Why You Should Be Particularly Nervous about Wireless Mergers.

Why You Should Be Particularly Nervous about Wireless Mergers.

In my line of work, whenever one wireless carrier announces that they’re buying another wireless carrier, you get a little nervous. As a general (and very reliable) rule, the more companies competing for your business, the lower those companies’ prices will be, because the companies are always trying to undercut each other’s prices to gain more customers. The market for wireless phone services is very concentrated, i.e. there aren’t very many companies offering service.  If you’re extremely lucky, you might have five companies offering service in your area, but for large portions of the country, there’s one or two. In a market that concentrated, whenever a carrier disappears, you can…
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Poverty in California is Worse than You Think

Poverty in California is Worse than You Think

Astronomical housing prices and the sluggish job market are familiar realities for most Californians. But what may come as a surprise is that the overall high cost of living is driving many families into poverty. A shocking 22 percent of Californians are living in poverty, according to a new poverty index released yesterday by Stanford’s Center on Poverty and Inequality and the Public Policy Institute of California. And this burden falls on different families in different places very unevenly. Unlike the standard Federal Poverty Level, this new index considers the local cost of living in when it measures poverty. That makes a huge difference, and provides a much-needed reality check…
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Be a Part of this Historic Moment: Enroll in Health Insurance Today!

Be a Part of this Historic Moment: Enroll in Health Insurance Today!

  Health care as we know it is changing, and that’s a big deal! Last week our new health policy fellow blogged about this historic moment, provided information on who will most likely benefit from the expansions occurring due to the Affordable Care Act, and highlighted some outreach efforts that are happening now. Starting TODAY Californians can now shop and compare health plans and enroll into an affordable, quality plan through Covered California, for coverage to begin on January 1, 2014. If you have questions or need some extra help with your application, call Covered California at 1-800-300-1506 and a person will be able to help you in your preferred…
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‘Obamacare’ Comin’ Round the Mountain. Are you ready?

‘Obamacare’ Comin’ Round the Mountain. Are you ready?

Whether Republicans in Washington like it or not, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as ‘Obamacare’, is likely here to stay – despite the present battle over an attempt to defund the measure. But I’m not here to talk to you about the possibility of a government shutdown and its effect on our communities; Mark Garcia already did that. Instead, I want to talk to you about what the Affordable Care Act means for low-income communities of color. Currently, there are 47 million uninsured Americans living in the United States. More than seven million of them live right here in California. Rising healthcare costs and stagnant wages are…
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Questions for Congress

Questions for Congress

As my colleague Mark Garcia pointed out the other day, Congress is in the midst of a theatrical showdown which could well result in a government shutdown and might leave the federal government unable to pay its bills in mid-October, with all sorts of terrible consequences. And it’s all for nothing. We know how this story must end. Eventually, Congress will pass the legislation needed to keep the federal government running and paying its debts, and the Affordable Care Act will not be repealed or defunded. But a lot of time will be wasted on empty theatrics, with possible serious damage to the economy while real problems go unaddressed. So,…
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This Week in “What the…?” – Bailout Edition

This Week in “What the…?” – Bailout Edition

Remember AIG? AIG is the firm that insured piles of risky securities backed by trick mortgages during the housing bubble, and had to be bailed out by the Feds with boatloads of our tax dollars. In the midst of being bailed out, the company paid $165 million in “retention” bonuses to some of the very executives who engineered the catastrophe in the first place. But criticizing the company for this, apparently, is just like being part of a racist lynch mob. At least, that’s the opinion of AIG CEO Robert Benmosche, who told an interviewer that criticism of AIG’s bonuses “was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out…
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The Possible Government Shutdown and Why It Matters

The Possible Government Shutdown and Why It Matters

There is a looming government shutdown over an attempt to kill the Affordable Care Act, and some in Congress are making threats about what needs to be done to prevent it.  The strange part is that these members of Congress are the ones who have created the possibility of a shutdown, and they are the only ones who can prevent it. Let me explain.  Congress creates federal laws and the budget.  The president can recommend a law or budget and suggest additions or changes, but ultimately the budget and the ACA (sometimes called “Obamacare”) were voted on and passed by Congress.  If Congress creates a budget problem, Congress has to…
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