Economic and Social Justice

Economic and Social Justice (145)

The Social Security Board of Trustees has just released its annual report to Congress. The most important takeaways are that Social Security has a large and growing surplus, and its future cost is fully affordable.

It is sometimes reported that Social Security's current costs exceed its revenue, but if that happened, we wouldn't need a report to tell us. The whole country would know, because 59 million beneficiaries would not get their earned benefits as they now do every month. By law, Social Security can only pay benefits if it has sufficient revenue to cover every penny of costs - administrative as well as benefit costs. The claim that Social Security is running a deficit counts only Social Security's income from its premiums, often called payroll contributions or taxes, and disregards one or both of its other two dedicated sources of income: investment income and dedicated income tax revenue. As Figure 1 shows, when income from all of Social Security's revenue sources is counted, Social Security ran a surplus in 2014.

House Democrats are lining up behind a sweeping bipartisan proposal to stave off a federal default and prevent a government shutdown despite initial concerns over entitlement changes.

Saturday, 10 October 2015 00:00

The Real Cost of Higher Education

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This September, millions of young Americans will start college, but at what cost?

Each year, the collective student loan debt skyrockets as tuitions continue to rise and graduates compete for scarce jobs with stagnant wages. From 2011 to 2013, the amount of debt held by recent graduates increased a whopping 20 percent, reaching a total more than$1.2 trillion.

It's high time UN agencies and the mainstream media acknowledge the true scale of global poverty and engage in a long overdue public debate on how ambitious and transformative the international development agenda really is.

As the star-studded endorsements and media hype surrounding the all-pervasive Global Goals campaign begins to subside, a very different truth is beginning to emerge about this latest attempt by the international community to end poverty and create an ecologically viable future. Despite the UN’s ambitious claims, all the indications are that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) do not have the potential to “free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want” or “heal and secure our planet”. On the contrary, the ‘new agenda for development’ fails to address the root causes of today’s interconnected global crises, perpetuates a false narrative about poverty reduction, and reinforces an unsustainable economic paradigm that is inherently incapable of reducing the true scale of human deprivation by 2030.

Hundreds of cab drivers at O’Hare and Midway airports in Chicago halted service late Wednesday morningin protest of new rules in Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed 2016 budget. The action, which was organized by Cab Drivers United/AFSCME Local 2500 (CDU), saw drivers blocking traffic near cab stands for roughly two hours, with many exiting their cabs to stand in protest.

Drivers acted in response to Emanuel’s proposed rules, which would allow rideshare services like Uber and Lyft access to the airports while maintaining their exemption from many of the regulations to which traditional taxi services are subject. The proposed rules are part of a wider effort, which includes a controversial property tax hike and new garbage fees, to close a $426 million gap in next year’s operating budget and fulfill the city’s overdue pension obligations.

The Pope’s visit to the USA this week comes just two months before pivotal UN climate talks that could lead to a global climate agreement. Climate change will be high on his agenda in planned addresses to the UN and Congress, and it is likely that one of his central concerns will be the economy. Pope Francis did not mince words in his recent encyclical on the theme of climate change and one of the main targets of his searing critique was our current economic system. He bemoaned that “the earth’s resources are … being plundered because of short-sighted approaches to the economy, commerce and production.” He chastised the dominance of the speculative finance sector over the economy, and the folly of looking to market growth to solve all social ills.

Yesterday Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced that he was ending his campaign for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. It was a week to the day after placing all bets on his record as a union buster to propel himself into the White House.

Sept. 17, 2015

After a month of major mobilizations from Jackson Hole, WY to Washington, DC, the Fed Up campaign today released the following statement, celebrating the Federal Reserve’s decision not to raise interest rates.

“This is a victory for the working families who stepped up with innovative organizing to send the Fed a clear message: Our voices belong in the debate about our economy,” said Ady Barkan, Campaign Director for Fed Up. “With the recovery still far too weak in too many communities, it would have been economically devastating – and immoral – to slow the economy.”

The U.S. Census Bureau released data this week showing little to no improvement in poverty and family incomes in 2014, despite a falling unemployment rate.

This frustrating state of affairs is directly related to high levels of inequality andstagnant wages, which have kept poverty rates much higher than they should be given that we’ve had more than five straight years of economic growth. The problem is that despite workers’ increased productivity and higher levels of education, the economic gains have concentrated at the top of the income ladder, leaving workers with flat or declining wages and chronic economic insecurity.

 

"Using arrests to solve homelessness...is contrary to a fair and just community."

The ACLU filed suit against Honolulu, Hawaii on Wednesday over the city's raids of homeless encampments, saying officials violated constitutional rights of individuals dwelling in the camps by throwing out food and vital belongings during massive sweeps.

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