Commentary

Our city governments make decisions that affect us most, yet we know very little about the ways that money influences them. In a previous post I explored new evidence that people of color are not well represented by their councils. One possible reason is the overwhelmingly white municipal donor classes.

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Federal deficit hawks in Congress, driven by ideology and the campaign donations of, for lack of a better term, millionaires and billionaires, held yet another hearing last week about the national debt — but U.S. lawmakers continue to ignore the debt that is causing real trouble for the nation.

The debt danger Americans should really worry about comes from credit cards and student loans.[...]

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Though much political science research and news coverage focuses on federal and state level politics, most Americans interact far more often with municipal government.

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More bosses are weighing the credit worthiness of job candidates before making a hire — a practice that some lawmakers say unfairly keeps people with bad credit from landing a job.

On Thursday, the Senate takes up a proposal to restrict employers in most cases from using financial information such as credit scores to decide whom to hire, promote or fire. [...]

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There's no one reason for the routine neglect of African-American areas, but a study released today by the civil rights advocacy group Demos pinpoints a huge government-access problem in South Florida: Black people, the study says, can't keep up with the deluge of campaign money coming from Miami's cadre of rich lawyers, lobbyists, investors, and real-estate tycoons.

It’s not every day that low-paid workers — cleaners mopping the floors of Washington’s Union Station, vendors selling pretzels at the National Zoo, servers dishing out hot lunch at congressional cafeterias — speak out and win a voice in setting national policy. Yet three years ago, that’s exactly what began to happen.

In May 2013, workers employed by private companies under contract with the federal government came together to form Good Jobs Nation – and walked out on strike in the nation’s capital.

The Obama presidency has left an indelible mark on American society, particularly on the issues of race and racism. Deep and enduring fractures across racial lines have been thrust to the forefront of the national conversation.

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Washington College’s initiative could encourage students to finish school, said Mark Huelsman, a senior policy analyst at Demos, a left-leaning think tank. “It’s certainly a good thing,” Heulsman said. “It can provide an incentive for students to complete and we know that the student debt crisis is fueled in large part by those who take on debt but don’t graduate.”

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My father was a machinist at a steel factory for 29 years. A white male who wore a hard hat to work, carried his lunch in a pail and washed his dark blue uniform at the end of every day, the metallic and earthy smell lingering in the laundry room. He was America’s hero, part of the brawny working class who soldered, heaved and secured America’s industrial might in the world, earning the pride and respect of our nation.
 
That working class is dead, Detroit’s bankruptcy providing a blunt symbol of its demise.
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Things are not the same for today’s working class families. Wages have stagnated and protections for workers have eroded significantly. The result is that many of today’s working class families are struggling to simply keep food on the table.

“The things [that I had] have completely evaporated [for the working class],” Draut says. “My ability to educate my way out of the working class – that door has been shut for the new generation.”

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