Tag Archives: Economic inequality

Workers share fast food items you should never eat

by Desair Brown, USA TODAY

Posted on March 11, 2014 at 6:48 AM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 11 at 6:48 AM



Fast-food workers are fessing up on the menu items you should probably avoid.

Several days ago, Reddit posed this question on its site: “Fast food workers of Reddit, what should we NOT order at your restaurant? Why not?” And the responses keep coming.

Here are a few items that, according to Redditors, you should never order at their fast-food restaurants.

1. McDonald’s chicken nuggets and any McCafe drink. You can ask for fresh nuggets, but avoid the fancy beverages. Apparently, the machines are hard to clean.

2. Subway egg and tuna salad sandwiches. The salads come from a bag and are heavily mixed with mayonnaise. The cold cuts are kept in a smelly syrup.

3. Pizza Hut pizza. Chances are the dough is old, oily and handled without gloves.

4. KFC’s BBQ sandwich. The chicken is too old to even give away. It’s soaked in barbecue sauce until it can be pulled apart.

5. Wendy’s chili. The beef comes from old, dried-up meat on the grill that’s re-heated.

Watch the video for more fast-food items workers say you shouldn’t order.

Follow @desairbrown on Twitter

Ferguson Decision in Context


The Disturbing Facts Surrounding The Case And Where We Go From Here

By now the world knows about the grand jury decision announced last night to not indict Officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, on August 9. What you may not know, however, is the context surrounding the case: how remarkably rare it is for a grand jury not to indict, but how remarkably common it is for tragedies like this one to occur; a prosecutor asked to step down before presenting the case, and then slammed by experts afterward for how he handled it. These circumstances have amounted to a situation that has left many people, paradoxically, shocked yet unsurprised at how it unfolded, and searching for accountability and answers about how to prevent more tragedies like this in the future.

A decision by the grand jury not to indict is very rare. According to statistics from the Justice Department, grand juries declined to return and indictment in just 11 of 162,000 federal cases prosecuted by U.S. attorneys in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. While Wilson’s case was heard in state court, not federal, legal experts agree that it is extremely rare for prosecutors at any level to fail to win an indictment.

The prosecutor’s tactics made a charge much less likely. According to legal experts, county prosecutor Robert McCollough approached the case in a way that could have made an indictment less likely. He decided to let the grand jury hear “every scrap of evidence,” as he put it. Typically, prosecutors present to the grand jury only the evidence necessary to establish probable cause – a grand jury does not determine guilt or innocence but only if a reasonable jury could find the defendant guilty. Watch this video to learn more.

The prosecutor faced widespread criticism leading up to the decision, and after it. As the case began, civil rights groups called for McCollough to step down, citing his previous support for police officers in another police misconduct case, and a family history that includes many family members on the police force including his father, who was killed by a black man with a gun. After the decision last night, many decried McCoullough’s choice to make the announcement late at night, his long-winded explanation pointing fingers at the media, and his defiant tone that reinforced prior frustration with how he handled the case.

In the wake of the decision, community activists are taking the long view. ThinkProgress reporter Carimah Townes reports from Ferguson: “The death of Michael Brown was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, adding to a longer list of grievances in the community, such as income inequality and the need for a $15 minimum wage. And activist groups, professional associations, and individuals in and around the city are already looking — and planning — beyond the verdict, in the hopes of seeking justice for individuals who die at the hands of police.”

Lives cut short by police violence happen all too often. A 22-year-old carrying a sword his mother said was a toy. A 12-year-old gunned down by police while carrying a toy gun at a playground. Another 22-year-old who had just picked up a BB gun stocked on the shelf of a WalMart. A young man walking down a darkened stairwell in an apartment complex after he and his girlfriend got tired of waiting for the elevator. These are just a few of the numerous examples of lives cut short by police since Michael Brown was killed in August.

BOTTOM LINE: The context surrounding the decision not to indict Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown only increases the immensely troubling and tragic nature of the incident. While we respect the work and the decision of the grand jury, days like yesterday are a clear reminder about how much work we still have left to do to ensure that treatment by the criminal justice system is not determined by one’s race, and that the opportunity to prosper is not based on one’s ZIP code.

Chart of the Week: SHOP Marketplac​e Premiums Flat in 2015

whitehousebannerChart of the Week: SHOP Marketplace Premiums Flat in 2015

On November 15, the Health Insurance Marketplace opened for the 2015 enrollment season on HealthCare.gov. But November 15 also marked the beginning of online shopping through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).

Historically, small businesses have paid as much as 18 percent more than their larger competitors for the same coverage. However, SHOP now tackles these problems by creating a competitive marketplace where small businesses can shop for coverage that meets their needs via a convenient online application.

Find out more about the Chart of the Week and SHOP here.

Find out more about the Chart of the Week.



Weekly Address: Immigration Accountability Executive Action

In this week’s address, the President laid out the steps he took this past week to fix our broken immigration system. Enacted within his legal authority, the President’s plan focuses on cracking down on illegal immigration at the border; deporting felons, not families; and accountability through criminal background checks and taxes. These are commonsense steps, but only Congress can finish the job.


The Faces of Health Care: Amy W.

