Friday, July 31, 2015

Gonzo Truth

Has Perry Dropped Far Enough To Be Out Of GOP Debate ?

(This image of GOP candidates wanting in the debate is by DonkeyHotey.)

We're only about a week away from the first GOP presidential candidate debate -- and nobody knows who will be included in the debate, and who will be excluded. Fox News is hosting the debate, and they have said they will only allow 10 candidates to debate (although they now say they will have another shorter show for those who are left out).

I doubt that is any consolation for those who are not allowed to be one of the 10 debaters. Inclusion in the other show will almost surely label a candidate as an "also ran" -- someone who has no chance of being the nominee, and you can be sure the Republican voters will be paying attention to that (and many of them won't be wanting to waste their vote on an "also ran").

Fox has said the 10 will be chosen from the 10 candidates who average the most support in the last five "important" polls before the debate. Of course, nobody knows what polls Fox News considers to be important, and there is rumor that even Fox News is arguing about that among themselves.

There seems to be eight candidates that pretty much have a lock on a position in the debate -- Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, and Ben Carson. It is also likely that Chris Christie will be included. That leaves one position available.

That position will either go to John Kasich or Rick Perry. A couple of weeks ago, it looked like it would be Rick Perry, but Kasich has done well in the last couple of polls and may have moved ahead of Perry. It all depends on which polls Fox News chooses to use.

The chart below is by NBC News, and it shows the average of the last five national polls -- Quinnipiac, CNN/ORC, ABC/WP, Fox News, and USA Today/Suffolk). If these are the polls used by Fox, then Kasich will edge out Perry and get the nod.

That wouldn't surprise me. It would be a bit embarrassing to leave Kasich out of the debate in his home state, where he is still governor. Also, Ohio is a swing state that the Republicans need to win to have a chance at winning the White House, so Fox is likely to keep Ohio voters happy by including Kasich in the debate. Texas, on the other hand, is likely to vote Republican whether Perry is included or not.

Santorum, Fiorina, Jindal, Graham, Pataki, and Gilmore are almost sure to be excluded from the debate.

Deficit Disorder

Political Cartoon is by Mike Thompson in the Detroit Free Press.

Clinton Still Has A Large Lead In New National Survey

This chart shows the results of the new Quinnipiac University Poll. Between July 23rd and 28th, they queried 681 Democrats about their presidential preference, and the survey has a margin of error of 3.8 points.

The survey mirrors other recent polls. It shows Lincoln Chafee, Martin O'Malley, and Jim Webb struggling to show any support at all -- while Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders registering a modicum of support, but remaining far behind Hillary Clinton.

Clinton has a 38 point lead over Sanders among all Democrats -- a 31 point lead among men, and a 43 point lead among women. Clinton's lead is smaller among party liberals, but she still has a healthy 15 point lead. That lead among women should be especially troubling for Sanders, since women vote in significantly larger numbers than men do.

GOP Religious Hypocrisy

Political Cartoon is by Matt Wuerker at

Three New National Polls All Have Trump Leading GOP

Three new national polls on the GOP presidential nomination have been released. They all agree on one thing -- Donald Trump has the current lead among all the candidates.

The Rasmussen Poll (top chart) was done on July 26th and 27th of 471 likely Republican voters, and has a margin of error of 5 points.

The Quinnipiac University Poll (middle chart) was done between July 23rd and 28th of 710 Republicans, and has a margin of error of 3.7 points.

The Reuters Poll is a daily poll, and what is shown is the average of the last 5 days.

GOP Leader

Political Cartoon is by Lalo Alcaraz.

Research Shows Marijuana Is The Least Dangerous Drug

I probably sound like a broken record talking about marijuana not being a dangerous drug. So today, I give you the words of Christopher Ingraham in The Washington Post. He says:

Compared with other recreational drugs — including alcohol — marijuana may be even safer than previously thought. And researchers may be systematically underestimating risks associated with alcohol use.

Those are the top-line findings of recent research published in the journal Scientific Reports, a subsidiary of Nature. Researchers sought to quantify the risk of death associated with the use of a variety of commonly used substances. They found that at the level of individual use, alcohol was the deadliest substance, followed by heroin and cocaine.

And all the way at the bottom of the list? Weed — roughly 114 times less deadly than booze, according to the authors, who ran calculations that compared lethal doses of a given substance with the amount that a typical person uses. Marijuana is also the only drug studied that posed a low mortality risk to its users.

