A Golden Lasso of My Own

Gosh golly, it’s almost as if conservatives are wrong about EVERYTHING:

"New data released by the Department of Labor suggests that raising the minimum wage in some states might have spurred job growth, contrary to what critics said would happen.

In a report on Friday, the 13 states that raised their minimum wages on Jan. 1 have added jobs at a faster pace than those that did not. The data run counter to a Congressional Budget Office report in February that said raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, as the White House supports, would cost 500,000 jobs.”

Even if it a higher minimum wage didn’t actually create jobs due to the stimulative demand-side effect, the business-side “discomfort” with raising the wage is bullshit. Their feigned concern would be at least somewhat understandable if every sector was hurting, but that is not the case. The rich remain rich, and in fact, are richer than ever: corporate profits are at record highs, and the stock market is soaring. We don’t need to coddle McDonalds and WalMart by paying their employees less than living wages — employees who, by and large, are middle aged folks with families just trying to survive.

But regardless, raising the minimum doesn’t hurt the economy: it actually creates MORE JOBS. So, seriously, stfu conservatives, and quit your concern trolling.

I stopped to get coffee and brought in some work to review whilst I caffeinated myself. As I was ordering, the following conversation took place.

Barista: [glances at paperwork stamped “ATTORNEY COPY” in conspicuously large blue letters] Are you a paralegal?
Me: No, I’m not.
Barista: Oh, then are you like, a secretary?
Me: No, I’m an attorney.
Barista: Oh. Really? An attorney? You’re an attorney?
Me: Yep. Last I checked, anyway.
Barista: Huh. I mean, you just don’t LOOK like an attorney.
Me: [raises eyebrow] What do you mean?
Barista: I dunno. You just don’t.
Me: Okay.
Barista: I mean, like, women can be attorneys and all, you’re just don’t, uh, LOOK like one of THOSE. You know, pastels and shoulder pads and mean and all that.
[awkward silence]
Barista: And like, that’s a good thing!
Me: Um. Thanks?
Barista: Yeah, no problem!

I don’t know what’s worse. The fact that he, like so many others:

(1) thought that I couldn’t be an attorney — or at least, found the fact that I am an attorney shocking — because of the way I “look,”

(2) possessed an apparent conceptualization of female attorneys that was so narrowly limited I couldn’t possibly fit into the category, or

(3) that he genuinely believed that these assumptions collectively formed some sort of compliment.

I guess next time I happen to announce that I’m an attorney I should properly look the part; too bad my “older-white-male-wearing-a-fancy-suit-and-tie” and “scowling-lady-wearing-a-1980s-style-power-suit” costumes are both at the dry cleaner.

[TW: class warfare] 

Via the Economic Policy Institute:

"[T]he wage gap between tipped and non-tipped workers is the widest it’s ever been in American history. …According to the study, the poverty rate among non-tipped workers is 6.5 percent—but among tipped workers, it rests at at 12.8 percent. More than half of the people represented by this overwhelmingly female demographic are more likely to rely on public assistance as a permanent wage subsidy. The authors of the EPI study note that public assistance was never meant to become ‘part of the business strategy for low-wage employers.’ They also found that the tipped laborer workforce is currently the largest it has ever been." Sylvia Allegretto and David Cooper, "Twenty-Three Years and Still Waiting for Change: Why It’s Time to Give Tipped Workers the Regular Minimum Wage," Economic Policy Institute (July 10, 2014).

The last time the federal minimum wage for tipped workers increased - by a whopping four cents, from $2.09 per hour to $2.13 - was in 1991. At the time, the minimum for tipped workers was half of the overall floor of $4.25. Today, it stands at just 29 percent of the regular minimum wage (which, at $7.25 per hour, is already well below its real peak value of $10.71 in 1968). 

