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Got Free Labor? -Nationwide Inmate Strikes Highlight the Need for Prison Labor Reform

posted Sep 21, 2018, 7:29 AM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Sep 21, 2018, 7:37 AM ]


This month, many Americans simply think of Labor Day as the holiday which denotes the official end of summer. It is the time when students, teachers, as well as professional staff head back to school and we begin to transition into the fall season. However, Labor Day as a holiday is actually meant for us to celebrate the many contributions of working people to our country. Among the population of workers that are all too often forgotten are the millions of incarcerated people across the United States.

13th Amendment: Caveat for Slavery

Recreated image of a parchment stating the 13th constitutional Amendment: Section 1- Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United State or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Section 2- Congress shallhave power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Recreated image of the 13th Amendment. Slavery is banned in the United States except for those who are convicted of a crime, thus making slavery legal in some circumstances. Image posted by @JailLawSpeak on Twitter, requesting that the UN recognize the U.S in violation the the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Article 4. Follow them for more updates on the strike. 
Though there hasn’t been much mainstream news coverage about it, a series of nationwide inmate strikes began on August 21 to protest prison labor, racist sentencing policies, and prison living conditions. The protest was scheduled to last until September 9. As Madison Pauly at Mother Jones writes, it was planned that thousands of inmate protesters would “resist however they could—by refusing to work, turning away meals, or staging sit-ins.” So far, however, it’s proved almost impossible to confirm if the protests are taking place or their impact since corrections officials are remaining quiet and dismissing claims that protests are happening.

Still, we know for sure that in North Carolina and Arizona, inmates have engaged in some form of protest. Pauly reports that inmates in the Hyde Correctional Institution in Fairfield, North Carolina, put up banners calling for “better food” and “parole” last week. In Arizona, 18 inmates from Nevada who are being held in a private prison went on a two-day hunger strike to protest solitary confinement, threatening treatment by guards and problems receiving work credits toward early release. There are also reports of inmates staging hunger strikes in California, Washington state, and Alabama. In Florida, it is said that there are between 170 and 210 inmates who are refusing to work. Though prison officials are shutting down communication about the strikes and protest tactics may not be visible, organizers from the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) say that thousands of inmates across the country are participating.

According to a press release from Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, one of the demands of this strike is an “end to prison slavery” with all detained people in the United States receiving the prevailing state wage for their labor. The issue of prison labor doesn’t receive nearly enough attention and action. We have widespread conversations about workers in this country, mass incarceration and the rights of incarcerated people are left out. We should see all of these issues as interconnected.



Recently, we learned that California is using “volunteer” prisoners to fight wildfires—saving the state roughly $80 to $100 million dollars a year. This is not the only example of how states exploit people in prison to do low-wage or unpaid work. States have used prisoners to shovel snow after blizzards, clean up trash and litter in public spaces, as well as manufacture various products, all while paying them anywhere from 14 cents an hour to $2 an hour.

This is a point of contention with which we must grapple. Some say that inmates enjoy doing this kind of work because it gets them out of their daily routine and, in some cases, allows them to be outside of the prison walls. There is no doubt that this is likely true. However also, we cannot ignore that prison labor is a form of slavery—since incarcerated people do not have the free will or autonomy to decide if they will work or not. They do these jobs without the protections that other workers across the country are provided by law.

Moreover, this labor is the very reason that prisons are able to operate. According to a Newsweek article on inmate labor, Alex Friedmann, Managing Editor at Prison Legal News, says: ”Prisons cannot operate without prison labor. They would simply be unaffordable.” We should make it our business to question a system that relies on locking up millions of people and forcing them to work in order to be viable.

It Should be Unacceptable to us that Private Organizations make Tremendous Profits through Prison Labor

Thousands of prisoners are employed by the US government corporation Federal Prison Industries, also known as UNICOR. They make things ranging from office furniture, clothing, and electronics. In 2017, UNICOR sold more than $450 million in goods. The inmates they employed earned, on average, a salary of $1,645. This is not only well below poverty wage, these are also not work skills that inmates can utilize once they are released. According to this survey in 2017, many inmates have few opportunities to continue their education; especially in vocational classes. While 91% of inmates reported that they were employed these skills are rarely transferrable and serve overwhelmingly to the benefit of correctional institutions, not the inmates. 

