Daily Digest - August 30: More Labor Organizing for the Holiday

Aug 30, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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A New Dawn for Labor Day (BeyondChron)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Annette Bernhardt considers the importance and significance of the August 29 fast food strikes. The growth of these strikes and other labor organizing shows a new hunger for worker representation on the job.

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A New Dawn for Labor Day (BeyondChron)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Annette Bernhardt considers the importance and significance of the August 29 fast food strikes. The growth of these strikes and other labor organizing shows a new hunger for worker representation on the job.

Economic Justice to the Fore (ACSblog)

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow for Equal Justice Erik Lampmann reflects on the March on Washington. He's particularly excited by the energy that youth movements like Dream Defenders and the Black Youth Project bring to the modern fight for civil rights.

National Fast Food Strike Hits Dozens of Cities (MSNBC)

Ned Resnikoff reports on the importance of the fast food strikes' growth into Southern cities. He quotes Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren, who says that the involvement of Southern workers is proof that this movement is truly national now.

Feminism's Sticky Fast-Food Floor (The Daily Beast)

Sally Kohn thinks that as great as it is that some women are breaking through the glass ceiling, feminists can't forget about the women stuck in low-wage jobs. Leaning in against economic inequality helps far more women then leaning in on Wall Street.

Why I'm on Strike Today: I Can't Support Myself on $7.85 at Burger King (The Guardian)

Willietta Dukes writes that in her fifteen years of working in fast food, she's never missed a shift or arrived late, until yesterday's strike. Between low wages, limited hours, and erratic scheduling, she can't pay for basic necessities - like her mortgage.

New on Next New Deal

Why Unions are Essential to Tackling the Technology Challenge to Good Jobs

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch says that technology isn't eliminating more "abstract" intellectual jobs, but it is keeping people in low-wage low-skill work. That makes labor organizing essential to ensure those jobs retain dignity and fair pay.

What Works: Roosevelt Institute Recommendations for Labor Day Weekend

Looking for something to read or watch this Labor Day weekend? The Roosevelt Institute staff and Fellows provide their suggestions for books, films, poems, and more with a compelling take on labor issues. Enjoy the holiday weekend!

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To Restore the New Deal, Government Must Earn Young Americans’ Trust

Aug 29, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

The Greater Boston network of Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline hosted a discussion on the State of the New Deal, and what needs to change for Millennials to support similar programs today.

The Greater Boston network of Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline hosted a discussion on the State of the New Deal, and what needs to change for Millennials to support similar programs today.

On Tuesday night, the Greater Boston network of Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline gathered for a panel discussion on “The State of the New Deal,” reflecting on President Roosevelt's historic achievements and considering what could come next. Pipeline, a national network of young people in their 20s and 30s collectively organizing to engineer innovative policies and promote effective civic leadership in their communities, convened a multigenerational panel to discuss what’s become of the New Deal safety net, and what would be needed to create similar programs today.

The program opened with David Woolner, a Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Resident Hyde Park Historian, providing some historical context: FDR's legacy, the political environment of the day, and how the New Deal was perceived when it was happening. One of the most important thing he noted was that FDR worked in a far less politically divided era: some of the strongest supporters of New Deal programs were moderate Republicans. It’s much harder to pass any legislation in today’s Congress.

Following his keynote, Woolner joined Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz and Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network National Field Strategist Joelle Gamble for a panel moderated by Roosevelt Institute President Felicia Wong, where they expanded the discussion to today's issues: health care, student debt, Occupy, low-wage work, and more. They probed at the relationship between Americans and their government today, which is often one of distrust and skepticism. As Woolner explained, with the dismantling of much of the New Deal in the Reagan era, government was no longer a creator of economic opportunity.

