86 days remain until the midterm elections
If you haven’t yet picked a candidate or ballot issue to campaign for, time’s a’wasting
• Remember all that talk about how “full employment” would boost wages. Well, it’s not: Unemployment is at an 18-year low. Numerous indicators show a “booming” or “roaring” economy. The run of economic expansion is just 10 months away from beating the all-time record. Corporate profits are soaring. But on Friday the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in the past 12 months “real” average hourly wages—that is, wages adjusted for inflation—fell 0.4 percent. And even though the average workweek increased over that year, real average weekly earnings were down by 0.1 percent for the same period despite the extra time spent on the job. The Economic Policy Institute analyzed the numbers over the past 44 years and found that net productivity had risen 77 percent, but hourly pay adjusted for inflation had increased just 12.4 percent. The vast bulk of financial benefits from that extra productivity has gone to top corporate executives and corporate profits.
• Court puts the kibosh on FCC vote to eliminate broadband benefits to Native tribes: The FCC’s 3-2 move in November would make changes in a two-decade-old subsidy program on American Indian reservations. It would, critics say, cause a major telecommunications loss in tribal areas. The three-judge panel put a stay on the FCC move, noting that the tribes are likely to win the lawsuit they have filed against the agency. In a statement, Gene DeJordy, an attorney for the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, said: “Residents of Tribal lands, like many low-income consumers, rely on Lifeline service from wireless resellers, who are the primary, and sometimes only, providers of Lifeline service. The victory today is for the people—tribal members who cannot afford many of the basic necessities of life and rely on Lifeline service for their telephone and broadband needs.”
• Nothing quite speaks to the fierce urgency of now as climate change: And without immediate decisions and immediate actions, doomsday in the form of “Hothouse Earth” could become reality. This week, a team of researchers released a terrifying study that Eric Holthaus at Grist labeled a blueprint for catastrophe. The team concludec that humankind is currently on a path toward a “hellish equilibrium” that hasn’t been seen since millions of years before homo sapiens began spreading from Africa across the rest of the planet. They state: “Humanity is now facing the need for critical decisions and actions that could influence our future for centuries, if not millennia.” Too much of the media reported the study as presenting an inevitable dystopian destiny. That’s not what the team said. Diana Liverman, a climate scientist and co-author of the paper tweeted: “Clearly people aren’t reading the paper we wrote where our point is exactly that Hothouse Earth is not our destiny and that social system feedbacks are starting to move us to the Stable Earth. But media goes for worst case and makes it sound certain.” This kind of media coverage can generate despair or it can generate action. It’s up to us to decide which it will be and what people can do if their leaders continue to avoid making those crucial decisions and delay taking action.
• Security tight this weekend in Charlottesville, Va., on anniversary of murder by white supremacists: Hundreds of police officers are on duty, with many streets blocked off by concrete barriers and metal fences. Police are searching bags at two checkpoints where people enter and leave the downtown shopping area. A probe into last year’s violence by Unite the Right, including the killing of a counter-protester, concluded that it was abetted by poor preparation and a passive response by law enforcement as well as inadequate coordination between local and state police. While some business owners are glad to see the heavy police presence, not everybody in Charlottesville views matter that way. Lisa Woolfork, a University of Virginia professor and Black Lives Matter Charlottesville organizer, told the Associated Press that the police have adopted a “huge, overwhelming show of force to compensate for last year’s inaction. Last year, I was afraid of the Nazis. This year, I’m afraid of the police. This is not making anyone that I know feel safe.”
• Meanwhile, Unite the Right 2 will bring together white supremacists in D.C. Sunday: Counter-protesting activists are preparing to greet an estimated 100-400 rightists, just as they have greeted Klansmen in the past. At the link is a short list of counter-protests happening this weekend in D.C.