Earlier this month, 36 House Republicans filed an amicus court brief to support corporate America’s war on workers’ rights. They are embracing a suit filed by the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Restaurant Association , and other business lobbies to block a new ruling by the National Labor Relations Board.
This ruling, by one of those out-of-control federal government agencies, could be devastating to the job-creating corporations that are the engine of the American economy. Just listen to those who should know:
“The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is causing great uncertainty among manufacturers at a time when our economy is struggling to recover,” Jay Timmons, President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, recently warned.
“Just when we thought we had seen it all from the NLRB, it has reached a new low in its zeal to punish small business owners,”
A recent weekend became a lesson in the new global economy. For two days I emptied out much of the accumulated “stuff” from my garage – dishes, pots and pans that my kids used in their student days; excess furniture; framed posters, old clothes and much more. Some of it went to the Salvation Army, while I took broken things to a recycling center. Obviously I had too many possessions.
On a Saturday afternoon I ventured to Costco for the first time in 10 years. Hundreds of shoppers were busy filling their super-sized carts with large quantities of…..well…everything. Household supplies, bulk food, cleaning fluids, soda, clothing, electronics, furniture. But in quantities you never dreamed you needed (and probably don’t) and for amazingly low per-unit prices. Most of the manufactured goods seemed to come from China.
That Sunday night I rented Last Train Home,
In 1985, my parents began their journey from the rural mountains of Honduras to the United States of America—the land of opportunity. They endured six months of starvation, loneliness and fear of la migra in order to realize their own American dream of stability and prosperity.
My parents took their first job opportunities the moment they came their way — when they did not understand English, had only a Honduran elementary education and needed a source of income fast. My dad became a full-time auto mechanic and my mom a part-time waitress. Although both jobs paid relatively low, had no benefits and called for exhaustingly long hours, my parents continued to keep their heads high and managed to provide the basic necessities for my siblings and myself.
As a first-generation Honduran-American living in Northeast Los Angeles, I am constantly reminded of the struggles and injustices workers face daily. I see discrimination,
I have been a member of the L.A. Community Redevelopment Agency board of commissioners for nine years. That means I’m one of seven decision-makers overseeing the work of the city’s multimillion dollar economic development agency. All of my experience from those nine years can be summarized in the answer to one question: What is a “good deal?”
When is the investment of scarce taxpayer dollars in private development projects a good idea? I know that the answer for some is “never.” That is not – and has never — been my view, (which is why I have been derided by some as a “redevelopment thug.” Fundamentally, the question of the investment worthiness of private economic development projects is one about good government, and how our government should interact with the private market.
I bring this up now because public subsidies to private industry were in the news again recently.
Editor’s Note: The Press-Telegram holds an annual awards ceremony, “Amazing Women of Long Beach.” This year, the newspaper chose to host the event at the worker-boycotted Hilton Long Beach. Responding to their choice to hold the event there, the Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community chose to host a simultaneous event outside the hotel honoring “Inspiring Activist Women of Long Beach.” Some of the activist honorees were slated to receive an award from the Press-Telegram inside the hotel but declined – choosing to support the boycott instead. Daleth Caspeta – a Dream Act Activist and honoree – shares her experience with The Frying Pan.
“When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent; I was not a communist. When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent; I was not a social democrat. When they came for the trade unionists,
Reading the L.A. Business Journal recently, I was a bit taken aback to see a Page Three piece from Charles Crumpley describing a recent trade mission by local business leaders.
These are common, of course, but their destination wasn’t. Apparently long-time LAANE and labor antagonist Carol Schatz and Chamber of Commerce head Gary Toebben took a trip to Cuba. Not only that, Schatz was a key organizer of the event.
Perhaps more shockingly, this was not her first trip. Indeed, she went back in 2003, when she was the wife of Noam Chomsky.
Okay, maybe that’s a different person, though if memory serves (and as time marches on, it does less and less), Carol’s something of a “red-diaper baby. “
Still, I’ve long wondered about the sanity of many of my friends who visit Cuba looking for inspiration.
Zombies have long provided both escapist fare as well as incisive social commentary. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) dealt with race relations in America, while his Dawn of the Dead (1978) addressed American consumerism. We’re currently going through another zombiessance, and while AMC’s The Walking Dead may not be Exhibit A, it may be the apotheosis of the current zombie moment. (Or at least it was in season one; don’t get me started on how disappointing this current season has been.)
The show examines how we (re-)build some semblance of a civilization in the wake of a horrifying event that has decimated the country. At its best, it’s filled with the tension that marks a bare struggle for survival; it never lets you forget that death (and worse) is ever-present.
