Current Wages, An American Dream Or A Nightmare

poor child poverty hunger

Every day millions of Americans wake up and go to work.  They are always chasing their own version of the American Dream:  that long-held ideal that if you work hard enough and long enough you can succeed.

For many, this dream is having the financial security to own that suburban house with the white picket fence.  Two little kids and the dog running through the back yard, while mom and dad are prepping for a barbeque dinner on the patio.

This Norman Rockwell vision of the American family has pushed people to always try harder, and to do whatever it takes to reach the ultimate goal of financial security.

Sadly for many Granite Staters, every day they go to work that dream is turning into a nightmare.  They slave at work for hours on end, while their paychecks are being stretched thinner and thinner.  Every day is a struggle to pay their bills and they are constantly falling further and further behind.  A $15,000 a year salary does not go very far when you have family.

Nobody who has tried to live on a minimum wage income would ever say that these people are lazy.  Just surviving on a minimum wage income is hard work.

Low-wage workers are not “just teenagers” as some may imply; they are adults. 70% of minimum wage earners in NH are over the age of 20, 36% of them are over the age of 30, and over 14% of them have at least one child. Many of them work two or three jobs just so their children do not have to go to bed hungry, every night.  Unfortunately going to bed hungry is a stark reality for too many children.

We are the richest nation in the world, yet we have children in our own country who are literally starving.  How is this even possible?  I do not have the answer to this question, but I know that we can do something about it.

Raising the minimum wage is a simple and effective solution to help millions of working families.  States across the country have pushed legislation to raise the minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour, to $9.00 an hour. Some have even gone as high as $15.00 per hour.

When you are living in poverty, every penny matters.   For the 75,000 Granite Staters who are living on minimum wage incomes, an increase to $9.00 would add $300 a month to their take home pay.  I guarantee you that every dollar of that additional $300 would be spent right here in our local shops and businesses.  If you are struggling to pay your bills today, there is not much saving for tomorrow.

The NH Fiscal Policy Institute estimates that raising the minimum wage in New Hampshire would add an additional $60 million to our local economy.

This is a political slam-dunk.  It is good for the 75,000 people who are living in poverty and trying every day to just survive.  It is good for our economy, because when low-income workers have money, they will spend it.  It is good politics, seeing that over 70% of Granite Staters support raising the minimum wage.

People do not want a hand out, they want to earn what they bring home.  They want to work for an honest pay that actually will pay the bills.  That is the real American Dream, and by raising the minimum wage, we can make that dream a reality.

*    *    *

If you are interested we will be holding a “lobby day” at the NH State House on Tuesday April 22nd.  Details here 

Congresswoman Annie Kuster Unveils Women’s Economic Agenda

Annie Kuster Women economic agenda

During roundtable discussion, Rep. Kuster was joined by New Hampshire women business leaders, female students, and other women who shared their stories and called for Congress to prioritize Kuster initiatives to improve the economic security of Granite State women

Annie Kuster Women economic agenda

(Tuesday, April 15, 2014 | Congresswoman Annie Kuster joins with Granite State women to unveil her Women’s Economic Agenda)

NASHUA, N.H. – On the heels of Equal Pay day, this morning Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) unveiled her new “Women’s Economic Agenda,” a plan for Congress to help level the playing field for New Hampshire women. A diverse group of female business owners and other women joined Kuster in unveiling her plan. These women shared their personal stories with Kuster, and underscored the need for leadership in Congress on issues that affect their ability to succeed in this economy. This morning’s event kicked off a series of roundtable discussions Kuster will hold to hear from women throughout the Second District during the next two weeks.

“It is astonishing that even in the 21st Century, women continue to make only 77 cents to the dollar of their male counterparts’ salary. We must prioritize initiatives that will help eliminate the wage gap between genders and encourage women to pursue successful careers during these challenging economic times,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “Today, I unveiled my new Women’s Economic Agenda, which outlines a list of initiatives that Congress must pursue in order to level the playing field for Granite State women and support their full economic success.”