Aronowitz focused on the question of economic security, posing the question of why Millennials should trust government to work for them. “They're craving … this baseline of economic security,” and aren't seeing any way to get it, she said. Were government to help create that baseline, it would be easier to see the potential for other New Deal-style programs. She was also skeptical of the Occupy movement, noting that while the Tea Party and Occupy are frequently compared as political extremes, the anti-establishment and anti-leadership nature of Occupy means that they have limited political power. Meanwhile, Tea Party Republicans like Ted Cruz work against more moderate policymakers to prevent legislation and control the right's agenda.

Gamble presented the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network's “Government By and For Millennial America” project as proof that it is possible to create a government that would speak to Millennial ideas and needs. This government would be an innovator, a lawmaker, and a steward of the common good, and would truly engage all citizens. Unfortunately, she noted, for most Millennials their first real encounter with government systems is with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and federal student loans. FAFSA is often seen as a frustrating system, and student loan servicers as even worse. Woolner noted in his introduction that “what Roosevelt accomplished was a complete transformation of the relationship between the federal government and the American people,” and it's hard to imagine a similarly positive relationship today – especially if the student loan system is how people form their impression of government.

The question and answer session demonstrated the insight and engagement of the audience. The Affordable Care Act was a topic of serious discussion, and Aronowitz pointed out that for many middle-class Millennials, it doesn't seem to help much. Woolner passed the mic to James Roosevelt Jr., Franklin and Eleanor’s grandson and an attorney who works on health care, who argued that “if Obamacare succeeds, it will be the New Deal success of our lifetime.” His comment echoed one of the common themes that threaded through the discussion: Millennials need some proof that these programs will help before they will buy in fully. If the Affordable Care Act does lower costs and make insurance more accessible, it could lead to broader support of other programs, like infrastructure-based jobs programs.

After the event, I spoke with some attendees who are involved in Boston-area politics. They seemed to mostly agree: buy-in is tough. Creating change is tough. But the people I spoke to and those posing questions seemed determined to work together and create something new. They want to trust in government to create the safety net needed for that baseline of economic security that Aronowitz brought up early on. They want government to demonstrate that it’s ready to be an equal partner in decreasing economic inequality. It’s just a matter of figuring out the next steps toward that goal.

For more information on Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline, visit their website. The Pipeline | New York network will be hosting a screening of the documentary “My Brooklyn” on September 16th at Brooklyn Borough Hall. Click here for more information and to RSVP.

Rachel Goldfarb is the Roosevelt Institute Communications Associate.

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Why Unions are Essential to Tackling the Technology Challenge to Good Jobs

Aug 29, 2013Richard Kirsch

New technology is keeping more and more workers stuck in low-wage jobs, and it's society's responsibility to make sure those jobs still have dignity and fair wages.

New technology is keeping more and more workers stuck in low-wage jobs, and it's society's responsibility to make sure those jobs still have dignity and fair wages.

With robots taking over factories and warehouses, toll collectors and cashiers increasingly being replaced by automation and even legal researchers being replaced by computers, the age-old question of whether technology is a threat to jobs is back with us big time. Technological change has been seen as a threat to jobs for centuries, but the history tells that while technology has destroyed some jobs, the overall impact has been to create new jobs, often in new industries. Will that be true after the information revolution as it was in the industrial revolution?

In an article in The New York Times, David Autor and David Dorn, who have just published research on this question, argue that the basic history remains the same: while many jobs are being disrupted, new jobs are being created and many jobs will not be replaceable by computers. While there is good news in their analysis for some in the middle-class, their findings reinforce the need to organize workers in lower-skilled jobs to demand decent wages.

The authors’ research found that while routine jobs are being replaced by computers, the number of both “abstract” and “manually intensive” jobs increased. In their article in the Times, the authors describe the new jobs:

At one end are so-called abstract tasks that require problem-solving, intuition, persuasion and creativity. These tasks are characteristic of professional, managerial, technical and creative occupations, like law, medicine, science, engineering, advertising and design. People in these jobs typically have high levels of education and analytical capability, and they benefit from computers that facilitate the transmission, organization and processing of information.