The hospitality industry often claims that raising tipped workers’ base pay won’t help because customers will just tip less. However, the study refutes that myth, finding that in the seven states where tipped workers are guaranteed the same minimum wage as everyone else, overall earnings are higher and poverty rates are lower. “Paying tipped workers the regular minimum wage has had no discernible effect on leisure and hospitality employment growth in the seven states where tipped workers receive the full regular minimum wage,” Allegretto and Cooper write. “In fact, sector growth in these states has been stronger since 1995 than in the states where tipped workers are paid a subminimum wage.”

The study also dispels the notion that tipped workers tend to be college kids or young adults who are just starting out in the workforce. While tipped workers do skew younger than the population as a whole, 60% are at least 25 years old, and 30% are 40 and above.

Some other key findings from the study:

* There are approximately 4.3 million tipped workers in the United States, and roughly 2.5 million are waiters and bartenders.

* Tipped workers’ wages typically fall at the bottom of the income ladder, even after accounting for tips.

* Tipped workers are a growing portion of the US workforce. “Employment in the full-service restaurant industry has grown over 85 percent since 1990, while overall private-sector employment grew by only 24 percent.”

* “Ensuring fair pay for tipped workers is also a women’s issue. Women comprise two out of every three tipped workers; of the food servers and bartenders who make up over half of the tipped workforce, roughly 70 percent are women.”

* The poverty rate for tipped workers (12.8 percent) is nearly twice that of working people subject to the full minimum wage (6.5 percent).

* “Tipped workers have a median wage (including tips) of $10.22, compared with $16.48 for all workers.”

* The public subsidizes the incomes of tipped workers twice: directly, when we leave a gratuity, and indirectly, as 46 percent of them rely on public benefits to make ends meet.

Insert snarky comment here discussing how Conservatives yammer on about class warfare and discrimination against “job makers” blah blah blah. You know the drill. “Stuff and nonesense,” and all that.

[TW: class warfare]

Via the Economic Policy Institute:

"[T]he wage gap between tipped and non-tipped workers is the widest it’s ever been in American history. …According to the study, the poverty rate among non-tipped workers is 6.5 percent—but among tipped workers, it rests at at 12.8 percent. More than half of the people represented by this overwhelmingly female demographic are more likely to rely on public assistance as a permanent wage subsidy. The authors of the EPI study note that public assistance was never meant to become ‘part of the business strategy for low-wage employers.’ They also found that the tipped laborer workforce is currently the largest it has ever been." Sylvia Allegretto and David Cooper, "Twenty-Three Years and Still Waiting for Change: Why It’s Time to Give Tipped Workers the Regular Minimum Wage," Economic Policy Institute (July 10, 2014).

The last time the federal minimum wage for tipped workers increased - by a whopping four cents, from $2.09 per hour to $2.13 - was in 1991. At the time, the minimum for tipped workers was half of the overall floor of $4.25. Today, it stands at just 29 percent of the regular minimum wage (which, at $7.25 per hour, is already well below its real peak value of $10.71 in 1968).

The hospitality industry often claims that raising tipped workers’ base pay won’t help because customers will just tip less. However, the study refutes that myth, finding that in the seven states where tipped workers are guaranteed the same minimum wage as everyone else, overall earnings are higher and poverty rates are lower. “Paying tipped workers the regular minimum wage has had no discernible effect on leisure and hospitality employment growth in the seven states where tipped workers receive the full regular minimum wage,” Allegretto and Cooper write. “In fact, sector growth in these states has been stronger since 1995 than in the states where tipped workers are paid a subminimum wage.”

The study also dispels the notion that tipped workers tend to be college kids or young adults who are just starting out in the workforce. While tipped workers do skew younger than the population as a whole, 60% are at least 25 years old, and 30% are 40 and above.

Some other key findings from the study:

* There are approximately 4.3 million tipped workers in the United States, and roughly 2.5 million are waiters and bartenders.

* Tipped workers’ wages typically fall at the bottom of the income ladder, even after accounting for tips.

