fresh voices from the front lines of change








Sam Pizzigati

A Nation Where Only The Rich Have Homes?

San Francisco, recent research shows, now has more billionaires per capita than any other city in the world. By one reckoning, San Francisco also has the highest cost of living in the world, as all those billionaires — and the rest of the city’s ultra rich — bid up prices on the most desirable local real estate. But the Bay Area squeeze goes beyond the confines of San Francisco. Nearby Oakland and Berkeley are facing enormous affordable housing shortages as well. The Bay Area as a whole now has more than 30,000 homeless. Two-thirds of these homeless Californians haven’t been able to find temporary sheltering services. They live and sleep outdoors, many in lines of RVs parked along public right-of-ways like the waterfront in Berkeley. And that has infuriated nearby residents who’ve paid big bucks for their residences. Local officials in Bay Area cities don’t know quite what to do. On one side, they have people without shelter who have real and unmet human needs. On the other, they have angry affluents with shelter who see their neighborhoods under siege from homeless hordes. The more people spend on housing, Berkeley councilperson Katy Harrison has come to understand, the more "aggrieved" they feel. "Only the one percent here," she adds, "feel economically secure."

How Bad Economics Create Inequality

‘Socialism for the rich’: the evils of bad economics. The Guardian: "The economic arguments adopted by Britain and the US in the 1980s led to vastly increased inequality – and gave the false impression that this outcome was not only inevitable, but good. In most rich countries, inequality is rising, and has been rising for some time. Many people believe this is a problem, but, equally, many think there’s not much we can do about it. After all, the argument goes, globalisation and new technology have created an economy in which those with highly valued skills or talents can earn huge rewards. Inequality inevitably rises. Attempting to reduce inequality via redistributive taxation is likely to fail because the global elite can easily hide their money in tax havens. Insofar as increased taxation does hit the rich, it will deter wealth creation, so we all end up poorer. Inequality is unlikely to fall much in the future unless our attitudes turn unequivocally against it. Among other things, we will need to accept that how much people earn in the market is often not what they deserve, and that the tax they pay is not taking from what is rightfully theirs."

Protestors Demand Medicare For All At AMA Meeting

Protesters Rally, Disrupt Opening Session at AMA Meeting. MedPage Today: "To chants of "AMA, get out of the way!," a coalition of several hundred doctors, nurses, medical students, community organizers, and patients rallied outside the American Medical Association's (AMA) House of Delegates annual meeting to demand that the organization support a Medicare for All single-payer health system. 'We are here for those who cannot be here today,' Claudia Fegan, MD, national coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), said as the group began gathering at the headquarters of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an organization of Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurers. 'We are here for those who cannot afford their care. Twenty-nine million people are still uninsured and even the insured have deductibles so high they cannot afford their medications.' While the rally was going on outside, a smaller group of about 30 physicians disrupted the meeting's opening session. They marched to the front of the room, held up a large banner reading 'AMA: Support Medicare for All' along with several signs in the shape of gravestones with messages like "Here lies an infant whose mother couldn't afford healthcare" and 'Here lies your friend waiting for insurance approval.' Over a dozen activists sat or lay on the ground in front of the stage, and a few stood on the stage by the podium, while activists in wheelchairs chanted and sang along with the group. A few of the activists also shared stories of patients who were harmed by their lack of health insurance. After 10 or 15 minutes, the activists exited peacefully, flanked by a couple of hotel staff; the activists were singing and chanting 'Ain't going to let nobody turn us around' as they left."

Mexico Faces "Deal Or No Deal" Tariffs

Trump threatens more tariffs on Mexico over part of immigration deal. Reuters: "President Donald Trump on Monday hinted more details were to come about a migration pact the United States signed with Mexico last week, saying another portion of the deal with Mexico would need to be ratified by Mexican lawmakers. He did not provide details but threatened tariffs if Mexico’s Congress did not approve the plan. Last month, Trump threatened 5% tariffs on Mexican goods to be imposed on Monday. The duties would have increased every month until they reached 25% in October, unless Mexico stopped illegal immigration across its border with Mexico. On Friday, the tariffs were called off, after the United States and Mexico announced an agreement on immigration. The joint communique issued by the two countries provided few details. Critics have said there have been no new major commitments to slow the migration of Central Americans to the United States."

John Dean Testifies To Congress

John Dean, subpoena vote, rare open counter-intelligence hearing in Congress this week. NBC: "House Democrats this week will take their most forceful steps yet since taking the majority against President Donald Trump and his administration as they vote on a contempt resolution, invigorate their subpoena power and hold a key congressional hearing on the Mueller report. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has faced growing pressure from lawmakers to ramp up their oversight of the president and his administration, with 60 Democrats — more than a quarter of the caucus — pushing for the House Judiciary Committee to open a presidential impeachment inquiry, a push that's sparked divisions among some top members of the caucus. The plan for the full House to vote to enforce the subpoenas for Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn comes after both failed to comply with congressional subpoenas to offer testimony and documents requested by Democrats."

WH Wanted Kobach To Hide Role In Citizenship Poll

Kobach discussed census citizenship question with 2016 Trump campaign. NPR: "More than a year before the Trump administration formally asked the Census Bureau to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, Kris Kobach discussed including the question with officials during President Trump's 2016 election campaign. Kobach disclosed the latest insight into the behind-the-scenes discussions about the hotly contested census question during an interview earlier this week as part of a House Oversight and Reform Committee investigation into the question. Staffers for the committee's Democrats released transcript excerpts on Friday. The revelation pushes the origins of the question within the administration back to as early as the last presidential race. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau and approved adding the question, previously testified to Congress that the Justice Department 'initiated' the request for the question in December 2017. Ross later backtracked in a court filing, saying he began considering the question 'soon after' he was appointed in February 2017, while noting that 'other senior Administration officials had previously raised' the issue. In his interview with House oversight committee staffers, Kobach also confirmed that shortly after the president's inauguration in January 2017, he met with Trump about the issue, as The Kansas City Star first reported. Kobach said he also discussed it with Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist and Reince Priebus, the president's former chief of staff."

WH Seeks To Block Climate Science Testimony

White House Tried to Stop Climate Science Testimony, Documents Show. NYT: "The White House tried to stop a State Department senior intelligence analyst from discussing climate science in congressional testimony this week, internal emails and documents show. The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research declined to make changes to the proposed testimony and the analyst, Rod Schoonover, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, was ultimately allowed to speak before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Wednesday. But in a highly unusual move, the White House refused to approve Dr. Schoonover’s written testimony for entry into the permanent Congressional Record. The reasoning, according to a June 4 email seen by The New York Times, was that the science did not match the Trump administration’s views."

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