Daily Clips: July 29th, 2015

Facebook expands its political influence: While TV may still be the most important medium to connect with voters, there is little doubt that Facebook is also going to be a major player in the 2016 election cycle. As the New York Times reports:

Some estimate that 2016 will usher in roughly $1 billion in online political advertising, and Facebook says it is on track to increase its revenue from previous cycles.

What’s more, Zuckerberg and his team are giving all the presidential campaigns unprecedented abilities to track and reach potential voters and donors. While TV advertising is broad and inexact in its targeting, “[t]here’s a level of precision” in Facebook, “that doesn’t exist in any other medium,” said Crystal Patterson, a government and politics outreach specialist at Facebook.

Want a raise? Well, how about a gift-card instead?! In our era of stagnant wages, businesses are doing everything they can to not give you a raise. Don’t believe me? Just read this Washington Post article which says “companies’ spending on benefits has jumped 16 percent since 2004, after adjusting for inflation, compared to a 2 percent increase in wages.” Of course, business owners try to pass this off as a shift in what employees actually want. They provide some anecdotal stories about how their employees simply want more flexibility or time and blah blah blah. But we all know that’s horse manure. While all of these “perks” are great, ultimately you work so that you can get paid.

“FishyBulb”, a commenter on the article, provided a perfect rebuttal:

I’m a Millennial and it’s been a common theme that we’d rather have more ‘perks’ than traditional compensation and duties, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s more that we (and probably everyone) would rather get something rather than nothing.

And there you have it. If your employer is balking at giving you a raise and says, “Hey, want some free pet insurance?”, you’re not exactly in a position of power to go, “You know what, boss, f*** you. Show me the money.” So you take the pet insurance. And then businesses can go talk to the Washington Post about this amazing new change in the workplace where employees don’t want more money, they just want more perks! It’s a deeply insulting strategy.

Christie is coming after your burger marijuana: Look out Colorado, Washington, Alaska, DC and Oregon (and more to come)! Chris Christie has laid down the law. In a town-hall meeting yesterday, Chris Christie advised pot smokers that “if you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it” because “as of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.” This coming from a man who is fervently against “big government” and enthusiastically in favor of “state’s rights.”

Clinton stays quiet on Keystone question: Hillary Clinton has refused to establish her stance on the Keystone pipeline, telling the American people (in a highly patronizing way), “[i]f it’s undecided when I become president, I will answer your question.” Are you kidding me? If I plan on giving you my vote, I think it is well within my rights to understand how you would vote about issues when you are in the Oval Office. Honestly, this is the first time that I have been truly disappointed in Clinton’s campaign strategy. I guarantee you she will be forced into a position on Keystone by the end of the election. There’s simply no way that a GOP candidate let’s her have her cake and eat it too.

Chipotle CFO: “Just Because Minimum Wage Is Increasing in a Market Doesn’t Mean We’re Going to Raise Prices”

The total number of restaurants in Seattle has boomed since the council passed a $15 minimum wage. Weird. (Source: Seattle.gov, @TBPInvictus)

The total number of restaurants in Seattle has boomed since the council passed a $15 minimum wage. Weird.
(Source: Seattle.gov, @TBPInvictus)

If there was anywhere the negative impact of a higher minimum wage would surely rear its ugly head it would be in the restaurant industry, we were told, where margins are notoriously thin and labor costs can account for up to 40 percent of total sales. And so minimum wage haters closely watched recent wage hikes in Seattle and San Francisco in eager anticipation of regulatory shit hitting free market fan.

So far, their vigilance has proven unrewarding.

In Seattle, the single pizzeria that claims to have closed in response to a rising wage floor has been more than offset by the dozens of net new restaurants that have opened since the city’s $15 wage ordinance was signed into law. And in San Francisco, the righties’ lone glimmer of doom—a 10 percent price hike at local Chipotle restaurants (compared to an average 4 percent nationwide)—has turned out, if anything, to prove the opposite.

Writing on Barry Ritholtz’s The Big Picture, friend of the blog Invictus posts excerpts from the company’s quarterly earnings call to show that Chipotle executives are largely unconcerned with rising labor costs. According to Chipotle CFO John Hartung:

In the San Francisco Bay Area for example, the minimum wage was recently increased to over $12 an hour. This increase coupled with higher occupancy and other operating costs excluding food costs contribute to an overall cost of doing business of 30% or more higher than our average Chipotle. But our menu prices in the San Francisco area were until recently only about 4% above the typical Chipotle and were lower than most competitors in the area. So as a result of looking at all of these factors, we decided we were underpriced in San Francisco and we recently increased prices by 10% in the 10 restaurants within San Francisco and by 7% for the 74 restaurants outside San Francisco in the Bay Area.

