Current Affairs Archives
Election Slate November 2018 2018
Governor: Gavin Newsom
He’s been working well with Jerry Brown and is ideally positioned to carry on that work. The Governor of California is an internationally significant role—5th largest economy in the world—and Newsom can take the heat. I'd like to see someone less corporate-cosy in this role, but Newsom is vastly closer to what I'd want than John Cox!
Lieutenant Governor: Eleni Kounalakis
Wish Bleich had made it this far because this role’s involvement in state environmental issues makes Kounalakis' and Hernandez' oil money in their campaign coffers leave me a little nervous about who has this seat on the California Coastal Commission. Also gets a seat on the University of California Board of Regents. Of these two, I'm going with Kounalakis because of endorsements by Vote Pro Choice, Emily's List, and the election guide from bay area locals Edie Irons and Janet Cox.
Secretary of State: Alex Padilla
Easy choice here. Glad to have him keep fighting to protect our voting rights.
Controller: Betty T. Yee
Another easy one. Delighted to have her long experience with state financial matters continuing to serve us. Endorsed by MoveOn's membership.
Treasurer: Fiona Ma
Sound financial background and has a seriously impressive endorsement list.
Attorney General: Xavier Becerra
Becerra has stepped in very well since being appointed by Governor Brown in January when Kamala Harris went to the U.S. Senate. He's successfully managed legal challenges maintaining California values and policies against the Trump/Pence administration.
Insurance Commissioner: Ricardo Lara
His opponent Steve Poizner’s got the experience, but Poizner's anti-immigrant stance in his 2010 campaign (back when he was a Republican) took him off my list in the primary. Despite some compelling counter-arguments you should consider in the election guide from bay area locals Edie Irons and Janet Cox, I'm going with the Vote Pro Choice recommendation and voting for Lara.
Board of Equalization Member, District 2: Malia Cohen
Whether California’s Board of Equalization, the only elected tax board in the country, should exist at all is definitely a question. Certainly we need more protections against money flowing as campaign contributions to someone who may make a judicial decision for the donor. But while it exists we need good people elected to it. Cohen’s goal for the position is to conduct any remaining business for the BoE as transparently as possible, while rebuilding relationships between remaining staff and county assessors. She can be very beneficial in transitioning the BoE to an improved role.
U.S. Senate: Dianne Feinstein
With a different administration in Washington, D.C., and another candidate that offset the potential loss of Feinstein’s experience and Senate rank, I might consider an alternative, but we are fighting for people’s lives against Trump/Pence and we need to keep her power working for us. Remember: if Dems take back the Senate, she will be the chair of the Judiciary Committee, a vital role during any impeachment proceedings in Congress. To my relief, Feinstein has moved left on some issues and has been a strong force for good in the Senate over the past year, so I’m not holding my nose here. (I continue to oppose Kevin de León because of his lack of action against his former housemate, sexual harasser Tony Mendoza.)
U.S. Representative, District 12: Nancy Pelosi
Again, we need this experienced, powerful woman continuing to fight for us at the national level.
More State Offices
State Assembly Member: David Chiu
Always a delight to vote for Chiu. He was great here in SF; he's been great at the State level. He works hard and smart.
Judicial elections are bad. Judges should not be in the business of campaigning, raising money, and so forth; they should be appointed to life terms by the political branches, removable for cause. But here we are nonetheless. In California, justices of the Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal are appointed by the Governor, with periodic referenda on whether to “retain” them. Justices are almost always retained. Between 1934 and 1986, no justice ever failed his or her retention vote. In 1986, three justices of the Supreme Court were voted out (arguably) because of their principled opposition to the death penalty. No Justice has failed a retention vote since then. So, vote yes on retaining appellate judges! The fact that there's a vote at all is bad, but the least we can do is vote “yes.”
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California: Corrigan (no vote)
Corrigan dissented in the 2008 same-sex marriage case. In line with the above on whether we should even be voting on retention at all, I'm not voting No, but I am skipping this vote. I'm not a lawyer—I don't know the grounds of her dissent (which may have been purely procedure-related rather than on the issue)—but that sure seems like a no-brainer she got wrong.
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California: Kruger YES
Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 1: Humes YES
Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 1: Margulies YES
Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 2: Richman YES
Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 2: Miller YES!
Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 3: Siggins YES
Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 4: Streeter YES!
Associate Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 4: Tucher YES
Presiding Justice Court of Appeal, District 1, Division 5: Jones YES
(Miller and Streeter get an exclamation point because people I trust respect them as smart, fair, and careful.)
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony K. Thurmond
Good endorsements and solid experience with budgeting and politics, both of which play a big part in the job. I particularly appreciate his commitment to quality public school education and teaching critical thinking rather than a "teach the test" approach. I believe he'll do better than his opponent at laying a foundation for further improvements and adaptations of public education in coming decades.
Member, Community College Board: Selby, Rizzo, Oliveri
Four candidates running, of which we vote for three. The school emerged last year from a risk that it would lose its accreditation (over allowing its financial reserves to get dangerously low). It lost a lot of students while that threat loomed (and with them lost their state funding) and continues to lose students despite the Free City arrangement that offers no-cost classes to San Francisco residents (which expires at the end of this school year).
- Davila is the current board president and is pushing for more robust vocational and certificate training. That she missed 10 deadlines to file required disclosures for campaign finances and conflicts of interest since joining the board in 2014 is rather concerning and, given the other candidates, that makes her the one I don't vote for.
- Selby and Rizzo are on board and are both pushing to make Free City permanent (as is Davila) and to build a Performing Arts and Education Center. Selby is pushing a public transit pass for students and Rizzo is pushing building some student and teacher housing.
