Posts Tagged ‘Economics’

What Is This Nameless…

July 19, 2018

July 13, 2018 reporting for The Newark Advocate Kent Mallet wrote about Downtown Benches Becoming Beds For Some. The bulk of the article was about the Newark Development Partners, Safety Director, Mayor and how this is carryover from when the Gazebo was there (and why it had to go!). The buried lead at the bottom of the article (“Donna Gibson, director of operations for St. Vincent Housing Facilities, said they do drug testing for the 26-bed St. Vincent Haven men’s shelter and the 24-apartment Gardens on Sixth transitional housing. Those who test positive are not allowed in the facilities, but they try to get them help, she said. “We’ve seen a huge influx in people coming and asking for food, a huge influx of homeless people,” Gibson said. “We do the best we can with what we have. We’re full. We’ve never had a waiting list, but we’re telling people to come back.” Drug use has become an even bigger problem recently, Gibson said. “It’s been overwhelming lately,” Gibson said. “We’ve moved beyond an epidemic. It’s a plague. Meth seems to be the biggest problem we’re dealing with.””) speaks rather succinctly of the enormous reality of American bodies infected by addiction having no place to call home in contemporary America (literally homeless). Analysis finds many corollaries that illuminate this tragedy, outlining its invisibility. In his book, Between The World And Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates quotes from another author, another book (Thavolia Glymph, Out Of The House Of Bondage) – “And there it is – the right to break the black body as the meaning of their sacred equality. And that right has always given them meaning, has always meant that there was someone down in the valley because a mountain is not a mountain if there is nothing below.” In one of his lectures at The College Of France, Michel Foucault (French social/cultural critic and philosopher) asked two simple questions —

Question: What is a wage?

Answer: It is an income.

Q: What is an income?

A; It is a return on capital.

As Analysis has often indicated, with the collapse of the Berlin Wall there is only one game in town (or globally). That is capitalism. Like it or not, we are now all capitalists. Only no one told that to those bodies sleeping on the courthouse benches. Which makes for the quandary posed to the DeLawders and Laymans of the Newark Development Partners Community Improvement Corporation, and for Newark’s Safety Director Steve Baum as well as the unawares Mayor Jeff Hall (“said he had not heard about people loitering downtown or sleeping for extended periods on the benches.”). Without capital there is no income. Without income one cannot play the game, the only game in town. Those without income are not only homeless but likewise useless. Today we are all entrepreneurs. Our equality is purchased by our entrepreneurship. To be an entrepreneur requires some capital, any capital, even if only that of a body to be sold. What is this nameless body sleeping on a bench, this “someone down in the valley because a mountain is not a mountain if there is nothing below”?

 

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Genuinely Authentic Destination

June 11, 2018

Week end of June 10, 2018 found The Newark Advocate become an oxymoron. OK, the politically correct term would be the newspaper became an antinomy. Highlight of the week end news, with articles, photos and video, was Newark Pride 2018. A rather lame attempt to “support” this was made by the Sunday (6-10-18) Our View editorial, Big things ahead for Newark’s past, future (written by the editorial board; a collaborative effort indeed!). Kurt Snyder’s Hundreds spread positive message during Pride (6-10-18) covered the Saturday’s festivities in the Canal Market District “before later heading to Thirty One West and the Denison Art Space. Attendees enjoyed music, dancing and fellowship on a hot, sunny afternoon.” The previous evening, Saturday’s revelers creatively resisted the Licking County Commissioners refusal to light the court house by shining gelled rainbow colored flashlights over its west side (also covered by The Advocate in photo’s, etc.). In the Our View editorial, the editorial board feigned support for multiculturalism by highlighting the great “tourist” draw to be found in the greater Newark area. “And while we all will get a new way to look to the stars, an effort to appropriately showcase our history got a major boost. The U.S. Department of the Interior made a formal invitation to make the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks the next United States nomination for World Heritage designation. Sites with such a designation include the Great Wall of China, Statue of Liberty, Vatican City, the Taj Mahal and Yellowstone National Park.” Wow! The editorial board makes it sound like Newark has finally made it to the Bigs. Don’t put your flashlights away just yet. Further on the same board writes of the increase in tourism to other such sites in the U.S. and finally “Giving people who visit the earthworks a place to eat, shop and sleep is critical to maximizing its potential. The conceptual plan for the former Meritor site is one intriguing idea for how to do this. Turning the vacant and contaminated site into an inclusive visitors center would be amazing, but it would not be cheap. Frankly it would be impossible for Newark, Heath and Licking County to develop the site to its potential without assistance from the state and federal governments.” Kurt Snyder wrote “Long-time Newark residents and those new to the area were equally pleasantly surprised at the positivity throughout the afternoon. Pride organizers were disappointed during the spring the Licking County Commissioners refused to light the courthouse for the event, and it caused division across Licking County and on social media.” But this is much more than an oxymoron of LC Commissioners (and the Newark mayor’s office) choosing to enact the will of “the people” to mean “our people.” May 25, 2018 Time.com’s MONEY put out clic bait entitled This Is the Best Park in Every U.S. State. Ohio finds that park to be Washington Park adjacent to Cinci’s Over The Rhine area. “Newly renovated and expanded less than six years ago, Washington Park is at the heart of Cincinnati. The park’s amenities include a playground, a dog park, and a “civic lawn” used for concerts and cultural events. During summer months, locals can grab a craft beer or glass of wine on the Southwest Porch and play games like chess (using an oversized set) and ping-pong.” Google the park and one sees something very familiar. Indeed, it is so central to the park (“a “civic lawn” used for concerts and cultural events”) that MONEY’s photo also includes it. The “it” is a gazebo that looks a lot like the one that used to grace Newark’s downtown “tourist” destination. Money’s short paragraph also seems to accurately describe what was once the courthouse square before Jeff Hall and Tim Bubb prioritized “security” at the cost of an expendable “civic lawn.” Other news of the past week included business owners of various downtown entities not finding their locations to be enough of a business draw and pulling out. Antinomies like an “inclusive visitors center” while  city (and county)  governments choose to enact the will of “our people” certainly don’t “spread [a] positive message” of what “is critical to maximizing its [marketing] potential.” As MONEY pointed out, a “civic lawn” is an irresistible gathering place, a genuinely authentic destination without the covert guile of profit design.