Kuster’s new Economic Agenda includes initiatives to address the wage gap between genders, the importance of a fair minimum wage, tax relief for working families, efforts to better support women entrepreneurs, the urgent need to invest in the education of our children from early-childhood through college, the need for women’s comprehensive reproductive health care, and the importance of job training and workforce development, among other issues. Participants in this morning’s event included local women who shared their personal stories and representatives from a variety of New Hampshire organizations who support efforts to bolster women’s economic success.

“I was so grateful to hear from the Granite State women who shared their own personal stories with me today. Their stories demonstrate the extreme need for Congress to prioritize the initiatives I outlined in my Women’s Economic Agenda, and it is on behalf of them that I will continue to fight for things like equal pay, access to childcare, more contracting opportunities for women business owners, and so many other issues that are crucial to the success of our women professionals.”

“Fair pay, access to childcare, workforce development, small business ownership and job training programs affect not only the success of women, but of every Granite State family. These are issues that we all must embrace in order to support the economic development of our great state. I’m so appreciative that Congresswoman Kuster is taking the time to fight for the issues that matter most to our women and our families back in Washington,” said MaryAnn Manoogian, Director of the Center for Women’s Business Advancement at Southern New Hampshire University.

As a member of the United States’ first all-female Congressional delegation, Kuster has worked to level the playing field and create equal opportunities for Granite State women since taking office. She is a cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would increase the effectiveness of remedies available to victims of pay discrimination on the basis of gender, and she has successfully pushed the President to issue executive orders to support fair pay for federally contracted employees.  Kuster has also hosted a series of roundtable discussions with women business leaders from New Hampshire to hear directly from them about what she can do on the federal level to help New Hampshire women succeed in the workplace. These roundtables helped inform the crafting of her Women’s Economic Agenda. During the two-week April work period, Kuster will hold discussions with New Hampshire women from a variety of fields throughout the Second District, and she is committed to fighting for their best interests in Congress.

The Private Prison Industry Makes How Much By Keeping People In Prison? (INFOGRAPHIC)

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The private prison system is making massive profits by keeping people incarcerated.

The US has the largest number of people incarcerated per 100,000 than any other country in the world.

On top of all of that, CCA and other private prison companies are using inmates as cheap labor. They pay prisoners $.50 cents per day, while CCA is being paid $55 dollars a day to keep them incarcerated.

The_Private_Prison_System_in_USA
Privatization of the US Prison System. An Infographic from ArrestRecords.com

The reference links below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_prison

http://www.theinternational.org/articles/422-profits-over-justice-the-21st-century-pr

http://www.privateci.org/private_pics/Private%20prison%20fact%20sheet%202009.pdf

http://www.pbs.org/now/shows/419/index.html

http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/blog/%E2%80%9Clockup-quotas%E2%80%9D-guarantee-profits-us-private-prison-industry

http://www.activistpost.com/2013/12/the-us-prison-population-by-numbers.html

http://truth-out.org/news/item/20880-for-profit-prisons-eight-statistics-that-show-the-problems

https://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights/banking-bondage-private-prisons-and-mass-incarceration

http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/09/private-prisons-occupancy-quota-cca-crime

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-prison-industry-in-the-united-states-big-business-or-a-new-form-of-slavery/8289

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/13/incarceration-rate-per-capita_n_3745291.html

http://prisonvalley.arte.tv/en/forums/discussion/41/private-prisons-facts-data-and-future-prospects/

http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cpus12.pdf

LTE: Unions Are Under Attack Here In New Hampshire And Nationwide

Right To Work 2

Right To Work 2 By Steve Koppenburg

Since the 2010 elections, the attacks have become brutal. Extreme right-wing legislatures in the traditionally union states of Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin have been dismantling collective bargaining protections and imposing Right To Work laws. In the south, state and federal legislators actively work to keep unions out of their states. The efforts to kill unions are extremely well-financed by billionaire think tanks and corporations co-opting weak legislators and using union busting firms.

This is class warfare and if they win it will be class decimation. Unions have historically been the firewall for the middle class. As the union goes, the middle class goes. The unions are shrinking, the middle class is shrinking and the country is sinking into a society of “haves”, “have-nots” and, for the next generation, “haven’t a chance.”

