Rants & Raves for the Week of June 14th, 2010
Last night, Meg “Wall Street” Whitman teamed up with Senate District 15 GOP candidate Sam “The Oil Man” Blakeslee for a ritzy Silicon Valley garden reception and fundraiser where Blakeslee, a former Exxon executive who is bought and paid for the Big Oil interests that want to drill off California’s coast, sought to squeeze out some last-minute campaign cash before Tuesday’s special election, where he’ll be facing off against labor-endorsed candidate and champion for working families, John Laird. But the idea of Big Oil and Wall Street coming together in an effort to wage a hostile corporate takeover of our state was too unnerving for some South Bay workers, who protested outside the fundraiser in Los Gatos with signs and banners, chanting “Sam and Meg, you shall fail – California is not for sale!” The economic philosophy Whitman and Blakeslee share is simple: If it’s good for Wall Street and Big Oil, it’s good for everyone. But we’ve learned the hard way just how flawed that philosophy is. The consequences of Oil Man Sam’s “drill badrill” philosophy can be summed up in one look at the disaster on the Gulf Coast. And the Wall Street agenda Meg Whitman wants to bring to California is responsible for millions of lost jobs and home foreclosures.
Hundreds of thousands of Californians will get their last unemployment checks this week, and all 1.5 million Californians that have applied for unemployment will be affected in the near future (and that doesn’t include the 129,000 Californians who have already exhausted their benefits and are left with no safety net to support them during this brutal economic crisis), unless Congress acts immediately to extend unemployment benefits. The House has already approved the unemployment extension, but last night Senate Republicans once again choose Big Business over workers blocking the bill, which would not only extend UI, but would increase the liability taxes on oil companies, and would also close egregious tax loopholes that allow hedge fund and other investments managers to shelter income at lower tax rates than working families pay on their income. Further Senate action on the bill is not expected until next week.
Instead of cleaning up the disastrous mess it caused, BP is once again focusing its resources on preventing the public from understanding the true cost of the seemingly endless oil spill in the Gulf. This time, BP execs are trying to cover up the truth about the workers and gulf coast residents who are getting sick due to exposure to oil and dispersants. According to BP, only two workers in the oil disaster recovery effort have reported illnesses from chemical exposure, but according to Louisiana state records, at least 74 workers have reported chemical exposure illnesses, along with 35 residents in the area who have been exposed to the harsh pollutants. Instead of covering up the truth, BP’s best PR move would be to address the problem head-on and provide these workers with the appropriate protective gear and medical care.
This week, labor-endorsed gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown released his detailed clean energy jobs plan, which will create half a million new green jobs while also reducing carbon emissions and lessening our dependence on fossil fuels. “Investments in clean energy produce two to three times as many jobs per dollar as gas, oil or coal. And dollars invested in clean energy tend to stay in California, instead of going to other states or other countries,” Brown said. “Clean energy jobs and businesses have grown much faster than the economy as a whole in the past fifteen years, and have continued to grow even during the economic downturn.” According to Brown, California has the ability to produce at least 1.3 million megawatts of renewable energy – roughly 22 times our current electricity capacity. Brown’s plan sets a goal of 20,000 megawatts in renewable energy, as well as key investments in innovative efficiency technology, 2020.
Construction of a high-speed rail system in California has long been hailed as a way to jumpstart California's economy, and predictions indicate that the project could create hundreds of thousands of jobs across the state. A new study released the U.S. Conference of Mayors details the additional economic benefits high-speed rail systems will bring to cities, regions and the entire state. The report entitled looks at four different cities across the U.S., including Los Angeles, to measure the impact of high-speed rail on local economies. The report finds that all cities will benefit, and specifically in LA county, high speed rail would increase the region's economic output $4.3 billion and year and create 55,000 permanent jobs–just in LA! Building high-speed rail will bring jobs to cities from LA through the Central Valley all the way to Sacramento—good, permanent jobs that California desperately needs.