Sunday, September 25, 2016

Black-white wage gaps expand with rising wage inequality | Economic Policy Institute

Trump could be the price we pay for ignoring sexism [feedly]

Trump could be the price we pay for ignoring sexism

Sexism is alive and well in America. It may be the reason Donald Trump is surging in the polls. But few seem to want to admit that. For example, in an interview with NPR, political pundit David Axelrod said the intense media scrutiny Hillary Clinton has received, and which Trump "seems to skip around," is not because she is a woman, but because she has been in politics for so long.

Axelrod, however, is not alone in denying unequal media treatment because of gender. Sexism has become normalized and the media have much to do with its normalization. With a cookie cutter approach to so-called fair and equal treatment, the media are engaged in "he said, she said" coverage.

"He said, she said" journalism

One of the most egregious examples of this phenomenon was the way the media covered (or failed to cover) Clinton's important speech about the fringe white supremacist right wing taking over the Republican Party. The speech was a warning to the nation about the unprecedented danger the Trump campaign poses. Yet it was dismissed "she said/he said"-style when Trump retorted, in his usual Don Rickles one-liner style, "Hillary Clinton is a bigot!" And headlines like, "Clinton, Trump swap insults," equated the two.

Clinton's fact-based, logical argument about having racist and anti-Semitic pathological liars in charge of a major political party, and possibly taking over the presidency, was reduced to rubble by the media's equivalency reporting.

"He said, she said" journalism describes how the media often cover politics, elections and candidates. NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen described the "formula." "There's a public dispute. The dispute makes news. No real attempt is made to assess clashing truth claims in the story... The symmetry of two sides making opposite claims puts the reporter in the middle between polarized extremes." It is like a boxing announcer: "In this corner we have candidate A and in this corner we have candidate B." Whatever happens in the ring is reported within the rules of boxing.

It has become cliché to say that in this election the rules have been tossed out by Trump and his blitzkrieg of lies, hate, racism, Islamophobia, immigrant bashing, misogyny, profiteering and pathological vanity. But what has not been talked much about is how the rules have changed because now there is a woman in the ring.

Sexist assumptions

U.S. News and World Report writer John Stoehr said that the media should stop making "false equivalencies" between Trump and Clinton. Stoehr says the media's obsession "for equivalence where there is virtually none" is "endemic," and criticizes the "tit-for-tat, volley between equals" reporting.

Yet in a "he said, she said" world, where the "she" is actually a "she," sexist assumptions stack up against her. Trump says the most outrageous things and is celebrated for "speaking his mind." Clinton "speaks her mind" using the word "deplorable" and she gets excoriated.

I associate the phrase "he said, she said" with a rape trial, where a man says it wasn't rape and a woman says it was. Getting a rape conviction based on victim and suspect testimony is next to impossible (unless racism is at work). Judges and juries are less likely to believe women than men. Women were considered unreliable, assumed to have "asked for it" or even thought to have enjoyed the assault. This attitude that a woman is less trustworthy than a man goes back for centuries and continues today with consequences that go beyond the criminal justice system.

In his recent article, "When a crackpot runs for president ," New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof makes some noteworthy observations about this state of affairs. Kristof writes, "A CNN/ORC poll this month found that by a margin of 15 percentage points, voters thought Donald Trump was 'more honest and trustworthy' than Hillary Clinton. Let's be frank: This public perception is completely at odds with all evidence."

Pointing to the widely quoted PolitiFact website, Kristof writes that a whopping 53 percent of Trump's statements were rated "false" or "pants on fire" compared to 13 percent of Clinton's.

Kristof's point is important: Despite mounds of evidence to the contrary, Clinton is seen as less trustworthy and honest than Trump. Hillary Clinton may have written her autobiography, but she is not in control of her story. There are larger forces at work shaping how people see her and what they believe about her.

Sexism is a toxic smog that we breathe in every day

I would suggest that, like racism, which scholar and clinical psychologist Beverly Daniel Tatum described as "smog in the air," sexism too is a toxic smog that we breathe in every day, and as Tatum wrote, everyone "needs to take responsibility...for cleaning it up."

The first step to cleaning it up is to know it exists.

On one level, sexism is obvious. "Rape culture," pay inequity, the GOP's "war on women,"sexual harassment at the workplace (thank you Gretchen Carlson and the other women at Fox for the felling of Roger Ailes)domestic violence, attacks on Planned Parenthood and women's health access to abortion and birth control, "mansplaining" are well-known examples of gender inequality.