These findings reinforce drug-safety rankings developed 10 years ago under a slightly different methodology. So in that respect, the study is more of a reaffirmation of previous findings than anything else. But given the current national and international debates over the legal status of marijuana and the risks associated with its use, the study arrives at a good time. . .

What is unique is how these substances are treated under the law, and particularly the way in which alcohol and nicotine essentially get a free pass under the Controlled Substances Act, the cornerstone of the nation's drug policy. This study's authors note that legislative classifications of psychoactive drugs often "lack a scientific basis," and their findings are confirmation of this fact.

Given the relative risks associated with marijuana and alcohol, the authors recommend "risk management prioritization towards alcohol and tobacco rather than illicit drugs." And they say that when it comes to marijuana, the low amounts of risk associated with the drug "suggest a strict legal regulatory approach rather than the current prohibition approach."

In other words, individuals and organizations up in arms over marijuana legalization could have a greater effect on the health and well-being of this country by shifting their attention to alcohol and cigarettes. It takes extraordinary chutzpah to rail against the dangers of marijuana use by day and then go home to unwind with a glass of far more lethal stuff in the evening.

Bush "Advisors"

Political Cartoon is by Jack Ohman in the Sacramento Bee.

Unions Are Necessary

Thursday, July 30, 2015

We Have A Mass Shooting Nearly Every Day In U.S.

 (Image is from Taegan Goddard's Wonk Wire.)

Philip Bump: “The ShootingTracker data catalogs news reports of incidents in which four or more people were shot. That’s happened 207 times in 2015, as of Monday afternoon. (An important qualification, since the figure changes frequently.) In these incidents, 267 people have been killed and 761 wounded. About 400 of those in the latter category were hit by bullets at incidents where no one was killed.”

Body Cameras Work - All Departments Should Use Them

This photo is of University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing (from NBC News). A few days ago, he stopped a Black man in Cincinnati for not having a front license plate on his car (a misdemeanor that warranted only a minor traffic ticket). He wound up shooting the driver (who was unarmed) in the head, and killing him.

The officer, in his report, claimed the unarmed man had assaulted him and then drove off, dragging the officer down the street. And that story seemed to be backed up by a fellow officer, who claimed Tensing's uniform looked like he had been dragged down the street.

We now know that those officers' reports were just some poorly written works of fiction -- and had nothing to do with the real facts of the case. How do we know this? Because the officer was wearing a body camera.

That body camera recorded the entire police stop, and it showed the officers were lying in their police reports. The driver was unarmed, was not confrontational or aggressive, did not assault the officer, and did not drag the officer down the street. In fact, the driver was dead (from a shot in the head) before the car ever started moving. Those facts are now undeniable, and because of that, Tensing has been indicted for murder by a Grand Jury.

Like it or not, this incident is not a rare occurrence. Far too many unarmed Black men are being killed by the police in this country. And most of them, justifiably or not, get away with it -- because most Americans, especially White Americans, put police on a pedestal -- and believe anything they say. And that is probably what would have happened in this case -- if it had not been for the body camera recording the truth of what happened.

There has been a debate recently over whether police should wear body cameras. I think this one incident should settle that debate. Body cameras work. They tell us the truth about what happened -- and every officer in every department should be required to wear one.

I do not speak as a hater of law enforcement officials. I worked in law enforcement myself for more than 25 years. Most of the people I worked with were honest, ethical, and did a very good job. But there are bad apples in every barrel, and body cameras can show us who they are -- hopefully before they kill someone.Good officers need to have no fear of wearing a body camera. It will just show what a good job they are doing. It's only the bad officers, who abuse the power they have been entrusted with, who will be affected by wearing a body camera.

I have had some people tell me that body cameras won't work, because bad officers will just turn them off before misbehaving. That can be dealt with. Simply fire any officer who turns off his body camera -- and personally, I wouldn't be opposed to making it a crime to do that (misdemeanor).

And while we're at it, one other change needs to be made nationwide. All police shootings should be investigated by an independent panel (that is not a part of the police department and does not answer to the department). No profession, or organization, should be allowed to investigate themselves -- and that includes law enforcement agencies.

Anyone who believes that most police officers are honest and do a good job, as I do, should not oppose either of these two things. They are just common sense measures -- and they will restore the respect and support all Americans need to have in their police.

American ISIS

Political Cartoon is by Bob Englehart in the Hartford Courant.

Trump And Clinton Are Still Leading In National Polls

A few days ago, I showed you who Republicans and Democrats thought would win their party's nomination -- according to a CNN / ORC Poll. Now the rest of that poll has been released by CNN. This shows who the national party members actually support right now. That is reflected in the charts above.

