Who Will Save The Middle Class?

With income inequality on the rise, middle class earnings stuck, and more people being forced to rent because of lack of money, the middle class has been stagnant for years. Before the financial crisis of 2008, the U.S. already took first place for containing the highest disparity of wealth in the industrialized world. Since then, the gap between the wealthy elite and the remaining 99 percent has only worsened with those in power now in possession of over 70 percent of all monetary assets. With the 2016 presidential elections rapidly approaching, can any prospective candidates offer this change?

When it came to economics during the Republican president debates, the worries of the middle class were largely passed over for other topics. During this time, I only counted three times that the phrase “middle class” was spoken. Whenever the topic of the middle class became the focus of discussion, the candidates seemed intent on trying to one-up each other with bigger tax cuts that only benefited the already wealthy elite.

On the other hand, Democrats mentioned the middle class eleven times. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has solidified her campaign around gaining benefits for average working class families: increasing child care support, decreasing the cost of public college costs, and demanding required paid leave. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has spent a considerable amount of his campaign blasting the one percent, saying that “we are living in a rigged economy where 57 percent of income is going to the top one percent; it is immoral and wrong that the top tenth of one percent in this country own as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.” To save the middle class, Sanders wants to create more well-paying jobs, tax the rich, and overhaul systems that spread inequality such as our current criminal justice system.

-Quenton

The Problem With Super PACs

Source: bloggingwhileblue.com

Have you ever donated money to a political party or candidate? If so, how much was it?

Certainly it wasn’t $32,042,855. It couldn’t have been $16,000,000.

Welcome to a political world dominated by Super PACs. So what is a super PAC? What purpose do they serve?

The website, opensecrets.org, offers an explanation.”Technically known as independent

Source: motherjones.com

expenditure-only committees, super PACs may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates,” the site states.

Super PACs are a very recent phenomenon. Two landmark cases directly led to their creation.

In 2010, the rulings from Citizens United v. FEC, and SpeechNow.org v. FEC,  allowed individuals, corporations, or unions to donate an unlimited amount of money to independent expenditure only committees.

The ramifications of these court decisions could be immediately seen. In the 2012 elections, $828,224,700 was raised by super PACs. $305,014,588 has already been raised for 2016. This number is almost guaranteed to surpass the total from 2012.

Under federal law, an individual cannot donate more than $2,700 to a presidential candidate. Super Pacs directly undermine that law, as donors can donate unlimited amounts to these influential groups.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Money donated to super PACS goes to advertisements and other factors that help candidates get elected. This is all considered OK because super PACs are, “Prohibited from coordinating their strategies with candidates.”

Super PACs are undermining the very concept of democracy. They directly allow the wealthiest people of this country to influence elections.

That’s a bold strategy, considering income inequality in this country is at its highest point since 1928.

Who are the politicians more likely to listen to? The billionaire who donated millions of dollars to a super PAC that supports them? Or the person who cannot donate any money because he/she works 50 hours a week on a minimum wage?

It’s time to rethink super PACs. Is this what the Founding Fathers really had in mind when they helped forge our nation?


By: Jackson Rioux

Homeless at Home–The Homelessness of the Indigenous People of New Zealand

About one year ago, I had the luxury of visiting the incredible and beautiful island of New Zealand. It was an amazing experience which gave me a tour of the North Island. The whole trip made me wish I had been born there so I could spend my life living like the natives do.

But the real natives of New Zealand do not live what I would consider a happy life at all.

The indigenous people of the islands of New Zealand are known as the Māori. And they are of the highest homeless and impoverished demographic of the entire country. 

There are structural and personal implications that lead people to being homeless, no matter where you are. In New Zealand, the Māori are victims of colonialism and the Māori ideology of individual responsibility. This is similar to poverty in America, especially with the false belief that anyone can pull themselves up by the bootstraps and become wealthy if they try. Many do try, every day, and still have no upward mobility.

The personal implications arrive through relationship breakdowns, when a person is no longer in contact with anyone who can help them. This stems from the overarching problems of drug misuse, family abuse, and mental illness that is rampant in the modern Māori society.

I met with Dr. Hodgetts from the University of Waikato to talk about Māori homelessness:

“Homelessness to the Māori is often seen as a choice rather than a lack of options. We need to look at it that way too if we want to understand their situation.”

He talked about the idea that many of the Māori did not want to be helped. It was incredibly hard to find these people, to build relationships with them, and to finally convince them that they need help. Even when they are helped, they often eventually revert back to living on the streets.

“They call this feeling Mokemoke–meaning dislocation or loneliness.”

Many of the homeless Māori today still believe that they must take care of themselves because the Europeans who settled in their land are considered “guests”. They do not ask for help because they feel that this would make them poor hosts.

Although most of the people in poverty in New Zealand are from a European background,  over half of the homeless are Māori.

