Despite real progress over the last generation in overcoming discrimination in our society, the reality is that Americans are still regularly refused employment, housing or equal treatment under the law because of their nationality or the color of their skin. The numbers highlighting this racial discrimination are stark:
This week, an Arkansas bill to ban gay adoption
collapsed in the
House, after passing the state Senate earlier this month. In New
Hampshire, the state House
passed a bill affirming the right of gay couples to jointly adopt
children. Earlier this month, the Colorado House
approved a similar
adoption" bill in a bipartisan vote.
The past thirty years have seen a marked decline in job quality for a substantial portion of the U.S. workforce: stagnant wages, shrinking health benefits and less job security.
While a number of factors explain this decline, there is little
question that the decline in the strength of labor unions in the US has
played a major role.
Nearly 200 Wal-Mart workers spontaneously walked off the job
in Florida this week in response to new rules that even two department
managers leading the walkout deemed "inhuman." Not only were hours cut
for all full-time workers -- from 40 hours a week down to 32 hours, but
employees were required to be available for any shift around the clock.
Nearly 200 Wal-Mart workers apparently spontaneously walked off the job in Florida in response to new rules that even two department managers leading the walkout deemed "inhuman" (two managers organized this action, at least thirteen others joined in it).
At the same time that a new study out of Massachusetts
reveals that tobacco companies are steadily increasing nicotine levels
in cigarettes, the fight to limit the health impacts of tobacco is
gaining new steam. Ballot measures will be considered in eight states this fall regarding tobacco. And in Virginia, where tobacco is king, Governor Tim Kaine is considering a ban on smoking in state buildings.
A conservative leader in Florida's legislature hit upon a novel idea -- ask the people for ideas for better public policy. They got ideas, but the press may now want to follow-up to find out whether the leaders will actually move on the progressive agenda the people are petitioning for.
Rep. Marco Rubio came upon the idea with two colleagues and set up a website called 100ideas.org to solicit ideas from the public and use the "best" to write a book called 100 Ideas.
The reality for working Americans is that wages have been largely stagnant for
over three decades. For many workers -- especially those without a
college degree -- pay has actually gotten worse, meaning that this
generation is the first one in American history which is not doing
signficantly better than the previous one. Part of the reason for
these stagnant wages is that inflation was allowed to erode the federal
minimum wage-- its inflation-adjusted value dropping from $9.12 per hour in 1968 down to just $5.15 per hour in 2005.