Posts Tagged ‘inequality’

War on workers’ rights sending millions of Americans into poverty

Today brought more bad news for those who believe in the American Dream. According to the Census Bureau, the poverty rate in the United States has risen to its highest point since 1983.

The Bureau’s report, which can be read here, includes a number of sobering figures:

  • Over 46 million Americans are living in poverty, a poverty rate of 15.1 percent, or one in every six people.
  • The poverty rate is now the highest recorded since 1983.
  • Relatedly, incomes continue to drop, with the median American income plunging 2.3% between 2009 and 2010.

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Professional sports: More than what meets the eye

On Monday, I attended a screening of Not Just a Game; People, Politics, and American Sports, a documentary based on Dave Zirin’s book A People’s History of Sports. The film asks a provocative question: Is there more to professional sports than athletic competition and entertainment? And is it important?

The answer Zirin provides is an unequivocal yes-there is much more to sports than meets the eye.

We all know the stories of people like Jackie Robinson; athletes who faced hate and obstruction to achieve first-time gains. But as the film makes plain, these individual improvements have been used to cloak the systematic inequalities and barriers that characterize professional sports, even today. Black athletes who call out societal injustices are pushed to the fringe of their sports. Women’s sports continue to see a decline in television coverage, separated from the more lucrative media markets that male athletes enjoy. Economic systems are put in place that reinforce an anti-worker, anti-union ideology in society more broadly.

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Becoming a banana republic

In a recent op-ed for The New York Times, columnist Nicholas Kristof shines a light on the widening gap between ordinary Americans and the wealthiest among us. As it turns out, economic inequality in the United States is now comparable to or more severe than in many of the countries that remain notorious for their unequal distribution of wealth to this day. Countries like Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela—the so-called banana republics.

As Kristof puts it,

C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001. Perhaps the most astounding statistic is this: From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.

How did we get here? Read more »