Women Are Bearing the Brunt of Shutdown Fallout

Oct 11, 2013Andrea FlynnNataya Friedan

The "non-essential" programs that are currently unfunded due to the shutdown are in fact essential for many women and children.

The "non-essential" programs that are currently unfunded due to the shutdown are in fact essential for many women and children.

The GOP likes to say the war on women is a myth. But the government shutdown, now in its eleventh day, is just the latest evidence that it is indeed alive and well. It should be no surprise that women are among those hurt most by the closure, which, predictably, is in part a reaction to the benefits that the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature achievement, guarantees women, as we wrote last week.

From the nation’s elite institutions to the oft-neglected rural areas of this country, women and their families are caught in the middle of a political impasse that has furloughed an estimated 800,000 government workers, threatens to upend the global economy, and has left critical government programs and services scrambling to secure emergency funds in order to serve America’s most vulnerable populations.

The shutdown threatens a number of programs and funding streams, including domestic violence shelters and service centers; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); the Woman, Infants, and Children Program (WIC); School Lunch; Head Start; and Title IX investigations of sexual assault on college campuses. This will have a serious impact on the health, physical safety, food security, and economic stability of women and their families.

Physical Safety

As Bryce Covert wrote last week, funds for domestic violence programs designated under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) have been suspended since October 4. (It should be no surprise that many of the House members leading the shutdown also voted against VAWA itself earlier this year.)

Small centers without access to independent funding – those that serve women with the fewest options – will only be able to weather the storm for so long. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and the ensuing economic downturn, violence against women has been on the rise, with eight out of 10 shelters reporting increases in the number of women seeking help, and 74 percent of domestic violence victims staying in unsafe situations because of economic insecurity.  Demand for these services is increasing, while funding is being cut from every source. Nearly four out of five of domestic violence service providers have reported decreases in government funding over the past five years, and since October 1, many have closed their doors completely or limited their services.

The shutdown is also affecting the safety of women on college and university campuses across the country. An increasing number of institutions are under investigation for ineffective handling of sexual assault cases adjudicated under Title IX.

And with the shutdown, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has suspended investigations into alleged violations and has halted campus visits necessary for holding institutions accountable.  

Food Security

The shutdown threatens the food assistance on which millions of America’s most vulnerable women and children rely. At this point, federal funding for TANF, WIC, and school lunches has been suspended. State and USDA reserve funds are being reallocated so that states can continue to provide these essential services, but they will only be able to function with these limited resources for a short time.

States are shouldering the burden to keep TANF running while the government is shuttered, but last week, 5,200 eligible families in Arizona did not receive their monthly check. Thus far Arizona has been the only state to deny this important benefit for families in need, but every day the program is more strained.

WIC, the federal program that most crucially provides formula and breastfeeding assistance for mothers in need, has also been left in the lurch. On Tuesday, officials announced that no additional WIC vouchers would be issued in the state of North Carolina, where approximately 264,000 women rely on the program. In Utah, the WIC program shut its doors and only reopened four days later because the USDA provided a $2.5 million emergency grant. Other centers are sure to face the same challenges so long as workers are furloughed and grants are on hold.

Economic Security

Head Start programs that provide childcare and education for 7,200 low-income children ages 0-5 did not receive grants due on October 1. Thousands of low-income women are able to go to work every day because their children participate in Head Start programs. Without them, women already struggling in low-wage jobs and lacking benefits are forced to miss work, because no one else is able to care for their children. For women, secure employment is contingent on secure childcare and education for their families. The New York Times reported that programs in six states had closed due to the shutdown and then reopened temporarily thanks to a $10 million gift from a couple in Texas. Head Start will continue as a result of this short-term rescue, but private philanthropy will not be able to do the job of the government over the long term.

In sum, what some define as non-essential government services are, in fact, essential to the economic and physical well-being of America's most vulnerable women and their families. It’s just another variation on the old adage that one man’s public interest may be another’s tyranny – in this instance, largely tyranny over women and children.

Andrea Flynn is a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. She researches and writes about access to reproductive health care in the United States. You can follow her on Twitter @dreaflynn.

Nataya Friedan is a recent graduate of Columbia University working for the Roosevelt Institute’s Women Rising program.

