Recent analysis of the student loan industry demonstrates that it could be the next bubble to burst and needs comprehensive reform that includes lowering and maintaining realistic tuition rates coupled with no or low-interest loans by banks with reformed usury laws. Today’s graduates, who comprise tomorrow’s middle class, innovators, and entrepreneurs, have become indentured servants to the banking industry and are unable to achieve any of the dream that America once had to offer. This is partly because of lack of regulation regarding bank usury. On any given minimum monthly payment on a student loan, as much as 60 percent of that payment may automatically go toward interest rather than principle. It is no wonder that it takes graduates up to 30 years to pay off their student loans, if they are able to at all, all the while delaying economic and social decisions such as to marry, have children, buy a home, invest in retirement accounts, or otherwise stimulate the economy. Continue reading →
There is a lot of talk these days about the National Park Service’s draft proposal to limit off-leash areas for dogs on federal recreational property. Listening to the controversy and testimony, you would think that the feds want to throw all of the dogs into the Pacific to drown. I think the arguments for the dogs are, well, for the birds. Continue reading →
With the news of General Stanley McChrystal leaving the lead post in Afghanistan, we can assume that American leaders will continue to work with Afghan leaders to fight against the Taliban and extremists who terrorize the Afghan people. Without diminishing the importance of the actions surrounding his dismissal, any inappropriate comments made to a music magazine pale in comparison to the inappropriate behaviors he allowed district commanders to exert over girls and women in Afghanistan, however. It seems like similar extremists have been allowed to control Afghan districts. Is the protection of girls and women not included in progressing and securing Afghanistan? Continue reading →
Assembly Bill 1998, introduced by Assemblywomen Julia Brownley, proposes to ban single-use bags in California. Like many well-intentioned environmental bills, however, AB 1998 is overly broad and could create the exact opposite environmental effect while creating an unreasonable burden for many Californians. The problem lies in the language. Rather than specifying plastic bags, about which there is little disagreement on the negative impact, this bill would “prohibit convenience food stores, foodmarts, and certain specified stores from providing a single-use carryout bag to a customer.” Single-use carryout bags, under this bill, would also include paper bags, which clearly do not have the same negative environmental impact as do plastic bags and which are arguably not even single use. Under this bill, plastic bags would be banned, which would be a good thing, but consumers would be required to pay a minimum of 5 cents per paper bag, which is a bad thing. This amounts to a tax or fee on our most vulnerable, those who have a difficult time just trying to buy food, nonetheless the bags to put the food in. Continue reading →
There is a lot of talk lately about the safety on MUNI, which is certainly an important issue; however, before one can be safe on MUNI, one has to be able to get on MUNI. With cuts in schedules and lines, unreliable service, and overzealous or downright rude drivers, too many people are left stranded or substantially late. In a city that prides itself on being green and progressive, these obstacles make San Francisco a laughing stock to other cities with state-of-the-art public transit systems. But even worse, the obstacles make San Francisco an unlivable city. To add insult to injury, the more the fares are increased, the less reliable and efficient the service becomes. Continue reading →
With California’s jails and prisons overflowing with nonviolent first-time offenders, drug offenders, and mentally ill offenders, we are indeed at a crisis. While the prisons are helping to bankrupt our state, legislators and advocates are working tirelessly to find solutions. People are against releasing prisoners for a variety of reasons, including public safety and wanting prisoners to be held accountable for their actions.
But what if there was a solution that allowed offenders to be held accountable, addressed public safety, and kept nonviolent offenders out of prison? And what if this solution actually saved the state—you and me and every taxpayer you know—money? Continue reading →