Maybe there are a few Republicans left who are not fascists.
Maybe there are a few Republicans left who are not fascists.
I’m in one of those “shelter-in-place” counties in the Bay Area. I suspect a lot of people don’t get it until they’re actually in it. Every business is closed except certain essential services like groceries. You need to see it to believe it (risking being puled over if you drive to see it, though.)
The first thing to say about it is, we’re in lockdown and most of the country is not. That means the virus will continue to spread and until everyone is locked down it can circle back to us, so we’ll be staying in lockdown. (I’m sure China feels this way right now.)
The second thing I see that I think people not in lockdown don’t see, a significant number of local businesses are going to run out of money very soon. They’re closed. Lots of smaller businesses are notoriously undercapitalized, just like how lots of people can’t come up with $500 for an emergency. So this means sending cash to people is NOT going to help these businesses because “more people with money coming through the door” doesn’t work if the door is closed in a lockdown. Again: A significant number of local businesses will not be coming back.
Remember how financiers bought up foreclosed houses after the 2008 crash? And now we have a rent crisis? That is what will happen to local/regional businesses if we don’t have a plan ready to put the local owners back in business. The giant companies will be getting bailouts. Wall Street is itching to use their bailout money to buy up these businesses. We need a plan.
Silicon Valley is an area of contrasts. When you stop at a traffic light in Silicon Valley you will often find a Maserati or Tesla on one side of you and a beaten up, 15-year-old Accord on the other. It seems there are more high-end Mercedes, Jaguars, Bentleys or the occasional Maybach than in other areas.
Silicon Valley companies, many run by stock-billionaires, pay a lot at the top, and squat at the bottom. There are the lucky employees, and a huge number of “contractors” – employees who are not called employees. The employees that reach over a certain age are discarded.
There are not a lot of people in the space between Silicon Valley’s top and its bottom. One in three Silicon Valley workers cannot even afford to live anywhere within a one-hour drive. The regular three-bedroom house costs a million dollars and don’t even ask about the rents (starting at more than $2,000 a month for a one bedroom apartment), but on the streets in working-class neighborhoods there are so many cars parked that you can barely pass – because there are so many people and families crammed into the housing. And, of course, the traffic is terrible, but you have to use a car because public transportation is cut back due to tax-dodging by giant companies like those in Silicon Valley.
While construction of other high-speed rail lines around the country has been blocked, California’s line between San Francisco and Los Angeles is actually getting built. This single project is triggering a lot of potential American hiring.
As it proceeds, we should build pressure to bring high-speed transportation – and the jobs and economic boom that will follow – to other gridlocked areas of the country.
California’s highways and airways are reaching capacity, and the population is only expected to grow – a lot. You can only build so many highways and new airports. And more and more cars and planes are not particularly good for the environment.
California’s deficits are gone, and Republicans are furious. The national deficit problem is largely solved, too, and Republicans just don’t know what to do! Of course what we need to do is invest in modernizing our infrastructure, which will put people back to work and we will end up with a … wait for it … modernized, energy-efficient, 21st century infrastructure that will boost our economy.
Learn From California
In California Republicans caused the deficit with tax cuts and restrictions on democracy that prevented citizens from fixing problems. They blocked every attempt to help the economy and the state budgets, demanding only cuts — and more tax cuts for billionaires and corporations. But California’s citizens finally got them out of the way, elected Jerry Brown (again), elected a supermajority of Democrats, passed tax increases, and the budget is balanced and will be in surplus soon. Republicans can’t stand it. They have no more excuse to scream “crisis!” and call for cuts in the things California’s citizens do for each other and the state’s economy. Now alifornia is moving forward, and even building a high-speed rail system.
If this sounds strangely familiar there’s a national lesson to learn here.
In California there is a dangerous, deceptive proposition on the ballot that promises to get “special interest” money out of our elections, and is being sold as a way to stop the flood of corporate money. But actually this proposition doesn’t stop corporate money at all — it only stops political activity by unions. If it passes this means that from now on only corporate money will fund California’s elections.
Here is how Prop 32 is being sold to the public: “Politicians take millions in campaign contributions from corporations and government unions and then vote the way those special interests tell them.”
Here is the trick: it bans use of money collected from the paychecks of union members. This pretty much means all union money is banned. But corporations do not use paycheck deductions to get the money they use! Only unions do! Then Prop 32 specifies that corporations can’t put money into elections, so here are the types of businesses that are exempted:
And, to make matters even worse, Prop 32 prohibits “government contractors” from political activity. But it is worded to prohibit any government employee unions from political activity, because these unions have employment contracts with state or local governments.
While it very loosely defines corporations in a way that keeps business interests open to funding campaigns, here is how it defines unions:
“Labor union”” means any organization of any kind, or any agency or employee representation committee or plan, in which employees participate and which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours of employment, or conditions of work.
ANY organization that represents the interests of working people is banned from politics if this law passes. Think about that.
Guess who is funding this proposition? (Hint, as if you needed one: it’s the Koch Brothers, Karl Rove’s corporate front group, big corporations, and others.)