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How to Fight for "Freedom from Want" and Win: A Q&A with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Oct 10, 2013Richard Kirsch
On Wednesday, October 16, the Roosevelt Institute will present the 2013 Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Awards, honoring individuals and organizations whose work exemplifies FDR's vision of democracy. Click here to RSVP for the free public ceremony.

On Wednesday, October 16, the Roosevelt Institute will present the 2013 Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Awards, honoring individuals and organizations whose work exemplifies FDR's vision of democracy. Click here to RSVP for the free public ceremony. Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch spoke to Greg Asbed, Gerardo Reyes, and Nely Rodriguez of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the recipient of this year's Freedom from Want Medal, about their group's unique organizing model.

Richard Kirsch: The Coalition of Immokalee Workers is receiving the Freedom from Want Medal at the Roosevelt Institute's Four Freedoms Awards next week. What does "freedom from want" mean for your members? 

Coalition of Immokalee Workers: For as long as anyone can remember, farmworkers have been this country's worst paid, least protected workers, facing abject poverty, physical abuse, and daily humiliations in the fields. "Freedom from want" for us means not only earning a fair wage for the hard and essential work we do, but being treated with the respect and dignity we have earned through the vital contribution we make to our society every day. A world cannot be considered truly just as long as those who put food on our tables cannot afford to feed their own families.

RK: Can you tell me a little more about the working and living conditions your members faced? 

CIW: For generations, the farmworkers who pick our country’s fruits and vegetables have suffered almost unimaginable human rights violations, from systematic wage theft to sexual harassment and humiliating verbal and physical abuse. These injustices are as well-documented as they are widespread. In the extreme, farmworkers face situations of modern-day slavery – held against their will, under the threat or actual use of violence (beatings, pistol whippings, shootings), and forced to work for little to no pay.

The good news is that the Fair Food Program, through its human rights-based, market-enforced Code of Conduct -- which includes worker-to-worker labor rights education, independent workplace monitoring, and a worker-triggered complaint resolution process – is changing those conditions in the tomato fields of Florida.

RK: "Freedom from want" is more than being free from deprivation. What do your members hope for in their lives? 

CIW: Our members want nothing more, and nothing less, than to lead what most people would consider a "normal" life. Our members want to be able to provide their families with good food, a decent home, and a life they can enjoy together. Today, even though conditions are improving, farm labor remains a job that not only impoverishes workers economically, but socially as well, by demanding that workers be available from before dawn to after dusk.

Farm work steals the hours of the day when families spend time together. Mornings preparing breakfast for your children before school, weekends relaxing around the house or on family outings, those are the moments of which a family life is made. Having to pull up stakes and move the family to follow the harvest, children missing crucial weeks of school and living in a constant state of uncertainty, makes family life more difficult. Stability, dignity, and a measure of economic security are the things we want, not just for ourselves, but more than anything else, for our children. 

RK: FDR railed against the "economic royalists," the corporations, banks, and wealthy individuals of the day who thought they should rule the economy. Who are the economic royalists that CIW is taking on? 

CIW: In today's food system, the kings who would rule our world are the multi-billion dollar retail food companies, from fast-food chains with tens of thousands of restaurants to supermarkets like Walmart, which has food sales greater than its three closest competitors combined. These companies have come to dominate the U.S. produce market, leveraging their unprecedented volume purchasing power to command unsustainably low prices from their suppliers. At the farm level, those ever-lower prices are translated into sub-poverty wages for the workers who harvest the fruits and vegetables sold to these massive chain stores, because labor costs are essentially the only flexible input in raising a crop.

RK: CIW has been remarkably successful in standing up to the economic royalists of the food business, fast food chains, and supermakets. What has been your strategy?

CIW: Our Campaign for Fair Food seeks to harness the volume purchasing power of the food giants and reverse its impact. Where before, their market power created an inexorable downward pressure on farmworker wages and working conditions, that same power, if redirected by consumer demand, can be used to improve wages and require their suppliers to comply with more modern, more humane labor standards. This is not just a theory. It is working today in Florida's tomato fields.

