September 28, 2006

Rescuing Morality

David Callahan is author of the book The Moral Center, and explains that progressives desperately need to reclaim the moral high ground from evangelicals and religious right-wing loudmouths that seem to dominate the debate when it comes to “morality” and “values.” Building on the set of ideas on how progressives could stop being afraid of values and morals discussions in the public eye and instead embrace them and show the American people that the moral authority stands with the progressive community-that truly American morals and values sound like equality, justice, opportunity, fairness, equal standing under the law, charity, privacy, freedom to choose the direction of one’s own life, as opposed to the “values” traditionally embodied by the right and the conservatives, which generally encourage things like “equality…for the privileged and our friends,” “justice…for the wealthy,” “freedom to choose the direction of one’s own life….as long as we approve,” and “opportunity…for the privileged few.”

Progressives certainly need to step up to the soapbox to reclaim the debate over those kinds of ethics and value norms that I don’t think any American could stand against-there’s a great depth of Americans who stand for things like personal freedom and personal responsibility, and they can very easily be tapped by progressive politicians and activists if they spoke the right language-the same language that the conservatives seem to know how to speak.

From Callahan’s article:

Polls show that church-going whites favor Republicans by a nearly 25-point margin and that the GOP also holds a huge edge among married parents. Unless Democrats can address this deficit, dreams of a new majority will remain just that.

To start with, progressives must face up to the extraordinarily negative views that voters hold about America’s moral state. A poll taken earlier this year, for instance, found that only 11 percent of Americans thought things were getting better when it came to values. Eighty-one percent said things were getting worse. People’s views have remained bleak despite much good news over recent years: Crime is down. Abortion is down. Teen pregnancy is down. Even the divorce rate has fallen.

Why the public’s persistent moral anxiety? A close study of opinion polls suggest that the hot-button issues of abortion and gay marriage are of less worry than a wide panoply of concerns—like greed and materialism, lax personal and corporate integrity, a more exploitative media, unabated poverty and the erosion of family life by both economic and cultural pressures.

The public’s moral outlook defies easy labels. Most people agree that individuals need to behave better—and also agree that Americans need to take better care of each other. The public believes in both personal and collective responsibility. Yet conservatives have cynically focused the values debate strictly on individual behavior. And they have channeled today’s moral anxiety—along with deep-seated gender and racial biases—for political gain.

Progressives need to change the conversation. One fresh way to do this is to focus attention on the morally corrosive impact of commercial forces. While the cultural divide between modernism and traditionalism is real, there is a bigger struggle underway in America—one between human values and market values.

He’s absolutely right, and Callahan goes on to discuss in detail exactly what some of those commercial forces are, and some more areas of interest for progressives to join the fray and begin to truly take the “morality” label away from conservatives, who have misused terms like “family values” for years.

[ Rescuing Morality ]
Source: TomPaine.com

September 26, 2006

12 Traps That Keep Progressives From Winning

George Lakren, writing for Alternet, is at it again with another excellent list that runs down some of the biggest “traps” that progressives fall for whenever conservatives play them in a campaign. We’ve all seen it a dozen times, good progressive candidates go down in flames because they want to turn the election into a referendum on policies and issues, and conservatives who slap them around with vague politico chatter about their values and how they’ll “uphold” them and so on and so forth. The trouble is, those techniques work, and they have for years, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing-it’s not so much that talking about issues is bad and playing on voter emotions is good, it’s that if you manage to combine the values with the issues, you have a serious winning progressive on your hands. Allow me the opening of the article, which puts the idea into historical perspective:

Richard Wirthlin, chief strategist for former president Ronald Reagan, made a discovery in 1980 that profoundly changed American politics. As a pollster, he was taught that people vote for candidates on the basis of the candidates’ positions on issues. But his initial polls for Reagan revealed something fascinating: Voters who didn’t agree with Reagan on the issues still wanted to vote for him.