It is interesting to note that Chipotle raised prices by 7 percent outside of San Francisco, where the minimum wage did not increase, making it all the more difficult to discount the company’s disclaimers. These price hikes clearly have little if anything to do with the minimum wage.

But regardless, how are Chipotle customers reacting to higher prices? According to Hartung, they’re not:

I was just out in San Francisco a few weeks ago, visited a bunch of our restaurants, talked to our teams there, talked to some customers as well. No reaction whatsoever from what I can tell. We don’t see it in any of the sales trends. We don’t see it with any of the anecdotal feedback we’re getting. Frankly, I think we’ve got lots more room to increase prices if we need to. The costs of doing business are so extraordinary in that whole market that I think we’re underpriced, and we could increase prices more.

But wait… I thought, in the words of US House Speaker John Boehner (R-Trickle Down), “When you raise the cost of something, you get less of it.” Huh. Looks like that maxim just doesn’t hold true when it comes to steak burritos.

Or employment. Nowhere in the transcript does Chipotle even suggest that they would consider cutting back hours. In fact, executives seem to take pride in increasing labor rates nationwide by 4.2 percent during the quarter, “the fastest we have seen in many years,” while simultaneously enhancing benefits “by adding a tuition reimbursement program and by paying for sick time and increasing the vacation pay.”

It’s a dystopian nightmare!

And in case you’re worried about runaway fast casual food inflation, Hartung couldn’t be any clearer: “Just because minimum wage is increasing in a market doesn’t mean we’re going to raise prices,” he told analysts. For example, he says they have no plans to raise prices in Chicago or Maryland where substantial minimum wage hikes have also gone into effect.

Chipotle and the Wall Street analysts covering it just don’t appear to be concerned at all with a rising minimum wage. The most talked about subject on the call was the dreaded “carnitas issue” (apparently, Chipotle has suffered from a “rolling blackout” due to a shortage of domestic pork that meets its animal welfare and other standards). And if anything, Wall Street seems much more interested in Chipotle boosting its stock buybacks than in pressuring the company to rein in labor costs.

So much for the San Francisco Chipotle price hike kerfuffle. As Gertrude Stein once said about neighboring Oakland, “There is no there there.” Which is good news for everybody whose job doesn’t depend on proving that the minimum wage is a job killer.

Can You Guess which Five Presidential Candidates Approve of Raising the Minimum Wage?

1. Maggie Haberman at the New York Times yesterday reported that Hillary Clinton will come out in favor of New York’s $15 minimum wage for fast food workers in an economic speech on Friday:

Mrs. Clinton has argued that the national minimum wage of $7.25 an hour needs to be increased, but she has not gone so far as to endorse an increase to $15. Her embrace of the New York recommendation for fast-food workers will be her first endorsement of a $15-per-hour minimum in any context.

Clinton has stated that a regional approach to raising the minimum wage is necessary.

2. Martin O’Malley, however, has been public about his support for raising the national minimum wage to $15 since July 16th.

3. Not one to be outdone, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a bill on July 22nd to raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour and eliminate the tipped-employee loophole. He also called on President Obama to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $15 an hour “and make it easier for them to join a union.” So basically, every major Democratic candidate—sorry, Jim Webb—is for raising the minimum wage, although they have some serious differences about how and when the wage should go into effect and what the wage should be raised to.

Who would've thought Santorum would be (slightly) better on an issue than anybody else in the 2016 race?

Who would’ve thought Santorum would be (slightly) better on an issue than anybody else in the 2016 race?

4. Only two out of 16 Republican presidential candidates admit to wanting to raise the national minimum wage, though none of them are willing to go as high as $15. Rick Santorum is for raising the minimum wage, though he has come out against President Obama’s proposed raising of the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, saying it’s too high. Ben Carson is also for, presumably, a modest increase in the wage.

5. And Donald Trump now says he doesn’t want to raise the wage—he called for a two-tiered minimum wage system including a modest increase back in 2013, though he’s apparently changed his mind—but he at least understands the importance of keeping the minimum wage where it is. That makes him a better economic candidate than the other Republican frontrunners, who are entirely against the idea of a minimum wage.