On the other end are so-called manual tasks, which require situational adaptability, visual and language recognition, and in-person interaction. Preparing a meal, driving a truck through city traffic or cleaning a hotel room present mind-bogglingly complex challenges for computers. But they are straightforward for humans, requiring primarily innate abilities like dexterity, sightedness and language recognition, as well as modest training. These workers can’t be replaced by robots, but their skills are not scarce, so they usually make low wages.

As the authors conclude, “This bifurcation of job opportunities has contributed to the historic rise in income inequality.”

When it comes to addressing this attack on the middle-class, the authors offer some hope, but not for those low-wage workers. They argue that a large number of skilled jobs, requiring specialized training – although not necessarily a college education –will not be replaceable by computers. These include people who care for our health like medical paraprofessionals, people who care for our buildings like plumbers, people who help us use technology (I was on chatting on-line just yesterday to get tech support), and many others. Because these jobs do require higher levels of skills, they should be able to demand middle-class wages.

But what about those housekeepers, delivery truck drivers and fast food workers, like those who are taking actions around the country today against fast food chains to demand better pay. The authors do not offer a path to the middle-class for them.

If history is an example here as well, we should remember that lower-skilled work does not have to come with low pay. The workers who stood on assembly lines in the 1930s did not have a college education or years of specialized training; they fought for the right to organize unions and demanded high enough wages to support their families.

This Labor Day, as more and more workers are stuck in the growing number of low-wage jobs, causing enormous stress for their families while keeping the economy sluggish, we need to look to the examples of new ways of organizing workers who can not be replaced by technology. There’s the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, who organized drivers to successfully win living wages and a health and disability fund. Or the successful boycott of Hyatt Hotels, leading to an agreement with UNITE HERE to not fight organizing campaigns in their hotels.

We need to support organizing by modernizing our labor laws to account for the large number of workers not currently or adequately protected, the new ways that work is organized, and the global economy.

The lesson from the Autor-Dorn research is that technology doesn’t have to destroy the middle-class. What will destroy the middle-class is our failure as a society to provide dignity to all workers. That’s what fast-food workers and their community-labor supporters are fighting for across the country.

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.

 

Robotic arms in factory banner image via Shutterstock.com 

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Daily Digest - August 29: Economists' Inspiration in the March on Washington

Aug 29, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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How Dr. King Shaped My Work in Economics (NYT)

Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

How Dr. King Shaped My Work in Economics (NYT)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz remembers the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and reflects on the gap between the goals and aspirations of that march and what we have accomplished today. A black President, he notes, isn't everything.

NYT (Susan Crawford)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford examines the flaws in a recent New York Times article on high-speed Internet access. Without going into the extremely high costs of Internet access, it missed a big part of the connectivity problem.

Dr. King, Full Employment, and Some Provocative Wage Trends (On The Economy)

Jared Bernstein says Dr. King's was right to call for full employment to reach economic justice . The only progress made towards increasing real wages for African American workers in southern states was in the low unemployment years of the late 1990s.

What Obama Didn’t Say in His March on Washington Speech (The Daily Beast)

Jamelle Bouie thinks that while the President understood the importance of economic justice in the original March on Washington, he left out much of the modern issue. The wealth gap between African-Americans and whites won't be closed with general economic fairness.

Five Reasons for Optimism About Unions This Labor Day (The Hill)

John Logan is excited about the labor movement going into the holiday, because unions are becoming more popular, more flexible, and more open then they have been in some time. It's a conveniently-timed turning point for labor supporters.

Why Business Needs a Stronger Labor Movement (MSNBC)

Timothy Noah argues that the increasing claim of capital on corporate income over labor is destroying growth. Stronger unions would force business back on track by shifting more income to labor, where it belongs if we want the economy to grow.

Another Failed Drug-Test Experiment (Maddow Blog)

Steve Benen reports that Utah is following in the footsteps of Florida by mandating drug screening for welfare applicants. They're also following Florida into failure: the state has spent $30 grand to eliminate only twelve applicants out of thousands.

