Hawaii Becomes the First State to Pass a Bill in Support of Universal Basic Income


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In Brief

This month has shown that Hawaii may be the U.S.’s most forward-thinking state. Earlier in June, it became the first state to formally accept the provisions of the Paris Climate Accord, and now, the state congress has passed a bill that puts Hawaii on the path to universal basic income.

Eyes on the Future

Innovation and forward-thinking may be Hawaii’s two biggest exports in 2017. Earlier this month, the state earned the distinction of being the first in the U.S. to formally accept the provisions of the Paris Climate Agreement after President Donald Trump decided to withdraw the nation from it, and now, Hawaii is taking the lead in embracing yet another innovative idea: universal basic income (UBI).

Today, Hawaii state representative Chris Lee wrote a Reddit post about House Concurrent Resolution 89, a bill he says he introduced in order to “start a conversation about our future.” According to Lee, “After much work and with the help of a few key colleagues, it passed both houses of the State Legislature unanimously.”

Lee also mentioned the development via Twitter:

The bill has two major provisions. First, it declares that all families in Hawaii are entitled to basic financial security. “As far as I’m told, it’s the first time any state has made such a pronouncement,” wrote Lee. The second provision establishes a number of government offices “to analyze our state’s economy and find ways to ensure all families have basic financial security, including an evaluation of different forms of a full or partial universal basic income.”

The congressman thanked “redditors” in his post, as he said the site became his first resource in considering UBI, and added a Reddit-standard TL;DR at the end: “The State of Hawaii is going to begin evaluating universal basic income.”

A Step Forward

Under a UBI program, every citizen is granted a fixed income that’s not dependent on their status in life. Despite the current focus on the concept, it actually isn’t particularly new. In fact, former U.S. President Richard Nixon actually floated the idea back in 1969.

Universal Basic Income: The Answer to Automation?
Click to View Full Infographic

However, the benefits of such a program have become more appealing in light of recent technological advances, specifically, the adoption of automated systems that could result in widespread unemployment.

Proponents of UBI have highlighted how it would be an improvement on existing social welfare programs while mitigating the effects of the joblessness expected to follow automation. Critics think that UBI would encourage a more lax attitude about work and argue that funding such a system would be difficult, if not impossible.

Existing pilot programs, however, seem to indicate otherwise.

Hawaii may be the first U.S. state to pass any sort of UBI-positive legislation, but several countries around the globe are already testing the system. Finland began its two-year UBI pilot in 2016, and Germany has one as well. Canada plans to start trials in Prince Edward Island (PEI) and Ontario, while India is currently debating the merits of UBI. Several private UBI endeavors are also in the works, including one that uses blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Of course, the implementation of any major UBI program requires a great deal of political will. As Lee wrote, “Planning for the future isn’t politically sexy and won’t win anyone an election […]. But if we do it properly, we will all be much better off for it in the long run.”

 

https://futurism.com/hawaii-becomes-the-first-state-to-pass-a-bill-in-support-of-universal-basic-income/

San Francisco City Worker Refuses to Help Tear Down Homeless Shelters ~ TheLipTV


Note: This woman is a GREAT example of BEing the change you wish to see, she didn’t comply with “orders” because it went against her conscious. She cared more about doing what’s right, instead of worrying about a paycheck or what the boss would think. If more people acted on their conscious like this, the world would literally change overnite.

Her actions may have short term consequences with her employer, but in the long run the energy she payed forward with this one act of conscious will return to her with  opportunity’s to make changes for the better in her own life.

We are the Ones we’ve been waiting for 🙂

Blessings, {~A~}

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A San Francisco Public Works employee could be facing disciplinary action for refusing to help police tear down a homeless person’s makeshift home. Though the woman’s identity was not released, the encounter was caught on video and uploaded to YouTube by the Coalition on Homelessness, an advocacy group critical of the treatment of homeless individuals. The group has urged cities to stop raiding and dismantling tent cities since last summer. California accounts for 21% of the nation’s homeless population; Of that, 63.7% lack shelter. Sasha Kai Parker and Jo Ankier discuss the implications the shelter removal could create for the homeless on the Lip News.

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2016…

Affordable Housing Crisis Grows Across the Country as Apartment Rents Skyrocket


A new national report finds homelessness is also rising.

Photo Credit: facebook.com/CrownHeightsTenantUnion/photos

On Monday, New York City took a dramatic step that highlights just how out of control rental housing costs have become in the Big Apple and in many cities nationwide. For the first time, New York froze rents for one-year leases on a million rent-stabilized apartments.

“Today’s decision means relief,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters. “We know tenants have been forced to make painful choices that pitted ever-rising rent against necessities like groceries, child care and medical bills.”

Landlords balked and citicized City Hall, calling the move an “unconscionable, politically driven decision.” But Rent Board chair Rachel Godsil was having none of it. Her staff had found that landlord incomes had grown for nine years in a row, including by 3.4 percent last year, while costs only grew by 0.5 percent. In contrast, a majority of most stabilized renters faced continuing income stagnation.

New York City’s struggle with affordable rental housing is part of a nationwide trend that has seen rental housing costs skyrocket in recent years as the housing market has mostly recovered from the 2008 recession, which was in part fueled by real estate speculation and Wall Street aggressively repackaging and reselling risky high-interest mortgages.

According to a new study by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, vast stretches of the county are facing a rental housing crisis marked by big rent spikes. “The number of cost-burdened renters [paying more than 30 percent of incomes]… set a new high in 2013 of 20.8 million, totaling just under half of all renter households,” Harvard researchers found. “Although the number of severely burdened renters edged down slightly, the number of moderately burdened renters climbed by a larger amount.”

Most low to moderate income households are feeling a very big pinch. The researchers said that 80 percent of households with annual incomes under $15,000, three-quarters of renters with incomes up between $15,000 and $29,999, and 45 percent of households earning up to $44,999, are all “severely burdened,” with non-whites and single mothers facing the greatest financial stress.

“Minorities and certain types of households are especially likely to have severe housing cost burdens,” the report said. “Indeed, 26 percent of black households, 23 percent of Hispanic households, and 20 percent of Asian and other minority households were severely burdened in 2013, compared with just 14 percent of white households. Nearly a third of single-parent families also had severe burdens, compared with a tenth of married couples with children. Finally, more than half of households headed by an unemployed individual in 2013 were severely housing cost burdened.”

Cities where these pressures are prevalent include Los Angeles, New York, Honolulu, Miami, Las Vegas and Orlando, they said. “Moreover, affordability pressures in the 10 most expensive markets reach further up the income scale. In fact, nearly half (48 percent) of households with incomes of $45,000–74,999 were housing cost burdened in these metros—more than twice the share (22 percent) nationally. As a result, the nearly 20 million households living in the 10 highest-cost metros must earn well above the national median income of $51,900 to live in housing they can afford.”

The causes for these spikes in rent come from a mix of private and public sector trends. On the private sector side, the housing market crash has led to a slowdown in building or improving rental housing stock in many regions, which has boosted rents when housing becomes available. Meanwhile, government affordable housing subsidies available for renters have effectively shrunk, because they have failed to keep up with increases.

“Unmet need has continued to grow despite real increases in federal appropriations for two of HUD’s largest programs—housing choice vouchers and project-based rental assistance—between FY2005 and FY2015,” it reported. “But instead of serving more households, most of the increased funding was offset by the higher costs of assistance due to rising market rents.”

One major consequence of a costlier rental market is that recent efforts to find housing for the homeless is backtracking in some regions, the researchers said.

“The lack of affordable housing in the United States continues to leave nearly 600,000 people homeless,” they wrote. “More than a third are people in families, including 130,000 children under the age of 18. By comparison, chronically homeless individuals (those who have been without a place to live for at least a year or have had repeated episodes of homelessness over the past few years) account for a much smaller share (15 percent) of the homeless population.”

The researchers said homelessness is on the rise, even though “recent increases in federal funding have aided progress in reducing both homelessness overall and among the most vulnerable groups.”

“The national reduction in homelessness is not apparent in all markets,” it said. “Rising rents and a dwindling supply of affordable rentals continue to put people at risk, especially in high-cost locations. Indeed, total homelessness jumped by 29 percent in New York and 40 percent in Massachusetts between 2007 and 2014. The increase in the District of Columbia was even larger, at 46 percent. Family homelessness is particularly acute in major cities, which were home to 45 percent of this population in 2014. New York City headed the list with 41,600 homeless people in families, or nearly 20 percent of the national total.”

