Friday, December 31, 2004

The Altar of Free Market Capitalism

Do we ignore the fact that millions of Americans work full time jobs and live in poverty? Do we blame the victims or look at the system that creates them? Do we treat them as unfortunate consequences of our economic system? Do we think of their condition as natural selection at work? Do we write them off? Do we write their children off too? Is this what America is about? Is this what our founding fathers envisioned for our future? Should it not be a basic right to be paid a living wage? Should millions of our children spend the most important years of their lives in poverty? Do we sacrifice millions on the altar of free market capitalism? Our people, our workers, our children are the strength and future of our nation. What is more important than our people and our families? Our nation is our people!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Myths And Facts About Low-Income Working Families

Myth: Low-income families do not work.
Fact: Seventy-one percent of low-income families work.

Myth: Low-income working families do not work hard.
Fact: The average annual work effort for low-income working families is 2,500 hours, equal to 1.2 full-time jobs.

Myth: Low-income working families are headed by single parents.
Fact: Fifty-one percent of low-income working families are headed by a married couple.

Myth: Low income-working families are headed by immigrants.
Fact: Seventy-two percent of low-income working families have American-born parents only.

Myth: Low-income working families have very young parents.
Fact: Eighty-eight percent of low-income working families have a parent between 25 and 54 years old.

Myth: Low-income working families are overwhelmingly minority.
Fact: Forty-seven percent of low-income working families have white, non-Hispanic parents only; 28 percent have an Hispanic parent, and 20 percent have an Africa-American parent.

Fact: 9.2 million working families in America are low-income.

Fact: Twenty million children live in low-income families.

Fact: The percentage of American families in poverty has not changed in three decades.

Fact: The percentage of working families that are low-income varies significantly among the states, from 15 percent in two states to more than 35 percent in seven states.

Fact: Twenty percent of American jobs pay less than $8.84 an hour, a poverty-level wage for a family of four.

Fact: A full-time job at the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour cannot keep a family of three out of poverty.

Source: American Community Survey 2002
U.S. Census Bureau

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 23: The 1948 United Nations General Assembly proclamation of Universal Human Rights states that everyone should have the following:

1. The right to work
2. Free choice of employment
3. Just and favorable conditions of work
4. Protection against unemployment
5. Equal pay for equal work
6. A just and adequate wage to provide for the worker and his/her family an existence with human dignity.
7. Social protection to insure an adequate wage and human dignity
8. The right to form trade unions to protect their interest

I think that Thomas Jefferson would agree that given the realities of this culture, these rights could easily be labeled “certain unalienable rights.” I think that Jefferson might argue that “the lack of these rights would lead to the marginalizing of a significant segment of the population.” “This marginalized segment of the population, as a result of their job/financial situation cannot effectively participate in the democratic process.” If you can’t pay your rent you are not likely to be spending time writing your congressman. You will be trying get enough money to keep yourself from being throw into the street. Poor citizens with no hope and no dignity are not citizens who can truly be part of the process that shapes their futures.

So when we look at these eight rights from Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that seem to fit in our time as “certain unalienable rights”, do they fit into the popular concept or mental framework of what is thought to be “certain unalienable rights?” No! - these rights that should be central to the very foundation of our culture are rarely discussed and never the focus of political discussion.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

"More Equal Than Others" by Godfrey Hodgson

Recommended reading: “More Equal Than Others” by Godfrey Hodgson. This is a recently published book by a renowned British journalist and historian. It is a political history of the last twenty-five years of what Hodgson calls “the conservative ascendancy” in America. He argues that the combination of conservative ideology and corporate power have caused America to abandon much of what was best in its past. He writes that income and wealth inequality have become so extreme that America now resembles the class-stratified societies of early-twentieth-century Europe. This is an insightful and extremely professional look at the last twenty-five years of our political history.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.