Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Immigration in the United States

I've been anxious to get a post out but haven't had time yet to write anything, so I'm posting this relevant research paper from last semester. Feedback is always welcome!
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Immigration, especially from South and Central America, has been an incredibly hot button issue for the last few years, starting during the Great Recession of 2008. Immigration laws and their lack of enforcement have certainly resulted in a situation where many undocumented immigrants work and live in the United States, but it is also an issue that has been blown way out of proportion by the media and politicians. Most mainstream media and politicians would have you believe that undocumented immigrants do nothing for the economy or are even detrimental to it which effectively brands immigrants as scapegoats for an economy that failed to recover due to the shortcomings of the government itself. In reality though, undocumented immigrants are a benefit to the US economy. In fact, undocumented workers make up about 5.2% of paid workers in the United States (Gusmano). That’s an additional 11 million people who are earning and spending money in the United States’ economy and thus bolstering the standing of the country in comparison to other economic powerhouses, especially in the wake of the Great Recession from which the United States is still feeling the effects. Undocumented workers are, overall, quite beneficial to the United States and its economy.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Chicago & Why The Minimum Wage is an Issue

So we're going to Chicago!  Right before Santa Barbara!

One thing that is really great about our students is that we have a great student organizing committee that plans and pays (not us, but we don't have to pay for anything) to take students to make their opinions known.

This is a stock photo of Chicago.  Isn't it fancy?
For this particular trip, we are protesting the McDonalds headquarters to ask that they pay their workers a living wage.

I know the minimum wage argument is a hot topic, so I will try and explain why I feel the way I do, and why I (and friends) are going to Chicago to make our voices heard about it.

So.  What is wrong with our minimum wage?  Aren't the only people who hold those jobs teenagers who haven't graduated high school yet?  They're living with their parents and don't have any expenses right?

This is an argument I hear way too often.  This to me is more of a philosophical one.  And to give a rebuttal we are going into the history of Unions.

(I'm going to paraphrase here) At the start of the industrial revolution, workers were basically property.  It was entirely legal to hire the National Gaurd and intimidate/assault/murder your employees (the Ludlow Massacre is a great example of this).  Workers didn't have any negotiation power because the law was on the side of businesses and the wealthy.  This was before the regulation of building monopolies, so men like Mr. Rockefeller could own as much of a business sector as he wanted.  So he would buy out his competition and his employees would have no one to negotiate wages with in that sector, therefore able to drive down the price of labor in that field.  (This is one of the many problems with unregulated capitalism.)  These welathy men would also basically own the town these businesses were centered in (coal mining towns); they control the cost of goods, housing, and employment.  If the workers went on strike, the businesses could levee the cost of living, basically forcing their employees to come back to work (it's either that or your family starves).  The workers were seen as easily replaceable, so the employers didn't care.  I would venture most people think this is inherently wrong.

So unions were formed, they told legislators that this was happening and that it should be illegal to murder your employees.  And unions did great things!  They still do!  They outlawed child labor, they got a minimum wage to exist, and workers rights to exist!  Just think how crappy work would be if we didn't have laws protecting the worker!  We could still have kids being pulled from school to work because the minimum wage doesn't support them being fed (it doesn't anymore, but there's government assisstance for that).

So what is wrong with our current minimum wage?  Well it simply doesn't support living.  There's also the fact that the economy has grown significantly in the past 50 years.  There is more money in our economy now than there ever has been.  So how is our money currently distributed?  Look at the graph below.  (This is from my intro to Macroeconomics class)


From one of my economics lectures.  Those are my notes on there. Citation:
Ruetschlin, Catherine. "Distribution." Macroeconomics I. University of Missouri - Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri. 28 Apr. 2016. Lecture.



So this graph should be flipped like it was a mirror image.  But technology is no bueno.  Anyway, I digress.  This graph has 5 lines, organized into quintiles.  For those not familiar with statistics, these are groups of 20% of the U.S. population.  The bottom yellow line is the income growth for the poorest people (Bottom 20% of income earners).  The Red line is what we would consider middle class (middle 20% of income earners).  That black line is the wealthy (the top 20% of income earners in the nation).  The x-axis is time in years, y-axis is money.  This graph starts in 1968 and all of the money is translated into 2014 dollars.  I repeat, this is adjusted for inflation.  As the economy grew, the wealthiest people got the bulk share of the money.  This is why we are a little peeved.