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s retirement crisis, democracy and voting rights, and campaigns and elections. He is the author of “Count My Vote: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting” (AlterNet Books, 2008).

http://www.alternet.org/economy/affordable-housing-crisis-grows-across-country-apartment-rents-skyrocket

Shoes That Grow: A Solution For Millions Of Poverty-Stricken Children


Courtesy of FollowingWorldChange.wordpress.com

Source: True Activist

In 2007, Kenton Lee was walking through Nairobi, Kenya (Africa) when he noticed that not only were children cutting the toes off their shoes to make them fit, the majority of them did not have any shoes at all. There to work with 140 orphaned children affected by AIDs/HIV, he felt desperately that some sort of solution was needed for both of these concerns.

When Kenton talked to the orphanage director, he was advised that they did not receive shoe donations from the U.S. Clearly, such a solution would not be sustainable either, as the shoes for the growing children’s feet would only fit six months before they became too small.

Frustrated by the issue presented, Lee began to think, “Why are we donating things that don’t make sense for these kids? Why are we still doing the same old thing if it doesn’t work as well as it needs to? Can’t we do this a better way?”
These questions prompted Lee to found an organization called Because International. The team’s intent is to work together with those who are living in extreme poverty, listen to what they say, and then help to turn their dreams into a reality.

Before long, Lee came up with the brilliant concept of a shoe that was adjustable and could last for approximately 10 years. The idea manifested into a product called ‘The Shoe That Grows’. Two adjustable shoe creations have now been invented, one size small, and one size large. The first will adjust to fit from pre-school to approximately grade four or five, and the second fits from grades four or five to approximately grade nine. This means that with just TWO pairs of shoes, these children can have dependable footwear throughout their entire school career.
The quest to ensure children have a pair of shoes is not only an issue for comfort, it is a health concern too. Worldwide, over two billion people suffer from soil-transmitted parasites and diseases, therefore these shoes will protect the children’s feet in more ways than one. The new design also offers better protection than a regular pair of shoes due to their innovative design and concept.

Because the shoes are designed to easily compress, they can easily ship overseas for very cheap. A pair of 50 shoes, for example, can fit in one suitcase on an airplane.

The organization has presently set up a funding campaign and are now ready to process their largest order for 5,000 pairs of shoes which will be delivered by missionary and church groups this summer.

To donate one pair of shoes costs only $10, and the organization has set up a very simple process so that it only takes a moment to place an order and support this cause. The donated shoes will then be assigned to a duffel bag, which will be sent around the world to children in need.

For more information, please visit (and support) both The Shoe That Grows and Because International to help supply the world with much-needed footwear.

http://wearechange.org/shoes-that-grow-a-solution-for-millions-of-poverty-stricken-children/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wrc+%28We+Are+Change%29

Welcome Home: A Tiny House, Huge Purpose….Random acts of Kindness ROCK!!


This is the beautiful story about a man who built a home for a homeless grandmother who was in his area. We can all make a difference. Sometimes we need to open our eyes and pay attention.
Check out the facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/mythpla

Most People Ignored This Homeless Man, But Those Who Looked Closer Were In For A Surprise


Big Daws is better known for his Youtube prank videos, like eating junking food at a gym and pretending to know strangers. But this time he decided to do something different. He lives in Tempe, Arizona, and found an interesting way to bring awareness to the homeless population.

According to the Arizona Department of Economic Security, in 2012 there were 22,350 adults and 5,805 children registered as homeless. That was a 12 percent increase over the previous year. The Arizona Commission on Homelessness and Housing (ACHH) was established by Governor Janice Brewer and is a formal state plan designed to end veteran homelessness by 2015 and chronic homelessness by 2016.

20 homeless camps return 24 hours after sweep; some UH employees nervous


Note: The media could’ve covered this story from an angle of compassion, instead the emphasis from  the beginning imprints “fear” toward people who have been dispossessed by society. The illegal occupation and overthrow of the Kanaka Maoli (Hawaiian culture) led a once wealthy kingdom and it’s peoples down a path toward poverty, illiteracy, pestilence and ultimately virtual genocide. Now those who fall between the cracks are being marginalized by society and criminalized by the system.

Sadly, a once thriving culture has been virtually decimated by Western values and greed, it’s time for a change (an overhaul) in our collective thinking in order to preserve the beauty, wisdom, spirituality and sound cultural traditions embodied by the Polynesian tribes and their cultural counterparts around the globe. Aloha, ~A~}

Posted: Jul 02, 2014

By Keoki Kerr

 Homeless camp in Kakaako
Homeless camp in Kakaako
KAKAAKO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Less than 24 hours after Honolulu police swept the sidewalk of homeless camps across from the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine in Kaakako, the same stretch was filled with 20 tents again Wednesday, as some UH employees said the homeless make them uneasy after hours.

UH Cancer Center intern Sasha Canovali , who walks several blocks to her parking lot, said the homeless problem has gotten worse there in the last month.

“It’s definitely increased. I’ve seen a lot more tents. I saw the police out here yesterday moving people but they came right back the same afternoon,” Canovali said.

She told us on camera what other med school and Cancer Center personnel said off-camera: that they’re scared to walk these streets at night and on the weekends.

“Sometimes I leave late and I get a little nervous when I walk to my car,” Canovali said.

Another UH Cancer Center employee sent us an email that said “I used to work late nights and even on weekend but I no longer do because it feels unsafe.”

Cheyenne Suka lives in one of the tents across from the med school. He and his 10-year-old daughter and six-year-old son have been homeless in Kakaako for four months.

Suka, who said he is disabled after suffering a stroke that affected his right arm and leg, said people should not be scared of most of the homeless living near the medical school.

“We don’t cause no harm over here. It’s just other the people who are way on the far side,” Suka said.

He said many of the people living on those sidewalks are families with young children.

“Family on that side. Family on this side. Mostly, I do … I have a whole bunch of kids that come here in the evening. We eat dinner over here and we make prayer,” Suka said.

Abby Sylvester parks on-street right next to the homeless tents to take her three-year-old daughter to speech therapy appointments nearby twice a week.

SEE VIDEO

“They’re always very friendly, they always say hi. So I’m not concerned for my safety. It’s just a little inconvenient more,” said Sylvester. “I’m a social worker. I think that people are people, it just happens that they’re houseless.”

The med school and cancer center sent its employees an email this week reminding them that they can ask for security guards to escort them to their parking lots.

“Please call for help when you feel threatened. If someone is accosted or hurt by someone else the police need to know about it in order to take appropriate actions,” said Elwyn Watkins, the John A. Burns School of Medicine building and security systems engineer.

“Nothing can be done if everyone only talks amongst each other and no one reports it. Non-reporting only leads our community leaders to believe there is no problem,”Watkinss wrote in the email.

Spokeswomen for both the school of medicine and the cancer center said they had not heard of any employees or guests threatened or assaulted by homeless people in recent months.

The two facilities held their first security seminar for employees in March, something that they are now planning to make an annual event. The seminar featured talks by Honolulu Police Department and UH security officials.

Copyright 2014 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/25930842/20-homeless-camps-return-24-hours-after-sweep-some-uh-employees-nervous

We Made New Cancer Drug For Rich White People Not (Ick) Poor Indian People, Pharma Giant CEO Actually Says Out Loud


by Abby Zimet

Indian cancer patients camped outside the hospital where they are being treated

Right up there in the annals of multinational corporations doing heinous things in the name of obscene profits comes the response of the German-based Bayer to India’s unprecedented ending of the pharmaceutical giant’s monopoly for a new, insanely expensive anti-cancer drug Nexavar – a brave move that allows a small Indian drug company to make a generic version of the drug that regular poor sick people can actually afford. One year of treatment with Nexavar, used largely in liver and kidney cancer cases, costs $96,000 in the U.S. and $69,000 in India, or 41 times the per capita income; India’s Natco Ltd. made it for $177 a year. Outraged Bayer officials charged the Indian action allowing poor people to have their fancy drug was “essentially theft” and they will damn sure explore their legal options to the ends of the (white people’s) earth to “defend our intellectual property rights.” We know all about turning the other cheek and meeting hate with love, but still: May they one day need medicine they cannot get.