* Tipped workers are a growing portion of the US workforce. “Employment in the full-service restaurant industry has grown over 85 percent since 1990, while overall private-sector employment grew by only 24 percent.”

* “Ensuring fair pay for tipped workers is also a women’s issue. Women comprise two out of every three tipped workers; of the food servers and bartenders who make up over half of the tipped workforce, roughly 70 percent are women.”

* The poverty rate for tipped workers (12.8 percent) is nearly twice that of working people subject to the full minimum wage (6.5 percent).

* “Tipped workers have a median wage (including tips) of $10.22, compared with $16.48 for all workers.”

* The public subsidizes the incomes of tipped workers twice: directly, when we leave a gratuity, and indirectly, as 46 percent of them rely on public benefits to make ends meet.

Insert snarky comment here discussing how Conservatives yammer on about class warfare and discrimination against “job makers” blah blah blah. You know the drill. “Stuff and nonesense,” and all that.

An ally should be an ally regardless of “health”

[CN: fat hatred, healthism]

I was absent mindedly scrolling through Pinterest this morning when I saw a picture of a gorgeous fat woman doing yoga in her living room. I clicked through to the article, hoping to find a semi-decent post about body positivity, or even - GASP! - just a piece about practicing yoga at home with no mention or discussion of the fact that the photo subject happened to be a fat woman. Needless to say, I hoped for too much.

The article was effectively about healthism, or rather, fat hatred masked as pernicious health concern trolling, and may be adequately summarized by the pinner’s comment (which, heretofore, I had hoped simply misstated the crux of the argument): “If your [sic] healthy that’s all that matters!!!” This, of course, reminded me of a recent conversation with my friend M, and re-kindled my desire to write a (very brief) response to this oh-so-prevalent sentiment.

I’ve heard a lot of people state some variation of “I think it’s fine for people to be any size as long as they’re healthy.” Ostensibly, these folks think that they’re being supportive by making such statements. However, intent is not magic, and good intentions do not make said statements any less problematic.

The idea that people feel they may dictate to others what “health” means, how highly they should prioritize it, and what path they should employ to become “healthy” (however that is defined by the commenter) is deeply offensive, and arguably more so BECAUSE these folks think they’re acting as allies.

Whether intended or not, these opinions often convey a sense of the speaker’s superiority over the listener, in no small part due to their belief of entitlement over another person such that they are justified in auditing another’s size and health plan. Of course, they DO NOT, in actuality, have any authority over anyone’s body and health but their own (and legally, I suppose, over the health of their children - which may or may not have consequences for the health of others *cough*ANTI-VACC’ERS*cough* - but that is a post for another day).

Sadly, as ever appears to be the case, the *lack of authority* to say such hurtful things does not generally *stop* an individual from *actually saying* hurtful things, and consequently harming those persons they are apparently trying to “help.” Suffice it to say, that is not the behavior of an ally.

The implication contained within the “as long as you’re healthy” sentiment generally boils down to: you can be fat as long as you’re healthy, but as soon as you become not-healthy (by whatever definition of “health” they are applying) then you can no longer be fat. Which of course assumes that:

(1) fat is causing the problem;

(2) becoming thin would solve the problem;

(3) becoming thin is possible;

(4) becoming “healthy” is possible;

and, by inference,

(5) thin people are always healthy.

In other words, the statement impliedly assumes that fat persons are not, as a default, “healthy,” and ignores the fact that plenty of not-fat people are themselves not-healthy. It also simultaneously disregards the fact that not everyone can become not-fat, or that their health problem may be caused by something other than their size.

Health is never guaranteed and rarely within one’s control. Access, genetics, and past behaviors (including dieting and/or unhealthy amounts or means of exercise) all play a huge role in an individual’s measure of “health.” Access to healthcare, in particular, cannot be understated: it encompasses many different considerations, including but not limited to education, the ability to afford certain foods/lifestyles/healthcare, availability within a particular community, and even the ability to find competent healthcare providers.

