Poverty Is the Toughest Job You’ll Ever Have

Poverty Is the Toughest Job You’ll Ever Have

Most of us have a vision of how we intend to get away from it all one day. We’ll leave our smartphones behind, abandon all the clutter and nonsense of daily life, and go live in a tiny house somewhere with very few possessions: just some books, and pictures, and the things that really matter. We won’t worry about paying bills. Everything will be simple and we’ll finally have time to think. I suspect that this idea of voluntary simplicity colors the way most people think about being poor. Many of our problems are money-related after all—mortgages and student loans—and middle class America fetishizes simplicity to a ridiculous extent (think Real Simple magazine). Surely, we assume somewhere down in the ficklest parts of our brains, people who have less money also have fewer problems? For Lifehacker , Eric Ravenscraft has written a post titled “ Being Poor Is Too Expensive .” When you’re poor, you can’t buy your food in bulk, buy high quality stuff that will last, or own your own tech instead of renting. It costs money up front to save money over the long run. Worse yet, being poor often comes with hidden, intangible costs that make digging yourself out of poverty even harder. Those costs include food (when you’ve got a couple jobs, who has time to cook?) and transportation (cheap cars break down more often than expensive ones) and clothes (manual labor is tough on shoes) and much more. It’s not simple at all–it’s a complicated pattern of shuffling your meager funds around from one emergency to the next. This is incredibly stressful. Most people in the middle class could underpay a bill or two if things got tight without much more than a sternly worded letter in response, but for a person in poverty, that missed bill could kick off a
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Daily Clips: October 20th, 2015

Daily Clips: October 20th, 2015

Jim Webb to drop out of Democratic race: Say it ain’t so, Jim! Your debate performance last week was a tantalizing glimpse into your mind and, frankly, I’m disappointed that you gave up so soon. Yesterday, you were flirting with an independent run and now this? My heart can’t take it. Canada lurches to the left:  Why is the Western world’s politics shifting to the left? The author examines this trend: Canada’s election on Monday was something much bigger than a local Canadian story. It’s another indicator of how Bill Clinton/Tony Blair-style liberalism is veering sharply to the left across the English-speaking world. Along with the surge of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary in the United States and the nomination of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in the United Kingdom, must now be reckoned Canada’s election of a Liberal government under Justin Trudeau. The NRA will fall:  I’m not a huge fan of calling political trends “inevitable.” However, this piece in the Washington Post does an excellent job of showing how the long-term demographic trends do not favor the NRA’s positions on gun legislation. The decline of “white, rural, less educated Americans is generally well known,” the author contends, but this trend is rarely examined in regards to gun legislation. Polls show that whites tend to favor gun rights over gun control by a  significant margin (57 percent to 40 percent). Yet whites, who comprise 63 percent of the population today, won’t be in the majority for long. Racial minorities are soon to be a majority, and they are the nation’s strongest supporters of strict gun laws. That’s not good news for the NRA. The author concludes, “Unless the organization begins to soften its no-compromises stance on gun safety legislation, it’s likely to become increasingly marginalized in a changing America.”

Majority of Americans Support Stricter Gun Laws

Majority of Americans Support Stricter Gun Laws

Gallup poll released today shows that 55 percent of Americans now “feel that the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict.” That number is up from 47 percent in 2014, signifying a dramatic increase in support of gun responsibility. It seems that independent voters have changed their minds the most on this issue. 56 percent of independents now favor stricter gun laws, an 11 point jump (45 percent) from the previous year. Unsurprisingly, Democratic support grew by six percent (up to 77 percent), while Republicans continue to hate the idea of stricter gun laws (27 percent). Interestingly, the status quo no longer seems to be an acceptable policy position when it comes to guns. Only 33 percent of Americans think our gun laws should be “kept as they are,” a sign that Republican apathy on gun violence may be unsatisfactory to many American voters – particularly those independents who are becoming more open to stricter gun laws. Even if you add the 11 percent of Americans who think gun laws should be made less strict, stronger gun legislation leads the “do nothing crowd” 55 to 44 percent. Get ready for gun legislation to be a defining topic of the 2016 presidential race. If last week’s Democratic debate was any indication, Republicans better get ready for the eventual Democratic nominee to bring this issue to the forefront of American minds.

Walmart CEO on raising wages: “Bottom line – it’s working.”

Walmart CEO on raising wages: “Bottom line – it’s working.”

Last week, when Walmart forecast slow sales growth for this year and a drop in profits for the next, Wall Street responded with the biggest one-day plunge in the company’s stock in 17 years. “The reaction by the market – while not what we’d hoped – was not entirely surprising,”  Walmart president & CEO Doug McMillon admitted in a blog post while recommitting to his plan to heavily invest in people and technology: “These investments are critical to our current and future success as a company. Simply put, it’s the right thing to do.” And we will continue investing in our people.  Today we shared details around the $1.5 billion investment we will make next year to bring the wage for current associates to at least $10 in the U.S. The return from the initial investment of more than $1 billion we made earlier this year is encouraging. We have seen associate engagement and customer satisfaction scores increase dramatically over the past eight months and comp sales are increasing. Bottom line – it’s working. During its decades-long climb to the top of the retail food chain, Walmart has made itself the poster child for a parasitic low-wage business model that leaves full-time wage earners reliant on government assistance just to scrape by. So if raising wages well above the current federal minimum of $7.25 can work for Walmart, it’s hard to argue it couldn’t work for the rest of the economy as well.