“We did not develop this medicine (Nexavar) for Indians,” said Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers at a little reported pharmaceutical conference. “We developed it for Western patients who can afford it.”

http://www.commondreams.org/further/2014/01/31-14

Feeding the Homeless Banned in Cities All Across America


What would you do if you came across someone on the street that had not had anything to eat for several days? Would you give that person some food? Well, the next time you get that impulse you might want to check if it is still legal to feed the homeless where you live. Sadly, feeding the homeless has been banned in major cities all over America. Back in January 2012, 40,000 new laws went into effect all over America. The politicians continue to hit us with wave after wave of regulations and laws with no end in sight. For this Christmas, as the number of homeless people in Los Angeles County continues to rise, the City Council is weighing a ban on feeding homeless people in public areas, joining the nationwide ban on feeding those in poverty. This is an attempt to make difficult problems disappear. It’s both callous and ineffective. The homeless population in Los Angeles is the second highest in the country, following New York City. Los Angeles County’s homeless population rose 15% from 2011 to 2013, to nearly 53,800 individuals, according to a report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development released last week. Over 50 cities have previously adopted some kind of anti-camping or anti-food-sharing laws,after the Occupy Movement sustained a powerful free public campsite with food services from September to November 2011. It saw homeless citizens get cleaned up, maintain a clean park, scrubbing even the bricks clean every night, despite ludicrous media reports of the opposite. This is about a breakdown of community & good will. They know not what they do, but many are willfully doing wrong every single day. This Christmas remember it takes YOU to act to build a better world. Bring back Christmas in your towns…. Educate and Feed those lost in a wrongful system. We are the people of our planet Earth and we are better than this

 

GOP War on Poor Continues as House Approves Huge Cut to Food Stamps



An estimated 4 to 6 million hungry Americans would be kicked out of SNAP program.

House Republicans approved nearly $40 billion in cuts to the food stamps program Thursday evening on a tight  217-210 vote. Fifteen Republicans defected to vote “no” on the measure, which is projected to kick millions of people off of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates Thursday’s cuts will bump at least 4 million and up to 6 million people out of the program, and even the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates  3.8 million would lose benefits next year with an additional 2.8 million losing them each year on average over the decade.

The bill passed Thursday seeks to pare back food stamp participation by changing eligibility requirements  in a few different ways. In addition to adding work requirements modeled on the reforms that  helped cripple the efficacy of welfare, the Republican bill  ends something called “categorical eligibility”whereby people enrolled in other low-income safety net benefits can skip much of the bureaucracy and paperwork involved in applying for food stamps. While categorical eligibility reduces administrative costs in the program, Republicans argue that it makes federal anti-hunger spending too generous. The program provides  $133 per month on average and is already scheduled for a significant cut in November as a stimulus provision expires. Furthermore, constraining eligibility for SNAP will mean some hungry people get hungrier:  Nearly half of the country’s 50 million hungry people have pre-tax incomes high enough to make them ineligible for SNAP without categorical eligibility, according to Feeding America, and nearly a third earn more than 185 percent of the federal poverty level income.

The House cuts amount to about 5 percent of the projected ten-year cost of SNAP, which currently serves one in seven Americans as the jobs crisis brought on by the financial crisis continues. Enrollment in SNAP tracks with the health of the economy, as safety net programs are designed to do, but Republicans have  repeatedly insisted that there is something untoward about the rapid expansion of the food stamp rolls in the worst economy the country has seen in about eight decades.

SNAP is one of the three  most effective anti-poverty programs the government has, keeping 4 million people out of poverty last year alone. The cuts Republicans propose are  likely to create greater costs down the road than what they save the government in the near term.

The House and Senate must now reconcile their positions on SNAP, which the top agricultural policymaker in the Senate  has warned will be very difficult on the shortened timeline House leaders have created by waiting until mid-September to act on food assistance. The Senate’s farm bill  included a $4 billion cut to SNAP, meaning that cuts in some amount are likely should the two chambers manage to strike a deal.

http://www.alternet.org/hard-times-usa/house-gop-cuts-40-billion-food-stamps?akid=10960.321917.vcjLMb&rd=1&src=newsletter899325&t=9

How American Society Unravelled After Greedy Elites Robbed the Country Blind



Thirty years ago, the old deal that held US society together started to unwind, with social cohesion sacrificed to greed.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/ Rob Kints

In or around 1978, America’s character changed. For almost half a century, the United States had been a relatively egalitarian, secure, middle-class democracy, with structures in place that supported the aspirations of ordinary people. You might call it the period of theRoosevelt Republic. Wars, strikes, racial tensions and youth rebellion all roiled national life, but a basic deal among Americans still held, in belief if not always in fact: work hard, follow the rules, educate your children, and you will be rewarded, not just with a decent life and the prospect of a better one for your kids, but with recognition from society, a place at the table.

This unwritten contract came with a series of riders and clauses that left large numbers of Americans – black people and other minorities, women, gay people – out, or only halfway in. But the country had the tools to correct its own flaws, and it used them: healthy democratic institutions such as Congress, courts, churches, schools, news organisations, business-labour partnerships. The civil rights movement of the 1960s was a nonviolent mass uprising led by black southerners, but it drew essential support from all of these institutions, which recognised the moral and legal justice of its claims, or, at the very least, the need for social peace. The Roosevelt Republic had plenty of injustice, but it also had the power of self-correction.

Americans were no less greedy, ignorant, selfish and violent then than they are today, and no more generous, fair-minded and idealistic. But the institutions of American democracy, stronger than the excesses of individuals, were usually able to contain and channel them to more useful ends. Human nature does not change, but social structures can, and they did.

At the time, the late 1970s felt like shapeless, dreary, forgettable years. Jimmy Carter was in the White House, preaching austerity and public-spiritedness, and hardly anyone was listening. The hideous term “stagflation”, which combined the normally opposed economic phenomena of stagnation and inflation, perfectly captured the doldrums of that moment. It is only with the hindsight of a full generation that we can see how many things were beginning to shift across the American landscape, sending the country spinning into a new era.

In Youngstown, Ohio, the steel mills that had been the city’s foundation for a century closed, one after another, with breathtaking speed, taking 50,000 jobs from a small industrial river valley, leaving nothing to replace them. In Cupertino, California, the Apple Computer Company released the first popular personal computer, the Apple II. Across California, voters passed Proposition 13, launching a tax revolt that began the erosion of public funding for what had been the country’s best school system. In Washington, corporations organised themselves into a powerful lobby that spent millions of dollars to defeat the kind of labour and consumer bills they had once accepted as part of the social contract. Newt Gingrich came to Congress as a conservative Republican with the singular ambition to tear it down and build his own and his party’s power on the rubble. On Wall Street, Salomon Brothers pioneered a new financial product called mortgage-backed securities, and then became the first investment bank to go public.

The large currents of the past generation – deindustrialisation, the flattening of average wages, the financialisation of the economy, income inequality, the growth of information technology, the flood of money into Washington, the rise of the political right – all had their origins in the late 70s. The US became more entrepreneurial and less bureaucratic, more individualistic and less communitarian, more free and less equal, more tolerant and less fair. Banking and technology, concentrated on the coasts, turned into engines of wealth, replacing the world of stuff with the world of bits, but without creating broad prosperity, while the heartland hollowed out. The institutions that had been the foundation of middle-class democracy, from public schools and secure jobs to flourishing newspapers and functioning legislatures, were set on the course of a long decline. It as a period that I call the Unwinding.

In one view, the Unwinding is just a return to the normal state of American life. By this deterministic analysis, the US has always been a wide-open, free-wheeling country, with a high tolerance for big winners and big losers as the price of equal opportunity in a dynamic society. If the US brand of capitalism has rougher edges than that of other democracies, it is worth the trade-off for growth and mobility. There is nothing unusual about the six surviving heirs to the Walmart fortunepossessing between them the same wealth as the bottom 42% of Americans – that’s the country’s default setting. Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates are the reincarnation of Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie,Steven Cohen is another JP Morgan, Jay-Z is Jay Gatsby.