 

Who Hit The Snooze Button?

June 1, 2018

Two items of note in the news with regard to public transportation (you remember public transportation – what most growing areas of the world rely on to move their population from home to work in an accessible and affordable manner, reliably, sustainably). In a mostly promotional press release, the Downtown Cleveland Alliance headlined Downtown Cleveland’s commuter options drive economic development (6-1-18). The opening line reads: “In cities across the U.S., businesses are beginning to think differently about the importance of mobility options when it comes to talent attraction and real estate decision-making.” The centrality of public transportation is underlined a few lines later by “A robust and growing multi-modal transportation system fuels this growth.” Of particular interest to the public transportation infidels in Newark and Licking County is “Recognized by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy as the leading example of bus rapid transit (BRT) innovation in North America, the Healthline connects Downtown Cleveland and University Circle — Ohio’s largest and fourth largest job hubs — with 24-hour service. Since its inception, the Healthline has helped attract more than $6 billion of investment along its route. RTA continues to build upon this innovation with additional BRT service like the Cleveland State University Line and MetroHealth Line, making downtown employment further accessible to residents of surrounding neighborhoods and suburbs.” Butt weight, there’s more! Remember the chatter about Mound Builders State memorial (Great Circle Earthworks), World Heritage status and converting the old Meritor factory site into a “tourist destination”? Of course you do. In Ohio, the two major tourist destinations are western Lake Erie (the islands, Cedar Point, etc.) and the Hocking Hills. The AP, through US News, headlined Shuttle Expected to Ease Parking Headaches at Hocking Hills (5-28-18). “Officials say the shuttle bus between downtown Logan and Old Man’s Cave will run on weekends through Oct. 28.” “The shuttle departs downtown Logan beginning at 10 a.m. and runs every 30 minutes, with the last shuttle at 6:30 p.m.” It’s reliable, sustainable, affordable and accessible public transportation that will draw people to downtown Logan when their destination is really the Hocking Hills parks. Even Logan has recognized it is of value not to be stuck in the past. Analysis wonders when Newark and Licking County will wake from their Rip Van Winkle Z’s. Who hit the snooze button?