Our Fair Food Program, with its penny-per-pound premium paid by participating retailers going to fund a bonus in workers' weekly paychecks, is designed, in part, to help farmworkers earn a just wage that can support a family. And it is making a dent in farmworker poverty, with over $11 million paid in premiums in since January 2011. But it is also addressing the broader definition of want that we are discussing here by bringing workers increased dignity and the respect that comes from partnering with growers to create a fairer and better industry.

RK: What does it take to get corporations to agree to join the Fair Food Program?

CIW: The Fair Food Program depends on the support of multi-billion dollar fast-food, foodservice, and supermarket chains to work. Without their penny-per-pound premium fueling improved wages, and without their purchasing power buttressing the human rights standards in the Fair Food Code of Conduct, none of the progress we are seeing today in the fight against sexual harassment, wage theft, and even modern-day slavery would be possible. But, unfortunately, it has been our experience that corporations don’t jump to support these changes on their own.

And so it has been necessary to travel across the country educating consumers about what they can do to help. We mobilize major actions -- everything from two-week long marches to week-long fasts -- and local protests where consumers and farmworkers take action, shoulder to shoulder, calling on companies like Publix, Kroger, and Wendy's to join the Fair Food Program and make a real investment in human rights. That consumer demand and public pressure has resulted in11 multi-billion dollar companies signing on to the program and the transformation of the Florida tomato industry from one of the most abusive to one of the most progressive sectors in the U.S. agricultural industry today.

RK: What has been the key to your success?

CIW: The single most important factor in our success is that the Fair Food Program is truly a worker-designed, worker-driven social responsibility program. The vast majority of corporate social responsibility programs are created and controlled by corporations themselves, and so, quite simply, they are designed to protect the corporations' interests. The Fair Food Program, with its principal architect being a workers' organization, has a unique design and structure, all constructed with one goal in mind: to protect farmworkers' rights.

In doing that, the Fair Food Program also improves the agricultural industry as a whole, through direct economic benefits such as lower turnover and increased productivity, and through the marketing advantages created when an otherwise indistinguishable commodity becomes a product that can be differentiated on the supermarket shelf as having been produced under humane conditions. That makes the Fair Food Program uniquely effective as a means for protecting human rights and simultaneously uniquely attractive as a business model for growers and buyers looking to succeed in the 21st century marketplace.

RK: What leadership role do members play in your work?

CIW: When we began organizing in the early 1990s, we had a motto: Todos somos lideres (We are all leaders). That has always been one of our guiding principles, and that is why we have organized -- from day one to this day -- on a foundation of broad-based, grassroots leadership, not around an individual leader. Our leadership comes from the community itself -- young, mostly immigrant leaders whose experience in the fields and on the front lines of our organizing battles are the keys to their ability to assume a leadership role in the CIW.

Our members travel across the country representing the CIW and the Campaign for Fair Food in conferences, churches, universities, and before the press, they lead community meetings and debate strategies, run our community radio station, negotiate with multi-billion dollar corporations, investigate and resolve labor complaints, go undercover to identify modern-day slavery operations, and educate their fellow workers in the fields about their rights under the Fair Food Program. Without a broad and ever-changing base of community leadership, none of this would be possible. 

RK: What can progressives learn from CIW in the struggle to create an economy that is based on people being able to live with dignity? 

CIW: What has worked for us is an unflagging commitment to our vision of a fair food system. We have been fighting for nearly 20 years, and during that time our vision has never changed. We fight for work with dignity, respect in the fields, a just wage that can support a family, and freedom from forced labor. Our organizing has gone through many phases, shifting as our strategies changed, but our goals have remained fixed.

Today, we are making the concrete, measurable, and sustainable changes that we visualized 20 years ago, and that is because we never gave up, never gave in, and never compromised on our core principles. Believe in whatever it is you are fighting for, be steadfast but flexible in how you fight for it, and be willing to walk away from the table when necessary. If your vision is sound and you refuse to give in, you will, ultimately, win.

RK: You started in Florida. What’s next?

CIW: The Fair Food Program was born in Immokalee, Florida, the tomato capital of the state. Florida provides 90 percent of the domestically grown tomatoes consumed in the U.S. from the months of November to May. But the model for worker-led, market-based social responsibility taking root today in Florida's tomato fields is already expanding beyond Florida up the East Coast, and its unique principles and mechanisms are being studied in other crops and other industries.