- Oliveri is the newcomer and has some smart-sounding structural suggestions to make things more fiscally sustainable. See https://www.sfexaminer.com/ccsf-board-hopeful-challenges-three-incumbents-november-election/
City and County Offices
Member, Board of Education (choose up to 3): John Trasviña
There are 7 seats on the board, of which 3 are open this year. No incumbents are running. Hot issues are: whether/how to change school assignment system (currently a lottery which is not working as intended to prevent school segregation); how to house/support teachers in this expensive city; and whether to offer algebra in the 8th grade (con: it raises achievement gap as up to half of students of color failed in 8th and had to retake in 9th grade, where now only 10% have to retake with it introduced in 9th. pro: its unfair to hold back students who are ready for it in 8th grade and force them to squeeze 5 years of math into 4 years of school so that they can get Calculus in before college and not be at disadvantage on college applications. Here's a good article for more on the con side: https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2018/06/13/a-bold-effort-to-de-track-algebra-shows.html and another general article here: https://www.thebaycitybeacon.com/politics/squaring-the-circle-eighth-grade-algebra-and-the-school-board/article_5baaac8e-cb2c-11e8-b048-dbcd72b52bba.html )
The first issue was slightly sidelined in late September by two leading members of the current board introducing a resolution to abolish the district's school assignment system: https://www.kqed.org/news/11693522/two-s-f-school-board-commissioners-to-introduce-resolution-ending-lottery-system
I don't have a horse in this race, not being the parent of a student in SF's system and will only be voting for that one candidate I found particularly compelling in my research, but I can identify candidates not worth considering for you if you're diving into these turbulent waters:
- Zhao: withdrew too late to remove from ballot (also made transphobic and anti-LGBTQ comments, which is totally unacceptable given the many kids in SF schools who identify as such).
- Kangas: not a serious candidate; hasn't responded to issue questionnaires. Also, and this makes me wonder if he also works as a cab driver (and recently transported me), according to one of the folks at the event Joe attended, he keeps calling one of the public school system legal team with concerns and info about the Kennedy assassination. Moving riiiiight along...
- House: also no serious response to questionnaires about his issue position and takes no stance.
- Thompson: little info available.
- Satya: little info available, wants to keep algebra out of 8th grade.
One last comment: the endorsements for this board which you'll see on various Democratic-affiliated mailers listing a wide variety of elected positions are indicative of the clubbiness of the very local party. These recommendations sometimes seem to be a lot more about "I know you from your long-time activity with our party" and a lot less about the issues or the skills this person is bringing to this particular role. Remember that local positions like school boards are often a candidate's first experience with elected office; this is great for bringing representation up from the grassroots and growing a person's skills, but can also be exploited by political parties to move loyalists up to higher offices. If I were a parent, I'd be making damn sure my school board members were there because they care about that work, not planning to spend their time with their eye on the next stepping stone up.
1: Housing Assistance Bond YES
An easy Yes. California needs to make affordable housing a priority. Every major paper and group supports this, other than the Republicans and tax-haters. Also, this is a legislatively referred bond measure, which means it was approved by the state legislature, which is required to refer bonds over $300,000 to the voters, which means it'd be approved already if not for that rule. (Further note in its favor, when I looked up "who is Gary Wesley", the author of the lone argument against this proposition in the sample ballot, the first result is an LA Times article, "The Lone Dissenter Rides Again", from 1986. This guy just has a 40—FORTY!—year hobby of writing 'No' responses.)
2: Bonds for Housing for Mentally Ill YES
Another easy Yes. This has background relating to past conflict over whether 2004 Prop 63's funds should be used for housing. The legislature put this year's Prop 2 on the ballot for the voters to confirm that creating housing for people with severe mental illness is compatible with the intent of Prop 63. Since there's definitely a huge interrelationship between homelessness and mental illness, this more holistic approach makes good sense. (The opponents fear that people other than the long-term severely mentally ill could be given housing with these funds and that that would overall reduce resources for treatment, but the opponents also seem to be generally opposed to bonds.)
3: Water Bonds YES
Opposed in the sample ballot by people who LOVE dams. Damn, do they love dams. And they hate taxes. Hello, Central Solano supporters of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, who've been messing up California since Prop 13 in the 1970s. Though I've seen some general concerns flying around about oversight on this that started to lean me toward a No, I was flipped back to a Yes by Janet Cox's full-throated endorsement. Decades of experience with California environmental and water policy? I'm listening!
4: Bonds to Improve Children's Hospitals YES
On the one hand this would definitely save lives (both the kids who receive access to better care and through increased earthquake safety), on the other hand this proposition did not go through the legislative budget process and will need to be repaid with interest. But on a whole bunch of little tiny hands, including many that are poor, brown, or undocumented, recall that children’s hospitals treat seriously ill children regardless of their ability to pay. Plus I tend to support bonds because they put money out into the state economy now and make good things happen sooner rather than later. I say Yes. (Opposed by Gary Wesley! Everybody drink!)
5: Prop 13 Portability NO NO NO!
Prop 13, passed in 1978, required that property taxes be based on the assessed value of the home when it was last sold, not on its market value. And that value goes up only at the overall rate of inflation (under 2% a year) not based on increases in the fair market value of the home. Thus folks who bought a home a long time ago pay a LOT less than their current share of taxes in their area. To solve the problem of (mostly older) people having a disincentive to move to a smaller, cheaper home and having to pay more property taxes than before, in Prop 60 passed allowing homeowners over 55 to carry over the assessed value of their old home to a new home, so long as they buy the new one for less than they sold the old one for.
So what's this new Prop trying to do? Allow home buyers over 55 to keep their old, low assessed value even if they buy a more expensive house (with the delta between the two being paid at the new rate). And if they bought a less expensive house they'd pay even less than under the currently biased deal. AND it removes the limits on how many times they can transfer the taxable value. (And removes some other limitations.)