Buried Lead

April 18, 2018

Seen the TV ad of Larry Householder in camo with locked and loaded 12 gauge shooting a television set out in a corn field, ending with “we stick to our guns”? Of course you have. And along with Analysis, you haven’t a clue what all that is about. Cleveland.com’s Andrew Tobias headlines Ohio State Rep. Larry Householder sues political groups over attack ads (4-18-18). “Householder alleges the TV, radio and printed ads — which make reference to an FBI investigation, which closed without charges in 2006, into Householder’s activities as speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives in the 2000s — are false and defamatory, and asks a judge to pull them off the air. The ads were produced by the Honor and Principles PAC and the Conservative Alliance PAC, two Virginia-based groups that are named as defendants in the lawsuit, filed in Householder’s home Perry County on Wednesday.” “The lawsuit is the latest turn in the heated, months-long, behind-the-scenes political battle among Republicans to be the next leader of the Ohio House of Representatives for the session beginning next year. Householder is among the candidates vying for the position, which is chosen by Ohio House members. The position’s future is more uncertain than ever after former Speaker Cliff Rosenberger’s sudden resignation last week. Rosenberger stepped down eight months before his term was to have expired, appointing a temporary successor, amid an FBI probe into a trip he took to London last summer with lobbyists for the auto title-loan industry.” Same day, same news source, Laura Hancock headlined Payday lending bill advances out of Ohio legislative committee. Analysis found the opening line significant. “A House committee advanced a bill Wednesday morning that would cap fees and interest rates on payday loan businesses – after more than a year of the bill stalling and less than a week after the chamber’s speaker, Cliff Rosenberger, resigned amid a reported FBI inquiry into his ties with the industry. The House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee cleared House Bill 123 with a vote of 9 to 1.” Of equal importance “But Rep. Ryan Smith, who is running for House speaker, said it was time to move the bill. “Quite frankly the idea that we’re making progress in (negotiation) meetings when everything is stalled, stalled, stalled,” he said. “it’s pretty obvious what’s happening.” Later, Smith said his comment wasn’t a critique on Rosenberger but on the payday lenders, who he doesn’t believe want any changes in the law.” What could be more rural than shotguns, camo fatigues, cornfields and TV sets? Still the same day, Columbus Business First’s Robin Smith headlined: Central Ohio’s fastest-growing school districts are largely rural. “Delaware County leads off with the top two districts, with the top five rounded out by districts in Licking, Fairfield and Union counties. Another Delaware County district and four Franklin County districts fill out the top 10.” The rural burbs, not just corn sprouting and growing there! Analysis referenced all that to reference the AP’s Andrew Taylor’s headline House panel moves to curb food stamps, renew farm subsidies (4-18-18). “The hard-fought food stamp provisions would tighten existing work requirements and expand funding for state training programs, though not by enough to cover everybody subject to the new work and training requirements. Agriculture panel chair Michael Conaway said the provisions would offer food stamp beneficiaries “the hope of a job and a skill and a better future for themselves and their families.”” The bulk of the article is about the nuances. Toward the end: “The measure mostly tinkers with those programs, adding provisions aimed at helping rural America obtain high-speed internet access, assist beginning farmers, and ease regulations on producers. “When you step away from the social nutrition policy much of this is a refinement of the 2014 farm bill. So we’re not reinventing the wheel. That makes it dramatically simpler,” said Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., a former chairman of the committee. “Most folks are generally satisfied with the fundamentals of the farm safety net.”” The final lines of the article are “The House measure also would cut funding for land conservation programs long championed by Democrats, prompting criticism from environmental groups. At the same time, it contains a proposal backed by pesticide manufacturers such as the Dow Chemical Company that would streamline the process for approving pesticides by allowing the Environmental Protection Agency to skip reviews required under the Endangered Species Act.” Analysis finds various continuous coverage of the impact of pesticide use, in conjunction with rural gentrification (the 21stcentury’s version of the burbs) on insect population as well as those dependent on insects (like birds, aquatic life, amphibians, etc. and humans!). Just a few (from many available): from The Guardian (Warning of ‘ecological Armageddon’ after dramatic plunge in insect numbers Three-quarters of flying insects in nature reserves across Germany have vanished in 25 years, with serious implications for all life on Earth, scientists say, 2-14-18) “Insects are an integral part of life on Earth as both pollinators and prey for other wildlife and it was known that some species such as butterflies were declining. But the newly revealed scale of the losses to all insects has prompted warnings that the world is “on course for ecological Armageddon”, with profound impacts on human society.” Burb bug zappers and Raid aside, have you seen a lot of bugs around outdoor lights at night? Or on your windshield? And from Wired (Not Just Bees: Controversial Pesticides Linked to Bird Declines, 7-9-14) “As neonicotinoid levels rose in streams, lakes and wetlands, populations of insect-eating birds declined. The pesticides appear to have eliminated the insects on which they rely. … There they can poison aquatic invertebrates or be absorbed by plants, eventually harming plant-eating insects.”  Along with Rachel Carson, the lead of the farm bill story has also been buried.