The rules and regulations of the Roosevelt Republic were aberrations brought on by accidents of history – depression, world war, the cold war – that induced Americans to surrender a degree of freedom in exchange for security. There would have been no Glass-Steagall Act, separating commercial from investment banking, without the bank failures of 1933; no great middle-class boom if the US economy had not been the only one left standing after the second world war; no bargain between business, labour and government without a shared sense of national interest in the face of foreign enemies; no social solidarity without the door to immigrants remaining closed through the middle of the century.

Once American pre-eminence was challenged by international competitors, and the economy hit rough seas in the 70s, and the sense of existential threat from abroad subsided, the deal was off.Globalisation, technology and immigration hurried the Unwinding along, as inexorable as winds and tides. It is sentimental at best, if not ahistorical, to imagine that the social contract could ever have survived – like wanting to hang on to a world of nuclear families and manual typewriters.

This deterministic view is undeniable but incomplete. What it leaves out of the picture is human choice. A fuller explanation of the Unwinding takes into account these large historical influences, but also the way they were exploited by US elites – the leaders of the institutions that have fallen into disrepair. America’s postwar responsibilities demanded co-operation between the two parties in Congress, and when the cold war waned, the co-operation was bound to diminish with it. But there was nothing historically determined about the poisonous atmosphere and demonising language that Gingrich and other conservative ideologues spread through US politics. These tactics served their narrow, short-term interests, and when the Gingrich revolution brought Republicans to power in Congress, the tactics were affirmed. Gingrich is now a has-been, but Washington today is as much his city as anyone’s.

It was impossible for Youngstown’s steel companies to withstand global competition and local disinvestment, but there was nothing inevitable about the aftermath – an unmanaged free-for-all in which unemployed workers were left to fend for themselves, while corporate raiders bought the idle hulks of the mills with debt in the form of junk bonds and stripped out the remaining value. It may have been inevitable that the constraints imposed on US banks by the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 would start to slip off in the era of global finance. But it was a political choice on the part of Congress and President Bill Clinton to deregulate Wall Street so thoroughly that nothing stood between the big banks and the destruction of the economy.

Much has been written about the effects of globalisation during the past generation. Much less has been said about the change in social norms that accompanied it. American elites took the vast transformation of the economy as a signal to rewrite the rules that used to govern their behaviour: a senator only resorting to the filibuster on rare occasions; a CEO limiting his salary to only 40 times what his average employees made instead of 800 times; a giant corporation paying its share of taxesinstead of inventing creative ways to pay next to zero. There will always be isolated lawbreakers in high places; what destroys morale below is the systematic corner-cutting, the rule-bending, the self-dealing.

Earlier this year, Al Gore made $100m (£64m) in a single month by selling Current TV to al-Jazeera for $70m and cashing in his shares of Apple stock for $30m. Never mind that al-Jazeera is owned by the government of Qatar, whose oil exports and views of women and minorities make a mockery of the ideas that Gore propounds in a book or film every other year. Never mind that his Apple stock came with his position on the company’s board, a gift to a former presidential contender. Gore used to be a patrician politician whose career seemed inspired by the ideal of public service. Today – not unlike Tony Blair – he has traded on a life in politics to join the rarefied class of the global super-rich.

It is no wonder that more and more Americans believe the game is rigged. It is no wonder that they buy houses they cannot afford and then walk away from the mortgage when they can no longer pay. Once the social contract is shredded, once the deal is off, only suckers still play by the rules.

George Packer’s The Unwinding is published by Faber & Faber.

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/how-american-society-unravelled?paging=off

 

Letter to Money Holders ~ by HopeGirl587


Posted: April 15, 2013 in One People’s Public Trust (OPPT)