Richard Kirsch is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, a Senior Adviser to USAction, and the author of Fighting for Our Health. He was National Campaign Manager of Health Care for America Now during the legislative battle to pass reform.

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"Inequality for All" Continues the Conversation That Occupy Began

Oct 8, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

I was one of the lucky ones: I was invited to a preview screening of Inequality for All a few months ago. Since then, I’ve been telling everyone I know that they needed to see this documentary about economic inequality when it hit theaters, which it finally did this month.

I was one of the lucky ones: I was invited to a preview screening of Inequality for All a few months ago. Since then, I’ve been telling everyone I know that they needed to see this documentary about economic inequality when it hit theaters, which it finally did this month.

No one is particularly surprised when I start talking about economic inequality; after all, I work at the Roosevelt Institute. But I emphasized to my friends that this isn’t a film for wonks. It’s a film for everyone, and I’m excited that others are recognizing that, too. Reviewers are raving about the film, calling it “unflinching,” “passionate,” and “essential viewing.” Reich gets rave reviews, too, for giving this issue a witty and affable voice.

Inequality for All is a welcome primer for the discussion of economic inequality that was kicked off by the Occupy movement two years ago. In his review, Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch calls the film “a major milestone” for getting “the core progressive story about what is wrong with the economy” out to the masses. Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline also recently hosted a screening for the film in San Francisco.

Maybe the most powerful thing that Reich hammers home in the film is that “we make the rules of the economy, and we have the power to change those rules.” Inequality for All explains how the rules changed to the advantage of the wealthy. The next step in this conversation is to figure out what we want those rules to be. Find a screening near you, and let us know what changes you think we need to start making.

Rachel Goldfarb is the Roosevelt Institute Communications Associate.

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"Inequality for All" is "The Progressive Economic Narrative: The Movie"

Sep 27, 2013Richard Kirsch

The new film starring Robert Reich delivers a powerful message about what's wrong with the economy, though it may leave viewers wondering what they can do about it.

With the release of the documentary Inequality for All today, the core progressive story about what is wrong with the economy is now on the silver screen. For those of us who have been working to articulate what we call a progressive economic narrative, it is a major milestone.

The new film starring Robert Reich delivers a powerful message about what's wrong with the economy, though it may leave viewers wondering what they can do about it.

With the release of the documentary Inequality for All today, the core progressive story about what is wrong with the economy is now on the silver screen. For those of us who have been working to articulate what we call a progressive economic narrative, it is a major milestone.

The right spent decades projecting their view that prosperity is created through limited government and free markets, concepts that still dominate most Americans’ thinking, even as the American dream is becoming a nightmare for more and more families. The new movie provides a powerful way to popularize a very different story.

Inequality for All is based around a big lecture course that Robert Reich gives at the University of California Berkeley. Reich and the film’s director, Jacob Kornbluth, mix facts, infographics, documentary footage, and profiles of families whose lives have been scarred by the new economy with the personal story of Reich’s lifelong work to push for a just economy, including his frustrations serving as Labor Secretary during President Clinton’s first term. Reich’s personality, his humor, feistiness, and passion, drive the film.

The progressive economic narrative can be encapsulated in four sentences:

  • Working families and the middle class are getting crushed while the super-rich game the system.
  • Working families and the middle class are the engines of the economy.
  • We build a strong middle class through decisions we make together.
  • It’s up to us to build an America that works for all of us.

Inequality for All tells the same story. In the movie, Reich ties the vast increase in income inequality to the loss of unionization, the diversion of economic growth from wages to CEO compensation and profits, the financialization of the economy, cutting taxes for the wealthy, and the failure of government to keep investing in education and infrastructure.

Reich shows how a virtuous cycle of higher wages and productivity, which put more money in consumers’ pockets, thus driving the economy forward and raising revenues for government investment, was replaced by a vicious cycle in which stagnant wages undercut consumer purchasing, leading to lower demand and more layoffs along with declining tax revenues and government spending.

While most Americans know that the rich are getting richer while everyone else is being squeezed, the crucial contribution the movie makes is explaining the two key economic concepts needed to discredit the conservative economic story.

