FROM Peter Dreier
The Minimum Wage Just Rose - Did You Feel It? Today, Californians who work minimum wage jobs earned a dollar more. That’s because a law passed last year in Sacramento just took effect. The amount goes up another dollar by 2016. The result is a slightly higher base pay all across the state, but it’s also reminder that fast food workers in Bakersfield make the same starting pay as those in Beverly Hills. Meanwhile, cities like San Francisco and Seattle have gone further than state or federal minimum wage levels and passed their own policies. Can you live off $9/hour in LA? We'll take a look at the issue of minimum wage at the city and state level.
Who’s Being Left Out of the “Housing Recovery?” The home foreclosure crisis staggered the US economy and led to the Great Recession six years ago. Now — finally -- new housing is under construction. But it's not single-family homes that are going up, but mostly apartment buildings. And Wall Street is going into the rental business. Meantime, many homeowners, especially blacks and Latinos, are still underwater. What does this new form of housing "recovery" reveal about the economy? Does it contain the seeds of another recession?
America: the Nation of Workaholics More stores are requiring workers to show up on Thanksgiving Day, and Americans already work longer and harder than anyone else in the industrialized world. In the only advanced economy with no guaranteed paid vacations -- and when they are available, workers don't take all the days they're entitled to. The 40-hour week is a thing of the past, not only because of economic necessity. Even the rich are working harder than ever, despite evidence that overwork reduces productivity and makes for illness of both the mind and the body. Do we do it by choice, or is it part of the culture? Will technology make us free?
A Progressive on the 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century It's always dangerous to make lists, especially lists that deal with politics on either end of the political spectrum. Peter Dreier is a professor at Occidental College whose latest book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century : A Social Justice Hall of Fame.
The Mortgage Crisis and 'Occupy Our Home' Attorney General Kamala Harris has pulled out of a state and federal settlement with big banks, calling it "insufficient." Now she's joined forces with Nevada's Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and they represent two of the states most heavily battered by problematic home mortgages. (The state bankers association wasn't available for our program, but told us that member institutions try to work with troubled borrowers whenever they can.) We speak with Harris, mortgage and redevelopment specialists and a Marine veteran and father of four who "reclaimed" his dream house in Riverside yesterday, as part of the "Occupy Our Homes" action nationwide. Photo: Art de los Santos, who re-occupied his foreclosed home in Riverside. Photo by Tracy Lee Silveria, SEIU 721
Indian Gaming Propositions Last year, Governor Schwarzenegger negotiated contracts with four California Indian tribes. Two of the tribes could have twice as many slot machines as the largest Las Vegas casinos; the two others could vastly expand their operations. In return, the tribes would increase the percent of the take they pay to the state from the current 7% to 13% percent, to 25% percent. The Democratic-controlled legislature approved the deals, but two other tribes, some labor unions and local governments were among those opposed. They raised enough signatures to put Propositions 94 , 95 , 96 and 97 on next month’s ballot. TV viewers have already seen that a very expensive campaign is under way.
The History and Possible Future of Urban Violence in America Forty years ago, widespread violence broke out in Detroit and Newark, just as it had two years before in Rochester, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Civil unrest caused deaths, injuries and property damage in other cities during the next few years, but Los Angeles, which still showed scars from the Watts Riots of 1965, broke all the records in 1992. Symptoms of urban decay include unemployment, lack of affordable housing, racism and police abuse. What can be learned from past outbreaks? What does it take to trigger a riot and what's the state of American cities today?
White House flip flops: NATO, Syria and China In less than 100 days, President Trump has contradicted himself on a host of foreign policy issues — Syria, NATO, China and Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Is it a strength — or a weakness — for the United States when the world of power politics never knows what to expect?
Why Don't Facts Matter? "Fake News" may have a long history, but social media and 21st Century politics have brought it front and center. One reason for its appeal and its power is the tendency of so many people to cling to their beliefs — even when confronted with contradictory evidence. Today, another look at the Emotional States of America.