the precariat

3/4 of my Uni papers are online

I have Community Psych ( I am thinking that I may drop this one , but I want to see what health psych is like first , but i don’t think this will be an area I am interested in)
Week 1: Introduction to community pscyhology
Week 2: Histories and Emergences
Week 3: Race, Ethnicity and Culture
Week 4: Poverty and the Precariat
Week 5: Participation and Sustainable Change
Week 7: Masculinity : Issues and Responses
Week 8: Place, Resources and Opportunities
Week 9: Health from a Community Pscyhology Perspective
Week 10: Disability: Issues and Responses
Week 11: Community Pscyhology and the Arts

Practice of psychological research looks great, the assignments sound mostly exciting , though I think this will be a very time demanding paper.

Family, Intimacy and Domestic Life
Week 1: Defining Family 
Week 2: Sociology of the Family: Classical Approaches 
Week 3: Early History of Family and Family Structures 
Week 4: The family Life Cycle 
Week 5: Families and Inequality
Week 6: New development in families : Parenting and Child Care
Week 7: Family Relationships 
Week 8: Young People and Sexuality 
Week 9: Families and Divorce 
Week 10: Families and Violence 
Week 11: Ageing and Intergenerational relationships 

I am still needing to choose my 4th paper which is an elective , so i am trying to decide between Drug and Alcohol Use , Infant Development , Child Development or a social work paper 

One embittered jobless graduate (Hankinson, 2010) wrote, ‘Baby boomers had free education, affordable houses, fat pensions, early retirement and second homes. We’ve been left with education on the never-never [student debt] and a property ladder with rotten rungs. And the financial system which made our parents rich has left us choosing between crap job or no job’.
—  Guy Standing, The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class
Securing The Future Of The Unpensioned

The fact is that a growing proportion of US workers are unpensioned: they have little or no money stashed away for old age in relatively secure form. The collapse of the social contract that was prevalent in post-WII America – long-term middle-class employment, health care, pension – means that a growing proportion of US workers are members of the Precariat: workers whose livelihood, earnings, and savings are insecure and unpredictable. 401(k) plans are a partial answer to this issue, but they incur lower returns than traditional pensions because of higher fees, and the greater likelihood of catastrophically bad investment decisions made by uninformed individuals.

California is at work on an alternative: California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program. 

California Takes On The Retirement Crisis via NY Times

A bill recently passed by the California Legislature creates the foundation for a savings plan to cover the state’s 6.3 million private-sector employees who have no retirement coverage at work. The plan also could serve as a model for addressing a national problem: Americans for the most part are ill-prepared for retirement, either because they have risky 401(k) plans or inadequate savings or no retirement coverage at all.

Memo to Gov. Jerry Brown: Please sign this bill.

The new law is aimed at finding a way to cover the uncovered without the considerable expense and market risks inherent in 401(k)’s.

Specifically, the legislation calls for research to settle the technical and legal issues that stand in the way of enacting a public-private partnership that would be called the California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program. Eligible employees would have 3 percent of pay deducted from their paychecks, unless they opted out. The employee contributions would be pooled and conservatively managed by professional investment managers chosen by the state through a bid process. That could include private firms and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the big public pension manager. The program would be overseen by a board of public and private sector leaders, appointed by the governor and the Legislature.

One of the advantages of the plan is that pooled contributions and professional management would reduce administrative costs and investing mistakes, which would boost returns beyond what most 401(k) investors achieve on their own.

The plan also calls for a guaranteed minimum return, via private insurance and reserves. That would be expensive, so the guarantee would likely be very modest, but it would ensure that all participants ended up with something, without requiring taxpayers to incur the risk of making good on investments gone bad.

Most of the opposition has come from the financial industry, undoubtedly because the plan would be a better deal than many of the retirement products they have on offer. Of course, they do not put it that way.

Sounds good. Only one problem: it’s an employer-oriented program: the workers have to be working for someone who can withhold the contributions, and they have to be making less than $50K a year. 

So, as usual,  freelancers – who are already being screwed by having to pay both halves of their social security payments – are not going to get to play in this program, even if they make less than $50K per year, and definitely not if they make more.

What we need is a more general program – a federal one – where anyone can contribute in for a pension, and for those that are employed the employer does the bookkeeping. But we need to get pensions for all.


The Precariat

A Precarious Life: The Case For A Revolution

The single most compelling case for a revolution in the American social contract is the precarious state of our youngest workers, who increasingly have little job security, few benefits, and no pensions:

Young workers’ retirement hopes grow bleaker amid economic downturn - Michael Fletcher via The Washington Post

Blue-chip corporate giants such as IBM and Verizon are among those that have closed their traditional pension plans to new workers in order to limit future liabilities. Meanwhile, public workers in states from Rhode Island to California have seen pension promises scaled back as governments struggle to reduce debt.

As it is, most workers are vastly underprepared for retirement. Although coverage is near universal among the small minority of workers employed in the public sector, just over two in five private-sector workers between ages 25 and 64 are covered by pensions or 401(k)-type retirement plans in their current jobs, according to Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research. On average, workers in their prime working years have a retirement funding gap of $90,000 per household, the center has found.

The share of workers covered by traditional pensions has been dwindling since the 1980s, and now the plans are a cherished rarity for young workers.

Adding to the challenge, the recession forced many young workers to launch their careers later, which reduces their earnings — and their ability to save for retirement — in ways many are unlikely to overcome, analysts say.

Even as the labor market slowly improves, the prospects for young workers remain difficult. More than half of recent high school graduates are underemployed, as are nearly one in five recent college graduates, according to the Economic Policy Institute.


Fewer than one in three workers had defined-benefit coverage in 2010, down from 44 percent in 1995 and 88 percent in 1983, according to the Center for Retirement Research.

In addition, one-fifth of the workers in private-sector pensions and 10 percent in public-sector plans have had their benefits frozen, meaning their benefits are no longer growing or their plans are no longer accepting enrollees, or both.

The changes already are hitting retirees. Just 42 percent of people 60 and older had income from a traditional pension plan in 2010, down from over half in 2003.

“We expect that number will continue to fall,” Oakley said.

With traditional pensions in decline, workers are being forced to rely more heavily on 401(k)s and similar retirement savings vehicles. But these have proved inadequate given the erratic investment market returns of the past decade and an income squeeze that has made it difficult for many workers to save.

And of course, we need to fix this quickly, or an entire generation will lose 10-15 years of pension savings.

What we need is new laws that require employers to contribute significantly greater funds into something like Social Security: a Federally-administered national pension system, into which workers could also make tax deferred contributions. This would be similar to 401(k) plans, but would avoid their high fees and erratic returns, since they wouldn’t rely on the stock market, but would be pegged to inflation.

That’s one of the demands that we should be making, when we finally get around to marching in the streets, once we finally realize how screwed we are, otherwise.