- Moose Lodge
- Special Meeting
- Highway 20
- Mendocino Complex
- Clear Lake
- Evacuation Order
- River Fire
- Counter Man
- Little Dog
- County Regs
- Vess Nolan
- Yesterday's Catch
- Don't Lie
- Redwood Sorrel
- Worker Unfriendly
- Comic Opera
- Development Disease
- Fun Home
- Wartime Whiskey
- Marco Radio
BETSY CAWN, evacuated from Upper Lake, reports:
Thanks for the note – not going mushy on you now, too much to do.
Finally found a free electrical source to recharge the cpu; Moose Lodge @53&20 overloaded, but crowd is being fed, and there are dogs and kids everywhere. Williams and area jammed with Redding evacuees, considering whether to decamp and head to Lower Lake where there is a Red Cross shelter set up at the HS. Finley (farming community in the middle of what is called Big Valley) and Kelseyville (presumably also including the Rivieras – 3000 homes – on advisory warning, but farmer I know there is not budging. Friends in northern Upper Lake uncertain if their homes are intact; one large ranch gone that I know of.
KPFZ was abandoned yesterday afternoon a little after three pm, when mandatory evac notice for Lakeport came through (during the regular Sunday program); no backup or shutdown procedure – but somehow stayed semi-remotely on the air until late last night (telephone hookup with programmers in out-of-town locations).
Real concern is for senior citizens who would otherwise be provided with meals on wheels. Lakeport senior center completely shut down and they recently began providing food services to Lucerne's clients in the Northshore communities (Blue Lakes, Witter Springs, Bachelor Valley, Upper Lake, Nice, and Lucerne). Blue Lakes was notified of mandatory evac a couple of days ago – have no idea where those disabled older adults have gone.
Skilled nursing facility in Lakeport also evacuated day before yesterday; no known disposition. Sutter Hospital and County Jail evacuated (some low-time prisoners were released on Saturday, but no known disposition on remaining inmates).
Moose Lodge asking for supplies, but western ingress to Lake County closed. Without KPFZ, we cannot get this word out. Will send more later after getting cpu recharged and breakfast crowd disburses.
SUPES TO MAKE DISASTER OFFICIAL
Mendocino County Board Of Supervisors
Tuesday, July 31, 2018, 9am
Board Chambers, Room 1070
County Administration Center
Main Topic: Discussion and Possible Action Including (1) Making of a Determination that an Emergency Situation Exists Within Mendocino County and (2) Adoption of a Resolution Declaring a Local Emergency Related To the Mendocino Complex Fire.
AS OF SUNDAY EVENING, Calfire was saying the “Mendocino Complex Fire” had burned over 14,500 acres, but some later estimates have it at over 30,000 acres, and at only 5% containment.
Monday Morning Update (7am): Calfire is now reporting Mendocino Complex totals of 55,987 acres burned; 10% containment; 6 residences destroyed; 10,200 structures threatened.
"Firefighters continue to battle the River and Ranch fires. Crews worked throughout the night to reinforce containment lines while the fire behavior remained extreme. Weather conditions will continue to challenge firefighters as hot, dry and windy conditions persist."
IT'S NOT as if any of you depend on the on-line ava for your fire news, but here we go, off to late start as power was out much of Sunday afternoon, rebooting a little before 8pm.
THE WILDFIRES that began Friday early afternoon in Mendocino County had, by Sunday, burned well into Lake County, with mandatory evacuations commencing Sunday afternoon for Lakeport, Upper Lake, Nice, and the Pine Mountain area of Potter Valley (East of Potter Valley Road). Firefighters continue to work in steep terrain and hundred-degree days, with the fires large enough on some fronts to create their own wind in addition to the usual summer afternoon westerlies.
THE RANCH FIRE burning northeast of Ukiah into Lake County nearly tripled in size to 13,242 acres by Sunday morning, while the River Fire thirty miles to the south that began just north and east of Hopland was smaller in area but had burned nearly into Lakeport by Sunday afternoon.
BOTH FIRES are called the Mendocino Complex by CalFire. So far, four homes have been lost but CalFire says more than 4,500 structures are threatened. Some residents insist that the Mendo Complex is short on firefighting capacity because it has been diverted north to the raging Carr Fire in Shasta County. Locals noted that the Ukiah Airport where CalFire aircraft are dispatched from was quiet Sunday afternoon. CalFire said 820 men and women were on the line at the two Mendo blazes.