Amy and her husband are self-employed, operating a semi-truck out of Augusta, GA. As self-employed Americans, they had to purchase health insurance on their own. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, they were able to keep a significant amount of their business profits in their pocket by purchasing an affordable, quality plan on the Health Insurance Marketplace.


What You Need To Know: The President’s Actions on Immigration

Here’s what you need to know about President Obama’s new steps to fix our broken immigration system.


Get Over It


Republicans Are Mad That Other Republicans Are Debunking Benghazi

The right-wing Benghazi conspiracy has been thoroughly debunked numerous times, but now it is back in the news because Republicans are the ones that are debunking it.

Six different investigations in the past two years have found that, while the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were tragic and reprehensible, there was no evidence for any kind of cover-up by President Obama and his administration. There was also no evidence that the Obama administration stopped attempted rescues from the diplomatic compound or that it intentionally misinformed Congress or the American people. Despite the myriad conspiracy theories, these notions have been disproven time and time again.

Well, none of that changed with the release of the House Intelligence Committee’s latest report, the seventh of the genre, on what happened that night in Benghazi. According to the Associated Press, this Republican-led, bipartisan committee reported the following:

Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.

While an investigation into the deaths at Benghazi was appropriate, conservative media, irresponsible right-wing politicians and pundits, and their enablers in Congress refuse to accept that these investigations have already concluded that there’s no controversy behind the tragic attack. Republicans have used this as a distraction for 2016 instead of treating the violence with the seriousness it has deserved.

Some Republicans are asking the GOP to move on from trying to prove something that does not exist. However, that has not stopped leading Benghazi conspiracy theorist Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., from calling the report inaccurate, “full of crap” and “a complete bunch of garbage.” Nor has this report stopped Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. from continuing his $3.3 million investigation into Benghazi, with House Republicans choosing to spend more on an eighth investigation than on the committees for Ethics, Veterans’ Affairs, the budget, or science.

BOTTOM LINE: The latest Benghazi investigation – this one led by House Republicans – found more of the same, namely that there was no conspiracy. But amazingly, that hasn’t stopped some GOPers from continuing to push this non-story. And conservatives wonder why the Obama administration continues its work on moving the country forward through executive action with such unreasonable and hostile opposition in Congress?

Inequality hurts everyone NOT some …

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An Important New Report Argues Inequality Is Hurting U.S. Economic Growth, And It Isn’t The First

There are two refrains that we often repeat when describing our philosophy for economic growth: we need an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few; and we need an economy that grows from the middle-out, not the top down. At the heart of both of those beliefs is the demand that our leaders address the growing economic inequality in this country that leaves the richest with an ever-growing share of our nation’s wealth, while squeezing the vast middle class. This inequality doesn’t actually hurt some while helping others — it weakens our overall economy and as a result hurts everyone.

A new report issued by economists at Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services agrees with these dire impacts of inequality. The report, entitled “How Increasing Inequality is Dampening U.S. Economic Growth, and Possible Ways to Change the Tide,” concludes that the widening gap between the wealthiest and everyone else is a key reason why our economic recovery is the weakest in the last 50 years. Pushing back against the oft-repeated and dead-wrong trickle-down argument on the right that a rising tide lifts all boats, S&P responds, “A lifeboat carrying a few, surrounded by many treading water, risks capsizing.”

This report is important because it comes from the business forecasting community, focused not on advancing new academic theories but on predicting for clients how the economy is working. It is far from the only voice, however, making the argument that income inequality is hurting economic growth. Here are a few other recent examples:

  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF): In a report issued this February, IMF economists make the argument that continuing to ignore income inequality will harm economic growth. “Lower net inequality is robustly correlated with faster and more durable growth,” they write. It is “a mistake to focus on growth and let inequality take care of itself.”
  • Billionaire Entrepreneur Nick Hanauer: Hanauer, who was the first nonfamily investor in Amazon.com, wrote the most popular article in Politico Magazine history, called “The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats.” In the piece, he points out inequality doesn’t just hurt the economy, it creates political instability as well: “There is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out,” writes Hanauer. “You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None.”
  • Nobel-Prize Winning Economist Joseph Stiglitz: Stiglitz wrote a whole book on this topic, aptly named “The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future.” One of several reasons he gives for why increasing inequality hurts growth is that it reduces people’s trust in the system. “People are not machines,” Stiglitz writes. “If they feel that they are being treated unfairly, it can be difficult to motivate them.”
  • Economist and Best-Selling Author Thomas Piketty: In his 2014 best-seller Capital in the 21st Century, Piketty explains that wealth concentrating in the hands of a few at the top is not an accident in capitalism, but a feature. Governments need to intervene in order to prevent that concentration from weakening the economy and causing political instability.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank. Sarah Bloom Raskin, who resigned from the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in March to become Deputy Treasury Secretary, believes inequality was the cause of the crisis and the source of the slow recovery: “because of how hard these lower- and middle-income households were hit, the recession was worse and the recovery has been weaker.”

BOTTOM LINE: The new S&P report that argues income inequality is hurting U.S. economic growth is an important reminder that we need economic policies that make sure everyone pays their fair share to help the economy grow from the middle-out. And it’s far from the only source to make that case: A stronger middle class means more workers, more consumers, and a better economic climate for everyone.