The survey verifies what other polls have been showing -- that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are still leading in their respective parties. Trump leads Bush by 4 points and Walker by 9 points. Meanwhile, Clinton still has a huge 39 point lead over Sanders.

NOTE -- The poll surveyed 460 Republicans, with a margin of error of 4.5 points -- and 447 Democrats for a margin of error of 4.5 points.


Another national poll was also released this week regarding the Republican race for the nomination. It is the Morning Consult Poll -- done between July 23rd and 27th of a random national sample of 750 Republicans, with a margin of error of 3.57 points.

This survey has an even bigger lead for Donald Trump -- 11 points over Bush and 15 points over Walker.

Taking His Shot

Political Cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Jewish-Americans Think Iran Deal Should Be Approved

When the Iran Deal was announced, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu angrily declared that President Obama had just assured that Iran would get a nuclear weapon. And Republicans ("friends" of Israel supposedly) have been quick to join Netanyahu in denigrating the deal. One Republican, Mike Huckabee, even went so far as to say in agreeing to the deal the president had sent Jews to "the doors of the oven" (invoking an image of the WWII holocaust).

So, what do Jewish-Americans think about the Iran deal? Do they agree with Netanyahu, Huckabee, and other right-wingers? The Jewish Journal decided to find out. They surveyed 484 Jewish households about the Iran deal, and whether Congress should approve or oppose the deal. And what they found might surprise some people.

It turns out that 48% approve of the Iran deal, while only 28% oppose it (and the remaining 24% say they don't know enough about it to have an opinion). And a majority are willing to give the deal a chance to work. As the chart above shows, 53% say Congress should approve the deal -- and only 35% say Congress should oppose it.

We Have A Complex

Political Cartoon is by Matt Wuerker at

GOP Is Wrong - Medicare Works And It's Sustainable

Jeb Bush recently joined many of his Republican colleagues in calling for the abolition of Medicare (and replacing it with a voucher system that would put seniors at the mercy of private insurance companies -- which have no mercy). Supposedly, his excuse for wanting to do this is that Medicare is not sustainable, and will soon be broke.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman (pictured) disagrees. He says Medicare not only works very well for American seniors, but is sustainable. Here is what he had to say in his New York Times column:

Medicare turns 50 this week, and it has been a very good half-century. Before the program went into effect, Ronald Reagan warned that it would destroy American freedom; it didn’t, as far as anyone can tell. What it did do was provide a huge improvement in financial securityfor seniors and their families, and in many cases it has literally been a lifesaver as well.

But the right has never abandoned its dream of killing the program. So it’s really no surprise that Jeb Bush recently declared that while he wants to let those already on Medicare keep their benefits, “We need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others.”

What is somewhat surprising, however, is the argument he chose to use, which might have sounded plausible five years ago, but now looks completely out of touch. In this, as in other spheres, Mr. Bush often seems like a Rip Van Winkle who slept through everything that has happened since he left the governor’s office — after all, he’s still boasting about Florida’s housing-bubble boom.

Actually, before I get to Mr. Bush’s argument, I guess I need to acknowledge that a Bush spokesman claims that the candidate wasn’t actually calling for an end to Medicare, he was just talking about things like raising the age of eligibility. There are two things to say about this claim. First, it’s clearly false: in context, Mr. Bush was obviously talking about converting Medicare into a voucher system, along the lines proposed by Paul Ryan.

And second, while raising the Medicare age has long been a favorite idea of Washington’s Very Serious People, a couple of years ago the Congressional Budget Office did a careful study and discovered that it would hardly save any money. That is, at this point raising the Medicare age is a zombie idea, which should have been killed by analysis and evidence, but is still out there eating some people’s brains.

But then, Mr. Bush’s real argument, as opposed to his campaign’s lame attempt at a rewrite, is just a bigger zombie.

The real reason conservatives want to do away with Medicare has always been political: It’s the very idea of the government providing a universal safety net that they hate, and they hate it even more when such programs are successful. But when they make their case to the public they usually shy away from making their real case, and have even, incredibly, sometimes posed as the program’s defenders against liberals and their death panels.

What Medicare’s would-be killers usually argue, instead, is that the program as we know it is unaffordable — that we must destroy the system in order to save it, that, as Mr. Bush put it, we must “move to a new system that allows [seniors] to have something — because they’re not going to have anything.” And the new system they usually advocate is, as I said, vouchers that can be applied to the purchase of private insurance.

