Category Archives: Class

America’s biggest thieves: It’s the employers


And the pile they plunder makes the profits of burglars and stick-up artists pale by comparison.

From The Week:

In dollar terms, what group of Americans steals the most from their fellow citizens each year?

The answer might surprise you: It’s employers, many of whom are committing what’s known as wage theft. It’s not just about underpaying workers. They’re not paying workers what they’re legally owed for the labor they put in.

It takes different forms: not paying workers the federal, state, or local minimum wage; not paying them overtime; or just monkeying around with job titles to avoid regulations.

No one knows exactly how big a problem wage theft is, but in 2012 federal and state agencies recovered $933 million for victims of wage theft. By comparison, all the property taken in all the robberies of all types in 2012, solved or unsolved, amounted to a little under $341 million.

Remember, that $933 million is just the wage theft that’s been addressed by authorities. The full scale of the problem is likely monumentally larger: Research suggests American workers are getting screwed out of $20 billion to $50 billion annually.

Read the rest.

Mexican striking teachers union leaders freed


The ongoing battle over the neoliberal education reforms in Mexican mandated by the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto excited a storm of protest among teachers in Mexico’s southern states.

The mandate demolishes local school and teacher autonomy, and has been greeted with a regional strike, complete with roadblocks and barricades, provoking massive and violent state repression, with ten or more teachers and their allies dead from police bullets, drawing sharp international condemnation.

The action was ignited by members of the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación [CNTE, previously], a union formed 40 years ago in opposition to the government’s pet union.

One step the government took early on during the recent protests was to arrest and jail two of the union’s top leaders.

And now the leaders are going free, at least for the moment.

From teleSUR Engilish:

Two leaders from the National Coordinator of Education Workers, which has been leading efforts to oppose neoliberal education reforms in Mexico, left jail Friday after a judge ordered their release, though the two still face charges.

Francisco Manuel Villalobos Ricardez and Ruben Nuñez immediately went to greet fellow union members who were assembled at a nearby hotel in the City of Oaxaca for a meeting.

“To those who are mobilized, we owe them, more than anyone, this great struggle,” Nuñez told the assembled trade unionists. Nuñez added that there was still work to be done as many others remained behind bars.

The pair were detained two months ago under questionable circumstances, promoting an outcry from the National Coordinator of Education Workers, known as the CNTE.

Villalobos, who serves as head of the CNTE in Oaxaca, was detained on charges of aggravated robbery stemming from the seizure of textbooks by the teachers union in 2015. Meanwhile, Nuñez, secretary-general of the CNTE in Oaxaca, was detained on allegations of money laundering.

Both deny the charges.

After their arrests, leaders from the union said that the government of Enrique Peña Nieto was resorting to repression to silence critics of their education reform.

Chart of the day: U.S.A.! U.S.A.! We’re number one!


Number one, that is, in terms of the number of minimum wage hours family breadwinners must work to stay above the poverty line.

From the Washington Center for Equitable Growth:

BLOG Hours

Study shows sharp divide on educational equality


Americans are sharply divided on solutions to educational inequality, supporting class-based remedies but not measures based on ethnicity.

That’s the troubling conclusion of new research from the American Educational Research Association.

Here’s one of the study’s authors explaining the findings and possible measures to resolve a dilemma in which poor ethnic minorities are victims of poor schools and taxpayer reluctance to approve measures to improve them:

Study: The Politics of Achievement Gaps: US Public Opinion on Race- and Wealth-Based Differences…

More from the American Educational Research Association:

When asked about wealth- and race/ethnicity-based academic achievement gaps, Americans are more concerned about the gap between poor and wealthy students, more supportive of policies that might close it, and more prepared to explain the reasons behind it, according to new research [open access]published online today in Educational Researcher, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.

Drawing on nationally representative survey data, the study authors—Jon Valant of Tulane University and Daniel Newark of the University of Southern Denmark—found that 63.7 percent of American adults say that it is “essential” or “a high priority” to close the poor-wealthy gap in student test scores. Only 35.6 percent and 31 percent say the same thing about the black-white gap and Hispanic-white gap, respectively.

For their study, Valant and Newark used data from a national survey conducted by YouGov, an internet-based research firm specializing in academic survey research and online political polling. One thousand members of YouGov’s online respondent panel were randomly assigned to one of three groups to answer questions about the poor-wealthy test score gap, the black-white gap, or the Hispanic-white gap. The study authors then compared answers to these questions across the three gap groups.

Respondents were also asked about their support for three specific gap-closing proposals—teacher bonuses, school vouchers, and summer school programs. Fifty-two percent supported the teacher bonus proposal to close the poor-wealthy gap, compared to 31 percent for addressing the black-white gap and 27 percent for the Hispanic-white gap. The voucher and summer school proposals also received more support when directed at the poor-wealthy gap.

More after the jump. . . Continue reading

Rousseff to face impeachment after Olympics


Brazil’s neoliberal-dominated senate has done the expected and ordered suspended President Dilma Rousseff to stand trial for impeachment based on allegations of the same sorts of corruption her accusers may be tried.

The legislative coup’s backers are already reaping financial rewards from the measure, detailed after the jump.

But Rousseff still has one well-known supporter in the U.S., Bernie Sanders.

We begin with a report from the Manila Times:

The trial is set to open around August 25 — four days after the Olympics end — with a judgment vote five days later. If two-thirds of the senators vote against her, she will be out.