Also from an Econ lecture.  Citation:
Ruetschlin, Catherine. "Distribution." Macroeconomics I. University of Missouri - Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri. 28 Apr. 2016. Lecture.

On top of that, our labor output has increased.  We are working more efficiently, longer, and harder now.  Despite what baby boomers say, we are working exceedingly hard.  Output used to match up with what workers were compensated.  You can see from the graph above, that is no longer the case and hasn't been since the 1970s.  (Red line is compensation per hour, blue line is output per hour.)

This is why we are a little perturbed.  How can people be expected to try and live their lives, save for their kids to go to college, buy a house, and be active in the economy when they are not fairly compensated?  

As far as teenagers working these jobs and not needing this wage, I will give personal experience.  I worked in retail for about a year.  And it was awful.  You put up with mental abuse, expectations that don't match up with reality, and knowing that you most likely won't ever get a raise.  Even though you not only made it through training but sell more product than anyone save the manager in the store.  I am okay being paid a training wage, however, I should be compensated fairly for what I do.  And the shit I have to put up with.  I now work in the restaurant industry.  There I not only have to put up with iffy managers, but customer's demands that I can not say no to.  Customers fishing for a free meal, and who are frankly just awful people.  And I get paid about $3.75 an hour (avg between both jobs), that's where when people say "I live off my tips" that is entirely true.  On top of that, you are subject to slipping (all the time), burns, and not ever getting enough sleep.  I personally think I should be compensated fairly for the work I do and the shit I put up with.

So, we are going to the headquarters of one of the worst offenders, and protesting.  We will post updates here as we get them.  Make sure you follow us on social media!  Buttons are above!

Thanks for the read!
-Rachel

Sources
"Primary Resources: The Ludlow Massacre." PBS. PBS, 2013. Web. 06 May 2016.                        <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/primary-resources/rockefellers-ludlow/>.

Ruetschlin, Catherine. "Distribution." Macroeconomics I. University of Missouri - Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri. 28 Apr. 2016. Lecture.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Intro

Hey everyone!

I promised a blogish type of thing so here it is!!!

This is most of us.  We have more people, we all have
conflicting schedules though.
So who are we?  We are a group from Kansas City and have been campaigning primarily for Bernie Sanders.  We have been canvassing in Des Moines, Kansas City, and some of us went into Kansas before their caucus.  We are students from around the city, but most of us go to the University of Missouri - Kansas City.  We are starting to set our sights further down the road after the election and continue our efforts to make our country the shining star we know it can be.

As for me, my name is Rachel and I am currently a sophomore student going after a degree in Economics with (most likely) a minor in Mathematics.  I am a waitress at two local restaurants to pay the bills and I do this kind of stuff in whatever free time I have.  :)  I graduated from a high school in the 'burbs and have a brother, another sibling on the way, and two dogs.  That's my life in a nutshell. :)

This is one of the dogs, Champ
This is one of the dogs, Wrigley
There are currently 3 other writers: Kadie, Sarah, and Alex.  All of them have their stories and I'll let them tell them.

On to why we started this in the first place.

So our next adventure is when school gets out, go to California to canvass before their primary.  A lot like what we did in Iowa, but longer road trip and more planning required.  Since we are all students, and none of us swimming in money, we decided to just ask if other people wanted to help.  We didn't think that many people would, but something is better than nothing.  So we started a gofundme campaign.  (If you haven't donated and would like to please donate here.)  It's doing far better than we thought it would.  Like, way better.  We actually had to increase our goal to what we think our costs will be instead of what we thought we were going to get.  So all good things :)

We wanted to start chronicling what we are doing to keep people in the loop.  Talk about our perspectives on issues, and things we learn in our classes.  Maybe more than that, but we will see.

For rules, I am all for polite discourse.  But if you threaten, are mean to, or just over the top rude, to anyone, your comment will be removed and if we can, we will limit your privileges on here.

Anyway, thanks for reading!!! Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for all of the latest updates!!!

-Rachel