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Infographic: Why we need to raise minimum wage

Some people argue raising the minimum wage will only help a few million teenagers, but this is not true. One in four Americans in the private sector makes less than the $10.10 an hour proposed by President Obama. An increased minimum wage would benefit breadwinners, including more than 70% of government contract employees and 17 million total workers by 2016 according to the economic study.

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(images via The Huffington Post/Restaurant Opportunities Center United)

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Each year we spend billions of dollars subsidizing profits at large international corporations because they refuse to pay their workers a living wage. It is not fair that taxpayers are footing the bill because these companies’ full-time workers are paid poverty wages and require public assistance just to be able to afford their rent and feed their families.

If these corporations won’t take action, then we will fight for their workers. Click here to tell Congress to raise the minimum wage: http://afsc.me/1nJkgBK

The Great U-Turn

Do you recall a time in America when the income of a single school teacher or baker or salesman or mechanic was enough to buy a home, have two cars, and raise a family? 

I remember. My father (who just celebrated his 100th birthday) earned enough for the rest of us to live comfortably. We weren’t rich but never felt poor, and our standard of living rose steadily through the 1950s and 1960s. 

That used to be the norm. For three decades after World War II, America created the largest middle class the world had ever seen. During those years the earnings of the typical American worker doubled, just as the size of the American economy doubled. (Over the last thirty years, by contrast, the size of the economy doubled again but the earnings of the typical American went nowhere.)  

In that earlier period, more than a third of all workers belonged to a trade union — giving average workers the bargaining power necessary to get a large and growing share of the large and growing economic pie. (Now, fewer than 7 percent of private-sector workers are unionized.) 

Then, CEO pay then averaged about 20 times the pay of their typical worker (now it’s over 200 times). 

In those years, the richest 1 percent took home 9 to 10 percent of total income (today the top 1 percent gets more than 20 percent). 

Then, the tax rate on highest-income Americans never fell below 70 percent; under Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, it was 91 percent. (Today the top tax rate is 39.6 percent.)

In those decades, tax revenues from the wealthy and the growing middle class were used to build the largest infrastructure project in our history, the Interstate Highway system. And to build the world’s largest and best system of free public education, and dramatically expand public higher education. (Since then, our infrastructure has been collapsing from deferred maintenance, our public schools have deteriorated, and higher education has become unaffordable to many.)

We didn’t stop there. We enacted the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act to extend prosperity and participation to African-Americans; Medicare and Medicaid to provide health care to the poor and reduce poverty among America’s seniors; and the Environmental Protection Act to help save our planet. 

And we made sure banking was boring. 

It was a virtuous cycle. As the economy grew, we prospered together. And that broad-based prosperity enabled us to invest in our future, creating more and better jobs and a higher standard of living.  

Then came the great U-turn, and for the last thirty years we’ve been heading in the opposite direction. 

Why?

Some blame globalization and the loss of America’s  manufacturing core. Others point to new technologies that replaced routine jobs with automated machinery, software, and robotics. 

But if these were the culprits, they only raise a deeper question: Why didn’t we share the gains from globalization and technological advances more broadly? Why didn’t we invest them in superb schools, higher skills, a world-class infrastructure?

Others blame Ronald Reagan’s worship of the so-called “free market,” supply-side economics, and deregulation. But if these were responsible, why did we cling to these ideas for so long? Why are so many people still clinging to them? 

Some others believe Americans became greedier and more selfish. But if that’s the explanation, why did our national character change so dramatically? 

Perhaps the real problem is we forgot what we once achieved together. 

The collective erasure of the memory of that prior system of broad-based prosperity is due partly to the failure of my generation to retain and pass on the values on which that system was based. It can also be understood as the greatest propaganda victory radical conservatism ever won.

We must restore our recollection. In seeking to repair what is broken, we don’t have to emulate another nation. We have only to emulate what we once had.

That we once achieved broad-based prosperity means we can achieve it again — not exactly the same way, of course, but in a new way fit for the twenty-first century and for future generations of Americans. 

America’s great U-turn can be reversed. It is worth the fight.

Here’s everything women could buy without the wage gap

By now, you’ve probably heard depressing statistics like this one: For every dollar a man earns, a woman makes 77 cents. You might even be sick of hearing it. But here’s another way of thinking about it: If you add all those pennies up, the gender gap will cost the average American woman more than $400,000 over the course of her professional life.

Even the useful 77 cents-to-the-dollar statistic is partially misleading because it looks at the median earnings of all full-time employed women against the earnings of full-time employed white men, leaving race and ethnicity out of the equation. Here’s the granular breakdown. White men in the United States make:

  • 47% more than Hispanic and Latina women
  • 40% more than American-Indian and Alaskan Native women
  • 36% more than African-American women
  • 34% more than Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women
  • 21% more than white women and
  • 13% more than Asian women.