Absentee Landlord-Type Situation

April 12, 2018

4-11-18 Robert Channick, writing for the Chicago Tribune headlined Chicago Tribune Newsroom Seeking To Unionize. Analysis found this intriguing to consider that in this day and age, this country, workers would attempt to unionize; cultural workers at that. Why not, you ask? Of note from the report (which according to the current “conversation” would be heavily biased since it is being presented by one of those very same cultural workers. Including the self in the “conversation”, what a novelty!): “Organizers notified editors and sent a recruitment memo to staffers Wednesday, urging them to join the effort to form the paper’s first newsroom union. The stated goals include regular raises, advancement opportunities, better parental leave policies and a more diverse newsroom. But more than specific demands, the organizers say they seek to give voice to a newsroom buffeted by downsizing and shifting corporate leadership, most recently under Chicago-based Tronc.” “Formerly known as Tribune Publishing, Tronc owns the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, Los Angeles Times and other publications.” “”There’s been a real sense of anxiety and instability, and frankly chaos, in the newsroom, particularly in the past few months,” said Megan Crepeau, 29, a criminal courts reporter and eight-year veteran of the Chicago Tribune who helped organize the union effort. “I think that directly stems from our corporate ownership.”” “Last month, the Chicago Tribune began implementation of a newsroom reorganization that included layoffs.” Analysis needs to note that just recently Sinclair Broadcast Group reappeared in the news with its intentions to buyout Tribune Media, all of which received the Dear Leader’s tweeted blessing. Analysis fills in the back story from Wiki: “Prior to the August 2014 spin-off of the company’s publishing division into Tribune Publishing (now called Tronc, Inc.), Tribune Media was the nation’s second-largest newspaper publisher (behind the Gannett Company), with ten daily newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Orlando Sentinel, Sun-Sentinel and The Baltimore Sun, and several commuter tabloids.” The Advocate is a Gannett product (or process, whatever). Butt weight, there’s more. From the transcript of the PBS 4-9-18 Newshour entitled ‘We have got an absentee landlord’: Denver Post calls out owners for dramatic newsroom cuts. “In a blistering editorial, journalists at the Denver Post sounded the alarm about years of devastating job cuts and took the newspaper’s own hedge fund owners to task, begging to be sold. Amna Nawaz speaks to Chuck Plunkett, editorial page editor of the Denver Post, who co-wrote the editorial.” “The front-page editorial came after years of devastating cuts ordered by Alden Global Capital, a New York City hedge fund that stepped in to buy the paper in 2010. In it, the editorial page editors referred to Alden as vulture capitalists and wrote, “Denver deserves a newspaper owner who supports its newsroom. If Alden isn’t willing to do good journalism here, it should sell The Post to owners who will.” Just today, two dozen more staffers left The Post, the latest in a series of layoffs that have taken the 125-year-old paper from a newsroom of 250 journalists to fewer than 100.”[Plunkett projected it to hit 60] Mr. Plunkett: “Newspapers have a proud tradition of calling out the powerful, being the voice for the voiceless. And we even have a tradition that we run letters to the editor and op-eds written by outsiders who are critical of our work. On the editorial page, we are critical of government and private businesses who we don’t feel are living up to the job that they are supposed to perform. And in this situation, we believe that our owners are failing their readers, not just in Denver, Colorado, but in their many holdings across the United States, and that it was only proper to call them out and ask for better.” “We lost our publisher earlier this year. He has not been replaced with someone who spends time day in and day out in the Denver community. And that’s the problem that I’m beginning to see, is that we have got an absentee landlord-type situation.” The Denver metro area has a population of over 3 million. Sounds a bit like Columbus where the Dispatch’s landlord, Gatehouse Media, was likewise in the news with its purchase of the Akron Beacon Journal. Gatehouse Media is a holding company. Wiki gives “A holding company is a company that owns other companies’ outstanding stock. A holding company usually does not produce goods or services itself; rather, its purpose is to own shares of other companies to form a corporate group. Holding companies allow the reduction of risk for the owners and can allow the ownership and control of a number of different companies.” It is akin to a hedge fund. Talk about hedging, Mark Zuckerberg was also in the news this past week. Continuously he stressed that Facebook is only a platform for advertising and this is their main source of revenue. This puts him, and it, in company with Sinclair, Gannett, Alden, Tronc and Gatehouse. His digital “product” (actually a process) is unique in that it is a monopoly of choice, where the absentee landlord is totally absent! By choice, because during the late 90’s the slogan was “the internet can be whatever it is you want it to be”. But Analysis digresses. The facts on the ground are that Gannett discontinued the Advocate’s paper printing operation (and contracted outside Newark for that), has its downtown building up for sale (would have been a great county 911 center), and has no office to speak of – to pay bills, report community events or news, submit advertising, etc. requires accessing someone virtually (in another city?). The Advocate’s customer is the advertiser which it serves not only through traditional ads but also product placement stories, features, infotainment, op eds and even news. In a municipality where almost half the residential properties are non-owner occupant “that’s the problem that I’m beginning to see, is that we have got an absentee landlord-type situation.”

