The Era of Big Finance Might Be Over

– Most people still shrug when you ask them their opinion on public banking. – That used to be true about lawmakers, but recently, the concept of public ownership of a depository bank is on the lips of elected officials and policy analysts. There seems to be news about the movement for publicly-owned banks every single day. We may have arrived at the moment when city, state and national officials are ready to look at options outside the mainstream financial paradigm that serve the needs of the public directly.  It could be that cities and states are looking for straightforward ways to shore up their budgets and improve their local economies, and this just a handy tool.  But it could also signal a shift in the way Americans think of banking, finance and the economy, and that public ownership of financial institutions is a palatable and even exciting idea. – – A Potential Advocate in Sacramento – California Treasurer and candidate for Governor John Chiang seems to be for it.  His office just released a report on the state of the soon-to-be-legal cannabis industry in the state, and had his team look into the ways to serve its banking needs.  Cannabis businesses are locked out of the banking system by banks too afraid of federal prosecution and banking regulation to touch a trade which lives in a “gray area” of law.  This forces cannabis businesses to operate with large amounts of […]

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Los Angeles Cuts off Wells Fargo, Pays $3.14B in Debt Service

– Looking back over these long six years to the heady days of Occupy Wall Street can cause a little whiplash. – I remember standing in front of Los Angeles city hall with a crowd of weekend warriors watching Tom Morello sing ‘This Land is Your Land’ arm-in-arm with Danny Glover and feeling like maybe a grassroots anti-finance movement could truly take hold. I also remember standing in that same spot, a few weeks later, as police beat my journalist friend in the face while telling him to stop fighting. And […]

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New Minimum Wage Study Doesn’t Say What Everyone Says it Says

– Right wing economists and smug libertarians are having a fun day. – The University of Washington released a study this week supposedly showing that minimum wage increases in Seattle have resulted in a loss of wages and hours for low-skilled workers.  Their work, supported by a more comprehensive survey of wages and hours worked than has previously been available, analyzed data from companies in Seattle (with only one location within the city limits) who pay into unemployment insurance.  The study shows a decrease of hours worked (and wages paid) […]

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Despite DeVos Vote, Democrats will Capitulate on Education

– Democrats mounted an admirable effort to stop the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. – The vote finally passed today with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote.  This was a historic near-win for the Democrats and shows promise for the millions of people who have spent their own time pressuring their representatives to reject DeVos. It is a heartening defeat. But when you look at the track record of Democrats who occupy seats in the House and Senate, there is clear evidence that many of […]

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War Is Not Humanitarian

The Economist released this opinion piece (with no byline, so I guess it’s an editorial?) describing how the failure of the US to directly intervene with air support, and potentially troops on the ground, in Syria led to the current situation in Aleppo.  Similar pieces have been flooding well-meaning blogs like Upworthy, mainstream news sites, and saturating the pages of left-leaning commentary like the Atlantic and Salon.  All of them express the same regret – that Western nations and their militaries failed to “do something” to prevent the horrors in […]

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Fascist Groups Organize to Counter Protests

As protests ramp up in coastal cities, police prepare to quell them, by looking the other way.   People unsatisfied and angry at the outcome of the election have been staging daily protests in metropolitan areas with varying levels of success.  This has not gone unnoticed by the national press and the President Elect himself, ranging from between disdain and calls to crush the protests with police powers.  And while organizers against an authoritarian president expect the police to fight back, hard, they also know that one of the strongest weapons […]

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100 Days of Winter

  They say elections have consequences, but they rarely remind you how permanent those consequences can be.   The plan for Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office have been available for some time.  If you’re like me, you read through them before today because you wanted to see if there was some special sauce that most of us were missing about this putrid man and his vague but ominous promises to remake our country.  But no one will blame you if this is the first time you’re seeing this, […]

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