Who does this hurt? County governments, who will face a shortfall of hundreds of millions of dollars. And we have seen what already-squeezed local budgets mean for parks and libraries; this would be grim.
And the realtors who are the main ones funding this? In this economy? They do not need a damn handout of a bunch of new business as those with the most resources flip around the real estate market. This proposition will not help solve California's affordable housing crisis and will probably make things worse. Vote No on tax breaks for up-sizing, while acknowledging that, yes, this is going to make life more complex for some older folks in areas which have seen massive rises in home prices.
6: Gas Tax Repeal NO NO NO
No way am I supporting this attempt to eliminate vital state transportation funding. Guess who is pushing this? It's our old foes the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, along with various other Republicans. And they're attempting to kill this funding with no plan for what to do instead to make these vital functions work. Hella no.
7: Allow the Legislature to Change (or Eliminate) Daylight Saving Time YES (oh thank goodness YES)
Yes! It's here at last! Your opportunity to get the ball rolling on ending the need to change your clocks twice a year and have your sleep messed with! Federal law says states can opt out of DST, but in 1949 California, in the bill that established DST, said it can only be changed by a vote of the people. This would change that and allow the legislature to change it with a two-thirds vote. The initiative process is not the best way to decide the ideal solution; let's put the legislature on the job of deciding if we should go with DST year-round or with standard time year round, and with that decision eliminate having to change our clocks. (Opponents say "oo, but this'll put us out of sync with other states that still have DST and be confusing"; I say the writing is on the wall for DST and somebody has to start the dominos falling.)
8: Cap Profits of for-profit outpatient kidney dialysis centers NO
I'm going to point you again at Edie Irons and Janet Cox's compelling argument for why this issue is too complex to be solved with the initiative system. The risks of this causing patients to lose access to nearby (for-profit) dialysis centers that keep them alive, while not solving the sub-standard conditions in centers with problems are too big a risk to be worth supporting this measure.
9: Removed from ballot. Skip!
10: Repeal Costa-Hawkins restrictions on rent control YES
Costa-Hawkins is a 1995 law that restricted cities’ ability to enact or expand rent control. As Edie Irons and Janet Cox say: "Passing Prop 10 does not create any new rent control laws. It just allows an incredibly important debate to happen in cities around the state, and hopefully some common-sense legislation will be passed where it’s most needed." Huge number of groups I trust are supporting this and I am a fan of rent control as a backstop against housing being pay-to-play.
Even in San Francisco, with its rent control protections, there has been a wave of people driven out of the city by rising costs every tech boom; we need to make it possible for people who aren't getting rich on the latest boom and who don't own a home to keep their (rented) homes as times change around them. Forcing people with fewer resources to uproot their lives every time the hot light of gentrification shines where they live only increases inequality. (Now, should we have income tests for rent control to weight things differently for folks who do have resources? Yes, and that's the kind of fine-tuning to rent control which I think will start coming out of these incredibly important debates to come.)
11: Prohibits real breaks for ambulance drivers NO
Are we kidding? First responders need to be rested and alert to do their incredibly challenging work and, no, they aren't ignoring calls while they take a Candy Crush break. This law, which was proposed by ambulance companies, is opposed by labor. If they don't have enough staffing, they need to hire some more drivers; jobs are good.
12: Specifying cage sizes for livestock YES
Does one square foot of space per chicken create a happy chicken? No. Is it better than there not being a minimum size? Hell yes!
As Edie Irons and Janet Cox suggest, educating yourself about the conditions of the animals who make up the products you buy seems like a better way for an individual to influence animal welfare than voting no on a proposition because it doesn't go far enough in the right direction.
City and County Propositions:
A: Waterfront Seawall Safety Bonds YES
Critical infrastructure for something that is only going to become astronomically more costly the longer we wait. Only on ballot because the amount exceeds what the city can pay for out of regular operating funds. SPUR, YIMBY, SFBike, League of Pissed Off Voters all support. (Who's opposed? The Libertarians, whose motto seems to be "I wouldn't pay a tax for lifeguards if my own mother was drowning.")
B: City Privacy Guidelines (skip it)
Non-binding guideline that doesn’t actually change anything. It also overlaps with the recently enacted California Consumer Privacy Act, a real, binding, state-wide privacy measure that goes into effect in 2020. No reason for this feel-good thing that doesn't affect the real world to be on the ballot.
C: Gross Receipts Tax for Homelessness YES
This measure would impose an additional tax on individuals and businesses in San Francisco that earn more than $50 million in gross receipts (total income) per year in order to fund homelessness services and housing. The money raised would nearly double the funds currently spent to address homelessness, and at least half the funds would go to housing people and keeping them housed (rather than to temporary shelters and services). Those who are opposed are concerned about oversight on how the money is spent, but even less-than-perfect allocation of funds is necessary. This is a crisis and a big move like this is the kind of game-changer we need. Also (as was pointed out at the ballot discussion Joe attended), unless fixed, homelessness is probably going to drive away more businesses than this tax will. Wealth inequality is what is causing people to fall through the safety net. I've lived through multiple booms in this city and the crazier the tech wages and fancy condos get, the more people I see suffering on the street. This is an equitable way to address the problem. (Who is opposing C? Republicans, Libertarians, Katy Tang, realtors, business organizations.)
D: Big-Business Cannabis and Ecommerce By Non-SF-Based Companies taxes YES
Neighboring cities like Berkeley and Oakland already have imposed taxes on cannabis businesses. The money raised is intended to assist the city with cannabis-related costs and programs. And the tax doesn’t go into effect until 2021. And it gives the Board of Supervisors the ability to amend the tax to respond to changing conditions. A tax on ecommerce sites that are making more than $500K a year in San Francisco seems like a reasonable thing to level the playing field for local merchants. (Who opposes D? Republicans and Libertarians, who hate all taxes.)