The most powerful messenger for the first concept is not Reich, but Nick Hanauer, a Seattle billionaire, who made his fortune in both the old and new economy. Hanauer’s family business is one of the world’s largest pillow manufacturers, but his latest fortune is as an early Amazon investor. Hanauer tours his pillow-making factory, pointing out that “a person like me who earns 1,000 times as much as the typical American doesn’t buy 1,000 pillows a year. Even the richest person only sleeps on one or two pillows. The pillow business is quite tough, as it is for many, many industries, because fewer and fewer people can afford to buy the products we make.”

When consumers are able to afford a new item, many now go to places like Amazon, which Hanauer points out employs 60,000 employees to achieve the same volume of sales that mom and pop businesses would hire 600,000 for.

The second key concept, hammered home over and over again by Reich, is “We make the rules of the economy and we have the power to change those rules.” He says his first studies of economics, as a Rhodes Scholar, taught him that there was “no such thing as a perfectly free market anywhere. Government sets the rules by which the market functions… The real question is who do these rules benefit and who they hurt.”

The driving narrative behind Inequality for All, and the most important point for people to learn, is that the crushing of the middle class did not happen by accident; it happened because of decisions that were made by business and government. Reich’s message is that we can make different decisions to create an economy of shared prosperity.

The last third of the movie emphasizes that the biggest obstacle to change is the capturing of our democracy by big money. Reich, who is the chair of Common Cause, warns that because of the “threat to democracy” from the rising concentration of wealth, “we are seeing an entire society that is starting to pull apart.”

Reich concludes with a call for building a movement, telling a personal story of why he became an activist. Reich, who is less than five feet tall, was saved from bullying by an older schoolmate, Mickey Schwerner, who was murdered along with two other young civil rights volunteers in Philadelphia, Mississippi in 1964. That event, Reich says, changed his life.

His final charge to his students is a call to action: “You've got to mobilize, you've got to organize, you've got to energize other people. Politics is not out there. It starts here…. History is on the side of positive social change… You can be a leader.”

The biggest weakness of the film, which undercuts his hopeful conclusion, is that Reich does not propose any specific solutions. He says that “policy ideas are plentiful” but doesn’t provide them. As a result, the call for action may ring hollow. Action toward what? I know that one group of Millennials who saw a preview came away feeling both educated and discouraged. The movie would have benefited mightily from connecting to movements for change.

Reich and Inequality for All’s distributors are trying to make up for that through their website, which moviegoers will see as the film ends. The website links to actions people can take and organizations people can work with on six broad issues: raising the minimum wage; strengthening workers’ voices; investing in education; reforming Wall Street; fixing the tax system; and getting big money out of politics. Progressive groups are sponsoring showings of the film, and the website invites people to arrange for a showing at a theater in their communities. I hope many local progressive organizations will sponsor showings and engage the audience in a discussion afterward on how they can take action.

Still, Inequality for All is a powerful narrative vehicle for the progressive story about why income inequality is not just unfair, but the driving force behind the fading American dream and the fraying of our democracy. In his passionate final charge to his class, Reich offers one version of the core progressive idea, “we all do better when we all do better.” Hearing that message on the big screen, released by a Hollywood powerhouse like the Weinstein Group, is an affirmation that our history may indeed be moving toward positive social change.  

Richard Kirsch is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, a Senior Adviser to USAction, and the author of Fighting for Our Health. He was National Campaign Manager of Health Care for America Now during the legislative battle to pass reform.

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Inequality Broke the Economy. How Can We Fix It in New York City?

Sep 26, 2013Nell Abernathy

The Roosevelt Institute's Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative, Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline, and the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute recently convened a panel of local policy experts to discuss inequality in New York and how the next mayor can address it. Watch the video below.

The Roosevelt Institute's Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative, Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline, and the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute recently convened a panel of local policy experts to discuss inequality in New York and how the next mayor can address it. Watch the video below.

“The economy is broken and inequality broke it,” James Parrott, Chief Economist at the Fiscal Policy Institute, said Tuesday night at the Roosevelt Institute’s forum on Inequality in New York.