Health is not a barometer of worthiness, nor is it an obligation. No person, of any size, owes anyone else “health” in order to justify their very existence. Anyone who says otherwise is not acting as an ally: they’re acting like an asshole.

The linguist Julia Penelope talks about how the use of the passive voice when we talk about crimes against women tends to shift our focus off of male perpetrators, and on to female victims and survivors. For example, we talk about how many girls were raped last year, how many women were assaulted, or how many women were slain. As opposed to saying how many men raped women or girls, or how many boys or men assaulted and murdered women.
Jackson Katz, Tough Guise: Violence, Media, & the Crisis In Masculinity. (via inactivecharliebronsons)

[TW: death, fraud]

G.M. communication “obtained by The New York Times from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration casts doubt on how forthright the automaker was with regulators over a defective ignition switch that G.M. has linked to at least 13 deaths over the last decade.”

Oh hey, since corporations are people or whatever now, we can charge them with fraud and negligent homicide! Right?

…Wait, you mean corporations are people without any people-type consequences? Oh. Well. Isn’t that lovely (for them).

SILVER LINING: investigative journalism still exists in American news media! Who knew, amirite?

threewords-imthedoctor:

Amazing posters from the Australian Human Rights Commission’s “Know the Line” campaign which aims to prevent and reduce the harm of sexual harassment in Australian workplaces. 

Check their page out at https://knowtheline.humanrights.gov.au/ 

It never ceases
To amaze how one little
Word can ruin a day

From article at link:

"The [one in four] Americans who live in poverty areas - defined as an area where over one-fifth of the residents earn incomes below the current poverty line of $23,600 for a family of four - is a significant increase from the 18 percent recorded by the Census Bureau in 2000. Southern states, which have been found to have a higher percentage of low-income public school students than others, have especially seen their numbers grow. In 2012, 57.3 percent of people living in the south lived in poverty areas, up from 46.7 percent in 2000.

The increase has affected Americans across the board, but the report found that Africans Americans are the most likely to live in poverty areas, at 50.4 percent, followed by American Indians and Alaska Natives. About 20.3 percent of white Americans live in poverty areas.

The growth of poverty areas can largely be attributed to exclusionary zoning and the migration of affluent people into suburban areas, according to Paul Jargowsky, a professor of urban research and education at Rutgers University and an analyst of the report. Exclusionary zoning occurs when suburban districts set requirements for joining a neighborhood, such as large minimum house sizes, that are impossible to meet for lower-income families. These policies contribute to highly segregated neighborhoods.

'You have many, many politically independent suburbs that use exclusionary zoning to create housing only for families with higher incomes,' said Jargowsky. 'As families with wealth move further and further out of urban areas you develop these very high-poverty neighborhoods where the schools begin to fail, you have high crime and low wages.'

On top of higher crime, lower wages, and schools lacking in resources, low-income families living in concentrated poverty areas often face a lack of job opportunities and lack of access to good housing conditions and health services.”


Conservatives call “wealth redistribution,” i.e. higher taxation on wealthy individuals and corporations to robustly fund a functional social safety net, “class warfare.” News flash: That is not class warfare. This is.

[TW: Rape culture]

From the link:

"More than 40 percent of colleges and universities in the United States didn’t conduct a single sexual assault investigation on their campuses within the past five years, even though federal law requires them to do so if they have reason to believe a crime occurred, according to a survey administered by the office of Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. …Even worse, 21 percent of the largest private schools surveyed investigated fewer sexual assault cases than the number they reported to the Department of Education each year, investigations that are legally required by the federal Clery Act. Sometimes the number of assaults reported to the Department of Education was seven times the number of cases a school had investigated, the report said."

Yes, hello, Universities? Rape culture called. It wanted to let you know that you’re doing a GREAT job upholding its core tenants, and to keep up the good work.

… Fucking goddamn it all.

