Friday, May 31, 2013

I.T. workers and guest workers

By Hal Salzman, Daniel Kuehn, and B. Lindsay Lowell 
May 30, 2013
In 2011, the number of high-skilled (i.e., possessing at least a college degree) guestworkers was estimated to be equal to between one-third to one-half of new job openings filled by all college graduates in the information technology (IT) sector. However, a new analysis finds that in 2011, the number of college-educated guestworkers under the age of 30 in IT was equal to two-thirds of all the 166,000 new college-educated IT job holders under the age of 30. At a time when Congress is proposing to dramatically increase the number of skilled guestworkers available to IT and other industries, it is important to consider the adverse impact of increasing the guestworker flow on U.S. college graduates just entering the workforce and on those in school making plans for their future.
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the country's largest skilled guestworker program (H-1B) is primarily used to fill "entry-level" positions. Thus, recent graduates in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields seeking an initial foothold in the IT job market are competing directly with young college-educated guestworkers for these entry-level positions. The large supply of young guestworkers not only provides competition to new U.S. graduates, but also provides a large supply of younger, lower-paid workers who can substitute for older workers. The effect of this large supply of guestworkers can be seen in wages in IT, which have remained flat, and are hovering around late 1990s levels in real terms. Survey data show this is acting as a discouraging signal to STEM grads considering entering the IT job market.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Democrats and the Economy

Brown continues Delta tunnel plans

Remaining Delta tunnel plan documents released amidst broad opposition 

by Dan Bacher 

The California Natural Resources Agency on May 29 released to the public the remaining chapters of the controversial Administrative Draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. 

A broad coalition of environmental groups, fishing organizations, Indian Tribes, family farmers, consumer advocates, Delta residents and elected officials opposes Governor Jerry Brown's tunnel plan because of the dire threat it poses to the Delta ecosystem and because of its enormous economic costs. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

IRS Scandal - not what it seems

The real scandal about the IRS is that they’ve been overwhelmed with dark money groups claiming nonprofit status since the passing of Citizens United, and conservative groups have outspent liberal groups on political spending by 34-1, according to a Center for Responsive Politics analysis of the IRS and FEC records.
Open Secrets reported, “Conservative nonprofits that received tax-exempt status since the beginning of 2010 and also filed election spending reports with the Federal Election Commission overwhelmed liberal groups in terms of money spent on politics, an analysis of Internal Revenue Service and FEC records shows.”
Furthermore, their analysis showed, “Of the 21 organizations that received rulings from the IRS after January 1, 2010, and filed FEC reports in 2010 or 2012, 13 were conservative. They outspent the liberal groups in that category by a factor of nearly 34-to-1.”

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day- Remember and Resolve

Jack Rothman
Memorial Day is upon us. Neighbors are hanging flags in front of their homes. Parades are planned for Main Street. Veterans are searching the back of closets for worn uniforms. And arrangements are being made to bring bouquets of flowers to cemeteries across the nation. We are preoccupied with thinking about heroes and the sacrifices they made to keep our country safe.

Our leaders talk at length about our need for defense in a perilous world. Almost everything can be cut from the emaciated national budget except our defense expenses. The president needs mounting unrestricted authority to send our armed forces and drones anywhere to thwart our many malevolent enemies. This talk of threat and danger to our very being is broadcast recurrently by the political class and the media and widely accepted as truth by citizens as a patriotic duty.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Should we pay $ 50 billion for tunnels?

Why should Californians pay for $50 billion tunnel boondoggle? 

by Dan Bacher 

As opposition to Governor Jerry Brown's plan to build two massive tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta increases every day, Brown administration officials continue to mount a full court press for the project's completion. 

Dr. Jerry Meral, Brown’s point man for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels, recently said, "the Delta cannot be saved," in spite of administration claims that one of the co-equal goals of the plan is "ecosystem restoration." 

Then in an op-ed piece for the Stockton Record, Meral now claims, "No additional water withdrawal from the Delta is being sought under the application for this permit." (

Restore the Delta (RTD) responded to Meral’s latest statement by asking, “So why then should rate payers from Southern California and tax payers throughout the state be asked to pick up the tab for a $50 billion project that will not make more water for Southern California or save the Delta?” 

