San Francisco's loss - Page 3

Heading East: San Francisco is losing much of its diversity, cultural edge, and working class to the East Bay -- can anything be done?

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"I must say that Oakland is more fun," says City Council member Rebecca Kaplan of her city.

African Americans make up 28 percent of Oakland's population, compared to only 6.1 percent in San Francisco, and 6.2 percent of the population of California. In San Francisco, the number of black-owned businesses is dismal at 2.7 percent, compared to 4 percent statewide and 13.7 percent in Oakland. The census also finds that 25.4 percent Oaklanders are people of Latino origin, compared to San Francisco at 15.1 percent and 37.6 percent statewide. San Francisco is 33.3 percent Asian, compared to Oakland at 16.8 percent and all of California at 13 percent.

Both cities are less white than California as a whole; the state's white population is 57.6 percent, compared to 34 percent in Oakland and 48.5 percent in San Francisco.

Gentrification shows its face differently depending on the neighborhood. Some say Rockridge, a trendy Oakland neighborhood where prices have recently increased, has gone too far down the path.

"Rockridge has been 'in' for a long time, but the prices are staggering and it isn't as interesting any more," Barbara Hendrickson, an East Bay real estate agent, told us.

The nationwide foreclosure crisis didn't spare Oakland and may have sped up its gentrification process. "The neighborhoods are being gentrified by people who buy foreclosures and turn them into sweet remolded homes," observed Hendrickson.

Yet Kaplan said many of these houses simply remain vacant, driving down values for surrounding properties and destabilizing the community. "I think we need a policy where the county doesn't process a foreclosure until the bank has proven that they own the note," said Kaplan, who mentioned that the city has had some success using blight ordinances to hold banks accountable for the empty buildings.

And as if San Francisco didn't have enough challenges, Kaplan also noted another undeniable advantage: the weather. "The weather is really quite something," she said. "I have days with a meeting in San Francisco and I always have to remember to bring completely different clothing. Part of why I wanted to live in California was to be able to spend more time outdoors, be healthy, bicycle, things like that. So that's pretty easy to do over here in Oakland."

Comments

Hurray for Oakland! Isn't our goal to create a thriving Bay Area?

Since we cannot agree on how to best increase the supply of housing in SF, perhaps an attractive alternative will decrease the demand.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 10, 2012 @ 7:42 pm

"Affordable housing" often costs the city a million dollars+ per household. If that money were spent on maintaining police services, transportation options, and fixing up the run-down parts of Oakland, how much further would it go, and how many households would benefit, compared to one lucky lottery-selected household in SF.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

someone other than the person actually living in the house is subsidizing the cost.

Who wouldn't want that?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

Affordable housing done correctly doesn't cost the City any thing at all. A building like the Paramount probably captured some tax benefits when they built a 400 unit luxury building with 50 affordable units. But with a change in city policy mandating all developments use a similar formula would ensure the city didn't lose any of that money it needs to support the lower income people in the new developments.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 5:29 pm

somebody gets a home for less than what it is worth. So how can that happen unless you can find someone else to pay extra for housing that they are not using?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

Poor get something for nothing?

Seems a bit trite and reflexive of you to say so. In fact, the "affordable housing" units ALWAYS quite a bit crappier than the premium units. They are cheaper, smaller, closer to traffic noise and in the shadows of the building development. Always. You didn't know that?

I guess you think any plan to keep working class folk from getting the boot smacks of wealth redistribution and Trotsky.

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Posted by breast lift on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 3:18 am

"You can add more people without getting rid of anybody if you do it right. Most of development is looking at places that are now completely empty "

Duh ! Of course when you have empty land in a less desirable place you can add more people without getting rid of anybody. I bet Las Vegas and Detroit also think you could add a lot more people without getting rid of anyone

Posted by Guest on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 5:56 am

Umm last time I checked Las Vegas or Detroit were not in the Bay Area, CA. In Detroit and Vegas people are moving out of these cities in large rates. They're clearing entire neighborhoods in Detroit and and entire neighborhoods in Vegas are ghost towns. You propblay live in S.F. which is cool, but come to Oak for a change and have a good time ;-)

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 8:04 am

San Francisco is losing its creative class in large part because of its attitude towards development. That this editorial titles one of its sections with the heading "too many condos" is pretty indicative of the disconnect that contributes to the housing crisis here.

Has the SFBG ever advocated for large scale building of housing of any kind?
How can SF continue to allow for NIMBY's to block every housing proposal AND continue to maintain its diversity? People of means will continue to come to SF, the less we build the more scarce and expensive housing becomes.

