Commentary

The latest Census Bureau figures on poverty in America, combined with the data on inequality released a week earlier, confirm a shocking new reality. While a sliver of top earners are doing better than they ever have before, for tens of millions of Americans, insecurity—and, for a distressing number, destitution—is the new norm.

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“It’s time to turn America right side up!” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka exhorted those in attendance at the labor alliance’s quadrennial convention in Los Angeles on Monday. Time, he said in his keynote address, to change the ratio of power, to put the 99 percent in charge rather than let the richest one percent dominate government, politics and society.

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Washington DC needs jobs. When D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray made this point at a press conference this week, he may not have realized he was making a strong case in favor of the Large Retailer Accountability Act.

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A happy Labor Day to all -- a day for a last summer outing to the beach, a three-day weekend to shop the sales, or maybe just a day to stay home and get ready for the school year.

And, oh yeah, a day to honor working people.

When Walmart broke the bad news to shareholders last week about declining same-store sales and cuts to their profit and sales projections, the company offered a glib explanation. "The retail environment was challenging," asserted Walmart Stores President and CEO Michael Duke. Company executives pointed to weather conditions and the January payroll tax increase to justify the disappointing sales, but larger questions about why consumers weren't buying were never addressed.

In June, five Supreme Court Justices rolled back the Voting Rights Act, widely considered the most effective tool in preventing discrimination in our nation's history. Section 5 of the act required that certain states and localities "preclear" proposed election changes with federal officials to ensure the changes were not discriminatory.  The Court ruled that the formula used to determine which jurisdictions needed to get preclearance was outdated and unconstitutional. For those of us who care about voting rights, the question now is how do we respond?

The city of Richmond, California, has taken bold action to pull the community out of the depths of the residential real estate crisis. Its approach -- using eminent domain to forestall foreclosures -- promises relief for Richmond homeowners. But it also is a template for cities across the land suffering from their own fiscal crises and facing bankruptcy.

Going to college is an essential component of building financial stability, particularly if you come from a low-income family. At least that’s what we often assume. But assumptions often need qualification.

A month has passed since Congress allowed interest rates on federal student loans to double for some borrowers, increasing the cost of their college educations by as much as $4,500. While the debate continues to focus on the interest rate for future borrowers, it is ignoring the larger problem with student debt: the more than $1 trillion that had already been borrowed before the interest rate debate.

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