Daily Clips: July 28th, 2015

A new study shows that Obamacare didn’t end the world: According to new research by the Journal of the American Medical Association, Obamacare has increased Americans’ access to doctors. Shocker, I know. Snootiness aside, Sarah Kliff over at Vox reminds us that “while it may seem intuitive, it was never a foregone conclusion that the Affordable Care Act would increase access to care.” There were concerns of too many new patients or that “high-deductible plans would still leave care out of reach for lower-income Americans.”

Jon Stewart’s progressive legacy: There was once a time (the mid-2000’s), Katrina vanden Heuvel recalls, when Jon Stewart told her (as a progressive) to join him “in the center” of American politics. According to Stewart, that was “his movement.” However, vanden Heuvel claims that the war in Iraq acted as a turning point for Stewart’s political tone and place on the political spectrum. All of a sudden, “The Daily Show” became a place of dissent and progressiveness.

In doing so, vanden Heuvel argues that “The Daily Show” became “one of the most important and influential voices on the progressive left”, a show which “provided valuable airtime to views that were often neglected, even denigrated, in mainstream media, and made them sound appealing.” As she beautifully concludes, Stewart “made us laugh, yes, but he also encouraged us to think.”

The Future of Work in the Uber Economy: The issue of the “gig economy” just won’t go away. Stephen Hill has written a wonderful piece on the issue, pointing out the complexities of this 21st century labor market tension. He summarizes our era’s problem in just a few short sentences:

The problem created by the new digital economy is not merely one of income inequality. The challenge is how to stabilize the economy and re-establish economic security for the broad swath of American workers. One important way would be to figure out how to provide the support structures workers and families need, regardless of their employment situation or their job classification.

Stephen Hill also advocates for a “security safety net” similar to Nick Hanauer and David Rolf’s proposal for a prorated, portable, and universal benefits system for non-salaried workers. As Hill correctly concludes:

What it comes down to is this: there’s absolutely no reason why a business should be able to evade paying a couple dollars more per hour per worker to provide a safety net, just because that business hired a freelancer, temp, contractor or franchise.

Obama proposes sweeping ban on US ivory sales: God, isn’t Obama just the worse? First, he wanted to protect Americans from disease and now he wants to save elephants? The nerve. As ThinkProgress reports, the US supports the second largest market for ivory in the world, behind Asia, so restricting ivory sales in our nation seems…well…pretty reasonable.

If you haven’t heard already, Washington State will have an opportunity to pass Initiative 1401 this November via a state ballot measure that would “prohibit the purchase, sale, and distribution of products made from a list of 10 endangered animals being exploited to the point of potential extinction, and will be enforced by strong penalties.” You should check out I-401’s website for more information (and also because it is designed beautifully).

Seattle Has Three Affordable Housing Crises, and They All Require Different Solutions

This is my single family detached house (circa 1935), which definitely makes me part of the problem.

This is my single family detached house (circa 1935), which definitely makes me part of the problem.

I’ve recently been drawn into a Twitter feud with a self-proclaimed “urbanist” who insists that the only solution to Seattle’s affordable housing crisis is to free up developers to build whatever they want wherever they want. Really. I don’t want to mention him by name—because why drive attention to his extremist libertarian views?—so for the purposes of this post, I’ll just call him “Ben.”

When I asked Ben if it would be okay to build 30 stories on my 6,800 sq ft single family lot, he said, “Of course!” When I elaborated, “How about an office tower, or a Hooters … or a rendering plant?” he countered that a rendering plant wouldn’t pencil out with our land values, but “sure.”

And when I pressed on, “So you’d argue for no zoning and no Growth Management Act …?” Ben was unequivocal: “It is very likely that today we would get better enviro and affordability outcomes with no zoning, including no GMA,” Ben replied.

Okay.

I largely share Ben’s vision of a taller, denser, more walkable, bikeable, and transit-rich Seattle, and to this end I support substantial up-zoning and other regulatory changes. But anybody who argues that the market alone can solve all our problems is simplifying Seattle’s housing crisis to the point of absurdity.  In fact, I’d argue that we actually have three distinct housing crises, each requiring its own set of solutions: homelessness, workforce housing, and middle class housing.

Homelessness is at once the easiest and most difficult crisis to address. The most obvious solution is to just give these people homes—problem solved, and most likely at a price well below the real financial, human, and societal cost of allowing the problem to fester. Yet housing alone cannot address the mental illness, addiction, and domestic abuse that leads many people to the streets.