Mystified, Wirthlin studied the matter further. He discovered just what made people want to vote for Reagan. Reagan talked about values rather than issues. Communicating values mattered more than specific policy positions. Reagan connected with people; he communicated well. Reagan also appeared authentic — he seemed to believe what he said. And because he talked about his values, connected with people and appeared authentic, they felt they could trust him. For these four reasons — values, connection, authenticity and trust — voters identified with Reagan; they felt he was one of them. It was not because all of his values matched theirs exactly. It was not because he was from their socioeconomic class or subculture. It was because they believed in the integrity of his connection with them as well as the connection between his worldview and his actions.

Whatever we may think of Reagan, this has been a winning formula for conservatives for the past quarter century. Progressives need to learn from it.

It’s true-we need to stop playing the sterile line and while staying upbeat and positive, we also have to express to the American people that their values are our values, and always have been. No American can honestly say they don’t support helping the poor help themselves, no American can honestly say they don’t want strong ties to our foreign allies, especially in an age of terrorism and doubt. No American can say they don’t want their children to have health care, whether they’re able to pay high premiums or not, for example. Our values are equality, fairness, justice, our values are compassion, fiscal responsibility, and a stronger America on the global stage-we have to push those things.

The traps, however, are easy to fall into-one of them, trap number 7, is my personal favorite-I’ve heard it so many times that it’s hard not to roll my eyes when I hear it again, and a lot of people, even on the progressive side, are fooled by it:

7. The Centrist Trap

There is a common belief that there is an ideological “center” — large group of voters either with a consistent ideology of their own or lined up left to right on the issues or forming a “mainstream,” all with the same positions on issues. In fact, the so-called center is actually made up of biconceptuals, people who are conservative in some aspects of life and progressive in others. Voters who self-identify as “conservative” often have significant progressive values in important areas of life. We should address these “partial progressive” biconceptuals through their progressive identities, which are often systematic and extensive.

A common mistaken ideology has convinced many progressives that they must “move to the right” to get more votes. In reality, this is counterproductive. By moving to the right, progressives actually help activate the right’s values and give up on their own. In the process, they also alienate their base.

Agreed, wholeheartedly. If this doesn’t give you a good idea of how on point this list is, I don’t know what will.

[ 12 Traps That Keep Progressives From Winning ]
Source: Alternet

September 22, 2006

What Getting Emergency Contraception Is Like

I cheered when the Morning-After Pill went over the counter, like many people did. I thought it was a victory for everyone everywhere, women and men, who wanted to be able to exercise more control over their own private lives, that it meant that finally in situations where an emergency contraceptive is needed, people could finally get it without a hassle, or needing a prescription.

I was wrong. Never underestimate the sexists, the hatemongers, the evangelicals, and yes, dare I say it, the conservatives who would make sure that every action when it comes to sex is closely regulated, not just by their own self-prescribed higher authority, but by their own sensibilities. Nothing’s better than being in a bind and being told that someone else is going to have to tell you what’s best for you regardless of what you think and feel, and what’s even worse, someone else gets to judge you and ask you an array of personal questions to decide whether or not you’re acceptable to recieve medical care. In no other case aside from birth control and now, the morning after pill, are women grilled over their sexual behavior and lifestyle, no other case are they interrogated, usually by men or evangelical relgious types or the just plain inexcusably ignorant. And in no case whatsoever are men subject to the same torturous questioning.

It’s a damned shame, and the fact that you can’t just walk into a phramacy and purchase the pill from the counter and that you still have to get a pharmacist who doesn’t have “moral objections,” which are somehow acceptable an excuse to keep them from doing their job makes it even worse. I happened today upon one woman’s story when she, a woman in a relationship with three kids and practicing safe, responsible sex, happened to have a condom break, and her subsequent tale, ultimately ending in depressing failure, about how she tried to get the emergency contraceptive pill from several different locations only to find closed Planned Parenthoods (this is why we need to support Planned Parenthood), urgent care clinics where the nurses are so idiotic that they confuse the emergency contraceptive pill with the “abortion pill” (RU-486) and when corrected on it says “Well here we use the term interchangably,” ERs where the doctors grill you on every aspect of your sex life and ultimately turn you away if you’re not married or were raped, and more BS that sound more like a dystopian nightmare than 21st century America.

