Posts Tagged ‘inequality’

W. E. B. Du Bois: Strivings

February 15, 2019

“Strivings of the Negro People” by W. E. B. Du Bois, from The Atlantic, August 1897, animated by Tynesha Foreman. Read the full essay here.

“It dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was different from the others; or like … in heart and life and longing, but shut out from their world by a vast veil.”

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Wilbur Ross Explains It All To You

January 25, 2019

Wilbur Ross Explains It All To You

Commerce Secretary and grifter Wilbur Ross (net worth: $440 million — or maybe $2.9 billion) expressed puzzlement over why unpaid federal workers need to go to food banks during the Trump government shutdown when they could get loans. Perhaps they can use their art collections as collateral. It’s true that the Commerce Department Credit Union offers loans to unpaid federal employees — at nearly 9 percent interest. What GS-4 wouldn’t jump at that?

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Dr. King on the Roots of Economic Inequality

January 21, 2019

Dr. King on the Roots of Economic Inequality

Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) planned a Poor People’s Campaign for May 1968 to demand jobs, unemployment insurance, a fair minimum wage, affordable housing, and education for poor adults and children, an Economic Bill of Rights. The effort was to involve poor people of all races from all parts of the country, urban and rural, but the historical roots of racial economic disparity could not be ignored:

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DC Shut Down? The GOP Does Davos.

January 15, 2019

DC Shut Down? The GOP Does Davos.

The president has shut down the U.S. government by refusing to authorize federal spending, but presidential aides and cabinet officials are spending $3-4 million and change to go to the World Economic Forum at Davos, kind of a Coachella for billionaires and financial heavies at a resort in the Swiss Alps.  Administration figures scheduled to attend include: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

U.S. officials at Davos will have a significant weight lifted from their shoulders at this year’s WEF. Unlike last year, President Donald Trump will not attend. Swiss protesters must be crestfallen.

More:

“Trump’s team is still running up bills for Davos during the government shutdown,” Justin Rohrlich and Heather Timmons, Quartz

“Davos, other Swiss ski resorts warned of high avalanche danger,” Xinhua

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

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Teaching in America

October 24, 2018

“I’ve had hungry students who couldn’t concentrate; I’ve filed tax returns for kids’ parents. You’re the only adult they trust – the only adult that talks to them like they’re a person.”

A Guardian video.

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

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Equal Pay Day 2018

April 10, 2018

Equal Pay Day 2018

It’s Pay Equality Day, last of the 99 extra days into 2018 that American women worked to finally make the same amount of wages that men made by Dec. 31, 2017. The concept originated with the National Committee on Pay Equity in 1996 as a way to point out the economic injustice of  American women earning 82 cents when men are earning a dollar. Want to change that inequity? Look here.

In a timely decision, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that employers can’t use workers’ salary histories to justify paying women less.

More:

“When Is Equal Pay Day? 2018 Is The Year Women Can Help Close It Once & For All,” Sarah Friedmann, Bustle

 

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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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NCAA Claims Unpaid College Athletes Are Like Prison Labor

February 27, 2018

NCAA Claims Unpaid College Athletes Are Like Prison Labor

It’s almost March, when America’s thoughts turn to college basketball. NCAA March Madness alone earns $900 million for the NCAA, and big university athletic programs and their coaches reap lucrative rewards from sports, but collegiate basketball and football players are unpaid, being considered “student athletes.” In answer to a pending lawsuit, the NCAA justifies this situation by citing the clause of the 13th Amendment that allows unpaid prison labor. This jaw-dropping argument is compounded by the fact that the purpose of the 13th Amendment was the abolition of slavery in the United States, and Division 1 college athletes are overwhelmingly African American.

The suit against the NCAA was brought by former Villanova receiver Lawrence “Poppy” Livers on behalf of all athletic scholarship players, who are required to play in sports by the terms of their agreements. A previous suit failed because it also included “walk-on” players without such binding scholarship agreements. Livers vs. NCAA claims sports scholarship athletes, like students in work-study programs, should be considered university employees and compensated.

More:

“The NCAA Says Student-Athletes Shouldn’t Be Paid Because the 13th Amendment Allows Unpaid Prison Labor,” Shaun King, The Intercept

Related:

“Four Years A Student-Athlete: The Racial Injustice of Big-Time College Sports,” Patrick Hruby, VICE sports

“Your March Madness Bracket Is Exploiting Student-Athletes,”  Dave Zirin, The Nation

“When will NCAA be done exploiting athletes?” Editorial Board, Charlotte Observer

“The NCAA Must Change the Rules in Order to Solve College Basketball’s Existential Crisis,” Andy Staples, Sports Illustrated

“Let High School Players Go Straight to the NBA Again,” Sean Cunningham, RealClearLife

“The NCAA,” Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, 2015 (20:53)

“What Would Happen if the Players Ran College Basketball?” Ray Glier, Ozy

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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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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Health Care

January 15, 2018

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Health Care

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhumane.”

— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressing the Medical Committee for Human Rights, 1966

Image source: Library of Congress.

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