So when folks say they’re frustrated with Congress, let’s be clear about what the problem is. I’m just telling the truth now. I don’t have to run for office again, so I can just let her rip.

And I want to assure you, I’m really not that partisan of a guy. My favorite President is the first Republican President, a guy named Abraham Lincoln. You look at our history, and we had great Republican Presidents who — like Teddy Roosevelt started the National Park System, and Dwight Eisenhower built the Interstate Highway System, and Richard Nixon started the EPA.

The statement I’m making is not a partisan statement; it is a statement of fact. So far this year, Republicans in Congress have blocked or voted down every serious idea to strengthen the middle class.

…The best thing you can say about this Congress — the Republicans in Congress, and particularly the House of Representatives — the best you can say for them this year is that so far they have not shut down the government or threatened to have America welch on our obligations and ruin our credit rating. That’s the best you can say. But of course, it’s only July, so who knows what they may cook up in the next few months.

…Now, here’s where it gets interesting. There are a number of Republicans, including a number in the Texas delegation, who are mad at me for taking these actions. They actually plan to sue me. Now, I don’t know which things they find most offensive — me helping to create jobs, or me raising wages, or me easing the student loan burdens, or me making sure women can find out whether they’re getting paid the same as men for doing the same job. I don’t know which of these actions really bug them.

The truth is, even with all the actions I’ve taken this year, I’m issuing executive orders at the lowest rate in more than 100 years. So it’s not clear how it is that Republicans didn’t seem to mind when President Bush took more executive actions than I did.

Maybe it’s just me they don’t like. I don’t know. Maybe there’s some principle out there that I haven’t discerned, that I haven’t figure out.

You hear some of them — “sue him,” “impeach him.” Really? Really? For what? You’re going to sue me for doing my job? Okay.

I mean, think about that. You’re going to use taxpayer money to sue me for doing my job while you don’t do your job?

President Barack Obama, at a speech in Austin, TX yesterday, commenting on Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner’s plans to sue the President for unilateral delay of the Obamacare employer mandate.

You guys. I have been waiting for this moment since January of 2009. President Obama has finally run out of fucks to give, and he is ON FIRE. YOU TELL ‘EM, PREZ!

[TW: misogyny, anti-choice rhetoric]

So. As y’all know, last week the US Supreme Court announced its horrifying decision in the Hobby Lobby “religious freedom” case, followed immediately by religious organizations trying to exploit the ruling by asking for an exemption from a forthcoming executive order that would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people.

Then, on Thursday, the Supreme Court majority issued an emergency stay on behalf of Wheaton College, an evangelical institution in Illinois, which objected to the accommodation the Department of Health and Human Services offered religious non-profits which don’t want to pay for any contraception coverage at all. That accommodation would require Wheaton College and other institutions to fill out a form certifying the objection, and then the insurer would provide the coverage directly, without the objecting organization having to pay for contraception.

To recap: the accommodation would require the organization to FILL OUT A FORM. And then DHS would cover the contraception, at no cost to the employer. That’s it.

Of course, Wheaton College claims even that is a violation of their religious liberties. That is, they don’t want their female (and other) employees to have access to contraception at all, in any way affiliated with their employment.

So the Court granted an injunction while that issue is appealed.

The link above directs to an MSNBC article cataloging the highlights of Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan’s scathing dissent to the majority’s grant of the stay. To quote the article:

"[the accommodation at issue] was one of the reasons Justice Samuel Alito cited to justify his Hobby Lobby decision – words Sotomayor threw back at him in the dissent. Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the government has to show it has pursued the least restrictive means to accomplish its goal. Alito claimed that because the nonprofit accommodation exists, that means the government has other ways to get women access to contraception that respects religious liberty. Yet only a few days later, he ruled that the nonprofit accommodation – again, signing a form – is also a violation of religious liberty."