But then again, to these people, it’s not about you, me, this poor woman and her needs, or even providing adequate medical care, it’s about upholding their own ridiculous sense of morality, which would be fine if they applied it to themselves, but the killer is that it’s about oppressing others with it-forcing it on everyone around them, and occupying a position where people come to you for help and using it to serve their own conservative agenda and moral advantage.

Here’s an excerpt from her story:

Folks, the condom broke Friday night and I searched all weekend for someone who could prescribe me EC. It is now Monday and I have to report that I have been unable to find anyone who will write me a fucking prescription for EC. None of the hospitals in the surrounding counties would write it for me. I stopped my search at about 100 miles from my home because my telephone book wouldn’t take me out any further than that.

I have been asked about my sexual practices. Whether I’m ‘monogamous’ or ‘in a relationship’ if I’m married, if I have kids, how many kids I have, if I was raped or ‘traumatized’ but there wasn’t’ ONE question about my health. Not one. The few places that said that they had a doctor who would occasionally write prescriptions for EC told me that I had to ask for that doctor specifically and then they proceeded to tell me that I would be ‘interviewed’ to see if I meet that doctors ‘criteria’ and then they proceeded to ask me all the above questions before telling me that I should ‘try anyway’ and I ‘might be able to talk him into it’.

I can’t believe it myself, and I wish there were something that I could do aside from support progressive and pro-choice organizations and politicians, and remember how incredibly important it is to do so. The commenters have a great many excellent suggestions, many of them very very good, but the problem is that many of them that would likely work are somewhat disingenious, like getting a college student or someone else to get it for her, or lying and claiming she was raped to sate the moral-high-ground-ists, but the problem with all of those suggestions, as the author points out in a later comment, is that they’re all lying, and she’s not a liar, and besides, wasn’t the point of making it over the counter so you don’t HAVE to go through this nonsense? I completely agree.

My heart goes out to the author who had to suffer this kind of injustice, and it serves as a poignant reminder of exactly how much work there is left to be done, and how much seixsm, false morality, and inequality there still is out there to rile against.

[ Morality Clauses, EC, and Broken Condoms ]
Source: The Biting Beaver (via Feministing and BoingBoing)

Top Ten Ways We Got Jacked by Conservatives

A glorious, but short list of how conservatives, who only champion smaller government and budget cuts when they don’t have liberatin’ to do and citizens to impoverish, have managed to shove their hands deeper into our wallets and purses than any “tax and spend” democrat ever managed to do. From tax cuts that favor the absolute wealthiest Americans to the highest defecit, debt, and trade imbalance in history, Nomi Prins gives us the top 10 ways the conservatives in government have stripped us of our hard earned money since 2001.

My favorite is number nine:

9) In 1983, the Greenspan Commission put Social Security measures in place that created a $1.7 trillion surplus in the system. This administration borrowed against and cut that to $153 billion while blaming citizens for not dying young enough.

You heard em, everyone-get busy dying! We should all be doing our part to fix their screw-ups, and if that means kicking the bucket, then so be it. Then again, if we were really to embody the spirit of their ideology, we should all enlist first and go “spread some democracy,” that way we can take care of two birds with one stone, since we all know by now that our lives and livlihoods aren’t anywhere near the top of the conservative agenda.

[ Top Ten Ways We Got Jacked by Conservatives ]
Source: Alternet

The ‘Harder To Vote’ Act

I smell a return to the days of poll taxing and “quizzing” at the polls before people are allowed to vote. It’s both upsetting and disgusting at the same time that conservatives just can’t give up their privileged, racist past and stop trying to throw up barriers between the people and the polls. Or perhaps they know full well that when the people speak, it’s generally not in their favor. Here’s a pro-tip, Republicans: give up on the giveaways to your “base,” that is the super-rich and business special interests, and you might actually get more of the American people on your side.