New on Next New Deal

Fifty Years After the March on Washington, Equality Remains a Dream

Jim Carr, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, writes that we haven't accomplished nearly enough in the past fifty years. Some old problems have been solved, but economic opportunity is still unequal and disproportionately divides along racial lines.

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Fifty Years After the March on Washington, Equality Remains a Dream

Aug 28, 2013Jim Carr

We've made progress on addressing many blatant injustices since 1963, but people of color still don't have an equal opportunity to succeed.

We've made progress on addressing many blatant injustices since 1963, but people of color still don't have an equal opportunity to succeed.

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s electrifying speech at that event was inspiring and unforgettable. Those remarks, combined with hundreds of thousands of people on the National Mall marching for jobs and freedom, seemed to electrify American society to its core. As President Bill Clinton recently remarked, “I remember thinking that, when it was over, my country would never be the same.”

Over the five decades since the March on Washington, much has changed. No longer do black students require National Guard escorts to enter the school of their choice. No longer are protesters for civil or human rights at risk of being beaten or attacked by dogs for exercising their constitutional right to challenge unfair or otherwise unwise laws.

No longer are jobs and opportunity blatantly denied on the basis of an individual’s race or ethnicity, gender, physical appearance, or sexual preference. No longer are America’s cities burning. And perhaps most significantly, no longer is the office of the President of the United States off-limits to an African American.

Yet in spite of these and many other successes that have been achieved over the past five decades, much of the forward momentum seems unsustainable, or old problems are replaced with new ones that continue to deny opportunities disproportionately to people of color.

Take, for example, the fact that our cities are no longer burning in protest to blatant acts of discrimination and denial of civil rights. While that’s true, the city of Detroit has never recovered from the tumultuous days of the 1960s. In fact, Detroit has continued to decay, literally, into bankruptcy. The city’s official unemployment rate was a staggering 16 percent in April 2013, with a black unemployment rate over 20 percent. And Detroit is not alone among cities with exceptionally high black unemployment rates.

The acceleration of the exodus of non-Hispanic white families from the nation’s inner cities, in part to avoid integration after passage of the major Civil Rights laws, combined with the relocation of manufacturing jobs first to the suburbs and later overseas, has created urban economic deserts that deny opportunities as powerfully as any segregationist policies.

National Guard troops no longer stand in front of school houses to block admission—they do not have to. Racial and ethnic residential segregation in many of the nation’s largest cities is so high that black and Latino students do not live within physical proximity of isolated non-Hispanic white suburban enclaves in sufficient numbers to achieve meaningful school integration.

Furthermore, the cost of college tuition is so high these days that no armed presence is needed to prevent young African Americans or Latinos from entering. The majority of African American and Latino students cannot afford access the nation’s major universities even where they meet the academic standards.

In fact, economic deprivation is so great among blacks and Latinos that race is used as a reliable proxy for exploitation by financial firms. Leading up to the recent collapse of the housing market, subprime lenders disproportionately targeted African American and Latino communities for their reckless and irresponsible high-cost loans. They generated huge profits while originating loans that were designed to fail.

The subsequent loss of homeownership among African Americans and Latinos has been the largest contributor to a staggering loss of wealth for African American and Latino households during the Great Recession. Latino and black households have lost two-thirds and more than half of their net wealth, respectively. The result is that today, the racial wealth gap between blacks and non-Hispanic whites, and Latinos and non-Hispanic whites, is greater than it was two decades ago.

Over the next decade, seven of ten new households will be headed by a person of color. In fact, already, the majority of babies born in America are of color. Yet the majority of their economic futures are not promising.

This dramatic shift in the composition of the nation’s population gives even greater impetus now than was the case a half century ago for America to become a more economically inclusive society. Today, economic equality is as much an issue of economic competitiveness and national security, for example, as it is social justice. After all, how can America maintain its economic and military leadership role in the world if the fastest growing segments of the population, i.e., people of color, remain economically marginalized?

