Tag Archives | Economy

Ten Shocking Facts About Baltimore

English: Riot police form a line to push back protesters and media, Baltimore, April 28, 2015. via VOA

English: Riot police form a line to push back protesters and media, Baltimore, April 28, 2015. via VOA

Bill Quigley writes at CounterPunch:

Were you shocked at the disruption in Baltimore?  What is more shocking is daily life in Baltimore, a city of 622,000 which is 63 percent African American.  Here are ten numbers that tell some of the story.

1:  Blacks in Baltimore are more than 5.6 times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites even though marijuana use among the races is similar.   In fact, Baltimore county has the fifth highest arrest rate for marijuana possessions in the USA.

2: Over $5.7 million has been paid out by Baltimore since 2011 in over 100 police brutality lawsuits.   Victims of severe police brutality were mostly people of color and included a pregnant woman, a 65 year old church deacon, children, and an 87 year old grandmother.

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The Asshole Factory

Surian Soosay (CC BY 2.0)

Surian Soosay (CC BY 2.0)

Umair Haque via Medium:

Our economy doesn’t make stuff anymore. So what does it make?

My good friend Mara has not one but two graduate degrees. From fine, storied universities. Surprise, surprise: the only “job” she was able to find was at a retail store.

Hey—it’s only minimum wage, but at least she’s working, right? And at a major-league, blue-chip company, An American icon; an institution; a name every man, woman, and child in this country knows; an historic company that rings of the American Dream the world over, besides. Surely, if nothing else, it’s a start.

Perhaps you’re right. Maybe it isn’t the start she always dreamed of…but at least it is one. If so…then awaits her at the finish?

What is Mara’s job like? Her sales figures are monitored…by the microsecond. By hidden cameras and mics. They listen to her every word; they capture her every movement; that track and stalk her as if she were an animal; or a prisoner; or both.

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Police Chief Magazine: Possible New Revenue Streams For Law Enforcement

Elvert Barnes (CC BY 2.0)

Elvert Barnes (CC BY 2.0)

In the April edition of The Police Chief magazine, Paul LaCommare, Commander of the West Covina Police Department in West Covina, California, discusses new ways for law enforcement to raise money in light of dwindling revenue streams.

This article was sent to us by a reader who said, “If war is a racket, policing is even more so…”

via Police Chief Magazine:

The common reaction to a budget crisis is reducing personnel and cutting services. The focus of this article is to provide police agencies with an alternative to personnel and service reductions. This alternative could help the survival of a city and maintain or expand police service through generating new revenue streams as a proactive approach to meet the fiscal crisis of today and the uncertain future of tomorrow.

Possible New Revenue Streams

A group of experts in the fields of city government, business, real estate, and entrepreneurship assembled in April 2008 to identify possible new income streams that could be initiated by law enforcement.

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How Privatization Degrades Our Daily Lives

Jason Lawrence (CC BY 2.0)

Jason Lawrence (CC BY 2.0)

Paul Buchheit analyzes privatization at Common Dreams:

The Project on Government Oversight found that in 33 of 35 cases the federal government spent more on private contractors than on public employees for the same services. The authors of the report summarized, “Our findings were shocking.” 

Yet our elected leaders persist in their belief that free-market capitalism works best. Here are a few fact-based examples that say otherwise.

Health Care: Markups of 100%….1,000%….100,000% 

Broadcast Journalist Edward R. Murrow in 1955: Who owns the patent on this vaccine?
Polio Researcher Jonas Salk: Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?

We don’t hear much of that anymore. The public-minded sentiment of the 1950s, with the sense of wartime cooperation still in the minds of researchers and innovators, has yielded to the neoliberal winner-take-all business model.

In his most recent exposé of the health care industry in the U.S., Steve Brill notes that it’s “the only industry in which technological advances have increased costs instead of lowering them.” An investigation of fourteen private hospitals by National Nurses United found that they realized a 1,000% markup on their total costs, four times that of public hospitals. … Read the rest

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Why Cuba, and Why Now? One Missing Perspective on the Story

Unpolluted Caribbean Beach, similar to the endangered beached of Cuba. (Photo: Hugo Marin)

Unpolluted Caribbean Beach, similar to the endangered beached of Cuba. (Photo: Hugo Marin)

Hugo Marin and Joyce Meghan, writing at Common Dreams:

The so-called “thaw” between the United States and Cuba has been celebrated by many on the political Left and Right in the United States, while disdained by those on the far Right. What has been absent from the conversation has been the voice of the Pro-Global South and the Cuban people in Cuba. It is critical for Westerners involved in this debate to organize the information in a global and historical context that centers on the Cuban people and their interests.

The mid-far Left views the thaw as a path toward a positive relationship with Cuba and a means to close the Guantanamo Bay Prison. The bipartisan center views this as a path toward a diplomatic relationship with Cuba that would include vast capitalist opportunities for US corporations.