In a recent episode (minor spoiler alert!),
People clutched their green, numbered tickets for what may have been the most coveted event at the Los Angeles Sports Arena this year. It was still in the early morning hours of Friday, October 21, 2011. The ticket holders were children, teens, parents with infants, students, middle-age folk and senior citizens from various ethnic backgrounds. Some people looked like they took the day off work or class; some looked like they may have underemployed or unemployed, and many may have been homeless. A music concert didn’t draw the 3,571 people from diverse backgrounds to the Los Angeles Sports Arena for four days. It was the chance for free medical care at CareNOW Los Angeles, organized by CareNow, a volunteer-based organization that provides medical services to underserved populations.
I had read about this event last year and was struck by two dueling emotions. On one hand I was deeply touched that doctors,
One of my weekend pleasures is a morning with the Sunday New York Times. I used to feel reading it was disloyal to my hometown, Los Angeles. But as the L.A. Times dramatically shrank and its reporting focus narrowed, I found that there was a lot of news I ended up knowing nothing about. The New York Times, whose heft hasn’t diminished, makes me feel smarter, broadens my world perspective, has editorials that don’t leave me fuming and, as an added bonus, helps me stay abreast of the well-heeled residents of New York– the ones who buy $4.5 million, 6,000 square-foot apartments on the 20th floor of Upper East Side historic buildings; who pass on $20,000 watches to their sons; and who are in the market for summer mansions in the Hamptons or rural Connecticut.
However on a recent weekend an ad in the Times Magazine made me feel that by enjoying the paper I was deserting the American people.
I’m not in the habit of critiquing economic analytical methods in obscure reports—really, I’m not—but there’s something about this one that grates. City Hall’s bending over backward to pander (or at least, they were) to the Occupy L.A. people outside its door, and at the same time considering a tax break that will potentially further devastate the city budget.
The report in question is an analysis by USC Accounting Professor Charles Swenson, and the tax break is the proposed elimination of the city’s business tax. Swenson argues that if the city does so, forgoing $424 million in revenues, it will actually generate 131,000 jobs and generate an additional $263 million above and beyond what the business tax now brings in.
How this happens—other than voodoo – is entirely unclear from the report. Swenson simply presents a series of tables with a series of assertions,
We all know that there’s a massive jobs crisis in our country, but there’s a real debate about how to address it. In Washington, many supposedly serious people suggest that we can create jobs through cutting taxes for corporations, dismantling what’s left of the safety net and rolling back regulations to 2008 standards — not exactly a banner year for job growth. With the Tea Party firmly in control of the House and with elections right around the corner, the mantra for many lawmakers has become “let the market do its magic.” The question for this segment of the Beltway crowd isn’t what government should do, but whether government should do anything at all.
Here in the real world, things are a little bit different. The Occupy movement, which locally has a tent encampment at L.A. City Hall, is a sign of the times. In neighborhoods around the country, and particularly in low-income communities of color like South L.A.,
The symptoms began only four days into my month-long paternity leave. First it was a vague craving, and before long it had crystallized into a very specific need: I just had to find out what was happening back at the office.
Yes, the miraculous newborn in the other room should have offered more than enough fulfillment. But I was jonesing for something not even she could provide.
The problem went way beyond my Crackberry. Truth is, I felt compelled to check work e-mail and even send more than a few to affirm that, beyond my new identity as a dad, I was still relevant — i.e., a loyal, productive employee.
You might be tempted to view my behavior as a bizarre idiosyncrasy (some truth there), or as a natural response to the conditions of my employment — decent wages, extremely generous benefits, flexible schedule, a congenial work environment.
But the fact is,
Though I deal with economic issues all day, I am not an economist and I have no formal economic training. That’s one of the reasons that I really like NPR’s Planet Money podcast. Yes, it has a little too much of a free-market bent for my tastes, but it does a very good job of explaining basic economic issues in lay language and, even more important, it is intellectually honest (which you can’t say about some key business media).
Planet Money recently aired a provocative episode called “Will economic growth destroy the planet?” Their jumping-off point was ostensibly the (purported) trade-off between economic and environmental health, but I found the real lesson in an important insight about how economists think and talk.
Let’s assume that we all agree that economic growth is a good thing. Almost every day, we see some headline or another touting the promise of a government policy or tax incentive or corporate investment to create jobs,
A Notch on Our Bedpost: NCAA “Non-Employees” Make Progress
Through their union, the National College Players Association, some players have been demanding reform, seeking modest changes in the ridiculous NCAA rules. Their list includes allowing schools to cover books and other expenses as part of scholarship offers (something non-sports scholarships can include), and allowing schools to offer multi-year scholarships, rather than have to renew each year—a rule that is particularly onerous, since if a player transfers, he generally must sit out a year.
