Sunday, September 28, 2008

In hard times, tent cities multiply

Across the U.S., we are seeing the most visible rise in homeless encampments in a generation. Nearly 61 percent of local and state homeless coalitions say they've experienced a rise in homelessness since the foreclosure crisis began in 2007. Or as our own Tim Harris is quoted, "What's happening in Seattle is what's happening everywhere else - on steroids."

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

'Nickelsville' camp continues defiance of city's deadline

From the news: 'Organizers and residents of the homeless encampment dubbed "Nickelsville" in a jab at Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels are ignoring the city's order to pack up move and have begun constructing a wooden shantytown.' We're standing! Come and join us!

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Aimee Curl gets to say "Nickelsville is Here!"

Aimee Curl of the Seattle Weekly, who has been covering the planning stages of the Nickelsville homeless encampment, posts video of the setup Monday.

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Homeless people create 'Nickelsville' in Seattle

The next Nickelsville coverage is in the Seattle Times. With 2600 more homeless people than shelters, Mayor Greg Nickels still tears down homeless encampments. He ordered Nickelodeons to pack up their pink tents and vacate the property; they voted unanimously to stand their ground. "People here, working together, can help each other," a resident said.

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'Nickelsville' homeless camp springs up in South Seattle

I have, as usual, been too busy to post; I am catching up today before heading back out to Nickelsville. The first media story I found was from Northwest Cable News; it includes video. From the text: "Pink may not be the usual color people associate with homelessness, but the new camp is made up of 155 pink tents. They were erected around 4 a.m. Monday, and the people who hope to make this a long term homeless encampment say they don't care about the color as long as the tents keep them warm and safe."

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Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm off to Nickelsville!

Nickelsville, the Seattle shantytown for homeless people who have no other shelter, is going up NOW. For more about it, see Nickelsville on the web. I'll check in with updates when I can.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

McCain flunks Fact Check again

McCain continues to distort Obama's tax plans. In one recent ad, he claims that Obama will tax home heating oil. The facts on the ground: Obama proposed a rebate of up to $1,000 per family to help cover increased heating oil costs; costs of the rebate to be funded by a windfall profits tax on oil companies.

The rationalization for the falsehood is, "Raising taxes on oil companies will result in higher costs to the consumer." That prediction is an honest opinion. The statement, "Obama will tax home heating oil" is not a prediction, it is not an opinion, it is a lie.

The prediction isn't a lie, it's just wrong. Like most of the so-called-conservatives, John McCain has never read Adam Smith and has no idea how a free market actually works.

If a business passes the cost of higher taxes on to the consumer, the consumer sees the cost up front. If consumption falls, business lowers the price and when that cuts into profits, business has a motivation for invention, innovation, finding lower-cost ways to deliver its product.

Trying to lower business costs by lowering business taxes is short-circuiting the free market cycle, NOT supporting it. It removes the motivation for innovation in production.

In the real world, when business taxes are lowered they do not pass the savings on to the customer. Why should they? What incentive do they have to do so?

And lowering taxes on business does NOT make the tax burden disappear. It only transfers it. Customers end up paying at the pump and ALSO at the IRS -- and even non-customers end up paying more at the IRS. too.

End of boring wonk session. Now for the rant:

Stop making American taxpayers subsidize Big Oil on the chance it will hold down the cost of your oil and gas. It never does. It only encourages them to gouge more, both up front and behind our backs.

We pay record prices at the pumps and oil companies post record profits. We pay record prices for groceries and agribusinesses post record profits. How many neurons does it take to recognize that you are being HAD?

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Thank you, John McCain

And thank you, John McCain, for an epidemic of homelessness. Thank you that I get to stand vigil three weeks in a row for homeless people who died without shelter. Heck of a job, Johnny. Bush couldn't have done it without you.

Friday, September 19, 2008

McCain VS Obama, The Issues

Being the WSJ, I expected this to be slanted toward John McCain. It doesn't work out that way.

  • McCain's health plan is projected to cost $1.3 trillion in order to cover 5 million more people; that's $260 per person. Obama's is projected to cost $1.6 trillion to cover 34 million more people; that's $47.06 per person. Much more bang for the buck.

  • "Free trade": McCain is unqualifiedly for it; Obama insists on labor and environmental standards, and using WTO agreements more effectively for American interests.

  • Taxes: On Obama's plan, low and middle-income taxpayers pay less, upper-income more; $85 billion of tax-cut costs offset by raising capital gains tax and closing corporate loopholes. McCain's tax cuts will cost $500 billion per year, mostly benefit corporations and upper-income, no specifics on how to offset ANY of the cost.

  • The estate tax already excludes up to $2 million, taxes estates over 2 million at 45%; is scheduled to exclude up to $3.5 mil next year, tax over that by 45%; be suspended in 2010 and return in 2011 excluding only up to $1 million. (So much for "eliminating the estate tax.") Obama proposes keeping the estate tax (no suspension in 2010) excluding up to $3.5 mil and taxing over that at 45% -- the currently scheduled 2009 level made permanent. Not as good for those who inherit in 2010; better for those who inherit in 2011 and after; just the same for those who inherit in 2009.

  • Both Obama and McCain support education. Obama has a plan; McCain doesn't.
John McCain is all image, no substance.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Palin's appeal to the base

This is not the first time I've agreed with Andrew Sullivan, and it probably won't be the last. Sarah Palin's governing style is eerily similar to George W. Bush.

  • cronyism: not just hiring cronies, hiring unqualified cronies
  • vindictiveness: punishing anything short of 100% uncritical support
  • secrecy and lies
  • piling up debt
And she still has her passionate supporters, even in the small town she left with a big debt.

I think it is because she is divisive; because she rewards cronies (regardless of qualifications) and punishes critics (regardless of accuracy). Whatever Sarah thinks about evolution, she plays to the Old Monkey. By the standards of the Old Monkey, it is right and good to lie to Them, attack Them, and steal Their bananas. It is all for the good of Us & Ours, Home & Hearth, and therefore it is all Good.

To me, McCain/Palin are all talk, no substance; their policies do not help the people supporting them, they actively harm them. Bush has left most of the people voting for him less secure, less prosperous, and more in debt than when he took office; McCain/Palin will continue the downward spiral.

But the Old Monkey follows the tribal chant. "Obama will talk to the Bad Guys! We will bomb the Bad Guys! We're the ones on Your side!" And never mind that "bomb the bad guys" doesn't actually make us any safer; it sounds like strength to the Old Monkey.

We will not win on reason alone. We have to get more people to the polls who vote with humanity, instead of with the Old Monkey.

Offshore Drilling Is Coming to a Vote

A detail I hadn't read before: the current Congressional moratorium on offshore drilling expires automatically on September 30th. Do opponents of offshore drilling have the votes to renew the moratorium? Or is a compromise of some drilling, with some limits, inevitable?

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Here again!

So much going on that I think about blogging... the Nickelsville campaign, the WHEEL shelter campaign, the Obama campaign, the garden and the Global Worming campaign, the Raging Grannies... and by the time I get home to the computer I'm too tired to blog. So I'm trying a few things to make it easier. One of them is Disqus, which will make it easier to track the comments I post on other blogs, which are often longer than what I post here! Hopefully, it will also encourage others to comment.