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Reframing the Minimum-Wage Debate

Why “no job loss” is the wrong standard for setting the right wage floor.

David Howell, the American Prospect If you like reading this article, consider joining the crew of all reader-supported Evergreene Digest by contributing the equivalent of a cafe latte a month--using the donation button above—so we can bring you more just like it. September 5, 2016 | fter experiencing substantial wage gains during the shared-growth decades of the postwar era, American workers have increasingly confronted labor markets of precarious jobs that pay too little to provide a minimally decent standard of living. This reality has finally broken through politically in the movement for a $15 federal minimum wage. However, some prominent economists contend that a minimum wage high enough to provide a decent standard of living poses too high a risk of job loss.

But this fear is purely speculative; we have no reliable evidence that a $15 wage floor, phased in over four to six years, would cause declining employment opportunities for low-wage workers. Indeed, the wage threshold at which substantial employment effects are likely to occur may be considerably higher. What we do know is that a $15 wage would have big impacts on the living standards of millions of working families. The recent commitments of California and New York state to establish a $15 minimum are estimated to increase the income of more than one-third of the workers in each state. The effects on consumer demand, and consequently on other low-wage employment, will be enormous.

David Howell is a professor of economics and public policy at The New School (New York City)

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Dear Bill Clinton: The End of Welfare Isn’t the End of Poor People

  • There are still 36 million Americans living in poverty, 40% of them children. That is unconscionable in a time of wild run-ups of the stock market wealth of the “other America.” But instead of a war on poverty, Bill Clinton has settled for a war on welfare recipients, and that is hardly the same thing.
  • The Scourge of Neoliberalism: Why the Democratic Party Is Failing the Poor
  • Profiting Off The Poor and Disabled in The Poverty Industry

Robert Scheer, Truthdig you can follow Evergreene Digest on Twitter.  Dorothea Lange via C. Thomas Anderson (CC BY-SA 2.0) Truthdig Editor’s note: This piece was originally published by the Los Angeles Times on Feb. 23, 1999. Truthdig is republishing it on the 20-year anniversary of President Bill Clinton’s signing of the welfare legislation.

Aug 22, 2016 Isn’t it great how we’ve solved the welfare problem? That’s the one thing that President Clinton, Congress and even the media agree on. Gosh, those welfare rolls are declining so fast that we’re just going to run out of poor people.

But where have they gone? Are they better or worse off? Since most of the welfare population was composed of single mothers and their children, it would seem to be morally relevant to at least inquire as to how those children are doing. The answer is, not very well.

Robert Scheer, editor in chief of Truthdig, has built a reputation for strong social and political writing over his 30 years as a journalist. 

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Related: Matthew Woitunski / Wikimedia Commons   

The Scourge of Neoliberalism: Why the Democratic Party Is Failing the Poor, Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

  • "Never before has humanity depended so fully for the survival of us all on a social movement being willing to bet on impracticality," write Mark and Paul Engler, in a similar vein as John Dewey's observation, penned in the midst of the Great Depression, that it is, ultimately, "the pressure of necessity which creates and directs all political changes."
  • Related: This Is Our Neoliberal Nightmare: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Why the Market and the Wealthy Win Every Time

  • This hour, we'll discuss the rise of the poverty industry and how it plays out across the U.S. 
  • Related: Here are 7 things people who say they’re ‘fiscally conservative but socially liberal’ don’t understand

The Mythology Of Trump’s ‘Working Class’ Support

Class in America is a complicated concept, and it may be that Trump supporters see themselves as having been left behind in other respects. Since almost all of Trump’s voters so far in the primaries have been non-Hispanic whites, we can ask whether they make lower incomes than other white Americans, for instance. The answer is “no.” (This article appeared during the primaries this Spring. It is still relevant today as we analyze who are the Trump supporters.)

Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight If you like reading this article, consider joining the crew of all reader-supported Evergreene Digest by contributing the equivalent of a cafe latte a month--using the donation button above—so we can bring you more just like it. Donald Trump T-shirts were for sale before a rally for the candidate in Carmel, Indiana. Michael Conroy / AP  

May 3, 2016 | It’s been extremely common for news accounts to portray Donald Trump’s candidacy as a “working-class” rebellion against Republican elites. There are elements of truth in this perspective: Republican voters, especially Trump supporters, are unhappy about the direction of the economy. Trump voters have lower incomes than supporters of John Kasich or Marco Rubio. And things have gone so badly for the Republican “establishment” that the party may be facing an existential crisis.