 

Not Quite Ready For Prime Time Stand Up

March 6, 2018

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A young man at the corner of Cedar and East Main asks a bent over elderly gent how he could get to the hospital (or Zanesville, Columbus, or New York City, any or all of the above). “Can’t get there from here, Sonny” replied the octogenarian. (Thank you, thank you very much. You’re too kind) Unfortunately the old coot would be correct. Just prior to the old coot’s infancy, there was an interurban that operated from Newark (and surrounds, like Granville) to Moxahala Park just south of Zanesville. The park is long gone but the vestige of the town remains in its name (the tunnel at Black Hand Gorge isn’t because someone wanted to remove everything that wasn’t a tunnel). From the same period, Cedar Point benefitted and grew from the public transportation provided so park goers could get from Cleveland to Sandusky. There was city wide public transportation in Newark as well as passenger train service to Anytown USA (what do you thing that “station” is just south of the Canal Market?). Half way to now, the grey dog stopped in Newark. Now to access the grey dog requires getting to Zanesville or Columbus (“can’t get there from here”). Flying to NYC involves the same “can’t get there from here.” Newark, another “destination” like Moxahala? “The future is flying cars!” we are told. Those unable to afford a new one can just make do with a used one. Maybe it won’t fly as high, or as long, or crash and burn, but they will have to make do. It’s all about the future (everything’s up to date in Newark city!). Unfortunately right on, but wrong. The future is self driving cars, autonomous vehicles. And in case you were thinking of buying a used one, read the tea leaves again. The big car makers aren’t collaborating with the big internet companies in order to sell these puppies. The major hurdle yet to be resolved is liability (and yes, Virginia, congress will have to pass laws). Which precludes much individual ownership. More like buying a service and paying whatever the service provider charges whether you use it or not. Sound familiar? Sigh! But then again there’s always the future, like hyper loop. There’s even talk of running one from Cleveland to, you guessed it, Cedar Point (get to the Point). But these, like the old interurbans, will be “mass” public transportation – i.e. lots of folk traveling in the same compartment. OMG The future is actually Public Transportation! Yes, Virginia, busses, light rail and autonomous vehicles are all part of the future unfolding before us. So much for flying cars. The last time the future roared through these parts, Newark was left behind and its downtown languished. If you don’t wish for a Ground Hog Day scenario, come to the Public Transportation meeting at Trinity Episcopal Church, 76 E. Main, 10 – noon, Saturday March 10 and help plan the future. “What possessed Analysis to go in depth on something like this” you ask? “Local leaders receive award for historic preservation efforts” Kent Mallet headlined for the Advocate, 4-5-18. “The award recognized preserving historic assets, including the investment to preserve the Licking County Courthouse, historic rehabilitation in downtown Newark, and advocacy for the World Heritage designation that includes the Newark Earthworks.” Unfortunately, you “can’t get there from here.” Thank you, Thank you very much. You’re too kind!

