BY JULIA ROCK, THE DAILY POSTER ON 5/5/21 (Newsweek.com)
Citing a Newsweek report, Denny’s shareholders are demanding that the restaurant chain end its membership in the National Restaurant Association, halt all lobbying efforts against legislation to eliminate a subminimum wage for tipped workers, and start paying all its workers at least a full minimum wage.
In a letter sent to Denny’s CEO John Miller, shareholders wrote that the Association’s lobbying campaign against legislation to end the subminimum wage for tipped workers runs contrary to the interests of the company’s investors, citing reporting in Newsweek that gradual increases in the minimum wage have not hurt the company. On an earnings call in February, Newsweek reported, Denny’s Chief Financial Officer Robert Verostek told investors that the California law raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2023 has actually been good for the diner chain’s business.
“As they’ve increased their minimum wage kind of in a tempered pace over that time frame, if you look at that time frame from us, California has outperformed the system,” Verostek said. “Over that time frame, they had six consecutive years of positive guest traffic—not just positive sales, but positive guest traffic—as the minimum wage was going up.”NEWSWEEK NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP >
A day before that earnings call, the National Restaurant Association sent a letter to congressional leaders arguing that the federal Raise the Wage Act—which would raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 and eliminate the subminimum wage for tipped workers—is “the wrong bill at the wrong time for our nation’s restaurants.” The letter added: “The restaurant industry and our workforce will suffer from a fast-tracked wage increase and elimination of the tip credit.”
The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25, while the subminimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13. Democrats considered including the Raise the Wage Act in President Joe Biden‘s American Rescue Plan, the COVID-19 relief bill passed in March. While Democrats ultimately axed the minimum wage hike, the final legislation created a $28.6 billion grant fund specifically for restaurants, designed to cover their entire pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per company and $5 million per physical location.
“Counter to the best interests of shareholders”
In their letter to CEO Miller, Denny’s investors wrote: “Given that California has ‘outperformed the system’ for Denny’s because of ‘positive guest traffic,’ lobbying against the same kind of policies that California has already enacted is counter to the best interests of shareholders.”NEWSWEEK SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS >
The letter noted that Denny’s restaurant sales growth has been higher in states like California, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington, where businesses are required to pay a full minimum wage to tipped employees, unlike the 43 states that allow restaurants to pay lower wages to workers who rely on tips.
Suggesting that a higher minimum wage encourages increased consumer spending, the letter also noted that during the pandemic, the five states with the greatest amount of restaurant closures all allowed a subminimum wage for tipped workers.McDonald’s, Other CEOs Tell Investors $15 Minimum Wage Won’t Hurt BusinessREAD MOREMcDonald’s, Other CEOs Tell Investors $15 Minimum Wage Won’t Hurt Business
The letter was signed by corporate social responsibility organizations including the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, As You Sow, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and Adasina Social Capital, representing dozens of investors.
The organizations planned to ask Denny’s management about their demands during Tuesday’s earnings call, but were not called on during the question-and-answer portion of the call.
Instead, responding to a question about company margins after COVID staffing challenges, Verostek said that “in the short term, as we mentioned, there will be the cost of restaffing these units, getting them up to speed.”
As far as a minimum wage hike, he said: “You have the administration talking about minimum wage increases… that we will be dealing with on a longer time frame.”
Denny’s did not respond to a request for comment.
The National Restaurant Association, a lobbying group representing restaurants across the country, has been one of the biggest opponents to legislation to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The organization, which raised $289 million in 2018, spent $2.6 million on federal lobbying last year, including on lobbying against the Raise the Wage Act.
Denny’s, like many major U.S. restaurant brands, has long been a member of the Association; last May, the lobbying group highlighted the diner chain’s COVID-related safety protocols on its website. Denny’s does not publicly disclose its political spending or its membership dues to trade associations like the National Restaurant Association. The group used to list its corporate members on its website, but does not appear to do so now.
When federal lawmakers were considering including a $15 minimum wage in the American Rescue Plan this winter, the NRA said in a letter to lawmakers that the policy would cause an undue burden on restaurants that had already been hit hard by the economic fallout from the pandemic. But during first quarter earnings calls, Denny’s was one of several major restaurant chains that suggested to investors that increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour wouldn’t hurt business, and instead may actually help.
In their letter, the Denny’s shareholders compared this duplicity to fossil fuel companies telling investors they are preparing for a low-carbon future while funding trade associations working to block climate-action legislation.
“We are writing to share our concern that Denny’s is using a similar playbook; telling one story in private to investors about the benefits it has experienced in states that have increased minimum wage requirements, while funding the exact opposite with its support of the National Restaurant Association,” said the investors.
Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema were selected to headline the NRA’s annual lobbyist conference in April after the two helped Republicans keep a $15 minimum wage out of the American Rescue Plan. At that event, Manchin told attendees he didn’t support a minimum wage above $11 an hour, and said he believed that the tipped minimum wage should be half that.
“From your lips to God’s ears,” responded Sean Kennedy, the Association’s chief lobbyist.
Don’t believe corporate media and politicians pretending that corporate execs will fix everything — they won’t.