A letter to all non-Illuminati royal families, Prosperity Programs Trustees, White Knights, defenders and protectors of NESARA, Iraqi Dinar Whales, protectors of the Wanta-Reagan-Mitterand Protocols, positive military and militia members, our Galactic Family, and all others not yet known who are in a position to implement great changes.

~~~~~~~~~

Focus on all that is good, honorable and is bathed in Love…

 

When Your Boss Steals Your Wages: The Invisible Epidemic That’s Sweeping America


 

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Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing AlterNet series, “The Age of Fraud.

Imagine you’ve just landed a job with a big-time retailer. Your task is to load and unload boxes from trucks and containers. It’s back-breaking work. You toil 12 to 16 hours a day, often without a lunch break. Sweat drenches your clothes in the 90-degree heat, but you keep going: your kids need their dinner. One day, your supervisor tells you that instead of being paid an hourly wage, you will now get paid for the number of containers you load or unload. This will be great for you, your supervisor says: More money!  But you open your next paycheck to find it shrunken to the point that you are no longer even making minimum wage. You complain to your supervisor, who promptly sends you home without pay for the day. If you pipe up again, you’ll be looking for another job.

Everardo Carrillo says that’s just what happened to him and other low-wage employees who worked at a Southern California warehouse run by a Walmart contractor. Carrillo and his fellow workers have launched a multi-class-action lawsuit for massive wage theft (Everardo Carrillo et al. v. Schneider Logistics) in a case that’s finally bringing national attention to an invisible epidemic. (Walmart, despite its claims that it has no responsibility for what its contractors do, has been named a defendant [3].)

What happened to Carrillo happens every day in America. And it could happen to you.

How big is the problem?

Americans like to think that a fair day’s work brings a fair day’s pay. Cheating workers of their wages may seem like a problem of 19th-century sweatshops. But it’s back and taking a terrible toll. We’re talking billions of dollars in wages; millions of workers affected each year. A gigantic heist is being perpetrated against working people: they’re getting screwed on overtime, denied their tips, shortchanged on benefits, defrauded on payroll, and handed paychecks that bounce like rubber balls. A conservative estimate of unpaid overtime alone shows that it costs workers at least $19 billion per year.

The laws protecting workers are grossly inadequate [4], and wage thieves go unpunished. For giant companies like Walmart, Citigroup and UPS, getting fined is just the cost of doing business. You could even say that they’re incentivized to cheat because punishment is so unlikely, and when it happens, so light. The protections we used to take for granted, like the right to receive at least the minimum wage, the right to workers’ compensation when hurt on the job, and the right to advocate for better working conditions, are nothing more than a quaint memory for many Americans. Activist Kim Bobo, author of Wage Theft in America,calls it a “national crime wave.”

{Like this article? Follow me on Twitter [5].}

The sheer scope of the problem is jaw-dropping, sweeping across key industries and inflicting massive damage on individuals and society as a whole. In 2009, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) released a ground-breaking study, “Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers,” which found that in America, an honest day’s work is frequently rewarded with theft and abuse. A survey of over 4,000 workers in Chicago, L.A. and New York found that minimum and overtime violations were rife, and any attempt to complain or organize was swiftly met with punishment. Among the revelations:

  • 26 percent of low-wage workers got paid less than the minimum wage.
  • 76 percent of workers toiling over 40 hours were denied overtime.
  • Workers lose an average of $2,634 a year due to these and other workplace violations.

Who gets cheated?

Women, minorities, immigrants, and workers at the bottom of the wage scale are hardest hit, but wage theft is thriving across the employment spectrum.

People hired for jobs like yard work and domestic services in which the employer pays cash are denied social insurance like Social Security, and often what’s paid doesn’t add up to minimum wage. Some employees are paid for piece work, like the number of shirts produced in a garment factory, and get cheated when the tally falls below minimum wage (that’s one of the things that’s alleged to have happened to Carrillo). Another common form of theft is the “last paycheck” scam in which a worker is either fired or quits and finds that her final wages are withheld.

Low-wage tip workers are frequently the victims of theft in which the boss illegally keeps tips or makes you pay for your uniform or a ride to the job site. Restaurants are infamous for paying wages below the legal minimum; some charge a fee to convert credit card tips into cash, while others simply steal tips outright. When I was in college, I waited tables at a restaurant where the manager required the waiters to turn over tips at the end of the day, ostensibly so a certain percentage could be distributed among the cooks and other staff. I thought my manager was doing something to create fairness. Actually, he was stealing tips.

Then there’s the payroll fraud scam. Misclassifying workers as independent contractors means the business doesn’t pay overtime, employer contributions to Social Security and Medicare, or unemployment insurance. Sometimes bosses misclassify by mistake, but often they do it knowingly. Temporary and seasonal workers are especially vulnerable. The construction and trucking industries are notorious offenders, but payroll fraud impacts people like engineers, financial advisers, adjunct professors, and IT professionals. It doesn’t matter if you have agreed to call yourself an independent contractor, you may not be under the law.

Two tests are commonly used [6] to determine your status: the Department of Labor “economic reality” test and the IRS “Right to Control Test.” These tests consider questions like: Do you set your own hours? Can you make a profit or loss depending on how you do the job? Is the job contracted for a specific time period?  Unfortunately, various federal and state entities have their own criteria, creating widespread confusion. The independent contractor issue is one of the fastest growing areas of litigation, with class actions by independent contractors jumping by 50 percent in 2010 [7]Congress [8] has introduced bills to deal with this problem, but they tend to die in committee.

You might think that joining the managerial ranks would protect you from wage theft. You would be wrong. Some people are given titles as managers so they can be forced to work overtime without extra pay. Managers pressured to “improve their numbers” sometimes resort to falsifying employee records. Others deny breaks or deduct the break from the workers’ wages. Walmart has engaged in so many of these practices that researcher Susan Miloser of Washington & Lee Law School refers to retail wage theft as a result of managerial strain the “Walmart Pinch.”

How did we get here?

The world of work in America has fundamentally changed in the last 30 years, and not for the better.

In her paper, “Picking Pockets for Profit,” Susan Miloser traces a struggle for protection that began over a century ago with the public outcry over brutal workhouses where recent immigrants, women and children were paid substandard wages. Massachusetts was the first state to enact minimum wage legislation in 1912. Then came the Great Depression, and President Franklin Roosevelt responded with New Deal legislation that included the Fair Labor Standards Act pushed by his labor secretary, Frances Perkins. One of the key things the Fair Labor Standard Act did was ensure a minimum wage under the theory that wages were subject to something economists call “market failure.” The idea is that you, as a worker, are at a serious disadvantage compared to your boss when negotiating your wages. So the government has to intervene to correct this failure of the market and create a more level playing field.

The act also made provisions regulating payment for overtime. Employers who violated the law could be sued for back pay and damages. Roosevelt insisted that businesses that violated fair labor standards were toxic to the economy: “Goods produced under conditions that do not meet rudimentary standards of decency should be regarded as contraband and ought not to be allowed to pollute the channels of interstate trade,” he said. Roosevelt, we may assume, would frown on shopping at Walmart.

Clearly, the New Deal has somehow transformed into the Raw Deal. Since the rise of Ronald Reagan, the American workplace has been morphing from a relatively level playing field into a theater of exploitation. This process has been aided and abetted by influential economists known as “free-market fundamentalists,” who dominate the Ivy League and policy circles. They have convinced policy makers and politicians that a voluntary system magically guided by an “invisible hand” produces outcomes that are good for most people. In their view, the economy is a system of equal exchanges between workers and employers in which everybody who does her part is respected and comes out ahead. Obviously, they don’t focus their research on labor: they may talk about unemployment or wages – keeping the former high and the latter low — but the conditions workers face are completely off the radar of these economists. (If you’d like to see how this kind of thinking plays in the mainstream media, take a gander at a recent post by Slate’s Matt Yglesias: “Different Places Have Different Safety Rules and That’s OK. [9]”)

Here’s where we are: the twin evils of high unemployment and economic inequality have joined forces to turn workers into so many expendable units in the great capitalist machine. Union-busting, globalization, outsourcing, downsizing, and recession have turned dignified jobs into opportunities for employer predation. I have called job insecurity the “Disease of the 21st Century [10]” and it has clearly metastasized into a situation in which people are terrified of doing or saying anything to jeopardize employment, no matter how egregious the abuse. As long as there aren’t enough jobs, bosses maintain the upper hand. In the face of public opposition and recent revelations about the flaws in research used to support austerity [11], deficits are still the focus of economic policy rather than job creation. All of this conspires to protect crooked employers and exploit workers, making wage theft a crime without punishment.

What do we do?

The Department of Labor is supposed to enforce fair labor practices, but budget cutting at the insistence of Big Business has had the desired effect. Currently, there are only 1,000 enforcement officers protecting 135 million workers. That would be enough to cover, say, the city of Chicago. Maybe! You can place a claim through the department, but you may not get results. Workers are often left to fend for themselves. (One thing every worker can do is consult the website CanMyBossDoThat.com [12] to at least get a sense of your rights.)

In Wage Theft in America, Kim Bobo outlines a variety of things that communities and activists are doing to address the crisis, from creating task forces to identifying agencies that help low-wage workers know when they are being cheated. There’s been some good news: campaigns to strengthen wage theft laws in several states, cities and counties are underway. The state of New York has enacted statewide legislation to protect workers from wage theft. In Miami-Dade County, a city-wide ordinance [13] was established in 2010 which focuses on eliminating the underpayment or nonpayment of wages and targeting unscrupulous businesses. Chicago’s newly adopted wage theft ordinance [14] will strip employers of their business license if they are caught cheating workers. But the key word is “if.” Methods are sneaky and workers often have no idea that they are being robbed.