The most recent fallout is a House bill that was recently passed requiring voters around the country to show photo ID before they can vote, which is a measure that, under the guise of limiting “voter fraud,” is actually conservativespeak for “keep the hobos and the negroes from the polls,” since it is often minorities and the poor who don’t have the opportunity, availability, or access to drivers licenses, state IDs, passports, and the rest. And consdering that in many states such forms of identification only come at relatively steep fees to the state, it essentially amounts to a federally mandated poor tax.

Seriously, Republicans, go back to your usual dirty tricks-around here for example, there’s a running commercial endorsing a specific black Republican candidate for senate by dredging up the old myth that Martin Luther King, Jr was a Republican, and blames the Democratic party for founding the KKK-laughable, of course, a misreading of history at best (usually these kinds of things play on the rift along party lines over the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act that essentially turned then-Democrats into modern-day Republicans and vice versa, a historical fact that is always conveniently left out by such groups-in the end they wind up implicating themselves for their own sins while claiming it was the other party…but I digress) and keep trying to steal elections by pressing for easily hackable voting machines that can be opened with hotel minibar keys and using your usual smear tactics against anyone who dared to march out of step with the wingnut cadence.

If you compare the list of Republicans in the House who voted for this against the list of Republicans (and they were all Republicans) in the House who voted against renewing the Voting Rights Act, I’m sure you’ll see some interesting coincidences. Have they suddenly had a change of heart and grown an interest in bettering our electoral system?

Sure they have. Bettering it for their friends, and trying to turn back the clock to the 1950s, when they didn’t have to worry about the poor, the blacks, or the hispanics who just might vote against them. What better way to keep the people you hurt from the polls than to pass a law to make it so? Thanks for coming, Democracy, apparently according to the conservatives in the house, we don’t need you anymore-I think they have a place for you in some middle eastern countries. At the tip of a bomb, of course.

[ The ‘Harder To Vote’ Act ]
Source: TomPaine.com

September 18, 2006

Remembering Ann Richards

The unsinkable Molly Ivins takes time out this week to mark the passing of perhaps one of the greatest people to come out of Texas ever, and remember her impact on American politics. Everyone remembered Ann Richards for her famous quote at the Democratic National Convention in 1988, where she ssaid the following about then candidate George H. W. Bush:

“Poor George. He can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth!”

Ah, so glorious. Even I remember those glorious words. But Molly Ivins has more to say, like this amazing passage from her eulogy:

At a long-ago political do at Scholz Garten in Austin, everybody who was anybody was there meetin’ and greetin’ at a furious pace. A group of us got the tired feet and went to lean our butts against a table at the back wall of the bar. Perched like birds in a row were Bob Bullock, then state comptroller, moi, Charles Miles, the head of Bullock’s personnel department, and Ms. Ann Richards. Bullock, 20 years in Texas politics, knew every sorry, no good sumbitch in the entire state. Some old racist judge from East Texas came up to him, “Bob, my boy, how are you?”

Bullock said, “Judge, I’d like you to meet my friends: This is Molly Ivins with the Texas Observer.”

The judge peered up at me and said, “How yew, little lady?”

Bullock, “And this is Charles Miles, the head of my personnel department.” Miles, who is black, stuck out his hand, and the judge got an expression on his face as though he had just stepped into a fresh cowpie. He reached out and touched Charlie’s palm with one finger, while turning eagerly to the pretty, blonde, blue-eyed Ann Richards. “And who is this lovely lady?”

Ann beamed and replied, “I am Mrs. Miles.”