Sutter Lakeside Hospital in Lakeport began evacuating patients around 4:15pm because of the threat from flames as several neighborhoods east of town were under mandatory evacuation orders.
POWER WENT OUT in both Lake and Mendocino counties at 3pm, Sunday, but was restored at 7:45pm. The Ranch (Potter Valley) Fire forced the closing of Highway 20 near the Lake-Mendo county line at 3pm Sunday. Lakeport's advisory evacuation order was made mandatory at 3:30pm Sunday afternoon when we also learned that the Ranch Fire had burned north into the Pine Mountain area of east Potter Valley.
WITHOUT POWER to the ava bunker in central Boonville, we got our news of the great world outside from KZYX which, to be gentle, was sporadic and contradictory. About 4pm an announcer advised evacuees to drive south on Highway 20, which runs east-west.
ACCORDING to Bay Area news reports two "Vlats," the monster air tankers, had been assigned to the Mendo Complex Fire. They apparently continued north to Shasta County whose rampaging conflagration is considered the more serious, having claimed six lives so far.
THERE ARE 17 major fires burning in California as of Sunday, consuming more than 200,000 acres so far.
MENDOCINO COUNTY'S tourist-dependent businesses took a fairly large hit Sunday when the power went out. Most businesses in Ukiah, including the new CostCo, and Boonville closed immediately.
VEHICLES pulled in and out of the neighboring Redwood Drive-In for fuel they were unable to get Sunday afternoon. No power, no fuel pumps. The tenuousness of our way of living is never more obvious than during a power outage.
THE SHERIFF and CalFire have issued timely updates, as have local on-line media when the power is on. But the announcements stop when the sun goes down, leaving us all to wonder at the extent of the overnight damage. It's clear the Mendo Complex Fires moved rapidly east and northeast Sunday afternoon.
PG&E HAS DENIED persistent rumors that the power outages were intentional, but the timing of the outages has left people wondering if they’re not shutting things down in some kind of overly cautious preventative maneuver. One unconfirmed report had it that two of PG&E’s three major trunk lines to the north coast were out of service and one was handling the load of all three.
UNDER THESE OBVIOUSLY WARMING CONDITIONS, not only can we expect more later in the year during the even higher fire danger months, but probably from now on summer-like conditions will extend longer and the winter conditions will be shortened.
* * *
JAMES MARMON, LAKE COUNTY, 3:10PM: "Both fires have blown up, Mandatory evac of 'ALL' of Lakeport. Radio (Betsy Cawn) station is closing down as we speak. Some guy is going to broadcast from a mobile phone line here in Clearlake, phone calls will be diverted to him. It don't look good this afternoon."
EVACUATION ORDER (Sunday, July 29, 6:16pm): Mendocino Sheriff issuing an Evacuation Order for East Side Potter Valley Road from 10551 to 11385 and east to the County Line. All locations in the Mid Mountain Area off Mid Mountain Road need to evacuate immediately.
RIVER FIRE Map Update (Monday, noon)
SIIS, A NEPALESE who manned the counter at Pic 'N Pay in Boonville for several years, now works at the 101 Market on South State Street, Ukiah.
MSP made the discovery: "He’s doing business the old fashioned way — in his head! We also talked to an exhausted woman from Scott’s Valley at the store who evacuated Saturday - with 16 horses and 8 dogs! She’s sequestered in the comfy ranch of a lifelong friend until this is over. We wished her luck."
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “Kinda nerve wracking today, my fellow canines. Giant plumes of smoke loomed up over the hills from the east, firetrucks, sirens blaring, went past three times Sunday, these guys were stomping around cursing PG&E because they couldn't work. Even Skrag and his girlfriend looked a little out of sorts. I told everyone, ‘Get used to it. This is the new normal.’ That one elicited a torrent of canine-phobic abuse aimed straight at me, but it's the truth.”
ONE SET OF REGS TOO MANY
by Jim Shields
Ever since the legalization of medical marijuana in the fall of 2015 and the voter-approved legalization of so-called recreational pot in November of 2016, I’ve talked a lot about the perils of financial planning and economic forecasting if you own a private sector business or work in government here in this county, which is ground zero for the ganja industry.
The legalization of ganja is the most significant legislation and public policy created in the past 40 years. It rivals the impact of the voter-enacted Prop 13, which revolutionized (in more ways than one) property taxes in this state. I have also warned people for years who clamored for legalization, be careful of what you wish for. Because with legalization comes regulation, taxes, and enforcement. And you can bet a lot of people are now suffering the consequences of that indisputable maxim.