But when it comes to the first woman nominated by a major political party for the presidency, some find it harder to recognize. Some, particularly on the left, argue her hawkishness in foreign affairs, her neoliberal tendencies and her husband's checkered record as president (NAFTA, Crime bill, etc.) immunize Clinton from sexist attitudes found on the left and among progressives. The bruising battle during the primary between Clinton and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders helped to fuel this illusion.

Even in the People's World, one opinion article dismissed outright sexism as a factor in one of Robert Reich's critiques of Clinton, and even included an embarrassing argument that could be interpreted as an Adam's Rib narrative - that Hillary was created out of Bill's rib - by basically arguing she was her husband's co-president.

For progressives to deny, downplay, omit or even unwittingly perpetuate the sexist lens through which we see Clinton, is to cede the election to Trump.

Sexism, a combination of economic, political, and social structures, keeps women of all classes, races, and ethnicities in an unequal state of being compared to men, and the accompanying ideology and culture that justify such inequality. Sexism, along with patriarchy, misogyny, and gender norms, has been a part of human society since the first division of labor, accumulation of wealth, organized social and political hierarchy. It has its own expressions, and dynamically interacts with class and race-based discrimination.

Sexist assumptions pervade every nook and cranny of society and get reproduced through cultural, economic, political, social, educational and media outlets. There are still many career fields and workplaces that are male-dominated, including sciencepolitics and themediaAccording to one study, women who succeed in male-dominated careers are often viewed negatively.

But even in the recent Atlantic article, "The death of 'he said, she said' journalism ," about The New York Times ending its usual practice of "symmetrical" reporting between Trump and Clinton, misses the fact that for the first time in a U.S. presidential election, the two candidates are indeed, a he and a she. Therefore the coverage that supposedly equates the two sides is more "asymmetrical" because of the unacknowledged sexist bias.

In addition, "he said/she said" journalism in this election has helped to normalize sexism by overlooking it like it is a cost of doing business. The misogyny that surrounded the Republican National Convention and Trump's subsequent suggestions of violence against Clinton are reported as just another outrageous thing said by the candidate instead of being put into a larger anti-woman context. Here I am glad to say People's World did an excellent job in exposing the misogyny.

Ignoring sexism gives cover

Ignoring sexism also gives cover to networks like Fox or NBC and their on-air or off-air culture of harassment of women, and tells the audience, all these lies and hate are OK. There was Matt Lauer's toothless interview of Trump and grilling of Clinton on those "damn emails," Trump hosting Saturday Night Live and Jimmy Fallon's "genial, hair-mussing interview" of Trump, which many took note of after Samantha Bee condemned not just Fallon but NBC execs on her show "Full Frontal."

"Network execs, and a lot of their audience, can ignore how very dangerous Trump is because to them, he isn't," Ms. Bee said. "They're not going to be deported. They're not going to live under a president who thinks of them as a collection of sex toys.

"They're not racist. They just don't mind if other people are, which is just as bad," she said.

But all is not in the media's hands. Clinton and her campaign have agency. Clinton can disrupt the sexist media smog machine by not feeding it. Instead of conducting "he said, she said" politics, Clinton could and should focus solely on issues and vision, on what her presidency will do and mean for millions of people.

Focus on the issues

She has to do this especially during the upcoming debate. She has been talking about education, infrastructure and an end to mass incarceration in her stump speeches, but the substance parts of the speeches don't make the news sound bites.

Her retorts to the latest Trump outrage make the news because of the "he said, she said" formula. But when she ties a retort to issues, as she did when Trump accused her of "playing the woman card" and she responded, "Well, if fighting for women's health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in," it helps breaks that dynamic because people are tired of what they see as the barb trading. They want to hear about vision and uplift. That is why after the Democratic National Convention, Clinton's numbers shot up. Because she and the Democrats drew such a stark contrast to the apocalyptic and nasty RNC.

Men should step up

While the candidate has to do the heavy lifting, her male surrogates and supporters should also step up and "play the woman card." President Obama likes to describe gender inequality and specifically how it relates to Clinton with a popular reference, "She was doing everything I was doing, but just like Ginger Rogers, it was backward in heels. And every time I thought I might have had the race won, Hillary just came back stronger."

Full Frontal Executive Producer Jo Miller said in an interview she'd like to hear more men, especially white men, speak up for women and minorities in the name of basic decency.

Otherwise, she said, "It becomes, 'Oh, you see everything through the lens of sexism,' or, 'Not everything has to be about race.'"