Even those who find themselves homeless due to mere misfortune are almost by definition destitute to the point of being outside the ability of a rational housing market to serve. Thus, one thing we should all be able to agree on is that homelessness is not a problem that can be solved by the market: there is simply no way to profit from building safe housing affordable enough for people who have reached such a level of desperation. How and how much we address homelessness is mostly a matter of how much taxpayers are willing to spend.

Likewise, our workforce housing crisis also cannot be solved by the market, as given the fixed costs of land and construction, there is no way for developers to make a sufficient profit building units within Seattle aimed at renters and buyers earning substantially below Area Median Income (AMI). In fact, the market is busy exacerbating our workforce housing affordability crisis by renovating or tearing down older buildings that have served lower-income Seattleites for decades.

Yeah sure, low-income Seattleites could always double and triple or even quadruple up with roommates in order to pay ever rising rents, and many already do. But as Hanna Brooks Olsen explained on Seattlish a couple years back, the math is truly awful. Add a child or two to the equation and awful becomes impossible.

Free-marketeers like Ben argue that eventually all this new upscale housing becomes affordable when, you know, it becomes old and rundown. Maybe. Or maybe Seattle’s ever-rising land values dictate an accelerated cycle of renovation and renewal? But even if true, eventually doesn’t help people living in the here and now. In the meanwhile, show me the private developer going to bankers with plans to build to 50 percent of AMI. Betcha you can’t.

It’s hard to see how any amount of deregulation can entice developers to build to this market without substantial public subsidies; and subsidies cost money. Whether that money comes from linkage fees or a property tax levy or a citywide income tax, it has to come from somewhere if we’re going to make an honest effort to address this crisis.

Of course, our growing middle class housing crisis is something that the market can chip away at (depending on your definition of middle class)—but that doesn’t mean we’re better off leaving it to the market alone.

We need to change our zoning to allow Seattle to grow taller and denser. We need to allow (even encourage!) accessory dwelling units throughout the city, relax costly car-centric requirements that new developments provide off-street parking, and yes, we need to substantially reduce the amount of land in Seattle that is restricted to detached single family housing. Seattle needs townhouses, row houses, triplexes, micro-housing, and many more two and three bedroom apartments suitable for families with children. And much of it needs to be built on land currently restricted toward low density use.

We don’t need to eliminate zoning the way Ben advocates, but we do need to zone smarter. And we all need to give up this fantasy that every middle class family can own a bungalow and a yard. Our population (demand) is growing while our land mass (supply) cannot. Barring an economic collapse (or a dramatic shift in housing tastes), single family detached housing will increasingly become a luxury that fewer and fewer Seattleites will be able to afford. Nothing can change that. Not the council, not socialism, and certainly not the market.

To be clear, I’m not anti-market or anti-developer. But this idea that the market, free from zoning and other regulations, will fix our entire housing crisis, is magical thinking. The market cannot touch homelessness. The market cannot come close to addressing our shortage of workforce housing. And while a unfettered market might well build a lot more housing than it’s building now, it will build it in a chaotic way that will surely piss off a lot of Seattleites—and because we are in competition with much higher priced cities like San Francisco, the market would still have a helluva time keeping up with demand.

The real decision facing Seattleites is whether we have the vision, the empathy, and the will to really address these problems? Are we willing to spend the money necessary to address homelessness by building more shelters and temporary housing, and by providing the costly wrap around services necessary to get the homeless off the street and back on their feet? Or are we comfortable enjoying the benefits of our economic boom even as homeless encampments sprout beneath our city’s freeways?

Are we willing to spend the money necessary to fund, build, and maintain the subsidized housing necessary to sustain a culturally diverse city—the culture that made neighborhoods like Capitol Hill so desirable in the first place? Are we willing to even consider a modest program of rent stabilization as a short term solution? Or do we want to become a culturally sterile city of haves by virtue of driving out the have-lesses and have-nots for want of affordable housing?

And do we want to broadly slow skyrocketing housing costs for the middle class, but only to the extent that the market delivers? Or are we willing to use the bonding capacity at our disposal to build thousands of publicly owned, non-subsidized middle class housing units a year that would grow more affordable over time by keeping them outside the rent seeking impulses of the for-profit market?

At the very minimum we have three separate housing crises, at least two of which require public money, and all of which require public will. Solving them won’t come easy or cheap. But if we choose to solve these crises they can be largely solved.