Call to Action: Demand Basic Human Rights for Incarcerated People

Though many of us acknowledge the cruelty of the system of mass incarceration, we have yet to take on prison labor reform as a serious issue. Just like we know its not okay to lock up scores of people (predominately black and brown) for extended sentences for nonviolent crimes, it is also problematic for state, local, as well as private jails and prisons to make money off of these people.

The current system is not about rehabilitating the incarcerated but is instead about exploiting them for profit.

This is an economic and social justice issue. Incarcerated people deserve dignity and human rights—no matter why they have been incarcerated. As Friedmann rightfully says, “People in prison just want to be treated like people in prison. They’re still people.”


Brief:Businesses have made Millions off Trump’s Child Separation Policy. Contracts Signed through 2022

posted Sep 14, 2018, 5:22 AM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Sep 14, 2018, 5:23 AM ]

Reposted from First Amendment at Daily Kos 

Follow the money.

Private companies have already made millions managing Trump’s child prisons.

The contracts were awarded in September of 2017, so that tells me the Trump administration already had its plan in place to steal children from their parents and put them in cages. 

San Diego and Tiujana

Border USA Mexico

Contrasts between one country and another the quality of public administration. A small fence separates densely-populated Tijuana, Mexico, right, from the United States in the Border Patrol's San Diego Sector in 2007. A secondary fence has been erected over the top of this hill and eventually to the Pacific Ocean since then. 
By Sgt. 1st Class Gordon Hyde (http://www.ngb.army.mil) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
This is not a law. It’s the policy of the Trump administration to separate and throw children in cages. Trump could end *his policy* right now. Since we now know money is involved, it most probably won’t end.

The contracts to manage these jails for children are signed through 2022!

And there’s all the proof you need, that this was a planned long-term policy of this administration to separate and jail children.

Donald Trump and his cohorts don’t believe in human rights and are pure evil. From Yahoo News' White House correspondent:


President Trump’s controversial child separation policy is being carried out with the help of private businesses who have received millions of dollars in government contracts to help run the shelters where young migrants are being held away from their parents.

The government has released few photos of the shelters where the children are being detained and at times declined to allow media and even elected officials access to the facilities. Amid this secrecy, many of the businesses participating in the program have remained behind the scenes without being identified.

However, by reviewing publicly available contracts data, Yahoo News was able to identify five companies that are participating in the operation of the shelters, including two companies that have not previously been tied to the program. And in response to inquiries, one of the companies said it would cease participation in a program that required it to “maintain readiness” to transport young migrants to government facilities.

Sources State that Shelters are Planned to Operate through 2022

The data reviewed by Yahoo News was posted on the site GovTribe.com, which provides “real-time federal contract marketing data.” This information gives a glimpse of the recent growth of the government’s shelter system for young migrants and some of the companies who have lucrative contracts to participate in the program.

Contract vehicles are one of the mechanisms the U.S. government uses to award contracts to vendors. The data reviewed by Yahoo News was for a contract vehicle called “Shelter Care for Unaccompanied Children 2022.” This included 10 different contracts for up to approximately $92 million that were awarded to five different vendors starting in September 2017. The contracts include plans to operate the shelters through September 2022.

Take Action: Contact your Member of Congress

Check out ContactingCongress.org to find your Senators and Representatives. Give them a call, send them an email, send a letter in the post, or contact them on social media. 

Urge them to:
  • Demand that President Trump, DHS Secretary Nielsen, and Attorney General Sessions end all family separation as well as detention. Remind them to do this through through social media, letters, appropriations, and in Congressional hearings
  • Support efforts to defund family separation in appropriations and decrease funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices within the Department of Justice
  • Urge your Member of Congress to cosponsor the following legislation:
    • S. 3036 – Keep Families Together Act
    • H.R. 2572 – Protect Family Values at the Border Act
    • H.R. 5950 & S.2937 – The HELP Separated Children Act
    • H.R. 2043 & S. 2468 – Fair Day in Court for Kids Act of 2018
    • H.R. 6193 – The Central America Family Protection and Reunification Act

Brief: Closed vs Opened Primaries- Arizona & Florida

posted Sep 7, 2018, 8:07 AM by Rahni Jere Sumler

Brief from Sara Rosier reposted from Ballotpedia's Ballot Bulletin 

Not all primaries are created equal. As we get closer to the end of primary season, let’s explore the different types of primaries. 
An open primary is any primary election in which a voter either does not have to formally affiliate with a political party in order to vote in its primary or can declare his or her affiliation with a party at the polls on the day of the primary even if the voter was previously affiliated with a different party. In 22 states, at least one party conducts open primaries. 