While I’m sure the conservatives on the right are cheering at the demise of another one of America’s strongest and most dilligent and vigilant defenders of freedom, equality, justice, and liberty for all of America (and trust me, I’ve seen the posthumous bashing-which is completely typical of the right-as soon as you’re not around to make them eat their words, they start talking; it’s okay, it’s all they know how to do) the rest of us are mourning her loss and knowing that no one could ever truly take her place, but we can all follow her example.

Ann Richards was a staunch defender of women, minorities, the poor, the victimized, the underclass, the people. She was a strong and charismatic woman who never let politics stand in front of her ideals, and because of that she garnered a following of people who could proudly make their ideals their politics; people who weren’t afraid to stand up and say what they felt and feel what they say, and mean them both from the bottoms of their hearts. I’m proud to follow her example, to pay homage to her legacy of liberal, progressive people with bold dreams for a brighter future and a better America for everyone here and abroad, and an America that shines the light on the dark corners of its own hate and fear, rather than glorifying it and playing to it like some of our people would prefer to do. You’ve taught us all a lot, and we can never repay you. You taught us how to be ourselves when the environment demanded we be someone else. You taught us how to fix the messes that conservatism indellibly leaves behind as it plows through our cities, lives, and homes, and reminded us to never lose sight of the beacon of progressive thought and forward action. Thank you Ann Richards, for everything.

[ Remembering Ann Richards ]
Source: AlterNet

September 14, 2006

The Wisdom Of Exporting Democracy

I’ve been dreaming of a new American relationship with the middle east for years. Wishing that American diplomats in the region would remember that you only really need to sit at the negotiating table and talk with your enemies, not your friends-your friends will naturally agree and take your side, but the people you desperately need on the other side of the table are the people who disagree with you-you’ll never make progress any other way. But that being said, “progress” is a dirty word for the political ideology that currently dominates global politics.

The middle east needs democracy, but not at the barrel of a gun. The middle east needs America, but not flying overhead or attempting to isolate their leaders. There’s a hard line to be taken, and a dangerous aspect to going to the negotiating table with countries like Iran and Syria, but if we never do, we’ll never understand what motivates them, and never, ever, have the opportunity to work with them to improve relations and start the long long road to resolving our differences. The middle east wants democracy, but not a transplant from Washington DC; they want to grow it themselves, incorporate their own values and morals, and truly be a part of their governments, truly have a stake in their nations-then, when people believe that they have a stake, they have something to be proud of and fight for, they’ll stop blowing themselves up to fight against it.

Shadi Hamid, founding member and associate at The Project on Middle East Democracy, agrees with me, or rather, I agree with Hamid, at least in principle. In an excellent piece published at TomPaine, Hamid outlines why nations in the middle east view western democracy suspiciously-they still hear the ringing of a western imperialist part that arbitrarily drew national boundaries and split up tribal homelands, and they’re wary of doing that to themselves. And they have every right to be-they simply need to turn on western television networks to hear about all the problems we have with our democracies, and wonder if getting it, by hook or by crook, by bomb or by rifle, is necessarily a good idea.

Hamid writes:

Some commentators —including most recently the American Prospect’s Matt Yglesias —have argued that the central problem in the Middle East is not so much its lack of democracy but, rather, “the enduring legacy of imperialism.” According to this line of reasoning, the solution to our Mideast dilemmas would be to change the policies that Middle Easterners hate the most. Unfortunately, the list of grievances is so long, that to actually redress them would, one suspects, take a very, very long time. Moreover, in a region where our vital interests are engaged, it is unlikely that an avowedly “anti-imperialist” foreign policy—whatever that might mean in practice—will stand a chance of being supported by either political party. More fundamentally, however, this diagnosis fails to grasp the real source of our difficulties in the Middle East.

It’s not so much that people are angry at us, but rather that people have no political outlet with which to express their anger in a peaceful, legitimate manner.

Well said.

