ADA Launches Jobs-Social Security-Minimum Wage Campaign

January 21, 2011  |   Paul Crist

ADA Launches Jobs-Social Security-Minimum Wage Campaign Undaunted by setbacks, Americans for Democratic Action today launches a Progressive agenda for jobs, rejuvenating the American economy, saving Social Security, and raising the minimum wage. JOBS • Workers without jobs can’t provide adequately for the basic needs of their families. The unemployment crisis is damaging families and contributing to a multitude of economic and social ills, including: o The highest poverty rate for working-age people between 18 and 64 – 12.9% in 2009 – since 1965. Today, 43.6 million Americans are living in poverty, 19 million of whom are in deep poverty. o Workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own often cannot pay mortgages and rent, even when receiving unemployment benefits, which are not equivalent to wages lost. The foreclosure crisis –primarily the outcome of misdeeds of bankers and mortgage brokers – is driving further declines in home values while destroying once-vibrant neighborhoods. Joblessness also contributes to increased homelessness, which is not only tragic for families who lose their homes, but is accompanied by broader social harms and increased budget pressures on already strapped local and state governments. o Unemployed workers – along with many who are still employed – are losing employer-based health insurance coverage. In 2009, 50.7 million people were without health insurance – the highest number of uninsured since the Census started collecting the data in 1987. Joblessness is increasing pressure on public programs such as Medicaid, while increased use of uncovered emergency services by


Inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean

January 5, 2011  |   Paul Crist

By Paul Crist December 18, 2010 According to the first ever Human Development Report for Latin America and the Caribbean, “Acting on the Future: Breaking the Intergenerational Cycle of Inequality,” published by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in July of 2010, the region is the most unequal in the world. Ten of the fifteen countries with the highest levels of inequality are in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). According to the report, inequality in the LAC region is 65% higher than in high-income countries, 36% higher than in Asia, and 18% above Sub-Saharan Africa. Not only is the region the most unequal, the inequality is persistent from generation to generation and characterized by low social mobility that has led to an “inequality trap” that is difficult to break. Coupled with, but distinct from poverty, inequality poses obstacles to progress in human development and democratic stability. Lack of equality of opportunity and empowerment lead to marginalization, oppression, and domination. Women, indigenous groups, sexual and gender identity minorities, and African-descended populations are particularly vulnerable. Because inequality negatively affects nearly every aspect of social organization, it remains the LAC region’s greatest challenge. It is a complex issue with many dimensions beyond mere inequality of access to goods, services, and income. Inequality of opportunity and life choices; inequality in education, health, and other indicators of human development; inequality in terms of political involvement and influence; and other dimensions all matter. Inequality is the product of a combination of factors. It cannot be


Immigration Reform Can Help Future Solvency of Social Security

August 17, 2010  |   Economics & Trade Paul Crist Politics and Policy

By Paul Crist, August 10, 2010 The bad news is that the fundamental problem faced by Social Security and Medicare in future years is that the decades-long trend of fewer workers supporting increasing numbers of beneficiaries will become critical, potentially threatening the solvency of the system unless some changes are made. The good news is that there is a simple solution to the worker shortfall.  The bad news is that political posturing, racism and hyper-nationalism is preventing us from adopting that very simple solution. These programs, despite what we hear about the “Social Security Trust Fund” operate on a pay-as-you-go basis.  The “trust fund,”  while real in certain respects, is more of an accounting figure, based on the excess paid-in contributions from workers and employers to the system that are not required to fund current benefit payments to retirees, survivors, the disabled, and administrative expenses.  The current excess funds are invested in special, non-negotiable government securities held by the trust fund.  If the fund begins to run a deficit, where benefits paid out exceed contributions from workers and employers, the Social Security Administration can redeem the securities to cover the deficit. At the end of 2008, the trust fund held $2.4 trillion in accumulated government securities.  According to projections, the trust fund will continue to accumulate surplus funds until 2017, when benefits paid out will begin to exceed revenue paid in. That in itself is not an immediate or grave problem, given the large accumulated surplus.  But it does present


America’s System Failure: Only a Wave of Democratic Participation Can Save This Country

August 8, 2010  |   Paul Crist Politics and Policy

 I didn't write this... but posted it because it is well worth reading! America's System Failure: Only a Wave of Democratic Participation Can Save This Country As welcome as it was, the removal of George W. Bush was not enough to cure what ails us. It goes to the root of our political system. by Christopher Hayes  February 3, 2010 There is a widespread consensus that the decade we've just brought to a close was singularly disastrous for the country: the list of scandals, crises and crimes is so long that events that in another context would stand out as genuine lowlights -- Enron and Arthur Andersen's collapse, the 2003 Northeast blackout, the unsolved(!) anthrax attacks -- are mere afterthoughts. We still don't have a definitive name for this era, though Paul Krugman's 2003 book The Great Unraveling captures well the sense of slow, inexorable dissolution; and the final crisis of the era, what we call the Great Recession, similarly expresses the sense that even our disasters aren't quite epic enough to be cataclysmic. But as a character in Tracy Letts's 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning play, August: Osage County, says, "Dissipation is actually much worse than cataclysm." American progressives were the first to identify that something was deeply wrong with the direction the country was heading in and the first to provide a working hypothesis for the cause: George W. Bush. During the initial wave of antiwar mobilization, in 2002, much of the ire focused on Bush himself. But as the


Liberals and Atheists Smarter? Intelligent People Have Values Novel in Human Evolutionary History, Study Finds

April 11, 2010  |   Paul Crist

ScienceDaily (Feb. 24, 2010) — More intelligent people are statistically significantly more likely to exhibit social values and religious and political preferences that are novel to the human species in evolutionary history. Specifically, liberalism and atheism, and for men (but not women), preference for sexual exclusivity correlate with higher intelligence, a new study finds. The study, published in the March 2010 issue of the peer-reviewed scientific journal Social Psychology Quarterly, advances a new theory to explain why people form particular preferences and values. The theory suggests that more intelligent people are more likely than less intelligent people to adopt evolutionarily novel preferences and values, but intelligence does not correlate with preferences and values that are old enough to have been shaped by evolution over millions of years. "Evolutionarily novel" preferences and values are those that humans are not biologically designed to have and our ancestors probably did not possess. In contrast, those that our ancestors had for millions of years are "evolutionarily familiar." "General intelligence, the ability to think and reason, endowed our ancestors with advantages in solving evolutionarily novel problems for which they did not have innate solutions," says Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics and Political Science. "As a result, more intelligent people are more likely to recognize and understand such novel entities and situations than less intelligent people, and some of these entities and situations are preferences, values, and lifestyles." An earlier study by Kanazawa found that more intelligent individuals were more