It’s been quite the week. Four landmark Supreme Court decisions, a dramatic filibuster on the floor of the Texas Senate, more revelations about the NSA spying on Americans, and a U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts. Century fellows, bloggers, and interns threw their own metaphorical hats into the ring as well. This week’s five most popular blog posts cover inequality, inequality, secrecy, inequality and…inequality. I sense a theme.
Read our musings and solutions, linked below…
1. “Brazil’s Protests over Transit Fare Hikes Illustrate the Dangers of Income Inequality”
Jake Anbinder argues that São Paulo’s transit protests highlight some of the deep structural inequalities in Brazil’s economy. When the city’s bus service announced a nine-cent increase in fare, a million Brazilians in 100 cities banded together to protest the change. The fare hike, these residents know, speaks to the ways in which lower-class Brazilians are placed at a disadvantage: a paulistana who earns minimum wage and rides the bus 12 times weekly will devote a quarter of her annual income to transport.
2. “Democrats Need to Get Serious About Raising Taxes on the Rich”
Andrew Fieldhouse champions high top tax rates, in response to skeptics like Ezra Klein who say the approach is infeasible. The rich like their easy tax codes, Klein says, and “they will fight to keep them.” But should the status quo dictate our political ambitions? According to Fieldhouse, high top tax rates—though not necessarily popular—must be considered as one way to move past plutocrats’ unfair policies.
3. “The Biggest Trade Agreement You’ve Never Heard Of”
This week in government secrecy…the U.S. works on a sweeping trade agreement, now in its eighteenth round of negotiations, and some Congressmen know some details. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is huge, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) says, “But I’m not allowed to tell you why!” Will we learn why the pending agreement is “a punch in the face to the middle class of America”? Will the House of Representatives at last speak with those whom it’s meant to represent? Only time will tell.
4. “A Fortress with No Soldiers: The Limited Effectiveness of ‘Fortress Unionism’ in the South”
Richard Yeselson recently laid out his vision of “fortress unionism”—an approach towards unions that asks unorganized workers to make proactive demands. As Douglas Williams observes, this lax method is ill suited for labor in the South, the country’s fastest-growing region: because Southern union density is extraordinarily low, workers aren’t likely demand collective solutions on their own. By including workers in coalition work and alt-labor organizations, Williams says, we can make labor engagement more appealing and more likely. Plus: check out TCF fellow Moshe Marvit’s response to Yeselson–one of our top pieces from two weeks back.
5. “Racial Equality in the U.S. Is Still a Dream”
Mike Cassidy takes the Supreme Court to task for invalidating a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. While the Court justified its ruling on the grounds that “current needs” do not call for “extraordinary measures” against voter suppression, research has it otherwise: as professors from UC-Davis and UConn confirm, geographical patterns of racism match the VRA’s originally covered jurisdictions. With inequality in America so glaringly obvious today—with a whole host of social gaps, from education to health to housing—how can the Supreme Court dismiss the Voting Rights Act as mere history?