The reality for working Americans is that wages have been largely stagnant for
over three decades. For many workers -- especially those without a
college degree -- pay has actually gotten worse, meaning that this
generation is the first one in American history which is not doing
signficantly better than the previous one. Part of the reason for
these stagnant wages is that inflation was allowed to erode the federal
minimum wage-- its inflation-adjusted value dropping from $9.12 per hour in 1968 down to just $5.15 per hour in 2005.
The 2000 election sparked an interest in electoral reform. Paired with
a rising tendency among voters toward self-declared independence from
the two major parties and a new wave of reforms have started growing in
popularity across the country. In statehouses and in voting booths,
reforms are moving forward to give Americans more real options at the
Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle is hinting interest in signing legislation to deregulate
the rent-to-own industry. The bill passed Wisconsin's conservative
legislature and is now awaiting the signature of Doyle, who as Attorney
General opposed similar bills.
Former Oregon Governor (and emergency room physician) John Kitzhaber was toying earlier this year with running again for Governor. He has now moved on to launching the Archimedes Movement, an organization that seeks to start by reforming Oregon's health care system significantly.
Following the 2000 election, everyone saw just how flawed an election
could be. In 2004, even without the same closeness, America witnessed
other problems including extremely long waiting times to vote: a sign
that America was no longer even preparing for moderately high turnout
elections. Meanwhile, one state was chugging along, doing just fine.
After winning the Governor's seat in New Jersey, Jon Corzine decided to keep
a Republican in the position of Agriculture Secretary. It was a good
move. Charlie Kuperus has held the position in 2002 and has won broad
support from both parties for his support of a number of measures in
support of rural New Jersey.