[ The Wisdom Of Exporting Democracy ]
Source: TomPaine.com

The Fugitive Girl Act

Girls who feel more comfortable talking to their doctors than their parents, their friends of family than their parents, or even girls whose parents are abusive in any way, are about to get isolated and left even more alone than they already are, if Congress gets its way. Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts, all of those people, even if they’re still related, could be imprisoned if they aid or assist a girl under a certain age in obtaining and abortion without the consent of her parents.

So imagine this. A father rapes his daughter and she becomes pregnant. The girl is 15 years old. She tells her aunt, who vows to keep her away from the abusive father. The mother refuses to believe it happened, or is being abused herself. The 15-year old girl wants to get help, put her life back together, seek therapy, and now, thanks to conservatives in Congress, she’s been stripped of not only many chances to make those dreams reality, but also stripped of the opportunity to have decided on her own, for herself, when and how she wants to have a family, to have a child. Congress has essentially told her “sorry, that sucks, but if anyone helps you try and think for yourself, we’re locking them up.”

That’s the message we’re getting here, and it’s another fantastic example of how conservatives in congress are making more and more inroads into our personal and private lives, our relationships with our doctors and health care providers, and, quite purposefully, taking the active side of rapists, child abusers, and other sexual abusers over the side of victims who should be at least afforded the basic human right of deciding what they want to do, whatever that might be. Conservatives in our government is so interested in intruding into our lives and enforcing their own moral code that they worry that that little thing called “free will” might violate their sensibilities, so they don’t even want you to have the choice, regardless of what that choice might be.

Paul Rogat Loeb, the author of The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen’s Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear, has this to say about the matter:

Do you remember the Fugitive Slave Act? It criminalized not only slaves who’d escaped to non-slave states, but also anyone who helped them flee. That law has troubling echoes in a new bill, passed by the Republican Senate and House, that will make it illegal to transport a girl from a state requiring parental consent to get an abortion in another one.

The Fugitive Slave Act forced individuals who did not believe in slavery to collaborate in maintaining it. In states that had banned slavery, it compelled law enforcement officials to return escaped slaves to their masters, and coerced ordinary citizens into supporting this process. It isolated slaves from outside assistance, by threatening to imprison anyone who would help them escape.

Isolation is also the goal of the benignly named Child Custody Protection Act, which will become law if the House and Senate work out their differences and if Democrats fail in efforts to block the bill with procedural maneuvers. It targets girls who already feel they cannot talk to their parents without risking disaster. It leaves them on their own, because those who might have tried to help them will face jail if they do. Whether a sister, an aunt, a grandmother, counselor, or friend, anyone could be imprisoned for intervening to help. Meanwhile, the same senators who backed it voted down an amendment that would have increased support for programs offering contraception and sex education—including abstinence education.

The House version goes further still, allowing parents to sue doctors who perform these out-of-state abortions. Both bills let the states with the harshest anti-abortion laws—and the least social support for women with children—to control the actions of citizens in states with fewer restraints. They trample core federalist traditions, letting states with the most draconian laws impose their will on others. They even raise the prospect of similar federal or state laws prohibiting adult women from traveling to overcome state abortion bans—like a bill now pending in the Ohio House that bans abortion without exception, while making it illegal to transport or help women of any age to receive abortions in other states. This would seem to violate numerous judicial decisions affirming the right to travel and prohibiting one state from unilaterally extending its laws to another. But with Bush’s recent court appointments, all sorts of longstanding precedents risk being subordinated to a hard-right ideology.

Loeb goes on to point out that this is the kind of thing that leads to back-alley abortions, you know, the kind that the anti-choice activists shuffle under the rug along with the bloody bodies of the women who performed them out of desperation and a desire for a life of their own making or no life at all, and then pretend that they never happened; and also tells our children that we can’t handle truthful discussions about sex, sexuality, pregnancy, and their futures, so instead we opt to shut our ears and shut them down, and what’s worse, criminalize the very discussion and make criminals of those who would be the purveyors of real, truthful, helpful information.