As I’ve said many times before, no one lives in this county who is not affected economically by marijuana. And that’s true for both the private and public sectors of the economy.
Since I’m the owner of a newspaper and also manage the Laytonville County Water District, I can speak first-hand to dealing with the problem of attempting to figure out just what are the potential financial and economic impacts and consequences of legalized pot.
Forecasting revenue streams for annual budgets and short-term financial planning is difficult right now because the legalization process is in flux and there is no reliable trending on how many growers intend on transitioning into formal compliance with laws, ordinances, and a regulatory framework that is still being written and constructed as we speak.
Keep in mind that state pot laws and county pot ordinances are not written solely for those who grow the stuff. They are also written to protect the rights of those who don’t grow or smoke the stuff, but whose livelihoods may be dependent to one degree or another on what is a mono-economy in many areas of our county
For example, due to the county’s failed cannabis ordinance that has seen less than 10 percent of the estimated 10,000 to 15,000 growers actually make the attempt to file the initial application, early economic trends are not good and the circulation of money is getting tighter.
Le me speak of what’s happening here in the Laytonville area.
The town of Laytonville is nestled on a valley floor between two ranges in the Coastal Mountains. The valley is actually an ancient lakebed that acts as a trap basin for our winter rains that average about 67 inches annually. That’s good news for Laytonville because we are blessed with an aquifer that recharges itself every year, providing the town with a water source that is beyond plentiful.
As the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, I can tell you that the majority of our water sales are derived from folks who grow marijuana. We also sell “bulk water,” which is transported by water trucks to people who live outside district boundaries. Probably 80 percent of that water is used for marijuana cultivation. Those bulk water sales alone amount to approximately one-third of our annual income.
Over the years, the Water District has used the bulk water revenues for two main purposes: to fund our reserve (“rainy day”) account, and as a subsidy that has kept our residential and commercial rates in the low-to-moderate range.
It’s a fact that the majority of our total revenues are directly derived from the proceeds of our customers who grow marijuana. And, no these marijuana growers are not all hippies and back-to-landers. They are a melting pot of people from all backgrounds, including former mill workers, loggers, ranchers, and folks who have regular but not very well-paying jobs.
These are the folks everybody knows as “Moms and Pops.” But something has been happening to their numbers in past year. There’s fewer of them, and the decline is growing with each day.
The reason for the shrinking numbers is basic Economics 101. They can’t make a living any longer due to state and local regulations, and the resulting depression on a market that is awash in pot. Many of them are selling their homes and leaving the area, assuming they can find buyers, which is difficult right now.
Most of these people are legitimate small family farmers, the ones who’ve been here for years, and who are part of our rural communities’ social fabric and integral to our local economies.
These folks getting red-taped to death at the bottom end by complex, convoluted permitting and licensing regulations, and getting crushed from the top by mega-growers who are flooding the marketplace with record pot harvests that depress prices.
My water district is experiencing trends that are currently not encouraging. Our bulk water sales are taking a sizeable hit. Aside from the economic impact on District finances, there’s also an equally important effect to be concerned with. The people who were buying water from us, were not illegally diverting and stealing water for their grow sites. These are the very people who over the years were doing the right thing on the pot front. They were responsible growers who were not trashing our watersheds. These are the very people who should be benefiting from legalization, but they’re not. They’re being forced out of this new, emerging industry being crushed between two sets of regulations, one framework by the state, and the second by local governments such as Mendocino County.
The truth of the matter is there are one too many sets of regulations. One must be eliminated. And there’s really no doubt or difficulty in determining which set of regulations is on the cut list.
By any other description, the County’s pot ordinance is a complete mess, growing messier all the time. It’s time for Mendocino County to exit the pot regulation stage, in fact, the County has over-extended its stay.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: www.kpfn.org.)
MENDOCINO COUNTY HISTORY: CASPAR’S ‘VESS’ – ONE STORY IN A TOWN OF MANY
by Anne Cooper, Kelley House Museum curator
New characters in the panoply of history come to light at the Kelley House on a regular basis, often due to generous donations of time and materials to the archives and museum. A case in point involves items received as part of a large collection of photographs and other keepsakes from Mae Johnson, who died in August 2016.
Mae had been raised in Caspar and knew everyone from its early days. Receiving a box of mementoes is only the first step in an involved and time-consuming process. First there is cataloging of the items, which are then entered into the Kelley House database where they are available to researchers.