Red Herring

March 4, 2018

Red herring: “noun, something, especially a clue, that is or is intended to be misleading or distracting.” No, Analysis is not going to consider immigration (DACA has run out), nor how hot one has to be to obtain an “Einstein visa”, or the links of chain implicated by such legitimation. Rather, Analysis would like to stay with a recent interrogation – reliable, accessible, affordable and sustainable Public Transportation in Licking County. Though the need for Public Transportation has been covered many times in the past, a recent study jumps out with its contribution to the current urgency. Late last week an MIT study was released that was covered by many news outlets. Analysis will quote from “Uber, Lyft Drivers Earning A Median Profit Of $3.37 Per Hour, Study Says” by James Doubek for NPR (3-2-18). “A working paper by Stephen M. Zoepf, Stella Chen, Paa Adu and Gonzalo Pozo at MIT’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research says the median pretax profit earned from driving is $3.37 per hour after taking expenses into account. Seventy-four percent of drivers earn less than their state’s minimum wage, the researchers say.”  Inevitable “push back” will be around the methodology (as it usually has been with tobacco effects studies, the demise of the honey bee studies, and climate change studies, yadda, yadda). “The conclusions are based on surveys of more than 1,100 drivers who told researchers about their revenue, how many miles they drove and what type of car they used. The study’s authors then combined that with typical costs associated with a certain car’s insurance, maintenance, gas and depreciation, which was gathered in data from Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book and the Environmental Protection Agency.” “Drivers earning the median amount of revenue are getting $0.59 per mile driven, researchers say, but expenses work out to $0.30 per mile, meaning a driver makes a median profit of $0.29 for each mile.” Analysis finds a local area university reimburses its employees at 54.5 cents per mile, the IRS rate for personal vehicle deduction. This corroborates the claim that “MIT authors also calculated that it’s possible for billions of dollars in driver profits to be untaxed because “nearly half of drivers can declare a loss on their taxes.” Drivers are able to use the IRS standard mileage rate deduction to write off some of the costs of using a car for business. In 2016, that number was $0.54 per mile. “Because of this deduction, most ride-hailing drivers are able to declare profits that are substantially lower,” researchers write. “If drivers are fully able to capitalize on these losses for tax purposes, 73.5% of an estimated U.S. market $4.8B in annual ride-hailing driver profit is untaxed,” they add.” Of course, an Uber spokesperson said of the study that “its methodology and findings are deeply flawed.” Yadda, yadda. In light of the recent meetings on Public Transportation in Licking County, the study nets a plethora of quandaries. No, not the need for more immigrants to work at jobs that don’t pay enough to sustain minimum standards of living, let alone allow one a future. “Uber and Lyft both have “notoriously high” turnover rates among drivers. A report last year said just 4 percent of Uber drivers work for the company for at least a year.” And the existing LC Transit Board says it has a hard time retaining drivers! A bulwark of the GOP solution to most problems (in Licking County, Ohio, and the nation) is to opt for the free market to “take care of” the problem through the incentive of tax credits, abatements and cuts (or no tax at all! see recently passed US tax code with its partiality to business tax cuts). Indeed, we are repeatedly told by Republican free market ideologues that “the market” is the solution to all problems, including epidemics, health care for all, as well as individual retirement (Dear Leader or John the governator makes little difference). “Both Uber and Lyft have been fighting legal battles for years against initiatives to classify their drivers as “employees” instead of “independent contractors” — meaning drivers don’t receive benefits like health care or sick leave.” Contractors (whether independent or not) are what currently the LC Transit Board, as well as others, rely on as a solution for public transportation needs. “According to MIT researchers, 80 percent of drivers said they work less than 40 hours per week. An NPR/Marist poll in January found that 1 in 5 jobs in the U.S. is held by a contract worker; contractors often juggle multiple part-time jobs.” Analysis finds that though ride sharing (contractors) may appear to be affordable and accessible, it is actually unsustainable and unreliable. Promoting a virtual platform as a solution for Public Transportation in Licking County is in fact, if not intent, misleading and distracting.

Internationalism,It’s More Informative Than You Think

February 22, 2018

February 22, 2018 disparate professionals walked off the job in equally disparate locations on the globe. “Public schools across West Virginia are closed Thursday as teachers and other school employees hit the picket lines, demanding higher wages and better benefits. According to Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association (WVEA), teachers in all of the state’s 55 counties are participating in the planned two-day walk-out, and a group will march Thursday morning to the capitol building in Charleston. Organizers expect thousands of teachers to participate.” “The work stoppage comes after Gov. Jim Justice signed legislation late Wednesday night granting teachers a 2% pay increase starting in July, followed by 1% pay increases over the next two years. “We need to keep our kids and teachers in the classroom,” Justice said in a statement after signing the pay raise bill. “We certainly recognize our teachers are underpaid and this is a step in the right direction to addressing their pay issue.” But the bill did not address further concerns of teachers, including issues with the teachers’ public employees insurance program, the rising costs of healthcare, and a tax on payroll deduction options, according to Campbell [Christine Campbell, president American Federation of Teachers – West Virginia]. The pay raise, which amounts to 4% over the next few years, is a reduction from an earlier version of the bill that proposed a 5% total increase in wages, Campbell said, also remarking that teachers in surrounding states make anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 more than teachers in West Virginia.” (West Virginia teacher walk-out closes all public schools, Sarah Jorgensen for CNN, 2-22-18) Writing for Great Britain’s Independent, Simon Calder headlines Air France Strike Grounds Dozens of UK Flights, Leaving Hundreds of Passengers Stranded, 2-22-18. “Tens of thousands of Air France passengers have been stranded by a coordinated one-day strike involving pilots, cabin crew and ground staff. The airline’s management has offered a basic increase of one per cent to staff, but the unions are demanding a six per cent rise. They are also unhappy about job losses and staff workloads.” Statista.com (the statistics portal) shows that worldwide, the airline industry showed profits for the last 8 years with each of the last three years nearly tripling that of the previous 5. Projections for 2018 are to be even larger. The wage increase for either public sector or private sector workers was 1%. Any coincidence? Before you answer that, consider the third meeting of the International Trade Union Network of Solidarity and Struggle 2018 recently held outside Madrid Spain; covered by Cole Stangler for In These Times, 2-20-18 (Meet the coalition building a global union movement against capitalism). “a four-day conference in late January attended by nearly 300 labor activists from 25 different countries and 35 different groups”. “A spirit of radicalism and internationalism runs deep within the Network of Solidarity and Struggle, a loose alliance organized by three national-level unions: Solidaires in France, the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) in Spain and CSP Conlutas in Brazil. All of these unions are on the left of their countries’ respective labor movements. “We need to function as a class, and for us having contacts is fundamental,” said José Manuel Muñoz Póliz, general secretary of the CGT, which claims to have grown to nearly 100,000 members in recent years and defines itself as anarcho-syndicalist. “The resolutions that are being passed here won’t be defended by political parties or governments: They’re being defended by workers.” Póliz said ties among union activists in different countries make the movement stronger as a whole — whether that’s by sharing information about broader threats like privatization and employer-friendly legal reforms or by adopting common actions and tactics. Because of the network’s commitment to working-class autonomy, he said it is more effective than the larger, more mainstream international union federations like the European Trade Union Confederation, whose agenda, he believes, is weakened by ties to parties and governments.” “Yet, activists at the conference insisted the U.S. labor movement stands to gain from a stronger dose of internationalism. According to them, it isn’t just a question of principle, but of practical advantage. In the day-to-day tussles between multinational corporations and labor unions, the latter often suffer from information deficiencies that hurt campaigns.” (sounds like something straight out of Hardt and Negri!) This in the age of information, information technologies and multinational media corporation control of information distribution (as well as misinformation dissemination). Though, on the same day, Dear Leader suggested paying teachers packing heat a premium bonus, the 1% pay increase offered WV professional educators differed not from the 1% increase a private corporation offered to its professionals. The only difference is in our ability to know that it is so. Internationalism, it’s more informative than you think.