In spite of the success we have achieved as a nation in breaking down the barriers to opportunities based on racial or ethnic bias, we remain far from Dr. King’s dream and vision of a just and equitable society.

Jim Carr is a Distinguished Scholar with The Opportunity Agenda and Senior Fellow with the Center for American Progress. He is also co-editor of Segregation: The Rising Costs for America.

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California's Community Colleges Teach Us How to Make Education More Affordable

Aug 26, 2013Kevin Feliciano

As President Obama's proposals for curbing higher education costs develop, we should look to similar experiments on the state level as a guide to best practices.

As President Obama's proposals for curbing higher education costs develop, we should look to similar experiments on the state level as a guide to best practices.

Last week, President Obama released a plan to combat rising college costs and make college affordable for American families. The president’s plan outlines three proposals: tying federal student aid to college performance based on yet-to-be developed college rankings; promoting innovation and completion by instituting a college scorecard that would give consumers clear, transparent information on college performance to help them make the decisions that work best for them; and ensuring that student debt remains affordable by expanding eligibility for the Pay As You Earn repayment program. While this federal push is new, many of the ideas have already been tried and tested on the state level, and California's community college system in particular provides some important data on what we should expect as these proposals are developed.

As a student who has attended community college and is attending a public university, I applaud President Obama for taking this step toward ensuring an affordable higher education for all. I know firsthand how the middle class has been affected by access and affordability issues. My family had a high enough income to make me ineligible for most federal and state financial aid until I was 24 years old, which is the age of independence. I relied on scholarships, money saved from working multiple jobs, and the support of my parents. I was also fortunate to attend a California community college, which charged an enrollment fee of only $18-46 per unit, depending on the term. My friends were not so lucky.

The cost of a California community college education is deceptive. The current rate of $46 per unit remains the lowest, by far, in the nation, but the other costs associated with an education (room and board, child care, textbooks, transportation costs) can easily amount to over $17,000 per year according to the Institute for College Access and Success. I know students who left community college to transfer to a four-year institution with at least $11,000 in student loan debt.

In the 2011-12 academic year, the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges convened a 20-member task force on student success, which was comprised of stakeholders from across the system, including faculty, staff, and two students. The Student Success Task Force (SSTF) published 22 recommendations, some of which are similar to the president’s proposals.

Many of these initiatives have already begun to be incorporated into the system, like putting more responsibility on students for their academic performance and ensuring that they are making progress toward their degrees or goals. The Student Success Act of 2012 specifically incorporated one of the SSTF recommendations, which required students to make satisfactory academic progress every term in order to remain eligible for a waiver of enrollment fees. These academic and progress standards are in addition to existing standards required to receive federal and state financial aid. The provision took effect January 1, 2013, and has a goal similar to the president’s: to encourage students to complete their degrees or attain their goals within a reasonable time frame.

President Obama proposes that we empower students with information about the colleges with his new ranking system. The SSTF introduced the Student Success Scorecard in 2013, which provides information on a college’s retention rate; graduation rate; transfer rate; completion rate; success rates of remedial math, remedial English, and English as a second language; and career technical education students, all broken down by gender, age, and ethnicity. The scorecard allows colleges and students to see their progress and make side-by-side comparisons between institutions. This was not intended to help students decide which college to attend, but to assist colleges in narrowing achievement gaps.

The president’s proposal for student loan debt expands the eligibility of the Pay As You Earn program, which caps federal loan payments at 10 percent of discretionary income, to all borrowers. Student loan debt has exceeded the $1 trillion mark in 2013, surpassing credit card debt, and many students go for years without paying off their student loan debt because they can’t afford a car loan or mortgage in addition to student loan repayments. With student loans still excluded from bankruptcy, a predictable student loan repayment plan is important to allow graduates to better plan their financial future.