Ballotpedia Primary Map Snapshot

Screenshot of Ballotpedia's primary map. Map includes all of the United States including Alaska and Hawaii with a color chart dictating the type of primary in that state. Go the link (https://ballotpedia.org/Primary_election_types_by_state) for a complete table of primaries.

A primary election is an election used either to narrow the field of candidates for a given elective office or to determine the nominees for political parties in advance of a general election.Pictured above is a snapshot of Ballotpedia's interactive primary state map. At the site, hovering over each state gives details about the primaries for the major, Republican and Democratic, parties. This information determines how party members vote in the primaries. 
A closed primary is a type of primary election in which a voter must affiliate formally with a political party in advance of the election date in order to participate in that party's primary. In 14 states, at least one political party conducts closed primaries.
Florida, one of today’s primary states, uses closed primaries.

A semi-closed primary, also known as a hybrid primary, is a type of primary election in which previously unaffiliated voters may participate in the partisan primary of their choice. Voters who are already affiliated with a political party can vote only in that party's primary. In 15 states, at least one political party conducts semi-closed primaries.
Arizona, one of today’s primary states, uses semi-closed primaries.

How does your State Conduct Primaries?

Check out the work at Ballotpedia, where staff compiled information on primary election types by state and on election policies. These policies are sorted into categories with links to each state. 
Find your state's: 
  • Voting policy
  • Electoral systems policy 
  • Primary elections policy
  • Restricting policy
  • Ballot access for political candidates
  • Ballot Access of Political Parties

New York Prosecutors Know Exactly how to Bring Down a New York Mob Boss

posted Aug 28, 2018, 9:50 AM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Aug 31, 2018, 9:24 AM ]

Reposted from Kerry Eleveld, Daily Kos Staff at Daily Kos 

Nothing has come more clearly into focus this August than the fact that Donald Trump has been running a criminal enterprise, likely for decades, in which he surrounded himself with criminals willing to commit criminal acts. 

Now, it's also becoming clear that federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York have applied their mob boss playbook to taking down Trump. In just one week, they secured the guilty plea of Trump's top lawyer, and we also discovered they granted immunity to both his chief media ally and lead finance guy. Of course, that would be Michael Cohen, David Pecker, and Allen Weisselberg. 

New York Brown Rat

NYC Brown Rat

"Rats" or "Flippers" is colloquial known to be used by organized crime members to describe fellow members who are disloyal, exposing the business. President Trump mentioned in an interview that he had been "watching flippers" for decades, and suggested that flipping should be illegal. 
By G. Scott Segler [CC BY-SA 4.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
In Essence, they Found People's Legal Liabilities and Turned them Against each Other 

Ultimately, this isolated their boss by choking off all exit strategies around him. Weisselberg, by almost all accounts, is the biggest fish when it comes to Trump world and the Trump Organization, the family business where he has worked for decades. From the CNBC report:

He has overseen the Trump Organization's finances, been involved in the Trump Foundation, the president's charity, and has managed Trump's private trust alongside his eldest sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.

Anyone who has listened to former federal prosecutors from the Southern District or from the FBI's criminal division has certainly heard them talk about how the Trump case has so classically tracked with that of the mafia cases they have prosecuted in the past. 

Trump himself has sounded more and more like the mob bosses those prosecutors have taken down. "I know all about flipping," Trump told Fox News this week, adding that he had been watching "flippers … for 30, 40 years." Flipping, i.e. disloyalty, "almost ought to be illegal," he concluded. 

Trump has also referred to "rats" in recent texts, co-opting the language of none other than famous fictional mob boss Tony Soprano. He also began his tenure in the White House by demanding a loyalty pledge from then-FBI director James Comey, asking him to see his way clear to just "let this go" with embattled aide Michael Flynn, and finally axing Comey when he wouldn't do exactly as Trump wanted. 

“It’s the kind of subculture that most people avoid,” said Michael D’Antonio, one of Mr. Trump’s biographers, told the New York Times. “You cross the street to get away from people like that. Donald brings them close. He’s most comfortable with them.”


Fortunately for the Nation, Flipping isn't Illegal 

You're never gonna stop the activity of a crime boss by merely taking out his underlings. There are always more conspirators to be found, as long as the head is intact. New York prosecutors know that and they've clearly got their eyes on the top prize: Trump.

It’s not their first rodeo, and that’s becoming more pointedly obvious by the day.