The SFBG continues to ignore this aspect.

Posted by Mirrorman on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 8:28 am

And apparently you ignored the article you're commenting on, Mirrorman. As we wrote, San Francisco has built more than twice as much market rate housing as the city needed in recent years, but only a fraction of the affordable housing it needs. That's the issue, and it's why we are losing our working and creative classes in favor of the boring rich. We at the Guardian strongly favor good affordable housing projects, particularly rental housing for median income residents, just not more monstrosities for the 1 percent like the 8 Washington project, which will only make this city less diverse.

Posted by steven on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 11:04 am

What exactly is so boring about the rich? That they have different interests than you?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 11:18 am

or that their arrogant? like above comment

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 2:24 pm

Steven,

I don't think it's correct to say that SF has built more than twice as much market rate housing as the city needed in recent years. I think what you meant to say was that SF has built more than twice as much market rate housing as local governments and pundits believe should be built.

Posted by Guest666 on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

The Housing Element is based on studies looking at the housing needs of current and future city residents. The market-rate housing that we built was largely for yuppies and empty nesters from other areas. Now, I don't begrudge developers from wanting to build so much of that particular kind of housing, because it's the most profitable for them, but the reason we have local government and its ability to reject housing projects is so capitalism alone doesn't dictate what kind of city this becomes. It's bad for San Francisco and the entire Bay Area if our workers are forced to commute into the city everyday while we build housing for Silicon Valley workers, which is the very reason why the state requires each county to do a Housing Element in the first place.

Posted by steven on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

lives where?

Unlike most major US cities, the best parts of SF are central and the worst parts are further out. So be it. Why is it a productive use of (what would take) massive amounts of tax dollars to try and reverse a natural trend?

Wouldn't that be, er, quixotic?

Posted by Anonymous on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

Yeees. I agree with you in a sense, but what's the answer?

If you severely limit the number of apartments built, if you use the government's power to ensure that each one has parking and a nice view, and that there are pleasant parks nearby which are protected from the shadows of any large new buildings, and that the nice views of existing apartments aren't disturbed-- well of course that's very attractive for everybody, especially the wealthy, and people who are commuting from Silicon Valley will snap them up.

If, on the other hand, you declared open season and allowed SOMA to fill up with 800 foot tall apartment towers, damn the shadows and damn the views, with limited parking opportunities, not only would it allow for a lot more apartments, but the resulting apartments wouldn't be terribly attractive to the wealthy, even if they were perfectly serviceable and fine.

20% of San Francisco's housing policy may be to make affordable housing, but 80% is to "protect" existing housing by forbidding anything that might possibly impact its value-- such as an influx of new housing, or a reduction in the number of free parking spaces on the street, or a simple shadow. Result: very valuable housing, no question. Housing advocates then argue that the solution is to take some of this very valuable housing and use a lottery to give it to someone who wouldn't otherwise afford it. To be shocked that this doesn't actually result in affordable housing for all, to think that the solution is to increase the percentage of housing assigned by lottery from 15 to 25 or 50 percent is to miss the point entirely.

I'm not saying lift all restrictions. But it's frustrating when the closest things we have to a blank slate-- the Hunter's Point and Treasure Island developments, for example-- are planned from the start to severely limit potential heights and densities. Yes, traffic's an issue, but we do have the technology to make it not an issue. Charge the developers enough to cover the cost of a new rail line or two, and then tell them to go nuts.

Posted by Alai on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

the city and we could house 100,000 more people at the cheapest possible rate.

But of course the housing activists don't want that because they all own their own homes and have a vested interest in reduced supply.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

And because adding 100,000 people without requiring developers to pay the full costs of infrastructure improvements would overwhelm this city's already overtaxed resources (water, sewer, police, roads, transit, public health, etc.). Cities have holding capacities, and those who profit from growth should help pay for it more than they do now. Americans need to rethink our simplistic "growth is good" models because the situation is far more complicated than that, whether it's "drill baby drill" or "build baby build" or even our belief that we can run the capitalist system and its need for annual growth at full speed indefinitely. Whatever happened to sustainability?

Posted by steven on Apr. 13, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

AKA we cant do anything because it might make things worse for the people who already have their housing.

Notice how many times Steven has directly responded to counterpoints in this article. This is personal for him.

A developer could sweep in and build an entire subway line for free, but he would still find some reason to oppose the units.

Isnt it unfortunate that someone wasnt around to DR the property he calls home when it was being proposed.

Posted by greg on Apr. 15, 2012 @ 8:49 am

Nice snark. Great way to keep the readers engaged and coming back for more!

