Daily Digest - October 18: How About a Fifty Year Farm Bill?

Oct 18, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Wendell Berry (The Brian Lehrer Show)

Wendell Berry, who was awarded the Freedom Medal at the Roosevelt Institute's Four Freedoms Awards this week, appears on WNYC to discuss his work. His conversation with Brian Lehrer covers the farm bill, CSAs, and more.

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Wendell Berry (The Brian Lehrer Show)

Wendell Berry, who was awarded the Freedom Medal at the Roosevelt Institute's Four Freedoms Awards this week, appears on WNYC to discuss his work. His conversation with Brian Lehrer covers the farm bill, CSAs, and more.

  • Roosevelt Take: Watch the video of the Four Freedoms Awards ceremony at the St. James' Episcopal Church, where Wendell Berry was honored along with Ameena Matthews, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Sister Simone Campbell, and Paul Krugman.

Farmworkers Hit NYC to Protest Wendy’s Labor Practices (The Nation)

Aaron Cantú reports on the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' protest outside a Wendy's in New York City, calling on the fast food chain to join their Fair Food Program. The CIW was in town to receive the Freedom from Want medal at the Four Freedoms Awards.

The Government Shutdown Wasn’t That Bad for the Politicians. It was Terrible for This Guy. (WaPo)

Jim Tankersley speaks to a federal contractor who won't get backpay from the shutdown - and he's a cafeteria worker in a Smithsonian museum. This man was already supporting his son paycheck to paycheck, and he had to negotiate with his landlord to avoid eviction.

Not Everything Is Back To Normal Now That The Shutdown Is Over (ThinkProgress)

Bryce Covert and Alan Pyke consider the ongoing effects of the shutdown, which continue despite the government reopening. Experiments have been scrapped or rescheduled, invoices and applications are backlogged, and nothing makes up lost business near national parks.

Let's Shut Down the Filibuster (TAP)

Paul Starr thinks that with the shutdown over, it's time to make some reforms to improve government function. He suggests that the filibuster should be first on the chopping block, because its modern usage only impairs the Senate from doing its job.

Let's Treat Housing as a Health Issue (City Limits)

Jeff Foreman suggests that the best use of public health dollars would be to solve homelessness. Ending homelessness would save enough money in healthcare costs to cover the cost of housing, so why are we leaving anyone on the streets?

Stay Put, Young Man (Washington Monthly)

Timothy Noah argues that the decrease in interstate migration in the U.S. has contributed to decreasing upward mobility. Even worse, the cost of housing has risen so much that people who do move often move away from economic opportunity.

New on Next New Deal

Local Experiments May Counteract Austerity in Education Funding

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow for Education Raul Gardea looks at California's new Local Control Funding Formula, which gives local communities more freedom in how they distribute and use their state education funding.

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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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Daily Digest - October 7: Not So Non-Essential, Still Shutdown

Oct 7, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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The ‘Non-Essential’ Parts of Government That Shut Down Are Actually Quite Essential (WaPo)

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The ‘Non-Essential’ Parts of Government That Shut Down Are Actually Quite Essential (WaPo)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konzcal breaks down some of the services government usually provides, the absences of which can cause the country real harm. It's not all museums and panda cams: it's trade, research, and critical pieces of the social safety net.

Shutdown Prompts Rare Government Mix: Imagination and Laughter (ProPublica)

Kim Barker reports on one side effect of the shutdown: conferences that scheduled non-essential federal employees as presenters. One analyst for Health and Human Services went so far as to record a presentation before going on furlough, to fill in for himself.

Other Ways to Get Your Jobs Data (NYT)

Thanks to the shutdown, there was no official jobs report on the first Friday of October. Catherine Rampell lists some of the alternative measures, which are usually overshaded by the Department of Labor but are all we have right now.

The Most Often Repeated Fact About US Debt is Wrong (Quartz)

Matt Phillips points out that depending on what definition of a default you use, the U.S. has defaulted on its debt up to three times in the past. But non of those situations look anything like the debt ceiling question today, which would be a "voluntary" default.