Arbitrary Notions About How Much Things ‘Should’ Cost

February 16, 2018

“The more books I read the more passionately I embraced the truth that widespread human well-being demands a system that clearly defines and protects private property rights, allows people to speak freely without intimidation or legal repercussions, refrains from interference with private parties’ agreements and exchanges, and allows human action—rather than arbitrary notions about how much things ‘should’ cost—to guide prices” (Charles Koch from 2015 Good Profit found as mission statement on Charles Koch Foundation website) Remember the Constitutional Convention to Balance the Budget initiative promoted by Ohio’s governor and other GOP leaders? Of course you don’t after the GOP’s tax cuts of December 2017 followed by the national budget just recently passed. Both covered the “deficit” in manure and kept it in the dark so it could mushroom. But back then “One of the two main groups pushing an Article V convention is the Convention of States, a project by Citizens for Self-Government, a nonprofit that doesn’t disclose its donors and has a variety of connections to David and Charles Koch, the billionaire industrialist brothers whose eponymous company is one of the country’s worst polluters and who have become synonymous with both overt and covert political spending in pursuit of limited government. Another nonprofit supporting the movement is the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, an organization “dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism” that brings corporations and lawmakers together to draft model legislation that is then introduced in the states. ALEC doesn’t disclose its members, although the group’s opposition to climate change measures, gun control and voting rights has led to a recent exodus of member corporations and lawmakers.” (The Koch Brothers Want To Rewrite The Constitution Josh Keefe, International Business Times, 6-14-17) Locally ALEC’s agenda is heavily prevalent at Licking County GOP Commissioner Tim Bubb’s radio station. More on that later. All of these folk are elbowing each other to be in the driver seat of the Right To Work (but can’t get there because of lack of public transportation) bus. GOP state legislators “John Becker and Craig Riedel have proposed a package of six separate constitutional amendments that would limit how unions are funded, ban project labor agreements where the state or cities require union labor for construction projects and eliminate prevailing wage, which sets a floor wage for skilled labor on publicly funded projects.” “Their proposed constitutional amendments:

Private-sector right-to-work: Eliminates requirement employees pay fair share dues. Employees would have to opt in to pay dues.

Public-sector right-to-work: Eliminates fair share dues for public sector unions.

Prevailing wage: Repeals Ohio’s prevailing wage law, which sets a minimum hourly wages and benefits for skilled workers on certain projects. A standalone bill on this issue has not advanced in the Ohio Senate.

Dues withholding: Prohibits state and local government employers from withholding union dues or fees from workers’ wages. Unions could not spend dues on political activities without workers’ consent.

Project Labor Agreements: Bans state and local government entities from requiring project bidders or contractors to enter into project labor agreements, which are pre-hire agreements that set timelines for project completion and methods for resolving disputes, among other terms. A standalone bill was introduced during the last legislative session but did not pass.

