Archive for June, 2012

June 9, 2012

Minimum Wage Should be at Least $10 an Hour!

House Democrats are proposing to increase minimum wage to $10 an hour! This makes sense, considering minimum wage should be around $10 just to catch up with inflation, as Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) points out.

Legislation to increase minimum wage to $10 was introduced on Wednesday June 6th by House Democrats.

Jackson argues that his bill called the Catching Up to 1968 Act provides low income Americans with a more fair chance by catching up to inflation. In addition, by boosting purchasing power of the working class we can also provide a boost to the economy, as the increase in income by low-income workers will mostly be spent right away on basic life necessities.


June 3, 2012

Income Inequality Affects Voter Turnout!

We have noticed that money has become dangerously intertwined with politics, but studies find that the spiraling imbalance between rich and poor may only worsen the democratic political process we so much value as Americans.

As Ari Berman at The Nation notes,

“Electoral politics and the 2012 presidential election have become almost exclusively defined by the 1 percent. Or, to be more precise, the .000063 percent. Those are the 196 individual donors who have provided nearly 80 percent of the money raised by Super PACs in 2011 by giving $100,000 or more each.”

The OECD Better Life Index states that that high voter turnout is a measure of public trust in government and of a citizen’s participation in politics and that high voter turnout also promotes democracy and legitimacy of a government. Their research finds that:

“How well-off you are also affects how likely you are to vote. Voter turnout generally increases with individual income and on average there is a 7% difference between the top 20% of the population and the bottom 20%. This gap reaches 32% in Korea and 28% in the United States.”

In response to the OECD reports, Bryce Covert at The Nation comments:

“Those whose income is in the top 20 percent experience a near 100 percent turnout rate, making full use of their right to vote. But the rate for those in the bottom group is less than three-quarters. That makes for a whopping 28 percent gap between the two on Election Day, which again seems only to be beaten by South Korea.”

As wealth influences politics to favor the rich, and the rich can now purchase the American vote with post-Citizen’s United SuperPACs, together with the defunding of education and other public services ~ we should expect to see a further weakening of the democratic political process.

June 2, 2012

Income Inequality is Visible from Space

This is a picture of a poorer neighborhood in Houston called Fourth Ward. Now compare that image to the photo below of a more wealthy neighborhood in Houston, River Oaks. Do you notice a difference?

That is right! Income inequality is visible from space largely due to the difference in amount of green and trees. It turns out that trees are a type of luxury item – reserved for wealthier cities and neighborhoods.

Tim De Chant at The Per Square Mile blog recently wrote about research studies conducted all over the world looking at the correlation between per capita wealth and number of trees, and then found examples of such differences using Google Earth.

Tim De Chant wrote:

Research published a few years ago shows a tight relationship between per capita income and forest cover.

…They found that for every 1 percent increase in per capita income, demand for forest cover increased by 1.76 percent. But when income dropped by the same amount, demand decreased by 1.26 percent. That’s a pretty tight correlation. The researchers reason that wealthier cities can afford more trees, both on private and public property. The well-to-do can afford larger lots, which in turn can support more trees. On the public side, cities with larger tax bases can afford to plant and maintain more trees.

And think about further implications of these findings. The number of trees and amount of vegetation surely affects air quality (and thus may affect lung function and asthma), amount of shade in the summer, individual happiness, stress and quality of life and maybe even crime.

See more Google Earth photos.

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