Corporate CEOs want you to believe that they are fighting for democracy and equality, and the business press has often portrayed executives as the saviors of our society. But a terrific new essay examines why this is a fantasy – and why Democrats should avoid trying to link their political fortunes to the alleged benevolence of corporations.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Paul Sakuma
This is a short excerpt of The Daily Poster’s Weekend Reading List, which is available to supporting subscribers here. You can click here to become a Daily Poster supporting subscriber for $8 a month or $70 a year. When you subscribe, you are helping us do this reporting and hire more journalists.
DONATE13Shontel Brown. Photo: Cuyahoga County Planning Commission
Turner’s opponent in the Ohio House primary appears to be messaging straight to pro-Israel super PACs.
Ryan Grim May 8 2021, 5:37 a.m. (TheIntercept.com)
SHONTEL BROWN’S CAMPAIGN for Congress is blaring one of the least subtle messages sent to a super PAC since the outside money groups were legalized by the Supreme Court in its Citizens United v. FEC decision.
Brown’s campaign has listed on its website a set of negative talking points about her opponent Nina Turner, all enclosed in a bright red box. Directly under the red box is a quote from Democratic consultant Mark Mellman, the leader of a major pro-Israel super PAC that has consistently spent large sums of money against Sen. Bernie Sanders and his congressional allies. (“Red box” is a campaign industry term, referring to the spot on the website that candidates use to communicate with outside groups like super PACs.).
Both Brown and Turner are competing in a special election in Ohio to replace former Rep. Marcia Fudge, who was confirmed to be President Joe Biden’s secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The primary in the heavily Democratic district is scheduled for August 3.
The hybrid super PAC run by Mellman, Democratic Majority for Israel, spent heavily against Sanders during the presidential primary, dropping $1.4 million in its effort to slow him in Iowa and beyond. The super PAC also spent more than $1.5 million attacking Jamaal Bowman and supporting then-incumbent New York Rep. Eliot Engel. (Despite their efforts, Bowman won.) It also threw in $179,000 against Alex Morse, who challenged House Ways and Means Chair Richie Neal in a western Massachusetts primary. DMFI was also bankrolled in 2020 by a super PAC that tried to unseat Rep. Ilhan Omar in her Minnesota Democratic primary; Americans for Tomorrow’s Future, which spent more than $3 million taking on Omar and also worked against Bowman, sent $500,000 to DMFI. There is overlap among donors, as well. A top donor to AFTF, who contributed $300,000 in 2020, also gave $1.245 million to DMFI.
The communication on Brown’s website is a textbook case of red-box signaling, used to communicate with outside groups within the letter of the law. To understand how the signaling works, it’s useful to review the conventions of post-Citizens United campaign practices. Per the Citizens ruling, campaigns cannot coordinate with outside groups and doing so is a clear violation of one of the few bright-line rules in campaign finance. The challenge, then, for a campaign is figuring out how to guide a super PAC or outside supporter’s messaging without running afoul of the laws around coordination. For that, campaigns have developed what is called the “red box.” The candidate posts opposition research or videos on their website about their opponent, which anyone in the public is then free to use for any purpose. The oppo also generally includes messages about both candidates that have tested well in polls, allowing the super PAC to align its communications with the campaign’s.Join Our NewsletterOriginal reporting. Fearless journalism. Delivered to you.I’m in
What makes Brown’s approach unique is both how blatant it is and how beseechingly it directs itself to a particular head of a particular super PAC.
First, the oppo research Brown’s campaign posted is literally inside an actual red box, removing any confusion as to the purpose of the exercise. If any confusion still existed, the linked PDF is called “SB4C Red Box.”
“It’s incredibly common for candidates to rely on resources provided by super PACs and vice versa and so this dance is never explicit, but it doesn’t need to be, because both sides are aiming for the same objective. This is pretty explicit and extreme,” said Lawrence Lessig, after being shown Brown’s campaign site. Lessig is a professor of law at Harvard Law School and an expert on campaign finance law. “They certainly assume that [an Intercept reporter] was not going to notice this.”
The oppo research that appears on Brown’s website has nothing to do with Turner’s stance on Israel; it doesn’t even mention Israel. The criticisms of Turner revolve around her insufficient loyalty to Democrats, citing her lukewarm support for Biden in the presidential election and her refusal to back Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump. The praise of Brown centers on her local record. Yet just underneath the red box are three rotating quotes validating Brown’s support for Israel. The first is from Mellman, and though he wears many hats — most prominently as head of the Mellman Group, a polling and consulting firm — the site labels him “DMFI PAC President.” DMFI endorsed Brown in February but has not disclosed any outside spending on her behalf.
Brown for Congress
The second is from Michael Siegal, who previously chaired the Jewish Federations of North America and is a donor to Brown’s campaign.
Brown for Congress
The third is from Jeff Mendelsohn of Pro-Israel America, which was allied in 2020 with Americans for Tomorrow’s Future. Pro-Israel America, the Brown campaign, and DMFI did not respond to requests for comment.