The underlying premise here is that Medicare as we know it is incapable of controlling costs, that only the only way to keep health care affordable going forward is to rely on the magic of privatization.

Now, this was always a dubious claim. It’s true that for most of Medicare’s history its spending has grown faster than the economy as a whole — but this is true of health spending in general. In fact, Medicare costs per beneficiary have consistently grown more slowly than private insurance premiums, suggesting that Medicare is, if anything, better than private insurers at cost control. Furthermore, other wealthy countries with government-provided health insurance spend much less than we do, again suggesting that Medicare-type programs can indeed control costs.

Still, conservatives scoffed at the cost-control measures included in the Affordable Care Act, insisting that nothing short of privatization would work.

And then a funny thing happened: the act’s passage was immediately followed by an unprecedented pause in Medicare cost growth. Indeed, Medicare spending keeps coming in ever further below expectations, to an extent that has revolutionized our views about the sustainability of the program and of government spending as a whole.

Right now is, in other words, a very odd time to be going on about the impossibility of preserving Medicare, a program whose finances will be strained by an aging population but no longer look disastrous. One can only guess that Mr. Bush is unaware of all this, that he’s living inside the conservative information bubble, whose impervious shield blocks all positive news about health reform.

Meanwhile, what the rest of us need to know is that Medicare at 50 still looks very good. It needs to keep working on costs, it will need some additional resources, but it looks eminently sustainable. The only real threat it faces is that of attack by right-wing zombies.

You Won't Hear This From Right-Wingers

Political Cartoon is by Jen Sorensen at

Train Wreck ?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Discuss The Issues

Americans Want A Background Check On All Gun Sales

I don't support Bernie's run for the presidential nomination, but I really don't see how anyone can disagree with this statement of his. Currently, any terrorist, criminal, domestic abuser, or dangerously mentally ill person can legally buy any kind of gun they want (from a handgun to an assault weapon). They can do that because of the huge holes in our background check law.

The sad fact is that for at least 40% of gun sales in this country each year, no background check is required or performed. These exceptions include weapons purchased at gun shows, sales from one individual to another, and sales from the internet. All a terrorist or criminal has to do is avoid licensed gun dealers, and purchase their weapon of choice from one of the exceptions above -- and they can legally get any kind of firearm they want.

Is this really what we want? Do you want terrorists and criminals to be able to legally purchase firearms? Most Americans don't want that. In fact, an overwhelming majority of Americans (83%) don't want that (see chart below). They want the gaping holes in our background check law closed. They know that doing this will not affect the right of honest and law-abiding people to own a gun (or guns). They also know this would not be a violation of the Constitution's Second Amendment (since the Supreme Court has made that very clear).

So, why won't our politicians close the holes in the background check law? I used to think they were afraid of not being re-elected because the NRA would run ads against them. But how could that be true with such a large portion of the voting public supporting closing the holes? I think instead, these politicians are afraid they will lose the big campaign dollars they currently get from the NRA. They are putting their campaign donations above saving the lives of American citizens (and while closing the holes in the law wouldn't completely eradicate gun deaths, it would definitely reduce the number of those deaths).

We need to hold these greedy politicians accountable for thinking campaign donations are more important than saving lives. We need to vote them out of office -- regardless of which political party they are in.

The chart below was made from information in a recent Public Policy Polling survey -- done on July 20th and 21st of a random national sample of 1,087 voters, with a margin of error of 3 points.

Settled Law

Political Cartoon is by Joel Pett in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Clinton Still Leads Among Democrats (Even Liberals)

Bernie Sanders has been drawing large crowds when he speaks, and he has corralled a good portion of the liberal Democrats (also referred to as progressives). Many of those were the people already looking for an alternative to supporting Hillary Clinton. They were begging Elizabeth Warren to run, and when she made it clear that wouldn't happen, they jumped on Bernie's bandwagon.

But as poll after poll has shown, Sanders has yet to significantly cut into Clinton's lead among Democrats -- even among liberal Democrats (Sanders' natural constituency). Why is this? He's a good candidate with a good platform -- and if he was somehow to win the nomination, most Democrats would proudly vote for him (as I would).

I have a theory. Many Democrats (including liberals like me) had already made their minds up before Bernie Sanders jumped into the race for the nomination. They liked the graceful way Clinton admitted defeat in 2008 and supported Obama. They liked the service she gave our country -- both as a senator and as Secretary of State. They liked the liberal agenda she has supported throughout her political career (much more liberal than her husband). And they believed she has earned her shot at being elected to the presidency.

