Posts Tagged ‘inequality’

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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Trump to Meet Real Billionaires at Davos

January 12, 2018

Trump to Meet Real Billionaires at Davos

Serial bankrupt and reality-TV star Donald Trump will meet some real billionaires when he joins the global titans of business, finance, and economic policy in two weeks at the 48th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. Mr. Trump, an ethnocentric isolationist who publishes his economic policy on baseball hats, will converse with Nobel laureate economists, world leaders, and international financiers on the theme “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World,” which “will make a case for renewed commitment to international collaboration as a way of solving critical global challenges.” Since this is the kind of elite crowd and Globalist agenda Mr. Trump campaigned against, his presence at the Forum is baffling, especially since the Davos golf season ended in October.

The 2018 Forum is co-chaired by 7 powerful womenSharan Burrow (General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation), Fabiola Gianotti (Director-General, European Organization for Nuclear Research – CERN), Isabelle Kocher (CEO of French multinational electric utility company ENGIE), Christine Lagarde (Managing Director, International Monetary Fund — IMF), Ginni Rometty (Chairman, President and CEO, IBM Corporation), Chetna Sinha (Founder and President, Mann Deshi Mahila Bank and Mann Deshi Foundation), and Erna Solberg (Prime Minister of Norway). Mr. Trump’s last meeting with women of so many nations involved a swimsuit competition, and didn’t have a code of conduct.

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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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Slavery to Mass Incarceration

January 12, 2017

“Slavery to Mass Incarceration,” a short video by the Equal Justice Initiative. Narrated by Bryan Stevenson, illustrated by Molly Crabapple. Directed by Jim Batt; sound design by Kim Boekbinder.

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Will Santa Come to Shanty Town?

December 20, 2016

“Will Santa Come to Shanty Town,” written by Eddy Arnold, Steve Nelson, and Ed Nelson Jr.. Recorded by Mr. Arnold in 1949, when “Santa” was apparently pronounced “Santy.”

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Judge Orders Bottled Water Delivery To Flint Residents

November 11, 2016

Judge Orders Bottled Water Delivery To Flint Residents

Federal Court Judge David M. Lawson has ordered Michigan state and local governments to provide home delivery of at least four cases of water a week to each resident of Flint, unless officials verify that the household has a properly installed and maintained water filter. Deliveries must continue until the city’s water lead hazard ends.

Bottled water had previously been available for pick-up at various locations throughout the city, but restrictive access hours and limits per family placed the burden on residents, 40 percent of whom live below the poverty line. Many do not own cars, and had to walk to and from the water supply centers.

As Judge Lawson observed:

“In modern society, when we turn on a faucet, we expect safe drinking water to flow out. As the evidence shows, this is no longer the case in Flint. The Flint water crisis has in effect turned back the clock to a time when people traveled to central water sources to fill their buckets and carry the water home.”

The water became tainted with lead in 2014 when the Republican state government privatized Flint’s water utility, which then instituted cost-cutting measure while charging residents some of the highest rates in the nation.

More:

“Federal judge orders delivery of bottled water in Flint,” Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press

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