Brown for Congress
That this type of coordinating-without-coordinating has grown so common undermines the core rationale of Citizens United, Lessig said. “The premise of Citizens United, or the whole line of cases that assume there’s such a thing as independent spending, is that there’s independence. Obviously there can be technical independence, but if both sides are building a strategy based on the same data they’re essentially coordinating,” said Lessig, who authored the book “They Don’t Represent Us: Reclaiming Our Democracy.” “In the context of antitrust we’d have no problem understanding it as coordination.”
And because the independence isn’t real, the debt politicians owe to super PACs is real. “What that means is there’s no real separation that would undermine the sense of obligation or sense of gratitude that a member would feel for the super PAC’s intervention,” said Lessig. “There’s no quid pro quo, but there’s a dependence on the super PAC.”
Correction: March 8, 2021
This story originally reported that DMFI made a transfer of $500,000 to AFTF in 2020. The transfer went the opposite direction.
This is from the Gray Panthers regarding CCSF – for today – Board of Trustees meeting at 4:00pm. Am sending this to a few of you.
“Prowl & Growl” with the SF Gray
Actions and Events for May 10:
This is a crucial couple of days for the future of City College. As Merilee Hearn of HEAT said, “We have only a few days until the CCSF Trustees vote on May 10 to try to convince Trustees that a vote for layoffs is a vote for devastation of [this] institution” and cuts of at least 50%. Read more. We need everyone–faculty, students, and community allies – standing strong. Please sign this letter to the Trustees.
City College Allies: Actions for Monday, May 10, in advance of Board of Trustees meeting to vote on the massive layoffs and program cuts.
1) Call and phone Mayor Breed and Supervisors, demand:
* Prioritize preserving and funding CCSF as a community college.
* Do not allow cuts to take place which eliminate faculty and programs and strip CCSF down to a junior college.
* Use your leadership to facilitate an agreement to resolve any problems in funding CCSF at the level it needs to avoid the proposed cuts.
* Tell them elected officials of San Francisco have many substantial legal rights and responsibilities in the governing of CCSF that no other California Community Colleges have. Read more about that here
Mayor London Breed (415) 554-6141 and leave a message;
Call-in info for public comment: 415 762 9988 or 669 900 6833 ID: 9316 7138 535 Requests to make public comment must be submitted in advance, no later than 30 minutes before the start of the meeting, via email to: email@example.com or via phone to: 669.444.1266. (They will call you when it’s your time to speak.) More infohere, click on “Monday, May 10, 2012”
Please submit the following information:
2. Meeting Name and Date
3. Agenda Item Number
4. Phone number if participating by phone
More actions re CCSF this week
Thursday, May 13, 5-6:30 pm, online panel: “The Fight for City College and Education for All”. Panel discussion on the corporate agenda behind the attacks on CCSF and lessons from the 2012-17 organizing campaign. Panelists: Marcy Rein, Mickey Ellinger, and Vicki Legion, co-authors of “Free City!”; Jason Ferreira, SFSU; EK, CCSF Collective; and Beatriz Herrera, AFT 2121. Co-sponsors: Center for Political Education (CPE) & PM Press. Register at http://bit.ly/3esk2j8 Join it on FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/746687279326919
Saturday, May 15, 11 AM, CCSF HEAT panel on what’s happening to our Community Colleges. Zoom link here
Read more about City College and fighting the attacks on City College here at the SF Gray Panthers website.
McDonald’s cashiers and cooks in 15 U.S. cities will strike on May 19—a day before the fast-food behemoth’s annual shareholder meeting—to demand McDonald’s pay all of its workers at least $15 an hour amid a national labor shortage in the fast food industry.
In recent months, McDonald’s stores have become desperate for employees, offering workers bonuses and incentives to sign up for a job. One store in Fayetteville, North Carolina is offering a $500 sign on bonus, according to a poster viewed by Motherboard. An owner of 60 McDonald’s franchises in Florida is paying job applicants $50 just to show up for an interview. In one recent viral TikTok, a McDonald’s customer rolled up at a drive thru to find a sign that read, “We are short-staffed. Please be patient with the staff that did show up. No one wants to work anymore.” Republican lawmakers are blaming the labor shortage on the Coronavirus relief bill and generous unemployment benefits.
Striking workers around the country, who are part of the Fight For $15 movement, say McDonald’s has an easy solution to this labor shortage: it can simply raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour at all of their stores. The company’s sales are booming, thanks to demand for faster drive-thru orders. McDonald’s recently announced that it earned $5 billion in profits in 2020, and paid shareholders nearly $4 billion in dividends.
“We know McDonald’s is gathering for its shareholders meeting to discuss what straws we use, what bags we use, how much we get paid,” Terrence Wise, a McDonald’s department manager in Kansas City, Missouri, who has worked in the fast food industry for 22 years told Motherboard.
“The one thing that’s missing is our voice” he continued. “We made them that $5 billion in profit last year. There wouldn’t be shares to divide if we weren’t making burgers and McFlurries. Our message to shareholders on May 19 is you don’t have to wait on legislation. You can pay us $15 an hour now, that should be the floor.”
