By Doug Porter
The second Tuesday in April marks the observance of Equal Pay Day. This calendar date hypothetically represents the length of time past New Years’ Day many women must work at the same job in order to match what men make in a year.
The day is a symbolic means of illustrating the differences in pay existing throughout the economy based on gender, despite legislative actions aimed a rectifying the problem dating back to 1869. The National Committee on Pay Equity offers up a variety of programs for addressing inequities tied to gender.
This pay gap is one important part of a much larger picture of discrimination and inequality rampant in the Millennial Gilded Age.
Trickle up or trickle down. Those terms are shorthand for what Democratic Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan in 1896 called the “two ideas of government.”
There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.
Robert Reich Came to Town
UT-San Diego’s coverage of the event was as best as could be expected. The page one story with the headline Reich Offers Theory on Income Inequality consisted of seventeen paragraphs:
- Two paragraphs included general information
- Eight paragraphs were about the presentation by Reich and
- Seven paragraphs were quotes from UT anointed experts hoping to refute the presentation.
Here’s a snip from the Times of San Diego story:
The documentary draws attention to rising income inequality in America and the danger that poses to a democracy based on equality.
He said the proximity of great wealth and great poverty in the San Diego-Tijuana region will be a challenge for civic leaders on both sides of the border. “You have some of the richest people in the world living 20 minutes from some of the poorest people,” he said, but added that San Diego “can actually create a model for the rest of the world.”
Among the other issues he touched on:
- Minimum wage — Putting more money in people’s pockets has a multiplier effect, so raising the minimum wage will create jobs.
- Immigration — The economic data shows that immigrants benefit America. Moreover, immigration will help America avoid the trap of an aging population that faces China, Japan and Europe.
- Community colleges — These are “among the great unsung heroes of American education.”
- Anti-trust law — This is really pro-competition, because it prevents monopolies and oligopolies from crushing startups
- Tea Party and Occupy movements — “It’s too easy to indulge in the politics of blame,” he said, and by focusing on “resentment and anger we get nowhere at all.”
The Rich Are Getting Richer
The richest 20% of Americans saw their incomes rise last year, according to a recent Labor Department report.
As for the rest of us, the news isn’t so good.
From AFP News:
In fresh data that adds fire to a growing debate over income inequality, the department said that Americans on average saw income decline for the second straight year in the 12 months to June 2014.
The average pre-tax income fell 0.9 percent from the same period a year earlier, to $64,432.
But broken down into quintiles, those in the top 20 percent of incomes saw their money stream grow by 0.9 percent to $166,048 on average.
Every other group lost ground, with the bottom 20 percent losing the most: their average income dropped 3.5 percent to $9,818.
CEO Pay Under the Radar
Despite language in the 2010 Dodd-Frank law requiring disclosure by corporations of the ratio of CEO pay to the pay of a typical employee, Wall Street has effectively blocked implementation of this rule.
A specific rule proposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2013 has been blocked by corporate lobbyists arguments that compliance would be costly, burdensome and too time consuming.
Finding those numbers for a dozen of the highest paid executives didn’t prove too difficult for Business columnist Gretchen Morgenson at the New York Times, who asked Dean Baker, co-founder of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research to look into it.
Academic research shows that the worker-to-C.E.O. gulf has been widening. According to a 2014 study by Alyssa Davis and Lawrence Mishel at the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning advocacy group in Washington with a reputation for rigorous studies, chief executive pay as a multiple of the typical worker’s pay rocketed from an average of 20 times in 1965 to 295.9 in 2013…
…Using the March 30 figures, Mr. Baker, an expert in labor economics, worked with Nicholas Buffie, a research assistant, focusing on the 12 highest-paid executives in the group. They estimated the median wage for all the other employees of each company and compared that with the corresponding C.E.O.’s total 2014 compensation.
Here are some of the numbers they found:
- Qualcomm–526 to 1
- Starbucks–1073 to 1
- Disney–2238 to 1
— Jacobin (@jacobinmag) April 14, 2015
The Real Cost of Low Wages
Republicans think nothing of portraying people benefiting from government assistance programs as non-working sloths who ought to be drug tested and humiliated whenever possible.
A new report from the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education challenges those assumptions.
The report says nearly 56% of federal spending and 52% of state spending on assistance programs now goes to working families.
From the Washington Post:
Nationally, working families received an annual $127.8 billion in federal public assistance, the authors estimated. Texas led all other states, with 67 percent of federal assistance on Medicaid, CHIP, TANF,Earned Income Tax Credits and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs— often called food stamps—going to working families. That share was 66 percent in Utah and 65 percent in Idaho. The share was smallest in D.C., at 41 percent, followed by Alaska, at 44 percent.
The data does not include figures from the recent expansion of Medicaid, reduced-price lunches, low-income housing, heating and cooling assistance and other state and local programs.
Fighting for $15 on April 15: San Diego Actions
Rising tides do not lift all boats. Here’s the list of times and locations for protests on Wednesday:
7 am – Fast Food Worker Strike: 2345 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA
8:30 am – Fast Food Worker Strike: 2829 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA
11 am – Security Officer Event:750 B Street San Diego, CA
Noon – State Workers Event: 1350 Front St, San Diego, CA
1:30pm – City Heights Rising Event: 3795 Fairmount Ave, San Diego, CA
3:30 pm – Home Care Worker Rally: San Diego State University 5500 Campanile Drive San Diego, CA (Between the music building and open air theatre)
4:30 pm– The Big Event: San Diego State University Scripps Cottage Lawn near Hepner Hall 5500 Campanile Dr, San Diego, CA
The actions on April 15th are expected to be the largest Fight for 15 demonstrations in San Diego. For the first time, advocates from across issues—educators, #blacklivesmatters advocates, faith leaders, City Heights advocates and workers are slated to join in at various events.
There will be no Starting Line column for Wednesday.
I’m going to be at all of the above events and will post my impressions on Thursday.
A Hologram Protest in Spain
The Spanish government is just months away (July) from implementing legislation in response to ongoing demonstrations against austerity programs that will ban many forms of public protest.
From Common Dreams:
The law’s three texts – The Penal Code, the new Anti-Terror Law and the Law on Citizen Safety – ban and punish with heavy fines and/or jail a vast array of fundamental freedoms of expression and assembly. Among them: Peaceful protest, photographing or recording police, occupying banks, simply being present at an occupied space, meeting in front of Congress, climbing buildings or monuments, tweeting or otherwise calling for demonstrations on social media; on the flip side, police are authorized to carry out body searches, blacklists of activists, and raids at protest sites all at their discretion, whether or not “order” has been disrupted.
Some say the level of repression would do Franco proud; others argue you’d have to go back to the Dark Ages to match them. Either way, says one organizer, “The gag law is (the government’s) revenge.” To many, the surreal hologram protests perfectly capture the Orwellian quality of the restrictions: In the new Spain, says one protester, “If you are a person you can not express yourself freely – you can only do (that) if you become a hologram.”
On This Day:1865 – President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in Ford’s Theater by John Wilkes Booth. He actually died early the next morning. 1930 – More than 100 Mexican and Filipino farm workers are arrested for union activities, Imperial Valley, Calif. Eight were convicted of “criminal syndicalism.” 1984 – The Texas Board of Education began requiring that the state’s public school textbooks describe the evolution of human beings as “theory rather than fact”.
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