E: Hotel Tax Set-aside for the Arts YES
This doesn't change the hotel tax rate, it just dictates that 8% of that money instead of going into the city's General Fund, would go to arts related projects. Con: It's an end-run to get a budget increase for those things, basically. Forced set-asides for non-essentials which tie the hands of the Board of Supervisors when designing yearly budgets seem counter to the overall goal of representative democracy. Pro: The Hotel Tax has always been associated with funding for the arts since it was established in 1961. This is just restoring funding which has been diverted over the years. This has nearly unanimous support from SF elected officials, arts and community organizations, and even the hotels. Having sat through Board of Supervisors meeting where desperate art organizations were begging to retain a fraction of their funding in leaner years, I'm a Yes.
More City and County Offices
Assessor-Recorder: Carmen Chu
A solid public servant doing really good work for us. Let's keep her at it.
Public Defender: Jeff Adachi
Sure. I've had points of disagreement with him over the years, but he does fine as public defender and his work with reforming the money bail system in SF is great.
As usual the Sample Ballot booklet has tons of other useful info tucked in between things. A few highlights:
- inside cover: Important Dates including early voting hours at City Hall which began October 9th and weekend voting which begins October 27th and 28th (I love my city!) - page 5 When and Where to vote - page 6-8 How to mark your ballot and do ranked-choice voting
- page 35 Ways to share your subject matter expertise and best thinking to help transform this city - page 40 Info on being a Poll Worker on election day - page 73 an actually great FAQ
- page 93 Voter Bill of Rights
- page 118 an actually useful index
- Page 119-120 Ballot Worksheet
- Back cover Vote-by-Mail application
Particularly helpful in my thinking this time around:
– conversation with my wise partner, Joe Gratz, and the info he shared from a gathering of friends which he attended to discuss ballot propositions
– this voter guide from Edie Irons and Janet Cox https://edieirons.ca/nov-2018-voter-guide/
Why I Support London Breed for Mayor of San Francisco 2018
The greatest impact on the character of this city in the decades to come is going to be who can live here. Getting our housing and affordability crisis under control is essential to keeping San Francisco a community which reflects our inclusive values.
London Breed has made tackling these interconnected problems central to her platform. She’s already been working on the issues for years and wisely puts her emphasis on making incremental positive change happen sooner rather than later.
Having housing at a wide range of costs isn’t an abstract ideal; I see the benefit of diverse housing in my immediate neighborhood of Hayes Valley. I live half a block from public housing in Breed’s district. Nice housing; good neighbors. There is also new low-income housing being built half a block the other side of my home and that is very welcome to me too. Having affordable housing here means people who work here can live here. We need working class opportunity within San Francisco to keep the city healthy and vibrant!
Breed has been involved in helping make good construction projects like these new ones happen. And she’s been a voice for neighbors fighting for a mix of affordable units being added in market-rate construction.
She’s rational and resourceful in her approach. She comes from local experience of achieving progress in a complex, rapidly-changing economic and climate situation. All our options have tradeoffs and she weighs them well. Despite her deep personal understanding of the issues of housing and income inequality—she grew up here in public housing—she doesn’t sacrifice decent actions we can take now for future pipe-dreams that don’t have the funding or political will to put into reality. Her pragmatism pays off.
All her life experience and the empathy it has rooted in her is something we progressives can leverage if we don’t isolate her by demanding unachievable perfect solutions. I do not believe a fast, uncompromising solution is available on preserving income diversity in San Francisco, but I do think we can turn this behemoth of a ship in a better direction with many smaller, smarter moves. That kind of problem-solving is in Breed’s wheelhouse.
She has a strong base in many San Francisco communities thanks to her working class roots, her direct activity building community resources, and her commitment to housing and tenant dignity (which celebrates and continues the very best of Mayor Ed Lee’s life work).
Another strength of London Breed is that she is a deeply democratically-chosen candidate. Our district elected her soundly defeating an incumbent mayoral appointee. Since then she has twice been chosen unanimously as President of the Board of Supervisors by her peers. Neighborhood support is how we got her strong, skillful representation in office. Her performance is how she's demonstrated the wisdom of that choice.
When the city could have been thrown into crisis at Mayor Lee’s death, she calmly and competently bridged the gap. She skips the drama and focuses on good administration of this challenging city.
That down-to-earth focus on what needs to get done will give us a mayor who spares us from unnecessary distractions during 2018 and 2019 when there is so much else for the people of San Francisco to be focused on changing at the national level. Her even keel will give us a stable foundation from which to support progressive change across the country.
Breed has been great as Supervisor for my District, and an excellent, level-headed President of the Board of Supervisors. I am very proud to support her competence as Mayor in June’s election; no “identity politics” required. Yes, she’s a San Francisco native, from a working-class background, and a woman of color—and those are assets much needed in office—but more importantly, she is very good at governing this city. THAT is why I support London Breed as Mayor.
Breed’s statement “An Affordable City for ALL of Us”
Her campaign website http://www.londonformayor.com/
A couple additional thoughts:
- Why not Leno?
Mark Leno, like Scott Weiner, has already moved on to a larger stage—and that’s a great thing. They’ve done vital, good work at the state level, which we should want them to continue in whatever form they can. Our goal as progressives over the next few years is to bring in a wave of newly elected progressive candidates; we need experienced hands to help them be effective. Leno’s potential as a mentor able to help wherever needed is significant. The more effective the left is, the stronger our message and our tactics are against the fear-mongering and authoritarianism of the GOP.