That is a very good question. How can the Brown administration possibly ask the taxpayers and rate payers to pay for a $50 billion pork barrel boondoggle, putting Californians in debt for generations to come, when the project makes absolutely no sense? 

Restore the Delta emphasized, “There is a better solution to California’s water challenges than to build Peripheral Tunnels that won’t create one drop of new water and will not save the Delta.” Restore the Delta’s plan is here: 

More on corporate tax avoidance

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Apple- Pay Your Taxes

A Senate panel is examining how Apple sidestepped tens of billions of dollars in taxes around the world.
The panel is led by Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and a fierce critic of what he sees as corporate wrongdoing.  Carl Levin's opening statement:

Today the Subcommittee holds a second hearing to examine how U.S.-based multinational corporations use loopholes in the tax code to move profits to offshore tax havens and avoid paying U.S. taxes. In September, we examined two case studies: (1) a study of how Microsoft Corporation shifted profits on U.S. sales to U.S. customers from the United States to an offshore tax haven; and (2) a study of how Hewlett-Packard devised a “staggered foreign loan program” to effectively repatriate offshore profits to the United States without paying U.S. taxes that are supposed to follow repatriation.
Today the Subcommittee will focus on how Apple effectively shifts billions of dollars in profits offshore, profits that under one section of the tax code should nonetheless be subject to U.S. taxes, but through a complex process avoids those taxes.
Our purpose with these hearings is to shine a light on practices that have allowed U.S.-based multinational corporations to amass an estimated $1.9 trillion in profits in offshore tax havens, shielded from U.S. taxes. One study has estimated that offshore earnings stockpiled by S&P 500 companies using these techniques have increased 400 percent in the last decade.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tell the IRS to investigate and prosecute offshore tax evasion

Tell the IRS to investigate and prosecute offshore tax evasion

Recently, the IRS and its counterparts in the European Union and Australia gained access to 400 gigabytes of leaked data acquired by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. This data exposes potential tax evasion by individuals, companies, and private trusts through the use of offshore tax havens. These governmental agencies are beginning to sift through the data and pursue possible illegal activity.

This is exactly the type of work the IRS should be focusing on, and international coordination of this sort could be a game changer when it comes to cracking down on those who dodge their tax bills by hiding money around in secret accounts around the globe. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How class works in the U.S.

Sweatshops kill workers - Bangladesh, China

By David Bacon

At the Ali Enterprises garment sweatshop in Pakistan in 2011, 300 people burned to death - the largest factory fire in world history. Last year in Bangladesh workers jumped from the windows of the burning Tazreen factory because the doors were locked, falling to the pavement below as their sisters had done in the notorious Triangle Shirtwaist fire in New York City in 1911. In the Foxconn plant in China, where the iPads and iPhones are assembled, workers were pushed so hard that they began to kill themselves in 2010.

And during the week of April 21, over 350 workers were killed when the Rana Plaza building collapsed. Factory owners refused to evacuate the building after huge cracks appeared in the walls, even after safety engineers told them not to let workers inside. Workers told IndustriALL union federation representatives they'd be docked three days pay for each day of an absence, and so went inside despite their worries.

Not good for the corporate image of WalMart, whose clothes were sewn at Tazreen, or Apple, whose iPads and iPhones are put together at Foxconn. Not good for J. C. Penney, Benetton or the Spanish clothing brand El Corte Ingl├ęs, whose labels or cutting orders were found in the rubble at Rana Plaza. According to the International Labor Rights Forum, "one of the factories in the Rana complex, Ether-Tex, had listed Walmart-Canada as a buyer on their website."
When workers started committing suicide at Foxconn, protestors held signs with their names in front of Apple's flagship store, demanding better conditions.  But the strategy employed by most large manufacturers is not to improve the conditions that kill workers. They are especially unwilling to recognize workers' unions that would act as monitors and enforcers of signed agreements guaranteeing livable wages and safety procedures that wouldn't put lives at risk.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Sequester does not save money. Repeal it.