In other words, a lot of Democrats, maybe even most Democrats, had their minds made up to support Hillary Clinton before any Democrat officially entered the race. And it's a whole lot harder to convince someone to change who has made up their mind than it is to convince someone to change who is just "leaning" toward a candidate. I could be wrong, but I think that is what is happening -- and why I think it will be extremely hard for Sanders to win the nomination.

Although I support Hillary Clinton for the nomination (and will continue to do so), I do think Democrats are lucky to have two very good candidates running for their nomination in 2016. And I don't think either one will stoop to personal attacks against the other. I just hope the supporters of both will do the same -- keep the campaign on the issues, vote their conscience, and then support the eventual nominee of the party. Democrats are famous for disagreeing and fighting amongst themselves -- but this election we should do so respectfully, and then come together to keep a Democrat in the White House.

The charts above were made from information contained in a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between July 18th and 20th of a random national sample of 1,000 adults, with about a 4 point margin of error (a margin of error that would be slightly larger among just Democrats).


That same poll also surveyed the entire sample on which political party they preferred (see chart below).  It shows that Democrats will start the next election with a small advantage (36% to 26% among the general public). But neither party has enough support to win on their own. The coming election will be decided by which candidate the Independents choose to vote for. All this chart shows is that Democrats will need less Independent support to win than Republicans will require.

Driving While Black

Political Cartoon is by Tom Toles in The Washington Post.

Favorable & Unfavorable Ratings For Presidential Candidates

These numbers are from a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between July 18th and 20th of a random national sample of 1,000 adults, with a margin of error of about 4 points.

Note that these numbers are not just for Republicans or Democrats. They represent the views of the entire survey sample. The candidate with the highest favorable ratings are Hillary Clinton (45%) and Joe Biden (43%). The candidates with the highest unfavorable ratings are Donald Trump (60%) and Jeb Bush (49%). Those with a low combined favorable and unfavorable rating have a large number of people who say they just don't know enough about them to give a rating.

Fourth Quarter

Political Cartoon is by Stuart Carlson at


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Not #1

Support For The Iran Deal Is Growing In The U.S.

When the deal with Iran was first announced, Republicans hit the roof. They accused the president of giving Iran the bomb, and one (mike Huckabee) has even accused the president of opening the ovens for another Jewish holocaust. The crazy thing is that we really have no choice at this point -- we either accept the deal and give it a try, or we do nothing at all (allowing the sanctions to disappear and Iran to do whatever it wants).

These Republicans would like for Americans to think we could go back to the status quo if we turn the deal down, but that is simply not true. We didn't do this deal alone, but in conjunction with several other countries -- and those countries want to give the deal a chance to work. They would not be willing to go back to the status quo just because the Republicans in Congress don't like it.

The truth is that most of those Republicans came out against the deal even before they knew what was in it. That doesn't really surprise me, because they have opposed everything the president has done since he was sworn in to office. They no longer care what is good for this country (or the world). This is nothing but political theater for them -- an acting out of a fear scenario to please their tebagger base (and assure they can get through a primary with our teabagger opposition).

Fortunately, the people seem to be seeing through their act. Polls taken immediately after the deal was announced showed that most people opposed it, but that is changing. A new survey shows that a majority now support the deal (51%) -- including 64% of Democrats and 55% of Independents. Only the Republican base opposes it.  And by significant margins, more people want their senator to vote for the deal than want them to vote against it -- an 18 point margin among all people, a 14 point margin among Independents, and a 53 point margin among Democrats.

These numbers are from a new YouGov Poll -- done between July 18th and 20th of a random national sample of 1,000 adults, with a margin of error of about 4 points.

GOP - From Greatness To Idiocy

Political Cartoon is by Pat Bagley in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Presidential Job Approval Much Higher Than Congress

Here are the current job approval figures for President Obama and the U.S. Congress. The figures shown are the RealClearPolitics average of all the most recent polls for each. Note that the president is 28.9 points higher in approval than Congress -- while Congress has a 24 point higher disapproval rating than the president.


Political Cartoon is by David Horsey in the Los Angeles Times.

64% Of Americans Drink Either Beer, Wine, Or Liquor

The Gallup Poll has released its latest survey on alcohol use in the United States. The survey was done between July 8th and 12th of a random national sample of 1,009 adults, and has a margin of error of 4 points.