AFL-CIO: Kochs Send Millions to Silence California Workers with Prop. 32
AFL-CIO: California’s Prop. 32: How Does It Affect Union Members?
California Labor Federation page with information about Prop 32.
Stop the Special Exemptions Act
Rick Jacobs: Mitt + Koch = Prop 32 Ways to Buy CA,
The Kochs and Rove understand that if they can keep union money out of politics, they win hands down. If Prop32 passes in California, one-third of SEIUs political budget is gone, with sizeable chunks taken from the AFL-CIO and just about any other big national union you can think of.
Full text of Prop 32 here. Also at Ballotpedia.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Silicon Valley’s crown jewel, Palo Alto just got mowed down last evening by AT&T. To be specific AT&T effectively tied the hands of many of the City policymakers, and then plowed through the City Council and over 35 residents leaving their bodies scattered on the sidewalks in their wake. Using the big stick approach, they bullied and threatened action in the Federal court system if their addendum to their existing site permit was not approved; and the Council caved to the mighty sword sacrificing many of their downtown rental residents. Most troubling is that with these actions of passing this addendum for the mounting of two AT&T antennas on this residential building, this City Council may have set a precedent to severely limit tenants’ rights going forward in this particular city and longer term in the state. Commercial building owners may now have enlarged rights that grant them the ability to railroad their tenants with whatever side businesses they choose. If this decision by Palo Alto holds, California may be able to rewrite the Civil Codes that govern the rights granted to landlords by allowiing them to enter the premises far beyond the scope of maintenance and/or emergency. You see the only way to get to this balcony is by gaining access through the bedrooms of the residents.
Effectively this City Council has opened a hornet’s nest that may continue to sting them as this decision raises questions of social justice for over 40% of the City’s residents, of which over 70% are management or other professionals in the tech industry. We all know that we live in a society that is fraught with corporate collusion, fraud and bad behavior. Yet it is troubling to see this kind of reprehensible behavior in our own backyard without tacit consideration for the privacy, health and/or safety of the rental residents. Palo Alto is a city that is full of bright entrepreneurs willing to risk it all to create technologies that can change the world. Sadly, none of them signed up to give away their rights. Who would have thought that liberal Palo Alto, the place of big dreams, would sink to this level! Most importantly, what is to prevent other such activities that suggest some degree of collusion between the private and public sectors? Not much with this precedent setting action, huh? Will Palo Alto become a city that only protects their landed gentry? With this decision, they are certainly well on their way to solely protecting property owners over the serfs that rent.
Taking this further, can building owners throughout the City now run either brothels or daycare centers while residents are working during the day or evening? After all given this recently enacted City precedent – building owners now have the right to discount the objections of their tenants to cut whatever side deal that want. This means that building owners can engage in mixed use and side deals regardless of the vocal protests of their tenants. As outrageous as this may seem, this is the box that has been pried open with last evening’s decision and it may prove to a gift that keeps on giving. The young, the bright and the able may now choose to take their start-ups elsewhere and be treated far better in the short and longer term. Maybe there were bigger reasons that Facebook, the symbol of all that is good in Palo Alto, has chosen to jump ship and move to a neighboring city.
Note: This post will appear in other blogs.
This fall I was invited to cover the the Keep It Made In America Tour put on by the Alliance for American Manufacturing. I spent a week driving around Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, ejoying the fall colors and visiting small towns all along the way.
I live in Silicon Valley where in spite of the high unemployment — still 10.6% — it’s still pretty nice here, so the extent and especially breadth of the decline of so many cities and towns was a shock. Everywhere you go you see America’s infrastructure crumbling! Of course I know this has been going on, but when you actually come from somewhere that is still pretty nice and see it firsthand – and everywhere – you really see it.
As I drove around these states I saw pretty much the same thing in town after town. As you approach the town on the highway the first thing you encounter is what I will call the vulture circle that surrounds it. This is the circle of Wall Street-owned chains emulating the Wal-Mart model of sucking cash out of the area and sending it away to the wealthy elites who own … almost everything now. These are the national chains that are all the same in every town, all selling the same stuff, all made in China, all putting the local small businesses out of business.
As you drive into town the next thing you encounter is the circle of home equity extraction, with newer houses that have taken on big first and second Wall Street mortgages. These houses mostly look OK — except the foreclosures with the brown lawns and grass growing in the cracks in the driveway. This area has car dealers and strip malls that used to sell expensive cars or nice goods. These dealers and stores feasted on those “take money out of your house” refinancings or second mortgages. Now they have nail and hair salons or are just “for lease.”
As you get closer to the center of town you come to the areas of older houses, more of them boarded up than you want to see, with old, boarded-up stores on a few of the corners of the larger streets. Where there are still-occupied houses they have bars on the windows.
Finally you come to the old, crumbling downtown where there are many empty storefronts, some boarded, the lost dreams of the local small business-owners. Here and there you see, between the vacant lots, a few government buildings.