So much for the ‘limited nature’ of the Hobby Lobby ruling.

a-golden-lasso-of-my-own:

The Supreme Court has, in effect, extended it’s horrifying holding in Citizens United. Hobby Lobby represents the latest development in corporate personhood, to wit: corporations now have religious freedom in addition to free speech.

Corporations are people, and women (and others who need access…

By the way: on Tuesday, the Supreme Court clarified that “its decision a day earlier extending religious rights to closely held corporations applies broadly to the contraceptive coverage requirement in the new health care law, not just the handful of methods the justices considered in their ruling.”

So all those people yelling about how this was “only about emergency birth control and IUDs so what’s the big deal OMG!?” Yeah. They were wrong.

President Obama believes that women should make personal health care decisions for themselves, rather than their bosses deciding for them. …[T]oday’s decision jeopardizes the health of women who are employed by these companies.

President Obama, via his Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, on the Supreme Court’s atrocious Hobby Lobby holding.

Way to go, Prez. I appreciate your succinct statement summarizing the fucked-up-ery of this case.

And let’s not forget about Harris v. Quinn

The US Supreme Court handed down another decision yesterday morning in the case of Harris v. Quinn, and dealt a serious blow to public sector unions.

The case involved the existence of the “agency shop,” a bedrock institution in American labor relations—one that has been relied on in the most successful recent union organizing, and is decisive to the health of public sector unions.

In American labor law, a union wins the right to be the exclusive collective bargaining representative for workers in a particular unit by demonstrating its support by a majority of the workers within the unit. But with this right also comes a duty: the union must represent all workers - union members and nonunion employees alike - when it negotiates and administers collective bargaining agreements. Thus, nonunion employees may realize the benefits of collective bargaining won by their union colleagues (often at considerable expense) but pay nothing for it.

Unions typically seek to limit this free-rider problem by negotiating clauses requiring all unit employees to pay their “fair share” of the union’s costs —for union members, this is done through dues; for nonunion employees, by some calculated “agency fee.” The Supreme Court has long recognized the legitimacy of such fair-share/agency-shop agreements, in the private as well as the public sector, within limits: unions may compel nonunion employee contributions *only* for the costs of negotiating and administering collective bargaining agreements. The costs of all other union activity—organizing, lobbying, public education, elections, etc.—are “nonchargeable,” meaning that they are paid by nonunion employees at their discretion.

Which brings us to the plaintiffs in Harris v. Quinn. A group of nonunion Illinois homecare workers employed by the state (and represented by the National Right to Work Committee (NRTWC) Legal Defense Foundation) argued that all public sector agency shops should be declared unconstitutional on the grounds that they violate the First Amendment’s prohibition against state compulsion of political speech.

Their reasoning went something like this: All public sector bargaining is intrinsically political. The First Amendment prohibits a state from forcing its citizens to pay for the political speech of others. Thus, if public sector bargaining is a kind of political speech, no state can order anyone to pay for it.

Justice Alito wrote the majority decision, in which the Supreme Court agreed with the plaintiffs’ anti-union sentiment, and held that non-union members cannot be required to reimburse unions that bargain on their behalf for the costs incurred during that bargaining.

Needless to say, without those reimbursements, the financial viability of unions is in serious jeopardy. And that’s not all.

Harris is a First Amendment decision. As Justice Breyer pointed out at oral arguments, Harris is the latest effort by conservatives to use “the First Amendment as their weapon” in order to implement their preferred policies through the judiciary.

The purpose of the First Amendment is to ensure a robust debate without suppression of ideas, such that the American electorate is best equipped to make choices at the polls. Harris, however, turns this principle on its head: according to the Harris plaintiffs (and now, the Supreme Court), the purpose of the First Amendment is not to foster democracy, but rather, to render democracy irrelevant.

This is a radical rethinking of our Constitution, with serious implications for the health of unions nationwide as well as the principles embodied in the First Amendment. And it was just embraced by five justices of the Supreme Court of the United States.