I’ve lived in Breed’s district in 2002 through 2003, and since 2007. Between, I lived in the Castro so I’ve familiarity with Leno too. I like his work and think he’d be fine as mayor, but I find Breed’s city-level focus likely to achieve better results, sooner, and more consistently.
- Why not Kim?
Jane Kim’s willingness in the “Sunday Night Shakeup” to hand power to the most conservative member of the Board of Supervisors in hopes of improving her shot at mayor demonstrated clearly that she is not the person for the job. We need a capable administrator who is focused on civic service, not a backroom wheeler dealer focused on growing her own political power.
I once supported Kim (first in her run for Board of Education in 2004), but her positions in recent years have become so rigid as to render her incapable of making the project and policy deals which will create a more sustainable, diverse community here.
I’ve been a San Francisco area resident my whole life. I grew up in the east bay, went to college in Santa Cruz, and lived in the south bay for 12 years before moving to San Francisco in early 2002. As a member of the early Web community I have watched San Francisco react to the various waves of tech boom and bust, with a particular eye to how it impacted building and rental inventory in the city, both commercial and residential.
San Francisco is going to continue to feel the strong pressure of the economic force of corporate interests, and to continue to need to resist the extractive goals of their short-term profit cycles. At the same time. San Francisco will increasingly feel the impacts of climate change, both on the local and wider, particularly statewide, levels. Meeting these challenges is going to require smart planning to create sustainable economies and infrastructure for the future.
What we build, what we incentivize the building of, is going to make or break our city in the century ahead. Jane Kim’s position on the Mission Moratorium was troubling to me for its lack of engagement with these issues. Her attempts to spin State Senatorial opponent Scott Weiner as a corporate tool do a tremendous disservice to his work. Jane Kim has become more focused on political maneuvering than actual positive change. I’m seriously disappointed in her arc as a public servant.
Letter to the proponents of San Francisco proposition E 2015
I received email promoting prop E and sent the following letter in response:
Mr. [David] Lee,
The kids are not fiscally all right — and here’s a few more thoughts on why 2015
[A post I put up on Medium archived here in October 2015]
Ana Swanson’s Washington Post Wonk Blog piece, “The growing wealth gap that nobody is talking about: Young people have always been poor, but today’s young people are poorer than most”, ends in puzzlement. A few potential sources for the comparative poverty of Gen-X and Millennials in the United States are offered, but the concluding paragraphs seem out of place with the confident, data-driven statements cited before them.
Why should the lack of wealth among Gen-X and Millennials be such a surprise given their (or I could say ‘our’, in the case of Gen-X) role as the generations who were most encouraged to run up and continuously carry substantial credit card debt? (See, for example, trends charted here.)
These generations also walk away from college graduation with substantially more student loan debt (“Soaring College Tuitions.” The New York Times, Dec. 4, 2008, corrected chart 1; see also Friday’s piece “We’re Making Life Too Hard for Millennials” with its chart captioned ‘Tuition Races Upward, Debt Mounts’).
Beyond credit debt, though, our extending lifespans in the U.S. have to be important too. Based on my initial exploration of changing life expectancy (as described by the Social Security Administration in these sources 2, 3) it appears that as you move forward from 1900 there is a later and later age of potential inheritance of wealth from older relations. (That potential is not evenly distributed, as, for example, an examination of African-American experiences* in home ownership and debt over the past century painfully reveals. When there is no family wealth accumulated, there is even less opportunity for any upward climb.)
The sources cited above support that, showing the increasing percentage of those who reached age 21 who then reached age 65. If you get old enough to likely become a parent, you also have an increasing likelihood of reaching retirement age. Those who are able to collect wealth are holding it longer.
Thus, to give specific examples based on the charts in these sources, someone born in 1895 (the parents of the Greatest Generation), who reached age 21 only had 60–71% odds of living until 1960. That 65 year old would then, on average, be unlikely to live past 1975. They would therefore be releasing their wealth into the next generation when their kids are 55–60 years old (assuming they had had their kids when around age 20–25). Put another way, 29–40% of the Greatest Generation would likely have inherited their parents’ remaining wealth by age 60.
Our boomer, born in 1955 (the parent of our Gen Xer), who reached age 21 has 79–88% odds of living until 2020, and then on average of not living past 2035–2040, releasing their wealth into the next generation when, if they had their kids generally around age 20–25, their kids are 55–65 years old. Put that another way and only 12–21% of Gen Xers will likely have inherited their parents’ wealth before age 55–65.
The parent of our Millennial, let’s say, is born in 1975, and having reached 21 has 82–90% odds of living until 2040, and then on average of not living past around 2060, when, if they had their kids generally around age 20–25, their kids are 65–70 years old. Thus, only 10–18% of Millennials will likely have inherited their parents’ wealth before age 65–70.
Over just nearly a century we’ve gone from a generation where 1 in 3 inherited by retirement age, to a generation where fewer than 1 in 5, perhaps as low as 1 in 10, will inherit by or soon after retirement age.
There is a cascading effect of extended lifespan which may be more important than inheritance, given that many will not inherit a meaningful amount of money even in the best scenario for their age and generation.
Increasingly, not only would a given generation not yet have inherited at their own retirement age, their parents are more likely to use up more of that potential inheritance supporting themselves living on well after retirement, or even to require financial assistance from them, further reducing potential wealth passed on to the children of that given generation.
There may be an offsetting influence of later parenthood (e.g., children more often had at 25–30 or even 30–35 years old) but I suspect that, at least until very recently, lifespan has been extending faster than parenthood has been trending later. The CDC data I found in a cursory search, (4, 5), suggests that only within the last 10 years are we seeing average age of the mother pushing up to the 25–30 year old age range. That trend may be picking up speed, but so far I don’t have the impression it has overtaken the influence of extending lifespans in terms of average age of child at time of death of last surviving parent.