Across the country, fast food and retail workers — specifically McDonald’s and Walmart workers — are standing up to fight for their rights. They face retaliation up to and including being terminated from their jobs.

We do have victories. RTW was beaten back in NH, but we must remain ever vigilant though against the further attacks that will come. In Los Angeles, the Port Truck Drivers just won a settlement reclassifying them from independent contractors to employees, allowing them to unionize. Student athletes at Northwestern University won the right to be classified employees of the NCAA, and the right to unionize. UPS, in a negotiated settlement with the Teamsters, have rehired 251 wrongfully terminated drivers. In Tennessee reports are surfacing that VW wants the UAW to represent its workers. The UAW has subpoenaed both state and federal legislators to an NLRB hearing on their interference in the union vote in the plant.

But the war against unions continues.  Berkshire/Hathaway has announced the closing of the unionized Fruit of the Loom plant in Frankfort Kentucky, and is shipping those jobs to Honduras. The company, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, said the move is “part of the company’s ongoing efforts to align its global supply chain” and will allow the company to better use its existing investments to provide products cheaper and faster.

Globalization is just a code word for the outsourcing of jobs to third world countries where workers live and work in unsafe sweatshop conditions. We will not let them strike the death knell for the unions. Reports of “the death of union” have been greatly exaggerated, We fight on in the North, South, East and West.

Remember the words Joe Hill used in a telegram to Big Bill Haywood before he was assassinated by the anti-union forces.  ”Goodbye, Bill, I die like a true blue rebel. Don’t waste any time mourning. Organize!”

NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health To Honor Workers On Workers Memorial Day

WMD+2014+poster20X14PNG

WMD+2014+poster20X14PNG

No matter how hard we work, how hard we try, and people are still going to be injured on the job.  Every day labor unions are pushing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to create a safer workplace for all workers.

For over 40 years, unions have been working with OSHA to identify workplace hazards and identify employers who are cutting corners that put workers safety at risk.

New Hampshire has always taken pride in the fact that we are one of the safest states to work in.  Over the last few years, New Hampshire has led the country with the least number of on the job deaths.  With only seven workplace deaths this year will be no different.

Workers memorial day

Once a year America’s unions and safety organizations, like the NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, honor these workers who lost their lives on the job.  The day, dubbed Workers Memorial Day, honors workers while renewing our effort to make our jobs safer.

This year the NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health will be holding their annual Workers Memorial Day dinner.

Worker’s Memorial Day will be held on April 28th, at 5:30 at the Plumbers and Steamfitters Hall, 161 Londonderry Turnpike, Hooksett, NH.

This year we have identified 7 individuals who lost their lives on the job in New Hampshire in 2013.  We will be adding their names to our perpetual memorial plaque.  There will be a buffet dinner and guest speakers.  There is no registration fee for this event.

The focus of the meeting is to remind everyone that, despite the passage of the OSH Act over 40 years ago, thousands of workers are injured or killed on the job every year, some of whom may never return to work.

The event is open to everyone, but space is limited.  For more information Brian Mitchell contactnhcosh@nhcosh.org and (603) 232-4406.

 

For more information on Workers Memorial Day go to the AFL-CIO Website where you can find a WMD celebration in your area.

What Does It Take To Live In Your State? (Interactive Graphic)

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This is a great interactive way to see exactly what it takes to live on the minimum wage.

For New Hampshire a single man/women would need to work 46.9 hours to meet the living wage.  For a couple with two children the number jumps to 64.1 hours a week or a living wage of $20.15 per hour.

If you have trouble interacting with the image, detailed directions below.  Special thanks to Sophia Coppolla (Accountingschoolguide.com) for sending us this image.


Source: Accountingschoolguide.com

How To Interact With this Graphic

1. Adjust the slider at the bottom to match your wage.

2. On the left, select how many adults and children are in your household.

3. Select a state to see where you fall between a poverty wage and a living wage.
- States that are brighter mean that you would earn closer to a living wage in that state.
- States that are darker mean that you would earn closer to a poverty wage in that state.
- The light blue triangle above the wage slider shows the minimum wage for that state.
- The dark blue triangle below the wage slider shows the federal minimum wage.
- The box above your wage listing shows how many hours a week you would have to work just to earn a living wage.