One result of this process is the photograph of Sylvester Deshone Nolan. He was known as “Vess,” adopting a shortened version of his first name. This photograph, printed on a post card, has a note on the back written in pencil by Hazel Nimela, another native of Caspar. It says that Mr. Nolan repaired horseshoes, having a shop where that work was done in Caspar. Would that occupation make him a blacksmith or a farrier, or possibly both? The photograph certainly gives viewers the sense of a man who worked hard all his life.
Vess was born in Maine, about 1853. He was living in the vicinity of Point Arena at the time of the federal census of 1880, giving his occupation then as teamster. Certainly a teamster would have to be handy at repairing horseshoes. The census record noted that he had been out of work for five long months that year, due to a broken leg.
Sometime during the subsequent decade, Vess moved north along the coast and settled in Caspar. Brief items reported locally stated that he had purchased the Caspar Hotel in the winter of 1889 and began conducting business there in the spring of 1890.
A brief item dated 1894 mentioned that “Ves Nolan, the genial landlord of the Caspar Hotel,” had a collection of “blooded fowl,” some of which were known for their ability to fight. About that same time, another notice stated that “S. D. Nolan” had been appointed deputy sheriff of Big River Township by Sheriff Johnson. In August of 1895, Vess gave a “social hop” in his hall on a Saturday evening, where the dancing went on into the “wee hours of the morning.” Perhaps that was the evening when Vess began thinking about marriage. He thought long and hard, apparently, as he married for the first time about 1907.
He married Della Lermond, a native of Albion, the daughter of Sanford and Fannie Bacon Lermond. Mr. Nolan was 53 at the time of his wedding; the bride was 25. They had two sons, Harold and Sylvester D. Nolan, Junior. One source of confusion is that there was another prominent Nolan family in Caspar at about the same time. They were Millard and Olga Wahlstrom Nolan who owned the grocery store right next to the Caspar Hotel.
Vess and his family moved to Petaluma about 1925. Harold grew up to join the U.S. Army and was stationed in Honolulu at the beginning of WWII. He later resided in Los Angeles. His brother was a guard at San Quentin before that war.
The information we’ve now assembled concerning this particular North Coast family came from a recently acquired photograph, clippings collected and filed decades ago, and the miracle of the Internet in the guise of ancestry.com.
(If you’re curious about your family’s story, or wish to share it with us, please come by the research office weekday afternoons. If you have a keen eye for detail and enjoy searching for information, we would be happy to have your help as a new volunteer.)
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 29, 2018
DAVID APPIER V, San Francisco/Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
JESSICA CASAGRANDE, Willits. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, domestic abuse.
ROBERTO HERNANDEZ, Lakeport/Ukiah. DUI.
PIPPEN KENT, Fort Bragg. Trespassing, failure to appear.
ESTEBAN RODRIGUEZ, Fort Bragg. Trespassing, failure to appear,
ROBERT TARBAH, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
“WHEN I WAS A KID watching wild-west movies or gangster movies, I wanted to see the bad guy get it. He had killed, beaten, molested, threatened and terrified everybody. He was a violent sadist, a person with zero redeeming features who needed killing bad. He put his filthy hands on the hero’s wife, girlfriend or daughter. I was disappointed when he went down with one shot to the heart or head. “Hangin’s too good fer ‘em,” was how the script read, and I was down with that. I wanted to watch the sonofabitch hurt a little before he died. He deserved it.
We like torture. We condone it. As a grown man I fried an ant with the sun through the lens of my glasses and later wondered what the hell had got into me.
As a kid I liked guns. My father had several. I felt like a sharpshooter with a single-shot .22 rifle. I busted those lined-up bottles one after another, one shot each. Throw them in the water, same thing. As the quick tide carries them by, only a little above the water, bang! One shot each.
The very first time I hunted ducks, in the wet, miserable cold, I bagged a duck, firing a shotgun, with my first try. There in the freezing duck-blind, my father and his friend complimented me, in the quiet voice you use when you’re hunting. Compliments from my father were not easy to come by. I liked hunting at that moment, the physical misery (I was a skinny kid with no fat layer for insulation and clothes that were, at best, only warm-ish) and the ridiculous hour (you are up and out, all your decoys afloat and yourself settled shivering in the wide-open blind, before dawn) notwithstanding.
World War II was barely over. At the movies, WW2 had been the mainstay of Pathé News. I liked guns, killing and torture — all in their proper places, of course. It’s okay to rough up the sadistic Jap death-camp guard before you finish him.