The Bens of this world insist that we only have one choice: To let the market do its magic, and live with the Seattle the market begets. But that’s not really a choice at all. It’s an excuse for failing to make the hard choices and sacrifices necessary to build a more humane, more diverse, and more affordable city for today’s Seattleites and for generations to come.

[Cross-posted to Horsesass.org]

This Is What Campaign Finance Reform Should Look Like

America’s voting laws are broken. Everything has gone wrong: Corporations are people, money is free speech, and states are passing laws making it harder, not easier, to vote. This is straight out of the Bizarro World code. It’s exactly wrong.

"Us not want people to vote in America!"

“Us not want people to vote in America!”

Everybody knows a democracy doesn’t work properly unless all citizens have the right to participate.  Inclusion is key. (And, yes, it happens to be true that when more people vote, Democrats generally win. That’s why Republicans are working so hard to ensure that people don’t get to exercise their right to vote. A saner response would be to refine and retool their policies until they appealed to the largest number of people. But it’s easier to just disempower as many people as possible, I guess.) But it’s hard to figure out how to fix this mess. It’s only gotten worse as more and more new laws and rulings have muddied up the situation to the point where it feels hopeless.

But there is hope! Jon Schwartz at The Intercept writes about a new paper from 12 American public policy organizations—among them Democracy Matters, Demos, Every Voice, and U.S. PIRG—titled  “Fighting Big Money, Empowering People: A 21st Century Democracy Agenda.”

You should read the whole report (PDF), but here are the five simple principles to which it subscribes:

Everyone participates;

Everyone’s voice is heard;

Everyone knows who is trying to influence our views and our representatives;

Everyone plays by fair, common-sense rules;

Everyone is held accountable, with enforceable penalties to deter bad behavior.

The authors lay out a series of proposals (some of which could be put into action by President Obama today, some of which requires Congressional support, some of which requires public support) that would put democracy back on track.  Now that this report is out in the world, it’s up to presidential candidates to endorse it. If you’re a fan of a presidential candidate, you should let their campaign know that you’re not going to give any more support—money or otherwise—unless they offer their full-throated support of this paper. It’s just that important.

3 Reasons Solar Energy is going to become a hot topic in 2016

In 2015, Uber has been enthusiastically courted by Republicans and Democrats alike. The courtship is full of pandering and policy points from both ends of the spectrum. Right now, a candidate’s position on Uber and the “gig economy” acts as a useful (and easy) way for the media to gauge how “innovative” and “forward-looking” a candidate might be. However, in the wings there lies another industry which could also attract some wooing.

The solar industry.

Why solar? Here are three reasons why I think presidential candidates in both parties will soon start to court the solar industry in the 2016 elections:

#1 reason solar will become a hot political topic: Like Uber, the solar industry is an underdog in its respective sector. Solar embodies the fabled free market disruption that politicians love to tout. After all, sticking it to “the man” is one of America’s favorite pastimes. And that’s exactly what solar is doing. According to the Washington Post, top utility execs held a retreat where they warned each other that their “industry must prepare an action plan to address the challenges” of solar’s growing influence.

But Americans aren’t feeling much sympathy for the utility industry. Like taxis, the utility industry is seen as the “status quo” power which is holding back true innovation. Listen to the language of David K. Owens, an Executive VP for Edison Electric Institute, who had this to say about solar’s disruption and what it means for utility companies:

It’s not about profits; it’s about protecting customers. There are unreasonable cost shifts that do occur [with solar]. There is a grid that everyone relies on, and you have to pay for that grid and pay for that infrastructure.

Are you scared yet? No, you’re probably not, because although we certainly do “rely on” the utility industry, “relying on” anything isn’t a convincing argument for not trying a new approach. That’s why even 7 out of 10 Republicans support tax incentives for the solar industry. They want alternatives, like consumers wanted with their taxi services. Hence, it makes sense for politicians to actively embrace the disruptive qualities of the solar industry. It makes them look free market friendly, while also championing a pioneering sector.

SIDE NOTE: It is for this reason that I was interested (and surprised) to see that Jeb! has announced that he will end all tax incentives for all energy sectors: solar, oil, gas…you name it. On the face of it, that’s as “free market” as you can get. But that is largely an ahistorical perspective. Oil and gas have been given decades of help from the government, while renewable industry is new to this favorable treatment. I suppose it’s a way for him to look progressive while ultimately keeping solar behind the eight ball. But still, with a large majority of Republicans supporting solar’s tax incentives, it appears to be a peculiar political calculation – much like his talk of reforming Medicare, as Goldy wrote last week. SIDE NOTE OVER.