One particularly concerning facet of this proposal is the intention to tie financial aid to college performance. The proposal indicates that the new college ratings would be used to “compare colleges with similar missions and identify colleges that do the most to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as colleges that are improving their performance.” Institutional, state, and federal financial aid should help students focus on their studies without worrying about how to pay the bills. If students attending a high-performing college receive larger Pell Grants and more affordable student loans, what happens to students at lower-performing schools? Taking aid from those whose options are limited and giving it to colleges and students with greater means does not increase access to affordable, quality higher education. It has the potential to do the exact opposite.

There is still much to be done in order to ensure that colleges work to improve the quality of education they offer, not just increase graduation and transfer rates. President Obama has stated that the Department of Education will be holding public forums on the development of the metrics and proposed policies to gather as much input from stakeholders and the public as possible. The president was correct that a higher education is the single most important investment a student can make in his or her own future; to that end, students must be included in this process. We should learn from California’s example, search for best practices, and learn from one other to better prepare our students and make college more affordable for everyone.

Kevin Feliciano is the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Western Regional Co-Coordinator, and is studying Public Affairs and Administration at California State University, East Bay.

 

"Welcome to California" sign image via Shutterstock.com

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New Orleans's Youth Unemployment Problem Demands a Government Solution

Aug 22, 2013Jeff MadrickNell Abernathy

The federal government has let New Orleans down in the past, but it can still provide equal opportunity for the city's next generation.

The federal government has let New Orleans down in the past, but it can still provide equal opportunity for the city's next generation.

Our federal government has failed New Orleans more dramatically than any other U.S. city, and the growing number of unemployed and undereducated young adults is one more example of our failure to deliver on the promise of equal opportunity for all. With 23 percent of 18-24 year olds neither working nor in school, New Orleans’s rate of youth disconnection from social institutions far exceeds the national average. Nevertheless, cynicism is not a solution. Creating new opportunities for young Americans will require us to use every tool at our disposal, and that includes active and effective government.

These “opportunity youth," ages 16-24, are more likely than their peers to be poor and unemployed as adults. Neglecting these young people costs New Orleans taxpayers hundreds of millions in lost income annually and billions over a lifetime.

Maybe more important, these young people are deprived of the fundamental dignity of work and education. Still, most remain motivated to succeed. 85 percent say that it is extremely important to have a good job or career in order to live the life they want,and most opportunity youth are willing to work toward their goals, with 77 percent agreeing that getting a good job or good education is their personal responsibility, according to a 2011 survey conducted by Civic Enterprises.

With government missing in action, a network of effective non-profit organizations is leading the effort to equip these young people with the skills and support they need. In just seven years, New Orleans’s Youth Empowerment Project has grown from a small program serving 25 children to a locally renowned organization helping close to 1,000 at-risk youth a year. The Urban League of Greater New Orleans is expanding mentoring and training programs designed to connect teens with trade or college education. And Partnership for Youth Development, which coordinates over 180 local programs to better serve these opportunity youth, was selected by the Aspen Institute in June to pilot strategies that could be employed nationwide.

By contrast, consider how derelict the federal government has been. Funding cuts from sequestration have cut education by $3 billion and decimated early education and after-school programs. Congress has dithered over reducing interest rates for student loans and cut eligibility for critical Pell grants, specifically barring around 65,000 of the most at-risk students. The government has failed to fund its 2009 commitment to expand the successful AmeriCorps programs from 75,000 to 250,000 by 2017, resulting in 85 percent of the 2012 applicants being turned away. 

Tonight, the Roosevelt Institute is hosting a public panel with local organizations in New Orleans to help formulate a policy that will serve young people nationwide. Because as effective as private funders, local non-profits, and national organizations are, the scale and breadth of the challenge demands public solutions.

Disappointment with our government’s past failures is understandable, but the anti-government movement too often blinds Americans to our shared goals and responsibilities. We forget our history of achieving great works together. As a nation, we decided way back in the 1800s to support our young people by outlawing child labor and establishing free primary school. We tackled youth unemployment during the Great Depression with the Civilian Conservation Corps, a government program that directly employed nearly 3 million young men over nine years. We sent 2.2 million veterans to college on the G.I. Bill and gave our young people opportunities through national service programs like AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, and the Job Corps. These are but a few examples.