When I denounce villains for their villainous behavior, I sometimes feel a skinny boy’s finger tap me on my shoulder. It doesn’t remind me to denounce killing and torture. It says to me, in that softened, duck-blind voice, “don’t lie.”
That admonition is always with me. I’m a journalist, published in lots of journals large and small. I’ve never had to retract anything.
Raised my three kids mostly solo. I taught them this: DON’T LIE! Life is complicated enough. Lies are snares that can entangle the liar and everybody else. They’re tempting, especially when you’re scared, but don’t do it. The only times truth is not relevant, I told them, is when you’re facing potentially hostile authority, looking for someplace to live or looking for a job.
Decades later I added “white lies.” It’s not necessary, I told my adolescent kids, to tell somebody dying in the hospital, “you look like you’re almost dead.” I said that a more-encouraging greeting was okay. Still, my injunction against lying was a good thing, especially for me. If the truth is too unnecessarily painful, I’ll try to skip the subject. If I can’t, maybe humor can substitute for naked honesty.
But at other times, the unpleasant frisson — all the way to the painful shock — has to be endured because truth is so critical. We live in a period when the Devil is loose in the world, the Prince of Lies. (The Devil’s a myth, but a mighty useful metaphor.) Evil is afoot, and there’s nothing mythical about evil. So I tell an odious truth, that we enjoy torture, because that must be acknowledged if we intend to eliminate it. I realize, too, that not everybody once pulled a wing off a fly, but the deed, and/or many like it, is more typical of childhood than not. There’s fascination in watching things at extremes — doing physical exploits or mental ones, absorbing humiliation, triumph, intense pleasure or intense pain.
These are not the subjects of polite, dinner-table exchanges. These are not polite, dinner-table times. We rail at Trump for his insultingly transparent lies (“how stupid does he think we are!”), but consider who he follows: Barack Obama, whose lies were well crafted to be hard to call out and hard to expose in headlines — “clever” lies, in contrast to Trump’s constant whoppers; George W. Bush, who cared nothing for the truth, ever; Bill Clinton, who was smart enough to be able to simplify abstruse subjects so that ordinary people could understand them, but, even with those unmatched communication skills, lied like a cheap clock; Bush I — a professional liar, eleventh head of the CIA, the Central Misinformation Agency. He lied about his World War 2 deeds and found mendacity to be his tool of choice whenever “public service” required it. Reagan, Nixon, LBJ — these men were accomplished and deadeningly frequent liars, all.
The fragile gains on bestiality that Homo sapiens has made are offset by our unique ability to lie, our unique appetite for cruelty and our insatiable greed. These are attributes the “lower” animals don’t have and we tolerate at our peril. Education — excellent and rigorous — is the principal defense against our worst selves. There’s no second or third choice.
HANDS OFF TRUMP
Regarding last week’s letters from Lee Simon from Virginia and Frank Graham from Navarro. They are lost souls who do not know what reality is. They are anti-American. So you really can't blame them. That's what most liberals are. If they don't like being in this country and my views on things they can stick it up there you know what and get out of the country.
There are so many fires now you really think maybe something is up. Maybe ISIS has figured out a way to get into the United States. They are everywhere. It's sad that all these people have to lose their property just because some idiot sets a fire.
It makes me sick to hear people cry and moan about guns being a big problem. They are not a problem until a human being touches it. Cars are not a problem until somebody drives it. Fires are not a problem until somebody lights it. Boats do nothing wrong until somebody drives it. These things are governed by human beings and their nature, not by the individual object that they blame. I could go on but I won't.
There could not be a stupider, rottener, more hypocritical person on the face of the earth than Jerry Moonbeam Brown.
God bless Donald Trump.
PS. I don't mind people talking about me and my letters. I'm sure that's what happens when people have a different point of view. But to attack the President of the United States is a different story. It looks like its treasonous or maybe somebody who should be run out of the country. Attacking the President is not right. It's okay to attack the Governor though because he's just a little bit above us.
ALMOST 80% OF US WORKERS LIVE FROM PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK. HERE'S WHY
by Robert Reich
The official rate of unemployment in America has plunged to a remarkably low 3.8%. The Federal Reserve forecasts that the unemployment rate will reach 3.5% by the end of the year.
But the official rate hides more troubling realities: legions of college grads overqualified for their jobs, a growing number of contract workers with no job security, and an army of part-time workers desperate for full-time jobs. Almost 80% of Americans say they live from paycheck to paycheck, many not knowing how big their next one will be.