Posted by Guest on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

All you're here for is to troll and there are already way too many of those here.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

The city may allow market rate housing to be built at greater quantity than the plan, but this does not accommodate the actual need. So many people, rich, poor, young, old, artist and google-aires all want to live here in increasing numbers, far outstretching our modest new developments. If every project wasn't held up for years (Market-Octavia), there would be more supply to meet the demand, which would lower the cost. Plenty of other cities can build housing for the wealthy and $200K starter condos for the rest of us. 100,000 units in 10 years would have an amazing effect on price stabilization in San Francisco.

Posted by Tweety on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

Good point- it is also ironic that SFBG uses an image of the SF skyline in their headers.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 1:19 pm

Excellent point. Rent controls are no match for development.

Posted by Justin Zollars on Jun. 06, 2012 @ 11:56 pm

Oakland's great, and a viable alternative for those who can't afford SF. So why all the angst over having to move there? Sounds like the SFBG crowd would be happier in Oakland than they are in San Francisco.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 10:36 am

Mirrorman and Guest666 make a good points Stephen. "Need" is not defined very well.

San Francisco has such a high demand for housing period that only gargantuan amounts of construction will ever make it more affordable, if not flatten out. The problem stems as always with supply and demand. For an outside example of a place with low housing prices, check out the difference between Houston and the San Jose area. In 2011, Houston a medium size city district had over 4,000 units under construction. In Silicon Valley, they only allowed just over 3,000 permits for the WHOLE Valley area. This shows that the "Need" is not matching reality of demand.

http://www.austincontrarian.com/austincontrarian/2012/03/this-is-how-hou...

In Seattle, what the industry calls "Glut" or "Oversupply" is everyone else's path towards affordability. In order to get to the point where prices level off for a bit, you need to keep up with demand whether that's value put on older homes in SF or population growth.

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-04-05/seattle-signals-glut-risk-as...

But to whit, even if each of those new market rate projects in SF had constructed affordable units, it still wouldn't get us to the point where prices are coming down. People need to understand how this works. Until we are constructing more units period than there is demand for, then we'll always be stuck in this affordability spiral. No special affordable housing fund will get us out until that fund builds thousands and thousands of new units.

And to be able to build thousands and thousands of new units in San Francisco, NIMBYs and others can't keep killing projects. The housing industry must not be afraid of glut. They are trying to make money and property owners have a stake in keeping values high. This is the mismatch discussion that the Guardian misses.

Posted by The Overhead Wire on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 1:06 pm

No, San Francisco has a nearly insatiable demand for housing, combined with being a landlocked peninsula, that defies basic supply and demand laws. Prices will never drop here based merely on economics, the only way to build affordable housing is by mandating it, subsidizing construction, and means-testing buyers (and by rent control and condo conversion limits for rental properties). The rest of it is market-rate housing, which we've been building at more than double our projected rates, yet the prices keep going up and up. Those who argue that we can build our way into greater affordability just don't understand this particular housing market, or they're making self-serving arguments.

Posted by steven on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

What about Hawaii, La Jolla, Andorra, Monaco, Aruba and the Bahamas? Does it matter that they are expensive?

Why does everywhere have to be equally affordable to everyone?

Posted by Anonymous on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 4:00 pm

Right, gravity doesn't work here either and people that live here don't need to breathe air.

Such BS, it's just a total excuse to do nothing.
The basic idea is SF can never build enough housing to satisfy demand, because everyone in the world wants to live here (hows that for provincial thinking) so lets build very little housing, and let's make sure to make it as expensive as possible by blocking construction at every level.
We can also comment that any increase in construction is undesirable
For those who have the benefit of being here already.

Posted by Greg on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

So building 11,293 market rate units in seven years is doing nothing? How many more condos for boring yuppies do you want for this little experiment in economics? And will we make this city even more sterile and uninteresting in the process? I hate to break it to you, but the "laws" of economics are nothing like human respiration or the laws of gravity, they are imperfect theories affected by a multitude of variables. But the bottom line is San Francisco can't build its way into affordability with market rate housing, but we can certainly build our way out of being a world-class city known for its art, innovation, diversity, and progressive values.

Posted by steven on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 10:12 am

You're really doing a number on this "boring yuppie" strawman, but your gross generalization is really no better than "lazy mexican," "dirty stoned beatniks," or "welfare blacks." Forget that the wealthy have provided the city stuff like Hardly Strictly, the MOMA, etc. Or that innovation comes through the work of professionals or that progressive values only go into action when the money of the wealthy gets behind them.

