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GM Quietly Working On Launching its Robo Taxi Service in San Francisco

July 4, 2018

via GM Quietly Working On Launching its Robo Taxi Service in San Francisco


Tax giveaways to tech firms ​​in the US are ​calculated​ to lure them to cities – but are cities really getting a good deal?

July 3, 2018

By Greg LeRoy and Maryann Feldman : theguardian – excerpt

Every mayor and governor wants to attract hi-tech jobs. And why not? Depending on the nature of the facility, such jobs can be well-paid and strengthen a region’s economy.

But too few elected officials have taken the time to learn how hi-tech companies start up, how they thrive, and how government can best assist them – without overspending on a few big deals.

Getting policy right is critical for high-tech success. It’s more complicated and volatile than the “old economy”: hi-tech firms are more susceptible to disruption. Product life cycles are typically much shorter. Skill sets are more specialised. Some facilities create very few permanent jobs, and some generate a lot of toxins….

Two proven alternatives

Here are two proven alternative strategies. The first could be called “back to basics”. A regional government inventories existing small- and medium-sized firms, the backbone of many local communities. Typically family-owned and located in micropolitan and rural areas, these firms are often neglected by policymakers and shortchanged by incentive programmes…

The most important element for public officials and local champions is to have a long-term vision rooted in an informed analysis of local strengths and weaknesses and market potential. Informed by that analysis, incentives to individual firms may make sense, along with the investments in public goods intended to benefit many employers…(more)

‘All humanity has left the area’: paying for Tesla’s Gigafactory

July 3, 2018

By Rory Carroll : theguardian – excerpt

Tesla’s battery factory brought high-paid tech jobs to Nevada – but is soaking up huge tax breaks that critics say have seriously depleted public services

When Nevada enticed Tesla to set up a gargantuan battery factory in the desert, America’s gambling capital seemed to have hit the jackpot…

Cities around the so-called Gigafactory in northern Nevada lined up to reap the bonanza. No longer dusty, provincial versions of Las Vegas, these municipalities would become innovative makers of lithium-ion batteries for electric cars and partners in Elon Musk’s vision of a clean-energy revolution.

That was the pitch.

These days many residents in Sparks – a sunbaked, low-rise city of 100,000 people located 20 miles from the factory – express humbler dreams: food, shelter, health care.


One complaint is that tax credits given to Tesla – and to a lesser extent other tech companies – deplete public services, resulting in potholed roads, overcrowded schools and insufficient affordable housing.

The other is that the tech worker influx has sent rents rocketing, tipping residents on fixed incomes, especially seniors, into penury… (more)

How many of these stories do we need to hear before cities figure out they do not need to encourage these monster corporations to move into their towns by offering up tax and other benefits. These deals never work out. The cities and citizens always lose.

Please let us know of any success stories so we can recant this if any exist.

Los Angeles will be voting on creating Public Bank this November

July 3, 2018

Public Banking Institute News: June 30, 2018

Los Angeles will be voting on a Public Bank this November! Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday, June 25 voted unanimously to start the process to put a measure to create a Public Bank for the city of LA on the ballot in November. The motion went to the Rules committee and back to the full City Council June 29, where the motion passed!

City Council President Herb Wesson brought forward the motion this week, and it was supported by a roomful of Public Bank advocates, including PBI Chair Ellen Brown and Public Bank LA / Divest LA leaders Phoenix Goodman and Trinity Tran, whose group has been instrumental in pushing City Council forward.

Public Banking advocate and grassroots organizer Carlos Marroquin from the Bernie Sanders Brigade and Public Bank LA said, “It’s important for us to start looking for other options to get away from our community’s addiction to and dependency on Wall Street’s money, which has brought nothing but despair and fraud.”

Next City reports on the next steps for Public Banking advocates to build mass support among voters:

“For now, Public Bank LA will be focusing on educating voters on the issue and ‘galvanizing support from stakeholders in the community, including grassroots groups, students, community leaders, and labor,’ Tran says. ‘We need to mobilize for a critical mass of support, to ensure a majority win in November.’”

[read more and see more photos]


Profiles in corruption: How telecoms control the state Legislature

July 3, 2018

The ambush of Scott Wiener’s net neutrality bill was just the latest example of how one industry holds almost unlimited power in Sacramento…


The last couple of weeks have not been good ones for those who see communications as a social justice issue… (more)

‘It’s a huge subsidy’: the $4.8bn gamble to lure Foxconn to America

July 2, 2018

By Dominic Rushe : theguardian – excerpt

It is the largest giveaway to a foreign firm in US history. Trump claims a win – but will struggling Wisconsin benefit?

Wisconsinites joke that there are two seasons in Wisconsin: winter and construction. As traffic crawls down the Interstate 94, sandwiched between endless columns of orange cones, construction is in full bloom.

Mount Pleasant, a sleepy village of about 26,000 people in Racine County, halfway between Milwaukee and Chicago, is developing into one enormous construction site as it prepares to become home to a $10bn (£7.6bn) state-of-the-art flat-panel display factory for Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics company best known for making Apple iPhones in China

But what probably sold Foxconn on Mount Pleasant were the massive tax breaks Wisconsin offered to seal the deal – breaks that could end up costing the state $4.8bn if the project hits all of its targets. It’s the latest giveaway in a series of corporate welfare cheques cut for highly profitable tech companies and the largest to a foreign firm ever in the US… (more)

‘FART’ bill indicates Trump’s intention to dump WTO: report

July 2, 2018

By Rachel Koning Beals : marketwatch – excerpt

Proposed bill’s nickname takes off on Twitter, adds to debate around its merit

The Trump administration has crafted a draft bill — ordered by the president — that would declare America’s abandonment of World Trade Organization rules, according to Axios, which said over the weekend that it obtained a leaked copy of the proposal.

The bill essentially provides President Donald Trump — who has argued for a better position for the U.S. in big trade pacts — a license to raise U.S. tariffs at will, without congressional consent and largely outside of the international rules governed by the WTO.

The bill, titled the “United States Fair and Reciprocal Tariff Act,” would give Trump unilateral power to ignore the two most basic principles of the WTO and negotiate one-on-one with any country. The first is the “most favored nation” (MFN) principle that stipulates countries can’t set different tariff rates for different countries outside of free trade agreements. The second pertains to “bound tariff rates,” which are the tariff ceilings that each WTO country has already agreed to in previous negotiations, according to the Axios report (more)

How does this not feel like we are rushing madly back into an uncomfortable, dangerous past? Where is the ray of light and hope at the end of this tunnel?

How does this act make the lives of ordinary citizens dealing with rising housing and health costs and stagnating wages, better?


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