Daily Clips: October 19th, 2015

Daily Clips: October 19th, 2015

Rubio says people can’t live on a $11 an hour, but opposes a higher minimum wage: Marco Rubio scares me. In this field of buffoons, he is by far the most charismatic, fresh-faced, and interesting leader that the Republicans have in the 2016 election. That is not to say he’s offering anything different in policy prescriptions. He’s not. Case in point: when it comes to the minimum wage, he is once again displaying a cultish devotion to the free market ( something I have written about in the past ). Rubio claims: I have the full confidence that the American private sector, made up of the most innovative and productive people on this planet, won’t just create millions of jobs. They will create millions of jobs that pay more. Because even the jobs that are being created now don’t pay enough. You can’t live on $10 an hour. You can’t live on $11 an hour. I simply don’t know how he can hold those two conflicting opinions in his head. The market has had a long time to raise the minimum wage, yet it hasn’t. In fact, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure it was the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938 (a government mandate) which established the concept of a minimum guaranteed wage. How can someone seriously say that we just need to leave America’s poverty wages up to the private sector? It’s a lazy and asinine answer. It’s akin to a primal leader sacrificing a goat in order to stop the spread of a disease. It’s a reassuring fable to tell the people, but it will not do anything about the problem. Biden to announce decision in next 48 hours:  We have a little office poll on the odds of Biden dropping out of the race in the next two weeks. Three of us believe that he will bow out by October 26th. I am not one of those three. It seems that Biden is loving the media attention and honestly, who can blame
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Every Reporter Writing About Paid Leave Needs to Ask Themselves These Questions

Every Reporter Writing About Paid Leave Needs to Ask Themselves These Questions

Over at Salon, Donald Cohen and Peter Dreier address a very problematic question from Dana Bash in this week’s Democratic presidential debate. Bash asked the candidates: Carly Fiorina, the first female CEO of a Fortune 50 company, argues, if the government requires paid leave, it will force small businesses to, quote, ‘hire fewer people and create fewer jobs.’ What do you say not only to Carly Fiorina, but also a small-business owner out there who says, you know, I like this idea, but I just can’t afford it? Cohen and Dreier rightfully take Bash to task for shilling for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and they present several more acceptable ways she could have phrased the question. It’s important to hold the media to their statements, and to present acceptable alternatives for inquiry. This has happened time and again; only recently has the environmental movement made strides in their attempts to convince media outlets not to seek out creationists and other anti-climate change forces. While it’s widely accepted as Journalism 101 to report on “both sides” of the issue, it’s important to keep that idea in perspective. Reporting on both sides of the so-called climate “debate” is not about finding one of the handful of people who believes that climate change is a Satanic trick and giving them equal time. It’s about addressing the reality of climate change—the fact that it’s happening—and discussing the pros and cons of various actions to address it, or even the possibility of ignoring it. But you do a disservice to reality when you give a kook a platform and equal time. That’s exactly what Bash did in the debate. By promoting the “job killer” lie that’s perpetuated by the right—the idea that if bosses pay their hard-working employees what they’re worth, they’ll go out of business—Bash was guilty of lazy
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Daily Clips: October 16, 2015

Daily Clips: October 16, 2015

Trump is racist…again:  It’s disappointing that a known racist is leading in the Republican primary. Really marinate on that. A delusional megalomaniac is the preferred candidate for the majority of the Republican base. And lest you think his racism may recede as the spotlight intensifies, read this new story: This week, a seemingly benign Q&A turned into an awkward cultural moment on the presidential campaign trail. Joseph Choe, a Harvard student, stood up to ask Donald Trump a question about South Korea at the No Labels Problem Solver Convention in New Hampshire on Monday… “Harvard?” Trump asked. “You go to Harvard?” He does. There was some silence before Choe got the microphone… “Basically, you said that South Korea takes advantage of the United States in terms of the defense spending on the Korean Peninsula,” [Choe] began. “I just want to get the facts straight.” Before he could finish, Trump interrupted. “Are you from South Korea?” he wondered aloud. “I’m not,” Choe said. “I was born in Texas, raised in Colorado.” Economists see BIG revenues if taxes go up for the rich:  A majority of Americans think the wealthy do not pay their fair share of taxes. And it turns out that if we actually raised the total tax burden of the richest Americans, the US government would raise a lot of money. Go figure. Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times on how higher taxes on the rich could benefit our nation: The top 1 percent includes about 1.13 million households earning an average income of $2.1 million. Raising their total tax burden to, say, 40 percent would generate about $157 billion in revenue the first year. Increasing it to 45 percent brings in a whopping $267 billion. Even taking account of state and local taxes, the average household in this group would still take home at least $1 million a year. In sum, you cannot simultaneously claim to be worried about
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Rand Paul’s Upcoming Defeat Is a Failure of Libertarian Ideals