Apparently the NCAP (and Taylor Branch and, of course, the Frying Pan) is making headway, because yesterday the NCAA announced several rule changes, addressing both of those points.
Hollywood’s luxurious W Hotel was struck and picketed early this morning by more than 100 union members. The housekeepers, bellmen and servers, who belong to Unite Here Local 11, walked off their jobs at 6 a.m. to protest what they say is management’s refusal to let them take scheduled breaks.
“We are on strike today to show the W Hollywood that we deserve the right to take breaks,” Mildred Velasquez, a W housekeeper, was quoted in a statement prepared by the union. “The W Hollywood Hotel needs to respect the limits of our bodies. Managers put too much pressure on us. I hurt my back deep cleaning-rooms at the W. Now I take prescription and over-the-counter pain medicine every day.”
When contacted by the Frying Pan, a management spokesman for the hotel, who requested anonymity, claimed no hotel employees were participating in the walkout.
The one-day action,
A couple of weeks ago, at a community meeting with other members of the Alliance for Healthy and Responsible Grocery Stores, I got to hear some testimony about working conditions at Walmart from a group of women who work at the retail giant’s stores around Los Angeles County. Our alliance is dedicated to making sure that grocery stores have the best impact they can on our city. After Walmart’s announcement that they were expanding into urban markets with smaller-scale grocery stores, we invited some workers to tell us about life as Walmart “Associates.” I will respect their anonymity here, so as not to cause them problems on the job.
I didn’t expect to hear much that was shocking, but what I heard that day threw me for a loop. I couldn’t stop talking about it to my wife when I got home.
As someone who works on food justice and economic issues,
I’ll call him Alex. We work together at the RH restaurant at the Hyatt Andaz hotel on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. We are uneasy around each other now, since the strike. He chose one side. I chose another.
For the better part of a week in September, I watched him from outside the window. I held my Unite Here picket sign and wailed on the drum as he poured drinks for distraught customers. My blood boiled when I found out he crossed the picket line, and I’m sure he wasn’t happy that I was at least partially responsible for his lack of business in the restaurant. We made uncomfortable eye contact through the window far too many times.
Going on a strike and living its aftermath are like going through a divorce, where the children are told to pick a side. Some of us journey all the way through with one parent,
Just about every day we hear about how consumer spending is the main driver of the economy. If only we’d spend more money, we could get the economy back on track. (Of course, this is overly simplistic, and fails to account for any number of factors, not least being the continued drag of housing on the economy, as well as the mountains of cash that businesses are sitting on as they fail to hire workers.)
So I’m doing my part—in fact more than my part.
You see, in a few days, I’m getting married. I never would have imagined the amount of money that my wedding is plowing into our local economy: thousands of dollars to a caterer, a bartending service, an equipment rental outfit, a DJ. We’re renting a municipally-owned venue, so the City should be getting a taste,
There’s something eerily Orwellian about the recent blog post, by L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce president Gary Toebben, entitled “L.A. Should Vote Down New Bureaucracy to Regulate Banks.” Mr. Toebben claims that a proposed new city ordinance that would reward banks that act responsibly toward L.A. consumers with the city’s deposits is “overly burdensome” and an “unnecessary regulation.” This is because, Mr. Toebben argues, “the federal government oversees a heavily regulated banking industry” — implying that businesses like banks and other job creators need to be left free to make lots of money, create lots of jobs so that the benefits can trickle down to everyone else.
The banking industry in the United States is “heavily regulated?” Really? Did the L.A. chamber somehow miss the great recession of 2008? You know, that one where the under-regulated banks got into so much trouble that we had to spend more than $700 billion in taxpayer money to bail them out?
We know Los Angeles is in dire need of both jobs and a transportation system that works. Recently, the Metro Board of Directors took action by moving forward on a sweeping, agency-wide Construction Careers Policy covering Metro construction projects for the next 30 years, including projects funded under Measure R, the half-cent sales tax.
The vote at Metro was preceded by more than a year of hard work by LAANE, the L.A./O.C. Building Trades Council, and a coalition of community, environmental, labor, and transportation advocates – all united to make sure that our tax dollars are used to make Los Angeles a working, greener city. This policy brings together the taxpayers’ wishes for better public transportation and our critical need to get Americans back to work.
Anthony Mitchell, an electrician and single father of two whose family is facing foreclosure, attended the vote.