Union recertification: Requires annual “recertification” where workers vote to renew public collective bargaining units.” (Right to work’ could be on the ballot in Ohio with support from lawmakers 1-23-18, Jackie Borchardt, cleveland.com) Another tactic of the Koch ALEC coalition is the promotion and legitimization of parallel or multiple unions which can be “funded” variously (by foundations such as Chuck and Dave’s), and offer lower health care premiums, retirement, etc. (so laborer’s can have “choice”). Of course they also dilute any kind of worker negotiating capacity. All of which begs the question of why? Why, in a free market, is it so outrageous for labor to negotiate what it has to offer and contribute in return for an agreed upon wage?  “allows human action—rather than arbitrary notions about how much things ‘should’ cost—to guide prices” Maybe the GOP County Commissioner’s radio station could inform us as to the answer. In addition to school closings plus hogs and frogs reports, the service is underwritten by a plethora of advertisers. Vying for first and second position are not big box food stores and car dealers (remember public transportation?), but rather gun dealers and jobs creators – and we ain’t talking about temp services which were number one years ago. The jobs creators, the lions and kings of the Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! economy are now neck and neck with multiple gun dealerships, from feed stores to boutique “we aim to please” specialty shops (no bumps in price here). And the jobs creators aren’t advertising their products or services. They are looking for employees to fill positions right now. Analysis finds this unprecedented scale of help wanted advertising to be indicative of a wide spread lack, a need. For them to be profitable requires someone to tote that barge, lift that bale. “The Art of the Deal” isn’t required reading to recognize that when it comes to negotiating, admissions of lack, of need, are a vulnerability. One solution for a business to set the price (wages) while maintaining hegemony in negotiating working conditions and benefits (if any) is to eliminate collective representation. Collective representation is the only way that “allows human action—rather than arbitrary notions about how much things ‘should’ cost—to guide prices” of actual labor costs.

Cracks In The Clicking Economy

February 4, 2018

The recent testimonials from the Licking County transit board members left Analysis with a Karl Rove math aftertaste (from previous post: Though budgeted to employ 45 drivers, they can only fill less than 35 positions. Their wish list is 60!). One of the prime reasons given for the lack of drivers was new applicants’ inability to pass drug tests. This was likewise elaborated by Jay Hottinger in the meeting referenced. Indeed, even the Governor and his entourage of wannabees touts this same refrain. Ohio’s 77th district representative, Tim “Pee in the cup” Schaffer, gained notoriety for his repeated legislative attempts to purge the food stamp, TANF and unemployment compensation recipients through the use of “drug tests.” Just for tickles, how many people in the U.S. have a substance addiction? EZ to say illegal immigrants are criminals and killers. Not so EZ to verify the accuracy of the claim. This is not the case with statistics dealing with populations that are not illegal (are you legal?). LiveScience reports in September of 2016 that Federal estimates show over 21 million Americans afflicted with a substance addiction. Of these two thirds would be alcohol, one third drugs (prescription, opioid, etc.). Well, “How many people in the U.S.?” you ask. Good question. The Census gives an estimate of 323 million (latest). Well, EZ, just divide the users by the totality. Not so fast. True, true, true, some kids may be hooked on Bud Lite but according to Kaiser Family Foundation 24% of the U.S. population is under 18 (you wouldn’t want to thin the CHIP enrollment through drug tests, would you?). Then again Kaiser lists 15% of the total population being over 65 (generally not considered in the pool of eligible workers). This leaves 61% of the total population eligible for employment. 197 million Americans are lumped into the employment eligible pool. 21 million of that has substance abuse issues, just over 10% of the normally considered work force population. We are told that our unemployment rate is just over 4%. Analysis finds there to be people already employed with substance addictions. But drug tests don’t screen for alcohol (which is legal). So one third of substance addiction in the U.S. is drug related (which is screened by Tim Schaffer’s test of choice). 7 million Americans with drug substance addictions is 3.5% of the eligible work force and not likely to pass a urine test. Which leaves roughly over .5% of eligible working age Americans (currently unemployed) to fill the 4% unemployment gap that drives so much of the “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!” rhetoric. No wonder the Karl Rove math leaves so many people scratching their heads! True, true, true the “elderly” over 65 are plagued by substance abuse. Analysis also finds them still working. Likewise true that pre 18 year olds are working, but likewise also entering into substance addiction. Analysis finds the inability to fill jobs to be a very real need, though 5% unemployment was traditionally considered full employment as 5% were deemed “unemployable”. I guess the clicking economy is operating on an accelerated efficiency. Every man, woman, child and machine must be at full capacity to keep up with the global competition. Please excuse the digression. Analysis finds the actual “employable” population statistic to have a great bearing not only on transportation’s importance as a public service, but the real rate of earnings (wages), as well as the real need for immigrants. Then again, we could all hold two jobs in order to make America great again.