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The Choice of the Century

The President blames himself for the Democrat’s big losses Election Day. “We have not been successful in going out there and letting people know what it is that we’re trying to do and why this is the right direction,” he said Sunday.

In other words, he didn’t sufficiently tout the Administration’s accomplishments.

I respectfully disagree.

If you want a single reason for why Democrats lost big on Election Day 2014 it’s this: Median household income continues to drop. This is the first “recovery” in memory when this has happened.

Jobs are coming back but wages aren’t. Every month the job numbers grow but the wage numbers go nowhere.

Most new jobs are in part-time or low-paying positions. They pay less than the jobs lost in the Great Recession.

This wageless recovery has been made all the worse because pay is less predictable than ever. Most Americans don’t know what they’ll be earning next year or even next month. Two-thirds are now living paycheck to paycheck.

So why is this called a “recovery” at all? Because, technically, the economy is growing. But almost all the gains from that growth are going to a small minority at the top.

In fact, 100 percent of the gains have gone to the best-off 10 percent. Ninety-five percent have gone to the top 1 percent.

The stock market has boomed. Corporate profits are through the roof. CEO pay, in the stratosphere. Yet most Americans feel like they’re still in a recession.

And they’re convinced the game is rigged against them.

Fifty years ago, just 29 percent of voters believed government is “run by a few big interests looking out for themselves.” Now, 79 percent think so.

According to Pew, the percentage of Americans who believe most people who want to get ahead can do so through hard work has plummeted 14 points since 2000.

What the President and other Democrats failed to communicate wasn’t their accomplishments. It was their understanding that the economy is failing most Americans and big money is overrunning our democracy.

And they failed to convey their commitment to an economy and a democracy that serve the vast majority rather than a minority at the top.

Some Democrats even ran on not being Barack Obama. That’s no way to win. Americans want someone fighting for them, not running away from the President.

The midterm elections should have been about jobs and wages, and how to reform a system where nearly all the gains go to the top. It was an opportunity for Democrats to shine. Instead, they hid.

Consider that in four “red” states — South Dakota, Arkansas, Alaska, and Nebraska — the same voters who sent Republicans to the Senate voted by wide margins to raise their state’s minimum wage. Democratic candidates in these states barely mentioned the minimum wage.

So what now?

Republicans, soon to be in charge of Congress, will push their same old supply-side, trickle-down, austerity economics.

They’ll want policies that further enrich those who are already rich. That lower taxes on big corporations and deliver trade agreements written in secret by big corporations. That further water down Wall Street regulations so the big banks can become even bigger – too big to fail, or jail, or curtail.

They’ll exploit the public’s prevailing cynicism by delivering just what the cynics expect.

And the Democrats? They have a choice.

They can refill their campaign coffers for 2016 by trying to raise even more money from big corporations, Wall Street, and wealthy individuals. And hold their tongues about the economic slide of the majority, and the drowning of our democracy.

Or they can come out swinging. Not just for a higher minimum wage but also for better schools, paid family and medical leave, and child care for working families.

For resurrecting the Glass-Steagall Act and limiting the size of Wall Street banks.

For saving Social Security by lifting the cap on income subject to payroll taxes.

For rebuilding the nation’s roads, bridges, and ports.

For increasing taxes on corporations with high ratios of CEO pay to the pay of average workers.

And for getting big money out of politics, and thereby saving our democracy.

It’s the choice of the century.

Democrats have less than two years to make it.

 

just to elaborate what i was saying before, there is a huge difference between approaching commissions as a hobbyist and as a professional. there is a huge difference between using commissions to get a little extra spending money in addition to what you get from your job or your allowance or what have you and using commissions as your primary or only source of income.  

if you have a job, then you can already pay for most of your living expenses.  if you have an allowance, then your parents are paying for those things.  if you are an independent, unemployed or self employed artist, then suddenly $10 for a commission is nothing.  $10 buys you a coffee and a sandwich at starbucks. $10 covers about a week’s worth of food for your cat. $10 does not come anywhere near paying for rent or groceries or utilities.

one of the most difficult parts about living in a culture where art is not only undervalued but also othered (the common phrases “anyone can make art” and “making art is not useful” respectively) is that we create an atmosphere that simultaneously justifies underpricing artwork and shames people who approach art as a business: “art can by done by anyone. therefor, it is not worth anything” and “normal people do not do art. normal people get normal, practical jobs like accounting or secretarial work that pay normal wages. therefor, being an artist cannot be a normal job and cannot be approached with the same logic that you would use when considering real jobs.”

these are both very harmful mindsets.  i approach my freelance work as a business because that is what it is.  i’m not swimming in riches or topping off some already existing salary or allowance.  unfortunately, there will always be people who think i should charge as if art is my hobby and not my way of living.