But the definition of “working class” and similar terms is fuzzy, and narratives like these risk obscuring an important and perhaps counterintuitive fact about Trump’s voters: As compared with most Americans, Trump’s voters are better off. The median household income of a Trump voter so far in the primaries is about $72,000, based on estimates derived from exit polls and Census Bureau data. That’s lower than the $91,000 median for Kasich voters. But it’s well above the national median household income of about $56,000. It’s also higher than the median income for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters, which is around $61,000 for both.

Nate Silver is the founder and editor-in-chief of  FiveThirtyEight, a website that uses statistical analysis — hard numbers — to tell compelling stories about elections, politics, sports, science & health, economics and culture.

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The Future of the Progressive Movement

  • Bernie Sanders has shifted the goal posts for the Democratic Party.
  • Minimum-wage victories across the country are helping workers take back power.
  • Part 1: What’s Next for the Progressive Movement?
  • Part 2: Building a National People’s Movement

Compiled by David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest

Part 1: What’s Next for the Progressive Movement?

Bernie Sanders has shifted the goal posts for the Democratic Party.

George Goehl, American Prospect / AlterNet New York City - February 27 2016: Hundreds of New Yorkers gathered in Union Square Park to rally and march to Zuccotti Park on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Photo Credit: a katz/Shutterstock 

July 4, 2016 | When Bernie Sanders announced that he was running for president last year, people didn’t expect much from the Vermont senator. The political establishment wrote him off and the pundits berated him—“he’s a socialist for God’s sake.” Even die-hard progressives conceded his bid was a long shot.

In the months since, Sanders has not only drawn record crowds, he’s earned more than 12 million votes and won 45 percent of pledged delegates. Far and away, he’s done better than any self-declared socialist in our nation’s history. And he funded it all by raising hundreds of millions of dollars in mostly small donations from everyday people.

George Goehl is the executive director of National People’s Action, a network of metropolitan and statewide membership organizations dedicated to advancing economic and racial justice. 

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Part 2: Building a National People’s Movement

Minimum-wage victories across the country are helping workers take back power.

Andrew Friedman American Prospect Fast-food worker Maria Rodriguez joins protesters on the campus of Loyola University in Chicago on April 14, 2016, calling for a union and a $15-per-hour wage. (Photo: AP/Teresa Crawford)

July 8, 2016 | ver the past year, millions of workers have earned a raise as a result of the growing boldness of workers and organizers across the country. The success of the Fight for 15 and similar movements is no accident. Rather, it is the product of years of experimentation, perseverance, and creativity—and today, organizers may have finally hit on a powerful formula for helping workers take back some measure of power.

This success stems first and foremost from a basic reality: The economy in its current state is just not working for Americans. Nearly a decade after the 2008 recession, millions of families around the country have yet to be even touched by the recovery. Wages have stayed flat even as worker productivity has soared. Too many are stuck in jobs that don’t pay the bills, working hard and failing to even stay afloat.

Andrew Friedman is co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy.

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'Scrap the labor reforms!' Paris protesters chant under huge police presence.

  • In a months-long stand-off, neither side wants to cave in and lose face over a reform plan that opinion polls say is opposed by more than two in three French voters.
  • Related: The Globalization of Poverty: Inside the New World Order

Ingrid Melander and Brian Love, Reuters you can follow Evergreene Digest on Twitter <>.*&output-quality=75 Students and protesters gather outside the Gare de Lyon, surrounded by the police. (Photo by Etienne Rouillon/VICE News) 

Thu Jun 23, 2016 | Thousands of demonstrators marched under massive police surveillance in Paris on Thursday to try to force the government to drop its labor reforms but President Francois Hollande said he would pursue the plan "to the finishing line".

Protesters - whose numbers were put at 20,000 by police but three times that many by organizers - chanted "Scrap, scrap, the labor reform!" as they marched around the capital's Place de la Bastille square, hemmed in by large numbers of riot police.

Ingrid Melander: Writing about French politics for Reuters

and Brian Love: "Reuters Senior correspondent France. 20+ years reporting and analysing political/economic developments in France, Europe and the wider world." ...

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Related: The Globalization of Poverty: Inside the New World Order, Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research

  • In these unprecedented economic times, the world is experiencing as a whole what most of the non-industrialized world has experienced over the past several decades. For a nuanced examination of the intricacies of the global political-economic landscape and the power players within it, read: The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order ~ Michel Chossudovsky
  • Related: The Real Meaning of Brexit: Cry of Pain by the World's Working People
  • Related: Profiting Off The Poor and Disabled in The Poverty Industry