Local direct actions have sometimes been effective in highlighting and shaming wage thieves. In Seattle, Eric Galanti of the Admiral Pub tried to withhold the final paycheck of his cook Lucio when he was deported to Mexico. But Lucio’s family, along with advocacy groups like Casa Latina, fought back by plastering the city with posters, placing messages on social media and picketing. Finally, Galanti gave in [15]. Stories like this are encouraging, but it’s hard to imagine that sort of thing working in, say, Mississippi.

Immigration reform is a key piece of the puzzle — it will help many low-wage, undocumented workers from being exploited by wage thieves who use deportation as the threat. Modernizing record-keeping, imposing criminal liability on wage thieves, and increasing public awareness of wage fraud would also help to combat the problem. High unemployment remains one of the biggest factors in encouraging wage theft, but we’re not making good progress in that area. The sequester is expected to lay off 750,000 Americans this year alone. Instead of helping the problem, our elected officials are worsening it. Until these issues are addressed, workers will remain vulnerable to predatory bosses. And that costs everybody.

http://www.alternet.org/print/labor/when-your-boss-steals-your-wages-invisible-epidemic-thats-sweeping-america

 

New record: 15 percent of Americans on food stamps


Published time: March 11, 2013 

Government dependability is continuing to rise, with a record-breaking number of Americans enrolled to receive food stamps. The latest USDA report shows that 47.8 million Americans, which make up 15 percent of the country, are receiving the benefits.

The US Department of Agriculture has announced that 47.79 million people were enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in December, which is up from the 46.61 million who were enrolled at the end of 2011.

Most of these individuals lived in Texas – the state with the highest average of monthly participants, which was 4.04 million in 2012. California had 3.96 million participants and Florida had 3.35 million. The numbers are high, but reasonable, since those states are among the top four most populated in the US. But Washington, DC has the highest ratio of food stamp users. With a population of 617,996 and 141,147 SNAP participants, about 23 percent of city residents were dependent on food stamps in 2012. Texas falls close to the national average, with 15.5 percent of its residents eligible to receive the assistance.

But with an increase of 1.18 million SNAP users in a year and a federal budget deficit expected to hit about $845 billion this year, the rising number of Americans on food stamps simply adds to the costs.

“We spend a trillion dollars each year on federal poverty programs. That’s more than the budget for Social Security or Defense,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, during his weekly address. “But poverty seems only to increase. Something is wrong. Compassion demands that we change.”

Referencing data that shows one in three Washington DC children living in poverty, two thirds of which live in single parent homes, Sessions discussed a problem that is only getting worse.

“Americans are committed to helping our sisters and brothers who are struggling, but we are seeing the damaging human consequences of our broken welfare state,” he added.

But the rise in food stamp users is not a new dilemma. Last Thanksgiving, a record-breaking 13 percent of Americans spent the holiday season relying on the SNAP program. During the fiscal year 2011, nearly 20 million children – a quarter of all US children – were being fed with food stamps.  And the number of food stamp users has been creeping up every month, as millions of Americans continue to sink into poverty.

All-time records continue to be broken, and news agencies have largely stopped reporting on the rise in food stamps each month.

As unemployment once again dropped last week, reaching 7.7 percent, the rise in SNAP enrollment is another disheartening economic indicator about the state of the US economy.

http://rt.com/usa/food-stamps-record-americans-119/

 

The GOP Plan to Flush Your State’s Economy Down the Toilet The new “red-state model” seeks to turn your state into Mississippi.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

February 11, 2013

The GOP has plans for a comeback. But it may cost you a lot. The idea is to capitalize on recent Republican state takeovers to conduct an austerity experiment known as the new “red-state model” and prove that faulty policies can be turned into gold.

There will be smoke. There will be mirrors. And there will be a lot of ordinary people suffering needlessly in the wake of this ideological train wreck.

We already have a red-state model, and it’s called Mississippi. Or Texas. Or any number of states characterized by low public investment, worker abuse, environmental degradation, educational backwardness, high rates of unwanted pregnancy, poor health, and so on.

Now the GOP is determined to bring that horrible model to the rest of America.

In Kansas, the Wall Street Journal reports that Governor Sam Brownback is aiming to up his profile “by turning Kansas into what he calls Exhibit A for how sharp cuts in taxes and government spending can generate jobs, wean residents off public aid and spur economic growth.” In remarks quoted in the same article, Brownback announced that “My focus is to create a red-state model that allows the Republican ticket to say, ‘See, we’ve got a different way, and it works.’ ”

Brownback’s economic inspiration is Reagan-era supply-side economist Arthur Laffer and the folks at Americans for Prosperity, the conservative outfit backed by the deep coffers of the Koch brothers.

This new austerity talk focused on “fiscal innovations” is emboldening Republicans in other states that have been gerrymandered into submission to the GOP, including Indiana, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, and alas, my home state of North Carolina.

Republications have been eyeing the Tar Heel state with interest due to its recent swing status in presidential elections. The state was also the target of a gerrymandering strategy that worked out wonderfully for the Republicans, but not so well for democracy. Sam Wang, the founder of the Princeton Election Consortium, wrote recently in the New York Times about how Republican redistricting thwarted Democratic voters:

“Although gerrymandering is usually thought of as a bipartisan offense, the rather asymmetrical results may surprise you….I have developed approaches to detect such shenanigans by looking only at election returns. To see how the sleuthing works, start with the naïve standard that the party that wins more than half the votes should get at least half the seats. In November, five states failed to clear even this low bar: Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. … In North Carolina, where the two-party House vote was 51 percent Democratic, 49 percent Republican, the average simulated delegation was seven Democrats and six Republicans. The actual outcome? Four Democrats, nine Republicans — a split that occurred in less than 1 percent of simulations. If districts were drawn fairly, this lopsided discrepancy would hardly ever occur.”

The lesson of North Carolina tells you that the GOP red-state model is based, first and foremost, on efforts to flagrantly disregard the will of the people. NC’s discount-store mogul Art Pope, a longtime GOP donor and champion of free-market fundamentalism, has been appointed state budget director by the new Republican governor, Pat McCrory. In an incredible display of money buying political influence, Pope has gone well beyond his donor-counterparts in other states. Instead of just funding the politicians he wants, he has gone for direct rule by occupying government himself. Tax repeal is the centerpiece of his announced plans, but his hatred of public investment means he has much more than that in store for one of the most progressive states in the South. Pope is said to be more powerful than the governor, giving rise to the term “Pope administration” to describe the new political reality.

GOP pols are vying to out-do each other in extreme red-state programming. NC state senator Bob Rucho is pushing a plan to eliminate the state’s income taxes altogether. Such plans go hand-in-hand with calls for increasing the sales tax. Because low-income people pay a higher proportion of their income in sales taxes, abolishing income taxes and raising sales taxes shoves tax burdens onto them. Obviously, the Republicans will not give up on their passionate desire to cut taxes on the wealthy and stick it to the poor and the middle class.

Pope’s ideological opposition to public investment is ringing alarm bells. North Carolina, a state where progressives have fought conservative forces tooth and nail to achieve an enviable university system and a reputation for high-tech and research, is now in danger of being thrown into a period of regressive darkness. University of North Carolina sociologist Andrew Perrin put it this way: “Public investment is part of what has set North Carolina apart from our neighbors in the South.”

But Pope is hell-bent on turning North Carolina into Mississippi.

The GOP economic plans not only subvert common sense and the lessons of history (being played out right now in places like the U.K., where austerity has failed dramatically), they also flip a giant middle finger at the American voter. Unable to win support at the national level for their foolhardy economic programs, Republicans have turned their attention to state-level action because that’s where gerrymandering really works wonders.

Red-state model proponents claim that their maneuvers will spark economic growth. But that was basically what George W. Bush had in mind when he supported a similar program for cutting taxes on the rich. That didn’t work out so well, and increased the very deficits Republicans decry.

But here’s the really scary part. Slashing taxes, squeezing workers and throwing out environmental protections can indeed lure businesses to states where they won’t have to pay their fair share and can get away with all sorts of abuse. If a state like North Carolina promotes such policies, businesses from nearby states like Virginia may indeed move their operations down the road. Unless you believe in the “Confidence Fairy,” as Paul Krugman calls the naïve GOP faith that making everybody poorer is the way to become rich, then you know that what results is simply trade diversion, not genuine growth. In other words, one state’s gain is another state’s loss. The result is a headlong race-to-the-bottom whereby the states losing business will be pressured to slash their taxes and burden their workers and ordinary citizens, too. Nobody wins in that game — except the 1 percent.

The blue-state model, evident in high-income states like Massachusetts, has long been associated with high levels of state investments in education, transportation and other public goods. And guess what? It’s also associated with economic strength. The red-state model, on the other hand, is linked to backwardness, second-rate educational systems and economic weakness.

What the GOP wants to do is create an image-problem for blue states where taxes have been raised to balance budgets and continue vital services and jobs by crying “Look, Ma! No taxes!” in the states where they’ve taken control.

They’ll soon be able to say, “Look, Ma! No economy.”

Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet senior editor. She is cofounder of Recessionwire, founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of ‘Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture.’ She received her Ph.d in English and Cultural Theory from NYU, where she has taught essay writing and semiotics. She is the Director of AlterNet’s New Economic Dialogue Project. Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.

http://www.alternet.org/economy/gop-plan-flush-your-states-economy-down-toilet?paging=off

 

Charles Shaw at Burning Man 2012 ~ “Living in the Exile Nation: The War on Consciousness”


Published on Nov 21, 2012

Charles Shaw gives the 4th talk of the opening day of Palenque Norte at Burning Man 2012.

Sign up for the Palenque Norte mailing list at http:/eepurl.com/rOhGv

LIVING IN THE EXILE NATION: THE WAR ON CONSCIOUSNESS