4. To see the nation divided into counties, click on “County View”. To see the nation divided into states, click on “State View”.

5. To zoom in on a particular state, first select the state then click on the plus sign that appears in the corner.
- While zoomed in, you can click on individual counties to see their poverty/living wages.
- To return to the national view, click anywhere outside of the state.

Morgan-Stanley And The NH GOP Spread Lies About “Premium Increases Of 90%” Due To ACA

Doctor Medical Healthcare

Doctor Medical HealthcareRecently the NH Union Leader posted an article — Surveys: NH health premiums up 90%; more people insured under Obamacare — about the Affordable Care Act and your insurance premiums that was so full of holes I could strain pasta with it.

The article explains Morgan-Stanley surveyed NH insurance brokers and they claim that insurance premiums have increased by 90% on average.

The NH GOP and Senator Scott Brown were quick to jump on the news in an attempt to gain support for repealing the ACA.

Morgan Stanley’s healthcare analysts conducted the proprietary survey of 148 brokers.” (Forbes)

After reading the report, I found that Morgan-Stanley only questioned one broker in New Hampshire.  This means the claim that premiums increased by 90%, was only one persons assessment.  Would you believe that a report is representative of NH with an interview from one person?  That is like taking your crazy uncle Larry as a representative of the entire State of New Hampshire.

At least Dave Solomon was fair in sharing some of the opposition to the Morgan-Stanley report.

Lisa Kaplan Howe, policy director at New Hampshire Voices for Health in Concord, said the Morgan-Stanley report is not necessarily an accurate reflection of the reality on the ground, since it surveyed only insurance brokers.

‘Many of the people who enroll in individual market coverage enroll on their own, through the website or through assisters,” she said. “So just talking to brokers isn’t getting the full picture.’”

There is no denying that insurance rates go up every year. This is no different from the price of milk, eggs, or Big Mac’s. This was just one of the reasons that Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in an effort to slow the rapidly rising costs of healthcare.

There is one place that does more than survey insurance brokers’, they calculate insurance premium costs for all Granite Staters.  Danielle Kronk Barrick, Director of Communications for the NH Department of Insurance, also investigated these claims by Morgan-Stanley, and this is what the DOI found.

Premium rates in New Hampshire, in the aggregate, did not go up 90%. An independent actuarial analysis modeling the Affordable Care Act impact on New Hampshire policyholders found that, on average, NH policyholders will realize an 8% rate decrease after subsidies. 

Individual experiences may vary significantly. The Department stands ready to review and consider any consumer’s experience. People who have received a rate increase they are concerned about should contact the Department. 

We would like to see the survey, but we were told it was proprietary and confidential. We don’t understand how Morgan Stanley is able to generalize what’s going on in the New Hampshire market based on talking to 158 brokers nationally. 

We do data-driven analysis based on what’s happened in the past and have actuarial projections. We also review rate increases and do not approve any increases that cannot be justified with data. 

The truth is that not everyone saw savings after the Affordable Care Act was passed, but overall more Granite Staters saw a decrease in their premiums than those who saw an increase.

*******

 

More information from the NH DOI on Healthcare Premiums

Here is a link to our projections, which were done by Gorman Actuarial in 2012 — we reviewed and approved the 2014 rates, and they were in line with Gorman’s projections: http://www.nh.gov/insurance/reports/documents/gorman_nh_mktstdy_kf.pdf

 

For more context, here is a link to our 2013 annual report: http://www.nh.gov/insurance/reports/documents/nhid_ann_rrhrng_2013rpt.pdf

 

Consumers may reach the New Hampshire Insurance Department by emailing consumerservices@ins.nh.gov or calling (603)271-2261.

