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Inside the market for black market bus transfers

A mechanic who was busted for selling whole packs of the transfers made tens of thousands of dollars a year. That's a whole lot of transfers. Black Market Selling Illegal Muni Transfer Tickets -- CBS San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) — Street sellers run a brisk business at commuter hubs all over San Francisco, a black market that sells Muni tickets for half the regular $2 fare. The busiest hotspot: 16th and Mission streets, where from morning to night, 7 days a week, you can buy as many as you want. This is how it’s supposed to work: Passengers get on a bus, pay $2 and the bus driver will tear off a dated transfer ticket. The transfers are only good for an hour and a half. But the illegal ones sold on the street are whole, so passengers can ride the bus all day long for a dollar. The sellers are more than happy to show how to trick the bus driver into not noticing, showing our hidden cameras how to fold the tickets as if they were torn off a book. . . . In the past, it’s been an inside job: A police sting last summer led to the arrest of a Muni mechanic Edmund King. He claims he got the tickets from the garbage, but Muni said he obtained them by virtue of his employment, and made tens of thousands of dollars selling them.

Today Chrysler paid back their $7.6 billion loan six years ahead of schedule; three years ago Republicans called for us to let the auto industry die

The auto bailout worked. Bin Laden is dead. And all of the House Republicans voted to kill Medicare. 2012 is looking pretty good for the Democrats, eh? As Chrysler Pays Up, Democrats Call On Republicans To Say Sorry | TPMDC
Could Republicans be in for a hard time next year now that the auto industry is struggling back to its feet? Democrats say yes. On a Tuesday morning conference call with reporters, former Democratic Govs. Jennifer Granholm (MI) and Ted Strickland (OH) said voters in their states are enjoying thousands of new jobs thanks to the auto industry bailout Republicans (these days, anyway) love to hate. And with Chrysler completing its repayment of $7.6 billion in federal loans six years early, Democrats say the Republicans running for president -- all of whom slammed the bailout program, they say -- have found themselves on the wrong side on what has turned out to be a successful jobs program. "Midwestern families would have been left out in the cold: no job, no income, no industry" if Republican bailout foes had their way, Granholm said. "And these voters are not going to forget it." The Democrats on the call had a field day reminiscing about Mitt Romney's 2008 New York Times op-ed, "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," in which the frontrunner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination said American automakers would be on a "suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses" if a bailout plan went ahead. . . .

Krugman warns we are on the verge of a Third Depression

We need jobs programs. We need massive public spending. We need to stop worrying about a deficit that we pay such low interest on. We need to stop worrying that invisible fairies will bring inflation. We need to be grown ups. Third Depression Watch - NYTimes.com
Last year I warned that we seemed to be heading into the “Third Depression” — by which I meant a prolonged period of economic weakness: Neither the Long Depression of the 19th century nor the Great Depression of the 20th was an era of nonstop decline — on the contrary, both included periods when the economy grew. But these episodes of improvement were never enough to undo the damage from the initial slump, and were followed by relapses. We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense.

May 24, 2011

Is it immoral to pay the developmentally disabled pennies an hour to work?

Dispatch Series: Far below minimum wage | The Columbus Dispatch
Thousands of adults with Down syndrome, autism and other developmental disabilities work in Ohio at jobs that pay less money than a teen-age baby sitter earns. Some clean hotel rooms for 40 cents an hour. Others sew table linens for 79 cents an hour. Some assemble automotive parts for $2.15 an hour or answer telephones for $3.75 an hour. The majority don't earn half of the state minimum wage of $7.40. A little-known provision in the 73-year-old federal wage law allows employers to pay less than minimum wage if adults have disabilities that limit their productivity. The Fair Labor Standards Act once dictated how little was too little to pay a worker. But today, there is no floor, clearing the way for some to earn as little as a penny an hour. The wage issue has divided the very community that seeks the highest quality of life for people with disabilities. The difference of opinion is stark: "It's immoral," said Curtis L. Decker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network.