Saturday, December 23, 2017

Saturday Afternoon Links

Assorted content for your weekend reading.

- Joan Hennessy writes that instead of limiting ourselves to holiday-season charity, we should insist on fair wages and dignity for our fellow citizens throughout the year:
ll the while, the economy has been on the mend and corporate earnings have risen, but the federal minimum wage remains $7.25 per hour, the level set in 2009. While the rate is higher in 29 states and the District of Columbia, it hovers below the $15 per hour that families need to put food on the table and pay the bills, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) living wage calculator.

This year, there were more ornaments on the giving tree in our parish lobby. The one we chose requested a gift for a girl, 10 to 12 years old. No word about whether this child is still at the Everything-Must-Be-Pink developmental stage or wishes to wear makeup. One thing is certain: if her parents made a living wage, she could have what she wanted for Christmas, as opposed to the crafts kit I grabbed off the shelf.

I enjoy giving. I enjoy Christmas. But no one likes being a chump, the little churchgoer who donates food and gifts, while the rich become richer and corporations fail to raise wages. It would be better for everyone, and for the economy, if that expectant mom we helped a few years back could stride into a big-box store and pick out her own stroller – in her favorite color, exactly what she had in mind.
- Phillip Inman reports on a new study of the systematic underpayment of temporary employees. Liz Alderman and Amie Tsang note that commercial piloting is just one of the many jobs being turned into a precarious "gig" rather than stable employment - though Stefan Stern offers an update that Ryanair has been forced to recognize pilots' unions to create a more workable environment. And Anelyse Weiler, Janet McLaughlin and Donald Cole write that a food strategy should include a fair shake for migrant workers.

- Meanwhile, Meagan Gillmore highlights the challenges facing people trying to find work with a criminal record.

- George Monbiot discusses the rapidly-accumulating damage we're doing to the natural world by closing our eyes to the environmental consequences of human activity.

- Finally, Lorraine Chow notes that a fully-renewable global energy system stands to be both feasible and cost-effective in the very near future. And Don Pittis points out the role that improved battery technology will play in getting the most out of renewable power sources.

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