Trump Suffers Brutal Senate Rebuke for Attacking the Free Press as ‘the Enemy of the People’

posted Aug 24, 2018, 8:36 AM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Aug 28, 2018, 6:55 AM ]

Reposted from Mark Howard at News Corpse

On August 16 2018, there was a coordinated effort on the part of more than 350 independent newspapers to strike back at Donald Trump’s relentless and dangerous assault on the media. And it’s about time. As noted by one of the organizers, the Boston Globe, “This whole project is not anti-Trump. It’s really pro-press.”

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i)[Left] and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)[Right]

File:Brian Schatz official portrait.jpg

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced and called for the immediate passage of a new resolution affirming Congress’ support of the First Amendment and condemning attacks on the free press, which undermine the credibility of journalists and the press as a national institution.

The Senate resolution comes as President Trump and White House officials continue to attack journalists and news organizations. 
By United States Senate [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, March 2015 and July 2011 respectively

Naturally, Trump took time from his golf game to post tweets (three actually) criticising this overdue measure of self-defense and support for the First Amendment. Once again he demeaned the press by calling them the “opposition party.” Actually, that’s true. They are opposed to much of what Trump stands for: lying, corruption, racism, misogyny, and treason. Trump’s GOP is defending all of those traits in this perverted White House.

Also on Thursday, the Senate passed by unanimous voice vote a resolution offered by Sens. Brian Schatz and Chuck Schumer. The resolution is focused directly at “affirming Congress’ support of the First Amendment and condemning attacks on the free press, which undermine the credibility of journalists and the press as a national institution.” What follows are some of the more pertinent passages from the text of the resolution:

Whereas the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States protects the press from government control and suppression;
Whereas the freedom of the press—

  1. Has been recognized as integral to the democratic foundations of the United States since the beginning of the United States;
  2. Has endured and been reaffirmed repeatedly throughout the history of the United States;

[…]

Whereas tyrannical and authoritarian governments and leaders throughout history have sought to undermine, censor, suppress, and control the press to advance their undemocratic goals and actions; and
Whereas the United States, including its long-held commitment to and constitutional protection of the free press, has stood as a shining example of democracy, self-government, and freedom for the world to emulate: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, that:

  • The Senate –
    • Affirms that the press is not the enemy of the people;
    • Reaffirms the vital and indispensable role the free press serves to inform the electorate, uncover the truth, act as a check on the inherent power of the government, further national discourse and debate, and otherwise advance our most basic and cherished democratic norms and freedoms; and
    • Condemns attacks on the institution of the free press and views efforts to systematically undermine the credibility of the press as a whole as an attack on our democratic institutions.
  • It is the sense of the Senate that it is the sworn responsibility of all who serve the United States by taking the oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States to uphold, cherish, and protect the entire Constitution, including the freedom of the press.

The fact that a resolution like this even needs to be brought up is a sad statement on the status of the United States government, and particularly the White House under Donald Trump. Its language is unambiguously aimed at Trump himself with the inclusion of the affirmation that “the press is not the enemy of the people.” Moreover, having been passed without any objections in a body controlled by Republicans is an indication that the GOP may finally be sick and tired of some of Trump’s overtly un-American tendencies.

Now if only they would see fit to challenge the President on matters like his punitive as well as intimidating revocation of security clearances for former intelligence officials; his assaults on the Justice Department as well as those conducting investigations on him; his reliance on Fox News instead of experienced national security professionals; and his predilection for lying and resorting to infantile name-calling.

Maybe, just maybe, the Congress might hold actual hearings to get to the bottom of his conspiracies with Russia and obstruction of justice. Its their sworn duty to act as a check and balance, to hold the President accountable for misdeeds, and to offer solutions that will prevent similar problems in the future with rogue leaders as well as foreign attacks on America’s democracy. Is that asking too much?

Learn More About the Work at News Corpse

Available now at Amazon.

Seattle Takes a Decade: Banning Drinking Straws while Plastics Take Down our Food Chain

posted Aug 10, 2018, 5:45 AM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Aug 10, 2018, 5:45 AM ]

Plastics are Quite Common & Unfortunately, Frequently Disposable

Some usual objects made from plastic materials include utensils, bowls, ice trays, bottles, a small electronic calculator, rope, zip ties, a compact disk(CD), a toy, packing foam, tape...