#2 reason solar will become a hot political topic: Americans love saving money – especially in today’s anxious economy. And guess what? The infatuation with the solar industry is mostly driven by the hope of a smaller utilities bill. In fact, 64 percent of Americans say that their main motivation to install a solar system would be to receive a smaller energy bill. Compare that to just 35 percent who would do so for environmental reasons.

Just recently, Van Jones wrote an op-ed on CNN which observed that Americans are very aware of the cost-saving benefits of solar, arguing that this was a major reason why “solar installations increased almost 80 percent in 2014.”

#3 reason solar will become a hot political topic: The solar industry is adding jobs – fast. As a matter of fact, solar jobs grew 10 times faster than the economy’s overall job rate in the last year. With these sorts of numbers, it is unsurprising that Hillary is calling for a 700% increase in solar capacity by the end of her first term (18 gigawats today to 140 gigawatts in 2020, duh).

Jobs and growth will most likely be the defining themes of the 2016 election. Thus, it makes sense to support an industry where you can achieve incredible job growth and stimulate a new, promising sector. It’s a win-win for politicians and I would be very surprised if both Republicans and Democrats do not openly embrace the disruptive and prolific nature of solar.

It is for these three reasons that I believe that we will soon be seeing politicians fight for the hand of solar. It’s inevitable that at some point the media will become bored with the “Uber economy” talking points and decide to sensationalize/politicize an industry that is hip, booming and full of promise. Solar is sitting in the wings, ready to soak up the limelight.

Daily Clips: July 27th, 2015

Our Collective (Economic) Problem: Invictus shared this gem of a graph on Sunday. He poignantly captions his tweet – “Here’s the median net worth of the 45-54 age cohort from Fed’s SCF. It’s very easy to see our collective problem.”

As you can see, the median American household has had a tough couple of years. While the stock market hangs around its all-time high and CEO pay keeps increasing, you can understand why income inequality is on America’s lips. Thanks, Invictus for the tip on this graph.

Can Rush Limbaugh propel Trump’s campaign? It’s a question I wouldn’t often take seriously. But Matthew Yglesias’ incredible perspective and writing on American politics continues to impress me. In his latest column, he argues that Limbaugh and talk show conservatives can act as “an establishment” of sorts, which can rally behind Trump and offer him a veneer of credibility and clout. These talking heads, however, have interests ($) outside of electing the best candidate. Yglesias calls this interest a “perverse incentive to push the GOP in tactically unsound directions.”

And so this is good news for Donal Trump, you say? No! All of this is actually good news for Jeb!, says the author:

Every day that conservative talk radio is not talking about this is a good day for Jeb Bush. Trump is simply a much, much, much, much less plausible nominee than Walker or Rick Perry or even Ted Cruz. Conservative media supporting Walker is a real threat to Bush. Conservative media chasing after a shiny Trump-shaped object is, objectively, a favor to Bush because it sucks up oxygen that his lesser-known rivals need.

You just read some beautiful analysis, folks.

Clinton rolls out climate plan: The slow roll out of Clinton’s policy positions continues! And the media just got thrown their latest bone. Hillary announced some bold climate policies, specifically that she would seek “a path towards deep decarbonization by 2050” and “enough clean renewable energy to power every home in America” by 2027. What would that require? As Politico reports, “Clinton’s plan calls for having 500 million solar panels installed by the end of her term if she’s elected president. That would be part of the effort to hike solar capacity to 140 gigawatts by the end of 2020, the equivalent of about 140 nuclear reactors and an increase of 700 percent from current levels.” Her policy layout received praise and approval from Tom Steyer – a billionaire climate change activist. That’s good news for Hillary’s campaign. But it’s just a start.

Seattle’s gun violence: The Seattle Times’ Danny Westneat points out out that “[t]here have been 227 shootings so far this year in [Seattle], through Monday, July 20.” That’s insane. What’s more insane? That we’ve become so numb to it. Gun violence isn’t being talked about much, really. We’ve got town halls on affordable housing, parades for civil rights, yet there is this silent acceptance for our high levels of gun violence. As the author comments, gun violence is “up 24 percent over last year and 40 percent over 2013.”

These are ridiculous numbers which cannot be ignored. We cannot accept as a “part of life” in Seattle. Let’s start talking more about it.