Blanketing all of this are stagnant wages and vanishing job benefits. The typical American worker now earns around $44,500 a year, not much more than what the typical worker earned in 40 years ago, adjusted for inflation. Although the US economy continues to grow, most of the gains have been going to a relatively few top executives of large companies, financiers, and inventors and owners of digital devices.
America doesn’t have a jobs crisis. It has a good jobs crisis.
When Republicans delivered their $1.5tn tax cut last December they predicted a big wage boost for American workers. Forget it. Wages actually dropped in the second quarter of this year.
Not even the current low rate of unemployment is forcing employers to raise wages. Contrast this with the late 1990s, the last time unemployment dipped close to where it is today, when the portion of national income going into wages was 3% points higher than it is today.
What’s going on? Simply put, the vast majority of American workers have lost just about all their bargaining power. The erosion of that bargaining power is one of the biggest economic stories of the past four decades, yet it’s less about supply and demand than about institutions and politics.
Two fundamental forces have changed the structure of the US economy, directly altering the balance of power between business and labor. The first is the increasing difficulty for workers of joining together in trade unions. The second is the growing ease by which corporations can join together in oligopolies or to form monopolies.
By the mid-1950s more than a third of all private-sector workers in the United States were unionized. In subsequent decades public employees became organized, too. Employers were required by law not just to permit unions but to negotiate in good faith with them. This gave workers significant power to demand better wages, hours, benefits, and working conditions. (Agreements in unionized industries set the benchmarks for the non-unionized).
Yet starting in the 1980s and with increasing ferocity since then, private-sector employers have fought against unions. Ronald Reagan’s decision to fire the nation’s air-traffic controllers, who went on an illegal strike, signaled to private-sector employers that fighting unions was legitimate. A wave of hostile takeovers pushed employers to do whatever was necessary to maximize shareholder returns. Together, they ushered in an era of union-busting.
Employers have been firing workers who attempt to organize, threatening to relocate to more “business friendly” states if companies unionize, mounting campaigns against union votes, and summoning replacement workers when unionized workers strike. Employer groups have lobbied states to enact more so-called “right-to-work” laws that bar unions from requiring dues from workers they represent. A recent supreme court opinion delivered by the court’s five Republican appointees has extended the principle of “right-to-work” to public employees.
Today, fewer than 7% of private-sector workers are unionized, and public-employee unions are in grave jeopardy, not least because of the supreme court ruling. The declining share of total US income going to the middle since the late 1960s – defined as 50% above and 50% below the median – correlates directly with that decline in unionization.
Perhaps even more significantly, the share of total income going to the richest 10 percent of Americans over the last century is almost exactly inversely related to the share of the nation’s workers who are unionized. (See chart below). When it comes to dividing up the pie, most American workers today have little or no say. The pie is growing but they’re getting only the crumbs.
Over the same period time, antitrust enforcement has gone into remission. The US government has essentially given a green light to companies seeking to gain monopoly power over digital platforms and networks (Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook); wanting to merge into giant oligopolies (pharmaceuticals, health insurers, airlines, seed producers, food processors, military contractors, Wall Street banks, internet service providers); or intent on creating local monopolies (food distributors, waste disposal companies, hospitals).
This means workers are spending more on such goods and services than they would were these markets more competitive. It’s exactly as if their paychecks were cut. Concentrated economic power has also given corporations more ability to hold down wages, because workers have less choice of whom to work for. And it has let companies impose on workers provisions that further weaken their bargaining power, such as anti-poaching and mandatory arbitration agreements.
This great shift in bargaining power, from workers to corporations, has pushed a larger portion of national income into profits and a lower portion into wages than at any time since the second world war. In recent years, most of those profits have gone into higher executive pay and higher share prices rather than into new investment or worker pay. Add to this the fact that the richest 10% of Americans own about 80% of all shares of stock (the top 1% owns about 40%), and you get a broader picture of how and why inequality has widened so dramatically.
Another consequence: corporations and wealthy individuals have had more money to pour into political campaigns and lobbying, while labor unions have had far less. In 1978, for example, congressional campaign contributions by labor Political Action Committees were on par with corporate PAC contributions. But since 1980, corporate PAC giving has grown at a much faster clip, and today the gulf is huge.
