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.
Since the Bush administration first recognized the genocide in Darfur, over 250,000 men,
women, and children have died. This number does not count the countless
women and children that have been raped or attacked as a result of the
Sudanese government's campaign to kill and drive out Darfur's ethnic
African populations. The violence and genocide is now spilling over
into Chad and the Central African Republic. Yet, even with such
horrifying statistics, the situation deteriorates day by day.
The Baltimore City Council is considering a bill
that would require developers to include affordable housing units in
all of Baltimore's residential projects. Under the proposal, up to 20
percent of all housing units would be reserved for low to moderate
income people. Baltimore is not the first city in Maryland to consider such a proposal. Montgomery County, MD,
in an effort to combat the loss of affordable housing, requires between
12.5 and 15 percent of the total units in every new subdivision or
high-rise building be sold or rented at specified, affordable prices.
In the groundbreaking film An Inconvenient Truth, Vice President Al Gore makes an impressive case that it is now essential that the world act to prevent the potentially catastrophic implications of global warming. The film could not come at a more critical time. While the planet warms, Washington dawdles. The nation's political elite remains mired in a debate manipulated by powerful energy interests.
There are few more potent tools for impacting the outcomes of elections
than changing what appears on the ballot. And there are no more direct
paths from public outcry to passed legislation than through ballot
issues. For years, the rightwing has been advancing policy goals,
shaping message, and marshalling voters through ballot issues (we've
already highlighted many of their current-year endeavors in this very
newsletter). Progressives increasingly are fighting back using ballot
issues -- which shouldn't be surprising, since initiatives and
referedenda were originally a progressive reform.
Working Americans get some good news today out of three states -- Montana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania -- where progress is being made on the minimum wage. In Pennsylvania, Governor Ed Rendell signed a staggered, two-dollar increase into law. In Montana, signature gatherers succeeded in qualifying for the ballot an initiative to increase the minimum wage and tie the minimum to inflation.