 

 

You Should Be Afraid Of The Trade Deficit, Not The Budget Deficit

TradeChart

Reposted from Campaign For America’s Future.
Written by Dave Johnson

Our enormous, humongous trade deficit hurts our economy; our budget deficit right now doesn’t. What would the result be if people were more worried about the trade deficit than the budget deficit? Fixing the trade deficit would mean more jobs, higher wages and a much, much better economy. It would also mean the wealthiest have less power over the rest of us.

Have you noticed that the results of the budget deficit scare all seem to work against regular people? Getting people scared of “government spending” has forced a reduction in the things government (We the People) do to make our (We the People) lives better. We have cut back on education (meaning poorer schools and higher student debt), fixing roads and bridges (meaning fewer jobs) and safety net programs (meaning more people fall into poverty). There are even attempts to cut Social Security and Medicare. At the same time the rich are getting vastly richer.

No wonder the push to scare people about budget deficits comes from special interests thatrepresent the wealthiest.

Meanwhile we have an enormous, humongous trade deficit.

TradeChart

This trade deficit represents millions of lost jobs, and lower wages for the rest of us. These headlines tell the story:

What would happen if the public was putting pressure on elected officials to do something about the trade deficit instead. In a November 2013 New York Times op-ed, “Taking Aim at the Wrong Deficit,” Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker explain,

Simply put, lowering the budget deficit right now leads to slower growth. But reducing the trade deficit would have the opposite effect. Not only that, but by increasing growth and getting more people back to work in higher-than-average value-added jobs, a lower trade deficit would itself help to reduce the budget deficit.

Running a trade deficit means that income generated in the United States is being spent elsewhere. In that situation, labor demand — jobs to produce imported goods — shifts from here to there.

Here is a way to understand the cost of this enormous, humongous, ongoing and increasing trade deficit. The trade deficit is in the vicinity of $500 billion a year. Imagine the effect on our economy if companies that make and do things in the U.S. received $500 billion more in orders this year, and next year and again every year after that. Think about the people who would be hired, the factories and businesses (re)opening, the boom among suppliers and stores and everything else. Think about the boom in tax revenue that would help our schools and fix our roads. THAT is what the $500 billion trade deficit is – it’s the loss of all of those jobs, businesses, higher wages and taxes.

The simple message: The trade deficit costs jobs. Please ask your elected officials and candidates what they plan to do to fix it.

Raising The Minimum Wage Would Improve The Lives Of 4 Million African-Americans

Image via Wiki-Commons
Image via Wiki-Commons

Image via Wiki-Commons

A new study conducted by the AFL-CIO confirms 4,123,000 African American workers would benefit if the federal minimum wage were increased to $10.10 per hour. The study, “Closing the Gap to the American Dream,” which uses information provided by the Economic Policy Institute, found that while African Americans make up 11% of the workforce, up to 14.8% of those workers would benefit from a raise in the minimum wage.

“Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would improve the lives of more than 4 million African Americans,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “This pay raise is vital if we want to get our economy back to pre-recession levels. This is why the AFL-CIO has launched a Raising Wages campaign, to hold Congress accountable to the American people and demand that they raise the minimum wage for the dignity of workers and the sake of our economy and country.”

The report details the state of economic insecurity for many African Americans, who are much more likely to be paid lower wages than others. African Americans often have trouble finding a job, and if they are working, struggle to save for retirement. Hiking the minimum wage to $10.10 would greatly help African American workers across the country.

AFL-CIO Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Director Carmen Berkley said, “Raising the minimum wage is critical to African American communities across this nation. With national unemployment for African Americans still lingering in the double digits, any help from President Obama and Congress to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for jobs that African Americans already hold would be welcomed and a boost to our economy.”

The EPI report also highlights that between 2000 and 2007, African American men saw a decrease in weekly earnings of 2.3% compared with white workers, while African American women saw a 3.2% increase in weekly earnings. From 2007 to 2012, the report found that African American women only saw a 1.5% increase in their weekly earnings, lower than white women, while African American men saw virtually no change in their weekly earnings.

Click here to view the report

For more information on the AFL-CIO’s Raising Wages campaign, visithttp://go.aflcio.org/ClosingTheGap

 

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