Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Who is ReFund California?

A new group called the ReFund California Coalition is actively organizing on California's university campuses as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

They're asking the University of California Regents, California State University Trustees and other political and corporate leaders to sign the Refund California Pledge.

The problem is NOT that California's taxes are too low.  The problem is that California has a structural deficit that cannot be solved by raising taxes on a small percentage of taxpayers.

Never mind that California ALREADY has the nation's second highest marginal tax rate.

Never mind that the top wage earners ALREADY pay significantly higher effective income tax rates than the majority of other Californians. Never mind that California ALREADY treats capital gains just like ordinary income (part of the so-called "Buffett Test").

Never mind that the vast majority of California's income tax revenues (94%) comes from just 33% of taxpayers while the other 67% contribute just 6%.

Never mind that most of California's General Fund also comes from just 33% of taxpayers while the other 67% of taxpayers contributes just 3%.  If unions understand one thing, it's the power of mobs.

Never mind that, for all of the class warfare rhetoric about "The 99%" and "The 1%", the top 1% of California taxpayers pays 42% of all income taxes, at over three times the average tax rate, but have less than 1% of the voting power.

Never mind that "The 1%" by themselves contribute 24% of California's entire General Fund.

Never mind that, despite all the budget cuts due to our smaller economy, education still receives the lion's share of revenue, as it should.

Their motives are probably clearer if you see the group's URL,, and some of the site images.

If the ReFund California wants to fight corruption in the U.S. financial system and its too cozy relationship with cronies in national and state government, then I'm with you.  However, many of Refund California's strategies are seemingly misguided and counterproductive.  City squares in Oakland, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and San Francisco are a LONG WAY from the seat of real power and corruption in Washington, D.C.  Likewise California's campuses.

Who are the ReFund California Coalition?  According the group's web site, ReFund California consists of the following organizations, many listed only by acronyms.

Let's explore these organizations and see who they are.

AFT 1521
  • AFT 1521 is the American Federation of Teachers, Los Angeles College Faculty Guild.
  • The American Federation of Teachers has been pushing to increase the top marginal income tax rate for California's top income earners, despite that California already has one of the most income-progressive tax systems in the nation.  A whopping 94% of California's income taxes are paid by just a 33% minority of taxpayers. See also, "American Federation of Teachers: Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem?".
  • Nationally, the American Federation of Teachers is the #11 top political spender with 91% of their member's funds going to one political party.
Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE)
  • The group was previously part of ACORN, but changed its name (see this and this) after the scandal-plagued national organization lost access to federal funding.
  • SEIU and ACORN have had a long financial relationship.
  • ACORN has had a long history working against banks.  Ironically, many partially blame ACORN's supposedly well-intentioned push for subprime loans to unqualified, low-income borrows as one of the many driving forces behind the subprime mortgage crisis.
California Calls

Includes ...
California Partnership

Includes ...
  • California Immigrant Policy Center
  • Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles
  • Libreria de Pueblo
  • Parent Voices
  • SEIU 721 (see below)
  • Service, Immigrant Rights & Education Network (SIREN)

Clean Carwash Campaign

California Nurses Association

Oakland Education Association

    • People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER)

    San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council
    • An affiliate of the AFL-CIO

    SEIU 1021
    • Service Employees International Union, Local 1021 

    SEIU 721
    • Service Employees International Union, Local 721 representing Southern California Public Service Workers

    • Service Employees International Union, representing United Long-Term Care Workers

    • Service Employees International Union, Local 1877, representing United Service Wokers West
    UAW 2865
    • United Auto Workers, Local 2865
    • Representing academic student employees at the University of California
    • Few realize that the United Auto Workers also represents student employees--it's not just for auto workers anymore.
    • For a group against government bailout of the banks, it is ironic that the UAW is protesting.  The UAW was one of the bigger beneficiaries of the federal government's multi-billion dollar bailout of General Motors in 2009.
    • In the 2008 Presidential election, the students, faculty, and staff of the University of California were the single largest block of donors to Barack Obama.
    • Nationally, the UAW is #17 on the top political spenders list.
    UAW 4121
    • United Auto Workers, Local 4121
    • Representing academic student employees at the University of Washington
    United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS)

    The New Bottom Line

    Includes ...
    • National People's Action (NPA)
    • People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO National Network)
    • Alliance for a Just Society (AJS)
    • Right to the City Alliance
    • Main Street Alliance
    • Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE)
    • Oregon Action
    • Washington Community Action Network (Washington CAN) 
    • Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO) 
    • People Acting in Community Together San Jose (PACT SJ) 
    • Inland Congregations United for Change Inland Empire (ICUC) 
    • Oakland Community Organizations (OCO) 
    • L.A. Voice 
    • People Improving Communities through Organizing California 
    • Faith in Community (FIC - Fresno)
    • Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE Hawaii)
    • Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLANevada) 
    • Colorado Progressive Coalition 
    • Communities Creating Opportunity Missouri (CCO) 
    • Harriet Tubman Center/ Michigan Organizing Collaborative Detroit 
    • Lakeview Action Coalition Chicago 
    • Grassroots Organizing Missouri (GROMO) 
    • Illinois People's Action 
    • Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI)
    • Working in Neighborhoods Cincinnati (WINCincy)
    • Communities United for Actions Cincinnati (CUFACincy)
    • Take Action Minnesota 
    • Federation of Congregations United to Serve Orlando (FOCUS) 
    • Industrial Areas Foundation Southeast 
    • Virginia Organizing 
    • Voices Of Community Advocates & Leaders (VOCAL - NY)
    • Brockton Interfaith Community (BIC - MA) 
    • Brooklyn Congregations United (BCU) 
    • Maine People's Alliance