Friday, May 8, 2015

Last Call For Punishing The Poor

The Richest Man In Congress(tm) wants you to know that there's no real poverty in America, because our poors are just lazy, not actually, you know, poor or anything.

Darrell Issa, the richest man in Congress, said America has made "our poor somewhat the envy of the world." 
Asked by CNNMoney whether he feels personally responsible to address income inequality in the United States, the Republican Congressman from California said "absolutely." But he noted that America is the richest country on earth and implied that those in poverty here are better off than the poor in other nations. 
"If you go to India or you go to any number of other Third World countries, you have two problems: You have greater inequality of income and wealth. You also have less opportunity for people to rise from the have not to the have," said Issa. In the U.S., he noted there is better availability and access to quality public education.

So shut up you awful poor people.  If you really were moral, you'd have $450 million like Darrell Issa. Since you don't, he's obviously correct about us.

We should probably cut taxes on the 1%, just to be sure.

Watching The Watchmen

A three-judge federal appeals court panel has found that the USA PATRIOT Act does not in fact authorize widespread metadata surveillance programs and that these programs are illegal, but the panel stopped short of issuing an injunction stopping the surveillance.

In a 97-page ruling, a three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that a provision of the USA Patriot Act known as Section 215 cannot be legitimately interpreted to allow the bulk collection of domestic calling records. 
The ruling was certain to increase the tension that has been building in Congress as the provision of the act that has been cited to justify the bulk data collection program nears expiration. It will expire in June unless lawmakers pass a bill to extend it. 
Thursday’s ruling did not come with any injunction ordering the program to cease, and it is not clear that anything else will happen in the judicial system before Congress has to make a decision about the expiring law. 
It is the first time a higher-level court in the regular judicial system has reviewed the program.

The conventional wisdom is that this puts significant pressure on Congress to reform or stop altogether these metadata surveillance programs.

I'm here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.

Congress will do nothing.

The case will probably be appealed to the Supreme Court, and it will find in favor of the US government.

The programs will continue.

President Obama will be blamed, of course, but it's the legislative and judicial branches that will refuse to stop bulk collection of metadata.  Please keep that in mind.

Nailed In A New York Minute

This amazing piece from Sarah Maslin Nir in the NY Times covers the nail salon industry in the Big Apple, where a massive concentration of places to get your nails done has driven prices to half the national average. The true cost however is how workers there, often women of color, are treated as chattel.

Once an indulgence reserved for special occasions, manicures have become a grooming staple for women across the economic spectrum. There are now more than 17,000 nail salons in the United States, according to census data. The number of salons in New York City alone has more than tripled over a decade and a half to nearly 2,000 in 2012. 
But largely overlooked is the rampant exploitation of those who toil in the industry. The New York Times interviewed more than 150 nail salon workers and owners, in four languages, and found that a vast majority of workers are paid below minimum wage; sometimes they are not even paid. Workers endure all manner of humiliation, including having their tips docked as punishment for minor transgressions, constant video monitoring by owners, even physical abuse. Employers are rarely punished for labor and other violations. 
Asian-language newspapers are rife with classified ads listing manicurist jobs paying so little the daily wage can at first glance appear to be a typo. Ads in Chinese in both Sing Tao Daily and World Journal for NYC Nail Spa, a second-story salon on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, advertised a starting wage of $10 a day. The rate was confirmed by several workers. 
Lawsuits filed in New York courts allege a long list of abuses: the salon in East Northport, N.Y., where workers said they were paid just $1.50 an hour during a 66-hour workweek; the Harlem salon that manicurists said charged them for drinking the water, yet on slow days paid them nothing at all; the minichain of Long Island salons whose workers said they were not only underpaid but also kicked as they sat on pedicure stools, and verbally abused. 
Last year, the New York State Labor Department, in conjunction with several other agencies, conducted its first nail salon sweep ever — about a month after The Times sent officials there an inquiry regarding their enforcement record with the industry. Investigators inspected 29 salons and found 116 wage violations. 
Among the more than 100 workers interviewed by The Times, only about a quarter said they were paid an amount that was the equivalent of New York State’s minimum hourly wage. All but three workers, however, had wages withheld in other ways that would be considered illegal, such as never getting overtime.

Outright wage theft, company store schemes, physical and verbal abuse, and that's just for starters. The rampant racism and living conditions verging on human trafficking can be much worse. It's a brutal situation, happening in hundreds of salons just in New York City.

Worker protection laws are there, but when those basic laws of human decency can't be enforced because of a lack of government resources, lives get destroyed, period.

And again I can't help thinking that the near complete invisibility of this problem stems in part from the victims being women of color.


Related Posts with Thumbnails