It is no coincidence that all three branches of the federal government, as well as most state governments, have become more “business-friendly” and less “worker-friendly” than at any time since the 1920s. As I’ve noted, Congress recently slashed the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. Meanwhile, John Roberts’ supreme court has more often sided with business interests in cases involving labor, the environment, or consumers than has any supreme court since the mid-1930s. Over the past year it not only ruled against public employee unions but also decided that workers cannot join together in class action suits when their employment contract calls for mandatory arbitration. The federal minimum wage has not been increased since 2009, and is now about where it was in 1950 when adjusted for inflation. Trump’s labor department is busily repealing many rules and regulations designed to protect workers.
The combination of high corporate profits and growing corporate political power has created a vicious cycle: higher profits have generated more political influence, which has altered the rules of the game through legislative, congressional, and judicial action – enabling corporations to extract even more profit. The biggest losers, from whom most profits have been extracted, have been average workers.
America’s shift from farm to factory was accompanied by decades of bloody labor conflict.
The shift from factory to office and other sedentary jobs created other social upheaval. The more recent shift in bargaining power from workers to large corporations – and consequentially, the dramatic widening of inequalities of income, wealth, and political power – has had a more unfortunate and, I fear, more lasting consequence: an angry working class vulnerable to demagogues peddling authoritarianism, racism, and xenophobia.
(Robert Reich is chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and was secretary of labour in the Clinton administration. His latest book, The Common Good, was published earlier this year.)
THE CUCKOO’S NEST
Fear not! Rumor has it that the “Un-Presidential” comic opera will run for at least least two more seasons. Indeed, recent polling shows that it has a rating higher than Breaking Bad and The Sopranos. The difference? This soapy opera is real— very, very real. Viewers must never count on facts getting in the way of bombast, for that makes it all the more mesmerizing. Among its sponsors (FOX, NRA, GOP, and Bitter Business Bureau), the word is to batten down the hatches and keep twittering. The public is asked to Just sit back and relax, pop open those cans of brewski, and applaud on cue. For those who cannot bring themselves to watch, there is always the bi-carb, emotional counseling, and re-runs of The Twilight Zone to keep one sane. Real fans of “Un-Presidential” love their MAGA hats, believe that aliens are taking over the universe, and slavery was never as bad as it has been made out to be.
So, what are the producers of the show promising that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats? The Mini-Me-In-Chief will keep everyone in suspense from show to show as he fiddles on his twitter machine and the capital burns. Shifty Sanders will extoll the wonders of having a leader who can, at last, be counted upon to tell tall tales, while banishing those nattering-nabobs of press-dom who dare not to fawn over every pronouncement as ABSOLUT (as in Vodka) facts. In every episode, the toadies in $2,000 Armani suits can be seen at every turn hissing “Lock her up!”. The wonderous Pompus Pompeo will regularly provide his cameo appearances in toga attire as he scurries about ripping up whatever stray bits of diplomacy may yet be left over from former “weak and evil-doing” career diplomats — those fuzzy headed Lib Labs as he calls them. Good Old Uncle Ben Carson will thrall the audience with tearing down housing across the poverty-strewn landscape. Her Heinous Highness Betsy-de-Boss can be seen editing out dangerous words in textbooks and extolling the wonders of vouchers-for-profit schooling. Not to be outdone, Pruitt’s penurious spawn can be counted on to soar to new heights in deconstructing nature. Ah, what drama there is when Bolton-the Bomber counsels war on the weak non-believers, those threats to National Survival that lurk on yet-to-be acquired lands half a world away. Lovely Nielson of Homeland fame appears at every turn leading the starved “Walking Half-Dead” in hand cuffs across desert landscapes toward oblivion. Oh, what fun is in store!
Of course, there are the kinks still to be worked out in the plot. There must be a good reason cooked up if the economy tanks — blame must be rained down on those damned Dems, you know. If the nuclear option is invoked to lock up meddlesome journalists, an incident must be fomented that shows that they are a national security risk. Congress needs to get its act together and manufacture a fresh set of rubber stamps to keep the Mini-Me happy. And, why not suspend the rules of political engagement and simply install the Genius-in-Chief in the Ovaltine Office for Life? Stay tuned.
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
What’s really discouraging here in southern New England is, as ‘brick and mortar’ stores are being abandoned wholesale like historic main streets were abandoned 50 years ago, same way, more strip mall like edifices are still being built, gobbling up meadows, orchards, farmland and any green spaces that survived earlier (c1950-1975) development onslaughts. It seems like the only thing we know how to do here is plow up the remaining land and build squat, ugly commercial building surrounded by acres and acres of paved parking lots.