It should come as no surprise that beer remains the most popular alcoholic drink of those who use alcohol in this country. Beer is the choice of 42% of drinkers, while wine is second with 34%, and liquor has 21%.

What did somewhat surprise me are the groups that do the most drinking. I had assumed that urban-dwellers, young people, Southerners, those with the least income, and those with the least education would be the groups with the highest percentage of drinkers. I was wrong. That is just the opposite of the truth. (see bottom chart).

It turns out that those living in an urban area actually drink less than those in either suburbia or in a rural area -- and those with the most education and the highest income drink significantly more than those with the least education and income. Southerners drink less than those in any other region, and young people (18 to 29) drink less than those aged 30 to 64.

It also turns out that a significant majority (64%) of Americans drink alcohol. In fact only one group had less than 52% alcohol usage --those making less than $30,000 a year (with only 45% alcohol usage). Also interesting is that Whites drink a lot more than Nonwhites (69% to 52%), and married people drink more than those unmarried (70% to 58%). Not surprising, at least to me, is that men drink more than women (69% to 59%).


Political Cartoon is by Jeff Darcy for Northeast Ohio Media Group.

More Right-Wing Lies - This Time About Income Inequality

A few days ago, I brought you a post from Robert Reich (pictured) that exposed the right-wing's lies about poverty. Now, in an excellent post on his own blog, Mr. Reich exposes the right wing lies about another subject -- the wealth/income inequality in the United States.

The right-wing, especially the congressional Republicans, tell these lies because they don't want their real constituency (the giant corporations and the rich) to have to pay their fair share in taxes, or to have to pay their employees a livable minimum wage.

Here is what Reich has to say about inequality:

Even though French economist Thomas Piketty has made an air-tight case that we’re heading toward levels of inequality not seen since the days of the nineteenth-century robber barons, right-wing conservatives haven’t stopped lying about what’s happening and what to do about it.
Herewith, the four biggest right-wing lies about inequality, followed by the truth.
Lie number one: The rich and CEOs are America’s job creators. So we dare not tax them.
The truth is the middle class and poor are the job-creators through their purchases of goods and services. If they don’t have enough purchasing power because they’re not paid enough, companies won’t create more jobs and economy won’t grow.
We’ve endured the most anemic recovery on record because most Americans don’t have enough money to get the economy out of first gear. The economy is barely growing and real wages continue to drop.
We keep having false dawns. An average of 200,000 jobs were created in the United States over the last three months, but huge numbers of Americans continue to drop out of the labor force.
Lie number two: People are paid what they’re worth in the market. So we shouldn’t tamper with pay.
The facts contradict this. CEOs who got 30 times the pay of typical workers forty years ago now get 300 times their pay not because they’ve done such a great job but because they control their compensation committees and their stock options have ballooned.
Meanwhile, most American workers earn less today than they did forty years ago, adjusted for inflation, not because they’re working less hard now but because they don’t have strong unions bargaining for them.
More than a third of all workers in the private sector were unionized forty years ago; now, fewer than 7 percent belong to a union. 
Lie number three: Anyone can make it in America with enough guts, gumption, and intelligence. So we don’t need to do anything for poor and lower-middle class kids.
The truth is we do less than nothing for poor and lower-middle class  kids. Their schools don’t have enough teachers or staff, their textbooks are outdated, they lack science labs, their school buildings are falling apart.
We’re the only rich nation to spend less educating poor kids than we do educating kids from wealthy families. 
All told, 42 percent of children born to poor families will still be in poverty as adults – a higher percent than in any other advanced nation. 
Lie number four: Increasing the minimum wage will result in fewer jobs. So we shouldn’t raise it.
In fact, studies show that increases in the minimum wage put more money in the pockets of people who will spend it – resulting in more jobs, and counteracting any negative employment effects of an increase in the minimum. 
Three of my colleagues here at the University of California at Berkeley – Arindrajit Dube, T. William Lester, and Michael Reich – have compared adjacent counties and communities across the United States, some with higher minimum wages than others but similar in every other way.
They found no loss of jobs in those with the higher minimums.
The truth is, America’s lurch toward widening inequality can be reversed. But doing so will require bold political steps.
At the least, the rich must pay higher taxes in order to pay for better-quality education for kids from poor and middle-class families. Labor unions must be strengthened, especially in lower-wage occupations, in order to give workers the bargaining power they need to get better pay. And the minimum wage must be raised. 
Don’t listen to the right-wing lies about inequality. Know the truth, and act on it. 

The Debate

Political Cartoon is by Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Attack By The Wealthy