While past generations were motivated to build their wealth in order to create a better future for their children, now those parents are more likely to still be around enjoying that future, with the children needing to shift for themselves far longer. It becomes somewhat less clear what the younger generations’ motives would be to take on years of debt and hard work to build wealth for anyone but themselves. With less reliable relationships between debt and long-term wealth — as college degrees no longer are as sure a path to high income and as the mortgage crisis demonstrated the vulnerability of investing in a home — recent generations are finding it hard to determine their best method of avoiding destitution in old age.
Freedom to define your own path is a touchstone of Generation X, but that freedom is also for many simply a hard fact: there is, starting with that generation, decreasingly going to be a transfer of the prior generation’s progress.
Approaching that future, clear-eyed, amidst financial crisis and Great Recession, little wonder that Gen-X and Millennials aren’t looking particularly lucky. And little wonder that they’re exploring other ways of defining the good life.
Out on his terms 2012
"I’ve never wanted to be any kind of reporter other than a good one, & I do not desire to promote any cause other than the truth." - Anderson Cooper
It's a tough choice, that second to last question. 2012
And if you want to know more about what bath salts actually are, check this out.
Miami, you have issues, honey. 2012
Just catching up here &, wait, what? "Bath salts lead to face-eating"? That iPad zombie game I recommended has waaay more believability.
This is not ok. 2012
Surprised & disappointed by lack of info on @bbcnews & @cnn on the horrific beating of Ukrainian Svyatoslav Sheremet http://www.allout.org/ukraine
the hot seat 2012
RT @kfury: Yahoo! needs a new CEO like Spinal Tap needs a new drummer.
You didn't do it alone 2012
RT @anildash: Simply by affirming that he's a proud American, Mark Zuckerberg could show the leadership & grace Saverin lacks http://pandodaily.com/2012/05/12/what-eduardo-saverin-owes-america-hint-nearly-everything/
...your right to... 2012
RT @danielpunkass: A perfectly melded appreciation of Maurice Sendak and Adam Yauch, from @dansinker. Too short, must read: http://sinker.tumblr.com/post/22693690710/where-the-wild-things-were
Why does the government care about marriage? 2012
After seeing the news of North Carolina's ban on same sex marriage, my thoughts again return to the questions that came to me when California's ban was voted in: Why is government even in the marriage business? What benefit does it bring government to control it instead of it being an individual contract? And, in the face of all these budget issues, is managing marriage really of value to government?
I asked those questions on Twitter and had a lively chat with @striatic and @alanstorm (which had the background flavor of making me happy about the internet and the kind of conversations it can enable).
@striatic said that yes, managing marriage is of value. "Unless you want ceaseless advertisments for 'marriage brokers' and all the inherent overhead dragging on the economy. And then you'd need to regulate these contracts anyway to sync them with government offered benefits."
Still not sure I see the first half of that argument—are other common contractual agreements really prone to over-advertising and, even if annoying, would that actually drag the economy?—but I do see the point that if the government is offering benefits, the management of verifying the required status is something the government is interested in.
I drew an analogy with business contracts not resulting in ceaseless ads or economic drag (indeed, perhaps having an economic contribution). @striatic said, "The majority of people don't need legal aid or ever form business partnerships. The majority of people do get married."
Well, that sent me off immediately for the numbers. According to a Pew Research Center study from last year (as reported by ABC), 72% of U.S. adults have been married at least once, though only 51% are married now. That figure is down dramatically since 1960, when the numbers were 72% and 85% respectively.
Finding numbers on how many U.S. adults have entered into a contractual agreement other than marriage (such as incorporating a business) at some point in their lives was not so easy to find. While I accept @striatic's point that marriage is a significant agreement which the majority of adults still participate in, I am holding out for data on whether it's actually exceptional over other comparably complex legal experiences.
At this point @alanstorm joined in, "Government involvement helps create a standard of fairness for the individuals getting married and enforcement of rights."
To which I replied, "Ok. Standard of fairness with regard to which rights? Tax law? But that would need to change to if gov got out of marriage biz."
He said, "Jerks could coerce individuals into unfair marriage contracts, hospitals could ignore spousal rights in an individual contract, (that is, an individual marriage contract written like a standard employment agreement)."
Domestic partners face the latter (hospitals ignoring spousal rights) often enough. Seems the former (unfair marriage contracts) has old roots in expectation of female financial dependence, though. A lot of old assumptions (e.g., taxes re: shared home ownership/parenthood are linked with married status) would need re-examination were the government to 'get out of the marriage business'.
@alanstorm said, "It's complicated for sure, Wikipedia has a list of the sorts of things I was thinking about: Rights and responsibilities of marriages in the United States. There's a huge legal support system for married people that gay couples deserve access to. That's what government recognition [is] for."
If the government offers special rights/responsibilities for the married, it is in government's interest to administer marriage. That is clear. What is unclear to me is why it is in government's interest to offer special rights/responsibilities to married people.
@alanstorm said, "Because marriage is complicated, and irrespective of strides in women's rights, one partner often becomes dependent on another. And government (despite its reputation in entertainment politics) is here to help us when things don't go as planned." @striatic said, "Married people want those special rights and responsibilities, which makes it in the government's interest. That's 100% fine if the special 'rights and responsibilities' are not 'advantages', and are accesible equally to all."
However, I remain unsatisfied. I'm not asking "Why are there some societal benefits to government taking an interest in protecting these special rights/responsibilities?" but "What fiscal or administrative arguments continue to make it in government's interest to offer special rights/responsibilities to married people?"
@striatic rightly pointed out that "governments have goals other than self administration, established by their constituencies .. governments aren't businesses." But I can counter back, "What other goals is it serving for government to offer special rights/responsibilities to married people?"