The divide between the rich and the poor in New York and across the nation is not an inevitable consequence of technology, globalization, or even human capital, each of the panelists reiterated. “This is the result of policy choices,” Parrott continued. Learn more about what the next mayor should do to tackle inequality and how he can pay for it by watching the video of the event below:

Maya Wiley, Founder and President of the Center for Social Inclusion, emphasized the role of government in creating opportunity. “Fundamentally what we’ve had is a narrative that government gets in the way, rather than recognizing that we created a middle class in this country beginning with the New Deal, continuing with the Fair Deal, based on a series of policies that brought it into being in the mid-20th century. By and large, the middle class as we know it today didn’t even exist until the middle of the 20th century. And we forget that. It wasn’t some natural occurrence.”

Tsedeye Gebreselassie, Staff Attorney at the National Employment Law Project, said a key driver of inequality in New York City has been the stagnation of wages for the working and middle class. New York’s current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour equates to an annual income of $15,000 a year. Our next mayor, she argued, should work with Albany and the City Council to increase the city’s minimum wage, following the example of other high-cost cities like San Francisco, which has a floor of $10.55 an hour.

“Depending on how high you raise that wage, you could impact nearly a million workers living in the city,” said Gebreselassie. “It’s a tremendous policy in terms of boosting the wage floor across the low-wage labor market and putting money in the hands of people who will spend it immediately at local business, giving a stimulative effect to our economy as a whole.”

Lawrence Aber, a professor of psychology and public policy at NYU, said the next mayor should focus public investment on poor children ages 0-5. “We now know that poverty literally gets under the skin and into the mind.” Under-nourishment during the first few years reduces human development and puts children at a lifelong disadvantage. Every dollar invested to beef up New York’s existing child health programs, he explained, goes much further than public money spent to correct developmental challenges further down the road.

When an audience member questioned panelists about how they planned to pay for their proposed programs, answers varied.

The next mayor could use budget policy to reshuffle priorities. For example, tax breaks for real estate development in New York grew 180 percent under Mayor Bloomberg’s administration, to a total of $3 billion a year, Wiley said. Given the booming nature of New York’s real estate market, that public money could be better spent. Aber said the next mayor could use the bully pulpit to advocate for a shift in national budget priorities.

While an increase in local revenue cannot fund all the panelists’ priorities, there is room to raise taxes on the city’s top income bracket, Parrott said. Critics of progressive policy often cite income tax data to emphasize the percentage of city taxes paid by the rich, but Parrott showed that when property taxes and sales taxes are included, the rich, in fact, pay only 25.2 percent of the city’s tax burden while taking home 33.8 percent of total income.

The breadth of the challenge can be daunting, but panel moderator David Jones, President and CEO of Community Service Society, sounded a message of optimism. "I don't know if a decade ago we could gather this many people together to talk about this as a critical issue," he told an audience that had filled both auditorium and overflow room. "This is obviously a pivotal moment where people are taking this seriously."

Join Jeff Madrick, Director of Rediscovering Government, at the Frances Perkins Center in Portland, ME on October 4 for "Rediscovering Government: Making People Matter." The Frances Perkins Center will present Ai-jen Poo with its Intelligence and Courage Award and Sally Greenberg with its Steadfast Award, and Madrick will moderate a panel discussion. More information here.

Nell Abernathy is the Program Manager for the Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative.

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Why New York is Home to So Many of the Working Poor, in Graphs

Sep 16, 2013Nell Abernathy

The Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative is trying to understand how New York got so unequal. And we're looking for solutions.

The Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative is trying to understand how New York got so unequal. And we're looking for solutions.

So what is behind this big shift toward income inequality in New York? Income trends in the city represent an amplified version of our national problems: low-wage jobs without benefits are replacing middle-wage jobs that could support families. Nationwide, middle-wage jobs constituted 60 percent of the jobs lost during the Great Recession and only 22 percent of those regained during recovery, according to analysis from Roosevelt Institute’s Annette Bernhardt at NELP. Meanwhile, low-wage jobs made up only 21 percent of recession job losses and 58 percent of jobs gained since.

The national trend started well before the Great Recession.

And in New York, it’s been the same, but worse. A 2012 report from the Federal Reserve found that middle-income jobs comprised 67 percent of employment in downstate New York in the 1980s, but by 2010, that number fell to 55.8 percent.

