Tag Archives: education

If the 400 just shared a bit more, then no one would be hungry and homeless

Shift Local Recommended Watch: Inequality For All

“This movie is critically important. It exposes the heart of our economic problem.  Something that’s been getting worse and worse for over 30 years. Widening inequality.” – Robert Reich

The Disappearance of the Middle Class

Inequality for All stars Robert Reich, the former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Currently Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley (GO BEARS!). TIME Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He explains that

“There’s no way you can sustain the economy over the long-term without a strong, vibrant and growing middle class”

The flatline of American middle class wages
The flatline of American middle class wages

The middle class… probably the class where most of the people you know fall in. But what exactly makes you a middle class American?

Is our social status based on net income, or maybe the size of our house? Should we factor in how much debt you have? Education plays a role too, but we all know how meaningless degrees are becoming in today’s economy.

The Importance of the Middle Class

  • A strong middle class promotes the development of human capital and a well-educated population.
  • A strong middle class creates a stable source of demand for goods and services.
  • A strong middle class incubates the next generation of entrepreneurs.
  • A strong middle class supports inclusive political and economic institutions, which underpin economic growth.
The Great Prosperity should last forver
The Great Prosperity should last forver

Inequality for All focuses on explaining what lead to the ridiculous income inequality of the the richest country in the world. Basically, the 2008 economic crisis we all lived through mirrored the Great Depression of the 1930′s. So yes, history does repeat itself!

The Great Prosperity that America experienced ended in 1977, six years after the Powell Memo was first published. Back then, UC Berkeley offered free tuition. Isn’t that why it’s called a public university? Now Mari and I have to worry about school loans for many, many years…

Robert Reich’s Impact in Our Lives 

Robert Reich now chooses to be an educator, that’s how he feels he can make the most difference. His amazing intellect and humor makes him a great speaker, and thanks to him, the 99% has a slightly louder voice.

So Why Shift Local?

Those brave enough to start and grow a business that provides living wages, and contributes back to the community are ran by open minded and forward thinking people. They are fighting for the middle class by creating jobs and paying their fair share of taxes. If history repeats itself for another 30 years, then we should reach a point in which income inequality is at the lowest levels in America. If that happens, we might have a decent future for today’s kids.

Brought to you by Marc


Wal Mart Save Money Live Better … Not

Have you played the game Two Truths and a Lie?  Well Wal Mart just played us when they began using their slogan in late 2007: “Save money. Live better.”  It’s true that you save money shopping there, but there’s a truth and a lie in the 2nd half of the slogan.  It’s true that major Wal-Mart investors and the six members of the Walton family (heirs who have the same net worth as the bottom 1/3 of Americans) will continue to live better, but there are few beyond these people.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance is an invaluable resource to understand why supporting independent businesses is important if we want to live better as citizens of a community.  There was a study reported back on January 2007 that examined 3,094 counties across the U.S. between 1977 – 2002, tracking the arrival of new Wal-Mart stores.

The study, conducted by Univ. of California economist David Neumark, found that opening a Wal-Mart store led to a net loss of 150 retail jobs on average, suggesting that a new Wal-Mart job replaces approximately 1.4 workers at other stores
(The Effects of Wal-Mart on Local Labor Markets)

Many independent retailers close down once a new Wal-Mart moves in their county.  This is like a bully in a playground not allowing any other kids to play around the area they claim.  Aside from  job loss there’s other downsides of opening a Wal-Mart in your community:

In addition to incurring new costs, cities that approve big-box development often experience a decline in property and sales tax revenue from existing neighborhood and downtown business districts, as well as older shopping centers. As these areas lose sales and experience vacancies, the value of property declines and with it, the property tax revenue. Sales tax revenue also falls. One study of 116 cities in California found that, in all but two cases, the presence of a big-box store did not correspond to increased sales tax revenue. (Bay Area Economic Forum, Supercenters and the Transformation of the Bay Area Grocery Industry: Issues, Trends, and Impacts, 2004, 74-81)

Unfortunately wherever you buy your home here in the Bay Area, there’s probably a big-box nearby.   Just the past year a new Target opened an exit away from where I live.  Less sales and property tax revenue from businesses means less money for public services like schools!  But let’s not forget how even a slight shift in your spending behavior will generate more funds for your local economy, paving the way for a brighter future.


How a Broken System Stole the American Dream

It has been an uphill battle to recover from the recent economic crisis.  What led to where we are today was the deliberate transfer of wealth from middle class and the poor to the wealthiest members of America.  Isn’t it time to act and prepare for a long-term rebuilding of a broken system?  “Heist: Who Stole the American Dream” is a documentary discussing the roots of the American economic crisis.  Let’s do our part and shift some of our spending back to local communities and help create a fair and sustainable economy.

To learn more about the events that led to this economic crisis, check out the screening of Heist followed by a panel on April 19 at 7pm at Grand Lake Theater in Oakland.  Cost is $15 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors.   Another screening will be held at 9:30pm and the cost is $10 for general admission and $7 for students and seniors.  You can purchase tickets online here.

 Grand Lake Theater is located at 3200 Grand Lake Ave. in Oakland.


Does this look like a film worth seeing to learn more about how we can take back the American dream?