“The truth is, Dilma would need a miracle for that not to happen,” said political analyst Everaldo Moraes from Brasilia University.

“The biggest surprise would be if she managed to turn the process around,” he told Agence France-Presse.

“Even her own allies can see that. They know the process has become irreversible.”

Rousseff, 68, has called the impeachment drive tantamount to a coup by her political enemies.

More from the Associated Press:

After some 15 hours of debate, senators voted 59-21 to put her on trial for breaking fiscal rules in her managing of the federal budget. It was the final step before a trial and vote on whether to definitively remove her from office, expected later this month. The political drama is playing out while Rio de Janeiro is hosting the Olympics, which run through Aug. 21.

The outcome was widely expected: The Senate already voted in May to impeach and remove Ms. Rousseff from office for up to 180 days while the trial was prepared.

Wednesday’s vote underscored that efforts to remove her may have actually gained steam despite her attempts to woo senators who have expressed doubt about the governing ability of interim President Michel Temer, who was vice president under Rousseff.

An emerging picture of corruption

Her accusers stand accused of a wide variety of financial high crimes and misdemeanors, and interim president and chief accuser faces serious allegations and has become the object of public ridicule.

Details from teleSUR English:

Rousseff is accused of spending money without congressional approval and taking out unauthorized loans from state banks to make the national budget look better than it really was as she campaigned for re-election in 2014.

She says such maneuvers were common practice under previous administrations and do not amount to an impeachable offense.

Her allies both nationally and internationally point out that many of the lawmakers accusing her are implicated in corruption cases arguably far more serious than accounting tricks.

Eduardo Cunha, who spearheaded the impeachment process as president of the Chamber of Deputies, for example, has been indicted in the scandal known as Operation Car Wash involving the state-owned oil company Petrobras and was suspended by Brazil’s Supreme Court on May 5 due to allegations that he attempted to intimidate members of Congress and obstructed investigations into his alleged receipt of bribes.

Temer has also been implicated in corruption allegations. Known as the most unpopular man in Brazil, Temer was loudly booed at the Olympic opening ceremonies. If Rousseff is impeached, he will remain president until the next general election in 2018.

There’s lots more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Map of the day: Soaring rates of Euro idle youth


With Europe still reeling from the impacts of the Great Recession, it’s the continent’s youth who are paying the greatest cost, with increasing numbers falling into a category sociologists dub NEET [Neither in Education, Employment, or Training].

From Eurostat, a map of the rates of NEET youth in Europe:

BLOG Euroiyouth

More from Eurostat:

The European Union (EU) totals almost 90 million people aged 15-29, representing 17% of its population. These young people are in very different situations, with education and employment patterns varying considerably between Member States and by age group.

Between the ages of 15 and 29, a clear and significant shift occurs from the world of education to the world of employment. While in the 15-19 age group the vast majority of people in the EU were in education in 2015, the opposite is true for those aged 25-29: most of them were in employment. In-between, young people aged 20-24 were relatively evenly distributed between education and employment. Moreover, the proportion of young people neither in employment nor in education or training (NEET) increases considerably with age. The NEET rate, which stood at 6.3% for the age group 15-19 in 2015, almost tripled to 17.3% for the age group 20-24 and reached almost 1 young person in 5 aged 25-29 (19.7%).

In 2015 across Member States, more than 1 in every 4 young persons aged 20-24 was neither in employment nor in education or training in Italy (31.1%) as well as in Greece (26.1%) and more than 1 in every 5 was also in this situation in Croatia (24.2%), Romania (24.1%), Bulgaria (24.0%), Spain and Cyprus (both 22.2%). In contrast, the lowest NEET rates among young persons aged 20-24 were recorded in the Netherlands (7.2%), Luxembourg (8.8%), Denmark, Germany and Sweden (all 9.3%), Malta and Austria (both 9.8%) as well as the Czech Republic (10.8%).

At EU level, almost 5 million young persons aged 20-24 (or 17.3%) were in 2015 neither in employment nor in education or training.

Highest increase in NEET rate in Italy, Greece and Spain, highest drop in Germany and Bulgaria Although the proportion of young people aged 20-24 neither in employment nor in education or training remained relatively stable in the EU as a whole between 2006 and 2015, important changes occurred over the last decade in Member States. In ten of them, the NEET rate has decreased, with the most significant reductions being registered in Germany (from 15.2% in 2006 to 9.3% in 2015, or -5.9 percentage points – pp), Bulgaria (-5.3 pp), Sweden (-3.4 pp), the Czech Republic (-2.9 pp) and Poland (-2.8 pp). In the other eighteen Member States, the situation has deteriorated, with the proportion of persons aged 20-24 neither in employment nor in education or training increasing notably in Italy (from 21.6% to 31.1%, or +9.5 pp), Greece (+9.3 pp), Spain (+9.0 pp), Cyprus (+8.5 pp), Ireland (+7.8 pp), Croatia (+5.4 pp), Romania (+5.2 pp), Portugal (+4.9 pp), the United Kingdom (+4.4 pp) Denmark (+4.3 pp) and Finland (+4.1 pp).

Headline of the day: Now that Bernie’s gone. . .


From the New York Times:

Issue Where 2 Candidates Line Up: Not Talking About the Poor

  • Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump each promise to create jobs, but neither has said much about helping people while they are not working.
  • The silence is particularly striking because the problem is growing, a sociologist says