Archive for category Equality

Half of the Country Hasn’t Taken a Vacation Day Yet In 2014

The Go-Go’s – Vacation from Dan Hunter on Vimeo.

h/t Think Progress.

From the travel website Skift:

We asked Americans, using Google Consumer Surveys, “Heading into Fall, how many vacation days have you taken so far this year?” The majority, almost 51 percent, say they haven’t taken a single vacation day in 2014 so far.

About 15 percent of Americans say they have taken more than 10 vacation days this year, while the rest is split between those who took fewer than 5, and those who took between 5-10 vacation days this year.

The other topline result from the breakdown, as you will see in the charts below: Women, young, old,and the lower-income Americans are the ones taking the least amount of vacations.

Of course, nearly 1 in 4 US workers don’t get any paid vacation days.

Nearly a quarter of the American private-sector workforce, some 26 million workers, doesn’t get paid time off, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — compared with less than one-fifth in the 1990s.The United States is the only advanced economy that doesn’t guarantee paid vacation and one of only 13 countries in the world not to do so, according to the World Policy Analysis Center at the University of California Los Angeles.

The American middle class was great, while it lasted.

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Elisabeth Hasselbeck Destroys Utah Civics Education Initiative

Elisabeth Hasselbeck

Faux News Channel host Elisabeth Hasselbeck accidentally pulverized the Utah Civics Education Initiative in one interview. Raw Story:

On Monday, Utah Civics Education Initiative co-chair Lorena Riffo-Jensen told Hasselbeck that requiring a civics test was a good first step for encouraging students to be involved in the community.

Hasselbeck suggested taking the idea “one step further” by requiring a test to vote.

It might make elections “more meaningful,” she said. OK, what could possibly go wrong?

Civics education is important, especially if students learn the extent to which our political system has become corrupt and dysfunctional. But any educational change that Overstock.com is pushing makes me very suspicious – millionaire Patrick Byrne, the founder of Overstock, you may recall, was a driving force in the failed attempt 7 years ago to institute a private school voucher system in Utah that would have undermined public education.

More info:
Proposal: Pass citizenship test to graduate from Utah high school
Take the Impossible “Literacy” Test Louisiana Gave Black Voters in the 1960s

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What We Teach About Women and Consent

Lets be clear for a moment. Rush Limbaugh is one of the most disgusting pieces of raw sewage to ever be flushed through the pipes of the waste system that we call American conservatism. There is no good reason for his continued existence, let alone his being allowed on Armed Forces radio. To refer to him as a waste of good air assumes that he breathes, rather than just drawing power from the festering pile of ignorance that he stores where others have a soul.

But he said something right the other day. Something worth quoting. Something disturbing.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Equal Justice Under the Law – NOT

Ferguson, MO

At the Bundy Ranch standoff, so-called right-wing militia members aimed assault weapons at law enforcement officers. No arrests were made, and Cliven Bundy remains a free man. Last night in Ferguson, Missouri, an overwhelming police force including SWAT teams rampaged through residential streets firing stun grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets. They attacked peaceful, unarmed protesters and arrested reporters. The city never imposed a curfew, which means citizens were supposed to be allowed to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights.

Something is wrong. The media are blaming so-called “homeland security” and the militarization of even small-town police departments, which can buy a surplus MRAP from the Army for only $5,000 even if they don’t need one. Worse than that, there seems to be a trend of police use of deadly force against unarmed suspects – many of whom are being shot multiple times or shot in the back.

More info:
Ferguson Seeks Answers After Police Shooting Of Michael Brown
Does the Second Amendment Only Apply to White People?
Alderman, 2 reporters arrested as Ferguson erupts for 4th night
Did Police Use Excessive Force Against Ferguson Protesters?
Ferguson’s Police Got Free Military Gear Straight From The Pentagon

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From 2003-2013, Ordinary Americans Lost a Third of Their Wealth

Via Alternet:

According to new research (PDF) supported by the Russell Sage Foundation, middle class Americans are getting poorer (OK, we knew that, but now the numbers are in – and they are startling).

For the study, researchers gathered information on families in the middle of the wealth distribution continuum. What they found is that in 2003, the inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992. Fast-forward 10 years: that figure is down to a mere $56,335.

Ordinary Americans got 36 percent poorer in just a decade.

…The upshot is that regular people have endured one of the worst periods in recent memory. It will not surprise you to learn that during the same decade of 2003-2013, the rich were partying down. In the 95th percentile of wealth distribution, people got 14 percent richer.

That oughta brighten your day.

