1) Myth: The minimum wage was never supposed to be a living wage

This is probably one of the most dangerous—and easy to debunk—myths about the minimum wage, which was championed by Franklin D. Roosevelt beginning in 1933. During an address FDR gave about one of his many economic salvation packages, he explained that “no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.”

2) Myth: An increase in the minimum wage won’t help anyone if all other costs go up, too

One assumption about increasing the minimum wage is that it will force to the cost of living to increase at the same rate, and in doing so, we’d really just be speeding up inflation. This isn’t really how economics works. A 2013 study by the Chicago Fed found that increasing the minimum wage even just to $9 would increase consumer spending by $28 billion. When spending—i.e. demand—increases, manufacturers and other purveyors of goods and services can actually charge less or at least avoid increasing their prices, because they’re increasing overall revenue.

3) Myth: An increase in the minimum wage is bad for employers

Paying a higher wage to employees can also help employers cut costs in other ways, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “Beyond simple supply and demand theory,” reads a comprehensive report on the economics of raising the minimum wage, “increasing the minimum wage may also spur businesses to operate more efficiently and employees to work harder.”

4) Myth: $15 is a random number

“Why not $20 per hour? Why not $50?” critics have asked. And the answer is simple: because those who are fighting for an increase in the minimum wage are being pragmatic, not bombastic. Wages of $10.10 (federally) and $15 (in cities with a high cost of living, like New York and Seattle) are hourly dollar amounts that raise workers above the poverty line and increase their purchasing power, while also being feasible for businesses. Research from the Policy Research and Economic Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst proves that these increases are absolutely possible without job loss.

5) Myth: It will cost us jobs and raise unemployment

So far, there is no evidence that raising the minimum wage causes an increase in unemployment or job loss. In fact, in a Goldman Sachs analysis of the 13 states which have raised their minimum wage, found that “the states where the minimum wage went up had faster employment growth than the states where the minimum wage remained at its 2013 level.”

6) Myth: Only teenagers and uneducated people work for the minimum wage

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 4.7 percent of the working population make at or below the minimum wage. While a disproportionate percentage are under the age of 25—about 35 percent, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research—the population who would benefit from a minimum wage increase is—on average—35 years old. Eighty-eight percent are over the age of 20.

7) Myth: Seattle already has a $15 minimum wage and it’s terrible

Though conservative news outlets are already looking to Seattle to see if the economy has plunged into chaos, the truth is that the minimum wage in the city has only increased by a small amount, due to the slow transition written into the law. It’s $10 for some workers, and $11 for others, depending on the size of their employer, and many small businesses are actually very happy with it.

Read the full article

Bernie has a solid track record on racial justice issues, but like many white socialists of his generation he frames racial justice (and gender justice) issues as best addressed through economic policy. For example, his standard argument on mass incarceration is to push for full employment as the best way to decrease rates of imprisonment. Bernie needs to acknowledge racism here by also arguing for an end to employment discrimination — it is quite possible to have a full-employment economy with blacks, Latinos, and women stuck disproportionately in dead-end, low-wage service jobs.

Bernie should also emphasize that racial injustice relates to the economic, but cannot be reduced to it, by making the following points: a) Working-class and poor blacks between the ages of eighteen and thirty are six times more likely to be in jail or prison than working-class and poor whites. b) Due to redlining and mortgage discrimination, middle-class blacks live in poorer neighborhoods than do poor whites (low-income whites tend to live proximate to working-class and middle-class whites). c) Black and Latino youth are subjected to arbitrary violence by police significantly more often than whites of comparable class status, though working-class and poor whites suffer from police abuse far more than affluent whites.

Debunking the Myth of Asian Privilege and Why Bill O'Reilly Is Wrong

Here's an empirical fact that isn’t acknowledged nearly enough: the United States is a white supremacist state. It has been a white supremacist state from the late 18th century right up to the present day, and while this conclusion may strike many as provacative or vulgar, it is not controversial among those who rely on empirical data to inform their views. To put it in different terms, there is a racial hierarchy in the U.S. and whites are at the top. White folks—myself included—receive the lion’s share of power, privilege, and resources. Needless to say, whites are not inherently better or more deserving; nor have we received a disproportionate share of assets and resources because we have worked harder than People of Color. Our privileged position is because the institutions Americans navigate each day have been built to favor whites. Borrowing from writer John Scalzi’s video game metaphor, whiteness affords those who have it the ability to play the game of life on the lowest difficulty setting. Metaphors are useful, but where is the evidence? In short, the evidence is everywhere. One need only look at patterns of housing discriminationemployment discrimination (and here), racial profiling (andhere), incarcerationvarious health outcomespovertywealth inequality, and income inequality, to name a few.

Now look once more at that last link on income inequality. Did you notice that in 2011 among full-time wage and salary workers in the United States, Asian Americans took home $872 on average compared to whites, who took home nearly $100 less? In a recent essay regarding Asian American discrimination, sociologist Tanya Maria Golash-Boza reported that by 2013 the pattern hadn’t changed. Asians’ median weekly earnings were $973, as compared to $799 for whites. If Asians earn more, then why don’t sociologists argue the U.S. is actually an Asian supremacist state? Or as the right-wing commentator Bill O'Reilly suggests in the above video, isn’t it more accurate to talk about Asian privilege rather than white privilege?