On the day of the strike, workers will be walking off the job in Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Chicago, Detroit, Flint, Kansas City, St Louis, Houston, Milwaukee and other cities. McDonald’s workers have been organizing for $15 an hour minimum wage legislation since 2012, when they launched the Fight for $15 movement.
“Our first responsibility is to hardworking restaurant crew, and we respect and appreciate their dedication to serve millions of customers daily,” a statement from McDonald’s USA said. “It’s the responsibility of federal and local government to set minimum wage, and we’re open to dialogue so that any changes meet the needs of thousands of hardworking restaurant employees and the 2,000 McDonald’s independent owner/operators who run small businesses.”
In late April, on an earnings call, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski and president Joseph Erlinger suggested that a McDonald’s wage increase could be coming soon, in response to a question about labor shortages.
“I think one of the things that we are thinking about…is in our company-owned restaurants, how do we think about what the pay and benefits package need to look like for us to make sure that we’re able to get the people that we need,” Kempczinski said.
“We’re working through what some changes in our company-owned restaurants might look like from a wages and compensation perspective,” Erlinger added.
Earlier this year, a Motherboard investigation revealed that McDonald’s has a secret intel team that has spied on its workers in the Fight for $15 campaign for years using social media monitoring tools, labelling the group at a security threat. In response, the Fight for $15 movement, which is backed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), filed federal charges against McDonald’s, for “unlawful surveillance of workers and union organizers participating in the Fight for $15 campaign, using tactics including extensive monitoring of social media activity.” An investigation is ongoing.
Earlier this year, progressive Democrats tried to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by including the wage hike in the federal coronavirus relief bill, but Republicans and moderate Democrats stood in the way.
Despite decades of experience, Wise, the Kansas City McDonald’s worker, earns $15.75 an hour and receives no health care benefits or paid sick days as a McDonald’s manager, and says it’s barely enough to scrape by and support his three teenage daughters in Kansas City.
“Our stores are making record profits during the pandemic and we’re short-staffed,” Wise continued. “We’re pissed off. McDonald’s has had the opportunity to do what’s right.”
On May 19, striking workers will also demand that McDonald’s withdraw its membership from the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and the International Franchise Association (IRA), which have spent more than $3.2 million lobbying Congress against the federal minimum wage increase since 2019, according to federal lobbying reports.
In 2019, McDonald’s promised to stop lobbying against local, state, and federal minimum wage increases, but has continued to play a part in these efforts by retaining its membership to these two powerful business associations.
UC Berkeley Campus Life Sciences Building (Meet on grass facing Northside of campus Berkeley
If you need help with directions call: (805) 832-8800
This event will be a space for community members to discuss the recent police shootings, mourn collectively, and find solidarity in unity. You can share ideas and feelings with people about the police killings and anything else happening in the country, world, or your personal life. You can share your thoughts, or just listen*, exchange contact info, and find peace in community.
Join SURJ SF and organizers from Defund SFPD Now, No New SF Jail Coalition, and the Budget Justice Coalition for a political education event to learn more about what the movement to defund the police looks like in San Francisco and how you can play a more active role in advocating for redistribution of the city’s budget to better benefit communities of color.
During this event, the speakers plan to address –
· What it means to “defund the police” and explain how this movement relates to abolitionist principles
· The history of policing and defund efforts in San Francisco
· Where funds could be redistributed to better serve communities
· What services and care structures really keep us safe
· Current advocacy efforts in San Francisco and how you can plug into local organizing
Timed to coincide with the May 12th “law enforcement” budget hearing of the SF Board of Supervisors Budget & Appropriations Committee, where San Franciscans will have an opportunity to provide public comment, we hope that you’ll leave this event inspired and energized to join in the movement to advocate for a more just budget.
Host: SURJ – SF
Sunday, May 9
3. Sunday, 12 Noon – 2:00pm, CODEPINK –Demand Peace on Mother’s Day – Golden Gate Bridge
On April 28, 2021 multiple sectors of Colombia’s civil society called for a general country wide strike and day of action to protest the proposal of a tax reform, a health care reform and a complete mismanagement of the pandemic and vaccine roll out.
This is on top of the complete disregard of the peace accords of 2016, the systematic killing of social and environmental leaders and a crippling corrupt state. While Colombia is suffering a 3rd peak of Covid, all the mobilizations happened massively as the people of Colombia recognize the Uribista government of Ivan Duque and a much deathlier sickness. Since the original strike, ex convict and ex president Alvaro Uribe called for police repression of protesters. This has lead to a countrywide massacre of civilians that as of today has left 37 death, 10 victims of sexual assault, 22 people with injuries to their eyes, 110 cases of fire arm shootings and over 1708 cases of police brutality.
We denounce the corrupt leadership of Colombia and demand justice. We demand accountability for the violence enacted on all Colombians by the Uribista regime. We demand that Ivan Duque stand down as president of Colombia and that the violent police force in Colombia is dismantled. We demand the enactment of the Leahy Law. This law prevents funding from the United States to foreign countries who are obviously committing gross human rights violations, including torture, extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearance, and rape.
We ask all allies of Colombia, Colombian culture, food and people to stand with us on behalf of all our lives and the lives of those who have been killed.