Some usual objects made from plastic materials. Many of these items are considered single use and would be discarded into landfills.  
By Cjp24 [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons. Taken September 2008.
While most of the decade was spent in due process for restaurant owners and the hospitality industry in Seattle, the majority of the extensions were from there being no practical way to implement the ban. Alternatives such as paper products were not cost effective for small businesses at the time. Further, they create other environmental problems
since paper products require several times more energy to make than plastic
Opponents of the ban citing governmental waste usually begin their arguments with quality of life issues, such as use of utensils at homeless shelters or children still learning their way around utensils. Critics also cite that 90% of all plastic in the ocean are actually coming from 10 rivers, all of which are from countries in Africa and Asia that do not have the facilities for trash collection like the U.S does.

Culture, Practicality, and actually Addressing the Plastics Overtaking our Food Chain

"If you want to have the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time, the best thing to do would be to help those countries collect their waste and have proper waste management," said Kara Lavender Law, a professor of research oceanography at the Sea Education Association.

The ban in Seattle may have very little impact on the issue itself. However it could, at length, aggravate innovation for a low-impact, biodegradable alternative for plastic utensils.

"We need to think about how we're using these materials, which are designed not to biodegrade," says Law, "They're designed to function for a very long time."

Update: Digitizing the AC Phoenix News

posted Aug 3, 2018, 8:49 AM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Aug 3, 2018, 9:13 AM ]

The AC Phoenix News was started by Rodney Sumler as the head editor in 1982, serving the community for over 30 years until his passing.  It empowered many voices of the community, small businesses and served as an economic boon for the Piedmont Triad. It was also the spiritual predecessor of the AC Pharos. 

This week we finalized the newspaper's preservation, but we still need your help. 

Bluford Library

Bluford Library at the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
Bluford Library at the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. As of August 2018, the Archives and Special Collection Division will be preserving and hosting original copies of the AC Phoenix News. 

Current Updates- Preservation and Continuation

Featured in this update, original copies of the newspaper will be housed at Bluford Library under the care of the Archives and Special Collection Division. Students, especially those majoring in journalism, will have access to the newspaper as a prime example of community-based, hard, fast, and agile guerrilla journalism. Faculty and community members from the NC higher education school system will have access to the original newspaper through Bluford Library as well. 

The copies will be eventually hosted for view via web in the Digital Collections in partnership with DigitalNC for the general public. However, the collection is incomplete!  If you have old, readable copies of the AC Pheonix News please contact us here. There are plans to continue the AC Phoenix News as a community publication, but to do this we also need help from the community.

How you can help: Contribute to the $85,000 Campaign to Continue the AC Phoenix News!

We discussed launching the Rodney Sumler Research Foundation, to continue the work of Rodney Sumler. He was dedicated to serving the community through the AC Phoenix News, therefore, our first campaign is to begin publishing the AC Phoenix news again.
We plan to make headlining articles from the AC Phoenix News available here at AC Pharos, alongside community insights and published data from the Rodney Sumler Research Foundation. 
You can also access back copies of the AC Phoenix here, and keep up with our campaign using data mining to develop the community.

To begin publishing the newspaper again we need $85,000. If interested in contributing, you can also contact us here. Every little bit helps. 

Word of the Day: Quisling --The State of Affairs in the United States

posted Jul 27, 2018, 8:15 AM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Jul 27, 2018, 8:29 AM ]

Reposted from Catgrin at Daily Kos 

Quisling (/ˈkwɪzlɪŋ/; Norwegian pronunciation: [²kvisliŋ]) noun  “a traitor who collaborates with an enemy force occupying their country.”

By now, 1.5 years into Trump’s alternate reality America, you may have heard the word “quisling”. Like the word “boycott”, “quisling” is a common noun derived from the name of an actual person.

Vidkun Quisling - Norwegian Military Officer, Politican and Hitler Regime Collaborationist

VidkunQuisling.jpg
Vidkun Abraham Lauritz Jonssøn Quisling was a Norwegian military officer and politician who nominally headed the government of Norway during the occupation of the country by Nazi Germany during World War II.
Vidkun Quisling (7/18/1887 – 10/24/1945) was a Norwegian military officer and politician who, on his own, was unremarkable. He would likely have faded into obscurity. Prior to WWII, he founded a floundering Norwegian fascist party Nasjonal Samling (National Union), but Norway was not interested in fascism. The party failed to get a single seat in the Storting, the country's great assembly. When Hitler’s troops invaded and occupied Norway, Quisling was of course put in place as Prime Minister. He led a  puppet government known as the “Quisling regime” that participated in the Final Solution, or the massive genocide of all Jewish peoples in German occupied states. Ultimately, Quisling was executed for charges that included embezzlement, murder, and high treason.