Rand Paul’s Upcoming Defeat Is a Failure of Libertarian Ideals

Yesterday, Rand Paul livestreamed his entire day, which is a gimmick that just reeks of desperation. Here’s the best moment: So if Paul hated doing that “dumbass” livestream, why was he doing it? For media attention? To prove his transparency? Uh, maybe. But it certainly couldn’t be an attempt to draw attention way from the fact that Paul’s dad, Ron Paul, took the stand yesterday to testify in a trial, could it? Two 2012 Ron Paul aides have been charged with devising “a scheme to pay an Iowa state legislator for a primary season endorsement.” The elder Paul claimed to have no knowledge of the alleged scheme: Paul, who appeared as the government’s witness, appeared to take a benignly neglectful approach to campaign nitty-gritty. Asked how well he knew Kent Sorenson, the disgraced state senator whom Benton and Kesari are accused of paying for his endorsement, Paul said they “probably crossed paths,” then recounted how he was actually irritated when Sorenson showed up at a pre-Iowa caucus press conference. “I was annoyed, because I was thrown off balance,” Paul said. “Here I was, ready to give a speech, and I was told three minutes beforehand that a state senator was there to endorse me.” Quite a coincidence that Ron Paul’s appearance on the stand happened on the same day that his son decided to livestream his entire day, isn’t it? Anyway, the above video isn’t the only dumb thing Rand Paul said yesterday. He was asked about his feelings on workplace discrimination against LGBT employees, and his response was a misguided attempt to revive Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell for the American workplace: I think, really, the things you do in your house, just leave those in your house and it wouldn’t have to be part of the workplace, to tell you the truth… I think society is rapidly
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Daily Clips: October 15th, 2015

Daily Clips: October 15th, 2015

Obama says 5,500 troops will remain in Afghanistan:  The president called his decision to keep troops on the ground as the “best possibility for lasting progress.” As Politico states, “According to the plan, 9,800 troops will remain in the country through most of 2016, with that number dropping to 5,500 by early 2017.” Washington Post editorial board warns Hillary to resist the lure of the left:  While I don’t fully agree with their arguments, the editorial board does a nice job of outlining policy areas where Hillary should avoid becoming too progressive. They applauded her for arguing “only for making college debt-free for requiring students to work 10 hours a week” and insisting “that only banks that pose a systemic risk should be broken up.” These two positions, in particular, are in stark contrast to her main rival, Bernie Sanders. They correctly pointed out that “Ms. Clinton took a political risk by sticking to her more ambitious instincts in foreign policy” and didn’t move to the left on foreign policy. I couldn’t agree more – she shone in this  section of the debate. Can you imagine Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush (effectively) lecturing Hillary about Russia? I certainly cannot. She’s got the resume and the disposition to be very effective in arguing for a robust  neoliberal foreign policy . Boxer: Time for Biden to back Clinton!  “I just don’t think there’s a rationale for his campaign,” Senator Barbara Boxer said. “I think he should endorse Hillary … and go out that way.” How long until Biden decides? Three of us in the office believe that he will drop out in the next two weeks. Time will tell. An excellent breakdown of Sanders & Clinton’s college plans:  Here is a great side-by-side comparison of Hillary and Bernie’s positions on college affordability. After highlighting the different nature of both plans, the article concludes: Clinton, in other words, wants to go back to an earlier time, when college tuition was set much more affordably. Sanders wants to rethink the relationship between government and higher education much more thoroughly.

The NRA Still Talks About Guns Like It’s 1986

The NRA Still Talks About Guns Like It’s 1986

This Washington Post story indicates that the NRA has decided to not change their rhetoric in the face of strengthening opposition. Grover Norquist, a leading conservative activist and member of the NRA’s board, went so far as to predict Democrats would “now lose the presidency” for speaking out on guns. “Democrats tend to be urban, the kind of people who aren’t invited to go duck hunting, and if they do go hunting, they find it slightly icky,” Norquist said “When that part of their party comes through, they lose. When they start to say that people with guns are the problem, that they don’t trust people with guns, and that people with guns are somehow connected to mass murders, that’s what turns voters off.” Uh-huh. That’s what this debate is all about, Grover: duck hunting. That’s why Martin O’Malley passionately spoke against duck hunting on the debate stage last night. Norquist, of course, used to be a big deal . His no-tax pledge was once considered to be the litmus test for any Republican candidate. But now he’s reduced to parroting the same old NRA talking points that they’ve been dragging out since the 1980s. What’s different? Well, we have an American public that’s finally realized that this pattern of shoot, mourn, repeat isn’t going to go away by itself. And we’ve got a media that finally doesn’t just republish NRA talking points. The Washington Post fact-checks Norquist’s claims and finds them false: Support for background checks is extremely high — between 85 and 92 percent in recent polls — and wins backing from both gun-owning households and other households. Support is also high for laws preventing those with mental illness from purchasing guns and for a federal gun database. It might seem odd to praise Washington Post writers Philip Rucker and Robert Costa for doing their jobs, but a
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