Twitter: @LeftHookBlog

The New Financial Scam Driving Workers Deep Into Debt

I did this for AlterNet: The New Financial Scam Driving Workers Deep Into Debt,

If you can lure people into borrowing then you own them, sometimes literally—it’s a game as old as money itself.

Regular people don’t know much about money, loan terms or the trap of debt-slavery. This enables predators to dangle loans in front of desperate people and entrap them into various forms of financial and even actual servitude. Again and again schemes and scams pop up that trick people into borrowing. Of course, we all know how the credit-card trap has ensnared millions. Car loan terms have gone from two to three and now as long as five or even six years because people think a lower monthly payment is a good thing. In recent years we’ve seen “subprime” mortgages and payday lenders entrap borrowers. Now there is a new predatory lending scheme in operation called “workplace loans.” Keep an eye out for this, it is just one more way for the financial industry to lure workers into debt slavery.

But also keep an eye out for a different form of workplace loan that can actually help employees.

Read the rest at AlterNet.

This Was Good

Last night’s Virtually Speaking was really good, and you can listen to it here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/virtuallyspeaking/2013/12/23/dave-johnson-cliff-schecter-virtually-speaking-sundays-1.

Commentators Dave Johnson (Campaign for America’s Future) & Cliff Schecter (Libertas LLC) discuss:

1) Good public policy as popular public policy. A government jobs program with a minimum wage increase would be both. Moral Mondays as an example of bringing public opinion to bare. Gillibrand’s populist “Opportunity Agenda.”

2) Political satirist CoT’s most ridiculous moment from the morning gabfest.

3) Potential progressive options to Clinton (Sanders, Schweitzer, O’Malley) and the impact they may have on the Democratic Party, and Clinton’s positions and campaign.

Jay Ackroyd moderates. Follow @CliffSchecter @DCJohnson @Bobblespeak @JayAckroyd.

Virtually Speaking Tonite 6pm PT/9pm ET Dave Johnson and Cliff Schecter

Virtually Speaking is a regular online “radio” show that you can listen to live while it is recorded, or later (and on Podcast.)

This week, commentators Dave Johnson (Campaign for America’s Future) & Cliff Schecter (Libertas LLC) talk about good public policy as popular public policy and how a government jobs program with a minimum wage increase would be both, e.g. Moral Mondays and Gillibrand’s populist “Opportunity Agenda

A ridiculous moment from Culture of Truth

Then potential progressive options to a Clinton candidacy e.g., Sanders, Schweitzer, O’Malley; and the impact they may have on the Democratic Party as well as Clinton’s positions and campaign.

You can listen live or any time later http://www.blogtalkradio.com/virtuallyspeaking/2013/12/23/dave-johnson-cliff-schecter-virtually-speaking-sundays-1.

You can also get Virtually Speaking on Podcasts.

5 Signs the Rich Have Way Too Much Money

I have an article up at alterNet: 5 Signs the Rich Have Way Too Much Money,

Here’s something to read after you get done trying to figure out how to make the mortgage or the rent or the car payment this month. It’s a little story about how the other half lives. Well, maybe not the other half, exactly. More like the obscenely wealthy .01%.

What do you do when you just have too darn much money? Let’s say you already have your mansion(s), your jet, your yacht, your cars, your $50,000 watches, and you’ve still got too much money left over. (Yes, this really is a problem some people have.) While many, many Americans are struggling to get by, and a very few ultra-wealthy have too much money, here are five signs that the rich are just too rich.

Click through to read 5 Signs the Rich Have Way Too Much Money.

Don’t Cut — Lower the Retirement Age and Open Up More Jobs

I have a post up over at Bill Moyers’ website: Don’t Cut — Lower the Retirement Age and Open Up More Jobs. The main points are:

1) Lowering the retirement age opens up jobs and,

2) Lowering the Medicare eligibility age takes the most expensive people out of the private insurance pool, which lowers everyone else’s premiums, and these people then become the lease expensive people in Medicare, which lowers the cost-per-person.

Virtually Speaking Tonite 6pm PT – 9pm ET

Virtually Speaking Sundays – 6p PT/9p ET

Listen live or later http://www.blogtalkradio.com/virtuallyspeaking/2013/10/21/dave-johnson-cliff-schecter-vs-sundays

Dave Johnson & Cliff Schecter offer a counterpoint to the Sunday morning media shows. Jay Ackroyd hosts. Likely:

• The return of the austerity and grand bargain narratives, including the appointment of New Democrats Chris Van Hollen, James Clyburn and Nita Lowey to the budget negotiation committee.

• GOP in disarray. Are the Teahadists chastened or emboldened by the loss?

• PPACA. Particularly the tension between identifying problems and defending it from attack

Plus satirical commentary from Culture of Truth.

Follow @DCJohnson @CliffSchecter @JayAckroyd @Bobblespeak

The VS Media Panel: Avedon Carol, Cliff Schecter, Dave Dayen, Dave Johnson, Dave Waldman, Digby, Gaius Publius, Joan McCarter, Marcy Wheeler & Stuart Zechman.

Listen live or later http://www.blogtalkradio.com/virtuallyspeaking/2013/10/21/dave-johnson-cliff-schecter-vs-sundays

Virtually Speaking Tonite 6pm PT – 9pm ET

Virtually Speaking Sundays – 6p PT/9p ET

Political & social commentators Dave Johnson & David Waldman & Jay Ackroyd offer a counter point to the Sunday morning talk shows. Plus political satire from Culture of Truth.

This week: #Gunfail in the NYTimes. Obamacare launch. Republican infighting. War vs diplomacy.

Follow @dcjohnson @kagroX @JayAckroyd @Bobblespeak

The VS Media Panel: Avedon Carol, Cliff Schecter, Dave Dayen, Dave Johnson, Dave Waldman, Digby, Gaius Publius, Joan McCarter, Marcy Wheeler & Stuart Zechman.

Listen live or later http://www.blogtalkradio.com/virtuallyspeaking/2013/09/30/dave-johnson-dave-waldman-virtually-speaking-sundays