The benefits of a post-secondary degree are plentiful. For example, an employee with a four year college degree earns 60 percent more than a worker with only a high school diploma. Paying for college, however, has become a daunting task and strain for many American students and families. The cost of higher education across the country is rapidly increasing, at almost double the rate of inflation, outpacing increases in financial aid and many families ability to pay. The combination of these factors result in too many students being unable to earn or complete their degrees due to financial constraints.
With food and gas prices rising rapidly, low-wage workers can at least
welcome an increase in the federal minium wage to $6.55 per hour
scheduled to go into effect on July 24th. Even better, a number of
states will also be increasing their minimum wage rates even higher than the federal rate:
Voter suppression is growing rapidly in America today.Over half of states now have voter ID requirements more stringent than that required for first time voters in federal elections.Several states are clamping down on voter registration drives or are considering proof of citizenship requirements.
In the largest privatization deal ever proposed in the United States, a
consortium led by Spanish company Abertis Infraestructuras offered
$12.8 billion to lease operation of the Pennsylvania Turnpike
for 75 years. The deal would allow the company to immediately hike
tolls 25 percent and then increase tolls each year thereafter up to the
rate of inflation.
In 2000, the World Health Organization ranked the US health care system 37th in the world despite spending more than any other country. In 2007, according to the US Census Bureau, the US ranked 42nd in life expectancy.
If you are a person of color, a low-wage worker, non-English speaking,
or live in a low-income community, the picture is much worse. For
instance, the life expectancy for African-Americans
is 73.3 years, five years shorter than it is for whites. For
African-American men, it is 69.8 years, just above averages in Iran and
Syria, but below Nicaragua and Morocco.
On Wednesday night, the Connecticut House passed
a simple, yet far-reaching bill to offer small businesses and
municipalities better, more affordable health insurance. The
Connecticut Healthcare Partnership, HB 5536,
allows small businesses and municipalities to join the state employee
health insurance plan. This is significant because small employers,
towns, employees and their families will be able to join forces with
and benefit from the bargaining power of the 200,000 member-strong
state employee pool.
The Iowa Senate on Tuesday approved SF 2416,
a bill to sharply increase fines on employers violating Iowa state wage
laws, crack down on the practice of misclassifying employees as
"independent contractors" to evade those laws, and protect workers
reporting violations from retaliation.
$287 billion -- that is how much the U.S. spent
on pharmaceuticals in 2007, representing a significant driver of health
care costs. While spending on hospital and physician care surpass
spending on prescriptions, drugs still account for 14% of all health care expenditures. Combine this with polls that show 70% of Americans believe the drug industry puts profits ahead of people, and it's no wonder that in 2008, at least 540 bills
and resolutions are being considered by states across the country to
reduce prescription drug prices, ensure the quality of medications
covered by public and private health plans, and reduce the undue
influence of pharmaceutical industry marketing - which itself tops out
at $30 billion each year.
As Congress debates a stimulus to the economy in the wake of the
housing bust, many economists are urging federal leaders to make aid to
state governments a core part of the package. While direct tax rebates
for individuals can help, it will not do much for the economy if states
are forced to cut back on critical spending on public works, health
care, and education at the same time. As Nobel prize-winning economist
Joseph Stiglitz, who was also chair of the President's Council of
Economic Advisors in the 1990s, wrote this week in the New York Times: