Commentary

The 2016 election is the first Presidential election that will occur since the Supreme Court struck down key provisions in the Voting Rights Act. Partially because of the weakened VRA, 10 states passed harsh new voting restrictions that will be in full force for 2016, including seven new voter ID laws. New studies suggest that the motivation of these laws is suppressing non-white voters, and worryingly, that they will be successful at doing so.

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The 2016 election is the first Presidential election that will occur since the Supreme Court struck down key provisions in the Voting Rights Act. Partially because of the weakened VRA, 10 states passed harsh new voting restrictions that will be in full force for 2016, including seven new voter ID laws. New studies suggest that the motivation of these laws is suppressing non-white voters, and worryingly, that they will be successful at doing so.

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Racism divides the American political system, strengthening opposition to social programs and reinforcing a plutocratic agenda. This is the lesson to draw from new YouGov data, which reveals that most Americans wrongly believe African-Americans make up a majority of welfare recipients and are net “takers.”

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Hard-working New Yorkers need time to care for their families without the pressure of missing a paycheck or losing their job. Whether it's the precious first months of a baby's life, the final days of an aging parent, or the critical weeks of recovery from a spouse's serious illness or accident, when a loved one needs care, New Yorkers need the time to be there for them.

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Wal-Mart for increasing the starting salary of workers from $9 to $10 an hour, which would boost the wages of 500,000 employees, along with other boosts in specialized sections. While this step is a positive one, a new Demos brief argues that despite this new policy, Wal-Mart wages and schedules still aren't livable. Demos finds that the new $10 an hour wage "still does not provide enough income to support the basic needs of a single adult working Walmart's full-time schedule of 34 hours per week in any state in the country."

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The vast riches of schools like Stanford and Harvard have created dilemmas about how their endowments should be directed. One slate of candidates for Harvard's board of overseers is calling for the school to spend some of its $37.6 billion endowment to cover tuition for all students. Lawmakers have also mulled requiring colleges with at least $1 billion in their endowments to spend at least one-quarter of the endowment's income on financial aid.

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America’s growing inequality is well-documented. Less discussed is its intersection with another of the country’s defining trends, growing diversity.

Racial disparities in wealth are vast. And addressing inequality now and in the years ahead, means thinking seriously about the racial wealth gap and the steps we can take to ameliorate it.

The idea of a property-owning democracy has long roots in American political thought. In their book, The Citizen's Share, Joseph R. Blasi, Richard B. Freeman and Douglas Kruse argue that the Founding Fathers wanted everyone (well, everyone who was white and male) to own a small slice of property. Both Madison and Washington praised the relatively equal distribution of property in the United States (compared with Europe). Thomas Jefferson wrote, "It is not too soon to provide by every possible means that as few as possible be without a little portion of land.

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The idea of a property-owning democracy is no longer the reality in the United States. Edward Wolff finds that the wealthiest 10 percent own 90.9 percent of all stocks and mutual funds, 94.3 percent of financial securities but only 26.5 percent of the debt. For the middle class, their home makes up 62.5 percent of their limited wealth.

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When Bartels compared the policy preferences of the rich and poor to actual policy results (with controls) his results were disturbing. He finds that low-income preferences had virtually no effect on policy outcomes.

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