More info:
What Recovery? You Probably Became Poorer In the Last 10 Years
Americans In Debt: 35 Percent Have Unpaid Bills Reported To Collection Agencies

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None of us should be surprised Wasatch High Officials are a bunch of sexist prudes

I suppose in all fairness, we should probably acknowledge that girls in small town Utah are all sluts. And in digitally altering their photos to make their clothing appear modest, school officials are actually doing them a favor so their slutdom won’t be memorialized. Right? Seriously? Amirite?

The contretemps over Wasatch High School’s decision to alter girls photos has gone national and as with many such stories out of Utah, has served to make the entire state look like a bunch of pearl-clutching prudes. Honestly, school officials should have known there was no way this would turn out well and have not done it in the first.

The free-range morons who run Wasatch High School have defended their decision to edit the photos. Their defense would be hilarious if it weren’t obvious that they’re serious about it. Their argument is that students were warned they should not violate dress code and photos might be edited – and that they feel bad it was inconsistently done. In other words, “Why won’t all you sluts shut up and stop causing trouble?”

The editing involved adding sleaves to sleeveless tops, removing tattoos and adding necklines that the bluenoses think are more fitting. Of course the whole sorry affair is about nothing more than slut-shaming and double standards. It’s about a religious culture that tries to convince girls to cover up lest they inflame male desire. It’s about a cult of modesty that distrusts women and disdains female sexuality. It’s about a double standard that says it’s women’s job to control male sexuality by not doing anything that might possibly make people think women are sexual beings.

That photos of boys weren’t edited at all is no surprise. Of course there’s a double standard at work. Of course it’s sexist. The problem with the girls’ outfits is entirely in the minds of school officials who deemed them too sexy, not in what the girls were wearing or what their tattoos said.

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Bill O’Reilly: ‘Listen to The Master… I Just Destroyed This Inequality Myth’

h/t The Raw Story (Click on the X to make the ad go away)

Faux News host Bill O’Reilly chided his colleague Megyn Kelly on Thursday for saying income inequality might be a potent issue for Democrats in 2016, and predicted that Elizabeth Warren wouldn’t run for President because “all she wants to do is sell her dopey book.”

“You’re buying into this fraud, Kelly, and I’m very disappointed, so listen to the master,” O’Reilly told Kelly. “You worked your way up. Was there any war on you? Did anybody declare war on you?”

“I just destroyed this inequality myth,” O’Reilly concluded.

We didn’t really need more proof that Faux News inhabits an alternate universe, but here it is anyway.

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Bigot as the Idaho Sadz (updated)

Idaho is the latest state to join the wonderful world of marriage equality.

A federal magistrate struck down Idaho’s gay marriage ban and ordered the state to begin offering marriage licenses Friday morning. The Judge’s decision in this case is every bit as thorough as Judge Shelby’s Utah decision:

Judge Dale’s Idaho decision reads, in part:

“This case asks a basic and enduring question about the essence of American government: Whether the will of the majority, based as it often is on sincere beliefs and democratic consensus, may trump the rights of a minority,” the judge wrote in a 57-page decision.

“… Idaho’s marriage laws deny same-sex couples the economic, practical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of marriage, relegating each couple to a stigmatized, second-class status. Plaintiffs suffer these injuries not because they are unqualified to marry, start a family, or grow old together, but because of who they are and whom they love,” Dale wrote.

Bryan Fischer, AFA spokesbigot, found the decision a personal affront:

The sting of this is in fact personal for me, as I am a co-author of Idaho’s amendment. I worked diligently in late 2005 with other pro-family leaders in the state to carefully craft its language. Then together we worked with the Idaho legislature during the 2006 session, meeting with lawmakers and lining up testimony in committee hearings.

Fischer ranted the ruling a “mish-mash of sentiment, emotion and an utter absence of rational consistency.” He then called on Idaho’s governor to go full on George Wallace:

He [Idaho's governor] should fulfill his oath of office, an oath he took before God, to uphold the constitutions of both Idaho and the United States by flatly refusing permission for any city or county clerks in the state of Idaho to issue licenses to same-sex couples. The people of Idaho have spoken, he should say, and I will fulfill the promise I made to them to uphold their constitution.

This would not even be civil disobedience, since there is no “law” to disobey. A judge’s ruling is not a law – it is a ruling and a ruling only. Such an act on his part would in fact be the ultimate display of civil obedience, obedience to the Constitution as the supreme law of the land, and would be the first step in returning America to the rule of law rather than the rule of men.

(Update)
Alvin McEwan posted about this same issue and observed:

Fischer is so indicative of the hubris of folks on the other side of the marriage equality issue. In 2004, they sold an ugly bill of goods to Americans. Didn’t they realize that one day, they would have to defend the laws against marriage equality that they passed back then?

Apparently not.

You just can’t pass a law and not be able to defend it in court, folks. It’s un-American.

