In the News

So no, Draut assures you, it isn't just a fiction of your imagination that getting a toehold on life today is harder--meaning more expensive--than it was a generation or two ago. It's true, and her book documents it.

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THIS MONTH, MILLIONS of college seniors are tossing their graduation caps into the sky.

They're leaving campus with hard-earned degrees, fond memories and -- oh yeah -- loads of student-loan debt.

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Abramsky's most persuasive material is his interviews with former prisoners who see voting as a way to become whole again.

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Financial pressures play into this, too. Young adults are carrying bigger debts, facing higher housing costs and may be the first generation not to do as well as their parents. The average credit-card debt among people ages 25 to 34 rose 55%, to over $4,000, between 1992 and 2001, according to Demos, a New York-based think tank in a report called "Generation Broke." Those ages 18 to 24 saw a 104% spike over the same period.

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Critics have long mocked New York's acceptance of partisan redistricting - or gerrymandering - as antidemocratic, saying it explicitly discourages competitive elections.

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The job market itself can pose problems, Ms. Draut said. "The hottest job markets are generally clustered in the major cities, where the cost of living is higher - which puts young professionals in even more of a bind."

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A recent study by Demos, a public policy group, broke down the budget of a sample college graduate. With a monthly after-tax income of $2,058, $797 goes to rent and utilities, $456 to food and groceries, $464 to transportation, and $307 to school and card debt payments.

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The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and middle America is falling by the wayside. The American Dream has been sacrificed at the altar of the almighty American dollar, and no amount of old-fashioned elbow grease is going to get our families back on track. Parents are working overtime to tread water; is this what your America stands for?

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Robert Kuttner maintains government is necessary to manage a social contract -- to tax the wealthy and redistribute the wealth. There is a call to minimize the preponderant influence of money in the political system, to reframe the progressivist message in a "catchy, compelling way, and to maximize democratic participation among citizens in middle and low socioeconomic strata.

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After a recent presentation at Demos in New York, Simran Sethi sat down with Lester Brown to talk about his latest book "Plan B 2.0', what gold and bottled water have in common, and what we can do to help the new economy rise.

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