We ask for you to write to your representatives and the State Commission and Department of Defense expressing the importance of remaining strong against human rights violations. People are being slaughtered in the streets. Please come stand with us.
Dr. Yaba Blay will present her new book, followed by a conversation with writer Damon Young and RB host Carl Dix.
* What exactly is Blackness and what does it mean to be Black? * Is Blackness a matter of biology or consciousness? * Who determines who is Black and who is not? * Who’s Black, who’s not, and who cares?
In the United States, a Black person has come to be defined as any person with any known Black ancestry. Statutorily referred to as “the rule of hypodescent,” this definition of Blackness is more popularly known as the “one-drop rule,” meaning that a person with any trace of Black ancestry, however small or (in)visible, cannot be considered White. This method of social order began almost immediately after the arrival of enslaved Africans in America. By 1910, it was the law in almost all southern states. At a time when the one-drop rule functioned to protect and preserve White racial purity, Blackness was both a matter of biology and the law. One was either Black or White. Period. Has the social and political landscape changed 100 years later?
One-Drop features essays by 60 contributors representing 25 countries and combining candid narratives with striking portraits. The book provides living testimony to the diversity of Blackness.
Dr. Yaba Blay is a scholar-activist and cultural creative whose work centers the lived experiences of Black women and girls. She has launched viral campaigns including #PrettyPeriod and #ProfessionalBlackGirl and has appeared on CNN, BET, MSNBC, and NPR. Dr. Blay’s work has been featured in the New York Times, Ebony, Essence, and The Root. yabablay.com.
6. Tuesday, 3:00pm – 4:00pm, The Madness-Speakout At SF Japanese Consulate Against Olympics In Japan In Middle of Pandemic
SF Japanese Consulate 275 Battery St. (California St.) SF
It is time to STOP the Tokyo Olympic Games!
Despite a full blown world pandemic the International Olympics Committee IOC, the Japanese Suga government and the US along with the G7 are going ahead with the Olympics this coming July in Japan.
The torch bearers have been contaminated with the virus and the Japan Federation of Medical Workers’ Unions, Susumu Morita, said the pandemic should take priority.
“We must stop the proposal to send nurses who are engaged in the fight against a serious coronavirus pandemic to volunteer at the Olympics,”
In the midst of the pandemic the government is demanding that 500 nurses be assigned to protecting the participants in the Olympics. Hospitals are already overloaded
with Covid patients and the Olympics in Japan could lead to a catastrophic disaster for the the athletes, the people of Japan and the world. There are also no plans to
protect the 78,000 volunteers who also will not be vaccinated. According to a report they are “being offered little more than a couple of masks, some hand sanitizer and social-distancing guidance that may be hard to abide by.”
The government is also moving to release over 1 million tons of radioactive water into the Pacifica ocean from the broken Fukushima nuclear power plants.
Join if are a tenant and/or a tenant advocate with questions about your rights and to learn about what is happening regarding our #CancelRent campaign!
EVERY other TUESDAY from 5:30pm – 7:30pm
What to expect: * Share updates on local, regional, state and national policies * We will answer questions and concerns * It will be space for sharing stories and popular education * Collectively strategize to #CancelRent
Despite immense challenges there are a multitude of individuals and organizations trying to create change in Iran in a variety of different ways. This conversation aims to explore the impact the unprecedented sanctions are having on Iranian civil society and changemakers, why it’s been so hard to achieve meaningful sanctions relief, and how we can help be allies to Iranian civil society and activists.
Speakers: Mani Mostofi, Director of Miaan Group; Sussan Tahmasebi, Executive Director of FEMENA; Moderator, Sara Haghdoosti, Deputy Director of Win Without War.
Host: Win Without War
9. Wednesday, 11:30am, Invest in our community NOT cops, cages or surveillance! SF Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Appropriations Meeting
Football, by far the most popular sport in the world, occupies a strange but interesting place in how we understand contemporary capitalism.
On the one hand, the growth of an urbanised working class in the late nineteenth century and the commercialisation of the sport marched hand in hand. It’s no accident that most of our football clubs and their leagues date from the 1880s and 90s.
Yet the emotions football generates transcend the game’s capitalist origins. Clubs matter to their supporters in a way unmatched by other commercial products. Now, the assertion of “fan power” against football club owners’ greed to maximise their profit has proved a heartening conclusion to the recent controversy that swept European football.
Not many proposed capitalist ventures in history created such vehement and precipitous hostility as the European Super League (ESL). Barely two days after the elites of European football announced earlier this month that they were entering a breakaway super league, the project was in tatters.
The scheme fell apart following intense campaigning that involved fans publicly burning football shirts; managers pronouncing their dismay in irate interviews; “Shame on You” banners hung on the gates of football clubs, and other acts of defiant insurgence.
No sooner had the continent-wide contempt reached full throttle than the ill-fated project collapsed and its founding members, desperate to placate the angry mob, issued repentant statements in a bid to win back public support.
Even Boris Johnson got in on the mass hysteria, spinning the yarn that likens him to a freedom-loving libertarian, as he promised to use a “legislative bomb” to scupper the breakaway competition if football authorities failed to thwart the move on their own.