Boehner Says He Doesn't Want to Default, But That's 'The Path We're On' (NY Mag)

While Friday's Daily Digest linked to a New York Times piece indicating that Boehner would not allow a default, now Margaret Hartmann reports that the Speaker is saying otherwise. He's apparently no longer willing to step around his own party.

Here's The Uncomfortable Answer To Whether Treasury Can 'Prioritize' Payments In The Event Of A Debt Ceiling Breach (Business Insider)

Joe Weisenthal explains that the Treasury is unsure if it's even possible to priotiize interest payments in order to avoid a default - and even if it is possible, the legality is questionable too.

At a Nissan Plant in Mississippi, a Battle to Shape the U.A.W.’s Future (NYT)

Steven Greenhouse reports on the U.A.W.'s continued attempts to organize Southern auto plants. The union is taking an international strategy, having union members worldwide pressure Nissan and drawing support from Brazil to South Africa to Japan.

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Daily Digest - October 2: Partisanship Shouldn't Hurt the Party

Oct 2, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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What We Need to Fix Congress: More Partisanship (TNR)

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What We Need to Fix Congress: More Partisanship (TNR)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Mark Schmitt argues that the Republican party is actually acting in a strongly non-partisan manner right now. A focus on individual power over party power created the divides within the GOP that are fueling the shutdown.

Just What Are the Republicans Thinking? (Atlantic Wire)

Philip Bump looks at four possible rationalizations that Republicans may have used when they cast votes leading to the shutdown. None of these frames quite hold up as logical under scrutiny, probably because there's nothing logical happening here.

House GOP Pushes Piecemeal Approach as Democrats Stand Firm (NYT)

Jonathan Weisman reports that the GOP plans to push piece-by-piece spending bills today, funding just a few non-essential programs. Maybe they think that voters will stop blaming Republicans for the shutdown if the National Zoo's panda cam comes back online.

Democrats Should Reject a "Clean" CR (Slate)

Matt Yglesias suggests that now that government has shutdown, the Democrats should insist on a continuing resolution that increases the debt ceiling, or abolishes it all together. We don't need to go through this again in just two weeks.

U.S. Shutdown Has Other Nations Confused and Concerned (BBC News)

Anthony Zurcher explains why the international community is just so confused by what's happening in the U.S. right now. Almost no other country has a system of governance that makes a shutdown possible - which might be a good idea.

Shutdown Will Cost U.S. Economy $300 Million a Day, IHS Says (Bloomberg)

Jeanna Smialek and Ian Katz explain an assortment of estimates on the cost of the shutdown. There are losses to GDP, furloughed workers cutting spending, and slowed consumer confidence - not to mention market fluctuations.

The Ethic of Marginal Value (Jacobin)

Peter Frase challenges the common idea that labor follows, and should follow, standard models of supply and demand. Labor is not just another good, because labor is people, which requires separating the right to a basic standard of living from the labor a person does.

New on Next New Deal

Challenging the 'New Normal' of Violence in the U.S.

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow for Equal Justice Erik Lampmann argues for our ability to change the culture of violence in the U.S. He thinks that the progressive movement can take this on, and in fact has already started a lot of work that can be seen as anti-violence.

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Daily Digest - September 30: A Bad Policy News Moment

Sep 30, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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The House’s Food Stamps Cuts Aren’t Just Cruel. They’re Dumb. (WaPo)

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The House’s Food Stamps Cuts Aren’t Just Cruel. They’re Dumb. (WaPo)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal explains why the GOP's plan to require states to follow a $2,000 assets test for SNAP eligibility is bad policy. Assets tests create poverty traps, forcing families to avoid saving in order to stay afloat.

Countdown to Shutdown: A Primer on Where Budget Wrangling Stands (The Atlantic)

David A. Graham writes an update on what's happened in Congress over the weekend. So far, Republicans have been unwilling to pass a clean continuing resolution in the House, and the schedule for today allows only ten hours of legislative work time.

Who Will Notice a US Government Shut Down? Public Workers, Foreign Governments and People With the Flu (Quartz)

Tim Fernholz lays out who will feel the immediate effects of a government shutdown on October 1, which looks exceedingly likely. The less obvious groups include sick people, since the CDC will stop tracking epidemics, and anyone who planned to buy a house in October.

