By Sarah Jaffe
This past week marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of the first Wal-Mart store. From Rogers, Arkansas, Wal-Mart has sprawled across the globe, opening some 10,000 stores and becoming the world's second-largest corporation—amassing a fortune for the Walton family, and gutting the American middle class.
With all their money and power, it might seem that Wal-Mart's hold on the country is unshakeable. Yet the retail giant is facing a bit of a perfect storm in terms of its reputation right now. Revelations of horrific abuses at one of its U.S. suppliers and of bribes the company paid in Mexico, as well as communities fighting fiercely against Wal-Marts in their neighborhoods, are pushing the big-box giant into damage control mode.
By Dave Johnson
We have a jobs emergency that is hollowing out the middle class. Some say automation is the cause of our high unemployment and that it will get worse. Others say there are other structural problems and that our high unemployment is a "new normal." Perhaps these are contributing to the problems. But let's do the things that we know we can do and need to do today, and then we can talk about how to restructure our economy to help us deal with these changes.
By Brian Leubitz
At first blush, some would think that the Special Exemptions Act would be a step in the right direction. That it would somehow reform our broken campaign finance system.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, the Special Exemptions Act ends up making the system worse, and more biased against working Californians. It leaves open huge loopholes for Billionaires to spend in SuperPACs and Independent Expenditures(IEs), while stifling the voice of labor and working Californians. It's an unbalanced and unfair measure that would just increase the power of the undisclosed and poorly regulated SuperPACs and IEs and their tea party allies in California.
By Daniel Zingale
New America Media
The recent Supreme Court Decision upholding the Affordable Care Act has led to the nearly inevitable – and wholly irrelevant – discussion of “winners” and “losers.” Over the next few days, talking heads will ask the critical questions of our time:
“Who’s up? Who’s down?”
“Is this good for President Obama, or bad for Governor Romney?”
“Who lost? Who won?”
Over the next few weeks, there will be no shortage of legal analysis. There will be no shortage of political analysis. But there will be a disappointing lack of human analysis. But if one looks through the lens of healthy community, then one can see million of winners, especially here in California. And the state is stronger when every Californian has an opportunity to live a long, healthy life.
By Madeline Janis
Much has been said in recent months about the labor movement’s “impending decline,” with the right wing’s unrelenting attacks against collective bargaining rights in states across the country, from Arizona to Wisconsin to New Jersey. California is facing its own version of this attack with the qualification of the Paycheck Deception initiative for the November 2012 ballot that would dramatically curtail working people’s ability to participate in politics in the state.
By Caitlin Vega
California Labor Federation
The other night, my son woke up with a bad dream. “I dreamed we had to move out of our house,” he told me in a worried voice. As I hushed him back to sleep, I thought about all the children for whom that is not just a bad dream.
Over the past 6 years, nearly two million Californians have lost their homes to foreclosure. That’s an awful lot of parents who have had to explain to their children that they could not stay in their homes. They’ve had to take their kids out of the schools and neighborhoods where they were raised and have friends and start over somewhere new and unfamiliar.
By Amy Goodman
Evidence supporting the existence of climate change is pummeling the United States this summer, from the mountain wildfires of Colorado to the recent “derecho” storm that left at least 23 dead and 1.4 million people without power from Illinois to Virginia. The phrase “extreme weather” flashes across television screens from coast to coast, but its connection to climate change is consistently ignored, if not outright mocked. If our news media, including—or especially—the meteorologists, continue to ignore the essential link between extreme weather and climate change, then we as a nation, the greatest per capita polluters on the planet, may not act in time to avert even greater catastrophe.
By Robert Cruickshank
This week is the make or break week for the California high speed rail project. The legislature is still likely to vote on the project in a few days’ time, probably today. If the voter-approved bond money is not released by the legislature, California will forfeit the federal stimulus money as it will be redistributed around the country. Governor Jerry Brown is pulling out all the stops, now planning to link HSR funding to other rail projects, according to Matier and Ross at the San Francisco Chronicle:
In a move some see as an attempt to round up badly needed “yes” votes for the project, Gov. Jerry Brown and state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, are insisting on an “all or nothing” vote on both the $68 billion rail line and millions of dollars for local “connectivity” projects.
In the Bay Area, those connections include:
– $140 million for new BART cars.
– $105 million to modernize Caltrain.
By Anthony Wright
The Kaiser Family Foundation has a neat Health Reform Quiz that has been circulating online, especially after the Supreme Court case refocused the nation's attention on the Affordable Care Act.
I've been impressed at how many of my Facebook friends who don't work in health care policy have taken the quiz, and shared it online. Many of them did well--some getting 10 of 10, which puts them ahead of 99% of the population in surveys. That's troubling, since many of the questions are basic (although there are a few that might qualify as trick questions).
So I felt I wanted to challenge my friends with a slightly harder quiz. I'll post the answers later in this week, but take a crack. If you spot an error or want to argue a point, E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Randy Shaw
After winning the biggest Supreme Court victory in a generation, progressives should be joyous at the expansion of the nation’s long troubled health care system (and the bitter reaction on the right). But instead, some are spinning this great outcome as laying the groundwork for future defeats. Their reasoning is that Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion limiting the Commerce Clause will come back to hurt progressive interests. But the current conservative Court majority has shown time and again – most prominently in Citizens United – that it needs no legal precedent to throw out laws it doesn't like. If a broad reading of the Commerce Clause gets the court majority to where it wants to go, that’s the opinion it will issue. It may be psychologically comforting to think that legal precedent governs the nation’s highest court, but the record says otherwise.