Fortunately, Johnson’s bomb wasn’t detonated, saving the PM from committing his latest act of hypocrisy after his own government voted last month in favour of new laws aimed at cracking down on our most basic freedom: the right to protest.
Examples of capitalist ventures overthrown by objectors are few and far between. The planned High Speed 2 (HS2) railway across Britain has created a wave of high-profile opposition on environmental and economic grounds. But despite campaigners regularly pinning themselves to trees in protest, earlier this year the government gave the HS2 project the green light and construction work is now underway.
Compared to the European Super League, opposition to the HS2 railway was fated to lose from the offset for one primary reason: it wasn’t football.
The outpouring of anger towards the proposed Super League – which would have seen a group of 12 clubs from across Europe’s biggest leagues given a permanent spot in the competition, stifling the soul of football elsewhere – confirmed that when it comes to the “People’s Game” of entrenched working-class communities, fans weren’t prepared to let capitalists have another stab at transforming the sport for the worse.
The sport has been transmuting under capitalism for years. As the most successful football clubs owned by billionaires grow richer, long-established community clubs are slowly diminishing in their shadows.
In the North West of England, the wealth divide between the richest and most successful clubs, and a series of community clubs that have struggled to make ends meet, is stark. At the top of the Premier League is Manchester City and Manchester United. Worth $4.2 billion, Manchester United is the world’s fourth richest football club. With a fortune of $4 billion, Manchester City is the sixth richest.
Meanwhile, neighbouring clubs are facing financial turmoil. Following a decade of monetary upheaval that ended in administration, Bolton Wanderers, a once mainstay of the Premier League, was relegated to League Two. Stockport County flew high in the 1990s, reaching the League Cup semi-finals before nose-diving into financial tatters, going into administration in 2009, and dropping into lower league obscurity ever since.
At the heart of free-market capitalism is competition. By stifling competition, namely thwarting the opportunity for promotion and relegation, it could be easy to deduce that the ESL would have gone against the grain of free-market capitalism. It wasn’t, however, quite like that. It was based on the ills of free-market capitalism.
One such ill is that a competitive environment creates a survival of the fittest atmosphere. Another is that when wealth is not distributed equally, a small percentage of society acquires the wealth while the majority scrabble to get by. Such ills could be attributed to football, where the survival of clubs is seemingly dependent on their wealth.
With the free-market model, the economy is decided by “fair” competition – as long as you are one of a handful of people – or in the case of the European Super League, one of a handful of clubs – who are allowed to compete.
Writing in the Independent, Mark Steel noted how the participating ESL club owners were merely applying the rules of business they have earned to football.
“In business, a company is bought by investors who have little interest in the product, only the share price. In fairness, the football owners have tried to follow this rule,” Steel wrote. “For example, one creator of the Super League was Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez, who said football must change the length of the game, as ‘90 minutes is too long.’”
In the case of the ESL debacle, the power of the genuine football supporter seemed to be grossly underestimated by the greed in the upper ranks of the game. The scale and breadth of the outpouring of opposition literally brought the venture to its knees.
My two football-mad sons were among the huge fraternity of multi-generational supporters threatening to abandon their club and love of the sport if the competition had gone ahead. Contemplating losing long-established, multi-generational support for Manchester United – nearly inconceivable given that their grandfather had played for the Manchester United Junior Athletic Club (MUJAC) in the 1950s – could not have been easy for my 12- and 14-year-olds, especially as youngsters who are finally getting back into playing grassroots football after a catastrophic year of disruption.
The right wing magazine The Spectator, which seems to be among the minority of publications in support of the European Super League, may speculate that football’s billionaires will win in the end.
But given my sons’ very real threat to give up the sport and club they love, and the outpouring of anger from fans around the world, I beg to differ. Football is one thing even the fattest of fat-cat billionaires can’t completely control.
At the same time, we should not be too carried away. The self-same owners will surely be back soon with more schemes to wring further profit from their investments. I can’t see the talk of introducing a “German” system of fans having a 51 percent stake in clubs being anything more than talk.
At a still deeper level, wouldn’t it be something if people translated their passions around football toward making progress in other institutions that impact our lives? “Give us back our energy companies, our post office, our schools.” Perhaps we’ll have to wait a while longer before we hear those cries demanding – and achieving – change.
According to his first 100 days joint address to Congress, it’s fair to say President Joe Biden is recognizing the severity of the current moment. This new, more progressive Joe Biden declared an end to trickle-down economics, uttered the phrase “white supremacy is terrorism” from the Speaker’s dais, and proposed sweeping new programs that would invest trillions of dollars in revitalizing American infrastructure. It’s no secret that Biden is trying to cast himself as the 21st century version of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But for all of his talk of massive public programs, Biden is still constraining himself with outdated economic thinking.
President Biden promised he would “pay for” his new jobs programs “without increasing the deficit” by increasing taxes on corporations and the wealthy. While taxing the rich is certainly a good way to reduce economic inequality and curb the influence the wealthy have on democracy, it’s not necessary to fund government spending. In her bestselling book The Deficit Myth, former Senate Budget Committee chief economist Stephanie Kelton – one of the foremost proponents of the Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) school of economics – pointed out that today, federal taxes don’t actually fund federal spending, and that government deficits are actually a sign of a healthy economy.