The more media executives such as Jo Miller that join this fight, the merrier. That's the kind of "he said, she said" reporting that could clear out the smog.

Photo: Hillary Clinton accepts the Democratic Party's nomination for president at the party's national convention in Philadelphia, July 28. | A. Shaker/VOA/Public Domain


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Labor Veteran Dolores Huerta on What’s at Stake in the 2016 Elections [feedly]

Labor Veteran Dolores Huerta on What's at Stake in the 2016 Elections

Ally Boguhn, Rewire

Since the founding along with Cesar Chaves and others of the United Farm Workers (UFW) union, through her current work in supporting union democracy, civic engagement and empowerment of women and youth in disadvantaged communities, Huerta's influence has been profound. The creation of the UFW changed the nature of labor organizing in the Southwest and contributed significantly to the growth of Latino politics in the U.S. .

Republican nominee Donald Trump launched his campaign for president in June 2015 with a speech notoriously claiming [1] Mexican immigrants to the United States "are bringing drugs, and bringing crime, and their rapists."
Since then, both Trump's campaign [2] and the Republican Party at large have continued to rely upon anti-immigrant [3] and anti-Latino rhetoric to drum up support. Take for example, this year's Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where Sheriff Joe Arpaio—whose department came under fire [4] earlier this year for racially profiling Latinos—was invited to take the stage to push [5] Trump's proposed 2,000-mile border wall. Arpaio told the Arizona Republic that Trump's campaign had worked with the sheriff to finalize his speech.
This June, just a day shy of the anniversary of Trump's entrance into the presidential race, People for the American Way and CASA in Action hosted an event highlighting what they deemed to be the presumptive Republican nominee's "Year of Hate."
Among the advocates speaking at the event was legendary civil rights leader Dolores Huerta, who worked alongside [6] César Chávez in the farm workers' movement. Speaking by phone the next day with Rewire, Huerta—who has endorsed [7] Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton—detailed the importance of Latinos getting involved in the 2016 election, and what she sees as being at stake for the community.
The Trump campaign is "promoting a culture of violence," Huerta told Rewire, adding that it "is not just limited to the rallies," which have sometimes ended in violent incidents [8], "but when he is attacking Mexicans, and gays, and women, and making fun of disabled people."

Huerta didn't just see this kind of rhetoric as harmful to Latinos. When asked about its effect on the country at large, she suggested it affected not only those who already held racist beliefs, but also people living in the communities of color those people may then target. "For those people who are already racist, it sort of reinforces their racism," she said. "I think people have their own frustrations in their lives and they take it out on immigrants, they take it out on women. And I think that it really endangers so many people of color."

The inflammatory rhetoric toward people of color by presidential candidates has led [9] to "an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color and inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom," according to an April report [10] by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The organization's analysis of the impact of the 2016 presidential election on classrooms across the country found "an increase in bullying, harassment and intimidation of students whose races, religions or nationalities have been the verbal targets of candidates on the campaign trail." Though the SPLC did not name Trump in its questions, its survey of about 2,000 K-12 educators elicited up more than 1,000 comments about the Republican nominee, compared to less than 200 comments mentioning other presidential candidates still in the race at that time.
But the 2016 election presents an opportunity for those affected by that violent rhetoric to make their voices heard, said Huerta. "The Latino vote is going to be the decisive vote in terms of who is going to be elected the president of the United States," she continued, later noting that "we've actually seen a resurgence right now of Latinos registering to vote and Latinos becoming citizens."

Read the entire piece on ReWire.

See Huerta's Speech to the Democratic National Committee.

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The Working People Weekly List [feedly]

The Working People Weekly List

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Tax Reform For Working Families Could Improve West Virginia’s Chronic Poverty Rate [feedly]

Tax Reform For Working Families Could Improve West Virginia's Chronic Poverty Rate

Too many West Virginians struggled to make ends meet in 2015, and the number of West Virginians living in poverty remained unchanged. One solution? A Working Families Tax Credit that would help people who work for low wages keep more of what they earn.

How could a West Virginia Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) help your community by boosting the economy and helping workers stay on the job? Find out here.

This week's Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram further explains how West Virginia can improve its ranking, currently the 7th highest rate of poverty in the nation.

Lawmakers Urged to Raise Revenues

This week the Charleston Gazette urged legislators to raise revenues to help fill next year's projected budget gap. Suggestions included raising the tobacco tax further, and increasing the tax on soft drinks and alcohol, among other ideas.

If not, we could face more cuts like these:

Comment Period Ending Soon – Have You Signed Yet?