In Post-Helsinki you may Hear more People Calling Trump a “Quisling”-- and They’d be Right to do So

Trump has now put on open display his willingness to follow Putin’s lead over American concerns. While America isn’t physically being occupied by Russian forces, much of our modern lives exists online: the corruptive influence of Russian hackers and bots is still being felt daily. Current calls for paper ballots and spot checks of the Midterm elections reflect our very real, ongoing concerns about digital security while engaged in cyber-warfare. Meanwhile, Trump continues to dismantle the legacy of Obama along with the rule of law and our longstanding international alliances. His actions are treasonous.

Last Note: A synonym for “quisling” is “collaborationist”.

The Federal Minimum Wage is Currently a Poverty Wage

posted Jul 20, 2018, 7:56 AM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Jul 20, 2018, 8:31 AM ]

Reposted from Ben Zipperer at the Economic Policy Institute

Higher wages were a key plank of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign to reduce poverty. But over the last five decades the real (inflation-adjusted) value of the minimum wage—a key tool in the fight against poverty—has steadily eroded. 

The Poor People's Campaign: Current Federal Minimum Wage as a Poverty Wage

Figure A. Snapshot provided by the Economic Policy Institute depicting Ben Zipper's calculations from historical federal minimum wage values, and average 2016 poverty thresholds inflation-adjusted to 2017 dollars from U.S. Census Bureau, “Income and Poverty in the United States: 2016”, September 2017.
View the full interactive data chart that displays statistics for each individual year here. 
Minimum wage increases have been too infrequent to keep up with inflation, let alone raise the real value of the minimum wage above where it was in 1968. While a full-time minimum wage worker in 1968 would have earned $20,600 a year (in 2017 dollars), a worker paid the federal minimum wage in 2017 could only earn $15,080 working full time. Figure A compares these full-time minimum wage incomes to poverty thresholds for different family sizes and shows that, today, a single parent of one child would be consigned to poverty if that parent earned the federal minimum wage.

The fall in the inflation-adjusted minimum wage over the last five decades has made poverty rates substantially worse, particularly for people of color. More than one out of five nonelderly black and Hispanic people lived in poverty in 2016, or about 18.3 million people. (Interactive Data Chart). While poverty has a variety of causes, one important contribution is low wages.

Some states have minimum wages higher than the federal minimum. In 2016, the average state and federal minimum wage was $8.28 per hour. But had the effective value of the federal minimum wage not fallen since 1968, the average state and federal minimum wage would be $9.70 today.

The most comprehensive assessment of the effect of the minimum wage on family incomes (PDF) finds that every 10.0 percent increase in the inflation-adjusted minimum wage reduces black and Hispanic poverty rates by about 10.9 percent. Had the federal minimum wage been raised to keep up with inflation since the Poor People’s Campaign began in 1968, black and Hispanic poverty rates would be 18.2 percent lower, and nearly 3.3 million African Americans and Hispanics would no longer be in poverty.

To Learn More

See related work at the Economic Policy Institute:
More about the economist, Ben Zipperer, and his analyses at the Economic Policy Institute. 

The State of Affairs in the United States: What Political Science Can Teach Us About the Killing of Journalists

posted Jul 13, 2018, 7:58 AM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Jul 27, 2018, 7:27 AM ]

Reposted podcast from Mark Goldberg at Global Dispatches- 

We are nearly six months into the year and already nine journalists have been killed in 2017, including four in Mexico alone. That figure comes from Reporters Without Borders and is part of a larger data set that researcher Sabine Carey is collecting on the murders of journalists around the world.

Memorial for Journalists in Mexico


Photo Credit: Knight Foundation
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists website, 18 journalists were confirmed murdered in 2017. You can view their database of journalist's deaths here.
Carey is a political scientist at Mannheim University in Germany, and co-author with Anita Gohdes of a new study about the killing of journalists around the world. Their research finds that the murder of journalists can predict the deterioration of human rights in a country within two years of the murder. Their study Canaries in the Coal Mine: What the Killing of Journalists Tell Us About Future repression is published in the academic Journal of Peace Research.

In this conversation Carey discusses her research and the broader political and policy implications of her findings. If you want to learn what social science can teach us about society-wide consequences of when a journalist is murdered, then have a listen. It is groundbreaking research.


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