Archive for Economy
A thousand fast food outlets in 60 cities experienced worker walkouts yesterday. The movement that began weeks ago in New York City has spread to the South and West, including Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Memphis, and Raleigh, N.C. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and community organizing groups such as New York Communities for Change called it “the largest protest ever to hit the fast-food industry.”
About 30 workers in Raleigh, N.C., picketed outside a Little Caesars. Julio Wilson said he earned $9 an hour at the pizza restaurant, not enough to support himself and his 5-year-old daughter.
“I know I’m risking my job, but it’s my right to fight for what I deserve,” Wilson said. “Nine dollars an hour is not enough to make ends meet nowadays.”
You want a roof over your head with that?
The New York Times supports low-wage workers in its lead editorial:
Activism among fast-food workers is almost certain to continue and is likely to spread to other underpaid workers. Most of the jobs lost during the recession were midwage jobs, while most of the new jobs have been lower paying. In addition to food-service jobs, big growth areas today include home care and retail sales, with median hourly wages of roughly $10 and $11, respectively. According to the Labor Department, six of the 10 occupations that are projected to add the most jobs by 2020 pay wages at the lower end of the scale.
The strikes are spreading and drawing more attention than I might have expected. McDonalds’ helpful financial planning website for employees assumes they work a second part-time job for a total of about 70 hours a week.
Living the Dream.
With the North Carolina state legislature in recess, Moral Mondays – the Forward Together Movement – began a march across the state, starting in Asheville on August 5 with the largest protest yet. The crowd “well exceeded” the 5,000 the Asheville police department had prepared for, with early police estimates to 10,000.
“You can’t do wrong in Raleigh and then hide back home,” said NC NAACP president the Rev. William Barber. Firing up the crowd as he has in Raleigh, Barber condemned the actions of the state legislature as “constitutionally inconsistent, morally indefensible and economically insane.” Barber and other speakers called out local and state legislators by name, some of whom were in the crowd.
“From the mountains to the coast, we’re sick of this mess,” Barber declared. “This is no momentary hyperventilation or liberal screaming match; this is a movement. We have a governor that has decided to be on the wrong side of history. We have a legislature that is bragging and boasting about its power and is legislating on the basis of lies and discrimination. Though they have temporary power, the future does not belong to them.”
Barber and other speakers addressed education, labor, LGBT rights and a bill seizing the local water system. Asheville local, Heather Rayburn, spoke surrounded with a group of other civil disobedience protestors arrested in Raleigh. Keeping with the moral theme, Rayburn reminded the crowd, “This group of jailbirds and I believe in the Golden Rule. That we should treat people the way we would want to be treated. And politicians should live by the Golden rule too.”
(Cross-posted from Crooks and Liars.)
Paul Krugman’s observations on the impact of urban sprawl reminded me of “Automania 2000,” the 1963 John Halas animated short the 1963 John Halas animated short I watched at Furman Univerity as part of the first Earth Day observance in 1970. (I was still in high school.) Krugman’s column on sprawl is sparked by a study by the Equality of Opportunity Project. Led by economists at Berkeley and Harvard, the study finds an inverse relationship between increased sprawl and decreased social mobility. Eventually, the jobs are literally out of reach. Opportunities are simply too far across town for too many families.
And in Atlanta poor and rich neighborhoods are far apart because, basically, everything is far apart; Atlanta is the Sultan of Sprawl, even more spread out than other major Sun Belt cities. This would make an effective public transportation system nearly impossible to operate even if politicians were willing to pay for it, which they aren’t. As a result, disadvantaged workers often find themselves stranded; there may be jobs available somewhere, but they literally can’t get there.
Here’s some info about employment and housing from Mountain Housing Opportunities. For folks who aren’t aware, “45% of people who work in Buncombe County work within a 3-mile radius of the middle of downtown Asheville (49,690 workers). Of the 49,690 people who work in Asheville’s 3-mile downtown jobs center …
• Almost 23,000 travel over 10 miles to work.
• Over 12,000 travel over 25 miles to work.
• Over 19,000 live outside of Buncombe County.
An employee who commutes 10 miles each way to work and home spends over $2,500 per year in auto costs.”
Click the images to embiggen.
David Forbes has an interesting article in today’s Mountain Xpress regarding a proposed apartment building on Chestnut St. and the underlying issues at work in getting it approved. Many are aware that Asheville has effectively stopped growing geographically. With the loss of annexation, Asheville boundaries will remain fixed for the foreseeable future unless the General Assembly chooses to arbitrarily deannex areas that are now in the city. In order to have revenues keep pace with the ever-rising cost of providing services, we’ll have to grow within our borders. This means more businesses and denser housing in the city. Both require attention to traffic loads and other livability issues.
I don’t know many people who are pro-sprawl, but if we can’t locate affordable housing in the city of Asheville, then we’re going to chew into the open space outside the city, increase commuter traffic on our thoroughfares, increase air pollution in our environment, and deny citizens the opportunity to work their way into the middle class. If we focus on concentrating people of similar income levels then we risk further social stratification that makes cities unhealthy.
I understand and am sensitive to aesthetic concerns, but there is an affordable housing crisis in Asheville that can not be ignored. Mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhoods are going to be a part of our smart-growth future. What we have to do is ensure that density and livability go hand-in-hand. That future invites us all to embrace the fact that we rise and fall together and that hardworking people need places in the city to live. Excerpts from Forbes’ article:
Y’all know that your North Carolina state government is about to lower taxes for the wealthy and big corporate interests while raising taxes for the poor and middle class, right? They’re also going to privatize Medicaid, which will reduce services for the poor. They’re also slashing child care - 31,000 kids are expected to be cut. They’re also doing away with environmental protections. They’re also savaging voting rights. Both the Senate and House versions of the budget are a move towards regressive taxation and underfunded services.
More info to come, but know that the folks at the General Assembly are about to send you the bill for their ALEC ambitions. North Carolina is their new laboratory, and we’re the lab rats.
Here’s a handy, informative powerpoint that illustrates our many challenges and opportunities as a city.
Washington insiders should have let Elizabeth Warren run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau where she’d have less of a public forum. Now she’s in the U.S. Senate where she gets to bring the heat to officials who should be protecting the little guy but are not because they’re too busy covering the backsides of the powerful.