We must now, once again, use our government as a tool to restore the promise of equal opportunity to our youth. Join us as we seek solutions to one of our nation’s most pressing challenges.

In New Orleans? Join the Roosevelt Institute tonight at 6 p.m. at the Contemporary Arts Center for "Tackling Youth Unemployment: Strategies That Work in New Orleans." The event is free and open to the public.

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick is the Director of the Roosevelt Institute’s Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government initiative and author of Age of Greed.

Nell Abernathy is a Research Initiative Associate for the Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative.

 

New Orleans at sunset banner image via Shutterstock.com

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Daily Digest - August 15: Cable Monopolies Don't Deliver

Aug 15, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Time Warner Cable Blackout of CBS (Kathleen Dunn Show)

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Time Warner Cable Blackout of CBS (Kathleen Dunn Show)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford discusses the CBS blackout on Time Warner Cable. This is a prime example of her problem with the cable companies' monopoly control of their markets: in Dallas, New York, and other cities, there are no other options.

Why Is Inequality So Much Higher in the U.S. Than in France? (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien looks at how U.S. policies that differ from so much of the rest of the world's have contributed to escalating levels of inequality. Changes in tax policy, particularly on CEO pay, have contributed to pay structures disconnected from the larger economy.

Fast Food Strikes to Massively Expand: “They’re thinking much bigger” (Salon)

Josh Eidelson speaks to organizers at the SEIU about their support of the fast food strikes around the country. Plans are in place for these strikes to rapidly expand in the coming weeks, and the SEIU sees this organizing as a new hope for labor.

The IMF's Missed Opportunity (Project Syndicate)

Martin S. Edwards explains why the IMF should consider the political constraints on a country before making recommendations. Its recent review of the U.S. economy did not consider the dynamics that are likely to lead to another debt ceiling showdown this fall.

Senate Pressure on Fed Pick Irks White House (WSJ)

Carol Lee, Peter Nicholas, and Colleen McCain Nelson report that White House officials are working behind the scenes to get Senate Democrats to stop touting their preferred candidate, Janet Yellen, publicly. Apparently, the President doesn't want any pressure.

Four Things To Consider In Creating (Or Keeping) Housing Finance Entities (Forbes)

Richard Green notes some of the important facts that ought to be considered in discussing housing policy. As he sees it, an explicit government guarantee on mortgages will reduce unexpected costs, inequality, and foreclosures.

New on Next New Deal

Denialism and Bad Faith in Policy Arguments

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konzcal looks at a pair of problems that make policy discussions so difficult today. The problem isn't only the repetition of prior beliefs, but an extensive denial of the existing debate, and eventually, a restating of existing unsupportable conclusions.

O Canada and Its Housing Market

David Min compares the housing markets in the U.S. and Canada, and particularly their differing models for mortgages. He argues that the American 30-year fixed-rate-mortgage is systemically safer than Canada's rollover model.

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Daily Digest - August 14: Disrupting Cable Not So Simple

Aug 14, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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The Future Of Television (Diane Rehm Show)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford discusses the limits of how web-based models like Netfix can disrupt traditional cable television. Without high-speed internet access, none of these models work, and the cable companies control most broadband.

Click here to receive the Daily Digest via email.

The Future Of Television (Diane Rehm Show)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford discusses the limits of how web-based models like Netfix can disrupt traditional cable television. Without high-speed internet access, none of these models work, and the cable companies control most broadband.

Bash Brothers: How Globalization and Technology Teamed Up to Crush Middle-Class Workers (The Atlantic)

Derek Thompson explains a new study that found that the monolith "globalizationandtechnology" is actually two forces working in tandem. Globalization increases unemployment overall, while technology increases inequality by replacing middle-class jobs.

