'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Friday, February 26, 2010


Sometimes, the content of the articles speak for themselves, and require minimal exposition.

Celebrate the Winter Olympics (Part 3)

As for Vancouver’s municipal government and the taxpayers, the bad news is already in. The immediate Olympic legacy for this city of 580,000 people is a nearly $1 billion debt from bailing out the Olympic Village development. Beyond that, people in Vancouver and British Columbia have already seen cuts in services like education, health care and arts financing from their provincial government, which is stuck with many other Olympics-related costs. Many people, including Mrs. Lombardi, expect that more will follow.

While the mood in the city has picked up since the start, when many people were suffering a severe case of buyer’s remorse, the looming budget realities make it unlikely that all will be forgiven or forgotten.

While it’s very hard to see all the costs, I think people are going to pay for it for a long time, said Lee Fletcher as he walked past several flowering cherry trees near his apartment outside Stanley Park, a large tract of forest tucked up against the city’s downtown. Some people are going to benefit hugely, not the average guy. The average guy is going to see his taxes increase.

Neoliberal Parking Enforcement

Oakland parking officers were ordered to avoid enforcing neighborhood parking violations in two of the city's wealthier neighborhoods but told to continue enforcing the same violations in the rest of the city, according to a city memo obtained by The Chronicle.

The July order is corroborated by interviews with three parking officers, who said they and their colleagues had complained about what they deemed a discriminatory practice since it began last summer - to no avail.

It's not fair, said Shirnell Smith, 44, a parking officer for 22 years who has lived in Oakland for 24 years. Smith and the union representing parking officers said the policy has resulted in tickets being issued disproportionately to poor, black and Latino people.

The United Kingdom Adopts the US Financial Model:

The state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland has paid more than 100 bankers at least £1m each in bonuses, despite making a loss of £3.6bn.

In total, the bank will reward its 16,800 investment bankers with £1.3bn in bonuses. The average that each of them will pocket comes to £160,000, made up of a basic salary of £80,000 and the same again in bonus, although that will be paid in shares. That compares to the national average full-time wage of those whose taxes are propping up the bank of about £25,000.

Its chairman, Sir Philip Hampton, said the payouts were the minimum necessary to retain and motivate the staff crucial to the recovery of this bank. The bank has received more than £45bn in state funds. This year's loss is an improvement on the £24.3bn record British corporate deficit in 2008.

Senate Democrats Leave for the Weekend Without Extending Unemployment Benefits:

With most senators already home for the weekend, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., tried Friday morning to have the bill passed on a voice vote, which can be blocked by the objection of a single senator. Bunning objected, as he has repeatedly since Thursday.

Everybody in this chamber wants to extend unemployment benefits, COBRA health care benefits, Bunning said Friday. But, he added, If we can't find $10 billion somewhere for a bill that everybody in this body supports, we will never pay for anything.

Durbin said the nation's economic problems justify borrowing to pay for the programs. He noted that Congress, with Republican support, has extended the benefits in the past without offsetting the costs.

I believe it is unthinkable, unforgivable that we would cut off unemployment insurance payments to these people, Durbin said. Addressing Bunning, he said, Find a way to express your political views that's not at the expense of these people.

The Senate does not have any roll-call votes scheduled before Tuesday, though Democratic leaders said they would continue trying to persuade Bunning to lift his objection, allowing the bill to pass without a recorded vote.

Sometimes, journalists in the mainstream media are kind enough to write this blog for me. Much appreciated.

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