In the last few decades, there has been a massive shift from
traditional defined benefit retirement plans -- where workers are
guaranteed a yearly return in retirement -- to defined contribution
plans like 401(k)s where money may be contributed each year with no
guaranteed return. The numbers are stark:
of workers with pensions (which includes today only 60% of the
population), 83% had defined benefit plans in 1980, while only 39% had
a defined benefit plan by 2004.
The Blues have joined the health care for all bandwagon in Minnesota. The state's Blue Cross Blue Shield is endorsing a bill based on the Massachusetts
model of achieving health care for all through compelling the purchase
of insurance, highlighting both a key strength and a key weakness of
the model. The mandatory nature of the law builds bridges to new
interested parties: insurance firms well positioned to benefit from a
law requiring that the public purchase their product.
The Los Angeles Times has a rundown of bills
passed by the legislature-- and for those wondering whether
progressives have an agenda, it's a pretty good illustration of what
could be done with a progressive majority. Many of these items may get
vetoed by Arnie, but it's still an impressive list. Here are the
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.
In the state with the largest number of undocumented immigrants in the
countries, state legislators in California are bucking the trend of
enacting punitive measures against immigrants and instead voted for two
proposals that actually seek positive solutions in integrating new
immigrants into the economy.
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.
For public employees in four states, this may have been a rough week.
As if balancing typical duties of work and family is not enough, a
front group for anonymous business interests this week began running
ads in Michigan, Montana, Nevada, and Oregonaccusing
public employees of being lazy and overcompensated. The campaign is
connected to the well-orchestrated rightwing attempt to impose
TABOR-style spending limits in numerous states through ballot measures
You sign up with a credit card promising you a fixed interest rate. You
pay all your credit card bills on time and in full, but slip up paying
a bill to a totally different company, say the power company, a bit
late. Your credit card company suddenly changes the rules and raises
your credit card rate to up to 35%, based on a provision buried in the
fine print of credit card agreements called "universal default."
As we detailed a few weeks ago, rightwing developers are using the cover of "fixing" eminent domain to push radical anti-environment initiatives on ballots across the country. Opponents ranging from outdoor sports organizations to labor unions have been mobilizing in response.