Top that off with the fact that for the last decade, wages have risen for the top 5 percent and stagnated or fallen for middle- and low-income workers, and you begin to see the currents driving our inequality crisis.

Why is this happening? Technology? Wall Street? Policy? Education?

We’ll explore those questions and potential solutions at our upcoming panel, "Inequality in New York: The Next Mayor’s Challenge."

Nell Abernathy is the Program Manager for the Roosevelt Institute's Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative.

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The 2 Train Travels Between New York's "Two Cities"

Sep 13, 2013Nell Abernathy

New York City is as starkly divided along economic lines as it is connected by its famous subway lines.  The Roosevelt Institute is looking for solutions.

New York City is as starkly divided along economic lines as it is connected by its famous subway lines.  The Roosevelt Institute is looking for solutions.

Another fun/depressing/informative infographic on New York City’s stunning wealth divide: Back in April, before the election was heating up, the good people at The New Yorker plotted the diverging extremes in median income of New York neighborhoods along the subway lines. It turns out you can actually ride the 2 train from prosperity to poverty.

The neighborhood surrounding the 2 train Chambers Street stop in Tribeca  has a median income of $205,192 and is among the city's wealthiest.

Fourteen miles further north, around the East 180th Street stop in the Bronx, median income is $13,750. For those who think income is irrelevant as long as you can access the American dream, opportunities aren't so great up there, either.

 Come learn about solutions from the experts at our September 24 event, "Inequality in New York: the Next Mayor’s Challenge."

Nell Abernathy is the Program Manager for the Roosevelt Institute's Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative.

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Daily Digest - September 12: Reducing Inequality Isn't Impossible

Sep 12, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

The Richest Nab The Greatest Share of Income Recovered (All In With Chris Hayes)

Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

The Richest Nab The Greatest Share of Income Recovered (All In With Chris Hayes)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz discusses the ways that the labor market and financial systems have contributed to income inequality's growth. He talks about short-term solutions, like appointing a Fed chair who will focus on full employment.

Report: The Rich Are Now Richer Than Ever (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger reports on a study showing that the vast bulk of the recovery has gone to the wealthiest Americans. Rising corporate profits and stock prices don't help the middle and lower classes.

Moving Past the Low-Wage Social Contract (Reuters)

Josh Freedman argues that for decades our social contract has used tax credits and subsidies to help low wage workers and encourage lower prices, and it isn't working. Tax credits don't reduce income inequality or increase income mobility.

Top California Lawmakers Back Raising Minimum Wage (NYT)

With the leaders of the legislature and the governor backing the bill, Ian Lovett reports that California is almost certain to pass the nation's highest minimum wage by Friday. The bill will raise the minimum wage to $9 on July 1, 2013, and to $10 on January 1, 2016.

The Real Reason the Poor Go Without Bank Accounts (Atlantic Cities)

Lisa Servon discusses her research on why some people prefer check cashers, despite the fees involved. She finds that check cashers may serve people living on the edge better, because there's no risk of cascading fees for overdrawn accounts.

Government-Shutdown Crisis Proceeding on Schedule (TAP)

Paul Waldman reports that if Tea Party Republicans have their way, we'll be headed for a shutdown in October. Of course, that isn't going to help the GOP's reputation with voters, but defunding Obamacare is more important then keeping government programs funded.

Five Years After the Crisis, These 13 Charts Show What’s Fixed and What Isn’t. (WaPo)

Neil Irwin presents data on what has and hasn't changed in the five years since Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. He claims that this data makes a persuasive argument that today's financial system is more stable then before.

New on Next New Deal

Three Graphs That Show Why Inequality Matters in the New York City Mayoral Race

Nell Abernathy, Program Manager for the Roosevelt Institute's Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative, shares some charts that explain why inequality (or as Mayor Bloomberg puts it, "class warfare") is so important in the NYC mayoral race.

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Daily Digest - September 11: "What Is Going On With This Internet Thing?"

Sep 11, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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New Mockumentary Addresses Net Neutrality (Marketplace)

Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

New Mockumentary Addresses Net Neutrality (Marketplace)

Ben Johnson discusses the new mockumentary The Internet Must Go with Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford, who is featured. The film, available on YouTube, looks at the question of "what is going with this Internet thing" from a Colbert-esque perspective.