[ The Fugitive Girl Act ]
Source: TomPaine.com

September 10, 2006

Saddam ‘Had No Link to al-Qaeda’

Good morning, US Senate, and welcome to 2006. Welcome to the facts that the rest of the reality-based community had been trying to tell you since before the war started in 2003. Welcome to the party- the rest of the world is here, we’re glad you finally decided to pull your head out of the sand and look back at whose face your ass is in.

Seriously, I’m being more facetious than I should be-I’m glad that the Senate report officially says what the rest of the American people have known for years, that there was absolutely, positively, unequivocally no link or tie or bond whatsoever between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, not even a remote link between Saddam’s regime Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq prior to his death in June 2006.

Republicans, of course, dismissed the report as “nothing new,” or “old news,” and brushed it aside. If that’s the case, if it is, as they say, “old news,” then why have the President and Vice President been continually trying to rewrite history and tell the American people that there was a link? Why is it then, if it’s “old news,” that the President is still making statements as recently as two weeks ago, linking the two? Why is it then, if it’s “old news,” that the President has done nothing to dispel the notion among the war’s staunchest supporters (all two of them) that there was some kind of definitive link, and that some Americans (apparently those living under a rock) still believe that Saddam Hussein had something to do with the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks?

“Old news” indeed. I think the American public is beginning to get just a little tired of the massive disinformation and deception campaigns being waged by the conservative right when it comes to national security. And whether it’ll show through in the 2006 midterm elections or we’ll have to wait until 2008 to see it, I’m not sure, but the tide is definitely turning-the American people are tired of being lied to.

[ Saddam ‘Had No Link to al-Qaeda’ ]
Souce: BBC News

The Undeclared War on America’s Middle Class

Thom Hartmann’s opening salvo, reprinted from his book Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class, goes something like this:

You can’t be middle class if you earn the minimum wage in America today.

The American dream and the American reality have collided. In America we have always said that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can take care of yourself and your family. But the minimum wage is just $5.15 per hour. With a 40-hour workweek, that comes to a gross income of $9,888 per year. Nobody can support a family, own a home, buy health insurance, or retire decently on $9,888 per year!

What’s more, 30 million Americans — one in four U.S. workers — make less than $9 per hour, or just $17,280 a year. That’s not a living wage either.

I don’t even know where to go from there. It’s insane; and the fact that there are people actively pushing back against an increase in the minimum wage, people who are disinforming the public by lying about who works those minimum wage jobs (conservatives trying to say they’re just kids on their first jobs or teenagers with other income while the truth reveals that to be insanely false and more people actually trying to support families on two or three minimum wage jobs) and people trying to claim that even adjusting or scaling the minimum wage for or to inflation would cripple American business is absolutely mind-numbing. It’s absolutely appalling that these people, who likely have never known want in their lives, would rather give money (not just any money, OUR money-the money devoted to our civil society that all of us owe) to their friends who also have never known want while sentancing millions of Americans to lives below the poverty line-and still call that acceptable.

Hartmann explains that low wages aren’t the only problem here. Those of us who are managing to scrape by are still working more and more hours, being expected to produce more (which is why you see positive productivity figures from economic studies; more people are being laid off, and fewer people are being forced to do the jobs of two or three people for the same pay), work long long work weeks (where 60-80 hour workweeks are becoming the norm) and we have no recourse to take our concerns and complaints to corporate management anymore with the demise of modern organized labor-regardless of what type of labor that might be.

Hartmann explains that a new labor movement is needed in America today-that unions and labor organizations are needed now more than ever, even though they’ve fallen out of vogue and out of fashion with younger workers who see them as groups from a bygone era at best and corporate shakedown groups at worst; and the weakening of American labor laws that started with Reagan hasn’t shown any sign of slowing or stopping since the 1980s. Hartmann’s discussion is long, but definitely worth reading.

[ The Undeclared War on America’s Middle Class ]
Source: Alternet