David Johnson. Campaign for America’s Future
Cutting Meals On Wheels doesn’t save the government a dime, it costs $489 million a year. Cutting IRS obviously increases the deficit because it lowers tax revenue. Other cuts also increase spending. All obviously hurt the economy. Tell me again, what’s the justification for this? Repeal this foolish and unjustified sequester.

The sequester is a series of across-the-board budget cuts (except not for the FAA when it affects business flyers). This year $85 billion is cut from government spending. This not only takes $85 billion out of the economy, it takes it out from programs where the spending was set up to maximize the benefit to We the People. (That is the point of government spending.)
A few examples:
Meals on Wheels: The Center for Effective Government (CFFEG) reports that this year’s $10 million sequester “savings” on the Meals on Wheels program “will be dwarfed by at least $489 million per year in increased spending on Medicaid, both this year and in each subsequent year that sequestration remains in place.” By helping elderly people stay at home, the program keeps them from needing to move to nursing homes rather than home care. “The average cost to Medicaid of nursing home care per patient is approximately $57,878 annually.” “Nationally, according to a survey by the Administration on Aging, as many as “92% [of enrollees] say Meals on Wheels means they can continue to live in their own home.” Click through for more, calculations, etc.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Apple Corporate Tax dodge- Sequester not necessary


The scheme that Apple cooked up this week to finance a $55 billion stock buyback for its shareholders was orchestrated to avoid paying $9.2 billion in taxes, Bloomberg reported Friday.
That $9.2 billion tax bill that Apple dodged would have been enough to make unnecessary all of the major budget cuts we’ve been writing about this week as part of our “Repeal the Sequester” campaign. With $9.2 billion, the federal government could have (based on lists compiled byThe Washington Post’s Wonkblog and Think Progress):
  • Paid for rescinding the furloughs of air traffic controllers without raiding $250 million from an airport improvement fund.
  • Restored Head Start funding to avoid having to kick an estimated 70,000 people out of the program this year.
  • Kept Meals on Wheels funding for seniors intact.
  • Restored National Institutes of Health funding, so that research on cancer treatments and other diseases could continue uninterrupted.
  • Rescinded cuts of up to 10.7 percent in unemployment checks to people who have been looking for work for more than six months without success.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

austerity is a trap

Mathew Iglessias,
There is no greater obstacle to progressive change than the idea of
austerity. It has dominated economic policy in Europe, resulting in
continued slow growth (or outright contraction) and high unemployment.
These conditions have produced demoralized electorates that lack faith in
all politiciansa cynicism that has only deepened when leftist parties have
attained power and failed to revive growth. In such an environment,
progressive change is not possible, and the left is reduced to purely
defensive actions.

In the U.S., things are slightly better, but our economic policy
discussions are still dominated by variants of austerity. The fiscal cliff
deal at the beginning of this year slowed the economy, and the sequester is slowing it more. Yet even with unemployment at 7.6 percent, growth
projections for the year halved to 1.4 percent, and the latest jobs report
coming in at an anemic 88,000, policy discussion continues to focus on the
need to further cut the deficit. Of course, such a focus precludes any
progressive economic policies, including, critically, spending programs
that would help revive the economy and invest in our economic future.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Cinco de Mayo event- telling our own story

Safeway picket.  1973. 
Mexican American Digital History.   Cinco de Mayo event.
Our next event is -  “Telling our own story,”  Sat.  May 4, 2013.   1:30- 3:30  PM  at the  Sol Collective.  2574 21st. Street, Sacramento, Ca. 95818.  The  directors of the Mexican American Digital History Project will exhibit our current work  and discuss this effort.   We will assist volunteers to scan and upload their materials.
The Mexican American Digital History project is a new online effort  to collect and assemble a digital record  of the  Chicano/Mexican American history in the Sacramento region from 1940- present.  Directors are Dr. Duane Campbell and Prof. Dolores Delgado Campbell.
We encourage contributions of news articles, written documents, and photos.
For further information contact us at