He said, "altogether nuking marriage is a solution looking for a problem. The problem isn't marriage, but who isn't allowed it."
I'm not proposing nuking marriage. I'm just questioning which aspects of it should be managed by government.
@alanstorm concluded whimsically, "Fiscal argument? Because we pay taxes and deserve it! (I'm glad we managed to resolve 200+ years of policy in one twitter night.)"
But I'm not satisfied there, either: "Well, except that taxes are biased toward the married, which for unmarried committed couples (by choice or exclusion) ain't great."
That last round brought in @lrgc, who said, "Assuming it's in society's interest, then government is society's administrator. Now I'd need to think if it's in society's interest."
And can I just say, '140 character limit means you never have serious conversations', my lily white ass! :)
Put your money where we need it, BART. 2012
Here's a good petition: Tell BART to fight for American jobs & get a better deal for taxpayers = win-win #bart4america
RT @fourbarrel: Four Barrel is not the 1%. In fact, we only serve whole milk.
An artist-run, little art gallery? Seriously? That's the butt of your outrage? 2012
RT @jameshome: If the front line of your war on capitalism is Valencia Street, I don't want to be part of your revolution. #1MGS
RT @mulegirl I'm really pissed at the jackoffs who attacked galleries and small shops in the Mission last night. No sense. Feel for the owners & workers.
the polarization that's always bubbling underneath the surface 2012
RT @jsmooth995: New video, looking past the news cycle on Trayvon Martin
How America Came To Torture Its Prisoners 2012
Our highest government officials, up to and including President Bush, broke international and U.S. laws banning torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. Worse, they made their subordinates in the military and civilian intelligence services break those laws for them.
My long-form reading concierge today 2012
Ya fly the Space Shuttle over NYC and ya see what happens? 2012
RT @arielwaldman: I don't have words for the latest space meme. I present you SHUTTLING:
The Pepper Spray Cop story continues 2012
Authors Guild v. Hathi Trust 2012
Pleased to see @ARLpolicy working for fair use & libraries. I'm an author, but I know @AuthorsGuild is failing my long-term interests here.
The spoken word and the personal voice remain incredibly powerful 2011
Here's just a hint of the experience I had this week at Mike Daisey's The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs at Berkeley Reperatory Theater.
This doesn't do the full experience justice and only gives a hint of the interwoven stories of beautiful technology, our love for it, the people we think of who bring it to us, and the people who do that we don't think of.
I urge you to see this show. It will move your mind.
Bad Weather Coming 2010
West coast of North America, look out:
Originally Posted by USGSFrom: UC Environmental Protection Services Issues [mailto:UCEPS-
Subject: Winter Storm Warning starting Sunday
Currently, the strong El Nino is reaching its peak in the Eastern Pacific, and now finally appears to be exerting an influence on our weather. The strong jet has been apparent for quite some time out over the open water, but the persistent block had prevented it from reaching the coast. Now that the block has dissolved completely, a 200+ kt jet is barreling towards us. Multiple large and powerful storm systems are expected to slam into CA from the west and northwest over the coming two weeks, all riding this extremely powerful jet stream directly into the state. The jet will itself provide tremendous dynamic lift, in addition to directing numerous disturbances right at the state and supplying them with an ample oceanic moisture source. The jet will be at quite a low latitude over much of the Pacific, so these storms will be quite cold, at least initially. Very heavy rainfall and strong to potentially very strong winds will impact the lower elevations beginning late Sunday and continuing through at least the following Sunday. This will be the case for the entire state, from (and south of) the Mexican border all the way up to Oregon. Above 3000-4000 feet, precipitation will be all snow, and since temperatures will be unusually cold for a precipitation event of this magnitude, a truly prodigious amount of snowfall is likely to occur in the mountains, possibly measured in the tens of feet in the Sierra after it's all said and done. But there's a big and rather threatening caveat to that (discussed below). Individual storm events are going to be hard to time for at least few more days, since this jet is just about as powerful as they come (on this planet, anyway). Between this Sunday and the following Sunday, I expect categorical statewide rainfall totals in excess of 3-4 inches. That is likely to be a huge underestimate for most areas. Much of NorCal is likely to see 5-10 inches in the lowlands, with 10-20 inches in orographically-favored areas. Most of SoCal will see 3-6 inches at lower elevations, with perhaps triple that amount in favored areas.
This is where things get even more interesting, though. The models are virtually unanimous in "reloading" the powerful jet stream and forming an additional persistent kink 2000-3000 miles to our southwest after next Sunday. This is a truly ominous pattern, because it implies the potential for a strong Pineapple-type connection to develop. Indeed, the 12z GFS now shows copious warm rains falling between days 12 and 16 across the entire state. Normally, such as scenario out beyond day seven would be dubious at best. Since the models are in such truly remarkable agreement, however, and because of the extremely high potential impact of such an event, it's worth mentioning now. Since there will be a massive volume of freshly-fallen snow (even at relatively low elevations between 3000-5000 feet), even a moderately warm storm event would cause very serious flooding. This situation will have to be monitored closely. Even if the tropical connection does not develop, expected rains in the coming 7-10 days will likely be sufficient to cause flooding in and of themselves (even in spite of dry antecedent conditions).
In addition to very heavy precipitation, powerful winds may result from very steep pressure gradients associated with the large and deep low pressure centers expect ed to begin approaching the coast by early next week. Though it's not clear at the moment just how powerful these winds may be, there is certainly the potential for a widespread damaging wind event at some point, and the high Sierra peaks are likely to see gusts in the 100-200 mph range (since the 200kt jet at 200-300 mb will essentially run directly into the mountains at some point). The details of this will have to be hashed out as the event(s) draw closer.
