Friday, June 17, 2016

The Moral Economy Summit

Sarah and Myself
First, I want to thank CCO for inviting myself and this group to this event in order to learn more about what is happening when it comes to policy regarding the economy not only in Kansas City but the Nation as well.  Special shout out to Micah Chrisman for getting in contact with me!


About a month ago, I was invited to go to the Moral Economy Summit hosted by Communities Creating Opportunity (CCO).  This was an event that would prelude the hearing that took place here in Kansas City regarding Payday Loans.  There were many speakers, activists, people of religion, that were there.  The main speaker that was there was Eric Liu, best known for being the Deputy Assistant to President Clinton for Domestic Policy and creating Citizens University.  I will talk more about him later.

The conference, for the most part was fantastic.  We had the opportunity to hear many different perspectives on the goal of achieving a moral economy and having a conversation with like minded people, that we should have an economy that works for everyone.

Over the course of the conference, I believe that Eric Liu spoke three times, and we had other guests that were fabulous speakers as well and had several workshops, I went to one on childhood programs and the Federal Reserve.  The overarching topic being equality of opportunity, and the issues in our community and how they affect us all, including childcare, paid family leave, payday loan interest rates, and that change in our economy must happen from the "bottom up and the middle out" (Eric Liu said that).

One thing I found very interesting was that this event took place at Rockhurst University, about a block away from my academic home, and there were not any economists invited to speak.  UMKC has one of the best economics programs in the country that actively studies these sort of things, and I was very surprised that I did not see any of my professors.  Granted, I would not think that anyone who is for a free, unregulated, individualist, market would even go to something like this and need to be swayed, but it is nice to know that there is research and data to drive home the message.  However, the anecdotal evidence and the solutions offered were great for the normal, non-economics-major person.  :)

Going back to Eric Liu, he gave some fantastic anecdotal speeches that I thought motivated the crowd that he was speaking to.  He spoke about being literate in power and how to organize your organizations to facilitate the change that we must bring about.  He also spoke about a "mass multicultural democratic republic society," which is something that for me, would be the goal in where we go.

For my second breakout session, I went to the one about the Federal Reserve and maximum employment.  This ended up being more how the Fed can control the minimum wage (which while it influences it, that is part of the legislative body's job).  This was extremely interesting and was eye opening how many people in charge of the Fed are former corporate executives or on Wall Street.

One thing that kept coming up at this conference was the massive amount of income inequality that we have in this country and how the rich have an "opportunity monopoly."  While I would say that is mostly true, I would also argue that other factors than just money influence that such as race, gender, and sexual orientation.  

The main thing that is extremely important about this is that we must persevere and keep fighting for the leveling of the playing field.  Our economy currently is not working (22% of children live in poverty in the richest country in the world.  Tell me how that works), and we must make it better for all people if we are to continue thriving in the global market.

Friday, June 10, 2016

In Light of the Political Situation [Opinion]

Author: Kadie Elmore

I want to start out by saying this is my opinion and mine alone. While other contributors may agree with me, I do not expect them to nor do I want to speak for them. With that said, I invite additional commentary from both my fellow contributors as well as readers. 


As I have tried to make clear, I have been a staunch supporter of Bernie Sanders for the duration of this 2016 presidential race. In the last few days, it has become apparent that Hillary Clinton (barring any unprecedented circumstances) will be the nominee for the Democratic Party in this 2016 election. While this comes as a disappointment to many Bernie supporters (myself included), I will, 100%, be voting for Hillary in the general election on November 8th. There are several reasons for this which I will outline below.
First and foremost, I am a progressive. In the current party system in the US, that translates to "I am a Democrat." Voting for anyone other than the Democratic candidate, at this point in time, in this country, is a vote against my beliefs.
Why is a vote for a non-Democrat a vote against my beliefs? Simple: in a Single Member Simple Plurality voting system (what we have in the US), third parties ARE NOT VIABLE. This is explained by Duverger's Law which asserts that "[Single Member Simple Plurality] elections create a strategic incentive to coalesce around two options" (Vonnahme). In this sense, voting third party is, effectively, throwing away your vote. Until we do something to change the voting system (implement instant runoff voting, for example), I will not, under any circumstance, vote third party. (Note: I do commend third party voters for actually voting--it is the single most important civic duty we as Americans have.)
Furthermore, my main goal at this point is keeping "out" racist, sexist, xenophobe Donald Trump from ever entering the Oval Office. His election to the highest office in the US would mean international embarrassment and civil unrest (he is the most disliked candidate in the history of this nation)--not to mention that if elected, the government has a very real chance of being unified Republican (that is, the President is a Republican and both the House and the Senate are majority Republican).
*Another important issue that simply must be addressed is the sexism we've seen in this election cycle. It is simply uncalled for. While it is coming from all sides, I'm very disappointed in just how much sexism we have seen from Bernie supporters, first directed at Hillary and now directed at (of all people!) Elizabeth Warren. It is uncalled for and needs to stop. Please call it out if you see it.*
So, as a Bernie supporter, I will be (silently) supporting him until he drops out of the Democratic race because he is the candidate whose views most closely align with mine. However, come the end of the convention, Hillary Clinton will have my full and unwavering (vocal) support.

Vonnahme, Greg. "Party Systems." UMKC School of Education. Kansas City. 8 Oct 2015. Lecture.

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!

"Primary Resources: The Ludlow Massacre." PBS. PBS, 2013. Web. 06 May 2016.                        <>.

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!!!