By Nicholas Evangelista

Spent

About a week ago I played “Spent”  a computer game that attempts to simulate the experience of the working parent with a limited budget. You start out with $1000 dollars and very few assets to assist you. Your job with a single decision can turn sour with switching your method of payment. In order to survive for just under a month I was forced to cut corners by choosing not to receive medical treatment for injuries and taking loans from friends. At points the honest decision was not the most viable decision. The choice of paying the driver of car a you accidentally rear ended or driving away with you son in the back to save a few hundred bucks wasn’t an easy one. Life as it was forced me to miss key moments in my son’s life in order to make rent or improve our quality of living . One aspect of the game that I wished they delved into was the emotional strain of life coupled with the physical and psychological burdens of work and finances. It certainly showed me what I might have to do in these situations. And though I don’t plan on having children the scenarios are all the same applicable.

Vampires and Zombies

Vampire and Zombie

Even though we have just emerged out the season of trick or treating along with its hosts of ghouls and goblins, we are still able to catch real-life “scary movies”  starring such villains as the team of Racial Intolerancecartoon vampire and Wealth and Income Inequality. These two constructs are presently (and always have been) sucking the blood out of American society so, the Word-Sword has dubbed them Vampires.  

We in American society whom have fallen under the dual effects of Intolerance and Inequality 461924e0c4545db9193fb159_640_zombiesonly to have to shuffle through our daily existence as sometimes little more than “the walking dead” thusly have been dubbed as Zombies. 

Now the story unfolds as the societal blood sucking constructs of Inequality and Intolerance use their formidable weapon of divisions between the races, income levels, and genders to weaken and kill the practitioners of Capitalism there by turning them into their minions of Consumers (Spoiler Alert : All serve the almighty 1% ).

The story progresses through time while the Zombies of society fight to regain their humanity as they try to cross the perilous  canyons of wage and wealth disparities, inequity in housing and services, and inequality of occupational compensation along the lines of race and especially gender. The walking dead pass signs proclaiming  such useful understandings as “Get Up, Get Out and Do Something!’, “Knowledge is Power”, or the more simply stated “Wake Up!’. Do the Zombie 99% heed the call to arms of these messages? Some do, some don’t. Some even make it across the Racial, Wealth, and Income Inequality canyon in such good shape that they can also become societal bloodsucking Vampires themselves and feed upon the life’s blood of their former comrades at arms.

 

The final chapter of this “scary story” has not yet  been written (at least not as of this telling) but, we do know that more and more of the 99% societal  “walking dead” are indeed waking up and demanding not just life but a better life of equality. Think about it and have a Happy Thinksgiving.         Fight the Power pic

 

Submitted by Braxton Gray

The Gender Wage Gap

Women comprise half of America’s workforce. Yet oddly enough, for every dollar a man nets, women earn roughly 77 cents. How is that just? How can something so one-sided exist in a progressive society such as the U.S.? The gender wage gap is a massive hindrance to a woman’s equity and chance at the world. Even right here in Connecticut the gender wage gap is alive and well. As a matter of fact, Connecticut holds the widest wage gap out of all the states in the Northeast, with the city of Fairfield containing the leading difference. Good find.

In the U.S., more than one in three women live in poverty or are hovering around it, and four out of ten kids living in poverty belong to families that only contain a sole female parental guardian looking after them. Too many of these lone women are dealt with numerous responsibilities and surmounting odds: paying rent, figuring out a way to earn money and still find time to spend with family, scraping up enough money for presents, etc. How are they supposed to face these challenges and provide for their loved ones with lesser wages? With these conditions, are they supposed to?

When single mothers take on the responsibility of providing for the welfare of their family, something has to give: their hopes and aspirations. Dreams are cast aside, sometimes forever, to make sure that there is a roof above their kids when they are sleeping. Still thinking of pursuing a degree at a college? How can you with health care and child care breathing down your neck? It’s ironic that for a nation that was built around the American Dream, many of its female citizens have to sacrifice that right because of an archaic attitude that still sadly exists today: inequality.

-Quenton

Dishonest Math: The True Unemployment Rate

One of the main goals of the White House is to reduce the unemployment rate. When it came out in the news that the unemployment rate is 5%, many people celebrated the news. However, this claim that the unemployment has been reduced to such a low number has been found to be false.

long-term-unemployed

Turns out, many of the people who we may label as unemployed are not even counted into the percentage. If you haven’t worked recent weeks, or worked just an hour a week for lower than $20, you’re not counted as unemployed. That leaves the mind to believe there are so much more people who are unemployed than we are being told. The problem is worse than we thought.

Income and wealth inequality is already a huge issue this country faces, however, how can we even begin to discuss income inequality when there are millions of people who don’t even receive one? Finding and landing a job is tough, especially when there aren’t enough jobs available.