It's clear that you want a city that hews only to your vision of punk rock bicyclist utopia, in which case the majority of the city would be happy to let the forces of the market push you and your target audience to the dreaded eastern shores of the bay.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 10:45 am

"How many more condos for boring yuppies do you want for this little experiment in economics?"

Is it any better if the people paying expensive rents are trust-fund hipsters going to art school, sneering at us "yuppies" every morning when we have to go to work to pay our bills and feed our kids? Are kids wearing $500 jeans riding on $1000 fixies intrinsically better than people wearing $200 polyester suits with $72 MUNI fast passes in their pockets?

I don't agree with this "SF is so different from anywhere, therefore only socialist policies can solve the housing crisis". No, and ignoring basic microeconomics doesn't mean it doesn't apply to SF, either.

For years the "progressives" have warned of the "Manhattanization" of San Francisco. Well, the "progressives" had great influence in SF politics for a decade and what has happened...Exactly what they warned. Just as in Manhattan, the residents of SF now has to contend with some of the highest rents in the country, tiny living spaces, and flight of artists to neighboring areas. I don't think past policies have slowed down this trend one bit. Trying to solve this with more subsidized housing is like throwing pails of water at the Sahara Desert to make it a beach. Just won't happen.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 12:59 pm

Do you have any perception of how that comes across?

Or don't you care?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 3:26 pm

The fact that you view 1700 units per year of housing for a city of 860k as a tremendous amount really underlines my argument.
How the EFF is building less housing going to magically make this city full of all the people you hold so dear?

Posted by Mirrorman on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 4:34 pm

And what are those projected rates? ABAG's rates? Those don't mean anything if you have such a low vacancy rate and demand is high. And no demand is insatiable. There are ceilings for any type of good, even housing. Perhaps we've coined a new term. San Francisco housing exceptionalism.

The article I posted on Seattle applies as well. That Isthmus has nowhere else to go either and yet prices are leveling off because they built too many units.

I'm all for affordable housing. But don't say that limiting supply of market rate and building more affordable units is the only way to help. That just helps people that are fortunate enough to get on the housing lucky list. And when it takes 7 years to build an affordable housing complex, that's a problem in itself.

Here is some reading for anyone who is interested in learning more about these housing issues.

The Gated City - Economist writer Ryan Avent
http://www.amazon.com/Gated-City-Kindle-Single-ebook/dp/B005KGATLO

The Rent is Too Damn High - Liberal Pundit Matt Yglesias
http://www.amazon.com/The-Rent-Damn-High-ebook/dp/B0078XGJXO

Zoned Out - Michigan Professor Jonathan Levine
http://www.amazon.com/Zoned-Out-Regulation-Transportation-Metropolitan/d...

Triumph of the City - Harvard Economist Ed Glaeser
http://www.amazon.com/Triumph-City-Invention-Healthier-ebook/dp/B0049U4H...

Posted by The Overhead Wire on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 12:18 am

All of your ideas- subsidize housing, etc. costs money. The city is already ina budget crisis- where would it come from?

Posted by DNative on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 7:09 pm

You're totally wrong about this. San Francisco may be a landlocked peninsula, but that's not why we're unable to build new units here. There is plenty of room in many places to build new units. It's not geography which prevents building units, but politics.

San Francisco is not unusual in this regard. San Francisco is not defying supply and demand. It has artificial restrictions on supply, and prices have predictably increased as a result. This happens EVERYWHERE there are artificial restrictions on supply. It has nothing to do with geography.

Although we've been building market-rate housing at double the "projected" rates, the "projected" rates were still far too low. It's still only 11,000 units over 8 years, in a city of 800,000 people. This is less than 0.5% per year. This is far lower than the rate of population increase in the area, even if nobody especially wanted to move to San Francisco.

Rent control cannot help this problem. Developers will not build new rental units if they are certain to lose money on them or if they are politically prevented. Rent control will reduce rents for some current residents but will not increase supply.

You and people like you are causing the rapid increases in prices for housing in San Francisco. You are also forcing gentrification and suburbanization of the Bay Area. I realize you don't intend to do this; you may very well intend the opposite; but this is what you accomplish.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 05, 2012 @ 11:54 am

... *AND* you make it plain your ignorance regarding rent control: it does not affect the rents of properties built subsequent to the law's inception in 1978. Dumbass.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jun. 05, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

new build of rental units.

Although post-1979 (not 1978 - RC passed in June 1979) construction is theoretically exempt from RC, there is nothing to stop the city or the voters coming along at any point and changing that, and bring ing all those newer buldings under RC.

So if you are building an apartment building now, you will ALWAYS want to construct it as condo's, as State law prevents control of rents on them.