Charles takes you on a journey through the history of the War on Consciousness and Cognitive Liberty, more commonly known as the “War on Drugs.” Through an examination of the political agenda behind drug prohibition, we will explore the various mechanisms of social control inherent in the prohibition model. Also discussed will be the 40+ year war on psychedelic medicine, the recent sea change in opinion regarding decriminalization, the history of drug trafficking, and the experiences of Portugal as a 10-year world leader in decriminalization.

“Having a felony conviction, and having a drug conviction, essentially makes you a second class citizen.”

“For the lower classes, the poorer classes, which generally in this country are people of color, drug laws have always been used as a way to control them.”

“And if you take away the distinction between tobacco and alcohol and cannabis and cocaine or alkaloids or whatever, what you’ve got is a war against altering consciousness.”

“But what they’re trying to stop more than anything is ideas. Because what it is is a war of ideas. And it is a war of control, a breaking away from an external control factor, like a government, or a religion, or an ideology, or an economy that enslaves you, and thinking outside the box in revolutionary terms to try to solve it.”

“It’s no secret that psychedelics change consciousness. It’s no secret that they’re revolutionary. I mean, we’ve known this for a while. What is absolutely fascinating to me is how easily that culture was dismissed.”

“The true revolutionary leaders, I think, are going to be the ones who figure out how to not go in the street and how to disseminate the revolution by other means.”

“I also think that the real revolution is going to come from women, personally. I think enough guys have tried to lead the revolution, and it’s always the same thing because men have the same intentions, we always enter into a war paradigm. And we’ve gotta stop that war paradigm, and at least the feminine will allow us to get out of that war paradigm and get into something that is a collaborative negotiation of disputes and grievances. But I don’t know what’s that going to look like.”

[NOTE: All quotations are by Charles Shaw.]

Charles Shaw is an award-winning journalist and editor, and the author of the critically-acclaimed memoir Exile Nation: Drugs, Prisons, Politics & Spirituality. His work has appeared in Alternet, Guardian UK, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, Reality Sandwich, and Znet. In 2009, he was recognized by the San Diego Press Club for excellence in journalism.

EXILENATION.ORG

 

Michael Tellinger – Opening Speech in the Supreme Court 29 July 2011


Michael Tellinger is a real hero, one we can all take example from…

Published on Jan 23, 2013

This is the opening statement made by a nervous Michael Tellinger in his first ever appearance against the banks in South Africa – in the Supreme Court of Johannesburg – 29 July 2011
An inspirational message for those who seek true justice and a new way ahead for humanity.
In October 2010, Michael Tellinger took the conscious decision to start challenging the South African banks about their fraudulent activities and the extortion of the people. He consciously defied paying his mortgage home loan to get into court and be given an opportunity to bring the unscrupulous behaviour of the banks to the attention of the public and the ignorant courts.
His intention was to sacrifice his property in Midrand, South Africa and to use it to find justice for all the people who did not yet understand the extent to which their lives are being manipulated and controlled by the banksters.
Scott Cundill had also stood up to the banksters at this stage and the two of them were lumped together by the legal system to appeared in the Supreme Court of Johannesburg on the 29th July 2011. Every attempt was made to classify the two as members of some kind of cult with an agenda against the banks.
The media labelled them as naive, crazy and just trying to wangle their way out of debt. Out of thousands of cases that have been argued in courts by ordinary people against the banks in South Africa — the banks have won every single case. Any scientist or statistician will tell us that there is something wrong with this equation and that there must be some kind of manipulation taking place behind the scenes.
By 21 December 2012, both Tellinger and Cundill — which includes the New Economic Rights Alliance, had lost all their actions against the banks — but they are not down and out – the actions continues.
What has transpired is that the media has finally been educated and have woken up to the gross exploitation and crimes committed by the banksters against every single human being alive today. And now the media is beginning to ask their own questions of the banksters.
The incredible thing is that to date the ordinary people who have stood up to the banks, have not been given a chance to cross examine the banskters in court, and the judgement keep piling up by the thousands against the people.
The legal system is perfectly structured to protect the corporations at all cost, and deny people access to justice through its deeply convoluted and very expensive structures that no ordinary human being can afford.
There is no opportunity for justice to the people. The system has to change to serve the people and not the corporations. After all – the courts are supposed to be PEOPLE’S COURTS and the government that appoints the judges, is supposed to be a servant of the people.

 

35 Statistics About The Working Poor In America That Will Blow Your Mind


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Michael Snyder, Contributor
Activist Post

In America tonight, tens of millions of men and women will struggle to get to sleep because they are stressed out about not making enough money even though they are working as hard as they possibly can. They are called “the working poor”, and their numbers are absolutely exploding.

As a recent Gallup poll showed, Americans are more concerned about the economy than they are about anything else. But why are Americans so stressed out about our economic situation if things are supposedly getting better?

Well, the truth is that unemployment is not actually going down, and the real unemployment numbers are actually much worse than what is officially being reported by the government. But unemployment is only part of the story.  Most American workers are still able to find jobs, but an increasing proportion of them are not able to make ends meet at the end of the month. Our economy continues to bleed good paying middle class jobs, and to a large degree those jobs are being replaced by low income jobs. Approximately one-fourth of all American workers make 10 dollars an hour or less at this point, and we see them all around us every day. They flip our burgers, they cut our hair and they take our money at the supermarket.  In many homes, both parents are working multiple jobs, and yet when a child gets sick or a car breaks down they find that they don’t have enough money to pay the bill. Many of these families have gone into tremendous amounts of debt in order to try to stay afloat, but once you get caught in a cycle of debt it can be incredibly difficult to break out of that.

So what is the solution?

Well, the easy answer would be that we need the U.S. economy to start producing more good-paying jobs, but that is easier said than done.  Our big corporations continue to ship huge numbers of good paying manufacturing jobs out of the country, and millions of Americans have been forced to scramble to find whatever work is available.
Today, there are so many very talented American workers that are trapped in low-wage work.  According to the Working Poor Families Project,

about one-fourth of adults in low-income working families were employed in just eight occupations, as cashiers, cooks, health aids, janitors, maids, retail salespersons, waiters and waitresses, or drivers.

A lot of those people could do so much more for society, but they don’t have the opportunity.

Sadly, the percentage of low-paying jobs in our economy continues to increase with each passing year, so this is a problem that is only going to get worse.  So don’t look down on the working poor.  The good-paying job that you have right now could disappear at any time and you could end up joining their ranks very soon.

The following are 35 statistics about the working poor in America that will blow your mind…

#1 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 146 million Americans are either “poor” or “low income”.

#2 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 57 percent of all American children live in a home that is either “poor” or “low income”.

#3 Back in 2007, about 28 percent of all working families were considered to be among “the working poor”.  Today, that number is up to 32 percent even though our politicians tell us that the economy is supposedly recovering.

#4 Back in 2007, 21 million U.S. children lived in “working poor” homes.  Today, that number is up to 23.5 million.

#5 In Arkansas, Mississippi and New Mexico, more than 40 percent all of working families are considered to be “low income”.

#6 Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

#7 Half of all American workers earn $505 or less per week.

#8 At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.

#9 Today, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low-wage work than any other major industrialized nation.

#10 Median household income in the United States has fallen for four consecutive years.

#11 Median household income for families with children dropped by a whopping $6,300 between 2001 and 2011.

#12 The U.S. economy continues to trade good paying jobs for low paying jobs.  60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low-wage jobs.

#13 Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs.  Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low-income jobs.

#14 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.

#15 There are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing.  That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.

#16 Low-income families spend about 8.6 percent of their incomes on gasoline.  Other families spend about 2.1 percent.

#17 In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.

#18 According to one survey, 77 percent of all Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.

#19 Millions of working poor families in America end up taking on debt in a desperate attempt to stay afloat, but before too long they find themselves in a debt trap that they can never escape.  According to a recent article in the New York Times, the average debt burden for U.S. households that earn $20,000 a year or less “more than doubled to $26,000 between 2001 and 2010“.

#20 In 1989, the debt to income ratio of the average American family was about 58 percent.  Today it is up to 154 percent.

#21 According to the Economic Policy Institute, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans households on average have 288 times the amount of wealth that the average middle class American family does.

#22 In the United States today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.

#23 According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.

#24 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have a net worth that is roughly equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans combined.

#25 Sadly, the bottom 60 percent of all Americans own just 2.3 percent of all the financial wealth in the United States.

#26 The average CEO now makes approximately 350 times as much as the average American worker makes.

#27 Corporate profits as a percentage of GDP are at an all-time high.  Meanwhile, wages as a percentage of GDP are near an all-time low.

#28 Today, 40 percent of all Americans have $500 or less in savings.

#29 The number of families in the United States living on 2 dollars a day or less more than doubled between 1996 and 2011.

#30 The number of Americans on food stamps has grown from 17 million in the year 2000 to more than 47 million today. #31 Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps.  Today, about one out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps.

#32 More than one out of every four children in the United States is enrolled in the food stamp program.