The unemployment rate doesn’t factor in people who work part-time, the people who have become small business owners, and even the people who simply stay home and receive benefits from their spouse. There are a lot of cases such as these that aren’t collected by the current metric of measuring the unemployment rate.

According to an article titled “How To Fix the Unemployment Rate”, posted by INC.com, there are easy steps to take to accurately measure all the people who are unemployed, such as, instead of asking a person if they have a full-time job, instead ask “”How many hours did you work this week in a revenue-producing activity?” Changing the way we measure unemployment will start giving us real numbers, and thus allowing us to find real solutions to this problem.

By: Jesmarie Disdiel

The Gender Wage Gap Exists

 

Gender Gap with men on one side of abyss and woman on the other
Gender Gap with men on one side of abyss and woman on the other

It’s not news that women get paid considerably less than men, especially if you’re a woman of color. In 2014, it was stated that women who worked full time in the U.S were typically paid just 79 percent of what men were made. Why is this?

The gap has narrowed over the decades, but the fact that it still exists is an issue. Women of color get the shorter end of wages when compared to white men and women, although the gender gap is smaller for women compared to men in the same group.

wage-gap-race-infographic

This gender wage gap affects women of all races, education, and fields of work. In latest news, Jennifer Lawrence wrote in an essay that even she, a very successful female actress, gets lower pay than her male co-stars. Income inequality affects everyone.

Less pay an hour, less salary, means that women will make a lot less in their lifetime than men will. How can someone raising a family on their own ever make a reasonable living in this country? It’s about time women receive a raise.

Today, women have increasingly become more educated than men, however, this has not reduced the wage gap by much. Critics of the issue blame the gap on majority of women choosing lower-income jobs such as education, but statistics show that this rebuttal does not hold. Women who had the same careers as men were proven to be paid less than them.

How can this wage gap be closed? Companies need to commit to paying their workers, either man or woman, fairly. Equal work deserves equal pay. Women need to fight for their right for equal pay and learn how to better negotiate with their employers. Congress needs to make policies that force employers to follow the law of equal pay.

By: Jesmarie Disdiel

Equal pay for Equal work

gender gap imageWomen in the workplace have been getting the short end of the straw for quite some time when it comes to equal pay versus their male counterparts.  And according to an article from ctmirror.org, http://ctmirror.org/2014/01/31/connecticut-women-victims-of-pay-gap/#graphic ,Connecticut has one of the widest gender wage gaps in the Northeast.  We’re one of the wealthiest states in the Union, but yet Vermont pays women higher wages than we do (85 percent vs. 78 percent of a man’s income).  The land of farms and cheese is more progressive than us; that’s pretty sad.

The article also states that one of the reasons for lower pay is that women are more likely to take time off of work to have children and care for their families.  This makes a broad assumption that every single women is going to have/want children.  I know quite a few women who have no desire to have children.  Should they be forced to earn less in the advancement of their careers because of this assumption?  And what about the single mothers who rely on a sole income to provide for their family. Should they be forced to work two jobs just to make ends meet because one job isn’t enough to keep a roof over their family’s head and food on the table?

The fact is that women hold more advanced degrees than men in the workplace.  So imagine how demoralizing it must be when they have invested all of that time, energy, and most importantly tuition to advance their education, and right out of the gate they enter the workplace and are faced with an immediate disadvantage. My fellow female co-workers work just as hard as I do on a daily basis.  These arcane wage policies have no place in a modern society. It’s the year 2015 Government!; time to wake up and smell the discrimination.

Kevin Hayes

 

 

When Will Pay be Equal for Working Women?

male female not equal pay 2

Two workers, one male, one female, equally educated, enter a workplace to perform an identical job. One might assume that if they work approximately the same hours, they would accrue comparable vacation and personal time, sick time and overtime, and also take home practically identical pay. And yet, years of inequity in the workforce, including blatant salary discrepancies, continues to exist between the salaries of men and women. For every dollar a man makes, today’s woman makes approximately 77 cents. In the above example, the man may accept an annual salary of $30,000 while his female coworker’s annual salary totals only $23,100 for exactly the same job. Fair? I think not!

rosie the riveterEarly ‘40s marketing campaigns introduced the classic image of “Rosie the Riveter” as an “every woman,” empowering and encouraging ordinary housewives to enter the workforce to fill the manufacturing jobs that were vacated by men sent overseas in times of war. For many years, those women learned the skills required to work in all types of jobs including manufacturing, and kept American industry going when it could have been shut down altogether. They set the standard for women who wanted to work deserved to be able to work and they broke the mold of “a woman’s place is in the home.” But regardless of their performance, salaries were not equal.

There have been studies done, articles written, laws signed, protests walked, and more … and yet women continue to be paid less for equal jobs. There are lame excuses given during the hiring process and for some reason we continue to accept less pay than our male counterparts.

By Signe Lambertsen