Click here to add your voice to the tens of thousands of people from across the country who are calling for a strong payday lending rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. While payday lending is illegal in West Virginia, a weak payday lending rule could erode our protections.

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California labor commissioner fines illegal garment businesses [feedly]

California labor commissioner fines illegal garment businesses

Eighteen garment companies received fines of more than $682,000 for violating labor laws, state regulators announced. The businesses, all based in Los Angeles, were inspected this month by the California labor commissioner's office. 

The inspections revealed that the companies did not have workers'...

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Berenstein: The new rules of the road: a progressive approach to globalization. [feedly]

The new rules of the road: a progressive approach to globalization.

Jared Bernstein

For the last few months, Lori Wallach (the director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch) and I have been working on what we think of as new "rules of the road" for global trade. I've highlighted some of these ideas already in these parts, and a recent summary of our agenda just ran in The American Prospect; here's a link to the full white paper.

The intro to the white paper (below) explains our motivation, but it's really very simple. Like everything else, trade and globalization have upsides and downsides. They create winners and losers. They boost the supply chain of goods and services, holding down price growth, but that also shows up as real wage stagnation and job losses for significant groups of workers.

Unfortunately, both the trade debate and trade negotiations have long been co-opted by multinational corporate interests at the expense of workers and consumers both here and abroad. Fortunately, this election season has finally elevated that reality. The days when elites, both here and elsewhere, could ignore those who perceive themselves as hurt (on net) by globalization are hopefully gone, if not for good, than for a number of years.

That leaves a hole. Trump fills it with nostalgia for a period when America was less exposed to global trade, immigrant flows, and non-whites. Such nostalgia may appeal to certain voters, but that America isn't coming back (nor, for the record, would I want it to). What should fill the gap? Read on:

The emergence of trade as a top election issue shows that the economic and social costs imposed by our current trade policy model have reached a tipping point. For purveyors of the status quo, this is a crisis, as the inherent inequities in their approach to trade have finally surfaced. For those of us who have long recognized such inequities, the current moment presents an opportunity to craft a new model, a new set of "rules of the road." Far from trying to set back the clock on globalization, it is only through this new, far more inclusive, non-corporate-centric approach that we can rebuild American support for expanded trade.

This will not occur by continuing to assert that, despite their experiences, those who perceive themselves and their communities as having been hurt by exposure to the forces of globalization are just plain wrong. Or that the next trade agreement will be the one that fixes everything. Or by offering the increasingly large portion of the population who find themselves on the losing side of the current rules some temporary adjustment assistance.

It will only change if we change the content of our trade agreements and, in turn, the process by which we negotiate them. The "new rules of the road" must reflect the economic realities and needs of a much broader group of stakeholders. Crucially, to achieve such rules will require much greater transparency and inclusiveness in the policymaking process, helping to ensure that the resulting substantive rules represent the needs of the majority. This memo focuses on the substantive and procedural changes needed to realize these goals.

Globalization will surely proceed apace. Neither Donald Trump, Brexit voters, nor anyone else can put that toothpaste back in the tube. Nor should they. It is through expanded trade that we seek new markets for U.S. products, expand the supply of goods and services, and provide emerging countries with opportunities to grow by trading with wealthy countries.

But trade and contemporary free trade agreements (FTAs) are far from synonymous. The recent U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) report on the "likely impacts" of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) underscores that these agreements are not mainly about cutting tariffs to expand trade nor about jobs, growth, and incomes here in the United States. Rather, they're about setting expansive rules that determine who wins and who loses.

For years, those advocating for the "winners" that have been able to capture the negotiating process essentially said to those hurt by the resulting agreements: "Don't worry, this will be great for you too. And, hey, if it isn't, we will make it all better with adjustment assistance and some training." The hollowness of these false promises is finally evident to the broad electorate. The rules must be written for all the cars on the road, not just the Lamborghinis.

Our new framework starts from the premise that the current "trade" agreement process has been co-opted by corporate interests whose goal is to establish binding, enforceable global rules that protect their investments and profits. This corporate capture comes at the expense of both peoples' rights to democratically govern their own affairs and the ability of sovereign governments to effectively enforce worker, consumer, and environmental safeguards.

What follows describes a new set of rules of the road, one that puts the economic needs of working families at its core while excising corporate, protectionist influences from the rules. Achieving such inclusive policies will require a new policymaking process to replace the current system of opaque negotiations, a system heavily influenced by hundreds of official corporate trade advisors while the Fast Track process limits Congress' role and the public is largely shut out.

Continue here…

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