Given growing levels of student debt combined with stagnant incomes over the past few decades, “something has to give somewhere,” said Mark Huelsman, a senior policy analyst at Demos, a left-leaning think tank.
After the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, many pointed at the gap between the black population and their overwhelmingly white elected officials as a symptom of the country’s problem with race.
You’ve likely heard the disheartening statistic that women earn 77 percent of men’s wages. Even though the statistic may be an oversimplification, the fact remains that working women continue to get the short end of the stick. Over the past decade, the gap hasn’t closed, and the progress that we’ve seen so far is actually mainly due to a decline in men’s wages.
“More than half of education and related expenses at public universities is now paid for through tuition, up from about 35 percent in 2001,” wrote study author Robert Hiltonsmith, Demos’ senior policy analyst.
In essence, public universities are no longer public, he said: They have become de facto “subsidized private institutions.”
Caroline Fredrickson, author of Under the Bus: How Working Women Are Being Run Over, recently shared her findings with Truthout on how female workers - particularly in labor-intensive jobs - continue to be economically shortchanged in the United States.
Mark Karlin: You make the alarming and ominous prediction that the exploitation of women in the workplace may be the canary in the coal mine for the growing plight of all workers. How do you see that "leaning together" might reverse this trend?
Mark Huelsman, senior policy analyst at Demos, said that the debt-free concept relies on what many higher education policy groups have long been saying: that states need to boost their spending on higher education and that student loan debt is crushing some borrowers and a drag on the economy.
To date, the Senate has been mostly unsupportive of the Moreland Commission's proposals. The good government groups are hopeful the current wake of scandal will be enough to finally persuade lawmakers to enact real change.
"We think that should be a wakeup call now to the Senate," Scharff said.
"This is not only a political decision,” said Emmanuel Caicedo, a senior campaign strategist with Demos. “This is a moment where our leaders can make a moral and ethical choice about whose voices matter."
It is a scandal that, in a nation where family values feature so prominently in political discourse, there is barely a shred of protection for working women who give birth. Worse, even the weak provision of twelve weeks unpaid leave doesn’t extend to some women, as Demos senior fellow Caroline Fredrickson points out in her new book Under the Bus: How Working Women are Being Run Over. Women who work part-time, for small businesses, and immigrant women often in domestic work are left out of our leave mandates.