Nobody in their right mind builds a rental building that isn't set up as condo's because, quite simply, the city cannot be trusted not to change the rules.

Were you aware that originally, owner-occupied 2-4 unit buildings were also exempt from RC. Not any more. So who can trust the city?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 05, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

I was inspired last month by a concept 160-sf studio concept demonstrating that small living can be attractive while taking less space. Seeing as 40% of San Franciscans live alone, perhaps the "market-rate" developers have only been building high profit condos (~1000sf lofts) targeted to people in the upper-middle class and above and failing to address a huge demand in the middle. It'd be quite possible to get a bunch of these units in a high-rise or medium rise for an affordable price to the masses and a decent return to the developer. Why does every issue have to be a zero sum game in SF?

(http://www.theatlanticcities.com/housing/2012/03/small-space-day-160-squ...)

Posted by Guest on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 3:14 pm

Having lived in San Francisco for ten years before making the decision to move my family into a house in Oakland, I would love to live in the city again-but my old 1 bedroom apartment that cost $1,400 in 2001 in Dolores Park is now a cool $2500 in 2011!!!! That's a lot of diaper money.

I advocate that we need, in SF, family housing along with the senior and disabled stock we are building-for low and middle income families. But it's also about culture and open space that is welcoming.

One thing that worries me about Oakland is our stock of elected officials who've I already had the displeasure of realizing are a far cry from someone like John Avalos. God I miss people that have political will; intelligence; and vision. Kaplan was weak on fighting foreclosures and in many other circumstances I would describe her as ineffective; Quan was a disaster in response to Occupy and seems to have retreated into some inner circle of advisors that are out of touch with everyday Oakland; and Nadel is leaving...these are the "progressives." I would love to see a new stock of people come into politics that inspire the town.

Exodus...movement of Jah people...

Posted by Guest on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

I don't blame her given the crime. At her age, she surely doesn't need that.

But that leaves a hot mess.

Posted by Anonymous on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

The last thing Oakland needs is SF style politicians, what with their "let's regulate everything that does not matter and ignore real issues" approach.

I love Oakland and the EB. Our food is better, restaurants less douchy and way more affordable, our busses for the most part RUN ON TIME, and you can actually pay your rent and eat solid food at the same time. Majority of us have to cross the bridge to get to work, but to live and socialize there is no where else i'd rather be.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 3:08 pm

meanwhile you keep firing your cops because you'd rather spend your money on "social programs".

No thanks.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 12, 2012 @ 3:28 pm

First off, it is all about cost - money if you wish. San Francisco has become the Manhattan of the Bay Area. Taxes are too high, so are rents, prices, mortgages and the city and county bureaucracy is so well cosseted by politicians that they are the only ones doing well besides the ultra-rich class. On the other hand, Oakland has been in decline since before the earthquake, plenty of land is available - so is parking and who wants to ride a lousy bus or train after waiting for 50mns in the rain or the wind or the fog? - BTW, the weather is better in the East Bay and gasoline is cheaper (not by much but Oakland is closer to the Richmond and Martinez refineries) -, there is no rip off "health insurance" tax on restaurant tabs - BTW, what happens to that money - Is it going to the staff? Did not think so - Etc.

Posted by jjlasne on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

From 2007-2011, 7826 market rate units were built, versus 4500 affordable units. Each of those affordable units has to be subsidized by either builders or taxpayers. There wasn't money to build more affordable units. The fact that almost 40% of the housing built was subsidized seems pretty good, considering the tough budgets the city has had during those years.

Posted by Dan on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 7:13 pm

Born in SF, raised in SF, died-in-the-wool SF native here... However. I spent too many years struggling to pay rent in tiny over-priced apartments that left me financial unable to sample the plethora of culture that I always spoke of to out of towners. Along with growing tired of the ever present smell of urine and constant in-your-face nature of the open-air asylum no matter what part of town I was in. The "Dot-com" boom destroyed SF in my opinion. After the dust settled, it became sad to watch the left-overs pretend to be wealthy like make-up smeared old bar hag dripping with costume jewelery. Just sad and clinging to days gone by. Oakland, on the other hand has allowed me a life I'd never been able to afford in SF. It's GORGEOUS here, It's clean here, it's friendly here. Far more politically charged and artistically dynamic. What cracks me up is the absolute terror in a San Franciscans eyes when you suggest they move over here and in the same breath ask if they can bum a cigarette "til they get payed"... It's okay, SF, you don't have to pretend you're rich over here...lol

Posted by DB Scott on Apr. 11, 2012 @ 7:16 pm

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