Instead of Building Walls, Build an Economy That Works for All

The Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it will take up a case that challenges President Barack Obama’s executive actions that deferred the deportation of 5 million undocumented immigrants.

News coverage of this development naturally was dominated by the two words that are sure to make any news story go viral: “procedural battle.”

Okay, perhaps such a phrase doesn’t rise to the level of virality as the groundbreaking revelation that Kim Kardashian washes her hair twice a week. But that’s exactly what’s wrong with this system — with so much at stake for so many families, it is a shame that people aren’t paying more attention.

While it can be easy to get lost in the alphabet soup of “SCOTUS,” “DACA” and “DAPA,” debates over the technical merits of the President’s executive actions should not detract from what’s truly at stake here — that families are being separated by outdated, arcane and draconian immigration laws.

So far during this presidential campaign, the immigration debate has been front and center. And, with the Supreme Court taking on this case, we’ll be assured that it will continue.

The anti-immigrant message focuses again on fear – fear that there aren’t enough jobs or enough money to go around, and it resonates, not because it is true, but because we know the majority of people in this country are struggling. They call it the 99% movement because, unless you’re among the filthy rich 1%, you are probably struggling.

The Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series research by the Alliance for a Just Society shows people quite simply aren’t making ends meet. And so, by cranking up the fear of scarcity, people are more likely to perceive others as a threat to their own economic security. When people are drowning in debt and can’t find a decent-paying job, they see immigrants as competition in an already-tight workforce.

The reality is that immigration strengthens our workforce.

“This case is profoundly impactful not just for the Latino community, but for the entire nation,” said Janet Murguía, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza. “The expansion of DACA and the creation of DAPA could potentially help more than 4.4 million eligible immigrants, create nearly 30,000 new jobs and grow our GDP by $230 billion by 2025.”

And so the conversation we really need to be having is not about how to keep immigrants out of the country, but how we can shape our economy so that it works for everyone. The answer to the scarcity mentality is not to build walls, but to build the economy and equitably share our resources.

We do that by increasing an embarrassingly low minimum wage, making higher education affordable and accessible, providing health care to everyone who needs it, and stop giving tax breaks to large corporations that drain local economies of good-paying jobs and replaces them with bad jobs.

But tearing apart families, living in the politics of hate, and rejecting those yearning to breathe free is not our way.

Price-Gouging AIDS & Cancer Patients? By-Product of a Broken System

Martin Shkreli wants you to swallow his bitter pill — and to thank him for making you pay $750 for it.

For 62 years, the drug Daraprim has been the standard method to treat parasitic infections that are particularly life-threatening to AIDS and cancer patients. It was relatively affordable — though low-income patients might take issue with calling an $18 pill “affordable” — and highly effective in treating these infections.

Then last month, Shkreli and his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, came along and acquired rights to the drug. Their contribution to better the lives of these patients?

Jacking up the price 4,000 percent. Read more

Questions Fly Over $400 Million Donation. But They’re the Wrong Questions

Last week, author Malcolm Gladwell stirred up the 1% hornet’s nest by sarcastically calling out a hedge fund manager, John Paulson, for his $400 million donation to Harvard University. The billionaire’s donation to the richest university in the world will benefit the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Upon hearing the news, Gladwell, the New Yorker writer and “Tipping Point” author, took to the Twittersphere to unload a deluge of missives aimed at poking fun at the hornet’s nest. Read more

Clean Fuels Standard Strengthens Local Economies

Alliance Senior Policy Associate: "By sending billions out of state, we doom our economy to be more susceptible to falling apart at the seams when Wall Street has an off day"

Ben Henry, Alliance Senior Policy Associate: “By sending billions out of state, we doom our economy to be more susceptible to falling apart at the seams when Wall Street has an off day.”

Last night I teamed up with Washington Community Action Network Political Director Mauricio Ayon to testify at a Washington Department of Ecology hearing on the proposed Clean Fuels Standard, which would establish a requirement that oil refineries and distributors cut carbon pollution from gasoline and diesel by 10 percent over 10 years.

Needless to say, there are big economic benefits in adopting these standards, which incentivizes the development of a variety of clean fuels and technology solutions, like advanced biofuels, electricity, natural gas and propane. Read more

The Road to Prosperity

Road to Prosperity coverGiving Idaho Immigrants the Chance to Apply for a Driver’s License Cultivates a Future of Shared Opportunity and Success to the Benefit of All Idahoans

Read: The Road to Prosperity

This report was produced by Julie Chinitz, Ben Henry, Fernando Mejia and Sheley Secrest of the Alliance for a Just Society, and Krista Bustamante, Ana Martinez and Ruby Mendez of Idaho Community Action Network.

http://allianceforajustsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/2015.02_The.Road_.to_.Prosperity-report-Idaho.pdf

Low-Wage Job Growth a Major Factor in Income Inequality. Patience is Not the Answer.

In response to the New York Times’ Jan. 27 Upshot piece, “Gains From Economic Recovery Still Limited to Top One Percent,” we appreciate the effort to report on the historic, staggering and blatant income inequality that has taken hold of America. This piece made some excellent points around the continuing inequality crisis. However, we have an answer to the question about the recent employment growth that has occurred in middle-class occupations:

“The puzzle is why robust employment growth over recent years — much of it concentrated in middle-class occupations — has not translated into larger income gains for the broader population. Perhaps we need to be patient, and the recent pickup in employment is yielding more broadly shared growth that will become evident when the data for 2014 are released.”

Yes, the unemployment rate is down from its Great Recession peaks. But it is still significantly higher than pre-recession levels. And, importantly, that job growth we hear so much about is primarily coming in low-wage occupations. Read more

Testimony: A Living Wage Is about Family Prosperity

Yesterday I got the chance to testify to the Washington state House Labor and Workforce Development Committee.

Our living wage research findings set a standard, that mere survival is not an adequate measure of a healthy society, and not an expectation we should be striving to set. It’s about a living wage that positions families to build for the future and realize their dreams. Read more