Verizon Challenges Open Internet Rules in Court (U.S. News & World Report)

Tom Risen spoke to Crawford about Verizon v. FCC, which will determine whether the FCC can require ISPs to maintain net neutrality. Crawford sees Verizon's desire for "VIP" website clients, who pay for priority access, as antithetical to the idea of the Internet.

The Rich Get Richer Through the Recovery (NYT)

Annie Lowrey reports on an updated study that shows that the wealthiest American earners took record-setting percentages of the country's total income in 2012. Overall, the 1 percent have captured about 95 percent of income gains in the recovery.

5 Years Later, We've Learned Nothing From the Financial Crisis (The Atlantic)

James Kwak asks why there hasn't been significant change in financial regulation. Financial stability lacks public support, and without the structural reforms that were discussed in 2009 and 2010, he thinks it's just a matter of when the next crisis hits.

How the Cult of Shareholder Value Wrecked American Business (WaPo)

Steven Pearlstein argues that there is no historical basis for the supposed imperative for companies to maximize short-term shareholder profits. He suggests policy changes that could influence corporate behavior toward other values, like social welfare and long-term profits.

Unions—Not Just for Middle-Aged White Guys Anymore (TAP)

Harold Meyerson reports that this week's AFL-CIO convention is the first he's attended that looks like union membership, which is less white and less male then ever before. He's also excited by a new emphasis on community coalition building.

US Labor Secretary: 'The American Workplace Has Evolved' (The Nation)

Josh Eidelson spoke to Thomas Perez following his speech at the AFL-CIO convention yesterday. They discuss the changes in the American workplace to include home-based work, and ways in which labor law can respond to that shift.

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Daily Digest - September 10: Labor Looks for Growth

Sep 10, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Union Chief Calls for a 'Reawakening' (The Hill)

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Union Chief Calls for a 'Reawakening' (The Hill)

Kevin Bogardus looks at the AFL-CIO's plan to reinvigorate the labor movement. He speaks to Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren, who says that giving more organizations membership in the federation is meant to signal a desire to make the movement broader.

Verizon-F.C.C. Court Fight Takes On Regulating Net (NYT)

Edward Wyatt speaks to Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford, who asks whether the U.S. government has good reason to keep the Internet open and accessible. She says yes, as does the F.C.C., but Verizon claims that limiting Internet access is free speech.

‘Our agenda is America’s agenda,’ Warren Tells Unions (MSNBC)

Ned Resnikoff looks at Senator Warren's speech at the AFL-CIO convention on Sunday, in which she called for a minimum wage increase, stricter financial regulation, and more. It's difficult to disagree with the AFL-CIO President's sentiment: "If we could only clone her."

Indiana Right-to-Work Law Ruled Unconstitutional by State Judge (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Andrew Harris reports on the ruling, which overturned a law making it a crime to charge union dues as a condition of employment. It turns out that it's unconstitutional to require a union to provide services to workers without compensation.

The Demolition of Brewster-Douglass and Our Abandonment of the Working Poor (Pacific Standard)

Anna Clark looks at the history of the first federally funded public housing project for African Americans, which has its origins in the New Deal. She sees the shift from public housing to Section 8 vouchers as part of a larger policy shift that ignores the needs of the poor.

Left With Nothing (WaPo)

Michael Sallah, Debbie Cenziper, and Steven Rich investigate a DC practice of selling liens on delinquent property tax bills, which has led to over 500 foreclosures. In one case, a 76 year old man with dementia lost the home he had owned outright for 20 years over an $134 tax bill.

Republicans Try to Cut Food Stamps as 15% of U.S. Households Face Hunger (The Atlantic)

Jordan Weissmann reports that while the economy is slowly recovering, food insecurity is holding steady. Meanwhile, the GOP wants to cut at least $40 billion from SNAP over the next ten years, which would kick 4 to 6 million Americans off the rolls.

The Cost of Cash, for the Rich and the Poor (The New Yorker)

David Wolman looks at a study on the costs of obtaining cash, in time and money. Low-income individuals spend more time and more money obtaining their money then anyone else, and they can't really spare the change.

 

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