In short, the next 2-3 weeks (at least) are likely to be more active across California than any other 2-3 week period in recent memory. The potential exists for a dangerous flood scenario to arise at some point during this interval, especially with the possibility of a heavy rain-on-snow event during late week 2. In some parts of Southern California, a whole season's worth of rain could fall over the course of 5-10 days. This is likely to be a rather memorable event. Stay tuned...
Samuel Y. Johnson
Western Coastal and Marine Geology
U.S. Geological Survey
Pacific Science Center
Dinah's 2008 election slate 2008
President & Vice-President: Barack Obama & Joe Biden
--- Solid platform, sound plans, inspiring leader who can bring us together.
U.S. State Representative: Nancy Pelosi
--- I want her to take a stronger stance against the war, but need an experienced leader in the House.
State Senator: Mark Leno
--- Very pleased with his work.
Member State Assembly, District 13: Tom Ammiano
--- Generally pleased with his work.
Member Board of Education: Barbara "Bobbi" Lopez, Sandra Lee Fewer, Rachel Norton, H. Brown
--- Combination of statements (I like H. Brown's idea of training kids for emergency response preparedness rather than pointless P.E.) and endorsements.
Judge of the Superior Court, seat #12: Gerardo Sandoval
--- Have heard bad things about opponent & have voted for Sandoval in the past without regret.
Member, Community College Board: Mary T. Hernandez, Steve Ngo, Natalie Berg, Milton Marks
--- Again, combination of statements & endorsements.
BART Director: Tom Radulovich
--- Keep up the good work.
1A - Yes
--- We need to build more non-car infrastructure
2 - Yes
--- Cruelty isn't necessary in food production. Don't buy the argument that it's too expensive to be decent.
3 - No
--- Past bond funds still available. Some concerns over percentage of money going to private hospitals.
4 - No no no
--- Mother's rights over her body come before the "rights" of some lump of cells. Fetuses are not citizens.
Would I like to see fewer unwanted pregnancies, absolutely yes. Do I think making abortion more difficult to obtain decreases unwanted pregnancies, absolutely not.
5 - Yes
--- Treatment works better than punishment and it's cheaper.
6 - No
--- Locking up a specific portion of the budget for a specific cause is generally a bad plan.
7 - No
--- When Environmental Defense, the League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, AND PG&E agree something is a bad idea, it's a bad idea.
8 - No no no
--- Don't build prejudice into the state constitution. (See my comments on this below).
9 - No
--- As someone I trust deeply with direct experience of Victim Witness programs told me: the voice of the victim is already pretty well protected in our justice system. We don't need non-objective opinions leading to over-imprisonment.
10 - No
--- Appears to heavily favor one service provider (key backer of the proposition, surprise surprise) and doesn't even require that the fleet established with these funds remain in California.
11 - No
--- As much as redistricting may be needed, this is not the proposition to do it. It does not have any safeguards to ensure that the commission it would establish actually represents the electoral mix of the state.
12 - Yes
--- A good bond act with costs covered by those benefiting from it.
City & County Propositions:
A - Yes
--- A major quake is just too probable and the benefit of this work too clear to delay it.
B - No
--- Again, as with State Proposition 6, a fixed set aside is unappealing.
C - No
--- This should be covered by other conflict of interest rules. The argument "why should a fireman be prohibited from serving on the environment board?" is compelling.
D - Yes
--- This is a good area to continue developing.
E - Yes
--- Consistency with established best practices is a good thing.
F - Yes
--- Elections are expensive so let's get people involved in these local decisions when they're already drawn to vote on state & national issues.
G - Yes
--- Yes, this seems perfectly reasonable.
H - Yes
--- Imperfect, but I can't say I trust PG&E's environmental or cost decisions over what's proposed here.
I - Yes
--- Seems reasonable & no arguments against submitted.
J - Yes
--- Surprised this doesn't already exist; unconvinced by all the developers & landlords arguing against it.
K - Yes
--- Oh this was a very tough one, but the public health arguments are incredibly strong, particularly the evidence from New Zealand. I would prefer that it explicitly shifted efforts from prosecuting prostitutes to prosecuting human trafficking or other abuses. Frankly, I'll be surprised if it passes, so I expect votes for K are more of an indication of priorities to SFPD.
L - Yes
--- I am unconvinced that the opponents to the Community Justice Center are driven by more than being in opposition to Gavin Newsom. Quit grandstanding, Daly.
M - Yes
--- Only landlords oppose this measure attempting to stop abuses by landlords. *cough* Well that's pretty easy to decide on.
N - Yes
--- I do not believe measure opponent Michela Alioto-Pier has my best financial interests at heart; I'm not nearly rich enough to be part of her base.
O - Yes
--- This is one of those "has to go by the voters but its just a best practice change" as I read it.
P - No
--- Sorry, Gavin, we agree on quite a few things, but I'm with the huge crowd opposing this change.
Q - Yes
--- No brainer; no opposing argument.
R - No
--- This is a frivolous, unhelpful measure and I'm sorry to see it made the ballot. Now is the time for us to find common ground with those who supported George W. Bush and help them understand how his policies were damaging to them. This mockery doesn't help. It's also unkind to those who perform this important city service.
S - Yes
--- A nice rational approach. After that starry-eyed "let's turn Alcatraz into a peace center" measure C earlier this year, we definitely need dreamers to balance their ideas with how they'll be funded before we vote on them.
T - Yes
--- Treatment services reduce city costs relating to substance abusers.
U - No
--- I oppose this war and further troop deployment to Iraq, but don't think our representatives in Congress should be told, for example, that they should oppose an otherwise good plan because it includes a minor deployment.
V - No
--- Military recruitment in high schools is just revolting.
Member Board of Supervisors District 5: Ross Mirkarimi
--- Seems to be doing a good job. I like my neighborhood!