Alvin’s point is spot on; conservatives seem to not have considered that the rhetoric they used to support anti-gay marriage laws and amendments would need to stand up in court. And as we’re seeing, the arguments against allowing same sex couples to marry are unpersuasive in a court of law.

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The Millionaire Party

Monopoly Man

Tonight on Chris Hayes’ MSNBC show Prof. Dorian Warren of Columbia University (citing the book White Collar Government by Nicholas Carnes) wondered aloud what it would be like if the millionaires formed their own political party, a party representing just 3 percent of Americans.

  • The Millionaire Party would already occupy the White House.
  • They would control the House of Representatives.
  • They would have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
  • And the Millionaires would have a 5-4 Supreme Court majority.

While there is no such thing as the Millionaire Party, does it matter that the wealthiest Americans set the tax rates for the wealthy, that white-collar professionals choose the minimum wage for blue-collar workers, and that people who have always had health insurance decide whether or not to help those without? Could be.

See videos …
Read the rest of this entry »

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If Walmart Paid Its Employees a Living Wage, How Much Would Prices Go Up?

Via Slate:

In the series “The Secret Life of a Food Stamp,” Marketplace reporter Krissy Clark traces how big-box stores make billions from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka food stamps. What’s more, the wages of many workers at these stores are so low that the workers themselves qualify for food stamps—which the employees then often spend at those big-box stores.

This video crunches the numbers on how much Walmart, the single biggest beneficiary of the food stamp economy, might have to raise prices across the board to help a typical worker earn a living wage.

Are safety-net programs designed to help struggling Americans padding corporate profits at taxpayer expense? BTW friends don’t let friends shop at Walmart.

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Robert Reich: The ‘Paid-What-You’re-Worth’ Myth

Inequality graphs

As usual, Robert Reich says it better than I could (emphasis added).

“Paid-what-you’re-worth” is a dangerous myth.

…The real difference is the GM worker a half-century ago had a strong union behind him that summoned the collective bargaining power of all autoworkers to get a substantial share of company revenues for its members. And because more than a third of workers across America belonged to a labor union, the bargains those unions struck with employers raised the wages and benefits of non-unionized workers as well. Non-union firms knew they’d be unionized if they didn’t come close to matching the union contracts.

Today’s Walmart workers don’t have a union to negotiate a better deal. They’re on their own. And because fewer than 7 percent of today’s private-sector workers are unionized, non-union employers across America don’t have to match union contracts. This puts unionized firms at a competitive disadvantage. The result has been a race to the bottom.

…The reason Wall Street bankers got fat paychecks plus a total of $26.7 billion in bonuses last year wasn’t because they worked so much harder or were so much more clever or insightful than most other Americans. They cleaned up because they happen to work in institutions — big Wall Street banks — that hold a privileged place in the American political economy.

…The “paid-what-you’re-worth” argument is fundamentally misleading because it ignores power, overlooks institutions, and disregards politics. As such, it lures the unsuspecting into thinking nothing whatever should be done to change what people are paid, because nothing can be done.

It’s not that working Americans are lazy/incompetent. Capitalists are greedy and powerful.

UPDATE:

Conservative Myths About the Minimum Wage, Debunked
Contrary to conservative myths, raising the minimum wage would boost the economy, benefit all workers, and won’t hurt consumers.

49 Comments

Capitalism is a Failing System

This editorial by Richard D. Wolff caught my attention:

Janet Yellen, the United States’ Federal Reserve’s new chair, and I were graduate economics students around the same time at Yale University. The professor who shaped the macroeconomics we learned was James Tobin. He taught us to be Keynesian economists: that is, to accept capitalism as the sole object and focus of our studies, to celebrate it as the best possible system and to preserve it against its own serious faults. Keynesian economics teaches that to secure capitalism’s blessings requires systematic government intervention in the workings of the economy.

So far, conventionally Keynesian and even neo-liberal.

No courses at Yale troubled Yellen or myself with any analyses of how exploitation lies at the core of capitalist production. We were never taught that the majority of industrial workers produce more value for employers than what employers pay them. We were prevented from encountering arguments examining how this idea of “more” (or, in economic terms, of a surplus) contributed fundamentally to the systemic inequalities that define capitalist societies.

Now we’re getting interesting:

Capitalism’s dysfunctions have led me to appreciate and independently learn what Marxian economics has to teach me, outside of Yale’s mainstream economics. Yellen and her cohorts avoided and bypassed all that.

Convinced that we can do better than capitalism, many have analyzed the incipient alternatives emerging from capitalism’s deficiencies, such as cooperatives, workers’ self-directed enterprises and others. For us, Occupy Wall Street represents a powerful surge against capitalism, yet another sign of the waning tolerance for a system that Yellen will try to preserve.

The whole article is worth a read.

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