Category Archives: Income Inequality

How climate change is driving emigration from Central America

A farmer carries firewood during the dry season in Nicaragua, one of the Central American countries affected by a recent drought. Neil Palmer for CIAT/flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

Miranda Cady Hallett, University of Dayton

Clouds of dust rose behind the wheels of the pickup truck as we hurtled over the back road in Palo Verde, El Salvador. When we got to the stone-paved part of the road, the driver slowed as the truck heaved up and down with the uneven terrain. Riding in the back bed of the truck, Ruben (not his real name) and I talked while we held on tight, sitting on sacks of dried beans that he was taking to market.

“It doesn’t come out right,” he said, “it just doesn’t pay anymore to work the land. I take out a loan for seed, and then I can’t count on making it back to pay off my debt.” Continue reading

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Joni Ernst Wants to Cut Social Security Behind Closed Doors

Republicans, Democrats and Independents, of all ages, races and genders, overwhelmingly agree. We understand that Social Security is more important than ever. We overwhelmingly reject any cuts to its modest benefits.

By Nancy J. Altman. Published 9-6-2019 by Common Dreams

Congress should address our nation’s looming retirement income crisis by increasing Social Security’s modest benefits. (Photo: Courtesy of AFGE, Flickr | CC 2.0)

Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) just said out loud what Republican politicians usually only talk about in secret meetings with their billionaire donors: The GOP wants to cut our earned Social Security benefits—and they want to do it behind closed doors so that they don’t have to pay the political price.

At a recent town hall, Ernst stated that Congress needs to “sit down behind closed doors” to “address Social Security.” She vaguely asserted, “A lot of changes need to be made in this system going forward.” But, she complained, if these changes were proposed in public, she would be accused of pushing “granny over a cliff.” It is not hard to figure out what “changes” she has in mind. Continue reading

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Have we forgotten the true meaning of Labor Day?

The first Labor Day was hardly a national holiday. Workers had to strike to celebrate it. Frank Leslie’s Weekly Illustrated Newspaper’s September 16, 1882

Jay L. Zagorsky, Boston University   Published 8-29-2017

Labor Day is a U.S. national holiday held the first Monday every September. Unlike most U.S. holidays, it is a strange celebration without rituals, except for shopping and barbecuing. For most people it simply marks the last weekend of summer and the start of the school year.

The holiday’s founders in the late 1800s envisioned something very different from what the day has become. The founders were looking for two things: a means of unifying union workers and a reduction in work time. Continue reading

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Despite ‘Relentless’ Assault by Corporate America, Gallup Poll Shows Support for Unions at Near 50-Year High

“The labor movement has a powerful wind at its back. And we will carry this momentum into new organizing campaigns and our work in the 2020 elections.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-29-2019

Union workers at a locomotive plant in Erie, Pennsylvania launched strike on Feb. 26, 2019. (Photo: United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America/Facebook)

Just ahead of the 125th anniversary of the creation of Labor Day as a national holiday, a Gallup poll published Wednesday showed support for unions among the American public is at a near 50-year high despite the best efforts of corporations and right-wing politicians.

The Gallup survey found that 64 percent of Americans approve of unions, up 16 percent from 2009. Continue reading

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‘No Pay, We Stay’: 23 Days Into Train Blockade Protest, Kentucky Coal Miners Demand Stolen Wages With Support of Progressives Nationwide

“I see us blocking the trains until we get paid.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-21-2019

Coal miners from Blackjewel coal company have been blocking a train in Cumberland, Kentucky since July 29, to prevent a shipment from their former employer until Blackjewel pats them their lost wages. The miners were suddenly put out of work when the company declared bankruptcy in July. Photo: BlackJewel Miners Blockade/Twitter

As of Wednesday, coal miners in Cumberland, Kentucky are now 23 days into a train blockade that they say will go on until their former company pays them.

The miners suddenly lost their jobs in the middle of a shift on July 1 when their company, Blackjewel, announced it had gone bankrupt. The company wrote two weeks’ worth of bad checks for a total of 1,700 coal miners, including 350 people in Harlan County, Kentucky. The company owes a total of $5 million to its former employees—about $3,000 per person. Continue reading

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Trump’s Domestic Gag Rule Forces Planned Parenthood to Withdraw From Title X Funding, Threatening Healthcare of 1.5 Million Women

“This is about control. Period. We will resist.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-19-2019

Reproductive rights groups on Monday condemned the Trump administration’s Title X rule, which bans health clinics from counseling patients on abortion care. (Photo: Mikasi/cc/flickr)

Reproductive rights advocates slammed the Trump administration on Monday after Planned Parenthood announced that the White House had forced it to decline funding used to provide healthcare to more than a million low-income women.

The organization said it was withdrawing from Title X funding, citing the Trump administration’s “domestic gag rule,” which prohibits health centers receiving the funds from counseling patients about where and how to obtain abortion care. Continue reading

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Bolstering Call to Expand Social Security, New Reporting Reveals How Corporations Are Offloading Pensions

Not only are pensions being offered less, existing pensions are being transferred to insurers, with employees suffering consequences

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-7-2019

Economists “warn that rarely, if ever, can people replicate the security of a pension,” said Karen Friedman, executive vice president and policy director of the Pension Rights Center. (Photo: 401kcalculator.org)

New reporting showing companies’ scrapping of pension plans has gone into overdrive means that Social Security must be expanded, an advocacy group said Wednesday.

“Expanding Social Security is important for today’s retirees,” Social Security Works said in a tweet, “but even more important for tomorrow’s.

The shift from traditional pensions to 401(k) or similar retirement plans—a change panned as an inequality-fueling disaster—isn’t new. “But lately,” reported Axios, “those changes are happening even faster.” Continue reading

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As Rosselló Resigns, Renewed Protests Demand ‘Real and Radical Change’ Instead of Continued Austerity and Corruption

“We didn’t demand the resignation of a corrupted government, for having another equally corrupted. We are demanding a real alternative.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-3-2019

Stepping down after mass protests over alleged corruption and leaked messages in which he denigrated women and LGBTQ people, Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rossello appointed his secretary of state to succeed him—but elation over the success of the recent protests gave way to more demonstrations against the new governor.

Hundreds of Puerto Ricans marched to the governor’s mansion Friday night, decrying the appointment of Gov. Pedro Pierluisi as an illegitimate continuation of Rossello’s policies. Continue reading

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To Keep Public Housing From Becoming ‘Panopticon of Automated Face Scanning,’ Democrats Push Facial Recognition Ban

“Surveillance of poor communities isn’t about safety, it’s about social control.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-23-2019

Two congresswomen are expected to introduce legislation banning the use of facial recognition surveillance in public housing this week. Photo: Change.org

Privacy and civil liberties advocates applauded a pair of Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday as they prepared to introduce legislation to protect public housing residents from the rise of facial recognition surveillance.

In a letter sent to their fellow members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) invited co-sponsors for the No Biometric Barriers to Housing Act, which would stop public housing complexes which accept funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from installing facial recognition tools. Continue reading

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At White House Gates, Hundreds of Religious Leaders Demand Trump and His Enablers “Repent of Their Sins”

“We must show up in person to deliver a prophetic indictment.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-12-2019

Religious leaders walk towards the White House on Wednesday as part of the “Moral Witness Wednesday” protest against the Trump administration. (Photo: AFSC via Twitter)

Hundreds of interfaith leaders stood ready to face arrest outside the White House on Wednesday where they delivered a “moral indictment to an immoral administration.”

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