U.S. Budget Cuts Hitting Long-Term Unemployed Hard (Reuters)

Paige Gance reports on the struggles facing the long-term unemployed as their benefits are cut due to sequestration. A study shows that callbacks for job interviews dramatically decrease after long stretches of unemployment, which doesn't help her interview subjects.

Parents Losing Jobs a Hidden Cost to Head Start Cuts (Bloomberg)

William Selway reminds us that Head Start exists to provide preschool to low-income kids, so now that sequestration is cutting spots, the parents have no where else to turn. Without the means to pay for childcare, they can't go to work.

Paying It Forward on Student Debt (TAP)

Monica Potts reports that following Oregon's new pay-it-forward plan for college tuition, a number of other states are proposing similar plans. The plans are becoming more sophisticated, and begin to address the critiques of Oregon's model.

Don’t Take My Pension!: The Looming Public Worker Nightmare (Salon)

Adam J. Levitin suggests that public pensions ought to be insured, just like private guaranteed-benefit pension plans. That would solve the problems facing municipalities like Detroit as they face difficult decisions regarding retirees during bankruptcy.

Best-Paid Women in S&P 500 Settle for Less Remuneration (Bloomberg)

Carol Hymowitz and Cécile Daurat look at the compensation of top female executives, and find that even on that level, women are being paid less than men. Their 82 cents to men's dollar can't be explained by levels of experience or skill.

The Justice Department is Blocking the US Airways-American Merger. Here’s Why. (WaPo)

Brad Plumer says that the Department of Justice lawsuit claim that the merger would reduce competition in several key markets is probably true. The merged airline would have absolutely no nonstop competition on seven routes.

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Daily Digest - August 13: Fighting Poverty in the Land of Success

Aug 13, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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The Offline Wage Wars of Silicon Valley (Next City)

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The Offline Wage Wars of Silicon Valley (Next City)

Roosevelt Institute | Pipeline Fellow Nona Willis Aronowitz writes on the fight to increase the minimum wage in San Jose, where poverty exists in sharp contrast to Silicon Valley successes. This piece was published on a pay-to-read platform, and I've linked to an excerpt.

Inequality is Hindering Economic Growth (Baltimore Sun)

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network founder Nate Loewentheil and Jacob Hacker denounce the "Big Trade-Off" between equality and efficiency. Economic inequality prevents the growth our economy needs, so people and poverty must come before the deficit.

Why the Anger? (Robert Reich)

Robert Reich suggests that income inequality is causing the polarization of our political system. People have many good reasons to be angry, from falling wages to government bailouts, but he fears that anger is pitting Americans against the wrong targets.

Your Mortgage Documents are Fake! (Salon)

David Dayen reports on a newly unsealed lawsuit, which reveals that banks faked documents to establish ownership of mortgages when trying to foreclose. He questions whether banks should control mortgages when they can't track who owns which loan

Lobbyist Secretly Wrote House Dems' Letter Urging Weaker Investor Protections (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger reports on a letter to the Department of Labor signed by 32 Democrats opposing new regulations on retirement advisors and written by a financial services lobbyist. These regulations are meant to protect the populations the signatories represent.

The Return of One of the GOP's Dumbest Ideas (TAP)

Paul Waldman finds it strange that when proponents of the balanced budget amendment explain why the deficit is so bad, they claim it's due to draconian budget cuts that will be needed one day. Apparently, that means we should make those cuts today instead.

Remember the JOBS Act? (U.S. News and World Report)

Pat Garofolo thinks that any bipartisan jobs plan should be carefully scrutinized, considering what we got last time. The JOBS Act, signed in April 2012, reduces reporting requirements, so we're seeing more fraud and shell companies, but no new jobs.

The Workers Defense Project, a Union in Spirit (NYT)

Steven Greenhouse looks at the successes of the Workers Defense Project, which is organizing workers outside the traditional union setting for basics like workers' compensation. Their model is seen as a potential future for organized labor.

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