Archive for the ‘inequality’ Category

The Tipped Wage: Depending on ‘The Kindness of Strangers’

October 17, 2018

If you’re uncomfortable leaving a tip at a restaurant, there’s a good reason. The nominally-egalitarian United States adopted the custom of tipping during Reconstruction, when African Americans, newly-freed from bondage, filled many low-paying personal-service jobs. Tipping allowed employers to rationalize paying a pittance to servers, and allowed restaurant patrons to feel like the European aristocrats who initiated the custom. Even today, in the Nation’s Capital, while most workers get $13.25 an hour, restaurant owners can pay servers $3.89 an hour.

Americans calculate a restaurant tip as a percentage of the total meal bill, so the more expensive the menu, the greater the gratuities to servers. That’s why Washington DC’s high-end restaurant owners had no trouble finding employees to testify against a District of Columbia law mandating equal hourly wages for servers, despite the fact that DC voters had approved the measure in a referendum. The District Council voted 8 to 5 to overturn the will of the voters.

If DC voters want to ratify their referendum vote and end vulnerable restaurant workers’ dependence on “the kindness of strangers,” they’ll have a chance soon. Four of the council members who voted to repeal the fair wage law are up for re-election on November 6th.

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Amazon’s Low-Paid Employees Need Food Stamps

August 30, 2018

Amazon's Low-Paid Employees Need Food Stamps

“Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will soon introduce legislation that would require large employers such as Amazon, Walmart and McDonald’s to fully cover the cost of food stamps, public housing, Medicaid and other federal assistance received by their employees. The goal, he says, is to force corporations to pay a living wage and curb about $150 billion in taxpayer dollars that go to funding federal assistance programs for low-wage workers each year.”

— “Thousands of Amazon workers receive food stamps. Now Bernie Sanders wants the company to pay up.” Abha Bhattarai, Washington Post

Think about that on Labor Day Weekend.

More:

“Amazon urges employees to tell Bernie Sanders how much they love working there,” Summer Meza, The Week

“Amazon gets huge subsidies to provide good jobs—but it’s a top employer of SNAP recipients in at least five states,”  H. Claire Brown, New Food Economy

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Americans Think Hard Work Gets You Nowhere

June 7, 2017

Americans Think Hard Work Gets You Nowhere

“A new poll from the Strong, Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC), an initiative to bolster local economies, found that Americans are quite skeptical of the narrative connecting wealth with personal agency. SPARCC found that 74 percent of those surveyed believed that most poor people work hard, but aren’t able to work their way out of poverty due to the lack of economic opportunities. In the U.S., 19 percent of income inequality is attributed to predetermined circumstances such as a person’s race, gender, and parental income. The SPARCC report also points to past research showing that economic mobility and health outcomes are greatly affected by geography as evidence that individual hard work won’t ensure success because opportunities aren’t evenly distributed.”

–“Americans Are Pretty Skeptical That Hard Work Will Pay Off,” Bourree Lam, The Atlantic

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Top image derived from Urban Folklore from the Paperwork Empire, Alan Dundes and Carl R. Pagter (1975)

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Gender Pay Gap To Be Closed in Only 170 Years

November 1, 2016

Gender Pay Gap To Be Closed in Only 170 Years

Women are expected to earn as much as men as early as January 2196, reports the World Economic Forum. WEF is the organization behind that annual gathering of radical populists at Davos.

The global gender pay gap has widened since 2015, when it was expected to close in 118 years. The United States has fallen in the rankings in the past year, from 23rd to 45th place in gender wage equality.

Download the report here.

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Top image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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The Gender Wage Gap

September 9, 2016

The Gender Wage Gap

“Women earn 79 cents for every dollar a man makes.”  Factually correct, but that doesn’t reflect the complexity of the problem. Sarah Kliff explains:

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Back to School

September 7, 2016

Back to School

“The back-to-school season is the second-biggest shopping period of the year, behind Christmas. But while families will spend more than before, how they will do it — and where they will do it — varies widely.

A growing list of designer notebooks, luxury desk accessories and even beanbag chairs now caters to wealthy back-to-school shoppers. Shoppers can buy a $195 Gucci headband, a $572 Versace backpack and a $28 Terez pencil case on the back-to-school section of Saks’ website. Restoration Hardware has a new ‘teen’ line that includes a $2,000 ‘riveted aluminum’ desk and $250 faux fur beanbag chairs.”

— “Back-to-School Divide: $195 Headbands and $1 Glue Sticks,” Rachel Abrams, New York Times

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Photo by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Father Christmas

December 20, 2015

“Father Christmas” by Ray Davies, recorded by him with his group The Kinks in 1977. This video by Rick Rogan follows the lyrics, and Devotchka Duste’s video interpretation is also a good fit.

“Father Christmas, give us some money
Don’t mess around with those silly toys.
We’ll beat you up if you don’t hand it over
We want your bread so don’t make us annoyed
Give all the toys to the little rich boys.”

Note to Yanks: “Father Christmas” = Santa Claus.

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Privilege

October 24, 2015

“Let’s Talk About Privilege,” a short video by SNL’s Sasheer Zamata.

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Angus Deaton

October 13, 2015

Angus Deaton has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.

“To design economic policy that promotes welfare and reduces poverty, we must first understand individual consumption choices. More than anyone else, Angus Deaton has enhanced this understanding. By linking detailed individual choices and aggregate outcomes, his research has helped transform the fields of microeconomics, macroeconomics, and development economics.”

— Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

More:

“Princeton professor Angus Deaton wins Nobel Prize in economics,” Jeff Guo, Washington Post

“Why Angus Deaton Deserved the Nobel Prize in Economics,” Christopher Blattman, Foreign Policy

Video [21:02]: Angus Deaton addressing the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) on “Health, Wealth and the Origins of Inequality.” October 17, 2013. A complete audio recording of his remarks is here.

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Trump: Golf is for the Rich. Get off my lawn!

August 12, 2015

Trump: Golf is for the Rich. Get off my lawn!

“Golf should be something beautiful, elegant, something people aspire to play eventually.

It may be elitist, and perhaps that’s what golf needs. Let golf be elitist. When I say ‘aspire,’ that’s a positive word. Let people work hard and aspire to some day be able to play golf. To afford to play it. They’re trying to teach golf to people who will never be able to really play it. They’re trying too hard. Because of the expense of playing, and the land needed, golf is never going to be basketball, where all you need is a court.”

— “Donald Trump: Let golf be for the rich elite,” Daniel Roberts, Fortune

 The Trump Golf Portfolio includes 16 courses in operation. One of them is Perry Point, a municipal course in the Bronx, poorest borough of New York City.

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