“There’s only one way to fund anything. Congress authorizes the funding, and the Fed changes the numbers in the bank account,” Kelton said in a phone interview.
In 1971, President Richard Nixon blew up the Bretton Woods Agreement – in which foreign governments could exchange US dollars for gold – and established the US dollar as a fiat currency. In layman’s terms, this meant the US government could increase the money supply without having to worry about also increasing the supply of gold. While Nixon’s presidency is rightfully remembered as one rife with corruption and hubris, his monetary policy proved historic – and could actually be what gets us out of the Covid recession.
In her book, Kelton describes the US as one of the few countries that has “monetary sovereignty.” Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution states that Congress has the sole authority “to coin money,” meaning nobody can issue US currency other than the US government. In a nutshell, this means it’s actually healthy for a currency issuer like the US to run deficits – especially since Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said last year that “there’s no limit” to how much stimulus Congress should pursue, and that interest rates would remain near frozen until at least 2023.
“Trade deficits work like a vacuum. The trade deficit means the rest of the world is selling us more than they’re buying from us and as a consequence, dollars go out of the US economy. A government deficit does exactly the opposite. It works like a blower,” Kelton explained. “When the government puts $100 into the economy and only taxes $90 back out, government deficits make a financial contribution to our economy. A trade deficit sucks dollars out, a government deficit blows them onto balance sheets – it adds them.”
“A government deficit should never be something we try to eliminate,” she continued. “It’s just a matter of calibrating the flows, so the private sector, when it’s prepared to take the lead and consumers are optimistic and consumer sentiment is strong and wages are growing and households are spending a lot of money, that will crank the wheel of the economy and it will lead to economic growth and job creation because businesses will be swamped with customers. And when they’re swamped with customers, they respond by hiring and investing more. They’ll build more factories. They’ll buy more capital equipment.”
Supporters of the Green New Deal – which the youth-led Sunrise Movement describes as a massive new jobs plan that would “mobilize every aspect of American society to 100 percent clean and renewable energy” – argue that Biden’s proposed $4 trillion infrastructure package is not ambitious enough. A United Nations climate panel warned in 2018 that unless global carbon emissions were cut by 45 percent by 2030, the global temperature would increase by 1.5 degrees Celsius, causing irreparable damage to the biodiversity that maintains food chains and ecosystems. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) has called on Biden to put forth a plan that would spend at least $10 trillion over ten years.
“Millions of people in the United States are unemployed,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said last month. “We have a truly crippled healthcare system and a planetary crisis on our hands, and we’re the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. So we can do $10 trillion.”
The prospect of injecting trillions of new dollars has conservatives worried about hyperinflation. Should Congress rely solely on printing money, they argue, it could make the value of the dollar worthless, raise the price of consumer goods, and force the Fed to raise interest rates. But Kelton is skeptical about inflation becoming a problem down the road.
“If we did something really wild and juiced aggregate demand to the point that we got a full employment economy before 2023, and the economy was so strong that the Fed was in a position to hike [interest rates], then yes, it would impact interest-sensitive sectors like housing and automobiles,” Kelton said. “But that’s a pretty hard point to get to.”
In a New York Times essay, Kelton proposed several policies to curb inflation should the economy begin to overheat. This includes relaxing limits on immgration to allow for more workers to take open jobs that otherwise wouldn’t be filled, repealing trade tariffs to make it easier for businesses to import raw materials from overseas and to incentivize consumers to buy imported goods, and passing new taxes to discourage corporations from outsourcing labor overseas, among others. Ultimately, Kelton believes there can be a symbiotic relationship between the public and private sectors, which would ultimately be driven by the deficit.
“The private sector can drive expansion until it can’t. At some point, something will happen. That’s why we have business cycles. If there’s a decline in spending, we get a contraction,” Kelton told me. “It’s not that the government’s deficit ever disappeared. It just got too small.”
“Capitalism runs on sales. That’s the bottom line,” she added. “And when sales falter, goods don’t get sold and businesses lay off workers. Because you don’t need workers if the demand is not there.”
Should Biden wish to be remembered as the next iteration of FDR, he’ll need to do more than simply build new roads and bridges – he’ll have to reject old ways of thinking about spending, embrace Modern Monetary Theory, and put forth a plan that’s just as, if not more ambitious than, the original New Deal. We may only get one shot at this – we owe it to future generations to get it right this time.
Carl Gibson is a freelance journalist whose work has been published in CNN, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Barron’s, Business Insider, The Independent and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs.
Tim Wu: Neither a nationalist or fascist leader really wants accountability. The one doesn’t want competition and the other doesn’t want voters. But they are in some sense similar. The danger of a return to fascism is the fear that the monopolies and the leader realize that their interests are in common. That’s what happened in Germany, Japan, and Spain pre-WWII, and that’s what we need to watch for. Antitrust law is like a safeguard. It has an incredibly important constitutional role of limiting private power.