And then somewhere is what they always call “the old plant.” This is one or more closed-up, fenced-off, rusting old factories or mills. They are fenced off, with lots of broken windows, and maybe part of a building is falling down. This is where the people used to work but the jobs moved to Mexico or China.
Much of the country is like this now. So many of the older small towns, crumbling, the money sucked out by the Wall Street elite. The factories sold off, closed. The people can’t make a living, the towns can’t make a living, the country can’t make a living, the Wall Street elite making a killing.
You can see the process starting here in Silicon Valley, too. As you drive around this area you see that one of every four or five office or light-industrial buildings has an “Available” sign. The region has the same number of manufacturing jobs as it had when the “tech revolution” began. The rest have moved to China. We don’t make cell phones here. We don’t make flat-screen TVs here. We don’t make computers here. We certainly don’t make iPads here — even though Jobs is his name!
Even exclusive Palo Alto has empty storefronts on the main drag. (You know the economy is bad when the rug stores on University Avenue are actually going out of business!) It is even happening here. It will get worse.
In July Intel’s retired CEO and Chairman Andy Grove wrote an important opinion piece,
How to Make an American Job Before It’s Too Late, in which he warned,
Clearly, the great Silicon Valley innovation machine hasn’t been creating many jobs of late — unless you are counting Asia, where American technology companies have been adding jobs like mad for years.
[. . .] As time passed, wages and health-care costs rose in the U.S., and China opened up. American companies discovered they could have their manufacturing and even their engineering done cheaper overseas. When they did so, margins improved. Management was happy, and so were stockholders. Growth continued, even more profitably. But the job machine began sputtering.
Please take the time to read Grove’s entire piece.
The storm that created the rust belt is heading our way, and we need to pay attention. What will it take for American companies to create American jobs rather than jobs outside America?
This post originally appeared at Speak Out California.
You have to see this ad. How close is it to the Republicans in your own state?
Sometimes it sounds like they are reading from a script, because they are.
Meg blinked for the first time in an almost flawless campaign. Until this week, it appeared that the GOP had successfully rolled out their new product — a conservative, ambitious businesswoman with a big check book. Her branding was effective and her television advertising brilliant. Political consultant Mike Murphy earned his money. Team Meg was launched, and they were relentless. Nothing really hampered or stuck to them until “the blink” — involving her domestic help in her Atherton hacienda (no pun intended).
To be blunt, Jerry Brown sure caught a big break this week. The race was in a dead heat with Brown moving slightly ahead, and many independents still on the sidelines. To be frank, Brown had virtually run an invisible campaign until right after Labor Day. Many Democrats thought he could afford the luxury of sitting on his laurels (maybe) because of his legacy. But the reality was that Meg could not and she had to spend early and often to create her brand. Many of feared that she a runaway train in hand-to-hand combat with the invisible man. Talk about a scary election for Democrats. It is one that will become a case study in politics and branding for years to come.
Well the wheel spun and the dice were thrown. Lady luck came down on Jerry this week. It’s kind of like watching Apple’s latest iPhone launch and their goof. The question is will Team Meg will have the staying power to sustain a frontal attack. Their campaign is now playing defense, and under fire that the candidate never saw coming. The domestic help issue is a big no-no. It has taken down many political candidates and appointments over the years. She probably did not understand the severity because if she had it would have been cleaned up. Let’s face it, Meg is a political virgin but her advisors are not. It remains to be seen how this potentially fatal crisis is handled by Team Meg. How will this react, and how will the Brown campaign handle itself? Dancing a jig on an open casket won’t cut it for them. Will Team Brown leverage the avalanche of earned media? Will they play well with social media? Or will they sit on the sidelines? It remains to be seen as this California soap opera continues to unfold.
This article posted to the Huffington Post earlier today.
This post originally appeared at Speak Out California.
Many of us have wondered what conservatives mean by terms like “big government” and “freedom.” Today the vice chairman of the California Republican Party gives us a hint. In Constitution guarantees freedom, not a cushy life, published in the Rev. Moon’s Washington Times (do Christians know he’s writing there?), Thomas G. Del Beccaro writes,
Today, politicians literally speak of the “rights” of people as they attempt to guarantee a certain standard of living for their constituent-subjects. Of course, most recently, the federal government took on the role of guaranteeing that Americans had a minimum standard of health care because, to the government, it was a right – however unenumerated.
Now, it would be one thing if a government could actually guarantee such standards of living, but it cannot. After all, before the Great Society was enacted to take on the War on Poverty, the government-measured poverty rate was 14 percent.The pre-Great Society federal budget was less than $130 billion.Since then, we have spent tens of trillions of dollars in good intentions and have a nearly $4 trillion budget, yet the poverty rate remains virtually the same 14 percent.
In the process, of course, we have diminished freedoms immeasurably – whether by forcing people to pay for those trillions or by being forced to be subject to government rules….
So “big government” means more rights for Americans, like the right to health care. And by “freedom” he means not being “forced” to help out other Americans. (Of course, the poverty rate was much lower before conservatives took over the government a few years back…)
Take a look at this: Leadership, not Politics | Peter Schurman for Governor