Tuesday, January 22, 2019

There’s a retirement crisis and the new $15 minimum wage bill could help

  We’re several weeks into the 116th Congress, every day of which has been consumed by the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. The president has manufactured this crisis, holding the government hostage to fund a symbol of his xenophobia, while ignoring the deep, snowballing damage he is inflicting on workers, families, and the economy. But Trump’s shutdown doesn’t mean newly-empowered congressional Democrats have been twiddling their thumbs.

  Last week, House and Senate Democratic leadership introduced the Raise the Wage Act, which would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2024. It would also link the minimum wage to median wage growth thereafter, and phase out sub-minimum wages for tipped workers, which has been stuck at $2.13 per hour for 28 years, and workers with disabilities, which allows employers to pay disabled workers as little as pennies per hour.

Monday, January 21, 2019

The wisdom and philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  For a man who never reached the age of 40, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., left a powerful and important body of thought. He was a preacher and orator, so rather than writing in the form of books or treatises, Dr. King spoke to the world in sermons and speeches and a few articles.

  His impact and image as a social activist are so prominent that I think his contributions as a philosopher are underestimated. Here is a very brief tour of a few things he said worth noting.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Five ways the Trump shutdown is harming struggling workers, families, and communities

  For an in-depth overview of the individuals, families, and grants affected by the shutdown, see Table 1.

  President Donald Trump recently claimed that he can relate to the strain experienced by federal workers living paycheck-to-paycheck. However, his efforts to prolong the current government shutdown—already the longest in U.S. history—suggest otherwise. In addition to furloughed federal workers, this cruel, manufactured crisis has added immeasurable uncertainty to already stressed low-wage workers and families, disproportionately harming low-income families with children, people with disabilities, and seniors.

  Here are just five of the myriad ways that Trump’s shutdown is irresponsibly harming and holding low-income communities hostage.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

We need King’s radical message as badly as we did in 1968

  On Monday, we’ll celebrate Martin Luther King Day, the 33rd time our nation has officially honored this giant of American history.

  But the figure we’ll honor seems to bear a little less resemblance to the real Dr. King with each passing year.

  In speeches and commemorations, America will inevitably hold up the martyred leader of the nonviolent movement that toppled Jim Crow – the brilliant, charismatic pastor whose soaring rhetoric, typically laced with biblical metaphors, inspired millions of people across the globe to march for justice.

  King was all that. And he was much more.

Friday, January 18, 2019

For low-income Americans, the IRS is always shut down

  The ongoing partial government shutdown has dragged on for more than 27 days, and it doesn’t look like the Trump administration is interested in ending it any time soon. One of the agencies affected is the IRS, and the longer the shutdown continues, the likelier it is that tax season becomes ensnared in a significant way. The Trump administration was spooked enough by the prospect of people not receiving their 2018 tax refunds that it ordered furloughed IRS employees back to work despite the fact that it may be illegal.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Trump's nighttime trip to Iraq confirms the debacle

  What better proof of the Iraq debacle than President Trump’s middle-of-the-night trip to that country at Christmastime to visit U.S. troops who are still occupying the country some 15 years after the Pentagon and the CIA invaded?

  The U.S. national-security establishment has had a decade-and-a-half to bring its federally planned paradise into existence. From the very first day of the U.S. conquest of Iraq - a country that had never attacked the United States - the Pentagon and the CIA wielded total control over the country, being able to install whatever type of regime they wanted, with no pesky constitutional restraints to inhibit whatever they wanted to do.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse – What will our Congressional districts look like after the 2020 Census?

  Preparations are being made to take the 2020 Census. This process is not just a fun game to spell out demographic changes and interesting tidbits about Americans. It is a very important mandate dictated by the U.S. Constitution. The number of people counted determines how many seats each state has in Congress. Thus, it is taken every 10-years.

  The country has been changing, demographically, over the last decade, as it always has over the course of history. The states of California, Texas, and Florida continue to grow exponentially. All Americans, not just older ones, seek the sun. They like a sunny, warm climate. That is why our neighboring state of Florida is, and has been for decades, America’s growth state.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

2019 threats to First Amendment freedoms

  First Amendment threats and defenses have, for much of the past 100 years, largely focused on protecting individual speech — the rights of any one of us to express ourselves without interference or punishment by the government.

  Not to be too glib but, oh, those were the days! This glee is due, in no small part, to the degree that individual speech and press rights triumphed in that era. But looking into this new year, that situation — and those victories — may be more nostalgia than the norm. There is increasing danger to our core freedoms from what I’ll call “systemic” challenges, which often appear focused on other issues but which carry a First Amendment impact, if not a wallop.

Monday, January 14, 2019

For low-income people, generosity is a survival tactic

  If you aren’t one of Renee Rushka’s neighbors in Bethel, Connecticut, you probably don’t know about the chain of events that took place there this past December. They were small and quiet and didn’t change the world, but they changed the lives of the people they touched. It started a few weeks before Christmas when Rushka was a few dollars short of what she needed to pay for her groceries. Someone behind her in line offered to cover what Rushka couldn’t. The following week she posted a thank you on the neighborhood’s Facebook page. There was an immediate flood of replies, she says, from people asking whether her family needed anything else to get through the holiday. There was also one woman asking if Rushka could recommend resources because she was struggling too.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Risks in Betsy DeVos’ rethink of higher education

  In its first two years, the Trump administration bent over backward to gut Obama administration regulations designed to hold colleges or programs accountable for ripping off students. Now, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is kicking 2019 off with an attempt to dismantle bedrock protections created decades ago that define what it means to receive a college education and the role gatekeepers play in conducting quality oversight.

  Last week, the U.S. Department of Education detailed exactly how it plans to accomplish its goals. The elimination of these protections risks the proliferation of poor-quality schools in the name of innovation, leading to more dead ends and broken promises for students.