#33 Incredibly, a higher percentage of children is living in poverty in America today than was the case back in 1975.

#34 If you can believe it, the federal government hands out money to 128 million Americans every single month.

#35 Federal spending on welfare has reached nearly a trillion dollars a year, and it is being projected that it will increase by another 80 percent over the next decade.

This article first appeared here at the Economic Collapse Blog.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.

http://www.activistpost.com/2013/01/35-statistics-about-working-poor-in.html

 

Homeless in Suburbia


As more suburban students face homelessness, schools have a crucial role to play in ensuring their safety and fair treatment.
January 3, 2013  |

Photo Credit: Lee Prince | Shutterstock.com

In Denver’s western suburbs, a social studies teacher thought up a novel approach to teaching her students the unsettling realities of urban homelessness. She assigned them the task of sleeping overnight in the backseat of the family car.

But the assignment held a surprise in store for the teacher—one that provides a glimpse into the reality of 21st-century poverty in America. The teacher did not realize that one of her students was homeless. The girl had already spent many nights in her parents’ car.

“These days in suburbia, you never know who you will have in your class,” says Sheree Conyers, homeless liaison for the Jeffco Public Schools of Jefferson County, Colorado. “These are hard times. So many of our families are in transition.”

A decade ago, the Jeffco Schools had just 59 homeless students in a district that serves about 86,000 students. By 2012, there were close to 3,000, representing 3 percent of the district enrollments. At Parr Elementary School, 28 percent of the students were homeless, according to a 2012 report.

The increasing poverty in Jefferson County, where close to one in three students qualifies for free and reduced  price lunch, reflects the explosion of poverty in suburbs nationwide. Throughout the 2000s, the suburbs were home to the largest and fastest-growing poor population in the nation, according to a 2011 analysis of U.S. Census data by the Brookings Institution. From 2000 to 2010, the report also says, poverty grew by 53 percent in the nation’s suburbs.

This rapid change has left many educators behind. They are still teaching as if the suburbs have remained immune from the poverty that has long troubled urban areas, says M.J. Lechner, a University of Colorado-Denver professor who oversees seven student teachers at Parr. “Some teachers have been responsive [to the changes],” she says, “while others are still struggling to give up the notion that all kids are the same as they were 10 years ago.”

A Poorly Defined Problem

The explosion in suburban poverty is part of a larger, more disturbing trend. Childhood poverty nationwide is at its highest point since 1993, with 16.5 million, or 22 percent of children ages 18 and under living in poor families, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Race is still a factor. For African-American children, the poverty rate was 38 percent; for Latino children, it was 32 percent.

Being classified as “poor” means that a family of four earns no more than $22,314. However, the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University estimates that families typically need twice that income to cover their basic needs. That looser definition puts 44 percent of American children in low-income families.

The growth in suburban poverty has had a major impact on suburban schools, like those near Denver. Without the safety net of social services that city governments provide for the urban poor, suburban schools have had to scramble to set up programs that address basic needs, such as adequate food and clothing, for their students from low-income families.

The Jeffco district has established school-based food banks and an emergency fund for health needs, such as eyeglasses or medication. It also has held clothing drives at schools with large homeless populations. Schools feed students free or low-cost meals during the week, but not on the weekends. So 13 Jeffco schools have partnered with community sponsors and local food banks to provide food for the weekends.

At Parr, school officials have even altered the curriculum to accommodate homeless students. But some teachers have not adjusted to the new reality. “If a student has neither the place nor the tools with which to complete tasks sent home, they are often reprimanded or punished by missing recess,” Lechner says. “This makes our homeless population feel even more singled out and ostracized.”

Who Are the New Suburban Poor?

According to Scott Allard, an associate professor at the University of Chicago, the new suburban poor are a mix of old and new poverty. In more mature cities, like Chicago and New York, poverty has grown up around the inner-ring suburbs, where urban families have migrated from rundown city neighborhoods and the recession has deepened financial need. Many such communities experienced a spike in poverty during the economic downturn of the late 1980s.

The new suburban poverty, says Allard, has developed in the outer-ring suburbs, which underwent tremendous growth in the 1990s and 2000s. New immigration patterns have brought immigrants directly to the suburbs as well, unlike previous waves of newcomers who first settled in urban areas. In addition, Allard says, these outer-ring suburbs were hit hard by the recession, and by the subprime mortgage bust, which has led to foreclosure on more than 6 million homes.

“It’s not unusual for immigrants now to go straight to the suburbs and become part of the working poor,” says Allard. “The changes in the suburbs have been significant.”

This means that the face of suburban poverty can be diverse. Impoverished immigrants may lack both language skills and job prospects. In addition, some who were once members of the suburban middle class have lost their jobs and their homes. A traditional view of America’s underclass is that poverty is a cultural phenomenon that gets passed down from generation to generation. But the new suburban poverty, at least in part, comprises families descended from the middle class who find themselves suddenly poor.

How Educators Can Help

Teachers can help low-income students simply by knowing all their students better. A teacher who’s aware that a student is sleeping in a car—or just struggling to stay in her house—will be more sensitive about approaching topics like homelessness. Teachers can also help by confronting biased attitudes against low-income neighbors. Jokes about “rednecks,” “white trash” or dressing “ghetto” should be addressed as they come up in classrooms and hallways.

But much of the most important work needs to take place at the administrative level. Here are some tips for school administrators who might be seeing widespread poverty at school for the first time:

Watch for changes of address.Families facing sudden poverty may move a lot. In many cases, the parents are understandably afraid their children will be forced out of a desirable school or district. This puts great stress on the students—stress the school or district can ease in part by helping the parents understand their rights.

Work around the car culture.Gasoline and car maintenance can be huge expenses. Don’t assume that parents can always shuttle their kids to and from school activities.

Become familiar with the McKinney-Vento Act. This federal law guarantees the rights of children and youth experiencing homelessness to a free and appropriate public education. It requires a local homeless education liaison in every school district. It also ensures enrollment, access to services, school stability and academic support.

Help with fees. Students who are suddenly impoverished usually avoid field trips and extracurricular activities that require fees. In some cases, they’ll even misbehave right before a big event to be prohibited from going. Make sure teachers are on the lookout for this behavior, and make sure the school has a response. For example, see if the PTA can create a fund to keep these students from being marginalized.

Find out what’s needed. Ask parents what’s needed to help their children stay in school. Perhaps they need the library open late a few nights a week to have a place to go after school. Perhaps students need more computer access to complete assignments. Perhaps they need help with meals or transportation.

Provide services. After the problems have been identified, advocate for ways to address them.

Conyers, Jeffco’s homeless liaison, says one of the simplest things educators and support staff can do is to simply remain alert. A student’s sudden poverty is likely to show up in increased absences, exhaustion, mood changes, change in performance and an unkempt appearance.

Also, educators should understand that the families of these students now face the daunting task of navigating the labyrinthine social-service network—a disorienting and often embarrassing task. “These former middle-class families don’t know how to apply for food stamps, they don’t know where to begin,” Conyers says. “There needs to be more hand-holding.”

Combating the “Culture of Poverty”

Educators grappling with the new poverty in the suburbs often turn to popular writers such as Charles Murray and Ruby Payne. They will find themselves misled.

According to The New York Times, “The libertarian writer Charles Murray has probably done more than any other contemporary thinker to keep alive the idea of a ‘culture of poverty,’ the theory that poor people are trapped by distorted norms and aspirations and not merely material deprivation.”

Murray reinforced that idea in his 2012 book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010. One of his long-held beliefs is that social programs make the problems of poverty worse, not better. But Murray’s libertarian beliefs leave him little room to do more than call for less government. “I don’t do solutions very well,” he says.

Payne, an educational consultant, has had a more direct impact on schools. Her work is rooted in a long-held view that much of American poverty is generational, with children growing up in families that have been mired in the underclass for two or more generations. Although her outlook is popular, critics argue that her characterizations are overly simplistic, even bigoted, and harm relations between teachers and students.

According to Payne, children whose families have been poor for generations tend to value relationships over achievement, believe in physical fighting to resolve conflicts, view the world through a strictly local lens and value food for its quantity rather than quality.

Low-income children run into problems, says Payne, because their schools are run on the hidden rules of the middle class. These rules hold that work and achievement are the driving forces for decision-making, that fights are conducted with words rather than fists, the world is defined in national terms, and food is valued for its quality rather than quantity.

Paul Gorski, an assistant professor of integrated studies at George Mason University, says that Payne’s approach—considered a “deficit” model because it focuses on what low-income children lack—doesn’t hold up. The increasing diversity of the poor in the suburbs, he says, makes such an approach even harder to justify. “The suburban poor are diverse, and becoming even more diverse, so the stereotypical version of the poor, urban person just doesn’t work anymore.”

Gorski says that educators need to move away from a focus on the “culture of poverty.” Instead, they should look at more structural issues, such as the lack of resources in some schools that teach the poorest children. Today, that includes suburban schools struggling to address the needs of a new wave of impoverished children.

“We talk about education being the great equalizer, yet our poorest students are in the least equipped schools,” he says. “We don’t need to fix poor people. We need to fix the system.”

David McKay Wilson, a regular contributor to the Harvard Education Letter, traveled to India in 2003 to interview workers enslaved in bonded labor in the state of Tamil Nadu.

http://www.alternet.org/education/homeless-suburbia?akid=9903.321917.7ORVuJ&rd=1&src=newsletter772815&t=20&paging=off

 

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