The video is useful for spurring discussion on this important topic, and I will conclude this post by suggesting a sociologically-informed “talking points” reply to O'Reilly. First, the average earnings statistic conceals the enormous variation found among different Asian subgroups. Given the disparity in earnings between Asians whose families immigrated from Southeast Asia and those from China, it is arguably misleading to lump these subgroups together. 

Second, education is a confounding variable, which is a shorthand way of saying that the income graph is misleading in yet another way. Asians look like they earn more than whites, but this is only because Asians have more education on average. The reason why Asians have higher average levels of education is a topic The Sociological Cinema has tackled elsewhere, but what O'Reilly’s narrative of Asian privilege cannot explain away is the fact that when one compares whites and Asians who are in the same field, live in the same place, and have the same level of education, whites earn more (see Kim et al., 2010). 

Third, just as the election of Barack Obama did not suddenly end racism in the U.S., the determination of whether the United States is white supremacist does not hinge on a single measurement of well-being. Even if one makes the incredible leap of faith and believes Bill O'Reilly is competantly grasping the available data, it is important to remember that the labor market is but one dimension of human experience and only one place where racism has been measured. For instance, O'Reilly has not even begun to address cultural dimensions of white supremacy, such as white standards of beauty and masculinity.

Not talking about money is a tool of class war. A culture that forbids employees from comparing salaries helps companies pay women and minorities less. Ignoring the mercenary grit behind success leads to quasi-religious abundance gurus claiming you can visualize your way to wealth.

… It’s easy to say that if people are just good enough, work hard enough, ask enough, believe enough, they will be like us.

But it’s a lie. Winning does not scale. We may be free beings, but we are constrained by an economic system rigged against us. What ladders we have are being yanked away. Some of us will succeed. The possibility of success is used to call the majority of people failures.

—  Molly Crabapple, Filthy Lucre

For many of us, The Hunger Games is personal, not only because we love the writing or the heroine, but because we live under Capitol-like policies ourselves. We live in a culture defined by class divisions, and by an unwillingness to talk honestly, let alone remedy, those divisions. For us, The Hunger Games are not about box office takes or marketing tie-ins with Doritos and Subway (two particularly perverse corporate choices on the part of Lionsgate, who are already making millions on a movie about hunger).

The marketing for The Hunger Games isn’t personal, but this has the power to be a very personal franchise — and a very communal one. We can fill in the gaps — the hundreds of millions of dollars surrounding the Hunger Games franchise does not have to be the prevailing narrative. We can make it our narrative. We can use our voices. We can tell our stories. We can let the world know that this is real. Tell your story — use social media, talk to your friends, take whatever platform you can. From student loans to the minimum wage and deficits based on factors like race and gender, every reality, big and small, matters.

We can explain to the world why this narrative means so much.

These are #MyHungerGames. What are yours?


HPA volunteer and journalist Alanna Bennett in an op-ed for The Mary Sue.

Read Alanna’s brave and moving story, then share yours.

You can read more #MyHungerGames stories here.

‘World's Poorest President' Explains Why We Should Kick Rich People Out Of Politics
Source: www.huffingtonpost.com | Original Post Date: October 22, 2014 - People who like money too much ought to be kicked out of politics, Uruguayan President José Mujica told CNN en Español in an interview posted online Wednesday. “We invented this thing called representative democra

People who like money too much ought to be kicked out of politics, Uruguayan President José Mujica told CNN en Español in an interview posted online Wednesday.

“We invented this thing called representative democracy, where we say the majority is who decides,” Mujica said in the interview. “So it seems to me that we [heads of state] should live like the majority and not like the minority.”

Dubbed the “World’s Poorest President” in a widely circulated BBC piece from 2012, Mujica reportedly donates 90 percent of his salary to charity. Mujica’s example offers a strong contrast to the United States, where in politics the median member of Congress is worth more than $1 million and corporations have many of the same rights as individuals when it comes to donating to political campaigns.

“The red carpet, people who play — those things,” Mujica said, mimicking a person playing a cornet. “All those things are feudal leftovers. And the staff that surrounds the president are like the old court.”

Mujica explained that he didn’t have anything against rich people, per se, but he doesn’t think they do a good job representing the interests of the majority of people who aren’t rich.

“I’m not against people who have money, who like money, who go crazy for money,” Mujica said. “But in politics we have to separate them. We have to run people who love money too much out of politics, they’re a danger in politics… People who love money should dedicate themselves to industry, to commerce, to multiply wealth. But politics is the struggle for the happiness of all.”

Asked why rich people make bad representatives of poor people, Mujica said: “They tend to view the world through their perspective, which is the perspective of money. Even when operating with good intentions, the perspective they have of the world, of life, of their decisions, is informed by wealth. If we live in a world where the majority is supposed to govern, we have to try to root our perspective in that of the majority, not the minority.”


Young poets at Brave New Voices give real talk on economic inequalities of gentrification and education in their communities: 

“So basically they’re saying, alright, so you got to go to school, right? You got to make money somehow. And the only way to make money in this economy is to get a college degree, right, ‘cause that’s what we’re taught. So we’re raised up until senior year…and we realize that yo, you’re going to be more in debt from your college loans than from house loans and credit card loans combined…for the rest of your career, basically.  So then they say, alright, alright, you got that. So here are your two options: You can go to college, be in debt. Or, you might as well go to the military. You’re already in the streets. You’re already fighting. You’re already playing Call of Duty. This is your option, right here.  So that’s what I think the violence stems from: that the only way to live is to be violent. The only way to survive in this economy for poor folk is to be gritty…to be dirty to steal whatever you need to steal. And that’s the problem." 

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