Friday, September 16, 2011

A Jobs Crisis We Can Solve

By Sarah van Gelder

President Obama is proposing important steps toward doing what Americans have been asking for since the financial collapse of 2008—putting a focus on families and jobs.

To create real prosperity, though, Washington will have to deal with three main drivers of our economic malaise: massive inequality such that the super wealthy and big corporations are sitting on piles of cash while ordinary Americans’ can barely get by; enormous ongoing expenditures for wars; and assaults on our natural systems, including our climate, such that costs of everything from insurance to food is rising while our security is threatened.

Without families buying things, the economy can’t revive and create jobs. That’s why our solutions need to focus on ways to support small businesses, which create the bulk of the jobs and keep money flowing locally instead of flowing to distant corporate headquarters.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The So-Called Personhood Amendment

By Rims Barber

The law of unintended consequences should temper our resolve when tinkering with laws impacting people’s lives. The consequences of adopting Initiative 26 -- the proposed Personhood Amendment to the Mississippi Constitution -- are far-reaching and potentially devastating to women’s health.

In the 33 years since the first in vitro baby was born, hundreds of Mississippi couples were able to have the baby of their dreams through in vitro fertilization (IVF). Since more than one egg is harvested and fertilized to achieve a successful IVF pregnancy, making all the embryos “people” under Mississippi law will make it difficult if not impossible to continue offering IVF treatment in our state.

When embryos are created and frozen as a part of reproductive fertility treatments, these embryos will be legally persons if this initiative passes, and consequently will have all the rights due persons. The problems resulting from this change would be many.

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Minimum-Wage Earners Falling Further Behind

By Christine Owens

Two years ago this week, 4.5 million of America’s workers enjoyed a modest pay increase, as the federal minimum wage rose from $6.55 to $7.25 an hour. The increase was the final of a three-step boost enacted in 2007. Of those getting a bump in pay, more than three-quarters were adults, nearly two-thirds were women, and nearly half a million were single parents with children under 18.

Yet during the past two years, these working families have seen the real value of their wages fall. Minimum-wage earners working full-time make roughly $15,000 a year. Had the minimum wage rate kept up with inflation, their paychecks would have increased by $800 this year. Instead, our nation’s lowest-paid workers have had an even harder time providing basic needs for their families. This is one more reason that Main Street is having a tough time recovering from the economic calamity brought on by financial collapse.

CEO compensation grew 23 percent in 2010, while pay for the average American worker grew only half a percent. Minimum wage workers have fared even worse: Since the 2009 increase, the real value of the minimum wage has fallen 5 percent.

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By Billy Parish

Families across the middle swath of our country -- from North Dakota to Louisiana -- have a disturbing question to ask themselves: “Do we want a leaky pipeline pumping 800,000 barrels of oil a day running through our community?”

The proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would transport tar sands -- a mixture of sand, clay, water and a dense tar-like form of petroleum, from the Boreal forests of Alberta to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico region -- is a 1,700-mile time bomb that either will be activated or defused in the coming days.

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Veto of Billboard Bill Should Stand

By John Regenbogen

In the final hours of the regular legislative session this past spring, the Missouri General Assembly added highly controversial, pro-billboard language to an otherwise uncontroversial transportation bill. The bill passed on the last day of session but fortunately was vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon because the bill substantially weakens the ability of local communities to restrict billboards.

The governor’s veto is not the last word, however, as the General Assembly begins a veto session September 14 and leaders appear intent to try to override the veto by garnering votes of two-thirds of the legislature. Ironically, while all indications are that the General Assembly appears poised to finally act on a matter of basic fairness and return control of the St. Louis police department from the state to the city, it may seek to take away the right of local citizens – through their locally elected officials -- to regulate billboards according to community standards.

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