Even tho I didn’t look forward to the social and economic chaos that would result in diminished supplies of petroleum, I thought at least it would slow down this so called ‘suburban development’ that was eating up the whole state.
Now we find out a little way west of here, along the Farmington River, land that has been farmed continuously since the late 17th century has been sold to developers. The plan: 500 apartments, retail, and restaurants.
I can tell you right now these shops and restaurants will fail before not too long, and the apartment complex itself will devolve eventually into a Section 8 ghetto. But the town of only 8500 people is eager for the fees and taxes the project will generate.
A project like this will cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars, where does the money come from? And if there is cash available for certain losers like this one, how close are we really to any sort of economic collapse or readjustment?
JOIN US AT OUR GALA PERFORMANCE OF FUN HOME TODAY AT 3PM!
Gloriana presents FUN HOME. After her father dies unexpectedly, Alison dives deep into her past to tell the story of the volatile, brilliant, man whose secrets defined her family and her life. When memories of her 1970s childhood merge with her burgeoning college love life they help her discover she had more in common with her father than she ever knew. Fun Home runs at Eagles Hall from July 26 through August 12 with performances at 7:30 p.m on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and Sunday matinees beginning at 3 p.m. Join us for our Gala performance today at 3:00! Afterwards we will be serving delicious 70's food including funeral potatoes, turkey meatloaf, watergate salad, carrot cake, vegan pigs in a blanket, and more! We will also have champagne and sangria. Tickets available at https://funhomegmt.bpt.me and Harvest Market in Fort Bragg. Gala tickets are $30 for general, $28 for seniors and $15 for youth. Recommended for ages 13 and up.
JULY 31, 1943 — Wartime thirsts will suffer this coming fall, Government beverage agencies indicated yesterday. Whiskey stocks nationally are reported at a seven-year low. They are lower locally and going down fast. The Treasury disclosed that domestic whiskey and other distilled spirits dropped nearly 100,000,000 gallons during the fiscal year ending June 30. This reflects the Government ban on gin and whiskey production, which became effective last October. The war-crowded Bay Area taverns have reported bourbon supplies particularly low. Although the Government reports the beer shortage in the Nation is due only to increased drinking, local breweries report that they may have to close in 30 days if they don’t get shipments of corn from the middle West before many weeks.
MEMO OF THE AIR
Deadline to get your writing on the air tonight is as late as 7pm. Just email it. Even if you're reading this after 7, it's never too late; send it anyway and I'll read it on /next/ week's show. I don't screen anything out, just if there are swears I wait to read it after 10pm. Or come in and read it (or sing and dance or otherwise express it) yourself next week, see above, same thing about the swears.
Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio: Every Friday, 9pm to 5am on 107.7fm KNYO-LP Fort Bragg, and 105.1fm KMEC-LP Ukiah*. And also there and anywhere else via http://knyo.org
About the pesky problem with connecting to KMEC that, after the recent repair and rebuild of KMEC's computer trip, somehow anyway resulted in MOTA being only on KNYO last week: Sid Cooperider identified and attacked the new problem with great vigor, a term often used by the sainted John F. Kennedy, and he (Sid, not JFK) assures me things will be vigorously copacetic tonight.
I'm not frantic about this. I've come to think of it more like a weather report. Tonight there is 100-percent chance of show in Fort Bragg and via https://knyo.org and lets say 90-percent chance of show in Ukiah.
That's good enough for me.
Also, you can always go to https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com and listen to last week's show, and shows before that, and read and watch and play with all sorts of other semi-educational materials. That's a good thing to recall when you're stuck indoors because of smoke from the many fires of the end of the world, which as I write is right now, from the biblical/numerological so-called blood moon effect visible on the other side of the planet though not from here this time, or to draw you out of your perfectly reasonable depression about running out of time to apologize to all the people you hurt during the time before this particular end of the world. You can relax and watch a clever squirrel evade a cat by hiding on the cat's back, the way so many little underdog fugitive spaceships have done in Star Wars and Star Trek and Stargate and Farscape and Galactica and Babylon 5 and Cowboy Bebop, and so on, and sometimes that's enough. It's a good trick. It always works. The big ship is always an idiot. If only someone in the big ship was watching the show /we're/ watching, but they're all staring at their radar screens, bouncing their restless knees, waiting for their shift to end, or they're in charge, striding in and out of pneumatic sliding doors, shouting orders and grinding their teeth. "They can't have got far! Find them!"
Here, meditate on a portfolio of a thousand abandoned pools: https://tinyurl.com/MillionAbandonedPools