By Martin J. Bennett
The New York Times recently characterized the economic recovery that officially began in 2009 as a "golden era for corporate profits." Indeed, corporate profits doubled between 2008 and 2011 and reached a record high.
However, these increased profits have fueled inequality and come at the expense of worker compensation. Profits are now a larger share of total national income, and wages and benefits are a smaller share than at any time since the 1960s.
Over the last four decades productivity gains have overwhelmingly accrued to business and not labor. The Economic Policy Institute calculates that between 1973-2011 productivity increased by 80 percent, but median hourly compensation by only 11 percent.
By Anthony Wright
Yesterday, calling it a "big day for school kids, and a big day for Californians who don't have health care," Governor Jerry Brown signed the 2013-14 state budget along with historic legislation to expand Medi-Cal to over one million Californians, as well as key budget trailer bills that restore many dental services to over three million Californians and other key improvements in Medi-Cal.
By Randy Shaw
The Supreme Court's striking down DOMA and Prop 8 sent a powerful message about the ongoing power of grassroots movements to bring about social change. These rulings could not have come a decade ago. Then, even campaigns for domestic partnerships and civil unions were politically controversial. But the broader activist struggle for marriage equality brought the courts along, just as the African-American civil rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's brought legal rulings to support that struggle.
By Steve Smith
When AB 880 comes up for a vote this week in the California Assembly, lawmakers will be given a rare (and dare we say golden) opportunity. California has the chance to lead the nation in ensuring that large corporations like Walmart pay their fair share of health care costs under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Because of what's known as the "Walmart Loophole," large corporations are able to skirt their responsibility by pushing workers onto taxpayer-funded Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California). Walmart's army of accountants knows exactly how to reduce the company's costs by violating the spirit of the ACA: just cut workers' hours and wages low enough, and taxpayers pick up the tab for health care - while Walmart gets off scot-free.
By Sarah Rose
California League of Conservation Voters
Like many Californians, I watched President Obama's announcement yesterday of a comprehensive plan to fight climate change with a great deal of pride in his leadership and in our state for leading the way on climate solutions. President Obama's plan begins to meet our moral obligation to protect future generations from climate change. The President's decision to take action to cut carbon pollution from power plants is particularly important and is inspired in part by California's landmark Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32).
Currently, there are no limits on carbon pollution from our nation's power plants despite the fact that they are its number one source.
By Dr. Wesley Mizutani
Advances in modern medicine have precipitated a revolution in the treatment of chronic health conditions. Californians diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, for example, are no longer given the expectation that the progressive disability will end in a wheelchair.
Californians will only reap the benefits of these scientific breakthroughs, however, if the state Senate takes common-sense action now to ensure that all patients can have access to the treatments their doctors think best.
By Zelda Bronstein
In recent weeks a broad array of progressives has rallied opposition to Plan Bay Area, a state-mandated proposal to reduce the region's carbon emissions and still accommodate massive increases in jobs and population by encouraging dense infill development close to transit, i.e. Smart Growth. Drafted by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), Plan Bay Area claims to "be taking equity into account." However, the plan's own assessment concedes that its implementation "could result in residential or business disruption or displacement of substantial numbers of existing population and housing," and that those who cannot pay the "higher prices resulting from increased demand" for new housing and commercial space will be forced out.
By Lisa Schiff
Almost as much has happened in the two weeks since public schools let out for the summer than in the entire second semester. In the first part of June, a revised version of federal education policy was introduced in the Senate and a California state budget has all but passed that includes dramatic funding changes for our state's schools.
By Norman Soloman
A terrible formula has taken hold:
warfare state + corporate digital power = surveillance state.
"National security" agencies and major tech sectors have teamed up to make Big Brother a reality. "Of the estimated $80 billion the government will spend on intelligence this year, most is spent on private contractors," the New York Times noted. The synergy is great for war-crazed snoops in Washington and profit-crazed moguls in Silicon Valley, but poisonous for civil liberties and democracy.
By Allison Mannos
Walmart's expansion strategy for Los Angeles and other urban areas has been to avoid public oversight by choosing real estate that doesn't require public review - and, where possible, to secure public subsidies, often with little public scrutiny.