Tim Wu is a policy advocate, a professor at Columbia Law School and a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. He is best known for coining the phrase net neutrality. He worked on competition policy in the Obama White House and the Federal Trade Commission, served as senior enforcement counsel at the New York Office of the Attorney General, and worked at the Supreme Court for Justice Stephen Breyer. His previous books are The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires and The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside our Heads.
Roxanne Coady is owner of R.J. Julia, one of the leading independent booksellers in the United States, which—since 1990—has been a community resource not only for books, but for the exchange of ideas. In 1998, Coady founded Read To Grow, which provides books for newborns and children and encourages parents to read to their children from birth. RTG has distributed over 1.5 million books.
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This Coming July 31st Statewide MFA Actions JOIN US TO CALL ON GOVERNOR NEWSOM TO KEEP THE PROMISE OF MEDICARE FOR ALL WITH RALLIES IN LOS ANGELES, OAKLAND & MORE ON JULY 31st, 2021 The 56th anniversary of Medicare is July 30th and healthcare advocates are using the day after this anniversary to call on California Governor Gavin Newson to keep his promise to bring single payer healthcare to California and for federal representatives to redouble their effort for “Medicare for All”. To make universal state-sponsored healthcare coverage a reality Gov. Newsom would need to apply for a waiver from the… Continue reading →
The Institute for the Critical Study of Society at the Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library Sunday Morning at the Marxist Library OUR CURRENT SCHEDULE (NOTE: These are all tentative and may be changed. Please check back the week before, or sign up for our weekly reminders/updates at firstname.lastname@example.org) Sun, Dec 27, 2020: 10:30 am to 12:30 pm CONFIRMED: The Three Concepts of Freedom Synopsis: In this session we will compare and contrast the Liberal, Democratic, and the communist concepts of freedom. We will discuss that the Liberal freedom consists of the legal guarantees against outside intrusions. Democratic freedom emphasizes the right to participate in the… Continue reading →
Earlier this year, we released our list of the 19 House Democrats who we believe are most likely to cosponsor HR 1976, the Medicare for All Act, next if they feel enough pressure from their constituents. We also published a list of Congressional districts whose representatives are the top campaign recipients of corporate health care money and must be held accountable for their ties to Big Pharma and the private insurance industry. While you don’t live in one of these two types of priority districts, we still need your help. That’s why we’re coming to you today with an exciting opportunity: … Continue reading →
Ecosocialist Book Club: Dina Gilio-Whitaker’s As Long as Grass Grows Join the DSA SF Ecosocialist Committee’s book club biweekly on Mondays in August – August 2, August 16, and August 30 at 6:00 p.m. -7:15 p.m. We’re reading and discussing Dina Gilio-Whitaker’s As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock. Open to all! Register now using the link here.
Neighborhood Outreach to Renters in the Fillmore Interested in tenant organizing? Join Neighbors United for our weekly phonebank, Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. We’ll be calling tenants in the Fillmore to let them know about their rights, and how to access rent relief. On June 30th at 6:00 p.m. in Jefferson Square Park, we’ll be hosting a tenant’s rights bootcamp. Want to become more involved on a regular basis? Join our weekly meeting on Sundays at 12:00 p.m.
Intro to DSA Recurring March 3, 2021 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm Come learn what Democratic Socialists of America is doing to build the socialist movement in San Francisco. There will an introduction to the mission of DSA, the socialist project, and what our organizers are doing locally. Bring your questions and a friend! RSVP at dsasf.org/intro-mtg-registration
Next General Membership Meeting Our next General Membership Meeting will be Wednesday July 7th, at 6:30pm. Please RSVP here. We’ll be considering the endorsement of Janani Ramachandran for AD-18 in the East Bay. More details to come! In Solidarity, Claire Lau Co-Chair, San Francisco Berniecrats San Francisco Berniecrats, FPPC # 1391193. Financial Disclosures at SFethics.org. Click here if you’d like to receive only activist alerts (fewer emails).
A More Equitable Future for Traffic Tickets Posted by LaborSolidarityCommittee WHEN: August 5, 2021 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm WHERE: Online CONTACT: Event website EVENT Register California gives out more than four million traffic tickets each year, the majority of which disproportionately fall on Black and Brown communities across the state. It also has the most expensive traffic tickets in the country, with the bulk cost of these tickets being driven by numerous fees on top of the base cost of the ticket. Failure to pay the full cost of a ticket can result in even greater penalties, including added… Continue reading →
Join us Thursday for another engaging conversation on our national organizing call at 6PM EST. We’ll be discussing the Supreme court and Birddog strategies with Center for Popular Democracy’s very own Julia Peters from CPD’s Innovation Team! We’ll also be discussing Medicare-for-all and Senate filibuster updates happening in our progressive fight. Hope to see you all Thursday at 6PM. Register here to join! Thank you, Innovations, Center for Popular Democracy CPD Action 449 Troutman Street, Suite A Brooklyn, NY 11237 United States
ISF Federal Working Group meeting: Thursday, August 5, 7:30–9 PM. Register here for a Zoom meeting to help us develop strategies to influence our Members of Congress and the Biden administration to enact a progressive agenda.