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The Share-the-Scraps Economy

CC BY-SA HonestReporting.com, flickr/truthout

CC BY-SA HonestReporting.com, flickr/truthout

Robert Reich via Nation of Change:

How would you like to live in an economy where robots do everything that can be predictably programmed in advance, and almost all profits go to the robots’ owners?

Meanwhile, human beings do the work that’s unpredictable – odd jobs, on-call projects, fetching and fixing, driving and delivering, tiny tasks needed at any and all hours – and patch together barely enough to live on.

Brace yourself. This is the economy we’re now barreling toward.

They’re Uber drivers, Instacart shoppers, and Airbnb hosts. They includeTaskrabbit jobbers, Upcounsel’s on-demand attorneys, and Healthtap’s on-line doctors.

They’re Mechanical Turks.

The euphemism is the “share” economy. A more accurate term would be the “share-the-scraps” economy.

New software technologies are allowing almost any job to be divided up into discrete tasks that can be parceled out to workers when they’re needed, with pay determined by demand for that particular job at that particular moment.

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Gaza’s Kids Seek A Voice Amidst the Chaos


Abby Zimet writes at Common Dreams:

A severe winter storm dubbed Huda this week brought ever more suffering to the long-suffering residents of Gaza, especially the over 100,000 people left homeless by last summer’s Israeli assault – an assault whose aftermath former UN special rapporteur Richard Falk has just declared “catastrophic…a form of massive state terror directed at the entire population of Gaza.” The storm, added to existing hardships in Gaza, has prompted Palestinian authorities to declare a state of emergency.

Huda unleashed heavy cold rains that caused widespread flooding, brutal winds and hail in Gaza, along with snow and even colder temperatures for Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon. With a still-blockaded Gaza having received less than 2 percent of an estimated 5 million tons of materials needed to rebuild, between 100,000 and 170,000 Gazans still lack adequate shelter and live huddled in tents, rubble or half-demolished homes. They also lack power – because Gaza’s sole power station was bombed by Israel last summer – and fuel, because the Israeli-Egyptian blockade continues.

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Let’s Abolish West Point: Military Academies Serve No One, Squander Millions of Tax Dollars

Via Salon:

Many pundits have suggested that the Republicans’ midterm gains were fueled by discontent not merely with the president or with the (improving) state of the economy, but with government in general and the need to fund its programs with taxes.  Indeed, the Republican Party of recent decades, inspired by Ronald Reagan’s exhortation to “starve the [government] beast,” has been anti-tax and anti-government. Government programs, as many of their thinkers note, primarily exist to perpetuate their own existence. At the very least, they have to justify that existence.

In the spirit of hands across the aisle, I’d like to suggest that the first thing the new Republican majority devote itself to is not, say, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), but to converting the four hugely expensive and underproductive U.S. service academies (Navy, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard) — taxpayer-funded undergraduate institutions whose products all become officers in the military — to more modest and functional schools for short-term military training programs, as the British have repurposed Sandhurst.

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10 Good Things About the Year 2014

(Photo: Daniel Arauz/flickr/cc)

(Photo: Daniel Arauz/flickr/cc)

Medea Benjamin writes at Common Dreams:

It’s been a year of fervent activism on police accountability, living wages, climate change, personal freedoms, immigrant rights, an open internet and diplomacy over war. The electoral beating the Democrats received has prompted both the Administration and some spineless congresspeople to realize that support for progressive issues could reinvigorate their base —a realization that has already led to Obama’s executive action on immigration and the opening to Cuba.

So here are some of the 2014 highlights.

1. Uprising for police accountability. The movement for police accountability has swept the nation, spawning brilliant new leaders from communities most affected, giving a voice to the families who have lost loved ones and opening people’s eyes to the militarization of our police forces. It is an organic, grassroots movement destined to have a transformative impact on the struggle for racial equality. Keep an eye out in 2015 for CODEPINK’s campaign to demilitarize the police, Communities Organize to Demilitarize Enforcement.

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The Middle Class is Poorer Today Than it Was in 1989

Foreclosedhome.JPG

Photo by Brendel (CC)

No surprises for guessing who hogged the gains in the economy over the last 25 years. Yes, you guessed it, the wealthy 1%, per the Washington Post:

The fundamentals of the economy are, well, okay.

It’s been slow and steady, but the recovery has chugged along enough to get us back to something close to normal. The economy has surpassed its pre-crisis peak, unemployment is at a six-year low, and stocks have more than tripled from their 2009 low. It’s not the best of times, but it’s certainly not the worst — which was a very real possibility after Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy threatened to send us into a second Great Depression.

President Obama and his fellow Democrats, naturally, would like to claim some of the credit for that. If voters credited them with this economic turnaround, Obama and his party might have a better chance of holding the Senate this fall, an outcome that looks precarious.

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