This Week in Poverty: Five Things You Might Have Missed on 'Poverty Day' (The Nation)

Greg Kaufmann looks at five points from the U.S. Census poverty data that weren't covered by mainstream media. Most strikingly, instituting a monthly benefit for every child as is common in other developed countries could nearly eliminate child poverty in the U.S.

I Worked All Week for Free?!: The Horrifying, True Story of $0 Paychecks (Salon)

Josh Eidelson explains why a group of guest workers on H-2B visas are striking and putting pressure on Florida politicians to reform labor laws. After putting in a full week, these workers are charged rent that is greater then their earnings - and the boss is also the landlord.

Viewpoint: The Decline of Unions Is Your Problem Too (TIME)

Eric Liu explains why every American is harmed by the lowest rate of union membership in 97 years. Organized labor used to keep the economy healthier; today, the people setting the rules are only focused on shareholder profits.

New on Next New Deal

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

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Richard Kirsch reviews the new film starring Robert Reich, which articulates the narrative that progressive economists have been pushing through Reich's humor and passion, as well as profiles of families scarred by the new economy.

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Daily Digest - September 26: Watch Out for Default

Sep 26, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Default Notes (NYT)

Paul Krugman is concerned by the seeming non-response from markets to the possibility of a government default in mid-October. Shouldn't big business be worrying about the possibility of another recession, cuts to Federal spending, and a plunging dollar?

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Default Notes (NYT)

Paul Krugman is concerned by the seeming non-response from markets to the possibility of a government default in mid-October. Shouldn't big business be worrying about the possibility of another recession, cuts to Federal spending, and a plunging dollar?

You Really Ought to Be More Terrified of the Debt Ceiling (The Atlantic)

Derek Thompson points out that while a shutdown would have predictable effects, we have no idea what will happen if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling. It's unclear if there's even a way for the government to prioritize payments in such a situation.

How One Stroke of the Pen Could Lift Wages for Millions (MSNBC)

Ned Resnikoff presents two possible executive orders that would raise the low wages of two million federally contracted workers. Many of these workers in DC are striking again, this time rallying outside the White House.

Thousands of Grocery Workers Vote on Strike Authorization (The Nation)

Allison Kilkenny reports on a United Food and Commercial Workers vote this week that could lead to strikes if contract negotiations with major grocery chains break down. The biggest concern is health insurance for part-time workers who are union members.

Some Public Companies are Divulging More Details About Their Political Contributions (WaPo)

Dina ElBoghdady reports that due to mounting pressure from shareholders and threats of lawsuits, some large publicly traded companies are starting to disclose more of their political donations. The SEC is deciding whether to step in and mandate such disclosures.

Insight: Wal-Mart 'Made in America' drive follows suppliers' lead (Reuters)

Jessica Wohl and James B. Kelleher argue that for all the stars-and-stripes PR, Walmart's decision to buy more American-made goods is all business. U.S. made products have lower shipping costs and no tariffs, which improves the mega-retailer's bottom line.

SEC Wins Big Fine From JPMorgan but Execs Skate Free (ProPublica)

Jesse Eisinger argues that even though JPMorgan is paying a large settlement for its wrongdoing in the London Whale case, the public still loses. Unless the Volcker Rule is written with serious disclosure requirements, executives will continue to be in the clear.

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Daily Digest - September 19: All Eyes on Worker Centers

Sep 19, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Industry Groups Vow to Expose Union-Backed Worker Centers (The Hill)

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Industry Groups Vow to Expose Union-Backed Worker Centers (The Hill)

Kevin Bogardus spoke to Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren, who says that newly tightened partnerships between unions and worker centers will result in heightened scrutiny. As nonprofits instead of unions, worker centers fall under different laws, and some industry groups don't like it.

Middle-Class Decline Mirrors The Fall Of Unions In One Chart (HuffPo)

Caroline Fairchild pulls a graph from a recent Center for American Progress report that shows the middle-class share of income decreasing right along with union membership. Correlation is not causation, but that doesn't make the image less striking.

