Thursday, October 6, 2011

Demands for Los Angeles // Occupy LA

"In the end, what we want to do is inspire working-class people to get involved in the political process." This was in an LA Times article when the occupation first began.

A more recent article cites that there are "plenty of complaints and few specific demands other than holding banks and major corporations responsible for the country's economic crisis." Reading this brought a couple of potential demands for the City of Los Angeles come to mind:
  • A hold on construction plans for the new football stadium in Downtown. In The Nation's special sports issue this summer, Neil DeMause asks Why Do Mayors Love Sports Stadiums?  
Studies demonstrating pro sports stadiums’ slight economic impact go back to 1984, the year Lake Forest College economist Robert Baade examined thirty cities that had recently constructed new facilities. His finding: in twenty-seven of them, there had been no measurable economic impact; in the other three, economic activity appeared to have decreased.
Governor Jerry Brown just signed two bills that will expedite the development process, saving the developers money but giving the public less opportunity for discussion and dissent. “We’re going to protect the environment,” Brown said. “But there are too many damn regulations. I’ve got some power now. Let’s cut the barriers and regulations and move ahead.” Building a stadium will get some construction jobs, then some more contracts for service employees, but will that really contribute to a better Los Angeles in the long run? I don't think so.
  • Raise taxes on major corporations and that top 1% and invest funds in public education, mass transit, neighborhood beautification, increase hours of service for public libraries
The time seems ripe to stop being scared of companies leaving our cities, our states, our countries, and time to start thinking about the impact of these companies' whose bottom line has nothing to do with what the surrounding community needs and wants. I'm more concerned with mom-and-pop shops closing their doors than whether or not Wal-Mart decides to build a superstore in my neighborhood. Isn't it time to stop being dependent on big business for employment and instead create an environment for more creative development?
A study by researchers at Loyola University found that, two years after a Wal-Mart store opened on Chicago's West Side, more than 80 local businesses within a four-mile radius (nearly one-quarter of the total) had closed and about 300 people had lost their jobs 
That Wal-Mart stores cause job losses was also the conclusion of a study by the University of California, which tracked Wal-Mart's expansion across 3,000 counties. The study found that the opening of a Wal-Mart store resulted in a net loss of 150 jobs on average. For every 5 people hired at a new Wal-Mart store, the results showed, 7 people lost their jobs at existing businesses. - Marjorie Pritchard at The Boston Globe 
I haven't been out to the encampment in Downtown LA. I'm not about to tell the people there what they "should" be doing. Whatever reservations I may have about the way things are playing out, I'm glad to see something happening. I'm glad to see people out doing something. I'm glad to see people out there feeling something. With a 12.5% unemployment rate, it's only right.

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