Congress and the Budget: Holding Middle-Class America Hostage (The Guardian)

Jana Kasperkevic looks at a Congressional Budget Office report that proves that Congress's recent actions, like sequestration, have been hurting the economy. Their current inaction has the potential to be just as harmful as the economy continues to lose ground.

Two Charts That Show Why Another Debt Ceiling Fight Is A Very Bad Idea (Business Insider)

Josh Barro reminds us why Congress should just authorize raising the debt ceiling without a fight. Last time, American debt was downgraded, the stock market plunged, and consumer confidence fell, all things we really don't need again.

The Fed Decides the Economy Still Sucks (NY Mag)

Kevin Roose reports on the Federal Reserve announcement that there will be no tapering just yet. He says this shows how strongly doves like Janet Yellen are reorienting Fed priorities towards creating new jobs.

Fed Favorite Janet Yellen Is No Dove—and That's a Good Thing (The Atlantic)

Matthew O'Brien points out that while Yellen is called dovish today for her focus on unemployment over inflation, in the Clinton years she was a staunch hawk. Her willingness to shift strategies based on facts only confirms her strengths as a central banker.

New on Next New Deal

The Digital Divide is Holding Young New Yorkers Back

Nell Abernathy looks at a study commissioned by the Manhattan Borough President and the New York City Comptroller on Internet access in public schools. 75 percent of NYC public schools only have access at 10 mbps or less, and the slower access is concentrated in poorer neighborhoods.

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Daily Digest - September 13: Labor for Healthier Politics

Sep 13, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Joe Stiglitz: The People Who Break the Rules Have Raked in Huge Profits and Wealth and It's Sickening Our Politics (Alternet)

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Joe Stiglitz: The People Who Break the Rules Have Raked in Huge Profits and Wealth and It's Sickening Our Politics (Alternet)

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow and Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz addressed the AFL-CIO convention in Los Angeles earlier this week. Alternet has the transcript, and the video is available on Youtube.

Trumka's Ploy (TAP)

Harold Meyerson argues that the AFL-CIO President was intentionally radical in his suggestions prior to the convention. That way, he got the reform he wanted: non-union workers' groups welcomed into labor, and more permanent partnerships with progressive allies.

The Rise of the New New Left (The Daily Beast)

Peter Beinart uses the NYC mayoral race as emblematic of a new political generation, one that sees progressive values as more than just ideals. The group coming of age under this economic crisis, he says, is shifting the political conversation to an anti-corporate, populist message.

  • Roosevelt Take: Many of Beinart's claims about the Millennial political generation line up with the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network's findings in Government By and For Millennial America, which discusses what kind of government Millennials want.

Mayor Gray Vetoes ‘Living Wage’ Bill Aimed at Wal-Mart, Setting up Decisive Council Vote (WaPo)

Mike DeBonis reports on the Washington, DC mayor's veto of the Large Retailer Accountability Act. Mayor Gray called for a city-wide minimum wage increase instead, but didn't specify an amount he would support.

How Wal-Mart Keeps Wages Low (WaPo)

Josh Eidelson examines how Wal-Mart discourages workers from organizing so that they won't have to raise wages. With a model built on the lowest possible prices, higher wages would presumably cut into the all-important shareholder profits.

Can the Government Actually Do Anything About Inequality? (NYT)

Tom Edsall looks at a number of studies to question what, if anything, government could do to reduce economic inequality. He sees policy tied to the deepening and spreading of inequality, which presumably means policy could work in the other direction as well.

Congress Searches For A Shutdown-Free Future (NPR)

Frank James reports on the steps being taken in Congress to negotiate away from a potential government shutdown. The Republicans are finding themselves stymied by Tea Partiers, for whom a 42nd symbolic repeal of Obamacare isn't good enough.

New on Next New Deal

The 1 Percent Took Home the Largest Share of Income Since 1928 Last Year

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal points out that the 1 percent's share of all income has vastly exceeded pre-Recession levels. This trend makes it hard to say that everyone in the U.S. wants policy change to help strengthen the recovery.

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

Sep 12, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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

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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)

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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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